My Daughter and I Are One Entity

My nephew calls me Scarlett. He also calls my daughter Scarlett.  I’m fine with it, considering he used to call me “Racecar”, but it got me thinking like a two year old. In his eyes, Scarlett and I are one entity; I’m the attachment that comes with the baby.
Motherhood is great, but I feel susceptible to being signifier to just “Mom”. That being said, I think it’s very important to reestablish an identity outside of your children, but I also want to fully incorporate my identity into this role as well.
So, I’m working on setting up a Mom group for women in my area who have children under the age of one year.  They know what I’m going through and I know what they’re going through so we should get together and swap war stories. Haha.
Seriously though, we can share tips, go on outings, and just listen to each other. When I was pregnant and especially now, I just wanted someone to ask how I was doing, not rhetorically.
I ask my new mom friends how they are doing emotionally and I push past the socially proscribed answer: “I’m fine.”
We are all trained to think that not being okay is not okay.  Just because we are blessed with the ability to give birth and nurture a child doesn’t mean that it comes naturally or easily. I sure as hell got the baby blues after I gave birth, and I still get them now, but everyone is conditioned to not say anything about it because “everyone’s got problems”.
Well, I disagree. I shut myself off from people because I would reach out and try to help, advise, or simply just listen and when I needed that no one was ever around. That isn’t the answer. You shouldn’t stop helping others just because there was no reciprocity, you keep searching for those who will.
So moms, I say let’s form a bond and let’s be there for each other while we perform the greatest job in the world, the one that pays in love. 

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Stay tuned for your next slice of genius.

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What to Call Your Absentee Father

So, yesterday, I attended a birthday party at my son’s paternal grandfather’s house.  It wasn’t awkward at all, she thought, sarcastically.  Well, my son comes up to me and asks  if I had met, let’s call him Dave, “Dave’s girlfriend”. Why was my son calling his father Dave?

When we left, I asked my son, “So are you calling your father Dave now?” I figured maybe it was a prepubescent-trying-to-be-cool thing, but he replied, “No, but I don’t know what to call him so when I spoke to him I just said hey, (insert indistinguishable mutter here)”.
It was hard not to laugh a little, but truth is, I could see my son was having a real problem with this.  What do you call the man who lives ten minutes away from you but pays you absolutely no attention unless his father invites you over? My son says he is not his dad, and is constantly asking me when I’m going to get him a real dad.
So, it’s my fault he doesn’t have a father, he says, and he shouldn’t have to call his father “Dad”.

What a pickle I am in. Haha.
Well, I told my son, to keep it simple and just call him “Dad” even if he doesn’t feel like that title is merited, which my son perceptively noticed it isn’t.  I was like, “Just call him Dad. After all, you see the guy like once every four or five months, it doesn’t hurt anyone. Or call him whatever you want, I don’t want to force you. As for a ‘real’ father, you already have one: me. I’m your Mad or your Dom. Your Mad is amazeballs so you don’t need anyone else.”

Amazeballs led to giggles and conversation ended, but I’m anticipating a similar conversation years from now when my daughter asks why she’s never met her father. (I know what you’re thinking, I sure know how to pick’em. I thought I had it right the second time around but, no).
What a pickle I am in.

Stay tuned for your next slice of genius.

Authoritarian Parenting: Don’t Rule With an Iron fist, but Rule Nonetheless

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This is my son, Jayden.

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This is my daughter, Scarlett.

My son and I have been going to family therapy. He has Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD, disorders I’m pretty sure didn’t exist when I was a child. Well, the way I see it, I should enforce rules all the more since my child wants to defy authority, right? Well, sometimes, I catch our therapist giving me a look like something is wrong with me, and I’m like, “Whose side are you on?”

Yes, I would classify myself as a strict parent, and I am not ashamed. I’m Mom and Dad to a child with behavioral problems, and I refuse to let boys be boys. I’m grooming my boy into a man, an upright man who goes out into the world and takes responsibility for his actions. I’m an authoritarian parent. Rules are in place and they are to be followed, or there will be consequences. It’s the law of physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction, i.e. my punishment will fit the crime. Law and order is not just a great show; they are two essential principles for civilization to succeed. My home is a model of the “adult world,” I can’t let my son think that he’s going to grow up and be allowed to skip out on work because he’s bored or call his coworkers names without consequences. Does he resent me for being the enforcer? Yes, but I’ve never had qualms with playing the villain, and in a one-parent household, there are not many other members to cast for that role.

My son claims I love my rules more than I love him, but I explain, “If I didn’t love you, there wouldn’t be any rules.” I’m still waiting for the day when he asks me to love him less. So just as an example of my rules, which are not that easy to follow:

  • Behave in school
  • Do your homework
  • Clean your room
  • No fighting
  • Don’t insult people

Not so hard considering he is a nine-year-old boy with no job or family to support. Oh, and read for at least ten minutes (forgot one). He knows that if I get a call or email from school reporting misbehavior, he does not get to play on his computer or go to his basketball game just so he doesn’t take privileges for granted. If we are late to therapy because he is dilly-dallying, then he misses his basketball game, which is directly after our session. If he would rather throw a half-hour tantrum about reading for 10-15 minutes, then he can lament his attitude problem in his room with no entertainment until bed time. I think the greatest issue he has with my parenting is that I am a strict enforcer.

This is a great difference from my mother’s parenting, which consisted of a grounding right now and forgetting about it five seconds later. The first time my mother told me I was grounded, no phone calls included, and followed it up with passing me the phone when my friend called an hour later, I thought it was a trap! An alarm went off in my head, telling me that there was something wrong there. I turned out just fine in the end, but I was scared my mother would smack me silly if I acted out, and I’ve always had a deep respect for authority figures. A child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder needs to learn to understand and respect rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I am authoritarian, but I nurture my children, and I encourage them to be independent and creative, so long as no rules are broken and no one is hurt in the process. I reward my son for excellent behavior – good gets praise but no rewards because good is how he is supposed to behave everyday – there are incentives for excellence like going to bed at 9:30pm instead of 8:30pm, a special treat, a toy, etc. I make sure he knows I love him everyday and that I’m preparing him to be a man of substance and consequence.
Kids thrive on routines and rules, and in the long run, my children will thank me.

Stay tuned for your next slice of genius.