Monday, May 30, 2011

The privilege - and daunting responsibilty of being a positive role model

Motherhood forced me to up my game. Pre-Pudding Pie, I smoked daily, ate poorly, exercised as little as possible and seldom spent leisure time outdoors.

That all changed when my baby girl arrived. Previously, I had tried – and failed - to quit smoking. Yet on the day that I discovered I was pregnant, I dumped my pack of cigarettes in the trash without a second thought and, five years later, I haven’t looked back. I couldn’t imagine smoking during pregnancy, much less continuing the grim habit in front of my child.

I guess that was my first act of positive role modeling for Pudding Pie – even if she was still snug in the womb. From that day forward, I found myself re-evaluating everything in my life, from what I ate to what I believed in.

Four plus years down the line and I have a daughter who is smart and perceptive, nothing gets by her. She absorbs everything she sees and her choices are very much informed by what she observes in her parents. Her unblinking belief in my ability to make the right decisions is humbling; the power I have to shape the type of person my daughter will grow up to become is a privilege - and a daunting responsibility.

I know how much my own mother’s opinions and ideals helped shape the person I am today. All through my childhood (and beyond), I worshipped my mom - no one was wiser, more talented or more beautiful. She adored my sisters and I right back and we basked in the warm glow of her safe love. I had complete faith in her wisdom (at least before I hit my teens…), her world view informed my own.

As I began my own journey into motherhood, the biggest lesson I took from my mom was knowing that I wished to create the same haven of happiness, security and sound values for Pudding Pie.

My mother's belief in my abilities gave me the confidence to believe in myself. She also taught me that any job worth doing, is worth doing well and ‘almost perfect’ never cuts it. An excellent seamstress, she taught me how to sew to her own rather lofty standards. (I spent more time unpicking garments that I did putting them together.) Today, I still find myself examining seam lines and frowning over crooked hems -“shoddy work”.

Her compassion for animals, the value she placed on a good education, her insistence that her children travel abroad and experience other cultures, her urgings to aim high – all of these values and beliefs she passed on to myself and my sisters and they shaped our own characters.

In my own capacity as positive role model, work hard to set a good example but I slip from time to time. I've shown impatience, especially when I’m behind the wheel of our car and frustrated. Another driver cuts me off, I gnash my teeth, bemoaning their stupidity. Then I hear a pious voice from the back seat admonishing me: “mommy, it’s not appropriate to call someone that…” I can’t help but smile.

I'm reminded that, although I'm far from perfect, the good stuff I'm teaching is getting through. Those admonitions to 'be kind' and 'be respectful' to others are being heeded.

The other day we were at a kids gym. I watched my girl standing in line, waiting her turn to go on the spinning swing thing. The girl in front of her was being a tad haphazard and distracted about remaining in line – she kept weaving out of line and losing her place. Other kids were becoming impatient and going ahead with their own turns, but Pudding Pie wasn't. She was doggedly waiting her turn - which would have been directly after the distracted girl.

I could see her trying to sort through her dilemma: she wanted to swing; she could see the other kids going ahead and taking their turns, but she knew it wasn't nice to cut in front of another kid, so she didn't - and she was getting further and further away fom her turn on the swing. Eventually, I intervened, the distracted girl got steered to the front of the line and the long-suffering Pudding Pie had her turn shortly thereafter. I was so proud of my little girl's determination to do the right thing.

To help give moms the tools and resources needed to teach kids important life lessons, The National Milk Mustache got milk? campaign has a new interactive section on their Facebook page.Click over, 'like' them and find out important information on the importance of role models in a child's life. While there, have fun creating your very own milk mustache, and send a customizable e-postcard to someone you care about.

You'll also find recipes that include milk, and tips on easy ways to add more dairy to your family's daily diet. Definitely a subject I'll be visiting. Pudding Pie begins her day with a glass of milk and she ends her day with a glass of milk. But, there was a time she wouldn't drink milk. We overcame the hurdle by adding a dash of chocolate milk to her regular milk and the problem was solved!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the National Milk Mustache got milk? Campaign and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pudding Pie Learns a Little Responsibility

My 'to do' list seems unending, I never manage to get to the end of it. I often think about much I'd like a secret helper genie, some cute little creature who was content to live in a lamp or a bottle or whatever floated their boat. I'd uncork my genie each day, she'd do her thing and we'd all be happy as clams, the end.

So, um, back to reality. No genie on her way and the laundry's still piled up, the dirty dishes are wallowing in the dirty sink, the trash must go out today or our neighbors are going to think we've buried someone in here, its 1:37 pm and the beds aren't made (and probably still won't be at 1:37 pm tomorrow), Pudding Pie is asking for another snack and I have to start getting ready for work. Domestic bliss.

I decided I needed help and, because no genie is flitting our way, I've been trying to make the cute little creature who does reside in my home a teeny bit more accountable. Its true, Pudding Pie is only four, but there are tangible things a four-year-old can accomplish that help keep mom on the right side of sanity!

Merely asking Pudding Pie to step up doesn't cut it, there have to be rewards. I needed a way to encourage her to want to help around the home by setting her small, manageable chores/duties, with rewards for accomplishing each task. This is where Pudding Pie's grand chore chart came in.

Yesterday marked the end of our first seven days of implementing a Chore Chart, and I'm thrilled at how well it worked. I can't take credit here, I didn't come up with this idea myself, I found a Kids Chore Chart on and I loved the concept. Once we’d customized the chart for our purposes, we began the system – with great results!

Our Kids Chore Chart has room for seven different chores per day and, for Pudding Pie's chores, we chose “get dressed,” “put things away,” “clean my room,” “practice my reading,” “put clothes in the hamper,” “put on my pjs,” and “go to bed on time.” Apparently easy tasks, but pretty tall orders for a feisty four year old !

You can choose to print out your customized Chore Chart and check the tasks off each evening with real stickers, or you can complete it online with virtual stickers. We chose the online method and Pudding Pie was thrilled to be able to select a different reward sticker for each completed chore at the end of each day!

I confess that this first time around, I kept things very positive and made sure that even when Pudding Pie lapsed a little, she still received her reward sticker for each task accomplished/kind of accomplished... I wanted to ease her into the whole idea of meeting expectations and right now, she is buoyed up with pride at having accomplished her goals.

At the end of our week, we could select a final sticker for each task, either Superstar! or "Keep trying, you can do it!" - depending on how fully her goals had been achieved. Pudding Pie was a "Superstar!" across the board . Next week, we’ll begin a new Chore Chart and this time I’ll be a little firmer about needing her to more fully achieve her goals, but we're on the right track!

It has been a wonderful thing to watch my daughter willingly participate in her chores – even if her motives are purely reward driven... Actually, I'm perfectly okay with this, by taking responsibility for her chores, she feels that she is making her own important contribution to our family, and we are so proud!

Pudding Pie takes a break from responsibility and experiments with the Halloween make up...

This is a compensated review on behalf of
MomSelect, any opinions expressed are solely my own.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Everyday Bliss of being a Mom

Today I celebrated my 5th Mother’s Day. How lucky I am. Over four years of basking in the bliss of motherhood; over four years of watching my precious girl cross off milestones on her journey through life.

Being a mother means everything to me. The role has forever redefined me, I've learned patience, understanding, self-sacrifice and I've discovered a capacity for love which I never could have imagined.

While there are wonderful, memorable milestones that happen throughout a child's life, the joy of being a mom does not reside so much in these as in the simple everyday events that we take for granted.

Here are some of my favorite moments: Her furrowed brow as she concentrates on brushing her teeth each morning; the way she scolds our kitty cat for some real or imagined transgression; the range of emotions playing across her face as she watches a movie; the care she takes getting dressed/'getting beautiful', (skirts and dresses are paired together, every bracelet, every necklace, every hairband is needed for the outfit - less is never more when you’re four); her insistence on wearing mismatched socks; the way she tries (unsuccessfully) to let myself or her dad have a turn at winning a board game; her excitement at finally (kind of) learning to hula; the adorable way she ‘mothers’ her dolls; the way she loves to execute random ballet moves, (because she is a 'very good dancer'); the way she rifles through my make up drawer, in spite of my protests, and pretends to apply it herself; and, most of all, her sweet and never-ending supply of hugs.

The much-anticipated arrival of Pudding Pie was the high point of my life. But, as much as that day was filled with joy and wonderment, it was also the day I had my first panic attack.

Nobody told me about the cold hand of fear that would grip my heart when I held my newborn and suddenly understood the value of her life to me.

The idea that anything might happen to harm her nauseated me. I felt my chest constrict, I had difficulty breathing and I trembled so violently that I couldn’t lift her off my chest. I had to press the buzzer and tearfully call for assistance. And, when several nurses galloped into my room, gently lifted my child out of my arms, placed her back in the safety of her bassinette and attempted to calm me, I wept uncontrollably.

I had begun to comprehend the weight of the responsibility I bore as her mother, and I felt ill-prepared. More than that, I finally understood how my happiness was forever entwined with her well-being, and I felt achingly vulnerable. I felt as if I’d never be able to sleep again - my journey into motherhood had begun.

After the flood of emotions that accompanied the birth of Pudding Pie, I did find peace within my new role and my anxieties subsided. I still fret about her safety, her health, her diet, her sense of self-worth, the list is endless…

But, I understand now that this worrying is the lot of every mother, and, while we will be anxious no matter what, it shouldn't be all-consuming. Instead, the focus should be on the immense happiness that our children bring to our lives, and the joyful adventure that is motherhood.

Each year, on the second Sunday in May, I thank God for the gift he has given me - the role of mother, and I pray, I pray so hard that my child will live a long, happy, healthy life filled with love and peace – for her sake as well as my own.

I wrote this post as part of Johnson’s ‘Treasuring Everyday Joy” campaign, in honor of Mother’s Day. Johnson's, trusted partner to moms for over 100 years, is also currently running the following Facebook campaigns:

With every “promise” (“like”) made at, Johnson’s will donate $1 to the March of Dimes. Do click over for this worthwhile cause.

Beginning this month, Johnson’s is hosting a series of photo contests on its Facebook page. Selected monthly winners will receive one of a variety of prizes - and be eligible for the $25,000 Grand Prize, to be announced in January 2012!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Johnson’s and received Johnson’s Baby products and a promotional item and to facilitate my review.