This past Friday, I took a scary step toward enrolling J.J. in a daycare/nursery school program for the fall. I say scary because as luck would have it, a 15-year study about how daycare turns kids into monsters was just released today. Figures, right? But it's all how you read into things. On the flipside, the same study found that these same kids have better vocabularies than their future raised-at-home classmates -- see how CBS covered it. And, actually, the most important point of both articles was this: "The researchers said the increase in vocabulary and problem behaviors was small, and that parenting quality was a much more important predictor of child development." So why is this making major national headlines, I ask?
For one, it's preying upon the sad but true notion that Moms are guilty by nature, and will click that headline (I did!) to see if they are screwing up their kids. After reading it though, I learned the real truth: No matter how you parent, there will be someone wagging their finger at you for making the wrong choice, and ultimately putting a label on your parenting style. So which type of mom are you? "Crazy Overprotective Mom" (a.k.a. absolutely no Happy Meals for my family!) or "Ultra-Laidback Mom" (she's the one whose kids just knocked you over at the mall while she was chatting on her cell).
I'm not one for labels, so I'd like to think of myself more as "Middle of the Road Mom," although I admit at times I've veered off course in both directions. When it comes to basic safety, I'm definitely a bit more on the cautious side. If I see a small toddler playing near a construction area, for example, I can't help but want to find his mom and smack her upside the head! And although I'm hardly a nutrition nazi, there's no reason in the world why a kid should be eating cheez doodles at 8:15 in the morning. On the other hand, I think sometimes kids need to be exposed to germs, figure out how a puzzle works on their own, play in grass, and indulge in an ice cream cone once in a while.
Look, this is my first go-round at this, so I try not to take decisions about my son lightly -- whether it's putting him into a nursery school program a couple of days a week (we've decided to do it in the fall) or letting him have chocolate (only on special occasions, like in the above pic). Ultimately, I try my best (with my husband's input, of course), to make choices that are both good for J.J., and at the same time give him the chance to enjoy being a kid. In other words, what's good for him, isn't necessarily what's best for him.
Author Paula Spencer explains this notion a little more eloquently than me in this week's My Turn essay in Newsweek:
"You can't go around afraid of everything. It's too exhausting! No matter how careful you are, bad stuff happens (diaper rash, stitches, all your friends assigned to another class). And it's seldom the end of the world."
Amen, sista! I'll have to remember that the first time J.J. acts up in nursery school.
According to a poll released Tuesday by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 60 percent of American women say they don't get enough sleep. And working mothers (72 percent) were the most likely to experience sleep problems such as insomnia. Shocking revelation, right?!
As reported in Newsweek:
"Women spend the last hour before bedtime watching television, doing household chores, or working in front of a computer. All of these activities make it harder to fall asleep."
So guess how I spent my last hour? Editing an article. Answering e-mail. Reading Newsweek online while trying to think of something to blog about (see, I found it!). My Web activity was also interspersed with channel-surfing, watching "General Hospital," and going through piled up mail and papers. And, yes, through it all, I've been exhausted. I didn't sleep well last night, although it was better than the night before. I could pass out right here on the couch with my laptop on my lap. But this is the only "me" time I have in the day. C'mon, working moms, admit it: Wouldn't you rather sacrifice a little sleep than give up your alone time? Once I publish this, though, I have to head to bed. I'm shot.
So off I'll go. And lie there. And lie there some more. That's when I start thinking about all the crap I have to do tomorrow. Then I hear J.J. rustling around and start praying it's not going to be one of those inexplicably bad nights with him. Then I turn over and realize how loud and rhythmically Pat is snoring. Now I have to take off my socks because I'm hot. And then put them back on 10 minutes later because I'm shivering. I finally get comfortable and then I get a sudden uncontrollable itch on my calf. Don'tcha freakin' hate that?! I scratch and scratch just short of drawing blood. The itching stops -- thank God! I roll onto my back and I'm comfortable, except now I have to sit up to fix my ponytail, which is digging into the back of my head. Aarggghhh! Oh forget it. Now I'm up. I might as well see who's on Letterman. Is it too late to pop an Advil p.m.?
Sing it with me: "I'm going on vacaaaation... I'm going on vacaaaation!" Despite my last post, and the fact that it's pouring out and the dripping will begin any minute, we're going away anyway. Screw it! This May, it's off to Beaches Turks & Caicos, the all-inclusive beach resort just like Sandals, but specifically geared to families, complete with Sesame Street characters.
Because in the grand scheme of things, does dropping three grand to go to Beaches really matter? The way I see it is, there are plenty of reasons to splurge:
1. Pat and I will be married five years in September, together 13 years next month. That's way longer than most marriages last these days and it's something to be celebrated dammit.
2. For the first time in our lives, all of our ass busting is financially paying off and we can afford it.
3. If we don't do it now, we're beat for a while. Coming soon... my mom's pending surgery, my sister's wedding prep, looking for our first house, and (hopefully) working on baby #2 next year.
4. It'll be our first real vacation that's just the three of us, in which we're not just visiting other family.
5. J.J. will get to celebrate his third birthday having breakfast with Elmo. How cool is that?!
6. I'm 30 years old and I don't have a passport -- it's time.
7. We'll pay it off in no time (extra hours when my boss goes on maternity leave, Pat's ever available overtime, new freelance assignments -- yes, I was just assigned an article for Parenting Mag!!!).
8. As wonderful as my honeymoon was, part of me was always bummed about not going to Sandals because I was too much of a wuss to fly at the time.
9. I get to have a tan in May for like the first time ever.
10. And finally... Sesame Street characters are much more tolerable after a few all-inclusive Mai Tais.