Tag Archives: parenting

To my kids, on the seashore

The beauty and energy of being four, and being certain of everything, and hungry for everything else.

The depth of being two, with emotions carving out subterranean chambers until they erupt, run down your face and cool into igneous beaches that will hollow into coves and  gather soft sand over time.

This is our now. It is not easy, but it is pure life, and it is life-giving. It is humanity distilled to its essences – need, delight, energy, feeling, understanding.

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These two small people- the four year old circus and her brother with moods like fog and lava- are exactly who I dreamed I would mother, and yet exposing every day how small my dreams were. How low was my bar for a full life. Fullness is not easy. Fullness is scary, like my daughter on a cliff, insisting she’ll needs to take just one more step toward the edge. Fullness is one more stop, even though it’s bedtime, because we may never be back.

Fullness comes with tears, of course. But I’ve learned that tears are not a sign of failure, not theirs and not mine. Tears mean we are growing, expanding our reach. Even though I know this, I still avoid them when I can, I’m incapable of drowning out the whining or the wails.

The ocean is a perfect mother. She drags her tides in and out, at regular intervals, morning, noon, evening, night. She never complains that the work continues, she only delivers a new smattering of simple treasures to be scavenged by insatiable collectors, like my own. She lulls them to sleep, and chases them from the beach when it’s time to go home.

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I’m not the ocean.

I’m like the wind. All force and no regularity, leaving my family tousled and chasing their scattered paper goods. I’m always with a list or a task, always on to the next thing.

It’s nice to let the ocean be mother for a while, so that I can watch my children be nurtured by her. I am taskless here.

When we go away from our routine, I discover my children in their latest form. Not in the ways their newest angsts disrupt, derail, and splatter paint the day’s agenda. But in the ways they carve adventure across a landscape, and spread to fill the frame of every moment. The way each passing year adds to their capacity for rapture.

 

 

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PARENTING TEST

I like to know how I’m doing. I like grades, evaluations, benchmarks and milestones. If there’s one difficult thing about parenting (and there are many), it’s that you never know how you are doing. Of the 3 million decisions you make in a day, which were right, and which were the ones that will scar your kids forever.

Fortunately for me, there’s an exam for that. I found this in the tomb of an ancient pharaoh’s mother…and copied all her answers, because obviously she did a bang up job if her son became pharaoh and loved her enough to build her a shrine when she died.

Parenting Exam

WORD PROBLEM:

Create an hourly schedule based on the following guidelines for a two month old baby:

Your baby should eat approximately every three hours, but can start to go longer at night. At this age, babies get three naps per day, ideally at 9, 12, and 3. Naps should be between 45 minutes and 2 hours. The baby should get up when your family gets up, ideally around 7 am. To keep your baby from bad sleeping habits, they should not nurse to sleep. The best way to prevent this is to keep the baby on an eat-play-sleep-repeat schedule. Babies should go to bed no longer than 1 hour after their last nap. Most babies do not sleep a full 12 hours at night by this point. Babies can sleep a full 12 hours at this point.

MULTIPLE CHOICE

Approximately how many decibels are added to ordinary household sounds while your baby is sleeping?

  1. 5-7 decibles
  2. 10-12 decibles
  3. 20-25 decibles
  4. all the decibels

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Thoughts from a Second Time Mommy

Being a second time mom is so great. Not because “I’ve let all that stuff go.” Not because Moira was over-attended, and Asa’s hanging out in a swing all day.

But because I know how to change a diaper. Fast.

I don’t fall to pieces when he cries.

I’m not afraid of the breast pump.

Mostly, being a second time mom is great because I’m not a first time mom. People aren’t rolling their eyes when I explain Asa’s schedule, or our priorities for his development. No one is telling me not to worry about things, or handing me lists of things to worry about.

People treat me like I know what I’m doing, which increases my confidence that I know what I’m doing. Which leads people to treat me like I know what I’m doing.

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Plus, I’m married to a second time dad. That, my friends, is the best surprise of all. First time dad was sweet and helpful. Second time dad is a rock star. He’s not just helpful…he doesn’t need help.

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Something New and Good: An Intense Mom’s Gospel

The last 16.5 months of my life have been amazing. As Moira grows, I grow as her mother.

Some of that growth is fun. She learns new words. My heart melts when she says, “books!” first thing in the morning. She loves to swim. I love to swim with her.

Some of that growth is not fun. She gets new teeth. I learn that going to dinner with her at 8:30pm is a terrible idea, even on vacation. She learns to wait. I learn not to fear meltdowns in public (because, like many other animal instincts, fearing only makes them more aggressive, while not fearing seems to pacify them).

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Somehow, Lewis and I thought that things with a baby would either be happy-sunshine-fun (him) or miserable-scary-impossible (me). For the past 16.5 months so many of our date nights have ended in the same conversation.

“I don’t understand this…intensity that I feel,” I say.

“I just wish you could relax and not let things bother you,” he says.

Then I freak out that I’m freaking out. Obsess on not obsessing. Get intense about not wanting to be an intense mom. Continue reading

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Let’s Not Make this Any Harder than it Needs to Be

I am convinced that if rearing children were easy, the internet would crumble for lack of wholesome content.

And thank goodness, because at the first whimper from Moira “World’s Easiest Baby” McNeel, and I am sprinting to my laptop, or whatever screen I can get to, to figure out what’s wrong, how to fix it, and how to keep it from EVER happening again.

 

So, expert first time mom that I am, I think the world needs to benefit from my profound wisdom, gleaned mostly from the internet and hearsay.

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Here’s the table of contents for my new book on parenting in the age of celebrity pediatricians, Web MD, media obsessions with obesity, internet mom-forums dedicated to gas and sleeping habits, and Amazon consumer reviews:

Title: Let’s Not Make this Harder than it Needs to Be

Chapter One: You are either pregnant, miscarrying, or you have cancer- why you should avoid the internet in your first trimester. Continue reading

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