Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Not Supermom

I don't like the whole "Super Mom" term. I use it in jest, but really I feel like it places unfair value on mothering. I feel like what I do is what's required of a mom. I don't have super powers. I remember the nurse at our pediatrician's office smiling sweetly at me once and saying, "You really ARE supermom." She was impressed, I guess, that I was toting 3 sick kids, one in a wrap, one holding my hand, and the other toting my diaper bag. I blushed, I know, and thanked her, but really it's just part of having three kids.

Yesterday, though, I received and unexpected comment that went a long way.

I was doing my normal Tuesday routine. I dropped Chloe at gymnastics, then headed to Wal-Mart with the babies to get the weekly shopping done (in under an hour). It's not the easiest task, but it sure beats making another trip, so it's what works for me. Being a baby-wearer, I strap Case on my chest, buckle K in the cart seat, and power through with my list. Usually we make it through without a problem, but I won't lie. There have been tantrums. I have left before finishing my shopping. I have forgotten important items, and I've even been late picking Chloe up.

But mostly it works.

I was almost finished shopping when I remembered K had been asking for "gwapes." I made a sharp turn into the produce section and headed back toward the grapes.

"POTATOES!" I declared, making an abrupt stop and turn. "I almost forgot the potatoes," I told K, who was oblivious as she had her eye on the grapes down the aisle.

"GWAPES!" she announced, pointing her little finger.

We wheeled around the guy stocking bananas and began looking at the grapes.

"Which kind would you like?" I asked her. There were three color choices, and I know she likes green, but I was feeding her autonomy.

"BLACK!" she exclaimed. She's still working on colors ;)

"There are purple, green, or red," I told her, pointing out each color.

"I wanna pickkum owt!" she said, standing up in her seat. I put my arm under her bottom and lifted her from the cart, trying to be patient while she scanned the bags. Don't forget, I have 18 lb Case hanging from my chest, and now 26lb K on my hip. She looked and looked, when finally I said, "You'll have to pick something or I'm going to choose for you."

"BLACK!" she yelled, grabbing the bag of green grapes.

Banana Guy snickered and I turned toward him, not sure what his comment was about to be, and ready to defend my poor color-confused 2 year old.

"And THAT is why I have so much respect for moms. One on your chest, one on your hip, and you're still so patient with her. A guy couldn't do it," he said, smiling.

And that pretty much made my day. Because yes, there are GREAT dads, but most of the time it IS the mom in the store handling all the children, meeting all their needs, getting everything on the list, and all the while remembering that Daddy likes a certain cereal, and sister is out of her favorite snack, and there might not be enough dish soap to get through the week (and I JUST realized I forgot to get dish soap).

And that doesn't make me Supermom, but if it earns me the respect of a single, childless, Banana Guy, that makes me proud.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Baby Isn't an Over-Achiever (He's Just a Baby)

The little stud muffin is 7 months old now. He falls right between his sisters as far as his size at this age. He's taller and thinner than Kailyn, but not quite so tall and chunky as Chloe was. Being the third baby, though, he's lucky to be measured at all.

I always thought that third (or last) child syndrome was born of not caring as much, having less time, or being more tired. However, I think now that I'm actually dealing with it first hand, I can see that it's actually born of experience.

Lately I've seen a LOT of braggy new mom posts on Facebook, and rightfully so. I was a first time mom to a first-born child at one time as well. And while all moms think their kids are advanced, mine really WAS advanced. She could count to ten before she could walk, which she was doing just after her first birthday. Her memory and vocabulary have always been off the charts. I, as all new moms do, attributed it to her fantastic genes (my half, of course) and my stellar parenting. I must be friggin Super Mom, right?

That's been the underlying gist of the posts I see. I've wanted to post my own satirical status about MY little guy, but I feel like it would come across as either bitchy or mean (toward the little guy).

So here it is.

My little guys is 7 months old. He spends the majority of his waking hours strapped to my chest in the single most important baby-item I ever bought, the Ergo carrier. He HAS rolled over a few times, but he rarely does. He can sit up now, but that is a fairly new trick. He isn't crawling yet. He won't eat solids at all, and he's tried everything from rice cereal to table food. He doesn't sleep through the night, he's the only one who's ever used a paci, and he hates his crib.

I'm not complaining. This is mostly all my doing, whether purposely or not. You might see this as a list of things my little guy falls short on, but this is actually MY bragging list.

I wear him around and carry him everywhere because he LOVES the security. He doesn't always have my full attention like the first-born did, but he always knows I'm right there, heart-to-heart with him. He's never in danger of being dropped or bounced in a shopping cart accident, because he was only carried in a car seat to and from the car.

He doesn't spend a lot of time lying on the floor, because frankly that's like putting a little lamb in the lion's den at my house. He does, however, enjoy sitting in his Bumbo, his jumper, or even on the couch where he can watch intently as his sisters inadvertently teach him the ways of childhood.

He's still exclusively nursing, which doesn't bother me one bit, but it's not for lack of trying. He's just not quite ready for solids, whether it's emotionally or physically (likely both) All babies are born with immature systems, including digestive. Why on Earth anyone deems it a "success" to shove processed, pureed carrots down a 3 month-old baby's throat I'll never know. Just because they can swallow it, doesn't mean their body needs it, or that they're digesting it properly.

This, in part, is likely why he doesn't sleep all night. A fully nursing baby digests quickly, therefore becomes hungry more often. The pediatricians recommend stopping feedings after midnight at 6 months. I did this with my first-born. I taught her to self-soothe by withholding milk and rocking through the crying. This guy comes to my bed (if he's not there already) around 2am and happily nurses and snuggles the rest of the night in our bed. I've not broken this baby because I know that "this too shall pass" all too quickly. Before I know it, he will think he'd rather die than sleep next to his weird old mom in her underwear.

You see, by the third baby, I've learned that loving is more important than pushing. I've learned that while it's important to teach your children things, it's just as effective to allow them to learn as they go. Who cares if your kid knows his ABCs when he's 18 months or when he's three? He'll need them for pre-school, so as long as he's prepared for what he needs, the rest of it is for the birds.

I've never known a child yet who graduated high school but couldn't go to college because he wouldn't get out of Mom's bed. I've not known a teenage boy who only wanted milk. While I've known a grown man or two to claim to have s#!t his pants, I don't think I've known one who wasn't properly potty trained. They're babies such a short time, and then we go rushing them to see what new thing we can "teach" them to do before everyone else, when in reality they can learn most of it without our pushing. They're built to learn, and I've found that letting them do so at their own pace makes for a much happier mama.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Like It's 1999....

They say two-thousand zero-zero party over, oops out of time. So tonight we're gonna party like it's nine-teen-nine-tee-nine! Nineteen ninety-nine!

It was our graduating year. Not just everyone has a Prince song for their graduating year. At that time we looked at those lyrics as a premonition. It was SO! FAR! AWAY! and when we got there, when we were 'grown' and out of here, we were going to PARRRRRTAY!

Now we're in our 30s. Some of us have teenagers, others have new babies, some have both! We are lawyers and businessmen, teachers, fathers, managers, and more. We're educated and intelligent. We've made mistakes, learned lessons, developed wrinkles and gray hairs (ok some more than others, myself included). Now to party like it's 1999 means to be young again, to party like we're not parents with responsibilities and jobs, but kids with the whole world at our fingertips and our whole lives ahead of us. It's funny how time changes so much.

I got my yearbooks out last night after reading a post about an old upper-classman on Facebook. I started with 6th grade and perused through to our graduation. I laughed to myself at the boys I drew hearts next to, the girls I exed out, and the comments I scribbled next to some of the pictures. For years I did not do this, as I thought the books were sacred and should not be written upon, but how I LOVE looking at it now. To go back and not only remember things, but to see the world again through my own eyes and a mind that's changed so much I'm not sure I remember that girl all that much anymore.

The best best best part of my little trip down Memory Lane was reading all the things written in ink inside the covers of the books. There's one girl who NEVER remembered to sign her name, but she wrote the same thing every year, so I know who it was. There are some inscriptions that are several paragraphs long, full of nick names, codes, and abbreviations (most of which I remember, but some that escape me). If I had a dollar for every time I found "L.Y.L.A.S." in those books I'd have a nice savings. There was a boy who left a cryptic message, that I now realize probably would have taken me on a proper date if only I'd been paying attention. One boy I "liked" off and on for years basically told me he was waiting for me and would always be there for me, but I hadn't read what he wrote between the lines until now.

I was left wondering so many things. Wondering why I didn't foster certain friendships. Knowing I succumbed to social expectations sometimes and didn't befriend someone because it might make me look 'lower on the totem pole' that I was desperately trying to climb. I smiled reading one friend's generic 'have a good year, you're a great friend' and realizing we weren't really even friends. She's someone now who is one of the first to comment on a picture I post or send me a message about something. With all the stereo types now diminished and the walls of high school crumbled, we're all not so different anymore.

I'm glad technology came through for us and we weren't restricted to having our classmates' permanent addresses and parent's phone numbers to contact them. I'm glad that when a classmate crosses my mind for some random reason, I can type her name into Facebook and almost instantly see how her life is going and who she has become. I can smile at children's pictures and notice how much they look like their parent at that age. Thank goodness for Facebook, right!

I looked at the past with new eyes. I read what wisdom and memories these children imparted on me and I wonder what they'd say now. Would they still find me funny and witty? Would they still think I'm boy crazy? Would they STILL use the wrong 'YOUR'? Would they see how much I've changed and realize it was a good thing, or would they see it as bad? Does it even matter? Maybe not.

But it's definitely interesting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Birth Order: A True Story

I pointed out a little girl to a friend and said, "There's the proof of the birth-order theory right there." She looked at me with a quizzical look.

"That girl is the same age as Chloe," I finished. Her jaw dropped.

I looked over at Chloe, my first born, with admiration. She stood quietly in her short striped dress, a little taller than usual on her strappy silver heels, with new studs in her ears and her hair coiffed into a neat little bun. Her tapered bangs were swept neatly to the side, and her little Origami Owl necklace hung around her neck, full of charms that accented her outfit. A pink sparkle shone on her recently glossed lips. She's only seven, but she could have passed for sixteen had it not been for her size.

The jaw-drop was caused by the other girl, who is 'the baby.'

She had her arms wrung around her daddy's neck as he held her on his hip. She would have stood several inches shorter than Chloe, in her round-toed patent flats with buckles. She wore thick tights under a below-the-knee frilly dress. A stretchy, colorful beaded necklace encircled her neck. Her bangs were thick and cut straight across her brow, and atop her head sat a bow the size of my out-stretched hand. She was fully seven, but could have passed for three had it not been for her size.

Could it be different parenting styles? Different taste in clothing? A difference in what is deemed 'appropriate' for the age-group by each family? Possibly. But from where I stood I saw a first-born and a baby, born in the same year, who told completely different stories just by standing there.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Baby

As we speak, he is snuggled beneath his Ergo carrier, strapped to my chest, fast asleep. He's almost 3 months old, and still I haven't revealed his birth story. His birth announcements still scatter the table, addressed but un-mailed. His baby book is filled out to the point where I left the hospital, and it contains no pictures.

He is THE baby.

You know, the one that occupies most every family. The youngest. The one who gets forgotten, whose firsts don't always get documented. The one who wears hand-me downs, plays with used toys, isn't fussed over like a first baby. The one whose only pictures are part of a group of kids, or the entire family, if he has any pictures at all. The one who has three sleepers and a couple of 'going out' outfits compared to his older siblings who had an outfit and matching socks and accessories for every occasion, and were NEVER seen in their sleep-and-plays. He's the one who will be wild, won't be disciplined as sternly, will get to do things the big kids didn't get to do, and it will all be attributed to his poor, tired mother.

If you know THE baby well, though, you know he comes with another perspective. He's the one doted upon by his mama. He benefits from the years of parenting experience. His upbringing is more relaxed, and being the last, he is babied far longer than the first child who was expected to grow up and reach milestones faster than anyone else's child. Babying her would only hinder her progress.

Blake Shelton puts it pretty well...

"My brothers said that I was rotten to the core
I was the youngest child, so I got by with more
I guess she was tired by the time I came along
She'd laugh until she cried, I could do no wrong.
She would always save me, because I was her baby."

It's our song. I sing it when I rock him. I'll think of it every time he flashes his twinkly smile and gets away with something. I'll cry listening to it when he leaves home. We'll dance to it at his wedding to the woman who will never be good enough for him, but who I'll embrace with open arms because she makes him happy. I'll play it for his kids and tell them stories about his childhood.

He's my baby. My last. My only boy. He holds the keys to my heart.

He has a birth story, but it's not ten pages of details about morning sickness and contractions and hospital nurses. It goes like this:

My daddy wanted a boy, and my mommy didn't want to be an old mom, so they made me when my sister was a baby. The whole time she was pregnant, my mom worried she wouldn't have enough time or patience for me, she worried she wouldn't be attatched to me because I was a boy. Fifteen days before my due date, on my grandmother's birthday, the ONLY day my mama didn't want me to come, I came. When she saw me, she loved me, and she realized she wanted a boy more than anything she had ever wanted in her whole life. Even though she'd been through this three times, she was more in awe of my little miracle than she'd ever been. I'm her baby, and her only boy, and that means those sisters of mine don't stand a chance.