Parenting Moments

I had a few milestones today with the kids that I wanted to document. The first one is, Penny turned 3 today! It was so fun to see her and Macy playing in the Columbia River tonight at the same exact spot we took our family/maternity pictures 2 weeks before she was born. Macy was only 5 then. Watching them interact just reminded me how quickly time goes on and how incredibly grateful I am that we added to our family 3 years ago. For those of you who don't know, we had another kid because I was totally not done after having one. And I didn't get pregnant again for a long time (hence the 5 year age difference). Tim was totally satisfied with one kid and I was not remotely satisfied. I was so in love with Macy and just knew I wanted another child. Then came Penny. Just such a magical little creature. She was such a perfect little newborn baby, great at nursing and very happy to be worn by mommy. It was bliss. Simultaneously, we were going through the biggest challenge of our family's existence - Tim's mental health crisis. It was such a strange mix of joy, fear, trauma and deep satisfaction. That health setback allowed our family to face our "stuff" in therapy and learn how to really love and care for ourselves as individuals. We were held up by our community in a real way during that time and I honestly don't know what we would have done without our family and friends. It's crazy to think what our lives would be like if I hadn't been so desperate for a second child. All of our lives would be on a completely different path. Not just because we would be missing the entire incredible element of Penny's existence, but also because it was her birth and the subsequent adjustment to it that forced us all to grow in such deep ways. At first, I felt guilty about how difficult of an adjustment it was for all of us, knowing that I was by far the impetus for such a change. And yet, we owe Penny a huge debt. Her birth and her existence has made us what we have become. I will always be grateful for that. I have this weird sixth sense when it comes to discernment and I'm so glad I've learned to fully tune in to my gut. I knew we weren't complete. And now we are. Thank God for Penelope Jin-Ok Sibley.
The other big thing that happened today was that Tim and I had to make good on a big, looming consequence for Macy. I won't disclose what she's been struggling with behaviorally, but it's an integrity issue that Tim and I have gone around and around with her about. We finally put the biggest thing we could think of on the line. And unfortunately, with full knowledge of the consequences, Macy made her decision today. It was crushing, just awful. So she will not be participating in Journey Theater this fall. No classes. No show. I'm really disappointed because it means the world to her. It had become something we enjoyed together and I'm feeling that loss personally too. It's so important to us to raise a child of integrity that we are willing to allow her to face the biggest consequence we can imagine (based on her priorities) to teach her this valuable lesson. Sometimes being a parent really hurts. But I know deep in my heart that we're doing the right thing. It's so critical for children to learn to take responsibility for their choices and to have natural consequences for those choices play out. Thankfully, I feel no struggle about the actual decision because we literally had no choice. Sometimes your child's choices back you into a corner and not following through is truly bad parenting. We offered her grace. We corrected misunderstandings. We explained things clearly. And she made her choice. I could see her processing and trying to keep her chin up but I knew it as soon as she started shame-spiraling. I saw her internalize her mistake "I was bad" and then projecting the loss as inevitable "I wouldn't have gotten a part anyway (in the play)". Gratefully, I can read her like a book and I immediately spoke into that place. "You're a wonderful child. You made a bad decision." And I provided empathy "I'm so sorry you're having to lose this. It's really sad." I held her for a long time while I watched her process her thoughts and feelings. When I felt tempted to renege, I remembered the parents of the Stanford rapist, who raised a young man without empathy, self-awareness and the ability to take responsibility for reprehensible choices. God knows where his victim would be if they had put his choices and subsequent consequences in his hands early on. Rather, they continue to behave as if rape is accidental, understandable and preventable with sobriety. I hate to provide consequences and yet, I must. For society's sake and for my child's sake. Ugh.