Rising After We Fall.

 

falling

A few weeks ago I was walking through the grocery store and not paying any particular attention to where I was going. My mind was on other things and I wasn’t aware as to what was happening around me. I somehow got my feet tangled up in a small display and managed to trip and fall flat on my face. Keep on reading!

The Mom Cold vs The Man Cold

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For the past few days I was really having an internal battle. I could feel myself deteriorating, but I was refusing to give in. But when I woke up yesterday morning, it was inevitable. I hate saying it, but I officially have my first Mom Cold of the season.

Now, before you get confused, do not try to lump the Mom Cold and Man Cold in together. They are two completely separate entities. Keep on reading!

Sanctimommy and Breastfeeding

 

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I recently encountered a sanctimommy. I could sense she was a sanctimommy right from the get-go but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt because the conversation started off innocently enough. She had asked the question “Why don’t some women breastfeed? It’s the best choice for your baby and I have no idea why someone wouldn’t do it if they were capable.” I rolled my eyes hard at the computer screen Keep on reading!

I will not baptize my daughter

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I was raised in a pretty small town. Most families were either Catholic or Protestant and nearly everyone was a regular church-goer back in the late 80s and early 90s. I was baptized in the Catholic Church and grew up going to Sunday school and in later years, religion classes to make first communion and confirmation. I was pretty much forced by my parents to be confirmed into the Catholic Church when I was in my early teens and I really resented them for it. I felt like someone was forcing their beliefs on me, and it was frustrating because the beliefs were not necessarily ones I completely agreed with.  It is because of this experience and through personal choices that I have decided that my daughter will not be baptized, or raised with any kind of formal religion. Keep on reading!

Motherhood and Resolutions

 

2016

 

There is something about a new year that feels energizing and refreshing. The thought of having an entire year to get things figured out and to meet new goals is always exciting. I have never been big on making resolutions for the New Year, but that was before I became a mom.

My typical resolutions pre-child included things like saving for a trip or losing weight or eating healthier. And while all of those things are still a priority, they are not at the top of my list of things that I want to accomplish.

So, what do I want to accomplish? Well, it’s really simple. I want to be the best possible mother and person that I can be. It sounds easy, right? But it’s not. It’s going to take a lot of self-discipline and a lot of reminders to keep myself on track. But I know that I can do all of these things, and making my goals public will certainly hold me more accountable.

Be kinder to myself. I am not perfect and I never will be. There will be days when I yell or order pizza for supper or have a messy house or forget to run an errand. This is okay. Being perfect is impossible and it’s also setting an unattainable standard. I need to remember that it is okay to make mistakes and it doesn’t make me a failure or a bad mother because of it.

Treat others how you want to be treated. Raising a daughter who is kind and considerate is very important to me. And she can only become that way through example. I have (and I hate admitting this) gossiped and said not-so-nice things about other people in the past and it needs to stop. Because I don’t want my daughter doing that and I definitely don’t want anyone else doing it to her. It is so easy to get caught up in the web of drama and gossip but I am refusing to go there anymore. If it isn’t kind, loving or compassionate then it doesn’t need to be said.

Stop with the mommy guilt. Mommy guilt creeps up on me when I least expect it. I could be out having a great evening with friends and out of nowhere I get hit hard with mommy guilt. I think single parents feel mommy/daddy guilt a little harder than parents in relationships because after working or going to school all day, we feel the need to spend every possible second with our children. I love spending time with my daughter, but I also need a break now and then. And as if the guilt from being away from my child isn’t enough, there’s also the guilt of spending money. I am the only income for our family and I budget carefully to make sure we have everything we need. However, I always leave enough room in the budget to treat myself, so the guilt over this needs to stop.  I am allowed to go out for an evening with friends or get a pedicure or go for a massage or get my hair highlighted. I don’t indulge in those things often and when I do, I need to remember to enjoy them. I work really hard to provide a good living for me and my daughter and I am allowed to treat myself now and then.

Patience (it really is a virtue). Remembering to be patient is something I need to remind myself of every single day. I love my daughter fiercely but when she crunches up goldfish crackers and then spits them in my shoes, I have to take a deep breath. Children are always testing boundaries and trying to challenge the rules. I know I was not the easiest child in the world and my parents had plenty of patience with me and both of my sisters. This is probably why they drank at night. It’s why I’ll continue to drink too. Love my wine!

Less screen time. This is for both me and my daughter. It is so easy to get consumed with TV, smart phones, Facebook, tablets and all other forms of technology. I want to be more present in the moment and that is going to mean putting away my phone and turning off the TV and focusing on enjoying whatever the moment brings. One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is jump on the bed. There is something so sweet and innocent about it. It doesn’t cost anything and we don’t need any kind of fancy technology to do it. The way she squeals with delight and jumps into my arms as she falls on top of me is something that can never be replaced with any form of technology.

More quality time. Do you know what my best childhood memories are? It’s got nothing to do with extravagant gifts or trips or being given materialistic things. My most favorite childhood memories are the ones when I was spending time with my parents. Sometimes it was a drive or a late evening at the beach or a bonfire in the backyard. Those are the things I remember and they still bring a smile (and sometimes a tear) to my face. My daughter doesn’t need things. She needs me. Thirty years from now she won’t care if she had the latest piece of technology as a child; all she’ll remember is how often I was present. I plan on taking her on as many silly, fun and random adventures as possible. A trip to Disneyworld? Yeah, that is something I want to do with her. But I also want to make sure we build sandcastles and catch snowflakes with our tongues and drink hot chocolate on a cool night as we look up at the stars and the sky. Those are the things she’ll remember most and they cost absolutely nothing.

Remember that happiness comes from within. Being a single mom means I always hear this line, “oh you’ll meet the perfect guy someday.” While this is a nice thing to daydream about, there’s always the possibility that I won’t meet someone. And that is okay. I don’t need a man to be happy. My happiness is not dependant on a relationship. My happiness comes from within. It comes from being a good person, a good mother, a good daughter, a good sister and a good friend. A friend of mine once told me that I need to stop measuring life by what everyone else is doing. I don’t have to follow a certain timeline or path to be happy. I can stray away from societal norms (long term relationships or marriage) and still find joy and happiness with my life. And to be perfectly honest; I am truly happy. I have an amazing family, the best friends, a job that I love and have everything I could ever need or want. I may not have it all, but I have enough. Anything above and beyond what I currently have would be a bonus. I am perfectly okay to continue on the path that I am on and see what life holds in store for me. And I’ll do it smiling because I love where I am at. I wouldn’t change a thing.

2016 is still very young. There is so much time ahead of us. There’s time to make resolutions, mess them up, make mistakes and try again. I know there will be days when I don’t stay true to all of my resolutions, and that is okay. As long as I keep trying and move forward then I’ll consider it a total success.

 

Generation Butthurt

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A few days ago I was standing in line at the post office. A mother and a young girl were standing behind me and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. The mom asked how the child’s day at school was and the little girl (who was maybe 7 years old) told her mom that her friend bullied her. The mom asked what happened and the daughter said that her friend told her that she didn’t like her My Little Pony schoolbag. The mom gently explained that even though it might have hurt her feelings, that incident was not bullying and that it was just a difference of opinion. The mother went on to explain what an opinion is and how it’s okay for people to have different opinions. I wanted to turn around and high five her, because nowadays, we seem to be in the middle of Generation Butthurt.

Anything that anyone says these days (particularly online) causes somebody somewhere to get offended. I have had friends delete me over my blog posts because they didn’t like my opinion. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all had the same opinions? I have no idea where this heightened sensitivity suddenly came from, but it is everywhere. I’ll use a mommy group as an example.

I often see posts in a mommy group where someone asks a question like “My five month old seems interested in food. What’s a good starter food?” And then someone will respond by saying that the recommendation is to wait until six months. Suddenly, people are attacking the person who responded saying things like “don’t bash her, it’s her decision,” or “mind your own business, hater.” But all the person who responded did was state a fact! I could understand if someone said something like ‘you must be terribly uneducated to feed your child before six months,” or “I feel sorry for your child,” then I could appreciate why someone would feel like they were being bashed. But when people are sharing information and stating it as nothing more than a fact, then what’s the problem?

I have no idea why people get so butthurt (I just love that word!) over things that other people say or do online. A while ago I made a blog post saying that ten kids is eight too many for me, and some people were ultra offended. One girl even told me that I was not being sensitive to large families. What I want to know is why does my opinion affect someone else’s life so much? Who gives a shit if I don’t want ten kids? Why does that affect you and your life? If you want ten kids, go for it. Fill your boots and your home. But just because my opinion is different doesn’t mean you should be offended. It’s almost like people look for a reason to get offended sometimes.

Another incident I had online was about an opinion that I expressed. Someone didn’t like what I had said and challenged me on it. She ended up sending me a private message telling me that she was reporting me to the police for cyber bullying. I pointed out that an opinion (even if brutally honest) is not bullying. She told me that it was and she was reporting me. All I could do was laugh and feel sorry for her because of how naïve, ridiculous and uninformed she was.

It made me wonder though, how many people falsely report cyber bullying when it’s actually just a difference of opinion? In Nova Scotia, the courts recently ruled that the anti-cyber bullying laws that were in place were being overruled as they infringed on the individual rights of a person with regards to freedom of speech and freedom of opinion.  I’ll share a quote from a newspaper article that recently ran the story:

Privacy lawyer David Fraser said the law was always too broad and had the power to limit people from expressing themselves online. 

“People should be able to express their honestly held opinions, particularly on matters of public interest,” he said. 

“Anything that hurts anybody’s feelings, if it’s done online, it’s cyberbullying. You can be liable, you can sue somebody for cyberbullying, you can be subject to an order that can cut you off from the internet, confiscate your electronic devices. It’s absolutely Draconian.” 

I think that laws that protect people from being bullied are extremely important. No one deserves to be bullied to the point where they are depressed, withdrawn, experiencing mental health issues or are suicidal. No one should have to fear going to work or school because they are being harassed and bullied. And no one should be subjected to repeated and consistent harassment and bullying online. But people seem to forget that there is a massive difference between bullying and honest (and sometimes brutally honest) opinions. People are so sensitive to opinions that differ from their own and I have no idea how or why this happened? I’m all about being politically correct, but I (and anyone else) should be able to state their opinions online without wondering if we hurt someone’s feelings simply because we hold views that are different from others.

So, next time you are online and you’re offended by something someone says, the best advice I know of is to just move on. It’s easy enough to get caught up and start a battle of wits, but it’s also much easier just to move on with your day and life. And if need be, block the person that’s pissing you off. It’s that simple. The thing about opinions is that they are a lot like assholes, everyone has one and sometimes they stink. But don’t let it ruin your day!

 

 

Facebook and Mommy Groups

When I was pregnant, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join one of her mom groups on Facebook. I immediately told her that I wasn’t interested, as I had heard they were nothing but drama.

I wish I had taken my own advice and stayed away.

When I first started blogging, I realized that my audience wasn’t very big. I didn’t know how to reach more people. I tried Twitter and promoted through my own Facebook page, but I wasn’t getting the views I wanted. An editor had suggested to me that I join some mommy groups online and allow people whom I might not ever connect with otherwise the chance to see my blog.

So I joined some of the bigger mommy groups. I rarely posted, other than links to my blog. I read a lot of the posts that other moms made and they were judgemental and mean and catty. The posts sometimes had 200 or more responses of ladies bickering back and forth over a difference of opinion.

After a while, I joined some smaller groups. These groups also had drama, but you got to know the members better because instead of 15,000 members, there was usually only 500-1000.

I promoted my blog and made some new friends and got some good advice. Suddenly I found myself in about 20 different mommy groups. Some were wise, some funny, some full of drama and some full of nonsense. But nevertheless, I enjoyed them and it really did help with my blogging.

One particular group was the most addicting. The women in it would say and do things that were silly and funny and sometimes lacked logic or common sense. I would sometimes comment on their posts and often, people would agree with what I said. And I noticed that the same people agreed with my opinions a lot of the time. It wasn’t long before I became online friends with those people as we shared the same values and beliefs.

But then something happened. Suddenly, my new friends and I became judgy. We became catty. We became the kind of drama I did not want to get involved in. We would often talk about things that members of other groups said and made fun of their questions, parenting choices, opinions, views and life decisions. I knew I was being harsh and I knew that I was better than that, but I couldn’t stop. It was like the drama in itself became an obsession that I could not control.

It started to consume me. I looked for drama. I found it easily and once it was found, it was easy for everyone else to get involved and judge. We judged a lot of people for very stupid reasons. Reasons that were not nice or didn’t merit judgement.

I hurt some people by doing this. I hurt people who did not deserve to feel hurt. I betrayed who I was and became who I did not want to be. And it cost me a lot. It cost friendships of nice people that I met online. It cost my values and beliefs. I did not want to be that person, yet I became that person, all because I got caught in something that consumed me and something I thrived on.

I feel terrible about those whose feelings were hurt. I’ve always taken pride in being a nice person, but after I hurt those individuals, I didn’t feel like a nice person. I felt really low. Knowing that someone was feeling bad because of me was not a nice feeling. It caused me to feel guilt, shame and remorse.

To anyone I hurt; I am truly so sorry. I learned a life lesson in all of this and have since removed myself from most Facebook mom groups.

I also experienced a form of bullying because of this. People began to attack my blog. They left nasty comments and three people left threats. It was so upsetting because I have never been threatened before. Unfortunately, this experience has left me no choice but to change the settings on my blog so that user comments can only be seen if approved by me. I’ve always valued comments but cannot have people leaving threats against me and my daughter. And while I may change the settings back in the future, for now they need to remain in their new form as I cannot and will not tolerate people behaving in such a manner.

I know that moving forward I will be better. I will do better, and I will hold myself to a higher standard. If it’s not kind, loving or said with concern, then I will not say anything at all. I want to be the best person I can possibly be so that I am setting a good example for my daughter. I want to teach her about kindness, love and acceptance and teaching by showing is one of the best ways to set that example.

There’s an old Cherokee Legend that came to mind after all of this. I’ve copied it below as I feel it is a shining example of what I learned through all of this.

An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Overpriced strollers and shopping local

A few months ago, when I first started blogging, I made a post called ‘Overpriced Strollers are Bullshit.” I still stand by that because I really do think overpriced strollers are well, bullshit. I can’t believe manufacturers and companies get away with charging $700 or more for a stroller. Nevertheless, I understand now why people buy them. If you use your stroller frequently or live in the city and are on buses a lot or have 2 or more children in a stroller, I understand the investment. I use my stroller 2-3 times a month so I could never justify paying that amount. But I appreciate why some people do.  I still think the price point is bullshit but I don’t actually think it’s bullshit that people want or need a good stroller.

My girlfriend recently gave birth to her second baby! He is so cute and squishy and adorable. She did a lot of research about what type of stroller she wanted and decided to go with the Baby Jogger City Select. After taxes, this bad boy cost her over $750! I know that is a lot of money but she has a two-year old and a newborn and will likely be using the stroller A LOT over the next 3-4 years. It made sense to invest in quality, and to also invest in a stroller that has an optional attachment seat that turns it into a double stroller.

When considering her purchase, she thought long and hard about what business she wanted to give her hard-earned money to. She decided to shop local and bought from a small retailer in HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality). This was so awesome to see! I am a huge supporter of shopping local and patronizing small businesses instead of big box stores. A $750 sale is a HUGE DEAL for a small business and a few of those a week would definitely add up. My friend was thrilled with her purchase and felt good about giving her business to a local speciality shop.

Fast forward to about four weeks later. Baby Jogger puts out a manufacturers promotion. The promotion said “Buy a Baby Jogger City Select and get the 2nd seat (which is the attachment to turn the stroller into a double) for free.” The attachment has a value of $250, which is a lot of money.

Naturally, my friend was let down. She had JUST bought the stroller not even a full month ago. She contacted the business to see if they could let her in on the promotion and they told her that her stroller didn’t qualify as it had a different SKU/Barcode on the box because of the color she bought . This didn’t sit well with my friend. The Baby Jogger City Select is a very specific stroller, how many barcodes could there possibly be? So she called the manufacturer and explained the situation. The manufacturer told her that the business owner was being dishonest and that the barcode on the colour she bought was eligible for the promotion. The manufacturer also explained that this was a promotion through the manufacturer, and would not cost the business anything. Just a bit of time and paperwork to get reimbursed.

At this point my friend was annoyed. She called back to the place of business and told them that Baby Jogger said that they should be able to give her the free seat with no issues/problems. The owner then (again) said that they were unable to because of the color difference and that they normally would within a reasonable time frame but couldn’t because of the difference in color/incorrect barcode. My friend then let them know that was not the case according to the manufacturer and that the manufacturer confirmed that the barcode was eligible for the rebate. Once they heard this they suddenly started to say that they couldn’t price match after a 14 day period. Yet their receipt does not say that anywhere. In fact, their receipt says that have a return policy that’s fair and logical. But when it came time to own up and do the right thing, they took a cop-out and said 14 days, even though that has never been stated anywhere before.

My friend ended up calling a few big box outlets to see what they would do in this case, and they all said they would make an exception. This is a woman on maternity leave with a brand new baby at home. I can’t imagine owning a business and not wanting to help a customer in that type of situation. Especially when the situation could have easily been fixed and would have cost the retailer nothing. Not one penny.

Before anyone reads this and thinks I am being incredibly biased, I want to clarify on a few things. I love shopping local. In fact, I don’t mind spending a few extra dollars to pump money into my local economy. But the one thing I HATE about shopping local, is that bullshit like this can happen and you have no higher-ups to go to. Local retailers are their own companies, therefore their own bosses. And that’s often to their advantage. I would say that 98% of small locally owned businesses go above and beyond for their customers. I eat breakfast at a small café nearly every weekend and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the business owners would do anything to keep their customers happy. Because your customers are your bread and butter.

But when customers are treated unfairly and with disrespect, it upsets me. Because my friend could have spent her money anywhere at all, and chose to give it to a small business. And instead of being thanked for it, she is essentially being punished because the business doesn’t want to make an exception. An exception that would cost them nothing other than a bit of time.  I can get over the fact that they aren’t willing to help her, but what I find particularly unnerving is the dishonesty, the lies and the inconsistency.

So friends, I ask you this. Research return policies and price matching policies thoroughly before you make a big purchase at a small business. I don’t want to discourage people from shopping local, because that’s not what this is about. I want you to continue to shop local and put money back into the economy of where you live. But I do ask you to be cautious, because you could end up losing out. Check Facebook reviews, talk to friends and go to the store a few times and see what the customer service is like before you make a purchase. If you determine that it’s a good fit then definitely shop local. But buyer beware; there are some small businesses who do not put their customers first.

With that being said, carry on with your overpriced strollers; I’ll be putting that $750 towards chocolate and wine!