Parenting Plight #6: Advice-Giving Do-Gooders

photo cred: www.annaaparicio.com
photo cred: http://www.annaaparicio.com

No, I’m not talking about you. I’m also not talking about people who give me parenting advice because I asked for it. I’m talking about old lady at the grocery store who eyes my crying baby, who I know is hungry, and suggests several remedies (none of which include feeding the hungry baby) to make him “go to sleep”. Thanks a lot, lady. You’re slowing me down when all I want to do is get home with my groceries and nurse my baby to sleep. Cue face palm.

Another scenario: I’m at Lowe’s (home improvement, not grocery) and I’m wearing my freakishly tall 2-year-old on my back in the Boba. Immediately, I get stares. I’m sure people think I’m wearing a 4-year-old on my back. (I am not knocking you if you still wear your 4-year-old. Babywearers unite!) The reason is she’s been a trooper for all of our morning errands, and I just need to pick up this one thing. I know where it is, and I can be in and out in a few minutes. To avoid leaving my fussy toddler in the hot car, or taking 45 minutes to do a task that should take 10, I strap her on my back, and gallop (you know, because I’m a horse now) into the store for my specialty CFL light bulb in a size and wattage that can’t be found anywhere else in the entire world (read: at the grocery store). A concerned man says to me, “She is old enough to walk. Why are you still wearing her on your back? Just put her down.” Okay sir, let me unleash the unkempt, hot, tired, hangry (yes, hangry) toddler on Lowe’s, and see how many items I buy because they’re broken. No thanks.

I love it when Willy Wonka gets me.
I love it when Willy Wonka gets me.

I know most people are well-meaning with their unsolicited advice. That’s why I do my best to smile, thank them, and promise to go straight home to do what they’re suggested. But if I’m honest, even I sometimes feel the need to give pregnant women or first time parents my tips and tricks and advice and stories and… (case in point) But I typically try to stop myself. Or at least wait for them to ask me. Or at the very least not over share.  Okay fine, we all love to share our stories – that’s why I blog, right? Human connection and relationship building. It’s how we make friends; we feel better knowing we aren’t alone. But I don’t force my stories and opinions, and I don’t say them rudely either. Because I’ve been that parent, the one who is tired and on a short fuse. I’ve been the working pregnant mom, just trying to get a little caffeine boost to have a strong finish to my day, even though I know that I’ve got “x” amount of caffeine allowed in a day and I may have already surpassed it. The barista with the huff and the puff and the judgy look can keep it to herself.

Have you gotten unsolicited advice from well-meaning (or judgy) strangers? How did you handle the situation?

We All Need Some Grace

This article (here) just blew my mind.

10 Promises for Parents. Gospel promises. Gospel promises to mend your aching heart and give you hope. Hope that you aren’t totally screwing it up. Hope that you can keep on moving forward.

On the heels of a particularly horrific afternoon/evening (which coincidentally followed a truly lovely morning) these Scriptures brought tears to my eyes, conviction to my heart and healing  to my soul. There is grace for the anger. There is grace for the tiredness. There is grace for the sadness. There is grace for the mistakes. There is grace for every possible situation in which you find yourself.

Specifically, this verse spoke to me: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

How much did I need to hear that?! I have a headstrong toddler. I don’t mean just a toddler. I mean a headstrong, outspoken, defiant, my-way-or-the-highway toddler. She comes by it honest (I’m from a family of just such people) so I can’t hold it against her. But I am butting heads with her over so many things I can barely keep up. Choose my battles, you say? I’m choosing, but she isn’t. I have to keep her safe, clean, fed, watered, and rested. Often, I keep feeling like I have to choose between those because she refuses to give in.

So I needed this reminder of grace. I needed to be reminded that my messy evenings of torturous bedtime routines that drag out for hours can be redeemed. I needed a reminder to speak softly, because my harsh words are thrown back at me from the mouth of my babe. She can be pushy because I can be pushy. She’s loud because I’m loud. Sometimes it’s funny – imagine a rousing rendition of “Let It Go” – but sometimes it’s awful. I needed a reminder that this little one just needs love. She needs patience and grace and love. I realize I’m human and I’m short on all of those things, but there is a fountain of them, flowing out onto me and through me. It’s my job as a mommy (not to mention as a wife!) to channel the flow of patience and grace and love onto my inexplicably wailing, exhausted (and exhausting) two-year-old. Even when I don’t know what to do, there is Someone for me to call on. And God, I’m calling on you. I need that grace, that patience, and that love. I need it desperately, for myself, and for my family. And praise the Lord, it’s coming.

Parenting Plight #5: Kid-Related Dishes

photo cred: KALAS tableware, ikea.com
photo cred: KALAS tableware, ikea.com

If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a parent who bottle fed, you really know what I’m talking about. Every single item that you use for your kid, bottles, sippy cups, small plates and bowls, tiny, rubbery utensils… they’re all over the place, half of them can’t go in the dishwasher, and they’re always getting down in your sink disposal.

When EK was a baby, we had some trouble nursing, so I exclusively pumped for six months, and we bottle fed her. It was what worked for us, and I don’t regret it (my opinions on this can be discussed later). But I will tell you, that created so. many. dishes. Between the breast pump attachments (Medela) and the bottle pieces (Avent, of course), we were nuts. It was no help that she ate approximately every two hours, and I pumped approximately every four, and this schedule went on for what seemed like forever.

Now, EK is two and using all sorts of plates, bowls, sippy cups, “big girl” (short, plastic, fun-colored) cups, plastic utensils and “big girl” (salad) forks. What she is also doing creates a fair amount of dishes as well: throwing parties with alphabet dinners (wooden letter magnets on plates) for several of her invisible buddies, right in the middle of the kitchen floor. This directly affects my number on the “mom’s-freaking-out-o-meter”. We use those kid dishes from Ikea… you know, everything is a different bold color. We love them. She loves them. NO ONE LOVES THEM ALL OVER THE FLOOR.

In addition to EK’s alphabet dinner parties, J is beginning to eat some mashed-up goodness himself. This means that I am adding Beaba baby food maker parts, even tinier spoons, recycled baby food jars, and plastic bibs to my ever-growing list of dishes. This is in addition to the pump accessories and bottle pieces that I am already washing (not as much as with EK, but still some). I might as well throw in the dish towel and keep those awful yellow gloves on my hands 24/7. Palmolive, suck it.

One last thing about these awful dishes (that I’m hating more every word I type): We are constantly losing/throwing away/destroying in the disposal all the little attachments to things. You know what I’m talking about… the rubber piece from the sippy cup that supposedly makes it “not spill”. That little white “membrane” (who named it that, anyway?) that attaches to my breast pump pieces. The blue ring that MUST be in an Avent bottle to prevent the (rare and precious) pumped milk from spilling all over your kid instead of in his mouth. Why can’t we minimize headache and make it all one piece?! Am I alone in my wish for this? I’m going to design a non-spill, two-piece (cup and lid) sippy cup and make MILLIONS.

#LikeAGirl

I guess deep down, I’ve always known I’m a feminist. I’m not talking about a bra-burning, anti-makeup, dresses like a guy, “butch” feminist. I’m a feminist by definition: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of political, social, and economic equality to men. I had a mom who raised me to know that I could do anything. I had my own opinions, and I shared them. I didn’t have to play with dolls or read girly books, although I did those things. But I also went to Space Camp (yeah, call me a nerd, why don’t you?!), climbed trees, went hiking in the woods behind my house, and read about the Hardy Boys alongside my beloved Nancy Drew. I collected Hot Wheels and played with Legos, then turned right around and dressed up my brother in princess outfits. I’d say I’m a well-balanced human.

But this morning, up (way too) early nursing J, I was playing around on Facebook and saw this video that my dear friend Sydney (her amazing blog is here) had just reposted from Good Housekeeping (original article and video are here). She has a little girl a few months younger than EK, and she went to the same women’s college I did – she was my little sister in fact! *proud big sis moment* I teared up as I watched girls fall into gender roles, and boys perpetuate them, as the director asked them to demonstrate running (and throwing and hitting) “like a girl”. The initial responses were all the same – running as though you were in high heels, arms flung out to the side, tiny steps, hair tosses.

Finally, the youngest girls of all come out, and redefine everything. A girl in a frilly pink dress, who looks to be about first grade age, is asked, “What do you think it means to run like a girl?” and she responds “…run as fast as you can.” That’s it, folks. The moral of the story is do everything the best you can. Girls, young women, old women, ladies, gals, you are every bit as good as guys are, and oftentimes better.

My little girl will hear that every day. EK will grow up knowing that she can do anything and be anything she wants to. She will know her gender has no bearing on how good she will be at any activity. She can try anything she wants, she can form her own opinions and learn about any subject she is curious about. If that’s fairy tales and ballet, fabulous. If it’s muscle cars and rugby, I’ll be thrilled. I just want to raise her as a strong, confident girl. Anything she does, she’ll do it like a girl. Anything she does, she’ll do it with her own spin. Anything she does will be amazing and I’ll be a proud mama.

What are your thoughts about the #LikeAGirl campaign? Do you agree that we are on the cusp of breaking gender roles and empowering our girls?

Parenting Plight #4: Fingernails and Toenails

Are they cutting his finger off?! Photo cred: www.whattoexpect.com
Are they cutting his finger off?! Photo cred: http://www.whattoexpect.com

Now, this doesn’t seem all that bad, right? Just clipping a few fingernails and toenails every once in a while, right? No. Absolutely not. There is no way to describe the magnificent torture that is making sure your babies/kids’ fingernails and toenails are groomed appropriately. Not only do they have to be short, but they also have to be rounded, with no snagged edges or corners. Otherwise, it looks like your kid pissed off Edward Scissorhands.

The jury is still out on the best way to trim these flimsy but sharp daggers on the ends of our sweeties’ fingers and toes. I have friends who bite them off, but that still churns my stomach to think about. They tell me, “You can feel their skin better that way, and it’s easier not to cut them while you’re doing it.” What I hear is, “You put your kid’s fingers/toes in your mouth, bite down really hard, and hope you don’t taste blood.” It’s a bummer that however you do it. I just take a pair of those “Safety 1st” clippers and pray.

You know what else is a bummer? The fact that, like everything else on a baby, those nails grow with supernatural speed. If I want to “grow out my nails” – something I occasionally want to do to prove my femininity – it takes me weeks. EK and J both seem to need their nails cut every three days. (Note: It’s possible that part of the reason for the too-often need to cut their nails stems from the fact that I can never seem to cut all twenty in one sitting.) I should probably do EK’s about that often, because nowadays it seems there is always gunk underneath them: dirt, food, and ????

If I can manage it, I pass the job of nail cutting to someone else. Grandparents, Hubby, and probably strangers do a better job than I do at keeping those nails groomed. My mom can somehow get the job done if the kid is in a highchair. Why this makes a difference, I’m not sure. I have tried it, and I still have the same amount of success I would if they were on a roller coaster. Maybe they can tell how nervous I am?

Do you have tips on how to get my least favorite dirty job done? Powers of distraction or methods to calm, perhaps?

His Best For Us

CS LEWIS 1

How often do you pray for what you want? A friendship to mend. A job opportunity to work out. A boyfriend to pop the question.

I bet those things don’t work out like we plan as often as we wish. We lose touch with the friend. We don’t get the job. The boyfriend says things “aren’t working out”. And we are left hurting.

It sucks down there in the pit… the pit in which we feel we’re stuck after every situation that ends a different way than we plan. How will you ever forgive that friend? What will you do since you couldn’t get your dream job? Will you find a love as good as the one you had?

Friends, these are valid questions. I won’t tell you they’ve never crossed my mind, or that they shouldn’t cross yours. It’s the human experience, wondering these things. But listen to this: That isn’t what God has for you.

There are incredible plans for you. He knows what you need. Isn’t that comforting? What a relief! Even when you’ve had the wrong idea all this time, He’s had the right one. God has fashioned a perfect journey, and you’re already on it. It might not be easy. It might not be safe in our personal bubble. But it is GOOD. His highest for you is so much more wishing and wondering. He has a perfect place for you to be. He has the perfect way and time for you to get there. He will lead you to the perfect brothers and sisters in His name.

There are so many clichés that non-empathetic people love to use… mostly ones that we don’t want to hear. God’s timing is perfect. Hindsight is 20/20. When God closes a door, He opens a window. Blah blah blah. Of course they’re true. They wouldn’t be clichés if they weren’t true. But who wants to hear that?! I want someone to say, “Yeah, that’s an awful feeling. I’ve been there.” and then pray for me. I know that God has a plan. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt. I know an amazing future is ahead – but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally impatient waiting on it!

Take heart, right now. His best is on its way. I promise. He promises. Pick your head up, trudge up from the pit, and shout to Him, “I’m ready! I want to trust You and move on!” He will pick you up and help you onward. And if you need a sister to pray with you and for you and hold your hand, I’m your gal. Or connect with a church. Or find a fellowship. Reach out. I can’t do it for you (believe me I would if I could). If you can’t muster up the faith that He has your best, call on someone to believe it for you. He has it. His best. For you. Always.

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