Tara Kennedy-Kline
I was NOT a very "tiny" pregnant woman...I'm talking rest the plate on your belly to eat (standing up) kind of big. People had a lot of fun with it, except for my husband who thought it was ridiculous, and I rather enjoyed that time myself. It was truly a ton of fun having the attention and service of everyone who crossed your path. People would literally go out of their way to help me while I was growing my kids INSIDE my body; and I guess you could say that was where the delusion of "The Village" of parents began for me.
Chris and I looked very young for our age back then ( I swear, once you have kids, you begin to age in dog years) So when we would take our babies out in public, many times we would get the "angry eyes" stares, the all too common "tisk, tisk, tisk" as we pushed our baby stroller through the mall. Occasionally we would even hear groups of people (mostly women) express their inappropriate judgments out loud for all to hear. "Babies having babies! That's the problem with the world today! And OUR taxes are paying for it!" Keep in mind...I was 28! Certainly no baby!
What made it even harder for me was the obvious lack of support due to my assumed age. Heaven forbid I would leave my baby cry for 2 minutes while I looked for a place to sit down and feed him while pushing a stroller, searching a diaper bag for a blanket and juggling the bags of stuff I had bought. And don't even THINK about asking someone for help! One woman literally told me "You should have realized how hard this would be before you got knocked up!"
And that's where I began to realize, The Village doesn't exist anymore.
Still, my dream of support and a "sisterhood of mothers' wouldn't die completely, yet. It continued throughout my boy’s toddler and preschool years. I would join mom's clubs only to find that "play date" would have been more appropriately titled "bitch session" and trips to the playground were more like WWF competitions where everyone was picking on each other and fighting for control over the sandbox...and I'm not talking about the kids!
I guess I had an unrealistic vision of what this was all supposed to look like...I believed that things were like they used to be when I was little. If my mom had to use the restroom, or change a siblings diaper, or wash sand out of someone's eyes...the other mothers were right there to lend a hand. They would just step in and take over...it was seamless and it was acceptable...and it worked! So when did everyone become so against it?
Once my boys reached school age, I thought things would have to get better, right? If nothing else, there's always school spirit and a sense of community within a school district. At least that's how it was on TV and in the movies...so I just felt it THAT is where I would find my Village.
So I joined the PTA! That's where the REAL motherhood congregates...in my dreams we would plan dances and book sales, we would have Sunday brunches where we would plan field trips and count box tops. We would offer each other unconditional support and advice and it would be everything I dreamed of through those lonely pre-school years. Yeah.....no. Enough said.
That was the last straw...My dreams were officially dashed. I decided then and there that someone had nuked any villages that existed when I was a kid and there was no chance of rebuilding because the foundation was destroyed. So I holed myself up in my own little world and became "cordial mom". You know who I am. I'm the one who will do what you need me to do if it makes things better for the kids, I spend the whole time interacting with the kids...and then I go home.
It's not that I'm being rude; I just don't have time for anything else. I don't have time for girl chat at the playground because I'm too busy driving to stuff since no one car pools anymore. I don't have time to stay and help clean up after the assembly because I have to be home for my kindergartener to get off the bus because there are no block parents anymore. I won't be coming to your moms club meetings because I'm too tired of chasing my kids around making sure they don't do anything "wrong" and I have better things to do than judge the parenting of every other mom who's not there.
But more importantly, I'm really busy with reconstruction right now...
I've decided to rebuild The Village. I've taken a stand for the sisterhood...
So if your kid falls off his chair, and your hands are full...I'll help him up, sister.
If your baby drops his bottle and your on the phone and don't notice...oops! I'll get that for you sister.
If you need someone to sit by the pool and watch your child while you go change another one's blow-out diaper...take your time! I'm not going anywhere sister!
I'm here to offer a hand when you're struggling, suggestions without judgment when you ask and support when you need it. 'Cuz that's how sisters roll in My "Village".
Tara Kennedy-Kline
At the shock and amazement of my teen aged neighbor, I admitted it: “I did NOT own a pair of heels until I was 17 years old”. When I told her this tale of woe, all she could muster was a horrified, WHY?!

I’ll tell you why! Because MY PARENTS WOULDN’T BUY THEM FOR ME!!!!

Heels were, in my parent’s opinion, for grown women and “dancers”. And I was neither. Therefore, since I didn’t have an income or means to get to the store by myself…I was kind of relegated to my parent’s final word on my wardrobe.

I’m sure if she were alive today there would have been some additions to Mom’s list of "things decent children do not wear", things like Short Shorts with the word “Juicy” written across the bottom, g-strings, see through blouses and push up bras, jeans with holes ripped in them BEFORE you buy them (particularly if the hole allows the entire butt cheek to hang out) and pants that fall down around the ankles…

It wouldn’t have even been an issue of us seeing things in the store and Mom giving in, you know why? Because Mom had the wallet and the car and the AUTHORITY to say no!

But before you start picturing Ma Walton here, understand that my mom was no pilgrim. She was a trendy, chic, sexy, fashion conscious woman who just happened to understand the difference between adults and children, even as it related to clothing.

But the best part is, our parent’s rules and views influenced our opinions and desires as kids too…imagine that! When I was a young girl hanging out at the mall or the pool, if one of the other girls would walk in with torn off jean shorts that showed her buttcheeks, the first thing the rest of us would think was “awwww, that poor girl needs a nice new pair of shorts”. If a classmate walked up to us with a push up bra on (in our day it would have been “stuffed”) we would have pretended to sneeze and ask for a tissue and then tell her to get over herself and be natural.

I don’t understand what has happened to our world. Where have all the adults gone? We need to find them…and when we do, they could start a movement that would be so incredibly powerful that it would wipe these pedophile fashionistas and lude, crude clothing lines for kids right off the planet! They could call this concept “authority” and any adult could use it!

All we would have to do is say “I don’t approve of that item and I am not willing to spend money on it.” And that would have to be the end of it. Because chances are, a 7 year old isn’t going to go out and get a job to pay for that push up bra…and if she tried to get a job, an adult would have to hire her.

So here's my campaign: I’ll step up…I’ll lead the quest for Adult Authority! My promise to you is this: When I see a parent at the store with their crying preschoolers who is begging for a corsette, or whining tweenager who is having a tantrum over "juicy" daisy dukes, I’ll be the whisper in your ear that says "you can beat this! You are the ADULT...don't give in." I'll even give you a tissue and a pat on the back.

If we use our power of authority for the good of our children, we can all sleep well knowing that justice has been served and one more little girl has been saved from the evils of the uberwedgie and the burdon of an underwire and our boys can finally say NO to butt crack!
Siobhan Shaw
Here's a link to my personal blog where I share how I'm living outside my comfort zone and changing my self, my life and my appreciation for others. http://siobhanshaw.com
Tara Kennedy-Kline
It’s one of those Mondays…about an hour into the new work week and already I have had to reschedule a meeting, cancel an order, find a new trucking company, I’ve lost my temper (twice), and spilled my coffee…

As mop off my desk on the verge of tears, I decide that this day is shot and my only option is to go back to bed, sleep off my funk, and hopefully wake up on the “right side” when I start over.

I begin to daydream of burying myself under the covers when I hear my 10 year old son having a meltdown in the other room, so I go to investigate.

Of course, what I find is the typical end of summer scene for moms of siblings all over the planet…my oldest has been teasing his little brother with everything from the TV remote to the kitten, his breakfast and apparently, underwear! I walk in to the chaos with the grace of an angry bull and send each of them to their own corners where I can interrogate them separately in order to ascertain the “truth” of what happened.

Max (the oldest) is of course completely innocent based on the mere fact that he is older and was doing whatever he thought was best for his younger brother…and I should appreciate his desire to “help me” while I was having a bad morning.

Alex (My aspie) is totally out of control, but completely logical as he throws the remote in the direction of Max’s head while telling his brother “it makes me angry when you change the channel and touch my food!”

Hmm, both have valid arguments, where to start?

Violence gets the attention first so I ask Max to leave because he is the catalyst at the moment.

In typical family situations, once the irritant has been removed, the chaos usually resolves itself…but if you’ve ever spent time with an Aspergian, you know that “typical” is not all that common and de-escalation can take a Really. Long. Time… Too often when our children get out of control, our first reaction is to scold them or chastise them for their bad behavior but for kids like Alex, that reprimand is just one more reminder of their difficulty to “be normal” which typically results in an even bigger, angrier reaction.

Too often when our children get out of control, our first reaction is to scold them or chastise them for their bad behavior but for kids like Alex, that reprimand is just one more reminder of their difficulty to “be normal” which typically results in an even bigger, angrier reaction.

Thankfully our family has been through some amazing trainings and have learned some useful techniques along the way; one of them being this really cool process called “errorless compliance”. The process involves praising him for doing what we ask, even if the request is as simple as asking him to put his head on the floor as he is actively lying down, or asking him to punch as hard as he can while he is actively hitting the couch.

By changing his focus and letting him realize success, we help him to understand that when he is calm and he is following directions, he is in control and things more easily flow in the direction he would be happy with.

We use this process when Alex is so escalated that we can’t even get him to see straight, not to mention listen to us, and we need to help him relax so we can communicate.
I know it sounds a bit silly…but when a child like Alex is completely overwhelmed and at the height of frustration, the most calming thing we can do for him is to inundate him with success.

Once Alex and I had worked through his frustration, I came back to my office and noticed my desk was still covered with cold coffee. With a fresh perspective, I finished mopping my desk. I then sat down and in the spirit of “errorless compliance” I made a new to-do list for my day.

1. Break up Kid fight
2. Spend 20 minutes with Alex
3. Clean desk
4. Make to-do list for the day
5. Spend 20 minutes with Max
6. Make coffee
7. Write blog…

WOW! 5 things checked off my list already! This is going to be an amazingly successful day! And I didn’t even have to go back to bed…

So the lesson my kids taught me today is this: The next time you are feeling stressed, frustrated, defeated or just plain sucky…give yourself a well deserved do over. Make a new to-do list, and on the first five tasks, be sure failure is NOT an option.
Siobhan Shaw
Today I read a blog where the person writing blamed others for not paying attention to her son. I responded - "Please consider taking all that love you have for Hayden and spreading it outward to all those whom you come in contact with. Spread it like peanut butter – thick!

When you spread discontent with people and who they are you will find it becomes exaggerated, and more and more common in your life. Every where you look you will find people ignoring you, giving more love to others, paying more attention to others but know that this is the way it is. It is what you are giving attention to. It sours everything you do. It becomes like a bad taste in your mouth. You have to look inward and ask why it bothers you. That is a process and not one you may or should find the answer to right away but the answer is in you and not the result of anyone else’s actions.

All you can do to shift things to something resembling what you feel and think life should be like, is to accept people are doing what they do. No more, no less. They do what they do. By focusing on something someone is doing or not doing it highlights it only to you. Only you feel the hurt and that hurt is self-inflicted.

For you, for me, for each person in this world, life is what we make it. No more, no less. We cannot expect others to do what we expect them to. We must love what they do as that is what they do. Spreading love is like spreading peanut butter on two slices of bread. It makes the two sides stick together and it’s tough to pull them apart. So go make a life sandwich and enjoy the great taste it leaves in your mouth."
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