Category Archives: motherhood

Strength vs. Guilt – Battle of the Fourth Trimester

I have a friend who just had a baby and is adapting to her new role as Lord Ruler of All Things Baby-Related. The boundaries she sets for visitors, for instance, are clear.  If you want to interact with her baby, you must be a close family member, your hands need to be washed, and you need to have received a pertussis vaccine. It’s her home, her baby, her rules. She is finding herself surprised at the strength of her desire to protect her family bubble for the first few months. Equally surprising is her guilt for wanting people to stay away unless they are fully on board with her style of parenting. It’s the classic inner battle for women: strength vs. guilt.

When I gave birth to my oldest, it was a surprise to find that I had a Mama Bear instinct. I was floored at how strong it was. I felt, for the first time in my life, that my own intuition and feelings about what I wanted for my family trumped what other people might feel or think about my choices. The most important views about what was best for my baby belonged to me and my husband. I had never felt that important before. Hello, power.

Photo by Lea Wolf

Lea Wolf, my doula for my that birth, was essential in helping me understand that the first few weeks after birth are yours, your baby’s, and your partners. They belong to no one else and no one else can claim them, though they may try to. I understood this rationally, but not emotionally, with my first and made some mistakes in not creating a month-long safe space to honor that fourth trimester bond, find a rhythm, and heal from the birth.

It can be hard and foreign to explain our instincts to others in the face of their sometimes different expectations.   We need to start with our instinct as the starting point and create space for it. If we can find the strength to create that space, we are rewarded in so many ways. Because as we maintain our truth, it grows bigger and stronger. Crucial!

Your inner, intuitive voice may ring so loudly and strongly after baby is born, it may take your breath away in how certain and solid it feels.  Following that inner voice is the most blessed actualization of mother’s intuition.  It is as real and valid as your five senses, developed over generations of our ancestors fine tuning their ability to love, guide and protect their children and themselves.

So when an un-nurturing neighbor knocks on the door two days postpartum and wants to see baby, and you hear that inner voice saying “No.” — that “no” is there for a reason. So that the word can find your lips: “No.” It’s not right for you.

Social expectations can push up against this instinct and try and sway you toward a “yes.” You might think “It isn’t polite” or “I want to be nice” or “I don’t want them to think I don’t appreciate them.”  Part of listening to yourself is knowing that when you choose what’s right for you, it is quite likely that you will not please everyone all the time. And as far as I can tell, not pleasing everyone all the time, staying true to yourself, and accepting yourself for it…. is just the beginning of motherhood.

You are doing a great job.

 

From time to time, I listen to a meditation cd from a local energy healer, Mary Preuss Olson at Magnificent Living Institute.  It’s great for centering, collecting all bits of my thoughts and energy back to where they belong, clearing away what I don’t want, and enhancing my state of being. It feels good to this- I like the whole meditation. But my favorite part of the entire cd is where she says,

You are doing a great job.

It melts into my bones when I hear it.

You are doing a great job.

I know that she means it and I know I deserve to hear it. And so do you. Because it’s true. This is a phrase that mothers (ok, and everyone) need to hear and, most importantly, believe. Knowing this statement to be true calms every fiber in our energy field, especially when we are in a place of really being able to absorb its meaning.

I try not to argue with it, try to burn through the shadowy mental response of “But….” But I didn’t get the dishes put away. But we don’t make enough money. But my kids has peanut butter in his hair. But I don’t make freezer meals. But I never went to grad school. No buts, no coconuts.

You are doing a great job.

You might not hear these words from your kids. They might not know you want to hear it. It’s ok to tell them that it sounds good to your ears, and that you like hearing it. You might not hear it from your partner either, unless you tell them it will make a difference in your life if they say it every now and again (and only when they really mean it.) What matters most is not who says it to you, but that you feel that it’s true in your bones.

You are doing a great job.

It’s true. Know it. Say it to yourself, especially when the wheels have fallen off the bus. There will always be unanswered questions and uncertain choices. There will always be more on the to-do list. Maybe it’s not actually your job to answer every question and be certain about everything. Maybe it’s ok to not know.  What preschool is the best. What size your kids will be in next fall. What toy they’ll take to. Maybe it’s ok not to be certain. I’m not sure if this music class will be worth it. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to pay off our debt this year. This car seat we bought might not be the best choice.  I don’t know.  I don’t know. And not knowing is totally ok. What a relief.

You are doing a great job.

I’m saying this to you now and I mean it. If you are keeping up with things and sometimes not keeping up, if you’re self-loving enough to take a moment to yourself to read a mom-blog, if you keep your kids breathing and fed, if you know how to cook a hot dog, if you notice things your kids might like, if you manage to shower when you need to and maybe even find time to shave your armpits, if you think about things like whether cloth diapers or disposables are more responsible, if you read to your kids, if you kiss them on the forehead before they go to sleep….

You are doing a great job.

(If this is not your child, you are doing a great job.)

 

Grocery Shopping with a Toddler and Preschooler

It started with pee and ended with screaming. In between there were samples of veggie chips, taquitos, and “granola bars” that were one layer of caramel away from being a Snickers. Also, a very convincing demonstration of a space-age blender by a man with a performance headset mic like Beyonce wears. (I’m pretty sure you could put some dandelions, a deck of cards, and a popsicle into that Blender and you’d somehow end up with a green smoothie.) There were also not one, but two trips through the understaffed checkout lines. And there were birds- including a red-tailed hawk- flying overhead. I’m talking about our trip to Costco today, of course.

 

grocery3

This photo from Tom on flickr. See more like this at RoadsideArchitecture.com

 

Now that my kids are 4 and 1 1/2, the mental preparation that needs to happen in order for me to take both of them grocery shopping is equivalent to whatever prep Serena does before Wimbledon. Serious focus is needed. I should have a shopping coach, really, and get a trophy every time I make it back to the car with both my kids AND our food. Really I’m lucky if I make it through half my list.

Most trips start out smooth in the beginning. We are excited about the carts. We talk about our list. We love being in America where every time you visit a grocery store there is a new type of cracker you have never heard of before, made with things that normally don’t go into crackers – like kale or lentils.*

Today was Advanced Grocery Shopping because it was at Costco – where the enticement for my 4 year old, Braden, to run out of sight are tripled (ice cream samples! cool toy aisle! massage chair!)  but I was prepared for the risk.

As soon as we had our cart and were focused into shopping mode, (already had a lifejacket and beach towel in it) the inevitable statement, “I need to go potty” comes from my four year old.

You can’t take items past the checkout at Costco unless they’re paid for. Now comes the philosophical question of our generation. Do you want to take your cart to the bathroom for the benefit of having your toddler strapped in, but go through the trouble of emptying the cart?  Or do you want to take your toddler out of the cart and try to contain him in the stall for who knows how long?  I opted to dump the beach towel and life jacket and go for the strapped-in toddler benefit. Smart choice- and we were back out shopping in no time, until I noticed Braden picking at his pants. Turns out his pants and underwear were sopping wet because his pee had sprayed all over them instead of into the toilet.  A rookie would have just gone home. But I was not going to abandon this shopping trip for a change of clothes, and thankfully we were at Costco where you can buy a replacement for virtually anything that gets broken, lost, or peed on during your shopping experience.  So we threw a pair of pajamas into our cart, waited in a line that moved So Slowly, bought them, returned to the bathroom again, changed his pants, threw the pee-soaked clothes into the cart and got things underway again.

Already, I deserve a medal for this shopping trip and we haven’t even bought food yet.

By the time we actually start shopping for real, it’s been 20 minutes since we walked through the front door. This is already too long of a shopping trip for my kids.

On most trips to a normal grocery store, 20 minutes is when things start to break down. Today was no exception. My 18 month old, Wyatt, wants to eat everything I put in the cart and tells me this by shrieking and pointing. He can’t look at food without wanting to eat it. So I end up opening packages as we shop to keep him quiet so I can stay focused on our list. Gatorade- yes, Wyatt-here, take it. Goldfish crackers- yes, Wyatt- here, eat them.

Braden then gets tired of sitting in the cart and getting swatted & elbowed by his brother. He wants to “walk” next to the cart and “help” me shop.  If I let him walk next to the cart, he keeps his normal pace which is a slow sprint. Will I have to jog with the cart to try and keep up?  Will I lose him around a corner and find him carrying 3 mammoth peanut butter tubs in his hands?  Who knows?  If his listening ears aren’t on, it’s over. Store lock-down, my kid is fast and doesn’t care how far away he gets from me. He wants to help and I want to let him, but sometimes his help involves adding things to our cart that we would never eat in a million years-beets, orange sodas from Mexico, prune juice- anything from the bottom shelves is eligible.

Around this same time, Wyatt has turned completely around in his seat and is reaching for the foods I have intentionally placed away from him. (Once, I walked away from the cart to grab something and when I stepped back to it he had 2 eggs in his hands that he was starting to lick.)

When things get squirrely like this, I then have exactly 5 minutes to get out of the store before the wheels fall off the bus.  Game on. I race to try and get the last few things on our list like I am in a shopping game show, then panic and start grabbing random things off the shelves on the way to the checkout. If I did have a shopping coach, she’d be running next to me shouting, “Leave it! Just leave the guacamole! Go for the bacon! The bacon!”

When we make it to the checkout line, the lines make me cry. Why are there 17 registers and only 3 cashiers?! Why?! I open at least two more packages for my 18 month old. Yes, pretzels and applesauce pouch- here you go. We inch our way toward the register.  Up to this point, I have managed to hide the berries from him, which is essential. His passion for berries is unquenchable. But when we get to the register, as soon as I grab the blueberries from the cart to place on the moving belt, he spots them- and the shrieking begins. Shoppers at the far corner of the store look up and wonder if there is an orangutan loose by the registers. The cashier avoids eye contact and scans things as quickly as she can. Customers that, two seconds ago, were smiling at my kids and making googly eyes now shrink back in horror. “That woman’s cart smells like pee, her kid is wearing pajamas for some reason, she’s opened every package before she bought it, and her baby is louder than a bullhorn and covered in blueberries.” If I don’t start feeding Wyatt blueberries, the shrieking will just grow louder and louder until all our brains explode and our ear drums burst.

Once he sees the blueberries, he can’t not have a blueberry in both of his hands and his mouth. What he really wants is to hold the blueberry container and either push his mouth into the container or grab fistfuls at a time. But then even the gigantic Costco size tub would be gone before we get through the checkout and nobody wants that.

Finally we make it through the checkout leaving a trail of blueberries on the cement. Braden is squishing them unknowingly as he jogs back and forth, asking for a “sugar stick,” his word for churro.  (Um, no.)  The cashier is asking me something. Yes, I want that shit boxed. Do not spend one second telling me about the premium membership. My kids’ brains are melting into a pile of goo!

We push out into the fresh air, finally, feeding Wyatt blueberries the entire way. Braden is crying because I didn’t buy him a churro…But by God, we made it- and with almost half our list.

I am a great fucking mom.

 

lyd011-lydias-organics-green-crackers_1

Ingredients: Sprouted sunflower seeds* collards* carrots* celery* Kale* spinach* zucchini* arugula* radicchio* lettuce* Parsley* basil* tomatoes* sprouted flax* onion* garlic* original Himalayan crystal salt & ♥.*Organic

*

 

 

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 2

Continued from Part 1  (yesterday’s post)

Ok- this is embarrassing- but it was ridiculous how attractive I thought I’d look in skinny jeans.  Those skinny jeans models and celebrities look so good in skinny jeans!  When I saw the jeans on the hanger, in my mind I saw those women, wearing their skinny jeans like they do.  In the dressing room, as I was pulling on said skinny jeans, I looked super awesome from the knees down.  I was thinking “Hotblooded, check it and see! These skinny jeans are going to make me look skinny!”  But as I kept pulling, tugging, yanking upward it became evident that my postpartum body is in no mood for skinny jeans.  The tops of my legs looked like water balloons packed neatly into a nylon stocking.  The Foreigner song in my head scratched abruptly off and I got angry.  Skinny jeans? What is this concept anyways?  Only skinny people look good in them. Back to the curvy fit boot cut.  Only two sizes bigger than I was three years ago.

There’s a little culture shock from the blessed body acceptance during pregnancy where no matter how much weight you put on, it’s beautiful.  Endearing.  Sexy. My butt was three times its normal size with my last pregnancy and I regularly heard how beautiful I looked.  Size did not matter.  Being big symbolized and embodied life, renewal, and miracles.  But now, postpartum, I feel a pressure to get skinny fast. (And, by the way, how long can I keep saying that I’m postpartum as an excuse?  I’m 24 months postpartum doesn’t seem acceptable.)

Every time I look in the mirror, I hear my thoughts echoing ridiculous cultural expectations: “I could stand to lose that back fat.  It should only be a few more months before I can wear my old jeans.”  When I hear myself judging, I have to stop myself: “What the hell? Have I learned nothing from the monumental experience of birthing a child?  Am I really going back to the mindset I learned in adolescence that women need to be thin like Barbie?  Bah.”  That mindset did some major damage to me, not to mention the millions of other girls who struggle with body image.

Today I will pull on my yoga pants and t-shirt and wear them proudly.  I have two gorgeous kids and an amazing husband who thinks I’m beautiful.  I’m a great mom. I’m gorgeous. (We all need to say this to ourselves.) Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Muffin top- gorgeous! Cellulite- gorgeous! Big ass- gorgeous! Double chin-gorgeous! If I am overweight 48 months postpartum, guess what I will be: GORGEOUS!

It is so important for me to love this body of mine: my soul’s only home for this lovely life I have.   It’s been said before, because it’s true: we must teach our kids to know that women love and respect their own bodies.  Because as my boys see me respecting my body as it changes, they will grow and become short, tall, big, or small- and hopefully see they must love and respect their own.

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 1

Looking fierce in skinny jeans.

Looking fierce in skinny jeans. Photo by Edward Liu.

My everyday clothing for the past six months has been exceptionally casual due to my expanding and contracting waistline, the general business of having a newborn, and the lack of time I have to spend on my appearance.  I mean, I care about how I look but not enough to be uncomfortable in any way.  I’m really one step away from pajamas most days.  So those of you in need of style guidelines from a woman six months postpartum of her 2nd child, here they are.

1. If my jeans are roomy enough that I can’t feel my muffin top with every move and flexible enough that I can pull them over my hips without unbuttoning them, these are jeans that are a “good fit.”

2. If said jeans are on and my maternity t-shirt does not have poop, urine, spitup or breast milk stains, this is called an “outfit.”

3. If I have not only shampooed but also conditioned my hair, this is called “primped.”

4. If my nursing bra does not smell like breast milk, this is called “lingerie” and is appropriate for a date night out.

I went shopping at Macy’s recently for jeans, as my pre-pregnancy jeans are too small and no longer fit me, and my maternity jeans are too big.  The experience was sobering.  It seems there’s a difference between checking myself out in a mirror from the waist up after putting on an “outfit” as I’m running to catch a screaming toddler and actually being alone, viewing myself in a full-length mirror in a well-lit dressing room.   Even though my maternity belly is no longer there, the rest of my body still looks pregnant.

I also found that my understanding of my own body was in a time warp.  I had selected some roomy looking size 10’s and some slimmer 12’s thinking, “These are cuuuute.  These will look great.”  Not so.  My mind had been fondly remembering the pre-baby butt, the pre-stretched belly.  It became crystal clear that my brain had some catching up to do.  Reality check: those 14’s are the only ones you will be able to pull over your widened hips.

Will she buy the 14’s? Will she run screaming from the dressing room? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow….

A Mother’s Rights

A Mother's Rights

Being in the midst of the first few years of motherhood has got me thinking about all the things I need but don’t ask for, ask for but don’t take, and take but feel guilty for taking. To help set my head straight, I came up with a Bill of Rights for mamas.  Things we need to pay attention to in order to preserve our mental, emotional and physical well-being.

A Mother’s Rights

1. You have the right to eight hours of sleep in a 24 hour time period.
2. You have the right to eat a meal start to finish while sitting down at the table at least once a day.
3. You have the right to wear clothes  that fit.
4. You have the right to revise your sex life as needed without pressure to meet a quota.
5. You have the right to shower or bathe every day.
6. You have the right to exercise every day.
7. You have the right to listen to music that you like.
8. You have the right to explore who you are now.
9. You have the right to not always be your best.
10. You have the right to make things easy on yourself when it comes to grocery shopping and meal planning.
11. You have the right to feel however you feel about whatever phase of parenting you are in.
12. You have the right to enlist help for everyday tasks.
13. You have the right to say no to invitations.
14.  You have the right to disagree with your friend’s parenting styles.
15. You have the right to change any or all of your priorities.

The Details….

1. You have the right to eight hours of sleep in a 24 hour time period.

Don’t think for one second that your partner somehow deserves more sleep than you do (stay-at-home moms, I’m looking at us.) Humans need sleep to function. In all likelihood, if you are a new mom or your toddler is a rough sleeper, you won’t be getting eight uninterrupted hours regularly for a while. But eight hours spread out over a full day and night can happen.  And I am here to remind you that it is your right to claim those hours – interrupted or not- without guilt, whenever you possibly can. Sleep is crucial. Divide nights up with a spouse, practice early bedtimes (for you, not just the kids.)  And of course, get your nap on. If you need a nap and can find a way to get one, do it. It’s your right.

2. You have the right to eat a meal start to finish while sitting down at the table at least once a day.

I say once a day because anything more than that is too lofty an ambition (for me, at least.) But like anyone else, you have a right to sit while you eat- start to finish. Usually this means planning and prepping – like cutting up baby-sized bites for little ones, setting water, napkins, and other necessities out- before your butt hits the chair.

3. You have the right to wear clothes  that fit.

After pregnancy, don’t expect your body to shrink from its expanded size and proportion back to the exact same size and shape it was before. It may not ever be the same, even if you lose all your baby weight (which you might not and that’s OK too.) Instead of trying to squeeze into your old jeans and feeling fat about it, or wearing postpartum pants a year after baby arrived and feeling un-sexy as hell, get thee to some sort of clothing store and buy some clothes that fit you now. And don’t forget the shoes. I outgrew most of my shoes after two pregnancies and thought I could just deal with it. Finally breaking down and admitting my gd shoes didn’t fit was a step toward mama-freedom. Mama needed a new pair of shoes, y’all and I had a right to fulfill that simple need. Just like you do.

4. You have the right to revise your sex life as needed without pressure to meet a quota.

Don’t even try and compare your sex life now to what it was before you had kids. If you wait six months, seven months, or a year after having a baby to have sex, it’s OK. If you used to have sex once a week before kids, and now it’s once a month or every other month or practically never, it’s OK. If you are up all night with your baby and would rather sleep than have sex, it’s OK.  Sheer lack of time and opportunity are huge variables. It doesn’t mean you aren’t sexy or your relationship with your spouse isn’t strong if you aren’t having regular sex. Becoming a parent changed your whole world, did you think it would change everything except your sex life? Nope, that changes too.

5. You have the right to shower or bathe every day.

Water is a great healer. It rejuvenates and replenishes on many levels. In ten minutes, you can wash off a stressful night or mentally prepare for a busy day. It is a safe place to just be with yourself.  Not to mention showering makes you smell good- always a bonus in a day filled with breastmilk, diapers and baby food.

6. You have the right to exercise every day.

Even a little bit- I’m talking 10 minutes of walking- either with or without a stroller or baby carrier can do wonders. Or taking a few minutes to stretch your legs up to the ceiling and do some abdominal twists before getting out of bed in the morning can really feel good.  Do not forget about this grand instrument that is your body. It is your right to work it out every day, even for a few minutes just to say hello.

7.  You have the right to listen music that you like.

Most toddler music sucks. True, there are some exceptions. But there is absolutely no reason why your little one can’t listen to the music you like starting at age 0. They’ll be better off for it. Music is so good for little ones and it’s good for mamas too.Music makes us happy.  And if mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.

8. You have the right to explore who you are now.

A few years of motherhood and your life is unrecognizable. Suddenly things got different. You’re nursing every two hours, driving a mini-van (which you swore you never would do), sharing your bed with three people (none of them is your partner and all of them are under age five) and shopping with the whole family in mind. Where are you in this picture? Your life is different, but are you?  Ten minutes of journaling or meditating can give you the chance to hear your voice again. Same goes for a night out with friends. Or even thumbing through a Pottery Barn catalog to ask yourself- “What do I like now? What’s my favorite color? What would I like to see on my walls?” You don’t have to actually buy anything, but you do have the right to carve out time to hear your voice, your interests, your breath, your rhythm.

9. You have the right to not always be your best.

Some days you dial it in and you have a right to. You do not have to be 100% every moment, every day. For one thing, your kids will learn that they can have off-days too. For another, you will suffer less by accepting your off-days as totally normal and acceptable. You don’t always have to do the full blown puppet show with five characters, costume changes and funny voices. Sometimes it’s OK to throw a read-along book into the cd player and go read a magazine while your kids listen.  Spending all your energy on your kids will get you tired, sick, resentful, depressed, and doubting yourself. So if that means your kid watches a little TV while you spend some time on Pinterest looking at things that make you smile, do that.

10.  You have the right to make things easy on yourself when it comes to grocery shopping and meal planning.

Did you know it’s ok to eat Cheerios and non-organic strawberries for dinner? Did you know that many grocery stores offer online ordering and delivery services? Did you know that many people in our generation grew up eating Spaghettio’s, Twinkies, and Kraft Mac & Cheese regularly and are now running Iron Man races and marathons? If you like meal planning and it helps your budget, great. If you don’t, eating simply (think: grilled cheese, rice and beans, noodles and sauce) is easy on the budget too and just…easy. And easy is OK.

11. You have the right to feel however you feel about whatever phase of parenting you are in.

Bored, angry, excited, lonely, nervous, anxious, impatient. Maybe your toddler is brave and reckless and it scares the crap out of you because you think he’ll be that way forever. Maybe you are bored senseless by nursing and can’t wait for the day when you wean. Maybe your one year old is learning to walk and you are dreading the changes you must make to your house to child-proof it. Don’t even try to push away the many, many emotions that come from parenting daily. Most of them come in phases just like every single aspect of a growing babe comes in phases. Try to just be with whatever you feel even if it’s not all flowers and rainbows. Denial will actually make the joys harder to come by. Let “this too shall pass” be your mantra.

12. You have the right to enlist help for everyday tasks.

Have you ever hired someone to come in and clean your house? It is like a dream come true. They scrub your toilets, wash the smashed blueberries and peas off the floor, dust the shelves you haven’t looked at in months, and scrub the microwave. (Are you fantasizing yet?) And that’s just for starters. If you have the extra cash to pay someone to do the hard cleaning once a month, do it. It is worth every single penny. Hiring a mother’s helper can also be a huge payoff for a small investment (as little as $5 an hour for responsible pre-teens) if they’re willing to straighten up toys, fold laundry, or watch the kids while you do the household stuff. You do not have to do every little thing on your own. The feeling of support from getting a little help on the side is an exponential boost.

13. You have the right to say no to invitations.

Don’t want to go the outdoor picnic in 90 degree weather and have to chase down your little ones for three hours while getting maybe half of a conversation in? Don’t go. Don’t want to try to parent your two squirmy kids through a meal at a restaurant? Don’t go. Or how about a house party at the pristine, no-kids home of a friend? Just don’t do it. If your friends are coming with you into this phase of your life- where your whole evening revolves around doing bedtime, and you don’t enter any facility or event unless there is a kid-friendly area, and sometimes the thought of rallying to get everyone out the door and in the car is just too much- they will understand.

14.  You have the right to disagree with your friend’s parenting styles.

They yell at their kids. Or maybe they are so hands-off that their home is a zoo without consequences.  All of sudden, how your friends parent their kids matters to you. And it should. You are a parent now. Here is when friends might float in and out of your life. And when you might decide you don’t want your kids hanging out with their kids. It’s your right to have your own opinions and go your own way as a family.

15. You have the right to change any or all of your priorities.

At any moment, you could change your mind….but right now, you’d rather hang out with your kids than do almost anything else. You stopped using pesticides on your lawn, started donating money to environmental groups and PBS, and quit your job to be home with the kids. You have changed your priorities. That’s your right. Maybe you’d rather go camping as a family than take that solo trip to Ireland you’d always dreamed of. This is not a problem to be fixed. It is a shift in priorities that tells you how important you are to these people you are helping grow. And how important they are to you. You deserve to let yourself change over this thing, motherhood. It’s OK to remap your life, and change your destinations or how you want to get to them. Slowly, simply and easily-maybe with a big fat smile on your face knowing no matter what your goals are, you are making a difference in those kiddos lives just by being you, mama.

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Bubble Boys

The other day, my 3 year old was invited to watch a video with some other little ones while the grown-ups talked. My husband and I usually let him watch TV or play ipod learning apps pretty regularly- almost every day- but his exposure to different shows has been pretty limited up to this point. He’s watched things like: Baby Einstein, Sid the Science Kid, Mary Poppins and the most PG-ish of the bunch, Cars.  We don’t watch adult shows when he is around or have the TV on as background noise. We feel like we want to protect him from the media saturation that can happen if we don’t keep a close eye on when screens are on and what he’s viewing.

On this day, he had been watching the selected movie with the other kids for about a half an hour before coming to find me to let me know he didn’t want to watch anymore.

His reason? The movie was “too scary.”

What they were watching?  “Winnie the Pooh.”

This made me so, so happy.  Some parents might worry that this was an indicator that their child is too sensitive.  For me, preserving his sensitivity is a good thing.  I want him to have a lengthy, sparkling childhood where he sees examples of kindness, cooperation, and curiosity in the characters he observes.

Consequently, I can be extremely protective of what he’s exposed to.  This will be the same for my 10 month old, too.  My bubble boys.  Like every parent, I try to protect them from concepts they don’t need to know about.

I used to have a book called The Hidden Messages in Water, that described how the crystallization of frozen water can be affected by the presence of either positive or negative words.  Words like harmony, peace, and love created symmetry, radiance, and beauty.  Words like hate and war had the opposite effect. It’s kind of a cool concept and the pictures of the water crystals from this book really stuck with me.

So when I think about what I want my boys exposed to, it’s the words that created symmetrical, radiant crystals- those that contribute to a harmonious inner life and don’t bring up questions they have no need to answer yet.

Here are some words I don’t want them to even have in their airspace until absolutely necessary.

hate, war, guns, fight, ugly, combat, war, poor, horror, battle, terror, first place, last place, loser, winner, bad, extinction,

Ok, the list goes on and on. As of right now, he lives in a world where people are kind to each other, take care of each other, are gentle, mindful, musical, and fun. I hope that we can keep the media he’s exposed to be reflective of this gentle world for as long as we can.  Hopefully he’ll learn that TV and movies aren’t just about entertainment, but also about learning and really great stories. They’re such a powerful tools…I hope we can teach him how to use them wisely.