confessions of a rookie mom

imagesCAYZDVXXSo I completely took out my child last Monday morning.  As in feet completely left the pavement and said child flew through the air.  I was at Sea World, two days before Christmas.  Why was I at Sea World, to begin with, two days before Christmas?  I either have sado masochistic tendencies or simply no brain anymore because it didn’t hit me that one of San Diego’s biggest attractions might be slightly busy on the first Monday of school vacation—or that families descending on our 73 degree December weather for the holidays might be out in droves.

Let’s rewind.  The day begins.  It’s sunny.  It’s beautiful. It’s Monday but we have no preschool for little man or music class for baby girl so we have nothing to do.  So this mama thinks, let’s go to our most favorite place: Sea World!  Yaay!  Little man is cheering!

So I hand iPad to little man (who first shows one Elmo vignette to baby girl because we are now “training” her to watch videos in anticipation of our April trip to Maui—Mom of the year award here—before powering up his current favorite dinosaur video), put baby girl in her room for “self-play” with a cup of cereal and her baby gate holding her prisoner, power through a 20 minute frenzy on my elliptical machine, a total of 10 minutes to shower, get dressed, and throw hair in a pony tail, then haul children upstairs for breakfast (to little man saying mommy, why don’t we have eggs? I want eggs.  Did we eat them all? And baby girl screeching (ba)nana! Nana!  More! More! all the while punching little fists together to emphasize the dramatic need for more right NOW), and run around throwing food at children, slamming peanut butter on sandwiches, while the incessant demands and screeching continue.

Then we’re all moving downstairs and putting on shoes and brushing hair and I’m navigating through the gauntlet of almost 4-year-old little man and just walking 15-month-old baby girl who are simultaneously each holding onto my legs and running from me at the same time and I’m bringing lunches and water and hats and my cup of uneaten oatmeal and do I have my phone? and loading the sit and stand stroller in the trunk and baby girl is still screeching because her new found mobility has increased her demand to not be strapped into anything. And finally the car is moving and then we’re stopping and unloading everyone because mommy REALLY needs a grande soy latte from Starbucks and little man is saying can I have a warm milk can I have a warm milk can I have a warm milk and I’m like yes, whatever, and we’re all dancing to the holiday music to keep us entertained and then we’re back in the car and mommy is probably going a little too fast because this mommy is really ready to be there and then STOP.  Brakes.  Screech.

Now we go to Sea World all the time and we generally (except in August) zoom into the gate area, show our pass, and off we go.  But we round the corner of the 2-lane road that simply leads to the entry area and STOP.  A line of cars snake towards the gated parking area.  Silly me is incredulous.  Who are all these people and why are they here? But little man is now playing “Frosty the Snowman” over and over on you tube on my iPhone that (thanks hubby) is Bluetooth connected to my car stereo and baby girl is finally quiet for the moment with thumb inserted into her mouth so I’m telling myself to stay calm, listen to Frosty.  Stay calm.  Listen to Frosty.

Twenty minutes and 8 rounds of Frosty later we are finally parked and I’m pulling out sit and stand and unloading lunches and children and hats and there are people everywhere and baby girl is trying to make a break for it since she’s finally unbuckled and I’m scooping up a screaming, flailing new walker and I see little man do that squirm.  In our household, it’s the poop squirm.  It’s the I really have to go but I’m not going to tell you squirm.

For those of you who have read my previous blogisodes, you remember little man and his poop issues.  Well at almost 4, he is much better.  It doesn’t just come out during swim practice any more or back him up for 5 days straight but it is still daily a topic of discussion (or incessant questioning from this mama which of course never works because the answer to do you have to go poop? is still always “NO”) and reason that chocolate cream cookies now take up residence on my pantry shelf (in an odd mixture of pride and defeatism, I tell everyone that we were a sugar free family until we started potty training).  So little man is doing that little cowboy hip shifting thing and of course I ask him if he has to go poop and he of course says no.  And then we are jostling through a crowd of people getting bags checked by security guards and finding the shortest entry line in and finally we are in and little man wants to see Shamu so off we go to watch a black and white whale throw itself out of the water (which is really one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen) for the “breakfast show” that we peer at through a glass wall because baby girl is not at the age where she will sit through ANY show.  And then girlfriend is arriving looking like super mom with her 3 children ages 4, 21 months, and 2 months (!!) who are all smiling and quiet (even 2 month old who is fast asleep) and I step back to coax baby girl into showing off her new found movement skill set and as I step back little man decides to dash towards Shamu at that very second and my stepping back meets with a WUMPF aaack! and I see out of the corner of my eye little man’s entire body fly FEET through the air.  And apple snack he was holding is now rolling across the ground.  Oh goodness.

I’ve heard the first stage of grief is denial.  Little man is in my arms howling as I comfort him and comfort him and comfort him.  He can’t believe his own mommy has catapulted him across the pavement but he initially runs to me as his known source of comfort.  But within a minute he pulls back and screams in my face “MOMMY! (pause for emphasis) YOU HURT ME!!!”  Second stage of grief: anger.  Little man is angry.  So I apologize and tell him I love him but he won’t let up.  Now though my child is yelling at me, I’m feeling pretty badly because I did just make him fly across the sidewalk so I kind of let it go but would really like to remind him about how last week in one of his spasmodic moments he head butted my forehead engendering a wincing I really want to cry pain from this mama who of course took a breath and thanked little man for his apology and winked back the tears.  I really want to remind him how my forehead had a tender spot for 4 DAYS following the spasmodic episode but of course I don’t.  Because I’m the mama and I’m supposed to be the better person here—or at least the one molding and shaping the other positively.

So little man is finally not yelling but he is grumpy.  I remind him AGAIN that I am sorry and I love him and offer him two choices: you can either sit in the stroller and be grumpy or you can put this behind you and choose to have fun because, look! we’re here at Sea World!  Yaay!

Little man: I want to sit in the stroller.

And between his need to poop and his take out, little man decides to continue to be grumpy.  He doesn’t want to see anything.  He ignores my questions or wines incessantly or yells a response.

So I remind little man I can’t understand you when you speak that way. $%#@*!  I can’t understand you when you speak that way. $%#@*!  I can’t understand you when you speak that way. $%#@*! I can’t understand you when you speak that way.

And of course baby girl is still trying to make a break for it at any moment I’m not holding her or belting her in and of course all three of girlfriends little angels are behaving perfectly.

As the $%#@*! Continues from little man I remind little man that I care about his feelings but I need a kind voice and a kind face.

Kind voice kind face is my mantra with little man.  Back when little man was an infant, I read Hendrix’s parenting book Giving the Love That Heals because my husband and I thought his book for couples was super helpful and Hendrix’s theory is that a child’s perspective of himself is the sum of the way his (or her) primary caretakers view him and treat him (and that’s really formed in the first 5 years of life).  So that includes parents, nannies, older siblings, or anyone who spends a lot of time with our kiddos.  And one of his big things is that kids need to learn their emotions are okay as part of understanding that they are okay, simply in who they are.  He recommends mirroring back emotions and helping kids process their feelings so that they learn to own their feelings and therefore own themselves.

So when little man is crying, I’m saying that really hurt, you’re really sad and not you’re okay, shake it off. I’ve decided with my kids that I will hold them as long as they ever want to be held.  So if a child is in my arms crying, I will hold him or her until he or she stops. Hendrix’ theory is that simply allowing the expression of emotion helps a child to move through it quickly.  And to feel that their emotions, and therefore they themselves, are okay.  And feeling comfortable with themselves and not needing constant validation from their peer group is everything (um, I’ll let you guys ski through the avalanche zone—I think I’ll meet you at the bottom).

So with little man, I want him to know that he can tell his baby sister things like stop, I’m playing with that I or that’s my toy—I want him to be able to be able to verbalize his feelings (because baby girl, who thinks the sun and the moon revolve around big brother, clearly thinks that anything he is playing with must be the most amazing thing in the whole world and she therefore must experience it at that very moment)—but it’s also very important to me that he speaks to her and to me kindly.  I want him to know that his emotions and feelings  are okay but it’s equally important that he learn to express himself kindly—because this mama requires respect from her kiddos and because little man is considered a primary caretaker in the life of baby girl.  The way he looks at her and treats her will mold her perspective of herself.  Being a younger sister with an older brother myself, makes this especially important to me.

So I’m telling little man kind voice kind face but he’s not having it and is instead demanding that we see everything on the exact opposite side of the park (BUT MOMMY, I DON’T WANT TO SEE TURTLES I WANT TO SEE PENGUINS!) and I’m finally just done so I tell him that we are leaving and I need him to speak kindly or to not talk at all.  So as I am moving towards the exit, pushing sit and stand with baby girl belted in and little man sitting facing me, here is how our conversation goes:

Me: your choice is to either speak kindly or to not say anything at all.

Little man: BUT I WANT…!

Me: Nope.  Nothing.

Little man: BUT I NEED…!

Me: Zip it.

Little man: BUT…!

Me: Zip. (thumb and index finger pushed together for emphasis)

I told my child to zip it.  Maybe not one of my finer moments but I couldn’t handle the badgering any further.  And to his credit, little man was quiet after that.  And while baby girl smeared peanut butter sandwich all over herself and the car seat on the way home, he glowered in quietness.  And then when we got him I made him sit on the potty and he pooped and the whole world was sunshine and roses again.  And I am now kicking myself for rushing out the door and not taking the time to coax out a poop before Sea World since I’m sure that 80% of the drama of our last 3 hours has been due to Mr. Grumpy I Have to Poop who had taken over my child.  Argh.  I’m such a rookie still.

And while little man now dances around the room flinging his underpants in the air, instead of getting in bed for his nap, I remind myself of our mantra and repeat in my head: kind voice, kind faceKind voice, kind face.  And wonder if 1pm is too early to open a bottle of wine.

the cinderella mom

I’m not always the mom I want to be.  I just pulled up little man’s chin and forced him to look at me and told him I was very frustrated with him because he was being mean to his baby sister and not listening to me.  I said it with a growl in my voice and a scowl on my face.  That’s not the mom I want to be.  I like the basic philosophy of the Love and Logic parenting series and their whole theory is that when we loose our cool, as parents, the kiddos win.  If I had not been so frazzled, I would have just picked up little man (who was sitting on the potty, naked from the waist down), said “uh-oh no, we don’t kick or push our baby sister, time out in your bed time,” plopped him in his bed, picked up the baby, and walked away.

But I was frazzled. 

It was a Wednesday morning and I was trying to get little man out the door for summer school (which he LOVES) and that involves preparing breakfast for 2 kids (while little man makes farting noises into his cup), feeding them breakfast (which involves actual spoon feeding for baby girl and goes like this: spoon of yogurt, SCREECH! spoon of yogurt, SCREECH! spoon of yogurt, SCREECH!), shoveling oatmeal into my mouth (the microwave in 60 seconds kind, not the healthier cook on the stove top kind my own mom/nana creates), cleaning up said breakfast (including waffle bits tossed on the floor by baby girl to signal “all done”—the kid has her own version of baby sign language), washing two little sets of hands and faces, realizing that even though I already dressed baby girl and she had a bib on, she’s all wet because she’d been, under the radar, spitting water out from her sippy cup and not drinking it, corralling little man down the stairs (who wants to be caaarrriiiieeeedddd—and I can’t carry him because I have to carry baby girl and this not so young mama’s back has been hurting lately and I’m sure I’ll throw it out if I attempt to carry two children…which knowing me I actually would), re-dressing baby girl (who wiggles and rolls over and squawks the whole time because she doesn’t like to be confined or forced to be still…ever), and dressing little man (who’s running around the room and tossing his clothes in the air while baby girl, who loves her new skill of balancing on her feet is climbing up me with her hands and swaying and giggling in delight and pulling my hair in the process because it’s the easiest thing to lunge for when you’re falling) and combing his hair (while he’s yelling ouch, I want to do it when I know I am being as gentle as I can be).  And little man suddenly howls “I have to go POOOOOOP!” and I’m plopping him on the toilet and baby girl is now crawling towards him and pulling herself up on his legs and he’s yelling “NO” and kicking and pushing and wiggling her away (and I get that maybe the boy wants a little privacy while he poops) and that’s when I lose it and grab little man’s chin and pull it up so I can stare him down.

I want to be the sing-songy uh-oh no mommy.  And sometimes I am that mommy.  But I wasn’t on Wednesday morning.

In a perfect world, my two children would eat their breakfast with quiet smiles on their faces and tell me how much they appreciate me (great waffle mom, thanks for making it this morning), and baby girl would pull her two little fists together to tell me “more” or wave her little hands when she’s all done.  And when it’s time to go downstairs and get ready for school, little man would say “ok, I love school” and quickly skip downstairs and pull on his own clothes (which he can do but doesn’t like to) and baby girl (who would still be dry of course) would quietly sit and hold a toy while I brushed little man’s hair (who would of course be standing still the whole time) and then we would all happily walk to the car, sing happy songs together as we drive (instead of little man yelling Veggie Tales, I want Veggie Tales from the back seat and me, who really needs a little church music so I don’t throttle my kids, saying mommy’s choice this morning—which I did actually manage in a sing song voice), and get to school 5 minutes early (instead of 5 minutes late).

That would be a really nice morning.  But that’s not how my mornings ever go.  So instead I’m frazzled.  But it’s really more about me than it is about them.  I’m the mommy and I’m the one who’s (supposedly) in charge so it’s my job to choose my words and choose the tone in my household.  But some days, that’s so stinking hard.  Some days I’m just barely hanging on and holding it together.

I want to be that mom who’s got it all under control.  Whose kids are polite and have well combed hair.  The mom who runs her own business AND spends focused, calm time, with each of her children daily, and makes home cooked meals every night and sits and converses with her husband each night over wine after the kids are in bed.  The mom who walks around singing as the birds twirl around her and do her chores.  The Cinderella mom.  She’s always kind, always calm.  Never has a negative word to say about her child or husband or that other mom.  I want to be the Cinderella mom.  The one who scrubs the floors and speaks kindly to her evil step-sisters as they flounce off to the ball.

But I’m not.  And I can’t do it all.  I’ve actually failed in my own eyes.  I’m bringing in a nanny.

I have been totally opposed to a nanny.  But you RUN your own business! my friends remind me.  So far I’ve functioned with what I call “the big juggle.”  It involves grandparents, piecemeal assistance from college girls when I have appointments, working during naptimes and in evenings and on weekends.  It involves rarely spending time with my husband and collapsing at the end of the day in front of the TV for a few minutes before I fall into bed.  When I recounted all this and started to break down to an older friend of mine she simply said, “you need help.”

I don’t need help!  I can do it all!  But at what cost?  A nanny sure costs…  But I’ve come to realize there are other costs.  The costs of being frazzled all the time.  The cost of added stress on my marriage.  The costs of not being fun for my kids.  I worked at summer camps all through college and I was totally the fun one!  I ran around all summer with kids just being fun!  When did I stop being fun? 

So starting this week, 2 days a week we have a nanny/helper coming (as in she cleans and cooks too!).  And the grandparents will still take Friday afternoons.  And I’m petrified.  All the what if’s of the crazy nanny freaking out on my kids and the loss of control and…

One of my friends said she thinks I’ll adjust pretty fast.  I’ll repeat that the nanny/helper cleans and cooks too.  Oh, and does laundry.  Another friend told me that she thinks I’ll start sparkling: my hair will suddenly always be done, my make-up perfect! (and now I’m wondering how I usually look?)

I keep wondering why I am so afraid of acknowledging that I need help.  That I actually can’t do it all.  That I actually really need my friends and my community and my family.  That I need a village.  Sitting over dinner with two girlfriends last week, one said, “I have a village—I just pay my village!”

After another crazy morning at Sea World earlier this week where baby girl, for the first time ever, refused her morning nap and instead screamed for 1.5 hours, and little man and BFF blondie girl ran around like maniacs, and oh yeah, I forgot it was August and the place was PACKED, and my girlfriend and I just kind of looked at each other and chuckled.  That kind of low key sarcastic laugh—not the ha ha this is truly funny laugh.  I looked at her and just said, “I’m so thankful I have you.”  “We get each other,” she replied.

Needing others is a hard place to let myself get to.  But I guess even Cinderella had her little animal friend helpers.

It’s a hard place.  But it’s a good place.

the screamer (part II)

So lately I pretty much feel like I am being constantly screamed at.  Though baby girl’s colic stage is behind us, the screaming as means of expression has continued.  When baby girl is hungry, screeeech! When she is full, screeeech! When I’m simply not shoveling food in fast enough, screeeech! Swallow, screeeech! Swallow, screeeech! Swallow, screeeech!  When baby girl is tired, screeeech! When she wakes up, screeeech!  When she has a wet diaper, screeeech! When she has a poop, screeeech!  When she wants a toy 6 inches from her, screeeech! When she’s bored in her jumpee, screeeech! When she wants into her high chair, screeeech! When she wants out of her high chair, screeeech!

My very sweet pediatrician friend told me that the personality of a baby up to 18 months is not necessarily an indication of their personality after 18 months.

She told me that to console and encourage me.

But I think this screeeech! IS baby girl’s personality.  See she is night and day different from her big brother who was mellow as a baby and is still an easy going, introspective, generally happy, kid.  From the first week of life, I knew that baby girl was going to be a different animal than little man.  Little man used to take 45-50 minutes to nurse when he was a little peanut (and hey, it was my first kid so I DVR’d a lot of TV shows and put my feet up and it was pretty awesome).  Baby girl could empty one of the girls in 10 minutes flat at her littlest and slowest stage.  Little man still takes his time and is deliberate in everything he does (to the bane of my existence sometimes as mama doesn’t have time to move slooowwww).

Little man was slow on all of his motor skills but did them perfectly the first time.  He did a perfect roll from belly to back at 4 months and then I taught him to roll from back to belly in 10 minutes at month 6 (shift the weight over, reach for the toy).  Baby girl rolled over belly to back by herself at 7.5 weeks and never stopped.  Maybe it’s the second child hey someone look over here and see what I can do phenomenon.  Look at me!  I’m rolling!  Wait for it, wait for it, here I go again!  Then she rolled back to belly on her own initiative at 4 months.  I had to stop worrying about SIDS because the kid was just going to sleep on her belly.  Then little man spent all of month 9 in perfect crawl position, on hands and knees, just rocking back and forth, rocking back and forth, and smiling, and rocking back and forth, and giggling, and…until one day I finally put my feet on either side of him and showed him that he could move also.  And his first crawl, which followed shortly thereafter, was a perfect hand in front of hand, crawl.  At the very beginning of her 8th month, baby girl began propelling herself forward.  It wasn’t exactly a crawl.  It’s that whole army elbow-belly-knee I’m going to knock over big brother’s block tower no matter what type of movement forward.  Sheer determination is this kid.  If she can get there, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty or not.  Then at 10.5 months, little man casually pulled himself up on a table (reaching for Nana’s salad) and looked rather nonplused about the whole thing.  Little man’s walk was the same: he wouldn’t let go of my finger until he was 16 months old but he had a perfect (though slightly John Wayne) gait from the moment he did.  Though baby girl has not attempted to walk yet, by 9 months she had already pulled herself up and was proudly knocking things off little man’s train table—without yet doing that perfect crawl.

And talking has been the same.  Little man’s first word came in his 9th month and it was a clear, 2 syllable, “doggie.”  Kitty, dada, and mama followed shortly thereafter.  Baby girl, early in her 8th month, started a continuous stream of mamamamamamama which some would say, and I thought so at first, was just vocalization.  But the mamama’s increase in length and loudness when she is awake in her crib after nap or wanting another mum mum handed to her.  She’s not perfect in her linguistic usage, like older brother, but she’s clear and persistent!

So right now, I think the screeching IS the personality.

As an aside, I have been madly trying to teach her basic baby sign so that hopefully the screeching would decrease and I now do have a very proud arm waving “all done” and a hand clap for “more” beginning (or she’s just proud of herself for eating since I clap every time the food stays in her mouth and is not spittled back at me) and I think they are helping.

The screeching IS the personality.  But to be honest, as much as some days I feel like I’m just being screamed at from either side of me (as baby girl’s screeches somehow result in little man getting louder and crazier as well), I love that this is her personality.  I love that my kids are exactly who they are.

I love that baby girl is a total go-getter jump in-until-I-figure-it-out kind of girl.  I hope she stays this way.  I pray that she will know herself, be content in the person that she is, and go for the things she wants in life.  Funny, because that’s a lot like her mama—and to be honest, my route of getting places hasn’t always been pretty.  I often feel like I’m army crawling through life.  I just pray that baby girl will know how deeply she is loved, how precious and beautiful and unique that she is, that she will be able to avoid some of the messy heartache that jumping in sometimes involves.  This mama has had her share of that.  Amazing that baby girl is 10 months old and I’m already worried about her little heart when she’s 16.

And I love that little man is exactly who he is.  I love that he watches and focuses and applies that observation to his skill set.  One of our friends said we should teach him golf because he has such an amazing ability to focus, even as a young kid.  I think he’ll excel at whatever sport interests him.  And I love that he is cautious.  One of my mom friends said, “that’s good—less blood.”  I love that he isn’t the first kid to jump off the side of the pool (and is usually the last—after every kid years younger than him is splashing away).  I know he won’t be zipping down the black diamond run when he’s 5.  Or skiing past the avalanche warning signs when he’s 17.  This mama is pretty happy about that.

One of my mantras as a mom has been to value my kids for exactly who they are—to even look for who they are.  To appreciate their differences.  I want them to be content in the little people God has made them to be and  appreciate who they are—appreciate their uniqueness.  When I’m at my best, I kind of see myself as an observer-director (and oh that I could always be at my best!): looking for who they are, valuing who they are, letting them know they are just perfect exactly in who they are, and encouraging them to strive to be kind, loving, and generous (and fair and rule-abiding…what stop sign, officer?) little people.

So that’s the kind of mom I want to be.  And you can remind me of that when I’ve been screamed at all day and can’t wait for my 8pm glass of ZIn.

mother’s day

About 10am on Mother’s Day, now almost two weeks ago, I realized that it would have been really apt of me to have had a blog entry ready to publish that day.  I quickly scanned the day in my head and realized in about 2 seconds I had absolutely zero time to sit down at my computer and write.  So I would have no well-timed article on how amazing it is to be a mom published that day.  And the article I started to write the next day, has now taken almost two weeks to finish.  I guess that’s the reality of mommyhood!

Let me tell you how my mother’s day started.  It started with a jolting burst into reality from sleepy dreamland by an incredibly enthusiastic 3-year-old voice yelling ”HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” and the thwump thwump of a balloon being kicked by 3-year-old feet around my room.  Then little feet were jumping on bed and little hands were thwump thwumping said balloon.

Attach 8-month-old to self and close eyes.  I just need 5 more minutes.  Twenty minutes later we are up.  It’s Sunday.  We leave for the 10am church service we go to at 9am since that’s when baby girl wants to start her morning nap and she’ll do about half a nap in her stroller and we call that enough for a Sunday—especially since it means we walk to get scones and coffee before church and actually make it there on time.  Since it’s also Mother’s Day, we’re meeting my mom at church and then taking her out to brunch with my older brother because my dad is out of town. 

Place baby girl in jumpee in my bathroom, quick shower, dressed, hair and make-up in 15 minutes flat because that’s how long baby girl will last jump-jumping with only mild squawking.  If we approach 20 minutes, squawking turns to full-fledged screams.  Then pound upstairs to feed baby girl yummy goo of pears, bananas, yogurt, and prunes (yes, still feeding prunes every day—hilarious how the ruin-an-outfit poop so quickly changed to yaay-I’m-eating-solid-food-rabbit-poops).  Husband and little man have made eggs and left me some in the pan.  I don’t bother to reheat them or even put them on a plate.  Instead I sprinkle salt over said eggs, pick up pan and fork and shovel eggs into mouth.  Leave husband dishing food into baby girl’s mouth and run downstairs to pack puzzle, coloring books, and iPad (in case neither of the former items inhibit public meltdown) for restaurant, gather items for Nana’s gift and tie together with cute ribbon, pack diaper bag, run back upstairs with outfit for little man, grab baby girl, run back downstairs and dress wiggling infant in frilly church dress coordinating with little man’s attire (yes, I’m that mom), grab lovey item for baby girl, and call upstairs to husband that I’m heading towards the car.  Turn on car with soft Pandora hymn station playing, put baby girl in carseat, cover with dark blanket, load little man into seat as he wanders out to garage, flop down in passenger seat of car.  Breathe. 9:10am.

In my head, I envision that Mother’s Day is supposed to be relaxing—supposed to be a break for me, right?  I’m still just running around like a chicken with my head cut off pulling everything together.

We get to church, park, luckily baby girl has dozed off on the ride with only mild squawking, put helmet on little man and watch him Flinestone his way down the sidewalk on his balance bike.  Then we’re getting coffee (praise the Lord) and scones and pedal pushing back towards church pushing stroller and coercing little man into continuous forward movement (Look mommy, a bee!  Look mommy, is that poop?) and all I’m thinking is that I really want to streak for my car and run for this hills as fast as I can—which in my case, would be the mall.  Now.  Oh how I would love to wander around for a couple hours with NO ONE I know around me and NOTHING I actually have to purchase and just wander and wander.  Maybe sip my latte slowly (rather than in hiccup spurts as I steer little man away from the huge puddle tempting him and his shiny church clothes) and just wander with all the time in the world and no one texting me about when I’ll be back or what do I want to do for dinner.

Okay, return to reality.  Now we’re sitting in church and the pastor is praying and he’s thanking God for mothers and how amazing they are and yaddy yaddy yadda and I’m listening with only half my brain as baby girl has woken up and I’m wrestling her in the back of the hall (because yes, I’m still a little afraid to put the screamer in the nursery).  And then the pastor says, “and we pray for the people for whom today is a really painful day…”

O snap.

“…for those who have miscarried or are childless or have lost a mother recently…”

Double snap. 

I’m temporarily listening with my entire brain and then I’m kicking myself in the arse for my pity party.  Once again.  Here I am, with a life filled with blessings and I’m the one having the pity party.  It seems like on Mother’s Day, I should probably just be thankful—thankful for 2 beautiful, healthy children, a kind and faithful husband/father, an amazing community, family close by…

I realized I’d spent the morning focusing on what I don’t have (like, any personal time) and not what I do have.  Let’s say these last 4 years had not been filled with 2 pregnancies and the entrance into life of 2 little people…let’s say it had been filled with fertility treatments or adoption attempts…  I would probably be sitting in church with a lump in my throat, whisking a tear out of my eye, and glaring at any mom wining about how she doesn’t have time to go to the mall today.

It’s interesting how I go through these waves of feeling stressed and then feeling guilty about feeling stressed.  I love my babies so much and don’t know if I could survive actually losing one of them (that’s the stuff of nightmares for me and daytime paranoid moments), but there are times I want to throw them out the window…or as one of my girlfriends said, throw herself out the window.  Or like another girlfriend of mine actually did, shut myself in the bathroom and just scream as loud as I can. I guess mommyhood is accepting both sides of the coin: that it’s okay to need breaks and occasionally feel like you want to throttle your children yet still feel incredibly thankful for them and thankful to be a mommy.  And needing breaks or wanting a peaceful moment wandering around the mall doesn’t make me a horrible person or ungrateful. But I also do need to be snapped back to reality, like the prayer did, and remember to focus on the amazing amount of gifts in my life (and not my own arse).

So church is over and we wrangle 3-year-old into car, put mum mum in hand of squawking baby, drive to brunch spot (carefully chosen since it’s a 2 minute walk from our house in case either child completely unwinds), find my mom/Nana at table (little man proudly carries in gift for Nana and holds it up with a big “TA-DA!”), get little man in booster seat and spread puzzles and coloring books out in front of him, unpack food for baby girl, do once over skim on menu to quickly decide what I’m eating, start shoveling food into baby girl’s mouth, and attempt to half-way carry on conversation with Nana and brother/uncle who has now arrived.  After a little over an hour of shoveling food in either my or one of two little people’s mouths, baby girl is unwinding so I say goodbye to uncle and Nana and whisk her away to home where dark room and happy crib await.  Then finally I am collapsed on my bed while husband is getting little man in his.  And it’s 1:15 pm.  Whew.

So here’s my plan for next year: mommy brunch.  As in mommies and champagne only.  And pedicures to follow. No babies.  As much as I adore them, I have a new plan.

Until next time, carry on mommy friends, you are awesome at what you do!

doing it all

6c513db37c28626e9d7035119dae991bSo I have admitted that I am trying to do it all. And that means I juggle a lot. And I know all my mommy friends do too. One of my girlfriends told me she wants to send her husband with 2 kids to the beach by himself (like she does every Friday during the summer) and sit on a rock from a distance away and just watch. Pure comedy. Which is how I feel my life is most days. But in the midst of my crazy trying to do it all life, some days are just more comedic than others.

Enter Saturday.

7:00 am. Husband’s voice wakes me out of a sound slumber: “little man has a rash all over his body.” Were those real words or am I still dreaming? Eyes still closed. “Look, mommy!” Pry one eye open, little man with shirt raised to his chin is excitedly looking down at me with belly protruding. It’s covered with tiny red bumps. As are his face, arms, and legs. I have a wedding to coordinate today. They look more like a mild skin irritation than a measles mumps kind of thing. Attach slobbering about-to-pop-a-tooth baby girl to breast, close eyes.

7:30 am Put on workout clothes, force legs to move upstairs to kitchen, feed baby girl mashed mixture of bananas, yogurt, and prunes. Yes, she needs prunes. Little man is running around in his wish-I-could-harness-the-energy-of-a-3-year-old way so I’m thinking he’s probably fine. Scan forehead with laser-like thing. No temperature. Ok.

8:15 am Send little man on Saturday morning ritual of breakfast with grandparents. Play with baby girl.

9:15 am Put baby girl in sleep sack, sing song, and place her in bed for morning nap. Pack car (with trunk already full of bridal boxes of programs, menus, ring bearer pillows, and more fancy things gleaned from rehearsal yesterday) with bag, client folder, chalkboard directional signs, invitations to drop at post office for another client, and 4 dresses I really want to get altered to actually fit.

9:25 am Text bride, “Yaay, it’s your wedding day! C u soon!” Check weather on my iPhone app: predicting sun by 1pm. Yaay, cloudy beach morning.

9:31 am Pedal my little arse off on my elliptical machine

9:50 am Jump in shower. Through splatters, I hear husband: “I’m worried about little man, I think we should take him to a clinic. There’s an opening at 11:20.” Sigh. I know he’s right. We have church tomorrow and school Monday and we need to know if little man is going to infest his peers with some contagious African flesh-eating phenomenon. Because, yes, it would be my kid who would get it. On our first trip to Ixtapa over a year ago, little man picked up hand foot mouth disease and when we sat in the doctor’s office upon our return, I got to hear the favorite words you can get from your doctor: wow, we haven’t seen this strain in our community. Yes, I’m the family that brings back the international virus. Sorry 2-year-old cousin who therefore got it twice.

10:00 am With towel still wrapped around me, “mommmyyyyyyyyy!” ricochets across the walls as little man announces his return. I don clothes and all I’m thinking is I NEED Starbucks. I pry little man with offers of a treat (though he’s already had a sugar-filled muffin with the grandparents I’m sure) to get him to walk a block with me to the tall soy latte beckoning me from around the corner. Parent of the year, right here. What I’ll do for Starbucks. I’m clearly one of their zombie soldiers infiltrating the population.

10:30 am Return with latte in hand and somewhat perkier eyes to husband and squawking baby girl. Attach baby girl for 2nd time today. Husband mentions that he thinks it would be great if baby girl and I went to the clinic also so we’d have some family time today since I’ll be gone all afternoon. Sigh. Decide that agreeing with husband is best. Once baby girl has contented milk belly, I grab diaper bag, string cheese and squeezes for both kids, beloved yellow baseball hat for little man, and crinkly horse-toy for baby girl.

11:00 am Whole family in car en route to clinic. Phone rings. Site coordinator from church, venue for ceremony a couple hours later, is on the phone. The bride had requested the church’s white silk rose petals line the edges of the white runner but she can’t find them and only came up with pink rose petals. What should we do? What should we do? Should we line it with pink petals? Answer: no. Secretly sigh with relief as I have less than positive feelings regarding silk rose petals.

11:30 am Clinic doctor inspects little man: just a virus and most likely not contagious at this point. But he’ll run a test for strep just to make sure. Ten minutes of watching Horton And The Who in the waiting room and we are off with a “yup, he’s healthy” note from the doctor.

12:00 pm Entire family re-loaded into family SUV, little man proudly licking lolli pop for good behavior. Parent of the year, here. I sit in back and pop bits of string cheese into baby girl’s mouth as we head home. If I don’t feed her, she’ll fall asleep and she’s not allowed to sleep until she’s in her sweet little bed at 1:30 because otherwise I’ll be leaving slightly nervous husband alone with a cranky off-her-schedule baby girl all afternoon and evening and we all know how that goes. Remember, code name: the screamer.

12:30 pm Home. Make lunch for self and, because I’m trying to be thoughtful, husband too. Call comes in from wedding beverage service: “did you want 1 bar or 2 bars on the terrace?” Answer I want to give: read your event notes I sent! Answer I give: just one, please!

1:15 pm Haul kids downstairs, nurse baby girl once more, place back in sleep sack and back in bed. Kiss little man’s head as husband reads him stories.

1:30 pm Dash to closet: put on black dress and heels. Dash to bathroom: apply make-up. Stop at mascara since I’m going to blow dry my hair and I don’t want sticky lines of black marks all over my face. Tell myself: remember to put on mascara when you finish!

1:50 pm Depart house. Dash to post office to mail client’s invitations. Look in car mirror. Dang it, no mascara! Text assistant: if you haven’t left yet, could you bring a black mascara with you? Answer: sorry, already left. Want me to stop and get you some? Answer: yes! Arrive at post office. Shuttered up. Sign on the door reads Saturday hours: 10am-1pm. Dang it. Text comes through from assistant with picture of mascara and message this is the cheapest one! Answer: buy it! Dash to alteration place. I don’t really have to do this now but how often am I out without ANY kids? Alteration man is literally turning the sign on his door from open to closed as I park in front and come streaking in with 4 dresses flying behind me. He lets me stay.

2:30 pm Arrive at church. Florist is hauling in flowers. Two assistants are sitting there in matching black skirt suits, one proudly holding out pink mascara wand in her palm. Breathe. Open event notes. Mystically put on my wedding planner hat. The aisle looks way better without the pink silk rose petals.

One of my good friends asked me the other day how I am doing balancing everything in my life. I responded with, some weeks I’m good at one thing, and other weeks another thing, but I’m never good at everything every week. Some weeks I remember to tell husband how much I appreciate him and go to bed at the same time he does. Some weeks I remember to call or text my friends. Some weeks I exercise every day. Some weeks I get a bunch of appointments with clients in or finish the event documents I have to get done. Some weeks I text my extended family funny pictures of the kids. Some weeks I’m the kind, patient, but in charge mommy I want to be. Some weeks I volunteer to do something at church or for little man’s school or pause long enough to smile at the elderly woman making googly eyes at baby girl. Some weeks I’m even 2 or 3 of those things. But I am never all those things every week.

Maybe that’s what balance is: accepting that it’s okay to not be good at everything every week. Or maybe it’s my recent justification self-talk for only exercising 15-20 minutes a day as of late. But hey, I’m still breast feeding AND chasing the energizer bunny every day.

But maybe that’s what I need right now for mental peace: to allow myself to be better at some things some weeks and other things other weeks. It’s too much to try and heap everything onto my plate each week. Otherwise, I won’t have time or will be just too frenetic to notice the snail on the sidewalk with little man or to just lie on my belly and make faces at baby girl as she does her pre-crawl pushups.

Do I, in my type A mania, put this pressure on myself? Does our collective community? I have this need to do everything and be everything to everyone, but am I really enjoying my life when I do that? I mentioned before that I’m really trying to follow Ann Voskamp’s challenge in 1000 Gifts to live fully where you are and notice the small gifts of every day: little man’s fascination with the snail, baby girls’ giggle in the bathtub when I wash her neck, the orange red sky of a beach sunset. And then on top of that, to whisper prayers of thanks for everything. Everything. Thank you that little red dots on the skin made me slow down and be with my family. Hey, little man found excitement in the little red dots! Thank you for a yummy latte. Thank you that baby girl still wants to nurse and that I still have a supply (take that, o you allergies out there!).

So maybe balance is accepting my limitations and letting myself breathe in the life and beauty that is all around me. Especially the beauty of life with my little people.

techno

Apparently my 3-year-old son loves techno. My husband is all to blame for this one. Because husband is techy guy of the year annually, he has set up our phones so that we share our Pandora play lists. Maybe that’s not rocket science to set up but this girl equates most technological knowledge and know-how with corresponding devises to attempting to walk in 4-inch stilettos—might be possible but not for this girl. Anyhoo, so driving in the car with little man today en route to the store, I pop up Pandora on my phone, and little man yells from the back seat “GUMMY BEAR! I want Gummy Bear!” Now this child is not referring to certain edible squishy candy in the shape of a certain woodsy animal. He is referring to his new favorite song and the name of a techno station I suddenly found on my phone. And this gal for sure didn’t add it. (see icon above for picture of said techno-singing bear)

It’s awesome to be 37 and roll into the Trader Joes parking lot with techno blasting from your car. Little man has his black shades on and is totally chilling in the back in his car seat, window lowered half-way down.

I should have seen this coming. When he was just 2 and we were listening to the Veggie Tales playlist, which this mama put on our shared Pandora set-list, I heard a certain familiar beat begin to rumble through my car stereo and suddenly I’m tapping my foot to Party Rock Anthem and little man is yelling from the back seat “MAMA, I LIKE THIS ONE” as Chipmunk voices and a techno beat take over. I’m totally listening to Party Rock sung by the Chipmunks. I am so cool.

I don’t know when or how little man became such an avid fan of techno. Husband has a history of frequenting clubs with said style of music in his younger years but this mama is completely R/B-Pop with a little Folk-Alt and Classic Rock thrown in to spice things up. So for this odd genetic streak in little man, we’ll blame husband.

But there is a lot you can blame me for. Namely the “WOOHOO” that has been coming from little man’s lips lately. I don’t think husband has ever uttered such phrase unless he was mocking this wife. Last week, kiddos and I were driving back from the park and we took the scenic route past the beach which we like to do so we can check out the surf and this day there is some swell and a group of wetsuits are jockeying for waves and one suit grabs a wave and from the back seat comes “WOOHOO! He got it! Good job guys! WOOHOO! WOOHOOOOO!” Did I mention the window was rolled down and little man was pumping his fist while articulating such remarks? I turned bright red as passersby’s looked over in amusement.

You can blame me for the WOOHOO.

It’s funny how we rub off on our kids. It’s pretty scary too. I watched a little guy at the park riding his trike and another little boy rammed into him on some other wheeled vehicle and the first little guy raises his index finger at the second and says “bad boy! Bay boy!” I’m sure he didn’t come up with that on his own.

This mama is pretty good at not cussing—though there is an occasional potty word or two that escapes now and then. But I think it’s beyond that. It’s amazing to see how little man says things in the same voice and style that I do. A lot of it is pretty funny and endearing. Like the woohoo.

But lately he’s started ordering me around. “Mommy, I need you to bring this here.” Does mommy say that? Clearly. Is there a role for moms to say things sometimes that are not for kids to say—yes. But would it kill me to say please?

Little man is like a mirror to me. I feel like I see all the good and all the bad that comes from me staring me back in the face. Every day I pray that I will be patient and kind and overwhelmingly giving to both of my little people. And often I pray that multiple times a day. Especially after I have snapped at little man. Some days he’s like dripping water: a constant irritation. At 3, he already knows exactly how to exasperate me. I see it in the sly sideways looks he gives me as he asks the same question for the 10th time in two minutes. How is he so clever?

But he’s my kid. And he’s just a 3-year-old little boy who wants to play (ALL the time—it’s way more fun than eating, getting dressed, exercising, or pooping…the things that I throw in the mix). It’s my job to do my best to mold and shape him. He’s my absolute joy but he also refines me. I am forced to become a better person by being his mommy—by choosing what I say, by practicing being patient every day, by sometimes even telling little man that I’m sorry for being short with him. He’s my kid. My responsibility. My exacerbation and my joy. My character-building little instrument in my life.

Whatever man little man turn out to be, to a certain extent you can blame me (woohoo). Sure there is mental illness and extenuating circumstances, but if my kid can’t share or be a team player or a positive member of society, then I think I should ask if I’m doing enough? It’s my job to shape him, to love him, to discipline him, to teach him my morals and beliefs. As one of my friends said, “I don’t think people younger than me know more than me.”

I’m not talking about likes and dislikes. One of my mantras is to daily focus on figuring out who little man is. He’ll choose the sports and instruments he plays and he’ll choose whatever career he wants. I don’t care if he goes to Harvard or a state school. I want him to be a generally happy, well-adjusted person, with a moral compass, at peace with himself, and a positive part of our community—a light in the lives of those around him.

Maybe I’m still just reeling from Sandy Hook. I know there were mental issues involved and I’m not going to get into the issues of that or gun control. I watched 60 minutes a week ago Sunday when a bunch of the parents were interviewed. It came out that the gun cabinet was actually located inside the kid’s bedroom. As one of the dad’s said, who had lost a child, “there was something going on in that family.” I can’t speak to what was going on in that family and obviously the kid was off his rockers and maybe the mom too. But what it has gotten me thinking about is who is the kid that I’m raising? If I’m not responsible for who he becomes, then who is?

So on days like today, when I’m plodding downstairs about to put baby girl in bed (another loooong Tuesday for those of you who have been following my blog), and I’m feeling a little low for snapping at little man a bunch of times today, and from upstairs husband calls after me, “you’re almost done!” and I’m definitely ready for my glass of Zin and the Amazing Race, I need to stop and be thankful for my sweet little children and the people they are becoming. I need to appreciate that they cause me to look at myself and who I am and the parent I am being. I am a better person because of them. And every day I pray for the energy and joy and mirth and strength it takes to be the mommy I want to be.

Whatever odd mixture of techno-loving sun-glass wearing kid little man turns out to be, for much of who he is, you can blame me. It’s exciting, daunting, challenging. I guess its parenting.

thinking of having kids?

My friend forwarded this to me and it’s pretty stinking hilarious.  Present author did not write it so cannot be held responsible for material enclosed.  Present author further does not know who wrote it so we can’t throw tomatoes or laud with tweet blasts.  You’ll simply have to giggle.

Thinking of Having Kids?

Lesson 1

  1. Go to the grocery store.
  2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
  3. Go home.
  4. Pick up the paper.
  5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their…

  1. Methods of discipline.
  2. Lack of patience.
  3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
  4. Allowing their children to run wild.
  5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
  6. Enjoy it, because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

To discover how the nights will feel…

  1. Walk around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly.
  2. At 10PM, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
  3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
  4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
  5. As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink.
  6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
  7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
  8. Sing songs in the dark until 4AM.
  9. Get up. Make breakfast.
  10. Keep this up for 5 years.
  11. Look cheerful.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out…

  1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
  2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
  3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
  4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
  5. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

  1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
  2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.
  3. Time allowed for this – all morning.

Lesson 6

  1. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a jar of paint, turn it into an alligator.
  2. Now take the tube from a roll of toilet paper. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of aluminum foil, turn it into an attractive Christmas candle.
  3. Last, take a milk carton, a ping-pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Puffs.
  4. Make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Lesson 7

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don’t think that you can leave it  out  in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don’t look like that.

  1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
  2. Get a dime. Stick it in the dvd player.
  3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat.
  4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

Lesson 8

  1. Get ready to go out.
  2. Wait outside the bathroom for half an hour.
  3. Go out the front door.
  4. Come in again.Go out.
  5. Come back in.
  6. Go out again.
  7. Walk down the front path.
  8. Walk back up it.
  9. Walk down it again.
  10. Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes.
  11. Stop , inspect minutely, and ask at least 6 questions about every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way.
  12. Retrace your steps.
  13. Scream that you have had as much as you can stand until the neighbors come out and stare at you.
  14. Give up and go back into the house.

You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

Lesson 9

Repeat everything at least (if not more than) five times.

Lesson 10

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full- grown goat is excellent). If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week’s groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having  children.

Lesson 11

  1. Hollow out a melon.
  2. Make a small hole in the side.
  3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
  4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying  melon by pretending to be an airplane.
  5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
  6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.
  7. You are now ready to feed a 9 month old baby.

Lesson 12

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Disney, the Doodlebops, and the Wiggles. Watch nothing else on TV for at least five years.

Lesson 13

Move to the tropics. Find or make a compost pile. Dig down about halfway and stick your nose in it. Do this 3-5 times a day for at least two years.

Lesson 14

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying “mommy” repeatedly. (Important: no more than a 4 second delay between each “mommy”; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip  with a toddler.

Lesson 15

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the “mommy” tape made from Lesson 14 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.