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gratitude

The Art of Living Simply and Taking Your Time

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“Move it! Move it! Move it!”

These are the words I chant most mornings as my lovely, 5-year-old dawdler goes under her bed to look for her shoes, or decides to make homemade dog treats at 7 am on school day, or literally stops to smell the roses as we race to get out the door and get to school on time. And as I nudge her toward the car, her response is always the same, “But, Mom, you have to take your time.”

My daughter has been trying to teach me this lesson for almost six years now, but there’s been a steep learning curve for me. We’re all wired the way we’re wired, and I’m wired to do things frenetically. So when my little one warns me to take my time and to let her take her time, I realize that in my efforts to rush her, I’m forcing her to approach the world in a way in which she is not wired, and I’m potentially missing out on all the little treasures that come with a slower pace.

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Bible Stories and Meat Pies

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We have a long and storied history of misfires when it comes to discussing issues of God, religion and spirituality with our daughter.

During our first real substantive conversation about God when she was 3, we managed to scare the bejeezus out of her and leave her thinking she had a little man living in her tummy.

Then there was the time she thought church was called “cheech,” which made our spiritual failings glaringly evident every time she said, “Hey, Mom, let’s go to cheech this Sunday.”

We’re doing better these days, mainly because she’s older and there are fewer risks of miscommunication when discussing the complexities of God and such. But, from time to time, things still get lost in translation.

Last night at bedtime when Daddy was reading to the child from a book of nighttime blessings, they settled on a story about Jesus and shepherds. She seemed to be paying attention, but when the story ended, she jumped up and ran around the house chanting, “Shepherd’s Pie! Shepherd’s Pie! Shepherd’s Pie!” We think she may have missed the point of that story. Either that or she was hungry for pub food.

My Kid is Having an 80s Kind of Summer

I waited for my daughter in the school’s courtyard on her last day of class, chatting with the other moms about summer plans. Our family’s plans included little more than long, lazy days at the beach and some ballet lessons.
“What else?” one mom asked expectantly.

“That’s it,” I responded, garnering a look of disapproval.

“But what will you do with her the rest of the time?” she inquired.

“Well, we’ll swim, hike, play with her cousins, cook, shop, hang out…” I trailed off when the other mom wandered over to talk to another group, too disappointed in my lack of scheduled summer activities to even feign enthusiasm. I shrugged and went to fetch my kid and take her to do nothing in particular.

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Love at 21 vs. Love at 42

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I haven’t written anything in a long while; in fact, this is the first time I’ve opened my laptop in over a month for anything non work-related. We’ve had some significant life changes in our family, one of which I’m not quite ready to write about. The other was moving to a new home. It’s been rough–roughest, perhaps, on our barely 5-year-old who doesn’t understand what’s happening or why everything has changed and all her grown-ups aren’t smiling as much as they used to, and she’s launched into a behavioral nosedive of some kind. But this, too, shall pass, and we will get through it with the same love, support, consistency and gratitude that we try to apply to our family life in general.

These types of stressors can often drive a wedge between husbands and wives, but the mister and I have actually grown closer these past couple of months, spending most evenings after the kiddo has gone to bed checking in with the other, supporting one another and discussing ways to help ease our family through these transitions. We remind each other that the marriage we’ve worked so hard to build these last six years provides a sturdy foundation to carry us through any challenge we face together.

As we talked, I got to thinking of something I did when I was 21. One night in college while sitting around with girlfriends and bemoaning our romantic lives, one friend announced that if we made a list of all the qualities we were looking for in a mate, then put that list in a Bible, said perfect mate would show up on our doorsteps, or in our O-Chem classes or at Coffee Bean, somewhere, anywhere, and soon. After a few pints of Guinness, and who knows what else, everyone thought this was the best idea ever. As a former Catholic school girl, this might as well have been witchcraft, but I had a Bible on my bookshelf, so I was in! We got out some pens and notebooks and wrote furiously. I put my list in the Bible and I didn’t look at it again until I was about 30 and I came across my Bible during a move.

Continue reading “Love at 21 vs. Love at 42”

Let’s Look to the Kids When We Don’t Know the Answer

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Lately I’ve been intrigued by the people I meet who seem to be less emotionally cluttered than the rest of us–the straight-talkers among us, those who can rise above the fray, the men and women who never appear to be in a hurry because they know nothing is really that important. Somehow, they just get it. But how do they do it? I wonder. How do they buffer themselves from the swirling chaos and grind of modern life in 2016? As I play armchair psychoanalyst to these people, I’ve noticed some similarities between the way in which they approach their lives and the way children approach life. I suppose we all enter this world emotionally uncluttered, and while we do need a certain amount of emotional sophistication beyond that of childhood in order to function in this society, I think we also absorb so much noise along the way–stress, anxiety, depression, anger, resentment, boredom, short attention spans, jealousy, fear, exhaustion and so much more. If we looked to our children for the answers to unburdening ourselves of much of this emotional baggage, could we achieve the joy that is so evident on our children’s faces and so lacking among adults?

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You Guys, I’m Killing It With My Resolutions

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The mister and I are big fans of resolutions and self improvement goals in general, and we made a good many resolutions this year. Perhaps 2016 is the year we’ll be perfect parents, super fit and as zen as Buddha himself, if only, you know, for two fleeting seconds. I’ll take what I can get. This year’s resolutions all trickled down from two general themes — to live more frugally and to be more present. To that end, we created a monthly budget that we’ve sworn ourselves to stick to and we’ve set a bunch of goals for enjoying the here and now and letting the petty shit go. So here we are on January 13 and I thought I’d let you know how I’m doing:

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It’s December. I’m Supposed to be Happy, Damn It.

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I suffer from what my husband calls “a tendency to be dramatic.” I also suffer from what psychiatrists call a “high stress level.” Occasionally, these two traits collide and send me into a funk of epic proportions, the kind that makes me put my hand to my forehead and very dramatically and in the most obnoxious way declare, “The world is too much for me!” in the spirit of Greta Garbo or Gloria Swanson or some other old-timey, fabulous actress.

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Confessions of a Mad Mommy

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“Mommy, did God make Daddy funny because he wanted Daddy to be funny?” my daughter asked one day.

“I suppose so.”

Then, fishing for a compliment, I pressed further: “What did God make Mommy?”

“Mad.”

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Fix You

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It was a couple of weeks after my daughter was born before we were finally able to be at home together. Those who have been reading my blog for a while know why. Those who are new can catch up here and here. My husband had been doing the parenting thing on his own for the second week of our daughter’s life, the week she came home from the NICU and I was in the hospital due to a botched c-section. So when I came home, it took a bit of time for the mom-ing to feel natural. The husband and the child had a little system going, and he had to teach me my baby’s

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