Category Archives: When Murphy Gets Mad

Leave The Kids Out of It

Pakistan students Taliban attack

I checked the news when I woke up this morning and this headline blared out:

141 die, mostly children, in Peshwar school attack

As we in North America go about our Christmas preparations, worrying about presents and parking spots, Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshwar, Pakistan.

According to Pakistani military spokesman, Asim Bajwa, it was “an assault that seemed designed purely to terrorize the children rather than take anyone hostage to further the militant group’s aims. Their sole purpose, it seems, was to kill those innocent kids. That’s what they did.”

Two years ago, almost to the day, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, waving semi-automatic weapons and shooting  20 children dead.

Two completely unrelated incidents, yet both targeting the most vulnerable and precious of a community.

When I was a little kid, a part of me looked forward to being an adult. A real idealist, I naively assumed that once everyone grew up physically, they would grow up mentally and emotionally too. I thought that once people were in their 20s, or at least in their 30s, they would act like grown-ups: throw out their selfishness and put others first.

Maturity and kindness have nothing to do with age. Today on the news, I see grown men raging around with machine guns throwing tantrums and killing children. Yesterday I saw my 6-year-old son showing true bravery and kindness by standing between his little friend and a bully, taking hits so his friend wouldn’t get hurt.

As a mother, I ache for the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and grandparents in Pakistan whose lives are shattered by the loss of so many children.

As a mother, I say leave the kids out of it. Get your battles out of the schools and off the playgrounds.

As a believer, at this time of year, I say, Come O Come Emmanuel.

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Things people say when my toddler is screaming

Having just survived the terrible twos for a second time,  I’ve had plenty of advice from random strangers about how to raise my toddlers. Don’t get me wrong, there have also been many kind people in the grocery store line-up who have sent an encouraging smile my way mid-tantrum.  I’ve learned to develop a thick skin for the people who take it upon themselves to give me their “helpful” unsolicited advice. I polled my Facebook friends to see if they had similar experiences.

crying-toddler

Here are some of the best (worst) things my friends and I have heard mid-tantrum:

  1. “My children didn’t do that. I had a 2-year-old AND newborn twins.”
  2. “My grandchildren don’t do that. And there’s four of them. And my daughter home schools them.”
  3. “Wow! He’s really upset!”
  4. “You should really be more consistent. That would nip this in the bud.”
  5. “Can I give him a piece of candy?”
  6. “Keep your cool.”
  7. “Get that kid to shut the hell up!”
  8. “She has a very loud scream.”
  9. “What a shame. He’s so cute.”
  10. “You are horrible parents for not buying your kid that toy.”
  11. “Oh my heavens!” (said with a patronizing, disgusted look)
  12. A friend’s toddler was screaming near a hotel elevator. A woman thought my friend and her husband were abducting their own child. My friends had to scream and get help from strangers to restrain the (elderly) woman who was convinced they were kidnappers!

So what would be helpful for a parent who’s dealing with a screaming child in public? How about:

*An empathetic smile

*”That is a tough age.”

*”Can I help carry your groceries?”

One by one we can support other parents and drown out the dreaded, unhelpful grocery store comments!

 

Leave your best “things people say when my toddler is screaming” in the comments below. Soldier on, mommas.

I was glared at for talking in Starbucks

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being us...

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being used as a secondary logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday afternoon I went out for coffee with my parents and my two young children. Chaos ensued when my children realized there was only one cookie in the display case. Then we had to discuss the whip cream on the hot chocolate and find the little bags of popcorn.

When we finally made it to our table, my two-year-old sat by her grandma, my six-year-old near his grandpa and me somewhere in the middle. We had our usual happy conversation around the big wooden table. The kids were fine, but they are kids…they don’t sit and stare into space while drinking hot chocolate. They discussed their days. They told my mom tiny details about their favourite toys and goofed around with my dad. My daughter screeched when her foot got stuck in the high chair that she was too big for. My son freaked out a little because he wanted his popcorn in the bag, not in a cup. They weren’t being rude, just kids happy to be with their grandparents in a fun setting.

I felt like I had to hush them for the whole hour we were there. Why? Because every other person in the coffee shop was silent. Everyone was dead quiet and concentrating intently on an iPhone, laptop or tablet. Many people have written about the fact that our devices are making us antisocial. We all know that. It’s been said a million times. I get it, I really do. I too love zoning out in front of my iPhone at any opportunity.

What was different about today is that it was the first time that I felt like the minority for sitting in a coffee shop and chatting with my family. Maybe I’m just getting older but I remember back in the good old days when Starbucks and Tim Hortons were places to meet and talk.

Is it now more socially acceptable to be antisocial to those around you, while simultaneously being active on social media?

The next time I’m in a coffee shop with family or friends, I’m not hushing my children. I’m going to sit back with my coffee and company and talk and laugh away. I dare you to try it.

Murphy is on the Huff Post

Huff Post

I’m pretty stoked today. My article about moms judging each other is on the Huffington Post! Check it out here and comment if you’d like. 🙂

Don’t Judge Your Fellow Mama

Don't Judge Your Fellow Mama

When I became a mother five years ago I naively assumed that having a child meant a woman had grown up. Gone would be the petty insecurities, comparisons and judgements that women so cruelly share during the teenage years and beyond.

I was wrong.

Two children, two cities and many play dates and hours at the park later, I’ve made some wonderful mom friends. I’ve also been blown away by the cattiness and cruelty of some women who are permanently suspended in a junior high, mean-girls mindset, even with their own children watching and listening.

The sidelong glances, whispers and blatant online bullying I’ve seen encouraged me to start a conversation with a group of my own mom friends. The stories each woman told me were sometimes hard to believe but they are all true.

  • That mom you shun at the park because she’s single and living with her parents? Don’t judge her. She’s going to university full-time to create a good life for her son. In the blink of an eye you could be her.
  • That mom who is losing her patience with a screaming child in the grocery store line-up? She had two hours of sleep last night because her children are sick and teething. Don’t roll your eyes at her. Help her out. You will be her one day, guaranteed.
  • That mom who puts her five-year-old in diapers at night? Don’t judge her. Her child has a severe illness. Sleep is far more important than night-time potty training. She also has to pour salt on her child’s food to help with kidney function so don’t judge her for that either.
  • That mom that picked up McDonald’s for her child on the way home? Don’t judge her. 99% of the time she feeds her child good food. She’s tired. She’s had a long day.
  • That mom who took a nap when you were visiting and didn’t cook you supper?Don’t judge her. She’s suffering from a postpartum mood disorder and is just trying to cope and care for her children.
  • That mom who lets her kids sleep in her bed? Don’t judge her. She’s creating security and comfort that will last a lifetime. She knows little-kid-snuggles only last for a little while.
  • That mom who stopped breastfeeding too soon? Remember when you told her how sad it was that her child would get sick and die on formula? Remember when you told her that she and her baby wouldn’t bond? Are you for real? She had thrush, was on two different meds to increase her milk supply and had multiple lactation consultants. It didn’t work. She moved on and you should too.
  • That mom who is still breastfeeding when her child is two? She’s happy. Her child is happy. Leave them alone and stop staring.
  • That mom who is too rushed to say hello at preschool drop-off? Her son has a life-threatening illness. She is so focused on his care that she doesn’t even see you. Don’t judge her.
  • That mom who can’t get her children to sleep well? She’s tried everything. She’s read all the books and gone to the seminars. You may be an expert on your own four children but you know nothing about her two.
  • That mom you judged because she had a C-section while you had a natural birth? Even though you told her she didn’t try hard enough and is a failure, she’s pretty grateful that her child is alive.
  • That mom who is too easy on her kids and lets them get away with too much? She grew up afraid of a parent and refuses to repeat the pattern in her own family.
  • That mom who had too many kids too close together? Don’t judge her. Her children are happy and loved. On the other hand, don’t judge the mom who only had one child either. You don’t know the reasoning behind it and it’s none of your business.
  • That mom who looks after her children 24/7 and (gasp!) doesn’t work outside of the home? Maybe she actually likes it. Maybe she’s doing what is best for her kids. She may even blog about it.
  • That mom who struggled with infertility for years and finally got pregnant with IVF? Don’t judge her. You have no idea of the thoughts and pain that go into such an experience.

Things are rarely as they seem. I’ve grown a pretty thick skin when it comes to being judged by others for my parenting decisions.  I do my best to accept that everyone makes different decisions for their families. Could you do the same?  Most of us are our own worst critics anyways.

Remember, it’s not about us. It’s about our children. Let’s cut each other some slack.

We’re supposed to be the grown-ups.

First published on The Purple Fig (http://www.thepurplefig.com).

Also published on The Huffington Post.

Pink Shirt Day – Not Just For Kids

Cover of "Don't Laugh at Me"

Cover of Don’t Laugh at Me

Today was Pink Shirt Day in Canada. This anti-bullying awareness day began in 2007 after a grade nine student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.

Before I had my children I taught elementary school. One year I taught a multi-leveled grade one/two class. It was a wonderful year, with students ranging in age from six to eight. We talked a lot about being kind, helping each other and standing up for each other.

Another teacher introduced me to a children’s book called Don’t Laugh At Me, written by Allen Shamblin and Steve Seskin. It was also recorded by country singer Mark Wills. You can see the video here.  Here are some of the lyrics:

I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call the geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I’ve got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels
To cry myself to sleep

I’m that kid on every playground
Who’s always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin’ to overcome my past
You don’t have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

When the kids and I read the book, listened to the song and eventually sang the song during a school assembly I was struck by how seriously the children took the anti-bullying message.

As adults, we think we’re pretty smart. We may be educated, well-travelled and have tons of life experience. But you know what? Those six and seven-year-old children had a far deeper grasp of basic kindness than many, many “grown-ups” do. As a kid, I just assumed that some day everyone would grow up. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.

I’ve been talking to a lot of friends lately about how mean and judgemental women are to each other and I’m sick of it. How can we teach our children to be accepting and kind but then turn around and rip another person to shreds?

I hope that every parent who sent their children off to school in pink shirts thought about why they were really doing it.

We need to stop and think about the way we treat others…not just the people we love but the people who are hard to love, the ones we are tempted to laugh at.

Our children already have this figured out.

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No, Mommy Blogging is Not a Step Back For Feminism

we can blog itAs a new “mommy blogger” myself, it was with great amusement and minor annoyance that I read this article by Amana Manori on The Huffington Post Canada today.

According to Ms.Manori, women who blog strictly about motherhood are “[depicting themselves] as a crazy mother who is obsessed with canning baby food or the latest gizmo for their child’s nursery. Also, they probably don’t think that others see them as living in a bubble with no other interests than raising their bubble children.”

News flash Ms.Manori: We don’t care what you or anyone else thinks. We are confident enough in our very conscious decisions to raise our children and discuss raising our children in whatever ways we like.

It appears to me that Ms.Manori typed up her anti-mommy-blogger post just to get some hits on her own blog. Actually, I’m not sure why she calls herself a feminist, because she’s telling a huge group of other women that they are doing it all wrong. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a feminist as “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.” Ms.Manori is not advocating or supporting anyone in this post.  (See MomasteryParenting, Illustrated With Crappy Pictures for some examples of high quality mommy bloggers.)

She also demeans men by saying “I cringe at the thought that a man will read these blogs, in turn reinforcing antiquated ideas of women in the home.” I’m not sure what kind of men she hangs out with, but the men in my life value, respect and admire me for putting my career on the back burner for a few years to raise up two confident, kind, and giving members of society.  My posts about the ins and outs of my crazy days at home with two little ones make the men in my life laugh and smile.

Now that I’ve gotten all of this off my chest, perhaps I will go and can some organic baby food. Once I’m done that I will sit and google “gizmos” for my child’s nursery. On second thought, I’ll just go to sleep. That’s the only thing I obsess about these days.

Fear and Bumbos

High Alert! Breaking News! Yesterday new parents around North America were tweeting, facebooking and texting in a panic. No, it was not a child abduction or abuse case. No, it was not a report on children being mistreated, starved or locked in a basement. It was just another Bumbo recall.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/bumbo-baby-seats-recalled-after-injury-reports/article4482362/

Before I had Brother B I marched out and bought a brand-new green Bumbo. That’s what you do now when you have a baby: buy expensive plastic things that will make you a good parent. The Bumbo helps your baby sit up before they can sit alone. The typical baby uses it for about 3.5 hours over the course of a few weeks. In 2007 a “recall” was issued because too many parents were using the Bumbo on the table or counter. Babies were falling out. Duh. The “recall” involved putting a sticker on the Bumbo that basically said, “Don’t be an idiot put the Bumbo on the table.”

Every since I was young it has bothered me that you need a license to have a dog or cat but anybody can have a baby.

The latest recall of 4 million Bumbos is due to a few injuries. A couple of parents left their child in the Bumbo (either on a table or off). The children wriggled around, fell out, and banged their heads. They got hurt. A no-brainer. Not a reason to cause a panic and give new mothers yet one more thing to worry about.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Bring out the helmets and the bubblewrap. Close the curtains, lock the doors and keep those children safe!

Not tickled pink

I like the colour pink. I love dressing my daughter in pink. It brings out her rosy complexion and bright blue eyes. What I don’t like is that in 2012 girl = pink.

When I had my son four years ago I didn’t think much about colour. One day he was dressed head to toe in blue, with a blue spaceship blanket and a blue soother. Someone in Walmart said to me, “Oh, what a beautiful baby girl!” That made me laugh.

My baby pictures include lots of yellow, green, red, white and blue, since I wore my brother’s hand-me-downs. My toy box was a colourful mess of gender-neutral Fisher Price toys, a blue dollhouse, six Cabbage Patch dolls and a huge assortment of multi-coloured Lego. Going into a toy store in the 80s was a colourful, wonderful mixture of toys that girls and boys could choose from. Two of my favourite “toys” were a real hammer and saw from my aunt Kate.

Walk into a Toys “R” Us today and the girls’ aisles are a sea of pink: dolls, kitchens and house-cleaning equipment. I adore watching Little A take care of her dolly and mimic me (and her Daddy) around the house. She is equally delighted with her brother’s castle and knights, farm set and rusty metal sandbox trucks. I’m sure she will go through a princess phase, but for now it’s fun to see her not care what she plays with.

Brother B loves to do “boy” things: race his (obnoxiously loud!) vehicles up and down our hardwood hallway and build Lego pirate ships. On the other hand, he treats his doggas like precious babies and is fascinated by the “girl” toys creeping into our house. Sometimes I listen to the way he talks to his sister and I am proud. He is gentle, empathetic and kind. Of course other times he hits, knocks her over and makes her cry, but that’s to be expected.

Looking at the website for WOW toys, little girls should play princesses and fairies, take care of horses and make cupcakes. They can be pilots, as long as they choose a pink airplane and wear pink clothes. The only non-pink, non-stereotypical girl set in the “Girls Toys” section is an ambulance. Anything else that is active or slightly risky is in the boys’ section.

Maybe I was a tomboy because I grew up on a farm and had strong female role models but I remember playing “restaurant”, “hospital”, “library” and “Lego city” imaginary games with my brother for hours. I also loved taking toys outside in the spring and making floods and disasters in the mud at the edge of the barley field. I remember other games that involved chasing my brother with a big stick but that’s a story for another day.

My children choose their own toys. I hope as they grow they can be who they want to be, the way they were created to be, even if society tells them otherwise.

What do you think about pink?

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