Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

The Ways Children Change You

Welcome to On Parenting's new occasional guest blog feature, where we welcome parenting bloggers from around the Web. If you'd like to join the guest blogging party here at On Parenting, please e-mail parenting@washingtonpost.com.

By Jessica Trevelyan

Children change you. For me, they've changed the way I see the world. It's trite, but true. Now, I do not light up like a firecracker when I see a bag of Lik-M-Aid, 'cause it reminds me of being 9 and riding my bike down to the Dandy Lion to grab some candy with a posse of my friends. Instead, I have an internal monologue that goes something like this (reading label): "Artificial flavors, dextrose, maltodextrin, blue 1 lake, citric acid -- anyone got online access? What the heck is maltodextrin? Where does it come from? I can't believe scientists try to claim there is no such thing as a sugar high. Ah, crap! I can't rob my kid of her childhood. One Fun Dip won't kill her. Where is Ellyn Satter when I need her?!" Aloud: "Go ahead and have some. You're right! It is yummy, I loved that when I was a kid."

My kids have also changed the way I see drugs. Mercifully, my oldest is only five so I'm not going into the efficacy of DARE programs just yet. I'm thinking more along the lines of prescription drugs, and, more particularly, how to get rid of them safely. My daughter's been having a horrid time with the antibiotics she's been taking for an ear infection. While her ear feels better, she's been doubled over with stomach pain from the amoxicillin, probiotics or no. So when the kindly pediatrician who checked her out said to stop taking the drugs -- after only 7 of 10 days --- I wondered aloud what to do with the leftover meds. His response: Just throw them out. I asked again, sure I must have heard him incorrectly. Surely, with pharma-water all over the news, with pollution on the collective brain (is that just a voice in my head?), there must be some safer way to dispose of medication? Nope. Just chuck it.

If you've lived in D.C. for any length of time, the recent news about the dubious quality of our water supply didn't come as a huge surprise. So taking my kid's meds and chucking them straight into the waste system -- possibly contaminating the soil and hence local animals or groundwater -- really seemed like a bad idea. But what do I know?

When I looked into it, I learned much of the waterway pharma contamination comes just from us peeing our drugs out in the first place. Obviously, we should skip the meds if we can (good luck getting sleep-deprived parents of agonized children, myself included, to use their babies in that particular trial!). But let's say we end up taking prescription drugs ourselves or acquiring them for our children. There *is* a D.C. Hazardous Waste Collection Day on April 26th -- and, hey, according to their FAQs we can drop off old meds there. Go, D.C. government! They hold cleanup days a couple of times a year.

If you can't get down to that twice-annual event, the Fish and Wildlife Service put out a bulletin recently (March 20) pleading with people not to flush old meds. Their guidelines say to crush and then dilute the meds (even liquids like my daughter's amoxicillin) with water, then to mix them with kitty litter or sawdust (to deter critters) and then to tie the mess up in a plastic bag.

And this, my friends, is where being a parent has completely changed my world view. Now, when I look at those two options, I don't think, oh, trash can! Closer to home, much easier. I think: My plastic-bag-encased-pharma will be in the landfill forever if that bag is not torn open and gobbled by some tiny animal whose mother is right about now saying, "Oh, just this once, baby, that pink liquid was my favorite when I was a pup. ..."

Has parenting changed the way you view the world? Medicines? Our environment?

Jessica Trevelyan blogs as MamaBird on SurelyYouNest.com and for DC Metro Moms.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Boy Power or Girls Rule? | Next: The Dangers of Sport

Comments


It's changed my view of the world, but not particularly of medicines or the environment. Those views are pretty much the same. Leftover medicine goes in the trash, and the environment has needed to be saved since my childhood but the Republicans have always opposed it. So, I oppose the Republicans.

What being a parent HAS changed is my emotional response to stories on children, particularly babies. In the past, when I read about how a child was killed, I thought it was awful, but it was always on a more intellectual level. Now, I feel it in my gut. I can immediately imagine the horror the parents must feel. I can understand the worry parents have over their children's well being. It all hits home at a more visceral level.

Posted by: Ryan | April 8, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I hear you, Ryan, after having my first child I read a story about a mother giving her 3 month old to a Catholic family during the Holocaust to save it -- and the descriptions of how they kept her alive with bread crusts soaked in sugar water made me sob.

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Dang, Ryan and MamaBird, y'all have already got me crying this morning. I'm with you guys: I cannot take those stories any more. I've had to stop reading the CNN headlines and watching the news -- somehow, something horrible happening to a child always gets the top headlines, and the constant parade of horribles overwhelms me.

On a happier note, I have learned that I am much more patient, and much less selfish, than I ever thought -- things that my friends always saw in me, but I never saw in myself.

Posted by: Laura | April 8, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Same here. I listen to those stories and wonder how those parents survived.

And definitely, I see myself seeing the world differently. For one, the kids are so adorable, this is a great stage (do people say that about all of them?). And when someone is difficult or horrible or whatever, I think: hey, they were 3 once too. Didn't someone think they were the cutest ever? We all started out this same way (okay, so I'm corny).

And also, I am much more in tune with what I do and what other do. As in anything in this world. Where I am more attuned to consequences and actions. Whether with a 5 YO and putting him in a corner, or any number of decisions by companies or governments - and thinking: well, if you didn't want those results, why did you XYZ to encourage them?

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

As a grandmother I am amazed how differently children are being raised these days. So much thought is being put into what they eat and how the environment affects them. We took so much for granted!! We raised thoughtful, intelligent human beings. They are taking it a step further.

Posted by: Julie Rogers | April 8, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Nicely put, atlmom, attuned to the world in a new way. And I so agree about thinking each stage is the most amazing -- I actually cannot believe how sappy I am now!

And Laura, my DH jokingly tells me I have to just stop reading - cause of the hair trigger sobfests.... Like censorship but in my own best interest (of course I can't stop).

Happy morning, all -- offline to be on as a parent.

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Having step-children has not particularly changed my world view. I still feel pretty much the same way about food and everything else.

It has probably changed me. I have managed to find reserves of patience that I didn't think that I had. I never thought that seeing a child light up when they see me would light up my own world.

And I love QUIET! At times I would kill just for a few minutes of quiet when the kids are in the house. I am more introverted than I thought I was.

Posted by: Billie | April 8, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

This isn't about parenting per se, but I just have to comment on the pediatrician telling her to stop the antibiotic partway through the treatment...one of the biggest contributors to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bugs!

Posted by: Dana | April 8, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I do still throw my medicine in the trash...but I am much more aware of what I am putting into their little bodies and what I am bringing into my home. I also agree with everyone else who mentioned being on the verge of tears after every news broadcast that involves a child.

Posted by: Momof5 | April 8, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

And the 'old' publix commercial for valentine's day (where the boy makes a cake with his mom, her thinking it's for one of his friends, and then he gives it to a 'special girl' --her - always cry ALWAYS. Just thinking about it now...)

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we definitely eat differently than we did years ago. And my kid will not get lunchables for lunch. He keeps asking, and I keep saying no. I'm not sure he understands why, but maybe, one day...

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Billie, motherhood definitely got me in touch with my inner-introvert. After 14 1/2 years the constant demand on my time, body, emotion and attention is just starting to let up. Its hard being the leader of your own cult.
I can remember crying one Sunday when my 4 and 2 year olds wouldn't take naps or leave me alone when I wanted to watch an honset-to-god grown-up-woman movie and just be by myself. Then I remembered my OWN mother (of 5) and how she would read in the bathroom with the door closed -- the only place we'd leave her alone. And how every Friday night my Dad would get all 5 kids out of the house: we'd go to the local diner and then to the YMCA for 2 hours of being thrown around the pool by Dad, who would play Sea Monster until the whistle blew. Mom? she stayed home and got 3, maybe 4 hours to herself.
This was a beautiful column today. Yeah, being a parent has made me a kid again, and it has helped me appreciate everyone who just wants to be the best parent they can.

Posted by: Yo'mama | April 8, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Golly, I agree with everyone today - how disagreeable! haha

Altmom and others, I cannot even begin to deal with the awful things that happen to children. It is truly a visceral response to those types of news stories and I consider parents who survive the loss of a child to be some kind of super heros, because when I think about it, I cannot even figure out how I would breathe, let alone move on although I do think if I had a surviving child, I would somehow find a way to be there and make a life for the one that remains.

Dana, I agree with you on the antibiotics. I'm so surprised that the doc didn't talk about probiotics and other dietary things that can be done. Seriously, do not get me started on the overuse of antibiotics, some of these docs 'ought to be run out of town.

Posted by: Moxiemom | April 8, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I hardly slept Sat night, and the older one was at soccer with dad, so I had the little one. So about naptime, I told him it's time to nap. He said he didn't want to. So I let him take whatever he wanted to his room, told him it was quiet time, and that he needed to stay there.

Then *I* took a nap. Of course, when DH tried to wake him several hours later, he didn't want to get out of bed...

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

The minute my son was born, I changed. During the delivery, I was holding my husband's hand like a life line but as soon as my little man came out, I no longer needed it -- what I needed was to know that my husband could be next to our baby, holding his tiny hand while they cleaned him up and then gave him to me.

What has changed me most is that there are now two little people in the world whose death/destruction would absolutely annhilate me. I can't read or hear about a child dying in any manner without thinking "Please, God, not that EVER". I try not to obsess but I can't help it sometimes.

Their existence alters how I view the world, absolutely. I see the wonder of things I've thought mundane when I'm looking through their eyes, and the joy of what's possible that only a child knows. Being a mother is the most amazing role I could ever imagine.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 8, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

When either my DH or I complain, the other one keeps saying: you're going to miss them when they're gone (i.e., grown up - no matter how close they stay, they won't be little kids for long).

Even when they wake us up at 7 on a weekend, or throw tantrums, or do something so crazy. We always remember how little time we have with them.

And it's hysterical to watch my almost 3 YO who can't walk ANYWHERE. All he does is to run. It's so amusing.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

atlmom, you mean you get to sleep until 7? SO jealous -- we're lucky to get 6. Stupid engineer genes.

Posted by: Laura | April 8, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Laura, my older one is a HUGE sleeper. If the two of the kids are sharing a room, the little one makes noise, sings, runs around, and then the big one comes to us and complains about how he can't sleep. Or he tries to reason (with the 2 YO) - hey, if you don't get to sleep, you'll be tired the next day.

The little is actually a good sleeper (two speeds, VERY on or off). Cause he spends most of his time running.

So yes, we're pretty lucky, especially since they also GO to sleep well, too (well, unless we're somewhere new, and then the little one, well, ... see above).

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

To all the posters: Are you not just absolutely amazed at how much love you have for these precious children? And how different the love is than what you have for your spouse? This kind of love is almost scary in its power, isn't it, because you realize (perhaps for the first time) that there's someone totally dependent on you to look out for their best interest.

And, atlmom, I totally get the Lunchables thing. We did them when they first came out but as I started reading labels and making changes to my own diet, I was appalled that I had ever allowed it.

Posted by: momof3boys | April 8, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and kudoes to Jessica for a well-written article;loved the humor laced throughout.

One poster referenced the fact that the pediatrician told her to stop the course of antibiotics before it was time. I would have done the same thing if my child was suffering from stomach cramps and pain due to the medicine.

Posted by: momof3boys | April 8, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

altmom, yeah, we're fairly similar, so I can't really complain (not that I let it stop me!). Our older is also a very good sleeper -- in bed by 8, sleeps 10-11 hrs straight. It's the boy who's got the engineer gene -- to bed @ 7:30, up before the crack of freaking dawn (although the girl also did that at his age, so guess there's hope yet). We've tried later bedtimes to induce a later wakeup, but no luck -- we just end up with super cranky baby in the evening who is STILL up at 5:30!!

But, yeah, they do go to bed very easily, so guess I should be happy for that, eh? :-) Although the boy has now taken to talking to himself for an hour, and is experimenting with throwing everything out of his crib to entertain himself (he is still processing the fact that tossing toys = they don't come back!). Soon, I suspect, we will need to start keeping him up later than his sister -- which will just wreak all sorts of havoc with sibling jealousy. Sigh.

Posted by: Laura | April 8, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Laura, I have heard that putting them to bed earlier can sometimes make them wake up even earlier! I guess someone up there's playing a big joke on parents.

And yes, I think our little one needs (or will need) less sleep than the big one. The little one still naps, so he does get more than the big one, usually, but he's up playing while the big one is asleep, many evenings (I know, if we get rid of the nap, maybe he'll sleep earlier, but I think I'll just have a crankier child). *sigh*.

So we'll have to deal with the bedtime thing as well, one day.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a parent, and I think about those things. Maybe it's not parenting as much as just getting older and more conscious of your effect on the world.

Posted by: Suzie | April 8, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

no, suzie, it's not just being a parent. I'd adopt all the kids in the world if i could. Thought about it before marriage too.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jessica; I had read the WaPo article about the drugs in the water and had wondered what we were supposed to do about it. Now we know!
P.S. I still love Fun Dip!

Posted by: Xerxes | April 8, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

OK, back online bz the babe is napping! atlmom, I too have a runner, albeit a 15 month old one! who thinks he is 5 like his sister... Anyways, you can ask Stacey, I had a whole rant about antibiotics use that was off-topic and got edited out due to space constraints. 1st -- we are huge probiotics users, and took them throughout the course of antibiotics (moreso after stomach pain -- completely with the support of the doc). And my understanding on it was that 7 days was a 'full' course. They can prescribe 7 or 10 of that particular med. My father in the 70s was a big anti antibiotics man, before his time. We are lucky in that we don't have too many ear infections so don't have to make the call very often as to whether to just wait it out. Someone else should write a guest post about antibiotics being overprescribed tho! ;)

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Yo'Mama, I love your line about being the leader of your own cult. We used to call my first my appendage. Love that your dad used to play Sea Monster solo every Friday night. PapaBird? Listening?

atlmom and momof3boys - hear, hear on the lunchables thing, I am wary even of the school 'hot lunch' my DD is so amped to get her hands on... i am guessing that atl mom may be southern ;) but anyone know of any efforts to get healthier food into DCPS?

workingmomx and all of the others who wrote about the breathtaking parents-eye view of the wonder of and dangers facing our children, sheesh, I don't need a Keds commercial to get me all misty today. Love this commenting community - I can't usually get online before now bz of my aforementioned runner!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"I have heard that putting them to bed earlier can sometimes make them wake up even earlier!"

But they are such monsters at night and so darn cute in the morning. Except, of course, when they try to pry your eyes open with their little fingers on Sunday morning and tell you it's "Wake up Time". Ugh!

Another cool thing about being a parent is that I get to do fun things that I gave up when I turned into an adult. Riding a roller coaster, getting buried in the sand up to my neck at the beach, practicing a tongue twister from Fox in Socks doesn't seem quite right for a geezer unless their are children involved.

On a spiritual note, having a child made me feel like I was a God. (Not that I know what a God feel like), but in a sense, there I was in the delivery room, holding a helpless little soul that I had taken part in her creation and now it was up to me to love, nurture, protect, and guide her through life. And, as with all kids, they get older and disobedient which makes me think, "Yep God, now I know what you've been trying to tell me for all these years and I didn't understand." My faith tells me that all humans are created in the likeness and image of God and I sincerely believe that the relationship between the child and their parent reflects the relationship the parent has with God.

Posted by: DandyLion | April 8, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

whoops, that last post was me -- and Julie? You were the best mom ever, probably because you were not (and didn't have to be) a helicopter parent! Plus, I know you snuck whole wheat flour into our cookies...

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Having children around reminds you that the world is still glowingly full of possibilities you haven't considered. Really, why not eat your yogurt with a toothbrush? Or carefully bend down and taste the sidewalk (well, ok, I can think of some reasons...)
It also, as people have said, gives you a terrifying consciousness of your own vulnerability to chance. When you make dozens of distracted snap decisions a day, some are bound to be wrong - and the news reminds us that the consequences can sometimes be catastrophic. I no longer think "what a dumb thing to do" when reading about some horrbile freak accident involving children - I think "there but for the grace of God..." Sir Francis Bacon wrote (roughly) "He that hath children hath given hostages to fortune..."

Posted by: lurkette | April 8, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I live in Atlanta (have for over a decade) but am not a southerner. New Yorker, to be precise. My MIL reminds me all the time I'm not a southerner...

Anyway - DS was so enthralled with the idea of buying lunch, but I rather he have something nutritious. So we came up with the idea that he can buy lunch on Fridays. Which works out well. His first week, he had PB&J every day - and so, on Friday, I asked him : what did you have for lunch? And he said: peanut butter and jelly. Yeah.

So it's not horrible, although I suppose it would be better if he brought lunch every day. What can ya do. He eats hot lunches sometimes on Fridays, sometimes not, I'm not so concerned.

He forgets many weeks, and just takes his lunch that is packed for him many times (the au pair hasn't yet understood the concept, she's so used to making the lunches for him - so it's there many times, no matter what we tell her).

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

When my children were small I was more self-righteous. I did all the white people stuff -breast feeding, educational toys, special experiences. My children were perfect for several years due to my efforts!

As they got older and started expressing their little selves I got more tolerant. There was something about my angel-baby getting into fights at lunch that caused me to think that maybe perfect parenting isn't all there is.

After my formerly perfect child refused to take his ADD meds, and managed to graduate from high school and college cumm laude I came around to the view that medicine doesn't always offer the answers. Sometimes you just have to wait for them.

Posted by: RoseG | April 8, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

lurkette - ah, so lovely and true, the Bacon quote

Atl - hybrid n/s mom? i think we are going to head in the once/week hotlunch direction, good idea

And RoseG - oh, so much is hardwired, it is astonishing. I used to think humans were all about nurture but it seems like I and the science are headed back in twds the nature end of things. Love the idea of sitting back and allowing the answers to emerge - if you're patient enough.

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Would atlmom & Laura please get a room, already!

Posted by: Jake | April 8, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Mamabird: well, I don't think he really likes the lunch that is provided, it was a largely new experience. I didn't want to say: oh, no, that's no good for you, you bring your lunch, cause I thought that then he would really want to get the school lunch.

So he at first looked forward to it all week, we weren't telling him no, and now, as I said, he doesn't care all that much, but he likes it - I think it makes him feel grown up, too, that he can have the money, and use it,etc. Of course, I never get change...

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Would atlmom & Laura please get a room, already!

Posted by: Jake | April 8, 2008 12:45 PM

so Mr. CrankyPants doesn't have to be bothered with ignoring their posts? Come join us in the adult room. I hear the teacher needs your seat down the hall in her kindergarten classroom for a 5 year old.

Posted by: OMG | April 8, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

When my children were small I was more self-righteous. I did all the white people stuff -breast feeding, educational toys, special experiences. My children were perfect for several years due to my efforts!

-----

This is not the first time I've heard this quote, but I'm still totally confused, why would someone call this kind of parenting "white people stuff?" Why? Please talk to a therapist.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think RoseG just means that very earnest, middle/upper middle class, serious about everything parenting mode we sometimes opperate in -- like we can't ever do it the quick/fun/sloppy/corner cutting way you sometimes have to do things when you parent. You can't always be the BEST YOU CAN BE, sometimes you're just who you are.

I was at a Tastefully Simple party this weekend and it was fun and I ordered some things. The hostess (I work with her) wanted me to have a party and invite my neighbors and I just looked at the ingredient labels and thought to myself "no one in my Whole Foods neighborhood would buy any of this convenient mix stuff and feed it to the kids." But then, I let my kids drink whole milk (it tastes better)and we go on You Tube together and have a good larf and sometimes we skip Sunday School because sleeping in is almost as good for your soul.

Posted by: Yo'Mama | April 8, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

ohhhh...sleeping in so must be good for your soul. Yes, I understood the spirit of the comment, I used to be a teacher and when my first was little I thought always in terms of maximizing her learning opportunities every second. I triple thought every decision. Now that I have another critter scampering around (and my parenting has evolved) I still triple think everything but a lot more just HAPPENS. And Yo'Mama, since I research way too much, I will just say that the Sally Fallonites/Weston A Price Foundation folks would say that you are right on target with that whole milk. Fat's good for kids' brain development. ;)

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, sometimes we take too much time to think about things, or to take account of things (i.e., pictures and videos and whatnot to 'remember' things) when we should just be living.

Just ambling along is sometimes a good thing, too. I sometimes need to remember that.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Rose G., I'm going to second the Questions about "white people stuff" - sounds like parenting plain and simple. We can certainly debate whether it is good partenting, but I don't think the activities listed are limited to white people. I have friends of many colors and the perfect parent neuroses are amply distributed amongst all of us! haha

Posted by: Moxiemom | April 8, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

And some of the over-thinking and maximizing plays into consumerism (if I buy the best foods, no matter the price or science, and the most expensive private school I will have the best children). Kind of as if you can buy an innoculation to keep your child from a future of acne, state college, 5 digit income a and domestic cars.

Posted by: Yo'mama | April 8, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

And then, in the end, you get what you get, and you're just happy you had the chance. Even if they do go to CSS. ;)

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

For me it changed everything in that my nephews were the gateway to forming the bridges back to my family. They also were the only people I felt unconditional love and support for, knew instantly I would kill to protect forever, and are often the only things that give me hope and meaning. Their life of possibilities is all I need to give me purpose.

But no, I don't think I'll ever have children of my own.

Posted by: Liz D | April 8, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Liz: but all kids need a cool aunt. I know that there will be things in the kids' lives that I won't know about, but hope that there are trusted adults in their lives who can help them when they need it but don't think they can turn to mom or dad. And people like you will be there.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi MamaBird, As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Nurse who had long been interested in parenting - I love this post! Parenting has never been easy, but I think it is getting more complex and complicated as our lives get more complex and complicated. There is so much information we have to absorb, so many choices and decisions to make - and so much pressure to "do it right". I think all moms and dads are trying to do their very best in the midst of all this pressure - many are struggling to find the ways that work best for them and their children. A blog such as yours is just a marvelous resource for getting up to date and well researched information. Thank you so much for the excellent service you provide to families everywhere. I highly recommend your blog on a daily basis to parents who want the best for their families and their environment. Many thanks.

Posted by: linda rogers | April 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

linda rogers

"I think all moms and dads are trying to do their very best in the midst of all this pressure "

If this is true, why are there so many slacker moms and dads?

Posted by: Confused | April 8, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

ATL: Exactly, and I'm totally the spoiling wacky cool aunt. I'm hoping when they get older that they can come and spend a few weeks in the summer with me here in Austin.

Posted by: Liz D | April 8, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

What's a slacker mom or dad? Does it have a demographic, typical appearance, traits or behaviors?

My personal mantra is "Just because they are doing it different doesn't mean they are doing it wrong."

Posted by: Yo'mama | April 8, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Yo'mama

"My personal mantra is "Just because they are doing it different doesn't mean they are doing it wrong."

Oh, brother. How about the deadbeat parents, the messed up druggie parents...?

Posted by: Confused | April 8, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I actually buy organic, even though it costs more. Never saw that coming...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Great info, and wonderfully written. As the father of a 2-year old, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from Jessica T!

Posted by: John Hlinko | April 8, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Funny, thoughtful, well written. I'll be sure to alert all my favorite moms to this space.

Posted by: Marc E. | April 8, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I probably should have said most moms and dads are doing their best. A wonderful new book on parenting is Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel & Mary Hartzell.
Thanks for all the great info - especially on how to dispose of old medications - I've been worrying about that.

Posted by: linda rogers | April 8, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Confused: You said slacker parents, not abusive/addicted/absent parents. Clearly you can't be a good parent if you're really messed-up yourself.

My point is that it's easy to be smug and label other people as bad parents, especially if you are white, well-educcated,affluent -- or all three. We point fingers and make judgemnets all day: she feeds her kids junk, they let their kids carry cell phones, why are they home schooling when they're just country people, who told her she should have so many kids, they aren't involved enough with the community, they own three cars but they can't tithe, where's the father?

When I grew up the measure of a good mother was her spotless house, her clean and well-behaved children and the paycheck she was married to. There's more to it than that, and most of us parent the best we can with what we have. That's all -- a good heart and a little effort goes far.

Posted by: Yo'mama | April 8, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Enjoyed the column, and am enjoying the commentary. For me, one huge thing change that comes from becoming a parent (I have two kids): I really appreciate my own parents a lot more now.

I remember how much I hated it when they'd say: "Someday, when you're a parent, you'll finally understand"?

As a kid, and even as an adult, I focused a lot on all the things I perceived them as having failed to do perfectly (and sometimes used what I perceived as their failings as excuses for my own failings).

And of course, I took for granted everything they did right -- feeding and clothing us, and giving us music lessons, and everything, all while working day jobs, and night jobs, and going to college to earn degrees in their spare time, and saving and saving so we could go to college without having to work our way through it like they had. And oh by the way did I mention they were immigrants, so English was a second (and in my mother's case, third) language for them, and that their own parents were actually entire continents away?

Yet, even though I have it so much easier as a parent than they ever did, they still have the kindness to tell me I'm a good mom -- even though I'm really just barely a good enough mom on most days.

So I think being a parent has taught me some humility; has taught me to finally cut my parents some slack; has taught me to be thankful for everything they did, and to truly recognize that they did the best they could for us.

I can only hope my own kids will someday understand. Probably after they become parents.

Posted by: rumipumi | April 8, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

And for me, I don't understand much of what my parents did. Why my mom married my dad in the first place. Why she had not one, not two, but three children with him. Why she stayed with him so long.

How it isn't fair that I can't talk with her about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Rumi, you've got me crying again -- full circle. I know from first hand experience what an amazing mother you are... but I will agree wholeheartedly that parenthood=humility. And anon, I suppose we can't try to figure out our parents' deal, just try to be clearheaded about our own reasons for doing what we do as parents.

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

One of the greatest joys in my life is seeing what an extraordinarily wonderful job our children and their spouses are doing raising our grandchildren! It is amazing and humbling - and marvelous!
What an honor to have these young folk and their children in our family!
This is a great blog, Jessica!
April 18, 2008

Posted by: AnnTrevelyan | April 18, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company