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Wednesday, June 7, 2006
This past Sunday was a great day. I got sunburned, bitten by horse flies, dehydrated, and endured hours of intense physical activity that left me battered and bruised. In other words, we went rafting.
We being me, my son and my S.O., Dan, who is the owner of the raft. It was my idea to go, so I’ll take all the credit and the blame. We starting loading up all the stuff at 9:30 a.m. and by 10:30 we were on the road. Hauled it all up to Whitewater, then drove the truck and trailer back down to the Gunnison boat ramp by the DOE which come to find out is welded shut. But more about that idiotic happenstance later. Around noon we were actually on the water.
Soon we were all enjoying ourselves and the solitude of the river. Alex jumped into the inflatable kayak and after a few awkward attempts really got the hang of paddling it and maneuvering through little eddies and whitecaps. Being the nervous Nellie mom that I am, I kept asking if he needed something to drink, if he was too hot, if he was getting tired, did he want some sunscreen. Dan told me to leave the kid alone and assured me if he needed something he would ask for it. In other words, cut the apron strings.
Pretty soon we heard the sound of rushing water up ahead and knew there was fun to be had. By this time Dan was in the kayak and Alex was rowing the raft. I looked back at Dan and told him to get in the raft to get through the rapids. (Note: OK, they were not rapids, but extremely large boulders barely under water, and enough to make me a tad concerned about serious damage to the raft or its occupants.)
Dan had his back to us and I believe was purposely ignoring my request.
So it was Alex and me alone against the forces of nature. I had visions of being ship wrecked at sea for days and eaten alive by whatever lurked beneath the surface of the murky Gunnison River. I did what any reasonable mother would do and started shouting detailed technical instructions, “Look out for the rocks!?
Well you could have knocked me over with a Blue Heron feather with what happened next. My river rat son negotiated that boulder field like he•d been doing it for twenty years. He steered us right through and never hit a rock, kept the Doritos dry and whooped for joy the whole time! I was open-mouthed with amazement until a horse fly hit my tongue and I snapped my jaw shut.
“Wow! Alex, that was awesome. How did you know what to do??
•Mom, I’m not stupid.?
I already knew that, but it had nothing to do with surviving the •rapids.?
•He’s been listening.? said Dan who was now paying attention and had caught up to us in the kayak.
•You ignored me on purpose because you knew he could do it.? I accused.
No response except an •I told you so? smile.
I saw my son in a new light that moment. He was strong. He was capable. He could be counted on. He could row! The apron strings got a little looser, but they•ll never be completely cut.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
A while back, Margaret began to complain about a mysterious pain in her gut.
Being the kind of mom that I am, I noted her ailment then promptly ignored it.
She didn't seem sick. Oh, and it was bed time. So I was pretty skeptical. She didn't have a fever, cough, diarrhea or any other symptom, so I let it ride.
But she continued to moan about her gut for a couple more days.
She still played and ate and did all the things that she is known to do. Yet still she complained.
I called her doctor. He examined her and said that I had the right amount of concern and skepticism. But just to be sure, he scheduled an x-ray.
As we waited Margaret's turn to get x-rayed, I assured her that x-rays were painless and involved no kind of poking whatsoever.
She didn't believe me.
As we entered the x-ray room, she began to revert to her 1960s hippie-protestor persona. She went limp and refuted anything that was said in a loud, screechy tone.
The very calm and kind x-ray technicians explained that x-rays were painless. One technician said they were simply pictures and made the rookie mistake of asking, "Does it hurt to get your picture taken?'
"Yeeessss!" she bleated out like a wounded lamb.
They began to look worried. I began to get angry.
Firmly, I said, "Mar, you're getting an x-ray. Stand still." And she did and they clicked the x-ray.
She immediately looked relieved that we hadn't been feeding her a load of horse puckey and that she was, indeed, still intact.
She smiled and looked at me. "Why are you wearing that thing?" Margaret asked while pointing to the sky-blue lead apron I had donned so I could stand next to her while she underwent her ordeal.
Before I could answer, she brightly sang out, "It makes your boobs look huge."
The technicians laughed. I blushed. And Margaret beamed. She loves making people laugh ... even if it's at her mom's expense.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, June 5, 2006
First, we’d like to clarify that there is no such thing as a “non-working? mom. But we•ve taken the title of “working mom? to mean a mother who works outside the home.
We•ve each contributed to this entry as it’s such a compelling topic and, obviously, one with which we all can relate.
So here are our thoughts on being working moms:
Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’. Somethin’, somethin’ somethin’, it’s all takin’ and no givin’.
Dolly Parton made a great movie about the life of working women. But that’s Hollywood. This is real life.
I’ve been workin’ for a livin’ since I was 11-years-old. The money I made babysitting, waiting tables and working in the kitchen of a commune outside Woodstock put me through college with a very small loan at the end of it all. I tell you this because I think work is good. Work is your friend. We should all do work of some kind because there aren’t enough cardboard signs for everyone.
The only time since age eleven that I wasn’t employed was during the latter part of my pregnancy and for the first two years of my son’s life. I was blessed to be able to stay home with him for those first two years, and grateful that his dad paid the bills. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Staying at home raising your kid is hard work. It is often boring, lonely, exhausting, tedious and it’s the most rewarding time you’ll ever put in on planet Earth.
Eventually the time came for me to start bringing home the bacon again. That meant putting my toddler in daycare. The image I am left with is my son grabbing on to the side of the door as we walked in and screaming as if someone was ripping out his toenails. Of course, Miss Carol told me that by the time I made it to the parking lot he had forgotten all about me and was happily playing with the other abandoned children. Alex and I were lucky to have had great daycare. We owe many thanks to Miss Carol, Miss Rachel and grandma and grandpa.
I have a great job. In fact, I have two great jobs. My Monday through Friday and then some is at The Daily Sentinel where I’ve been happily employed for over seven years. My every other weekend more or less job is at Plum Creek Winery where I’ve been happily sipping with customers for a couple years. Both jobs are different, but alike in that they pay me cold, hard, cash to buy things like braces, sporting equipment, vacations, college and lots of other wants. The paychecks also take care of needs like a house, gas for the car, clothing and food.
I am very fortunate to work for a company that is family friendly. I wouldn’t — couldn’t — work here if that were not the case. Even with the flexibility to leave for doctor’s appointments, orthodontist appointments, parent-teacher conferences, sick calls from school and other such occasions, the guilt of being a working mom never leaves and after twelve years it hasn’t gotten any easier to deal with.
It’s a constant, nagging worry that sits on my shoulder all day. The little voice inside my head that asks, “Why am I not at home with my kid? Why am I not making cookies instead of buying them for the class party? How am I going to juggle the work I need to do today, shop for groceries, make a decent dinner, clean up, run off to practice/school activity/insert one of a hundred things here and then get home, put a load of laundry in, nag about homework, insist on a shower and a reasonable bedtime?? And let•s not forget the volunteer time I put in, too.
I’m not bitching or bragging, and I have never asked for a pity party. (However, if you want to throw me one, I’ll bring the beer.) But I gotta tell ya being a working, single mom is damn hard, and I think I’ve done a pretty stellar job of juggling it all. My kid is healthy and as happy as a 14-year-old ever is. We have all our needs and the majority of our wants taken care of. He’ll have money in the bank for college, and I’ll have some left for a hopefully long and happy retirement.
And you know what I’ve discovered? A lot of the stay-at-home moms bring store bought cookies to the class party.
Making parenting decisions is hard but defending those decisions is even harder.
At times I feel as though all womanly eyes are casting a scowl of scrutiny my way. I feel as though my decisions are being analyzed, questioned, then spat in hissing whispers behind my back.
Worse yet, point blank statements make me the center of timeless debates and often times, outdated unsolicited advice.
Examples include: cloth diapers: “why would you want to use them??; cradle cap: •you should give him a bath more often? and breastfeeding: •I think he’s just hungry?.
The worst of which is, •Are you going to work??
This is a loaded question. There is no •right? answer.
If I say •yes?, then I•m selfish. I must not care if “other people raise my children.? I must not really love my son if I could leave him for eight hours a day in the hands of a probable child molesting caregiver. These are paraphrases of actual things that have been said to me.
If I say •no? then I•m a free-loading gold digger who just has children because I’m too lazy to do anything else. Homemaker is not a title that commands respect.
I usually answer yes to this question followed by a blanket statement like: “We need the insurance? or •I like my job.? Sometimes, when I just don•t want to deal with it, I say “I don’t know? and just walk away. Yeah, I•m like that.
The truth is I never considered not working for a lot reasons. I really do like my job. I’ve seen lots of successful women who combine work and family. I’ve always worked and really don’t think that staying home would be enough for me to feel satisfied. I put myself through college so that I could stand on my own two feet independently. I have a student loan. I like the sense of equality it brings to my marriage. I’d like to retire. I’d like to go to Disneyland. I want more kids and I’d like to feed them without tapping the taxpayer. I like having a car and a house.
Often, my blanket comment is rebuked with a high pitched sarcastic, “It must be nice.?
(Note to everyone: Don•t ever say this to me. I think people who use this phrase are idiots.)
Know what? It IS nice to have a car and a house. AND, there’s nothing wrong with both parents earning an honest living for their family. We work hard for what we have and sometimes our choices do bring us NICE things.
My baby is not being “raised by someone else.? He•s never been away from me for longer than 4 hours since his birth. He’s not left with a babysitter at any other time then while I’m working. He’s taken care of by family.
I feel as though my priorities have never been straighter. My son and husband are at the top of the list. Working helps my household pay the bills and I make it a point to spend quality time everyday with them.
I know working is not the “right? decision for everyone, but it•s “right? for us right now.
Back before I had kids, I thought that when the time came to start a family, I would stay home with the kids (I also thought my kid would never take a bottle, pacifier, wear disposable diapers or eat canned baby food • yeah, I didn’t know squat).
But then I had Margaret and I realized that nothing that I had thought I wanted was going to happen in this reality.
I was working full-time when I became pregnant. Bills had to be paid and we had to eat. I had to work.
After Mar was born, I went back to work at a previous job for a while. I quit when Mar was about 9 months old. I stayed home until I came to work at The Daily Sentinel when she was 18 months old.
I was glad to have the time with my baby and I will never regret that time. It was wonderful … for the most part. But the part that wasn’t wonderful was truly awful.
We couldn’t afford for me not to work. Every month I grew more and more depressed as we went further and further into debt. It felt horrible.
I felt stuck and helpless. My husband was working as much as he possibly could so we could pay the mortgage and feed ourselves. I never saw him and when he was home, he was exhausted.
It was no way to live. So we made a change and I came to work for The Daily Sentinel.
It was hard taking my toddler to daycare knowing that she was going to be spending her days without me. Comments like, “it must be hard to leave your baby for someone else to raise? rang out in my mind.
I felt guilty.
But a funny thing happened •& Margaret thrived in daycare. Our daycare lady was wonderful. Mar still calls her Gramma Julia. We are forever indebted to her. She potty trained Mar, kept her on a great schedule that included naps and loved her. It was wonderful.
Margaret got to play with kids her own age in a postive environment.
Then she went to pre-school. We made a good selection and Mar was in another great environment where she was prepared for kindergarten and received all the stimulation that a growing pre-schooler needs.
I couldn’t have done for Margaret what they did for her.
I no longer feel guilty. I made the right choice for my family.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, June 2, 2006
"Please talk in a normal voice," I remind Margaret.
"This is my normal voice," she squeeks out in a tone that is so whinny that only dogs can hear it.
Oh, how I loathe it.
She whines when she doesn't get what she wants, when she has to do something she doesn't want or sometimes just because it's what 5-year-olds do to make sure there is no peace in the valley.
Sometimes the good mom in me remembers that I should not get flustered and give the whine no audience. Sometimes the bad mom in me completely freaks out when I hear the whine.
The whine is powerful, but it can be combatted ... or so I hope.
Whenever the good-mom is more present than the bad, I remind her gently, without frustration, that whinning gets her nowhere and that she should take a moment to gather herself and attempt communication on a level that doesn't make her mom's ears bleed.
She's actually come around to this fact. Of course, it has helped that she went to a wonderful preschool and kindergarten where self-control was an important goal.
I really believe that it does take a village and that by surrounding my kid with positive, loving influences, she's growing into a person that takes stock of her attitude and realizes that you catch more candy if you leave the whine behind.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Want to see your child here? E-mail pictures to Robin Dearing.
with her buddy Sid.
, age 10
, age 7
Here's a photo of Jack
(1). Although he lives in California, his mom loves the Haute Mamas blog!
are originally from Fullerton, California, moving here in November of 2004. They love their new home, new school, new teachers and new friends. Thanks Grand Junction for welcoming us to our new home!!!
Here is an older picture of my two children - John & Emily
. John still has all his teeth (he's lost 7 of them since then) and Emily is the adoring little sister.
, age 10
This is a picture of Ashlyee Smolha
. Dore's kid. She is almost 15 years
old. Keep your kids young because they think they are much older than they
This is Veronica
, and she hangs out with her momma, Ann Marie, and her Aunt Peggy in Flagstaff, AZ.
, age 6
, age 4
, 4-1/2 years old.
's almost 1!
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Ahhh, the joys of JUCO. My son loves going to JUCO games.
Which is pretty odd since he hates baseball. He makes no bones about saying just how much he hates it, at every chance he gets, including sitting next to me and my S.O. in the stands.
“Baseball is gay. Baseball players are people who can’t play any other sport. Baseball shouldn’t even be called a sport.? Now, I•m the first to admit that I think watching baseball ranks only slightly above golf on the boredom scale. At least baseball players have some athletic ability. Most golfers do not. That’s why golf shirts are stretchy. But I digress.
So, my son’s mostly best friend called him last Monday and told him to meet him at JUCO. I had a meeting to attend that evening so I told Alex I would drop him off. As we’re pulling into the parking lot, Alex called his buddy to find out where he was in the stadium, and if the previous game was over yet. His bud didn’t know if a game was still going on. Being the patient person that I am, I took the phone and asked if there were players on the field.
“Ummm, I don’t know.?
•Whudayamean, you don’t know? Look out on the field and see.?
•Ummm, okay, hold on, I’ll go up there and look.?
Now I•ve never really been accused of being naïve, but it would have been a completely fair accusation at that point. I actually thought a 14-year-old would be sitting in the stands watching the game, would be able to see the field and would know whether or not there was a game on. Holy wake up call!
I was about to let my precious baby slither off into the twilight and enter the misty, murky nether world known as “Under the Bleachers???!! There is no good that could come from that! Evil teenage girls flaunting bellies, boobs and come-hither smiles? Disheveled teenage boys with pockets full of marijuana, Jack Daniels and condoms?
Oh wait, that was my adolescence.
At any rate, I was double parked in the VIP zone, and late for my meeting. •Alex,? I said in my I•m serious about this
voice, “I expect you to behave like a gentleman. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if I were there to see it.? A nun once told me that. Maybe it would work on him.
I fetched him promptly at 10:00 p.m., and he was in one piece, apparently unharmed by the evil teenage girls. I detected no suspicious aromas about his person. So as punishment for having done nothing wrong I dragged him up to the press box where together we enjoyed a bird•s eye view of the fireworks. (Thanks Patti!)
He wants to go to JUCO again this evening. There is no point in reminding him how much he hates that gay game. He won’t be anywhere close to where he can see it.
P.S. Hey boss, if you're reading this, I was just kidding about the golf thing.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I haven’t slept in four months. I don’t mean this in any other way than a literal one. The last full night of sleep I had was on Feb. 4.
My baby goes to bed at 10 p.m., sleeps until somewhere between 2 and 3 a.m., eats, sleeps again until about 5 a.m. At that time, he sleeps in our bed for an hour. That’s on a good night and the variations are endless.
I find myself fantasizing about the day I will sleep again. (Sigh).
The other night I had the stomach flu and was in desperate need of every second of sleep humanly possible. Somewhere in the wee morning hours, I completed the routine feeding, diaper change, and cuddle before I laid myself back down. Just as my brain drifted off, I was snapped back to attention by a sad little whimper.
I lay there and sighed. I just didn’t have the energy to walk the 25 feet to the nursery. I silently begged him to fall asleep. “Please soothe yourself…please soothe yourself? I chanted.
His whimper was growing into a more demanding cry and still I lay there. •Maybe your dad will wake up?? I listened to my husband•s deeply sleeping breath beside me.
Then with a final thump of his little legs on the mattress, it went quiet. “Uh Oh. Is that good? Is he okay? Maybe this Ferber guy knows what he’s talking about? But, what if he’s suffocating??
I dragged my tired sick self across the hall and discovered him sleeping peacefully. My prayers had been answered at least until the next round of care taking began, which reoccurred 1 hour and 41 minutes later.
Should I let my baby cry himself to sleep? At what point is it neglect? And when is it okay to put my own needs on equal level with that of my family?
There are a baffling number of books on the subject. Ferberhttp://www.babycenter.com/refcap/7755.html
himself made an appearance in the news last week stating that letting your baby cry himself to sleep was an extreme method.
Co-sleeping doesn•t work for us. Daddy sleeps like the dead and sometimes flails like a fish. And mommy suffers from paranoia and sees the word suffocation and SIDS flash before her eyes on a regular basis.
Any suggestions? (I literally just yawned.)
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I would like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to all the single parents out there.
I forget how easy I've got it until my husband goes out of town.
I depend on Bill for so much. He does all the cooking, lawn care, auto maintenance and he removes the bird and praying mantis carcasses that the cats drag in (just last week my neighbor had to extricate a mangled starling body from my bath tub — yick!).
This past week and a half, I 've been flying the parenting plane solo.
Believe me, I am not looking for sympathy. I know there are numerous single parents out there who do this every day without complaint or recognition.
But I have learned a lot about myself and my daughter.
I learned that I can survive sans Bill despite my claims at being completely inept and in need of constant adult supervision.
This past week was incredibly hectic with the end of the school year and Mar's kindergarten graduation. We've had to get up earlier than usual (normally Mar is barely out of bed by the time I leave for work) and get ourselves fed, dressed and out the door before my head explodes from the thought that we might be late — which we never were.
I learned that Margaret is adaptable. While she is tired when she gets out of bed, she'll eat and get herself dressed with only random prodding from me. After her hair is combed (which is so much easier now that we've cut it — she hasn't cried once) and teeth are brushed, she hurries to the car to be the first one buckled into her seatbelt.
I learned that I'm more organized and am more apt to actually clean the house than sit on the sofa (which is not nearly as inviting without a husband to snuggle up next to).
I've learned that I'm adaptable, too. I can cope with the daily trials and tribulations of parenting solo and that it's OK to ask our friends and neighbors for help (like when there's a gnarled bird in the tub).
But most of all, I've learned that Mar and I get along just fine together. We've been enjoying this time together and for that I'm truly thankful.
But not nearly as thankful as I am that my time as a solo flier is just about over.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Alice Cooper could not possibly have had a 14-year-old in the house when he extolled the virtues of summer vacation in the song “School’s Out?. It•s the only song from the ancient era of rock-and-roll to which my kid knows any of the words. Every year, without fail, he belts it out at the top of his lungs, accompanied by his mother. “Schoooool’s out for sum-mah! Schoooool’s out for-evah!? It•s enough to send chills up and down your spine for so many reasons.
Alex graduated from middle school on Wednesday. I snuck in to watch the all-school assembly in the gym that morning. (Snuck in because ohmigod, how dreadful for your mother to actually show her face in public at the same event.) I got there in time to hear my son’s name called for the Rocky Mountain Talent Search honor roll, and receive the President’s Award for Academic Excellence, along with a whole bunch of other kids. Pretty cool, and I was darn proud of him. My son is smart. Academically gifted and talented is the politically correct phrase I guess. And if he went the extra mile, he would be border-line-freaking-genius. Alex will be going to Palisade High School for the International Baccalaureate program where he will hopefully earn enough credits to skip a whole year of college. But we’ll give that a rest until August 21, the first day of the new school year. Eighty-six days from now. Yes, I counted.
What does one do with a 14 year-old for that long while his mom is at work? I have a strict nobody-in-the-house-without-my-permission-while-I’m-not-home rule. My intent is to avoid a lot of trouble and possibly jail time some day. So, he’s too young to get a real job, too young to drive to it anyways, too old for most camps, and too hormonal to leave alone all day. To his credit he has a couple steady lawn mowing jobs lined up and he baby sits too. Thus far, he’s signed up for lacrosse camp in Denver for a week, and a week or two at dad’s. Would it be wrong the rest of the time to lock him in a closet with food and water? Okay, maybe so. But I’ve heard it’s been done.
Truth be told, I would love to take Alex on vacation somewhere this summer. I offered up Caribbean cruises, trips to the beach in Mexico, a summer cottage in Cape Cod and even a week at a dude ranch. “With just you? Can I take a friend?? seems to be the only response. •Mom, nothing personal, but you don’t know what it’s like to go on vacation with just your mother.? He•s right. We piled two parents and six kids in a station wagon and drove across three states in July with no air conditioning. Poor kid is missing out on that adventure.
So for now, we’ll swap sleepovers, burn through some serious cash at GJ Scores, take my chances at having him become a mall maggot, risk sunburn with long days at the pool, dust off the racket for tennis lessons and count down the days. Because in spite of what Alice says, school can’t really be out for-evah.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, May 26, 2006
The breast vs. the bottle is the great debate among generations of mothers.
(Warning: I’m going to use the word breast a lot so if you find it offensive stop reading for Pete’s sake)
I personally am breastfeeding, but I must admit that I don’t always find the joy that other mom’s rave about. I just know that it is better for my son because it is the natural thing to do and the milk itself is superior to any manufactured product. It just seems to be an obvious fact. In my head, I think of formula the same way I think about bologna; processed food is just bad for us.
Breastfeeding itself is a lot of work, not to mention time-consuming. My family’s schedule revolves entirely around my breasts, which is probably the reason I don’t find it completely enjoyable.
While I’m sitting, there is laundry building up, dinner not being fixed, petunias withering in the sun….I’m a “get er done? kind of person so sitting is just torturous to me.
It got harder once I returned to work.
When I leave I have to take a bottle, my pump, and a backup supply of frozen milk in case of emergency.
I used to eat at lunch, now I feed. After feeding, I pump so babycakes can have an afternoon snack.
I can•t work late or deviate from this schedule in the slightest as my chest will hurt. And, deviating from the schedule will lessen my milk supply. As soon as I get home, I must feed him.
And, it places the sole responsibility for his nutrition on me. His dad can’t really do much to ease the pressure I feel of being the udder (ha ha)
food giver because once again,—a missed feeding effects the milk supply.
I understand why some women give up and choose formula and that’s okay with me. I am in no way a militant breastfeeder. (They are out there though, just google “breastfeeding pictures? and see the results. Some take the issue to a whole new creepy level•&WOW!)
The best part about breastfeeding is just being needed I think. My son is comforted and loved by my breasts. I’ve been forced to slow down, ease up on expectations I place on myself, and just enjoy large blocks of private time with Soren.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment to your child. One I’ve taken on happily for the most part, but loathe for its inconvenience at times.
Everyone’s experience is different and I’d be happy to compare notes if others would share their stories here as well.