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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Dear Mom of One

Dear Mom of One,

Have another child.  You should.  Cause kids are awesome!

While I can’t really tell you what to do with your womb, I do want to encourage you that it gets easier. This second kid thing is sooo completely different from the first kid thing.

With the first kid, every single thing was new.  Brand spankin’ new.  Never faced before.

The amount of responsibility that came on you all of a sudden was overwhelming.  If your child needed something, it was up to you (and your spouse) to provide it.  For now and for many, many years to come.

The amount of things you had to acquire in some way was all on you.  The pressure (even if it was just pressure you put on yourself) to get the right items seemed so high.  The stroller that fits your lifestyle best. The crib that goes best in your rooms.  Would the breast bump work for you?  What kinds of bottles and diapers are best for your baby?  Debating on how many onesies and sleepers will you need?  How do you install a carseat again!?  Are you a baby swing family?  How about bouncy seats?

Everything your child went through was new to you.  You had never had sole responsibility for a newborn - including “little” things like caring for umbilical cord stumps, clipping fingernails, clearing away boogers, giving baths.  Caring for a baby was new too – how to comfort him to sleep, knowing when baby is tired or just tired of being on his tummy, helping baby learn how to sit, how to roll over, how to crawl and eventually how to walk.  Figuring out if he really is sick or just teething.  Figuring out if you like have a routine or if you’re just a “whatever whenever” kind of parent.  Trying to decide the best way (and when) to start baby on solids and cow’s milk.  Trying to decide when to move him from a crib to a “bigger boy” bed.

These are all decisions that I’ve faced and my oldest will be 2 tomorrow.  (I can’t imagine all the things I’ll face in the next 20 years.)  But I’m hear to tell you: the second time is much easier.  Sure, every child is different and you’ll likely face different scenarios.  But guess what?  You don’t have to start from scratch!  You’ve already made lots of decisions the first time around.  You’ll probably do the same thing next time!  You don’t have to, of course.  Because you’ve learned some things.  And your family is different now.

But, dear mom of 1, please don’t think that having your second child will be just as hard and overwhelming as the first.  At least, it hasn’t been for me.  You’ve already set a great foundation.  So have another one!

Love,

Mother of Two

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I got a toddler.  Smack dab in the middle of the “Terrible Twos”.  I got a rambunctious one.  Tenacious is what someone called him.  He’s just not always tenacious about obeying me.  But I digress…

I’ve been reading lots of parenting/mothering/childrearing books and blogs lately as I’m struggling with how to do this phase of parenting.  Some good stuff.  Some not so good stuff.

But there’s been 2 comments that have really struck me hard.  They are:

Someday, you’ll long for these days.

There are lots of women out there that would love to have a little toddler running around, creating messes.  Not because they don’t have children of their own, but because they do.  But their children are older, well past this age.  And they fondly remember back to the coolness that little ones are.  Where they’re discovering new things.  Where they all of a sudden seem to know their numbers out of the blue.  Where there are hugs and “I wuv yous”.  Where mom and dad are just the coolest people around (except for maybe Grammy when she has fruit snacks.)

Now maybe those moms aren’t remembering the potty accidents and the temper tantrums and the tears and the pain that is carseats.  But that’s okay – it’s enough of a reminder to me to enjoy the good moments (of which there are lots) because someday I’ll want these days back again.

And…

These days are simple.

Well, they can be anyway.  But this thought was shared by a writer (Owlhaven here) who also has older children and has come to realize that parenting teens is the hardest phase of parenting.  She writes:

It was so easy when they were tiny. So easy to just scoop a sleeping child up after a long day and bring them into the rocking chair for a late-night snuggle.  Their soft selves would cradle into me not even wondering, not even skipping a breath.  They’d just settle in, where I could breathe into their hair and rock and rock, soothing both our souls, with me luxuriating in the deep down certainty that even thru the heavy weight of sleep they could feel my love.  That their dreams were sweet because they were in my arms.

I could really relate to that!  If you look at it that way, this is an easier phase.  There’s nothing that a nap and some animal crackers can’t fix.  There isn’t any drama with friends who suddenly don’t want to play.  No being left off the soccer team.  No fears about bullies or lockers not opening.  No fears about driving or college.  No fears about finding a spouse.

With my kids, I control where they go.  I can usually hug and kiss the hurts away.  A good night’s sleep clears away all of the problems – it’s the best “reset” button ever.

So, even though it can only take 2.6 seconds for my kid’s attitude to change, these are great and simple days!

Finn

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(You can see other Everyday Life posts here.  If you wanna.)

Day #35: Talk Ain’t Cheap.  It’s cute.

The closer Stephen gets to bedtime, the more he “talks”.  I often lay him on our bed while I read and he flirts with the ceiling fan.  It’s so nice to be able to do that in this age where he can’t yet roll enough to roll off the bed.  He’s already been talking for at least 20 minutes.

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The Real Mommy War

Last post about The Mommy War. (I think anyway.  It’s the last one for now).

There is a Mommy War that I’m 100% positive exists.  At least for me.  It’s the Mommy War Within Me.  There are 2 ways this shows up, for me:

The Mommy That I Thought I’d Be

There’s an image in my head of the mommy that I thought I’d be.  I thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom.  I thought I’d breastfeed (or at least pump).  I thought I’d have more formal activities planned.  I thought I’d have their bedrooms better decorated.  I thought I’d rarely lose my patience (and if I did, I’d lose it in such a way that they’d never notice).

I thought I’d never put my children’s needs before my husband’s needs.  I thought I’d never put my children’s wants before my husband’s wants.  I thought I’d read a larger variety of books to them.  I thought we’d go out more often.

I thought.  I thought.  I thought.  I thought.

The Mommy That I Think I Should Be

Then there’s the mommy that I think I should be.  Some of it is the same as things above, but some things are different.  I should fix more nutritious meals.  I should be super excited at the thought of having 10 kids.  I should be more patient.  I should play with them more.  I should be a stay-at-home mom.  I should take more pictures (and better ones!)

I should. I should.  I should.  I should.

The fact is…

The fact is that I’m not the mom that I  thought I’d be.  Some of that’s good.  (My son actually eats more healthier food than I feared I’d resort to!).  Some of that’s not so good.  (See: patience.)

The fact is that I’m not the mom that I think I should be.   But I’m also learning that I’m letting others tell me what I should do. Instead of telling myself what I should do.  Instead of my husband and I  deciding what I should do.  Instead of reading the Bible to learn what I should do.  I listen to other voices.  I look at other people’s lives and decide that I should do that. When maybe I shouldn’t.  Maybe I should.  But also maybe I shouldn’t.

In the meantime, I’ll remember this quote: “Good moms let their kids lick the batter.  Great moms turn off the beaters first.”  Guess I’m a great mom, after all.

brownies

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Why isn’t there a Daddy Wars?

I mean, if moms really do go around and knock each other down on topics like:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Ways to give birth
  • Staying-at-home vs. working-outside-the-house
  • Number of kids to have

Then why aren’t dads knocking each other down on things like:

  • Having a stay-at-home mom as a wife vs. a working mom
  • Manners of their kids
  • Number of kids to have
  • The vacations they take the families on
  • The size of the house they live in

I think men do knock each other down on some of these things.  But we don’t call it a Daddy War.  What is it about women as moms that lends itself to calling it a War (indeed, in making it a thing at all)?

I have some theories on this:

I don’t think any 1 of these things is the only answer.  I don’t even think my list is complete.  I just think it’s a little bit of proof that this really is media-fed more than not.

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So, let’s say that there is a Mommy War.  Where does it come from?

I think it comes from pride.  We humans want to be good at things.  I remember a quote once: “All people everywhere have one thing in common: we all think we’re above-average drivers.”  Tee Hee!

And it’s kind of true.  No one wants to think that they’re really bad at something.  At least, not bad at things that matter.  The more something matters, the more I want to be good at it.  Example: I’m not very good at cleaning the woodwork around our house.  I just never think of it and when I do, I don’t usually care.  Since I don’t care about it, I don’t care about not being good at it.

But mothering?  That I do care about.  Very much so.  I want to be a good mother.  And I want others to think I’m a good mother.  Just about everyone does – no matter their income, faith background, nationality, or age.

And sometimes, our pride makes us look at others to compare ourselves to them.  In hopes that we measure up.  And it’s easier for us to think that we measure up if we bring them down.  “Well, at least I don’t formula feed.”  or “At least I had my kids potty trained before the age of 1.”  or “I’m a good mom because my kids sit quietly in church.” There’s thousands of ways that we can compare ourselves to one another.

Pride: It isn’t right, but I get it.

(Note: none of the above things are true – I do formula feed.  My kids aren’t potty trained.  And neither of them sits well in church unless you count sleeping.  We send the oldest to Sunday School instead of Big People Church.)

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Maybe there isn’t really a Mommy War as much as people have a tendency to want to be around people that are like them.  As a general rule, us humans aren’t real great at diversity.

And moms aren’t any exception.  We tend to hang out with people that have the same religious beliefs as we do (I mean, just look at all the denominations us Christians have!).  We generally have friends who have the same financial background that we do.  As women, I think if we stay-at-home, we’re more comfortable with other stay-at-home moms.  If we homeschool, we like to find other homeschool moms.  If we don’t vaccinate, then we like to talk to moms that don’t vaccinate too.

Some of that’s just practical.  I mean, it’s much easier to become friends with the gal who lives next door when you’re both stay-at-home moms with kids the same age. You’re physically close to each other. Your kids might interact together.  You can arrange a carpool for soccer practices.  You can relate to financial difficulties because your household incomes are likely the same.  It doesn’t take tons of preparation to just stop over for a cup of coffee.

That’s much easier than becoming friends with a gal who lives 5 miles away, whose oldest child is 5 when your youngest is 10.  Her family’s income is likely much higher or lower than yours, so her financial difficulties are different.  Her kids barely know what a soccer ball is, much less play on the same team as yours.  She works full-time, so even if you were to meet her somehow and want to get to know her, your schedules are almost incompatible.  And if you did get together, she’d want to talk potty-training, not how to prepare kids for college.

Some of that’s just comfortable.  If someone has made the same (or at least really similar) choices as you have, then you have something to talk about.  And you have an almost immediate comfort level with them.  People don’t usually seek out other people that make them uncomfortable or where there isn’t much to talk about.

However…we blow some things out of proportion.  We become “one-issue voters” when it comes to friends.  Some women might think: “Oh, she doesn’t work and I do, so we won’t be friends.”  or “She homeschools and I don’t, so it’s not a good fit.”  or “I can’t be good friends with someone who vaccinates their kids.”  In some cases, those things are super important to someone and they just seem so big of a thing to not be able to share them with a friend.  And sometimes, the thing is big. Sometimes, it’s not.

 

 

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My Sensitivity

Maybe there isn’t really a Mommy War as much as I am sensitive about stuff.  Maybe I had a dream for how I’d raise my kid – breastfeeding, staying-at-home, co-sleeping, whatever it is. And maybe one of those things didn’t work.  And that hurts.  There’s a little mini-grieving process that occurs when something doesn’t happen the way you want it to.  And instead of thinking that I’m just being sensitive about an issue (which might be totally okay to be sensitive about), maybe it’s easier if I call it a War.  Then the responsibility is on the other person and not on me.  That (falsely) eases the pain.

Same thing happened when I was single. My “getting engaged” friends were naturally excited about their life, while sometimes it just reminded me of my singleness.   For years this happened.  Neither of us were wrong, unless my “getting engaged” friends were intentional jerks about it like “I’m getting married and you aren’t, neener neener neener!”  Which they never were.  I was happy for them, but that reminded me of my own sadness (at times).

So, sometimes, I’m sensitive on topics.  It isn’t part of a War.  It isn’t someone being a jerk. It isn’t someone being immature.  It’s just that the pain is a little raw and it hurts a little.  It’s part of life.

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Maybe The Mommy Wars isn’t really a Mommy War.  Maybe it’s just immaturity.  And it shows up in issues surrounding motherhood.

Their Immaturity

Maybe there isn’t really a Mommy War as much as other people can be immature.  If someone isn’t trying to be a jerk, but says something in a way that causes a sting, maybe they’re just immature.  Just maybe.  Kind of like when you’re a kid and you point to someone in the grocery store saying “That lady has a big nose!”  They aren’t jerks.  They’re just immature.  They (the kid and the person making you feel bad) just need to learn that there’s a time and place.  Now and here is not that time nor place.  They got some growing up to do.

My Immaturity

Maybe there isn’t really a Mommy War as much as I am immature.  If someone’s excitement for their way of life makes me feel bad, then that’s MY problem and reflects my insecurity, not their rudeness.

Example: I have friends that have a hard time with the fact that I have 2 kids in 18 months while they’re struggling with infertility. Not a hard time as in “Jayme, I think you’re really unwise”, but a hard time as in “I wish that was me too.”  I don’t intentionally taunt them or anything, but there are still pangs on their side. Neither one of us in the wrong – I can be excited for my life and that might naturally cause them angst.

I got other thoughts on why the Mommy War might not really be a war…

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More thoughts on the supposed Mommy War…

So…I have friends that homeschool and can’t imagine it any other way. I have friends that are super passionate about natural births (even home births). I have friends that stay-at-home and would be distraught at the idea of working outside the home. I have friends that are members of Le Leche.

But here’s the deal…they can be super excited about all of this and I can be okay with not doing anything that they do. Their excitement about their choices and way of life is okay and doesn’t invalidate my choices.

Jerks

Maybe there isn’t really a Mommy War as much as there are jerks out there.  If someone says something intending to make me feel bad, well, then they aren’t a friend, are they? They’re jerks.  Regardless of what the topic is – mothering or finances or grocery shopping or taxes or driving cars.

What is it about mothering that we’d say a mean remark is part of a War?  If they made some judgmental comment about my hair or the color of my car, we wouldn’t say it’s part of the Beauty War.  If they made a comment about the size of my house or tax return, we wouldn’t say it’s part of the Budgeting War.  But if it’s about parenting, then they’re participating in the Mommy War.  Why is it a war?

I got other thoughts on why the Mommy War might not really be a war…

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