Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

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Memoirs of an 11-Year Old

October 25, 2009

When I was 11 I was a trouble-maker. I stole. I stole food. I stole postcards. I stole coins.

In my memory, I stole the food because there was only enough food made at supper for my dad to have seconds, and for my step-brother and I to share a second helping. I was still hungry, so I’d come upstairs at night and make myself a peanut butter sandwich.

I stole postcards in my desire to get my Collector’s badge in Girl Guides. Needless to say my dad pulled me out of Guides because I obviously couldn’t live up to the ideology they were trying to teach little girls.

I stole coins from my dad’s change jar and bought massive amounts of candy with it. And I stole coins from my step-mom’s collection of coins from around the world – because they were cool.

We had just moved in with my step-mom, step-brother and step-sister the year before when my dad and step-mom got married. I didn’t get along with my SM (step-mom for short – gonna get sick of typing it). It wasn’t an issue of her replacing my mom as my mom and dad had been divorced for years, I hadn’t lived with my mom for years, and she had just passed away the year before. It was probably something like I just didn’t want to share my dad, since I’d had him to myself for so long.

I started Grade 7 on a Thursday. A new school, since I was in Junior High now. New school, new people, a whole new routine. I honestly don’t remember what I did that weekend that got me in trouble. Whatever it was, my dad had had enough. He didn’t know how to deal with me anymore. He packed up my stuff, packed me in the car and drove me 3 hours away to my grandma’s house. I lived with her for the next 15 years. It was explained once upon a time that in a few years I would move out and live my own life. My dad would be with my SM forever. He made his choice to be with her and save their relationship by not having me there.

17 years later, I’m still facing the actions of a lost kid and her frustrated parents. When I see my parents now, I still feel like I did when I was 11 and on my way to my grandma’s. I feel like no matter what I do, it’s wrong. I feel like I can never to anything to please my dad, and I can never live up to his expectations. I still feel like a disappointment to him now.

It doesn’t help that my dad and SM are very critical. They have very high expectations of their children. They have sharp tongues and a pressing need to make us learn through their experience. They have done better than most people in life, and they wish that for us kids too.

Combine my 11-year old mentality, and the whip-fast lash of their tongues, and I leave their presence almost every time upset and wondering why I let them get to me. They like to share their advice with us, about absolutely everything we could face in life. But their advice comes across as demands, and ‘this is the way it must be.’

I have been told not to let Penny play with pots and pans, or she they will always be toys to her. I’ve been told not to let her play with her food or it will always be a toy. She’s not allowed to play with phones or remotes either. I’ve been told (before Penny was even born mind you) that I should wean her by 9 months. And I got eye-rolling tonight when I was talking about co-sleeping.

Their advice isn’t limited to my parenting either. We walked through our new house today and received quite a few comments there as well. I commented that it didn’t look like there was alot left to do, that it shouldn’t take the builders another month to finish. My parents started listing off all the stuff left, and how long it takes to install individual pot lights. They act like we should know this information, and you can hear the unspoken question in their tone of ‘are you stupid?’.

Last summer, when I was still pregnant, the conversations with them revolved around Court getting his drivers license so he could drive me to the hospital. Every time we talked to them, every time we saw them, it was brought up and hashed over yet again. My dad would look at me and ask me when Court was getting his license – with him standing right beside me. It was a major point of contention, and the way they hounded us about it upset me every time. Eventually during one visit with them, as soon as they asked about his license I explained that it was a subject that greatly upset me and I’d prefer we didn’t discuss it. You see, I thought I was doing the mature, adult-like thing by saying this. And let me tell you it took ALOT of guts to be able to say it. And needless to say I stormed out in tears because they brought it up again a while later and wouldn’t drop it. In the end, Court never got his license because as soon as he does, our insurance doubles and we can’t afford that.

I don’t know how to deal with this problem. I don’t know how to say to them that we do value their advice. They have more experience than us, they’ve been through things that we’re just starting to experience. They have valuable information to pass along to us. But advice is meant to be taken or ignored, depending on the receivee’s viewpoint. I want the freedom to ignore the advice if that’s what we choose to do. I know we’d be more receptive to what they have to say if they’d just word it differently, if they’d use a less critical tone of voice, if they weren’t oozing condescension. I don’t know how to approach them about this and not have it taken as an attack on them. I don’t know how to diplomatically tell them to *@&% off. Sometimes I feel like telling them if they want to raise a kid so bad, go have their own. And today my grandma said to tell them when we get to be their age we’ll have that much knowledge too. I don’t know how to say what I want to say, and be treated like a mature adult while doing it.

I just know I’m hurt and upset after almost every encounter with my dad or my step-mom. I dread going to see them, but know that I can’t avoid it. It feels poisonous. I don’t want Penny to pick up on those feelings from Court and I, and I’m not sure what to do.

Advice is welcome and solicited, but may be ignored.

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Penny’s Not Allowed To Be An Avid Reader

August 26, 2009

And I’m sure every parent is looking at me in horror with that statement out in the open. Don’t get me wrong, I want Penny to read. I want her to share my love of books and enjoy reading just about anything.

For the record, I have only put down 3 books in my life: Interview with a Vampire – apparently written at a grade 12 level and I’m too stupid for that; Lord of the Rings – tried to start on the 2nd book after watching the 1st movie, should have known better; and Princess of Burundi – ridiculously slow crime novel from Scandinavia or somewhere like that. If I crack it open, I read it.

In grade 5 I had to answer a survey for my new teacher so she could find out more about me. One of the questions was how many books I read in a year, with the options of 0, 1-2, 3-4 or 5+. At that time, I scoffed at the survey. I was reading 5+ in a month! Fortunately for me, my dad works at a book and magazine distribution company and I had pretty much unlimited access to books. I still read alot, spending probably $400-$500 a year at Chapters (I’ve reformed – I have a library card now). Since Penny’s been born though, my book stack is growing and I’m not getting much reading done. I’ve actually only finished one book, and am about 3/4 through a second.

But back to the purpose of this post. I read alot. I read alot now, as an adult, and just as avidly as a teen and as a child. This was not a good thing! I read to the detriment of my social life. I remember my dad throwing me outside and telling me not to come back for X number of hours. I would ride my bike aimlessly around the neighbourhood, maybe go sit on a swing for a few minutes, and go home again. Now all of 32 minutes have passed since I was tossed out, yet I start begging to come inside again. All I wanted to do was read! I would read past my bedtime – aka after I was sent to bed and having a light on would get me caught.

I would read until there was no longer enough light coming in my window to see the words on the pages. Hence the reason I wear glasses now. Oh yeah, and I read for so long that I go cross-eyed and put strain on my eyes. The doctor has told me I need to look up every 15 minutes or so to refocus my eyes.

I remember doing a group book report project in grade 6, where we needed to read the book as a group in class, then do some sort of big report project after. We weren’t supposed to read any of the book at home. I took my book home the first night and read the whole thing. I got in alot of trouble for that. I ended up doing a project on my own, on the book “Where the Red Fern Grows” which, to be honest, was exactly what I wanted.

Are you seeing the trend here? Nicole sits in the corner with her book, and avoids all contact with other human beings, cringing away if one passes too closely. I have trouble making friends now. I am completely comfortable with kids and usually teens. I’m great with older people. But I can’t carry on a conversation with people my age. I can’t walk up to them and say hi and introduce myself. Well, I can’t do any of this in person. Put a computer screen in between, and presto-chango I’m a whole new person!

I can look back now and see that the number of books I read isn’t a good thing. I chose to spend my time with my nose in a book, exploring worlds that aren’t my own. I could get lost for days in worlds of fantasy, particularly on Pern with dragons filling the skies. I could back then, and I still can now, albeit with books that are 3 times as thick and cost much more. Reading that much is not healthy, and needs to be balanced with other equally important parts of life. I didn’t learn this before, and I pay for it now with a few friends instead of many (and not all of them quality friends yet), shyness around my contemporaries, and ultimately that all contributes to low self esteem and depression.

In the last few years I have realized how much my reading affected who I am, and because of that, I don’t want Penny to be an avid reader. I want her to love reading, to be able to lose herself in another world. But I want her to be able to pull herself back and enjoy the world she’s in too.

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More Solid Foods Questions

August 17, 2009

I’d like to do baby-led weaning, or baby-led solids as it’s called sometimes. My doctor at the breastfeeding clinic is all for it, and basically said to feed Penny what we eat, when we eat it.

Baby-led weaning is gaining popularity. To sum it up, when we were children, we started eating solids at 3 months. If you follow the same steps with introducing food, and adjust for the current age of 6 months, our babies should be starting solid foods – not pablum (rice cereal) or pureed foods. Because of the adjustment in age, a 6 month baby now will not eat food they are not ready to. They will not try to swallow if they can’t handle it yet. If a food that they can’t handle yet gets too far towards their throat, they will cough to move it back to the front.

Penny has “eaten” orange pepper, green pepper, onion, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges, banana, pears, potato, cheese, toast, crackers, steak, and ham. Some of these were more welcomed than others. She hates banana and spits it out. She gnawed on a ring of a very strong white onion and didn’t appear to dislike it at all. She loves oranges and tries to suck all the juice out of them. She got mad when I took the ham away. She choked a little on a little sliver of green pepper. She had problems with the texture of mashed potatoes (which I knew from trying to feed the next step up of baby food and her promptly puking from the first mouthful).

It’s a new game to me, and to everyone around me. There’s not alot of information I can turn to. Or if there is, I can’t readily find it. I’m sure we don’t follow exactly how it’s supposed to be done. But isn’t that the fun of parenting? We play it meal by meal. It also depends on when Penny’s awake.

The one thing I’ve chosen not to feed Penny is pablum. It’s bland, dusty cardboard. I’ve been told countless times to feed Penny pablum and she’ll “sleep through the night.” When I started solid foods I tried feeding her pablum. I tried it 3 times a day. She didn’t sleep any better. She still woke 2 or 3 times a night. So ignoring what the “experts” say, I KNOW pablum doesn’t make a baby sleep any better. Yes, pablum has a certain nutritional value to it. But it’s nothing that Penny can’t get from a combination of pureed foods and solid foods.

So this is where I need some advice again. I have asked about being pressured to wean Penny from breastfeeding and was pointed to a ton of resources to help stop that pressure in its tracks. Now do any of you have good resources or advice about solid foods? What can I say when I’m told by people who have more experience than me that I should be feeding Penny pablum because she needs it nutrionally? Any advice is appreciated!

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Help with starting solids

July 14, 2009

Penny has been (almost) exclusively breastfed for the last 6 months. I started dabbling with solids (ie. purées) about a month ago. And we’re still dabbling.

Breastfeeding is the easiest way to feed her! I don’t want to give that up – not the breastfeeding part, the easy part. Now I have to mix pablum, and heat puréed foods. It was so much simpler just to lay down with her on the bed and let her glug away for 20 minutes or so. Plus, it was time for us together. I can’t even read while she nurses – she knows and does nasty things like biting me.

I love breastfeeding her and I’m not going to give that up yet. But mostly, I just don’t know how to feed her solids. It’s one of those things that I don’t just instinctively know, and I haven’t been able to find much information on.

Mmmmm sweet potato!

Mmmmm sweet potato!

Yes, at 6 months you should start solids. You should start pablum (rice cereal). You move on to puréed foods like single vegetables (sweet potatoes come to mind). You should progress to lumpy foods next, and small cut up food after that (once they master the pincer). And all of this assumes you’re not going to foray into baby-led solids.

But I don’t know how to integrate solids into our routine. I would really love to find a guide that says for the first week, do this, then add this for the next week. I know everything is going to be guidelines, and you don’t have to follow what doesn’t work for you. But SOME direction would be nice.

Currently, I’m trying to make it part of our routine to feed Penny a breakfast of 1 tbsp of pablum mixed with about a third of a jar of sweet potato purée, plus a few spoonfuls of apples and raspberries for dessert. But on days when she slept through most of the night, she wakes up STARVING. I grab her and latch her on for a quick, easy breakfast. Then we all got sick and I went back to just breastfeeding for ease and hydration. I’m trying to get back to our breakfast routine, but every day is different. One day she gets breakfast and no other solids. One day she doesn’t get breakfast but eats solids 2 other times.

So, ignoring the fact that I am interested in baby-led solids and incorporate that to some degree, does anyone have any information to help me establish a solid food routine for a 6 month old?

Penny eating cucumber - theoretically good for teething with its coolness and anti-puffiness when used on eyes

Penny eating cucumber - theoretically good for teething with its coolness and anti-puffiness when used on eyes

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Never Good Enough

July 14, 2009

Have you ever had one of those days? One of those days called Mon-day? Or how about Mon-day the 13th? AKA a bad day… (for the record, I don’t believe 13 is an unlucky number, and I don’t think black cats are bad luck – I had 2… at the same time…)

I’m having one of those days. Nothing happened that was particularly bad, or should make me grumpy, but there it is – I am. The phone woke me up, but it was 10:30 so I can’t complain. The optician’s office – where I was going to take Penny to get her glasses adjusted this morning anyway, so I didn’t answer it. Ended up not taking her, but that’s life.

About 10.2 seconds after I got back into bed, the phone rang again. My dad, with information about step-by-step instructions for feeding Penny solid foods. I’ll get into that in another post, since it’s something I want more information on.

The cable/TV/phone provider was scheduled to come between 12 and 5 because my internet connection keeps going up and down. When they checked from their end, they said yup, my modem is shot. Tech came last Friday, replaced some amplifier part and left. It didn’t fix the problem, so we rescheduled for this afternoon. This tech came and basically said he couldn’t do anything because of the thunderstorm we had. They’re going to run a brand new line from the pole out in the alley, separate from our neighbours because we’re in a duplex, but a different department needs to call and schedule that with me.

A couple of times in the last few days I’ve seen people reacting rather quickly and to be honest, a little rudely. Happened again this afternoon. It hasn’t affected me directly, but just watching the exchanges between other people riles me up sometimes. I want to remind people about the immediacy and permanency of everything you say on social networking sites. The old adage comes to mind “Think before you speak.”

But more than all of this, I repeatedly find myself wondering if I’m good enough. Am I a good enough mom and parent, a good enough wife? I recently applied for a job and asked for a certain amount for compensation. And I’ve spent the last 2 days wondering if I’m good enough to make that amount of money. I’m constantly wondering “Am I good enough”, and in my mind, I’m not. Last week I said “You know when you were a JR in HS and think the SRs are so smart and cool? That’s how I feel about some of the moms on here.” I read what these moms have to say, and I feel like I can’t even begin to approach the league they are in. They use language that is well beyond the average grade 6 level. So even when I am interested in something they have to say, I read it and I feel like I understand maybe every 3rd word. I feel like I am playing pretend at being a parent when you put me beside one of them. They just know everything, and I can’t hope to have the knowledge even after 50 years of being a mother.

There’s more too. I realize my family thinks they know everything, and I of course, know nothing. So they give me “advice” and I’m expected to follow it. Like being told months ago that my siblings were only breastfed till they were 9 months because babies shouldn’t be breastfed any longer than that. Well, Penny’s 6 months old. So I’m pretty sure in another 2 or 3 months I’ll start getting pressured to wean. And I don’t want to. I want to be strong enough to stand up to what they say to me, but for some damn reason I feel like I’m not good enough for them if I don’t do what they say. I don’t know why what they think means so much to me, and why I’m always seeking approval from them. But it’s approval I never get, and has left me in tears on many, many occasions. Things like being told I shouldn’t work from home because Penny needs to be socialized so she doesn’t end up anti-social like her parents. Then I go to a play date, and get asked well why would I do that? I’ll be honest. I would really like to spend time with my family, but when we do I feel like I never live up to any of their expectations, and that they have to go out of their way to accommodate us visiting. So rather than willingly spending time with them, I force us to visit so that they can have time with Penny. I put up with the criticism and snide remarks, then go home either fuming or crying.

What else? Right, I’m not a good enough blogger. One of the magazines I read is looking for mommy bloggers to blog for them. I’d love to do that! But seriously? What do I have to say that’s interesting to anyone else? I’m a new mom, but I’m doing the same thing every other mom is right now. I don’t have any particular bits of wisdom to impart (refer to the pretend-mom paragraph above). I’m not a reviewer (I thought MakesMomHappy.com was the greatest blog ever, and then I found out there’s about 672 other review/giveaway blogs out there). But I SO wish that I had something to say that people wanted to listen to. Something that brought people to my blog regularly, and could start discussions, and could make people think.

Oh, and one last thing? Why do I feel like being a breastfeeding mom has to go hand-in-hand with co-sleeping and babywearing and attachment parenting and cloth diapering and eco-consciousness? Can’t you do one without being expected to do all the others?

So yeah, that’s how my day is going. How about yours?

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The iTwins’ Birthday Giveaway!

July 2, 2009

www.myitwins.com

Also going on this month is a massive giveaway contest from @mamajoss and her iTwins for their 1st and 2nd birthdays on August 4th and 6th. Sponsors include: Kelly’s Closet, LegHuggers, GADBaby Diapers, WettGiggles, Bummas, The Sofia Valeria Collection, Picnik.com, Happy Panda, Dittany Baby, Baby Dipper, Ruffle Butts, Skin Free, NEW Purex 3-in1 Laundry Sheets, and Wee See!

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The Eco Chic Giveaway!

July 2, 2009

theecochic.com

The Echo Chic is spending 2 whole weeks giving away tons of stuff – Dittany Baby, Eco Label Fundraising, Ergo Baby Carriers, Green Planet Parties, Hand Picked Pumpkin, Homemade Baby Food Recipes, Kids Think Big, Ladybug Diapers, Mommy Necklaces, MommyDoodlesDesign.com, Paper Culture, Piggy Paint, Pure Design Company, TerraCycle, and ToGo Ware are all sponsors! Make sure you check it out!