MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

Ghosting – New Parent Style January 2, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 2:43 pm
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This past year I’m sure you’ve all seen that viral post that went around, ‘An Open Letter to My Friends Who Don’t Have Kids’ ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janie-porter/an-open-letter-to-my-friends-who-dont-have-kids_b_5823776.html ) and how much we, as parents, suck at maintaining social lives, or even basic adult interaction, away from our progeny, for the first few years. I’ve seen the article linked at least 10 times from various parents on my social media accounts usually with a quick note about how ‘We still ❤ you guys!!’ followed by a bunch of sappy emojiis.

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Work should not be your only ‘kid-free’ time!

As a parent, however, I have a problem with the whole essay. I think it’s a half-assed explanation to try and excuse the awful behaviour that ‘new’ parents tend to fall back on. An easy way to write off the tired #sorrynotsorry reasons why we can no longer function as the courteous, invested friend we were before we got knocked up. The letter even ends by admitting our friends deserve better and thanks them for their patience This honestly comes off sounding like our friends are waiting in queue for some type of friendship technical support,

“Thank you for your patience. Your friendship is very important to us. Please continue to hold until we’re able to tear ourselves away from our children long enough to celebrate your successes or listen to your sorrows, etc.”

Are you kidding me?? How dare we, as parents, try to blame our declined invitations, early bailouts and missed phone calls/text messages on a tiny kid, who for the most part, sleeps on and off for 80% of their day in the first six months.

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Baseball is a great date!

Urban dictionary defines ‘Ghosting’ as the act of ceasing all communication in a relationship with the hope that the other party will get the hint and stop trying to text/call/hang out. A relatively new phenomenon in our ‘tech savvy’ age and can easily be applied to both unfortunate Tinder dates AND new parents. Although new parents tend to not be fully aware that they’re actively sabotaging what could be years long friendships… blindly assuming the other party will still be there when they emerge from ‘new parent’ hibernation.

Now, we’ve all done it, so admit it. We’ve used our kids as an excuse to either back out of an event, leave early from a function we didn’t want to attend, or even as a reason for not responding to emails/texts. But kids are an excuse like any other…childless friends just need to get more creative. But you know what happens when your kids are finally old enough to realize that Mom and Dad aren’t the be all end all? Your friends have moved on! After numerous last minute cancellations (Omg Baby just WOULDN’T sleep last night!), declined hangouts (I couldn’t possibly ask ANYONE else to watch my child for 2 hrs…including my partner!) or ignored messages (Well I was going to reply…but I figured you wouldn’t appreciate a text back at 3am while I was up feeding Jr) your friends have found people who actually care and want to hang out with them. I know your whole world revolves around your children but theirs, let’s be honest, does not. They also have needs and desires and when you suddenly stop acting like you care, why should they put their plans on hold until you decide you can act like a normal human being?

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Definitely didn’t take our kids to the outdoor music festival last summer…

When you’re expecting your first child, you’ll get lots of advice about how you shouldn’t let your child take away from your marriage or relationship. ‘Make sure you still take time for yourselves!’ your Aunt/cousin/co-worker will tell you at your baby shower! Well your romantic relationship isn’t the only one that will need life support as your children grow. Your friends need your time as well. And they want to know you still care about THEM too! That means that when you do finally drag your ass out of your house for a quick coffee or even a phone chat, that you take some time between delightful anecdotes and stories about your baby to ask them how their lives are going! Parenthood has a phenomenal way of making Moms and Dads self-centered conversation hogs. Remember conversations are a two way street involving input from ALL parties…if you just want to wax poetic about the fruit of your loins start a blog (*cough*)

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See?!? We do have time to look at our phones!! 

Every time you cruise a mother’s board or FB group I can guarantee you’ll find at least 2-3 posts revolving around ‘Poor Me! My friends have abandoned me! They don’t understand what my life is like right now!’. Hate to break it to you sister but they likely have no idea because you haven’t made an effort to contact them or hang out since you saw the double line on your pregnancy test beyond a generic invitation to your baby shower/sprinkle/’sip and see’ to pump them for gifts.Ask yourself, honestly, have you been a good friend? Have you reached out with calls or texts to see how their lives are going? Spoiler Alert: The answer here is probably a big fat no.

Part of being a functioning adult is being able to balance many different relationships in your life. It’s admittedly a juggling act and having a baby is one more ball you have to keep in the air, but in order to have a well rounded and healthy life you need to invest yourself fully in all aspects. This means being able to parent and work (if you so choose), and build/maintain fulfilling relationships with your significant other, children AND friends. Trust me, they love and care for you too but in today’s society it’s rude to call you out on your child obsessed self-centeredness without coming off like an uber bitch. If you don’t put in the effort why should they? Just because they don’t have kids doesn’t mean they’re chalk full of free time in which to hound you for scraps of your time.

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Dressing up is good for you!!

Just in case you’re a bit rusty…here are some tips for being a good friend as a new parent.

  1. Return texts/emails/phone calls – maybe don’t call at 3am for a chat but at least a quick text indicating you got their message goes a long way.
  2. Make ‘playdates’ for yourself – Everyone needs a little social time! Even nursing moms can take an hour for coffee once a week to reconnect with the important people in their lives. I’ve done it so don’t try and feed me a line about how you couldn’t possibly….
  3. Ask about your friend’s lives – Don’t dominate the conversation with Jr’s latest milestones or bowl movements. Your friends have lives, worries and stories as well…
  4. Don’t ‘Mommy-jack’ social media – Not everyone’s FB updates, tweets or Instagrams lead back to your kids. Celebrate the milestones in your friends lives without bringing up the fact that you had sex…congrats by the way!
  5. If you make plans stick with them – Unless one of you is violently ill (and I’m talking Norwalk Virus proportions or lice…) follow through on plans to meet up! Nothing pisses people off more than last minute cancellations.
  6. Don’t assume your kids are invited everywhere – This a HUGE one! Although your friends are excited and happy for you they don’t necessarily see your baby as your ‘plus one’ to every single event going forward. Some get-togethers just aren’t kid friendly (eg spa days, adults only birthday parties etc) and they will likely not have made arrangements to ‘baby-proof’ the venue. Also taking your kids is an automatic attention-divider. Your friends want to catch up with YOU…not try and carry on a conversation between diaper changes and feedings. Even if your friends have kids of their own don’t assume everyone is bringing theirs. I’ve found that if kids are welcome it’s usually explicitly stated in the invitation.

I will note that I am by no means perfect. I’ve definitely awkwardly brought my first son to an otherwise adult event (now that I have two I actively seek events that are for grown ups only!) and I’ve been that ‘bad friend’ who has let friendships lapse while I lie on the floor in sweats feeding my toddler Gerber puffs. However I’m learning and actively trying to do better…call it a New Years Resolution for 2016! Good luck Mommies/Daddies – Let 2016 be the year we’re not complete knuckleheads!

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Mommy ‘Support’ Groups: An Insider’s Perspective from a Recovering Addict: April 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 9:25 pm
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Think you’re a good parent? Think again. Just join a mother’s forum or group on facebook to find out 20+ reasons why you’re doing it all wrong and your child or children as the case may be are probably going to bankrupt you in their teenage years based on the cost of their rehabilitative therapy.

I figured I'd include a few pictures of the things we do as parents that would make other parents' heads explode. Yes we sometimes wake V up at night because we miss him and we want cuddles.

I figured I’d include a few pictures of the things we do as parents that would make other parents’ heads explode. Yes we sometimes have V in our bed at night because we miss him and we want cuddles. This is not going to make him live at home until he’s 40.

With all of the reports on ‘bullying’ in the news nowadays I think the general population sees it as an issue for the up and coming generation of primary and high-schoolers. However I can attest to the fact that I have never experienced a more judgemental and (at times) mean group of people as other hormonal, insecure mothers looking for validation of their child rearing methods on an open forum. God forbid you don’t support their particular flavour of the day be it: co-sleeping vs crying it out, cloth vs disposable diapers, stay at home parenting vs daycare to name a few and don’t even get them started on the big four: home vs hospital births, non-circumcision vs. Circumcision, vaccinations vs. non-intervention and breastfeeding vs formula.

At Easter I totally fed my toddler a Cadbury Cream Egg as part of his breakfast. He enjoyed every second of it, the mess was hilarious and it will not make him an obsese mama's boy.

At Easter I totally fed my toddler a Cadbury Cream Egg as part of his breakfast. He enjoyed every second of it, the mess was hilarious and it will not make him an obsese mama’s boy.

With the advent of the internet and social media parenting has evolved in a way our parents couldn’t have imagined. All they had to deal with was cranky in-laws calling them or dropping in to tell them how they would have done it. Now, lucky us, we have a whole sisterhood of new, empowered mothers who have strong and ‘researched’ opinions on every aspect of daily life during pregnancy, with a newborn, toddler and on! I’m not saying I never got any useful advice from the forums, absolutely I did! What I am saying is that the drama and bad vibes eventually outweighed the supportive culture that was imagined when those groups were formed.

We allow V free access to our phones, Ipads and TV. He is a tech-savvy little 2 year old and although it has increased his vocabulary and communication skills, it has not made him a social recluse or incapable of interacting with others.

We allow V free access to our phones, Ipads and TV. He is a tech-savvy little 2 year old and although it has increased his vocabulary and communication skills, it has not made him a social recluse or incapable of interacting with others.

Parenting, as I see it, is as individual as clothing taste or food choices. You’ll never meet anyone wearing the same thing as you, ordering the same meal at the same time at the same restaurant, so why do you expect every other parent to raise their children the way you raise yours? We all have the same goal of course: to raise intelligent, polite, active, independent and productive members of our society. Definitely a tall order, but if your parents did it all on their own, don’t you think you can do the same without 100 strangers commenting on what you fed your child for breakfast and how it will make him or her fat/lazy/autistic/diabetic, etc? We have enough to worry about without a bunch of additional voices throwing out ‘worse case’ scenarios.

French Fries? Only V's favourite food and eaten in moderation isn't going to make him diabetic or malnourished.

French Fries? Only V’s favourite food and eaten in moderation isn’t going to make him diabetic or malnourished.

To top this all off, the best part about the internet is that anyone can find ‘research’ that matches their particular viewpoint. And we all know how everything ever written on the internet must be true! When it comes to the debates on parenting forums you’ll, without a doubt, find all different view points linking to some various website that sells their particular brand of crack. And somewhere in all of that heated debate (and no-one can get heated like a mother who feels backed into a corner!) you’ll have someone mention ‘Well we couldn’t make you feel guilty about something if you really felt strongly about the decision you made. If you feel bad it must be because you realize you made the wrong choice’. Cue epic meltdown mode….

Is that my kid sitting on our coffee table playing with Harold? Sure is. Fully supervised. And guess what happens if he falls off? He bumps his head and doesn't do it again.

Is that my kid sitting on our coffee table playing with Harold? Sure is. Fully supervised.

Now I realize that it is hard to bite your tongue when you think someone is tell you you’re being a bad parent. Raising a child is one of the most amazingly powerful things you can do as a human being and you never want to think you’re screwing it up. Nothing will ever make you quite this defensive. Everyone always says how you want your child to have everything you never had and if you think you’re messing it up already at 3 months of age, how will you ever succeed? Let me tell you a secret: No one has it all figured out…really….it’s true. We’re all going in blind and learning what works best for our families and children as it goes along. For example: yes breastfeeding is awesome, but if your milk doesn’t come in, you suffer from PPD, your kiddo has a bad latch or just plain isn’t interested, it’s not going to make them a serial killer. Just buy some bottles the kid can stand, pour the formula (and yes generic brand is just fine and using tap water won’t give them lead poisoning) and enjoy your well deserved glass of wine.

Sometimes getting a toddler to eat his dinner involves barganing and picking your battles. If he'll eat between feeding bites to the cat and talking to Elmo, I'm in!

Sometimes getting a toddler to eat his dinner involves barganing and picking your battles. If he’ll eat between feeding bites to the cat and talking to Elmo, I’m in!

I have recently given up facebook groups and internet parenting advice sites. I finally realized that although I read them on a daily basis I rarely, if ever, actioned any advice I received and at least one post a week left me disappointed or angry. Not a healthy environment! I decided that going forward I was going to be confident in our decisions as a family and if I needed advice get it the old fashioned way. My mother-in-law raised 5 amazing, successful children and my parents should be very proud of the job they did with myself and my siblings (a lawyer and a financial wiz-kid – yup I’m a proud big sister!). Their advice is golden and they’re not afraid to tell it like it is. I also have amazing friends who are parents and it definitely encourages more healthy interactions for me and V by organizing play-dates and picking their brains from there! A week in and I’m more confident and content than I have been in a long time! This parenting thing is only as hard as you make it….but ask me again in a month or so okay?

Do I take away his Pooh Bear during the day? Nope! I understand that yes when he goes to school he won't take it with him but right now he's 2 years old and it gives him comfort.

Do I take away his Pooh Bear during the day? Nope! I understand that yes when he goes to school he won’t take it with him but right now he’s 2 years old and it gives him comfort.

Now if you feel that these groups are essential to your strategy as a parent, do what feels right! I’m definitely expressing my views but have no need to bring others over the ‘dark-side’. I just have a few pieces of advice (which you are free to ignore) that will help you navigating those treacherous waters:

1. As said across the internet: Don’t feed the trolls!
– Some mothers will jump on the controversial post bandwagon just to get others going. When you have to say to yourself ‘Wow…that escalated quickly’ this is probably going to be a thread deleted by the moderator shortly with a reminder to play nice with the other moms. Resist the temptation to pound out an angry response on your keyboard, take a deep breath and walk away.

2. Know what you believe in and have confidence in it! All advice should be taken with a grain of salt
– You and your partner, or yourself if you’re one of those super-amazing single parents, made decisions for your pregnancy, for your newborn, toddler, primary-schooler, etc based on your values and beliefs as individuals. Whatever decision you made is the right one regardless of what any stranger might tell you. Imagine you’re sitting in the mall and some random person approached you and told you that the brand of stroller you picked was terrible, the company made the shade out of kangaroo skins and you must hate your child because it only rated #4 on the all-time safety list. How would you react? Personally I’d look at them like they were nuts and then move quickly away from the crazy person. Treat online forums the same way. Everyone has an opinion but it doesn’t mean what you did was wrong.

3. Don’t be ‘that parent’. Think before you post
– Trust me there will be posts that make you roll your eyes. Just don’t be the jerk who replies and makes the original posting parent feel bad. They’re just having a bad day or insecure moment and need someone, anyone, to tell them they’re doing okay. You took your baby to the ER because you accidentally fed them an organic, fair-trade, gluten-free granola bar that contained traces of honey the day before their first birthday and you’re afraid you gave them botulism? Sounds totally reasonable to me. If you really must post, just send some virtual hugs and best wishes, they really don’t want to hear anything else.

4. Don’t ask for advice if you’re already made up your mind.
– It will just make you insecure and angry. Especially if it is one of those divisive issues mentioned before. If it does pertain to one of those aforementioned topics be specific and expect to hear some flack. Eg. “For those mothers who choose to cloth diaper: Which brand do you prefer?” or “We have made the decision to use a daycare: How do you interview a home-daycare provider?” This does help guide the conversation so the responses are more useful to you as a parent!

5. Balance Online with Real-life and other Sources!
Seems like a no-brainer but make sure that you’re getting your parenting advice from a variety of trusted sources as well. Whether you prefer a paediatrician, family doctor, naturopath, midwife, etc, all of those people are experts in their field and are there to support you as you support your child. Friends and family are also a life line, along with parent drop-ins and a good old fashioned parenting book or magazine. Remember how in high school your teacher wouldn’t take your bibliography if every source was from the internet? Apply the same strategy to your parenting skills!

Now I’m sure this blog post will have some mothers chewing their nails and wanting to pound out that angry response, but if you enjoy those groups and find them useful for gaining child-raising tips have at it! This post reflects solely my opinions and I’m living them without guilt or second thoughts. All I have to ask is that you respect and value all of the opinions of the other mom’s out there. We’re all in this together!! And yes I do realize the irony of me posting an opinionated view of parenting forums on a blog dedicated to parenting….

A 2 year old with a bottle? The world as we know it will surely collapse under our feet. Or he'll have a sip of water without spilling it down his front and traveling in soaking wet clothing...whichever...

A 2 year old with a bottle? The world as we know it will surely collapse under our feet. Or he’ll have a sip of water without spilling it down his front and traveling in soaking wet clothing…whichever…