Sorry Working Moms, You’re Getting Bashed Again

I’m popping out of my blog-break to rant. Today I (stupidly) read an opinion piece that flat-out stated daycare is bad for kids. And that studies claiming “the kids are alright” are actually carefully crafted so as not to hurt working women’s feelings with the truth.

Naturally, working fathers were not mentioned in the post.

I’m not linking to the piece because a) I think it’s BS and b) it turns out to be an old post making the rounds a second time and you probably already read it. But allow me to rage for a moment. Or longer.

This blogger’s argument makes the following (wrong) assumptions:

That all children at home are automatically receiving higher-quality care than those in daycare.

That all women have a choice between staying home with their children, and going out to work.

That there was some golden point in history where no mother worked outside the home, and the children were all perfect as a result.

That mothers who did stay at home were always focused solely on caring for their children.

That wealthy mothers who stayed home never hired other women to care for their children. (See: Downton Abbey.)

That mothers who work outside the home today are doing so to afford “luxuries” like [insert things other families are supposed to learn to live without if only they made sacrifices].

That mothers who could afford to live comfortably off their partner’s income but choose to work to afford said luxuries are automatically bad mothers.

That mothers who do have financial choice and still opt to work outside the home because [insert any other reason] are automatically bad mothers.

That men are more ambitious than women and wouldn’t choose to stay home with their children anyway.

That fathers who work outside the home never have anything to do with the raising of their children.

That fathers who work outside the home are never doing so for selfish reasons, or even if they are, that’s ok, because men!

That women are always the better caregivers and should therefore always be the ones to stay home with the children.

That marriages never break up.

That there are no single parents.

That there are no same-sex parents.

That all women who stay home with their children want to do so.

That women can just pick up where they left off career-wise after staying home for X years to care for children.

That mothers who do stay home never have all or some of their children in daycare or preschool.

That sending a child 3.5 and up to school full-time is fine, expected even, but daycare is “letting others raise your children for you”.

I could go on. But bear with me a little longer…

Let’s just say, it’s true: children in daycare are at higher risk of x, y or z. I don’t believe it, but for the sake of argument, let’s go there. So, what now? Many if not most mothers work! Have to, want to, whatever. This is not changing! So maybe something else needs to. Maybe…

We could be a more family-friendly society over all, one that actually cares about the well-being of all children, and supports all parents in caring for theirs? Where women—and men—didn’t have to fear career-suicide for putting their families first when necessary?

There could be better parental leave for both mothers and fathers (we’re pretty fortunate here in Canada, but not everyone can take advantage of it, for financial or other reasons)?

There could be more flex-time, telecommuting, or job-sharing options?

We could value child care workers, and pay them a decent wage?

Or, what if there were more on-site daycares, so families could reduce the number of hours their children are in care and maximize the time they spend together?

What if we had universal child care, so those opting or needing to put their children in care could be assured it is of high quality, and not just what they could afford to cobble together?

What if instead of offering working mothers criticism (because let’s be honest, the articles are never about “working fathers”), we offered solutions and support?

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Filed under babies, career, child care, education, gender issues, in the news, parenting, pet peeves, Uncategorized, work, working parents

No More Periodic Fevers?

If you’ve kept up with our family’s experiences with PFAPA, you’ll remember BB#2 had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy back in October 2013. Knock wood (because I’m still paranoid enough to do that whenever I say this), he hasn’t had any mystery fevers since! Yes, he’s gotten sick, but it’s been with coughs and colds, like other kids. We know there’s no guarantee that the fevers won’t recur (he still occasionally gets the mouth sores, so I know it’s not completely “cured”), but for now, we’re just grateful for this long break–for him, for our family.

Which is why we finally got around to having BB#1’s tonsils out this past week. I know, it seems odd that our younger child had surgery first, but because this syndrome was never as disruptive for our oldest, and because he was older when we figured it all out, we held out hope he’d grow out of it without surgery. But he’s 11 now, and still getting the fevers, about once a month. We did try prednisone with him and it did stop the symptoms, but like we experienced with his brother, the fevers seemed to come closer together–the last time we used it, he was sick again less than two weeks later. He was getting tired of getting sick, even if it was only for 24-72 hours at a time. And we didn’t want him heading into junior high missing school once a month. We all agreed tonsillectomy was our only option at this point.

So far he’s recovering well, eating lots of soft cold things, playing lots of video games. We have our fingers crossed that this is the end of it. Though I’m still pondering my bloggy future, I know people land here in their search for information on this syndrome, so I thought I’d share what I hope is our final chapter.

Looking for more information on our experiences with PFAPA? Start here.


Filed under health, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

Earlier this year, I told my sister-in-law a cute anecdote about something BB#1 had said just before his brother was born. As we shared a laugh, I didn’t really notice that the boy himself had gotten up and left the room.

So I’ll admit, I was a bit floored to discover later that he was angry with me–for telling a story about him without asking first. I didn’t consider the story an embarrassing one at all–it has never been my intention to make my children the butt of a joke or to humiliate them in any way, and I abhor the child-shaming that seems to be so rampant online these days (have some foresight, parents!) In actual fact, the point of telling the story had been to show what a clever toddler he had been! But I suddenly remembered being his age, and how I felt at being the topic of conversation–or more specifically, the source of humour–among adults, and I could relate.

It was probably around the same time that I read this post by Tracy Chappell: Why I’m Breaking Up With My Blog. As an editor and writer for Today’s Parent, Tracy had blogged long before I jumped in. And not for the first time, my friend made me think. Although I had purposely kept the boys anonymous online, hadn’t used their photos, and wasn’t writing for the size of audience she had (*waves to reader: hi, Mom!*) I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was right: that the older my kids get, the less their stories are mine to tell.

So although I’ve never been the most consistent of bloggers anyway, I found it more and more difficult to come up with posts that didn’t make me wonder, “would my son(s) want me to share this?” I suppose I could have just asked them, but really, as Jennifer Pinarski points out in her own blog (suggested reading for new parent bloggers!), that’s expecting a child to make an adult decision.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure of my focus–would this be a “mommy blog“, or a collection of thoughts on random topics? My most popular and most commonly shared posts have been those about reading. And when visitors discover my blog through search terms, it tends to be in their quest for information about PFAPA. When the boys first started having these periodic fevers, there wasn’t much about the condition online, so I chose to share our stories in the hopes of helping other families dealing with it. I hope that I have.

In 2015, my top five posts have been:

But the fact is, this blog is called Mum2BeautifulBoys. And as I wrote early on, one of the main reasons I started blogging was to keep a record of some of the little things about parenting I would otherwise forget over the years if they weren’t written down. So while I’ve explored other topics, it has usually been through my parent-lens. And if I want to shift my boys’ stories offline, I’m not sure M2BB has a reason to exist any more.

So what does this mean for 2016? I’m not sure. I will continue writing, but I may need to create a new space, with a new focus, and a new name (got any good ideas?) And pick up a pen to record my family’s more private moments.

In the meantime, Happy New Year, Mom!😉


*These posts are apparently “out” for 2016.


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Filed under breastfeeding, education, house hunting, moving, my kid just said, parenting, PFAPA, privacy, random, reading, real estate, the beautiful boys

Feminism is Dead

Today Chatelaine released the results of their This is (40ish) poll of Canadian women. As a 40ish woman myself, this is something I can definitely relate to. But the stat that really jumped out at me was that 68% of women surveyed said they were not feminists.

Based on the other responses, it seems to me like most of these women work outside the home, even though many also have children. Some are making good money, which suggests they had access to a high level of education. It seems many are married or in a relationship, presumably of their choosing, while others have exercised the right to divorce. I know for sure they all have the right to vote. All things women here in Canada can do thanks to feminism.

Surely these women don’t want to go back to a time when these things were not possible. So I wondered, what gives? Why would so many reject the label “feminist”? Then it occurred to me: it must be because feminism is no longer needed!

So, that must mean that women–all women, white women as well as women of colour–must earn the same amount as men for the same work!

It must mean that movies and TV now feature 50% female lead characters—and they DO stuff to move the story along (as opposed to being just the wife, girlfriend, damsel in distress, or token female in an ensemble).

Our government is made up of 50% women too, and not just the cabinet.

It must mean that boys and girls can choose to play with and read what they like, without so much as raising an eyebrow.

If feminism is no longer necessary, it must mean “like a girl” is not the worst possible insult that can be hurled at a boy or a man.

Women are no longer judged almost exclusively by their appearance. There is no market for photos of female celebrities without make-up, or wearing bikinis on the beach (even if they have cellulite). Because women can wear whatever they want now.

I guess there are also no more mommy wars articles, because women can not only choose to stay home or to go out to work, no one suggests one is better than the other. Plus, since men now also have this choice, and can exercise it without being criticized or professionally penalized, the term “mommy wars” simply makes no sense.

Women are no longer targeted and threatened by online trolls for expressing opinions, or even for playing video games!

If feminism has done everything it can, I guess women who are harassed or assaulted aren’t automatically asked what they were doing there, what they were wearing, how much they’d had to drink. Even better, it’s great that women can now go out and about just like men, day or night, without fear of being sexually harassed or assaulted at all!

So thank you feminists, but it seems like everything is completely equal now, so we don’t need you anymore.

Oh, wait…


Filed under gender issues, in the news, pet peeves, random, Uncategorized

Portrait of Christmas Past

I bought the first stocking long before we were even trying to have a baby. Red felt with white snowflakes across the top, a happy reindeer, and one word across the toe: JOY. When we finally had our very own bundle of joy, we put his chubby, four-month-old self right into the stocking and used the photo for our Christmas card.

It was fitting, because stockings have always been my favourite part of Christmas morning.

The next year, he couldn’t fit IN the stocking of course, but we dressed him in some festive jammies and a Santa hat, and he held the stocking that once held him.

It became our own little tradition. By the fourth year, there was another baby boy, and another stocking: a sweet snowman with bell at the top of his jaunty red hat. The brothers wore matching pjs: blue, with red santas. Big brother’s smile in the photo that year revealed a grey tooth, which he’d bruised in a fall. Little brother, barely two months old, had no visible neck.

Each year it continued: different jammies, same stockings. Digital photography meant we could take as many shots as necessary to get the perfect one. Which was good, because some years it took more than 100 to get one where both boys were smiling, had their eyes open, and weren’t making a goofy face. The outtakes are as precious as the final portrait. But the best part was always seeing my two beautiful boys, arms around each other’s shoulders.

This year, I let the boys help me choose the pajamas they would wear for the photo. And though they went with “cool snowboarder” over “cute snowman”, it seemed like at 8 and 11, they were still happy to continue the tradition.

But cue all the versions of Landslide, because the annual photo shoot didn’t go as planned, and I don’t think there will be another sitting.

Just like that, things change.

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Filed under babies, parenting, random, the beautiful boys, traditions, Uncategorized

Things Not to Say to a Breastfeeding Mom

Quite a while back a friend shared an article listing things not to say to a formula-feeding mom if you want to support her. It seemed fairly common sense. But I couldn’t help thinking, in a culture where women are STILL being asked to leave public places for nursing their children, and you have to actually look to find a “welcome baby” card, a baby shower gift bag, a big brother book, a baby doll, or a parenting article without an image of a bottle (go ahead, try this at home), breastfeeding mothers need a list like this too. Especially those breastfeeding beyond whatever age is considered “normal” (three months? six months? twelve months? Everyone seems to have their own personal standard that has nothing to do with current professional recommendations!) I finally got around to writing mine:

1. “You’ve never given a bottle?! So, you never…go out alone?!” [said with a look of shock on the face] Well, if the baby is a few weeks or months old, yes, it is entirely possible we haven’t gone out alone. We’re moms now, so life has changed (I suspect many a formula-feeding mom can relate to this too!) Sometimes breastfeeding means we don’t go out. Or that we take the baby. Or some of us pump and leave a cup of ebm. Or we time outings between feedings. Or, if the baby is older, and eats solid food, it is entirely possible we go out (even to work!) and baby nurses when we’re home, and it’s really no big deal.

2. “Why don’t you just pump and leave a bottle?” It’s not that easy. Not every breastfeeding mother can successfully pump. Not every breastfeeding baby will take a bottle. And some of us don’t choose to try for a variety of reasons that really shouldn’t matter to anyone who is not us.

3. “Can’t you just leave formula this one time?” Again, not so easy. Formula isn’t breastmilk and not every baby is easily fooled. And there may be reasons why we choose not to even offer formula. Those reasons don’t have anything to do with judging other mothers for their choices, but we also feel we shouldn’t be judged for ours. Or pressured to change them.

4. “You ARE going to wean him to bottles and formula eventually, right?” [also said with a look of shock] Perhaps that is what some plan to do. When and how and why are also not really anyone’s business. But some of us, perhaps after struggling to make breastfeeding work, are in no hurry to change things. If it’s not broke…And, it matters to you why?

5.”Would you like a blanket? Or do you want to go into the other room/bathroom?” [said when we’ve settled down to feed in a *gasp* public place, or even just someone’s home] No. Just don’t. If we wanted a blanket, we’d have asked for a blanket (but probably not–we have a lot of our own blankets, thanks). Or left the room. And some of us do because that is how we feel comfortable (or because we have nosy babies who have a hard time eating when there are people to look at!) You might feel like you are offering “discretion” for our comfort–instead you are making your own unease obvious. And drawing attention to something others probably wouldn’t haven’t even noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out (my sister likes to tell of a male friend going on about how he didn’t think women should breastfeed in front of others completely oblivious to the fact that she was nursing her newborn at that moment.)

6. “You’ve breastfed for HOW long?/How long ARE you going to breastfeed for?” [there’s that shocked tone and facial expression again] Did you know the average age of weaning for a human is between 2-4 years? No, of course you didn’t, or you wouldn’t give a flying fig how long other mothers and babies nurse for. Now you know.

7. “Oh I could just never do that.”What, exactly, are we supposed to say in response? “Sorry”? “Yes you could”? “No, you’re right, you probably couldn’t”? “Yeah, it is kind of weird”? “Way to make me feeding my baby all about you”? And really, that is what most of these comments do.

8. “I’m all for breastfeeding, but…” Stop. Just stop. If you have to add a but, and outline just exactly how any other woman who is not you should breastfeed, you are NOT “for” breastfeeding. You are part of the problem.

9. “You are only doing it for yourself.” I am not even sure what that means. It is true there are benefits for the nursing mother. And there are risks to not breastfeeding, so if you mean we’re doing what we can to minimize those for ourselves and our children, then…okay? Or if you mean it’s easier for us to continue breastfeeding than to wean a child who is not ready, well, yeah, busted! But if you mean we must get some weird pleasure out of it beyond seeing our child fed and comforted, and are forcing the child to continue against his will–LOL. You’ve clearly never nursed a toddler! Or HAD a toddler, and tried to “make” her do anything.

10. “You know, if you just stopped nursing, s/he’d sleep through the night.” Actually, there are no guarantees these things go hand in hand–trust me on this. My 8 year old just started sleeping through the night, and he weaned many years ago. I’m sure many bottlefeeding mothers will tell you they aren’t getting a solid 8 hours either. It may be entirely possible that we accept that caring for a baby or toddler, no matter how they are fed, often means getting up in the night, and will deal with it as long as we need to. And if we’re complaining, we may just want commiseration, not to be told what we’re doing “wrong”.

So if you’ve ever felt compelled to comment on how, where, how long, or why a mother breastfeeds, think before you speak. And then, probably just don’t. Unless it’s to say “way to go”, or talk about something completely different.

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Filed under babies, breastfeeding, in the news, parenting, Uncategorized

There’s More Than One Way to be a Family

There are 1,000 ways to be a family an I’m excited to be guest-posting as “family 162” on! Thanks to @bweikle for the opportunity to share our story.

You can also listen and subscribe to the just-launced The New Family Podcast, the show all about families like yours and mine!

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Filed under parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, random, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, working parents