It’s important to celebrate the wins as a parent. It’s the only way to stay sane.Read More...
I confess…I lie more often than I want to, and it’s a bad habit. Please don’t judge me. Let me explain. Growing up, I had a very superstitious upbringing (being Filipino). I was fed stories of mermaids who could potentially grab and drown you if you stand too close to the river or monsters who ate only children. A horror movie in the making? You BET, and there have been many made since then. #gottalovefilipinoroots
As I grew older, I obviously saw the intent for these stories and swore to myself I would never use those tactics with my daughter. In fact, I set myself a standard to NEVER lie to my kid. I envisioned my very logical-self being able to reason with whatever my daughter would challenge me with. I swore to myself I would do this with the intent that my daughter would mature. I would use the same logical reasoning with my husband but with the patience of Mary Poppins. And honestly, I did pretty damn well in the first 2 years of Everly’s life.
THE EARLY NON-LYING STAGES
Everly was a smart and balanced little girl. She learned sign language early, and by the time she was 6 months old, she communicated with us. She was mellow andshe took “no” very well. Once she was a little over 1 year old, she was speaking. By 2 years old, she could hold a full conversation. We would go to Disneyland and toy stores where she would ask for us to buy her things. We would say no, and she would simply give them a hug and say ‘goodbye.’ If I asked her to eat something specific, and she originally refused, I was able to tell her WHY this was important, WHY she needed to eat it (logically), and she gave in. Then, something happened. I remember it vividly…
We went on a family vacation to Orlando when Everly was 2.5 years old. In the last few months prior, she had been playing with another 2 little girls at her school, which her teachers at the time warned me they were negatively impacting her. They were a little bossier and one child was physical. That’s another story for another time, but it did change Everly. In addition to that she was also turning into a threenager. She screamed, she didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It was a challenge, but we stuck to our guns. Sometimes we won, sometimes she was in time out for a long time, but we were getting worn down.
We took a red-eye flight to Orlando (our mistake, which we will never do again). Everly didn’t sleep at all. We went to Disneyworld after we landed, hoping she would crash when she was tired, but instead, she was worse than a zombie. She was a flesh-eating, shrieking zombie who needed what she wanted and needed it now. She needed to see a princess, and if there wasn’t one available…MELTDOWN CENTRAL. The pepperoni on her pizza fell on her napkin…MELTDOWN. She wanted to eat, but she didn’t want to leave the room…MELTDOWN. This all happened before noon.
She was clearly overtired. It was a perfect storm of what she had been exposed to in the last few months, the development that she experienced going from baby to vocal toddler, and the fact that we all had NO sleep. And then it happened…
It was dinner time. We were staying in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, conveniently with animals outside our balcony. She hadn’t had a proper meal all day. She was flipping out with the food that was on the table. She was screaming, pulling her clothes, yelling “NO,” and would just not eat. We were frantic trying to keep her volume down not to bother other hotel guests who probably thought we were torturing our child.
And I blurt out…”Everly, if you don’t eat and calm down the BEARS will hear you!”
And Justin, blurts out…”Yeah, and they’ll EAT YOU.” (as I whispered, “too far, babe, babe, too far.)
And Everly’s response?
She went completely silent.
Looked at us with big, wide eyes with a slight feeling of concern.
“Yes, Bears…” I said in a nervous tone.
“Okay, then we better hurry.” Everly says, as she heads to the table, and complies, without a fight, without tears, and eats ALL her food.
We thought, what are we thinking? Bears??!! WTF – How messed up are we? But it worked… And we abused it. We’ve now taken it to another level.
When she fights sleep or fights eating, or can’t self regulate herself, the bears knock on doors.To this day (a year later), she still complies. She sometimes yells, “BEARS, DON’T COME, I’M EATING, okay?”
Do we feel like horrible parents? We totally did, and then I realized, YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT KEEPS YOU SANE AND YOUR CHILD HEALTHY.
Logic doesn’t always work with a child. When time is limited, reason doesn’t always work, and I don’t have hours to let her figure things out. We use bears. I stopped being critical of myself. I stopped letting judgment hit me on our methods. I don’t use it all the time. I use it when all else has fails and she’s at risk of impacting her health – eating, sleeping, self harm. Sometimes you need to access your crazy imagination to help your kids.
I think of the alternative. I could let her not sleep (or pass out). She will likely not pass out. She will be tired, cranky, upset. I could let her skip dinner, wake up hungry with stomach pains. I could let her cry until she’s done. I’ve tried this before (and she will outlast 45 mins). Her throat hurts and she’s upset.
OR, I can tell her the bears are coming. In the same way parents use Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny. I chose the mythical creature. One day, I will tell her the truth. Until then, my child is rested, and happy and safe from the bears. Until the next time she decides she doesn’t want to listen.
Share this blog with someone who needs a reminder they’re not crazy…because there are crazier parents like us. 🙂
Oh, The ‘coveted’ Mom Tribe! I never knew something I hadn’t heard about until I was in my 30’s was going to be so valuable in my experience as a mom. What is a mom tribe (or what I’d like to call a parent tribe)? A mom tribe is a valuable and irreplaceable group of moms (or dads) who will support you in every emotional crisis of being a mom. This tribe is who you go to when your crying on the kitchen floor postpartum after losing it because your newborn won’t sleep. They remind you that you are not alone. This is the tribe who you call when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t know what you are doing because your toddler has just lost her sh*t the whole day . They remind you that you DO know what you’re doing. It’s the tribe you call when work has taken over your life, and the ONE day you are home with your daughter, she tells you to “Go back to Colorado,” (Side note: We live in California, and I travel to Boulder for work). The reminder you need to get it together because you’re a strong PARENT and what you’re doing is amazing.
You can see why this is such a coveted tribe. Guess what else I learned? I suppose I never thought of the day that some of my friends would be having children too, and some won’t. I also never knew that after having already evolved my group of friends from High School to College, and College to my adult life, that it would need to evolve again when I became a parent. In the beginning, it was awkward and guilt-ridden. I was trying to balance becoming a parent (while also still trying to maintain a career), taking care of a child, staying married, staying employed (and valuable), and if there’s any time left, spending it on me.
My weekdays are non-stop: School drop off, make the 7 am meeting, work through lunch, rush to pick up Everly, bring her to ballet, rush home to make dinner, clean up, put her to bed by 7:30 pm, finish whatever I was doing before, and CRASH at 9 pm. FIVE DAYS OF THIS, and all I want to do on the weekend is sleep. Some friends understood this, and some friends didn’t. That’s okay. It did highlight the need for a tribe. If I wanted to keep sane and not turn into a complete hermit, I had to make some friends. This meant opening myself up to new people, or rekindling with others who maybe had kids before me…of course, in addition to gravitating towards some of my other friends who were in the same phase of life as me.
I then realized, it was key to have the RIGHT people in your tribe. Having the wrong tribe can just add more drama and can fuel your insecurities as a mom. It took time for me to evolve the right balance of mom friends to create a tribe, and here are some tips I learned to ensure you have the right mom tribe.
1) Have a diverse tribe
- It’s easy to find a mommy/daddy group, that meshes well, and does everything together. If you have this rare unicorn, that’s great! But make sure this group can support you in the different problems you might encounter in each facet of parenthood: Work, home, interfamily relationships, marriage, and aspirations! It’s important that you have someone in your tribe that you can go to for different things. No two moms are alike!
2) Have a Candid tribe
Being candid doesn’t mean your tribe can say ‘whatever’ they want, ‘whenever they want.’ It means that they will be honest with you, at the right time, in the right way. They don’t let issues “fester” and are honest with their relationship with you. This makes for a lasting friendship.
3) Have compatible parenting styles
I’m not suggesting you can’t be friends with all moms/dads. But when it comes to your tribe, there is an importance in parenting style compatibility. The time you have together has to be stress-free, and you have to be on the same page about how you may deal with your children (especially in public). Let me give you an example. If you’re a parent who emphasizes the importance of independence – allowing your child to explore, fall on their own, etc.. – it can be very stressful for another parent who doesn’t agree with those methods to have their child(ren) interact with yours while they see “Bobby’s mom act differently.” It might be a small difference reading it in a blog, but I have seen this first-hand cause stress among the kids and their parents.
4) Have a drama-free tribe
If you find yourself stressed out about what your tribe is going to say to you or behind your back, that’s a red flag. A true tribe should be your getaway. An opportunity to let go, be yourself and simply exhale. If you find yourself juggling gossip between your tribe friends instead of healthy venting, and you’re hearing a lot of complaining, then find another tribe. That environment can be toxic and contagious. Enough said on this one…
5) Have a tribe that supports you, not enables you
A strong tribe means strong women (or men), which means there is also some healthy tough love. As much as your tribe should be there to listen to your struggles as a parent, they should be there to help you through it, not just enable it. If they feed into your negative thoughts and consistently validate them – no matter how good it feels in the short term, it’s not healthy. You want to be understood and empathized with, but your tribe should also be willing to help see you through victory in these situations. They don’t just show up to hear the drama, they show up to help you through it in a positive way. They are the ones who show up to play dates, not just to take advantage of some playtime outside their home, but also help clean up! They are the ones who listen to your struggles but are also the first ones, yoga pants and all, to pour you a glass of wine and help you figure out what you’re going to do next.
I always heard that “It takes a village to raise a child.” They weren’t kidding and it also takes a village to keep you sane as a mother. I’m grateful for the tribe I have, and all the wonderful things they have taught me. Bonds from your tribe cannot be broken, no matter how often or infrequent you actually see each other. Cheers to all your rockstar parents, supporting other parents.
If you’re thankful for your tribe, tag them, and share this post with them. Thank them for keeping you sane.
Mom guilt can be a struggle. They creep up in common topics and questions every day. Read how I’ve learned how to control its control over me.Read More...