GULP! Notes From Boys Already?! She’s Growing Up Too Fast.

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Kids grow up so fast!  Where did my little girl go?

When my kids get home from school each day, I open the door and greet them each with a smile and a hug.  Yesterday, my 6 year old and 7 year old smiled as usual, but my 10 year old had a grin on her face.  Seriously.  She looked like the cat who swallowed the canary.

She bounded through the door and said right away “This is the best day ever!!”  I asked her what happened and she just kept smiling.  She wouldn’t tell me.  So, I again said “Why, what happened?!!!” — this time a little more persistently.  She then spilled the beans.  She said “I got a note from ‘Bobby’ and he gave me his phone number!!!”

I about passed out.  Yep, right there on the steps.  Thank goodness I had my hand on the railing to steady me.  Being the mom I am, I tried to play it cool while my insides were screaming – “NOPE!  Not gonna happen!!”  I asked her the questions that any mom would and this is how the conversation went:

M:  So, is this a boy you like?
E:  I don’t know.
M:  What do you mean you don’t know, is he just a friend?
E:  (Big grin) – I think so.
M:  Do you think he is cute?
E: MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!
M:  I just asked.  What did the note say?
E:  He said he liked me as a friend and gave me his phone number so I can call him.
M:  So, he is just a friend, you don’t like him more than that.
E:  Yeah, he is a friend.

She laid the note down on the counter and proceeded with her afternoon snack and routine.  I can not tell you how much restraint it took for me not to pick up that note and read it.  We are talking “coffee addict in Starbucks with unlimited funds” restraint.  I turned and walked away.  When I went back into the kitchen, the note was still lying there.  I actually could swear I heard it taunting me:

“Come on Tracie.  You know you want to read me.  Do it.  She’ll never know.  You can fold me back up when you are done.”

In that moment, I reached for the note.  With it in my right hand, I walked to my daughter and said “Here, you might want to put this somewhere so you do not lose it” and I walked away.  I did it!  I did not interfere in her personal life.  GULP.  Her. Personal. Life.

Later on, when all the kids were in the room with me, I pushed the conversation a bit more.  I asked her if she liked boys and wanted a boyfriend.  My 7 year old immediately shouted out “You have to be 18 to have a boyfriend or girlfriend” which was countered with “YEAH!” from my 6 year old. (Boy, how I wish I could hold them all to that idea).  My ten year old say “No, you don’t have to be 18, but you do have to be a teenager.”  YES!

So there it was.  It hit me.  My daughter is growing up.  She is ten and may not yet really be into boys, but it is going to happen.  I am going to blink and she will be 13 and come home telling me that she has a boyfriend.  I started thinking that she is just too young for this.  I thought back to when I was a kid and when I had my first boyfriend and it hit me.  Yes.  I was in the 4th grade.

Back then, you would “go together” – to which my mom would always say “where are you going”.  I would roll my eyes and try to explain it to this person who really didn’t know anything (or so I thought).  And your relationship, if you can even call it that, was lucky to make it past 3 days.  If you made it a week, well that was like 50 years in marriage!  We didn’t kiss.  We didn’t hold hands.  Heck – I don’t even think we spoke with one another.  I was young and naive and the world was so different back then.

Now, I am hearing horror stories of 6th grade girls wearing tight jeans and low cut shirts.  They have boyfriends and hold hands wherever they go.  What sickened me the most is when I heard that these girls and boys were having sex.  Yes.  At age 12.  Parents are encouraging the dating by going on group dates with them.  They are hosting parties and allowing the kids to have time alone (totally unsupervised as if you are upstairs and the kids are downstairs, who is watching them).  I guess my kids won’t like me.  They won’t be doing these activities anytime soon.  They may be the “only person” who can’t go to the party.  I’m your mom – not your friend.  This is my job to protect you for as long as I can.

I am scared for my kids.  I know they are so tired of me talking to them about strangers and drugs. I am positive that they get that very well — *Pats self on the back*.    Now, we are starting the talks about the birds and the bees.   While I am teaching my children to wait, I can only hope and pray that they listen.  I pray that their guardian angel and the Lord guide them to make wise choices.  I hope they know that they are more than a body for pleasure, they are a person.  I hope they know that if someone respects them, they will not force them to do something they do not want to do.  My head is spinning thinking of all of these things I have to teach my kids.

I know I can’t shelter my children from the world.  They do have to grow up.  I just have to keep the lines of communication open with them. I need to make sure they know how to respect themselves and the opposite sex.  It is my job to teach them right from wrong on both a moral and ethical level.  I know that if I do my job, they are going to still make mistakes, but they are going to know that they have my support and that I am here to help them pick up the pieces.

Even though I know all of this, my heart wants to grab them and go find a time machine.  I want to go back 9 years when I could sit with my daughter and rock her in the chair in her room.  To that happy, chubby little toddler learning to talk.  I want to hold that nursing baby and watch her fall asleep.  I want to watch my son learn to walk for the first time.  I want to stand over that crib and watch these miracles sleep at night.

I think I need to go drown my sorrows of “losing” my baby.  Anyone want to split a carton of chocolate chip ice cream with me?

Product Review: iLuv Selfy Case

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iLuv Selfy Case Review | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

Selfy’s.  Everyone seems to be doing them, but in nearly all of them, you see that extended arm in the shot.  You know what I am talking about – don’t you?  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to take a selfy that actually didn’t have that issue?   iLuv has the answer — it is the Selfy case.

The iLuv Selfy Case (retails for $69.99) is a plastic and rubber case which includes a built-in kick stand for your device.  It is paired with a bluetooth remote (which slides into the back of the case when not in use).  The remote is used to take the pictures – which allows you to set your device up, use the remote and take a Selfy that doesn’t include the dreaded “arm shot.”

The case was actually better than I thought it would be.  It includes a hard plastic piece which surround the device.  It then slides into the outer plastic shell, which provides additional cushion for the device.  There are proper cut outs for your charger, camera and headphone ports, which were large enough to work with most accessories.

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While it is built to protect, I will admit that I had a tougher time getting the hard plastic case onto the device.  It had to snap on tightly and then trying to remove it was also difficult.  I suppose you could say that it is that way to protect the device to ensure it doesn’t pop out, but I did have to push pretty hard to get it to snap into place.

remote

Once the device is in the case, you simply have to pair the remote to your device. The instructions to do this were very well written and it took less than 10 seconds to get up and running.  Then, you just need to open your camera app, prop up your device and then start snapping away!!!

My kids and I had some fun.  In fact, we were having a girls’ afternoon and so decided to give the device a try.  Here are two of our own Selfy’s:

selfy

All in all, I really think this is an awesome device.  I can see this being so great to take those family photos or other shots, where you want to be included – but would rather your arm be down by your side!!

I received this product for review.  All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties.

 

I’m Not Perfect. And I’m MORE Than Fine With That.

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perfect

 

This summer I’ve struggled.  In fact, I’ve struggled a LOT.  Summer is not just sleeping in, swimming pools and hanging outside.  For me, it is trying to strike a balance between running this website, TV segments, interviews, family time and being a mom.  Truth be told – most of the time I don’t do it very well.

I struggle day in and day out to meet the needs of my kids and at the same time, tending to my business.  It may mean a phone call runs into the time I should watch the movie with the kids or that I have to reschedule a meeting so I can spend the day at the pool.  It means that something goes to the wayside.  It means….dare I say it…….I am not perfect!

There.  I said it.  In fact, let me say it again:

 

I AM NOT PERFECT.

 

You know what? I’m fine with that.  The reason is because when I do something, I do it completely.  When I work, I give myself 100% to what I am doing and it means my kids have to wait an extra few minutes for breakfast or for the movie to be turned on.  The same is true when I am in Mom Mode.  I don’t check Facebook.  I don’t answer questions.  I don’t look at emails.  I may even miss sharing a hot deal!  Why?  Cuz I am not perfect and can not do it all.

 

I CAN NOT DO IT ALL.

 

Being perfect is overrated – and honestly unattainable.  I would rather be happy and my family be happy than strive for perfection.  That is just too much pressure!!  So I do what I can.  There are days when something suffers as it doesn’t get the attention it needs.  I may end up losing my patience with the kids when I am trying to work on a deadline and they are fighting in the background.   I don’t necessarily post every deal I see.  I may even post a deal and then it turns out that the coupon is gone by the time the post is on my site.  These things make me less than perfect and I am fine with that.

I am me.  That is all I can be. God did not make me perfect.  He made me flawed because that is who I am suppose to be.  I am suppose to have this personality.  I am suppose to be this kind of wife and mother.  I am who I am suppose to be.

 

I AM WHO I AM SUPPOSE TO BE.

 

So, I say, that is good enough for me.  I am not perfect.  However, I am a great mom.  I have employees who love me.  I am a great friend.  I am a loving spouse.  And the thing is, I sometimes fail doing those things too.  But you know what, that’s OK.  After all, between perfection and happiness – I choose happiness.   Hands down.

A Day In The Life of a Work At Home Mom

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WAHM | www.pennypinchinmom.com

There seems to be this ongoing argument that stay at home moms (SAHM) have it easier than moms who have a traditional job.  This is nonsense.  Whether you work at home and are paid (or not) or if you get up each day and drive into work and have kids – you are a working mother.  Plain and simple.  We all work hard – we just do it differently.

While I have not ever worked outside of the home since I’ve had my kids, I’ve had a period of time when I did not have a job outside of taking care of my kids and my house.  A few years back, I started this website and added the role of employee to that of mom and wife.  I’ve experienced some challenges trying to juggle taking care of my kids along with working.   There are still days when I get it wrong and have to work harder the next day to find a better balance.

I have had friends who work outside of the home say that it is tough as they have to fit in cleaning, homework, shopping and what not outside of the time that the are not at work.  I completely understand and empathize with them.   What a lot of people may not realize is how difficult it can be to work from home when you have kids.  Some may think that it would be great to get the housework and shopping done during the day, but that doesn’t always happen.

I’ve also had people ask me how I can do it all.  All I do is try.  I am not superwoman.  I’m no better than anyone else.  I have the same struggles as everyone else and every single day is a challenge to find the right balance of working and tending to my kids.  I make a LOT of mistakes.  I may get sucked into the computer longer than I intend.  There are times when I am late responding to emails or deadlines because I’m playing with my kids.   And, before someone says that is the way it should be, it is important to know that I run a business and just because I am a mom, it does not mean that it is OK to miss taking care of work related issues timely.

So, if you want to know how I do it, here goes.  This, is what an average day working at home, with three young children, may look like:

I roll out of bed at around 6:30 (on the days that my youngest is not actually up by 6 am).  I usually sneak in some snuggles before she is asking me to get her something for breakfast and to put her favorite show on television.  I get her settled and sit down for a minute, thinking I might be able to check my email while she is enthralled in her morning episode of Doc McStuffins, when my oldest usually comes down the steps.

I usually have a moment of dejavu as I need to get breakfast for her as well. I stop what I’m doing and make sure that she gets something to eat.  Around this time, I go get the dog and feed her breakfast and put her in the backyard.  Just as I sit down (the girls are entertained for a few minutes)…..you guessed it…..my son gets up and also asks for his breakfast.  I’m happy to get him what he needs (including that coloring page he wants or the paper or truck from the basement).  I make sure the girls are also OK and don’t need anything more while I am up.  Once again, I sit down and attempt to work.

Within 15 minutes (if I am lucky to survive that long), I am beckoned for a refill on chocolate milk.  After a few “I didn’t hear you’s” (waiting for the “please” I require from my kids), I get up and get her something to drink.  While I’m up, I go ahead and let the dog inside and may sneak up the steps and throw a load in the washing machine.  Or, as usually happens, I just turn the machine back on and toss in more soap as I forgot about the load I started yesterday and now it needs to be washed again.

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Once that is done, I sit down again.  Around this time, the kids are done eating and playing together.  On a good day, I can usually make it around 30 minutes before someone starts fighting…..or yelling….or crying.  After a long sigh, I get up and take care of the issue (or might just tell them that they need to figure out the problem on their own).  I settle back in and can usually fit in an hour of work.  YEAH!!!  I’m done working.  Well, at least done with one job (for now).

I head up the steps and gather the troops to tell them to do their morning chores:  make their beds, pick up their rooms, get dressed, brush their teeth and comb their hair.  Once they are done, I might have a few minutes to actually try to sneak in a shower.  I’ll admit that there are days when I don’t get in a shower until after we go to the pool (say around 3 or 4).  However, on a good day, I can fit in my shower before 11 am!  Once I’m dressed, we will head out to the store, play school, play hide and seek.  I let the kids have an equal say in deciding what we’ll do.

After another hour or two, it is time for me to change my hat again and work on the house.  I need to clean up the breakfast dishes, sweep the floor and get more laundry done (and maybe sneak onto Facebook to check my page for questions from readers).  I always ask the kids to come back downstairs to pick up the items that have already made it down the steps (which is more than you might think).   This is usually pretty successful whenever I say if they don’t, toys might end up in toy jail.    Once we are done, all 3 kids head off to play together and that actually works for me….until I have to break up another argument or take away the pirate eye patch as they are fighting over it…….again.

We make it to lunchtime and so I whip up something fun for the kids (during which I sometimes play restaurant where I am the waitress taking orders).  Once they all have their lunch, I might have a moment to make something for myself.  I sit back down to try to work again for an hour or two.  In a perfect world I would be able to get 2 hours of work done in 2 hours.  I may sit for 2 hours, but I am lucky if I get 1 hours’ worth of work completed between the requests for drinks, ending fights, printing coloring pages or just to ask mommy questions.  Don’t take me wrong, I love my kids with all of my heart, but oh what I would not give once in a while to work for an hour without an interruption.

At this point, I usually pull out my little red tomato timer and place it on the corner of my desk.  This is a sign to my kids that I am working hard and trying to wrap up my work so that I can do something with them.  It sometimes actually works.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It rarely works.  My oldest is really good about seeing the timer and knowing that I need a little time to get my work done so I can do something with them.  My younger two try, but hey, it is hard not to cry to mommy when you find a scratch on your finger that is 3 days old and you really need a bandage at that very moment.

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As we head into the afternoon we will play outside, go bowling, hit the pool or whatever my kids decide they would like to do that day.  We spend some time trying to fit in some fun together.  When we get home, the phone rings as it is time for a call I had set up (knowing that this should be a good time of the day).  Of course, as it rings, someone decides to have a meltdown.  This means I have to ask if I can return the call in 10 minutes, allowing me time to get my child(ren) calmed down.

Once the call ends, it is time for an afternoon snack, I take that 15 minutes to get on line and take care of a few things.  I’ll admit that my 15 minute session usually ends up being 30 – 45 minutes.  This is the time of day when I rarely am interrupted, so I take full advantage and seize the moment!

Once I’m done, I log off and tend to the laundry again and plan ahead for dinner.  Once my husband gets home and is settled, he’ll take over and tend to the kids if I need to log on.  Wait.  Let me rephrase that.  My husband gets home and TRIES to tend to the kids.  I really think that he must be a superhero with invisibility powers as my kids never seem to see him sitting right beside me in the chair and never ask him for anything.  (I am sure some of you can relate to this – can’t you?  Surely it is not only my kids who can’t see their father).

invis1

We get through dinnertime and by this time, I am wiped.  After a day of housework, blogging and playing with my kids, I am just exhausted.  My husband is amazing and will usually take the kids up the steps to get a bath.  That allows me a few minutes to sneak on line.  Or, dare I say it, a few minutes to read or do absolutely NOTHING.

After baths are done, the kids will have 30 – 45 minutes until bedtime. My husband will sometimes play with them or they just want to play alone.  This is one of my rare free moments of the day.   We usually spend the evenings very low key.  Once the younger two are off to bed, I might play cards or Clue with my daughter.  She often likes to curl up next to me on the sofa and just watch Ruff Ruffman (which she DVRd that day).  It isn’t about always being active with us, just being on the couch with her is sometimes exactly what she needs from me.

Once my kids are in bed, I get back online.  I get my lists ready for the following day. I may prepare some posts ahead of time.  I will respond to my emails.  I try (not always very successfully) to work ahead so that the next day I can get up and do it all over again.

I share this not to discredit the work any mom does.  Not in the slightest.  I don’t think I work harder than any other mom out there.  I work differently.  If a mom works at home, she may fully relate to the way my day goes.  It might help her to know that she is not alone.   We all work hard.  We all love our kids.  However, who among us doesn’t just wish for 10 minutes during the middle of the day when we could sit down and read a book and not feel guilty about it when there is so much more to do?

And now, since it is nearly 10:30 at night, I need to get busy checking my email………or maybe I’ll just go to bed.

Mom Guilt — And What We Need To Do About It

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guilt

If you are a Mom, you’ve probably experienced MG at least more than once.  What is MG?  That dreaded illness called Mom Guilt.   Moms can experience this if they happened to use infant formula rather than nurse or even if they pick up that new pair of shoes at the mall when the kids all need new socks.

MG strikes moms of all ages — whether you are 25 0r 45.  It doesn’t discriminate based upon where you live, your income or your ethnicity.  It hits.  And when it does, it usually strikes hard.

So, what can you do about it?  Sure, it is simple for others to say “don’t feel guilty about what you do.”  It is not that simple.  If we could just turn off those feelings, do people think that we would not have already done so? I know I certainly would!

What I have had to do is remember one thing – I am not perfect.  None of us are.  We are all human and we will all do things which we regret or of which we are not proud.  Here are a few things I’ve done and why I’ve decided NOT to beat myself up about it anymore – and why you shouldn’t either!

 

Turning the TV on to watch the kids.

 

There are times when I just need to get things done.  I might be needing to pack to get ready to go out of town, be on a deadline with a company or need to get the bathroom cleaned from last night’s muddy bath time.

I stopped feeling guilty about this a long time ago.  How?  I knew that the shows I turned on for my kids to watch were educational.  It wasn’t like I had turned on “The Real Housewives of anything” and left the room.  I usually opted for PBS, Sprout or Disney, Jr.  These are shows which I knew were geared towards my kids and were OK for them to watch.

I also knew that there was no way I could teach my kids everything – that is just unrealistic of me to think.  It was great to see them learn new words and how to treat others – which stemmed from both what my husband and I were teaching them and the reinforcement from these programs.

Now that my kids are older, I use the parental controls on our TV so that I know when I am not in the room, that they will only be able to watch those programs of which my husband and I approve.  If they try to buy a movie, they would need the passcode.  I don’t have to worry that they are watching something that I might question.

This was an easy one for me to let go of – and hopefully you can do the same.  You are not a bad mom if you turn to the TV once in a while.  In fact, it shows you are a real on.

 

Junk Food for Dinner.

 

Let’s face it, there are evening when you are just wiped and too tired to think, let alone want to stand in the kitchen fixing dinner.  Sure, there are some families who would never think of swinging through the drive-thru of the golden arches and you know what – that’s OK!!

An occasional meal of fast food will not kill you nor your kids.  It will not make them obese.  There are usually some healthy options you can pick up for them — leaving the french fries and sodas behind.  Grab milk and apples instead – that way  you are getting them the nutrition you want with the convenience you need.

Of course, if you find that you turn to fast food more than you cook at home, then you might truly need to re-evaluate your menu planning. However, if you stop by once a week or so to grab dinner, it is OK.  If someone judges you, then that is on them and not you.    Just let it go and know you are not killing your kids.

Raising Your Voice.

 

It happens to all of us.  Show me a mom who says she’s never once had to yell at her kids and I’ll wonder if she is really telling the truth.  Now, do we feel good when we do it?  Of course not.  Most of the time, I actually find myself apologizing to my kids shortly afterwards.

When it happens, it is usually because it’s been building and building.  I stay calm most of the time and then finally there is the proverbial straw that breaks the came’s back and I just snap.  I might yell over the must ridiculous thing.  I end up having to turn right around and apologize at them for getting upset.  The thing is, I am human and I make mistakes.  I always take the steps to apologize and make it right.

Do I yell all of the time?  No.  If you find that you do, it might be good to talk to someone about it.  Stress in your life can ooze out into everything – including your patience (or lack thereof) with your own kids.  Just take note of what you are doing and why and find a way to fix it.

Of course, when the kids run through the house with muddy shoes, just know that you won’t be alone if you happen to raise your voice.  You are human!

Spending Money On Yourself.

 

This is the one which seems to bring upon the most guilt for moms.  It seems that every time I decide to pick up something for myself – even something small like a new necklace – one of the kids ends up needing something.  So then, I instantly feel guilty that I spent $20 on myself when I now need to spend money on shoes for the kids.  That was $20 I could use for them when I really did not need that necklace.

It took me a long time to realize that it is OK to let the kids’ wear socks with holes in them a bit longer.  That it is OK if the jeans have holes in the knees.  Honestly, my kids could care less about those things than me.  It’s true – just ask them.

I work hard.  I work hard every single day of the week. It is not just work on this website, it is work around the house.  I cook. I clean.  I make sure 3 little human beings are cared for and loved.  I take care of my husband.  I grocery shop.  I meal plan.  The list goes on and on.  When I look at all I do, I realize that I deserve to pamper myself once in a while.  For me, spending money on myself is my own thank you to myself for what I do.  My husband actually agrees with me.

Those moments when I say I spent some money on new clothes for myself today and picked up nothing for the kids, I get an “I’m proud of you” from my husband.  And you know what?  He is right!  Moms always put their needs last and that is not always bad.  However, there are times when we must put ourselves first or we will grow to harbor resentment and that is not healthy either.

So go ahead!  Go shopping (just make sure you find a deal and use a coupon)!

What types of mom guilt have you experienced?  What did you do about it?  Please share!

Reflections In My Rear View Mirror

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Today is our last day of school.  Finally.  After adding seven extra days due to winter’s late arrival – we made it.   My kids normally take the bus to school (as much as they would me rather drive them every morning).  When it rains or snows, however, I don’t make them stand on the corner and wait.  Instead,  I drive my mini van to the corner so they can stay dry.

Once we are parked, they always unbuckle their seat belts and will climb around the back of the van as I watch down the street to give the “Bus is here!” bellow to get them out the door. I’ve done this many times this school year and never gave it much thought to look in the mirror.   For some reason this morning, I did just that.  I watched them in the mirror.

They were all kneeling on the backseat, looking out the back window.  For a moment, I had a flash forward of the 3 of them talking about final days of school and college, knowing all too well that those years will be here all too soon.  In that instant tears filled in my eyes.   I realized how quickly time flies by.

In that moment of watching them, nothing mattered.  Not the rain.  Not the messy dishes on the counter.  What mattered was just to watch them.  It mattered to just remember that very moment — this age of them being innocent and small.

This morning, I was in a state of bliss with my kids.  Well, at least until hearing “Charlotte!!  Move over!!!” when I was quickly brought back to reality.

My Dirty Little Secret: I DON’T Do It All

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I have been asked so many times, “Tracie, How do you do it all?”   “How do you balance a blog, kids and everything else?”   “You seem like you’ve got it all figured out.”  To these comments I just nod and say “I try my best.”  That is the truth, but the secret is – I don’t.  Strike that – I do it all in the way that works for me.

I read other websites or see photos and often find myself comparing myself to these other moms.  You know the ones I am talking about, don’t you?  Those who have the perfect Easter crafts done by their kids.  Those who plan elaborate meals for their family every night of the week.  The moms who play with their kids every second of every day — and still have not a hair out of place. I wonder, how do they do it?!  I start to question myself.  I question if I am doing all I should.  I quickly smack myself and say “Wake up!  You are not perfect — and neither are they!”

You see, when you look at a blog or a mom on the playground, you see only what they want you to see — and often you see only what you want to see.  They may be fighting an illness or marriage problems.  One of her children may be dealing with developmental issues.  She might be a pack rat who lives in a house filled with clutter.  She might be on her phone checking for an email about a sick relative.  Her blog may be her escape from what she is dealing with at home. The point is this – we don’t know.  Not unless they share, of course.

What you may not know about me is that I often stay in bed until close to 7 am while my kids are playing downstairs.  It is my chance to get myself geared up, ready to face another day.  Then, I get up and immediately corral kids to the counter to get breakfast — usually by my having to call them a minimum of 4 times before they finally “hear” what I am saying.  After that, I repeat myself another 4 or 5 times reminding them to get dressed, make their beds and brush their teeth.

Once they are out the door and off to school, I try to squeeze in a game with my youngest before she too heads off to preschool.  However, most days, she would rather just play by herself.  Does this make me a bad mom?  Nope!  I ask her if she wants to do something with mommy and then if she tells me no, that was her choice.  I then start working.  Truth be told, I have to set a timer for myself so I don’t forget to stop working to take her to school.

There are times when I turn to my computer to escape my life.  I need to block out the fighting, the arguing, and the chaos which can come with being a mom.  It isn’t always work.  It is often trying to connect with others (as some of my closest friends “live” in my computer).  It is reading blogs.  It is following a twitter feed or even reading the news. I sometimes need just five more minutes to get a post done and need the kids to wait for a drink of milk.

There are other times when I want nothing to do with technology.  I want to snuggle with my kids. I want to play Red Light Green Light with them in the front yard.  I choose to hire a sitter and have a dinner out with my husband.

I’m the mom who says “Just 5 more minutes” which turns into 10 or 15 minutes.  I’m also the mom who drops what she is doing when her child asks her a question.  I’m the mom who loses her temper and yells.  I’m also the mom who drops everything to get another glass of chocolate milk or to find that lost toy.

Does any of this make me a bad mom?  Of course not.  I am far from perfect, but tell, me – who is?  What does perfect or a “good” mom mean?  To me, a good mom is one who loves her kids with all of her heart and does the best she can.  It isn’t about the diapers she uses, the way she feeds her infant or how she educates her kids.  It isn’t about the games they play, the crafts they do or the meals that you fix.  I am so tired of us all comparing ourselves and trying to achieve this perfect mom status.

None of us are perfect.  What we are, is human.  We are moms.  We love our kids.  We do our best.  That makes us all more alike than some may want to admit. Ask your kids and I am sure that they will tell you that you are the perfect mom.  And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters anyhow?

So, do I do it all? Nope.  Well, not perfectly.  And you know what?  That’s OK by me.

A Lesson I Learned From Kindergartners (And One I Wish the World Would Follow)

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kindergarten

This past week, I had an opportunity to join my son and 40 other fun loving kindergartners and go on a field trip.  As we all got ready to get onto the bus, some were excited while others were nervous.  When instructed, they all placed their lunches into a basket and lined up, ready to head out to the big yellow bus waiting for them outside.  They giggled and chattered while heading outside where they climbed on board.  They each started yelling “Zavier - sit by me!” “I want to sit by Lillian!”  “Where can I sit?”  Finally, we were all settled in and on our way.

As most kindergartners (who are bubbling up with anticipation at this point) might do – they got a tad loud.  They were ready to join their friends for a day of fun.  Even amongst the nearly deafening noise, I noticed all of these children talking to everyone around them.  No whispers.  No exclusions.  I figured it was part of the excitement of heading to our destination.

40 minutes later we arrived at the museum and everyone listened and lined up.  They all hung up their coats in orderly fashion.  No one tried to butt to the front of the line.  No one cared who hung up their coat first.  They did not cut in front of one another and no one yelled.  Again, I figured it was just excitement.

Once we were settled, we broke out into our groups and began to explore.  I watched all of these kids playing together.  No one cared that they had a different teacher or were not in the same class.  They were out of school and at a museum where they were allowed to encouraged to TOUCH everything!  They had so much fun exploring together.

The moment which really struck me was lunch time.  The kids all grabbed their lunches (which were filled with more Lunchables than I think I’ve seen outside of a grocery store display) and started eating.  They all talked to one another.  They laughed.  No one was excluded.

Did you read that “no one was excluded.”  These kids truly do not care what color of skin their classmate has.  They don’t care that one of the kids might be a tad overweight.  They don’t care if someone is not wearing name brand shoes.  It didn’t matter if her hair was styled perfectly and she was wearing the perfect accessory.  They don’t care if they are all different.  In fact, I don’t think they even really noticed.

As I watched, my mind took these 40 children forward 18 years — to the high school cafeteria.  Would any of these kids be shunned because of her size or the color of his skin? Would someone be excluded because he talked differently or because she was a smarter than the rest of them?  Would the one who was an amazing athlete still talk to the kid who couldn’t run if his life depended upon it?  Probably not.  But then again, adults wouldn’t either.

You see, kindergartners live in the moment.  They are excited to experience new things in life.  They love learning.  They love having so many friends to talk to and to play with.  They don’t care about that other stuff.  They don’t worry about where someone lives or what they have or don’t have.

I have often read All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, but it really struck me at this moment.  I saw this in action – in front of my very own eyes.    What I saw –I could tell these kids believed.  What I wondered is when do they learn to hate others?  More importantly — HOW do they learn this?  Is it just something in their DNA?  Do they learn it from parents, TV, magazines?

My guess is they learn this way of thinking through many influencers.  I just wish that there were a way for kids not to pick up these bad habits.  I just truly wish that they could keep the joy and faith in friends throughout their lives.  Would there be bullying?  Would anyone ever have to attend school in fear of being teased?  Would anyone have to avoid lunch time or friends because he or she was excluded?

Can you just imagine what an amazing world this would be, if we all had the open mind of a kindergartner?  Ponder that (while I reach for another juice box).

30 Days of Counting My Blessings: Day 2 – My Husband

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Continuing with my 30 days of blessings brings me to day 2!

Day 2.  What am I thankful for?

MY HUSBAND

God truly blessed me with an amazing man.  He has such a warm heart and has to be the most patient person in the world.  He gives me an amazing amount of support – no matter which direction my life may lead.

He loves his children more than words can say.  He is involved with their lives and takes time away from work to get get involved with school projects and even sucks it up and does those “not so fun” projects with them when they need it.

He loves me unconditionally.  He loves me when I am not the easiest person to love.  He isn’t perfect — but he is a perfect match for me.

What are you thankful for?

Take a Stand Against Bullying — It Still Affects Me Personally More Than 30 Years Later

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I recently shared a link to a video about a television anchor who was speaking out against bullying.  It was such a powerful message to me.  Ever since I watched it, I can’t shake what happened to her.   In reading some of the comments people left about this women on other websites and pages, I was just appalled.  One person even said that it wasn’t bullying as it was in a private email to her.  Really?  So, when my daughter is older and gets a private message on Facebook or a text from someone saying something mean about her, then it won’t be bullying because “it didn’t happen on the school playground?”

Bullying is a real problem.  Bullying is not the big tough kid stealing lunch money.  Bullying is telling someone that they aren’t good enough to play with them at recess.  Bullying is telling someone he is ugly because of a birthmark on his face.   Bullying is telling someone they don’t matter because they don’t drive a nice enough car.  Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  It does not define an age.  It does not define a creed.  It is what is says — a real or perceived power imbalance.

When someone is bullied, the effects of the experience sometimes never leave.  I know, because I was bullied terribly in elementary school.  Let me share my story with you:

I was in the third grade attending a private (very small) Catholic school.  Our class was so small that we had a total of about 6 girls and 6 or 7 boys in our room.  One of the girls was very mean to me.  To this day, I still don’t know what I did to her, but what she did was bullying in every sense of the word.  This girl, we will call “Sue” created a club.  It was cool to have secret clubs when you were this age, don’t you remember?  However, I bet your club was nothing like this one.  You see, Sue decided to create the “I Hate Tracie” club.

Once this club was created, it meant I had no one to play with at recess.  I had no one to sit by at lunch.  No one would have anything to do with me.  They would meet during recess in their secret place and hold their meetings and share why they hated me.  It did not last long, however, as being a small school, the teachers became aware of what they were doing and put an end to it.   It was too little, too late.  To this date, when I think of what happened to me,  the feelings come flooding back.  I feel like that young 8 year old girl on the playground with no friends at all.  It hurt.

Some might say that it’s been long enough and I should get over it.  For the most part, I have.  However, those actions molded me into who I have become.  I now always wonder if the whispers in the room are about me.    The good that came from this was that I am so much more aware of what I say and do around others.

I did not share this story to get the “Awwww, poor Tracie” comments.  I shared it because it happened to me.   I lived through it.  The pain and the memories are real.  They cut deeply and made an impression on me.  What she did made me actually question my own self-worth.  THAT is what bullying was to me.

Bullying is real and it is a problem.  My guess is that many of you have experienced a form of bullying at some point in your lifetime. I admire people for standing up against it.  October is Take a Stand Against Bullying month.  We have a chance to teach our children about it.  We can help them learn how not to be a bully and what to do when it happens.  No child (nor adult) has to take this.  No one should go through this in their lifetime.

As for me, I am teaching my children to be kind to people, even if they are different.  I am teaching them to be accepting of others.  I am teaching them to be a friend to everyone.  I know that they are not perfect. None of us are.  I just want them to understand what bullying is and why we don’t want to do this to other kids.  My kids know what bullying is and what it can do to others.  In fact, my oldest daughter actually shared with me that she witnessed bullying on her bus this past week.   I was proud of her for standing up to to and for letting me know so that the bus company could look into it and prevent it from happening again.  Just when I thought my daughter never listened to me – it turns out that she was.

The damage from bullying is rarely on the outside where we can see it.   It is not being beaten up on the playground anymore.  It is the words and actions of others.  To the victims of bullying, it lives in you forever.  For most it does not define who they become, but for some it does.  It changes who they are and who they grow to be.  While I didn’t let it define me, pain and lessons I learned are still very real.  You truly never shake it, no matter how hard you try.