The Importance of Being Prompt

This past week, one day after work, I spent a while talking to my boss and I ended up leaving the office a few minutes later than usual. I then gave a girlfriend a ride home, and we were chit-chatting the whole way.

At 6:03 pm, when I was pulling into our underground, I received a phone call from my daughter, who was 3 floors up. “MOMMY. Where are you?! You are SO LATE! Are you okay? WHEN ARE YOU COMING HOME.”

Jeez. The world is ending! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!

My own fault, really. I am chronically punctual. In fact, I’m not just punctual, I am EARLY. For everything. As the saying goes, you can’t be on time if you’re not early. One of my favourite lines ever from one of my favourite shows ever, Friday Night Lights, is: “Be here at 6 am sharp. 6 am sharp means QUARTER TIL SIX.” I’ll admit it – I swooned.

When I tell my kids a time that I’ll be home or meeting them, I give them the LATEST time I’ll be there. This time after work is 6 pm. I am unfailingly home 10-15 minutes before that. This was the one time in their lives that I was 90 seconds late. I was late picking them up one time before, but that was due to traffic, AND I called 30 minutes before I was expected to let them know I’d be late. It’s what you do.

I grew up like that, respect appointments, respect other people’s time. Both my parents were of the exact same thinking, and as a result, their 3 children are punctually consistent. We have 8 zillion faults, but we are on time.

My father was much more so. Going to the airport to catch a 10 am flight? We’d leave at 6 am. Why? Well, better early than late, AND you must always allow for traffic, or a flat tire, hail, locusts, whatever. My dad was ex-Navy. Ex-Chilean Navy. The Chilean navy is modeled on the British version. Time is a very big deal. Also a big deal? Bed making. I used to fastidiously make my bed as a kid, thrilled when I’d get to keep the quarter if it bounced off the sheets. That habit didn’t stick, and plus a quarter doesn’t go very far these days. It used to buy a pack of gum. I’m old.

Speaking of British, when I watched the Royal Wedding this year (not LIVE), when Wills arrived at the church when the SECOND struck that he was meant to be there, I thought: “He’s going to make a terrific husband.”

Anyway, you know how many times I was late for school? From grades Kindergarten to 12? ZERO. Let’s say there’s 280 school days a year, times that by 13, that’s a LOT. Of no lates.

People who are consistently late, I pretty much hate. That rhymes. I could continue. What rhymes with Nantucket?

When you’re late, whether it’s your intention or not, you are telling whomever’s waiting for you that their time is not as important as yours. You can be late, and they can just wait. Basically, as we say in Chile, you wipe your butts with their time. It makes me absolutely mental. It is not cute if you are late – it’s irresponsible and disrespectful. And people who always do this, were probably raised that way. Like with manners, when someone is late for everything, I blame the parents. I know for damn sure my parents raised me to respect time and other people’s time, and it stuck. Clearly, I’m passing this on to my kids, and they will thank me one day.

When you are on time, you’re demonstrating a very basic but undervalued respect – that you consider the other person to be at least as deserving of respect as you are. When I came upstairs that day, my daughter flung open the door and wrapped her arms around me – like she actually had thought the sky was falling. It reminded me how much they count on me and know that I do what I say and be where I say I’ll be when I say I’ll be. This time, it bit me in the ass. Never again!

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The Blue, the Orange, and why I’m like Barack Obama (I’m serious)

I know I said I wouldn’t be cranky this time and I really didn’t want to be. I thought about not even posting this. But. Like the title up there says, this is about anything and nothing, and what it doesn’t say but should, is the opinions expressed here are exclusively my own, bla bla bla. Anyway, prepare to be alienated.

Did you hear? Canada elected a Conservative majority this week. ON PURPOSE.

So ladies, lock up your uteruses, because Mr. Harper is gonna set us all back a few decades and tell us what we can and can’t do with them, if he has his way. He can, you know. He has a majority. The religious right helped elect him, he’s gotta listen.

Also, more good news is that soon the scrapping of the gun registry will make it way easier for more of us to have death weapons, isn’t that terrific? You know, so we can kill people, animals, heck, anything you can shoot, either on purpose or by accident, doesn’t much matter how, as guns are designed for nothing else. Well, OK, they’re also designed for maiming. Hey, remember how Stephen Harper once loved the registry? When he was in the Reform Party? Well, he flip flopped and now he doesn’t like the registry…whatever floats your vote, eh.

And maybe you’d all better book your doctor’s appointments under universal healthcare now. Just a suggestion.

Alarmist? Perhaps. And my emotions are still high, I mean, obviously.

But just as some of our neighbours south of the border freaked out at the mere notion of falling into the dreaded, dark abyss of “socialism” – a highly incorrect term as such, but the bastion of civilization and protection of basic human rights & respect enjoyed by the likes of Switzerland, Sweden, France, etc., etc., etc., – after Barack Obama was elected, I am terrified of the Canada I know being “reshaped” (as promised by Conservative MP James Moore) by the Conservative majority.

Mr. Harper has made no secret of wanting to take us further to the right. His efforts had until now been thwarted by his having a minority government. I have always been so proud of our demonically “socialist” values, and our liberal personality. I cannot imagine a Canada that is set back, but I fear the possibility. I will save my sincere freaking out, however, until Mr. Harper makes good on his intentions. Although, as we say in Chile, I “don’t even believe his prayers,” I do believe he will attempt whatever he has to to set us back. I get the sense from him that he’s been patiently waiting to punish us for our folly and now he finally has his chance.

Just my personal feeling. His vision for our nation. It makes me a little queasy. P.S. I’m feeling opinionated.

Still and all, there’s no other country in the world I’d rather be a part of. And although Mr. Harper achieved his majority, it wasn’t the literal majority of us who actually wanted him. And in B.C., for all the butt-kissing Mr. Harper did here during the campaign, we voted NDP in the biggest way since 1988. B.C.ers weren’t buying what he was peddling. I mean, yeah, there are a lot of blue ridings, but the “orange crush” had a very strong resurgence. It’s encouraging. I remember how Sean Penn, or someone like that but I think it was he, talked about how happy he was when Barack Obama got elected, and that he was happy such a gentleman had been elected President. So no matter what happens here in the next 4 years, we still have an opportunity to change things if we don’t like them. I mean, in 4 years.

Speaking of Barack Obama, here’s why I’m like Barack Obama. I’m serious.

It was in September last year, when Barack was going around the U.S. giving speeches at huge open air gatherings. We probably all saw the clips of him giving the metaphor of digging the Republicans’ car out of a ditch, only to then be asked for the keys back – Barack’s delivery was good, Bill Cosbyish, even. “I don’t wanna give them the keys back! They don’t know how to drive!”

It was a good little speech, illustrating that no matter what he and his administration do, those who don’t like him will never be happy with what he does or how he does it, and they’ll just want the power back.

But it was when he went on, joking but serious, to say, “If I said the sky was blue, they’d say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they’d say no.”

This made me sit up straight. And I was alone in my living room, but said aloud: “Oh. My. God. I’m BARACK OBAMA.” Not to be dramatic.

We all know a contrarian or two. The people who no matter what anyone says, no matter how innoucuos, meaningless, or inconsequential, the contrarian will say “no.”

There is one such individual in my life. It doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it, this individual will argue the opposite. Barack’s statement, after making me think holy crap!, made me laugh. Because the sterling example I always think of when I think of this individual is the time I said, “What a beautiful day!” Innocent enough, right? It’s sunny, it’s warm, the birds are chirping, it’s a reasonable thing to say. I was countered with, “No, it isn’t! There are clouds out there!”

No it isn’t! No you don’t! No you’re not! …arguments for argument’s sake. Responses to things you say that you never even intended as an argument, never thought merited challenge. Over everything. Everything. How exhausting is that? And unfortunately, though I strive to waste as little time as possible on this person, I am stuck with them in my life. Like Barack will never be rid of the Republicans, and would probably faint if they ever said, “yes, you’re right.”

The comparison goes on with this week’s developments with the death of Osama bin Laden. No matter what Barack does, the contrarians will be unhappy and find something wrong with it, twist it, manipulate it to suit their agendas. Gotta be unhappy somehow about how bin Laden was found, how he was killed, and wait – was he even killed? Barack is a liar. A liar! As a matter of fact, none of this is thanks to Barack Obama at all, because he is so utterly useless. Bin Laden’s discovery was thanks to George W. Bush. Of course! Thank you, President Bush! According to Alaska’s Ms. Sarah Palin, anyway. So you know it’s gotta be true.

What a dull existence. Not for Barack, but for the other side.

Like Barack, I put up with my contrarian, and just keep on keeping on. I don’t buy their garbage, know who I am, and live my life. No matter what one does, no matter how one tries to solve problems, or solve the problems of others to the best of their ability, the other side will be furious. So just leave them to their little rainclouds. I prefer the sunshine, myself! And I’ve got a lot of it. 🙂

(No you don’t!!)

Yes, I do.

Glad to have a Rant Outlet

My name is Veronica.  It’s been like…weeks since my last post.  Ummm, more than two, like.  Here I was rolling right along with this, then life got in the way.  I’m a multi-tasker and a little thing like life usually doesn’t bog me down, but it did this time for a minute, but I’m giving this post a go.

When I first started blogging, I thought about all the personal crap that I’d LOVE to write about but could not, and actually started a post about why I could not effectively blog, because all the stuff on my mind that I could put to the blog with my eyes closed is too intensely personal and not that I care that much about talking about myself (obviously), but these internets are too pervasive and I want to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent, even though the latter don’t deserve it.

Did you need to pause for a breath after that sentence/paragraph? I did.

I’m giving the above-mentioned post another shot. In innocuous, random point form.

  • On infidelity: Bite me, cheaters. Seriously. Take your need for having your cake and eating it too and stuff it. You hurt people. Pick a partner, and leave a partner. Don’t have both. Don’t lead on the people who trust you and love you and somehow manipulate the facts and confuse others to make yourself seem the victim, or even worse, the hero.
  • On superficiality: Really? How old are you? People who are pretty on the outside cease to be attractive if they show themselves to be empty or ugly on the inside, in my opinion. Have substance. Don’t congratulate people for their outsides. It’s genes, they had nothing to do with their beautiful eyes, long neck, whatever. And being obsessed with the appearance of others implies an emptiness of your own. I once had a guy suggest we could save our relationship if I got a boob job. Stay classy, name withheld! I hope you found the porn star your were looking for, and that things are working out great. Really, I don’t.
  • On judgment: People in glass houses. Seriously. Anyone know anyone who is perfect? I don’t. And I am far from perfect, perfect is actually on another planet, in another galaxy, even. But you know what? I try. I don’t not try. I don’t try to be perfect, but I try my very hardest, every day, to be my own best, for my kids, at work, for my friends, for my family, etc. I know most of us do. And for those of you who delight in pointing out how imperfect and inadequate the rest of us are, I just say, leave us alooone. I know that I for one dwell on my inadequacies enough for both of us.
  • On double standards: Live by the standards you impose on others. Don’t impugn me for doing what you regularly do, conscience-free. I felt guilty enough already. So, while we’re on the topic…
  • On guilt trips: Don’t treat someone like garbage, take advantage of them, manipulate them, lie to them, behave completely selfishly as though no one’s feelings matter but yours, and then expect to be treated with love and have people lay down the welcome mat for you just because you’re, for instance, family. Don’t whip out the (for example) family card and obligate others to respect blood when you obviously do not. It’s not fair, and it’s the opposite of love..fine, continue doing it, because you know I’ll continue indulging you, anyway.

No reason.

Now, I know that the above will seem like I’m angry…I am in a way, but more in a “I’ve had it” kind of way; in a “I need to say this” kind of way. And now, it’s out of the way. That’s the good thing about outlets.

I’ve got a great life, and the awesome people I know and continue to meet and have in my life outnumber the idiots by a WIDE margin. And I have a ton of blessings. And I look forward to every day. So if you’re happy that you got to me, not so fast. You didn’t.

I’m Just Doing My Best…And Who Asked You, Anyway?

Sanctimommies. A friend of mine recently sent me the definition from the Merriam Webster website.  The definition states:

a mother who points out perceived faults in the parenting of others

Want to use it in a sentence? “Sanctimommies of the world, rejoice! You have a new spokesperson, and even though she is a super model, she’s just like you: obnoxious, self-congratulatory and anxious to make all the other mommies feel bad.” — Dr. Amy Tuteur, skepticalob.blogspot.com, Aug 6, 2010

Guys, don’t get me started. Sanctimommies have been judging what I do since before I even got pregnant. “You shouldn’t eat that”, “tell your husband to wear boxers”, “you HAVEN’T been taking your folic acid for at least a year?”, “you should skip that wine. It will affect your fertility!”

I’ve got news for you. BOTH times I got pregnant was on nights I was drinking wine. Lots of it. Ha!

Unsolicited advice continued throughout my pregnancies, including where I should give birth, how I should sleep, that I shouldn’t consume caffeine as I would have tiny babies (with the blessing of my doctor I drank coffee every single day and still gave birth to babies who roughly weighed the same as baby horses), and the BIRTH PLAN.

When I was handed the birth plan form by my doctor (yes, I gave birth in a hospital and not an inflatable pool in my living room), the first thing I did was scan the form to find “epidural” and marked the box with an X although I was tempted to also use a big red Sharpie to draw arrows pointing to it, only because “HELL YES” didn’t fit into the box. What am I, a masochist? Last I checked, we weren’t being given “Mommy Who Withstood The Most Pain” trophies as we left the hospital. We were all leaving with the same prize. Our babies. More judging by other expectant Mommies. Without directly admonishing me, they’d say “I want to experience childbirth.”

Here’s the experience: When I was in labour with my son, after about 16 hours of pain, the final 4 of which were of the stupidest, most ridiculous pain I’ve ever known (and fyi I once snapped my arm in half. SNAPPED. In HALF), the anaesthetist FINALLY arrived and had to go through his whole warning schpiel. I wanted to throttle him but instead kept interrupting him, “yes oh god YES please where do I sign GIVE ME THE PEN NOW NOW NOW.” What followed after the epidural was such an enormous relief, I have never felt anything so amazing in my life, before or since. My then-husband told the anaesthetist, “I’ll bet you get all the chicks.”

My son wound up being delivered by c-section due to complications UNrelated to the epidural. I left the hospital with a beautiful, healthy little baby boy, which is all I went there for in the first place. All the months of wondering what the birth would be like were in the past, and the way he arrived didn’t matter in the least. The sister of a friend of mine who intended to have a drug-free, natural birth and wound up having emergency surgery as well STILL could not get over her disappointment over the way her baby was born, many months later. Seems like a lot of time to be griping over something there was no control over, don’t you think? She got a healthy baby out of the deal, that’s what matters, no?

The next time I was pregnant my specialist asked me if I wanted to try to go natural this time and I said, “can I book the c-section right now?” and this time he said HELL YES, because he was there the first time around. Turns out it wouldn’t have been a choice anyway, since 10 days shy of her due date my daughter already weighed 9.5 pounds – no question I couldn’t have opted for going the ‘natural’ route, as they wouldn’t have let me anyway.

Blah blah blah. Throughout the years sanctimommies continued to plague me, from their opinions on breastfeeding, their tut-tut-tutting over the horrible affliction of my son’s soother-sucking, to how it was practically child abuse to wait until he was THREE to put him into preschool, the eternal competition of how old/young your kids are when they are potty trained, etc., etc., etc. We’re all trying to raise people, isn’t it hard enough as it is without having to feel like we’re competing against each other? Worry about your own kid, I’ll see to mine.

You know what else wasn’t easy? Going back to work. I stayed home until my son was 3 and my daughter was 1, and had no choice but to go back. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I never thought I would want to, but after having my kids all I wanted to do was be a stay-at-home mom. The thought of not being with them all day killed me. But go back to work I did, with all the guilt that came with it.

What kills me more is that for the last 4 years, I’ve been a single mom. I freaking run myself ragged working full time and commuting, but I do it to support my family, put a roof over their heads, food in their tummies, clothes on their backs, and hopefully set a good example of what a responsible adult is supposed to do, that we don’t always get to do what we want, but we always must do what we have to. The time I’m not at work, I’m running around taking them to activities, puzzling over their homework and squeezing in as much fun as possible. Also, it’s a little time-consuming running a household with no other adult around to share in the duties.

Ah, but the sanctimommies. I can’t keep up to their standards. None of them speak to me when I am able to go to the kids’ school for their events or to pick them up. I’m not an ‘involved’ mom. They are  more mothers than I am, you see. I’m being all selfish and spending all this time away from my children, while they are devoted. Don’t get me wrong, I have many girlfriends who ARE stay-at-home moms and are wonderful friends who don’t judge. But the moms at my kids’ school won’t even speak to me, like some stupid high-school drama. Last year I took the afternoon off work to attend a parent-teacher tea. As all the moms were waiting outside the classroom where they were preparing the tea, I approached them, and they actually acted like I wasn’t there. If you know me, you know how I approach a group. Ignoring me is quite a feat. And they fully did. It was ridiculous! I was like, “Is this Heathers? Or am I Lindsay Lohan in this scenario (pre-anorexia, crack, cocaine and temporary lesbianism)?” In any case, you can imagine how it felt.

I’m less of a mom in their eyes, I guess. I’m thrilled for them that they have the good fortune of having husbands who financially support their families so that they can spend all their time dedicated to their children. So be it. My kids know who I am and what I do for them and with them. And this past summer, I was talking to my little girl about some kind of job (can’t remember for the life of me what it was), and I said, “wow, you would be so good at that. Is that what you want to be when you grow up?” And she looked SO disappointed and said, “no, Mommy. I want to be you when I grow up!” And although I wanted to squeeze her forever for the sweetest thing I’d ever heard, it was also the most horrifying thing I’d ever heard. I want so much better for her than this.

But I think of that every time I need to remind myself why I do what I do and that it matters. I might be considered less of a mom by others looking in, but the right people appreciate it. It’s just that lately I feel I have to justify myself so much – and it’s irritating.

THAT FELT GOOD. And I’m rather proud of myself that this was profanity-free.

This Might Result in Unsubscribers

They say you’re not supposed to discuss politics, religion or sex. With whom? They make for the best conversations, come on. The first and last topics are infinitely interesting, but the one in between I seldom discuss because, but for these next few paragraphs, I don’t entertain notions regarding religion.

For starters – the competition between the different religions. Really? Why’s one superior to another? Aren’t you all just trying to get into heaven? Leave each other alone.

That’s another thing. As I always say, I don’t need the promise of heaven to be a good person while I’m here. And I know I lead an ethically ‘better’ life than a lot of so-called religious folks. We all know what’s right and what’s wrong. I don’t need no jive ass preacher teaching me about heaven and hell. Okay, I stole that line from The Blues Brothers.

Why am I required to recognize that Jesus died for my sins? Why is that, actually? I didn’t ask him to. And for real, I have a tough time with all that stuff in the bible. If it’s treated as a reference tome, a type of Aesop’s Fables, if you will, I can see the value, except for all that smiting and stuff. Each religion tailors it to suit their philosophy, and that’s cool, if you’re into that. If I think it’s cool you think dudes used to live til they were 1,000, you can think it’s cool that I think that’s highly unlikely.

I don’t mean any disrespect to those who have faith. But those of us who have not should have the same respect. Right?

This post is inspired by a little note slipped in to my daughter’s backpack at school last year.  I was going through it, and I asked her, what’s this? She had no idea, it was a sealed envelope that had nothing to do with school and that she hadn’t seen before. It turned out to be a sort of form letter, apparently given to her and all her classmates, an invitation to come hang out at a new Mormon church that had just been built and as I recall, any old heathen was welcome to come visit before it was officially open for business. I’m paraphrasing, of course. I was a little put off, my daughter really didn’t know this boy whose parent would have prepared this invitation, and expressed no interest in accepting the invitation.

And then, last week, on the second day of school, no less, another sealed envelope that she had no idea where it came from, appeared in her backpack. It was from this same boy’s parent, inviting her (with her name handwritten in the blank space on the form invitation) to his ‘baptismal’. I’ve met this little boy, he is sweet, but he’s not a friend of my daughter’s, whom she’d hang out with or anything. I’ve never seen a form invitation for a birthday party, but I’ve now seen two forms for these religious services.

What’s going on? Is recruiting at school allowed? I’m becoming irked by this practice. I will not say anything to this boy’s mother however, who is actually really sweet and incidentally has a terrific sense of humour.  Of course, I now know that she is Mormon, but I did not know that when a couple of years ago we were both at our kids’ baseball game and she was rattling off the activities of her children and started naming them all, and I stopped her at 5 names. “How many kids do you have?!” And she told me she was pregnant with her 6th. And I said, “Are you crazy! What are you, some kind of religion?!” And she just laughed and laughed. Imagine my moment of “oopsie” when I opened the invitation to the church-warming.

P.S. Don’t ever ask someone if they’re “some kind of religion.” I meant it humorously and she took it that way, but really, you just never know. I won’t use that one again.

So fine, I am happy to continue receiving these invitations and also happy to continue not acknowledging them. I won’t make a big deal of my daughter’s backpack being surreptitiously filled with invites to religious events, and I expect no one to make a big deal of our declining them. I think it’s very cool that people have all their faiths and very happy for them that they’re all getting to heaven. And people should be just as happy for those who just believe and have faith in themselves, their families, hard work and an honest existence, and nothing else. Well, plus, the Habs. But really that’s all.

Odds and Ends

Wrapping up a really good weekend. Outdoors, family, friends, for once enjoying agreeable weather. Children nestled all snug in their bunkbeds, while visions of week-long day camp commencing tomorrow dance in their heads. I’m glad to have an easy week ahead of me at work, another big project put to bed and the boss away at his meetings next week.

I find I’m frequently irked by something on Twitter, where most of you know I spend a fair amount of time daily. I was going to try to squeeze it into my About Me but decided I’d be more wordy about it in a post.

Fellas. You gotta know. It’s only very few of you, not the overwhelming majority who are awesome, but if you’re going to know one thing about me it’s this: gentlemen only need reply. Seriously, if you’re lewd, crude, or take innocent comments and turn them into something I clearly didn’t intend, you can buzz off. And I’m going to stop ha-ha-ing your comments and going to start unfollowing. Another thing about me is I go out of my way not to hurt feelings and feel like unfollowing is rude, but I’m going to do it. As of now. I’m no Pollyanna and I believe I have a great sense of humour; I know funny, but cheap is cheap.

99.9% of the people I follow on Twitter are great, make me laugh, and can converse with 140 character charm, but the .1% of you are getting on my nerves and I don’t like it. Please don’t be lewd. Save it for someone who enjoys it, I don’t. I reeeeeally don’t.

That’s it.

Also, I changed my theme on here for about 6 hours today but changed it back. It’s just that it seems people are reading this and I want to make it all pretty. The one I briefly used today was a little too sterile, very not me.

OK, that’s really it. See how I don’t always have to talk too much?

Privileges Earned

I didn’t grow up privileged. We didn’t have a lot. My family immigrated to Canada from Chile when I was 3, leaving behind a country taken over by a military dictatorship. We had little; we weren’t impoverished but we came empty-handed. We rented a tiny furnished apartment on Décarie in Montréal, arriving to the shock of freezing December temperatures. My mom bought my older brother and me snowsuits from a thrift store and fed us Oscar Meyer sandwich meat. The snowsuits gave us lice and she chopped our hair off. I don’t have a memory of it but I’ve seen the pictures of me looking like a little boy, and I do remember raiding the fridge with my brother so we could bite circle shapes out of processed bologna to look like a face, and having such giggles. Years later, when I moved back to Chile, a country rich with fresh fruit & vegetables, meat and seafood affordable to all, I realized how hard it must have been for my mom to feed us food that came in wrappers, boxes or cans.

My dad went off to work every day at SNC Lavalin and my mother, in her mid-twenties with 3 children under 5 (my younger brother was an infant) found ways to entertain us, none of us in school yet, in a new country where she didn’t speak either of the languages, having left behind all her friends and family. Not the future she’d envisioned for herself when she received her degree in Biology, no doubt.

But she learned English. We had a tv set and she started watching soap operas. We often kid around that the first phrase she learned in English was, “You slept with my husband!” – ironic, and the topic for another post. She got herself a sewing machine, and made us clothes. She knitted us sweaters. She sewed me a Holly Hobby doll, and I was so confused when I got it from Santa at Christmas, because I’d seen her making it. I think she told me something like Santa asked her to make it for me because he was understaffed, a perfectly reasonable explanation for me.

One of our jokes is that when we were little, we’d get a sock at Christmas, and the other on our birthdays. It was never quite that bad of course, and you have to know that in our family, we use humour as a solution for everything. This great country allowed my parents to give us a comfortable life, but it was never indulgent, and my brothers and I have never taken anything for granted, never felt entitled, know the value of a dollar, and don’t have anything we didn’t earn for ourselves.

I ended up marrying a man who grew up with everything, in a very privileged house, with trampolines, swimming pools, a motorbike when he turned 12, a car on his 16th birthday, you know – like that. This boy held out his hand growing up and got whatever he wanted. All he had to do to get it was want it. When I once asked him how he couldn’t consider himself indulged growing up, citing the car on his 16th birthday, he said, “excuse ME, it was USED”. Yeah. It’s not a competition for who had it harder, what a sad reason for a competition. But it illustrates our differences, and neither of us has a real comprehension of how the other grew up.

I feel like this post should be a 2-parter but I’ll wrap it up today.

We had 2 beautiful children, and you can imagine we have differing opinions on how they should be raised. This is made all the harder now that they’re raised in 2 separate households, with different sets of values. I want to scream when the kids come home with new toys every time they come back home after being with him, adding to the pile of neglected gadgets and plastic. I had my frigging Holly Hobby doll for years and never tired of it. I want my children to have what I didn’t have, but I want to raise them to be respectful and grateful. The kids and I sponsor 2 children, a boy and a girl my kids’ ages, in Africa. When I try to tell the kids about them, they try to wrap their brains around it but can’t. When they ask me for things I make deals with them; if they bring home a good report card, if they do all their chores, if they behave, etc., I’ll ask them for a list for their birthdays and they can choose their favorite item from it. Make them wait, make them want it, make them earn it and treasure it. They always get it from their dad though, and mom’s way requires too much effort.

These kids are not spoiled brats, they’re sweet and well-mannered but do not know which way is up sometimes. They spend 2 weeknights a week with their father and are confused when they can stock up on everything they wish for at his house, and come home to be told, “do your homework, wash your hands, get ready for dinner. Elbows off the table, eat with your mouth closed, don’t talk with your mouth full”. Always the bad guy.

This post is inspired by my little girl asking me for a new game for her Nintendo DS. I just got her a Hello Kitty doll last week for her perfect report card – I ask why she wants something new when she just got a new special toy that just last week she couldn’t live without. Answer: it’s boring! She’s all right with me saying no, because after all she’ll ask her dad for it when she sees him. And she’ll get it. And she’ll be bored with it in a week, ask for something else, and get it…do you think it will make a difference if I tell her I used to play with bologna slices and had lice as a kid?

I’ve got faith that these bright kids will learn the right lessons eventually, though. I have to! Maybe, in the words of my mother, “when they have kids of their own”. But I fervently hope it doesn’t take that long.

Is It REALLY Best? *

I’m not smart, but I’m not stupid, either.  I heard again very recently…probably via Twitter, which, thanks to my new iPhone, I consult on a (probably far-too) frequent basis, that breast is best. The often-used term refers to breastfed infants surpassing formula-fed infants in terms of health and intelligence.

I’m here to tell you, all of nobody whom I’ve told about my presence on this forum, that that is crap. While it may be that some studies on some infants have shown that the antibodies delivered through breastmilk – and by the way, lots of guys who aren’t dads, think breast = good, milk = good, breastmilk in one word = um, uncomfortable…sorry, you can stop reading now – put babies ahead of others that are given formula…I’m a walking, talking study that says formula is A.O.K.

Not many babies from my generation were breastfed. I wasn’t. And while I have a healthy diet purely because I tend to prefer healthy food, not out of discipline or willpower, I’ve not led a particularly healthy lifestyle in any other sense. I always (touch wood) get an excellent bill of health.  In fact, when I was younger and wasn’t a mom yet, and was partying and smoking my brains out, my doctor would tell me with chagrin that I was way healthier than I ought to be.

Oh, and P.S., the IQ factor that is constantly referred to in these breastfed infant studies…well, that’s crap, too.

When my son was born, he and I had a miserable time getting the breastfeeding thing together. We just couldn’t do it right. I was recovering from a c-section and in a lot of pain, sleep deprived like only a new mom can understand, and so determined that I had to breastfeed that when it was unsuccessful, I was propelled into a deep postpartum depression that lasted months. My mom and then husband told me much later that it was a really scary time. I don’t remember much. I just felt like such a failure, my poor son had a mom who couldn’t give him what seemed to come so easily for all the other new mommies around her. Those babies were lucky, and this precious boy was stuck with a useless mommy who couldn’t get her body to do what it had to do. I managed to get my weeks old baby out one day after I started giving him formula, to a mommies and babies step class. Things were going pretty okay until the part of the class where the instructor called a break so all the babies could get fed. I was the only one who had a bottle. They probably didn’t, but I felt like the other mommies were looking at me with pity/disdain/reproach. And I pretended like I didn’t care, but I did. And I made up some excuse and left. My family and doctor tried to convince me that I had to go on some anti-depressant medication but I refused – I thought that to have postpartum depression you had to have thoughts of harming your baby.  The one and only light in my life at the time was looking down into my boy’s precious face. So I didn’t do the drugs. And continued to cry all day for months – so yeah, I know now what I had.

Anyway. This boy is healthy. He is SMART. His classmates are all sick all year long…they bring their runny noses and sneezes to school and on playdates, and this boy has the constitution of an ox, rather disappointed he doesn’t get to take a lot of sick days like his friends. And he was a formula baby. So every time I hear of all the hardcore breastmilk propaganda, I tell my pregnant friends to do whatever is best for THEM. I’ll never forget the day I let go of the feeling of failure and decided to enjoy motherhood and not care. A thousand-pound weight was lifted from my shoulders, and the proverbial sun came out again. I know that a happy mommy is best for baby, breastmilk or formula, end of story.

By the way, when my daughter came along, after another caesarean, for whatever reason, she and I had absolutely zero problem, and she was breastfed like crazy. And my doctor and family who were so worried I’d get an even worse depression with the second baby, which I was supposedly susceptible to, were surprised when I didn’t have it for even a moment. Another reason I attribute the previous postpartum depression in part to unrealistic expectations of new moms, and the unrealistic goals new moms believe they have to achieve. My daughter is also super healthy and smart, so it COULD be in the genes, but the point is they’re no different, no matter what they received at the start. The crazy pressure on moms who don’t breastfeed is unwarranted and infuriates me.

* above post was copied and pasted from a blog I started yesterday on another site and already abandoned.

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