Friday, September 22, 2017

A baby by any other name...

A friend of mine was telling his parents that he and his wife were expecting a baby boy. And when my friend told his parents their first choice as a baby name, he said his father looked him straight in the eye and said "Nope. What's your second choice?"

My friend and his wife named their son by that name anyway, and everyone got over the incident, but this story has stuck with me.

To my parents' credit, if any of them ever had a wayward thought about the name my husband and I chose for our son, they never vocalized it. I don't even recall them trying to provide suggestions for baby names. And for all of that, I am very grateful, as some grandparents believe they should be consulted on their grandchild's name.

I am not sure of the full context of those feelings - if they have to do with family traditions or something else - but I know that most parents struggle with finding the "right" name for their child. That is one of those first big decisions that remind you that you are making choices for someone else's life.

So, it is probably for the best that the choice remains between the parents.

I do understand another portion of that study, though, that discusses how some grandparents have to get used to unusual baby names. I have often looked at the roster of my son's classroom and thought how nice it is to see so many creative names and then wonder if anyone names their children "Mary" and "Joseph" anymore. (Maybe they still do that in the Catholic schools like the one I attended; there were a lot of Marys and Joes in my class.)

I have asked my son if he liked his name and he responded that he did. I then made the mistake of asking him what he would change his name to, if he could have the choice of any name in the world.

He responded, "Kitten Man," and ran off.

So, there you go.

Do you wish you had more or less input from relatives when deciding on your baby's name? Tell me the tale in the comments. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sending the kids to Grandma's house

My wonderful Mother recently took my son for the day. When I picked him up, he was very upset that he had to leave. Over the next few days, a series of stories about what they did in that one day together came out (played werewolf, had a pillow fight, played a concert on a keyboard, took care of the cats, checked out my Step-Dad's camera collection). The amount of stuff they did in that one day is almost staggering and I now understand why my son fell asleep right away that night.

I have always considered myself lucky that my Mom and Step-Dad live close by and are willing to take my son any time. The relationship they have together is incredibly special and I love hearing about their adventures. It turns out that all that one-on-one time may also help extend my parents' lives.

There is recent evidence to support that occasional care-giving by Grandparents targets the big three areas that need attention as we age: Physical activity, social connection and stress-reduction (most people surveyed found that caring for their grandchildren actually reduced their stress levels overall.)

But notice that I said "occasional care-giving" in that preceding paragraph. This is not the case of long-term care or when a Grandparent ends up being the child's main caregiver. The health benefits only come from occasional babysitting.

And while all that evidence is nice to know, I have a much more important reason for getting my son together with his Grandparents: He is supremely happy to spend time with them because he loves them so much.

I know that my parents and my son would all like more time together (without me). It's up to me to make sure that it happens.

How often do your parents get alone time with their grandchildren? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, September 18, 2017

That daily twinge of parental guilt

I've finished tucking my son into bed, told him that I've loved him and am about to turn off the light when he tells me that I am the best mom ever. It's a sweet statement that gives him extra kisses and cuddles and reassurances from me that I just try to be the best mom for him that I can be, and I am glad that I did a good job that day.

Then, I leave the room and immediately start thinking through all my interactions (or lack of interactions) with my son that day. And by the time I am downstairs again, I have convinced myself that I need to be a better mom tomorrow.

Parental guilt. It's an awful thing. And it's universal: At least one study suggests that parents feel more than 20 guilty moments a day. (That number might be low.) For example, my range of guilty thoughts at this very moment include the following:
  • It was a beautiful day and I didn't take my son to the park
  • I dragged him on an errand with me that I could have done earlier in the week on my own
  • I missed watching his swim class today because I had too much scheduled for us
  • I am already late getting dinner started, so we are going to eat later than I'd like
  • Eating later means that we might not have enough time to play a board game before bed
And I could probably go on if I let myself.

But that's the thing: I try really hard not to let myself. Because it is far too easy to start mom-ologuing my faults to myself. And that helps no one.

Instead, I think I will do as my son does and accept myself with my flaws and just try to be the best Mom I can be every day.

What parental guilty thought is dragging you down? Unburden yourself in the comments. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Staying away from the talking ducks and pigs

My wonderful husband and I are building a wall of bookshelves in our home. (Well, he is way more handy than I am so, he is doing most of the building; I provide the extra pair of hands as needed.) I am excited about these shelves and have started to take a look at all the books we own.

I've gotten rid of a lot of books over the years and whittled my collection down to the ones I need to keep so I still feel like a real person. My husband has also paired down his books over the last few moves. Our son, however, has a ton of books. This is by design - I want to encourage his reading. We go through them quite often to ensure that the books reflect his current reading level.

One thing I never noticed about my son's books is who plays the main protagonist. Sure, I noticed when he had an entire shelf of books that featured Batman, or when he fell in love with the Tree House series and devoted a shelf to those...but I never really considered who was narrating the story's action.

And it turns out that it might matter: Children's books that feature humans instead of animals are better able to impart their lessons. Thinking it over, I guess this makes sense: I would relate to a girl in a story more than I would relate to a talking duck.

After looking through my son's library again, I realized that I don't have much to worry about - the books that might have some sort of lesson to share in them do feature humans. And he has plenty of books featuring animals and humans that are just to entertain him and teach him that reading is fun.

And learning that reading is fun is probably the best lesson of all.

What's your child's favorite book right now? Tell me in the comments.