Tag Archives: motherhood

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!

Want to REALLY know what my busy typing fingers have been working on lately? Visit my author page for oodles of short stories and all the latest info on the Heaven And Earth Series!

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Visit (A Five Minute Friday Post)

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I have two major projects in the works right now. The re-write and re-submit of my book is in the final stages. Fingers crossed everybody, and maybe this author will have a novel in print and in stores by the end of 2015 yet! Also, Handsome Hippie Hubby and I have embarked on a business adventure that has taken off faster than I ever could have imagined and I’m racing to keep up so we don’t lose that fabulous and all-important momentum. Apparently, two is the maximum number of huge projects I can deal with at any given time because this poor blog has been sadly neglected in the past several weeks. I miss it.

That said, each week I get the most lovely newsletter from Katemotaung.org. They are always well-crafted and encouraging and you should sign up to follow her! Part of her weekly post is a “Five Minute Friday” prompt.

I don’t have a lot of time, but I have five minutes. It sure did feel nice to write again! (Thank you, Kate, for the nudge.)  I hope you enjoy this tiny bit of my brain and I hope to see you back here soon.

The prompt:

Visit (Five Minute Friday) | LazyHippieMama.com

I have a vision of my home: clean and tidy, fresh flowers on the table, fresh-baked bread cooling on a rack in the kitchen, veggies from the garden in a pretty hanging basket. In my vision my children are playing sweetly in the sunshine-splashed yard and one of my favorite friends pulls into the drive. It might be one of the wonderful neighbors I’m blessed to be surrounded by, or perhaps my dearest friend from childhood. Maybe it’s the lovely woman I only just re-connected with on Facebook after losing communication, years ago.

My visitor and I slice some bread and slather it up with mayonnaise and juicy tomato slices and we sit on the porch drinking iced sun-tea and sharing our hearts with one another.

This day actually happens… once a year or so. More often my house is a wreck. There are dishes piled everywhere and stacks of laundry on all the chairs. The children are plugged in to their electronics and no one can sit on the porch because the chairs never got washed after the most recent storm blew them into the mud-filled flowerbeds (which I never did quite get around to finishing last summer).

Visits rarely happen at “ideal” moments. Still, a moment becomes ideal when a loved one comes to visit.

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!

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

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

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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

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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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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Reasons My Mama Is Crying – A Guest Post By A 2-Year-Old

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***I have had guest bloggers before. They were brilliant and insightful but, as fabulous as they were, this writer is hands-down my favorite guest poster of all time.  He is charming and witty and talented and an obvious genius. He is one of those people who, as soon as you meet them, you know he is destined for greatness.  Unless you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones who encounter him during a temper-tantrum in the Meijer produce department.  Have you guessed it? Today’s guest blogger is Toddler-saurus Rex.  I hope you enjoy his first-ever blog post.***

T-RexHi! I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself, if that’s OK. My mommy calls me T-Rex on her blog so I guess we’ll just go with that. I’m 2 1/2-years-old. I enjoy listening to the same song over and over until the grown-ups in my house start to tremble and show signs of a nervous breakdown, turning on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and ignoring it completely until someone else tries to change the channel, and exploring the flavors of random items I pick up from the floor.

I asked Mama if I could have some space on her blog to share something with you.

You see, there’s this website called, “Reasons My Son Is Crying.”  Mama thinks it’s hilarious.  Every time she sees one of those pictures she starts laughing.

I honestly don’t get it.  I mean, did you see the one where the mom had planted a flower in the pot her son had given her? What was she thinking?! Of course the boy was crying! Who puts a flower in a big clay pot? Poor kid. I feel his pain.

And it’s not like Mamas don’t cry.  I have proof.  I stole Mama’s phone to take some pictures (Oh! I forgot to add, “stealing Mama’s phone to take pictures” to my list of interests). Let me show you what I’m talking about…

Reasons My Mama Is Crying:

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

She’s always raving about my big sister’s fabulous artwork. I thought I’d try my hand at expressing my creativity.  She was overcome by the beauty of it.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

Mama says we are always late for everything. She gives us all plenty of time to get ready but we think it’s sort of funny to wait until she’s got her coat on and then tell her that we have to use the potty or change clothes or grab one more toy.  I’m not so sure she understands the humor.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

Mama says she loves to watch the Olympics but every time we turn it on she starts crying: especially when they show the Moms and Dads in the stands.  I don’t get it.  Maybe she’s sad that they get to watch their kids do sports and she doesn’t.  I think I’ll try bobsledding down the staircase this afternoon. That will probably make her feel better.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

Mama has a weird fondness for Mexican food. Last week she told us we were going to “Taco Tuesday” at her favorite Mexican restaurant and, when we got there, they were closed and the building was empty. I told her we could just have cookies instead but she didn’t seem interested in that idea. Mamas have weird ideas about the appropriate times for eating cookies.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

I tell you the truth, the woman is obsessed with where it is and is not OK to poop. She kept asking if I had to poop. I said no. It was the truth. I was done by the time she’d asked. I really don’t see the problem. Everybody poops. I know it’s true. I read a book all about it.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

You know those little rubber things that they put on the bottoms of metal chair legs to keep them from being dangerously sharp?  Those come off.  And then, if you put the chair right in front of the door and everything works out perfectly, Daddy will come bursting through the door just as Mama is starting to push the chair in and the metal edge will rip her toes off and she does this great hopping on one foot move.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via Lazy Hippie Mama

She told me to put the Kindle down and go play with my toys, so I did. I played with every single one of them. I even took the flash cards and dominoes out of their boxes! You think she’d be happier. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand women.

Things That Make My Mama Cry - via lazy Hippie Mama

Yup. My Mama sure does cry a lot (although, now that I really think about it, I’m not sure that all of the tears in these pictures were 100% genuine), but the very best thing about my Mama is that, even though she’s quick to cry she’s even quicker to laugh.  We don’t always understand each other but no matter what we’ll love each other forever.

Wait!

Before you go, there’s something else I wanted to mention..

Mama’s blog has a great sponsor – Dolphy Games.  I seriously LOVE these games!  They are so cool!  When I click on the little dolphin to start it up it says, “Hello, T-Rex!”  And then there are all these great animals and colorful pictures of things I really like – like beach balls and watermelons.

Dolphy Games via Lazy Hippie Mama

Some of the games are just a little tricky… they really make me think.  I have to count or remember my shapes and colors but I’m getting really good at them and when I get a right answer the pretty voice says, “Well done, T-Rex!”  I can’t help it.  That voice makes me so happy that I just have to jump up and down and clap.

My big sister has a version for older kids and she loves it, too.

Dolphy Games via Lazy Hippie MamaIf you have some kids in your house, or if you need a special present for a child you love, you should go visit Dolphy Games and pick out something awesome for them.  I bet they’ll love it as much as I do!

If you liked this post, leave a comment and let my Mama know.  Maybe she’ll let me do another one day.

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Being A Mom

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I was thinking this morning about all the things I’ve done in life.  I’ve had a great ride so far.  I’ve traveled and adventured, loved and lost, been wild and crazy and found my center again.  I feel pretty good about that. By far… more than flying to Eastern Europe or driving across the US in a rickety old car… more than working as an executive in a board room or a camp counselor in the forest… more than snorkeling over a coral reef miles from anywhere in the Caribbean Sea or riding horseback in the mountains of Colorado…  motherhood has been a grand adventure.

Do you know what it’s like?

These are the pictures I find on my computer since children came into my world.

These are the pictures I find on my computer since children came into my world.

It’s loving someone so much that sometimes, when you look at them, your eyes well up with tears just because it’s more emotion than your heart can hold and it has to overflow in some way or you’ll simply burst…  and then wondering how much trouble you’d get in if you just locked them in the dog’s crate and went outside by yourself for 10 minutes because if you have to listen to them whine about one more thing your head might explode.

It’s wanting to give every single thing you own and every bit of your very self to another person so that they can have the very best possible life… and then hiding behind your bedroom door to eat a piece of candy because it’s the last one and you just don’t want to share it.

See that person photo-bombing the head-shot I was trying to take for my Google+ profile? Yeah... he's about to throw himself down on the keyboard and erase the last 25 minutes worth of work I did on my blog.

See that person photo-bombing the head-shot I was trying to take for my Google+ profile? Yeah… he’s about to throw himself down on the keyboard and erase the last 25 minutes worth of work I did on my blog.

It’s spending an entire 24 hour period trying to convince someone that they need to eat their vegetables so that they can be healthy and strong and then snarfing a piece of toast over the kitchen sink the next morning because you don’t have time to sit down and have a proper breakfast.

Being a mom is getting really excited and cheering like a rabid sports fan at the Super Bowl when someone pees in the potty.

What's happening in the back half of the car that prompted those facial expressions?  I don't even want to know.

What’s happening in the back half of my car that prompted those facial expressions? I don’t even want to know.

Being a mom is spending 4 hours sitting in the freezing cold rain at a football game to see your kid play for 1 minute and 36 seconds and then raving about how fabulous they were.

Being a mom is crawling into bed at 8:45 pm, so tired you’re not sure you have the strength to pull your own socks off.

Motherhood can be spending 45 minutes putting people in coats and shoes, herding them out to the car, strapping them all in, unstrapping them all, and loading them into shopping carts and strollers so that you can buy a package of toilet paper and a loaf of bread.

What?!

What?!

When you’re a mom, there’s a good chance that most of your Christmas presents will be drawn in crayon or made with macaroni noodles.

It’s possible that every shirt you own will have one spit-up stained shoulder.

There’s a high likelihood that your tummy will be criss-crossed with stretch marks and your formerly perky breasts will start to sag.

Odds are good that your prettiest designer clothes will collect dust while you crawl around in blanket forts in stretchy pants and sneakers.

But…

Sometimes…

Being a mom means that this person to whom you’ve given a piece of your very inmost heart will turn to you and wrap their arms around you and say, “I love you, Mom.”

So… basically… being a mom is the greatest thing ever.

me and kids

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My Recent Encounter With Barbie

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I was at the store a few days ago and I was perusing the toy aisle… that is to say, I had bribed my children to stop begging in the food department by promising them they could look at the toys before we left if they were good.

I was looking around at all the various unholy mutations of my favorite 1980’s playthings when I noticed this Barbie mom:

barbie mom

I instantly thought, “Who looks like that when they’re giving their baby a bath?!”

I mean, really. When I give my baby a bath I’m usually drenched, shoulder to ankle, on the left side because I sit on the closed seat of the toilet while he plays.  And by playing I mean drenching my entire left side with water.

My tidy pony tail is a complete wreck before we are done because when I pour water on him to rinse his hair he freaks out and latches onto my head with both hands.  With a fistful of my hair in each hand he proceeds to attempt to blindly run through the wall of the shower stall to escape the torture.

After hair washing, he wipes his face dry… by clutching my shirt and pulling me close enough to wipe his face across my chest.

My make up gets wrecked by the…. hahaha! I’m just kidding! It’s a rare day that I get beyond tinted lip balm and a slathering of lotion in my makeup routine.

And look closely at that picture.  Barbie has another baby waiting in the kitchen!

You get down with your bad self, Barbie!  Bathing and feeding your twin babies and yourself on the same day is something to be proud of! (Well… we don’t know for a fact she fed herself. She IS terribly thin.)

There are those among us who think we should make Barbie more realistic so that little girls never feel bad about themselves.

Judge-Judy-Eye-Roll

It’s a doll.  It’s fantasy. It’s not real.

And that’s OK!

What little girl wants to play with the Slobby Spit-Upon-Shirt Mommy doll?

When I was a little girl I played with Barbies A LOT.  My dolls didn’t dress like the one pictured, above.  I’m not even sure they owned any “normal” clothes. My girls were all princesses and fairies and random “fancy ladies.”

1980s Barbie

They spent their time riding side-saddle across the open expanse of shag carpet and dancing with Ken and Batman (The selection of eligible bachelors in my house was limited).

They lived – all 4,000 of them – together in one 2 bedroom “dream house,” and, occasionally, they would bustle their hoop-skirts into their giant motorcoach and drive off to the guest bedroom where they would mountain climb and solve mysteries.  In party dresses and heels.

I was a smart enough kid to know that real life neither was, nor should be, just like Barbie’s life.

I looked to my mom, who worked very hard outside the home and my aunt, who kept the prettiest house I knew at the time, and my pastor’s wife who took food to every sick member of the congregation and my sister, who studied hard at college to see what real women looked like.

Barbie was just a toy.

It wasn’t until I was an adult… 36 years old, standing in Meijer with children of my own… that I looked at Barbie and thought, “Oh, man! Am I supposed to look like that?!”

The answer, of course is no.

I am supposed to look like me and you are supposed to look like you and… you know… I bet our daughters know that.

So why is it that it’s so hard to remember when we grow up?

As you go about the business of this day, if you catch yourself comparing, make a conscious effort to stop.  Admire other women. Respect them. Learn from them. Befriend them.  But don’t try to be them.

And, for goodness sake, don’t try to be them if they’re not even real!

Just be you…. fancy or plain, tall or short, bony or round, fair or dark, introverted or outgoing, creative or analytical, country or rock-n-roll…. the world needs the person you are.

Dr. Seuss quote

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