Mamapedia National Voices

Mamapedia City Voices highlights the inside scoop on your city by selected writers, from up-and-coming mom bloggers to well-known mom experts.

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Photo by: Rachel Macy Stafford

Are You the Life of Your Family's Party?

March 29, 2015

She is like a sun,
Shining over me
She makes the good things better,
Better than I ever dreamed.
-Green River Ordinance

The other night, my friend and brilliant writer Alexandra Rosas shared a glimpse into her life. With short, non-descriptive sentences, it wasn’t intended to be profound. With text structure unpolished and informal, it wasn’t meant to evoke an emotional response like the well-crafted essays she writes. But yet her words brought me to my knees. I read them three times and then I cried. This is what Alexandra shared:

I fell asleep on the couch at 7 last night. Woke up two hours later at 9, looked around, everyone gone. I popped in to check on littlest, found him in bed reading. “Where is everyone, honey?” He looked up and answered, “We all went to bed, Mom, because you’re the party.”

That’s it, I thought to myself. This woman has achieved life’s highest honor. She is the party. She is the heartbeat. She is the reason for gathering. She is the celebration. If there is a more important role in life, I do not know what it is.

For days, I thought about that ultimate compliment spoken by a little boy about his mother. In fact, I became a little obsessed with it. Could I be the party? The question frequently popped into my mind in the following days …

As I played Frogger with my younger daughter at the orthodontist’s office and we both squealed when my frog made it safely to the other side…

Could I be the party?

As I talked to my eleven-year-old daughter at bedtime and she said, “Just put your arms around me and stay a little longer”…

Could I be the party?

As I congregated with old friends and we laughed, cried, and shared our difficult truths…

Could I be the party?

As I participated in the silly “Furry Language” my daughter made up to communicate with Banjo the cat…

Could I be the party?

As I spent the morning playing with my little nephews and happily agreed to “more jelly beans and more stories, Aunt Wachel”…

Could I be the party?

As I hoisted my growing girls over my head to do an “underdoggy”, their favorite move on a swing…

Could I be the party?

It wasn’t until I pulled the car into the garage after picking up my older daughter from swim team practice that I finally had an answer. Our latest favorite song was playing on the radio. We had the bass pumping and the windows rolled down as we belted out the lyrics. My husband happened to be entering the house at the time. But when he saw us, he stopped for a moment and just smiled at me. The way he smiled with such joy—like he was happy to see me happy—made me catch my breath. He was happy to see me happy. He was happy to see me being the party.

And that’s when I knew why Alexandra’s words had affected me so.

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t the party. I could plan the party like a boss. I could clean up the party without wasting a moment. I could wow the partygoers with beautiful presentation and decadent treats. I could make my family look picture perfect for the party. But when it came time for the party, I wasn’t really there. I was not a present and joyful participant.

I was not the party.

After all, how could someone who wasn’t emotionally present be the party?

When I saw my husband’s wide smile as he stood at the garage door, I remembered what he looked like when he was most worried about me. It was during the height of my overwhelmed life. I’d blown up when he said I needed to slow down … to stop doing so much … to smile once in a while. I locked myself in the bathroom and squeezed myself into the dusty corner between the powder blue wall and the toilet. I rested my head against the cold porcelain as my body wracked with sobs.

“I don’t want to be here anymore… I don’t want to be here anymore,” I whispered over and over and over.

I was just so tired. I was just so empty. I was just so stressed. I was just so sad all the time. I envisioned running away from it all, and then I felt like a monster for even thinking that.

My husband kept knocking on the door and insisting that I let him in. But I stayed in my little corner, tucked into a ball until my tears ran out, wondering if I’d ever feel life in my heart again.

I wasn’t able to articulate it then, but I can now. And it is always something I tell others when I have the privilege to share my story in person. I say:

Life is meant to be lived…

not managed,

not controlled,

not screamed,

not stressed,

not hurried,

not guilt-ridden,

not regretted,

not scripted,

not consumed by distractions, big or small, obvious or subtle.

Life is meant to be lived… and sometimes we lose our way.

I know I’m not alone when I share these difficult truths by the reactions I see. When I spoke these words to a group of people recently, I saw the look of recognition… the tears of pain… the sighs of relief knowing we are not alone. The cause of our overwhelm might be different from person to person, but our desire to live a fulfilling life is not. It took many, many small, daily steps to free myself from my distracted state and get to the place where I woke up excited and happy… where I could turn off the outside world and turn toward my family … where I could offer my undivided presence and attention… where I could take time to love and be loved.

I do not need to hide in the bathroom anymore. I am able to deal with struggles and challenges by staying present, communicating, and forgiving others and myself. I feel a new sense urgency in my life now. It is no longer about how much can I accomplish in a lifetime, but rather how much living and loving I can do each day.

Last Sunday afternoon I felt that heart-stirring sense of urgency so I said no to an outside request. I said no to a pile of laundry. I said no to my dinging devices, my full inbox, and my dirty kitchen. I said yes to hiking up a mountain with my family.

We got to the top of the glorious summit feeling triumphant and connected. After we ate our picnic, I stretched out on a big slab of rock. The sun relaxed me as the spring breeze blew back my hair. The next thing I knew, there was one daughter on each side of me. With no space between our bodies, we laid in silence warming our dry winter skin in the sun’s nourishing light.

That’s when my younger daughter turned and looked straight into my soul. She said, “This is the life, Mama.”

But what my joy-filled heart heard was, “This is the Life Mama.”

I am the party.
I am the gathering place.
I am the heartbeat.
I am the celebration.

By the grace of God and many, many tiny steps toward the light of love and connection, I am fully alive and well with my soul.

My friends, where do you find yourself today? Far from where you want to be? Missing the joyful person you once were? Huddled in a tight corner with weary bones? Wherever you are on your own personal journey, I want you to remember it is not the grand gestures, the glowing accolades, or the perfect presentation that make you the party. It is something you do every single day whether you realize it or not.

When you squeeze his hand as he walks into that new building and smile bravery right into his heart,
You are the party.

When you answer every single question with an inordinate amount of patience,
You are the party.

When you wait and wait and wait so she doesn’t have to wait alone,
You are the party.

When you think of one nice thing to say when no one else does,
You are the party.

When you sing softly when he’s frightened and say, “It will be okay,”
You are the party.

When you give up what you desperately want so she can have what she needs,
You are the party.

When you take a deep breath and choose love,
You are the party.

When you tearfully delight in the wonder of your precious ones,
You are the party.

You are the party because of the love you offer in small, daily doses. So don’t worry about how you look. Don’t worry about what you did or didn’t do yesterday. Don’t worry about that long list of flaws and failings no one is keeping but you. Your love and presence are the highlight of someone’s life—the highlight of someone’s life.

Keep waking up.

Keep showing up.

Keep picking yourself up from off the floor.

You are the party—the Life of the Party.

Your daily doses of love and presence make it so.

Rachel Macy Stafford is a certified special education teacher and New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama. Through truthful storytelling and simple strategies, Rachel helps people overcome distraction and perfection to live better and love more. Rachel’s second book, Hands Free Life, is currently available for pre-order and releases this fall. Join her on her Hands Free journey to grasp what really matters at www.handsfreemama.com.

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Life Isn't Fair. But it's VERY Fair to You.

March 28, 2015

One of the most commonly heard phrases in this home is… you guessed it!

“It’s NOT fair!”

Granted. This expression is mostly coming out of the little people in our home . All under 4ft tall. But when a momma hears those three words a gazillion times a day, she tends to lose a little bit of her empathy and compassion towards her little grumbling hearts.

For them, “It’s not fair!”, when they are asked to do an extra chore, when they don’t get to stay up late, when they are asked to help a sibling with a task, when they have to eat fish for dinner, when they are picked over at school, when they don’t receive a requested playdate, or when they are asked to bathe. Their “It’s not fair” lists are endless and tiring.

They can’t help but feel justified in their emotions. Why? Because my kids are spoiled.

They are well-behaved, polite, and compassionate children, but they are 100% a product of their culture. They are growing up in a world where material items are within their grasp. Where they can take privileges and blessings for granted. In a world where empty bellies and cold homes are foreign concepts. They are completely surrounded by people who not only love and adore them, but people that protect and care for their every last need. They are healthy and strong. They are unbroken and completely blinded by their own prosperity.

Which causes this mama to pause for a moment.

When you are ten, eight, and five it is hard to see beyond your present state of being. Their world is the only world they have ever known. A world, that as parents, we are so thankful we are able to provide for them. And yet, we see how easy it is for their culture to deceive them into believing they are entitled to their lifestyle. That somehow, they are deserving of everything and anything they desire.

How gross and ugly the mentality of entitlement can be.

As my children grow, I want them to learn compassion for the needy, to be work hard, to be empathetic towards the hurting and generous with their resources. I want them to give and give and give, with open hands, and willing hearts.

Because a life lived for others is truly a richer life than merely living for oneself.

Which is why the other day upon hearing another, “It’s not fair! ” statement from the backseat, I whipped around to face them and quietly replied,

“You are right. Life isn’t fair. But it is very fair to you. “

All wide eyed, the three of them stared at their seemingly calm yet deathly serious mom. Having their rare, yet complete attention, I continued…

Life isn’t fair to the child who can’t go to school.

Life isn’t fair to the mom who can’t feed her children.

Life isn’t fair to the dad who lost his job and can’t find work.

Life isn’t fair to the family without a home, without shelter, without clean water.

Life isn’t fair to the children without parents. Or to the parents with sick kids.

I went on, hoping they absorbed just a little of what I was trying to share. My point wasn’t to shame my children, or guilt them into feeling bad for what they have. But an attempt to give them awareness of what they do have, and a realization of just how blessed they are.

I desperately want them to look past their own whims and desires. I desperately want them to see others’ needs and brokenness. Because when they gain that ability, they also gain the ability to change lives. To make a difference. To be an impact.

As I was sharing with them, and again later that night, it occurred to me that they weren’t the only ones who were spoiled. How humbling it is to realize as words are flowing out of my mouth, that they were words I also needed to hear.

Perhaps my children are simply mimicking my own attitudes? Maybe their hearts mirror mine?

Sometimes I find my heart turning cold and uncompassionate. Instead of choosing contentment, I find myself focusing on what I don’t have instead of what I do have. In my haste to secure my children’s futures, I fail to see others around me. In my own selfishness I choose my own desires over other’s real needs.

Sometimes I choose to live for myself. I fight for this false belief that I am deserving. That I should have more. Receive More.

Most of us have the luxury of mulling over meal plans, and making dietary and nutrition choices for our children. We have full pantries and fridges. How many times have we thrown away uneaten produce or spoiled leftovers? Our piggy banks are full, and we have saved resources for a rainy day. We have the ability to redo perfectly acceptable kitchens and upgrade our homes and cars. We change over our wardrobes as new seasons arrive, recycling jeans simply because they aren’t fashion worthy. We indulge our kids with soccer lessons, and dance lessons. We spent more on lattes and mochas in one week than some other moms have the ability to spend on their entire grocery budget for the month.

Do I even see these other moms?

These moms who lay awake at night wondering how they will put food on the table the next morning.
These moms who wonder how they will send their children to school to better their future.
These moms with precious children who slumber in unsafe and unsanitary environments.
These moms with children who are vulnerable and often sick.
These moms who can’t afford healthcare, or wellness check ups making the vaccine debate seem pointless.

These moms? They have the same heart for our children as you and I, and they are hurting. Too embarrassed to ask for help, but desperately needing it. I’m not even referring to moms in third world countries. These moms are our neighbors next door, they are the moms at our kid’s schools, they are the moms in the grocery store, and at the park.

They live life right beside you and I. In our community. Struggling. Broken. Hurting.

Do I see them? Do you see them? What are we going to do about it?

Because for them? Life isn’t fair. It’s just not fair.

To learn more about the homeless in your state, click here. Then find out what you can do to help.

Cari Dugan is a lifestyle photographer and writer in Minneapolis Minnesota. She writes candidly about everyday life and experiences on being a wife and a mother on her blog Dugans in Cahoots. Her husband, three children, and chocolate lab make life what it is – A Beautiful Mess. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

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How to Raise a Girl to Have a Healthy Body Image

March 27, 2015

Last month, my best friend came to me with concerns about EVERYONE calling her two year-old daughter “pretty.” Her concern was, “I feel like the world only notices her looks and is trying to place value on her outward appearance rather than her real strengths.”

I can imagine people telling my friend and her daughter that they should just relax because they got the long end of the stick. However, I have spent most of my professional life working with children and teens with eating disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorders. I have stood outside bathrooms listening to skinny 14 year-old girls forcing themselves to vomit because they didn’t think they were skinny enough. I have seen lovely intelligent girls cut their wrists because they gained ten pounds. I hurt for these girls. I hurt for their parents. I hurt for the youth of this body obsessed generation who, according to a study by A. Chris Downs, will receive roughly 5,260 ads related to attractiveness per year (or at least 14 per day).

How can this be combatted? Can parents like my friend raise a daughter with healthy body image without moving to Amish country?

In my formal education, my professional experience as a social worker, my own childhood, and most importantly, my experience as a mother of a lovely daughter, I have learned many ways to understand, and combat this body obsessed culture we live in today.

Here are 5 key ways you can help to raise a girl with a healthy body image.

  • 1. Use Your Words Wisely: It starts with you. Peggy O’Mara once said, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” Nothing is more true. Your daughter looks to you for guidance on making sense of the world, making sense of herself and her purpose in life. If you cut her down, she will forever fight that voice in her head. Your voice. Raise your children up. Tell them they are beautiful but more importantly, tell them they are intelligent, kind, and worthy. Last week I took my three year-old daughter to the doctor for a routine check-up. The first thing they did was put her on the scale. I asked her, “How much do you weigh?” to which she responded, “Just right.” The nurse was shocked. I smiled and said, “That’s right,” and I had never been more proud.
  • 2. Be gentle with yourself: Kids learn in three ways; example, example, example. Your daughters are looking to you on how they should behave and feel. They say that the biggest indicator of how far a child will go educationally is how far their mother went. If you get your PhD, chances are your daughter will too. The same can be said about body image, if you feel fine about your body, chances are your daughter will too. If you do struggle with body issues, counseling can help you feel better about your body. The healthier you become the healthier your daughter will be.
  • 3. Be gentle with others. Speak kindly: In The Bible, Matthew 12, it reads:

“On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Whether you believe in the bible or not, this is good advice. Be a parent who doesn’t speak poorly of those without ‘ideal; bodies. Study the immensity of the universe, study Christ’s teachings, study the butterfly effect, or read Man’s Search for Meaning. There is so much good to learn, who has time to spend criticizing the shape of someone else’s body? The size of a person’s stomach does not give their life meaning. The number on the scale does not define you or anyone else. The same day my daughter shocked the nurse we played at our local children’s museum where we overheard two moms talking in the tot section about their next diet, the ugly parts of their bodies and form-fitting underwear. I usually don’t talk to strangers, but I did that day. “Excuse me” I said shyly, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but you two are so perfectly beautiful. Why do you worry about things like that?” They were almost speechless. I don’t think they knew they were beautiful.

  • 4. Be ready to talk: When questions do come, and they will, be ready to talk. We live in Oklahoma which is not the nation’s healthiest state. When my daughter comes to me about body size differences we don’t talk about attractiveness or body shapes. We talk about having a healthy heart. We talk about being physically strong so that we can do the things that our family values (basketball, hiking, horseback riding). We also talk about how other people value different things and how it is incredibly hurtful to talk bad about another person’s body. People are sensitive about their bodies, the media makes sure of that. Raise your daughters to be a force for good in the world, to see the strengths in others rather than just a pant size.
  • 5. Be a stinker about media consumption for as long as you can: Studies show that by first grade our personality/identity is formed and doesn’t seem to change much throughout our lives. I know that the shows children watch, the games they play, and the songs that fill the room DO shape your daughter’s life. Be watchful. Guard your children. Teach your children. Be an example of what and how much media to consume.

In the end, we cannot control everything our daughters think, feel, and do. They will make mistakes, and goodness knows, so will we! But at the end of the day, we have the privilege and responsibility to heavily influence the first few years of our daughters’ brain development, which are apparently the most important. Hopefully, these steps help vaccinate your daughter against unhealthy body image.

Kristin has a degree in Behavioral Science and has been working with youth and young adults to better their lives. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and two young children. You can read more from Kristin at Candy House Blog. You can also find her on Twitter.

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Our Education System is Broken & Our Kids Are in Crisis

March 26, 2015

Our kids are in CRISIS.

I work with teenagers in an affluent suburban area. They don’t comprehend what they read. They use calculators to multiply 10 × 10. The average high school junior has no clue what the word “diligent” means. They write essays resembling those of 5th graders. About how Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity.

In standardized, global math testing, our 15 year-olds are behind TWENTY NINE other countries. Their performance in reading and science is not much better. And yet, American investment in education is unrivaled, globally.

Are you scared yet?

We also lead the world in the consumption of illegal recreational drugs. And one of the chief sales outlets? Our SCHOOLS. Our teenage suicide rate is the highest in the world. There are over 5,400 suicide attempts EVERY DAY by kids in grades 7 – 12.

NOW are you scared?

Teenagers spend most of their time online, and in school. The internet is cracking our world wide open, and in its relatively nascent state, we haven’t found ways to effectively police what goes on in the cyber community. New ways to distract and distort teenage minds are invented online EVERY day.

Yes, I know. ((eyeroll))

You monitor your kid online. Sure. Because they haven’t figured out how to create a free Gmail account, download Instagram without your knowledge and create a free username with that account, then install apps that let you hide apps.

IF WE CAN’T KEEP PACE WITH TECHNOLOGY, WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE SECOND PLACE WHERE TEENAGERS SPEND MOST OF THEIR TIMESCHOOL.

There’s a frightening disconnect between our tax dollars and the quality of our kids’ education.

Students are pushed through an uncaring system with no substantial improvement in classroom resources. We’re paying for pensions and health benefits that we just can’t afford. We’re funding exorbitant salaries for superintendents who lease luxury cars on our tax dollars while our kids’ brains are atrophying in the classroom.

And when the money DOES make its way to the students, where does it go? Let’s talk high school athletics…

People pro sports argue that school athletics provide exercise, supports team spirit and keep students engaged in the classroom. But are we obsessive about high school sports to the detriment of academics?

Statistics vary. Some show that we spend quadruple the amount on sports than we do on academics. I personally would argue that the money spent on high school sports is TEN TIMES that of the math department. The hidden costs of high school sports is a dirty little secret.

Football is the most expensive highschool sport. There are the obvious costs: maintaining a grass field for $20,000 a year, stipends for the teachers who coach, professional coaches who are hired at full salaries, the salary of the full-time athletic director, the new bleachers for a cool half million, the reconditioning of helmets… for more than $1,500 a team.

Now let’s suss out the insidious costs: travel costs – buses, hotels and meals – for teams, the band, and the cheerleaders for away games. The cost of the substitute teachers when the teacher-coaches travel for game days. For home games, there is the required hired security, the cost of workers to paint the lines on the field and to clean up afterward.

In my lily-white, soft, suburban area, these kids have about as much chance of playing for the NFL as I do of spontaneously regaining my virginity.

Why is all this money going to FOOTBALL?

And how many millions of dollars have gone to implement the Common Core? Or, the “Death of Learning,” as I affectionately refer to it.

Common Core shoves infuriating math down the throats of overwhelmed students, forcing them to learn the least efficient ways of solving basic problems. Common Core is indoctrination at its worst, a pedagogical succubus that has effectively obliterated all parental control of what is being taught.

The slogan of the Common Core? “College and career readiness.” Notice how the focus is entirely on the materialistic benefits of education?

Careers. Job training. Workforce skills. Turn our kids into bricks in the corporate wall. Entrench them in the vilest pornography of all – an existence based on conspicuous consumption. BUY MORE STUFF!

The Common Core = DEATH TO CURIOUSITY. CREATIVITY. DISCOVERY. DIVERGENT THINKING.

Does it really matter where the money is going, anyway? It’s being dumped into the current educational ideology which is OBSOLETE.

Our current school system is based on a model developed in 1850, at the height of the Industrial Age. It aimed to create robotic human beings whose behavior could be controlled. Prime them for a life of complacent factory work.

Take everyone who’s the same age, regardless of interest, or aptitude, and stuff them into an isolated room. Train them to move at the sound of a bell. Schools aren’t teaching ANYTHING except how to obey orders. They are irrelevant to the great endeavors of the world.

Teachers are not the problem. Well, some teachers are. Many care passionately, and work HARD. Perhaps, if we paid teachers a decent wage for doing what is essentially the MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD we could attract more talent to this profession. Get rid of tenure, and cut out the dead weight of indifferent and burnt out teachers who are in it for summers off and Cadillac benefits.

What are our kids really “learning?” To memorize scientific formulas when they want to write poetry? To interact with a frighteningly homogeneous group of people, cut off from the true diversity of the human experience? To lack compassion for those who cannot fit in? To be simultaneously arrogantly entitled and passively dependent while parental helicopter blades ‘whup whup whup‘ hover overhead?

The world isn’t just changing at warp speed… it’s growing at warp speed. The Internet facilitates the delivery of information in a way that is unparalleled in the history of the world. As a result, the human experience is global. Cultures are mixing. How are our kids prepared to maintain harmony in a diverse cultural world? Through the aforementioned internet?

And what about the 2 billion people who are predicted to inhabit the earth over the next twenty years? How will they be fed if we don’t create new food systems? Where will they live if we continue to pollute cities and destroy coastlines? How will they stay alive if we don’t combat the inevitable growth of new medical threats as our collective resistances grow?

We are “educating” our kids for a world that won’t even EXIST by the time they are adults.

How will anyone survive if all that is taught in school is"

  • MEMORIZATION
  • REGURGITATION
  • COMPLIANCE
  • CONFORMITY

For starters let’s:

  • Forget about cramming testable data into a generation of multiple-choice test-taking ZOMBIES. We don’t need our kids to come out of school useless to others and to themselves.
  • Stop destroying their PASSION by forcing academic sewage on them. Why must high school students learn geometry? It’s useless, unless you plan on becoming a professional QUILTER.
  • Teach them something USEFUL: How to balance a checkbook. How to cook a meal. How to grow living things.
  • Teach them COMPASSION: Involve them with the Real World. Make community service part of the entire school process. Start kids young, so their desire to give back to the world is INTERNALIZED, not something they do dispassionately to put on their fucking COLLEGE APPLICATIONS.
  • Teach them INDEPENDENCE: Trust them with independent study. Let them choose their own reading curriculum. Kids learn to despise reading because the prosaic rubbish forced on them to read is painful. It’s the literary equivalent of jailhouse anal – without lube. Let them study outside the confines of the school.
  • Cut out the vast quantity of homework, and give them back their TIME. Time to discover their uniqueness and what endeavors make their hearts soar. And let them pursue THOSE.
  • INSPIRE THEM: I live 45 minutes away from one of the greatest cultural meccas in the world and some of my kids have NEVER GONE into New York City. Incorporate trips to museums. Let them be energized and invigorated by brilliant works of art. Take them on field trips to concerts. Let them hear a gorgeous symphony. Expose them to great theater.
  • Allow them to experience DIVERSITY: Open their eyes to different ways of living.

Whatever garbage they’re attempting to teach our kids in the classrooms isn’t working. Students don’t like it, care about, or retain it one minute after they’ve been tested on it.

Our education system is a bloated, archaic, bureaucratic, imperial useless RELIC. It can’t be fixed. Let’s tear it down and start all over.

How?

I don’t have the answers. I’m not even sure I’m asking the right questions. But this is an EMERGENCY. Do you GET that?

I’m only one person, and I can only make a tiny difference. I can raise my son to be creative and freethinking. I can go to school board meetings and complain. I can engage people in conversation about this. I can write about this.

I can hit Publish.

Now it’s YOUR TURN.

Samara is the no-holds-barred, five times Freshly Pressed blogger at A Buick in the Land of Lexus. She mixes honesty with humor in high definition, first-person story telling. Samara is the founder of The Sister Wives blog, and has also had her work published on BLUNTmoms and Human Parts. She lives in New Jersey with her son Little Dude, the coolest 11-year-old kid on the planet.
Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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What Do You Do When Your Toddler Slaps You in Public?

March 25, 2015

There is a lot of hype about a new show called The Slap. I watched a preview, but I have not watched the show because I am a mom and watching TV is a luxury, therefore I choose my shows wisely. I know the show revolves around an adult slapping another person’s child that causes drama throughout their circle. Pretty bold move if you ask me but that is another blog post for another night.

It got me thinking about the slap I recently experienced while watching my stepson’s soccer game. The slap was not from another parent and will not be aired on YouTube or the news. The slap came unexpectedly from my almost 2-year-old toddler.

I was taken aback. Don’t let those little, cute hands fool you because it hurt like hell.

My sweet, angelic daughter flipped like a light switch when I stopped her from sprinting into a parking lot. How dare I stop her from having fun!?! Sorry my dear, but safety always comes first.

Immediately she kicked and screamed as I held her tight to walk closer to the soccer fields.

It was then she looked at me with anger, her eyes watered, her lips pouted. I tried to reason with this notorious head-strong, but adorable, toddler. She paused, and I thought she understood. Yeah, I was winning this battle. Then out of nowhere…

SLAP! Right on my cheek and nose. It was a hard hit! So much so my eyes started watering. I froze in shock.

I don’t know that I have ever been slapped in the face, but it’s an experience that stops anyone in their tracks no matter how old or strong you are.

Before I could grab her hand again, she slapped me again! Round 2!

What happened to my sweet baby? Doesn’t she know that I saved her from getting hit by cars? Shouldn’t that count for something?

That is when mean mommy came out. I was surprised my first reaction was to slap her back, but something held me back. I feel I would be teaching her that hitting is okay, and it’s not okay to hit anyone, in my opinion. How do you reason with a toddler that hardly understands a sentence?

We have recently started time-outs, but how do you have a time-out session in the middle of a soccer field when there is no where to hide? There are no trees, no sound barriers and no toys or food to bribe your child with.

I was that mom in public with the rowdy toddler struggling to keep my cool and look like nothing was bothering me. I got this! Yeah right.

I looked as defeated as some of the soccer players who couldn’t quite get to the ball.

As I walked towards the bleachers, I could feel the other parents’ eyes on me. Perhaps, it was my own insecurities. Surely these soccer parents have been through the terrible toddler experiences, right? But since, I have talked to several moms who said their children never slapped them in the face. Perhaps they are lucky… or just big, fat liars!

I am at a loss for this new-found behavior. Hopefully it will pass and prove to be a fluke, but slapping is NOT okay in my book.

I got to thinking, how can we teach our kids that it’s not okay to slap or hit others if we are slapping or hitting them?

Pre-kids I was pro-spanking, but have since found myself debating this form of punishment. (No judgement either way from me, just sharing my thoughts). I think it all depends on the kid and finding ways to discipline the individual child, but this is all a learning experience and I may change my mind down the road.

I am a problem-solver control freak, so when I fail at calming my child down or being able to reason with a small human I feel defeated. I remind myself that everything will be okay and that I am dealing with a toddler who is a force to be reckoned with, but also, the love of my life. She is strong-willed and independent, much like her mama.

Just when I think I’ve gotten it all figured out, I am humbled and thrusted back into the reality that I have no idea what I’m doing. But I am having fun figuring it out… at least in hindsight when the sting is gone and I can laugh about it.

What age have you found the most challenging to discipline? I would love to hear your take on this but if you tell me your kid never hit you, I will have to call you a liar… or just very blessed!

In between juggling a toddler, a teen stepson, a mellowed out husband and a crazy Labradoodle, Michelle also works full-time in event planning for a North Texas suburb. Read about family, food, fun and then some on her blog Mind of Meesh. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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