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Motherhood’s Not For Sissies

I’ve been playing Mommy for the past week while my wife is playing Mommy for her best friend’s kids, and let me tell you, Motherhood’s not for sissies.  Anyone that thinks being a mom is easy, has never been a mom or walked in mom’s shoes, that’s for sure.  It’s not an easy gig, and that’s why sissies can’t be moms.

My wife is the best and strongest they come.  And this past week, she’s taken a break from being mom to my children so she can be mom to her best friend’s.  Their oldest son has fought a battle with cancer and won. But he had to have a very large tumor removed this week, so my wife answered the call.  While they had surgery and he’s recovering, my wife is taking care of all the other kids.  Definitely not a vacation to see her best friend.

So while my beautiful wife is away, I have been playing Mommy to my own kids.  And here are some of the things (only some) I’ve observed and why I don’t think sissies could be mommies.

First and foremost, when you’re a mom, everything else comes first before you.  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t showered for three days, when a child needs something, you attend to it.  Why?  Because you soon realize that it takes far less energy to deal with it right away than it does to put it off for even a minute.  In the world of kids, things are exponential.  Boy have I learned that.

When I come home from my day job, it’s easy for me to say “Just a minute” to my kids, and honestly, I never see the difference.  That’s just the normal way it is.  But since I’ve been home all the time, I can see it.  Call it my Mom Goggles.  But I can see it now.  Just taking care if it right away is so much easier, and guess what.  The kids actually appreciate it.

Second, there’s always something to do, always something that is waiting to be done.  You can’t really take a break.  If you sit down to just take a minute for yourself, there’s really no rest in it because you’re always thinking about all the things you still need to accomplish.  When you go to bed, it’s not to get some sleep.  It’s to re-energize the batteries so you have enough for the next day.  You don’t feel like the day was accomplished because you go to bed thinking about all the things that still didn’t get done.  You just do it because that’s what moms do.

And finally, I’ve learned why moms love their kids so much and why kids love their moms so much.  When you serve someone so selflessly, you can’t help but love them.  It’s impossible not to grow deeper and deeper in love with these beautiful souls.  They fight, they scream, they cry, they make messes, but they love and smile and dream.  Their kisses taste sweeter and their hugs are warmer.  They appreciate everything you do for them, even if they don’t or can’t say it.  You just know.  You see it in their faces.

Motherhood’s not for sissies, but after getting to play Mommy all week, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  If I could convince my wife to give it up and let me stay home, there’d be no way I’d pass it up.  It’s so fulfilling, so amazing, so wonderful.  There really aren’t words sufficient to describe how truly phenomenal being a mom really is.

To the moms out there all over the world, even those who can’t have children but are moms just the same, you’re my heroes.  You inspire me, you amaze me, and you touch my heart deeply.  Words cannot express the respect and admiration I have for you.  To my dear sweet wife, the mother of my children, to my mom and my grandmas, I love you all with all my heart.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and do for me and will do for me (because I know you’ll never stop, no matter what, no matter when, no matter why).  Happy Mother’s Day!  You deserve more than just one holiday.

(image courtesy of Erik Kastner, flickr.com)

Protect your family from unsafe apps

We’ve all seen dozens of articles posted about apps that can jeopardize the safety of your children. Now you’re informed and you can fix the problem. Now you can monitor them like the Gestapo. That should be great for your relationship.

Right?

Wrong. After you read an article that tells you about the dangers of these Apps (almost always messaging or social types) it’s hard to know what to do. Here’s some practical ways to help your kids stay safe.

Lock down the phone, tablet, or iPod
This isn’t about trusting your child, it’s about protecting them. Especially if your child has a device at a young age (or access to a device). Sites you might think are benign are not. Many of those hilarious memes, and gifs that we love so much are hosted on a very popular site called IMGUR? There’s some really funny stuff on there! There are also galleries dedicated to pornography both animated gifs (clips from videos) and still images. IMGUR is available in any web browser, mobile or otherwise. What about Youtube? Youtube is awesome, right?! It is. I love it. Youtube also has porn, even though it’s supposed to be against the terms of service. Any site that has user generated content will have pornography at some point, at least until it can be reported and removed.

For a moment, lets say that you think it’s OK for your children to view pornography (it’s not, seriously). We’ll leave that alone for now. Anonymous messaging apps are wildly popular, however, they have three huge drawbacks: predators, sexting (posting explicit content of a minor is a felony) and bullying. If you think any of those things are OK, please get help.

How to lock down a phone

  1. Make sure the phone is associated with YOUR account and not your child’s, otherwise any “locks” can be circumvented. If you have an Android device and it is registered to your child’s account they can visit the Google Play store in any browser, on any computer or device and install any app they want.

  2. For Android users, set content filtering to the appropriate level and password protect it. This prevents apps that are accurately categorized from being installed. Realize that many apps are not properly categorized.

  3. Get an app locker (here’s another), this will require a password to use locked apps. It also prevents anyone from removing applocker without the password unless they do a factory reset and wipe the device. You also want one that will lock an app as soon as it is installed. This prevents “side loading” where the app is downloaded on a computer and then transferred to the device.

  4. Use the app locker to lock the app store/Google play store – this will prevent your child from installing apps without talking to you about it first. If you unlock it because they told you they wanted to get an Angry Birds game and then they walk away with the unlocked device, you’re doing it wrong. Ask what app they want. Install it for them. Close down the app store so that it is locked again before returning the device.

Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer) are a big deal
Many apps also have a browser based presence. This means that they can be used on any device without installing the app. You just need a browser. So even if a device is locked down, you should also consider installing a filter on your computer and putting it in a high traffic area of your home. Continue reading Protect your family from unsafe apps