A friend asked me recently how I handle raising three kids, three daughters specifically. I blew it off of course with my usual “oh it’s a challenge, alright” laughraiseeyebrowsshrug.

But then I had some time to think about it. And I just sat there. Dumbfounded. I have no strategy. I’m a planner by nature and yet, with parenting? I just kind of wing it. I think honestly if I let myself come up with a plan, I’d be so focused on Executing The Plan that I’d miss seeing my kids entirely. I guess I live a little in the present and a little in the future when it comes to parenting. I want to enjoy them, but I want to produce functioning members of society as well. Most Some days those two things don’t coincide very well, and we end the day completely burnt out and frustrated with each other.

But I have to say, I can’t really identify with the moms who lay in bed berating themselves over their terrible parenting days. I care about doing a good job, but I also know that mistakes are the best way to learn. I know my kids aren’t damaged from a day of too much yelling. Plus they were probably being jerks anyway and they needed to be scolded for it. Tomorrow we’ll wake up and start all over. Maybe I’ll yell again, maybe I won’t…I don’t hold myself up to a standard that I can’t ever reach because it’s invisible. And I truly believe that kids see more than they see, if ya get what I mean. If I’m trying too  hard, if it’s not coming naturally to me? They’re going to see that. They might exploit it, and that’s the least of my worries. I worry more that they’ll mirror the behaviour of Fake It Til You Make It. I hate that phrase. Be you. That’s not fake. It’s not perfect, it’s not always pretty but it’s sustainable and approachable and fulfilling.

I’m a pretty relaxed parent who holds a hard and fast line on rules and behaviour. You want to play outside in the rain in your fanciest dress? Have at er, kid! You give me sass face at my dinner table? Up to your room immediately. Oh, we’re in public and you drop to the floor in a heap of drama? How embarrassing for you that right there in the middle of the aisle I’m bent down in your face counting to three with Epic Mom Face. But that fart joke was super funny and I guffaw laugh with you until I can’t breathe.

I’m a fun mom. And both of those descriptors are equally important to me.

My Parenting Philosophy probably looks a little something like this:

  1. Laugh at their jokes
  2. Praise their work ethic
  3. Thank them
  4. Remind them not to be jerks
  5. Show them empathy
  6. Admit when you messed up
  7. Let them do it their way a little (<- that one is haaaaard for me)
  8. Model fun
  9. Build tradition
  10. Encourage individuality

I’m not trying to hit markers in my parenting. I don’t really believe in “stages”. I think each kid has their own ways of growing and coping and it’s not my job to mold them, it’s my job to guide them through the walls they build in their own paths. We parent in such a way that changes aren’t really noticed right away. It’s more gradually shifting and settling until one day Ryan and I look at each other & go: “So, she just showers herself now? Okie dokie.” If I’m over here preaching individuality and self-love and grace and independence…well, I better actually show it, or they’ll retain nothing.

So I have no plan here. I have no magical way to get your kids to listen to you, to ensure they’re polite and well-rounded. But I truly think my kids are that way, and I’d like to take some credit for that. Just don’t ask me for a handbook, cause it’ll be 12 pages of this guy:

{ 2 comments }

Like A Girl

by Alicia on July 3, 2014

I mostly avoid viral videos. (Most especially the ones on Facebook.)

This morning I finally watched the Like a Girl video ad from  Always. I was not moved to tears. I think it may juuuust miss the mark for me, like it’s missing a little something.

Raising three daughters can be a daunting thing when I think about it. So I tend not to. I don’t mean I don’t think about raising my kids, I just mean I try not to think about raising my daughters as a rule. I like the sentiment behind the Like A Girl movement- change the perception, take away the stigma- I just wonder if it’s too heavy…maybe?

I’m raising three entirely different children. While my oldest is distinctly feminine in the majority of what she does, my middle kid prefers dresses when she hunts for worms in the dirt. They aren’t like anything- they just are. Isabella tries out for the track team every year with no fan fare and doesn’t appear upset when she doesn’t make the team. It’s not that she doesn’t make it because she runs like a girl, she’s just not trained enough to qualify. Or at least, that’s what we say is the reason. I don’t want to make it about her being “girly” or “not sports inclined”, I want her to hear that if it’s something she wants, there are ways to work for it that are based nothing on proving worth as a gender. Just run better and faster. Not faster than a boy. Not like a boy. Just better and faster than the last year you tried out.

Annika wants to play hockey. What if she wants to skate like a champ and wear a pink helmet & tie pink laces? Have at ‘er, kid. Outsiders looking in will say “there’s a girl out there” and yep, you’re right, there is. But that girl is a player on a team. I won’t teach her to skate “like a girl” any more than Ryan will teach her to check “like a boy”. Her anatomy barely matters when she’s covered in equipment and her teammates are just waiting for her to pass the puck. She needs to skate like a hockey player, pass like a team player.

I guess it’s  not that I disagree with the Like A Girl message, just that I’m not sure I want to introduce that kind of thinking to my 8 year old. One day the girls will be teenagers. (Merciful hell.) They will have questions, they will have struggles, they will have insecurities. Boys have all those too, I imagine. We absolutely need to teach them confidence, teach them humility, teach them both equity and the value of being unique.

Empowerment of our young women comes in many forms. In my house? It starts from within. You cannot expect respect when you don’t live it. Never demean yourself, and promote only without being boastful. You will be praised and put down your entire life long, compared and admired. The thing about grace and confidence is that it feeds those things without taking from anything else. Raising daughters is hard. There’s a lot to think about. Eventually. Right now I’m just trying to build citizens. I’d rather not introduce a bunch of things right now that set them apart, that indicate how different they are, or how superior they can feel. Be gracious. Be confident. Be a friend and a decent person. Do kid things, make mistakes, fail a lot. Talk to me. Run if you feel like running, and if you’re terrible at it either train to be better or move on. Know that I’m right here, your dad is right here, we’re all just right here if you need us. And we’re still right here if you don’t. Be Isabella. Be Annika. Be Maëlle. Change what that means when you feel like it and however often. But do it for you, not because you’re trying to be like something.

 

{ 3 comments }

expert 

[n., v. ek-spurt; adj. ek-spurt, ik-spurt]

noun: a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority

adjective: possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled

 

Oh, The Internet. You’re adorable. And I love you. Except for the parts of you I absolutely abhore.

!Just throw a little celebrity on someone, they’re automatically the smartest person anyone has ever met. Even the people who have never met them. Allow me to present Exhibit A: Matt Walsh. Self declared celebrity in the blogging world…which? Wow, dude. Just…wow. It’s not news that the internet loves a bandwagon, and recently there’s been a fresh one in the Whittington story. In short- a family willing to let their young child who was born a girl, identify as a boy as he chooses. (There’s a video there that is worth the watch.) Admitted bias here: I love the message. Let the kid decide who he is, let him change his mind a gazillion times and have the strength to stand behind him even when it’s unpopular. For me, the story is not about transgender or even gender at all. It’s about bravery and compassion and honouring personal will. It’s about displaying strength and commitment to your child, to their ability to decide things and own those decisions. I digress, but it’s necessary. I have many opinions on this, but I’d rather have you decide for yourself. It’s not the point I’m trying to make.

My point is this: it’s simple to hit “share” or “retweet” on an article or post. Too simple. I cringed and sighed through the Walsh post, shutting my browser a few times out of frustration. All the while knowing if I was going to write about it, I’d have to have read it first. If I was going to write about it, I’d have to have read it first. Ah ha. I didn’t agree with more than a handful of sentences he wrote. Though at the time of my writing, 533 comments were published on that one post alone, with most of them celebratory of Walsh’s “willingness to spread the truth”. The truth? Says who?

It’s more than just Walsh, it’s more than just bloggers. It’s celebrity worship at it’s worst. And mixed with general laziness, we produce a culture of expectation that the loudest voice is the one we perceive to be right. Where all it takes is the perfect soundbite and suddenly we’re clamouring into the latest fan club. We don’t want to be left behind, don’t want to seem unaware or stupid. How many read beyond a well-worded title? Nobutseriously, how many of you that shared the Whittington YouTube video watched it all the way through? Or was it enough that your friend with whom you share most opinions had it up on her page? We’re so quick to stand behind something if we’re standing with a crowd, that we never question whether that crowd is full of doubt. Put a semi-familiar face on a controversy and more often than not you’ll have Belieber-style mania rallying behind each side of said controversy.

The thing is, these people are not experts. They are voices, nothing more. They are popular, which puts false glasses on you that label them experts. No, Matt Walsh has never met this family, neither have we. He watched the same video we did. He has no more authority than a snail, only the tall tall platform on which to stand and the crowd echoing him which make his shouts sound louder. Subsitute any celebrity name in there and the result is the same. Angelina Jolie goes through a painful double mastectomy to prevent the possibility of the cancer that killed her mother, and suddenly we’re 100% sure that’s the smartest thing. Russell Brand spends 10 English-accented minutes loosely referring to anarchy and revolution on YouTube, and at least 45 of my Facebook friends are now declaring themselves non-voters by way of protest.

Come on. Be braver than that. Think about it for a minute. Just…stop. Just log off and go searching yourself. Don’t put all your eggs in the biggest, shiniest basket…or at least verify that the basket isn’t full of holes or being held by a raccoon. (This analogy just got weird…) Don’t follow the loudest voice just because it’s loud. Don’t become absorbed in the crowd simply because your super smart friend is standing in it. Don’t be so quick to post an article if you aren’t really sure…it’s ok to not be sure. In fact, that’s pretty brave right there. To shrug and say: I just…I don’t know enough to feel strongly here either way, you guys duke this out. Don’t say that you agree just because you like the person who said it, or because thousands of other people like the character they play.

{ 1 comment }

Ontario Election 2014

June 4, 2014

I’m not going to make this long or complicated (read: boring), I just want to leave some resources here for people and make a simple plea to vote. So, Alicia…who should I vote for? Well I haven’t got one sweet clue. I know who I’m voting for, but you should figure out for yourself who you [...]

Read the full article →

Work it out, even while you work

April 17, 2014

Last summer when I started running, I did it for solitude. This winter I added a couple layers to my running practice, for much the same reason: I needed it. I don’t need to lose weight, truth be told if I lose more I’ll be worried. Worth noting: Being thin isn’t simple either, folks. I start [...]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Read the full article →