Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thank You

To my children's teachers -

Thank you so much for a wonderful year. We've had our ups and downs throughout - days where leaving mommy was a lot harder than anyone really wanted. Thank you for your patience on those days.

Days where leaving my babies was a lot harder than mommy expected. Your compassion and understanding were sources of comfort to me - you knew what I was feeling, and reassured me that you loved my little ones as much as I did (or almost, anyway!).

You laughed with me when my kids were so excited to be at school that they didn't even want to say goodbye -they wanted to just get right into playing and learning.

You celebrated with me when my daughter began to feel comfortable enough to try to practice her words and sentences with you. You celebrated as much as I did when she started saying 'Love You!' You were thrilled when she trusted you so much that she'd join in when story time came or tried to sing or came to you with her troubles (an owie, help with shoes or coat, help with problems with friends).

My children have learned so much about the world from you. Sharing and taking turns, that mommy comes back, that you are loved outside of their home and their family.

We appreciate everything you do and we can't wait to see you again after a relaxing and fun summer.

Thank you teachers, from the bottom of my heart, because those are the best words to explain my immense gratitude for a wonderful school year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Off The Rails

So, it has been awhile since I've posted. Blame my scattered mind, my silly children who insist on my attention (the nerve!), and my anxiety about even starting this topic because I am not sure I can do it justice or really explain well what I mean. But I'm going to try.

Have you ever felt like your life is a train and you have totally jumped the rails and are living some alternative life? I'm not talking about regrets. Everyone has regrets - that is just the way life is, and sometimes those regrets are small and sometimes they are HUGE - but a regret-free life is impossible. No, what I am talking about is well, direction, I guess. To explain, I am going to have to delve into the personal.

When I was a young teenager, it felt like my life was on track. I had a happy childhood, in a small town. We lived with my grandmother, my best friend lived next door, we walked to school, rode bikes all over, knew almost everyone. If I could give my kids my childhood, or something similar, I would. I hope to do so, as well as I can, since it is a different time and a different society.

 I was 13, so I didn't know what track my life would be (although I had a general idea: high school, college, marriage, kids, things like that). My mother was finally home and healed (mostly) from an illness I'd rather not go into but that kept her in and out of our house and day-to-day lives for at least a year. Things were good. I had best friends, hobbies, a brand new niece to spoil....

When I turned 15, my parents divorced. Now that I am an adult, I realize they must have been unhappy for a long time, but of course, I was oblivious as a child. But it came out of left-field for me. It was a shock, and I didn't deal with it in a very healthy way. Basically, I sucked in all negative emotions, put on a happy "we'll get through this face" and didn't deal with anything. My sister and I lived with our dad, our mom stayed in our childhood home and we visited often, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't ideal. It wasn't as happy. But it worked, and I adjusted, and moved on, and learned that it could be happy.

When I was 17, my mother died.

And ever since I was a teenager, my life has felt like it has been completely off the tracks. That isn't to say that I am unhappy. I am very happy. My husband is fantastic. My kids are wonderful and I love them dearly. I have a good education that I will put to use (more than I already do) when they go to school full-time and don't need me as much. I have good friends, including my best friends from childhood, and I am making new friends. My family, though far away, is awesome (especially my sisters) I am happy about where I live. Things aren't perfect, of course, but I have a good life and I am grateful.

But sometimes, I feel like it is the WRONG life. Like a long, long time ago my train jumped the tracks and I am living in a completely different direction. Sometimes, I think if I turn my head I will see another track with a train, running parallel to mine, but also my life. It doesn't happen often, but enough that I know I need to hug my kids, hug my husband, go for a run, read a happy book - something to bring me back into focus. I get this weird feeling, kind of like deja vu, but not exactly. Maybe all I am feeling is adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it - the feeling like 'this isn't what I imagined being an adult - being a wife and a mother - would be like.' I honestly have no idea. But I thought, if I wrote about it, maybe someone would comment and say "Yes! I feel that way too sometimes!" Or "No, you are completely crazy. Consider therapy." Or maybe, it's just good writing practice and something I needed to get out of my head.

Cheers readers. As always, comments are encouraged and welcomed.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What a SAHM Contributes

I think there has been a lot of articles, and blog posts, and Facebook statuses, and memes going around that does a better job than I will of saying exactly what being a stay-at-home-mom means. One of my favorites floats around and gets republished occasionally, usually around Mother's Day.


I look it up almost once a week. Because, you see, unless something has a dollar symbol on it, I don't think it is really appreciated in our society by the majority of people. Except as lip-service. I was talking with some close friends of mine today, after I did something that was a totally stupid accident but that cost my family quite a bit of money. Which we don't really have. And naturally, it set off those feelings that I am sure all moms have, but especially stay at home moms, the ones that don't 'contribute' to the family in the same way someone who has a salary does. Guilt is a powerful force. Every parent struggles with it in some form or another: Did I do enough? Too much? Help enough? Help too much? Am I working hard enough at work? At home? etc. Life is hard to balance and adding kids just ups the ante. Anyway, when you start to fall down the rabbit hole of guilt, it is helpful to also climb back up by taking stock on what you actually contribute. It is helpful to see that when you do an art project with your kid, you are a preschool teacher. When you are doing laundry, dusting, doing dishes, you are a housekeeper. This morning you drove you kids to preschool and the doctor? Chauffeur. Putting up pictures, folding cozy blankets, organizing that cupboard? You are an interior decorator, professional organizer - you are making a house a HOME. That is important to children. It is important to society. I don't want to sound like a Victorian here, but a cozy and comfortable home is important for people to have, because the 'real' world is scary, and hard, and extremely not fun to deal with at times. Failing is easy but getting up and trying again and again is hard. And parenting is just one great, big chance at failure. At actually failing - to be 'enough' for your family, if you outside the home, or if you stay at home- and then getting up and saying, 'I'll try to do better today.'

After I screwed up, I apologized. This morning, I very carefully took off band-aids stuck on my daughter's stuffed animals. And in return, I got a big hug and a gushing "Oh, THANK YOU, Mommy!" It took rubbing alcohol and a few minutes of my time, but it meant something to my daughter. When I make them puffy paint and sit and talk with them or even paint with them, I am not being lazy. I am being THERE, to hear them talk about their days, their colors, and even just life. That, right there...being in the moment, whatever it is, with your kids, is enough to fight off any guilt you feel, is proof that you are contributing and are important. It doesn't take a dollar sign to show value. It just takes you being their mom or dad.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Own It!

This might come off as a judgmental post and I really, really don't want to be a sanctimommy. But can we please stop talking about kids as picky eaters? I know that there are some kids out there that are truly picky - mainly because of sensory problems or feeding issues/medical issues, nutritional needs, or allergies. But kids in this country (I'm in the United States) are horrible eaters because we, the parents, LET THEM.

You know all those articles and posts about things "I said I'd never do and then did?" Most parents have them. There are some that are impossible to avoid (tantrums in public, for example). But a lot of them are the result of parents caving in, for whatever reason. And catering to 'picky' eating is one of them. Your kids won't be able to eat crap food if you don't provide it. Simple. As. That.

And yes, I know how judgmental that sounds. I am not saying that kids don't have preferences - every person does. I, personally, gag at the texture of raw oysters. Just thinking about it, right now, makes me have to fight off a gag reflex. I feel the same way about the smell of Pepto-Bismol (which I realize is, technically, not food). I am also not saying that you can't keep your kids' preferences in mind when cooking dinner. But only eating three foods, two of which involve sugar of some kind (and yes, I recently heard of a kid who would only eat three foods) is not a preference for most kids - it's an exercise in control and seeing just how far you'll let them go.

My kids are great eaters, with the 2 year old being better than the 4 year old (I blame peer pressure from preschool. When you hear other kids saying that broccoli is gross, it's hard not to suddenly hate broccoli). The 4 year old has preferences - she prefers raw carrots to cooked, pasta and bread to meat of any kind, and peas over broccoli. We still cook carrots, have chicken, and eat broccoli. Back when my husband and I were talking about these things, we agreed on a few overall guidelines. In my opinion, for MOST kids (again, not those with allergies, or sensory issues, or feeding issues, or anything of that nature), these guidelines will work. And it will cut down on the whole problem of "my kid will only eat....what do I do?"

1. They eat what you eat. None of that specially packaged or printed 'kids' foods. When we go to a restaurant, we get two entrees and they share ours. We allow the 4 year old to pick her own, if she wants to, and she often wants french fries with her meal. We're good with that, since it's a special occasion to eat out. When we are at home, they eat (or refuse to eat) what we make. If they try it and don't like it, they are allowed some form of fruit - a banana was the choice last night because 4 didn't like the lentils with caramelized onions.

2. We don't eat fast food. I can honestly count on both hands the times my kids have ever eaten fast food. Those times are usually because we are on a road trip. They don't like fast food, even the french fries at McDonald's (for the most part, sometimes they will eat them). We stop at McDonald's to let them play at the playplace and let off some steam. We do the same at Chick-Fil-A. As a result, they don't beg for McDonald's. We don't pass a McD's and have screaming fits because we aren't eating there. They don't request it. And yes, we BRAG about this, because we think it's awesome. Plus, we don't have to deal with extra tantrums. It's a win-win-win: better health, better palates, and fewer tantrums.

3. We don't do the short-order cook thing. We have dinner planned and cooked and they either eat it, or they choose not to. We encourage them to try things: the one bite rule. If they choose not to eat, we then choose an alternative (fruit, or a veggie usually) only if we think they're especially hungry (after gymnastics for my four year old, or a day at the park for both). We don't cook a special meal of pasta just for them (unless my husband and I are eating later on for a 'date night.' In which case, they get pasta as their dinner, and aren't allowed to eat another meal).

4. We don't allow a ton of snacking. They get snacks - even unhealthy ones (donuts are a favorite) but constant grazing isn't allowed. If they aren't constantly eating, it's far more likely they will actually eat dinner of some form - even if all they do is eat the rice we made with the chicken. We don't harp on this, and we don't bribe.

5. We don't do dessert. There is no "if you eat...., then you get..." at our house (no bribery - #4). This means that they don't look at a healthy meal as somehow worse than dessert - the thing you have to force down before getting the good thing. We also rarely allow candy - no hard candy of any kind before the age of 3 (it's bad for teeth, unhealthy, and a choking hazard). They get some candy in Easter baskets, Christmas stockings, from grandparents - who have carte blanche with spoiling with very few hard and fast rules (see #6 and no hard candy) and as bribery during potty training (didn't work because my 4 year old doesn't especially like chocolate - she takes after her father in that way unfortunately).

6. They drink water or milk. No juice. No soda. No energy drinks (I shake my head at adults using these, but that's my personal opinion). No coffee or frappuccinos - yes, there are people who allow their young children this! We only recently started allowing our oldest to have hot chocolate.

We decided before they were born that they were going to have healthy food. We wanted to teach them moderation, healthy eating habits, and to like a variety of things. To some, this is strict. I know of one of my friends that thinks I'm slightly crazy. But I think we've come up with a really good balance - I don't ban sugar or baked goods (my kids love to make cookies and cupcakes), we aren't strict vegans or do paleo or anything like that, and while we have to contend with SOME picky eating habits (my daughter has recently started saying "Yuck", to anything we set in front of her, but that's really more of a manners issue, they are usually nipped in the bud because we don't cater to them. If my four year old doesn't want to eat dinner, I know she's not starving and I can relax. I know she'll eat a good breakfast, have a healthy snack the next morning, or eat a good lunch. We don't allow crappy foods in the house, so she can't ask for them which means I don't have to worry about what she chooses. The rules are clear - and four year olds LOVE rules.

Saying no is possible. Starting it early means they may not like it, but it's always been that way and they know no other way. We aren't perfect, but it's possible to have healthy eaters, even ones that have their own preferences, if you are consistent. This goes for so many other things when it comes to kids. And it's why, if your kid is a picky eater, and not one because they have a sensory issue or a medical issues, you need to own up to the possibility that it's because you allowed them to be, and either change something, or embrace it. Parents can't be perfect after all.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Another Article Out There In The Multiverse

Hey loyal readers (I assume there are some out there, right?)

In my quest to be a 'real' writer, I submitted a post to Her View From Home.

Please, please - head over and take a look at my writing, and all the other talented writers over there. Here's the link:


More interesting posts to come (I have a TON of ideas lately) and as always, feel free to comment.

Thanks for the support!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

15 Things That Make You a Horrible Mother: According to Sanctimommies (Hint: You’re Probably Doing Them

 A Game : For each thing you did/do, take those points and add them to the end to find out just how horrible a mother you really are:

1. Having a Hospital Birth (Why didn’t you have a dangerous home birth with an unqualified midwife – it’s much more natural?) - 5
2. With an Epidural (You’ll end up with a C-section; How will you bond with a drugged up baby?)- 6
3. Having an unplanned C-Section (You didn’t really give birth, and it probably wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been in the hospital, using an epidural!)  – 8
4. Having a planned C-Section (How selfish! Choosing convenience over the magical experience of giving birth) - 10
5. Formula Feeding (Why would you feed your baby poison!?) - 6
6. Using Disposable Diapers (Well, if you want to ensure your baby has lots of rashes and you hate the environment….)- 5
7. Working (Why even have kids if you’re not going to raise them?!) - 10
8. Working at Home (How can you possibly pay enough attention to them if you’re working – it’s just confusing for them.) - 7
9. Staying at Home instead of being an Example about working women (Why would you waste your education and talent JUST staying at home. What do you DO all day? Aren’t you bored out of your mind not having any work to do?)  - 6
10. Doing Cry It Out (It’s abusive!)- 9
11. Using a Stroller (Sure, keep your baby penned in an unnatural device that you push far away from you.) – 5
12. Crib Sleeping (Babies are supposed to sleep close to their moms so they feel safe) - 7
13.  Screen Time (Any tv time at all will rot your kids’ brains) – 6
14. Homeschool (Are you a crazy religious fanatic that doesn’t believe in science or history?) – 6
15. Public School (How can you let the government indoctrinate your children?!!)-6

Tally up your score.
0-10: You are a horrible mother but you’re redeemable. Maybe you should listen to me!
10-30: You are a horrible mother. Buy my book and you will be better!
31-60: You are a horrible mother; you should probably not have more kids though!
60+: You are a horrible mother, give your baby to me to raise!

Seriously – we’re all doing the best we can. Short of endangering our children (or others’), abusing them, or neglecting them – you are NOT a horrible mother. We’re in this together. Good luck, mommas.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Real Job

I have a dilemma; a really guilty feeling. The feeling that I am not contributing enough - to my husband, to my family, to society in general. I don't know if other stay-at-home moms feel like this, but I know that I do. And it's been right under my skin for months now. Little comments get to me and start me to wonder exactly how people look at me, what they see and think. Not strangers either - friends, family members, acquaintances.

It's not something I've been bringing up, just something I've been thinking about. Constantly. It's like a buzzing in my ears - I always know it's there, even when I manage to forget about it. Every day, I wonder if I am doing enough. Not for my kids, exactly, although I'm sure I'm NOT doing enough. No, this is a generalized feeling that people think I am not contributing. Not pulling my weight. Not feeling grateful for what others (my husband mostly) are providing TO ME.
I hear comments like,

"Do you think she'll stay home after she has kids? I hope not, what a waste of intelligence." 
"Do you know how rare it is that you are staying at home?"
 "Do you work?"
"I'm so jealous. I wish I could stay at home."

These are innocent. They aren't directed specifically at me, or at least, not in a vicious way - they are just comments. Conversations. Things that we bring up when we talk about parental leave, and salaries, and working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, and politics, and parenting. And yet....

I DO work. It's just not called that, is it?  But am I working hard enough to justify me staying at home to raise my kids. Am I being a good enough mother that society will accept that, yes, staying home was the best decision. Think about those words. Stay-at-home. As though you have decided that you will let someone else, a sugar daddy, (is that still the term?) do all the hard work of earning a salary while you sleep in, eat bon bons, watch tv, NOT WORK. As though being the one to do the day-to-day raising of kids, and the day-to-day cleaning and shopping and any of the other little things that add up in a home, in a family - the stuff that daycare workers and maids and chefs are PAID to do (and not enough, especially the daycare workers and maids!) isn't real work. Isn't really a contribution. Is just staying at home. How much do you have to do at home for it to be a real contribution? If your husband helps you out a ton, does that mean you're not doing enough? That you aren't pulling your weight? If he lets you have alone time, or does the dishes, or cooks most of the meal, does that mean you are being lazy? Not being grateful? These are my thoughts.

This feels like a stream of consciousness, because it is. I don't know exactly where I'm going with this post. Am I ungrateful when I complain about having a hard day? Because I don't work, you see, and so how hard could it have been? Am I allowed to be stressed? To just want a break. I chose stay at home, didn't I? There are certain things wrong with that statement now, but yes, in the beginning I did choose to stay home.

Did I waste my education, am I wasting all the time and effort that went into getting two master's degrees? What will I do later, when the kids don't need me so much. I PLAN on getting a job later on but it's important to me to be at home. I have my reasons and they are only mine, based on my life and my kids and my choices. But are they ENOUGH?!

I really don't want to start a mommy war. Working at outside jobs (and what a clumsy statement, right?) moms are heroes to me for a whole host of reasons. I don't think they're shirking their parenting role or have an easier time of the whole parenting thing. These are just thoughts I keep having...call it insecurity, or guilt. And I have no answers. None at all. I just want the worries and thoughts to stop.