Posted in Choices

We have to start somewhere: Kids and decision making

little girl ballet shoes, ballet shoes, ballet slippersKatie’s Monday ballet class at 9:30 am seemed like an okay idea when we signed her up for it.

But once we added in the 45-minute drive each way, what was a minor inconvenience at first, in time became a torturous way to start the week.

So, after her last performance, I went online to look at the schedule to find a more mommy-friendly time for ballet.

And as I scrolled through the offerings, I casually asked Katie if she’d like to continue with ballet or go back to gymnastics.

Without pause, she replied, gymnastics.

And I was taken aback, honestly, because I’m not even sure why I asked the question.

She had seemed so happy with ballet…a dream that I’ve always had for her.

But, in that moment, I was reminded that ballet was my dream for her. Not her dream for her.

So, we have enrolled her in gymnastics and she is elated.

Katie Hurley, child, adolescent, and family psychotherapist and parenting expert who writes at Practical Parenting, explains the importance of allowing children to make choices from a young age…

The benefits to giving young children the power to choose are numerous. Children, particularly preschoolers and early elementary students, become easily frustrated when they feel like they don’t have any decision-making power in they lives. When it comes to the larger issues (i.e. safety, bedtimes, healthy eating habits, etc.), they don’t have a lot of choice. Allowing them to make decisions on smaller issues that affect their everyday lives, such as what outfit to wear to school, empowers them. It shows them that we believe in them, and that they are capable of making decisions that are important to them. Children who are given the opportunity to make decisions tend to exhibit higher self-esteem, more assertive behaviors, increased self-confidence, and fewer negative attention seeking behaviors (i.e. meltdowns when things don’t go their way, tantrums, whining, etc.). These kids feel like they have some control over their lives, which empowers them to make good decisions. It also helps hone their decision-making skills, which will be used throughout their lives. Children who are never given choices feel less self-confident, have difficulty making decisions when they have to, and might question their self-worth.

Reading Katie’s words makes me feel good about our decision to let our Katie make her own choice, especially since she’s so little that most of her choices are low-stakes at this point. I know that I will blink my eyes and she will be a teenager and her choices will be so much bigger.

There’s a huge part of me that hopes she’ll switch back to ballet when this cycle is up, but if she doesn’t, I’ll be right there to encourage her to continue to follow her heart.

This parenting thing? Way trickier than I ever dreamed it would be.

Where We Go Isn’t Important

My dear, sweet Katie,

We need to plan a family trip.  Not to see new and fun things.  But simply to stay in a hotel.

When you were a baby, your daddy and I worked to teach you how to sleep on your own.*  I didn’t nurse you to sleep.  We didn’t rock you to sleep.  And in no way was any of that easy for us.

We wanted to hold your tiny body while you slept.

We longed to breathe you in and listen to and memorize your infant noises.

But, we believed then, and still do, that it was more important that you learned how to sleep without us.

We kept you in a bassinet in our room until you were three months old and I would lie awake so many nights, just listening to the sound of your breathing and all of the other strange sounds that tiny babies make.

Moving you to your own room was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences that I’ve had as a mother. I remember placing you in your crib and coming downstairs, video monitor in hand, to watch you sleep.  And while I sat crying and watching you, you just slept.  The only tears that were shed were mine.

Whenever we travel, you sleep with us so that you don’t roll out of bed.  We went away a couple of weeks ago and those middle-of-the-night moments were my favorites of our entire time away.

Your sleeping body is just different than your awake body.  You are still and languorous.  Warm and squishy.  I can just take you in.  I can touch your hair, your cheek, hold you close, and listen to your sleeping sighs.

In those moments, you are my baby again.

I love knowing that you are beside me as I sleep. Opening my eyes in the morning and having you near reminds me of just how amazing this life truly is.

During your grandmother’s final days, we stayed in a hotel for a couple of weeks to be with her. The nights were often all that got us through the painful days.  Breathing you in recharged us, Katie.

There are nights when I would love to climb into your bed and snuggle with you.  But I don’t because I know that, ultimately, it’s not what’s best for you.

So, we need to plan a trip.

Where should we go?  The hotel down the street? Across town?  You pick.

Because, to me, where we go isn’t even remotely important.

I love you,


*Our sleep philosophy was the best choice for our family.  In no way do I believe that it is what’s best for all other families.


After two terrible pregnancies, I want another baby.

I’m certain that I am one of the worst pregnant women ever.  Morning sickness kicks in for me at 6 weeks and doesn’t stop raging until I give birth.  Not a mild, “my belly feels off” feeling, but rather an “I think I might die” all-day sickness. With both children, I was on anti-nausea medicine until they were born and still vomited often.

Knowing that I was carrying a child, who was thriving and growing because of me, provided a tremendous sense of purpose. I pray that I never forget the feeling of having my two newborn babies placed on my chest, skin-to-skin, still slick yet beautifully sticky.

I want another baby.

I went into labor with Katie for the first time at 24 weeks.  I was ultimately put on full bedrest and still went into labor and delivery eleven times, where they had to work to stop my labor.  Thankfully, I was never on bedrest with Matthew, but the contractions began in earnest at 26 weeks.

I will never forget their first kicks, those tiny flutters that proved they were there.  I will never forget delivering them.  Their births were perfection.  Absolute perfection.

I want another baby.

When we brought Matthew home, I cried every night, worrying that I had selfishly turned our world upside down.

Now, when I see them together, I realize that those fears have washed away.  Katie adores Matthew and clamors to comfort him or make him happy.  They giggle together and their connection deepens each day.  It is clear that they have grown to need each other.

I want another baby.

I will be (gulp) 40 next year.  We’ve been so fortunate to have two healthy babies, but with each passing year comes higher risk of us not being so lucky again.

I believe that it is because I started so late that I am a good mom.  I am more patient, more aware of what matters in my life.

I want another baby.

We are fifty percent of the way through potty training.

When am rocking Matthew to sleep at night, I can’t fathom that he’s my last baby. His skin is so soft, his flesh still so squishy, so yielding to my touch.

I want another baby.

There are days when the two children that I already have completely wear me out.  Most nights, I fall into bed and I can barely stay awake long enough to say goodnight to Craig.

In the morning, the sight of Matthew’s face, his immediate desire to nurse, and Katie’s exuberance and delight in starting a new day, bring me joy and purpose like I’ve never known.

I want another baby.

There are days when I am short of patience, when I have to count to ten and remind myself to just breathe.

But, if there is anything in this life that I am certain of, it is that I am a good mother…that I am patient more often than not.

I want another baby.

There are Sunday mornings when I dream of sleeping in.

Then there are Sunday nights, filled with tickles, hugs, laughter, and the knowledge that we are good parents, giving our children a safe and happy childhood.

I want another baby.

Neither getting pregnant, nor staying pregnant come easy to us. With parenting comes never-ending work.

But the nurturing and loving part more than balances it out.

I want another baby.

But do I need another baby?

Here’s where I’m stuck…how do I differentiate between want and need?

How do I know when to quit while I’m ahead?  I have two lovely, healthy children who bring me tremendous happiness.  I get to sleep through the night.  I didn’t get a single stretch mark from either pregnancy.  Surely if I have another baby, that will catch up with me?

How do I know whether or not I’m just being greedy?  If two is wonderful, is three necessarily better?

Would another sibling be a gift to Katie and Matthew, or would it result in them having less? Less time, less opportunity?

Will I regret not having another?

I’m stuck.

And time is not on my side.

Because It Was Grassy and Wanted Wear

I will never forget that sound.

The crunching of the packed snow beneath my feet, dissonant with the throbbing in my ears from my racing heart.

He sought me out.  He wanted my forgiveness.  Wanted to talk to me…to see in my eyes that forgiveness was even possible.

I sought out a safe place to meet him.  Though I knew with certainty that he wouldn’t physically harm me, I feared for my emotional safety.  My aunt provided that shelter.

Fourteen years prior, he shot my father twice and killed him.

I was two.  And in an instant, fatherless.

As I reached to open my aunt’s door, I was stuck between two places.  In that moment, with my hand clenching her doorknob, I could move forward or I could retreat. There simply was no in between.

I pushed the door open and the heat from my aunt’s house engulfed me.

He was there.  Sitting at the table.  I greeted my aunt, shed my coat, and sat opposite him at the table. And I waited.

It wasn’t my turn to talk.

He apologized.  His words were much what I expected them to be.  I knew the story…the reasons for why he did what he did.  They had been the best of friends.

I can still see him, rubbing one of his hands with the other, worrying his skin raw.

But his eyes?  His eyes expressed his sorrow and remorse in a way that his words never could.

I’m not sure I have ever seen eyes as soft as his were in that moment as he sat there, stumbling over his words, looking to me for encouragement to continue speaking.

I let him speak until he was completely deflated…words expelled like air from a balloon overfilled to near bursting.

There was a familiarity about him.  Some part of my brain remembered him.

In that moment I was left to make a choice.  To forgive him or to hang onto my anger and hurt, polishing it until it gleamed with bitterness.

It was the moment to choose whether to set him free of his burden or take that opportunity to make him pay.  To crush his hopes for a release from even a small part of his guilt.

I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  I forgave him.

I made a choice that freed us both.

The easy, predicable choice would have been to hold my anger close, fueling it with thoughts of all that had been ripped from me.

The more difficult choice was to forgive him, to recognize that he was human and that relinquishing my anger would bring me peace unlike anything I had ever known.

His life was already broken.  He would never be the person he was before he killed my father.

But my forgiveness? He sat there and asked it of me.

And offering that it to him was truly the fork in my road.

The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

*The decision to forgive this man who destroyed my family was my choice.  This was the right choice for me.  If I were my grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, or mother, I can’t say that my choice would have been the same.  That is impossible to know.  I can only truly know what is best for me.  I love my family beyond words and their strength astonishes me to this day.

Mama's Losin' It

Throwing Caution to the Wind

Craig and I strive to make healthy food choices for our children.  We realize that it is our responsibility to ensure that they have a healthy attitude toward food and that they make good choices as they grow older.  We’re teaching Katie about serving sizes, which nutrients she gets from each of her foods, and why some foods aren’t great choices.

Having said that, we’ve relaxed the rules a bit this summer.  She had an ice cream cone last week, a lollipop the week before.

We’ve come to realize that a large part of encouraging healthy eating habits is teaching her about moderation in all things.  We worry that if we don’t allow some small indulgences now, she may rebel when we aren’t with her.

So, with that, I present to you the following…

That right there?  That is a small moment.  A small moment of pure joy.

Also?  A guarantee that for a few days, there will be no other treats.  ;)

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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