Posted in Mom-ents

Attendance

As I was putting you to bed after a day full of itself, you struggled to calm down. I pretended to turn off the question part of your brain by patting the top of your head. You turned to me, and cocky, you explained that you are always in question mode.

And it was everything I could do to stop the sigh in the back of my throat. Because curiosity is amazing and communication is essential. But when those two traits combine in one small boy, they combust.

This, after you explained to your baby brother that his car seat cries were not an emergency because it was a short drive.
– “Nolan, we are almost home. Why don’t you understand it hurts our ears when you cry in the car.”

This after you melted down because we wouldn’t let you draw on your fancy menu at the restaurant.
– “But it’s making me boring.”
And based on the the fire and brim stone sermon you delivered, boring you in a sin.

This after I watched you stand your ground to a boy twice your size at the indoor playground.
– “Don’t push me!” you demanded, fully certain that the nine year old in front of you would listen in spite of, or maybe because of, your size. And because you were right, because you knew you were right, because you were so sure – he did listen.

And then, when you finally stopped talking about why raccoons were dirty and you succombed to the exhaustion of the day, your breathing slowed and steadied.

But then, a sleepy drawn out, “Mama?”
“Yes, baby?”

And nothing.

There was no topic that needed explained, no complaint to cite, no indignity to reckon.

You were taking attendance.

And in your final question of the night, I heard all the unspoken questions of the day ; I could hear all the ones that really matter, the questions that are hidden inside the outburts and cries and demands of the day that earns each minute of its 24 hours :
Are you still with me?
Will you be near me?
Will you stay till I sleep?
Will you come back if I wake?

“Mama? ”

All the inflection and only one word.

“Mama?”

Yes, baby. ”
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Posted in It had to be said, Mom-ents, Uncategorized

Growth and development: or. Things I just don’t care about anymore

As the mother of a two and a half year old, I have endless opportunities for “growth” . As a Type-A, perfectionist, I don’t really appreciate these “opportunities” because I am trying so hard to match some parenting philosophy or to practice mindfulness or I am worried about blah, blah, blah….

Here’s my newest growth gift to myself: a list of things I will simply not worry about for now.

1. My son throwing food on the floor: it’s going to happen (he thinks he’s sharing with the dog. I think they have some racket going on-I just can’t figure out what the boy gets out of it…). Eventually, this will end, but, dinner hosts, please keep this in mind when menu planning- just because I’m done worrying about it doesn’t mean you want red sauce on your beige carpet. Actually, if you have beige carpet-I should probably just get a sitter, my kid is a walking dirt cloud.

Which brings me to number two…

2. How dirty the boy gets: I just can’t anymore. Yesterday, I watched him eat handfuls of dirt. He would put it in his mouth, spit it out, say “yuck” , and then eat more. I’m done monitoring his dirt intake and his dirt coverage. This is why we buy Elmo soap, and if I’m too tired for a bath, this is why God made summer hot and garden hoses so much fun.

3. I am done matching socks: socks are stupid, matching them is a lesson in banality. Wear sandals or match your own ( I’m talking to you, toddler! If you can pull them off during a tantrum, you can match them too)

4. I am done with Pinterest exercise routines. I go to Pinterest to waste time, figure out outfits, find recipes I’ll never make and crafts I won’t create because I don’t want to buy the odd ingredients for either one. I’m not going to do the exercises; I just want to counter balance the calories in my food board.

5. I will no longer worry about what time my son goes to sleep or what time he wakes up. He’s a night owl, so am I . For that matter, he’s a bad sleeper, so am I. We’re figuring it out, it’s cool. I am really enjoying his nine am wake ups, so if that means he didn’t go to bed till 11, it’s alright.

6. Serving a vegetable at every meal: the pressure! I wish he ate salad but he doesn’t. At some point, he’ll want to eat leaves like his Daddy and I.

7. Yelling, crying, temper tantrums: I imagine it’s tough to be a toddler. People boss you around all day, sometimes they carry you against your will , I imagine I would yell a lot too. I am actually OK with telling, temper tantrums, and the like- as long as he isn’t throwing things or hitting me, things are good. I figure any verbal communication is a step in the right direction.

8. The state of my floors: I can’t keep the magnetic letters, match box cars, pants, books, and cracker fragments off the floor. When you add in the dog hair, my husband’s size 14 shoes, my bags, and the randomly placed pillow fort, there is no way I can get ahead of this situation. I either need a maid or the Suck – It ( if you aren’t an Office fan, this reference, sadly, just passed you by). In the meantime, either wear your shoes or play hop scotch across my house.

9. The toddler landmine that is my car: current contents of my car : stray cracker crumbs, toy parts, socks, half empty water bottles, bobby pins, and various emergency supplies ( including my back up lipstick)

In the course of a day, I figure I worry about 7,145 things. Taking these nine things off my player isn’t going to make that much of a difference ; however, it does lighten my load ( and make me feel less guilty when I hop scotch over the mega blocks in the family room).

Posted in Mom-ents

Confessions of a Jesus loving, stay at home, teacher mama

I confess…

It takes every ounce of patience to keep my temper when the toddler throws food. I want to lose it when hard work, good nutrients, and ( let’s be honest) money splatters all over the wall. 

I sometimes, more frequently than I’d like, take out my frustrations by yelling at the dog for minor infractions. Yesterday, I whipped out a war cry on a squirrel who was eating all the seeds in the bird feeder- that was awesome, for me, not the squirrel ( or the neighbors) . 

My 2.5 year old son has only slept thru the night a handful of times. If your kid is a good sleeper, I don’t want to know. Seriously, keep that to yourself or risk injury. 

I think not sleeping thru the night is actually pretty typical for little people, but parents don’t talk about it. I call BS on keeping that info to yourself! 

I love Jesus. I don’t think Jesus really cares if we use four letter “cuss ” words; however, I know my husband does care, so out of respect to him- I try really, really hard not to use them…. I miss them. 

 I hate putting shoes on my son. I can’t be the only one to feel this way, right? Summer is great! Bare feet ! I look all natural mama, and really I just can’t take the sock/shoe temper tantrum. 

There are at least three times a week that I want to run away to a hotel or my mom’s house. Not because things are bad, just because I need to breathe. 

I miss stupid parts of my life before a child: like binge watching Netflix with my hubs and eating cereal for dinner. This shames me… The highlights of my days were The Office and Frosted Mini Wheats. 

I change my outfit multiple times a day- even if I’m not going anywhere. This provides my husband with endless jokes and me with endless dirty looks. 

I get tired of pretending that mothering and parenting and wife-ing are spiritual, blissful experiences all the time. They aren’t. Sometimes they are, and those days are gifts and fabulous. Sometimes, they are hard and full of thankless effort. I think if we were more upfront about the work, and tension and effort of adult life less people would get divorced or feel bad because their lives don’t look like their Pinterest boards. So this blog is my effort to be real about my non-magazine, good is better than perfect life. 

… Also, I’m a little addicted to Pinterest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Mom-ents

Baby Monkey…..

The saga of Baby Monkey and the egg shelfSwinging Baby MonkeyHospital with Baby MonkeyLunch timePutting Baby Monkey to bed on the floor ( this "nap" lasted 3.7 seconds)My husband and I have a dog and a cat; our toddler has Baby Monkey. Much like a pet, Baby Monkey joins us in various family activities. Last night, we took the dog and Baby Monkey to the park where my husband pushed him on the swings ( Baby Monkey that is, the dog would never sit on a swing). Today, we put him in the refrigerator in order to rescue him from the egg shelf, all of this before we invited him to join us for lunch (” You wanna eat sketti, Baby Monkey? ” ) In the past two years this one dollar monkey has caused me to say and do some of the most ridiculous things I never imagined. When I was teaching, the boy’s baby sitter was close to my job so we drove 45 minutes each day and Lincoln hated every second of it. He would yell his nine month old heart out. But if Baby Monkey was in the car seat with him, he didn’t protest quite so much. I can remember frantically searching the house for Baby Monkey at the risk of almost being late for work because ,”We need Baby Monkey in the car!! ” ( credit to my husband for actually helping me look instead of telling me I was insane). When Lincoln went into the hospital for dehydration from a virus, Baby Monkey came too. And Baby Monkey slept next to him and didn’t mind the IV. Baby Monkey never complains when Lincoln washes him in the dog’s water bowl. I have learned to sneak Baby Monkey into the dryer though cause that’s a devastating experience for everyone. Just like a pet, Baby Monkey is referred to and accounted for multiple times a day. He is involved in the intimate workings of our household. And because I wasn’t smart enough to buy two of him, he is irreplaceable. So there you have it, the difference between life pre and post child is the value and merit of a six inch stuffed monkey.

Posted in Mom-ents

Staying home, today

When I had my son, I was home with him for six months. During those six months, I was still employed as a high school English teacher, so I was connected to my students, my career, and my degree while I got the benefit of being home with my baby.

When he was six months old, I returned to work for the school year. It was devastatingly hard.

My heart ached for my baby each hour, home life was difficult because my husband and I were both working full time and taking care of an infant and who can keep up with laundry when the baby pukes every two hours and you’ve worked all day? Not us. So I took a hiatus from my dream job. I quit to stay home full time with our son.

I’ve been home a year now. Now that baby is two and a half.

On a “good day” (good nights sleep, enough interaction with adults for me, the house is fairly clean, no temper tantrums… you get the idea) , I feel fulfilled and satisfied. I feel like I am in the place I need to be: raising our son, managing our home.

On a “rough day” ( poor nights sleep, temper tantrums, messy house, poor adult interaction, lack of energy or ideas), I feel trapped and hemmed in.

On a “good day”, I feel validated in quitting my job to attempt the altogether harder job of being the only adult in the house for eight hours at a time.

On a “rough day”, I feel panicked. I question whether I’ll ever find another teaching job. I miss my previous students and the educated discussions we had. I miss interacting with various adults.

On a “good day”, I feel incredibly grateful that my husband supports our financial needs by working everyday.

On a “rough day”, I feel incredibly jealous that he gets to leave and feel important for eight hours a day.

On a “good day”, I feel whole and confident. No one could raise our son like we can; it is a privilege to help him grow. He makes me laugh and I delight in his company. I see the sweet way his hair curls under his ear lobe. I love the way my husband makes him laugh.

On a “rough day”, I question just about everything: Is he eating enough? Why isn’t he a good sleeper? Could I even contemplate doing this again with another baby? Should we discipline differently? Why is he throwing EVERYTHING!? I see the dirt under his finger nails. I nag my husband to fix things.

On a “good day”, even a tantrum can’t throw me because I am grateful I can help him through the big, scary, overwhelming experience of toddler-hood. I am happy to be here.

Today is a “rough day”. I don’t know why. It just is.

I don’t have answers for this binary. It exists. I believe that right now, staying home with our son is the best,right thing for our family. I believe that God has a classroom and students waiting for me for the mysterious day when I go back to work. I also believe that having a “good day”, and all the bliss that goes with it, no more determines the big picture than having a “rough day”, and all the questions that accompany it.

I don’t have to do anything with these feelings. I don’t have to fix a rough day any more than I fix a good day.

God has given me both, and I need to learn from each. Despite the guilt I feel at not ” cherishing every moment ” (as every parenting site and book demands I do) , my brain recognizes that parenting is a lot like a marriage: some days are easier, more fluid than others. When my marriage has a bad day, or even a series of them, I don’t start looking for a parachute. If I’m lucky, I shut my mouth until I can reflect and pray over my heart and I move to do the “next right thing” . Parenting is the same; it is just a more intense lesson and choice  because it is a 24 hour job. I’ve never had a 24 hour job before, so I need to give myself grace to stumble, grumble, fall, and get up again.

A “rough day” doesn’t have to signify anything other than exactly what it is: a reminder that I am human. I don’t have to fix it. I just need to show up and live it.