Monday, May 13, 2013

Post Mother's Day Post

Dear Diary,

It is the Monday after Mother's Day.

The day when -- after a blessed day off -- mothers everywhere get back to
loading dishwashers,
making dinner,
changing diapers,
folding laundry,
and eating breakfast at the kitchen counter (or over the sink) instead of in bed.

In church yesterday (btw, I like having Mother's Day on Sunday.  Church is a good place to be on this day.) I confirmed something that I had only suspected was true.  I just needed to know I wasn't the only one who does this.  Now I know.

The two pews in front of me were occupied by mostly women of childbearing age and beyond, along with a baby or two thrown in.  A generous new mommy was "baby sharing" and allowing her little one to be passed into the eager hands of the women around her.
And then, half-way through the service, I saw it. 
One woman in the bunch, who wasn't holding a baby at the time, was doing something she didn't even know she was doing. 

The phantom baby sway.

That natural movement females adapt when within the vicinity of a child under two years of age.  Not actually holding a child, mind you.  Just standing alone, swaying those hips as if to lull the phantom child on them to complacency.
I think it is a pheromone thing. I don't know.

I have caught myself doing it. 
In the middle of a prayer I suddenly become self aware. Why am I swaying?  I peek through my reverently closed lids.  Oh, there is an infant two pews up that has been detected by my mommy radar.  Say no more.

(OK, stop judging me for thinking this during prayer time.  It happens.)

At the time I didn't know if this baby swaying behavior with no baby on board was normal behavior.  I sure stopped as soon as I caught myself.  Am I the only one who does this? I must look silly!

So I felt validated yesterday, when I spotted this woman doing the baby sway with no baby at hand.  Aha!  I am not the only one!   It's natural!  God must have just built that little quirk into our extremely complicated female physiology.

I am not advocating peeking around church during prayer or confession time.  But the next time I see a woman doing the phantom baby sway, I will thank God for giving us people who have a knack for mothering.

And for goodness sake, I will tell her to stop swaying.  She looks silly.

Happy belated Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

1-2-3's of Parenting; A Lesson in Bravery

Dear Diary,
I recently read a post, written by a wonderful friend, on the topic of Bravery.  Her topic got me thinking about how brave acts aren't just those extreme antics in which I rarely participate (does my Extreme Vacation count?), but they can also be found in daily occurrences.

Scheduling the dreaded mammogram,  talking with your child's teacher about problems at school, sticking up for a friend or coworker, sending out job applications, riding in the car with a 15-year-old at the wheel, and disciplining your children, are just a few of these daily acts of bravery. 

Over the years I have been asked about (and/or complimented on) my childrens' behavior.  Educators, family and friends, church acquaintances, and even strangers at restaurants would say, "My, your girls are well behaved.  My kids would be all over the place."

I don't like to preach, but today I am stepping out in bravery to do so.  (Or perhaps this could be viewed as a little motherly advice, which so often unwittingly sounds like preaching, doesn't it?) 

My kids are older now, with my youngest at age 10.  These things were more relevant in my household when they were little: toddler through early primary grades, the "formative years." 

So if you are in a place where you could use my parenting advice, be brave and continue reading. Otherwise, skip to the Wrap Up!

There are two things that were key to my well-behaved children.

First, when a child was exhibiting inappropriate behavior, I expected them to respond to my command the first time I asked. 

"Daughter, stop jumping on the couch." 

If the child continued, I might ask a second time (with a middle name thrown in for emphasis), but no more. 

I set high expectations for my girls:  good grades, respect for others, obedience.  It takes a special kid to be motivated to behave above and beyond any low expectations that was set for him/her.  That's why my expectations are high.

I have a little confession.  The use of what I call the "1-2-3 Method" drives me a teensy bit crazy.  You know what I mean by the 1-2-3 Method -- where an adult gives a child time to decide whether or not to obey by counting to three (or five or ten).

If a parent resorts to cajoling a disobedient child, and then ends up using the 1-2-3 Method, who is really in control? I am no Lehman or Freud, but it doesn't take an appearance on Dr. Oz to figure out the answer.

I have two premises to this advice.  I assume the child can 1) hear me and 2) understand the language I am speaking. 

Repeating oneself, coaxing, and giving them time, is well, giving the child control.  I have even worked with hard of hearing children and even they can understand a command (in their language) the first time! 

It takes bravery to follow through on the consequences when a child doesn't listen the first time.  I will leave that aspect up to you. But as was the case in our home, it has payoff.  Big time.  To the point where even strangers notice.

There may be parents who say, well that may have worked for you but that won't work for us. To them I say, feel free to share what is working for you!  I'm sure there are parents out there who find the 1-2-3 Method "works" for them. I am not writing to change your ways.  Just stating what worked for me.

The second key is an easier one.
Transitions can be hard for kids.  To go from one activity to the next with no warning might make a child rebel (tantrum, whine, argue).  Many parents transition their kids, and I am all about that.  Give a child a warning that in  ___  minutes we will (be going to the store, finishing with TV, going to bed) or whatever.  Then stick to it and don't let them sucker you into "just a few more minutes," at least not regularly!

Wrap Up
It takes bravery to be a good parent.

But brave acts of any kind can result in appreciating life on a whole new level.

What are your everyday acts of bravery?

Courageously yours,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Thing's the Thing

Dear Diary,
I am wondering what is happening to the brain cells of my family members.  Are they vanishing because we are nearing the end of the school year, the finish line looming before us, waiting to be crossed at break-neck speed -- except we checked our brains out at the last mile marker?

For example, I recently overheard a statement from daughter #2 the other day that went something like this:  "You need to get the thingy-thing and put it over there on the thing."  (To which daughter #3 would say, "I know, right?")

OK, that's cute the first time.
But saying "the thingy" or "the thingy-thing" is becoming the thing in her normal conversation.

A couple of asides:
1.  I actually understand what she means most of the time, and
2.  Hearing it several times a week has inspired me to change my "What?" to "Whaty-what?"  At least that's what the voice in my head wants to say.

I will use the phrase "totes adorbs" just to give my girls a reason to roll their eyes at me, but otherwise I try to use my middle-age brain cells to form a cohesive sentence most of the time.

However, some of the phonetic faux pas stories I have told my daughters over the years are coming back to bite me.  Recently, when sitting down to dinner, daughter #1 reminded me of one such story from when I was her age.  Her three-word statement was a dig at my story of mistaking the word ravishing for ravenous, which, at the time, made for quite the brouhaha when I announced exuberantly to the family at the dinner table, "I'm sooo ravishing!"

These are the things our families don't let us live down.  Even, apparently, after you have started your own.

OK, so I've migrated a little off topic, but just know that as the days get warmer and the count to the final day of school gets smaller, the brain cells in our household become neglected, which, I guess, is our way of preparing our minds and bodies for the lazy days of summer.

When all nouns get replaced by a creative form of the word "thing."

Linguistically yours,