Let Them Go- A Pep Talk for Parents

It’s the first day of the first week of September. Which, in many places, means kids have gone back to school for the first time this fall. For others, this is their first day of school ever.  Or their first day of high school, first day of college, first day of university or tech school.

In our house, this is the FIRST time in 17 years I have only one kid in secondary school. We are now  a household of 3 graduated kids. That really did come faster than I imagined it 20 years ago. The days are so so SO long when the kids are in school but the years start to fly by when they all hit junior high.

We are also rookie parents of a college kid.  Our 3rd born, the one who just graduated in June, is starting school in BC today. We are so excited for her and her journey. EXCITED, not nervous, not stressed, not sad, not lamenting the years that have flown by….just excited.

Listen moms(and dads), I get it. These precious ones are your babies. You nurtured them and held them when they were sick. But the day they were born you KNEW you’d have to let them go at some point.  You knew it because you’ve lived it yourself. No one wants to be their mama’s baby forever.  No one wants to be coddled and hovered over for life.  Our babies were born to live. And living means they HAVE to grow.

None of us are really living if we’re not growing.

So ya, I get it, your little muffin let go of your fingers today and ran straight through the doors of that brick and concrete building today and a part of you thinks you’re not ready. But you were BORN READY.  You can do this.

We had a couple of weeks to say goodbye to our daughter who we knew was going to drive herself through 3 provinces to a new city, new surroundings and new school.  But I wasn’t really prepared for the shock, sometimes horror that people shared with us when we told them our 18 year old daughter was going to drive by herself in her little car.  People couldn’t wrap their heads around how we could ” let her” do that.

Pardon me if I’m a little confused but didn’t we just invest 18 years of teaching, molding, encouraging and preparing her to do just that? We have always taught our kids to be self-confident; able to trouble shoot and make wise decisions. I’m so happy each of our 4 kids have oodles of confidence. We have done a lot of things wrong but we have managed to get that right. It didn’t occur to us that she couldn’t. It didn’t occur to her that she couldn’t. Was she nervous? A little. But she was mostly excited. On Friday, a few hours before I knew she needed to get to sleep so she was fresh on Saturday morning, I quietly asked her if she was scared to drive that whole way (1600km) by herself? She said she wasn’t. She said she just really wanted to get going. So I didn’t press the issue. If I would have- If I would have said ” it’s going to be scary”  or “you’ve never driven in the mountains- I don’t know if you can handle it” ….I would have been planting within her the seed of doubt. And we all know that one tiny seed of doubt will triple in size before you get your feet off the ground.

 

She drove herself. The first day was hard- she said mostly because it was so boring. The second day, the one we were all a little worried about, was easier because it was all new. All new, all beautiful, all exciting. She had to stay focused. She stopped when she needed to and let us know where she was. She paid attention to signs, didn’t fall  into the trap of speeding like so many others were. She let them pass her, drove what was comfortable for her and got to her destination before sunset. That was the goal. Yes, she did admit the last 3 hours were hard as the highway was difficult. But you know what? She did it!  My dad said that was the best thing for her. It’s the true pioneer spirit of our forefathers. You go, you do what you have to do and you don’t worry about the details.

Speaking of my dad, he was 15 when he left home. Took a bus and then a train to the far north to work hard, hard long days.  Very little to eat. He was FIFTEEN. No cell phones. No phone to call home. He wrote letters to his mom. He was homesick. He was so young. And it made him into a self-reliant, self-confident, trouble-shooting, capable, reliable adult.

I feel often that we as parents are holding our kids back from their natural, God-given abilities. They are meant to grow and thrive. When a baby begins to walk, they don’t worry about falling down…they keep going. When they are pre-schoolers who want to read they inquire and pretend until they begin to learn and develop a life-long skill of reading language. How marvelous and miraculous is that? It’s really amazing!

When we walk our little ones to the gate of the school on the first day, we willingly let them go into a classroom FULL OF STRANGERS for hours and hours every day and week! Guys! Think about this! We have been doing hard things as parents for all the years since that first pregnancy test came back positive! WE have been letting go.

We as parents are hard-wired to let go. It may not always be easy.  The first drive with a rookie driver is a little bit of white-knuckling, hold your tongue, try not to scream tension.But then, 3 weeks later we are sitting there on our phone scrolling through FB memes because our kid has this and we’re just a passenger.

Moms….let go. Have a coffee with a friend, go to the bookstore, go to the fabric store. Clean out that closet you don’t want the kids to see so they won’t know all the stuff of theirs you’re throwing out. Just go do something. Your kids are okay. They’re doing what they were born to do.  They’re living.

Mama birds don’t mess around- the baby birds get pushed right out of the nest and they’ll fall or they’ll fly. But they were born to fly so they will fly.

Your kids were born to run, to grow, to learn to live.  You’ve done your part. Now let them go.

Happy first day of school everyone.  I just blogged for the first time in 18 months. So basically….I’m winning on this first Tuesday of September.

 

 

Surviving a move with teens and tweens

Have you noticed the for sale signs going up in your neighborhood? It’s spring, and that means moving season.

In fact, it was exactly three years ago this week that we packed up and moved from Canada to The Woodlands, Texas. All of us, especially the kids, had mixed emotions about our big move. But, I really had no idea how difficult the transition was going to be.

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It all hit home the day my middle daughter had a complete meltdown walking home from school. We’d been here just a few weeks and the weather was already a sweltering 95 degrees (35 C). She dropped her backpack on the sidewalk, tore at the neck of her sweat-soaked shirt and shouted through tears, “I want to move back to Canada…where the weather is perfect!” Hahahaha…tell that to most Canadians!!

I hadn’t realized just how lonely she was feeling at school. She was missing her friends back home and didn’t feel like part of her new class. When all the kids were exchanging yearbooks, she didn’t have one. And, she wasn’t pictured in any of the year end slideshows. To a kid, that stuff matters.

It was a long, hot summer. Where was everybody?? No bikes, no soccer balls, no laughing children in the cul-de-sac. I finally figured out they were all seeking refuge in their air-conditioned homes!!

As my youngest happily cooled off in our backyard pool, my oldest started having mysterious stomach pains. Initially, I thought she’d come down with a stomach bug from the water park, but when it persisted for weeks, I finally took her to the doctor. There was no “official” diagnosis, but the doctor suggested she might be having anxiety related to the move, the loss of her social network and fear of starting a new school in the fall. Everything that was familiar to her…was gone.

She spent hours texting, Facetiming and Skyping friends back home, and I worried that maybe it was too much. Wasn’t it time to move on? For a while, it seemed like she was focusing on her old friends at the expense of making new ones. Was it a good idea for her to go back and visit, or bring her friends here? We tried everything, but only with time…and patience, did she find her new normal. I’m happy to say she still has close connections with her old friends thanks to social media.

It took a full year for The Woodlands to begin to feel like home and now we love it here. But seeing the for sale signs reminds me of all the change – good and bad – a family must go through when relocating. I’ve compiled a list of what I hope are helpful tips to ease the transition:

  • Talk to your children, stressing the positives of the move and the new location. It’s important to be honest with them, and acknowledge their fears, but always try to remain upbeat about the new experience. Your kids will feed off of your emotions.
  • Pre-move visit – it helps for kids to see where they are moving. Let them check out the neighborhood, local parks, etc. so they can visualize themselves in their new surroundings. Involve them in the house-hunting process, just be careful they don’t get their heart set on a house in case the real estate deal falls through.
  • Phone a friend – if possible, try to connect with other moms who are already living there. For me, the advice I received from the wife of my husband’s co-worker was invaluable. I find you will always get the “real deal” from other moms.
  • The internet is your friend – use it to research schools, doctors, dentists, dance studios, swim clubs, or hockey teams. It can sometimes be hard to find a doctor or pediatrician accepting new patients, so get on those lists early. Same goes for pre-schools and private schools. Once there, go for a visit and talk to the staff to make sure what you read on the internet is true.
  • Get documents in order – most schools require birth certificates (now you need the long-form version), vaccination records, transcripts and report cards. You may also need your marriage certificate and marriage license. It’s so much easier to gather this stuff ahead of time, rather than trying to track it down during the middle of packing and un-packing.
  • Be prepared for tutoring – moving to a different province, state or even school district may come with different standards and curriculum expectations. And that’s ok. Be open to any extra support or tutoring the school may recommend. It doesn’t mean your child is “behind”, it just means they are behind where this particular school district wants them to be.
  • Talk to your kids’ teachers ahead of time. Let them know a little about your child’s personality, and what he/she may need during those first few weeks. Also, ask if there is a “buddy” who could be paired with your child to show them around the school. My daughter is still good friends with the class ambassador who be-friended her on the first day.
  • Sign up for kids’ activities sooner, rather than later – getting kids involved early on can minimize their feelings of loss and loneliness. It’s a great place for them to meet new friends and gets them back to doing what they love
  • Be the host – it’s likely that for the first few months, you may have to be the host of play dates, outings and eventually sleepovers. You might even offer to host a neighbourhood or class party. No one knows your child, so what better way to break the ice?
  • Join something fun – give yourself permission to join a gym, book club, take dance lessons or volunteer. Try to get out and mingle. Not everyone handles change well and moving can be a trigger for depression; it’s important to stay active and engaged with others. After all, you need friends too!
  • Don’t feel guilty — expect that your kids will complain, but don’t let them make you feel guilty for “ruining their life.” They are kids, they will adjust, and it will be harder for teens than young ones. I honestly believe that moving teaches kids some great life skills – how to make friends, be easy-going and adapt to all of the curve balls life is going to throw at them.
  • Relationship TLC – moving is busy and stressful. The extent of conversation with your spouse may be limited to “Did the cable guy come yet?” and the ever so innocent…”Wow, those boxes aren’t unpacked yet??” Make time to just set all the moving stuff aside, pour yourselves a glass of wine and talk. If you can sneak a night out, then go for it, especially once you find a great babysitter.

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What a huge learning curve we all went through during that first year. Of course, there were so many great memories too – seeing my first magnolia tree, having our first Blue Bell ice cream (before the listeria outbreak, of course!) and meeting great neighbours who’ve become dear friends.

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Getting used to “y’all” took a little time. I’m still having trouble with “all y’all’s” as a plural possessive?! We drank a lot of “sweet tea” that summer and I quickly got up to speed on Tex Mex lingo. Now if I go to a potluck, I know what pico and queso are!

When moving, it’s so easy to focus on what you don’t have anymore, but in the end, you have all you need ~ each other!

Please comment below if you’d like to share your moving experience, or if you have any other advice for moms who are getting ready for this big transition.

I’d like to thank my friend and real estate agent Wendy Kelman for contributing to this post.

All The {GOOD} Moms Are Doing It

I am a product of the seventies. In fact, I’m so proud of the fact that I was born in the seventies when the devil-may-care attitude of parenting was triumphed above all others. Why? Because we were free. Freedom reigned in the seventies. Freedom to be, to live, to dwell, to drink, to eat, to act in whatever way we wanted. Without judgment or shame.

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Mommy shaming is so 2013, don’t ya think?  Social media has brought all of our mothering faults screaming to the forefront–to the point where we could all say we are *THE* worst mother ever. Don’t you feel that way?

When I grew up a birthday party consisted of the four food groups: Kool Aid(usually purple so that our face was stained for days), hot dogs(of no known meat origin), angel food cake(out of a box) with pink fluffy frosting and pop rocks. THAT was the epitome of birthday party success! No party bags for guests, no carefully crafted decorations or reserved party spaces. No, we ran and giggled and maybe played PintheTailontheDONKEY with REAL tacks!

*sigh*……the seventies were awesome.

No car seats. No seat belts. No helicopter parenting. No rules. Just a lot of love and joy.

I’ve done a lot of things in my parenting career that would likely have me jailed and my kids taken away. I’m not using hyperbole here. I’m dead serious. And I love my kids. I actually think I’m a GOOD mother. I have four kids who range from 14 to 20 and they’re all healthy and happy(well, as happy as teenagers can be at any given moment). But I did some stuff that, at the time, was what I felt was right in the moment but it would have been held to scrutiny and judgment. And I didn’t feel reckless or careless with my kids’ lives.

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But here we are in an age when it seems quite appropriate and expected to shame other parents into being as awesome as we are. Because clearly, *WE* are perfect and *THEY* are not so therefore *WE* must enlighten them to the error of their ways……or something like that.

Recently in our news there was a story of a mom in Winnipeg who was being charged with child abandonment for leaving her 6 year old home alone for 90 minutes. We can debate the appropriate age where children can be left alone for days but in every single case, the ONLY person who will be the best judge is the mom. Yes, there are moms who use poor judgment. Yes, there are bad moms. But you know what? The bad moms of the world likely measure up to less than 1% of all of the mothers who are just trying their best. They’re good moms.

I was babysitting at the age of 11. According to new laws that would be illegal. I was IN THE CARE OF SMALL CHILDREN at eleven years of age. Let that sink in.

My mom was a single mom. She would get someone to stay with us if she was going to be out for several hours the first year we moved into the city. She really didn’t need to. We were all quite capable and self sufficient. But in 1980, in **SCARY** Regina, SK she felt it necessary. We were 7, 9 and 10 years old. And for an hour or two we would have been fine. And we were.

My mom had to retrain herself and went to school in 1982.  She would take the bus everyday and we would walk to school. We would walk home at lunch and after school. ALONE. We cooked, cleaned, did our homework. ALONE. And we lived. Imagine that?! We lived. And we’re fine.

My mom would have been put in jail now.

The car seats we had when my babies were born were pretty basic. Two positions- up and down. Not much for adjusting the seat belts and no 3 point installation system. You didn’t need a book. Or a degree. Or a stop off at the local car seat inspection clinic. You put your baby in, and drove away.  If you post a pic on FB or Twitter now, of your baby in a car seat, there is more than a 78% chance that at least one  of your *mommy friends* will comment on how the harness is secured. It will be too tight, too loose, incorrect all together or they will be inboxing you suggesting you remove the photo in case social services is called. You know I’m right – remember the cute baby singing in her car seat and HALF THE COMMENTS were about her car seat being incorrectly installed???!!!

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I’m thankful for raising my babies in the FB free world where I actually nursed my babies IN A MOVING VEHICLE! *GASP*!

Don’t worry moms, your secrets are safe with me.

I know you leave your sleeping baby in the car while you go to the ATM.  I know you lock the doors and are well aware of the temperature inside and out.

I know you’re walking down the street to collect your wayward dog while your toddler plays in the living room. Unsupervised. I know.

I know you just spent 45 minutes weeding the garden while your preschoolers played with playdough, inside, in the kitchen, where there are knives and scary things. I know.

I know you’re having a bath while you’re reading this. And the door is closed. While your 3 preschoolers are watching a movie. I know.

I know that you’ve left a 3 year old unattended in the bath while you ran to make sure supper wasn’t burning. I know.

I know you’re considering leaving your 10 year old home with the 6 and 4 year old so you can run to the store. I know.

I know you’ve let too many kids jump on the trampoline while you watched one more episode of Downton Abbey before supper. I know.

I know that you’ve fed your kids Cheese Whiz and Cheetos and COKE all in the same day.  I know.

I know you’ve put ginger ale in your baby’s bottle because the puking all night is more than you can take and you just needed a break. I know.

I know you gave your baby Motrin last night even though she didn’t have a fever because you don’t know what else to do. I know.

I know you’re a good mom and you cry every day because you’re trying to do the right thing but someone always seems to be showing you up.

Stop.  Look at your kids. Do you love them? Do they love you? Do you make their favourite meal whenever you can just to see them smile? Do you sacrifice sleep and health and cleanliness just to keep the family ball rolling? You’re a good mom. And you’re in good company. Because *ALL* the good moms are doing it too.

Making our children STAAR students

Ok, just have to vent today about the STAAR tests being taken this week by students in Texas.

No, no, it’s not just “any other” test. The STAAR test is a phenomenon down in these parts.  And from what I can tell, not even Texans like it!!

It stands for the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness.  And it would be similar (though much harder, in my opinion) to the PAT (Provincial Achievement Tests) given to students in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada. A key difference here though, is that it is a pass or fail test, which means…if your child doesn’t pass the STAAR, they do not pass the grade.

The pressure being heaped upon our kids to perform is like something I’ve never seen before.

The school is a closed campus this week  – no visitors, no birthday treats, no outdoor recess for any grade. Testing is in progress. The children are also being asked to wear brain stimulating colors  – purple for Reading, blue for Math and green for Science. I’m serious.

We, as parents, as being persuaded to get up extra early (at my house anyway) and make a protein-packed breakfast…bacon and eggs anyone??  Yesterday, they told us to pack a “note of encouragement” in our kids’ lunch boxes! And this one prompted me to write this blog – I got a teacher text (which I normally enjoy) that said “May the Scores Be With You!” Ha, ha…Star Wars, I get it.

But that’s what it’s all about – the scores. I really like my children’s school and teachers, I have a lot of respect for them. But when it comes to STAAR testing, I get annoyed. Isn’t this test supposed to be a reflection of what they’ve learned throughout the year. If the teacher is doing her job, and my child is doing classwork, homework and studying all year long…won’t she do just fine?

I guess not! I did some research which found that educators have determined the STAAR tests are written in a language beyond the child’s grade level. So, even though they may understand the subject matter, they may not understand the question because of the language used. How sad.

I’m not fully up to speed on how the STAAR results and school funding are connected, but clearly there is a link. Each school is striving for the best test scores and the teachers too, as I’ve heard there are hirings and firings based on STAAR class results.

My daughter came home the other day and told me that she thinks she has Test Anxiety. Really, I ask, surprised of where she heard that term??  Then, she hands me a sheet the teacher gave out listing all the symptoms and ways to avoid test anxiety.  She did not sleep well last night –  she was up at least twice, upset that she could not fall asleep,  despite the fact her teacher told her she MUST get a good night’s rest.

Wow…I just don’t get it. I sent her out the door this morning  with a kiss, a hug, and said good luck because to me…the STAAR is just any other test.

Woodlands friends, I would love for you to share your knowledge and experience with STAAR testing. 

What Every Mother Needs to Know and Hear~I Struggle Too.

I didn’t live in the land of Facebook or e-mail when my kids were little. We didn’t even have a computer or internet for many of those early years. Motherhood was a solitary journey and I lived for the days a friend would call me up to ask how I was doing.

I also thrived on Mom’s Morning out at church or when one of us had an energetic boost and could invite the others over for playtime and coffee. These were the sanity breaks that my mind and soul craved. Not because I was so lonely(maybe I was a little) but more so for the comradeship of knowing that I was not alone in my struggles.   I loved walking into my friend’s house and seeing the crumbs on her floor , the laundry piled high, bedroom doors closed so the mess behind them wasn’t initially visible.  I wanted to see that her fridge was a mess and her beds weren’t made. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one.  It gave me a chance to catch my breath and say, “Hey, it’s okay~you’re not the only one.”

For many years having people over was a painful process. I felt like everything needed to be in it’s place and perfectly clean. I would wash mirrors, toilets, windows, floors, clean out the fridge, rearrange the furniture, hide away mounds of laundry under blankets and in closets and pretend to look pulled together. It was exhausting. And rarely did that happen without some yelling and crying. Mostly from me. The pressure to have it all together is immense. Especially from the generation before us.  Let’s face it, our mothers and fathers came from a time when “cleanliness is next to Godliness”( which incidentally is NOT in the Bible).  Any sign that you are a messy person was the equivalent of being spiritually undisciplined and unacceptable.  I succumbed to this pressure for many years and tortured my family in the process.

That was then.

I have learned after 21 years of marriage that the people with the perfectly clean houses fall into a couple of categories:

– either both parents work all week and the kids are at school/daycare all week so no one is there to LIVE IN the house.

-At least one parent is completely anal about cleanliness and is a perfectionist beyond my realm of knowledge

or – they don’t have half the junk we do and they live in a house where everything has a home so it’s very easy to keep clean.

 

I am none of these. We have moved a lot, we have rented in places where closets and cupboards were minimal at best.  I am not a disciplined housekeeper and perhaps that’s due to my overall physical strength and well-being most of the time.  And we tend to have the cheaper variety of department store furniture, shelving, storage which is barely sufficient to corral and organize everyone’s stuff.

It doesn’t really matter why, it just matters that it is.  I’m not the crazy, clean housewife. I would rather sit down with my husband after supper than do dishes.  I would rather sleep in on Saturday occasionally than jump on the laundry.  I would rather go visit a friend than wash floors.  There’s always something else I’d rather be doing.

But it is still a struggle and I do wish that I was THAT woman over there who always has the perfectly clean house,  with the perfectly organized kitchen and the perfectly perfect kids.   Scratch that.  I don’t want that.  I don’t want to be squeaky clean. I want to be real.

We’re not all cut out to be perfectly perfect housewives with high heels on , a pressed apron on our hips and dinner on the table at 5:35 pm exactly.  Some of us are the ones with no apron on, flour on our hips, splatters on our shirt, and cookies in the oven at 5:45 pm just starting to think about what we can scrounge together for supper.

Yesterday I tackled a mountain of laundry. Laundry is the bane of my existence. It always has been. When the kids were little my mom would come to visit and do laundry for 4 days straight. She rocks the laundry room. I just can’t. I get overwhelmed on load 3.  Yes my kids do their own laundry but there’s always seasonal, household and SOCKS that fall through the cracks and accumulate. Yesterday’s pile had a ridiculous amount of mismatched socks of every size and colour. There was also mitts and scarves in abundance from our all-too-long winter. And then blankets and sheets from sleepovers and towels from 3 bathrooms and 6 people. We just suck at getting it done all the time.  And so, here I was , faced with a room where the floor had not been seen in several months. It was brutal.   But I did it. I started in the morning, sorted, folded, moved out, sorted, washed, dried, folded, sorted….it’s a lot of work when kids are growing out of stuff faster than you can wash a load.

I’m terrible at laundry. And if I lied to you and told you that my kids are all well trained and have this craft down to a science you might think I’m a great teacher. But I’m not.  Half of them are really good and half of them are like me. 🙂  It’s okay, you know.  It’s okay that we’re not perfect.  Because I suspect that someone reading this right now struggles with laundry too. Or maybe dishes. Or maybe your floors get washed once a season or once a year. Or maybe you only vacuum when company comes.  It’s totally okay. I’m kind of over the shame and guilt that some throw on us because we’re not all Susie-Homemaker baking bread, cleaning out dust bunnies and polishing floors on a daily basis.  Shame and guilt have no place in conversations with other moms.  I only have solidarity and support.  If I can tackle 15 loads of laundry in one day, anyone can.  But if you can only do one load, sister, I am SO there with you.

The more we admit that we struggle, the more comfortable we make it for someone else to admit they’re not perfect either.  The lady who gets all her laundry done every day might be terrible at baking. Her poor , poor children never get a home made cookie~ Ever.  See?  No one is perfect at it all.

 

This is after I cleaned out the 10 loads that needed to be folded~not even kidding.
This is after I cleaned out the 10 loads that needed to be folded~not even kidding.
A portion of the pile before me to fold. *sigh*
A portion of the pile before me to fold. *sigh*

 

 

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Progress!

 

Oh and one more tip: if your mother, or mother-in-law or friend, or aunt, or nosy neighbour, or stranger on the sidewalk offers to come and do your laundry for you…..TAKE THE DEAL!!! 🙂

A Growing Intolerance for Children

Is it me, or are people in general becoming more intolerant of small children?  And not just small children, but moms with small children.

Perhaps it’s the *hide-behind-your-keyboard* syndrome of saying anything you want but I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter especially from people who clearly think children should NOT be seen and definitely NOT heard.

Now, I’m old school and I like it when parents have control of their kids.  I’m the mom who has walked out of a grocery store with a full cart ready for the cashier when all hell broke loose and the animals left their cages.  I have told my kids I won’t put up with temper tantrums and ridiculous outbursts in stores or restaurants. In fact, there was a season in our lives where we rarely went out to eat because I fully believe the other patrons have a right to eat their meals in relative peace.

However, recently there have been a rash of reports and stories of restaurants implementing adult-only dinner hours or even some that are exclusively adult only restaurants.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there but this is a trend that may not be all that family friendly. (which is probably the point)  Of course, businesses have a right to cater to whomever they wish. And I’m all for the market deciding who wins and who loses.

But what about walking in malls? Or grocery shopping on Saturdays when it’s busy?  Or perhaps even home shows and exhibit halls?  Should there be a ban on any child under 7? Should strollers be banned? This is some of the complaining that I am seeing and hearing about.  People who don’t have children are becoming more vocal about their dislike of little people *ruining* their days off. They don’t want to go to parks and hear a wailing toddler. They don’t want to go to Starbucks and stand in line behind a mom with a baby on her hip. They don’t want to enter the bookstore if there’s a mom with a stroller heading in right in front of them.  And I find it all a little baffling.

Since when did children become enemies?  Perhaps these anti-child Debby-Downers have forgotten that they too, were once children.  Perhaps they have failed to see that children are our future. Maybe they don’t realize that if Mama doesn’t get to go to  the bookstore today, she might be housebound and depressed all week. And maybe they’re completely oblivious to the fact that small children don’t grow up to be well-behaved older children and teens unless they are given the opportunities and the freedom to be in all the big-people restaurants, stores and events.  A child doesn’t just wake up at the age of 12 and know how to act in public. They are taught. They are allowed to fail and they are given grace to learn from their mistakes and outbursts.

The tone of the conversation I was a part of yesterday on Twitter took direct aim at parents with double wide strollers out in public. Specifically, a crowded exhibit hall on the weekend apparently was the site of such strollers with too many people and some put-out show goers.  Some of the comments were directly bashing a parent’s choice to go out with their two little children to a place where “the kids couldn’t possibly be having fun.” And the “selfishness” of parents to not consider a crowded aisle and how inconvenient it was for the browsers.  First of all, if you haven’t had 2 little kids under 3 and haven’t been out with them for more than an hour, you probably aren’t the best judge of what is convenient.  As for the concept that 2 parents want to spend time out together at a SPRING HOME SHOW on a weekend after one of the longest, snowiest, coldest winters ever and take their kids with them as being wrong is frustrating and frankly, offensive. I remember a time when I had my first 2 (13 months apart) and they LOVED going out just to look at people and get a change of scenery. We didn’t have family where we lived and we couldn’t afford a sitter. And truthfully, we wanted to spend time with our kids out and about together. With Daddy working all week and me housebound, these were rare, fun occasions. We didn’t do it all the time. We didn’t assume we could go anywhere with our kids. We usually chose the roomy sidewalks of a park, a big mall or large department stores.  If an exhibit hall or showcase or event wants to limit the size of strollers or even ban them, I’m actually fine with that.  But if they haven’t, step aside. Mama is a-comin’.

I’m sure there are small strollers that are relatively cheap. I’m sure there are double income families who can afford 2 or 3 strollers.  We were not that family. Our stroller was a gift. And I used it through 4 children.Our first 2 were 13 months apart, then 2.5 years between #2 and #3 so we used it again. And then my last 2 were 20 months apart.   It was well worn out by the time I retired it.  We didn’t have family who could look after our kids whenever we wanted to go out and even if we did, I would still not dump my kids off every time I left the house.  I loved our double stroller and so did our kids. I could reach them both while still pushing(as opposed to a tandem where you simply can’t reach the front).

I’m all for a quiet dinner out. But I always give the mom and dad with toddlers  in the booth next to us a knowing smile and the encouragement they need to understand they’re not alone and “this too shall pass.”  Babies and toddlers grow up so fast and no, I don’t think they or we are entitled to go everywhere and do everything. I believe there is a time and a place for outings and most of the time, little ones are happier at home. However, to extract one incident and blow it up into a *double strollers should be banned or left for the dog park* philosophy is overkill and unfair to moms who simply want to have a day out with their family.

You know what’s annoying? The fact that I have pics of my kids in our fantastic double stroller and I can’t find a single one today! So here’s one off the ‘net which is identical to the one we had(except ours was circa 1996 with a brighter blue).  

Tell me-does this look like a threat to the peace and well-being of an afternoon stroll? I didn’t think so!

Lesson #1: Breathe {from Darlene}

So now I’m thinking about interesting memories in Adventures in Motherhood.

My lesson on “Get The Facts First, Panic If Required Later” involves my daughter Laura, who just made it under the wire for turning 5 and attending Kindergarten.  Her birthday is late December, so she was the youngest in her class.  I was endlessly worried about those Big Bad Boys Who Turned Five In January who might bully or influence my precious little one. Continue reading