Guest Post – Tips for the Comparing Mom

I’m excited to announce I’m Not Grandpa’s first Guest Post.  Please allow me to introduce my new friend Lisa E Hill, a Child Development Consultant and Blogger.

It’s in our nature as human beings to always be comparing. It’s what we do every day in a myriad of situations and environments, we compare. Technology and the wonderful world of the Internet, has given us the ability to quickly read reviews on products and restaurants, thus comparing.

Is it not assumed that when we become mothers that we will continue to compare? It happens, but it is rarely something we will think about the months leading up to the delivery of our tiny humans. Oh sure, we will compare what breast pump to buy or what stroller to register for. We will compare child care centres and mini vans. But, the unspoken truth is we will compare the development of our babies to our friends babies and the babies we meet along the way. We will enter into the anxiety ridden, Google searching and Doctor calling comparing mom.

How do we get a hold of ourselves and take control over our constant comparing and worrying?

 

TIP #1 – IT’S NATURAL

Always remember that comparing is natural. It’s how we weed out the bad and focus on the good. It’s how you ended up with your sports car edition of the mini van.

Comparing Moms - No 1

However, it’s important to get a grip on the amount of time you spend comparing. Although it’s natural, it’s not natural to be completely overwhelmed and focused on comparing. If it starts to affect your ability to be present and involved with your child, you need to stop, take a breath and focus on why you are so worried.

TIP #2 – YOU WORRY FOR A REASON

Yes, you are now a mom. You have committed to an entire life of worry. You will worry about tiny things and bigs things.
I’m not telling you not to compare, I’m here to educate you on how to compare especially when it comes to your child’s overall development. You will compare, but if you have a worry then it is valid! It’s called your gut.

As my best friend was getting ready to leave my house the other day, she was talking out her worries that came straight from her continuous comparing. She finally said to me, “I need to just stop comparing!” Yes and no my friend! Comparing is natural yes, but if your worried and you continue to be worried, act on it.

TIP #3 – EDUCATE YOURSELF

There are developmental check lists available to you online, at your doctors office and various children’s centres. Take the checklists, use them and either ease your mind or call your doctor if you’re still concerned.

Whatever you do, do NOT take a bunch of “symptoms” and plug into the Google search engine! I mean it, do NOT do it! Yes, it’s easily accessible and there are SO many forums with other moms with the same concerns, but every story is different with different outcomes! Unless your googling developmental stages and expectancies, do not Google symptoms!

Education is the key to understanding and fostering your child’s development. Comparing your child’s development to children around you is natural yes, but educate yourself first. No need to get worried if you don’t need to! You have to remember that children grow and develop at varying rates!

TIP #4 – TALK IT OUT

Do not keep it all bottled up inside of you, this comparing and worrying business. Talk about it! Talk it out with your partner, your friend (yes even the ones whose child your comparing), your mom, community partners. Heck, talk it out with yourself. You have to take control of your anxiety now before it takes control over you. Talk to your anxiety and hash it out.

Comparing Moms - No 2

The more you talk about your concerns or worries, the more information you will receive. If you have talked about it, read about it and your still concerned, call your doctor. Again, go with your gut. Your still unsettled for a reason!

TIP #5 – SOCIALIZE

Do not sit in your house and analyze your child’s development over and over again. Get out and socialize. Go to community drop in’s. Visit a friend. Time and time again I have found many children who are behind in their development will flourish when consistently socialized with other children around the same age.

Getting out and socializing your child also provides them with varying environments to explore and expand on their exploding development. Not to mention it builds relationships for both you and your child!

TIP #6 – GO WITH YOUR GUT

It’s tough being a mom. No one said it would be easy and who even warned you that you were signing up for a life long sentence of worry?!

The one thing we are all equipped with is this little aching feeling that lies at the pit of our stomach and rears it’s ugly head when something feels wrong. It usually goes hand in hand with that voice in our head that also tells us that something could be wrong.

My point is, after you feel like you’ve talked about it a million times, you’ve Googled it (yes, I know you won’t listen to me and NOT Google it), you’ve provided ample opportunities to socialize and you feel like your fairly educated on it AND your STILL questioning and comparing and worrying… LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!

Remember, you compare because it’s natural, you worry for a reason and you act because you know you have to! Welcome to motherhood!

 

Lisa E. Hill is a Child Development Consultant who works with families who are struggling with everyday parenting issues and parents of children with Special Needs. Lisa strives to Simplify Impossible Parenting by offering strategies and suggestions, resources and 1:1 support to families worldwide.  You can follow her blog Loud Parent here.
Share This:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

A 5K Run to Honor Lola’s Memory

Lola's children, Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby will be back in Prospect Park tomorrow morning to honor Mami's memory.
Lola’s children, Esther, Rose Marie and Bobby will be back in Prospect Park tomorrow morning to honor Mami’s memory.

Tomorrow morning Esther, Cristian and I are running a 5K race in Prospect Park, okay Cristian will be riding in his stroller while I push him, but he’ll be participating.  Although we are no strangers to 5K races or Prospect Park’s notorious hill tomorrow’s race isn’t about goal times or P.R.s—this one’s personal—we’ll be honoring Esther’s Mom’s memory.

10298777In 2013, Maria Hernandez, Lola to her friends, lost her battle with Pancreatic Cancer so for a third-straight year her three children will be participating in the PanCan Purple Stride 5K Run/Walk to honor her memory.

Pancreatic Cancer is a brutal disease with an extremely low survival rate.  Besides taking the lives of celebrities like Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti, it’s affected the lives of many non-celebrity families as well.   Last year my Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  Dad was lucky, if you can say that for any cancer patient, he died of pneumonia before the cancer fully took hold, Lola wasn’t so fortunate.

17171717Long-distance runners are no strangers to pain—it’s who we are.  I’ve run a 60K race, just over nine four-mile loops in Central Park on a cranky knee.  Esther started a marathon on a badly-injured ankle that got worse with every step taken—both were minor twinges compared to Lola’s battle.  She fought a tough fight, the worse things got, the harder she fought, but no one beats Pancreatic Cancer.

Since tomorrow morning’s weather forecast calls for windy conditions with a chance of snow I’m expecting less than the fifty people who came out last year.  Cold weather does that, but Esther, Bobby, Rose Marie, Cristian and I will be there regardless of the conditions.  This ugly disease took Robert, Lucas, and Justin’s grandmother.  Cristian will never know his La La Maria because of it, it’s our biggest regret.

If you know anyone suffering or lost someone to Pancreatic Cancer or are interested in donating to a good cause click here.

This entry is being posted to both of my blogs North Queens Runner and I’m Not Grandpa.

Share This:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

For Dad

Preface – This is one of my favorite posts.  I wrote this as a new father reflecting on childhood memories of my Dad.  I’m reposting it on what would have been his 90th birthday.

My Grandmother holding my Dad when he was 3-years old.
My Grandmother holding my Dad when he was 3-years old.

Becoming a father has made me a think a lot about my Dad. In my mind’s eye I relived memories of him seen through the eyes of a small child, teenager, and newly-minted Dad. He turns 89 tomorrow so I decided to write this post about him.

In his prime Dad was a small energetic man whose childhood was so much different than mine.  Born in 1926 the youngest of five children in El Freijo, a small town in rural Spain.  Since they were able to grow what they ate the family survived.

Dad and his older brothers Manuel and Francisco became carpenters out of necessity.  Building and selling rowboats enabled the family to buy food and other necessities to survive. Through this difficult time my grandmother Mama Maria fed as many hungry children from other families as she could.

In 1936 a Civil War broke out in Spain taking an estimated 500.000 lives, including both brothers, I was named after Francisco.  His father died a few years later, apparently of a broken heart.

Twenty years old with little opportunity or future in post-World War II Europe Dad joined the Merchant Marine. When he left my grandmother told him, go and try find a better life for yourself but remember if things don’t work out you always have a home to come back to.

My Brother Bob and I during our 1970 family vacation in Spain. I'm the little guy on the right.
My Brother Bob and I during our 1970 family vacation in Spain. I’m the little guy on the right.

In 1956, after ten years of travelling the world on merchant ships Dad settled in Camden New Jersey.  I remember the colorful stories of his experiences shared with family sitting around a table usually with a glass of wine or cognac after holiday dinners. It took a few years and some of our own life experiences until my brother Bob and I truly appreciated Dad’s stories of Pre-Castro Havana or arriving in Argentina the day after Juan Peron was overthrown.

Dad moved from Camden to Spanish Harlem, and then to Brooklyn where he married.  After starting a family Mom and Dad moved to Queens.  He built the house I grew up in and where he still lives in 14 months of weekends and vacations.

Working hard to provide for his family, he rarely took a vacation, but when he did he made them count.   We took us to Puerto Rico or Spain for six or eight weeks.  If you asked him he would say his favorite was taking us to Spain in 1970.

I was six-years old so most of my memories consist of my brother and I running through corn fields, feeding chickens, and riding in an oxcart El Carro de las Vacas with my aunts.  I also remember meeting my grandmother, Mama Maria and how much she spoiled us.  He always said bringing his kids to Spain so his mother could get to know them was the best gift he ever gave her.

Dad blowing with his three grandchildren getting ready to blow out a pre-birthday candle.
Dad blowing with his three grandchildren getting ready to blow out a pre-birthday candle.

Dad became a grandpa when my niece Katie was born, he waited 74 years.  Two years later a second granddaughter, Jenny was born.  Bob and I immediately noticed he was different as a grandfather than he was as a father.  This wasn’t our strict old-school father, he was a doting grandpa.  He adored his granddaughters spoiling them like our grandmother spoiled us but one thing was missing—a grandson.

Dad holding Cristian. He was the best gift I could have given him.
Dad holding Cristian. He was the best gift I could have given him.

Collecting thoughts for this post I realized we have more in common than I originally thought.  Besides being engaging storytellers, we are both the youngest child, share a sarcastic sense of humor and posses a stubborn streak.  Don’t believe me ask my Mom or Esther.  We also are the child who moved the family name forward another generation.

Dad doesn’t like receiving gifts, Christmas, Birthday, Father’s Day—his response is always the same.  Why did you have to get me that?  So last year on his birthday, I gave him a gift he could appreciate, I told him, the grandchild we were expecting was a boy.  Words weren’t necessary, the Kool-Aid grin on his face spoke volumes.

That memory is special but it’s no longer my most precious, it was replaced when I placed Cristian in his arms the first time.  Seeing his smiling face I truly understood how special a gift it was.

Share This:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

The Life of a Stay at Home Dad

Cristian with some old guy.
Cristian with some old guy.

Before becoming a Stay at Home Dad, I had no idea of what to expect.  It was so bad I did a Google search to find out what SAHD meant.  Working without a road map the first months were a bumpy ride but its gotten smoother along the way.  Taking care of Cristian is the toughest job I’ve had, multitasking and improvising are only two of the skills needed for the job.

Since little information exists regarding Stay at Home Dads I decided to share a few details on the glamourous lives we lead.

Taking care of him was easier before he started walking
Taking care of him was easier before he started walking

Start Me Up – I’m up at 6:30 every morning.  Jumping or staggering out of bed depends on how the baby slept.  He’s usually up once a night.  He rolls over and goes back to sleep after snatching the bottle from my hand—on a good night.  Teething and ear infections have a way of throwing things out of whack.  I start my day with a cup of coffee and some quiet time with Esther as we straighten up the baby’s toys.  How Cristian slept the night before determines how strong I brew the coffee.

All the tools needed for starting the day off right
All the tools needed for starting the day off right

Daddy’s Wardrobe – This varies from dad to dad but it’s not business casual.  Most parenting books don’t offer wardrobe suggestions.  Since a lot of my day is spent chasing him around the house, the playground, and keeping him out of the bathroom, he loves bathrooms, I wear the same gear I wear on training runs, a tech t-shirt and sweats.   They’re light-weight, comfortable and washes easier than a cashmere sweater, because you will be drooled, spilled and pooped on.

No more CNN Daddy, I want to watch Sesame Street.
No more CNN Daddy, I want to watch Sesame Street.

Is TV the Babysitter? – Everyone thinks Stay at Home Dads binge watch Netflix while the baby plays.  In addition to being a Stay at Home Dad, I’m also a Work from Home Dad.  Working as a consultant and freelance writing gigs keep me busy while Cristian watches Sesame Street or Baby Genius.  That doesn’t mean he spends all day in front of the TV.   I read to him, we play in the park, and he comes along on my daily errands. That said Cristian’s watched more CNN than the average toddler—we both agree HD isn’t doing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton any favors.

Sleep When They Sleep – I mentioned this before but it bears repeating.  I’m convinced anyone offering this advice never took care of a baby. Maybe they had a nanny or they’ve forgotten how demanding babies are.  A baby’s nap time is like hitting Lotto.  Here’s your chance to do a load of laundry, take a quick shower, or catch up on whatever you’ve fallen behind on.  Use the time wisely.  I’ve written and published blog posts during Cristian’s naps.

Everyone’s An Expert – Stay at Home Dads are still considered an oddity—much like caged animals at the zoo.  On any given day, I’ll hear comments and receive unsolicited advice on all things baby.  Everything from it looks mommy dressed him today, to how cute you’re babysitting, to he looks hungry.  Okay that last one was from Grandma who thinks everyone looks hungry but you get my point.

Multi-Tasking Required – Most job descriptions these days require strong time-management skills and the ability to multitask, they’re also prerequisites for any SAHD.  One any given day I’m chauffeuring Cristian to playdates, My Gym classes, or the park for an hour, while maintaining a full work-load and finding time to write. Am I babysitting or parenting—maybe a little of both depending on the day.

Share This:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

Seven Things to Know Before Having Kids

Esther and I BC - Before Cristian
Esther and I BC – Before Cristian

Parenthood is a life-changing experience, I love being a Dad.  That said any parent, or more specifically this parent is letting you know your life is going to change because you WILL make sacrifices along the way.  I knew this coming in—at least I thought I did.

If you are thinking about starting a family this is a must read—it will give you some insight on what lies ahead.

Pregnancy – You want a sneak peek on parenthood, pregnancy is a good place to start. There’s weight gain, sleepless nights and moodiness—and that was just me.  Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of Lamaze Classes, baby registries, and unsolicited advice from all sides.  I don’t know what was rougher dealing with my better half’s hormones or agreeing on the baby’s name.  Don’t worry about the sleep deprivation—you’ll catch up once the baby’s born.

What the first week feels like.
What the first week feels like.

New Baby/Clueless Parents – The first days are a blur of, baby bottles, dirty diapers, and caffeine (mine not the baby’s).  Bonus points if you survive without getting peed on.  After a week of this your friends and family will want to see the baby.  Hopefully they will do more than post selfies with your child on Instagram.  Helpful hint, don’t be shy when someone asks, “What can I bring.”  It’s a limited-time offer so forget the chicken nuggets and go for the big ticket items like surf and turf.

The Baby Tour – Once the baby’s older you’ll be required to take him on tour.  This is done for the relatives who couldn’t make it to your home or were afraid of the cranky old man, otherwise known as me.  Packing the car with the baby bag, separate clothes bag, laundry bag, (all stuffed with individually packed zip lock bags), stroller, playpen, and hopefully the baby is time consuming.  I’m an experienced logistics guy who coordinated corporate events in every major convention center and hotel in North America, it was less stressful than loading the car for a twitchy mommy wanting to show off her pride and joy.

Air Travel – Is the Baby Tour on steroids.  Imagine packing everything listed above in addition to your own luggage and spending at least three hours in a cramped airline seat with a squirming toddler in your lap.  Sure the baby flies free but would it hurt the airlines to throw in a few free drinks?  When things get rough go to the parents’ secret weapon–Benadryl.  Travelling with a baby makes you long for the days when you travelled with just one backpack.

Before, the toys are neatly stacked while the baby sleeps.
Before, the toys are neatly stacked while the baby sleeps.

House Looks Like a Natural Disaster – Do you like an orderly home?  Does your bathroom have cute little soaps and towels only guests are allowed to use? Does your living room come straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens?  Toddlers change that in a hurry.  Once they start walking you’re immaculate home will look like the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.  If you’re lucky you may qualify for a FEMA reimbursement.

After - The baby wakes up. Imagine what the rest of the house looks like.
After – The baby wakes up. Imagine what the rest of the house looks like.

Sleeping the Night – Scratch this one off the list for a few years, there’s no rhyme or reason to a baby’s sleep patterns, don’t try to understand it, just manage it–like a pregnant woman’s hormonal outbursts.  Haven’t you been reading this blog?  If you’re lucky the baby only wakes up once a night.  Of course teething can change that quickly.  Don’t worry, you’ll learn to function on four-hours sleep.

Lazy Sunday Mornings – Sunday mornings used to be about selfish pleasures, a morning run, an IHOP breakfast or lying in bed with Esther reading the Sunday paper.  A baby changes this and those simple pleasures become luxuries.  Sunday mornings are now about watching PBS Kids and chasing the baby around the living room.

Share This:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin