5 years of lessons

1,825 days of laughter. 1,825 days of worry. 1,825 days of happiness, exhaustion and love … so much love!

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Yes — I’ve been a mom for five years.

It’s unreal.

I’ve lived a lot of life in my 35 years. Not to brag, but I’m incredibly lucky and have had some amazing experiences in those years. I lived in Bangladesh. I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve gone sky diving, worn a “bite suit” and been attacked by a police K-9, slid down a fireman’s pole, went to Guatemala on assignment, rode in a helicopter, fostered a baby squirrel, met and interviewed our current president (when he was a senator) … the list goes on. All of that happened in my first 30 years before I became a mom.

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All of those experiences — while incredible and really memorable — don’t hold a candle to the adventure that is the journey of parenthood.

Seriously!

Don’t get me wrong, every day of this adventure hasn’t been awesome. In fact, many of them have been downright stinky and tough — most of year 3 I cried at least twice a day — but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Being a mom is what I was supposed to be. This is who I am; it’s my identity.

Tuesday night, on the eve of Miles turning 5, I sat with both of my boys on my lap, each sleepy and extra snugly. Moments like this, where they both have slowed down at the same time, don’t happen much these days. So I savor them. And on this day, the emotions were overwhelming.

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As they nuzzled into my chest, the tears cascaded and five years flashed before my eyes. I remember the first time I saw Miles, the first time I kissed his swollen cheeks, the sound of his hoarse cry. I remember those first waddled steps. I saw his stubby and stubborn legs kicking themselves over the side of the crib when he willfully decided he was too big for that thing. I can hear him sweetly singing “Tinkle, Tinkle Wittle Staw.” I watch him bravely skip into his first day of preschool. I recall the stress of searching for a nickel that he swallowed (use your imagination.) I smile as I recall the millions of questions — really, it has to be millions — of questions this kid who never stops talking has asked.

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Countless memories.

In honor of Miles’ fifth birthday, here’s five lessons parenthood has taught me.

1. Patience

I’m still working on this one. Let’s be real, I’ll always be working on this one. But parenthood has forced me to become a more patient person. You can’t be a parent without having patience, or at least not a very good one. And I’m not just more patient with my own kiddos, I’m just overall more patient. When I see that mom or dad with two kids and some coupons in front of me at the grocery store and for every two things she puts on the belt her 4-year-old puts one back in the cart … before I may have shied away from that lane fearing my tolerance level for that isn’t high enough. But now, I get it. I’m that mom. (Sorry! But I’m teaching you patience!)

2. Flexibility

I LOVE to plan. I LOVE lists. I make lists about the lists I need to make when I’m planning my planning process. But, with that being said, spending a lot of time in Third World countries already stretched this flexibility muscle. Let me tell you though, there’s nothing like trying raising two super spirited boys to teach you the value of flexibility. Me: “Let’s go to the zoo, swimming and then the grocery store.” Kids: “Let’s refuse to put on shoes or lose our swimming suits or decide that monkeys are scary because they aren’t purple and we CAN’T go to the zoo because it isn’t Thursday.” You have to be more accepting because things don’t go precisely as planned because … kids.

3. Work/ life balance

Work is awesome, but it is not everything. I love my job. I love the active role I’ve taken in the community as an engaged volunteer. I don’t plan on stopping those things. But there are only so many hours in a day and I want to make sure a good portion of them are spent focused on my family. So with parenting, my priorities have shifted some. I think it is a constant struggle for me and every other working mom and dad to get that work/life balance correct.

4. Little things

Children are magical. And part of that magic is their ability to help us see the magic of life again. I fancy myself as someone who can appreciate the little things, but Miles has opened my eyes to so much joy. This little boy has helped me laugh so much, he’s helped me embrace my inner kid — jump in puddles, make couch cushion forts, laugh at a good fart joke … wait a minute, I’m teaching him that.

5. Sleep and food

These things are so important. I mean, of course they are. They are real life necessities. But as a parent, your world revolves around naps, snacks and bed time. I never thought I’d be that person. But I am. And guess what, I’m OK with that.

My little people have changed my world. They’ve changed me so much. I love that. Thank you Miles for making me a mom 5 years ago and sticking with me this long!

Not so innocent

Listening to your gut

Over the last three years I’ve shared a lot about my life and my kids in this blog and column.

Much of it, thankfully, has been pretty happy – exciting news about the birth of my second kiddo, the crazy antics of my spirited and silly nearly 5-year-old son, pictures of fun adventures… you know, the picture of perfection.

I have not shied away from sharing the “real” though – the real tough. The real “ugly.” I’ve talked a lot about the impact of the way too early loss of my dad to cancer, about my struggles with anxiety during my high-risk and difficult second pregnancy, the not-so-glamorous side of breast-feeding, the “joys” of digging through diapers to find a swallowed coins, Owen’s delays with development and our battles with some difficult (yet typical) toddler/preschool behaviors.

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Today though… just typing these things out are difficult. We aren’t talking about happy, sad, “ugly” or real. Terrifying.

My son nearly strangled himself yesterday.

Obviously, at less than 2, Owen didn’t intentionally do it. But it still happened. And my husband, who was home at the time, and I are still shaken by it. Late morning I got a call from him while I was at work. Normally unflappable, my cool as a cucumber husband was breathless and sounded tearful. My aunt had offered to take Miles for the day to a movie and out to lunch and he and Owen, nearly 2, were home alone.

Owen had been up for much of the night before so when he fell asleep on Michael’s shoulder that quiet morning – we don’t get many of those when his rambunctious brother is around – Michael wasn’t surprised. He took him to his room and laid him in his crib with his baby doll and “lovey” – two items he’s come accustomed to sleeping with the last several months.

About 10 minutes later Michael heard him whining a little. He wasn’t really crying or anything. And this isn’t anything too out of the ordinary. He often does this fast asleep, just a little whimper. And even if he does wake up, he typically falls back to sleep on his own within a minute or two and we don’t go back into his room.

But Michael said something was tugging at him, urging him to go into Owen’s room to check on him. He ignored it at first, sat himself back down on the couch after standing up and walking toward Owen’s room. But the urge was really strong so about 20 seconds later he got back up knowing he wouldn’t be able to relax if he didn’t go in there and check on him.

So he did.

Michael opened the door and saw Owen laying there with a string from his blanket wrapped around his neck 15-20 times. Somehow it had gotten loose from his blanket – something I assumed was safe for him to have now that he was nearly 2 – and he’d managed to get tangled up in. It wasn’t super tight but it wasn’t exactly loose either. He had to go grab a pair of scissors to cut it loose.

Owen is fine – thank God. There were a few marks on his neck, probably from Michael trying to get the blanket off. But we can’t stop thinking about it. Michael especially. He can’t shake that image, the “what if” from his mind.

What if he had just kept ignoring that little whimper coming from Owen’s room? What if he’d ignored that instinct he’d had that something wasn’t right.

Who knows what would’ve happened if he hadn’t listened to that overwhelming, uncontrollable need to go check on our son. I certainly can’t even think about it, let alone dwell, on it.

So, here’s the terrifying.

We’ve had some freaky parenting moments. We’ve had plenty of happy ones. Our fair share of frustrating and gross and tearful and overwhelming and many other colorful adjectives. Even some scary ones.

But terrifying… that word is reserved for the truly, frightening. And folks, it doesn’t get too much more frightening than that.

Lessons learned – our nearly 5 and 2 year olds will now be 40 before they are allowed to sleep with anything, our instincts are everything; LISTEN TO THEM!

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When it rains… trees come down

So we apparently live in storm alley.

Every time it blows anywhere it seems there’s trees and limbs down, shingles blown up or off and – in at least one instance – a chicken coop blown away.

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Yesterday’s storm was no exception. But I’m not complaining (well, yes, I’m kind of complaining, it does suck!) Lots of people had it much worse than us. Right next door, our incredible neighbors had a big tree come down on one of their cars. It managed to bust three windows and damage quite a bit of the body of the car. We are 24 hours post-storm and still without power.

Citywide there’s still thousands without power. And Vectren isn’t sure when it will all get restored. The last worker that stopped by our neighborhood said they “hoped” today but could make no guarantees… It isn’t looking real good though it seems.

At our place we had some giant tree-sized limbs down and some minor roof damage (some shingles popped up, some blown off and some flashing torn down). I’m mostly annoyed by the inconvenience factor.

You see… For about two months I’ve been plotting about Saturday. I have a two kid free 24 hour period. Mani/pedis, fancy restaurants, shopping, movies, romantic date night with my hubby – NOPE! I’ve been planning this 24 hour period meticulously.

My plan is to clean, organize and get rid of stuff! While not impossible to do those things with my kids it is difficult. And doing it in their rooms – two of the rooms that need it the worst – is nearly impossible. So my mom and sister had agreed to each take one of the boys for this agreed upon 24 hour period.

The first shoe that dropped in my perfectly made plan was boot-sized… the mobility-sized variety. My bad luck and clumsiness struck again as I sustained a stress fracture in my left foot. I’ve been booted. So my ease of getting around to speed clean in my limited 24 hours was already hampered. And now this…

We may not even have power.

But, I keep reminding myself to focus on the positives!

Our amazing neighbors who were dealing with their own storm calamities were out helping Michael chainsaw up the debris in the backyard. And then today, with the electricity still out, they let us plug our fridge into their generator so we didn’t lose all the food inside. We are pretty lucky.

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And thankfully my mom has opened her home to us allowing us to crash as long as we want to. Because two kids afraid of the dark with no electricity … not an easy task. And today, my aunt Janice is watching the boys so Michael can go back over to the house to work on getting more of the debris hauled back out to the street for pick up.

So, here’s to reminding myself to be grateful… Grateful to great friends, family and neighbors who help in tough times. And heck, I’ll still get a bunch done booted and by lantern-light. I’m determined!

 

What do you say? Let’s try love

I’ve been here before – bleary-eyed both from a lack of sleep and from the tears – staring a blank doc.

I don’t know what to write. Heck, I don’t know what to say.

What do you say? What can I add that is profound? Insightful?

I’m heartbroken, lost, saddened, confused, angry.

I’m scared.

Thank God my kids aren’t old enough to have any idea what is going on. But I know that my time is limited. It’s only a few more years until my sweet, sensitive Miles will wonder what those people on television are crying about. Mommy and daddy whispering about the news and passing our phones back and forth to show each other the latest updates probably won’t go unnoticed much longer. “What does it mean when they say 50 are killed,” he’ll ask. “What’s a casualty mommy?”boys100

And it’s only a matter of time until these tragedies are forced upon him; he’ll still be way too young and innocent. He’ll have to endure mass shooting drills at school. Hear kids talk about guns and shootings. See violence on television and in video games.

At four and one there’s still so much my boys haven’t been exposed to. And in many ways I’m that “overprotective crazy” mom. I don’t let him have toy guns. I don’t let him “play shoot.” He doesn’t play video games. He’s still into “Paw Patrol” and knows very little of more “big boy” real-life action shows or movies.

I’m not looking to engage in a battle on gun control. Or politics. Or religion. I’m doing the exact opposite.

I don’t know the answer. But so badly, every atom of my being needs us to find an answer, a solution so my boys don’t have to live in a world where I have to answer these terrifying questions, explain the unexplainable. I think the last thing that will get us there, to this solution, is being divided, screaming at each other, debating and being hateful.

I’m sure I’m being sunshine and rainbows, “hippie-dippie idealistic” but I don’t know where else to go. Let’s be kind. Let’s love everyone. Can that just be the start?

Never underestimate your pint-sized adversary

Gategate

Gategate

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.” – Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”

They broke the gate.

If it had happened any other day, it would just be the latest occurrence in a long line of broken household items.

But on this day — the first of summer vacation — it cannot be mistaken for anything else.

It was a message. An omen. A pre-emptive strike.

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Not so innocent

This wall — which has separated the relatively child-proofed safety of the living room from all the pointy, chemically, structurally treacherous remainder of the house — has fallen.

And along with it, any of my own self-delusions that this summer would be anything other than a three-month siege upon my blood pressure and sanity.

The fighting over toys and the TV, the midair launching of small human bodies from one piece of furniture to another, the noise — my goodness, the noise.

This just isn’t a couple hours a day anymore. It’s the whole day.

Miles’ second year of preschool was a godsend in many ways. He’s made new friends, become much more self-sufficient, learned to embrace the differences in different people and is quite the budding little artist.

It also kept this seeming bundle of furious energy focused, and if I am being honest, the simple fact that he has spent hours away from home each day has limited the amount of chaos visited upon my otherwise peaceful days.

Before now, the divide-and-conquer strategy has worked brilliantly. Owen, our little one, is a breeze without his big brother around getting him all riled him up in the morning. And by the time Miles got off the bus in the afternoon, Owen was solidly in the depths of his post-lunch nap. Weathering the 2-3 hours with both kids together at the end of the day wasn’t always an easy task but it was doable.

But divide and conquer is no longer a viable tactic. They’ve got me outnumbered. And they know it.

Today, perfect example.

I mean, it’s not like they couldn’t have escaped from the living room by just pushing the flimsy wooden divider down. Owen has done that with regularity of late. Still, it has at least served to slow him down until I can get there.

Definitely not innocent

Definitely not innocent

 

This time, though, they literally broke the thing in half — the first flaming arrow lodged in the castle wall.

Message sent; message received.

SECOND gate broken. Gategate round two.

SECOND gate broken. Gategate round two.

Of course, you know, this means war.

Michael Doyle is stay-at-home dad to Miles, 4, and Owen, 1. He’s married to features editor Abbey Doyle. He’s also a copy editor and designer at the Courier & Press.

Lessons learned in Preschool

It’s gone by so fast. I know, I know … They are clichés for a reason — so often they ring true.

20160511_102215_resizedAfter a year of preschool, Miles has learned so much. The difference I see in my almost 5-year-old little guy is incredible. I don’t know how his head hasn’t exploded with all the stuff he’s taken in — and not just shoved away in a corner — but really, truly comprehended.

presschoolBut all that being said — with that big, ol’ giant brain of his — I think I learned and grew even more than he did.

I teared up watching him walk up in the media center of Culver Family Learning Center Wednesday morning to get his rolled up diploma. Yes, it’s hard for me to imagine him getting one year older. Of course, I’m emotional, thinking of all that he’s learned and accomplished in a year’s time. But selfishly, those tears and the tickly, choked-up feeling I got was about me.

ps3All these days, weeks and months when Ms. Keri was so patiently (seriously guys, this woman — along with the paraprofessionals in her room, Ms. Angie and Ms. Kelly — is a saint) teaching Miles how to write, refining his ability to recognize shapes and firing up his curiosity for all things nature-related, I was learning too. Yep, Miles was schooling me. Or maybe life.

ps1Or both.

Either way, each day I was leveling up in parenting. I was tackling challenges I’d never been faced with before, crossing bridges I hadn’t even thought about. I was learning that previous thoughts of self-doubt in the work/parent balance were child’s play. Wait until you throw school activities and extracurriculars into the mix with work, nonprofit responsibilities and the occasional desire to have a social life.

Yep, life was teaching me this lesson.

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But … and here’s the coolest part guys … I made it. Yep, Miles made it too. He graduated preschool, but his parents did too. And we earned all kinds of parenting badges along the way.

And while Miles and I both felt quite accomplished Wednesday with the extraordinary feat of making it through this year of new challenges, joys and triumphs — we’ll do it all again.

And again. And again. Because you never stop learning and growing. That big ol’ brain of his will just keep getting bigger and bigger.

And future kindergarten teacher, I’m apologizing right now. While Ms. Keri taught Miles so very much, she was unable to teach him how to stop talking ALL THE TIME. The lesson of silence is one that jabber jaw will forever be working on I’m certain.

Here’s a highlight of some of our favorite lessons from the year. You can guess which are mine and which are Miles’:

All of our friends are special.

Any kind of a snack or juice served in a shiny silver package is going to be the favorite.

Rainbows are arches!

Visits in the classroom, while wreaking havoc on a work schedule, are about the best things ever.

School lunch is pretty rad.

You never, never, never, never, never, ever, ever step on the road until the school bus is stopped.

And you don’t skip in the line.

Live animals are a big hit.

Singing is the best; I really, really, really, really like to sing.

Miles was in one of two inclusion classrooms. The empathy, understanding and leadership he has been blessed with from this experience are invaluable. I’m so grateful for that.

Those are skills I’d never be able to teach him. Ms. Keri wasn’t the only one teaching Miles. He learned so much from his friends in his class.

Yep, this year was a definite success. I’m ready (I think) to tackle kindergarten.

Good job, mom

Opening up the mailbox as a kid brought such joy.

Would there be a package? A brightly colored card? A handwritten letter with stickers from my friend who lived down the street? Or maybe a thick envelope with five pages of folded up yellow legal pad paper from my church camp pen pal?

I didn’t mind those long, white envelopes with the clear windows. I know my mom and dad used to sigh when I’d bring them in; I didn’t care though. I was looking for the good stuff.

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Fast forward 20 years.

Opening up the mailbox doesn’t quite give me that same airy feeling of joy as an adult. Honestly, there are some months when those long white envelopes with those crinkly, clear windows cause dread and anxiety. I now get why my mom and dad weren’t so thrilled to see what I’m sure seemed like heaps of bills.

But the corners of my sometimes-grouchy mom mouth always turn up when I catch the glimpse of a colorful envelope in that bill-keeper of a mailbox.

Usually they are for the boys. My mom is awesome and sends a card to each of them for every imaginable holiday. Michael’s parents are amazing too, sending cards for the holidays along with aunts and great-grandparents. The kids love it, carrying the cards around the house opening and closing them and making the little bears, leprechauns or Cupids dance around the living room.

But when I popped open the mailbox Wednesday there was one lone envelope inside — fuchsia and addressed to little ol’ me.

I recognized the handwriting right away — my mom. Never mind the fact that I’d seen her three days before and I’d see her on Friday and Saturday and maybe even Sunday. She knows how touched I’d be to receive it in the mail. Also, never mind the fact that this not-together-at-all mom hadn’t picked up a gift or a card for her amazing or thoughtful mom yet.

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“From the time you were a little girl you’ve given me so many reasons to admire and love you. And watching you as a mom has given me even more. You’re understanding and loving, dedicated and hardworking. Not only that, you’re a fun mom, too. In fact, hearing the kids laugh with you is one of my favorite things in the world. No matter what you’re doing with them, I can see that your kids come first and you’re always giving your best, even on days when it isn’t always easy. I can’t tell you how proud of you I am. I love you for being the amazing daughter you’ve always been and the wonderful mom you are today.”

“It’s the perfect card,” she wrote.

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And it was. It was what I needed to hear. The tears were streaming hot down my face. My mom is still proud of me. I’m doing a good job. I’m doing OK. I’m not screwing this whole mom thing up.

Because, let’s be real, even at 35, I still need to hear that.

Don’t you? Don’t we all need to be reminded that we are doing a good job? That someone is proud of us.

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In life we can get bogged down with the responsibilities, the stress, the scary — the bills of life. It gets so easy to forget about those brightly-colored envelopes filled with encouraging messages. One way we can help balance that out is by sending more of these “cards” out into the world. We can do this by literally sending cards out or by just letting people know that they are doing a good job.

When I’m at the grocery store and my kids are being … kids … and the person in line behind me gives me a knowing “been there, it’ll get better” encouraging smile, it makes that 5-minute wait a lot easier than when the person behind me glowers with their disapproving look or critiques my parenting skills with the person behind them in line.

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Parenting is hard stuff. Find a mom — your mom, your mom friend, a random mom at the park — and tell her she’s doing a great job.

Momma, you’re doing a great job. Thanks!

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Listen To Your Mother

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Do it, listen to her, she probably knows best.

But really…

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I didn’t know much about this national show when I first heard about it last year in a professional sense. Someone I’d come to know through work had sent me a press release asking for people to audition with stories of motherhood — stories about their own mom, about being a mom themselves, watching their wife or partner be a mom… I instantly thought, “Michael should do this!”

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Right then he was elbow deep in intense momming. Miles was going to preschool for just three hours a day four days a week and Owen was just a few months old. I had only been in this new position for a few months and was working way more hours than any one person should along with being gone a lot of Project Reveal and other various commitments. He was doing a lot of the momming. I say “momming” because that’s how the outside world saw what he was doing.

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Really what Michael was doing was being a parent. He wasn’t being Mr. Mom; he wasn’t “babysitting;” he certainly wasn’t doing me or us as a couple any favors. If the roles were reversed and he was working 60 hours a week and helping run a nonprofit not a single eye would bat.

Am I right?

But there was some batting. There was even some finger wagging. And I’m sure some gossiping as well if we are to be completely honest here.

Anyway, back to Listen To Your Mother… I sent him the press release and blurbs about the auditions no less than 28 times. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration; it may have only been 18 times. But I thought he would be great. Michael is a genius writer; so much better than me (or is it I, see, he’d know.) And he’s hilarious. I am only ever funny unintentionally. I mean, I can be funny but it is typically at my own expense like I’ve fallen or am clueless of some well-known pop culture reference.

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But alas, he refused to apply.

“There’s no way I’m getting on a stage. NEVER!”

The second year rolled around. I tried again. And again. And again.

On try 33 he said, “OK, if you’ll do it with me and you’ll finally leave me alone I’ll do it.”

But this was about 10 p.m. the night before the last audition. We hadn’t prepared anything. He was working until midnight. We hadn’t arranged for childcare the next day for the auditions.

All keys to success. Right?

So, we essentially wrote the piece back and forth over Facebook messenger while he worked (don’t mind us Courier & Press bosses) and read through it one time around 1 a.m. when he got home.

The next day we packed up our crazy, heathen children hoping for the best thinking the bribe of “really awesome, fun, exciting stuff” after the audition would keep the quiet for five minutes.

Fall 2014

“Five minutes, please,” I begged of Miles in a sincere whisper.

“Of course,” he said, with an evil, little glint in his eye.

We started and not 30 seconds in they started bouncing off the walls. I see chocolate scattered about the table for those auditioning. I grab for it blindly, still reading our piece, maddeningly unwrapping the crinkly foil and the boys scream and prance about turning into howler monkeys in mere seconds literally pounding on the windows.

I start tossing the chocolate on the floor hoping for just a few seconds of silence. I don’t think twice about the sugar, the artificial whatevers, the germs… none of it matters. There’s a few moments of peace.

Who knows if our piece is any good. The true reason we made it in the show was the chocolate tossing.

Thanks boys!

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Come hear for yourself as we are joined by 12 other incredible women telling stories about motherhood. Part of the proceeds go to benefit 4C Play and Learn. It is 7 p.m. Saturday at AIS Diamond (Old North High School on Stringtown.) Tickets are available at the door for $20 but online for $15 by visiting www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2505159.

 

Be nice, seriously

The lessons learned as a child are endless. And while as a third grader I didn’t always understand them (especially any of them involving math) or realize how they would impact me well beyond childhood, I’m eternally grateful for the things my parents taught me.

Kindness was one of the most valuable lessons. But this idea of “kindness” is kind of (see what I did there) nebulous. I mean, if I were to tell Miles, “Make sure you’re always kind,” his immediate 4 year old response would be, “What’s kind mean momma?” Because this kid, ever a journalist’s kid, is FULL of questions.

So, in my never-ending quest to be 1/10th of the parent to my boys that my mom and dad were to my sister, I’ve been working to instill the importance of kindness. One way I’ve tried to illustrate it is by including EVERYONE.

I remember as a kid when we had a birthday party we would have two choices — we’d invite every girl in the class (because, ewwwww, boys!) or our two closest friends. It was an all or nothing kind of thing. If you invited seven of nine… now that’s just mean. Or even worse, eight of nine. Imagine being that ninth little girl without an invitation!

Guess what guys, I’ve been that ninth little girl. And woman. Yep, apparently everyone didn’t have awesome parents like mine. Nope, they didn’t have parents who taught them the importance of kindness and including everyone. No, you don’t have to be every one’s best friend. Heck, you don’t have to be everyone’s friend. But would it kill you to be kind?

Let me help you out… the answer is, “No.” Not only will it not hurt you to be kind, it will also help teach your children the importance of that lesson. We may think we are teaching our children something by telling them to do it, but if we ourselves aren’t modeling it… well, it’s just not all that valuable.

OK, my tree-hugging, kindness-loving self is going to go meditate in my office. Go do something kind now.

 

Embracing my inner worrywart

As a mother, you worry about everything, all the time. At least I do.

“Is that cough OK? Should he be walking like that? Is that rash normal?”

And it seems like, when discussing your concerns about your kids with other parents, the conversation almost always ends with the same expected, well-intentioned answer.

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“Don’t worry, he’s fine. Everything is OK.”

I’ll be the first to admit this is true most of the time. Probably like 98 percent of the time.

But sometimes it’s not.

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That’s why it’s so important to trust your parental instincts.

For us, what set off warning bells was Owen’s speech, or lack thereof. At 15 months old he wasn’t talking, at all.

He’d eked out one word. I was blessed that the one word he chose to scream over and over again was some variation of “mom.”

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In the next month or so he added “dada” to his vocabulary. But that was it.

From 16-18 months babies typically are saying 20 to 50 words. Owen was saying two. So at his 15-month checkup, our pediatrician didn’t say, “Everything is going to be OK.”

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Instead, she said, “Let’s go ahead and refer him for early intervention.”

I was so prepared to just hear, “everything is fine” that hearing something different was a bit of a shock to the system.

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We had our assessment with the First Steps program Tuesday and are looking forward to getting the ball rolling with speech and physical therapy to address some other issues discovered a few weeks later.

Meanwhile, in the weeks leading up to his first speech appointment and at nearly 19 months old — like a car that only works right when the mechanic is looking at it — Owen’s vocabulary has exploded, relatively speaking. He now says “TV,” (T) “Mickey” (Icky), “ball,” “hungry” (gee,) “night-night,” “dog,” “baby,” “hi” and “bye-bye,” among a few others.

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He even counts “one-two-three” and can identify and say the colors yellow and red — at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

He’s still behind, but it’s a good start. And it certainly didn’t hurt anything to look into getting some extra help.

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I am a worrier. It comes along with motherhood.

It’s also genetic; I come from a long line of worrywarts. Even as a toddler, I’m told, one of my most frequently spoken phrases was “I no worry!” — spoken while literally chewing my blanket with my whole body shaking.

baby o2

So I do need to hear quite often that, in fact, “It is OK.”

But sometimes it isn’t OK … and that’s hard. But it isn’t the end of the world.

OCEAN