Monday, February 22, 2016

How Being a Mom is Like Being a Teenager Again

Photo © Pixabay
When I was 16, I couldn't wait to become an adult. I imagined an exciting life of travel and new experiences. For a while, I lived an independent life, which of course involved a lot more responsibility that I pictured as a teenager. After having two children, however, I feel like I have regressed slightly! Here are 5 ways being a  mom is like being a teenager again.

1. I live at the mall
As a teenager, I had large blocks of free time, which I ended up spending at the mall because that was the cool thing to do in the 1990s. As an adult, I would normally avoid the mall, but now I end up going around once a week with my two children. Thanks to snowy days and empty afternoons, the mall is one place I can go and walk around with my kids without getting glares from fellow grown-ups. They even have a playground to keep my toddler entertained!

2. No money
In high school, I worked part-time in a picture framing store and in a grocery store but never had a lot of money. Now I work part-time as a freelance writer, but I still don't make any money after paying for part-time child care. This is not necessarily bad, there are lots of fun things you can do without much money. I scour the newspaper for coupons and frequently attend the dollar movie theater near my house --much like when I was a teenager.

3. Driving around for no reason
I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, where we drove around downtown for fun. Downtown was about three square blocks, but it was an enjoyable ride cruising along in my friend's white Camaro. Yes, that's what people do for fun in small towns! Now I still drive around aimlessly, this time in a sensible sedan, as a last-ditch effort to get my children to take a nap.

 4. Always worrying about being normal
In high school, I was always worried about being normal, or at least appearing normal. Now I worry about my children instead. Is it normal for children to eat so much sugar? To be potty trained or not potty trained by now? To have temper tantrums? I live for the bell curve at the doctor's office. As long as they're 50th percentile, I'm happy. I'm not even shooting for the stars, I'm just aiming for average nowadays!

5. Self-conscious about appearance
As a teenage girl, I was self conscious about acne and braces, not to mention my eyeglasses. Eventually, I found my own style in my 20s and 30s. After children, however, I had to say goodbye to pedicures and salon haircuts and hello to Great Cuts. The extra 20 pounds (or, maybe 25) I accumulated after two pregnancies also makes it harder to feel fashionable.

What do you think? Does being a mom make you feel like a teenager again?

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Do We Need Different Diapers for Boys and Girls?

Diaper aisle at Target. Photo © Nina Snyder
Sexism is alive and well in the aisles at Target. Although the retailer took steps to remove gender bias for in their toy aisles, Target is hosting a new gender-based marketing.

A colorful display from Huggies promoted "targeted absorbency" for a new diaper product line. The signage touted center protection for girls in a pink package and up front protection for boys in a blue package.

I reached out to Huggies to get the inside scoop -- pardon the pun -- on the diapers. The diaper manufacturer quietly rolled out the Huggies Little Movers Diaper Pants in October 2015. The diapers are exclusively available at Target and Target.​com in sizes three through six.

As the mother of both a boy and a girl, I have to say it never occurred to me that my son and daughter needed gender-specific diapers. However, it is indisputable that boys and girls have different plumbing for private parts. According to Huggies, customers have responded positively to the diapers.

"We've received a lot of positive feedback from customers,​" said Amie Wentz, Huggies Brand Manager. "One recent reviewer said she 'really noticed that the diaper was wetter in the center and her daughter’s skin was dryer than she experienced with other diapers.​'"

However, I feel like this could be a slippery slope for parents.

Do you need different baby wipes for boys and girls? Floral-scented for girls and patchouli-scented for boys? The possibilities are endless. Frozen-branded toilet paper for girls. Minions-branded toilet paper for boys.

I better stop before I give marketing departments more ideas. Marketing departments love differentiation, the concept of convincing customers they need different products based on traits such as gender or age. At least diapers cost the same for both boys and girls!

While I applauded Target's recent removal of gender-based signs for toys, their shelves are still awash in pink and blue boxes because I don't think toy manufacturers got the memo.

Growing up in the free-spirited '70s, I don't remember gender norms as strictly delineated. While I was never athletically skilled enough to be a proper tomboy, I loved climbing trees and digging up worms in the backyard. I also loved Barbie dolls and would sew the dolls clothes by hand.

However, my parents never bought me a chemistry set that I longed for as an eight-year-old. Although to be honest, I'm not sure if that was sexism or because they were worried I would burn down the house.

Now that I'm a mom, I'm careful not to discourage my son when he is interested in his younger sister's toys or vice versa.

Also, on a practical level, I don't want to buy a whole new set of toys for my daughter when she gets older. She can learn to build with primary-color Legos handed down from her brother instead of pink-and-purple Legos.

What do you think? Do we need different diapers for boys and girls?

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Note: This blog post originally appeared on Dec.  7, 2015, but I have since switched web-hosting services.