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Samantha Loewen

Samantha Loewen

Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:54

How I Got Here

A few months ago, I read an article in 'Parenting' Magazine about an online 'dating' website for families, and after excitedly logging in to see what it was all about, I discovered that the website did not yet exist.  Having my own computer-programmer in the house, I got the brilliant idea to create the website myself and started a blog to take advantage of the fact that other people would be searching for this same website - my assumption being that they would follow me to the new website, once it was created, and... the end of the story is, I'd make a ton of money!

After talking to my husband about it a bit more, I was informed that a proper website (kind of like a 'facebook'/'dating site' for families) would take three to five people a year of full time work to successfully create.  This is more than my husband can commit to, particularly since I would like him to support us in the meantime.  I wasn't the only one to have this idea either, since I was unable to purchase the domains to 'playdatemyfamily' at .net, .com, or .org... Two sites are currently in the works, neither of which have anything to do with me, but oh well - it was a thought.

Anyway, this started my blogging.

I've always been interested in writing, and I love to rant and rave about whatever my current passion is, so although my initial purpose is gone, I will continue blogging simply for the fun of it.  My husband did build this site - from scratch, I might add... no templates for me! 

 

Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:35

This is How I Roll...

As a new Mom, I have limited to zero experience with many parenting problems that can and will come up as a child grows up.   I have learned, however, that this is how all Mom's begin, and we all embark upon a journey to learn how to parent our children and continue to learn as we go.

One comment that I heard repeatedly (annoyingly) was that I was reading too much in reference to parenting my infant daughter.  I did notice the excessive use of the words 'I was reading about...' or 'I just read that...' escaping my lips, which had me considering whether or not I was capable of forming my own opinions.   The comments regarding my superfluous reading were suggesting that by reading about potential health problems and growth delays, I was worrying myself about things I might have been better off not knowing about.  I respectfully disagree.  Although this may be the case in some instances, I can look at countless times throughout my pregnancy when I experienced some sort of pain or symptom that panicked me - only to look it up online to find that many other women had experienced the same, perfectly normal, phenomenon.  I have also come to realize that I read by nature - it is my primary learning style.  I am unlikely to ask my mother or grandmother, or even my best friends what they think I should do in a specific situation because I recognize that my parenting (and life) priorities may differ greatly from theirs and might feel uncomfortable obligations by asking for their opinions.  What I do appreciate, however, are factual and unbiased accounts of how they did things and how that turned out.

That being said, I think there are many different learning styles that depend on our personalities, as well as our communities.  It is much easier to ask the advice of a close living relative or friend, than to ask the advice of parents still living in their country of origin when you have moved halfway across the world and now reside in a much different environment.

As I have already said, I am a reader, and a researcher.  I will read different accounts written by different people and accept the method that makes sense to me and my world view.   Some people learn by observation - in the case of parenting - they may see how children around them behave and respond in certain circumstances and take mental notes about what their parents are doing.  Some people ask for the opinion of a trusted friend, family member or medical professional, and follow the advice they are given.  Some parents may even trust their own instincts completely.  If I were to give my completely unqualified advice, I would suggest some sort of balance of all of these methods.

I would like this site to branch all of these while assuming the position that although there are certainly 'wrong' ways to parent, most choices in regards to parent come down to parenting styles and learning methods - as well as personality types and world views.  I will seek to encourage and support all legitimate styles of parenting, only questioning methods if some form of abuse is suspected.  I encourage any and all readers to do the same - if you disagree with another parents views or methods, choose not to criticize or argue and to understand that there are many different accepted ways to do things - yours are not the only correct options.

Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:33

Connected Parenting

I began reading a book recently called 'Connected Parenting', by Jennifer Kolari.  I had never heard of 'connected parenting' before but fully expected to disagree with it entirely.   I personally find myself dismissing anything that seems related to 'Attachment Parenting' (which I, admittedly, don't know very much about), and presumed that although I was interested in reading this book for scholarly reasons, I would find nothing of use to myself.

I was very wrong.

The basic point of this book (so far) is to encourage parents to empathize with their children.  This may seem like common sense, but as I read on, some of the examples given by the author reminded me of some of my own frustrations in childhood.  I have an excellent relationship with my father, but I was continually frustrated by his attempts to 'fix' each and every situation I found myself in.  I have learned that even now I cannot tell him about a negative experience I have had, without an "It will all be ok because..." or "Next time do this differently...", etc.  Now, he means well and in retrospect I realize that this is a completely natural response for me also - this is what we do.  What I wanted from my Dad as a child, and still do, is for him to just LISTEN, with maybe a 'Yeah, that sucks' every so often.   'Connected Parenting' outlines exactly how to do that, and although at times her examples are a little extreme and it sometimes seems like a long-winded response to a very simple question, it may not be easy for many people to do.  Particularly if, like myself, they have grown up with a very different 'norm'.

I was discussing some of the principles Kolari mentions with my husband this morning, and having decided a while ago that parenting by instinct is the best way to go, he immediately got defensive and started outlining reasons why her theories were wrong.  I don't deny there may be holes in any theory - and not everything will work for all families - but I have come to a sort of agreement with myself;  In the future when I pick up a book to read (and I plan to read as many as I can get my hands on, as a scholar-mom), I will assume that it will contain something valuable for me to learn.  I think most of us can admit that there may have been some behaviors passed down to us through generations that may not be helping us to be the best people - or parents - that we can be, and if my reading can bring my attention to these things, I want to be ready to learn.

I came back to my husband later in the day and asked him to consider adopting a similar philosophy.  I mentioned how our relationship has not been perfect - how each of us does things in ways that we think are normal and beneficial because that is how our parents treated each other, or whatever.  I don't think there's a relationship out there that doesn't have some imperfections in this behavioral 'code' we all have in us, so personally, I don't see how we can assume that our instincts will be correct in all circumstances either.

Maybe that's just me.

Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:32

Meet Me and My Pet Worms...

I spent a glorious couple of hours today wandering around the city doing casual errands while my husband watched my baby girl at home.  I don't get many moments like these, and although I love my daughter immensely, it was nice to have some time alone.

Part of my errand running included stopping by a local store that focuses on naturally made products with minimal packaging that encourages buyers to live as eco-friendly as possible, including organic cotton clothing, natural and locally made body and health products, toys and books made from recycled everything, etc. It is what my husband calls a 'hippy store' - as though that's a bad thing.

Growing up, my Mom had encouraged me to seek out these kinds of things.   When my parents were building their cabin at a so-far undeveloped and nearly deserted lake property, we spent much of our summer holidays with no electricity or running water.  For the first year or two we didn't even have an outhouse, which meant setting up a roll of toilet paper on a nearby tree.  As a city girl, living this way was foreign and a little scary but I came to enjoy it.  As a teenager I appreciated the lack of pressure to keep my hair clean and my makeup done.  Life was purely about function and clothing was about comfort.

As I wandered through this shop wearing my long flowing skirt, and a reusable shopping bag slung over my shoulder I thought about my husband at home who is striving to get a good paying job so that someday we can buy a big house, new BMW vehicles and enable ourselves and our children to wear expensive clothes and have ample extra for entertainment.  Not that these dreams don't appeal to me also, but I seem conflicted on what my priorities actually are.  It's funny how being married and having children can turn you into different people than you ever expected.

The purpose of my shopping trip today was mainly to research an indoor worm-composting bin that the store carries, which I had been interested in purchasing for awhile.  I looked at the bin again today and realized that it would be too small for our needs, and decided to take a friend's advice and build my own out of a Rubbermaid bin.  If it didn't work, I would only be out the $10 cost of the bin and worms.

And so, I left the store empty handed and wandered through a few more shops thinking about who I was and who I had become as an adult.  Is this really who I am?  Can a person like me still be compatible with someone like my husband? I laughed to myself as I pictured myself someday gardening in our backyard with my children all in bandanas and up to our elbows in dirt, with my husband coming home in his BMW SUV carrying a leather briefcase and wearing a $2000 suit.  It's funny how sometimes completely different people can feel so much at home together.  Maybe I'm not that committed to myself, but I see no benefit in trying to change my husband - particularly since he sees no need to change me.  He is completely supportive of living an eco-friendly home life, and has been talking lately about teaching our children about delayed gratification - such as gardening or film photography.  He also loves to cook and is completely into the idea of eating as natural and healthy as we can - as long as he gets his occasional Pepsi.

So this is who I am, right now.  I am a 'hippy'.  I am a suburban wife.  I am a cloth-diapering, soon-to-be homeschooling and overprotective mother.  I am a child of God. I am a worrier.  I am an artist, a writer, an honest friend - honest to a fault at times. I am a cook, and housekeeper - although not a very good one most times, an occasional philanthropist.

For now.

Saturday, 01 October 2011 22:25

The Mommy Mafia Dilemma

While reading a blog entry recently, I came across the term 'Mommy Mafia', which was a term I had yet to encounter considering the fact that my daughter is only 8 months old and I have only begun to try building bridges with other families for the purpose of play-dating.

So I searched this new term - 'Mommy Mafia' - and came across a comical but honest article on the CNN website.  The article mentions that we have all (as Moms) judged other Moms on the way they parent and therefore have a little bit of the 'Mafia' in us, but that there is no way of truly knowing for sure if we are doing things 'right'.

I found that this article summarized how I have been feeling lately about parenting in general.  I have made the comparison that parenting is kind of like driving.  The number of accidents there are on the roads these days (and honestly - at least 90% of accidents were caused because SOMEONE wasn't paying enough attention) would indicate that there are not as many 'good' drivers out there as there are people who claim to be 'good' drivers... but almost no one admits to being a bad driver.  Parenting is similar, but the stakes are much higher.  We are vehemently defensive of our parenting choices, because the result of choosing the 'wrong' style might indicate that we are in some way failing our children.  As desperately as I try to convince myself that all parenting styles are good in their own way, and that different children and different families require different types of parenting methods, of COURSE I believe that any methods I have currently chosen are the 'best', otherwise I would not have chosen them.  However, like driving, when I look at the number of people out there who are rude, unmotivated, difficult, socially awkward, or worse, I realize the stakes are against me there too.  The odds of me raising a child who does not fit the 'ideal' in my mind's eye is all too likely.

Does that mean the 'Mommy Mafia' problem is unchangeable? Not entirely.  Although we all may feel defensive about our own parenting ideals, we do have to consider the fact that we all have different priorities when it comes to our children.  We all want to encourage different things.  Where my first priority might be to raise kind and respectful children, another parent's priority might be to raise intelligent and motivated children.  The differing layout of our priorities will ultimately change the way we parent them.  This is obviously one area where there are many 'right' answers.

Don't even get me started on the cliched statement that all children are different, but this is also a huge factor that will affect the outcome.

So with all of these things in mind (and the best way to combat this is probably to assume that we are all part of the problem), even though we will probably internally criticize another Mom's methods, we must choose to not let this affect how we treat them, or their children.  On the other side of this, we should probably make an extra effort to really understand our own methods so that we can get behind them 100% and feel confident in them even in the face of differing opinions.

Step 1 in getting along with other parents?

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