Parenting - The Unlocked Life

In my neighborhood, the typical household composition goes something like this: a husband, wife, 2.5 kids under the age of 10, and a dog. My family looks something like this too. Everywhere you look there are kids and more kids. So it’s no surprise that there is an explosion of businesses and groups catering to mommies and baby bumps, and that I’ve met other moms and their little ones. People say that it helps to meet other moms going through the same things that you are (which it does), except that I’m beginning to feel a bit like the odd one out.
Whenever a bunch of parents congregate with their children, one thing is inevitable: a little bit of competition flares up amongst the sticky sippy cups and cookie crumbs. Now, I’m not a competitive person by nature—you could run circles around me on the track field or beat me in a game of Scrabble, and it wouldn’t faze or bother me a bit. But when it comes to my daughter, my own flesh and blood, I can’t help by compare her development to other toddlers her age.
Last week I took my 16 month old daughter to a local indoor amusement park with a few of my cousins who also have young children. We had a great time doing all the “kiddie” rides like the carousel and train. My daughter has never been a picky eater and everyone knows that food is the way to her little heart. So what do most people like to do when they are trying to befriend her? Feed her. She’ll waddle right up to anyone who is eating something with a twinkle in her eyes and her mouth open like a baby bird.
As families grow larger and loved ones move away, traditions help to bind family members together and strengthen ties. A ritual or family tradition can be the one constant among an ever-evolving group of related people. Creating new traditions as old ones become stale or have lost their relevance is also a good idea, especially for families with young kids, blended-marriage families, and multi-cultural families.
The holidays are the perfect time to instill a sense of appreciation in your kids for the blessings they have in life. I was out shopping recently for gifts, and ran into some friends who were having a hard time finding a gift for a particularly spoiled niece. This particular young teenage girl they were grumbling about had all the latest gadgets, $200 jeans, and her own horse. Now what on earth could they get her (that wouldn’t break their wallets) that she didn’t already have?
I was reading a tabloid very informative celebrity magazine in the bookstore the other day and was intrigued by an article about Angelina Jolie and her “rainbow family.” The article states that a “source close to the family” claims that Jolie has picked a personality for each of her kids and is dressing them accordingly. For example, her biological daughter Shiloh is the designated tomboy and has been photographed looking more and more like a little boy with her cropped hair and masculine clothes; conversely her adopted daughter Zahara is quite the little lady in her feminine dresses.
Sleep and time are two things I feel that I am severely lacking now that I am back to work full-time. Being a relatively new mother, I look at my more experienced counterparts with envy—they can seemingly juggle the obligations of being a mother, spouse, and working woman with ease. Ask them what their schedule is like for the next week, and they can rattle off a list of doctor appointments, play dates, and other necessary errands that keep the household running. Plus, they seem to possess the magical ability to whip up a mean casserole dish with whatever leftovers they find in the fridge.
The two words a parent dreads to hear each summer from the lips of their child is: “I’m bored.” After the novelty of summer has worn off and the swimming pool has lost its appeal, boredom has a way of settling into your home like an unwelcome house guest. Some parents try to keep boredom at bay by scheduling and filling every single block of time with a variety of play dates, day camps, and music lessons. While a bit of structure is a good thing, I wonder what ever happened to the long, lazy summer days of childhoods past.