Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent

TW: Mild themes of child sexual abuse and sexuality

MIRIAM: Just a few minutes after leaving the neighborhood pool, the summer sun had already dried my bare shoulders, but I still smelled the chlorine from the pool water on my skin and in my hair.  I trailed home with other children ahead and behind me as we passed the local gas station. The moment that I neared the station’s payphone, it rang. At seven-years old, I loved to answer phones, so I hopped to it and answered the ring.

The caller on the line did not ask for someone else, he just started talking to me. He asked me to say something. The words he asked me to say were strange, but I said them. He asked me to say them again. I did. After a few times, I decided the man sounded unpleasant, and I hung up the phone. Continue reading “Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent”

Thank You For Your Criticism

MIRIAM: When my second daughter was three years old, she answered the door to a friend I served with at church. A few minutes later when we were alone, my friend joked that my daughter was going to be a challenge as she got older. I laughed. Her observation was already being confirmed. This child was determined, extremely observant, and fearless. When she was five years old, we lived in a small apartment complex surrounding a playground where she and the other kids would play. One day I was checking on her and her older siblings from the third story window. I didn’t see her. “Hi Mom!” rang to my ears. It was my girl, but, where was she? The sound seemed strange. I kept looking and realized why the sound was strange. She was calling to me at eye-level from the tree she had climbed! Did I mention I was on the third floor? Continue reading “Thank You For Your Criticism”

When Ten Billion Roads Converge

MIRIAM: Sometimes it’s just too much.

Our family’s kitchen has two entrances, and the traffic between them is often busy, seeing as many of us pick through leftovers and prepare our own meals. It was one of those soul-tired, spirit-weary days when I had no fresh cooking planned. So when my oldest daughter asked me to make her favorite dish of roasted potatoes and onions, I could feel my universe starting to collapse onto me.

It had been a hard year, one of the hardest in my life. The last few months had tested my courage for the future of my marriage.  I felt like I was walking alone, without my husband.  He was there, but I didn’t feel him with me. The emotional distance between us felt like a cold weight pressing constantly on my chest.

It had been a difficult week, full of all the normal busy stuff and work drudgery, but it had also been traumatic for people I loved. I had spent days trying to help the traumatized. Yet those who caused the pain were resistant to the cries of the wounded, and I felt thoroughly discouraged. The world felt dark and suffocating, and my daughter wanted me to cook on the one night I thought cooking would kill me. Continue reading “When Ten Billion Roads Converge”

Claiming Individual Worth

MIRIAM: Sandy kept delicate glass-blown unicorns on her dresser. The walls of her room were covered in horse posters, and her white metal-framed daybed was adorned with a life-size unicorn print. To me, another twelve-year-old, this was heaven. Beside her very own bedroom and its luxuries, the turmoil of a barely functioning family overwhelmed their effect. Continue reading “Claiming Individual Worth”