Let’s end the mommy wars this mother’s day

Time Magazine--Are You Mom Enough? May 21, 2012

Let’s end the mommy wars this mother’s day. This past week a Time Magazine cover (at right) showing a 3-year old standing on chair so he  can nurse ignited a fire storm.

Wow. It is certainly an arresting if not shocking image and triggered the breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding debate once again as well as the never ending argument about whether moms who work outside the home are harming their children. It goes on and on.

The mother pictured on the cover is a follower of Dr. Bill Sears who preaches attachment parenting.  In a nutshell, attachment parenting believes the following:

  • Breast feed even when babies become toddlers
  • Have babies sleep with you, called co-sleeping
  • Use a sling to keep babies “attached” to you, called baby-wearing
  • And finally no baby should be left to cry, because a cry is a call for help.

Looking back on my early parenting years (and admittedly it’s two to three decades removed), I practiced an earratic, hybrid form of attachment parenting.

Mom, toddler and dad

Babies (or more often toddlers) ended up in bed with us because I was too tired to take them back to their room.

I did have a Snugli baby carrier but I stopped using it when I smacked the baby’s head on the fridge by accident as I was preparing dinner. (I’m sure the new baby slings are much improved. Or maybe the new moms are better at navigating than I was.)

And of course, I believed in the absolute benefits of breast feeding.  But I had some friends who couldn’t breast feed. That didn’t mean they did irreparable harm to their children.

I did spend as many hours as I could cuddling my babies, holding them close  as I read to them, sang to them or just sit silently, basking in motherhood. And sometimes I looked at them as they lay sleeping and smiled because they were a miraculous gift.  We were attached, perhaps not all the time physically but certainly emotionally.

One of the biggest concerns I have for young mothers today is their feeling that everything is in their control. That they have to be the “perfect mom” who does everything for her child.  This is a disservice to both mother and child. I know I made mistakes. I think my kids survived them fairly well and maybe some of my mistakes actually helped them be more independent.

Anna Quindlen, the Pulitzer pricing winning journalist and bestselling author, summed it up best in an April interview on public radio’s Fresh Air: “The problem with the ‘uber-momism’ is that you convince yourself that you can never make mistakes. Second, if you do, it will be tragic and traumatic. And third, that you have control over the entire situation, which is what’s led to this ‘helicopter parenting’ we talk about all the time. I was the best mother when I stood back, provided appropriate oversight, but basically got out of their way so they could be themselves. “

On Mother’s Day 2012 I’d like to see us dispel the notion that there’s one right way to raise kids. I’d like to put to rest the myth that mothers are totally in control of their children’s lives. All that does is to lead to anxiety and stress—neither of which is particularly good for child or mother. And finally I would like to declare a truce in the Mommy wars.  Please join me in telling young women to trust their instincts, use common sense, and perhaps every once in awhile ask Grandma what she thinks.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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LOL: How grandkids view their grandparents

Grandma, you're so funny!

We all know kids have a refreshing view of the world but when it comes to grandparents it may be downright LOL.

My cousin Mary forwarded an email to me with these vignettes on children’s perceptions of their grandparents.  It made me smile and some of these vignettes make me laugh out loud.  Enjoy!

 

♦  Grandma was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter, as she’d done many times before. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, “But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!” I will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye….

♦  My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 62. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, “Did you start at 1?”

♦  After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, “Who was THAT?”.

♦  A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like. “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!”

♦  My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?” I mentally polished my halo and I said, “No, how are we alike?” “You’re both old,” he replied.

♦  A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather’s word processor. She told him she was writing a story. “What’s it about?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I can’t read.”

♦  I didn’t know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, “Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!”

♦  When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in.. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, “It’s no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights.”

♦  When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.” “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” he advised “Mine says I’m 4 to 6.”

♦  A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, “Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting.” she said. “How do you make babies?” “It’s simple,” replied the girl. “You just change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.”

♦  Children’s Logic: “Give me a sentence about a public servant,” said a teacher. The small boy wrote: “The fireman came down the ladder pregnant.” The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. “Don’t you know what pregnant means?” she asked. “Sure,” said the young boy confidently. ‘It means carrying a child.”

♦  A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog’s duties. “They use him to keep crowds back,” said one child. “No,” said another. “He’s just for good luck.” A third child brought the argument to a close.”They use the dogs,” she said firmly, “to find the fire hydrants.”

♦  A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. “Oh,” he said, “she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport.”

♦  Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things, but I don’t get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

♦  My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over, you hear gas leaks and they blame their dog.

Please share some of the woderful things your grandchildren have said in the comments below.

 

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New pregnancy trends–babymoons, push presents, maternity pics

There are some new prenancy trends I’ve heard about from my young childbearing friends.  Frankly when I first heard about them I was a bit put off–they seemed over indulgent.  But then I had a long conversation with my daughter.  She helped me understand these trends celebrate and memorialize the wonderful miracle that is called Having A Baby!

The first is a babymoon.  A couple takes a babymoon, usually when the woman is in her second trimester.  It’s the last quiet getaway a couple gets to take before the advent of sleepless nights and seeing life through a haze of exhaustion.   Who knows when the couple will have another chance to get away once the baby is born.  What a great idea.  Wished I had thought about it when I was pregnant. I also think all babymoons should be in some exciting city at a great hotel with breakfast in bed.

The second trend is a push present.  I had no clue what it was when I first heard about push presents.  It’s the gift (preferably something that stretches the budget) the new father gives the new mom when the baby is born. It’s the new mom’s reward for all the hard work (and I don’t deny it’s hard work) of pushing that baby into the world.  An example of a push present given recently by one of my family members is a Cartier watch.  Even with three pushes under my belt, I don’t have a Cartier watch.  Got to work on that.  Now the best push present is the baby itself, but I agree it’s wonderful for the dad to acknowledge the 9 months of pregnancy and many hours of labor to produce the baby.

Finally, there’s the maternity photo—preferably an art shot done by a professional photographer.  This photo memorializes the feelings of unparalleled happiness and joy of pregnancy.  That’s a good thing and hopefully overshadows the memories of the crashing tiredness and all-day morning sickness through the first trimester, heartburn and sciatica during the second, and finally, the “There’s not one comfortable position to sit or sleep” during the third.

And then there are the other wonderful moments we cherish – the first steps, the first day of school, high school graduation, your child’s wedding.   There’s going to be lots of things in a parent’s life (and a grandparents too) that will evoke unparalleled feelings of happiness.

I have one more suggestion for a new trend:  on the child’s birthday, the mom should get the party and the presents!

Let me know what you think about these pregnancy trends.

 

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Using technology to stay in touch with grandkids

My grandchildren, unfortunately, don’t live next door.  They don’t even live in the same state.  Two live in Arlington, VA and one lives in Sunny Isles, FL.  I try to see them as much as possible but sometimes a few months go by and I haven’t been able to make an in-person visit.  I’d like to change that in the near future but since my children don’t plan on moving I think I’m going to have consider relocation.  But technology helps soften the blow of physical separation.

This morning I was able to skype with my grandson in Arlington (and his parents of course) and my granddaughter in Sunny Isles, along with her dad.  My one-and-a-half year-old grandson held up his favorite book, asking me to read it.  If only I had a copy of that book, we could have read it together.  I’m going to remedy that fairly quickly.

What a blessing.  It’s not as good as being there and holding them (well that may be an overstatement –they really are much too squirmy these days).  But I still get to see them and watch all the new things they’re doing.

We haven’t tried facetime with our iPhones yet but that’s next on the list of technology experiments.  I suspect the small screen of the phone won’t have the same impact for the little ones as the larger computer screen.  We’ll see.

Other technology pluses:  I love watching videos of the children.  And having a protected video site either on YouTube or other services is terrific.  My daughter-in-law created a password protected website to post pictures and videos of her little boy.  I wasn’t there to watch him experiment with his first solid food but I did get to watch and treasure the video.  I saw the expression on his face as he thoughtfully tasted the rice cereal.  Not sure that he ever swallowed any that first time but he certainly loved the feel of the cereal in his mouth. That picture was worth a thousand words.

What technology do you use to nurture your relationships with grandkids?

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Strict parent, relaxed grandparent?

I was reading a 1964 article about grandparenting styles in the library the other day and it made me wonder if my style of grandparenting is different than my style of parenting.

When my kids were younger I heard friends say their parents were much stricter with them but much more lenient and fun loving with their grandchildren.  Am I like that with my grandchildren? I think my role is to be there to support both the grandchildren and their parents, have fun with them and be an extra pair of hands when needed.  So yes, that’s a completely different role than I had with my kids.

My grandkids are still toddlers.  I don’t have to deal with discipline when I’m with them (Just keeping these busy little folks safe as they explore the world is a full-time job!).  But I don’t think I’ll be a “no curfew, rules out the window, let’s just have fun Grandma. “  If I did my kids would disown me, I bet.

I enjoy seeing behaviors broken into categories. Here’s are the five styles of grandparenting identified by Bernice Neugarten and Karol Weinstein in their 1964 article in the Journal of Marriage and the Family.

• Fun seeking—informal and playful

• Formal—traditional role for grandparents with a clear delineation between parent’s role and grandparent’s role

• Distant—fleeting and infrequent contact

• Reservoirs of Family Wisdom—the pater familias with sage advice for all

Whenever you look at categories of personalities or styles, the truth is we all combine a little bit of several categories. The most important thing for me to remember is to be myself—to be authentic—with both my children and grandchildren.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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In celebration of being a grandmother

Becoming a grandmother is a celebration of new life and reaffirmation of the choices we made when we started a family.

When I held my first grandchild in my arms, she was only hours old.  I felt an incredible connection to her—very much like the connection I had with my own children—yet different.  I realized she had two very capable parents who would be on the front lines.  So what role was I going play?

Through the ages grandparents have played myriad roles in the lives of their grandchildren.  Some grandparents have taken on full-time responsibility for raising their grandchildren; others have been the gift bearing, smiling but remote figures.  And most are somewhere in the middle–not on the front lines of day-to-day care but involved.

This site and blog are about celebrating being a grandmother and exploring the meaning of being a grandmother in the 21st century.  Many of us are probably boomers, used to having the largest share of the pie. How are we going to share that pie with our children and grandchildren?  Let me know what you think.

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