Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

For the soon-to-be mothers

Monday, April 27, 2015
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I could write a novella on the first few months after having your first baby. Instead, I mostly settle on gabbing to friends and family for long after their eyes glaze over with boredom. Maybe I love sharing stories and comparing notes so much because it was truly an experience for which I could have in no way prepared myself and it was the most amazing and challenging thing I have ever done.

I have several friends who are expecting, so I’m jumping at my chance to share my take on the experience of becoming a new mom. Since, having an 8-month-old, I’m a resident expert. (HA! Complete sarcasm.) As I mentioned, I could go on about this for days, but for the time being, I’ll stick to a few random thoughts and snippets of unsolicited advice.

Although I knew having a child came with a recovery period, I was completely unprepared for the difficulty of recovery. After being on bed rest for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I wanted to be up on my feet and moving, but I was in pain. It’s something no one talks about, maybe because no one wants to scare the soon-to-be mom. I was in pain for much longer than I expected. But I eventually recovered and got back to feeling like my normal self.

Don’t worry about dressing nicely or putting on makeup. For some crazy reason, while I was on maternity leave, and not leaving the house at all, I would put on uncomfortable clothes and makeup. Waste of time. Waste of makeup. You will miss those days where you could be in your pajamas with your hair in a knot all day. Yes, I know I did it to feel more like the normal “me” again, but looking back, I wonder why I wasted my time (and added to my laundry).

Invest in the nursing bras. Yes they are ugly. Yes you will need them. Don’t make your husband navigate the maternity store by himself after you’ve had your baby because you didn’t buy any beforehand…

Another investing tip – if you think you need it, and you can afford it, just buy it. If you end up not using it, you can return it. It’s frustrating, especially for a frugal gal like myself, but in my experience, life is easier when I just bite the bullet and buy four different types of bottles to find which one the baby likes, rather than trying to force her to drink from the one you bought but she hates.

You will get frustrated. You will cry. You will think, “What were we thinking? How on earth did we think we were ready for this?” Or maybe you are a much stronger person than me and taking care of a newborn will be a breeze. But, if not, just know you are not alone. You will have times when you know you should be “enjoying every minute” because “it goes by too fast” but you haven’t slept in 24 hours, you can’t remember when or what you ate last, and the baby has been crying nonstop for two hours because she has acid reflux. It’s okay to not enjoy that time. Just know, it will pass. It will pass! And likely, later than evening (or morning), when your baby finally goes to sleep, you will rock her for a few extra minutes because you don’t want to let her go.

That said, it really does go by too fast! Enjoy every minute (that you can)! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tearing up writing this post and remembering all the things that were so difficult at the time, but now are fond memories. Having a newborn was nothing like what I expected; it was so much better.

Last but not least, follow a few mommy blogs :) They will lift your spirits, connect you to moms facing the same challenges and experiences, and are great for late-night feedings.

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

On Memories and Possibilities

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
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Memories are such strange possessions.

Of the thousands of daily conversations and brief encounters we experience, we only manage to carry a limited number with us into the future.

Even the most meaningful events tend to hide in the background of the new experiences that consume us during the simple act of daily living.

Some memories are sewn tightly into the fabric of everyday life while others only emerge decades later to be taken out, reexamined, and recognized for their significance.

And so it was for me last week.

My daughter, who will be starting high school in only a few months, is on a mission to identify her future career.

time machineI don’t like to brag, but I can’t deny the fact that she is extremely smart and excels academically.

And yet, like her mother, she isn’t drawn to a career that has much potential to be  financially lucrative.

She wants to write for a living.

If she can’t do that, she wants a career that somehow embraces the arts. Money isn’t important to her. Expressing herself is.

I could tell her “Been there. Done that. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” but I know my words would have as much influence as, well, those of the mother of any 13-year-old girl.

But my daughter isn’t any 13-year-old girl. She’s my daughter, and I want her life to be easier and even more meaningful than mine has been.

Yet all I can do is provide expectations for her current life, emotional support for her life’s journey and a bit of advice based on my memories.

And sometimes those memories aren’t all that wonderful, because pursuing your passion instead of a paycheck often requires sacrifice.

At the same time, another memory has surfaced – one that has been hidden for decades.

I was about the same age that my daughter is now when my dad made a tough decision about his own career. He had just accepted a job that would require his family to move across the country.

I was sitting at our round, wooden table while my mom fixed dinner, and Dad stood in the middle of the kitchen contemplating the enormity of his decision.

“I’m not just making this decision for me,” he said. “I’m making it for everyone whose life I touch. The people whom our kids marry could be affected by my taking a job in West Virginia.”

I’ve been reminded of those words during my recent conversations with my daughter – not because I’m worried about her future marriage possibilities but because I’m reminded of the enormity of decisions my children are currently facing. Where they go to college and what they choose to study will set each of them on their own life path. That path will not be a straight line. There will be plenty of curves and detours and bumps. But that path currently has multiple potential starting points. The starting point they each select will influence the people they meet, the values they develop, and the passions they pursue.

When I close my eyes and remember the concern in my father’s voice as he talked about his decision to change jobs and move, I also remember the child I was who listened to those words. I couldn’t believe my dad was even thinking about his children getting married. To me, marriage was a vague concept that resided in the very distant future.

Now, as a parent, I realize how quickly the years can rush by, and I understand my father’s concerns. I also know that our move to West Virginia did affect whom I married. What I can never know is how different my life may have been if we had stayed in Oregon or moved to another state. Just like our memories, possibilities that never happened are a part of life and a part of whom we become.

As a mom, I’m responsible for helping my children understand that making tough decisions is all about choosing robert frostwhich possibilities they are willing to give up in order to embrace the possibilities on which they will build a life.

It’s my toughest job and the pay, like so  many others I’ve held, is lousy.

But the memories I’m making along the way are very, very rich indeed.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

A trip to the zoo

Monday, April 20, 2015
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Normally, taking AJ out in public involves a bit of anxiety on my part. It’s not that it is all that difficult, or that she doesn’t behave well, it’s just that I’m still getting used to doing it. I’m still learning how to balance enjoying myself and tending to AJ’s needs. Usually when we get home I breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why I even bothered dragging us out at all.

This weekend, we took AJ to the Columbus Zoo. It wasn’t until after we left that it hit me – I actually had a good time.

In typical parent fashion, we got to the zoo an hour and a half later than we originally planned. The day was sunny and beautiful and it was obvious the place was already packed. We parked our car and unloaded our bags, packed with enough supplies to survive approximately 56 hours should we have to shelter in place…because you never know what will happen and heaven forbid you end up in a pubic place without a baby wipe.

At the entrance gates, we watched as a sea of strollers poured over each other. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many strollers in one place. Umbrella strollers, all-terrain strollers, jogging strollers, double strollers, even a triple stroller (with the cutest triplet babies taking their naps). And then we noticed the wagons. Wagons galore. Wagons with children, wagons with coolers, wagons with toys. So many wagons I convinced myself we must need a wagon.

Despite the crowd, we got in with ease. We wandered past bears, elephants, penguins and more. If you asked AJ about the trip, she would probably say (if she could talk) that she saw a lot of crazy creatures running around and chasing after their young. Since she was confined to the stroller most of time her main viewing attraction was the people. And there were people everywhere. Parents and families of all shapes and sizes moved past us in waves, all looking at maps and yelling back at a wandering child to stay with mommy.

All this controlled chaos might seem like it would make for a stressful trip, but I think I was the most relaxed I have ever been taking AJ out in public. I didn’t need to worry about if the stroller would fit where we wanted to go. I didn’t feel self-conscious when we spread out our baby supplies at lunch, filling an entire six-seat table. When I went to the bathroom to change AJ, the changing table was in a logical spot (for once). And the last thing I was worried about was her crying.

When I took a close look around me, I noticed many moms nursing, changing diapers and otherwise taking care of their children while those who passed didn’t even blink. I wasn’t the only one who took advantage of the crowd as a bit of privacy and was able to simply take care of her child and enjoy the day.

Although AJ is too young to really know what was happening, I think she had a good time. She made her happy screeching sounds many a time and took a nice long nap for the better part of the afternoon.

And last but not least (although now that I look back, I’m embarrassed about this one), I completely embraced my mom status and busted out the selfie stick for a few family photos.

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

Motherhood is…

Monday, April 13, 2015
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Motherhood is…

Not changing after your baby wipes snot on your shoulder right before you leave the house for work.

Discussing mundane topics like baby food for hours on end with your fellow moms and not running out of things to say.

Cleaning your bathrooms on a Saturday night and enjoying the feeling of finally having some time to get the house in order.

A constant backache from bending over, lifting, and carrying.

Never having enough room on your phone for all the photos and videos.

Always stressing out over something to do with your child, consciously or subconsciously.

Wondering what on earth you ever did with your time before you had kids.

Spending an evening doing what you did before you had kids and realizing it’s as not fun or fulfilling anymore.

Feeling like you’ve won the lottery when you get five hours of solid sleep.

Buying clothes that are comfortable enough to be slept in yet acceptable enough to wear to the grocery store.

Crying when you find out you have to go out of town for work, because you hate every moment you have to be away.

Enjoying the time you do get to yourself, but in the back of your mind you are counting the minutes until you see your family again.

Googling phrases such as, “Why won’t my 8-month-old sleep all night?” and finding thousands of hits.

Showering a bit less than you used to.

Your heart melting every time your baby gives you one of her perfect smiles.

Motherhood is…exhausting, joyous, challenging, wonderful.

Where I Come From

Friday, April 10, 2015
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past-present-futureAt some point during my formative years, I began asking “where did I come from?”

I wasn’t curious about biology and human reproduction. Well, that’s not exactly true. I was curious about biology and human reproduction, but I was even more curious about my family history.

Perhaps my interest was piqued by peers who proclaimed they were descendants of famous historical figures. I was convinced that my family tree was a common Elm while everyone else’s was a Giant Sequoia.

All these years later, I’m inclined to think my classmates had active imaginations and an innate ability to stretch the truth. But at the at the time, I just wanted to be related to someone famous.

“Your great-grandmother was a Houston, and you’re related to Sam Houston,” my mother told me. That wasn’t a lie. I am related to Sam Houston. I’m just not related to THE Sam Houston. My pedigree, or lack of it, had been confirmed. I was a mutt.

Decades later, before the birth of my son, my interest in family history was renewed.

There is something about babies that binds us to our past. We realize that our existence is completely dependent on previous generations and that we will forever be connected to people we never met.

As I began to pursue my family’s history, so did my husband, although he had an unfair advantage.

His uncle Jack was so passionate about genealogy that he actually wrote a book about the family patriarch who moved from Bavaria, Germany to the small village of Shepherdstown, West Virginia only to be thrust into battle during the Civil War. It was a good story, and my husband took pride in his Bavarian roots. So much so that he was excited when he submitted his DNA to his surname family group in Bavaria. He knew he would discover even more about his family.

He did find out more – just not in the way he expected.

“Your DNA doesn’t match anyone in this group,” he was told. “Do you want us to expand the search outside of the surname and the region?”

He agreed while still insisting that he was German. When the results came back indicating he had roots in Denmark, he blamed the Vikings.

“They pillaged German villages all the time,” he said. “Denmark borders Germany. I’m sure the Vikings  invaded a Bavarian village and that’s why I’m showing Danish and not German blood.”

I tried to politely suggest that one of his grandfathers had been adopted or that maybe, just maybe, one of his great grandmothers had fooled around a bit.

He wouldn’t hear of it. The paternal side of his family was German, and no one would convince him otherwise.

Even when his mother bought him a Viking hat for his birthday, he refused to see any humor in the discrepancy between what the family tree said and what his DNA indicated. He may have Danish blood, but he will always be German.

He has a valid point.

DNA may provide the genetic code for the color of our eyes, our skin tone, and even our predisposition for medical conditions, but the core of who we are is so much bigger than that.

Just as none of us would be whom we are without our DNA or ancestral heritage, neither would we be whom we are without people who gave a piece of themselves to us.

I am a compilation of all the people who believed in me, challenged me and, most importantly, loved me.

The person I am today came from the elderly neighbors who provided a refuge when I ran away from home on a regular basis as a child. The person I am today came from the teachers who chose to see beyond my academic performance and also wanted to nurture my creative and empathetic tendencies. The person I am today came from all the people who hurt, betrayed and abandoned me and from the people who encouraged, supported, and loved me during those same times.

The person I am today could never give a simple answer to the question “where did I come from?” No biology lesson or family tree can even begin to describe where I came from. Only my relationships and the stories I pass on to my children can do that.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Mommy fails (continued)

Monday, April 6, 2015
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AJ,

It’s me, mom, again. You may remember I once shared some of my mommy fails from our first months together. Well, I think it’s time for another round. I’m happy to say we are still a good team. We are having a lot of fun together, and I’m getting better at this whole “mom” thing. But I’m far from perfecting my craft. So here’s a few more of my “mommy fails”:

By the time we get home, I never remember what was written on your chart at day care. So when your daddy asks me questions like, “Did she nap well today?” my response is usually along the lines of, “Oh, sure…you know…” This also means I can never remember that you ran out of diapers or clothes.

You’ve decided to rebel against diaper changes by arching your back, screaming, turning over and trying to crawl off the changing table. One day, you were being so difficult I decided to just put your diaper on backwards. It still did its job.

I let the dog lick your face and hands more than I should. I’m just happy she’s finally decided to like you.

Little did I know that blowing my nose would be the scariest thing on earth to you. After I did it, your face twisted into a complete look of terror and you started crying like you thought I was hurt. I felt bad that I thought it was really cute.

Whenever you are fussy I sing about what I am doing to try to get you to calm down. I do this so much, I recently found myself singing in the lunch line at a work meeting.

You have a wide selection of headbands and bows, but I rarely remember to put one on you. You’ve only been mistaken for a boy a couple of few times.

And last but not least – we were in the bathroom and as I was drawing your bath, I looked back to find you licking the toilet. I have nothing more to say about that one.

I’m still trying my hardest to do my best for you, and you are a great baby. I hope one day you will look back at these stories and laugh at your crazy mom.

Love,

Mommy

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

The Tooth Fairy

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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There are some parental roles I never mastered.

Playing the Tooth Fairy is one.

I should have known it was going to be problematic the day my son lost his first tooth.

He literally lost it.

He was on the playground in kindergarten, and I never got the full story about exactly what happened. The tooth (2)tooth may have fallen into a pile of mulch while he was on the swings, or he may have swallowed it while going down the slide. I don’t know. I suspect the latter because when my husband and I tried to convince our son that the tooth fairy would find his tooth anyway, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.

That was the start of my short-lived and very spotty career as the Tooth Fairy.

Losing a tooth was never a big deal for my children because it likely led to disappointment.

Sometimes, one of my children would put a tooth under his or her pillow. More often, they didn’t.

They knew that sometimes the Tooth Fairy remembered to replace the tooth with money and sometimes she didn’t.

When I did remember to take the tooth, I never knew what I was supposed to do with it.

Other parents told me that they kept their children’s baby teeth, but that seemed kind of disgusting to me. I couldn’t imagine a day when I would look at a tiny tooth and get all nostalgic.

That was back in the days when I didn’t realize how quickly the years would fast forward to a time when the cost of college tuition was a much bigger concern than how much the tooth fairy should pay. That was also back in the days when I didn’t give any consideration to the fact that I would someday have to seek professional assistance to remove my child’s teeth.

Last fall, when our dentist advised me that my 16-year old son needed to consult an oral surgeon about having his wisdom teeth removed, I was sure he was going to add “in five years.”

He didn’t.

And so, a few months later, I was trying to get my son to wake up after his first experience with anesthesia.

I could poke fun at how he behaved, but he really didn’t act much differently than normal. He wanted to sleep, and he wanted his parents to leave him alone.

The only surprising moment occurred as we were leaving.

I was handed a small paper envelope and told that it contained my son’s wisdom teeth.

“He wanted to keep them,” the oral surgeon said.

I stuck the envelope in my purse and immediately forgot about it. I certainly didn’t think that my son wanted his teeth so he could put them under his pillow in hopes that the Tooth Fairy would make one final appearance.

He and I both knew that my dismal performances as the Tooth Fairy were a thing of the past.

We didn’t realize I had one final curtain call.

A couple of months after my son’s surgery, I was checking out at the local grocery store when I was asked for my bonus card. I keep it attached to my key ring, which I had misplaced somewhere in my purse. I put my purse on the ledge by the debit card scanner as I searched. When I pulled out my keys in triumph, two large obviously adult human teeth popped out and onto the conveyor belt.

I couldn’t look at the clerk’s face as I scooped up the teeth and threw them randomly back in my purse.

I couldn’t look at her face as I handed her my key ring.

I couldn’t even look at her face when I paid for my purchase.

The only thing I could do was try to regain some semblance of pride while assuring the clerk that I wasn’t a complete freak.

“Being the Tooth Fairy can be a messy and sometimes embarrassing job,” I said as I walked away.

I didn’t need to look back. I knew the young woman couldn’t understand.

But someday, in the rapidly approaching future, she probably will.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Out of hibernation

Monday, March 30, 2015
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“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.” – Lilly Pulitzer

With our quest to avoid cold weather and the flu, we fell into a hibernation-like state this winter. Most days we didn’t make it anywhere but work and day care, and for a couple weeks in February we didn’t even make it to those places.

I don’t care if it’s cliché; I am not a fan of winter. So, as April descends upon us, my heart beats with the flutter of anticipation for hot weather and long days.

March gave us a few warm(ish) days and a few more cold days, and while the weather has a long way to go to my ideal (85 and sunny please), I can finally feel the fresh air of spring.

This spring is extra special because it is my first one with AJ. I’m determined to get outside and avoid the monotonous weekday routine. Our house might end up a wreck, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay. Here’s what we have on the agenda for spring:

First and foremost, we plan to get outside as much and as often as possible. We made it to the park on the warm days in March, and the sight of teenagers playing basketball, kids riding their Christmas bikes for the first time, dogs crazy with freedom and everything in between felt like fresh air to my lungs. AJ is big enough to sit in her stroller without the car seat now, so she can see the world around her. She loves going on walks and runs and it’s an activity I plan to incorporate into our daily routine.

We are planning to start swim “lessons” this spring. I was amazed to find out babies as young as 6-months-old can participate in swim lessons. Naturally it will be more about getting used to the water rather than learning any strokes. This will be our first out-of-the-house parent/child structured activity and I’m looking forward to it.

Another goal for spring is to go somewhere to see animals. Ideally, I’d like to make a trip to a zoo, but if that doesn’t work out I will try to find somewhere local. AJ loves our dog and cat and I think she would enjoy getting to meet new types of animals.

Unexpectedly, running errands with AJ has become a fun activity. When she was a newborn, it wasn’t hard to take her places because she mostly just slept, but the window of time in between feedings was too short to get anything accomplished. In the winter, I simply avoided taking her out at all. Now that I don’t have to worry about bundling her up Randy-from-Christmas-Story-style, it’s slightly easier to get out of the house. Yesterday, we made a Target run, and she had a blast sitting in the child seat of the cart and looking around. And she hasn’t entered the temper-tantrum stage, so for now, running errands can be a nice way to get out of the house.

Moms, what activities do you have planned for your babies this spring? Are there any activities for babies less than 1-year-old that you would recommend?

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

Flights and crying babies

Monday, March 23, 2015
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As I sat in my compact aisle seat, turning my phone on airplane mode, I heard it – the cries of a baby. And this one was producing shrieks so high and shrill they were previously thought impossible for human ears to detect. I heard heavy sighs and mumbles around me from passengers, lamenting their bad luck to be stuck on a plane with a baby.

That day’s plane ride ended up going fairly well. The baby only shrieked at the beginning and end of the flight. I was headed out of town for work, and was already missing my own little one. I was thankful the baby behaved well – not because I shared the same exasperated feelings as my fellow travelers, but because my own defenses were unnecessarily built up. I had prepared myself for one of my neighbors to make a sly comment about that baby or her momma, and I was ready to stand up for that mother in any way I could.

I know I am in the minority in my view on this topic, but crying babies (or toddlers) on planes do not bother me. Yes, there has been a time or two when a particularly horrific tantrum has set me on edge, but I try to hide it, because I don’t believe in being rude about babies on planes. Here’s why:

First of all, empathy is a marvelous thing, and showing some can help us be more understanding when we hear those cries. There are at least two people who need empathy in this situation: the baby, and his or her parent(s). In the experience relayed above, we were on a 7 a.m. flight. I asked myself: how many people are sitting on this flight, grumpy, tired, and/or going on a trip they’d rather not take? We all get a little cranky by the time we get on the plane, and babies are no exception. A crying baby is no worse than the rest of us, we as adults just keep our grievances silent (or, worse than crying, we sometimes take our grievances out on those around us).

Second, the mom, dad or whoever is with said baby deserves some empathy. I know some people think they would put a stop to such “bad” behavior, but I’ve never pretended I would know what to do with a screaming toddler. And anyone that is judging and has young children of his or her own…that’s just asking for bad karma. I know it’s not always the case, but I believe most parents are trying everything they can to keep their child calm, and it’s not like they can walk to another room.

Others might think that parents who know their child will not do well should not take them on a flight. Many may assume that if someone is on a flight with a child, they are going on vacation. That is far from true. I’ve learned that people fly for business, for pleasure, for duties and because of tragedies. You never know when someone is flying to bury a relative, or visit a sick friend. BUT, say those parents ARE going on vacation – families can take vacations that require flights too, and shouldn’t have to think about whether or not it inconveniences someone else.

And that brings me to my third and final point. Flying, while expensive, is a form of public transportation. And public transportation is not ideal when it comes to comfort or privacy. Flying comes with many inconveniences, all of which can be avoided by seeking alternate transportation.

I have not taken my baby on a plane yet. When the time comes, yes I will be stressed out. Yes, I will care what other people will think. And yes, I will expect people to get annoyed, and even make comments, if she starts to cry (see comment above – the price to pay for taking public transportation). But you won’t find me passing out candy and headphones to everyone on the plane. I’ll try my best to keep my child calm and happy, and if she throws a tantrum, I will be the most upset person on the flight. Those thoughts are what help me remain calm when I hear the cries of someone else’s baby on a plane.

The Personality Test

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
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I was feeling a bit stressed when my cell phone buzzed.

I gave it a brief glance thinking I wouldn’t answer. Then I noted that my 13-year old daughter was calling.

The clock showed 2:45, and she normally doesn’t call as soon as school lets out. I knew something had happened.

In that short span of time between noticing the caller i.d. and actually answering the phone,  I racked my brain for what I had, or hadn’t, done that had caused my latest parenting fail.

I expected drama on the other end of the phone. Instead, I got excitement.

My daughter was actually bubbling over with enthusiasm.

“Mom, she said, “we took a personality test in class today, and I’m an INFJ.”

She then regaled me with the positive and negative traits of her personality.

I was impressed. She WAS describing herself.

When she finally took a breath, she asked, “What are you?”

While I’ve taken the Myers Briggs test on more than one occasion, I couldn’t answer her question.

“I don’t know.” I said.

She was silent for a moment then said, “I thought you’d taken this test before.”

“It’s complicated,” I said.

I thought that put the matter to rest, but as soon as I said goodbye, my phone started buzzing again.

This time, I was receiving a text message from my husband.

“Your daughter and I are diplomats and your son is a virtuoso. Me – INFP; S- ISTP; K – INFJ.”

Despite my busy day at work, I felt compelled to text back.

“You bunch of introverts,” I replied.

My husband’s response was  predictable.

“What are you?”

I responded. “I forget.”

Here’s the thing. I hadn’t necessarily forgotten, I simply didn’t know.

On each occasion I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality test, I’ve gotten a different answer.

That isn’t supposed to happen.

Personalities are supposed to be as stable as DNA. People are who they are. At least, they are who they are except for me.

While some people might think my inability to hold on to a defined personality means I’m unbalanced, I prefer to think that I’m a complicated individual who has a difficult time answering a question in a concrete manner.

There’s  always an “it depends.” It depends on the situation. It depends on my mood. Mostly, it depends on how much attention I’m actually paying to the questions being asked.  My mind has a tendency to wander when it comes to details.

My family wanted the details about my personality anyway.

I hadn’t even closed the garage door after arriving home from work when my daughter was already thrusting the computer at me. She insisted that I once again take the test.

As I did, she sat perched by my shoulder commenting on every answer.

The Question: “You usually think a lot before you speak.”

Me:” Disagree somewhat”

My daughter: “STRONGLY DISAGREE”

The Question: “You do not let your emotions show, even with close friends.”

Me: (I don’t have time to answer before my daughter yells).

My daughter: STRONGLY, STRONGLY, STRONGLY DISAGREE.

I began to think my daughter should just take the test for me, but instead we forged on together.

Later, I went back and took the test by myself. The result was the same.

For the moment, I’m an ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). Apparently, that  means I have “extraverted intuition with introverted feeling.”

I have absolutely no idea what that means.

I’m hoping my daughter, the INFJ (the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) can explain it to me.

If not, I may just have to continue to stumble through life just being myself.

That has, after all, worked fairly well for the past 48 years.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.