Posted in Education, Family, literature, Mental Health, Poetry, Uncategorized

We’ll Try Again Tomorrow Video

There’s something about releasing poetry into the universe that terrifies me. I can speak in front of three people or three hundred. I can read an essay or an article I wrote to a full room. I can act (or at least attempt to), I used to perform in dance recitals (not well let’s be real), and I would get nervous but nothing like panic-inducing fear I get from reading poetry out loud.

I remember the first time I had to read a poem I wrote in front of an audience, I was seventeen or eighteen in my first year of college. I had won an award for a flash fiction contest and the story was basically a poem. Beforehand I told my teacher I couldn’t do it. That reading in front of others was just not a fun time for me.

He assured me I’d do great, it would all be great, everything was fine. I puked twice, went up and read way too fast, and it was over. I’ve had to read a few more poems to a group since then and it gets a little easier as I age but it’s still something so personal. A vulnerable arrangement of your innermost thoughts in an artistic display and you are exposing these ideas to others. It’s quite horrifying.

So now, this is my first ever video to correlate with a poem. Mind you my technology skills are a solid B, video is not my strong suit so don’t expect any amazing effects. It goes with You’re Going to be Fine and my new direction of writing for parents, children, and families with special needs.

See We’ll Try Again Tomorrow HERE!

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Posted in Family, Holidays, Mother's Day, Opinion, Uncategorized

Mother’s Day around the world

The root of our traditionally known “Mother’s Day” may be all American:

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Ahem, it may be thanks to Woodrow Wilson establishing the holiday in 1911, and it has since spread to other countries. BUT we may not technically be the first country to celebrate moms though (sorry, have a seat please), and not all places celebrate Mother’s Day the same.

One of the most similar celebrations is probably “Mothering Sunday” in the UK. This day, the fourth Sunday after Lent, has been around much longer than Mother’s Day, so maybe the U.S. should calm down. Back in the 17th Century Mothering Sunday was established as a day of reverence for the Virgin Mary. It has now meshed with Mother’s Day and is celebrated with cards, flowers, and expressions of love. There is such a thing as a Mothering cake, which is a rich almond cake.

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In Canada Mother’s Day is celebrated the same day it is in the U.S., the second Sunday of May. However, it seems to be a much bigger deal there. Phone traffic is at yearly high, card and candy sales sky rocket, and again, cakes are baked for mothers. No mothers allowed in the kitchen on Mother’s Day. Australia also has very similar customs for their mothers.

Also celebrated the same day as the U.S., Brazil celebrates mother’s the second Sunday in May. They exchange cards and words of affirmation for their mothers. But it seems the sweets flow aplenty in Brazil on Mother’s Day. Businesses stock up on pastries, baked goods, and candies. Gifts are a general staple to the day and recently there has been a trend in giving (and wanting) electronic gifts for Mother’s Day like tablets.

Ethiopia kind of puts us all to shame, they celebrate mothers for three days instead of one. Antrosht, as it is known, creates a time of remembrance and celebration with a large feast. Daughters bring vegetables, butter, and cheese, while boys will bring some kind of meat. The mother then prepares “hash” that the family enjoys together. There are special songs for the day and bonding, especially between mothers and daughters.

If three days seems a lot, Durga Puja is a celebration that lasts ten days. It’s a celebration of the Mother Goddess in India. It also celebrates the warrior Goddess Durgas’

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defeat over Mahishasura. All women are celebrated at this time and mothers seem to be extra appreciated. This event is very detailed in nature but I will at least say there are statues erected, parades, music, dancing, and plenty of rituals. Food is also a huge part of Durga Puja.

 

Probably the creepiest Mother’s Day tradition I have found has to be Yugoslavia. I would love to know if anyone knows if this still goes on, but apparently the tradition is that the children sneak into their mother’s room, tie her up, and she has to tell them where gifts are hidden in order to be released. Not a fan, js.

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Posted in Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Why so serious (mom and dads)?

It’s amazing how loud pots are when they are being beaten together by little hands. It’s amazing how mud seems that much more impossible to clean when your toddler comes inside caked in it. Craft supplies can seem daunting to get out because every craft requires a mess. Every water play activity requires mopping after. Every play bath requires at least one outfit change on your part.

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Having fun and playing with your kids can sometimes lose it’s spark. You can get more concerned with the aftermath than the actual play time. My daughter asked me the other day if we could make a craft, which she loves to do, and I said “no honey I just wiped off the kitchen table”.

Wait what? We can’t craft because I wiped off a table? What kind of logic is that?

Sometimes it’s hard to drop what you’re doing and say yes! Yes we can. Screw the laundry, who needs clean plates, my pants will wear another day…probably. For me it’s even harder to not dread the aftermath, as mentioned above. But kids don’t grow up and remember having a spotless home, they grow up remembering when you played super heroes together in the backyard. They remember trips to the ice cream shop and visits to the zoo. But you can’t live in a pig sty either. Cleaning and chores kind of have to happen. Sometimes you have to be the grown up and be serious. So how do you balance it all? I honestly don’t know.

I got called a Pinterest mom the other day and at first I was insulted just because I didn’t really know what the hell that meant. But then it was explained that I do things you see on Pinterest but never actually do with your kids. Then I was flattered but I felt a little like a cheat because there is plenty I don’t do, that I should. So, how do you become a not so serious, Pinterest, fun mom? Again, I don’t really know, but here’s the best advice I can gather for that question.

Step one: stop being so serious

My daughter is that special stage of life when she knows exactly what not to say, and that she has the ability to say it whenever she wants. That age when I feel like a 13 year old is trapped in my 4 year old’s body. That oh-so-magical age where I hear “we aren’t friends anymore, you’re mean” at least four or five times a week. We just had a long discussion about what a mortgage was the other day when she decided she was going to run away. More on that later.

I find, the best way to handle a little bit of sass, is to make fun of it. I make fun of how silly she sounds when she’s having an attitude. I put my hands on my hips and shake my head and say “does this look nice to you? or does this look like someone who is not going to get what they are asking for?” I exaggerate her movements and voice enough that usually, it causes laughter. Laughter leads to happiness and happiness leads to no more attitude. At least for the time being. This is not to say that I do that or think it you should look over blatantly bad or disrespectful behaviors. Just pick and choose your battles.

It’s the picture frame argument my husband and I have. When a kid draws on the wall you can a) freak out, b) quietly find a magic eraser and start erasing, or c) frame it. I choose to frame it.

Step two: have family time

This is the step I struggle with because this is the step I want more than anything else. As a working mom I really feel like I miss out on quality time with my kids, and even my husband. We all know that complaint, but it is a valid one. Sometimes family time is also errand time. Like grocery shopping or running into town for a certain bill that needs to be paid. I try to turn these moments into family time. My daughter and I go to the farmer’s market at least twice a month together to get our produce in the spring and summer. It’s always fun to walk around and see the flowers and pick out a special treat for later.

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It’s important to make the distinction between quality time and quantity of time. Just because you might be with your kids all week if you stay home, doesn’t mean you were actually with your kids all week. You probably plopped in a movie or two or maybe three. You probably found some coloring books or crayons and pushed them into a corner somewhere. You did chores, you worked, you prepped dinner, you did things you have to do on a daily basis, which means it probably wasn’t quality time. Not saying there’s anyway around that, just make the mental note that ‘yes, I with baby girl today but we only played together for twenty minutes after lunch’. Then you can try to fit in my quality time at the end of the day or the next day.

Step three: Us Toys

Not Toys-R-Us, Us Toys have saved my relationship with my daughter in a lot of ways. Without going into her anxiety and other issues, the book Growing Up Brave is a great read for any parent that is struggling with a child with emotional problems. It is geared for anxiety but I think a lot of the tips and ideas mentioned would work for a variety of disorders.

Anyhoo, one of the things I took away from that book is “Child Led Play”. For ten minutes, everyday, you play with your child but you let them lead the playtime. Now this may sound easy and like something you already do, but I assure you if you really start listening to yourself while you’re playing, you will hear a person you didn’t know was there. During your child led play it’s good to have a box or bag filled with stuff just you two play with. Ours was a mermaid dress up game, two Barbies, a sticker book craft, and some art supplies to start. Now we usually just do a craft together because her father isn’t very “artsy” and that’s our special thing to do. They do puzzles or blocks. So you get it, you have something that’s just for you two, you pick a place where you won’t be bothered by the other parent, siblings, phone calls, anything.

Completely uninterrupted playtime that they lead. Don’t interrupt them, don’t correct them, don’t even give them ideas to a certain extent. It’s their party for ten to fifteen minutes. Try it for a month and I’d be surprised to find someone it doesn’t help your bond with your kid.

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, toddlers, Uncategorized

15 weird things I enjoy as a parent

There’s so many blog posts and vlogs about exhausted parents hiding from their children and moms pulling their hair out because they’ve heard “mom, mom, mommy, mama, mama, hey mom” about 296 times that day. But what about the good stuff? Not the precious moments “my child is a joy to the world and a gift,” yeah that’s all good and well but what about the perks? The weird things you enjoy about being a parent that maybe you didn’t think of before?

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  1. I never have to set my alarm: okay probably a lame one to start with but it’s more true than anything else I will ever write most likely. I still do set it but I don’t know why since I hear my youngest twenty minutes before it goes off. He can smell the noise coming.
  2. Viable excuse for lazy dinners: yeah we just had pancakes again, or nachos, or sandwiches. And not because we’re a lazy young couple who would rather go out than actually put effort into a meal, it’s because we have kids so…there’s that. Image result for hide and seek gif
  3. Hide and seek: I didn’t realize that not all parents play hide and seek in public until I was stopped by a security officer at the mall while playing on the indoor play set with my son. I do, and he laughs, and it’s amazing.
  4. Hearing your child use sarcasm or tell a joke: whether they use it correctly or not hearing your child try to make a joke is one of the funniest things you will ever hear. Image result for kid telling jokes
  5. Being the one that soothes them: probably a little sappy for this list but when your kid is just off the chain and yelling/screaming/crying/parkouring/whatever and you’re the one who can get them to settle and snuggle up; that feeling can’t be topped, like ever.
  6. Talking to yourself in public: I’m not talking to myself I’m talking to my baby, yes I know he can’t talk back but he’s a great listener, don’t judge me old lady at the grocery store.
  7. Toy shopping: is much more fun than it should be. I miss the giant Sear’s catalogs though…
  8. Teaching your child things you liked as a child: my daughter has started to become really interested in gardening, which I love, and it’s led to some talks about ditches, and fort making, and mud pies. Then I think about the laundry after and I’m like ehhh…still worth it.
  9. You can bail and not feel guilty: I know that one is on other lists as well but it’s a good one.
  10. Being complimented: Okay now I’m feeling super selfish but for real when you go out somewhere and you have your kids with you and hear the “aww he’s/she’s so cute” you smile. Don’t lie, you totally do.
  11. You become more lax: and that is a fact. It took two for me to get to this point but I have definitely become much more open to whatever is going to come. Image result for same movie again
  12. Disney and other movies: I am actually one of those weird people who will still watch the same 20 movies over and over and over. So while most parents cringe when they’re kids pull out the movie you watched yesterday I’m like “alright, but I’m singing this time”. Unless it’s Dora…
  13. You can get an honest opinion about your outfit: if your children are in that ripe age of having no filter and not understanding the importance of white lies, you always have honesty. “Mommy why does your legs look funny in that?” “Because these are leggings for skinny people honey and now mommy must go throw them away.”
  14. On the same note, you get complimented on things you didn’t know you were good at: same age range. “This macaroni and cheese is yummy!” “Yes sweetie, all homemade” (it’s not homemade).
  15. You’re good at something: I never really had self-esteem growing up, and there are still times I struggle with it greatly. But when I see my kids succeed at something I’m like “yeah, I kind of did that. At least helped.” It’s a great feeling.

What did I miss?

Posted in Family, health, Mother's Day, Opinion, parenting, Social Change, teaching, toddlers, Uncategorized

World War Mommy

I know it’s probably been written about way too much in the past few years; however, it’s still amazing to me how much mom-shaming goes on via social media and other outlets. Yes, you should always be caring, nurturing, attentive, and loving (I would think that’s obvious) to your children. If they are being taken care of then it’s really no one else’s business on how/when/where/why.

I read an article the other day that finally made me want to write something on mom-shaming. Fed is Best Foundation has an article on their website by Mandy, who explains how she was basically starving her newborn. Her story is one that I know I can relate to and I’m sure plenty of other women out there can too. I think a lot of the hindrance to formula feed was due to the mom shaming that goes along with it. To think that poor baby could have suffered even worse that he did just from that is pretty heartbreaking.

So, here’s my list of topics that cause mom-shaming, mommy wars, mom blogging, judging, watching, look at the baby, look at the baby, and why they’re stupid to fight about. Ready to fight and go:

Breastfeeding

I guess we’ll just start there since that’s the kickoff idea I had to this article. When you’re asked about breastfeeding, if the “f” word starts to escape your lips, you may get that horrified face from some mothers that looks something like this:Image result for shocked face gif

You might as well tell them you are going to try and see how much arsenic a baby can handle.

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Breast is best. Yes, I agree. However, it’s not the only option. Some moms have a surplus supply. Some moms don’t. Some moms stay home and have time to pump and feed at will. Some moms don’t. Some moms feel the love and bonding that is supposed to come from breastfeeding. Some moms just plain don’t. Does that make them less of a mother? No. So that argument just needs to go away.

Personally, I think breastfeeding at least for the first few weeks (months if possible) is the best option for the baby. I get that argument. But again, I’m not going to shame a mom who just plain can’t do it. There are medical reasons, there are factors in the household that might make it impossible or too difficult, there are psychological reasons. For a mother who really wants to and can’t, to have to listen to this shaming over and over, I can imagine how heartbreaking that probably is.

On the same note, there’s the argument of how long. A year seems pretty standard. Over a year and some moms will start to make faces and avoid eye contact with you. Some moms go up into toddler years. Again, personally I would not do this but to each his own. I feel like this shouldn’t be a topic of debate.

Natural/Medicated Childbirth

You don’t love your child more because you suffered more. That’s my opinion on it. If you are doing it for self preservation reasons than fine. Stop shamming moms who used meds to keep their own sanity. Not to mention, a 12 hour birth is not the same as a 3 day one, so keep that in mind too.

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Epidurals are safe. Say it with me- epidurals are safe. It’s okay to request them. The most common side effects are fevers or spinal headaches for the mother. If you want a natural birth that’s beautiful. More power to you. Just keep that shaming thing to yourself.

Helicopter Parenting

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Are kids more spoiled now than they used to be? I think so. I also think that a lot of “bad” kids from decades past probably weren’t all bad. Emotional needs, mental disabilities, learning disabilities; these weren’t really considered problems until recently. So, in those regards some kids need to be helicoptered. In others, parents need to chill the hell out. Little Susie is going to fall and little Johnny is going to get sick from eating too much dirt. It just needs to happen for them to be normal kids.

Crying It Out

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Babies cry. Sometimes it’s your fault. Sometimes they need to learn things and then that in turn leads to more crying. Personally, I struggle with it to a point just because it’s hard to listen to. I don’t really blame moms who do it though if there’s an end goal in mind.

A lot of the older (early 1900s) parenting advice and mothering columns suggested basically training your six month old to sit quietly in the crib and that “the mother should stop (holding it) immediately if her arms feel tired”. Because you know, that’s just inconvenient and you got stuff to do.

Many argue that using the cry it out method causes psychological damage. I don’t think enough research has been done to prove this theory but I can definitely see where it stems from. Using a more supportive approach first I think is best for everyone involved and then if you don’t get any results, you are kind of on your own as far as what to do. The problem with the cry it out method is when does it get borderline neglectful? fifteen minutes? twenty minutes? a half hour? That sort of hazy distinction makes this argument a tough one. I never did it over the ten minute marker for my own sanity as well as the kids.

VACCINATIONS!

Holy moley vaccinations.

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Remember that kid in your class that died of Polio? No? Oh that’s right because it’s gone, thanks to science, research, and oh yeah, vaccinations.

I think the amount of testing and amount of vaccinations offered are a bit much, I will agree with that. But some of the more severe ones that are offered, I take it. You bet. Again though, mom shaming over vaccinations shouldn’t be an issue. You either believe that vaccinations could cause autism, or you don’t. You’re either worried your child will have an adverse reaction to them, or you’re not. Shaming the other side of a delicate issue like this is not going to solve anything. More studies are being done on the links between vaccinations and autism, and I imagine, they will continue for quite awhile. However, from what I know about them, most vaccines have little to no side effects. Either way, whether you’re choosing to get them or not, you’re doing what you think is best for your child. Ergo, so are other moms.

 

Working Moms

This is the mom shaming I take the most personally. I work. Full time. 40+ hours a week. I love my job (usually) and I love my side job even more (writing). I was lucky enough to stay home majority of the time with our daughter when she was born and only work part-time. The next time around I wasn’t so lucky. My husband is the one who works part-time and stays home with our son. Do I get jealous? Yes, of course I do. I want to be home with my baby, I’m not a monster. However, I have a good job. I make enough money that my husband can stay home, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Having to work, or even choosing to work, does not make you a bad mom. So stop it. On the flip side, working moms are now striking back with little quips about “having two jobs” because of working all day and being a mom all night. Yes they’re both hard, please stop bitching about it.

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To me, the real shame is the lack of help for working moms. I know there’s resources for parents; WIC, parenting classes that are free, Medicaid if you’re eligible. But more employers should offer some sort of childcare help. I don’t even necessarily mean in an economical sense either. Some places like state hospitals, colleges, and other businesses will have on-site daycare for their employees. I feel if more places offered this, or at least had umbrella type of daycare establishments, it would help ease the struggle of working moms.

Co-Sleeping

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Every parent ever has had a Chris Farley night. Sometimes, it’s just easier to pop that kid or baby in your bed and tell them to “shhh” so you can both nod out for a few hours. Some parents prefer to do this every night because of the bonding. Some won’t let their children sleep in there bed no matter the circumstance.

NO RIGHT ANSWER

I know I’m a broken record now, but that’s the whole point of this post. It’s a personal choice. Yes, there are some dangers listed for parents who co-sleep, there are also dangers for children sleeping alone. Not to mention lack of sleep progressively building after several nights of battling your child to sleep in their crib or bed.

In many parts of the world, co-sleeping is the norm. I’ve read that some doctors argue for co-sleeping because it helps promote breast feeding. Other doctors say you could squish your baby. One argument is though, once your baby is older (past the first three or four months anyway) if they are still in your room but not in your bed is that co-sleeping? Yes it is, it’s not bed-sharing. Now, there are plenty of things available if you want to make bed-sharing a little safer. The one thing I think most professionals will veto is couch sharing.

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Many claim that they can’t sleep when they are away from their babies. Kind of the reverse of the what you normally think of for reasoning behind it. But that makes sense if you think about it. I have to get up at least 3-4 times a night for my kids and they’re both over 1. If they’re right next to you it’s so much easier. Does co-sleeping create bad sleeping habits? Maybe…I don’t know if there is enough research out there for it but I think I would argue yes it probably does. However, when you’re sleep deprived, it’s hard to care.

So what’s the point? I think I’ve said it…stop it.

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