My Girl’s Getting Older and It Hurts Knowing This Won’t Last Forever

By Josh Braff  

In 2003, a little girl joined our family. She’ll be 12 this summer. Unlike her older brother she likes pastel colors and random giggles. Her room is purple with unicorn-themed bedding and a cotton candy lampshade. Her hair-ties shimmer of glitter and some of her socks do, too. —

She laughs a lot and says it feels good to do so, and only recently began brooding, returning to silly spells on the carpet, like a turtle on its back. Her addition to our chemistry is immeasurable, her desire for the tips of her hair to be blue, immense.

Dad and Daughter

“Hey, crazy turtle. You do your homework?”

“Turtles don’t need algebra.”

“Sure they do.”

“Nope, ask any of ’em.”

“Do turtles take showers?” my wife asks.

“Not me, man.”

We wait and she uncoils, and ends up with her chin in her hands. “Can I get a turtle?”

We find them in the back of Petco. She names the first one Instant and I laugh, thinking of “in an Instant,” admiring the ease at which her mind locates humor. She then names the second guy Coffee.

Instant and Coffee live in a tank with rocks and sludgy water which will get yuckier if we treat it right. They eat real greens that they reach with outstretched necks. At bedtime the two of us are alit by the glow of the tank as we snuggle before she sleeps. We decide Instant is the older brother and in a heartbeat my daughter says, “But only by a hair.” I sit up and look down at her.

“What?” she says.

“That’s funny.”

“Thanks.”

It’s easy to see my mother’s face in my daughter’s. She has my wife’s forehead and chin, and it appears an even more evolved sense of humor than my own, a tool I’ve used to respectable success in my prose. Who will she become? How will she use the gift?

Before her existence I’d only begun to learn what selflessness could bring me.

For my daughter, the bouts of quiet thought appear almost heavy for her, as if she must sit to take it all in. I have empathy for someone who will need to navigate her life as I did. The road may be steep, but the humor will both hurt and help her. She can use a phrase or idiom she heard once, maybe a year ago, and apply it perfectly, originally, with the confidence one saves for reciting their phone number.

As of late she’s sinking into the pubescent vortex. I sense a higher propensity for more acerbic and questionably age-appropriate wit. She’s tired, cranky, unmotivated, and staring at me right now. I touch the wrinkles above my eyes because that’s where she looks.

“Am I chewing too loud?” I ask.

Her eyes close before her head slowly returns to The Shawshank Redemption, her new favorite movie. I slowly sink my two front teeth into the apple but leave them there. It’s going to be hard to continue the bite without making noise. But I try.

“Just eat it, Dad. Eat it already.”

“It’s loud food.”

“You’re loud. I’m trying to watch this and all I can hear is your jaw and teeth.”

I stand with my apple and walk to the kitchen. I take a giant bite and look at the blond ponytail waving at me from the couch. I play with memories of us. Times when my eating was less intrusive. I toss the apple in the garbage and walk back.

I attempt foolishly to snuggle with her, as we’ve done a million times, but she growls and turns her shoulder. I find my own chair. Morgan Freeman walks the beach of Zihuatanejo and findsTim Robbins atop the fishing boat. The credits roll.

“You know what I love about this movie?” my daughter says.

“Tell me.”

“The music. It’s so important, ya know, to the scenes. They’d have less meaning without it. The scenes.”

We have the same color hair and our eyes do a similar thing when we smile. What is this gift I couldn’t have anticipated, where I’m so clearly watching myself at times, in the frame of someone evolved?

The family tree climbs upward through the life cycles and here I sit with my contribution, a branch that’s us and our time here together. I’m luckier than the richest man alive. And it’s something you cannot take from me.

When I was in college I anticipated the dialogue I’d share with my 11-year-old girl after seeing a movie. And then, of course, it happened so often I’d stop thinking of it, letting the surrealism dwindle away.

She’s a movie buff, can watch three in a day, and will discuss them in detail afterwards. When she was ready to watch Jaws at the age of nine, I let her because she wouldn’t stop talking about it. When it ended she announced it was her favorite movie of all time.

Within minutes she’d begun to build not only the shark but the entire cast out of Legos. WhenRichard Dreyfuss was complete, we played for awhile recreating the scenes. I’ll never forget how she wanted to do the human side of the story, the texture out of the water. She saw tenderness, the human element, the very intricacy of art that my life’s work is about.

“You don’t have to go in the ocean,” she says, as we clean up. “It’s not the law.”

“No, but it’s nice. A good part of life.”

“I’m just sayin’ it’s not required.”

“Never let a movie keep you off the beach.”

“Dad. There was visible Elmer’s glue on the shark’s fin. It didn’t scare me.”

I tuck her into bed and we gaze at Instant and Coffee. I think of the final scene, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider are floating on a piece of the destroyed boat. The sky can be seen, it’s been awhile, and the sun is out. The music is relieved, light and airy, and the possibility of a long and lasting life is seen in the splashing of their feet.

I’m absorbing great films I’ve seen before through the eyes of my daughter. Every piece of art has new meaning as I share them with her. Who said parenting was thankless?

“Let’s watch something else tomorrow, Daddy,” she says. “Think of a good one. I’ll think, too. What’s that one you mentioned, Harold and something?”

Harold and Maude.”

“Oh,” she says. “Those are much better turtle names.”

“No. Yours are perfect.”

“Then when I get fish. Harold and Maude. OMG.”

We watch it, and I can’t believe how long it’s been. The film is rich with humor and pathos, and has a Cat Stevens soundtrack throughout, leaving each scene dripping with the recoiling of war and the tenderness of his lyrics.

My daughter turns to me about ten minutes before Ruth Gordon takes the fatal pill, the pill she never warns Harold about. I feel empathy for where she must go but will not warn her. What’s a better lesson for a lover of stories than to be witness to the fragility of humans from a safe distance? How do I keep Harold and Maude from a girl who recognized the brilliant human elements of Jaws, without ever being scared of the shark?

She loves stories, characters, humor, plot angles. Maude takes the pill, Harold screams and races to get her in an ambulance. Cat Stevens sings the song “Trouble” as Harold’s Jaguar/hearse revs high over the wailing sadness of his voice.

Trouble, trouble set me free / I have paid my debt now won’t you leave me in my misery. I haven’t got a lot of time. I have to go there. Just let me go there.

My daughter’s eyes are filled with tears but she stares ahead and swallows, twice.

The film ends with Harold playing the banjo Ruth gave him. The love of his life is dead. But he’s alive. As with Jaws, the ending is a flash of optimism, occurring in the waning seconds of catastrophe. And isn’t it best that we brace for such lessons in a life?

My daughter is silent and still as she watches the credits. We don’t say anything until we reach her room.

“Harold looked like one of the Beatles,” she says.

“I agree. The hair. The pale skin.”

“That was funny but very sad.”

“Yeah. Emotional.”

“I loved it. But it made me really sad.”

I open the turtle tank and touch Coffee on the shell. “Maybe tomorrow we’ll watch something really funny. You seen Caddyshack, yet?”

“Nope.”

“I think you’ll like it. There’s this gopher in it. They use a puppet and …”

“It’s OK to feel this way,” she says. “I don’t feel anything after stupid movies. It’s fun to laugh during funny movies though. But you don’t feel, ya know…”

I can hear her brain churning, flipping through its Rolodex for the right word.

“You never feel like you’re better for it. Better for seeing it or being able to feel it. Like I do now.”

I pull her blanket up to her chin, and stare down at her little face.

“I’m going to watch movies with you forever.”

I kiss her on the cheek and her eyes squint from the smile.

“I wish it was true,” she says and turns on her side.

I’m next to my wife in bed, listening to her breathe.

I wish it was true, she said, fully aware of mortality. We won’t be watching movies together forever. Not even close.

I lean to her in the dark and end up kissing the top of her ear. “Forever and ever.”

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The Real (And Heartbreaking) Reason Kids Get Hooked on Social Media

By Lydia Kickliter

When I was growing up, my parents loved to go to casinos. I became really familiar with something called “gambler’s high.”  I can recall this feeling — a sense of momentary and intermittent euphoria and gratification — as far back as in the game rooms of my youth as I begged my father for another quarter while we waited for my mother to be ready to depart the casino.

I learned about it even more powerfully after I hit my first jackpot on a poker machine in Atlantic City. After that, I kept revisiting poker machines in casinos everywhere to try to get back to that euphoric feeling of being a winner.

The Real Reason Kids Get Hooked on Social Media

Then, in graduate school, I discovered Facebook.

The feelings after I would post something and wait for people to notice were very familiar to me. They felt just like that space right before you know whether or not the ace will be the next card to complete your royal flush.

There is a powerful conditioning situation occurring for all of us when we engage on social media.

If this type of reinforcement is powerful for us as adults, it’s got an even bigger hold on our teens just because of the nature of adolescence.

Adolescence is a time in our lives when we begin to separate from our families. I see it in my 14 year old. He would much rather engage virtually with his peers than relate to us in the ways he has for the last 13 years. It is a normal developmental marker for a child to step out in to the world and try to find his way without his parents (even if it does initiate abandonment issues for us!).

Kids also tend to be risk takers at this time in their lives.

That’s why our insurance rates climb so dramatically after they get their license. The insurance companies know just how risky some of the behaviors of teens are and they capitalize on that.

Putting yourself out there on social media is risky. Especially for a teen. A teenager saying “yes, this is me and these are the things I like,” is one of the riskiest things they can engage in at that time of their lives.

Risk is different for adults. We care less once we get in our 40s and 50s whether or not our acquaintance from high school will agree with our taste in music or our political views. Some of us are even willingly to challenge our friendships by posting the most outlandish thing we can find to share.

But for kids, this is the mother of all risks — the equivalent of sky diving.

“As I step out into the world and away from my parents, who will like me?” Moreover,” who will accept me?” “Am I worthy enough to be part of a tribe?”

It is a rite of passage to create this kind of distress in our adolescence because it is the grounds on which we determine our worthiness. And if we’re accepted, then we will go forth and engage from that place of worthiness and our framework will be one of “the world is a safe place and I am safe within it.”

However, if we are traumatized in this risk taking space or the feedback we get aligns with a belief system we’ve already been trying out; the world can become a scary place.

That scary place is the birthplace of addiction, depression and anxiety.

When we see the world as an unsafe place, our developmental trajectory changes.

Now we see others as meaning us harm and out to get us wherever we go. From that place, we grow angrier every day and before we know it, we’re the 30 year old with raging anger that struggles interpersonally, in our careers and most awfully in our internal lives.

Our children are more prone to navigating the world this way if their caretakers have also been traumatized into believing they are unworthy. When we, as collective adults and young adults, turn to external sources to discover who we are in the world it can get pretty dicey. Teens are predisposed to making a rash decision from one moment that could affect their entire lives. If, as a teen, I am rejected on social media, it is possible that the next 20 or more years of my life could be framed in such a way that I replay rejection scenarios over and over.

I’m happy for my son that he’s brave enough to try his hand at living freely in this world. I feel like I’ve done a good job as a parent giving him the space to grow outside of his relationship to me.

I can’t help but have some concern for him and his peers because I have the perspective of hindsight. While waiting for the jackpot, life has a way of passing you by.

Lydia Kickliter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor that assists teens and adults with finding their internal worth in the world. You can find her at her website.

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10 Bad Behaviors You May Be Teaching Your Kids Without Realizing It

By Alex Alexander

Genetics are only half of the game. The other half: upbringing. You learned about nature versus nurture in your high school psychology class.

Bad Habits You Might Be Teaching Your Kids

Kids are a direct product of their environment, so what happens when parents continuously set bad examples and teach poor behaviors? The answer is simple. Monsters are created. They may be cute little monsters, but they’re monsters just the same.

Nasty behaviors fall across a spectrum and the wide range depends on a person’s tolerance. My husband, for example, gets overly disgusted when one of our children picks their nose. It’s one of the most offensive things on his list. Me? While I don’t find nose-picking endearing, it doesn’t set me off; likely because I’m a teacher.

This is why I’ve left behaviors off my list like butt scratching, nose-picking and farting. Those behaviors may be gross but they aren’t paramount to safety, social acceptance or a prosperous future, unlike the ten behaviors listed below.

It’s obvious. When a parent models nasty behaviors, their children will demonstrate nasty behaviors. Their nastiness will in turn rub off on my kid or your kid, and to be blatant, that’s something nobody wants. So, take note of this parenting advice for things you shouldn’t teach or do in front of your children.

  1. Promoting violence as a solution

I can observe more in a thirty-minute period at the grocery store than I can in one hour of Jerry Springer. A few weeks ago I overheard the most atrocious conversation. It was between a grandma and her seven or eight-year old grandson. She was instructing him to fight.

Granny’s words: “Next time, don’t wait to go tell the teacher. You just hit him right back. Show him you’re not gonna take his crap and then you’ll see that he leaves you alone.” Into the scene walks the young mom carrying a box of cereal. Granny reiterates to the boy’s mother what she instructed her grandson to do. The mother nods her head in agreement.

If a high school student jumps another high school student behind a building then yes, fighting back in self-defense is warranted. But teaching a seven-year old boy to fight back is simply ludicrous. I wanted to run my mouth but decided interjecting my opinion to these two ladies would likely leave me with a black eye and not the turkey and yogurt I had come for.

Unless self-defense is truly warranted, retaliation and physical violence isn’t a better solution than counting on the people in place to protect us. Could this little boy grow into a man who takes matters into his own hands instead of calling the police? Quite possibly. And could that land him in jail? Absolutely. And why? Because Granny and mom taught him to react to violence with more violence.

  1. Displaying poor sportsmanship

We’ve all seen the parent who lives vicariously through the talents of their child and therefore acts overly aggressive on the sidelines — blaming, screaming and cursing. Those parents are the first to say their child’s team lost because of XYZ, but certainly never because the opposing team was actually better.

At my daughter’s soccer game this past weekend, a mother from the opposing team yelled throughout the game, “Get her! Get her!” Seriously? Get my daughter? This isn’t the boxing ring — it’s soccer. Kids must learn to value putting forth their best, not being the best. If you forever place your child on a pedestal, they’ll forever be setup for failure.

  1. Disrespecting authority figures

While we’re on the topic of sports, whether it’s badgering the ref or being combative with the coach, if you’re undermining an authority figure in front of your child then you’re in the wrong. This goes for contradicting a teacher, too.

Kids must learn that everyone makes mistakes, including adults. It’s part of life. If you need to express an opinion, do it in a calm, respectful manner and not in front of your children. By belittling an authority figure in front of your child, you’re striping away any respect your child has for that person. This will make all future interactions more difficult for everyone.

  1. Driving like a maniac

Oh no, you did not just cross a double yellow line to pass me, with two kids sitting in the back of your car. Why yes, yes you did. And here I was already going seven miles over the speed limit. It’s time for some truth serum and l hope you take it before your children get licenses: It’s not OK to break the law and demonstrate road rage in front of your child.

  1. Cursing like a sailor

I don’t like it when I hear a kid say “crap.” Granny from the grocery and many other parents like her don’t see crap as a bad word. But remember, nasty behaviors fall on a spectrum. To most adults and likely all teachers, the word crap sounds foul coming out of the mouth of a babe.

If you keep your own cursing on the down low and censor television appropriately, your youngster will be less inclined to follow the shoes of your talking parrot.

  1. Taking advantage of other people’s mistakes

Although most parents won’t outwardly steal in front of their children, some do it knowingly at the cost of someone else’s mistake. How many times have you realized you haven’t been charged for something while standing at the register? Do you call attention to the mistake and use it as an opportunity to teach your children not to take advantage of another person’s error?

My own mother modeled this when I was growing up. She would go back to stores a week later to pay for things after realizing she wasn’t charged appropriately. If you want honest kids, exhibit honest behaviors.

  1. Being a mean girl

Why should you refrain from verbally bashing other people in front of your children? For starters, if they repeat it to someone they shouldn’t then you’re busted. But more importantly, by doing so you’re helping to create the person in high school we all hated the most.

  1. Texting while driving

When my daughter was six I caught her watching me text and drive. A fear began to linger that she would think texting and driving was safe. Not wanting to be responsible for her future death or the death of someone else at the hands of a cell phone, I vowed to stop texting and driving.

  1. Avoiding general life responsibility 

Holding down a job is important. So is showing up. Taking care of your yard is important and so is repaying debt. Model how to be a productive citizen who cares about and takes care of the community. After all, it’s the community you’re leaving your grandchildren. If global responsibility isn’t transferred from ourselves to our children then our species will become no different than any other of the roaming mammals.

  1. Showing intolerance/apathy for those less fortunate

Leave out nasty comments when you pass a homeless person asking for money. Teach your kids to hold open doors, especially for the elderly and disabled. Help to break down prejudices and stigmas by not perpetuating them. Even if your life is hunky-dory right now, it doesn’t mean it will be forever. At some point in your life you’re going to find yourself counting on others to extend tolerance and empathy your way.

It’s true. We’re all going to blow it at some point. We already have. We’re human. It’s how the term “parenting fail” came to fruition.

But if we want to raise well-mannered, independent and respectable children, then as parents we must display and radiate those same qualities. At least most of the time. At least when they’re watching. Then at least we know we tried.

5 Ways to Raise Kind Kids

Today is World Kindness Day and it’s a great day to take a minute and not only try to be a bit kinder ourselves, but to also think about how we can encourage our kids to practice kindness every day.

I’m a big believer in the saying “Whatever you feed, grows!” KIND Snacks just launched a program that literally FEEDS KINDNESS! I love it!

Spread #kindawesome!

KIND Snacks has launched a brilliant way to celebrate acts of kindness everywhere! Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Spot someone being kind.
  • Step 2: Send that person a #kindawesome card.
  • Step 3: Poof! The #kindawesome card is redeemed for a KIND snack and another #kindawesome card to pass along.
  • Step 4: Then, that #kindawesome card is passed on for another kind act. and so on. and so on. and so on. YAY!

World Kindness Day

I have a 13-year-old boy. As I look back on my years in Jr. High, it seems as if teenagers forget their manners . . . quickly. I want him to be a kind and respectful person (even as his hormones, friends, and his burgeoning independence might make him forget sometimes).

The other day I dropped him and a friend off after carpool. One of our neighbors was hauling in garbage cans (phone in one hand and trying to manage multiple garbage cans with the other). Without skipping a beat they both grabbed a garbage can and helped pull them up the driveway.

It’s a little thing. It’s one of those things we should all think to do. But I’m glad they thought to do it – without being prompted.

So today, I sent him a #kindawesome card from the HowKindofYou.com site. He’ll probably get that by 3rd period today when he checks his email. I want him to know that I noticed.

Redeem Your #kindawesome Snack!

I’ve tried to make a habit of reinforcing this kind of behavior in my kids in small ways. Little things like:

  • Hey – I noticed you ___________ .  That was awesome!
  • So and so told me they noticed that you did _________. Thank you!
  • I love that you did ________ . You’ve got such a good heart!

Every time it lands right on their heart. They feel it.

Whatever you feed grows. So I try to feed the good things in our kids and in our lives.

5 Ways to Raise Kind Kids

Looking for more ways to feed kindness in your kids? Here are 5 simple things you can do to increase kindness:

Spot Them Doing Kind Things and Tell Them

Like I said above, whatever you feed grows. Be sure to point out the little (important) things you notice them doing.

Spot Others Doing Kind Things and Talk About it

Example is the best teacher. It also doesn’t hurt to have your kids see you complimenting and noticing kind (important) things about other people.

Encourage Random Acts of Kindness as a Family

There are so endless ways your family can be kind to others. The internets are chock full of great ideas if you go looking. Check out the book “Make and Share Random Acts of Kindness” it’s full of fun, simple, ideas that your family will love.

Teach Teamwork

When my kids are fighting I often assign them a chore to do together. Our new favorite idea is to throw them in a “Get-Along T-Shirt” together and make them do the dishes! Last weekend, after a long day of fighting they were sent to the roof to help their dad clean out the rain gutters. They came down happy as clams (which also probably had to do with the fact that they were allowed to go on the roof).

Ultimately, learning to work with someone else is one of the most basic important building blocks of kindness.

Practice Gratitude

Sometimes, we literally need to practice. Gratitude makes us more optimistic, less self-centered, and increases our self esteem. All things that link back to kindness.

Start a family gratitude journal, make a habit of talking about the things you are grateful for around the dinner table, show your kids that you are a grateful person. It’s the little things!

What do you do at your house to encourage your children to be kind?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by KIND Snacks. All of the opinions are our own. Feed Kindness!

4 Ways To Measure Kids’ Success That Have NOTHING To Do With Grades

By Dr. Sabrina N’Diaye 

Like most parents, you probably dream of academic and financial success for your children. You also want your kids to become noble, honorable citizens who make substantial contributions to the world. So, how do you know that you’re on the right path guiding your children to success?

4 Ways to Measure Kids Success That Have Nothing to Do With Grades

Put another way — what is the best way to measure your success as a parent? 

If you’re like most parents, you probably use the same metric to measure your success (and your child’s) as the rest of society … your child’s grades!

And the pressure on you to make sure your kids “measures up” is intense. Which, of course, results in you often placing a great deal of pressure on them. Report card time is fraught with tension, often ending in the usual “numbers fight,” even when their grades are pretty good:

  • “Oh no! Your GPA is down to 3.2! You’re not applying yourself enough.”
  • “Wow, 3 As and 2 Bs. Great job. (pause) So … how do we get those Bs up?”
  • “You have so many Cs. You’ll never get into a good college now!”

That pressure intensifies each time family, friends, co-workers, etc. ask you “How’s the family? How are the kids doing in school?” Translation: “Do your kids measure up? How are you doing as a parent?”

Believe me, I understand how this feels. This subtle language of numbers and calculations to measure our children’s success hit me hard last spring, as my oldest daughter wound down her junior year of high school. Suddenly, people from all walks of life felt compelled (and entitled) to casually ask my child, “So, what’s your GPA?” Or, “What were your SAT scores?”

I wondered what would happen if I’d turned to all of those well-meaning adults and responded, “Well, I’ll tell you her scores as soon as you tell me your salary … Oh, and how much you weigh … How much is in your 401K … and what about your FICO score?”

If it’s rude to ask an adult about the metrics that allow us to judge them (salary, weight, age, credit score, etc.) … why is it not rude to do the same to our children?

Questions about other people’s salaries and evaluations are taboo enough in the adult world that asking can result in termination in the workplace. I think such questions about our kids’ grades and test scores should be terminated at soccer games, music recitals, and Thanksgiving dinner as well.

As an integrative psychotherapist, each day I witness the impact of people feeling that they do not “measure up.” I know how the underlying social messages of judgment, shame, and resentment directly contribute to anxiety, depression, and stress-related chronic illness in the individuals being assessed. People, including children, suffer a great deal from physical, emotional, and spiritual illness when others impose on them an external, arbitrary measure of their value.

So what can modern, well-meaning parent do to help our kids be successful withoutmeasuring that success with false benchmarks (like grades)?

  1. Encourage effort 

Educator and blogger Chris Crouch describes grades as, “inflated, poor communicators of success,” that directly contribute to the loss of intrinsic motivation that we’re currently witnessing in our school systems. Success researcher Carol Dweck encourages parents to praise their children for effort, rather than high grades.

When your child receives a grade that is lower than their expectation, explore their learning process. Ask questions about how they learned. Applaud their desire to keep trying.

Remember to keep your eyes on the aspects of our children’s success that cannot be quantified, such as: work ethic, perseverance, creative vision, connection, and personal insight.

  1. Replace grief with gratitude

Rather than lamenting over your 75 percent student with a 1190 SAT score, focus on the unique qualities that make your child special.

Is she a gifted artist? Does he have a knack for a particular sport? Is he a natural mediator? Does she impart wisdom to her peers? Guide them to pursue goals that reflect their dreams and innate skills, rather than their grades.

  1. Remove the limits on your love

I have several clients who boast of withholding affection from their children as a result of their low grades. This form of punishment simply does not provide children with the intrinsic motivation that they need to do their best. I only love you when you measure up is a toxic message to send a child.

While the rest of the world is caught up in the numbers game, you can change the rules by freely giving 100 percent of your love.

  1. Forgive yourself

Numerous studies indicate a correlation between shame and immune functioning. Don’t make yourself sick over the fact that you did not give birth to the class valedictorian.

If you find that you cannot move past the sense of shame and guilt that you feel over these success measures, then seek help. To your surprise, you’ll discover that the shame over your child’s “failure” is actually rooted in a deeper wound that you experienced long before you became a parent.

One of the most challenging lessons I teach my clients is that imperfect parents are the reality (and so are imperfect kids).

None of us were perfectly parented, and none of us are perfect parents. Yet, we can still find success in life when we release ourselves from the burden of measuring up to  “numbers” and allow our children to “score” our attention and support.

Sabrina N’Diaye, PhD  (pronounced “In-Jie”) is the founder of the Heart Nest Wellness Center in Baltimore, where she lovingly serves women, couples, and other healers. She is also the Clinical Director of the Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, where she designs programs to impact the mind, body, and spirit of recovering addicts and the people who love them. Her approach to healing blends wisdom, science, and ancient spiritual practices. 

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8 Reasons You are Not Just a Mom. A good reminder for all mothers! Funny parenting article about moms.

As a little girl I always wanted to be a Mom. I loved playing house and taking care of my babies. It all seemed like such a dream job. All you have to do is rock a baby, give it love, change it’s clothes, and sing to it. Not a bad gig right? Wow was I wrong!

I never noticed everything my mother had to do. The endless loads of laundry, the meals that had to be made, the tears that had to be wiped, or the wounds that had to be cleaned. Now that I am a mom, I see things in a whole different light. The amount of jobs moms have on a daily basis is out of control. Not to mention there is no parenting class to give you qualifications. How about a nice warning letter in the mail to let you know about the years that lie ahead? Nope, you wont get one so stop checking the mailbox!

Even though it’s hard somedays, I love the many hats I get to wear as a mom. But I cringe when I hear people say,  “I’m just a Mom”. You are SO SO much more then that. Let’s break this down….

1. Cook

Yep you are! Even if all you know how to make is frozen chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. You are planning that meal, preparing it, and cleaning up after it. In my cookbook, no matter what you make you get to wear that hat! Even if they don’t eat the broccoli or green beans.  You made it, so it counts!

2. Nurse

Who  gets up in the middle of the night to clean up vomit, run a cool bath, or give medication? You guessed it, a nurse! There you go, you earned that hat too! Mothers are often just what the doctor ordered to a sick little one. We can make them feel better by just sitting with them and rubbing their back.

3. Cheerleader

It is a tough job sometimes to sit through a soccer game in the freezing cold. But lets face it, we love to see our kids shine. We love to watch them overcome obstacles and achieve great things. It makes us proud and feel like we did something right! So add a set of pom poms to your wardrobe or maybe you need a helmet! Either way You have earned it! GO MOM!!

4. Taxi Driver

Well, if the shoe fits right! All of those hours spent on the road. Getting your kids form birthday parties, school functions, church, friends houses, practice, rehearsal, the mall. You name it we have been there. Often times more then once in a week, maybe even a day. So grab that hat. Hey, maybe we should start asking for tips too!

5.   Counselor

This hat may be my favorite one. It is in the quiet moments, when our kids ask us what we think about a situation that mean so much. It makes our hearts burst with joy. They are listening to us, they value what we are saying. It is ALL worth it! Every yucky moment when we were told we know NOTHING was worth it! Yahoo!! We are not dumb! We are not losers!

8 Reasons You are Not Just a Mom. A good reminder for all mothers! Funny parenting article about moms.

6. Maid

I know, this is the WORST one!! It is a thankless endless job. We just have to be real with ourselves. The chances of every single bit of laundry being done at one time is just a lost cause. It never fails, we have things under control and the house looks good, then all of the sudden a tornado (also known as kids) suddenly appears! The wreckage left when they are gone is just mind boggling. If it takes 5 hours to clean a house, it takes 5 minutes to mess it up. Just a fact… grab your hat and  if you can’t find it,  check under the couch!

7. Lawyer

Our kids are going to mess up. They will make bad choices and we will have to help clean up the mess. We may have to be a defense attorney and represent our kids to a teacher, friend, sibling, or even the other parent. Let’s all just pray these misdemeanors stay innocent like wearing older sister’s clothes, wrecking a friends bike, or maybe breaking dad’s lucky golf club. We have a long road friends, plead the 5th and grab your hat!

8. Teacher

I don’t know what is worse… multiplication facts or spelling tests? Either way we have to help our kids learn them! Long nights are ahead of us, filled with fun things like science fair projects and research papers. This one take everything I got! So better put on that glue covered hat before you make one more single flash card.

Well folks, the list could go on and on. We wear so many hats that we can’t even remember what they all are!

The next time you hear someone say they are “just a mom” please correct them. We have earned our many hats and should wear them proudly! Blood, sweat, spit-up and often tears went into this gift we call motherhood! Now go and make some time for yourself. Give yourself a high five, put on your hat and grab your cape, because every mom has a little SUPER WOMAN in her!

Keep up the good work. We got this!

What hat are you wearing this week?

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The post 8 Reasons You are Not Just a Mom appeared first on Living Locurto.

Pregnancy Time Lapse Video {2000+ Photos in 217 Seconds!}

Mark and Brittany Sherman are living in Tanzania, Africa and documenting every step of their journey, including their recent pregnancy and the birth of their daughter on October 19th.

Little Gracie has been in the NICU but was just approved to go home TODAY!

Mark & Brittany in Africa: Gracie Approved to Go Home From NICU

Congratulations to this cute family! You can follow their adventures on Facebook HERE!

 

The 7 Types of Moms I’m Grateful For

We need all kinds to make the world go round. And I need all kinds of different moms in my world to help me be better at this big crazy job of motherhood.

The 7 Types of Moms I'm Grateful For

The one that I was pregnant with.

Remember that one time I showed up on your porch when I was pregnant with my first. Crying. For no apparent reason. Except maybe that I thought my husband didn’t understand?  And then in a hormonal rage I said some 4-letter words to him? You brought me back down to the planet earth. You were a couple months ahead of me and you knew what was happening.

Thank you.

The one that was less cautious than me, who taught me to chill the *@#$ out.

You know the mom. At first you look at her and you are like what the *@#$ are you doing? And a few minutes later you’re like “I’m a helicopter parent. Maybe I need to chill the *@#$ out.” And then you send your kid off to do the same thing. Maybe it’s walking to the store for the first time on their own to buy treats, or riding some crazy contraption down the street, but we all need that mom who helps us give our kids a little more leash.

Thank you.

The one who watched out for me on the first day of school when I’d come home alone.

You knew. You were there last year. I wore sunglasses all day and you checked in with me multiple times. Sending your youngest off for all day school is a big day that signals big changes. I’m glad you went before me.

Thank you.

The one who introduced me to yoga pants and the proper way to wear them.

Those are the cool kids. The ones who understood right out of the gates that yoga pants are an underwear no fly zone. Everyone needs that friend, the one that you can ask “Hey – do I wear underwear with these?”.

Thank you.

The ones I use my big girl words with.

To those moms that I escape out to dinner in the dark of the night with. The ones who I use grown up words with and giggle until it hurts. The ones who can hear anything, are up for anything, and wouldn’t judge me even if I did wear underwear with my yoga pants.

Thank you.

The one who told me that they think teenagers are fun.

I’m scared. Teenagers are jerks right? I think I was. But that empty nester that told me that teenagers were her favorite of all and told me all of the reasons why? I need to be her.  She gave me a different perspective on the years that are coming for me full speed.

Thank you.

The one that has younger kids than me, and asked me for parenting advice, and then acted like it was valid and useful.

We’re all winging it – but something makes you feel validated when someone trusts you enough to ask for parenting advice – and then actually thinks it was helpful. It makes me feel like I’m actually learning something from this whole parenting journey.

To you, and all of the other moms out there who’ve given me advice:

Thank you.

You Don’t Have to Talk About Your Miscarriage

Listen. I simply didn’t want to talk about it. And that’s OK.

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about why we don’t talk about miscarriages. Miscarriage is a complicated thing full of expectations and shifting perspective. For some it’s not easy to sum up or share with someone else.

I tend to think that most things work out in life. We’ve had plenty of challenging things happen in our lives, but this in particular, I was convinced, would never be OK. I would never be OK with the gap that is in our family. space that was reserved for this little person

I was 11 weeks along. It was 2 weeks before Christmas. We’d all ready bought the cutest little rocking horse to put under the Christmas tree for the new baby and the best present we could give our 3 other children – a little brother or sister.

I had a moment, driving down the street, when I thought to myself “Could I be any happier? I feel like I could burst.” We’d been through several really hard years. The loss of my sister to cancer, a massive car accident and lengthy recovery for my husband, the crash of the economy. Things were starting to look brighter.

Why I didn't talk about my miscarriages.

2 hours later I was cramping. I went to the bathroom and I was bleeding. I knew it was over. I called my husband into the bathroom and we sat there quietly.

The kids were getting the Christmas decorations out to decorate our Christmas tree. I sat in that dark room with the lights of the tree glowing not knowing what to feel, or what was next, but I knew my heart was broken. I absolutely believed there was a little person waiting to join our family.

We’d go through a few more of these moments over the next 18 months before deciding we were done. I couldn’t fathom that I could ever feel OK about any of it. There were suppose to be 4. I had so many reasons to want 4. On top of my own expectations, my children were begging for another little person in our family.

Time passed, and I told myself all of the stories that I needed to in order to come to terms with this whole thing. I have 3 perfectly healthy, perfectly amazing children. 3 is easier to travel. 3 is less expensive. All 3 of my children will be in school now. We don’t need a bigger car. We all sleep through the night. We all go to the bathroom by ourselves. The 4th child probably would have been a jerk. Going back to diapers? Gross.

It’s 3 years later. I’m OK. Really I am. I haven’t really wanted to talk about it because I didn’t know what I had to say. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t want anyone else’s input on that.

The biggest thing I didn’t want? Other people’s expectations. Are they still trying? How are they doing? What’s next? Here’s the number for my infertility doctor . . .

I didn’t need cookies, I didn’t need lunch, I didn’t need flowers. I needed my baby. I needed the story I’d written for our family.

I think a lot of people feel that way. We can be quiet about the things that are that close to our heart. There are some things we don’t need to announce to the world.

These last 3 years have been filled with the things that have stung the deepest parts of my heart. One at a time we’ve gotten rid of things. The crib. The tiny toys. The baby clothes. The idea of another baby. I couldn’t do it all at once. I think I’m still doing it.

So yes, let’s talk about miscarriage more as a society. This isn’t about taboo. This is about space. If you need it, take it. You are not expected to disclose it all. If you sit quietly figuring this thing out on your own and content to keep your silence, it’s OK (and it will get better).

5 Tips to Avoid Summer Brain Drain from Scholastic

We’ve worked together with Scholastic this summer to bring you tips and tricks to keep your kids reading!

Scholastic Power Up and Read Program

With summer in the home stretch we’ve got a few more tips to keep your kids reading until the first morning bell rings!

5 Tips to Avoid the Summer Brain Drain

Our 5 Favorites

Need some new book ideas? Here’s our 5 top picks with 5 word reviews from our summer reading list!

Our 5 Favorite Summer Reads

Add Some Fun! Energizer Instant Win Game

Energizer® and Scholastic are partnering to create the “Power the Possibilities” campaign which gives moms the tools they need to unlock their child’s talents, fuel their ambitions and set them up for future success. Parents can buy any specially marked pack of Energizer® brand batteries to scratch for a chance to win one of thousands of prizes that will power discovery and learning.

Prizes include a family trip to New York City, a Scholastic Study Corner Makeover, a tablet with Scholastic apps, a library of Scholastic books and more! Everyone who plays can also download free digital stories for their family.

Energizer Instant Win Contest

More reading Resources from Scholastic

Scholastic has joined together with ENERGIZER® to power the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge and encourage families to find innovative ways to discover the power and joy of reading. It’s not too late to take part! Now through September 4th, visit Scholastic.com/Summer. Click the links below for a sampling of the fun resources you’ll find with Scholastic:

Find Out More!

Sign up for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

Learn more about the Energizer® Instant Win Game

Follow @Scholastic on Twitter

Like the Energizer® Bunny on Facebook

#SummerReading

* Post sponsored by Scholastic