How Educational/Parental Contact has Changed Over 25 Years

I thought this would be kind of cool to do.  My husband graduated in 1993, I graduated in 2008, and our son is currently in Kindergarten (Class of 2030!).  From the time my husband graduated to the time I graduated, the ability for parents and educators to contact one another changed exponentially, and even now, just nine years later, it’s still changing in completely new and honestly, totally unexpected ways.  You couldn’t have told me, in 2008, that I would basically be able to text my son’s teacher, and in 1993, you wouldn’t have been able to convince my husband that you’d be able to send a letter instantly, through the phone lines, from one machine to another.

So, I thought I’d do a comparison.  This will also encompass my entire school experience, since I started kindergarten not long after my husband graduated, so I do remember some things from the 90s that are similar to what my husband dealt with.

The 90s and Before:

Generally, if a teacher or a parent wanted to speak to one another, they’d send a note home or they’d call and leave a message on the answering machine.  Both options were a bit tricky, because notes could be lost and answering machines could be deleted or kept full (if there was one), but that’s just what happened.  If it was serious, the office would call every number until a parent answered, but that was usually only if there were serious injuries or threats of expulsion.  If it wasn’t too urgent, a letter was sent, which could take up to a week to get to the house.  Parent-Teacher conferences weren’t really a thing for me in elementary school, because really, unless there was something super important that was going on, parents didn’t want to be bothered by it.  Things were a lot less hands-on.

The 00s

Email became a huge thing at the end of the 90s and early 00s.  With dialup, it wasn’t always certain if a phone line would be tied up by internet usage, and since most parents tended to work in a business setting, email was more likely to be checked than answering machines.  Also, the popularity of cell phones grew, and so did voice mail, but like answering machines, those could be full or not set up.  Interestingly, when I was in high school, social media was becoming a much larger thing but didn’t quite have set rules, so it wasn’t uncommon for teachers to connect with their students or students’ parents on Facebook (not on Myspace, because that was more for the teenaged crowd), but Facebook was the first social media to really appeal to all ages, and it showed.

The prevalence of email and social media definitely led to the increase of interference or “helicopter” parenting – some parents grew so used to having a lifeline attached to their children that it wasn’t anything for them to email a future boss or college professor, or “check up on them” while at work or in class, which has been an open source of resentment for the employers of these children.  Even if a parent wasn’t trying to be over-involved, a lot of times, the teacher would bring them into things that really didn’t involve them – for example, a lost piece of classwork or some sort of interaction for homework (which, for those of us with working parents, often went into the gradebooks as a zero, and into the email inbox as a “concern”).  The children of these parents often end up dependent on them for both motivation and consequences, which means when they are finally forced to face the world alone, they flounder.  It was a lose-lose situation for those of us who grew up in that time.

Emails also led to the downplaying of Parent-Teacher conferences – before, those were likely the only times a parent and educator would end up in contact, but now, it was easy to connect!  No more relying on a child to pass a note, or a voicemail/answering machine that could be full or disconnected.  It’s quite impressive to realize that this change came about during the 12 years that I was in the educational system!

The Teens

The app has brought about a new way of living.  There are apps for everything – for exercise, for socialization, for cooking, and even to keep track of your period and pregnancy symptoms!  Apps are an integral part of daily life in the 2000-Teens, and no where is it more obvious than in the educational system.  Laptops and Ebooks are often used more than physical texts, apps keep students honest and engaged in their learning, and, even in elementary school, apps are used to keep parents and educators connected.  With an app, sending a message to your child’s teacher is as easy as sending a text!  It doesn’t stop there – unlike emails, which were often limited in the types of attachments they could send or accept (thanks in large part to the preventative measures implemented by school systems), these apps can often send pictures, flyers, and update you on your child’s behavior immediately.  It’s not exactly like being in the classroom, but it’s pretty close!

That said, I can see how this can both keep the helicopter parents at bay and enable them.  It’s nice to know what’s going on in my son’s classroom, but it feels so intrusive.  At the same time, it’s now expected to want to use these apps – my child’s teacher actually spoke to me about my reluctance to use the class app, because I hadn’t signed onto it for over a week and it gave her a notification!  It is a great way to keep up to speed…  But is it too much?  It worries me – is this actually hindering my son’s growth, by keeping him reliant on me to police his actions?  Do I really need to know every time he gets in trouble at school?  The lines have blurred, and I don’t think I like it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about parent/teacher connectivity, as well as your experiences with any of the methods mentioned above, as well as anything I may have missed.  Please feel free to leave a comment down below, or you can hit me up on Instagram, Youtube, or Twitter.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and have a good one! ;0

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Secondary Infertility: The First Years

The first year my husband and I struggled to conceive, I was twenty-one going on twenty-two.  I had spent five years attempting not to conceive, four months knowingly pregnant, and six months doting on my son and dealing with an early-term pregnancy I didn’t even know was there until it was gone.

Six months after our son was born, two months after the loss we barely knew, we decided to try again.  Honestly, even though it’s only been five years, I can hardly remember anything about that defining moment.  I know we didn’t really sit down and talk about it, but that’s because that isn’t our style; we tend to “wing it”, as evidenced by our entire relationship.  I know that, if we did “talk” about it, it was basically, “Well, do you want another kid now?” “Yeah.” “Me too.”  I do know that, pretty much from six months post-partum, we were trying, though.  Well, as much as a new family of three can really try for a baby: sparsely, when the tiny cuckoo bird was away or asleep, if we weren’t too tired, if we even saw each other at that point, since I worked from roughly 2-10PM, then cared for a wide awake baby during the “night time hours” before going to bed around 6AM, and my husband worked from 10-8AM, came home, and went to sleep around 4-5PM.

And all the while, all around me, I heard, “When are you having another?”

I was young, which was a definite plus for me.  For years, I lagged behind my friends, the “younger” one, the one kept outside of clubs and bars months or even years after the rest of them.  It was a hassle of being bumped up a grade and dating older guys; for once, though, my youth was on my side, knocking down the percentage of possible health problems a child could have.  Also on our side was the fact that we had just had a child – babies conceived within literally months of a sibling’s birth run in my family.  Sure, we’d had a setback, but it was nothing we couldn’t overcome.

So we waited.

And waited.

A full year passed, and I was now twenty-two going on twenty-three, and eighteen months post-partum.

All around me, people I knew were having babies.  Some people had had a child and had announced that they were pregnant with their next one in the time my husband and I had been trying to have a second, but not many.  Most people just had one, and I was still young.  Besides, we’d barely been able to have any time to ourselves or to each other.  We ended up (again, without discussion) both moving things around to make time to see each other.  I moved my unavailability at work to be my husband’s second day off, so we could start actually seeing each other instead of playing “swap the baby” at the time clock.  We allowed our son to spend the night outside of the home for the first time during that second year, and we’d often relax and talk, rediscovering our relationship outside of exhaustion and being parents.

But still…  Nothing sticks.  We have another loss at 10 weeks.  It was about this time that I expressed confusion to my gynecologist, who informed me that we were still in the early stages of parenthood, and that I was still so young to be worrying about my fertility, especially since I could obviously conceive.  “Come see me when you’re twenty-five, we’ll sort things out then!”  I count down the months.

So, the third year starts.  I’m twenty-four, going on twenty-five, with a new job I love much more than my old one, a new schedule to figure out, and new insurance.  The gynecologist who told me to come back at twenty-five is now out of my network, and I have to find someone new.  This gynecologist tells me that I’m too young to worry about my fertility.  “If you haven’t had another baby by thirty, we’ll look into things.”  Five whole years?  My son will be almost ten!  That’s a pretty large age gap, honestly.  I knew people who had large age gaps between their siblings, and most of them ended up raising their younger siblings, babysitting for free at the expense of any form of a social life, basically being thrust into a kind of teenage parenthood.

And then, it all goes out the window.  I find out I’m pregnant.  I set my ten week appointment, the earliest my OBGYN will see me due to my losses.  A week later, I miscarry.  The stress affects my system in ways it never has before, and my MS strikes back with a vengeance.  I lose my new job when I can’t go back to work in a timely manner, and I don’t qualify for disability due to my lack of work experience.  I’m dealing with medical issues, running to and from doctor’s appointments and tests every day for weeks…  And then, suddenly, it all goes away.  My insurance no longer covers medications outside of an MS attack.  The New Year starts, and I’m now a stay-at-home mom with zero prospects.

And once we’re sure I’m not gearing up for another attack, we decide to start trying again.  Just before the third year ends, I find out I’m pregnant, eleven weeks along.  I end my third year of dealing with secondary infertility on a high note, I think, and we prepare to tell our families about the baby.  We don’t get the chance.  I lose the baby by my fourteenth week.

Being young and dealing with secondary infertility is difficult, honestly.  I’ve been shot down so many times – “Oh, don’t worry about it, you’re still so young!”  No one ever gives a thought to my husband’s age, or to the fact that we’ve had other losses, it’s just “Oh, you’re so young!”  I’m starting to get older, and there’s now a visible gap between my son and any future child, so people are starting to take me seriously.  My husband is now of the opinion that we should just let nature take its course, though, because of how nonchalantly our issues were treated before – he’s convinced we won’t be taken seriously until I’m well into my thirties.

Honestly, when I was younger, I didn’t think I’d even have to deal with secondary infertility.  I figured everything had sorted itself out, and that I’d be able to have kids no problem.  People don’t talk about their issues having kids if they already have one – if they don’t have kids, sure, or if they have a kid but it was a struggle, then yes, but not the struggle to conceive after having a baby.  It’s been strange adjusting to the fact that I do have fertility issues, even though I have a son.  It’s not one of those things you’d figure would happen to you, you know?  But it happened to me, and I’m talking about it, so hey.

Anyway, if you made it through this and you’re experiencing something similar, I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone.  You’re not the only person who has had your issues dismissed by doctors and laymen alike.  You’re not the only person who’s watched your friends have babies in the time it’s taken you to attempt to conceive your second.  You’re not the only one who wants another baby but can’t seem to have one.  It may be a silent struggle, one you feel like you shouldn’t talk about, or that you’ve been told off for talking about, but you’re not alone.

Mom Blogging: Hard Mode

Right at this very moment, I’m sitting in the local Panera.  My laptop is open, my email is open, Youtube is open, and I’m ready to blog.

And as I say this, my child gets up from his seat across from me so he can put his crayons and coloring book back into his Avengers bag.  Of course, I notice that his shoes are on the wrong feet; so begins another five minutes of me attempting to quietly wrangle him back into his seat.  It’s another five minutes that I won’t be able to blog, another five minutes I won’t be able to use to send out another email to try and make a connection.

I wasn’t expecting a get-out-of-the-house Panera run to be Mommy Blogging: Hard Mode.

Sure, this isn’t the most difficult way to blog.  I’m not sitting in the middle of a war-torn countryside, trying to write a piece while fearing that I may not live to see the next minute, never mind the morning.  I’m well aware that my life is easy.  I just wasn’t quite aware of how futile this would feel.  I’m fighting a losing battle, trying to keep my child quiet enough to not disturb the other people around me, most of whom are attempting to meet a set word count within fifteen minutes.

Yes, I chose to bring my son to my NaNoWriMo meet.  Don’t judge me.

It’s taken me 45 minutes to get from my first words to these ones.  In that time, I’ve hushed my son an innumerable amount of times, hushed him a few times more, watched him walk over to the garbage can and empty his tray all by himself, told him to swap his shoes again (because apparently he doesn’t like the way they feel when they’re on normally), and wondered exactly how long it will take my husband to get here, once he gets out of work at 5:00pm.

The answer is roughly 15 minutes, barring any traffic issues.

I have managed to make some progress, though!  An email has been sent.  Just one.  Part of a blog post has been written.  Life marches on, despite the setbacks.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this, to be honest.  I just thought it would be funny to chronicle my time in Panera, with my child, as he tries his hardest to drive me insane.  He would rather be outside playing, despite the horrible weather.  It thunderstormed earlier, and he wanted nothing more than to go outside and watch the lightning dance across the sky.  I thought that, perhaps, going outside and standing in our front yard to watch the storm is probably not the best idea, not when our front yard is literally covered by trees.  Momma, the perpetual partypooper, strikes again.  I know.

It’s been another 15 minutes since I wrote “I know.”  In that time, I had to use the bathroom and buy the terror some more bread – a bribe, if you will, to be quiet while I spend the next few minutes trying to write 475 words.  It’s been a struggle to try and get him to cooperate.  He’s no longer decided to sit quietly.  Just 30 minutes until my husband should arrive.  I’m watching the minutes tick down in the corner of my screen while my son chomps on his baguette.  The area is quiet.  Finally, I can write something.

Now…  I just need to pick a topic.

Uh oh.

Mom Life: What Do I Wear?

I’ve had a few questions about what I wear on a regular basis.  I don’t know if that’s a pretty normal question, or if something about my outfits have garnered interest, but whatever it is, I’m happy to answer.

Generally, I wear skirts.  I like the freedom of movement that I have in skirts, and I think skirts are easily made into casual and semi-formal outfits with just a change of shirts.  I’m also a fan of dresses, especially with cardigans.  Since I’ve been asked, I have not chosen to wear skirts due to a religious conviction.  I think it’s the skirt/long hair combination that gets me asked that question quite a bit, but no, that’s not why.  I simply wear what I like. 🙂

I do actually own two pairs of pants, a pair of jeans and a pair of cotton casuals.  I am also a huge fan of leggings and opaque tights under my skirts, as well as comfy shirts and slouchy sweaters.  I am a fan of all kinds of shoes, and I admittedly have a “Collection” (inherited from both my mother and mother-in-law, both of whom share my shoe size and both of whom have just one daughter to pass their shoes on to – moi), but I have to say that I am a permanent fan of ballet flats or flip flops, depending on the weather, although my black calf-high boots are 110% a Thing when the weather is too cold.

Interestingly, I don’t usually wear socks.  I have two pairs I really “enjoy” (one of which is a knee-high pair of Cheshire Cat socks, and the other is a brown Alice in Wonderland-themed pair that has the “Eat Me, Drink Me” snacks on them.  I may have an obsession.

I’m actually considering moving into a capsule wardrobe, mainly because I’ve actually cut down on a lot of clothing items and I could definitely cull my wardrobe even more because I don’t really wear a lot of the clothes that I have left.  We’ll have to see.  Let me know if you’re interested in seeing a primarily skirt-based capsule wardrobe take shape!  🙂

As always, thank you for stopping by, and have a good one!  🙂

The Age of Marriage, Part Two: His

This has taken me a while to post, I know.  A while back I posted about my own experience with being on “the young side” of marriage; you can read that here.  I posted with stars in my eyes and a promise that my husband’s experience with being on the opposite side of the “average age” would come forthwith.  Surely, I thought, he had something to say on the matter, some things he noticed, things that annoyed him.

I forgot that I married an antisocial hermit.  Nothing bothers him.  No one said anything to him.

“Nothing?”

“Nope.”

So, what’s a blogger to do when she promises a post and can’t deliver?  The only thing I can do: draw on my own experiences.  Over the last few years, I have had people say one thing in particular to me, about my husband’s lack of interest in marriage until I came along, which I think I’ll share with you.

“We were starting to think he’d never get married!”  This was said in so many different ways, honestly.  It was always with a laugh, but with way too much truth ringing behind it.  He’d been given up on.  There was actually a running joke with my brother-in-law that, should anything happen to him, my husband would marry his widow, but some people actually took it as fact – that’s how convinced people were that he wouldn’t marry.  When Frozen came out, I’d often say that my husband’s family was like Kristoff’s Troll family: “He’s brought a giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl!”  It was true, though – people thought of him as the perpetual bachelor, the cool uncle, or the jerk at work.

That’s really all I noticed.  Sorry this wasn’t longer! 😦  Thanks so much for stopping by, and as always, have a good one! 🙂

Fun & Cheap Date Night Ideas

Hey yall!  Recently, my husband and I were able to go on a just-us date for the first time this year, so I decided to write a post about fun (and cheap) date night ideas, just in case you were looking for something to do.  Please note, these are all date ideas in my general area, so if you have to travel for these, they may not be “cheap” for you.

Tuesday Matinee at the local movie theater!

Now, this may not be Tuesday, but generally, there’s going to be at least one day a week where movie tickets are significantly cheaper during the day.  If you want to see a newer movie but not pay a crazy price, and you and your honey can take a weekday off, definitely check out your local theaters.

Check out a local show!

It’s fall here, which means lots of school-related stuff is now happening, so why not support your local fine arts group and buy a ticket to the school play or concert?  If it’s too early in the season for that, why not get admission to the local high school game?  Sure, it’s not the same as a professional game, but there’s nothing quite like stealing a kiss under the bleachers to make you feel like a teenager again.

Game Night!

Do you and your spouse like playing video or board games?  Can your relationship handle the threat of Monopoly?  Make a night of it and find out!  This is especially awesome if you don’t have a lot of cash, or maybe your sitter had to cancel.  Do you prefer different consoles?  No problem – why not find a mobile game (like Candy Crush or something) and play certain levels to see who can get the highest score?  Most games can be played on computer, phone, tablets – heck, even Facebook has a huge Gameroom selection.

Take a class together!

You’d be surprised how many school districts still offer special “community education classes”.  In the past, a few of my local districts have offered:

  • Glass-making
  • Cooking classes of all kinds
  • Pastry decorating
  • Specialty coffee brewing
  • Dance lessons
  • Self-defense
  • Music classes

See what your school districts have to offer!  Can’t find anything through there?  Try talking to a nearby community center, cultural area, or even local businesses – heck, even Home Depot sometimes offers adult-style classes.  You’d be surprised what you might find!  Can’t find anything, don’t have a sitter, or simply don’t want to waste time talking to people husband stop reading my blog?  Youtube some recipes and make your own cooking class!

Season-specific dates!

Like I said earlier, it’s now fall, so we would be moving into more of the quintessential US Fall Dates: cider mill, haunted houses, pumpkin picking, having one last bonfire, looking at the leaves as they change, things like that.  Think about what season it is, and then see if you can’t find something to do in your area.  During the winter, you could go skiing or sledding, ice skating, make snowmen, have a snowball fight, go for a walk through a decorated town, go to the local museum or art gallery, stuff like that.  Is it summer?  Go to the beach, or really anything outside, see if your town has free shows or concerts, or have an ice cream date!  Springtime?  Check out your local farmer’s market to see if there’s anything new, go put-putting, get your bikes out, go puddle jumping!  The options are endless.

Finally, enjoy life!

This isn’t really a date idea, it’s just a reminder: you could partake in the best date in the world, and it still wouldn’t be enough if you didn’t enjoy it.  Focus on yourself and your partner: don’t rush through the night, even if you have somewhere to be in the morning and you miss your kids/pets; don’t spend the entire night on your phone, even if you’re taking pictures to document it all.  The best date you can have is one where you and the person you care about are into each other, without any kind of third wheel.  Live in the moment, and you won’t miss a thing.

Anyway, those are just a few cheap & fun date ideas that I have.  Did I miss your favorite?  Let me know – I may not even know that it’s a thing.  Have a good one!

Mom Life: “Fake It ‘Til You Make It”?

“No one wants to see an unhappy kid.”

“No one wants to see a struggling mom.”

If you’re a Mom Blogger, Mom Youtuber, or Mom Social Media Fiend, you have probably heard some variation of those phrases.  No one wants to see a mom with a messy house, dirty kids with stained play clothes running around yelling like little banshees.  If we wanted that, we’d only have to look up from our own social media to see such an imperfect life, right?

Why?

I struggled with this for quite a while, even before I started my instagram.  I knew I’d never be able to show an Instagram-perfect house with white walls, not when my husband painted the house in shades of the primary colors, out kitchen in a dingy yellow, the living room in a deep red, and the bedrooms/bathrooms in a dusky blue, and the house itself is often shaded by trees and has openings for airflow, not natural lighting.

Plus, I live near Flint, MI.  If you haven’t been following the news, just know that it’s not exactly a hotbed of awesome things right now.  We still have issues with drinking water!  So it’s not like I’m living in a glamorous area.

And I’m having issues with conceiving a second child.  This is kind of a gray area, because I’ve seen a lot of bloggers and vloggers talk about their struggles with conceiving, but it’s almost like, once they had a baby, their problems were done.  Mine were not.  I had problems prior to my son’s conception, which were part of the reason that my previous relationship failed, and now I’m having issues with conceiving, and there’s more than a small part of me that fears my marriage will suffer from this, even though my husband has given no sign of anything otherwise.

Also…  My kid is selectively cute.  He’s cute when he has an audience, which means he’s adorable on camera, or around other people (even my husband), but with me…  Well, there’s a reason he has the nickname “Terror”.  He can turn this on and off at will, which often leaves me looking like the bad guy when he’s suddenly precious, but I’m still disciplining him for a previous transgression.  Oh my goodness, those moments are the worst – I’ve lost count of how many times people have said something like, “Momma, calm down, he’s fine now.”  Yes, he’s fine now, but that’s because he knows he’s in trouble.

So, what do I do?  Do I edit those moments?  Do I try to film us only doing fun things?  Do I only film in one area of my house, or outside?  Do I pretend that I’m content being the parent to one child, even though I’m not?  On the last part, that’s what has been suggested to me.  No one wants to hear a mom talk about how she wants another child – that’s just rude when there are people who can’t conceive at all.  When I’m asked if we’re thinking about having another child, I should just respond with something like, “We’re open to whatever happens!” or “Oh goodness, no!”  It’s “not right” to talk about having problems.  It might hurt someone’s feelings.  It might make someone uncomfortable.

As you have probably seen from my videos, I don’t care about that.  I remember wondering if there was something wrong with me, if I’m the only person experiencing X issues.  I’ve started to take that into other areas of my vlogging, too, specifically the “To Heck With It All” DITL video I posted last week, where absolutely nothing went right.

I’m not perfect.  Life doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes, I get to be the mom that looks like the jerk mom.  I get to be the one telling a well-meaning grandparently figure “No”, that my child is going to cry because we are leaving, they have been a right pain in my behind and I’m not taking it.  My house isn’t always perfect.  It’s dark.  It’s moist (thanks, riverbank living).  It’s messy at points.  Life happens.  It’s not always sunshine and Clifford.

And that’s just fine.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and as always, have a good one!