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.
by Lisa of "Life As I Know It"
Photo by: Shutterstock
My oldest son is sixteen and has a girlfriend. How this happened, I have no idea. Didn’t I just bring that swaddled lump home from the hospital? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was mooning over Blue’s Clues (and I was mooning over Steve Burns)? Was More
Hello, The Internet. I am calling upon your vast resources and emphatic opinions to ask for some advice about how to feed my children. My kids would like ice cream for breakfast, thank you very much. More
Hello, The Internet.
I am calling upon your vast resources and emphatic opinions to ask for some advice about how to feed my children.
My kids would like ice cream for breakfast, thank you very much.
I’ve struggled with Binge Eating Disorder since I was about 13, so at this point I am pretty messed up when it comes to food. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but when it comes to emotional issues related to pie, I am pretty much the best there is.
Now that I am responsible for feeding two little people, a lot of my issues are being brought to the forefront. When it comes to giving other people what they need nutritionally while not adding emotion (like guilt or neediness) to it, I have no clue what I am doing.
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to “treats” and children. One is the old school “finish your dinner and then you can have dessert” way of doing it. We do that sometimes. But I hate making dinner into something that has to be choked down so that you can get to “the good stuff.” I don’t believe in cleaning your plate — I always encourage the kids to eat until they are full, and then stop. And since my children are not stupid, that means that they get a few bites into their dinner, insist that they are full, and then wait till the plates are scraped to ask for dessert. You win this time, Wile E. Coyote…
Another is the Cookie Monster’s new age “A Cookie Is A Sometimes Food” approach. I have also tried this. Turns out, it is really hard to define when “sometimes” is. Because isn’t every time some time? Sadly, Cookie Monster is of no help with these kinds of existential questions. I think he’d be on the kids’ side, anyway.
And then there is the idea of not giving any power to treats by making them a part of every day eating. That sounds awesome in theory, but my children are five years old. If we went with this, we’d be having ice cream for dinner with a side of cinnamon roll (you know, to make sure we get in our fiber).
So what the hell do I do?! Treats every day? Treats only sometimes, because that’s why they are called “treats?” Don’t call them “treats” at all, because there are no “good” or “bad” foods?
I really think I am losing my mind.
I asked my friends once how often they thought it was okay for kids to have ice cream, because my kids are obsessed with it and want some every day. (Quick side note: ice cream also happens to be my number one trigger food. So…thanks, god. That’s super hilarious. I hope you’re proud of yourself.)
Anyway, my friends kind of shrugged their shoulders and said, “I don’t know. Whenever. Every day.” This blew my mind, because in my messed up crazy head, ice cream is something you restrict. It is not something you have “whenever.” And that, I realized, is where I am putting my craziness on my kids and I really don’t want to do that.
Right now, my children are blissfully ignorant of my food issues and the fact that people have issues with food at all. We don’t use the word “fat” in my house. We don’t focus on appearances — in fact, I rarely look in the mirror. (That explains a lot, thinks everyone who knows me.)
Now that they are getting older, I have to talk with them about choices, and I am terrified that I am going to mess this up. A few months ago, one of my kids woke up before the rest of us, went into the kitchen, and snuck a cookie. That broke my goddamn heart. We talked about it and I reminded them that if they want a cookie, all they have to do is ask. But that’s not exactly true, is it, because there are times when I do say ‘no.’
I would really, really like to know what you guys do and what your advice is. Help me, Internet friends. Lay some truth on me.
Meredith Bland is the mother of twins, born in 2008. Follow Meredith on her popular, award-winning blog, Pile of Babies.
My oldest son is sixteen and has a girlfriend. How this happened, I have no idea. Didn’t I just bring that swaddled lump home from the hospital? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was mooning over Blue’s Clues (and I was mooning over Steve Burns)? Wasn’t it just recently that the most stressful speck on the horizon of his childhood was signing him up for t-ball?
I blinked, though, and here he is – more man than boy, navigating his first teen romance.
I was sixteen when I had my first serious (okay, my first) boyfriend. My mother took me to the doctor to get a prescription for the Pill. Looking back, I now understand how difficult that must have been for her. I think the tendency for most parents is to want to keep our kids young and innocent. It’s painful letting go of them, step by step, watching them grow into their own lives and away from us. We dole out lectures and try to lay down rules meant to keep them safe, and if we are honest, meant to feed our illusion that we remain in control of the choices they will make.
As much as I’d like to keep my son young and safely tied up in my apron strings, I realize that it’s folly. He is growing up, and he is making his own choices more and more. The best I can hope for is that his dad and I have instilled in him the values that will dictate good decision-making on his part.
It was actually two of my close girlfriends who informed me one night over dinner that, now that my son had a girlfriend and being of the age he is, it’s time to buy him some condoms and have that talk with him. Not the sex talk – the birth control talk, the protection talk. I was horrified. Although I remember what my own mother did for me, I wasn’t prepared to deal with this with my own children – let alone my son.
But the more I contemplated it, the more I realized that they were right. I could live in denial that my son was even thinking about sex; I could try to convince myself that his relationship with his girlfriend was innocent and platonic; I could close my eyes to the fact that when I was sixteen . . . but it was no use. The inner voice that spoke the loudest in my head was the one saying, “Yeah, and while you’re busy trying to fool yourself, he could be getting her knocked up. At sixteen.” And the imagined implications of that scared the daylights out of me. Two young lives potentially detoured irrevocably, forever.
I had the birth control talk with my son – a straightforward, brief monologue on my part which (hopefully) hid my wrecked nerves, while he stood with a stricken look on his face, very much like a deer in headlights. But even after the talk, I realized that, at whatever point in time he actually decided to become sexually active, it was highly unlikely that he would have the means or the nerve to procure condoms himself. And if one thing led to another, as they so often do . . . well, one time is all it would take.
The next time I went to Target, I had condoms on my mind. I couldn’t bring myself to go down that aisle, though. For the next few weeks, the condoms mocked me every time I ventured into Target. Eventually, I was able to casually push my cart down that aisle, glancing at the condoms in my peripheral vision as I glided by. Finally, a few days ago, I once again found myself at Target. “This is it,” I told myself. “This time, I’m doing it.”
I approached the aisle. I ventured a casual glance to see if anyone else was in the aisle; when I found it empty, I rolled my shopping cart down the linoleum and stopped in front of the condoms, and promptly began to hyperventilate. Words jumped out at me in neon script: “Pleasure Pack,” “Fun Colors!” Holy mother of god! I don’t want to think about my son having fun! Or pleasure! “Don’t faint, don’t faint, just breathe, nice and easy . . .” I told myself. Finally, at the bottom of the display were the no-nonsense, plain condoms. How many to get, though? Six? Twelve? I finally decided on the economy pack of thirty-six – not because I wanted him to have that much sex, but because I never wanted to find myself in this aisle on his behalf again.
I threw the box in with my paper towels and cereal and Pine Sol and diapers, and made my way to the front of the store to pay. My heart was thumping and I felt very close to tears – this was some kind of bizarre milestone in my childrearing career, for sure. Of course a twenty-something guy manned every open checkout lane, only recently out of high school themselves, no doubt. I briefly felt embarrassed about my loot, but I couldn’t worry about what the cashier might think for too long.
I deposited the box of condoms in my oldest son’s bathroom and sent him this email:
Up on a high shelf in the cabinet in your bathroom, you will find a bag. Inside the bag is a box of condoms.
I realize that just reading this will probably horrify you – your mom buying condoms for you?? Blech! I know. Believe me, it wasn’t any easier for me to buy them than it probably is for you to be reading this. However, as uncomfortable as it might make either of us feel, the fact is that you are of a certain age when things might happen, and because I love you so very much, and care so much about your well-being and your future, as a responsible parent, I have to ensure that you are protected.
This is not permission from Dad or me. Sex, as we have talked about before, is a huge responsibility with tremendous implications, and the truth is that it’s best left to adults. I hope you will wait. But to count on that would be unrealistic. I realize that you will make your own choices in this regard, just as I did when I was your age. The best I can do is to encourage you to make those choices with intelligence and respect, and armed with protection.
I love you.
Lisa is a married SAHM, raising seven kids in Southern California. To maintain her sanity, she writes a blog, Life As I Know It.
I’ve gone through different stages in my life when it comes to cooking. When I lived in my very first apartment, it was just to eat. So I’d boil the hell out of vegetables, over cook noodles, it was a disaster. And I didn’t care. Places to go, things to do.
When I first got married, cooking became fun for me. I wasn’t working so I had more time to think about it, plan, shop, and experiment. That was the time that I enjoyed cooking the most.
And one of the things that I loved about cooking (and baking) is that I had so many of my mom’s recipes to start with. Most I made “as is.” But as I became more comfortable with ingredients and processes, I changed many, too.
Now – thanks to attempts to get more money from consumers while providing them with less product – many of the old recipes from my mom need to be reworked, because so many of them called for ‘a can of this’ or ‘a package of that,’ but if a can used to be 16 ounces…and then 15 1/2 ounces…and now is 15 ounces, what does that do to the integrity of the recipe? I won’t be buying two cans just for another ounce, so you can cross that genius marketing tactic off of your list.
And that got me thinking about some other items I’ve seen on the shelves lately that are, in my opinion, a thinly veiled attempt at pickpocketing:
- Aerated chocolate: I thought this was a joke, but it turns out it’s not. They’ve taken chocolate bars, replaced some of the chocolate with air, and sell them at the same price as the original chocolate bars. This makes sense to whom? Just for the record: aerating is for lawns.
- Boxes of snack cakes where the cakes are wrapped in twos: So your kid opens the little cellophane packet and there are two cakes in there. What to do? Either the kid’s gonna eat both or blood’s about to spill trying to get that second one out of their tightly clenched fist to wrap up for another time. Pass.
- 10 calorie sodas: I drink a lot of soda and I don’t drink the full sugar ones. I have my favorite diet sodas and I stick to those. So, now you want me to try not your “new” product, yet another version of the exact same sodas, just with more calories added back in? Like that’s gonna happen.
- New ‘family-sized’ packets: I used to buy packets of, well, pretty much anything that looked interesting to make as a side dish and would feed the family. Lately, those packets have gotten smaller and smaller. Now the companies have “introduced” family-sized packets. Basically, they’re about the size that the miniscule packets used to be, but guess what? They’re almost double the price. Umm . . . no.
- Shampoo: Deceit at an even higher level. Have you looked inside your shampoo bottle lately? I made that mistake. I thought that just because the size of the bottle hadn’t changed that I was getting the same amount. Think again. The bottle’s the same size, but it’s only 3/4 full. Check the number of ounces listed on the bottom of the bottle, if you can read it.
Then there’s make-up, laundry detergent . . .
It all gives new meaning to that old potato chip commercial, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” Of course, now we can actually eat just one. That’s all they’re putting in the bag.
So, that’s my rant about how far your money is no longer getting you. Back to reconfiguring all of my recipes, thank you very much…
Chicken Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce
2 T. Vegetable Oil
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced
1/2 lb. mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bit- sized pieces
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 t. Italian Seasoning
1/3 C. heavy cream
1 lb. mostaccioli, cooked al dente
-Heat oil in pan at medium heat. When hot, add zucchini, mushrooms, garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is soft. Remove to a plate.
-Add chicken to the pan. Sprinkle with garlic powder and saute’ until chicken is cooked through. Add the veggies back in.
-Add the canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and the Italian Seasoning. Bring to a boil, and allow to boil for 10 minutes.
-Turn down the heat to low and add the heavy cream. Once completely incorporated, add the cooked mostaccioli. Stir until all ingredients are warm. Sprinkle with parsley.
Karen is a SAHM of two teens who bakes to relieve stress and to feed the pile of kids who apparently can smell cookies baking from miles away. She blogs on her site to keep from spending all of her time doing the days-till-college countdown. Karen’s work has also been featured on the websites “Scary Mommy” and “Treat a Day,” and is published in the “Life Well Blogged” series of books. For more great recipes, visit her site, Baking in a Tornado.
My mom lived with me and my family for two years before she passed away. She was not only confined to a wheelchair, she also had dementia. Even though I loved my mom dearly, it wasn’t easy taking care of her.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I recognized that there are quite a few similarities between the elderly and toddlers. When I made this list I was thinking only of my mom and her last years here with me, and what I witnessed day in and day out. This is meant to be funny, and if Mom were alive today, she would literally laugh her ass off at this. Literally.
Okay, here we go….
- They never know what day it is.
- You have to cut their food up into bite-sized pieces.
- They stand and or sit way too close to the T.V.
- Both yell from the bathroom, “I can’t get my pants up!”
- They fall a lot.
- You have to make every meal for them.
- The dresses little girls wear now remind me of the Moo-Moo’s my Mom used to wear. (or is it Muu Muu’s? Hell if I know. I just pray I will never wear one.)
- They get upset when you get annoyed when they have an accident in the bathtub (yet again).
- They like to show off their boo-boos to their friends, over and over.
- They forget what they were going to say.
- They have no filter at all.
- When either one is quiet for too long, it could mean trouble. The toddler has probably confused the contents of his diaper with Play-Doh. The elder is trying to rearrange their room by themselves.
*Wiping dirty faces.
- Reminding them what people’s names are when they see them. (Then they still don’t remember them.)
- You have to repeat yourself over and over because they either can’t hear you or they’ve tuned you out.
- You have to explain to them why taking a bath is important and must be done everyday.
- Naps. Thank God. (Enough said.)
- They do not have an inside voice!
- Sometimes they have problems getting all their food in their mouth.
- Able to fall asleep in any position at any moment.
- Sometimes when telling a story, they make no sense at all. All you can do is look at them and say, “What are you talking about?”
Thanks to my two kids and my mom for this material and all the great memories.
Ellen Fischkelta is a SAHM of two, living in Palm Bay, Florida. Her family and friends know when sharing something, it may just end up on her blog, Bad Word Mama.
This is the story of my own Princess Boy. Remember that book? Well, the mother in that story whole-heartedly embraced her son’s decision to wear a dress. And she even wrote a book about it. And went on press tours. And filled his closet with sequined, frilly gowns.
And in these ways made me feel like the worst mother ever.
This is the challenge I didn’t count on when becoming a mother.
I had prepared myself for the lack of sleep, and tantrumming toddlerhood, and knowing way too much about another human being’s poop.
But I wasn’t prepared when my three-year-old son decided that he wanted to wear a dress. And be a princess. Or a mermaid. Or a fairy. Like, every day for approximately two years.
The dress obsession began after he decided that Mama Mia was his favorite movie. There is a scene where the daughter in the movie throws off her dress and dives into the water with her bathing suit on. He spent countless hours perfecting this very move, using the back cushions of our couch as the ocean.
At the same time he was moved by Abba, he was also moved from the toddler room to the preschool room at daycare. The new, older girls in his class took a shine to him and gave him the role of the “baby princess.” He loved every pink tulle moment.
At home, he began scouting out his own perfect ensemble. And I have to admit I helped him find the right thing, not realizing the future depth of his devotion. What he chose was this white linen tank top of mine, with red flowers on it and a flowy bottom hem. The straps were so long that the neck of the “dress” settled just below his belly button. As a fashion statement, it was all wrong, but he was absolutely in love with that shirt. While wearing it he could become anything from a fairy princess to his mom at the beach.
After he had staked his claim to my shirt, I tried to wear it one day. Every time he looked at me he couldn’t stop laughing, saying, “You’re wearing my dress, Mommy!”
I would love to say that I was always 100% okay with him wearing a dress. His dad could have cared less what our son wore, and I should have, too. But I found myself creating arbitrary rules surrounding it that were more like little mirrors of my own comfort level. The main rule was that he couldn’t actually go out in the dress. I selfishly decided I couldn’t handle all the questions. He was pretty enough to be mistaken for a girl all the time anyway.
And at Christmas, let’s just say the princess dolls he wanted so badly did arrive and…so did their castle. Except that it was actually a Batman castle. He took one look at it and promptly turned the super secret escape hatch into a closet for fancy dresses and shoes.
I also found myself trying to justify his dress-wearing if a friend was over and saw him in all his sashaying glory, singing and dancing to the Rapunzel soundtrack. “It’s just his princess phase,” I once said, and laughed as she assured me her son wore fingernail polish for two years.
And then one day…
He was at the babysitters with a couple of little girls. The mother of the little girls came to pick them up and spied my son dressed from head to toe as Tinker Belle, proud as could be. The mom pulled the sitter aside and said,
“So, what are his parents DOING about that?”
And the sitter-who I will always love for saying this-simply said,
I hugged her when she told me this, and in my mind I vowed to myself to be better at doing just that.
Well, this year Kindergarten came and with it, a day when my son came home with his sweatshirt zipped up just about as far as it could go. I knew that under that sweatshirt was an iron-on t-shirt that he and I had just made. On the shirt was a pink monster with wings and braces and it was awesome. And he was beyond proud of it.
“So, what’s with the sweatshirt, bud?”
“Oh, I zipped it up because one of the other boys told me my shirt was a girl’s shirt and I didn’t want anybody else to say that.”
Well, a) I wanted to go all mama She-Bear on that other kid and his parents.
And, b) My heart broke for my sweet little boy, who loves to bike and ski, but who also LOVES pink, just like his dad. The boy who learned to swim under water only because he desperately wanted to be The Little Mermaid.
That sweet kid who gave his baby sister the middle name Rainbow, and who actually cried when I packed away her newborn clothes because he missed her being that small.
So, as I felt my heart break that day he came home, I began to tell him over and over again how WONDERFUL he was and how AMAZING his shirt was and that OBVIOUSLY that other boy did not have any REAL fashion sense and….and…
and he put his hand on my knee and he looked at me and he said,
“It’s okay Mama.”
And he went and played.
Joelle is a writer, a mom, and an occasional physical therapist. Her blog is more free-range and less helicopter, more organic than processed, more mountains than city, and more hippy than hipster – Joelle Wisler.