Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ying-Yang of Parenting

Too tight. Too loose. Or ju-u-u-u-u-st right.

It's a difficult balance when it comes to parenting.

We have a tendency to gravitate toward one or the other. Either we want to hold our children back from their next natural development step, or we want to push them headlong into it before they're quite ready.

Exhibit A: Let's call our mommy Jessica. She dotes on her firstborn, a boy, we'll call him Billy. Billy is just over the six month old mark, and she's been holding off on feeding him solid food. And still is.

We all know that babies don't actually need the nutrition of sold food when they first start eating, but it is a step in their progression toward eating on their own, learning to sit and swallow. It's a big step, a fun step if you're ready for it. And I've even heard of babies who resisted eating solid food at all when their parents waited a little too long when that sitting up, interested in food signal started to show itself.

Jessica, this is just one of many "firsts". One of thousands of times you're going to have to let your little boy go and start growing up. Our job is mommies, as hard and as counter intuitive as it is, is to teach our children not to need us. As soon as they come out of our womb, and that cord is cut; we're supposed to be teaching them to be independent.

Jessica, it's time to let go, hon.

Exhibit B: This mommy is mother of three going on four. She is all about her kiddos, it would be easy to say that her life is defined by them. We will call her Terry. Her oldest is a little girl, about five years old, we will call Mya.

Terry is very proud of Mya and her accomplishments and the sweet little girl that she is. As we've observed already, much of her own identity and worth comes from her children. Being as such, Terry cannot wait for Mya to not need her training wheels anymore. She has cajoled, urged, pushed, pleaded; but to no avail. Mya wants to keep her training wheels on awhile longer. They just feel safe.

Recently, Terry went ahead and took Mya's training wheels off saying, "If she can swim underwater, she should be able to ride her bike with no training wheels!"

Terry, Mya will only be a little girl for so long. And if she is telling you that she's not quite ready for this next step, a small one in the grand scheme of life; your job as her mother is to support and encourage her, but not force her. Just as we don't force our children to crawl or walk, let her take this next step when she's the one who is ready.

My summary for the jury?

One mom holding on too tight, one mom pushing too hard. But both not letting their children progress naturally. Mom, if he's ready for his next step, let him go. Mom, if she's not quite ready for that step, let her wait.

Let's stop pushing and pulling so hard, and just allow our children to grow naturally. The way they're supposed to... the way we're supposed to.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adventures in Potty-Training

So. We're potty-training.

Enough said.

Enough said, but I will say more...

Potty training with my older daughter was quite the adventure. She showed all the signs of being ready, she is totally intelligent and verbal, and I naively thought, "This won't be too bad!" I really, really tried to be realistic and my head thinking, "Potty training is challenging. There will be times of frustration. She won't pick it up right away..." But really in the back of my head I knew MY daughter is amazing and wonderful and above-average and potty-training, as with most other tasks she takes on, would be a piece of cake.

Somehow I didn't anticipate the tears, and the yelling, and unending cleaning up of mind-blowing messes.

Yes, I know potty-training isn't supposed to involve tears and yelling. "Supposed to" being the key phrase. Just like breast-feeding is supposed to be natural, and six month olds are supposed to sleep through the night, and on and on and on.

Granted, Violet did pick up potty training amazingly fast. By the second day she was going either number one or two almost every time we sat her down on the toilet! And by the end of that week was really only having about two accidents a day. I was absolutely floored!

But now we're six weeks in. And there's still good days and bad days. Today was a good day, only one major accident. Wednesday on the other hand, was a bad day. But I guess when you combine diarrhea with potty-training it would be bad for any child.

So, six weeks in we're not there yet. And that's to be expected, but it doesn't make the pee on the couch or the poop on her hand from where she sticks her hand in her dirty diaper or the bucket of stinky diapers any less frustrating. Just like when you know your extremely busy grocery store will only have three lanes open when you have a full cart and you're in a hurry. Expected? Yes. Frustrating? YES.

This too will pass....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time is Ticking Away

Like most moms... well, most women.... well, most Americans!- I don't have a lot of spare time on my hands. From the time I get up at 5:00 a.m. to the time I head to bed each night (hopefully by 10:30) I'm constantly busy. From taking care of my kids to my house to my volunteer work to phone calls that need to be made, errands that need to be run, spending time with my husband, to- God forbid- a few moments for myself; there's rarely a break!

But as I said, this is more common than not in today's day and age, and so I don't feel sorry for myself or think that I'm busier than everyone else, I just do my best and try to be wise with each moment.

And then there's this blog....

I immensely enjoy writing, I think I actually gain energy from it rather than lose. But with all the other demands on my time, most of them much more important than a blog, this priority often comes in last.

And that's okay. It's okay that there are a lot of other things that are more important to me than a blog. It's okay that anyone who does happen upon this blog and actually reads it does not get updates often. (I don't think anyone's life is so greatly enhanced by my musings that they are lacking something when they don't get to read my mind vomit constantly.) And it's okay that blogging be just a sometimes thing for me, as opposed to an every day.

I love to write! Hopefully there are a few of you out there who love to read this. And hopefully we can both come to the mutual agreement that a sporadic relationship between us is better than none at all.

See you next time...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Sick Computer (In More Ways Than One...)

On Sunday afternoon, my computer randomly started pulling up Internet Explorer pages with... shall we say, adult, addresses. It also began incessantly popping up a variety of windows posting messages such as, "A virus has been detected", "Click here to scan your hard drive", and "Would you like to fix this problem?" However, the titles and logos on the pop-up windows were unfamiliar.

Turns out, the websites popping up, as well as the various windows to "fix" a virus, were all part of- surprise!- a virus.


It took several days of calling Dell back and forth to get the problem completely cleared up. The end result was a laptop wiped clean, reverted back to all its original settings from the factory, the hard drive wiped clean.


There is one bright spot amidst all this sighing though! I discovered while not being able to use my laptop or the internet for four days how much time I actually spend on the computer! Wow. Eye-opening.

I suddenly had boat loads of free time in my day. I was surprised by the sudden inflow of time to spend playing with my girls, reading, even watching a movie. And the biggest surprise of all- get this- writing by hand.

Yes, it was shocking.

Honestly, I try not to spend too much time on the computer. I generally try to keep the laptop closed when my girls are up. I check it during nap time, and then when my husband and daughters go to bed, I usually have at least an hour that I can spend catching up on my social networking and a little bit of writing.

I guess my perceived minimal amount of time spent on the computer is what led to my surprise to begin with. Nevertheless, after a what turned out to be a blissful four days with no computer, I think I'll probably be cutting back even more.

I would much rather enjoy the here and now and these beautiful (short!) years with my girls, than be a productive member of the online community. And hopefully with my less time spent online, I'll learn to be even more productive with the time I do spend here.

See you around!- albeit a little less...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Visiting Disney World with a Baby Backpack Checklist

Just finished a great new piece on visiting Disney World with a baby. Here is the checklist I used to pack my backpack and fanny pack each morning to make sure I had everything I needed.

Backpack Checklist:
• Camcorder
• Baby Bjorn
• Snacks
• Bottle and formula
• Dish soap
• Baby food
• Ponchos and umbrella
• Sunscreen
• Kleenex
• Antibacterial hand gel
• Wet wipes
• Bib
• Spoon
• Sippy cup
• Diapers, wipes, diaper cream
• Changing pad?
• Pacifier
• Plastic bags
• Change of clothes for Esther
• Baby hat
• MP3 player
• (Glow sticks/necklaces)

Shoulder Bag/Fanny Pack Checklist:
• Park ticket/room key
• Driver’s license
• Cash
• Schedule/meal confirmation numbers
• Camera and batteries
• Cell phone
• Sunglasses
• Water bottle
• Gum
• Lip balm

Monday, August 3, 2009

Miracles Still Happen... and They Have Hands

"When it gets warmer and it rains- and it's not lightning!- you can go out and play in the rain."

This is the promise we have been making to Hope since May. Little did we know it would decide to stop raining in Wisconsin for about two months. The lakes and rivers have been down. All the grass is brown. (Well, except for the lady down the street who is obviously obsessive-compulsive about her lawn.)

Finally last Saturday- rain! It began to pour. It was daytime. It was not lightning. And it was warm. All Hope's needed criteria. She took one look out the window and blurted out, "Can I play in the rain?!?" So we sent her out, Minnie Mouse nightgown and all, and she fulfilled her summer dream. It was adorable and fun and very summer carefree-ish.

Being the typical mama that I am, I made sure I had the digital camera and video camera in hand, and captured precious footage of my three year old running through the rain, splashing in puddles, and laughing. I even enjoyed Violet not enjoying the rain. My husband, parents and I laughed as she would step out wanting to play with her sister, then feeling the wet, aerial assault would wrinkle her nose and run back in the garage.

When Hope announced she was finished, I grabbed a wet child under each arm and wrestled them inside with admonitions not to do anything or touch anything but go straight to the bathtub, which they did.

Fast forward four days...

My in-laws were in town from Ohio and we were heading out the door to watch an aerial stunt show at the country's biggest airplane convention.

"Have you seen the video camera?" I asked my husband.

He hadn't. We searched the places we would normally keep it, then all the other places we might accidentally set it down. Then, backtracking to the previous rainy Saturday, we looked all over the garage. Nowhere.

We left for the stunt show with no video camera, my husband reassuring me, "It will show up." But I had a fear taking root. A fear that I had set the camera on the bumper of the car. A fear that in the chaos of taking two kids in from the rain and giving them a bath, the camera had been left on the car's bumper until one of us drove away with it until it bounced off... who knows where. I wanted to cry- and couldn't. Just a small electronic gadget, and yet, the avenue of preserving my family's memories.

Looking back on my own childhood, my parents will tell you today that one of their regrets is that they never bought a video camera. They still wish they had moving footage of our family's memories. Knowing this, a mini-DVD recorder was something my husband and I sacrificed for when we were expecting our first child. We pinched our pennies and purchased that small electronic gadget... that would enable us to record and save priceless, irreplaceable moments in time.

After a week, we resigned ourselves to the fact that our video camera was lost. Maybe crushed on a road somewhere, maybe in some stranger's hands, but gone nonetheless. I contemplated making a flyer about our lost camera and passing it out around the neighborhood. After all, if the camera had fallen off the car, it couldn't have landed far, right?

Imagine our surprise when my husband received a message on Facebook from a stranger saying, "I think I may have your video camera..." We were instructed to call the police department if the video camera was ours and they would give us the number for the person holding the camera.

Phone calls were placed and returned and I was overjoyed Friday when a woman came to our door holding our camera! She and her husband had been driving a mile from our home when they saw the camera laying the road.

Knowing nothing about video cameras, they eventually figured out how to watch the enclosed video to see if there were any clues such as us saying our name or a video showing the front of our house. The video of Hope and Violet in the rain showed our front yard, and they spent part of one day driving around the neighborhood where they had found the camera looking for a fire hydrant and large rock matching the ones in our yard from the video. They called the local police department, but no report had been filed. (The thought never even crossed my mind...)

It took a couple of days before the husband of this duo accidentally opened the door to the mini-DVD (knowing nothing about video cameras, this hadn't occurred to them before). Praise God I had written our last name on the disk, as well as the date I put it in the camera. Finally- a clue! They enlisted the help of a family member who was familiar with the internet and Facebook who looked up our last name and discovered my husband- located near where they had found the camera.

What followed was a Facebook message, several phone calls, and a joyous reunion! With a small... electronic... gadget.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Actions Really Are Loud

"I don't understand why you want to wear nightgowns to bed every night. I buy you perfectly nice pajamas, and you never wear them because you always want to wear nightgowns. If you want to wear nightgowns all the time, then I won't buy you pajamas anymore."

Thus I chastised my daughter one morning as we changed her our of her nightgown into shorts and a tank top.

To which she responded, "Do you know why I want to wear nightgowns to bed every night? It's because I want to be like you, Mama."


What parent hasn't had a moment like that? Looking with disdain on something your child is doing, only to realize that they are only trying their best to follow your example.

It brings such unexpected, maybe even unwanted, weight to our decisions as parents. Why should we bear such weighty responsibility? Is it fair that what used to be such easy, inconsequential decisions now are not so easy, and bear consequences? Is this what we signed up for when we participated in procreation?

In one word? Yes.

When you have a child, you suddenly have a tiny disciple. Someone watching you, following you, copying you. Whether you're aware of it or not, whether you intended it or not, whether you want it at all. Suddenly, everything you do... matters.


What's more, we can't even just tell our children the right thing to do. Or better yet, have them watch a video series, go to a seminar, and read a good book about "How to Be a Good Person". They won't be shrugged off so easily. Nope, they're becoming little versions of you.

The day will come when our example will matter less, our words and explanations will be understood a little better- though still not necessarily followed, and they won't intentionally try to be so much like us anymore. But today they are small. Today they are pure and untainted by life and experience and pain. Today they are learning all they know about life and being human from us.

So when you look past all the books and flashcards, when you silence the words and nagging, when you remove the clamor of voices and lessons:

What are you really teaching your children?