Mom in the Works

Mom in the Works: March 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Think twice, please.

Judging. We've all done it, whether we mean to or not. Let's just be honest -- we don't appreciate it when people do it to us, so why do we do it to others? It seems to affect all areas of our lives, but since I've become a parent, I feel it more acutely (or maybe I just notice it more now).

Case in point - I saw a mother in Target, recently, who was walking with her kids in the store (the kids were both around toddler age), and the mom was in a hurry, while trying to corral her kids. One kid was dragging behind and stopped in the middle of the aisle and screamed for the candy that her mom didn't want to buy her. Her other child, a little boy, was trying to explain to her the plot of his favorite TV show and despite her best efforts, she could only respond with an "uh-huh, ok, ok." Her phone rang, she dropped it, and her kids proceeded to continue shouting and speaking, and the tense situation only escalated as they took turns getting louder. This went on for quite some time. 

While witnessing this, I noticed an older woman who just stared and scowled, as if the world was inconveniencing her because this stressed mother was having a hard time with her kids. She then passed me and told me what a "good baby" I had (which he has his tough moments too!), but Joel just happened to be content at the time. I said, "Thank you." What I really wanted to say, but couldn't think of at the time, would have been something like, "Kids are kids. They're all going to act badly sometimes - and they don't care where or when."

Maybe that mother had a hard day. Perhaps she found out some terrible news - that her father was just sent to the hospital or perhaps this is the millionth tantrum her kid has thrown lately, and she's tired and on the verge of tears. Maybe one of her kids has a disability or is autistic and that it's sometimes harder for them to follow directions. Or, maybe she's a single mother trying to clip coupons, provide for her family, and love her kids as best as she can. Or still, maybe she's just a mother of two toddlers. Get the picture? Isn't that reason enough to cut her some slack? My heart goes out to her. 

No, my child hasn't yet thrown a public temper-tantrum (my turn will come!). But I have had a few harsh looks sent my way from the unsympathetic people out there, when my child was crying in public. Do you really think that I want my son to cry? It's hard for me to not get angry at these people. I feel for you if you've ever had someone judge you unfairly. It happens, whether we realize it or not. Sometimes, I feel like there's an invisible badge that parents wear as soon as they pop out a baby that states, "Unsolicited advice and criticism welcome."

I have no idea what that mother's story is and what was going on in her life that day. I don't know, but I also have a feeling that the woman who scowled at her didn't either. Why, then, do we so quickly assume things about other people? Why do we think and that they are "bad" parents, as if we're somehow better? Do you have perfect kids? If so, please write a book and share your wisdom with the rest of us. I'm sure that your way worked so well for your kids and you can't understand why someone decides to do something a different way. You weren't and still aren't perfect. We all haven't really a clue about how to do this whole parent thing. Trial and error, experimentation, flexibility, whatever you want to call it, are what most of us parents live by. And grace. A lot of grace and forgiveness - both of ourselves as parents and of our children. What worked for your children may not work for another person's children. The way you disciplined may not be exactly the way someone else chooses to discipline their kids. So what? We're all learning. Some of us just haven't arrived at the solutions yet. Kids aren't perfect....and parents aren't either.

Of course, I haven't even scratched the surface of judgement. The example I described is comparatively a minor example of one person judging another; there are certainly more serious and even violent situations where people judge others, and it causes them to act out. People are critical of others' lifestyle choices, religion, race, economic status, as we all know. 

Before you assume something about someone, think twice. You really have no idea what's going on in their life. So, why don't we all just each other a break, or better yet, show kindness or even love to one another. Don't judge the tired, irritable parent with five children, or the same sex couple walking the street. They have a story all their own, and so do you. 

"...Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

Notice that the verse doesn't say - judge, marginalize, criticize, and be intolerant of others. I know that there are many Christians out there that are just fine and who show genuine kindness and good will towards all groups of people. Keep it up. As for those who don't fall into that category, remember that you cannot love God and hate another person (paraphrased from 1 John 4:20).  Think twice before you judge, please.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Must-Have Baby Products

As promised, here are some more of my favorite baby products. I really try to go minimal as far as products and gadgets are concerned (I don't like much clutter/paying for it). However, there are some things that I have definitely learned make life easier as a parent, so here goes:

1. Boogie Wipes - These magnificent little tissues contain saline and moisturizers, which helps remove dried crusty leftovers off your little one's nose (there's really no graceful way to say that, is there?). Compared to a wet tissue or even a baby wipe, which I usually avoid wiping my son's face with, these are more effective, soft, and gentle! They help keep the inevitable red nose during cold/flu season at bay and my son doesn't kick and scream while I wipe his nose...most of the time, anyway.

2. Diaper Genie - Despite my best efforts to not spend money on one of these, I broke down one day because I was constantly trying to freshen up our home from the slew of stinky diapers that would collect, even though we change our garbage daily. I read more than one article that said these were unnecessary, but for us it is worth it. Our son is pretty "regular" as they say, and we still only have to remove the bag once per week. It's so convenient too - you just cut the bottom of the bag, tie it shut, and pull up the bag for the next round of diapers. Genius.

3.  Swaddle-Me - I cannot tell you how much these came in handy for our colicky son. Swaddling is an art, and if your baby is crying (or you are lacking the patience for tedium), just slip one of these on your baby, and he will be nice and cozy (and hopefully more calm). One night when our son was only about two weeks old, I was desperate and frustrated after being unsuccessful in swaddling him in a blanket that was just too small. I suddenly remembered that I had a couple of these dashed in an organizer and within one minute had Joel quiet and my sanity back. Worth every cent! I also heard great things about the Halo brand of swaddles, but I received several Swaddle Me's as gifts, so we just opted for those. I'm guessing that there are patterns out there for these if you are a DIY-er and would rather make them. Just having something like this on hand is valuable!

My favorite picture of any baby in a swaddle...ever (I may be biased)! 

4. Sound machine - When Joel was young/colicky, this helped A TON. You don't even have to get a dedicated "white noise machine." You can also use the static on a radio (be careful to not turn the radio up too loudly). Recently, there has been a little controversy on the safety of white noise machines in regards to infants' hearing. Dr. Karp, author, of Happiest Baby on the Block has responded to the recent study and says that the results of the study are inconclusive in respect to having the white noise as quiet and as far away from the crib as possible. He poses that at the appropriate levels, white noise can even have life-saving benefits for infants. Read more here and here. It mimics the sounds of the womb (which are as loud as a vacuum or hair dryer), so it comforts and makes them feel right at home!


5. Baby carrier - Whether you're faithful to the Ergo, Moby, or Baby Bjรถrn, invest in a good carrier. It will really help, especially in those early months when babies more cuddling and soothing. And, you can even get things done with them or carry them places while they're still relatively light (and you can of course carry them until they're almost 40 lbs with some carriers). More on this in my post with reviews on baby carriers.

What are some of your must-have baby products? What would you recommend to a friend whose a mom-to-be? Please share!