Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'm taking a break


This life with four children is incredibly...complicated.  I haven't ever proclaimed to be an expert on ANYTHING (besides hoarding), and if you have read this blog for any amount of time, then you know that the running theme is how I SUCK AT THIS.  Really.  This is MY story and I invite you all into it, happily; but in the spirit of truth, I make it my business to give you ALL sides of me.  Or as much as I can show you in a daily blog post.   I do not hide for the sake of looking like I have this all together, or tell you that I make all the right decisions, or that I never snap at my kids, or that I don't worry that EVERY DECISION I MAKE will affect them for the rest of their lives--and I am PROUD of that.  Women are NOT vulnerable enough.  Period.  

For everyone of you that HATES the video I posted yesterday, there is another who has lived through it.   Maybe it's not getting your kid to eat squash--how about letting a baby cry it out to go to sleep?  Did you breast feed and debate about whether to feed your baby, who is screaming, or wait because it hadn't been three hours yet, and that's what the *schedule* says you're supposed to do?  Did you feel like a terrible mom because you didn't KNOW what to do?  Ever force a kid to potty train by refusing to give them a pull up?  What about tearfully and painfully getting your kid with a learning disability to do their homework?  What about discipline?  Have you ever hurt your kid's feelings?  Have you hurt your kid's feelings more than once?  Have you ever felt like you'e doing it WRONG?  Has someone ever told you that you're doing it wrong?  

Is it about control?  Absolutely.  Am I learning, painfully, where the line of independence is with my kids?  You betcha.  Have you ever made decisions to control the speed and ease with which your household runs?  Ever have your kids abuse some of the freedom you give them?  Ever have other moms give you dirty looks, or make snide remarks because they don't think you're giving your kids enough supervision? Ever care about what other women think of you, to the point that you concentrate on behavior, over heart and character?  

Ever have a kid with a flair for the *dramatic*?  What about a constant complainer?  A whiner?  Do you have a rule follower?  Do you have one that's a wee bit devious?  Do you have a kid that challenges everything you say?  What about a kid that hits or bites?  Do your kids feel like you play favorites?  Are you consistent, or do you bend the rules?   Are you strict?   Is it easy for you?

Are there a million factors that go into every decision you make, and why you do it?  Because I generally feel  that this is an impossible, heart-breaking job.

You can fill in my blanks however you want, because that is the nature of our relationship, friends.  You get this open window into my life, and my passions and my obsessions...and my failures.  And I get to read your anonymous comments, and internalize them, and cringe that I offended you.  I wish that it was always so black and white for me, but I find that most of my parenting is done in the middle, and I suck there.  I understand teaching my kids not to steal, or talk back to me, or tell outright lies--but it's SO much harder to determine when to push, and when to sit still, and how to break bad and stubborn habits over time.  Backing off, holding back, changing the rules--I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I believe those things have consequences for who my kids will become also.  

If there is one thing I ABSOLUTELY do not apologize for, it's laughing at the parts of this that are so ridiculous; humor is one of the things that has gotten our family through a lot of shit, and it is how we ROLL.  Period.  We laugh, at ourselves. We laugh at our kids.  We laugh at how freaking hard it is.  I will fight with all my power to teach them to laugh at themselves--because we (women especially) don't do that enough.  We make our issues into gigantic character flaws that censor us; we don't let them go.  We would have been ruined a long time ago, if we didn't laugh at how it is we survive our last 10 years.  We laughed through the NICU, we laughed through the years that L threw up every hour of the day.  We videotaped that to.  I am fighting every part that wants to defend myself, to give you MY philosophy on food--but I just don't have it in me, honestly.  

So, read me.  Or don't.  Or tell me I'm abusive and ruining my kids.  Tell me what battles to pick.  Tell me how to KNOW what battles to pick.  Tell me how to do it better.  Tell me how to get it right.  Tell me what it's like to never struggle with parenting.  Tell me to f-off.  I guarantee you do it better, and I'm not being sarcastic.  

I'm taking a break.


Tamara Sharps said...

Haven't watched the video, but read the comments, so I think I have a fair idea of what went down.
I also have four kids. Three of them are relatively good eaters - one is terrible. She gags on every single vegetable we make her eat. She'd choose to eat nothing green or orange or red, ever, if given the choice. So we force her to eat, one piece of everything on her plate, every night. In the same way we force her to hold our hand when crossing the road, and make sure she is buckled into her car seat every time. And we get tears, and gagging, and chewing the same mouthful for 20 minutes without swallowing. Kids don't know what's good for them - they need to be told, and they need to learn life is not always about what they want, and what they like.

All that to say, don't let those judgey-judgers get to you. Parenting is tough, and NONE of us are experts, because every child is different, and every family is different.

I love your blog, I love your humour, your parenting style seems similar to mine and I REALLY want to see the inside of that gorgeous house you're moving into!

But you know what - kids are kids. They make BAD choices most of the time. It's our job as parents to teach them that it's not always about what they want to do, and what they like, because those things might not be what

uncle tim said...

Sure glad I do not have videos of me raising my kids. The annoymous commenters would have me in jail.

Allison said...

I've watched the video and read the comments and yes, it's everyone's right to believe, to parent, to discipline or not, in whatever way works for them.

A blog, no matter how good, is just that....a blog. It's words. It's a snippet in the film reel of one day. One day that's surely packed full with individual power struggles, tears, failures, moments of joy and most importantly LOTS of love.

As the mother of only one high spirited, hugely dramatic, hard headed little girl, I've been in my own version of that video. But here's the difference.....I'm not strong enough to put it all out there for the world to comment on.

This response is so all over the place mostly because I'm so floored by the negative comments. One video, one snippet of a day in their life, is certainly not enough to allow me to pass judgement on Sara's parenting techniques. No one gets it totally right! Ever. And if you say you do, then please, fill your house with video cameras, write your own blog or book and show the rest of us how it done. (Ha!!)

Sara's wonderfully imperfect life, and her willingness to let us all in, helps remind me that I'm not the only one stumbling through this maze we call parenthood!!

Jess said...

First of all, I love how many people felt the need to post and telling you how awful that video was but can't even have enough backbone to post using their name. They must be too perfect for that. Second of all, I've seen, and likely done it myself, where kids will figure out that if they gag/throw up they won't have to eat it so they will do it on purpose. Many kids can puke on demand. I see nothing wrong with that video. And I do have kids and as a parent, our JOB is to make kids to things they don't WANT to do every day. It's called being a parent. I'm not their friend, I'm their mother. And J was given a choice, eat it now or eat it at the next meal. I do the exact same thing. And you know what? NEITHER CHOICE WILL KILL THEM. To suggest that making your child eat FOOD (we're not talking soap here people) is abusive is a snippet of WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA THESE DAYS! Parents let the kids make all the decisions and be the parents. Then they wonder why little Bobby ended up in jail for stupid crap! Duh, because he was parenting himself. UGH. If a parent cannot have the ability to laugh at situations, whether good or bad, funny or sad, intese or lighthearted, then they are setting themselves up for a whole lotta stress and gray hair!! Guess what, I'm also the parent who spanks my child when it's warranted. I've swatted her butt in the grocery store. Of the horror! And you know what, I looked around daring anyone to say anything to me! If she was misbehaving and throwing a fit, I'm not going to let her decide when she's going to behave, I'M THE PARENT, I DECIDE.
I will get off my soap box now with the final words of: get a life people and BE THE PARENT, NOT THEIR FRIEND.

Amen Sara and Mike for sticking to the hard decisions as parents and laughing your way through life!

Erica said...

I was the first negative commenter and I'll stand by my comment.

No, I absolutely do not have all the answers and I regularly question myself as a parent. And still I see nothing wrong with giving you the perspective of the child in that situation.

Looking back now that I'm a parent I understand their position on nearly all of the struggles we had and would handle them the same. EXCEPT the great spinach debacle. That and one other episode remain glaring exceptions to how well my parents raised us. My parents might've achieved "success" in getting me to eat 2 tablespoons of the cost of my eating it EVER AGAIN. And on that same day they lost a piece of my trust. Because that day they tried to "break" me. To break my will. And that's not something easily forgotten.

And my parents never did it again. Maybe because they as a team decided it had backfired...or maybe because someone offered a piece of advice on how to do it differently.

So again...I stand by my comment. We're gonna have to agree to disagree in this one. And I'd highly recommend you check out Ellyn Satter.

And to the last commenter, you're right...i'm the mom and not their friend. But there is more than one way to skin a cat...and I prefer to utilize methods that don't result in vomit, broken wills and a lifelong hatred of specific vegetables.

Becky said...

Don't internalize too much sara. Women LOVE to tell each other what's wrong with each other! But I still think your awesome. I'm sure wontonny doesn't hold it against you and I HATE that everyone hid behind anonymous! But Kinda fun u got soooo many comments:)

Sara said...

I've been reading your blog since before I ever thought I'd have children, and now I have a 2 month old girl, and this is the first time for me to comment. Thought it might be a good time to let you know I admire your strength and humor and that I would love to be one of your kids. They are very lucky.

Matthew & Rachel Hughes said...

Screw the annonymous posts. They secretly have bad eaters themselves but don't want to admit they give them cookies to eat. The kid has to learn that there are going to be times in his life that he is not going to like the food that is going to be served. I pat you on the back for the "suck it up" style you had. Don't take a break I love reading your care free blog. PLEASE!

rachel @ perfectly imperfect said...

i'm sorry sara- you are the best mom for your kiddos, and you are loving them well!

Michelle said...

I love your honesty and your willingness to put yourself out there and share with the world your struggles and your triumphs. We are all doing the best we can. Period. Thanks for letting us all in on a little slice of your world.

Anonymous said...

I pledge that all the negative nancy's and the Paltrow Mother's please forbid yourselves to every read this Blog again, it is a quick glimpse into the hectic life that pretty much pretains to most of Sara's audience, and I find hilarious and that even as a Father/Husband pertains to me. So all the perfect parents out there please start reading Paltrows Blog and leave this Blog to us novice PARENTS!!!! PLEASE

Thanks Tucker

Katy said...

You are an amazing parent and love your family and friends well. Being a parent is so hard and I love your honesty and humor. We all need to laugh more and encourage each other. It annoys me when the "anonymous" people only comment when they have something critical to say but never when they have something positive to say.

Sara said...

How sad that some people think one event of having to eat something will break your child's will and trust in you. It is not one evening at the dinner table that forms the bond with your child or your child's character. It is all the small moments of all the days of all the years of love, and care, and laughter, and support, and building up, and so much more.

We are all struggling through this experiement of parenting. Some people refuse to do the "hard parts" and some can't see the ridiculousness/humor in it all.

I enjoy your blog, your honesty, and knowing that there is someone out there who doesn't know it all... just like me. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Help me understand:

In previous posts, the blogger BEGGED for comments.

The blogger put up a video showing one approach to getting her kids to eat vegetables.

The blogger is upset that some persons disagreed.

If it is ok for the blogger to be open and honest and candid, why can't the comments also be open, honest and candid?

If you are going to blog, stop being so sensitive. If you only want to hear how funny and special you are, say so. A writer knows that a reader will be a critic.

Are you a writer?

Gina Dankel said...

Do not take a break, please. You say/write about things I think all the time. People will criticize others about anything possible, so try to find the humor in all the ridiculous comments. I'm sure each one feels like an incredibly personal attack. Not one person who knows you in the flesh thinks those things I'm sure. Keep making yourself and us laugh!

Amanda said...

We had a similar incident growing up. When my brother and I were little, my mom "forced" us to eat beets. And by force, I mean she told us we "had" to eat them, so we did. I gagged but managed to keep mine down, but my brother vomited the beets and the rest of his dinner onto his plate. My mom never made us eat beets again and now it's a funny family story we ll laugh about that gets brought up anytime anyone mentions beets (or yams, same thing happened). Neither my brother nor I were scarred or traumatized.

Jodie Allen said...

When you have haters you know you've made it big! :) Hang in there, keep writing, keep sharing and just reread the ones that give you warm fuzzies. The hardest part about blogging honestly is that you do open yourself up to criticism and that just has to be ok. But it still hurts. Trust me. I get mean crap sent to me more than I'd care to admit. Just know that there are some of us out here, whether we agree or disagree with any given post, that CAN NOT GO TO BED without reading your blog! :)

Jen said...

Yep, Sara, I love you and your approach to parenting. I've also had times when nasty comments got to me and I needed a break... so I get that.

Anonymous #2 -- Hearing and accepting criticism and negative comments and disagreement is very different from reading that people think the way you parent your children is abusive. When people write, "That is abuse!" it's different from, "My parents made me eat spinach as a kid and I hated it and have never eaten it again!" The latter is a dissenting comment giving useful information others might consider when deciding how to deal with their kids' food aversions. The former is just mean, and also ridiculous if you've read more than one post on her blog.

Anonymous #1 -- "Paltrow Mothers" is awesome and made me laugh out loud!

Sara, there are a bunch of us out here who are desperate to connect with mothers who don't make it look simple. It is not simple. Thank you for being honest.

Stacey said...

Keep keeping it real and please don't stop writing. Parenting is the toughest job there is and I can't thank you enough for allowing me into your world.
Women love to judge other women in attempt to make their broken selves feel better. Mirrors ladies! Love Love your perspective on motherhood, jesus and life. You definitley have hit the big time with all the comments!!! It's more fun with the negative ones too. I couldn't stop reading!!! Write.

Stacey said...

Keep keeping it real and please don't stop writing. Parenting is the toughest job there is and I can't thank you enough for allowing me into your world.
Women love to judge other women in attempt to make their broken selves feel better. Mirrors ladies! Love Love your perspective on motherhood, jesus and life. You definitley have hit the big time with all the comments!!! It's more fun with the negative ones too. I couldn't stop reading!!! Write.

JenHahn said...

I love that you throw it all out there, making yourself vulnerable. It's a dangerous place to be sometimes. And as much as I love Mom blogs that keep it real, the "real" is so often not the REAL point. We all stink at some thing or another, even important things. We all mess up over and over. We bring our mess, offer it up, feel ashamed or defeated, ask for forgiveness and help and then God redeems it. That's the best part of the story that we (who are trying so hard to be real) forget to talk about and encourage each other with. I saw a mom and dad, united (awesome), pushing and encouraging their child to stretch (also awesome). You may think you don't get it right a lot, but think of how much you've grown in grace and love and patience and understanding because you are a mom. Sometimes you got to testify! (And then keep laughing at the rest...)

Julie K said...

Please don't go! Your blog is a guilty pleasure at my mundane job.

Perhaps knowing you and family helps with the humor in the situation. Because others just don't know what they are talking about or even read the blog on a regular basis.

I also would love to see the interior of your new home. I might just stop by; I think I might be able to figure out where it is :).

Ramona Dillinger Jordan said...

WoW!! I love your blog and did not have time to watched the video, but had to reread both blogs and all the comments to get the picture. Still gona watch the video. You are both great parents and have a gift to articulate that.

Have a diet coke, some chocolate and a nap. You have a lot going on, with a new house, moving, schools and spaghetti squash.

But I agreed with one of your repsonders:

I tried spaghetti squash once and thought it was repulsive. (So I threw it away and ate a can of frosting for dinner.)- I agree, frosting for dinner, sometimes is the right thing to do. :)

Keep up all the good work you do, you mean a lot to a lot of us who feel like failures because we are not Donna Reed or Aunt Bee, keeping it real and funny, RJ

Becca said...

I think you're great. I admire you for your commitment to imperfection and your reliance on His grace. Don't stay away too long. I too wait for you to publish a blog before I hit the hay.

I didn't watch the video. I don't watch videos in general, nothing personal. I'm just lazy.

Parenting is hard. I am far far away from perfect. We all make mistakes. Not saying if you did or not. Just saying' I wouldn't dream of judging.

I do think that anonymouses should nut up and post with their names.

Michelle said...

I started watching the video and stopped, because it was hard to watch. Because I had already had a day of tough parenting and dramatic reactions that I had my fill for the day. Which is to say... I turned it off because it was TOO real. And familiar. Nothing more. I don't judge your approach or your choice to find humour. We too use humour when it's clear to us (and maybe not to others) that our kids are using drama to push back on a lesson they aren't eager to learn.

As for the comments you received, it never hurts to step back and consider another's point of view, particularly since you chose to encourage feedback by posting it for the world to see. But in doing so, please remember that you know your kids best and that you (and only you) were chosen to be their parents.

Food always inspires real and strong emotions. I too had to 'fatten up' my preemies. It was so hard not to get my own food issues tangled up in that 'job', because food is an emotional thing. And in discussing it with others I discovered that there are few topics that are so emotionally laden. This flurry of comments reinforces that discovery.

Getting off my pulpit now, but I did want to say thank you for being honest and real and for reacting to the comments in an honest and real way. Take a break if you choose to, but please come back as soon as you're ready!

KaF said...

sara, sending you my thoughts! continue to be a smart, funny, thoughtful mom; and, continue to let us be a part of that world.
as a mom to a 21 mo old, your blog helps me so much! being a parent is SOOOOOOO hard--I never, ever thought it would be this difficult to do it all- job, wife, house, MOM, but your experiences help me to know that it is all normal and to share through our love, tears, smiles, etc. Thank you! :)

Kimmie said...

When I commented there hadn't been any negatives. I was waiting for them though. While I agree that a whole bowl down the hatch was a lot to ask we do need to ask them to eat a bite - but no bedtime snack.

Gagging is very misunderstood by those who haven't experienced it. I, like one of the commenters, gagged any time cooked spinach went in my mouth as a child. I couldn't help it. I also gagged on the buttered Texas toast (not toasted) bread in first grade where we HAD to eat everything on our plate to go outside and play. After throwing up on my plate when eating that bread (yes, bread- it was the smell of the cafeteria and the texture of the bread) I learned to roll it up in a ball and stuff it in my mouth. Then I would throw is over the fence at the playground. Seriously.

My son has sensory integration disorder. He won't eat most meat. MEAT! So he is vegetarian most of the time. I've tried everything. We struggle to keep meat on his bones but at least what he is putting in his body is good for him most of the time. Too many chips but hardly any sugar. Seriously.

Me? Have you ever put something in your mouth to hold while you were getting your keys? Say, an envelope? I will gag on a simple envelope in my mouth.

It is a different trigger for everyone.

Sara, you learned from this. You might not fight this battle in the same way next time. I'm still learning and my kids are 9 and 12 (not including my 34 year old sister I raised from birth). You put it out there to share the struggle not to beat your chest "I am mother hear me roar" - kudos.

Boy howdy have I shamed my children, hurt their feelings, backtracked on parenting positions, changed my mind, apologized and explained to my children that God didn't give me a manual other than the Bible and it is kind of hard to decipher on the parenting front. They get that I make mistakes. We talk about it. We move on. You will too.

One reason I don't have a blog? I don't have the nerve to put myself out there. My skin is too thin.

Honestly I wish I could hug you. And take you out for a margarita or something.

Sarah said...

I read your post and the comments but I haven't watched the video. I also have 4 kids (all under 5 including a set of twins). This is why I don't have a blog even though I would love to, the criticism and judging.

I have a masters degree in child development, yet there are many days I make big mistakes with my kids. I also have a child that we need to force to eat because if we didn't she would eat nothing but cheese, Cheerios, and Pediasure. That is what she ate until we started pushing her to eat more. Now we make her take at least one bite. Guess how many times she's said 'i like it' after tears and protests?Lots.

I love reading your blog. You are a few years ahead of us and I like reading about what we may be facing in the years to come.

Roxy said...

As a mother of an underweight special needs child, we have also experienced similiar situations with getting our daughter to eat. Those anonymous pusses who are passing judgement, have never been in your situation. Having someone say that you are abusing your kids is just utterly ingorant. My child cried everytime that I buckled her into her carseat...are the anonymous ppl saying that I should allow her to ride in the car without a seatbelt, because it will cause her to hate her seatbelt and NEVER wear it again? Their reasoning is just dumb. My SN daughter is a texture eater and her GI Doctor said that she will never get over it if she is not forced to try them. She would fight us eating bananas and pudding...which now happen to be 2 of her favorite foods.
Parenting is hard enough and nobody is going to do it the same way. Follow your gut, and your children will learn more through your loving ways...even if they don't seem loving at the time. Yes, we all need to pick our battles, and we do....the kids (whole family) eat what I cook because they need nutrition to develop and thrive....the kids pick their clothes for school because they are not going to fail to thrive because they are wearing striped with polka dots.
Please don't take a break from this whole blogging thing. I live too far away to actually stalk you in person. It is less creepy when I get a glimpse of your life in words. You have made me laugh, cry and possibly pee and choke on my coffee at the same time...possibly I said. You Rock and the haters are just jealous.

Polly said...

I have seen Sara parent first hand, and she rocks! She knows exactly how to deal with each of her kids individually...because she knows and LOVES them deeply. And she has had a harder life than most of us when dealing with marriage and parenting, so there is a lot of wisdom you can glean from this woman. I watched her parent before I had my own little girl, and I use what I learned then to parent. She isn't perfect, but she's dedicated, faithful, loyal, loving, honest, gracious, open, real, funny, emotional, driven, kind, wise, creative, and purposeful. She is a woman of great worth and godly character. Much more than I can say for myself, and most other mothers that I know. Sara, thank you for sharing you life.

Emily said...

Ugh...haven't read the comments here, or on the video post..don't care to.

I DO care to read your refreshingly open and honest blog, though.

So as long as you have something to say/share, and this feels like the way to do it...keep on blogging, girl...cuz you are AWESOME at it!

Caitlin said...

I, too, was one of the people to comment (not anonymously by the way), that I disagreed with the video. Does that make you a bad mother? No.

As mothers, we all have things that others would disagree about. When writing a blog, you are going to get all kind of comments, positive and negative....

Anonymous said...

Why is Erica skinning cats?