Posts tagged with Parenting

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

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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

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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.

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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?

Exactly.

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

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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.)

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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.

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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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Working Moms Do Not Have it Easier

This May marks a year since I left my full-time office gig to be at home with my girls. Granted, I still work (from home), but my life is very different than it was when I was at a 9 to 5 most of the day. There are things that I miss about working away from home and there are things that I love about getting to go to the park in the middle of the afternoon. Duh.

I’m very fortunate to have gotten to experience both worlds. And I can honestly say that I don’t know which one I prefer. There are things that I love and things that suck about both. So before everyone gets all flustered and relaunches a Mommy War over this one, let me just share the thoughts that have gone through my brain as I have been a party to both sides.

When I was a working (in an office) mom: This is so chaotic and stressful. I hate dropping off my baby and being away from her all day. I’ll never get everything done that needs to be done. If I see one more Facebook post from that stay at home mom bragging about their latest craft project, I’m totally defriending her. Seriously, what do they do ALL DAY? Must be nice to just get to play and live in a world of sunshine, hearts and flowers everyday. Whatever. I work, take care of my child, AND keep the house in order. They seriously have it so easy.

Now that I’m a stay at home mom: Ugh. How dare he (my husband) sit on the couch when he gets home from work. He got to go out and be productive for eight full hours and speak to adults. It’s his turn to man the children while I get a break. If he asks one more time what we did all day, I might get stabby. We survived today! No one died. Nothing burnt down. I consider that a success. I can’t wait for (insert random event) on Saturday. I will get to wear non-yoga pants, makeup, and Frozen won’t be playing on repeat for a full three hours. Wait. Did I shower today?

Seriously, guys. Both sides are hard. Working parents are busy. Like, having to wrangle wild monkeys while juggling steaming hot potatoes busy. And stay at home parents have it tough too. Having to do everything everyday for other human beings, while getting them fed, keeping them stimulated, maintaining the house, and not having regular contact with other adults is a brain challenge of epic proportions. There is no easier road. Both sides are damn hard. If you’re like me, no matter which side you’re currently on, you still secretly (or not so secretly) wonder if you’re screwing up yours kids by working or not working. You constantly hope you’ve made the right choice. And seeing your mom/dad friends on Facebook show the highlight reel of their choice just compounds your feelings of inadequacy.

So here’s me saying what we all need to hear: You’ve made the right choice. Yes, you. Whether the choice was made for you based on financial reasons, because your career is who you are, or because you just can’t bear to leave that sweet baby, you did the right thing. A happy parent is the best kind of parent. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s YOUR family and only YOU know what’s best.

There. Carry on.

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I’m Becoming My Mother

“If you took better care of your things, they wouldn’t get broken.”

As soon as the words escaped my mouth last week, I cringed at the flashback of my mother telling me the same sentence, word-for-word as a kid. I was notorious for losing things, misplacing things, and being inconsolable when those things ended up broken as a result. So as karma would have it, HJ inherited the same tendencies and I am saying the same phrases my mother said to me when my daughter crumples to the floor in a fit.

Dang it.

It’s not that my mom was a terrible mother. (Hi Mom!) She was far from it. She was loving, caring and all-around fantastic. I think it’s just that when most of us start this motherhood journey, we promise ourselves that we will be a better and improved version of our mothers or do things totally our own way. We assess all of the things our parents did wrong and vow to not repeat their mistakes. We have a list of ways we want to tackle parenthood and know we will be the “cool mom”. Our kids will just be amazed at how fun and not lame we are.

Then you give birth to a mini version of yourself and your plans are shot to hell. It starts when you sing the same songs she sang to you as a baby and then before you know it, you’re shouting, “If I have to tell you ONE MORE TIME …” Face palm

My mother’s characteristics have carried on through me in other ways, too. I happily give my kids dessert after lunch and dinner solely to see the glee spread across their faces. I try to save a buck by visiting the dollar aisle at Target and The Dollar Tree when it comes time for Easter baskets and Valentines. (Or because it’s Tuesday and I am easily excited by cheap junk.) I only cook recipes that take fewer than five or six ingredients and less than an hour in prep/cook time. And I destroy one room of the house each week with some craft project, although I half blame Pinterest for this.

These traits have snuck up on me. As a rebellious teenager, there was no way I would ever be like my parents. I was going to do everything my own way. The next thing I know, I’m volunteering at church, watching "America’s Funniest Videos," and wiping my baby’s face with my own spit.

I’m sorry, teenage me. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but I just can’t stop it. It’s involuntary.

And now that I’m older (a smidge wiser), I see that becoming my mother isn’t such a bad thing. She was and is a fabulous mom. I, however, refuse to wear shirts with watering cans on them. She does that. (Sorry, Mom.)

Mom and Me in 1986

Mom and Me in 1986 by Megan Spreer

In what ways have you seen yourself morph into a version of your parents?

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I’m a vaccinator

There is a measles outbreak in New York. As a parent, reading headlines about this is pretty concerning. As a parent of a child who has yet to receive her MMR vaccine, it’s terrifying.

Vaccines are one of the hot button topics in the Mommy Wars. It’s almost become one of those things you don’t talk about in public circles right next to politics and religion. People are passionate about their vaccination choices. And I don’t blame them.

Jenny McCarthy and her campaign alongside the now discredited MMR vaccine/autism study by Andrew Wakefield got a lot of people’s attention. I know I hadn’t heard anything negative about vaccines until then. But it seems that this study and media coverage launched the general public’s awareness that vaccines are NOT mandatory as many may have previously thought.

I’ll just get this out there: I’m a vaccinator (Wow. That sounds a lil’ Schwarzenegger-ish. It’s not that intense, I promise). I get the recommended vaccinations for my kids and occasionally space them out if they have illnesses or if I feel like they need some time in between for their bodies to mellow. I’m not a doctor. I’m just a mom.

But, I know there are so many out there who disagree with me. I get that. Injecting your baby with a virus (weakened or not) is scary. It’s also scary that the shots don’t come with a list of ingredients. AND the Internet puts out a lot of scary things about vaccines. It also doesn’t help that there are more celebrity moms joining the vaccination and anti-vax movements and delivering their opinions through mass media. It makes an already difficult decision that much more daunting. Just last week, Kristin Cavallari joined the anti-vaccine ranks in Hollywood. I think I see an article for either side at least once a week on my Facebook news feed.

There are many out there who will say that I’m only vaccinating because big pharm companies have launched a fear campaign to make me scared enough to blindly vaccinate. You know what, though? I’m kind of okay with that. Because if it came down to it, I’d rather my child get an ugly side effect from a vaccine than die from a preventable illness. But, I can say that because my kids are healthy, handle medications well and don’t have any current medical concerns. If they had medical issues, I might feel differently. I don’t know.

It’s scary out there though. In addition to the measles outbreak in New York, almost every year, I read about a whooping cough outbreak here in Lawrence. One of my kids was exposed to H1N1 this year and I also just happened to miss getting her a flu shot. She was fine, thankfully, but you can bet I won’t miss that one again. These illnesses scare the bejesus out of me. If there is a way to protect my kids, I’m all over it. However, the anti-vax camp says I’m injecting toxins into my children as I try to protect them from these infectious diseases.

It seems like a lose-lose.

So I will continue to vaccinate. I also respect the many parents who believe that they are protecting their child’s health by opting out of vaccinations. I’m not judging them. Every child is different. Every parent is different. You can find an article or study to back up almost every claim in the world of parenting. We’re all just doing our best with the situation and information we’re given. It’s all done out of love for our kids.

Does your family vaccinate? Why or why not?

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