Category Archives: Hippie Parenting

How I became “The Chill Mom” (AKA: I’m A Chill Mom?!)

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In the past few weeks three different people made similar comments: “I wish I could be as chill as you about my parenting.”

tumblr_npcyrsx6kv1tq4of6o1_400My thoughts, in order of their occurrence:

  1. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs screaming so loud my throat hurt yesterday. I am so NOT chill.
  2. Did she just insinuate that I’m lazy?
  3. Oh, Lord. Someone is going to call CPS on me for not paying enough attention to my kids.
  4. You know… I really am much more relaxed than I used to be.

Let me be the first to say I do not think I have the market on awesome parenting. I have made some monumental mistakes that I truly wish I could go back in time and fix. That said, as kid #1 just turned 18 and became an official “adult” and kid #4 is a big boy in kindergarten, I think it’s fair to say I’ve learned a great deal.

Is my way the only way? The best way? The way you should do it?

Don’t be silly!

You do you. I’m just sharing a piece of my journey, because… you know… words. It’s what I do.

So, rewind to 2002. I was 24 years old and in love with a recently divorced sexy bartender. He introduced me to his two children, ages 2 and 3. One of them growled at me. The other one burst into tears.

Welcome to motherhood.

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Over the next few years, I became determined to prove to all the people around me that I was a good mom, or at least as good of a mom as my husband’s ex, who really is a fantastic mother.

I did what I knew.

I gave them food, and told them to clean their plate.

When we were in public I made it understood that they were to be calm and respectful.

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Me, trying to get my kids in bed.

At nap-time there was no getting out of bed, and when it was playtime they were to play nicely without ever fighting.

It’s the same rules my mom had for me but, somehow, while she seemed to manage it effortlessly, all those rules turned me into a bit of an ogre.

I heard myself screaming at the children, and I couldn’t seem to keep my voice under control.

I felt like I was constantly badgering them, forcing them to live up to some perfect standard of what a family should be. We fell short of that standard every single day and, as a result, I went to bed every night feeling like a total failure. 

Then God and nature threw us a happy curveball and a new baby was on the way.

How was I going to deal with another child? One that was with us 100% of the time instead of 3-5 days a week?

Lord, have mercy.

Shortly after the baby was born in 2004, my son was playing outside, making bad choices; the kind of bad choices that could result in thousands of dollars of damage to our house; the kind of bad choices that could have ended up with glass raining down on my sweet, adorable, good-natured little five year old. I threw open the door, stormed onto the porch, and called his name.

I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that a veil was lifted and I saw, before me, one of the most honestly kind-hearted little humans I’ve ever known more terrified than I had ever seen anyone in my entire life. Literally.

I was shattered into a million pieces.

Who was I, that these extraordinary people God had let into my life lived in terror of me?

My change was not overnight. It’s still happening.

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2004 was the time of Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, and The People’s Court. I didn’t work much then, so I often had the TV on as I went about my day.

Over and over, I heard the same themes:

“You are the adult. You can’t afford to lose control.”

“Trust yourself to know what your child needs. Don’t worry so much about the advice of others.”

“Your children are people, too. Give them the grace to learn how to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a safe way.”

The first conscious step I remember taking was to stop screaming. I would talk. I would be firm, if need be, but I would not scream.

If you were paying attention at the beginning, you know that I am still working on that. However, I cut it down A LOT. I would catch myself in mid-sentence and stop talking until I could get my tone under control.

I would kneel down in front of my child and ask them things like, “why are you so upset that I want you to wear this dress?”

To my surprise and delight, when I stopped screaming (or… you know… gave it my honest best shot), my kids stopped screaming, too.

Sometimes they told me things I’d never understood before. “The tag on that dress makes my back itch really bad.” A simple problem to fix. One that did not require WWIII to solve.

When I started to talk WITH my kids, instead of placing my demands on them, the most fantastic thing happened.

I got to know them a little better. I understood that some foods were OK, if presented in the right way. Some had been resisted because they were hard to eat. Cutting them into tiny bites made it easier.

Then the super extra bonus came!

When the kids and I started acting happier and more calm, my husband did, too!

Fast forward to 2016.

I love this quirky kid! I don't ever want to see her learn to conform.

I love this quirky kid! I don’t ever want to see her learn to conform.

My daughter desperately wanted to wear pajama pants to the airport last week, when we went to pick up her father. Pajama pants with an athletic shirt and a fancy scarf. It’s NOT what I would have dressed her in, but in the long term, did it matter one little bit? She was modestly covered. The clothes were appropriate to the weather. I made zero resistance.

My son dances in the grocery store. I don’t mean he wiggles a little. I’m talking about a full-on Michael Jackson Beat-it routine in the canned soup aisle. I remind him to watch for people and applaud him when he takes a bow. Who is he hurting?

My older son wanted to stay up well into the night every night all summer, practicing guitar and writing music. I let him sleep in every morning we didn’t have anywhere to be. In the afternoon he was asked to help out with chores and he never once complained about it. Why did he have to sleep and rise according to my schedule?

I often have conversations that go like this:

“Mama, can I go for a bike ride?”

“Sure.”

“How far can I go?”

“Where do you want to go?”

“How about this block and that one?”

“That’s fine. Please don’t cross the highway or go anywhere else without coming home to talk to me about it.”

“OK.”

That’s it. Done deal. If I had said, “Yes, but you can only go here and there,” there would be a huge argument because that’s not where they want to go. Of course, if they wanted to go somewhere I didn’t feel was safe (and there are certainly a few of those places around), I would draw the line, but because I give them freedom to be them – their own people, with their own thoughts, opinions, and desires – the arguments are fewer and further in-between.

Is it all running through the tulips, holding hands, and laughing.

Ha!

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No!

Yesterday I spent five minutes stomping around the house telling them all what a bunch of slobs they are.

Every day I kick myself a little for the times when I am not the mom I aspire to be.

No one is perfect.

But in the past 14 years I have come to realize something important.

Kids are people, too.

Yes. I’m slow. I probably should have figured that out a little faster, but… seriously… we expect kids to go where we tell them to go, eat what we put in front of them, wear what we choose for them to wear, hang out with the people we decide they can hang out with, listen to the lessons we think they need to learn, go to bed when we think they should sleep, and Heaven forbid they ever have a day when they just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. They should be polite and respectful toward us 100% of the time, no matter what.

Now treat an adult that exact same way.

That’s not a life. That’s prison.

Kids need a framework. They need someone to explain in no uncertain terms that biting is not an acceptable solution to an argument and that it is NEVER a good idea to cross the road without looking. They need rules… AND they need freedom to figure out who they are and what their place is, in this big, often scary world.

When I learned to accept the personhood of my children, it became a great deal easier to just chill out. And if someone thinks I’m lazy because I don’t parent like they do, I’d happily let them step into my shoes for a day and see that giving 100% of your heart every day is NEVER easy, no matter what label you slap on your style.

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Wordless Wednesday: Growing Up (Nablopomo Day 14)

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*This post is Day Fourteen of the January Nablopomo 30-day blogging challenge hosted by BlogHer.

Growing Up To Be A Man | LazyHippieMama.com

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The Empathy Way – A Review

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I believe that humans, from an extremely young age, have an extraordinary capacity to be empathetic. I can remember my own children, as tiny infants, being upset when I was upset or calm when I was calm. Of course, the other side of that coin is that we can be very selfish creatures. My preschooler will snatch a toy he has never seen before out of the hands of another person and simply declare, “this is mine!” Having spent more than a few Sunday mornings with him and his peers in the church nursery I’ve seen that that’s pretty much a common trait among the preschool set. So, when I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of The Empathy Way books by Anne Wessels Paris and Marian Brickner I happily agreed to take a look. I love the idea of introducing this powerful word and concept at a young age and incorporating ways to encourage little ones to examine the situations they find themselves in from the point of view of the others involved.

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

 

The Empathy Way books tell stories of the every day interactions of the bonobo apes at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The full page photographs are gorgeous! They show the apes in every day situations that any child would be able to relate to: They are playing, dealing with illness, frightened or meeting new friends.

What do you do when you encounter someone who seems scary because they look different? How can understanding a bully help you deal with the way the treat you? How can empathy help us make our friends feel better in hard times?

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.comThose are lessons that anyone, of any age can benefit from learning!

The book series comes with a teacher’s guide and would be a great addition to any classroom or homeschool program. There are discussion questions and some simple crafts to help children remember to follow “The Empathy Way.”

The material says that it’s appropriate for grades k-3. I thought it was great but I would suggest that it’s more appropriate for the younger end of that spectrum.  T-Rex, at age 3 1/2 thought these books were wonderful. He caught on right away and, pointing at the pictures asking, “is she scared? Is he sick? Are they laughing? They think it’s funny?” The comments he made as we read showed that he understood the concept of empathy, even though he had never heard the word before being reading these books. The language is simple, but never simplistic.

If you have a young child at home or if you are a teacher who works with this age group I would strongly encourage you to visit The Empathy Way website. The books are available there as are some really great videos and resources.

In a society where too many news stories are about children and adults who have been hurt lashing out at the world that hurt them we could all use a little more empathy!

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

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I Believe In Magic – Or At Least In Possibility

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I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.comEvery year, about this time, I always see several articles talking about all the reasons why parents choose not to embrace “the whole Santa thing.” The reasons usually boil down to one of two things: either these parents are rejecting Santa because they want to focus their family’s attention on the religious importance of the holiday or they feel that embracing the Santa myth is a form of lying to their kids.

I get it. I really do. I think both of those are valid points and, if that’s the way you feel then fine. I’ve got no issue with you. Kudos for raising your kids with strong values. Keep up the awesome job!

I just thought I would take this opportunity to chime in on the other side.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

Yesterday the Wise Men were wandering across the desk, looking for baby Jesus, when they got sidetracked by A Charlie Brown Christmas.

We embrace Santa. We are full-on believers in this house. Bring on the flying reindeer! We also have three Magi wandering about during Advent looking for the baby jesus. Our house is full of magical things all year long. We’ve found green foot prints on St. Patrick’s Day morning and the occasional trail of tooth fairy dust.

Not once have I ever felt like I was lying to my children or taking our focus off God.

Follow me, here…

In Dean Koontz’s book, The Taking, he quotes something known as Clarke’s Third Law which states, “Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.”

Send me back in time with a backpack full of common, every-day items from my home and I will convince those people that I’m the most powerful magician who ever lived. I have a device that can play thousands of songs, each with it’s own unique instrumentation, and the whole thing fits in my pocket. There is medicine in my bathroom cabinet that will instantly open the airways of a person struggling to breathe. I can make fire by pushing a button.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

Magic, I tell you!

And it if those things don’t knock your socks off, consider this: what are you made of? Flesh and bones? Water? Carbon? Ok… but look closer. Cells? Atoms? Protons, neutrons and electrons? OK, but look even closer. You’re mostly just… well… nothing. Look closely enough and there is nothing there other than energy. Scientists are only just beginning to touch on what that means but, when you look at things that closely something amazing happens. All of our rules about “the way things have to be” just fall apart. Things can exist in two places at once or move forward and backward through time. Energy of one thing can decide to become something else. Literally anything becomes possible.

It’s magic!

At the end of The Taking, one of the characters flips the observation around to note that the converse would be true as well. If a people became sufficiently immersed in developing ever greater technology they would completely misunderstand when something truly magical happened.

A baby, born to a virgin, come to reconcile the entire human race to their Loving Creator-God?  THAT is some POWERFUL magic.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

What does all of that have to do with Santa?

When my child asks me, “Mama, is Santa real?” my answer is an unequivocal, “I believe he is.” I’m telling the truth. We have friends that don’t believe and she knows that. She understands that many people pretend the whole Santa thing by putting presents under the tree with his name on them, even though they came from a person who bought them at the store. She’s neither oblivious nor ignorant. She also understands that, a few years ago, we had no money to “do Christmas.” None. Not even enough to fill the stockings. Yet, on Christmas morning we woke up to a whole living room full of new furniture including an entertainment center with a flat screen TV and a Wii. She got a gorgeous high-powered telescope that year and new skies. There were even presents for mom and dad. She had told Santa that her baby brother needed some bottles and bibs and he got a whole box full. I honestly don’t know where some of those things came from. I do know that neither my husband nor I purchased any of them. Were they made by elves at the North Pole? Probably not. But I can’t prove it. I choose to believe in magic. Or, at least in the possibility of it.

And for the record, I think that love and the generosity it fosters in our hearts is absolutely as magical as a chubby guy dropping gifts down a chimney. I’ve had that discussion with my children as well.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.comAs a Christian, I believe that God created this universe as a big, beautiful, wondrous place. There are planets made out of vapor and animals living in our oceans that are, in every way, just like a rock until you cut it open and see that it’s actually a living creature. We’re constantly spinning and traveling at unfathomable speeds yet, as I sit and type this I feel still and have no fear of being flung off the planet into deep space. If our planet were just the tiniest smidge closer or further from the sun it would be completely uninhabitable. There’s a whole ecosystem in each of our belly buttons. It’s true! Google it.

All that and you’re telling me that it’s TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE that there’s a guy whose life-mission is to deliver presents to children around the world in a flying sleigh. Phfffbbbttt, compared to the Ted talk I saw the other day about what happens inside the human brain when a musician makes physical contact with his instrument a flying sleigh doesn’t even seem impressive.

I embrace Santa and I teach my children to do the same not because I want Christmas to be all about gifts, but because I want their lives to be all about wonder. I want them to grow up 100% convinced that NOTHING is outside the realm of possibility because, if the past generation is any gauge, by the time they are grown, they will be living in a world that would seem utterly magical to those of us existing here in 2014.

Plus… you know… stockings full of candy. I really enjoy candy.

I Believe In Magic - Or At Least In Possibility | LazyHippieMama.com

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I Don’t Want My Children To Be Independent

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I Don't Want My Child To Be Independent | LazyHippieMama.com

I keep seeing things pop up on social media about how to make sure your child is independent and, after a great deal of thought on the subject, I realize that I don’t really want my children to be independent.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for my babies growing up. Let them tie their own shoes and wipe their own bottoms. I thrill at them taking the initiative to learn something new, all on their own and I sincerely pray that sooner rather than later, once they reach an appropriate age, they feel equipped to go out into the world, find a way to earn a living, contribute to society and generally be productive citizen’s (refer to the tagline, above).

That said, I’m wondering if we Americans aren’t placing way too much emphasis on that word, “independent.”

People will tell you that they “did it on their own.” We are proud to say we’re “standing on our own two feet.” And then there’s the be all and end all of American achievements: “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.”

But is that reality? And if it is reality, is it a good one? Is that the life I want my kids to live?

I look to the people I see and they fall largely into two categories.

There is the group that feel like they’ve done it all on their own, “with no help from anyone.” Many of those people are quick to judge anyone who hasn’t achieved a level of material success at least as high as their own.

“They should just get a job.”

“They need to stop looking for a handout.”

“They’re too lazy to do better.”

“They need to budget more wisely.”

No doubt those things are often true, but if life has taught me anything it’s that, “but by the Grace of God go I.”  Women left without husbands, children born to parents who never show them a good example, people who struggle with prolonged physical and mental illnesses, and so many others may be pushed to the fringe and hanging on by a thread by circumstances they never asked for.

I don’t want my children to grow up so “independent” that they have no place in their hearts to foster compassion for those less fortunate than themselves.

And is it really true that anyone “does it all on their own?” I don’t know a single person who has been successful in any sense of the word without significant help and mentorship. Where would they be if those who helped along the way would have turned their back and said, “just get a job! Try harder! Find a way.”

I don’t want my children to be so “independent” that they forget to be grateful for the multitude of people who have helped them along the way.

Then there is the other group – those who are scraping by just to exist. They are lying awake at night wondering how they’re going to keep the water on for another month and crying every morning as they drop their kids off at day care because they have to go to work which provides just about enough money to pay for daycare.

Those are the people who weep with shame when they have to go to the food pantry or the diaper bank. They glance around nervously when they pull out their food stamps card, hoping no one will judge them and say something harsh. They wither a little every time they notice the kids have grown out of their clothes again.

It’s traumatic because they’ve been told it’s shameful to need help. If you can’t do it on your own you’re a moocher, a drain on the system, something less than those who get a bigger pay check.

Never mind if you’re facing huge obstacles and need a temporary reprieve. Forget it if you’re an awesome parent or a gifted artist or an inventor with ideas that could change life as we know it. Society shouldn’t have to support you while you chase castles in the sky. Go flip a burger and be thankful to live in the land of opportunity.

I don’t want my children to be so “independent” that they feel it’s shameful to ask for help.

I pray that my children are strong, that they never take unfair advantage of a person or situation, that they are brave, clever, innovative, hard working, forward-thinking and open-minded. And I pray that my children grow up very conscious of the fact that we, as a species, are, by our very nature, extremely dependent on one another.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Confession Of An Introverted Mother

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When I was growing up there was a conversation that happened repeatedly between my mother and me.

“Why don’t you go talk to so-and-so (call them, go to a certain place, do a certain thing)?” She would ask.

I would shrug, “I don’t want to.” I would tell her.

“But WHY?”

“Because I’m shy,” I would say and go back to reading my book.

“You’re not shy!” She would declare, and she was right. I’m really not. I’m not timid. I was always happy enough to raise my hand in class or take a part in the church Christmas program.

I was probably 35 years old when I finally found the word I was looking for.  Not “shy,” but “introverted.”

Thank you Facebook with all your silly little quizzes and pop culture therapy for explaining this word to me!

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.comIntroverted people are not necessarily timid or frightened in social situations, but they do find social interaction to be work. For an introvert, to be around people is to be constantly giving of your own mental and emotional energy. An introvert doesn’t get charged up in a night club full of people. They get sucked dry. That doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the great music or good food or stimulating conversation. It just means that there is a limit to how much of that type of situation they can take before something inside starts to feel withered and weary.

The same is true if you’re with just one person, it just happens more slowly.

The only way to “recharge” is to be alone. Totally alone. I’m talking solitary confinement: locked in a room with no phones or social media kind of alone. After a while the internal balance is restored and we introverts can crawl back out of our cave and rejoin polite society once again.

Spend 5 minutes on social media and you’ll find links like this one, this one and half a dozen others that will explain exactly how all this works.

So, finally, I had a word to explain the way I felt and I came to understand that being an introvert is not better or worse than being an extrovert any more than having blue eyes is better or worse than having brown eyes. It just is. Some people are one way, some people are another way. It takes all types to make this big beautiful world go ’round.

I understood that when it came to interacting with the world at large, but it actually took another couple of years to figure out that it applied at home as well.

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

Somehow, the great cosmic soup ladle stirred the ingredients of Handsome Hippie Hubby and my children and, from two fairly extreme introverts, produced two obvious extroverts.

You know those kids who will sit happily coloring in a corner for hours, serving tea to their teddy bears and humming a little tune? Yeah… my children are pretty much the opposite of that. They want to have someone over to visit or they want to go to someone’s house. “Let’s go to the mall, the store, the park, the library!” they beg. We are often busy every single day and evening of the week. We’ll get to Friday night and the only two things I want in the whole entire world are space and silence. Do I get space and silence? Not so much. What I get are two children literally climbing all over me, physically in my space and peppering me with: “Let’s play a board game, read a story, go for a walk, ask someone over for dinner…”

I have, at times, done what any rational person would do: Locked myself in the bathroom. Of course, then they just stand outside the door and continue the litany but at least there’s a buffer zone.

I share all that to get to this:  being an introverted mother can be a really guilt-ridden experience.

I have had moments where I think, “I just want them to go away and LEAVE. ME. ALONE.” Instantly, I’m repentant. Please, God, don’t take my kids away and leave me alone! I don’t really want that.

Except I do. Just for a little while. Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

 

A friend of mine recently said, “I can’t imagine sending my kids away for the weekend. I just love them so much I don’t want to miss a single moment.”

Oh, the guilt!

I WANT someone to take my children for the weekend! Someone I know and trust and love, of course. I want to know they are safe. I know that I would miss them. I’m sure that I would, every few minutes, all weekend long, have that, “Gosh, I hope they’re OK,” feeling in the pit of my stomach. I love those little people so much it hurts my heart! But… 2 days and a whole night without anyone climbing onto my shoulders or pulling off my glasses or asking me what the meaning of life is?

Ahhhhh……  just the thought of it makes the knotty muscles in my shoulders relax.

Another friend recently confessed that she’s thrilled that her 20-something kids still live at home. “I can’t imagine them ever leaving. What will I do?”

I just smiled and nodded politely while my brain painted a picture of me, stretched out on the sofa – the whole sofa, one end to the other – reading an entire novel, cover to cover without being interrupted. That’s what I would do. And when I was done I would stretch and smile and send a text (introverts will avoid the phone as much as possible. I can’t exactly explain why but every introvert I know feels the same about the dreadful things.) to my grown children and tell them, I miss you and I love you with all of me and I hope we can get together for dinner tonight. And I will mean it. Because after the whole day alone I’ll be ready to exist in community again.

A third friend said to me, “After a whole morning of homeschooling and then going to the grocery store I’ll come home and go straight to my room and lock my door and not come out for half an hour.” I looked at this woman who loves her family with an obvious, tangible, fierce passion and I was so relieved to know that I was not alone. You know… philosophically speaking.

And that was a good thing.

Confession of an Introvert Mother | LazyHippieMama.com

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You Asked For It!

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You Asked For It!I’m telling you, right from the start, this post is gross.  It is the nastiest thing I ever wrote and it’s not for the weak-of-stomach. I wouldn’t have written it at all except you asked for it!

Last night I posted this on my Facebook page:

 

I may have had my grossest parenting moment to date, this evening. I was going to tell you all about it in excessive detail but then I thought, “No. I should spare them.” 

So, if you were feeling like you had nothing to be thankful for, now you can relax and give thanks that I did NOT describe the horror of what I saw tonight. 

You’re welcome.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my eyeballs.

Ya’ll freaked out. You wanted to know.

You’re weirdos. The whole lot of you. It’s what I love most about every one of you!

So here’s the thing:  Everybody knows that parenting is gross. Even the most inexperienced men and women enter this particular adventure armed with rags for mopping up vomit, rags for catching pee and poop and a mountain of disposable wipes for all those things that are, even in this earth-loving-hippie’s opinion, are unfit to be washed and used again.

You know.

But knowing and experiencing are just not the same.

A young friend of mine just had her first baby. A gorgeous little boy. She said the other day, “I really understand parenting now. I got pee on my shirt.”

I smiled warmly and thought, “after kid #4 I wouldn’t even notice pee on my shirt. It dries. What’s the big deal?”

Of course, I didn’t say that. She’ll figure it out.

But I digress…  you wanted to know what happened last night. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You could stop reading now and spare yourself the horror.

Toddler-saurus Rex was eating rice noodles. If you’ve never had them, they are basically a very thin, translucent pasta; very similar to angel hair pasta.  He had some orange juice. All was well.

About 2 hours later we sat down together on the sofa to read stories.  At just that moment he burped a very big, very wet-sounding burp. Almost immediately he started crying the particular cry he has that means, “Oh my goodness! I hate the taste that’s in my mouth right now.”

Obviously, he’d thrown up in his mouth a little.  It happens to the best of us.

But then he coughed and whatever was in his throat apparently moved upward.  Suddenly the entire serving of seemingly totally unchewed noodles crawled out of his nose, mixed with vomit and snot.  It didn’t fly out forcefully. It just slid out of his face like sour-smelling worms and dripped onto my sofa.

I was paralyzed. I couldn’t help him. I could just sit there, watching this creep show in full color technovision, unfolding before my eyes.

You Asked For It! | LazyHippieMama.com

Later, once the horror of the moment had passed and I was confident that I wasn’t going to dish up my own serving of pasta right there on the living room floor I began to reflect.

In the moment, it had seemed to be the grossest thing I’d ever seen but, the truth is that, as child #1 approaches adulthood and child #4 is well into his preschool years I’ve seen some things that would have left 17-year-old me trembling in fear.

There was the time that Crazy Hippie Drummer’s butt exploded in a book store. He was maybe 2-years-old. It was one of those lovely, huge, used book stores with plushly furnished reading nooks placed here and there among the stacks. He was a being so good: just sitting there, looking at pictures and minding his own business, when he started to fuss. One grunt later and the kid blew out like Mount St. Helen.  No diaper was built to withstand that sort of pressure.

An especially smelly stream of poop continued to spew forth from him – UP out of the waistband of his pants. DOWN both legs. SPRAYING across the furniture and leaving a trail across the pretty green carpet as we ran from the store. Not kidding. An actual trail.

There was poop in his pants, his shoes, his hair. There was poop on both my husband and me. There was poop everywhere. So much more poop than could possibly be explained by the laws of physics. He was just a little boy, for goodness sake!

Do you know what there wasn’t?

A diaper bag. No diapers. No wipes. We forgot them.

I have never forgotten them since.

But I’m not sure that is as bad as the time Handsome Hippie Hubby decided to let the boy have as many bananas as he wanted. Apparently, he wanted… oh… maybe 7 or 8.  After eating them he moved to the very center of the room where partially digested banana poured forth from every orifice of that kid’s body.

It wasn’t poop. It was actually mashed banana. He vomited it. He pooped it. He blew it out of his nose. I swear I saw it dripping from his ears and tear ducts.

Something about the fact that it still looked like bananas and smelled delicious made it a thousand times worse.

It was a long, long time before I could eat bananas again.

But at least it was bananas he’d eaten that time.

You Asked For It! | LazyHippieMama.com

Kids eat stuff that you can’t even imagine.  Oh, you know that you need to lock up the rat poison and drain cleaner. But you can’t keep them away from everything.

Once we caught him eating cat poop out of the litter box.

Not So Hippie Teenager ripped the head off a preying mantis with her teeth when she didn’t even have enough teeth to fill her mouth. She’s always been in touch with her dark side.

Sweet Hippie Daughter chug-a-lugged the better part of a quart of fermented apple juice, up chucked the whole thing directly into my waist-length hair, and promptly fell asleep for 12 hours straight.

You Asked For It! | LazyHippieMama.com

No doubt about it, though, T-Rex takes the gold medal when it comes to eating the seemingly inedible.

We’ve caught him munching lady bugs like pop corn and masticating tree bark. He’s ingested glitter and polyester fluff. At Cocoa Beach he ate sand.

Maybe he didn’t get the memo that the beach is not actually made of cocoa. I’m not sure but he apparently found it delicious because he ate it All. Day. Long.  We stopped him over and over again but, apparently we weren’t vigilant enough. A month later he was having some serious digestion issues and x-rays showed that his little tummy was all full of sand.

The doctor prescribed some especially powerful very fast-acting medicine via the fastest route (which is not the mouth, in case you didn’t have that figured out). I had the pleasure of dosing out that particular piece of pleasantness and, as a reward, got to hold his diaper on (no time to fasten things up) while poop-smelling sand poured out of my child.

Ever try to wipe wet sand off?  Bet you didn’t have much luck. It can’t be done. It’s a physical impossibility.

  My kid crapped wet sand for weeks.  Not days. Weeks.

The same boy decided, not so long ago, to jam a plastic bean up his nose. WAY up his nose. So far up the pediatrician thought he would have to have surgery but, after a bit of serious archeological-style digging she unearthed the snotty treasure.

“He may bleed from the nose over the next few days,” she said. “Don’t be alarmed,” she said.

Easy for her to say.  I walked into my son’s room at nap time the next day and saw a scene from a Peter Jackson movie. He was covered, head to toe in blood. The crib had blood pooled on the waterproof padding. I swear there were splash patterns of blood across the bedroom wall.

You Asked For It! | LazyHippieMama.com

Janet Leigh had nothing on the scream I let out that day.

A little peepee on your shirt? Pfffbbbt. I can’t wait to hear my friend’s stories 10 years from now!

No. Parenting is not for the weak.

You Asked For It! | LazyHippieMama.com

Still with me? I know from your responses to the original Facebook post that your stories are at least as horrible as mine. Let it all go like your a four year old vomiting downward from the top bunk (Poor Kelly. I think your story beats any of mine.). Dish them up like maggoty soup in the comments. There truly is something cathartic in the telling.

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Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually)

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My one and only super controversial, highly scandalous breastfeeding photo.

My one and only super controversial, highly scandalous breastfeeding photo.

August 1-7, 2014 is world breastfeeding week. We don’t often think of things on such a big scale but, if you look at the World Breastfeeding Week website you begin to realize that breastfeeding is so much more than one woman choosing to provide food for one child.

Breastfeeding is taking a step toward eliminating world hunger.

Perhaps finances had nothing to do with your own personal decisions regarding breastfeeding but there are millions (billions?) of women in the world for whom infant formula is difficult or impossible to pay for.  The “normalizing” of breastfeeding in America and around the world helps prevent these women from being marginalized in some way.  When it is no bigger deal for a woman to nurse her hungry baby or pump breast milk at home, at work, or in other public venues as it is for her to give him a bottle, then we will have removed one major obstacle that stands in the way of breastfeeding success for many new moms. That is removing one major obstacle that may be standing in the way of many babies getting the very best possible nutrition!

Breastfeeding is good for the planet.

Bottle feeding creates waste. Formula cans and scoops, the foil seals that cover them, bottles, nipples, and special brushes for keeping everything clean are all items likely to end up in a landfill.  They are often made of plastics which are made from fossil fuels. Formula, whether soy or dairy based, requires a great many resources to create, from both an agricultural and manufacturing standpoint. It has to be shipped to the stores which is more fuel. Breast milk? The moment a baby is born (more or less) it’s just… there. No waste. No byproducts. A perfect system of manufacture and delivery from mom to baby.

Breastfeeding creates a healthier society.

Both moms and babies reap various health benefits from nursing. It’s not just the nutritional aspect. Everything from postpartum bleeding to breast cancer to the infant’s chance of catching a cold is reduced when a mother chooses to nurse, even for a very short amount of time.

One happy, healthy, chunky little breastfed boy.

One happy, healthy, chunky little breastfed boy.

Breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult and no woman should feel shamed if she chooses otherwise!

Whoa… did I trip you up there?  Read that again, please.

NO woman should feel shamed if she chooses not to breastfeed!

Breastfeeding was a great experience for me. The issues I dealt with were relatively minor and easy to overcome. I had a very supportive spouse and doctor. I had plenty of milk (perhaps a bit too much) and time to nurse my children.

Things don’t work out that way for everyone. I can’t imagine nursing multiples! Even discounting everything else the time involved would be astonishing.

Some women have to work outside the home. Even if their employer is supportive of their need to pump breast milk, pumping is not the same as nursing. It may affect their supply or the baby might not accept the bottle, or refuse the nipple after having had the bottle.

I could go on and on with a hundred different scenarios, but my point is that I truly believe with a powerful passion, that breastfeeding is best for mother and child and for society and should be supported and promoted in every way possible.

I also believe very deeply that we, as a society, need to keep in mind that every woman and every family is unique and what is good and right for one may not even be a viable option for another. In our zeal to mainstream an excellent thing we must not become so extremist that we demonize a healthy and valid “second option.”

Support nursing mothers! Support bottle feeding mothers, too! Because we moms are all working hard to do what’s best for our families and, frankly, we’re all exhausted and need a little help now and then.

I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences regarding breastfeeding!

Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually) | LazyHippieMama.com

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Is Being a Parent Frowned Upon?

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Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comThere are times in history and places in the world where being childless was just about the worst thing a woman could be.  It was (and still is, in some cultures) thought to be so awful that it was considered to be a curse and all manner of laws and customs developed to allow barren women to claim a child as her own that she might not have to face the shame of not being a mother.

Here in modern day America, I wonder if we’ve gone to the other extreme.

“She’s having another baby?”

“They have how many children?”

“She’s pregnant? But her career was just taking off.”

“A baby? Well, I guess her life is over now.”

I’d be willing to bet that, even if no one said these things to you, you’ve heard them said (or said them yourself) about someone else.

When I met my husband he already had two children from his first marriage. When we found out we were expecting our first baby together the reaction was mixed, at best. For the most part we heard, “How are you going to afford a baby?”  One especially supportive relative (sarcasm intended) said, “Oh, great. That’s just what you need.”

The truth is it was a hard time. We were broke. Not “we have to cancel the extended cable movie package,” kind of broke. More like, “I wonder if we’ll be able to buy noodles AND butter tomorrow,” kind of broke. It wasn’t the way we’d planned things (and, yes, we had a plan and had taken “precautions” along those lines) but it was the way things were and we managed. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Fast forward five years. Sweet Hippie Daughter is in school. Hubby and I are both working. We decided we wanted one more little person in our family because… well… just because. We love our children. We remember how that love grew and multiplied with the birth of our daughter and we want to allow that love to grow again.

We had two miscarriages and, early on, were told that the third pregnancy wouldn’t last either, but he was a determined little bean and he hung in there. Finally, very near the end of my first trimester, we saw a powerful heartbeat on the ultrasound, the bleeding stopped and we were told that, yes, a new Hippie was on the way.

I suppose, as a writer, I should have the words to describe that moment in the ultrasound room but I’m at a total loss. After so much sadness and grief and worry, after weeks of wondering and praying and crying, our tiny baby was right there in a grainy black and white image.  It was pure joy!

I wanted to shout to the world!

And so I did.

And the world rolled it’s eyes at us.

“Really?  FOUR kids?”

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.com

Yes, some folks were happy for us and celebrated with us but far more reacted with skepticism and doubt that such a “large” family could ever possibly be a good idea. Many said, in one way or another, that they thought it was irresponsible because we “couldn’t afford it.” A few thought it was “so sad” that just as I was getting back to work I ruined things with another baby.

It’s true. We were still poor. Our spaghetti had honest to goodness sauce every day, though! And… how much should that matter? Obviously, being able to support your family is important but when do you have “enough” money to have children? According to some estimates no one except the “one percent” would ever be able to raise a kid in this country!  Yet, somehow, hundreds of millions of us manage to keep our children fed and clothed.

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comIt’s true. Four kids are a lot of work. Honestly, though, I swear four is easier than three. They love each other (mostly). They entertain each other. And, yes, sometimes I ask the older ones to care for the younger. To the critics I say: No, I do not feel this is unfair. It’s not every day and that’s what families do – they help each other out.  I have never felt like one of our children was missing out on some portion of our love because they had siblings. If anything, I feel the exact opposite. Instead two people living with them and loving each of them they each have five people loving them (well… more than that when you count grandparents, etc, but you get the gist).

This isn’t just about me and my family and our circumstances, though. The age of social media gives us a weirdly intimate glimpse into the lives of our friends and acquaintances. I see it all the time:

Person A: We’re having a baby!

Person B: Bummer!

The idea seems to be that now you are saddled with all this responsibility. You’ll never have a great career. You’ll never get to be spontaneous again. There won’t be any more late night parties or long weekends, lounging lazily in the sun. Now you’ll have to trade your cool car for a minivan. You won’t be able to afford designer shoes and every meal for the rest of your life will be chicken nuggets and macaroni. Your uterus has suddenly turned into a black hole that will suck all of the money and fun from your existence.

Most of all, the mother (the rules are different for fathers, of course) has lost all chance of being a productive citizen. After all, you can’t possibly be successful at parenting AND anything else at the same time.

Where did this idea that parenting is a terrible burden come from?

Do we feed the monster by complaining about how HARD parenting is all the time?

When did we lose the notion that children are a blessing and that more children are a bigger blessing?

When did “parent” become a second-rate status?

Is it just me? Are my views skewed? I would love to hear from you!

What do you think? Is parenthood looked down upon in our society?

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A Very Special Book Review – The Gift of Charms, The Land of Dragor Book 1

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A Very Special Book Review - The Gift of Charms, The Land of Dragor Book 1 / LazyHippieMama.comIf you’re looking for a great new chapter book series for your young reader to enjoy this summer I have just the ticket…

There is a blogger I love more than any other. My totally unbiased opinion is that she is clever and brilliant and talented as well as adorably cute. Yes, she’s my 9-year-old daughter, but I promise, she’s all those other things, too.

Sweet Hippie Daughter was given a great opportunity from author Julia Suzuki to do a review of The Land of Dragor: Book 1: The Gift of Charms.

SHD got so totally sucked into this book that I literally had to go into her room and remove her e-reader so that she could fall asleep!  When she was done she wrote a shining review of it on her blog.  Below are a few of the excerpts from her post:

So this book is really great. It’s wonderful and fun (and not to mention, REALLY addicting) for fourth graders like me.

I would recommend this book to everybody who can read pretty well. It has lots of intense parts and you have to use your imagination in it. I think that Julia Suzuki should keep on writing all she can. She is a really great author and I want her to be known to the world.

It would mean the world to her if you popped over to read her whole post and say hello in the comments. She’s on a personal mission to make sure every child reads  The Gift of Charms this summer!

The book really is wonderful. It is colorful and imaginative in the way of the old fairy tales we all love and challenging enough to engage a child’s busy mind.

You can learn more about The Land of Dragor at Julia Suzuki’s website or by following her on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy reading!

A Very Special Book Review - The Gift of Charms, The Land of Dragor Book 1 / LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!