Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Competitive Child Rearing as a Sport - How to keep it a Spectator Sport.

It starts when you find out you are having a baby - at least for many first time moms, there is so much information available at the tips of your fingers, what stroller to buy, whether or not to co-sleep, homebirths, vaccinations, the perfect Pottery Barn crib and bedding.
There are also opinions. On one hand, having so much information is a huge benefit, and it certainly seems that today's parents are more well informed than ever before. The difference today is that everywhere you go, parenting seems to have become a sport, a barrage of "little Johnny is speaking 7 languages and he is only 2", or "my nursery cost us 20,000 and we brought in a designer from Italy". It is all too easy to get sucked into this world or at least the idea of it, since as parents we all want the best for our kids.
When I was pregnant, I bought into some of this, thankfully not all of it. Nevertheless, when my son was born, he and I lined up, with him strapped into his Maclaren stroller, ready at the starting line to engage our competitors. And you know what? It never happened.
You see, competitive child rearing is only a sport if you choose to play and if you surround yourself with others already in the competition. You have to engage it, you have to choose to participate. I chose not to, which is not to say that I don't observe other parents or children who are similar in age, or wonder if my son is as socially adept as others, etc. What I am saying is that one day, if the neighbor throws one of those seemingly ever popular birthday parties for a one year old with 20 live giraffes and a 3,000 square foot bouncy house, I'm not going to try to match it. I don't care. Nor will I worry that I am scarring my child for life by not providing the same fanfare. Treat those parties like a trip to the zoo or a carnival. Your child wouldn't expect to bring the zoo or carnival home, so use that as reasoning why he or she isn't going to have the performers from Cirque du Soleil give a private performance at his or her party.
If you are engaged in such a battle with other competitive parents, try not to complain or feel inadequate, just change your mindset to enjoying the sport from the bleachers. If we engage such behavior, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

The time is upon us - the time of year when we sit down and make unrealistic goals for the New Year. We cavalierly set our timers for January first, somehow believing that if we make something a resolution, we will now accomplish it. Of course, if the goal had been that important to us in the first place, we would have done it a long time ago. Somehow, the idea of beginning a transformation is easier to swallow if we wrap it up with the new year.
I have never been big on New Years resolutions, given that I know myself and my penchant for not only procrastination but laziness. Last year, however, I did make a resolution. It was to be a better communicator. I wanted to be better at staying in touch with the people I loved, which has long been a problem for me. I accomplished this task, but truth be told, it was because I finally gave in and got a Facebook account, which takes the work out of it.

Having such success has inspired me to once again make a resolution, but where do I start? There are so many things I want to change, want to do, want to stop doing. To say the choices are overwhelming would be an understatement.
Thus I have decided to begin with a 30 day project, rather than fool myself into thinking I can maintain a total personality makeover for an entire year.
The 30 day project will include the following:
Doing the workout "30 day shred" - I started this before, but quit after 10 days for reasons unknown to me
I will also re-start the Flylady's 30 days of babysteps. Again. If you aren't familiar with Flylady, I highly suggest you check her out, that is if you are like me and have problems with organization and perfectionism.

That is it. Maybe if I can accomplish those two goals for 30 days, I can move on to the rest of the things I would like to fix in 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thank you cards and Miss Manners

I should tell you that I love Miss Manners - LOVE her. For leisure, I snuggle in with my mother's old copy of her "Guide to Rearing Perfect Children". I am not kidding. Those who know me will find this surprising, since I seem to focus more attention on the art of being blunt than the art of proper manners. But I digress. I understand the point of thank you cards, and I wish more people did. I, for one, spend countless hours designing perfect thank you cards, carefully cutting out the tiniest details with my Cricut, using every scrapbook embellishment I have to make the most exceptional card one could ever receive. Which is nice, since they will never receive them. You see, I never actually send them out. I spend all year planning out the perfect Christmas thank you cards, imagining the glittering snowflake scenes and embossed gold lettering, always with the intention of sending them out promptly after the holidays. This has not happened once.
Sometimes, I wonder if sending thank-you's for Christmas is appropriate or neccesary. I have been informed by my family that indeed it is. I come from a long line of prompt thank you sender-outers, which further cements my place as the black sheep.
So this year it will happen. They may be generic, rather than hand pieced works of art, but they will be sent out. So what are we up to now? Bathing, putting on nice clothes, and sending out thank you's.
Well, it's a start. Although I should mention that it is the 16th of December and I have yet to begin on my Christmas cards, so chances are the Christmas cards and Thank- You's will go out in the same mailing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So, Which Desperate Housewife are You?

I recently started watching Desperate Housewives, being behind the times as I am, and I wonder this often. Aside from the murders, sudden deaths, criminals, etc. it is somewhat accurate. I find that I strive to be Bree (minus the drama), but usually ending up feeling like Susan, or worse yet, Lynette. I don't think anyone wants to be Lynette. So which are you, and who would you rather be?

Housedresses and Aprons

Where did they go? The easy answer is "If I'm not going anywhere, why would I bother to get dressed and look nice?" Before I had my son, I envisioned myself as a put together mom, wearing a pretty dress with a matching apron and daintily cleaning my house. A few weeks into being a mom, covered in spit-up having not showered in days, my fantasy changed to the brutal reality of being a new mom. Yet I never gave up the dream. Has it become a reality? No.
So what happened to dressing nicely while at home? So few mothers seem to take the time, including myself. When my husband and I were dating, I always made sure I looked my best for him. I no longer do that, and I have to wonder what changed. He still deserves to have a partner who cares enough about him to put on a nice outfit and some makeup. Yet I don't do it for him.
If our husbands drastically changed after we had kids, gaining weight, never dressing appropriately, etc., we would say something. Yet many of us do not put forth the effort to impress them.
"Impress your husband?" you ask? Yes. Impress them. If the first thought that pops into your mind while reading "impress your husband" is disdain and an idea that I have lost my mind, after all, wives are not jesters hired to prance around pleasing our mates, than perhaps you should re-think marriage.
Wouldn't any wife be pleased if her husband tried to impress her? Should we not do the same for them? By all means, if you never want your husband to impress you, don't bother trying to impress him.
I do want my husband to impress me, perhaps it is time I put more effort into impressing him. If he was good enough for me to court and put on makeup for, do my hair, and put on a cute outfit while we were dating, why would that change now?
So I will begin trying tonight. Laziness is the only thing that has kept me from doing it before. I can make up excuses, but the truth is that I can shower before my son goes to bed, do my hair before he wakes up (he is a late sleeper), and throw on some makeup.
I can listen to flylady and lay out my clothes before bed. None of this will disrupt my day, I have just chosen not to do it, so that I can play martyr "I haven't bathed today - don't you feel sorry for me?" Chances are, my husband doesn't feel sorry for me, he wonders why I didn't just get up five minutes earlier to knock it out. Not that he would ever say that, and from now on, he won't have to.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wow, that was a lengthy tantrum!

Such is life with an almost three year old, I suppose. It only took a month to get back here. I suppose I should explain my purpose here, as I join the masses of bloggers who have something to say as well as the assumption that someone out there cares to listen. For those wondering what The Lost Housewife title is in reference to, I should explain the reasoning and duality of it. I am a stay at home mom, although I prefer the term housewife. I long for the days where making a home was an art, an appreciated and expected role. This is not to imply that staying at home is for everyone; however, for those of us who do, I would like to get back to a place where it was a respected occupation, and an undertaking that one should not enter into lightly. There is something that gets taken away with the phrase "I just stay home". Making a home is a huge responsibility. I have more to say on this subject, but that would lead to a lengthy post as well as possible blindness on the part of the reader, so I will save my rantings for later.
The second part of the meaning of the title is that I am just that - A lost housewife. Lost amongst the clutter of laundry, unshaved legs and torn jeans rather than a housedress and apron, a child who screams as if he is being kidnapped during any outing to Target, and a pile of dishes in the sink that may or may not be done before a (late) dinner is on the table.
The only thing I do have is hope and a desire to be a true homemaker, and I will begin the journey of trying to figure out how to live up to the name.
After all, when the stresses of work are too much to bear, when the outside world is dirty and sometimes depressing, we come home. Home is our safe haven. I can think of no job so important than to make a home, and to be proud of making it well.