Posts Tagged ‘ the parents perspective ’

9/11 Taught Me How to be a Good Friend

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

My own blurry iPhone photo from that night

From my Brooklyn apartment, I can see One World Trade Center. A couple weeks ago, the crescent moon hung in the night sky right beside it. Everyone walking down my street took a second to capture fuzzy pictures on their iPhones. That night, the brightly shining One World Trade Center seemed like it pierced through the atmosphere to touch all the people who lost their lives in that exact location 13 years ago.

I remember exactly where I was when I found out what happened. The guidance counselor brought out all the fifth graders into a common area to break the news to us. We all sat stunned as she told us about the towers. Students sitting cross-legged around me immediately started to cry for their parents.

“My dad works in that building.”

“My mom had a flight today.”

A calm, normal school day in Westport, Conn. suddenly turned into a frenzy of phone calls and tears.

I think this was the day I figured out what kind of friend I want to be.

My dad worked in Stamford, Conn., so I felt comfort in knowing his whereabouts. But I had several friends in complete fear for their fathers. I had neighbors coming up to me bawling, telling me as they caught their breaths they couldn’t get ahold of their dads

The only way I knew to help was by showing every ounce of support in my little body for my friends. I sat with them in the front office, holding their hands while they called their parents off the hook. Even when my dad came to pick me up early on his way home from work, I decided to stay with my friends.

At 10, I never faced such dire times. The most I had to comfort my friends through was the death of their beloved beta fish. But as I sat in the office, staring at the glowing aquarium in the corner, I knew this was something so much larger than telling them they could buy a new fish at the store tomorrow.

In those moments of uncertainty, I knew I wanted to be the person my friends could rely on for unwavering support—even if it meant not saying a word. When I did have something to say, I did my best to put some semblance of a smile on their faces with a silly aside. Today I find myself doing the same through break ups and layoffs.

Thankfully my friends’ fathers were safe and sound. We were too young to know the geography of Manhattan. The distance between the towers and Midtown was out of our realm of comprehension, but what I did know was I wanted to shine bright for my friends in dark times just like the Freedom Tower does every night.

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These women take mom humor to a new level

Monday, August 18th, 2014

From left, guest Castiglia with the Pump and Dump moms

Social media has made humor a constant undercurrent in the average mom’s day, but it can be beyond therapeutic to get together with real friends “IRL” as my kids would say and watch something funny happen right before your eyes. That’s the beauty of The Pump and Dump show, which a few of us from Parents caught in New York City not long ago. There is something about seeing other moms (and a few brave dads) laughing uncontrollably at the same crazy stuff that you’ve noticed happening in your own life that is very freeing–and more powerful than getting your laughs watching YouTube.

The PND team, Shayna Ferm, a comedian and mother of two, and MC Doula (aka Tracey Tee), mother of one, host an evening packed with inappropriate lyrics set to live music, games (such as a motherhood-themed version of “Never Have I Ever”) and other audience interaction, and often a local guest comic who is also a mom. In New York it was the hilarious Carolyn Castiglia, whose riff on dating as a single mom was upstaged only by her own freestyle rap to audience members’ anonymously contributed confessions of “The Most F—-d Up Thing My Kid Did This Week.” (See a sample of mom confessions here.)

Ferm and her “coach” MC Doula are on tour now, leaving their kids at home in Denver, so join their audience of “breeders” (their words) if you can. Songs include “Eat Your F—ing Food,” and “When I Die, I Want to Come Back as a Dad.”  Yes, the F word features prominently here. I was counting the number of times it was used but was laughing so hard I lost track. Underlying the irreverent lyrics is a message of acceptance for all our many mommy shortcomings and an embrace of all kinds of mom. “We have placenta-eating moms and moms who’ve never even tried a cloth diaper. We just all have to remember that we are doing the best that we can,” Ferm said at one point. Or, to quote her lyrics: “You’re an awesome mom and you’re not alone. You’re doing fine. Just pour yourself a whiskey during bath time.”

Can’t get to Chicago, Mill Valley, or Denver, where the show is playing  this fall? Download the tunes, gather a few friends, decide on a signature cocktail and have a listening party. Keep the tissues handy—you’ll laugh until you cry.

 

Here’s a video from another fun mom, Honest Toddler’s Bunmi Laditan: 

You Know You Have A Toddler When...
You Know You Have A Toddler When...
You Know You Have A Toddler When...

What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out!

 

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Companies Need a Lesson on What Kids Really Want

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Even though I’m the mom of two girls, I find myself shopping in the “boys’” aisles an awful lot. And that’s because it seems like most of the cooler toys and t-shirts (at least according to my girls) show up in that section. First it was Thomas the Tank Engine, then Star Wars, dinosaurs and robotics components.

It’s disheartening in this day and age that companies still cling to these old-school beliefs that all girls like pink sparkly princesses, and all boys want dinosaurs and sports. That’s what got Lands End in trouble earlier this month, as a mom started a campaign against the hearts-and-flowers motifs on girls shirts, for more realistic depictions of science. (I may just have to pick up one of the solar systems shirts for my science-loving youngest.) Lego finally decided to throw us a bone by offering girl scientist figures, after making loads of money off the pink-and-pretty Lego Friends, who seem to spend an awful lot of time on fashion, cuddly animals and talent shows. And Disney seems to have actually taken their latest acquisition, Star Wars, back to the stone ages, by stocking a single piece of Princess Leia merchandise—an “action” figure of her dressed in the revealing slave costume.

But I feel even worse for the boys who don’t fit into the trucks-and-sports mode. Because it’s a lot harder to make things from the girls’ side of the aisle, where there’s a plethora of pink and sparkly, work for a boy. On Lands End’s Facebook announcement of their science shirts for girls you could see a whole slew of comments from moms of boys, requesting shirts with “non-threatening animals” and hearts and flowers for their not-so-stereotypical boys.

Of course, there are some ways to circumvent the marketing powers that be. Etsy and other internet retailers seem to be built on people making more gender-neutral crafts that kids that fall outside the stereotype might actually love.

Maybe we need to get the marketers to make it easier for all kids to find their passions—whether it’s a girl who loves robots, or a boy who loves horses.

Want to know if your kid’s destined to be a scientist, a chef, or President? Try our future career quiz.

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

Image: Courtesy of Lego

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The Power of Social Media Helps Mother Heal

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Whenever I need a quick, mindless break from life and work, I like to scroll through Instagram. Among pictures of majestic London cityscapes and my friends’ adorable

cats and new apartment decor, I happened upon a picture of a newborn baby , who had tubes connected to him in every place imaginable. My heart broke as I read the photo’s caption.

The baby’s mother, Amelia Barnes, recounted the tragic highlights of her son’s birth. On July 8, Amelia was due to give birth to a healthy baby boy. But the baby’s heart rate monitor start going off after eight hours of labor. Amelia had an emergency C-section. Seven minutes later, Landon was born, but his heart still wasn’t beating. Medical personnel resuscitated him after 15 minutes, but his brain and kidneys began to fail along with his heart.

After two days, Landon was removed from life support and shocked his parents by living for 17 more hours.  In those magical hours, Amelia and her husband, Justin, were able to have a photo shoot with their son, and Amelia shared many on her Instagram and blog called Landon’s Legacy. Looking through the beautiful family photos, you almost forget the baby has never cried, will never meet the family dog or leave the hospital in a car seat.

Amelia isn’t the only person who has experienced such a loss. With the power of Instagram, she was able to connect with other people in similar situations and create a virtual support system.

In addition to helping others heal with her, Amelia is creating a dialogue on postpartum bodies with the help of social media channels like Instagram. In a world where celebrities grace covers with instantly thin post-baby bodies, Amelia’s photos of her still-swollen belly are refreshing and honest. Even as a woman who has never given birth myself, I’m inspired by her body confidence — even during the hardest time of her life.

Instagram can be more than a way to pass time. Filtered photos and hashtags can reach across the world to tell her story to people she will never meet. To read more about Landon’s Legacy, visit http://ameliakyoga.tumblr.com/.

Image: Red heart with cross sign in female hand, close-up, on light background via Shutterstock

Labor & Delivery: What to Expect in a C-Section
Labor & Delivery: What to Expect in a C-Section
Labor & Delivery: What to Expect in a C-Section

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What It Means To Do Things Like A Girl

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

 

The feminine care company, Always, is trying to change how we think about the phrase “like a girl.” They recently came out with a new campaign to support their cause. Since it debuted on June 26, the #LikeAGirl video message has been viewed about 32 million times on YouTube.

In the video, people are asked to perform certain actions as a girl. Both men and women run, throw, and fight in a dramatically negative, weak, and ditzy way. Then young girls are asked the same questions. They perform in a way that gave me chills, filled with strength and confidence.

Watching this made me immediately think of my 16-year-old sister, Kendall. She is the most athletic person I know. Most of her life has been spent on sports teams—from softball to cheerleading. As stated in the commercial, “a girl’s confidence plummets during puberty.” At 12, my sister won a national championship with her competitive cheer team. As a base, she lifted girls the same size as her to do elaborate stunts. But my sister has never valued her athleticism. We grew up in a town that glorifies football players. Girls sports, on the other hand, are side notes. Even though she went to cheer practice six days a week for the past six years and runs three miles a day, Kendall does not have as much pride in her athleticism as a boy her age with the same athletic drive as her would. The highlights in her hair and the shirt she just bought at the mall seem to be more laudable than the amount of flips she can do without stopping and how fast she can go around the track.

But my sister isn’t the only girl who feels this way. Girls’ athleticism is generally undervalued. #LikeAGirl proves this. Most of all, the underlying message is doing things like a girl makes one appear weaker than boys.

Doing things like a girl truly means doing things like my sister—with persistence, passion, and focus. It means achieving goals and not being afraid to show strength. No matter how old your daughter is, fostering confidence in her physical skills is essential and to encourage her to be proud of being a girl.

 

Take this quiz to see if your child is ready for team sports!

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