Double Cart, Single Kid

Double Cart, Single KidVisiting my brother and sister-in-law out of town one weekend, she and I ran to the store to grab some groceries. As I saw a mom with one child pushing the decked-out, double-seated car basket, I voiced my frustration to my sister-in-law how I don’t appreciate when single kids get that cart and I’m left with the regular single-seat basket while juggling my one- and two-year-old children. Within our conversation she voiced that her one young daughter really enjoys the treat of riding in the cart and how the little special things can make a child’s day.

Later, I read a blog post written by a mom with multiple children in which she strongly held her opinion about the pet peeve of single children in double carts. A couple of days later came the response of a “singleton” mom. I had three thoughts about my talk with my sister-in-law. First, Man, I put my foot in my mouth! Second, my sister-in-law is a sweet heart. Last, I really hope I was not as self-centered in that moment as I am fairly certain I must have been.

Herein lies the trouble with so-called mommy wars: Both sides often have good points. Yes, there is general consensus among everyone that breastmilk offers additional benefits; there are a number of real, relatable reasons a family may need or choose formula. There are multiple perspectives with co-sleeping vs. crib, babywearing vs. stroller, homeschooling vs. public school, and more.

All moms have their struggles no matter the number of children or the particular issues of each individual child. In the case of the grocery cart, I think one of the underlying assumptions we don’t mention is the “might” that comes with an increased number of children. For example, moms with multiple kids may talk down to mothers of “just” one kid, forgetting how much of a challenge it was to have one kid when they were in the midst of it. It was the training that came with “just” one kid that helped prepare them for more. Likewise, I often see “choice” cited for women with more children—as in, you had them all (and by all, here in America, we mean any more than 2) by choice so now you must never, ever complain about it.

My work and family leave me intensely depleted at the end of some days (many days…). And now another mama wants me to see her personal, intricately personal point of view, consider how she lives out her similar values? Ain’t nobody got time for that! But I need to find the time, because the world does not revolve around my life experience. My values are not the gold standard. I don’t make meaning of her life through my life; her life has meaning—and worth— in and of itself. When I try to see her through my perspective, I miss out on hers. It only takes a second to bite your tongue.

My sister-in-law had a kind response to my soapbox at the time. She said, “Well, I never thought about it that way. That’s a good point.” Of course I don’t know what was happening internally, but since she listened to me I felt open enough to consider her point of view as well. She’s juggling a young one and elementary-aged kiddo. I don’t need to compare it to my situation of one- and two-year-old. Both of us are working our tails off to meet a thousand different wants and needs from a dozen different sources every single day.

I say WE should ride around in those carts and our loved ones can push US around.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Tags: parenting, mommy wars, infants, toddlers, motherhood

Friday, October 9, 2015
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Why Are Moms So Mean?

Bullying seems to be a hot topic with a lot of parents right now in schools; affecting our little ones left and right. But when you look closely you’ll see that it is happening in other places besides the playground; between adults, between grown women, and especially between moms.

Why are Moms so Mean?I wonder when it became okay to insert our parenting opinions and beliefs on others. Why are we so concerned with the hows and whys of how other people parent? Maybe it is the pressure we feel as women to have it all and do it all, but when one of our own succeeds, it seems like more often than not our gut reaction is to criticize. Unfortunately, the rise of social media has made it increasingly easy to do so.

Recently I saw an article on the Today Show parenting Facebook feed. It was a car seat invention that a woman invented with Intel to help parents and caregivers remember not to leave their child in a hot car. The inventor happens to be a mother, an engineer, and a former professional cheerleader. The comments on the article were harsh and critical and coming almost entirely from other females. They bashed her past as a cheerleader, her appearance, even the way she buckled her child into the car for the fake photo shoot. There was almost nothing in the comments section that was positive. The irony of the moment was not lost on me: Here we are, tearing down the woman whose career it was to cheer on others. We live in a society where it has become so easy to go for the jugular right from the comfort of our living room with no repercussions.

Why are Moms So Mean?When our days are filled with the precarious balancing act of trying to be great wives, mothers, friends, employees, leaders, and teachers, the very last thing we need is to be criticized and judged. Our feminist counterparts from generations before would be so disappointed in how we treat one another.

We are better than snide remarks on social media. We are better than judging parenting styles we don’t understand. We, as women, are far better than petty meanness. Another woman’s success is not our failure. We need to build each other up, complement each other, and help one another succeed.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

Thursday, October 8, 2015
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My Pregnancy: Week 9

Week 9I’m a keep-it-quiet kind of gal. I can’t keep a secret from my husband—it’s literally a joke between us; I can’t even keep his Christmas gifts a secret. Generally though, I don’t need people all up in my business. I learned around the time we got engaged that people shower all sorts of attention on you and borderline intrude, as if life milestones give a free pass to ask and say things you would never otherwise say. So I like to keep mum. I even preferred to keep mum about becoming a mom.

That said, I recognize that my having a baby is important not only to me but to other people in my life. Family and friends want and deserve to share in our joys, even if it means all the older ladies at the church are going to storm me at the wind level of a category three tornado. I’d say more than that, but there’s no reason to be unrealistically dramatic. I generally leave the periphery of friends and extended family to my parents and husband. They are great at getting the word out and love to be a part of the sharing. But hubby and I got to share with the family.

One family lives near and the other about 10 states away. It was important to us that they find out at a similar time. With our first, we told both moms on Mother’s Day with a poem in a card, except for one sister-in-law. Side note for those who are pregnant: If you are about to text your hubby, “Doc said baby looks great! Heard the heartbeat,” make sure you are texting your hubby and not your sister-in-law. Yeah. Learn from my texting errors. And, by the by, don’t trust your parents that they’ll head your advice to “wait until tomorrow to open the card.” Grandma M found out a day early.

With our second, we mailed sonogram photos to both sets of parents in Valentine’s Day cards. This time Grandpa M grabbed the mail and went to work late into the evening so Grandma M found out a day late. Of course, I did spill the beans to a different sister-in-law who was having a very rough week… or month as it might have been.  She was uplifted by the pick-me-up though I completely broke the protocol my hubby and I established for telling the family.

This time around we got lucky. The day of our first appointment hubby’s sisters and mother flew in for a special long weekend birthday visit. Over a year ago I saw two shirts on clearance that said “Big Brother,” though both were a size 3T. Turns out our younger guy still has his baby weight and can rock a 3T shirt at 22 months.

Hubby inconspicuously rolled video. Sister-in-law went outside because her kids called to say goodnight. One child refused to change clothes. Crying ensued when wardrobe change was required. (The picture above is the best one our youngest was willing to give that evening that wasn’t blurry in play.) My dad went to take a shower. Finally, there our boys played in the middle of the room for 15 minutes before anyone noticed! I don’t even know that we were still rolling video at that point. I was getting bored!

Google all you’d like about all the creative ways to reveal your pregnancy, but remember there are many ways to make a great story when the story is, in and of itself, already a bundle of ah-mazing.

Annie is a mom of two toddlers finding comfort in breakfast foods and the excitement of one little baby on the way. If only she could find time for even more sleep. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
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Parenting Through Trauma

Parenting Through Trauma“Mommy, I hungry.”

It’s a sentence you’re used to, one that peppers your every single day. It’s a request that is a part of a routine: an offering of snacks, a reminder that it’s almost time for the next meal, or a conversation about how ice cream is not a breakfast food.

But on this particular morning, these words weigh on you like an impossible burden.

Because whether you were up all night watching the minutes tick by, or you’ve been asleep since well before the sun went down, the idea of doing something that used to be so routine seems impossible.

At least, it can, when you’re experiencing trauma. “Trauma” on your favorite television show usually involves explosions, fires, and massive catastrophes. In reality, though, those traumas can take another form: Death. Betrayal. Infidelity.

Whatever label your heartache takes, it can be jarring to realize that though your world has stopped, the players around you have not. Dealing with trauma alone can feel like an arduous task. Adding parenting on top of it can seem impossible.

So when you hear that little voice pipe up, making what previously had been a much less daunting request, here are the ways to help you tread through today when you feel like barely keeping your head above water:

  • Give yourself permission. You might have ideas of what a “good mom” looks like, whether that is limited screen time or made-from-scratch organic foods for every meal. When it hurts to breathe, take out the extra. Let PBS do some parenting while you get a good cry in, order a pizza when it’s time for dinner. Your energy is finite, and you’re using up a lot of it on healing.
  • Let your kids see your sadness. You’re a person, and it is so beneficial for your kids to know that. They don’t have to know the intimate details of what caused you pain, but a simple, “Mommy’s feeling sad right now, and sometimes when Mommy’s sad, Mommy cries. It’s okay to cry when you’re sad.” Modeling emotion and acceptance of hard emotions not only allows you to process your difficult situation rather than stifle it, but also gives your children permission to acknowledge their hard emotions as well.
  • Ask for support. Call up your friends/family/carpool partner. You don’t have to share the details of the situation—a simple, “Something just happened and I’m in a really tough spot right now, and I could use some support.” It’s so hard to ask for help, and being vulnerable can be scary. Vulnerability is courage, and in letting our walls down to those who care for us, we increase our connections and are strengthened by our village.

If you are parenting through a personally difficult situation, remember the oxygen mask instructions on an airplane: It is important to put on your mask before you help someone else with theirs. You are worth taking care of.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
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Help–My Baby Cries When I Leave!

separation anxietyFor many babies, mommy is their favorite person. We nurture them. We nurse and feed them. We rock them. We come to them in their times of distress in the night. Babies just love their mommies. My son, Levi, prefers me over anyone most of the time. Lately, Levi has discovered that I’m not always around. He’s discovered strangers. He’s started showing signs of separation anxiety. 

Separation anxiety usually begins around 6-7 months of age. Babies start to realize that you are leaving, but they don’t understand that you will be back. Some babies don’t show much remorse when mommy or daddy leaves. Some lose their mind. My son Levi is 12 months. For the past couple months, he begins to cry and whimper when he knows I will be leaving. When I take him to childcare at the local YMCA, he is crying before I even sign his name on the line. If I leave the room and he is left with a friend or someone he is unfamiliar with, he cries for me.

Many children don’t show separation anxiety until 10-18 months of age. This can be even harder because toddlers want some control in their environment and they can cry and scream much louder and show their disapproval in a much more unpleasant manner. All of this is hard on mom.

Here are some tips on how to get through separation anxiety with your little one:

  • Get your baby familiar with other people. This one is hard for me. We live in an area where I don’t know many people and family isn’t close. Allow a babysitter, friend, or your spouse to spend one-on-one time with your baby to create a sense of security with other people.
  • Keep the exit short and sweet. When it’s time for you to leave, don’t stay around and keep talking to your baby. Say something like, “Bye, Levi! See you in a little while.” Then, leave. Don’t worry if your baby is still crying. I try to remind myself if Levi is still crying and unable to be calmed down, someone will come find me.
  • Reassure and redirect. If you are dealing with separation anxiety with an older baby or toddler, you can use your words to reassure them that you will be back. Create security with your child by giving them a hug and a high-five each day before you leave them. Give them something to look forward to as you head out the door.

I left Levi in the YMCA childcare one day this past week. For the first time ever, he didn’t cry when we arrived. He didn’t cry when I left him, and he didn’t cry the entire time I was gone. I was amazed. I am hoping he is getting more comfortable with mommy being gone.

The best part about leaving your baby for a little while is coming back to them. The smiles, wet, slobbery kisses and giggles make it all worth it. Separation anxiety is just one of the hurdles of motherhood we all face. Baby will be okay, and so will you. One day, our kids will run away from us when they see us in the parking lot looking uncool picking them up from school. Then we can all laugh about the tantrums and tears of separation anxiety.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two who lives, writes, and loves her babies in Northeast Indiana. 

Monday, October 5, 2015
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