Monday, May 31, 2021

Moms Need to Spend the Big Bucks on Themselves Sometimes

This is another money-conscious entry, but this time, it's about moms.

I want to spend a lot more of my very limited funds on my own happiness this coming year. I want to be in the present and celebrate the present. I am tired of the quarantine and the looming threats to my quality of life. I am also tired of the life that I want to live and the life which I currently live being two separate things. 

I am here to try to sell you on the idea that moms need to spend the big bucks on fun things for themselves once in a while—and of course their families.

1. You have a rainy day fund, don't leave your sunny days out the plan

I am not saying that if you build it they will come, but it might help. We tend to prepare for bad surprises. If the brakes need replacing or the tree needs a trim, or if that house needs  a roof, we don't hesitate. We pay up. 

Why don't we allow ourselves to have a sunny day fund for good surprises like a great book, a stand-up paddle board, a new pet or a trapeze class. So many moms have done everything humanly possible to escape debt, myself included, and have managed to create a reality devoid of fun plans. 

2. You Wouldn't Think TWICE if this was for your Child

Sure safety is first and age-appropriate activities are important, but for the most part, if it seems like a good idea for our kids, moms make it work. Just the other day I signed up my youngest for a gymnastics class. Do I want him to become a professional gymnast when he get older? Not at all. Not even a college athlete. I just know this activity sparks joy. It was that simple. 

Why is it that hard to say yes to a similar class that sparks joy for moms? 

3. You Wouldn't Think TWICE if it was required as part of work or social norms

This is one of those things that might be different for everyone, but for the most part, most people have a required uniform, dress code, or appearance standard of some sort. I will not lie, mine is lax. And thank goodness for that. But for the most part things like a business casual wardrobe or having clean appropriate shoes are either required or strongly encouraged. In fact, someone can calculate how much a job actually pays after subtracting the time and the money required to fulfill these prerequisites. 

Yet, moms don't think twice if it means putting food on the table. 

4. You Shouldn't Let Life Pass You By 

There are no guarantees for the future. Some of our goals naively take our bodies and our minds for granted. These two very important parts of ourselves will not always be the same, and it is important to honor ourselves. We should all live our dreams so that we don't have to grieve later those futures that never became fact when we had all of the control for their actualizing.

 I'm not saying using up your life savings is a good idea, but that a sunny day fund is a good idea if life allows it. 

High Risk Pregnancy Survival Guide

I want to be very open.

If your pregnancy has been deemed high risk because of statistical prejudices like number of previous pregnancies or your age (more on that in a later entry), this entry is not for you. 

This is for those Mamas who have been told some news about themselves, or their babies, both, or somewhere in between. This is for the Mamas who are apprehensive about discussing their pregnancies with friends and family, or declaring it at work. This is for the Mamas who have to spend lots of time, energy, and emotional labor on additional doctor's visits. It's for the Mamas with negative or near zero PTO balances because they have to see a specialist every other week. This is for the Mamas who are isolated while literally sharing their bodies with another little human at all times and being kicked in the ribs enough. 

Having received the confirmed biological sex of my child through an email right before midnight a bit after the start of the second trimester, my husband and I walked into 20-week ultrasound appointment ready to get it over with. We were not nervous. 

In fact, my husband had fallen asleep on the most uncomfortable chair invented by the human race as the ultrasound technician typed and clicked with different black and white images showing up here and there. 

I was used to being uncomfortable, but then we were notified that I might have to come back. 

I had yet another ultrasound and this one confirmed the initial images and they would have to monitor growth throughout the weeks with an ultrasound machine. 

Most expecting parents wish they had more ultrasound pictures to get a glimpse into the life of their baby and here I was practically filming a reality show. 

So here are my lessons learned in case it is helpful for anyone else out there. 

1. Read up on the reason for the high risk pregnancy 

Yes, knowledge alone doesn’t fix the situation, but being prepared can help. Also, for anxious parents to be this may come natural following reading some more confusing names on the reports.

While learning about a previously unknown medical term does not necessarily reduce stress and anxiety, it might help to recognize some treatment options and approaches. Even better, you might find a few articles on WebMD not only about the condition, but also about successful medical treatments and trends. Treatments that were out of reach of science and the typical medical care consumer years ago are now possible and the future might be even better. 

2. Talk to a professional councilor, therapist, or life coach

Or, another option is to talk to a very patient and caring friend. You and your baby may be the only ones going through the pregnancy, but you need a village because it takes a village. 

It is also good to let others know that what you are going through is not typical, so that they should not be caught off-guard when you don't react to medical appointments with the same enthusiasm as a first time parent without any diagnoses.

3. Save as much PTO as possible

My single and childless days included staycations and time off for long lunches or more pleasant road trips. I hate to say it, but almost no one has the time off required to meet the requirements of high risk pregnancy appointments. It was very embittering using up days that would ideally be vacation days, being spent from the emotional labor, and feel like I had to make up for my absence at work. 

4. Don’t expect any medical intervention following birth

I assumed that once the baby was born that it was time for medical intervention and everything would be behind us by the time we reached 12 months of age. It was profoundly naive because doctors don’t want to take undue risks. 

How Many Shoes Do Little Kids Need?


Toddlers need at least two pairs of shoes for the same every day purpose.

The Feels

Today I'm all in my feels about shoes. 

Yes, There are a ton of other pressing matters not only in the world, but also in my neighborhood and my home. There are these slow burning proverbial fires that need to be addressed. 

But here I am, having feelings about shoe shopping. 

Let Me Explain

I don't get shoes for myself. I am lacking shoes for many essential tasks and instead have several practical pairs that minimalist parents have (or just those parents who gave up on mimicking the latest genz trends). One day I hope to change that, but until then and for always, I want to equip my kids with seasonally appropriate and fitting shoes. 

This is sometimes hard given that kids have growth spurts and seasons can change abruptly. 

My youngest has perfectly CHONKY feet. They're not long or too wide, but they are perfectly pudgy so shoes have a hard time getting on and the ankle is the roundest part for the size. He had managed to not fit in his first set of water shoes, so I had to take measures for getting him his summer sandals. I took my child into the real world for this and he loved every minute of it. 

I ended up getting him two pairs, one for those playground, hiking, sandbox days, and one for times when he has to dress up a little more for the 90 degree or hotter days.

And there is nothing more of a hint that your child is growing up than shoe shopping. Crib or soft soled shoes are no longer good enough and the more practical and real the shoes are, the more of a reminder it is that your little one is growing up. RIP the cutest soft soled shoes ever! And I mean ever!  

Robeez are the best crib shoes ever

And for the first time in a while, I got shoes that were not Merrells. I swear I might as well be a salesperson for Merrells because I keep getting them for my eldest, but in this case the ability to try on actual shoes in real life really helped me out in the journey to finding shoes that actually fit my difficult to fit child. Having gone through several return and replace pairs this year, this was a plus that cannot be beaten by the broad selection cyberspace has to offer. Max and Jake and Dr. Scholls won!

Formal Toddler Sandals

Fun Climbing and Hiking Toddler Sandals

I got this question from some people and I want to go and explain why little kids need two pairs of shoes if the budget will allow it. Little kids get dirty, splash in puddles, and manage to fall into bodies of water if they have a chance. Between mud, sandboxes, and the ovation all pond, there will always be a reason why you need to wash their shoes. That’s why having two pairs really helps. I know other parents who love rain boots, flip flops and other things. And those are great options if they work for your family, but my kids manage to lose their shoes too often to make these a real option for some situations. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Being a Toddler Parent is Rough on a Former Gifted Kid

Being a toddler parent is rough on anyone. I personally love toddlers and even I can only hear "but why, Mama?" so many times before I start getting annoyed. I can only have my child put his whole hand in his poop filled diaper so many times before I want to scream. I can only have my child run into the street without looking once in each direction so many times before enunciating through my teeth as I try not to lose it. 

 Clearly this would be below standard if there was a grade for parenting. 

It's extra tough when you grew up being able to ace the rubric. There's a difference between inherent intelligence, being able to problem solve, gain knowledge, and score well on tests. For the sake of this opinion piece we can be as oblivious to this as many of the school systems during my youth. Let's go ahead.

I used to love the rubrics and being able to deliver or over-deliver. I was used to having to prove to be proficient at multiple things at all times. I was used to being above average and having statistics on my side indicating this to be true. 

As someone who did not get a lot of family support for my academic achievement, because I was not the golden child (more on that later), I used good grades and being the in gifted classes as a compass for myself esteem. I knew what success was for that early age and I had it. 

Now fast-forward to 25 or some years later. There's no rubric or test answer key. There are actions and consequences. The probabilities of different outcomes underscore how much of human life is a continuous gamble. 

I will also be honest and say that, I was a better parent to one child than I am to two children. The divided attention is required and I really hope that the teamwork and social development that my kids have as siblings will compensate for my inability to look at either of their lives under the microscope on a continuous basis. 

One unfortunate truth about parenting is that just like you can have an A in English and a D in Physics, you can succeed in some parenting areas and fail altogether in others. And the awful thing is that I am too close to know the real gaps in my knowledge or talent. Sure I know that I have to say "no" with more conviction, but I am missing the big picture. There’s a chance that there is something big that I am missing that will be so obvious in 20 years when the little ones are not so little anymore.

Former gifted kids have anxiety down pat because we are used to rubrics, roadmaps, plans, recipes, standards, statistics. All of the comforts of the ivory tower that only provide a false sense of security in the modern world.   

The other hard truth is that we have to either watch our kids struggle with the same things that we struggled with or we watch them struggle with things that we found easy in our youth. And then other times when they happen to figure something out seemingly out of nowhere, we have to wonder if they're going to be just fine. 

And here’s the thing. They will figure it out. The world that we grew up with no longer exists. And in a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter if you can live up to your own expectations or if you end up giving yourself a lot of grace.  

And Then We All Got COVID

Every day felt like we were just getting the life sucked out of us with no light at the end the tunnel. And then we all got COVID. Cover art...