Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School. Eh.

I have mixed feelings every year about the old "Back to School" gig. Being a student for nearly 20 years, and working in the school system for nearly 6, I feel pre-programmed to HATE back to school. Even though I get to stay home, and even though it's a time a lot of SAHMs look forward to, I have trouble embracing it. While I am excited to have my structure back, I am going to miss my big girl. She is good company (most of the time), a great companion for kid movies, eating out, and shopping, and she is a LOT of help. She's my second set of eyes on baby girl. She's the reason I can shower EVERY day. On the other hand, she's a "MOOOOOOM!" when I'm on the toilet, she's the one taking Baby Girl's toys just to see her mad face, and she's the one leaving cookie crumbs, dirty dishes, and Barbie dolls in a haphazard trail that makes me feel like a dog chasing a coon. In addition to the effects on my home, there are the effects on my wallet. I DREAD the August bank statement, knowing it's like a second Christmas. I LOATHE that stupid school supply list, the worst scavenger hunt known to man. However, I LOVE our yearly shopping trip to Springfield, watching her define her style, helping her find matching shoes, and meandering from store-to-store looking for a good deal. Finally, there are the effects on my girl. It means no more staying up enjoying a late night pretend session with Barbie. It means no more 10 am snack, and no more Good Luck Charlie marathons on rainy days. It means no more runs to the lake, mid-day ice cream cones, or mid-week sleepovers with Nana. It's schedules and school lunches, early mornings and baths at 7, reading, homework, and exhaustion. It's also new activities, kids her age, a structured day, and back to a familiar routine. It's back to seeing friends every day, which can be a good thing, but for my big girl, it's often a struggle. She wants so badly to fit in and befriend almost everyone, but tries so hard and is often rejected. A lot of girls in her class are catty and mean already. They already judge each other based on what they wear, and who their parents are friends with. They sniff out weaknesses like a shark after blood. So it's back to not knowing if it's going to be a good or bad day for her. It's not knowing if she'll disembark the bus with a smile or in tears. It's not knowing if she'll be wanting to pick a fight to vent her frustrations, or if she'll want to sit on my lap, or if she'll just want to be alone. It's back to not being in control. It's giving her heart and emotions to someone else to handle. To mean girls, to ornery boys, to disinterested teachers. She's going from being adored by her baby sis and appreciated by her mom, to a place where she has to work to be liked, and even then fails. They say being a kid these days isn't easy, and that's for sure the truth. But no one ever warned me about the heart-break that comes with being the parent of a kid these days.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What the H-E-double L were we thinking?!

It's getting close to nap time. I know this because the little tantrums-for-no-reason are getting closer together and longer. It's almost like contractions before birth. At first it's just a little fuss here and there, then they become closer, and before I know it she's lying on the floor kicking her feet and crying because she tripped over her big toe and fell on her bottom. She's exhausted.

She fights sleep no matter how tired she is. She is so afraid she'll miss something. I have to send Chloe out of the room, fix her a cup of milk, find her little blankie and baby doll, and start rocking.

She resists the rocking at first because she knows what it means. She always resists it, but it's the only thing that really helps her calm down.

I rock furiously as she cries and pushes and kicks, trying to wiggle away from the wretched nap she so desperately needs.

I sing to her.

Rock a bye baby. She shakes her head no.
Twinkle twinkle little star. She screams louder.
Halleluja? I could use a little higher power right now.
Colder Weather. Zac Brown Band. Works every time. You'd think I'd try it first, but somehow it just feels wrong to start with anything but Rock a bye baby.

Exhausted and mentally drained from the fight, I try not to grit my teeth while I sing, and relax so she will settle. I think of the little bun in my oven sometimes and wonder what the hell we were thinking. Wonder if I'll be nursing a newborn while performing this whole routine in six months, or if she will grow out of it.

While I'm singing and thinking and wondering if I'm headed for the Looney Bin in the next two years, she starts to drift.

I notice my rocking has slowed, almost as if my body is in tune with her. She grabs tight onto her dolly, nuzzles her face into her blankie (why do kids like to sniff blankets anyway?), then, with her eyes closed, she lets out a muffled giggle. Her face is relaxed, and she's almost smiling as she falls away.

Her body is warm against me, and with her free hand she rubs my arm until she's completely gone.

I put my feet up, pull a blanket over us, and watch tv quietly, so not to disturb her.

And suddenly I know EXACTLY what the hell we were thinking. I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chapter 2: It's My Baby and I'll Wean When I Want To...

"...wean when I want to, WEAN when I want to! You will wean to when you want tooooooo!"

It's no secret I'm a nursing mom. I lie somewhere between a full bottle-feeder and a whip-it-out hippy mom. With this baby, though, I have found myself closer to the hippy end of the spectrum and liking it :)

When Chloe was a babe I was home with her for eleven weeks, then I returned to teaching. She went to daycare 8-4 M-F, so she was introduced to the bottle in the beginning, and though I didn't give her formula at all, she was primarily bottle fed. I nursed her at night and on weekends, but that was it. She was fully accustomed to the bottle, as she had to be, which meant she wasn't very attached to me. She also sucked her thumb, which led her to be an excellent self-soother (though brought with it a terrible addiction we still fight). At ten months she was pretty-well done nursing, and I was fine with that.

When Miss K came along, I wanted to be sure we weren't thumb-sucking again, and the Mister was adamant against the paci. So I fully nursed, and that was it. She never really took to the bottle, likely because I didn't push it. This had me tethered to her night and day, and while it was sometimes emotionally draining, it was also really great for both of us.

As she came on the six-month mark, however, the comments began pouring in. What's the worst is that they come from people I know and love who *should* be supporting my decisions, not questioning them.

When are you going to wean her?
Are you STILL nursing?
Isn't she getting too big for that?
Do you still feed her "like that?"

My easy answer? At what age would you wean from a bottle? Usually that ended the conversation. I don't know why it is anyone's business how long I nurse my infant. It would be different if she were five and I was going to the school at lunch time to nurse her. One day I told someone, when asked when I planned to wean, "Sometime between one year and when she goes to school."

I had every intention of allowing Kailyn to wean herself. She was very attached to me, and I really didn't have the heart to take away her one and only comfort item. However, as she got closer to a year, she became very demanding, making it impossible to go anywhere that I didn't mind feeding her in public. She began throwing tantrums if she couldn't nurse when *she* wanted to. Just before her birthday I learned I was pregnant again, and decided to go ahead and wean her at 13 months. It was a traumatic two-week effort for both of us, but now that she is happily drinking chocolate milk from a cup as a replacement, and using a blankie for comfort at night, there is nothing left to break her from, which feels like a huge accomplishment.

I had no interest in nursing a toddler and a new baby, and I knew weaning would be even more difficult if I waited too close to the baby's birth. Those two things alone influenced my decision. If I had not become pregnant, I very likely would have nursed her to 18-24 months or until she stopped on her own, whichever came first.

I've come to learn when you have children, you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Someone always has an issue with something you do, but in the end it's best to make your parenting decisions based on what you believe is best for your child, yourself, and your family. Now if I can calmly and rationally remember that as I go through pregnancy and infancy one more time....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chapter 1: Please Don't Feed the Animals Baby

I wish I could remember exactly when it started, but I suppose I've tried to block it out. Somewhere along the way, though, at a definitely inappropriate age, people started offering my daughter food. I'm not talking about veggies or a bite of banana or even a piece of bread. I'm talking about down-right bad for you junk.

Sometimes it was offered to her without my permission, stopped only by me saying, "UH NO!" upon catching the offer.

Usually, though, it was offered to me first.

"Can K have this [cookie, potato chip, Mt. Dew, insert other ridiculous food here]?"

"No," I would always say. Unless it was a unique occasion in which she had just eaten a proper meal and I would allow her a bite of cookie or cracker.

And then comes one of two replies.

"Oh, a little of this won't hurt her. I gave my kids BLAH BLAH BLAH and it was fine!" Judgment. Ridicule. Scoffing. Someone somehow decides that THEIR decision to indulge her is better than my decision to say no. No matter what my reason.


"Sorry, baby! I wanted to give you this delicious [cookie, candy, chip, pop] but Mama won't let me! I would give it to you, but Mama says no!" Now belittling me TO my child, making me the bad guy (as if the moms don't get that enough), ridiculing me, second-guessing my food choices and decisions without one question as to WHY I say no. Maybe it's almost lunch time. Maybe I need to nurse. Maybe I don't want her to have sugar or caffeine at the wee age of <1 .="" p="">

We were at a family dinner once where she was eating veggies and meat and sipping her water, when she was offered (SHE was offered, as if she can make logical decisions) Kool-Aid and baby snacks. I don't let my older daughter snack DURING dinner, so why would I allow it for my baby? Were the snacks suitable? Yeah. But they were snacks. Offered during dinner. Which starts a habit. And the dialogue when they were offered? "Here, if your mom will even let you have them." Setting me up to either condone the habit, or be the jerk who says no to EVERYTHING even suitable baby snacks.

I'm often talked to as the over-protective, over-zealous, over-sensitive mom who won't allow ANYTHING and needs to just lighten up. But maybe there's more to it than me having an underlying desire to be a wench to everyone we see.

Maybe it's my child, for whom I am responsible. Maybe I had one daughter who had dental trouble, and I would rather amputate my own fingers than to see one of my children go through that kind of pain and emotion again. Maybe I am proud of the fact that my infant LOVES green beans, potatoes, chicken, and WATER. Maybe that makes my life a little easier, and makes dinner time a little more pleasant and makes future food battles MUCH less frequent. Maybe I believe that not stuffing junk food in a child's face helps them LEARN to make healthier choices. Maybe I don't want to deal with the sugar high you'll leave behind.

I don't mind when people ask to give my daughter food, but I do expect them to respect the answer they are given. She's not a zoo monkey here for your entertainment. She is a person I am trying to raise, and I think I'm doing a pretty great job.

Mind Your Own Business, Raise Your Own Kids: Intro

I've mentioned my frustration with it before. The Non-Asked-For Opinion. We are all suceptible to it, in one way or another. Usually in the form of a judgmental-ridden question, that seems inncoent enough, but is riddled with TONE.

Such as:
When are you going to get married (aka why are you still single)?
When are you going to have kids (aka you're getting awfully old)?
When are you going to have another one (aka I would never have so much time between MY children)?
Are you REALLY having another one (I would NEVER have so many children)?

It goes on and on, and gets worse when you become a parent. Suddenly everyone wants to challenge your every decision, and make you feel like you're doing it wrong. What's really weird, is it seems the more you lean toward the healthy, environmentally friendly, natural side of life, the more you are criticized. I think it's almost an attempt to judge before being judged. People think since they do things their way, someone more rigid would be judgmental, therefore they jump the gun and try to make the other person feel smaller.

That's my guess, anyway.

Lately I have had to bite my tongue ENDLESSLY.

And because my Facebook rants can only go so far, I've begun a blog series dedicated to my personal parenting style and those who disagree/disapprove, etc.

Chapters 1-4 are in the works :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Talking "The Talk"

Sometimes I get "the look" from other moms when I divulge just how much Chloe knows about 'the birds and the bees.'

We've left all the romantic lustful graphic stuff out, other than it being related to "private time" for mommy and daddy, but as far as biology goes, she pretty much knows where babies come from.

There isn't much choice, you know, when she sees a bull mounting a cow, or a calf hanging out of its mama, or our pet pig having his way with a bucket...

It's been a topic among moms lately, so I have been considering my approach a little more in-depth. Recently a read an article that suggests we stop having "THE" talk, in favor of more open conversation throughout life, adjusting as the children mature. I liked that. It's basically what I've been doing, so maybe it was just nice to see it affirmed.

I have no "talk" to dread with Chloe. We simply weave the questions and appropriate conversations into our daily lives.

Recently, this came in handy when she was tearful as I cracked eggs into a bowl.

"Poor little chickies!" she nearly cried. I explained to her that all moms, even me, have 'blank' eggs every so often. She'd questioned the "time of the month" several months back, so we have had that talk, too. It put her mind at ease to know that we weren't murdering helpless baby chicks (most of the time hehe).

I had to laugh, though, last night, when her grown-up subject matter collided with her child-like mind. She was eating her dessert, and stopped to come into the living room and talk with me.

"Hey mom, I gotta queshtion," she said. I raised my eyebrows waiting for it.

"Do me and Kailyn drop eggs every month? Or is it just grown-ups?" I told her as soon as her body was mature enough, probably as a teen, is when that would begin.

"So THAT'S why there's such a thing as Teen Mom," she concluded.

And it gives me a little hope that she's already got a leg up on most teenage girls.