Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Say No

The time has come that I have been dreading.   The time I am expected to discipline my child. 

Me.  The person that has no patience and really doesn't like confrontation. 

What requires more confrontation and patience than reprimanding a baby?  Of course, like most things with parenting, I am clueless on the right thing to do.  And of course, like I always do, I ask a billion people and read a trillion internet articles.   And, as usual, it leaves me more confused.  As if that was possible.

For example...

Don't keep saying no, it only causes them to devalue the word and tune you out.

Make sure you say no sternly so they understand it is wrong.  Also, do it consistently so they don't get confused when they can and cannot do something.

Don't put them in time out because it increases separation anxiety, shows that we can't handle them when they act out and tells our children we only want them around when they are good.   They will become serial killers.

Use times outs consistently.  It helps the toddler realize what behavior is acceptable and they learn cause and effect.

Don't spank, bop or even lightly smack your child.  It will cause them to be angry and think it is OK to hit.  They will become serial killers.

Spanking has no affect on the child if used correctly and provides boundaries.  A study in the UK found children spanked were more successful in life.

Use positive reinforcement when the child is behaving correctly.   This will make them want to please you and do the right thing.  Withdraw that positivity when the child misbehaves.

Do not only provide positive reinforcement when the child is doing something good.  Children need to hear they are good all the time, not only when they are being good.  Otherwise, they grown up thinking they are not loved unconditionally and become serial killers.

Give children choices.  Children tend to misbehave less if they feel they have control over their environment.  By allowing the child to choose between taking a bath now or in 5 minutes, you are giving them control over the decision.

Do not give children choices.   Children need strict boundaries set by parents.   They do not want to be control and feel powerless when given control.  When that happens, they become serial killers.

Don't be too strict or your children will rebel and become serial killers.

Don't be too passive or your children will feel unloved and become serial killers.

See.  Clear as mud.
 
And what has my seemingly happy little boy done wrong, you may ask?  He bites.  He doesn't bite everyone.  Just me and his father.  For now.   I am sure some unsuspecting toddler at daycare is next.

It does not seem malicious 99% of the time.  He does it trying to playful.  He laughs and giggles afterwards.   We have tried everything and apparently, it is everything wrong.   There is nothing more frustrating than having a 13 month laugh at you when you punish him.

So what is a mother to do?

The number one answer I received when I asked veteran moms? 

Bite him back.

Great.  I am going to end up scaring my child for life.  And creating a serial killer.


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blogging is Hard

I decided to start this blog based on encouragement from friends and family.   Everyone thought my Facebook posts were funny, so longer prose about my antics as a new mommy should be hysterical.

Know what I found out?  I am not funny when I am forced to be.   I am more of a one line zinger, spur of the moment type of girl.   Funny things happen throughout the day, or cross my mind, and I try to think of how I could write about them but I can't.  I have nothing.  I am blocked.   And if by some glory of God, I think of something hysterical to write, I forget about by the time I finally sit down at the computer.

I read other mommy blogs.   I don't know how some of them do it.   I swear they make that shit up.   They must see things happen to other people or TV and then write about it.   I mean, are those pictures even their own kids?  Not to mention they "say" they have 7 kids and they "say" being a stay at home mom is crazy busy and they are tearing their hair out.  If that is true, how the hell do they find time to blog about it?   Some of them blog several times a day. All I envision is the 7 kids hanging from the chandeliers, eating peanut butter from a jar with a knife while mommy is curled up on the couch with her laptop.

And these mommies just don't blog!   They are making a lifestyle out of it.   You can apparently make $500 to $10,000 a month blogging.   Yes.  You read that right.  But to do so, you need exposure, exposure, exposure!  These mommies have Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts connected with their blog.   And they don't just post the link to their latest blog post on these things.  They come up with constant status messages.   Again, who is watching the 7 kids when they are updating Facebook and Twitter 10 times a day and pinning cute things to make with your kids?  I feel like I should call social services.   Or find out what stimulant they are on, because sleep cannot be an option.

But it doesn't stop there.  I am still considered an amateur because I use a blogger URL and template.  In the world of bloggers I am like a knock-off Louis Vuitton.    Real bloggers learn Wordpress.  Real bloggers purchase their own URL and manage it.    So, let's add that to the daily tasks that "mommy of 7" does.

And during her extra time?  There is still:

  • Blogger conferences to attend
  • Mommy groups to belong too
  • Guest blogging opportunities
  • Mommy swag to peddle
  • Advertising / Building readership

Are you kidding me??!! I was exhausted reading about it all.  Hell, I need a nap after typing this post. Blogging is a full time job if you want it to be anything more than a hobby.

I guess I am not quitting my day job any time soon.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

10 Things I Want To Teach My Son

The Boston bombing, mass shootings, teen rape and bullying. Every day I turn on the news I see things that I would have thought were unfathomable. Things that make me sad. Very sad. I wonder what type of future is being left for my son.

I can't control the insanity that is taking over the world, but I can try and control my own little piece of it. I can try and raise a good person that might some day make the world a better place.

Below is a list of the things I hope to teach my son. No, I don't think these things will change the world into one made of unicorns and rainbows.  However, if he makes the world better for one person, I will have done my job.

Some of these things I am still learning myself.  Some, I learned the hard way and hope to spare him the pain. Some, I wonder if I will ever learn. I am sure there are many more things I could list but 10 seemed like a good start.

Son,

I hope I can one day teach you:
  1. Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.   There is a story of a carpenter who decided to retire and spend time with his family.  His boss asked him to do him a favor and build one last house.  His heart really wasn't in it but he said OK and it showed in his work.  No one was supervising him, so he decided to cut corners.   When he was done, his boss handed him the keys and said "Surprise, the house is your goodbye gift!".   Had the carpenter taken pride in his work and done the right thing, he would have had a really nice house.  Instead, he had a badly built one.  I hope I can teach you to always do the right thing even if you can get away with the wrong thing.  
  2. If you are not willing to say something on a public Facebook wall, don't say it at all.  You may be able to say off-color or mean things around certain people but if it is not something you are willing to say in front of a large public audience, you probably shouldn't say it.
  3. Be kind.  Enough said.  There is already too much ugly in this world.  Please do not contribute to it.
  4. Be honest. It really is the best policy.   Yes, there may be times you may need to lie to someone to show compassion.  But do that sparingly and carefully.  Sometimes people really do need to hear the truth.  Even if it is hard to hear.  But when you tell them, say it kindly.
  5. Find your passion.  When bad things happen, having a passion increases life's meaning and purpose.   It gives you somewhere to escape and it brings joy.  Your passion doesn't necessarily equate to a job.  Your job may simply fund your passion, but it may not be your passion. That is OK.   Your passion may be simply collecting stamps or looking at the stars.  That is OK too.  Just find what makes you happy and be passionate about it.
  6. Learn from failure.  Failure is unavoidable.  J. K. Rowling once said "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default".  Her book, Harry Potter, was rejected by 12 publishers.  She picked herself up, learned from the rejection and went on to have one of the best selling books in history.   Failure is hard but it does not define you.  How you deal with it will define you.
  7. Being popular is not the same as having friends.   The actual definition of popular is "commonly liked or approved".   I really do not know if that is true.  I know a lot of  "popular" people that were neither liked nor approved of.  They were simply "known".   You can be known by a lot of people and many of those people may even like you.  Some may even wish they could be you.  But they will not all be your friend.   Not all of them will be there for you when you really need them.  They won't keep your secrets, wipe your tears or know you your dreams.  They won't be there when your popularity ebbs and flows - and it will.  You can be popular and still feel very alone.   It takes time and effort to cultivate a friendship.  Use your time to cultivate close friendships that will last a lifetime and not on trying to be popular.
  8. Debt is not OK.   You are going to grow up in a fast food world.   Everyone wants things now.   It is also a very superficial world.   Everyone wants to look like they are doing better than their neighbor.  You will be tempted to gather material things you neither need nor can afford just to "keep up with the Jones" and you will be tempted to gather it quickly - on credit.  Don't.   It may seem harmless to pay someone Tuesday for a hamburger today, but it isn't.   You only end up spending ten times more for the hamburger and worrying about getting the money by Tuesday.   On top of that, you probably won't even have a hamburger anymore to show for it.  Debt causes stress.  Stress causes health and relationship problems.  It is not worth it.  If you have to finance something, do it after careful consideration and do it smart.   And if you don't know what I mean about Tuesday's Hamburger, read about Wimpy or watch an old Popeye cartoon.
  9. Life is better if you believe.  Believe in Santa.  The Easter Bunny.  The Tooth Fairy.  God.  Angels.  Spirits.  Anything.  Just believe in the unbelievable.   Not everything can be explained.  Believing in things that glitter make you feel good, it keeps you young and brings joy.   Besides, just because you have never seen the Easter Bunny doesn't mean he doesn't exist somewhere.   Be fun.  Believe!
  10. You can love someone but not like them.  This is hard to understand.   People will disappoint you.  People will disagree with you.  You may not like what they have done or said.  You may not like what they like.  But you can still love them.   You can love the history you have with someone.  You can love what they represent in your life.  You can love how they made you feel in the past.  Love is understanding what that person means to you as a whole.  Like is often just a moment in time.   Do not confuse the two and throw away love just because you don't like someone that very moment.  You will do things that I will not like.  You will say things to me that hurt my feelings.  There will be times I may not like you very much.  But I will always love you and I hope you feel the same.

Love always,
Mommy

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why My Son Cries

Yesterday, I shared a link to Reasons My Son Is Crying, a father's documentation of all the reasons his 1 year old throws temper tantrums.    I guess I wasn't the only one who thought it was extremely funny, because the site went viral and the family ended up on GMA and The Today Show this morning.   I would like to think that I am a purveyor of all things trendy but I am probably just one of millions of parents looking for some sort of humor in the everyday chaos we now call our life.

Therefore, I dedicate this post to keeping in the spirit of Greg Pembroke's chronicles of toddler tears and have listed some of the reasons my 1 year old has cried this past week.   I don't have any cute pictures as I am really not in the state of mind each time to grab a camera.   Hell, most of the time I don't even remember where my cell phone is.

I also won't end up on a morning talk show, but I hope some of you can relate to the list.

Reasons my 1 year old threw a tantrum this week:
  • I tried to get him to stop eating the bubbles during his bath
  • Food was stuck on his pointing finger
  • A wall got in the way of him pushing his walker
  • He couldn't go outside and ride in his car because it was raining
  • He couldn't go outside and ride in his car because it was dark
  • He couldn't go outside and ride in his car because we already went twice and mommy was tired
  • I wouldn't let him bite me
  • I wouldn't let him bite the cat
  • I wouldn't let him electrocute himself by pulling a plug out of an outlet
  • The strawberries and cantaloupe were not grapes
  • He can't eat graham crackers all day long
  • I wouldn't let him roll off the changing table
  • I wouldn't let him crush himself with his highchair
  • I wouldn't let him stab himself in the eye with a fork
  • The remote was taken away after he almost purchased a PPV movie
  • He was pointing to a wall and I had no idea what the hell he wanted
I am sure there were many more, but now you know a few reasons why I put wine in my sippy cup.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dieting Dilemma

I mentioned in my last post that I am trying to lose that elusive "last 10 pounds".  If I am honest, it is not the last 10 pounds of baby weight.  I am already at pre-baby weight....finally.   It is the 10 pounds that I have been trying to lose for years prior to having a baby.   Those 10 pounds I think will make me finally feel good about my weight so I can move on to other things to be neurotic about.   Then again, when I look back at pictures of me in my 20s at 105 lbs soaking wet and remember that I thought I was fat, I wonder if I will ever stop being neurotic about my body.

Anyhow, I realized one of the reasons I get frustrated with what Little L eats (or doesn't eat) is that I hate waste.   I really do not need to be eating the leftover rice, pasta, bananas and so forth he won't touch.  He has caused a dilemma for me. 

I feel like the gas pump picture going around the Internet below.  An OCD nightmare.



Do I eat the extra carbs so not to be wasteful?  or do I just throw it away (money be damned!) and save myself some calories.

Or do I keep doing what I have been doing?   Hoping that not entering the calories in My Fitness Pal and doing 20 jumping jacks means they didn't exist and I can drink more wine?

This is the crap that goes through my head.  I told you I have issues.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Neighbor

As if working full time, raising a 1 year old, making my marriage work, being a step mom, blogging and trying to remember where I put the car keys was not enough, I have decided to train for a 5K.   I have run them in the past, but haven't hit the pavement in two years.   I really want to lose that last 10 pounds and decided signing up for a race, and making friends sign up with me, would motivate me to get moving.   Today was my second try at 3.1 miles without stopping.   And today was my second failure at 3.1 miles without stopping.

I also confirmed something about myself during my "run".   I will do whatever it takes to impress someone that makes me feel inferior, even if it means passing out on the sidewalk from dehydration and exhaustion.

During my second mile around the neighborhood, I noticed my neighbor in the front yard.    My neighbor:  the tall, thin, spiritual, organized, well educated, stay at home, home schooling  mom.   Everything I am not.  She is the type of mom that would use Pinterest to showcase the things she actually does.  She probably does the things I pin thinking I will do one day but we all know I won't.  It takes too much time, effort and patience.  Things like making food in the shape of cute animals, scrapbooking, handmade soap and crayon art projects.  Then again, she probably doesn't use Pinterest because she doesn't believe in more than 2 hours of electronic media a day.  

I talked to her a few times and she is very organized and structured.   She home schools her two kids.   One boy and one girl, about three years apart.  Perfect, heh?   They get up at the same time every day, eat a healthy breakfast and start their lessons probably before I have my second cup of coffee.   In the afternoon, after their lessons and chores, the kids play outside.   I often look out my window and see the boy climbing trees and the girl reading books on a blanket.   All they are missing is the white picket fence.  They play outside until dad comes home and then they promptly go in to have family time and dinner.   Very "Leave It To Beaver"-esque.

On top of all of this, she has a background in education and is extremely well spoken.   Her husband is getting his Master's degree and they are both very involved in their church.   Everything she says is the proper thing to say.  I, on the other hand, find myself trying not to curse around her or say anything that might make her think we are uneducated heathens.  I am even afraid I might use the wrong prepositional phrase and match the wrong modifier with my object.  Hell, I don't even know what that means.  All I feel is judgement in her eyes, although it is probably entirely in my head since she seems very, very nice.

Speaking of what is in my head.  I find it hard to believe there are any arguments in her house.  I envision the kids never getting stains on their clothes, talking back to her or throwing tantrums because they can't have ice cream.   I envision beds that get made every day, pork in the oven and not a speck of dust anywhere.  Then I imagine them turning into lizard people during the full moon.   It makes me feel better.

You can probably guess that she makes me feel inferior.   But as I ran past her, I thought to myself that I had never seen her run!  That is one thing I could do better than her!  So I picked up my speed, smiled like my knees were not killing me and waved as I jetted past her.   I continued this act as my lungs began to burn and I started to get a pain in my side.   "Just get around the corner" I kept repeating to myself.   By the time I finally rounded the corner and was out of sight, I thought I was going to puke.  I thought I was going to die on the corner of Pride Street and Inferior Avenue. But it was worth it!

As I finished my 3 miles and jogged into my garage, I felt accomplished.    I felt good!

Then I opened the fridge to get some water and saw my son's sippy cup staring me in the face.  The cup I was supposed to send with him to daycare.    The neighbor may not be able to run a 5K, but I bet she never forgot her son's sippy cup and sent him to daycare with nothing to drink.  

Who am I kidding.   She probably runs 5Ks too.   Hell, she probably runs marathons while knitting Christmas gifts. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

You are not the boss of me!

As if my self-esteem could take any more blows.   I am now the proud mama of a 12 month old boy that laughs hysterically at me when I say no.  

"No! Do not pull the cat's tail" causes giggles as he maneuvers around me in search of the frantic cat.

"No! Do not pinch" causes laughter as he reaches out and takes my skin between his tiny fingers again like it is a game of mercy.

"No! Do not throw your toys" leads to high pitched squeals of delight as he throws his block across the room.

The more mad I get, the louder he laughs.  I think his stuffed animals have more authority than I do.

I don't want to get loud.  I don't want to be mean.   I think he is too young for time out.  He thinks sitting in the corner is just a way to give him a new view of the room - and the cat.  He finds a speck of dust to play with.  It makes him....yes, you guess it...laugh.

I have a hard time keeping a straight face but I also want to cry. It is so frustrating.  He is so dang cute but he really needs to learn to listen to me before one of us ends up in jail.

If he thinks I am joke now, I can't wait until he is 14.   Not only will he laugh at me but he will probably be taller than me and make me sit in the corner.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Eat the damn green bean!

Being a mommy is not for the impatient.   I knew this going in but like everything else I talk about I didn't realize to what extent or how hard it would be.  "I got this!" I thought to myself.  

No. I do not have this.

There are many awesome things about having a baby late in life.   For the most part you are more financially established.  More mature.  You have sort of figured out who you are and what you want in life.   But you can also be set in your ways.  Resistant to change.   I am impatient.  Always have been.  Appears I always will be.

The latest saga that has tested my lack of patience?   Trying to get my son to eat more than grapes, crackers, yogurt and Cheerios.  It has been a nightmare.   I will give props to the little dude.  He at least picks things up, inspects them and puts them on his tongue before ceremoniously spitting them out.   In the beginning I thought he was at least eating a few pieces before deciding he didn't want anymore.   Then I found the bite sized nuggets in the pocket of his bib.   I guess he quickly realized that mommy isn't the brightest crayon in the box because yesterday I caught him picking the food up and placing it in the bib pocket piece by piece.   He is 12 months old and already trying to hide his food.

I am also stressed out about daycare. He is now in the "transition" room. He is being groomed to be a toddler. AKA: playing with the big dogs - the 18 month olds. In order to move over, he has to be able to eat on his own and what they provide. That is, unless I want to provide his lunch and snacks. But I already pay them to feed him and what am I going to pack everyday? Grapes, yogurt and crackers?

So far he has snubbed almost every meal they have tried. They tell me that he has time. They say they will work with him and it will be OK. But who wants to have the baby that is held back because he wants strained carrots while the others are eating ravioli like the professional babies they are?

I have Googled help, asked family, asked friends, and asked complete strangers on mommy forums.  The advice is all over the place.  Some say give him more selection.  Why? Because the 3-4 things I put on his plate are not enough?  I already feel like a short order cook.  Some say feed him what he wants to save my sanity and he will grow out of it but I am worried about nutrition.  Some say to only give him what we are eating and he will eat it if hungry enough.  If he doesn't eat at one meal, he will eat at the next.  Yeah? What happens when that hunger strikes at 3am?  I don't think the food fairy is the one getting up to feed him.

I have also gotten advice on what foods to try.  If one more person tells me to try pasta, I am going punch them in the face.   Little L eats crackers, cookies and bread just fine.  I don't need to hear about the crackers your baby likes.  I need to hear about the newest vegetable that tastes and looks like a cracker.  Trust me.  If you can suggest it, I have already tried it. I have looked at hundreds of possible food choices for 1 year olds and tried them all.   

I have been told you sometimes have to expose a baby to a food 15 times before they will like it. Who has time for that? I don't.  I don't want to eat eggs 15 times, much less try feeding it to him 15 times.    Not to mention, he is tricky.  He will eat something one day and want nothing to do with it the next.  It is like he is playing games with my sanity.

But honestly, it is great to hear what has worked for other moms and some of their stories of frustration.  So keep it coming!  It does make me feel a little better to know others have gone through this too.

There has been one constant theme with all the advice.  Patience.  This too shall pass.

Too bad patience is not on my menu.   Just eat the damn green bean. Or chicken. Or banana.