Tag Archives: Parenting

A mother’s job

Two things have prompted me to think about parenting. Last night, I was watching a new show (one of the Jay Leno NBC replacement shows) called (surpisingly) “Parenthood”, which seems to me to be a fairly accurate representation of the struggles of parenting (with the exception of the character of the patriarch’s youngest son, who I think is not very believable and is also a total ass). Then this morning, I was reading an article in the Trib about a class being offered through some of the suburban high schools that supposedly teaches people to be better parents of teen-agers.

And then this got me to thinking about my parenting philosophy. Not that my personal parenting philosophy matters to anyone else, or is the right one. Not that my parenting philosophy results in my being a perfect parent. In fact, I have many stories of imperfect parenting. (One of my favorite examples  is standing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a then7-year-old Emma, shouting, “I did not pay all this money to have you come here and play with a Gatorade bottle! Now look at the animals!”) While I have never actually left my child at Chuck-E-Cheese, or forgotten to pick up a child from soccer practice, I have had many moments of getting to work and wondering whether I actually dropped the kids off or whether they were still in the van, because I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing when I dropped them off.

But while it doesn’t make me the Perfect Parent, my parenting philosophy does act as a filter for me when I’m faced with decisions. So here it is, for what it’s worth:

I believe that my job as a parent is not to make my kids happy. Nor is it to make my kids thrive. My job as a parent is to help my children learn the skills they will need to thrive without me.  Not only has remembering this philosophy been a useful filter for me over the years as I’ve had to make decisions in the heat of the moment.  It’s also given me great strength in overcoming the pull to rescue my kids, or to give in to what they want. To hold on. As a 6-month-old was crying in his crib in the middle of the night because he wanted a bottle, and I knew that if I held on, he would figure out how to get himself back to sleep. As that same child, now 6, had an anxiety attack over his upcoming swimming lesson, and I knew that if I held on, he would get through the lesson and have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and pride because he overcame his fear. As a different child begged me to bring to school her lunch-forgotten-on-the-kitchen-table, and I knew that if I held on, she would not starve, and maybe she’d be more likely to remember it next time. And as I drag a tantrummy youngest child to time out in her room,  and I know that if I hold (and hold on and hold on and hold on), at some point, maybe she’ll learn some self-control.

Help them learn the skills they will need to thrive without me. And then just love them as hard as I can.


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The card’s not in the mail yet


I’ve made a decision.  On the recommendation of my friend Betsy, I’m sending Valentine’s Day cards this year.  Said another way, I’m not sending Christmas cards. 

I love to receive Christmas cards. I love to see how my friends’ kids changed in a year’s time.  Who went through a growth spurt, who changed from toddler to little boy, who started out looking like Mom and now looks like Dad.  And I know that you have to give to receive.

But the holidays can be crazy and stressful (I always feel like for one month, Christmas adds a full-time job on top of the two full-time jobs and many part-time jobs I already have.) So it’s really important for me to focus on activities that feed my soul.  Things that bring me joy, things that are becoming traditions within our family, things that help me connect with the people I love, and things that help me connect with my Higher Power.  And far from feeding my sould, sending Christmas cards is, for me, one big soul-sucking adventure.  For one thing, there are just too many steps involved.  Step 1 – get the kids into nice clothes that sort of match. Step 2 – get the kids to pose for a picture, preferably in front of the tree.  Step 3 – select a photo and order the prints. Step 4 – buy the cards. Step 5 – write a Christmas letter (or even worse, write a message on each card).  Step 6 – put the address label and the return label on. Step 7 – put the stamps on.  Step 8 – go to the post office and mail the goddamn things.  I always feel like crying “uncle” around Step 5, but I can’t really stop there after I’ve put so much effort into it already.

There are so many other things I enjoy doing to prepare for Christmas, and some that I don’t but aren’t optional.  I love trimming the tree, I love baking cookies, I love singing in our annual Advent Lessons and Carols program at church. (Did I say “so many other things”? I meant “3”.)  I don’t love shopping and I detest wrapping, but I pretty much have to do those things or I’d be extremely unpopular in my house.

I can’t just eliminate sending cards altogether, or I fear I’ll be dropped from everyone’s Christmas card list within two years.  And in addition to those photos, I do enjoy that once-a-year catch-up that the Christmas cards bring from far-away friends who…now…all…happen…to…be…my…friends….on…Facebook…and…know…every…detail…

On second thought, never mind.  Bye-bye cards, Christmas or Valentine’s Day.  You served your purpose, but you’re now gone from my life forever.

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I finally figured out what it’s about

This blog, that is.

It came to me this morning as I was getting ready to go for a run before leaving for breakfast with my sponsor, followed by an “open” AA meeting (a meeting open to anyone, regardless of whether or not you’re an alcoholic), followed by a blogging seminar, with a quick trip home in-between to make something that Emma could throw in the oven for dinner.  I was just about to put on my running clothes, and David said the magic words, “Mommy, will you snuggle on the couch with me”? And in about 5 seconds, I evaluated the situation, and decided to snuggle instead of going for a run.  I could say it was a gut decision. But I know that I actually spent about 5 seconds quickly evaluating the options. On the “pro-run” side, I was going to be sitting in a hotel conference room for two hours in the afternoon, and it would have been good to get some exercise.  On the “pro-snuggle” side, I went for a run yesterday, I wasn’t feeling particularly sluggish, and I wasn’t going to get to spend much time with the kids today.  Easy decision.

It’s cliche to say that life with kids and a career is a balancing act.  I would bet that you could read thousands of blog posts about it every day from moms who are always feeling guilty. Do I really have anything new and fresh to add to that conversation?

But here’s the thing: I don’t feel guilty.  I’m not sure what you call a person like me, but for some reason, the word “satisficer” comes to mind. I don’t know if that’s the correct use of the term (I think I’ve heard it before in the context of purchsing decisions), but whatever, I’m going to make it my own.  The fact is that I have friends who work longer hours. And friends who take their kids to the park more. And friends who run marathons.  And friends who are more active in Al-Anon. But I prioritize my life, I make choices, and I do a good job (not a perfect job) at all of the things I do.  And I let go of the things I can’t do, or that I do at less than 100%. The bottom line is that my kids are happy, healthy, bright, and well-behaved (well, Margaret’s not so well-behaved, but it’s not really my fault – she was born that way). I’m well-respected at work, and I do work that I’m proud of.  I have wonderful friends. I have so many blessing in my life. Why feel guilty about it?

This blog is about my observations and experiences as a wife, mom, higher ed marketer, daughter, sister, runner, cook, Al-Anon member, friend, singer, pianist, Episcopalian book-lover, and how I manage to do a good enough job at all of them without feeling guilty.

That wasn’t a randomly-ordered list, by the way, but a prioritized order.  Things change – the priorities will probably change order at some point. And if something gets out of whack, I’ll have to adjust things.  I may have to let things go. I may want to add other things.  I’ve already made choices in my career based on that element being really out-of-whack (not so much that I worked too many hours, but that I HATED MY JOB and that threw everything out of whack.)

So that’s what this blog is about. Whew – I’m so glad that’s settled. I guess I have to change the name of it at some point, because “Laughter is the Best Medicine” doesn’t really fit. But that will be a decision for another day…


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Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

Each year, I feel like I blink and it’s Labor Day, then I blink again and it’s Halloween, I blink again and it’s Christmas, and I blink again and it’s the end of the school year.   As a child, I never loved Halloween.  I could never come up with a really creative costume. As an adult, though, Halloween is one of those “moments” that I look forward to and remember each year.  For the past several years, we’ve had a block party on Halloween, where we block the street and have a party after trick-or treating.  This year, we had a mountain of food – pizza, cake, muffins, fruit, and lots and lots of candy, of course.  Good times had by all.  And now I’ll blink and Christmas will be here.

Here are some pics of our witch and our bat.

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And then God laughed at me

My first- and second-born children (Emma and David) both demonstrate traits characteristic of first-borns.  With 10 years between them, it’s not surprising that David is more like a first-born than a middle child.  They are both rule-followers, want desperately to please (well, Emma wanted desperately to please until she became an adolescent), are polite, well-mannered, pleasant to be around, and easy to discipline.  I, of course, chalked this up to superior parenting on my part.  I tsk-tsked at the parents of children who didn’t listen, who laughed when their parents tried to discipline them.  Probably not consistent with the discipline, I thought.  Too lenient. Said no, but then gave in.  Yeah, I had it under control.

And then God sent me Margaret. 

This is a typical picture of her.

Won’t stand still long enough to get her picture taken.

This is a typical video:

 Margaret lives large.  She talked in complete sentences before she was 2 (and I mean, like 11-word sentences.)  She has no physical fear. She makes hilarious faces. She sings at the top of her lungs.  She thinks she’s five.  She has amazing control over her body . She never walked, she just ran.  She’s very affectionate – constantly giving kisses and hugs. She’s absolutely delightful, and she makes me laugh all the time.

And she doesn’t listen. She laughs at me when I discipline her. She won’t stay on the naughty step, no matter how many times I put her back there. She gives me heart failure at the park, because she’s such a dare-devil.  Last week, she flooded the bathroom and smeared my make-up all over everything while she was supposed to be taking a nap (I was blissfully unaware of this, as I was in Pennsylvania.) 

So much for superior parenting.

I wouldn’t change anything about her.  But man, am I tired.

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Halloween Craft

Stephanie is my crafty friend. I’m in awe of her, because she sometimes has her kids’ birthday parties at home, complete with crafts.  Lately, she’s been into making tie-dye shirts with all of the neighborhood kids.  And they are adorable.  The latest are Halloween shirts and dresses.  It doesn’t show well in the photos, but each of the black creatures has glow-in-the-dark eyes.  Stephanie got the shirts/dresses and orange paint at http://www.dharmatrading.com.  And the puffy paint is from Michaels.  Amazingly, she made most of the stencils herself. 

First, the shirt is “sprayed” with tie-dye paint and left to dry. Then, the stencil is taped to the shirt, and the black puffy paint is applied inside the stencil with a sponge brush, and the puffy, glow-in-the-dark paint is applied for eyes.  Then the shirt has to dry again for 24 hours.





bat 2

bat 2

Here are some photos of the kids at Stephanie’s tonight. David’s making his shirt and Margaret’s playing with doll babies:

Happy Halloween, 11 days early!

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Munchkins on a Thursday Morning








Didn’t get one of Emma…she was still asleep. Typical.

I’m about to leave the munchkins to go on a trip to Pennsylvania with 9 of my college girlfriends. Always hard to leave them (and Tim, of course), but the anticipation of being able to sleep in for two days in a row is helping.  Will post girls’ weekend pictures on Monday.

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