I want my kids to eat dirt

Yes, you read that correctly.  I want my kids to eat dirt.  Not only eat it, but roll in it, play in it, dig in it, discover everything about it.  And not just dirt.  How about grass, sticks, sand, rocks, and anything else they could possibly come across.  When my husband and I were younger, that’s what we did.  Our parents kicked us out of the house right after breakfast and we were expected to be outside until dinner time.  We got dirty, played in the mud, ran around the neighborhood with all our hoodlum friends, and no one even blinked an eye when we came home covered in pine sap coated in gravel with bits of bird feathers sticking out.  That’s how I grew up.  And that is exactly how I want my kids to experiance their childhood.  All the fun, all the mess, and less fuss about every germ and possible disease they could catch from this or that.

In the 29 years since I was running around making forts out of tree branches and playing house in the woods, the mentality that used to exist amongst parents changed.  Now that I’m a parent myself, I see other parents constantly worried about what germs their little one will pick up whilst out at the grocery store or at the playground.  Newsflash – my kid has sucked on those nasty plastic covered cart handles until they were sparkling clean and he has yet to come down with more than a runny nose.  So unless you kid has some medically specific reason to avoid all possible cooties, I suggest you take a breath and let them have a little exposure.

And speaking of exposure…these are a few of the things (in no specific order) that my kid has managed to get into his mouth before I could intervene..

goose poop
wood chips
pine needles
dust bunnies
dog & cat food
the clippy end of a dog leash
the name tag on my dogs collar
restaurant menus

all of which are presumably covered in every type of nasty, dirty guck.  And none of which have seriously harmed my kid.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’d never stand idle and watch my kids stick broken glass in their mouths without a serious lesson in “NO means NO”, but I do my very best to not tell them “NO” every other second.  Especially when you are dealing with children nearing toddlerhood…you’ll drive yourself insane if you have to watch everything they touch, roll in, step in, or get anywhere near their mouth.  You know that age old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? I try and keep that mentality hovering around my periferal through these wonderful and few years between infant and teenager.

Kids are Dogs

We love them almost equally.  And before you had kids of your own, your dogs were like your kids. Little did you know that not much would change, and those pet-owner skills would translate seamlessly into parental skills.

23 Ways that Kids are like Dogs…

1. You have to feed them, and give them water.
2. If you don’t supervise them they will mess shit up.
3. They want attention all.the.time.
4. When other people come over, they will act as if they are seriously deprived for attention and love.
5. They chew on ev.er.y.thing.
6. They get really excited when you say “Go” “walk” or “outside”
7. They insist on following you everywhere.  Even the bathroom.  Where they will sit on your feet until you are done.
8. They make excellent leg/foot warmers.
9. You have to clean up their poop.  You and your hubby also fight over who’s turn it is to do this.
10. You’ll never get through a meal without some begging.
11. They should be on a leash in public.
12. They like to play fetch. You probably don’t call it that with your kids, but asking them to get something for you is indeed Fetching it, right?
13. You bribe them with treats.
14. You can’t leave food unattended around them.
15.  You expect them to understand and obey simple commands, like “stay” “sit” “no” “leave it” and “drop it”
16. You buy them special toys and they would still rather play with your socks, or underwear, or hair brush.
17. They make the best cuddle buddies.
18. You’ll love them unconditionally, even when they are covered in mud…or poop.
19. They consciously choose to roll in poop.
20. They wipe their wet nose on you.
21. Those sad “puppy” eyes get you every time.
22. They stick their face in your crotch.
23. Get used to being crawled on, laid on, jumped on, clawed at…

And still we love them.

You’re not alone, Mama

Being a Mom is one of the biggest blessings in life.  There are very few things that are as rewarding, exciting, exhausting, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world, as being Mama.  But speaking of exhausting…some days you wish you could just leave those kiddos for a few days and get back to being JUST YOU.  You are not alone in this, Mama.  We all go through these moments…or days, or weeks, or even months.  Being a Mama is hard work.  Sometimes more challenging than you ever could have imagined.  Often leaving you stressed, sleep deprived, over-worked, sometimes being Mama isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not ALL THE TIME.  And do you know what?!  Sometimes YOU need a BREAK!  And that is OK!

Mama’s are allowed to have a selfish moment, too.  We give and give all that we have 99% of the time to fussy babies, cranky toddlers, frustrating teens…and even though we wouldn’t trade them for the world…sometimes we would prefer a little “me time” over “mama, mama, mama time”.

The hardest part though, is that Mama’s think they should be able to do it all, everything, 100% of the time.  We think we should be able to be the rock, the meal-provider, the boo-boo kisser, the story book reader, the play mate, the rock to sleeper, the dishes doer, the laundry folder, the dog walker, the bed maker, the bathroom cleaner….but most of the time we set those ridiculous expectations for ourselves.  We hold ourselves to a much higher standard than we probably should.

So, it is OK if once in a while we lose our shit.  We hold it together 99% of the time, so don’t be surprised when that 1% it gets to be too much and we need a little break from it all.  A little time to glue ourselves back together with shopping and dinner as our adhesive of choice.  Your family will survive without you for a day.

Be good to yourselves, Mama’s…you deserve the best too!

The Magic Word

We begin drilling this habit into our children even before they can talk.  “What do you say?” We ask them, expecting this magic word before we will hand over whatever it is they are asking for.  We lead them to believe that the use of this one word will magically grant them whatever it is they desire.  At the drop of one simple word, they will receive anything and everything that they ask for.

Please

Such a simple word, even for little unpracticed tongues.  But little did you know that as a parent, teaching this delightful and polite word would eventually and continuously turn against you…

Especially as they enter toddler-hood, your little one will start to figure out all the ways that they can manipulate you.  That sweet smile, the ear-piercing scream in the middle of the grocery store, or the one word that you taught them…”please”.  You delight the first time your little one uses the word when asked “what do you say”.  “pease!” They answer, and clapping and acknowledgement ensues this good deed that they have finally accomplished.  Positive enforcement continues as each time they use this magical word they are showered with treats, toys, and often the items they need to survive…like food and drink.  Manners, right?  Please and Thank You’s…right?

That’s all great, until you’re standing in the middle of Target and your toddler see’s their favorite treat or toy.  After searching their brain for the magic word – that you will ask them to say first before you hand over their item – they, so very politely, ask “please?” as they point towards that coveted thing.    Heaven forbid that be the first time you actually say “NO” to their plea…watch out Mama cuz here comes the tantrum!

And can you really blame them? You are the one that taught them this magical word.  The one word that grants them anything and everything at the drop of one syllable.  And as you find yourself fighting with a screaming toddler in the middle of the candy isle, you will suddenly hate this word with a passion!  Damn you, manners!  Ahh, the hipocracy of parenthood.  You must say “please” to get this item, and 99% of the time you use this word, it will be magic.  But that 1% of the time, it will send a horrible mixed message to your poor little toddler who thought they had it all figure out…!

And speaking of that 99%…you will find yourself laughing so hard you’ll almost pee yourself when they are throwing a giant fit, wailing and still managing to say “pleeeeeease”, causing you to give in, once more, to their very pathetic and strangely adorable tantrum.

If only they could ask us to Please stop being hypocrites, as it can be very confusing! 🙂

Choose your battles…aka why I let my little one run around with a screwdriver

Don’t run with scissors

The age-old saying.  Obviously some logic to it.  Sharp edges + potential for tripping = imminent injury.  Well, in the last 20+ months one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned for motherhood is choosing my battles with my little spitfire.

J’s always been a hands-on boy.  All boy.  He wants to get into everything…e.v.e.r.y.thing. And he wants to do it all on his own.  Don’t dare try to open his string cheese for him, or you will then have a tantrum on your hands.  It doesn’t matter if he’s actually capable of doing the task itself, it’s the principal.  He will do it. Period.

I don’t remember exactly when J developed his attachment to screwdrivers.  He loves all tools really, and loves to “help” his Dada with projects around the house.  But at some point he almost constantly asked for a screwdriver – or an “ee ewww” as we now call it.  Doesn’t matter how big, which one, or what kind.  But more often than not, he will ask for one.  And if you want to avoid a huge fit, you may as well just give in and give him one.  So yes, I let my 20 month old mini-tasmanian devil walk, run, jog around the house with an ee-ewww.  It has a pointy end and could certainly do him harm in he were to fall into it or onto it…I try not to think about that part and instead focus on the fact that he knows what that ee-ewww is for and he is content with trying to find every screw around the whole house to fit his ee-ewww into.  Real world skill, ya know.

#2 best thing I’ve learned about almost-toddlers is that giving realistic choices can help save not only time but your sanity as it decreases those oh-so-fun tantrums by a noticeable amount.  “Do you want to open your cheese, or do you want help?”  gives J the option of trying it himself as he so loves to do, or asking for help to get it started – thus avoiding the tantrum (usually).  Plus it gives these power-loving little ones the sense that they actually have the power.  It was their choice after all that they wanted yogurt for breakfast instead of oatmeal…they don’t realize then that they didn’t have the choice of a chocolate donut…which they would fight tooth and nail for it you didn’t give them two very specific items to choose from.

Then there are times when you give choices first and there’s still a tantrum.  A very particular little boy (or girl) will get what he wants come hell or high water, so sometimes it’s just not worth the 20 minute fight when you’ll end up giving in before the day is through.  Yes, there are the things that you will stick to – no running in the street, for example.  But with a toddler I try to remember that while I want to keep him safe and teach him what is right/wrong, I also don’t want to always be saying “NO”.  I want him to have as many experiences as he can.  And if he wants to go around the house playing Mr. Fix-it, than I’m certainly not going to stop him.  He is a sponge and he’s trying to absorb the world around him.  He’s always been hands-on, and I will nurture that learning style to the best of my ability.

Shhh! Here’s the *painful* truth about Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery & Beyond

If you have never been pregnant before, you have no idea what to expect when your journey to parenthood beings.  Even if you’ve had friends or siblings that have gone though it all, and no matter how much they share with you, you just don’t know what to expect.  No two experiences are the same, even for one woman.  And chances are that if your BFF had one experience, yours will be exactly the opposite.  These are the things I wish I’d been warned about when I got pregnant with my first…and only after my second did I really see how many things aren’t shared with mama’s-to-be…and probably for good reason…or the reasons below…

1. Pregnancy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Sorry to break it to you ladies, but pregnancy can really suck.  Yes, yes, it is a one-of-a-kind experience and there are really amazing things about growing another person.  But seriously – the morning sickness, back aches, heartburn, sciatica, struggle to find a comfortable position (ever) and loss of bladder control…if you can find the beauty in those things, I envy you.  Pregnancy lasts 9 months.  You’ll spend the first 2-3 months dealing with exhaustion and morning sickness.  If you’re lucky you’ll get 2-3 months of fewer symptoms during the second trimester. Then, just when you’re finally enjoying the beauty of feeling your little one doing gymnastics in the small space between your boobs and your nether-region, you’ll enter into your third trimester.  Commence to wanting this demon child out as soon as possible.  Oh wait, I still have 3 months of this *awesome* torture.  yay?

2. You can’t prepare yourself for labor.  I don’t care how many lamaz classes you take, or how many breathing exercises you have memorized.  If you know anyone who’s actually stuck to their Birth Plan, give them a medal of honor.  Truth is, once those contractions start it all goes out the window.  Oh, and those Pain exercises they use to help show you how long contractions last and how much they’ll hurt…HAH!  It’s gonna hurt.  Like a bitch.  No wonder so many women opt for the epidural.

3.  Oh the mess.  You’ve never seen so many different bodily fluids suddenly make an appearance all at the same time, and in such grandiose quantities.  There’s no possible way to prepare for this.  Sorry!

4.  Nothing goes as planned.  If you plan on an epidural, beware that while it will take away the pain, it generally also slows labor and can cause other issues.  If you plan on a natural birth, you’ll be wishing you’d said a big HELL YES when they offered the epidural.  Good news here though, the pain does eventually reach a level where it doesn’t get any worse.  Hard to believe when you’re in the middle of pushing a watermelon out a hole the size of a donut…

5.  C-sections happen.  Don’t beat yourself up if you weren’t able to have a vaginal birth.  Focus on the happy, healthy little one that just changed your life forever.  Plus, if you get a C-section you’ve avoided the dreaded tearing or episiotomy…

6.  Take advantage of the few days in the hospital.  Everything changes the moment you get home.  Real life starts when there are dishes in the sink and piles of laundry right in front of you.  Enjoy the doting on you’ll get in the hospital for a few days before you go back to reality.  Plus, you get a TON of free shit – diapers, wipes, pads…anything that’s not cotton (blankets, sheets etc.) are yours for the taking.

7.  Write down your birth story.  After a few weeks, you won’t remember everything that happened that magical day.

8.  Pooping for the first time is worse than giving birth.  Sorry to break it to you, but this is the worst part of the whole process.  If you’re one of the lucky ones that the stool softeners actually work for, praise God.  The rest of us aren’t so lucky.  They won’t tell you before you leave that pooping for the first time will feel like you’re giving birth again…this time without any pain meds. Also, you may need to resort to some pretty gross methods to finally get some relief…just sayin’ you’ve been warned.

9.  Breastfeeding. It’s gonna hurt.  Accept the advice of the nurses at the hospital, your midwife, or lactation specialist so that you get the right latch.  It’s still going to take practice and time before it becomes second nature.  It will stop hurting after a few weeks, if you’re doing it right, so grin and bear it and it’ll totally be worth it.

10.  Your life will never be the same.  And you’re going to love it.  As soon as that little one is placed in your arms, it will all be worth it.  You’ll forget all of the pain and discomfort in the blink of an eye.  In the end, you’d do it again and again.

I know it all seems pretty…well, negative and horrible.  Sorry, I’m not going to sugar coat it.  But these are the things that no one told me, and I would rather know what I’m in for over the course of 9+ months.  I don’t see them as negative experiences though, if anything I try find the humor in the truth!