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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.

Continue reading “The Art of Living Simply and Taking Your Time”

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Lower Your Standards, Mommy

20160503_124852May is always a hectic month for us: Mother’s Day, birthdays, and end of the school year stuff all come at us in a matter of weeks. And this year, we’ve added moving to that list. Huzzah! The other day, the husband was stressing about our May calendar of events, in particular the fast approach of Mother’s Day, and I decided to do everyone a favor and play the Low Maintenance Mommy card (This is not my natural state. I’ve been known to say things like, “I need crushed ice, not cubed!”) But Mother’s Day is no biggie to me, and something I certainly don’t want anyone stressing about. So we had this conversation:

“You know what I’d really like for Mother’s Day, guys?” I say. “I’d like the kiddo to draw a special picture just for me.”

“I’m going to draw you a picture of poop and farts,” she says.

“Maybe you can draw something a little more Mother’s Day-ish…” I say.

“OK. I’ll draw you a picture of a unicorn….pooping.”

“Can it at least poop rainbows?” I ask.

She considers this for a good while.

“No.”

I ask for too much, guys. I ask for too much.

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11 Truths About Parenting an Only Child

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There are the universal themes that link all parents to one another: We all know well the elation, the worry, the self doubt, the pride and the frustration that goes hand in hand with parenting. Then, there are those parenting situations that are unique — that are particular to each family or to each type of family. We are a single-child family, and as such, there are a few things that are true for us that might not be true for a multiple-kid family. Here they are:

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To the Mom Who Judged Me by My Groceries

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This post is all about a bag of Cheetos. Well, not really. It’s about making snap judgments. It’s about motherhood. It’s about compassion. But mostly it’s about a bag of Cheetos. This is for the mom in the grocery store who decided to shame my 4-year-old and I for buying a snack-sized bag of Cheetos.

In case you don’t remember, grocery store mom, here’s what happened: You and your toddler daughter were in line ahead of us on one of those busy weekday afternoons — it looked busy for you, and it was certainly busy for us. When the checker was scanning your items, our offending bag of Cheetos wandered over to your side of the divider bar thingy and the checker asked if they were yours. “Oh, no,” you said dramatically and loudly. “We don’t eat processed snacks.” Now, I can’t replicate your inflection here, so let me describe it: judgmental. Your words implied, none too subtly, that only terrible moms feed their kids that shit. As you can imagine, and, as I’m sure you intended, the comment irked me — it reached that tiny place that resides within parents that questions every day, am I doing this right? 

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Worry: The Parenting Common Denominator

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I started this post intending to write “Five Things Parents of Only Children Know,” but got stuck about two paragraphs in. I looked at my title and looked at what I had written and realized everything on the page applied, more or less, to all parents. I could have crossed out the “Only” in the title and written the same post as “Five Things Parents of Children Know.” Whether we have one child or four children, our kids are the centers of our worlds, and as such, most of what we feel as parents is universal. The hardships and struggles, the joys, the fears, the guilt, the pride — these are the feelings that permeate the parenting experience. Perhaps parents of only children worry about the development of their child’s social skills more than a parent of three, and perhaps that parent of three worries about giving equal attention to all of his or her children, but at the heart of it, we all worry about our kids. Worry. Yes, worry is the proverbial sidekick to parenting. When I was discharged from the hospital after having my little one, I was given an infant CPR DVD, a rented breast pump and a book about newborn care. But nowhere in my newly acquired arsenal of parenting information and supplies was a manual on how to manage the worry that comes with raising a child. Now that would have been useful.

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Conversations with My 4-Year-Old

Something strange was happening in our house this week. Nobody slept. Everyone was cranky. We cried for no particular reason. We yelled our conversations. Our bodies ached and creaked. We glared at each other from across the room. We were all tired, aggressive, sad and confused. At one point, the child collapsed into a heap of tears on our laundry room floor when I told her she couldn’t draw with a Sharpie pen. I asked her why she was crying. “I just don’t know!” she wailed. We just didn’t know. We had no idea what was going on this week. If I were one of those people who looked to astrology for the answers, I’d say that Jupiter was in retrograde. Yes, a planet had to be in retrograde to cause this inexplicable upset in our home. Or maybe it was El Niño’s fault. I’ll blame El Niño. Whatever the cause of this week’s chaos, it led to a few absolutely absurd conversations with my child. A few examples for your amusement:

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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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