If You Give a Kid a Pickle...

By now you should all know my unhealthily love for McDonalds. Only because I document it far too often on Instagram....but all it took was one trip that taught me a lesson that I will forever be grateful for. Seriously, who goes to a fast food restaurant and thinks that they will leave with anything more than high cholesterol or extra pounds? πŸ˜‚  I know I didn't, but sometimes things happen in the most unusual ways.

My daughter orders the same thing every time we go to McDonalds. A plain cheeseburger (only pickles) Happy Meal with extra fries and a small strawberry smoothie. It is always a guessing game between us on how many pickles she will get on her sandwich because it always varies. My husband was with us for our weekly Mickey D's run and he was quickly corrected when he tried to change up her order! Haha he lives in a house with very verbal women....poor guy.

So, Rowan gets her Happy Meal, opens up her cheeseburger, and quickly looks to see how many pickles she got. She shouts out "ONE!" I said "What? You were cheated!" She replied and asked me what that meant, the word cheated. And there I was stuck trying to explain the meaning of the word cheated to my 4 year old. Rude awakening. My husband tried to chime in a help pick me up while I stumbled over finding words she would understand. Unfair, deprived, and then I finally resorted to telling her that she should have gotten more than what she got. Her innocence quickly fired back with a "Why Mom? They didn't cheated me, I got one pickle. And it's a really big one too." 

I know I know you all are thinking what the heck does this have to do with anything or who cares, but it was a stop me in my tracks moment and instantly made me change my thinking. Why? Because in that moment I was reminded that my actions and words are shaping this young girl into what she will become. Do I really want her going through life thinking she was cheated because someone didn't give her more pickles on her cheeseburger? I hope you understand my point and where my heart is on this issue. It's not about the pickles at all, it's about everything in life. Why do we feel like we are so mistreated when we don't get exactly what we want when we want it? Why aren't we just thankful that we got one pickle? I scrambled to reply to my daughter that she was so right and how silly that was of me to say! I told her she was so lucky because she got a pickle! Yes, I know we ordered it and so naturally it should be there but when it's not, how do you want your child to react? I want my daughter to eat her cheeseburger no matter what and not think anything of it, like oh well at least I have food. It is not life altering in any way. Or go home and put on your own pickle.

Maybe you are thinking to yourself that this is so dumb and why would you teach your child not to stand up for what she wants or orders? Because life is hard & unfair already, I don't want her to constantly find the bad in everything she does. She will be let down so many times I won't be able to save her every time, but I can teach her how to think differently about things and situations, just like she taught me in that McDonalds drive thru. 

I remember before I was a mother, there was this great debate about all participating children receiving trophies instead of just the winners. I am not here to debate what is right and wrong, but I grew up not getting anything if we didn't win, but that just pushed me to practice more, try harder and to be a better teammate so we could win something. Too many times these days we expect handouts from life and when they don't come, we fall into a mood where we feel like a failure. Trust me, I have felt like this a lot and especially now as a mother and a wife. It doesn't have to be something great and grand to teach your children important lessons in life, or I guess it applies to adults to in this case. I am constantly learning from her. The spirit of a child is so innocent and pure. The joy they have where they just can't walk into the store, they have to skip, jump or twirl the entire way there. The way they love is so raw. They really love with everything they have because they know no different. So the next time you are walking into Target and your child is holding your hand, yanking it in every direction because they are skipping, look down and smile and maybe start to skip with them. Or the next time the waiter forgets something, teach them to look for the positive or ask politely. Find good in every situation and use the failures to teach valuable lessons. I now smile and wait for her to tell me how many pickles she got on her sandwich, because I know she is going to be thrilled either way. Today she got one again....and one big one. 

Start to treat people with the type of love you want people to treat you or your child with. Trust me, love can and will change the world. XO

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Love your neighbors as yourself. There is no other commandment greater that these." Matthew 22 37-39

I am Nothing like the Mother I Wanted to be

Go back to the time before you had a child. Did you envision what your life would look like, the kind of mom you would turn out to be? Whether you wanted to be like your mom or nothing like her? You probably had at least one unrealistic expectation of becoming a mother. I did. Some days I am a rockstar and other days I ride the struggle bus.....all day long and I will be the first to admit it.

I had dreams of the perfect birth, the baby boy that I was going to have, his name, what things he would do as a child, and all of the cute things I would dress him in. I prayed and prayed for that child to come when I wanted it to. But prayer doesn't work like that, and it's a good thing it doesn't. I wanted to be just like my mom and have the kind of relationship with my child that we have today. It's like that fairytale life that doesn't exist except for in the movies, which forces us to believe that what we are living and doing is much less exciting or important. And a lot of the times we believe it.

I am a labor nurse (just not practicing) and I have watched hundreds of women give birth to babies and their expectations are sometimes shattered. It's reality. I had to take medication to get pregnant with my child and no one plans for that. Our bodies are supposed to know how to make babies right? Like everyone else can without issue. But no one likes talking to you about the difficult stuff, and if they do, it scares you into going to the crazy side where you then Google every scenario possible, then bawl. I was lucky enough to get pregnant, give birth via c-section, and now I am trying to keep this child alive on a daily basis.

I started reading books on how to properly bring up a child. I read the book, Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. After finishing the book I swore up and down I would never give my daughter snacks. HAHAHA right. I literally reached for every "right" way to parent and what was going to make me appear to be a "good mom". I had access to every thing possible during my pregnancy being the wife of an OBGYN physician . You know all of those ultrasounds where you could see your baby, their sweet facial expressions, and then find out the sex before anyone else can? Yeah well, my husband improperly informed me at 14 wks when he thought it was a boy on ultrasound, and I actually saw it too. Damn cord. Because at 19 weeks it was clearly not the vision I had imagined. A girl. What in the hell was I going to do with a girl? I didn't want that or know how to do that. I didn't want to raise a child who could potentially go through all of the pain and heartache I thought I had as a child, or the drama in school. I didn't want her to be like me. And on top of that, my stubborn little girl never showed me her face the entire time she was in my belly, not even once. She always had her hands by her face, the exact way she still sleeps to this day.

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I thank God every single day for ignoring my selfish behavior and blessing me with a daughter. I had no idea what I was missing out on, but she is everything I needed and more. I thought I would dress her to the nines and make sure that she didn't leave the house without looking her best. Don't get me wrong, she has nice things and I do try to make sure she is bathed, but she also has a personality that is much bigger than my attempts to "perfect" her. I thought I would be the controlling, bossy mom that wanted everything to be in line and orderly, but that all went out the window pretty quickly after she was born. I allow her to pick out her sometimes hideous outfits, I run errands with her in no shoes, and if the fight is too much to brush her hair.....it goes unbrushed. No one dies. I think I became the mom who was just trying to survive at some point. I know that some older moms reading this are laughing and wanting to tell me that it will all be ok. I know it will be. How can you even reason with a toddler or child? They believe the know everything and sometimes that is a good thing because it forces me take a step back and ask myself, does it really matter? More than one case, it doesn't. She knows how to use her manners, share with her friends, and she is kind. Isn't that considered some success?

It was against ALL of the rules to ever let your child sleep with you. Every parent and non-parent will advise you of the havoc it could have on your life. We had strict sleeping rules right up until 6 weeks of age, that's right, 6 weeks, then she became a permeant part of our bed. Still is, no matter how much I bribe her with a new room or a new bed. So now I enjoy a kick to the side and a slap in the face almost every night, but I wouldn't change it. I smell her sweet smell, I remember her breathing patterns, and I cherish that quiet time where I can thank God for her. Take it in because it doesn't last forever. She told my husband the other day she will get her own room when she is 18 

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I thought I would be the most organized mom, photos every 3 months, baby book all decked out in her biggest accomplishments, sort of like a brag book. But the reality is I finally just got her 4 year old photos taken and the last entry in her baby book was when she was........ONE 😬 I guess my focus wasn't on those things and still isn't. I hope one day she doesn't ask me why I never completed her baby book up to age 5 like it allows for, and my answer may just be that it doesn't matter that much. I enjoyed every milestone with her, watching her grow and I remember the most important memories without having to read her baby book. Just because I chose not to scrap book like Martha Stewart, doesn't make me less of a mom. I feel like we all sort of loose our focus when we try to do what we think is right or what society expects of us. What if we had no expectations for ourselves? Do you think we would and could be better parents? I am so unorganized that I am thankful her school is only 5 minutes from my house so when I forget to bring 7 cheerios in a snack baggie with a perfect little label on it, I can run home and throw something together. I thought I would magically acquire patience and understanding. I loose my patience so fast still and it is something I constantly work on, but it's because I have these unrealistic expectations of my toddler that she is to behave like an adult in public for fear of being judged by other people. I am learning to let go.

I thought I would be the healthy advocate or the mom who pushed her daughter to do the activities that I loved. I am neither. Honestly the thought of being so booked up with her activities gives me anxiety. Of course I will put her in whatever activity that she chooses to do or try, but there will be limits. My daughter is tall and skinny. She was born 4 weeks early and has been on her own curve since then. Despite my efforts to make her part of the "normal" curve, she just isn't. So when she wants to eat a cookie for breakfast, somedays that is what she gets and we frequent McDonalds way more than the average human should but who cares? In the grand scheme of things, these are not priorities, at least to me. It is ok if they are yours, I am the last person to judge anyone, I promise you that! But I do challenge you to take a step back and look at what your visions were for your life and as a mother, then compare them to where you are today. 

It's okay to have that "dream" busted. I think it's better that way. If I would have gotten the exact thing I thought I wanted, my life would not be what it is right now. I would not have the richness and the learning experiences that I have had. I have made PLENTY of mistakes but that is life. My daughter is happy and loved. That is really all I could ask for right now.I want you to go back through your photos of when your child or children were born, then follow them until you reach where they are today. iPhoto makes this extremely easy to do and when I did it, my heart was reminded of all of the love that I have in my life. Remember that time you expected something more than what you got? I guarantee looking back on it now, it doesn't even really matter in this present moment. Try it. Looking at my daughter now, it is impossible to ever think I would want her to be something different than she is right now. 

Happy Mother's Day. The greatest gift of all is LOVE 

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