Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Parenting Magazines vs. Reality

Study says parents spend 21 hours per week actively parenting their children. This blogger says, HA HA HA HA

We receive a big stack of magazines every month, and of those, a large percentage are free subscriptions. I’ve never needed an excuse to read a magazine, although I don’t always fork over the cash for them. Once, when my mother-in-law was trying to describe me to an employee at a library we both frequented, the disappointed librarian exclaimed, “Oh yes! She checks out…magazines.”

Some magazines, like Martha Stewart Living, Dwell, and Inc., I love. Others — like Parents — I find myself reading just because the content baffles me so much.

For instance, a few months ago, Parents ran a Venn diagram of stay-at-home moms vs. outside-the-home working moms. The word “exhausted” was conspicuously absent from the stay-at-home mom’s circle. I rubbed my eyes and looked again, thinking perhaps my sleep-deprived orbs deceived me. But I showed the magazine to two or three well-rested friends, and they saw the same thing. Outside job or not, I think any woman who has brought forth another human from her own body will agree “exhausting” is a mild and kind descriptor.

This month, one of the feature articles in Parents is about hyperparenting. I have no idea what hyperparenting is; but admittedly, I’m still getting used to the idea of the word “parenting” being tossed around as a verb. My Oxford dictionary tells me  n., a father or a mother; but then again, there’s probably a word for people who still own multiple copies of physical dictionaries, too.

I’ve been reading the article in snippets, in between explaining to a small bouncing kangaroo the difference between the clothes in the laundry basket and the clothes in her dresser. (“I not Aveline today, mummy. I just a little kangaroo.”) The author, Gail O’Connor, cites a 1995 University of California, San Diego study which apparently found that “mothers spent an average of about 12 hours weekly actively attending to their children”. The author goes on to say that “by 2007, that number had risen to 21 hours.”

Certainly the author meant 210 hours? Because, in any given 168-hour week, I would say about 210 of those 168 hours are spent actively attending to my child — er, kangaroo.

I started a load of wash, first stopping to gather up Hello Kitty unders from various points throughout the house while once more expounding upon the virtues of the laundry hamper to my bouncy offspring. I then stepped on a Lego, removed a My Little Pony comb from my screeching kangaroo’s flowing locks, and spent the next fifteen minutes explaining that I could not, in fact, miraculously refill the squeeze bottle of Elmer’s despite the pile of farkly [sparkly] beads just begging to to be glued into the coloring book pages.

I turned back toward the coffee pot. I could see the fluorescent light glinting off the stainless steel of the French Press. The miraculous vision blinded me, and I tripped over the magazine. Twenty-one hours per week, it said.

Cold coffee in hand, I moved a pirate and a Lego flower and sat down again to ponder this. Last Wednesday was 24 hours long, five of which I slept, except for the two occasions at 4 AM and 5 AM when I was, in fact, not asleep and instead in my kangaroo’s room bouncing her. (Ah, how the tides have turned.) According to my highly-calibrated mathulator, I logged 21+ hours of “actively attending to a child” on Wednesday alone.

Staring blankly into the bottom of my coffee mug, I suddenly remembered where we had an extra bottle of Elmer’s glue. “Aveline!” I called, holding out the magazine. “Do you still want to glue beads?”

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: When it rains

June 2013 - Hanna Andersson star pajamas and Anthropologie Fables and Feathers beddingIt’s 2 am, and I’m awakened to the sound of a sobbing little girl and heavy raindrops beating against the side of the building. She is teething, the rain’s falling from the swirling fingers of a tropical storm, and my head is tired and groggy. I lie still for several minutes, as if by remaining motionless I could somehow will her back to sleep. She shifts from quiet crying to calling out “Mummy!” and in a moment, we are both in her room. She’s upright in her crib, stumbling around half-asleep and half-awake as though the mattress were a ship deck, rolling on the high seas to the sound of the pelting rain.

“Get out,” she asks, stretching out her wobbly hands. “Wear blanket scarf.” I wrap her favorite fuzzy blanket around her the way she wants it, and she reaches her arms toward papa. He holds her while she drinks water, and then she lunges in my direction. “You hold,” she says.

Her tiny hands clasp together behind my neck.  I stretch out on the rug next to her crib, and she nestles her blonde head on my chest, the same way she’s done scores of times since the moment she was born. She moves her ear over my heart, and the rhythm soothes her. We lie there together in the darkness, listening to the staccato of rain and the beat of my heart. She sighs. I close my eyes. She’s tall, and I marvel how her feet stretch down past my knees now.

I think how thankful I am to have her here with me. I think how wonderful it is that when she cries, I can be next to her.

Over the next hour, she alternates between crying and whispering, “Nigh’ nigh’ sleep.” Finally, I hear nothing but the persistent noise coming from the very loud frog claiming squatter’s rights in the second-story rain gutter outside the window.

I close my eyes again, this time in my own bed, and fall asleep to the constant stream of tropical rain.

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Why This Will Never Be A Parenting Advice Blog

Why This Will Never Be A Parenting Advice Blog - via Oaxacaborn
Oh, this little person.

She’s very much a two-year-old. Perfectly quirky. She loves pirates and hates greens. She’d rather eat kefir than a donut, or almost anything else, except “mac and roni” which trumps all. She yells “Hi, baby!” to every non-adult she sees, no matter their age. And she has her own way of talking. “Fat put-tee”, of course, means “splash puddles”. And “kay yay-yi-yo” is her own little riff on “thank you, Aveline”. She sleeps every night surrounded by dozens of stuffed animals, but among them all, only Mr. Fox, Baby Fox, and Football Dog need to be kissed goodnight.

She loves to have her hair and teeth brushed. She always is sneaking into the bathroom to dab at her cheeks with mama’s makeup brushes. And destroying one of papa’s paintbrushes in a muddle of dull brown mixed watercolors, well, that’s a delight all its own.

She sings about the itsy-bitsy spider every chance she gets, “Fider, up. Fider, wain, down, ‘way. Fider, up sun, Fider, ‘gain!” When she hears dogs or neighborhood kids outside, she yells “Some babies! Some barks! Some dogs!” and runs to the window.

She’s a perpetual motion machine, my wild child.

And I’ve never done this before, this wild-child-raising.

I don’t know how.

Every day, I’m faced with situations that don’t make sense. (Toddlers don’t make sense. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.)

I don’t have all the answers. And in my very short experience so far, I’ve seen that parenting is simultaneously humbling and exhilarating and terrifying and rewarding. I don’t have it all figured out. And I don’t imagine I ever will.

And that’s why this isn’t, and never will be, a parenting advice blog. First of all, I don’t have any to give. And second, my goal isn’t to figure it all out. I’m not chasing the answers. I’m not chasing perfection (thank goodness!) I’m chasing joy. I’m chasing hope. I’m chasing Jesus.

So you won’t find answers or advice here, because don’t have any. But what I do have, I can share; glimpses into our lives, beauty in the everyday, and the reason for our hope.

And I can tell you this — there’s not a day in which I don’t ask beg God for wisdom!

Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Top ten rules for mommy bloggers

Top Ten Rules for Mommy Bloggers

  1. Use the term “mommy” to refer every other female who currently cares for or ever has cared for a child. Grown women love to be called “mommy” by other adults. Under no circumstances use a mommy’s first name.
  2. Accept and review free products from every company who offers you a freebie in exchange for your cellphone snapshot of the product in use. Pay no attention to whether or not you would normally use the product in question. Do not space out these reviews between other, non-sponsored posts.
  3. If you didn’t Instagram it, it didn’t happen.
  4. Buy a juicer. Place it strategically in the background of any photos taken in the kitchen. Tweet regularly about your love for kale juice. See also, rule #3.
  5. Start wars about extraneous topics. If your child prefers his light brown rattle over the chartreuse one, form a Facebook group in support of light brown rattles. Chartreuse is rarely found in nature, and therefore the inferior choice. Don’t forget to point out the potentially harmful developmental effects of chartreuse to stranger mommies you may encounter during your morning nature walks.
  6. Overshare. Body oddities, lingering symptoms, birthing anecdotes — catalogue them all online for your brother and your mommy friends’ dad to see.
  7. Talk about your child’s bodily functions. If it involves a faulty diaper elastic, the Lunch Which Kept Returning, a virus, or any other fluid related to bodily functions, blog about it. Tweet it. See also, rule #3.
  8. Recipes! If you’re cooking a dish which involves pouring sauce over frozen chicken, blog a photo of this food in its raw state, so your readers can pin it. Remember, Pinterest + Flash Snapshot of Uncooked Food = Winning.
  9. The more the merrier. (Hey now, I’m talking about fonts.) Use multiple typesets and colors in the body of each blog post. Set some posts to align in the center of the page, and others to align along the left margin. Keep your readers on their toes!
  10. Frequently remind your readers that you’re not actually a mommy blogger.
Life in Photos, Poetry & Words

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: It’s all (mostly) black and white

Aveline - January 2013 - Aveline on couch in black and white - Photo via Oaxacaborn dot com

Top of the bookshelf - photo via Oaxacaborn dot com

Colander, calendar, and stars on white kitchen wall - photo via Oaxaacborn dot com

Inside the closet, with a paper star and a painting - photo via Oaxacaborn dot com

Black and white Kawaii Panda Bear plate - photo via Oaxacaborn dot com

Aveline - January 2013 - Aveline reclining on couch in black and white - Photo via Oaxacaborn dot com

“In returning and rest shall you be saved;
in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

These words keep coming back to me. In the midst of frantically getting this and that done, in the midst of the bowl of macaroni & cheese dumped on the carpet, in the midst of the screaming fits which two-year-olds are wont to do from time to time, in the midst of lists and laundry…in the midst of it all, these words echo.

And I know I need to stop, and truly listen.

In rest. In quietness. In confidence — a kind of calm assurance, free from anxiety.

This same Lord also whispers in my ear,
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30)

How foolish I am to refuse!

Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: The Miracle in the Midst of the Noise

Aveline reading on the couch - photo via Oaxacaborn dot com

Sometimes, it looks like this.

(Sometimes. Not today.)

It has sounded more like this, today: “Don’t put your head in the toilet.” “Why are you putting that piece of sandwich between your toes?” “Hey! Don’t eat my makeup!” “I am not a trampoline.” “Good job helping! Yay! Thank you! Wait! Was that a red dress? We’re washing whites!”

But those are just the things I’ve said.

I don’t want to drown in the sound of my own voice.

I’ve got to remember the things she’s saying, too.

I’ve got to remember the joyful shouts of “Mummy!!” whenever I reappear. The MO MOW! (more milk) and MO SEE-WOH! (more cereal) breakfast chorus. The “Oh, wow!” marvel at everything from a cookie to a piece of lint. The giggling “Ready? GO!” shrieks followed by hugs-from-a-running-start.   The “Help. Stuck!” announcement that’s she has woken up from her nap. The bouts of uncontrollable laughter. Even the endlessly dramatic “Oh, no!”, which drives me crazy sometimes.

Because, even though every day doesn’t look like that photo, every day won’t always sound like this, either.

So on days like this, I ask God to let me see the miracle in the midst of the noise. And you know what? Every time I remember to stop and ask him to see with new eyes, He always, always answers.

“You have put gladness in my heart.” -Psalm 4:7a

Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS: The Parental Bragging Complex

The parental bragging complex, a humorous article on Oaxacaborn dot comThere’s a strange phenomenon I’ve observed since becoming a parent: the irrepressible urge to brag.

Oh no, I don’t mean pulling a quintuple-fold wallet out of one’s pocket and loudly showing the pictures to everyone within earshot. That’s to be expected. The instant one becomes a parent, one firmly believes the wrinkled child held up in that room is the best-looking, smartest baby in all of humankind’s existence. That’s normal. That’s to be expected.

It’s beautiful, actually.

But the moment a parent lays eyes on any other parent, a bizarre transformation takes place. Alongside the beautiful pride, a strange and paradoxical pride also rises up, causing the parent to believe his or her child is not only the handsomest and most gifted, but also the worst and most awfully-behaved.

Remember the Topper, a character in the Dilbert comic strip? No matter what anyone said, Topper would top it.

Well folks, when this Topper complex is observed within the parental habitat, it’s truly a weird thing to behold.

Exhibit A:
“Hi, friend! How’re you doing?”
“Oh, pretty beat. My kid didn’t sleep much last night.”
“Psh. I have thirty-eight kids and none of them slept through the night until they were twelve.”

Exhibit B:
“Oh hello, friend, where have you been lately?”
“Yeah, it’s been a while. My kid just got over chicken pox.”
“Ohreally? That’s nothing! Mine came down with an extremely rare case of TURKEY pox! It’s so rare, my doctor hadn’t even heard of it. Here, let me show you the rash. He’s still incredibly contagious. Yeah, it’s the grossest rash ever…let me just pull down his..”
“Ummm, actually, yeah, we were just leaving…”

Exhibit C:
“What a coincidence meeting you here!”
“Yeah, my kid is going through this phase where he’ll only eat bananas, so…”
“Psh, don’t talk to me about grocery shopping. You’ve got it easy. My kid only ate fin-less goldfish and square cheerios for eight years straight.”

Exhibit D:
“A cast? What happened?”
“Oh, it’s ok. My kid fell out of a tree in the backyard and broke his wrist.”
“My Bobby fell out of the Eiffel Tower and broke seventy-two out of the twenty-six bones in his foot!”

Friends, I have no answers. No tidy little explanations. Honestly, I can’t figure out if this sort of behavior stems from a superiority complex or an inferiority complex.

The bottom line, it seems, is that each parent wants others to believe his life is better — or is it worse? — than every other parent’s.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go scrape off some cheese (?) my daughter stuck to the television screen. I guess she can escape her Pack n Play now.

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