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Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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“Should” Parenting

It is natural to have preconceived notions of what parenting will be like prior to having children. The reality of actually parenting little beings with their own desires/talents/wills/limitations is another story altogether. Add to that the conflicting information posted on the web, in parenting books, and on social media and it can be downright confusing.

What adds to the complexity of parenting are the ‘shoulds’ that inevitably permeate the landscape of parenting whether from some ingrained ideas from ones own childhood, from the news or other research, or from what other parents are doing.

I feel no compulsion to keep up with the Joneses and I do not see parenting as a competition. I have a live and let live mentality which extends to parenting decisions as well. I suspect I want what a lot of parents want for their children which is for them to be healthy, happy, well rounded, well-adjusted, decent contributors to society.

I’ve been witnessing some friends’ frazzled lives where between both parents working full-time and their kids being enrolled in myriad extra-curricular activities (tae kwon do, karate, hapkido, gymastics, Chinese, swim, ballet, piano, drums, guitar, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, chess, tennis, golf, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, chorale, pottery, etc) there is no time to just ‘be’. There is the never ending shuttling of kids from activity to activity and the complaint from their parents that they are stressed and exhausted.

My older son takes one after school, once/week Lego building class and is involved in Adventure Guides (which has a very laissez faire schedule). While at school he takes French, music, science, PE, computers, and art. As a family, we spend a lot of time together. He has play dates, goes to birthday parties, attends summer and winter camp and that’s about it.

I don’t feel like he is missing out on anything. We expose him to a lot and encourage him to try new things but unless and until he shows an interest in something (as he has with Lego and he has taken classes for 3 yrs now), I just don’t feel the need to push him into anything or make sure all his after school time is scheduled.

Yet, and even without intention or malice, I feel a degree of ‘don’t you think you should’ from other moms. It isn’t done directly but is usually a reaction to learning how little we schedule him in. Don’t get me wrong, we do push him, to read, to explore, to play, to challenge himself but we just don’t accomplish that by scheduling him in a variety of activities. Just today, in trying to arrange a play date with one of his friends from school, the mom responded that between soccer, basketball and baseball there was no time this weekend. No time for kids to play with each other just seems odd to me.

I feel like I am supposed to (or should) be more driven to get him involved in all sorts of things, but for who? For his sake? Maybe to make others feel better about their own decisions? That is part of it, isn’t it? Showing others the great things we are doing for our kids? Only, I just do not see it that way. My kids are going to have their whole adult lives to be stressed out, why would I want to start that now? And, it IS stressful for kids to not have enough down time. Sure, my older son sometimes complains that he is bored, but that is part of being a kid. Not knowing how to be bored (or, better, not knowing how NOT to be bored) is a life skill.

I am not frazzled or stressed or overwhelmed by his (and, soon to be, their) activities. Our life together feels very manageable and I both cherish and relish this time. I know it won’t always be this way. They already grow up too fast, and I don’t want to speed that up by having him (and soon to be, them) spend more time away from me, away from home than with me at home or out and about. I’m not sure that that is how to raise well-adjusted, independent beings.

As a child, my parents didn’t enroll us in anything. I didn’t participate in sports, I didn’t take dance, I wasn’t a Girl Scout. I did take piano lessons. I did learn how to ride a horse and spent many summers doing so. I did go to cotillion. I was a debutante. But almost all of my after school time was either spent at home or at one of the neighbors or with my grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins.

I think about how I want my sons to remember their childhood because I know that how they perceive it will, in part, shape who they become. Yes, I want them exposed to a variety of activities, which I think happens as they go to birthday parties and school events and as we schedule outings with friends. He’s expressed an interest in golf, so his dad will take him golfing and we’ll enroll him in a golf camp or arrange lessons to see what he thinks. But, he doesn’t have the temperament for team sports, something we’ve discussed with him a number of times, and while I know I could sign him up for soccer or basketball or baseball, my gut tells me that it would be a struggle and another cause for battling with him (to go to practice, to go to games, to not be frustrated with himself). I have friends who say their kids hate this or that activity but they seem to continue on regardless.

I have no judgement on those who believe in enrolling their kids in many activities, I really don’t. I do wonder, sometimes, why they do and what we’re missing, but their life is not my life so I don’t care what they do. Maybe I should ;)

13 comments to “Should” Parenting

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  • Mari Passananti

    I agree. Less is more in our house too. I. The winter we ski and he just started piano. In summer, he will learn to swim, which is the one extra I find nonnegotiable.
    In general, I’m a big fan of letting kids choose their extras, and like you, I spent much of my life around horses. Didn’t leave time for a lot of the other sports/extras and I think that’s ok.

  • Ana

    I agree completely, but am wondering if this is easier with little kids than it is when they grow up and want to do all the things their friends are doing (maybe). So far we only do swimming, and we took the winter off, so will start back in a couple of weeks. Its a half hour every Sunday for each (though we couldn’t get them at the same time, that’s the problem). We are also starting soccer at a park near their daycare for both boys this spring. I insisted that we do it Friday afternoon, so basically they will get picked up early from daycare (we will make our schedules work so one of us can leave work early) and it won’t in any way take away from our weekend time together.
    I agree with Mel about kids needing time to decompress and putter around the house on weekends, we make sure they have plenty of time to get bored and come up with creative play and also to PLAY TOGETHER since they are in different levels and classes at daycare and never get to see each other for 35 hours a week!
    I also really really treasure having uninterrupted family time together in the evenings and weekends and would hate to relinquish that to cart them around here and there. I’m savoring the ability to do this while we can since I’m sure it can change; though I know more and more families now that are putting their foot down and severely limiting activities (though even if its one or two per child, that’s still two to four TOTAL unless they do things together, which is unlikely with an age difference).
    Good things to think about.

  • sarah

    Yes! We have only the bare minimum of extracurricular activities at our house too, and they serve double duty: get us out of the house on the weekends in winter before everyone goes stir crazy. We both work full time and with homework and after school care picks ups and the like, it is absolutely impossible to cram one more thing in the weekday line up.

    I’ve been struggling with the “shoulds” of parenting lately too, mostly via parenting articles posted by friends on faceboook and pinterest. I’m all for intentional parenting that reinforces positive relationships in families, but I honestly don’t have the energy for researching must less implementing some of these ideas. When did not giving kids consequences for poor behavior become an “in” parenting thing? Time-outs are out? We’re supposed to make every single mundane chore (toothbrushing, etc) a game for kids now lest we *gasp* have an actual conflict with our kid? I’m absolutely not judging parents who have the energy for this, and of course I don’t think we should run a family like the military, but I just get lost in the sheer volume of different approaches there are to parenting. In all honesty, I don’t think anything is broken in our house in this regard so I’m not in a rush to change anything, but every time someone posts an article on social media, I do question myself…

    Anyway, thanks for posting. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there who compares herself to other moms in the trenches…

  • M

    Mom of 2, iiwii didn’t say that working full time makes your kids overscheduled. Reread the paragraph:

    “I’ve been witnessing some friends’ frazzled lives where between both parents working full-time and their kids being enrolled in myriad extra-curricular activities (tae kwon do, karate, hapkido, gymastics, Chinese, swim, ballet, piano, drums, guitar, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, chess, tennis, golf, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, chorale, pottery, etc) there is no time to just ‘be’. There is the never ending shuttling of kids from activity to activity and the complaint from their parents that they are stressed and exhausted.”

    She is talking about the parents that never stop, that don’t have time to schedule a playdate because their children are too busy being socialized. And I understand! It’s the woman I met that was like-minded and when it came time for her to schedule a playdate she offered me a time six weeks in advance. And of course I was sick, then my DD and now it’s been four months and she keeps saying we should reschedule and I’m still trying but I’m exhausted just hearing about her family’s activity.

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  • Mom of 2

    I agree re the over scheduling of activities, but I question your mention of both parents working full time. Not everyone is as fortunate as you and able to stay home instead of working. I don’t think our (necessary) working results in our kids being over scheduled. Yes I’m stressed and frazzled but we are doing the best we can.

  • Claire

    I love this post!!!! I think we are really similar in this respect and the thought of having over scheduled kids kills me. We grew up with a similar lack of scheduling and if things started looking too hectic my mother would put her foot down and say enough . We did do stuff like band and singing lessons ( my nanas idea) but usually the whole weekend was our own. We would lounge around reading all Saturday morning sometimes.
    Our limitations are sometimes dictated by our lack of energy as older parents or physical constraints ( too much arthritis pain for Susan) but what this has done is made Isobel very content at home and very creative about play. My mother used to tell is that if we were bored we weren’t using our inner resources! We went for very simple holidays and always managed to entertain ourselves. I really hope for the same for our kids.

  • Have you read Simplicity Parenting? Or I might as well ask you if you helped write it? :-) I do recommend it at my turn, it is very sensible, and will confirm many of your beliefs (based on what I have read of what you wrote here).

    I do agree whole-heartedly with this. I have learnt on my own how to NOT be bored, and I hope my children will learn it as well. It is almost a lost art. No wonder so many people have no idea who they are and what they want, since they conform to others’ ideas of how they should be.

    What is a Lego class though? I am most curious, considering my little lego fans of my own. :-)

  • Mel

    I think some of it comes down to 1 child doing activities = 1 cramp to the schedule. When it becomes 2 kids, it doesn’t matter that it’s only two activities, it’s now 2 cramps. And then one decides there is this second thing and… you can see how a schedule gets crowded. I can’t schedule the twins for activities at the same time, so they are constantly dragged to sit and wait for the other one. And while they could go over to someone else’s house for a playdate, I can’t house them those days.

    But moreover, sometimes I’m trying to give my kid time to just be on the weekend without needing to be around other kids. They spend the whole day 5 days a week playing with other kids; interacting with other kids. Sometimes they want to just be at home and not have to navigate anyone else for a few hours.

    I think a huge part of it is that our mothers were all home when we were little. Our schedule was their schedule. We played outside AND we did activities, but my mother didn’t work until my younger brother was in school full time. So yes, we had this idyllic existence which is impossible to strive for now that so many women work. Even if I work out of the house, very few other people do, so our play times don’t align.

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