Posts Tagged parenting

Dodging playgroups and hugging my calling card

I had somewhat of an epiphany yesterday…after watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.

Yeah, I really just said that.

I’ve always said that I don’t refer to myself as a “housewife” or as they say, SAHM.  We don’t go to playgroups or hangout at Starbucks or Panera like some of my mom friends in town are known to do.  Not that anything’s wrong with that—aside from the work that is being a mother, I consider myself a mom who works at home.

jack and his computerAnd I do…every day while trying to raise a toddler practically by myself during the week, while spearheading a website, making industry connections, attending meetings with toy executives, wiping a resistant booty, while fielding emails and ignoring laundry.

I work.  Just like so many other mamas, my daily struggle is trying to find that balance.  Yup, I’m still going at it.  Boohoo, right?

Nah…but as of late, I feel so completely overwhelmed by this existentialist crisis I have going on.

WHAT am I doing and where am I going with all of this?  Was dropping out of the conventional “rat race” worth it?  If I’m home most of the time caring for my own kid, then why do assholes look at me as if I’m the pariah?   If I went back to work in an office to work for the man again, just to feel worthless and constricted creatively, who wins then?  The kid who goes to daycare from 7am to 7pm everyday?

I’m over a year into this now, but as I get deeper into this path I’m on, I hear/feel/see more flack than you’d ever believe.

Is it really 2010?

This mommy wars stuff is bullshit.  And it’s hitting me hard.

I’ll save the rest of my dialogue for another day, the one where I’ve created this website that fuels my passion and creative desires.  The one where companies fill my mailbox with their new products, just to have a chance to be mentioned on my little site.  I’m only a year in, and I’ve barely scraped the surface.  Again, I’m not moving mountains here, I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do…

It’s exciting to experience the progress of this new direction and watch my vision grow.

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When push comes to shove

With her golden tendrils and perfect pink bow, she exuded such innocence and sweetness.  Like most little girls that frequent our park, she wears perfectly-paired outfits from Gymboree, maybe Janie and Jack.  Necklace to match.  Accessories to the playground…heh.  I personally consider it a good day if I can find matching socks for the kid.

Yesterday, a few minutes after we arrived at the park, Jack noticed the well outfitted 4-year old little girl and the other little children that were following her around.  As usual, he follows the joy, the laughter and more often than not, the bigger kids.

Oblivious to the “personal boundary” rule, Jack desperate to win the little girl’s attention and fit in like the other kids following her around like little ducklings, got in her face and giggled to let her know that he was having a good time .

Surprised by my 1.5 year old’s bubbly demeanor and abruptness, the little girl stopped in her tracks and positioned herself squarely and scowled.

Not getting the hint, Jack proceeded to laugh and play, believing that he fitted in with the older kids–the same ones he always wants to follow around.

Determined to get her message across to my little guy, the little girl then screamed, “GET AWAY. I DON’T WANT YOU NEAR ME,” loud enough for everyone in a 3 block radius to hear.

And then, she went over the top.

*smack* then SHOVE and another “GO AWAY” to get her point across.

Yup.

She smacked and then shoved a smaller kid to the ground—MY KID.

Even worse, this wasn’t the first time she’s done this.
playing in the parkCompletely unaffected by what just happened, Jack laughed, brushed it off and ran off in a different direction.  Me, on the otherhand?  I had nothing to laugh about.  Especially since that bratty kid’s mom was huddled in the opposite corner talking or texting or whatever.

We see the same faces, day in and day out, and this little girl is just one of the many familiar faces.  I’ve tried to make small talk with her mother, Jack has tried sharing his toys with the little girl, but nothing.  Not a single ounce of warmth has ever been reciprocated—quite asshole-ish not very neighborly, if you ask me.

At first, I was pissed at the kid, but then looked at her mother and re-shifted my angst.  The girl is doing what she knows.  Clearly she doesn’t like my boy.  And that’s fine, we’re entitled to like and dislike whomever we please.  But when your bigger kid is being outright nasty and bullying a toddler who wants to befriend you, I feel that it’s the parent’s place to intervene.

Like I said, this wasn’t the first time.  This was like the tenth time something like this has happened with this same girl.  However, this was the first time she actually pushed him down.  The first few times were hard to swallow, but this time, I just could not do it.  How do you tell your toddler that a bratty kid doesn’t like him?

You don’t.

I let Jack play for a few more minutes and then told him we had to go home.  I wanted to go home; I needed to diffuse this situation that had me fumed.  I packed him in the stroller, said goodbye to our friends and made our way home.

I wanted so badly to tell that other mom that she was an asshole.  I mean, who lets their kid push smaller kids and repeatedly say mean things like that?  Oh yeah, moms who are preoccupied with social hour or texting on their phones.  But really, I’m sure that mom is a nice person, it’s just how she handled that specific scenario—or lack thereof—left much to be desired.

Let’s be clear here:  I am hardly the barometer for ideal parenting.  But if there’s anything I try to be in tune with, it’s how my spinningchild interacts with others.  Who would want their kid to be that kid.  Jack is weathering the hitting stage, he’s in the MINE phase and I’m sure there will be even more…but since our playground is also part of our social scene, we have to do what we can to ensure that everyone has fun. That’s how the playground works, folks!

Kids will be kids.  They’re going to roughhouse and get excited.  In fact, Jack’s been pushed and tousled by other kids so much over the past few months. Because he’s such a friendly and sociable boy, he has no problem attempting to befriend others, especially big kids.  Big kids usually want nothing to do with him, but Jack keeps trying.  I intervene when my in-your-face kid pushes or hits, just as I expect parents to do the same if their kid says and does offensive things.  For the most part, other parents, sometimes nannies too, will do the right thing and correct their kid.

But not this kid or her mom.  Nope, not them.

There are so many unwritten rules regarding our playground etiquette–you must dress accordingly (semi-fashionable i.e., my “I Vote for Happy Hour” t-shirt would be frowned upon); if you bring toys, your kid must share them with the other kids’ excessive cell phone usage while you’re supposed to be spending quality time with your kid isn’t well received; and if your bratty kid is acting up, you need to step in!

We all just “know” the rules–it’s common sense when you spend so much time in the same area with the same families.

It’s obviously not my place to tell other parents how to discipline their kids, but I promise you, the next time that kid pushes my kid, you bet your ass I’m saying something to the mom, even if it means that we’re ostracized from our playground.  Intervening isn’t the same as helicopter-parenting.  There’s no mistake about that.  Especially when your kid doesn’t know right from wrong yet!

And to think, the playground was once an outlet of fun and feeling carefree.  Or to go even further, a few years ago, I’d consider someone like myself who gets worked up over something like this, well, an asshole.

Funny how life works.

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On being a digital mom

The Today Show recently featured a duo of segments on what they dubbed the “Digital Mom.”  Yesterday’s segment overviewed how moms are using modern technology as mothering aids, referring to email/web enabled phones, DVR, blogs and message boards as sources of “salvation.”  As one of thousands of moms that employs these tools in my daily life, I agree to an extent with the Today Show’s definition of a Digital Mom.  I appreciated that they included Heather Armstrong, Mommyblogger extraordinaire. But in a way, I think Dooce is in a different category, whose online presence almost surpasses the community of moms who blog.  What I mean by that is, today’s Digital Mom has an ongoing conversation online with various different forums and outlets.  Those forums could include message boards, social networks like Facebook and Myspace, social networks geared directly at moms like Cafemoms, TheMotherhood and Momfaves (my new personal favorite!), photo sharing sites such as Flickr and of course, the almighty blog.  The true essence of a digital mom or as some are calling Mom 2.0, is the fact that she’s sharing information as well as retaining it.  As with any relationship, it’s a 2-way street.  Check out what this mom had to say on this topic.

Because of my background in traditional media and print journalism, my motive to start blogging was a bit different.  At my old job, I wrote, researched and reported on a lot of technical and not-so-glamorous topics.  And because I craved a different creative outlet, I thought, why not blog?  Writing is/was my livelihood PLUS I found it cathartic thus, Babyrific was born as soon as I found out I was pregnant.  It became an open-ended source for our family in Va. to know that we’re still nuts and that our child is well on his way to eating us out of house and home.  Along the way, just like other moms who blog, people shared a similar interest in our lunacy, either that or they liked to point and laugh at us.  And from there, I started to share my thoughts and research about parenting, products and life in general, with the hopes that along the way my sometimes ridiculous anecdotes help/amuse/inform someone else.

Or better yet, I get calls like this from my mom 2 days after a post I’ve written:
Mom: “Hi. How is he?  What did he eat?”
Me:  “Who?  Who ate what??”
Mom:  “Jack.  I saw on your internets.  Is he ok?”
*In the car on the way to Costco, focusing on eating samples for lunch and utterly confused.*
Me:  “What are you talking about mom?”
Mom:  “I saw he ate something.”
Me: Ohhhhhhhhhh.  *lightbulb goes off*  You mean the diaper cream???
Mom:  Yeah!  How did you know that he ate it?
Me:  Well, because he had WHITE STUFF all over his face and his butt smelled like his butt!

This generation of moms is clearly different, with our internets and all.  When we were kids, my mom actually talked to moms and interacted with them.  Today, I’m plugged in and connected to my mom friends in more ways than I can count.  I plan playdates via my local message board.  I score sales and deals from my girlfriends on Facebook and a different message board.  And most recently, I Twitter with other moms to corporate employees from big brands.  Social networking plays a huge part in my daily life, just like it does for many other moms. According to today’s Today Show segment on Digital Moms, 26 million moms are using social networking.  That’s a lot of moms chattering about everything from brands they love to their thoughts on parenting to that McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish commercial.  (That does its job and actually makes me want to haul ass to the drive thru!)

With all those moms talking, it’s no wonder the information and marketing landscape has forever changed.  Remember my year of interviews last year and being unable to get a job as an editor/reporter at another print publication?  Along with millions of other veterans in the print publishing field, those jobs are hard to come by, what with advertising dollars shifting to the online sector.
Why and how?  Well, a lot of it goes back to moms.
Less and less people turn to magazines and newspapers as THE source of information.  We spend our time online.  Thus, the advertising dollars follow the consumers to the online marketplace.  It’s a vicious cycle, but one that I’m trying to learn.

I definitely appreciated today’s Today Show segment that featured eMom and Consumer Queen, both online resources whose sites garner a lot of traffic because of the great content.  What I gathered from the segment was that moms have a powerful voice online, and many entrepreunurial moms are making a business from it.  The advertising professional provided great insight, too, but I think her perspective wasn’t as spot on.  Not all moms blog for the “free stuff.”  Empowering ourselves as moms/consumers and sharing with others in the process is a big motive for me.  As a plus, the excitement I get from writing and reporting about things that I’m passionate about helps me from teetering off into crazyland.  Well, on most days…

Ok, we’re off to go get our Filet O’ Fish :)

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Lessons in Multiraciality

Last night, while reading the touch and feel book, “Who Do You Love?”, Jeff and Jack came across a page with two different colored bears.

“Look, Jack! Those bears are like mommy and daddy.  One bear is brown and one is white, just like us.”

I couldn’t help but giggle over the cuteness.  Jack, with his innocent little face, was laughing along with me, but he had no idea why. But, something tells me lessons later in life won’t be as short and simple.

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