Parenting is Like Throwing Penny’s in a Wishing Well

Credit: vastateparksstaff on Flickr

Yesterday, as my oldest son and I were on our way to Los Angeles we drove past Forest Lawn Memorial Park. It had been a few years since I had driven past it and I had forgotten how beautiful it was. So I pointed it out for him to see.
And then he asked me what it was.
And I was left there with the decision of what to say. I mean, how do you explain a cemetery to a little kid after all?  I decided to go in for the kill.

“When people die, their souls go to Heaven to be with God and their bodies stay here with us. Some people like to bury their bodies in the ground at a place like that so that we who are left here on Earth have a place to visit them. But they’re not really there, only their bodies are because their souls are with God”.

I patted myself on the back. I thought I did pretty good explaining souls and death and cemeteries and stuff to a 5 year old.  And then he said:
“I like trees!”

And I realized at that moment that parenting is a lot like throwing pennies in a wishing well. You can’t see where the penny went but you did hear that hollow thud when it hit the water.
Here I was giving him gems of gold, pure parenting advice gold and all he had to say was that he liked trees.

All I can do is have faith that the penny I threw is in there somewhere.

We can do it if we try

How do you teach your children perseverance?

Disney has the ability to entertain and to teach our children great lessons. Just moments ago I heard Jungle Junction teaching my kids this message:

“We can do it. We can do it if we try. If it doesn’t work the first time we’ll try twice as hard the next time. Cause we can do it if we try.”

The truth is, I don’t agree 100%.

About 10 years ago I was watching a day time talk show of a celebrity interview (I can’t remember who the celebrity was) and she said this:

“When I’m trying really hard to do something and it’s just not working I stop trying. I take that obstruction to be a sign from the universe that it just wasn’t meant to be”.

That statement hit a home run with me. So much so, that now if I’m trying to open a jar of pickles and it just won’t open…I take that as a sign to not eat pickles.
I’m not saying I’ve become a complete non-committal flake. I’m saying  that sometimes some things just weren’t meant to be. Life shouldn’t be so hard and so frustrating. And honestly, I really don’t need to eat pickles.

The obvious problem now is how do I teach my children the ideals of perseverance when I don’t believe in them in all situations myself?
I’ve found myself teaching my son to stop trying something when he gets frustrated. I know that I’m trying to teach him to not allow himself to get so frustrated by taking a break. Nothing is worth getting so frustrated over and we can control our emotions by removing the cantankerous variable.
However, I’m afraid that I’m not teaching him how to preservere enough. I’m afraid I’m raising a non-committal flake. I want my children to be hard workers that don’t give up. I want them to be successful and I know that success takes commitment. I want them to understand the difference between knowing what’s worth fighting for and what isn’t.

However, when they hit a bump on the road to success, how will they know if it’s a sign to choose a different direction? And how will they know if the bump is just a bump and they can keep going forward?

Or what if they’re in a relationship with someone and it’s not going so great. How will they know if that relationship is worth working on to keep it going?

What if they’re trying and trying and trying to be good at something and it’s just not happening. When will they know to stop trying so hard to be good at whatever it was and try something else instead?

Or what if they’re trying to make a sandwhich and they’d really like pickles but they can’t open the jar? Will they keep trying to open the jar even if it takes forever and the bread goes stale in the wait?

How do I teach my children which situations are worth fighting for and which situations are not?

side note: I’ve never purchased a jar of pickles. That was merely an example.

My “Mountain High Moment” brought to you by Mountain High Yoghurt!

Credit: Mountain High Yoghurt

Whenever I think of Mountain High Yoghurt, I think of wholesome nutrition done the right way-naturally. Mountain High Yoghurt is all about bringing us the best quality of yogurt with the best quality natural ingredients. One of my strongest philosophies in parenting is to raise my children in an environment that is simple, wholesome and natural. Sounds like a no brainer right? However, in this day and age-advanced technology makes raising children in a wholesome and natural environment more challenging. When I was 5 years old, I was more than content in spending my days outdoors riding my bike and not coming home until it was time to eat. Now, my 5 year old son would rather play video games (however, they are educational games I must confess) or watching television rather than stepping a foot outside. Advanced technology makes raising children naturally more challenging but not impossible. What I try to do to avoid the technology ridden lives that we lead is by spending as much time outdoors with my children as possible. We go for a lot of family walks, hikes and we are frequent visitors of our local playgrounds and parks.
The Mountain High Company is all about living the best life possible while healthy, happy and natural. They are promoting “Mountain High Moments” in which are things or activities we love to do with those we love. I get my “Mountain High Moment” by going to the park and having a picnic with my kiddos and other mom friends. I love being surrounded by trees, green grass and good company. There is something about that open, fresh air feeling that lifts my spirits and clears my head. There are no distractions, no technology and no complications; there is only wholesome and natural beauty.
What is your “Mountain High Moment”? Please share, I would love to know.  I think that by sharing our “happies” we can relate to each other so much more. Everyone has gripes (I mean, hello? Do you read my blog?) and we all share them so easily, but when was the last time you told someone what made you happy? Like, really, really happy? Let’s do that now…together!
I love that a company like Mountain High is focusing on this philosophy of living a healthy and natural life. I’m looking forward to sharing information with you about Mountain High Yoghurt over the course of the next 8 weeks.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mountain High Yoghurt. I received a gift card to purchase yogurt, a product kit, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.” All opinions are my own.

C..c…changes

His very first portrait - 2007

The hardest part of being a mother to me is letting go. As mother’s we instinctively hold on tight to our children and protect them under our wing. They’re always in arms reach, our eyes are always burrowing an invisible hole in the back of their head in public and we know the general whereabouts of their location at all times no matter where we are in relation to them. Then, one day, we’re supposed to just “let go” and allow strangers to watch them, to teach them, to guide them.

I only allowed my mom to babysit my son and that was on rare occasions. The first time I ever spent a night away from him was in the hospital to give birth to the nightmare. To say that I was severely attached to him is an understatement.

I used to cry when my son was a baby about the day I would have to let go of him. It seemed like a million miles of years away, but I knew that it would sneak up on me faster than I wanted.

And it did.

Just under 2 years old - 2008

The first day of Preschool was a very sad day. I cried the entire time he was in school and I worried and I fretted and I cried some more. Of course he was fine and couldn’t be happier to be in school.

I felt that strong, instinctual feeling of loss that comes with letting something or someone go. I felt alone, I felt sad and I felt lost. It seems so unfair, that feeling of loss. Why we care so much and try so hard to hang on, only to be forced to let go. Be forced to be sad. Be forced to be alone.

3 years old - 2010

Then slowly along the way, I became complacent and dropping him off at school became something I looked forward to instead of something I feared. I got some peace and quiet that I didn’t realize I was missing and he got playtime with friends. It seemed like a win-win.

However, over the Christmas season I started noticing a difference in him and in his behavior. No longer was he happy and content being at home without structured activities. No longer could a day of playing outside or with Lego’s be “enough” for him. He craved and demanded structure and entertainment. I found myself getting irritated, frazzled and worn out from trying to keep him somewhat containable. My house became messy and destroyed on a daily basis with his frantic boy energy. I started keeping him in the back yard-like a rabid, untrained dog.

Almost 4 years old - 2010

Then came on the wave of “boyness” behavior and play; his preferences changed and the waves haven’t stopped. He started saying he didn’t like girls. He started using words like “kill” and “beat-up”. Then, the aggressive boy play came on. He started play fighting with his sister. He started wanting to play with guns and swords. Just yesterday, I found him yelling “I’m going to kweewl it! KWEEWL it!” as he was bludgeoning a pincher bug to death with a shovel.

The first day of preschool - 2011

Once again, I have found myself being complacent. This behavior is what I feared, what I tried to avoid by surrounding him with only girls as friends. However, this behavior is also what I deemed unavoidable if he was to attend school. I could hold off the boy play as long as possible, I could even avoid it completely by homeschooling him, but I gave in and became complacent to it instead. I veer him away from the aggressive play, I correct his forceful language and I punish him for being rough with his little sister. What more can I do?

How different things have become in the last 5 years. Where he was once my protected baby bird in my soft, protective nest-now he is my average and totally normal 5 year old son. And now, next Tuesday is Kindergarten registration. Full time school-every day of the week is just around the corner. I’m guaranteed to cry, I’m guaranteed to feel that feeling of loss in the process of letting go and then I’m guaranteed to become complacent. That is the hardest part of being a mother to me.
The fear,
the feeling of loss
and then the inevitable complacentness.

His 5th Birthday Party - 2012

Confessions of a Scary Mommy – A Book Review

Recently I came upon the opportunity to review Jill Smokler’s new book: “Confessions of a Scary Mommy-An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood: The Good, The Bad, and the Scary”.  I took my paperback pre-copy everywhere I went for over a week; it even went with us to Catalina Island.

Before I begin, I want to confess that I was not a reader of ScaryMommy.com and in all actuality, I had never even logged onto her site. I didn’t know what a ScaryMommy was, what Jill’s point of view was or what her whole angle on parenting was. The only thing I knew was that she was popular. Call me an opportunist (do it, it’s fine) but I took the opportunity to offer her a good review (if the book deserved it) and she gave me the opportunity to review her book. I was able to read the book through an unbiased readers eye and not through an oogling fans eye. I feel this was monumentally beneficial.

The very first line of the Forward states: “I am not a writer”. Which, immediately had me intrigued and in fact, sets the tone for the rest of the 167 pages that followed. “Confessions of a Scary Mommy” is not a novel. It is not a book in which you sit down and read from cover to cover but rather a book that you pick up while you have a few spare moments. I liked that. A lot. It was more entertaining than a magazine, but not so involved as a thrilling novel. I found that convenient and relaxing especially in my crazy, busy, pregnant life.

Do you know what a Scary Mommy is? I bet you do. Because it is you, it is me, for the love-it is all of us that have children. If you can’t admit that you are a crappy, half-assed mom at times then you are living in denial. Badly. It was so refreshing to read that another mother could relate to my completely honest feelings. It was comforting to read that I was not alone. It was a Eureka! moment to read that someone else thought being a mom just sucked sometimes and that feeling…was OK. We all as mothers try so hard to act like we’re happy, that we’re together, that we like our children and want to spend every waking moment with them. This book and Scary Mommy’s perspective makes it OK to admit to each other and to ourselves that it’s ok to act like you’re not happy, that we’re not together, that we don’t like our children and that we kinda just want to run away from them. So lets stop pretending and lets get real.

“Confessions of a Scary Mommy” is chock full of hilarious titles such as:  “I hate other people’s kids (not yours, of course)”. How could you not love a book with a title such as this? Besides the awesome title, the chapter is in fact completely relatable and how I’ve always felt. My kids are clean and healthy. Yours? Are sick, dirty nightmares (not yours of course, but you know…hers). This chapter is candid and funny and tells a story about how we’d like to keep our children safe and healthy and trapped inside a bubble, far away from all the dirty kids out there. Other funny chapter titles include: “Yes, You’ll Shit on the Delivery Table”, “I Like You Best…Today” and “The Twelve-Foot-Deep-Death Trap (aka the Pool)” among others.

After reading the book, I can say with all sincerity that I am now a Scary Mommy oogling fan. This book and Jill Smokler’s ability to tell an honest, entertaining and funny story about the thrills and spills of Motherhood has made me a believer in all things Scary.
I enjoyed reading this book and I know you will too. “Confessions Of A Scary Mommy-An Honest and Irreverent Look At Motherhood-The Good, The Bad, and the Scary” is available for pre-order now. I highly suggest you order yourself up a copy.

Thank you Jill, from one scary mommy to another, for the opportunity to review your book. It was truly, my pleasure. xo 

Be Careful What you Don’t Wish For

I’m going to admit to you all that I used to be one of those “judgmental moms”. You know the ones-that hang out in judgemental groups on the sidelines of the playground and judge everyone else’s mothering abilities? The ones that appear perfect and together and have all their sh*t in order? Yeah, those ones. I used to be one.
Well, not anymore.
When my son was a baby, I thought I had it rough. I used to complain about how difficult it was to be a mom. I judged other moms a lot. Back then, I figured that if I had what I had labeled a “difficult” baby but he still never ran into the street or threw a tantrum in the middle of Vons, that it must be their parenting skills that made horrid children and not the actual children themselves. I judged those moms for not having control over their children’s disobedient behavior. I patted myself on the back and said many times:
“Thank God I don’t have a kid like that”
I know different now.
Everything that I prided myself on for my awesome parenting skills was not my doing. It was in fact, just a stroke of luck.
My daughter is a nightmare.
A complete, and utter nightmare.

You know those kids that can’t ask for something without a whining cry? That’s her.
You know those kids that go into a store, fling everything off the shelves that are at their level and bite into anything they can sink their  teeth into? That’s her.
You know those kids that cry at the drop of a hat? That’s her.
You know those kids that thrash around while being changed? That’s her.
You know those kids that bite? That’s her.
You know those kids that hit? That’s her.
You know those kids that spit? That’s her.
You know those kids that run into the street while you’ve got your arms full of groceries? That’s her.
You know those kids that fling themselves onto the floor in a tantrum? That’s her.
You know those kids that undress themselves at every opportunity and show the world what God gave them? That’s her.
You know those kids that refuse to pee anywhere but on the carpet? That’s her.
You know those messy eaters that throw food? That’s her.
You know those kids that run the opposite way when you call them? That’s her.
You know those kids that act like they can’t hear? That’s her.
You know those kids that scream inside the car, or the bathtub, or the middle of the store, or at church? That’s her.

My son was never any of those things. My daughter is all of those things and more.
She is the kind of child that when I saw while my son was a baby, I stayed away from. She’s the kind of child whose mothers I judged. She is everything I didn’t wish for.

But she also gave me so much more. She gave me a sense of womanhood and a sense of empowerment. I had to change, I had to make myself better and I had to cut the bullsh*t out of my life to become a responsible, mature model for my daughter. The day she was born, I had a new perspective on life. I had to be the best me I could be so that she could grow up to be the best She, she could be.
So, sure she’s a strong-willed, emotional, loud, energetic, disobedient nightmare. But I love her…because she made me-Me.