About Me

I have something to say... But a blog let's me spew until I figure out what it is.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Life's Full of Tough Choices -- In't It...

I decided to tap into my "Ursula" from the Little Mermaid today and draw inspiration from a few of my friends who are going through some tough times as mommies.

It has almost become a cliche for mothers to say "there is nothing tougher in this world than being a mother"... but to all my non-mommy friends out there who read this blog let me just tell you - IT ISN'T some bullshit made up by some mommy friend who was having a bad day and doesn't feel appreciated. If you don't believe me, close my blog and come back when you have kids.

Carrying a baby in your belly, birthing it, and then holding yourself responsible for it for the rest of your natural life is the single hardest thing on the face of this earth. You carry and nurture the baby when its growing inside you. When its born, it is rarely soothed by anyone other than you. When they are toddlers, they will attach to you and seek your approval in everything and look for comfort from you even when you are the one correcting them or denying them something.

What we accept as our responsibility the moment we elect to carry a pregnancy to term is to put these people in our lives above ALL else. Above ourselves, our families, our friends, our jobs, our hobbies. Everything. The things you love, the passions you have, the little things that are yours and yours alone dissolve the moment you hear a heartbeat and you assume responsibility for the LIFE of another person.

YOU are responsible for their development. YOU are responsible for encouraging them to do everything from taking their first steps to learning how to swallow solid food for the first time (let me tell you, it's a bit traumatic... they don't tell you that babies will usually gag on it because - well - um - they've never done it before) to brushing their hair and dressing themselves and learning letters and numbers and ALL of the things that you take for granted as an adult. YOU are responsible for showering them with love and helping them grow as a person and backing them even when they are wrong.

You are the one teaching them to make responsible choices and how to take responsibility when they make the wrong ones. For many of us - its the FIRST time we will have truly had to think about someone else OTHER than ourselves. We will dive headfirst into baby poop, we will scoop up our little ones covered in vomit without thinking twice to comfort them. We will disregard ourselves or our well being to make life possible for them.

THIS is what you signed on for as parents when you carried your baby to term.

So let's think, for a second, about the things that you LOST as an individual. No. Seriously. You lost your body (except in my case... somehow having a baby changed the shape of my body for the better). You lost your sleep. You lost some friendships (I am sure). You lost your Independence. You lost your hobbies. You lost your favorite drinks. Etc. Etc. Etc. SERIOUSLY - think about what you have given for your kids already. THINK about the fact that you will continue to lose things for the next however-many-years until they begin their own life...


Of course it is. (And btw if your answer was "no", there is a firehouse that will gladly accept your child and happily find it parents who love it - or call me. I'll take your kid.)

So we have established the things that you gave up and determined that its "worth it" so here is my next question - Are there things in your life which are a threat to your dream/goal of raising your child/children? Are there abusive relationships? Substance abuse? Financial irresponsibilities? Sexual promiscuity?

Keeping these things in your life threatens the plan you have for your kids. Our kids deserve to enjoy their childhood. Our kids have enough to cope with growing up without their parents adding crap into the mix. Sit down and really think to yourself: "Am I providing an environment for my children which will give them the best opportunity to succeed? Am I providing an environment where they can grow and laugh and love and learn the right things about people and relationships? Or am I raising them in an environment where they learn bad habits, bad manners, abuse of ANY sort, and dysfunctional relationships?"

Did you give up your body, your passions, your hobbies, your friends, your Independence for dysfunction???? Because a few seconds ago you said that you gave it up for your kids.

This isn't about us, anymore. It's not about what's easy. It's not about what we would have done as people before we had kids. Life is hard - and our lives are now harder because we are responsible - RESPONSIBLE - for the LIFE of our children.

Here's a "proof" for you: 1. Mom's are superheros. 2. Superman is a superhero. 3. Superman is made weak by Kryptonite. 4. Superman will sooner allow himself to drown in Kryptonite than to allow Lois Lane to drown. 5. Saving Lois is a lot easier when the pool isn't loaded with Kryptonite.

That's right - I'm using a comic book reference people. Sue me. I like Superman. (Not to mention a bad mathematical reference which was executed POORLY. I nearly failed algebra and never did well in geometry so, there ya go.)

Find the Kryptonite - eradicate it - and save your kids. Parenting will never be easy - we at least owe it to ourselves (and our kids) to eliminate the things in life which make it even harder.

And to all my friends out there who are not "where they thought they'd be right now" - none of us are - we just all have our own flavors of it. To all my friends out there waiting for the situation to change - it won't. Change happens when an outside force causes the change to happen - so it's up to you to start the change.

We're all in this together - and we're in good company.

Thanks to all of you for putting up with my bad analogy. I considered taking it out but it even makes me raise my own eyebrow at myself and snicker for it's stupidity so... it stays.

Monday, January 24, 2011

If you love me and you know it clap your hands *clap clap*

Olivia stood over her activity table, carefully opening and shutting a little door. The table had a pocket in which you could put small treasures and Olivia wasted no time putting her Nuk (pacifier) into the tiny spot and closing the door. She continued to play for another 30 seconds and then revisited this door. She flicked it open, looked inside, and proceeded to get the biggest smile on her face - as if to say "OMG! THAT'S where that went!"

How much do we really watch our kids these days? I don't mean to hawk-eye them and make sure they don't fall off of something steep/narrow/high/etc. I mean the type of "watch" that is meant exclusively for observation.

Our generation of mothers fall into two schools: The Working Mother and the Stay At Home Mother (SAHM). These two classes of women have their own set of challenges. I will write a WHOLE blog entry about the Working Moms and the SAHMs at another time. For now, I want to talk about how both mothers rarely get the option or opportunity to sit and enjoy their children. There is always a list somewhere which needs to be completed and takes priority over quality time with the little one(s).

I say: Fuck the list.

Go ahead - ring my doorbell without calling first. My kitchen will be a mess, my bathroom trashes are full (but no overflowing), the vaccum will have been run inside of the last two weeks, the upstairs playroom will be in dissarray, DO NOT SET FOOT IN MY Master Bedroom (if you please)and there may be laundry still sitting in our dryer from two weeks ago. And you now what? I make NO apologies for it. If you don't like it - you either don't have kids or you aren't my friend. There is no other category. Spending time with Olivia, trying to get her to laugh, kissing her, holding her in my lap while she watches The Freshbeat Band are my BIGGEST priorities. The rest is, frankly, not.

When it's all said and done, I get a total of 5 hours with Olivia during the workweek (not including time driving to and from our daycare providers house). I will spend those five hours the way I want and I do NOT want to be cleaning.

"But Jenn - just do all that stuff after she goes to bed!"

No. She goes to bed at 7pm and now *I* two hours to catch up on "me" time AND "couple time" and I am not willing to spend those 6 hours (or so) a week doing things that don't bring me enjoyment. If you don't like it - well, "go over there".

I posted on Facebook this week that my life BEGAN when Olivia was born. I meant it. I have never been even CLOSE to this happy in my life. So, my friends, enjoy your kids. Put down the smart phone, close down the laptop/iPad, LEAVE WORK AT WORK and be in the moment with your kid as they discover the Nuk they JUST left in the hiding place less than thirty seconds ago. If your child looks up and smiles a big smile - you will miss it if your head is buried in something else and pretty soon... they won't do it anymore.

I, for one, don't want to live in a world where Olivia smiles and I am too wrapped up in something else to see it.

Ok. That made me cry just now.

So come on over and visit - but don't be afraid to step over something.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Like a [Dating] Virgin

On January 3rd, 2003, my husband and I went on our first date. After fawning over him for 2 years, you can imagine my interest in making sure that I looked good - I needed to create this aura of mystery that most definately no longer existed.

So I primped and preened in my 3-"bedroom", 1 bath apartment - carefully balancing my hair dryer, straightening iron, hair products, makeup, and cell phone in a bathroom large enough to turn around in.

I carefully styled my (then blond) hair. I meticulously applied enough make-up so as to make it "look natural". I picked out the pants that made my ass look good (I had just lost about 30 lbs) and a shirt that highlighted my (recently shrunken) waistline. Please note, here, that I did NOT say "a shirt that highlighted my breasts" - I hadn't discovered Victoria and my walmart bras never quite made the grade on flattering my above-the-waist features.

He arrived exactly on time and we whisked away to see Dr. Dirty at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, NJ.

Fancy, I know.

Nearly 8 years later, I am standing in my standing in my "Master Bathroom" - en suite to my "Master Bedroom" at a dual vanity with my hair dryer, straightening iron, hair products, make-up and cell phone shamelessly sprawled out across the counter top. I am just as carefully styling my (now brunette) hair. I am meticulously applying my make-up so as to make me look "not old". I pick out a pair of jeans that make my ass look good (I have just RE-Lost the same 30lbs for the THIRD time) and picking our a shirt that hides the muffin-top left from carrying a child in a belly that bore the weight of probably 55 of the 65lbs I gained during my pregnancy). Please note, here, that I still have NOT said "a shirt that highlights my breasts" because, even after discovering the miracles Victoria has to offer, there some things that are just lost causes.

After putting our two dogs out to relieve themselves, confirming we had our movie tickets, changing the baby, grabbing Olivia's pajamas, putting the dogs in our bedroom, locking all the doors, and a few hundred other things now required to get out the door, we headed to the baby-sitters to drop Olivia off and then make our way to Sarasota for "dinner and a movie" (Harry Potter).

I couldn't help but giggle to myself as we were driving, swiftly, down 301 toward the babysitter. I planned this movie trip TWO months ago. The last movie we SAW together as a couple (in a real movie theatre) was in June, 2009 when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released. We have lost our identity as a couple almost so completely that thee babysitter had to remind me that we had mentioned seeing Harry Potter of November 20th.

The week leading up to our date-night out you would have thought we were going to Barbados for the weekend. I spent hours trying to find the exact right restaurant in the exact right proximity to the movie theatre I had selected.

We pulled away from the sitter's nervous and anxious - excited to have finally gotten a night alone outside the four walls of our own house (in the dark people!) and worried that Olivia's first partial sleep over would be a catastrophic failure (our plan was to pick her up around 11pm, bring her home and put her straight to bed).

I am so unaccustomed to going to a movie theatre, that I put the wrong theatre into my GPS. We lost so much time back-tracking that we were forced to go to Applebee's (our least favorite restaurant) to stay on time. Josh cheerfully ordered Sam Adams Winter - on tap, if you please - only to find out they only had Sam Adams Octoberfest in a bottle ("But, Josh - we have Sam Adams Winter Lager at home in the fridge"). The service was terrible so we barely tipped (because now we are the grumpy almost thirty year-olds who expect service if we are leaving our kid home to go out and spend a TON of money to have a few hours alone).
We got to the theatre 45 minutes early to be told we had to wait in line to get into the theater until 20-minutes till - only to find out that the movie was NOT that full and we could have very easily had dinner at a better restaurant and still get great seats.

So what do two parental-parolees talk about on their first date night in over a year?

Our first jobs.

For 20 minutes we talked about our first jobs, how much they paid, how taken advantage of we were, how we thought we were "rich" from the money we earned. And then, of course, Jerry Springer walked through the lobby of the theater and I giggled uncontrollably.

I arrived at the sitter's house excited to catch a glimpse of my sleeping daughter... I don't often indulge in watching her sleep due to the risk of waking her up. She was quietly dreaming and twitching and laying there as if to say: "Mom - you can totally do this more often".

I scooped her up in my arms, she hugged me as her head lay listlessly on my shoulder, and we headed to the car.

The content of your date conversations after your entrance to the parent-hood may change drastically - your hips may have spread making it harder to find pants to "make your ass look great" - your makeup may now settle into the beginning formations of crow's feet - you may forget what its like to be in a car after dark, and a date night that once cost you $40 dollars may now cost closer to $85 when you take into account inflation, your newly aquired appreciation for decent food, your financial stability giving you unwritten permission to spend money on beer that is 4 times more expensive that the same beer you bought at the grocery store, and the babysitter (provided you aren't going to some greedy 16-year old capatalist trying to charge you $10 per hour - if you are in such a situation, you have easily wracked up a $120 evening... This was a 6 hour night!)... but unlike the successful dates of your youth, there is now nothing better in this world than getting home, squeezing your son or daughter while they drift in and out of slumber, and the crawling into the bed you bought together, snuggling in the sheets you picked out yourself and taking that final deep breath into your nostrils before you slip into sleep yourself.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Something for nothing...

On Friday night, MSNBC aired (or re-aired, I have no idea) a special called "The Facebook Obsession". For those of you who haven't seen it, you should consider setting the DVR as its a pretty interesting piece.

The segment, of course, delves into the history of Facebook, the mid-twenty-something who founded it, and the shape of Facebook's future. I am not about to bore you with the details, but I will say that if I had managed to come up with a social network worth 15 Billion (with a "b") I would probably not do anything differently than FB has done or is doing presently.

The mini-documentary delved into the ever present issue of Facebook's security settings and the information that Facebook shares. This being the 3rd or 4th segment that I had seen on facebook since its founder was announced TIMES "Person of the Year", I will admit that I was somewhat perplexed at the amount of media attention that Facebook has been getting regarding security. Put down the tomatoes, people. Hear me out.

I thought it best (and most entertaining) if I were to pick apart the reasons why I think Facebook is AWESOME... yes "awesome". I figure that by doing this, I will best be able to establish if I feel that Facebook "deserves" the type of criticism that they are getting based on, well, how much less-awesome they are when I weight their non-awesomeness against the aspects which I consider... awesome.

1. It's fun
There is a lot to be said for small, guilty pleasures in life. Speaking as someone who has taken life entirely too seriously for WAY too long, I flat out just ENJOY Facebook. I enjoy seeing people. I enjoy congratulating people on good news. I love making status update jabs at good friends. I love uploading pics of my daughter to family and friends who are curious about her latest shenanigans.

It's fun.

2. It can make you feel like you are awesome-er than you are and build your self confidence
How fun is it to accept a friend request from someone in High School who never liked you? Yes - I realize that there is a large population of people out there who have refused to accept friend requests from former HS colleagues on principle and to you I say "here here!". Good for you! I am, admittedly, morbidly curious to find out how people are doing these days and to be honest, I have been grateful that I have accepted those requests for a number of reasons.

On the shallow side of the spectrum we have the "where are they now" factor where I get to see what exactly became of the losers whose sole mission was to make the lives of others miserable... entertainment for you back then is entertainment for ME now. End shallowness.

On the philosophical and much more Jenn-like end of the spectrum is the opportunity to get to know and network with people who have VERY much matured since HS. Let's face it - we are closer to thirty than we are to twenty these days and if you are still acting like the oh-so-responsible teenager you were in 1999 then you have big issues, my friend. One of the greatest examples of "bullies turned friend" is a girl I went to HS with named Jodie who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale area and works as a (very talented) hair dresser. She and I both happened to move to Florida and while we haven't hung out, when my brother died she offered to meet up, talk, whatever. She has invited me to places where she is going to be all in the interest of being supportive - despite the fact that she and I did NOT get along in middle/high school. So, during the darkest point in my life, a person who made my life dark is one of the lights - pretty awesome to me.

3. You'll never roam alone
How can you quickly get in touch with and notify an entire POPULATION of people when something seriously catastrophic happens to your family? Facebook. When George died, I couldn't stop saying "thank God for Facebook" - there were so many people that were close with or friends with George that I a) never knew or b) did not stay in touch with because they were his friends and not mine. How would I EVER get in touch with all of them and let them know what was going on? Simple - go to his Facebook page and message his friends. Within hours, his entire sphere of life had been notified.

But its more than that! Need to sell something? Post it on Facebook. Need a pediatrician? Ask for recommendations on Facebook. Not sure how to do something/where to find something/what to do this weekend? Post in on Facebook. It's called Social Networking and it's the single MOST effective way to get/find anything and everything you could possibly need or want. More jobs are obtained through networking than any other method of searching so you have a pretty powerful resource right at your fingertips.

4. It's free
There is little in life that is. I can post hundreds of pictures and not pay for server space. I can update hundreds of friends that we are moving/pregnant/looking for a job (WHATEVER!) and not pay for a single text message. I can get in touch and STAY in touch with my family while living in FLORIDA (1,300 miles away) without buying a plane ticket.

5. It's simple
No offense to my father intended (because I know he faithfully reads my blog) but a man that couldn't work an iPod 3 years ago has a facebook page and knows to how to use it. The same guy who was proud of himself for knowing how to turn on the computers at work and find a stock he needed to look at has a facebook page, a number of friends, and regularly writes wall posts.

So - with all of these things in mind, let me see if I understand this correctly:
We have a resource made available to us, for free, that let's us stay in CLOSE communication with the people we love and care about. A resource that allows us the opportunity to network for jobs, housewares, health care, clothes, parenting advice, weekend plans, etc. at no charge. A place where we can quickly communicate major life changes with very little effort and maximum impact/benefit at no charge to us. A site that is so simple our parents and grandparents can open it and view information about each other. Facebook brings people together. Facebook enables us all to stay connected. FOR FREE. It provides us with the single most valuable resource in life - PEOPLE. NETWORKING. CONNECTIVITY TO EACH OTHER - for free.

But we don't want them to share basic demographic information with advertisers. DEMOGRAPHICS, people. The same information that is used when you apply for anything. THE most basic things. Age, city, and sex. So, here is this company who has completely changed our lives (for the better) who gives us this incredible resource for free but when it comes to allowing their advertisers (aka "how they keep the lights on and the programmers programming") with information which would enable them to most effectively market their wares (read: "Market to the most targeted population as cheaply as possible), we have a problem with it? Wait - you mean a company that sells women's jeans is MORE interested in marketing directly to ME - a 30 year old female in Tampa, Florida as opposed to spending their marking dollars on my 55 year old father in Pennsylvania? Noooooooooooo! SHENANIGANS!!!!! BLASPHEMY!

All kidding aside, now - let's have a "Jenn moment" where I seriously discuss the personal accountability issues.

YES, I understand that Facebook occasionally "defaults" our security preferences. It's my responsibility as a user to make sure, from time to time, that they are set where I expected them to be. Personally - I have never had a problem (so far).

With that said, there are many who have complained that Facebook has too much information (the same argument has been made of Google) and that they are doing too much to track our information... ok......... how do they get that kind of information? They get it through our site clicks - mostly when we "like" things on facebook and non-facebook pages. These clicks are then entered into their incredibly large database where they say "you liked this so you would be interested in this kind of advertising". The solution? Don't click. I don't click on anything facebook related except "share this blog".

You don't want to facebook to use your information - look at the way you use facebook. All those apps and games and Farmvilles - READ the request that Facebook is making - it's asking to tap into your information even when you aren't using the application. What do you think its DOING? Leaving you love messages on your bathroom mirror? NO! When you want to find your first facebook status it tells you that its going to basically read EVERYTHING about your profile and asks for your permission to continue. You just HAVE to know what your first facebook status of all time was so you click it, say "SURE APP COMPANY WHO I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT!! Have at my stuff! I MUST know what my first facebook status was!" *click click*... oh nooooooooooooo wait... it didn't work! It's spam!" Now, all you have done is given some app company you know nothing about and even less about how they are going to USE the information that you just allowed them access to and you didn't even get the satisfaction of knowing you status update from 6 years ago!

Stop the gluttony and resist the temptation and you will limit your exposure to Pandora's Box.

Until you take a serious look at how you use Facebook and make adjustments, you have aboslutely zero right to complain. For me - until I hear someone say "Facebook gave my phone number to advertisers", I will continue happily using it. (I have had my cell loaded on FB for 6 years and have never gotten a single sales call on my cell).

Before I go, let me say that my "Personal accountability" position continues into the uploading of photos and posting of status', but more on that in a future blog.

Until then - be responsible, stay connected, and enjoy a free benefit. And hey - go poke someone. Everyone needs to poke and be poked.

Monday, January 3, 2011

"But Mommy - I want to play with the iPad"

So a big thank you to my HS friend, Deanna, who came up with this week's blog topic: Children and Technology.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not about to launch into a full on medical summary as to how technology affects our children's brain chemistry. There are many (medical)studies out there that can cover this topic for you and help you, as a parent or potential parent, determine what content in what quantity is right for you and your family. I can tell you that in my house, it is rare for a tv to be off, but Josh and I are very specific about the content. For instance - we will watch Nick Jr. quite a lot, but I won't let Olivia watch "Wow Wow Wubzee" (I think its mindless and never has a moral, lesson, or educational application despite what the show's intro says). I also don't like for her to watch The Wiggles (there is something about forty year-old men living together and doing a kids show... it creeps me out hardcore)...

But let's be somewhat realistic here: speaking as a parent whose daughter goes to daycare - and more specifically to someone else's house during the day - Its not realistic to expect that Olivia will never watch or see anything I don't want her to. Moreover, I am a big believer that without exposing her to all things in life, and being there to teach her what's good and what's bad, she stands less of a chance to make the right, educated, decisions when she older. If I withhold something from her, I am, by proxy, not giving her the tools that she will need to make smart decisions when I am not with her.

And of course, let's not forget the whole philosophy going into teenager-hood of "I was never allowed so I am going to sneak it".... scary.

With all that said, we live in a very technological age - much more so since we were children 25-30 years ago. By the time a child enters in kindergarten, it is not uncommon that they will know how to turn on a television using the remote control, find the channel that they want to watch, etc. They will know how to turn a computer on properly, find the program they want to open, start their application and properly shut the computer down safely. They will know how an iPhone or iPad work all before they can write their own name in crayon!

So, here we are - the new generation of parent - required to figure out the balance between technological evolution and responsible parenting.

Olivia, at 20 months old, is already very interested in anything with a touch screen: My phone, my iPad, our iPods. Working in an organization where the spectrum of technilogical prowess is quite vast, I can say that I would like to see my daughter raised with an interest, understanding, and aptitude for technical things. There is no stopping the speeding train of technology - that is without question.

The approach that Josh and I have taken (and I will be honest here, we have opposing views on to some extent) is to provide Olivia with limited options and structured opportunities to play with these gadgets. For example, I have downloaded an art program to my iPad which Olivia can play with and explore only when she is in my lap. If she picks up the iPad without our permission, she is corrected. If she tries to touch our iPad while we are working on it, she is corrected. But when she is invited to come sit with us and explore it... that's different.

At 20 months, I think that this is sufficient for her little mind - it holds her interest for about 15 or so and then she has moved on to other toys in the room.

Josh, on the other hand, thinks that we are setting ourselves up for her wanting to play with the iPad or other tech toys and to some extent he is correct. With that said, the hottest toy for pre-school aged children this year was a hand-held learning system known to parents as the "iPad for children" - with robust applications for kids to learn and interact with. The reality is, in my opinion only (of course) is that you cannot stop your kids from being interested in these things. Its where our society is these days and they are a natural part of his or her environment.

When we were children the cable box was brand new. George and I would fight over who got to punch the buttons.

When we were children cabbage patch was like nothing ever seen before and every little girl had to have one.

When we were kids ATARI and Nintendo came out and we couldn't get enough of it. The control offered a joystick and two buttons ("A" and "B") - these days I can't even play a video game becuase there are too many controls.

When we were kids you could smoke on airplanes and in malls and restaurants in every state in the country.

When Olivia is a little bit older you better believe that these tech gadgets will come with limits attached to them. There will be no mindless hours of internet surfing or texting or game-playing. iPads, iPods, computers, laptops, cell phones, etc remain the property of Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Boyle - NOT Olivia Shea Boyle. Computers will be kept in public areas of the house. She will not have her own phone line. She will not have her own cell phone (I know, I'm extreme - and "No"... not even if she begs really hard and every single one of her friends has one). She will not have a tv in her bedroom.

As I have said in previous posts, it is our responsibility to parent our kids. YES the TV makes a great babysitter and YES the iPad/Pod/Phone offers hours of quiet entertainment for the kid/teen to enjoy so mommy and daddy can enjoy some peace and quite - but it's lazy parenting. Yes, it easier - but all things worth doing are hard. Don't bitch about the teenager who won't listen to you when the last time you spoke to your kid was 10 years ago when the downloaded Angry Birds.

When I was a kid I spent HOURS singing in my room. I spent HOURS drawing. I spent HOURS inventing things in my head. I spent HOURS outside. I spent HOURS playing with friends. It is our responsibility to give our kids the exposure that they need to be successful in all things and I am a strong believer that technology and adaptability to new technology is an absolute must in order for our kids to grow with the world around them... but it is also our responsibility to know what they are looking at, know what they are watching, and know who they are talking to. How can you do any of that, effectively, if you give them carte blanche in the interest of not "singling them out from their friends".

Let the other parents be lazy parents. Let the other parents raise kids with a sense of entitlement to $500 computer equipment. Let the other parents raise kids with no respect for boundaries. Let the other parents raise kids who text through dinner. Let the other parents raise kids who would rather be online or gaming than spending time with their family or learning how to communicate with peers and other adults face-to-face. Let the other parents let their kids be raised by cop shows and crime dramas, the Simpsons, Gossip Girls, the cast of South Park or Family Guy, etc.

Do your job. Save yourself the heartache when you kid is old enough to expect things and mold their expectations now. Teach them responsibility. Teach them that you are looking out for their best interest - you DO know better. Teach them that you love them SO MUCH that you are going to give them the exposure they need to know how to keep up, but that you aren't going to let them raise themselves. Teach them that YOU are the one who sets the limits and boundaries. Teach them that the new (expensive) equipment that they are using is NOT theirs - its yours - and possession of that property is a privledge and responsiblity, not a right.

It's a lot of work - but we had kids. We made an 18 year commitment to ONE thing. We were nuts... but that's not our kids' fault and they shouldn't get the brunt of it because we underestimated how long (and how intense) the commitment that we made to them was.