The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance


The great toy divide

Note: This post is about my frustrations with the toy industry and the merchandising (pink and blue aisles) in stores, their obsession with boy and girl toys, and the lack of options outside of the split-gender toy culture, and is not solely in response to the Facebook thread that I refer to. This piece reflects thoughts that have been going around in my head for the past several years and it was coming regardless of the virtual conversation that took place. I have concerns about placing strong gender expectations on our children and can’t wrap my head around what has happened to toys just being toys as when past generations were growing up. There have always been Barbies and dolls, but things have gotten carried away.

“that’s it. i’m opening a store for kids that sells things that have nothing to do with gender, being separated by gender, or “tells” them (and their parents) what toys and clothes they should be wanting/getting based on their gender.” ~ December 1, 2014

It’s been a week since I updated my Facebook status expressing my frustration over trying to find a bicycle with training wheels for Sugar Bee that wasn’t pink and glittery or covered in Spider-Man decals. I’m still bothered by the discussion that followed, so I am letting my thoughts have an outlet here and now. Of course it got a few likes, a few comments from friends implying that they would like to see the same thing and would shop there, some other supportive comments, but not all of them were free from judgement. I’m quite certain that I probably inadvertently offended some of my more sensitive Facebook friends by using the phrase, “pukey pinky with tassels and crap,” as I bet they felt that this was a personal attack on them or their daughters. I would never, ever mean it that way and I love that most of the daughters of my friends are into all the usual girl things. I know my daughter will love her time with them no matter what they play with. I was just really frustrated and getting anxious about what kind of bicycle Santa was going to be able to bring on Christmas morning.

What was most ridiculous to me was that I felt like I had to defend why I didn’t want to get my kid a “girly” bike. Do I care what anyone else buys their kid? Do I judge if there is all sorts of girl stuff in someone’s house? No, I just assume 997084_10154722174075702_8975061256647007973_nthat their house is aligned with the interests that their child has. Your particular home with a little girl in it might be all full of pink, princesses, play kitchens, and dolls, while mine is full of construction machines, trains and tracks, and matchbox cars. What I don’t think people ponder very often is what it might be like to have a daughter that is not princess-obsessed, one that everyone sees as less “normal” than others. People talk to me in public and assume that my kid knows the entire score to Frozen. I sometimes comment that she’s more of a Cars kid, other times I just smile. When your child’s birthday came around and you asked them what kind of birthday party they wanted, perhaps they picked a gender-appropriate (whatever the hell that means) theme. My daughter enthusiastically declared that she wanted a Dusty party. It just so happened that the second Planes movie was coming out two weeks before her birthday weekend. Good timing for her and a great time was had by all.

My point is, everyone likes and dislikes different things, even all of us as adults, so I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around some of the 44 comments on my status update. I was struggling with my online shopping to find something that wasn’t clearly labeled “boy” or “girl,” one that wasn’t over-the-top with pink craziness or over-the-top about a character. As I shopped, I knew she would be totally fine with something that was clearly for a boy, but why should it have to be this way? Why are there no other options? That was the entire point of my post which has now led to this lengthy piece.

An argument that girls are by nature more nurturing is as absurd as expecting everyone to want kids of their own. Not all girls need or want dolls and have to participate in or initiate creative play of a domestic nature, for lack of a better term. She is genuinely loving and caring for others, she welcomes people into our home, greets people everywhere she goes whether they are strangers or not, and has always been like this. She loves on any animal she comes in contact with (once causing her to get stepped on by a pony) and has one of the sweetest souls ever. I trust her instincts about people more than my own. But nurturing is not a word that I would choose to describe her. I don’t want my child to feel that there’s something wrong with her because she has no interest in dolls or pink or princesses or whatever way other people think she should be. She might totally change someday and do a 180. That will be just as fine.

In the past, I have felt pressure to clarify that we DO expose her to girl stuff, so here it is. (For the record, it’s making me cringe every time I’m referring to something as a boy or girl thing.) She has a Disney Princess Tea Set that she does play with on occasion. So what if it’s probably only because she likes to sort and organize things. I’ve shown her how to have a 10405692_10154626158845702_490088167195375153_ntea party and she will sometimes (now) pretend with me, but she mostly uses the tea cups to hold some of her cars. She has a doll, a stroller, and even a few outfits for it, but would you like to know how she plays with her doll? On the half a dozen times that she has voluntarily touched the doll, she puts her in the stroller and races around the house, chasing/torturing the dog, letting the doll hang half out of the stroller, sometimes falling out completely. Then she runs away, leaving the doll on the floor. Nurturing? Not so much. I know she has played with the kitchens and stuff at other homes and at school sometimes, but these are just not the things that she gravitates to. She plays with the cars and the trains most of the time, and is obsessed with puzzles. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I sneak peeks at her creatively playing with her cars and trains, making up scenarios and conversations. It’s the same thing girls do with their dolls or stuffed animals, just with a different medium. And that’s perfectly fine. She helps me in the kitchen (she calls it “bakering”), and although it’s usually a brief encounter, at least she shows an interest. She helps me move laundry into the dryer or laundry basket and wants to help Swiffer the floor. But one of the most exciting times for her this past week was when I let her help me change the batteries out of two toys, showing her how to use the screwdriver and teaching her what to do by herself. Her face beamed, her concentration was so focused, and she was over the moon with pride when they toys worked again. I have little doubt that she will be taking things apart in my house before she enters intermediate school. That is my child.

10485310_10154673194125702_7746693007532627052_nMy problem isn’t what anyone else does as far as buying toys for their kids. Frankly, it’s none of my damn business. To think that I would want to do away with princess things or pink things is absurd. My oldest niece was princess obsessed and I loved it! I would buy all sorts of cool Disney things for her and had a great time playing with her and all her things. My question is, what has happened to toys? How have we let toy manufacturers and marketers create such a huge divide in what toys children feel they “should” play with? Why do we have this obsessive need to make things for boys and things for girls, things that are essentially identical aside from color? My child gravitates toward blue, orange and red. Those are just the colors that she likes. So why can’t we just have TOYS like we did when my generation was growing up? This was the entire point of my post (rant) on the good ol’ Facebook. How fun for you (or maybe not from what some friends say) that your little girl is obsessed with Frozen. It took me THREE tries to get through that movie with her and I really wanted to watch it, so I basically forced/bribed her into finishing it with me. She’s not much of a fan of movies with people characters…Cars, Planes, Toy Story…those are her jams. And I have so many movies that I hope I will watch with her. Someday. But that day is not today. It’s not where she is, and maybe she never will be. And that’s just fine, too. I will sit and watch The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast for the trillionth times, reciting the words and singing every score by myself. Maybe that will make it more interesting to her. Someday.

After the whole bike discussion on Facebook, I took her to look at bikes at REI and a few other places the next evening to see what she gravitated to when selecting her own bike. It went just as I expected it would. After all, I do know my own kid. (Santa will probably be bringing a nice blue BMX bike with training wheels this Christmas.) After we found “the one,” we went off to Target to check and see if there was something less expensive that she liked, but everything in her size range was character dependent. It’s fine if your child is completely obsessed with something and you as parents choose to get a Hello Kitty bike for your daughter, Lord knows that Sugar Bee’s head nearly exploded when she saw the box that held the Planes: Fire and Rescue bike in it and she told me she “needed” that one, but my husband and I decided before this FB discussion even took place that we did not want something so thematic for her. We want a quality bicycle that will last for more than one year and hold her interest longer than her newest movie or toy obsession.

While in Target, I was wandering the toys getting ideas for other kids’ birthday and Christmas presents. I 995799_10153490403950702_1767355858_nsaw girl nerf guns and girl lego sets (those were mostly lame, in my opinion). I understand the point behind making things available in pink. We want to be able to offer the pink things to the girls that love pink in the hopes that they might discover something new that they may not have tried otherwise. I think it’s a great idea, but I feel that it’s gone completely overboard. Gender-neutral toys, or toys as they were called when we were growing up, are disappearing. I saw this pink tool set two years ago and had my mom get it for her. She absolutely loves it and plays with it constantly. Yes, I bought it because it was pink. But I would have bought her a tool set at some point, pink or not. Do we need pink tool sets? Pink Nerf guns? Pink Lego sets? What if a little boy sees the stable Lego Friends set and wants it because he loves horses? He has to cross to the pink aisle to the girl Legos, opening him up for possible future ridicule from friends for playing with girl toys. I was perfectly happy with my normal old legos growing up. We are perpetuating and encouraging this cycle of pink = girl and blue/orange/red/whatever = boy, and making a greater toy divide. I bet the toy companies are making a killing by offering the same thing in different colors to each gender. Why are we letting them make the rules?


Scooter bought when she was 1 1/2 by grandparents. Helmet chosen by her when old enough to ride.

Now back to my anxiety over the bicycle situation. Last Christmas, my nieces gave her two gifts. One was a travel Thomas train and tracks (obvious hit with her). The other was a pink stroller. Upon opening that one, she stared blankly at me and pushed it aside. I felt sad. For all of us. At her birthday this year, some friends from our neighborhood that we really only know from the pool gave her a set of something like My Little Pony, all different sizes, with a hair dryer, fake braids to attach, and all sorts of accessories. As if the face she made wasn’t reason enough for me to want to move on to the next gift quickly, she actually said, “I don’t like that” as she handed me the gift. I still hope that she said it quietly enough that the family didn’t hear. (There’s a reason why Russians never open gifts in front of people.) I was anxious about being able to prevent a wave of disappointment from coming over my child’s face on Christmas morning. I just want more options and less boy versus girl.

Since she could move, Sugar Bee has been fascinated with things that move. She is constantly shocking me with the capabilities of her mind. She is crazy amazing with puzzle skills. She loves learning about outer space. She wants to know everything. I know kids are curious, I taught kids her age for years, but she needs to know EVERYTHING. “What kind of car is that? What is that machine doing? What kind of stuff is that truck carrying? Are we going to the highway? What road are we on?” She misses nothing. In a frightening sort of way. She looks at and observes every detail when we are outside, always asking questions. I never want her curiosity and love for the world around her to dwindle. I want her to always be free to express herself and her interests without being told that something is for boys. It’s inevitable, I know. Kids are mean and can be downright ruthless, and adults (myself included) sometimes make comments without thinking about their potential impact. I only hope that I can arm her with enough self-confidence in who she is and what she can accomplish to defend her spirit from the judgments. Until then, we will continue to put Top Gear on the DVR when she asks for it.

One of my minors was sociology. This is something that really hits home to me, but not only because of that. I was a building kid and I loved to be outside. I had an incredible sandbox that I remember playing with huge, metal Tonka construction vehicles in. I had Barbies. And they had a Tonka truck to ride in. I love sports and watching them, talking about them, playing in fantasy leagues. I played soccer, softball, and basketball from elementary school until I graduated high school. I have incredible spatial skills and a ridiculous sense of direction, if I do say so myself. I love cars. I have my motorcycle license. I know how to shoot guns. I’m a math and science nerd whose favorite subject (and original major) was physics. I have been lucky enough to always have had teachers that recognized and encouraged my math and science skills, instead of telling me they were not things that girls are good at. I’m not your average girl, so why would anyone surprised that my kid is who she is? I don’t care if she’s doing boy things or girl things. I want her to be caring, loving, and generous, to love who she is, both inside and out, and not judge others based on their interests. So, toy industry, stop expecting my sweet girl to only want to shop on the pink side of a toy store. And know that I will never feel like my kid should be all about the pink.

Cars can be pretty, too.10734084_10154824435315702_3999758097360426362_n

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We are both pretty sad after saying goodbye to the paci

It has been two weeks since giving up the pacifier and we are both still struggling a bit. All of us, I guess. But mostly Sugar Bee and I.

Bye-bye, paci. “When I’m three, I will have zero pacis.” She was telling everyone that. She would also talk about giving them to a friend’s new baby because she needed them more. I had done my best to prepare her and we talked about all of the events that surrounded her becoming a “big girl.” At the ripe old age of three.

I completely admit that I am guilty of doing lots of things that the old preschool teacher me of the past would want to slap me for. I still help her eat sometimes. She was still in a crib until just after her third birthday, and she still had a paci for sleep and those time she needed extra comfort. I can’t seem to get this stubborn kid to be independent enough with some things so I end up helping or doing them (slap); pottying without help with her pants (she knows how), getting dressed on her own (or at least only needing help), even shoes are often a discussion point (annoyance). Lots of other kids her age do these things already. I have milestones in my head from years of teaching and helping to raise other people’s children. I am aware that I may place more pressure in other areas as I can see what kind of brain she has, but for some reason I’m not pushing some of the other things that I should be encouraging her to do. Maybe I’m subconsciously trying keep her my baby just a little longer. I know that I am savoring moments, every moment,  maybe a little too much. No one has any idea what lies ahead and this gift from God may very well be the only one that I get to receive. Savor, I must.

I always wanted lots of kids (like 3 to 5), but things don’t always turn out as we planned. Our own plan is not THE plan, and that is possibly one of the hardest things I’ve tried to learn throughout my adult life. It is still a struggle for me. We had put off conceiving our first child when we found out the Russian’s army unit was going to deploy. And then they put off his deployment. Twice, if I remember correctly. So I lost a few of the easier-to-conceive years living by the the motto most military families are familiar with, “Hurry up and wait.” Sure, I could have gotten knocked up and handled pregnancy, delivery, and even those first weeks/months on my own if I had to. But I didn’t want to. I knew the awesomeness and wonder of babies, but the Russian did not. He never held one until she arrived (true of most men) and I didn’t want him to miss anything. I’m so glad that we waited because all of my experience didn’t prepare me for this kid. And I needed him so much those first months. Colic is no joke.

Now here I am pushing 39. I may never have another opportunity to experience these moments of being a mom to a preschooler, so I make the most of everything when I can. I know what you’re thinking…lots of women have babies in their 40s. Let’s be realistic here. I come from a line of women that didn’t have the easiest time conceiving, I delivered my first child at 35, I have a full-time career and the stress that comes with it, my husband is in school at night after working all day and we hardly ever see each other (or have energy to get together), and I’m already tired. Babies take a lot of energy. If it comes to be, I will be overjoyed. For now, I’m settling into accepting the fact that I may very well be raising an only child. I will save my thoughts on that for another time.

I’m slightly envious at times of true SAHMs that do not have a job (that they get paid for) outside of the millions of jobs we all have inside the home. Even my times with her in the house with me (after her morning preschool and nap are over) are often distracted by my computer/sametimes/conference calls and the myriad of things that I have to get done on a daily and weekly basis to run a household. So when nap time comes, I make the most of it. Putting her down for a nap has always been my favorite time of day. Yes, I still rock her her to sleep (slap) because I can. There are no other children that need me, and this allows me these precious times with her. It is the one time of day that I truly give her all of me…and I take plenty from her in return. I soak up her peaceful quiet and enjoy the sound machine in her room, temporarily able to leave my work on the other side of her door. Most days, this time is the only point in the day that I am able to do that, to completely focus in on her and her needs. And sometimes I can’t. There are days when I have to get her down earlier or do it in a hurry in order to make a conference call or get back to a really hot issue for work. I hate those days. The ones when I feel like I have to rush through this precious time that I’m trying to hold onto. I’m grateful for my job and my career, but I despise when I feel robbed of this part of my day. Evening bedtime is treated differently because she is left to fall asleep on her own so that I can return to my computer and finish working after the break for cooking dinner, giving a bath, reading books, and saying goodnight. Nap is our time together. I cherish it.

I watch her, peeking through my eyes as she finally starts to drift off. Then I just stare at her, taking in every part of her face, the way her hair falls, her breathing. Now as she lies there without the pacifier blocking part of her face, I am forced to see that she really is no longer a baby. I mean, she will always be my baby, but she really is growing up. I forced us into this with my thoughts and feelings that she needed to be out of a crib and was not supposed to have her paci anymore, and what better way to make it all happen than to tie everything together in one big event. Turning three. So we took away the beloved plug that we all didn’t really mind having around. She only was allowed to have it for sleep or when in dire need for comfort, and it had been that way since before she was two. It soothed her, gave her comfort when she was really upset, tired, or not feeling well, and the best part was how well it helped her sleep.

Did I do the right thing? I still don’t know. Here we are, just past the two week mark after losing the paci and she still seems to struggle at times, especially with falling and staying asleep. In the days since I started drafting this post, at least the sleep has improved for her, but other things have gotten worse. What concerns me is that she seems to have more of an oral fixation than I realized, regressing sometimes by putting toys or her hands in her mouth, even chewing on her nails a little. She’s looking for a way to soothe herself. Even her blankies aren’t enough….but those are only for sleep times. The paci has been her comfort through so many things in her entire short life that I can’t blame her. Maybe I should have waited longer and found a different way to say goodbye, but I can’t go back. We have made it this far and things are improving. Just a lot slower than I thought they would. I still have that last paci stashed away in her drawer, and I have fought the urge a few times to give it to her. We will fly in October for the first time without one. To be honest, just thinking about it makes me kind of nervous. She’s always been a fantastic traveler, but we also always had two pacifiers with us. I know it has always helped her with flying and that we will find another way to cope, just as we are finding ways to help her cope in her daily life. She still talks about her paci almost every day and I feel sad for her. And maybe a little guilty.

I’ll never know if I did right by making turning three, the big girl bed, and letting go of the paci a triple combo or not, but what’s done is done. She’s sad. It’s like she lost her best friend. And I am sad, too. I lost my baby. She’s growing up so very fast. And there’s nothing I can do about it.


Did you have a paci kid? What was the adjustment like? How long did it take? I would love to hear some of your experiences. Please share with me in the comment section below.

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It’s time for me to leave. We all need it.

This Friday, less than two weeks before my daughter turns three, I am going to go away for the first time. Without her.

Sugar Bee has been traveling since she was three months old, with me wherever I went. We have traveled to New York and Florida many times to visit my mom and dad in their respective states. We have been to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic on our first family vacation with her Russian side of the family. We have driven to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Phenix City, Alabama, and Panama City, Florida. She has been on more airplanes than some of my adult friends. We have always been together.

In the first 14 or so months of life, this was because I was breastfeeding. Pumping never worked for me, so there was little chance of a separation then. And to be honest, I never wanted to leave her. I was truly cherishing every moment, even the colic, the allergy issues, the early onset of her seriously fiery personality, and I had no desire to miss a beat. I am fortunate enough to have my career and work from home, making traveling places easier since I can work from anywhere. I haven’t had a traditional office in years and the thought of ever having one again makes me physically ill. It would be nice, I suppose, to get to leave the house and all the stresses associated with it behind for a few hours (out of sight, out of mind) and then be able to leave work behind to come back and focus on home life. Being able to still have my career while raising my daughter for the past three years has given me so much satisfaction and a healthy sense of pride, and I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be able to have it both ways. But I need a break in the worst way. And the time is now.

When Sugar Bee entered our lives in 2011, my husband was still in the Army Reserves and working full-time. He would leave for his weekend every month, getting his break from this new, crazy life we now had. (We joked about how he was going off to “camp.”) Then he started back at school to finish up his degree, going to school at night after working all day. He would have his 2-3 week leave each spring for his regular spring Army commitment, and then it would be just the girl and I for more than just a long weekend. He has gone to visit his parents in Russia at least 4 times for 2-3 weeks at a time, including long layovers in places like Rome, Paris, and the Netherlands where he had time to explore those cities. (It’s important for him to visit his family, and he works hard and deserves these breaks.) When his time with the Army was fulfilled and he was released in September of 2012, he really ramped up his course load. For the past year and a half, there have been semesters where he says goodnight to our daughter on Sunday night and doesn’t see her again until Friday after work. (Let’s not even address how this has changed our marital relationship because we never see each other.) All week long, it is all me. All mama, all the time. And I love it, but I’m tired. No, exhausted. I don’t even think that word is enough sometimes.

I feel like I have been a single parent for a lot of her life, and I want to send a huge shout out to all the single parents out there. You are amazing and have my utmost respect for everything you maintain, and for doing and giving your best every day for the little ones. For all my complaining, at least there is someone around on the weekend so I can go to the store by myself, go to church, take the dog for a walk, or work in the yard. I do take her to a preschool four mornings a week (three days for camp this summer) from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. to give me time to focus on work. She (thankfully) takes a nap for 2-3 hours when she comes home so I can get a few more hours of work done, but after she gets up, the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening is shot. After I finally get her to bed, I’m back at my computer to do more work, often until 11 p.m. or later. It makes for very long days and I’m pooped.

So when my good friend was over one night a few weeks ago, we were chatting about all sorts of things (as wine can sometimes make happen) and she mentioned her bachelorette weekend was coming up and that I should come along. I have never been to Charleston and I really enjoy this group of girls. Friday through Sunday? That’s only two nights….SURELY they can survive without me. I immediately started to get excited. I wasn’t even sure how it could happen as my husband would have to take a vacation day, but I decided that I was going to give it a try.

The next day, the Russian and I were instant messaging through our chat system at work (we both work for the same company), so I asked, “Can you take a look at the calendar and see if it might be possible for you to get the 25th of July off?” His response was, “I already have that day off. And the 24th.” I immediately asked him why, figuring he had taken the days off to go get together with his Army buddies for their summer boys weekend (forgot to add that one to his list of breaks that he’s had), and started to feel bummed. When he explained that he already had those days off because he has to work the weekend before (which happens every other month or so), I was cautiously excited again. Is it possible that the stars had aligned to make this a real possibility? Am I actually going to get some time away to just be me and relax with some girlfriends? Of course he immediately asked me why I was asking. “Well, Tina’s bachelorette weekend away is that weekend, Friday through Sunday” I wrote. It was followed by an immediate response back, “GO!”

This was quite possibly one of the nicest gestures from the Russian ever. I have never asked to have time away, to leave my family and my responsibilities as mother, wife, maid, cook, dog caregiver, and my job, but for the past 10 months or so, I have talked about how I felt that I was really needing a break. That we all need me to go somewhere, to recharge for a few days. It never mattered where to or for how long, and now this was the perfect occasion. He has always supported me going somewhere, and for a long time, I really thought I needed to go alone. In fact, I had started talking to people that I know around the country to see who I could stay with for free to get some time away. I have lots of miles for someone that doesn’t travel for work and can fly anywhere, but I didn’t want to blow up the budget (I’m the accountant) to do something for myself. Why do I/we as mothers feel guilt for that? Why have I felt guilty sometimes going to get a pedicure? That is ludicrous. He’s never felt guilty leaving or buying a new gadget, so why do I allow it within myself? For all that I do on a daily basis, I should be able to give myself a little luxury, a small treat, yet I often find my brain wandering while I’m relaxing, thinking about bills or some expense that is coming up in the future, a meeting I need to prepare for, something to do for Sugar Bee’s school, a vet appointment…the list is endless. Guilty is the wrong word, but I don’t know what else to call it.

Two weeks later, the post When It’s Mom’s Time to Leave, came out. Holy crap there were so many things that resonated with me, even to the point of a few tears. This was possibly one of the best ones I’ve read this year. I love when I read something that makes me feel a little less crazy, or mean, or guilty, or alone in this whole mom thing.

“It has become all too common for moms to carry the entire burden of child-rearing, all while not inserting a single need of their own. But it doesn’t serve our children, it doesn’t serve our families and it breeds resentment to play the martyr all the time.”

There are some things that are just part of my personality. I’m a nurturer. I take care of people and always have. My friends are treated as my family. I’m terrible at asking for help, but I have definitely gotten better at it since having a kid. I suck at taking care of myself; the emotional self. I’m fine with the physical one as I put my health and body in my list of important things, but I don’t take any other time for me aside from my time at the gym. I allow myself that, but very little else.

There was another thing she was right on about. No one can tell you when it’s the right time because there is no answer. I’m sure some of you reading this have never left your kids. My mom tells me all the time how back then, “taking a break” was never a thought to her. She’s right. I don’t ever remember a bunch of moms going off on girl trips together, leaving their young kids behind. I remember when my parents had an opportunity for her to join my dad on a business trip to Japan and China. She was so worried, even though both of our grandmothers were staying with my sister and I. Of course, I ended up getting really sick while they were gone, but I’m sure that won’t happen this weekend. Right?

As Kiri Westby writes in her post about her mom, “…her generation of moms were fighting just to be allowed to work outside the home, while my generation of moms are expected to work outside the home, raise amazing kids and still look good in a little black dress come date night… thus, most of us feel like we’re failing.”

My mom went back to work when I was ten and my sister entered high school because she wanted to and she felt we were old enough. Times were different then. Today, most of us need two incomes to just survive, let alone have extra left at the end of the month. The internet and social media has given us a ton of places to compare ourselves and our lives with others that may seem to be doing it right or better than us. We are all different, not better or worse. None of us really knows what we are doing and if someone says that they do, they are full of it and probably have less of a clue than I do.

She also mentions in the article about how her husband wants his daughter to know he can be there for her and take care of her. That goes along with why I say, “We all need it.” The Russian and Sugar Bee need me to go away, too. I want her to know he’s always there for her, especially now that he’s absent so often between work and school. I want them to bond, to do things together without me around. I want them to do something different and new while I’m gone. I’m always taking her to places for the first time or am at least part of it, and maybe he will take advantage and do something new with her himself. Or maybe not. It’s not my problem to worry about, I just want them to be together and have time without the distraction of mama. She should know and trust that he can do what mama does, for the most part.

Once I had been given the day off from the flight school where I work part-time on Saturdays, it was real. The Russian didn’t have to worry about work, I had Saturday off, and I was actually going to go away. Without my kid. Eeek! The next thing I knew, I found myself almost bragging about leaving. Anytime someone asked me what was new, that was the first thing that came to mind. “I’m taking my first trip away from my family!” I have some friends that have left their kids behind for girls’ weekends and trips away with their spouses several times, even when there’s a little-little one around. It doesn’t make them cooler than me or make me better than them. I’m happy for them that they have had the opportunity and the ability to take the time for themselves. I think it’s great. And I’m thrilled that I am finally ready and actually doing it. As I said, we are all different.

My daughter has stayed overnight at Gigi and Jack’s a few times through the years. They are close friends, more like family to us than friends, and we refer to them as our Georgia family. But one night with her a mile away when I’m picking her up around 9 o’clock the next morning isn’t the same thing. This is going to be a whole new experience for me. I’m sure they will both be fine and I know that I deserve (and need) to do this for myself. Considering how much of my daily life is spent thinking about and tending to my family’s needs and the demands of my job, of course I’m excited about the prospect of getting away and focusing on myself and this ridiculously fun weekend that lies ahead. But I’m also nervous, anxious, worried, and feeling a little guilty. (There’s that damn word again.)

Three consecutive days of being Shannon again. I’m sure I will miss her terribly and wonder if she’s eating enough, sleeping well, or missing me. But maybe not as often as I’m imagining right now. I will have to write about it when I get back.

Of course, the next thing is to plan time away alone with the Russian. That will be the next big thing.


I stumbled upon a few more great reads on the subject of the importance of us moms having a break before writing this post. Here they are:

10 Reasons Every Mom Should Leave Her Kids for the Weekend

Going away–without the kids? Feeling guilty or worried? Read this.

Mom’s Weekend Pass: Two Nights Away to Recharge Your Batteries

When was your first time leaving your kid(s)? How long were you gone? How did it go?