What makes you an awesome parent?

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I got treated to a coffee date with one of my dearest girlfriends Saturday. After speaking to her Friday and letting her in on my need for a break she asked me on a date so we could chat and catch up. Since our move last summer I haven’t really been able to see my friends on a regular basis – we’ve all got a ton going on and with this new distance between us it’s a little difficult to get together as much as before. So, this was an extra special treat. Naturally, the conversation came full circle and we ended up talking about our kiddos (break right?). I told her about my blog and how I write about how damn hard parenting is sometimes and she stopped me dead in my tracks by asking me what makes me an awesome parent.

Well shit, do you know that I really didn’t know how to answer her? I just looked at her dumbfounded and in that moment I realized that I don’t give myself enough credit for the parts of motherhood that I’m actually pretty good at.

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I don’t have it all figured out- nope, not even close but I am doing the absolute best I can. There are days that I consciously ignore my kids saggy diaper butt to avoid another diaper change meltdown. There are also days where she watches more T.V than is recommended and we don’t delve into book reading, creative activities or momtastic activities like foot painting or glitter gluing.

There are days that my brain, heart and body are just tired and you know what, I think that’s okay… sometimes.

There are bad days and there are good days and on those good days I’ll tickle my little girl until she laughs so hard she cries. Those days are the ones where I let her explore, make messes and let her just be her – in all her messy glory. Those days actually happen more often than they don’t. So, maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself.

After much thought and reflection this weekend I came up with a random list of reasons why I’m an awesome mum to Margs. I think “us” Mums/Dads are far too hard on ourselves and often fail to see and acknowledge what a good job we do most of the time. We are good enough – we just have to stop, take a deep breath and appreciate it more often, don’t we?

Let’s have at it, shall we?

/ I am an awesome Mum because I’ve created and maintain a safe physical and emotional space for Margs

/ I am an awesome Mum because I love Margs unconditionally and always put her first

/ I am an awesome Mum because (despite my type A personality) I’m allowing Margs to “fall” so she can teach herself to get right back up again (both figuratively and literally)

My friend reminded me to stop and pat myself on the back every now and again so now I’m going to do the same for you – some days we just need that extra shove to put it all in perspective.

Now, I absolutely, categorically insist that you share why YOU are an AWESOME parent too!

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I’m not the fun parent and I’m okay with that

When Margs was approximately 6 months old it became really clear that Mer was becoming her “fun parent”. At first, my big green monster reared its ugly head and I got really jealous and resentful that my precious little girl (that I gestated horizontally for so so long) appeared to show a clear preference for her father. I cried, a lot. Seriously, far more times than I’m even comfortable admitting at this point. Selfishly, I believed that she’d somehow know what sacrifice I’d made to get her here safely and prefer me by default (totally minimizing Mer’s suffering- because he suffered too. My grief was so very selfish and I plan to write about that one day). Clearly, she loves me dearly but as she gets older and develops more autonomy it’s pretty clear Mer is still the fun parent.

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And you know what guys, I’m totally okay with that.

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As Mer and I navigate this parenting thing we’re realizing pretty quickly that our roles are very different. Mer is the fun parent while I’m the authority figure setting boundaries and creating consistency and routines in her life.

Why? I’m with her the majority of the time since I’m her primary care giver because we decided that Mer would work full time (makes sense financially) and I’d stay at home with her until she’s at least school aged.

If Mer were the stay at home parent I imagine the roles would be reversed. Her “preference” by consequence has no bearing on whether one of us is genuinely more “fun” than the other but rather by our different “presence” in her life.

Mer’s experiences with Margs are far  far different than mine. He spends 10-12 hours per day outside our home fixing and geeking out over complicated computer problems. During this time I’m parenting a strong willed little one who most recently became extremely mobile, curious and creative so I’m often trying to make sure she doesn’t manage to evade me and walk over to the kitchen, pull out the trash and feed that shit to our dog.

When he arrives home in the evening he’s had the time to “miss” her in ways that I’ve really never experienced since he gets a physical detachment from her every single work day. Naturally, she’s super excited to see her dad who is most likely more excited to see her than she’ll ever know – and you know what, it shows in the way they interact. That excitement builds and the house immediately fills with loud baby giggles and squeals. Squeals and giggles that I have to work really really really hard to achieve during the day since for the most part I’m chasing her around saying things like “no, don’t touch that”, “be careful that’s gonna make you boo boo”, “don’t put –insert disgusting thing here– in your mouth” and “woah, slow down so mommy can catch up”.

Not being the fun parent means that I’ve got a huge responsibility – it’s  my job to create rules and boundaries around here that will hopefully create a sense of independence and self-responsibility in my little girl. By virtue of me being her primary caregiver, I’m responsible for shaping this tiny human into a kind and gentle soul who I hope grows up to do great things and find enormous happiness on her journey into adulthood. This is not to say that Mer is completely removed from this experience – we’re very much on the same page when it comes to our parenting style but, he takes a more passive role because he’s just not here enough to follow through on any of it. Sure, he steps up big time on the weekend where his fun parent role temporarily takes the back burner while I’m out running errands and he’s home alone with her but the majority of the time I’m just not her fun parent.

And, I’m totally okay with it.

I’m honored to have the privilege of not being the fun parent. I’m grateful to be responsible for her physical and emotional growth. I’m indebted to the universe for giving me the chance to parent this amazingly clever, darling and determined little girl who I love beyond words.

Not being the fun parent is actually pretty damn wonderful.

Is there a fun parent in your household?

 

 

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That time my kid needed an epi-pen & a few thoughts on parenting

Parenting is like putting together a giant puzzle. Once you’ve got the puzzle all neatly put together suddenly the pieces come apart and you’re left starting over. Am I right?

I had plans to write a post about saving money for today but then we had an incident and I felt like updating you on Margs instead.

Margs had an allergic reaction to what we suspect are blueberries this weekend.

Scariest moment of my parenting life so far.

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In hindsight, this is likely not the first time we’ve seen a blueberry reaction. If you follow me on Instagram I posted about Margs getting sick two weekends ago – after eating blueberries. At the time, I chalked it up to an upset tummy and didn’t think that there was a food allergy reaction to blame.

You see, my kid doesn’t react to blueberries the same way a kid with a peanut allergy reacts to peanuts. Instead, Margs gets really red in the face, vomits and then appears to be perfectly fine again.

This weekend after licking a blueberry, she got red in the face and projectile vomited and that’s when I realized that all those time she’d been “sick” were similar. Similar in the fact that she’d eaten blueberries right before the incident occurred.

Thankfully we had a routine pedi appointment yesterday where we discussed what happened with her doctor. Apparently, allergies can present with facial redness and vomiting. Who would have known.

We’re now armed with 2 epi-pens and a referral to see an allergist to get to the bottom of this.

There is  chance that  this was all a fluke but to be safe we’re having her tested. She’s fine with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries which is what raised a few question marks with her doctor.

Now,  back to the whole parenting is a puzzle thing.

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Apparently everything we’re doing with Margs is wrong. According to her pedi our sleep situation, feeding situation and play situation isn’t “ideal”.

I’m going to be brutally honest here- I was absolutely raging when I left the office yesterday. Despite her being super helpful with getting to the bottom of the allergy issue I felt like my doctor was criticizing my parenting choices.

On the drive home I rambled to Mer about how I feel like our doctor should be looking out for Margsy’s health rather than focusing on our parenting decisions.

In a nutshell her doctor says that we:

  • allow her to drink too much milk (she’s drinking approximately 24 oz of whole cows milk daily)
  • should stop allowing her to drink from bottles and start using sippy cups exclusively
  • stop using a pacifier altogether
  • let her cry it out and force her to sleep in her crib
  • force her to play independently for 180 minutes per day.

In a perfect world, my kid would sleep in her crib. Although I’m 100% on board with the idea that crib sleeping is the best – it’s just not our reality. Margs will scream for hours (we’ve tried), bang her head into the crib rails, try to climb out of her crib and eventually she’ll get so upset she’ll vomit. That is not ideal to us.

Have we missed the boat? Can you sleep train a 14 month old?

The rest of her suggestions seem crazy to me. I just feel like Margsy is just so so young. I cannot imagine taking her bottles away completely. She really enjoys her evening bottle – it’s part of her bed time routine.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this because I felt like an enormous failure when I walked out of that office yesterday.

My goals are simple: I want to have a happy and healthy kid which she is right now. She’s content (most of the time), eats well (most of the time), plays well (most of the time) and sleeps well (most of the time).

Perhaps our parenting choices don’t align perfectly with the “ideal” parenting methods suggested by our pedi but not all children fit the “mold” so to speak and I’m not sure how comfortable I am completely overthrowing Margs sense of normal right now.

So a few questions for you fine folks today if you don’t mind

Do you/did you take parenting advice from your doctor?

When did you wean your child/children from their bottles?

 

Struggling with narratives of #minimalism

It all started with 2 spatulas. Seriously.

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I did a bunch of food prep last Saturday. I made a huge batch of meatballs, chicken noodle soup, pizza rolls and lentil soup to try and make dinner prep easier for myself during the week. I posted some photos to instagram – if you don’t follow me there and would like to see what I’m up to on a more day to day basis feel free to follow me there.

So, back to those spatulas. I own 2. Does that make me less of a minimalist than say someone who owns 1? 

These are thoughts that legitimately started spiraling through my head as I stood there and used my spatula to pull pizza buns off of a baking sheet. One spatula for pizza buns and the other for meatballs. I suppose I could have washed one of the spatulas and reused it lessening my need to have a second. But, what if I like having 2 spatulas? What if although “unnecessary”, I enjoy using my two spatulas? What if those 2 spatulas make me more efficient by simplifying my life?

This sounds ridiculous. I know. But, it got me thinking about other things in my house. I have a few pairs of shoes, far less than most people but still more than I truly need. I mean technically don’t we only need one pair? What about pillows? Blankets? Baking dishes? On and on and on. I scraped those pizza rolls and meatballs off those trays all the while thinking all these revolving thoughts.

I told Mer that night and he laughed and said I think too much.

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I think the problem is that this minimalism movement has become incredibly trendy. How many times do you come across perfectly white living rooms with some sort of caption pointing to a minimalist way of life. How did a white aesthetic come to be associated with minimalism? Does my brown couch somehow make me less of a minimalist?

In my experience, popularity somehow drives competition. I came across a blog this week claiming that a “true” minimalist has only x number of shoes, pants, sweaters, kitchen gadgets etc. But, who has the authority to set those rules? When did being a minimalist involve comparing the quantity of my goods to yours? If that’s what minimalism has become I’m not sure I want to be part of it because that whole narrative makes me rather uncomfortable.

It’s all rather frustrating too because I’ve come to enjoy having less stuff – not because it makes me more of a minimalist than you but because I’ve learned to enjoy my life in ways that are not attached to the need to own things which was such a dominant part of my life before.

It’s also rather sad because living more minimally is truly a wonderful thing. I sometimes fear that the popularity of the movement and these minimalist narratives might discourage people from challenging themselves to live more minimally because “rules” tend to be inflexible and overwhelming.

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To me, minimalism is guided by two principles: intentionality and contentment.

Having less stuff means that I’m far more intentional about what items and objects get the privilege to occupy space and energy in my home. By consequence, I’m far more intentional about my choices which makes me far more content. I’m happier because the items that do surround me are important and have value (to me) – they have a purpose and I genuinely want them in my life (yes, my spatulas are included). Contentment comes from appreciating moments that were formerly clouded by consumerist chaos.

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Minimalism isn’t and shouldn’t be guided by “rules”. Instead, it should be guided by  the notion that by lessening the consumerist chaos in our lives (whatever that looks like) we are able to achieve our own individual definitions of contentment (whatever those are).

What does minimalism mean to you?

If you identify as a minimalist, what contentment do you derive from living with less?

 

 

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Blogger Recognition Award

When I spoke about my tiny piece of internet real estate last week I mentioned how humbled and shocked I was that anyone would take the time to read what I have to write. I’m even more shocked that I was nominated for a blog award! Me? A blog award – my gosh, I never ever thought that would happen. Ever.

My blog posts are often written in a hurry, during Margs’ naps or late at night in the dark while Mer and baby are snoozing. I write because it helps me keep my jumble of thoughts in order, I write because I love connecting with other like minded people and most importantly I write because I enjoy it.

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Thank you to Brandi from Our Little Ways for the lovely nomination. She’s a former math teacher like me (small world hunh?) and she writes a lovely blog with a ton of really interesting posts about frugal living. So, do check her out! Her blog is a wonderful read and has a bunch of delicious recipes too!

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have mentioned them and provide the link to the post you created.

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How my blog started:

I pretty much covered it when I wrote about my blog last week. But, in a nutshell I somehow wanted to create a space where I could write about parenting after loss and how we live a simple and frugal lifestyle despite the fact these topics are disjointed.

A couple of pieces of advice:

  1. Write about what you are passionate about because it’s the only way you’ll find your authentic voice. I really believe that authenticity brings value to the blogging world. I’m far more attracted to blogs where the writer has a voice and uses it. Write about what you are passionate about, enjoy and love. I can chat your ear off for hours talking about money saving ideas, frugal hacks and living simply which is why I write about it- I love love love these topics.
  2. Interact with your readers. I read every comment, email, Instagram message and tweet. Why? I believe that anyone who takes the time to send me a message (both positive or negative) deserves to be responded to. I love interacting with my readers and appreciate every single form of communication. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to read a blog, leave a thoughtful response and not ever be acknowledged for it. It kinda hurts really – I take shit personally that way. So, interact with your readers – respond, spark a conversation, communicate – that’s what this is all about right?

My nominations:

Here are the wonderful blogs I’m nominating for this award. I’ve also included a link to my favorite post they’ve written! Enjoy!

Happy reading folks! I’ll be back Thursday with a couple of thoughts on minimalism!

What is your favorite blog read these days? I’d love to add new blogs to my reader!

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