Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Motherhood

A very big thanks to my friend Melissa for the idea for today's blog post.

I had the pleasure of having a great lunch with her today, and meeting her four-month-old baby girl for the first time (she's a beauty!).

Anyway, as a first-time mom, she, like all of us, has quickly learned what her daughter's various cries mean, as only a mother can. After all, she's the mom, right? Who would know better?

Apparently many other "seasoned" moms.

Melissa told me how incredulous she has been at the unbelievably ridiculous and presumptuous comments people have made to her when she has been out with her little girl.

Image courtesy of www.babywallpapers.net
Her daughter's cries have been the catalyst for comments such as "she's hungry, you should feed her," and "when was the last time you fed her?" as well as other beauties. The subtext is that my friend is not taking immediate care of the needs of her own child.

Where is the line drawn when it comes to providing advice? When did a stranger's baby become part of the public domain, and the catalyst for derision? Not to sound like a "Debbie Downer" but there are plenty of folks out there who seem to just want to rain on other mothers' collective parades. Now whether this desire is a result of schadenfreude, a feeling of superiority or otherwise, the result is the same: hurt feelings and often added insecurity on the part of the mother. For a new mother, it's particularly jarring.

It's been many years since I had my first child, but I remember the time like it was yesterday. Entering the world of parenthood is daunting at best, and every move that you make as a new mother is one that you question yourself about, as you've had no frame of reference about your decisions. Are you doing it right? Why is he or she crying? What have I done wrong? These are all questions that we ask ourselves and we figure it out along the way. The last thing a mother, particularly a new mother needs are comments that shake her already tenuous confidence. Questioning her abilities about her child only makes things worse, not better.

We've been having children for millennia and the human race has fared just fine. Like our moms told us, ironically, mom really does know best, especially when it comes to their babies. And so for these lovely people who are trying to "help" via inferences that the already stressed mom is not doing things well enough, kindly back off. The kids are alright.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Moms: What are the most incredulous comments that you've received from strangers about your babies?



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Follies of Youth

What is it about kids that makes them so fearless?

Copyright Multiple Mayhem Mamma 2011
This is my daughter, Miranda. Upside down, no less. She was demonstrating her latest achievement: doing back-flips on the bars in the schoolyard. Whether she will attempt this same feat so fearlessly in her adulthood remains to be seen, but I'd say that answer is likely "no."

Kids, for the most part, have little fear. Okay, let me rephrase that: Kids, for the most part have little fear of things that many adults would find frightening, at best. Yes, I understand that they will bemoan "things that go bump in the night," but ironically flip head first upside down from monkey bars, swings, and other items that can be found at your local park. And let's not get into what they will attempt the amusement park. Somehow spinning in circles while being perched at a 45 degree angle is fun to a large contingent of the younger set. This propensity for all things thrill-inducing and stomach-turning is apparently the domain of the youthful. Somehow, somewhere along the way to adulthood, it abruptly stops.

Why is this?

I recall as a child and even into my teens, the love of the "scariest" rides at the amusement park. I would wait in line with baited breath for the opportunity to be flung skyward, with only the veneer of safety offered by the thinning latch on the "lock" that was secured by the traveling "Carny" working the ride. I guess that was part of the thrill. Injury - or worse - was not even part of the thought process as I was "secured" into my seat.
Image courtesy of www.sodahead.com

Yet here I am, many years later, and the thought of crossing the threshold to what I now believe must surely be a certain death - or dismemberment - makes me break out into a cold sweat. You couldn't pay me to get on one of these rides and I don't believe I'm alone in my hesitation.

It's an interesting phenomenon, this shift in attitude and general skittishness that seems to be part and parcel with adulthood. Interesting and sad. Because part of me envies the carefree, "devil-may-care" nonchalance of childhood (and adolescence). Perhaps it's a function of parenthood that makes our mortality ever more evident to us; the fact that we are more midful of our own safety because of our primal fear of something happening to us - that would leave our child or children without a parent. To this end, we project our fear of injury or worse onto our kids and accordingly put a damper on their good times - often.

Life goes on, we all grow up and we lose our ability to throw caution to the proverbial wind and simply "go for it." Instead we become a frightened and fretting bunch, standing at the foot of the carnival ride, our hearts in our throats with fear for our precious "babies." And if we look a little bit deeper into our psyche, I would venture to guess that there's a bit of envy bound up inside all of us as well. Envy that life has become a lot more serious as time has passed. Growing up is, evidently, a trade-off. You earn your adult "stripes," and in the process, lose a little bit of that je ne sais quoi that made the world your oyster so many years ago.

Sad, isn't it?

Were you more fearless as a child? Has your sense of fear changed since you became an adult, or more so when you became a parent? 

Burton Cummings - Great Canadian Talent - "I'm Scared"






Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Top 10 Tips for Parenting Well...or Well Enough

Oprah has a feature in her magazine entitled "what I know for sure." She also mentions this phrase often, during interviews and previously on her talk show. Oprah is not a parent, so I doubt that she referenced what she knew for sure as it related to kids. Nonetheless, I like the idea of trying to figure out "What I Know For Sure" as it relates to the important things in my life - like my kids.


Image courtesy of Harpo Inc.
So here we go. This is what I know for sure: 


The Top 10 Tips For Parenting Well...or Well Enough

1) It won't kill your kids if they don't eat vegetables every day.
2) It's perfectly fine (actually normal, in my opinion) to negotiate with or bribe your kids, if it will make the situation smoother.
3) Pizza, chicken fingers and PB&J encompass all of the food groups you need.
4) Contrary to popular belief, most babies, toddlers and other small children will not get sick because they ate food that fell on the floor.
5) TV is a cheap and easy babysitter. There, I said it.
6) Order in dinner whenever you can. You deserve it and you probably don't feel like cooking every day.
7) Don't get too sucked into comparisons of yourself and your parenting abilities with other moms or dads. It is highly likely that they're outright lying about their perfect lives and kids, or at best, exaggerating the truth.
8) Flossing is gross...and difficult - especially for children between the ages of 0 and 5. It's okay to skip it sometimes (and if you are a dentist or dental hygienist, I apologize, but please don't email me to complain about this point).
9) Accept help whenever it presents itself. If a trusted friend or family member offers to babysit, cook or help you clean, allow them to do it.
10) "Good enough" is good enough. You don't need to be perfect


I know at this point that I likely sound like the "Slacker Parent of the Year," and in some ways, that may be true. True if that title means that I don't even bother to try to live up to unrealistic standards of parenting that many of us moms hold ourselves up to. I did at one time, and realized that I was failing miserably - the perfect mom, I'm not. That said, my kids are clean, well fed and loved, and isn't that what it's all about?


What do you know for sure about parenting well...or well enough? Please share!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lie to Me: Do You Do It?

Yea, I do it. So what of it??

Apparently you're not supposed to lie to your children, according to experts cited in this article. Apparently we are shielding our kids from the harsh realities of the real world when we tell them a little fib, like saying that they did great at the recent school concert, or the proverbial "good try" that we all shout at our kids' soccer/hockey/baseball/football games. We're damaging the poor souls by perpetuating these types of fibs. 

Are these "experts" for real?

I can't imagine providing the sobering truth to my kids right from the outset, not offering them support or a loving nudge in the right direction. Because isn't that what I'm supposed to do as a parent? Help them find their way, give them some encouragement (albeit based on a half-truth in some instances) and generally provide them loving support. We're apparently supposed to open up the doors to the harsh realities of the real world as early as possible and where we might have said "you did a really good job on this drawing, Johnny," we're now obliged to say something like "Your picture is ugly and you'll never make it as an artist." Okay, perhaps not so harshly, but you get the point.

Image courtesy of http://insidepulse.com
Most of us lie to our kids all the time, in one way or another. Just last night, I made a huge deal about my son Erik making a poo in the toilet. "Great work, Erik!!," I screamed. I even called in the rest of the family to observe and to make Erik realize that using the "big toilet" was a big deal. Okay, using your bowels on a toilet is not "great work" but it helped facilitate the toilet training and the light at the end of the tunnel: no more Pull-Ups and better yet, no more "accidents." So there is definitely a practical purpose to some of the lies that we tell, that's for sure. What about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy? By these experts' rationales, we should eliminate these folks as well, no? They say not to lie to our kids and lets face it, these lies are pretty big, as we perpetuate them for years. Do they damage our kids? Some would say "yes," but many others would say "no," as they provide a sense of fantasy and anticipation. We find out the truth at some point and I'd venture to guess that most of us are not scarred as a result. 

In case it's not completely clear in this post, I'm advocate of telling my kids "little white lies" for the sake of support, adventure and, sometimes, my sanity. Call me a bad parent, so be it.

What do you think? Do you lie to your kids? Why or why not? Should we stop lying to our kids? Can't wait to hear your feedback.





Friday, September 16, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus are Flat: The Top 10 Most Annoying Children's Songs

You know the score, moms and dads. We've all been there, some of us more than others. 

You repeat the chant incessantly, and find yourself humming the song in the shower when your kids are no longer in your presence.

I'm talking about children's songs.

What is it about some of these "musical treats" that makes us want to pull our hair out? For as much as there's comfort in the familiarity of many of the tunes and lyrics, so is there contempt and, in some cases, downright insanity.

Insanity from the fact that we are often forced against our wills to repeat the mantra over and over and over again, often in the wee hours of the early morning or late at night. We go to sleep and find ourselves humming tunes related to black sheep, only to drift into sleep-land to dream about itsy-bitsy spiders. It's crazy.

Parenting young children, in particular, opens you up to a whole new world. A world of love and ladybugs that need to find their way home. A world of kisses and Kookaburras. Sometimes its wonderful, other times, well...not so much. In the latter instance, I refer to exhibit "A:"

The Top 10 Most Annoying Children's Songs

1) Baa Baa Black Sheep - I knew even as a child that there was a troubling undercurrent to this song and alas, it's true. Something to do with slavery, subservience, domination and submission and colorism. Not for me, thanks. It was the "yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full" that pushed me over the edge. Call me sensitive.

2) The Itsy Bitsy Spider - The protagonist spider is either a) an eternal optimist, or b) incredibly stupid. "Down came the rain and washed the spider out" should of been his first clue. And yet the sun came out yet again and the itsy-bitsy spider, with no heed to his previous experience, went up the spout again. How are we supposed to teach our kids about the consequences of our actions when we learn from songs like this that you can literally be "washed away" and you go back for more. I don't know, I think it's a bad lesson to teach our kids. Just sayin'

3) The Wheels on the Bus - Not only do the wheels on the bus go "'round and 'round," but the people on the bus go "up and down." The babies on the bus go "Waa, waa, waa." I don't know about you, but the combination of these three makes me feel nauseous. I feel a migrane coming on every time I utter the words to this song. This bus ride sounds like a nightmare and vomit-inducing. And I haven't even addressed the wipers on the bus going "swish, swish, swish," and the doors on the bus going "open and shut." Please pass me the bucket.


Image courtesy of http://singalongwithme.com
4) Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed - One by one, these simians become concussed, and yet this "doctor" has only one remedy: "no more monkeys jumping on the bed." Can we say "lawsuit?" I hope this doctor has malpractice insurance.


5) Five Little Ducks - The ducks are being killed or abducted, one by one, and the mother duck is still just saying "quack, quack, quack" instead of calling the police. There is a serial duck killer on the loose and it doesn't phase the mother duck at all. She clearly is not concerned that her babies are being systematically knocked off, one at a time. She just keeps quacking. I've surmised that the mother duck is an unfit duck and a sociopath.

6) Clementine - It was only in the past few years that it dawned on me how absolutely dire and dreary this song was, especially since we tend to sing it to small children. It's about drowning, folks! Yes - it's basically about someone who watches their beloved "Clementine" drown...because, (in their own words) "...but alas I was no swimmer so I lost my Clementine." Sick. Oh, and morbid, too. We're now singing about drowning? Check out the full lyrics here. No, I don't sing this to my kids.

7) Rock-a-bye Baby - Who on earth puts their precious baby in a cradle on a treetop?? I know first-hand how desperate one can get when your child won't sleep, but c'mon!! The bough breaking, the cradle falling and the baby falling to it's inevitable demise is just too much for me to bear. Pass on this tune.

8) Jack and Jill - As you can see by now, there is an ongoing theme about kids sustaining major injuries in many of the popular children's songs. Children's song writers are evidently a sick and sadistic bunch. "Jack fell down and broke his crown" is bad enough, but "Jill came tumbling after" sounds like a parent's worse nightmare. And on that note, where are Jack and Jill's parents in this scenario??


Image courtesy of http://threeblindmiceproduction.com
9) Three Blind Mice - "A Rodent Slasher Story" - that's how I see this so-called "harmless" tale (or should I say "tail?"). How twisted that sightless rodents are having their appendages hacked off by a carving knife. For what purpose? Sick, sick, sick.


10) Peas Porridge Hot - Can we say "food poisoning?" Who leaves food on the stove for NINE DAYS then feeds it to their kids? Again - unfit parents. I don't care if that "Peas Porridge" is grandma's most coveted recipe that was handed down through numerous generations. NINE DAYS IS JUST TOO LONG. End of story. See unfit parent for more details.

As you can see, many of the songs we sing are just plain messed up. At least that's my opinion (with my tongue firmly planted in cheek).

What children's songs would be on your Top 10 Most Annoying list? Can't wait to hear about them.

****Stay tuned for a future post on the Top 7 Most Amazing Children's Songs: coming soon to a blog near you ;)****

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Things We Do For Love: Parenting Style

Besides blogging, I actually have a real job. Hard to believe, but true. 

Venturing into the consulting realm, I needed a logo. Having a spouse who knew his way around graphics, it seemed to be a no-brainer.

So I asked him to make me a logo. I had some ideas and passed them along in terms of what I wanted it to look like. Of course, my very curious seven-year-old overheard the whole thing.

"What's a logo?," she asked.

I explained.

"I can help with your logo, Mommy," she announced. "Daddy, this is what it should look like."

Of course my husband, being the good father that he is, entertained her suggestions. She directed him while he put her ideas together, digitally.

Here are the end results:



Note the predominant "star" and "swirls" motif in both.



They are lovely. That said, I quietly went with something else.

What compels us, as parents, to do the things we do? 

Love, perhaps?

People have done all kinds of things for love, but I must say that parents are most likely to have done the most extreme. Now I am certainly not saying that creating a logo for one's daughter is something that should be written up in the record books, but I think you get my point here. How many times have we foregone what we really wanted to do for our children? How many times have we sacrificed and saved, contorted and compromised in order to make our precious children happy? 

It's a rhetorical question because, if you're a parent, you've likely done it:
  • From the mother who ate the burnt toast and equally-singed eggs on Mother's Day morning, telling her child that the homemade meal was "delicious;"
  • To the father that tirelessly played pitcher to his son's umpteenth attempt at hitting a home run Sunday after Sunday, all summer long;
  • To the grandparent that chose to consciously ignore her arthritic aches and pains in order to entertain her grandchild as often as she was able to see him.
As parents, we realize that the extent of our love for our children through what we would be willing to do for them. Logos aside, many of us would give everything we had to our kids, a decision based on the incredible love that we have for them. And that's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it?


In terms of your children, what have you done for love?

The Things We Do For Love - 10cc


Friday, September 9, 2011

Learnings: First Week Back to School

Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it? At least it is for me much of the time.

For many of us, this week was the first foray back to school after some time, and along with the excitement, I'm pretty confident in saying that there were likely lots of tears in households everywhere. At least there were in mine.

For as much as I tried to follow the organizational rules regarding back to school (my own included), there were, inevitably, some hiccups that occurred. Mom and dad were not completely on the ball and, alas, some things fell through the cracks.

To wit: 
  • It is now Friday afternoon and I have still not completed the requisite tome that has been presented to be under the guise of "important information about your child" that was to be completed by day two;
  • I did not implore upon my daughter the importance of emptying her knapsack each night and invariably scrambled to find those important forms as well as empty the day's residues from said knapsack on the morning of the next day (with much irritation and frustration, no less)
  • I am still in Laundry Hell (now more so than ever, with two two-year-olds exercising their bladders and bowels at will in their new back to school clothing)
We all do our darnedest to follow the rules and circumvent the inevitable meltdowns that add that wonderful flavour to our days. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, dinner gets burned on the stove, you're too tired to do yet another load of laundry and your kids end up scrambling the next morning. I know in my heart of hearts that it's okay and that life goes on, but it's so hard to admit that sometimes we just don't get it right, isn't it?

The good thing is that every day's a new day and these small setbacks are lessons that we can use to make things better in the weeks and months to come. That said, here's what I learned from this first week back to school:
  1. Bananas left in knapsacks for more than on hour change their chemical composition and become interestingly pungent;
  2. Not completing school forms when they are supposed to be handed in will earn you the "side-eye" from some teachers, though no on will say anything to your face; email or notes in your child's knapsacks to "please send back the forms" may appear, however;
  3. Bath time after a long day at school or daycare can often coincide with meltdowns, in spite of your best efforts.
There. That's what I learned this week. Onward and upward for week two.

On a related note, I did do some things right - got things underway for day one before all H**L broke loose, and talked about it on-air. Here are my latest tips for organizing kids for Back to School before the mayhem ensues.



How was your first week back? Was it mayhem or did it run smoothly? What learnings did you take away from this week?

Fashion Fridays With Melanie: Instant Upgrade


It's Fashion Friday and Multiple Mayhem Mamma's resident Style Maven, Melanie, has something to say. Read on...

Instant Upgrade

A few months ago, I tried a little experiment. What if the only style change I made was a teeny, tiny one? Would it make a difference? The answer - absolutely.  What was the change? I made an effort to wear lipstick and to reapply it.

If the thought of balancing your busy schedule with the packed back-to-school schedules of your kids has you feeling overwhelmed, no wonder you can’t be bothered with your personal style. Who has time?

Image courtesy of www.thegloss.com
Well, this small change is for you. No excuses. It takes seconds. The same amount of time it takes to have a sip of coffee.  And budget isn’t an excuse either. Great lipsticks are available at all price ranges from Joe Fresh to Chanel and chances are you probably have a few floating around in your purse already just dying to be used.

What do you think? Can you invest in a few minutes a day to look and feel better?

And, I’d love to hear what kind of feedback you get when you try this little lipstick experiment.  When I did it, I got compliments on everything - hair to clothing - when all I did differently was put on a little lipstick. What will happen when you do it?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Great Unwashed - Top 7 Tips For Surviving Bath Time

I toyed with calling this post "Night of the Thousand Baths," because, being the parent of many certainly makes bath time a feel like a never-ending process.

I don't know about you, but I often feel a surge of anxiety when dinner comes to a close and I know that - gulp - the water has to start flowing.

While evening baths were perhaps a special bonding time between you and your precious baby, the situation changes drastically once your child (or children) begin to be the slightest bit mobile. Add the twin factor into the mix and you've got a full-blown crisis.

It should be a simple task, right? Get the water flowing, fill up the tub, add the appropriate toys (and sometimes bubbles), dunk the kids, wash, dry, dress and finish the process. In an ideal world, this would be the scenario.

Image courtesy of www.bibisews.com
Yet those of us who have lived to tell can attest to the fact that bathing the kids is often anything but routine. There are all kinds of issues that often come into play:
  • Someone's favourite bath toy is missing
  • Someone is having a meltdown
  • Someone decides to debate the efficacy of regular hygeine (often an older child who has just learned the basic tenets of critical thought)
Image courtesy of http://www.bathroomusers.info/kids-bath/

Whether or not we want to deal with any of these issues is moot. The fact of the matter is that a full day of running around and playing (at daycare and/or school, no less) necessitates the need for bathing. The kids might not like it but the kids will be alright, really. Just follow these tips to keep your sanity in check and turn on the faucet.

Top 7 Tips For Surviving Bath Time
  1. Suit Up - Lay out the kids' sleepwear in advance. Have it ready to go so that the transition from bath to bed will be speedy, smooth and stress-free.
  2. Fun and Games - Make the inevitable enjoyable. Bath crayons, bubbles, toys and more make the routine task of bathing an adventure of the imagination.
  3. Short Shrift - Don't dawdle, even in the tub. Not only will you save your kids from prune-like appendages, but you'll get the job done quicker if you give the overall bathing process a time limit.
  4. Double Up - If you have more than one child, save both water and your sanity and dunk 'em all in at the same time. Not only will it expedite the bathing process but it will make it a lot more fun for the kiddies.
  5. "Last one in..."- Strip down and join the fun sometimes. If you want to show the kids how it's done, lead by example...and lead them out of the tub after wash and rinse
  6. Sing, sing a song - A repertoire of child-friendly tunes that are belted out while soaping up can't be beat. Ask your kids.
  7. Early to bath, early to rise - Give the kids their bath as early in the evening as you can. They will be much less likely to melt down earlier in the evening than later.
What are your tips for getting through bath time quickly and easily? Looking forward to your feedback!