It’s The Best

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Like with anything in life, there are positives and negatives.  This week I want to focus on the positive. The topic: Having children over 40 and why it is the best (in my opinion).  Don’t worry, I’ll also share with you why it is a drag (in my opinion)….just not this week.  This week it’s all about how incredible it is to have a child when you are in your 40’s!

Let’s face it, if you have had a child at 35 or over, you’ve most likely heard all the terrifying warnings and reasons not to.  My first prenatal visit at age 43 was colored with all sorts of possible doom and negative what ifs.  I chose to filter out the gloom.  While I was educated about the risks, I kept the information out of my mind and body.  One of the best things about having a baby in your 40’s (in my opinion) is that you can.  So many women struggle with conception.  If you can get pregnant naturally (or with help) over 40, well, that’s something to celebrate!

All new mothers hear the polite advice from well wishers, time and time again.  My son is 2 and I still get it.  “Enjoy every minute! It goes so fast!”   Well, the main reason I think having a baby in your 40’s is the best (in my opinion), is that you actually do enjoy every minute.  Even when it’s hard, there is a baseline of joy that just can’t be beat.  There is a patience I possess that, for me, has come with age.  I’m certainly not saying that women having children in their 20’s and 30’s don’t enjoy their children.  I can only speak from my experience as a 20 and 30 something.  In my 20’s and 30’s, my life was all about me.  The pace of my life was all about me.  The choices I made were basically all about me.  And I wanted it that way.  I lived my life fully and with purposed abandon.  I travelled the world, fell in and out of love and enjoyed freedom from most responsibility.  It was how it should be for someone at that stage of their life (in my opinion).  Conversely, with the birth of my son came profound responsibility.  And at the age of 44, I welcomed it wholeheartedly.  Someone younger might think my life now is a bore.  The Veuve doesn’t flow as freely (or at all, come to think of it) and my bedtime is often before the curtain used to go up.  The things I possessed and the adoration I sought are not barometers for bliss.  My god! I thought a new pair of Gucci shoes equaled happiness.  Silly girl.  All those things are well and good, but they are not the stuff of life.

I get to do this parenting thing with a full awareness that it goes far too fast.  I don’t wish time away like I used to.   I get to be mature enough to share with my baby, my patience and my understanding of what true happiness really is.  I get to not only enjoy his process, but have the emotional maturity to understand that he is his own person, and that while he is our whole world now, we will not always be his.  I am old enough to know he will have to fail to succeed.  I understand there will come a time to let go.

Anyone who has hit the 40+ mark understands what I am saying.  I’m not saying you don’t have moments of doubt anymore or that you don’t feel like you are screwing up a lot of the time.  That is the nature of parenting in a nutshell. But there is a level of surety and confidence that I bring to my parenting, to my life, that I did not possess in my 20’s or 30’s.  It makes me a better mom.  And THAT is the best thing about having a child over 40 (in my opinion).

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up! Thanks for reading! Xo

 

Bon Appetit Baby

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That’s it.  I’ve had it.  It is time to reign in my picky eater and broaden his horizons.  I will expand my child’s palate or die trying.  Ok, that is a bit dramatic.  But I mean, come on! I refuse to accept that I must only give him pasta,  PB&J, or yogurt, as these are the foods he eats willingly. In my short sightedness to get him to eat, I started giving him only things that he liked.  Day after day….and now it has turned into my toddler refusing to even try anything that looks different.  It is ridiculous. It is my own fault.  And it is time to end this craziness.

I’m not supposing this will be easy.  It is learned behavior on his part, that I have indulged.  He does seem to have an issue with textures, but instead of helping him through that, I let him avoid it.  I could kick myself.  (Hindsight, right?). Now that he is well over the two year mark and in the throws of being a toddler, he can absolutely eat anything and in my opinion, should.  My husband and I are adventurous eaters.  We enjoy different foods, spices, wines and whatnot.  It is unacceptable to me that I will raise a child to be a pedestrian eater.  It just won’t jive with our rhythm at home.  He will need to learn to eat what we eat, and it starts now.  Did I say I know this is going to be difficult?

When O was a baby, the doctor, and pretty much everyone, said, “He will know when he isn’t hungry.  He’ll stop himself.  Babies know when they are full.”  Well that may be true, but I’m not convinced a toddler knows.  My son would eat as many graham bunnies as I gave him.  He would also prefer them for dinner, if I’d allow it.  His new tactic when he doesn’t want to try something is to say “All done.”  So I’ve now started to say, “OK, all done.”  I’ve stopped offering anything else.   Down he goes from the table.  Dinner is over.  No second chances.  He will go to sleep with an empty stomach.  My hope is that he won’t let himself go too hungry.  Right? Harsh, I know.  But I refuse to be a slave to a finicky child.

Last night, we had roasted summer vegetables and turkey kielbasa over brown rice.  It was actually very nice.  O only ate some of the rice.  I wanted him to at least taste the meat and vegetables.  Mind you, there were sweet potatoes and carrots in the veggie mix, which he likes, but because they were in chunks he would not even try them.  Really? It’s maddening.  So, once the rice was picked over, he asked for apple sauce, which was denied.  He followed up with a wail and an “All done!”  I make no fuss over it.  I simply say “OK, all done.”  I take him out of his chair and send him on his way…hungry. Eventually, the stubbornness will yield to hunger, right? Are you thinking that I am a horrible mother now?

In France, children O’s age, sit down for a three course meal, daily.  They eat all sorts of fish, fruits, vegetables and cheeses.  When I say vegetables I don’t mean brocolli with cheese sauce, either.  There are no special dinosaur chicken nuggets sold in grocery stores.  And there aren’t special kid menus in every restaurant featuring the same items: pizza, mac and cheese, and a hotdog.  They are taught from a very young age how to eat and how to appreciate food.   International data collated by the International Association for the Study of Obesity show that 15% of children are overweight in France compared to a whopping 30% in the U.S.  So who is doing it right?

I believe that food is part of our education as people of a civilized society.  To appreciate different tastes and textures is one of life’s pleasures.  Sharing a meal with family and friends, is to be part of something.  It is a learned sense of community and belonging.  Eating is something we need to do for the rest of our lives.  Perhaps it should be something we are educated about and learn to do well.  Anyway, that’s this mama’s two cents.  I’ll let you know how my struggle goes.  Did I mention I don’t anticipate it is going to be easy?

Until next time, while I’ll be rocking in a corner back and forth, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Ah, my life story!  Bon Appetit!

Divided We Fall

 

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It is becoming abundantly clear that there is a significant division in American society.  Huh.  Not everyone thinks like I do.  What a revelation.  Ha.  I believe there has always been a certain amount of disagreement between folks.  The difference is, in today’s internet addicted world of 2016, we have social media to put those views on display.  Facebook, Twitter, and the likes are not often places for healthy debate, but rather, they are a forum to basically state your case, politicize (excuse me, express) yourself, or in some cases, bash, bully and taunt the opposition without having to actually face someone.  It has occurred to me that these forums are not helping us as a society, but polarizing us even more.  We are not listening to the other side.  We are not engaging in conversation.  We are posting and deleting.  Posting and de-friending.   But there is no discussion.  It is pretty one sided, on both sides.

I realized that I have a tendency to not read opposing articles.  I have, at times, erased people from my feed so as not to have to see their viewpoint.  I am wrong.  If I am to understand how we have gotten to this place of such discord, I must first understand where the opposition is coming from.  I can’t just assume that I know.  I must hear the other side’s story.  Because no matter who you are, we all have a story that informs our views.  It has just become so normal for us, as a people, to not have to listen.  We post.  We know how and why we feel the way we feel about the issues.  But what about someone who doesn’t think like me? How do they feel? And why? Everyone’s personal story is a window into those questions.  And I don’t mean the “story” we post for the world to see.  I’m talking about our real personal story.

What I don’t want to happen during this election cycle is to exacerbate the feelings of hate that are festering.  I have many many people whom I love who feel very much the way I do about most of the issues.  And I have dear dear loved ones who feel very differently.  I might not love their views, but I love the person.  Can’t we love the person regardless of their stance on guns or same sex marriage?  That was actually hard for me to write.  The point is, can’t we agree to disagree?  In the pre-Facebook era, we didn’t necessarily know what someone thought about the issues.  We could be blissfully ignorant of someone’s position and simply enjoy them.  Or at least tolerate them.  We aren’t only made up of the thoughts and feeling we have on the issues.  I would venture to say we have more in common than not as human beings.  Things like love of family.  The love of our children.  The sorrow of losing a loved one.  These are commonalities we share.  These are the real things in life.

I am certainly not saying I will turn a blind eye to racism, hate or bullying.  I will not.  There is no place for that in world I want to live in or raise my son in.  As I say to him, “that is unacceptable behavior.” When confronted with someone expressing those views, I will denounce them every time.  Face to face.  On that, I am firm and unmaliable.  I believe it is important to speak up when faced with or being witness to bullying, racism or hateful behavior.  That is an example I need to set for my son.  What I will do though, is listen more. I can try to understand more why someone feels so strongly about their right to own a gun.  Or I can try to understand what is motivating someone’s anti abortion stance.  We all have a right to our opinions and views on the issues.  That is a principle our nation was built on.  We can’t forget that just because our views might be different.  Being racist, hateful a bully or all the above,  is not a viewpoint, it is a failing in character.

I guess I need to have faith that the goodness in people will prevail.  I need to believe that hate won’t win.  I need to believe that the commonalities we share as people and countrymen will pull us through this divide.  I need to believe the world my son will grow up in will be more tolerant, more generous and filled with more brotherly love than the world we live in today.  I will try to make this my last politically charged post.  I will try.  Soapbox busted.  Peace out.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who,is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading! Xo

 

 

A New Day

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I have been grappling this week with what to write about.  It is a familiar struggle, but sometimes it proves tougher than other times.  I’m usually blocked because I have something on my mind that I feel perhaps I shouldn’t write about.  Or maybe I don’t think anyone else would find it interesting.  But censoring myself has never been a productive strategy.  So here goes.

I have been very affected by the politics in our country lately.  It feels as if the country is divided in a way that I have never seen in my life time.  And it scares me.  The hate filled, fear mongering rhetoric of a certain tiny hand candidate is appalling, divisive, and small minded.  In my opinion, it has no place in the leadership of our country.  The parties hateful sentiments do not represent my feelings.  Not at all.  But rather than write about The Ego with the bad comb-over, who already gets far far too much press, I want to talk about what inspires me.  This past week, something amazing happened that moved me greatly, as a woman, a mother and a citizen of the world.

I know I am pretty sappy and have a tendency to get emotional over a Hallmark commercial, but I have to tell you that I was genuinely moved by the remarkable speech from our country’s First Lady, Michelle Obama at the DNC in Philadelphia.  I know as a liberal it is assumed that I would be a fan of the First Lady, so I will skip the list of admirable traits I believe she embodies.  (There are many).  But what really got me was when she said how her daughters, and all our sons and daughters, could now take for granted that a woman could become President of the United States.  That struck a chord in me.  I realized, quite seriously, that history is being made before our very eyes.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to see Hamilton on Broadway.  Beyond it being an incredible piece of theatre, I couldn’t help be struck by the poetic justice of watching an incredibly talented, racially diverse cast, portray our founding fathers. I suppose this must really ruffle the feathers of the David Dukes of the world.  It’s funny, but the color of any actors skin didn’t really dawn on me until after the show.  It made perfect sense that George Washington should be played by a handsome strapping black man.  I was reminded that for all intents and purposes, we are all really immigrants.   To say you are not is just inaccurate.  I was reminded of the limitations women had to endure regardless of their intellect.  In the words of the character Angelica Schuyler, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, and when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m gonna compel him to include women in the sequel. Work!”  The point is, we have come so so far.  Why would we ever go backwards?  It defies logic.  At least to this mommy it does.

This morning I was watching the highlights of the democratic convention.  I watched, and re-watched, a woman of 102 years of age, who was born before women could vote, officially report Arizona delegates for Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States.  It doesn’t matter what you think of Secretary Clinton.  You can love her.  You can hate her.  But the shattering of that glass ceiling is undeniable and has changed us forever.  I suppose if you are against her, you might deny its significance.  But in my opinion, you’d be denying reality.  I will not get into a debate with anyone regarding Hilz.  I won’t change your mind and you won’t change mine.  But this is my blog and #ImWithHer, if you hadn’t noticed.

The future of our society, that will be our children’s and their children’s society, is changing.  My son will not know of a time when a woman could be considered less important or less capable…and that’s huge.  It is so much bigger than Bozo the Clown’s ego.  I have a friend who has a daughter who is O’s age.  She is especially energized about this new day and all it will mean for her daughter.  But I truly think it is something for parents of girls and boys to celebrate.  There is hope this week.  There is a beacon of light shining through.  And as things seem to be going these days, I’m gonna hang onto it.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading. Work!

P.S. I ordered my Hilary For President shirts for Me and O. Watch out world! Photos to follow.

 

Slow Down, Mommy

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Do you ever feel like things are just moving too fast? Like you just can’t keep up the pace?   Does your “To Do” list overwhelm you? We all have legitimate things that keep our bodies and minds on the go.  I have been in that mode lately.  Add to it the crazy things happening in our world lately and it’s enough to make anyone go into hiding.   I handle it, until I just can’t anymore.  And that’s what has happened.

In a rare moment of quiet (at yoga class, which has been a challenge to get to lately) I realized the frantic pace I have been maintaining.  It took the merry-go-round stopping for me to really understand how severe my situation gets at times.  I set my intention for the class.  I decided to commit to slowing down.  I focused on my breath.  Simple.  Slow.  By the end of the class my teacher reminded us of the intention we set for ourselves at the beginning of the hour.  She urged us to try to carry that with us into the world for as long as we could.  So that is what I decided to do.  I am slowing down. This isn’t some silly lark juice fast here, but rather a serious necessity.  If I don’t slow down I will hit a wall.  And that can’t be good for me or my family.

This is not an easy thing for me to do.  My usual mode has me spinning several plates at a time while I plan my next 20 projects.  When I get over done….you can just imagine the hyper speed I am functioning at.  Or failing to function at, which is what brings about a crash.  So, anyway, the strategy is small simple steps for me.  Breathing.  Taking my time.  Doing one thing at a time (very challenging for this type A mommy).  Enjoying the moment (especially with O and my husband).  And remembering that there are things that I like to partake in, not because they have to get done, but because I enjoy doing them.

So I am making jam.  Raspberry jam from our garden.  You might laugh and think how ridiculous.  Go ahead.  I’ve made several pies already, but the jam is my favorite. It is something to savor into the autumn and winter.  It is a gift to give neighbors and friends.  And for me, this summer, it signifies my struggle to slow down.  I realized the other day that summer is half over and I don’t feel like it even started yet.  What kind of deluded fog have I been in? To say my husband and I have a lot our plates is an understatement. But it is all the more reason to slow down when we are faced with challenges.  It’s things like working in the garden.  Or listening to the rain hit the skylight.  It’s sitting on the kitchen floor reading to O in the middle of making dinner.  It’s the smell of our babies hair and the warmth of his breath when he cuddles next to us.  It’s looking into my Love’s eyes after a long day and really seeing him.  It’s letting him know without words that he is loved and safe in our relationship.  All these things require slowing down.  They take time and connection.  Without these moments of meaning, our lives are just moments that are unacknowledged.  A kind of going through the motions.

It’s funny…the older I get the clearer it becomes to me.  The moments in my life that speak out to me as defining and full of passion and truth, are the simplest ones.  I have a vivid simple memory from years ago that I look at now and know it was a defining moment.  It was years before my husband and I got married.  We were visiting as friends, and I remember him driving me in his jeep.  We were listening to music, just driving to nowhere, and he put his hand in mine.  I remember looking down and seeing our hands together and knowing that it felt so right.  I knew then, it was right.  So much in that simple quiet moment.  Life is funny like that.

So….slow it is.  For as long as I can do it.  Who knows, maybe it will become habit for me.  A way of life, even? And if I fall off the wagon, well then I’ll just have to get back up on the slow ride.  Cause it’s not just me anymore.  I have a husband and child who need me there.  Fully present.  Fully focused. And happy.  Oh yes, happy.  Covered in raspberry jam happy.

Until next time, I’ll be moving at a snail’s pace.  Keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up. Thank you so much for reading.  Xo

 

 

 

 

Love Letter

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I imagine, like most children, my son will someday ask me what he was like when he was a baby.  Kids love hearing stories about themselves.  I think these little anecdotes give them a sense of assurance and comfort. Although I have a blog full of posts and a website designed to share the journey of mothering my little O, most posts are about me and whatever trial or tribulation I am navigating any given week.  So this post is different.  I want O to be able to read this in years to come and know exactly what he was like on a particular day he shared with his Mommy. This post is a love letter to my O.

Dear O,

Days at the beach with you are just the best.  The packing up of snacks, towels, buckets and shovels among countless other things are totally worth it.  The hike up the dune, with you in my arms, to get to our little spot of heaven can be a workout.  But again, totally worth it!  The word “beach” comes from your perfect mouth.  I put you down and you immediately run your fingers through the sand, taking it all in as quickly as you know how.  I fill up a bucket with water as you plop yourself down and begin to dig.  You are so happy.

We have your cousins with us today.  You watch Will and Chris with idolization.  Their young teenage selves splashing about in the ocean.  You take my hand and say “ocean.” You want to be where they are.  We wade in the slight surf and you squeal with delight as the water tickles your legs.  You are laughing.  Smiling.  1…2….3!!! We jump the waves with the help of Uncle Paul.  He is taken with you, too. Who wouldn’t be? You are wonderful.

Our exodus from the beach must be highly planned.  Everything must be pretty much packed up and ready to go prior to getting you rinsed off in the ocean.   Once the sand is semi off of you, there is no putting you down.  As we leave the beach you call out, “Bye Ocean!” “Bye Bye Sandbox!”  I smile, as I climb over the dune because your sweetness is noted.  I make the decision then to stop for ice cream at Handy Hill.  Ice cream is your favorite and a treat is in order.  You’ve been so good.

You are only in a diaper and your swim shirt.  No shoes.  Your sun hat still atop your head of long curls.  I take you out of the car and you know where we are.  You are excited.  I order peanut butter Oreo ice cream in a cup for us to share.  I carry you over to a picnic table and sit you down next to me.  Your little legs swinging.  Your eyes big with delightful anticipation.  With one spoonful you smack your lips.  “Dewicious!!”  you say.  We rub our noses together when I ask you for a kiss.  And I know I am the luckiest Mommy in the world.

Days like this are wonderful and abundant.  You make me laugh and fill me with moments of pure joy each and every day.  Thank you,  my sweet boy.  I tell you, “I love you.”  I ask you, “how much?”  Sweetly and softly, as if in love yourself, you say, “So much.”  I am undone.  I am forever Yours.

Love, Mommy xo

 

Until next time, friend, keep fighting the good fight.  And remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading! Xo

WE DON’T DO THAT

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I have finally sat down from a day of days.  Trying to get O out of the house this morning to get to a car service appointment was like pulling teeth. It’s hot and muggy, so THAT doesn’t help matters. We get to the Kia dealership and for a second time, the playroom for use while you wait with your child, was filthy.  Nasty filthy.  Sorry Kia, not impressed! Anyway, O was being really good, so I figured while I was on the other side of hell’s creation, we would go to an indoor play area that he loves at the Mall.  This is where my rant begins.

As a parent, when I take my child to a play area, playground, you name it, my first priority is to watch my child.  On occasion, I have met a friend at a playground, and while we try to chat and catch up, we both have our eyes on our children. We are consistent with guiding our children in play.  You know, the basic stuff.  Wait your turn…no pushing…no grabbing.  This is the mom I want to be friends with.  You know why? Cause this Mom understands that a trip to the mall play area isn’t time off for her.  It’s not “let’s check my Facebook on my phone and tune out for a few minutes.”  Trust me, I know how much we all want some time to ourselves.  I am the first one to say it.  But this isn’t the time.

Taking your child to a group play area is an opportunity to teach your child how to interact socially with others, through play! I am not talking about helicoptering.  I’m talking about guiding when it is clear your child does not know which road to take. If I saw my son push past another child to go first down the slide, I would take him aside and explain that we don’t do that. By WE I mean, a civil kind society, does not do that! If my child just grabbed a toy from another child on the playground, I would explain, yet again, that we don’t do that! We do not just take from others.  We can ask if we may use the toy…or if we may take a turn. But we do not just take! What hope do our children have in this world without some guidance?

I have taught O to wait his turn.  I have taught him not to go down the slide until it’s all clear.  I have taught him that we don’t grab or push.  I am under NO illusion that these “rules for play” won’t need to be reiterated time and time again with him.  Of course they will. He is two.  And he is a child.  It is not any child’s fault for their behavior, lack of manners or lack of restraint.  They are children.  It is not their job to remember the things that will serve them as they grow up in this world.  It is the job of the parent to remind them (again and again) until it becomes the child’s second nature.

I was so freaking annoyed at the play area today.  Countless parents tuned out, letting their entitled children push past others.  Some Moms were hovering, but more engaged in chatting with their mommy friends.  I get it.  We are starved for connection with another adult.  Especially one going through the same trials and tribulations.  But your child has decided to continuously walk up the slide and block it while other children are waiting to go down.  He is completely disregarding other children; ones that are much younger and smaller than he is.  He is now lying on the slide completely blocking its path.  This is going on now for a bit of time.  You do realize that you can say NO to your child, right? I’m not saying you have to go all Joan Crawford on your kid, but at least a gentle reminder that we don’t do that!  Do you really think you are helping your children by not giving them guidance? Do you somehow think you are letting them find their way organically on their own? Or…are you just so unaware and ignorant that you think pushing and taking are good?  I tell you, I am still shaking my head.

I have been alarmed at the behavior of parents of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds.  This epidemic of lack of respect is a wide spread problem.  This sense of entitlement being embedded into children’s minds is happening right there on the playground.  It’s plain as day to anyone tuned into it.  And parents are just sitting back, checking their phones and letting it grow like the social cancer it is.

Yes, I’m pissed.   Cause it’s right in front of me.  The problem and the solution.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading.

 

 

When You Think Your Toddler Is An A-Hole

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Today my snack of choice is green pea crisps.  They are baked, gluten free and have enough salt to satiate me without being high in sodium.  A good choice of avoidance, I’d say.  But the bag is now empty, so my words need to start filling the page.  What I am about to say is not very nice.  I feel horrible for even thinking it.  As if guilt isn’t already part of my standard operating procedure.  But here it goes.  I don’t always like my toddler.  Yes, of course, I love him.  I’m grateful for him and can’t imagine my life without him.  But sometimes, he can be really unlikable.  Geez, Mary. Yeah, whatever.  I could have picked a much harsher word to describe this child and his unacceptable behavior, but my husband and his grandparents would no doubt frown upon such language chosen to describe their little angel.  I remember a friend of mine saying ” My kids are being such douche bags!”  I remember thinking, “Geez, that’s harsh.”  (What a judgmental singleton I was.). But now I kinda get it.   Cause sometimes it proves oh so true.

With O we have moved into a constant whine, which apparently is reserved just for mommy.  It is like nails on a chalkboard.  He has started kicking and swatting mommy followed by “Ow!” in a sassy “whatcha gonna do about it” tone.  Not to mention ramming Thomas the Tank Engine into the back of mommy’s ankles while I am at the kitchen sink.  Some days are far worse than others, obviously.  When I say “No” he says “Yes.”  When I say “Yes” he says “No.”  It’s maddening. It is non sensical.   No matter how I address the behavior (ignore, redirect, admonish) it persists.  These things are just the tip of the iceberg.  I know, I know, he is two.  He is testing me.  I take cleansing breath after cleansing breath.  It’s no wonder I don’t pass out from all the deep breathing.  I longingly look at the clock willing my husband to walk through the door.  I tell you this,  these aren’t the Terrible Twos….they are the A-Hole Years.

Trust me, I don’t feel good about saying this.  The tougher it gets,  the more I feel like I am failing.  Like there are days that I don’t know if I have the strength of character to get through.  Days where the fantasy of driving away in my car creeps it’s nasty head into my thoughts.  It is shameful.  It is humiliating and loathful.  Who thinks their child is an a-hole?  A two year old, no less.  I’m an ungrateful horrible bitch of a mother.

And then I remember three fundamental truths.  I am human.  I am doing the best I can.  And he is just a child.  I will get through the day.  God willing, I will get another shot at parenting tomorrow.  It’s all gonna be ok.  And just like Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, his unacceptable behavior will be replaced by an equally and opposing sweet, tender and loving state of being.  And just like that,  I can forget why I thought he was unlikable….until he dumps an entire jar of oregano all over the floor just because.  Or when he empties out my pantry for the umpteenth time leaving a trail of canned and dried goods from the kitchen to the living room.  I know it is him exploring and learning, which is why we let it happen, but after episode number 13 on any given day, I’d like to put a lock on the lazy susan.  But let’s be realistic, that would be met with a tantrum of tantrums and would only be a battle won, not the war.  I pick and choose my parenting battles carefully.  The word NO is important.  It’s overuse will make it meaningless.  I can’t have that.  No, the war is with myself, not my child.  It is about me finding peace and grace in the maddening mundane chaos.  I have gone white water rafting in number 5 conditions.  I have hiked mountains.  I have performed for audiences of thousands.  This, my friend, is much harder.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid (who is, indeed, NOT an asshole) is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading. Xo

 

The Truth Of The Matter

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I am sat on a plane flying solo. I’m headed to Florida to take care of some business. I’ll be away from O for 3 days. I’ve done it before. In fact, you might remember, I wrote a blog post about it. I thought leaving him this time would be easier for the sheer fact that I have done it before. But this time it was harder. Much harder. I savored everything about the day we spent together yesterday. I held him tighter when I put him to bed last night.

Recent events in our world make me want to hold him tight and not let go. As if the mass shooting in Orlando was not horrific enough, I then hear about the 2 year old who was snatched up by an alligator at a Walt Disney World resort. His body recovered almost 24 hours later. The nightmarish details are haunting me. A little boy like O. Same age. No doubt, just as inquisitive and just as obsessed with water. Like most any 2 year old boy.

I’ve been to that resort. I’ve been on that beach front. Not in a million years would I ever think that an alligator would be something I’d have to think about. And at night, you would never have seen such a threat. Not even if it was right in front of you. I lived in Florida. I’ve seen many alligators. In my opinion, this wasn’t negligence on the parents part at all. Something like that would be off of anyone’s radar in that setting. I remember back in the 70’s and early 80’s when my parents took us to stay at Disney World, there was actually swimming allowed in that same body of water. We used to water ski in the adjacent Bay Lake. I’m telling you, I would have thought nothing of O wading in the edge of that water. But yet, the threat became a reality for that family. I can’t even wrap my head around the horror.

As a parent, our instinct is to shield, protect and hold tight. At times like these, the instinct is to hold tighter. I have a friend, who in response to the latest gun violence, said she wanted to keep her family in a bubble. I get it. But, of course, it is an impossibility. At some point we have to loosen the grip. At some point we have to hope that the example we set for our child will serve him as he makes his way in the world. Eventually, years from now, God willing, he will soar all on his own, hopefully towards great things and profound happiness. He won’t always be able to hold my hand and I won’t always be able to protect him.

One of the hardest things to swallow about the tragedies of this week, is that, while some tragedies, like the one in Orlando, are man made and preventable, some tragedies are a force of nature and completely unpredictable. You might say, well it could have been avoided. Well, perhaps, if the parents were holding their child tightly, not letting him explore his surroundings. And even then maybe not. But I don’t parent that way. With a watchful eye and often at a small distance, we let O explore. We believe it is important for his development and his intellect. I can tell you, honestly, we could have been in the same scenario as that family from Nebraska. I have cried real tears for those parents. My heart truly aches for them.

I guess the crazy thing to take away from all of this is that no day is promised. We are not entitled to anything more than the moment we are in. As a singleton, I always tried to embrace that ideology. But as a parent, it is a tough idea to digest. We want everything for our child and that includes a bright future. But none of it is guaranteed. That is the truth of the matter. You can scream and shout, you can fight the gun lobby, you can restrict your child from the world, you can hold them so tight they can’t move or you can choose to do nothing. We all have a choice. What we don’t have is a guarantee. Yes, that is the truth.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up. Thanks for reading. Xo God bless.

Raising A Son To Revere Strong Women

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This week I am barraged with stories in the news that make me reflect on how we as a society view women.  And I am taken aback.  I am perplexed.  Saddened.  Annoyed.  Worried.  You would have to live in a hole not to be aware of the Stanford freshman who was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and was sentenced to only 6 months in jail followed by probation.  The crime and details of the trial were abhorrent.  Then his father wrote a letter of support to the court that was completely dismissive of his son’s behavior.  He actually says that a prison sentence is “A steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”  He is clearly oblivious.  It isn’t overly shocking that his son chose the abusive path he did.  I think, what are we teaching our children about respect? Equality? And where are we going wrong?

I look at the headlines regarding our presumptive democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton.  It’s not just a lack of respect, but actual hate that swarms around her, taking shots at her every turn.  The woman has a coat of armor thicker than any man I’ve ever seen.  If she was a man, it is a coat of armor that would be admired and revered.  But she’s a woman. So she’s a she-devil, not to be trusted, a bitch.  It’s the double standard magnified a hundred times. And both men AND women buy into it.  I ask you, What are we teaching our kids?  Are women not allowed to be strong? As a woman, don’t you want to be smart, strong, and an equal? And, if you are a man, don’t you want a partner who is strong, capable, and your equal? And if you don’t, why not? There is something wrong with the message we are accepting in our society about women and their worth. And I’m taking a stab in the dark here, but it seems to me, the message is perpetuated by those threatened by strong women.

Is it possible that many in our society,  men and women alike, are more comfortable with the traditional roles that men and women take on? The woman standing beside her man, supporting him from the sidelines.  It’s a non threatening picture, isn’t it?  Maybe the dominant female figure is just too uncomfortable for folks.  So when a woman puts on a pantsuit, speaks her mind and decides to run for president, it messes up our feng shui.  Or when a woman gets sexually assaulted on a college campus (while unconscious) there is sympathy for the rapist, because “his life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.”  In what world is that thought process ok? What about the victim? To be clear, I am talking about the woman.  What about the impact this horrific act has had on her life? There are still people who believe, however quietly, that women who have been raped, have somehow “asked” for it.  During the trial the poor girl was asked what she wore to the party that night.  The fact that the question was even posed is proof we are a long long way from gender equality.  It disgusts me.

So as a mother of a boy, what can I do to instill a sense of decency, respect and understanding in my child? How do we teach him to treat women as equals, yet educate him on the nuances of females? I’m talking about those minute, and sometimes huge, differences that, at times,  make us women seem like another species all together.   Equals, but opposites.  It seems pretty straight forward in theory.  Certainly no mother intends on raising a rapist.  So where does it go wrong?

Even at O’s young age of two, people have said in his presence, “Boys will be boys!”  That sentiment will surely grow and follow him.  It is up to us to define that for him and keep him in balance.  I see the way little boys play on the playground and how they are encouraged to be aggressive and tough.  It’s just sort of accepted.  I don’t love it.  There is a sense of entitlement drilled into children in our country these days.  There seems to be a lack of the word “NO” in many children’s everyday life.  Maybe this is where it begins.  I want it, so I should have it.  I want it, so I’ll take it.  It happens on the playground and I see, many times, it go undetected or completely dismissed.  Boys will be boys.

I don’t know what lies ahead in our country. I shudder to think of the possibilities. But this lack of acceptance and complete disregard for other people is just not ok with me. It shouldn’t be ok with anyone. What can we do? As parents we can invoke the change we want to see in our society…with our own child.  Sometimes parenting requires the word “No.”  We need to love our children enough to say “No, that’s not yours.” Or “No. You can’t do that.” My two year old already knows the phrase “That is unacceptable behavior.”  I fear many adults have forgotten it.

Mostly, we need to love our son and teach him the dignity of the body, and how to live through disappointment and confusion.  We need to teach our son how to navigate confusing feelings, and how to separate feelings from action.  We need to teach him how to communicate and listen. We need to define for him what it is to be a man, because we clearly can’t leave that to the media or public figures.  We need to impress upon him that his worth doesn’t come from what he has and takes. O’s biggest influence will be watching how his father treats his mother.  And how his mother can be a strong woman who is respected and loved by her husband for her strength and capability.  How female strength is not something to be threatened by, or something to be squelched, but rather something to seek in a life partner.

I have a feeling in the coming months leading up to the national election, the attack on the strong female figure will be unlike anything we have ever seen.  The language, I’m sure, will be base, crass and dismissive.  I highly doubt the buffoon with the bad comb over will choose a different fighting style.  I can only imagine what the fallout will be.  If you think that kind of sexism on a national platform has no bearing on the way men view women or how women view themselves, you are kidding yourself.  Somewhere in the ignorant mind of some entitled teenager, the words spewed by an entitled demagogue, will validate his delusions.  If you think it’s just about Hillary, it’s not.  It’s about all of us.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll be holding my breath till November.  Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is certain she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading. Xo