Posts filed under ‘Parenting’
If we truly have multiple lives, I must have been a lizard at one point. I absolutely love the sun. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than sitting out in direct sunlight soaking in those damaging rays. I remember in high school spending every day laying out by the pool. Oh, how I miss summer vacation…three months of no responsibility and no thoughts of wrinkles, sun spots or skin cancer.
To kick off our summer this year, my little guy, my man and I ventured out to a local lake last weekend for a day of sun, sand and swimming. We live a short drive away from a man-made lake, made from an old rock quarry, filled with water and fish and surrounded by a sandy beach. There’s even a dock with canoes and paddle boats for rent. It’s a great family spot for days when you just don’t feel like driving an hour to the actual ocean.
As I watched the boys engineer an irrigation system to carry water from their hand crafted pool down to the shoreline, I looked around at all the other families enjoying the 90 degree day by the lake. Parents were relaxing in the sun, while the kids splashed in the water, barbeques smoked and umbrellas danced in the wind. What a beautiful display of family togetherness and summertime fun, I thought… That was until I noticed a sign propped up near the water’s edge.
Tent signs, printed in a bold black and white, lined the beach as if to guard the water line. These signs depicted two black figures holding hands, one significantly larger than the other. Next to this outline of parent and child, stood bold black wording, glaring out at all lake patrons, instructing parents to actively watch their children. These signs caught my attention and shifted my focus for a moment. Instead of watching the engineering feat taking place next to me, I began to think about these signs and what they represented.
At first glance, one might feel comforted by these caution signs, pleased that the community would go out of their way to protect children. One might think, ‘Wow, what a great Park and Rec Department we have!’ Unfortunately I see something else in these friendly reminders.
I see the deterioration of families and parenting.
Are we really at the point were we need signs and public service announcements to instruct us on how to be parents?
I was immediately saddened by the thought that we now need some form of government or authority to remind us to actively watch our children. I thought that trait was naturally ingrained in every parent from the moment their child was brought into this world. Apparently I was wrong. As I looked around I noticed, some people do need instruction.
If we’re going to have signs instructing us how to be a parent, we might as well line our parks and playgrounds with the following signs as well…
No Blackberry’s, iPhones or PDAs – Play with your Children, They’re Only Little Once
Manners Matter – Please and Thank You Go a Long Way!
Patience is a Virtue – Wait Your Turn on the Slide Politely
Name Calling, Swearing & Teasing Prohibited
Sharing Makes Everyone Feel Good
and last but not least….
If You Think Parenting is Easy, You’re Doing it Wrong
It’s still strange for me to be included in the Mother’s Day Celebration. For so many years of my life, Mother’s Day was about spoiling my mom and grandma and not letting them lift a finger.
Even though this is my fifth Mother’s Day as a mom, it still feels wrong for me to be opening up cards and being pampered… and my ears still are not used to hearing “Happy Mother’s Day” from friends and family.
I wonder when I’ll finally feel like a distinguished member of the club?
Happy Mother’s Day
to all the wonderful
mothers out there!
If I could wave a magic wand and give myself three talents, they would have to be singing, dancing sober and cooking.
I would love to be able to whip up gourmet meals every day of the week and make homemade sauces and desserts to accompany my main course. Unfortunately being a working, single soccer mom with an active four-year old doesn’t really allow for such creations.
Okay, maybe it’s more that I lack the culinary skills… but I definitely lack the time to learn.
If you are like me, cooking dinner on a weeknight can be as stressful as your day at work. Around 5 o’clock in my house, you will find a pot of water about to boil over, burning garlic in the fry pan, a little boy in the background wanting to play with someone and an anxious mom in the kitchen trying to juggle it all!
Luckily, I came across something that has helped smooth out our weekday routine. I have found the Ultimate Single Mom Recipe! This dish is a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table and is guaranteed to please even the pickiest toddler palate. It has become my “go-to” meal whenever I find myself glazed over, standing in front of the open refrigerator door. Not only is it easy to cook, but it’s versatile too. You can pretty much add anything…sausage, peppers, chicken, tomatoes… I’ve even added some heavy cream to make the sauce a little thicker. Thanks to this recipe I can spend the end of a stressful day with a peaceful half hour of cooking and a nice meal with my little team!
(photo by: Romulo Yanes)
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 (10-ounces) packages frozen chopped broccoli (do not thaw) *You can also use fresh chopped broccoli
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving
- 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta *I also use penne pasta
With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop.
Cook garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli, water, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is very tender and almost all of liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.
Meanwhile, cook orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
Toss pasta with broccoli and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water. Season with salt and thin sauce with more cooking water if desired. Serve with cheese for sprinkling.
source: Epicurious.com - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Broccoli-with-Orecchiette-351170
Gourmet | January 2009
I am truly amazed by how much our lives are affected by timing. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, meet Mr. Right when you’re already married to Mr. Wrong or just happen to read a witty status update on Facebook that gets you through a really rough day. Lauren’s post on mylifeincomplete.com the other day, could not have come at a more perfect time.
As I’ve mentioned before, I recently found Lauren while winding through this intricate world of bloggers and really connected with her well written posts. We share a remarkable number of similarities and life experiences. In her recent post, Beautiful Blogger, Lauren explains how she received the Beautiful Blogger Award twice in one week – which I must add, is very well deserved!! She went on to say that by accepting the award she must pass the honor on to eight other deserving blogs.
As I read through the post, I just about fell out of my chair when I saw her first honoree was Single Soccer Mom at My 30′s! While the award has the look to be the beginnings of a blogging chain letter, I still am honored that Lauren, a beautiful, talented writer, would consider my blog in the same category!
Once again Lauren, you have inadvertently influenced my life. This last week or so, I have been wondering if I should continue blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and find joy in sharing my single mom struggles… but I do have very limited time in my already hectic Single Soccer Mom schedule to maintain a blog and continuously pump out new material. I just found myself asking, “Is this really worth the time and effort?”
Well, it looks one person thinks so… Thank you Lauren! I guess I’ll keep at this blogging thing for a little while longer
Passing the Torch
Now, onto bestowing the honors to another Beautiful Blog…
Since I am considerably new to the blogging community and am still trying to find my way through its elaborate web, I haven’t been following that many blogs yet. If I were to pass on the award, the winners would be automatically selected from the mere list of 4 or 5 blogs that I follow.
Therefore, I’ve decided to pass the award on to a blog that I feel every parent should visit at least once. This site did not win on aesthetics alone. I am giving Connected Parenting – The Blog the honor of Beautiful Blogger for the beautiful things it can do to your family.
I recently came across the blog and was intrigued by the subject matter. During a two-hour lunch break, I found myself wandering through a local bookstore in search of the book of the same name, Connected Parenting, by Jennifer Kolari. After reading just a few chapters and applying the techniques described within those pages, I have seen the bond between my little man and I blossom even more. While my son has never been a problem or difficult child, he has been known to throw a mean tantrum every now and then…especially after coming back from Dad’s house. I found being a ‘connected parent’ helps me stay calm during those situations and helps my son express what’s really going on beneath the incessant “No…I don’t wanna!”
Thank you Lauren and Connected Parenting for making my life more beautiful and giving me more things to blog about
Congratulations to the other winners…
Like a typical Grandmother, my mom is always complaining about not having enough pictures of her grandson. Now that we have digital cameras and photo sharing sites on the internet, who needs boxes of actual printed photos cluttering up much needed cabinet space? In an effort to be the good daughter, I thought that professional pictures would be a wonderful gift for ol’ Grandma. So, I hired a photographer to follow us around our favorite park.
Our photos came out great (Thanks Crystal!), and Grandma loved them of course, but the beautiful images captured much more than just our typical day at the park. They actually caught the unique, unbreakable bond shared between me and my little guy. A bond that deepens with every spontaneous hug or “I love you”, with every grab for my hand as we walk across the street and with each look of amazement when he learns something new.
My little guy and I are a team and we work and play together as one. We like to celebrate our success with High-Fives and shouts of “Good Teamwork!”, which can be seen anytime throughout our day: a flawless on-time morning, an efficient yet speedy clean up session or a great game of tag at the park.
My little man is my Number One. He always comes first, no matter what. He knows my world revolves around him, yet still understands - and respects – the Head Coach calls the shots.
This may come as a surprise, but I feel that my little guy would benefit more in life if we kept our team a two-some. Not to say that I don’t want to get remarried someday (maybe) but if I do, I think I am done having kids. I made the decision awhile back when my ex-husband moved in with his new girlfriend and her daughter. Luckily I have a decent relationship with my ex and his girlfriend, so the decision wasn’t made out of spite or jealousy.
My decision came out of pure love for my little man. I just tried to put myself in my son’s shoes; going back and forth between homes when his brother(s) and/or sister(s) got to stay put. I know I would feel like a visitor, or a temporary member of everyone’s little family. I decided that he may need someone to be there for him 100% and receive their full undivided attention. Due to his living situation, he may need to feel that he is the center of someone’s world, somewhere. So, I decided that someone and somewhere will be when he’s with me.
Awesome Little Team
I have been struggling with this decision for a while, especially now that I am in a serious relationship. I often wondered if I was being irrational, since everyone seemed so shocked to hear the reasoning that lead to my conclusion. I felt like I was all alone in a big yellow raft, floating in the ocean of single motherhood.
That was until I read a story about an Awesome Little Team.
I recently found Lauren’s blog, mylifeincomplete.com, among the sea of Single Mom links. Reading through her life experiences, I came across a post “Awesome Little Team” that brought me to tears. Literally. It was about her little awesome team and her decision to keep it a two-some.
I don’t know what it is about human nature that makes us search for others in similar situations and why we get such comfort knowing we are not alone. Whatever it is, I thank it for leading me to Lauren’s post. Thanks to her story, I now feel confident in my skills as a mother and my decision to keep another awesome little team intact.
Strict or Overprotective?
I grew up in a pretty strict household. Unlike some of my friends, I had to be sure to tell my parents where I was going, who was going to be there and when I would be back. I had the earliest curfew of the group and was always grounded the longest when we got caught.
My dad was also pretty overprotective of me. Especially when it came to school, finances and car repairs. Anything within in those three categories, dad was there to take care of it, ultimately to ensure I was headed in the right direction in life.
That was all fine and dandy until I moved away to college and was left to fend for myself. I was undeclared my first two years, spent $1000 a month on an ‘emergency only’ credit card and still had dad take care of the car repairs during visits home.
During my year of couples therapy, trying to rebuild (actually more like build) my marriage, I learned that one of my big pieces of baggage is not feeling good enough or competent in life. Hmmm… wonder where that comes from? Strange.
We All Need to Fall Sometime
It’s interesting to look at the parents of today and see how overprotective most are in all aspects of their children’s lives.
At the start of the summer, my son and I spent a day together at a local park, one that I used to visit as a child. The park is perfect for hot summer days, as it has a man-made creek bed, lined with rocks and boulders, that carries water from the hilltop down to the duck pond below.
Now in my day, you couldn’t get us kids out of that water. We would be soaking wet, jumping from rock to rock in our bare feet, all day long.
When my son and I visited, I thought perhaps the water was contaminated, as there wasn’t a single soul in that creek…not even somewhat near by. I scoured the park looking for brazen signs of danger, but didn’t see a thing. I figured, if there was some sort of health hazard in the water, they would have some sort of notification….since they sure seemed to have enough signs warning of the great environmental dangers caused by feeding the ducks!
So in we went!
Our entry into the water caused quite a commotion with the other children at the park. Immediately little heads turned and large eyes watched intently. The braver, or perhaps more defiant, children came running over to join us.
Two mothers instantly grabbed their children from the water and instructed them to return to their previous location.
One child was able to stay and play in the water until he decided to start walking along the rocks in his wet shoes.
“Johnny, let’s not do that…it’s dangerous. You could slip and fall.”
She was right. I’ll give that to her. But really? If we had that perspective on life, we wouldn’t step out the front door or even get out of bed for that matter.
School of Hard Knocks
Unfortunately, it appears our children are missing out on some important life lessons, ones that you need to learn on your own. Due to our overprotective nature, the poor children of today are not learning how to live, to take chances, or to make decisions on their own – good or bad.
Just look at some of the devices we have nowadays that help us ’protect’ our children;
- GPS Tracking Software on cellphones
- filters and blocks on T.V. and the internet
- email notifications when kids make a purchase with their debt card
Things have gone way beyond yelling from the front door “Mom, I’m going to Jen’s house to play with Gem & Barbie. I’ll be back for dinner.” These devices are telling our kids “I don’t trust you…I don’t think your competent enough to make a good decision…”
I know we’re all just trying to look out for our children and help them along in life… but I see now, first hand, what that can do to them in adulthood.
It’s disheartening to think we may be creating an entire generation of individuals who don’t know how to do things for themselves and are scared to try.
Wednesday was the first day of the last year of preschool. Next year it’s on to kindergarten… Then pretty soon, we’ll be packing up the car and heading off to some college dorm somewhere.
The day will soon come when I’ll be lucky to get a phone call, let alone an actual visit.
The other night, we read one of our favorite books, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. I seriously can not read that book without crying. This time I almost made it through to the end. Almost.
When we read the page about the teenager becoming a grown man and moving to his own house across town he said, “Why did he do that?”
I explained that some day, he too will grow up and want to move into his own house.
“But I’d never see you”
My heart melted.
I don’t know what it is about being a mom, but you just live for those brief moments of honest love and appreciation. Those out of the blue hugs or the random “I love you mom,” just seem to magically erase all the tantrums and time outs…and make the most difficult, yet rewarding, job even better!
I’m just now getting the phone call.
They just finished dinner and are on their way home.
“Good night sweetheart, I love you!”
As I hang up the phone, I take a deep breath, trying to reduce the anxiety I feel building in my chest.
It’s 9:15…he just ate dinner…and is now on his way home?
My ex and I have never been on the same page when it comes to Parenting. It was ONE of the factors that lead to our divorce. I won’t get into the mental abuse, controlling behaviors and serious family baggage that went along with our differences in parenting. A quick piece of advice for anyone looking to get married… TALK.
Before we got married, we never discussed things like Politics, Religion, Parenting styles or most importantly, Money. We figured that all that stuff would just work its self out somehow. Love would conquer all. Hah! Really people, pre-marital counseling. Look into it.
The differences in parenting styles are not only a problem when you are married, but becomes a huge source of anxiety, stress and sometimes anger when trying to co-parent.
When we first separated, I had a really hard time with the fact that my son’s world was significantly different when he spent time at his father’s house. Bedtime was different, rules were different and discipline seemed non-existent. I knew how much children need consistency and stability in life, especially when coming from a divorced household, and it killed me to see that he his two worlds were not aligned.
Had I not read, “Good Parenting through Your Divorce” by Mary Ellen Hannibal, I’m not sure where I would be now. Who knows, maybe I would be wearing a stylish white jacket with lots of straps and buckles and living in a bright white room with lots of padding. One of the chapters resonates in my brain and always reminds me that I can’t control what goes on over there. I can only do the best that I can when he is with me and let go of all the rest.
Believe me, it’s not easy. I struggle with it every day.
When I feel my chest tightening or hear myself saying “he’s doing what over there?” I take my deep cleansing breath and remind myself that I have a beautiful, smart little boy who has two parents that love him. So what if one is lets him watch Rated R movies and gives him Trix and Fruity Pebbles for breakfast…
Okay… Deep Breath…
Sitting at a small round pedestal, that my favorite caffeine distributor calls a table, I clickety-clacked away on my laptop. Since I was following up on work emails and not updating blog posts, my concentration was perhaps a bit lackadaisical, allowing my ears to wonder over to the table next to me.
“I think it’s because they’re working and don’t have the time… ”
“My child wouldn’t be putting their feet on the chair like that…”
“I don’t know why it’s different now than when we were raising kids… “
My ears perked up as I listened to the two older women chat beside me. I couldn’t help but listen. Not just because the ‘tables’ are so closely packed in, probably to prevent people like me from sitting there all day long and only paying $1.85 for free wifi, but the topic peaked my interest.
Over their cup of coffee, the two retired women were discussing parenthood and the differences between generations. Their focus was on a father and his two children enjoying their mid-day snack on the comfy purple couches in the corner of the store. The children were not the most well-mannered or behaved, but they also were not the worst I had seen either. The women went back and forth about how they didn’t understand the parents of today and how they are so lax on manners and discipline nowadays.
Right then, I had to interrupt.
“Um excuse me…I couldn’t help but hear…”
“I just wanted to let you know that I completely agree with you ladies!”
The two of them sat there for a moment, as if in shock. Their eyes widened and they stared at me for a few seconds, then looked as they had seen a ghost.
They were shocked to hear that I was a working mom with a 4 year old little boy that strongly believed in discipline, structure, respect and manners.
“My mom gave us discipline and structure and we would never think of disrespecting her in anyway. We loved her for it,” one woman shared.
“I was strict with my kids, they even called me ‘Mean Mom’ sometimes… but they’re all doing real well for themselves now,” the other chimed in.
I then shared my thought that it’s just easier for parents to not do all those things…so nowadays most don’t. They both agreed and said, “that’s completely it”
After bonding over a brief conversation about today’s parenting skills, or lack thereof, one woman turned to me and said something that has been echoing in my head ever since…
“You know you’re not the norm, Hun”
I sat there and recalled all the trips to the park, grocery stores and library.
In that split second I realized;
I am not the mom on her Blackberry sitting on the bench at the park…I am the one playing tag or hide-n-seek.
I am not the mom dealing with a screaming child at the grocery store…I am the one having my son count the apples as he puts them in the plastic bag.
I am not the mom using television or video games as a babysitter so I can get things done…I am the one coloring, painting or squishing playdoh in my hands and doing my chores on my time, not our time.
She is right. I am not the ‘norm.’
And I’m proud of it
photograph by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
When I make plans to do something,
I know better than to
give my boyfriend weeks of warning.
Instead, I wait until the last minute to spring them on him.
This weekend was no different.
I think it was Thursday when I mentioned, “Oh by the way, we’re going to the Circus on Sunday. I bought three tickets, so you’re welcome to join us or I can have an extra seat for my mom bag.”
This time he did a pretty good job accepting the news, although since I’ve known him for 10 years, I knew what was really going on behind those eyes…
“Can’t I just stay home, play video games and watch the baseball game?”
As the days go by, he’s getting more and more comfortable with the idea of kids, even though he doesn’t want to admit it. My single mom status was a difficult factor, in the beginning, but we both decided to move forward from friendship to relationship and just take things day by day. I made sure to slowly introduce him into the world I share with my son and vice versa, since I wanted it to be a smooth transition for both my guys. It’s great to see that they really have a fun time with each other, probably since they’re both 4 years old at heart.
Now, the Circus seemed like a good idea when I bought the tickets. Looking over the brochure I received in the mail, I was taken back to my first Circus as a child. I remembered being mesmorized by the constant entertainment and the plethra of animals. Aw, what a great experience to pass on to my child…sure I’ll support your alleged animal cruelty.
Well, my little boy seemed to enjoy the Circus, overall, despite the brief moments of crankiness brought on by the lulls in entertainment. A few times during the show, he did turn to me with these big wide eyes and open mouth, and said “That’s amazing.”
I’m not sure if it was a decrease in budget or things just seeming bigger and better when you’re a child, but this Circus was not ‘the Greatest Show on Earth’ that it claims. Most of the show seemed to be filler, just fluff added in to waste time in between acts. I’m a pretty good sport when it comes to childrens’ entertainment, so you know it’s bad when I’m bored and can’t wait to leave. Thankfully I bought the cheap seats, which were only $15. The same price, coincidentally, as the snow cones. Yes, that’s right… $15 for a freakin snow cone in a cheap plastic cup.
At one point in the show, I looked over at my boyfriend and found him hunched over in his chair, eyes glazed over, staring off into space. I tried to catch a quick shot of this classic pose on my camera, but just like an animal in the wild he was too quick for the shutter. He quickly turned and painted on a smile. What a trooper.