Sunday, September 29, 2013

Helping Kids Negotiate Their Own Relationships

“Don’t touch my butt, Mary Louise!” Claire says, as I hold her in my arms in solidarity.

“All I did was go like this,” Claire’s cousin says, patting her backside gently.

“I know, ML. You didn’t do anything wrong," I say. "Claire’s just telling you what she needs."

I’m completely down with helping my two year old advocate for herself in the face of her nine-year-old cousin. It's part of learning how to negotiate relationships in life. But it’s hard not to laugh at the content of the conversation. I haven’t taken butts so seriously since I was a kid myself.


But, today, I’m in the role of referee and spirit guide. It’s about the fifth time in an hour that Claire’s raced up from the downstairs playroom to scream bloody murder about some indignity that one of the two of her much older cousins has done to her.

A few times, Claire couldn’t keep up with them and they were too rough for her two-year-old tastes. Other times, Claire was doing something typically toddler, and the cousins decided she was completely wrong and needed to be strong-armed into reconsidering the error of her ways.

Let’s call it a mini-generation gap.

The adults sit in the living room, sipping wine. Each time Claire runs upstairs, her Grammy worries that she’s going to get pummeled and/or will have an existential crisis about not having anyone her own age to play with. Grammy wants someone to go downstairs and supervise.

I get it. It was much easier when Claire was a baby and social negotiations only happened between her and adults.

But navigating relationships is a lifelong occupation. Claire might as well get started learning social dynamics now. The reality is that I won't always be there to help her, so it's best that I teach her how to speak her mind when she needs to.

And she’s doing a great job so far, in my eyes. Today, the pupil did well, regards butts and such.

Plus, I’m happy to have a few moments sans child to converse with adults about things other than butts, while a couple of ersatz babysitters watch Claire. They might be a little rough around the edges, but, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”

The bigger issue is that Claire's going to have a lifetime of being the much younger cousin. That’s her lot in life. There’s no way to predict the outcome – good or bad. Actually, it’s probably more likely that her relationship with her cousins will result in both good and bad.

Claire’s older cousins will probably push her in ways that will teach her resilience and make her stronger. Sometimes, they will just plain push her.

It’s hard to sit back, and wait to see whether Claire will blossom or falter in her relationships -- cousin or otherwise. But it’s part of that inevitable mom process of letting go. Just like I can’t predict what’s going to happen, I have a limited ability to control it too.

Hopefully, Claire will read this post one day when she’s older, and let me know how it all turned out. I anxiously await hearing about it. My fingers are crossed that her journey is filled with more blossoming than faltering. Only time will tell.

One thing's for sure...I will be here to celebrate the triumphs and to catch her when she falls.

I'll be here in case she needs to have more conversations about butts too.

Photo Source: Tups Wanders, Flickr This photo has been adapted and does not suggest that the licenser endorses me, its use or this blog. License


Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)

Tao of Poop

Check out this week's SPP features from two of my faves,

Jen, My Skewed View: Wimpy Babysitters Need Not Apply

Monday, September 23, 2013

What You Didn't Expect When You Were Expecting

It all started with Katia posting on social media that her one year old had done a number on her eye (see below), which led to other mom confessions of bodily harm (a lot of bodily harm), as well as exasperation about the many indignities of motherhood that didn't seem to make it onto the pages of parenting books. Of course, as moms and bloggers, we had to rectify the publishing world's failure, and take it upon ourselves to write our very own down and dirty version of What to Expect...or, perhaps more accurately,What We Didn't Expect...

Without further ado..the wise and witty words of Stephanie, Jean, Jen, Katia, Sarah, Sarah and Kristi! (This post is pretty epic, which means it's kind of long. But if you read through to the end, there will be a prize for you...)

First up? Me, of course...

Confession: My baby was not the happiest baby on the block -- despite reading Harvey Karp’s book, The Happiest Baby on The Block. With a name like that, who wouldn’t want to believe the hype? And, let me tell you, with a newborn crying for hours at a time, I was desperate for a prophet, even of the false kind. Enter Dr. Karp on his white horse (mixed metaphors appropriate for a new mom deliriously trying to stop her baby’s cries). His timing was impeccable. I opened that cardboard box from Amazon like I was unearthing the Holy Grail.

I embraced his 5S tenets like they were truths. I shushed, swaddled and swung Claire on her side, while she refused to suck a pacifier. The result: Lots of shushing and swinging coupled with endless hours of inconsolable crying. To add insult to injury: I personally vacillated between two different, equally miserable states of mind:

1) Anger at the know-it-all Dr. Karp for preying on my desperation and duping me into spending $9.00 on his lousy book, which actually has the audacity to call itself “fool-proof”.
2) Anger at myself for being the only fool mother who was either a) duped by Dr. Karp, b) couldn’t figure out how to successfully implement these elementary techniques or c) the only idiot on the planet without the happiest baby on the block.

I realize that so many parents swear by this book (Jean). Personally, my time spent with Dr. Karp was similar to some of the dates that I had with bad boys in my twenties – full of promise with not a lot of follow-through.

Looking back, Dr. Karp wasn’t to blame for my reaction to his book. My expectations were. If I were writing a “What to Expect” book, it would have a super long title. One like: “Don’t have expectations about what your baby is going to need. Babies are generally alike, but they are also individuals, like us. Some of us like strawberries and squash, just like some babies like swaddling and shushing. Moms want to be prepared. We want to have answers and solutions, but sometimes there aren’t any. As cute as babies are, they often refuse to be tied up neatly with a bow (or to be swaddled).”

That would be the title and it would include two pieces of essential advice. 1) Trust your mom instincts and 2) Eventually, babies stop crying anyway.

There you go. Now, where’s my nine dollars? Oh, wait; I don’t have the title “Doctor” before my name. My mistake.

Stephanie of Mommy, For Real

A friend of mine told me last week about an unsavory incident she experienced during a game of peekaboo with her toddler. While my friend obediently covered her eyes, her two year old daughter put her tongue in Mommy’s mouth. Ew. See, these are the things we have come to expect as parents. There is no dignity; our basic human rights are violated on a daily basis. If you were to observe these events outside the context of parenting, there may be cause for alarm; perhaps it might even be appropriate to panic and alert the authorities. Can you imagine, in a bizarre Quantum Leap sort of scenario, finding yourself in one of the following disturbing scenes?

  • You wake up in the morning, startled, because someone has put a knee to your throat.
  • While you are laying on the floor stretching, somebody suddenly sits on your face.
  • You discover that another person's urine has somehow dripped onto your foot. Now it's inexplicably on your elbow.
  • While working in the garden, you suddenly realize that a small person is licking your leg.
  • After failing to respond appropriately to the proclamation that “A bear is coming!” (note: the correct response is to gasp, “Oh no!” and hide under your bedsheets) you receive a skull to the pubic bone, knee to the boob, and foot in the face.
  • While preparing oatmeal for the family breakfast, you notice that someone is dry-humping your leg. (To clarify, it’s not your husband.)
  • While reading a bedtime story, you are suddenly, without warning, subjected to an overly aggressive Eskimo kiss against your will.
Should you find yourself in one of these situations, stay calm. There is no need to dial 911. You’re just a parent.

Jean of Mama, Schmama

jeanI wasn’t prepared for all the little things when I had children. Living with a kid means living with toys, and anything more complex than a rattle comes with little annoying pieces. After bringing the toys into the house, eventually (and in my house that really means immediately) the pieces scatter. These toy crumbs appear everywhere and stick around like dried snot on a kid’s face.

Lately, our ever-present toy crumb has been the tail with the stick. Tail with the stick (TWTS) is blue and it belongs to a fish. TWTS travels around our house mysteriously and lands in the most unlikely places. TWTS was in my bed. As I got comfortable one night, my foot touched something under the sheets. “OH SHIT!” I yelled, thinking I kicked a mouse or a bug. No, it was TWTS. I saw it in the silverware drawer. TWTS occasionally enhances my car’s Garbage Chic by hanging out on the floor. I feel like I’ve thrown TWTS away ten times already.

Soon I will make it a point to get rid of TWTS, and push it to the bottom of the trash where it will not be found. Inevitably, that’s when someone will ask where the toy crumb went. “MOM! I need TWTS so I can get the squirt gun to work.”

It is only certain that a toy crumb has disappeared forever when it is requested and when we finally know its purpose.

Jen of My Skewed View

My Skewed View by Jen Kehl
All I ever wanted when I grew up was to be a mom. Don't get me wrong; I am not the soccer mom/room mother/girl scout leader type of mom. I wanted to be the mom from That 70's Show (well my life was that 70's show and I wanted to be my best friend's mom); you know where everyone hung out, got fed and I was joyfully oblivious. What I didn't realize was there was gonna be a life between 0-16. And, although I'm pretty sure that my son will be the guy whose house you want to hang at, I never thought of the type of personality it would take to be the guy everyone wants to be around. Yeah, no one ever warned me about the things the cool kid might do, like this:

  • Almost burn the house down by making a torch -- shoving paper towels in an empty paper towel roll (lighting it on the stove while I had my back turned) so he could see in the dark dungeon.
  • Spontaneously mimic the sound of a fire engine siren perfectly. When all is calm and quiet. And your back is turned. Same sound and same volume. Causing temporary deafness.
  • Shatter a glass door to pieces with a sledgehammer because it was fun.
  • Force his mother to make videos of him singing/making how to videos/performing in shows. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
  • Make a rope swing from the second floor balcony and swing around the kitchen when unsupervised for 5 MINUTES.
  • Lock a babysitter out of the house.
  • Tie a babysitter up with caution tape and sit on her until I get home.
  • Try to french kiss his mother.
  • And I would stake my life on this one: Pretend to smoke and use an old Zippo lighter to light that fake cigarette or pipe, whenever someone his parents want to impress comes to the house. And then offer him one too.
Motherhood is not at all what I thought it would be, and, frankly, I was completely unprepared to raise a boy. But now that I've settled in, I've gotta say that it's pretty awesome and I wouldn't have it any other way.



Ouchies and stickers. Two things I was not prepared for as a parent.

I mean boys and ouchies go together hand and hand, we all know that, right? I just wasn’t expecting so many of the ouchies to be mine. One Year Old expresses love through biting. Four Year Old expresses frustration with kicks. Both throw things to express happiness, disdain, agreement, protest, uncertainty and every other emotion in the book. Enter my right eye.

I’ve decided to write this post when my right eye was on some sort of a karmic repentance journey, absorbing extremely ouchy gestures of love and fury less than a week apart. They say love is blinding. They’re right. So are kicks. So my right eye was an evil dictator in a previous life. Does that mean it doesn’t deserve help this time around? When I called the eye clinic to explain what had happened, the receptionist on the other side of the line tried to sound understanding, but I was making it very difficult for her: "Your one year old GRABBED your eye?!"... "Yes. Exactly."..."And, then, my four year old accidentally kicked it."... "Oh."

Ouchies and stickers go together (visit any pediatrician’s office to find out), but not if you’re mama. My stickers show up unexpectedly and they’re everywhere. Last week, I was leaving home to attend this year’s first parent BBQ at Four Year Old’s new school. I made an effort. I was wearing makeup, a dress shirt and a blazer. On my left hand there were two stickers: a blue car and another car saying “feel better”. I’d noticed them. Three hours later, I’d noticed them again. It was right before bedtime. Oh well.

Sarah of Left Brain Buddha
I am one of those lucky women who didn’t really have morning sickness. A few brief weeks of queasiness in the first trimester, and then I was fine. I thought I had escaped the nauseating moments of motherhood. Sure, I had babysat as a teenager, and I even worked in a daycare center for several years, so I knew about diapers, and spit up, and boogers. But I also knew about hand sanitizer. Armed with Lysol and Purell, I was ready to take on the gross inconveniences that would necessarily accompany the sweetness of my baby.

However, I never expected these nauseating, revolting, and downright repulsive experiences:

  • I never expected diaper explosions that seemed to contain more cubic volume of poop than could actually fit inside my child.
  • I never expected the extreme revulsion I would experience each time I used the “booger sucker” to remove more cubic volume of mucus than I thought could actually fit inside an infant’s head. I would have rather picked poop out of my baby’s hair with my bare hands than remove snot. Thinking of it even now turns my stomach. Speaking of which…
  • I never expected that a two-year-old could vomit with such force that chunks of regurgitated pineapple would land on me, in the driver’s seat, while my daughter puked in her carseat behind me.
  • I never expected to be in a doctor’s bathroom, my daughter perched on the toilet, my hands holding a urine sample cup underneath her, my bare arm ACTUALLY TOUCHING the center part of a public toilet, while my hand and fingers got splashed with my daughter’s pee.
Sometimes, there’s just not enough hand sanitizer in the world. I never expected that.

Sarah of The Sadder But Wiser Girl

The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Nowhere in any of those books I read was a chapter entitled “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses Their Glasses”.

When my daughter was a toddler, she snatched them off my face, threw them on the floor, and broke them. Two pairs. Might I add two pairs broken in similar fashion in two different grocery stores. My son? On several occasions in grocery stores he smacked my glasses off my face accidentally. I don’t think I owned a pair of glasses that were intact until my daughter had reached the ripe old age of two and a half.

Nowhere was there anything preparing for the physicality of motherhood.
Or the whole glasses thing.
Or the whole fact that I was unable to walk or turn my head after having my second child.
Or that lying on the floor was, in fact, a hazard when my daughter used me as a hurdle and kicked me in the head half a hundred dozen times. You’d really think I’d learn after the whole hundred times.
Or the whole licking thing, which is something else entirely, because my older child has licked every surface in the state of Iowa.

Those books? I read them until my husband forbade me from reading them, because I took every little thing that happened seriously. I must admit I was prepared for breastfeeding and illnesses and stuff like that. But the glasses and the licking stuff? Not.So.Much.

Kristi of Finding Ninee

Prior to becoming a mother, I thought I knew love, and realized that I had no idea what it truly was until I held my son for the first time. I wasn’t expecting how my heart would grow when I first heard him laugh, or found myself standing over him while he slept. I wasn’t expecting the intensity of my emotions.

Turns out, there are other things about parenting that were unexpected as well. Following are a few snippets from conversations recently had in my house. Ones that none of the parenting books prepared me for.

  • “I’m not giving you a shoulder ride until you put your pants back on. I don’t want your penis on my neck.”
  • Me, after a tickling session went wrong and ended with my son accidentally headbutting the bridge of my nose: “I think it’s broken. I saw stars and heard a crunch.” Hub’s reply “Nah, I think if it were broken, it’d be bleeding.”
  • “Breasts are not for ‘beeping’ or ‘boinging,’ okay?”
  • “Mommy’s shirt is not a Kleenex.”
  • “Ouch! You can jump on the bed. You cannot jump on my stomach.”
  • “Is that poop on your finger?”
  • “No, I’d rather not eat your booger. Thanks, though.”
So, yeah. While osmosis and parenting books prepared me for the fact that I’d get peed on, pooped on, and catch vomit in my hands, not a single one warned me that my kid would accidentally break my nose, offer me his booger as a snack or want a shoulder ride while not wearing pants.

"Not wearing pants" seemed an appropriate place to end a post about the many things that were left out of parenting books. Did you read all the way through or did you skim? Sorry, but there isn't really an actual prize. But if you read it all, there is the fact that you've most definitely been thoroughly entertained, and you can follow all these fabulous ladies on Facebook, too! Thanks for joining us for our very first group post. 

Feel free to add your own dashed mom expectations below. We know that there are many, many more parenting surprises just waiting to be shared...

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The Tao of Poop
Mommy, for Real
Mama Schmama
My Skewed View
Left Brain Buddha
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Finding Ninee

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Letting Go

Source: Technocolor76

“I’m a big, big girl, not a baby, Mama,” Claire announces proudly.

“Yes, you are a big, big girl,” I say with a mix of emotions. The "double” big swells my heart. Yet, there’s also a wistful lump in my throat.

She is big, big. And she’s going to get bigger, bigger!

Today, I am happy and sad. I’m cheering her on her steady march towards childhood, while mourning the disappearance of my baby.

The complexity of my emotions takes me by surprise. Up until now, I have unequivocally celebrated each new milestone, and been completely mesmerized watching Claire’s growth. The particular milestone that has elicited such emotion surprises me too.

I thought I would be shouting from the rooftops, “hooray!”, when we got here. I anticipated yelling, “no more diapers”. I imagined some sort of ritualistic ceremony like setting the diaper genie on fire before throwing it off of a pier and into a river.

Potty training is tripping me up. How about that? Weird, huh?

It’s just that, with every milestone we’ve celebrated so far, some of the baby has still been there. We’ve started solids, learned to sleep through the night, to walk, to throw a ball and climb a wall at the playground, to say "I love you" -- just to name a few of my favorites. The baby has sat alongside each new big, big girl triumph. But potty training seems to have hit me symbolically as the door to babyhood slamming shut.

Today, we celebrate two rites of passage. I am now a mom who has experienced letting go. And Claire is a little girl.


Please join our link-up...

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Geriatric Pregnancy

I must have deserved a medal the time that I decided to try and have a baby at age 44. Or I was crazy. Well, the medical profession seemed to think so.

According to statistics, I was lucky to get pregnant in the first place. Then, once I was pregnant, I was slapped with the most laughable of terms. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I make fun of the fact that an OB told me I was a “geriatric pregnancy”.

I switched to a midwife.

Even at the all-natural, crunchy birthing center where we had Claire, I was told to count on going passed my due date and to be ready to be induced because of my “Advance Maternal Age” (Ah, AMA…slightly better than being a geriatric, but not much).

I didn’t help my plight much by consulting Dr. Google for reassurance. He is the king of doom and
gloom. “Higher risk” usually starts the slew of statistics peppered through the information for moms-to-be of AMA. The worst of which is the word “stillbirth”.

In a sense, I don’t envy the position of those in the medical community though. They need to prepare women for possible outcomes. But there's a fine line between a gentle heads-up, and being just plain old scary. A lot of doctors (and midwives) seem to have this way about them that makes everything that comes out of their mouths seem like a foregone conclusion.

And, really, they have nothing to lose by scaring you. If they are right, they get to say “I told you so”. If they aren’t, they can say, “Well, thank your lucky stars you had a medical provider as excellent as me”.

I can place myself in the latter category. And I am thankful, very, very thankful. While I wouldn’t describe my pregnancy, labor and delivery as a bed of roses, I think it was a good one. No gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. I gained a normal amount of weight. I delivered Claire naturally two days before her due date. My labor was eight hours long from start to finish. I pushed four times, et voila!

Not bad for an old lady, eh?!

If I sound like I’m bragging, well, maybe, a little. But I’m also trying to illustrate a point…

Individuals make up statistics. Individuals are not statistics. Neither are babies.

One of the biggest challenges I faced trying to get pregnant and during my pregnancy was counteracting the negative voices that I heard. Dr. Doom and Gloom definitely set up camp in the back of my head.

He made me scared.

He put doubts in my head about our decision to try.

He made me feel isolated.

Not things that a woman (of any age) needs to feel the first time (or any time) she is pregnant.

Do I really deserve a medal? No. Really, all women who give birth deserve medals. What’s amazing to me is that this feat of daring athleticism happens every minute of every hour of every day!

So I’m qualifying the beginning statement of this post: I deserved a medal for having a baby at 44 in the face of the medical community’s dire predictions about the fate of my baby and me.

In case this statement sounds less than humble or I'm guilty of minimizing the decided risks of pregnancy, let me tell you that I'm being slightly tongue in cheek (slightly). I also know that nothing in life is guaranteed. I know that George and I are lucky and blessed that everything went down the way that it did. I know we could have just as easily been a statistic too.

But women like me deserve to have hope despite the odds. We deserve to be supported along an often daunting, lonely and unpredictable path. We deserve to remember that doctors aren't always right. They are not God, even though they sometimes like to pretend that they are.

Claire and I are living, breathing proof!

To this point, wanna know what I learned after my pregnancy? The statistic about how a woman’s fertility drops like a stone after 35 is based on French birth records from 1670-1830. Yes, you read that correctly. The author of this captivating and eye-opening Atlantic article goes on to say that  "surprisingly few well-designed studies of female age and natural fertility include women born in the 20th century".

Makes you wonder about all the other statistics as well, especially, given this country's stellar record of focusing research dollars on women’s health (dripping sarcasm here, in case you were wondering).

But, whatever the facts may be, I’m happy that I kept my eye on the prize and did my best to ignore Dr. Doom.

Claire is my prize. She is better than any medal!

Connect with: Bloglovin'FBTwitterG+Pinterest

Photo Source: David Rosenbergy, Wikipedia Commons, this photo has been altered, which does not suggest that the licensor endorses me, this blog or its use.

Linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. Come join in: "I deserve a medal for the time I..."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Water Lily

Wife, friend, daughter, sister…Identities are made up of so many experiences, relationships and histories. Our present-day selves informed by past incarnations. Each layer building on the last, like the ruins of a city unearthed in an archeological dig.

Yet, some changes to our identity are so dramatic that metaphors like this are no longer adequate.

Mom…Becoming one is such a cataclysmic shift that life is divided into a “before" me and an “after" me. A more apt metaphor for birth is an earthquake that changes the shape and look of the landscape.

Everything is still there, but different.

When I write about being a friend, a wife or a daughter now, I filter my thoughts through the lens of being a mom. Or I write about how these different identities inform who I am as a mother.

The daughter, the sister, the neighbor, the parts that exist outside of me as a mom have not gone away. Sometimes, it takes someone else to remind you of the “before” you.

Special Needs Teacher...My years in the classroom definitely have an impact on the kind of mother who I am, but in subtle ways that are less accessible from day to day. You probably don't even know about this identity. I haven’t written about this past on my blog.

But Kristi of Finding Ninee wrote a post called I Don't Know Who I'm Crying For that touched me so deeply that I had to respond.

She wrote about Kelly, a mom who tried to kill herself and her 14-year-old daughter, Issy, who has autism. Kristi’s reaction was filtered through her own experience as a mom to her son, Tucker, who has special needs. I venture to guess that such a brave and honest post could have only been written by a mom, and a mom as amazing as Kristi. I doubt that the "before" Kristi could have written it with such raw candor and vulnerability. Here are some of her words:

…I don’t know who I’m crying for. Am I crying for Kelli? For Issy? For Tucker? For me?

Yes, I guess. But I’m not sure.

I am sad. I am mad. I’m mad at Kelli. I’m mad at the situation. I’m mad and scared and hurt and worried that, in some cases, special needs people are SOMETIMES violent. I think that the fact that special needs can include violence is the hardest thing of all for me.

I keep erasing my words. I have to ask myself what bothers me so much about this.

What I’ve come up with is that I don’t want you to think that Tucker is like Issy.

I don’t want Tucker to be like Issy...

Kristi goes on to wonder how violence fits in our world. I am grateful that she has agreed to publish my response to her query. I'm grateful for Kristi's many identities -- my friend, mom to Tucker, writer, passionate crusader for children with special needs, compassionate carer of us all.

I'm honored to have my post on her blog. It's called The Water Lily, if you would care to take a look.


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Photo Source: Flickr, Donna Sutton

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Mama" is a Universal Word

mama and child

Every culture has a form of the word“mama” in it’s language -– the mmm sound, followed by a vowel that means "mother". How uncanny! And fitting. After all, the experience of mothering is universal in so many ways. While every child is unique and individual, children will be children. Sometimes, this truth is to our delight, other times, to our dismay.

Either way, we experience many of the same stages of development and watch our children reach similar milestones. Both happen at varying times for each child with individual shadings and amplitudes, but, often times, the commonalities between us outweigh our differences.

Despite our commonalities, moms generally connect around them after the fact. The moments worthy of sharing happen first between mama and child, intimate and one-one-one. A beautiful thing, for sure, but potentially isolating as well.

I think that’s one of the reasons we all like being part of the mom blogger community. We read each other’s posts looking for that “I KNOW!” feeling. We seek validation that our experience is shared by moms around the world. We may not have exactly the same experience or always agree with each other’s solutions or parenting philosophies, but, one way or another, we can relate to the many trials, tribulations, and triumphs of raising children.

Tell me who among you hasn't felt the hand of the writer coming through the computer and touching you in that unique mom place in your heart? Who has not laughed so hard at something you’re reading that your significant other just had to know what’s so funny?

So many writers have struck a chord with me, lightened my mood, made me feel understood or less alone. In fact, I learned the amazing tidbit about the universality of the word "mama" from my blogger friend, Therese. Then, there's Katia and her post about our dreams and expectations for our kids. Kristi’s post about feeling the fleeting nature of youth. Jean’s about negotiating the tricky, unwritten rules of the playground.  Stephanie’s about those times when mommy guilt rears its ugly head. Deb’s about the many ways that toddlers can drive you insane.

So many, alas, I'm leaving so many out! I have just scratched the surface of the many moms who have had me nodding, laughing or crying. Sometimes all three. The connection I have felt to each one of them has been invaluable to me as a mom. On a particularly hard day, it's the only thing that has kept me going!

I started thinking about the connections between moms because of Taming The Goblin. I’ve looked forward to reading post by my mom blogger friend "The Monko" every Sunday for all of the reasons I've mentioned above. Then, she asked me to consider co-hosting the Sunday Parenting Party link-up, along with her and several other terrific bloggers. I was honored and excited, because SPP is a hop specifically for posts about parenting issues, advice and experiences (see description below) and a great place to connect with like-minded writers. So...welcome to the Sunday Parenting Party! I do hope you will link a parenting post. I'm so glad to be part of the SPP community and hope you will be too!


Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)

Tao of Poop 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Newborn Hoarders

The Demas family did a big move recently, which is why I've been MIA from these parts. Miss me? That's my most pressing question. A close second...

Why do first-time parents amass so much baby stuff? 

Packing for the move brought so many dirty secrets to my attention. I couldn't believe how many bibs, burp clothes and blankets I found crammed into corners of closets.

Stuff we never used!

I could have been flabbergasted by such profligacy. But then I remembered what it was like preparing for the arrival of baby. My husband, George, and I were swimming in uncharted retail waters.

I'm an expert shopper for me. I buy a skirt, I know my size or what will go with it in my closet. That new couch will have to match our Oriental rug and hide black cat hair.

Buying for baby numero uno means no compass or map serves as your guide. 

You walk down the aisles of Babys R Us, pitching items into your cart left and right in a paranoid frenzy, which is driven by the vain hope that you have covered every conceivable contingency, circumstance and emergency imaginable. If you aren’t careful, you get momentum going and end up with a baby food maker by Remco, and 50 pairs of baby socks. You get enticed by the mesmerizing purple color of Ibuprofen in liquid form. You get sidetracked by the cuteness factor, and buy a wool jacket that will fit her in August.

Likewise, rationality goes out the window when you are confronted with baby products that you had existed before, and suddenly seem essential for raising a morally-upstanding child. Nose Frieda, Gripe Water, tiny emory boards, all were like revelations from above. You say to yourself, "How did parents ever live without this stuff?" You even go so far as to feel smug about how much better you have it than your mom, all thanks to man's giant step forward in the baby-paraphernalia department.
text with diaper genie
no idea

Then, the baby comes, and you realize that the Diaper Genie isn't going to grant your wish for a good night's sleep.

Before the stork delivers...well, it's close to impossible to plan for an unknown entity. I heard the following question from my husband over and over again, “Are we going to need that?” My repeated response was “I don’t know. I’ve never had a baby”.

Many head-scratchers began with the words “how many” or “what size”. How many diapers? How long will she be in newborn clothes? Like the proverbial trying to read the instructions outside of the box you’re in, it’s all a big mystery.

I was a Girl Scout. I like to be prepared. In my mind, that meant buying two of everything. If one is good, two is better. Yes, I knew I was not Noah and The Ark, but I was nine months pregnant. Therefore, I was as big as Noah's Ark, and the hormones pumping through my body did not render me an exemplar of rationality.

A good piece of advice for new parents is to keep receipts. I doubt there is a more prolific return aisle than the one at Babys R Us. If you don’t, you will end up with what George calls “The Land of Forgotten Toys”. He was good about keeping the receipts, but then returning stuff turned into a job.

And one thing a new parent does not need is another job.

We had piles of things that needed to be packed in their boxes, boxes cluttering the hallway, lists made of replacement items. Our house began to manifest qualities of one from the TV show Hoarders, as the result of conversations that started or ended with something like this: "That’s the second swing that’s made her cry."…"Why did we buy so many sheets?"…"Who conned us into thinking we needed a (fill in the blank)?"

I can look back on our retail adventures and smile now. As Claire gets older and we get wiser, we have become much more strategic in our purchases. The basics are checked off our list. I have the next-size clothes folded, ready to roll. They go with the season, thank you very much.

Now that we've unpacked the new house, a sense of order has returned to our lives and household….Well, that's clearly wishful thinking on my part. We now have a toddler with all of the disarray that this recent development implies.

Plus, a new retail situation seems to be unfolding before my eyes: If anyone has advice about what to do with the growing mound of toys that's slowly taking over our living room like an unchecked disease, please feel free to leave a comment below…

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Act Your Age?

"Growing Old is Mandatory; Growing Up is Optional"...This phrase caught my eye on a man's t-shirt today. I'd never seen it before. Have you?

I thought it was funny, because Claire can wear me out and make me feel ancient beyond my years sometimes. But she can also make me feel like a kid again too. In some ways, I seem to be enjoying childhood even more the second time around. I will even go so far as to say that there are times I like playing kid things more than Claire:

1) Playdough has similar soothing properties to a glass of wine or Prozac. Squish it through your fingers, let its shape slowly morph into a snake or a flower, braid it and wear it as a necklace or crown. See, I’m relaxed just thinking about the Zen of it.

2) Blocks are the opposite of Playdough. They satisfy my Type A impulses. Build the tallest tower, and beat your personal best. Experiment with the physics of where each block is placed. Watch the aerodynamics of how the tower falls. The world fades away, as I become completely absorbed in the task at hand. Claire gets bored and gives up before me every time.

3) Somewhere along the way, dancing stopped being a regular actvity in my life and was relegated to The Macerana a few times a year at the random, cheesy wedding. Enter The Hokey Pokey. It’s not quite the same as clubbing ‘til the wee hours of the morning, but my daily dose of Shake My Sillies Out does remind me of the days I used to shake it like a Polaroid picture. Plus, there are bonuses to The Hokey Pokey. It can be done in a nightgown without the need for showering or putting on makeup. When I do The Hokey Pokey, I don't have to deal with a hangover the next morning or the walk home in high heels either.

4) Reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie over and over again is sure to be the death of me. On the other hand, Mother Goose provides me with endless fascination. Of course, the rhythm and rhyme is fabulous, but the real sweet spot is contemplating how perverse the words are and, by extension, wondering what is up with those Brits anyway. The most priceless piece of political incorrectness: “I went to London to BUY me a wife”. Of course, when I read this one to Claire, this purportedly feminist mama changes “buy” to “find”, which is perhaps marginally better. But, seriously, “buy”? No matter, I continue to read… marveling about the fact that these tales were read to children in the first place, as well as the great mystery of why I’m sharing them with my daughter with such delight now.

5) I could wax on and on about the magic of those shakable, musical eggs. Whoever invented them deserves a medal for the giant step forward in children’s toy design. I love shaking those eggs. They are the perfect ergonomic shape to fit in your palm. The sound they make is the definition of satisfaction. The weird part is that they only work when you are the one shaking them. When other people shake them, they are just, plain loud.

So many good excuses not to act my age. I'll take any opportunity I can get to let go of adult preoccupations and responsibilities, and just be. I'm grateful that Claire is showing me that I can keep growing old without growing up.

How do you like to play with your kids? What makes you feel young again?

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