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Parenting Archive

Winning the Race

Ahhh…the old Hotwheels in a bottle trick eh? Try to get that one out.

Ahhh…the old Hotwheels in a bottle trick eh? Try to get that one out.

We all know the supposed “mommy wars”. Breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Co-sleeping vs crib sleeping. Working vs staying at home. Every mother has her own opinion, and unfortunately it usually differs from the one next door. Of course each one thinks her way is best, they butt heads, and the mommy wars begin.

The last few weeks I’ve been noticing a new trend. On Facebook and through emails, there have been numerous links shared to different blogs centered around spending time with your children. Great right? Nothing bad can come of that. I enjoyed reading them, and they were a good reminder to me on tough day to quit texting or cleaning and get down on the floor and PLAY. To enjoy my kids for who they are in this exact moment, for I will never get the moment back again. I was part of this revolution…the revolution to put away the phone and be a good mom.

I began turning off the radio in the car to talk to Liam about things. I began pointing out things in the store and giving him lists and taking advantage of educational moments. I turned my phone off for hours at a time. This is good, I thought. This is what I’m supposed to be doing so I don’t miss anything. I can’t miss anything.

But then it began to consume me. My few moments to enjoy music that wasn’t the beginning of the Cat in the Hat was gone and replaced with chatter about if bugs poop or why I’m turning left and not right. I was stuck inside Target with a kid having a melt down because I wanted to leave before he was done finding “something red” (horrible color choice for eye spy in Target. Horrible. Every freaking thing is red in that place). I had no adult contact, no inside jokes to laugh at on the side while playing Monster Jam on the living room floor.

Because this is how it’s supposed to be, right? Right.

Except I feel like it’s not. I am me. I am an individual person outside of who’s mother I am. Sometimes I don’t want to be climbed on, I don’t want to see how big your booger is, and I’d rather be locked in the bathroom than watch you smash my carefully built play-doh rabbit for the upteenth time. The immense guilt I feel is overwhelming. Yes the years fly by but oh how long some days can be. Days when I can’t wait till they are peacefully asleep in their beds and I can sit on the couch and do nothing. Except I am doing something…I’m feeling like I must be the worst mom ever and stressing out over what I can do with them tomorrow to make up for my inattentiveness today. That surely when I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, my 3 year old mastered long division and I missed it forever. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will ask him to show me. Always tomorrow. Oh wait…I’m not supposed to think that. Today. I only have today. Don’t put it off. It doesn’t matter that I’m exhausted to the point of tears. Do it today. Now.

The latest mommy war: who can spend more time with their kids? Who is more tolerant? If you wish for an hour of having your body and mind back, you lose. You don’t need that. You can have that when they are grown. Enjoy it now. Soak up every moment. If you aren’t sufficiently soaking, you are failing and will cry with regret on your death bed. You better be a fat dripping sponge of “now” moments.

While you are sitting there being that giant wet sponge, make sure you glare at the mommy at the park who is looking at her phone. Who cares if she spent every moment up till now on the floor playing with her kids and now she’s taken them to the park to play so she can maintain contact with her friends without feeling guilty? She should be climbing the slides alongside her kids. Running. Putting those yoga pants to use.

Come on. Seriously. Stop. Embrace each other. Embrace all of us on this journey. Embrace the fact that to give ourselves to our kids, we have to have something left to give in the first place. Stop the mommy war of guilt. Take care of yourselves, and offer help when you have extra to give. Because behind that internet cover up of moms out there who devote every second of themselves around the clock are moms like us who lock themselves in the bathroom for 5 minutes with a cup of coffee and a magazine that hasn’t been ripped up. Moms who try to take a deep breath and relax but instead notice the Hotwheels in the toilet and the tiny fingers reaching under the door. Because the years are short but the days are long and guess what? You’re doing a good job. We all are. So raise that chipped coffee cup and take a drink before you have to reach into the toilet. Cheers!

Baby? What baby?

Baby? What baby?

Warpaint?
Warpaint?

 

Surviving Transitions

Gaining perspective is one of the greatest gifts of watching your kid(s) grow up. With each year that passes, and with each child that you raise, you live and learn. You also mellow a little bit, which is really helpful if you’re going to stand any chance of surviving your child’s teenage years.  But you never forget the ages and stages – I least I haven’t.

From a child passenger safety standpoint, I have survived every inevitable transition there is and it’s given me the wisdom and perspective to be able to help other parents who may be on a new and unfamiliar road that I have already traveled. Rear-facing to forward-facing; 5-point harness to booster; booster to passing the 5-Step Test using just the adult seatbelt; moving from the rear seat to the front passenger seat and now this…

 

 

Quick, someone please reassure me that we will all survive this transition because I’m not so sure about this one!

 

Unofficial Product Review: Pink Rubber Frog From the Floor of Home Depot.

Product: See title.
Manufacturer: I don’t know but it might as well have been Jesus himself.
Uses: Everything.

Liam found this gem on the floor of Home Depot when I was picking up some mulch. It is a very very soft rubbery pink frog about the size of a quarter that was laying in a puddle of filthy water, just waiting for some grubby small hands to snatch it up while an adult voice echoes in the background, “Noooooo! Get out of that water!!!!”.

At first glance it seems to be another piece of crap that will end up on the floor of your car, in that awkward space between the counter and the fridge, or clogging up your vacuum. But no my friends. Don’t judge. This small frog will make your day about as smooth as it can be with a spirited, stubborn, and determined toddler. This frog can be rolled between fingers, causing your child to actually SIT IN A CHAIR while eating breakfast. It can be used as a bribe to get on the potty and pee before leaving the house. When dangled along the driveway, it can be used to lure the child in a *gasp* timely fashion to the car. While in the car, the sunlight shining in from the window makes sparkly reflections off it’s pearlescent back and onto the vehicle seat, distracting the child from kicking on the 5 minute drive to Target. While in Target, the frog fits perfectly in the fingers of the child, and hops from pack of toilet paper to pack of toilet paper, then along the wall, all throughout the store. Being so small and rubbery, it’s limbs can get caught on the metal shelving, causing a leg to rip off. Instead of tears, this causes a whole new interest of trying to do toddler “surgery” to get it back on, all while riding quietly in the cart. Once back in the car, now the body and the severed limb make not one but TWO shiny spots!! At home, it can be placed on the very top of a dresser, and used to bribe the child into a nap with the promise of burying it in the sand at the park later. It also works as a bribe to take a bath, get jammies on, and get in bed because it has magically developed the ability to speak (but isn’t it weird that mama’s lips are moving too?). This frog trumps every $50 toy your child will ever own.

Folks, this is a quarter sized pink rubber bribe. For free. Aside from the potential biohazard of the puddle it was originally found in, and the fact that it’s conveniently the size of a child’s windpipe….but hey, we all have to take risks for our sanity, right?

Next time you’re at Home Depot, check all the puddles that look like sewage. And if you’re not quite ready to commit but may be interested in just a pink rubber frog leg, it’s somewhere in the sandbox in Mint Hill, NC.

This frog will change your life. Or day.

This frog will change your life. Or day.

 

It’s like Russian Roulette with Play-Doh

Raising your kid is just like that. You try to mold them and shape them to the type of person you want them to be, but at the same time who they are and who they become is really a crapshoot. You can influence them, but they pull the trigger. Am I who I am because of my parents? Yes, because they walked me through the first part of my life and taught me things while holding me to a higher standard than some other parents. But also no, because I am my own person with my own personality and opinions. They are proud of me for my education and decisions I’ve made in my life, but also my mom comments constantly that she has no clue how the heck she ended up with such a crunchy treehugging daughter.

I think about this a lot when it comes to Liam and it’s kind of scary. There are all these things I want him to do, see, and be, but I know there are going to be tons of hard times and pain in his life too. Things out of my control. Situations where I won’t be there to help him. Situations where he will have to make his own decision based on what he thinks is right and good. And I hope I lay a sturdy enough foundation that he can build on to make those decisions. Problem is, I’ve always been a very shoddy handyperson and my organization skills suck. I remember when he was smaller, at night I would lay in the pitch black, on my side with my knees drawn up, with him balled up against my stomach, one hand under his cheek and the other thrown over me in a sleepy hug while he nursed in his sleep. My hand was always on the same spot of his back, and I would always think to myself how perfect it all is and how I wish we could just stay there forever before I drifted back into unconsciousness and he rolled away into his little space to sleep sprawled out with his butt in the air.

What do I want for him? I can’t even think of it all. And I can’t find right words for most of the things.

I want him to be happy, obviously. But not the ignorant, blissful kind of happy. I want the happiness that is a rarity when a person KNOWS all the negatives and sadness and awfulness, but also knows all the goodness and beauty in life and chooses to be happy because of it. I struggle with this a lot and I wish I knew how to raise him so he won’t have to. That it will just come naturally.

I want him to give. I figured this out early on, and I wish I knew how I did. That nothing is more important in this world than reaching out for other people and holding them. Giving them what they need. That is the only way we will survive anything, and I believe it’s the purpose of life. To give. The earth is constantly giving to us. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here. There is no need to worry about yourself because if others are giving and have the same mentality as you, then you will be taken care of. I want him to feel the joy of taking what you have and giving it to someone else. How it really does come back to you tenfold. I want him to reach out not with rose colored glasses, but with clear ones so he can see things for what they are but choose to give anyway. And I want others to give to him.

I want him to be humble. I want him to look at a leaf and see the tiny veins and intricacies that no one notices unless they study it. I want him to feel wind blowing onto his face and marvel that his body knows to breathe it in even when he’s not thinking about it. I want him to look at an elderly person’s hand and see the withering and thin skin. Feel awe and wonder at the fact that it has touched things in the past that he will never know, and that it is nature’s jacket housing a soul that will never be duplicated. I want him to look into a baby’s eyes and see how wide open and unmarred they are. That the pure newness is a gift to humanity and enough to make you cry with gratefulness. I want him to know he is special and loved and unique in every way and that he is the only one on the entire planet that is HIM. But I also want him to know that goes for everyone else as well. That we are all that way. And sometimes we look at another person with disgust and forget that. That we were all nonexistent at some point, but then were put together and now are here. I want him to feel pure awe that I made something from nothing, knit him together inside my own body. Every capillary and hair follicle was grown from nothing at all, and made into the most perfect baby boy I have ever seen in my life. That in and of itself should make anyone humble, because we all know it happens without us doing anything. We don’t actively build that life. And I want him to wonder who or what does. I don’t care whether he calls it God/Goddess, Nature, Evolution, or Bill Nye the Science Guy. I just want him to feel that awe and that belonging and that feeling that there is something bigger than we are happening all around us every day.

I want him to understand how much I love him. I want him to experience that same ferocity that makes you say, “screw all the niceness and the fact that everyone is special and equal and all that junk. You hurt my baby and I will rip out your throat with my bare hands”. The joy that makes your chest ache when you see their smile. The tears that fall either out of feeling physical pain when they do, or out of feeling awestruck at their existence. The urge to keep them balled up against your stomach in the dark, wishing time would stop so you never have to leave that safe place.

I want him to laugh. All the time. Because life happens regardless of whether you are cracking up or scowling. And it’s much easier to get through if you laugh.

I want him to have a connection with animals. There is something about staying connected to that raw innocence and purity that keeps you from getting swept up in humankind and all it’s crap. I want him to realize that sometimes just laying on your stomach in the dirt next to a dog and watching the sky is more worthwhile than shopping or driving around or buying things. That they will teach you things if you let them. They have no flaws, and people mistake their meekness for inferiority. I want him to learn respect, devotion, loyalty, and humbleness and I can think of no better way than to spend time with animals.

But mostly I want him to stay little. Every milestone makes me smile and breaks my heart at the same time. I remember clapping my hands for him while smiling and telling him how good he was when he pulled himself to his feet for the first time while holding onto the couch. As his toes curled into the carpet for balance, I thought about how his grip on life will take him away from me and out on his own little by little. And how he is my little ball of play doh, so I’ll do my best to not make him too lumpy and uneven. Then I took his picture and smiled because I’m so lucky to be the chosen one for him.

The Great Escape.

Well, it finally happened. The moment I’ve been dreading for 2.5 years. I’m actually watching it unfold for the millionth time over the baby monitor as I type this.

He learned to climb out of his crib.

It just happened out of the blue one morning. I woke up around 8 (Liam usually wakes up between 8 and 8:30) and went out to the living room. His bedroom door was closed like it always is when he sleeps, so I didn’t think a thing of it. I entered the living room and had a cross between a heart attack and a reflex to kick some arse, because some man was sitting on our couch.

Except that man was 37 inches tall, wearing firetruck pajamas, and playing some cop game on the iPad, totally ignoring me.

With no prior practice or warning, he had climbed out of his bed, shut the door behind him and gone out to play games by himself. That afternoon he climbed out of his crib 4 times and after the fourth time of me saying “No. Go to sleep.” he finally gave in and took a nap. That was a month or so ago and he didn’t try to climb out again after that till Saturday. Saturday he was napping as usual and a couple came by to buy a stroller I had listed on Craigslist. Liam came walking out of his room like it was no big deal, handed the guy his sock, and climbed up in the kitchen chair demanding a snack. From that day on, it has been a battle of the wills. Last night he climbed out of his crib twice at bedtime, the first time catching me eating cake and freaking out that I had kept it a secret and waited till he was in his cage to eat it. This morning I woke up in bed, opened my eyes, and noticed that I had his pillow, Elmo, and 7 cloth diapers piled on my back. Apparently the Escape Artist Fairy had visited me in my sleep before heading to the living room to catch bad guys on the iPad.

As I write this he is standing in his crib, one leg flung over the side, yelling “I WILL get out Mama! I WILL!!”.

I know the solution is to buy him a big boy bed. Which we are, in a few weeks when our tax return comes through. He’s getting the Kura bed from Ikea so I’m hoping the cool factor will help him stay in it. But basically my heart sinks because I know a bed is just going to increase our battles. His crib has been my haven for 2 years. A place I can put him where he can’t get me. He is the most demanding, loud, intense child I have ever met, and the idea of no longer having a place where he lays down quietly and goes to sleep frightens me. Yes, I could put a gate in his doorway but he will just scream on the other side of it and that doesn’t grant me any breaks. It just fries my nerves.

So to the next milestone we go. Bye Bye Crib, Hello Big Boy Bed. Transitions. It’s all about transitions. This whole thing reminds me of car seats. You know the whole, “Each step forward is a step back in safety”? For us it’s, “Each transition forward is a step back in my sanity.”

Just wait. As soon as my eyes open, I will make a break for it.