Dream Big, Kid.

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I was talking with a lawyer who’s a dear friend of mine about our childhood and how she dreamed of being something that she currently wasn’t.  We talked through her real dream, and she finally admitted that she wanted to be a dancer, and she thought of pursuing dance professionally.  I encouraged her to follow that dream, with the hope that she really would to find her passion purpose back in her life.

I remember when I was a child, I wanted to be an actress. I remember fantasizing about what it would be like to be on set of a movie or a television show working with other actors and being praised for being good at it.  I also wanted to get out of my own shadow.  I was incredibly shy and because of that, creating another persona who was charismatic and said all the right lines appealed to me.   As I became a teenager heading off to college, my parents pushed for me to find a profession where I could “get a job” right out of college, so I compromised my dream by focusing on working behind the scenes in entertainment.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant, or how I would do it, but that became the dream that I strived for.

As I was talking to my friend, a lawyer who passed the bar in several states, about her dream career when she was little, she followed a similar thread that I have heard a lot lately.  Her dream of becoming a dancer was quickly quashed by her parents desire for something more “practical”.  The toll for parents paying for college was to find a job post college, not necessarily to pursue a “passion”.   As a parent, I get the reasoning behind it, but I wonder what would happen if our parents had encouraged us to follow our real dreams?

I remember my parents always telling me, “You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be, the world is yours”  But when I actually decided to take my parents up on that offer, the tune was quite different.  I remember quite a few questionable looks and hesitant conversations around me going to college to study acting to be a professional actress.  Being the shy person that I was, I quickly conceded to my parents wishes to find something more practical and headed straight for the school of communications.  I figured if I wasn’t going to be an actress, I would at least try to be in a profession that would be close.

She and I had similar experiences.  In fact,  this conversation isn’t a new one among a lot of peers.  The story of many has a similar thread.  The crazy/wild/outlandish dream gets modified by parents who want their sons and daughters to get a practical “job”.  Said dream becomes a footnote in our lives until a life altering event happens where it doesn’t matter anymore and we give up our day jobs to pursue our real passions.   So right now she wants to pursue dancing, and I think that is the best decision that she has made.  Why?  Because once you let go of the fear of saying what you really want to do out loud to people, you become free to actually pursue it sans fear of what anyone else thinks.  I wish more people would do this.  It would save a lot of people from becoming unhappy and unfulfilled doctors, lawyers and executives.

So to my daughter and son who might want to be a space explorer or Alvin Ailey dancer, Dream big, kid.  The world is yours for the taking.

REVIEW: The Animal Boogie

I can’t say enough about this book. It’s fun, it’s playful and my kids love it. The publishers dedication to creating a multicultural audience is one of the main reasons why I have become an ambassador for the publishing company. So Shake, swing, sway, and boogie your way through this book. It truly is a great read for babies and children.

Check out more from the barefoot books line hereImage

Would you do it again?

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“If you had to do it over again, would you?”

This question was raised to me recently at a girl’s night in, a ritual that I have cherished since I was a teenager.  Girls getting together does something for my soul.  It renews my spirit in the collective, and refreshes my mind.  It’s like going to the spa for my entire being.

So when I was asked this question, a late night filled with trash talking, advice, sailor cursing, and praying, I paused, because I wanted to give a true answer.  An answer that didn’t trivialize the work that parents do, or the frustration we sometimes feel at the lack of understanding of the task at hand of raising whole beings, yet spoke to the reward we parents feel without glossing these truths over or sounding overly mushy.

So, for all those with children, and for those who have yet to have children, these are my thoughts from a mother with young children.

Let me first say, Parenting is hard.  Really, really hard.

When I first brought my first born home from the hospital, there was a feeling of anxiety.  I read tons of books, looked at countless videos, signed up for several classes on baby care, caring for newborns, what to do the first year.  But none of those books prepared me for trying to get a baby to sleep when he’s colicky and the gripe water doesn’t work, nor does rocking, or swaddling, or singing, or moving feet.

Everyone jokes about sleepless nights.  I remember countless times friends with kids said, “Get your rest now, because when the baby comes you aren’t going to get any! lol”  This was a direct quote.  It’s not a joke.  It’s not even really funny, and lack of sleep can have major consequences on a parent.  Even getting sleep before the baby arrives won’t do anything for the lack of sleep once a baby is here.  Sleep is not on reserve.  You can’t go back and get the sleep you had before the baby and insert it in present day, life doesn’t work like that.

No one talks about the time it really takes to breastfeed.  Everyone totes the good qualities of breastfeeding, how it helps babies, how it’s the “best source” early on.  If you breastfeed exclusively, no one talks about how you and baby are essentially attached to each other for the first two months of life.  By attached, I mean if your baby is hungry and you are about to use the bathroom, you sometimes have to take your child to the bathroom with you and feed and pee.  Yes, that happens.  Or if you are at the grocery store and your child gets hungry, how you sometimes are shamed for feeding your child.  I once went to a baby shower (a baby shower nonetheless!) and had to feed my child.  I was told, “The bathroom is over there.”  Yup that happened too.

No one talks about not being able to take a shower early on.  Days would sometimes flow together because of the daily cycle of feeding, eating, sleeping and changing.  I had both of my children in the winter months, some of the shortest days of the year.  The day would be over before it started.  5pm would come as if it were 11a and the drive to take a shower at 9p would be nonexistent.  One day would turn into two, two would turn into three.  Everyone just jokes about it, and makes it seem like it doesn’t really happen, or if it does, it’s THAT one person, not the collective.  but it’s the collective, trust me.

What we do talk about are the feelings we get holding our baby even though they are crying.  The simultaneous feeling of unconditional love and frustration, are feelings I have felt as a parent.  The instant my children are silly, smile, hug, or have shown that they have learned something from what I or their father has taught them, fills my heart with immeasurable joy.  Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, and all other social media tools show these moments daily.  This is why the collective community love these posts so much.  They restore our love of children and the unknown possibilities of these little lives.

What we need to talk about are the times where we secretly love that our baby needs us so much that we have to feed them in public.  Or when we pee.  Or when we are late to the meeting, work, playdate, party, or whatever we go to because we had to make sure our children ate, or had their nap before we leave, or had a bath, or did their hair.  It’s uncomfortable, and it takes extra time, and it makes us look bad, and it gives us a bad name, but secretly I would rather spend time with my children than go to said event, meeting, or job.

To me, children are the best and worst version of ourselves.  At times when we are at our best, we can see the same flashes of this in our children, at times when we are at our worst, our children can amplify this feeling to infinity.  In my opinion, if you want to see who you really are, have children.  They will give you all of your emotions unfiltered.  Learning to mold and shape my children to be genuine, honest and respectable beings, has been my greatest life lesson so far.

So if I had to do it over again, would I?  I would in a heartbeat.

 

 

I Don’t do Cock Fights

Self-editing is such a good thing.

So I begin my story by saying, I self-edit a lot.  I have to, it’s part of my job, plus I have a husband and kids, so the ability to “keep it real” is not always afforded to me.  This is probably why I have a blog.  I carry a journal with me so that when I have an idea for a new blog post, I can write it down and write down the main points so that if I have the chance to type it out at some point, I can expand my bullet point thoughts into a new post for you all to see.  So two weeks ago I had an idea, based off of an incident in my life that gave me ample dialogue for a post.  I wasn’t able to type it out online, so I went to my journal.  I furiously wrote my first thoughts down on paper and after finishing, I closed the book, hoping to write it out at some point on this blog.

I’m so glad I didn’t do that.

Because most of the time the first thoughts out of anger, aren’t the thoughts that actually need to be conveyed.  What does need to be conveyed is the principle behind those thoughts.  My main point that I wanted to get across?  I don’t do fighting.  I didn’t do it as a child, and I definitely don’t need to do it as an adult.  I don’t encourage my children to fight.  Fighting creates so much stress for all parties involved whether it be an office fight or a fight in the home, where the ramifications extend far beyond the principle characters.  This is why.

Office fights can add so much stress to your home life.  This Gallup study estimates that at least 450 billion dollars a year are wasted due to office fights.  Nevermind the possible lawsuits from the fallout of an office fight, but it can also result in a lack of productivity and an increase in distraction.  How can you concentrate at work if the only thing that permeates your mind is the reverberations from an office fight?  Home life and lack of engagement with your family can result as well.  Who hasn’t been in an office fight where all you can seem to talk about at home is what crazy drama happened at work?  Trust me, you family cares, but not that much that it becomes the only thing you can talk about.

Couples fighting can lead to stress in children.   This study by Parenting.com lays out why children don’t need to see their parent’s fight.  Parental stress can lead to child stress and even if you don’t “mean to” do this to your children, it still can result in behavioral issues with your children.  “The early childhood brain is disproportionately receptive to what’s good and bad in the environment,” says Rahil Briggs, director of the Healthy Steps program at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. “This is why a young child can learn a new language in a year. It’s also why stress in their environment is disproportionately impactful.”

So it got me to thinking.  I care about my kids, I really do.  After I had my first child, my entire world changed, and whatever I did, whether it be professionally or personally, I tried to do it to the best of my ability so that when my children were old enough to discern what mommy did and how she lived her life, they would be proud.   Seeing their faces when I wake up in the morning and when we go to bed at night gives me so much joy.  I know I can’t take away all of the stress in my life, but I also know that in order to raise happy healthy children, managing the sometimes crazy in my life needs to be a constant priority.

 

Where did my Brain go?

I swear I have some of the most brilliant posts in my mind.  Just this weekend, I had an idea for a very thought provoking piece dealing with…yup, I can’t remember it.

So at first, I thought to myself this would be a temporary thing…The infamous mommy brain.  I recognized it when I was pregnant with my first child.  I would be talking with a friend, and I would have to recall an event, something minimal that I of course knew how to describe eloquently, but alas, I would just end up saying, “Um, um, um…wait a minute, it’ll come back to me” and the thought would never come back to me.  It was like it was stranded on a desert Island, waiting for me to come save it.  It was there, I just had to find it.

My memory recall has gotten worse after my second child.  I even took extra DHA (recommended by a friend) in order to save my brain cells.  Sometimes when i’m at work and in social circles, I sound really smart and I think to myself, “There you are brain, we’re back in business!”  Other times, I feel like a blubbering idiot.  I try to laugh it off, because I know this is a part of life, but I have thought to myself, “Is this early onset dementia? Am I losing it?”

I hope i’m not alone on this, because It would totally suck if I was.

You know how you feel when the thought is right there, and you just need a little help recalling it so that the full thought comes out and you can display your genius like a proud peacock?  Well I feel like that all the time.

Yesterday, I had a great topic idea for a new blog post and I tried to write it down but I was in a place where I couldn’t write it down anywhere. When I tried to recall the idea…yup, you guessed it, I couldn’t remember it for the life of me.  If ever I felt a missed opportunity happening, that was it.

No mom wants to really admit that her brain loses cells each time she has a child.  The repercussions in the work environment and at home would be too great.  Imagine your boss blaming your work performance on your lost brain, or your partner always blaming your absent mindedness on your missing cells.  But I really wish those conversations could happen because they are important.  Imagine how your workflow would go if you were totally honest with your boss, your co-workers and your clients if they knew this information and didn’t use it against you. If society was more honest about motherhood and parenting in the 21st century, that means we could have an honest conversation about my missing brain.

What I miss about not having kids

I know, I’m suppose to say that I love my children and since i’ve had them my days have been infinitely blessed, I can’t imagine what life was like before them, what was I doing with my life, etc., etc., etc.  Well I can tell you that my life was actually quite fulfilling before my kids.  I reside in the city where I went to college, and a good number of my friends still live here.  I had (have) an awesome single social circle.  I live in a city, so I was not remiss with things to do on a week-end.  I am a very active person, I would workout on a regular basis, I joined co-ed recreational sports teams and I loved going to comedy clubs, the movies, festivals, you name it.  My husband (boyfriend at the time) and me would always venture out past 11p to hit up a local restaurant or pizza place to get some food if we didn’t feel like cooking, or we would get cookbooks dedicated to single meals in order to “try out” new recipies because we were feeling adventurous.  So here is my post dedicated to those times.  RIP good food, good bars, and spontaneous dates…

My kids have killed the good meal.  In my effort to make meals that can be mushed in little peoples mouths, contain all five of the basic food groups, and can be prepared quickly, out go the days of preparing an intricate, meticulously slaved over meal.  Maybe i’ll dust off the cookbooks that we have in our kitchen when they are older, but who knows if i’ll even feel like it then.  I remember when I used to cook and it actually meant something, like I actually remember the meal I prepared.  Now I cook just to see how long I can go before I have to cook again.  Casseroles and soups have been my friend for years.

I always say to people i’m a vegetarian because I don’t workout anymore.  Trust me, i’ve tried.  I’ve tried getting up before the kids wake up, and that lasts for maybe a week or two tops.  I’m way too tired to try to motivate myself at 6am.  And don’t let one of the kids wake-up at 6:05.  Workout ruined.  I’ve tried working out during work.  But most of the time, i’m too busy actually working to stop in the middle of the day to go to the gym at work.  It’s extremely convenient, but not practical for me.  I’ve tried going to workout after I get off work.  But let’s face it.  Getting up working with my kids, then going to work, then trying to muster up enough energy for a workout?  Yeah exactly.  It was always an epic fail.

Whenever any one of my friends happens on the occasional facebook stalk, they always mention pictures of my husband and I playing co-ed flag football, and I reminisce on how active I used to be…how easy it used to be to join that stuff with friends, or how we could go to a friends’ birthday/engagement/cookout party on a whim.  No babysitters needed for our outings, we could just go.  And don’t even get me to talking about vacations.  I took endless vacations in the US and beyond the parameters of America as well as to many of the islands in the Carribean with friends as well as with my husband.  Good times, Good times.

But this is my formal goodbye.  We’ve had a good run, you and I.  I’ve laughed until it hurts and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that comes with a childless life.  Maybe i’ll see you again in another 20 years or so, but by then i’ll be a much more mature person.  I don’t know if I can reclaim the crazy times of my youth, but I hope by then i’ll feel young enough to try.

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Top 5 things TO do around young children

These little sponges take up a lot in a little amount of time. Show them the world.

Take them to the library, the bookstore, the zoo, a museum

This could be a post entitled take them anywhere, so use your judgment when determining where your children go.  But the point being, expose them to what the world has to offer.  There are tons of free child events that happen in your town, take them.   Not just for their sake, but for yours as well.  Just don’t forget the snacks/diapers.

Play with them

Dedicate time at home to play with them.  It doesn’t have to be for long, but let your child know that you care about them and them only, and not have it attached to an event outside of the home.

Love yourself

I know it sounds weird to talk about yourself in a post dedicated to children.  But really, love yourself.  Love where you are in life, love what you do for your children and don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.  Because life happens.  Because if you have a strong, healthy love of yourself, your children will have a strong healthy love of themselves.  It starts from the teacher.  Teach them by living the example you want them to emulate.

Read to them

It’s self-explanatory, but a child who has been read to at an early age, becomes a child who loves to read.  Show them that reading is cool, and worthwhile and important.  Don’t raise your child to the Ipad.  I know it’s cool to see your 3 month old baby unlock your computer and turn on their game, but it’s even cooler to see your 2 year old child pick up a book and read because he knows how and because mommy and daddy have read to him since he was born.

Give them a hug/Give them a kiss

Young children have emotions too.  Show them that you love them by hugging them when they wake up, when you drop them off at daycare/school, when you pick them up and when you put them to bed.  Hug them when they do something they are really proud of, hug them when they accomplish a goal they set for themselves, hug them when they don’t expect it.  The same goes for the kiss.

So here is my list of things you should do around children. What do you think?  Did I leave out anything important?  If so add it to the list in the comments section!