A Parenting Breakthrough


Focusing on What Matters

Moving Beyond Perfection

The Joy of a Thick Black Pen (My favorite, but those naughty people using the Google search engines would’ve been unspeakably disappointed to land here.)

What is this post about? While going through the linen closet, I happened upon a small beach towel I bought our oldest, Sam, when he was two or three. He’s too tall for the towel now and so is Rebecca, but our youngest, Elissa, is the perfect size.

Once upon a time, I would have been mortified to send Elissa out in public with this towel. Now I simply can’t get overworked about things like properly monogrammed pool gear.

In all seriousness, that towel represents a parenting breakthrough for me. It demonstrates how deeply I accept things I didn’t “get” the first or even second time around. The towel shows me how much I’ve stopped getting distracted by things that JUST DON’T MATTER.

What matters most is that our children are good people, that they know how to treat others, and that they’re safe, healthy, and developing as a members of the community. The rest of it is hogwash—it being the material side of it all like finding the perfect duvet cover for a new bed or buying the cutest backpack. There are other distractions too like making sure they’re in the “right” extra-curricular activities at ALL times and other categories that really come down to worrying about what people think/keeping up with what you think you’re supposed to be doing as the “perfect” parent.

Of course there’s still one subject that I allow myself to obsess over: BABY NAMES! Now that I’ve officially shared my kids’ names on this blog for the first time, I can get my “What am I Supposed to Name Baby #4?” post ready. Until next time . . .

Nina :)

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Nina is a columnist at The HerStories Project and a contributing writer at Kveller.com and Greatnewbooks.org. Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward and have been syndicated in Jewish newspapers across the country. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines, and she loved participating in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother. Nina is a co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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23 Responses to A Parenting Breakthrough
  1. ramblingsfromtheleft
    June 28, 2011 | 10:29 am

    I love this post. It demonstrates how we changed from the first, anxiety ridden baby stage of our life to the reality of … how the hell can I get them ready to go, dress myself and not walk out half-naked. I had a reoccuring dream that I was on the NYC subway late for work, trying to put on my make-up and do my hair when I realized I was in my underwear.

    I was one of those that had one of each and stopped. My brother and his wife went all the way to four and by the time that one was born everyone was non-plussed … he turned out to be the most well adjusted of them all. :)

    I look forward to the baby-name post

    • Nina Badzin
      June 28, 2011 | 3:29 pm

      Love that dream. So classic. I think we all have versions of that one–though I’ve never been on the subway in mine. I guess my life has been way too suburban for that. πŸ˜‰ Loved that about your brother and his wife. Elissa is for sure the easiest going of the bunch. At this rate I’m expecting #4 to take of herself/himself. Just kidding. Sort of.

  2. Anne R. Allen
    June 28, 2011 | 10:39 am

    Figuring out what’s necessary and what’s silly is the mark of maturity. But we have a culture based on advertising, which is based on getting people to act like silly-brained two year olds. (What’s a better example of the “terrible twos” than a Bridezilla–or the Bridezilla’s Mom?) It’s harder and harder to be a grown up in our culture, so it’s such a relief when parents figure out a way to do it.

    • Nina Badzin
      June 28, 2011 | 3:30 pm

      YES– you hit on something with the mention of brides. Weddings are the PERFECT example where perspective gets so out of whack!

  3. Anne Greenwood Brown
    June 28, 2011 | 10:43 am

    Poor Elissa. You know all the other 2-year-olds are talking behind her back at the pool. “Did you see her towel? OMG it’s sooooo 2007…”

  4. LB
    June 28, 2011 | 10:46 am

    Great post Neen! A true inspiration and good lesson for all…but specifically new-be parents!

  5. Lisa Mayers
    June 28, 2011 | 11:25 am

    LOVE it, Nina! I’m with you on finding new clarity and perspective as a parent. It is truly refreshing to let all the nonsense go. And then to take a step back and watch everyone else still caught up in the nonsense.

    • Nina Badzin
      June 28, 2011 | 3:32 pm

      Perfectly stated, babe. Oh–did you see I RT’ed your latest post? Do you know how to check @mentions?

  6. Jenny Phresh
    June 28, 2011 | 12:37 pm

    Great perspective! Hey, maybe you could name your next child “Sam” or “Elissa” (or both!) and that way you could REUSE this towel again and again without the slightest degree of embarrassment!

  7. Cynthia Robertson
    June 28, 2011 | 12:45 pm

    You’ve reached mommy zenhood, Nina.

    Love all the great, funny replies your post inspired. :-)

  8. Julia
    June 28, 2011 | 4:08 pm

    I so agree with this that you said: “What matters most is that our children are good people, that they know how to treat others, and that they’re safe, healthy, and developing as a members of the community.”

    And, also, you didn’t succumb what has been MY downfall: keeping the monogrammed towel for the all-too-full memento boxes. So congrats on that as well. :)

    • Nina Badzin
      June 29, 2011 | 4:48 pm

      Julia–the truth is I keep next to nothing! Of my own either.

  9. julie gardner
    June 28, 2011 | 5:13 pm

    I love the metaphorical nature of this post – and yes, the joy of a thick black pen cannot be measured!

    Cheers to reaching a point in your life – in your parenthood – where you are okay with “less than perfect.”

    In fact, one could make a solid argument that teaching kids to share, to recycle, to reuse that which is still absolutely usable (not to mention adorable) is PERFECT.

    Hand-me-downs are good for the earth and the soul. (not to mention the wallet and the sanity…)

    But you can’t recycle your kids’ names…so now what???

    Can’t wait to read the next Baby Name post πŸ˜‰

    • Nina Badzin
      June 29, 2011 | 4:51 pm

      Julie–yes! Good point about reusing. I didn’t even address that in the post, but I also driven by the idea that we had this perfectly good towel that would otherwise just sit there for no good reason. Love the first sentence of your comment by the way. πŸ˜‰

  10. Rebecca
    June 28, 2011 | 6:28 pm

    Hilarious. And spot-on. Love!!

  11. Sara Grambusch
    June 28, 2011 | 7:10 pm

    I can’t wait to name your baby! That’s what you meant right? πŸ˜‰

    I think the towel with multiple kids names on it is SUPER cute!

  12. Maytal
    June 29, 2011 | 2:01 am

    You are so funny! I love u! Enjoy your blogs and looking forward to see u soon!!!!

  13. Jennifer K
    June 29, 2011 | 1:14 pm

    You are so great a putting things in perspective. Remember when I was putting Romy in $60 pajamas. You put the kibosh on that (after my arguing the benefits to $60 pj’s), very quickly. And thank goodness you did, you saved me a ton of money and grief, after all who wants to hand wash fruit stains!!! Xoxo

  14. Lisa R
    June 29, 2011 | 1:22 pm

    Fantastic post! Love it!

  15. Jane Pirtle
    June 29, 2011 | 3:50 pm

    This made me laugh out loud – love that sharpie!!!

  16. Jack@TheJackB
    June 29, 2011 | 7:49 pm

    If you raise menschen you have done it right or so my grandfather once told me.

  17. Jacy
    July 5, 2011 | 1:05 pm

    Finally getting to read this now…great post, Nina! Always great to keep in mind what really matters.

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