My 21-month-old daughter, Reese, is sweet, gentle and trusting. My husband and I have gone to great lengths to teach her not to express her emotions through toddler-like acts of violence - hitting, kicking and biting. As a result, she's mild-mannered and happy-go-lucky. So, it's easy to understand why I'd be particularly aggravated at the fact another child at Reese's day care seems to be working hard to undo all of our teachings.
The next big milestone on my parenting horizon isn't really something that's fun to talk about, let alone figure out how to handle. It's not a dinner-table conversation topic, but it certainly is a necessity - potty training.
Awhile back, I worked with a woman who was vocal about her belief that potential parents should have to pass a strict screening before welcoming children into the world. Although, from a purely scientific standpoint, there was no way to enforce my coworker's slightly far-fetched proposal, she maintained all human beings should be stripped of their fertility at birth and should have their ability to procreate returned to them in their mid-to-late 20s only if they meet certain criteria.
For months now, I've heard complaints about the current state of the U.S. health-care system, but until recently, I had no specific reason to be dissatisfied. Then, I started my search for a new pediatrician for my daughter and "got a taste of some bad medicine."
Recently, a co-worker who is fairly new to our staff here at the Courier made a comment that sent a wave of various emotions crashing over me.
My house just became a much more positive place. My husband and I usually do watch what we say when my daughter is around, but now I have iron-clad proof that she is always listening, watching and, more importantly, mimicking. Now that we know this, exclaiming, "Oh, fiddlesticks!" is about the only thing that is still permissible in our family.
I often think about how nice it would be to have a break from all my familial responsibilities for just one night. I dream of a quiet evening alone - no dinner to cook, no lunches to pack, no dishes to wash, no whiny pets to walk and feed, no toddler to bathe and put to bed, and no intermittent wakeups throughout the night to soothe said toddler, supply milk and coax her back to bed.
My daughter, Reese, started at a new day care two months ago. My husband and I had been pleased with her former day care until they went through several leadership changes, and the resulting policy alterations were disconcerting. The facility's lunch menu, which had been pretty healthy when we first enrolled Reese, took a turn for the worse - lots of processed, preservative-laden food; fruit drowning in sugary, heavy syrup; and snacks full of sodium and food dyes. No thanks!
My attempts at making more mom friends still are failing miserably. At this point, I'd probably try an online "matchmaking" site for women with children who are looking to befriend other women with children. Sort of like eHarmony, but with sippy cups and strollers. Actually, that sounds like a great idea because then I'd get to be very picky with my criteria, thus reducing the chances I'd get "matched up" with another mom I have absolutely nothing in common with, which has kind of been my problem so far.
Before I had a child, there were a few things I noticed parents doing that really annoyed me, and I swore I would never do those things if and when I became a mother. For the most part, I've been diligent about sticking to my guns.
The Internet is bad for me. I'm an obsessive worrier, and I've only gotten worse since the advent of search engines. I often think that if someone got a hold of my web-search queries, I'd end up an international laughing stock. Among the best last week: "Can you become addicted to nasal spray?" "Affects of eating slightly brown guacamole," "Can Tums cause kidney stones?" and "My cat ate cellophane."
I'm an apologetic person. Maybe it's Catholic guilt. Maybe it's just in my nature. But I do love to apologize - mostly for things that aren't my fault. My mother has always said I'd apologize for World War II if given the opportunity. She's right; I am sorry for that horrible global conflict, but not because I think I had anything to do with it. In general, I'm just sorry it happened. It's an empathetic type of apology.
Every phase of "babyhood" has its merits, and I've loved them all so far. In fact, every time my daughter Reese enters a new stage of development, I swear that it's the best one yet. I honestly can't pick my favorite.
There's a topic I've always shied away from in this column - that of the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate. I never felt the need to broach this subject before because, honestly, I didn't really feel it was an issue anymore. I thought we, as parents, had moved past all that trivial nonsense and decided all mothers play important roles. Period.
As it turns out, all my worrying last week about how my toddler would deal with a flight from Georgia to Missouri definitely was not for nothing. In fact, probably the only thing that would have made the journey worse would've been a plane crash. And, sadly, it was my own meticulous planning that did me in.
I don't believe in illness. OK, perhaps I should rephrase that - I don't believe in a minor illness' ability to keep me down. Unless I'm dragging a limb, hospitalized or totally unable to keep food down at all, I refuse to disrupt my ultra-busy daily routine to do silly things like "rest" or "recuperate."
Call me an old-timer, but moms and dads just did things differently when I was a child. The overall approach to parenting seems to have changed so much. My parents fostered independence in my siblings and me. They wanted us to learn early on that we needed to be able to speak and do things for ourselves, and the sooner we understood that, the better off we'd be.
There is nothing more important than the safety and protection of innocent children. Not constitutional rights, not animal rights, not thoughts, opinions, feelings or political beliefs. The lives of children must be given top priority.
I'd like to take just a moment this week to thank all my readers out there who've been so kind and complimentary to me since I began writing this column a year and a half ago. People regularly call, email and stop me in public to praise my writing and tell me they enjoy the stories I tell, and that means so much to me. I'm grateful to you all for your willingness to step into my chaotic, messy, unpredictable world each week, if only for a few minutes. In addition, I've received some good advice ...
My husband and I are about to make our first big purchase since Reese joined our family. Don't get me wrong - with the amount of clothes, food and miscellaneous supplies a baby needs, a trip to the local big-box discount store does, on occasion, makes me feel like I've been taken to the cleaners. Technically, though, I think our seemingly imminent acquisition of a new vehicle would count as our family's first major expenditure, post-child.
Please, thank you and excuse me are some of the first words a child should learn, and I've tried to put that belief into practice with my daughter - once she mastered "mama," of course.
When it comes to parenting, there's a fine line between active participation and overinvolvement. That said, I am of the believe that moms and dads should take an interest in what their children are doing, from infancy into adulthood.
My daughter takes after her father in nearly every respect, especially when it comes to the traits and characteristics my husband exhibited as a child. From her sandy blonde hair to her blue eyes and left-handedness, Reese and Noell are two peas in a pod. I'd even go so far as to say she gets her fiery temperament from her dad, although I'm sure he'd say it's from me.
My daughter got her first dose of culture last week when my family took advantage of Super Museum Sunday to expand our horizons and learn a bit about regional history.
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