About this Blog

Momfidence! cheers on commonsense parenting and sighs at the rest. How to worry less, wing it more. A.k.a. parenting by the seat of my mid-rise mom jeans.

About Paula Spencer

I'm the author of Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting, and a mom of four in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (where you can't even buy Oreos at the two wholesome groceries nearest to my home).

Some Kindred Blogs

Listen to Smart Women

November 09, 2010

Big fun today talking about Momfidence to the moms (and token dad) at the Montessori School of Raleigh -- the liveliest and most interesting group I've had the privilege of visiting with for awhile.

Been spending a lot more time lately at the opposite end of the age spectrum over at Caring.com. Posted today there about interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the one-year anniversary this Thursday of her husband's death of Alzheimer's Disease.  A very different vibe but an equally complex life stage....

Hug Your Dad

Summer '09
...and way earlier
November 10, 2009

Grieved to say...my Dad just died, not three weeks before his 88th birthday. Burial was Friday.

Couldn't help scattering some memorial thoughts around the Internet:

"What a Dad I Had," MaryJanesFarm.org, "Suburban Farmgirl" post

"A Parent's Death Is Never Expected, Even When It Is," Caring.com, Caring Currents post

"What Every Caregiver Knows: Love Is a Verb," Caring.com

"Should Kids Attend a Funeral?" The Daily WD, Woman's Day "Momfidence" post

Ironically, I wrote "6 Reason's a Parent's Death Is a Special Kind of Loss" for Caring about a week before Dad died -- having no idea it was that imminent.


So weird to be an orphan...

Where You'll Find Me

October 19, 2009

I'm triple-bloggin' these days, only in once place about motherhood & momfidence, but thought I'd tell you about all three:

1. For mom stuff: As the previous post says, I'm on "The Daily WD" at womansday.com on Mondays,  Wednesdays, and Fridays -- including the return of the weekly Momfidence Lighten-Up-and-Eat-a-Cookie Award.

2. For me/you stuff (BRAND SPANKING NEW!): Starting this week, I'm the "Suburban Farmgirl" blogger at MaryJanesFarm.org. "Farmgirl spirit can take root anywhere -- dirt or no dirt." MaryJane likes to say "Farmgirl is a condition of the heart" -- so if you're into fabulous food, organic living/farming, thrift, camaraderie, can-do spirit, stitching, making, cowboy boots and cuuuute aprons (or just like to think about any of the above), come & visit from wherever you live!!

3. For another kind of caregiving: Down at the eldercare end of the age spectrum, I also post on Tues and Thurs to the "Caring Currents" blog at Caring.com -- the next big frontier in American family life. I cover a lot there about relationships, stress, family conflict, self care and other stuff moms can relate to.

And I still do the print stuff, too, chiefly my favorite, the "Momfidence" column in Woman's Day.

FYI: this old costume pic is of my daughters (in mom-made duds) from my current WD post, and the bicycle is me on my first "horse," from my first Suburban Farmgirl post...and then there's me and *my* Daddyo, from my current Caring.com post.

I'm Over at Womansday.com

July 28, 2009

Sorry no Lighten-Up-and-Eat-a-Cookie Awards lately! Between blogging 3x/ week as part of Woman's Day's The Daily WD and 2x/week at Caring.com (where I cover family relationships, among other things, at the other end of the age spectrum), I'm usually opinioned-out before I get here (or else I'm behind deadline on the column or other articles & books & such...not to mention hanging with the aforementioned four kids!)

Sometimes it's hard to resist stealing over here to squeal over something like the amazing study today that shows texting while driving puts you at 23x higher risk of crashing than not texting behind the wheei. SCARY! Where are the Mothers Against Text Messaging? Need to lobby for laws about that risk.

Meanwhile pls do check out the Momfidence posts at the Daily WD (actually check out all of it, one of my favorite sources for everyday tips)...

Reading, Writing, and Finance 101

July 01, 2009

Someone in the Wall Street Journal today, commenting on the Bernie Madoff scandal and the financial ruin of the late celebs Michael Jackson and Ed MacMahon, wondered why they don't teach basic finances in schools? Good question. If there's room in the curriculum for recycling, ecology, anti-bullying, respect, black history (in Feb), sex ed, nutrition-label reading, et. al. -- and I'm not saying these don't belong in classrooms, only that they're non-3Rs that have become standards -- then why not personal finance? How to balance a checkbook. Compound interest and the bliss of saving. The perils of spending more than you earn.

Hmmm, maybe there's room for a few quick lessons on laundry, too.

Summer Boredom Busters

June 29, 2009

Ok, I admit it, hopelessly overscheduled and functioning on with all the vim and stupor of summertime mode. So let me tell you about other places I'm writing:

Starting today I'm 3x/week in The Daily WD over at womansday.com (where you can also get recipes and save money -- not from me, from the clever and on-top-of-such-things WD editors -- instantly multiplying your incentives to read me over there!) 

Direct quote:

So today kicks off my new 3x/week posts here, where I'll answer reader questions about, oh, whatever mom, dad, kid, or family thing is on your mind. Ask away at momfidence@gmail.com. Here's a timely starter (timely because I just heard the same thing today around my house!):

What do you say when your kids say, "I'm bored!" in the summer? I feel like I run out of ideas before the Fourth of July and it exhausts me!      --kate

If I'm in a cranky mood I tell them what my grandmother used to tell me: "Go play spit and catch." My godmother would then chime in that we try to kiss our elbows or our noses. Translation: Make up your own fun; I'm sure you'll think of something.

I never run out of ideas for summer entertainment because Chief Entertainment Officer is one job I refuse to assume. Certainly preschoolers have to be entertained, but by the school years, kids who own a decent number of toys and books, have a few friends, and are in full possession of a brain and an imagination (backyard optional, but useful) are capable of thinkin' up their own amusements.

I'm not above organizing the occasional outing: Taking a walk, the library or bookstore, a museum, Costco or Sam's Club, the grocery or bakery. Notice how none of those places takes me too far off my usual paths. (Amusement parks and the like are great, too, but then we're talking vacation.) You’d be surprised how exciting an ordinary picnic can be to a child, especially when he or she is involved in the planning and preparing.

But for the most part, I try to stay out of it. You'd be amazed what they come up with – or how much time they can kill trying to kiss their elbows.

stay tuned...Weds I'll dish on First Momshells.

Shocker Headline: "Gizmos Attract Kids"

June 11, 2009

Hey moms, guess what?! Kids 4-14 are increasingly distracted by computers, cellphones, video games, et.al -- and the trend shows "no sign of reversing any time soon.". So says a surprising (!) study by a consulting group. Of course, to kids this stuff falls in the category of "toys." Electronics only are categorized in our own heads as something other than playthings because we know what they cost!


Let Your Child Do the Showing and Telling

June 02, 2009

This news report about a Pennsylvania judge ruling that the Bible is inappropriate material for Show and Tell in kindergarten caught my eye for obvious reasons. But as I read the story more closely I realized one thing didn't ring true: The mom was coming into class to read Scripture as part of her son's show-and-tell about himself.

Wait a minute! I thought Show and Tell was supposed to be an opportunity for the child to get used to standing up in front of an audience, talking about himself and his interests (or the feather he found on the way to school, the souvenir from vacation, or yes, his favorite book). All religious commentary aside...If you bring your mom in to do the presentation for you, that doesn't count as Show and Tell to me!

Good Nutrition Habits: The Heat Is Off Mom

June 01, 2009

From the Studies I Love Department: Parents' influence on eating habits is small, says the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their research shows that resemblance between parents' and kids' eating habits is weak.

Makes sense to me. How else do I have four such different eaters? How else to explain the chicken nugget years? The one who loves vegetables but no fruits? The bottomless appetite for bright yellow foods (goldfish crackers, Cheez Nips, mac and cheese) I can't abide?

You can influence, but you can't control. And apparently your influence may be smaller than you'd like to think.

Life (and Holidays) Happen

May 26, 2009

No this isn't a moribund blog though you'd think so from the way this May is running. fyi, a new thing at womansday.com: A Q&A "Momfidence" blog starts up next month!

You can ask away at momfidence@gmail.com

(That's a pic of the little icon they're using. I feel like a postage stamp! Or a green stamp, anyone remember those?)

Tell Your Kids They Don't Want to Be Miley Cyrus

May 14, 2009

New study confirms that wealth, fame, and fetching looks do not a happy person make. In a nutshell:

"...reaching materialistic and image-related milestones actually contributes to ill-being; despite their accomplishments, individuals experience more negative emotions like shame and anger and more physical symptoms of anxiety such as headaches, stomachaches, and loss of energy. By contrast, individuals who value personal growth, close relationships, community involvement, and physical health are more satisfied as they meet success in those areas. They experience a deeper sense of well-being, more positive feelings toward themselves, richer connections with others, and fewer physical signs of stress."

Instead of "Be careful what you wish for" maybe the adage should be "Be careful what you aspire to"!

"Bad" Is Not a Contest, It's a Badge of Insecurity

May 14, 2009

You've probably noticed that "bad" mothering is all the rage. There's a national contest underway, it seems, for the crown of most horrible mother out there. When I was interviewed on Amy Tiemann's Mojo Mom podcast recently, she brought up how it was hard to get publicity for a mom-oriented book with positive, helpful messages because bookers are wild for renegade mommies, these days. (True Mom Confessions and Bad Mothers being two actual titles among the recent Mother's Day offerings out there.) I know...Momfidence the book was born amidst racy memoirs by ex-rock-groupie mamas and drinkin' mamas.

I don't know about you but I get depressed reading other mothers' deriliction and onedownmanship. It too easily goes beyond catharsis and treads into boring tastelessness.  Do people really give toddlers benadryl so they'll sleep on airplanes? Push over their fledgling walkers for the thrill of it? Tell their kids the pot they're smoking is "incense, like in church"?


I don't want to know. Neither will your kids.

Mostly this trendlet is sad because I thought we've moved past the simplicity of a calculus that says if you're not a Good Mother (sainthood variety), you must be a Bad Mother. (Are you really a Bad Mother if you hide the finger paints because you can't stand the mess, as one mom says? I never bought them in the first place, for that very reason! For that we have preschool!)

Raising kids is boring, messy, complicated, frustrating,et. al. But hello?! That's what you signed up for. Complain to your daddy-o or your best friend, but don't think you have to out-admit anybody. Don't waste your time reading about how comparatively bad you are or aren't.

One thing raising kids definitely isn't, is a contest.

Name Yourself Mother of the Year

May 07, 2009

Or name a sister or a friend. In the past 12 hours, two sweet friends have sent me this fun email, which is the most viral maternal thing out there since that singing-the-nags mom. (Way more viral than the tiresome swine flu.) Happy Mother's Day, early!

This Week's Lighten-Up-and-Eat-a-Cookie Award

May 06, 2009

A step-away-and-snarf-a-cookie order to any mom who feels her "caregiving identity" is threatened if a child who's hurt on the playground runs to Daddy first. That was an example given in a USA Today piece on moms who want shared parenting but feel threatened by changes in the conventional hierarchy of duties.

Says one mom giving the example: "My first reaction is, 'I hope the other mothers didn't notice because maybe they would judge me.' "

I'd judge all right...I'd judge the kid as lucky! Mine grew up calling indiscriminately for  "Mommy" or "Daddy" when they were sick or hurt -- whoever was handy or was top of mind at the moment.

That's shared parenting and it's terrific. It's about the kids, not about you and what people think about you.


Momfidence and Mojo (and How They Go Together)

May 01, 2009

Had fun this week appearing on Amy Tiemann's Mojo Mom podcast. Amy opened with a provocative question based on a previous discussion she'd had: What would I tell the smart, energetic MBA candidates she's been meeting who claim that they don't want to have kids because the demands of family life seem so overwhelming and incompatible with what they're trying to accomplish changing the world from the corridors of business?

Actually I didn't want to have kids once, either. But then biology takes over and hopefully you're not too much of a control freak to ignore something as potent as biology...

Then you find yourself responsible for another human life in an undeniably direct way and realize that hell, no matter what path you choose life is complicated and at least if you're smart enough to also have an MBA maybe you can put yourself in a position to do something about better child care & family leave policies & flex time & all that.

We talked about more than that but it was an interesting starting point.

Amy's terrific new book Mojo Mom is all about staying true to yourself in the midst of the myriad demands on your time that giving into biology triggers.

So if you've stared at yourself in a mirror lately and wondered "Who's she? Where am I?" I suggest clicking over to amazon right now.

Momfidence is...

Easier when you've got your mojo.

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