Category Archives: mom guilt

The Juggernaut vs. Joy

So, I have some weird hang-ups about Disney, “princess culture,” the sexualization of girls and the general over-gendering that American childhood culture does to to kids, even really young kids. And for 3.5 years, that was a pretty easy path to walk — Daddy-o and I have tight control over the media Boopsie is exposed to, and we haven’t introduced Barbies or Disney Princesses or any TV with commercials.

However, since we decided to take Boopsie to her first movie, and it was Frozen, which has been crazily successful for picture of a package of Frozen undiesDisney, this has been challenged. Case in point: Yesterday I took Boopsie to our nearby Target. We needed a few first aid supplies and she wanted to pick out some Band-Aids, so she picked out the Disney Princess variety. This was a first and it was a little unsettling, but I just let it ride.

Later, we were hitting up the baby/toddler section and she spotted character undies featuring the characters from Frozen. And I let myself be talked into buying them despite serious misgivings. First of all, I dislike how aggressively every movie tie-in is marketed to kids. Secondly, she didn’t even really need undies. Finally, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a damn slippery slope. Yes, Frozen has a lot of good messages about sisterhood and being brave and strong, but it’s still a Disney movie and there’s still some weird sexuality stuff happening with Elsa. But I folded, and quickly, and you know what? My kid is overjoyed about those undies. She told the cashier. She told friends we saw for dinner. She changed them this morning and came bursting out of her room to show Daddy-o and I the “Olaf” pair she had put on. She. Loves. Those. Undies.

The Disney juggernaut, and their product tie-ins, have brought her JOY. I’m still mixed about the whole Frozen craze, and Disney and I definitely am not a fan of the other “princesses.” But with this experience, I’m going to try and walk this line, and to help her enjoy some aspects of what this part of our culture has to offer.

Once again, it’s likely I’m putting way too much thought into this. But my goodness, she is adorable when she’s talking about those undies…

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Filed under adventures, firsts, lessons, mom guilt

Not a Normal Parent

Every once in a while, I’ll be cruising along when I’m suddenly struck by a realization: I am not a “normal” parent. Now before anyone goes all psycho-babble on me, I realize that there are huge ranges of “normal” and I’m not worried about being “normal”… I basically just have some funny hang-ups.

Case in point: After lots of hemming and hawing (mostly on my part) Daddy-o and I decided to take Boopsie to see her first movie in the theater. Despite my many, many misgivings about the Disney marketing juggernaut and Disney princesses, we decided to climb on the bandwagon and go see Frozen at the cool second-run theater near our house.

As the movie started, a Disney logo appeared on the screen:

Walt-Disney-Screencaps-The-Walt-Disney-Logo-walt-disney-characters-31865565-2560-1440

Boopsie saw it and asked, “What is that?”

Now, any normal parent would say “A castle,” or perhaps even, “Cinderella’s castle.”

Not me. My response? “That’s a logo, honey. A company called Disney made this movie and their logo is a castle.”

Branding education for a three-year-old? Really? Oh my. File that one under “quirky mom.”

 

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Filed under adventures, firsts, Fun, mom guilt

Power of the Pen

This weekend Daddy-o had to work all weekend. And I mean all weekend. And there was a nasty snowstorm and the roads were in bad shape. (All contributing to the long winter of my discontent.) As a result, Boopsie and I had three days of intense, home-bound togetherness. Yesterday, I seized on a moment when she was reading aloud to her stuffed animals in her room to write for a few minutes.

After seven minutes (yes, I counted) she found me on the living room couch. She quickly joined me, in a purple hooded fleece jacket, pink ladybug-print pants and pink and white striped socks, setting up across from me to do her own “work.” I was taken aback by her working by me and loved watching her “write.”

For the first time in a long time, in those moments across from her on the couch, I felt like a successful mom. Like I was showing her a path worth taking. For the first time in weeks, weeks that have been filled with battles and tears and struggle, I was totally at peace with my parenting.

I took a moment to breathe it in… and then I snapped a few good photos:

Preschool girl with crayons and paper

“Working” on the couch

Scribbles on paper

Boopsie’s “writing”

Here’s to the power of the pen. (And the crayons.)

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Pacifier Fairy, Part 2

Wow. I was supposed to write this post more than two months ago. In fact, I even drafted it. It was going to be about how we sent a couple of “prep notes” from the paci fairy, and how Boopsie helped pack up all the pacifiers into a plastic bag, and how she helped me set them in the yard. And how she cried some at that bedtime, but slept all night and went on to get over it really quickly.

But then something happened. On the day after I posted Pacifier Fairy Part One, all hell broke loose with our kid. What do I mean by all hell breaking loose? Well, let’s see:

  • She went on a sleep strike… bedtime became a multi-hour battle, naps were treacherous
  • She started having epic, violent tantrums including throwing things, hitting and kicking
  • Her personality changed into one I didn’t really recognize. Boopsie became much more anxious, whiny and angry.

I’m not sure how to convey the impact this had on our family, in part because we are still trying to find our way out. Our attempts to find our way out have included:

  • Scouring the interwebs
  • Hiring a parent coach
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Putting a lock on the outside of her door
  • Multiple trips to the pediatrician
  • Reading books… lots of books (more on those to come)

We’re still trying to figure out if we’re somewhere on the continuum of “normal” or if there’s something else going on with Boopsie that we need to address. But that’s what’s been happening in the silence — stress, fear, anger, exhaustion and worry. So much worry. Thankfully, there’s been joy, too, and fun. And I think (and hope and pray) that we’re getting back somewhere more familiar.

All that to say… hello, strangers. More soon.

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The Things I Will Say Yes To

In our little corner of the world, Daddy-o is the “fun” parent. He’s usually the chaser and the thrower, and I’m usually the one saying things like, “Don’t shake her upside down! She just ate!” or “Please calm down, it’s time for bed.” It’s not all bad. For instance, I’m often the “comfort” parent, and the one Boopsie wants to snuggle with in the morning (which is awesome unless I want to sleep in a little. Eh-hem.)

The downside of being the “bad cop”/stern parent is that I feel like I say “no” a lot. A lot. It’s not that Daddy-o doesn’t or won’t say no, it’s just that I’m usually a little more on top of what the situation is and where it’s headed. You want Froot Loops at the grocery store? No. You want to go outside in your pajamas when it’s 20 degrees? No. You want to throw the ball “10 more” and “10 more” and “10 more times” before bed? No. You want to wear just your undies at the dinner table? Okay, maybe.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed a few things I seem to always say yes to… I guess these are my parenting weaknesses?

Books. Dear lord, please don’t let me go into a bookstore with Boopsie. It will be at least $38. At least. Thank goodness she’s also a superfan of the library, because we would like to help pay for her to go to college some day.

Art projects. “Mama, can we do a craft?” I usually say yes, even if I’m trying to do something like make dinner. (Because nothing says “recipe for success” like simultaneously cooking and crafting with a three-year old. I realized this was one of my key weaknesses a couple of weeks ago when Boopsie was painting and requested that to paint her feet. Yes, her feet. And yes, I said yes.

painting her feet

Sure, why not?

I mean, what can go wrong, right?

painted preschooler feet

Who can say no to those feet?

Truthfully, it turned out okay. And I was happy I said “yes” when I wanted to say “no.”

My third “yes” has to do with food and the grocery store. No matter what the fruit or vegetable Boopsie wants, I will say yes. Jicama? Sure. Five different kinds of apples? Okay, great! I figure it must help balance the multiple “no’s” she hears in all the other areas.

What about you? What do you say “yes” to?

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Today/A Lesson

Today was not a great day at work.

Today, work sucked. I made an error (a dumb, frantic error). No one died or got hurt (and no one will), no money was lost and no milestones will be missed because of it. But because of the nature of my job, this error was very public. And it meant I received a follow-up phone call from an executive who was frustrated and wanting to “problem solve.” (He was very fair and solution-oriented, but it still wasn’t fun.)

By the time the end of the day rolled around (after my 5 p.m. meeting didn’t show, and the video I needed to upload failed), I wanted to crawl under a blanket and hide for a while. But Daddy-o had evening plans and we’ve got a busy week so I picked up Boopsie and took her to the grocery store. (Because I guess I wanted to flog myself a little.)

When I picked Boopsie up, I immediately realized I was going to be in for a long evening with her. She was wild and defiant. She’s spending most of the next two weeks in back-up care through my company because her day care closed for three weeks (starting last week) without warning. She was exhausted when I got to her (at nearly 6:00 p.m.) and was a scoundrel in the grocery store. By the time we drove home she was stripping off her shoes and socks in the car and whipping them at me from the back seat.

Every part of the evening was a battle. Going potty? Torture. Washing her hands? Despair? Dinner? Well that started with a meltdown and a demand for me to hold her and feed her. I was standing there, calculating my options when it hit me… I needed to drop all the crap and baggage from my day and face her with as much compassion as I could muster. She’s two. She’s exhausted. Her schedule (and therefore a big part of her world) has been completely upended. She went from a home day care to a preschool setting, with an established class of kids she doesn’t know. While she’s doing great (lots of positive reports from the teachers) she is fried. Toast. And frankly, I get it.

So I dropped my expectations for one night. I held her in my lap and spoon fed her sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese. I stopped doing the dishes to help her draw a turtle. I brought my focus much more to her needs. And you know what? It worked. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I got her fed, bathed and in bed with minimal additional melt downs.

For me, this was just a good reminder that no matter where I’m at, my job is to try and meet Boopsie where she’s at. This was not the night to force issues. Hopefully tomorrow we’re both a little more rested and upbeat and she will go back to feeding herself. And going potty without a hissy fit. And she’ll make it home without throwing things at me in the car.

Until then: Amen, she’s in bed. And I’m going to have a glass of wine.

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Filed under day care, drudgery, feeding, mom guilt

Things That Happened When I Got Pregnant

In sort-of chronological order, numbered for my own comfort:

1) I cried. (I was not sad, just a little surprised and overwhelmed. Within one hour of taking the pregnancy test I literally had to walk out of my house and get on a plane for a business trip to effing Las Vegas.)

2) I lost all my mommy-grody-mojo. Remember when I couldn’t handle anything even remotely disgusting? And then I had Boopsie and could handle lots of it? Yeah, that disappeared again. One night she had the stomach flu I couldn’t get within 10 feet of her without retching. It was 3 a.m. and Daddy-o had to do comforting and clean-up while I ran from room to room in our house gagging into the kitchen sink, the upstairs toilet, the downstairs toilet, a trash can, etc. I didn’t even have the flu yet (that came later).

3) On a related note, I started barfing (or at least retching) at the drop of a hat. Generally, I felt better this time around (as compared to Boopsie) but I was barfing a lot more. Go figure. Taking out the diaper pail? Puke. Catching a whiff of a bag of dry cat food? Gag-o-rama. Drink caffeine? Yark-tastic.

4) My dreams got… wow. Intense would be one word. Almost every night I was treated to a feature length movie with plots and subplots. There was the one where Boopsie was 14 and got kidnapped by sweet potato farmers. It was the same way when I was pregnant with Boopsie. Both times, my dreams were my first “tell”… vivid and memorable are both understatements.

5) I was convinced it was a boy and started name-storming. I find boy names much harder than girl names and was stressed about that. I was also worried about getting Boopsie out of the crib, potty trained and off the pacifier in short order.

6) I was sick as a dog, virus-wise. The stomach flu took 4+ days to get over. The doctor said, “You’re pregnant. It takes longer to recover.” Then I got a respiratory flu-like virus. I missed a week of work. I could only take Tylenol and I coughed so much I bruised my ribs, which was intensely painful.

7) I had a miscarriage. (Sorry for the Downton Abbey-like plot twist.) I started spotting and I went to the midwife and he couldn’t find a heartbeat and ultrasounds confirmed the shitty news. After all that barfing and all those dreams and slogging through all that illness and just before the holy grail of the second trimester it was done. Becoming undone. The fetus stopped developing at about 6.5 weeks and I miscarried at home just before 12. And it sucked. It was much more physically draining than I expected, on top of all the other physically draining illnesses that made up January.

In the days surrounding the actual miscarriage I was a hormonal mess. I was insanely nauseated and drained to the point where getting through each day was a physical battle. (Sleep on the floor of an unoccupied office? Why, yes I think I will.) My theory is that my body was finally catching on that things were not going well, and I know (based on multiple blood tests) that my HCG counts were in a total free fall. I had more insane dreams, but they were more ominous than usual. Right after the miscarriage I had one in which I was caring for a bunch of little babies and I was doing a crap job of it. CRAP. There was a little baby boy, and I didn’t know his name. I should have known his name. He was hidden in a crib in a closet, as happy as could be, but when people asked me who he was, I didn’t know. In the dream I was panicked.

I went about my life, letting people know on an as-needed basis and I was shocked at how many women had gone through at least one miscarriage. It’s so common, and yet so few people talk about it. For me, there’s something about it that makes me feel a ever-so-slightly ashamed. Rationally, I know that I couldn’t have done anything differently. And I’m not walking around feeling broken, or scarred, or in emotional pain. I’m living my life as I normally would. But deep in my gut, there’s one tiny, ugly voice that sometimes whispers, “You failed.” And so I tell it to shut the eff up.

This was way back in January. I don’t have any lingering health impacts (and my ribs finally “healed” about six weeks ago). I’m fortunately not overwhelmed by sadness and I thanked my lucky stars every day that I had Boopsie to distract me and Daddy-o to hug me. We haven’t decided what this means for our future family plans, but I do know I need some more time to get my physical act back together and my mental game “on” if we decide to try again. Because if there is another pregnancy, it’s going to be a long 14 weeks of trying to stay calm (while barfing).

Why am I sharing this? Like I said, no one talks about this. I don’t think women should feel like they have to talk about it, but I think they should feel like they can. No shame. No drama. Just be. Godspeed to all you pregnant ladies, and to all the ladies who are mourning/have mourned little ones. Hugs to you.

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