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At Home Moms vs. Working Moms

22 Mar

As a dad, I don’t get the disconnect between working moms and at home moms. Can I call it a rivalry?

ConnecticutWorkingMoms is one of the best parenting blogs in Connecticut.

The MOMS Club, with chapters in Enfield, Manchester/East Hartford, Middletown and Wethersfield, says on its web site: “We are a support group designed just for you, the at-home mother of today!”

When my wife was home after having Reid, suffering from postpartum depression, I searched the web for a group of moms she could join in town. The Wethersfield MOMS Club came up. But she couldn’t join. She would return to work after a 16-week maternity leave.

I totally get that at home moms can have challenges with socializing with adults and how hectic their lives are.

You only have to read a ‘Day In The Life’ feature on ConnecticutWorkingMoms to appreciate how difficult it is for moms to juggle a job outside the home, child care and family life.

Truth is, my wife would love to be an at home mom. From the time we started dating in our teens, she said she’d like to not have a job outside the home when our children were  young.

In our late 20s, I supported her taking three years off from work to go to grad school full-time.

I talked to our landlord about buying the duplex in Old Wethersfield that we lived in and continuing to live upstairs while renting out the first floor apartment.  Then he rented to some less than desirable neighbors who trashed the place.  So we decided not to buy it, and bought our house.

After we found out we both carried the CF gene, we accepted we’d be spending tens-of-thousands on IVF to try and have a second child.

For better or worse, grad school paid off. My wife makes a lot more money than I do.

If life played out differently, my wife would be an at home mom. I have some guilt that I can’t see a way to make that happen for our family.

Now that we are in the toddler stage, I’d be happy being a stay at home dad — I didn’t love the infant stage. My best friend was an at home dad when his kids were younger.

We all have our story about why we do or do not work outside the home. Maybe you can help me understand the divide between working moms and at home moms. More importantly, maybe we all can help bridge that gap.

Links

Huggies ‘Dad Test’ Ad

16 Mar

After some social media push back, Huggies pulled it’s ‘Dad Test’ ad campaign.

I’m glad.

One ad starts out: “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: Dads, alone with their babies, at nap time, after a very full bottle.”

I’m not sure I know any dad of babies or small children who is not comfortable changing a diaper. I’ve been alone with Reid at nap time literally over a 100 times in the last 2-and-a-half years. It’s not a big deal.

Chris Routly took up a petition against Huggies and Kimblery Clark on his dad blog, “The Daddy Doctrines” and got over 1000 signatures asking Huggies to stop running the ads.

Honestly, the ads really don’t upset me personally. But the public outcry, and Huggies’ response to pull the ads, does prove to me how quickly media and pop culture’s portrayal of dads has changed.

The dumb, uninvolved dad humor of “Everybody Loves Raymond” — and copy-cat shows like “Yes Dear” — do kind of get me upset. Unlike the fathers on those shows, I would much rather spend time with my family than play golf or hang out with my buddies.

There seems to be a couple gags in every episode where Ray whines to Debra about spending time with his family. Ray and Debra’s relationship is very much like a child and a mother who takes care of him, with a joke peppered in about how Ray wants sex.

‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ went off the air in 2005.  Now in 2012, we are petitioning to get ads taken off a company’s Facebook page.

Diapers aren’t the only thing being changed by dads in pop culture.

What do you think of the Huggies ads and ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ type sitcoms?

More reading:

Follow @jimhigley and @ChrisRoutly on Twitter

Okay, and here’s a dad changing a diaper Huggies ad that I do find pretty funny.

‘Boy Energy’ Is A Good Thing — I Think

8 Mar

Sundays at church I look around and it seems most toddlers Reid’s age are being quietly held by their parents, napping on their parent’s shoulder or silently popping Cheerios. Reid is up talking to people sitting around us, playing peek-a boo and constantly moving from the floor to the seats.

I wouldn’t say he misbehaves. He’s just busy and active.

My wife and I were talking about preschool with a good friend of ours who’s an elementary school teacher. She said it will teach him skills he needs, “like sitting still.”

Being an only child not in day care, I worry about Reid learning social skills. Like every parent,  I worry about him learning colors, letters and numbers.

I don’t really care if my two-year-old can’t sit still.

Reid is an active, curious, slightly mischievous little boy. I think that’s awesome.

I’m concerned how he’ll do in school with this personality though. I’m further concerned that my nurturing these wild ways will put me in conflict with his classroom teachers.

A friend of mine with two boys of her own, posted an article on her Facebook page from the Toronto Star about a Canadian educator’s views on “boy energy.” My friend, Kris-Ann, blogged about her decision whether public school or a Montessori education is best for her son with special needs.

I’m glad more parents and educators are looking at the unique challenges of educating young boys. It’s a struggle to harness Reid’s energy and make sure he is developing and learning new things. But I think it’s also a lot of fun as his parent.

We review letters floating in his tub many nights. Through the splashes and pouring water over his head he’ll repeat “D, makes Da sound, like dog.”

I understand things will change when Reid gets into a classroom setting. I don’t want his behavior to be a disruption. But I hope he stays active and engaged with people around him. I don’t want to screw that up.

Do you have concerns about how your son will do – is doing — in preschool? Any elementary school teachers want to weigh in?

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Stuff We Probably Shouldn’t Have Taught

8 Mar

Over the course of the last couple years friends, family and I have taught Reid somethings we probably shouldn’t have.

  1. He calls sea gulls “dump chickens”
  2. He knew my first name before he could say “mom” or “mama.” At 10 months old, he’d greet me by saying “Hi, Jim” from his highchair
  3. He thinks it’s hysterical  when somebody “toots”
  4. At 2, he can work my parents’ DVD player better than they can
  5. When he talks on the phone or plays with a toy phone, he answers it by saying “What’s Up?”
  6. I often tell him: “Reid you are an awesome little kid.” Now he tells strangers: “Me awesome little kid.”
  7. He calls his butt his poop-er-a-tor
  8. We call the naked run from his bedroom to the tub “going streaking”
  9. If I pull up to a Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru, Reid asks for french fries
  10. If you ask him where his “business” is, he points to his crotch

Share what you’ve taught your kids that maybe you shouldn’t have.

Little Kids And Big Dogs

18 Feb

Big dogs get a bum rap.

I know Shepherds, Labradors, Rottweilers and Pitbulls who have been unbelievable members of their families. But many people will advise against having a big dog around small children.

We are a home with a doofy, loving German Shepard, an attention-seeking Basset Hound and a cat who is kind of an omnipresent steadying soul who has been with my wife and I since we first moved in together shortly after college.

Our Shepard has knocked Reid down. I think the Basset knocks him down more often.

Still, the dogs take more abuse from Reid than he takes from them.

Like many toddlers, Reid has a hard time controlling his excitement. Despite our constant correction, he’ll lay on top of the dogs, pull their tails and generally get in their space. Both dogs have shown patience and seem to understand this little human isn’t fully developed yet. We make sure they know Reid is above them in our pack.

Thanks to our constant reminders, Reid is learning to be more gentle and move slower around the pets. He is starting to get his emotions in check and realizing that the dogs will lie down to be pet, but will get up and walk away if he is rough, loud or generally annoying.

He’s still way too aggressive to really have much of a relationship with our skittish cat.

I know there are bad dogs out there, just as there are bad people who could harm children. But I would not write-off any breed of dog any more than I’d have a prejudice against any group of people.

I’m leery of dogs I don’t know around my kid just as I’m vigilant when a stranger is talking to Reid and is in close proximity.

Our dogs, and cat, are very much a part of our family.

My wife and I carry a good deal of guilt that Reid will be an only child. I hope the dogs can give him a bit of the friendship he will lose out on.

A Pissed Off Toddler Can Be Fun

25 Jan

My wife posted a Huffington Post blog post  ‘Don’t Carpe Diem ‘by Glennon Melton on her Facebook page. Melton has a great blog called Momastery.

This particular post was on how mothers have an expectation that every moment with their child be some sort of magical, spiritual gift to be captured in a time capsule.  Melton says moms need to get over that.

My first reaction was our own recent heart-break makes me less than sympathetic to any parent complaining about the stresses of having three children. I don’t doubt it’s very stressful, but it’s a problem I’d love to have right now.

But I also know Reid’s brattiness and crying has never effected me on the level that it seems to bother my wife. Now that he’s 2 1/2, I’ll even egg him on. I’ll sing “Reidee’s mad, and I’m glad, and I know how to please him….”

I’m the sort of dad and husband who literally pokes at Reid and my wife when they want me to leave them alone.

A lady at Target this week flashed me a funny look when I told Reid “I think you’re grossly overreacting” in the middle of a temper tantrum in the store.

If I spend eight to ten hours with Reid, he’s honestly only bratty for 15 minutes or so.

Still there seems to be something more biological going on with my wife. She can’t bear to hear him scream or cry.

Here’s a dad secret: It’s not that I didn’t hear the baby cry in the middle of the night. If I thought he needed to be changed or needed a bottle, I’d split the shifts with my wife. But I can sleep just fine if he’s crying. My wife can’t.

It’s also funny —  no matter how hard a day I have with Reid, I miss him when he goes to bed. I’m not sure it’s about seizing the moment. Any given moment can suck. But I do try to seize the day.  Carpe Diem.

A Sporting Dad, I Am Not

20 Jan

There aren’t many ‘Connecticut dad blogs’ out there – or really many dad blogs in general. Ron Goralski has a good one on Patch, “The Sporting Dad’s View.”

I myself am far from a sporting dad. I’m still years away from Reid playing any sort of organized sports. I describe myself as a causal sports fan. I also think my interests are the result of my Connecticut upbringing. I’m passionate about UConn basketball. I’ll root for any team from UConn. I love baseball, siding with the Yankees. I’ll always have a spot in my heart for the Whalers and think the game of hockey is the most skillful combination of speed and strength I’ve ever seen.

Still, any kid with my genes is destined for a great deal of disappointment in sports. I was a terrible athlete growing up. My West Hartford Youth Soccer coach recommended to my parents I stop playing, for fear that I’d hurt myself. I was still in the “minor league” of West Hartford Youth Baseball at 12, when the league rule was all 12-year-olds should play in the older, top league.

I had my most success in basketball, mostly because I hit 6-feet-tall when I was in middle school. Still, by sophomore year, I was cut from even the JV team at Conard.

I often wonder if even watching sports with Reid just sets him up for failure.  Any kid watching baseball will want to play.

I did learn a lot from sports. Basketball taught me to be more assertive. If a ball was loose I figured I might as well be the one to come down with it. A coach actually encouraged me to growl when I went for a rebound or blocked shot.

I literally lost a front tooth when trying out for the Sedgewick Middle School baseball team. A few days later I was playing Little League.

Not making the Conard basketball team was the start of me finding who I was. I was a terribly nerdy, awkward kid who’d never be a high school jock. I didn’t hit stride until well into college, but I set out as a poetry writing beatnik in high school after I learned to give up on the lettermen jacket.

I’d love Reid to play baseball and hockey. I also want him to play guitar and the piano. I want him to perform in plays and be a spoken word poet. What ever he wants to do I’ll encourage him.

I’d also really like him to be a Yankees fan.

Maybe by the grace of God Reid will get his hand-eye-coordination from my wife’s side.

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