What REAL MOMS look like. Are you a REAL mom?

You’ve seen ’em-  posts about “real moms” houses, bodies, lifestyles, clothing, etc. (What real women look like in a bathing suit, What real moms’ houses look like, What real moms do during the day.)real moms

But let me ask you this:

Is the mom who keeps her house neat and clean any less of a mom than you are?

Does the fit mom who works hard to maintain her six-pack care less about her children than you?

Does the bottle-feeding mom not want her children to be well nourished? Does the mom who only serves her children organic, free-range, hand-picked food care more about her child’s well-being?

Do the attachment-parenting moms want their children to be well adjusted? Do the homeschooling parents want their children to be well educated?

Does the working mom not want to spend time with her child? Does the stay-at-home mom contribute less to society?

Does the wealthy mom not put out as much love as you do? Does the young mom not want to take care of her child?

Does the adoptive mom not love her child as much as a biological mother?

Do other moms cheer less for their child’s successes? Do they worry less for their future? Do they cry less when their kids hurt? Do they want less for their children?

Before we cast stones, consider this: We all have our strengths, and we all have our weaknesses.

The fit mama’s workout may be the stress relief you find in a bubble bath.

The foodie’s gourmet meals may yield the same sense of accomplishment as the crafty mama’s Pinterest-worthy success.

The creative party planning mom may feel as confident in her element as the put-together fashionable mom.

A clean house may give one mom as much clarity as sitting with a good book gives another.

The working and stay-at-home moms feel equally overwhelmed and exhausted.

The breast and bottle feeding moms are both nourishing their children.

The public school mom wants her children to learn and achieve just as much as the private and home-schooling parents.

One mama’s high powered business suit is another mama’s well-worn play-in-the-mud jeans. Does that mean they don’t love their children equally?

One mama is great at doing art projects with her children and the other recognizes that isn’t a personal strength and enrolls her child in a class. Is one better than the other, or is the child still being exposed to art?

Or think of it this way.

What if the clean mom is battling OCD and envies your ability to just leave toys laying around?

What if the bottle feeding mom wanted to breastfeed more than anything but has a medical issue preventing it?

What if the skinny mom is battling an eating disorder?

What if the working mom has no other choice but to support her family financially?

Think about what insinuating that they aren’t “real” moms or “real” women does to their already fragile self-esteem.

AreYouAREALMOM

In sharing pictures, words, thoughts about “REAL” moms, we are in fact just starting yet another mommy war.  Don’t make others feel guilty because they aren’t exactly like you. Much of it stems from jealousy, hurt, insecurity, uncertainty, etc.  Whatever the reason, let’s pause to consider the fact that we are all REAL moms.

Real moms want what is best for their children.

Don’t judge the crafty mom for sharing her passions in a themed birthday party and make her less of a mom by saying “real moms crafts look like this”. Don’t belittle fit active moms who have always made fitness a priority just because other moms don’t have similar body types. Don’t hate those who flawlessly keep their house clean just because that isn’t your forte. Don’t envy the stylish moms just because you prefer to go sans make-up in yoga pants. In general, the people being criticized are not criticizing you back. They don’t care what you are wearing, how much you can bench press, or what you served your family for dinner. The artistic mom doesn’t think you are neglecting your children because you can only draw stick figures.

Speaking of stick figures, supermodels are real too. No, most people don’t look like them, no, we don’t want our children solely equating beauty with the tall thin women plastered all over the media, but they are people too. They have thoughts, feelings and breathe the same air as you.

Real moms comfort their children when they cry. They feed their children. They bathe their children. They read to their children. They hug their children. They laugh with their children. They make sure their basic needs are met. They lead by example.

We are all moms. We don’t all have to get along, but can we at least accept that we are all REAL women who breathe the same air and live on the same earth? We all have children and do what we think is best for them. We all have different strengths and interests. We have different viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences. Lets look at all mamas, all women as a team. Whether or not we agree on the big and small issues, we all have responsibilities to our children and are striving to do it right.

Onesizefitsall

Type A or B, anal or laid back, helicopter or flag pole, caviar or granola, breast or bottle, skinny or plump, stretch marks or wrinkle free, young or old, working or SAHM, clean or messy, tall or short,  athletic or clumsy, holistic or not, breast or bottle, homeschool or private, wealthy or poor, we are all people. We are all real.

We are all mamas, and to our children, We are the only reality they need.

 

How to Teach Young Children About Deceased Loved Ones

Growing up, I always felt very fortunate to have four living Grandparents. At a young age I recognized that I was lucky, so many of my friends had fewer. Even though I lived far away from them, I cherished them and looked forward to every phone call and visit. We were family and there was no other requirement to be loved and accepted. Unfortunately, my own kids aren’t that lucky. The first funeral I ever attended was at age 15- my own father’s. My mother’s was 3.5 years later.

Don’t get me wrong, my children are EXTREMELY blessed with an amazing paternal Grandmother and Grandfather for whom I am eternally grateful. But they are missing out on the other half- on knowing a huge part of who they are and where they came from. The feelings expressed in My Greatest Regret resurface strongly as I reflect on the fact that my parents and children never got the chance to enjoy one another in that unique grandparent/grandchild bond.

I have done my best to teach my children about them, but how do you really do that? Up until recently, I kept it extremely basic. However, when my Grandma died this year, J started to ask some pretty intense questions, and at the ripe age of 4, I found myself explaining things no young child should have to worry about. I wish more than anything he didn’t have to think about death, getting old, Heaven, etc. Yet, in some ways losing his great-grandmother has opened the doors for more honest, meaningful ways for me to teach him about the people who are no longer with us. He seems to “get it” on a level I never would have imagined possible.

There is no possible way for my kids to KNOW their grandparents, but I do as much as I can to teach them ABOUT them. Above all, I strive to ensure they know that their grandparents LOVE them.

Here are some ideas to help teach young ones about family members they never met:

1) Pictures- Children are visual learners, and having a tangible photo helps them to put a face to the person you are talking about. I have a few pictures up in the house and J recently asked to put one in his room. Since they passed away so young, they don’t resemble typical graying grandparents. Instead J knows his maternal grandparents in their stylish 70’s bell bottoms, as young happy-go lucky newlyweds, and proud new parents holding babies that resemble him and his siblings. grandparent articleBut he sees them; he sees the love, the joy, the traits they passed to me and to his brother and sister.

 

2) Keepsakes- If you are fortunate to have any mementos, share them. I had a little wall hanging from when I was a baby that I added J’s name to when he was born and placed it next to the rocker.  I also had a blanket that my mom had spent an entire year knitting, and it is now the “Grandma Wilma blanket” that we cuddle when we feel sick or sad for comfort. When J was really little, I would say “Grandma Wilma loves you” as I wrapped him in it. I kept little trinkets that they had kept themselves over the years. These are the kinds of things that wouldn’t mean much to anyone else, but to us they trigger memories and mean the world.

blanket

3) Traditions- Passing along holiday traditions is a simple way to carry on the memory of loved ones. It is a great time to tell stories and reminisce. Everyday traditions are just as wonderful. In addition to sharing traditional recipes and customs, I find the little things can be even more meaningful. Grandma Wilma used to read me all of the Berenstain Bears books, and guess what? They are J’s favorite now too. Great Grandpa Al used to sing us silly songs, want to hear them? Grandpa Brad used to love seeking out the best viewing spot for 4th of July fireworks, so any time we see fireworks we think of him “oohing and ahhing” at the display. Think of the things that really stand out in your memory, and pass them on.

4) Random Tidbits-  It is the little every day stuff that makes their grandparents real in my kids’ minds. ‘Grandpa Brad loved Spumoni ice-cream’, so we think of him whenever we eat, you guessed it, “Grandpa Brad ice-cream”. ‘Grandma Wilma loved Giraffes’- an easy reminder to share when we go to the zoo or see one in a book.  ‘Grandpa Brad loved sports, he ran super fast, he was a gifted cellist’. ‘These bagels taste like Grandpa Brad’s did’. ‘Grandma Wilma loved pretty flowers and butterflies’. By making it part of every day conversation, they see that we can remember people, that they are still a part of us, and that we don’t always have to feel sad.

spumoni

*As we were enjoying our ice-cream, unprompted, my 4-year-old said, “When we eat this it shows Grandpa Brad how much we love him”.

5) Special Moments-   You can’t always plan for these kinds of things. Be open and aware, and let them come in. As a young girl I inherited all of my great-grandmother’s costume jewelry. I met her when I was one, and as the story goes, she fell in love with me and left me all of her jewelry. Obviously I didn’t remember her, but I loved playing with all of the trinkets and would proudly tell my friends they were from my Great Grandma. The other day I was going through my mom’s costume jewelry, and J surprised me by sliding up next to me and shrieking with glee as we pulled out her fun collection of pins. pins Later, the babies joined in, happily donning the beaded necklaces.  I never envisioned doing this with them and what was meant to be some nap-time organizing became one of my most special moments so far- reliving my own favorite childhood activity while simultaneously teaching them more about their Grandmother- through teary eyes of course!

So while they will never fully know them, at least they will know some things. Nothing fills my heart more than when J randomly mentions one of his maternal grandparents in conversation.   It means they are now a part of him.

What are some ways that you have taught your children about lost loved ones?

deceased loved ones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Changing Trick for Tidying Up

lifechangingtrickI am the perpetual clutter queen. (The first step is admitting there is a problem, right?) So when I heard rave reviews about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, of course I had to read it! It certainly has some fantastic ideas that I would love to implement some day, but its all or nothing approach just isn’t a good fit for me in this phase of life. I am not ready for all, and don’t want to do nothing. So I came up with this solution, and it really has proven to be the most magical trick I have found thus far!

 I have two words for you:  Two Laps.

That’s it. Two Laps.

Seriously, try this. It is the first trick I have found that actually works and I have been able to maintain it for more than a few weeks!

tidyingup

Materials Needed:  A Laundry Basket

Directions:

1) Start in one room of your house. Put everything in that room away and place anything that doesn’t belong in that room into the basket.  (Example: In the kitchen I put all kitchen items away, and stash the shoe, the toothbrush (don’t ask) and the matchbox car in the basket.)

2) Carry the basket with you to the next room. If any of the items from the previous room belong in this room, put them away. Next, as you did in step one, put everything in the room away and deposit misplaced items into the basket. (Example: Now in the playroom, I take the matchbox car out and put it in the appropriate toy bin. I put away any other stray toys. I place the dirty sock and the empty cup in the basket to put away once I get to their appropriate rooms.)

3) Continue steps one and two in each room of your house.

4) By the time you have circled your house twice, you will have put everything where it belongs.  (The shoe made it into the garage cubby, the toothbrush in the bathroom, the sock in the laundry, the cup in the dishwasher.)

This tip is a huge time saver and the magic is in its simplicity.  If I were to put each stray item in its appropriate locale each time I came across one, I would be exhausted from going up and down the stairs, traipsing all over the house to the point of just giving up or only focusing on one room, leaving the rest for “tomorrow”.

The first time we implemented this strategy it took about 20 minutes. The next day it took less than 10. The third day it took less than 5 and we were done after only 1 lap. Some days are messier than others, but overall getting into the habit of doing this, we have been able to stay on top of the perpetual and inevitable clutter that 5 people living under one roof create.

These are the random itidyingup2tems we found on our third day: a feather duster, a drum stick, ski goggles (it is June), a cooling rack (toddlers and their treasures!), shoes, and a toy train. Imagine what we would find in a weeks’ worth of accumulation!

We do this immediately after the kids go to bed before we lose motivation. Skipping days just means it takes longer the next time as things accumulate. We are more relaxed, more efficient, and more productive in a tidy house. We have also found that the kids play better when their toy room isn’t a giant mess of toys (see here ) and they too are more motivated to put things where they belong when it is in manageable pieces.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

I leave you with two more words:

You’re welcome 🙂