Bathroom Humor

When Biz and I realized we would have some rare alone time together while his brother attended a birthday celebration this weekend, he suggested we go to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. He didn’t have to twist my arm for that trip since we have a membership, and the fall flowers are gorgeous.

It’s one of our favorite places to visit and, really, how could you not want to go out and show off a fall outfit like this?

bizpumpkins

How Maine kids dress in the chilly fall weather.

We went straight for the children’s garden so Biz could throw some lobster traps into the water and walk across the rope bridge on the tree house. We then walked to the various bodies of water in the sprawling gardens to search for frogs. We found many, many frogs.

When it was time to leave, I took Biz into the ladies’ room with me because he’s 5, and I’m just not comfortable leaving him out in a lobby alone just yet. No one was in the bathroom when we first walked in, but three women came in soon after us. The following is what happened during this innocent trip to the women’s restroom.

Biz (busting through each bathroom stall, loudly): Where are the stand up toilets, Mom?!

Me (thankful no one was actually in the stalls at that time): There aren’t any urinals in the ladies’ room, Honey.

Biz (utterly disappointed and attempting to choose a toilet to use): FINE.

Me (waiting patiently until his chooses a stall, as there are now other women in the ladies’s room): I’m 2 stalls down from you, if you need me.

*A few minutes pass and I’m now washing my hands at the sink. I hear the sound of clanking metal behind me.*

Biz: Mommy, do you have change?

Me (turning my head to see that he’s now at the tampon dispenser): No, I don’t have change. Definitely don’t have change.

Biz: Please, Mommy? Are you sure? I want a prize.

Me: I don’t have any change, and those aren’t prizes.

Biz: Yes they are. You put the change here and turn it….What are they then?

Woman in the bathroom (turning the corner to see Biz and laughing): Yeah, Mom. What are those?

Me (attempting to answer with a straight face): It’s not a prize machine, Biz. Those are for ladies.

Biz (still messing with the coin dispenser): Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? What’s in this thing?

Me: Things that ladies use and boys do not.

At this point, three women are practically in tears laughing, and Biz continues to ask why he can’t have what’s in the dispenser. I lure him over to the sink to wash his hands. He tells me that he doesn’t need to because he never took his gloves off.

Next time, I’m just going to hold it.

p.s. If you like stories like this, you’ll love The Mother of All Meltdowns

Philanthropy Friday: Finding Sunshine After the Storm

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

photo via Sunshine After the Storm

photo via Sunshine After the Storm

I remember being in the hospital bed on that sunny morning in July 2005. I hadn’t been at the hospital for long. When G decided to arrive, he came fast. I wasn’t even admitted until after I delivered my baby boy. My first child.

It was early on a Saturday, and it didn’t take long for the maternity ward to became bustling with activity. I was lucky to get there before the crowd arrived. I enjoyed the quiet corner room with a view of the healing gardens outside.

While I was in pain, and probably a bit in shock from my first experience with childbirth, I couldn’t have been happier. Or more in love.

At some point during my hospital stay, I got a surprise (and welcomed) visit from the mom of a woman who attended our child birthing classes at the hospital. The classes were fun and really more of a support group for expecting first time parents. The mom had attended most of the classes with her daughter and was also a volunteer at the hospital. We bonded in those classes.

My visitor congratulated me and then told me that a woman from our class delivered her son stillborn a few weeks earlier. I felt the air sucked right out of me when she informed me of this fact. How could it be? She was just like me. She was doing everything right. She was healthy. How could she lose her baby?

I don’t know the details and I didn’t have her contact information to tell her how sorry I was. And, honestly, I’m not sure I would have known what to say if I did.

Sunshine After the Storm cover

Sunshine After the Storm is available in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.com

Sadly, parents lose children every day. I cannot fathom the pain a mother must feel when she loses a child. And it doesn’t matter how old the child is. From conception, that child becomes a part of you.

Back in October, my good friend Alexa Bigwarfe made her editing and publishing debut in Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother. It is a compilation of heartfelt, hope-filled stories to encourage bereaved parents that came about after Alexa’s friend lost her full-term baby. She wanted to impart her knowledge as a grieving mother and provide her friend with everything she needed to survive the terrible ordeal.

After reading the book, I realized that it is also a guide for those who have someone in their lives who has lost a child. Reading the stories painted a picture of the emotions that parents go through when they experience a loss, whether it was an early miscarriage or an older child. The feelings of isolation and sheer pain. Not knowing what to do next or when/if they would heal.

The contributing authors share their very honest, personal and different experiences with loss and grief. There are helpful tips throughout the book for those who are in the midst of dealing with a loss. There’s even advice on what to say (or not say) to a mother who has experienced a loss and several resources for grieving parents to utilize and find support. I particularly liked the stories from the men who were able to communicate how different the grieving process is for fathers.

Most importantly, there is a theme of hope beautifully weaved throughout the guide.

I share this book with you on a Philanthropy Friday because Alexa, being the advocate that she is, has also started Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. The nonprofit aims to raise funds in order to provide the book free of charge to hospitals and bereavement groups.

“It is our goal that, through Sunshine After the Storm, Inc.” no grieving mother should have to purchase this book on her own. We want to distribute the book to as many bereavement groups as possible, free of charge to them. If that is not possible, we will work with them to bring the price down to cost.” ~ Alexa Bigwarfe

Alexa is currently raising money for Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. through GoFundMe. It doesn’t take a lot of money to ensure at least one book is donated.

You can read more about Alexa’s story in a November 2012 Philanthropy Friday post called For Love of Kathryn. I also encourage you to read her blog, No Holding Back. You can purchase a copy of Sunshine After the Storm on Amazon.com in print or Kindle version.

Do you know someone who could use this book?

Guest Post: What Gen-Xers can Learn from Parenting in the 1970s and 1980s

The following article was written by Lynn Shattuck of Writing the Waves…Again

schwinnI am seven years old. I roam our neighborhood alone on my Schwinn 10-speed. No helmet encumbers my Dorothy Hamill haircut. My summer skin is brown and smooth. Later, my friend and I will pick blueberries in the pocket of woods down the street. We’ll bring them home to our moms, our fingers and chins stained purple.

Recently a friend and I were chatting while our kids screeched around the playground. We hovered near our toddlers while our preschoolers alternately hugged each other, climbed and fought. In between blasting our kids with messages about safety and kindness and taking turns, the subject of our own childhoods in the 1970s and ‘80s came up.

When our moms were pregnant with us, they may well have had a cigarette in one hand and a wine cooler in the other. They didn’t freak out over ingesting a little soft cheese. When we were babies, we slept on our bellies in cribs with blankets. Many of us were formula fed; none of my mom’s close friends breastfed their babies in the 1970s.

When we were older, we ate bologna sandwiches and fruit roll-ups and drank Kool Aid. We didn’t wear sunscreen.

And when our moms wanted to learn about parenting theories, they schlepped on down to the bookstore and bought a book by Penelope Leach or Dr. Barry Brazelton, or their mothers handed them a dog-eared text from Dr. Spock.

Most of us survived.

Guilt and doubt seem to be hardwired into our mother brains. I’m sure our 1980s moms doubted themselves. They had to worry about stranger danger and AIDS and whether they would become casualties of ascending divorce rates.

But they didn’t have the information overload that mothers today have, the dozens of conflicting theories on parenting. Attachment parenting, positive parenting, free-range parenting, French parenting. The hovering helicopter parenting that so many of us fall into.

And it seems to me that mothers in the 70s and 80s didn’t make things quite so hard on themselves. Sometimes they gave us spankings instead of trying to talk every little thing out using gender-neutral, politically correct dialogue. They weren’t so afraid to leave us in the car while they grabbed some groceries, or in the playpen while they read a magazine. My parents often hired teenage babysitters who tried to mimic Kim Carnes’ husky voice belting out “Betty Davis Eyes” while our parents enjoyed drinks with friends or caught a movie. My mom didn’t lug me to music lessons and baby sign classes and gymnastics while I was still in diapers.

But the biggest difference I see between parenting now and in the 70s and 80s is that our parents didn’t have the internet.

Sure, I can now find out the real lyrics to Billy Jean and what to do when my baby gets croup. But I can also instantly find 350,000 ways in which I’m parenting all wrong. I can feel less than because I don’t harvest my own pumpkins and make homemade agave-sweetened muffins from their pulp before I carve a Pinterest-perfect dollhouse from the hollowed out gourd. I can drive myself crazy reading about the pros and cons of circumcision and vaccinations. All the information about BPAs and GMOs does not help my OCD.

When I listen to all those different opinions and childrearing strategies, I get tangled up. The interwebs become a spider web, and I am dazed and constricted.

When I listen to all those different opinions, I can’t hear my own.

While spanking your kids, smoking during pregnancy and wearing parachute pants can be happily left in the past, our 1970s and 80s mama sisters (and the Eagles) could teach us something about taking it easy.

I don’t subscribe to pumpkincraftmama.com. I am learning to trust that if I need important information pertaining to my parenting, it will find me—just like my mom always did at dinner time.

I need to give myself—and my kids—a little space. From all the opinions. From all the information and hovering and overscheduling.

I’m trying to harness that freedom and spaciousness my little girl self had when she rode her bike around all by herself. Her culotte-clad legs so strong and dark. The whole street is hers. She takes a big breath, and her lungs fill up with sky. She knows just where to go, just what to do next.

Lynn ShattuckLynn Shattuck lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two young children. She blogs about parenting, imperfection, spirit and truth telling at Writing the Waves…Again and her work has recently been featured in elephant journal.

 

 

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