Tag Archives: Christmas

Over-parenting: Part 1.

MargheritaI was fortunate enough to be offered the trip of a lifetime by my wonderful brother and his husband for a 10-day break in South Africa to celebrate my birthday. This trip was just for me and the boys. No hubby or kids in sight. I had a very hard time being excited about the trip because I was so stressed out – I was leaving the day after Christmas so there was the Christmas mayhem to get through, would the kids be OK when I was gone? Would I pay dearly for my absence by my three-year-old mental patient once I got back? I told my hubby to drop me at departures drive-thru. I wasn’t going to go through any elongated good-byes. I cried. I looked at my children longingly. Smothered their faces with kisses. Kissed & hugged my hubby goodbye and watched them drive off. I swallowed the torrent of tears that threatened to flow. I checked in, breezed through security still wondering about my babies. Got to my gate with loads of time to spare and spotted a bar. I sat my arse down, ordered an insanely overpriced Margherita and suddenly, the world lifted off my shoulders. I forgot about the children. I forgot about my husband. I realized that for the first time in fourteen years, I didn’t have anyone else to think about or considerate but me. No children. No husband. Just ME! Suddenly, no one was there demanding my attention every 2 minutes. No one needed to hang off me. No one needed anything. It made me quite giddy.

LondonMy journey gave me a full day in London where I did the red bus tour and met up with some fabulous friends for a late lunch. I was noticing the freedom of movement. How easy it was to walk from A to B, how much less stressful it was to battle the crowds. By late afternoon, I made my way to Heathrow airport for the 12 hour flight to Cape Town, South Africa. I still fully wasn’t grasping what lay ahead of me though. I’d had a great day in London. Now onto another new place.

plane tripI talked with the marine biologist next to me about his kids and my kids, and how he wasn’t going to see them for a month. But I knew my time was limited and I felt a little twinge while talking about my children, wondering how they were doing. Daddy was taking care of them so I knew they would be just fine. And then I arrived. After almost two days of traveling, I arrived to a place that took my breath away. When I met my brother, the true excitement of what lay ahead hit me. Children? What children? Who has children?

What followed that week led to very interesting discussions and realizations about how I parent. What I do instinctively as a parent, and how parenting is viewed very, very differently elsewhere than in the United States. What I learned, frankly, is that it’s amazing any of us mothers in the US come out of it alive. More to come. . .

Merry Christmas!

SantaWe’re having fun today with all the excitement! We love Norad tracks Santa so the wee ones can watch a map of Santa working his way throughout the world. A big favorite of ours is Portable North Pole where you can make a video from Santa personalized for your child. This includes a Christmas Eve video and a call from Santa too. And then we go to the official Santa Claus page on Facebook (public figure verified by Facebook) so it’s not some whack posting on the page. Some great videos and updates from his elves, such as how Santa magically can get down chimneys and location updates.

From The Ragged Mommy to you, wishing you all a very merry Christmas! <3

It’s a Wonderful Life.

lillyI had an experience the other day that made me swell up with joy and happiness, and realize just how lucky I am. Sunday morning, I took off to store on my own. Our family has a habit of always waving goodbye to each other as we drive away. It brings back some wonderful memories for me when my grandmother and aunt would always stand at the door, no matter how cold it was outside, and wave goodbye to us until we were out of sight. Even when we got a train that happened to pass by their house, they would learn the time of the train departure and wait outside their house for that train to pass, waving blindly, every single time we traveled. We always saw them there, we waved back frantically in the hopes they saw us back. As a child, it meant the world to me and I loved that warm feeling they always gave me.

Before my girl started Kindergarten, the kids and I would all stand outside, give out hugs and kisses to Daddy and wave him off. It meant so much to him, and knowing that it was going to be fleeting since she starts school earlier than he goes work, he made a video of it. Now I drive her to school, and he stands outside waving goodbye to us. But on Sunday, Daddy was inside while I was leaving. So my little 6-year old girl and 3-year old boy stood at our gate as I backed the car out. I rolled down my window, waving and blowing kisses, watching these two precious little creatures frantically blowing kisses back, yelling, “I love you,” and jumping up and down. And my heart exploded. I just happened to be in a state where I wasn’t thinking about the thousand things that need to be done or the mess of the house. I just looked, appreciated, and loved. I realized that I will probably never be so loved in my life as I am right at this moment when I am these children’s entire world. I soak up as much of this as I can.

Just today, I walked my girl to the door of her school. As customary, I kneeled down so that she could wrap her arms around my neck to give me six hugs and six kisses. A Mom and little kid were walking close by and I heard that mother tell her son, “See? It’s OK to give mommy kisses at school.” I know this loving scene we do every morning is only temporary. Soon enough, she’ll just want one kiss, then it’ll be a wave and before too long, it’ll be “see ya!” So for now, I spend those precious minutes smiling from ear to ear, I look at that infectious smile my daughter has that lights up a room when I tell her that hug #6 was so tight I couldn’t breathe. Her face lights up with delight and I will rush to give her six hugs and kisses back.

On her once-a-month Dress-Down-Days at school (no uniform day), she always wears her unicorn leggings and t-shirt. Last Friday, she had to wear her Christmas dress, complete with Santa hat. It was just pertfect, and so her.

So while the world is swirling, debts are due, time is crunched, space is limited, I’m on the brink of insanity most days, and the to-do list never ends, it’s really a wonderful life.

7 Gifts to NOT give for Christmas!

present2_1785835bMost toys aren’t made with parents in mind. Most gift-giving is well-intentioned but can be woeful for us mothers and fathers who have to live with the gift. So I’ll make it simple for you. Here’s what not to give the children in your life.

  1. Anything that has more than 5 parts in the box. It’s OK if the parts assemble together permanently, but if they don’t, put the box down and walk away from that aisle. I swear, that 125-piece food play set was sent from Satan himself. Items will get lost, trampled on, thrown, strewn all over the floor and eventually end up in the trash can.
  2. Anything that doesn’t have an on/off switch. Because nothing will drive you to the brink of insanity like a toy that can’t be shut off.
  3. Anything that doesn’t have volume control. Yes, that singing Elsa doll is oh so cute and the little girl will be delighted. But after two weeks of hearing “Let It Go” belted out over and over and over at full blast, it will take everything within the parent’s power not to beat the every living crap out of the doll. If the volume can be lowered, such as LeapFrog’s Scout, the toy’s lifespan just got longer.
  4. Anything that requires special markers or paper to work. For example, Crayola’s Color Explosion Set. Sure, it’s cool. But it’s advertised as “this Crayola Color Explosion set offers kids endless surprising fun.” Guess what? It’s not bloody endless. It’s 18 pages and that’s it. For a 3-4 year old, that’s gone in perhaps 3-5 minutes. Then they ask for more, the parent is empty-handed, staring at a sobbing child. So if you must buy something like this (because it is cool!), include lots of extra paper or markers so that it’s not a bust within 10 minutes.
  5. Any toy that requires an internet access. There will be war within the household if the toy is a hit and the kid wants to take it everywhere where it just becomes useless. This is one that you really need to check with the parent on. If the child is old enough to understand internet access is not everywhere, then it’s OK. But if not, then the tantrums will be epic and endless.
  6. Check if the toy requires special batteries. Batteries that are beyond AA or AAA are a problem. God forbid the battery is CR2032. The parent will either spend an entire paycheck in Target getting what’s needed, or have to wait a month for a bulk shipment from China.
  7. Do not get a gift that is not age appropriate. Getting a 5-yr old a gift that is meant for an 8-yr old only means the parent has to constantly interact/explain the toy and eventually, it gets tossed aside by frustration.

TIPS:
Things you can do to make the parent love you –
1. If the toy requires batteries, bring them along too. Few things are as thoughtful as this gesture, no matter what the toy.
2. Check with the parent what the child is into. If he/she has a set of something (e.g. My Little Pony dolls), ask which one the child is missing and commit to the parent to buy that one missing piece. Then follow through.
3. If the gift requires assembly, make sure the necessary tools are included in the package. But still refer to #1 above.

So, what are your pet-peeves with your kid(s) Christmas gifts?