Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Perils of Competitive Parenting

Found a wonderful article online:

You and your squirmy 3-year-old walk to the neighborhood playground, glad to get out of the house. Near the swings, two intense, confident mothers compare notes, each bent on proving her progeny's precocity.

"Little Ashley knows her shapes and colors already," one mom says, pushing her 2-year-old prodigy on a swing. "And she's taking French classes, so she knows them in both English and Fran├žais."

"Well, Jeremy knows his colors, but he really was having a hard time with the shapes," another mom laments. "But the flashcards have really helped. Now he's nearly got his numbers and letters as well."

You look over at your child, who is sitting in the sandbox. He's placed his plastic bucket on his head and is hitting the bucket with his toy shovel in one hand, shoving sand in his mouth with the other. Because of your obvious neglect, he's never even looked at a flashcard, and he barely speaks English, let alone French. I'm a failure, you think.

Parenting has become a highly competitive venture. The pressure often
comes from seeing what other parents and children are doing and thinking, I'd better catch up, without ever stopping to question the wisdom of that. Or it's derived from reading too many ads for "developmental" products—most of which are unnecessary but play on our insecurities.

Go on... read the whole thing.

Even if I don't want to admit it, I worry about these things. I was struck completely dumb the other day when I was told that three boys in my son's kindergarten class were already on a hockey team. My son has yet to learn to skate. We're Canadian, aren't we just supposed to know?

I worry. Oh I worry some days if I'm up for this challenge of parenting. I think I have 'second baby syndrome'. That's when you have a second child and it's so different from the first that you think "oh, gee, I guess all the good things I've done with child number one didn't really matter a hill of beans because this wonderful personality he's got was just his from birth. I don't matter as much as I thought I did!!"

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Prompt

Courtesy of this week's Absolute Write Newsletter:
You have the chance to re-live one memory in your life. Which one do you choose
and why?

Now that is a good question!

When I was growing up we would visit my family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) in small town Saskatchewan. As a child with divorced parents, life seemed a little topsy turvy, but life in the small freckle on the prairie was safe.

My brother and I would stay at either our cousins' house or our grandparent's house. At my cousins' house was a wonderful aunt who brushed her daughters' hair and put them in pigtails and who gave us squishy hugs. We would stay up late watching the Cosby Show and Diff'rent Strokes.

During the day we'd go up the hill to our grandparent's house. They had a pool and we would live on its edge. The eldest cousin and I were only 3 months apart and we'd race our way through books. Who could finish the Sweet Valley High books first. Or Trixie Belden.

This was my biggest worry: that I'd finish last in the book race.

There were no parents fighting, no traipsing between bedrooms, no mother's boyfriends. There was only diving to the bottom of the pool and seeing how many laps I could swim while holding my breath.

The little town was more village than town. Less than 200 people in a town that barely registers as a pin point on most maps. We had the run of the town, everyone knew who we were and waved to us as we rode our banana seat bikes through the dusty streets.

Life was sweet and good.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Parenting is not for the judgmental

I was taking a break tonight from ... well from a mish mosh of writing and trying to rock the Incredible Farting Baby... and I perused all the blogs I've been missing.

The Marvelous Mir had a great post up today:

There’s little I dislike more than a parent—particularly a mother—who judges her worth based upon her children’s conduct. I never want to be one of those people. It’s too big of a burden for the kids, and it's pitiful besides.

How true. I was reading other blogs and it occured to me that there are people out there that have a self esteem so low that they must build it up in damaging ways. Like comparing their child to all other children, or making fun of other mothers who just aren't as smart as they feel they are. And in the end, their children will pay the price. They will feel that their own mother's love is tied up in what they do, not who they are.

I am not a perfect mother. I constantly forget to take enough pictures of them. I'm a writer and I can hardly ever remember to write down their special moments. My children are not likely perfect children... but much like moms like Mir, we only expect them to do their best. Not the best that other kids can do, not the fastest on the team or the best at drinking out of a sippy cup.

One of the things being a mom (for, holy cow, six years) has taught me is compassion. It can be very easy once you are past a certain stage in your child's life, to assume you know all about the that time period. All the answers about feeding your child, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, choosing babysitters... they all seem so obvious now that we're past them.

I've learned that I do not have all the answers. More importantly, I've learned that I'm not a better mother because I have more answers than someone else. I've learned that compassion is the single best attribute that a mother can have. Not just compassion for their own children, but for other mothers, for the children of other mothers.

If we do not model compassion for our children, they will not learn it. Compassion is not a skill they can learn because they are just so goshdarn smart. They can't learn it like their ABCs. It must be modeled for them.

When you hear a mother cutting another mother down, when you hear her building herself up by tearing others down... compassion is the only option. It's hard. But parenting is not for wimps. And it is always harder to be the bigger person.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We're #10

The Writing Mother - the Forum was named one of the Internet's Top Ten Writer's Forums in the recent Preditors and Editors Poll!

Yippeee!

Not too shabby for being around just 14 months!

The Preditors and Editors site is an excellent resource. Bookmark it.

An encouraging word...

On one of my writer's lists, we discussed controversial writing. Many spoke about writing about abortion, same-sex marriage, religion, sexual abuse...

I write about horses.

And yet, there are still controversies. Who is right, who is wrong, who said what... it's rather tiresome. But I have often written about these controversies. The mistake I have made is to take a side. I should not do that. I didn't really think I had, but in hindsight, my opinion was clear.

And I've paid for that. Have you ever experienced the same?

Marcia Ford of Post Modern Misfit, sent me the following, and agreed to let me post her words:

I was a reporter at a suburban NY newspaper, so I understand your struggles. God has us where we are, writing what we write, for a reason,but as Christians, we feel we should be doing something more orsomething in a different way or something else altogether.

The way I see it, what God wants you to do is the same thing your editors want you to do: write fair, balanced articles that thoroughlyand accurately report on the controversy. That won't let your readership know that you're a Christian, but it's ethical, so the writing reflects who you are as a Christian.

And it may be that God has you where you are not for your readership but for the editors, the people you interview, and others you come in contact with. Even in our secular writing, God gives us wisdom and insights we can't get anywhere else. That prompts us to ask the right questions, go to the right people, look beyond the surface problem to get at the real issues, and present the facts in a balanced way. That may not get us known as Christians who write, but God may not be concerned about that at all. We can't always (or ever) know God's ultimate purpose in having us do whatwe're doing.

Be encouraged!

I certainly was, and I hope you are too.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I write because...

Do you ever ask yourself this question? Or have you ever had someone say "Why do you write?" There are many answers available and as many reasons as their are writers in this world.

I recently read an account of Bodie and Brock Thoene who have produced a bundle of books by teaming up to write and reseach.

"No little elves come out of my closet to write 650 manuscript pages," Bodie
says. "Some mornings I don't feel like writing, but I do it out of obedience to
God."
Many people write for money, they write for fame, they write to please themselves and these are all very valid reasons - reasons I call my own as well.

I had not considered, until recently, that my calling may be to write. Would God have given me a gift (oh, ho, hello ego!) if he didn't want me to use it? I've been one of those people who has never really been sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Nurse, vet, paramedic, teacher... but the reality is, I'd always be a writer outside of my regular work.

So why not just call myself a writer and be done with it.

So I do.

I write because it's my calling.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

CONTEST: ARE YOU A WRITER MAMA (OR PAPA)?

Writing's hard; parenting's harder. Only the strongest souls would consider doing them both at the same time, and we applaud that spirit.Writer's Digest wants to hear from you on the topic of: "When Parenting and Writing Collide."

Write your best original, unpublished parenting-and-writing story in a 500-word essay and e-mail it to publicity@fwpubs.com with "Writer Mama contest" in the subject line. Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, will select the top three entries. The first-place entry will be published in an upcoming issue of Writer's Digest magazine; second- and third-place entries will be posted on thewritermama.com.

All winners will receive a signed copy of Writer Mama. All entries must be e-mailed to publicity@fwpubs.com by March 31.

The entry must be written in the body of the e-mail; attachments will not be accepted or opened. Each entry should include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address. Only the winning writers will be contacted, and entries will not be returned. Writer's Digest retains first-time rights to run the winning entries in the magazine and/or on our website or associated websites, after which all rights return to the author. The decisions of the editors are final.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I will do it!

I have set my mind that this is the year I'm going to get organized. I'm going to do it. I have to do it. Oh sure, this is also the year I'm going to lose 20 lbs. I'm sure you've heard all the lines before.

This is serious. (LOL, ok, it's not THAT serious!)

I am the mother of two children. I have a lot on my plate. I have a book due and a freelance career. I'm also a part time (slacker) student (darn distance courses make it so easy to slack!).

So I want to start this year out right. I think I have found the program to do it. (Note: I'm not getting paid to endorse this... when I land a sweet deal to endorse products for money, y'all will be the first to know!)

Julie Hood, The Organized Writer (I think the title 'The Writer We Love To Hate' was taken) has written the ebook 'The Organized Writer: 30 Days to More Time, More Money, and Less Frustration' and I'm going to check it out. I've been following her weekly plan this week and I like the format. Plus her ebook has pages you can print out to keep track of a multitude of things like submissions and manuscripts and queries and invoices.

Also, I've found an e-zine that I love. Writers On The Rise: Inspiration, Insight and Ideas For Emerging Writers. I admit it... at first I was banging my head on the table because she has a new book coming out called Writer Mama... and it practically mirrored the book proposal I had.

Onward and upward though, there are always new ways to look at things and I'll just buy her book and learn from it and come up with brand spankin' new ideas. Meanwhile, her e-zine looks fabulous.

This week was a little helter-skelter. I was chasing photos down for an article and cursing myself for not starting the project earlier - like early December. It always seemed that I was busy. This is the reason for my desire... my need to become Queen Organization.

Plus that title fits in with my Extroverted-Judger-Outer-Focused-Perfectionist personality. I like to write things down, I like to take notes, I like the hard copy versus the soft copy. I love blue binders and bright dividers and I love, love, love day timers.

I bought the Bylines 2007 Writers Desk Calendar and every other page has a neat little story from a writer. It's a good one. (Again, still not paid to endorse, lol.)