This column almost didn't happen. I didn't think I'd have time to write it.
By the time this column makes it into print, my daughter's first birthday party already will have gone down in history as a resounding success - I hope. The Saturday soiree (which was yesterday if you're reading this Sunday) has kept me busy for weeks, sending out invitations, making shopping lists for party food and decorations, tidying up my house, scheduling a landscaper and a carpet steam cleaner, selecting the perfect dress for Reese - even grooming our dog!
My little family is about to make a big change. For the first time in her life, my baby girl is going to go to daycare. We've already enrolled her, and she starts next week.
I'm sure glad I don't remember my teething days. Judging by what my baby is going through right now, they likely weren't pleasant.
The world of online forums, message boards, social-media networks and blogs would have you believe there are two types of mothers - silky and crunchy.
Twice in recent weeks, I've exited the interstate on my daily commute and noticed - in two different places - bags of scattered fast-food rubbish lying in the grass by the side of the road. Both times, the remnants of children's meals - milk cartons and telltale cartoon-character packaging - were among the discarded cartons and wrappers. This tells me that children likely witnessed adults irresponsibly disposing of trash. How sad.
I've recently become a serious label reader. Previously while grocery shopping, I'd glance at the data on the back of food packages to make sure the item I was about to purchase didn't contain an entire day's worth of fat, or I'd do a quick comparison to determine which brand of granola bars contained fewer calories. But since my baby girl began eating solid food, I've pretty much made a career out of studiously inspecting every scrap of nutritional information I can get my hands on.
I usually don't like Christmas. Now, before I offend anyone, let me make it perfectly clear that it's the commercialization and the added family stress that leave a bad taste in my mouth. The celebration of Jesus' birth is - and should be -the focal point of the holiday.
Those little stick-figure families plastered to the back windshields of SUVs and minivans annoy me. Who cares if you have three kids who enjoy wearing Mickey Mouse ears, two dogs and a cat? Not me. From what I gather, I'm not alone on this.
The differentiation between stay-at-home moms and working moms may not be as pronounced these days as it has been in the past, but I do believe it still is alive and well. I don't think either group works hard to keep this barrier in place; it just seems to exist due to different lifestyle habits, schedules and family routines.
I wish I could pick and choose which of my habits, traits and characteristics my daughter will inherit and pick up. Since Reese was born in April, I find myself increasingly thinking about trying to set a good example. I haven't actually implemented any changes, however. It's much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk.
Now that I'm a parent, I'm much more willing to cut other moms and dads slack when their children misbehave or become upset in public. As an impatient 20-something, I used to get annoyed when a crying baby drowned out the conversation my husband and I were trying to have over dinner in a restaurant. In grocery stores, I'd roll my eyes in disbelief as a harried mom tried to coax her tantrum-throwing toddler back to a relatively calm state. In malls, I was quick to judge dads who attempted to placate exhausted, teary little ones with ...
My daughter Reese recently breezed through her first air-travel experience when she and I went to visit family in St. Louis.
Nearly 90 local residents spent a brisk Saturday morning running and walking Hinesville's streets to increase breast-cancer awareness.
I brag too much about my baby. I also email and post too many photos of her on social-media sites. I can't help it. That might not seem out of character for a new parent, but it is for me. I spent all of my adolescent years and a good chunk of my adult life claiming I didn't want children. So, it seems to outsiders that I've done a complete 180, although that really isn't the case.
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.
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.