Category Archives: parenting

“Being a Mom is Great” Moved to SoapboxMom.com!!

It’s official!

The Being a Mom is Great blog will now be called simply, SOAPBOX MOM!

Soapbox Mom Avatar

So, BMG Mom (aka bimmgee) is now soapbox mom or “SoapB” or Soapbox or soap!

Please join me over there now at soapboxmom.com.

And, when you find it, please let me know you did by leaving a comment.  As always, I appreciate your support!

😉

Also, if you’ve been so kind as to include me on your blogroll, please add me back as Soapbox Mom (and if I’ve lost your site, just let me know and I’ll be sure to add it right back onto my blogroll)!

Thanks!!

See you on the soapbox!!

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Filed under Children, Entertainment, family, Fun, games, life, parenting, personal, Thoughts

When You Have a Bad Day…

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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My blogger friend over at Missives from Suburbia recently wrote a terrific post about how feelings originate from either fear or love. She presented a challenge to her readers to watch how we talk to and treat our loved ones and then make rational choices instead of impulsive ones. I took that to mean that I should consciously choose love over fear, kindness over harshness.

So today, the starting point for this challenge, I started my day in a fine way, with a smile on my face, newspaper in front of me, coffee in hand. Then the kids start acting…well…a little revved. Goofy, silly, loud, talking too much about farts and butts, you know, being just a bit overly wild. I chose to ignore it all (well, except when I reminded them of our rule of no potty talk at the table), but as for the other stuff, I just kept telling myself, “Give ’em a little bit of slack today. They’re so happy…they’ll be on their way to school soon enough…” (as I felt the beginning pangs of a headache).

Stressed Woman

I quietly slipped into my room to get dressed, pulled on one of my favorite sweaters, and got ready for the day, urging myself to believe that there are no bad days, only bad moments. Each moment we make a choice (or many choices), and I was determined to choose to keep moving forward, to keep things in perspective and most of all to just be aware of how my state of mind affected my choices.

Then I noticed a hole in my favorite sweater. When did that get there? Rats. Take that off, put on some other shirt. Whatever. Keep going. It’s just an article of clothing. As my day continued, it just kept getting worse and worse (I won’t bore you with all the details, let’s just say it involved PMS). It reminded me of that picture book I recently reviewed on my radio show, called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. You know, where everything seems to be going wrong and the bad moments continue throughout the day.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By dinnertime, I was really cranky and couldn’t muster a smile for anything. So I tell the kids to just give me some space. “I just want to check a few things online and then I’ll start making dinner,” I explain. So, I’m at the computer when I hear the first few notes of a song from the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks. I look over to my right and see my son holding a tablespoon like a microphone while he lipsyncs the words (he recently discovered how to do it and is pretty excited to fake sing to all kinds of music in a hammy, performing kind of way). It’s pretty darn cute.

Anyway, so I glance over and notice he’s there, but I keep typing away on my keyboard. Then I glance again and notice that he has no intention of moving. Oh, no. He’s standing there as if it’s the stage in the Kodak Theatre and I’m his audience of thousands. He’s still looking right at me.

I know, sometimes it takes me a while, but I finally realized that this wasn’t just a quick snippet of a song, rather he was trying to pull me out of my funk. So I stop typing and get into the moment…this precious moment that somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I recognize I really need right about now.

I turn toward him and see his eyes looking at me in a way only your own child can. I can’t help but smile. He’s lipsyncing to the song Bad Day but instead of Daniel Powter singing Bad Day, it’s the one from Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Alvin’s version of the song, Bad Day

It’s working. My cranky-wall cracks ever so slightly and I start to smile, but just a little grin.

Then, at just the right moment, right at this big crescendo, my daughter slides into view (on her knees, doing a sweeping slide that finishes with her left arm swinging up into the air for dramatic effect). She, too, holds a tablespoon mic in her right hand, and joins my son in the lipsyncing extravaganza. Our dog feels the good vibes (or something) and trots over happily, wanting to share in this jubilant affair.

The whole performance is enough to make me stand up at the end, with a huge grin on my face and a really warm feeling inside, wrap my arms around both of my kids and just revel in this amazing moment. The kids are absolutely beaming. They know what works for me, how to make me smile, what can bring a smile to my face (as long as I choose to let it in).

How can all that translate to you? Well, I could say, “You should buy the Alvin & the Chipmunks tune, have your kids learn the words to Bad Day and sing for you.” But that seems like asking a lot and wouldn’t necessarily translate.

No, I just offer you this: when you’re having a really lousy day (like Alexander’s or like mine or whatever kind of day is your kind of bad day), dig way down to get to that place where you can throw off the mask that we often hide behind as adults and then look at your kids. You know, really look at your kids. If they’re not singing, then try to imagine them singing. Or pick up a picture of them when they’re asleep or when they’re being their most adorable.* It will melt you and get you back to a place where you can more easily choose love, compassion and kindness. The place where your heart wants to be. It’s a glorious place. Really. And it’s the key to getting past those bad days moments.

More4Kids photo

Love’s hard to beat.

It’s moments like those that make being a mom really, really great.

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Images from Amazon and Google Images (including the one from here).

*This reference is to a post from another one of my blogger friend’s blogs, The Busy Dad Blog within which he shows a great picture of his son, affectionately referred to as Fury, at one of his most adorable moments. See what I mean? Makes you melt…and hopefully will do so even more when it’s your own.

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Is This Sport?

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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My daughter has been playing basketball half her life. She plays well and has a good time doing it. She opted not to play travel ball so she could just have fun playing it without the intensity and competitiveness of travel teams.

Recently, however, we experienced something that may have changed her approach and overall state of mind with respect to the sport. The crux of the problem? A parent.

In this particular game, she was playing really well. In fact, I was amazed by a few of her shots. It looked like she was being moved by some greater force or something. I mean, she floated down the court and, in one case, hit a shot from the three point line, using only her right arm, flinging it in with nothin’ but net.

Nothin’ But Net

It was beautiful.

She was having so much fun.

Until a dad from the other team apparently decided that the three high school girls coaching his daughter’s team weren’t doing their jobs coaching his daughter. He stepped in and took over, intimidating the girls and getting his face right in all of their faces. I couldn’t hear what he said to them, but my daughter’s teammates overheard him say to his daughter, “You see that #23? Whatever you do, don’t let her take a shot!”

He barked his orders and sent out his attack dog.

We’re talking fifth and sixth grade girls, here, people.

I was keeping the clock for the game, which meant I was sitting next to a dad from the other team, who was keeping the stats and the score in the official game book. He and I had been engaging in friendly chatter for the duration of the game. When Attack Dad turned his daughter into Attack Girl even scorekeeper dad noticed. He said, “Wow, she’s being pretty nasty.” He told me about how he believes that a lot of parents try to live through their kids and work out whatever they were unable to accomplish in their own childhoods. Sure, I’ve heard that and believe it. But, geesh!

At one point, when the girl had excessively elbowed my daughter (and had the bruises and cuts to show for it afterward), she asked Attack Girl, “What are you doing?” Attack Girl responded harshly, “It’s called playing a sport.”

Well, that’s not the way I’ve been taught to play sports. Or the way my kids have been taught to play sports. Certainly not girls’ basketball, anyway. And certainly not in elementary school.

After four fouls called on his daughter, my daughter went to the drinking fountain, shaken, crying and battered. Scorekeeper dad nudged me and said softly, “Er, I think your daughter’s crying.” Sure enough, he’d pushed her to the point of tears. She walked over to me. I hugged her and could feel her shaking. She showed me her cuts and said, “Mom, I’ve never played with someone so mean.”

The coaches took my daughter out for the rest of the game.

I didn’t know how to handle this situation. Attack Dad stands at about 6’3″ and fiercely glares at people. I don’t think it’s my imagination. During that game he looked fierce. Should I have gone over to the guy and said something? If so, what? Would that have really solved anything? The coaches were apologizing, the referees were apologizing, even scorekeeper dad apologized. He told me that his dad coached his basketball team when he was a boy and that, in his opinion, that girl was way over the top. There were definitely moments when it was all I could do to hold myself back from running out there and getting between them.

It was just awful.

I know I’m a bit of a lightweight and hate conflict, but I’m also a sports lover and appreciate the pleasure one can get from playing a good competitive game. But this? This incident was not sport.

I looked over at the guy and scowled in my own kind of glaring way, but then I remembered the hockey player’s dad who killed a guy. So, I decided to walk away. It’s what my daughter wanted to do, too. She said, “Mom, I just want to leave. Please.” So I wrapped my arm around her, held her close and walked out the door.

She really hasn’t played the same way since that game. I can’t help but wonder if she subconsciously fears more attacks, so she’s pulling back a bit on her level of play. Better to fit in than to be attacked (?!). I hope not. I hope the Attack Family did not win by intimidation. But, on the other hand, maybe my daughter has a point when she says we should start thinking about tennis.

Tennis Court Clip

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Images from Google Images and El Conquistador.

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Filed under Children, family, girls' basketball, parenting, personal, sports

My Day in Detention

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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I’m not a big fan of chewing gum.

When I was a kid, the only time I ever served detention was in eighth grade. Standing in the cafeteria, right next to the assistant principal, I cracked my gum…several times. It was a bad habit.

I stopped chewing gum after that and I’ve tried to avoid buying it for my kids. I blame it on the aspartame. “Oh, sorry, can’t buy that. Has aspartame.” Then my kids found this great gum at Trader Joe’s called Glee Gum.

Glee Gum

The gum pieces are small squares, so it’s much better than chewing those huge clumps of bubble gum and it’s not filled with all kinds of weird chemicals. I’m not crazy about Tic Tacs (the flavors seem a little…off to me and I always feel like I need to eat a handful to really satisfy the mint craving), so I thought this would be a good way to deal with coffee breath. I grab the little box whenever I need a little breath freshening. Harmless so far, right?

Well, the other night, the kids and I were driving back from my daughter’s chorus practice. The car was filled with music, chatter, and laughter when suddenly “Crack, pop, crack!” everyone froze. My daughter looked at me and softly asked, “What was that?” We don’t chew much gum in our house. I looked over at her like I was a teenager caught with a beer in her hand. “Uh…well…that? Yeah, well…it must have been part of the song.” She kept looking at me then slowly started grinning — you know, that slow “gotcha” grin. “Noooo, I don’t think so.” Grinning a little more. Then, “Are you chewing gum?” Brief pause. “No, wait, did you just crack your gum?”

They know all about the eighth grade experience. That’s partly why they were surprised I was even chewing it, but cracking it? That was the dirty deed. The black mark. The cause of my detention.

My daughter’s right at that age when she watches everything I do, analyzes it and records it in her “notes of mom” mental diary. I felt as if I could see the little teeny pencil in her head furiously scribbling an addendum.

“Isn’t that what you got detention for? Back in eighth grade?” My daughter is in middle school right now. She can relate.

“Um, well, yes.” It’s funny how memories take us back so much that we almost feel like that little kid all over again. Embarrassed. Humiliated.

Somebody somewhere (I hope!) is probably saying, “What the heck? You just popped chewing gum? What’s the big deal?” It’s all relative, I guess, so just insert your own transgression.

Anyway, so there I am, trapped in a car, in a very awkward moment with the kids wondering what I would say next. Would I spit out the gum and say, “Yeah, boy, I should have learned my lesson back then. It’s just plain rude to the people around me to pop gum. Sorry. Bad example.” and move on? Would I say, “That’s right, kiddo. Never mind! I’m the mom so I can! But you…don’t even think about doing it…ever!”

Nah, I took the middle road.

“Why, yes, I did,” I calmly replied.

Then my son chimes in, “How did you do that??”

So that’s all this is about. They’re fascinated at a new trick they want to learn. Hmm…okay. Different dilemma now. Do I say, “Never mind. You shouldn’t do that, so you don’t need to know.” Or should I teach them how?

I took a deep breath and told myself, “This is where you need to let go. I mean, you work for years and years with your kids to try and instill a sense of good judgment so that one day, when they’re chewing gum, standing next to their assistant principal, they’ll know what to do. They’ll make the right choice. They will have learned from you. Er, well, from your mistake. Even if they’re chewing the forbidden gum and they know how to crack it.”

So, I said, “It’s simple. It’s like blowing a bubble, just backwards. Flatten out the gum with your tongue and your teeth…”

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We Don’t Have to be Mother Teresa…

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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Mother Theresa of Calcutta

I confided in someone (whom I considered to be a wise elder) that mothering was exhausting and all consuming. I wondered aloud whether I could make some time to do some things for myself without feeling guilty. I mentioned that I had read some articles about how it was important for parents to take care of themselves and that doing so would actually help the whole family because the happiness of the parents directly related to the well being of the kids. This well intentioned friend said, “Well, look at Mother Teresa! She does everything selflessly. Why can’t you?”

That conversation kept me down for about a week.

Then it hit me (thank God!). I am not Mother Teresa, I’ve never held myself out as anything close to Mother Teresa, and I don’t even want to be Mother Teresa!

My bottom line is this: I am convinced that parents need to take care of themselves and continue to develop themselves fully as human beings in order to be the best parents they can be. This means that we need to nourish ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I heard Oprah’s doc, Mehmet Oz say that we need a balance of good nutrition, happy mental states (meaning finding whatever makes us feel joy and allowing ourselves to engage in it regularly), and healthy sex lives. I completely agree. My hubby often reminds me of that spiel the flight attendants give on the planes — if the plane’s going down, you need to give the oxygen to yourself first and then give it to the children. Well, this is the same kind of thing. We need to take care of ourselves first (to a reasonable degree) and then our fulfilled, nurtured selves can be more fully present for our kids.

So go out and do something for yourself today (without harboring an ounce of guilt). See what happens. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe it can be the start of a whole new attitude toward parenting. Or maybe you’ll just have something to look back on to help you through a trying day.

As for me, I just know this: I’m going to keep telling myself that no one expects me to be a saint (well maybe that one old friend) but I’m lowering my standards and I’m okay with it. Actually, I’m more than okay with it. I’m happy about it.

Have the courage to be imperfect and the wisdom to not even attempt to be saintly.

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Messages to Our Daughters – Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

You might want to preview the video below when no kids are around. My blog is generally family friendly, so I wouldn’t normally post something like this, but I was so impressed by the video, I wanted to share it. I love pretty things and beauty as much as the next person, but I think marketing types are exploiting women’s desires to be attractive. I wish we could be more accepting and less judgmental. I wish we could celebrate aging gracefully and be beautiful by eating healthy food and engaging in whatever forms of exercise we enjoy (e.g., playing tennis, walking the dog, taking long walks with loved ones, etc.). Instead, we’re bombarded with falsified images which we’re supposed to strive to emulate.

As always, it’s up to you whether or not you click “play.”

Fairly intense and dramatic, but really, what are some of these companies doing to our girls? Heck, to us?!

Food for thought…

BTW, the video (“Onslaught”) is part of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. You might be interested in some of the tools they provide on their website.

One of the tools is the image manipulation test shown below. The test is targeted to girls 11-16.

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty - IMT

Thanks to jlogged.com and her friend, Tracee at traceesioux.blogspot.com for posting the “Onslaught” video on their blogs (or I probably never would have seen it).

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Filed under Culture, family, life, parenting, Thoughts

It’s Time to Change the Focus

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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My relationship with my kids is at a milestone. I can sense it.

I used to control everything the kids did. I scheduled their days, arranged their playdates, transported them everywhere and made sure they were fed. As they get older, they, understandably, want more control. They want to interject their opinions and vast (from their perspectives) knowledge and wisdom. It’s tempting to be offended by their assertions, but I’ve come up with a way to handle it that averts any insult to my ego.

When they were younger, their mindset originated from an insecure, fear based perspective. In other words, when they made a mistake, they’d be quick to think, “Oh my gosh, is Mommy mad? Did I disappoint her?” The focus was on me. But as time passes, it simply can’t be about me anymore. There must come a point in time where they begin to work on themselves, where the focus is on becoming a better person to be able to function out there in the real world.

The focus must shift to the child. My goal is to get my kids to ask themselves something like this, “Hmm. That didn’t work out so well. Okay, next time I’ll try something different. So, what did I learn from that experience? How did it help me grow?” We believe that mistakes are a good thing. They function as a tool to help us improve ourselves. Try something. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Learn from the mistake and move on. Let it go. Chalk it up to a life lesson. Acknowledge the improvement in your self.

It’s sort of like focusing on the solution rather than the problem.

When they’re all caught up in wondering whether they disappointed me or their dad, I see them slouch and look devastated, their confidence goes down (along with their self esteem) and they can often spiral downward into a sort of “I’m such a bad kid” kind of mentality. Well, gosh, who wants that??

On the other hand, if, when they make a mistake, they stand back, look at what happened and fix it, they can focus on their accomplishments and their successes. Then they’ll stand taller with heightened self esteem and more confidence.

And, eventually, when it’s time for them to step out into the world on their own, they’ll be much better able to handle all the trials and tribulations that come their way.

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