Posts tagged with Parenting

Mama needs to put down the phone

My husband and I have been discussing our (particularly MY) phone use lately. The conversation has been mostly focusing on the amount of time I spend behind my phone screen, not necessarily how I’m using it. Let’s just say these conversations get quite tense at times.

That’s sugarcoating it, by the way.

As a social media consultant, blogger and work-from-home mom, I’m on my phone A LOT. I’m never without it. It’s become another extension of me, kinda like a third arm. It’s impossible for me to ever do one of those Facebook Fasts people talk about or go on vacation and turn off my phone. It’s never gonna be possible for me. It’s too much ingrained in my job, my life and me as a professional.

It’s not just about work though. I’ve had several other mom friends admit their own phone addictions to me. Our phones, tablets and computers are very important to us. It’s like the old school definition of “it takes a village” has evolved into the Internet. No longer do we call up our mom or girlfriend when we have a question about our kid’s rash. We Google it. I recently made the best pie crust of my life and it didn’t come from an old family recipe, it came from Pinterest. HJ’s favorite shoes came from a Facebook swap shop group. At the touch of a button, I can connect with groups of moms from all over the world via social media and ask questions, support each other AND enjoy adult conversation. Best part? I can do it all silently during nap time. It’s a huge blessing.

But if we’re being really honest here, even I started to recognize my problem. My phone is also a crutch. It’s an addiction. And it’s a hindrance. When I’m bored, I pick up my phone. When the kids are playing, I pick up my phone. When I’m waiting to meet up with a friend, I pick up my phone. Even when I’m not working, I am. I’m still checking blogs, news feeds and viral stories. I’m watching my kids do hilarious things through my phone screen rather than in real life. I’m surfing Pinterest rather than having a conversation with my husband. My kids have even started calling me out by saying, “Mommy put the phone down!”

THAT is a problem. However, it’s a problem I don’t know how to fix. I’m at home many days with no one else but my small children. My phone is my desperate lifeline to the outside world: a world with things other than Peppa Pig, the Fresh Beat Band, ABCs, and constant whining for snacks. I have anxiety just thinking of the possibility of being home an entire day without an Internet connection. I need the distraction. I need the ability to escape, even if it’s only for five-minute increments.

Isn’t that sad? You can say yes.

While it’s not all bad, the fact that I don’t know when to put the phone down is not something I’m proud to say. I’m working through it and making a conscious effort to try other things when conversations lull or a spare moment pops up. I’m trying the whole “ask a question to drum up a new conversation” when people get quiet and reading a book to wind down at night. So far I’m failing horribly, but I’m not giving up. Squashing this habit is way more difficult than I’d anticipated. I’ll get there though. I will find that happy middle ground.

Other moms and dads, do you find you have a small addiction to your phone or tablet? What has helped you detach?


Teach them about sex, the right kind

This is a hard time to raise girls. It’s not because of all of the reasons I’d thought would make it difficult either. The newest dolls, dresses, Barbies, dance classes and the like aren’t the things that scare me as they grow older. Worries about missed curfews and too many after-school activities aren’t so much on the radar either.

The thing that has me worried right now is that someday, someone out there won’t see one of my daughters for the brilliant, incredible person she is and instead will see an object for sexual gratification.

I don’t like the term “rape culture,” but we do live in a world where sex is considered the goal. In college, I remember the bar scene and the conversations happening around me. I remember so many bad decisions being made, some even by myself. Sex is on someone’s brain and it’s someone’s goal for many evenings. Guys (and girls) high five each other for “getting some,” and an intimate act becomes somewhat of a game. It trivializes it to a point that makes it seemingly no big deal to so many.

That’s what scares me. What if, some day, my daughter has too many drinks? What if a “nice” guy tells her he’ll drive her home? What if he takes advantage of her state and takes her to his house? What if some innocent kisses go too far? And then, what if everyone blows it off as a “boys will be boys” incident or worse, blame her for getting drunk in the first place?

I grew up surrounded by the mindset that you didn’t dress in a certain way, you didn’t go to certain places, and you didn’t drink to excess if you didn’t want bad things to happen to you. Now that I’m a parent, I realize the error in my previous thinking. Why should the VICTIM ever be to blame? Why should my daughters not get to make the same mistakes and learn from them as your sons without the risk of being sexually assaulted? Why is the responsibility on their shoulders to not be attacked against their will?

No. No. No. This HAS to stop. Someday I’d love to have a son. I’d love to watch his dad teach him to play basketball (because let’s be real, I’m still afraid of the ball). I’d love to see him grow up to be the kind of guy that everyone laughs with and wants to have around. I’d also love to help break away from today’s current mindset of how boys can act. I will teach him that it’s not okay to publicly ogle someone’s body. I will teach him that catcalling and whistling has no place on a city sidewalk. I’ll also be sure he knows that sex is something that’s important, intimate, and very, very private. It’s not something to high five your boys about.

That being said, these are also lessons I will be teaching my girls. Just as we ask boys to not behave this way, we must follow suit as women. It’s not empowering to sleep around. It’s not being a feminist to disregard the connection you’re supposed to feel to the person with whom you’re sleeping. It’s not cool to forget the name of the guy who spent the night last night. I say this because I want to help spare them from hurt. From heartache. From antibiotics.

I will be honest with them about my past and the mistakes I made getting to where I am now. I will answer questions as best as I can. I will not sugarcoat things, but I also won’t teach them to be prudes. Sex is a wonderful (and awesome) thing. But we’re in this mess because our society views it as trivial.

So I ask, if it’s so trivial, then why are so many getting hurt?

Be safe. Be respectful. And please, let’s teach THAT to our children.

Reply 2 comments from Merrill

Saying Goodbye to My Baby

One of the things I struggle with as a parent is saying goodbye to each stage and welcoming new stages without sadness. No matter how proud and excited I am for my girls to reach a new milestone, there is always a tinge of sadness that another part of their babyness is gone forever.

HJ went to her first day of preschool this week. I was genuinely excited for the day to be here. My eldest child is a textbook extrovert. She thrives in social settings and loves having activity after activity to participate in. As a work-from-home mom, I’m pretty awful at providing these things for her myself. So, I knew preschool was going to be a home run for her. As soon as we chose the right place for us, I was counting down the days until she could start.

I was actually surprised with myself at how okay I was with the whole thing. I didn’t even have a hint of anxiety as the day drew near. We’d picked out her outfit, got her backpack ready, painted a canvas bag for spare clothes, and talked all summer about her new school. She needed it. Just like I need my nights with my girls, she needs to get out there with her own thing. It’s scary how alike we are sometimes.

So I don’t know why I was surprised when the sadness hit me like a ton of bricks the morning before I dropped her off. She was dressed in her new outfit with her long hair in pretty little curls down her back. She looked so giant. I kept staring at her and I realized, that’s the baby who used to belly laugh when I pretended to eat her toes. That’s the tiny tot who used to say “Too too” in place of thank you when I gave her cheese. My tiny baby is a big girl and I’ll never get to snuggle her chubby baby cheeks again. In fact, those memories of a cheerful, smiley baby were only going to get fuzzier and fuzzier as time went on.

My baby was gone.

The tears rolled down my face as I looked at her. As much as I was excited for her, I was so very sad that chubby rolls were being replaced with macaroni pictures and paste. Just like the sadness that rolls over me with every box of baby clothes I pack up, it felt like I was packing up another box of memories. We’ve reached the time in her life where she doesn’t only need me. She needs shapes, colors, friends, routine, dancing and running. She’s finally to the point where she’s going to start figuring out things on her own. She’s her own person, not just merely my baby.

She’s going to preschool. She’s going to make her own friends. She’s going to learn to love, to be hurt, to be a friend, to say sorry and to forgive. She’ll form her own opinions and interests. She’s going to think I’m embarrassing and deny kisses goodbye in front of people. She’s going to learn that soccer is a thing and probably ask us to enroll her in a league. She’s going to learn things from people that aren’t her father and me. I was going to have to learn to step over to the sideline.

All of these thoughts were racing through my head as silent tears were free falling. My very intuitive child looked up at me. She got up, grabbed my face in her hands and climbed into my lap.

“I rocky you, Mommy?” she said.

That’s what I needed, right then. As we rocked back and forth, I realized that she’ll always need me. Whether it’s to take care of me or for me to take care of her, it is silly to be sad. We have so many adventures ahead of us.

(And soooo many fish-themed coloring pages to hang up from her first day.)


Parenting: You’re doing it wrong

If you’re a parent of small children, just how many foam, plastic or rubber contraptions do you have around your home? You know, the ones that serve no other purpose but to protect your children from harm?

I have thirty-three. Thirty-three apparatuses that keep my children out of cabinets, keep their fingers out of electric sockets and keep them out of rooms full of “no-nos”. It sounds like a lot, but I promise, it’s really not. I have far fewer than most parents I know. I even have less than my own parents who used to use a 15-year-old car seat for the grandkids (Sorry for throwing you under the bus, Mom and Dad).

Even after the insistence of family members, we refused to get the foam bumpers for our brick fireplace, the drawer catch levers, the whale that covers the bathtub faucet and so many others. We even opted out of the sun shade for the car.

Why? Because we felt like our kids should get accustomed to the world rather than bending the world to accommodate them.

The world is full of helicopter parents. They’re the ones I talked about on the playground who follow their kids around and show them how to navigate every single piece of equipment. They’re also the ones who leave in the middle of a lunch date because “Holy God, it’s almost nap time and we have to get home NOW!” They change every element of their world to fit their children rather than raising their children to fit into the world.

It’s not a good look and it has some awful consequences.

I saw this on my Facebook news feed last week. A friend of mine is an academic advisor at a large college. She deals with all kinds of these types of situations, but she shared this particularly funny email from a student last week:

Student: I have a question about my enrollment. I’m about to enroll in (Class A) and (Class B), but the first one starts at 11:00 AM and ends at 11:50 AM, and the second one starts at 12:00 PM and ends at 12:50 PM. That means I`ll have no time to lunch every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Isn’t there anything we can do about that? Please, answer me as soon as possible. I’m sorry to bother you.

I read this and went “WHA?” Who in their right mind would send this email? Why in the world would this be my friend’s problem to solve? And then I realized this email was probably from a kid of a parent who bent over backward to ensure their child never experienced a single inconvenience.

Life has pains. It has inconveniences, hurts, unfortunate circumstances, and heartache. If we, as parents shelter our kids from these things while they’re young, how in the world are they going to function when we aren’t around later? How are they going to know how to pick themselves up, brush themselves off and move on? How in God’s name are they going to know when to eat lunch?!

It is our job to teach them. It is our job to give them the tools they need to live their life. Not to do it for them. Not to put up bumpers everywhere they turn so they don’t bump their head. Sometimes a bump on the head is what will keep them from running into another disaster. Sometimes they need to learn to accommodate others’ needs before their own just so they don’t suck as people later.

Yes, it hurts a lot to see your child hurting. It kills me when one of my girls cries. But sometimes the best lesson they learn is to fall down. They’ll get back up and they’ll thank you for it later (at least that's the rainbow and sunshine picture I have in my head).

B and one of her many (very necessary) safety devices

B and one of her many (very necessary) safety devices by Megan Spreer


Parents: Stop Throwing Parties for Everything

I’m a member of what they call the “Entitled Generation.” We got participation trophies, played games where no one kept score, and were showered with praise for the smallest of milestones. Even as a kid, I thought it was a bit much. Why couldn’t there be a winner at my T-ball games?! Why should the kid who never practiced get the same trophy as the one who worked his butt off every summer?

It should come as no surprise that my entitled generation is going on to raise yet another generation of entitled brats. I see it on the playground, at restaurants and at the store. These parents (I’m not completely innocent either) are negotiating with toddler terrorists. They’re gathering up their things to leave the second the kid is done eating regardless if their own plates are still full. They’re also buying up every single toy their kid shows an interest in because well, it’s Tuesday. I dunno. Yet, my jaw hit the floor when I saw the latest doozy on Facebook a couple weeks ago.

A woman was asking some friends where in town she could hold her daughter’s “Potty Party.” What’s a “Potty Party”? It’s exactly what you’re scared to think it is. It’s a party to celebrate the fact that little Sally is finally potty trained.

WHA?! I cringed. People are doing this now. We’re throwing parties because our kids are doing things they’re SUPPOSED to do. What’s next? A “Tied My Own Shoes” Party? A “First Period” Party? A “Learned How to Share” Party? Where do we draw the line?

Don’t get me wrong. I get it. Potty training sucks. I’m still in the trenches. We’re almost through it with HJ, but never in a million years would I think anyone else in the world would care enough to take time out of their own busy schedules to attend a party celebrating the fact that my kid figured out where to urinate.

No. Just no.

It’s totally not this mom’s fault though. Our culture created this. We throw a party for damn near everything. There’s preschool graduation, kindergarten graduation, elementary school graduation, and middle school graduation all before they ACTUALLY graduate from something real. Those aren’t graduations! Then there’s engagement parties, divorce parties, and I’m pretty sure someone out there is having a party for I dunno, their garden. Why are we celebrating everything?! We’re diluting life’s real moments of celebration!

Yes, having a kid who’s potty trained is exciting. It’s fan-freaking-tastic, but it’s more of a bake cupcakes as a family at home kind of celebration. Save that party for something that’s really important….like when she graduates college (still out of diapers).

However, if all of these parties are simply an excuse to have more cake, I take it all back. The world should always have more cake. Party on.

Our kids have parties for everything. And we mean everything.

Our kids have parties for everything. And we mean everything. by Megan Spreer


I Understand How Parents Leave Babies in Hot Cars

Last week, a father was distracted. It happens to every parent. We get consumed with one of the fifty things going on in our heads and we accidentally put everything else on the back burner.

Unfortunately, this time, it cost him his child.

For whatever reason, he accidentally left his child in the car instead of taking him to daycare that day he went to work. His son died. He's also being charged with murder.

This happens numerous times every summer. It seems every week a new article or news report pops up talking about a child behind left behind in the car while the parent goes to work. And my heart breaks into a million pieces each time.

I may be in the minority, but I get it. I have worked in environments that consume more of my brain than I can handle some days. On those days, if our regular schedule shifts even slightly, I’d leave my right arm behind because I’m so preoccupied.

And yet the vile remarks from online commenters and people in conversation flow.

“How could you forget your child?!”

“If you can’t remember your kid, maybe you shouldn’t be a parent!”

To that, I say: How dare you. How dare you judge someone who made a mistake while trying to provide for the family he or she loves. How dare you snarl hateful comments when someone is experiencing the most horrifying hell on earth.

Could you imagine living with yourself after making that kind of mistake? These people are victims of a world that has failed working parents. The demands on working parents are unreal: Work 40 hours a week to provide for your family. Pay a huge chunk of that to childcare. Be present in your child’s life. Put dinner on the table. Maintain your home. Keep up with doctors’ appointments. Do the grocery shopping. Schedule play dates. Visit family. Do the laundry. And the list continues. If any one of those things requires more of your attention than usual, there’s just no room to fit in all in your brain.

That being said, yes, a child is different. Forgetting a child is huge. But imagine for a moment that the child was up all night teething. That parent got less than an hour of sleep. He has a huge project going on at work. His family is coming in town the next weekend and the house is a disaster. He also has to take the baby to daycare...something he doesn’t usually do. The wife loads the baby up in the car without telling him. He completely forgets about his turn to drop off.

Can’t you see it happening?

When I was working in a particularly stressful and chaotic work environment, I was terrified of leaving baby HJ in the car and going on to work. I made a plan with our child care provider that if I were ever more than 15 minutes late, she was to call me. I also would leave either my laptop, purse, wallet or phone in the back of the car so that I had one more thing to get from back there.

If you’re a parent, make a plan with your daycare or leave something in the back seat. Set up a safeguard. Because even if you think it could never happen to you, make sure that it REALLY couldn’t.

I don’t know this particular dad’s story or any other parent’s story who’s made this kind of terrible mistake. What I do know is that these parents’ minds were somewhere else that day. And now they will have to carry one of the largest burdens imaginable for the rest of their life.

I think a little grace and understanding is in order.


Sorry Experts, We Watch TV and Play on Tablets

Stop it, “experts.” If I see one more study or article that discusses the “dangers” and “risks” of allowing children to watch television or play on tablets, I’m going to lose it.

Should we allow our kids to only sit in front of an electronic screen all day? No. Is it going to stunt their development to allow them to watch an episode of Dora the Explorer while I cook dinner? Puh-lease. These so-called experts need to stop. Stop making parents feel guilty for taking a moment to themselves. Dinners need to be cooked, laundry needs to restarted for the fifth time, and parents need a minute of peace and quiet every now and then (or EVERY DAY).

I just get so frustrated by all of these articles and studies that serve no other purpose than to shame parents. You let your child play an educational game about the alphabet?! How dare you put her precious eyes in front of a screen that exists in 90 percent of American homes! She learned something while playing it?! It doesn’t matter because her brain doesn’t properly process screen time!

Okay, so that may not be exactly what they say, but it’s pretty dang close. I’m so over it.

My childhood was awesome. We played outside, went to the pool, built forts, made pottery out of red mud, and rode bikes until it got dark. You know what else made it awesome? Muppet Babies, Hey Dude!, Reading Rainbow, Tiny Toons, Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then there was Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Yoshi’s Cookie, and Homerun Derby on whatever game console we had at the time. I loved TV. I loved movies, games, computers, and anything else electronic. I also learned a heck of a lot. Some of the first words I learned to spell were on a Speak n’ Spell.

All of my screen time produced a woman who is a fully functioning member of society, a college graduate, a mother of two, a wife of one, and I’ve never seen the inside of a jail cell. All good things, right? No, I’m not president. I’m not an astronaut. And I suck at math. BUT, are we really going to blame my screen time as a child on the fact that I can’t remember how to solve quadratic equations?

Yes, we all want our kids to become the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. I’m just not convinced that following a perfect blueprint set out by “experts” is going to help me craft the next Nobel Prize winner. In fact, only 43 people have become President of the United States since George Washington took office in 1789. Seriously, what are the chances that your little Johnny is going to be the next one? And if he could, I have a difficult time believing that his Netflix subscription will cancel out that future.

To properly (according to the expert thinking) teach HJ her ABCs, I bought a tub of magnetic letters from a consignment sale. Every time we’d sit down to work on them, she’d dump them all over the floor, get frustrated with me interrupting her playtime by teaching her, and then she’d run off. She finally engaged when we gave her an old iPhone loaded with an ABC app. She watched it almost everyday and in two weeks could recognize nearly all 26 letters.

So tell me again, how is this detrimental to her development?

Granted, I do understand that there are parents out there who let their kids do nothing but sit in front of a screen ALL day. I’m not advocating that. That can lead to physical and emotional problems. There is a line between moderation and overkill. BUT, do you think the parents letting their kids sit in front of the TV or tablet all day read articles by child development experts?


There are a variety of factors that contribute to developmental and physical issues. The kids who sit in front of screens all the time are probably not eating a balanced diet. They’re obviously not also getting a lot of physical play time. Duh. So is it really the screens’ fault? Sitting and playing with any one toy all day will do the same thing.

So maybe what the experts should be saying is “Hey! Remind your kid to do other stuff too!”

I will continue to allow my girls to watch TV. They will play on the tablet. I will monitor their activity and watch things with them. We’ll even play the games together. Then we’ll go outside and play.

But I’m not going to set a timer.

Reading a book on *gasp* an iPad!

Reading a book on *gasp* an iPad! by Megan Spreer


5 Things Moms Need to Stop Saying to Other Moms

Fellow moms can be some of your greatest allies when you’re raising your kids. As I mentioned last week, they can be invaluable when S hits the fan. However, there are times when other moms just plain suck.

Yeah, I know. I’m totally backtracking here. I’m not talking about a majority though. I’m referring to the times when some of them ask questions that make you anxious or say a comment that makes you question your abilities as a mother. They may do it out of sleep deprivation, pure ignorance, or like me, just because they’re super nosey. Regardless, we all need to agree to stop saying these things.

  1. You look so skinny! So basically what you’ve just admitted is that you assess your friend’s body every time you see her. Since when is our ultimate goal after having a baby to be skinny?! Our bodies just created a human! It’s still repairing itself in places we can’t even see. Not only is this a double-edged sword of a compliment, it makes her wonder what you honestly thought of her before you thought she “looked so skinny.” This is especially nerve-wracking to a woman who’s just had her baby. Tell her she looks great...if she’s dressed and out of the house, she deserves a prize anyway.

  2. Are you breastfeeding? Essentially, this question says “Can I judge you?” Why else does it matter if you know the answer to this? Unless the child has a nutritional deficiency and you are the breastfeeding messiah or if the mother has explicitly asked for help, don’t ask this question. You wouldn’t ask the mom what she had for lunch that day. Therefore, why don’t we think it’s weird to ask what the baby ate?

  3. Was (insert child’s name) planned? This is just like asking, “Did you use a condom last night?” Gross, right? It’s none of your business whether someone is reproductively responsible or not. It’s also rude to label a child a “mistake” or “accident.” Just how awesome do you think Suzie’s going to feel when she overhears that her parents accidentally had her, but tried for months for her brother Johnny? Exactly.

  4. You’re so lucky your husband will babysit so you can get out! Excuse me? Last time I checked he was their father. Therefore, this thing that he’s doing is called PARENTING. It’s not called “babysitting” when I have them alone. Why does he get recognized as a saint for fulfilling his end of our mutual commitment to these tiny people?

  5. When are you going to stop breastfeeding? This is one I get ALL THE TIME. It’s a lot like #2 on the scale of judginess. It’s usually asked because the asker either thinks you’ve already done it for too long or they’re checking to see if you’ll do it for what they think is too long. Answer I give: When she’s done or when I’m done. That’s all they need to know. If I’m nursing a 3-year-old, that’s my business. It’s my child. It’s my choice.

Basically, we all need to start asking ourselves a simple question before we open our mouths: “Will my statement/question make her truly feel uplifted?” If the answer is no, it’s time to go back to sneaking our kids' fruit snacks when they’re not looking. (Admit it, you totally do it too.)


My Village in a Strawberry Patch

We went strawberry picking this week. Cute, right? Yes. Yes, it was. I also got a little ahead of myself. Because Kansas had such a harsh winter, strawberry picking at Wohletz Farm Fresh (the local farm it seems EVERYONE goes to) has been drastically scaled down. They’ve only been opening one day a week and they are picked out within 20 minutes of opening.

After missing the small window last week, we decided to get there super early this week and be one of the first to arrive. Small detail: I had three kids under the age of 4 in tow. I was watching a friend’s 2-month-old along with my usual tag team of HJ and B.

Ha! Small detail, my foot. Sometimes I’m too brave for my own good. More than 100 people showed up to pick the scant selection. There was a line down the road to enter the farm when we pulled up ten minutes before picking time. It was madness.

No biggie, I thought. I put Small Fry in my baby carrier, grabbed B’s hand, instructed HJ to trot close by and met my girlfriend Steph and her two boys. We got this, I naïvely thought.

And what happened? The apocalypse.

Upon seeing the juicy, red strawberries lining both sides of her, B dove right in to what she perceived as the free strawberry buffet. I could not stop her. She just kept grabbing and eating, leaves and all. HJ started freaking out because the strawberries were “sooo stuck” and “I can’t do it!”. (I have no idea where she gets her dramatic tendencies from, by the way.) And in the midst of my own crazy, Small Fry decides she wants to eat since she’s sitting with her face against my own unattainable free buffet.

B in her strawberry buffet

B in her strawberry buffet by Megan Spreer

To add to the fun, Kansas decided to launch full-blown summer right as we got there and become as blazingly hot as the sun with an extra side of humidity. B was sweating bullets. HJ was yelling for a drink. And I had to loosen the baby carrier and walk hunched over to allow Small Fry some air while also squeezing a bottle in there to feed her.

My head was about to explode. And that was the precise moment when my village stepped in. My friend Steph grabbed our box and started picking strawberries for the both of us while wrangling my two mobile kiddos along with her own. She then snagged me a spot in the long, hot line of people to pay for our fruit. She even picked up my tab as I didn’t have two hands to grab cash or write a check. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, one of the owners of the farm, Jane, saw a sad, sweaty B desperate for me to pick her up. She came over, gave her some water, and carried her over to hang out under a tent. As I stood there swaying like a human hammock to keep Small Fry from overheating, I was so thankful for these women.

If they hadn’t rescued me in those moments, my tribe would have disbanded and revolted against me. I would have definitely lost my mind and we would have had a miserable day. I would have also missed the delight in their eyes when we had strawberry shortcake for dessert last night.

Yes, they were small things that these women did for me. But to me, they were huge. It reminded me just how important it is for us moms (and dads) to have a support system. To just have someone hold your child for you while you get yourself together can turn around an entire day. Even if it’s only for five minutes.

Next time I see that mom or dad in a restaurant trying to soothe a screaming child, I’m buying him or her a drink. If it’s a friend, I will hold her baby so she can eat a hot meal with two hands. It’s the little things that keep parents from stepping out on the ledge sometimes. Thank you, Steph and Jane, for throwing me a rope this week.


Don’t Be Like Mommy, Love Your Body

I can still vividly recall a conversation with my husband last June. I was sitting with him at a restaurant, barely able to breathe through my Spanx, still carrying 20+ pounds of baby weight and feeling frumpy and gross.

He scolded me for my insecurity. “You’re beautiful.” he told me. And he went on to say that I could weigh 100 pounds more and still be beautiful. “It’s all about how you carry yourself. If you walk around like, ‘This is me and I don’t care what you think’, it’s sexier than a girl who’s skinny and gorgeous, but insecure.”

He then dropped a whammy on me: The way that I carry myself, talk about myself, and think about myself is going to be passed on to our girls. The way that I carry myself should be the way I want them to view themselves.

Whoa, man. I didn't even think about that. He was so right. HJ was already mimicking my every action as I got ready in the morning. From brushing my teeth to putting on make-up, she’s right there watching. She copies it all. I've even caught her checking out her own butt in the mirror.

As a mom of now two girls, I think a lot about how I can help them form a healthy self-esteem and a positive self image in this world. On one hand, there are the Miley Cyruses who take it too far and then there are the girls who develop unhealthy relationships with food and themselves to reach a standard of beauty that is unattainable.

It’s hard. I want them to be confident, yet humble. I want them to love themselves, but not be vain. I want them to have the balls to walk away from someone who puts them down and hold their heads high while saying, “Whatever. I’m awesome.”

The truth is though, it’s hard to teach that when you yourself aren’t built that way. As a ginger (I’m a natural redhead), I got teased a lot growing up. I was pale, freckled, and had a last name that didn’t help that teasing subside (Heffley sounds too much like a Heifer cow to small town kids in Kansas, apparently).

I always wanted to change my appearance. I wanted brown or blonde hair (the societal norm) and tan skin. In fact, I lived in a tanning bed the last two years of high school and now I’m paying the price with annual skin screenings and mole removals. I don’t want my girls to go through that. I don’t want them to want so desperately to change they way they look that they ruin their body.

So since that conversation with my husband, I’ve been working hard to love my body just as it is. Yes, I’m pale. Yes, I have no butt. And yes, my body is even more flawed than it was before I had these amazing girls. But, I’m going to rock it. Because how else are my girls going to learn that true beauty comes from your own confidence?

Plus, someone needs to make pasty paleness the new trend. I’m a trendsetter right here, folks.


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