Posts Tagged With: motherhood

Snap: Ten Things I Tell My Kids

I’ve previously shared the wisdom and gifts I receive from my children; here are a few things I say to them.

  1. I’m sorry you don’t like it. Write your congressman.
  2. Is it broken forever or just for a minute?
  3. Dude, hands out of the pants. (mostly to my son, although my husband has been busted a few times)
  4. Is this really how you want this to go down?
  5. Stop!
  6. Holy cow, really?
  7. Stop micromanaging your brother. (to my daughter)
  8. When [doggie, kitty, bird, etc] goes in it’s house, it wants a time out. Respect it’s wishes.
  9. What is that?
  10. I love you so much, no one else will ever be good enough for you.

Have a wonderful weekend!

XO

A

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Categories: Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Dear Parents: Some Rules Aren’t Made to Be Broken

Dear Fellow Parents:

Fess up–this parenting thing is harder than you thought it would be. When they were babies and you were living in that dark tunnel of no sleep-crying-poop, you thought, “It’s going to get better.” And it did, depending on the how terrible twos and threes went for you. Or you at least got used to it. (Side note: have you noticed every time you figure out something, like how to handle tantrums, your child evolves and creates a new nightmare of crazy that you never imagined you’d have to deal with?)

Here’s the thing: parenting is hard and for me, the older they get, the more challenging it gets. Now we’re not just responsible for feeding and changing; we are responsible for creating members of society. I think one big step toward that is stopping all this holiday blow out nonsense. I’ve complained about it. Others have complained about it. It’s like a runaway train of ridiculous.

For today though, I’d like to address a specific issue: rules. Our world is constructed of rules. It’s how we train the id that it’s not okay to just do whatever it wants. It’s why my toddler gets so frustrated with me (“No Alex, we do not pull down our pants and wiggle our hips and boy parts at passing ladies”). Kids have a hard enough time learning to make moral decisions and obey the rules. Please stop picking which rules they follow.

At my daughter’s school, the kids are not supposed to bring toys to school, wear sandals, or wear short skirts. From my perspective, these are all logical rules: toys get broken, lost, or cause outbreaks of “It’s mine!” Sandals are not the best footwear for playing outside or going to PE. And as for the skirts? They are little girls, not contestants on The Bachelor.

When we first enrolled in our current school, I sat down and read the handbook cover to cover. Our family talked about the rules and expectations so everyone was aware of them. And we follow them.

Where this gets hard is that other parents pick and choose which rules their children should follow. Every time I dropped my daughter off last fall, I got to watch a number of little girls in ribboned, jeweled, or otherwise adorned sandals tromp into school. A friend of my daughter keeps bringing her entire collection of My Little Pony for recess. And when I pick my daughter up I’ve seen way too much little girl bootie exposed when bending over to pick up backpacks.

So what, Amber? Who cares? It’s just silly stuff. It’s not like they’re breaking important rules. They’re kids! Let them enjoy it.

My point is this: when a parent allows a child to knowingly break a rule, especially one established by someone else, they are teaching their child two things. First, that they can pick and choose which rules they want to follow depending on what they want. Second, they are more important and special than other people because the rules don’t apply to them.

I’m not saying we should all raise little conformists. My daughter electing to bring vegan snacks for her week as snack helper proves that. But when we model from an early age a disregard for rules and guidelines, we are teaching children that those types of behaviors are acceptable.

About once a week I have to explain to Lili why she can’t wear sandals or take her toys. We’ve actually gone and read the handbook now that her reading is better and I try to explain why these rules exist. Still, a few weeks ago she went against the rules and took a pony stowaway to school so she would have one to play with at recess. When we found out about it, she lost the privilege of playing with the pony for two days (“what you abuse, you lose”). She was upset, arguing that other little girls got to bring their toys. My reply was merely, “That’s between them and their parents. We follow the rules.”

These children are going to grow into young adults and adults who need to at least understand the importance of rules. Certainly they can and should question them, but in the end part of being a grownup in following rules, particularly those set up for good reasons.

I’m your biggest fan, fellow parents, because I know how hard this is for all of us. Just please make your daughters wear tennis shoes.

XO

A

Categories: Get Smart, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Outsider: Mommy Edition

I recently read this insightful post on why it’s hard to be friends with other moms and found myself nodding in agreement. My husband, as is the case with the post’s author, is the naturally charming, likeable one. He’s the one who builds friendships. I’m the one who turns people off.

Also like the post’s author, I thought motherhood would provide a natural bond for me, sort of a sisterhood of stretch marks. Unfortunately, at least at my kids’ schools, this isn’t the case. For starters, I have little in common with many of these moms. Few of them work outside the home and they give me a sad look when they hear I do (as if we’ve fallen on hard times and I’m being forced to sell my hair and jewelry).

They all know my kids–they’ve been on the field trips and seen the chapel programs I’ve missed because I was explaining the allegory of “Young Goodman Brown.” They’ve helped at the Christmas party, opening up the treats I dropped of that morning; meanwhile, I’m grading annotated bibliographies. They volunteer at the pep rallies and book fairs, hand out awards, and take pictures. My daughter often asks why her friend’s mom eats lunch with them several times a week, but I can’t. “Because Mommy has class, ” is a tiresome answer.

I’m conflicted about it. On one hand I’m jealous (and suspicious for no reason) of these women who get to spend so much time with my daughter. On the other, I love working. Perhaps this is intensely selfish, but I feel like I need an identity outside of being a mother. I like to go to a place where, for several hours a day, I do something I’m good at, that I spent years studying to do, and possibly help other kids beside my own.

In the end, it is not these other mothers who exclude me–it is my own choices. And so I avoid them so I can avoid answering questions about why I wasn’t at some event, or why I work. When it comes down to it, my friends are my own and my children’s are their own. There isn’t a big Ven diagram that says these elements have to overlap. Although, it sure would make things easier.

XO

A

Categories: Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Never Met a Girl Like You Before

Looking over last year’s posts, apparently my frustration with the mothers at my daughter’s school struck around the same time. Why do I keep letting these people suck the energy out of me? Reposted from last February:

I was dropping off my daughter at school this morning when another mother heard me wish her a good day. She looked at me, did a double take, and asked, “You’re Liliana’s mother?” I nodded.

I literally counted to 20 in my head as she looked me over from head to toe. My mind started racing, wondering what exactly was wrong. I don’t work on Fridays, so I was wearing my ‘mom wear’–usually jeans or yoga pants, TOMS, some sort of t-shirt, and a hoodie or sweater. Today it was jeans, red TOMS, a Kurt Vonnegut shirt, and a pink hoodie. I never fix my hair, even for work, but sloppy chignons or ponytails are pretty standard for moms. I even had on a little make up.

“Huh,” she finally said. “You’re very stylish for one of those kinds of people.”

For those of you who know me, you can probably picture that look I get when I’m confused, where I cock my head like a dog.

“What kind of people?” Teachers? Redheads?

“Well, you always do the whole wheat bread and snacks, like at the Christmas Party, and you did those plantable Valentines–one of those kind of people.”

Then she was gone, leaving me to ponder what she considers ‘those kind of people.’ And how is it they lack style? And what did she mean, qualifying my stylishness?

As I sat in my car, getting ready to exit the parking lot, I was trapped in a glass and metal case of confusion. Is there something wrong with whole wheat bread for PB&J? Was I wrong to send Valentines that can be planted to grow wildflowers instead of candy and paper cards that will end up in a landfill? Am I that poorly dressed? And we already know the drama of the Gingerbread men (and women–I included girls not to be biased).

Then I thought about this woman and her apparently small world of experience where just because I give thought to what I feed my child and how my actions impact the future, not just the now, I should be wearing a potato sack and not know what mascara is for. And then rolled my eyes, shook my head, and drove my son in his cloth diapers and Amber teething beads home to do yoga to the sounds of Guns N Roses.

She can suck it.

Categories: The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hippie Freak Mother’s Plea for Valentine’s Day

Image courtesy of Relevant Magazine

My daughter’s school must think I am some of sort of hippie freak (which I am, just not in the way they think). For example, Lili brings her lunch to school everyday, even the two days a week the school brings in Chick-fil-a and Papa John’s Pizza. I avoid most of their fundraising drives. Liliana often goes to school in wildly clashing colors and patterns.

There are, in my opinion, reasonable explanations for these. Putting aside my ideological issues with Chick-fil-a and Papa John’s, we don’t think she should get in the habit of eating fast food twice a week at school just because the other kids are doing it. Liliana hates pickles, so I don’t think contributing to the football fundraiser that involves buying her pickles all the time is logical. And my daughter dresses herself and looks cute in her own way. She at least looks like her own person.

It probably doesn’t help that the days I don’t have to drive directly to work, Charleigh, our border collie mix, helps take Lili to school. One of the drop off/pick up helpers thinks she’s some sort of giant mutant dog. (She only weighs like 40 pounds–the dog world is so sizest.) Or there was the time I was waiting to pick Lili up and took a shot of clear cough medicine out of a small, clear glass, only to see the woman behind me in the review mirror, her mouth dropped in horror. So maybe they think I drink in the pick up lane, too. Oops.

My hippie-freakness has become especially prevalent around the holidays. Both of my children attend schools where people go overboard. At Christmas, we were supposed to send sixteen little stocking stuffers for Lili’s class and a wrapped book under ten dollars for Alex’s class. Lili gave her friends pencils with eraser toppers that I knew they could use in class. Alex brought a paperboard copy of The Little Engine that Could.

In return, we received bagfuls of stuff from the other kids–individual stockings full of candy, felt bags overflowing with stickers and glitter pens, stuffed animals, Hot Wheels, and tiny toys too varied to name. While I appreciate the generosity at the heart of it, it’s just too much. A two-year-old does not need Fun Dip (actually no one needs Fun Dip), a one-inch ornament, stuffed miniature bear, and three lollipops–especially not all from the same child.

Being the hippie freak that I am, I just think about what messages we’re sending through (and to) our kids. What Kindergartner really needs seven pencils, two mini coloring books, stamps, and holiday tape? (Again from one child.) With sixteen children in her class, Lili would have had plenty with just one thing from each child. As it is, it all gets lost in the noise–a heaping pile of plastic, throw away, sticky, choking hazard mess that she will lose, break, or forget about. Consumption this way is so conspicuous and feels so hollow.

It also blows my mind that in a class full of two-year-olds, people would give out so much candy. My kids are allowed one sweet type thing a day and it has to be before five. They only have one cup of juice each day at lunch. The rest of the time it’s water or non-dairy milk. (What happens when they are with their grandparents is unfortunately out my hands. At least my mom is kind enough to lie to me if she’s hopping them up.)

I’m not asking that parents adhere to my dietary restrictions. Both my kids eat some dairy and meat. But no matter who your kid is or what your beliefs are, that much sugar is never a good idea. As a result I become the lame mom that sends pretzels or vegan fruit snacks for Trick or Treating. My main compliant against giving out candy can be summed up in the following story:

Last Saturday while I was dealing with laundry, Alex found a Fun Dip. Despite my efforts to purge the candy from Christmas (I hate being wasteful, but I don’t really know what else to do with it), this little packet had fallen out into Lili’s backpack. Exploring, as little boys do, Alex discovered it and claimed it for his own. I found him hiding under the desk (because he knew he shouldn’t have it), his mouth and hands bright green, powdered sugary stuff everywhere. He was crazy for about an hour and then cranky. It wasn’t great for his system, either. We won’t even talk about the stains that I can’t get out of his shirt, the floor, and the wall. (Our cat somehow managed to get it out of her fur, so maybe I’ll see if she has some tips.)

I am already dreading Valentine’s Day when scads of candy and toys will hitch a ride into my house. Thus I am asking all mothers: can we not? Can we not go overboard? Can we go for quality over quantity? Can we teach our children that the world is not made of throw away material things? Can we think about the impact of our actions on others, especially our impressionable children? Can we keep it simple and sweet?

Last year Lili gave out seed imbedded Valentine cards that could be planted. I’m starting to brainstorm ideas for this year. It would probably be in poor taste to regift all those toys and candy from Christmas, right?

XO

A

Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Seen And Not Heard

Recently I have read several blog posts that question the trend of banning children from weddings. Most of the posts and comments seem to echo the same idea: it’s their wedding their choice, but not having children is silly. (There is always of course the commenter who knows everything about child behavior despite having never had children personally. He or she has seen every episode of Full House, damn it. What else is there to know?)

On my drive in today, I was thinking about how we approach not just weddings but most events when deciding whether or not to take our children. I will begin by saying this: I love my children. I think they are hilarious, brilliant, special little people.

BUT

I don’t expect everyone else to think so. It was our choice to have children. Neither of my pregnancies were accidental–my husband and I decided we wanted to bring these tiny versions of ourselves into the world. We also knew, when making that choice, that we would be changing our social lives. Many of our friends don’t have children. Several of these people are married and have made the choice not to have children right now or perhaps ever. That is their choice.

When we receive invitations to weddings, parties, or even casual gatherings, unless the invitations come from another parent, I never assume my children should attend. Many of the weddings are for my husband’s friends only, so sending him off on his own isn’t a big deal. If it is something I want to attend, I will ask if it is appropriate to bring the small fries. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. I don’t take it personally either way.

Because while it’s all well and good to say children are a blessing and bring joy, sometimes children are a pain in the ass. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a blessing and don’t bring joy, but anyone who has spent a few hours with a two-year old can tell you the switch between blessing/joy and pain/ass can come instantly. If my son is tired or bored or hot or hungry, he is not the best dinner guest, no matter how cute he was kissing his sister three minutes earlier.

Perhaps I feel this way because my children are still young. When they get older I might change my mind. But right now, I don’t feel that it should be the rule that my kids go where I go. If really want to go and can’t find a sitter, so be it. I decided to have children. Sometimes I want to scream this at parents in the movie theater. If your child still needs a bottle, maybe The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the place for them.)

Some brides I know provide childcare during the actual wedding. Excellent idea. However, I’m not going to feel offended just because someone doesn’t want my kids as part of their event.

Thoughts, Cakesters?

XO

A

Categories: Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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