This Is The One Where I Give Away Free Stuff…So You Probably Want to Read It

You may have noticed my blog looks a little different (it will likely evolve some more in the near future). I thought I’d change things up in celebration. Guess who is *this close* to hitting 1,000 followers? Heck yeah! I’m SO close that I may actually hit the milestone while I slumber, in between the time I scheduled this post to publish and it actually publishing. Unfortunately, I do think a chunk of those followers are spammer blogs who post in Croatian or redirect you to pyramid schemes promising financial Continue reading “This Is The One Where I Give Away Free Stuff…So You Probably Want to Read It”

Parenting Advice from Some Hippies

It occurred to me today that I should add something new to my children’s diets: dreams.

This suggestion did not come from my pediatrician, or Dr. Oz, or some celebrity chef who would likely scrutinize my sometimes questionable lunchbox choices on days when I hit the snooze button too many times or on mornings before the weekly grocery shopping trip.  In this case, my unlikely nutritionists go by the names of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Wait, not Young. No, yes Young. Let me check….yes, & Young.

Teach Your Children.” I have heard the song more times than I can count, mostly thanks to my father and his almost pristine taste in music. So when I heard it on the radio today, it should not have been any different from the thousands of other times. But then those voices in silken harmony began their sage advice: “Teach your children well. Their father’s hell did slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams…” BAM!

CSNY...parenting gurus?

It was as if I had heard those words, “and feed them on your dreams,” for the very first time. I apparently had never been listening before. But now I was. And all I could think was how beautiful that statement was. How poetic. How decadent in imagery. How representative of the generation of peace and love. How…wise and oddly practical. It was the best parenting advice I have heard in a long time. And it came from hippies.

Parenting is a competitive sport these days. We train prior to the big event. We scout experts and other parents, researching new approaches to the game. We are constantly adding pages to our playbook. We scrutinize every move we make. When we fail, we analyze where we went wrong; when we are victorious, we are awarded the right to brag about our “natural” skills and our abilities to outplay our children. And we are all working toward the same championship prize: for our well-rounded, intelligent, successful child to smoothly transition into a well-rounded, intelligent, successful adult.

That is what I have been told anyway. By whom? Pretty much the entire world, that’s who. Everyone has an opinion on parenting, and we are constantly bombarded by “experts” telling us how we should parent, how we should not parent, how much we should parent, all the things we are doing wrong as parents, and so on and so on. Are you a Tiger Mom? Are you a helicopter parent? Would you be a better parent if you were French? Is my child overweight because there are toys in Happy Meals? Are Disney princesses warping my daughter’s brain?

I am starting to think we are so busy reading about how to be parents that we forget to actually parent. Just pin that parenting tip on your Pinterest board labeled “Kid Stuff” and that’s all you need to do, right?

I am certainly guilty of all of this. I can be a bit of an over-analyzer when it comes to just about anything, my own parenting skills included. This is compounded by the fact that as a high school teacher, I was exposed to teenage behaviors on all points of the spectrum, thereby contributing to an irrational fear that every time I screw up in the parenting arena I have most definitely set my children on the path leading to the defiant, disrespectful, morally corrupt section of that spectrum. Maybe I should hover a little closer. No wait, maybe I should stop catering to my children’s needs like French parents. Or maybe I need to just nip this in the bud right now, pull out some Tiger Mom moves, and start calling my kids “garbage” until they start acting correctly.

Or maybe I just listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and feed them on my dreams.

My dreams for my children are pretty simple. Love and happiness. Sure, I want my children to do well in school. Sure, I want them to have ambition and drive. Sure, I want them to be successful in life. Would it hurt if they ended up making nice, hefty livings for themselves so they could one day hook up their old crotchety parents with a sweet retirement timeshare in Florida? No, it would not. But deep down, I truly believe that everything I want for my children, everything I dream for them stems from love and happiness. If I feed them love and happiness everyday, that will nourish their spirits, their confidence, their minds, their hearts. It will grow them into beautiful people, and beautiful people do great things.

I know, I know…it sounds a little hippie dippie. But it is not as if I am never going to yell at my kids again, or tell them little white lies, or take away toys, or hold them accountable for their actions. I am still going to do all that. Maybe now I will just start trusting that the kind of parent I am is exactly the kind of parent I need to be, and that losing my cool after asking my children to stop using the couch as a trampoline for the twenty-fourth time is okay as long as it is accompanied by a large helping of love and happiness. Just like it is okay to have a Happy Meal every now and again, accompanied by a usually balanced diet. (That’s right crazy society, there ARE parents who do not need you take toys out of fast food meals. Some of us can make educated decisions all on our own. Shocking, I know.)

And because any view on parenting would not be complete without a healthy dialogue from  many perspectives, I am curious: what ingredients go into YOUR dream meals for your children? Or maybe you think this whole dream diet is just another fad? Or maybe you think I am plain crazy for taking parenting advice from hippies?

Or maybe you find it ridiculous that I just wrote a parenting blog post about how we over-analyze parenting?

Denying My True Self Through Pinterest

I finally know what it must be like to be a drug addict. And I have Pinterest to thank for it.

Last month I thought I would just check out this thing that has become quite the little craze. I was curious, looking for something new to put a little pizzaz into what can be a sometimes hum-drum life of a stay-at-home mom. At first, I really did have control over it. I was just an occassional user, mostly because I hadn’t figured out how to bring up the page that shows you what all your friends have been pinning. I was simply using it as a glorified “favorites bar.” But then my friend Angie opened up the Pinterest world to me, and now it’s not pretty.

Sure, the site has been a virtually endless trove of ideas for organization, DIY crafts, party ideas, and the like. But if there has ever been something that has made me feel such an unnerving combination of hope and self-loathing, I have yet to come across it. As my eyes flutter among the hundreds of ways I can improve my life, be a better mother, have a nicer home, and make more satisfying dinners,  I am at first exhilarated by the promise of what we all secretly desire, but few admit: to move one step closer to Martha Stewart status, one of the most highly prized components of the ever-elusive SuperMom. But here is where that double-edge sword does its handy work. The only thing that promise ever really seems to do is remind me of all the areas I am supposedly falling short in. Becoming panicky at the idea that I totally suck at life, I almost mindlessly grab a pen and start making a list of materials I need to buy at Michael’s to make this nifty little menu planning board that will surely revolutionize my family’s dinners. Yes, the menu planning board. If I just make this menu board, I will eradicate all those inferiorities I feel as the nourisher of my loved ones. But chances are, after I end up spending $35 on supplies and hours of time I don’t really have creating this board, I will still end up staring into my refrigerator at 5:15 pm wondering for the first time all day what I can throw together for dinner. Here comes the self-loathing again…and here comes Pinterest with my next fix.

I have to face reality. Pinterest is not going to change me. There are four laundry baskets of clean clothes sitting in my front hallway as I write, and at least some of them will likely be there again tomorrow. The day I put away all the laundry the same day I do it will be the day you need to suspect the pod people have finally made it to earth. My car has smelled like Wendy’s for three days now, probably because there is a wrapper or stray french fry in some crevice, and finding it just really is not on my “to do” list at the moment. I will continue to be the kind of person who one day decides she needs to clean the house like a freak until you can eat off of every surface, but on a regular basis is too lazy to throw her dirty clothes down the laundry chute and instead tosses them on the floor right in front of it. I will forever be someone who craves organization, but can never stay organized. All the DIY crafts in the world can not save me from myself. If my Pinterest boards reflected reality, they would have titles like Television Shows I Watch While My Kid Naps, Things I Always Meant to Scrapbook and Never Did, Things I Convince My Kids to Do So I Don’t Have to Do Arts & Crafts With Them, and of course Favorite Recipes, with only two pins, “Spaghetti with canned pasta sauce” and “Imo’s Pizza.”

Fortunately, I read something today that made me feel okay about that. I am sure many of you by now have heard of the blog “People I Want to Punch in the Throat,” home of the now infamous post, “Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies.” I am a fan. The author, Jen, cracks my cookies up. Check her out if you haven’t already. Anyway, today she posted an interview that DC Metro Mom had done with her, and she said something that really resonated with me: “There’s a real movement out there to manufacture memories for your children and I just don’t buy it. Every day is not a party and kids don’t need it to be.” Pin that, Pinterest. Jen is my guru for the day.

My kids aren’t going to fondly remember that mom had this kick-arse menu planning board and 25 different ways to make zucchini. They are going to remember the time I was too tired to cook and let them have cereal right out of the box for dinner. Or maybe they won’t. But they will remember that when they were hungry, I had food for them (well, except for maybe today…the cuppards are pretty bare because I am bound and determined to wait until $10 off Thursday at Shop ‘n’ Save).

Don’t get me wrong, fellow pinners; I will not be entering Pinterest rehab anytime soon. I doubt my enthusiasm will even be curbed. I may have just uncovered it as a harbor of the manufactured mother myth, but a girl can still have dreams. I may be smart enough to realize Pinterest will not change my inferiorities, but I am also smart enough to realize that if I stop striving to be better, I am not really living at all.

And to prove it, I just went and moved those four laundry baskets out of the front hallway and into my bedroom so that the pizza delivery guy wouldn’t see them and judge me as the housekeeping slug that I am.

By the way, you can pin this is you want to. Pin It