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What motherhood has taught me….

A mom shares lessons learned as she juggles her family and career….

Raising Awareness to Online Dangers…When Your Parental “A” Game is Really Just a “C Minus”

I consider myself a vigilant parent.  I have to be considering that just about everything my kids do is in some way intertwined with technology – which let me just say that I hate with a passion.  Gone are the days of just reading a book, or drawing, or playing outside and using one’s imagination (despite my best efforts to steer them in this direction).  So much of today’s generation is so highly influenced and impacted by smart phones, online gaming, and various apps that I feel as if we’re raising a bunch of robots instead of human beings.  Even the schools have shifted their focus, utilizing online communication methods that include but are not limited to issuing all students their own email accounts and posting homework assignments on online forums.  Our school has even gone so far as to encourage the use of smart phones in the classroom (give me a break) as a means of accessing educational information.  To that I call “bulls**.  Do you know how many Instagram pics I see posted of kids while they are in school?  Lets just say its enough to make me wonder how much learning is actually taking place.

So with this push to be so technologically advanced, I have had to up my parental “A” game.  While my kids do have smart phones their usage comes with strict conditions.  They also have and a computer which also has its usage rules.  They DO NOT have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat accounts which many of their friends have.  And until this school year they didn’t even have email accounts; that was until the school issued each student their own email addresses (something I am not really a proponent of and wish I was given a say in).

So what’s a parent to do when all this technology so readily available?  Well, I routinely check my kid’s text messages to make sure that the content they are texting is appropriate.  My kids know to expect this and know that if I find something that is questionable or inappropriate I am going to ask them about it and if necessary offer up the appropriate discipline.  I also check the websites that they visit for all of the same reasons and with the same consequences.  Seems adequate right – NOPE – not even close.  It seems that the “A” game I thought I had brought to the parental table was more of a C – game.  Why you ask?  Well it seems that despite my best efforts, there were and are many facets of the online scene that I underestimated in my children.  Did they intentional set out to mislead me – maybe, maybe not.  Part of me believes that innocently enough they themselves were mislead while the other part of me knows that I didn’t give them enough credit for their online smarts.

So again I ask, what’s a parent to do?

Ask questions, questions answers, be involved, and be present in all that your kids do technologically.  Set limits on their online time, no matter if it’s texting, gaming, chatting, or accessing the web.  If your gonna read through texts don’t assume that that what your reading is all that there was to read.  Just recently as I was reading through my older sons text messages I realized that what I was reading not only didn’t make sense, but was actually choppy bits of various text conversations occurring at multiple times.  When I questioned my son about this I learned that he’d actually deleted some of his conversations because he didn’t want me to know that he’d been texting this girl with whom I had forbidden him to text due in part to how nasty she’d treated him both in person and online.  This brings us to another point, block numbers you don’t want your kids to have access to.  There is no rule that says your child needs to be accessible to everyone.  Utilize parental controls and block those numbers that your child doesn’t need to be associating with.

Read the content of your kids texts and don’t be afraid to intervene.  On more than one occasion I have stepped in as the parent to ask friends of my kids to please watch what it is that they are saying as I don’t appreciate the content of their texts.  Usually this elicits an apology and puts an end to the petty nonsense that kids partake in.  Once it even warranted me receiving a phone call from another parent and we discussed the matter so as to resolve it.  Kudos to them for also reading their child’s text messages.

Read the content of your kids texts and don’t be afraid to call out a number you don’t recognize and then if necessary – block it.  My older son was getting hassled by a few numbers that I didn’t recognize so I stepped in to inquire who it was that was texting his number.  I got some smart ass response from one of the numbers because the person texting thought I was my son – to which I  revealed that I was the parent who owned the phone and that if he was going to keep harassing my son I would take things to the next level.  The texts stopped but for extra measure I blocked the number.

Don’t assume that text messaging only take place on your kids phones.  With all of the online gaming that exists there are many chat opportunities within games in which players can communicate with one another.  What seems innocent enough with these games can quickly turn ugly.  My older son was playing one such game and deep in conversation with some of the other players when the conversation took an ominous turn. One of the other players started threatening my son.  That was bad enough but turned worse when the player told my son he knew where he lived (and was able to state our address) and that he was going to come after him.  Now I don’t know enough about this particular game or how this chat room in the game works to know how this player was able to identify my son through his screen character, but it brings to light a whole new level of online bullying and a danger than many parents may not be fully aware of.  The long and the short this experience was that I was finally able to identify who it was that was threatening my son and followed it up through the appropriate channels.  My boys have also been restricted on playing any online games which have chat rooms for the very reason that you just never know who is taking to your kids.

And finally, know the websites your kids are surfing, use parental controls on those websites you don’t want your kids accessing, and give your kids credit for being a hell of a lot smarter when it comes to technology than you wish they were.  Do not underestimate what it is they know or how it is they can do something because you will set yourself up for a very big shock and quite possibly some very big trouble.  Case in point, thanks in part to a hair-brained scheme and some peer pressure from a less than stellar friend, that lovely email address that the school issued him, and a few mistruths as to his age, my eldest son was able to create an Ebay account and was actually trying to bid on toys.  It was his father and step-mom who actually got wind of what was going on and intervened before any major damage was done.  Now I don’t want to sound naive, but never in a million years would I have given my son the credit to have pulled this off.  Underestimating my son was my greatest error and thankfully a great eye-opener to all the additional things out there that I need to be vigilant of.

Vigilance, open and honest communication with your kids, and being involved are so key in these technological times to keeping them safe and protected.  With all that is out there, there is never a moment we can be lax, let our guard down, or be complacent in our parental duties.  Our children are smart, resourceful and without fear as to truly understanding the dangers that they may encounter.  We as parents must be smarter, more resourceful and more vested than ever to ensure that our children remain safe, protected and act responsibly in a world that is growing faster than we can often keep up with.

 

Every Husband Should be Just a Little Jack Pearson….

For anyone that’s watched the show “This Is Us” you know what I am talking about.  It’s near to impossible to watch the show and not think “I wish my man was a little more Jack Pearson.”  After all, Jack Pearson is a man who embodies family, love, loyalty, devotion, hard-work, passion, and – well, you get my point.  And while he also has his faults, which help to remind us that he is after-all human; all together he is a man that women all over have fallen in love with.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband.  But there are things about him that I wish I could polish up a bit.  And while I am not intentionally trying to compare him to Jack (it’s not fair in a sense to compare him to a man that doesn’t actually exist), it’s hard not to wish that he possessed more of Jack’s endearing qualities.  I mean, who wouldn’t love a little more romance, a little more passion, and definitely more family time?

For women, we value intimacy in our relationship.  We need the passion, the love, and the emotional connection because ultimately that is what adds meaning and value to our relationship.  In order for there to be an us, there needs to be a foundation capable of supporting us.  This foundation needs to be full of not only big things such as love, trust, loyalty, devotion and hard-work; but also those little things that many times get taken for granted or get lost in the chaos of everyday activity.  We need the love notes, the flowers, the surprise dinner plans, and the thoughtful gestures that acknowledge our needs.

Jack Pearson gives us pause to reflect on what it is that makes “our us,” and what “our us” can be if we just take a moment to appreciate the person we fell in love with.

Entitlements of a Mom….

Motherhood comes with many entitlements that may not be understood by some – but will definitely be understood by other moms.  They are as follows….

  1.  It is perfectly acceptable to hide chocolate from both your kids and your husband and then lock yourself in the bathroom to eat it.
  2. If I want to have cookies or chips for breakfast then I am going to despite the fact that I have strictly be forbidden my kids to do the same.
  3. If you are going to demand that I drive you to school (which btw is within walking distance) before I have had a chance to put myself together then yes I will do it in my pajamas, braless, with my hair matted to one side of my head – and watch out because I might even get out of the car, kiss you goodbye while shouting hello to your friends.
  4. Any mess made by me will be cleaned up when I damn well feel like cleaning it up.  Any mess made by you better be cleaned up when I say it needs to be cleaned up.
  5. Dinner options will be selected by me 95% of the time and if you do not like what has been chosen then please feel free not to eat it (that goes for my husband as well).
  6. Occasionally my “crazy” will come out in the form of a spastic freak-out that most certainly will involve curse words and yelling.  Please be advised that this is not the time to ask me anything and that for your safety you should just leave me alone.  Chances are either you, my dear children, or you, my wonderful husband have driven me to this moment so the least you can do is let me have it in all it’s glory.
  7. “No” is a word that I can use and will use when deemed necessary and appropriate so as to protect you, guide you, and ensure that you act like decent, caring, respectful human beings.
  8. I will make my bed when and if I feel like it.
  9. I do not have to like your friends and I will voice my opinion about who you are hanging out with, calling, and texting.
  10. School work is not optional so you can bet your ass I will be up yours to make sure you are getting it done.
  11. Occasionally I might actually get to sit down.  If you find me as such, leave me in this position until I decide it’s time to get up.
  12. If I want to buy something for myself then I am going to because I usually don’t (have you seen my wardrobe lately?).

House Sold on a Contingency… Life Hangs in the Balance….

A while back I posted that we were looking to move and had put our house on the market.  Keeping the house clean was no small feat with three very active kids (and one messy husband – sorry honey but you are) who own way to much stuff and (despite my best efforts) still can’t clean up after themselves (mom fail).  To date, after some aggravating negotiating we accepted an offer, made it through attorney review and are patiently waiting for our buyers to sell their home so that we can start looking (officially) for our new home.  Yep that’s right… We are living in limbo…

So, while we wait “patiently”for the green light to move ahead,  I’ve been looking around our house and have come to the very obvious conclusion that we own way to much crap.  There is just no way I can pack up this entire house by myself (because you know that will be the case).  Just thinking about the enormity of the task is overwhelming in itself…lol.  Thus I am in a major purge mode.  My kids are under advisement that the time has come to  part with things that they have outgrown and donate those items to the charitable organization we usually donate to.   I myself have been going through my stuff in an effort to lighten the load.  Hopefully by the time we can move forward with the actual packing up portion of this process we will have reduced our stuff greatly.

More to come in the near future.  Fingers crossed that my buyers get an offer very soon….

Things I have learned as both a wife and mom – episode ???

  1.  Inevitably after you clean the entire house your kids will want a snack, and usually it will be crackers or something similar that leaves lots of crumbs.
  2. My husband deals with the kids a fraction of the day and often runs out of patience in that short time – but has the nerve to ask why I am on the verge of insanity.
  3. Food shopping has taken on a whole new meaning now that my toddler refuses to stay in the cart.
  4. You make them dinner, they tell you they hate what you made them and refuse to eat, and then the next night request that very same meal.
  5. Asking “why” of your children is a very useless question.
  6. I can only imagine what I look like to others when I take my three kids out to the store (notice I didn’t say I cared)
  7. I can piss my kids off just by asking them if they brushed their teeth or made their bed.
  8. I now smell my kids hair when they get out of the shower because apparently using shampoo is viewed as optional.
  9. I also request to smell their breath after they supposedly brush their teeth because toothpaste seems to also be a tricky concept.
  10. Common sense seems to be something my kids are lacking.
  11. Just once I want to make dinner for only myself, sit down to eat, give an evil laugh and eat my food while its still hot – all while my family looks on in confusion and amazement.
  12. Why am I the only one that recognizes when the garbage needs to go out?
  13. There are many days when coffee won’t even come close to cutting it.
  14. Not even the bathroom offers the solace it once did…
  15. My cleaning technique is now to walk around with a garbage bag.  Hey I gave you a warning….

Words, Phrases, and Sounds Every Mom Dreads Hearing…

A compilation of words, phrases, and sounds both I and my fellow mom friends have heard over the years….Feel free to add your own….

  1. “I don’t feel so good.”
  2. “I’m think I’m gonna throw-up.”
  3. The sound of vomiting.
  4. “But why?”
  5. “Please can we keep it?”
  6. Dead silence – after all silence is very suspicious with kids.
  7. “I don’t care.”
  8. “Hey mom (at 7:30 pm on a Sunday night) – I need to go to the store and get  some supplies for my school project which is due tomorrow.”
  9. Child offers to help you do some chores around the house.  You assign them a chore to do.  “But I don’t want to do that.” 😦
  10. Child begs you to let them rake the leaves in the yard.  You reluctantly agree knowing full well what the outcome will be.  Sure enough, ten minutes later not only do you not hear any raking going on anymore but they are standing idly in the yard complaining that they are tired.
  11. “I’m soooooo bored.  There nothing to do.” – usually a statement made while they are standing amidst a room full of toys and books.
  12. “Check my forehead – I know I have a fever.” Yep ice cold – just as I suspected.
  13. “I have nothing to wear.” – said while standing in front of a closet full of clothes
  14. “So and so is a jerk” – a few days pass….”Can I go play with so and so (the same one that was just a jerk.”
  15. “But why do I have to brush my teeth?” – seriously as if this is even a question to be asked.  The same thing goes for showering.
  16. “Mom, my teacher wants to talk to you on Monday morning.”  Of course she does…
  17. “Can I borrow some money?”
  18. Said while eating dinner, “I’m full (plate still half full)” Swears they can’t possibly eat another bite and nods head when told that they better not ask for something to eat later…….A half hour later “Mom I am starving.”  Shocker – never saw that one coming.

 

And a final one – though it’s for us wives and significant others – “Honey I don’t feel so good.”  Might as well pack your bags right there and go to a hotel and hide out until his case of the sniffles has passed.  After all, there is nothing worse than a grown many proclaiming that he’s dying from a stuffy nose.

Words of Wisdom, Pearls to Ponder…

Look past the materialism of what the holidays are advertised to be and look within the holidays for the true meaning of what they represent.  Cherish moments with family and friends for the value they can add to your life.  Savor those special moments with your children because they are rich in the magic of what innocence is.  Give to those who are struggling and without, because selflessness, kindness, and charity can bring so much joy to so many lives.

Fostering a Generation of Ignorance

As wonderful as it is to “Google something” and have answers immediately, this instant accessibility has, in my opinion, done a great disservice to my children.  In essence, this accessibility has fostered a generation of ignorance.  This is not to say that my children are ignorant – because clearly they are knowledgeable; but rather to say that there is an ignorance that exists when it comes to assimilating information for the purpose of deducing the answers independent from the influence of the internet.  The instant gratification of having the answers at their fingertips has detracted from their desire to delve into existing information so as to formulate answers based off of known facts.  While certainly there is a convenience factor to ensuring that they get answers quickly, I want my children to be able to sort through various credible readings and information so that they might be able to integrate what it is they have read, in an effort to come up with answers based on their abilities to process, assimilate, and deduce.  I guess you could say that I want them to use their brains and think for themselves, not just write down an answer because it’s handed to them online.  I am concerned that the ability to assimilate and apply information to solve a problem is becoming a lost art with the generation of today.

I want the best for my kids.  And in wanting the best for them, I want them to be able to use the tools that are out there to assist them in their way of thinking, not stunt their mental growth by making things easy for them.  I want them ask questions and be challenged to process through information as they seek out the answers, not settle for the first quick answer that they are given.  I want them to know not only how to look for information, but be able to determine the validity of that information and in turn use it to formalize their answers, or if applicable use it to ask more questions.

We’ve created a culture of immediate gratification on multiple levels.  The mentality of do it faster and do it now has come at a price, and if we are not careful, the tide is going to turn and the result will be less than favorable.  The humanity behind our actions and abilities cannot be overshadowed by technology if it comes at the cost of our intelligence.

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Is this what we have become?

As a mom I believe that I have a great responsibility to instill within my children the values of honesty, integrity, truthfulness, acceptance, appreciation, benevolence, bravery, charity, compassion, conviction, courage, dependability, empathy, faith, generosity, helpfulness, love, modesty, patience, sincerity, and trustworthiness.  I believe that it is my job as a parent to teach them right from wrong, to encourage them to reach for the stars, to problem-solve, to question injustice, and to not be afraid to be their own person….

There have been days when this has come easy, and there have been days when this has been (and will continue to be) a monumental challenge – especially when its seems as if the world we live in is fraught with more and more corruption, dishonesty, rejection, hate, violence, greed, gluttony, and rudeness.  To turn on the news is to cringe as the majority of stories aired depict deplorable acts of murder, rape, child abuse, assault, robbery, fraud, hate, and discrimination.  Positive role models are few and far between; and the majority of those at the forefront of our nation, have more skeletons in their closets than a graveyard has graves.  While I want to protect and shield my children from all that is ugly, the reality is that I can’t.  The ugliness is to0 prolific and too intertwined in their lives.  Case in point, just the other day my older son’s school was in lockdown due to a bomb threat that was called into his school.  For 45 minutes my child sat in a classroom, uncertain of what might await him, as state police combed the halls.  I was left to wait; and while I waited for word on what was going on, I prayed.  When he came home safe I thanked God and hugged him tight.  And then I got mad that some sick bastard felt the need to bring their ugliness, their hate, and their poison into our lives.

America needs a wake up call.  We may be the land of the free but when should that freedom come at the expense of others?  When did it become socially acceptable to lie, to cheat, to steal, and to step on one another for personal gain.  The sense of entitlement that has over time become engrained in our culture is in itself detrimental to our growth as a society.  What is cloaked in “we” and “us” in reality seems to be more “I” focused.  How can we grow together when our motives are segmented?  How can we grow together when so clearly inequalities divide our positions?  We have created a culture of immediate gratification where everyone wants to be first and waiting one’s turn is no longer an acceptable option.  We have seemingly become a nation that is more broken than it is whole.

As a mom I am sickened at all that I must wade through in order to find those moments that truly reflect what it is I want my children to embody and to emulate.  It doesn’t mean that I will stop wading, but rather that I will look harder to find and savor those moments, those people, those experiences that will nourish what I want my children to see and who I want them to be.

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