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About Lyz

Wife of Aaron and mom of Leah (9) and Ben (7), and Adam (4). Licensed English teacher homeschooling for the third year. Christ is my savior. A fan of pop culture, especially movies and music (although my taste in novels leans more toward the classics.) If you are laughing, I can't stop talking. And if you give me a microphone, I'll probably say something borderline inappropriate.

Self-Mutilation

Recently, my seven year old daughter looked up from lunch and said, “Mom, I want to get my ears pierced.”

Hm.

I looked at Aaron, and asked what his thoughts about that particular subject were.  And, as expected (because of course we’d discussed it briefly years ago), he said that he didn’t really have any issue – did I?

Thanks for asking!  Here’s what I told Leah:

* First of all, there isn’t a “right” time for piercing your ears…if you don’t do it now, you can always decide to later.
* Having pierced ears requires certain hygenic practices
*  If she DID decided that she wanted to start into the land of Jewelry, I’d require first to have 3 weeks of not having to remind her to comb her hair.  That seems reasonable, right?  I just don’t want to add ANOTHER morning task that I have to remind her about. 

I mean, seriously.  How on earth can it take her 20 minutes to get ready in the morning, and she hasn’t even touched her hair yet!  My efforts to shorten that amount of time have included sending her upstairs with an egg timer set for 10 minutes, and laying out 7 days worth of outfits.  It’s helped.  But I still have to remind her to comb her hair.

Here were her concerns:

Will it hurt?   Will I cry?  I don’t want to cry in front of everyone! -   Um, who is “everyone”?  It’s just the lady with the “gun” and us…and they are very familiar with kids crying afterwards.  It is painful, and yes, you might cry – I did!  Of course, my sister Ruth (who is 5 yrs younger and got her ears punctured on the same trip) did not.  So you never know!

When did you get YOUR ears pierced? -  Sixth grade.  Ruth got hers done in 1st grade.  BUT, she also let hers grow shut shortly after and never got it done again.

Leah then pronounced, very rationally, “Then I’m going to wait until SEVENTH grade to get mine done!”  Oookay – not sure if she thinks it’s a competition and she’s going to “beat” me by waiting longer, or if she wants to make sure it’s okay by following my lead.

In any case, no holes have been put in ears, and after a day or so of ruminating, no mention has been made of it since.

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I posted a survey on the Modern-Day Jane Facebook page, and it looks like most girls have gotten their ears pierced in 3rd-5th grade, or when they turned 13.  This makes sense, as it’s kind of a rite of passage between childhood and becoming a young woman.  Plus, kids don’t care too much about their appearance until close to then anyway…RIGHT?

Although I have to admit that some baby girls look awfully cute with a little bling in their tiny earlobes, that was never even a consideration for me.  Our reasoning was, “When she wants to, she can,” but is now ammended to, “and when she’s ready to take care of it herself.”

And no, we are not even considering any OTHER types of piercings.

Dressing up. One banana at a time.

Should I discuss the pros and cons of letting your daughter get her ears pierced?  Or report how Adam’s first night of sleeping in his toddler bed went and if we all survived? Or maybe something more timely?

Like…COSTUMES.  Yes, I said it.  I am getting more and more anti-Halloween as that date creeps closer (I just saw in the Target flyer today that they are selling finger and vampire-teeth shaped cookie molds.  Dude, you’ve got to be really into Halloween to shell out cash for those…not too many other uses for them!) but I have nothing against dressing up in costumes.

In addition to having a fall costume party sometime soon, both Leah & Ben were invited to a friend’s birthday party for yesterday afternoon, and the invitation requested that the guests come dressed as animals.

In case you can’t tell, Ben is a monkey (that’s a banana in his holster, and NO, we are NOT using the term ‘banana hammock’.  Well, I’M not.) and Leah is a bunny.

Now let’s break down the particulars of those two outfits.

First, the easy parts: Ben has dressed up as a monkey for the last 2 years, and fortunately the hat & pants still fit him.  Leah found the bunny ears at a garage sale for 25 cents.  The white hat is mine, as is the sweatshirt that she’s swimming in.

Next, the slightly more difficult parts:  I dragged all 3 kids to Target, Kmart, and 3 different thrift stores looking for a solid brown sweatshirt for Ben (he insisted that he have one that fit him, picky kid) and white sweatpants for Leah.  Where did I find them?  At Once Upon a Child, where my friend C recommended I go in the first place.  (This is also where Adam decided to play the ultimate game of Hide & Seek.  In that store, there are two racks of clothes on each side of the aisle.  The bottom of the clothes on the lower rack come within inches of the floor.  After I was done searching for clothes, I retrieved the older kids from the toy area.  I asked, “Where’s Adam?”  and I got a rather ambiguous, “Eyeeahuuh….” The hunt was on. I glanced down several aisles - no Adam.  Of course I was calling his name, but not too loudly, cause I didn’t want to alert the store to my poor parenting skills.  I was just about to move on to another row, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a few pairs of pants move – with no shopper in sight.  AHA!  I marched myself right over there, still calling for my little delinquent, but there was NO SOUND.   Folks, he was laying on his back, between rows of clothes on both sides, under the rack.  If he hadn’t kicked those pants, there’s no way I could have seen him.  And he was completely silent, even after I parted the pants -hehe! – and spotted him.  What did he have to say for himself?  “I hiding!”  Thank you, Captain Obvious.)

And finally, no Liz project would be complete without the Procratinated parts: Although I did remember to make a pom pom for Leah’s tail the night before, there were several other pieces that made us dangerously late for the party.

1) Banana holster.  That’s what we’re calling it, folks.  Not a purse.  Got it?  Without the banana, he looks like a bear.  But there is no way that a 5 year boy is going to keep track of a paper-mache banana for more than 2 minutes, tops.  Holster was zipped together after lunch Sunday.

2) Bunny tummy.  Luckily for me, I somehow have large quantities of pink felt.  It is stitched onto the sweatshirt with embroidery floss, because someday I’d like my sweatshirt back. 

3) Bunny carrot.  That little bit is strategic, as it covers up the Nike swoosh.  And again, it’s awfully handy to have felt in a wide variety of colors.

The kids were happy, I didn’t spend a bunch of money on crap that’s gonna fall apart in 3 days, and the parts I DID buy they can wear as real, honest-to-goodness clothes.

Except maybe for the ears.

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Do you have a favorite costume that was assembled on your own (or by your parent on their own)?

Most important meal of the day.

Magazines are a standard in our house.  Personally I read a bi-monthly, 2 monthlies, and a weekly, with a random Sports Illustrated thrown here and there.

Most of the mags I read have at least a few recipes in them.  And inevitably, some of them are “breakfast” recipes.

WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!

Parenting  seems to assume that a simple breakfast includes things like quesadillas, muffins, or smoothies.  Folks, maybe this is “simple” in your world, but in my world, those options would make my family suspicious.  Like, “what kind of trick is Mom pulling on us now?” suspicious.  Or possibly, they might wonder if they woke up on Christmas morning, the one time of year I attempt a “fancy” breakfast. (Muffins would probably be fine if I could plan ahead enough to make them.  But baking also makes my family suspicious.)

A simple breakfast to me is the one I grew up eating: boxed cereal with milk.  Is there suddenly something wrong with this?  If so, I’m passing on the evil to my kids, who have had mostly that for their short lives. (Just to clarify, my kids eat Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Frosted MiniWheats, Life…you know, kinda semi-sugar cereals. And FINE, Lucky Charms on special occasions.)  It gives me a warm little feeling of reminiscence when I see them building walls with the boxes, right before I yell at them to stop bothering their brother/sister/mother.

Except, of course, for the times I give them the same morning treat that my mom made us kids…chocolate Malt O Meal.  Yum.
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But I have to admit that the pressure to give my kids a June Cleaver start to their morning is rubbing off on me.  Since we are staying at home in the mornings now, and aren’t quite as rushed as when we are trying to NOT have Leah late for school, I’ve decided that I might try some different breakfast options.

For instance, the last two years I have had to struggle with Ben to eat his breakfast.  It just seemed that he wasn’t ready to eat until about an hour or so after getting up…um…that didn’t work too well for our get-out-of-the-house strategy.  With our new flexibility, every once in awhile I let Ben have toast for breakfast instead of cereal + milk, which he says is too cold for his belly.

When the weather decides to get cold for reals, my plan is to try this recipe for crockpot oatmeal.  The kids love the instant stuff, but it’s so filled with sugar that if they want more than one packet, I make them use the plain, unflavored one.  Suck it, kiddos.  You didn’t have to harvest it yourself – count yourselves lucky.
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Other breakfast options for normal-ish mornings at our house would include bagels with cream cheese, possibly yogurt & fruit, and for me…a toasted English muffin with ricotta & drizzled with honey.  And then some Greek yogurt.  My little mommy treat.

Any other suggestions for real-world simple breakfasts?  What do you eat at YOUR house?  Did you grow up building cereal-box walls around yourself, too?  Just to avoid you siblings LOOKING at you?

Robbing my kids of joy…one holiday at a time.

This isn’t really what I pictured when I mentioned that I may start doing some “hot topic” posts. But apparently Halloween is a bit of an issue for me.  I have written past posts about why my family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but if you don’t want to click through to those links, I’ll summarize briefly for you:

1) Aaron (my husband) grew up with essentially NO holidays.  Since our little family DOES celebrate most holidays in some way, this one (which I’ve never been too excited about) seems like a small compromise.

2)  Halloween makes me think of creepy stuff and people acting naughty.  What about that is something we should celebrate?

3)  People have told me, “It’s just for fun, don’t worry about it!” but I really think our society could use MORE thinking, and LESS fun.  Not that I’m anti-fun.  Just a fan of thinking about it first!

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In past years, I have let the kids dress up to hand out candy.  This has always bugged Aaron, since it seems too close to celebrating, and too picky about the “rules”.  This year, I’m contemplating just avoiding it all together – let’s leave the house, and just go do something else, maybe?

If there was a good harvest/fall party, I would let the kids pick out costumes and go.  In fact, I’m getting dangerously close to hosting one myself.  I think I would shoot for sometime closer to Thanksgiving.  And even if other kids dressed up for Halloween, they could get some extra use out of the costume…hmmm…I’m thinking of ideas already.  I’m such a dork.

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Just to be clear, we are not banning fun in general.  My kids can have candy generally whenever they ask for it. (Still enjoying candy from a parade this summer!) And I’ll let them each pick a bag of “the good stuff” to choose from for the fall.  Also, I give the kids a few Thanksgiving presents.  This is what I remind them of when they are whining about not getting to go trick or treating.  Who ELSE gets Thanksgiving presents?!

To be consistent (and also because I don’t see the point of them), we also don’t tell our kids about the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.  No, they will NOT be ruining your kids’ fun, at least not on purpose.  They’ve been told that some kids believe in them, and they are NOT to go blurting out that they are a fairy tale. (Easter is usually on or close to Ben’s birthday and only a month before Leah’s, so the extra gifts/candy aren’t really necessary.)

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Speaking of fairies.  Leah has a minor obsession with the pixies, and has for awhile, even though I’ve been clear with her from the beginning that they aren’t real.  So when the Tooth Fairy was due to make an appearance….she was rather crestfallen.  We had a sweet little conversation about it, though, and decided to play the game anyway.  I didn’t set out to ruin THAT fun, but Ben was kinda freaking out at the thought of something creeping into his room in the middle of the night.  I HAVE A KID LIKE THAT, folks.  Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t have a guy sliding down our chimney or a rabbit hiding stuff in our house.  At least the leprechauns leave chocolate coins when they make a mess.  WHAT?  I have some friends who do Valentines Day in a big way…I lean towards mischief.  It’s a good way to make it through the winter.

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You think I’m a freak?  Ok. You are probably correct.
You think I’m a joy kill?  You are entitled to think that way, although my kids joyful personalities beg to differ.
Maybe you think I’m reading too much into a simple holiday? I’m really okay with my kids seeing me make thoughtful decisions, and not just go along with the status quo. (Although don’t get me wrong – I don’t think poorly of those who choose to dress up and beg for candy.:)
Or perhaps you are thinking more along the lines of religious extremists or zealots? I can only hope so, but not in the scary violent way the terms are used these days.

What I would love is some non-Halloween activities to do with the kids, or ways to avoid looking like the Grinch dressed in orange & black.    Any thoughts on that?

In small quantities, fear is a good thing!

The summer that Leah was about 18 months old, and probably the next summer too, every time I tried to take her swimming I spent about 3/4 of the time trying to coerce her into actually getting into the water.  About 15 minutes before it was time to leave she’d finally decide to enjoy herself.

When Ben was that same age and stole a kid’s boat at a wading pool, I had a brain flash and put some of our excess bath toys into a bag to keep with the swimming paraphernalia (swim diapers, chlorine-removing shampoo, swimsuits, towels, sunscreen.  Keeping it together in one place makes it sooo much easier to just GO.)  He was a bit more interested in the water, but true to his cautious nature, spent most of the time holding my hands or legs.

They have both taken swimming lessons for at least 2 years now, and Ben is still nervous about jumping off the edge of the pool, especially without someone catching him.  If fact, he WON’T jump unless he thinks someone is going to catch him.  Too bad his mom is kindof a liar in that department. (We’ll just call it a Tiger Mother streak…I KNOW he can do it!)

But this 3rd baby, on the other hand…

What did I expect, when he was doing THIS at just over a year?

There is no hesitation about water for this kid.  He is IN IT from the moment we say okay, and sometimes almost before he has his swim diaper/trunks on!

Late last week we went to a wading pool, and instead of depending on me to play with him, Adam took charge and spent the time walking around on his own…and only periodically commanding me to “One two FREE!” and swing him into the water.  Impressively, he did a pretty good job staying upright, and only slipped under three times.  I grabbed him immediately the first time, and he hardly seemed to notice.  The second time he dunked under but had gotten his footing by the time I made the two steps over.  The third time I was there right away again, but he required a short comforting before diving – or stepping – in the water again.

Each time we go swimming, he gets bolder and closer to giving us a heart attack.  Yesterday we all went swimming, Daddy included.  After Adam got tired of walking around in water up to his chin, he did a little dance on the side of the pool, on a penninsula-type of thing.  It was great entertainment for everyone, even the lifeguard. Then he started walking on the filtered border of the pool, about a foot wide.  At first he was on my side of the penninsula (chin deep on him), but he quickly rounded the corners and was one topple from being in water 5 feet deep.  Aaron was closer than I was, but I knew he wouldn’t be able to get there in time.

As I hoisted myself out of the water, I checked the lifeguard’s position – and yes, she was paying attention and looked ready to jump in at a second’s notice.  Reassuring that I wasn’t the only the one anticipating his actions!

I walked along side Adam for a bit before redirecting him to shallower waters.  Soon he was going down the slide (no water running on it, just at the bottom)  – on his belly with feet first – whereas on our previous visit he refused to go at all. 

I guess I’ll get used to having my eyes on him constantly  – and having my blood pressure spike periodically.  It’s all just another relaxing summer afternoon!

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Have you had any close calls around water?  (Let’s keep it light – I’m aware that there are plenty of tragedies surrounding water and children, and if you’ve experienced that, you have all my sympathies.  That possibility is why we will never have a pool, and why I make sure to have plenty of eyes on my kids, and usually life jackets too.)

Breaking up is hard to do.

Every so often, I realize that my email inbox is filling up with more newsletters and sales offers than it is genuine MAIL.  So for the next few weeks, instead of just deleting those irritating epistles, I go to the bottom of the message where there is usually a “click here to unsubscribe” button.  In less than 30 seconds (10 if my internet is really feeling spicy that day) that job is done and there is one less piece of trash for me to look at.

This job usually ends up happening after Christmas, since my online gift shopping lands me on a lot of lists.

With the inbox tackled and somewhat cleaned out (I’m still trying to figure out how to get off the Yahoo support group for encopresis) my new goal is to reduce the number of catalogs that come into the house.  Aaron asks if it’s worth the effort, and I said, “What effort?!”  It literally takes about a minute to call the 1-800 number on the back of the catalog, ask the employee if I can be removed from their mailing list (I almost always have a real person answer the phone, btw – no holding!) and then read of the customer number from the catalog.  Done and DONE.  Consider it a minuscule effort towards saving the earth. 

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Here’s some that I’ve had to part ways with:

Williams-Sonoma?  Let’s face it.  Your filled pancakes look delicious, but I am probably NEVER going to make them, even with your delightful pans.  Anything I’ve ever purchased from you I’ve bought online or in a real store, not from the catalog.  Let’s face it – it’s over.

Crate and Barrel?  You have no delicious pancakes on your pages, but what you do have is miles of beautiful rooms, all waiting for Adam to finger paint with a banana or the gigantic chocolate candy Aaron gave him at lunch today.  My bedroom is furnished and I have plenty of tablecloths.  Outdoor furniture at our house needs to be considered potentially disposable – no designer fabrics and cushions!  Adios, amigo.

Lands End?  I love your sales, and Leah loves your knit dresses – but do I REALLY need to get several mini-catalogs a month? Womens’, mens’, kids’, swim, home, clearance…it’s YOU, not me.  You’ve been put on notice.

Pottery Barn?  Have I EVER bought anything from you?  Anywhere?  How did I get ON this list in the first place?  It almost makes me physically nauseated to think that anyone would spend $60 on a  set of kids’ sheets.  Do they knowthat they’ll probably get puked on at some point?!  Sayonara.

L.L.Bean?  How much hiking do you think I do?  Lands End has all my needs in the “basic and sturdy” department covered.  Here’s the door.

Even the man-catalogs are biting the dust.  Cabela’s and Crutchfield are gone, although I am giving Sportsmans’ Guide a pass for now. 

But totally random catalog ULINE?  You don’t even care enough to have our name in your records AND your catalog seriously weighs at least a pound. gone, Gone, GONE!

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Do you get a catalog or magazine that should be on a similar list?  Have you taken action yet?

Is there another way I can eliminate more junk mail?  We already get most of our bills online.  Is there a magical way to only get subscription reminders when yours is actually running out? (I almost just re-subscribed for a parenting magazine that doesn’t expire until Sept 2012!)

Keep or Toss: This is the question.

Last week, my husband went to a friend’s house to watch some basketball game.  I think it might have been part of some big tournament going on?  I don’t follow these things, people. (Just kidding – I know it is the NCAA tournament.  No need for intervention.)

Anyway, since he was gone for the evening, I had a girlfriend over. And we threw out a whole lot of stuff.

See, Wendy has talked about scrapbooking (which I love) and I overheard her talking about feeling overwhelmed.  This is one of my personal missions, to help people get a handle on their albums.  I insisted she bring over whatever needed to be sorted, and I would help.

She brought 2 large tubs, 3 smaller boxes to file into, and another smaller tub. By the end of the evening, we had emptied the smaller tub and one of the larger ones.  We designated a file box for each of her girls, and one for her husband (who is as sentimental as she is).

Why do I say she is sentimental?  Because she not only KEPT but also DATED numerous little pieces of paper which her girls had scribbled on at least 2 years ago.  (She is an artist, so obviously anything art-related is going to be hard for her to throw away.) Complicating things for her was moving twice within a year.  And her oldest daughter starting kindergarten during that year.  And, God bless her, that kindergarten teacher is ALSO a sentimental  and artistic soul who sent home numerous notes and poems, along with more artwork than you ever thought a five-year-old would be capable of producing.  At the time, Wendy said, “it just felt easier to throw everything into a box.”  Therefore, that large tub contained birthday calendars, weekly class newsletters, monthly school newsletters, art projects, and possibly every worksheet done for class.

It’s all gone now.  Except for the newsletters that featured her child and select art projects (because there’s a whole portfolio still at home with the “important” projects).  The smaller tub had more memoribilia type items from before their move to this area: playbills, birthday cards, and the aforementioned scribbles.  The majority of these items were sorted into the appropriate daughter’s box.

It’s so easy to let this happen.  Life piles up, and if you don’t deal with it head on, it will start filling up storage containers, and before you know it, you are moving tubs filled with paper that belongs in the garbage (or recycle bin, if you are that type.  Usually I am, but that night, we were ready to unload.)

Not that I’m claiming to be an expert by any means.  I am a pile-er extraordinaire, and clutter is definitely a struggle.  But I’ve worked purposely to eliminate this particular issue from our lives.  My key step for dealing with kid-related papers?  EMPOWER THE KID.

This art gallery is the first stop for any artwork that comes in the door.  Once an item needs to be replaced by something newer, I choose what I want to keep.  The “MOM KEEPS” items go into a box in a nearby cabinet – one box (it’s a larger plastic sweater box) per year for all 3 kids.  The boxes are labeled at the end of the school year and put on the top shelf of my closet. 

Items that I pass on (because of size or simply the lack of artistic input.  I don’t feel too committed to cut-and-paste projects!) go to Leah.  She can decide to toss them (which she actually does sometimes!) or to hang them here, in her bedroom:

The entire blue area is corkboard, installed by the previous owner who had a son who liked sport posters.  It words equally well for a daughter who likes art.  And yes, I hung up the selections on the far left, which is why they are tacked up so high AND so well-spaced.:)

When all the tacks are used up, Leah gets to decide what comes down.  And then we go through it again:  What gets thrown and what gets kept – the “keep” items go into a plastic box in her own closet.  When that box is full, we will re-evaluate again.

This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s really not, since it doesn’t all happen at once.  And it’s amazing how few battles we have over throw/keep.  Like, NONE.  It’s lovely.  Just being able to look at something for awhile and to have that recognition makes it much easier for her to say goodbye.

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But what about all those other papers? you are asking.  Here are my personal rules:

Birthday cards – I only keep the ones with a personal note written in them.  If someone just signs their name, I toss it.  Wendy actually had one with NOTHING written in it – she could re-use it!  I totally would.  Wendy had two other birthday related items, a checklist of thank you notes to be written, and a list of gifts and their givers.  Guess which I had her throw? (I think it would be fun to look back at a gift list and see what you remember playing with, but didn’t remember when you got it.  Um…maybe this is just me.)

Schoolwork – Yes, we have kept some of Leah’s worksheets although she is convinced that I toss it all.  Her first “real” test I kept, in addition to the entire folder saved by her teacher for the two parent-teacher conferences.  Wendy and I both kept our girls’ Book-It reading program lists from last year – it’s so cute to see what they were reading!  Leah wrote some of the titles herself, so they are keepers right there because of the handwriting samples!

Newsletters – TOSS.  Except the weekly class one featuring Leah – and her amazing teacher would send home a color copy for the mom of the student of the week.  So thoughtful!

Playbills – I’m kinda a theater geek, so these are tough for me.  If it could be important to your kid, keep it.  I still remember going to a production of Peter Pan (albeit vaguely, since I was younger than 6 yrs old) partially because my Mom kept a newspaper clipping about the show.

My guiding principle is:  Will this be important to my kid when they are 20 years old?  Of course, to us moms, everything our child touches has special significance.  But to them, as college students, less is more. 

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Another one of my personal philosophies:  scrapbooks are for photos and smaller memorabilia like ticket stubs, a few special birthday cards, a program or two.  All the rest of that can stay in a box or tub of some kind, as long as it is sorted and labeled.

Whew.  That was a whole lot of high-and-mightiness from me.  But I haven’t shown you what it looks like when two adults move multiple times and keep putting their own memories in different containers.  CONSOLIDATION needs to happen, and right now it is nearly impossible to walk through my craft room thanks to all the tossing and sorting that need to be done.

In the meantime, I hope you feel empowered to throw away a few worksheets, and when I’m whining about a box of letters a friend wrote me in high school, feel free to remind me of my own rules.

Or go nuts and make it “GREAT!”

A few things I am tired of:

 - Snow.  PLEASE go away soon…but not TOO soon, as we really don’t want another flood on our hands. Or in our basements.

-  Cleaning up the same baskets of Hot Wheels and plastic dinosaurs, every.blessed.day. 

- Having my kitchen island covered in Legos and assorted Lego accessories (more dinosaurs and a forest of trees)

- Being behind in my scrapbooking.

- Moms who beat themselves up while trying to achieve “perfect” status.

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I may not have much say in the first four complaints (the Legos on the counter are there to avoid the grasp of the toddler.  Never mind that he’s started perching on a stool and playing with them right along with the big kids.  It might be safer to put them on the floor.  But then they would be EVERYWHERE.) but I’m here today to take a stand on that last issue.

Mommies of the world, it is time to STAND UP and say, “I AM A GOOD MOM!”  Somehow the status of “good mom” has gotten so full of baggage.  To be a “good mom” you have to do everything – birthdays, after-school activities, volunteer, craft, cook, and read with your kids…and those are just the mainstream demands.  In some circles, to be a “good mom” you could probably add: serve only organic homecooked meals, garden, homeschool, cloth-diaper, and build a windmill to maintain self-sufficiency.

Does anyone else get anxious just reading that list?  But I am here to tell you that you only need to do TWO THINGS to be a good mom:  1) Love your kids, and 2) Try to do what’s best for them.

Raise your hand if you’ve got those two things covered!  YAY!  YOU are a good mom, too!

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Lately I’ve heard from lots of moms that they just don’t feel like they are good at being a mommy.  And I KNOW that these ladies fully meet MY criteria for a good mom.  It’s just that there are so many expectations on us, and we are so emotionally tied into our kids that it’s hard to be objective.

Remember before you had kids?  Did you have a career?  Do you have a career NOW?  (For me it was teaching middle school.)  Think about your time in that position.  Chances are, you probably felt like you were a good employee.  If you have an inflated ego, as I do, you may even think you were gifted in your field. 

Now, while you were in your career, being successful, did you sometimes have a day where you knew you were not up to par?  Just had an off day?  Sure.  But you were still a good employee, right?

How about a mistake – ever make a mistake on the job?  A few people voiced fairly major mistakes on my Facebook page – but I happen to know that both those ladies were/are fully capable employees.

Was there anything about that career that you didn’t like?  That you could have very done without, thankyouverymuch? (Grading 200 essays comes to mind…)  Most definitely.  Even if it was just having an annoying coworker, I’m sure there was some not-so-pleasant aspect. 

What does this tell us?  That we are MUCH harder on ourselves as parents (dads, I’ll include you here as well, although I don’t think society puts quite the same amount of pressure on you.) than we are as wage-earners.  That might be appropriate, seeing as we are raising a human being and not just punching a time clock.  It’s also important to remember they ARE human beings we are raising, and not robots. Which means that even if WE are the perfect parent, that is no gaurantee that our KIDS will turn our perfectly.

Just do me a favor.  The next time you start to think, “Man, this stinks,” or “I really screwed up, ” or “This would have gone better if I’d done it differently…” , go ahead and claim it.  YES, it stinks to have to clean up the same messes, made by the same annoying kids.  YES, moms & dads screw up. (Even nearly perfect ones, like me.) And YES, sometimes we learn from those mistakes.  That doesn’t change the fact that we are good parents.  In fact, we can’t learn if we don’t make mistakes.  And learning is a good thing!

One more time, people:  I AM A GOOD PARENT!  If you want to do a little fist pump while yelling it, I won’t judge you.  I’ll be over here, applauding.  And picking up dinosaurs.