It’s Easier to Raise Assholes

Now that Kennedy is two, we are facing the extreme challenge that this phase brings. The tantrums, the testing and pushing of Kennedy cryingboundaries, the stubbornness, the random tears, and the opinions that are coming out of nowhere regarding clothes, food, books, and even parental preferences.

My first instinct is to just give her whatever she wants so she will:

  1. Stop crying
  2. Stop screaming
  3. Smile and be happy
  4. Love me best

But then I flash forward to when she is 16 and realize that whatever I do now will influence who she is in the years to come. Now is when she is learning her boundaries, determining what she can and cannot do, and how consistent the answer(s) is to her behavior.

Right now, she is figuring out her world, learning the rules and attitudes we practice in this particular house, discovering what she can count on time after time, and determining her likes, dislikes, preferences, and individual personality.

If I give in to her simply because it is easier, I will have a long road to travel when those tantrums and demands go from toys and videos to playdates and school…from pizza and French fries to makeup and low-rise jeans…from circles of friends and dating to drinking and drugs.

See, I believe everything builds on what we do today. Give in even two out of five times and she will always push, thinking that THIS time may be one of the two times.

Don’t teach her consequences today, and tomorrow she will lead a consequence-free life, which we all know is the farthest thing from the truth.

Better to teach her that hitting equals no Jungle Book, then have her discover that drinking at 14 leads to risky decisions, getting arrested, or, God forbid, worse.

Lest you think I’m overexaggerating the point, think of a 16-year-old you know that is an asshole. Did they wake up that way? Did you know them at 10? How were they then? How about at 6? Or 4? Now picture them at two.

Tantrums and sass at two is darling…but at 16? An asshole.

Yes, it would be so much easier to raise an asshole…but we already have too many of them in the world as it is. I’ll stick to discipline, consequences, snuggles, and creating a safe, consistent home Kennedy can count on.

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My 18-Month Labor

Every time I read something about the joys of motherhood that focuses on the pregnancy as much as the precious first few K babydays, weeks, and months, a little piece of me cringes. After years of trying to conceive, we were faced with the decision to go down a complicated path that would put us in a more advantageous position to possibly conceive (an iffy proposition at best), or we could adopt and know we’d definitely have a child.

We chose adoption…and we’ve never looked back.

Yet the vast majority of endearing blogs and articles on motherhood stress the pregnancy part. The feeling of the baby kick, the months of waiting, the breastfeeding once the baby is born.

So, for all my fellow mothers who had a baby through adoption, here is your blog. Here is the list of experiences that finally we can relate to. Here is our testament to the determination to takes to have a baby.

  1. Poking and Prodding. The joy and anticipation of holding that bundle of joy is preceded by the most invasive list of conditions known to man. First there are the exams…physical, mental/emotional, and even financial. Next comes the fingerprints (local, state, and federal) and FBI background checks. After that comes the home visits from the social worker, then child services—who wants to check that you have (of all things) the right kind of locks on your doors—and finally the fire department, who wants to see your fire escape plan from every room in the house, as well as the 50,000 fire extinguishers and escape ladder that are mandatory.
  2. A Picture is Worth... As you present your life story in one 20-page picture, all you can do is hope you picked the right picture, the right vacation photo, the right snappy caption for every snapshot. Then the worry sets in—do we seem fun? Do we seem like too much fun? Do we seem excited or desperate? Does our house and lifestyle seem comfortable or do we come across of pretentious and trying too hard? Does my hair look funny in that picture? Oh crap, she will hate my hair! Who wants to a woman with hair like that to raise a child!!! Oh, that just a shadow… Wait, what is that on my face!?!
  3. Excitement and Devastation. Once you finally let go of the profile and it is sent around to agencies and birth mothers across the country, you get phone call after phone call with opportunities…which are then followed by phone call after phone call that they chose someone else (it was the hair, wasn’t it!), or that the adoption fell through. And suddenly you are right back where you were when you were trying to conceive, with loss after loss and failure after failure. All you can do is try, hope, and cry.
  4. Sheer Joy. The Day. The day you learned you were going to be a mother. (Mine was July 12.) You got the call that they chose you. YOU! Of all the profiles in all the world, they chose yours. And, in three, five, seven months, you are going to be a mother. Once again, all you can do is hope and cry.
  5. Holy Shit! Oh…My…God! I’m going to be a mother…in three months. All that prep. All that planning and prodding and poking and here it is. Just three short months, your child will be in your arms. Crap! Do I tell anyone? Do I have a shower? What if it falls through? Do I not have a shower, and just buy the essentials myself—the crib and car seat? What if something goes wrong and I have to walk by that crib day after day. Okay, car seat yes, crib no.
  6. The Call. Of all the moments in my life, be it having my husband propose, getting married, being offered by dream job, or even getting the call my dad died suddenly, nothing will ever compare to our birth mom calling me to tell me Kennedy was here. Please come to Philly. From one simple picture, I was in love like never before.
  7. The First Kiss. The nervousness of walking into that hospital room after a frantic 2 hour drive, preceded by an even more insane packing session (what does one wear to meet their daughter!) when you have no idea how long you will be gone and what the weather is like where you are going! Then the confliction of meeting your birth mother for the first time (unbelievable gratitude and heartache for her all at the same time), which is quickly overwhelmed by tears that simply will not stop streaming down your face as you hold your daughter in your arms and kiss her sweet face.

And you know, for the first time, why you didn’t get pregnant. Because your child hadn’t been born yet. She just needed you to be a little bit patient because, after all, perfection takes time.

Are You the Model Bully?

There is no question that Kennedy picks up so many nuances from me every day. She has many of my inflections, and many cyber bullyof my little sayings, things I didn’t realize I said until I hear them coming out of her mouth.

And from talking to friends and family, clearly she is no different from any other child…whatever they see us do or say, they are likely to pick up, repeat, and likely adopt into their own little framework of life.

Talk about responsibility! I knew I’d have to feed and clothe her, but modeling good behavior too? Yikes!

Which is why I am so shocked to see good, God-fearing adults—Parents!—posting images on their Facebook walls that mock or make fun of a person based on how they look. And, more often than not, that person is overweight.

First, what is godly in this behavior? Doesn’t Matthew 25, verse 40 tell us, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” And, doesn’t that apply in the reverse, that whatever you do TO the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to Me.”

Second, and arguably more importantly, what behavior are you modeling for your child? That it’s okay to make fun of people who are different from you. Who may look funny, be overweight, etc. And, worse of all, you are teaching cyber bullying…the most cowardly form, in my opinion.

According to U.S. Legal Definitions, cyber-bullying can be defined as posting rumors or gossip about a person online, with an intent to bring about hatred in other’s minds. Additionally, they go on to say that cyber bulling may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.

Clearly posting pictures of someone that intentionally shows them in a humiliating way and then taking the extra step of mocking the picture in your comments is cyber bulling. And you are putting it out there publicly…and if your children (or nieces or nephews, etc.) are old enough to have Facebook accounts, then they can see your posts.

Then, voila! They have just witnessed you model bullying behavior.

If we are meant to live life in a way that not only honors us, but to model behavior for our children, then that simple post making fun of the fat girl isn’t so simple, is it?

The comment about the person’s skin color or “weird” hairdo or mental disability that we mean to be funny and off-handed is now overheard and likely taken in and possibly repeated by our child. After all, if mommy or daddy said or did it, it must be OK, right?

No…it’s not okay. My job is to do my best to mold Kennedy in an independent, strong, and caring woman. Someone with integrity. And that starts with me modeling those very same attributes in the home…and online.

Please Don’t Should On Me

There have been many pros to being a parent later in life. We are more financially secure, for one. We are more established in 629px-Know-if-You-Should-Ditch-Your-Friend-Step-1our careers, which give us (well, me) greater flexibility in terms of work, hours, and being able to work from home and take time off as needed. We are also more patient (mostly…), more grounded, and more stable in our marriage than we were, say, 10 years ago.

We also have been able to watch and learn from our friends and family members who had children before us what we want to emulate and what we’d do differently. But therein lies the rub…

It’s difficult enough to be a parent—especially a new parent—particularly when it comes to advice. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what you should and should not do. And everyone seems to be extremely comfortably in sharing that.

And it is even worse when you are 10 years late to the party. Since so many have walked the path before you, there is almost a blanket belief that, naturally, you will do what they have done. Or, worse, you have parents or aunts and uncles who make blanket statements that, of course, you will do what this person or that person has done.

Which then leaves you in the uncomfortable position of saying, no…we choose a different path. And if they start to argue with you or question why, you suddenly are put in the position of disagreeing with one person’s choice (by default) in an effort to explain your own.

A couple of examples:

We chose to allow Kennedy to sleep with us. I cannot tell you how many times I was “shoulded” on about this topic. “Don’t pick her up…Let her cry it out…Never let her sleep in your bed…”

When I explain that we disagree with that, and while I can see the need for that if you have more than one child, with an only, we prefer this way. When pressed, I explain that I believe a child is comforted and ultimately more secure fundamentally when her basic needs are met (i.e. comfort and security). By default, I am then telling the other person that they don’t hold these same values then if they let their child cry or not sleep in their bed, etc.

Screwed either way.

Another…we believe in three meals and two snacks. We aren’t tyrants about it…it’s just our choice. Others choose the grazing method, as it works for them. I personally disagree, but I am allowed to. I am sure others disagree with the three meals approach. No harm, no foul either way.

But when pressed to explain why, I inherently have to give my reasons against grazing, which is then construed as putting it down. It can then appear as if I am being judgmental versus simply having a different opinion.

Again, screwed either way and such an uncomfortable position to be placed in.

Here’s the deal. All parents makes choices about child-rearing based on experience, personal needs/wants in their insular lives, and gut instinct.

I don’t care what the books say.

I don’t care what he or she or her cousin’s boyfriend’s mother did…If I want to know, trust me I’ll ask.

Unless I appear to be in crisis, you can assume I have it under control (or at least think I do!).

This (whatever THIS is) is working for us. We have actively chosen this course. We likely discussed it and feel this is best for us, our lives, our child, our family.

We kindly request that you keep your should to yourself.

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

I love this! Exercise should be about feeling beautiful first…the looking beautiful simply follows.

wellfesto

Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me.  She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over.  “Come on!  Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!

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I AM Kennedy’s Mother

Over the past 22 months, I’ve been the blessed mother to 22-month-old Kennedy. She was discharged from the hospital to me. I was the one who was up with November 2013 kissing Kennedyher for every midnight and 3 am feeding. I am the one who has taken her to every doctor appointment, introduced her to healthy food, taught her to walk and talk, reprimanded bad behavior and instilled in her a love of music and dancing.

So why do people still ask me if I’ve heard from “her mother”?

Seriously?

Now clearly I know what they mean. They want to know if Kennedy’s birth mother has reached out lately. I get that and it’s a legit question and one I am totally open to talking about.

We had an open adoption and we maintain a limited contact with Kelly, based on her comfort level, which is basically just on Kennedy’s birthday and around the holidays. This is important to us because Kelly has an 8-year-old daughter that I believe Kennedy will want to know about when she gets older.

But Kelly is NOT her mother. Just like her boyfriend is NOT her father. I am her mother. Trip is her father. It’s that simple.

To indicate otherwise is completely disrespectful. And I realize that the faux pas is not intentional, but it hurts and is offensive just the same.

If you are searching for words to describe Kelly (or any other birth mother), try “birth mother” or “biological mother”. Ditto for father.

If you are looking for words to describe me, Mom, Mommy, Mama, or Mother are the only appropriate ones…and they reserved especially for me. I’ve earned them.

Run for Your Life!!!

One of the most difficult things for me to fit into my ever-changing new world as downloada mother has been exercise. While this can be challenging enough for most women, for me I have the added complication of my husband’s pain-in-the-ass work schedule, which takes away evenings five days a week and mornings on Sundays and Mondays.

While I could workout in the morning most days of the week, I’d have to wait until our nanny arrives at 8am, and that then is contingent on if Kennedy has slept well the night before, because as other mothers know all too well, if baby doesn’t sleep, mama doesn’t sleep.

On the plus side, I do have several factors working in my favor. First, as a freelancer, I have a somewhat flexible schedule. But, that doesn’t mean I can go back to sleep once the nanny takes over AND exercise after that. That means I can do one or the other.

Second, my preferred form of exercise is to run…or walk. That means I can just throw on my shoes and head out the door. It also means I can take Kennedy with me in my new, fancy jog stroller.

On the minus side, I am not a big fan of exercise. I have to be in the mood, be with other people, or be training for something.

In the past, to address these issues, I’ve joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team in Training program. They are located all over the country and in exchange for raising money for cancer research, they train you for an endurance event, enter you the race, and if need be, pay your way to and from and lodging at the event. Not bad!

I’ve done two triathlons and two half marathons with Team in Training in the past and immediately thought of them. In fact, when Kennedy was 7-months-old, I did the Nike Half-Marathon with Team in Training (as well as two of my cousins). However, they have a strict rule about no stroller on group training runs. But, thanks to the support of my husband who took over every Saturday so I could train, I was able to complete the run, but it was a definite trade off with sleep and work.

So this time when I was looking to restart my exercise routine, I went back to Team in Training. And the biggest reason was their new Moms in Training program.

How perfect is this! It was started by two moms in NYC. They wanted to raise money for cancer, get back into shape after having a baby, but they wanted to be able to make their child a part of the training. So they started Moms in Training.

You train for a 10K (6.2 miles) and you CAN bring the stroller!

It was such a joy for me to have the option to leave Kennedy at home some Saturdays or to bring her with me. Most of all, I loved the message I was sending her…that exercise is fun!

So we just packed her water bottle, a few snacks, and hit the trail on Saturdays with other like-minded moms, most of whom also brought their children.

But the best part as a runner was that running 5 miles with a jog stroller feels more like 8 miles. The result? One of the best times of my running career! I finished the 10K (sans stroller) in 1:03…and with just six hours of sleep the night before! I was thrilled.

So if you are looking for a great way to get back into shape, to teach your child about the positive aspects of exercise, to meet amazing women, and to set a good example for your child, I highly recommend Moms in Training. If there is not a group in your area, contact your local LLS and ask them to help you get one started!