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Mothers' Hideaway: June 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Girl I Used to Be

 She came tonight as I sat alone...
The girl I used to be...
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully:

Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes I had for you?
The great career, the splendid fame,
all the wonderful things to do?

Where is the mansion of stately height
With all its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me...
This slender girl from the shadowy past
The girl that I used to be.
So gently rising, I took her hand
And guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay
Innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robes is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw the woman that I am now
Pleased the girl I used to be.

I read this poem today. It perfectly fits my mood lately, because I've been mourning the old me. I have a younger single childless sister that I slightly envy. She's beautiful, carefree, career driven, and free to do whatever it is her heart desires. I miss being able to do what I wanted when I wanted. I miss having the body that, while I had my fair share of issues with, I didn't mind having the lights on (if you know what I mean). I miss working at a job and having glowing reviews. I miss teaching. I miss having time for myself. I miss looking good and made up. I miss my high heels. I miss my short skirts. I miss looking good and looking like it didn't take much effort. I miss my confidence. I miss my ambitions. I miss my dreams. I miss my future.

I miss the girl I used to be.

Don't get me wrong. Just like many of you, I love my family and my life now. That doesn't mean I don't have the right to mourn what used to be. Maybe not mourn...maybe daydream about the past. My husband and I have been talking a lot about "back then". Back when we first met. I was 20, he was 25. We were sure of who we were. We knew what we were capable of doing. We didn't have a care in the world beyond the today. Yeah we were finishing with school and entering the "real world", but really...we thought we were hot stuff. We thought we were invincible. We were carefree. Then we grew up and reality hit us like the heat on a humid day when you step outside.

Over the past eight years I've gone from that carefree girl to a woman with lupus; who has had to learn a new pace of living; who has moved to another state 1000s of miles from home to be with the love of her life; who has had to leave the job she loved because her body just couldn't keep up; who has carried and birthed two beautiful boys; who has suddenly gone from motivated, energetic, inspiring teacher to a worn out, disheveled, housewife and mom, who hasn't had her body for herself for 3 years;  who hasn't looked like the girl she remembers in just as long (wow, just saying it all makes me winded!).

Is there a way to meld the two worlds? The carefree, self-attentive girl with the sleep deprived, selfless woman? I don't know and I have yet to learn how to do it. The irony of it all is that this woman, this person that I barely recognize, is really who I always wanted to become. I wanted to be a mom at home with my kids. I just didn't want to lose me in the process. People tell me that someday I'll have the time to take care of myself, but until then I stare into the Fountain of Youth and reach out to touch fingers with my younger reflection and try to think "I miss you, but I love me."

I hope that someday I'll be able to be that girl and this woman at the same time. Do you?

Share your story with us today at Mothers' Hideaway

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are we over-sensitizing our kids?

I wanted to take my two and a half year old son to see Toy Story 3 at the theaters today. I've been planning on it for a few days since our local theater has Mommy and Me Movies on Tuesday mornings. This was going to be his first trip to a movie theater and I wanted to make sure he had a blast! So...being the mother that I am I decided to look up the reviews made by other moms from this past weekend to see if it was appropriate for his age group. After reading a few I was petrified.

Apparently, according to these mom reviewers, Toy Story 3 was going to scar my child's retinas with burning flames and a pit of fire. They said the characters were too mean, the theme was too dark, the scenes too scary. They were positive that my child would have night terrors, horrible thoughts, and an imagination that would include, but not be limited to, psychotic toys coming to life to throw them into the fiery pits of hell as a maniacal monkey clashes his tambourines together as he sounds an alarm. My son would be scared of putting his toys in bins because suddenly he would think he's sending his beloved trucks and trains to jail. He would be over sexualized by the relationship between Barbie and Ken. He would mentally be broken from the underlying theme of growing up and throwing out the past. He would not survive! Ok, ok, the last sentence may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.

Regardless, I decided I was going to make the venture out to the theater. I wanted to take him, darnit, and I would! So I did. Hesitant that at any moment all hell would break lose and my son would scream and cry as he clutched to my bosom because heaven knows a G rated film should never be watched by a two year old. I waited and waited and waited. Sure, the monkey was a bit crazy looking and I admit it freaked me out a bit, but that may be due to my own hesitation of dressed up monkeys. Not once did my son get upset at the "scary" parts, and not once did he cry (except that he wanted out of his chair to walk in the row a bit). At the end of the movie, my son was there in my lap cuddling with me as he sucked his thumb (I know, I know, he shouldn't do'll ruin his teeth. You can scold me later.) and as the final credits came on I wiped tears from my eyes and my son said "Mommy! Watch again!"

No, Toy Story 3 did not scar my child.

I left the theater angry. I was mad I had ever doubted myself because of multiple other sites saying it was too violent a film. I started to think "Are we over-sensitizing our children?"

Let's think about it. Our children are not allowed to play "Cops and Robbers" anymore because they shouldn't have guns. They're definitely not playing "Cowboys and Indians" either because heaven knows that's not PC (even if one could argue it's historical reenactment). A child comes to the park with a squirt gun and the other moms are sure that he's going to join the "Future Criminals of Amercia" club when he's in high school. I mean, isn't that how they all started??
I remember the first movie I ever saw in the theater was with my mom, sister, and some friends. We saw Bambie. In case you don't remember, Bambie's mom is killed pretty early on. Shot dead by a hunter. Years later, I loved Lion King and in that movie the father is killed by his own brother as the son watches! And let's not forget Dumbo where the mother is holding her baby through the grills of her circus car jail. No one ever said I'd be screwed up from that, and in fact, besides a few mom issues...I'm totally fine.

I'll be the first to admit I am a bit overprotective. I won't go to a wood chip park because what if he fell and that woodchip landed in his eye? I bust out the suntan lotion because what if I didn't one day and he got skin cancer? Oh, and hand sanitizer...I love me some hand sanitizer. I will admit that I've had to learn to say "He's a kid, he'll get over it." I'm learning that I can't and shouldn't protect him from all the harsh realities of the world. Yes, we live in a world where there is good and evil. Yes, we live in a world where people are mean. Yes, we live in a world where the right thing isn't always the easy thing. Yes, we live in a world where we all grow older and things that were once important to us get left by the wayside.

Today's children are going to end up unable to handle any of these harsh realities if we continue to protect them from it. Toys get hurt, they get thrown away and broken. People get treated the same way (although metaphorically). Tomorrow's adults are going to be scared to stand up for themselves, of taking risks, or of being adventurous because we, as their parents, have handicapped them by over protecting them. Sure, there's something that is "age appropriate", but that age seems to be getting older for some things (harsh realities) and younger for others (sexualizing).

We're turning our children into adults that have no spine or gumption when it comes to life.

We're turning our children into...dare I say it....sissies.

Do you think we're over-sensitizing our kids? Tell us today at Mothers' Hideaway!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Parents vs the Childless

Pop Quiz:

You're in Target and you see a mother carrying a screaming toddler in a football hold as he screams "Nooooo!!! Down! Down! Mommy NOOOOO!!!" while she has a newborn in the basket in his car seat crying for one of the many reasons a newborn cries. What do you do?

a) Smile at her with the "It's ok...I've been there" smile
b) Obviously roll your eyes while giving the mom the stink eye and think "Why won't that mom shut her kids up????"
c) Turn on your heel running in fear and think "Holy crap, there's my birth control for the day!"

I've been that Target mom. I was lucky because I got more people that answered with "a" instead of "b" (although my sister did say "c" to me later that day). That was a good day and I was able to leave Target feeling a little less ashamed of my disheveled appearance and screaming children. A feeling that lasted for ohhhhh 5 minutes.

When you have a child your life changes. Your world is flipped upside down and inside out and no one can truly prepare you for what comes with it. Oh the beginning is easy. Your newborn sleeps, eats, and poops. They sleep in their car seat while you go out with your husband to a much needed dinner. Maybe a little peep, but nothing a binkie or a rocking of their car seat can't fix. Life is good.

Then one day that sleeping child wakes up. They want to look around. They want to make noise. They want to grab that spoon, that fork, that salt shaker, that pretty little vase with the silk flower that resembles something of a centerpiece. Suddenly before you even sit down at the table you assess the table, remove any potential meltdown makers, and whip out the hand sanitizer. Suddenly your not quite one year old wants out of the high chair, they want to crawl/walk on the floor, they want to scream and discover their voice, they want to make their needs known to the entire restaurant, and want to hide from the stink eye you're getting from the other restaurant patrons. As you're trying to hush your child while simultaneously trying to melt under the table you realize that the other restaurant goers don't have what you have..........a child.

Now that I have joined the parenthood posse I've realized there is a large and quickly growing abyss that separates the parents and the childless. The childless glaring at the parents and the parents glaring at the childless. As a parent you're judged all the time from anyone and everyone. You're judged by your parents, your in laws, your siblings, your friends, other parents, other people that have no idea what it means to be a parent except that you have this slobbering ball of drool and mucous that wants you to hold them all the time.

People without children will be the first to tell you "Stay home!" or "You have to make sacrifices when you have kids." I have made make sacrifices. Lots of them. I haven't had my body not be carrying or feeding a child in 3 years (except for 3 months). I haven't been to a baseball game in 2 years because I can't bring my son and I haven't been able to find a sitter when we wanted to go because they were going to the game. I haven't been able to travel as often as I'd like without having to worry about all the logistics. I haven't been able to sleep in just as long. Do not tell me I can't take my child to a child-friendly restaurant. I have the right to not have to cook for ONE night!

When you get married, you lose some of your single friends because "you've changed" and you must now consult with your new husband about your plans for the weekend/night. When you have children, you lose some of your childless friends because "you've changed" and you must now plan your get togethers around naps, babysitters, and schedules. The childless don't understand the ins and outs of parenthood and they won't until they become parents themselves. It's the way the world works.

I understand both sides, I really do. My husband used to be that childless guy that would say "What's wrong with that parent for doing this or that?" While I always would say "Give them a break. It's hard keeping an 18 month old entertained." Then again, I was also the person that didn't think having a baby was going to be bon bons and butterflies. Sure, it's easy to judge the kid's parents, but we don't know the temperament of the child or what that child needs to be happy, if anything. I admit, I like to see that the parents are at least trying to keep their kid quiet, but I understand that at a certain point parents learn to tune out the annoyances. I am positive that it's a self preservation mechanism otherwise the parents might decide it's a better idea to eat their young.

So childless people of the world....what would you like for us parents to do? Get out of the house to maintain our sanity, or lose our minds and eat our young to get through the day?

Discuss with us at Mothers' Hideaway today!