Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why Not?

Ever since my son threw a tantrum because he didn't like where I parked, I've been thinking a lot about the balancing act between needs and wants. It isn't always obvious when you start going down a road you don't want to be on, but the only thing to do when you find yourself on that road is to head back and decide which way you want to go.

Your toddler wants the blue cup instead of the green one. Why not?

Your toddler wants the other cereal for breakfast. Why not?

Your toddler wants popcorn for a snack. Why not?

There are so many instances in our day where we are being asked to pick our battles, and since many of them are not a big deal, we say "why not?" and give them what they want. But sometimes, choosing your battles is not a very effective parenting strategy.

I'm not saying that we should never give our child their choice, especially when it really doesn't matter. What I am saying is that all of these little interactions add up, and pretty soon we're parking in a different spot because our child has suddenly developed a preference as to where we park.

I wish there was a hard and fast rule that could help us decide when we should say no and when we should say yes. Or maybe a counter that counts how many times they've had their way? Unfortunately, as with everything in parenting, there are no strict guidelines, and regardless of how well we consider everything, we still might not be happy with our choices after we've made them. It's still important, however, to try to find some balance, so with that in mind, I'd like to talk about boundaries.

When we are trying to decide whether or not to allow our child to have the cup they want, to jump on the couch, to jump on us, or any other parenting decision, we are making the decision based on our values. The decision we come to is a boundary. Yes, you may have the cup you want, because I value your independence. No, you may not jump on the couch because I value my couch and I don't want it to get broken (or I value you and don't want you to get hurt). No, you may not jump on me because I value myself and I don't like to get hurt.

Janet Lansbury talks about boundaries in this article and the thing I appreciate the most about it is that she gives permission for parents to set any boundaries they want. Don't want to get your child the blue cup instead of the green one? No problem. Your reasons may not be reasonable, but "I don't like that" is an acceptable reason not to want to allow something. Feel free also to use "I don't feel like that today" or "I'm too tired." Again, you don't always have to say no, but for me, the big problem isn't always saying no, it's always saying yes. If this is your problem as well, give yourself permission to say no more often, even if you don't feel like you have a good enough reason to say no.

It can be difficult to get into the habit of opening up the space between their request and your response, but it will be well worth it. If you're often feeling unappreciated, or like your children have become a little too demanding or even (*gasp*) spoiled, give yourself time to answer your children's requests. Ask yourself, "Will I feel annoyed or resentful if I do this?" If your answer is honestly and truly that you don't mind, by all means, go ahead. Sometimes it can just seem easier in the short run to give in to the request. We've all been there, and there's nothing wrong with doing so occasionally. If it happens more than occasionally, however, you probably just need to bite the bullet and put your foot down.

It's easy to get into a rut and parent on auto-pilot. But every now and again something will happen that lets you know it's time for things to change. Change isn't easy for anyone, and it will definitely ruffle some feathers when you start saying no more than you used to, but eventually it will become the new normal. Your needs and wants matter, so don't be afraid to say no.

For Further Thought:

1) In what ways do you find yourself "choosing your battles" throughout your day?

2) What are your reasons for saying "yes?" What are your reasons for saying "no?" Are these reasons consistent with your values?

3) How can you help your responses be more consistent with your values?

For Further Reading:

Not Just Cute: Setting Boundaries Helps Kids...and Also Your Sanity

Peaceful Parent: The importance of healthy boundaries in the family

Positive Parenting Connection: Boundaries: Building Block #9 for Positive Parenting

Respectful Parenting: Parents' Needs MATTER!- The Art of Self-Care and Respectful Parenting

Saturday, February 4, 2017


There is probably no other issue as contentious in parenting as breastfeeding. If you manage to have a successful breastfeeding experience, the time will eventually come when you will have to decide to wean. The optimal time for weaning will depend on who you talk to.Sure, the WHO recommends breastfeeding up to two years and beyond, but they are also making their decisions based on what's best for people around the world, including third world countries where they may not have access to clean drinking water. Obviously, breast milk is preferable to cholera, so if you happen to live in a place where you don't have access to safe drinking water (say, Flint, Michigan), it would make sense to breastfeed for an extended period of time.

The correct time to wean is a very personal decision which means that you will face criticism if your decision does not resemble someone else's.

Parent 1: I breastfeed until my child entered college. It was really difficult and required a lot of sacrifice on my part, but I felt it was important to do what was best for my child
Parent 2: [feels bad for only breastfeeding for a year]

Parent 1: [breastfed child for 6 months]
Parent 2: [is still breastfeeding at a year]
Parent 1: What, are you planning on breastfeeding them until college?

Deciding when to wean (or even to breastfeed at all, but that's a post for another day) falls under the category of decisions a parent has to make by weighing their own needs against their child's. I have read in more than one place that children will self-wean naturally at a certain age, and have thereby concluded that since children are only young for such a little time and it goes so fast, etc., etc., then parents should put aside their own needs and make whatever sacrifices necessary to continue to breastfeed until that point. I have rarely read that it is totally acceptable (and even encouraged!) that a parent put their needs ahead of their child's. (The Horror!) However, parenting is a balancing act of making sure that our needs and our child's needs are met. I don't have the right answer for you, but I will say that you do have the right to take your needs and even your wants into consideration in this question. 

Are you ready to stop breastfeeding? What kinds of "shoulds" are coming up for you when you ask yourself this question? "I *should* breastfeed my child longer." "I *should* wean my child by x age otherwise it's weird." If you were making your decision in a total vacuum, away from the judging eyes of others, what would your decision be? 

When I had decided to wean, there was a little bit of uneasiness. I could have chalked it up to the fact that I (or my daughter) wasn't ready, and have continued past my decided weaning date. At the same time, I realized that this was a big transition for both of us, and that it was ok to not be 100% ready for it. It's possible that at a later date I might have felt 100% ready (I guess we'll never know) but at the same time, I can look fondly both upon my breastfeeding days as well as on when and how I weaned. 

Is your child ready to stop breastfeeding? Especially if your child is older, and has more of an awareness of what's going on, it can be a really difficult thing to go through. Does this mean you shouldn't stop until they're ready? Well, this week my son cried because he didn't like where I parked, should I have parked elsewhere? At a certain point, our kids are not going to be happy with our decisions and you would think parking in the "wrong" spot was equivalent to telling him I was no longer going to be feeding him the way he carried on. And honestly, I almost considered parking somewhere else -our brains are wired to respond to our child's needs, and so we have to really think about what's a need and what's a want. Your child NEEDS food. I'm not convinced that they NEED breast milk. If you are concerned about weaning because of your child's response, there are many ways you can approach this that respect their loss without overriding the boundaries you have decided upon. Obviously, it's much harder to do if you're feeling that you're depriving your child of something they are entitled to.

For both of you, the transition into not breastfeeding anymore will mean a loss of connection. I remember when my daughter would get sick and just want to cuddle with me, and I realized that we didn't do that as much anymore. This may be a valid reason for not weaning. However, if weaning is something you want to do, it will just require a little consideration on your part to figure out how to make that connection with your child. 

If you have decided that you are ready to wean, there are a few different ways to do it. Some advocate "don't offer, don't refuse." This is a good option if you're not in a hurry to wean. If your child asks to nurse, you nurse them. If they don't ask, even if it's a time when you would usually nurse, you don't nurse them. You can also just drop one nursing session at a time, or decide that you will only nurse at home, or only before bed. If you have decided to drop a feeding, but your child still wants to nurse, you can tell them you will nurse later, or offer them a snack, or find another way to connect with them that doesn't involved nursing (including listening to them cry because you won't nurse them).

When I weaned (both times, and my children were a year old each time I weaned), I cut out one feeding every day until I was done. I started with feedings which could be replaced with snacks. The last feeding I eliminated was the night-time one, and it took a few nights with a little crying before they stopped waking up to nurse at night. I distinctly remember bringing a sippy cup with water to my daughtetr's room, but of course she didn't want it. We would sit in the rocking chair but when she realized that breastfeeding wasn't happening I put her back in her crib and she went back to sleep. 

Expect fullness and discomfort for a few days once you've completely weaned. The slower you go (dropping a feeding every week rather than every day, for example), the easier it will be for your body to adjust. If you have to express milk, try to express as little as possible, since the milk that is expressed will always be replaced with more milk.

Again, this is a hugely personal decision that is fraught with all of the worries that parenthood brings about making the "right" decision. Not only do you have to face the judgement of other people, you have to deal with the feelings of the child involved in this decision. You are living in a world which constantly tells you that your needs and wants don't matter, so to make a decision based on your needs and wants in all of this is a recipe for doubt. At the same time, this is big transition and change is hard. So have compassion for yourself and your child as you go through this together.

For Further Thought:

1) Are you ready to wean? 

2) Is your child ready to wean? 

3) What "shoulds" do you have about breastfeeding and weaning?

4) If you are prepared to wean, what is your plan, and does it take into consideration the needs both you and your child have that used to be met by breastfeeding?

For Further Reading:

Ask Moxie: Weaning, or Not Weaning (this is a website where it's safe to read the comments)

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Problem is Not the Problem. The Problem is Your Attitude About The Problem.

I'd like to go into more depth into some of the ideas I mentioned in my article on what your toddler needs. These ideas apply no matter how old your children are, so even if you are long past the toddler stage keep reading. The first thing I did in the article was talk about how your toddler's behaviour was communication, and not to take it personally. I'm sure a lot of people find this hard to swallow. However, our attitudes about our child's behaviours determine our response to them.


It's really important to take a step back before reacting to our child's behaviour and think about what it means to us. If we see the behaviour as a cry for help, we are going to respond much differently than if we see it as a need for discipline. We might not always be correct when we assess why a child is misbehaving, but taking the time to consider it will help us avoid automatic reactions. Then we can ask ourselves about the evidence for our assessment. Is it true? How do you know it's true?

I can't tell you the "correct" way of seeing your child's behaviour; it's possible that your child really is doing what they're doing to make you mad. However, it is important to consider where your attitude may land you. If you see your child's behaviour as something that needs to be punished, as them versus you, you will almost certainly get caught in a power struggle and a cycle of punishment and misbehaviour. If you see your child's behaviour as communication, it will be much easier to problem solve with your child to figure out what the difficulty is and how it can be fixed.

If you are interested in trying to see your child and their behaviour in a different way, the first thing to consider is that it's not about you. Everyone on the planet has one goal: to get their needs met. The most basic of those needs are hunger and sleep, but humans also have the need for empathy, belonging, autonomy and connection. We all struggle to find the best way to communicate our needs, but our children do most of all, especially when they are unable to verbalize them. As Thomas Gordon says, "The "badness'' of the behavior actually resides in the adult's mind, not the child's; the child in fact is doing what he or she chooses or needs to do to satisfy some need." This is not to say that you shouldn't teach your child a better way to meet their needs, but that instead of  trying to "teach them a lesson" you will be trying to teach them a lesson.

For Further Thought:

1) Do you believe that your child's behaviour is communication? What do you believe it is trying communicate?

2) Have you considered the long term outcomes of your attitude towards behaviour? Where do you want to end up, and where do you think you'll end up as a result?

3) Are you able to step back from the behaviour and try to see the need behind it? How can you make this easier for yourself?

For Further Reading:

Abundant Life Children: Through Their Eyes: Keeping Our Expectations Developmentally Appropriate

Janet Lansbury: Stop Feeling Threatened By Your Child’s Behavior

Not Just Cute: Behavior or Communication?

Dan Gartrell: Guidance Matters

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Board Games for (Very Little) Kids

If you grew up playing Monopoly and loved (or hated) it, if you're tired of playing the same game over and over again, or if you're looking for a fun family activity, this is the post for you. The difficulty with having a family game night is finding games for everyone, especially if you have kids younger than 5. Since we are avid board gamers, my husband was anxious to introduce our daughter to the world of board games early on. Luckily, there were a number of games made for very young children that we all enjoy playing together. 

Many great games come from Germany, but have distribution all around the world and instructions written in a few languages. If you can't find it in a store near you that carries them, there are a lot of online retailers (including Amazon) that do. My husband's favourite places to order from are Board Game Bliss and Great Boardgames. Haba is one German company that makes a lot of great games for children, especially very young children. 

Orchard was one of the first games our daughter learned to play, and we recently introduced it to our two year old son. Our 5 year old daughter was happy to play with us. If your child knows their colours and can follow basic instructions, they are old enough to play this game. It's also a good beginning came because it's cooperative: everyone wins (or loses) together. The game includes a board, a die, fruit pieces in four colours and shapes (red cherries, blue plums, green apples and yellow pears), 4 baskets and a puzzle board with 9 puzzle pieces.

In Orchard, the objective is to get all the fruit off the board before the crow puzzle is finished. The die has six sides: one for each colour of fruit, as well as a basket and a crow. If you roll one of the colours, you take a fruit of the same colour and put it in a basket. If you roll a basket, you get to take two pieces of fruit. If you roll a crow, you take a crow piece and put it in the puzzle board. Everyone takes a turn rolling the die and removing the fruit or building the crow puzzle depending on what they roll. Once all the fruit pieces are gone, you win! If the crow puzzle is completed before the fruit is gone, you lose. 

Animal Upon Animal
My Very First Animal Upon Animal (there are a few versions of the game, this is the one for toddlers) was one of our daughter's favourites at this age, but our son enjoys knocking the animals over more than trying not to knock it over so it was not a success for him. The nice thing about it is that there are a variety of ways to play, so you can play cooperatively or against one another. The game comes with a die, some animal blocks, some tokens and some boards. The object of the cooperative game is to build your towers before the rabbit gets to the end of his path. You place the two boards (clover and flower) beside each other, and make a path using the tokens. The die has suns, clovers and flowers on the sides. Every time you roll a sun, the rabbit moves to the next token. Every time you roll a flower or a clover, you put an animal of your choice on that board. If there's already an animal there, you have to stack it. Be careful! Don't knock the animals over or you will have to start again. If you can get all the animals stacked up before the rabbit gets to the end of the tokens, you win. 

Our son adores this game, even though he's not really old enough to play it. Our daughter has been able to play it since she was about 4, with help. The object of the game is to be the first one to go around the board. The game comes with 6 different coloured cars, 6 dice with different colours on them, and a board.

Monza Board
The board has a few different tracks, each segmented into different blocks of colour. When it's your turn, you roll all the dice, and move your car along using the colours of the dice to determine which blocks you can go on (they must be adjacent). From the start, if you rolled blue, yellow, green, red, white, purple, you would be able to move all the way to the purple block on the first curve. However, if you didn't roll a white or a blue, you wouldn't be able to advance at all. The first one to make it all the way around the board wins! The nice thing about this game is that although there is some strategy involved, it is mostly luck as to which colours you will roll so it evens the playing field. Even though our son isn't old enough to play it, he likes to play with the cars and will most certainly enjoy playing the game later on. Our daughter still loves it at age 5.

Linus the Little Magician

Another great game company is Drei Magier. One of the games our son really likes right now is Linus the Little Magician.Our daughter still likes this one as well. The object of the game is to get the most tokens. The game comes with 6 different types of circular tokens (some are magnetic and some not) and matching square cardboard cards, as well as a little (magnetic) magician block. On your turn, you turn over a card and use the magician to try to pick up the matching token. If he can pick it up, you keep it. If he can't pick it up, the card goes into the box. Once all the cards are gone, you count how many tokens you have and whomever has the most is the winner. This game is a little like memory, because you have to remember which tokens someone has tried that are not magnetic. You can adjust the difficulty of the game by arranging all the similar tokens together or by giving more than one try to the youngest. If I play with just our son, we both clap when all the cards are gone (he doesn't understand the concept of winning just yet).

If you're interested in board games, my husband highly recommends The Dice Tower. Tom Vasel talks about the games in a lot of detail and since he also has children, he reviews children's games fairly frequently. I will follow this post up with at least two more posts detailing games for (little) kids (age 3-4) and games for kids (age 5+).

For Further Thought:

1) What family activities do you enjoy with your kids?
2) What memories of playing games as a kid do you have?
3) What obstacles might be in your way to starting a family game night? How might you solve them?

Monday, March 28, 2016

3 Things Your Toddler Needs (But Doesn't Know How To Ask For)

Toddlers, amirite? One moment they're the cutest thing ever and the next moment they're melting down because they want to simultaneously drink from the red cup and the blue cup. You find yourself second-guessing your parenting skills, furiously googling for the answers. Do I need to go gluten-free? Am I too strict? Not strict enough? You find yourself walking on eggshells, worrying about provoking the next meltdown. Yet it doesn't seem to matter how carefully you tread, your toddler still finds an excuse to throw a tantrum. Or starts pushing all your buttons. On purpose. You find yourself not only not enjoying being around your toddler, but actively disliking them. You are despondent, wondering if it will always be this way. And you are so very, very tired, physically, mentally and emotionally.

When I went through this stage with my daughter, my googling turned up Janet Lansbury. This was how I got started on my peaceful parenting journey, and I'm so grateful I did. Not only am I already beginning to see the results with my daughter, I'm finding it so much easier to go through this stage with my son (it also helps to know that it does pass).

Here's a summary of testing behaviours from Janet Lansbury's blog:

  • Misbehaving, and the problem isn't that they aren't aware of or forgetting the rules (this is especially evident when they look at you and smile/laugh while doing it)
  • Become very demanding (requesting specific cups or spoons, not being happy regardless of the outcome)
  • Are destructive and aggressive (may be playing aggressively with toys or people: throwing, pushing hitting, biting, etc)
  • Losing it at the drop of a hat
  • Seeming not like themselves (you find yourself wondering what happened to the lovely kid that you had)
  • Pushes all your buttons (seems intentional)

If you find yourself recognizing a lot or all of these behaviours, don't take it personally. Your toddler lacks the verbal skills to tell you exactly what it is that they need and instead uses their behaviour as a cry for help. Toddlers thrive on routine, and if that routine gets disrupted, it throws them off.  Things that stress us out, like vacations (either with or without kids), family visiting, transferring to a "big kid" bed, potty training and being pregnant or coping with a new addition to the family are even scarier for our toddlers. They need our help to understand that everything's going to be OK, and that they can get through this difficult time.

This doesn't mean that we should never get out of our routines, but that we have to be aware of the effect that it will have on our toddlers. Here are three things you can do to help your toddler reestablish equilibrium. 

First, your toddler needs gentle limits. I know parents from all over the parenting spectrum so I will clarify what I mean for each end of the spectrum. Some of you have got the gentle part down pat. Anything you do that makes your child cry seems cruel. However, if your child isn't sure where the limits lie, they will continue to test them until they figure it out. If they find that the limits are too loose, they will act out out of fear (imagine the difference between crossing a narrow bridge with railings and without). Some of you may be saying, "Limits? Of course I set limits!" What you may struggle with is the gentle part. You don't need to yell. You don't need to get upset. You don't need to show any emotion whatsoever (in fact, the less emotion you show the better, so if you're having a hard time holding your poker face, give yourself some time to calm down). You can state the limit and then act on it (see this article on limit setting for more ideas). "No throwing. If you throw your toys, I will have to take them away." Child throws toy. You take it away. They cry. Which leads us to the next thing your child needs...

..,.acceptance of their feelings. Regardless of which end of the parenting spectrum you're coming from, you may struggle with hearing your child cry. For those from the permissive side, as mentioned, making your child cry seems cruel. You may remember what it was like to feel hurt as a child, and if your parent was authoritarian, you maybe have even been told not to cry. You are determined to do things differently. Parents coming from the authoritarian end of the spectrum also don't like to hear crying, but to them it's not about being mean, it's that letting them cry about not being able to break the rules seems like "giving in." For both types of parents, working on accepting those difficult feelings is important so they can learn that a) I can be sad, but it won't last forever and I will be OK, and b) my parent not only cares enough about me to set limits, they care that I'm upset. At no point should you do something to get the crying to stop, either positive (distracting them with something good) or negative (threatening them). It may seem like they will cry forever, but just see it through until the end. If you don't know what to do, just sit down beside them, close your eyes and focus on your breath (see my post on meditating so you don't get caught up in your thoughts while you're doing this). 

The last thing that your child needs is connection. This is probably the hardest thing to do even when your toddler isn't acting like a terror. Dr. Laura Markham recommends 15 minutes a day of "special time" with each kid, and although it doesn't seem like a lot, I still struggle to do it everyday (and when I do do it, it's with both kids at the same time, which isn't ideal). This part might even be harder than listening to your child cry, especially when you are already exhausted from dealing with their behaviour (this is where self-care becomes especially important). Some parents might even feel like this is rewarding the bad behaviour. Your child is trying to tell you with their behaviour that they need to know that you love them unconditionally. It's easy to love our kids when they are behaving. Being able to show your kids you love them when they're behaving horribly is really hard.

I'm not promising that these things will put an end to the behaviour, but they will at least give you a script to follow to get through it. If you're skeptical that it will make a difference, give it a trial period. If what you're currently doing isn't working for you, what have you got to lose?

For Further Thought:

1) What preconceived notions do you have about your child's behaviour? The next time they are misbehaving, try to listen to what's going on in your head before you react.

2) Do you struggle with setting gentle limits? Is it being gentle or the limit setting part that you have a hard time with?

3) How did your parents respond to big feelings when you were a kid? The next time your child is expressing some big feelings, try and listen to what's going on in your head before you react.

4) What obstacles are getting in your way of connecting with your child? Consider if you need more time for self-care, if you feel like connection is rewarding bad behaviour, or if you don't feel like you have enough time.

For Further Reading:

Janet Lansbury: The Real Reason Toddlers Push Limits

Parenting from Scratch: Tips for Setting and Holding Limits With Kids

Peaceful Parent: Helping Little People Deal With Their Big Feelings

AhaParenting: 5 Secrets to Loving Your Child Unconditionally

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finding the Middle Ground

I realized this week that the problem with all parenting books is that they assume that one size fits all. That all parents are starting from the same place, that their kids all have the same temperament, and that all parents want to parent in the same way. While it's obvious that not all parents and children are the same, I figured that regardless, if there was a parenting method that worked, all parents should try to parent that way. I have no evidence that there is one particular parenting method that works for every parent and every child even some of the time, let alone all the time, but even if there were, it can't be approached in the same way by every parent.

In the Peace Circle this month, the theme is "bendy." I have taken e-courses on boundaries and it still took a few weeks for me to realize that being flexible has to do with boundaries. Some of the mamas are too rigid. The problem with being too rigid with your boundaries is that as soon as you collide with someone else's wants and needs-which is guaranteed to happen when you become a parent- you will break. The other side of the coin (and this is where I find myself) are the mamas who are too bendy. While one might think that being flexible is a good thing, the other extreme has a tendency to bend so much that they also break.

If I had not already worked with the idea of boundaries, I might look at the theme of bendy and think that being more flexible will help me, and end up breaking myself in the process. Personally, I need to learn how to set limits and be less bendy. However, if someone who is not bendy at all took a course in setting limits, they would not benefit from it either.

Enjoy this picture of a dog
I've never read anywhere about considering which end of the authoritarian-permissive spectrum you're on before making adjustments to your parenting style. The problem is that people have a tendency to avoid the middle ground and stick to their extremes. Authoritarian parents believe that you are either strict and make your kids tow the line, or you are permissive and indulgent. Permissive parents believe that either you have a good relationship with your child, or you are punitive and harsh. It creates a false dichotomy between setting limits and having a good relationship with your child, as if you cannot do both (hint: you can). Parents on one end have difficulty setting limits, and parents on the other end have difficulty setting limits while maintaining their relationship with their child. 

If you've been having difficulties setting limits with your child, don't feel you need to change your personality to be more harsh. Conversely, if you want to be less punitive with your child, you don't need to become all sunshine and rainbows and let your kid get away with things. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, there is a happy middle ground where parents from both ends of the spectrum can meet. Getting there, however, will depend on which end of the spectrum you're coming from.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Screen Time -An Addendum

I've fallen off the wagon. I've been spending way too much time on my iPad, to the point where my daughter, age almost 5, has been telling me that I've been spending way too much time on my iPad. I haven't been meditating. Sometimes it's really, really hard to do the things you know you should (or not do the things you know you shouldn't).

I have fallen, and I have gotten up again. I joined the Peace Circle, which is a beautiful community of mamas who have completed the Abundant Mama Project. Someone made a really good suggestion that I check out Molly McLeod's Wallpapers. I downloaded one of her wallpapers, and then browsed Google images for another background that I found meaningful.


It's actually made a difference. I also made an effort to start meditating again. However, I don't want anyone to think that I'm some kind of super-mom who's always doing the right thing. Sometimes I find it really hard to write blog posts because I'm worried that I'm setting up a standard of parenthood that I can't live up to. I called my blog Authentic Parenting not to pay homage to an overused buzzword but because if there's any kind of parent I want to be, it's a real one. One that has bad days. One that scratches the car, spills the milk, loses her mittens, ignores her kids. I hope that anyone reading this is also interested in becoming the best real parent they can be. One that understands that no matter how well you practice your parenting, you will still have days that are chaotic and messy. Kids who will not listen. Tempers that get lost. Tears that need to be cried. This is life, and I want to live it in the most real way I can. Want to join me?