Parenting Confessions: A very long I Don't Give a Damn What You Say anymore

A recent conversation with some of my favorite local mamas got me thinking more about my own insecurities when it comes to my parenting "style." I usually think I don't have a style, per say, but my husband and I do make decisions and handle things a certain way. And that way is not always what we think is the most socially acceptable way. So what do we do? We tend to shrink away from the decisions we have made when we're in public, or with strangers. We make excuses. We hide things.

What are we hiding? Have we ever beat our son? Hell no. Do we starve him? No chance of that. Do we make him do weird rituals dating back to Incan society? Um, no. I've talked with more than one mama who has confessed to wanting to use the toddler leash, but the only thing stopping them are the barrage of comments they know they will get from other people. I've talked with mamas who aren't as open about the fact that they decided not to breastfeed their babies by choice, and also mamas who aren't as open about the fact that they are still breastfeeding their kids at age three. I've talked with mamas who I believe are perfect mamas--the ones who love their children and just do the best they can to survive and thrive and live happy lives--who hide little things like the fact that they once let their kids eat a Cheerio that fell on the floor for a few seconds (oh please).

Why are we so afraid to let others know about the choices we make in raising our child? It's peer pressure all over again. I think it stinks. And I, for one, am done making excuses for my perfectly acceptable, sane, loving parental desicions.

So here are my personal mama parenting confessions all at once, and judge as you like, but don't expect me to sit back quietly and take your "advice" for what you think is best. I'm the mama. Boo is MY son. I love him more than you do and that's all that matters and I shall hide my parenting style no longer in shame.

Parenting Confession #1: Boo still uses a pacifier.
Not all the time, but when he's in the car he HAS to have his "ba ba." Sometimes if we're out in public and he's cranky (usually my fault because I made him go run an errand with me when he's really tired or just doesn't want to--you know those times), I'll give him his ba ba. When he goes to sleep, he has his ba ba. My pediatrician keeps telling me to stop worrying about what other people think, that it doesn't hurt him more than sippy cups do right now, and he'll give it up on his own time. Yet, I feel the need to hide his ba ba. A retail clerk once told him "Time to lose the bink, kiddo" when she found out he was (then) 16 months. I wanted to tell her that he'd lose the bink whenever she lost that extra 70 pounds she was carrying and got a decent haircut.
Parenting confession #2: We let Boo eat junk food.
He has organic cookies, Goldfish, and those damn Gerber fruit chew things.
Parenting confession #3: We let Boo eat in the car.
That's right. He snacks away in his carseat. There are Goldfish all over the place and milk stains splattered throughout like a beautiful Jackson Pollock.
Parenting confession #4: We use disposable diapers.
That's right eco-friendly mamas. I'm contributing to landfills. You're wasting tons of water. If you use a diaper cleaning service you're also contributing to more air pollution. It's all even steven.
Parenting confession #5: We don't always sterilize his binky.
OK, we never do. We don't even always wash it with soap and water when it falls to the floor. The kid eats dirt for god's sake.
Parenting confession #6: We watch tv, and we let him watch morning tv sometimes and sometimes he watches DVDs. And yes, we're going to buy a DVD player for our long road trips and plane trips this summer and we're going to use them to keep everyone sane.
Parenting confession #7: My kid doesn't eat a lot of veggies.
He loves fruit. And carbs. And protein. Not veggies. And I've stopped battling it out to get him to eat veggies. We sneak them in where and when we can and don't stress about it.

I know there are more but that's all I have time for right now. I'm proud of the way I parent my son. I don't care if he doesn't sit the right way in his chair when we're in public. I don't care if he eats his lunch while playing at his train table. As long as he's not hurting anyone or himself, I'm happy. All I care about is that he is healthy, happy, and that I help him lovingly develop as a kind, safe, smiling human being. He always says his please and thank you's, and gives hugs and kisses freely--to me that's a sign that we're doing something right.

What are your parenting confessions?


Portland is the Best City to Have a Baby!!!

I knew I lived here for a reason! Fit Pregnancy magazine just came out with their rankings for best cities in which to have a baby, and my dear beloved great city of Portland, Oregon is ranked NUMBER ONE, BABY!!!! Check it out at www.fitpregnancy.com. Among the categories, we got the highest marks for breastfeeding (no surprise there), maternal and infant health risk, birthing options, stroller friendliness, access to doctors/hospitals and affordability.

Every city ranked in Texas is ranked at the bottom of the barrel in the Worst category for having kids...sorry my Texan friends. New York and Philly also rank toward the bottom. Where does your city rate, and do you think it's accurate?


Us time

So just when I'm bitching about not having any me time, a bunch of it just takes me by surprise. I got an invite for a fashion show so I invited some gal pals and today we met up for some girlie girl fashion show fun, then had a belated birthday lunch for one of the girls, and then we made a last minute decision to go shopping. It was beautiful. Five whole hours of me time with two of my favorite friends in the world. It was much needed. I think today's little random outing just recharged me for a couple more months! Or at least through the end of this week.

Last night hubby and I grabbed some us time and had ourselves a date night. The grandparents came over (and Boo was of course still awake when we got home...grrr...) and hubby and I had awesome wine flights and cheese at one of our favorite little wine bars. Then we had dinner at a little Italian restaurant. It was divine. I love my husband. Twelve years together and counting. He is the best.

We also got some super ultra quality time with Boo this weekend. He was Mr Hug all weekend long. He would just run up to us and hug us, or cuddle with us on the couch. He is the sweetest boy on the face of the earth. I love this age. He's cuddly and crazy fun at the same time.

Ah, the weekend. Ive been working like crazy the past few hours but it's all good. It was one of those weekends that just makes everything ok. Better. And tomorrow I hear the sun is supposed to come out again! Yippee! We miss you, old friend. Is it Spring yet?


Friday Photos

Words will come later. For now, here are some fun photos for Friday. Have a great weekend everyone!

Boo is signing that he's sleepy, but it looks like he's flipping us off...maybe he's doing both.

This is our dog/Boo's best pal. Isn't he pretty?

Boo being an airplane during his nighttime hyper mode:



Boo has his first TV crush/idol/mass marketed icon worship, and I can't believe it, but it's...Elmo, or "Melmo!" as Boo sometimes calls him. We don't know how this happened. He has never watched a single episode of Sesame Street on tv. Not one. Boo's first experience with Elmo was when my brother, known as "Uncle Present," came over with a Chicken Dance Elmo. Yes, he is that evil, but it's payback time now that he has his own son. But I digress. Boo, initially frightened by this freaky red creature in a bright yellow chicken suit doing the chicken dance, suddenly started calling Elmo "Baby" and hugging him. Then one day when we were in the children's DVD section of the library, Boo started pulling DVDs off the shelves to inspect them. Then all of a sudden I look up to see Boo's excited little face all lit up as he kept exclaiming "Melmo! Melmo!" and then thrusting three Sesame Street DVDs into my arms.

We watched the DVDs just a few times before returning them to the library. Boo has fallen in love with not only Elmo now, but also Big Bird, Grover, Zoe, and of course, Cookie Monster. We were at the bookstore last week and he went nuts over an Elmo Valentine's Day book. He loves to sit in his reading chair and flip through the pages, naming all of the characters as he goes from page to page. Still, to this day, he has never watched the television show. Yet whenever he sees Elmo, he lights up like he's seeing his best friend.

How did this happen? My only explanation is that the creators of Sesame Street are freakin' geniuses. They have created lovable, sweet, fun, happy characters that even toddlers are instantly drawn to. Then they mass marketed the hell out of it. I guess as far as television idols go, Boo could have done much worse.


Messy madness

OK ladies, we're pathetic. I've read all of the comments to my recent "Me time...??" post, and I have to say, while I am glad there are many others in the same position of ridiculously relishing any second of alone time as "Me" time, I think I was hoping some mom out there would have a magic potion we could all drink and miraculously have fabulous, true "me" time...alas, no potion. There were some great ideas there though on how to actually get some me time, which I greatly appreciate. Thanks everyone! At least we can commiserate together, right? :)

So besides lacking any real sort of "me" time lately, I've also lacked any sort of housecleaning time. Many of my friends have people who come and clean their houses every other week, but a) I'd rather spend that money on a really great dinner date or, say, fabulous shoes, and b) it really creeps me out to think of some stranger coming into my house going through every little nook and cranny. Not that we have anything to hide, but it gives me the willies.

So because I've been working nonstop literally every single second I am not watching Boo and not driving in my car, I haven't had time to clean the house. We have about six to eight people coming over for dinner tonight. I am not even going to try. At least they are people I know won't care. But it drives me nuts to have a messy house! I hate clutter, I hate knick knacks, so we don't have a lot of that stuff but there are toys everywhere and it's just dirty with dog hair, dust, crumbs, etc.

Listen to me whine. I'll stop now and maybe get back to work, which is driving me crazy too. Maybe it's the rain and grey days. Maybe it's PMS time. Maybe I just need to get a good night's sleep and hire a housecleaner once a month.

Happy weekend everyone!


Dear Abby

I hate forwarded crap emails. My friend T who now lives in the great state of Maine has made it her second hobby to forward me forwarded emails - I get one to three each week from her. This one has me in stitches. Nothing to do with motherhood...just a funny ha ha to help us all get through the hump day that is Wednesday.

"Dear Abby:

I am a crack dealer in New Jersey who has recently been diagnosed as a carrier of the HIV virus. My parents live in a suburb of Philadelphia and one of my sisters, who lives in Bensenville, is married to a transvestite. My father and mother have recently been arrested for growing and selling marijuana and are currently dependent on my other two sisterswho are prostitutes in Jersey City. I have two brothers. One is currently serving a non-parole life sentence in Attica for murder of a teenage boy in 1994. The other brother is currently being held in the Wellington Remand Center on charges of neglecting his three children.

I have recently become engaged to marry a former Thai prostitute who lives in the Bronx and, indeed, is still a part-time "working girl" in a brothel. Her time there is limited, however, as we hope to open our own brothel with her as the working manager. I am hoping my two sisters would be interested in joining our team. Although I would prefer them not to prostitute themselves, it would get them off the street, and, hopefully, the heroin.

My problem is this: I love my fiancée and look forward to bringing her into the family, and of course, I want to be totally honest with her.

Should I tell her about my cousin who voted for Bush?

Worried About My Reputation"


"Me" Time...??

What the hell is it and how do I get me some of that?

Tonight, as I was changing into my pjs (I get ready for bed really early, y'all), I was thinking to myself how nice it was that my hubby was hanging out with Boo and brushing his teeth, letting me have some "me" time. Then it hit me: THIS is "me" time? I was just getting ready for the night ahead! But alas, those two full minutes of solitude while performing monotonous everyday tasks is what constitutes as "me" time these days.

I feel like I've lost touch. What is "me" time for mamas? Is it just going out for drinks with the girls? Reading a good book? Getting a facial or, gasp!, having time to get a haircut? Help! Somehow "me" time has warped into the two minutes it takes to cut my toenails in peace, let alone go to the bathroom in peace (that hasn't happened in a loooong time). It's also become the five minutes I'm alone in the car after dropping Boo off to daycare and before I get out of the car to start work. But then that "me" time is often interrupted by the quick trip to the store to get the last oh-crap-we-need-this item, a phone call from a potential client, or a harried cleaning of the house because my skin is starting to crawl from the dust that has built up. Hence, bye bye random five minutes of "me" time.

What does "me" time mean for you? I need some better ideas, ladies.

Back to business

Not that I really stopped working last week, but now my husband is back at work and Boo is back to daycare, leaving me with a few hours to work uninterrupted. It's way too quiet in this house.

The services for Lola were wonderful and she would have approved. The huge family gathered and I am sure she was smiling on the familial laughter, smart ass remarks and the gorging we all did at the buffet. Family is fantastic; family is everything. My cousin T, his wife J and son Master S stayed at our place Saturday night. It was a wonderful time catching up with them. We hope to go visit the in Vancouver BC sometime before summer hits.

Boo had a rough week. Sick, tired, having to take real medicine for the first time and hating it, having his cousin over playing with his toys...yesterday my husband and I swore we saw the beginnings of the Terrible Twos. We're bracing ourselves for it. We hear it lasts for a couple of years. The Threes are supposed to be worse!

Back to normal. Back to the insanity that is our little world.


the laughing tide

thank you so much to all of you who have left comments and emailed me directly about the loss of our beloved lola. i haven't gotten around to thanking each of you personally yet, so please allow me to do so in one big group THANK YOU. your notes mean so much, really. this community is amazing, and it never ceases to amaze me. thank you. again and again.

the tides are turning and laughter is resuming in our household. boo is recovering well. turns out, he had the flu, an ear infection (his first ever - we feel very lucky) and possibly strep throat but we're treating the ear infection with amoxicillan which should bring down strep if he did have it. poor boo. really, he was feverish and lethargic for about a day. his fever lasted three days. but it felt like eternity. especially with everything else going on. our son just sitting in one spot staring into nothing, being quiet, not moving much -- it's way too freaky and unreal. but now he is back. our boo. singing and laughing and dancing and running and throwing and climbing. his appetite is coming back, his fever is gone, and he's making faces like nobody's business to see if he can make us laugh. it's good to have him back.

lola's funeral is tomorrow. tonight we went to her rosary reading. i am to do the first reading at the services tomorrow. i should probably read it at least once first. my mom is doing the eulogy; i am to go up there and finish if she cannot. that's a hefty weight to bear.

tonight after the rosary reading, we went back to my parents' house and it was like old times. cousins and aunts and uncles and kids everywhere, loud and laughing and singing and eating. there are many times when i wish we all lived closer. it is a nice feeling, that warm blanket of familia. boo had a great time tonight playing with his older cousins.

what a first week of 2006, huh? death, root canal, illness, and joy as my business takes off like i never expected it to, especially just in a few days. i wish i had time to really appreciate every emotion in the moment but then something else pulls me another direction, another emotion.

soon i will return to reading all of my favorite blogs and commenting again. very soon. i promise.


Sobbing sarcasm

I've told some friends that I'm going through alternating phases of sobbing and sarcasm throughout this odd day, and my great-grandmother would definitely have appreciated the latter much more. She would have thought it odd that I write about her for random strangers to read, but would have wanted to make sure I was at least writing good things. Maybe it's strange writing about something so personal in a blog. But that would make most blogs strange, and the world in which we live is strange enough without having to worry about how my writing is perceived. I really don't care. So with that, here is a photo of my little Boo to keep things balanced on this blog. He was feeling much better by the end of the day. Enjoy.


troubled and turbulent were the reeds
that whipped past her weathered face and hands
at a time when most should be dancing and playing with dolls
and worrying bout boys and dresses and parents
she was wading through rice fields
nimble hands
that could fix up a hand-rolled cigar
faster than most men of three times her size and ego

the love of her life eventually lost
her children, hers to raise
to grow, to love, to love, to love
to help them learn how to dream
when even their dreams escaped them at night

her tired eyes have witnessed more change than time
as she walked proudly from one century to
the next
vibrantly, with excessive strength and blinding courage
that weaved hundreds of souls together
in a colorful familial quilt of lives
intermingled sorrows, smiles, funerals, births
mixing dancing juggling she did
with our souls, our hearts, our destinies

she walked with our lives in the tiny palm of her hands

when she nodded, we would move forward
when she squinted her eyes and turned away in dismay
we followed her advice and discovered how wise
this seemingly fragile woman was
when she smiled, her light filled our hearts
when she laughed, the world was right and good and just

time stopped when she spoke

she knew more than hundreds of men with pedigrees and jets and jaguars
and she was richer than all
taller than all
more loved than the patron saints themselves combined

the matriarch
the goddess
the saint who swore and smoked and sassed
the believer in all of us, that good will prevail in our lives
despite the pain
despite the death
despite hers

she taught us how to be good, strong, free
she taught us how to love, laugh, live
she taught us how to be more than human
so that we may continue her teachings in our daily lives
so that she may live for a thousand centuries more

today we say goodbye to the body
but not to the soul
who lives forever in the fiber she has weaved together within us
and speaks softly with pride when winds blow
through reeds in rice fields to the
trees in the city
My great-grandmother passed away this morning. Just an hour after I picked up Boo from daycare because he had a fever. Just minutes after I picked up a print job and was emailing friends and clients and eating breakfast and drinking my morning coffee. It was today. How could she have left and I not known, not felt her leaving? We are that kind of family. We know. We feel. It's freaky. but today the call came and I had felt nothing. 102 she was. Boo's fever this morning was 102. He was lethargic and freaked me out but now he is fine and back to his normal self, still with fever but it's going down. His fever spiked about the time she reportedly died. Maybe he knew.

I don't know what to do right this second except write. I may not write again for a while, but then again perhaps I will write too much nonstop forever from now on since it is all that I know how to do in times like these. If I do either extreme, please forgive me. It is for me that I write and write.

Boo is singing again right now. He does that a lot these days. He sings everywhere we go. He's good at singing the tune of ABCs and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She used to sing to me, all the time. She raised me while my parents went to work. My whole life. Filled with her song. Does she know how much - how much? Last week the doc said she probably wouldn't live to see the New Year. You proved them wrong again, Lola. You always do. Now I hope you can rest and relax and smoke cigars up in heaven. I know you missed them these last few years. We'll be just fine, because we had you.