When To Have Children?

Yesterday was my 35th birthday and I celebrated with family and friends by attending a (Spanish-language) book club — we read La isla bajo el mar about slavery in the Dominican Republic by Isabel Allende — and three back-to-back get-togethers. There was a steady stream of well-wishes, flowers, gifts and a lot of love. Then I got home and there were similar messages on Facebook. Thank you all!

That said, I am woefully behind on my e-mails and news reading. I did catch this interesting thread in Carolyn Hax’s column about deciding the “best time” to have children.

GRASS IS GREENER
Dear Carolyn, can you offer any insight into a dilemma my husband and I are having? We are 27 and 28 and have been married for 2.5 wonderful years. We’re financially stable and we own a home. We want children and are starting to feel real baby pangs. But whenever we talk to a couple who had kids young, they all urge us to wait. We’d be the only ones among our friends (who are mostly still single, some newlyweds but years away from kids) with the responsibility of a baby. They say we should enjoy spoiling ourselves and each other for a little while longer, and that they wish they had waited longer. BUT, we have also talked to several older couples who waited longer to have children, doing so in their mid-to-late-30s. One is my husband’s sister, who unequivocally says if she had it to do again, she would have started a decade earlier. We have seen heartbreaking fertility struggles and serial miscarriages, and I have a coworker who at age 42 just took several days of personal vacation to work on coming to terms with the fact that she will never be a mom. We are sure we want kids, but it’s starting to seem like no matter WHEN we do it, we’ll have regrets either way. Can you help shed light on this? Thanks!

CAROLYN HAX:
There will always be something you wish you had known or done. If you base your decisions on what others say, you will open yourself to even deeper regrets than if you base your decisions on what you know about yourself.

For example, some people who are the first among their friends to have kids pine for the freedom their friends still have, but others are more than ready to stop “spoiling” themselves and want no other life than the one they share with their kids. Which one are you?

Listen to your friends, by all means, but not to the conclusions they’ve drawn; those are about them.

Instead, listen to the reasons they came to these conclusions, and use them to inform your decisions. Just drawing from your examples, there’s the issue of getting your sillies and self-indulgence out of your system before throwing your needs in the backseat for 18-plus years, and there’s the issue of not waiting so long that your fertility drops off a cliff. There are also the issues of your energy level, your financial security, the ages you’ll be when your kids become adults, etc.

I got a chuckle reading the letter writer’s “booze” line because just this past weekend I was at a couple dinner parties in which there was plenty of drinking among parents while the kids played in the backyard. The difference between now and then? We called it a night at 10 p.m. and that’s fine by me. :)

Ultimately, I don’t think there is a magical age — and as one letter-writer pointed out, the 42-year-old could still become a mother even if not biologically. The bottom line is that raising children is expensive and time-consuming. When would you like to fit it in? It really is up to you.

When did you know it was the “right time” to have children?

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Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

And I am loveloveloving my kiddos. Yesterday was one of those rare says where they were both well-behaved, calm, cuddly and so darn cute. It was a pinch-myself kind of day. And believe me, when you have a high-maintenance toddler who loves to screech and hit, and a 6-year-old who is quickly morphing into a tween, those days are rare :-)

So I thought I would invite y’all to share things your kids do that make you smile. My DD, who used to call Old Navy “Old Maybe” (“I know why they call it that, Mami! Because maybe I want to buy this shirt… and maybe I don’t.”) still comes up with the cutest verbal hiccups.

Like calling an enemy and “emeny.” And saying that New York is “Yoo Nork.”

DS, meanwhile, has mastered the art of spilling things with purposeful glee, then opening his eyes wide and exclaiming, “OH NO!” with absolute conviction.

Cuteness is Darwinian, amirite?

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!

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Things We Do For Our Kids

Happy Thursday everyone!

Before you had kids, were there things you NEVER imagined yourself doing? Take a look at the picture on the right. Yup– yesterday we waited nearly 90 minutes in line at Disneyland.

Was it to ride the park’s most popular attraction? No. Were they giving away something really cool? Not even close.

The big prize at the end of the line was a photo opportunity with Rapunzel, my daughter’s favorite princess du jour.

Maya’s Spring Break is coming to an end so we arranged for my aunt to watch Alex so we could have a “big kid day” at Disneyland. The weather was perfect, the crowds were sparse, and we enjoyed several rides with minimal wait times. I even talked Maya into watching the Captain EO tribute, and it seems I’ve got a little Michael Jackson fan in the making!

But the final thing Maya wanted to do before we left was meet Rapunzel. She was dressed in her Rapunzel gown and has spent many an hour drawing scenes from the movie and reciting lines. She dances to the soundtrack in her bedroom and loves to pretend with her Rapunzel doll.

Still, that is the longest line I have ever waited in. Seriously. The whole time I kept asking my husband… WHAT could possibly be taking so long? Is Rapunzel sharing a cup of tea with every little girl that goes in there?

But at the end of the day, what wouldn’t I do to see this look of utter happiness on my little girl’s face?

And BONUS! Flynn even gave us his famous “smolder.” :-)

What are some of the wacky things you have endured for your kids? Where do you draw the line?

This is an open thread of course, so chat away!

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DS’s job

DS11 has a job – a neighbor pays him to keep an eye on her house, bring in her mail, and  keep flyers off of her front stoop (a big prob in NYC).  She and her husband are at the house he lived in before they got married 60-70% of the time, and only near us the other 30% or so.  She overpays DS for this IMHO, but they negotiated and she’s fine with it because it gives her peace of mind.

He doesn’t love it.  He does it, but needs reminders many days to do it.  Part of his hestiation is going into an empty house – which I get – especially becasue they leave a radio on when they’re not home.  Part of his hesitation is, even if it’s easy, something you HAVE to do is never as much fun as something you CHOOSE to do.

Right now he is saving money for a laptop.  He’s calculated that by the end of May (“end of June at the latest,Mom”) he will have what he needs to buy the computer that he wants.

So – i’m afraid he’ll just decide to drop the job.   He’s a logical guy – laptop wanted, laptop earned, done.   My concern is two-fold – the neighbor needs him to do this job and I want him to stick with it.  She will not want him to quit and could be sorta whiny/nasty about it.  But also, shouldn’t he learn to stick with it, to set another earning goal, to honor a commitment?

I’m anticpating having this discussion with him in about a month when he hits his first goal, so I’ve started wtih “and after you get your laptop, you can think of what else you want to save for….software, other gadgets, gifts for your mom?”

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Tuesday Open Thread- Kid Travel Edition


Happy Tuesday everyone!

Let’s talk travel– kids and travel, that is.

Budget Travel came up with a list of 15 places kids should see by the time they’re 15 years old. The list, which features places like the Grand Canyon, Ellis Island and Redwood National Park, is cool because it includes specific kid-friendly activities at each site.

Maya has visited 3 of the sites so far, and while she hasn’t visited Walt Disney World, she has grown up at Disneyland so I say that counts as #4 :-) Of course, this list assumes that a family can afford to travel all over the country by the time the kids turn 15, but I digress…

I look forward to taking my kids to Ellis Island and Independence Hall some day, but I think waiting until they are teens is the way to go.

What about you? Have your kids visited any of these places, and which ones would you like to see with them some day?

What else is on your mind today? Chat away!

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Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

Let’s talk allowances.

Do your kids receive an allowance? Why or why not? If they do, how much?

Maya was recently watching an episode of Spongebob (I can’t help it, I love watching it with her!) when she came across a commercial for a toy that she NEEDED to have. “Let’s go buy it,” she said matter-of-factly. “Who will pay for it?” I asked sweetly. “You will,” she said. “Let’s just go to the bank.”

WRONG!

“Let’s count the money in your piggy bank,” I suggested, so off she went to collect it.

She had $20 and change. I looked up the item, which was $34.99, and explained she didn’t quite have enough yet. Tears formed in her eyes as she whimpered, “But I want it right now!”

You know what came next: the big talk about where money comes from, what things cost, and how sometimes we have to save up our money before we get something we really want. I offered to give her little “jobs” around the house in exchange for a couple of bucks here and there, and wouldn’t you know she is now the most enthusiastic employee you ever met.

“I want to help you wash the dishes tonight!” she chirped.

DH even offered her $2 to try eating spinach… and she did. Then admitted it wasn’t half bad.

We’ll see if the enthusiasm lasts beyond earning enough for her toy. While cleaning up her room, doing her homework and helping with her little brother are part and parcel of being in a family, I don’t mind paying her a few bucks here and there to teach her that the things she wants don’t magically appear.

How have you taught your children the value of money? Any tips or anecdotes to share?

Here’s a segment from the Today show where a money expert says you should be totally open with your kids, even if you’re having money troubles. I don’t quite know if I agree with that; while I think “We can’t afford that” is perfectly reasonable, I dont think we should burden kids with too much information that could lead to feelings of fear and insecurity. What say you?

What else is on your mind? Chat away!

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What’s So Great About You?

Sue in Queens’ diary that invited us American slacker moms to toot our kids’ horns was a fun, inspiring read. Vegas expressed an interest in having some more good times. So how about we talk about the positive things about ourselves?


I’ve always heard that one big difference between men and women in business is men are never afraid to take credit and boast about their accomplishments, whereas women tend to stay quiet to avoid “bragging” or want to share the accolades. I don’t know how true this is, being as I haven’t worked in almost five years. But I’d be willing to bet that all of you were fantastic kids who grew into the amazing women you are, and I’d like to hear about it.

So why don’t we look back on ourselves as children and talk about the great qualities we had, and how they’ve followed us into adulthood. Or just tell us how great you are in general. Or tell us what your family appreciates about you (even if they are just a little slow in expressing it sometimes). I want to hear some loud horn-tooting, ladies!

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My “Mamma Bear” moment

Yesterday we went to get the shirts we need for the uniform for DS’s new  school.  I volunteered to help sell the shirts – figuring it’s a good way to get known in the school and to hear what’s going on.

Of course, everyone wanted the ear of the co-Principal, and he patiently listened to everyone!

One guy triggered such an emotional reaction in me!

The topic……..baseball.

Ugh


In full disclosure, I am not a huge sports fan. I watch some sports, and follow the Mets because ya sorta have to, but all the way through school I resented the hyper-attention that the jocks got.

And, I am the  mom of a boy who is not an athlete.  Poor guy,  he inherited more from my side of the family than our good looks (LOL).  He’s got my father’s klutzy frame and my poor coordination.

In our neighborhood the Fall Soccer and Spring Little League are a big deal.   DS11 was happy this year to be a fan and on-looker, but that doesn’t help him feel more competent or get him active and fit.

Yesterday, a father was talking to the Principal about “are we going to have a baseball team?’ and “which league?” etc etc etc

UGH

Can’t we have just one part of life where the most coordinated jocks aren’t worshipped??

So, I approached the Principal and said “can I just make a case for not-just-baseball?” and he said “oh we’ll have soccer too”- sorta missing my point.  So I made a case for active activities that are  not team sports- eventually I think he got what I was talking about.   DS says I came on a little strong. Actually he said “I understnd you, Mom.  When you feel strongly,  you get a little intense.  There’s a tone that ohter people might not get”

eergh – did not want to start off at this school as “that mom”, but even more do not want my smart, sweet, active but uncoordinated boy to start of a 7-year school experience as the kid who made the baseball team lose.

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God Help Us All.

Yes.  Imagine that.  Me, the Deist, calling for divine intervention.  All right.  I’ll accept the next best thing…help from all my wonderful friends here.


See, I just had a bombshell dropped right onto me. You all are most likely aware of my ongoing turmoil with my son’s not-always-so-bright crazy-right-wing girlfriend.  Well.  Well. Well.  They came into my room just a little while ago to tell me that her parents kicked her out.  And, of course, to ask if it would be all right if she stayed here for awhile because she has no where else to go.  

What could I say?  Really?  I am a bleeding heart liberal after all.  It’s raining and thundering out here, for crying out loud…I wouldn’t even send someone’s dog outside.  So, I said she could stay.  Told my son that she was not staying in his room, though.  My youngest daughter is in the process of changing rooms.  Her current room is in the basement, so I’m thinking that’s the best place for the girlfriend.  

I’ve not even had time to talk this over with my husband, any of my other kids, or anyone else, for that matter.  I’m just kind of reeling.   I’m well aware of the pitfalls, and I’ll admit, I’m a little resentful of being placed in this situation, but what choice do I have?

I’m not sure what I’m asking from you all.  Just needed somewhere, right now, where I could sort of collect my thoughts.  

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Caillou

Ok, this is a brief and possibly pointless diary, but I have to know if I might be on to something or if I am just the last one to know.  I have long (like for over ten years) heard parents complain about Caillou (the PBS cartoon character).  That he whines.  That he’s naughty.  That he never listens to his parents.  That he always gets his way, etc.  But he’s never bothered me and his show can buy me 25 minutes of peace, so I’ve welcomed him into our homes.  Plus, the theme song is catchy.  But after ten years and 4 kids, I think I finally get it.  This show isn’t really for the kids.  


I have come to the shocking conclusion that Caillou is ultimately written for parents!  It didn’t hit me until after I read Alfie Kohn’s book, Unconditional Parenting, that Caillou’s parents ARE unconditional parents extraordinaire (easy to pull off in cartoon-land, a trickier feat in real life).  I have been questioning my behaviorist leanings (behaviorism seemed to be an organic developmental process that grew like a weed the more we added on to the family) for some time, so watching the show one day, I realized… Caillou never gets time outs, consequences, nor sent to his room, nor grounded.  His parents celebrate his ideas, are endlessly patient and kind and good natured, and validate every single feeling Caillou has. I suddenly don’t think this show was designed for kids… they already know how to whine without needing role models.  I think it was designed to show us how to parent.

And even if I agreed completely with the way they parent in cartoonland, with the same clothes worn every day and patience a million miles long, I would still resent the subliminal message it’s promoting.  Or maybe it’s not so subliminal.  Maybe everyone already knew that Caillou was like a PBS parenting course you could watch with your kids?  Did you all already know? If you knew, why didn’t you tell me? ;) I would’ve changed the channel and let them watch Spongebob.  I’m sure it’s not the first time, I know lots of shows give us models of how to live our lives, but seeing this show with new eyes, it suddenly seems like they’re beating me over the head with it.  Yet it took me ten years to figure out… I can be dense that way.

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