Thursday, May 25, 2017

Judgment Judgment Everywhere and Nary a Drop of Truth

I've been wanting, for some time, to write a post that sort of brings together various articles I've read and insights I've had related to the stress that comes from being a mother in this modern era.

It boils down to one simple fact: In today's modern parenthood there is no truth, only judgment. 

Every single day there are at least two articles on my Facebook, Blogger, or Yahoo feed that contradict each other so fundamentally that, frankly, I am not sure how anyone could possibly know how to parent. So every day I am reminded how very extremely critically important my job is as a mother and how none of it actually matters at all. It's so important to set boundaries. But don't say "no!" And make sure you let them fail. Safely, of course, in small ways before they reach high school, and making exceptions for necessary interventions.

"I think when you use the word 'fail,' you alienate a lot of people," said children's television host Miss Lori, a mom of three. "I believe in allowing my children to stumble." Teaching them how to get up again is enormously important, said the social media strategist and contributor. "But fail, not so much, especially in school. Our education system is already failing them in most cities. Their school résumé is too important, and they have too few years to amass it."

Oh, I thought if you don't let them fail it's because you have issues with anxiety and control. If they're sick, mentally ill, overweight, or stressed, you're not doing your job right. Maybe it's because you've provided them too many toys, activities, choices, and information. You can't let them out of your sight, ever!  Besides, time with them is the most important way you show your love. But don't helicopter them! And here's a great article about how the best way a parent can prevent bullying is to teach their kids to defend themselves rather than relying on school or parental authority, except that you must also teach them that it's NOT OKAY to EVER use violence in any way against anyone for any reason.

“Responding physically to physical attacks is not the right first response,” she told TODAY Parents. “However, ... we cannot allow children to become victimized. If a child tries a verbal deflection and is met with physical threats, he or she needs to know that they have the right to defend themselves physically.” “One possible consequence is that physically defending yourself against an attack might lead to a fight. Your child might lose that fight. They may get hurt. The attacker may get hurt. The teachers, mentors or adults in charge, may get involved. Your child might get sanctioned for fighting,” he wrote.
How's that for the perfect illustration of a lose/lose situation? You have the right to defend yourself, but doing so will probably lead to sanctions and adults getting involved, but at least the bullying will stop...except probably not because the whole point of the article is that adult involvement doesn't effectively stop bullying or teach children how to respond to bullying behaviors!

Not that I need the internet to be shown my failures. Every time I lose my temper, each well-meaning "observation" from family members, all the hundreds of times per day the kids fight with each other, talk back to me, whine, complain, act selfishly, lie, break something, or eat a bunch of candy, convinces me that my parenting is abysmal and I am raising the next generation of entitled brats, and hence, that my entire life's purpose is worse than useless.

Yes, I know, this is a sign of depression. From this article, about the stress to be "perfect": "When you have depression, it's about constantly battling the negative thoughts and constantly battling the comparison. And it's so tiring." Someone who doesn't battle this disease will simply advise me not to care about other people, not to listen to any voice but my own. The problem is, I don't trust my own voice or my own perspective.

Love this post from Bunmi Laditan
How To Be A Mom in 2017: Make sure your children's academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two year apart for proper development also don't forget the coconut oil.
How To Be A Mom In Literally Every Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.
(This is why we're crazy.)

Here's a question I'd like answered: "How do we get past this?"

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring Break

We took a great trip to Glenwood Springs for Spring Break. This is our third year going as a family, and the first year I actually got to ride the alpine coaster seeing as I was not needed to hold a baby up at the top. I won't lie, I was pretty nervous the first ride down, but it's awesome!!

Image result for chips and salsa meme
We left on Sunday just before noon and ate lunch that I packed for each kid in the car. I told them they could have a pop with dinner if they finished their lunch bags, and each of them did. I love the drive through the mountains, past all the different colored strata and across the Vail Pass. The weather was nice in Glenwood so we went right to the hot springs for a couple hours, then grabbed dinner at our favorite Mexican place in town. What is it that's so good about Mexican? It's the corn, right? The corn and the cheese? Yeah. That's just such an awesome combination. We stuffed ourselves with chips and salsa while trading Chips and Salsa memes. My favorite:

We stayed at the Hotel Glenwood Springs, at the base of the Adventure Park, and I have to say, it's what makes the vacation.
Yes, the hot springs are awesome. Yes, the Adventure Park, too. But if we stayed at a regular hotel the kids would not clamor to go back again next year. This hotel is totally awesome. They have their own pool and hot tub, with a zero depth entry, fountain, and baby slide for the littles, as well as a bball hoop, lazy river, and HUGE twirly slide for bigger kids. We spent SO MUCH TIME at this pool. Dan camped out at the base of the slide, quite literally playing the role of the Catcher in the Rye (except he was waist deep in water instead of rye) and caught the non-swimmers as they came shooting down the slide. My eldest had a great time playing HORSE with anyone nearby, attempting ridiculous and dangerous shots from In The Hot Tub! On The Steps! At The Opposite End of The Pool! Behind the Hoop! etc. We stayed three nights and on the last night they gave us a complimentary large pizza cooked by their pizza bar in the lobby, and a board game.

The pizza tasted good. It wasn't a true crust, just a Boboli type that's already cooked and they top it and broil it up so it's all melty. But the kids loved it and, did I mention, it was FREE? I thought it was such a nice touch that they threw that in for our stay. Also, they have a game room in the basement with Wii (Mario carts), a blackboard and chalk, bean bags, foosball table, and a little craft center with coloring books and crayons. We were down there quite a bit, and all the kids like having their own little room where they could hang out.

I decided ahead of time to spring for the kitchenette suite at the hotel and I'm thrilled with that option. We were able to eat something I cooked half the meals, and it also made breakfast much more pleasant. Their breafast is good: waffles, yogurt, cereal, juices, coffes and tea, fruit, hard boiled eggs, and toast/bagels/donuts. But I can't have hard boiled eggs, and the kids don't like them, so that left us without a protein option for breakfast. Also, the girls are dairy free. So I was able to bring my paleo sausage breakfast hash (loosely based on this recipe but adjusted to my FODMAP sensitivities) to heat up for myself, and have almond milk in the fridge for the girls to put in their cereal, and we were happy as clams. Other meals included fried rice, which I made by sauteing a chicken breast on the stove top and mixing it with chopped snap peas and carrots, then adding soy sauce and pre-cooked rice I'd prepared before we left. For two of the lunches I made sandwiches for the kids and served them with cut carrots and potato chips, and for Dan and I rolled roasted vegetables (prepared before we left) with cream cheese in a tortilla.

 We had spent all day Monday at the Adventure Park, going down the alpine slide a million times, playing laser tag (Meia got scared but the older kids had fun,) touring the caves, and watching 4D movies (yep, you wear 3-D glasses to watch a film, and the chairs move and shake, and it sprays you with mist for a full sensory experience.) The gondola ride to the top of the mountain is always fun, although the line to get on the gondola is less so. We waited an entire hour, and we were one of the early ones because all we had to do was walk out of our hotel after breakfast. My boys found a fiberglass stake while we were in line and started dueling with it, only to find that the fiberglass wasn't stable. They ended up with tiny shards embedded in their hands. I raced back up to the room to get my tweezers, but even so they were in pain until we got to the top and asked the gift shop lady for some tape. That helped a bit more (my youngest stopped holding his hand at his side and began to actually use it again after the tape) but I don't think they were totally free until they went back to the pool that afternoon. We got some great pictures of the boys in the Squeeze Box, and the weather was perfect.

Tuesday the weather wasn't great. But I knew that was predicted from checking the weather a week before, and I'd brought some movies. We watched Adventures in Babysitting (which is dirtier than I remember it and I'm hoping the kids were as baffled by some of those references as I was back in the day) Groundhog Day (which I had to keep assuring them was going to be awesome because it starts pretty slow) and the new Ghostbusters (which had me dying of laughter. Chris Hemsworth dancing at the end is so great!) As I've mentioned, there was enough in the hotel to keep the kids occupied, so we didn't have to brave the cold.

All the kids were sad when we had to leave; we spent the maximum amount of time in the pool as possible and then went to the park to picnic and walk along the river before finally getting into the car around 2 pm to head home. We stopped on the way back in Frisco for coffee/hot chocolates and treats and were back home by dinnertime. All in all, we had a wonderful time. Kids got along except for a couple incidents which is to be expected and didn't ruin anything. We're planning to do it again next year!