Not long ago, here was a typical afternoon scenario with my needy toddler:

Me in the kitchen, cleaning up after a meal (…or four hours… ok, an entire day after a meal), washing dishes and the like. My son calls from the living room.

“Mama! Look what I made!”

I finish the dish I’m on, dry my hands on my pants as I go to look. “Oh wow, you’re playing legos. You’ve done a good job! What are you making?”

“A hotel.”

“Very nice.” I turn to go back to the kitchen, calling out one more, “Good job!” I wash a plate.

“Hey mom! Come look at my hotel now!”

I wash a couple more dishes.

“Mom! Mama! Come look! See what I did!”

I go to look. “Wow Des, you added a whole two more legos! That’s great!” Back in the kitchen.

“Mom! Come look! Look again, Mama!” Needy Toddler calls.

I ignore him, continue washing.


“Desmond! I need to finish these dishes! Play your toys and I will come when I’m done.”

Ensue tantrum.

This seemed to go on for some time, about a month preceding and following Desmond’s third birthday. Completing chores was exhausting and exasperating, took forever or didn’t even get done. I figured my son had entered this needy toddler stage because he was lonely and in need of a playmate. I ended up feeling guilty for not giving him a sibling yet, blaming myself for not planning better, not foreseeing this situation while he was still an infant, for having fertility struggles. I would just have to suck it up and fill in as his playmate as much as possible.

Getting your needy toddler to be less needyIMG_1066 (1)

But then I learned about a small change I could be making to improve my connection with my son, helping my needy toddler feel less needy of my attention and praise at all times. With the help of insights from Janet Lansbury articles, I realized that I am not a fully present parent. And being one is not as daunting as it may sound.

My son often plays independently best in the morning, and I’ll take some downtime sitting on the couch looking at my phone or reading a chapter from a book while he keeps busy on the floor. It turns out that these are actually the best times to give him my attention–when he isn’t even asking for it. Once I just pulled myself away from my own activity, even when it felt unnecessary (and difficult… because personal downtime can be so very needed) considering the fact that he seemed perfectly content, and sat down next to him to watch whatever entertainment he had engaged himself in, he would look at me and smile. Maybe I’m just sappy and read too much into things, but his bright inquisitive eyes seemed to say, “Mom, is what I’m doing really more interesting to you right now than what you were doing on your own?”

And then he would tell me about the trucks he was racing or the tower he was building or the passenger plane he was about to fly to go see his friend Hudson who lives two miles away. Sometimes he wants me to join in the playing with him, but more often than not he just likes having me there, watching and paying attention, finding whatever it is he’s doing to be important–without any begging or pleading on his part.

After I’ve given even just ten minutes of my undivided, unrequested attention, I tell Desmond how much I’ve loved watching him, he plays so well and has such great ideas, but now mama needs to do a few things around the house. He has never once cried or thrown a fit about this, but just continues playing and I can almost always finish my chores (within reason—usually about an hour’s worth) before he’s needing my attention or praise again.

IMG_0362 (1)IMG_1258

That is what I think it means to be a “fully present parent.” Not to be there at your child’s side every second of every day, but when you are available, be fully available. When you don’t have any other pressing matters to attend to, then take some time to make your child the only pressing matter to attend to.

I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on raising children or getting my own to behave just the way I want him to. This is one idea and strategy I’ve learned for my son and me that is helping us get through the needy toddler stage and our days go a bit more smoothly. But something I’ve learned from all the articles and books I’ve read on parenting is when they say, “Here’s a foolproof method that will work on every child!”…well, not all children are the same, and the same methods will not work on every child. But when I have a mommy tip that works for me, I’ll share it here. I’m sure you have plenty of tricks of the trade of your own that I could learn from; do feel free to divulge!

Because I firmly believe that as mothers we should be unified in making each others’ jobs as easy and judgment-free as possible, while raising our little humans to be the best grownup, future generation of humans that ever lived.


Recent sightings on social media:

“40 Printed Fashion Outfits to Make Your Friends Jealous”—Pinterest

“Hubby got me a new diamond ring, such a surprise (and it’s HUGE, hahaa)! He’s just the best! Be jealous:P”—Facebook

“Home Hacks That Will Make Your House Guests Jealous”—Pinterest

“21 Fall Porch Ideas That Will Make Your Neighbors Insanely Jealous”—Pinterest

“Third tropical vacation this year, second time with NO KIDS. Just me and my man soaking up the sun and waves. Glad I’m me because if I wasn’t…well, I’d be jealous, LOLLL.”—Facebook

Are you sensing a theme here…?

This is social media slash life as we know it. Perhaps we don’t wake up each morning with the question in our minds of how to make our friends and followers jealous today, but it is engrained in all of us, as this is the very nature of these sites and apps we use each day to keep up with our family, friends, acquaintances, and… people we’re jealous of.  We take a snippet of our lives at any time we feel like and share it with the world, so why wouldn’t we display only the best of ourselves and leave the other 85% to exist only in private?

IMG_0436  IMG_0415 IMG_1009  IMG_0328

There’s a reason why you took twenty selfies and only posted the most perfect one, and there’s a reason why you took those pics today—today you put thought into your outfit, fixed your makeup, curled your hair even; yesterday you sported sweats and an unwashed messy bun, and the day before you didn’t even get out of your jammies. And there’s a reason why you post pics of your vacation, new house, and darling happy kids on social media, but not of your daily menial tasks, fifth apartment in three years, or power struggles with your preschooler that often result in exasperation and yelling.

IMG_0432  IMG_0413  IMG_0305  IMG_0231

A couple months ago, I was laying on my bed, red-faced, and breathing deeply after a rough morning with a cranky, screaming child who woke up way too early and pointless but nonetheless infuriating arguments with my spouse. I whipped out my phone and went automatically to my trusty companion Facebook, wishing for a distraction. Among the first few posts was a wife gushing about her amazing husband who woke up with the kids so she could sleep in and relax in bed all morning; he is the most perfect man in the world, and it’s still a mystery that she ever managed to snag him. And then a husband posting a pic of his modelesque wife making a delicious breakfast with the help of their three kids, captioning how she had already worked out, showered, gotten ready for the day, cleaned the house, and it’s not even 10AM; he never shows her all the appreciation she deserves because that would basically be impossible, she stuns him with her superwoman abilities every day.

I threw my phone across the bed, clenched my teeth, and let some tears flow. While feeling most crappy, a revelatory thought came to my head: “This is one of the biggest internal conflicts or our time: social media gives (or hurls in our faces) the ability to compare ourselves with the very best of other people and then we do just that.”

I do not usually possess such insightful logic while upset, but this was exactly the perspective I needed at that time and I was grateful for it. It made me feel almost instantly better.

I feel so much worse about my problems when I think everyone else’s lives are filled only with happiness, good fortune, peace, love, harmony, and awesome hair days. On the contrary, my problems feel so much smaller, totally manageable even, when I know that they are normal, expected, a part of my peers’ lives as well. Misery loves company, right…? Yes, but even more so, people like to feel supported. Like we’re in this journey of life together, not lagging so far behind while the lucky elite look back at us with disdain and then smile because, what a great view we’re getting of them, how much we must wish we were in their perfect shoes.

I am certainly not suggesting that everyone’s social media goal is to make people jealous of them. Of course there are always those few brave wonderful souls whom you love deeply and will never unfriend or unfollow, because they consistently remind you that you’re not the only one with an imperfect 85% of life. The people who talk about their fighting kids, pimpled complexions, unglamourous jobs, challenges of marriage, and financial struggles. And there are many more people who make posts like this on occasion, and it’s a total breath of fresh air.

Notably, while the pictures and declarations of how wonderful life is make some people feel resentful, others only share the happiness of the person who posted, believing that gratitude for goodness was their intent, not inducement of jealousy. This is the kind of person I want to be and am trying to be, one who is happy at the good fortune of others and nothing else. I do not always succeed. That is my fault, something I need to change. And this is the internal conflict I suggest social media causes: we love it and we hate it; it may make us feel jealous, but we must realize that no one can control our emotions but ourselves and the way we respond to others is all on us. That jealousy will dissipate if we don’t compare ourselves to others.

And if you must compare, remember that you are seeing the best of them, so compare only with the very best of you. Look at your own FB profile and see it the way others do. Your life probably looks just as good as the people you’re feeling envious of. Now go and post something REAL. You’ll feel better about breaking at least a little of the façade, and people will love you for it and you will probably even make some of their days a little or a whole lot brighter.

This is one of the main purposes of this blog for me. To be real. I hope that you will come here and leave feeling good about yourself, not jealous of perfect me or my perfect life or perfect house or perfect style and kicking yourself for not being more perfect. Come in and get comfortable here. Take a seat on my food-stained couch in the midst of my toynado-struck living room. Kick off your shoes and show me your mismatched, worn-out socks. You can even take those off and let me see you chipped-off toe nail polish from four months ago that you just haven’t got around to removing. And then I’ll show you mine. You are welcome here any time; stay as long as you like.


(‘Cause this is me on a typical Friday night. Freshly showered, witch-face out (although effectively covering up facial blemishes), wearing the nightgown my mom gave to me because I think she said it was… too grandmotherly for her? But as you can see, I’m feeling good about it all. Proud even.)

Oh hey Blog, welcome to the World.

(And a big warm welcome to you, Reader. )

I’ve always wanted to start you, Blog, but blogs are popular and I always seem to steer clear of things that are popular. When everyone I knew was talking about the first Twilight book and how awesome it was (don’t judge my friends for that), I was all like, “um, no thank you.” Then the movie came out and my roommates were going to see it, and I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I read that vampy-romancey high school page-turner the few days prior to the theater showing, because I have a personal standard about not seeing a book-based movie until I’ve read the book. (Turns out I rather enjoyed the series—no judging me for that.)

And a few years ago, when every female under seventy and half of the ones over were walking around the mall wearing crazy-printed leggings, I made a rash decision that there was just no way I would own a pair until the fad was over. (Still honoring that decision.) It’s not that I have anything against things that are popular. I’ve always loved all things Harry Potter… but I read The Sorcerer’s Stone the year it came out, so I like to think of myself as one of the original HP lovers, among the first fans who helped make the industry all that it is. (You’re welcome.)

That’s right, I like to be a trend-setter. I’d rather be a leader than a follower. If I can’t be a leader, then I’ll wait until that trend is so over that I’ll look like I’m trying to bring it back again, pretty much making me a leader. But no… it’s not that I have such a burning desire to be a leader—I’m too much of an introvert for that (an extroverted-introvert, I like to think). I just want to be unique. I like to do things because I want to do them, not because I’m being pushed into it. Ok, maybe that just makes me stubborn. (My husband would agree with that.)

Whatever I am, I realized I can be any and all of it with my very own one of you, Blog. It’s all about me, baby. Something in my life I can completely control. And a control-lover like me needs some more of that, especially after a day of trying to let my three-year-old help me in the kitchen. I realize this vast blogging world doesn’t really need me. But perhaps, I need the blogging world. And if I can make someone chuckle or feel kinda entertained or like they can totes relate to something I say on this virtual adventure, Ima feel like I did pretty doggone good. (Yes, I’m talking to you Reader. Blog is now just silently transmitting my message to you.)

It’s been a while since I’ve done much writing, and that’s a bit of a tragedy considering I went to school for four years to get a degree in English-creative writing. (Look Ma and Pa, I’m startin’ a blog! Finally puttin’ that education to use.) As it turns out, when a writer (at least me) doesn’t write for a while, it gets easier and easier to not write for a little while longer and then a lot longer until I hardly even consider myself a writer anymore but instead a late-night Facebook-scrolling, Pinterest-pinning, Netflix-binging, book-reading burnt-out mom who is simply making the most relaxing use of the time I have between when the child goes to sleep and my betraying heavy eyelids force me to hit the hay as well. But all that’s about to change. Oh, yes it is.

Yeah…no. Who am I kidding? Not you, and certainly not me. I don’t want it to change; I love my nighttime me-time rituals. I live for them. I look forward to them all the day long. I’m just gonna be adding “blog-writing” to the mix. I’m so well-rounded like that.

Yep, this is my first blog post and I am here to stay. You can count on that. I know what you’re thinking. “Oh puh, you’ll last a few months and then your posts will fizzle out and soon enough you’ll be making catch-up posts for the past year and apologizing for letting us all down.” But no, not me. You get those thoughts right out of your mind. I am not a fizzler, and I am not a quitter. I have big plans for this blog. Entry ideas coming out of my ears. Plus, I used to have a xanga, and I lasted on that thing for like, three post-pubescent years.

…But if I do turn out to be a fizzler, don’t burn me at the stake, ‘kay???