2014-THANKSgiving

Not My Mother’s Daughter

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My Mother

I sit on the largest piece of ‘rock’ in the tiny playground, just a few steps away from the house I just exited. The ‘rock’ is modeled to be like a chair of sorts, an anomaly in a children’s area, a toddler’s danger zone. Yet there it is.

I idly trace the carved letters in the rock – declarations of young love, “Paul loves Lily” and proof of someone having spent more than a little time here, “Rob was here, February 1988.”

I was 12, and I had been waiting for my mother to pick me up for nearly two hours. I had extra classes for Math at a teacher’s house, alongside 10 other students, and everyone had left. Each and every single on of them had someone waiting for them in a car, who whisked them off home.

I was alone. I waited in the teacher’s house, for what I deemed to be a polite amount of time (45 minutes), was offered the telephone, to call my mother, but I declined. I knew she wasn’t at home. In the days before cell phones, text messaging and Facebook, it was a matter of waiting it out. No frantic SMS. No Facebook updates on where I wonder my mother was at the time. No emergency calling my dad.

I waited.

Two hours after my class had ended, I saw the black Volvo in the distance. I was beyond angry or upset. I was just…. resigned, if you will.

“Sorry, I lost track of time.”

“Yup. It’s okay.” (Where WERE you?!?)

“Why didn’t you wait inside?”

“I just wanted some air. It was boring in there anyway.” (The teacher had things to do. You know, like, live her life in her own home?)

“Next time, just wait inside. It’s not safe out.”

“Okay.” (Next time, turn up on time.)

The two hour wait was rare, but waiting was not unusual. Sometimes, I think my mother forgets about me. It would be easy to forget. The third of four children. The typical middle child – always craving attention and approval, and getting neither. Unless something happened.

Was I waiting for something to happen to me, outside that teacher’s house? Was I tempting fate? Was I trying to get my mother’s attention?

I always felt a little like an outsider. I was always a little rebellious, even way back in kindergarten. I was quick to mouth off, shoot back retorts to my parents and adults alike. I spoke my mind, I liked to think I was standing up for “the little people”, little people being me.

My mother loved me. She loves me still, I’m sure. But never in the way I craved back then. It was not a huggy, I-love-you, how-was-your-day, let’s-talk-about-our-feelings kind of childhood. It just wasn’t our way.

Since the day my children were born, I have hugged them daily. I say I love you all the time, maybe too much. I dream of the days when they’re older, and they will confide in me. I turn up for preschool pickup 20 minutes early, always. I never, ever want my children to think that they have to get my attention in drastic ways. I want to be their home base, forever.

I am making a new way. I am not like my mother.

Don’t

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don't

Don’t wish time away.

Don’t miss out on eating dessert for breakfast.

Don’t hold your farts in.

Don’t go to bed angry.

Don’t wake up angry.

Don’t be late.

Don’t be too early. It’s as much an inconvenience as being late.

Don’t be rude to the waiter/ waitress/ barista/ cashier/ cleaning lady.

Don’t cut your own hair.

Don’t talk yourself out of an opportunity to try something new.

Don’t close your heart to kindness.

Don’t shake hands limply.

Don’t talk yourself down.

Don’t pick at pimples.

Don’t be strong all the time.

Don’t worry about the dishes, until you absolutely have to.

Don’t be a jerk when driving.

Don’t ignore your email inbox to the point of having 1,976 unread emails.

Don’t build so many walls that you can’t be reached.

Don’t buy what you can make.

Don’t ignore your instincts.

Don’t worry about singing in the car, just do it.

Don’t tell lies about other people to make yourself look good.

Don’t be lazy. Unless it’s the weekend. Then be lazy.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve had a bad day with the kids/ failed at your diet. You’re human. Be human.

Don’t slurp your soup.

Don’t judge others. You don’t know their story.

Don’t stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong.

Don’t be afraid of what people think.

Don’t make everything a competition.

Don’t compare.

Don’t say, “I can’t.”

Don’t spend more than you earn.

Don’t buy what you don’t need just because it’s cheap.

Don’t be ashamed to admit you totally rocked to Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Bringing Sexy Back” (what, just me?).

Don’t be afraid to apologize.

Don’t call each other names in a fight. Fight hard, but fight clean.

Don’t neglect books. Read, and read a lot.

Don’t scrimp on a good mattress.

Don’t forget to brush your teeth before you go to bed.

Don’t say no to travel. Seeing the world opens your eyes in surprising ways.

Don’t stalk your ex on Facebook. Just don’t.

Don’t think that the world is against you. Sometimes, it’s just you against you.

Don’t hold onto grudges.

Don’t be afraid to let go of the people who should no longer be in your life.

Don’t forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

Don’t forget to tell your children you love them.

10 Things to Expect From Motherhood

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happy-family

As far as parenting journeys go, mine is still in its toddler stages, literally and metaphorically – three years and counting. I know I have many more years ahead of me, where I will undoubtedly learn more than I ever bargained for. However, even in three short years of imperfect parenting, these 10 truths keep coming back to me…

1. You will feel guilty. No matter what you choose to do – breastfeed or bottle feed, sleep train or not, go back to work or stay at home – you will feel guilty a lot of the time. You will question your choices, because other people will, whether out loud or in their minds, which will in turn, make you feel guilty. I’ve learned to accept my choices, whether they’re ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they are the choices made for the good of my children, for our family. Guilt comes with the territory, I get that now.

2. You will get angry. Anger – a dangerous, terrible emotion, especially when it’s directed at your children, your spouse, and yourself. You will also find that you may get mad at complete strangers, such as that impatient driver who cut you off. Or the lady in front of you at the checkout counter at the grocery store, for moving too slowly. Personally, when I find myself on a short fuse, it’s because I’m tired. Fatigue does not do you favors. I can’t give you advice on how to squeeze in more down time or sleep, I can only tell you that you should.

3. You will feel incompetent. When I had Monkey, I felt like a bumbling idiot all the time, and half-expected someone to come knocking on my door to tell me to give my son back, because I was doing such a terrible job as his mother. Three years in, I know I’m not terrible. But I have moments of perceived incompetence. No matter how many pats on the back I give myself, I still feel this way.

4. You will get competitive. When you have friends and relatives who have children of the same age, forget trying to avoid competitiveness. Yes, you may say, but I don’t brag! However, you’re silently pleased when you find out your daughter walked way before your best friend’s son, or that your boy scored higher on his English test than your best friend’s child. It’s inevitable.

5. You will be resentful (sometimes.) If I said I don’t think about my time pre-children, and how carefree and fun it was then, I’d be lying. I’d also be lying if I said I am absolutely 100% not resentful. Sometimes, I am. I resent that I have little time to myself. I resent that I have barely slept since 2009. Sometimes. Just sometimes. I do not however, regret having children.

6. You will be joyful. I do not regret having children – how could I? Everyday, they make me joyful. Even through the challenges, there is much to be happy for. The smiles, the hugs, the hand holding, just being with each other, being family – pure joy.

7. You will be more appreciative. When you become a parent, you appreciate your parents more (hands up, if you’ve thought about calling your mom to apologize, and thank her) . You appreciate your spouse more. You appreciate yourself more. You appreciate the extra 10 minutes you get, any time of the day. You appreciate coffee a lot more. If you’re a parent, you’ll know what I mean.

8. You will be wiser. You will learn to pick your battles. You will learn when to give up, and when not to. You will learn that love is deep. You will learn that fears abound in every corner and there is nary you can do about it. You will learn that your heart is so much bigger than you thought possible. You will learn that you have it in you to fight for your children.

9. You will be humbled. Parenting is a truly humbling experience. I thought I knew it all, could do it all. I know now, that I don’t and I can’t, and it’s okay.

10. You will be loved. My children’s love is pure. When I look into their eyes, when they put their chubby hands around mine, all there is, is love. And that is all.

Never The Same Again

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A friend of mine had her first baby a month after my second was born. She’s since been saying on Facebook how different things are now that she’s a mother. How her back hurts. How it sucks to still carry ten extra pounds.

And she asked, when will I feel myself again?

I told her, NEVER. You will never be the same again.

Your back will always be a little achy.

Your boobs will always be a little saggy.

Your stomach will always be a little poochy.

Your hips will always be a little wider.

Your hair, your skin, your bladder control – they will all never be what it was before, whether for better or worse.

You will never sleep the same again.

You might not get out of a nursing bra for a while.

You won’t be using the bathroom alone for a few years.

You might find yourself talking about poop a lot more than you expect.

You will never have crumb-less floors again.

You might not wear something that’s not stained for a couple of years.

You might not get your nails done or your hair cut as often as you did.

You probably won’t get all the laundry done, or the dishes washed, every single day.

Yes, all that.

But what I did not tell her, is this.

Your smile will always be wider.

Your laughter will always be more joyful.

Your eyes will always be brighter.

Your arms will always be full.

Your heart will always be walking out of your chest.

Your love will always be bigger.

So no, after you birth a child (or two, or three, or four and more), you will never be the same again.

But it’s ok, because you won’t want to be.

Vaccinations: It’s Not YOUR Choice

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baby-getting-a-shot Image via Shutterstock

I’m all for vaccinations. Every last one. Bring ‘em on.

Give vaccinations to my children according to schedule and make them compulsory, please. I don’t want diseases that were wiped out, through painstaking research and hard work on many people’s part, to come back, and come back as epidemics. People die from these diseases. Worse, children die from them. Teeny tiny babies, who are too young to be themselves vaccinated, depend on other people to make the right choice in vaccinating their own children when the time is right.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is NOT a personal choice.

A personal choice does not affect hundreds, thousands of people, entire communities. Making a choice to not vaccinate because you are afraid of autism, and saying it’s personal and you’re entitled to that choice, is simply wrong.

Breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, is a personal choice.

Which school your child goes to, is a personal choice.

Deciding to raise your child gender-free, is a personal choice.

Homeschooling is a personal choice.

Which church/ synagogue/ temple/ mosque you attend, is a personal choice.

Vaccination is NOT a personal choice, and should never be, ever.

Even if I believe vaccinations are linked to autism (and I do not because it IS NOT, there are PLENTY of studies to prove that), I’ll take autism over death any day. I’ll take that chance with my children. I can work with autism. I can understand it, learn about it, advocate for my child, and we’ll get through it. At least I can hold my baby, watch him grow up and navigate all those milestones every child born, has a right to navigate. (Before someone says, you say that only because you don’t know what it’s like to have a child with autism – hold on right there. I do have a child, who though technically not diagnosed as being on the spectrum, has a set of challenges and issues that we are dealing with right now. So I do understand what special needs are.)

You don’t get to decide that for me. But when you say, I choose not to vaccinate and it is my right! – you are deciding for me, and thousands of other parents and their children. You are exposing your children and mine to diseases that should no longer be here. You are exposing elderly folks and yes, even adults whose childhood vaccinations have weakened (and yes, you can get boosters, go get them now), to these diseases. You are taking away children, parents, and grandparents away from their families. That is your personal choice? No, it is not.

Have you seen a five week old in ICU because of whooping cough? Have you seen them hooked up to machines and drips, fighting to live? They wouldn’t even have to be there if their siblings had been vaccinated, and not passed it on to their innocent little brother or sister (and this is a true story told to me by a doctor friend living in Holland).

Pertussis (whooping cough) can kill. If you survive it, it can damage your lungs, and give you long-term health problems. People used to die from small pox (and still do). There are severe and real repercussions to your ‘personal choice’, on other people. Don’t we have enough freaking diseases in the world which God knows, if we can find vaccinations for, we’ll all be queueing up to get them? Cancer, HIV, various respiratory diseases, Ebola and who knows what else is going to strike us down.

So please, before you decide to make this a “personal choice”, get educated about vaccinations. Pour over all the information that is available and don’t be blindsided by fear mongers. Remember that what you choose to do or not do, affects more than just you and your child.