What works?

I know everyone is busy–but can I tell you about my week? Two evening events, the arrival of the corrected book proof and the flurry of first bulk orders, and a day held hostage to the carpet installers (you know, when you must stay home all day because workers are in your home). I could have written a blog entry–or at least a “sh*tty first draft– as in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
author Anne Lamott says, on that day. Then, during one evening event, my house of course, the cat with interstitial cystitis decided she’d join ranks with the Tea Party activists in the nation’s capital by placing dime-size circles of urine on every other tax document the tax preparer (i.e., my husband) had spread out on the bed. Interstitial cystitis, chronic inflammation of the urinary tract, flares up under stress. Stress, to a cat, you ask? Stress to this cat (and her sister/litter mate, who in true sibling copy cat fashion also has developed interstitial cystitis) is any change to her environment that prevents her from sleeping 22 hours a day. Like carpet installers who bang on floors, drag carpet around, and prop the door open so scary neighborhood cat smells can waft into her territory. Phew. All of this is to say forgive me for the lack of lengthy, meaningful post this week. Simply don’t know where the time went. Now you know you’re not alone–and this is a week when I need to honor my own advice and write a “Did Do” list. However, this does not mean that I haven’t been thinking about my devoted readers. I’ve collected a short list of events that triggered “who says?” in my head this week, bringing to mind two of the thinking traps from Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box: Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Still Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting. (Thinking traps are the culturally-ingrained myths about expectations of women and/or mothers that we keep in our heads.)

More, better, all is essential for success Always striving for the newest, fastest, latest improvement in anything and everything? A friend related how she and her husband just had to have a king-size bed. That was the pinnacle of “we’ve made it” adult success. And now they need not touch, ever, in bed. With plenty of room for avoidance, could the allure of king size mattresses be a factor in the epidemic of sexless marriages? A revved up, satisfying sex life is not easy if you never touch your bed buddy.

My grandmother shared another version of this same cultural drive to junk the old for the new. In the 70s, brass beds were all the rage. I was wishing aloud, hinting that one might lurk in the dusty, dim corners of her wondrous attic. She told how they had put the old solid brass bed frames out for the junk man, in favor of spanking new wood bedroom suites of furniture. The Pottery Barn catalogue look was not the sign of success in the 1930s and 1940s.

Moms have to protect their children from everything. One mom was lamenting that her children eat many French fries each week. Her preschooler was stuck on fries, eating only fries, as that age often fixates. Some say (my mother, a nutritionist by training) French fries are saving this country from scurvy because potatoes are rich in Vitamin C–and the only source of vitamin C for many. Another mom confessed guilt as all the other moms at the park slathered their kids with sunscreen. She chose not to do battle with her toddler over the process. Ah well, sunshine is our major source of Vitamin D. By slacking off on the sunscreen for that one hour, she decided she’d saved her kids from rickets.

Challenge the thinking traps, buck unrealistic expectations, and keep perspective. Does a king-size bed really define us? Is it really devastating to let your child eat French fries four days a week for three months, to make sure something passes her lips, if she eats healthy food before and after the terrible twos? Does one sunscreen free hour–or even several a season– over the course of your child’s life equal a certain health risk, if overall he is protected from serious sunburn? What works is what matters–not some arbitrary ideals about timetables we should keep or standards we should enforce or achieve. Embrace what works for you: a smaller bed, more fries, an hour of play sans sunscreen. And I’ll keep my own brain chatter going about the fact that this week, this late entry is what worked for me.

2 thoughts on “What works?

  1. Deb B says:

    WOW! What a week. Sounds like my weekend -hubby working long hours, lots of church chores and the like. So we decided the carpet could go a little longer without vacuuming and the kids could watch some more TV ! And we made it through the weekends with out too much stress and I even kicked back and watched some TV while they napped.

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