Sunday, March 29, 2015

46 Reasons Why My Three Year Old Might Be Freaking Out

This is not original content and I thank Jason Good for creating this painfully accurate list of 46 reasons why a child might be freaking out.

http://jasongood.net/365/2012/12/46-reasons-why-my-three-year-old-might-be-freaking-out/

If you can imagine the response/reaction of an 18-month old, not a three year old, you have entered my life.

May you be grateful that none of these things ring true or may you, too, be grateful that Jason Good knows your pain!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Milestones. Pregnancy is the New Wedding

Becoming a parent is a life milestone that you're supposed to come at with excitement, joy, love, and even promise of a better tomorrow. Sounds a lot to me like how a person is expected to enter marriage. So to me, this means pregnancy is like an engagement - a time to adjust to and begin accepting the imminent life changes that each life milestone will bring.

During a pregnancy and engagement, you spend months reading books, looking at magazines and trolling Pinterest and the Internet for information and ideas.  You see smiling faces, read stories about things you vow you'll never try or do, and get some ideas/tips for how to tackle the endless list of all the "best" things you can do to have the happiest baby/wedding - not only on the block - but that anyone you know has ever seen.

So there you are, drowning in information and realizing that you have a lot of choices to make. Choices that seem daunting -- white, off white, ecru? -- swing or bouncer? -- and you become emotionally invested in these decisions as if these are the things that are going to define your wedding or parenting experience. It feels very real as these are some of the first choices you're making as a wife or parent.

You make your choices and feel proud about what you've created -- a dream wedding/a dream nursery -- and you wait anxiously for the day to arrive when you get to enjoy your creation. You are showered by friends and family and listen patiently as free advice is poured upon you, as are stories that fill your heart and stories that break your heart. You look at your "village people" and aren't quite entirely sure why you'll need an entire village to thrive in life, but the most consistent free advice you've received is that you need a village. Trust me, you do. And if you don't have a village, I promise that any close friend will lend you theirs. It's like a smoker who will always share cigarettes...Someone who has a village and knows its value will share theirs with a person who doesn't have one.

The day has come. As you walk down the aisle (or are wheeled into labor and delivery) you are keenly aware that this moment will define you. Your identity will be altered by adding a non-paying role to your resume --- that of wife or mother. (The roles aren't non-paying because they aren't worthy of a paycheck, but rather that there's not a price tag you can put on either one).

You're now a mother. You're now a wife. In both circumstances you're now responsible for another human being. And you suddenly think, How did I get here?

As a parent, you may be one of the lucky ones who coast into motherhood with ease. Leaving the house is easy, breast feeding is a cinch, and your baby naturally falls into a great sleep routine. For the majority of mothers, though, the transition is hard. Like on your wedding day, as a new mother, when something goes awry, it feels like the day is ruined. You are finally ready to leave the house with the baby, but that day the baby won't nap, won't eat, had a total diaper blowout right after being strapped into the car seat. You aren't able to leave the house and you suddenly feel like a failure. But what you really need to do is make a new plan and accept that this is parenthood -- starving for predictability and routine, but living with constant change.

It's something brides hear all the time when something at a wedding goes awry -- "No one knows that something is missing or didn't go as planned...only you know because you planned it." It's true. A dance, toast, bouquet toss or cake cutting happened out of order and you feel like the event was a failure. It wasn't. It isn't. It doesn't mean you aren't entitled to feel disappointed, but it does mean that it was nothing more than a missed moment that only you know was missed. And that, my friend, is a life long lesson. Letting go of things you can't change and not internalizing things that don't define you. And as for those fears about whether or not people liked your dress, hair and make-up, venue, flowers, cake, band or DJ, first dance, food, etc.... Guess what? People just want you to be happy and they want to have a good time. The people in your village are the people who should be at your wedding. And no one in your village shows up to judge.

Throughout parenthood, much like on your wedding day, you may feel like people are judging -- "OMG, look at her kid throw that tantrum! I would never allow my child to act that way."  But the reality is that no one is judging you or your child. They may be glad it's not their child, but they aren't judging a crying kid. That would be like judging a dog that pees on a fire hydrant. It's part of the great cliches in life. Embrace them. It will make life a lot easier. And if someone does give you that all-knowing glance or stare, simply say, "And I've bet you've never heard a baby cry." and flash a shit eating grin.

There will come a day when you look back on your pregnancy or engagement and realize how little you knew about what was ahead. And it's in that moment when you'll realize just how far you've come.




Milestones

Becoming a parent is a life milestone that you're supposed to come at with excitement, joy, love, and even promise of a better tomorrow. Sounds a lot to me like how a person is expected to enter marriage. So to me, this means pregnancy is like an engagement - a time to adjust to and begin accepting the imminent life changes that each life milestone will bring.

During a pregnancy and engagement, you spend months reading books, looking at magazines and trolling Pinterest and the Internet for information and ideas.  You see smiling faces, read stories about things you vow you'll never try or do, and get some ideas/tips for how to tackle the endless list of all the "best" things you can do to have the happiest baby/wedding - not only on the block - but that anyone you know has ever seen.

So there you are, drowning in information and realizing that you have a lot of choices to make. Choices that seem daunting -- white, off white, ecru? -- swing or bouncer? -- and you become emotionally invested in these decisions as if these are the things that are going to define your wedding or parenting experience. It feels very real as these are some of the first choices you're making as a wife or parent.

You make your choices and feel proud about what you've created -- a dream wedding/a dream nursery -- and you wait anxiously for the day to arrive when you get to enjoy your creation. You are showered by friends and family and listen patiently as free advice is poured upon you, as are stories that fill your heart and stories that break your heart. You look at your "village people" and aren't quite entirely sure why you'll need an entire village to thrive in life, but the most consistent free advice you've received is that you need a village. Trust me, you do. And if you don't have a village, I promise that any close friend will lend you theirs. It's like a smoker who will always share cigarettes...Someone who has a village and knows its value will share theirs with a person who doesn't have one.

The day has come. As you walk down the aisle (or are wheeled into labor and delivery) you are keenly aware that this moment will define you. Your identity will be altered by adding a non-paying role to your resume --- that of wife or mother. (The roles aren't non-paying because they aren't worthy of a paycheck, but rather that there's not a price tag you can put on either one).

You're now a mother. You're now a wife. In both circumstances you're now responsible for another human being. And you suddenly think, How did I get here?

As a parent, you may be one of the lucky ones who coast into motherhood with ease. Leaving the house is easy, breast feeding is a cinch, and your baby naturally falls into a great sleep routine. For the majority of mothers, though, the transition is hard. Like on your wedding day, as a new mother, when something goes awry, it feels like the day is ruined. You are finally ready to leave the house with the baby, but that day the baby won't nap, won't eat, had a total diaper blowout right after being strapped into the car seat. You aren't able to leave the house and you suddenly feel like a failure. But what you really need to do is make a new plan and accept that this is parenthood -- starving for predictability and routine, but living with constant change.

It's something brides hear all the time when something at a wedding goes awry -- "No one knows that something is missing or didn't go as planned...only you know because you planned it." It's true. A dance, toast, bouquet toss or cake cutting happened out of order and you feel like the event was a failure. It wasn't. It isn't. It doesn't mean you aren't entitled to feel disappointed, but it does mean that it was nothing more than a missed moment that only you know was missed. And that, my friend, is a life long lesson. Letting go of things you can't change and not internalizing things that don't define you. And as for those fears about whether or not people liked your dress, hair and make-up, venue, flowers, cake, band or DJ, first dance, food, etc.... Guess what? People just want you to be happy and they want to have a good time. The people in your village are the people who should be at your wedding. And no one in your village shows up to judge.

Throughout parenthood, much like on your wedding day, you may feel like people are judging -- "OMG, look at her kid throw that tantrum! I would never allow my child to act that way."  But the reality is that no one is judging you or your child. They may be glad it's not their child, but they aren't judging a crying kid. That would be like judging a dog that pees on a fire hydrant. It's part of the great cliches in life. Embrace them. It will make life a lot easier. And if someone does give you that all-knowing glance or stare, simply say, "And I've bet you've never heard a baby cry." and flash a shit eating grin.

There will come a day when you look back on your pregnancy or engagement and realize how little you knew about what was ahead. And it's in that moment when you'll realize just how far you've come.





Friday, February 6, 2015

The Unexpected Gift of Parenting

Of all the commonly asked questions to parents, I think my favorite one to answer is that of "What's been the biggest surprise so far?"

It's not how much work it takes to be a parent. It's not the amount of patience required. But for me, it's the enormity of love that so quickly bonds a child and parent.

Before my first child could speak, my brother said to me, "Isn't it amazing how much you love him and yet the two of you have never had a  conversation?" It was precisely in that moment when I realized there's no way to describe the type of love you share with your children. It just is love. Deep, crazy, unconditional, want to put you in my pocket and take you with me everywhere kind of love.

It is a strange thing how the relationship happens. For me, I prayed and hoped and planned and used fertility treatments to conceive. Once I learned I was pregnant, I felt bonded to the little person inside me and yet when I met my son I thought, "It's you?! Had I known it would be you, I would have been even more excited." It's as if, in that second that you hold your baby, you can't possibly imagine that your child could have been different in any tiny way. This person is "the" person as intended. 

And then the baby goes to the nursery and each time the nurse would wheel him back into my room to eat, I would think, "Ah, it's you again. You complete stranger who I honestly couldn't pick out of a line-up of equally chubby and bald babies. Yep, it's you. Thank God for you."

So you love this little person who literally can't survive without your love and care. Perhaps that's what makes the bond so strong. Your child has given you purpose. A deep and meaningful purpose with a dose of humility to boot. 

And then comes the smiling, laughter, playfulness and separation anxiety that makes you feel both deeply loved and horribly sad because you do have to just let them cry sometimes. After that.... the walking. Like a little drunk person who is on a mission, they follow, fall, get back up and keep on going. And then one day they start talking. And they don't stop. They won't stop.

As time passes, you get into a groove and schedule and feel like a kick-ass parent who may not have it all figured out, but you have enough figured out to feel good for the time being. Then your child changes, as do their needs, their routine and your life. So you get on a new schedule and alas you're in the cycle of parenthood. Figure it out. It changes. Adapt. Repeat.

For all the times you don't want your child to see you stressed or nervous or sad, inevitably one day you will shed a tear. I honestly didn't know if it was healthy to cry in front of my kids or if it would cause them to stress and worry. Does that sound crazy? Such a strange thing, right, to think about how I want and encourage my kids to show the full spectrum of emotions and to share them and talk with me about their feelings. And yet for me, it felt like I was failing as a mom if my kids saw me cry, as if it should be a dark and hidden secret. Well, one day I just broke and what came next rocked my world. My son gave me a hug and said, "Don't cry, Mommy. It's all going to be alright." And with that it was.

What's the most surprising thing about parenthood is the love and bond. But the most unexpected gift is that my children give back the love I give to them. I wouldn't have ever asked for it or expected to be comforted by their words or hugs, but there's absolutely nothing in the world that can beat it.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Best Test. Ready to Be a Parent?

This is not my original content, so I take no credit. And if I could find the original author, would praise this person for their brilliance and humor.  This is genius and hilarious and for those reasons, worth sharing.   I found this 11 Step Program to Prepare You For Parenthood online and it made me laugh so hard that my laughter was silent.  And that's a good laugh. These 11 Steps should be included in every "What to Expect" and baby preparation book ever written.

Enjoy and Good Luck!



11 STEP PROGRAM TO PREPARE YOU FOR PARENTHOOD


Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their…

1. Methods of discipline.

2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet 
    training, table manners and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.


Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel…

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to

10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner.)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at 2AM, make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be     
    productive).

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.


Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out…

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.

2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.

2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this – all morning.


Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don’t think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don’t look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.

Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

1. Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. 
2. Buy your week’s groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. 

Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.


Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.





Lesson 9

1. Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies and Pokemon. 
2. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you’re thinking, What’s ‘Noggin’?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

`. Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying ‘mommy’ repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four-second delay between each ‘mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). 
2. Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. 

You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.


Lesson 11

1. Start talking to an adult of your choice. 
2. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve or elbow while playing the ‘mommy’ tape made from Lesson 10 above. 

You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.



(I’d love to know who wrote this so I can credit her! Or him.)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

If We Took Our Own Advice

Have you ever thought about the lessons we teach our kids, but that we ourselves don't obeyed by?

As my son hits the age when parenting evolves from just the responsibility of keeping a person alive to teaching them to be a good person, there are a lot of reflective moments. If, of course, you're willing to stop and reflect. Candidly, it wasn't until recently - when I was doling some advice out to my son that I myself actually needed - that I realized I don't heed my own advice. 

And with that, I naturally begin with, "Always stop and smell the roses." It's in Reece's baby book. The day I first said this and did this with him. One of the most cliche sayings of all time, and yet one of life's great lessons. Stop. Look around. Take in the beauty of life. Why and how did life become so busy and so important that we overlook the most simple and beautiful things? And if you won't take it from me, the modernized version of this lesson is perfectly said by our dear Ferris Bueller. "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

"Love the skin you're in." God, wouldn't it be great if we all were able to do just that? To a child, it is that simple. "Mommy said I should love myself, so I do." To my children, it's that simple. It's us adults who mess it up. It's us who tell our children one thing and promote, advertise, buy, sell, perpetuate a different standard. Why?! Wouldn't it be great if we too just loved ourselves? And one of the great gifts of having a young child is that appearance is completely irrelevant. You child doesn't care if you had your hair and make-up professionally done or if you're at the playground in your pajamas. #heaven. #dovecampaign

"Just worry about yourself. Don't worry about what your friends are doing." I cringed every time my parents said this to me and when I say this to my kids I will absolutely be thinking "So now I've officially turned into my mother." (no offense mom. I love you dearly). But how in the world do you worry only about yourself when it's the comparison of you to others that creates all the social hierarchies that start in school and follow you into adulthood? I thank my lucky stars that social media did NOT exist when I was in school. #gladtobeold

There are a countless articles about how we should talk to our daughters about their bodies. Thank goodness for those penned pieces as I will be reading all of them when the time comes. I just wish I could freeze this age - for the parents out there you know what I'm talking about. The age when after your child eats or drinks their belly is distended and sticks out as if they have a beer gut. They care nothing about it and as a parent you're proud because you did your job. You provided what filled their belly. 

And the ultimate rule of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Well I think we can thank social media for crushing any hopes of this lesson being one that stays with our kids past the age of 10. But wouldn't it be great if it were that easy? There wouldn't be cliques, bullying, etc. Mean Girls would just be Lindsay Lohan's last big hit, not an actual description of middle and high school girls.

I suppose the biggest challenge of all is that for every person who provides advice about what to say, there's an "expert" with an opposite point of view. So where does that leave us? Where I stand, it leaves me hoping and praying that I have enough self awareness and humility to admit to the many ways I want my kids to be better than me.

Insert enormous sigh as I have reminded myself of the enormity of the role of parent.








Monday, January 12, 2015

Never Have I Ever...

Created by kaylammeloMay 11 2013

Remember this gem of a drinking game? The ultimate social ice breaker that exposes both your freak factor and how well you can handle your booze?

The parenthood version of this game, similar to its collegiate counterpart, exposes your truths and freak factor. And let's be honest, for some of these things, you don't have to be a parent. You just have to have once been really drunk.

Never have I ever....
  1. Been peed, pooped and/or puked on. 
  2. Used my hands to catch someones puke. 
  3. Picked my kids' noses. 
  4. Ordered two Happy Meals at McDonald's. One for my kid and one for me. (Yes, I feed my child McDonald's. Judge away).
  5. Walked around my house drinking coffee from a to-go cup even though I wasn't going anywhere. 
  6. Fallen asleep before my kids. 
  7. Peed with a child on my lap. 
  8. Peed with a child on my lap and another child just watching. 
  9. Hidden in the closet just to have 30 seconds to myself. (because clearly, hiding in the bathroom isn't an option in my house)
  10. Let my toddler walk off with an uncapped marker just to see what would happen. 
  11. Saved birthday cake with the sole intention of eating it late night, not keeping it for the kids.
  12. Used my child to get out of a ticket (parking or speeding). 
  13. Taken my sweet-ass time to find a child while playing hide-n-seek. 
  14. Allowed my son to ride his scooter naked - but with a helmet - because I wasn't up for arguing about what he would wear. 
  15. Decided the five second rule should be extended to five minutes when at home. 
  16. Laughed when my child fell down.  *He wasn't hurt and I didn't laugh in his face. I just think it's generally hilarious when people fall down.
  17. Eaten Play Doh just to see what all the hype is about. 
  18. Imitated my child's tantrum in hopes of him/her realizing just how ridiculous they sound and look. *No shocker here that this experiment failed horribly.
  19. Seriously contemplated reading the book, "Go the F-ck to Sleep" to my child.
  20. Lied to my child about what happens when a child lies while reprimanding him for lying. #notmyfinestmoment.
So tell me....what have you done?!