Thursday, October 25, 2012

Freedom to Have a Childhood

When we lived in good old Orem, UT we had a fairly large, fenced in back yard, but I was still so worried to let Gen roam around by herself. I was seeing horrible stories of child abductions and Elizabeth Smart was still fresh in my mind. I seriously remember thinking that it was a good possibility that someone from the street, if they walked to the back yard could see through the chain link fence and possibly or most certainly steal my child. So I would trudge out there and monitor the kids every move. I kept thinking about when I grew up and when my parents grew up and when their parents grew up and I wondered if it really was a different, scarier world than back then. I thought a lot about roaming my yard and neighborhood after school or in the summer. Those roamings changed me. They gave me a sense of independence and plenty of time, space and material to use my imagination. I deeply felt that this was an important part of growing up, as well as in developing a good sense of self and confidence. I wanted this for my kids and I wanted this for myself. I needed a little time to have my own independence. But everything-from TV, to friends, strangers and who knows where else, seemed to be screaming at me that it just wasn't safe. I would be a terrible mom if I wasn't helicoptering around at every moment and my children were at a great risk for being hauled off.

Six months ago I heard a piece on NPR that was done in conjunction with when the first kid was put on a milk carton. The whole piece talked about how that one abduction and the subsequent publicized kidnappings had gone on to misconstrue our sense of safety. They sited several studies and numbers that I can't remember, but the gist of the message was- Most abductions are not random and are by someone in the family or that the family knows and that children today are a lot safer than they were in the past. "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids" also brings up this point and attempts to convince parents to let their kids roam a little more and talks about the uproar and demonizing that went on when a mom let her 9 year old ride the subway and how ridiculous that was.

But I think the pressure and the guilt-inflicting are frequent and pressing. The first day we were here and unloading, a nice man across the street was conveying how safe it was here and how he constantly monitored who came in and out of our little cul-de-sac. And while this was reassuring and very neighborly, I also wondered why he needed to be so vigilant. Genevieve's bus stops two houses down the road and by law "?" she has to have a visual on me in order to drop Genevieve off. It's annoying to constantly check my watch and freak out if I think I hear the bus. I honestly don't remember my mom waiting at the bus stop. I would just run home. Russ walked home from school by at least second grade.

So despite all the pressures, internal and external, I'm committed to my kids being able to have a real childhood. When I worry about them running over to the neighbors, I'm going to stop and think logically if I really have a reason to be nervous and then check my gut, but I'm not going to guard them at every turn and not allow them some autonomy for the 1 in 1,000,000,000 chance that something bad could happen. And I'm going to try equally hard to not care when I get nasty stares from the other, more "vigilant" parents.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Many Thanks!

Many thanks to all of you who lent your wisdom and especially, one of my best friends, who called me up and helped me sort through everything and find some serenity. I don't know why parenting is so confusing, frustrating and difficult for me. Maybe it's because everything else in my life up to this point was fixable, controllable and winnable and if I just studied or worked hard enough I could master anything. Plus, I thought I'd be so good at being a mom, and while I knew it was going to be hard work, I didn't think or know how hard it would be on me.

I've been reading a couple of parenting books, not to know what to do, but to either make me feel better about how my kids will turn out, or give me permission to parent like I want to. Sometimes I think that's the best way to approach parenting books. If you can't handle rocking your child to sleep every couple of hours and waking up to put your child back to sleep multiple times during the night, then find a book that talks about letting your child cry it out and how it will be life changing for you and your child. In short, find the book the justifies your methods. Because really whether you do attachment parenting or any other method of parenting they all promise that your child will be smart, well-adjusted and happy. The book that I'm reading to help me relax about my parenting, is surprisingly called "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids". More children is the last thing I need right now, but the main concept that your child's genes play a lot more into how your kids are going to turn out, as opposed to your superior parenting, helps me relax and has got my brain a-churning. So in the next several posts I want to "talk" about some of tid-bits I've been mulling over. Here's to more relaxing and more enjoying.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Call for Help

I need help. Here is my problem, Stew is a really sweet boy (see the above pic) and he's so much fun when he's constantly and I mean constantly being entertained, but left on his own for even a couple of minutes he begins to whine, then cry, then scream. So I spend most of my day feeling like a crazy woman who can't think straight because I'm trying to empty the dishwasher while my son is screaming. After twelve hours of switching off between feeling guilty, my arms falling off from holding Stew and feeling mentally exhausted, I can't bear the thought of doing it all over again. Genevieve was the same way and so perhaps it's my magnetic personality that my babies just can't tear themselves away from or maybe it's my parenting or maybe I just have high maintenance children. I know all of you out there are better parents than I am, so can you please lend your advice. What do I do? Do I just let Stew cry a lot of times throughout the day? I wonder if I can do that because it tears me apart and I feel horrible if I just let him cry. I barely make it through sleep training. But if I knew other people let their kids cry, then maybe that would help. I really just don't know what to do, but I'm going crazy. I can't get ANYTHING done. If he's awake, I can't do anything and if he's asleep then there is no way I want to do something that will wake him up. Especially because he's been a horrid nap taker and little sleep makes him even more clingy. And as far from getting something done, I don't mean making my house sparkle from top to bottom. I'm talking about wading through the mess to take a shower, or get a few dishes done. If you read, please comment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marriage Litmus Test

In seminary and in church there were often lessons about what to look for in a future spouse and while most things were probably on lots of people's list, the options for a complete list were endless. I doubt that there was anyone who just had one test on their list, but Genevieve does.

On driving home from dinner at a friend's house, Genevieve confidently announced that she was going to marry the eight year old son. Matching her complete seriousness I asked her how she had decided that he was the one she wanted to marry. She quickly came back with "He's really good a Lego's mom." Then she added that it was between this boy and another boy back in Utah because he was also quite good at Legos. Stifling the smile in my voice I followed up with "and why would that be important?" "Because moma, I think that when I'm an adult, I'll still like playing Legos and he'll be good at building stuff for me." A good parent maybe would have used this as a good teaching moment as to what's really important in a future spouse, but I was enjoying this moment too much and I didn't wanted it to remain untouched. Besides Legos are important to her right now and it does take some serious skills (ones I still don't have) and time commitment to create masterpieces and hopefully when she gets older, something like family will replace the Legos.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tick Lesson

I knew a tick looked like this:

I didn't know it looked like this:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Colors

 Fall is doing it's best to refute my last post and woo me to Connecticut. It just might work. It's gorgeous! And all of these vistas are along our daily drives and not five minutes from our house. But fall also signals winter and I haven't forgotten what a real winter with sick kiddos is like. And there is that nasty tank that's going to be hungry really quick. Don't leaf me! Wahhaaaa! I'm hilarious.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Jury is Still Out

Google says it's been two months since I posted. I guess that speaks to how insane my life has felt and currently feels. Besides not really having a moment to breathe much less type, I've been hesitant to share my true feelings. Because, after all, Russ has a new job, I live sixty miles from NYC and all the other many things I should definitely be happy about. Plus it's not "the thing" to do anything except portray how absolutely perfect your life is. But I just can't do that, because I want to be authentic and I'm helped so much when others are real..

North Carolina was amazing, is amazing and I miss Durham. I was lonely and adjusting when I first got there, but I fell in love with the place right away. Here, I'm working on trying to figure out why they do a lot of what they do. We are renting. We have a pool, but we don't have A/C. Instead we have two crazy, ghetto, white trash window air conditioning units. Our house was hotter than, well you know where, and that right there is enough to make me crazy. Who decides to put in a pool, but doesn't get A/C in a place that hits 90 and 80-90% humidity day after day? Seriously messed up. And our house is just one of the many that have this "charming" paradox. I was amazed how many houses had a pool and had no A/C. I think I had almost convinced myself that it was cool here in the summer, but that was short lived once we arrived and I was sweating to death and sleeping in my skivvies every night.

Next, this place is still living in old time America. Have you heard of heating with oil? Yeah I hadn't either, but that's basically how they do it out here. We have this industrial revolution, mammoth metal tank that waifs a hint of lamp oil smell and costs a whopping $1000 to fill up. By all accounts we'll likely be filling this bad boy up three or more times this winter. We also have well water, which tastes so yummy, but well water? What? If the power goes out, which happens frequently (again back to the dark ages reference), we have no water.

I hate mosquitoes, but the land harbors those and one worse--ticks. Poor Luna has already fallen victim to three feedings and we are hoping that she doesn't get Lyme disease or worse. I'm really scared about the kiddos or Russ and I getting them too. I've been to that exhausted, sick place for years and I really don't need to go back there with Lyme's disease.

Everything is expensive here: preschool, housing (try three times that of what we're used to), gas, groceries, taxes, babysitters, restaurants---everything.

I don't think I'm a small town girl. All my necessities are too far away. I need somewhere to get bread no more than five minutes away. It can't take me forty-five minutes to get back with a gallon of milk. I like lots of parks and one close that I can walk to. Our town has one park. I need streets with sidewalks and walking trails. Most roads don't even have a shoulder--I swear I'm going to die. There are towns or cities that are closer to the necessities, but then you have to give up living in the "nice" part of the county to live in. Welcome to the ghetto.

I must say though that our ward is AMAZING! People have been so incredibly welcoming, helpful and kind. They have made everything SO much better. Also, this is a great place to be living to visit all kinds of cool places that are close by. NYC is only sixty minutes south. Flights are cheap from here to Europe. There is so much to do and see in this part of the country. So I guess what I'm saying is it's an awesome place to visit, so take advantage of us living out here and come and visit! Your bed awaits and you are welcome anytime!

P.S. I'm still giving myself time to fall in love, let's hope it doesn't take too much longer.