Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remembering Samoa

I did my student teaching in Western Samoa 14 years ago.  While I was there I kinda liked it, but kinda didn't.  The humidity was gross, the bugs were gross; I found plenty to complain about.  When I hopped on the plane to go home, I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness regarding how much I was really going to miss that place and that I should have appreciated that experience more.

The other day I realized I hope I'm not treating motherhood the same way.  I kinda like it, but it's kinda hard.  I'm really tired.  I'm really tired of cleaning.  I'm really tired of correcting.  I'm really tired of hearing "Mom."

My friend Polly once told me that she tried to live life without regrets.  I realized that if I keep kinda not liking some of this motherhood stuff, that when it's over, I'm really going to regret it just like I regret not enjoying Samoa as much as I should/could have while I was there.  So, here's to enjoying this time of life more, living without regrets, and remembering I'll miss it when this phase is over.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lightening up!

Here's something that has helped me lighten up as a parent -- cross posted at Particles of Faith:

Recently, my husband took our son on our ward father's and son's camp out.  My husband spent some good time chatting with a former mission president around the campfire.  They touched on the topic of sending missionaries home (yes, sometimes LDS missionaries get sent home).  My husband and I have been guilty of taking a letter-of-the-law approach at times and would probably say in this situation, "Well, if a young man isn't behaving as he should on his mission, or if he wasn't worthy to go, then teach him his lesson: send him home."

This loving, kind, former mission president taught us something.  He said that when working with one of these young men, he'd handle it this way:  You can repent and take care of matters while on the mission and return home honorably, or we can send you home now where you'll face the embarrassment and shame of coming home early, and it will ruin your life and probably your involvement with the church (I'm sure he made it sound much nicer than that). Rather than making these young men miserable, he wanted to help them be successful. What a charitable approach.

I realized that I need to do better and give people the benefit of the doubt and to be more compassionate.  It's not my job to lay down the law; it's my job to show love and mercy as the Savior did and make life better for others.  I can leave the judging up to our Father in Heaven.

Not only does this help me be less judgmental of others, but it also, for some reason, helps me lighten up with raising my children.  I don't have to be too strict.  I don't have to make them be little adults.  They can be kids and have fun, and I can have fun with them and be a guide when they struggle just like that former mission president was with his struggling missionaries.

Family Friendly

Recently I had Heather from Women in the Scriptures over for lunch.  How fun to actually meet her in person!  She was telling me about how she got to take her kids swimming at a pool, but kid hours were only for 1 or 2 hours the whole day -- and those hours were right in the afternoon during nap time!  How family unfriendly is that!?

Then, I remembered a story my husband told me about our friend who lived in Germany as a girl.  At that time, in their location, some grocery stores did not allow children (maybe they still don't).  Are you kidding me?  How would you ever get the shopping done?  She and her siblings had to wait outside while their mother went in and shopped!

Are we really trying to make it more inconvenient for families these days?

I realized these problems aren't just happening in other countries and in big cities, but in my own little city!

At our local rec. center, there's quite a walk from the parking lot to the main entrance (unless you get a good parking spot). However, there's an exit door that is close to the pools that people sometimes sneak in.   One day, when I was pregnant and feeling particularly gross and light-headed, taking two kids to swimming lessons, and trying to get a one year-old to walk fast, I decided to go in those exit doors, because walking around to the main entrance would add probably 5 minutes to our travel time.  (OK, maybe it wasn't 5, but it was at least 3 that felt like 5).  An older worker lady saw us and told us to go around.  I didn't give her any flack, but just turned right around and inched my way toward the real entrance because I knew I was in the wrong.

I came home and wrote a letter to the rec center suggesting that they could be more family friendly by opening up that exit door just for swim lesson time (you don't have to show any proof that you're there for lessons, you just say you're there and they open the gate at the main entrance, so there's nothing special about going the long way).  I told them my experience of being a pregnant mother of young children and that that small thing would help me so much.  I never did hear back, and they never did open the door.  So much for making things nicer for young families during swimming lessons.

Anyway, what's my point?  I guess I just think it's sad that we're becoming more family unfriendly.  I wish I'd even remember how hard it is with little ones when I have my times where I don't have little ones.  I can't tell you how many times I've been at the store and have seen the struggling mother and thought, "Aw, she can handle it, she's used to this chaos.  She's tough, I'm sure."  But really, she's probably about ready to cry, and I need to remember how hard it is!  We all need to remember to lend a hand and ease the burdens of those struggling with containing their little children.  I wish we had more places like Toys-R-Us and our pediatrician's office that has special parking for moms with babies.

Have you seen businesses/products be more family friendly/unfriendly?  What can we do to be more helpful to families?

7/26/12 Update:  Saw this on KSL.com today about the No Kids Allowed Movement.

What I learned from building a fence

I've been thinking lately about the things we pass on to our kids.  I've typically been in the camp that we choose our actions/reactions, and it doesn't matter so much how we are raised.  However, I think I'm realizing how much example really does influence our children whether we know it or not. 

For instance, if your parents were yellers, but you know it's not very nice and something you don't want to do, then you don't do it.  Right?  Maybe not.  I think people may not want to be yellers, but when it comes down to it, in certain situations, parents just don't know what to do, so they give in to yelling. Now luckily, yelling isn't one that I struggle with, nor did my parents, but it's easy for me to recognize and use as an example.

A difference I've noticed between my husband and me is our attitudes about work/manual labor.  I remember looking at work/service projects as fun -- you get to spend time together, talk, and get something done.  Of course it's not fun like going to an amusement park, but it feels good.  My husband, on the other hand, always kind of grumbled and overall just doesn't like it.

This last week while my husband, father, and father-in-law were working on building us a new fence (ours had blown over in our December freak wind storm), I think I learned a reason why my husband and I have such different attitudes about physical work.  While the guys were working away, I went outside to watch the progress.  Everything was taking longer than expected, and I asked, "Are we having fun yet?"  My dad responded with his normal, cheerful response and his obvious like of making things.  My father-in-law said something that made me realize this was a burden to him.  He commented that it's not fun now, but at least in the end we'd have something nice out of it.

"That's it!" I thought.  This was why my husband and I think so differently about work! His dad didn't like it, so he doesn't; my dad did like it, so I do (mostly).  I think that's a real generalization, but I do wonder how much of my husband's dislike of manual labor was passed to him from his father's attitude about it.  Would my husband like work more had his dad been more positive about it?  This really made me recognize that we probably do inadvertently pass on our attitudes to our children. 

Now, I do recognize that maybe no matter how positive my husband's father could have been about work that my husband could still not like it, but I think that the chances of our children having a more positive attitude about it will be better when we are positive ourselves.

Another thing I realized during this fence project was that I really wanted to be out there helping, but between nursing a baby and caring for three other kids, it was pretty much impossible.  At first, I felt stuck inside doing "girl stuff" like making lunch and providing ice water.  Then I realized my job of providing food and water was just as important as the work they were doing; it was just different.  Then I realized, too, some people may actually prefer to be inside taking care of the kids and making the food rather than working on the fence.  So, it wasn't so much a "girl thing" versus a "boy thing", but a personal preference.  At this time, it just makes more sense for me to be inside nursing and my husband outside hauling around 60 lb. bags of cement.

You can see in the picture that our cute little girl was out helping by handing my husband the screws.  I hope she remembers that working together can be fun and that if she likes building fences, great, but sometimes she'll have to be taking care of her babies, she can build fences later.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Highs & Lows

A bit back I wanted to jot down one thing we do with our kids to communicate better with them.  We got this idea from our friends Jeff and Janae who do it with their kids:  Highs and Lows.  How it works is when you're sitting around the dinner table, you ask everyone to share both a high and a low (a good thing and a bad thing) from the day.

You share a good thing because it's fun to hear good things, and you share a bad thing so everyone knows your human, and that you don't have a perfect life, and so that you can get support from your family.  Even those who aren't the most natural sharers learn to share.

I know when we first mentioned the low part to my dad one time, he kind of balked at the idea and said we should focus on the positive.  Sure, we should, but we felt it was more important to have open communication in all things.

I've seen this benefit us when my husband says something like this, "My low was that I ran into an Internet baddie" (that's what we call inappropriate pictures on line).  Our kids know that it's easy to run into bad stuff like that and it's okay to tell -- if Dad tells, they can, too.

One day, our son reported that he ran into an Internet baddie.  It wasn't all that bad, but we were really happy he wasn't ashamed to tell us.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Man Revolution

I don't even have time to comment on this, but I wanted to save it here.  I should probably just "pin" it for later, but that would mess up my system.  If women needed their own revolution to get them equality, it sounds like men need a revolution to give them some hope (and I know my punctuation is wrong!)

From "Growing Pains:  Rate of young men struggling in careers alarmingly higher than young women" in the Deseret News:

 1.  "Nearly 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are unemployed or out of the workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. More than a third rely on their parents to help make ends meet and, even among those who have jobs. . . ."

2.   "Young men are less educated, more likely to be unemployed and more likely to live at home with their parents than their female peers. . . The achievement gap between young women and men has grown so wide that experts worry it may be contributing to the rising age of marriage and an increase in the number of single-parent homes."

3.   During the recession, men lost twice as many jobs as women.

4.   While the share of women living with their parents has remained a fairly steady 10 percent since 2007, the share of men living at home has increased from 14.2 percent to 18.6 percent.

5. ". . . the economy is shifting in a more female-friendly direction. . . . The manufacturing economy, which played to men's strengths, is on its way out. Today's economy is becoming increasingly knowledge-based and emphasizes softer skills such as communication and data analysis — things men can do, but that come easier to women.  The emphasis on female-friendly skills is mirrored in schools . . . where as early as elementary school teachers now encourage learning strategies that girls excel at, like collaboration, and discourage those that come naturally to boys, like competition. As a result of what he calls "biased" teaching methods, by the time they graduate high school, men are already behind. At a university level, just 38 percent of men ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college or graduate programs in 2010, compared to 44 percent of women, according to the Pew Research Center. Women are more likely to graduate, too. Thirty-six percent of women ages 25 to 29 had a bachelor's degrees, while just 28 percent of men obtained the milestone."

6.   "Overall, women still earn only about 80 percent of men's wages, but among young adults, women out-earn men. . . .  . . . the median full-time salaries of young women are 8 percent higher than those of their male peers. In some cities, young women bring in as much as 20 percent more. Experts attribute the disparity to the growing gap in educational achievement."

7.  "When I started out, the boys would have big ambitions and the girls would have big ambitions," he said. "Slowly, year after year, young women finishing college have remained optimistic about the future, but young men have completely changed. If they are superstars and ... went to Harvard, they are doing OK. But if they are normal, went to a middling university or maybe even dropped out, these men are depressed and angry. They feel like the cards are stacked against them."

8.  Accelerated by the recession, men's marriage rates dropped sharply over the past decade.

9.  If society has made women into "sex objects," Farrell argues it has made men into "success objects."

10.  As women power ahead, these expectations are wearing on men, Farrell said. Modern women have gained choices over the years. They can take a job. They can stay at home with their children. They can do both. Men, though, have only the option to work full time, work full time or work full time.

11.  "Men are not valued if they aren't successful," Farrell said. "And in today's world, they are far less likely to be successful. Period. In comparison to women, they are in even worse shape."

12.  Some put off marriage because they feel like they must first achieve financial stability, he says. Easy access to pornography is a factor, too, because it makes it easy for men to fulfill sexual needs. . . .

13.  Because young adults are delaying marriage, a new decade of life has emerged. . . ."pre-adulthood."  . . . "You find a new phenomenon of what I call the child man," . . . He is hanging around, playing video games with his friends much like he was in college." . . . As women have gained success, there's been increasing talk about "Why do I need a man?" says Hymowitz. In the future, she predicts more women, unable to find a man they see as their equal, will "go it alone" as single mothers.

14.  "This isn't just an individual problem; this is a societal problem," Hymowitz says. "It isn't a purely economical problem; it is contributing to the breakdown of the family."