Tag Archives: mom

What a Mom Should Do at a Park–An Official Guide

Standard

I was wasting time on Facebook the other day and saw a blog post with lots of comments. I think it was called, “To that mom on her cell phone at the park,” or something like that. The writer proceeded to bash this unknowing mother for her lack of parenting finesse. How dare she go to the park and then text her friends, ignoring her children? Didn’t she know how fleeting childhood is? Blah, blah, blah.

I couldn’t help but wonder about the mom who’d written the post. Didn’t she have better things to do than judge other moms? Like, play with her own kids, for example? There’s this thing called karma–what goes around comes around, and I hope that hostile soul wasn’t trying to validate her insecurities about motherhood, or something psychological like that.

I’d guess that the poor cell phone mom, unaware that she was being slandered across the world online, had had a rough day. Maybe she’d taken her kids to the park as a last-ditch attempt at sanity, relieved for a five-minute break. Maybe she’d been waiting all day for an email from her deployed husband in Iraq, and wanted a little peace to read it alone for once. Or perhaps she was newly pregnant and morning (afternoon and evening) sick, and the park was the only place her kids could be entertained while she sat down to rest. Who knows? Even if she was texting her friends–does it really matter?

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s self-righteousness. And I’m beginning to think all of us moms are guilty to some extent.

Guys are so different from girls. Go to a gym and watch men lifting weights, and I guarantee you’ll laugh. Girls at the gym look at other girls in disdain, sizing up their competition and wishing they were skinnier (or bigger-breasted, or blonder, or tanner). Guys just grin at themselves in the mirror and admire their own muscles. They don’t care about the guy a few feet away doing the same thing. Men don’t have to shove others down so they feel better about themselves (usually). They just live their lives. Dads don’t look down at other fathers at the park, whispering to themselves, “I’m so much better than him, because he only brought a frisbee. I brought my entire garage’s worth of balls and bats. I should write a Facebook post about this. Hello, Father of the Year!”

The other day, I had a conversation with some girl friends and discovered something. Every single mom had a different opinion about what to do at a park. One said that was the only time she had to catch up on emails and texts. I said I was more likely to make a fool out of myself chasing my kids around, pretending to be a crocodile. Another woman chuckled and said she liked to sit on the bench and make fun of moms like me, and still another said that she wished she could play with her kids, but she usually ended up on the bench in an exhausted slump. So which was the better mother?

IT DOESN’T MATTER. We’re all great mothers, and we all love our children. How do I know? Because we all take our kids to the park! If we weren’t good parents, we’d lock our kids in a dark basement instead. We use different methods and have differing opinions, and that’s fine. Rather than looking down our noses at each other, or wishing we were more like other moms, why not sit by another mom on the park bench and ask her how old her toddler is? Or allow other moms’ kids to join us in our crocodile game so other moms can have a break (and make fun of us to their friends as they text)? Why can’t we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down? Being a mom is hard. It’s teeth-gritting, hair-pulling, never-ending diet hard. It’s difficult enough without people judging every move we make. Especially at a community park, for goodness sake.

I, for one, pledge to reject the feminine sense of competition. I will strive to never again judge the child-ignoring mom at the park (with the exception of the ones who pretend not to notice when their kids are being dangerous bullies–that bugs me to no end. But anyway). Instead, I will reach out and lift others. I’ll teach my kids that being nice and making friends doesn’t end when they leave elementary school, and even a tired (exhausted) mom can make a difference in someone’s life. Who knows? Maybe someday, when I’m that half-awake woman sprawled out on the bench, someone will return the favor for me.

Gotta love karma.

15 Simple Summer Ideas Your Kids Will Love–At HOME

Standard

 

My kids are counting down the HOURS until school is over. They’ve already given me their wish lists (demand lists?) of activities and places to visit. That, in addition to Pinterest boards full of fun activities and crafts and science projects and summer reading and weekly schedules, just makes me feel overwhelmed. Is it September yet?

I’m trying to be a good mom here. Really. But I can’t help thinking about my childhood. Summers seemed to last forever then. If we did anything fancy it was a special treat–but mostly, I was just happy to be out of school and free to run wild with my friends. It was the simple life, and I loved it.

It’s sooo not that way anymore. When did this change? When did we start scheduling weekly itineraries with fancy and expensive activities for every single freaking day of the summer? I may be the only one, but I think a simple summer is best: slow-paced, fun, and low-cost. 

Here’s a list of fifteen simple summer activities that your kids will LOVE–and they can be done at home, basically for free, and barely take any effort. You’re welcome. 

1) Movie night–outside, complete with popcorn and sleeping bags.

2) Have a bubble fight.

3) Challenge the neighbors to a water fight.

4) Play tag, hopscotch, or your favorite childhood game.

5) Camp out in the backyard.

6) Watch the sun set and the stars appear.

7) Run a lemonade stand.

8) Grill corn on the cob–BBQ style.

9) Have a picnic on the grass.

10) Make your own popsicles. Yummy.

11) Toss a Frisbee or a baseball.

12) Have a reading marathon under a tree.

13) Running in the sprinklers/slip-n-slide/playing in the hose.

14) Invite friends for a BBQ.

15) Ride bicycles. Like, all day.

Have a fun simple summer idea to share? Please comment below. Thanks for reading, and good luck with the kids this summer!

5 Reasons Books Make the Best Gifts

Standard

1) Books are cheap–I mean, um, inexpensive.

According to a recent Offers.com poll, 52% of shoppers will spend $40 or less on their moms this year. Books don’t cost much, but they also offer hours of entertainment. Neil Gaiman said, “They have whole worlds inside them, and it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” Enough said.

2) A book lasts forever–it’s not an object, but an experience.

Books can teach, entertain, fill time, stimulate the mind, and help you escape. They can go with you anywhere. In the above-mentioned poll, 43% of women said they wanted something “sentimental” this year. Why not a cute photo album? Or if you don’t have the time for that, the newest novel from her favorite author? A travel book about her favorite vacation spot? A cookbook from her favorite country? Personally, I think if you’re going to give her a book, give her a box of chocolates or flowers or even slippers to go with it. Ahh. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

3) You can find a book for the woman who has everything.

There’s no such thing as too many books. A heavy packed bookshelf is just called a library. Other than those cheap “personalized” photo gifts and key chains with the name “Mom” on them (sarcastic sigh), books are truly personal. They never come in the wrong color, size or style. A book shows Mom that you took the time to think about who she is and what she is interested in.

4) Books are DANG convenient.

They don’t make noise. They don’t ding or light up, and they build brain cells instead of depleting them. Think anti-tech in a world of high-tech. They’re also easy to ship–perfect fit for packages and relatively light to send as gifts for faraway friends and family. And the best part is, you don’t have to feed them, plug them in, or put batteries in them. They just sit there until you’re ready to lose yourself in their pages again. 

5) Books = Relaxation.

Trust me. This is what moms want more than anything. Give her an afternoon off with a brand new book, and she will kiss your feet when she’s done. (Well, you know what I mean.) DVDs that you don’t like and shoes that don’t fit are nice, but seriously–give her some time to herself. Every mom can use a little peace and quiet, and by giving her a book, that’s exactly what you’re offering. So make sure you follow through. That alone will definitely make it her best Mother’s Day yet.

Give your mom some laughs and some peace with my new book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. Check it out: http://www.AuthorRebeccaRode.com. Thanks for reading!

*Some of these ideas came from other blogs, so I’m posting the links here. http://blog.timesunion.com/savings/mothers-day-poll-most-popular-gifts-and-spending-trends/2118/ 

http://www.examiner.com/article/why-books-make-the-best-gifts)

http://simonreads.ca/2011/11/30/ten-reasons-why-books-make-the-best-gifts-well-after-puppies-and-private-islands/)

(http://momstown-moments.momstown.ca/node/551)

Is Motherhood a Sacrifice?

Standard

Do you feel like you sacrificed your dreams to be a mom? I’ve heard so many moms say that. They complain, “I have to hire a babysitter just to go see a movie,” or “I really need a vacation. But with four kids, we barely have enough money for groceries.” It’s a complaint that most of us can relate to–and frankly, I’ve been known to say things like this a time or two (or three hundred). 

When I was in college, I wanted to be a writer. I’ve dreamed about writing that great American novel someday, about going on a book tour and signing my name with a smile onto thick, freshly pressed pages. In fact, when I prepared to graduate from college without a marriage prospect in sight, I figured graduate school in creative writing or journalism would be my thing. I was determined to make my dream come true.

But then I found out about an internship in Romania, working in orphanages. It piqued my interest like nothing else had before. I applied, was accepted, and soon found myself thousands of miles away from laundry dryers, dishwashers, and real American cheeseburgers. “My kids” ended up being the orphans that Romanians wanted to forget about–the severely disabled and disfigured ones. I threw myself into their care, trying to play, tickle, and laugh with them; anything to get a reaction. Over a period of months, these children became mine. I knew every facial expression, every gurgling giggle, every millimeter of improvement they gave, and it didn’t take long before I realized something. If this was what it felt like to be a mom, there was nothing I wanted more. Writing was fulfilling, but it didn’t feel like this. It was that love, that incredible concern and sacrifice for nine abandoned kids–the thousands of miles and dollars and hours–just to see a palsy-stricken six year-old laugh for the first time. It was worth it, times ten. No question. 

When I came home, I brought with me a new dream. That dream came true sooner than expected. Within two years, I had a wonderful husband and a baby girl. She was followed by two adorable and active boys. Several years later, as a busy mom of three, I was feeling overwhelmed and mourning the loss of my freedom as a person–until I remembered my experience in Romania. 

I sat down to write about it, and then I couldn’t stop. I showed the first chapter to a publisher, just to see what she thought, and the rest is history. Now I have a book, called How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. It was just released two weeks ago.

I didn’t know as a young intern that I could have two dreams. Being a mom and being an author seemed conflicting at first, but now I know that they only enhanced and enriched each other.  My writing has more depth and experience than ever, and I’m a better mom now that I’ve found a voice. My daughter even sits next to me sometimes, writing her own” book.” I think she has a wonderful future. 

Now, when I’m tempted to complain about babysitting costs, I think about “my” orphans across the ocean, and I have to smile. Motherhood is a sacrifice, it’s true. But in the process of giving things up, I found who I really was. Image

What’s your dream, and did you have to give it up to become a mom? Please leave a comment to share.

The Insecurity of Imperfection–Do you do this too?

Standard

Image

I had somewhat of an “out of body” experience last week. On Friday, my husband came home from work and complimented me on how clean the house was. Sweet, right? But then something really strange happened. I knew it was true, that the house looked great. And my brain also knew that I had worked really hard to make it that way. But for some reason, my “yeah, but” syndrome took over. My quick response was, “Thanks, but I didn’t get the laundry finished. I’ll have to fold it tonight.”

My poor husband’s smile froze on his face before I realized what I’d just done. My “yeah, but” had been a compliment-killing reply, something that grabbed hold of a sweet, well-meaning comment and tossed it into the trash. 

Does this sound familiar? When someone gives you a compliment, do you believe it and thank them for their kindness? Or do you instantly think about the ways that compliment isn’t true? I can think of a dozen examples–like when someone said I looked nice that day, and I instantly thought about the giant zit on my cheek. Or the time when my son’s teacher said I was a good mother because I read with him so often. Was it a hint, a sly way to slip in a recommendation? Or had she truly, honestly meant to give a compliment?

For some reason, this has been on my mind a lot today. Perhaps my “yeah, but” syndrome isn’t humility, but insecurity. Maybe it’s the result of being an oldest child, a people-pleaser, or just the fact that I’m a mom and worry about everything.

I remember comparing myself to the top students of my high school classes, wondering how to get better scores next time–forgetting that I was in the top 5% of the class already. There were times when I started things–track, soccer, music lessons, art, and writing–but quit when the road ahead started to look too rocky and difficult. If my performance wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth trying. Has some of that insecurity leaked into my adulthood?

Or is the “yeah, but” syndrome something more, a habit so ingrained in my personality that it will take a lifetime to pick apart?

It’s taken motherhood to teach me that, no matter how well-put-together my children look, or how clean their rooms are, there will always be imperfections. If I’m going to overcome the insecurity of imperfection, maybe now is the time–before it leaks into my children’s lives as well. When my friends go out of their way to pay me a compliment, perhaps my response shouldn’t really be about me at all. Perhaps it should really be about them–about making them feel that their kindness was received graciously.

This Friday, I will probably deep clean the house again. And, if I know my husband, he will try to give another compliment. I pledge to believe that, yes, the house does look fantastic. I pledge to forget about the things I couldn’t quite get to, and I also pledge to thank him for his sweet words. 

And if I’m really brave, maybe I’ll save the laundry for another day.

Have a comment? Please share! And subscribe if you feel so inclined. 🙂