On Discipline: It’s doggone tough.

I’ll just put it out there that not everything is sunshine and rainbows within the Shattuck household. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t picture Wes crying or being upset, and while that may make me smile and stand up a little straighter, it’s certainly not reality.

Unlike much of my family of teaching and medical professions, I’m not an early childhood educator, so pretty much everything I encounter as a parent is a brand new learned experience or skill. I don’t know what to expect from 2.5-year-olds. And I don’t understand the “why” aspect, either. I do know that many parents say toddler years are tough. It took us a minute, but we’re certainly there. I feel like we’ve hit a fairly rocky patch of gravel, and we may have a rough journey through the next few weeks/months/years.

I’ve always seen a clever, ornery personality in Wes, and now that he’s very verbal and interactive, it’s beginning to be a little problem. Tonight, I confided in my mom that every other word out of my mouth is “no” or “don’t.” The tone of my voice is nearly always firm, and I have to watch my temper. Sometimes I feel like I have to justify and explain myself to Wes, and it looks apologetic. Discipline is like these giant potholes in the middle of my path that really slow me down – I get exhausted after a full day.

But you know what? Mom hit it home. She reminded me that the job of a parent is not to be a “friend.” It’s to be a parent. There are times when you know that you love your child, and they might not THINK you do and perhaps they may not FEEL like they love you BACK, but a parent needs to stay strong in knowing that they are doing the right thing.

I can see myself struggling during rough, adolescent years – wanting to be liked as a parent, but understanding that it’s not a popularity contest. The “cool” parents are actually the ones who have limits, expectations and discipline established, but I bet they’re very tired indeed.

Three is just around the corner. I better strap myself in and get ready for those potholes. I know it’s all worth it, I really do. But gosh, it’s difficult.

Posted: April 9th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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90-Day Challenge

As I was cleaning the bookshelves last week, I stumbled across a book that I bought when we were first married. It’s a motivational 90-day program to instill better habits in your diet, daily exercise and devotions/meditation. In 2008, I never got past Day 2. I’ve been haunted by it for years, thinking myself either a failure or silly to try something I couldn’t keep up with for even a week.

I decided to give it another try. Honestly, it’s not that hard. The main principles are to incorporate daily vitamins and supplements (easy), eat as many veggies as you can consume in a day (somewhat difficult, if not just annoying), memorize passages of scripture (easy), drink more water (kinda difficult for me, actually) and perform daily, low-impact exercise: trampoline bouncing and brisk walking (moderately hard, just because I have to SET ASIDE the TIME).

A week in, I feel pretty confident. I’m not reading the book as much as I should, and I certainly could be doing more in the ways of prayer and meditation, but I’m getting the hang of rising earlier to bounce for a few minutes, drinking a hot cup of lemon water and being more mindful of what I intake. The weather has been fairly nice this past week, so we’ve been able to go on family walks, which is good for the soul as much as the body. It feels GOOD to be outside – especially spending it with Little Guy.

The goal isn’t really to lose weight (though I could probably stand to shed up to 10 lbs); it’s to feel better in general. We spend the majority of evenings lounging – why not take a few of those minutes and do something health-beneficial? Easier said than done, I realize, but so far, so good. I’m getting anxious about the three different fasts as part of this Challenge, but I’m ready. I dusted off and replaced the battery in my bathroom scale. I haven’t used it in forever, and it’s time I actually cared about weight fluctuation and daily eating habits.

Confession: As I’m writing this, I’m eating a handful of frosted animal crackers. And I had 3 Tootsie Rolls before that.

I guess the other reason I decided to tackle it on a whim (seriously, I made the decision to conduct Challenge the night before Day 1) is because Wesley is in the middle of his own 90-day challenge through potty training. He’s had a rough week with it, and I’m finding myself become relaxed and lenient with his training habits. If we’re going to succeed, we need to be consistent.

So hey, maybe come July I’ll feel physically, mentally and spiritually renewed, and Wes will be a pro at toilet-using. Fingers crossed.

Posted: April 7th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Tonight’s Dinner Prayer

Wes: “Dear God, thank you for today. Jesus-name, Amen.”

About ten minutes passes.

Wes: “Let’s prway again. Dear God, thank you for today, Mama-Daddy, Jake, Wucy, ummmmmmmm, milk, ummmmmmm, watching TV, ummmmmmm, salwad (salad) and teef (teeth). Jesus-name, Amen.”

And if it couldn’t get any cuter, he promptly launched into an energetic version of Jesus Loves Me.

Jesus wuvs me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Wittle wons (unintelligible) bewong
They mar cweep, but He is swong
Yes, Jesus wuvs me
‘Bible tells me so

Posted: March 29th, 2014
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On Potty Training: Good, Bad and Nasty

photo 2 (4)Who knew that potty training could take up so much time and energy and strength? I guess potty training books say so, but, I mean, seriously, it’s been the center of our universe for the last 5 days, and I don’t see a finish line yet. I’m exhausted, Wes is exhausted and the dogs are pooped (haha). Steven’s been out of town for the duration of Boot Camp, and he’s due back tomorrow night. I’m so ready to go back to “normal,” and somehow the thought of his return gives me hope that there’s an end in sight. I have to remind myself that I’m a first-time parent. Every new milestone seems daunting and difficult. But even in the worst of the worst, a little tiny beam of hope and love shines through, and suddenly it’s another lesson learned.

The good news: Wes can tell me when he has to go. He can feel the “urge,” and he’s gotten to the point of telling me nearly every time. The candy incentive does miraculous work, and we may spend 30 minutes in the bathroom waiting on the potty chair just because he gets upset for not getting a Tootsie Roll.

We’ve had more successes than accidents, so I feel like we’re making wonderful strides in the right direction.

This morning Wes and I were both extremely surprised to discover a completely DRY pair of pull-ups (actually, we prefer Pampers Easy-Ups over Pull-Ups) from the night before – AND – the fact that Wes TOLD me he had to go potty, and then emptied his entire bladder in the potty chair. I swelled with pride for my guy, and we exchanged a great series of high fives, knucks and hoorays.

The bad news: I’m not very good at this, yet. I didn’t anticipate all the extra distractions from a typical weekend and how they mess up a training child. I also didn’t anticipate an allergic and asthmatic flare-up the night before Potty Party Day, which caused none of us to sleep well. It made for an anticlimactic, lethargic start, and I almost almost gave up entirely. But after an early morning nap, we still got a few successful attempts into the day, which made the weekend much less stressful.

Except. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be out of the house, away from the familiar bathroom. We didn’t end up going to the birthday party we said we would, and I still feel guilty about it. But it would have been a complete mess, literally. And then I realized too late that to be at church at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, I should have built in an extra 30 minutes for potty attempts before leaving the house.

Wes got so upset with me for not taking him to the bathroom right away. He told me he had to go as we were putting on our coats. I honestly didn’t believe him, but we took off our coats and went to the bathroom anyway. He sat for almost 20 minutes, and I declared, “it’s time to leave for church.” He cried as we put his pants back on (I put him in pull-ups while we’re out and about, but fabric training pants at home), and he reallllly wanted a piece of candy. As we were heading out the door, Wes said, “DIEGO IS WET. DIEGO IS WEEEEET!” He was crying. See, Diego is the boy character on Dora the Explorer and because Huggies got to Disney first for their characters on Pull-Ups, Pampers had to live with second-class Diego on their Easy-Ups. To persuade Wes NOT to be comfortable peeing in pull-ups/easy-ups like a diaper, I told him that Diego doesn’t want to get wet. Well, Wes pretty much blamed me for this accident because I didn’t give him enough time on the potty chair.

We also went out to eat to celebrate my niece’s birthday. By that point, I was ready to take a day off from potty training since we had gone most the day outside of the house, not close to a bathroom, and not in training pants. On the plus side, we did get a few potty successes that evening, and again the next evening – even after a full day at school in pull-ups/easy-ups (which I figured would take us two steps behind).

Who wouldn't enjoy a drink and a movie in the bathroom?

Who wouldn’t enjoy a drink and a movie in the bathroom?

The nasty: Accidents happen, I know. And I expect them. And I also realize this is not an overnight BOOM done type-of-thing. But I guess I didn’t know how gross potty training is/can be. I don’t need to go into details, but I do need to point out that “nasty” can refer to my reaction to accidents, and sometimes, like tonight, I need to take a deep breath and move on.

Because of his brief successful history and especially the dry dipe this morning, I figured he would do well again this evening. We spent 30 minutes in the bathroom after dinner, and nope, nothing. No big deal, we’ll just try again later. I put “undies” (training pants) on him, and for the next HOUR, nothing. Dry. Amazing. He didn’t nap at school today, and I could tell he was getting tired and grumpy, but we decided to snuggle up and watch part of a movie before bedtime anyway. I turned off the TV – perhaps too abruptly – post typical bedtime and about 25 minutes until the “exciting conclusion,” and Wes blew a gasket. When he scream-cries, he needs to be left alone for a few minutes to regain his composure. Nothing I do or say will comfort him, so I left to take the dogs outside for a minute. Of course, while I was gone, he cried hard enough to pee all over the couch.

photo 4My “nasty” mood came out because I was irritated at myself for not catching it sooner. After I stripped him down, still exhausted and crying, I tore apart the room and started a load of laundry while he stood there, sobbing. Poor kid. In retrospect, it probably was the ultimate humiliation. I was able to calm down enough to hold and comfort him, but he couldn’t be soothed. He was so tired that he couldn’t catch up with himself. Even after our calming bedtime routine with songs and prayers, he was visibly upset.

Not knowing what else to do, I picked up my giant 35? lb boy and held him like the baby I miss holding in my arms. We rocked and rocked and he fell asleep next to my heart. We’re learning together. Even though it’s exhausting, potty training has mostly good moments, and some of them in particular, I’ll treasure for years to come.

Posted: March 25th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Bedtime Rituals

photo (10)My favorite time of day is pre-bedtime. This is after dinner is cleaned up and the dogs have empty bladders and we all hunker down to see what Brian Williams has to report. I feel like Steven and I do at least one good thing well together – leaving work behind while we’re together as a family. Granted, there are times where we both must do something here or there after hours or click-clack on the computer for a little while, but generally we try to wait until Little Guy is in bed.

Because it’s been so darn cold this winter, we have mostly hibernated in our 3rd bedroom-turned family room, or as Wes calls it, “the TV Room.” We’ll play Trains for a while, then color, all while listening to NBC Nightly News. Then Steven turns it to PBS’ Nightly Business Report (which I can’t stand), so Wes and I will get the bathtub ready. This consists of proper drain-stopping (since our tub is ooooold and the drain stopper thing is broken) by stuffing a washcloth down the drain, pouring in the bubble bath gel stuff and swishing the water around to get a good supply of bubbles and then dumping in all the bath toys while the water fills up.

Wes used to hate HATE taking baths. I had to hose him down with a damp sponge while he stood in the bathtub. He refused to sit down in the water and cried forever about it. Thankfully we turned a corner somewhere in the last few months. Now he asks to take a bubble bath, and it’s one of his favorite things to do.

Once he’s dried off and into clean pj’s, we head back to the TV Room for Jeopardy! He really doesn’t enjoy watching the show, but he certainly loves the music and sound effects. Somewhere between Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy, Wes gives Steven a goodnight hug and heads to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Afterwards, he picks out a story (“‘dory”) or two, and we both crawl into his tiny toddler bed for snuggles and reading.

WES’ FAVORITE BOOKS
Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (“Truck Book”), Sherri Duskey
The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
Popcorn (or “And Ate and Ate”), Frank Asch
The Snowy Day (“Peter Book”), Ezra Jack Keats

Following the books, which on rare occasions he likes to mix it up and read something other than the above list, we launch into a few songs. Usually this takes longer than the book reading does, but it’s likely my absolute favorite part of the day. I don’t mind singing 10 songs with his little off-key, breathy toddler voice.

WES’ FAVORITE SONGS
Old McDonald Had a Band (he refers to the Raffi rendition, but we sing “Farm” at home because who can really mimick a guitar and fiddle?)
Jesus Loves the Little Children
The Wheels on the Bus
No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (not really a song, but he mumbles this all day long)
Jesus Loves Me
My God is So Big
I Just Caught A Baby Bumblebee

We also sing some of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (new PBS cartoon. The Make Believe puppet characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood have grown up and now have their own preschool-aged children.) songs and usually make up silly words to additional verses. I’m so pleased that Wes enjoys books and songs. He really is from my own blood. It makes me even happier that he considers this time to be “Mama Time.” It’s truly a special bonding experience every evening.

By the time we’re finished singing, he’s turned over on his side and ready to drift off to sleep. We say a goodnight prayer, thanking God for all his blessings and for our health. Out of habit from my own childhood prayers, we ask that God keep away bad dreams to wake us at night.

The projector comes on with a rotating light display of fish, moon & stars or monkeys & birds, and he’ll tell me if he wants a new scene. The sound machine is turned on with soft white noise, and the lights are turned off. As I’m nearing the doorway, Wes sometimes will start singing Daniel Tiger’s song, softly:

I like you
I like you
I like you
Just the way you are

“I love you, honey. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Mama.”
“See you at breakfast!”

Posted: March 11th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Family Date Night

The other day, a coworker asked me what Steven and I did for fun. At first I got slightly embarrassed because I thought my answer would be boring. We’re boring. We usually stay in and lounge and play with our two-year-old.

Prior to Wesley’s existence, we used to host get-togethers and YouTube Parties and went to other peoples’ houses and were invited to things and checked out concerts and didn’t miss any First Fridays. We probably weren’t trend setters, but we were hip. Or, hip-like. We were fun people.

Now that Wes is getting more independent and older, we’re able to do more public things – especially in the evenings and on weekends. Last night, we had the opportunity to attend the re-opening of one of our favorite local stores. While its roots are right here in Irvington, the shop outgrew its space and headed on over to downtown. Wes was super excited to “go shoppin’” and listen to live music, sample local snacks and see familiar people. He got a little overwhelmed with the large crowd forming in a tiny space, so we made our appearances and moved on.

photo (1)Leaving Homespun, we dipped into one of my fav locations in all of Indy, a not-for-profit second-hand bookstore. Wes loves Indy Reads, and we’ve spent hours perusing the shelves for treasures to take home. The children’s area had all the books organized by color (it varies every time we’re there), which made it all the more appealing. We had to work around a public meeting right smack in the middle of the store, however, so we just snagged a few of the new hardcovers to quietly read out loud in a comfy chair on the opposite side. Later, I searched for a new paperback for myself, and Wes pretended to do the same among the shelves. He’s adorable, and I love that he loves books. It wasn’t very late, but we decided to call it a night before we entered publicly-tired-terror mode.

On the way home, Wes asked for “Dede,” his lovie/blanket, and I knew it was the right decision to leave. We had a shortened bedtime routine this evening, skipping right to the brushing of teeth and jammies. He picked Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, and we read a couple poems before a nighttime prayer. Immediately following, we jumped right into singing The Wheels on the Bus, making up goofy verses and giggling about our creativity. Daddy even poked his head into the doorway long enough to allow us the chance to entice him into singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with us before goodnight kisses and lights out. Our bedtime routine is pretty terrific. It’s worthy of its own post someday.

It was 8 p.m. We had already had a wonderfully fun and full evening as a family, and now Steven and I could end the work week together. We piled on the blankets and watched The Conversation via Netflix.

Perfect family date night.

Posted: March 8th, 2014
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Potty Planning

photo (9)We’re gearing up for Potty Party Day in 3 weeks’ time, as I mentioned in a previous post. Wes is either wearing no pants (which he hates) or pull-ups in the evenings and on weekends, and sometimes he’ll even ask to sit on the potty. A few different times I’ve actually gotten him to sit for several minutes at a time, sans pants, on his potty chair! We still haven’t had any successes, but that’s what Potty Day is for. So when I mean we’re gearing up for “the Day,” I mean I’m gathering supplies.

Training Pants – I bought 12 pairs of Gerber training pants to use for the Day. I actually got one out today to have him try it on before I wash them all, but we’re not using them yet or keeping them in sight so as to not lose the excitement factor. His daycare prefers we use disposables until he is fully trained, so I also have a mix of Target brand training pants (FYI don’t use for overnight!) and Easy-Ups for nap and nighttime use.

The reason I went with the Gerber pants over a set of cheap character ones is because these have slight padding in the front, which doesn’t prevent leakage when a full bladder is released, but it will help keep in some accidents on the way to the toilet and dribbly days. Also, the quality is great. They’ll hold up well in the wash and we can use them as “undies” until he outgrows them. I purposely bought a size bigger so he can wear them for longer. Plus, they fit him like boxer-briefs and are so darn cute!

Potty Chair – I got the cheapest one I could find that has stability and handles, a Fisher Price Frog Chair. I purchased it new (I really couldn’t stand the thought of getting a used one) several months ago, but it actually fits in nicely with our Potty Day theme. We also have a Potette Plus for the basement bathroom and doubles as a to-go potty chair option.

Potty Doll – Instead of buying a rather expensive doll that wets on its own, I opted for getting a plush version of Hopkins, the “toddler” frog featured in the Baby Signing Time DVD series. Wes has been a huge fan of Signing Time forever, and it works great for us because he’ll have a connection with Hopkins based on familiarity. Hopkins endures potty training in the Potty Time DVD, which we’ve had for several months as well. This Hopkins doll will also be a nice keepsake after the fact and won’t be awkward to keep around.

I haven’t yet, but I will go ahead and either make or buy some additional training pants for Hopkins for “the Day.” The goal is for the child to help train the doll to use the potty and we’ll need several pairs of undies for Hopkins since he’ll have a few accidents (I’ll just use a wet sponge to dampen them.).

Books & Movies – We do have a few of our own around the house, but I reserved about 20 different titles of books and DVDs from the library that we can read and watch on the Day. Stuff that we have already seen doesn’t have the same wow factor or hold as much attention, so these will be great to have on hand. The one exception is our beloved Potty Time DVD since Hopkins is the star of the show.

Decorations – My first thought for the Day was to have a Thomas & Friends party, since Wes looooooves trains. But the book I’m reading that suggests the Potty Party Day seems to focus so heavily on decorations and theme that it gets a little out of control. I finally settled on making it all about Hopkins, the frog, so I can easily find cheap frog and/or green stuff from the dollar store to make it extra special. We don’t need to have a themed activity in between every undies check (to praise if dry, to change if wet) or themed food treats as praise items. We can do fun, new things, of course, but I don’t have to be too creative or expensive here. Like, green balloons and stickers are perfect and dirt cheap.

Potty Prizes – I’m not going to spend lots of money here. I’m going to print some freebie potty charts found on the web. Every time Wes (or Hopkins) has dry undies during a periodic check, he gets a sticker for the chart. Every time Wes or Hopkins potties IN the potty chair, he gets a sticker AND a special edible treat, like M&Ms or something. I haven’t quite figured out what a full chart leads to – a wrapped gift, a “party” of sorts with grandparents or a trip to Target to pick out a special prize? I’ve got a little time left to figure it out.

Posted: March 1st, 2014
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Conversations with Wes: Backseat Driver

photo (7)

On our way home from work and school today.

Wes: (approaching a stop light) Mama! Look, it’s green!
Me: That’s right! What does the green light mean?
Wes: (signing) Stop! Stop!
Me: So close. The red light means stop. What does the green light mean?
Wes: Stop! Means stop! Stop!
Me: Honey, the green light means go, right?
Wes: No, Mama. It means stop. Stop!
Me: You can remember green means go because they both start with the letter G. Guh. Go. Green.
Wes: Means stop.
Me: Does red mean go?
Wes: No, red means stop! Green means go!
Me: That’s right! Great job, sweetie.
Wes: (frantically pointing to his right as we’re driving through the green light) Mama, nooooo! Go THIS way!
Me: Sweetheart, we’re going home, and home is straight ahead.
Wes: It’s THIS way!!

The rest of the trip was spent trying to explain that I knew where I was going. Oy vey.

Posted: February 21st, 2014
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Potty Training for this Dummy, Me

pottypartyIt’s on the calendar. March 21, 2014, is Potty Party Day. I’ve scoured books, forums and websites for ideas and suggestions for a phase of life I have no idea how to tackle. I’m surrounded by friends and family members who either have miraculous children, aren’t currently training or have special accommodations (my nephew uses a cath). Then there’s the issue of gender. Boys are still a little foreign to me. What about standing up? Will my bathroom need more frequent cleaning from “stray sprays?”

Wes turns three in July, and by August, he’ll need to be fully trained to move up to the 3′s classroom. I’m confident we’ll get there in plenty of time, but I do have a deadline looming over my head. And I’d really like to have this nailed down before our July vacation. So here we go!

I’m a researcher and a planner; here’s my personal goals and outline.

1. Take a readiness quiz. CHECK.
Or two or three. Wes is certainly intellectually and physically ready for potty training, but he shows no interest at all. We’ve had a potty chair for months, and he’ll occasionally sit on it, clothed. We have watched DVDs, listened to potty CDs and read books galore. He loves flushing the toilet and “helping” others complete all the steps in the bathroom, but refuses to potty in anything but a diaper. And he doesn’t seem to mind when it’s wet and hanging low.

2. Get educated. CHECK.
Two of the books I’ve read are Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day and The No-Cry Potty Training Solution. For the last 9 months, we’ve been watching Signing Time’s Potty Time DVD and listening to the music in the car to the point of memorization. Wes has always loved the Baby Signing Time series, so it’s an easy sell. Outside of random google searches, I’ve also found some good tips and resources at pottytrainingconcepts.com.

3. Decide on a plan of attack. CHECK.
I wasn’t sure I’d be sold on the Potty Party idea until I finished reading. I wouldn’t say I’m totally sold on everything they recommend, but considering Wes needs enticement to try anything new, we can make it a fun experience. He’s super cautious about change – I mean, he was nearly 10 months old before he rolled over – and the subtle introduction of the potty chair isn’t cutting it. He also loves our undivided attention, and this plan gives him my entire being for a full day…it just happens to be spent mostly talking about and being in the bathroom.

4. Prepare.
Currently I’m deciding on which training doll/stuffed animal will be best, if and what theme this party should be and all the entailing details. I feel like parents can get way out of hand here and spend oodles of money on this process. Haven’t kids been trained for generations without all the fluff? Anyway, my current thinking is a Thomas & Friends themed party complete with decorations around the house, themed foods and drinks and games. Too bad Thomas is a train and doesn’t need to be potty trained. I doubt they have an episode on leaking tar… BUT, Potty Time/Signing Time does have a frog named Hopkins that is trained in the DVD. They also sell a Hopkins plush toy with a pair of underpants, and Wes would get a kick out of teaching Hopkins to potty by himself, doubling as a new toy. I really need to plan this out so I’m not going broke on supplies.

5. Execute.
You might be asking, what the heck is a potty party? I really didn’t know, either. Basically it’s a full day you put aside to celebrate a changing lifestyle. You can be as creative as you like, but typically it envolves introducing a doll to the potty chair and experiencing accidents with this toy so that a connection is made within the child. The toy is trained in the morning – going to the bathroom and having accidents for several hours until the toy continues to have a dry pair of underpants. The afternoon is spent training the child to do the same. Experts claim this can be done in a few hours. The party aspect is overly celebrating all achievements.

6. Follow-through.
I’m purposely planning Party Day to fall on a Friday that I take off work so that I have the remainder of the weekend to maintain a schedule and stay indoors. They say it takes about 3 weeks to form a habit, so maybe within a month’s time we’ll have this thing in the books as a success with few accidents!

I have 4 weeks to get everything ready and gear myself up for this “party.” You can probably tell I’m still a little skeptical, but I think it will work. Steven will be out of town that weekend, so he won’t have any available ways to make fun of my celebratory tactics!

Do you have any words of wisdom or “if it doesn’t work, try this” scenarios for me as I embark on this journey? Thanks in advance!

Posted: February 17th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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The Advice Column

gooseI am feeling very protective of my family recently. There have been times in the last few months where I’ve almost said something snarky on return of a comment made about (or for) one of my boys, my extended family – or even the dogs. Typically I let things glide on past without getting too irritated, but perhaps this ridiculous weather has had an affect on me.

Mama Bear is roaring out of me. I’m the annoying mother goose protecting her nest. If you know me at all, I do try to avoid conflict at most costs, but my heart is bursting with pride for my peeps, and I feel the need to protect.

I know that most of the time, people:

1) Do mean well, usually. They are just trying to make conversation.
2) Are not trying to pick a fight.
3) Enjoy sharing their experiences and what they accomplished. Who doesn’t?
4) Might be jealous or seriously curious/concerned.
5) Don’t know what they are saying or don’t fully understand the situation.

I realize that having a family and getting older provide opportunities for mostly well-meaning people to give unsolicited advice. And there are plenty of times that I need and appreciate and seek advice. But, this seems different. It’s like, seriously, I’m becoming Mother Hen.

Here’s an example. Jokingly, it’s been told to me that Wes is frequently sick. “Germy” was actually the word used. He’s a toddler. He’s around kids that touch each other and their faces often. It shouldn’t be, but this is a hot button for me. I guess it makes me feel like person(s) joking either thinks of me as an unprepared mother of bad hygiene, that it’s unfortunate Wes has to attend daycare where all the germs gather or that Wes himself is just a silly kid with poor immunity. Listen, folks. Mothers – and all women, really – have a bad habit of thinking themselves inadequate. Poking fun or offering advice sometimes rubs us the wrong way because it fuels the fire already burning.

I’ve been on the opposite side of the conversation, too. A few years ago, I bought an item off craigslist that happened to be listed by a former coworker. He had just adopted two beautiful children from the Democratic Republic of Congo – a boy and a girl of same age. When I went to the house to complete the sale, I got to meet the children, just a few months younger than Wes. I was so taken with them and asked all kinds of questions about the adoption process, including, “Are they brother and sister?” He respectfully responded, “They ARE brother and sister, yes.” Pause. It sank in. “No, they are not biologically from the same birth parents, but they are my children and therefore, siblings.” It stung. I instantly felt awful for being that person – uneducated and assuming. I apologized, and he was kind enough to understand my inquisitive nature.

I think that experience made me more aware of my conversations with people – new parents, those with a diagnosis, couples struggling with infertility and other difficult subjects. It’s fine to be curious and interested in others’ lives, and I’m sure the party is happy to share information, but my point is to be aware of what you’re asking or commenting on. Phrase it in a way that makes it flatly honest and not disrespectful.

In the meantime, I will work on my hot buttons and how to keep my cool. :)

Posted: February 16th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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