Tag: Parenting

Parenting Isn’t Always Peachy

parenting

When people think about becoming parents, it seems that they only want to do it for selfish reasons. Reasons like:

  1. They want to continue their legacy
  2. They think they can make a good parent
  3. They love children (this can be argued as either selfish or unselfish)

 
Oftentimes when we fantasize about being a parent we usually think of the fun & simple things like playing with your kid in the backyard, braiding your daughters hair or watching them graduate from college. You may even think about how much they may look like you or have your ways. You may think about how your children will take care of you when you’re older or the grandchildren you may one day have. Sure, you won’t be the perfect parent but who is? Anyone who wants to be a parent knows that mistakes will be made along the way, nonetheless, they probably still think they’ll make a great parent.

People who want to be parents don’t think about the hard things. Things like what to do when your child gets suspended from school, runs off with that boy you can’t stand, is bullied or getting addicted to drugs. But why don’t adults think about those things? These are hard-core issues that can happen to anyone’s child. No one likes to think of the negative stuff, let alone have a plan for it, and I think that’s shameful. There are so many things that can go right when raising kids but in today’s society there are far more things that could go wrong. Where are people’s sensibilities when it comes to these topics? How much thought is put into what to do if something goes wrong?

Something about having the desire to be a mom or dad makes us forget about ALL of the responsibilities that come with being a parent.

If you want to have children, great. All I’m saying is, think about it holistically & that includes the negative, not just a positive.

Benefits of Being a Stepmother (Maybe?)

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Ya’ll have to help me. I’m trying to warm up to the idea of dating men who have kids. While there are MANY reasons not to bother with them (like I’ve written about before; just click on this link), I’m trying to be more “open minded”. I put this in quotes, because I don’t think being open minded means you should have to date someone you don’t want to date.

With that said, instead of focusing so much on why I don’t want to be bothered with someone else’s child(ren), I think I’ve thought of some advantages to having stepchildren.

1) I don’t have to care as much – this may sound harsh but it’s true. Just like with a niece or a nephew you can love them very much but at the end of the day you aren’t the one who is legally responsible for them.

2) Someone to help me take care of their father – one day my husband will get old & sickly. Fortunately, I won’t have to deal with taking care of an “old man” all by myself. His kids (my stepkids) will be around to help me with their dad.

3) They might like me more than their own mother – I had never really thought of this before but it is a possibility that my stepchildren think that I’m “cooler” than their own mother. Because I wouldn’t be the chief disciplinarian, they may actually want to hang out with me or even share things with me that they couldn’t share with their biological parents.

4) It’s like having “temporary kids” – Children can wear you out. That’s why parents need breaks, even from their own kids. More than likely my step kids won’t be living with me & my husband, so I will only be a stepmother part-time. I get the “joy” of being a parent, but not on a regular basis. How great is that?!

5) I can relate to so many other women who have step-parenting issues – since I would be joining a growing group of women who also have step children, I could easily commensurate with them. My opinions would carry more weight if I were in their shoes.

What am I missing? Are there any other benefits of being a stepmother?

Who’s Party Is It?! (Does Having Down Syndrome Mean You Should Automatically Be Included?)

A story has gone viral about a mother who was upset that her son, who has Down Syndrome, wasn’t invited to his classmate’s birthday party. Apparently, everyone else in the child class was invited which caused the boy with Down Syndrome (Sawyer) to feel left out. Sawyer’s mother wrote an open letter to the parents of the birthday boy & decided to post it on social media in an effort to encourage inclusion on behalf of her son. The parents of the birthday boy ended up sending a “special” invitation to Sawyer to appease the mother and many people rallied around Sawyer’s mother for standing up for her son.

Here is the opening paragraph of her letter from her Facebook page:

Hi there,

I know we don’t know each other well but my son Sawyer and your child are in the same class. I understand that your child recently delivered birthday invitations to the entire class except to Sawyer, who was not invited. I also understand that this was not an oversight on your part, that it was an intentional decision to not to include my son….

 

 

My question is this: Since when does everyone have to be invited to a child’s birthday party? Shouldn’t the ‘birthday boy’ be able to invite anyone he wants to his OWN party?

While it would be great if everyone was invited to everything, that’s just not possible. The parents who are paying for their child’s birthday party can legally, ethically & morally invite whomever they choose. Who’s to say that the birthday boy himself even wanted his classmate, Sawyer, to attend his party?!

I understand that no one wants to be left out, but why blast someone over social media just because your son was excluded from a PRIVATE event? Wouldn’t you want your child to go to a party that they were actually invited to, not one where they weren’t wanted in the first place?! Why force your child on anyone else? No one is obligated to include your child in a privately held function, whether they have Down Syndrome or not. Respect the wishes of those who are throwing the party.

I don’t think Sawyer’s mother handled this in the best way. First off, she should not have taken to social media to express her gripes about her son being left out. Secondly, did she even find out why her son was not included? Perhaps the other parents were concerned about needing additional supervision for Sawyer. We don’t even know the age of the classmate who was throwing the birthday party. Down Syndrome children are typically academically delayed which means they could be in a class with people who are 3,4 or even 5 years younger than they are. So while these two children were in the same grade, that doesn’t mean they were the same age. Maybe the birthday boy didn’t want an “older” kid at his birthday party.

Thirdly, at some point children have to learn that they won’t always be included. Regardless of our “condition” in life, not everyone is invited to everything. What better time to learn this life lesson than as a young person?

At the end of the day, it’s okay to stand up for your child but these parents can invite anyone they want into their home and to their child’s birthday party. It’s their home, it’s their money and it’s their right.

What do you think? Should Sawyer have been included with the rest of his classmates or do people have the right to invite whoever they’d like to their own party?

Hating Other People’s Kids Is Not A Crime

It’s my world too. Strollers don’t inherently have the right-of-way.

I was in love with Marion in that way you fall in love with your best friend. She’d pick me up like a pile of laundry and scrub me clean after every bad breakup, and there were many. She was my rock, she was the one friend I wasn’t embarrassed to introduce to my parents, she was my favorite person in the world… until she had her child.

Marion and I promised ourselves we wouldn’t turn into one of those bargaining-with-their-kids parents, one of those pushover parents, one of those newfangled spiritual let-your-kid-be- whoever-the-Goddess intended parents. Yes, we’d have kids, but we’d be better, smarter, and stricter. We wouldn’t be those people who would make other people feel embarrassed for us because we have rotten kids. Then, in different ways, we both failed to keep those promises. She became one of those parents, and I closed my baby factory forever.

After Marion married Phil, they tried desperately to have a child and after two years, they had Daisy. Marion’s pregnancy was unremarkable. Even her daughter’s first year didn’t raise any red flags. It wasn’t until Daisy’s second year that my friend Marion started showing signs of what I consider dysfunctional parenting.

Our friendship probably held steady for as long as it did because Marion and Phil moved to Missouri shortly after Daisy turned two. There wasn’t enough proximity to destroy our friendship. When I finally went to visit them, their daughter was already 4. I had missed the in-between years: the transition from Marion, my friend, to Marion, Daisy’s mom.

On my first day, I saw Daisy naked and playing with herself while watching TV. Daisy is “exploring herself,” Marion called it. I thought: OK, they don’t want to shame her. I get it. Masturbation is natural. It’s fine, I think.

My second day, I walked in to see Marion breast-feeding Daisy. Marion and Phil are very tall and Daisy had inherited their height. Seeing a child at her length sucking on Marion’s teat was like watching a Great Dane climbing a sapling. I thought: OK, breastfeeding is cool. Look away. Look away. Dear God, why can’t I look away?

The fifth day, Daisy allowed us to leave the house without throwing a fit. We went to a sushi restaurant. Twenty minutes into dinner, Daisy stripped off her clothes and ran through the restaurant, peeing, with Phil running after her pleading, “Daisy. Sweetheart. We don’t do that. We don’t do that,” in a voice that made Daisy “do that” even more. We were asked to leave by a woman who leered at me like it was my fault.

The rest of my 10-day visit didn’t go much better. When Marion finally dropped me off at the airport, I left the family of three and any desire to have kids in my rearview. I haven’t seen Daisy (now 8), Marion, or Phil since, except on Facebook.

I felt like such a horrible person for despising the kid until I stumbled upon Alfie Kohn’s Washington Post article in which he blames milquetoast-y modern-day parents for “raising a generation of undisciplined narcissists who expect everything to go their way.”

My friend and her husband aren’t bad people. They are among a demographic who find themselves victims of a cycle. Like the 5 Stages of Grief, I call this ‘The 5 Stages of Progressive Parenting’:

Denial. Knowing other people are staring at you and your screaming child, but pretending they’re not.

Anger. You’re outraged that other people want to come up to you and say “You have a horrible sushi-ruining kid.” Instead, they shake their heads or leave. Like a deadly fart, a bad child can clear a room.

Bargaining. The act of offering something for nothing. “If you are good, I’ll give you $5!” Or the time Marion said, “If you stop kicking Aleks, Mommy will make you cookies!” This tactic only works temporarily, if at all. With Daisy, “temporary” meant twenty minutes, or until she had finished her cookie. It can work permanently for losing friends, though.

Depression. Marion would sometimes look down-to-the-bone exhausted, her face damp from residual tears. She would smile when she caught me looking but we both knew she wanted to die some days.

Acceptance. Realizing that this is your life. Even after they go off to college, get married, have their own kids. This is your progeny, your legacy, and it’s forever. You are responsible for their beginnings until your ending, and you’re ok with that because you have to be. Forever.

Yes, Marion’s Daisy was the main reason I decided not to have kids, but she was not the only reason. My friends are at an age where they’re all having and raising children now — all spoiled monsters, the lot of them. Frankly, I know maybe two out of ten parents who have continued to be normal people who have successfully raised sweet, well-mannered kids, though I don’t want to hang out with them either.

When I tell people I would prefer not to be around kids or that I never want to have kids, they laugh uncomfortably. How can anyone hate kids? If those people are parents, they say I’m a bad person, or that I don’t know what I’m talking about, or I just don’t understand how nuanced the world of parenting is. What I know is this: It’s my world too. Strollers don’t inherently have the right-of-way. 

When a friend has a child, it’s a loss for the childless friend. Maybe the new parent feels the same. I’ve never asked. I have to admit, sometimes I wish a woman like Marion had been my mom. My mother had no problem disciplining me, a lot. Maybe I would’ve been a happier adult if I had been allowed to eat sushi naked in a restaurant while peeing on myself. Who knows?

Of course kids can’t get enough of me. Like cats, if you ignore them, they’ll want to sit on your lap. I think they can sense I don’t like them so they circle me trying to get me to change my mind. Sometimes, if I don’t think about Daisy or Marion, I almost do.

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*Originally published on Yahoo.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

moms day

Another Mother’s Day is almost here! If your mother is still living, you are very fortunate (I know I am!). Many people who have lost their mothers always tell me “You’ll miss her when she’s gone, so show her now how much you love her.” Even if you had a dysfunctional relationship with your mother or if she wasn’t around at all, remember you wouldn’t be here without her. No matter how bad of a mother you may have had, your life was made possible because of her (and your father). And while most mother-daughter relationships can be rocky at times, all of us – son or daughter – should always choose to honor our mothers on Mother’s Day. Here are some gift ideas for this Mother’s Day:

Flowers – this is the #1 Mother’s Day gift (probably of all time). You can’t go wrong with a beautiful bouquet!

Jewelry – what woman doesn’t love jewelry?!

Fancy soaps & lotions – women always love to smell good!

Shoes – women collect shoes like men collect ties. We can never have too many shoes!

Cooking utensils / kitchenware – since most mothers spend more time in the kitchen than fathers do, cooking appliances are always needed.

Subscriptions – what does your mom like to do? Read magazines? Drink wine? Or is she a collector of sorts? Either way, getting a subscription will stretch out her Mother’s Day gifts for another 11 months.

A day off – instead of letting your mom cook, clean, drive or do anything else, give her the day off. Let her rest & you can pick up the slack.

A tablet – from the Nook to the iPad, new tablets are always coming out in the market. Now is the perfect time to upgrade your mom’s tablet.

Nice meal out – cooking for your mom is nice, but taking her out is even nicer. Take her to that special restaurant or high-end eatery so that she can enjoy an elegant dinner on your dime!

Quality time – as children get older, move out the house and start their own lives, moms tend to miss out on quality time. Take an hour or two (or the whole day if you can) to spend with mother doing whatever it is she wants.

Clothes – just like shoes, women can never have too many clothes! Shop till you drop for your mom!

Books – reading is never a bad thing. Whether it’s a self-help book, a romance novel or a great mystery, buying your mom a book would be a nice gift.

Something personalized – a personalized gift can be very meaningful. Whether it’s homemade, monogrammed or something sentimental, I’m sure your mom will love a personalized present from you!

Picture frame – what better to get than a picture of your mother’s children (that’s you!) in a beautiful picture frame?! Something that she can put on a mantle or in her office at work that she can show off will make your mom proud.

Makeup – Don’t you want your mom to look good?! I don’t know if men are fully aware, but makeup is NOT cheap! Whether your mom shops at her local department store, Sephora or orders from a specialty boutique online, buying making for your mom will save her a lot of dough.

Let me know in the comments section what you ended up getting for your mother this year –

Is Having A Baby Really Worth It?

I found this article & thought it would be great to share with those who are thinking about having children. Enjoy! –

 

“Is having a baby really worth it?” She asked me the question because she was on the fence about whether she should have a baby. I remember that time in my life. I think I’m still at that time in my life. Should I have kids? But she was asking me seriously. I was her closest friend with real baby insight. What was the deal? Do the heart-melting moments outweigh the bad stuff and make it totally worth it?

Well… Yesno.

As usual, I am a focus group of one. There seem to be a lot of people out there who think having (and rearing) babies is The Most Fun Ever. They are all like, “Oh my God! And then I get to quit my job and FINALLY buy that house in the ‘burbs and make crafts All. Day. Long. and sing songs and, OMG, I cannot wait!” And I think those people are incredible. (Don’t get me wrong, I love crafts as much as the next gal. I just like to do adult crafts. Alone.) Those people have a different genetic makeup than I do. I think my kid is awesome. All two hours a day I spend with him after living the working mom dream. And then I like to put him to bed and think about how I can’t go anywhere because it’s basically illegal to leave the house. JUST IN CASE. (There’s a lot of “just in case” in parenting. I want to tell people to go ahead and stop talking to me, just in case I get violent.)

But when posed the question, “It is totally worth it?”, I really can’t answer simply. On the one hand, I have a tiny person: I own a 28-inch human being. He has tiny human pants and little New Balance sneakers and he thinks I am awesome. Like, really awesome. He sees me and he’s all, “Oh thank God it is you! I have been waiting on you since forever and I have no concept of time so that’s basically my whole life!” And he smiles and makes “ahhoooohhh” noises that are pretty funny because he thinks I’m absolutely following what he’s telling me. Mimic him and his mind is blown. We speak the same language!

No, shrunken human, I have no idea what you’re getting at.

But then other times he is a tiny life terrorist. He’s the biggest, most selfish ass in the history of the world. He wants what he wants when he wants it and that’s exactly 30 seconds before it’s humanly possible for me to have it. All the toys in the world are meaningless compared to an outlet or a live wire or anything else that could instantly kill him. He stole everything I knew: my life, my professional life, my social life, my sex life. I now spend evenings putting meat into a blender and then tasting it. Pureed meat! Sh*t ain’t right. He’s turned our cat into a manic-depressive who no longer stares out the window, but rather throws his body against the screen in an attempt to break through and plunge to his death.

And some of those things, like slaving over homemade baby food and losing the love of the family cat, are OK. His cuteness does make those things worth it. But the other stuff? The loss of anything that resembles my former life? That’s where things get complicated. When he wakes up screaming bloody murder just moments after I put him down, right as the wine is about to hit my lips, only to smile and laugh when I go into his room, I frankly think him a deviant little f*ck. A tiny human who was sent to this earth to make me think long and hard about who I am and what I believe.

But that’s not an answer. So I answer like this:

Having a baby is like losing your leg and winning the lottery. Winning the lottery does not make it OK that you’re without your leg, but it does give you enough of a distraction that you don’t completely lose your mind. Yes, your leg is missing, but you’re on a yacht. Would you rather be in a trailer with a leg? Who knows. Guess it depends on whether you felt like going for a jog.

My leg is gone. Blown to smithereens. I have to relearn to walk and dance and run and do everything else I used to know how to do, but I won the lottery, so that’s going to help.

Of course I miss not having a baby. When people say things like, “I don’t even remember what it was like!”, I cannot relate. I remember exactly what it was like. IT WAS AMAZING. I drank in real bars on weeknights. I made last-minute plans. I could get on an airplane without two Xanax and a booster brew and a sincere prayer that the small boy doesn’t freak out at 30,000 feet. When I made a decision, it was with very little other than my own comfort and convenience in mind. Those things come dead last now. If they come at all.

I can’t tell you whether having kids will be worth it for you. And that whole, “We are waiting until we’re ready” thing? Right. You are never ready for this. When the tiny human cometh, all bets are off. And from then on, the question is never again whether or not it’s worth it. The question is how you make it worth it for them.

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*Originally posted on Huffington Post.