When you are single, it’s pretty easy to put your needs first.
You think, hey, I want to take a trip to Paris. Do I have enough money? Well, I have a credit card. And hostels are fun, right? Do I have a few days with nothing to do? Yup, I do.
But then you get married and have kids and well, nothing is so simple. A trip. A cross country move. A bucket list. You don’t do anything so quickly anymore.
You’re constantly balancing various needs. What do your kids need? What does your spouse need? What do you need?
We sacrifice for our kids. Oh my gosh do we sacrifice. And they repay us with compliments like this… Last night, my 5 year old said to me, “Were you alive when Abraham Lincoln was president?”
Uh no. I am old. But not quite that old.
But we can’t sacrifice everything.
Because then we are just puddles of patheticness (yes, of course that’s a word) and one day, as our college bound kids wave goodbye, we’ll come crawling after them, “Wait! I used to be fun. I used to book trips to Paris!”
So it’s important to figure out what we want. Not when our kids are in college. What do we want now. Which is how I ended up in Clearwater, Florida a few weeks back.
My husband and I were trying to decide what to do with the kids over vacation and he utters, “Well, seeing a Phillies spring training game is on my bucket list.”
A boring baseball game is on your bucket list?!
I mean, a chance of a lifetime spring training game is on your bucket list?!
We needed to make this happen.
So we did.
We drove four hours to Clearwater, Florida and my husband thought the whole thing was pretty magical.
The reality is – the chaos of our lives can consume us. To the point where somebody asks, what are your hobbies? And you honestly can’t remember anymore. Umm… I think I liked roller blading in 2004. Or they ask, what do you see yourself doing in five years? Well, I’ll definitely still be doing laundry.
But we deserve more. As parents, we need to love our families fiercely and ourselves just as much. We need to ask ourselves, what do we want from this life that is just too short?
We have to pay attention to what’s important to us. Where we want to be in this world. What do we truly want to do that we haven’t bothered to even pursue.
It could be a hobby. Or a career change. Or a vacation. Or a class. Or a move. Or a friendship.
Or maybe just a drive to a baseball field during spring training.
Whatever brings us joy. We owe it to ourselves to find it.
There are certain parental things you know you should be doing for your kids… like feeding them, clothing them and oh yeah, spending time with them. And not just any kind of time. One-on-one time.
I can completely see the benefits of spending time with kids individually. It makes them feel important. You get to really know them. They get to know you. It brings you closer together. So I’m completely in love with this idea but I just can’t figure out how to make it happen.
To read more, please click over to Alpha Mom. I promise some very cool ideas on actually making one-on-one time happen!
I was raised with a very healthy diet. Like 7 grain bread and carrot cake kind of diet. I don’t remember ever going to fast food (unless it was with a babysitter) and the only treat in the house was Ovaltine. As a kid, I used to secretly eat that chocolate powder with a spoon. I was desperate.
I would see those kids at school with their Wonder bread sandwiches and just be filled with jealousy. And no one trades their peanut butter fluff sandwich for a turkey with alfalfa sprouts. Nobody.
When raising my own kids, I did want to instill healthy eating habits. But it’s sooo hard. Because white bread and white pasta and pizza and chicken nuggets are everywhere. And kids really dig them. Plus, only America thinks to deep fry Oreos, right? Delicious and genius. But still.
So you start your kids off eating all these healthy organic baby foods (maybe even pureeing your own) and then within a few years, they are literally eating goldfish off the rug of your minivan. Yup. Processed foods off a rug that hasn’t been vacuumed in months. And you’re like – what the heck happened here?
When my kids are home, I do try to make sure they eat reasonably well. They eat fruits, a few vegetables, protein, nothing with nitrates and I try to avoid artificial colors.
But I noticed that I have really let it slide when it comes to eating whole grain breads and pastas. There was more and more white challah in my house and lots of yummy white pasta. Why? Because every time we are at the store, my kids beg for it. And because children who aren’t complaining about their lunches and dinners are a lot less annoying.
So last week, I said enough and bought whole wheat challah bread.
And this is how it went over….
11 year old: At lunch, I just ate the ham in my sandwich. I did not like that whole wheat bread.
9 year old: I don’t want that. I made myself a pumpernickel bagel instead.
5 year old boy: I don’t want the whole wheat bread either.
5 year old girl: I DO NOT LIKE THAT NEW BREAD!!
2 year old: Elephant. Where’s elephant? (Totally off topic by the way)
The whole wheat challah was rejected. Eventually my 5 year old son made a bird nest in one of our trees and left the bread out for the birds. (For the record, they really liked it.)
This week I went back to buying white bread. I had been beaten down.
But I kind of feel okay about it. I think you have to reach some kind of balance with kids and food. It’s okay to go to fast food sometimes. There are days when my children have somehow finagled pizza for lunch AND dinner. And well, white bread is sticking around here for now. At least most of them time.
And I take heart that I’m a pretty healthy eater as an adult (despite my Ovaltine childhood addiction).
So I’m thinking my kids will turn out just fine.
I’ve been hearing about sleepaway camp for as long as I’ve known my husband. I’m pretty sure it came up on our first date. Why? Because my husband describes it as the defining experience of his childhood.
He believes it allowed him to grow and change in ways that would never have been possible without those 4 weeks away from home every summer. As he describes it – at summer camp, he wasn’t defined by school labels or parental oversight. He could be anything he wanted to be.
To read more of this post, please click on over to Alpha Mom.
(Come on. It’s just one little click.)
When you have a lot of kids, people do a lot of counting. They look at your crew of children, count them up in their head and then say, “Are they all yours?”
So it was pretty typical when my husband and I were out to lunch recently and a woman leaned over to inquire whether we were indeed responsible for all these children hanging around us. But then she said something I didn’t expect.
“Wow. 5 kids. That’s a lot of children to take care of. Actually I should say you’re taking care of 6!”
“What do you mean?” I asked. (Oh my gosh – Am I pregnant and this woman has some kind of maternal intuition?! Please no!)
“Well, your husband too.” she said, laughing.
I knew what she meant. She meant my husband was my 6th kid.
“No, he pulls his own weight,” I said. “In fact, he’s an amazing dad.”
I’m going to give this woman a pass since she was older and I’m guessing she grew up in a time when dads literally didn’t touch a diaper. And because people are prone to saying dumb things to strangers (myself included). But really, why is there still a tendency to treat dads like bumbling idiots?
Way before I had kids, I remember taking a trip with one of my best college girlfriends. I naively asked her, “Who’s taking care of your daughter? Is your husband babysitting?”
Now my friend was very quick to clarity that dads don’t babysit. They parent. Noted. And once I become a parent myself, I completely understood what she meant and why she had made this distinction. Dads should be equal partners in this journey of parenthood.
But society still sometimes relegates fathers to second class parents. Even though most dads I know are incredibly hands on, very responsible and have changed more diapers than they could ever count. And when we discredit the contribution made by dads, we do a real disservice to our children.
This doesn’t mean men and women parent in the same way. Nor should they. My husband and I are very different in our approaches. I can pack a diaper bag while making the kids breakfast while canceling a doctor’s appointment. My husband admits that would make his brain explode.
But he’s the one who gets the kids to school on time, grills Sunday night dinners and could play in the pool with them for hours. I last about 7 minutes in a pool before I’m shivering and desperate to get out. And this is in Florida. Where it’s like 100 million degrees outside (estimate).
Neither of us is a better parent. We just each have our strengths. And our weaknesses.
Like the time that I forgot to go to my son’s teacher conference. But somehow remembered to take a nap that day.
Or the time he forgot to give the children dinner. One of the kids reminded him that they were indeed very hungry and could they please be fed before bedtime.
But despite these parental missteps, we are doing our very best to raise loving, creative, passionate children. And I couldn’t imagine doing this job without him.
Like the other night – I wanted to get the kids into bed early because they had school the next day. My husband wanted to watch the last few exciting minutes of a NCAA basketball game with them.
The children stayed up. And even though I was a little cranky about it at first (because I was so desperate to have these children sleeping so I could get the house chaos under control), I’m so glad they did. Because they will remember that game and those moments with their dad for a very long time to come.