Your Q’s and My A’s

Thanks for your patience while I wrapped up this post. It was a lot of fun, and I appreciate all the interesting questions. And thank you for not asking about politics. I’m still working on a post about political parties (what on Earth made me start such a thing??), and it’s making me irritable. Stupid politics.

Anyhoo, here are your Q’s with my blathering A’s. Enjoy. 🙂

Q: What’s been your worst parenting moment so far?

Hmmm…there are just so many. 🙂 I’ll give you three – one for each moppet.

The first one that popped into my mind was the one and only time I “spanked” one of my kids. I’m not a spanker, I wasn’t raised by a spanker, and I don’t believe in spanking. But when The Muse was a baby, I spent a lot of time on a website called Babycenter. They had these debate forums about various parenting topics, and one of them was about spanking vs. not spanking.

It was a fascinating forum, with all kinds of people on it. But my favorites were a handful of women on both sides of the issue who were thoughtful, intelligent, and thoroughly convinced that they were right. I saw many arguments for spanking under certain circumstances, for certain behaviors, at certain ages, sometimes based on religious beliefs, sometimes not. It was surprising to me that there were people who calmly, deliberately, and conscientiously spanked their children. Not being raised with spanking, I always figured it was usually done in anger or as a last resort.

So, one day, I was changing The Muse’s diaper (she must’ve been about two) and she would NOT stay still for anything. I wasn’t really upset, but I needed her to stay still so I could get her freaking diaper on. I now have about 15 strategies I could use, but I was less experienced then. So partially out of desperation and partially out of curiosity, I thought I’d try a little swat on the butt – just to get her attention.

I barely spanked her. I mean, it was probably more of a tap than a spank. But I knew right then that I would never spank my kids. Everything about it felt wrong. I can’t strike another human being unless they’re threatening to hurt someone. I could probably hit someone if they made me really really angry, but not my kids. I apologized to her – and she hadn’t even noticed that I did it.

That wasn’t really the worst. I think it was just the first parenting decision I’d felt really bad about, so it made an impression.

Dolittle falling down the stairs at 10 months was definitely one of the worst. She was fine. But I had to watch her tumble literally head-over-heels down an entire flight of stairs because I couldn’t get to her on time. Thankfully, she miraculously ended up sideways and rolled off the bottom step onto the ceramic tile floor and wasn’t hurt at all. She cried for about 30 seconds and then was off again. I was a wreck.

And last summer we lost BoyWonder (who was about 18 months) at the zoo. We’d gone into the ice cream parlor, and I thought Havarti was keeping an eye on him – and he thought I was – and pretty soon we realized the wee one wasn’t with us. He’d wandered out the door behind some people. Thankfully, someone noticed he wasn’t with anyone and kept an eye on him until we found him (it was probably only a minute, but it felt like an eternity).

All of those things happened when the moppets were toddlers. I actually think my worst parenting has happened as they’ve gotten older, just as far as losing my patience. I have an easier time being patient with the wee ones. When I feel like they’re old enough to know better, that’s when I have a harder time being patient.

Q: What’s something very few people know about you?

This question actually came up the other day, and this is the best thing I could come up with: I sang with a band my senior year of high school. It was just a few guys with guitars and me, the token female back-up singer. Really nice guys. They loved Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, and The Eagles. “Jackie Paper” was the name of the band. I sometimes played the tambourine.

I could have been famous.

Or not. 🙂

Q: What are your thoughts on circumcision?

I don’t generally get into debates about this topic. I think it’s been a cultural norm for so long that it’s going to take time for more people to question it. I know some people feel really passionately about it. We just didn’t find any compelling reason to do it. I researched the heck out of it, and other than looking like Daddy (which neither of us felt was important), we couldn’t find a reason to justify putting the little guy through a surgical procedure as a newborn. If he wants to do it when he’s older, more power to him. Not a soapbox issue for me – I know it’s a personal thing, a cultural thing, a religious thing, etc. for different people. We just didn’t see the need, plain and simple.

Q: How did you find such a magnificent place so close to Chicago?

Actually, we’re not that close to Chicago. About an hour’s drive. To us, that seems fairly close, but to those who don’t live in a major metro area, it probably seems far. Compared to the city, we’re definitely out in the country.

But our new place really is fantastic, I must say. We tried to talk the landlady into selling it to us right after we moved in because the trauma of moving was still so fresh in our minds, but I don’t think she wants to sell. So, chances are we’ll be moving again in a year or two. We’re definitely going to enjoy our lake view and our screened-in porch while we’re here, though. We feel like we’re on vacation all the time. Except for the whole working/schooling thing. But aesthetically, it’s very vacation-like.

Q: Do you ever get tired of being with kids all the time?

Um, yes.

I’m sure my tolerance for the heightened energy, noise, mess, etc. of life with children is probably slightly higher than average, simply because I’ve built up endurance over the years. And I do enjoy it most of the time. But everybody needs a break. And I do daydream sometimes about sending the kids to school so I can actually have a clean house for more than five minutes. Or read a book during the day. Or run errands without having to pack snacks, fend off begging, answer 500 questions, or referee arguments over what CD we’re going to listen to in the car.

Aaaahhh. That daydream always makes me sigh.

But I do find that small, frequent breaks are usually enough to sustain me. A trip to run errands by myself can do wonders for my mental state. Getting out for a run first thing in the morning sets me off on a good foot for the rest of the day. And trying to remind myself that this stage is fleeting, despite how long the days can feel sometimes, helps me appreciate the opportunity to spend time with the moppets instead of feeling trapped by them.

Q: What book are you reading right now?

The fifth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” I wanted to reread the series after we saw the last movie, but I didn’t want to start from the beginning, so I started from the fifth book. It’s going to take me forever. One of my goals is to read more during the day so the kids can see me reading. I usually read at night before bed, and I’ve realized that if my kids don’t see me reading they’re less likely to develop the habit.

I usually have three or more books going (at least partially) at the same time, so this is pretty unusual to only have one. Unless you count curriculum guides as books. I don’t. 🙂

I really want to read “One Day” by David Nicholls and “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire. Those are next on my list. I’ll probably get to them sometime next spring. 🙂

Q: Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have a 7-year-old and a pre-teen and it’s your birthday and they are driving you nuts anyway. Hypothetically, would it be wrong to send them to boarding school?
(This question – which I know she didn’t really expect me to answer – is from my friend, P-Diddles, whom you may feel like you already know if you’ve been following my blog for a while. She’s in the same boat as me – homeschooling three kids, plus tutoring someone else’s kid. Only she has infinitely more patience and creativity than I do.)

Aw, P-Dids. Sorry your moppets gave you grief on your b-day. Hypothetically, I think we should all send our kids to boarding school and take a vacation to the Bahamas, sip on icy drinks, and read chick lit by the seaside. Hypothetically, of course.

Q: I’m interested in how you deal with society’s view that what you do – stay home with children – is not valuable or important. How do you keep convincing yourself that it is? (And it is!)

Honestly, convincing myself that it is important isn’t hard. The Baha’i writings say, “The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence . . .” It’s not always externally rewarding, but teaching kids (which is what most moms do when they stay home, even if they aren’t homeschooling) is important, noble, and eternal work. I never feel like it’s not valuable. I do feel like I could be doing a better job of it, and I feel guilty when I feel like I’m not giving it my all, but I don’t ever feel it’s unimportant.

As far as other people’s view of stay-at-home moms, I seem to have a mental/emotional filter that doesn’t let negative opinions in. Overwhelmingly, the responses I get when I tell people I stay home and/or homeschool are positive and supportive. The people who think otherwise either aren’t in my circle of acquaintances or are too courteous to tell me what they really think. I’ve only had one person speak negatively to me about homeschooling, and that was before she found out I was a homeschooler. We became friends, and I’m fairly certain I helped give her a little different picture of what a homeschooler looks like. At least I hope so. But I don’t personally receive much negativity about what I do.

As far as society in general, and the overarching sense that not bringing in a paycheck means your work isn’t valuable goes . . . well, I just don’t subscribe to that worldview. A lot of people value things that don’t matter, that don’t contribute anything to society, and that are only “valuable” in that they fill people’s pocketbooks and/or egos. I generally pay no attention to opinions from that element of society. I have no time for that kind of thinking. Not to say that I’m perfect and totally detached from material things. But I try hard to focus on things that do matter, that do have real value. Educating children and raising a healthy family matters greatly and has immeasurable value, both to me and to humanity at large. I believe that wholeheartedly.

Wee! Fun fun fun. Once again, thanks for sending in your questions. Feel free to send questions any time and I’ll save them for the next Q & A post. Ciao for now!

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

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