Veterans Day perspective from a 7 year old.

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An interview with Cabin Girl, age 7, about Veterans Day.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?  “We’re thanking the people who saved our country.”

What do they save our country from?  “From the people who are mean and the people who don’t really like this country and are trying to damage it.”

Who do you know that serve(d) our country?  “One of my Grandpas…”  I had to inform her that all 4 of her Great Grandpas served, as well as her Uncle and Aunt and at least 1 Great Uncle.

What do they do to save our country?  “They fight.”

Why is it important for us to have a day for them?  “So we can thank them for all that they did and do.”

Would you join the services to fight for our country?  “Maybe.”

Why?  “I don’t really know.”

Is there anything you want to say to our Veterans?

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“Thank you for fighting for our country.”

Cabin Boy, age 4, says, “Mattress.”  Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but he enjoyed being part of the interview process.

A Life Challenge

The domestic pirate

I wrote this post about 2 years ago after our experience circumcising Mr. Monkey.  This isn’t meant to be a pro/anti-circumcision post, but our experience with feeling helpless in a situation, and a request for people to support, not degrade, each other.

Captain is circumcised.  I suppose starting there is best, since that’s why I’m in this whole tangle of emotions.  Since he is circumcised he wants our sons to be circumcised.  Okay.  I don’t have a penis, I’m not one to really make a decision about it.  However, I still played devil’s advocate, researching the pros and cons of circumcision, telling him all my findings.  Nothing changed his mind, and I’m okay with that.  At least he’s informed.  So, after our first son, Cabin Boy, was born, I grudgingly made the appointment.  I cried the morning leading up to it.  I cried in the waiting room.  I cried when I took him in, full of guilt that I was leaving him and his little manhood in the hands of someone I didn’t know from Adam, terrified that something would go wrong.  The procedure took all of 5 minutes, went totally fine, and CB only showed discomfort the first night.  A week went by, the plastibell fell off, and VIOLA.  All done.  Happy, healthy penis.

Fast-forward to mid-August, when I had our second son, Mr. Monkey’s, circumcision appointment.  Same Dr. and all.  We’ve been through this before, it should be easy, right?  Nope.  Same guilt.  More tears.  I made the mistake of seeking comfort through my social network friends.  Most of them are moms I met through local play groups and even most of those that aren’t from the groups are parents; They’ll have words of comfort for me, right?  Even if they don’t feel that circumcision is necessary for their sons, they’ll at least have a ‘Good luck’ for us, right?  Nope.  Apparently, when it comes to the topic of circumcision, despite it being an intensely difficult and personal decision for each family, people feel the need to say something that digs the knife of guilt a little deeper in my gut.  Thankfully a few close friends had the words I needed to dry my tears and make the drive to the clinic.  Again, I cried as I left the room and sat in the lobby, once again terrified that we could be in the percentage of ‘procedures that went wrong’.   Lucky me, there was a wonderful display of teenage angst to keep me preoccupied (really, if any of my kids call me a ‘f*&^ing idiot’ in public, I will backhand them and I don’t care who’s watching- but I digress) and before I knew it the Dr. was there telling me everything went fine.  **Breath sigh of relief**  Now I felt bad that I had kind of hoped MM had peed on the Dr. like CB did. Mr. Monkey was a bit fussy but nursing and some good cuddle time calmed him down enough to help him sleep for the drive home.  Once we got home he worked on filling his diaper so, of course, I changed him… and there was blood.  Everywhere.  A lot of it.  He started screaming.  I started crying and yelling for my sister to bring my phone and the paperwork from the Dr. so I could call the ‘if a problem occurs’ number.  The nurse told me to take him to Urgent Care immediately, so Captain and I took him in.

Not to include all the gory details but several attempts at cauterization (O.M.-effing-G!!! You want to do WHAT to him now?!), using pressure, different wraps and clotting products, a discussion of plan B to remove the PlastiBell and convert to a Mogen Clamp method, and FOUR HOURS later, the bleeding finally stopped.  We’re lucky he’s such a mild mannered baby; he laid in my lap and slept for most of it (thank goodness- I can’t imagine trying to maintain pressure on his little parts had he been squirming and kicking), we managed to maneuver enough so that he could nurse while laying in my lap and not disrupt the process we were going through.  Maybe I’m trying to assuage my guilt a bit by telling myself he couldn’t have been in much discomfort since he slept nearly the entire time and barely squeaked through all the gauze changes and various pressure holds we used.

The follow up appointment went well and he’s healed perfectly.

So, what’s the point of me telling you this?  I guess I felt the need to put a reminder out there.  A plea, if you will.  As parents we’re faced with difficult decisions every day.  Not that someone’s going over our every move as a parent with a fine-toothed comb, but we’re under a lot of scrutiny and the pressure to ‘do it right’ is overwhelming at the best of times.  We all feel it… I’d love to shake the hand of a parent that was exempt from receiving unwanted advice or scrutiny from someone that feels they know better.  So why on earth do we insist on putting more pressure on one another?  Why couldn’t someone have just said, I hope it goes well, instead of telling me what they think I should or shouldn’t be doing?  I have enough guilt and have avoided telling people of our experience because the LAST thing I need right now is someone saying ‘I told you so’ or ‘I never would have done that to MY son’ like it makes them a better mother than I am.  I don’t want apologies or backpedaling on things that have been said.  I just want to ask everyone to give each other a break.  We’re all doing what we feel is best for our families, wading through the myriad of choices and circumstances life throws at us.  For whatever reason though, it doesn’t make us sympathetic, it makes us more self righteous.  My boys may hate the decision we’ve made for them down the road but, you know what?  That’s something Captain and I are prepared to deal with.  We should be supporting one another in this hectic phase of our lives, not sowing seeds of doubt and guilt.

So, in conclusion, I would like to issue a challenge.  And this goes to everyone, not just parents.  The next time someone is discussing a life-choice that you don’t agree with, stay away from the soap box and just wish them good luck.  It may not be what’s right for you or your family, it may not fall in with your beliefs, but isn’t that the beauty of everyone being individual?

It’s Not Just Mommies at War

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As a blogger, I read other blogs.  It’s what I do for fun, for inspiration, for connection with other people in similar shoes to mine.  Those blogs are opinionated, told from the view of the blogger, appropriately unapologetic, and I love them.

As a follower of blogs of things dear to me heart, I come across a lot of posts about parenting.  Motherhood, to be precise.  The difficulties, the joys, the confusion, the triumphs… and I am finding that, more and more, telling a story from your point of view just isn’t enough anymore.

Stay at home moms, working moms, single moms… There is a competition for who has it the hardest.  Every mom has her own hurdles to overcome, every day.  Some days we make it over every hurdle just fine; others we trip on every single one, crossing the finish line that is bedtime broken, bruised, and bleeding.  We turn to our blogs and social media as a source of comfort and connection.  Please tell me I’m not alone in this is a common plea from all of us.

But there is a pincer movement happening around us, making a mother just looking for solace out to be self righteous and above the fold.

This movement is coming from the men, grandparents, and other people who are primary caretakers for their children.

If a woman writes about how she needs a break, there is a dad out there asking why it’s not okay for him to have one, too.

If a mother mentions the 15 minute drive her husband gets twice a day and how she is so jealous the he gets a guaranteed half hour to have his mind to himself, there is someone who can’t be a stay at home parent out there telling her that she chose her job and should just suck it up.

It doesn’t matter that we have no idea what the perspective of stay at home/work at home/single dads/grandparents are.  It doesn’t matter that there is no way we can imagine what it must feel like to be parenting the next generation which we had hoped to watch and spoil from afar.

If we don’t make a disclaimer in everything we say about our experiences as a mother, we are shamed for being intentionally exclusive or demeaning towards those parenting from a different perspective.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a dad.  Because I’m a mom.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a working parent, because I stay home with my kids.  When I write about my experiences with motherhood, I don’t generally add how a dad or working parent might feel, because there’s no way for me to know.  I am not choosing to be exclusive, I am choosing not to make assumptions.  Unless I specifically say “Boy, those stay at home dads need to x, y, z…” I’m not saying they should x, y, or z, so don’t read between the lines of my parenting musings.

Case in point: I really feel the need to say that this applies to all walks, so that no one gets their panties (or boxers) in a twist about me making insinuations or excluding them.

I am not you.  I can not even guess at what your perspective or opinion may be.

I am just a mother, trying to be a good parent.  Whether your chromosomes match or differ, if you’re married or beyond child bearing years, we’re all doing the best we can and trying to find some common ground.

Motherhood is not a war.  Fatherhood is not a war.

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If you are a dad that could use a break, agree with the mom who feels the same way instead of asking her why she thinks she deserves one and you don’t.  We all have a common ground in parenting: We love our kids.  Stop making it about you, and make it about US.  We are all in this together.

Let’s start acting like it.

Stop Making Senseless Murdering a Contest

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In the wake of the Zimmerman case there are a million and one posts about ‘this white guy being killed by that black man and the media didn’t say a word’ and ‘this black guy was killed by this white guy and not one news agency reported it’ and, frankly, it sickens me.

You do no one any good by making it a contest.  In fact, you make it worse.  You’re creating the lines that are being crossed between a humanity issue and a race issue.  If ‘our side’ has more unreported brutal murders than ‘their side,’ we can continue to play to victim without guilt.  It will give us an explanation for the senseless deaths of more good people; Well, of course this was done by a *insert race of choice* guy, just look at how many other killers there are that look like he does, or come from a similar circumstance.  It continues to feed the fires of this race oppression battle that’s raging around us.

YES, there is racism in our country, in our world, against all races.  I’m not saying it doesn’t exist.  I’m not saying ignoring it is the answer.  But continuing to point out the races in certain travesties from your place of privilege doesn’t help.  



This shouldn’t be a black/white/brown/pink issue.  It should be a people issue.  Quit bitching about someone from your race going unnoticed and mourn them, along with the countless others of countless other races whose senseless deaths have gone unnoticed, too.

Dear Girl

I hope that, someday, your concern for someone else, even a total stranger, is greater than your concern for your image.  

That you find the humility to accept help when you need it.

That you respond to the question “Are you okay?” with grace, as opposed to a sneer.


You are our future, Dear Girl.  The future of myself, and my children.  And the future I saw yesterday was bleak, entitled, and snotty.  


I hope that, someday, you see a girl crying on the side of a busy street and choose to offer your help to her, rather than drive past like dozens of others.

That she is thankful for the compassion you show her.

That she accepts your help, even if all it means is a ride home instead of an agonizing, tearful walk or bus ride.

That 10 years from now you will have found that a gesture of friendship can change the world around you, even if just for a moment.


We can’t all be emergency responders racing to the scene of a crime.  But we can be responders in our own neighborhood, for our friends and family, to those we meet on the street.


I hope, Dear Girl, that you made it home safely.

That you were truly okay.

That, someday, even for an instant, you regret glaring and sneering at a woman who parked her car and her kids  to make sure you were okay within 10 seconds of seeing you holding your head and sobbing on the side of that busy street.

That you had someone to tell what was wrong, without fear of judgement or consequence. 


I hope, Dear Girl.  Because what else can I do?

 

As useless as a single wing

There is some powerful propaganda floating around lately.

Propaganda that elicits indignant anger more than thoughtful conversation, because people can’t look past the imagined slights on their own opinions to see the real messages.

In some areas of our nation, children have better access to guns than a story, toy, or treat.

Those that know me understand that I am pro-gun rights, but advocate better gun policy.  I have yet to find a compelling enough argument to turn my opinion on high capacity assault weapons, despite many discussions with MANY different people about it.  But, when I say there needs to be better gun control, people tell me we may as well ban forks.  *Side note: This comparison has always boggled me.  When has someone’s decisions regarding their own health affected the safety of their neighbors?  When I ask for a compromise, I am passed off as a liberal idiot who doesn’t care about the rights of my fellow citizens.  The thing is: They are MY rights, too.  But which is greater?  Your right to arms?  Or another family’s right to life?  What about a right to live without fear of whether or not your neighbor has an unlicensed firearm that is accessible by children, or someone with anger issues, a history of domestic violence, or a mental disorder?

The blame game is running rampant in our country.  THE LEFT WING wants to take away our rights!!  THE RIGHT WING doesn’t care about our babies!!  THE LEFT is full of hippy idiots!  THE RIGHT is full of money grubbing warmongers!!

I have a news flash for you:  All this flapping is getting us nowhere.  What use is a single wing to a bird of prey, like our beloved American Bald Eagle?  We flap and flap and flap, to our own rhythms and desires, and yet the only way we can get what we need is by opening our mouths and screaming for someone to feed us, to sustain us, to take care of us and our problems, using our talons to claw at the OTHER wing to get it to do as we wish.

This isn’t working.  On so many levels aside from gun policy.  Families are still failing to pay their mortgage; women’s bodies are being subjected to the regulations of someone else’s religious beliefs; our education system is getting worse, and students are noticing; parents with mentally ill children have no options for care.

Flap a little longer.  Scream a little louder.  But refusing to compromise or work together is only going to result in the continued degradation of our nation, our families, and our lives.

Listen to your neighbor.  Learn something new.  Advocate for something you believe in.  Carry on a discussion with someone of a different opinion.  A creature that refuses to evolve will die out… why should it be any different for a country?

Dear mom on your iPhone: Seriously, how dare you?

I saw you sigh as you sat down on that bench after your kids went screaming onto the jungle gym, like you actually need a minute of peace to think.  How dare you have your own train of thought.

I watched you hand your kid a Happy Meal  instead of bust out a tupperware full of nutritious fruits and vegetables that were cleaned, cut, and packed with love.  How dare you think you deserve an easy day every now and then.

I heard your minimal reaction to your preschooler hitting the ground too hard at the bottom of the slide.  How dare you teach your kids to brush it off and move on.

Why can’t you be like the mom over there, that’s reading a book? At least she’s engaging her mind.

Why can’t you be like the nanny over there, who’s knitting a shawl?  At least she’s being productive.

Why can’t you be like that group of women, who chose to meet here to let their kids play and socialize?  At least they’re socializing, too.

Why can’t you be like the helicopter mom, judging every other person on this playground because NONE OF THEM are 100% focused on their children?

How dare you be a realistic representation of us all?  How dare you.

SURPRISE! Women like sex, too.

I’m going to talk about some pretty adult stuff right now.  If you aren’t interested in hearing that women have sexual desires, too, then go read something else.

Brutal, open honesty here.  It may be rambling, as I have so many things clamoring to be voiced that I can’t really keep track of them, so I hope you bear with me.

You see, women have this thing called a clitoris.  And it makes sex pleasurable.  Some women have high amounts of hormones that make them want sex more often.  Some have low levels of hormones, which equates to a low sex drive.  Regardless of how much sex we crave, we still crave it.  I am speaking to you as a woman with a pretty high sex drive, who gets turned down by her husband often enough for it to matter.
  

But you know what?  No one talks about a woman’s needs.  The phrase that ‘a man has needs’ gets thrown around so often, as an excuse for sleeping around, excessive masturbation, and porn addictions.  Within the rape culture we’re currently faced with, this is the premise for so many violations of too many victims.  How many times have we heard about a woman claiming that her primal needs were the cause of her inappropriate actions?  Every once in a while we hear of a teacher having inappropriate relationships with her students and I can only recall 1 violent woman-on-woman rape being discussed on the news in my adult life.

When you’re hungry, does your body involuntarily find and consume food?  When you have to pee, does your body get up on its own to find an appropriate facility?  Your body gives you signals for what it needs and you make a conscious decision to fulfill those needs.

Making a conscious decision to use another person, against their will, for your sexual urges is inexcusable.

But, “Men get turned on easier than women.”  Puh-leeze.  You know what feels good for women?  Vibrations.  You know what vibrates?  A car engine.  Sit in the car with your jeans hiked up against your crotch and see how long it takes before you’re ready to go home and take care of that urge.  Multiply that by however many times a day you’re driving somewhere, and you’ve got a primal need to be fulfilled.  Bicycles?  Same problem.  Accidentally bumping into something at crotch height, or having something brush your nipples while wearing a thin, or no, bra.  The sight of a man (or woman, if that’s your preference) in shape, or with specific features that we find attractive.  A man who smells nice.  A man who gives us just enough attention to make us feel special.  All things that turn the key to get that motor running.

You know what we do though?  We make a conscious decision whether to act on those desires or not, Just. Like. Men.  But we don’t get credit for it, because we don’t have a penis.  That second ‘brain’ men are endowed with that somehow allows their actions to become excusable?  We don’t get that.  If a woman chooses to go home and masturbate instead of having an affair with that co-worker that’s making passes at her, well, it’s easy for her, she’s a woman.  If a woman’s partner isn’t interested in having sex and she decides to just wait until they are, well, that’s just fine for her, she’s not a man.

Having an extra appendage does not impair judgement.  That is proven by the many good men who do respect boundaries.  Being turned on makes decision making different, to be sure, but not difficult.  

The differences in our sexes don’t make any of us less human.  We all deserve respect as a people, not a gender.

But, I don’t have a penis, so what do I know?

The lazy mom: This century’s brand of feminism?

This is a subject that’s been preying on my consciousness for a while.

While I totally agree that being June Cleaver is hardly the norm, nor should it be expected of women today, I feel like we’re quickly sliding in the opposite direction.  Blogs about how few meals are cooked at home,  social media posts about drinking while kids are entertained by a screen, not giving a crap about a house that hasn’t been vacuumed in months, contests to see who has the messiest house on the internet (which I voted on, because, let’s face it, I need a handheld vacuum) are no longer few and far between, they’re everywhere, and people LOVE them.

What with working parents, single parents, work from home parents, grandparents raising their grandkids, there is definitely a lot of redefining regarding the traditional household going on, which I TOTALLY support. 

BUT, with the stress of work, the economy, slipping school standards, public services being cut, should our rallying cry really be, “The standards of my home don’t mean anything anymore, either!”?

I’m not perfect in the least.  I’ve never been tidy, organized, or a sparkly clean person in general.  I like sitting on the couch watching tv.  I like playing video games.  I like having fun instead of doing chores.  Our clean laundry sits in the basket for days.  Captain has pretty much taken over doing dishes, because it’s something I just can’t seem to get a handle on doing.  But I owe my kids more than being a lazy mom that won’t show them how nice a home can be.

What happened to teaching our children pride in a job well done?  What better place to start than showing them that the accomplishment of having a dining table has a clean cloth, a swept floor, and knowing a space is usable without fear of stepping in a day-old dollop of yogurt is a feeling worth working for?  Why not show them that a home cooked meal that the whole family sits down to enjoy together is really where it’s at; Not getting 8,000 ‘likes’ on a status regarding having mac’n’cheese with your wine for the 5th night in a row.

I am guilty.  We all, at some point, are.  But let’s leave it to the occasional “I do this sometimes, too.  You are not alone and it’s okay,” instead of something that all the cool kids are doing.  Let’s stop the trend of  vilifying the parents that manage to maintain a clean house, cook their family’s meals from scratch, and play with their kids outside.  Let’s stop before the ‘Super Mom’ that used to be an awe inspiring term just makes other parents snicker with derision.

We’re better than this.  Let’s teach our kids that, too.

I may be an ass, but you will always think twice about carseat safety now.

Car seat safety.  

It’s like the ‘shoe shopping’ talk of parenthood.  Someone mentions the new standards and people start to gaze off into the distance dreaming of things like dancing cats.

But it’s SERIOUS, people.

Oh sure, “I grew up laying in the back window of my parents’ station wagon, and I’m fine!”  

Or, “We drove home from the hospital with you on my lap in the passenger seat!”

Yes.  Yes, I know.  But today, in so many ways, is so, SO frighteningly different.  The food we eat, access to television, the internet, cell phones, and travel are all so different.  Standards are constantly being updated and changed for a reason!  Yes, it’s hard to keep it all straight, and it’s another huge worry point that a lot of parents, especially first time parents, tend to overlook.

The reason for this post:

I saw a picture on FB today of a friend‘s 15 month old in his carseat and the FIRST thing I noticed was that he had a winter jacket on underneath the harness.  Okay.  It’s not SO bad, as long as you snug up the harness, right?  Except, the clip was crooked, visibly below armpit level.  And, he was forward facing.  And, oh man, is that the rear latch strap going across the seat next to it to the other side of the headrest to clip in?  

Usually, I let other peoples’ parenting choices be just that; other peoples’ choices.  But I couldn’t this time.  Mother help me, I just COULDN’T say nothing and leave it to chance that he might be okay should they get in an accident.  So I sent my friend a message. 

Now, when his wife was in labor, I sent him a few helpful tips that I wish someone would have shared with Captain or I during our first labor and delivery.  I specifically said, in one way or another, ‘You can totally tell me to stuff it if you don’t want anymore unsolicited advice from me,’ but he seemed pretty happy to have the information.  We’ve known each other since grade school and have an easy enough rapport that I’m confident he‘ll tell me when he doesn’t want my advice or opinion.

I just hope he took my concerned message to heart.  Even if it makes me look like an ass by pointing out all the things he was doing wrong with his son and he unfriends me, or whatever, at least now he’ll think twice about it whenever he buckles that sweet little boy into his car seat.

The 2012 Guidelines for carseat safety are here but they can be changed and updated at any time!

Have you ever spoken up when you noticed a child’s safety in question?

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