Posts Tagged 'Parenting'

A Night of Football and Peanut Butter

PirateGoing to a Homecoming game really shouldn’t be so complicated.

I had planned on going to the game for only a little bit, so I didn’t stress when I somehow managed to leave the house without the diaper bag (at least I had the baby, right?).  We get there nice and early, score rockstar parking and perfect seats, and sit down to enjoy each other’s company (which you know is the only reason I went, I have no idea what football even is).  Five minutes into J’s very entertaining antics, there’s a suspicious rumbling, and a very distinctive eye-watering odor coming from his general presence.  Awesome.  The game hadn’t even started yet.  So much for just going home during halftime.  Back to the car with the boy I go, sadly waving goodbye to my parking spot.  At least our seats would still be waiting for us, thanks to my family. 

Once at home, I change J’s pants in record time, let the dog in, give her food, and prepare to give her medicine, all the while blocking J’s efforts get into every no-no in the house.  (Less than five minutes home, and the house looks like a tornado hit it.  There’s not a bowl left in the cupboards, not a toy in his toybox.  He even managed to empty the bottom drawer on my dresser.  How does he *do* that?)  I stuff the dog’s pills in peanut butter (gross), and it’s at this point that J makes a beeline to play in the dog’s water dish (aka, toilet).   Normally, the doors are shut so it’s not an issue, but the dog needed a drink and we were supposed to be leaving the house, so I had opened the bathroom  door. 

My hands are covered in peanut butter (have I mentioned before that I’m awkward and kind of klutzy?), and in the process of running to scoop my son out of the toilet (at least it’s been cleaned today) I somehow manage to spread it to my pants, my elbow, and of course, Jayden.  Lather us both up in soap (“That’s yucky!” doesn’t even begin to cover this situation), strip him out of his dripping shirt, and then remember that I never made it home to do laundry today, so the only clean thing J has is an orange shirt.  Orange is The Enemy, I can’t put him in that.  My sister would kill me.  Suddenly I’m the tornado, destroying my semi-clean room in the effort of finding something suitably clean and un-orange for the boy to wear.  J helps by removing every book off the bookshelf.  Thanks, son. 

I emerge from the piles of clothing triumphant, and a very happy baby shoots squealing out of the room, crawling just as fast as his little legs could propel him.  Just as I’m about to catch the wee monster, he trips (that’s my boy), landing face first on the wood floor.  Oh, the tears.  The silent scream.  Red face. 

There’s hugs, kisses, nursing, and finally he’s forgotten that his mouth hurts… and instead he’s drifting off to sleep.  No, baby, I paid to get into the game, and it hasn’t even started yet!  (Correction: it’s starting right now!)  Luckily, J became distracted by something, I have no idea what, so I stuff him in his shirt, grab the diaper bag, and out the door we go. 

Only now, there’s nowhere to park.  I mean, nowhere.  For blocks.  I should have just left the car at home and marched myself the whole way.  Twenty minutes later, I’m still hunting for a spot in this state and debating just going home (but I paid to get in).  My family was beginning to think I’d fallen off the planet.  Finally I find a spot about 3 miles away, and I was thankful.  Wrap up the boy, and off we go. 

Just as I reach the bleachers, I realize that my shirt is getting wet.  J must have missed the diaper, awesome.  I did not grab an extra pair of pants, of course, because of the lack of clean clothes.  Sure enough, when I pull him out of his little wrap cocoon, his pants are wet.  Well, the boy and I are just going to have to suffer through being covered in baby pee, because there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to turn around and walk all the way back to my car now.  And forget halftime, we’re fully committed to the game now.  (It was actually decided after much debate between my sister and I that J had not, in fact, peed on me, but that he had gotten wetter than I realized during his Toilet Bowl Adventure.  Not sure which is worse, actually.)

The thing about football games, apparently, is that they go on forever.  And of course, I have no idea what’s going on, so I cheer when other people cheer, but the rest of the time I spent trying to prevent J from whacking the guy in front of us (the guy did not find this amusing) and chattering with my sister (who may  have actually wanted to watch the game, I don’t know).  Sometime in the last minute and a half of the game (which of course lasted at least twenty), J finally gave it up and fell asleep.  Not in the wrap, as I had planned, making it easy to carry him during the long hike to the car, but on my lap, in a tangled pile of wrap and blankets. 

Amazingly, he stayed asleep through the awkward walk to my sisters car and the rough hand off as I dumped him in her lap while my mom and I went to retreive my car.  Then we unwrap him from the mess of blanket and I gently place him in his car seat (by gently, I mean quietly curse as I bump his head and plop him awkwardly in the seat).  He didn’t even stir.  I thought for sure he would wake up when I tried to get him out at home, but all that football and wiggling must have worn him out, because I got him all the way inside, past the happy dog who licked him on our way by, and into bed without so much as a whimper.  Finally, sweet success.

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My Baby Can Beat Up Your Baby (and Other Ridiculous Comparisons)

Standing in line at the bank today, I got asked the question I have come to dread:  “So, is he walking yet?”After responding with the same defensive “No–but he’s really close!” that I have been saying for over two months now, she launches into this big story about how her niece is only nine months old and already walking.  She says it like she just composed her first symphony or something.  “That’s nice,” I tell her.  What I’m thinking is, “I bet she’s an ugly baby.”

My son is smart, entertaining, healthy, and completely within the normal age range for learning to walk.  He will walk when he’s good and ready, and I’m completely fine with that.  I harbor no secret anxieties about his development, I have no desire to push him to reach that milestone before he’s ready.  So why do I feel like we were in a race, and just lost?

It’s completely overwhelming, this feeling of competition that washes over me.  Logically, I know that every child is different and they all do things in their own time.  Logically, I know that comparing my child to another is not only unhealthy and frustrating for me, but also a complete waste of time.  But logic has nothing to do with it.  I simply cannot control myself.  I see another baby about J’s age, and I am compelled to compare them.  How much does your baby weigh?  Does he talk yet? Oh, he’s walking.  Well, mine has more teeth and he says “patty cake!”   I sound like a fourth grader, for crying out loud.

And of course, this competitiveness isn’t limited to just strangers I happen upon.  Oh, no.  I like to share the experience with my friends and family as well.  It usually starts off innocently, something like “How’s it going?”  Next thing I know, we’re in a verbal sparring match pitting baby against baby, birth story against birth story, mother against mother.  A perfect example is the comment made by a friend of mine on my post about signing with my baby. “Your baby signs?  Neat. Well, mine knows Spanish!”  Clearly, she cannot control herself either.

The funny thing is, I don’t even think it’s about Jayden at all.  It’s about me.  Underlying all the defensiveness is the feeling that my mothering abilities are in question.  Somehow, every time someone asks me if he’s walking, or sleeping through the night, or solving world hunger.  I feel like somehow I’m failing as a mom because the answer is no.  I may not think that consciously (and I’d deny it if you asked), but the feeling is there. 

I’m wrong, of course.  We are not better parents if our baby insert milestone here earlier than another, and quite frankly all this ridiculous competetion is a waste of energy.  We should be uniting and focusing our collective energy on more important things, like eradicating florescent lighting or banning loud commercials on TV.  Oh, and did I mention that J signed the entire national anthem this afternoon?  Take that, walking nine month old.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

And so we meet...
 
One year ago today, a miracle landed in my life.
 
Literally, landed.  After hours of back labor and doctor drama (a story in itself), Jayden Eli surprised everyone by arriving in a rush and landing on the hospital floor.  The nurse had just enough time to put her hand under his head, but the rest of him met the ground with an audible splat.  How was it the doctor put on the chart?  Oh yes, “arrived precipitously on the hospital floor.”  He was immediately nicknamed Crash.

He was a month early, tiny and blue and I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised to find him suddenly in the outside world.  There was a long moment when everything froze, and we just stared at each other.  I probably would have stayed frozen like that for the rest of the day, but nurses rushed in to lift me to the bed and move J to the baby warmer where they spent a good deal of time trying to get him to breathe.  I’d tell you how terrifying that was, but in all honesty it didn’t become scary to me until much later.  I think I was in shock, because I just stared in silence as the doctors and nurses fluttered around him. 

The next few hours were utter chaos.  We’re not even sure what time he was actually born, because no one managed to look at the clock.  Not that I cared much about that.  Nothing mattered beyond the tiny little being that had finally been placed in my arms.  It wasn’t until the dark, quiet hours of that following night that it suddenly connected in me that the bundle I had been clutching for hours was actually the same baby that had been inside of me for all those months.  It was a very strange, powerful moment.  I had not slept for over 48 hours.  I had been through the most intense, grueling, powerful experience of my life.  And yet… I have never been so incredibly exhilirated as I was in that moment.  I couldn’t have slept, even if I had wanted to.

We had a rough start, Jayden and I, but you wouldn’t know it looking at us now.  He has thrived and grown (perhaps a little too quickly for my taste), evolved from the tiny helpless stranger that fell into my life to the  happy, quirky, opinionated toddler who lights up my world. 

It’s been a good year.  Happy birthday, baby.

Invasion of the Bees

I opened the patio door to let the dog out this afternoon and, no exaggeration, at least ten bees rushed in. Next thing I know, the dog is chasing the bees, the baby is chasing the dog (quite delighted with this new game), and I am chasing the baby while doing that ducking thing that is somehow supposed to protect me from the bees.

Baby successfully caught, I retreat to our bedroom (still bee-free) and consider my options. Perhaps I can abandon the rest of the house to the bees? We don’t use it much anyway. Maybe the bees will appreciate such a grand gesture and we can live together in peace. Maybe if I wait long enough, the dog will have them all taken care of? Probably not.

I cautiously venture from our safety zone to find that the bees have not, in fact, disappeared. They are everywhere-swarming the high chair, the garbage, the windows. And the trusty dog has given up the fight and is simply enjoying the show. I debate getting the fly swatter, but my hand-eye coordination really leaves a lot to be desired and that’s a sure way to get stung.

I managed to encourage most of the bees out the door they came in (dog too, lot of help she was), but in the end there were two that were very content buzzing low on the kitchen floor. Once J discovered them, he was sure they were a neat new toy just for him. In a flash of mommy genius, I grabbed a big tuperware bowl that he had been playing with before the whole fiasco started and trapped the bees underneath.

Except now I have a little bee-tent in my kitchen (and for a baby, that’s even more fun than the bees themselves). I suppose I could just leave them there? If I get duct tape, J wouldn’t be able to set them free (we can’t do that. The number one rule of bee etiquette is Don’t Piss Off the Bee, and I’m pretty sure that trapping said bee under a bowl breaks that rule). At least they have each other, and won’t be lonely. No one wants to die alone.

Except now I’m thinking about how all the honey bees are dying and how that’s bad for pollenation and our planet and now I am Part of the Problem. What kind of example am I setting for my son? Feeling a little guilty, I immediately begin Operation Free Bee. I find an empty box and cut off a side to make a bee-tent lid. Ever so carefully, I slide the cardboard under the bee-tent. As I carry the whole thing to the door, I tell the bees, “This is all been a big misunderstanding. Please don’t be angry, and tell your friends to be nice to me.” I awkwardly balance the bee tent and push the door open with my elbow, blocking the baby with my legs as I step outside. Cringing and returning to the protective ducking stance of earlier, I lift the bowl and prepare to face the Wrath of the Bee.

When nothing happens, I look down to find two crumpled bee bodies on the cardboard lid. My son watches with innocent eyes as I dispose of the evidence of the murdered bees. So much for good examples and saving the planet.

We are on the lookout for retaliation from the bee community.

Speaking of Messes…

Well, I don’t think I need to worry about writing my acceptance speech for the Mommy of the Year award anytime soon.

It started last night, when I couldn’t figure out why J was so awake and restless at 11. Then he got diarrhea, and I clued in that he wasn’t feeling all that great. It was a long night of patting and soothing and having a very wiggly baby wanting to be right on top of me. Still, he slept in and seemed better this morning… Until a major blowout diaper as I was leaving for work, which of course not only meant a change of clothes for the boy and myself but also somehow ended up meaning a total change of bedding was necessary as well (dang, he moves fast). Finally get out the door, officially late for work, and there he goes again.

It’s at this point that a smart mommy would just turn around and call it a day, but he seemed ok (other than the smell), and with it being a short week I really needed to get in at least a couple hours. J didn’t have any more bad diapers, but he was incredibly clingy and spent most of his day sitting on my lap pushing his head into me and yelling “MAMAMAMAMAAAAA!” He didn’t take an afternoon nap, which really improved things, all the way around. It was so frustrating because there wasn’t anything I could really do for him.. When I heard myself whining back at him “PLEEEASE, baby, mommy needs to work,” I finally realized it was pointless and packed it up. Of course, by then it was 4:00 and we were both hot and sticky and more than a little cranky.

Then there was dinner to be figured out and sheets to be washed and then the after dinner clean up and bath and pjs and how am I going to get the bed made before it’s time to get in it? All the while there’s his hot little body pressed against mine while he yells “MAMAMAMAAAA!” (Wasn’t I just wishing for him to be small and cuddly just a couple days ago?)

Get through the bedtime routine, he’s asleep and in bed and I finally can go to the bathroom in peace-oh, but he is crying again, repeat. Up down up down… And I know he isn’t feeling well, I know he just needs his mommy, I know the extra nursing will help with his fluids, but mommy’s hot and tired and sticky and somehow the room still stinks like bad baby poop and right now I’m really regretting this whole attachment parenting/co-sleeping thing. (Even though logic says no matter where he sleeps, he would still be wanting his mommy tonight.)

And it’s times like these when I think, is this really my life? When did my world start revolving around baby poop? Why do I have baby food on the back of my neck? I used to be kind of interesting, I used to go out with other adults. Now I just want to sleep, preferably without anyone touching me (even as I write this, he is half draped across me, something that just started last night and I hope doesn’t stick).

And of course I feel guilty and selfish for having these thoughts when my baby so obviously doesn’t feel well, but there you have it. The Mommy Store has run out of patience.

Boo for the Boob Tube

Before you can ask, let me tell you:  No, the boy does not want to watch TV.

Yesterday, I took on a new housecleaning client.  I was pretty excited because not only was Mr. Man okay with me bringing the boy, but there would be a toddler friend for him to play with.  That means not only a new playmate for J, but also no baby proofing necessary.  Neat.

Within five minutes of me arriving, the roommate began to repeatedly ask me if I would like her to turn on some cartoons for J. She kept making comments  about it (in her fake french accent mixed with baby talk, which is a whole ‘nother rant) and offering to put in a movie for him.  I was like, “He’s not even one.  He doesn’t watch TV.”

It wasn’t until the two year old came home that I began to understand why the roommate was so determined that J would need to watch TV.  As soon as the girl walked in the house, the TVs came on.  That’s right, plural.  The TV in the livingroom was turned on to Dora, the kitchen TV was something Nickelodeon, and in her bedroom was a constant stream of Disney movies. 

Let me repeat.  The TV in her bedroom.  

Is it just me, or is it just a  little ridiculous that a two year old has a TV (and DVD player) in her room?  Even more ridiculous is the four hours she spent in there, laying on the floor with her bottle, watching that TV.  Her bookshelves in her room are stacked high with movies, not books.  During lunch, her high chair was moved to sit in front of the livingroom TV.  I don’t think there was a moment that little girl wasn’t plugged in.

Now, I admit, I am pretty anti-TV in general, and always have been.  I don’t even understand adults that have a TV in every room, so I guess the kid/TV thing is a little beyond me.  Growing up, I remember watching a couple of shows (Garfield and the Smurfs, namely), but overall I chose to play outside or in my room over watching television.  As an adult, I find myself irritated by most of what’s on TV–and don’t even get me started on commercials.  I do enjoy vegging out once in a while and I love watching movies, but overall, I would just rather it stay off.

But when it comes to kids–especially my kid–I’m more than just a little anti-TV, I’m downright adamant.  There’s too much information out there on the negative impact TV watching has on kids, especially for kids under three.  It has been linked not only to increased aggression and obesity, but also to problems with attention and memory.  According an article I read, a study done by the University of Washington showed that three year olds who watched two hours of television a day had a 20%  increase in attention problems later on, and that chance goes up 10% for every hour watched.  That’s a pretty big deal, especially when you think about the increase in the number of children being diagnosed with ADD, learning disabilities, and behavior problems.  There’s even some question as to whether watching television has a negative impact on toddler’s  language and speech development.  It’s no wonder the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages any TV viewing for children under two.

“But it’s educational.”  While I have to agree that somehow, watching Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer has got to be better than a kid watching something like Power Rangers (is that even a show?  What is on these days?) or adult-themed shows, I think the basic point is that there’s so much more a toddler can be doing with their time.  What happened to playing blocks, going to the park, reading books?  They learn by interacting with their world (and the people in it), and I don’t think they can do that while glued to a TV show.  Even just having it on “for background noise” not only provides them with way too much of the wrong kind of stimulation, it also teaches them that they must some sort of noise going on all the time.  (And this bags the question of whether or not children under three are even capable of learning from what they watch on TV.  While educational programs have shown some benefit for preschool aged children, there seems to be a general consensus that children under three do not learn from TV.)

Before you get mad at me, I am not saying that if you let your kids watch TV, you’re a horrible parent.  I understand that sometimes, zoning out to a TV show is the perfect way to unwind.  Sometimes popping in a movie not only brings you a few minutes of much-needed peace, but it can be a family event that brings you closer  as well.  I am just saying that people need to be smart about their kid’s TV habits, and be  aware of the impact it can have on their development.  Balance TV time with other activities.

And for Pete’s sake, keep the TV out of their bedroom.

Bye-Bye Baby

My son’s first birthday is eight days away.

I admit: I am a bit of a mess. I know I’m supposed to be excited about this new first, and I am, really. When I’m not completely heartbroken.  Every day he is growing and changing, rapidly shifting from my sweet little baby into a giant toddler (tantrums and all). I find myself wanting to yell, “No, baby, slow down!” Not that I’m not excited about all the new tricks he has (have I mentioned the tantrums?), or the new adventures still to come (he’l be walking any day now). I just thought the baby stage would last a little bit longer.  Silly me, I should have listended to all the other mommies when they told me how fast it was going to go by.  For me, the big birthday event is really just the final send-off to my baby… Welcome to toddlerhood, little one.

Mommy’s not ready.

As the day rapidly approaches when I officially become the mommy of a toddler, I thought I would take a moment and reflect on the last year. It’s been a big one for both the boy and I. Let’s see… I had a baby, left an abusive relationship (and lost a stepson in the process), moved back to small town Montana, and began the quest to become an awesome single mommy.  It is certainly not the way I had envisioned things going, although I am proud to say we’re doing alright.  This has been the single most emotional, life-altering and rewarding year of my life.   And somewhere tucked in all the upheaval and personal change are all those little moments of my baby’s first year of life… The first time I held him in my arms… he was so tiny.  That baby smell, completely new and fresh.  His first smile. The way he used to fit so small and perfect in my arms.   The first time he sat up on his own–he got excited he threw himself backwards (actually, he still does that).  His first laugh. The day he said mama.

Now there are sippy cups and bonked heads and the constant refrain of “Don’t bite the dog!” and his charming new ability to scream at the top of his lungs because he wants something RIGHT NOW.  And his sweet kisses and peekabo and first steps and… yeah, I love this age, too.

So when the day comes, I will wipe my eyes and hold on tight to my new little toddler. I have the feeling it’s going to be another big year, and I don’t want to miss a thing.