Archives For Kids

Written by a mom to her children, and anyone else who feels like reading.

By now you’ve come to realize that there are good days and there are bad days.

With as hard as I try, it’s nearly impossible for me to remember what I considered to be bad days when I was your age. I imagine my worst days involved feeling rejected by someone I thought I wanted to like me, not achieving something that I worked really hard for, finishing in second place when I knew I could be first, seeing someone I cared about get hurt, trying to find my way in a sometimes chaotic world, losing control of my car on black ice, dissolving a long-lasting relationship, and saying goodbye to my childhood dog.

The bad days, even though small in number compared to the good, were still really hard to get through. I will try not to minimize your woes if you come to me for guidance.

You’re growing up with challenges I never personally faced. Although it is impossible for you to wrap your minds around this, I remember a time before computers, cell phones, and social media. I’m part of the last generation who knows what it was like to grow up offline.

While I won’t understand every obstacle you’ve faced or have yet to scale, I do know this: both the best of times and the worst of times are yet to come. I guarantee you that.

The only way for me to explain that bold statement is by recounting my own personal experiences.

At your age, I thought I knew what it was like to feel everything very deeply. With each passing year, however, I am exposed to more beauty and tragedy than I ever realized was possible.

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…on top of the world. Until I discovered how it feels to watch someone you love achieve their own success in life.

…extreme pride. Until I received a compliment about how you treat others when I am not watching.

…heartache. Until I read a story about a dad tossing his 5-year old daughter off a bridge for no apparent reason.

…trustworthy. Until I had to find a way to allow others to keep you safe when I couldn’t be there myself.

…helpless. Until I watched your grandma, my mom, slowly suffer on the liver transplant list with a rare blood type that was hard to match.

…selfless. Until I learned about the young man who gave part of himself to give your grandma new life.

…cheated. Until I lost my grandma far too soon.

…loved. Until I sat with you in bed every night reflecting on how our days went and talking about the future.

…confused. Until I witnessed you playing Minecraft.

…spiritual. Until I eavesdropped on your prayers.

…embarrassed. Until I learned about you publicly relieving yourself at recess on school grounds.

…clueless. Until I watched you run football drills.

…pressure. Until I had to pay the bills.

…disgusted. Until I saw you lick the floor of Target.

I wish I could bubble wrap the absolute best parts of life and store them away for safekeeping. I also wish I could shield you from the tragedy and despair you’ll inevitably face. The best I can do is help prepare you for both.

I promise to always offer you my ears to listen, my shoulder to lean on, and my unsolicited advice. I imagine you’ll appreciate two out of the three of those.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I’m coming to you from a water park somewhere in the Midwest. It doesn’t matter exactly where because I imagine the same scene could unfold all across America.

I feel like I need to set the stage by announcing that I am by no means a germaphobe. In fact, I just returned a basket of french fries because I found a hair resting ever so gently on top of one. I had already eaten about a fourth of the basket by that point. Instead of complaining to the vendor about how disgusting and unsanitary it was, I just swapped it out for a new basket…no questions asked.

Yep, the writer behind Maternal Media is super gross. And she loves french fries. Preferably hairless ones.

Now that we’re all on the same page with how low my cleanliness standards are, picture this if you will: I am elbow-to-elbow with a boatload of other families in January in Nebraska doing what we do to entertain our kids. Our options are limited with wind chill temperatures averaging between negative 20-30 degrees below zero.

My son, along with a group of his friends, and his sister (whom he considers a friend about half the time) are splashing, sliding, and laughing. He’s celebrating turning another year older, but not necessarily wiser by what I just witnessed.

The group of hyped-up kids just ran up to me to announce they couldn’t go into the lazy river anymore because a kid threw up in it. I looked at the river and, sure enough, it was now empty with all entry points blocked off by caution cones.

Hhaaaaappyy Biirrrrthday ttoooo yyoooouu. BLUUGH!

It was all I could do to just lean back in my chair (strategically chosen in close proximity to the bar) and look up at the twinkling lights above me in order to regain control over my own stomach.

Calgon (and chlorine) take me away.

Calgon (and chlorine) take me away.

After they made the big announcement, the kids returned to the water wonderland (sans river) completely unscathed by the circumstances. I figured, as long as they were good, so was I.

No more than 20 minutes later, I looked up to see small patches of swimmers circling the river and, with each subsequent lap, the patches multiplied. I thought to myself, It must have been a rumor that they closed the lazy river because of kid puke. There was obviously some other issue that caused the temporary shut-down. Whew!

I decided to approach my good friend, the bartender, and tell him what my son had told me.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me (nervous laughter): I don’t need anything other than to ask you a question.

Him: Yeah, what’s that?

Me: My son and his friends told me they shut down the lazy river because a kid threw up in it.

Him: (Nothing in reply…just a blank stare.)

Me: But I see it’s now open again. They couldn’t re-open it if someone actually yacked in it, right?

Him: Yeeaaahh, I mean, they could. I mean, they aren’t going to shut it down permanently with all these people here if only a small part needed to be cleaned up.

Me: (Nothing in reply…just a blank stare.)

Him: I hadn’t personally heard that that happened…so I really don’t know what’s going on.

Me: Ok thanks.

I returned to my chair and reminded myself that chlorine was invented for a reason. No one else seemed to care that some child’s gastrointestinal juices were magically removed from the lazy, disturbingly hazy, river. I learned they have a protocol for taking care of situations like these. The more you know, right?

The party was deemed a success by both my son and his friends.

Yet I can’t let it entirely go without asking…has anyone who’s reading this post actually worked at a public pool or water park? Can chlorine solve all? Well, all but the imagery/queasiness I can’t seem to shake from my system?

Written by Heidi Woodard

Someone recently gave me an excellent blog idea: Find a movie that I loved when I was around my own kids’ age and document their reaction as we watch it together in present day. The movie I selected was the 1990 holiday family classic, Home Alone.

Home Alone movie

‎Macaulay Culkin was 9 years old when he appeared as little Kevin McCallister in the holiday cult classic, Home Alone.

My oldest son is 12, my middle son is 11, and their little sister is 6. Technically, I was older than them when Home Alone was released, but I figure Macauley Culkin was about their age when he starred in this film so it passed the test – pursuant to my imaginary rules that I feel the need to justify for some dumb reason.

The following is a summary of our (mine and my children’s) combined streams of consciousness as we watched the movie together.

If you’ve never seen it…seriously, who are you?…the basic plot of this movie is that Culkin’s character, Kevin McCallister, has a large family and often feels like he’s either left out or being judged unfairly. He wishes they would all just disappear. The family leaves on a vacation to France for the holidays thinking that Kevin is with them, but realize mid-flight that they accidentally left him behind. Kevin has to defend his home against burglars while they are away. Hilarity ensues.

Not even 10 minutes in, I realize there are a lot of inappropriate words spoken that I never questioned as a child, which makes me believe I was either completely clueless as to what I was hearing back then or had become completely immune to their effect after absorbing them spoken so often at home. (My parents got their first EVER computer last year and started following my blog so I like to add in little fabrications here and there just to freak them out.)

There’s nothing quite like your daughter asking you what that falling object is (at the 1:07 mark in the clip below) to make you feel like an utter failure in the domestic duties department. Me: “That’s called an iron, sweetie. We have one…somewhere.”

I remember that seeing a tarantula crawl on burglar Marv’s head was the only thing that really made me cringe when I was a kid. Not the possibility that I could be left alone, or the fact that burglars could terrorize me, or that a boy my age had a Playboy magazine in his treasure chest.

My boys and I talked about all of the highly unlikely scenarios we were watching. How could NO ONE in a house of 20+ people wake up if they needed to leave for the airport at 8 a.m.? EIGHT A.M.?! There’s always at least one annoying morning person who is on their second cup of coffee or who has run their second mile by then. And then, when they did all wake up in a total frenzie running around barking orders at each other, little Kevin was able to sleep soundly through that mayhem in an attic?

Then the dysfunctional family arrives at the airport and runs right past the ticket lady who happily catches their boarding passes as they fling them at her en route to their seats? Not a single I.D. check? These people seem completely safe to board the aircraft I guess.

And what is UP with Uncle Frank McCallister? Is he not the biggest another-word-for-donkey on the planet or what?

I’m a realistic woman. I know my kids are far from perfect and are bound to do some pretty regrettable things throughout their lifetimes. But if any of my relatives were to snap at any one of my children like Uncle Frank yelled at Kevin, well, I’d be hard pressed not to retaliate with a few counter-insults of my own.


My oldest son dryly pointed out that it took roughly 22 minutes from the time Kevin called 911 until the police actually arrived to help out. I hadn’t even noticed because I was too frustrated with the fact that Kevin refused to recruit his creepy old man neighbor for back-up. I mean, COME ON KEVIN, the guy admitted to having anger management issues which clearly resulted in him losing touch with his son and grandchildren. BRING THAT SHOVEL-WIELDING-DIRTY-HAIRY-WANNABE over to your house for protection!

Part of me was tempted to show my kids a picture of present day Macaulay Culkin, but I figured that might be as traumatic and disheartening as the whole Santa thing. Some secrets are better left untold. (OK that was mean…heaven knows I don’t look half as cute as I did when I was 9. Sorry, Mac.)

When it was all said and done, I could tell by the smiles on my kids’ faces that they enjoyed the movie as much today as I did back in 1990. I encourage you to try this little experiment with your own kids, nieces/nephews, or other little humans and report back in the comments.

Written by Heidi Woodard

When I created Maternal Media back in 2012, I vowed to give readers a place to go when they needed a gentle reminder to take everything in stride. If I’m being completely honest, I knew this site would serve me just as much as it would you.

My last post was all about viewing each new day as a sunrise as opposed to a storm. I’m a big believer in positive thinking. My body and facial expression don’t always get the memo, but my soul’s desire is to always remain sunny.

I like to follow and hang out with similar thinkers. My thought is it’s generally easier for all of us to harp on the bad stuff in life, because there is plenty of that to go around, than it is to live simplistically and seek out beauty in the everyday ordinary.

That being said…

My family is a typical over-scheduled American stereotype. Between the five of us, we’re currently “balancing” two jobs (well, four, if I count my side gigs and my husband’s refereeing), two schools, four sports, one stress-filled holiday, a geriatric dog, you get the point.

I was literally yelling out WHERE’S MY D@MN SUNSHINE?! on my birthday last weekend after learning our oldest boy was diagnosed with strep throat. This, after his younger brother and dad were both sick for over a month prior.

As the dark clouds threatened to roll over my body, I resisted the temptation to hang my head low and retreat.

Had I not looked up, I would have missed one of arguably the funnier kindergarten concert performances I’ve had the privilege of watching. My daughter’s in the black dress in the top middle, breaking pinatas like a boss. (And, in case you’re wondering, I’m still too dumb to remember to hold my phone horizontally while videotaping. Can’t Apple develop some trick to auto-correct that? They’re a freaking technology think camp.)

I would have also missed an event that happens about as often as a Halley’s Comet sighting, which was capturing both of my boys smiling next to one another as if they generally get along.

Give me one moment in time. - Whitney Houston

Give me one moment in time. – Whitney Houston

To all the parents out there, I urge you to read the words below and take comfort in the fact that none of us are doing it 100 percent right 100 percent of the time. I’m a recovering perfectionist. Trust me when I share that doing everything precisely the way it should be done is overrated, especially when it compromises your sanity.

We live. We make mistakes. We learn. We move on.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
William Martin

Written by Heidi Woodard