Rules for Fathers of Sons

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So, many of you have already read my 25 Rules for Mothers of Daughters. If you haven’t, you totally should.

For this post, I thought it would be great to make some rules for all the daddy's out there.  I am almost certain that I don’t have a single male reader…so,  please pass it along to the men in your lives, ladies! Oh, and I assume that most of you who are reading this are the Momma's...so I put some rules in there to help our cause...you can thank me later :-)

1. Love his Mother. He will learn to love like you love, and hate like you hate. So choose love for both of you. Devote yourself to it. Love with your whole heart and express that love each and every day. Then, someday down the road, you will see the way he loves his own wife, and know that you played a part in that.

2. Let him drive. Every child remembers the first time they drove on daddy's lap. For that one moment, he will believe that he is just. like. you

3. Teach him to be picky. Especially when it comes to women and burgers. Teach him to never settle.

4. Take him to a ball game. There is something about sharing a day of hot dogs, sunshine and baseball with your father.

5. Love with Bravery. Boys have this preconceived notion that they have to be tough. When he is young, he will express his love fully and innocently. As he grows, he will hide his feelings and wipe off kisses. Teach him to be a man who rubs them in instead. It takes courage for a man to show love: teach him to be courageous.

 6. Talk about sex. Sometimes, boys need to know that all men are created equal.

7. Teach him to be a man’s man. Show him how to be brave and tough. Then, remind him over and over again that it's still okay to cry.

8. Share secrets together. Communicate. Talk. Talk about anything. Let him tell you about girls, friends, school. Listen. Ask questions. Share dreams, hopes, concerns. He is not only your son, you are not only his father. Be his friend too.

 9. Teach him manners. Because sometimes you have to be his father, not just his friend. The world is a happier place when made up of polite words and smiles.

10. Teach him when to stand-up and when to walk away. He should know that he doesn’t have to throw punches to prove he is right. He may not always be right. Make sure he knows how to demand respect- he is worthy of it. This does not mean he has to fight back with fists or words, because sometimes you can say more with silence.

11. Teach him to choose his battles. Make sure he knows which battles are worth fighting — like for family or his favorite baseball team. Remind him that people can be mean and nasty because of jealousy, or other personal reasons. Help him to understand when to shut his mouth and walk-away. Teach him to be the bigger- the better- person.

12. Let him dance in tighty whiteys. Dance alongside him in yours. Teach him that there are moments when it is okay to be absolutely ridiculous.

13. Share music. Introduce him to the classics and learn the words to the not-so-classics. Create a rock band with wooden instruments, share your earphones, and blast Pink Floyd in the car. Create a soundtrack to your lives together.

14. Let him win. Sometimes he needs to know that big things are possible.

15. Teach him about family. Let him know family is always worth fighting for. Family is always worth standing up for. At the end of the day, he has you to fall back on, and pray to God that you will have him.

 16. Father him. Being a father—to him—is undoubtedly one of your greatest accomplishments. Share with him the joys of fatherhood, so one day he will want to be a father too. Remind him over and over again with words and kisses that no one will ever love him like you love him.

17. Listen to him now. If you don’t listen to the little things now, he won’t share the big things later.

18. Let him try on your shoes. Even if they are old and smelly. Let him slip his little feet in and watch him as he hopes like hell that someday he can fill them. He will fill them.


19. Give him bear hugs. The kind that squeezes his insides and make him giggle. The kind of hug only a daddy can give.

 20. Give him baths. Because Mom can’t do everything damnit.

21. Teach him how to pee standing up. Let him pee outside- such is the joy of being a man. Mom cannot teach this talent, so someone has to.

22. Know the answers. He will assume you do. If you don’t know them, pretend you do and look them up later.

 23. Toss him around. Because little boys love seeing the strength of their father. Throw him up in the air, so that he knows you will always be there to catch him on his way down.

 24. Ask his mother. He will come to you with questions that he won’t always want to ask his mother, about girls and about love. Ask her anyway, she will know the answers.

25. Love him like you would love a daughter. Little girls are not the only ones who need hugs and kisses. Love is the color yellow of emotions. It is both happy and gender neutral.

26. Grow a big belly. Because every child should get the chance to rest there head on the absolute softest pillow ever. Daddy’s belly is the best place to land. 

27. Don't say, do. American inventor, Charles F. Kettering once said, "every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice." Be a good one.

28. Be his hero. You are anyway. To him, you have the strength of Batman, the speed of Spiderman and the brain of Ironman. Don't disappointment. Prove to him that Daddy's are the biggest heroes of all. Only Daddy's can save the day. 

After all, good fathers make good sons.

How to Raise an Over-Achiever

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My son is an over-achiever. It was not something that I planned for, but rather a coincidental accomplishment. One that I am both proud of and willing to take complete credit for, if necessary. When reflecting upon the parenting style of myself, and those who have raised over-achievers, it appears that there are some consistencies in expectations and discipline. Consistencies being the operative word. Oh, and it helps if they are the first born. Here are five:

1. Use Positive Reinforcement. Many over-achieving children are smart and determined. However, they also tend to be sensitive, which means that want to excel in order to impress. They do not want to feel as if they have let you –or their teachers and coaches— down. This characteristic can work to your advantage as the parent, to help foster their achievements. By praising their efforts and showing your pride, you drive their passion to achieve.

2. Be Consistent. Children benefit from consistency and schedules. They excel when they know what to expect, and they happily keep their groove when they know the tune of the day. They should follow a routine that starts with waking up at the same time, everyday. From there, the day should follow a similar schedule as the day before. This will ensure they know what to do, and when to do it, which ultimately keeps them task oriented.

3. Reinforce Commitment. Demand that your children start what they finish. If they sign up for baseball and decide they do not like it halfway through the season, be sure that they finish it off with a smile. If they decide to paint a picture of the moon, and want to quit because they could not get the curve right, encourage them to try again. Explain to them that everything they decide to do is a commitment and should be treated the same as a promise; and we all know that promises should never be broken.
 

4. Explain the Many Faces of Success. Explain to your child that success does not look the same for everyone. For some, writing a sentence without spelling errors is an accomplishment. For others, adding a detailed  picture with beautiful colors to accompany a sentence is an achievement. Remind your child to never compare themselves to others, but instead focus on doing their best, always. If they focus on their own capabilities, they will be in constant motion of improvement.

5. Find Positive Influences. Children should be surrounded by great influences, friends who have unique passions and talents, teachers who inspire them, and adults who foster their love of success. They should read the stories of great writers, listen to the songs of great musicians, and see the paintings of fantastic artists. They need to be surrounded by the potential to learn, and grow, and achieve. It starts with inspiration and ends with success.

I'm a Better Mom When I'm Drunk, Foster Care & Morals.

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I fully realize that the title of this post could potentially cause an uproar. I also fully realize that my blog tends to be a plethora of mooshy-gooshy babble on how much I love being a mother. And, I mean every.single.word.of.it.

But guess what?

If you knew me in real life, you would probably laugh your ass off when reading about all my emotions. 'Cause in real life, I don't share that kind of shit (with anyone other than my children). In fact, my very best friend in the whole wide world told me to keep my mouth shut when shopping for our best friend's wedding dress the other day. Apparently, I am too blunt and occasionally mean. Wah. Wah. The truth comes out....

So, in a weird way, I am embarrassed when people (who know me personally) read my blog. My blog holds my secrets and my truths....my insides. On the outside, I am different. I can be hard. I can be closed off. And I curse....a lot.

On here, I let my emotions seep through my veins and onto the page. I feel naked, exposed, and raw. I let it all hang out.

Now on to the real story.

I was sitting at a table in a Chinese restaurant in the downtown of my hometown with 5 of my best friends from High School. We were the loud, obnoxious ladies drinking Scorpian bowls with far reaching straws and asking the waiters to take our pictures. 

We were those women who you absolutely hate unless you are one of them. We laugh too hard, we quote too many movies, we harvest too many inside jokes, we finish too many sentences and we fully admit to being a stone cold pack of weirdos. We wear that title with pride, damnit. And with little puddles of pee in our panties from laughing too hard (oh wait, that may be just me after four children.) Scratch that.

Anyway, I was talking to my friend Ceire about how Matt (my husband) would come pick us up in the minivan with all of my children if we drank too much. Now, before you judge me for being irresponsible, please note that I would have only resorted to this as a last case scenario. In the end, I stopped drinking, sobered up and drove home with a clear head and conscious. 

As my friends and I were laughing about what a scene it would be to have Mommy and her best friend stumble into the family minivan, I jokingly stated that Jackson would probably be psyched about the fact that we would undoubtedly be pretty fun to hang out with. You know, we would blast music, sing too loud and throw our inhibitions out the window along with our pride. A kid's dream.

I went on to tell my friends that I am a better Mom when I'm drunk. Of course, this was an exaggerated and buzzed version of the truth. However, one time, after 2 or 3 glasses of wine, Jackson and I went upstairs to my room and did ninja moves off my bed. You know, we were jumping as high as we could and rocketing ourselves off with ninja kicks and “hi-yahhs” He told me I was the Best. Mom. Everrrrr. I typically do not participate in ninja kicks off my bed without wine, but rather, I try to encourage safer and less obtrusive activities. 

So, while we were laughing about how gosh darn funny it is that I am a better Mom when I'm drunk, we had a women stumble up to our table. She was completely shit-faced. She was slurring her words and rambling on about how nice it was to see a group of girls together. She thought we were in High School. We assured her that while we were all High School friends, we were all far and above the legal drinking age...hence the Scorpian bowls. 

Someone mentioned that I was a mother, which ultimately sparked the moral of this story.

She was a foster parent turned adoptive mother of a 9 year old. How sweet, I thought, until she started to go on and on about how horrible the past year of her life has been and how difficult her daughter was to deal with. She very bluntly said, “she's a huge pain in my ass.”

Just then, my tunnel vision zeroed in on a beautiful little girl who was sitting at the bar alone. Her big green eyes looked too wise for her age, and her chestnut hair looked too snarly to be clean. She sat slouched and resting on one hand, staring over at us with her ears perked and listening. It became absurdly clear that the drunk women speaking to us was her mother, and that she was the "pain in the ass." She looked like an angel to me. She looked like someone who was lost and straining to find comfort. She looked like she needed someone to tell her that she was not a pain in the ass at all. 

I cannot believe that I had the audacity to say that I was a better Mom when I was drunk. I cannot believe that I spoke those words when there was a child sitting at a bar, wishing that her mother would stop drinking, and that she could spend her Saturday night at home on the couch, watching movies and eating pizza like any normal 9 year old. I cannot believe that I could not stand up, drag her out and watch that movie with her, sharing blankets and laughter. Instead, I put my drink down, stood up, and as a walked past her with my heart crumbling to pieces on the floor, all I could scrummage up to say was a very simple “goodbye beautiful” and a smile that I can only hope proved to her that someone in the world felt for her. That someone in the world acknowledges that she deserves more than that. She does.

(And for what it's worth, the mooshy-gooshy of it all, the feelings and emotions that this little child pours out of me just thinking about her are worth spewing onto this page, despite how naked it makes me feel. That little girl deserves someone to advocate for her. She deserves someone to feel for her. And who am I to hold that in because I am too afraid to say how I feel?) 



To see more beautiful faces of children currently in need of loving homes in the United State, please visit adoptuskids.org. 

10 Ways to be a Better Mom Everyday

I am constantly comparing myself to other mothers. I spend too much time at my computer writing and editing pictures. I pin more educational activities than I actually do with my children. I spend more time thinking about being a better mom, than I do trying to be one.

But the truth is that I want to be a better Mom. My children deserve the very best.

It starts with me...not my children. Sure, I can teach my boys to be respectful and help my daughters grow into confident women, but at the end of the day, if I do not keep myself happy, I am no good to them. They need me. 

Did you hear me? Our babies need us. We need to keep our flow...our juju. We need to stay healthy, focused and well balanced. We need to remember that we matter and that we are separate entities from our beautiful children. Here are my 10 reminders on how to be the best version of Momma I can be for my kiddos. 
 

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1. Rise and shine. Wake up before the children, have lunches packed, breakfasts ready and clothes picked out for the day. Be showered, refreshed and geared with your morning cup of coffee. Or two. 

 2. Energize. Coffee...absolutely. But be certain to energize with good foods to: an apple, a banana or some yogurt -- pick your pleasure. Take vitamins, drink water and remember that you matter. If you want to be around for your children's lives, you need to take care of yourself. Set a good example. And for goodness sake, take a minute to hear only the sound of your chews. It is pure joy.

3. Stay on time. Try to never run late. Running late equals a mean mommy. It means a disturbance of peace and chaotic children. Keep to the schedule, watch the clock, and stay focused. You can do this.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff. Messy faces and spilt milk won't matter 10 years from now. We have wipes, towels and the rest of our lives. Look around and find what really matters right now. 

 5. Stay active. Get up off your bum. Dance in the living room. Play tag in the kitchen. Go exploring outside. Act. Do. Be a participant in your children's lives. I guarantee you will have more fun twirling with your daughter than sitting on the couch. Plus, it keeps your heart young.

6. Unplug for dinner. No phones, no iPads, no disturbances whatsoever. Sit, talk, discuss, debate, question; and more importantly, listen. Listen to everything. The big. The small. The good. The bad. Keep your eyes up and your heart open. 

7. Run on a schedule. Always be prepared for what is coming next. Know the drill. Hold your children to it. Life runs smoother when you know what to expect. 

8. Go with the flow. I know, I know, I just said stick to a schedule. But sometimes, life gets in the way. If your child suddenly becomes interested in an insect crawling outside, get out the magnify glasses and join them. Take life as it comes. Enjoy it. Life is too short to always follow these rules. 

9. Learn from yesterday. Hopefully there were ups, but certainly there were downs. Learn from them and move on. Just keep swimming.

10. Be ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow is coming whether you are ready for it or not. Be ready for it. Be excited for it.  

You don't have to like your children. Right?

I wrote this post about 3 years ago. Now, as I re-read my words and realize that I didn't know Luke had autism at the time (he was diagnosed one year after this), I'm a little sad by my words and impatience. But if nothing else, this proves that motherhood is a journey, not a destination and you never know where the next path will lead. For the record, now he's my favorite child. Don't tell the others. 

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So my husband and I were having quite a laugh last night. As Luke, our beast of a 2 year old was throwing himself off our bed, head first and screeching at the top of his lungs at 10:30 pm, we started to vent. "He sucks," I said. "Seriously, where did we go wrong?" My husband agreed and we laughed a little at the thought of hating the child who we both loved so much. I am pretty sure one of us even openly debated whether or not it would be THAT bad if he fell so hard he knocked himself out for just a bit-- after all, we could both use a break. My husband had worked all day and I had spent the day wrestling Luke at Target to stay in the cart, keeping him from suffocating the baby with his body, and continuously telling him to leave the dog poop in the backyard alone. What can I say, the kid has an obsession with the dog's poop.

I was done.

The kid pushes the limit and then goes a thousand leaps further --head first taking out anybody who gets in his way while thunking through life in his red boots. Those damn red boots that he never takes off. Even at 10:30 at night in MY bed.

You can bet your ass that when I get kicked in the face with red boots as I am just starting to doze off to sleep, the words, "I loathe this child," slips out between my gritting teeth as I try to hold my frustrations. 

So here is the issue: why is it not okay to say out loud that you think your child is a pain in the ass? Why is it only appropriate to speak their praises? Our children are human beings with strengths and weaknesses and as a parent, we shouldn't have to always like our child. We sure as hell better love em' regardless, but shouldn't it be okay to hate them just a little too?

I was reading this article on how American Parenting is Killing American Marriage and I could not help but relate to a lot of it. Why has our culture become so strict on parenting? Why do all of us moms have our claws out trying to prove who is the strongest Mama bear? When did parenting become THE ONLY topic of conversation? When did we stop considering our own needs and only focus on our children's? When did everyone's life become this perfect little Pinterest board on the outside?

Now, before you start hatin' on me, let me just say that I too have been told by my own husband that I need to stop revolving my life around our children-- that I am more than just their mother. I am just throwing that out there so that you all know I am not a horrible person.

Anyway, the article that I referred to above discusses how parenting has become this obsessive almost-cult like religion in which our culture clings to. In this parenting religion we are completely unable to speak of our children poorly, to say that we don't enjoy being a mother, or even just to yell at our children in public. It has become unacceptable to show any weakness or to let our guards down. Maybe it has something to do with social media and the fact that we all post these snip-its of our lives that are happy. Ya know? No one ever shares a picture of their toddler throwing sand in their face or a video of them saying the "F" bomb like a parrot right after you said it….that one time.

And we see these Pinterest boards and blogs that make life look so colorful and organized and we start comparing ourselves to others. Then our competitiveness breaks in and we all strive to be. the. best. mom. and that means that we must all keep our shoulders up, eyes forward and pretend that we are marching through motherhood like it ain't no thang.

I wish we would all just stop for a second and get real. Let's start sharing pictures of our children throwing tantrums on the floor. Let's start pinning blog posts like this that tell it like it is. Let's instagraming the reality of having children--- you know, the piles of laundry in the corners, bath toys spewed all over the bathroom floor, and goldfish between the couch cushions. I want to see the chaos. Show me the chaos.

Let's stop sugar coating motherhood for just a moment and allow each other to vent through it without judgment. I want to be able to tell you that today sucked without you thinking I am a whackadoo or a bad mother.

Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I heard another mother yell at her children in public; even when her children are throwing sand buckets at her head and throwing tantrums in the middle of a quaint little family beach.

I know I don't yell in public. Nope, I shoe my children to the car, playfully telling them to get in and to "stop misbehaving" in my calmest voice. I keep my shoulders up, eyes forward and march through the sand like I have my shit together. When really, I just want to slump down and drag my children out of there like dirty towels. Maybe I threaten no desert or early bedtime, but I do not for one second raise my voice.

But you know what? The second I am alone in my car, I roll those windows up, blast my AC to mute the sound, and I let my beast out. Oh come on, you know you have a Mama-beast inside you too. I typically yell something like "THAT WAS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE" or if I am feeling completely defeated and sunburned, I will yell, "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST PULLED THAT SHIT IN PUBLIC." Yupp, I curse. Sew me.

Don't my children know that we aren't suppose to let our shit hang out like that in public? We wait until we are alone to go bat-shit cray cray. 

 

So here's the thing:

When you have children, you are playing the lottery, man. You can't guarantee that you are going to get a kid with a kick ass personality. You can't guarantee that your newborn will be the one sleeping through the night or that your toddler won't be a picky eater. And you can't guarantee that your child won't become the child who you always swore you would never have-- you know the one who throws his body onto the ground in the middle of the grocery store because you won't let him open up a box of Cheese Its.

Yeah, that's my kid.

My kid is a piece of work. We call him the devil. He IS the devil. I've spoken those words to my friends  before, telling them how difficult he is to deal with and they always look at me sideways with their mouths open. It's almost as like the entire universe expects us to only speak words of praise about our children. But, I am just being honest. Shouldn't we all just be honest?

Being a mother is tough. Throw in a kid with a strong-will and a destructive nature and it becomes even tougher.

My Luke is the cutest, most lovable, little devil in all of the world but he is a devil, regardless. And I don't think I am a bad person for telling you that life with Luke is not all rainbows and butterflies.

He cuddles and kisses for 5% of the time and terrorizes the house 95% of the time...but that 5% man, it makes it all worth it.

So is it a crime to tell you that 95% of the time I don't really like my kid? Gah, maybe it is. Maybe I am the worst mom in the world to speak the words that so many of us zip up and tuck in our closest.  But ya know what else? I can also tell you that I love him 100% of the time too. Hear me? 100% of the time. 

 

I could tell you a million things I love about my little Lukie. I love the way his little nostrils flare when he laughs and the way his voice sounds oddly deep when he is attacking us with his play sword (haha). And I love the way he thunks so heavily when he walks and how he drags out the "muah" sound as he goes in for a kiss. And the way he says "chah mok" instead of chocolate milk.

And oddly enough, just as I am wrapping up this post, here he comes waddling over to me with his arms open. "Hug" he says, which is his way of saying "pick me up." So, I do and he nuzzles his nose into my neck. And just like that, I want to take back every bad thing I ever said about him because he truly is an angel.