I Admire You, Fellow Mom

I see you handling that tantrum compassionately.

I see you encouraging your child to be polite and well mannered.

I see you unpacking that healthy lunch that took alot of prep.

I see you letting your kid be a kid; a loud, noisy, wild kid, in an appropriate place for it.

I see sometimes when your child doesn’t respond the way you want but that’s ok because I see you trying.

I want to say good job or you seem like a great mom, I want to compliment you but…you know…kids. Usually by the time i’ve had a quiet enough moment to process you have already left, moved on, gone. And sometimes I get in my way, I wonder if you’d think i’m weird for complimenting you and I decide its safer not to.

I know you want the same things I do, you need to hear you are doing a good job sometimes, and I want to tell you, I really do but most of the time I don’t. I’m working on that, maybe you are too.

There are probably lots of days another mom is admiring your parenting handiwork and just to rushed, shy, jealous or distracted to say so but you still need to hear it. You are doing a good job. If you have kids that are loved and safe and happy (mostlyish) then you are doing a good job.

 

fellow mom

 

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Finding Beauty in the Mess: Week 2

This week my moment of beauty came as I tried to clean blood out of washclothes and off my bathroom counter. I found myself reflecting on my gratitude for my children’s health and safety. Shortly before I had been holding a wet washcloth on my toddler’s mouth trying to slow the flow of blood gushing from her teeth. She had slipped on the bench at our table during dinner and her two top teeth connected with the edge pretty hard. I was upset and worried for a moment but once it was clear there more blood than anything I settled in to grateful. The minor injuries of my children’s lives are just that minor, small, momentary discomforts and for that I am tremendously thankful. It’s beautiful to have a healthy child, even one covered in blood.

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Spirit Airlines: A Mom’s Review

If you are traveling with small kids and an equally small budget you’ve probably considered the budget airlines (Frontier, Spirit, etc.) and possibly you have been scared off by the overwhelming number of negative reviews.

I almost was.

But then I looked at my bank account and said oh well, it’s Spirit or nothing.

To prepare myself I started reading the negative reviews on various sites, so I would know what I was in for. As I was reading I noticed a common theme… 90% of the negative reviews were the CUSTOMER’s fault. See I had already read Spirit’s website pretty thoroughly and knew their rules (and that’s just to consider booking with them) and so when I saw people complain about the “hidden” or “surprise” charges I thought…umm no I just saw that in big letters on their site. They don’t lie to you, they are really up front that you are basically paying for the gas to fly the plane and a seat to sit on, anything else you need is on you…or them for a fee.

I felt a little better as I found very few complaints that weren’t preventable on the customer’s part except for delays and let’s be honest delays happen on all airlines. I booked earlier in the day to try and minimize the chance of them but other than that it was out of my control.

My honest review was that Spirit was pretty good and I will definitely fly them again!

I measured my personal item, paid for one checked bag WHEN I bought my ticket, weighed it before the airport and confirmed my carseats and strollers were free. I booked so far in advance, in person at the airport that I was assigned seats together for free. I pre printed our boarding passes and checked in online to avoid fees and of course packed water bottles (empty through security and filled at a fountain) and snacks so I didn’t need to buy them.

I had zero dollars in hidden fees, both flights were EARLY not late, the staff were all very polite and I was pleasantly surprised that unlike many bigger airlines they had changing tables in the onboard bathrooms :).

My gate checked stroller was treated very gently (I could see them unloading from my window!) and my belongs all returned in the same condition I checked them.

I don’t know what more I could ask from an airline, especially one i’m paying so much less than the others for.

If you fly Spirit you MUST do your homework, read and follow their rules but if you do there is no reason you can’t have a nice flight!

[For tips on traveling with children read here.}

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T.R.A.V.E.L. with Young Kids

Whats the secret to traveling with young kids?

 

Lots of wine, just kidding I actually don’t really drink but it seemed fitting 🙂

For me it all boils down to T.R.A.V.E.L.

Tricks, ask friends, family & the internet for their favorite travel tricks and choose the ones that suite your child & destination. I think my favorite travel trick for almost all age kids is candy! I pack a bag of dumdums and m&ms, and use them as bribes, rewards and to help ears pop on the plane 🙂

Research, not everyone loves research but it really does make for smoother travel. I watched parents turned away from a flight for arriving too late for check in, waiting in line for a ride their child could not ride and begging their children to stop crying when theirs ears began to hurt because she’d forgotten to bring anything to help them (I passed out suckers on this one but not everyone will have a helpful stranger). All of these little joy suckers were preventable by research.

Adaptablity, Be prepared to change plans! I love research, i’m a planner by nature but I am very willing to adapt the plan if it’s not working for us or a better option comes along! We got to do everything we wanted in Epcot by lunch thanks to short lines early so we adapted by heading to Hollywood Studios which I had done some research on as a backup anyway and I whipped out my phone to double check a few things as we rode the bus too. Some really special moments happened there that made the day and were never in the original plan!

Vigor, Ok this isn’t fully in your control if you have health issues but be as physically ready as possible! Keep everyone well rested, well fed and have necessities like water, sunscreen and bandaids readily available. It makes a big difference in your ability to enjoy the goings on of travel!

Expectations, I can’t stress enough how important it is to manage your expectations when you are with small children! If you expect them to keep up with an adult pace, or to have no little meltdowns or issues you are setting everyone up for failure and disappointment! We had at least 1 teary episode per day (usually less than 2 minutes but still tears!) over everything from a scary loud toilet to chicken that tasted wrong. I consider this 100% success. Having less than 30 minutes of tears total per day was my goal for the 1.5 & 4 year olds and we came in well under so I was ecstatic!

Luck, It would be intellectually dishonest to tell myself there isn’t luck involved! Even with the best planning, attitude, kids, etc. there is always an element of luck! We had no flight delays, pleasant weather, no lost luggage…in other words alot went our way! Any of these could have thrown a wrench in a lovely vacation and made it less pleasant but thankfully they didn’t for us… this tim

 

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Seasonal Friends

The title might sound like a negative thing but hear me out, I want to talk about friends who are meant to be there in various seasons of our lives, they may still be there in a less prominent way through some or all of our life but their role changes with the seasons…..and that’s a good thing.

I’ve noticed that women all around me lament not having “friends”, enough of them, close enough ones or the elusive “best” friend. And I’ve prayed, cried, worried and tried for years to find my “Friends” style friends. They would come over to my house every week, we’d go shopping and on vacation together, we’d take a pilates class and catch the latest movies. These women would surely be there with me through graduations...err engagement?…wedding?…newlywed troubles?….birth?… retirement?  maybe but so far i’ve struck out pretty big.

See, we all know that the media portrays a very unrealistic idea of relationships, we realize how silly it is to expect our husbands to act like they are in a romantic comedy and for some of us that’s actually a relief (i’d be exhausted with all those cutesy lil twists and turns!)

But did you ever realize how unrealistic the female relationships tend to be? Pop culture would have you belief that every woman finds 1-3 best friends who will be there with her from adolescence through old age and they will move from Sex & the City right on into Golden Girls handling everything in between like the women from YaYa sisterhood.

I haven’t seen it. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen because I know it does but I believe those to be the exception. The only women I know who have the same support network they’ve had since high school are sisters biologically. It’s not so common out here in the real world!

I think about my day to day existence and at times I get caught in the trap of why don’t I have a best friend? Someone who prefers my company to all others… you know besides my husband. Wait… I have my husband, we tend to forget them but he is truly my best friend in the world and somehow because he’s a male I can’t count him? I do want female friendships but I think it’s asking a little much to want that kind of commitment from anyone but him, even if tv tells me it’s so.

In youth and young adulthood this myth is easy to continue to buy in to because we are in school/college and therefore maintain close proximity to other females that creates a type of intimate familarity. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s unlikely to last. You will probably remain friends but for most of you in five years you won’t be talking daily…or weekly even and if you do monthly then good work!

I’m here to say that this is ok though. This is normal and…dare I say, healthy? I think they only thing unhealthy about growing closer to women in the same stage of life and geographic location as us is our attitude that if we don’t stay that close forever we have somehow failed or were never really friends.

I know I had a best friend in high school (and because she married my brother she is indeed my sister and friend for life!) but even being related now we’ll never have the SAME kind of relationship we did then when I could tell you everything she was thinking and probably what she ate for her last meal or exactly which shirt was her current favorite. She will always be my friend though because I always know we will have each others backs even if we haven’t talked in forever except on facebook…and that’s ok!

I had close friends in college, different ones in different years, for a while I basically lived in my friend Shannon’s room then my friend Cristie’s and then when I transferred schools I hung out with the same group of education majors almost every class. These ladies are still my friends but we don’t have the kind of relationship we did then…and that’s ok!

I had friends at work too, my fellow teachers were there to support me and pray for me and help me through some tough stuff! Leaving my baby at daycare the first time, pregnancy again, maternity leave, they even let me cry on their shoulders when I had to leave my 2 yr old overnight for the first time ever for a training. (Yes i cried even though he was just home with dad, sue me :)) In the year I have been home I have obviously talked with them alot less but I still count them as friends, our relationship just changed….and that’s ok!

Now I am in the phase of my life where I spend most of my time with fellow stay at home moms or moms from my son’s classes at church. We see each other weekly, talk about the struggles and joys of parenting small people. We are friends and the fact that we haven’t been that way since childhood or that we may not still talk every week five years from now does not diminish our friendship.

I’ve spent to much time worrying about the relationships I don’t have and feeling inadequate because I lacked them. I have lamented to my husband on numerous occasions that maybe I lack some female trait (He is still friends with guys from middle school on up because guys relationships are a totally different creature) . There must be something wrong with me that I can’t cultivate and maintain the mythical best friend relationship. Then I decided to stop. Stop worrying about what category of friend I was and think about what kind of friend I wanted to be.

I started reaching out to women more often, planning social things, joining groups & not taking rejections personally and I realized…I have friends, they are good friends and i’m thankful God has put them in my life, even if it’s only for a season!

 

Fun Fact: my hair is basically the same as it was in high school…and college… and most of my childhood. 😉

 

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The Milestones We’d Rather Not Reach

Parents love milestones, some get way too into them, everyone worries a little about them and most talk or brag just a smidge once they have been achieved. First tooth, first step, first word, potty trained, abcs, counting, reading, shoe tying, the list could go on and on with landmark first events that remind us our kids are growing up.

But some of the milestones are silent and maybe even painful. The first time they turn down a kiss or hug, the last time they say a word that cute incorrect way, or the first time they aren’t accepted.

At some point someone is going to reject your child and they may not even notice. But you will. They may notice and not care. But you will. They may care and do something about it. It will still hurt you.

Maybe your child isn’t invited to a party you see their friends at on facebook, maybe they are left out of play, maybe they are the only ones that don’t get asked on playdates, it can be a million things. What I can guarantee you is that it will hurt you, quite possibly more than your child.

Some parents may be spared this milestone for years, it may even seem a charmed few somehow skip it but if you are the parent of a quirky child you will probably see this one early…and maybe often.

My son mentioned that a subset of his friends at a weekly event we attend always say he’s the “bad guy” and run away from him. He asks them if he can play with them but they continue to pretend he’s a bad guy and run from him. He’s a little quirky, socially a little anxious, often dressed in costumes, refuses to pretend to like things he doesn’t and unapologetically loves the things he loves. These traits make him an interesting human being, they make me proud that he knows who he is and embraces the way God made him …and they make him stick out in a group of preschoolers.

At this age most kids just want to do what their friends are doing, they want to be liked and if there are bigger kids (like these boys) around they want to seem “cool”. 4-6 is a hard age because for the first time they begin to struggle with who they are and who they think they ought to be to be “popular” (thus why being a copycat is such an issue at this stage). My son won’t pretend to like scary movies or hide the fact he still loves Elmo and Mickey and it’s not going to earn him fans in an age group where conformity is the standard.

Does he care that the same kids exclude him every week? Yes, he tells me so.

Does it hurt his feelings? A little.

Is he willing to be someone else so they will like him more? No.

Does my heart hurt for him? Yep.

Do I wish I could fix it? Yes.

Will I? No, because he will be dealing with shallow people his whole life and the more practice he has the better.

So we’ve reached the first time my child has really been rejected and I am certain there are a lifetime more ahead but I am thankful that he is strong enough person already to let it roll off his back and pray he continues to for years to come. It’s not a milestone you’ll find in a scrapbook, you won’t treasure the memory but it will come just the same.

And someday my child will probably unintentionally help some other kid reach this milestone too, I pray they too continue to be who they are in the face of rejection.

You have a Christmas Complex

Some people have a Christmas inferiority complex, some have a superiority complex and alot manage to have both but it seems Moms across the nation have a complex when it comes to Christmas. If you doubt me go look at ANY article dealing with a Christmas tradition like Santa or that Elf and you will find moms attacking one another and anger abounding.

Some think you are evil if you “steal magic” from your kids by not doing the Elf or Santa, others think you are promoting dishonesty by doing Santa or the Elf. Others say there is a “right” number and type of presents (tired of hearing: want, need, wear, read anyone?). Some think the more the merrier and some think we should just say “no” to gifts altogether.

None of this is right or wrong because it’s all just different ways to do the same thing: celebrate.

As a Christian I am alot more worried about WHAT we are celebrating than how.

We are celebrating the birth of a Savior, the moment that changed the course of history for all of eternity, the most selfless act mankind can ever know. 

So do you really care if your friend brings in a magical man in a red suit or a historically accurate portrayal of the man Saint Nicholas or a kinda creepy lil elf doll? Does it matter if I do “Truth in Tinsel”, “What God Wants for Christmas” AND “Adornaments” with my children instead, does that make us more holy somehow? I admit I have a complex too, I am overwhelmed by the complexity of a holiday meant to celebrate the most simple beginning in history. He came as a babe. No OBGYN, no midwife, no golden throne, no sterile hospital, no 5 piece layette, no royal artists to capture the moment. He was born in the least remarkable way and the truth he came to bring was simple. Simple but lifechanging. Christ is the only way to God, to truth, to heaven, to life; real, abundant, everlasting life. 

Can we focus on that?

I am not a “good secular mom”, I don’t do the elf, I don’t do Santa, I don’t do shoes left out or pickles in trees…heck I only give my kids one gift (and not even that as babies). [And yes I realize Christian moms do these too but I don’t see them being heralded as a benchmark for being a good Christian mom.]

I am not a “good Christian mom” either, I bought “What God Wants for Christmas” and tried to do it but my 3 year old just wanted to play with the people and so for the last year baby Jesus, the angel, Mary…the whole set have been lovingly toted around and played with alongside Elmo and Jake the Neverland Pirate. Maybe i’ll try one of those other sets someday…maybe I won’t.

Because I don’t think it matters what I do or don’t do to celebrate Christmas because I know that I am telling my kids the REASON we celebrate. I am showing it with the love and care I put into choosing gifts that I want to demonstrate Christ’s love. I am teaching him joyful service as I donate my time and talents to help where I can and when I can. I may not have a fancy way to do it but all year, especially at Christmas, I am teaching him the Word of God and the importance of Christ in our lives. If he grows up knowing the beginning of the greatest love story ever told then I will consider my Christmases a success no matter what else we did or didn’t do.

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*I am talking about the Christian holiday of Christmas, if you do not celebrate this then this blog isn’t directed at you but if you would like to know more about Christ and why Christmas is so important then contact me, I’d love to share the truth with you.*