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Why I (don’t?) want kids

Don’t let the title fool you, I really do want kids. But as a  23-year-old soon-to-be college graduate the pressures to get married and have kids are making my head spin.

This may be because my experiences with kids have been quite comedic – and dreadful.

When I was 13 I started my “babysitting career.” That didn’t last long. My first experience was with a 3-year-old boy with crazy-curly hair.

As soon as his parents left, he stripped down to, well nothing, put on his favorite sparkly ruby-red heels and ran around the house screaming. I, a 13-year old girl had no idea how to handle a naked 3-year old boy, especially one in ruby slippers.

Blue Holiday Traditions Turn Green

Saint Patrick’s Day originated as a Catholic celebration in honor of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who passed on March 17.  In early days, the designated color for this holiday was blue.  In secular culture today, the holiday revolves around the color green and is focused less on patron saints than it is on shamrocks, corned beef and cabbage and green beer.  The United States is home to more than ten times the number of Irish descendants than living in the country of Ireland, so it’s no wonder this is a popular U.S. celebration.

St. Patricks day seems to draw those who like to do it up right – the Plumber’s Union, Local 130, in Chicago turns an entire river Irish green in honor of this holiay!  With enthusiasm at this level, I’m going to take a guess that a majority of these journeymen are of Irish descent.

As a child, my mom would make a big deal of holidays and special events.  We were no strangers to the party hat, streamers, loud horns…which can be rather embarrassing – especially when having friends over.

I took a vow to never do that to my children, so this Halloween when my son asked me to drop him off at school rather than walk him up, I was shocked (and he sprinted for the door).  Was he embarrassed at my silly wig?  Was I really doing to him the very thing my mom did to me at his age – couldn’t be – I’m way cooler than that, right?

So it is – the inevitable.  I’ve grown to be like my mother…not in every way and I’m surely way more hip and far less embarrassing.

Taking all this into consideration, I planned an entertaining but low-key St. Patty’s Day that our kids could look forward to and not dread.  I’m holding off on the hats, wigs and shamrock glasses this year, so here’s my plan:

  • We’ll start the day with green food coloring at the bottom of our cereal bowls – I like to believe it’s a surprise, but I think they know by now to expect that sort of thing.  I would guess that during breakfast Dad might try to explain to two (hopefully excited) children what this holiday is all about, and they’ll absorb every word.
  • I’m going to try and find a great way to dye the kids’ bath water green, so if you have any fabulous suggestions or favorite products, let me know!
  • Dressed in our festive green, we’ll participate in some local St. Patty’s day fun and try to get in to Lansdowne Arms for some Irish food sampling and bubbly, greenbeverages.  Lansdowne throws a great bash including live bands, traditional Irish dancing and head shav-a-thon fund raiser for Saint Baldricks Cancer Foundation – which is a wonderful cause, but we’ll probably be keeping our hair this year.

As our children grow older – maybe really, really old – they may appreciate our humorous efforts for family fun.  If we are lucky, they may even carry on some of our traditions with their families…or at least get some good laughs looking back!

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?


Photo: flikr

Don’t judge the high school by the parking lot

We’ve been busy registering our eldest child for high school. I’ve had to visit the campus several times to make sure she’ll be an official member of the Class of 2015, starting next August.

To get to the front doors, I’ve had to run the gauntlet of the F-bomb. Every group of students I pass in the parking lot uses the word at least once in conversation. They’re also fond of calling each other by another F-word used to disparage gay people.

In a high school parking lot, pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. Trash doesn’t feel constrained by cans or bins. It’s obvious which pairs are couples because the hands are very busy and the lips are locked.

I have left the school after every trip to the office feeling alarmed at worst, dismayed at best. Once inside the building, I feel okay until I see boys with mustaches. But that brings up other issues I have with my daughter growing up. It’s emotionally safer to focus on my hatred of the high school parking lot.

I recall the biggest danger in my high school parking lot was the possibility of stepping in tobacco juice, or maybe running over someone’s books because he forgot them on the roof of his car. That was 20+ years ago in Western Colorado. A different time and certainly a different place.

What do I expect from a high school parking lot in 2011?

Is it the norm to feel like I am on a crab fishing ship with hip hop stars as I stride from my car door to the building? With every other word rhyming with buck and tuck and luck, maybe I should start sprinkling The Big One into our dinner table conversations so our daughter will feel acclimated to her new surroundings in the fall.

How is the ducking asparagus? Steamed to ducking perfection?

Much of adolescence is spent trying to out-shock the last kid. Under all the exterior swagger lurks insecurity. The kids I saw are probably good kids. The most important thing I need to remember is that I trust my daughter and that the parking lot isn’t a representation of the geometry class.

In geometry, parallel lines aren’t just suggestions.

Your Opinion: Is Controversial “Hiroshima Mom” Redefining Motherhood or Running From Responsibility?

First, there was “Tiger Mom.” Now, there is “Hiroshima Mom.”

Anyone else seeing a pattern with all these Asian references?

In case you haven’t heard all the controversy surrounding Rahna Reiko Rizzuto ‘s memoir Hiroshima in the Morning, here’s the crib-note version. Several years ago, she was awarded a fellowship to spend six months in Japan to research a book about the survivors of Hiroshima. She reluctantly kissed her husband and two young sons good-bye and had an epiphany while she was overseas: she had never wanted children and though she loved her boys, she no longer wanted to be a full-time parent.

When she returned home she divorced her husband of 20 years and granted him physical custody.

“I was afraid of being swallowed up, of being

Mama Drama: Helicopter Mom Needs Help Landing

Dear Mama Drama:

I am the mother of two girls and enjoy being active in their school. I volunteer in a variety of ways in the classroom and in the school in general.

(photo credit)

I stay on top of the girls’ academics and social issues and step in whenever I or they have concerns. My husband has recently said that I am being a “helicopter mom.” He says I need to let the girls speak up for themselves and solve some of their issues without me stepping in. I just want to do what is best for them, but don’t want to hinder them.

How can I support them without interfering or rescuing?

~ Hovering Mama

(Send your Mama Drama Questions to

Dear Hovering:

Involved parents make a huge positive impact on the success of their children. However, it is important, though often challenging, to balance involvement without interfering or rescuing.

Your girls are lucky to have a mother who has the time and is willing to be so involved in their school. While it is necessary to keep tabs on how your children are doing socially and academically, it is just as important to begin giving them the tools to succeed on their own. Learning to ask for help, stand up for themselves, and solve problems are critical skills to becoming independent and successful adults ~ which we sometimes forget is the end goal of all this parenting stuff. 🙂 Supporting your daughters in learning these skills will also improve their self-esteem and confidence. Children who are constantly rescued come to believe they are incapable of handling their own problems.

Since your girls are used to you stepping in and taking care of things for them there may be some discomfort for all of you as you begin shifting some of those responsibilities to them. I suggest beginning with an open conversation with the whole family. Let them know you have noticed that you’ve been doing some things for them that you think they now have the skills to do on their own. Discuss that as children get older they take on more and more responsibilities. Sometimes this means learning to do the laundry, wash dishes, or mow the lawn, and sometimes this means learning to handle academic and social situations independently.

When social or academic issues come up, start with problem solving conversations where you ask questions and listen rather than solving things for them. Have them explain the situation as they see it. Help them to walk back through what happened before the difficulty and look at how they may have contributed to the problem. Was there anything they could have done differently? Then ask how they think the problem could be solved. (You fixing it might be there immediate answer until they get used to thinking for themselves.)

If they don’t have any ideas, ask if they’d like some suggestions. Be sure to give more than one, so they do some thinking about their choices. Once they decide on a plan of action role play with them to practice the language they want to use and help them get used to speaking up for themselves. Finally, ask them if they think they can handle the situation on their own or if they’d like you to be nearby for support. This continues to give them the message that you are there for them, but that you trust they can handle the situation. Check in with them afterward to see how things went, celebrating their successes and problem solving some more when things don’t go so well.

While you are teaching your girls these steps you are also teaching yourself to let go and grow as a parent. Letting go is a practice and there will be times it will come more easily than others. When you notice that you’ve overstepped or are hovering, be gentle with yourself. It’s a habit that you are working to change and it will take a lot of practice. Step back, reassess, and make a new plan. You may find yourself saying, “You know, I started to take care of this for you, but I just realized that this is something I know you can handle. I’m going to let you take charge of this.”

Supporting your daughters in developing these skills will be a life long gift they will greatly appreciate. As you trust them to become more independent, your relationship will become even stronger and more positive. You’ll become a safe landing place, a helipad, rather than a helicopter.

The extra bonus is while they are handling their issues more autonomously you’ll find a bit more space and time for you and your needs. A tough balance for any mom, but especially moms with a tendency to hover.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

Spring 2011 Consignment Sale Schedule!

Twice a year, Mile High Mamas does a round-up detailing Colorado’s popular children’s consignment sales.

And for the third season in a row, Tracey Gifford saved the day. The proud mother of two elementary-age boys is the owner of the Just Between Friends sale in Denver and offered to compile this year’s schedule for me. As a word of thanks, I’d like to offer a little shout-out to Tracey’s sale April 7-10 at the National Western Complex, which is the largest kids’ gear and clothing resale event in Metro Denver.

Not familiar with children’s consignment sales? Thousands of shoppers find bargains on kids’ clothing for newborn-preteen, toys, strollers, furniture, baby equipment, books, shoes, maternity items and more…all at 50-90% below retail. Most sales have a nominal entrance fee and be sure to bring your own large bag or laundry basket for shopping.

Involve kids early in family’s giving ethos

Involving your children — young or grown — in your philanthropy is one of the best ways to pass on your values about community, giving back and helping others. Kids learn not only by example but also by actively participating in their family’s giving plan.

Children as young as 3 can be encouraged to donate gently used toys, books and clothes to less fortunate kids. Letting your child select what to donate and accompany you when making the donation creates a lasting impression. If your kids already have enough “stuff,” on birthdays consider encouraging your child to request that friends make donations to local charities that help kids rather than bringing gifts. The same approach can be taken during the holidays and for other events like confirmations, bar or bat mitzvahs and graduations. The invitation should specify two or three charities from which to choose.

Some ideas are the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation; Reach Out & Read Colorado; the Kempe Foundation; and the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Set the example yourself by asking others to make donations instead of giving you gifts on holidays or special occasions.

Once children start receiving an allowance or

Mama Drama: Mad Mama

Dear Mama Drama:

I struggle with a low tolerance for frustration with my children when I am tired or not feeling well. Most of the time I handle things well and other times – seemingly out the blue – I just lose it with them. I feel like a good parent most of the time, but feel so guilty when I get impatient and angry with them.

~Explosive Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Explosive:

Thank you for being open about your struggles. Please know you are not alone and that all moms (and dads) have these moments. Most of us don’t talk about them because, like you, we feel guilty about them. I encourage you to be gentle with yourself, acknowledging the difficulties and taking time to care for yourself.

Being aware that you don’t want to

Cupid needs a diaper change and a nap

Legend says Santa hits white sand beaches on December 26, a well-earned reward for the hard work of gifting the world with knick knacks and board games and electronic book readers. What does Cupid do the day after Valentine’s Day? Is he smugly thrusting his fat baby toes into sand on a pristine shore?

I just spent my 15th Valentine’s Day with my husband. I have no doubt that he loves me and I love him. We don’t need Cupid’s inspiration for our hearts to zing. I am impervious to the arrows because Cupid is pretty much just a big baby. Don’t let the lustrous locks of hair or mad archery skills fool you. Like most tots, he is motivated by an appetite for mischief. Plus, his brain is still developing.

When Cupid counts, he says, “One, two, free, eleventy, nineteen, six, ess, four.”

Cupid is nutso about Elmo.

My oldest kids are in middle school. To them, Valentine’s Day is full of mysterious

Couple’s efforts transform system, find homes for thousands of Chinese orphans

Lily Nie is the ultimate tiger mother, matriarch of 9,350 children whose adoptions were facilitated by Chinese Children Adoption International, the Centennial organization she established in 1992.

Instead of seeking the limelight, she prefers to slip to the side. Her office door is papered with a giant handwritten tribute, one of many outsized Mother’s Day gifts, including bouquets of paper flowers made from thank- you notes, that Nie has received over the past 18 years.

Most of the notes are from the Chinese children she’s helped place. Behind each childish hand are parents who adore Nie, 47, and her husband, Joshua Zhong, who co-founded the agency.

“Lily runs