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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Don't Forget What You Did Have As A Child

So I woke up this morning and realized, I am not a woman of leisure! Of course, I realized that I am fatter than I thought, but that isn't the point of this post! So! Back on Track... I admit it, I am not a woman of leisure.

Sure I watch the same show you do, "Real Housewives of Orange County", "Real Housewives of New York", "Real Housewives of Atlanta". What? Um... You mean you don't watch those? Oh! Well let me give you the synopsis. These housewives (many of whom work, and some who aren't even married or living with someone, so where the housewife part comes in I am not sure) live in luxury; gated communities, upscale Manhattan homes and apartments, and Georgia mansions. Their kids want for nothing. They have the latest and greatest money can buy. What most of the kids do not have, are parents who are there for them as a parent with love and discipline. Many have the friend thing going on, but unless I am the last mom on the planet with a brain, we all realize that kids need more than friends out of their relationships with their parents, they have plenty on the playground.

When I was a child I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll, and I wanted it bad! My friends all had them, some had multiple dolls, one even had 5! I just couldn't understand why she could have 5 $80 dolls, or whatever they cost (something ridiculous), and my mom wouldn't buy me one! My mom told me that if I wanted one, I would have to save the money and buy it myself. So here I was, probably around 9 or ten, mowing the neighbors lawns, babysitting, whatever i could to get the money to buy this must have toy of the decade! So I finally get my $40 together, because it is either buy the cheaper preemie or save for a nine year old's eternity to get the larger cooler doll. I go to Toys R Us and "adopt" Michael. I love that doll more than life itself... for about a week, well OK maybe a month, but that is stretching it. What did that teach me?

It taught me that I have to work for the extras in life. I can't expect to have all the extraneous possessions without working for it. I also realized that wanting something and buying something just because I thought it was cool, probably wasn't best in the long run, as trends are fleeting.

My parents were big on responsibility, big on saving up for things. I had to save half for the water bed I wanted (hey it was the 80's remember???) I had to save half or all for anything extra. My parents had the money, but that was besides the point. They weren't wealthy, but they were comfortable. They came from modest backgrounds, and while they gave us far more than they had as children, they didn't forget to let us learn responsibility, or how to earn what we wanted, therefore making us take better care of our belongings.

As a teen I did begin to quietly resent this stance, as my girlfriends shopped at Wet Seal, and the Limited. While I shopped wherever the clearance racks would get me the best for my $200 school year clothing budget. But as I saw these same girlfriends go wild, and get into trouble, while I worked my weekend and after school job, I started to resent it less and less. As my husband and I were able to buy a house at age 20 (yes 20!) and they were still in crummy apartments, with debt out their eyeballs, I began to see the wisdom more clearly.

As a parent, my kids definitely have more than I did. They are now 10 and 7 and are now learning about chores, and saving up for things. They don't like it, but they feel so accomplished when they finally get the item they desire. My oldest at 8 years old saved up for Roller Blades. She had skates, but thought that roller blades were way cool, so I told her to save up for them! She helped grandma and grandpa, she did chores, she saved the $25 to get a pair of purple Roller Blades. And she is so proud of them! And we are proud of her!

So as we strive as parents to do the best by our children, and to do better for our children, we mustn't forget to give them our life lessons, and our wisdom, as well as discipline. This will set them up for life, not a Cabbage Patch Doll.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Mom" Doesn't Equal Perfection

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had grand ideas. Namely that I was going to be the perfect mother. My mom was great after all, but perfect she was not, so I was going to take all of her screw ups, and make myself the perfect mom... Let me tell you how I did it! Um... I didn't. Not that I am big on admitting it (Especially to Colin my hubby) but... I am no perfect. Gasp! I know can you believe it?

This is how determined I was. I was ready to do it all right. When I had my baby showers and received Huggies, Pampers, and bottles, I would smile my endearing smile, knowing it was all going to be returned because I knew better. My child was not going to wear those landfill poison diapers, or drink from a bottle, hello???? I mean who doesn't know that cloth is the best for the environment and have no gel junk in them? Who doesn't know that breast feeding is the BEST and my daughter was going to have the BEST? So back went the diapers and back went the bottles. The diaper service was ordered and ready to go, I would deal with the disposables at the hospital only, as my condescending thoughts rationalized that they are just trying to make it easier on themselves.

Then about 10 years ago my daughter was born. And all my first time mother's wisdom and Utopian ideologies were quickly challenged. At the hospital my daughter born under 6 pounds wouldn't breastfeed. I was at a loss, I mean I actually thought that this just happened! Isn't it the natural thing, don't babies just know how to do this, like puppies? Apparently not... Oh but I was not gonna give up that easy. The doctor came in and told me I had to feed her with a bottle to get her eating or she would have to stay until she gained weight. (For the record that was so not in my plan either) So I had to tape this tube to my breast to get her to get formula... when that failed I had to tape it to my finger. (Okaaayyyy, where is all of this in those happy go lucky freaking baby books huh?) So now that I am doing that and pumping like a mad woman (and getting less than a quarter ounce) my daughter is waking up every hour on the hour to eat once ounce of formula. Frustration is mounting and I just cannot take the fact that I have failed, I am not producing enough milk to coat the sides of a bottle let alone feed her, oh and need I remind you I do not have any bottles still????

So turns out that lack of sleep can make you actually understand what can cause people to shake screaming children. I was lucky to have family to call as I am pulling my hair out from sleep deprivation as a half hour every hour is not enough sleep to deal with a baby screaming from colic and diaper rash... Oh about those lovely cloth diaper services....

Remember, got rid of the landfill cloggers because we were going au naturel? Yeah well turns out that they use some major harsh cleaners for those diapers that they deliver and pick up, and it caused my sensitive skinned baby to actually bleed from her pores on her bottom!!!

So here I am, no landfill clogging diapers that I desperately need along with Bottles, Formula, and SLEEP!!! What the Heck???? None of this followed my plan!!! I cannot believe that I could get it wrong, I did the research, I learned from watching others, and yet, I am still not getting it right??? I have seen 5 specialist on breast feeding and the conclusion is that I cannot breast feed (who knew that could even happen??? Again, never read that in any book!)

So two months in, I toss the feeding tube buy a 12 pack of Gerber bottles, the huge bucket of Soy formula (oh didn't I mention that after my dear Elise suffers through 2 weeks of colic and no sleep my mom and mother in law both remember milk sensitivities in the family????) an even larger bottle of filtered water, and the biggest humongo box of landfill cloggers and desitin.

It takes about 3 days, but after that, I am able to sleep 4 hours at a time, I can change a diaper without a baby screaming in pain, and I am beginning to regain my sanity and begin to bond with my daughter. That is right, I finally two and a half months in, began to be able to bond.

My perfection quest stopped me from being able to bond with my baby in the first crucial days. Those days were met with stress, frustration, and guilt as I wasn't able to succeed at this mom thing that is supposed to be so natural. It is then that i realized, there is no perfection in motherhood, there is only the effort to do what is best for your child. None of these baby manuals have it right, they just have one way, and that one way isn't right for everyone.

After accepting the bottle feeding, I began to actually be glad I wasn't breast feeding. I was able to have my body to myself for the first time in a year, and that was WONDERFUL!!! I didn't have to wear funky bras or worry about if she gets hungry in public. It was so much easier. As for health, she didn't have her first sniffle for almost 2 years, while kids of mother's who breast fed that I knew were sick a lot more than that. I realized I didn't harm her, we were OK!

With my second child, I loaded up on landfill cloggers, bottles, pacifiers, and formula. I had no intention of breastfeeding. I had every intention of bonding and enjoying my daughter, and I did.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Choices vs. The Big Bad Mommy

I am a big proponent of eliminating myself as the Big Bad Mommy. I mean why should I be the bad guy? I do not believe that being a mom, automatically forces me to be this disciplinarian and consequence wielding woman. Does that mean I am a softy? Does that mean that my children are allowed to run free because I want to be the "cool mom" or their "friend"? That would be a big fat... (excuse my french but) Hell No!

On the contrary, we can take our two girls (now ages 10 and 7 but we have since they were each born) anywhere, from regular and upscale restaurants to events, and we always, always get complimented on their behavior. We have even received many thanks from servers and managers of establishments who have dealt with out of control children as they are thankful to see there are children out there who do know how to control themselves, use polite manners, order for themselves, and leave the table condition as close as possible to how the came to it.

Are our children perfect? Robots? Nope. Our method, or parental way is about choices. They may not like all the choices they are given, none the less they are theirs to make. Before we go into the restaurant or where ever the case may be, or I have them do a chore, I talk to them. I remind them that they are to be good. I tell them that it is their choice to behave in a good manner and if they behave well then this will happen (insert incentive) whether it be that they will be able to get something, or be able to go again, or have their scheduled play date. If they behave poorly then I tell them what the consequence from that would be whether it means that they will not be able to go again for a certain amount of time, they will lose their play date and I will call their friends mother to cancel, or they will not be able to get something.

I would never bribe my children. However, say we are going into a department store and I want to look at things for me, that is going to require patience on their part, or complete a chore I will reward them with something (just like a job in the real world pays, my children get rewards for their work). It may be as little as being able to choose something for a certain price, going to get a treat afterward, or a certain amount of pay per chore. Whatever it is, I establish it before hand, and then give them the choice based on how they choose to behave on whether or not they receive it.

Some days they decide that it is much more important to them to fight with each other, or to have a bad attitude than it is to received their reward, so they do not get it. However, after few times of realizing that mom means what she says, and that they have the power to change how they act and get what they want within reason, their behavior will almost always be on par.

When they do act badly, and they do not receive their reward, I remind them, that they not me made the choice. I remind them, that I really wanted to reward them, but that they chose not to receive it, by their actions. Children have to learn that as they become adults that every action has it's consequence. The consequence can be good or it can be bad. We are raising our children to become adults and part of that is teaching them about making wise decisions, and what making not so wise decisions can cause. I think it will prove one of the most valuable lessons, as they go on into adulthood. And also believe that if we teach our children about making decisions now, they will not be overwhelmed by choices later.

To Work or Not to Work? The Stay At Home Mom vs Working Mom Controversy

I think this is a topic that most women have a very strong opinion on. Most women lean to either side and have a great passion about their choice, and their reasonings behind that choice. Personally, I am not really on one side or the other. Maybe that is because I work part time, and so I feel like I am in the middle? Not sure on that one.

Does a Stay At Home Mother care more about her child than a working Mother? Does she sacrifice more for her children when she stays home? Does a working mom, put herself and her materialism above her children?

I believe the answers to these questions in most cases are No to all. Unfortunately, not only in this economy, but in today's times, it is increasingly difficult to live off of one income. It definitely can be done, and it is definitely a sacrifice but so many other aspects must be in place for it to work out in the long run.

The unfortunate reality in many of the children's lives, is that parent's are no longer always in it to win it for whatever reason. Divorce rates are sky high, as such there are many single parents out there. Single parents do not have the luxury of staying at home. They must work to provide for their children. They must work to cover the basics. It isnt a choice. Therefore, is this person putting materialism above their children? No they are just trying to feed their children and give them shelter.

There are some two income families who barely make ends meet. The cost of living is sky high, and I believe that because of the world we are apart of, we have great expectations of what we should have or not have. We all want our children to have what Johnny and Steve have, and the only way to do that is work more, work longer, work harder. Are we making a mistake? Time will tell.

I believe that in a perfect world, one parent would stay home with the children. I personally, work part time during the hours that my children attend school. I am blessed to be able to bring my children to work with me when they are off track, or have a holiday. I am able to stay home if they are ill. Not everyone has this luxury, I completely understand that.

What I do not understand is the downright nastiness I have heard from women to each other with opposing view points. If you are a stay at home mom, why do you hold such anger for the working mom? If you are a working mom why do you hold anger for the stay at home mom? I think that as mothers we have a common bond. We may have different ways, and different views, but our children are our priority. If the end means is the same, why do we rag on each other for different ways to get there? We should be supporting each other. Talking to each other, we are moms, and we are valuable.

So the next time you see someone who is doing life differently, maybe you should think about how you can appreciate the differences, learn from them, teach from them, and get along.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Am I Invisible? A Mother's Story...

Hey! Hey! You out there! Do you see me??? 'Cause I feel invisible.

As a mother I have developed quite a few pet peeves. I peeve anything from dishes left on the table when two very capable (if not completely adorable when they sleep) girls run off post meal, to toe stepping oning. Okay, so I admit that Oning, is not a word. I admit it, yet it I am using, if only for today.

Back to the peeves. We were at the pet store, buying Rosie her food, this weekend when one of my peeves were violated three freaking times. I look at my daughter who at 10 is old enough to know better. Then I look at my throbbing toes, (Yes it is January, but in California we have a license to wear flip flops year round, as long as one's toes are manicured). Then I look back at her in fury!

This may seem like an over reaction, but it is too hard for a 10 year old to be able to see that if Mom is there, then she has feet attached? Really? I have told her so many times, that I am not invisible, and I am perfectly capable of walking up to her without so much as a toe brush let alone a toe stomp. Ugh!!!

For me and my kids this is a nearly daily occurrence and I take offense to the fact that I am no more noticeable than anything else, and really it makes me feel thought little of, whether or not it is the case. I have had to explain to them, the reason this infuriates me is because it feels like a lack of respect, whether or not it is intended to, and gosh darn it, bottom line.... It freaking hurts!

What are your pet peeves? Come On!!!! I know you got them!