This Just In: Mother Collapses on Heap of Parenting Magazines  

Posted by Heidi in ,

Back when the big kids were little and we were poor and I would do anything (almost) for a buck, I wrote a tip for a parenting magazine. And they bought it! I was $25 richer (yay!) but in retrospect, I don’t think the “advice” I gave was worth the paper it was printed on. (Only, I sent it via email, so . . . whatever.)

Anywho, my tip was about birthdays and how you should take the non-birthday child (or children) for a one-on-one outing to have lunch or buy a special toy (or, gads, both!) in the week or days prior to the birthday child’s big day. The purpose of this was to help the non-birthday child (or children) feel happy and secure in their parent’s love before the birthday child was feted and worshipped for an entire day.

And I had how many children at the time? Yes! You guessed it! Two! Because only a mother of two, (or perhaps three when the third is an oblivious baby) would think of my suggestion as a do-able thing, er procedure. Option. Whatever. In fact, I cringe a little when I think how I might have caused red-hot flashes of Mommy Guilt to rise in the breast of mothers of large families everywhere. (On second thought, mothers of more than three would most likely have read it, tossed it in the air and set it on fire.)

I have to admit, I knew it was a bit absurd when I wrote it, but I write fiction, for pete’s sake, and this rose before me as a definite challenge. With a paycheck. Woo hoo! At the same time, back in the day, the Big Guy was smaller but still a Big Problem and the middle child was often, in her obedient, quiet goodness, often passed over, unnoticed and ignored. His birthday was coming and she was acting up. Her obvious jealousy unearthed a memory of me sobbing on my father’s knee because it was my little sister’s birthday and she was getting a ballerina plaque (and I wasn’t!). Guilt clutched my heart so I took my daughter out and bought her lunch and a toy and, abracadabra, she was a happy angel for her brother’s birthday. Let me tell you, it was a huge relief because the Big Guy on his birthday (or Christmas—except when things go like this:
http://heidiashworth.blogspot.com/2008/05/christmas-2006-warning-not-for.html )
is a force to be reckoned with even before adding on the antics of his sister.

The moral of the story: there are times when it might be appropriate to give one or more of your children a special day out in anticipation of a sibling’s actual birthday. Then again, there are times when spoiling the jealous brat so she’ll shut up long enough for her brother to open his presents (times however many more siblings) would be a gross miscarriage of justice.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at Sunday, September 21, 2008 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

16 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Isn't it amazing how often our parenting advice changes as we get "cringe" older...and a wee bit wiser. I have to tell you though I love reading you blog on a daily basis. It is definitely a highligh, you also got me completely addicted to my sitemeter....so thanks for that!

September 21, 2008 at 4:41 PM

Motherhood is a journey, so just laugh at how "good" advice evolves (or is it devolves?) into bad advice over time. Often it is hard to know what is right and what is wrong in the parenting business!

September 21, 2008 at 5:13 PM

Yeah, I am just not that nice. LOL Around here we just tell the non-birthday people that they will have their own special day when it is time and that for today so-and-so is king. Sorry, kids, but this is the way it is. And the definition of "fair" is that each person gets what they need. So, when my 17 yr-old son got a laptop for Christmas his senior year and the other kids got some toys and clothes they knew that because he was older and had responsibilities in school, college upcoming, etc. that this was "fair". It has taken awhile, but everyone is buying into it now!

September 21, 2008 at 5:35 PM

Christine--thank you so much! I do try. Sorry about the sitemeter . . .sorta.
Becky--thanks for your comment. I agree, it is really hard. Moms have to go with their instincts--I am a big believer that moms know what they are doing (most of them, anyway).
Kazzy--I would have to say you're doing it right. In the beginning I rarely had the privilege of doing anything the "right" way or the way I wanted to do it since my very first child was a very rare bird from day one. I grew up with such great examples, my parents and six sisters who had kids before I did--but most of the time I have had to do things the opposite way than what is "right" because the darn kid is just so nutso! I'm starting to have more average experiences with my little guy and it is so great! (The Middle Child, alas, is stuck in the middle!)

September 21, 2008 at 5:49 PM

I've decided that parenting mags are not worth it. With my first child I bought them up in droves. Now we are working on #3 and I don't even look at the ones in the doctor's office. We had a birthday this week (#2) and I have to say, I did buy #1 a little gift because she was really helpful during her brother's party and let the other 3 year olds take over her games and get into her things. So, she deserved it...but I do usually try to steer clear of buying the other kid a gift when one kid gets one. I am a last kid, so I had to learn the lesson...why not them? I guess I could always "gift" them with therapy later.

September 21, 2008 at 7:43 PM

NATA--I like that idea! My kids all need therapy anyway (or will) so why not kill to birds with one stone?

September 21, 2008 at 7:50 PM

I meant two, not to!!! Argh!

September 21, 2008 at 8:02 PM

Heidi,
Hi this is Jenny, Roxanne's daughter. I just read the comment that you made on her blog about Choosing the Right. I just wanted to thank you for your words. It was definetly food for thought. I have been so caught up in the "why is this happening to me" pitty party, that I never thought to look at it from that angle. So thank you for helping me see things from a different light, it really did make me feel so much better about my current situation. You really were an answer to my prayers and for that I am truely grateful!

September 21, 2008 at 8:53 PM

Wow, Jenny, I am humbled by your words. I didn't even stop to think that you might see what I wrote--I think I would have been more careful about what I said if I had thought it through. I feel lucky that you have enough charity to look at what I said from a positive perspective--some people might have been a bit miffed. Having said that, I still think it's true--this life is a school and if we are going to graduate and (as I tell my kids) get all the shiny presents Daddy has to give us, we have to take all the classes. Even the hard ones. Especially the hard ones. I am soooo excited for your trip to Paris! I can't wait to see all the pics!

September 21, 2008 at 9:05 PM

Heidi, it seems that with the challenge you have been given with your Big Guy you are doing everything right. And I don't consider "right" to mean one particular way. It is fluid and needs to be tailored to your needs and the needs of your family. You are a shining example of optimism!

September 22, 2008 at 6:58 AM

See Heidi,
You have blessed my families lives without even trying to. You are a wonder and a dear girl. Thanks for being my cuz
Roxanne

September 22, 2008 at 8:01 AM

Kazzy and Roxanne--thank you so much for your kind words! For so long I wondered, "what is the point of me going through so much and learning so much if I am never in a position to even share it with people?" We were so isolated by our challenges and every inch of my energy had to go to the people who lived in my house--I rarely had a chance to share what I had learned. So, I went to bed last night crying grateful tears because as much as I want my blogging to be about Me ME ME! it feels so much better when my being part of the blogging community gives me the opportunity to lift others. I think Jenny is super amazing that she would do what she did. I would love to meet her!

September 22, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Funny because a friend of mine who just had Baby #2 asked me today if it was even worth it to read all the parenting books. I said no because they just make you feel guilty (although every time I look at the shelf full of parenting books I haven't finished I have a twinge of Mommy guilt for not reading them). My bookshelf sure makes me look like a parenting expert though. HAHA.

I've also noticed that as you have more children you become far less judgemental of other parents. I cringe everytime I think of how I looked down on parents for giving their kids candy when they were throwing a tantrum in public or something along those lines. Now I laugh because I have resorted to bribery more often than I'd care to admit in a moment of parenting desperation! Just shows how true it is that until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes...

September 22, 2008 at 1:58 PM

No doubt! Before I had children, I was so sure I knew how it was all going to be. Since then I have felt very judged (a lot of it because the Big Guy has needed to be treated so differently and a lof of people assume his behavior is due to bad parenting rather than the fact that he is the Big Guy) and it just makes me shudder to even think of doing that to someone else. Unless they hurt me. Or mine. Then it's open season. :)

September 22, 2008 at 3:24 PM

You should check out Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks.
There's lots going on too:
This Month Storybox has guest illustrator Helen Oxenbury featured.

There's a Readathon happening in UK and Ireland - http://discoveryboxbooks.com/readathon.php
There's a Ghost Drawing competition in AdventureBoxBooks assiciated with the Polka Theatre ( http://www.adventureboxbooks.com/competition.php )

September 25, 2008 at 2:35 AM

Wow! My first spam post! Does this mean I have arrived?

September 25, 2008 at 7:25 AM

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