Dear Mom and Dad: A Love Letter From Your Baby


Dear Mom and Dad,

We haven’t met yet, but I am the one down here hanging out in the most comfortable place around. And before I make my grand entrance I need to ask you for a few favors.

Accommodating them may mean parenting differently than you were expecting, but I promise it will be worth it.

First, I will be healthier and happier if you breastfeed me. So please nurse me, whenever and however often I want. This is how my tiny little body works. It needs to nurse a lot.

I know this will be hard for you mom, and that for the first couple of months you will wonder if you will ever have a moment to yourself.

But here I am. And this is what I need.

It will get better, I promise.

Next, please do not leave me alone. Ever.

If you try to and I cry, please pick me up. Hold me, nurse me, sing to me, rock me, cuddle me. Do whatever you have to so that I become calmer.

I breathe better when you are holding me. I am safer.

Where I Am Happiest

I do not cry to bother you, I cry because something is wrong. Horribly terribly wrong.

I know it may not seem like that is possible, when my diaper is dry and I have just nursed. But I am so little and my body is growing so quickly. And I only feel right when I am being held, or nursed.

I have been living in nirvana while I was growing in your belly and now I have to wear clothes and I get cold, or hot, or hungry, and I do not understand it. It has never happened to me before.

You will be frustrated, I know. I hear that it is really, really hard.

But, here I am. I am your baby.

Instead of spending your time trying to make me, a little tiny baby ,behave as you want me to, will you use your resources to bring in help? Family, friends, anybody who offers.

Anybody who will support you while you focus on the most important thing in the world; me.

So that you can just spend all of your time making me comfortable.

I know a lot of magazines and people and books will tell you that you will spoil me, or that you need to make time for yourself. But right now, while I am still so little, you have to take care of me. I have to be most important.

If you are able to do these things for me, we will be closer than you ever dreamed possible, and we will be able to relate. Always.

Even when I am 16.

If you wonder if this is true, please go to the source to find out. Do not talk with people who have done it differently, instead talk with those who have made these choices. Look at the science that supports it.

And try to find the science that does not.

As soon as I am born you will start making decisions about how connected we will be. You will decide how much time we will spend together and I will understand what you are telling me.

If we spend all day and all night together, I will know how much you value me.

If you hang out with me on the floor and play, I will know that you think I am fun.

If you smile at me, I will know that you are happy to be my mom.

If you always try to make me comfortable and stop my crying, I will know that you believe what I am telling you.

And that matters to me. And to the world.

And finally; always trust your instincts with me. That is why you have them.

If anybody tries to tell you that you are doing it wrong, but with every part of your being you believe that your choices are just what I need, respectfully ignore those people.

Soon we will meet. I will be confused and scared and lonely and wondering where I am. Comfort me, love me, do what your instincts tell you, and we will all be very, very happy.

Love,

Your Baby

Advertisements

A Movie By Pondering Jane: My Happy Baby


Okay, so my sister who works in film said “I would not so much call this an animated short as…” and that is where she left it.
At any rate, I had so much fun making this and hope to make a couple more. Click below to view the movie.

My Happy Baby!

Learning To Know You: A Love Letter To My Son


My Beautiful Owen

Dear Owen,

Yesterday we went swimming.You, your dad, Sydney and I. You had been asking for all of us to go for days.  You have been taking lessons and are doing so well, and you love being in the water as much as I do.

We had so much fun.  You smiled fully the entire time we were there.  We all did.

Believe it or not, this is a new thing that I am learning, that some things make you happier than others, and that there are activities that bring you lots of joy.

And whether it is swimming, or acting, or playing superheroes, your smile is always different when we are doing something that you truly love.

Just as my smile is when I am doing something that I love, and everyone else’s is too.

I know that my smile was different each time I was at a Dave Matthews show, or when I am laughing really hard with my girlfriends.

And so I should have understood that some of the ways you spend your time would bring you more joy.  And that I should be creating those opportunities reguarly.

Instead I have gotten into the habit of choosing things that I think you would like, instead of listening to what you are asking for.

And it is not to say that sometimes my suggestions are not appropriate, because certainly they are.  And I do know that part of my role as your mother is to expose you to things that you may not have thought of.

But you had to ask me to sign you up for swimming lessons for two weeks before I heard you.  And I should have listened the first time you asked.

Now I understand how to pay more attention.

But this is my first time being a mom, and you are my first child.

And while I feel fortunate that immediately upon becoming a mother I knew the things that I would not do, learning how to make the best choices to ensure you become who you are meant to be, instead of  who I think you should be will be a long process.

This is a tough thing for me as a parent;  standing back and observing who you are instead of inundating you with the possibilities.

I am glad that this knowledge has been brought to my attention while you are so young, because unquestionably I was headed toward forming you into who I thought you would like to be.

And now, with this new understanding,  I get to know you.

I get to learn about what really makes you happy and what holds your interest.  I get to see first hand how your beautiful and curious mind processes information and what intrigues you.

As I sit quietly, I watch how you play.  I notice how you move action figures, and that you get really frustrated when Sydney does not understand how hard you worked on a block structure.

This shows me how invested you were in your project.  It also shows me how patient and forgiving you are.

And I am having so much fun getting to know you. You continue to teach me new things and inspire me to be better at being patient and intentional and at listening.

Mostly though, I always want to be better at being your mom.

We are finding our way, Owen. And though we are hitting some challenges, we are getting better.

I am getting better.

And that is never something I will stop working on.

I love you Owen.

Love,

Mommy

A Rare Recipe Share: “The Ultimate Vegan Lasagna!”


I concur that this is "The Ultimate Vegan Lasagna!"

Though I do not eat meat or dairy, and try my best to adhere to a Vegan diet, I love comfort food.

Fall and winter afternoons find me listening to music and cooking or baking an evening meal or dessert.  And of course, making sure the wine I have selected for cooking is also appropriate for drinking 😉

I am not sure that I have ever shared a recipe, but I made this one last night, and it is so good, that I have to pass it along.  There is no cheese or meat substitutes in it, which I love!

I have started following a blog called “With a Side of Sneakers” (great blog!) and this recipe belongs to its author.

Yep, even Iron Man was trying to taste its deliciousness.

It was a hit in my house.  My meat loving husband even sang its praises (no really, Kris stood up at the dinner table and started singing about the tangy tomato sauce and vivacious vegetables) and it is really pretty easy to make.  The filling is delicious and could be easily used for stuffed shelled, baked ziti, etc.

Anyway- I want to pass it on to you:

Delicious!

A couple of recommendations:  I would double the amount of filling that you make because the amount the recipe yielded was not quite enough.  I added zucchini, yellow squash, onion and green pepper to the vegetables.

For the sauce, either make your own, buy jarred, or do what I  do, buy sauce from your favorite Italian restaurant and use theirs when you are crunched for time.

I also make a vegan garlic bread using Earth Balance (if you do not know about this alternative to butter, you should) garlic salt, onion powder, oregano and basil (just put them in a little bowl, mix together to taste, spread it on the bread and pop it in the broiler for about three minutes).  Combining this with the lasagna made me forget I was eating a vegan meal!

Kudos to “With a Side of Sneakers” for coming up with this recipe!

Overparenting. Is It Real?


20111219-084716.jpg

Sure, it's a challenge, but Sydney can handle it. If she couldn't have though, I would have helped her right away.

Reference has been made to “The Age of Overparenting” and admittedly I am not sure what practices this is referring to.

The term itself does concern me. In an age where activities, school and media disconnect us from our instincts and children, I fear that we will be further confused by thinking that we “coddle” our children too much-that we over love them.

Maybe even, that we are “spoiling” them.

But really, how can we “overparent” our children? We can overschedule their activities, overfeed them, and overlook them, but “overparent” them?  It does not seem possible to me.

Maybe this term means that we are overly involved in their lives. That though, would be nosy, not overparenting.

Perhaps it suggests that we are providing too much physical affection. But, that is impossible.

I guess the term could mean that too often we are caught starry-eyed gazing, basking in the love that we feel for this beautiful and wonderful being. Busted while thanking God that He thought us worthy enough to raise this, our beautiful child.

No, I do not believe that it is possible to “overparent” your children. To listen to them too much, laugh with them too often or over-encourage them when they need it.

Because it seems like parenting your children means that you know when they need encouragement, and when too much encouragement would simply be inflating an artificial ego.

And we certainly cannot make our children feel better more often than they need it.

It seems to me that really parenting your child means keeping them safe. Not keeping them in a protective sheath or bubble. And knowing your child well enough to know which you are doing.

That a parented child feels genuine love and respect from their parents, and that they can trust their mom and dad to teach them appropriate boundaries. And is there a way to “over”do this?

It seems to me that when we spend enough time with our children to know them well, there is very little risk of “overparenting” them. We will know that ballet is just too much for them, and that really, they do hate piano lessons.

When we have allowed ourself to be completely open to falling head over heels in love with our children, we want to remove unnecessary negativity, because we know that enough tough stuff comes from other places.

And that appropriately assisting them with challenges will strengthen them and make them intuitively compassionate, not cause them to lack fortitude and coping mechanisms.

If we permit ourselves to invest fully in our child, we trust ourselves, and we do not have to wonder if we should have made them honor their commitment to stay at a sleepover even though they were scared.

Overparenting is not something that I am worried about because I do not believe it exists. All of the other stuff we will struggle with, and will try to find the right balance for our family.

But too much love is not corny, it is just not possible.

Have I missed something? Do you think it is possible to overparent? Is the term confusing?

Removing The Artificial Lid


A Happy Guy

A new friend recently introduced my husband Kris and I to Sandra Dodd, someone I consider to be the ultimate advocate for children and families.  Sandra has encouraged us to know our children more deeply.  She is teaching us how to open ourselves up to seeing who our children are,  instead of trying to make them into who we want them to be.

Sandra Dodd’s writing brought to Kris and my attention that it was he and I who were deciding how our children should spend their time.  Without realizing it, we were molding them into who we thought they should be, instead of watching them develop into who they are.  We were putting limits on self discovery and joy.

For example, Owen has a new found love of superheroes.  Something introduced him to them, and there was no turning back.  He wants to read about, talk about and role play superheroes all of the time.  Each family member is a character (including Sydney, our two year old), and we play the part.  A LOT.  He loves everything about the worlds and is having lots of fun.

Though we have gotten pretty tired of playing, Kris and I have made an important observation from playing Super Heroes so very, very often.  Owen’s smile has grown immeasurably .

And while part of me is sad to write this, there have been times that his smile is so huge, I do not even recognize it.  And it is amazing.

Though we have been trying our best, for Owen’s four years of life we have unintentionally prohibited him from fully expressing himself.  We thought superheroes were too violent, and that books are the ultimate tool to ensure a successful child.

Without realizing it, we have been trying to contain the imagination of a spectacular little boy.  A profound imagination that should be celebrated.

These limits were always in his best interest, or so we thought.  We did not want him to be exposed to things that might be unpleasant, or turn him into a thief or sociopath.  We wanted him to experience things that were bright and educational and formed positive connections.  These are appropriate and honorable goals for parents, surely.

However, in the process we were sending him the message that his dad and I know what he enjoys better than he does.  That the stuff he was interested in was not really all that interesting, and that he should rely on others to choose how his time is spent.  We were conditioning him not to trust his own judgement.  We were capping and containing who Owen is.

But not anymore.

We have taken the lid off, and are letting him go.  We are allowing Owen to explore who he is.  We are encouraging him to try the thing he is curious about.  We are learning to be interested with him. To find new ways of playing superheroes when we are bored with the old ones.

I am grateful to Sandra Dodd for allowing us to learn this now, before our children are older and have learned from us that there are limitations on how much joy they can feel- that feeling that happy needs to be questioned.  I thank her for enlightening us before our children understood that a cap should be placed on their creativity and explorative nature.

Owen is learning a lot from Superheroes.  We are having interesting discussions about ethics and values and are having fun finding new ways to make all sorts of costumes and props.

Mostly though, Owen is learning that his mom and dad think he is one cool dude.  And that the stuff he is interested in is cool too.  It is becoming more evident to Owen that he is important to Kris and I, and can trust us to encourage him to explore what he is curious about.

So really, I do not think the superheroes have anything to do with the size of Owen’s smile.  I think it comes from an artificial lid finally being removed.  From knowing that his mom and dad love everything about him, and want to get to know who he is.

That huge expression of joy is a result of him sinking into the knowledge that he can trust himself to explore what he wants, knowing that Kris and I are here to help in whatever way we can.  And that we are excited to explore this really neat new world with him.

And that it makes him really, really happy.

d

An Amazing Smile.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s Musing.  Pondering Jane’s home is in transition.  Please find more musings, activities and tips at http://www.ponderingjane.com, or subscribe down there on the right.

Learning to Let Go.


I have not posted in a long time.  A very long time.

As you can see with this new (and temporary) address, I am making some changes to Pondering Jane.  There are lots of reasons, none of which are interesting.  I was reminded recently that sometimes you have to let your visions of things go in order to discover what is really supposed to be.  And the vision that I had for Pondering Jane wasn’t working.  So finally, I am letting go of it to see where PJ ends up.

I am trying to apply this concept to all aspects of my life, and the photo above is evidence.  This is how Owen and Sydney attended one of our Thanksgiving get togethers.  It was with close family, so I knew we would not be judged.  Too harshly.  Owen wanted to wear his swim shirt, and as as soon as she heard her big brothers wishes, Sydney needed to do the same.

So I let them.

It was tough for me to get over some embarrassment.  I try to make sure that my children look “nice.” Clearly, swimsuits in November and as dinner wear would not  meet that criteria.    But Owen was a superhero, and Sydney was pretending to go to the beach.  They had so much fun getting into costume and were so happy leaving our house dressed as they were.  And I realized that this is how they look most beautiful.

I thought that letting go might mean feeling a sense of loss.  Instead I am experiencing more happiness and feelings of calm.  This of course translates directly to my family unit and is changing our course significantly.

I am learning to let go of expectations and notions that have put into my  mind by others.  I am giving up my own preconceived visions of what my children’s childhoods should look like, and learning about who they are instead. It is a strange journey for me, and at times I feel uncertain, and a little lonely.

But slowly, I am finding myself surrounded with wonderful people who are opening my eyes to all sorts of new possibilities.  In letting go, I am gaining so much.  And so are my children.  Instead of a sense of loss I am filled with excitement, gratitude and endless possibilities.

And it feels really, really good.

The Token Hippie Friend


I should start by confessing that I am not actually a hippie.  While I am all for peace love and understanding I wear Dolce and Gabana sunglasses, shop at Target and have never ridden my bike to work.

I was surprised to hear myself introduced as the “token hippie friend.”  Sure, I was a strict organic vegan, kept my given family name, and our baby sleeps in bed with us, but come on, I stopped wearing flannel shirts in college and bathe almost every day.  My husband is a prep, I shop at Pottery Barn Kids, Janie and Jack and Nordstrom.  How much more mainstream can you get?  All right, all right, I know the answer to that.

The realization that I had a specific role in this group came when a girlfriend said “Well Jen, as I told my friend you’re our token Hippie friend.” I am confident enough to recognize that I contribute more to our friendship than what constitutes the label of token anything but it forced some self- reflection.

Ok, so I have a tendency toward disagreeing with the establishment, have let it slip after a couple of glasses of wine that deep down I am a conspiracy theorist and I have met my shaman.   I buy mostly organic, believe that the meat and dairy industries have insulted our intelligence by forcing their products on us and know that we have abused our environment so much that we have to supplement with vitamin D because we are fearful of exposing our skin to the sun.

But here is my struggle:  where does it end?  I have been a strict vegetarian for over 20 years.  I have never been a milk drinker and adopted a strict vegan diet over a year ago.  After my son was born I started buying only organic products.  The only knowing exception that I made was clothing.  My days became filled with almost obsessively seeking out and preparing items that would not “poison” my son.  It was a full time commitment- and I’m not kidding.   Life became such a chore.  Waking up in the morning left me feeling overwhelmed with the choices I would need to make for my family that day.   My husband is supportive of these choices though he is a meat eating, Walmart shopping, Advil-popping American.  He loves the grill and anything that can be put on it, swigs water from his 12 oz Poland Springs bottle after a run and  would have fed our son babyfood consisting of jarred meat.  So, this all-vegan, all-organic lifestyle is all-my responsibility.

I have no answers but I have lots and lots of opinions- mostly self taught and naïve.   And you lucky reader can bare witness to them all.  Welcome to my blog.