Happy World Down Syndrome Day_ a tribute to eternal love

It was decades ago but I still remember snippets like it was yesterday. Sitting shotgun in Oma’s station wagon, my flute case on my lap, rain misting over the car as we barreled down the back streets. Into the waterfront community we went. We drove to where the gardens are shaped like animals and everyone’s lawn is immaculate and level. Beautiful flowers peek out of the rockery used to secure the hillside to each home.

We pull into the driveway and ascend the stairs to the front door. I look behind me at the Sound, the water glistening off in the distance, a dreary dark blue grey with just a pocket of sunshine hitting the waves and glistening back at me. Stepping inside I’m hit by the smell of them. Not in a bad way, but in the way that everyone’s home smells a little bit different. I gaze up at her cases of trophies and collectibles while Oma and her chit chat. We walk down the stairs past photos of her, of him, of their son.

I don’t remember if I was ever able to meet her son. She talked about him a lot and had photos everywhere and I always left feeling her love and grief. The love made sense to me. The grief, not so much to my small self. I could not put words to it, but I could feel it’s cloudy presence over her heart.

She would walk me to her music room, help me get set up, kindly ask about my day while Oma sat to the side, or upstairs some days.

© Yiannos1

Joy would teach me about music. She would teach me about playing the flute, about proper breathing, reading music.

© Argument

© Argument

What I didn’t realize until many years later that she was also teaching me the strength to love in the face of grief. She taught me how to have an open heart, a patient mind and how “disability” is a state of mind and environment, not a reflection on someone’s soul, their heart or them at all.

She loved to talk about Davey. She loved to share his photo and tell me about what a loving a warm heart he had. Her beautiful son, Davey, was born with Down Syndrome.

Pilot with down syndrome

*not Davey, but a close stand-in

She always wanted a child. Joy and Herb had tried for many years. Joy was a former beauty queen and dedicated musician and singer. Herb was a brass man. Keen to the trumpet, her to the winds, together they would teach children to love music, to be good at music.

Then came Davey.  He grew from a baby to a toddler to a young boy. It was as he was turning into a young man that his generous heart gave out. They loved him so much, and I’m sure they grew to love him more and more each day even after his passing.

The look in her eye would be bright and shiny at first, then as her memories moved forward in time, the twinkle would dim and a veil of grief would sneak in. He was her only son and he was perfect.

Davey was a fighter who would constantly defy the odds. Growing older against doctor’s opinions. Going to school and embracing his life, he was a lover who welcomed every person he encountered with an open heart and compassion. He is an angel and an inspiration.

Joy was a mother who loved her son unconditionally. Her love for him was so great it gave her the strength to be a mentor to and love other people’s children. She tutored many dozens of kids in her years teaching music. The photos they would send her, for years even after going to college and moving away, are a testament of her work. (Any woman who can love someone else’s child as if he or she were her own, in the face of her own loss, is superwoman to me.)

What I took away from Joy and Davey was not a tale of loss, but a tale of dogged determination, hope and love. I don’t know if Joy and Herb are still around, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking of them and thanking them for their love.

For more information on World Down Syndrome Day click HERE

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Munday Munchies

Most weekends Raul and I do our major grocery shopping trip of the week. We pick a couple meals we’ll want to eat in the coming days by browsing food magazines, cook books and browsing online. This past weekend we didn’t go grocery shopping. I know! It’s a travesty!

All this talk of food and my almost empty fridge this morning has my inner rex feeling extra hungry. So I thought I’d share a little collection of yummy-looking, hopefully tasty treats for our inner Rex’s that will leave you and your little rexes saying “RAWR!”

Quick Side note: When my wiggly boxer, Sadie, gets hangry, she grunts and wiggles at me. I imagine her grunting would translate into something like this…

make me a sandwich

When your little rexes get hangry and grunt at you, you can make their dinos into a sandwich.

dinosaur sandwich

And don’t stress over the shape, this sandwich cutter makes it a snap. Find it HERE.

dinobytes

Maybe this is your first real foray into dino inspired meals, so let’s start easy. Mashed potatoes, Check! Broccoli, check! Dino toy, check!

On your way to a RAWR-ific meal, you can just dip your dino’s toes in the ‘tatoes with this yummy dinner set up. Give this to your small rex when they need a little inspiration to eat and you need a low commitment meal…

Dinosaur-trees-1

Or maybe you just need a small snack, a bit of protein to tide you over. With Easter just around the corner, this would be a great week to make some edible dinosaur eggs.

dino eggs

To learn how to make these click HERE

dino eggs2

If you’re feeling really creative, or you want to throw your little rexes a curveball this Easter, try making some GIANT dinosaur eggs! These are of the Brontosaurus or T-Rex variety.

dino eggs3

SHHHH!!! They’re really Watermelons!

dino eggs4

Once you’re done with lunch, dinner and the egg hunt, don’t forget dessert! There’s always room for dessert!

First a dirty Oreo dessert…

dirt-oreo-dinos

Or host your own archeological expedition into cupcakes….

dinomuffindough

I think that about wraps up our tour of tasty T-rex treats. Is your mouth watering yet?

In case you need some assistance fully embracing the Dino Dining methods, there is a book to help… click the image to be linked to Amazon.

dinosaur book

Do you want to know how to make the dishes above yourself?Click on the photo of any dish you want the recipe for and it will link you to the original source.

Happy Munday!

RAWR & ❤

Mug Alert: Leash your Rex

My inner RAWR is a little too rambunctious to be allowed off-leash in public (very often). Most of the time you’ll find me wandering around my daily life looking more like I got my inner RAWR on a leash. Seeing this mug in the morning reminds me to take my RAWR out for a walk at least once a day.

leash your rex

Mug Alert: Lincoln riding a dino, yes, that’s right.

I love searching out those objects that bring a smile, a chuckle and hopefully a laugh to someone’s day. I’m terribly sarcastic and wholly inappropriate most days and only with the right people do I make any sense. Social interaction with anyone outside of my inner circle requires multiple mental filters. And yet, with all of this awesome creativity, even from the deepest depths of my comic self, I cannot come up with a good caption for this mug (that isn’t completely and wholly inappropriate).

This mug of Abraham Lincoln (yes, our former President Abraham Lincoln) riding a T-Rex is beyond words for me.

So maybe you have a better idea, dear reader, what’s your caption?

Abe riding trex

Moment of RAWR: Supermom Ninjas

This is a tribute to the Supermom. It’s Thursday. I know you’re tired. You are probably tired to the “I just put the empty paper grocery bag in the refrigerator and didn’t even realize I did it until I went to make dinner hours later” level. And yet you soldier on. In the name of love, responsibility and with a touch of the human spirit of carrying on, your actions are not lost. Someday your children will be old and will realize just how hard this all was.

I know you’re battling lost socks, single socks, dishes, the rest of the laundry, yummies, errands, work, unfinished homework, dirty diapers and poop patrols, dental appointments, dank trash, dust balls and more. It’s like you have to be part ninja or maybe just part dinosaur to get it all done and still survive. Either way, you know you can’t stop. You know the insanity of it all, doing the same chores over and over and wishing for different result. And yet you soldier on.

So for you, the Supermom, here’s your MOMENT OF RAWR.

DinosaurFunny_ninjas

 

Mug Alert: The first Om Nom Nom

My neighborhood is in the beating heart of the coffee phenomenon. I am surrounded by caffeine addicts. They are everywhere. Before 9am it’s like the streets are overrun with zombies and only the children remain normal, happy and giggling. Standing in line at one of the thousands of coffee shops leaves you recounting the list of rules from Zombieland. Then, almost like magic, there’s actually HUMANS leaving the shop, not zombies! That coffee fix is a serious thing, not one to be messed with. My beloved coffee addicts have taught me that coffee comes before words.

© Duskbabe | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


© Duskbabe | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I am the one in a million that doesn’t drink coffee. There’s something about it’s taste that just, well, isn’t my cup of tea. It’s mostly drinking it that repels me, but I’m not opposed to making it for my beloved coffee addicts. It’s taken a few years but I actually like making coffee now. It’s a great way to make easy friends… the zombies always smile at the person handing them a hot cup of java. It’s become an act of love.

In honor of my beloved coffee addicts, I’m starting the Mug Alert post. Now you can remind yourself and those you love to let out their inner RAWR, first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee done just right.

The OmNomNomivore

onnomnommug

Dino Friends at Freddies for Easter

While browsing the ridiculously low priced past-Valentine’s day candy to replenish my chocolate stash, I was shocked to see Easter toys already out! We’ve still got to get through St. Patty’s Day! So intrigued by the Easter toys and caught reminiscing about all my awesome Easter Egg hunts as a kid and their resulting chocolate stashes… I wandered the aisles until I stopped in my tracks at these cheerful rawrs.

Dino friends 1

They are NOT dog toys but dino buddies for your babies and big boys in cheery colors and a species for every species. A lot of kids come born with their RAWR out and unabashed and learn to tamper it down as they grow older, fitting in with society. Instead of the Rat Race, let’s stick with the Dinosaur Age and learn to RAWR a little.

Dino Friends 2

Dino Friends 3

Dino Friends 4

In my area, Fred Meyer sells Kroger, so you may find them at your local Kroger affiliate. Happy Hunting!

Dino Squishies at Target

With one big and one little Doggie-sidekick, I’m always on the look out for new “squishies”* or soft dog toys to keep their minds occupied. We have some pretty high standards too. Squishies must be well seamed, durable, and of course, enticing to gnaw on.

Dinosaur Dog Toys Target 1

Raul and I stumbled upon some new selections** at Target. They’ve got a few different color flavors to suit any dog. $7.99 for a slice of rawr, so check your local Target.

Dinosaur Dog Toy Target 2

If you’re looking for some solid dino Squishies, check out QPG’s other Dino collection. We’ve had good success with some of their toys, “Chicken” is a favorite.

Dinosaur Dog Toy Target 3

*Squishies is not in reference to any child. We do not condone doggies gnawing on kiddos. Or babies.

*We have not tested these particular dinosaur squishies yet, but will post a review when the girls have completed their evaluations.

Love, All Grown Up

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. Be a tree, give fruits, flowers, shade to others without expecting anything from others. Whatever you want from others first you have to give that to others. Whatever you give to others, you will be given in return. If you give love, respect to others then surely you will be given love and respect from others. That’s why we should learn to give good things to others.”- Deepak Panwar freeimage-814506 A couple years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in the midst of a marriage crisis. We had no idea how, but we had gone from twitterpated young lovers to disillusioned married people. We fought constantly, and our words were almost always disrespectful, sarcastic, and unkind. We tried everything we could think of to reconnect: Date nights, talking more, sharing interests… it all just ended up serving as the Band-Aid over the gunshot wound. We were toeing the line of ending a marriage and splitting a family.

I stumbled across an advertisement for a marriage self-help book one day. In my head I scoffed and thought about how silly and trite it probably was. But, part of me knew I was running out of options to save my marriage. I ordered it, and jumped into reading. Of course, some of it was exactly what I expected in terms of catch phrases and fluff. To my complete shock, the main message was absolutely revolutionary to me. It told me to stop demanding and expecting from my partner. To stop speaking and behaving disrespectfully. My brain rebelled, “But, he makes me angry! He disrespects me! I’m not going to roll over and let that happen to me! I’m not going to bend over backwards for someone who won’t do the same.” I sat with these feelings for a good week until I finally figured I could probably swallow my pride long enough to give it a go… because honestly, what else could I do?

We decided to table the issues we had been arguing about for months. It wasn’t about better listening or communicating more clearly. It wasn’t about expressing needs asking for concessions. The focus was on the here and now- our words and actions towards each other in each moment. We were challenged to behave as we did in the beginning of our relationship with random acts of kindness and love. It wasn’t overnight, but change started to happen. We began to look at our relationship in terms of what we could bring to each other, and not what the other person owed us. Hearts softened, and we learned that though we couldn’t take back old slights and wrongs, we could forgive them without having to battle over who was right or responsible. Our words and actions towards each other became kind and respectful. The knot in my stomach that was all the old hurt and anger I had been hanging onto started to melt away, and I felt like I could breathe again. Of course, no couple is perfect, and sometimes old habits like to run amuck. But, we continually came back to the idea that we were in this relationship to love each other, not to tear each other down or win emotional battles.

What is left today is a relationship that feels all grown up. We are happy and, dare I say, still a bit twitterpated. We are tackling life one day at a time, and we do it knowing that we are a team. Not because we have to be, but because we choose to be. We love, laugh, trust, respect, forgive, and keep moving forward.
couple on beach
Relationships grow and evolve through so many phases- lust, twitterpation, adventure, comfort… But I truly think that love grows into its finest form when you realize that your highest calling to your relationship is to treat your partner with infinite kindness and respect. When you can look at them and know that you want nothing more than to never be a source of pain or disrespect to them… and that is reflected back at you. That it’s not about being right or in charge. That it doesn’t matter who makes more money or has more success. I think it’s when you realize that you can take on the world and anything in it… because you are a unit based in respect and driven by the desire to do right by each other. That binds you tightly to each other, and how can trials tear you apart if there isn’t a gap for a foothold to be had?

#Erin

Too many d*cks on the dancefloor…

A Reader: There’s the Testosterone Conundrum… Teenage boy + step father = constant conflict & disagreements so what do I do?

Father and Son

Boys boys boys. Growing up in a house full of two “little” brothers, a wrestling match or stinky hamper was never far away. Neither was a fight over our mom’s attention. Like two dueling dancers, they’d each try to out-do the other until she noticed. Even when you love the boys in your life they can be stinky, LOUD, rude, and messy all at once without realizing it themselves. Lots of testosterone can certainly strain a family relationship. It doesn’t even take a full grown boy to disrupt a family dynamic, even a Preggosaurus Rex growing a little boy can produce enough testosterone to kick the circus off-queue. So what is a mama rex to do when the going gets too RAWR?

The first step is to channel it. I like to think of testosterone as steam in a kettle. The more of it a guy has, the more forcefully he needs it to be turned into spent energy. You can’t just cap the steam and expect it to go away, it needs a healthy outlet. Finding some activity they can do together, maybe it’s race RC cars, or go to batting practice or work on a car, or whatever it may be for your boys, will go a long way in helping them bond in a healthy way. The more healthy outlets they have in common, the stronger a relationship they’ll be able to build.

There’s also some sticky family dynamics at play, underneath all the hormones and beating their chests with fists. There is a father-son dynamic that needs support. Right now, as a teenager, your son can’t see the big picture and long term because his pre-frontal cortex is just not quite there. It will take him a few years to realize your husbands’ actions aren’t putting restrictions on him or reigning him in just to be mean, but rather to give him guidance that typically comes from Dad. Finding ways to nurture this bond is tricky and often, a well-intentioned plan can backfire in your face. Some degree of Mama-Sneak is called for, but not too much. You can send them on errands together, find new activities that they both have to try (outdoor stuff is good because they burn much more energy and come home tired!), but be careful being too sneaky in setting activities up.

Something that seems to work well for the men I love in my life, but certainly is not appropriate for everyone, is being the rube for them in those crucial bonding situations. When they can be on the same ‘team’ because they’re both laughing with (and usually at) me, I don’t take it personal because I know they in the end, they’ll be more bonded, and it’s not like there’s any less love then.

The other consideration is to be an open listener for your son. This means to LISTEN and not judge or try to problem solve but just listen. He’s reaching an age where he wants to emotionally attach and if you and him have a good relationship, he’ll attach back to you. This is not attachment in some weird way but rather he’ll develop a deeper trust with you. He’ll be comfortable sharing more than the typical teenage boy shares with his mother about the happenings of his life. The goal is for you and his Step-father to be there for him as a solid support- through dumb decisions and good decisions.

And when all else fails, “RAWR” at them.

How to avoid packing the kitchen sink: 15 tips for RAWR-free travel

Flying and traveling is in my blood. Ever since my dad was a 7 year old little boy flown on his first plane ride in a rickety, gut-lifting bug smasher- he was hooked. He ever so kindly passed along the love of gut-lifting excitement to his eldest, me. There’s nothing quite like that moment when your intestines rise in defiance of gravity and your body exudes adrenaline and your mouth utters an unstoppable “WHEEE!!!!!”. At least for me it’s a positive feeling (unlike poor Raul who is NOT a fan of gut-lift). However, that feeling doesn’t always come to me in positive moments of pure blissful excitement. I also get that feeling anytime I’m about to start packing.
High Flying Marie
There is something about delineating my daily needs into a finite space that must travel with me for X days that is gut-liftingly terrifying. The thought of picking only ONE black sweater and only TWO pairs of shoes and maybe just the RIGHT dress leaves my heart racing and a panic attack around the corner.

Usually a two or three day jaunt only takes me a few hours to whittle my possessions down. The worst was when I did a study abroad and was going to be in Europe for a month. Beyond buying the biggest suitcase I could find (tip: Bigger is not always better, especially when you need to carry that big ass bag across Roman-era cobblestones!), I spent close to a week picking out clothes only to put them back. I stayed up ALL NIGHT the night before my flight, obsessing over all the little things I could or should bring. I consulted all the travel guides I could afford. I was going for that sleek world-traveler look and ended up over packing what I didn’t need and under packing what I could have used (um, Europeans wear jeans. Somehow I didn’t think that was possible and did not pack a single pair. Wearing khakis and dresses left me standing out more than if I’d brought that saggy pair of GAP jeans! How was that NOT in my guide books?!?)!
Flight Tracker
Having been packing up my belongings and moving or embarking on road trips or plane hops since I was just a wee fat baby, I’ve learned a few things in my traveling years. This is my attempt to help you avoid an angry RAWR and experience easier traveling days ahead…

1. Have one sturdy, medium-large checkable suitcase. Hard sides help protecting your stuff but can also be restrictive in what you can pack. Plan to use this suitcase for any trip lasting longer than a week to a destination requiring anything more than skimpy swimsuits.

2. Have one light carry-on suitcase that fits the maximum carry-on dimensions for the airlines you fly. Make sure it has wheels and a long handle. It’s even better if the wheels are ultra flexible and can move in more than two directions (back and forth only sucks, aim for multi-directional).

3. Have one lighter bag that is larger than a purse but still fits the required dimensions for carry-on. A computer bag is a good example- you can really max out a good computer bag. Also make sure it has a good strap. Few things suck more than getting a hickey and a fat bruise on your shoulder because you’re running for gate 19 with a bag that has a poorly designed strap.

4. You really can fit more everyday clothes in a bag if you roll them. But know they get wrinkly so pick a place with an iron, a steamy bathroom or hosts who don’t care. Before stuffing your life’s possessions into a carrier, be sure to place suits and nice dresses carefully and flatly along the bottom of the suitcase.

5. Always bring extra socks and undies, but you don’t need to roll them. 😉

6. Pack one outfit for a cold day and one for a hot day (relative to where you’re headed). Then pack layers to get you between the two. For instance, a tank top, camisole or undershirt, a short sleeved shirt and a long sleeved shirt can easily get you a few days of wear.

7. Pack only one nice outfit, but two nice shirts. If you find yourself surprised with a dressy event, you won’t have to re-wear your only nice outfit but won’t have to lug two full outfits with you.

8. If you’ll be gone for less than a week, you shouldn’t check a bag. I’m serious. Suck it up and pare it down. Even with all the 20 minute bag delivery promises, do you really want some creepy TSA guy searching through your chonies for explosives that didn’t originate from you?

9. If you do have to check a bag, leave some dirty chonies on top. No one wants to touch your dirty undies. I know it sounds pretty disgusting but even creepy TSA guys get grossed out by dirty chonies. (Just not the really really creepy ones, but let’s hope the TSA has been good at weeding them out or keeping them away from our chonies.) Ever since I started doing this packing arrangement for checked luggage, even the times my bag is “Searched” it’s not really searched. I know because they don’t set off the boobie traps, they just leave the flyer that your bag has been searched.

10. Pack extra ziploc bags (sandwich and larger for a flexible variety) and include some plastic grocery bags. Use the grocery bags to keep your shoes’ cooties off your goods. The other bags will be self-evident the moment you need them.

11. Leave the jewelry at home. Seriously. Don’t hold up the security line because you have 10 pieces of jewelry to strip out of. Don’t go to a country more impoverished than the one you came from with all your precious family jewels around your neck or on your fingers. You’re just asking for trouble.

12. Getting through security quickly can be a breeze: Pick shoes that slip on and off. I personally love wearing my Costco-sourced slippers because they’re comfy and if they get gross, I won’t feel bad about tossing them. Pick an outfit to wear while traveling that is comfy and easily washed while traveling. Please, leave the bedazzled jean jacket at home. No one likes the person holding up the security line because they didn’t think about what they were going to wear to the airport. Remember to empty your pockets before you hand over your ID and boarding pass, even that cell phone that has grown into one of your appendages should be tucked away in a bag.

13. Go to your favorite department store’s make-up counter the week before your flight and schmooze a nice sales lady into giving you a couple free samples. Usually a face wash or mask will last more than one use and you won’t need to lug a huge bottle or buy new at your destination. If you feel bad about schmoozing, buy just one thing then you won’t feel so bad. But the idea is to get little sample packets that pack nicely.

14. Still wondering how NOT to pack the kitchen sink… here’s my method for a trip lasting 3 days to a week:
Bare Essentials
-1 pair of undies and socks for EVERY day you’re gone
-1 casual outfit (jeans or khakis and a t-shirt or comfortable clothes suitable for being in public)
-1 nice outfit (slacks and nice top with sweater or suit)
-1 crazy comfy outfit (pi’s, ounge wear, sweatpants and non-public-worthy clothing is good)
-1 medium weight jacket or sweater (even airplanes are cold on the way to Cabo)
-1 nice pair of shoes and 1 casual pair of shoes you can walk for more than an hour in
– If your destination climate is cold, pack 1 pair of long johns
– If your destination climate is hot, remember your swim suit. Unless you’re going to a nude beach, no one wants to see your junk.
– Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, face soap, moisturizer and sunblock, a comb, make-up (if you wear it!).

15. Backups:
How much quantity you bring depends on the number of days traveling. If you’ll be gone for more than a week, multiply quantities by two for each extra week of travel up to four weeks.
– 1 or two casual tops- to be layered or mixed with casual pants
– 1 ‘Sunday best’ shirt or top to be worn with Nice outfit
– Ladies can substitute a skirt or dress for any outfit above
– work out clothes and shoes
– scarves, sweaters and accessories- aim for ones that coordinate with multiple outfits to save space

I’m sure there’s more and may need to write a sequel because I know I’m forgetting some very important tips… but enough about me.

What are some of your best traveling tips?

Dino Yummies for Doggies

Dinosaur Nylabone

Maybe your dog isn’t motivated by ripping the guts out of simulated nature. Maybe, just maybe, your dog wants to just chew on bones. All day. Bone in paw, butt on sofa, ah, heaven. If that’s the case, check out this Nylabone shaped T Rex! Maybe your dog is a dino-snob and would rather spare the T-Rexes.

They’ve got you covered with the Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus. Nylabone Stegasaurus

Now, before you go rush out and buy a bunch of new chew toys, make sure you read the ingredients and watch for signs of allergies. Many dogs are allergic to certain foods, sometimes contained in chewable products like Nylabone. If you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction, please seek veterinary support.

Dino Eggs for Doggies

Egg babiesWhen the wiggles in our lives need a new puzzle, I love turning to the Egg Babies collection. We’ve tried many non-food based toys but the one that brings the same joy to my dogs as ripping the “guts” out of a live animal (ew.) is none other than the Egg Babies Dog toys.

The experience gets better when, instead of picking up the pieces of a broken squishy, you can easily stuff all the eggs back in the toy and start again. We also like to mix it up with the occasional Kong or baby carrot.

Find your Dinosaur Egg Babies Dog toys on Amazon.

Our pack’s go-to favorite?

Clearly the Dinosaur! He still survives to be stuffed another day!Egg Baby dinosaur_belly view with eggs

Photo Jan 22, 7 15 09 PM

Dino on a stick

Dinosaur Candy moldWith company in town and feeling touristy, Raul and I ventured down to Pike Place Market last week. We found ourselves wandering in Sur la Table and myself drooling over this cute dinosaur candy mold!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’d actually be the early bird catching the worm, er, dinosaur.  Um, YUM!

However yummy the dinos might be, I’ve never made candy dinosaurs before so I thought I’d find some support. The awesome gals at A Beautiful Mess outlined a step-by-step approach to crafting successful dinosaurs on sticks.

Should you feel inspired to get your own set from Sur la Table then I wish you happy molding as you bring tasty dinosaurs back from extinction.

Hop on board the baby train!

ID-10060524

A Reader:

“I’m 40 and pregnant with my 4th kid. Only my husband and a few friends know. My third son is just now approaching 1 year and while pregnant with him, I had family and friends commenting on how old I was. Now that I’m expecting again, how do I tell family that will be less than thrilled about baby #4 (this includes my oldest son, stepmom and other family members)?”

Marie:

First my dear reader, congratulations on your pregnancy! Children are miracles and blessings regardless of the sacrifice that comes with them or opinions of those in their lives. Before we worry about what anyone else thinks, I’m curious how YOU feel about the bun in your oven. Are you excited? Scared? Disappointed or upset? Nervous? Hopeful? I ask because how you feel will affect how everyone else reacts to your news. If your underlying emotion is tinged with anxiety, anyone you share with will pick up on that emotion. If you are bursting with excitement (maybe this is a girl?!?) then it will be easier for them to get excited with you.

As for sharing this joyful news, don’t share it any earlier than you are comfortable. A lot can happen in a pregnancy and caution at over-sharing can sometimes be for the best. However, you don’t want to keep a secret for too long because then you’ll risk alienating those closest to you by not being honest with them.

If this is going to be your last babe, you may want to have some fun with sharing this information. Maybe do a ‘reveal’ party? Although these are typically for revealing the gender, maybe you have a party a bit earlier to celebrate the baby on the way? Or you reveal the gender and pregnancy at the same time to peripheral family and friends? Maybe you reveal your secret only to those closest to you on a special family outing?

Speaking of family, I would vote for sharing with your son and closest relatives before sharing with the peripheral relatives for two reasons: trust and trust. If you’ll be relying on anyone in your immediate family for support with the young-uns, you’ll want to make sure they’re on board the baby train with you sooner rather than later.

As for your oldest, being an oldest child myself, I can empathize with how he might feel. If he’s become a ‘mommy’s helper’ for you, I would strongly encourage you and your husband to discuss some alternatives to relying on your oldest. Although it is tempting to ask him for help, you might be putting more on his shoulders than should rest there. As the oldest he’s already keenly aware of responsibility in general and what specific responsibilities are required of him. Putting too much on his shoulders may leave him growing up to feel like he always has to be the responsible one. This isn’t necessarily bad for his future (he’s more likely to focus on his education, find a good job and drive himself to achieve more), but it could be bad for his self-image and just isn’t fair to him. He also could run the other way, away from responsibility! Playing caretaker can also leave him confused about his role. If he’s reinforcing family rules, baby-sitting and caring for his younger siblings, it will be easy for him to feel like a parent. But then when dad comes home and reminds him he’s not the dad, inside it will lead to confusion (“but… I was just acting like the dad…”).

What’s the antidote to the responsible older sibling syndrome? Making sure he has time for fun and to be ‘free’ of responsibility at least once a day or a few times a week. Part of sharing the news with your oldest should include some plan you and dad have already discussed that ensures he will still have time to be a kid. If you can ensure him that, I think he’ll be happy to jump on the baby train with you.

Although how you tell everyone is important, I think it’s less important than how you handle their reactions and the weeks and months to follow. You may need to be thick skinned for a few months. Once the baby comes, those baby hormones will probably bring everyone else around to jumping on the baby train.

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