Letter to my Daughter on Her 6th Birthday

On each of my kids’ birthdays I compose a letter. My plan is to one day hand over a book of these heartfelt letters, proving to an ornery teenager that I do, in fact, know and love him/her, and that my goals as a mother go beyond ruining his/her social life.

Dear Sally,

Happy Birthday! My vibrant, affectionate, bold, funny, smart girl turns six today and I couldn’t be more proud of the kid you’ve become. I don’t know how I got lucky enough to be your mom, but I’m grateful every day that I am. You are a light and a joy for me and our family, and my world is infinitely better because you’re in it.

I thought long and hard about what to write in this letter. I reread last year’s letter (here) and now I feel like I’ve said it all already. As a five-year-old you transformed from a great little kid into a fantastic (slightly less) little kid. You thrived in kindergarten, as I knew you would, lapping up the new knowledge and experiences with the same cheerful enthusiasm and aplomb that you bring to all you do. I’m so happy to see your confidence and individuality still firmly intact. As you enter first grade, I hope you stay full of humor, curiosity, and pluck.

Your natural confidence and warmth are magnetic. You make new friends easily and everywhere – a skill you were born with and one of the many ways you are so different from me. Even your big brother looks to your fortitude and courage to bolster his own, and the two of you brave the world together. Puddle gazing

As a dynamic duo, he relies on your quick thinking and adventurous nature, even as you look up to him for his “good” ideas and knowhow.camping

It’s not surprising that you attract friends to your side effortlessly. You have so many wonderful traits, making it natural for you to fit in with just about anyone. You’re the girl who happily plays with dolls and princess dresses, and who also can keep up with a pack of boys running wildly with secret missions, evil bad guys, and superhero responsibilities. You wield a sword in one hand and pink fairy wand in the other; you pair your cape with a tiara. You are as fierce as you are adorable.

Fierce

You’re the girl who can entertain a room full of adults with a quip or a story, and who can play contentedly by yourself for hours. You’re the girl rocking a 21 speed mountain bike; the one pushing herself to swim to the bottom of the deep end; the one whose first reaction to a new thing is “I’ll try it!” You’re the girl who takes her time to patiently roast the perfect marshmallow, and the girl to step without hesitation off the zipline platform, loving the speed and thrill. You’re all of these things because you inhabit yourself with an admirable easy confidence. God, how I hope you keep it!

Biking

I want to be the mom I see through your eyes. I want to show you how strong and capable you are and help you grow into the phenomenal person you were born to be. Sometimes I feel that I don’t give you enough of my attention; that because you’re so self-reliant and easy-going, I don’t prioritize your needs and don’t play with you enough. I’m sorry if you ever feel that way. I hope you know that I couldn’t possibly love or admire you more. You’re the person whose hand I love to hold. Your cuddles are the best start to my days. When you’re by my side, your little hand in mine, chatting away in your delightful manner, I am the luckiest.

As I said before, you are a light; those near enough to be within the your radiant glow are better off for it.

I hope you have another wonderful year of learning, adventuring, growing, and just being you. I can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish this year, and all the ways you’ll make me laugh. Happy birthday! I love you!

Love,

Mom

Reading Can Save Lives

When it comes to reading things carefully, I am not a natural to begin with. Since I’ve had kids? I’m damn near hopeless. After all, what’s more distracting than kids? Nothing. When my kids are around I can barely think straight. Hours after cleaning up from breakfast, I’ve found boxes of cereal in my fridge and containers of milk in my pantry – testaments to how much my kids have ruined my mind.

OK, so there’s one thing more distracting than kids, and that’s sick kids. A child whose burning up with fever or vomiting? THE WORST. Holding a screaming toddler in one arm while trying to read the Drug Facts label on your bottle of Acetaminophen, after a sleepless night with the sick child, is no easy task.

Despite my general state of distraction, one thing I’m now always careful to read is the labels on medications. Ever since that time I had a UTI and my doctor called in a prescription for Pyridium. (That’s the stuff that makes it not hurt to go, and it turns your pee a garish orange color.) Anyway, as I was about to gratefully swallow my first dose I happened to take a second glance at the prescription label. The pharmacy had given me a prescription for progesterone instead! That’s a hormone that I did not need. Holy shit! I almost took the wrong medication based on a pharmacy error! Ever since then, I always carefully check my prescription labels and you should too because clearly pharmacists are also sometimes distracted.

It’s not just prescription medications that one has to be careful with. Even over the counter medications can be dangerous if used incorrectly. And considering the distracted state that parents usually find ourselves in, we should take a few moments to ensure we are administering the correct medication, at the correct dosage, and not creating any adverse interactions with other medications or supplements. It’s easy to overlook those supplements!

I make sure to read the Drug Facts label every time I administer any medication to my kids. I look for usage, active ingredients, and dosage information. No need to use a cold medication with added decongestants simply to reduce a fever, and one has to be careful not to double dose if using a combination medication (like a cold medicine) in addition to a fever reducer.

I usually discuss with my kids what I’m looking for when I read the Drug Facts labels. I want to impress upon them that while medicine can be helpful, it does not cure illnesses and it can be dangerous if used incorrectly. I never dispense medications to my kids unnecessarily or for the wrong reasons.

Drug Facts labels can be confusing to understand. For more information about how to properly read and understand Drug Facts, check out this helpful interactive guide from Know Your OTCs: http://www.knowyourotcs.org/how-to-read.

Drug Facts Label

If you are ever concerned that a child has gotten into an OTC medication accidentally, call poison control immediately: 1-800-222-1222

Now that the kids are heading back to school, the germs will be heading home. It’s a good time of year to check your medicine cabinet and make sure you’re well stocked with the essentials. Fevers, tummy aches, mysterious rashes, coughs, and colds are all right around the corner. Don’t forget about lice! (Yikes!)

 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.

Visit Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s profile on Pinterest.

Actual Fun vs. Parental Fun

There are two distinct funs once you become a parent: actual fun and parental fun. Actual fun is the life I had before kids. It’s travel, adventure, bike rides, hikes, sunsets, big waves, a great meal, a great movie, a great book. Actual fun is conversations that wander and take unexpected turns with people who can make me laugh until I cry. Is it possible that my children are becoming those people? Am I trading in parental fun (baby giggles from the baby swings) for actual fun (squeals from beside me on a roller coaster)? Is it possible that I can once again be the person I was before people wiped their noses on my shirt?

More and more often lately I notice myself having actual fun. Sure, I enjoyed watching my toddlers toddle; no sound is as sweet as baby giggles; and I’ll always miss dimpled knuckles, wet baby kisses, and those hilarious early mispronunciations. I loved a lot about those days, but there was little actual fun. Those days were mostly work, flecked with moments of sometimes transcendent bliss, usually interrupted by disgusting bodily emissions. But not actual fun. 

At eight and nearly six, my kids are (sometimes) actually fun to be around. They’re engaging, happy, and keen to try new things. They might still have a hundred annoying conversations to every interesting one, but at least it’s not a thousand. They’re big enough for so many things, but at the same time, they’re little enough to still think I’m awesome. I sufficiently remember my childhood to know that this stage must be fleeting.

After all those years of doing things I hated, (I’m looking at you, Music Together,) for the sake of my children’s happiness and to ward off the tedium of spending all day with illiterate, inarticulate, incontinent, uncivilized companions, I can’t believe my luck when I get to simultaneously experience actual fun and parental fun.

Actual Fun

Suddenly, we can do things together like go for bike rides in the woods, one of my favorite actual fun activities. I get the actual fun of riding through sun-dappled trails, breeze on my face, and the bonus parental fun of sharing something I love with these little people I love, of watching them steel their nerves to try something new, of seeing their tongue-in-teeth effort and concentration, of those bright-eyed smiles and unbridled whoops when they make it. It is so much ACTUAL fun!

While my shirt might still suffer other people’s snot on occasion, I find myself feeling more like myself lately because I’m doing the things I used to do. Instead of activities that I hate and they like, we can watch movies we all enjoy, read books we all enjoy, and play games we all enjoy. So long, Go Fish! Luke can play Rummy 500 and Sally plays a mean game of chess.

Gone are the baby days, the toddler days, the cry-over-the-wrong-color-cup days. Ahead are the tween days, the teen days, the ugh-my-mom-is-so-embarrassing days. We seem to be in a sweet spot. How long do I have here?