- This Is Not A Drill: Target’s Offering A Subscription Box For Baby Clothes
- Gun Owner Gives Up Semi-Automatic Rifle: ‘I Will Be The Change’
- Classmates Petition For JROTC Student ‘Hero’ To Receive Military Burial
- Calm Down About Grades — Harvard Says College Applicants Should Focus On This
- When Your Anxiety Means You’re Terrified — Of The Car
- This Is Why I Let My Kids Stay Up Past Their Bedtime
- News Flash: Husbands Are Not Children, So Let’s Raise The Bar A Bit
- How Giving Up On My Child’s Happiness Helped Me Find My Own
Posted: 19 Feb 2018 07:35 AM PST
Target’s Cat & Jack line announces baby clothes subscription box
Target is a treasure trove of adorable baby clothes. When you’re looking for a cute onesies for your baby to wear on the daily or a dapper diaper look for family photos, a run to Target will have what you’re looking for (and probably a couple things you didn’t even know you needed).
But as much as we all love a leisurely stroll pushing a red cart, getting out of the house to go shopping with an infant isn’t always easy. So Target’s Cat & Jack line came up with the perfect solution: a new baby outfit subscription box.
For $40 a box (subscribing for a year’s worth of boxes saves 5%) the Cat & Jack baby outfit subscription box gives you 6-7 pieces of clothing in your baby’s size, plus a surprise gift. The boxes are available in size newborn through 24 months. If something isn’t a perfect fit, no worries — you can return it. The clothing is shipped seasonally, so when warm weather finally hits you’ll already have cute short sleeved outfits on standby.
Babies grow like weeds. It’s easy to reach for a onesie after a bath only to realize the snaps won’t connect under the diapers. So it’s pretty genius that Cat & Jack’s subscription box automatically sends you clothes aligned with your child’s age throughout the year. This way you’re not trying to squeeze your infant into pants that are two sizes too small just so you can go out to the store to buy new ones. It’s also pretty fun that the subscription box pieces are all ones that haven’t been released in stores yet. Sure, the most exciting place your baby goes is to the pediatrician, but they’ll be the best dressed kid in the waiting room.
“Get ready for a little bit of everything,” says the website of the new subscription boxes. “Our designers curated their favorite items of the season, making it super easy to style your little sweetie. From bodysuits & baby leggings to delightful rompers, all soft, comfy & perfect for snuggling. There's even a sweet surprise to complete any outfit. Enjoy this special collection and consider reusing the box for storing baby clothes, diapers, and even those memorable keepsakes.”
Including a reusable box is a nice touch, because for such a small creature, babies have so much stuff to store. And we love how you can buy just a single box as a quick way to refresh your baby’s clothing stockpile (or give a kickass shower gift). You can also change the size of clothing you receive using your online Target account or opt to skip a season’s box (in case Grandma goes a little overboard in the clothing department during the holidays).
Quantities on the Cat & Jack subscription boxes are limited, so if getting cute baby clothes without having to get in the car and shop for them sounds like heaven to you, then jump on it. We only have one question — when will we see a subscription box like this from Target in our sizes?
Posted: 19 Feb 2018 07:14 AM PST
This man giving up his gun sends a powerful message
With the most recent school shooting (sadly, the 18th of 2018), a lot of Americans want to do something. What that means for most of us is posting a meme on Facebook or debating with a friend, or stranger, the frustration over the lack of action being taken about guns in our country and why we so desperately need gun control.
But one Florida man decided he’d had enough. Ben Dickmann, a 40-year-old gun owner who enjoys going to the shooting range and practicing firing his AR-57 semi-automatic rifle at targets, decided enough is enough.
After the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Dickmann decided the rifle he loved so much wasn’t necessary anymore.
“I'm putting my money where my mouth is,” Dickmann wrote about his earlier Facebook post. “This is an AR-FiveSeven, I own this rifle.” Then, he went on to say he doesn’t actually need it.
“No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle. This rifle is not a ‘tool’ I have use for.” He said he’s enjoyed shooting his gun in the past but it doesn’t have the same appeal as it once did.
And so, Dickmann decided to surrender it to the Broward Sheriff department. “I could have easily sold this rifle, but no person needs this,” he continued. “I will be the change I want to see in this world. If our law makers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example.”
Dickmann has decided to stand up for exactly what he believes in. And he verbalized what so many of us feel. “I don't want my friends to worry about sending their kids to school (or worry about my wife doing any one of her countless high school visits as part of her job). I don't want my pastor friends to worry about the congregations during worship. I don't want my concert touring family to worry their events. NONE OF THESE PLACES/PEOPLE SHOULD NEED TO WORRY ABOUT BEING THE SITE OF MASS VIOLANCE BY FIREARMS.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
“I am member of probably the second-most vilified demographic in the country currently (If you didn't know, I'm a conservative leaning, gun-owning, middle-aged, financially stable white male),” Dickmann said. “Within this demographic I'm probably in the minority, but maybe more like me will stand up, because I'm sorry, until my demographic gets behind this, nothing will change.”
He closes his post by calling out our government to put their money where their mouth is. “If our law makers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example.”
Posted: 19 Feb 2018 06:50 AM PST
Classmates asked White House for military burial for Peter Wang
Peter Wang spent the last moments of his life protecting classmates and teachers during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week. Now his fellow students are petitioning so the 15-year-old hero can have a military burial.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of shooting and killing 17 people with a semiautomatic rifle at the Florida high school. Wang, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman, held open a door so classmates and teachers could escape the rampage before him. “He was pointing the door open for other people to escape and then he was struck by the bullets,” classmate and friend Aiden Ortiz told WPLG. “I want people to know he died a hero,” the teen explained. “He died saving many people.”
Wang, who dreamed of attending West Point military academy, was a member of the school’s U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. Wang was wearing his JROTC uniform on Wednesday when the mass shooting occurred. “He is so brave. He is the person who is genuinely kind to everyone. He doesn't care about popularity,” Lin Chen, Wang’s cousin, told the Sun Sentinel. “He always liked to cheer people up. He is like the big brother everyone wished they had.” Wang leaves behind his parents and two younger brothers, ages 11 and 5.
Wang’s classmates are sure that there would have been more lives lost during the massacre had their friend not been so brave. To honor his sacrifice, they have filed a petition with the White House on the “We the People” site asking for a military burial with honors. It’s a way to note Wang’s efforts to serve and protect and would include a special ceremony with a flag presentation. The petition needs more than 86,000 signatures and currently has more than 17,000. Hopefully, the U.S. government will provide this small show of gratitude even without the signatures since Wang lost his life while saving others.
As more details emerge, we’re learning that the students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman did everything they could to help each other during the horrific rampage. Assistant football coach and security guard Aaron Feis lost his life like Wang – while shielding others from the gunfire. Geography teacher Scott Beigel and athletic director Chris Hixon were both killed as they protected students. In the days following the shooting, we’ve also learned these student-victims will force America to enact the gun reform it so desperately needs.
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” explained Marjory Stoneman student Emma Gonzalez. “Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
Posted: 18 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST
It never lets up in parenting, does it? One minute we are potty-training them and the next they’re graduating. And neither is easy. Ask any parent of a high schooler and they’ll probably say that preparing for college is exhausting, both mentally and financially.Are they taking enough AP classes? What about that one B- in Physics? Will that do him in? Should she take both the SAT and ACT? How about test prep classes? Are they necessary? Do they help? Can we afford them?
But, unfortunately, what gets lost in all of this focus on grades and tests and transcripts is this: What kind of people are we raising? Are they good? Kind? Will they contribute to society in a meaningful way or are they just douchebags with straight As?
Well, colleges around the country are (finally) realizing that this last part—a person’s character—should be part of the admission process, just as much as a test score.
A report entitled Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions, was released in January by Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In it, lead author Richard Weissbourd highlights many important, yet often overlooked, elements of a student’s college application.
The reports suggests that colleges should be asking if applicants are good citizens and contribute in meaningful ways to their families and to the greater good. Weissbourd and his team suggest that colleges make more room for these pieces of the puzzle—even if it means fewer spaces for AP courses or test scores.
“The admissions process should both clearly signal that concern for others and the common good are highly valued in admissions and describe what kinds of service, contributions and engagement are most likely to lead to responsible work, caring relationships and ethical citizenship,” the report states.
So along with academic achievements, applicants should talk about how they are good citizens—if they volunteer, help at church, babysit younger siblings, or help care for an elderly grandparent. Colleges, this report tells us, should want to know these things. Because merely churning out graduating class after graduating class of overachievers with no concept of philanthropy or family values doesn’t look good for the future of America.
Another element discussed here is that when colleges focus solely on academics, the playing field isn’t fair. Affluent, privileged students are more likely to have the grades and test scores, having come from a place of advantage. But what about John in the next town over? John, who is smart and capable, but rather than join math league, works at a part-time job after school to buy groceries for his family? Doesn’t he deserve the same opportunity? More and more colleges are saying yes.
Weissbourd’s report makes several suggestions of where admissions applications should increase their focus, including the areas of service and responsibility. Students should engage in “meaningful, sustained community service,” the report suggests—involving themselves in projects that last at least a year long. Rather than doing an obligatory hour or two of community work, just to check a college application checklist, Harvard’s report is saying no. Get in there. Get your hands dirty. Get invested and make it mean something to you.
Another suggested change is that applicants “prioritize quality—not quantity—of activities.” This report seeks to change the need many students feel to fill all the blanks. Instead, they say, maybe you only play one sport or join one club. Write about what it meant to you, how you grew as a person, learned to be a leader, and value teamwork and camaraderie.
The key, however, is to get the majority of colleges on board. If most universities remain steadfast in their focus on a laundry list of grades, test scores, and extra-curricular activities, then this new focus on character and citizenship won’t matter. But if schools band together and say “we are all doing this,” the system will work and our society as a whole will benefit.
Since Harvard’s Graduate School of Education generated the report, we can assume Harvard is on board. But according to The Washington Post, so are Yale and the University of Virginia, among others. And hopefully this change in the admission process will continue to spread throughout institutions nationwide.
As a parent who will be entering the minefield of college applications in about seven years, I hope this trend continues. I want my kids to succeed. Be smart. Get the grades and do all of the things. I want their applications stacked with good stuff, I really do.
But they need to be good people more than anything else. They need to care. I don’t give a shit about their AP calculus grade if they don’t help an elderly woman carry her groceries. I don’t care if they score the winning basket and make the play-offs if they aren’t kind to their siblings.
I’m glad colleges are recognizing the importance of citizenship and moral character when they consider applicants—it’s about time.
Posted: 18 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST
I was nine months pregnant with my first son, and my worst nightmare almost came true. On a quiet Sunday night in December, my husband had gone out to grab some staples from the grocery store. Suddenly, from the wrong direction, a drunk driver nearly slammed into small Honda, swerved at the last minute, and hit a hedge instead. Then the driver began backing up — straight into Chris, who floored it into reverse just in time. The driver was picked up and arrested. Chris was shaken. Upon hearing the story, I crumpled to the floor and wept.
Because this is the Big Fear. The deep fear, the one that the lives in the gut of most of us with an anxiety disorder.
I’m terrified of cars — and I suspect I know I’m not the only one. Sure, we drive. We let our loved ones drive. But there's always that moment of wrenching fear, of nightmare we swallow in a strained "be careful" and one more "I love you." That "I love you" we mouth, thinking it might be the last. We watch our loved ones walk out the door, greedy for a last glimpse.
And if they don't come home on time, we panic. We begin making calls. If the calls go unanswered, the panic seeps in, drops down, twines through our guts and our brains. We see them dead on the side of the highway. And not just dead, we see specific, horrific images: the monotonous flash of police lights, red and blue, red and blue. The slump over the airbag. I always imagine, if my husband has my children with him, their tiny shoes discarded in the high green grass of a forgotten median.
By the time our loved ones walk in late, harried from traffic and late work meetings, we may be shaking with fear. We may greet them with blissfully deflating relief, or a sudden storm of tears, or inchoate rage.
Because cars are fucking terrifying.
Our hearts know this because our heads know this. You are more likely to die in a car crash than an air crash, than a terrorist attack, than an assault. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports a loss of 32,675 people to car crashes in the United States in 2014 — nearly a third of them related to alcohol. A staggering 2.34 million people were injured in wrecks. In 2012, 2.5 million people went to the emergency room — and then 200,000 were hospitalized — for crash injuries, says the CDC. Those of us with anxiety know these statistics. They terrify us. They flash before us every time we say goodbye to our loved ones, every time we strap our babies into their car seats.
We are the ones that double-check our mirrors, then glance behind us to ensure no one's next to us before we change lanes. We are the ones who refuse to change the song on Spotify until we hit a red light. High speeds might scare us, especially those of us in states where the posted 70 mph limit is mostly a suggestion. We do not hand things back to our kids, or stretch or bend or rummage through our purses on the interstate. We may be car seat fanatics (just ask me about my rear-facing four-year-old!).
We do all these things because they are things we can control. We can make sure that the kids' seat straps are not twisted. We can refuse to text while the car is moving. We can refrain from dialing our phones, check three times before we enter the traffic circle, drive slow on the interstate on-ramp. These are talismans against the things we cannot control, which is every fucking other thing.
My friend's car was slammed by a drunk driver at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. Someone almost merged into me on the interstate yesterday. A car almost turned into my husband on his way home from work. It would have barreled into the driver's side. We cannot control these things. We cannot stop them from happening unless we stop everyone we love from ever getting into a motor vehicle. And it's that lack of control, in the end, that terrifies us. It's the feeling that we, or the people we love, could die at any moment and there is nothing we can do about it.
So how do we cope?
First, we have to realize that this is not a fear of cars. This is a fear of losing control. This is a fear that we can't fix or predict or plan everything in our lives. It's a fear of unpredictable loss, which is terrifying. Those are the fears we need to work with, not the worries about some shiny metallic thing barreling down the highway. Then we need to work on relinquishing control — perhaps with the help of a good therapist.
Dr. Amy Johnsons recommends that we practice the art of surrender: that we recognize the universe is an inherently friendly place, and that we realize letting go of fear would feel like freedom. Others recommend things like using imagery; writing down what presence (being in the moment) means to you; grounding yourself, because fear means living in the future and doing things like taking a walk or connecting with a friend brings you back to the present; using affirmations; reaching out for support; and realizing you are not alone.
You are not alone. I can only promise you, that when it comes to channeling your anxiety into fear about motor vehicles, you are not alone. And I think all of us, including me, can start there.
Posted: 18 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST
My living room is a straight-up ruckus. My kids are shrieking with laughter, hopping and tumbling gleefully, darting out of the reach of their dad – who looks to be having a pretty good time himself. When I dreamed of having a family of my own, this was the type of bonding I envisioned (okay, maybe not quite this loud, but whatever). I observe from the entryway, laughing along with them, my heart swelling with that overwhelming love that only a mother watching her family can know.
There's only one problem with this scenario: it's 8:45 on a school night, and most of them were supposed to be in bed fifteen minutes ago.
This wouldn't be as big an issue if my kids were older, but they're not – my youngest is just in kindergarten, and my oldest is twelve – and I'm a stickler for keeping them on a regular sleep schedule. I know how important a good night's sleep is (and how cranky they are in the mornings if they don't get it). But how does that importance measure up to the importance of quality time? Because it seems like bedtime is one of the best chances to squeeze some of that in: it’s like a magic window to their world, those precious few moments when they open up and the good stuff happens.
Everybody with kids knows that they're champions at stalling sleep. When I go to tuck mine in, suddenly they're "thirsty" or "hungry" (I call B.S. on both claims) or forgot to do something critically important that just can't wait until morning. This used to annoy me to no end, until I realized that their desire to prolong wakefulness also makes them extra receptive to having a conversation. The same clammed-up children that answer "fine" when I ask, "How was your day?" are suddenly happy to provide an hour-by-hour recount of what went on to school.
They'll do anything to keep from going to sleep, from silly, lighthearted chats to surprisingly profound conversations. They describe new ideas, wild and farfetched, and I marvel at the depth and scope of their imaginations. They whisper insecurities into the darkness, where it seems somehow easier to say hard things: unloading problems that are bothering them, providing opportunities to talk about deeper topics like bullying and peer pressure and self-worth.
During these times, nobody is distracted and there's nothing competing for our attention. No one is concentrating on anything else but what's happening, and no faces are buried in screens. I can run my fingers through their feathery hair, the way I did when they were still babies and I was the center of their universe. They can hold my hand and stroke my arm, or put their heads in my lap, and know that they have my undivided attention.
Or they can wrestle and pounce and roll around with their dad, bonding in the special way they do.
No matter what it consists of, it allows us to be together, if only for a few minutes, in a way that means so much more than hours spent side-by-side but absorbed in our own activities.
As they get older, and more involved with extracurricular activities and games and friends, I feel like we get less and less time to truly connect. Not even bedtime bonding works every single night. But when it does, I jump at the chance. They need their sleep, for sure, but I believe that fostering your closest relationships is as vital to good health as sleep is – and if that means getting a half-hour less of shut eye a couple times a week, it's a small price to pay. So I let them stay up past their designated sleep time, because it helps far more than it hurts.
They think they're tricking me into a later bedtime, and I let them keep thinking it. Because what they don't know is actually doing them – and their parents – a whole lot of good.
Posted: 18 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST
I ran across a blog post this week written by a woman who was tired of having to ask her husband to do things around the house. It's not the first such post I've read and it won't be the last. It's a runnning joke among women to complain about our husbands being an additional child for us to take care of.
I have friends who can’t go out for a girls night without getting 57 text messages asking where the diapers are and how to boil pasta and which pajamas are for which child. I know a fellow mom who, when her kids were infants, got up early with them every single weekend while her husband slept in. How did this become the status quo?
I think part of it has to do with the fact that we are generally more apt to discuss the negative with our friends, and the public at large, than we are the positive. Women are willing and eager to jump at the chance to lament the annoying things their husbands have done. We can bond with any woman on the Target checkout line with a rolled eye and an exasperated "Men…."
We are much less inclined to dish about the wonderful things our husbands do. And I get it. No one likes a bragger. But by solely looking at the negative, we leave out the positive examples toward which we can strive, focusing only on setting incredibly low hurdle bars for our partners to clear. It becomes a mentality of "well, at least my husband doesn't ___ like Ann's does," or "at least my guy is more ____ than Sally's."
Because let’s all be honest, we play the comparison game. It's only human. And it's fine to vent and dish the annoying crap; its cathartic and necessary. But let's balance it out with some of the positive so the conversation can shift a little toward a realization that men are not children and we should hold them to an adult standard.
Fellas are just as capable at doing all of the household chores and child-rearing as us ladies. There I said it. The cat is out of the bag. They are supposed to be our partners, not our employees. You are not their boss and you shouldn't have to direct them and give them to-do lists. They have eyes and you are not their Mommy.
Dishes in the sink? Grab a sponge, Bill.
Laundry piling sky high? You know where the machine is, Tom.
Baby stink like a dumpster fire? Grab some wipes and roll up your sleeves, Ted.
Let them figure out how to get shit done without you. If they are out of practice, just stop doing some stuff. They will notice. And when they come to you crying, "But babe, why isn't the wash done? I have no clean underwear!" Give them a confused look and say, "Oh man. Let me check the calendar. I'm pretty sure I did the wash the last 635 times so I thought this was your week."
If you're setting the bar super low, you can't be too surprised when the hubs is letting himself coast. If every time he changes a diaper or you come home to clean dishes, you act like the guy has just cured cancer, then he's being conditioned to think that he is rocking the partner game. If his getting up one morning and taking the kids downstairs so you can sleep elicits tears of pride and joy from you and he is crowned the best guy ever, then don't be surprised when he thinks he is doing you a grand favor. He's not. That's that low bar again.
I know men are capable because my husband is actually rocking the partner game. And I'm not saying this as a brag. He's not perfect. He's not a mystical dreamboat (I mean I find him pretty dreamy, but I sleep with him so I probably should). I do my fair share of eye rolling and exasperated sighing. We have fights and things we absolutely don't jive on. But it's never about someone's fair share of work. We don't keep track. I don't have to tell him to do anything. He's a grown ass man and I am not his Mommy. When I go out, I will never get a call asking how to do something. He either knows or will figure it out. Because that's what grown-ups do. And while I show appreciation for all he does, just as he does for me, he doesn't get brownie points every time he does a load of laundry or cleans the stove.
Aside from the fact that we are all too exhausted from the kids, we shouldn’t have to be adopting hairy 30- and 40-year-old man babies; we've got little eyes watching us all the time. If you are a woman who is teaching her sons and daughters about current events in our country, about gender equality, about the empowerment of women, you have to have these same virtues reflected in your home for any of that to sink in. My kids don't know about things like "women's work." Sure, they know that if a pipe needs to be fixed, that's a complaint for Daddy, and if a hole needs to be mended, go find Mom. But that's more because of our specific skills and talents than it is about what's between our legs.
They see Mom cook dinner every single night. But then they see Dad clean it up every single night. They know that Mom is more likely to get up at night to deal with bad dreams and bloody noses, but Dad is more likely to tell them to let Mommy sleep in the morning and take them downstairs to eat and play. They see me do most of the vacuuming and dusting, but I rarely do any laundry. I get my daughter up for school every morning and get her ready, but it's not me that makes her lunch every day. This house and these kids are not just mine. They were made by and are tended to by both adults in this house.
So ladies, unless your husband gets down on his knees to praise every dish you wash and diaper you change, please stop sending in the ticker tape parade every time he does the same. And to those of you who have husbands who are already doing 50% of the work as they should, tell your friends. There is no shame in it. We are loosey goosey with our husbands' annoying habits, so let's provide some balance.
Maybe word will get around that we can expect more from these fellas. They can be pretty awesome when given the chance.
Posted: 18 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST
I was at a one-year-old's birthday party with some friends from my college days, when one of them posed a perfectly innocent question.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
"It's really hard," I replied, surprised to hear my voice quivering and feel tears welling up in my eyes, "when I just can't seem to make my baby happy."
He looked at me skeptically. "It's not your job to make him happy," he said.
I scoffed at my childfree-by-choice friend in my head. What did he know? He didn't have kids or even want them.
How could I not feel responsible for my four-month-old's happiness? Perhaps it was because I had spent so many years – and endured numerous fertility treatments – desperately wanting to be a mother. Maybe it was the not-so-subtle hints I got glancing at the titles of popular parenting books: The Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, or Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five.
Or was it just Americans' well-known obsession with being happy that was somehow deeply rooted in my subconscious?
According to Jennifer Senior's 2014 book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting, parents today are confused about what role they should play in their children's lives. We've outsourced many of the former jobs that parents used to provide for their offspring: schools teach them math, history and job skills; doctors provide medical care; and the agricultural industry grows their food. What purpose is left for modern parents?
As a first-time mom of a very fussy baby, I was still trying to define what motherhood meant to me – and the simplest task I could identify was making my son happy.
Colicky, challenging, spirited – these are the words I could have used to described my son. Experts say that colic – excessive crying – lasts only for the first three months of an infant's life. But my son apparently didn't get that memo. Until he was 15 months old, he would still cry for a half-hour a day for no real reason.
He hated being put into the car seat, but hated getting taken out of it; he hated having his face washed and his diaper changed; he hated not being held, but was still cranky in my arms. Yes, he smiled at us, laughed and played at times – but overall, he just didn't seem terribly happy. He was definitely not the happiest baby on the block, and I was pretty miserable myself.
When my son turned eight months old, I had my first inkling that perhaps my childless college friend was right. My son had been born with blocked tear ducts that were not clearing up on their own. In order to open them up, a doctor had to plunge stainless steel rods through his ducts while a team of nurses held his head in place and his arms down. It was not a particularly painful treatment, the doctor told me – but it was very scary for him. I could tell from his screams during the procedure (parents were not allowed in the room) and the way he clung to me when we were reunited.
"How did you make sure he wasn't traumatized for life?" my mom asked when I described the treatment to her over the phone.
I felt horrible about the fear and stress he had endured, and my mother's words only made me feel worse. I had failed to protect my son from this experience; no wonder I couldn't make him happy in his daily life.
I vented about my guilt and sadness over the procedure to a free therapist-facilitated mothers' group that I attended weekly.
"A parent's job isn't to protect your child from negative experiences and emotions," the therapist told me. "A parent's job is to guide children through those negative experiences, so they can eventually work through them on their own."
A light bulb went off in my head; I had found the purpose of my motherhood. My goal in parenting shouldn't be to simply stop my son's crying and make him happy, like so many book titles suggest. Instead, my mission became to make my son resilient – a concept becoming more popular in psychology and parenting circles to describe the ability to weather all the hardships life can throw at you.
Focusing on building my son's adaptability entirely changed my parenting – and my mental state. Teaching resilience helped me survive his transition to toddlerhood, showing him that he doesn't always get what he wants and that we have to do things we don't like sometimes, like changing diapers, getting in and out of the car, or going to the doctor.
My new parenting aim also enabled me to re-prioritize my needs. My son might want me to be his 24-7 playmate, but I had to teach him that Mommy needs 15 minutes to scarf down her dinner. I even gathered the courage to put him in part-time daycare – and lovingly support him through the accompanying separation anxiety – to give myself a break from the strain of being a stay-at-home mom and pursue my passion in environmental communications. Having just two days a week to focus on writing articles and press releases – rather than obsessing over temper tantrums and naps – left me refreshed and more patient with my son.
I was beginning to feel like a whole person again and a pretty good mom – a mom who was teaching her son important life lessons of resilience. I was happy – even if my son was not always "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" (yep, that's another parenting book title).
One morning, when my son was two, we were driving home from getting groceries.
"Mommy, Daddy was a boy and now he a man?" he asked, reflecting his recent interest in human developmental stages.
"Yes, honey," I replied.
"And I a boy now and then I be a man?" he continued.
"Yes, that's correct."
"Ahhh, I don't want to be a man," he whined. "I want to be a boy forever!"
"Why do you want to be a little boy forever?" I asked.
"Because I love it," he said.
It turns out that despite my concerns and hand-wringing, my cranky little boy was happy after all. Probably because I was finally happy, too.
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