When I noticed that an overnight trip was a part of the 3rd grade curriculum at my daughter’s school, I furrowed my brow for a sec. But I shrugged and thought, “No biggie, I’ll just make sure I’m one of the chaperones.” Until I found out that parents weren’t allowed to chaperone. Not one. Then I realized that for me, this trip had become the first step in the arduous process of letting go of my child. Continue reading
My daughter recently studied butterfly metamorphosis at school. When she came home with her completed project and explained each phase of their life cycle, I realized just how much parents have in common with butterflies. Much like butterflies pass through four phases of life before complete metamorphosis, we will experience four phases of parenting before our children become adults. Continue reading
It is often said that we become what we believe. One of the most notable books on the subject, The Secret, is all about the law of attraction, positive thinking and visualizing your dreams to fruition. I am a firm believer of this and when my daughter turned 3, I began to introduce this concept to her as well. It might seem like a young age to start a discussion on such a mind-bending subject, but I figured if I can train her to go to the bathroom, to hold my hand in public places and all of the other rules of childhood, why not train her to believe that her dreams are there for the taking? And while working with her to develop this characteristic over the last few years, I’ve had a few epiphanies myself! Continue reading
With a 7-year-old daughter, I spend quite a bit of time at the park. As I watch her play with the other kids and eavesdrop on their conversations, it occurred to me how much they have in common with successful entrepreneurs. Between the spats, bumps and bruises, here’s what I’ve learned… Continue reading
Have you ever been so close to reaching your dream, you can taste it…feel it…touch it? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. That realizing my dream is so close! Which is sooo exciting and sooo scary at the same time. Continue reading
My daughter and I went ice skating last week. After a few shaky times around the rink, she got into a zone and didn’t want me anywhere near her. “I got it mommy, I got it,” she said. I’m pretty used to that by now, so obliged and stayed a few feet behind her. Once more around and I noticed that she seemed to hop every few feet or so. First, I thought she was just trying not to fall because her arms were out to the side. Then I realized what she was doing—she was trying to do a JUMP! “Did you see me, mommy?! Did you see my jump?!” After going ice skating a handful of times, she is confident enough to attempt a jump?! Maybe a little too confident. Continue reading
The first time I got pregnant, I had a miscarriage at ten weeks. While I was ecstatic when I got pregnant almost a year later, I was also scared to death that I could have another miscarriage. I kept thinking that if I could just get past the eleven-week milestone, everything would be okay and I could relax a little. Once I made it past eleven weeks, I relaxed and focused on getting through the 2nd trimester. I had a few challenges along the way, but gave birth to a healthy baby girl in 2006.
As a new mom, I had many concerns, but my biggest was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. So I got a baby monitor that detects movement. I quickly learned that if the motion pad was not placed correctly in the crib, it would sound an alarm that will scare the holy hell out of you. And of course, that always managed to happen in the middle of the night. Thank god, they were all false alarms. Needless to say, I faithfully turned it on every night for 4 years until my husband finally convinced me that my daughter would be fine without it.
Now that she has started school, I worry about what’s to come—bullying, mean girls, friendships that fade, boys that disappoint. Will she stand up for herself? Will she be a follower? Will she be a mean girl? Will she know better than to sext, drink or smoke? Will she choose her friends wisely? Will she know that a broken heart won’t last forever? Will she love herself? Will she understand that it does get better? Then I think to myself—if I can just get her off to college successfully, my job will be done.
But wait. Now that she’s away from home, is she going to take good care of herself? Is she going to eat enough? Is she going to class? Does she know the difference between a nice guy and a bad boy? Oh god, is she into bad boys? Will she use protection? Will she get a tattoo? Will she know not to get in a car with someone who’s been drinking? Will she drink? Then, I think to myself—once she graduates college, my job will be done.
Now she’s an adult. Her life is her own and she doesn’t have to consult with me about anything. Wait…she doesn’t have to consult with me about anything?! Will she know what to wear to that interview? Is she walking around with chipped red nail polish? Will she call me? Is she moisturizing and wearing sunblock? Is she working too much? Is she getting enough rest? Does she think about how her decisions affect others? Is she dating someone who is worthy and appreciates her as she is? Is she saving enough for her future? Is she aware of her surroundings at all times? Is she recycling? Does she truly know how amazing she is?
As each day passes, I realize that no matter how old my daughter gets, there will never be a time when I stop worrying about her. Rather than parent from the beginning to end, I decided to try it backwards and parent from the end to the beginning. What does that mean? It means looking forward to the person that I want my daughter to be as an adult and realizing how the decisions I make today affect her tomorrow (kind of like those Direct TV commercials about what the future looks like when you make bad decisions). I started by creating a vision statement. It simply reads:
I want my daughter to give to the world as much as she takes from it.
So basically, I’m consciously trying not to send another lazy, spoiled, entitled, dependent, apathetic jerk out into the world for the rest of you to deal with. While I’m sure that’s the goal of every parent, the decisions we make along the way determine how successful we are. Every parenting decision I make goes back to the vision statement. If it’s not in line with the statement, it ain’t happening! From the food she eats, to the way she is disciplined, to the toys and games she plays, to the television shows she watches (note: an open letter to the Disney Channel is forthcoming)—everything goes back to the statement.
It requires me to look in the mirror quite often and remember that she is watching me and how I live my life. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about how what I say and do will “show up” in her future—for better or for worse. Am I underestimating her ability to understand my adult conversations? Did I tell her to be quiet when she mentioned that the cashier forgot to ring up an item? Did she hear me tell my mother-in-law that I had to get off the phone because I was giving her a bath when I was not? The way I treat my husband, how I handle disappointment, what responsibilities I have as a mom, how I give to others—all of these seemingly little things make a big difference in how she sees me and how she views the world. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes along the way (see Disney Channel note above) but that little face watching my every move has definitely made me a better person.
The truth is that once you become a parent, you really never get another peaceful night’s sleep. But the vision of my future daughter helps me sleep pretty darn good.
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Bullying has gained increased public awareness over the last few years. If you think back, I am sure you can recall a time when you were bullied, or when you were the bully. Recently, it hit close to home with my 6 year-old daughter Journey. She came home about a month after school complaining that she had a scrape on her hand from being pushed down. We had a conversation and I chalked it up to playground roughhousing. About a week later, it happened again. This time I got more of the back-story and found out that she plays football everyday with the boys during recess. The boys starting teasing her because she is the only girl who plays. She ignored them and kept playing. Realizing that the teasing was not having an effect, eventually the boys stopped and she continued to play. Except for one little boy. This time he tackled her, even though it is not allowed on the playground. “Did he apologize”, I asked. “No”, she replied. “Did you tell the teacher?” “Yes, she made him take a break.” I also told her to ask for an apology the next day at school. A few weeks later, it happened again. This time, I contacted the teacher to fill her in on the situation. It was the beginning of October and there was no way we were going to deal with this behavior for the entire school year. I was very careful to acknowledge that I only had one side of the story, but we definitely had a problem. The teacher spoke with both kids and thankfully the issue seems to have been resolved.
There are 2 things that I learned from this experience:
It’s hard to bully a confident kid
I’m sure the boys teased Journey with hopes that she would quit the game. But she didn’t let it phase her one bit. She was confident enough to be different and not let others stop her from doing what she wanted to do. When I asked her why she didn’t stop playing, she said, “I had to fight through it, that’s what brave girls do.”
The fine line between “kids being kids” and when to get involved
It is a parent’s instinct to want to jump in and “handle” every situation that your kids get into. My husband was ready to roll on the kid at recess like Cam did on the boy who pulled Lily’s hair in a recent episode of Modern Family. But letting them figure out some things for themselves is part of what will make them strong and independent. While it was appropriate to step in when it was obvious that this was a pattern of unsuitable behavior, I don’t believe it’s my place to fight all of Journey’s battles. But it is my job to give her the tools she needs to learn how to fight them herself. Asking for an apology is one example. Kids push and hit each other quite often at this age—most times by accident, sometimes on purpose. A teacher or parent won’t always be there to prompt an apology, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. When you ask for an apology, what you are really asking is that the person acknowledges the hurt caused by their actions intentionally or otherwise. Realizing this at such a young age will certainly have a long-term effect on how Journey treats other and allows others to treat her.
Journey has since moved on to play other games on the playground. I’m sure this won’t be our last encounter with a “bully”, but as long as she has the confidence to fight through it like brave girls do, I know she’ll be fine.