Kindergarten

I swear it was just yesterday that my daughter was born. But in fact it was actually 5 years ago. Well in a few weeks it will be five years exactly. And now this week I registered her for kindergarten. KIN-DER-GARTEN.

How did this happen?

Not that I’m not happy and excited to be moving into this new phase of motherhood. The phase where both kids are in school. I’m happy and excited to see my children growing into such wonderful people and I’m happy and excited to be regaining a little of my own freedom back that I traded in when I brought my firstborn home from the hospital.

But another part of me feels a little sad. I’m not sure that we’ll have a third child. And if we do, it won’t be soon. So sending my youngest off to Kindergarten is a milestone that leaves me a little empty on the inside. Each day they need me just a little less. Each day brings them one more day closer to growing up.

And it scares me. Have I done a good job as a mom so far? Is she going to be ok in school? Is she going to be a bully? How will her Diva ways translate into a public school yard? Will she be a mean girl?

So much of parenting is letting go. But what if I’m not ready to let go? What if I’m not ready to move on to the next phase?

I guess it doesn’t matter. Time stops for no one. Not even moms.

“It’s a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.”  ~J.K. Rowling

Parenthood Lowers Blood Pressure?

Hmm, I’m going to let you guys stew on that title while I take a moment to use a classic pop culture term from my generation, as if!

It was hard to read this original story between fits of uncontrollable laughter. Apparently a study done at Brigham Young University found, after observing 198 adults who wore portable blood pressure monitors for 24 hours, those who had children had a lower reading then those without children. And oddly enough, the effect was even stronger in the women who took part.

Lead researcher Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad had this to say,

“While caring for children may include hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life’s stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes.”

Ok, I guess on some level I can get what Dr. Holt-Lunstad is saying, but as a mom of two, I can’t help but repeating, as if!

Not that I would change being a mom for anything in the world, but I would be lying if I said I was I it for a lower blood pressure…And I also have to wonder how old the kids were of the parents in this study. Because mine are four and six, but from what I gather the stress level only increases as they age and become teenagers so…

I have only two theories that make sense to me.

  1. The parents involved in the study were just so damn happy to be out of the house and hanging out at a University for the day without their kids, that they automatically felt less stressed.
  2. That somehow living in a constant state of chaos somehow achieves some sort of inner calmness, much like what they say it’s like in the eye of a hurricane.

Either way the whole study strikes me as odd. Then again with as many “calgon, take me away” moments I have in any given day I wouldn’t trade a second of it. And how good my kids are for my heart is not exactly news…

What do you think, has parenting done wonders for your blood pressure or are these folks at Brigham Young sipping the crazy sauce?

1st Grade Boys and the Colors They Choose

We HAD two umbrellas. We did. One basic black one and one pink princess one. Somehow over the summer one broke and we were down to one. The Pink Princess one. Now, umbrellas are one of those things I never think about buying until we’re actually walking to school in the rain.

So over these last few weeks of rain my 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter have had to share the one lone umbrella, the princess one.  Obviously my son is taller and is the one stuck carrying it to cover both of their heads. This didn’t seem as much of a problem for them and the walk is not really that far (it takes longer to drive around to the front of the school and park).

But then something happened that broke my heart. Kids laughed at my son. They cracked jokes about his pink princess umbrella and how pink wasn’t for boys.

Now this isn’t the first time he’s gotten a little grief over the color pink. For Christmas he got a DSi, which turned out to be pink (which was beyond my control) but that’s not something that’s brought to school and when he’s been asked why his DSi is pink by friends he shrugs and says that he doesn’t care. And he doesn’t. My son is aware enough to know he’s lucky to have one and the color really doesn’t matter.

But this, the pink umbrella was different. THIS was standing beneath a glob of pink princess in front of his first grade class with all his first grade friends. I made a point of telling him to give his sister back her umbrella so that all the other kids would be clear that it was not his.

I then resisted the urge to call them all mean little punks and break all their fancier umbrellas.

That afternoon when my son got home he asked why boys couldn’t like all colors. All colors are beautiful he pondered, why couldn’t he like them all? My husband, God Bless Him, told him real men could like whatever colors they want. He asked why the boys at school don’t like girl AND boy colors. We told them it was their loss.

The next morning, having not gotten around to purchasing a second umbrella yet, we headed for school in the rain. Only this time as we came around the corner toward his classroom he handed his sister the umbrella and pulled his hood around his face. He stood in the rain, not wanting to be under the pink umbrella and waited for his classroom door to open.

As he turned around and gave me a kiss goodbye he asked me if I was going to be getting him a new umbrella today. I told him I would.

After both kids were safely at school I ran to the dollar store and picked up a few black and blue umbrellas.

Then I cursed society for making the color pink a crime for first grade boys.

Baby Beds and Milestones

Cheyanne In The Bassinet

The bassinet was cream-colored and the height could be adjusted so it was even with the bed to make for easy breastfeeding at night. It had ruffles and a basket on the bottom and we could rock it. It was one of the first things we purchased after an amnio confirmed that we were almost halfway through a healthy pregnancy.

Patrick in his Crib

That bassinet sat full of stuffed toys in the corner of the nursery next to the full size crib that we got for when he got a little bigger. Then when he was born we moved it into our room where it was his bed for those first three months.

Two years later that bassinet came back out and was Cheyanne’s bed for the first three months after she was born. At the same time that cream bassinet was moved out of the garage and into our room for a second time we purchased a toddler bed. Having just turned two Patrick seemed too small still for a big twin bed but had long outgrown his crib.

As we prepared for Cheyanne’s arrival and placement into the bassinet, Patrick made the leap from crib to toddler bed.

Patrick in the Toddler Bed

A year later we moved to a bigger house. In Patrick’s room there was an alcove built into the wall that fit a twin mattress. This was going to be Patrick’s bed. Since it was high off the ground we put a rail up, to be safe, and he made the move. Cheyanne was then ready to move from the crib to the toddler bed.

Cheyanne In Her New Twin Bed

So what has got me visiting the ghosts of children’s beds past?

This weekend we put up bunk beds in Patrick’s room and a big beautiful twin sleigh bed in Cheyanne’s.

These are huge milestones. These beds will be the beds they spend the rest of their childhood (assuming no unforeseen accidents force us to replace them before then). The bed he will lay on while reading his history book and will study for finals on. The bed she will lay on while talking to her friends on the phone.

There is no more bassinet, cribs or toddler beds for them to move into.  I know, I know. Maybe it’s silly of me to get so mushy at my six and four-year olds moving into real beds. But I can’t help myself.

Because to me, no matter what bed they’re laying in, when I look in on their sleeping faces I will always see the same little faces that I saw in that bassinet beside me.

Sniff.

Talking to Kids About Haiti

When I think back on my third grade teacher I remember a smile always on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Even as third graders we knew that she loved being a teacher and loved being there with us. She was kind and sweet and excited about teaching. That may have been why she was over the moon when NASA announced that they’d be sending a schoolteacher into space where she would be teaching lessons live the space shuttle. It was a big deal and all of us kids were pretty excited, but no one was more excited than our teacher.

She arranged to have a TV set up in our classroom so that we could watch the launch live as it happened. So we could watch history happen. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my classroom right next to my teacher as the countdown begun.

A few moments later the Challenger exploded right in front of our third grade eyes. I looked at my teacher who sat starring at the TV. The color was gone from her face and she looked over at us, her class. No one knew what to say.

At that moment a piece of my childhood innocence disappeared. I would never be able to watch a shuttle launch, or even a regular plane take off, without holding my breath. The image of that shuttle exploding in front of me would forever be a picture I would always have filed away in my brain.

I wouldn’t for a minute try to compare the Challenger Explosion with the tragedy in Haiti. There really is no comparison. But at the same time how that image affected me as a child has been on my mind lately as I wrestle with how much I should let my kids know about Haiti.

My daughter is only four, which is still pretty young to be talking about tens of thousands of victims in a horrific natural disaster. But my son, he’s six. He knows what’s going on, kind of. And we have wrestled with how much we should tell him and show him?

I don’t want to scare him. I don’t want to make a piece of his innocence disappear. But at the same time, I don’t want to shield him from human suffering like this either. Why? Because how will I ever instill the need and desire to stop human suffering like this if he doesn’t know it’s there?

I remember vividly  USA for Africa being a huge presence during my childhood. Most of you will remember that signature song, We Are the World that topped the chart for months. We were inundated with pictures of starving children and families in Africa. Living in poverty with nothing. Did that steal away a piece of my innocence? Not at all. If anything my childhood innocence coupled with a strong desire to help kids across the globe gave me an almost naïve idea that I could help. That I could make a difference. And THAT idea has stayed with me my entire life. In fact, it is a part of what drives me each and every day.

So, I decided to sit with my son and watch CNN for a few minutes. It wasn’t the worst footage I’d seen of Haiti, but it was bad. I explained to him what had happened and how people were trying to help. He didn’t say anything until after a few minutes, “Mom, can we turn this off now?” I said yes. He didn’t seem very affected by it and I thought he’d simply lost interest. I shrugged and turned it off.

A few minutes later he turned on the Wii. When I walked out of the kitchen and back into the family room he was playing a game on Wii Resort sports where he flies a plane. I stood there for a moment watching him and then suddenly he said, “Mom, look there’s the island where the earthquake happened!” He pointed to one of the animated islands in the distance which he was attempting to fly his plane to. “What are you doing?” I asked, thinking he was simply turning the tragic footage I had just shown him into a game. “I’m bringing them stuff.” He answered. “Blankets, clothes and lots of food.” He said as smiled and kept his focus on the game.

My heart filled with pride. He got it. My son GOT IT. And I knew that in those few minutes of watching CNN I had planted a seed that will hopefully continue to grow and flourish as he becomes an adult. I guess deciding how much we want to explain to and show our kids about Haiti is really something that depends on the child. Sometimes, like many moments in parenting, you just have to make these decisions on the fly, like I did, and hope that somehow they get it. That sometimes life is tragic. But sometimes out those tragedies comes more heroes and sheroes and stories of strength then any of their fairy tale or superhero books ever could.

How have YOU handled talking about the situation in Haiti with your kids? Have you let them see some of the news or have you avoided it?

Text “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti or simply contact the American Red Cross to find other ways you can help.

The Truth About Mommy

I will never be that mom who’s got it all together. I will never be the mom who remembers every little date, the gift for the teacher and the Tiger Scout meeting all on the same day. I just never will be.

I will always be the one whipping out the permission slip at the last possible moment where it is has sat crumpled and washed in the back pocket of my jeans. I am the mom who when asked for a tissue will always have one, it will just take 10 minutes of fishing through my purse to find it.

I can never go grocery shopping without forgetting at least one thing. In fact, I always count on having to go right back out again. Have I ever lied to my child that there were no more cookies, just cause I was saving the last one for myself? Sure, I’ll be honest. We’re all friends here, right?

But my kids are loved, clothed, and fed. It may have been hot dogs and macaroni & cheese, but they’re fed and they think I’m awesome…. Most of the time anyway.

It’s important to be honest about our imperfections when it comes to motherhood. Because we all have imperfections. There is no such thing as the perfect mother. All we can do is the best we can and laugh off the rest.

Any mom who appears to have it all together is just putting on a show. Somewhere beneath that cool mom exterior is a sink full of dirty dishes and a Calgon commercial waiting to happen. Just like the rest of us.

I think that’s why mom blogs and books like See Mom Run (edited by Beth Feldman, RoleMommy.com) appeal to me. I like to see the perfect mom come clean and show that she’s no better or worse than the rest of us.

So next time you’re not having one of you’re best mommy days, remember you’re not alone. And if you need reminding pick up See Mom Run and read Ciaran Blumenfeld’s “bad thai-ming” or “the secret” by Meredith Jacobs. Or any of the other hilarious essays in the book.

Just knowing that I’m not the only mom who actually has made a few mistakes on the way makes me sleep better at night. But just a little better, I mean I do have kids you know. So I don’t sleep that much…

This post was inspired by the svmoms book club book, see mom run, a collection of essays written by the world’s most harried moms and funniest women in the blogosphere.  I did receive a free copy of the book but have in no other way been compensated for this post.  If you want to borrow it you can, but please return it when you’re finished. If you want your own copy to keep join your own damn book club.

The Birth of Evil Mommy

Ok, so I know that Supernanny would probably be here in an instant. And I know that Dr. Phil would have me shipped off to his boot camp so fast my head would probably spin. I know all this because I have worked with kids on and off since I was in high school. I have credits in Early Childhood Development and a library of books on child rearing. Including my college textbooks. So I know what I’m about to tell you is soooooo wrong.

Recently in the heat of a weak moment I did something. The house was in shambles and the kids were refusing to clean up. Not just refusing, but downright telling us NO. And in a moment of complete weakness I broke down and told them that if they didn’t start listening Evil Mommy was going to come down and make them.

That’s right. Evil Mommy. I told my children that I was the good mommy and Evil Mommy lives in the attic and would come down if she didn’t like the way they were behaving. Evil Mommy hates TV. She hates video games and toys. And she ESPECIALLY hates little boys and girls who talk back to their parents.

My kids DID NOT LIKE THIS.

Right away through sniffled tears they started cleaning. Right away I knew what I’d told them was wrong. But is it really any different than threatening to cancel Christmas by calling Santa and telling him not to come? Something I KNOW many of you have told your kids at one point or another.

And there was a kid’s book that I loved growing up that had a similar story… Miss Nelson is Missing.

So while I know that somewhere Supernanny is cringing in her sleep, part of me found some evil satisfaction in the fact that my kids suddenly were very intent on listening to me.

I know, I’m a bad mom.

I have not come clean with my kids about the Evil Mommy not really existing. But I’m no longer threatening to bring her down either. You never know, I may just need to conjure her up again someday.

So tell me, what’s the worst thing YOU’VE told your kids in order to get them to shape up?

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