Riddle Her Learned – A lesson in tact.

I had my oldest son when I was only nineteen years old and, though this may shock everyone, I didn’t really know what I was doing.

I had my daughter when I was twenty five and, honestly, still didn’t know anything.

In fact – if we want to be really technical, to this day, I have no clue how to parent.

And thanks to technology, I can now be reminded each morning via an app on my phone of all my previous mistakes.

So, about a week ago, when this photo popped up, it got me thinking.

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This is a photo of my then 3-year-old, Tucker, asleep in the car. Our car was moving. And I didn’t fix his seatbelt after the photo. I didn’t add a tagline of ‘don’t worry! I’m fixing that chest clip!’. And (everyone get ready to gasp) – I didn’t even know that’s what it was called.

So, I bet you are all thinking right now how I’m a terrible mom, or how you hope I learned my lesson, or maybe you’re busy formulating a strongly worded e-mail explaining the importance of car seat safety to me.

Well, stop all of those things.

I know the importance of car seat safety now. I’m passionate about it. And I DID learn my lesson. And I’m not a terrible mother.

How did I learn my lesson, you ask? GREAT QUESTION!

Well, I was on Facebook one day and received an e-mail from an acquaintance…

It looked something like this:

Dear Hannah,

I can’t believe how you have Tucker buckled in that picture! You know, it’s called a CHEST clip, not a belly-button clip, right?!? He could die! Please, I can’t handle seeing kids buckled in like that. Fix it before something terrible happens! I will follow this email up with a laundry list of information on state laws so you know how bad it is.

Xo

That Girl You Met Once

Just kidding, y’all. No one e-mailed me.

And yet I learned learned, not because a stranger in a parking lot snidely informed me, but because friends who were having babies were learning the same things alongside me. We were seeing the research. We were seeing each other. And we are all better because of it.

So, my daughter’s chest clip was stationed on her chest from day one. As was my youngest. And my daughter stayed rear facing until she was over two years old. My youngest will do the same. I always check to make sure the carrier bar on the infant car seat is pushed into the reclined position. I don’t buy car seat accessories that might interfere with the safety of the seat. I know my kids height and weight limits on their seats and I will gladly sacrifice their comfort for their safety any day.

My point is this –

Every single time I have received unsolicited advice from people, I have shut down completely. And maybe that’s just me. Maybe you really did change the life of the woman at the grocery store when you told her that she was failing. Maybe you DID save her daughters life when you informed her of all your research. Maybe. And every child’s life is worth the effort, but I think maybe it’s time we all learned some tact. Myself included. How do we help, and yet not sound like self-righteous jerks? You may be thinking that you don’t care if that’s how you sound, because you care more about children’s lives. In which case, this is not for you.

This is for those of us who know that, with every word we speak, we are given an opportunity to show love. And we want to help, but also be kind and loving. This is for those of us who want to learn better how to choose the right words and make people feel blessed by us, not condemned. This is for those of us who have made mistakes and spoken out of turn. This is for those of us who have a hard time sometimes knowing how to speak kindly and reach people, but who want s badly to do just that.

And for us, I think I have a solution –

What if, instead of trying to fix everything, we just simply loved people and were willing to help when asked?

It’s just a thought.

Xo

hannah

Riddle Her ‘Scary’ – When loving your kids is uncool.

This morning I sent a link to a friend of mine to a blog that made me giggle and tagged it with ‘This is the first one from [this blog site] that I’ve enjoyed in a while’.

Later in the morning, as we chatted, we talked about a growing trend among parenting-focused blogs.

For so long, it seemed there was an expectation on parents to never complain. We chose to be parents so we can’t complain about it. Seems a little bit ridiculous, but it was there. I would see rants on Facebook about how parents complaining about their children were annoying because we didn’t have to be parents if we didn’t want to be. Which is true I suppose. But to that point, you don’t have to go to work, but you do. Can you not have a bad day and express that? You don’t have to go to the gym, but you do. Can you not have sore muscles? You don’t have to live in the city you do – but you do. Can you not complain about traffic? You don’t have to drive the car that you do – BUT YOU DO. Can you not complain when the radiator breaks, over heats, explodes? What do radiators do???

Parenting, just like anything else, is really hard some days. And really easy others.

So suddenly, parents everywhere were striking back with the ‘reality’ of parenthood.

There were blogs with titles like ‘I hate my kids sometimes’. Or ‘Why 2 year olds are little shits’. There was an uprising of complaint coming from parents. And, scattered through those blogs, there were some that touched us. Some that made us feel normal. But there were others – that crossed lines. And they continue.

It seems, in the name of honesty, we’ve gone from one extreme to another. Where we once felt we couldn’t complain, now all we do is complain.

Parenting is hard. Yes. Undeniably so.

But it is also wonderful. And – FOR REAL – my kids bring me so much joy it’s unreal.

There are OF COURSE moments when I have to step away from them. Moments when I lose my cool. Moments when they DRIVE ME SO NUTS!

But far outnumbering those moments are the ones wherein I am left weak in the knees by these people who I have walked with for every step in their lives.

Can it be okay for me to love my children? Is that allowed? Can I be the mom who doesn’t identify with the statement that ‘sometimes I hate my kids’? Because, seriously, never once have I hated my kids.

We need to find the line. The line between being honest about the pitfalls AND being honest about the mountain tops.

If your reality has you hating your kids – maybe seek some help. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. I mean that very tenderly. If you are hurting, find healing. If you can’t handle parenting, seek safety in places that offer it. If your kids are ruining your life, it’s time to change something.

My kids aren’t easy all the time. At this very moment actually, Charlotte is literally crying that she’s hungry as she chews on an apple. It’s infuriating. But her little toes make me happy. Her smile makes me smile. Days are hard and not always full of joy. But joy is real and it always finds it’s way back to me. In the moments when I’m crying because I’m so overwhelmed (and yes, that happens quite frequently), there always comes peace.

Let’s be honest about parenting. It’s hard – and great.

I love my kids.

-xo-

Hannah

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Riddle Her Sneaky – Another reason my children will need therapy.

When I was about six years old, I got my first loose tooth.

This was obviously the work of the devil.

TEETH WERE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH! Like a nightmare, I was LOOSING my teeth. So, I would wiggle it with my tongue. I would push on it until it hurt. I would watch it move around in my mouth. And, on several occasions, I would accidentally bite down on it and experience the unexplainable feeling that comes along with such an act.

But – let’s be clear – I was definitely not going to pull that tooth out of my mouth. Not in a million years. Over my DEAD, COLD BODY!

Eventually, something happened and it fell out. Once I noticed, I spent a day crying and mourning the loss. Performed a funeral. Wrote a biography.

Then I got another loose tooth. And I was just as horrified.

With each loose tooth I got, I was no less appalled. I dreaded the pulling of the tooth, the begging from my mother to let her try, the taste of wet toilet paper as I tried to get a grip of my tiny tooth only to chicken out…it was all terrible.

So, about two years ago when my then five-year-old son got his first tooth, I was ready to bunker down. He was going to be afraid of the pain. He wasn’t going to want to pull it. He wasn’t going to let me try.

So, when he very nonchalantly said ‘Hey, I pulled my tooth out’ from the backseat as we were driving to the store, I was dumbfounded.

How is it possible that he inherited my innate ability to tell bad jokes, but he wasn’t afraid to pull his tooth out of HIS FACE?!?!

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But the worst was still ahead.

That night, Tucker sweetly tucked his tooth under his pillow in a little box I gave him ‘so tooth fairy wouldn’t have trouble finding it’. He went to bed happily awaiting the magical money to appear.

I waited. I wanted him to be asleep.

So after successfully managing to forget completely and getting in my own bed, I remembered my maternal duty to trade money in for disgusting teeth.

I crept down the hall to his bedroom and opened the door. He had been asleep for a few hours and has been known to sleep through pretty much anything so I was in the clear. I stuck my hand under his pillow.

Where the frick was his tooth? I thought it was in a box!

I look under the bed. Nothing.

I dig again under his pillow. Nothing.

And then, with my entire arm still under his pillow…

‘Mom’?

He see’s me.

‘Mom? What are you doing’?

I say nothing.

My WHOLE ARM IS UNDER HIS PILLOW! I’VE BEEN CAUGHT!

I still say nothing. This is ridiculous.

So I open my mouth and all I can muster is… ‘No’.

No????? Did I just tell my half asleep son that I’m not his mother? Great, now he is going to be terrified. There’s a stranger in his room in the middle of the night.

Perfect. I’m the boogie man.

So, because I’m clever and a quick thinker, I add – ‘I think – umm – maybe, you’re dreaming’.

I think you’re DREAMING?! Come on, Hannah. What was that?!

I slid my arm out from under his pillow and backed slowly out of his room while his eyes followed me.

I closed his bedroom door and walked back to my bedroom. My husband, apparently not thinking I could screw up something so simple, inquired as to the whereabouts of the tooth…

‘I don’t have it’ I said.

‘You don’t have it?

‘I don’t have it. I couldn’t find it. He woke up, I told him I wasn’t his mom…I don’t know…it got weird’.

So Clint walked down the hall to have a go.

A few minutes later, he walked back in…no tooth in his hand.

We failed.

The next morning, we awoke to Tucker crying in his room because the tooth fairy hadn’t left him money…

Clint, dollar bill in hand, stuck his hand under Tuckers pillow and made the switch then convinced Tucker he had just missed it.

So, here’s a recap:

Tucker looses a tooth.

I tell him I’m not his mother.

I try to convince him he’s dreaming.

Clint is unsuccessful.

Tucker cries because the tooth fairy hates him.

We convince him that HE IS THE CRAZY ONE.

If ever you were worried that you weren’t a great parent, let me assure you, the bar is pretty low.

Xo

Hannah

Riddle Her Violent – Throwing applesauce and yelling.

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Guys. Today I told my daughter that she couldn’t have a napkin and then I threw a handful of applesauce into her little face.

And this isn’t going to be about how I regret it. Or how I was so sorry that I cried. Because neither of those things would be true.

What I am going to talk about is how, sometimes, parents need to just freak the frack out.

Seriously.

As a stay-at-home mom, there are times when I feel like I have to keep it together at every second. Because I’ve been blessed! I have a husband who works his fine ass off at two jobs making it possible for me to raise my kids in the comfort of my own home. I need to be grateful and never be overwhelmed.

And here – before I start getting emails – I AM SERIOUSLY GRATEFUL. Most days. I really am. My husband is an incredible man (blog in progress) and I am constantly amazed by what he does for our family.

But an important lesson I have learned is that my being overwhelmed does not negate my appreciation for our position.

I love staying home. And all those stay-at-home moms who say things like ‘I don’t sit in my pajamas and watch TV all day’ are either way better moms than I am…or they are liars. Because there are PLENTY of days where that is precisely what I do.

And then there are days when we leave the house bright and early and don’t get home until it’s time for sleep. Life is anything but consistent for us. And I love it that way!

But it is NOT always a walk in the park. I have a baby with growth issues and therefore have therapy appointments for him six times a month. And I have a two year old little girl who has more energy than the tazmanian devil and hasn’t stopped whining in four months. Then there is our eight year old who is by far our easiest child, but still requires general maintenance.

There are times when staying home is not a walk in the park.  Times when I start googling job openings and wishing I had a place to go where I could have adult interaction and alone time in a car.

But those times do not mean that I don’t appreciate what I have.

But real life is messy and there are days…days like today. Days where I wake up with no electricity and a little girl who is potty training and won’t poop in the dark. Days like today when my youngest won’t do his PT exercises without weeping into my arms. Days like today where I throw applesauce at my daughters face.

After hours of listening to her whine and watching damn Caillou get away with murder and then crying because he doesn’t have any friends…I lost my cool.

The Little Lady had dropped a spoonful of applesauce on the kitchen counter and was demanding a napkin and I lost it.

I just lost it.

Plain and simple. Before I knew what I was doing, I had thrown a handful of applesauce right at her little face and was YELLING that she couldn’t have a napkin.

Yep. I did that.

Did I feel good about it? SURE DID!

Did I apologize? Not right away.

Was it my shining moment as a parent? Hopefully not.

Throwing applesauce at Charlotte was not the best call. And, when I had cooled, I was gentle and kind. I wiped her face, gave her kisses, and explained that whining and throwing things were both unkind ways to get attention and that we both needed a timeout. So I sat in the corner with her and we took a timeout.

Look, as parents it is so easy to get caught up in maintaining this sense of togetherness. Like we are emotionally together all the time. Like we have perfectly balanced meals three times a day and our kids are too perfect for us to ever lose our cool. We tend to feel like if we need to step away from our kids, be adults, enjoy alone time…that we have somehow failed.

But look what happens when I go too long without my alone time! I throw applesauce at my kids!

At the end of the day, it is so crucially important that parents and non-parents alike are taking the opportunity to breathe in and out and be calm.

The universe is a messy place. This planet is the worst of them all. And, if we let ourselves skip moments of calm, we are all going to start imploding.

Today I threw applesauce at my daughter. Tomorrow I won’t.

I mean, we are out of applesauce.

-Hannah-

Riddle Her Labeled – Knowing when things have been ass-tainted or are safe for human mouths.

I want to be clear right off the bat –

I am not a dramatic person.

Everyone who knows me – SHUT UP!

I am not a dramatic person. I am just more in tune with reality than everyone else.

So, when news hit that we had confirmed Ebola cases in my area, I bought one hundred and sixty dollars worth of Lysol disinfectant, a tarp to wrap my kids in, and a bomb shelter.

When my friend’s son had the chicken pox, I started analyzing freckles to make sure they weren’t growing.

When my neighbors best friend’s dog’s vet’s assistant’s boyfriend had pinkeye, I knew I was next.

But when my daughter had a snotty nose and diapers that looked like natural disasters, I held her close and gave her kisses on demand. Because the likelihood that I would fall ill didn’t matter when she was begging for mom-mom to read her a story and kiss her forehead.

Days of drainage finally slowed and we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it happened.

I was sick.

I was sick in the sickest way. Sex appeal was high when I was tired of wiping my nose on my sheets and, instead, just shoved toilet paper into my left nostril. I boycotted showering because I was flipping between freezing cold and piping hot and was afraid the water streams would hurt my skin.

I was a vision of beauty.

It was in the midst of this beauty that it occurred to me that my sudden urge to talk to the smiling lampshade might actually be the work of a fever and not just residual wine effects.

And that’s when it dawned on me. It’s a realization that I feel compelled to warn other parents’ about before it’s too late. Before you are feverish and needing answers.

We are parents, and every thermometer in our house has been up someone’s butt.

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FIVE THERMOMETERS! And every single one of them has been inside of a child.

There ain’t enough bleach and vinegar in the world.

The white hot flame of a scalding fire wouldn’t make me okay with sticking one of those poop-sticks in my mouth.

That’s what parenthood is though, isn’t it? It’s deciding that you’d rather be sick next week than let your child go without a kiss today.

I’ve started to realize at this point in parenthood that the decisions I make now are decisions I never even thought about facing in my pre-kid life. And I seriously value the forewarnings from fellow parents.

That’s why I am telling you all now how GRAVELY IMPORTANT IT IS that you all go, RIGHT THIS MOMENT, and label your thermometers.

Seriously.

I’ll wait.

Okay, done?

Good.