Name: Rebecca Christman
Kids: daughters, ages 3 and 1
Works: editor of metroparent magazine, family peacekeeper
Favorite part of being a mom: Spending time laughing and playing with my kids instead of doing housework
Least favorite part about being a mom: The growing pile of unfinished novels on my nightstand
Little known fact: As a perilous thrill-seeker and licensed skydiver, Rebecca previously thought she had career potential as a jumpmaster.
Read "Tales from the Crib" and other parenting columns each month in metroparent in print or online at MilwaukeeMoms.com.
Five years ago, my life changed in every way possible. My daughter was born, and a few short hours later, I was offered a job at Metroparent.
Since then, I’ve chronicled all my parenting growing pains—from my daughter’s bath strike of 2008 to our dead (and secretly replaced) pet fish a few months ago. I have shared with you the highlights of newborns, the challenges of toddlers and the struggles of loss.
I’ve been grateful for every chance I’ve had to meet you face-to-face, chat through email or connect on social media. Over the years, I’ve been showered with congratulations and condolences, hopefully with a little laughter along the way.
I’ve said it since the beginning: Parenting is an extreme adventure. And this statement is coming from a former skydiver. And it is worth noting that there is at least some training that comes before you jump out of a plane for the first time. Not so with parenting. Instead of instructional manuals, we get to learn from each other.
While I’ve been honored to serve as MP editor, it’s time for me to start new adventures with my family. I have been humbly inspired and encouraged by all of the MP readers. We really are an amazing community of parents supporting each other as we brave the unknown roads of parenthood.
Hope to run into you on my next adventures!
I always look for opportunities to talk about community with my children. Sometimes, those conversations come up in unexpected ways, like a Halloween event.
My girls and I, along with our friend Jen, have been going to a community pumpkin carving that has become a Halloween tradition. Basically the Pumpkin Pavilion goes like this: Carve a pumpkin, leave it there. That weekend, there is a grand lighting and two nights of a park festival by the light of the pumpkins. On Sunday, if you carved a pumpkin, you can take a pumpkin.
The catch? You don’t have to take YOUR pumpkin.
Last year, we carved three pumpkins: one for Eden (then age 1 ½), one for Anika (then 4) and one for Jen (who likely doesn’t want me to post her age on my blog).
We attended the festival for two days, and the girls could not contain their excitement when they saw their handiwork—OK, my handiwork on their behalf—in the crowd of pumpkins.
Before we went to the initial carving event, I knew I had to have a talk with Anika on the prospect of not getting her pumpkin back. I told her these were pumpkins that our neighborhood carved together and they belong to all of us. Hard to say what she understood, but I had to make sure I repeated that this pumpkin might not come home with us.
Sunday morning came and we went to the park to pick up our pumpkins. I found Anika’s. Found Eden’s. Whew!! Then we looked for Jen’s, which was nowhere to be found. Anika was sad for a moment, but got over it and we chose a different pumpkin to bring to Jen.
A week later, as we were taking a walk, we saw Jen’s pumpkin at a house a few blocks from us. It was magical! Anika saw it first, and the girls jumped for joy to see our friend’s pumpkin again.
I was relieved to have such a tactile, perfect ending to the story of the missing pumpkin. While didn’t get the one we made, someone else loved it, took it home and lit it up. So even though we didn’t get to take the pumpkin, we can share it and admire it with our neighbors, even the ones we haven’t met yet.
I never thought one carved pumpkin could tell my kids that much about what it means to be a part of a something. But at that moment, by the light of that pumpkin on someone’s porch, we all felt it. The kids understood it, even if they were too young to verbalize it.
We were in this together. We were not only part of the event, but also a part of our community of neighbors. There’s no Halloween lesson better than that.
I’ve always been creative with my style, even though I am most at home in my non-trendy staples: a comfy pair of slim blue jeans and a T-shirt. I became “clothing-creative” either out of natural talent or out of necessity. My first job at the burger drive-in didn’t allow me a lot of shopping cash, so I began developing my fashion ideas at the thrift shops.
My current closet is an overload of thrift store finds, hand-me-downs, jeans, dresses, old pieces, new pieces and basically a closet experiment each day. My clothes need to withstand what I call the Real Mom Factor. As a single, working mom, it is essential that my clothes are not only fashionable, but also able to hold up as I chase around a toddler (among my other responsibilities of the day).
Enter Project Closet: I’ve started trimming down the clothing excess by getting rid of what I don’t wear or doesn’t fit. The hardest part has been taking items out of my closet that I love, but that I’ve never been able to make “work” with anything else I own.
So here begins my honest assessment. This fact hurts: While I love my 4” platform lime green sandals, after a foot injury and a back injury while pregnant, the chances are slim I will ever wear them again. Chances are slimmer I can keep up with my active girls while wearing them. Since I came to terms with that, they’ve been living in a nostalgic box in the top shelf of my closet, along with most of my highest high heels.
In my 20s, I lived in huge heels, bright platforms and patterned Mary Janes, also with platform heels, of course. These days, I need something with a little more support and stability. I’m always on the lookout for cute flats at a reasonable price. (This is, by the way, practically impossible.)
I walk my daughter to school, walk back, run my other daughter to daycare, park at work and walk two blocks into the office. Even my most comfortable flats can’t stand up to that kind of morning. So I usually wear my favorite pair of running shoes—which came from a rummage sale of a well-intentioned runner who never hit the pavement.
Every day, I faithfully pack a second pair of shoes. Today I forgot them. Luckily for me, I have two pairs of shoes under my desk. Unluckily, it’s just another pair of sneakers and some zebra-striped flats, which I’m certain will put my outfit into pattern overload today.
I wasn’t going to post a picture today, because:
1. I forgot my “real” work shoes at home.
2. I have a mysterious white spot on the bottom of my dress—even though I washed it yesterday.
3. There was cheese on my sweater jacket—because my younger daughter insists on have a cup of shredded cheese each morning.
4. I’m really, really tired and forgot all my accessories on the kitchen table.
5. Posting a picture on Monday implies that I had the forethought to put my outfit together over the weekend.
But, what the heck. I’ll post it because:
1. I love the dress I’m wearing today (even though I think it needs a belt).
2. It’s an honest look at mom style (as unsuccessful as it sometimes may be).
3. I switched outfits 20 minutes before I left the house today. And it doesn’t get more real than that.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. My daughter’s school sent home a letter requesting that everyone to wear blue on Monday in support of it.
My daughter, Anika, started K4 this year, so (happily) the term bullying doesn’t mean anything to her just yet.
Me: “OK, let’s pick out our blue shirts for tomorrow!”
Me: “Everyone at school is going to wear blue in support of bullying prevention!”
Anika “What’s bullying pre-men-tion?”
One of the things I’m good at as a parent is answering the hard questions. In fact, I’d say I’m a pro when the question game starts.
But this time, I didn’t want to answer. This time, I don’t want to think of my daughter having to deal with bullying. I want to imagine her view of the world as one of happier things, like rainbows and kitties…. just a little longer. I want her biggest problem of the day to be whether we cut her sandwich in half on an angle or not. I want her worst frustrations to be that her little sister is sitting a little too close to her. (In Anika’s defense, her little sister DOES like to invade her personal space. A lot.)
But the truth is, she’s wiser than that, even at the age of 5. So I answered as best I could.
Me: “Well, bullying is when kids aren’t nice to each other. So we wear blue today to remember that kids should be nice to everyone.”
Anika: “Why wouldn’t kids be nice?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Anika: “That’s funny, Mom. Can I wear a blue shirt with a pink sweater, because I really wanted to wear pink today.”
Me: “Ummm… sure.”
Anika: “OK, then here is the blue shirt I want to wear.”
And it was that simple. While the big picture makes me reflective, my daughter really is only concerned with how to work pink into her outfit du jour. So I guess it’s pretty good after all…. For a little longer.
It was more than 15 years ago, but I used to enjoy running. Most of the time, I started my day with a run by the lakefront.
About 14 years ago, I had a freak accident and subsequent hip surgery, leaving my right leg less mobile by 5%. It may not sound like much, but it means while I regained 95% range of movement through intense physical therapy, I can still tell you when it’s going to rain due to the pressure in my hip joint.
My post-surgery life, 13 years ago, revolved around physical therapy, and teaching myself how to walk with a “new leg.” While I don’t walk with an obvious limp anymore, a first-year physical therapist will notice my gait is one of someone who has had surgery. Since my eventual recovery, I have been active on a variety of levels, but never returned to running.
Surgery on a major joint will change your life, but 5 years ago it changed even when my first child was born. Just about every element of my pre-baby life was different. All exercise was put on hold—but not for lack of trying. Every attempt to exercise was a fail, starting with my first attempt to do post-baby sit-ups as I wrote about in this blog post.
Three years ago, I was pregnant with my second daughter. I sustained a foot injury and a spine injury. When I wasn’t on prescribed bed rest, my pregnancy was spent on crutches due a foot sprain and a spinal injury. It was back to the all-too-familiar physical therapist’s office.
After my daughter was born two-and-a-half years ago, my body felt weaker than ever. It was a sign to start making some major life changes (as if having two kids isn’t enough of a change).
And last year, I made a promise to myself to get back to the gym. That was going well, and I began regaining my strength.
A few months ago, I did what I once told myself I’d never do again. I started running. First on a treadmill, but it was outside when the magic happened. I didn’t need a fancy (or non-fancy) gym membership. All I needed was a pair of sneakers and fresh air. My legs could do the rest!
I started slow, and prepared to fail. After all, I thought there was no real way my leg could undertake this endeavor. Turns out it could. And I’ve been running almost every day since.
In three days, I’ll be running my first 5K. In the mud. My daughters are not sure why I signed up for The Dirty Girl Mud Run, but I couldn’t be more excited, and nervous, for the event. It’s been a long road to get here.
Yep, the girl who never thought she could run is officially at it again. In the end, maybe all I needed to get back to running was two fairly working legs, two sneakers, fresh air… and some mud.
What happens behind closed doors? I'm not exactly sure, but in our house it involved toilet paper and a lot of water.
Yes, my 2-year-old has learned how to close and lock the bathroom door.
I see it a little insight to my kids as teenagers, but when I gave Eden a time-out, she got up screaming and ran through the house to the bathroom, closed the door‑and that’s when I heard it: Click. She locked the door!
Unsure of what to do next, I jiggled the old door in hopes that the lock didn’t work and things were not what they seemed. Not the case. While I kept my cool calm demeanor in front of my older daughter, Anika, I was frantic inside.
Whether by will or circumstance, it didn’t seem like she wanted to or was able to come out of the bathroom. I got the toolbox. I told Anika that we would be removing the handle, or maybe even the bathroom door.
“Mom?!? That seems hard,” Anika observed, in a bit of a panic herself.
“Don’t worry, Anika,” I said. “Mommy will fix it. We can’t just let her stay in there, so I’m going to start with the doorknob."
Anika, often the voice of reason, said, “Why don’t you ask her to open it?”
Well, of course, it couldn’t be that easy. Eden did run into the bathroom out of protest. Does she know how to unlock it? Maybe not. Has she been trying to get out with no success? Possibly! My baby could be stuck, upset or scared.
But, to show my daughter that her voice counts, I agreed.
“Sure, let’s ask her first.” With screwdriver in hand, I leaned into the door. “Eden, open the door.”
Her tiny vice echoed from the inside “OK!”
The door opened, and Eden calmly walked to her her sister. Hand in hand, they went into their room to play with their dolls.
Now that I knew Eden was OK, it was time to investigate the bathroom. Every roll of toilet paper was floating in the toilet. While it’s not what I wanted to see, I knew it could have been a lot worse. I packed the kids up and we went to the store to buy some new toilet paper—which I resolve to keep in a higher shelf from now on.