Tag Archives: Motherhood

Cards

Mother’s Day cards scare me

a little, when they proclaim

that I’m the

most marvelous mom ever,

that I might not be able

to live up to that

mom-card-cricut-gold-foil-jen-goode

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Don’t Give ‘Till it Hurts

It’s easy to feel stretched thin. The kids, the dog, work, family. Time for chores? For shampooing the rug and dusting the tippy tops of the valences? Forget it. There’s never enough time to do it all. In The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Gosh, he must’ve been a working mother in a past life, or maybe just looking on the inside my head. Or maybe it’s just a part of the human condition. How many days have you felt like you couldn’t catch up, like a hobbit on the brink of collapse?

The problem with or maybe the cause of all this is that I like saying yes. I like doing for others. It feels good. Giving, helping, accomplishing-feels pretty darn fabulous. Selfishly I like to be the person doing it all. Seeing your efforts sparkle in someone else’s eyes is priceless. That is, only if you aren’t stretched so bad you can actually take a second to see it.

Sometimes we miss it. Sometimes when you go past the point of what you can take, where the giving is painful. Times when there’s not enough of you to give.

It’s been said, “don’t give till it hurts, give till it feels good.” Most days I want to throw my hands up, but every once in a great while I can say that dammit, I did something today that was amazing.

Today I had that sort of day.

I feel lucky I got to witness a special moment of someone else’s joy. Today was a good day and the thinness didn’t feel so buttery.

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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.

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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.

Pieces of A Mother’s Heart

I just got a chance to check the contents of my son’s backpack at 10pm this evening and I find out there’s a surprise pajama day tomorrow. So I sigh as I dig through two different piles of dirty clothes to find his favorite pair. The fleecey Skylander one’s that I just recently bought for him. The one’s he jumped for joy about when he got them just because.

And then I log on line and read that a local boy, only ten years old, that accidently got trapped under a snow tunnel yesterday has died today from his injuries.

And my heart breaks. And feels guilty at the sighs I made just 5 minutes ago about silly simple tasks that scatteringly make up my life. Any mom’s life. And my heart aches for the mom of that precious ten year old boy who probably has presents already wrapped from Santa waiting to be placed under the tree that will never be unwrapped by that little child. My heart aches that instead of digging through dirty laundry to find her son a pair of pajamas to wear, she will have to sift through dirty laundry to find clothes that may never be worn again.

Life isn’t fair and life is precious and life is tragic and life doesn’t make sense sometimes.

I sit here and think about the shit things I did today. How I yelled at my son to hurry up and go to the bathroom and get ready for bed because I was tired of the day. The long day with them that some parents long for. This mom will now long for a son to dawdle in the bathroom, and long for him to talk back and run around and not want to get his teeth brushed.

I feel uncomfortable when tragedy strikes and people proclaim that they will hug their babies tight that night because you never know what could happen. Some moms won’t ever get to do that again. My stars, that breaks my heart just to pieces.

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Being A Better Parent: Ditching The Debates

There is so much debate out there on raising children. Everyone thinks they are qualified to tell you what you are doing wrong.

In the end most of the little girstuff really doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. Even maybe much of the stuff we don’t consider little stuff is okay if we don’t quite get it “right.”

It’s not going to matter if we breastfed or formula fed, whether you gave your baby a binky till he was 2, what age he was potty trained, if they had two cookies after dinner or three or if they don’t get to bed precisely on time every night. A lot of that stuff is just fine details on the path we call life.

It’s more the way you interact with your children that’s going to be lasting on them.

They can do without so much when it comes to things, but if they know love from their parents they will be better for it.

Talk with you kids.

Respect your kids.

Respect others in front of your kids.

Model behavior you wish for them to have.

Listen to your children.

Show restraint when necessary with your children.

Don’t let your hang-ups become theirs.

Hug your children and show them love.

Be a teacher to your child.

Help them, but give them the tools to help themselves.

Be a shoulder to lean on.

Guide them to make the right choices but don’t control them to the extremes.

If you question the way you act with your children, then chances are you are doing something right. If you are trying to make good decisions, then chances are, you will make the right ones for your family. Every human is born with a capacity to give and receive love; but it’s one of those things that can get taken away and damaged in the growing process. Model for your children how to nurture their ability to love instead of ensuring it crumbles to pieces.

Ditch the debates and tune into your child. Throw away the handbooks and sense what you feel is right. Time flies by so fast when we are sweating the small things in life. Put your computer/phone down right now (not because they are inherently bad, but…) go hug your babies and even your teenagers right now- they’d appreciate it and they need you.

 

Pink Is For Girls, Awesome Is For Boys

I brought the kids to the dollar store today after school to buy Valentine’s Day cards for their classes.  I probably just lost a crunchy point since the dollar store is pretty much an evil lead filled mecca. But whatevs.   Do kids still make their own Valentine’s anymore?  I bet they probably do that sort of stuff in the suburbs or charter schools, but in my 4 years of being a school ager city school mom, I’ve only seen shiny two by two-inch commercialized ones.  I think I used to make my own every year when I was a kid with doily looking things and red hearts, ’cause my mom was like a mythical supermom (side not: why is spell check trying to change supermom to superman?  I don’t think so WordPress)  who helped us build volcanoes and homemade cards for everything.  I have nowhere near that kind of patience and energy to pull off making 50 valentines.  Maybe next year.  If someone mentions Pinterest I’m going to scream.

Anyway, so we go to the dollar store and I get the awesome feeling of letting the kids go hog-wild and pick out anything they want like I’m some kind of awesome mommy big roller.  So they run through the aisles like wild hyenas and I get looks from some guy like the circus just let out and he’s never seen the likes of cooped up kids gone wild dolla’ store style.

My kids automatically gravitate towards their respective gender section of cards.  Pink and princessey for girls.  Awesome for boys.  The pink princessey ones are all a similar variation of the same thing.  Pink and mermaids.  Pink and sparkly and hearts.  Pink and Princesses.  Pink and fairies.  In this particular Dollar Store, they were all generic characters, not specific characters like Dora or Disney or whatever.  I’m not sure if those licensed characters were picked-over, or just never there?  The boys section was everything awesome.  Batman, Thor, Spider-man, a whole slew of other awesome characters  every different shade of brightly colored cool.  They also had super cool things inside of the packages like posters and tattoos and stickers, etc.

At first my daughter picked out a cutesie princessey type box, ’cause that’s what the girls are supposed to get- yuh?!  Then she saw my son ohh and ahh over the cool Thor box that came with TATTOOS!  She asked me where the girls ones were with tattoos in them because she really really wanted ones with tattoos.. um, non had them of course.  simultaneously my son is saying, you have to get a girls one, as she’s thinking of switching her choice to the Thor package.  I of course, explained that girls or boys could pick any package they wanted to, they aren’t boys or girls packages, etc, some other non-sexist jargon, etc.

So anyway, I let her get two packages of Valentine’s: one princess package and one Thor package with super awesome tattoos.  Then I let them pick anything else they wanted from the store.. my daughter picks a stuffed animal, my youngest picks some crap wrestler figure that I’m sure is lead filled and my oldest picks cheese balls.. Yay neon junk food!

Mom of the year!

Of course my husband rolls his eyes when he sees that I’m writing a girls merchandise vs. boys merchandise post.  He says the choices were sucky because I went to the dollar store.. apparently he hasn’t been to retail establishments everywhere else on the planet.

valentines cards

Top Ten Reasons Why Being A Mother Of Three Is The Best

stick figure paint

  1. You always have a good excuse to be late:  Just give that harried look and sigh.
  2. You automatically get a ‘get out of jail free card’: Well, not jail per say, but you can skirt any number of duties ’cause you’re super busy with a herd of kids romping around.
  3. Lots of hugs:  If you’re ever feeling like you haven’t gotten enough hugs for the day, just leave the house for any amount of time and when you walk back in the door you will be bombarded with cheers and squeals of delight, “yay, Mommy’s home!” like your own little welcoming parade, and more hugs that you can handle.
  4. Everyone thinks you looks great:  your body could be stretch-marked beyond repair and big huge dark bags could be sagging under your eyes and everyone always asks how you look so great with 3 kids.  A little extra pudge around the middle.. don’t sweat it, you had three kids and your body looks dam good despite that fact.
  5. Hand-Me-Downs: When you have 3 kids within 4 in a half years, you don’t even have to put the clothes they outgrow in the attic, just transfer them from one drawer to the next.  Protip: just buy a zillion unisex socks and they can be interchangeable and no matching or sorting required.
  6. Never a dull moment: silence is over-rated, at least that’s what I keep telling myself as I try to meditate in the shower. ohmmmmm– “MOMMY!!”
  7. You turn lots of heads: oh wait- that’s just in the supermarket, and those might not be wolf whistles, but gasps of shock when your kids are back-flipping from the shopping cart in the checkout line.. But you definitely can’t say that you’re not getting noticed.
  8. Superhuman senses develop: I mean, your body has already proven to do super powerful things like running on 2 hours of sleep and squirting milk at will, but you also develop a spidey type sense of smell in which you can sniff a dirty diaper from 2 floors away and see things from the eyes in the back of your head.
  9. Tax Breaks Baby:  We don’t send our kids out into the work-force and child labor is frowned upon, but we actually get some pretty sweet money back on our taxes with all these babies.
  10. More kids to keep your brain active:  I lost count of how many times I’ve had to run to Google because my kids want to know how Romano Cheese got its name or why bears have little tails or to explain in detail the science of evolution or what kind of trees we have in our backyard and why our blood is red.  Don’t let the constant “why why why” get you down, look at it as a brain building activity.  I can totally tell you all sorts of random facts that kids under ten want to know all about; I look at this as future Jeopardy Contestant training.

Sorry, I’m Not Sharing Today

I took the kids to the museum today.

Nope, I’m not going to post pictures of the entire afternoon, because I didn’t even bring my camera.

Nope, I didn’t post a Facebook Status and live-tweet the whole time about what a great time we had, because I didn’t even bring my cellphone or iPad.

Nope, I’m not blogging about what we did all day, because I enjoyed the day with the kids without thinking about how I was going to make this fit into a blog post.

Nope, I’m not going to post super-funny quotes and anecdotes about what my kids said and did all day; not because there wasn’t a bunch, but I’m going to savor those just for myself.

As I frolicked through the museum with my kids and let them lead the way, I played with them, I engaged them, I watched them from the sidelines.  I enjoyed the moment without watching them obstructed from behind a camera lens; so afraid of missing the moment that I forgot to actually enjoy the moment happening.  I didn’t sit there off in the corner like countless parents that I did see say, “yuh-huh, okay” to their excited kids as they could barely look up from what was ever so captivating on the glow of their phone screen.  I mean, I’m sure their emails and their Facebook’s and all the live-tweting about how great a time they were having “playing” with their kids was so important, but today I wasn’t going to parent from behind a screen, and I had a blast.  So did my kids.

We learn about humanity and can predict behaviors from history and from statistics and from experience.  But we don’t have statistics about what our kids will grow up like with a generation of parents who can barely look at them because their cellphones are much more important than they are.  We can’t tell from history what a society of kids will become when raised by masses of parents that can’t seem to put their cameras down to watch their kids explore a museum or play soccer without videotaping it or check texts before they check their diapers.  It’s not like our parents didn’t take pictures of us and talk on the phones, but with the ease of the mobile devices and smart-phones, it seems like it is multiplied by a thousand.  I go to my kid’s school concert and it’s like the paparazzi in the aisles don’t want to miss a move their subjects make.  Are they even listening to their kids sing?  You go to the museum and it’s not just the pictures: it’s the pictures, then it’s the reposing because that one didn’t come out great, and we have a digital camera that you can check the image, so let’s take a million, and hold on just a sec- instagram is slow.. and on and on.

This is not fun for your kids, I promise.

Sometimes it’s nice just to not bring the technology along and feel the freedom of not being interrupted by cellphone calls and posing for the perfect picture and making sure my followers know what and where we are doing and pausing to get that Foursquare check-in logged before we head over to the carousel.

I promise you, when you go to the lobby, they will have a working phone available for you in case of an emergency.  I promise you, our parent’s had things on their mind all the time, but they didn’t have to text everyone they knew about it immediately, and somehow they seemed to manage okay.  I promise you, you will remember playing with your kids even if you don’t have a flip-book full of digital pictures of your kid’s every move that you probably won’t even print out anyway.  I promise you, your kids will enjoy it when they tell you something cool and you actually respond with sincere joy and interest.

I really like the John Lennon Quote,”Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Well, it’s true.  You know what else rings, true:

“Life is what happens when you’re stuck behind your smart phone.” – Me.

 

 

The Consequences of the Internet Parenting Over-Share

The relationship we have with our children is a unique one. They are ours, but they’re not really ours, you know- we’re their guardians and their protectors. We shape them and we guide them, but we don’t really own them in the same sense that we own our other possessions. Like perhaps a CD or a book. The relationship we have with the children we raise is perhaps more like a library book than something we’ve bought and paid for. They are on loan to us until it is time for them to move on to the next autonomous stages of their lives. We are our children’s keepers, we make decisions for them, we are in charge of many of their choices until they are older. It is true that it’s up to us parents how we treat them. we choose how to raise them. We can and sometimes do make the wrong decisions. Since they do not always understand or comprehend consequences at young ages we may limit their choices or guide them towards smart ones. We generally shouldn’t do negative things that will affect them long into their adulthood. For instance, it would be wrong to falsely use their identity or ruin their credit without their knowledge before they are able to control these things themselves. They trust us long before they understand what the concept of trust actually is with their bodies and all that they are. Then when they are of age, we hope we have given them the proper tools to shape their own lives further. With this self governance comes a human right that each person then carries as they move from childhood into adulthood: it is the ability to screw up their own lives.

So now that we are in an age where technology and social media is intertwined in everything we do and we live in the age of the over-share, there comes many times all throughout our child’s lives, from the moment they are conceived, or even way before they are a twinkle in their parent’s eyes, that their digital footprint starts to be formed.

Many of us know, or should know, the Internet is forever.

Let me just repeat that real quick: the Internet is forever.

Everything you share and say and type and post is forever catalogued and most of it saved for eternity into this vast thing we call the Internet. Those tweets you posted last week, last month, last year, don’t just fall of a cliff and die, they live on and can be searched via Google forever. Ten years go by and any Internet user with half a brain can easily search whatever you have posted and said. Not only that, but different social media sites often intertwine and connect. For instance Flickr and Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter feeds can be connected with a click of a button. Technology can connect the dots with most everything you do online, even when you didn’t know they are being connected. This sort of thing is being made easier by the day. Tagging is easily enabled by advanced facial recognition programs such as the one used on Facebook. This will only get easier and more advanced each time a program is updated.

Something that seems to come very easily with our culture of the extreme Internet over-share is the phenomenon of the Internet over-parenting. Or parents over-sharing about their kids. We post our kids pictures ad nauseam and tag them along the way. Many of us doing so from the day they are conceived. It starts with the ultrasound pictures that we share with the public to enjoy. Parents may even post statuses about their journey or hardships to conceive. Then comes the birth, whether they’ve been circumcised, whether they’ve been breastfed, what abilities or disabilities they’ve faced. Then comes the potty training pictures and blow-by-blow accounts of wetting the bed at night, whether they’re a biter or poor eater or cry all night long or sucked their thumbs, have cavities or even if they were constipated when they were young. It’s like a digital flip book, all you have to do is click real fast and their lives are literally a movie on display for all to see. I’ve seen pictures of kids on toilets, videos of kids on toilets, of poopy diapers, of desperate parents pleading for help when their child is unruly, the journey to find out that they’re autistic or unmanageable or have chronic illness or that their exes won’t give them child support, or any number if things.

Cut to when your child turns 13 and they’re finally able to create their own Facebook account and they automatically get tagged by facial recognition to all of their childhood pictures. Their parents pictures are then shared immediately on their walls. Their parents and grandparents have posted hundreds upon hundreds of pictures from birth on up. The naked birth pictures, the bath pictures, the suckling their Mother’s breast pictures, the potty training pictures, the crying over this or that pictures. And they realize their digital footprint has already been over saturated beyond their own control before they even knew what the Internet was. The right to screw up or create their own digital life has already been taken away from them. Whether they wanted these images and descriptions of their every last move plastered all over the Internet, too bad, they’re there and they’re there forever.

Your child gets their first girlfriend. Well, little Suzy can just Google little Johnny’s Mom’s blog and find out if he’s circumcised or not and whether he peed the bed till he was ten or breastfed till he was five, and there are pictures along every step of the way to prove it.

Cut to college applications and little Johnny’s Mom has already posted step by step account of his mental instability. Forget Hippa laws, his complete medical history is chronicled all over his Mom’s blog or public Twitter account at no choice of his own. Remember that mother (last month) who trashed her son’s violent behavior all over the Internet and all over every morning show on TV and everyone else made it go viral? We all cheered her on as she showed us how hard it was to be his mom. What about his privacy? His struggle? His choices? He has none. His mother has the right to trash him all over the Internet apparently.

Cut to adulthood and it’s time to apply for a job. Johnny’s 24 years old and his new perspective employers have already read his parents blogs, their public Twitter and Facebook accounts, have read about whether he’s stolen candy bars when he was a teenager, learned that he’s ADHD or had behavioral problems, failed out of his first year of college, got an F on his final exam in advanced math, been arrested, and all these other things that should be private information and all of a sudden Johnny doesn’t seem like a good candidate for the job anymore. Not to mention ever be in a position where public office is even a choice, because there’s no way Johnny’s going to be elected senator when every last move and poor behavioral choice he’s ever made is on display for the world to scrutinize.

I know parenting is hard, and exciting, and its super easy to over share every last thing we do. It’s nice to have support, get advice from others. It’s nice to get virtual pats on the back from strangers, have an outlet when we’re lost and confused, depressed and frustrated. We want to share the joyous and sad moments of our lives. But we often do this with absolutely no regards as to what it does to our child’s identity and their digital footprint. They may screw it up completely when they’re older and in college, but then it’s their choice to do the things they do and what it is that they choose to share of their own identity.

The way we present ourselves on social media is a very personal choice for many different reasons. Some of us share anything and everything we know and do. Some are more reserved. Some use last names, some don’t. We can choose to use real pictures of ourselves or maybe other things for our profile pictures. Some of us choose to be very casual. Some might prefer to only present themselves in a professional light. Some only use nicknames and keep their identities a secret. If I randomly ask 5 friends I will surely get 5 different opinions on how much and in what capacity they think they should display their information to the world. The choice is ours to make. Now imagine if other people around you violated your choices and betrayed how you want to portray yourself online? Now what if you were never even given that choice and your life has been chronicled since birth openly and very candidly online? What if you were portrayed very very poorly?

Anyone else (our spouses, our parents and friends) can call it defamation of character, but since we feel like we own our children, many of us often don’t look at it in those terms.

I have surely, and in some instances regretted, over-shared many a thing in my life. I’ve discussed my children, my husband, my happiness or sadness online, but in the past several months I’ve definitely pulled back more and more. I do write a blog that is quite personal, but I try not to post specific things about my children, instead unspecific things about parenting that really could apply to any family. There’s a line and I try to stay on one side of it. I also feel like I’m learning along the way and really just hope I’m not screwing up anything for my children. I never post pictures of my kids or say their names on Twitter and try not to really speak specifically about them as much as I ever did. And this isn’t because I think the boogie man is right around the corner, but because I need to consider if it’s something they’d want me to say about them or not. Think about how- now they don’t know any better, but someday they will and I need to be proud of what I have shared and said about them. I’ve erased their pictures from my Flickr accounts and Instagram and have locked about 95% of the pictures I’ve once shared of them on Facebook, (which I’ve locked down to a friends only profile). And I’m not criticizing sharing good things and exciting things and the great moments in our kids lives, but I think there’s a line that I often see crossed on a daily basis. And I’m not even saying that parents who over-share about their kids are bad, I’m just saying it may be wise to step back and ask your self some questions, like what exactly are you doing and do you think your actions may have consequences? Are you being selfish by pleasing only yourself without regards to others? Your child’s feelings in particular? I use the rule that if I wouldn’t hang the picture on the wall of my living room or send it in to school or have it be tagged on their own future Facebook account, than I shouldn’t post it on my Facebook Wall. I then ask myself: do I want all the people in my child’s future life to know this information? If the answer is no, then it shouldn’t be posted.

There’s a rule that I will teach my children that they should try to adhere to when texting anyone or posting anything in social media: if they don’t want the whole world to know about it or see it, just don’t ever put it in print or in type. If it’s not something you want Googled from here to eternity, then why post it ever, at all? And so this advice applies to anyone really.. why should a parent carelessly and selfishly over share their child’s lives without thinking twice about the consequences?

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