Friday, April 27, 2012

How I Became "That Weird Breastfeeding Mom"

When I was pregnant with Sassy, I was a scared young college student. Worried about what this unexpected blessing would do to my life, but even MORE worried about what I would do to her life. I mean, I don't have the best relationship with my parents. Although this is not the time or place to get into that. Suffice it to say that my childhood gave me many examples of how I did NOT want to parent. So suddenly realizing that I was about to become a parent was scary.

There were many things I was unsure of, but I focused much more on the end result of having the baby instead of the journey of pregnancy and birth. I made many choiices because it was just "the thing that people do." I willingly followed every recommendation and request of all the medical professionals I met during my pregnancy because I knew very little about how birth really worked. To sum it up, I did a LOT of things that I would have done differently if I had bothered to educate myself.

But do you know the one thing that I did "right?" I decided to breastfeed. So many people in my life said that it was pointless to try because I could just use formula. They said it was "ok for other people, but I think it's gross to have a baby sucking on your boob." They said it would be too hard and I should not bother putting myself through the heartache. But I decided that women had fed babies by breastfeeding for generations, therefore I would give it a try. Worse case scenario? My baby would have formula.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

10 Parenting Principles I Wish I'd Known: Episode Five

5) Family Time is Important. And Necessary. And Intimidating. But It Shouldn't Be.

Some families have great traditions from early on. Family Game Night. Pizza Night. Movie Night. Lots of things that the family does together that strengthens the bond they share.

Those families are lucky.

Then you have families that struggle to find that family time. Families that get lost in the daily grind of work, school, etc. Families who spend a lot of their "down time" reading and watching TV in separate rooms. Not really the best way to strengthen family bonds.

Many of the families that fall into Category B want to find more meaningful family time, but it can be intimidating.

In today's world, we are flooded with images of "perfect" families. Don't get me wrong, we also see dysfunctional families and lots of other things. But how many times have you been watching TV and run across a show that shows some family spending time together, looking so happy, usually after resolving some big drama much more easily than you ever could in real life. Or seen the same thing in a movie. Or ran across a book or magazine with a magic list of fun things to do with your family. And searching for "fun things to do with my family" yields over 308 million hits on Google.

So many people get stuck trying to figure out the best way to spend time with their family.

Go to the park? Go to a ball game? Go camping? Amusement park? Gardening? Trip out of town? Cooking? Swimming? Scavenger hunt? Game Night? Movies? Zoo? Bowling? Laser Tag? Scrapbook? Play Barbies? Bakugan? Build a fort? Talent Show? Fly a kite?

Feeling overwhelmed yet?

So many people get so caught up in trying to figure out what to DO for family time that they get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything that they feel is "special" family time. Sure, you still spend time together as a family, but you are not doing the activities that make you FEEL like you are getting that special bonding time.

I had always thought that I would be "that mom." You know, the one that bakes cookies with her kids weekly, has family game night once a week, plans a new activity each weekend, etc. We'd go camping one weekend, bowling the next, day trips to the zoo, etc.

Then I had kids. And it can be EXHAUSTING just getting through the daily grind, let alone planning and executing special family time.

Hubby and I both have full-time jobs. He is very involved in several fraternal organizations. I am involved in several things of my own. Sassy and Diva have school. And Monkey is a toddler. 'Nuff said. We have some responsibility or activity almost every weekend. Out of the next 6 weekends, each one has at least 1 major event except one. Evenings during the week involve coming home from work/school, dinner, homework, and bedtime routine. Not a lot of space for additional family activities other than our usually already packed weekends.

So I understand how overwhelming it can be to make time for quality family time. I get it.

But do you know what I have realized?

We don't NEED to plan and execute special family time to HAVE special family time.

It has taken me some time to learn this lesson, mostly because I had all these grand ideas of what quality family time should be. Like when you are in the kitchen and you envision yourself as Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, or Rachel Ray. And really you are burning grilled cheese and overcooking your pasta.

Let me give you an example. A few weekends ago, we had events and meetings on Saturday. On Sunday, we spent some time at my MIL's in the morning, then had a birthday part early in the afternoon. Afterwards, we had a few hours free until dinnertime. So we decided to get the family out to enjoy the spring weather. Just spur of the moment, we decided to head for a local park.

Nothing fancy.
No big activities.
Just a small playground and a scenic overlook of our city.

We let the kids play on the playground

Monkey monkeyed around with Hubby's help

Sassy struck a pose on one of the cannons

Diva struck a pose on top of the playground

I even tried to get a family photo of all 3 kids. And failed. Monkey looks most unhappy. And slightly constipated.

But it was still a great time. We were there for a little over an hour at a small park less than 10 minutes from our home. It just goes to show you that some of the most special quality family time you will spend is unscripted and spontaneous instead of orchestrated and meticulously planned.

You don't have to make big plans to spend time with your family.

Just DO it and memories will happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh Where, Oh Where Did My Informed Consent Go?

Did you just sing that? Because I totally did. It's been running in my head all day long and I have been waiting and waiting for that time of day when I can actually plop down and get some me-time to work on a post. Which, as any mother knows, translates to after the kids are in bed and I catch up on a few things around the house and online.

So here I sit, thinking back to the way I used to treat medical decisions. You know, before I made INFORMED medical decisions. I would go to the doctor, they would tell me the course of treatment we were going to take, and I would not question their standard policies and procedures. Why would I? They went to MEDICAL school. They have MEDICAL degrees. I'm just a lowly person with no medical training, why should I question what they want to do in regards to my health?

Friday, April 6, 2012

10 Parenting Principles I Wish I'd Known: Episode Four

4) Frustrations Transform to Teachable Moments

Remember back in the day when you were in high school and you would be heading for the water fountain, only to be cut off by some jerk who then took their time guzzling down water while you waited impatiently? Yeah, that was frustrating.

At least I *thought* that was frustrating. Until I actually had kids.

Now imagine that you were heading for the water fountain and some jerk cut you off, but while you are impatiently waiting you now have a baby crying and a child yelling "I WANT WATER NOW!!!" All while feeling the glare of the judging eyes of everyone around you because you cannot control your kids.

Yes. THAT is frustrating.

Kids make everyday frustrations magnify. And once you have kids, your frustrations will multiply like naughty little bunnies.

It's ok that I'm talking about rabbits multiplying because it is Easter and bunnies are everywhere right now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Opposites Attract

Opposites attract.
Likes attract also, but aren't nearly as interesting.
When opposites attract, the reaction can create quite a spectacle.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. I know I would be. My blog has mostly focused on a few areas of my life where I have developed some "crunch." Or as I refer to it, a little more natural, a little more green, and a whole lot cheaper. So why am I delving into something that seems so far removed from my usual posts?

Because my life is FULL of opposites attracting.
And by that, I mean that Hubby is truly my polar opposite so much of the time.
This causes some conflicts at times. And by conflicts, I mean full on battles in the war that is parenting and life in general.

We are not always on the same page for many of the issues that come up in the course of our marriage, family, and lifestyle. This can cause some...let's call it marital discord.

Marital Discord