Monday, February 27, 2017

Love is Not a Victory March: When motherhood means defeat

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One of my favorite songs is Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. But I hadn't ever given much thought about the meaning of the line "Love is not a victory march".  And then, a few weeks ago, it hit me.  It hit me hard.  I'm talking... crying, gasping for breath, and wondering where it all went wrong.  I don't know how I feel about writing what I'm about to... But it's been weighing on my heart for so long.  Maybe some of you will stop reading after this.  Maybe some of you will see some of yourselves in my words.  I don't know... But it's the chance I have to take.

As a little girl, I played house with my dolls.  I fed them their bottles, put them in cribs, and happily played the "mommy". Through my teen and young adult years, I watched tv shows and movies that depicted motherhood as a somewhat stressful, misadventure-filled time full of laughter, joy, and problems that always got resolved in 30 minutes to an hour.  But once I became a mother, the truth was revealed.... The world had lied to me and all those other little girls through commercials, ads, movies, and television shows.  We were brainwashed into believing in fairy tale endings, where husbands do an equal part, mothering comes naturally, and children are uniform in their creation and governed by a universal user guide. 

Having a baby changes everything. People want to know if she sleeps in her crib and refrains from crying like a "good baby" does.  Your baby does not. Enter the fear that you are doing something wrong.  Your toddler throws tantrums because he lacks emotional regulation and does not have the verbal capacity to speak his frustrations. Insert you leaving the store, red-faced and embarrassed that you cannot control or "train" your children to behave. 

There's so much pressure on mothers.  And Pinterest and Facebook don't help.  But I've already shared with you my thoughts on why we apologize so much as mothers, so I won't ramble on that. But it's not easy, this mothering thing.... Sometimes it feels like we make more mistakes than we do positive impacts.  The night I truly realized my defeat in motherhood was a horrible one. Without going into details for the sake of my son's privacy, it was a situation where I reacted to his misbehavior in a way I thought I never would.  I betrayed myself as a mother.  I let my expectations of how my child should act defeat who I tried to be as a mother.  And I'm still grieving and ashamed of my choices that night.

So how do we recover from moments like these? When we literally lose our $h!t and enter into the scary-mommy zone.  When we break the guidelines of motherhood that we've set for ourselves? The answer is... I don't know. We can't redo these moments in a more appropriate manner. So all we can do is apologize to our children and move on, praying we'll do better the next time we're triggered.

There are moments where our mothering means we have to accept that we are imperfect and screw up sometimes.  That we have off days. That we have failures alongside our successes. That it's okay to admit when we are at our lowest and are on empty.

Sometimes mothering means making mistakes and failing so we can do better next time. Sometimes it means we have to suck it up and carry on as if we aren't ready to collapse from the huge weight of shaping tiny lives. Sometimes our mothering means we have to accept defeat as we realize that we can't do it all every second of every day. What matters is that we win the war against the world. That we succeed in raising children who are loving, compassionate, and kind. We have to make sacrifices for our children. We have to accept our humanness and imperfections.

Since that night when I realized what "love is not a victory march" actually meant, those six words have become my momma mantra. Our jobs as mothers is not always about the good and the glory. It gets raw, and real, and ugly at times. It's no parade, but it's worth it in the end.


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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Peanut/Nut Allergies in the Classroom: 6 Things Every Parent Needs to Know

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Classroom parties are supposed to be a time for fun and laughter.  But what happens when treats are brought in that threaten the health of some of the students? For a student with peanut/nut allergies, unsafe treats can bring about tears, embarrassment, the feeling of being left out or being "weird". As the parent of a child with a nut allergy, I will tell you that classroom parties frighten me.  Because all it takes is one nut-contaminated cookie or one super cute, nut-laced cupcake and my child will get sick or possibly die. Sounds overdramatic, right?  But right now, nut allergies are still not being taken seriously. Would you be upset if someone brought a loaded gun to a classroom party and sat in on a plate in front of your child? That's what it feels like for nut-allergy parents.  We're playing Russian Roulette with food.
So, what can you do to help protect kiddos with nut allergies in your child's class? How can you be sensitive to the potential embarrassment they will feel at not being able to enjoy the treats others have? Here are some tips:
Talk to the Parents
If you have questions regarding safe/unsafe snacks, please reach out to the parents of the nut allergy student.  We would much rather you ask questions, get products okayed, etc than to risk our child being exposed to an allergen.
Don't Exclude
If you were at a party and everyone was eating one thing, while you were singled out and eating another, how would you feel? Awkward? Though the consideration in bringing a nut-free item for an allergy kiddo is appreciated, there are multiple repercussions that need to be considered.  The first being how it makes them feel. The second and more important, is that some children's allergies are so severe that even being around allergens can cause a reaction. For instance, nut-laced cookie child touches a game, peanut allergy kiddo touches the same item, then eats one of their nut-free cookies.  They've just potentially ingested allergens that could cause an anaphylactic reaction. So what do you?
Bring Treats Safe for Everyone
If there is a nut-allergy kiddo in the classroom, then refrain from bringing items that are labeled as:
  • “May Contain Peanut or Tree Nuts”
  • “Processed on shared equipment with Peanuts or Tree Nuts”
  • “Contains Peanut or Tree Nut Ingredients”
  • “Manufactured in a plant with Peanut or Tree Nuts”
You can find treats that are safe to bring at Mommity's Ultimate List of Peanut/Tree Nut Snacks for School. Also, most Wal-Marts carry cupcakes and other treats that are peanut/tree nut free.
Avoid Bringing Homemade Goods
Many schools don't allow homemade goods. But on the off chance, that yours does, the intent is appreciated, but please don't. Peanut/tree nut allergy kiddos cannot eat homemade treats because they aren't certified as allergen free. For example, did you know that wooden and nonstick cooking utensils can harbor allergens even AFTER being ran through the dishwasher? Again, we appreciate the thought, but it does not outweigh the risk.
Don't Complain
I understand... It's a hassle.  But the last thing that nut allergy moms want to hear is that it is an inconvenience for you to choose a snack that won't kill their kid. If we could, we'd surely pick another allergy for our children... pizza, chicken nuggets, you name it. But please don't comment on it negatively to us. It hurts. (Seriously. It's happened.)
Don't Ignore the Threat
Lastly.... Please don't ignore or underestimate the threat that peanuts/tree nuts are to allergic kiddos. "It's just a peanut butter cup. It's individually wrapped...." That doesn't cut it. I'm just gonna say this, and I know I'm risking offending, but I don't care because kids' lives are on the line. If you are aware that there is a peanut/nut allergy present in the classroom, and you choose to bring an allergen into the room, you are blatantly choosing to put convenience over the wellbeing of a child.

So there you have it. And here's the disclaimer I've given in so many of my posts where I take a stand on a topic... I by no means mean any offense. Nor do I mean to come off as preachy or condescending.  Text doesn't convey tone, so just know that I speak from the heart of a momma who is scared to death for the safety and well-being of her kiddo and others like him. Many blessings to you.

**Side note: If you have a food allergy kiddo and carry an epipen, you can download my "Epipen Inside" tags here.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Toddler Playschool: V is for Valentine's Day & Love {free printable}

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We are celebrating love all week long!!! Not only do I have some super fun Valentine's Day activities to do, we're also extending the theme for the remainder of the week.  Find out what children love, and you'll find out what's truly important to them. Use these love-themed activities to explore the world as your toddlers see it!
If you missed the first few weeks, you can find them here:
This curriculum is ideal for 2-3 year olds. We'll be reinforcing colors and shapes and introducing letters and numbers. We'll be exploring a different theme each week as we proceed through the alphabet. It provides us with a framework of activity ideas we can use and expand on.  Very soon, I will be providing links to activities on these posts... There's just not enough time for me!  
Click the link below to download 

I'd love for you to join us on our adventure! If you share on social media, use the hashtag #toddlerplayschool so I can see all of your wonderful activities!

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