(3 Things You Can’t Say To Me, 1 Thing You Can) On the Topic Of Homeschooling

Summer is upon us, which means everyone with an asshole and an opinion wants to tell me what I should be doing with my family come next fall.

My 11 year old is – technically – a to-be-6th grader; although, to define her as such in homeschooling terms seems very unfair. We don’t take breaks for summer (or Christmas or Easter or even weekends for that matter), because we take a much more well-rounded and un-schooled approach to things.

If I were to actually qualify her, I’d say that my 6th-grade-11-year-old is continuing on about halfway through 6th grade math, beginning 8th grade science, testing out high school level reading and language arts, and continuing on into a whole gamut of subjects that aren’t even covered in public K-12. Like metaphysics, Latin, ethics, art history, and growing up to not be a dick.

But I don’t actually do that. I never say things like “you are a 6th grader” or “are you ready for 6th grade??!” People often regret asking me what grade she’s in, because my response is typically “it’s a little complicated” and people don’t want complicated. They want something simple and they want a label for it, which is probably part of why they want us to stop homeschooling.

What’s important is that at her age, she should be starting 6th grade. In California, that’s when middle school begins. This means that everybody is all up in my business. Now is the time to get her back into “regular” school – what a great transitioning point!

(If I hear the words “this would be a good transitioning point” just one more time, I may completely lose it.)

Ignoring for just a moment that a public school system where kids sit on the floor because they have no desks, bully each other to the point of suicide, and are lucky if the teacher even knows their name by the end of the year – ignoring for just a moment that all of these are actually considered “regular,” I usually indulge them with a smile and vaguely say “all things to consider.” Then I move on with my day and forget about the conversation altogether.

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And yet, I’m tired of slapping a smile on my face and listening to people’s opinions. People I barely know; people close to me. People I talk to once a year; people I talk to every day – everyone else seems to think they know better than I do when it comes to what is best for my family. Maybe it’s that this year I’ve heard a lot more of them, because of this whole middle school thing. Or maybe it’s that as time goes on, more and more people around me believe it’s socially acceptable for them to foist their unsolicited opinions in my direction.

Whatever the case may be, I’m tired of it and am resolving to no longer stand by and smile and nod and respond “all things to consider.” Because while I don’t think that’s the sole reason for all the unsolicited advice, I do believe that is perpetrating the problem.

This makes me partially to blame, and you all know how much I don’t like being at fault.

So here are 3 things you can’t say to me and 1 thing you can, on the topic of homeschooling. Nosy nellies, be warned.

Homeschool

You Can’t Say You Think Our Family Needs More Socialization

I’m not sure it would be physically possible to have any more positive social interaction than this family already has. While going to a “regular” or public school would, in fact, provide more in-person time with others, that isn’t to say it would necessarily be positive or even true.

When kids go to school, they don’t spend all their time sitting there gabbing and working together. In fact, as project-based learning has decreased in the public school system, individual learning and silent testing time has taken over. The time kids have with each other as actual, social interaction is typically confined to recess and lunch. Arguably, I make up for the lack of that ten-fold in other ways.

And then there’s the whole issue of bullying.

Usually when I tell people that homeschooling affords us more positive social interactions – through extra curriculars, homeschool groups, sports, friends, and family – they retort with some idiotic response like “but they have to learn to deal with bullies eventually.” As if extra curriculars, homeschool groups, sports, friends, and family don’t have their own fair share of bullies.

The difference between homeschool and “regular” school, though, is in the ability to deal with those bullies in a more healthy, controlled, and effective way.

You Can’t Say My 11 Year Old Needs Other Girls To Go Through Puberty With

Someone actually said that to me.

When I asked for a little clarification – not that I cared, only that I was dumbfounded – she told me that there was no way I could understand what my daughter is going through in this pre-pubescent time of her life. Moreover, she could go through it all with others if she were in regular, non-homeschool school.

I may not remember every, single, literal, detail of my puberty – when I started shaving my pits and what brand maxi pads I used for the first time; but I certainly understand what is going on. And what I know more than anything is that the most terrifying thing about puberty as a little girl is that everyone goes through it at a different rate, some even at entirely different age brackets. There is really no such thing as everyone going through it together as friends. And even if there was, I see this as having absolutely nothing to do with our educational choices.

You Can’t Say I’m Going Too Far Ahead

Remember how I said that we have a much more well-rounded, less restrictive, way of doing things? The result of this has always been that we’re well beyond the expectations of any given grade we’ve homeschooled through.

I cannot even tell you how many people have said I’m going too far ahead. People that have actually said to me in all seriousness that “there is such a thing as learning too much.”

You just can’t say that. It’s so wrong on so many levels – morally, philosophically, logically – you just. CAN’T. There is no such thing as learning too much – there never has been, there never will be.

That leaves only one thing. That 1 thing you actually can say to me on the topic of homeschooling. It’ll probably come as a shock to many of you, especially those that have been nosing up in my business and telling me why you think we should stop this little experiment already.

The 1 Thing You Can Say Is That WE ARE DOING A GOOD JOB.

The only people I have ever – in all these years of homeschooling – heard say to me that we’re doing a good job with this crazy, alternative lifestyle of ours is … you’ve got it … complete strangers.

A stranger sees us studying in the morning on a weekday at our local coffee shop…stops at the table to say we’re doing a good job.

A stranger hears us talking in a museum in the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday…stops us in the exhibit to say we’re doing a good job.

A stranger is on a walk and passes us on one of our weekly scavenger hunts…says as we cross paths that we’re doing a good job.

These are the people that have said that we are doing a good job. Not the people around me – the friends and the family who think it’s their missions in life to convert us to the regularity of compulsory day school.

Support. It’s simple. It’s positive. And if you learned anything yourself in whatever education you’ve had, you know it’s the smartest thing anyone can do.

Well, that and minding your own business.

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Oh the perspective a lunch date with a dead cow can give…

 

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I’m in Texas, and if there is one thing I have learned in my four days here, it’s that the Texans like their meats.

We don’t eat meat very often in California. That’s not entirely true, I serve a very meat-and-potatoes-with-vegetables kind of menu for most dinners; but we aren’t talking Texas meat. Red meat. Beef. Cattle. Blood on the plate and shit. That kind of meat is infrequent in our house.

So naturally while in Texas, I am trying to find as many Texas-style places to eat at as possible, which I am finding is very beef-centric. Today’s lunch date with the dead cow was at none other than the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse – a place I have heard of only in fables of the Lone Star State.

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Sitting in this place, with decor I hate to admit gave me all kinds of ideas for my own home (I’m a fan of taxidermy), I couldn’t help but notice a lunch meeting going on at the elongated table next to me. There were eight or so people there, and they all wore those weird things I can only remember vaguely from my days as a worker bee in the 9-5 business world: regular clothes. Suit pants. Collared shirts. It made me feel weird just to look in their direction.

And of course, because I am a self-professed misanthrope, they started to annoy me with their business mumbo-jumbo-jargon about 401(K) plans and cost analysis almost immediately. Puke. Puke in my pile of dead cow. What upsets me about these business meetings is that I was once one of those people: those self-important, arrogant bastards who takes themselves, and their meaningless bullshit that doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, entirely too seriously. My husband talks like these people were sometimes – the pitch in his voice grows deeper and suddenly he’s talking in terms I do not understand, with acronyms and inside-jargon that makes bile form in the back of my throat. It isn’t that it’s contemptible (I mean, to me some of it is); it’s that some people so frequently get so wrapped up in this workaday world that they forget there is life beyond the numbers and the business of it all. That there is sometimes lunch which does not involve business, but rather personal growth. Or even just a pile of dead cow with a friend.

This certainly isn’t the first time I have observed one of these business lunch monstrosities. I’ll never forget the time I was eating at my local Macaroni Grill on a Wednesday only for the loudest and most obnoxious group of nurses to come in and loudly regale horror stories to each other of people’s bowels and boils, while they held a business lunch planning meeting for implementing a new computer system. Perhaps (though unlikely) to streamline the process of classifying the bowels and boils.

But it seems no coincidence that this always happens at the most opportune time. At times when I need to be reminded that I am no workaday, collared shirt-pant-suit-wearing kind of girl. Even when I worked full-time, I worked from home in yoga pants the majority of the days. I take very little in this world seriously, either, and feel that my time with my family and my soul take far greater precedence than some bullshit workaholic career that can go nowhere with me but to an early grave.

Years ago, I made the choice to become a Stay At Home Mom. Nothing more, nothing less. I do have hobbies. Like painting. Reading. Knitting. And writing. So I write my mom blog when I feel the itch; and am working on books only insofar as I have something I feel is important to say. (Not often.)

And while I would love for my writing to be seen as something with even a relatively small amount of redeeming quality to it, it is nothing more than something I do when I enjoy it. I am not a professional writer. I will not speak at conferences, nor will I teach classes on the subject. For me it is a craft and a love, not an occupation.

I veer off that track of certainty as to my station in life, though, quite frequently. I take on more technical writing projects than I’d like. I start thinking about more professional-looking business cards, and even apply for a job or two writing – vomit – SEO or ad copy. I veer off track for whatever reason, and am never happy in the process. Never.

So it is in times like today, when the most contemptible of things – the business lunch – plays out before me, that I am again grounded, and reminded of how happy I am to just be a mom. Oh the perspective a lunch date with a dead cow can give. Of course there is so much in that title (of mom, not dead cow): healer, nurse, chauffeur, chef, cleaning lady, kisser of boo boos, secretary, teacher…the list is endless. And while the workaday collared shirt-wearers of the world sit around the table at the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse; talking so seriously about their numbers and statistics and plans and retirement packages (should they all be so lucky to make it that far), it is in those endless list of tasks that encompass being a mom that the only truly serious jobs in this world are found for me.

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My Maternal Instinct Has No Kill Switch

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My mother used to tell me that “they say once you have kids, your maternal instinct never goes away.” I suppose this could help to explain why a lot of mothers experience that Empty Nest Syndrome after their kids grow up and move away from home, or why many women mother their husbands. But then there’s the problem that anything starting with “they say” is usually reducible to nothing but a pop and cocky Old Wive’s Tale. So when my mother told me this (and especially because we are talking about my mother here), I pretty well dismissed it.

Over the years I wondered if I should have taken it more seriously, though. Since the abrupt appearance of children in my life, I have learned that this Old Wive’s Tale may actually (against my very rational and empirical judgment) be the truest thing there is about being a mother. About human relationships on the whole.

My wonder started slowly. At first, I just worried a lot. About a lot of things. Things I never would have worried about before were suddenly a natural thing for me to be concerned about – like whether or not it’s safe to let a child walk down to the mailbox on her own, or what kind of plastic the drinking cups I’m buying are made of.

Then the feelings started. Some things didn’t feel right. Or – on the flip side – sometimes it felt like there was no other way. Suddenly I would know if something was wrong, even when no one was home. Twenty minutes later everyone would come clamoring in the house complaining – someone fell, a bruise, a scrape, can I please apply seventy-five Minnie Mouse Bandaids to make it better?

Around the second or third time this happened, I began to accept the irreversible bond between children and their mother (the woman who cares for them); the bond that has little to do with blood relation and everything to do with the metaphysical and spiritual connection that absolutely no one and nothing but each other can break.

I’ve blogged recently that my ten year old was being required to have a try-out visit with her biological father. She used to see him infrequently even though he lived close by, every other weekend when it was at its most. Then he moved to Houston – suddenly expecting to have tons of vacations per year where she would be uprooted from our home and taken to stay with him and his wife. Eat three square meals of Taco Bell a day. Get eaten by scorpions. Shoot guns. And so on.

Quite obviously these were unrealistic expectations, especially given the history of the situation and the precocious and sensitive nature of my ten year old. Rapidly his behavior became harassing and obsessive, though. Suddenly I was a terrible person who forced him to move away, of his own free will; and I was robbing him the rights God bestowed on him because he had no idea how to properly function a rubber, lo those many years ago.

That was too far, wasn’t it?

Needless to say, it stressed us all out, and my little Pookie – with the most delicate and fragile heart – broke into a million pieces at the thought of having to communicate with him regularly, and be taken from her home to a place she did not wish to go. Thousands of dollars were socked into therapy to help her get through the try-out visit, and right at the moment when she started to get better – to forget about him and the fact that she had to take the trip – she had her required birthday Skype with him. As the Skype came to a close, he finished with “OK, see you in a month” and she fell apart all over again.

Now that month – the most difficult month – has passed. We are there, in Texas. In Houston, having arrived roughly four hours before we scheduled to have him come pick her up from the hotel room. He didn’t show up, though. He sent his wife. The interaction was awkward, and immediately sent up a red flag that after all this time he could not even be bothered to come pick up my delicate, little angel himself. Nonetheless, I packed up her things and walked them to the elevator, where I said goodbye, reminded her where her cellphone was and to take her allergy pills every day; and as the elevator door closed she shouted “Mommy!” only for the door to close and whisk them to the parking garage.

Since she shouted that single word – “Mommy!” – I have tried to ignore the feeling that something terrible is happening. Surely they cannot be that stupid and ignorant – he and his wife. They are neglectful, manipulative, emotionally abusive, unrealistic about parenting, unhealthy, and flagrantly stupid – but even the worst of the worst people can keep a child alive and in one piece for 10 days. Right? RIGHT?!

They say once you have kids, your maternal instinct never goes away. 

This thing – this instinct that there is something wrong – has no kill switch, and so each moment that passes I am paralyzed by these fears that continue to creep slowly over me like spiders over a fly stuck in a web, threatening to consume me. I cannot just shut them off: these feelings that there is something wrong and that I need to get to her, all-the-while feeling as though I cannot because I have no real excuse to other than a feeling that will not go away.

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3 People You Should Hide Your Early Pregnancy From

So I think I’m about to lose a lot of you as faithful blog followers. I say that because I’ve been thinking about the concept of the pregnancy announcement, and I think my feelings about it will hit way more home than some of you want.

Get over it. This is my blog. My opinions.

It seems like it’s pretty taboo to announce you are pregnant before the second trimester. This year has seen an unprecedented number of pregnancy announcements – from friends, family … people I didn’t even remember existed until suddenly their naked belly photos were splattered all over my Facebook Newsfeed. The underlying commonality of each, though, was that they waited until the second trimester to announce. Complications could come up. Miscarriage is most likely in the first trimester. Blaa blaa blaa. You know the drill – it’s taboo, because what if you lose the baby?!

Yes. What if you lose the baby? God forbid you have a networked support system to be there for you.

In my mind, there are three people in particular that you should hide your pregnancy from:

#1 Your Hot, Latin Pool Boy

Yes, I said it.

We have a joke in our family about my uncle: that he’s really the Mexican gardner’s son. My grandma used to be teased to no end about the fact that he looked completely different than the rest of the family. She’d respond with “OK, but you know the milk man was a possibility too.” You go girl.

We all know that the baby’s father may very well be your Latin pool boy anyway – the paternity test on Maury two years from now will be the decider of that. In the meantime, you can limit the drama and keep the fun going for a little bit longer. At least until you start to show.

#2 That Gossipy Family Member

Everyone has a family member that is overly gossipy. I am fairly certain that I am bordering on being her in my family; but besides that, you should definitely hide your pregnancy from her.

Don’t hide your pregnancy from me, though.

Gossipy ladies are so horrid. Really they should be called: shit-talkers. Back-stabbing shit-talkers whose entire personality revolves around the ability to fling crap like monkeys. They don’t just tell stories they should be keeping to themselves; or share secrets that  were told in confidence. They make shit up. They speculate. They exaggerate. Someone gets fired from their job as a part of a huge set of layoffs, and the gossipy lady turns it into a dramatic scenario where “you know, I heard he was bringing vodka to work in his water bottle.”

Losing a baby is hard, but to have the gossipy lady talking all kinds of shit behind your back is just unnecessary. For this reason we will never be able to tell a single member of my husband’s family about any future pregnancies, until the baby is on its way out. Those people gossip like there’s no tomorrow, and you know what they say – someone who will talk shit to you, will talk shit about you.

#3 Your Starbucks barista and/or bartender

I’m just kidding about the bartender thing. I mean I know the pendulum swings on whether or not it is safe to drink any alcohol while pregnant, and right now a lot more people are having the occasional glass of wine after the approval of their doctor; but I’m still kidding.

Okay I’m not.

Nothing brings out the judgy-mcjudgers more like early pregnancy. “I made this decaf for you since you shouldn’t be drinking caffeine” they say. “You’re pregnant? Oh, I’ll hold off on bringing edamame to your table” they defy. “Can I show you photographs of babies with fetal alcohol syndrome while you drink your half a glass of wine that your doctor said you should go ahead and drink, because I disagree with him and my associates degree in mixology is so much more valid than his many years in medical school?”

The only person who has a right to give food and beverage advice to a new, budding pregnant lady is her doctor. And Web MD. And maybe What To Expect When Expecting, but I’m going to err on the side of just her doctor. Keeping it mum when you are trying to weave your way through your daily pattern of eating and drinking is perfectly fine for your own ease.

Now did you all notice something? I didn’t say that you should be keeping your pregnancy hidden from your closest family and friends, now did I? I know this is a touchy subject for a lot of people. Perhaps they miscarried or had to terminate the pregnancy due to complications. Maybe that was the hardest thing – and how could I ever understand what they went through. I’m such a fucking insensitive asshole that doesn’t know shit.

Or am I?

Little known fact: about two and a half years ago, in spite of the chastity belt lined with razors I keep close to my lady parts every night, Poor Nick successfully shot one in the hole, so to speak. I know, I know – who knew? It was a horrible time for us to have a baby, though; I had just left graduate school and was having a hard time even getting out of bed after doing so. We already had Pookies running around too, so he acted like a jerk about it from the minute I said “oh shit…” All the drama and stress and secrecy and “how are we going to do this” about it was for naught, though, because “God’s plan” took care of everything, and before the sixth week I was again not pregnant. To be clear: of no fault of my own. (Duh, I’m Catholic.)

Flash forward to now, and I am living through the deaths of two people very close to me. A suicide and the natural one of my grandfather. Had I had the love and support of the family and friends around me then as I do now, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long to feel normal again. People say it’s different, but it isn’t. There’s always someone there waiting to say something stupid – in both situations. There will constantly be people pitying you, or avoiding you because they don’t know what to say. But in the middle of all of that are a group of people that are there for you, and support you. Unconditionally.

I see no reason to keep your pregnancy a secret from any of those people – for any amount of time. Because having to tell them about it is a path to being less alone if something goes wrong. Culturally, I think we need to get beyond this taboo – we need to learn to do things together again, rather than always isolating ourselves from each other at the worst times.

And of course to once again embrace the love of our hot and sexy, Latin pool boys. Because pool boys need love too.

That’s just my opinion, though. What’s yours?

A Day With the Doctor

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Cold and flu season is in full swing (actually, it has been for a little over a month), so naturally this means our annual trek to the doctor when actually sick inevitably occurs. Because we homeschool, we don’t have quite all the health snafus that other families do; however, it still crops up.

This brings up a whole other set of pet peeves that I have, though. Being a hypochondriac, I naturally have a number of issues with matters of health. But then there is an entire other set of things that just drive me absolutely bonkers when it comes to getting sick.

Pet Peeve #1: When People Hang Around You Ill

Fucktards is what I like to call those people. No offense or anything if you are one of those people that is so inconsiderate that you think it is totally OK to go to a party or to work or to pretty much anywhere ill, but it’s not. I understand people who are given a hard time by their employers, but then it’s the employers that are the fucktards because – for real – sickness spreads when people don’t stay home.

When you or your family is sick, they can get other people sick. And who the fuck are you to get people sick against their will?

Say you go to a party and your kid is sick. Say he has the flu (ahem … that is how we got sick over a month ago at this point …). Say there is a senior citizen at this party that has a compromised immune system and a heart problem. You obviously don’t know that he does, but you also don’t know that he doesn’t. He holds your little bag of disease and then the old guy dies of the complications from the flu two weeks later.

The point is that no one knows what health issues others have but them. Which means as a decent human being, someone sick should stay home. It may not be a big deal to you, but it can always kill someone else.

Pet Peeve #2: Patient Care Is Our #1 Priority

Every time I walk into our doctor’s office, I see this sign that says “patient care is our #1 priority.” It’s a wonder my blood pressure readings always come up low, though, for this is the biggest annoyance to me, probably on the entire planet.

If patient care is your #1 priority, then why is it that four weeks ago I was told to go to the emergency room because you couldn’t fit me in for a week? If patient care is your #1 priority, then why is it that no one ever called me back after I phoned four times? If patient care is your #1 priority, then why did you never call in the prescriptions you told me you were calling in the minute you walked out the door?

I recently read an article that reported a study the CDC recently did, which stated that the majority of doctors in America right now are going to visits, not treatment. What that means is that doctors could care less about treating their patients,  and keeping people healthy. What they care about is getting copays.

Pet Peeve #3: Doctor Time

Have you ever been told that it was going to be five or ten minutes, only for it to wind up to be an hour and a half? That’s what happened to us today. Our appointment was at 12:50. I checked in at 12:30. She told me 5 minutes. At 2:15, we were finally taken in.

There were two other people in the waiting room.

A little known fact by you faithful blog followers is that for six years while in college, I was a full-time pharmacy technician. For 40 hours a week, I schlepped drugs, wrote employee schedules, argued with insurance companies, and handled all the other random crap the pharmacy manager didn’t want to handle.

I never once told a patient it would be 5 minutes.

Nothing makes someone that is tired and sick and feeling awful more frustrated than being lied to. I’m sure that enough people at our doctor’s office have been outraged when told it was going to be 30 or more minutes to make these horrible women lie and say it would be 5 when it was clearly going to take longer. That doesn’t make it OK for them to lie in such an egregious fashion.

I suppose I’m just a little turned off right now because we have all been sick for going on four weeks now. We were sick through Christmas. We were sick through New Years. When I called to get in a few weeks ago, I was told “tough shit.” What kind of a society do we live in where we can’t get ahold of our doctors when we need them? What the fuck is the point of even having a doctor, then?

We are one of two days worth of doctor’s appointments down and I am hoping this is the end for the season. Unless, of course, we picked up any other manner of illnesses from the doctor’s office while waiting to be seen, which raises a whole other set of pet peeves altogether.

I Am Not Changing My Parenting Because of Newtown

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A lot of blogs – mom blogs in particular – have gone relatively silent since the tragedy in Newtown, CT befell our country, just a little over a week before Christmas. The only thing people posted on Facebook were statements of shock; promises to hug their kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews a little bit tighter. Then came the commitments to attack parenting with a “do what you want” kind of attitude from now on, because who knows what could happen when you send your little ones off to school the next day?

For the most part, this seems to have died down. But still, I see the memes about hugging your kids continue to crop up. I see the posts that were previously about needing to hide in the bathroom and drink straight whiskey to get through the day; now about how guilty a particular mother may feel about being stressed out by her kids. This morning I saw a friend post that Sundays are now “ice cream breakfast days, in honor of the kids in Newtown.”

It is undeniable: the tragedy in Newtown has changed us forever. But I think it’s fair to say that there were other tragedies before that have been slowly changing us. The Oklahoma City Bombing. Columbine. 9/11. As time has gone on, each of these tragedies has worn on us. They have worn on our value systems. They have replaced a strong need to parent with a strong fear of the unknown.

To me, this has only made the problem worse.

Ice cream every Sunday for breakfast? Not yelling at your kids because they did something wrong? Cutting down on the punishments “just in case?” Repressing your own feelings for the sake of being passive? How this all translates into a better, more well-adjusted society is beyond me. I actually think we should react to the Newtown, CT shooting in a different way. We should be looking at how we’ve let our parenting get far too un-parent-like.

I’m not saying that I’m the perfect parent, by any stretch of the imagination. I definitely have those moments of things that I’ve done and now regret; or things I’ve said out of emotion that may have been over the line. But I also am committing to not change my parenting because of Newtown.

#1 There will be no ice cream for breakfast, or “whatever you want”s for dinner

My job is to raise healthy children. Healthy children that understand what healthy living is like. Healthy children that don’t lay on the ground and pork down onion rinds like there’s no tomorrow, unless seven servings of fruit and vegetables have been porked down first. Healthy children that understand the concept of moderation, and more than anything understand the fact that when a particular food is put in front of you, you eat it.

The other day I read an article (by a guy that is neither a parent, nor a parenting expert) in which he claimed “because I said so” is no longer a justifiable excuse to children. Children need “good reasons” to do what we say, he said. We need to spend more time giving excuses for our “requests” to our children, he said. I have never heard more backwards, anti-parenting thinking in my entire life. So not only will there be no ice cream for breakfast, or “whatever you want”s for dinner, but what I put on the table is what is being eaten. Because I said so.

Nothing is more rude and awkward than a dinner party with adults where one of them doesn’t eat their food, because they “don’t like it.” Why are kids being raised to act like this as adults? And it goes without saying that the obesity problem in this country could easily be solved if “I don’t like”s or “give me a good reason I should”s were not an option.

#2 I will continue to yell and administer timeouts, and I will not feel bad about it

When I was a kid, if I got out of line I got yelled at. I’ll never forget the time I was in Girl Scouts and we were on some trip, and all of us got in trouble because we left our hotel room even when we weren’t supposed to. I have never had the fear of God struck into me quite like that day when our Troop Mom was yelling at us. And to this day, I know that her yelling was absolutely and without a doubt the right thing to have done, or we would have done it again.

And did I ever do something like that again, faithful blog followers? Absolutely not. When you don’t yell at your kids, they have no concept of consequences for their actions. I’m not talking about screaming here either; I’m talking about raising your voice.  You know? Making it sound stern, like they did in the 50s? Same goes for punishments: time outs, no dessert, grounded from TV.

I have no idea where our culture got the concept that raising your voice or punishing children for bad behavior was a bad thing, but it isn’t. Positive reinforcement is wonderful, when it works. But there are always going to be times in raising kids that a consequence for a bad action is necessary. And why? Because that’s how life is. Adults reap negative consequences all the time, and if kids aren’t taught the concept, then they run the risk of growing up with a huge misunderstanding about the way the world works.

#3 I will allow myself to feel stressed out, and not feel bad for talking about it

I have always been a firm believer that there is nothing more unhealthy a person can do than conceal their emotions. Positive or negative emotions, they are a part of who we are and to deny them is to deny our selves.

The other day Pookie did two things that reminded me just how much kids model their behavior after their parents. First, she cracked a joke at my expense as we had guests over for dinner. (She said I went to graduate school to do nothing.) Then, she concealed her hurt feelings for a whole day because she thought that my husband had showed her that was the right thing to do.

Kids learn how they are supposed to act as an adult from us. So while I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing to go into a nervous breakdown in front of your kids, and it’s similarly poor taste to chase your bottle of Xanax with the third margarita your kid’s prepared for you; I would definitely argue that hiding your feelings and pretending like everything is peachy all the time is just as (if not more) bad as the former suggestions.

Being a parent sucks sometimes, especially being a stay at home one. It’s OK to feel that way; and it’s OK to express that. You aren’t less of a parent for feeling so. All the tragedies in the world do not change an adult’s need to have interaction with other adults. All the horrific and malicious shootings of innocent people do not make it wrong to still need a break from your kids, and regularly.

I felt like a real jerk after the Newtown tragedy, not because of things I had done as a parent when “one of those kids could have been mine,” but because I mentioned on Facebook that I didn’t understand why people were rushing home to hug their kids. I thought, and said, “shouldn’t we have been hugging our kids all along anyway?” But as I thought about it more, I realized that I wasn’t a jerk. I was just questioning why these tragedies always make us question ourselves. Rather than look at what we’ve done right while also acting with compassion and empathizing with the terrible pain the families of the victims are going through, we’re always turning it into being about us. Do you think the Mom whose child was shot in Newtown is agonizing over the fact that she didn’t let her kid have whatever he wanted for breakfast the morning of the shooting, or that she took away his Nintendo because he beat up his sister? No. She’s agonizing over the fact that her child is gone, and she will never have the opportunity to punish him again. Period. End of sentence.

Now sure, if you really don’t know the last time you hugged your children, well then you do have a problem in the way you parent. But let’s remember that one of the most important ways we should work to prevent future tragedies such as the one in Newtown, is to actually be parents.

My thoughts and prayers continue on for the victims and their families of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I promise to not change my parenting in honor of those children, and in hopes of raising a future where tragedies like that no longer happen.

What’s the Deal, Mom Bloggers?

I know what you’re all thinking:  I’m probably about to alienate myself from the world of Mom Bloggers forever. I’m probably about to say something super bitchy, or downright rude. I’m likely about to become a total hypocrite, since I – myself – am a Mom Blogger. This would be par for the course, since it is the B(itch)Log and all. But I still think that’s all wrong.

Just hear me out, because I’m trying to understand what the deal is, Mom Bloggers.

What is a Mom Blogger?

A Mom Blogger is a mom that blogs. Next question.

No seriously, what the hey makes a mom that blogs deserve the title of Mom Blogger?

Sometimes s/he blogs about parenting issues. Sometimes s/he blogs about being a housewife. Other times (most of the time) s/he blogs about some random, mundane bullshit that has nothing to do with being a mom at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely benefit from this sort of laissez faire attitude towards what the content should be. But it still can lead to a little confusion.

So I will repeat: a Mom Blogger is a mom that blogs.

Exactly who is qualified to be a Mom Blogger?

This question seems almost redundant now, doesn’t it? A Mom Blogger is a mom who blogs; therefore, “a mom that blogs” is the qualification to be a Mom Blogger.

But it’s way more complicated than that. Dads are Mom Bloggers now, or Dad Bloggers or Parent Bloggers (as they like to be referred to so as to avoid the emasculation that would necessarily come of a dude being called a Mommy Blogger). Moms of cats, dogs, birds, and other pets have become Mom Bloggers too. Daycare ladies without uteruses write Mom Blogs. Sometimes it seems as though anyone who has ever taken care of another human being or other type of species that breathes (or maybe not) in a motherly or caretaking capacity can – at any point they deem appropriate – be referred to as a Mom Blogger. Also people that plan on one day doing any of that –  maybe, if they feel like it – can be Mom Bloggers too.

Are you starting to get the frustration, here? What’s the deal, Mom Bloggers? Is there anything left about motherhood in the Mom Blogging Universe anymore?

Who supports a Mom Blog?

It would seem that the community of Mom Bloggers would support each other. But that’s not always necessarily the case.

Sure there is a small group of Mom Bloggers that talk about each other, tag each other, Facebook each other, Tweet each other, reference each other, collaborate with each other, and other BFF-ish online interactions-with each other. But there are also a lot of Mom Bloggers that are pretty well left out of the group.

And every once in a while (and by that I mean at least a few times a day) Mom Bloggers of even the most popular and widely-read sort run into other Mom (or Dad or Parent) Bloggers that do not reciprocate support. That ignore certain factions of the Mom Blogging community, for whatever reason.

Again, I ask: what’s the deal Mom Bloggers?

No but really, what’s the deal Mom Bloggers?

So we already asked what the deal was with Mom Bloggers basically being anybody and anyone, male and female; whether they are really moms or not. We sort of alluded to asking “what’s the deal?” on the issue of the content of a Mom Blog (which is basically anything and everything). And the matter of reciprocation between Mom Bloggers – big and small – got a big “what’s the deal?” I would even upgrade that one to a “what the fuck” because it’s messed up to ever believe that you’re too big to be supportive of others in the community.

But the real question I have, Mom Bloggers, is about the skill level.

I used to tutor and TA when I was in graduate school, so I have read a lot of really shitty writing. I mean really shitty. I mean academic papers with “WTF” and “OMG” and one even with a smiley face emoticon. I once had a student show up having a hard time reading the word “philosophize.” And yet still those academic papers with all their illiteracies and their poor grammar and their 2nd grade reading levels were still better than some of the Mom Blogs I’ve read lately.

Some of the worst writers on this planet are the most popular Mom Bloggers. Some of the stupidest, most boring, most mundane content I have ever read in my entire life is coming from Mom Bloggers that are read more widely than the New York Times. And by contrast, some of the best writing I have ever read in the blogging world – from Mom Bloggers and otherwise – gets three or four hits, while “OMG pee poo diaper time whassup” got millions of views.

What. Is. The Deal. Mom. Bloggers?!?!

So you might say I’m feeling a little perplexed or reflective as to just what the deal is with the Mom Bloggers? I believe that a blog is just like any other piece of writing – it should be done well. It should be widely supported within its group of peers. It should have meaning and purpose, and it should be free of stupidity. Call me crazy, this is just how I’ve tried to run my own Mom Blog.

What do you think the deal is, Mom Bloggers? Or are you ignoring this post like many of the others because you believe you’ve grown too big?

Speaking of Mom Blogs, have you voted for me on Top Mommy Blogs lately? Just click the link and your vote is registered … http://topmommyblogs.com/