Parenting Solidarity Offers Comfort

It seems like more often than not, in a moment of adversity we worry more about mommy wars erupting than parenting solidarity.  I recently had a problem with Norton that I didn’t seek advice about because I suspected that the mommy wars would be stronger than the parenting solidarity and help that I might receive.

There are times, though, when we as moms worry about condemnation, harsh stares, and silent criticism.  I’m pretty sure that there’s no place in the world that we worry about that judgment more than the supermarket.  You know how it is: you’ve got the cart halfway loaded, a grocery list a mile long, and relatives coming over for dinner.  You have to get that grocery shopping done.  As you expertly weave through the aisles of the store, threading your way through the throng of customers also trying to get through with their shopping carts that are roughly the size of a Toyota Yaris, it happens: full-on meltdown. [Read more…]

Car Seat Safety Guidelines – A PSA

I don’t generally do public safety announcements.  I guess the closest thing I’ve ever done to a PSA is when I wrote about my parenting fail of not realizing that pacifier sizes exist for safety reasons.  However, since this is child safety month and it wasn’t all that long ago that Kate Middleton got hammered over car seat safety guidelines, this seems like a really good time to review. [Read more…]

Being a Mom is Like Being a Jedi Master

I’ve come to some conclusions in my time of being a mom.  Being a mom requires picking up some skills of the Jedi master.  No, really, think about it.

Lightening fast reflexes – Being a mom means being able to move faster than humanly possible when your child is in danger.  The speed that I’ve snatched Norton up when he was about to topple off of a piece of furniture puts Qui-Gon Jinn’s reflexes to shame.  We thought he was quick when he snatched up Jar Jar Binks’ tongue?  That’s nothing compared to the speed that I managed to grab Norton when he nearly fell head first off of the couch.

jediSuperior strength – Okay, so we don’t have to become body builders in order to safely navigate the perils of mommyhood.  Really.  I may not be able to bench more than twenty pounds, but when I thought that Norton might get hurt by a heavy object that I normally couldn’t move, I managed.  Other moms have been reported as doing things like lifting cars off of their kid and other superhuman feats.  There isn’t much that we can’t do to save our babies.

Jedi Mind Trick – Remember that scene in Star Wars: A New Hope when Obi-Wan waved his hand in front of the imperial guards and said “These aren’t the droids that you are looking for”?  Being a mom is nothing like that.  Our mind trick is a little difficult, but it’s a good parenting skill that we all need and develop.  How else do we do things like convince our kids to do their homework and eat things that we’ve hidden broccoli in?

Use the Force – We don’t have light sabres (although they would be useful for things like trimming the hedges), but part of being a mom is understanding the Force.  How often have we found ourselves stopping and pausing to listen to the hum of the Force?  We can sense a disturbance in the Force, and that’s how we know without looking that our children are into something and need to be reined in.  It’s an amazingly good parenting skill and understanding of the force when a mother can yell, “Jimmy!  Get out of that tree!” without even looking outside.

I’d say that being a mom gives you the same skills that a Jedi Master has, only we have limitations.  I can use the Force to tell when my dogs or my kids are doing things that they shouldn’t, but I can’t sense the disturbance in the Force on a universal level.  And, really, I’m pretty good with that.

What Jedi powers have you acquired in mommyhood?

Involved Parent vs. Creepy Parent

I’ve realized something through the years, both from being a parent and being parented: there’s a fine line between an involved parent and a creepy parent.

Here’s a tongue-in-cheek look comparing the two.

The involved parent will attend PTA meetings, and maybe even be a chairwoman of a committee or two.  The creepy parent will stalk the chairwoman to try to be more like her.

The involved parent knows her children’s friends.  The creepy parent wants to be her children’s only friend.  Even the imaginary one.Involved Parent vs. Creepy Parent (Cloth Diaper Addicts) #parenting

There was one parent that I remember from when I was in high school who just struck me as creepy.  She went to every single band event, even the ones that her daughter wasn’t involved in.  Usually, she went because her daughter’s boyfriend was in them.  She and her daughter would both stare at him with their heads cocked to one side, a soppy smile on their faces, and one hand on the cheek.  It was disturbing to see her mooning over her daughter’s boyfriend like a teenager.  She became the band parent that a lot of us avoided because, well, it just plain seemed really weird.  Otherwise, she was a perfectly nice lady, but the stalking her daughter’s boyfriend’s band events was just odd… especially considering a lot of us had parents who weren’t involved enough to show up to our own band events.

I know that I want to be involved in Norton’s life.  I want to be involved when Andy moves back.  I definitely want to be more involved than my parents were in my childhood and adolescence.  To me, being an involved parent is part of being a good parent.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes with Andy, and his coming back will be a second chance for both of us.  Part of being a good parent, I think, also means knowing that I can’t rewrite the past.

I suspect that’s where the creepy line also comes into play: a good parent knows that there is no do-overs.  A creepy parent will try to rewrite as much as possible, even to the point of lying to herself.  After all, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

There’s one area, though, where I do have to watch myself so that I don’t become the creepy parent: I try so hard to be the perfect parent that it very well could put me in the creeper category.

Where do you think the line between involved and creeper is?

Originally written on August 18, 2010

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear Breastfeeding Mom – Don’t Stop on My Account (or Anyone Else’s)

I’m not a breastfeeding mom.  I have never been a breastfeeding mom and I will most likely never be a breastfeeding mom.  I’m okay with that.  I’m also okay with other people breastfeeding, even though I used to actually be uncomfortable around women who are breastfeeding.  (Even then, though, I never felt that my discomfort was a reason for someone to feel like she shouldn’t be able to feed her kid.  My discomfort, my problem.) [Read more…]

Parenting Judgment – “Abuse” Is a Heavy Word

We’re all guilty of moments of parenting judgment.  Sometimes it’s giving a disapproving glance to the mom who is surfing her phone at the park instead of pushing a child on the swings.  Other times, it’s really just parenting judgment  because another mom dares to do something differently than we do.  For the most part, parenting judgment can lead to conversation.  Instead of condemnation, asking a mom why she does things the way she does instead of flinging barbs is a much kinder thing. [Read more…]

Parenting Advice? Back Off

Everyone of us will have a time when we need parenting advice.  I’ve reached out to some moms for advice on housebreaking Norton.  Others will reach out for parenting advice on a host of other subjects: vegan feeding, diaper rashes, when to start solids, or whether or not to sleep train.

No matter what we do as parents, someone will think that we’re wrong.  Fine.  You can’t please all of the people all of the time.  (But you sure can make them all mad.)  It seems that when we ask for parenting advice, that’s when it REALLY comes out. [Read more…]

Public Breastfeeding Does NOT Equal Public Fornication

While I’m not what you’d call a lactivist, I’m very much in favour of protecting the rights of others.  A breastfeeding mom has a right to public breastfeeding that I don’t think anyone should attempt to infringe upon, regardless of someone else’s personal discomfort.  Fortunately, the government of Canada has made it illegal to even suggest to a breastfeeding mom that public breastfeeding is not allowed in a public establishment.  It falls under the category of “sex discrimination.”  Similar laws exist in various states in the U.S. [Read more…]

You Have Failed As A Parent. Really?

Yesterday, I’d written about the parenting fail of not buckling your child in their infant safety seat.  That post was inspired by a thread on my home message board.  While there are a couple of truly heinous instances of parenting fail, most of the comments added are things that wouldn’t exactly cause a reasonable person to point and say “You have failed as a parent.”

Sure, maybe some of them aren’t sterling examples of good parenting skills, but really, I can’t say that you have failed as a parent because you let your dog lick the baby.  Honestly, with Winston the Wonder Chihuahua in my house, I’ve already realized that trying to get your dog to keep his tongue to himself is often a losing battle.  At this point, I just try to keep the dog from licking Norton’s face and hands.  Anything else is pretty much fair game.

Other instances that mothers cited when posting in the bad mommy thread were letting their babies co-sleep.  Okay, fine, I’m not a fan of baby bed sharing.  I feel that it’s a nasty habit in terms of being hard to break (I co-slept until Kindergarten, and so did my oldest child), plus it’s not safe for me to do this in my house.  But, then again, I also tend to follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics to the point of insanity.

However, there’s a whole school of parenting thought that centers around concepts like baby bed sharing and babywearing.  I’m not going to say to someone that you have failed as a parent because you’re into attachment parenting.  Just because it’s not right for me or my family doesn’t mean that it’s not right for you.  I’m not willing to slam your parenting skills because you follow the advice of a different doctor.  I just hope that you at least attempt to follow Dr. Sears’ guidelines for safe baby bed sharing.

Another common one that was listed in the “I’m a bad mommy” thread was letting babies sleep in the swing.  I confess, I’m guilty of that one.  You know what?  He doesn’t sleep very well or very long in his crib, even though we’ve set the mattress up on an incline.  He doesn’t sleep at all in his pack n play.  He seems to be showing signs of infant reflux.

I’m not going to apologize or refer to myself as a bad parent because I want to sleep and not have my kid covered in baby barf all the time.  I’m not going to apologize for wanting food to come out the back end after digestion instead of out of the top end before digestion.

In short, give yourself a break.  Ninety percent of the time, whenever you think that you have failed as a parent in the infant stage, you haven’t.  But if you did commit a major act of parenting fail and post that you are a “bad mommy” because of it, don’t be surprised when people agree with you.

How do you convince yourself to give yourself a break on minor parenting flops?

Originally published on What to Expect on April 13, 2010.

Parent Training – Get a Dog

I know that there are times that we all wish that there was some sort of parent training out there.  You know what I’m talking about: some kind of parent training manual that would somehow prepare us for everything that we’d face as parents.  Something that would let us have an idea of what we might be in for.

I was feeling nostalgic and going through some of my old journals and blogs when I found something that I’d written when I was pregnant with Norton.  I got some parent training, all right, in the form of Winston the Wonder Chihuahua.  People often balk when pets are compared to children… and they are right.  Sort of.  The biggest differences are shorter lifespans (and shorter baby stages) and that children do eventually outgrow the slobbering, whining phase.

Here’s one that I came across:

Parent Training - Get a Dog (Cloth Diaper Addicts)So, we have two dogs.  The dogs are like our children.

I had no idea what a warm up for parenthood Winston, my chihuahua would give me.  Last night, he ran into my office and begged me to let him in my lap.  Of course, being the dutiful mommy, I let him up.

He wagged his tail and was very cute for about a minute.  Then he promptly puked all over my leg.

And he’s been having very foul accidents due to tummy trouble.

Great.  I got to practice cleaning up vomit and poo.  I learned that my carpet shampooer does an excellent job of getting it out of the rug when used in conjunction with Fantastic OxyClean stuff.  Then I got the fun of trying to give Winston Kaopectate.  It took both me and my husband to get 5cc’s of Kaopectate in this little, squirming, growling dog.

If this entire day hasn’t been preparatory parenthood, I don’t know what has.  But at least I know that I have a really awesome machine for cleaning up bodily fluids.

Since I wrote this post on July 14, 2009, I’ve been covered in a multitude of bodily fluids.  I’ve been barfed on, peed on, bled on, pooped on, and had a myriad of foodstuffs smeared into my clothing.  And I got a better machine to help me clean those bodily fluids out of my furniture in the form of a Bissel SpotBot.

Have you ever found that a pet can be good parent training?  Or, in the case of a younger person, good birth control?