Friday, August 29, 2014

Mommy Wars - probably not

I have been one of those Moms who really doesn't buy into the Mommy War stuff , and I am not sure I do even now, but I sure have experienced something that felt like Mommy War backlash recently.  Maybe it was just a mean Mom, or Maybe she is unhappy with her life, or maybe she was just having a bad day.  Regardless, she took it out on me and man did it sting!

It all started when I saw my youngest son walking back from our neighbors jungle gym with his head hung low.  We live in a neighborhood with large open yards, ideal for kids to run around and play outside.  This is the type of neighborhood I grew up in.  We spent many hours playing with the neighborhood kids, learning how to navigate the give and take of getting along and using our imaginations to have fun.

I wondered what had happened. He told me that his friend's Mom told him he could not play over at his house with his friends.  My heart sank, "Jack-Jack" had experienced the neighbor's older daughter on previous occasions telling him to leave, but neighbor Mom had always scolded her daughter to be nice.  We had just been over the other evening with all the kid's swimming together and getting along fine.  On this day there were a couple other boys over at our neighbor's house.  They all attended pre-school together and are entering Kindergarten in the fall.  Their jungle gym is in view from my yard, so when the boys called Jack-Jack over I told him he could go.  As things go, something happened.  I have no idea what, but I suspect a typical 5 year old debate over a rule of some game or who goes first , or one of the many disputes that come up.  Usually these are easily resolved by telling the kids they need to work together and get along, but this time neighbor Mom handled it by asking her son and the other 2 boys if they wanted Parker to leave.  (That is what I was told by the Mom) They said yes, so she sent him home.

Okay,  I told him, I'll play with you in the yard.  A short time later, the kids called  Jack-Jack to come over again.  "Can I Mom?", he asked.  "Yes, of course, but I'll go over with you and talk to Mrs. "Next door neighbor".

I went over, walking through in my mind the best way to approach this to not make it confrontational.  I do this at work all the time.  I can deal with major issues, people's careers, millions of dollars at stake - I should have the skills to talk this through with my neighbor.  Up to now we have had a nice relationship.  Kids playing together, glasses of wine, parties.  At least that's what I thought.....

So I went over, but she was in the house so I knocked on the door to the kitchen from the garage and called her " Hey, do you have a minute?".  I told her that the kids  had asked Parker over again and knowing that she had sent him home earlier I just wanted to let her know.   I can't really precisely say what happened next, but she went outside to the Jungle gym to find out who asked him over.  I basically said I really don't think it's a problem, they're getting along fine.

Then she hit me.  Not literally, but she might as well have.  Apparently, there was a list of annoyances that she had been building up.

  • "Jack-Jack" had come over and rang their door bell asking her son to play "10 times over the past year during dinner time!" 
  • If your son wants to play send me a text message!
  • She ranted that what kind of person let's their kid ring the door bell at dinner time!
  • Everyone knows that dinner time is between 5:30 and 6:30!  
  • You eat late and that is just UN-AMERICAN to eat late
  • And that day he came over the afternoon of Father's day.  How inconsiderate that was!  That is a special day to spend with their Father.
  • I've talked to other parents about all this and they think it's strange too!
  • And your kids go to bed late 
  • And,,,  YOU ARE A BAD MOM!

Okay so I tried to defend myself, but she really wasn't interested in talking, she wanted a fight.  I stood there thinking, "Does she really want to go down this path?  Our kids are the same age.  They are going to be in school together for the next 12 years.  We live next door.  Why would she pick a fight?"

I tried to calm the situation down with my responses.
  • I didn't realize your dinner times were so set.. We usually eat later.  I don't leave work until 5 and get home at 6.  I grew up eating at 8 pm more often than not so that we could all eat as a family (I thought that was America, at least my version of America)
  • Tell me what time my kids should not ring your door bell so we can respect your dinner hours - She never did answer that one.
  • I wont micromanage my kid's life, I want them to learn how to ring a door bell and  ask if their friend may come out to  play.  ( I am always watching from the end of the sidewalk, but maybe she doesn't know that)
  • The benefit of living in a neighborhood like ours is that the kids can run around and play in each other's yards, your kid's are always welcome at our house.
  • Sorry about Father's day, but for both Mother's and Father's Day I think a card is nice and that is that.  We invest a ton of time and love into our kids and neither my husband or I need a special day.  Plus Dad is at home full time so his idea of Father's day may have a different meaning.
  • My kids may go to bed late, but they are always at the bus stop and at school on time.  (Not the case for someone else's children , but I bit my tongue on that one)
  • Really, you are going around criticizing me with other parents?  Nice.  
  • Finally, I told her that if she didn't want any neighbor kids in the yard, then she should consider putting up a fence, but until then I wasn't going to police my kids from playing with friends.
That's about all I said.  I could of gone down to her level and pointed out her numerous short comings, but once those words come out, you cant pull them back.  

I didn't defend the Bad Mom comment, I really don't care what she thinks about me as a Mom.  I care what my husband thinks and my kids think, and ultimately on the outcome.  We all have our own opinions, but I know in my heart I'm a GOOD MOM.  Some days I'm a great Mom, other day's not so great, but I work really hard to keep my priorities straight.  Are my kids perfect angels?  Hardly.  Do I think I do what is right for my kids.  Absolutely.  I also think every parent has to decide for themselves how they can be the best parent to raise their kids into Adulthood.  Each kid is different and each family is unique.  Do what works for you, but don't judge my way so harshly.  

Mommy Wars?  No, probably not.  Mean Mom, maybe.  Unhappy Mom, probably.  I hope she finds a way to feel better about herself because I ultimately think this was more about her than me.  

I feel better already myself.  - Time to go bake cookies.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Commercial barrage

Anytime I doubt the ability of my 5 year old to grasp new information I just need to think to about his latest recital of a commercial he has seen on television. Kids have truly amazing minds.

Dash: "Dad, you really need to buy the sunsetter patio shade"
Dad: "Oh really, why?"
Dash: "It will lower the temperate on our patio by 20 degrees!"

Dash:"Mom, I need to show you this special cutter in the store"
Mom:" What?"
Dash:" It's amazing, you'll never have to cut anything again!"

The list of items we need to buy goes on forever. Dash is a walking "Commercial/Infomercial", but the best was a little nugget he shared with us in the car the other night...

Dash: "Mom, I saw something AMAZING on TV, but it's about something I'm not supposed to talk about"
Mom: "Well you can talk to me about it"
Dash: "You know where your pee comes out of?"
Mom: "Yes honey, you mean your penis"
Dash: " Yeah, I saw on TV that there is a chemical that will make it get REALLY BIG! Isn't that amazing!"
Mom (choking in laughter) " Yes honey, that is amazing"

Ah, the wonders of television and poor parental supervision..........

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On the Road Again

Probably the only upside to the economic disaster of the past couple years was that many of us had our travel budgets cut drastically to tighten corporate belts. For me this was definately the case. Both myself and my family became very used to me being around all the time. With the exception of occasional evening conference calls with colleagues in distant time zones I spent most of 2009 on the ground and more importantly home for dinners, baths, and bedtime stories.

Now 2010 has rolled in, not only with the hint of recovery, but for me a new job also. That means I have taken to the skies again and I have been making up for lost frequent flier miles quickly. I set this ridiculous goal in my mind to visit all the sites that I am responsible for in my new job in 6 weeks. This is a self-imposed torture, but I enjoy that part of my job. Meeting with the people who actually add value versus overhead is energizing.

So sadly, having just got home this morning, I am prepping to head out again tomorrow afternoon. I told my 5 year old that I was sorry for having to leave again. He responded, "I don't mind", as if I had just told him I was going to the grocery store. Maybe the LEGOs I came home with this moring were a bit too good of a travel gift?

The volcanic eruption several weeks ago seems to have been my only saving grace and I find myself this Saturday evening hoping that it's current disruption of the airspace in Spain creeps over to Switzerland so that I don't have to catch an aiplane Sunday afternoon. hmmmm. If not, I know they sell LEGOs in the Brussels airport.

Monday, June 8, 2009


So I'm sitting in an audit meeting at work, trying to look like the responsible leader that I am, when I notice that I have dried buggers all over my arm! To make it even worse, it's 3 pm, so I've been walking around with buggers on my arm ALL DAY long.

I slowly place my arm beneath the table, away the observent eyes of the inspectors (I do work in the medical product business). How many people did I meet with today in this condition? Did they notice? Were they just too polite to ask about the gunk on my arm?

I didn't even have to wonder how they got there. Jack-Jack has been spewing from his nose for a week now. A combination of a cold and teething. He's not very cooperative when it comes to getting his nose wiped so I have several tactics that I use. The first is to distract him and go in for the quick swipe, hoping I get it all in one hit before he even knows what happened. The second is the full force approach; pin his arms down, keep his head still, and do a good thorough cleaning. There's lots of resistence with this approach so I don't prefer it. The last is the indirect route, but my favorite. Sit him in the bath tub and let him clean up by splashing in the tub. No resistance, lots of fun, it's just not very convienent when I'm rushing out the door.

So, this morning, the quick strike was a failure. He turned his head just as I was going in for his nose and he must have got me on the arm. I had to proceed with the full force approach to complete the task. After that was all over I forgot about the hit on the arm and moved everyone out the door.

And that's how I ended up sitting in a meeting with buggers on my arm. Oh well, I'm a Mom, they'll just have to get over it, I have.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Learning toRide

Dash, who is 4 3/4, rode his 2-wheeler for the first time this weekend. We pretty much brought the bike home, he got on it, and rode all by himself. Yes, we helped him with a little push, but once he got going he had no problem. Is he exceptionally coordinated? NO. I have to give the credit on this one to my husband and a nifty little bike he bought two summers ago for our son.

Mr. I has a knack for finding all the latest and greatest new gadgets and toys. He came across this bike made in Germany on the internet a couple of years ago. It's called a "like-a-bike" ( Basically it's a 2-wheeler with no pedals. He convinced me it would be a great thing to get and I blindly nodded my head yes, thinking to myself, "whatever you say dear". But when it arrived and I saw how easily Dash, at the time not even 3, sped away on the pedaless 2 wheeler, riding in circles on our drive-way, I was convinced!

Everywhere we took that bike in the US we had people turning their heads asking us about it. What was great for me was that we could actually ride our bikes at normal speed with him. This is not something you can typically do with a 3 year old on a bike.

With the concept of balancing on 2 wheels out of the way it only left Dash with needing to learn how to pedal. I have to admit that this was a concern for me. I was worried he would be cheated by never riding a tricycle! That didn't seem to hold him back at all though. He got that down pretty quickly. Now he just needs to learn the concept of breaking! Thank goodness for Bike Helmets!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where did the time go?........

So when I originally started working on this post this is how it went...... Well I survived my first week back at work and not surprisingly so did my kids and my husband. The most drama we had were the few tears I shed on Monday morning as I had to say goodbye to Jack-Jack. Things went surprisingly smooth and our biggest challenge was due to the abundance of snow still remaining on the streets and parking lots in our small town.

That was 3 months ago, it is mid April and I'm am now I am just finishing (or starting) this post. The snow is gone and Spring is here. My Maternity leave seems like a distant memory to me.

Getting back to work the second time around was easier. The logistics of the morning were a little more hectic with two, but I had a little more confidence that this time around my husband knew how to feed and care for a baby. Note, that does not mean I always come home to a baby that has been fed and changed, but the possibility exists!

The bigger challenge I have found about going back to work is re-integrating into the work place. I tried to approach the first week with the benefit of knowledge gained from my last return from Maternity leave. Let's face it, my co-workers had gotten used to working with out me for the 4 months. Some picked up extra duties and others have become used to going to someone else for support and other things have piled up and not gotten done.

My approach:
1. Let people know I'm back!
2. Be visible
3. Keep the stories short
4. Don't look for pity

Letting people know I'm back - This is the first thing I did (actually the night before my return) was to send an email out to my organization that I was back. Thanking them for their support and hard work during my leave was the major theme of the message. Letting them know that I was available and ready to get back to business was the second. When I arrived in the office I made the rounds to say hi to people face to face. Since it was the start of the new year and everyone else was coming back from the Holidays this worked out well. This may seem like an obviouse thing to do, but you would be surprised how often it does not happen.

Being Visible, Be Available - The last time I returned from leave I had a harder time getting back in step with the routine of work. My heart was not completely in it and it showed in my commitment to work. This probably isn't unusual for returning mothers, but it can really be self destructive. Not only do you not want to be at work, but the results of your efforts and time there end up not producing results.

Keeping the stories short - I aslo told myself not to overwhelm people with stories about my baby and what we did on leave. I know most people are not nearly as interested in my baby as I am. All those incredibly amazing stories about smiles, gurgles, pooping, and crying that a Mom cherishes may actually be boring and way too much information for others. So I was careful to wait for people to ask about my baby before I shared and then I kept it at a minimum.

Don't Look for pity - Another area I was sensitive to was that no one feels sorry for you after you just took 4 months off. They have been working all that time - duh. The fact that for the first few months I was in a state of sleep deprivation really doesn't matter. Even other Mom's quickly forget what it was like.

So 3 months have past. I'm enjoying my job and being a Mom to 2 boys and a wife to a third. It's hectic at times and often I find I can't even come close to getting everything done I want to. Priorities tend to cut out the nice to do's - like blogging.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Seasoned travelers

We just returned back to Switzerland after spending the Holidays in the US. As I was sorting through my mail today I opened a notification for an airline "Elite" member Status. Not unusual mail for me as I travel often, except that the notification was for Dash, my 4 year old!

Before I had kids I used to grimace at the sight of young children on a plane, especially on a long flight, but now I understand and cast an understanding look of compassion to parents traveling with kids. Managing kids on the plane is only half the battle, the exhausting part is getting everyone packed, organized and to the airport on time to make the flight. By the time I get on the plane I am so exhausted that I could sleep through a rock concert, unfortunately I usually only get a few nods of sleep as I try to keep an eye on my two boys.

My kids are turning into seasoned travelers at a very young age, especially now that we are living in Switzerland. Dash comfortably navigates airport security lines and train stations. He handles himself like a little trooper, lugging his most prized toys and stuffed animals in his backpack. Even on the long flight over the Atlantic he manages to behave really well, occupying himself with movies when he's not sleeping. Jack-Jack seems to be following in his footsteps, sleeping and eating the whole way with hardly a whimper. They almost always manage to make me proud of them.

Sure they have their lapses, they are kids after all. On one flight my son's bear got launched across the business class cabin into the face of an unsuspecting gentleman. Another time he walked out of the bathroom with his pants and underwear at his ankles calling for me to help him. Everyone that caught sight thought it was very entertaining and my son loves to be an entertainer. That resulted in him pulling the same stunt on the next flight that day. Since then we've had a long talk about pulling his pants up BEFORE he leaves the bathroom!

Hopefully they continue to make me proud as we travel from place to place. They are gaining experiences that I never had at their age. My first flight wasn't till I was about 11 for a family trip to Disney world. The world is different now though, and hopefully this is one way I can help prepare them for their future. To my kids, getting on a plane is as normal as getting on a bus. They will grow up being comfortable with many things that I didn't experience well into my adulthood. Hopefully, along the way, they wont make too many seasoned travelers grimace when they board the airplane and make many more smile when the flight ends and they behaved liked seasoned travelers.