Hunting and Gathering

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You know the adage from when you were a kid…

Sticks and stones may break my bones,

But names will never break me.

Totally not true. First, I understand where Alexander Kinglake, the originator of the little ditty, was coming from. It’s healthy for kids to know they do not need to take on the labels given to them by other kids. That saying is basically a great anti-bullying campaign from 1862.

Honestly, words do break us. How we talk to ourselves can definitely move us or keep us stuck. Words have strength.

It’s only taken me about two decades of my adult life to come to this awareness. Like the kind of awareness that causes me to change the words I choose. Specifically my inner dialogue. Half the stuff I say to myself I’d never say to others. I am practicing changing this behavior, as I spend my days nurturing people.

For example, I really don’t like most domestic responsibility that comes with owning a home or raising kids. I do like owning a home and I do like raising kids, therefore the responsibilities aren’t going away. The way I talk about those responsibilities can go away.

Recently I started flipping my mindset about the things I do on the regular. The change in my attitude and behavior was pretty much immediate.

Here’s a few of my mental flips:

I have to clean my house. → I’m giving my house some love.

I need to run errands. → I’m hunting and gathering.

I’m doing laundry. → I’m cleaning clothes.

Going grocery shopping. → Going to gather food to share.

The above list is hyper focused on the Mundane Life Chores. I noticed how being aware of the time it takes me to do certain MLCs changes my vibe towards the chore.

I had fun timing myself doing things like:

Emptying the dishwasher: 10 min (felt like 30 min)

Cleaning three bathrooms: 25 min (felt like 45)

Folding laundry: 10 min (felt like eternity)

Oh, and my husband is a stellar partner who does his own laundry. He also empties the dishwasher, takes out the trash and will grocery shop on request. So, I’m not over here solo hustling as a housewife. He was the one who encouraged me to be more honest about the amount of time it actually takes to do little things. He’s a smart dude, and a killer cook.

I’m still working on more inner thought overhauls and usually it’s in in the moment of catching a thought then flipping it.

I choose to change the words and what follows is a heart change; a changed attitude. This is the stuff of life, it’s not going away. So, I’ll just play with the words and be realistic about the time until we all get along.

Today I clicked the belts on my kids’ car seats and backed out of the driveway excitedly saying, “We’re going hunting and gathering!”

We went to Target and Aldi, hunted for goods and gathered them up to bring home. It was an urban adventure in a modern lifestyle. There were no sticks and stones, and my words didn’t break me. Not this time.

What are some ways you change-up the way you think about the daily stuff of life?

Co-momming and Grocery Shopping

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I was reclining in the chair, at the dentist, a drill was grading away at my tooth when I realized that I was way more relaxed in that moment than when I’m pushing a cart filled with groceries and two kids. It was so relaxing to just lounge there and not do anything. I don’t know if this was a great realization or a tragic one.

I remember that first grocery trip as a mom of two, and I still get sweaty palms just thinking back on it. There’s so many decisions to make while picking out groceries. Then there’s the crowd of other casual shoppers sans kids who seems to be in a totally different minds space. The cart is never big enough for two small people and all the food. Someone will need to use the bathroom or eat or both. One or both kids will lick the cart or grab items off the shelf, most likely both will happen. Both are annoying, one is gross.

When my friend Helena told me she was deciding between going grocery shopping with her newborn and toddler, or to the park I let her know I needed to go grocery shopping too! With slight hesitation, I suggested we go shopping together, then take the kids to the park. I hesitated because it never occurred to me to invite another mom to go grocery shopping. What’s the worse that could happen?

Evidently this invite was exactly what we both needed in our lives. We met up to shop like two co-workers showing up for a meeting. We planned our route through the store and set our expectations about how we’ll split up and then meet up, but we’d never hesitate to text for backup.  Just knowing we were in this together, even though sometimes in separate aisles helped calm our minds. It was not perfect, but it was wonderful.

We are co-laborers, co-workers, co-mommers. Why not meet up to do the hard things together? Even if “hard” gets redefined to all the normal stuff we did pre-kids. I remember strolling through my prefered grocer on a Saturday when I wasn’t a mom, and taking my time. I didn’t love it then, but I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t hard. It was a function. Now it’s hard and a function of survival. I haven’t researched this, but I’m pretty sure groups did not go hunting and gathering alone. So why go grocery shopping alone?

In multi-family homes, 70% of people grocery shoppers are women.  I must share that Tyler is an awesome grocery shopper and does lots of weekly trips for us. I love when he comes home with extra fun stuff to eat. His bounty actually represents his enjoyment for grocery shopping. Mine is all form and function. Anyway, back to moms and shopping with kids, each time I pass a mom with young kids in a cart I stop myself from high-fiving her. Next time I should, and I should recommend that she calls her friend to meet up in aisle nine.

Helena and I shopped for about 40 minutes, which evidently is two minutes below the average time women take to grocery shop, and within that time between the two of us there was one potty break, two crying kids, and two snack times. At one point I lost Helena and she wasn’t answering her texts. I didn’t panic. I just kept strolling on like Pete The Cat.  Then I found her sitting in an Adirondack chair.  Not a complimentary chair for nursing moms, but for sale chair in the outdoor aisle. She wasn’t testing to buy, she was nursing her newborn. Her toddler was swiping through family photos on her iPhone. We just rolled into the scene like cool cats and began chatting. My son chatted with her son and me with Helena. I was baby wearing, she was baby feeding and we had each other’s back. We decided our hunting and gathering was done for the day and it was time to check-out and get to the playground.

That was a success co-momming meeting. I’d do that again. Thanks, Helena. You’re the best.

P.S. Women do 51% of the grocery shopping But when was the last time you were at a grocery store and saw a mommy & child space complete with a nursing area and some crayons and coloring books for big sister or brother?  The average shopping time of 41 minutes for women, that’s not saying with or without kids, is a long time for little minds and bellies. Maybe there can be a change in the grocery store experience for moms with kids? For now, invite your friend.

| photo credit Prawny via Pixabay |

Trust Yourself

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I’m a member of a few moms groups. Love them!  We talk about stuff that makes us better moms. Like, what to do when your toddler sticks his hands down his pants in public, or how to get nail polish off your walls, or when and how to sneak vegetables into your toddler’s meals, or recommendations on a good counselor for depression/anxiety, which I call “adjusting to the new normal”.   These are things that are helpful. Then, there is the stuff that isn’t so helpful.

Feeding Fears

It’s the stuff that new moms let get to them. How should my kid react to large groups of people or should my kid be spending more time with board books and less time with music or is it the other way around? Should I spend more time imagining with my kid because I work full-time? Who’s scared of the [fill in the blank], and what will you do if your kid has it/does it/misses it?

A Fire Pit of Shoulds and What Ifs

As a mom you’ve been given a huge responsibility without any prior experience. Most working professionals wouldn’t make it past the first ninety days if they were given your role without any training, and that’s what parenting is: a crash course with the real tiny person. Nobody else was given your role, and they don’t have your kid, you do. That’s the way it’s meant to be, and that’s why “ifs and shoulds” need to go up in flames.

The questions of doubt typically starts with the words “What if?” and/or “Should I?”. These words need to leave our thoughts because I think they are corrupting our freedom as parents. All the moms can stand around the crackling fire on a crisp fall evening, while their kids are home with a babysitter who isn’t charging for that night.  Everyone will have a glass of wine, beer or bourbon while watching those ifs, shoulds, and doubts go up in a blaze.

Then, just for the heck of it, moms will look across the flames and speak words of encourage to each other.  They’ll say things like, “You’re doing the best you can and that’s what your kid needs!”, and “I’m not giving you permission to compare your parenting style to my parenting style…want another glass of Merlot?”, and “I promise not to give advice unless you ask for it, and it can’t begin with ‘should I be…'”.

Go With Your Intuition

Let your intuition guide you. Read a few things here and there, but don’t take them as fact. Except that stuff about not feeding honey to your kid before one year. That’s a fact. But most of the other things about parenting are about your best attempt. “Try” without fearing, without should-ing, and without what-if-ing.

Be In Community

It is so important to be in a community of moms to learn with and shoot the shit about all the shit you clean up. But, please moms, I beg of you to trust yourself. Your little person, whom you have an emotion for that words can’t describe, is learning to trust. When you trust yourself your kid will trust you, and that is the beginning of something grand.

Cheers to Trusting

I’ve been a mom for almost two years, which feels at times like twenty years or ninety days depending on the day or my caffeine intake. At the exact moment I held my little boy I felt something I still can’t put it into words, but that feeling is what makes me connected to my son and the perfect mom for his personhood. And, for that, I choose to trust myself.

Go ahead, choose to trust yourself and embrace the journey of trying. Cheers to that!

| photo credit LuciaGrosse via Pixabay |

 

Moms Are Visionaries

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I was starting my fourth load of laundry on the Monday after Christmas holiday. There was no food in my house. Correction— my pantry looked like the crackers and chip aisle at my grocery store got together and had a carbohydrate baby. Unknown to me, we ended up with all the loot (chips, chocolate, pound cake, crackers, gold fish, more chips) leftover from our family’s holiday vacation. Also, my refrigerator looked like a science project and earlier that morning I had tossed everything.

On my agenda for the first week of the new year: laundry, grocery shopping, pick up the dog from the boarder, more laundry and put away all the presents, unpack luggage, clean up after the cat. Drink wine while making dinner (that’s my favorite).

Can we all give a big shout-out to glamorous! G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

Kidding. I never have been a girl that likes glamour anyway. Lucky for me!

So, with my head in the dryer searching for the other 18-24 month sized sock I had this thought: Moms must be visionaries.

A visionary is someone with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

When was the last time you had an original idea or made time to think beyond the next thing on your list?

Original thoughts about where you are going will only help you lead your kids. And kids need leaders. They need you to dream big and show them the trail to explore on. Okay, since I just teased a woods metaphor, let’s go there for a moment…

Bullets on your “To Do List” are just trees in a really beautiful forest. Don’t get lost in the trees. Find a trail, or even better, blaze a trail with your kids as your helpers. Tell them your visions and dreams and invite them onto that path. Eventually they will learn from you how to make their own trails through the woods, navigating through the trees—exploring.

My little boy will only be wearing a size 18-24 month old sock for a few weeks longer. I’ll only be eating chips and crackers until spring. Dinner will always (usually) need to be served, but thank God for wine and my own kitchen—my point is this:

Being a mom is equal parts daily-stuff and vision casting. Don’t get stuck in the next bullet point on your list. It’s our privilege to continually look ahead and lead, while balancing the daily. This is the gifting of a mother. And, for the love of sanity, let go of glamour and hold onto original.

| photo credit Prawny via Pixabay |