Thinking and Thanking

   Thanks. When was the last time you said it or was thankful for something (and I’m not talking about saying thanks when the guy behind the counter gives you your change) ? I’m talking about really being thankful for something. It seems as though we’re so busy working, talking, texting, facebooking, tweeting, etc., these days that we really don’t take time to just sit back, relax and realize what we really do have. I’m definitely included in this “we”.  Last weekend, I went out to breakfast with my husband and kids when a stranger made a comment that really stuck with me. My husband and I were looking at the menu, my little baby was asleep in her little carrier, and my two year old was deciding who she wanted to sit with, when a man passed by and said two little words…beautiful family. We both looked up and said thanks. As I was deciding whether I wanted eggs or french toast, I thought to myself, wow, I really do have a beautiful family. So, why did it take a complete stranger to make me really think about that? At times, you really don’t realize how fortunate you are and appreciate what you have, because you’re too busy wanting and complaining about what you don’t have that you don’t see what’s staring you in the face, 24/7.
   Sure I’m aware of my husband and kids because often I’m too busy complaining about something they’re doing or didn’t do. But, do I ever realize how I’m grateful I am to have them? No. I’m too worried about who didn’t clean the kitchen, who’s not going to bed on time, who’s spitting up, how many diapers I’ve changed in a day, hell, in an hour! I never stop and think about how lucky I am to have them and how some people would just die to have my family. There are so many couples who are struggling to have kids that they wouldn’t complain about diapers or getting up in the middle of the night. I guess you could say I just take it all for granted. The same could be said for my husband. Ladies, you know there are so many crackhead losers out there that it’s hard to find a good man, and when you do, you kinda just forget how good they are. You never say thanks for the little things, but you sure find the time and the words to complain about them. Funny how that works. It’s kinda like that Lenox crystal you get for your wedding. You love it when you get it, but then you put it on a shelf or in a closet and forget you have it.
  So after this post, will I never complain about the things that my kids and husband do that annoy me? Probably not. Okay, definitely not. But, will I try to take a deep breath and a step back and look beyond all that? Honestly, yes. As cliche as it may sound, you do need to take some time to smell the roses and appreciate how beautiful they really are. It’s sad that it takes some turkey and stuffing or some random guy at a diner to get you to think about what’s really important in life.

Can I Have Your Attention Please?

   Mom…mom…mom…mommy…momeee!!!! How many times have you heard that today? Fifty, maybe one-hundred times? In case you didn’t know it’s the sound of your child wanting your attention. I’ve always known kids need and want attention, but I’ve never realized how much until I had my second child. One cries, then the other. Sometimes if I’m lucky, they’ll both do it at the same time. That’s what I call the symphony. Let me tell you, it’s no Mozart or Beethoven!
   Let’s start off with the baby. She cries out for attention, literally, when she needs to be fed, changed, or has some other kind of problem. The good thing is her needs can usually be met rather quickly. I can say pretty confidently that when she needs attention, she gets it, is satisfied and moves on. Once she’s full and fed she can just chill for awhile.The same can not be said for my two-year-old. She needs a little more TLC. Before the baby came along, she kind of did her own thing. But now, things are a little more complicated and just plain old exhausting. Instead of crying out to get her needs met, she can actually tell me what she needs for the most part. If she’s hungry, she says, “Mom, I want yums.” If she needs to go to the bathroom or get changed she says, ” Mommy, pee pee.” Those needs are easy to meet. It’s when she starts whining “Mommy” and grabbing my leg like a dog in heat that things get dicey. Ever since the baby came along, she wants to be held more, played with more, and just simply be around me more. Sometimes that’s not so easy. I know it’s normal, but sometimes it drives me totally nuts!! I know that comment won’t win me mom of the year, but it’s the truth and I know a lot of other moms who can relate. Of course I want to hold her, play with her, and talk to her as much as I can, but now there is another little person who also needs me. Sometimes I wish I could just clone myself (and if I could I would also clone a version of myself who only had to worry about house chores…but that’s a subject for another blog). Sometimes I feel like there really needs to be two of me to deal with both kids and all that goes along with it. But, I don’t think my husband could deal with another me!
   As much as I try to split my attention evenly, it seems inevitable that one child gets more attention than the other on any given day. But, who needs more attention? It’s funny, some people I talk to say the baby because it’s more important to bond with her as much as possible. Others tell me the two-year-old because she’s used to having me around and needs to know I am still here for her. The proverbial “they” say if she’s acting out, she must really, really need me, so I should go to her. Talk about confusing! It feels like no matter who I choose, someone is going to be mad.
   I will say it’s somewhat comforting to know that I’m not in this alone. We’ve talked to a lot of friends who have little babies and a two or three year old at home, and they are going through the same thing. In fact, some of their situations are even worse! Yes, I will admit it make me feel better to know my child is not the only one who grows devil horns every once and awhile. I guess it’s all a part of the growing pains (unfortunately, without Kirk Cameron or Tracy Gold, that’s a reference for all you 80’s fans!), and let me tell you these growing pains hurt and there are no commercial breaks! What else is in store for me? Guess, I’ll just have to stay tuned.

Maternity Leave…What’s Fair?

   A woman spends nine months carrying a child. It’s safe to say many women don’t get that much time to stay home and bond with their baby once he or she is born. I’ve talked to a lot of women who have had to go back to work after just six weeks home. Six weeks…seriously? That’s ridiculous. Let me break it down for you the way I see it. During the first two weeks after birth, your body is so beat up from being pregnant and labor that you can just about function. Add the duties of mothering a newborn and you’re just a hot mess looking for your next caffeine hit. So, that leaves four weeks to bond with your baby. The only bonding you’re doing is with their diapers and spit up. During the first month babies basically eat, sleep, and poop. It’s not until they reach that three month mark that they become more interactive. That’s not to say you can’t bond with them before then, but all the fun stuff happens later…just in time for you to go back to work. Other women I’ve talked to are lucky enough to get around 12 weeks off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but don’t get paid for the entire time. That leaves many to deal with the tough choice of losing money or losing time with their child. As many people struggle to earn a buck, many have to choose cash over their child if they want to keep a roof over their heads.
   That is a sad scenario for such a world leader as the United States. I was reading that the U.S. and Australia are the only industrialized countries that don’t give moms paid leave nationally. Some states have different rules though. One article I read talked about a woman in Canada who got 14 months of paid maternity leave! That’s amazing and something that I think will never happen here in the good old  U-S of A. The article also talked about a couple in Sweden who was splitting 16 months of what they call parental leave at 80% pay. And”Czech” this out….I read that in the Czech Republic all mothers can decide to take 2, 3, or 4 years of maternity leave! The state supports them during that time period. That would never fly in the U.S. There are also other countries that have generous maternity leave policies. Wikipedia actually breaks it down in a nice chart. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.
   So, where did the U.S. drop the ball? Do we not value a mother or father’s time with their child? Would the children in this country end up better if they had more time with their parents before being shipped off to daycare or some other caregiver? No one truly knows, but here’s my two cents. No one is going to love or take care of a child like a parent, unless of course they are abusing them or on drugs or something. No one is going to instill the values you want your child to have better than you. Unfortunately, we live in a country where things like that are not valued (then we wonder why some kids have so many problems and are so screwed up). If we did, more women would have access to paid maternity leave to give them time to bond with their children when they are most vulnerable.
   I know some women who would cringe at the idea of two or three years maternity leave. Some women just itch to get back to work because staying at home just isn’t for them. But, they should have that option. Right now so many women don’t have the choice to take the time off or leave it and to me that is just not fair.