5 Parenting Choices That Will Make You Cringe

Until You Really Think About Them and Realize Their Brilliance

I often wondered what choices I would make when I became a parent. How would I choose to raise little people? What mistakes would I make? What strokes of brilliance would I have? And when it all came down to it, I realized that the best I could do was be a thoughtful parent that made choices based on logic, reasoning, and my own experience. I had no intention of doing exactly what my mother did or what others told me I should do. I had every intention of raising good people. I remember my mother once told me that as long as I was a better mother than she was I would be doing parenting right. She didn’t mean that she was a terrible parent, she just felt there was always room for improvement and since she had given me the gift of critical thinking I should be able to improve on her methods.

As it stands now I KNOW my husband and I do things all the time that make other parents jaws drop, make them stare at us openly in public, and make them laugh full and complete belly laughs at our audacity. Interestingly enough, when those parents get to know us and our boys better (like those at Gymboree every Saturday) they always say, you guys have the best little boys, they are so sweet, so thoughtful, so brave, so giving. So excuse me if I feel really awesome right now, but I totally am.

Here are the top 5 choices we have made as parents that will make you cringe until you really think about them, and then I bet you try at least one of them for yourself:

Grazing-

Yeah yeah, I know I have heard it a million times from every source imaginable, feed your kids three meals a day. Sit down at a table for dinner so you can really connect and be mindful of the food and family. This is the worst advice I have ever heard. We don’t even own a table, no really ask anyone who has been to my house. My boys are presented with food on a plate three times a day. They eat standard fare like “little trees”, apples, string cheese, and peas. They get pancakes, turkey, squash, tilapia, salmon, and sweet potatoes. Some of it they eat, some of it they don’t. I am far more concerned with what they are presented with than what they actually consume. They rarely sit down to eat but run around like silly hooligans as they play rushing by to eat a bite or two. In between meals they can snack on what they want in the amount they want. We have no sugar or deserts, one of my boys has celiac so we also have no foods with gluten, and absolutely no juice; but other than that they can request yogurt, peaches, bananas, muffins, or protein bars.  So why should you try this?

My boys eat in moderation, they eat when they are hungry, they stop when they are full, and we never fight over finishing their food. My boys have never been afraid to try new foods or to say no thank you. They never suffer from crashing blood sugar or spikes in blood sugar that lead to behavior problems and tantrums. They don’t worry about food or stress about “meal times”. They don’t crave or ask for sweets because they are always sated. They fall asleep at naps because they aren’t hungry or stuffed. They have learned moderation because nothing is scarce. Food is energy, end of story.

If your concern is the lack of family time, I say that is a myth our culture created. We connect on a much deeper level playing games or doing crafts. My boys share more about their day walking around the block than they do staring at a plate of food they don’t want. We talk and bond at bath time or while reading books. I can’t imagine trying to get any child under the age of 8 to enjoy sitting still at a table, politely eating, “bonding” with family (what is the bond there anyway?). The thought gives me the willies. No wonder most families fight at the dinner table.

Bikes in the house-

I think I actually saw some of you physically recoil from your computer screens. :) I let both of my sons ride their “bikes” in the house, even after they have ridden them outside! I know I’m not supposed to let them do this because they should have respect for the house and they are “outside” toys. I understand the concern of riding into furniture and walls and each other. I get the worry that they will somehow grow up to be adults who ride bikes in houses… oh wait, that isn’t a concern?? Exactly. So why should you do this?

My oldest son is not yet four and he can ride a bike. That is right, you heard me. He has been practicing and honing his craft for two years in the comfort and safety of his own home with carpet to cushion his crashes. He even sets up ramps and obstacles to ride over, under, and thru. The experience and bravado he learned inside has translated to his riding outside and the fearless way he takes falling in stride. Riding inside has given him extra time to practice at his own pace, in an environment that felt safe. When presented with a bike that had training wheels he actually couldn’t understand what on earth those were for. And this is not my brave child. This is my think everything thru a hundred times and decide it is too dangerous child. In addition it prevented that pent up little boy craziness that comes from not getting enough physical activity.

If you are worried about your home, carpets, walls, furniture and such then I suggest you rethink your priorities. Living things trump material things EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. In other words, walls can be patched, furniture can be replaced, and bruises will heal. Any damage he has done to the interior of our home was minor and his fun and new skills riding a bike far out weigh any collateral damage he left behind. If anything, it taught him more respect overall because now he understands just how easily things can get broken or dented. He can navigate without hitting anything now, except his brother, which I highly suspect is intentional. They are boys after all.

Foul Language-

I cuss. I mean like all the time. I would have named my blog mommy has a potty mouth but some bitch stole the name first.  I’ve never had a clean mouth but working with Marines and having mostly male friends hasn’t helped me any. I’d like to tell you that I don’t cuss around my children. I understand that people think this makes kids disrespectful or it causes them to cuss. I won’t lie my two year old has said the word “shit” and as he did so I held back laughter as I told him that was a grown up word and he could use it when he was older. We listen to music with foul language too. Not the disrespect women and authority music with foul language just normal music where people occasionally say Fuck. I thought my mother was going to have another heart attack when she realized my children were saying “This is fucking awesome” a lyric to Macklemore’s Thrift Shopping. See below. So why should you do this?

The main reason should be obvious to anyone who ever was a kid. Making certain words taboo or forbidden only makes kids want to say them more. Seriously, they are just like dogs; any behavior that gets attention will be repeated and often. If you lose your shit every time your child utters a word you find distasteful, you can bet your ass they will do it more often. What I have found is my kids actually do not repeat these words in conversation, ever. They sing them, they repeat them immediately after I say them, but because they don’t know when to use them or what they really mean, it isn’t part of their regular everyday vocabulary. We’ve discussed that when they get older they can say them too, when the time is right and the situation calls for it- just like every other word. I mean seriously, who hasn’t cussed after stubbing a toe or hitting their funny bone? There is only so many times I can scream “Mother…. of pearl inlay” instead of “mother fucker”.

Side note* In addition, they also know their penis is a penis but it isn’t like I hear them yelling it on the playground. I was proud however when my 3 year old son yelled “Mommy hold my penis please!!” As he covered his ears in the bathroom at an Avalanche game because the auto flush toilet was too loud for him and well, someone had to hold the penis to prevent urine from going everywhere. I think the other people enjoyed it to, if laughter is any indicator.

No sharing-

We’ve all heard it, its important to share. Children must learn to share so they grow up to be nice adults who are respectful of others and their feels. Right? Wrong. Seriously what does that have to do with anything? Nothing. That’s what. Have you ever felt warm feeling for someone who has something that used to be your but was snatched out of your hands and given to them for no good reason except that you should want to give it to him? I doubt it. Sure it’s nice when little boys share toys and food or swings on the playground, and who doesn’t like seeing children waiting their turn to share a toy or use a piece of equipment. I think children should learn to share and I think they should learn to be respectful, but I don’t think sharing is necessary, or smart, all the time. My children have toys they share and toys that are “theirs”. So they share match box cars, but their bike is their bike. The other guy can ride it if he asks and if the owner isn’t riding it; but if the owner wants it (even just to be spiteful), too bad for the other guy, the owner gets it. No sharing. So why should you do this?

Because teaching your children that sharing always happens is a lie and sets them up for a huge disappointment later in life. When was the last time you shared your car? Now when was the last time you shared your car against your wishes? Um, never? Seriously, adults share almost nothing. And they certainly are not forced to share or feel obligated to share. We share because we want to. See the difference. We share because we want to not because we should. So why should children have to? It seems silly when you think about it. Yes, respecting others and wanting to share with people you love or people in need is awesome and wonderful. Being forced to give up your possessions in the name of sharing is absurd and not a realistic view of the world or how they will interact with it once they get older. Doing both shows a balance and helps them understand why you are asking them to share in the first place.

Saying I’m sorry-

I know most parents never apologize for their behavior or mistakes. They think saying sorry and discussing their failures might make them less of an authority figure or confuse their child into thinking they are… wait for it… equals. Most parents gloss over their poor decisions or blame the outcome of their behavior on others or worse the children themselves. This is terrible. I almost can’t think of a worse precedent to set that making your child think you are always right, and they are often wrong. I make my children say sorry about a hundred times a day, and sometimes they even say it with sincerity. But I apologize every single time I make a mistake, lose my cool, or forget something important to them. I apologize a lot. So why should you do this?

The best way to teach your children how to live is not by forcing them to do something like apologizing, the best way is by being a good example. I say I’m sorry because I want my children to know it is okay to fallible, that their parents are not perfect and we don’t expect them to be either. This teaches them it is good to apologize because it feels good to be apologized to. If you are going to teach a child why they should apologize, then they need to feel how it good it is to be apologized to. It teaches them that while mommy and daddy are here to teach and guide and love them, that we are not here to abuse, or force, or belittle them.

I am always reminded of the movie Matilda when her dad goes on a rant of he is big, she is little, he is the dad, she is the child, he is right, she is wrong. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t wrong or that he was cruel, he was right simply because he was older and her dad. Those things don’t make you right, they just make you someone who should know better. I love that when I tell my boys I’m sorry, when I tell them I made a mistake, that I forgot something or I didn’t eat and I was feeling bad, I love that as soon as I say I’m sorry  I can see on their faces that they take it to heart, that they forgive me, that they want me to feel okay about it. That is when I know that they understand the words “I’m sorry” and they are figuring out why they are being asked to say it. What is more important than saying sorry? it is meaning it. Children learn what it means to say sorry when they are apologized to.

We aren’t perfect parents, and our style isn’t for everyone. I have no doubt my boys will have a complaint or two or ten when they are older. But what I want them to take away from our parenting attempts is that we always considered them first. We always did the best we could. We never did something because it was done to us and we never did something without thinking about why first. So which one will you try? Come on, you know you want to.:)

 

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How to be Happy in 19 Fairly Painless Steps

 

I may not have found the holy grail of happiness just yet, but I have managed to eek out a little bliss every now and then in these stressful shark filled waters I call my life. So I have decided to take a look back at the things I have done or tried in my journey thus far. It seemed like a good time to sum up the specific steps I’ve taken so I can take stock, move forward, readdress those things that didn’t take the first time, or reassess why things didn’t work at all.

  1. Identify what is great about you. You might be surprised at how awesome you already are. Make a list to see the awesomeness on paper.
  2. Really make those traits of your life a priority or use them more often to shine. If you take what you do well or the traits about you that rock and you do them more often, of course you are going to find more reasons to smile.
  3. Make a conscious choice about who you are. A choice not driven from history or others labels, but one that is truly you, or the you you would like to become. Make the choice of happiness when you do this. Stop blaming others for your position in life and take charge. Blaming others gives them the power, taking charges puts you in the driver’s seat. I prefer power every day of the week.
  4. Formulate your personal identifiers. These are the attributes you want to live by or be known for. This is your chance to chose who you are going to be. This list doesn’t have to be true at this moment, it is a work in progress. Include your current attributes as well as those you are working towards. Many people find happiness in reaching toward goals. Easier to reach for them if you know what you are reaching for.
  5. Review the people in your life and decide if they help or hinder your progress in either happiness or your intentional identifier goals. They may be friends or family and you may love them dearly, but if they don’t get your new life then they may hold you back from truly succeeding. I’m not saying let them go, I’m saying put them in perspective.
  6. Clean up your financial mess, or at least put it all out on the table and in the open so you can start looking at it. Knowledge is half the battle, the truth really can set you free. This is the path to fixing it.
  7. Take action to implement or move toward an intentional identifier. It isn’t enough to make a list, you have to take action. You have to remind yourself everyday of who you want to be and you have to do something to work toward that goal as often as you can.
  8. Let go of all the negative things that draw you down or hold you back. Whether it is people, things, habitual thoughts, or ruminations on your past, let it all go and start new.
  9. Stop patterns of behavior that do not work for you or bring you closer to your goals and happiness. Stop doing everything that negates who you want to be or what you want to have in life. Just stop it.
  10. Adjust your beliefs to allow your goals to be reached. If a belief is preventing you from reaching a positive lace or a remarkable goal it is time to rethink why you are chosing to believe something tat is clearly holding you back.
  11. Live on the edge and do things that scare you; you might be surprised at what you find or discover about yourself. Often living in the safety zone prevents growth and opportunity to make your life the way you really want it to be. You must be bold to move forward and out of your comfort zone and onto the edge. Those who make history or are fabulously happy are out there on the edge, trust me.
  12. Learn to live in and experience the Now- I I know it sounds new agey. Let go of the past and stop worrying about your future. If you live in the now the past is nothing but a memory and the future will only be brighter if you really truly just live in this moment.
  13. Be better to your partner. Give them what you want and they are likely to reciprocate. If not then have them read this. Remember they have value and possibly are right.
  14. Write your best about me. Avoid titles and roles you play in life and instead focus on the true things about you, See mine for inspiration.
  15. Choose to be healthy. Make one small healthy change every week and be surprised at how it catches on and how good you feel.
  16. Be productive. Do things that create peace or simplicity in your life. Do things that need to be done and can shrink your to do list. Do things that instill a great sense of accomplishment. Do the trivial things that get in the way of your greatness.
  17. Get creative! Do something new and creative everyday. This is to get your brain working and firing neurons it usually doesn’t use. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand, paint a mural, bake cookies, make an obstacle course… just do something new and interesting that is totally for fun or nonsensical. There is a lt of brain up there just going to waste.
  18. Exercise, but use your limited time wisely. Moving everyday can make a huge mood shift. If you don’t have time for a big workout just squeeze in something, anything. It will make your mind feel  happy and your body relaxed. This morning I did 20 min of yoga with a two year old on my back. It wasn’t proper, it wasn’t “correct” but I did feel better and he sure laughed a lot. :)
  19. Stop taking on responsibility for others feelings. You cannot control what they choose to feel or what they choose to believe. If you have not been hurtful or intentionally cruel then their emotions are not your responsibility. You will waste a considerable amount of time in life trying to solve the problems of other people. Usually those people have made the decision to be miserable and their beliefs have less to do with you than their own choices to feel unhappy. It will hurt, it will be hard, but you have to realize at some point in your life, you are only responsible for your own reactions and feelings. Not those of others.
  20. Fake it. Fake everything you want to do or be until you reach your goals. You can get where you are going, it just takes a little bit of creativity and embellishment sometimes.

I have now been on this quest to find a better way of life since July of this year. And the really cool, if surprising bit, is that I really do feel better. I really am seeing a difference in my mood, my outlook, and my life. Just imagine if you had been following the journey and doing it to. What might your life look like now? What changes would you have made? How far could you have come?

For those keeping score, or are simply curious. I have accomplished the following by taking the steps above:

  • I’ve lost 5 pounds without dieting
  • I now fit in my pre pregnancy pants, I’m talking the ones before our first child
  • I’ve cleaned up our finances and we can now pay all our bills with a little left over to fix an ailing truck and toddler
  • I can find things in my organized house
  • I’ve sold or given away much of my clutter
  • I’m nicer to my children and we have a lot more silly times together
  • I’m sleeping better
  • My to do list is remarkably shorter
  • I am reading like a fiend
  • I am halfway through a new fiction book I hope will be the winner winner to getting published and being a true writer
  • I have eaten gluten free with only two breaks ( this was for my son’s Celiac Disease, but I won’t lie and say I don’t think I am healthier or that it didn’t improve my mood)
  • I feel more at peace
  • I feel like I have found part of me I thought was forever gone
  • I can cope with the unknown with less anxiety
  • I no longer have ruminating thoughts about things I can’t control

What I am Reading: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hall a man buys a ghost off the internet… enough said, if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.

What I am listening to: Life is Beautiful by Keb Mo.  Thank you Carri, for giving me his voice.

What I am watching: Before you poo poo me… I am a HUGE Star Wars fan (see first edition original movie poster in my house or my son being practically named after Darth Vader), but I am also a huge believer in raising amazing little men. I hope when asked who they liked best they will choose wisely. Food for thought. Honestly though, at 8 years old I chose Chewbacca.

Inspirations from the ether: I clearly didn’t utilize my baby’s sleep time well enough. Must see photos. Seriously,  no really, click it!

Now moment of the week: A potty trained two year old who did it all by himself one day and  hasn’t looked back. Bonus moment, finding out from his special doctor that he only has 6 more months of leg braces! 1 regular doctor visit down! Three more to go!

 

Wholly cow!

It is week 13 of this journey, and I am on vacation. Not a real vacation, I’m still sitting in my house, but I’m not logging into work and I’m doing whatever I darn well please- that my toddlers will allow that is.  I can’t believe this is week 13, really, even just sticking with this blog and sticking to my goal for 13 weeks is amazing to me given all the things I start and never come back to. 13 weeks of dedicated truth finding, fun finding, bliss finding, Zen finding, peace work. I am a work in progress, and if you don’t count my first 38 years of life-which of course I do but not for this- then I have been acting for 13 weeks toward one single goal. Happiness. True unadulterated happiness. Not, gee things in my life are pretty good. Not wow I love my husband and I still think about kissing him when he gets home kind of happy; but pure blissed out, just doing what I do and I have a sense of peace and happiness while I’m doing it.

Let me explain. What I am searching for, what this blog and this 13 week journey has been about is finding the secret to overall happiness. Finding that balance between what life demands we do and what we want to do or feel compelled to do. I want my life to be lived intentionally. I do not want to be a slave to what the world think I should be doing or who others think I should be. I want to live my life exactly as I see fit, and be exactly who I want to be. With no apologies, no regrets. I want to choose happiness, the kind of happiness that is all pervasive and seeps so far into ever crevice of life that I can’t get away from it, and no matter how many terrible things happen, or shoes drop I am still whole and satisfied and strong as I keeping pressing forward propelled by the knowledge that I am happy, I am good.

photo 2

In the past 13 weeks I have been working on myself and my life. I have been researching happiness and peace in corners near and far, resources obvious and hidden. I have found value in the small minutia of life and insight from the grand and spectacular. I have even gained insight and knowledge into my intentional life from the sorrow of life and our culture, our politics, and country’s struggle.  It has felt good to discover that I am not alone. From the blogs of others I have haunted, to the wonderful readers who haunt me here, I have discovered that my quest for more is more common than I suspected, my efforts to find truth and blissfulness not a solitary effort. I have discovered there is strength in numbers and the moment I put myself out there, all my fears and trials, I was welcomed with open arms by a community of people who could relate, who could champion me on, who maybe, finally felt motivated to find their own intentional life and start making their own tough choices.

The goals of the last 13 weeks have varied from a series of letting go efforts- which to be honest were more difficult than I imagined and I had imagined them being near impossible- to identifying what I liked about me, what identifiers I want to work toward and how to truly just feel the moment of now instead of being terrified of the moment next. I have had great successes and I have had crying jags- thank you Children’s Hospital (you bastards). I have found a peace with my children, had tough and long over due confrontations with my husband- which I never do- and made hard decisions for our financial future that seem to have cost us family members we will miss. This journey has been hard, but I will tell you a secret, it has been SO worth it. I feel like I am finally on the road to living intentionally, that I am finally finding a balance between taking care of myself and taking care of others, that I am finally finding the ability to confront when necessary and let go of the things I cannot change. It has been a great ride, an eye-opening journey and I am just getting started. I hope you will continue to take this ride with me. I hope you will share it with friends or family who might be feeling the same kind of stuck, the same kind of always being a passenger of life and never the driver.

So on week 13, because I am lucky enough to avoid work for the whole week, my goal is to do whatever I want, even if that whatever is a whole lot of nothing. I will not make apologies for my actions. I will not be sorry I have taken this time for me and mine. I will laugh much, feed my soul, nourish my spirit and with any luck come back next week with renewed purpose and energy to put toward the next 13 weeks. Thanks for taking this ride with me. I’m honored and excited that you are here. You rock!

What I am reading: Promises to Keep by Jane Green. It makes me wish I had the kind of family that would be by my side in a crisis.

What else I am reading: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I’ve highlighted so much in this book I might as well just paint the thing yellow.

What I am listening to: By suggestion from Kerry- and I am so glad she did. I want to make out with this man’s voice. No seriously, I want to do things to his voice that I can’t talk about in public. Hey its okay by Antonio Lulic. Yummy.

Favorite Now Moment: My youngest son’s 2nd birthday. Watching a little boy run,  jump, laugh, and giggle without a care in the world. Finally acting well, finally appearing healed. My heart aches when I think of how far he has come. We have finally gone a whole three weeks without 1 single doctor appointment.  You go little man!

photo 1 (2)

Inspirations from the ether: 23 things every woman should stop doing, I bet you are doing at least 1. And I bet you’ll be happier if you stop.