Category Archives: parenting

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

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

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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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 thenewfamily.com! Thanks to @bweikle for the opportunity to share our story.

http://thenewfamily.com/2015/10/1000-families-project-andrea-and-family/

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

Things I Don’t Regret

Before I had kids, there were lots of things I was never going to do. And there were lots of things I was told never to do, or I’d regret it. Ten years into this parenting gig though, the kids seem to be doing all right, so I can tell you there are a number of choices that I don’t regret. Not at all. Here are some of them:

Breastfeeding my infants on demand around the clock. Breastfeeding past infancy. Not forcing them to wean when they weren’t ready. “Encouraging” them to wean when we both were.

Co-sleeping. “They” said we’d never get them out of our bed. “They” were wrong. If anything I regret not doing it sooner.

Rocking them to sleep. Nursing them to sleep. Staying with them until they fell asleep. Letting them nap in my arms, in the swing, in the car. Those years seem so long ago.

Vaccinating.

Picking my babies up when they cried. Carrying my kids as long as I could.

Not potty training. Amazingly, they have been out of diapers for a long, long time, despite the lack of candy or sticker rewards!

Encouraging my kids to take part in different activities. Not pushing them into activities.

Having a child in daycare. Working full time. Having a nanny. Staying home. Being a student-mom. Working part time. Working from home. It’s all good. Honest.

Taking a year of maternity leave. Having my kids three years apart. Taking my preschooler out of daycare while I was on mat leave with BB#2.

Putting my kids in French Immersion.

Not forcing them to do homework in Grade One.

Taking a stroller to Disneyland for my almost-5-year-old. Judge away, at least we had fun!

Spending money on books. Reading to my kids after they could read to themselves.

Letting my kids watch TV and play video games. Not letting my kids watch or play everything their friends are watching or playing.

Giving them choice over their hairstyles.

Staying with them on playdates when they were younger. Letting them walk around the block alone together now that they’re older.

Telling them the proper names for body parts and being honest about where babies come from.

Not being Pinterest-perfect.

Letting them believe in Santa Claus. Not getting into Elf on the Shelf.

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Filed under babies, birth, breastfeeding, career, child care, education, midwives, night-time parenting, parenting, reading, schools, sleep, technology, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, work, working parents

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: Is There a Question?

During my BEd studies, I got called out by one of my professors for talking in class. She had made a dismissive comment about people choosing not to vaccinate their children and relying on herd immunity to keep them healthy.

“Not necessarily,” I commented to the pregnant woman beside me, not quite as under my breath as I’d thought.

The professor asked me to explain. I told her that some people felt the vaccines were riskier than the diseases they were meant to prevent. They weren’t necessarily relying on other people to keep their children healthy—they actually accepted that they might get sick, and hoped they would build up natural immunity. It wasn’t simply that they were OK with the rest of us pumping chemicals into our kids so that they didn’t have to.

Being Canadian, she later apologized to me for any offense, and I apologized in return for interrupting her lecture. And we both made it clear that our own children were, in fact, fully immunized.

So why was I defending anti-vaxxers? When my children were born, I had questioned vaccines, or at least the number and frequency of shots they were scheduled to receive. I came into contact, at least online, with other parents who were concerned—not so much about the (now disproven) autism link (though there were some of those), but with the idea of injecting their perfect babies for what they considered treatable illnesses in this age of modern medicine. There was a certain sense in the arguments.

I could also understand questioning standard medical advice. Already as a new mom, I’d learned that doctors aren’t perfect, and don’t always agree. If I had listened to my OB, I would have believed there was no benefit to delayed cord cutting, because she hadn’t heard of it in 2004. If I had listened to the nurses in the hospitals where my sons were born, I wouldn’t have succeeded in breastfeeding. If I had listened to my pediatrician, I never would have breastfed past 6 months, and would have let my baby cry himself to sleep. If I had listened to my family doctor, I would have accepted that my sons’ PFAPA was a series of viruses. Heck, solid feeding guidelines changed by the time my firstborn was 6 months old, and have changed at least once since then! So it was no surprise that some parents weren’t in a hurry to get their babies vaccinated, no questions asked.

In the end, my husband and I did ask questions, and chose to go with our instincts and our doctors’ recommendations (it helped that they were parents of young children themselves and could honestly tell us they’d chosen to vaccinate their babies). But I could still understand that other parents might not make the same choice.

So I find the current anti-anti-vaxxer backlash that I’m witnessing online and in the media quite interesting. I find myself agreeing more and more with the idea that we need to work together to keep ALL children in our society healthy, and that science isn’t evil. As some have pointed out on Twitter, peanut butter is not welcome at schools, so measles shouldn’t be either.

But then again, most years we’ve resisted the hype and chosen not to get the flu shot, and apparently that was a good call this year. So what would I do if it was suddenly made mandatory?

Note: edited to add sixth paragraph, February 7, 2015.

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Filed under babies, birth, breastfeeding, health, in the news, night-time parenting, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, schools