Tag Archive for Motherhood Mysteries

Yes, I’m THAT Mother (Already)

When I was teaching, I swore that when I had kids I wouldn’t be that mom. Hyper-involved, helicopter-parent mom. The one who thinks her precious spawn is just so-supah smaht and needs more attention.

But here we are.

My daughter really loves structured lessons based on themes. And so, with mixed feelings about the very concept of preschool, I decided to enroll her two days a week for two and a half hours each session.

After the first day of preschool, I noticed they were writing her name on her paper. She knows how to write her name. So I told her next time she could say if she wished, “Thank you for helping me but I would like to write my own name.” And the next session, she came back with her own scrawl on the paper. Good job, kiddo.

Generally, I would prefer to stay out of things and let her work them out with some parental advice and guidance. At the same time, I am also very afraid of her getting bored in school. I got bored in school at a very young age and the results were not pretty.

I got on the horn the other day to request that if they must do dittos in preschool (which I’m not all that fond of to begin with) could my daughter could do dittos more in-line with her skill level.

For example, on her letter ditto, she is supposed to “color in” the letter–but I know she can already write the letter, identify words beginning with the letter, sound out words with that letter in them, etc. Or on another, she had to trace a pre-drawn dotted line connecting an animal with where it lives (right across from the matching animal)…why not have her free-draw a line to match the two? These are things she already does at home.

First, the teacher justified their use of dittos by saying they will have to do dittos in kindergarten.

Ummm…but she’s three. Should I hand my one year old a ditto based on that theory?

Ultimately this issue is besides the point, though, because although I’m not thrilled with dittos, my daughter thinks they are fun…so let her enjoy her dittos…can we just match her level a little more closely.

The answer to this was that they were all reviewing. That some of the kids don’t even know what it means to trace.

I’m sorry but that brought out Mama Bear. I don’t really care what the other kids do or do not know. We’re talking about my kid. Not the other kids.

I replied that as a former classroom teacher, I recognize the challenge of differentiating instruction for different skill levels. HOWEVER, these are DITTOS. Dittos already DONE INDEPENDENTLY. I’m not asking them to change their curriculum. Just PHOTOCOPY ANOTHER WORKSHEET ON THE SAME TOPIC.

I also recognize that I will be beating my head up against a one-size-fits-all system throughout my children’s lives, whatever their ability levels. However this is a private preschool, for which I pay. And I purposely chose a Montessori school because of the emphasis on independent exploration. And they have a mixed class of three to five year olds…so they are presumably already differentiating.

At this point, I feel like the teacher thinks I am pushing academics. And please, believe me when I say I am not. There are no baby flash cards, baby educational videos, or any bionic-super-duper-baby paraphernalia in my house. In fact, I’d rather her go outside and play more, or wriggle her fingers in some playdough, or finger paint, than do any dittos at all. I just don’t want her to get bored doing dittos she already knows how to do.

She assured me that most of their time was spent playing outside or indoors on the mat with the Montessori materials. She promised they would be “evaluating” (shudder … but that’s a whole ‘nother rant) the kids and differentiating soon.

As I hung up the phone, I thought about the absurdity of questioning the pedagogical tactics of teachers who spend a combined total of 5 hours a week with my child, when I spend the other 163 with her.

And I realized that yes, I have become that parent.

I guess, somewhere deep inside, maybe I always knew I was that parent. I just didn’t think the transformation would happen so very quickly.

Photo Credit: Mike Baird

You Make Me So Angry

If I may, without sounding too twee, or too much like a motivational speaker, I have a paradigm-shift suggestion.

Let’s drop the phrase “that makes me angry/sad” and all its variations from our speech.

Hear me out, please.

The idea encoded in the language is that someone or something else is making you angry or sad. As if you have no control, no choice in the matter. You are passive, acted upon.

Instead, how about, “I feel sad when…”

Which acknowledges the feeling but then opens up room for: “So to feel better I am going to…”

My generation of women, especially mothers of young children, seems so disaffected…angry…sad. As if all we do is not enough, and then somehow we are not enough. There’s this sense, somehow, that destiny had greater things in store for us, that life is somehow passing by.

As a member, however peripheral, of this community of online women, I’ve been chewing over the role bloggers play, big and small, in defining modern motherhood.

We’ve shattered the glass windows of the dollhouse, revealing how honest, witty, and smart we are. And with our sledgehammers, axes, and picks, we’ve let in the fresh air to clear the miasma and achieve the catharsis. And then with a charming, kind, and generous spirit we breathe new life.

I want to find the courage to take responsibility for my own dreams. And embrace joy, unabashedly, giddily, wholeheartedly.

And Then There’s Mommy Strong…

It began as a joke–Captain Dad was talking about the strength it takes to parent through the day and we started humming the theme to the “Army Strong” commercial.

There’s Strong, and then there’s Mommy Strong…

But honestly, I’m finding it helps me get through some tough points in the day to imagine the music swelling as I lift my toddler or juggle the dishes.

You don’t really even have to change the lyrics, because we could benefit from getting over, and getting over ourselves…but it is more fun to mess with the words.

Cue trumpets:

There’s “strong,” and then there’s “Mommy strong,”

It’s more than physical strength; it is emotional strength.

Not strength with others, but the strength of mothers.

Not just strength at 12pm, but strength at 12am.

It is not just the strength to command, but the strength to convince,

Not just the strength to lift toddlers, the strength to lift spirits,

Not just the strength to lead, but to get your kids to actually follow,

Not just the strength to push, but the strength to push everyone out the door.

Not just the strength to do it yourself, the strength to teach little ones to do it for themselves.

There’s nothing stronger than a loving family, because there is nothing stronger than the love of a mother.

There’s “strong,” and then there’s “Mommy strong.”

Please feel free to add some lines.

The NYT is Good for Something, Or Why I Got Roses Just Because

Newsflash: The New York Times still serves a valuable purpose in the lives of ordinary Americans.

My husband came home one day this week and presented me with a lovely bouquet of flowers. Why? Just because…

He explained he was reading this article about how children increase marital tensions and he just wanted to let me know that he appreciates me and all I do for our family.

The articles discusses how children bring happiness, but they can also bring stress into your relationship with your spouse.

My husband and I love each other, and we adore our children. Sometimes all of the juggling of doctor’s appointments, and household chores, and daily routines on top of our careers can become overwhelming. It is definitely important to have a reminder now and then that we need to set aside quality time for each other.

How about you? Do children bring couples closer together? Or did you have more time and energy for your mate before the babies?

To Sling, Or Not to Sling

Every time I take my babies out, I have a choice: Sling or stroller.

I’ve seen parents carrying young infants with neither option, but I cannot imagine that and there is no way I’m carrying my 18 pound infant in a car seat without a stroller.

Let’s do a case study:

Slinging It:

Today I took my toddler to the doctor and I placed Junior in the sling. While we were waiting for the doctor, he fell asleep and continued to sleep through the entire exam.

I brought them to “Toddler Tango” at the library and held Junior in the sling while I danced with my daughter. Junior flirted a bit with the ladies and then passed out. Another mother’s infant woke up from a nap in the travel system and she commented that she did not have her Bjorn with her. I whipped out my spare pouch sling (hee, hee) as a loaner and now she wants one, too.


We went to a craft program. I decided to place Junior in the stroller, hoping he’d fall asleep and I’d get a little break. I maneuvered our Sit N’ Stroll into the elevator along with another adult and toddler. Then, a Dad came along and we held the door for him. He came in with toddler and his stroller.

The doors closed and…the elevator did not move.

We pressed buttons, the doors stubbornly refused to reopen.

Three adults, three toddlers, two strollers, and one infant stuck in an elevator for 15 minutes.

When maintenance finally got us out, I placed Junior in the sling, left the stroller, and walked down the stairs. We arrived in time for circle time but missed the craft.

Now, in the stroller’s defense there are times when I need a little more freedom of movement (like undressing and dressing the toddler for swimming). And sometimes I want to move faster than the toddler can walk. So, strollers definitely have their uses. After the elevator experience, though, I am even more convinced of the benefits and convenience of my slings.

How about you? Any stroller or sling experiences that made your day or drove you crazy?

A Present of Presence

An invitation to a party is always welcome–especially a carnival! So, when Amy let me know about the Attachment Parenting International Carnival, I was jumped on over right away.

(Okay, so this is of the bloggy variety and not one with balloons and rides and sinful cotton candy, but still, a carnival nonetheless.)

During the seconds it took to load the page, I became increasingly excited. What would the topic be? On which loving aspect of attachment parenting would we focus?

And then, my grin dropped and my eyes narrowed: Presence…how I give my children my presence.

Presence is one of the most important aspects of parenting mindfully and it does not cost a dime. Being present is also one of the hardest things to do in this fast-paced, hectic, go-go-go world.

Confession: sometimes I get fixated on the details and lose the big picture.

There are tummies to fill, errands to run, and events to attend. Not to mention work to be done. The house starts to feel more like a triage unit than a home.

And, just when everything seems to almost be under control, I add another challenge to my already full schedule.

My husband has lately been calling me out on my overuse of the word “need.” We need air, sustenance and shelter, not a finished basement and more clothes and a bigger car, he points out as I try not roll my eyes and pout like a teenager.

No that there is anything wrong with gymnastics lessons, foreign language instruction, and fancy toys–but children, especially young babies, don’t need those things. Children need their families. Children need love.

And in trying to squeeze an ever increasing amount of errands, tasks, and work into day that just refuses to stretch any longer, it is easy to forget this simple truth.

Fortunately, confession is good for the soul. Even better–group confession. Like this fabulous mother, I have to be honest and admit that there are distractions. Honey, I promise I’ll read you that book as soon as I publish this post.

When I hear another new mother trying to wrap her mind around the challenges of parenting, I try to reassure her that motherhood should be about enjoying your family, reveling and rejoicing in this special bond, not about checking off a list or adhering to a strict set of rules. We should be committed to parenting, not committed to an institution because of parenting.

What a wonderful way to kick off an Attachment Parenting Carnival–by sending the message that the most important thing we can do for our children is to just be there with them. Everything else is icing.

So, I’m committing to slowing down and being present with my children.

When they are both awake, I’ve been fighting the urge to “get things done” and instead concentrate on doing things with the kids.

I turn the computer off during our play time.

My new baby eats constantly, but I try to find the joy of gazing into his eyes while feeding him, instead of reading a book–at least while he is awake.

When I’m with my children, I remember that part of the joy of parenthood is being able to experience the world as a child does, once again.

I remember that we’ll only be here, in this moment just once.

Some time and space has to be sacred, dedicated to the family.

Life is always a balancing act, especially for women. And I still will have to work and meet deadlines and accomplish. Sometimes I will be a better parent and a more productive worker when I compartmentalize and set aside times for each. I can type and think more freely when I am not mothering and I can nurse and nurture a lot more wholeheartedly when I am not trying to work.

Other times, I can work with my children. Perhaps it will take an hour to fold the laundry with the toddler’s “help,” but we will be together–learning, laughing, and loving.

Find out how other parents are giving their children their presence and share your own story…

Random Thoughts

Kinda like “Deep Thoughts,” but not as funny.

Junior smells just like his Daddy. No, not the bottom half. The top of his head, specifically, smells just like my husband. And when I breathe in the scent, I’m just flooded with love for both of them.

One of the advantages of having a big baby is that you do not have to worry he was switched at birth…because, y’know, it isn’t like they switched him with the other ten and a quarter pound newborn at the hospital.

I guess the reason I looked like I was carrying twins is because I was carrying the equivalent of two healthy-sized twins.

Taking the Plunge

My daughter has been almost constantly by my side since she was born. The number of times we’ve been apart is in the single digits.

Call it baby separation anxiety.

At the start, it was new mommy attachment–I didn’t want someone else taking her because she was my baby. I had just worked through 24 hours of difficult labor with complications to bring her into the world, and I felt like I wanted to hold her forever.

Then, we found out about her heart condition and I found myself alone. With my husband deployed and family so far away, it didn’t seem fair to ask another to accept the responsibility for her care, assuming anyone would have.

After the operation, there were months of house hunting and moving and several phases of developmentally appropriately stranger anxiety. And recently, she added the breath-holding and fainting to her infrequent but intense toddler explosions.

Most of the time, though, she is a happy and social child. A real flirt at playdates, where I notice little toddler boys feeding her fruit.

When I signed her up for swim lessons, I thought we would enjoy the experience together. But the Mommy and Me class was geared for much younger babies–”Now if your baby has good neck control, you can try this…”

So, I held my breath and dove in–splurging on the individual lessons. Lessons that required I hand my precious child to another person and then walk away. I could watch from the observation deck, but she would not be able to see me.

As she approaches her second birthday, I am realizing it is long past time. Time for her to embrace new experiences. A healthy attachment is a beautiful thing and so important at the start. At the same time, I do not want to limit her. I have to let go, just a little, so she can grow.

I know she feels loved and secure. I knew she could do it. I just was not so sure about me.

So, yesterday at the the pool, I released her into the arms of a trustworthy someone who is not a blood relation.

And for the first ten minutes she screamed. She howled and raged at the betrayal. And I gripped the rail and felt terrible, for her, for myself, and especially for her poor, patient swim teacher.

But after that, she was finally distracted by the joys of the pool, the fun toys, and the excitement of actually being encouraged to kick–the lure of the forbidden fruit. She swam, and she smiled, and she didn’t even start crying tears of accusation when I returned poolside to pick her up 30 minutes later.

All the way back home and the rest of the day she talked about “swim fun.”

There you stood on the edge of your feather, expecting to fly. While I laughed, I wondered whether I could wave goodbye… (Expecting to Fly, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield)

In Which a Mommy Blogger Discusses Poop…

No, I’m not going to tell you about Baby Diva’s bowl movements. She’s a lady, and a diva, to boot, so she doesn’t…and even if she did, it most definitely would not stink. While I’m at it, if her future first boyfriend is reading this…you are absolutely not good enough for her.

What I’m interested in talking about, or around, more precisely, is our dear friend the euphemism.

As the fun, fearless, fabulous femmes they are, some of my favorite mommy bloggers are dedicated to using the proper words for assorted parts, even when confronted with some questionable art history.

And, I’m all for that. My mother felt the same way. As a reward for her honesty, my mother had the pleasure of having her daughter scream at the top of her toddler lungs, in Bloomingdale’s, “Mom I have an itch in my…”

Well, I will omit the word not because it makes me uncomfortable, but because I really don’t want that sort of Internet traffic.

However, I do take issue with “sexpert” Logan Levkoff’s assertion that “slang denies girls and women the opportunity to feel good about their bodies and their sexuality — teaching them that their parts aren’t good enough and are dirty. The effect on young women is drastic. Girls grow up detached from their bodies.”

And not just because she allows herself to be referred to as a “sexpert.”

Perhaps we are better off avoiding silly or degrading terms, but is any polite euphemism necessarily doing permanent damage to a child’s self-esteem?

Some medical words are simply inadequate or vague (really I had used the wrong terminology in the department store), overly clinical, and difficult for a two year old to pronounce.

Is it just female organs that require exact vocabulary, or, if I were a truly enlightened mother, would I ask my two year old if she needs to defecate? If I do not request that she sit on her gluteus maximus at story time, am I dooming her to a lifetime of “detachment” and poor body image?


Honesty is certainly the way to go, but is it necessary to provide all the details at the earliest stage of life?

My daughter and I were walking down the driveway when we found a bird’s nest that had fallen to the ground.

She said, “bird.” Yes, sweetie, that’s a bird’s nest.

“Twee.” Yes, the birds live in the tree…their house must have fallen out of the tree.

Sad face. Sudden clutching of my legs. “Cuddle.”

Well, honey, the birds were probably done with their house.

Maybe some things can wait until she’s a little older.