Tag Archives: parenting

Mother of the Year

True story/confession. I went to CVS to buy 2 medications for my kids.  As I was making my way to check-out, I got distracted by the make-up section. After much deliberation, I picked up 2 items.  I had a beauty discount coupon so I thought I would calculate if it was really saving me money or not. Anyway, after taking out the coupon and my CVS card from my wallet, I started walking to the cashier with only 2 of the 4 items in my hands. Guess which two?

Answer: Beauty items, not the medications. Luckily I remembered and hurried back to the shelf before I was actually in line!

Surprisingly, I’m one of the moms who feels the least guilt for working.  I miss them like crazy and I feel all kinds of emotion for not always being available, but guilt, not so much.

Random Bits Of Good Advice

By the time you’re 40ish, or been around long enough, you’ve been on the receiving end of tons of advice — some good, some not so good or at least not applicable to your life.  I thought that I would compile some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.  Maybe you’ll gain something from these “words of wisdom” too.

  • Never get into credit card debt” – My Mom, delivered in such a severe and foreboding tone that I didn’t even ask her why and I never racked up any debt)
  • “If your kids fall or bump into something and you know they’re not hurt, just distract them.  ” – Male co-worker.  This tactic also works if they’re fighting over toys or cry for no reason.  You can distract them with funny faces, loud noises or other shiny toys.
  • “You can only change your reaction to people.”  – A friend, after hearing me complain one too many times about the same people.
  • Money buys freedom.” – I can’t remember who said this but I think it was a rock musician.
  • Don’t lean back ahead of time – Wandering Scientist, who has written a million good posts about balancing work and motherhood.  Lots of practical tips as well as thoughful posts.  I’ve written about this too and the most important thing is to not feel guilty.
  • “Forget balance. Choose Flexibility” – The Happiest Mom blog. This is good advice for anyone with interests outside of work.
  • “If someone tries to abduct you, fight back and don’t let them take you away to an isolated place.” – High school teacher, to the whole class.  This stuck with me because it had no context in terms of the school subject.  This teacher was also male and he was so sincere and heartfelt that it made me take more notice for some reason.  I now wonder if he experienced any personal tragedy.
  • If you only have a few minutes to clean before guests arrive, clean the bathroom (clean toilet, wipe sink, quick sweep of the floors).  Drop an Alka Seltzer in the toilet bowl.” – Probably a Martha Stewart or Real Simple magazine tip, i.e. clean what people will notice most.
  • “To find a good, affordable restaurant in a foreign country, take a peek inside and see if most of the customers are local.  If yes, it’s a good bet the food is authentic and reasonably priced.”Rick Steves, of the PBS travel series.  That’s not an exact quote but I followed this advice in Europe and it really made a difference in my travel experiences.
  • “Focus on your strengths.” I forget where I read this but as someone who tend to focus on improving my weaknesses, this was a bit of a revelation.  While I do continually try to improve myself, I do my best work when I take on projects that play to my strengths.
  • “Rock your baby up and down with energy, like this.” – A Nurse, who showed us that many babies prefer a vigorous up-and-down rocking motion rather than the gentle back-and-forth motion.  It sounds strange and sometimes it felt like our babies were hanging on for dear life, but it worked!

Advice is a funny thing. After I wrote down the above list, I realized that most of the advice I take to heart come from strangers or acquaintances (blogs, books, famous people), not people I’m close to in real life.  I don’t know if that’s common or if I’m more dismissive of advice I hear from family and friends, or if most advice given are nothing more than well-meaning clichés.

Another thing about advice is that timing comes into play.  Sometimes two people can give you the exact same advice, phrased differently, and you just don’t pay attention until you’re ready to hear it.

What are some unforgettable, and good, advice you’ve received or read somewhere?

Time Envy

For someone who has only occasional envy issues with the mythical wealthy Jones family (i.e. keeping up with the Joneses), I do get jealous of family and friends more often than I like to admit.  I wish I could offer a solution (i.e. how to overcome envy in 10 easy steps) but I’m not quite there yet and not in any position to dispense advice.  I do know that long-term envy is not healthy for me or anyone, period.  No wonder it’s one of the seven deadly sins!  

My envy is very specific.  It’s rarely about money. Although I do want more money sometimes, I realize that most people that earn more also work at more stressful jobs than I do.  It’s hard to manage employees and answer to demanding higher-ups.  The trade-off is not worth it for me.   For me, envy rears its head when I think about people with more free time.   

Strangely, my envy is usually directed at my stay-at-home mom friends.  I  say “strangely” because I’m not under any illusion that staying at home is easy or relaxing.  No one I know well has a trust fund or are stay-at-home and childless, two groups which probably really deserve anyone’s envy.

So right now, my envy is directed at those who have quit the rat race, especially those with school age children.  While I know it’s still work and there’s a house to keep clean on top of everything else, these friends seem to have more time to work out, read books or just visit the zoo on an uncrowded day!  And if life is anything like those depicted on mom blogs, home life is 50% crazy (kid eats crayons or throws tantrums) but also 50% slower

I fully understand that a slower pace isn’t all fun and games.   A lot of that time is spent managing a household from laundry to doctor appointments to cooking 2-3 meals a day.  However,  I also get the sense that their time is less hectic overall (again, with the caveat that this is my perception once their kids or at least one kid is in school).  When you stay home, you’re the master of your own time.  You don’t often have deadline-oriented projects.  You’re not bombarded with requests and questions via emails and instant messages.   You have time to just move at your own pace.

It’s important to note that I’m not dismissing homelife as anything less, just because it’s not as busy as work life.  Obviously taking care of children is important. ( I also do not say ‘raising children’ because I believe both working and non-working parents raise their children.)  However, I think that our society has placed such importance on busy-ness that even stay-at-home spouses have to say that they’re as busy as everyone else.  I don’t know many SAHMs who would say that they have more time than those working, so my theory is based on reading blogs and personal observation.  When I’m off on weekdays, I run into calm-looking moms strolling through malls with their kids and friends.  They have downtime to smell the roses, so to speak.   I suppose that’s the benefit of not having to cram errands in between a commute and deadlines?

These feelings of envy are often followed by guilt. I know I shouldn’t feel this way and just be happy for others.  I also know that doing endless loads of laundry and household chores would make me very unhappy!

On a personal note, I’m dealing with my time envy in a few ways.  I think it was a suggestion from Tragic Sandwich but I’m trying to take at least one vacation day per month.  If I remember correctly, she uses it for organizing but I’m not that virtuous.  However, that one extra day allows me to stretch out my time and work at my own slower pace.  I’m able to get things off my to-do list and also find time for exercise and just playtime.

That’s not to say I’m not still enjoying parenthood overall.  I love watching my kids play (they’re quite close in age) and letting them discover their own games like peek-a-boo and “let’s-roll-over-on-each-other-and-laugh” plus the usual bickering and bopping each other on the head. 

Is my impression of staying home completely unrealistic or is there a grain of truth?  Do you envy those with more money or more time? 

Oh Yes, The Kids

After becoming a parent, I started reading mom/parenting blogs and forums, where every child-related topic under the sun gets discussed and dissected.  I sort of expected discussions about staying at home or not but I was honestly surprised by the depth of discussion on giving birth itself, breastfeeding, making food, sleeping, and so forth.  Maybe that’s because when I was pregnant, I attended only one childcaring class and read one book.    (Note: Above I linked to Grumpy Rumblings which is more than a parenting blog but they had a good post about push presents, another parenting hot topic)

The strangest topic of discussion for me was the idea of creating a birth plan where everything from medication to music is written out for your doctor and nurses.  I hadn’t even thought of it.  I just thought they would wheel me in and help me deliver.  My doctor did play music during the procedure, which I honestly don’t remember well except it might have been a sort of upbeat pop/rock. As long as it wasn’t vulgar, that was good enough for me. 

Anyway, since I didn’t think that much about the nitty-gritty of childrearing, it’s not surprising that I didn’t even think about deeper issues like gender / equality.  Over at Blue Milk, there was a discussion about raising a daughter in a sexist culture. This is a big concern among parents/moms of daughters and rightly so.  While the U.S. makes strong claims about equality, there is still a “mainstream” attitude/culture that puts too much value on a women’s looks/sexuality and frowns upon girls who stray too far from the accepted norms.  There’s more to it than that but I really haven’t thought too much about it. 

Truthfully, it makes me a bit sad/angry that it’s even an issue.  I guess parents of boys don’t have to worry (as much) about the obstacles placed before them by mainstream culture.  No one will assume that boys are bad at math or science.  No one will assume that they can’t be both CEO and a parent.  At the same time, cultural expectations swing the other way, too.  I think that boys can easily feel stifled just because of their gender.    I do give my boys the option of playing with cuddly plush toys; it’s not my doing that they ignore it in favor of trucks, cars or noisier toys!

I think I may worry more about this issue if I stay home when they’re older and if I fall into more typical female roles within a household.  I have a feeling that I’ll always be working one way or another though!  Note: I’m not saying that you can’t stay home and be feminist but I just think it’s easier to set an example if I’m a working for money with fairly equal distribution of household work at home.   I would be a role model that is far more important than toys or stupid sexist t-shirts (see JCPenney controversy).

On a personal note, since I’m working on making this blog more honest, I’m enjoying my weekend down time as much as possible.  I like sitting on the floor watching my boys play.  They do a million funny things  — some destructive –and periodically come up to me for cuddling. So cute.

Does anyone raising boys have good tips on teaching them respect toward women and gender equality? Even more interesting, do you think that staying at home or working has a huge impact on your child’s gender perceptions?