Monday, April 25, 2011

How Mommy Guilt is Taking Years Off My Life

Pregnancy and childbirth has always intrigued me.   It may have started when I had the fortune/misfortune of seeing my (much) younger sister born.  

That's her, by the way.  Hot Stuff McGhee.   One of my favorite hobbies is finding pictures like this of her.  

Anyways, after seeing Hot Stuff born I was pretty hooked.  Not like 16 and Pregnant hooked, but interested none the less.  It really is fascinating if you stop and think about it.   9 months (or as the Rooster says after dealing with a pregnant me a couple times "40 weeks sounds more like 10 months to me!")  and a whole new person is created. 

Well, lo and behold, approximately on day 3 of the Rooster and my honeymoon I became pregnant.   Surprise, surprise!   Beats the other souvenirs we brought back from Mexico with us by far. 

Anyways, finding myself all up and impregnated, I did what I always do when something new happens in my life.  I Googled my fingers to the bone in my relentless pursuit on becoming intimately acquainted with what exactly was going on with that tiny soul growing in my belly and heart.  

In my incessant Googling, I stumbled upon a message board of other Googln' Mommas-to-be who were expecting around the same time as me.   Upon meeting this group of women (many of whom I keep in contact with today... Hey girls!!)  my eyes were opened to something that What to Expect When You Are Expecting doesn't touch.  

It is in a nutshell what is called Mommy Guilt    Apparently, somewhere along all my learnings I missed the fact that when it comes to parenting, more specifically mothering, there are some very strong opinions on what to do and even stronger on what not to do.   And the craziest part of all is that sometimes most of the time you drive yourself insane trying to decide what exactly what your own opinion on child rearing exactly looks like. 

For example:

Natural vs Medicated Birth

Cloth vs 'Posie (Diapering for those who haven't walked this road)

Circumcision vs Non-circumcision (Penises for those who don't have one.   Oh, and I don't.... Goose tells me that every night while naming what everyone she knows has.)

Breast vs Bottle

And those are just a sampling of that a new mother gets to make before she even takes her precious bundle home from the hospital.   I've got to tell you, I wasn't prepared for all this.  I thought I'd make my choices and then leave it at that.   I didn't even really think of them as choices to be honest.   I was just going to do what my family (disposable diapers) or culture (circumcision) or educated choice (breastfeeding) told me to do.    

But it wasn't that simple because when I became with child, every choice I made took on new meaning.  

"What if using disposable diapers leaves him sterile?"

"What if breastfeeding leads him to be a weirdo with an infatuation with breast?"

"What if they cut off more than they are suppose to?"   (I likely just lost any male readers I may have had.)

The what if's went on and on.   And the crazy part is that Mommy Guilt continues to keep me awake a night nearly 5 years in now.  Only now it is a totally different set of questions...  

"What if he isn't really ready for kindergarten?"  

"What if she doesn't learn to potty till she's 15?"   *Disclaimer... I am totally okay with her not pottying yet.  See... Mommy Guilt made me write that.  

And the biggest biggie of all the big "what if's"...

"What if they resent me for having to work?"  

And furthermore, I realize that someday the "what if's" will become even bigger. 

"What if she doesn't realize what a huge jerk he is to her?"


"What if he drives too fast and...."  

And so on and so on and so on.  

I've come to the conclusion that the "what if's" of Mommy Guilt are never going to go away.  I take that back.  I am sure one day the "what if's" will be replaced with "I wish I would have...".  

Additionally, I've come to realize that there is a purpose to this Mommy Guilt aside from the bags it has put under my eyes.   The purpose is that the choices I make about them and for them are some of the most important I will ever be allowed to make.   I won't ever get a "re-do" with Bub's or Goose's childhoods.   So, I guess even if they do give me the finger in their Easter picture, they are worth all the self-doubt and questioning I put myself through.  

So, for fellow guilt ridden mothers....   What is you deepest Mommy Guilt, and how do you deal with it? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Morning and Other Things that Require Tylenol

I love traditions.   Even as a young child, the anticipation on the evening of Thanksgiving knowing that the next day our Christmas tree would go up was more than I could stand. 

I think that just about every holiday we celebrate (including birthdays) has several traditions tied to them.  And I will admit I can, to a certain extent, be very particular about the preservation of these traditions.   So, when something is skewed with how I envision a certain holiday experience should go, I become, well... what we call in the South "ugly". 

Well, today just so happens to be a holiday!   I have been very excited for a few weeks because Easter was extra late this year.   In our house, we do celebrate Easter as being the resurrection of Jesus.   Though we do celebrate some secular aspects of Easter (there is an Easter Bunny that visits our house and we do dye eggs), when questioned my children will firstly tell you that Easter is about Jesus. 

And since we do believe that Jesus is the purpose of celebrating Easter, we do spend Easter morning at church.  And everyone knows that Easter morning at church is the day when you are suppose to look your shiniest and your prettiest.  

Well, of course that is unless you are the mother of two young children.  If that is a case, you just try to find something that isn't stained and will cover you enough to chase your children under the benches if the alter call gets a little lengthy.  

But, even if Momma looks like an exhausted ragamuffin, her children must look GOOD come Easter morning for church.  Tradition dictates it.  So, after wrassling the chocolate bunny away from your two year-old (and yes, I did say "wrassling"... "wrestling" just doesn't cut it for this mighty fight) it is time to dress your youngn's like it's prom night.  

So, with no further ado, this morning at the Hen's House...  

After convincing Goose that this morning was not the time to go barefooted and Bub that even though I also love his Scooby Doo shirt it was not appropriate, I finally got my babies dressed in their Easter outfits.  

I know I am bias, but I must say they looked good!  Really good!  Goose had on a beautiful fuschia dress with orange accents that I planned Bub's plaid shorts and orange shirt around.  

So, I do what every church going mother does Easter morning (when it isn't too cold).  I marched them outside to have their picture made in front of our blooming rhodendrums.   I already had the frame planned I was going to put it in.  

That's when things go a little foggy.   Bub decided that he wanted to "super secret spy who doesn't like to get his picture made".  Goose decided that she was, in fact, not going to wear shoes to church.  And the dog decided he needed to relieve himself directly behind them.  

I don't think this is quite the "framer" I had in mind:

Maybe a new tradition is born.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

10 Reasons Why Bub Shouldn't Start Kindergarten

I am really struggling with the fact that my (very) soon-to-be 5 year-old, first born child will be beginning his formal education in less than 4 months.   The "yesterday" of learning he would become part of our family feels far too near for us to be making this huge step.  

Just between me and you, I'm going to be honest here.  I do not want him to begin school.  All of the tactics I have tried (everything from holding off another year to homeschooling) have been vehemently shot down by my husband and our families.   So, with a grimace on my face, I am going to have to hand over my baby.   But, I still don't have to a like it.  So, in one last ditch effort here is 10 reasons why Bub should not start kindergarten this year.  

10.   They don't allow backpacks.   They require tote bags.  I'm not going to be the one to break it to him that he won't get to rock the Scooby Doo backpack.   That's all on you, Rooster.  

9.  He has worn out all his jeans.   Poor thing will have to go naked.  

8.  It is highly possible that he will has a larger knowledge base of Hall and Oates, Bon Jovi, and Jackson 5 than his music teacher.  And I know that his rendition of Werewolves of London is better.  

7.  Somebody's got to take care of these dern chickens.  

6.  Speaking of Scooby Doo.... I doubt that his teacher will pretend she's Daphne and refer to him as Fred.  

5.  He is on about an every 2 hour feeding schedule.   Didn't see that on those sample schedules they showed us at round-up.  

4.  His sister is not going to have anyone to yell at except her Mamaw Dale now.  

3.  You've seen him.  You know there's going to be some brokenhearted 5 year-old little girls.

2.  Kindergarten teachers won't respond the same to "I'm done!" yelled from the bathroom as Momma does.

1.  He's still a baby.  He's my baby. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jiggly Bottoms and Other Things from Childhood

The easiest way to explain what I do professionally is to say that I do consultation and training for early childhood teachers.   When I tell people that, they often get this weird look on their face.  I think they get stuck on the word training.  I think they are thinking of personal training.   As in with treadmills and weights and stuff like that?  

No, that's not what I mean.  I mean training as in leading workshops for teacher's continuing education.   Lord knows my jiggly bottom ain't training and consulting on anyone else's jiggly bottom. 

Well, I take that back...  I do talk about this kind of jiggly bottom training.  


And no, she did not use the potty.  And yes, she does like to pretend she is talking on the phone while she doesn't use the potty.  

Anyways...  Back to me not being a personal trainer.  Since the type of training that I do do is on early childhood, there is a very common reflective activity that we do that involves asking the class to think back on the type of play they enjoyed most as a child.   Then they are asked to share as they feel lead on what they recalled.  

Often times you can see the happy emotions bubble up in the speaker's face as they explain exactly what type of play they enjoyed.   It almost becomes like when you find an old photo album that you haven't seen in years, however, as soon as you start to see the pictures you are instantly returned to those moments and emotions.  

Having the type of childhood experiences in which you want to return, even if it is just in the form of memories, is exactly what I want to give to my children.  

I want them to 20, 40, 60 years from now to be able to return to playing mountain climber on our back hill. 

Or to playing Pretty, Pretty, Puppy Princess Mommy. 

Or to swinging so high that for just an instant you teeter on joy of the ride and fear that you may actually tip over the swing set this time.  

I want them to remember the walks around our subdivision.  Our trips to the park.   Or that our kitchen was their art gallery that was theirs for the designing.  

What I am saying is that I want them to experience a rich childhood. However, I am finding that if I want that to be the case I have to be very deliberate about it.  

Many of the "I will never..." that I said I wouldn't allow BEFORE having children have crept into our lives.

You know the ones... 

"I will never allow my child to watch tv."

"I will never let my children go to bed without a bedtime story."

"I will never let me children eat french fries." 

And a hundred other things. 

But, the truth is they watch way too much tv. 

Some days go by and I realize I haven't read to them.  

They eat fast food at least weekly.  

Sometimes they put on so much make-up while you're not looking that they look like an extra for Jersey Shores.  


Sometimes you send them to their room for sassing you, and they end up falling asleep like a homeless man under the Sunday paper.

Errr... I think I'm getting off track. 

What I am trying to say is that I've learned that in order to be a good mother, you have to let go of being a perfect mother.   I am going to say it again and expect a chorus of "Amens". 

In order to be a good mother, you have to let go of being a perfect mother.   And really maybe having a good mother (and/or father) is truly the key to having the kind of childhood to which you want to go back. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10 Things I Lub about Goose...

10.  Her love of her "barn boots" (i.e. fuzzy brown winter boots that are 5 sizes too big that are permanently muddy).  My favorite is when she wears them with just her diaper.  

9.   The fact that she would rather have a new kitten than a new baby.  And she means it.  And no, I'm not pregnant, Mom.  

8.  That my lexicon has been altered to use lub and bootiful in place of how the rest of the English speaking world says them.  Sorry... can't help it.  

7.  That when in Sunday School the craft was to make a best friend bracelet, she gave it to me.  

6.  That she is a listener.  A really, really good listener.  

5.  Don't confuse number 5 with me meaning she listens to what I ask her to do.  That would not be on the 10 Things I Lub about her list...

4.  Where her brother has loved us (and everyone he knows for that matter) since he was old enough begin to grasp it, you have to earn Goose's love.  You know her love for you is genuine.  

3.  She is completely okay and 100% insistent that she is my baby.  See number 9. 

2.  She loves to take care of other people.   If you need a Band-Aid or someone to hold a icepack on your boo-boo, homegirl is on it.  

1.  She makes me smile and laugh like no one else.  She frustrates me like no one else.   She envokes some of the strongest emotions in me.  She teaches me everyday something new about myself, about her, about the world.  She is, after all, my baby.