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Not My Kid

Not My Kid

My kid would never do that.”

We’ve all said it. We said it when we watched the baby with the gooey fingers and the knowing eyes purposefully knock the glass off the restaurant table. We said it in line at the grocery store, when the kid convulsed on the floor in anger or shrieked while shaking the metal shopping basket. We said it when they sunk their sharp milk teeth into their mother’s defeated shoulder. We clucked our tongues, shook our heads, and insisted that would never be us.

Maybe you aren’t ready to admit it, but I will. My kid has done that. She has thrown explosive fits in the most public of places. She’s looked me right in the eye while causing havoc and destruction. I’ve watched her rip pages from beloved books and tear sequins from a favorite thrift store find. She’s dumped platefuls of beans on freshly mopped floors and thrown her cup when I asked her not to a million times. She’s disassembled shelves and forced me to hide the best displayed knick knacks. She’s chosen the day where I have felt the most fragile and unraveled to throw the biggest tantrum—to empty out bags of expensive raw snacks, to slap my face, to frantically push the buttons on my phone and hang up on the person I’d been trying to reach for hours. I’ve rushed and forgotten and wanted to cry because my kid has done all the things I swore mine wouldn’t.

It isn’t because she’s a problem child or I’m raising her “wrong;” it’s because she’s becoming a person who expresses and feels and tries.

All at the expense of her once smug mother.

I wish I could go back and offer to unload that woman’s basket at the grocery store, to give her a second of partial relief while she held her spasmodic toddler. I wish I could revisit that restaurant, to give some symbol of solidarity or to explain to the service staff that the mother truly is sorry and embarrassed—and that the kid isn’t a tyrant, they’re just learning that things fall or how to signal their discomfort, boredom, or satiation. And the women who was bitten? I want to tell her I understand why she doesn’t give the lashing or the slap or whatever other form of punishment society wants her to do. I would tell her it gets better. That sometimes I can tell my daughter to not slap and she chooses to kiss instead; I ask her not to drop something and she refrains; sometimes, I say “please put that back” and she does. One day they have words and understanding, and we give it to them with all those arduous moments that we don’t want anyone else to see.

Mothering in the Digital Age

Mothering in the Digital Age

Moms seem divided in the world of technology. I mean, isn’t our entire society caught up in this heated debate? There are strict standards for “screen time,” especially in the babywearing/co-sleeping world in which I belong. Instagram photos are occasionally allowed, if taken in places of natural beauty—think organic gardens, hiking trails, caves, and the like. Being a present parent means avoiding your phone and the technological waves it produces.

And in the opposite spectrum of parenting? There’s the opposing side: the TV never shuts off, iPads for entertainment, moms glued to Candy Crush just to feel a part of a world outside of dirty diapers.

 C’mon. We know life is never that black and white. The crunchy moms have cell phones and the “creamy” moms do breathe fresh air and make their kids do the same. And, me? Like everyone else, I’m conflicted.

Technology allows Tallulah to talk to faraway family members through FaceTime; it allows me to communicate on storieChild’s blog. And I admit that when Tallulah wakes up earlier than I’d like, I do hand over the phone to let her take photos of her foot or the same wrinkle in the sheets over and over again. Just so I can lay there for a moment. And, guess what? I never delete those photos, because...memories.

 Technology allows us to capture memories. I was able to record Tallulah’s little voice and the subtle changes over the months, when “DA” became “that, that, yeah.” Years later, when she’s thirteen and wants me pushed from her sphere I can listen to those and smile and cry. Cell phone photos freeze moments when family members come to visit, and the internet lets me share those with other family members who can’t be there. Honestly, I feel way more connected to some family members with things like Facebook and Instagram. Before these things, it felt like family only got together for holidays and other special occasions. They missed milestones; they missed sweet memories. And, let’s face it, life is busy and we all miss phone calls.

 But it can be too much. Everywhere you look, someone has a cell phone in their lap. Go to a concert and too many people are recording the entire thing, rather than slipping their phones in their pockets and enjoying real life. Sure, I record Tallulah going down the slide so that her family can see it for themselves, but I also put it away and hold her hands and slide with her and push her on the swing. And, that thing I do in the morning with the phone? Sometimes I do it with books, those beautiful tangible items that rule our entire lives. We keep the screens out of literature, out of our bedtime stories.

 We make memories. We record some in our hands. We live balance.