Sunday, March 4, 2012

Love You Forever

Love You Forever is one of the most touching books I have ever read.  It made me cry even before I had children and pulled at my heart in ways I didn't know was possible once I had.
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.
The beautiful message in this book is the reason it has sold over 15 million copies since it was published in 1986.  If you're not familiar with the story, the mother sings the above song to her son as he grows through the years. From the difficult two year old who flushes things down the toilet, to the wild teenager, and then even as a grown man, the mother sings to her son while she rocks him in his sleep without him even knowing. She loves him, unconditionally. In the end, the mother grows old and ill, and she is no longer able to hold him and sing. So the son lifts his sick old mother in his arms and sings to her. Then he goes home and sings to his sleeping baby.

I'll love you forever.  This was the quote paired with the photo below when I first saw it and it couldn't be more fitting.

I'll love you forever.  Powerful words with a powerful photo.

So many things run through my head when I stare at this photo.  I wanted to know more about them.  Who was this man?  How long had he cared for and carried his mother?  I searched, but I couldn't find the story that this photo had originated from.  All I could find was a reference someone made about an article that said this photo was of a man taking care of his mother while they waited in the waiting room of a hospital in southern Taiwan.  But it really didn't matter, the photo said all I needed to know.  I'll love you forever.

Not all love looks the same, but I see love in this photo.  We all love in our own way.  I don't sing this song to my kids, but I love them forever when I carry them.  When I wear them on my body, letting them see they are still a part of me.  That I am always there for them.  I love them with my words.  With my kisses and hugs.  When I sleep with them.  When we snuggle.  Nurse.   Read.   Play.   Smile.   Cry.  With discipline, not punishment.  With my respect for who they are.  Respect for their anger.  Fear.  Expression.  Making sure their emotionally needs are taken as seriously as their physical needs.

I don't know what kind of mother this woman was or what kind of home this man grew up in.  Maybe he only cares for his mother out of obligation.  But I choose to believe it is devotion, not duty, that motivates his actions.  That it's love that compels him to carry his mother in a sling.  The child carrying the parent, returning the unconditional love he has been given.  I see love in this photo and a man that cradled his mother in his arms and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my Mommy you'll be.
I'll love you forever.  It isn't always easy.   My kids drive me crazy more often than I'd like to admit. I'm sure they are going to challenge me in all kinds of ways as we experience growing pains together. No, it's not going to always be easy.  I can't imagine it's easy for that man.  But even if it's sometimes hard, even if sometimes I don't like the choices they are making or path they are on, I know I will always be there.  I will do my best to stand with them when they need a friend, behind them when they need support, in front of them if they force me to and even carry them when they need me to.

I'll love you forever. This is how I hope to parent. This is how I want to love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

AP Ryan Gosling

Okay, okay, I couldn't help myself!  There have been so many fun "Hey Girl" Ryan Gosling photos circulating lately that I couldn't resist wondering what an AP Ryan Gosling would say.  So here it is, hope you have as much fun with these as I did!

Image found at:

Image found at:

Image credit: Ivan Nikolov/

Image found at:

Image found at Celebuzz

Image credit to Warner Bros., found at:

Which one is your favorite?  What do you think AP Ryan Gosling would say?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Babies Don't Cry

I recently just read an incredible article on called Why African Babies Don’t Cry. If you haven’t read it, you should, but in summery, it’s about a woman who leaves the UK to return to Kenya to have her children. In the UK, it was widely accepted that babies cried, but in Kenya, there was a completely different expectation, therefore the expectation of how she should respond were different.

This article got me thinking, what if we changed our expectations? What if we no longer expected babies to cry? How would we, as a culture, react differently?
Imagine, it is common knowledge that babies don’t cry unless they have a need. Here’s what you might expect to see in a world where that is accepted as fact…
At birth, baby is given to mom immediately and not whisked away needlessly for unnecessary bathing and procedures. Two week old babies are held and rocked for long hours while mom looks lovingly on her tiny baby asleep in her arms. Her baby is not put on a schedule and forced to stay awake when tired or wait to eat because it’s only been twenty minutes. Instead, they are fed on demand when their little bodies tell them they are hungry and allowed to cat nap while waking just long enough to see that they are still safe in their mother’s arms.

Items like swings, bouncy seats and pack-n-plays are reserved for short periods of time while baby spends most of the day in a sling or baby carrier while their parents tend to their responsibilities. Babies watch their parents’ faces and the world around them instead of staring at mobiles and dangling toys while getting moved from container to container.

Babies will be gently parented to sleep with rocking, bouncing, singing, back rubs, and anything else it takes to keep baby from crying. They will sleep in the same room as their parents and mothers will often wake and feed their babies at the first signs of waking, long before their baby would actually need to cry to communicate their hunger.

Shopping gets done while mom talks and sings happily to her baby in the shopping cart. She makes eye contact and smiles letting her baby know that she is still right there. When her baby starts crying to eat, she stops and takes a seat in one of the many available so she can hold her baby while she feeds them. People will walk by and smile and the only odd looks will be for the mother who leaves her baby in the shopping cart with a bottle propped in their mouth while she goes about her shopping.

New moms will hear advice like “he’ll be so much happier if you hold him” and words of support like “I think she might be hungry again, you should nurse her”. Mothers will learn to trust their instincts and respond to their baby’s needs because it will feel right. Babies will know their attempts at communication will work. They will learn to trust their parents to meet their needs, not be taught that their needs aren’t important. They will grow and thrive knowing they are safe and loved.
Imagine that world. Chances are that is not the world you live in, I know it’s not the world I live in. But it is the world my baby lives in and I know many other babies that are being raised in a world where babies don’t cry. Your baby can grow up in that world too! It’s amazing what can happen when you just change your thoughts. If you stop assuming that all babies cry, stop accepting that as fact, then your response to that tiny cry is very different. You would respond immediately when it happened and do things differently to avoid it happening to start with.

I believe this change in belief is what we are seeing today. Thirty years ago, it was widely accepted that babies cried. Mothers that nursed on demand or held their babies were “spoiling” them. You can still hear a lot of this thinking today and it’s still all too common to hear people talk about leaving their babies to cry because they need to learn to self sooth. But more and more parents are refusing to accept this type of thinking and are finding a new way to parent. Attachment Parenting and other gentle parenting styles encourage parents to respond to their baby and teach them that a baby’s cries mean something.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “What a good baby! He never cries!” only to have that same person question if he was really hungry again or shouldn’t I put him down now that he was asleep? It was amazing to me how I always felt like I had to defend my parenting all the while everyone seemed so impressed with how happy my baby was. They really didn’t get it. But I knew there was no reason for my baby to cry and I did what I could to make sure I didn’t give him one!

That being said, my second child was colicky. That was one of the most difficult times of my parenting life. I cannot tell you how much I felt like a failure. Luckily I was able to realize she was intolerant to cow dairy and once I stopped eating it (I was nursing and passing it to her through my milk), my baby became much happier. But my point is that sometimes some babies do cry. There may be a hidden reason, like with my daughter or some kind of medical reason, but there are some babies that do cry more than others despite what you do. Please know that you are not a failure. Just love and hug them and hold them while they cry and be glad that you are their parent and not one of those people that believes a baby should self sooth and suffer alone. Also, your baby is not going to be scarred for life if they have to cry for a minute while you use the bathroom, brush your teeth, or shove some much needed food in your mouth, though hearing your tiny baby’s cries when you are post partum may hurt worse than giving birth! I’ll also add that at least two of the above can be done while babywearing and some of us have done all three!

So welcome to the world where babies don’t cry and enjoy it…
they don’t stay babies for long!

For more reading and resources, check out these posts:

Maniulation or Communication?

Letters from Baby: Please don't let me cry

Why I co-sleep

Gift of Babywearing

Monday, September 5, 2011

I don’t want to hear about it!

I never realized how polarizing parenting can make people.  I am a very tolerant person when it comes to politics and religion, so I never would have thought it would be how people choose to parent that would bring out my intolerance.

In the beginning, I just felt like I was doing what worked for me and everyone else could do what ever they felt worked for them.  But as time went on and I continued to become more and more educated about attachment parenting and gentle discipline, the more and more it became harder to hear about the choices other people were making with their children.

Now I find it is better to just avoid talking about parenting styles at all costs with my friends.  But recently, a friend of mine insisted on sharing this great parenting tip with me.  I was adamant that we shouldn’t talked about this, but she really felt this was amazing advice that her pediatrician had given her and that everyone needed to know.

She then proceeded to tell me about how she had brought her baby into bed with her while he was so everyone could get some sleep.  I was relieved when I thought this meant she had realized how great co-sleeping could be for the whole family.  But that quickly faded as she explained to me that now the baby only wanted to sleep in their bed and how the pediatrician had explained to her that she needed to break this habit immediately by leaving her baby to cry at night.

I instantly felt sick as the images of my friend’s sweet little baby boy screaming alone in the dark flooded my mind.  It was made even worse when she told me how he had cried for an hour in a half straight one night! 

I couldn’t believe what she was saying!  This was the great advice she needed to tell me?!  This was exactly why I begged her not to talk about this!  My perception of who she is has forever been altered by the cold reality that she left her baby alone to cry and was proud of it.

This actually happened to a friend of mine, not me.  But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all day.  My friend was so upset that she had lost a friendship over this, but she couldn’t get passed the reality of her friend’s choices.

I know I have many friends that do things I don’t agree with, and for the most part, that’s fine with me.  I recognize that it is often just ignorance that allows them to make these parenting choices and that they love their kids and want the best for them as much as I do for mine.  So I share bits of information when I can and try to set a good example in hopes that maybe something will rub off on them.

But please, don’t talk to me about parenting!  I don’t want to hear about how you let your baby cry until they gave up, spanked your toddler for playing in the dog water again, or sent your kid to bed without dinner because they said they hated meatloaf and pushed their plate across the table!  Please, keep your stories to your self.  Because there is a good chance I will loose all respect for you if I hear what you have to say.

I know this may seem hypocritical of me since I sometimes might say how great breastfeeding is, or how much I love co-sleeping.  But I don’t care if you think I’m some crazy, overly sensitive, attachment parent.  My advice isn’t encouraging anyone to emotionally damage and neglect their child.  I’m not telling people that violence and fear are good tools to correct unwanted behavior.  So if you don’t care that I might think you are an uneducated, controlling bully, then keeping telling me your stories proudly.  But don’t expect me to respect you in the morning.

More reading:

Parenting Redefined - Letters from Baby: Please don't let me cry
Parenting Redefined -  Manipulation or Communication
Parenting Redefined -  The real pain of spanking
Peaceful Parenting
The Natural Child Project
PhD in Parenting

Saturday, June 25, 2011

10 things I miss

I knew when I had kids that things were going to change.  Every parent-to-be knows that they are going to miss getting an uninterrupted night of sleep, but there are a few other things I really miss.  Some I was expecting, but a lot I was not.  So here's a list of 10 12 things I miss since having kids.  If you haven’t had kids yet, here’s a glimpse at things to come.  If you have kids already, well, at least you know you’re not alone!

#1 My brain
Don’t laugh, it is so true.  Ask any mom out there, a little part of our brain must come out during the birth of each child.  So if you think “pregnancy brain” is bad, just wait!

#2 A “normal” living area
If you haven’t noticed, babies come with a lot of stuff.  As they grow, they get other stuff and stuff ends up in just about every corner of the house.  And if you have more than one child, you get to add big kid stuff to the baby stuff and it gets even more interesting!

#3 A real purse
I never liked carrying purses before kids and now I wish I could carry a purse!  But purses are small and light and can’t possibly carry the amount of stuff you need when traveling with kids.

#4 Alone time
No, I am not talking about alone time with my husband, I’m too tired to worry too much about that.  I am referring to alone time in general.  I’m not even asking to have time to drink coffee and check e-mail in the morning, I’d settle for just being able to go to the bathroom without an audience or someone knocking on the door!

#5 Eating hot food
At least when we only had one baby, my husband and I could alternate who got to eat dinner first.  I thought once my baby got older though it would be easier.  Boy was I wrong!  And now with three kids, I am lucky if I get to sit down before everyone else is finished eating.  I also miss tasting food.  When I do finally sit down, I eat as fast as I can because I know someone is going to need me before I can finish.

#6 A clean floor
Even if you are one of those super parents that can keep their house clean (I am not one of those), kiss clean floors goodbye.  No matter how neat and careful your kids are, and most are not, you will constantly have food on the floor.  And to make it more interesting, add a crawling baby that puts everything in their mouth to the mix!  It is a full time job to keep your floors clean.  There has been much success reported when using a dog, but that also leads to more messes that have to be cleaned, so you pretty much break even.

#7 A long shower
I really miss those.  If I actually do manage to get a shower alone, I am usually rushing through it as fast as possible because I know I am on a count down.  Someone at some point is going to need me before I am ready.  It may be the baby is hungry or tired, someone fell and busted their head open, or maybe someone just stole someone else’s toy.  But I promise, before I can shower, dry off, and actually get dressed, someone is going to need me.  So I really miss those days when I could just stand in the shower forever and not worry about anything.  Although for some reason, my husband can still manage to do it.

#8 Watching TV
First, you just don’t have time to watch tv.  But if you do find time, you will find that there is very little that you want to watch that you are okay with your children also watching.  So tv time gets mostly limited to after kids go to bed and by then, you are tired and will probably end up there soon.  Long movies can be even harder to squeeze in, but these work well when broken into parts that can be watched on different days.

#9 Swear words
Not an important one, but I still miss them.  Or at least the ability to use them without having a parrot ready to repeat it 20 times for the next week after you accidentally spill the milk.  And FYI, toddlers learn words before they know how to say them.  So just a little piece of advice, you might want to clean up your language before they start talking.  Take it or leave it, but you’ve been warned.

#10 A day off
A day off is pretty much impossible once you have kids.  If you can manage to pull one of these off, it will be the last one you get for a long time, so treasure every second!  And don’t even think about a vacation.  Vacationing with kids is fun, but it’s actually more work than staying home.

UPDATED:  I thought of a couple more and had to add them...

#11 Talking on the phone
Children are part of some kind of conspiracy to keep their parents from talking on the phone.  Babies are born with special skills that allow them to cry the moment you put the phone to your ear.  Then as soon as your child is old enough to reach, it's really over.  I don't know what it is about phones and remotes, but babies must have them!  And as they get older, they develop a sixth sense that allows them to hear you dial a number from anywhere in the house.  The most affective tactic is to be as loud and distracting as possible so that it becomes more work than it is worth to try to continue your conversation and you give up.

#12 The snooze buttonThere isn't a morning that I don't wake up wanting just 5 more minutes.  But unfortunately, kids do not come with snooze buttons.  They also do not come with pause buttons, on/off switches, or volume controls.  What they do come with is the uncanny ability to push every button that you do have.  Oh, and they also NEVER run out of batteries!

Are the parents-to-be totally freaked out yet?  Don’t be.  I promise, it is ALL worth it!  Don’t believe me?  How about this: even after learning all this with the first baby, I still chose to do it two more times.  If that doesn’t convince you… just wait, you’ll see!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My daughter likes pink

When I would see all the adorable pink baby dresses at the store, I always complained how much cuter the girl clothes were compared to the boy clothes.  Then, when my daughter was born, she wasn't a day old before friends and family started showing up with cute little pink outfits.  But something strange happened that I hadn’t been expecting… I got so sick of PINK!

Actually, to say I was sick of it is not putting it right.  I got upset about pink, everything it represented, and the fact that it was everywhere.  Just walk into a store, any store, and you will find isles where it looks like a pink sparkly princess puked all over EVERYTHING!  The clothes, dolls, toys, there are even special Lincoln Log and Lego sets for girls in appropriate girly colors!  Made me sick!

Gender wasn’t something I had thought much about when my son was born.  Though we don’t have a gender neutral household, we didn’t believe in silly gender rolls either.  I wasn’t concerned about raising my son to “be a man”.  I knew there was nothing wrong with a boy that needed to cry or wanted to play dress up.  Whether he chose to participate in sports or not would be his choice and if he wanted his toenails painted like mommy, that was okay.

So I was surprised how strongly I reacted when my daughter was born.  It wasn’t the color itself that had me so upset, it was the fact that from birth, my daughter was being pushed into being a cute little frilly princess whether that's who she wanted to be or not and it pissed me off.

So I told myself (and everyone else) that my daughter didn't have to be a princess.  I went on a huge rant about how we weren't going to buy her dolls or Barbies unless SHE asked for them, and not one day sooner.  We would let her be who she wanted to be and decide what she was interested in without pressure from us.

As she got older, her spunky personality came shining though.  She ran around with her short bob haircut and never wore dresses.  Instead she wore stained pants and tennis shoes since you don't put a frilly dress on a 2 year old that wants to play in the mud.  She was naturally interested in cars and trains just like her brother and I secretly felt proud of my little "Tom girl" and felt like I must be doing something right.

And then, something strange started happening, again.  Before I realized it, my little girl started becoming girly!  She started picking out the pinkest, most sparkly stickers at the store.  She chose a dress when I let her pick out anything she wanted while we shopped with her brother.  And then one day, she announced that her favorite color was pink!

Pink?!  How could she do this to me?!  I was shocked and upset when I realized just how girly she was becoming.  I felt like I had failed her, let society tell her what she should like and who she should be.  I didn’t do enough or go far enough to keep this from happening.  I was so disappointed.  But then I had an epiphany.

Yes, one year for Christmas my daughter got 5 dolls from people as gifts (apparently that is what you buy little girls).  Yes, she currently has six pink shirts in her closet from my mother.  And yes, society does tell our girls they should be proper little princesses.  But then I realized that the problem was not princesses, sparkles, ruffles or the color pink.  The fact that my daughter liked these things did not mean that she had to stop being herself.  She still enjoyed playing in the mud after all.  She could still go on to be who ever she wanted to be, she would just be someone that also happened to like pink!

It also helped to remind myself that my son also loves pink and things that sparkle!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's just easier

I have heard so many women say they don’t know if they are going to be able to breastfeed.  It just seems like so much “work” and “bottle feeding just seems easier”.  Easier?  I think someone may have given you the wrong idea!

There are many reasons some women choose not to breastfeed, but please don’t be fooled into thinking formula and a bottle is going to be “easier”, because it’s not.  I can’t imagine using bottles regularly!  I am not trying to be sarcastic here, I seriously don't know how so many women do it!  "Breast is best" and that may be true for baby, but it is also very true for me.  I find breastfeeding so convenient and easy, and the idea of having to schedule feedings, prepare and clean bottles, and do this all day and night long is enough to cause me serious anxiety.  I am so grateful I have been able to nurse my kids.

True, in the beginning some women can experience some difficulties and discomfort when first nursing.  The first couple weeks of nursing are spent with both mother and baby learning to breastfeed and it can be harder for some mother/baby couples.  In these situations, finding a good lactation consultant as soon as possible can be the difference between breastfeeding success and failure.

But once breastfeeding is established, it becomes the most convenient and easy thing to do.  It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, you have milk for your hungry baby at a moments notice.  Anybody that has had a baby crying for food knows you can’t feed them fast enough.  Listening to them cry while your prepare a bottle sounds like torture!  Sure, Most of the time you probably get the bottle ready before they start crying, just like I usually nurse before they are that hungry.  But there are those times when baby wants to and I am so grateful in those moments that all I have to do it pull up my shirt.

So do I nurse because it is better for my baby?  Yes.  Do I nurse because I enjoy the bonding experience it provides?  Yes.  Do I nurse because it is the natural way my instincts tell me to feed my baby?  Yes.  But I also nurse because it is the simplest, fastest, most convenient way I can feed my baby no matter what is going on in my crazy life and I need that!  Why make my life more complicated than it already is?  Besides, I’m lazy!