Category Archives: parenting

I’ll For My Children ~ Poetry Challenge 2015

'Mother and Child Reading,' Mary Cassett

‘Mother and Child Reading,’ Mary Cassett

I’ll not be perfect

I’ll make mistakes

I’ll tell you the truth

I’ll always love you, my children

I’ll always be human

I’ll try to recognize my faults and improve

I’ll try to be true to myself

I’ll try to do what I know best

I’ll try to give you better

I’ll try to find balance

I’ll always comfort you

I’ll lose it

I’ll hug you when you’re sad

I’ll protect you

I’ll let you down sometimes

I’ll be your hero at least once

I’ll learn as I go

I’ll try to teach you what I know

I’ll get frustrated

I’ll forgive you

I’ll let you mess up and then we’ll talk about the right way

I’ll lose my way

I’ll make sure we figure it out together

I’ll let you figure out what’s right for you

I’ll let you get away with things

I’ll make you hate me sometimes for your own good

I’ll always be your Mom first

*This poem is part of my 2015 Poetry Prompt Challenge, if you want to play along, join in, do the prompts and I’ll post your link on my blog. Today’s prompt is “Write a Poem that begins with a proclamation.” I decided to take it to the next level and make all the lines a proclamation.

 

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Do We Over Sugar-Coat To our Kids?

The other day I went to the zoo with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. They’re mostly 1st graders.

We were in a huddled group together enjoying a snack, basking in the sun. Girls gnawing on pre-packed cookies and conversing about reptiles. One girl mentioned a certain white snake in the reptile house- to which a parent responded that the snake “went away.” I really absent-mindedly didn’t realize they were trying to gloss over the fact that the snake had died the year before. Did not cross my mind.

“He died I replied.” I really thought the other parent just wasn’t aware of what happened and didn’t think anything, anything at all of my instant response.

She, the other parent, scolded me for not sugar-coating or essentially lying aboutsugarworms the death of the snake. Not a beloved household pet mind you.

I don’t think I am an insensitive person, but I often feel an obligation/duty/ philosophy/interest in telling and explaining the truth in most (when I deem appropriate) situations.

I’ve introduced the concept of death to all my children. We’ve said goodbye as a family to friends and relatives and pets. I’ve never told them the “gone away” cover-up. I’ve explained that people we’ve known were all done living, answered questions and so forth. We’ve shared sad situations and cried together as a family.

The whole situation made me step back and think- am I insensitive? Should I have not told a group of 6/7 year olds (that were not mine) that an animal had died? The girls hadn’t really thought twice about what I had said in that moment, or at least nobody but the grownups had blinked an eye. Do we sugar-coat life experiences too much for our kids? Am I desensitizing my children to not value life? What do you think? What would you have done/what have you done in similar situations?

I’m Not A Perfect Mom, But I Play One On The Internet

I am told all the time that I am a great mom by people who don’t even see me mother. They see a version of me that I post online.

Probably most of what I post, or what anyone posts are the highlight reel or sometimes the gag reel. The funny, the cute, the carefully angled photographs or Instagramed shots of the kids playing and ever-smiling in-between cropped out stacks of laundry and dirty dishes. A smidgen of what is going on.

I often go to bed feeling bummed about what I hadn’t accomplished each day. Yes, the mother you call great feels like they can’t possibly measure up. I feel like I’m failing my kids when I am not the faultless mom who can compare to the perfectness that is going on with everyone else’s lives. Who, if I think about it, no doubt is only posting their very own highlight reels and greatest hits of what’s going on in their own lives. Even though I know that, I can’t help shake the feeling of inadequacy. I don’t pinterest the most amazing things for them to do, I let them play video games to unwind, and whatever I do, I’m not ever doing enough. It’s akin to thumbing through fashion magazines and wondering why we can’t look like that. We know they’re airbrushed, but something in our heads still tells us we should strive to achieve that physique.

There’s just this weird disconnect between what we do, what we say we do, what others see, what they believe we are up to and reality.

Reality is I do my best. I am not perfect. I feel like I screw things up all the time. Actually I know I screw things up all the time. I know deep down, or at least I need to convince myself that I’m not really that bad if I just shut out all the excess noise. The blah blah blah blog posts about what you should and should not be doing, how what you’re doing is too much, not enough, not mom enough, damaging and inadequate. It’s impossible not to internalize that guilt that ends up weighing us down. It’s a vicious cycle of swallowing the inadequacy pill and regurgitating our very own version of a false sense of perfection that we all fall victim to. My kids love me anyway. And in the end I hope that I was enough.

perfect

Raising The Entitlement Generation

entitlement-cartoon

More and more I feel like we all have this overwhelming sense of entitlement. You, me, our children; we are all guilty. We think we ought to get the best service, the best products, the best treatment, all our dreams are supposed to come true, big companies need to give to our causes, and so on and so forth. It’s an underlying theme that is lurking within our government, our schools, our wallets, our relationships, our jobs, our fundraisers, our businesses and our homes. Not only do we need what we want, but we covet, deserve and demand we get it or else. No sacrifices necessary.

“Never second best.”

“Not on my watch.”

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

“It’s our party we can do what we want.”

There’s an immense sense that we can be crappy people and we deserve to be rewarded anyway.

Is it because retail is so competitive in this country that customer service often goes above and beyond (even when it equals a loss to the company)? Do we walk into [insert popular grocer here] and expect there to be a cart-boy at our every beck and call when we snap our fingers? Is it because buying beyond our means on credit is a societal norm? Is it because parents are given a major guilt trip à la “mommy wars” style when they don’t give into their child’s every need regardless of the hardship it poses on them? Is everything so disposable that we can abandon effort and still expect to be rewarded? Do we expect that big biz owes us “X” amount of their profits? Has donation-culture given us an expectation of what is deserved and demanded? Is it because we are told the American Dream is not only ours for the taking, but ours by a God-given right? In a yes-man/YOLO society, is the word “no” becoming unfamiliar and uncomfortable? In a world where anything is possible and everything is right at our fingertips do we expect everything to come directly to our fingertips extremely easy? When we’re told we can be anything when we grow up, do we demand that we get to do exactly what we want without restriction and/or without sacrifice and dedication? When we are raised to question everything, do we never learn to be satisfied with the undesirable answers?

So much of this revolves around the way we treat people whom we perceive to be “below us.” It also revolves around the way we won’t stand for being talked down to. Those two statements seem contradictory side by side, but I believe they co-exist somehow. No one wants to be the one on the bottom rung, but we’re more than happy to treat those we consider beneath us poorly and those above us like they owe us something.

A few things play into why this might be happening.

Our on-demand culture is making us impatient. How dare we ever have to wait for anything? It’s unacceptable.

We’re used to getting enraged about a mass amount of topics with limited knowledge on a particular subject; rinse, recycle, and repeat. We live in a 30 second sound bite meme world. Media included. There’s a flood of sob-story sound-bites out there on how life is so unfair, when there’s a usually a piece to the puzzle we don’t know and don’t care or have time to investigate the bigger picture. Our social media feeds are a constant overflow of urban legends where everyone is a victim and no one is at fault. We primarily don’t understand laws, regulations, and don’t want to see the other side to an argument nor do we care. We want “justice,” we want it now and we don’t demand logic and deeper research while seeking it.

I also think a lot of this has to do with our consumer culture. We love to surround ourselves with “stuff.” We are used to demanding that “the customer is always right.” Demanding a customer style status bleeds over into everything we consume. We feel like it’s necessary to tell media persons, weather forecasters, police officers, and everyone else from teachers to the president that they are doing it wrong and they need to fall over themselves to please us. The President can’t even eat mustard on his hamburger without being told he’s turning his back on the American people. He needs to do it our way or else. We (think we) are entitled to being appeased.

We love shortcuts: why learn to spell when you have autocorrect; why learn directions when GPS can lead the way, why read a book when we can skim the cliff notes?

“Life isn’t fair,” was a common phrase I heard as a child. The current generation is hell-bent on proving their parents were wrong. We think we’re entitled to life being fair. Not only that, but to go one step further, it’s an oyster waiting to be deposited directly into our fingertips.

When our parents were young their teachers and principals probably hit them on the knuckles with a ruler or they sat in the corner wearing a dunce cap, and at home a belt across the rear was commonplace. Manual labor was common. Children called their parent’s friends by their last name only; they were seen and not heard without exception.

Let me be clear, this is not ideal nor would I advocate for the return of this. Fact is: child-rearing was different. There’s been a shift in the way we treat and raise our children; and even if for good reason, that doesn’t mean the outcomes is one-dimensional or an all out win.

Some of that stern-parenting gradually trickled away as we (my generation) grew up. Children had a place and learned respect, but it wasn’t like the old days where kids were treated like second class citizens. And now, today, we see a total shift in that notion where parents are often defending their children against teachers and their superiors. We live in a sue-nation where we bring lawsuits at the drop of a hat. We believe we deserve to be compensated when we are not happy. We also use social media and threats of going to the news media as leverage to get what we want. We play off the fear of exposure of our opposition to demand satisfaction.  We feel it is our job to expose and call out every single misstep that people, corporations, etc. make. We also just don’t teach our children that they have to concede themselves to respect anyone, and with this, a part of ingrained politeness fades.

Also with the shift in smaller family sizes, our lives are more centered or revolve around our kids and instead of them being a part of the picture, they ARE the entire picture. Parents are encouraged more and more to compromise their lives to provide for their kids. Parenting is now a competitive sport and our kids are our pawns in the game of ‘I did it best.’

I remember when I was younger; the way we played was different from it is now. Our playmates were other kids, while our mother’s role wasn’t to primarily indulge our every whim. There’s been a shift in the expectations of a parent today. WE are now expected to be our child’s primary playmate, cheerleader, indulger, etc. The expectations also include providing for them for a longer period. It’s more commonplace to pay for their college education, their healthcare, etc. while they live at home until well into their 20’s and beyond figuring out what their careers are going to be, while 50 years ago people in their low 20’s would’ve been married or well into a career and expecting kids of their own. Today the average age of first marriages is in our late 20’s, (28 for men & 26+ for women) the oldest it’s ever been in history. Our nation also has stricter labor laws and regulations today than ever pertaining to child labor, which yes, of course is a good thing, but it also delays responsibility until later in life. Manual labor isn’t as common and regarded as a second rate employment. We have thousands of jobs in this country that are unfilled because we believe we are just too good to do them. Whether or not this shift is a good thing, is a moot point. It still has consequences. Regardless of the necessity to change our lives, it remains that there are costs to this shift in how we live in that our attitudes and expectations are just different. Somewhere we got lost in that shift and that happy-medium place slipped between our fingertips. We value responsibility, but have failed to create situations for our children that teach them or rather demand of them to be accountable. I like the quote, “If we know better, then we do better.” Life in many ways is better, but we’ve forgotten to make up for the lost skills that are a result of living better, more convenient lives.

There’s something in our culture that we all subscribe to that makes every one of us believe that we deserve the best regardless of what other beings or companies have earned or who our expectation’s stomp on. And part of that is the fact that biz businesses have earned their profits on the backs of others. That’s a crappy thing, but our pushback to all the injustice in the world contributes to feeding our entitlement. “They can’t get away with this” is our adage. And I do agree, we shouldn’t let the big guy get away with it. We should demand better treatment. But more and more we’ve crossed the line between vying for our rights and our engrained sense of entitlement.

I should also add that I do believe in Government subsidies. I believe that the poor should get assistance, the feeble need help and those down on their luck need a lift. I don’t subscribe that entitlement is a poor problem, but more of a wide-sweeping way of thinking that is poisoning our lives.

Entitlement3

What Stay At Home Moms Do When Their Husbands Go Away On Buisness

Last week my husband went on a business trip to Vegas for 5 days leaving me and the kids to fend for ourselves. He claims it wasn’t a “vacation,” but I consider anything that doesn’t involve wiping nonstop snotty noses and getting up to get someone their milk 600 times a day a retreat from life and I’m jealous.

Don’t worry, I made sure to live it up at home and partied like a momstar, which basically equals to more wearing pajamas and less doing laundry.

Here’s what I did all week:

Full Remote Control!

mine! mine! mine!

mine! mine! mine!

My husband has a sixth sense for finding any movie with aliens or zombies in it. He also has this terrible joy for finding movies that we own on HBO and watching them from the middle. If I don’t start watching it from scene one, I don’t see the point. When he was gone I had a Charlie Huunam marathon (oh yes), watched Teen Mom 2 and Girls, and any other trashy show I could find. No aliens, no Shaun of the Dead. I was in my Glory.

I used all my husband’s stuff:

Also now: mine! mine! mine!

Also now: mine! mine! mine!

Let’s face it, men’s razors and socks are just made better. I wore all his stuff, used all his razors and left them all out when I was done. I’m like a bad college roommate, and I don’t even feel bad.

Shoveled The Driveway:

This is what it felt like.

This is what it felt like.

The week he leaves it decided to show everyday, several times a day with extra wind and ice. Feminism or not, I really just want a man to shovel the driveway. Go home Polar Vortex, I’m not impressed.

Let the laundry pile up:

Not even once

Not even once

I figured I could use the hectic time with the kids running amuck and me all by myself as a good excuse to let the laundry sit in the baskets not even trying to be folded. This sounds legit, right?!

Put the kids to bed on time:

I'm good at being bossy

I’m good at being bossy

My husband’s 1) a pushover and 2) when he gets home from work it’s like toddlers gone wild here. They take his walking into the house to run around like wild animals with no zoo trainer. When I’m by myself we do everything on my schedule. kids go straight to bed at 8, no exceptions. Plus, I have a television to dominate.

Locked all the doors:

Kevin McCallister has nothing on me

Kevin McCallister has nothing on me

As soon as my husband walks out the door, all of a sudden every creak in the house could be a team of burglars trying to get me. I locked all the doors, checked them twice and randomly left Legos and toys with wheels all over the floor just in case.

 

Despite the fact that I got to sleep in the middle of the bed all week, not stay up at night listening to snoring and got to watch all my shows I was SO ready for him to come home by the end of the week. To show my appreciation of his return, I made sure to give him a warm welcome. And by warm welcome, I mean: I made an extra effort to sleep in the next morning after he got home and pretended not to hear the kids arguing while I played candy crush in the bathroom.

Meteors, Not Shooting Stars: Musings From The 6

When it’s time to put the kids to bed and they have me or my husband all to themselves in their rooms is usually when we finally get a quiet one on one moment and they each tell me all they know or tidbits and random highlights from the day. On this particular evening my 6 says to me in one hurried breath, “We’re learning about planets and people think shooting stars are stars, but they’re not, they’re meteors, but when they land on the ground, they’re meteorites and if you wanted to travel to the sun, you couldn’t because you’d die before you got there. Also, there’s a Mr. Bailey, did you know that?”

There’s some moments I just want to remember forever.

shooting star

Witnessing The Enchantment of Being Six

My 6 year old just discovered the enchanted mystical tool on the computer that can somehow magically add numbers together. The calculator. It’s the most tickling thing to watch her jubilantly try each combination and exclaim WOW! every time it works, clapping her hands together she says: “Mommy this is the BEST calculator ever,” as if she’s just discovered fire. Little things that we often take for granted, our children are enchanted with when they discover them for the first time.

That’s one of the best things about being a mom. The joy, the excitement the privilege of being able to watch their brains absorb the little things in real time. Knowing that the lightbulb’s just clicked on by the expressions on their faces. I love that.

I’m just enjoying this while it lasts, as she gets older, she might not get this excited about math.

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Obviously you need to wear a uniform to be in this family. Artwork also by my daughter.

This Has Got To Stop

While the American Academy of Pediatrics is fervently reminding parents to limit screen time of children and further recommends allowing zero screen time at all for kids under 2 years old, tech companies like Apple are busy creating products like this iPad apptivity seat seen here.

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This is a gross mis-invention that plays on our growing need to techify everything while at the same time we thirst for the new and improved shortcuts in life. This is both about over the top consumerism and laziness. It seems like hustle and bustle is praised while overloading our lives with things makes us too busy to hold our kids, so we hunger for inventions to plug them in to. If we can just plop our kids down and plug them into apps, the technology can raise them while we feel great about it because we get tricked into thinking they are learning something that we can’t give them like math facts at 2 months old. This is bullshit, and needs to stop. Shame on the companies that make products like this and shame on us parents for letting our kids get suckered into being obsessed about technology practically before they learn how to roll over.

Today the CCFC sent the following letter to Apple’s CEO demanding that the company end its licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad Device.

January 14, 2014

Tim Cook, CEO
Apple
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Mr. Cook,

We are writing to urge Apple to end its licensing agreement for Fisher-Price’s Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. The Apptivity Seat is a bouncy seat for an infant—with a place for an iPad directly above the baby’s face, blocking his or her view of the rest of the world. Its design encourages parents to strap down babies as young as newborns just inches from an iPad. We understand that Apple believes it is not responsible for the content of apps and videos made for its devices. Clearly Apple is responsible, however, when it grants a license to a product whose design promotes irresponsible use of iPads and is potentially harmful to infants and toddlers.

The Apptivity Seat is a greater threat to babies’ healthy development than any other screen device. Because the iPad screen is unavoidable, infants are literally a captive audience. In addition, screens can be mesmerizing and since babies are strapped down and “safely” restrained, it encourages parents to leave infants alone with the iPad for extended periods of time*. While screen media for babies is controversial, no experts endorse leaving babies as young as newborns alone with an iPad and many believe that it is harmful—depriving infants of activities and interactions proven to be crucial to learning and healthy development.

The Apptivity Seat has clearly damaged Fisher-Price’s brand. CCFC’s petition urging Fisher-Price to recall the Apptivity Seat has nearly 13,000 signatories—more than any petition we’ve hosted in our 13-year history. The Apptivity Seat has also been the focus of dozens of scathing articles and opinion pieces. In response, Fisher-Price has taken the unusual step of distancing itself from its own product by placing a disclaimer about it on its website.

Fisher-Price does not bear all of the responsibility for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. By licensing the iPad to Fisher-Price, Apple is equally responsible.

We have enclosed a copy of the petition which we sent to Fisher-Price, along with excerpts of selected comments that parents and professionals wrote on the petition. We hope you will take their concerns seriously and end your licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. We also ask that you pledge not to license the iPad or iPhone or any other Apple screen device to a product that literally makes babies a captive audience. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further.

Sincerely,

Susan Linn, EdD, Director, CCFC

Josh Golin, Associate Director, CCFC

Stop Acting Like Post Baby Weight Loss Is A Sprint Race To The Finish Line

kimkbathingsuitLord knows I love me some celebrity gossip, but I hate that this has to be a story. I don’t say that about many celebrity news at all. Kim Kardashian graces the cover of US Weekly Magazine with the headline, “My Body Is Back!.. Kim slams her bullies and gets sweet revenge.”

I’m not even against dieting per say, but I hate how the media, especially surrounding celebrity pregnancy and births and post baby bodies make weight loss after baby sounds like a rapid race to the finish line and the sooner you look like you were never pregnant in the first place, the better. It’s time to stop pretending that body change during pregnancy isn’t good and admit that bouncing back super fast isn’t always best. And at the same time start actually embracing a natural image of a pregnant woman and then a woman after they make babies.

I’ve always heard the saying 9 months on, will take 9 months to take it off. And I know being not your “normal self” after pregnancy isn’t a great feeling. It’s hard enough for women to feel sexy and happy with themselves without the pressure to lose it all at Mach speed from air brushing and celebrity garble. And let’s be honest, sometimes your body doesn’t bounce all the way back to what it was. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thumbs down to these stories being so sensationalized.

Canadian School Suppliments Kid’s Unbalanced Lunch, Internet Goes Beserk Over The Outrage

So there’s this Daycare/ School in Canada that requires parents to send in a lunch2balanced lunch daily for their children. (Horrid, I know). This is a private institution that has a strict policy to promote healthy eating habits and has a known policy to supplement children’s meals if their families fail to provide one.  Parents must send 1 milk, 1 meant, 1 grain and 2 fruits/ veggies. Again, this is a known policy, there’s contracts and flyers involved, I’m sure.

So one mom sent her children in with a homemade lunch of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, oranges and milk. She was shocked and outraged that her meal was deemed “unbalanced” and therefore had to be supplemented with Ritz crackers, and fined $10 for her misdoings. (She had 2 kids, so $5 each x2).  Now, I’m not so sure how exactly she was so shocked since there was already a known strict policy in place, but she was. And then when she took her grievances online, the world was also shocked.. but that’s not so surprising because that’s what we do best with limited knowledge anyway. And plus the date on this note says it was last December. But we also love to make random things go viral, regardless if we have limited information or not, because, again, that’s what we do best.

So it all seems so unfair because a meal of veggies fruits and beef and potatoes sound pretty darn good, and probably better than most of us will eat on a daily basis anyway, but sorry Charlie, rules are rules.

While we’re all in a tizzy over how asinine this policy may be, don’t forget that these same fascist meal-nazis are also busy providing fruits and veggies for the parents who fail to provide them for their kids as well, or also protein and milk supplements. Maybe more schools should be paying attention to what their students eat and picking up the slack for when parents drop the ball. And yes, I know Ritz Crackers aren’t the picture of perfect health, but kids do need a balance. Paleo and Atkins diets aren’t for kids anyway. Next time throw a slice of bread in there.

I’ve heard comment after comment of people yapping in protest that they’d be super pissed if their gluten-free-organic-only-non-preservative-eating-spawn was given the devils food, Ritz Crackers, of all things on this planet; but again, just think for a second that this school, like most schools in this contienent probably have health forms given to the nurse or cafeteria. Let’s just assume that they are aware of any possible gluten or dairy or peanut issues and also just for shits and giggles, let’s just assume they’d comply if there were any such issues. Let’s all just take a breather here, I am sure there are plenty of public schools in her area that would love to not care if she gave her kid Poptarts or soda, or meat and potatoes for lunch. Hell, there’s schools in our country that deny kid’s eating if they fail to bring in the correct change. My kid’s school serves donuts and Trix yogurt for breakfast and tortilla chips as a grain. Meh.