Hindsight Parenting: Meet Your Child Where They Are

Who She Is Is Just Fine With Me

When our children encounter difficulties, when they run into brick walls or have a problem that needs to be solved, we need to meet them where they are, help them grow with what they already have in a way that they can.

I have been working against my daughter, Ila, under the guise of “improvement” and the misguided statement “she must be able to do such and such in order to be successful.” I have been working against her, which in turn has been sending her a message that she is not good enough just the way she is, which, of course, is not a message I want to send her at all.

Confused?  Let me give you an instance:  Ila gets anxiety everyday before going into her kindergarten class.  When the door opens, and the teacher steps out, she buries her face into my legs, or if I am squatting down at her level she grips my hair or scarf with a vice-like hold.  I have to peel her off me by prying her fingers open and kind of giving her a loving pat on the bottom towards the classroom while her chin quivers as if I am torturing her. This, as you can imagine, is agonizing each day, and so I decided that as her mom, I needed to “right” it, fix it, and make it so the anxiety was gone.  I decided to start with a good heart to heart conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: The Great Balancing Act of Relationships

Positive reinforcement means longer living relationships

Some believe that the relationships you have with your children are the only “required” relationships, in that one must keep working on them for the rest of their lives. They are the only ones we’re not allowed to give up on. Some believe that parenting is a constant try and re-try. Some believe that a good parent is constantly evolving so that the connections we have with our sons and daughters remain strong.

I disagree. Not with the sentiment that as a parent we must work and work each day at the relationships that we have with our children. Not even with the idea that we shouldn’t give up on or break up (so to speak) with our children. Hindsight has taught me that our connections with them must remain the most important things that we hold on to as parents. As a parent, I do believe these things to be true.

What I don’t believe is the statement that your children are the ONLY relationships that one isn’t allowed to let go. I believe that marriage, one’s relationship with your child’s parent, also needs to be a priority and should be a relationship that we not only nurture, but hold on to, cherish, and work on, work on, work on. Now of course that isn’t to say that there aren’t toxic relationships; abusive, detrimental or one-sided that must be let go of immediately. But the OTHER kind of marriage; the-leave-the-toilet-seat-up-beer-cans-in-the-living-room-sticky-jelly-on-the-cutting-board-stop-yelling-at-me-did-you-just-flirt-with-that-waitress?-can-we-do-something-besides-watch-tv kind of marriage must not be given up on. I believe that like the relationship you have with your children, a marriage should be a perseverance for the long haul. Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Stepping Out of Motherhood and into Yourself

The Woman in Me…

When I mothered my sons, I was consumed by it. It was my job, my calling, my duty. I let everything else go. I became mired down in the details, in doing things right and doing things wrong. Their mistakes were my mistakes. Their mountains were my mountains. Their triumphs were my triumphs. Their sadness, their anger, their tragedies; all mine. I was their mother and that is all. I lost myself. Logan the singer was gone. Logan the writer hadn’t been born. Logan the academic hid her opinions and quest for knowledge. Logan the reader only showed up on a beach in the summer for 30 minutes while the boys were securely and happily playing with their step father. I didn’t even USE my own name. When I spoke it was in the third person. “Mommy will get you a drink.” “Don’t forget, mommy will pick you up at 5.” “Mommy was so proud when you hit that homerun.” The woman in me wanted…longed for SOMETHING, but I thought it was a betrayal to my sons to go out and chase “my dreams.” When I had a chance to work as a staff developer for Columbia Teacher’s College, I turned it down. I couldn’t possibly uproot my boys. When someone asked me to join the community musical and try out for a lead role, I scoffed at the idea. Too much time away from my sons. Who would make them dinner. Who would make sure they did their homework. Who would intervene when the vitriol started between them. I played it safe. I was just their mom, and that’s all they ever saw me as–their mom. As my sons grew, I began to look forward to the day where they didn’t need a mommy as much and perhaps I’d be able to become the woman that was tucked away because of and overruled by the mother in me.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Life: Memories That Make a Life

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

The Only Memory That Matters

May is the essence of all my lovely childhood springs…

May is the essence of all my lovely childhood springs. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know at the time that the month was actually May but, in hindsight, it must have been, because the high school band could be heard practicing their marching music in the distance for the Norwegian Syttende Mai parade—a major annual event in my small, Midwestern hometown. My mother opened all the windows and let the warmish springtime breeze drift in along with the band. I remember the sheer, white curtains billowing around her as my mom took down the heavier winter drapes. I remember our enormous crabapple tree heavy with pink blossoms. I remember eating my Chef Boyardee Ravioli out of an orange plastic bowl, while sunning my newly rediscovered knees on the back steps. In my memory, I often ate my lunch on those back steps, but did I? Am I recalling one day in May that somehow got changed in my memory to a lifetime of May days focused on my knees? One thing I know for sure is that apple tree has grown a lot from then until now. Maybe my memory of May has grown in proportion to that tree. Details lost in remembering? Read on

Hindsight Parenting: Parenting An Adult

Give and Take: Parenting An Adult

Son1 is twenty, and it’s no secret that in many ways I bumbled and fumbled my way through raising him. Just as it’s no secret that I use those bumbles and fumbles to guide my parenting decisions for his four year old sister, Ila. Looking BACK has made it easy to move FORWARD…but parenting an adult…well…once again, I find myself in unchartered territory. When it comes to knowing what’s appropriate and not appropriate, what actions stay behind the imaginary line and what actions step over that line, I have no experiences to lean on. And so, I will admit, that I’ve been a bit nervous. I mean, he was a guinea pig once. I don’t want him to be one again.

But believe it or not Hindsight’s wisdom DOES provide me a road map. After all, the things that make up good parenting at four, probably make up good parenting at any age. So lately, I decided to try this theory out. Could I transfer my new parenting truths when it comes to Ila and make them parenting truths for my 20 year old? This is what I came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: When Your Child Loves Your Spouse More Than You

I Love Daddy More!

Ila’s chin quivered as I undid her car seat buckle after school a week ago.

“Is daddy home?”  She asked.

“No, sweetie, he’s working,” I replied gently.

And then…the saddest cry in all humanity came from the depths of her.  Tears swelled and cascaded down her tiny face.  She cried hard…her-little-mouth-opening-with-no-sound-coming-out hard.  I scooped her up and asked, “Sweetheart, what is the matter?” Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Anger, Quarrels & Love

Anger: The Unvarnished Truth

We had the blowout of the century last week, my husband and I.  The blowout of the century.  The topic isn’t as important as the pure seething vitriol that came from both our mouths, flung at each other with all the might we could muster.  It was a horrific display of the worst of our humanness.  I had had it.  He had had it.  For weeks the blood boiled in both of us and reached the point where the pressure cooker burst–burst wide open.  It was late at night.  The dog was sleeping.  The cat was sleeping.   Ila was sleeping…or so I thought.

The next morning, we both did our best to paste a shiny smile on our faces so that she wouldn’t suspect that our feelings for each other at that moment were less than fond (to put it mildly).  Although I didn’t notice then (shame on me) looking back now, Ila was very quiet that morning. She moved through the routine as if she was walking through molasses.  The car ride to school wasn’t full of top-of-her-lungs “Frozen” songs and she was shy and clingy when it was time for me to leave her in her classroom.  That afternoon, after picking her up, her tiny voice cut through the silence and pulled me from my very busy mind.  “Mommy, why aren’t you married to Aidan’s daddy anymore?” Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: When Little Boys Grow Up

Not Nurse Nightengale

When Son1 was 17 he had the brilliant idea that he wanted a three person sling shot. It was made out of high tech stretchable exercise bands and was made to launch water balloons at “friends.” I immediately said no to the ludicrous idea knowing full well it wouldn’t be just water balloons that he and his friends would be launching…Nuh uh. I knew my son well enough to know that there would be lots of mischief making with a toy like that. Not surprisingly however, his father DID purchase it for him and my super mom senses were correct that he would choose to use said toy in a way that was NOT recommended…yup…that one fateful day in which he decided to put a potato in the harness that was meant for a water balloon. Yes, I said a potato.

So…picture this if you please… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Whining Monster vs. Angry Monster

“Let it Go” Let Me Let it Go!

I had a day last week. BOY OH BOY did I have a day! You know…one of THOSE days, where nothing goes right, nothing makes your child happy, and he or she whines and whines AND whines…and WHINES! When I was in my twenties and had THESE kinds of days with the boys, I would explode, implode…lose—my—mind! Yelling, stomping, snarling, slamming. I did it all.

But now I have Hindsight and I know that what I do is what my children, in the end, will do as well. I also know that a mother who loses it in an unpredictable way will not be a human being that her children will trust and therefore they won’t come to her with problems that might in fact make her blow a gasket. These are truths that I know.

The problem on THAT day last week is that as hard as I tried to remind myself of the things that I knew about anger and raising children, my body, my mind, my SOUL just wouldn’t respond appropriately. So as the day progressed and the whining got louder, more frequent and MUCHO irritating, the more I felt unable to keep the angry monster from jumping out of my throat. Even the heaviest iron boots wouldn’t keep him down.

Believe me, I tried. I did everything that Dr. Speed Dial and my constant companion, Hindsight, have taught me about being a mother who wasn’t a raving maniac. I reasoned. I hugged. I ignored. I distracted. I played and played and played and played. And still…and still…she whined. She whiiiiiiiiiiiiined… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: 20 Ideas of Love

What Love Is

When you read this, Valentine’s Day 2014 will be a memory, but the column was penned the week before…so bear with me. Anyways, is there ever really any BAD time to talk about love? And truly, is there anyone more qualified to speak about this particular subject than a mother?

Although I didn’t grow up with the best model of what love is, the older I get the more chances I have had to observe those that are experts at it. Not only have I observed it, but I’ve experienced great love from so many special friends and family, that it is impossible not to learn more and more each day and give it back to my children. And although I have a lot to learn about the strongest emotion in the world, I am beginning to understand the nuances of this complicated thing called love:  Twenty ideas of love…

Hindsight Parenting: Mother & Daughter Solitaire Extraordinare

Solitary Not-Confinement

She walks into the party.  Her patent leather shoes shine, stockings are straight and sleek.  Her hair is in a perfectly high ponytail with red grosgrain ribbon to hold it in place.  When she arrives, she is happily greeted by the other children attending.  They surround her.  Two grab her hands and lead her to the awaiting bouncy houses.  She scurries up the ramp and begins to bounce.  Her laughter mixes with the laughter of her friends.

Her mother is greeted by the other moms.  She knows them all by their first name.  She is gloriously adept at making small talk; remembering to ask about this one’s son and that one’s husband, commenting on the fierce cold, and sharing recipes for perfect Valentine treats.  She is pulled together perfectly; jeans, boots, and long sweater.  Her hair, in a high pony tail, matches her daughter.  She nods her head in sympathetic agreement as she listens intently to one of the other mothers exclaiming how she would just PERISH if she wasn’t able to go out every weekend “just to get away for a bit.”

Can you picture it?  I can…but that’s it.  I can only PICTURE it.  None of this scene has ever really happened in this girl’s world; not last year, not last month, and not at a party last weekend… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Top Five Most Misused Words and Phrases by Preschoolers

Fluent in Preschool

You did it!!!  It may not have been smooth sailing at times, but at least the dingy didn’t capsize! You made it through the sleepless-nights-poopy-diapers-tantrum-throwing-potty-training years of infancy and toddler-dom.  Now, you have a preschooler, and he or she can speak! What does that mean? All of that incessant crying to get what they want—done!  After all, you are living with a pint-sized communicator–all right–a rudimentary communicator, but at least able to say what he or she wants and needs.  Now it’s going to be much easier, right?

Maybe…It really depends, because you see, those teeny humans, like any human learning a new language, may use a word or utterance in a way that it is not meant to be used.  And without a translation guide, parents are…well… back in that dingy without a paddle.  Luckily, not only have I unlocked the code to the top five most misused words and phrases by preschoolers, I have devised a parental action plan to take for each, and share them with you here: Top Five Most Misused Words and Phrases by Preschoolers…

Hindsight Parenting: Dispelling the Myth of the Perfect Parent

Commiserate

Recently I had an essay published on mamalode.com and the response was a writer’s dream. My story was shared and discussed and appreciated. The most touching responses came from about two dozen or so mothers who private messaged me a thanks for telling the truth about motherhood…that sometimes it isn’t all rainbows and tulle tutus. And while these parents found refuge and comfort in my story, I also took repose in the fact that I wasn’t alone as a parent who has experienced hard times with her children.

Quite often in this Facebook-Instagram-Twitter universe, parents can believe that the lives of others are so much more wonderful than the lives that their families may lead. I am truly guilty of this. If you looked upon my Facebook or Instagram page for the first time, you’d see an idyllic daughter experiencing life in ways that make fantastic photo ops. I’ve even heard whispers coming out of that small town gossip mill that I speak of often that I post WAY too many pictures of my daughter being…well…spectacular. I will cop to that. I do. I certainly do because I DO think that she is spectacular and magical, but like all other families there are moments that aren’t lollipops and lullabies and I guess I should cop to that as well.

So in the spirit of full disclosure, it’s time to dispel the myth once and for all that being a parent is always and forever fulfilling and transcendent. Nope. Not in my house…  Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Lessons in Gratitude

The Attitude of Gratitude

When I need to rid myself of the bitter curmudgeon, when Eeyore sidles up to me wanting to bring me down (‘Oh bother…doesn’t matter anyway…’), lately when I take a moment to practice gratitude, it is my daughter’s capability to be thankful that comes to mind.

I have seen lots and lots of “November is a month for Giving Thanks” on Facebook lately. Heck, I was doing the same thing LAST November. For me, doing that; posting something that you are grateful for even on the worst of days where there seemed to be slim pickin’s in the happy department was a fruitful and enlightening exercise for me. On those seemingly desert dry days of thankfulness, I somehow found something small, a three year olds giggle, a warm bed, a glass of wine, a light bulb moment from one of my students. Those little things truly reminded me on those days of drudgery or misery that life wasn’t all bad. Of course always on the lookout for Hindsight lessons, I began to realize that this attitude of gratefulness was not an easy one for me. It was not natural. It was way too easy to focus on all that was going wrong (which was plenty a year ago)… Read the rest of this entry »

Hindsight Parenting: Lessons From Children

Knowing Me. Knowing You.

I scrapped the column that I had been writing all week, (ah…I’ll post it another time), because of the “ah ha” moment that I had while trick or treating with my daughter, Ila, last week. Sometimes it isn’t Hindsight that teaches me, it’s my own child. This won’t be a surprise for most parents, however I think that it is to me because I was NEVER open to that while raising my sons. So I suppose, Hindsight had a hand, in helping with knowing to look for those moments of learning that I cherish now so as a mom. A child can teach so much to the uptight adults of the world if we would just be on the lookout for the lessons…

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Hindsight Parenting: Cutting Cords

Five Things Hindsight Has Taught Me About Cutting Cords…and Cords That Cut

We all have heard the term, “cut the cord,” and most seem to generalize it to birth and our children’s transition to adulthood. However, that phrase is so much more. So-Much-More. Here are 5 things I have learned about cords and cutting:

Cutting the cord often signifies an ending–for the parent–but it is truly a beginning…for the child. The first time the cord is cut is literal and physical, but a beginning, a beautiful beginning. The tiny infant emerges from the dark in which he or she resided for nine months. It is his or hers first sweet breath of Earth’s life sustaining air. It is the eyes first experience of incredible and illuminating light. It is the ears first chance to clearly hear the veritable voices that will fill his or her head and heart for years and years to come. Cutting the cord frees the child so that he or she can be wrapped in the loving and awaiting arms of a mother who will cradle him or her in literally and figuratively for the rest of her live long life. It is often the first monumental and significant task of a father who with scissors in hand and tears in his eyes releases his child into the world. Cutting the cord is a beginning…

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Hindsight Parenting: How to Raise Emotionally Resilient Children?

Embrace Her Quirks

“Embrace her quirks,” said the world renowned pediatric neurologist.  “More importantly, help her to embrace her quirks.”

“Ah,” said Hindsight.  “Therein lies the problem because YOU my dear Logan are completely and utterly NOT equipped to teach a child that.”  (Maybe it wasn’t Hindsight who said that…maybe it was my subconscious, or the Doubter, as I like to call him.)  Anyways, that statement, “Help her embrace her quirks.” has paralyzed me.

Each year we go on a yearly trek to a magical place called Rochester to visit a very informed, much respected, very busy, Dr. Mink.  He has been my daughter, Ila’s, pediatric neurologist since she was 11 months and we have always felt completely at ease with him because of his wealth of knowledge and his concrete suggestions and ideas to try and tackle what seemed to be an unidentifiable movement disorder in my daughter.

Each year, we leave his office with a plan of action that the brilliant therapists that are involved in Ila’s life play out in the utmost professional and serious of manners.  Because of their hard work, Dr. Mink was duly impressed by the level of strength that she presented with in comparison to our last visit.  However, there were still questions and concerns.  Things we needed answers to; like why she seemed to disconnect at various times—going into a trance like state?  Why was it that her interpersonal relationships didn’t seem to go smoothly?  Why do noises seem to bother her so much, and why, even though she has a very strong pair of glasses, is she still struggling with visual perception?

His answer was definitive.  She seems to fall into the category of a child with movement dyspraxia…

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Hindsight Parenting: Admitting Mistakes

Monumental Mistakes

“Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.”

I hate to break it to you…but we. are. human. Ok. Ok. Sit down and take in the statement. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. I know, I know, I know. We are parents ergo not prone to making mistakes. Right??? Um. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

What IS it about giving birth that makes some of us immediately lose our ability to admit that possibly we might have made a mistake or two…or three. I am entirely guilty of this and I was reminded this week how absolutely damaging that not correcting a wrong can be.

One of my children is going through a nightmarish time and while I am not in anyway saying or even thinking that the choices he is making, the troubles he is having and the consequences he is facing is in totality or even partially because of the parenting he received (or didn’t receive) from me, I did however have a moment with him this week that reminded me about the importance of immediately admitting and apologizing and setting straight a mistake the instant that you realize your error…

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Hindsight Parenting: Skipping the Mega Birthday Party

Birthday

Keeping it simple with close family and friends.

My daughter, Ila, turns 4 this week, and…and…and…(Ok Logan…DEEEEEEP breath!) andwearen’thavingaparty!  Phew…there I said it.  Yup.  I said it.  My name is Logan Fisher and I am not having a birthday party for my daughter.  Ok now, Martha Stewart…stop tapping your toes, unclench your fists and uncross your arms. I did NOT say we weren’t celebrating the day.  We still are, but we aren’t having a balloons-kids-favors-games-screaming-paper-ripping-streamers-hanging-get-down-with-music-party. I am not sure why this decision has been bothering me so much…ok…that isn’t all together true…I do THINK I know why it is bothering me, but that is a phrase that is probably harder for me to say than the “we are not having a party” thing…

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Hindsight Parenting: Bubbies and Body Image

Let’s Talk About Beautiful Bubbies!

The other night, my daughter Ila and I were relaxing on the couch watching Rio when she began to press her hand on my left breast (calm down…it was completely covered in pajamas AND a wrap). Now my instinct was to take hold of her hand and firmly say something like, “Stop it, Ila! That isn’t appropriate” because after all…it isn’t. But Hindsight’s voice intervened and whispered that a slicing comment like that might just be one of the reasons that my boys don’t see me as a safe person with which to carry on a conversation. So I gritted my teeth, searched the recesses of my brain that housed a voice of reason and chose to say instead, “Ila, can I ask you why you are doing that with your hand?”

She turned to face me on the couch, blinked and innocently answered, “I am trying to make your bubbies flat…”

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Hindsight Parenting: With Sacrifices Come Rewards!

Rewards & Sacrifices

A gain can often be found at the end of most sacrifices.

Before I began relying on Hindsight–actually WHILE his wisdom was being created in my early twenties and thirties, I’d have to say that I was a mighty self centered human (Then again what 20 something American grown woman isn’t a tad self centered?).

I was 24 when I had my first son and 26 when I had Son2, but let me preface this next paragraph by saying that I felt blessed to have those two boys and even though my young age made me completely inept as a mom, the love I felt for them filled every crevice of my heart. Still does. But back then, one of the main roles I thought a good mother played (mimicking my own) was the role of the great martyr–sacrificer extraordinaire. Nice huh?

Making my sons feel as if they and their needs were such burdens wasn’t a great way to grow up and I knew that first hand. However, we do what we know and so back then without the help of Hindsight, I continued to espouse and pontificate all the sacrifices I made daily for “the sake of those boys!” (I know it makes me queasy too. Go ahead and roll your eyes. I don’t blame you.)

Thankfully, my mistakes created a very large cache of “never-agains” and “should-haves” and Hindsight was created…

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Hindsight Parenting: Anything Can Be a Princess Thing

Princesses, Ila and a New Pair of Glasses

Anything can be a princess thing!

Upon finding out that the child I was carrying was a girl (maybe even eons before) I vowed the vow of a mother’s will that my daughter would not under any circumstances be one of those—ugh—princess girls.  Princesses, at least the ones that I grew up with, were weak and daft, consumed with their looks and gowns and unable to solve life’s problems without the help of that ever handsome, ever tall, ever strong, ever wise prince or knight in shining armor.  Blech.  Double blech.  It certainly didn’t help that I read voraciously over and over ‘those’ types of books my entire childhood and I BELIEVED and tried desperately to live out the scandalous lie that there would always be a man to scoop you up and set you right.

Being forty and pregnant, Hindsight was already working (although I hadn’t realized it yet.)  I had somewhat cynically learned that there were in fact no knights, no princes and even the more unsettling lesson that those of the opposite gender could actually be the ones who put the princesses in peril.  No.  I was determined that this daughter of mine was going to be strong and independent.  She was going to be her own problem solver, seeing life as a series of puzzles that she would take pleasure in solving…alone…not relying on one person except herself…

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Hindsight Parenting: Quality Experiences at the Amusement Park

Slowing Down—A Speedy Hindsight Lesson

Another lesson from Hindsight!

I quite often malign the fact that I am a 44 year old woman with a three year old.  It isn’t just that I am not as spry as I was when in my twenties or thirties, it is the fatigue from my blasted heart condition, it is the foggy brain from the medicine I take, it is the aches and the pains that attach themselves to me with every stress that comes with having two teenage boys, and it is the mental exhaustion that sometimes comes with wisdom.   Having my friend Hindsight has been an irreplaceable tool while parenting my daughter Ila, but the constant realization that what I DID the first time needs adjusting the second time around can be tiresome…

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Hindsight Parenting: Letting Go to Hold Them Close

Spontaneity

By letting go, it just might help to hold close those whom are dearest to you!

Spontaneity— def. “The state or quality of being spontaneous.” Control def. “The situation of restraint.”  Two words that are completely and utterly opposite in nature.  I would have to admit that the old mom—the one I was or the one I am trying to shake—was the latter, always and forever the latter.  Trying to control every stinkin’ situation that came or could come our way.   To me, back then…maybe a teeny tiny bit even now…controlling and anticipating every nuance, nook and cranny meant that I could head off trouble; fights between the boys, accidents, trouble with school work, etc.  You name it, I tried to control it.   Heck, if I could have controlled the time the sun rose and set, I would have.  But looking back, my controlling nature did nothing but make the household tense.  Anticipating never really stopped anything from happening.  Planning out every scenario never seemed to go the way I had imagined.  The boys still fought.  Accidents still happened.  Things still occurred that hurt or stung or caused trouble in some way.  Hindsight tells us then that controlling the outcomes, planning for each and every thing that may possibly happen only makes one weary and most definitely not happy or satisfied.

Then there’s spontaneity—which I have to admit is such a foreign concept to me.  Doing something on impulse just hasn’t happened much in this 44 year old’s life.  Things as small as a Sunday drive has to be mapped out for me otherwise it just feels like wandering.  However, really…what is so wrong with wandering?…

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Hindsight Parenting: Summer Survival Lists

Preparing for Summer

I used to hate summer. You heard me. H.A.T.E. While most educators count down the days until the end of the school year, my dread grows the closer the end of June comes. No, no…I have no aversion to heat, (at least not the kind of heat we get here in upstate NY. Now Florida’s heat…blech!). No, no it isn’t that it is because it is skimpy clothes and bathing suit season. Although, never being svelte and swarthy has always made me keep a cover up on at the beach, and really I have never been one for shorts. However my intense dislike for summer really never was about any of that. It was all about the fact that for two and a half months, I’d be in charge of entertaining my children (All right…instead of judging, could I at least get props that I admit fully to feeling that way?)…

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Hindsight Parenting: Loving During Hard Times

I Am On Your Side

Mother’s Day has come and gone and I of course have been reflective. Yes. I have been thinking. I have been thinking about those mommies from Newtown. I have been thinking of mommies of those injured or killed in the Boston bombings. I have been thinking of moms who are no longer part of their children’s lives directly, but instead have been replaced by an addiction to drugs or alcohol or gambling. I have been thinking of the moms whose children are drowning in a world of mental illness with no life preserver in sight. I have been thinking of moms whose children are incarcerated, runaways, or just plain lost. I have been thinking about any mom who may be experiencing one or more of the nightmares we all have imagined or prayed wouldn’t happen to our beloved children. All weekend, I thought of them. How do they celebrate their roles as mothers? How do these moms keep moving forward when the worst tragedies have infiltrated the dreams that they had for their children and the futures they had imagined for their families?

Dear readers, we of course can look to our friend, Hindsight, to guide us and them—but not our own Hindsight—not if we are in the thick of it. No—we use the Hindsight of the moms who have gone through it and come out somehow into the light (does that ever completely happen? Perhaps it’s a dim light, but a light no less.) And since it is inevitable (it IS inevitable) that all of us at some point will hurt because our children are hurting, I think it is essential that we learn what to do from some of the masters moms who have learned to cope and even come to appreciate more their titles as mothers even though their children are troubled somehow.

The great Maya Angelou’s mother, Vivian Baxter, was a force to be reckoned with, and a stupendous example of how a mom might cope and continue to mother a child that has hit a bumpy road or even one filled with craters…

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Hindsight Parenting: Pretend Play vs. Violence

Let’s Pretend: A Discussion on Violence

Let’s go back to Fisher Price amusement parks with Weebles that don’t fall down, to plastic farms where a cow moos when you open the barn door and to kick ball out in the middle of the road using the cracks in the street as bases.

“Ok daddy. Let’s go in my tent and you get to kill me.” These were the words uttered by my VERY sheltered three-year-old daughter just last night. I was shocked. Daddy was shocked. He immediately responded, “I will play with you Ila, but I won’t ever play ‘killing’. That just isn’t a nice thing to play.” To distract her, he pretended to see a dragon in the clouds and they went chasing off in that direction determined to introduce themselves. While that seem to be the end of it for Ila, it wasn’t for me. How on Earth did she come up with THAT one?

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Hindsight Parenting: 999,999 Ways to Be a Good Enough Mother

There is no way to be a perfect mother.

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.” This quote by Jill Churchill has followed me around lately. I have seen it on TV, in print, on Pinterest, posted on Facebook and on Twitter. It has shown up so often lately that I get the distinct feeling that it is speaking right to me and until I relent and agree, it will continue to haunt my senses perhaps even show up say on the back of the box of my favorite cereal (All right, I know I am being dramatic.).

I was raised in a family where perfection was the way you were noticed, the way you felt loved, and therefore I have had my share of trouble personally learning that life is all about imperfection. Like those who raised me, I expected faultlessness in those I loved, in myself, in my friends, in the way my life looked to those on the outside. I expected any endeavor perfectly landed like a gymnast sticking a dismount off the beam. Anything that was not perfection was a sign of abject failure either by another, or by me and both were chastised as such. As you already have figured out, I am my biggest critic and enemy, but my tendency to control those around me so that my idea of “perfection” came true was an even greater foe.

It is the combination of this realization thanks to my friend, Hindsight, and the fact that realizing it doesn’t always convert to total transformation instantaneously, that has made it so that I have felt in many ways like a failure, “muy imperfecto” at my first go round at parenting. Whenever life’s imperfections took a hold of my two sons, my first thought was how could I have prevented this, or what did I do wrong while raising them (How very egocentric of me huh?)?

And while Hindsight has helped me to understand that there is a multitude of factors that go into the molding and shaping of any human being, I still find myself struggling with the idea of “what is right” for my daughter, Ila and “what would be wrong” for her, hence the irritation with Jill’s perky “million ways” quote. Really, Jill? Are there REALLY a million ways to be a good mom? ‘Cause from where I stand there are a million ways to screw it up.

The thing about this whole enlightenment by Hindsight is that although Hindsight tells me what not to do based on decisions made during two decades of parenting, knowing what NOT to do but not what TO do often leaves me feeling like a compass with no needle. No North Star. No tether rope to keep me on the mountain. No flashlight on the way to the campground latrine (Do you get me?).  Perhaps one more…. No teeth on my saw… (Okay, I am done. Promise).

My point is that what I did as a parent for years and years and years is really all I knew, I guess just like all other parents. My parenting was modeled after the parenting that I received, and even though I vowed NEVER to be like “them,” those patterns, their ideals that only perfection was worthy of love still showed up and I wasn’t even aware of it. And although that type of parenting wasn’t optimum in anyway shape or form, I at least felt (erroneously) that I knew “what a perfect mom would do.” I do know now that some of the parenting that I choose to use was not even remotely near perfect, but I was buoyed by the “idea” that I knew what I was doing.

Now, without those mistaken ideas of what a “perfect parent” would do, I find myself searching, forever searching for what is right, what is wrong, what would be perfect in this situation or that? And I want that to stop. I want to believe Jill in that there isn’t just one perfect way but MILLIONS of ways to be a good mother. My beloved Dr. Speed Dial is forever reminding me that I won’t always know what is best, worst, perfect or not perfect for my child. She tells me that if a decision is made by a mom who puts the child’s needs front and center, then that is one way moms like us can be good ones. Yup, that’s one way, but according to Jill there are at least 999,999 other ways, and it got me thinking. I can’t be the only one who struggles with this image of being a good and perfect mom. I think that is the whole reason that Jill’s quote keeps showing up. We need to reassure ourselves that although perfection is not an option, we can still do a good job. We can strive to do our best for our children. We can still be a good mother. So, if there truly are a million ways to do that, I’d LOVE to hear from you about what you think should be added to the “good mothering” list. After all, there are 999,999 reasons to go.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

Hindsight Parenting: The Strength of Children

Have Faith in Your Children Strength

I was a big ol’ chicken this week. I mean a shakin-in-my-boots-anxiety-ridden-big-ol’-BAWK-BAWK-chicken. Last column and the column before that, I had hinted that there were things going on at my daughter Ila’s current daycare/preschool that weren’t all that wonderful. Between the mean girl attitude, and the teachers’ lack of motivation to implement the suggestions given to them by Ila’s physical and occupational therapists, coupled with the unwelcoming disposition of the lead teacher who neither greeted nor even looked up when a parent walked into a room, we came to the rather terrifying decision that we’d have to change Ila’s school. I will tell you that just last week if I had to pen that previous line, I would get a panicky feeling right in my solar plexus.

We had already made the decision that she was not returning the following year. We picked out another preschool/daycare that had a reputation for academics and a child centered approach. Both the OT and the PT had encouraged us to check this school out as they both had experience being there to do therapy for other students. But we were determined to keep her in the school she had been in at least for the rest of the year. Moving Ila seemed to be cruel especially given the background she has had on loss and leaving. We thought it would be ‘best’ for her to keep her in the place that she was ‘used to’ and not uproot her and pull another set of people out from under her. I was sure, absolutely sure that her “fragile” self couldn’t handle it. But the more problems we experienced the harder it was to stick to the decision of keeping her there. And while I won’t go into the final straw, there was one…a big honkin’ straw, and it was completely and utterly apparent to us that we’d have to get her out of that toxic place as fast as we could.

From the moment I made that decision, I had massive anxiety. Hindsight kept reminding me that the feelings I was experiencing were paramount to those same feelings that I had when I wanted to spare my boys any discomfort and therefore would move heaven and earth to make sure they didn’t feel it. Hindsight also kept reminding me what the end result of that was; two children who find it absolutely excruciating when life doesn’t go exactly the way they want it to go. “When does life always follow the path you want it to?” Hindsight whispered. “Give her a chance to adapt to discomfort,” it urged. I knew. I always know that the whispers and elbows to my ribs that Hindsight gives are always the voice of reason. I knew I should listen, and so with shaky hands and that persistent anxiety ache in my solar plexus I pushed forward trying to find a new place for Ila to attend.

Luckily, the consummate preschool that we had decided on for the following year found room for our daughter and after a couple of visitations with mommy and daughter together, this past Monday, the day of doom, (at least in my head) came; the day that we’d have to drop Ila off “at that strange and new place with no one she knows.” Saturday and Sunday leading up to that day, I didn’t sleep. I tossed. I turned. I felt nauseous and turned to friends and my husband to soothe me. The anxiety took me over and I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly bear the moment in which I left Ila all alone at that new place. So I enlisted Ila’s daddy to be the culprit; the bad guy so to speak. HE could drop her off. HE could watch her whimper. He could peel her off his leg and run out of the classroom while she screamed for him not to leave her. I just simply couldn’t do it. And Hindsight chided, “Chicken. Coward. Don’t you have any faith in the strength of your daughter?” He had a point, but I pushed that thought aside and continued to wallow in anxiety until the fateful Monday arrived.

And so while I worked away in my classroom getting ready for the week ahead, my palms sweat and I waited for the fateful call that would inevitably come; that call that would have my husband’s voice on the other end shaky and sad that Ila was so distraught at being left at a new school. So when the phone rang, my gut did a giant roller coaster dip, but I put the phone to my ear and squeaked out, “How was she?” and braced for the horror story.

The line that was uttered by my husband could have very well been uttered by Hindsight itself. He said, “Logan, I think we need to have more faith in Ila and how strong she is. She was absolutely fine. She walked into the classroom, kissed me goodbye and walked off to play with the girls that were already in the class.” I was instantly relieved and ashamed. Hindsight was right…again. I needed to have faith and confidence in the strength that we have helped to foster in our daughter. I needed to listen to him when he reminded me that parenting with a sense of wisdom will then become the wisdom of the child, and here again was a perfect example of that.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that wanting to spare our children discomfort and trauma is an innate part of being a parent. However, I am finding out that the images of what may take place, of how they may feel, or of how they may react can be completely erroneous. Therefore, if we give in to that feeling of being the hero and saving them from the deep down dark of life, not only are we not equipping them for the ultimate continuing deep down darks of life, we miss out on some pretty amazing moments where we get to see our children being strong; stronger than we may think they are, and each time they are strong it will help us to let go a bit to the savior complex we have as parents and instead let our children build the muscles that they need to be strong humans for the rest of their lives.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.  Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Brian Hart]

Hindsight Parenting: What is the Antidote to Meanness?

Mean Girls, At Age 3

To teach my daughter empathy, the ability to anticipate and understand the feelings of others, would ensure, I am certain, that my daughter, our daughters, would be able to build each other up—not tear each other down, would be able to support with the strength of positivity…

“Go home, Ila!” Those three words, said by a three year old no less to my sweet-natured, well behaved, lovely, and special daughter (all right, all right I may be a tad biased…) made me squeeze the life out of my steering wheel from rage as it was relayed to me by that beautiful girl of mine on the way home from a grocery store visit.

I have heard the horror stories and the numerous, in fact incessant, warning from moms of daughters about the epidemic of mean girls and how it would affect someone as passive and innocent as Ila. I have been told to get her ready for it; to ensure that she has developed a strong and battle proof sense of self so that when she is attacked (which is only a matter of time according to the moms in the trenches) it won’t affect her as deeply as it could. I have been told to empower her with the right to stand up for herself; teach her I statements that set clear boundaries. For instance, “I don’t like what you are saying to me!” Or, “I want you to leave me alone.” Or, “I will not be treated this way!” I have been told that building a solid foundation of love and open communication would make it so that my daughter would feel safe divulging hurtful information to us.

And so we have done all that. Hindsight has urged me to take the advice of these mothers-in-the-know and equip Ila with all that is necessary for her to combat this culture of bullying. And me, with my memories of the horrific bullying that my older son experienced…for years…without my knowledge…as well as my own esteem issues and lack of connection with parents who did nothing to help me feel like my feelings were safe with them, made it so that I fiercely vowed to raise a daughter who was prepared beyond a shadow of a doubt for anything that might make her feel less than.

But dear readers, I must confess that I thought I had more time. I thought that I had years to mold and shape this wonderful girl into someone who stood on sturdy metaphorical legs, years to be sure that she and her out of this world essence would stay that way. I thought I had more time.  Read the rest of this entry »

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