Category Archives: Motherhood

How Young Is Too Young? And Am I Setting My Kids Up For Social Suicide?

A friend shared with me her shock and dismay that her niece had an Instagram account. First of all, her niece was constantly on her phone, fingers in motion. Second, the child’s mother spent the weekend saying things like “Ohhh, such a cute shot. You should send that out!” and “Six more followers! Good job!” Third, my friend’s daughter was now begging for an account because all the cool kids had one.

And last, her niece is 10 years old.

Ten.

As in, one and a zero.

twitterpic

So, I ask. Why does a 10 year old need a phone? Why is her mother so concerned about the number of followers her daughter has? And are my kids uncool because they don’t even have a phone yet?

Social media is difficult enough for an adult to navigate, and I’m talking about the emotional aspects, not the mechanics. Cyber bullying is now addressed in high schools and middle schools. Must we address it in elementary schools, as well?

Of course we must. But that doesn’t mean I want to.

I don’t see the need for my child to have a phone just yet. Knowing what I know about the dangers of the world and how close our technology can connect my child to these dangers is not appealing. Call me a worrywart. Call me over-protective. I don’t care.

My children are at an age when I am having to address this issue and I don’t want to. I want to keep my kids young and innocent and pure. I want their phone conversations to be supervised by a long cord tethered to the phone in the middle of a common area, oh say, like a kitchen. I want to know who is calling and at what time. You know, like it was when we were kids.

I’m struggling.

How young is too young?

Am I setting my kids up for social suicide because I want to prolong their innocence?

What do you think? And how are you handling this tricky, yet common, new century conundrum?

 

10 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Motherhood, parenting, Ponderings

The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Jane: The Holy Trinity of Trickery And Fraud

“Mom? Are you the tooth fairy?”

Stunned, I can’t look up from the puzzle I’m working on. “No, Sweetie. I’m your mom.”

My son walked away satisfied.

Oh. God. What did I just do? I lied to my son. But I was unprepared and I knew the inevitable question was next, “Are you Santa Claus, too?”

bunny_king_santa

My husband chastised me. “You can’t lie. If he asks the question it means he’s ready for the answer.”

Well. That might be so. But maybe I’m not ready for the answer.

I’m not. Ready, that is. I fully believe in Santa Claus. Not in the concrete way that children do. But in the esoteric, allegorical sense. Think Miracle on 34th Street or the amazing Colonel Harry Shoup. And the Pollyanna in me clings to this belief for dear life.

I’ve tried to prepare for the inevitable. I’ve practiced speeches in my head. But I stumble and fail. I found this amazing letter that another mother wrote for her child. I’ve bookmarked it, hoping to be inspired when the time comes. But that moment will sneak up on me, just as it did the other day, and catch me by surprise. And I will bumble and fumble for the right words. I pray they come to me.

Think back to the time when you believed in Santa. This extraordinary man, who encourages goodness and kindness and magic. The joy, racing down the stairs, to see what was left under the tree. Finding just what you wanted and he only wanted a cookie, some hot chocolate and a carrot for his reindeer in return.

As my children grow older, I’m trying to come to terms that this magical time is ending. The mysteries of Santa will be revealed. And to those of you who have never lied to your children about this mythical man, you may now smile smugly as I wrestle with my lie and the fear that my children will lose confidence in me. I am a fraud, just as Santa Claus is a fraud, and I may never again be trusted.

Sigh.

“Will you put the dollar under his pillow?” I ask my husband.

“Me? Why me? You ALWAYS do it!” My husband is panicked and I try to get him to take the dollar.

“Well, that way I haven’t lied. I’m not the tooth fairy. You are.” Loopholes. I’m always on the lookout for loopholes.

“Well, I can’t. I mean. Uh. I don’t know how.” He stutters and stammers.

I glare at him. “You don’t know how? What is that supposed to mean? You slip your hand under his pillow, remove the tooth and leave a dollar in its place.”

He sheepishly trudges upstairs and I follow for moral support.

He tries to sneak his hand under the pillow but our son shifts in his sleep. “See? I’m going to screw it up.” He hisses.

I glare again.

He tries again, barely slipping his hand under the pillow and gives up. “I can’t find it. It’s not there.”

Ticked, I snatch the dollar, slip my hand under the pillow, immediately find the tooth and replace it with the dollar bill. My glare has now turned icy and menacing.

“You made a liar out of me,” I snarl.

My husband just stands there, with a sheepish grin.

I guess he’s not ready for the inevitable either.

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Filed under children, Holiday, Motherhood

Black Friday. Worth Every Penny. And Then Some.

I’ve never liked to shop. Ever.

Still don’t. So when my 17 yr. old daughter asked if we could shop on Black Friday I laughed. Out loud. When she told me she was serious, I eyed her suspiciously.

“Only if we go at 5am,” I said, confident that she would back down immediately. You see, I’m a morning person. She’s a night person. A very late night person. She sleeps ’till noon every chance she gets. I knew I was safe.

“Ok!” she said enthusiastically.

Huh? What the…? How did that happen? I then tried to weasel out of it.

“Seriously? You’ll get up at 4:30? I don’t think so. Besides, I don’t think the stores you’ll want to shop even open up that early.”

Remember? I don’t like to shop. So in my forty-something years I’ve never shopped on Black Friday. I’ve avoided it like the plague. I thought only large discount stores and appliance stores were open at that un-godly hour the day after Thanksgiving.

“No, I already checked,” she said, “The mall opens at 5am.”

Rats. I was stymied. I had no idea where to go from there to get out of it.

“Ok…….” I said, voice trailing. I still had 5 more days to figure out how to get out of it. Surely, something would come to me.

But Thanksgiving Day arrived and I still didn’t have a way out. And she was so excited. Sharing this story with my sister on the phone she chastised my lack of enthusiasm.

“You set that alarm for 4:30am and enjoy yourselves. You’re creating memories,” she said, “Just don’t forget your helmet and elbow pads.”

Yikes. That got me. Especially since my stomach sinks every time my daughter receives a letter from a college trying to recruit her. I’m trying to cherish every moment she wants to spend with me. What was my problem?

So on Friday morning, we woke up before the crack of dawn and set out. We drove past our local Wal-Mart at 5:15am. Every, and I mean EVERY parking spot was taken. People were parking on the grass, off the curb. I’ve never seen it so busy. What was I getting myself into?

We arrived at the mall by 5:30am. It was busy but not unbearable. We shopped. We laughed. We waited in lines. I had to go check out the deals at the Disney Store (of course) and she reluctantly tagged along. 

The line was about 10 people deep and she rolled her eyes. “This is just like waiting in line for the rides, ” she groaned. But when we went to Hollister (her favorite store) the line for the cash register winded, weaved and wove through the store. “This must be SOME roller coaster!” I said excitedly. She pretended not to know me.

We chatted on the way to other stores. We chatted over coffee. We chatted in lines. We chatted in the car on the way to lunch. We observed people and talked about that. She shared with me things that were going on with school and with her friends. We reminisced. Mostly light things but some heavy things came up, too. And when the heavy things surfaced it slipped into our conversation easy, calm. I was able to share things I’ve always wanted to say – things every parent should say. She shared her feelings with a little awkwardness. (She is a teenager, after all.)

It was an amazing day.

I remember hearing Dr. Phil impart his wisdom on teenagers once. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you want your kids to talk to you about the big things then you’d better listen to the little things. In theory, I wholeheartedly agreed. But that day, I was able to see it in motion.

I’ve always felt I was a pretty involved parent. But days like this remind me I can always do more. Listening to those little things – how many sisters we could tell were shopping together, who her friends were dating, the latest fashion must-haves, how awful school lunches were – turned into conversations and snippets of some really big things. (And since I’d like to preserve some of her privacy I’m just going to let you guess what those were.) I heard her thoughts. She heard mine. It was amazing conversation with a little shopping thrown in. We enjoyed ourselves so much we’ve decided to make it a yearly tradition.

I saved a good bit of money on Black Friday. I lost a little sleep. Looking back, it was a simple gesture that became grand. And I can’t believe I tried to get out of it. What a shame that would have been.

(This is a repeat post from my first year of blogging. But it’s a lesson I have cherished. As I’m about to approach our 4th Black Friday Extravaganza, I thought I’d send a shout out to all of you to get out there and start making memories with your daughters. And sons. In ways that are meaningful for you. For us, it involves shopping. Yes. I have been reformed.)

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Filed under Holiday, Lessons Learned, Motherhood

Teach Your Children Well

Most people who stumble upon or actually choose to peek in on my blog are moms. Almost all are parents who want to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted children. You find practical advice on head lice (it’s still my #1 seller! Go figure!) or find solace in my anecdotes. Or, in laughing at me, you sit a little straighter, knowing you can top Jane in parenting ability.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a parenting authority.

But I know someone who is.

Madeline Levine, PhD., author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting For Authentic Success, uses “cutting edge research and thirty years of clinical experience” to help us be the parents we want to be. The best kind of cheerleader for our children. Encouraging, supportive, and nurturing. Her book shows us that superficial success is not what shapes an authentic self.

I am familiar with Ms. Levine’s book The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating A Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids.  I found it so interesting, I decided (since I’m not eligible for the giveaway – and I’m cheap) to request her newest book from our library. There’s a waiting list. Out of the 7 copies, all are checked out with a wait list. Looks like Amazon.com is going to squeeze a book out of me this month. Yep. I don’t want to wait. She’s that good.

Harper Collins has graciously offered a free book (read: GIVEAWAY!) for a reader of my blog. Simply comment below and share a proud mommy/daddy moment, a learning (aka bad mommy/daddy) moment, or simply respond with “I want a free book!” Any comment will do. I’m not picky.

Comment before 12:00pm, EST on Monday, August 13th 2012 and a random winner – from the U.S. or Canada – will be chosen. (Yes. Your fate lies in the sticky fingers of one of my sons.)

Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

And have a happy parenting day full of highs and short on lows!

Update: And the winner is……..Naptime Writing! I guess your two entries increased your odds just the right amount. That and the fact that my son rolled your lucky number on the dice. Congratulations! And thanks, too, to TKW, Robin, Velva, Rudrip and Cool Joe for playing.

7 Comments

Filed under children, Motherhood, parenting

Pinch Me. College Age Daughter Actually Wants To Come Home For A Visit.

“Mom, they cancelled my shift on Tuesday. I don’t have to work until Wednesday,” #1daughter whined over the phone.

Boy, this is a switch, I thought. The realities of college expenses are finally sinking in.

I’m dying to ask her to come home, spend some time with us before the boys start school, but I want to be the “cool mom.” I want to be the mom who gives her daughter the space and independence she needs to become a functioning, healthy adult.

So, I bite my tongue. I ask about weekend plans, instead. I suggest biking or checking out the pilates class at the school fitness center.

Silence.

I joke, “If you were a little closer you could come home for a few free meals.” (Okay. I’m not really joking but I’ve run out of suggestions.)

“Really?!” she says excitedly.

“Of course!”

“Okay! I’ll pack a few things and call you as soon as I’m on the road!”

Click.

Four hours later my angel was home. Teasing her brothers and taking them out for frozen yogurt. Watching the Olympics with her mom. Late night B-movies with her dad.

Given a few free days and my daughter actually wanted to come home and spend them with us.

What a relief. Maybe I am doing something right.

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Filed under Adult Children, Motherhood, parenting

Hi. I’m Jane. And I Nursed My Son Longer Than 2 Years.

(Jane clears throat and steps gingerly onto her soapbox.)

Hi.

My name is Jane.

And I nursed my son longer than 2 years.

Go ahead. Start slinging the arrows. Label me crunchy granola. Slap the handcuffs on my wrists and haul me away to crazy-mommy-jail. (Do they have Starbucks? If so, I’ll go willingly.)

I didn’t plan on nursing for so long. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. (Because, after all, that IS what my breasts were designed for, contrary to popular belief.) So when my pediatrician asked me if I’d given any thought to weaning I answered, “Yes. I read it’s best to nurse until a year old. And that’s when I’m planning on stopping.” She smiled a knowing smile and handed me a pamphlet on the latest statistics (7 years ago) and said, “Well, the World Health Organization now recommends breastfeeding until age 2 or longer, whichever is best for both mother and child.”

This was new thinking for me. But after exhaustive research (because I’m really a research nerd-junkie at heart) I decided to practice “child led weaning” or natural weaning. Yes. I said natural weaning. Because if it’s forced, it is un-natural. (I’m on my soapbox so I can say this.)

Now, I wasn’t the perfect crunchy-granola mom. I tried to practice a “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach to the “natural” weaning process. But I succumbed to societal pressures. If we were in public, if guests were visiting who wouldn’t understand, I’d gently redirect and say, “Not now.” Sometimes I’d offer an explanation. But he didn’t really care. A redirect was fine.

But the fact that I was still nursing at (OK. I’ll admit it.) 3+ years of age? It was my dirty, little secret. (And not THAT kind of dirty, little secret. If that’s what you were thinking? Please. Just leave now. There isn’t enough room in the blogosphere to convince you otherwise and I’m not about to try.)

Frankly, I find it pathetic that only 57% of women in the U.S. even try to breastfeed their baby, compared to the 98% in Sweden, Norway and 94% in Rwanda. I understand that for some women, breastfeeding isn’t an option due to health issues. I get it. I truly do. But when a 6 month pregnant woman in my bookclub says, “Oh, no. We’re not going to breastfeed. My husband  and I just aren’t comfortable with that.” And she shakes her head with disgust, with a grimace on her face? I’m the one who is disgusted. (And I tried to hide MY grimace but as you all know, I do not have a poker face.)

And I tried. I really tried not to make a comment about the fairly recent Time magazine cover “Are You Mom Enough?” with the 3-year-old nursing. But hold onto your hats, because here I go.

First of all, I never, ever, ever nursed my 3 year old standing up with him on  a step stool.

Second. If you can’t nurse for whatever physical reason? You get a big, fat automatic pass at breastfeeding. No questions asked. But if you “can’t” nurse because it grosses you (and your husband) out? Maybe you aren’t mom enough.

Third. I understand that Time was trying to elicit a response with their shocking cover. But really. Natural weaning and attachment parenting practices should be a non-issue. They are practiced all over the world. ALL the heck over. We’re the ones with the issues that we need to just get over. Plus, different strokes for different folks. Stop the judging and start supporting each other. Maybe more moms would see the light.

And D (now you really know I’m angry because I’m mixing up my argument structure), that blog that wants to punch people in a place that would really hurt because they tick them off? You can be on your soapbox but please back up your argument with facts. Attachment parenting does not mean that you nurse until your child can spell “delicious and refreshing breast milk” and they co-sleep with you until middle school. I know you’re trying out the Time magazine shock technique, but honestly? You come across sounding mean, angry, hostilely judgmental and insecure in your own parenting skills.  But since that’s the point of your blog, I’ll just stop there.

Yes. I’m a crunchy, granola mom. By accident. Because that’s what felt right for me and my child. At that time in our lives. In that moment. I didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. I didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion. I just did it because that’s what felt right. And sadly, for me anyway, I honestly can’t remember the last time my son nursed. It had tapered off to a point that one day, a day I will never remember because it felt like any other day, he decided it would be his last. He didn’t need it anymore.

As it should be.

(Stepping off my soapbox, and ducking from the arrows, I just want to say whatever is was that YOU did about feeding your infant/toddler/child? It’s your business and your business alone. I don’t care what you did. I know what I think is best but that’s just it. It’s MY opinion. Not yours. You go off and have your opinion. Just don’t want to punch me in the throat because of mine.) 

13 Comments

Filed under children, Moms, Motherhood, Soapbox

Before I Was A Mom…

fall 05 (Custom)

…crying children were like nails on a chalkboard. Now? I frantically search until I find the source to make sure a parent is there taking care of the distraught little one.

…I slept as late as I wanted to on the weekends, which wasn’t very late, but still. I slept until I wanted to get up. Now? Wake up call in our house is 6am. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

…my husband and I could have a little romp in the hay, mid-afternoon, take a little nap afterwards and do it all over again. Now? We have to schedule time. And then keep/remember/have the energy for “the date.” Afterwards we say, “Mmmmm. That was nice. Let’s not wait 3 months for the next time, k?”

…having the money to go out was no big deal. We did what we felt like. When we felt like it. Now? We have to tack on $40-50 more to the budget for the babysitter. Ouch!

…I always remembered to shave my legs. Now? Please don’t look!

…I had seen every single Best Picture nominee for the Academy Awards. Printed out my ballots and threw a big bash so we could eat popcorn and Twizzlers and comment on the tuxes, dresses, and  speeches. Now? Do they still have those awards shows? After our nightly Curious George episode our tv is off.

…I loved my husband. Now? I adore, cherish, am continually amazed by, LOVE my husband. He is such a wonderful father.

…hugs were nice. Now? Hugs are sticky, slimy, sweet smelling, cozy little wonders all day long.

…my skin was fresh with not a wrinkle in sight. Now? I’ve earned every single “laugh line” quite honestly. My children set me into a fit of giggles at least once a day.

…I wondered how I was going to make a difference in the world. Now? I’m shaping the future with my bare hands.

(Sorry for the re-run. My sister is in town (for 10 days!) and she doesn’t even know I blog. And I’m not telling her now. So, I’m going to be a bit scarce. I’ll try to sneak online but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite posts. Enjoy your week!)

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Filed under children, Moms, Motherhood

There’s No Crying In Housework

Cast of Characters

Jane (aka Mom, Taskmaster, Evil Queen of the Jane Household)

#1son (helpful 9 year old, loves baseball, the Military Channel and picking on his younger brother)

#2son (cheerful, goofy youngest of the family who will do anything to get out of chores. Anything.)

Act 1, Scene 1

(A messy home. A very, very messy home.)

JANE

First, we need to pick up the clutter. Then, you can choose something from the Job Jar and get paid OR you can do what I tell you to do and not get paid. It’s your choice.

#1SON

O.K, Mom.

(#1son happily trots off to clean playroom, bedroom, family room, garage – wherever cleaning needs to be done, he cheerfully goes. God, I love this kid! #2son continues playing with Legos.)

JANE

#2son, you need to pick up your toys now.

(#2son ignores Jane)

I mean it. You need to clean up. And you can pick a chore or I can pick a chore. But if I pick it, you’re not getting paid.

(Ad lib arguing, pleading, bargaining, hiding, going to the bathroom, needing to put on a band-aid, looking for a lost Lego, hiding again, etc.)

I mean it, #2son. I’m not fooling around. You need to help. NOW!

#2SON

But I don’t want to! I want to play with my LEGOOOOOOOOOS!

JANE

Well, you have to. Are you a member of this family? Yes. Then you have to do your part.

#2SON

Well, I don’t want to be a member of this family. I’m going to run away!

JANE

That’s fine. But before you go you’re going to have to do some chores. You owe us for dinner last night, that comfy bed you slept in and breakfast this morning. Oh, and you still haven’t worked off what you owe for your swim team fees.

(#2son’s chin starts to quiver. Eyes begin welling up.)

Oh no, mister. That’s not going to work with me.

(Tears start flowing now and he falls to a heap on the floor, face down.)

Crying? Seriously? You’re crying over a little housework? I can’t believe this! All I need for you to do is pick up your toys and pick a couple chores from the job jar. It’ll take you 15 minutes. Tops. And you’re crying about it! I do this every day. Pick up after you all. Clean toilets. Scrub floors. Vacuum. Dust. Laundry. Do you see me crying about it?

THERE’S NO CRYING IN HOUSEWORK!

(And then, realizing what she said, Jane starts laughing hysterically.)

Nope. Not one of my better moments. But I still crack myself up.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, funny, Motherhood

19 Years Ago. And Counting.

19 years ago today a mother-to-be was anxious and nervous and functioning on about 2 hours sleep.

19 years ago today they stopped for dinner at Applebee’s because they didn’t care where they ate and they weren’t really hungry. They poked at their food. They couldn’t concentrate. They just wanted to go already.

19 years ago today they missed the exit and would have been panicked that they would be late but they were already 2 hours early. No worries. Two anxious, about to be first time parents had planned for a wrong turn.

19 years ago today they were not at a hospital. They were at the airport. Because their baby had flown over 24 hours from Seoul, Korea to be a part of their family.

19 years ago today they met an amazing woman, a birthmother who wanted to be part of their homecoming so she could experience the joy she had brought to another family.

19 years ago today people coming off the plane smiled and congratulated the new parents who looked past their heads, trying to get a glimpse of their baby girl. And the passengers waited to see the baby meet her parents for the first time.

19 years ago today two new parents, some of the passengers and one baby cried (for different reasons) and then the passengers clapped, congratulating this new family.

19 years ago today the most precious little bundle of joy was placed in my arms.

And I will never let her go.

Ever.

Happy Gotcha Day, Sweetie! You will always be my sweet, adorable angel!

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Filed under Adoption, children, Motherhood

Underweight. Overweight. I Still See Fat When I Look In The Mirror.

I’m not thrilled with my post-baby body. Who is? Well, maybe the models and actresses with trainers and vegan diets, but not most of us. My issues about my body are nothing new.

Nothing new.

And that’s what’s pathetic.

Growing up, I remember my parents watching us carefully. Portion sizes. Types of food we chose. Commenting on the other “chunky” teenagers out there. They meant well. And it was all ironic coming from my mother – a nurse who struggled with her own weight. But I suppose she was worried we’d turn out like her.

When I was in my teens I was so thin my parents took me to the doctor. They thought I was secretly bulimic. They knew I ate. What they didn’t take into consideration is that I swam 2-4 hours a day on a competitive swim team. The doctor assured them that I was healthy with an enviable metabolism. Sure, I could stand to gain a few pounds but that will come. (And oh boy, did it come.) But even with that experience, my sister and I would compare our thighs.

“Look how mine jiggles,” she would say. “I’m fat.”

“No,” I would counter, “Mine jiggles more. Look.” And I would prove that I was fatter.

In my twenties, my now ex husband (and I’m embarrassed that I’m admitting this) would actually wrap his arm around my waist, making sure he could get his fingers all the way around. I knew what he was doing. He was making sure that I was staying thin. I dreaded wearing a bathing suit, certain that everyone could see my (non-existent) pooch or my thunder thighs. I was actually told by a doctor that my body fat percentage was too low to get pregnant (we were struggling to start a family) and I still looked in the mirror and saw fat.

And then menopause hit. Early. Age 35. And I started gaining weight. At 40, because I was peri-menopausal and my body fat percentage was now optimal for pregnancy, I got my surprise miracle baby. I gained almost 50 pounds during the pregnancy and only lost about 30 after he was born. Now, when I look in the mirror, I pinch way more than an inch in way more than one place. And I think, I’m still fat.

Still.

I see pictures of myself when I was younger and wonder how in the world? How in the freaking world did I ever think I was fat?

But I did.

Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so fat if I’d had an amazing mother like this one with this amazing response to her 7-year-old’s statement that she thought she was fat. I actually teared up with joy and longing and love.

(Please take the time to read this post. Simply amazing. And may you never, ever, ever look into the mirror and think “fat.”)

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Filed under Lessons Learned, Moms, Motherhood