Mindsets…Yours and Your Childs

As I continue to expand my blog and community Facebook page, I devote a certain amount of time per day perusing through Flipboard and a few of my favorite pages to find things to blog about and share.   One of the articles I came across today was about mindsets and how you speak to your children can encourage them to be successful.  Normally, I would have shared this article on my Facebook page and moved on, allowing for the discussions to begin, but since I’m now focusing harder on getting Henry up to speed, I find myself needing to blog about this article, which I will include at the end of this post.

As many of you know, my children are with me daily, even though they are both in school.  I had the opportunity to put them both on the same days of the week, thereby allowing me some alone time, a chance to recharge, and even accomplish a few things I’ve put on the back burner since becoming a mom (MY BOOK that I’ve desperately attempted to edit over the past 4 years).  My husband and I discussed this option and we decided it best to separate the boys and allow for me to have individual one on one time with them.   So, as I’ve stated before, Henry is a T/Th student, while Davey is a MWF student.

When Davey was 4 months old, I quit my job and decided to be a stay at home mom.  I immediately jumped into my role, taking him to the library for story time, reading to him profusely, quizzing him on animals and their sounds, and even stepping out of my comfort zone to join a playgroup with other moms and their children.   I perused through the internet and pinned like crazy on Pinterest all sorts of ideas to get my child ahead of the game.  I’m not one for wasting time.  I have to be productive in everything I do, even if that productivity is only perceived through my eyes.

By the time, Davey was almost 2, he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program.  I was in the final trimester of my 2nd pregnancy and eager for a little breathing room and to get Davey into a routine that was all for HIM before Henry came along.  He was well ahead of the game when he started.   He was speaking at a 3 year old level, enunciating words, and learning how to grammatically speak correctly.   He knew his letters in order and randomly as well as numbers, shapes, and colors.   I was proud of him and my ability to get him there.

When Henry arrived, for obvious reasons, I was unable to devote all of my time to just one child.   I still worked with Davey, especially during the first couple of months of Henry’s life when he was nothing more than an eating, sleeping, drooling, and pooping mess.   I continued to build upon my foundation I had started with Davey and by the time he started actual preschool, he was ahead of the game, and still is.   As for Henry, I’ve struggled.

It’s hard to teach Henry the same things that I thought Davey, because Davey is always there and he wants to answer the questions.   He wants to please me and he wants to show me that he knows his stuff, displaying his fixed mindset, which discourages Henry from answering my questions.    When I ask Henry what color this is, I get, “I don’t know,” but he really does know.   How do I know this?   Because when I’m NOT trying to sit down and teach him, he’ll pull out a yellow crayon, for example, and say, “mom, I color this sun yellow.”   He knows his stuff.   I just haven’t figured out how to get him to sit with me and let me teach him or to show me that he is just as smart as I know he is and can be.

Henry has been in school for 4 days total so far, meaning that I’ve had 5 days (not counting Labor Day) with which he and I could work on the basic concepts every preschooler should know.   I had started the approach of the fixed mindset when teaching him, since that’s what worked best with Davey, and as a side note, Davey displays characteristics of both mindsets dependent upon what he is doing or working on.  Unfortunately, it appears that the fixed mindset doesn’t work with Henry and he needs to be challenged instead of taught in a basic setting.

He told me this week, while shoving flashcards of letters and numbers across the table, “I not want to do this.”   We’ve bought him a LeapFrog, but he doesn’t use it.   Davey loves ABC Mouse, and so I set Henry up with his own Avatar for it as well.   Nope, he’s not a fan, so I’m finding that I have to step outside of the box and find ways to be interactive and that includes walks in the park where I may take leaves and make a letter “L” out of those leaves.   He then will find rocks and make letters out of those, so you see he knows his stuff.

So, the article that inspired this blog is here:

If You Want Your Kids To Be Successful In The Future, Talk To Them In This Way

It doesn’t go in depth nor is it judgmental, it just helps with finding other ways to encourage your children to be successful.

Of course, dealing with Henry, has given me a new level of respect for teachers as I never really looked at the fact that each child is different (it’s obvious, I know, but I haven’t really considered it) and what these teachers must do and go through to reach each child, to help them to be successful and to learn.

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So Long! Farewell!

first day of school
First Day of School for the 2015/2016 School Year.

“Tomorrow is the last day of school,” I said quietly to my husband last night as we sat on the couch reading books.   We’d just put both boys to bed and were relaxing.   I had attempted to get my mind focused on my book, to get lost in a fictional world, but my mind kept evading the words on the pages.   I kept thinking about the last day of school.

“It makes me sad,” I continued when my husband didn’t say anything to me.

“Why?  Because you’ll have to have them the entire time?” he asked me.  I was shocked and angered by his pointedness.   It hurt, I can’t lie, but I brushed it off as the tears started to roll down my cheeks.

“No.  I’m sad because it’s another chapter that is written and closing.   I’m sad because for some reason it is just hitting me that Davey will be 5 in just 4 short months.”

And there it was.   My oldest, the one who made me a mother, is quickly becoming a big boy, a child no more, someone who won’t need or want mom’s hugs and kisses.   Then there’s Henry, my demon child who’s an angel for everyone else.   Well, he’s officially going into K2 AND on top of that is getting a big boy room!   It’s just too much!

There are times, especially on days like the last few I’ve had, when I wish I had a time machine like Orson Welles wrote about.   I’d want this time machine to take me back to the moments in my children’s lives.   I want to get out and experience it all over again, not just relive it all through videos and pictures.   My husband asked me if this meant I wanted to start over, to have another child?   No.  I don’t want that.   I just want my babies to still be my babies.

As I picked the boys up from school today, I found myself choking back tears and trying to beat down that lump slowly rising in my throat.   Henry’s teacher actually cried when he hugged her.   As a matter of fact, he hugged every teacher and even a few of the kids.   When I spoke to him this morning about it being his last day and not getting to see Levi, Tommy, and Rob again, he asked, “why?” and his little lip quivered.   Shame on me for stirring up that emotion especially since it broke my heart a little and even more so when I saw the sweetness that is my Henry hug all of his friends good bye and exclaim, “have a good summer.”

Davey hugged his teachers, he hugged his classmates, and even managed to squeeze in a hug for another parent.   As he was being placed in the car, one of the teachers asked if he was enrolled to come back next year, because as she said, “I just can’t imagine my school year without this happy face.”

I have my trying days with my boys, days when I want to throw in the towel, days when my patience gets the better of me.  I have days when I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and then shout from the rafters, “I can’t wait for you two to grow up!”   Am I really ready for them to grow up?   Probably not, but I don’t have a say in the matter.

So, as we say, “so long and farewell” to this school year, I want to give a huge thank you to every teacher who has worked with my both of my boys, who have loved them, taught them, and treasured them as much as I do.   I’m excited for K4 & K2 next year, but right now I desperately want to cling to their memories and adventures from this past year.   I’m afraid that the winds of change may rip the balloon string from my fingers, their innocence and childhood floating away.

last day of school
Last day of school for the 2015/2016 school year.

No Regrets

“You want to be a pilot?  Well, are you training to be a pilot?   Are you studying to be one?   Are you doing anything that is helping you to accomplish that dream?  No?  Well, then you’re just living a fantasy.”

Those were the words spoken at a high school graduation I attended on Friday night.   I call myself a writer, but I was just asked by a friend over the weekend how my writing was going.   We don’t see each other that often, since she lives out of town, but we both share a love of writing and a love of books.  Apparently, she is, or I should say was, a reader of my blogs and she noticed I hadn’t written in a while, a month to be exact.   “Well, you do have two boys.  You’re hands are full,” she said eager to make me feel not guilty for not writing.   She’s right, but being a mom is no excuse for not still finding some time for me.

Thursday I listened to a news report on Morley Safer.   The veteran reporter, an original of CBS’ 60 Minutes had passed away.   Being the dork that I am, and always have been, I love news programs and 60 Minutes is one of my favorites.   I had recorded the special from the previous Sunday, which was a story on basically the life of Morley Safer.   I listened to his news reports from Vietnam, how he had once occupied the same desk as Edward R. Murrow (whose reporting from WWII I would love to hear), and got a glimpse of his office at 60 Minutes.   He still used an old typewriter and wrote stories in a manner of Hemingway.   His words were melodic and could put you right into the scene.   You could smell the surroundings just from the words he used.

Years and years ago, my dream was to be a journalist.   I didn’t want to be on television.   No offense to any of my former colleagues, but television reporting is too froo froo.   The story seems to be lost in all of the graphics and commercialization of television.   No, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter.   My idols were Woodward and Bernstein.  I wanted to be a writer, but for various reasons in my life (mostly immaturity and a lack of discipline)I never followed through with that dream, and now it is a regret.

Over the weekend, my husband and I also attended a memorial service for a former friend and teammate.   We were told stories of our friend and how he followed his dreams, at times perhaps with the occasional regret, but he was doing what he loved.   All of this has weighed heavily upon me and while I try to not have regrets, I worry about whether my boys may encounter this.

I go out of my way, sacrificing of myself, to make sure my boys experience everything.   I want them to be able to do everything they want to do, so that one day they don’t wake up and say, “I regret not taking the time.”

For me, I regret not writing for my college newspaper.   I regret not being more involved with the political parties at my school.  I regret not taking the opportunity of a research assistant for a book (which has been published and without me) more seriously.   I regret taking all of these opportunities for granted and thinking to myself, “no worries, Amy, another opportunity will come along.”

My boys are 4 & 2.   Perhaps they are too young for me to worry about taking things for granted.   Perhaps they won’t be like me and just assume that everything will be there tomorrow.   I don’t regret being their mother.   My life may not have been the way I had originally imagined it to be, but it is an exceptional life and not a fantasy.

I may have missed my chance to be the next great journalist or writer.   I may have forfeited an opportunity to write briefs for the State Department, but I have new opportunities presenting themselves daily.

We all have regrets.   Morley Safer said he felt guilty for being gone months on end on assignment while his daughter grew up.   He stopped short of saying he regretted what he had done.   I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be at home with my children as they grow.   I now just need to find a way to still carve out time for me and not beating myself up for what I perceive to be my shortcomings and failures.   They’re all superficial and callous, but they are what make me who I am and there is still a strong sense of determination to at least make my children not experience their regrets to the level I still do

Goodbye, Little Room

For nearly five years, the room has been a home to our boys.  It’s been their room, their nursery.  It’s been the place where they rolled over for the first time, learned to sit on their own, and the bane of my existence on many a sleepless night as my little ones cried out in their first few months in this world.

nursery 6
Starting the nursery.

Five years ago, my husband and I began the process of turning one of our guest rooms into a nursery.   When we set out to create the room, neither one of us were looking for the high end glamour found between the glossy pages of the hundreds of magazines that cater to parents.  No.  We didn’t want something sophisticated or snobbish.   We wanted fun.   We wanted a children’s room, not a miniature version of our room.  We wanted something that screamed, “a child lives in here,” and full of bright colors and shapes.   So, without knowing the sex of our first child, we started on one of our first adventures down parenthood lane.

nursery 5
The finished wall.

We chose a white bed just so we could match it with a dresser and nightstand that we already had.   And then going with the most gender neutral of themes, as well as something I knew my husband would like, we decided to turn the room into a nautical adventure.

Nursery 2

One wall became a sea and sky, with various sea life decals along with the sun, clouds, and a few sea gulls.   From that point forward, we just accessorized and within a few weeks, not only did we know we were having a little boy, but also Captain Davey’s cabin was complete aboard the S.S. Doser.

Nursery 1
The nursery is slowing becoming no more. 

 

From the start, I sat in the floor of the room, breathing in the tranquility and imagining what our lives would be like.   I read to Davey as he kicked in my belly, told him stories about his room, what it was like and how much I knew he would love it.   I would lie on the floor and romanticize about my happy little home and family, my little baby toddling around.   I planned out his first 18 years of life lying on that floor.   It was the greatest room in the house and I never wanted to leave.

Nursery 3

Davey, and my husband and I, enjoyed nearly two years in that room.   Two years of sleepless nights, of stories, of rocks in the rocking chair, of sleeping on the floor while Davey held to my hand just so he would feel safe.  We had two years of more memories than I ever thought possible.  Then Henry came along, and the cabin became the quarters of Captain Henry.  Another round of sleepless nights followed, along with afternoons of his big brother watching over him while he napped.   Dixie even managed to sleep in front of the crib some days, ever the Henry’s protector.   Now, nearly 2 & 1/2 years later, this little square room of bliss and memories, is soon graduating up as we turn the nursery into Henry’s big boy room.

Nursery 4

This afternoon, I began the painstaking process of taking down decorations, removing books, and taking down curtains.   I’ve started patching holes where nails and screws once resided.   With each piece of decoration that came out of the room, my heart hurt just a little.   As I began repairing holes, a tear travelled down my cheek, and then I had to stop.   I had to just take this room in again, a room that has served as nothing more than a place for my boys to sleep, and look at it again.   I had to look at each little corner, each little area of the carpet and just as if they were holograms coming forth from my memories, I could see my boys as babies in this room, and I began to cry.

watching over
Davey the protector.

I never thought it would hit me this hard.   I never thought that removing baby items would hurt the way it has.   Truthfully, I’m a bit nervous as to how I’ll be on Saturday when the crib comes completely down and a new queen size bed sits in its place.  This is a chapter that is quickly closing in our lives.   It saddens me and yet excites me at the same time.   What new adventures will await us?   What sort of mischief will be caused by Henry once he has his big boy room in place?   And just like five years ago, I find myself sitting on the floor of the nursery, it’s pitiful, naked, saddened state, and wondering what will our lives be like next year?

While the walls of the room may still stand tall and strong, I feel as if we are saying, “goodbye, little room.  Just like your inhabitants, it’s time for you to grow.”

I’m Sorry, I Love You, Thank You

Those were the three words I said to my parents Wednesday night when they answered the phone.  I’d just spent the better part of my evening experiencing one of the most overwhelming, intimidating, mentally and physically exhausting excursions since giving birth to my two boys.   What did I do?  I went to Toys R Us to buy their presents from Santa.   Yep, my husband and I accomplished it in one fell swoop and if we hadn’t been beaten up so badly, we’d likely have done a jig, followed by a high five.

As with most things I encounter on a day-to-day basis, I find that I was completely oblivious to level of work my parents put into me and my brother.   As a child, I thought they were so mean, self centered, and slave drivers.  Yes, I did think the last thing especially when I had to mow the lawn on the weekends.   With each new day of me raising our boys, I develop a different level of respect for my parents, for their hard work, their resilience, their strength (both mentally and physically), their heart, and their intelligence.   It doesn’t seem to get easier as the boys are growing, just more complicated.

Wednesday, my husband and I walked into the doors of our local Toys R Us.  I stopped for a moment and looked around.  Skylander toys seemed to be yelling down at me from banners.   Queen Elsa and Princess Anna smiled devilishly at me, their backs against each other.  I could hear them laughing at me while saying under their breath, “oh, here’s a new one.   Let’s see what we can put them through.”

There were Paw Patrol toys, FAO Schwartz, Disney, Thomas the Train, Legos, Avengers, Star Wars, Barbies, bikes, balls, pretend clothing, books and games.   There were so many levels and dimensions of each toy and each brand that I slowly felt my anxiety start wrapping around my heart and lungs, constricting my airways and veins.   This experience was going to be the death of me.  I knew it.  I knew it, even though my husband and I had a plan and a list.  I knew it as I was entering the realm of medieval torture.

My husband grabbed a cart and we immediately went to the Paw Patrol toys and Transformers.   Henry loves Paw Patrol.   You name it and he wants it.   Davey is all about his Transformers and Avengers.   He’s a super hero kind of kid (both literally and figuratively).  And of course, we’re smacked with a double whammy, as Henry’s birthday is 12 days before Christmas.  Yes, I know, we planned poorly.

We looked at our watches, determining that we had exactly 45 minutes to accomplish our task and set out to get it done.   This proved to be a bit too ambitious on our part.   45 minutes is ample time to discuss the absolute atrocity of pricing a chintzy plastic toy $56.   45 minutes is not ample time to get presents for our boys.   It was ludicrous on our part.

After completing our purchases, which nearly required two carts, we set out to collect the boys from church and quickly whisk them away to bed.   While my husband separated out our purchases, making sure that we had both boys taken care of, I placed the phone call to my parents, and what my dad told me made me love them both even more.  Not so much for the gift, but for the fact that they were willing to sacrifice for both me and my brother.   What he told me made me proud, and made me want to be as great as the two of them, although I can only hope to be half as good.

In the early 80s, there was a huge toy phenomenon known as Cabbage Patch Kids.   They were everywhere and yet nowhere.   Every child in the country wanted one, but they flew off the shelves faster than a North American X15 Thunderbird.  I was one of those children desperate for a Cabbage Patch Kid.   On the Thursday before Christmas in 1982, my dad cashed his paycheck and then set out to find a doll.   For those of you unaware, Christmas Day was on Saturday of that year, so he admitted he was a bit delusional, but also desperate as he and my mom had spent the better part of 3 months attempting to get one for Christmas.  He told me that he didn’t care what color, shape, size, or gender my Cabbage Patch Kid was, he just knew that he HAD to get one.  It’s the only thing I’d asked for and he couldn’t bear to face his child without one.   He made his way to Service Merchandise and there were two on the shelf.  He grabbed one as another person was grabbing the other.

As he told me this story, especially the part of not being able to face his child without her gift, I started to tear up.   I get it.  I really do.   Every parent wants their child to be happy.   No parent wants to see their child sad.   Until I had children of my own; however, I had no clue how stressful and yet heartbreaking shopping for them can be.

So as he finished his story and I thought back to my experience only hours before, I could only say these words, “I’m sorry.  I love you.  Thank you.”  I’m sure I’ll be repeating these words to my parents for years to come, especially during this time of year.

Welcome Back, Jasper

My father in law has a “thing”, I suppose you can say, about nicknames for his grandsons.   When Davey was born, he nicknamed him Jasper.   When Henry was born he nicknamed him Higgins.   Now, I know where Higgins comes from…My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins.   Jasper?  Not quite so sure.

So, when Davey became old enough to start speaking, he referred to himself as Jasper when around his Guh Guh (my father-in-law).  It’s endearing for Davey and truthfully I enjoy it.   When my sister-in-law purchased an Elf on the Shelf for Davey years ago, we needed a name for the Elf and Davey immediately jumped on the name Jasper.

Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.
Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.

With the onset of the holiday season and my decorating, Jasper was pulled out of storage and found his way onto the top of our Christmas tree.  Last night, when the boys got back home from church, I pointed Jasper out and explained his importance.  I suppose since Davey is older, he grasps the concept and I now find myself falling prey to the whole “Elf on the Shelf” ideas for this Christmas season.

When putting the boys to bed last night, I read the story about the Elf on the Shelf, substituting in Jasper’s name where relevant.  Davey became extremely excited.  He wanted to know if Jasper would really magically fly away and come back in the morning.   I told him, “of course,” and that Jasper’s sole responsibility is to tell Santa all about how well he’s behaved.

This morning when Davey awoke, he darted off to the bathroom and while on his way excitedly asked if Jasper was in a different place.   My first thought was, “oh crap!  I was supposed to move Jasper!   Crap!  Crap! Crap!”   I told Davey that Jasper was in a new place and that he could find him AFTER he brushed his teeth and put on his clothes, thereby buying me some time to unimaginatively move Jasper.

Where did Jasper end up?  On the elf tree in the kitchen.  I know, very lackluster on my part, but I can already tell I will fail miserably at this.   When the boys came downstairs, Davey immediately found Jasper, and heeding the words from the story, kept his hands behind his back, lest he be tempted to touch Jasper and force him to lose his magical abilities.   As I made breakfast, both boys sat in the floor looking at Jasper on the elf tree.  I asked what they were doing and Davey exclaimed, “seeing if we can watch some of his magic.”

Trying to spy some of Jasper's magic.
Trying to spy some of Jasper’s magic.

After school today, Davey asked me if Jasper saw how nice he was to his classmates and if Jasper would tell Santa.  Once again, I replied, “of course,” but secretly I’m already not liking Jasper.   We’re roughly six weeks away from Christmas.  That’s 42 days in which I will be required to remember to move Jasper each night when the boys go to bed.   That’s 42 days that I’ll have to despise all of you creative moms with your cute Elf on the Shelf pictures and your ability to actually remember to do this.   That’s 42 days of me constantly reassuring Davey that Jasper will not do him wrong.   That’s 42 days of pure hell as I’m frantically trying to remember and come up with great places for Jasper.

I’m only one day into our Elf on the Shelf.  One day, and I’m already despising the little flying pixie.   Stay tuned to see if I can manage to keep up the fiasco.

Criss Cross Apple Sauce

When I first became a stay at home mom, I immediately began taking Davey to our local library.   I wanted to have interaction with other adults and for Davey to have interaction with other children.  It was a wonderful experience as it allowed me the opportunity to meet other stay at home moms, and we even formed a playgroup that met weekly outside of the library.   It was an absolutely wonderful thing.

As with most things in life, people grow (children more specifically) and responsibilities become more and more burdensome.   Our playgroup fizzled apart after about a year when moms were having other babies and unable to attend or were moving, as was the case with two of the moms.   It was a sad day for me as this became such a wonderful thing for both Davey and me.

With the introduction of Henry into our lives, I found it hard to maintain our once hectic schedules and I stopped taking Davey to the library.   I soothed my guilt by saying that he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program and that was plenty of social interaction for him, but by doing that I neglected to let Henry have his own thing.  I didn’t take Henry to the story time at the library because it was geared for little ones (his age) and met on the days when Davey wasn’t at Mother’s Morning Out which meant he would be with us and thereby bored with the baby stuff.   So, Henry’s social interaction fell to the wayside.  I firmly believe that my lack of getting him involved with programs the way I did with Davey is the reason he’s so clingy to me when he attends the same Mother’s Morning Out program Davey did.

Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.
Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.

Yesterday, I decided to brave the elements…not the cold, but the “elements” of taking two boys to a story time at the library.   I hemmed and hawed about it.  I’ve gotten into my own routine, my own comfort level, but I need to step out of that and step out of it quick for Henry’s sake.   The story time consisted of books about fire trucks and fire safety.   There were even firemen and fire trucks for the boys to explore.

As soon as I walked into that same room of previous years’ story times, I had an immediate twinge in my stomach, twinge of regret as I didn’t know how my two boys were going to react.   When I originally began story time, Davey was a free spirit.  He was the child who never say with his mother, was always running around, liked to sing the loudest, touch everything, climb on other mommies, and just not focus at all.   He was the child who refused to sit still.   I was always jealous of the other moms.  I would come home and tell my husband how Davey would run around, how I felt he was getting nothing from story time, and how frustrating it was for me.   Henry is becoming the same way, but Davey?  Well, let’s just say this mommy was pleasantly surprised at how well her big boy is growing.

Davey immediately sat down in my lap, eagerly listening to stories and rhymes.   Henry?  Well, he was a Davey of years past.   He ran around, screamed, tried to take sippy cups, climbed on chairs, took books.   He was my terror, the one who would not allow me to enjoy the program with all the other moms.  Davey; however, decided to join the circle of other kids.  He sat criss cross apple sauce the entire time.  He sang the songs, listened intently to the stories, and even participated in the “stop, drop, and roll” with the firemen.   If I hadn’t been chasing after Henry and trying to quarantine him, I’m likely to have sat in the room, mouth agape at the astonishment of how much my oldest has grown.   He can sit quietly, albeit for just a short time, but he can do it.

Henry was able to sit still for just a split second.   Long enough for me to get this picture.
Henry was able to sit still for just a split second. Long enough for me to get this picture.

As I sat discussing the days events with my husband, he remarked, “remember how you never thought Davey would sit still?”   Yes, I do remember that.   I suppose that since I survived Davey and his terrible twos, then I’m capable of doing the same with Henry.   Maybe in two more years, I’ll be amazed at his ability to sit criss cross apple sauce as well.

10 Things This Stay at Mom No Longer Wants to Hear

Every. Single. Day.  I am bombarded by questions, comments, advice, and judgment from other people because I am a stay at home mom.  Every. Single. Day.   It never ceases, it’s like a constant barrage of words pelting my entire body.  And of course there are blogs and articles about being a working mom vs. a stay at home mom, which is better and which is worse.   This morning, I read a blog on Scary Mommy that had the 12 things a working mother never wants to hear.  First off, let me give props to you working moms out there.  It’s tough work.  I’ve been there and done that.   Secondly, let me also just give props to ALL the moms in the world, whether they be working moms or stay at home moms.   You, WE, are all rock stars!

Back to this blog I read.   Working moms get a lot of grief.  I know this.  On occasion, I’ve thought negatively about my fellow working moms whether it be because I’m jealous of their adult interactions, having a life OUTSIDE of their kids, or because I just think their being selfish (yes, I have thought this.  Shame on me, I know!)  After reading this blog, it got me to thinking about the things I, a stay at home mom, don’t want to ever hear.

1.  Oh, I’m sorry.  You must have lost your job.  First off, don’t just automatically assume that since I’m staying home with my kids, it means I lost my job.   Some of us actually chose to leave our Corporate America jobs.   I went back to work when my maternity leave with Davey was up.  He was six weeks old.  I turned in my notice when he was four months old.  I saw nothing productive out of my day while I was working.   Instead all I could think about was what I was missing out on with my son.  I would rise at 5 to shower and get ready, feed Davey at 6 and while my husband dressed him and fixed our breakfast, I would finish getting ready, pack Davey’s diaper bag and drop him off at daycare no later than 7:10, go to work, leave work at 5, pick Davey up at 5:30 and then would have maybe 2 hours with him before he had to go to bed.  2 hours!  That wasn’t acceptable for me.   I can always go back to work, maybe not in my chosen profession, but I can’t go back and make memories.   So, no I CHOSE to leave my job.

2.  You must have a degree in Home Ec.  Yes, I do hear this.  Do they even offer Home Economics anymore?  I never took it in high school.   And just for your information I have an Associates Degree in English, a Bachelors Degree in Speech and Communication Studies & Political Science (I double majored) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

3.  I bet you have time to get caught up on all your soap operas.  Yes, I do hear this one as well.  Who watches these anymore?  I don’t even have time to sit down and watch the news in the mornings, much less watch a soap opera.   When the boys are napping, I’m usually doing some sort of housework or maybe squeezing in some writing time.

4.  I bet you get to workout all the time.  Yes, I do go to the Y, so I do get in some sort of an exercise routine.   I don’t do it just for me, as the Y offers all sorts of programs for children.   Davey flips out if we don’t go on a Wednesday, since that is his exercise day, but I don’t work out all the time.  Anyone who’s seen me knows that I don’t, but I am active with both of my boys, playing soccer or tee ball in the backyard, going on bike rides, and hiking, but my boys are with me 90% of the time I’m getting in any sort of exercise.

5.  Your children will be socially awkward.  My children will NOT and are NOT socially awkward.   That is because I have chosen from the start to constantly have them at various events, from the library, to the children’s museum, to play dates.  I give up my comforts of wanting to just stay at home, so that they can have the interaction they need.  Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean we stay home 24/7.  I’m very conscientious about keeping my boys active socially.

6.  Studies have shown that children thrive in an atmosphere when both parents are working.  I went to daycare and look how I turned out.    Studies are coming out EVERY day.  There’s always a new one.  This one touts exercising while pregnant will increase your child’s IQ when he’s 5.  Another says that smelling a person’s farts will increase your life span by 6 years.  Studies are gibberish in most cases, a waste of time and money.  The studies focusing on curing cancers and AIDS and other medical impediments, those are worth the energy to be concerned about  Studies are subjective and can NOT be used in every situation.   I went to daycare, too, and I turned out just fine, but I want something more for my kids.

7.  Your husband must make a LOT of money.  Yes, my husband has a wonderful job and it is his job that allows me to be a stay at home mom, but we’ve made sacrifices.  We don’t drive luxury cars, I don’t own luxury clothing, we don’t go out to eat at fancy restaurants.   We had to change our lifestyle in order to accommodate us living off of one salary.  It was hard at first, but we’ve made it work and my kids don’t want for anything.   Stop assuming we’re rich just because I don’t work by my own choice.

8.  I could never stay at home with my kids.  You could, if your circumstances allowed for it.   Some moms must work in order to help keep food on the table and the kids clothed.  Others do it because they just don’t think they could stay home with the kids.   Look, it’s not easy.   I lose my patience a LOT, I mean A LOT!  Some days I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.   Some days I feel there has been no sense of accomplishment.  I lay my head down some nights and think, “what did I accomplish today?”  Being at home is hard work.  It’s not easy, but if your situation allowed for it, you COULD do it.  I have faith in you.

9.  I bet you have all the time in the world to write that novel you’ve been working on.  As most of you who read my blog know, I sometimes go for days, even weeks without writing a blog because I just don’t have the time for it.  I do most of my writing either early in the morning before everyone is up or during that 30 minutes of time in the evenings when my husband is having his one on one time with the boys.   After that, my husband and I spend a couple of quiet hours together.  Writing isn’t my priority right now.

10.  Must be nice to get to sleep in every morning.  You know, you don’t have to get up and go to work.  No, you’re right, I don’t have to leave the house to go to work, but I still treat my role as a stay at home mom as a job, a career choice.   I get up every morning by 6 (I do have the occasional morning when I get to sleep to maybe 7), do my writing, have some coffee, get dressed and get breakfast ready.   I find if I don’t keep a routine to my day, including rising in the morning, then I’m setting myself and my boys up for failure.   I don’t let my boys sleep past 7:30 most mornings because I want them already on the routine of needing to get up Monday through Friday.   They’ll be going to school soon, after all.

I could add more to this list, but really I don’t have the time, nor do I think many of you have the time to read more.   Look, we all have this chip in our head, a little switch that turns our filters on and off, but for some reason it seems to malfunction when talking to mothers.   I don’t know if we’re just trying to make small talk, but if this is how it turns out, then just don’t do it.   Stop passing judgment on me and my life just because you either a.) don’t understand it or b.) just think it’s the wrong route to take.

My boys are both very smart, testing above their age groups.   They love each other and other kids.   They’re well mannered and two of the sweetest boys you could ever meet.   Could they be this way if I were a working mom?  Sure, but I don’t think our relationships would be this great.

Once Upon a Time…

When I was Davey’s age, I had very few stuffed animals in my bedroom. I did have toys, but a good portion of them were gender neutral, with the exception of a doll or two here and there. At night, I slept with a night light and was allowed to have a flashlight, but I never slept with any stuffed animals or dolls. I was always allowed to take a one item with me to bed. That item was a book, which is what the majority of my room consisted of as a child.

Just a couple of our bookshelves.
Just a couple of our bookshelves.

When I became a mother, it was a goal and intention to read as much as possible to my children. I started out reading to Davey when he was still in utero. I would sit in his bedroom, cradle my belly, and read one of the many children’s books I had. There were even times when, while taking a lunch break from work as I was working when pregnant with Davey, I would jet over to the local Barnes and Noble, purchase a couple of books and then sit in my car and read to my baby.

Reading was instilled within me at an early age. I blame that in part on my dad, who does not have a college education, but is one of the two smartest men I know (my husband is the other). My dad reads like crazy. He built bookshelves for my parent’s house, bought bookshelves for other rooms, and lately just keeps a pile alongside his recliner. When he finishes reading one, he immediately picks up another. As a child, we lived in the country. We didn’t have a local library, but instead had a bookmobile. On the days the bookmobile would come to the local Winn Dixie (a grocery store chain nearly obsolete), my dad would make a point of leaving work early so he could get me there in the small window of time available. My very first “big person” book I read was at the age of 7 and it was a biography on Helen Keller. It was considered an adult book and while I didn’t know all the words, my dad sat with me every night and helped me read.

These days I don’t have as much time as I used to when it comes to reading books. We are; however, trying to fix that by getting rid of our Directv. Davey is now at the age where we read chapter books to him. We started him out at Christmas with the “How to Train your Dragon” series. We’re currently on book two of that one, but we’ve decided to go a step further.

Reading with Daddy when he was 6 months old.
Reading with Daddy when he was 6 months old.

Quite a few years ago, my sister-in-law bought my husband a copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Harry Potter companion book written by J.K. Rowling. At that point in his life, he’d read all of the Harry Potter books, but this one just didn’t appeal to him, so it sat on our bookshelf. A few days ago, I decided to pull it down and my husband has started “killing two birds with one stone” or so to say. We’re now using the opportunity to read some of the books to Davey that we’ve always wanted to read. The past couple of nights have consisted of ole Beetle the Bard, and once my husband is finished reading a chapter, he says to me, “I’m enjoying this book.”

Almost 2.
Almost 2.

Well, naturally I wanted to hop on board with this. Much like my husband, I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books and I can’t wait for Davey to read those, but the books I haven’t read is the Percy Jackson series. My husband began reading those years ago and even encouraged me to read them, but I had to prioritize. There were, and still are, just too many books I want to read. So, I’ve decided that I can read Percy Jackson to Davey and it’s like I’m reading a book myself. I usually have at least 3 books going at one time (a Bible Study, a non fiction, and a fiction, with at least one of the books being on my Kindle), so this hasn’t been a big deal.

A little over one.
A little over one.

Last night, I read Beedle the Bard to Davey (his daddy was out of town) and the put him to bed. I came back downstairs to relax and read a little by the fire when I heard movement upstairs. I climbed the stairs, quietly seething that Davey was not sleeping as he should have been. When I opened the door to his room, he wasn’t in his bed. Instead he was in his tent with Beedle the Bard, a flashlight, and about 8 stuffed animals which he had placed in descending order, tallest to shortest. I listened quietly as he sat in his tent. I could hear the crisp turning of a page and Davey exclaiming, “You see Flepper (his spotted Leopard), on this page it says this and on this page the witches are walking with the knight.”

2 & 1/2 years old.
2 & 1/2 years old.

He’s only three, so of course he wasn’t actually “reading” the words, but it brought a smile to my face that something of me was being passed on to this child, considering everything else about him is all his daddy.

Enjoying a good book at 2 & 1/2
Enjoying a good book at 2 & 1/2

This morning, we sat on the couch as Henry napped, and took one of his age appropriate books. I’ll give my child this…he is learning words. He knows a decent amount of phonics and he has an awesome memory. So, he would read the words “the”, “is”, “and”, “or”, and would attempt to sound out other words. It truly made my heart burst with pride. Now I just have to find the same amount of time to devote to Henry so he can develop my same love.

One of many bookshelves in our house.
One of many bookshelves in our house.

Now I’m off to order a few more books and continue with Percy Jackson.