Flash bidding!

Last week I mentioned that I’m solving any problem in around 24 hours for $250 through my Flash Consulting program. This has been so much fun for me, to take problems people send me–about their businesses and personal lives and blending the two–and pull them apart to give people a clear path.

So I’m super excited to be offering a Flash Consultation as part of Virginia Champoux’s “Outrunning the Cloud” online auction to raise money for cancer research at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. (Not associated with Komen in any way.)

Virginia is a breast cancer survivor who started raising money to help other women with cancer before she even started treatment, and has continued raising money during her chemo and radiation treatments. I am so excited to be part of her auction (which is in its second year), and so glad to be her friend.

You can read all the details of how Flash Consulting works and what clients say about the experience at flashcons.com. Then go bid on the auction item here. After you bid for that item, look at all the other listings and bid for everything else. The auction opened today (May 25) and ends this Thursday (May 29). We’re hoping to double last year’s auction total of $7,900. So please spread it around!

Maintaining boundaries with family members in your house

Anon writes:

“Hi! I am a first time mom of a crazy 2 year old boy. Next week we are expecting family to stay with us to celebrate my son’s birthday and I am worried about how to enforce house rules with 2 people in particular: my brother in law and his son.

We have rules about not eating or drinking outside of the kitchen (except maybe dry cereal once in awhile) and we like it if visitors can abide by these rules as well. Before we had our son, we had a ridiculous number of people (mostly men) claiming that this was a “stupid rule” since once we had kids, we couldn’t have nice things. We have one white armchair in our living room and it has survived 2 years so far, except for the time brother in law fed his then 2 year old son oreos while we were otherwise preoccupied. His son is now 4 years old and is a typical 4 year old, listens well, etc. Just wondering if it would be acceptable to circumvent his father on giving out instructions (don’t jump on couch, please, we eat over here, etc.)

I should add I am also having a really hard time making brother in law understand how upset it makes me when he directly does the opposite of my requests with my son. He once gave him sprite when he wasn’t even a year old yet after I had told him not to. Help!”

Oh, ugh. This just sounds really icky for you.

I don’t understand how a person could just blatantly ignore the rules of the house they’re staying at. It’s unbelievably rude and ignorant.

Yes, you do get to enforce the rules in your house by telling anyone in your house (even/especially kids) what they can do and can’t do. This isn’t a public playground. This is your house. You don’t need to be mean about it (as I’m sure you weren’t going to be) but just stating “no jumping” or “no eating outside the kitchen” or whatever the rule is is totally acceptable and expected.

(I think most parents assume that the house rules will be at least slightly different when they go someplace else and are waiting for the hosts to tell the kids what’s acceptable there and what isn’t. I know I always expect people to tell my kids what’s ok and what’s not, when we’re someplace else.)

So yes, tell your brother-in-law’s son.

Now, your brother-in-law and his attitude (who tells someone something is a “stupid rule” in their own house??) should not be your problem. Is he your partner’s brother? Or your sibling’s partner? Whichever it is, the person who’s either related to him or partnered with him needs to be the one to keep him in line. So your partner or sibling needs to step up and make sure this man understands that if he wants to be allowed in your house he needs to respect you and your rules. If he’s not prepared to do that, then the visits should take place at neutral territory so he can’t play his control game anymore.

Has anyone else had to deal with a family member who blatantly disregarded your rules or standards? How did it play out?

Turning a toddler’s carseat because she’s hurting siblings

Celeste writes:

“I’m thinking about turning my toddler’s carseat from rear-facing to front-facing before she’s grown out of the rear-facing position because she’s kicking and scratching my two older kids. I have three kids sitting in the back seat, an older one on either side of a toddler, age 20 months. The toddler hates the car. The older ones are kind and patient with their little sister, fetching her toys and singing and talking to her in the car. The 20-month-old kicks and screams and pulls and scratches at anything within reach, including her siblings. She’s getting bigger and her reach is getting wider and strength is increasing. She’s hurting the older ones. I’d like to turn her seat front-facing, but she could actually stay rear-facing, the safest position, for at least another 6 months. I specifically got a seat that would face rear for her for a long period. I feel horrible risking her safety for the comfort of the older two, but she really is hurting them. What should I do?”

Duct tape. Duct tape your toddler’s arms and legs down when she’s in the car seat. (Joking.)

Seriously, though, you’re legally allowed to turn her forward-facing, so it’s really just a matter of your feelings of risking her safety if you turn her. The big issue is the kicking and scratching and hurting your older children. But there’s no guarantee that she’ll stop doing that if you turn her to face forward anyway. 

And it seems like you really don’t want to turn her because of the safety issues. If you weren’t concerned about it, you’d just have flipped her and not given a second thought to it. So it’s clear that this is a concern for you.

To honor that and to get to the real point (and because flipping her might not even fix anything), I’d suggest exploring other ways to stop her from hurting her siblings. 20-month-olds have little impulse control and aren’t easily reasoned with, so it’s going to be more about creating a barrier to keep her from reaching her siblings. Keeping her strapped in as tightly as possible so she can’t leverage herself out of the seat will help. You could also put a blanket over the entire carseat once she’s strapped in and tuck the ends tightly so she’s almost swaddled and can’t move.

If you can’t figure out how to create a physical barrier for the next few months until she grows out of this, you may have to try turning her around. Don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t work, though, and she just scratches and kicks from that angle.

Has anyone else had a problem like this and found a good way to keep your toddler’s arms and legs in their own space?

Dragging through the end of the school year

I started doing flash consulting (I solve your problem for $250 in around 24 hours) on a whim last week and it’s taken off, so I made it official: Flash Consulting. If you have a work or personal or business or parenting problem, send it in and I’ll solve it for you in a day. Read the testimonials from the people I worked with last week.

We’re in that end-of-year phase in which school seems unbearable.

If it was just the daily worksheets, maybe. But all the extra stuff. The testing and the projects and the appreciation weeks/months and the field days and the field trips and the school carnivals and fairs and pep rallies and assemblies and wacky hat days and everything else. (And extra days tacked on for people who had a lot of snow days.)

I have no cure.

I just wanted to acknowledge the feeling of fatigue and lack of interest in the entire process. Are you there, too? 

This cracked me up: “Parents At The Beginning Of The School Year Vs. The End”

Especially #2 and #4. And #7. And #11.

Five more weeks here. How about you?

Vent here safely for Mother’s Day

Vent here safely and anonymously (if you like) for Mother’s Day. Miss your mother, hate your mother, love being a mother, hate being a mother, don’t get enough time with your kids, wish you could have time to yourself, don’t want to share the day with your MIL, anything else.

Same rules as always: No vent too big or small. Everyone’s pain is valid and doesn’t diminish anyone else’s. No Misery Poker. If you have any extra energy to give support to another commenter, please do.

Vent anonymously if you want to by putting in fake info.

Be gentle with yourself.

We must, indeed, all suck together, or assuredly we shall all suck separately

I posted this on another site originally on July 7, 2010, four years ago, but reader Jessica reminded me of it so I thought I’d repost.

It’s been a long time since I really, really thought about breastfeeding.

I breastfed both of my kids, for longer than the US norm is, and I’m glad that I could. It was one (well, two) of the most simultaneously fulfilling and irritating experiences I can imagine.

But I don’t think about it much anymore, because my kids are long past that stage. I’m too worried about getting into Kindergarten and balancing work trips with my custody schedule for the kids and mindfucking the emotional fallout for my kids of my getting divorced and researching karate classes and helping them navigate elementary school friendships.

The only time how I fed my babies comes up in my life (when I’m not answering a question on Ask Moxie about it) anymore is when I’m sitting around talking and drinking with other moms. At some point the conversation will turn to how *big* the kids are now and how we can’t believe it. And then we’ll tell baby stories. Sometimes they include stories of how we fed our kids, especially if the story is horrifying, like answering the door with the flaps of a nursing bra down, or having a mother-in-law mix up a whole days’ worth of pricey formula and leave it out of the fridge to go bad, not knowing. But it’s just part of The Lore of Motherhood, and we commiserate and roll our eyes at each other, the way our mothers still do with their friends.

So it shocks me again, the way it did when I was pregnant and complete strangers would ask me if I planned to nurse, that people are still so tied up in knots about nursing a baby. It is a completely normal function of the female body, and no one should bat an eye at a woman doing it. But, at the same time, sometimes it doesn’t work out for a gazillion reasons that are not my business and in those cases thank God, THANK GOD for formula.

But here’s the thing: Once you’re done nursing or formula feeding, it’s not in your life every day anymore. How it worked or didn’t for you is history. It probably still has some emotional resonance, but it’s not consuming you like it did. Which means that the people for whom nursing or not nursing is important and vital and heartbreaking are the very people who have the least time, energy, and bandwidth to advocate for themselves. So those of us with kids old enough to make their own sandwiches are the ones who really need to be taking up this fight.

The fight I’m talking about is normalizing feeding babies. By the breast or by the bottle. Creating a society in which the culture supports women feeding their babies in any location babies are allowed to be, without shame or fear of reproach. Where women are not asked to justify their feeding methods or told to cover themselves up. Where we’re honest about breastmilk being the best food for babies, and where we don’t use duplicitous methods to sell formula. Where women get accurate information about breastfeeding and formula feeding and are allowed to make the choice (if they have one) that’s best for their families and then supported, no matter what that decision is. Where we as a culture talk routinely about breastfeeding issues without shaming women, those who breastfeed and those who don’t. Where we actually have legislation that allows women to spend enough time to establish breastfeeding and then guarantees that they can pump in the workplace to maintain breastfeeding for as long as they want to.

What if we all became lactivists, advocating for more legal protections and support structures for breastfeeding? And what if, at the same time, we became advocates for mothers who feed formula? What if we all started showing a little more cleavage, because breasts are multi-purpose?

I have a dream in which a woman nursing her baby and a woman feeding her baby formula and a woman who just likes to show off her knockers in low-cut tops can all sit in the same booth at the same restaurant and compliment each others’ shoes while they eat. And the old-school, Flo-like server will walk up and ask them how everything is and tell them how cute the babies are with no subtext. And the old guys at the next booth won’t even pay attention to any of it. That is my dream.

Won’t you help me make it a reality? If we all join together, we can make things better for every mother of a babe in arms.

1. When you see a mother with a baby, say, “Wow–your baby looks so healthy and happy! You must be doing a great job!”

2. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, and you have a choice about where to feed, sit down next to a mom feeding a baby from a bottle, and start a conversation about something not related to feeding.

3. Don’t hide your breasts when you feed your kid, whether you’re nursing or using a bottle. Be as discreet as you personally want to be, but don’t cover up just because someone told you you should.

4. If you’re out in public and you see a woman feeding a baby, give her a smile. And a piece of chocolate, if you have one.

5. Defend and protect. If you see a feeding mom being harassed in any way, step in the way you would if you saw big kids picking on little kids at the playground.

6. Talk about feeding babies with your kids, so they grow up knowing that babies need to be fed and that you fed your children and they’ll feed their own kids. The circle of life.

If those of us who have more emotional bandwidth to think about the long-term effects on us of how society treated us while we fed our kids can be very specific in fighting back, this insane fuck-you to moms who feed their babies will finally end.

Then all we’ll have is the fight for legislation protecting nursing, allowing for decent maternity leave, and protecting pumping time in the workplace.