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A love letter to my husband

love note
Image by p-duke via Flickr

by Lela Demeter

Dear Husband,

When we first got pregnant, I never realized that having your baby would be like setting off a nuclear explosion in our marriage.  First, we were two.  And it was awesome.  You were my best friend and everything else in between.  We liked the same music and movies and you always could get me to laugh.  We got along so well, we figured ‘why be with anybody else?’  So we got married.  We both wanted children so we figured, ‘hey we could do this.’  So then when we became three that is when life really got started.  Us became a team.

Having our son made me Superwoman.  But you are the wind underneath my cape.  Here’s why:

1) Now, I work outside the home and its because of you that I can go to work – you are taking care of getting baby to daycare.

2) Maybe you don’t see it, but when you play with the baby for five minutes so I can go to the bathroom or wash the dishes, that is priceless.

3) When I was on maternity leave, I took the midnight feedings, but when you get up in the middle of the night because I am going to work, that makes me feel like a million bucks.

4) Our son looks like you.  He smiles like you.  I love looking at the blueprint for what kind of man my boy will become.

5) You witnessed the miracle of childbirth from an angle I didn’t see.  And you still hook up with me!!

6) You are the only other person on the earth who probably has the same amount of love for our baby as I do.  And you think that when I talk about him, its really interesting.

7) You don’t care that I am wearing two day old sweats, haven’t combed my hair or even brushed my teeth on the weekend, because you haven’t either.

8) I could put the carseats in the car, but thank you for doing a good job of it.

9) I am glad we worked out our parenting strategy early.  You are the bad cop and I will be the worse cop.

10) You are the kind of dad that I am proud to brag about to my friends.

I love you.  Let’s do this kid thing again sometime.

Wife

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The Curse of the Sanctimommy

Mommy Sandwich - Week 2 my kids & me
Image by ~PhotograTree~ via Flickr

by- Lela Demeter

Most of the time, I think I am the world’s worst mother.  A good friend of mine told me that “jackets are the things God invented when mothers are cold.”  Yeah, well sometimes my kid doesn’t have a jacket and probably should.  Oh yeah, when my kid is whining, I am the mother that says, “Don’t sweat it, it will be okay.”  Yeah, baby talk doesn’t happen in my house and I have been known to watch the Bachelor in front of my kid and read excerpts from Wiseguy (the book that inspired the movie Goodfellas) aloud to my baby (hey, its reading and I only read the part about how to hijack airplanes).  In all seriousness, I know that I am not the perfect mom, but I put a lot of effort into trying to be as good as I can be.

Which is why it surprised me that I had a major sanctimommy moment.  If you have looked at any mommy blog, you will know that the sanctimommy is the mother who looks at another mom and either thinks or says something critical.  Like if you see a mom like me at the mall, and she is cursing the stroller because it has the audacity to adhere to the laws of physics and flip over because you have taken the equal weight of one side- your child and left weight on the other side- the diaper bag (this goes without saying that the diaper bag and child are approximately the same weight and considering my child is 20 pounds, this is a sad commentary on my packing issues), the sanctimommy makes a comment or thinks, “Man, what a disorganized mom, I feel sorry for that kid.”

I used to think that I was so scattered that I would never have a sanctimommy moment – but I did.  Picture this, my husband and I are doing one of the many truck shows that he takes (ahem, drags) me to.  Of course we have our baby, our junior mint, with us, because we have to start our boy young. Anyway, I look over and this girl (at least 10 years younger than me) is holding a tiny baby.  He is five months old and my husband and I are staring in disbelief because there is no way that our sprout was this little at five months.  Now, its about 55 degrees outside and while balmy for Chicago, I have our boy bundled up in jeans, a shirt, thick socks, a thick fleece sweatshirt, in the stroller, under a blanket and with protective ear wear.  This other little baby – t-shirt, blanket, no socks and no hat.

Now, I immediately go into Sanctimommy mode – this poor child must be saved.  And all of these thoughts go running though my head – low birth weight – obviously this girl wasn’t taking care of herself.  No clothes- and I notice the baby has blue hands.  And all of these thoughts fly through my brain and then I begin to look around.  It seems like my kid is the only one bundled up like we are going to compete in the Iditarod.  Further, everyone else is having fun and I am the one scowling at my husband that we are out past the baby’s bedtime even though the baby is peacefully sleeping 100 feet from the trucks (that I, of course, thought we were sitting too close to – what if one drove into us?).  Then I look at the girl and the baby.  She is holding him up and smiling at him – when she is not wrapping the baby tight in the blanket close to her.  And then she spent five minutes chatting with some friends and she left.  Total cold exposure for baby = about 10 minutes.

Stylish diaper bag
Image by eugene via Flickr

Such is the curse of the sanctimommy.  Sometimes we are just so worried about doing right by our own children and are so hypersensitive about how our own parenting is perceived by others that we sometimes can feel better or sanctimonious just because we need to feel as though we are doing a good enough job. In the working world, we perceive our job performance by praise or raises.  In the parenting world, we don’t get that feedback at all – everything we do is guesswork on a good day.  By the time we can see the fruits of our labor, i.e. well adjusted kids, we have enough life experience to realize that sometimes the best you’ve got is all that matters. Now, the next time I go out, instead of looking to see if I am the best mommy there, I will go back to what I like to do – eyeing up the other baby gear that the moms have and coveting it.

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All I Needed to Know about Life I learned in the first six months of Parenthood

six-month-old boy asleep in greataunt's arms
Image by Martin LaBar via Flickr
by Lela Demeter
As my child gets closer to the huge first birthday, I thought I would jot down some random thoughts that I have learned in the long, strange trip that is parenthood.
  1. Your kid does have a distinctive scream.
  2. Your own parents are crazy because they raised kids and you will be that crazy one day too.
  3. Old ladies don’t stoop because of old age, they stoop because they have spent years reaching down to small children and lifting them up.
  4. The best strength training is your child.  Just look at the gun I have in one arm.
  5. Your childhood begins and ends the moment you become a parent.
  6. You can cry and laugh when your child is laughing because it is the most beautiful thing in the world.
  7. You can fall in love with a tiny person who has no bowel control, can’t feed themself or speak a disconcernable language.
  8. Babies learn to smile at their mothers early so they get taken care of.  Its very similar to the smile a spouse has when they do something wrong.
  9. Babies are like the very elderly.  Both are helpless but are valuable and need love nonetheless.
  10. Being a parent makes you a better human being.
  11. You will sound like your mother. Deal with it.
  12. Being a parent is like being mentally ill.
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Lela Demeter is an educator, technologist and mother of one.

‘Dad is sleeping as he enjoyed the whiskey at the party…’

…and other hilarious emails from your mother

love, mom bookFor years, I’ve saved the emails my mom has sent me. Some are funny, some are sweet, some are nothing anyone else would appreciate besides maybe my brother. I thought I was the only person nostalgic enough to do such a thing, until I discovered Love, Mom: Poignant, Brilliant, Goofy Messages From Home.

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How to Child-Proof Your Houseguests

from Advice Smackdown by Amy

childproof_houseguests.jpg Photo by Mirko Macari
First off, I do love my MIL but I just don’t know what to do anymore. She comes to visit every couple months and I feel like I have a third child when she comes. This last time she locked herself out of the house (while my hubby and I were out for my birthday) with my 7 month old inside. I was hysterical in the car racing home (we were about 20 minutes away) and the baby was in her jumper- thankfully- so she couldn’t get into anything and my MIL could see her in through the window. When we arrived back she instantly wanted to joke about the whole situation and I have a great sense of humor but it was a little too soon to joke about it. I think I handled it very well and told her that it could have happened to anyone, blah blah but then it got worse. The day after she left I got my 7 month up in the am and was letting her crawl around her room (the same room MIL sleeps in when she visits) and I hear her choking on something at first I thought she was just spitting up (bad reflux in the morning) until I saw something in her hand- it was a piece of wax/silicone ear plug (the ones you can mold into balls to just stick in your ear) at that moment I realized that my baby just swallowed one and was holding the other. I jumped up and got my husband and we called the hospital which led to us going to our dr., calling poison control, and then finally deciding that we need to wait and see and muddle through her poop- oh what fun! OK- so who would leave ear plugs like that on the floor in a baby’s room? Oh wait I forgot something- this has happened 2x before with my nephews but the plugs were caught before swallowed. Oh and there’s more…2x she has dropped medications on the floor without knowing and my toddler almost ate one and the other I found on the floor. After that we asked her to only take her meds at the sink and she has yet to listen to that. What do I do- tell her she can’t visit until she becomes a responsible adult? It’s just so hard for me to understand how someone could be so careless, especially someone who has raised her own children. Of course I have what I like to call “mommy guilt” and think it’s my fault that she swallowed it, I didn’t have my eyes on her at that very moment, but I did clean the room after she left and since the stuff is the same color as the rug I didn’t see it but maybe I should have known from her history not to assume anything. I’m just so mad for her irresponsibility and I don’t know what to do- help! B

Can you tell her she can’t visit until she becomes a responsible adult? No. You can’t. Well, obviously you CAN, but I don’t think ripping the family apart and barring access to grandchildren is a reasonable reaction to the problem. A couple thoughts, right off the bat: You don’t mention how old your MIL is…but is it at all possible that she’s experiencing some memory loss? The earliest signs of dementia include problems with short-term memory, difficulty performing familiar tasks, poor judgment and misplacing/losing track of things. As in, forgetting that you asked her to keep meds by the sink, losing pills and earplugs, getting locked out of the house and not fully grasping the seriousness of her actions. If you’re noticing a definite decline and increase in this sort of behavior, SAY SOMETHING to your husband, and encourage her to get to a doctor ASAP. Beyond that, though, I’d encourage you to take a DEEP BREATH and remember this wonderfully annoying cliche: nobody’s perfect. I imagine plenty of mothers have locked themselves out of the house with their baby inside. Hell, if you’ve ever locked your keys in the car (guilty!) you know that it only take a second of absent-mindedness and the door is closing oh CRAP my KEYS too late. Plenty of us have accidentally missed a choking hazard while cleaning up, or forgotten to latch a baby gate, or spaced on who was supposed to pick the kids up from school. If your MIL is having memory problems, or doesn’t sleep as well in unfamiliar places (the earplugs do suggest she’s an easily-disturbed sleeper), or is just generally sort of spacey, she’s going to be less tuned-in to this sort of thing than you are. I know, though, that feeling. Even though everything was fine in the end, OH MY GOD. MY BABY. My father-in-law, in a fit of…I don’t even KNOW what…mistook a container of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes for the baby wipes and used them on my poor three-year-old’s bottom for a solid week before I realized what he was doing — all while we were frantically rewashing clothing and checking food labels in an attempt to figure out the source of my son’s mysterious, nasty rash. I was…not happy, to say the least, and full of alternating fits of guilt (for having the Clorox wipes in the kids’ bathroom in the first place) and utter annoyance (but who would use ANYTHING with a giant Clorox label on SKIN, ANY SKIN, much less THAT SKIN). A little butt balm later, everything was fine. My FIL was probably more rattled by it than my son. Your MIL was probably more rattled and embarrassed than she let on re: the locked-out-of-the-house thing, and really, you have to admit there was probably no reaction from her that would have made you happy. My FIL apologized endlessly for days, and I kept gritting my teeth and assuring him that oh, it’s fine! mistakes happen! could happen to anybody! I really just wanted to DROP IT, because every apology sent me back to that moment of discovery and GAHHHH HEAD EXPLODEY. In the end, though — as much as we want and hope family members will love and care for our children the way we do, they are OUR children, and therefore OUR responsibility. Your MIL’s visits probably will be a bit like having a third child to hover over. If you cannot offer her a space to stay other than the baby’s room, you’ll need to thoroughly sweep the room after she leaves. Hit The Container Store or Ikea before her next visit. Buy her a pill organizer and keep it in the bathroom. Help her unpack as soon as she arrives, and make sure you have specific, non-baby-accessible places for her non-baby-friendly items. (There’s something about living out of a suitcase that makes it easier for things to get scattered or lost. Offer drawers, hangers, boxes, etc.) No babysitting until you’ve determined that her memory is still sound and/or you’ve made it through a couple visits without incident. Your daughter won’t remember the time she swallowed Grandma’s earplug. She will remember the time she spent with Grandma, though, and the books and games and extra love and maybe some bittersweet memories about how she was always so silly and absentminded and would look for her glasses that were right on top of her head! Oh, Grandma.

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Going Green?

healthy-child

I’m always looking for ways to help keep the earth healthy. When it involves making my child healthier too, I’m all ears. Recently I read “Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home,” by Christopher Gavigan and learned a lot about keeping my family and my home healthy that I didn’t know before. From nontoxic ways to get rid of household pests (like ants, which I’m getting to test out now in my own home), to ways to minimize allergens in the home (I learned carpeting is not the best choice), to recipes for healthy snacks, homemade cleaners, and non-toxic crafts to make with your child, this book is jam-packed with great ideas. It’s definitely a book I’ll be referring to often during the day. The book also features a foreword by Meryl Streep and contributions by public health experts and other celebrity parents. I’d call this a must-read for all parents and those interested in helping to keep the earth as green as possible, and our kids as healthy as possible in the process.

from UpscaleBaby.com by Susan

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