My brain capacity for writing posts seems to be disappearing as my summer speeds up, so to make it look like my blog hasn’t died in my brain’s absence, here are a few of my comments elsewhere from a few weeks ago:
Corrie at Positively Organic talked about some difficult medical decisions for her son Ty. My response:
These things are so hard even on a smaller scale. Yesterday while I was away, Henry woke up from a nap screaming that his foot hurt. He’d actually been telling us his foot hurt earlier in the week (after falling) but then seemed fine, but Dean was concerned enough that he took him to Urgent Care. But their x-ray machine wasn’t working so they sent him to a different Urgent Care place, and by then Henry was running around happily and Dean said the doctor seemed a little baffled that Dean had even brought Henry in, and Dean felt a little foolish. But you never want to ignore a real problem.
P.S. Dean used to be the typical guy who could have a partially-severed limb and tell you that it didn’t need stitches, so I prefer this new overcautious version of him.
Beck’s “Posts she’s thinking about writing” included a non-written post about “Video games and the mid-30s ladies who luv them,” which included a mention of Animal Crossing. I wrote:
Here is where I’m really wishing I could track down a video for you that my brothers once showed me — it’s of a Nintendo bigwig at a gaming conference, (he’s Japanese and the video has subtitles) and I think it was from around the time the Wii was being developed, (he was one of the main developers) and he talks about the “wife test,” meaning that he’d been able to break into the female gaming market by paying attention to his wife’s gaming likes and dislikes. It’s quite charming. (And I really did try to find it for you on YouTube. Because I’m a huge dork.)
I gave up on Animal Crossing after we bought a house and the whole real time thing and the types of tasks you do were way too much like real life, but before that I’d used a cheat my brothers taught me (a time-travel between towns turnip speculation cheat) to build maximum-sized homes for my entire family, none of whom ever visited. A few years later my daughter took an interest in the game, and when she was striving to pay off her stage-one cottage, I was able to say, “Oh, honey, you don’t have to live in that little dump — come to my town and I have a MANSION all ready for you. And the complete set of Lovely furniture.” Of course, by then the weeds had taken over, but she was still thrilled.
(I hope you meant that about your being a dork or what I’ve just written will be complete gobbledygook.)
Heather of “The Extraordinary Ordinary” dissected a current trend to describe mothers in terms of “good mothers” and “bad mothers,” where so-called bad mothers are simply those who admit to taking a few shortcuts or letting things go sometimes. I put in these two cents:
I grew up the second of nine kids in a pretty dysfunctional/chaotic household (that nevertheless did have a lot of good things going for it,) so I had no illusions about how hard mothering can be, and I’m always surprised to hear that other moms feel like the challenges of motherhood have been kept such a big secret in the past; for me they were always an open book. My mom did enough right, and loved her job enough, to inspire me to want my own big family, while still hoping I could escape some of the hardest and most discouraging things she experienced. Some I’ve escaped; other hard things just seem to go with the territory. Anyway, while I’m all for being open about just how hard mothering can be, and all for giving ourselves breaks and letting ourselves off the hook in whatever ways help us keep our sanity, I completely agree that to attach the label “bad mother” to that kind of realism is self-defeating and even absurd. It’s also obviously disingenuous; people don’t trumpet things on TV that they’re genuinely ashamed of. It also kind of makes me crazy that people have to describe these challenges as though there were only two polar extreme opposites (you can only be a good mom or a bad mom.) Have you heard of the “Slacker Mom?” She has a book and promotes the idea of letting your kids lead a less-programmed life, more like childhoods of the past, instead of wearing yourself out carting your kids hither and yon, depriving them of interacting with nature or of creating their own fun. It’s a great idea and one I agree with, but I don’t see why a mom who simplifies like that has to call herself a “slacker” — why not a “smart mom”? And yet again, she seems to take her philosophy to what I consider an unreasonable extreme. I think we all struggle to figure out how to let our kids play organized sports if they want to, but still allow them time to kick around a ball in the backyard, or how to raise kids who can entertain themselves but have also learned to play the piano or developed other skills that take discipline, and I don’t think that ruling out ALL organized activities is the answer any more than it’s a good idea to keep our kids in constant motion at all times. We just all have to figure out what works best for our families, and it’s not easy for any of us (because we’re so overwhelmed by options and opportunity,) but insincerely self-deprecating labels or sweeping generalizations about what works best don’t really help any of us out, and just end up sounding false and facile.
P.S. I did used to feel like what I did all day at home with my kids *was* something of a secret or mystery to certain swaths of the outside world – for example, my husband’s fellow graduate students who were all unmarried and/or childless — like the well-meaning student who asked of my two-month-old “Is he right or left-handed?” But I’ve felt like mommy blogs and the internet have blown that mystery wide open — at least to anyone who’s willing to learn about how the other half lives.
At “If You Give a Mom a Moment,” Erin talked about having given up all milk products in order to nurse a milk-intolerant baby. I shared my own story of doing that:
My oldest has a milk allergy (not an intolerance but a real allergy with swelling face and hives and such,) but we didn’t discover it until he was weaned — I’ll bet he wouldn’t have been the urpingest baby ever if I’d gone off milk. So when my second had colic, I did like you did and went off milk completely for a year. I was sort of used to using milk substitutes because of my son (Asian food is good for eating out since they don’t cook with milk much,) but the hardest thing was that we were living in a ward that had a lot of potlucks AND a lot of fabulous cooks but there was always milk in everything — even the salads would have a sprinkling of blue cheese. I’d have to eat chips and salsa and stare longingly at everyone else’s fabulous food.
At “Diapers and Divinity,” Stephanie talked about realizing that we erode the cause of families when we fail to notice and honor the goodness of men around us.
I love this. It reminded me of a story my mom tells where she was at a Scouting event where the boys and leaders were cooking dinner for the moms, and the women, talking amongst themselves while the boys and men cooked, started complaining about the faults of their husbands and sons. My mom looked around in amazement that none of the women noticed the irony in their choice of conversation topic. My mom and I have also talked about how we hate it when women will shake their heads and in an impatient voice say, “Men!,” condemning the whole gender with one word.
I’m not sure whether I’d heard that quote from President Hinckley before, and I love it. I tell my children all the time that they are my greatest treasures, and I remind my husband how lucky he is to have a “quiver full” of them.