Success and Pressure

Let’s talk about success in today’s society, with our children, with ourselves, and with our ability to emulate and imitate the Lord’s merciful acts. 

Technology has become quite my friend, just as easily as it has become my enemy.   While I rely on technology, and more specifically social media, to keep me up to date with the news of the world, I also find it to be quite stressful especially where my children are concerned.  

Podcasts are one of my favorite things to listen to.  I enjoy getting snippets of news via NPR podcasts, or listening to 60 minutes while I’m doing laundry or the dishes.   In a lot of cases, I’m listening to news specifically through my Amazon Echo and Echo Dot while I read and write blogs, pay bills, and finish up any writing projects I’m working on.   It’s a different level of multi-tasking, than what my parents were used to.   One podcast I enjoy listening to is Focus on the Family.   In most cases, they have short little 20 or 25 minute devotionals and/or anecdotes about family and living a Christian life.  Last week, one of the podcasts focused on success and pressure.   They asked the question, “How do you define success?”   And obviously, in today’s society success is defined in a more superficial and at times egotistical way as opposed to a spiritual one.   So, today I wanted to discuss that in this blog. 

Many parents will say their child is successful if he or she gets into a good school.   If he or she wins the MVP trophy in soccer, scores the most goals in basketball, wins the geography bee, the spelling bee, is the valedictorian, or makes the President’s list.   I don’t want to take away from these parents, because they are right…their children are successful, but they’re falling short at times in the way the Lord asks us to be.   The Bible tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, to live for something bigger than what is on the surface.  

So many parents these days have created a thin line between a child doing his or her best and satisfying the egotistical needs and desires of his or her parents.   Ok, ok, friends, I know what you’re saying to me, “let he who doesn’t sin cast the first stone.”   It is not my place to judge or to “preach” because I am just as guilty.  For any of you who follow me on Facebook, you’ll see my often times shameless posts about my children completing tasks, some of those tasks are completed at an earlier age than their peers.   That is my pride shining through and some could call it my gloating, and this is where I state that technology and social media, specifically, are my worst enemy.   They encourage me to not focus on success in a Christian manner.

How many of you out there post photos of your children online?   I’d be willing to bet that every one of you who reads my posts and have children, do this.   You’re proud of your children and you want to share it with the world.   I get it, I do, but does it add too much pressure on us as parents to encourage (and some of you go a few levels above encouragement) our children to succeed?   Are our children becoming an appendage of our own superficial egos?   Think about that for a moment. 

This past Sunday, my pastor discussed “The Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises of God” from 2 Peter 1:5-11 and it correlated a lot with how we determine success, or at least I was able to relate it in my Christian struggles to be a good mom and mold my children into successful adults.   I want to look at two particular passages from 2 Peter 1. 

“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 1:10-11

Peter wrote a second letter because false teachers were troubling the church and disturbing the faith of some by their heresy, immorality, and greed.   Perhaps I’m seeing a parallel in what Peter found and how we, Christians and non-Christians, are determining what makes our children successful.   We are placing realistic and un-realistic requests and stresses upon our children, and why are we assuming these are the only ways to be successful?  Thanks to social media, the competitive factor amongst parents has increased.   Our children’s success, or lack thereof, becomes a direct reflection upon how well we are raising our children.   We can be seen as failures.   We are labeled as dead beats and disconnected parents.  We allow ourselves to dwell upon a shallow view of success.   I struggle daily to make sure that what I’m conveying to my children as “success” isn’t something that is just defined by our society. 

So, what was my point with the post?   To encourage all of you to relax a bit, to let go, to not pin your child’s goals upon what Nosey Neighbor’s kids down the street are doing.   God created us in His image and He has a higher purpose for us and our children than what society leads us to.   This is not to encourage an indolent nature with our children, but continue to guide them and influence what true success is.   And just like Peter says in 2 Peter 1: 5-8,

                “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

And isn’t that how true success should be defined? 


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.

Quicker Than We Know It

For the past few days, it’s been agony in our house.   We’re back home from our two week vacation to Rochester and trying to get back into the swing of things.  I’m not sure what our problem has been, and by “our” I really mean my children, but to say they’re not getting along is an understatement.   The past few days I’ve found myself contemplating Baileys in my morning coffee, job searching, and even just running away from the house, leaving the boys to fend for themselves.

Yesterday I counted the days (including weekends) until school starts back for my children.  It was 46 days, so 45 today.   I’ve played around with the idea of creating a countdown board, one to help me through the days, but I thought it might depress the boys.  Apparently I don’t know my children as well as I thought.   When I told both of them how much longer they had until school started, I was met with cries of “that’s way far off” and “I don’t know if I can wait that long.”  Huh?  My kids are actually looking forward to school.  Imagine that!  Perhaps I will create that countdown board after all.

It’s as if the school seemed to know that I was desperate for the summer to be over as I received packets for both boys in the mail yesterday.  It’s your standard “welcome” packet complete with photography waiver, PTA dues, calendars, and volunteer opportunities.  Excitedly, I tore into the packets and perused through the calendar.   So much will be going on this year and I can’t wait for the adventures in learning to start.

This afternoon, I decided to begin work on the packets, first thing being to take the calendar and log in all essential days onto my personal calendar.   For the things I felt my husband needed to be a part of, I emailed a calendar invite to him so he could add it to his schedule.   I was feeling accomplished and for the first time all week, I’ve felt normal again, and able to breathe, but then things started to unravel as I continued adding events.

In September, there are two separate Donuts with Dad days that my husband will need to attend with BOTH boys.   As I entered those events and hit “ENTER” the next event popped up on my screen…Davey’s 5th Birthday.  My first born will be 5 this year.   5!!!!   Thanks, Google!   Way to give my heart a true smack for being so ungrateful.

I continued on into December, with another shouting from my calendar of “Henry’s 3rd Birthday”.  How is this possible?   How are my children going to be 5 &3?  How are these days going by so quickly and yet so painfully slow as well?

Fast forward a few months on my calendar and we’re into April when Davey begins testing for kindergarten readiness.   TESTING!!!!!  Gah!  I don’t know whether to be excited, happy, nervous, scared crapless, or worried.  Actually, I know what I am…I’m sad.   My first baby is growing up and will no longer be in preschool.  He’ll be in school, all day, every day.   He’ll have lunch without me.   He’ll spend six hours of every day without me.   He’ll have a life away from me, and as much as I’m exhausted with the two of them this summer, I’m saddened by how quickly life is moving for my little family.   Even when I’m so overwhelmed with the two of them and all I can think about is how quickly the day will be over, deep down I’m hurting.

Lately Facebook has been inundating me with memories of Davey.  There have been pictures of his first steps, the first days we were together as I became a stay at home mom.   There are memories of his silly faces, his dances, his “no pants Tuesday”, imitating daddy, cuddling with Dixie, eating breakfast on the back porch, learning to write, Facetime with Daddy for breakfast, dinner and bedtime (since daddy used to travel so much) and “reading” silently in his room.    It’s as if Facebook is insync with my moods and knows that I need these reminders even when I’m desperate for some peace, for some time away from my children.

People tell me I’ll miss these days all the time.   They’ve been telling me that for years, but I’ve chosen not to listen, to tune out their “all knowing” voices.   I’ve put my head down and found a way to plow through each day with my boys and just hope for the end of the day.   I tell these people they’re nuts, that I’ll “never miss these days,” but I will.  We all know I will.   Heck, I’m already missing the days when Davey had his little baby voice as he was learning to speak.   I already miss the days when I could pick him up and cuddle up with him.   I already miss the days of his chubby little munchkin legs (he’s begun to take after me and is getting tall and skinny).   There is so much my heart already hurts over, things that have long since gone.

It’s a shame it takes things like Facebook memories and school welcome packets to zap me out of my summer blues with the boys.


Creating Healthy Friendships

Being a mom is tough stuff. We keep crazy schedules, maintain households, and serve as the nurturing bond for our family (most of us do, anyways). Some of us work outside of the homes, which can only add more “crazy” to an already crazy existence. Trying to squeeze everything into the small 24 hours a day allotted to us can be a bit overwhelming and some days just impossible. I don’t need to describe a possible schedule, you’re all living it. So, what, you ask, is the purpose of this blog? Some of you may not even have the time to squeeze in for reading this blog. Time, time, time…it’s all subjective. One thing that we should have time for is friendships. When some of us hardly have time to spare for our significant other, how are we to create healthy friendships? It’s not impossible, but it is hard.

First, let me start with a blog I read the other day. It was titled, “The 3 Second Pause That Can Save a Morning & Spare Some Time.” I shared it on my Facebook page, Dreaming of Mommyhood, but if you haven’t read it, please take a moment to indulge yourself. Here is the link:

After reading that blog, I found that I too have the same problem at times as Hands Free Mama. There are days and instances when I feel that I don’t have the time to do a 3 second pause, but I need to find that time. I need to find that time if for no other reason than the sheer fact that it will make ME feel better.

Sure, sure we all cast away ourselves when we become mothers. Suddenly things that seemed so important, instantly seem trivial and not worth our efforts. We find ourselves forced into trying to be a vision of this “perfect mother”, perhaps the June Cleavers of the world. These days it’s virtually impossible, but what is possible is that 3 seconds. In that 3 seconds we have the opportunity to become our nurturing selves again. In those 3 seconds, we have the ability to feel good about ourselves which leads me to creating healthy friendships.

In this day and age, it’s hard to maintain friendships. I have some friends, who’ve maintained close friendships with people with whom they were friends for over 20 years! 20 years! That’s crazy! I don’t have friends from 20 years ago. In most cases, these friendships are healthy and are conducive to their lifestyles, especially when they all have kids together. They can create weekend outings with each other and their families. I know one group who have a “mountain weekend” together every year. It’s a wonderful time for all of them, spouses and children, included. It’s a healthy friendship.

Thanks to the era of social media, we can all be “friends”. It’s my way of keeping in contact with my friends from high school and college. It’s great and easy, because I can see what they’re up to without actually investing the time into a conversation that would tear me away from something else. Is that healthy? NO! Truthfully, some of them I no longer want to invest the time with and I’m actually thankful that we have other ways than the telephone call, but maybe that’s what we need.

I can remember my mother sitting in the kitchen talking to her sister-in-law, her best friend, in the evenings after dinner. It was just the two of them. They were able to hear the inflections in each other’s voices. They were able to convey their true feelings, and they were able to have a friendship, one that was healthy especially when asking for advice was broached. Social media doesn’t allow for this type of interaction anymore.

Social media is great at allowing us to be a bit nastier to each other, to take away some humanity at times. Hey, I’m not bashing social media. It is my livelihood and allows me an outlet, this blog. Social media; however, has allowed “friends” and strangers to become your worst enemy, your greatest nagger, your grandest criticizer.

The thought for this blog originally stemmed from a post on Facebook from Parents Magazine. On it, there was a picture of Kelly Clarkson’s daughter with a set of head phones over her ears with the caption of her “dancing” to mommy’s music. It was an absolutely adorable picture, but it was met with harsh comments on Clarkson’s mothering abilities. Most were upset that a child was wearing headphones, and the remarks were just mean.

What a world we’ve become when we, as mothers, instead of bonding together for the betterment of our children and society, choose to tear each other apart and sit in judgment of each other. Hey, I’ve been guilty of it, and on extreme cases i.e. a mother leaving a child in a locked car with over 100 degree weather, I’m still guilty of it…that passing judgment. Why do we do this to each other and more over, why do we allow others to do it to us?

I asked my mother about criticism, healthy and unhealthy, she received while as a mom. She said it was rare. The occasional family member would pipe in from time to time, but it’s nothing like today. The world knows your every move today and feels that it’s their job to chime in with some advice, warranted or not. She brought up my blog. Instead of wearing my emotions on my sleeve, I wear them on the world wide web. I open myself up for the criticism. And she’s right, but it shouldn’t be this way.

This all leads me to what further pushed me to write this blog, and that was Tuesday night’s Bible Study which was titled “Healthy Friendships”. The study opened with this passage, “A friends loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17. It went on to discuss the unhealthy friendships we create. There are times when I consider cutting off all friends and going at motherhood alone (not without my husband, though). There are times when I think I don’t want to invest in friendships. They’re tiresome, judgmental, gossipy, and all around unhealthy. Perhaps that just some of the friends I choose and I should purge them from my life.

In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, the teacher states: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”

The Lord never intended for us to be alone, otherwise he’d never created Eve for Adam. Of course, I don’t believe the Lord ever intended for us to be as condescending and nasty to each other as we’ve become. The Lord created people to serve Him, and while in serving Him to create a fellowship with each other. Today’s “fellowship” is so skewed that there’s hardly a true definition which we’re all living up to.

Who are your friends and are they healthy for you? If you only count the ones on Facebook, then you’re not having a true, healthy friendship. We all need to find the time to be friends to each other. We all need to find a way to help each other when we fall down. We all need to find a way to go back to the days of our parents and investing time with a friend.

I encourage you all to take that time to make friendships. A strong, healthy friendship can encourage you in your 3 seconds. Get outside, be adventurous and open-minded. Be loving and compassionate. Find that friend who complements you and build each other up. Be a friend and find a friend. It could save your life and your sanity.

“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless – a miserable business.” Ecclesiastes 4:8.

Santa Elf Davey

Well before my first child was ever born, I’d already jumped on the “Elf on the Shelf” bandwagon. I’d seen a co-worker bring one in and I thought, “what a marvelous idea! I wish we’d had something like this when I was a kid.” I wanted to purchase one terribly, but I didn’t have a child to give one to.

When I became pregnant with Davey, Elf on the Shelf was one of the first things I wanted to purchase. My sister-in-law beat me to the punch, having purchased one for me, her mom, and herself (in order for Davey to really buy into this, we had to prove that the elf really was everywhere he would be). Davey was 3 months old for his first Christmas, so I packed up the Elf on the Shelf and decided I would wait a few years to pull him back out.

Santa Elf Davey hanging out in the lamp.
Santa Elf Davey hanging out in the lamp.

Davey is now 3 and in preschool. He’s a lover of books, all books, any books, every book (makes this book loving mama happy), so I thought why not dust off the Elf on the Shelf and read the story. Plus, with the addition of a walking Henry, Davey is becoming a little naughty and territorial. I needed something to help keep him in line.

I told Davey a little bit about the elf, I read him the book, and told him we needed to come up with a name. I assumed the name would be Jasper, just because Davey’s grandfather calls him that (no clue why) and Davey must name everything else “Jasper”. This didn’t happen. Davey wanted to name him “Santa Elf Davey”, not just “Davey”, but we MUST say the entire name, otherwise he starts having a stage 5 meltdown and the toxic radiation from one of those could compete with Chernobyl.

That first day, Santa Elf Davey hung out in our Christmas tree. He was high enough up for Davey not to touch him, after all Santa Elf Davey could lose his “magic” if Davey touches him, and Santa Elf Davey had the perfect view of the room. All the better to see you with, my dear. Which leads me to the “creepy” factor of this elf “watching” my child. Truthfully, the elf creeps me out more than he does Davey.

Santa Elf Davey on the mantle.
Santa Elf Davey on the mantle.

For years, I’ve watched Pinterest and Facebook feeds. I’ve seen pictures and read blogs about how all these wonderful moms (not me) find creative ways to place their elves. Some of them are ridiculous. For example, I’ve seen pictures of some elves who’ve left messes with flour, sugar, and even toothpaste and I’m led to question some of these moms. Don’t you want your child to behave and doesn’t the mess just encourage the same from your child?

This morning I read a blog from another mother about her Elf on the Shelf experience and it pushed me to write about my own. Much like Tabatha Kammann from the blog, I’ve felt the guilt of being a not so clever mom bearing down on my shoulders. I pulled out Santa Elf Davey a week and a half ago. That’s 11 days. And in those 11 days, Santa Elf Davey has only moved from his spot 5 times and they haven’t exactly been clever. This has prompted Davey to inquire about just how authentic Santa Elf Davey really is, after all the story does state that he will be in a different spot each morning. I haven’t exactly been following through on my end.

Santa Elf Davey in his original spot.
Santa Elf Davey in his original spot.

There’s a lot of unnecessary pressure with Elf on the Shelf, thanks to all you Overachieving Moms. I struggle just to remember to brush my teeth in the mornings, so how could you possibly expect me to remember to move Santa Elf Davey?

Thanks to Tabatha’s wonderful blog this morning, I was reminded that Santa Elf Davey has sat atop that surround sound speaker for 3 days (and the speaker idea was thanks to my husband remembering to move the darn elf). Davey’s already asked me once if Santa Elf Davey perhaps didn’t go see Santa on Sunday, the day Davey was his naughtiest. No, Davey, he told Santa. And Davey responds, “Mama, is he for real? He hasn’t moved in days.”

When you have a moment, check out Tabatha’s blog.

Take a Look Through My Lens

Three years ago when Davey was about 9 months old, my husband and I bought a new camera. This isn’t just your easy, point and shoot camera. This is a Nikon 5100 complete with interchangeable lenses, filters, and manual operation. It’s not your high end camera, but it’s a little bit more advanced that the pocket sized digital cameras.

I’ve always had a fascination with photography. I’m mesmerized by it, by the things that the lens sees, things that perhaps the human eye doesn’t. Yeah, I know it’s all basically the same thing, but yet there are things captured on film that may never register with the naked eye. I love how each picture tells a story, the ones that are black and white to the ones of the squirrel sitting on the ground nibbling at an acorn. I’m intrigued by how a camera can pick up little nuances in a person’s face, moments that are so fleeting, that you may not have caught them just in passing. I adore the artistic side of photography and I find myself jealous of those who have this artistic ability that I can’t seem to master.

I’ve read books upon books, blogs upon blogs. I’ve taken classes, bought software and yet I’m still not as good as I was hoping to be. According to a class I took a couple of years ago, you really need to have a mathematic mind in order to take good pictures. I don’t have that, so I guess I’m screwed. I am; however, still eager to capture the growing moments in my boys’ lives. I still have this desire to try to take the beautiful pictures, the ones that could possibly be the winning picture in an amateur photo contest. I know I have this ability in me somewhere deep down, but unfortunately my boys don’t care to help me expand upon this.

Today was a beautiful fall day in the South. The temperature hovered around 55 degrees, with a bright sunlight that seemed to cast shadows on the ground and brighten up the beautifully changing leaves. Everyone was out today especially at our Falls Park in Greenville, SC. Before I go much further, let me take a moment to offer a quick plug for one of Greenville’s greatest attractions.

Falls Park is on the Reedy River. It is located between Main Street and a section once known as Camperdown Way. Years ago, the City tore down the bridge that was known as Campderdown Way to create a park that would highlight Greenville’s central attraction…The Reedy River. A pedestrian suspension bridge was built over the Reedy Falls, named the Liberty Bridge, which provides a wonderfully majestic view of the falls and the river. A park was created around the bridge, with fountains, open play areas, swings, and an outdoor amphitheater. A restaurant was also opened at the entrance of the park with sweeping views of the Reedy River. If you ever come to Greenville, please make sure to take a moment and visit this part of our city.

So, back to my autumn day at Falls Park. I thought it would be the perfect day to take some pictures of the boys. I had grand visions of well behaved children, holding hands as they walked across the bridge, stopping occasionally to look over and see the falls. What wonderful photo opportunities I would have! I’m sorry, but did I fall and smack my head at some point? What ever gave me the idea that I could perform a photo shoot with my boys? One of which acts like the Spawn of Satan and the other one who seems to be an aardvark, inhaling everything he comes across.

Yes, my boys…the bull in the china shop, otherwise known as Davey, and my impetuous taste tester who puts EVERYTHING in his mouth, otherwise known as Henry. Why would I have ever thought this was a good idea?

When Davey is outside he acts like a caged animal. Once the doors are open he runs like he’s been caged his entire life. Henry wants to keep up with him until he sees that bright leaf that has caught his attention and then he wants to chew on it, because apparently that’s his only sense…taste!

I spent an hour and a half yelling at Davey to slow down, stop running, look where you’re going, don’t throw rocks at the ducks, get away from that pigeon, don’t climb on the rocks, get away from that water, don’t jump in that puddle, until it finally culminated with him splashing around in the water fountains that are dyed purple for Alzheimer’s awareness. Yes! His hands are purple, almost the color of the toilets on the planes! He looks like he’s been shoving his hands into an airplane toilet!

Now, if I were a photographer and not a mom, I would have thought this cute and just snapped away with my camera, digitally marking all of this excitement, but I’m not a photographer, I’m a mom. I am a mom who just bought her boys matching outfits to wear for said photo shoot. A mom who is so exasperated with the oldest for ruining his brand new clothes that I almost felt like leaving him in the park!

He’s a strong-willed child, people say. He’s just a little boy, they remind me. He’s only three, they implore. Me? I just say he’s a little demon.

How did my photo shoot turn out, you ask? Horribly. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m depressed, because I’ll see all these other pictures on Facebook of my friend’s children who look so picture perfect. And I’ll think to myself, why do I bother? Then tomorrow will be here and I’ll have another “brilliant” idea to document the boys’ lives, and we’ll start this whole insidious cycle again. I’m a glutton, what can I say?

Once I take the time to calm down and actually review the pictures I’ve taken, you’ll find them on my Facebook page, Dreaming of Mommyhood.

Happy Halloween

Last year was easily my most stressful Halloween. I spent weeks (should have spent months) planning what Davey would be. I read blogs, watched lifestyle programs, and saw Facebook posts about all of the original ideas so many parents had. Many were making costumes. Some were choosing themes for their families, and I was frantic to make Davey into a Minion from Despicable Me. It didn’t happen, especially after I couldn’t locate a yellow hooded sweatshirt, and the overalls I was going to put him in no longer fit. My goal was to come out cheap and be as homemade as possible. I couldn’t even find yellow paint for his face. Add to it that I was 10 & 1/2 months pregnant, and I was easily the most emotional mom around. I took Davey to my parents house and cried about how horrible of a mother I was for not having a creative costume for him and for putting him in a store bought costume. Gasp! My parents looked at me like I was a nutcase.

I’m not exactly sure why last year was so special or why I felt the need to be different. Maybe it was because I’m a stay at home mom, so I SHOULD be creative and able to make costumes and be original. Really, I just attributed it to the sheer panic of being a mom for the second time, the added hormones, and the fact I was so fat and miserable. Nothing else was perfect in my life. Everything felt so out of control and I needed to exert control somewhere. Of course, it was a catastrophic failure with Davey’s costume, which meant in my eyes, I was a catastrophic failure as a mom.

This year I had to come up with costumes for not one boy, but two, and I didn’t fret about it once. I considered going with a theme especially since I already knew Henry was going to be wearing his brother’s hand-me-down and be a tiger. I thought about making Davey a safari hunter, or a ringmaster at a circus. When I told Davey this, he looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign language.

I looked on Facebook and saw pictures of my friends’ kids and their costumes, some kids having multiple costumes, which I find ridiculous. I oohed and aahed over the handmade costumes, the original ones, and the downright adorable. And then I looked at Davey and asked him what he wanted to be. He said he didn’t know. So, what did I do? I took him to a store. That’s right, my kid wore a store bought costume! For the first time in my career as a mom, I didn’t judge myself, degrade myself, or stress myself about Halloween. I took the easy way out and let Davey pick out his costume. And what did he decide on? Bumblebee from Transformers.

Davey had so much fun. This was the first year he really understood Halloween and I let him go with the flow, just like I did. He trick or treated to about 10 houses before deciding he wanted to come home and pass out candy to the other kids. I think he enjoyed seeing all of their costumes more than he did trick or treating, which was a bit disappointing for me and my husband as we were looking forward to the huge candy stash.

Henry kept his costume on long enough for pictures and then he ran around with the dog. I didn’t take him trick or treating since he really didn’t understand it and didn’t want the costume either. Why take a screaming or unpleasant kid.

For the first time, I’ve taken a step back. It’s not about me or my husband or our friends. It’s not about how we’re perceived by others. It’s not about anything other than our boys and what makes them happy. It was nice to just take a step back this year and truly enjoy Halloween.

Happy Halloween from Henry and Davey
Happy Halloween from Henry and Davey

Social Media & A Mommy’s Guilt

“My Billy just started walking and he’s only 4 months old!”

“Susie just read her first book and she’s not even 1 yet!”

“Jimmy is already potty trained and he’s just turned 6 months old!”

So, perhaps those are exaggerations, but I can’t help feeling the pressures of raising my children in a world that is so immersed in social media (me included). I’m not just average and I don’t expect my boys to be that way either. I don’t settle. I set high goals and standards for myself, and I’m an overachiever. I fully anticipate my boys will be the same way, without me being a pushy mom.

I love social media. My iPad is always within arm’s reach and if I leave the house without my cellphone then I feel naked. I curb my intake of it as much as possible, but there are times when I just don’t want to think or work. There are times when I just want to be mentally lazy and peruse the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get caught up on what’s going on with my real friends and the other “friends”. What I’m encountering isn’t exactly what I was hoping to achieve. What I’m finding is that instead of using social media as a way to just have some down time, it’s becoming more of a hindrance and really just adds more stress to my life as I read about what other people’s children are doing.

I know I can’t be the only one who’s experiencing this. And the reason I know this is because there’s no way that the things I’m reading online are actually true. Parents are speeding up milestones to make themselves look good as parents or perhaps to make themselves feel better for not being as hands on as they should be (you know who you are). What this in turn is doing, is fueling the fire for those of us who can’t seem to turn off the social media chatter surrounding the raising of children. It can truly cause a person like me to question how I’m raising my boys, what I’m doing wrong, what I could be doing better, and in turn adding undue stress and sleepless nights. Yeah, yeah, my personal problem I know, which leads me to wonder what it was like for my parents when I was my children’s ages.

In 1977 (I was 2), there were no cell phones. Only the rich had cordless phones and answering machines. We didn’t have a computer and internet. There were no digital cameras, only Polaroids. Videos? My uncle had an old movie camera that had film rolled onto a spindle. You showed it using a projector either on a blank wall or screen and there was no sound. So, basically, back then my parents could enjoy life with me. I don’t think they ever really questioned their parenting skills or compared me to their best friend’s kid. Sure they bragged, but mostly to my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, not on a computer screen that transmits every word and character simultaneously throughout the world.

There were no immediate judgments or backlashes for what and how they were doing. Life was simpler and after talking to my mom this week, not necessarily guilt free, but a different, less stressful kind of guilt.

So, how do I go about enjoying my social media without letting it adversely effect my mommy guilt? I have absolutely no idea. I do; however, seriously doubt that other parents out there evaluate my parenting skills as much as I imagine them to. I sincerely hope that they’re more concerned with their children as opposed to making themselves look and feel better. Me? I’m completely truthful on my blogs and posts, but I gotta tell you nothing is more stressful for me right now than reading about all the other children who are potty trained and mine is still asking for diapers.

I wonder what the world will be like when my boys are parents and what sort of things will trigger their guilt as parents.

A Whole New World

I consider myself to be the writer in the family. I’m not necessarily all that great at it, but I do enjoy it and I try to put forth the effort to write daily. A lot of times I hit your typical writer’s block and feel that I am less that enthusiastic about writing or that I’ve perhaps lost my ability to really communicate fluently and gracefully. I’ve often found myself reading a lot of old classics just so that I can possibly tap into the vibe of eloquent writing and colorfully displaying how I’m truly feeling through my writing. This past week, my husband decided to tap into my “vibe” and he spilled forth a beautiful and heart warming display of how becoming a parent has changed his life and his perspective as well as that of mine. He actually took a few moments to share it with the world on Facebook, but for those of you who perhaps didn’t see it, let me share it with you here.

“As I sit here with my both of my boys, I can’t help but smile watching them. As a parent, the love you have for your children consumes your life, and you realize that this is a glimpse into what God’s love is towards each of us. I realize I didn’t remotely understand that until Davey came into our lives, now with Henry I have an even better understanding because you can see how you can love each equally, but differently.”

Wow! How profound, poetic, insightful, and heartwarmingly true is that statement?!?!?! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Our lives have been turned upside down becoming parents. You quickly learn that the things that once seemed important have become trivial. You look at these wonderful little human beings, human beings with yours and your partner’s traits, and think, “how is it possible for someone like me to create something as wonderful as this?” I’m constantly in awe of both of my babies. I’m in awe of God’s love towards me and my husband, that he would grace sinners like us with such wonderful little gifts and entrust in us to be the parents He has always deemed for us to be.

Last night, after the third time of waking with Henry, I prayed to God. I prayed that He would guide me and give me strength to work through the sleepless nights, to not despair, and not fret. Even on the fourth time, as I had tears rolling down my cheeks, I managed to push away the thoughts that were trying to seep into my head; thoughts like, “what was I thinking by becoming a mother,” and “I’m a horrible mother who cannot even comfort her own infant son.”

We’re living in a whole new world, my husband and I. A world with new loves, new adventures, new enlightenments, and new phases. It’s not always an easy trip, nothing really ever is, but how wonderful it is that we have the opportunity to go on this trip; a trip called “parenthood”.

Potty Training: Take 2

So, I started out strong back in March (or so I thought) when it came to potty training Davey. He had just turned 18 months old and seemed to exhibit some signs of it being time to start the potty training process. I don’t want to say I was wrong with that, but perhaps I overestimated Davey’s willingness and underestimated his stubbornness.

Of course, then I found out I was pregnant and I’ve since suffered from debilitating migraines and near constant nausea. Potty training quickly took a back seat, as did most everything else. I still did my best to hold my resolve strong that the two things I wanted and needed and would (will) accomplish before Doser 2.0 gets here are: 1. getting Davey into a toddler bed and 2. getting him potty trained.

At first, I thought the toddler bed would be a bigger issue, but fortunately for us this child has slept every single night for 10 + hours in his toddler bed WITHOUT getting up. Some mornings he gets up, grabs a book, and then climbs back in bed and actually lets us sleep until about 7. That’s huge! So, toddler bed transition was pretty flawless, not so much the case with potty training.

I’ve read all the blogs, magazine articles, Twitter tips and Facebook posts about knowing WHEN your child is ready to be potty trained. For those of you who are unsure, here are just a few samples:
1. has “dry” periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine (some nights, Davey can make it all the way through without a wet diaper!)
2. urinates a fair amount at one time.
3. can pull his pants up and down.
4. shows interest in others’ bathroom habits (he’s always following his daddy into the bathroom and even me).
5. takes pride in his accomplishments.
6. demonstrates a desire for independence (oh, he’s done that from day one!)
7. gives a physical or verbal sign when he’s having a bowel movement (Davey squats behind the chair and grunts).
These are all just ways to know if your child is ready to begin potty training.

Well, at nearly 21 months, I’ve decided to give it yet another go. Once again, I re-read some blogs, pinned some interesting tips on Pinterest and even bought the book “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” by Nathan H. Azrin. The book hasn’t worked for me, but I’m not exactly following it verbatim.

Today, I decided to take the approach of one of my other mom friends who suggested that I just let Davey go naked. When I told my husband I was going to do this, he said to not do it when he was around. So, I waited until this morning to start the new potty training agenda. I stripped Davey down, put him on our porch, brought the potty along for the ride and we hung out on the porch all morning. There were no poops, but two pees (both of which did not make it to the potty in time). I purposely did this on the porch because I knew it would be easier to clean. I just kept a squirt bottle of Clorox and water on hand to clean the messes.

Lunchtime rolled around and there was a poopy, but Davey didn’t show the signs (and by this point I had put a pair of training pants on him since I was bringing him into the house to eat lunch) and he pooped in his pants. I put him down for a nap, with a clean diaper, and he slept for 3 hours with no accidents. This evening, after dinner; however was our true breakthrough.

After eating, I put him down from his highchair and let him run around. Within a matter of minutes, he ran to his potty and sat down. I pulled him back up quickly unsnapped the onesie he was wearing (probably not a good idea), helped him pull down his training pants and put him back on the potty. As I took a step back, he began to pee. Most of it landed in the potty, but he did accidentally spray the floor, it’s to be expected. But I suppose the best part for me was after he finished peeing he put both hands in the air and yelled, “I did it!”

Yes, you did, my boy. Of course, as I’m writing this, I hear my husband groan because Davey pooped in his pants and not on the potty. Maybe that’s my fault for being in here writing and leaving the potty training to my husband. 🙂