Monthly Archives: August 2010

What Would You Do? (Mom’s Edition)

Sort of looks like a blueberry to a toddler. Photo provided by Ledge and Gardens.

We had the misfortune of a small emergency last night. My two-year-old decided to sample some berries while playing outside. Her ever-vigilant sister caught her in the act and sounded the alarm to whomever would listen.

Since Daddy was on duty, they all paraded into the house with the plant and a crying toddler with a purple mouth.

“She ate poison berries!” exclaimed my panicked 8-year-old daughter.

I was in the middle of making dinner, trying to make sense of what happened. My actions, in hindsight, are what I’ve been stewing over all day.

What would you do in this situation?

  1. Scoop up baby girl and whisk her away to the emergency room.
  2. Take matters into your own hands, literally, and induce vomiting.
  3. Smooth away everyone’s worries, assure them everything will be fine, then Google your way to more information.

Well, if you chose number 3, we’ve got something in common. She’s fine, fine, fine. It’s just an elderberry. Go outside and play so I can finish dinner. Semi annoyed by the interruption.

Is it an elderberry? You can make wine and juice from that, right? So I look it up online, study some photographs and hmmm. That’s not an elderberry.

I Google “looks like an elderberry” and wait a minute… it’s a pokeberry. Looking up pokeberry… ALL PARTS OF POKEWEEDS ARE POISONOUS.

Okay. Mild panic sets in at this point. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, cramping… coma and death. Heart is pounding. Still trying to be calm because 8-year-old is still hovering nearby.

How many berries had she eaten? This is the child who can polish off a pint of blueberries by herself.

Not to toot my own horn and throw in a blatant product endorsement, but I rushed to my desk to get my Baby Love Carebook. On the first page is a list of phone numbers, including the poison control hotline.

After a brief chat with an R.N., I was reassured that the ER would not induce vomiting; that she would have to eat at least 10 berries to get sick; and if she did begin vomiting, dehydration was our biggest worry. She even called me back two hours later to check on my daughter’s condition.

No vomiting. Everything was indeed fine, fine, fine. But shouldn’t my panic button have gone off a little sooner? Is it really a good thing to always be cool as a cucumber? Is there a part of me that is always in denial?

Yes, I know, my reaction ultimately turned out to be just right. The situation just made me think of all the different ways this little drama could have played out with different people involved.

Grace and peace.

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How Stay-at-Home Moms are Compensated

Bonus check: our family portrait 2010.

This weekend I was paid a compliment by a close friend and family member. She thanked me for all I had taught her about mothering and expressed joy in spending time with me and my girls. I was humbled by her kind words, and admitted that I’ve never really considered myself all that great at being a mom. But I do try hard, and I strive to be better today than I was yesterday. While appreciating her sentiments, I thought about the term “paid a compliment.” It made me smile because stay-at-home moms must take what we can get in terms of payment.

What are some of your favorite rewards of mothering? I came up with my list (in no particular order) of non-monetary forms of payment:

  1. Wildflower/weed bouquets,
  2. Drawings (especially traced hands turned into birds or trees),
  3. Whispered conversations at bedtime,
  4. Make-believe playtime involving mama doll and baby dolls,
  5. Impromptu serenades by a budding rock/country/classical songstress,
  6. The soft touch of a child’s hand,
  7. A sleeping child in my arms, no matter how young or old they are,
  8. Kind words of appreciation from a spouse or another parent.

I’m reminded that I chose this path for a reason. I willingly gave up my lucrative career (hey, I’m a designer, so lucrative is a subjective word) to raise our children. I knew that the education I received from this job would surpass all other degrees achieved, but possibly unappreciated by future employers. I do sometimes envy moms in other countries who are paid to stay at home. Not so much for the money they receive, but for the validation. Perhaps that’s why we use the term “paid a compliment.” For so many of us, kind words of encouragement are the compensation for the work that we do.

MOM DARE: I’ve issued a similar dare in the past, but it’s worth repeating. This week, offer your words of kindness, encouragement, support or gratitude to the mothers around you. Give them an example of what you notice that impresses you. As moms, it’s so easy to get caught up in the exhaustion and the meltdowns and the never-ending chores. We tend to lose focus of all that is right and dwell only on what’s wrong. Make an effort to be more supportive of mothers around you and watch your own support system grow in the process. We really are in this together, and surely it’s time we all got a raise.

Grace and peace.

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Motherhood’s Magic Mirror

It starts off simply enough. I smile, you smile. Then it gets more complicated.

My daughters had a hard time using the word, “please.” I noticed this several years ago, when I was constantly correcting their demands, making them insert the word before I would honor their request. They always said, “Thank you,” just not the “p” word. I remember the moment when I discovered why this phenomenon was occurring and needless to say, it was a head-slapping revelation. I asked my child (about age 4) to do something and she looked at me while asking, “please?” She was correcting my rudeness.

So, I listened in on all my conversations that day. Do I ever use the word? I frequently use the words “thanks” and, “I’m sorry.” I say “you’re welcome” and I always say “I love you” at least twice a day per family member. Somehow I had gotten into the habit of issuing orders without the basic nicety of “please.” It didn’t matter that I was telling my children to always use this word, they were simply mirroring my own behavior. It was so basic. So many trite sayings have formed out of this one constant of human development. Monkey see, monkey do. Do as I say, not as I do. But there it was staring me in the face without me really seeing it.

There are many times in raising children when you need to stop, examine your world through your child’s eyes and ears, and really think about what they are learning from you. Are you telling them not to hit, but spanking them as a form of punishment? Do you raise your voice when angry, but reprimand your child for yelling? (This is one of my uglier problems that I’m still working on.) Do you wish they would interact more with other children, but spend all your time with them instead of making strong connections with other adults?

It’s not easy realizing that your children are so much like you, yet so different. You assume they will only pick up your strengths and excel at the areas you have mastered. In addition to picking up your bad habits, magnifying them and mirroring them back to you like a carnival fun house; children also pick up on your energy. They know when you are tense, sad, angry with your spouse or worried about life. They know instantly when you don’t like someone. Unfortunately, children assume that they are the cause of your negative emotions, not an outside influence. My oldest daughter has the eerie habit of plucking thoughts right out of my head. It happens so often now that I’ve come to accept her ability as yet another reason to focus my thoughts and energy into positive messages.

MOM DARE: Spend this week listening in on your conversations, really hearing yourself the way your child does. Are they imitating you? Can you see how one of their troublesome behaviors could be related to something you have inadvertently taught them? Are you stressed about something and your child is picking up on your anxiety? Try spending a little more time this week reassuring your children that they are doing a good job, that you love them, and that life is truly beautiful. Please.

Grace and peace.

To subscribe to my Weekly Bit of Baby Love and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at

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