Monday, February 10, 2014

When Love Looks Like Placenta Smoothies and Dog Poop

We managed to get all the littles to sleep a little early last night and spent some time cuddling and talking together. I asked him if he had anything planned for Valentine's day, for us or as a family and he was disappointed in himself for not remembering, and went on to discuss his shortcomings in parenting. It made me realize that fathers can feel really worried about doing enough and in different ways from the SAHM role.

You know, I see a lot of inspiring and supportive articles in my newsfeed for mamas. I saw some great reminders over Christmas for example, that warned mothers to say no to too many commitments and to focus on simplicity and being present. I see uplifting images and quotes inspiring us to keep going even if we feel we're not doing enough or we're not the perfect mothers.

I wanted to email them to him but many of the talking points don't apply to a WOHD who isn't pregnant or lactating lol. I just wish he could see himself, and see how amazingly hard he works. I want him to realize that it's not about the big things. I can see his dedication and love in the little details. Like the way he lights up when he finds out we're having a baby.

The way he sets out his work clothes on the couch the night before and dresses out there so he doesn't disturb sleeping kids.

The way he takes the trash with him on his way out so that I don't have to deal with it.

The way he wakes up a few minutes earlier and leaves sooner so he can clean snow off my van.

The way he listens to my ideas about frugality and eco living.

The way he cleans up after birth, and cleans the placenta and makes placenta smoothies.

The way he leaves the last snack on the shelf for me even though he's the one who needs it during his grueling work day.

The way he silently does the dishes every evening.

The way gets home from work and immediately jumps in to help, even though transitions are hard and he deserves a break.

The way he traces my stretch marks with his fingers and says they're amazing.

The way he agreed to cloth diapering even though he was tired of years of cloth diapering growing up in a big family.

When he knows which cup each child wants and takes the time to line them up at a meal.

When he studies environmental concerns ruthlessly to protect his family.

When he gets down on the floor and builds block castles with the kids.

When he takes the time to make each child feel special and to be there.

When he designed his learning time lessons and blew my homeschooling themes out of the water with such activities as building a computer and exploring robotics.

When he's had a bad day, and he's tired and worn out but takes the kids to a jump house and tells me to go hang out with girlfriends.

When he patiently listens to me describe baby poop details over the phone at work. And has input.

When he volunteers to clean up the dog diarrhea, vomit, chewed up toys...

(I'll spare you the details.)
When he stares at my boobs, then asks how the letdowns are feeling.

Every time he makes it to church on Sunday even though it's using up his lunch break, and he swoops in to grab DS2 at just the right moment before toddler meltdown.

Every time the kids test his patience with squabbling and he doles out hugs and guides them.

Every time a kid has tired legs and he carries them.

Each time I've kneeled in the birth pool and cried that I can't, and he said that I can.

And then his look of instant adoration when he catches them.

His way of wrestling with the boys.

His ability to listen to DD's never ending dialogue.

His electronic knowledge to combat my electronic chaos.

His way of making grilled cheese sandwiches gourmet.

His way of being playful and joining in the fun with the kids.

How he never forgets to lock the van.

How he takes the time to chase rabbits with the kids.

How he patiently helped me get out of bed, get dressed, shower, etc when I had bad sciatic pain during pregnancy.

How he installed a new carseat, then went back out to double check that it was installed correctly.

How he tucked the baby into his shirt when he forgot to wear the ergo.

If only he could realize that he does so well as a dad, and that it's ok to live simply and to be boring because in the end, those moments he spent playing dress up or trying out DD's new cake pop machine are way more important than dressing up in expensive clothing and going to a fancy restaurant.

The times spent out in the woods looking at trees and flowers are more fulfilling than remembering to bring me a bouquet. His concern about our health and wellbeing is better than buying me a bar of organic chocolate. His voice as he sings to the kids at night is more wonderful than any holiday card.

Dads, if you are caught up in a feeling of insecurity, worrying that you aren't good enough as a father or partner...go home to your family and be there for them. Be present in the little moments. Cook together. Set up a marioland obstacle course with pillows. Hug your partner and hold the baby while she takes a bath. You are more valuable to your family than you think. Don't try to find big, amazing things to do; be there in the moment and love them in all the little ways.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jewish Canadian Family Bypasses Circumcision for a Brit Shalom

Jewish Canadian Family Bypasses Circumcision for a Brit Shalom

Shawn Stark tells the story of his son's Brit Shalom ceremony, a baby welcoming ceremony without circumcision.
Rabbi David Mivasair blesses a Jewish boy as part of his Brit Shalom, on his 8th day after his birth. Instead of a circumcision, his family choose a Brit Shalom, a symbolic Jewish covenant naming and welcoming.

Rabbi David Mivasair blesses a Jewish boy as part of his Brit Shalom, on his 8th day after his birth. Instead of a circumcision, his family choose a Brit Shalom, a symbolic Jewish covenant naming and welcoming. 
"I've done two Bris Shalom ceremonies so far. Both the families deeply appreciated it. The young parents were most grateful. The older grandparents were skeptical at first but then also truly grateful. For the second one, we anointed the child with olive oil, with different family members anointing and blessing different parts of his body and his being. It was quite beautiful."
Rabbi David Mivasair, Vancouver, Canada.
This article is an excerpt from Following Our Hearts: A Father's Brit Shalom Journey, originally published Reprinted with permission.

Following Our Hearts: A Father's Brit Shalom Journey


Just as I was feeling defeated, I found a website that lists over 100 rabbis and celebrants who perform brit shalom, an alternative to brit milah. (Brit shalom contains the symbolic elements of the covenant ceremony, but without circumcision.) At the time, there was only one rabbi listed for all of British Columbia… but he just so happened to be in my city, Vancouver! I later discovered his name had been added about three weeks before I’d found it. I believe this was the universe rewarding us for following our hearts.

I connected with Rabbi David Mivasair in such a deep, meaningful way. I grew up going to Jewish school, attending synagogue--and yet I had never met a rabbi whose words inspired me the way his did. If I wasn't convinced before that we had made the right decision, I was now.

After meeting with the rabbi three or four times, it came time for the ceremony. On the eighth day of my son Kai's life, we had a ceremony across the street from our house, right by the Pacific ocean. We had our good friend playing guitar while we all sang in Hebrew. Rabbi Mivasair explained to everyone the meaning behind what we were doing in an eloquent and meaningful way.

Instead of circumcising our son, Amari and I decided that each member of our immediate family would bless a part of Kai with olive oil. I blessed his bicep and explained it was so he would have the strength to stay true to his beliefs, to who he was. My wife blessed his heart, wishing him to be full of love for everything and everyone. Each member of our family had an opportunity.

The service concluded with the whole group gathering behind us. Kai was in the front, Amari and I behind him touching his shoulders, and everyone behind us touching the person’s shoulders in front of them. We said a blessing, with the group energy passing and growing from hands to shoulders all the way to Kai.
Kai is now five months old and Amari and I couldn't be happier with our decision. We encourage everyone to do their research and follow their hearts. You can never go wrong doing that.

Shawn Stark grew up in a Jewish community in a suburb of Montreal, Canada, where he attended Jewish elementary school. He later moved to Vancouver. He met his wife, Amari, at a wedding in Montreal and she moved from London to Vancouver seven months later. They currently live in Vancouver, living on the beach and loving life.  

Jewish Intactivism - A Male Human Rights Movement!

Peaceful Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents. 
Worldwide list of over 50 Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming Ceremony
Brit B'lee Milah Ceremony
A Brit Shalom Ceremony
Norm Cohen: A Brit B’lee Milah Ceremony

Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact.
Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son | Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Rabbi Steven Blane: Bris Shalom Symbolic Ceremony
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? | Envisioning an Intactivist Judaism..
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin | Published in Tikkun. 
Sarah Rockwell: Lucking Into Bris Shalom | Published on Beyond the Bris.
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision | A Jewish Childbirth Educator keeps her sons intact.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin | Published in Mothering Magazine.
Intact & Jewish | Published on the Natural Parents Network.
The Naming | Published on Very, Very Fine
Diane Targovnik: How "Cut" Saved My Son's Foreskin : A Movie Review | Published on Beyond the Bris.
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). |  Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.
Brit Milah: Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics? | Written by a Jewish parent.

Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights.
Judaism, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 1.
Judaism, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 2.
Judaism, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 3.