Say No to Pregnancy Worries

pregnant women smells rose“Have you ever had Placenta Previa?” This is how the text message from my sister-in-law read. She’s a first-time expectant mother, so this is all new territory for her.

We exchanged a few texts—back and forth—and, naturally, the most important tidbit tossed about was to remain calm and not worry.

But, let’s be honest. That’s easier said than done. We’re talking about the health and wellness of an unborn child…it’s natural to feel anxious. During pregnancy, there are so many new things to consider and an enormous amount of new information to take in.

After ending the chat, I reflected on my own pregnancy and past, new-mom fears. Some of my own concerns were completely baseless, while a few were rooted in fact. But whether I was all worked up over silly speculations of what could be or legitimately concerned over actual diagnostic findings, one thing was evident: Stressing wasn’t going to change or improve any outcome. Continue reading “Say No to Pregnancy Worries” »

Extra Time for the Little Things

Being sandwiched in between two sets of twins cannot be the easiest thing for a first-grader. With two 8-year-old boys ahead of him and two 4-year-old girls bringing up the rear, my 6-year-old Thomas is always looking for that moment to shine in my eyes or just curl up in my arms and enjoy one of our “snuggle bug” moments, which, unfortunately, are now far and few in between. Thomas has always been a love bug—tender-hearted, compassionate and easy-going. With an amazing imagination, he has chosen his creative mind as his personal playground and has mastered the art of self-play.

Thomas with his napkin envelope, thanking me for the little things.

Thomas with his napkin envelope, thanking me for the little things.

Large families have amazing benefits and rewards. A home with several siblings fosters positive behaviors like sharing, teamwork, empathy, good citizenship, loyalty, responsibility and patience. Not to mention, there’s never a dull moment, always someone to play with and tons of laughter. However; being number six out of eight kids, like Thomas is, can also be challenging, especially when you’re trying to express your own individuality or just get a little extra love from mom.

However, there’s one thing I’ve noticed. Whether you have one child, eight or eighteen, the common consensus amongst most moms is we all wish we had a little extra time to spend with our kids.

Fall is a busy time of year for mothers. School begins; rigorous schedules need adjusting and tweaking; holidays must be planned; homework needs to be done; after-school sports kick into high gear; career and household obligations need to be met; the list could go on.

Always in a hurry, we become a part of the rat race, our eyes intently fixed on the clock. This is when it’s easiest to overlook the little things.

Extra Gum recently released a commercial depicting a father who makes origami birds from gum wrappers and gifts them to his daughter during various moments throughout her childhood. These little gifts make a huge impact on the daughter, and over the years, she saves them all.

A small gesture of love from a parent to a child can mean so much. But, sometimes, those small gestures can come from a child to a parent. After every meal, Thomas would carefully fold his napkin into the shape of an envelope, walk up to me and say, “Special Delivery!” He was my mail boy, and it was his way of thanking me…showing me love and appreciation.

While we parents are struggling to Keep Up with the Crazy and are becoming slaves to the hustle and bustle of life, our kids are just looking for a few extra little things. They’re still hoping we’ll snuggle on the couch for old time’s sake, go bike riding or spend time baking cookies in the kitchen. Each time we do, we gift them with special memories–memories that become their own origami birds. In return, they thank us…with napkin envelopes filled with invisible letters of love.

Helping Your Child Cope with the Loss of a Pet

In the September 2012 issue of Lowcountry Parent, I shared my daughter’s desire for a furry friend, as well as factors to consider before adding a pet to the family. Lauryn’s dream pets were a horse, a hamster and a pig. With the size of our family, a horse and a pig, clearly, were not options; however, a hamster wasn’t completely off the table.

Lauryn quickly went to work researching hamster care and sharpening her skills of persuasion. After several months of internet searches, trips to the school’s library and random hamster trivia quizzes, Lauryn’s wish for a cute, cuddly friend was granted. On Christmas Day, “Bella” became an official member of our family and we fell head-over-heels in love. Unfortunately, our joyous feelings were short-lived as our sweet Bella fell ill and died after only a few short months.

Lauryn Gadson and her late hamster, Bella.

Lauryn Gadson and her late hamster, Bella.

Our family followed all of the professional recommendations, but what we did not do was prepare for the possibility of unexpected death. Most families don’t. I found myself surrounded by tearful faces with no explanation to provide.

      So what’s a parent to do? How do we help our children cope with the loss of a family pet? According to renowned veterinarian and veterinary behavior specialist Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, most children can soon recover from the loss of pet if parents follow 3 steps.

1.      Be honest.

“It is easier for children to recover from their grief for a lost pet if they are told the truth,” says Schwartz. Parents often underestimate a child’s ability to handle the concept of death. As a result, they use terms such as “put to sleep” which can cause a child to fear bedtime. Taking time to explain death as a natural part of life will help your child accept and mend.

2.      Provide comfort.

Schwartz says, “Your goal should be to acknowledge their pain, support their grief and validate every emotion.” A great deal of crying took place in my home after Bella died. Our job as parents is to be there for our children and encourage them to share their thoughts and emotions.

3.      Facilitate a goodbye.

“Most child psychologists agree that children should be allowed the chance to say goodbye,” says Schwartz. Our goodbye took place the next morning. In the misty rain, we all gathered for Bella’s funeral. We placed her body in a tiny cardboard box, buried it and planted a pink Gerbera daisy on top.

      We haven’t added a new hamster to our family, yet. Lauryn is just not ready. But when she is, and I’m sure that will be soon, we’ll welcome it with open hearts…hearts that are more experienced and better prepared.

Crunch Time! Tips to Beat the Back-To-School Overwhelm

If your life has been anything remotely close to mine, then feeling overwhelmed is a sheer understatement!

The Crazy has kicked up a notch and I have found myself 5 days away from the start of the school year with 8 kids who need clothing and supplies. You read that right! I shamefully admit I have waited until the last minute! As bad as this admission may seem, I know I don’t wear this badge of shame alone. I know there are other moms out there who have done the exact same thing. I’ve seen you! Roaming through the store aisles with that list of supplies, looking frantic! So what now?

Take a deep breath, mamas! It’s crunch time! And I have the tips you need to beat the back-to-school overwhelm!back_to_school

Continue reading “Crunch Time! Tips to Beat the Back-To-School Overwhelm” »

And a New Garden Begins

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-spring-flowers-bucket-garden-tools-image28666204At the closing of each school year, Kristi Meeuwse, Apple Distinguished Educator and Drayton Hall Elementary School kindergarten teacher, bids her students and their parents a bittersweet farewell by reading “Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden” written by Edith Pattou and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

“Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden” is a touching story of a nurturing schoolteacher whose gentle methods and ways of caring for her students resemble that of an attentive grower tending her garden. By symbolically depicting the students as seeds, Pattou pulls on the heartstrings of parents and reminds us of the importance of encouraging positive growth within our children and the vital role that educators play in helping us achieve this goal.

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When the Supermom Cape is at the Cleaners

Because some days are just like this...

Because some days are just like this…

Not long ago, someone asked me why I write the mom column for Lowcountry Parent Magazine considering all that I already have on my plate. My response…Because my kids are proud of it. They read my column every month and are excited to share it with their friends. Plus, that’s one thing that I’m doing right in their eyes, and I’m not willing to let that go.

As of late, I’ve been struggling with feelings of failure. Despite the fact that I write a blog for women designed to uplift and motivate, at times I also struggle with feelings of inadequacy, and that’s normal. There are days when I feel like a flop as a mother. Days when I don’t handle situations in the best ways. Days when I make mountains out of molehills. Days when I’ve “had it up to here.” And days when they are “on my last nerve.”

Onlookers see me with my 8 children and assume I have it all together, oftentimes referring to me as a supermom. But that concept simply does not exist. We all have days when our capes are still at the cleaners. Days when the “S’s” on our chests stand for Stressed and Spent. And it’s okay.

So what’s a mom to do when she’s feeling like a failure?

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The Birth of Childhood Independence

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-girl-tying-her-shoe-image8426214July 4 is Independence Day, and coincidentally, my twin girls will celebrate their fourth birthday on July 6. The past several months have been filled with bossy phrases like, “No, I’ll do it,” and, “I can do it myself!”

When we’re rushing about and they’re taking too long, these demands for self-sufficiency are the last things I want to hear. Admittedly, I occasionally give in to my haste, robbing them of the opportunity to assert their autonomy and master an early level of confidence. But most times, it’s pleasing to my ears, because allowing them to do things on their own is empowering.

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The Behavior Battle

I love when my kids turn 5 and head off to school. Not just because they’re getting an awesome education at Drayton Hall Elementary School (DHES), the only school in South Carolina to be recognized as an Apple Distinguished School (insert shameless plug here: Go Bobcats!), but also because it gives me a break from the fighting, whining, begging, back talk … Heck, let’s just call it what it is: The Crazy!

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Giving Thanks: Even When They Don’t

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(Provided) One day, Thomas will learn that life is an ocean. It is my duty to teach him to navigate the waters, and, for that, I am thankful.

Motherhood is, undoubtedly, the hardest job EVER. I dare anyone to challenge me on that. The fact that I am a mother of eight certainly doesn’t mean I’ve got this whole mom thing on lock, quite the contrary.

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