Ain’t it funny how time slips away?

Lilith has been sleeping through the night for about two weeks now. Not that crappy “five hour stretch of sleep” definition but really and truly going to bed and not waking until she’s up for the day. Or at least waking only to roll over or half blindly grab her blankie in the middle of the night. In other words – not needing the boob.

I did nothing to encourage this. Around this age with Sabine was when we started trying to cut down on night nursing sessions. She was killing me. We were up 8+ times per night and I was seeing visions of Wendigo and shit on my drive to work, scared I’d wreck my car. That last part is only sort of a joke. So we turned to The No Cry Sleep Solution and, bless Elizabeth Pantley’s heart, we were all sleeping much better in a few weeks (with no crying).

This time around I was rather apathetic to night weaning. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was that I was already accustomed to less sleep (let’s face it – even when your child is sleeping through the night, you’re still getting WAY less sleep than you did pre-kids). Maybe it was that Lil went back to sleep relatively quickly in the night whereas Sabine would throw all out parties at 1am. Maybe it was that we’d jumped into bedsharing enthusiastically from the beginning this time instead of approaching it reactively when I could no longer stand dragging myself out of bed at night to nurse an unhappy baby. Whatever it was, I wasn’t really interested in changing our routine.

Then Lilith didn’t wake up one night. And I thought, “Huh. I hope she’s not sick.” Then she didn’t wake up the next night. And I thought “Wow. So that’s what sleep feels like.” And it was good. For a few days I relished it. I could sleep with my shirt fully on! No one was touching me all night! No baby latching onto my armpit or my side boob accidentally!

Then I sat awake in my bed at 3am one morning thinking, “WTH kid? I am awake and you are not and I’d really like to snuggle you, yet you keep pushing me away, and this is utter BULLSHIT.”

I used to hear people say, “I actually don’t mind night nursing sessions. It’s such a great bonding time!” And I’d want to punch them in the face. Now I sort of get it. If this sticks … IF this sticks … that’s it. We’re done. I will never spend a few quiet alone minutes in the middle of the night nursing my half-asleep baby. Eyes rolling back in a milk coma. Warm and heavy.  I will never again know the ease of putting a baby back to bed by simply unlatching my tank and rubbing the hair out of her face. I face night weaning this time, not victorious, but saddened.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some sleep. And I’m grateful that my daughter figured this whole sleep thing out by herself, on her own schedule. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me feel a little less needed. A little less like the mom the baby. And a little put out that time moves so quickly.

So long as it’s not Celebrity Rehab 2031.

Chances are, at some point, my name is going to come up in a therapy session initiated by one, or both, of my kids. Maybe that sounds grim, but that’s how I see it. Let me back up.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in therapy. My guesss is that the majority of you are flashing me your armpit right now. Therapy is the new normal, right? Odds are that, eventually, all of us are going to make a decision that isn’t right. That doesn’t mean our kids are going to be trudging along to therapy 20 years down the road moaning, “Whyyyyyy, why, WHY!? WHY didn’t she let me take my blankie to preschool?!?!” It just means that we’re human. Like our kids. And like our kids, we’re going to try things that don’t work out perfectly. And then, like us, they may find themselves sitting in front of a sounding board who says, “How is your relationship with your mother?” and Blankie Gate is brought to the forefront for them to process.

But it’s too easy to get hung up in “If I do X, Y will happen” or “If I do A in 10 years she might not understand and think B”. All we can do is make decisions in the here and now that we feel are best for our kids, ourselves, and our families as a whole.

My relationship theory has always been this: when one person is unhappy in the relationship, you try something different. This doesn’t mean you bail. This means you make a calculated adjustment, and then maybe some more adjustments, until everyone in the relationship is again happy. There’s a saying that goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and that’s very true. But it’s equally true for everyone else in the relationship. So where does that leave us?

Decisions. If your child sleeps in a crib and you’re all happy – win. If your child sleeps in a bed with you and you’re all happy – win. If you never breastfed your child and you’re all happy – win. If you’re still nursing your 3 year old and you’re all happy – win. If you stay at home with your child and you’re all happy – win. If you work outside of the home and you’re all happy – win. If your child has a mommy and daddy, or two mommies, or two daddies, or just one mommy or just one daddy or if your child is raised by wolves (Ok, maybe not that one), if you’re all happy – win. You get the point.

Looking back, I assure you that you’ll never regret the decisions made out of love and in the best interest of your child & your family as a whole. Whatever those decisions may be. I have made decisions for my family that are not wildly popular or mainstream. But we’re happy. And they were the right choices for US. I have made other decisions that didn’t quite work out the way as planned but, you know what? We’re still happy. It’s OK. I’m going to fuck it up sometimes. YOU’RE going to fuck it up sometimes. Remember when I blogged a while back about letting go of the idea of being a perfect mom? This is part of it. I am not perfect. My kids are not perfect. My husband is not perfect. But we’re all doing this family thing the best way we know how. We’re all full of love. We’re learning together. And that’s really all you can ask.

Exploding, imploding. Past, future. And inbetween.

If you follow TBFKAOP you know that I blogged a few weeks ago about the dramatic and utterly terrifying meltdowns of 3 year olds. If you don’t follow TBFKAOP, why the hell not? Uh, I mean, maybe you should check that post out. Unless you’re contemplating trying to have a baby, in which case you should pretend that post doesn’t exist and sniff a newborn until your ute hurts and takes over your common sense.

So, 3 year old meltdowns have got me down. I am at a loss, y’all. I have always sworn by the parenting book Raising Your Spirited Child for teaching me how to understand Sabine, cope with her ah, peculiarities and more importantly head off freak outs. Raising Your Spirited Child wasn’t helping me with this. Nothing was helping me with this. Not ignoring, not coddling, not bargaining, not prepping, nothing. Nothing helped. And it gets to be exhausting when you’re jumping through hoops to try to diffuse a 35lb puddle of child.

Someone recommended the book The Explosive Child to me. I balked. Explosive children swear and scream at their parents. They hit them. They throw things. My child, though trying, does none of these things. Anger really isn’t her bag, baby. But in talking my friend insisted that it works for children who are prone to meltdown too. To children who have fits of hysterics. And, well, the drama IS my kid’s bag. Baby. The book goes into greater detail about how imploding is an issue much like exploding and so I decided to give it a go.

What I went looking for was guidance for my child. What I found was a greater understanding of … me. And my child and good coping techniques but what I’m really astounded by is what I learned about myself. I guess you could say I was a trying child and teenager. Rigid. Inflexible. Explosive. Yeah, sure. I did a lot of yelling. I did a lot of yelling into adulthood when I had to learn how to navigate problems without screaming in people’s faces. My poor parents. I mean, really. As I read through the book I did some, “Yeah, I can see how that could help Sabine” and a whole lot of “That is me, that is me, that is ME, that IS me, and OMG THAT IS ME!”

So I know at this point everyone is thinking, “That’s great and all, Jenn, but you already said that you learned how to work around the whole explosive thing so what’s the big deal?” And you’d be right – I did learn to work around it. But what I didn’t really realize until I read this book is that it is somewhat NORMAL to have to LEARN to work around it. That some kids don’t just develop these coping mechanisms as well as other kids. That for some kids it’s just like math being hard, except it’s your emotions rather than algebra. I have spent the majority of 30 years of my life thinking I was just a suck kid with an anger problem who finally grew up when, in reality, I was just a slow learner. This book did more for me understanding myself than years of therapists that my parents sent me to. And then I sent me to. And so on and so forth.

Now. This is not to say that I deny culpability for my actions. I don’t. I was a suck kid and I’m lucky that my parents were as involved as they were. But now I somewhat more understand why I was a suck kid, even though I didn’t want to be.

Andplusalso it has further helped me put together the puzzle pieces of what happens when a high needs baby is no longer a high needs baby (and they’re a high needs child! woohooo!) and how that translates beyond wearing them 24/7 and bouncing on exercise balls. I think this is a good thing. For all of us.

I’m already losing the Mom Wars and I haven’t even signed up.

I signed Sabine up for Taekwondo. This is her third sport/activity on the round of “what does my kid want to do?” I’m big into participating in something. I don’t really care what it is – a physical sport, a musical instrument, a creative extracurricular such as painting, whatever. But I think kids need to be a part of something to learn practice, pride, and to have an outlet. My parenting philosophy aside – the kid started class today and, one class in, she’s enjoying it far more than she did a whole season of gymnastics or swimming.

The first session was a comp. She got to participate to see if she liked it, I got to observe to see if I liked it, then we got a one on one meeting with the Gyosa (I hope I spelled that right) to discuss the program, our expectations, and his. It was different than what we’d participated in the past because in the past the instructor’s expectations were pretty much “You’ll participate” and mine were, “You’ll teach my kid to not drown/do some forward rolls and stuff”. I liked this program though and the goals of teaching self-discipline, self-respect, pride, and helping others. They even have this neat oath they have to memorize about having knowledge in their minds, peace in their hearts, strength in their bodies, etc. It was good.

But what threw me was that the Gyosa asked if we had any long term competitive goals. And I sorta went … “Uh, what?” I mean, I realize that sports are competitive. Hell, I figure skated competitively for nine years. I’ve been to Nationals. I’ve “vacationed” by traveling around the country for competitions. But, for some reason, it never entered my mind that my kids would compete in well, anything. And then it hit me – I really don’t give a shit if they’re the best. In anything. Ever.

I wrestled with this for the remainder of the day. Does this make me a bad mom? To not want my kids to be the “best” or “smartest” at something? I want them to be the best THEY can be. Sure. But if they never win a competition, or are never ranked tops in something, I won’t be upset. Of course, if they WANT to compete, if they WANT to win, I’ll encourage them and support them in any way I can. But it’s not in me as a parent to care whether or not they do from the get go. Which is odd because, legend has it, before my first skating competition (at the age of 7) I looked at the trophy display and said, “I’m bringing one of THOSE home.”

I’m competitive. I will slit your throat in a tight game of Monopoly. But for my kids? I want them to be happy. I want them to have fun. I want them to be proud of their accomplishments in whatever they chose to participate in. But to excel? I am rather ambivalent.

Phases of Childhood: Newborn, Infant, Toddler, Emo.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently about 3 year olds. Perhaps they’ve been there all along and I’m just noticing them because I’m now living with a 3 year old. But it seems like there’s this new realization that 3 is, in fact, much worse than 2. You know that whole “Terrible 2s” thing? Well, it’s a lie. No, maybe not a lie, because in some ways 2 is terrible. But 3 is much worse. And no one ever tells you about it so it’s even THAT much worse because it’s all, “Hey, you thought things were going to look up? SURPRISE! You’re just getting started.”

WHY do people not tell you this? Maybe because those bitches are hateful. I don’t know. But I’m telling you: It is worse. And you will look back longingly for year 2, when those tantrums still bordered on cute, because 3 year old attitude is anything but.

Anyway. Those blogs covered the 3 year old attitude pretty well. But what was still utterly shocking to me was the crying. Not the tantrum freak out crying. But the total sadness meltdown crying. Maybe this is a girl 3 year old thing but the hysterical sobbing fits are just, well, frightening. Remember the pregnancy hormones? The crying over soup commercials? The inability to watch the news because it was just “too tragic!”? Well, 3 is like those hormones were transferred into a baby, festered and multiplied for 3 years, and then came exploding out into a sea of salty tears. And usually also snot.

Let me give you an example. Maybe your 3 year old is having a bad day. Maybe she has cried over the cheese hashbrowns (which she requested for breakfast) having cheese on them. And maybe she has cried about having to nap, because she’s not tired. And then maybe she has cried upon waking up from said nap because she’s “still tired!!!”. Maybe your husband has also developed holes in every freaking pair of underwear he owns and maybe you are out of groceries and maybe you don’t have a Target and maybe you know that one thing that ALWAYS makes your 3 year old happy is those stupid grocery carts shaped like cars so maybe, just maybe, you decide to go against all of your EF notions and “damn the man!” sensibilities and do your grocery shopping at Walmart. Then maybe you get there and Walmart is swamped (like when isn’t it?) and maybe there are none of those car carts left. So maybe your 3 year old falls all puddle like on the dirty ass floor of Walmart sobbing and yells, “IT IS ALLLLLLLLLLL MY FAULT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Then maybe everyone in Walmart assumes you’re obviously verbally abusive to said 3 year old and maybe you’re off to an awesome shopping trip at Hell on Earth.

It is pure insanity, people. You trudge through every day, walking on eggshells, because you have no idea what will send your sweet child into hysterics. It could be the weather. It could be dirt on her shoes. It could be the same thing that made her erupt with smiles just yesterday. Making it to the end of the day with minimal tears is a triumph. Because you know your child is just one step away from dragging a fifth of gin into her room and listening to Dashboard Confessional on repeat.

Dear Lilith:

Hey there. It’s me. Your mom. Doing that thing I do sometimes but really not often enough – blogging.

Today you are ONE! 1 year old! I know that probably means nothing to you right now but it means a lot to me. Almost two years ago you weren’t here. And now you are. Obviously. But the journey to getting you here started right around two years ago and it started with a very stupid man (who is also a doctor) telling me that you shouldn’t be here. Or telling me rather that I shouldn’t get pregnant with you. That I was “reckless” for even thinking of doing so because my body sucked at being pregnant and giving birth to babies.

Also obviously I found another doctor. Or a team of doctors (and a midwife, and a doula) who did their damnedest to ensure that you & I were both healthy while I grew you. I think we did OK, kid. We hit some rough patches there at the end but neither of us are any worse for the wear. It boggles my mind that I was this.close to believing that you couldn’t be a reality. It angers me beyond words that we almost missed having you in our lives.

And yet, you’re here! And you are perfect, and sweet, and so much more subdued than your sister, and easy and damn did I mention how incredibly sweet you are? You’re so sweet to your sister. You endlessly entertain her whims to play pretend with you. You tolerate her overbearing amount of love more than most sane people could. You are probably 90% of her world. I could have never imagined how in love with you she would be before you came along.

I could have never imagined how in love with you I could be before you came along. I worried about having two little girls occupying my heart. I think all soon to be parents to two do. It’s hard to imagine loving anyone as much as you do your first child and then WHAM. You have another baby. And there it is. Equal love. Hearts expanding. Love growing. Complete bliss.

I also worried about your dad being gone at the Academy for four months but you made it so easy. You were, and are the easiest baby in the world. I had no idea before you that babies could be happy to play on their own. Or not scream if you aren’t constantly staring at them. I had no idea that some babies were HAPPY (because your sister was so very NOT happy). And though you don’t sleep through the night, you are a ROCKSTAR sleeper compared to your sister.

You have made our entire family so happy, Lil. You have completed our little family unit and we are so blessed to have you. You grow up too damn fast for my liking but I suppose I will forgive you for that since you continually bring us more and more joy, the older you get.

We love you, Lil. And I am so thankful to be your mommy.

Things Sabine can do when she grows up.

So, I haven’t had much to write about recently … Or more I haven’t had much time to put into logical order the things I think about writing. About? That sentence sounds weird. Anyway, I figured I’d just toss some fluff out there while I’m pondering how hilarious my oldest hellcat is. These are things Sabine says she can do when she grows up “like a mommy”:

– drive a car
– wear a seatbelt (vs. Riding in the carseat)
– drink coffee
– have milk in her nipples to feed babies
– fix her own ponytail
– push a big buggy (at the grocery store)
– change diapers (WHY does she want to do this?!?)
– take me to the doctor when I’m sick
– watch scary movies
– get married to daddy, Lilith, and me so we can all live together forever

See? The kid is funny. And sweet. Though slightly misguided occasionally.

Yesterday we ate at McDonald’s.

If you know me, you probably know that I can be a little psycho about food, so this confession may be a bit shocking.  Your shock is probably compounded by the fact that I don’t eat meat … but let me explain.

Sabine had to have a physical yesterday.  In between dropping her sister off at MawMaw’s and heading to the doctor’s office, we had about 20min to spare.  We decided to hit up McDonald’s for breakfast.  It was close, it was cheap, and it was quick.  Sabine and I have done meals out at a variety of different places.   We have mommy/daughter dates over sushi, Mexican, at pizzerias, etc.  We had, however, never done McDonald’s until yesterday … and it was AWESOME.  Sometimes when we’re out eating I feel like restaurant staff and other patrons sort of look down on the fact that I’m dining with my 3 year old.  Even if she is on her best behavior.  They just don’t have an overly kid friendly manner.  Which is fine, really, because we’re there to grub and not to chit chat but it can make a difference.  The folks at McDonald’s were thrilled to have my kid there.  THRILLED!  They even carried our tray for me.  At McDonald’s, y’all!

Now, I know what you’re thinking … “But, Jenn.  It’s MCDONALD’S.  It’s trans fats and HFCS and unidentifiable meat products and marketing to children and MASS PANDEMONIUM!!!”  Sure, yeah, it is.  And I’m not normally “pro” any of those things but, yesterday, I liked it. Not like, liked it enough that I wanted to go back this morning or anything … but for a quick breakfast with my kid who was about to get poked on at the doctor, it was nice.  And I’ll admit that I enjoy an occasional Egg McMuffin (sans Canadian bacon) as much as the next person.

Here’s the thing – I’m not going to ban a bunch of foods from my children’s’ diet.  I’m crazy about food, but I’m not crazy.  I will control what I can and not feed them a diet of consistent junk, sure.  But my ultimate goal is to TEACH them to make healthy choices on their own.  To educate them about what is healthy and what is not.  On why it’s important to eat healthy foods and how they can make healthy choices on their own.  And why a single biscuit & gravy doesn’t = the downfall of their entire body system.  I will not be the food police.  I will arm my children with the knowledge and power to navigate through the modern American food system.

Yes, we have issues with what we eat and how much we eat in America but policing food is NOT the way to fix it.  We could all benefit from a little self-control.  A little lesson in moderation.  Is McDonald’s targeting children with a clown?  Maybe … but at some point it becomes the parent’s responsibility to step in and say, “No, you will not eat chicken McNuggets every night this week and yes, you will eat the broccoli we’re having with dinner.”  Or “Hey, let’s go grab a smoothie just this once, but not tomorrow and always.”  Not McDonald’s responsibility.  Not the government’s.  The PARENT’S.  We make a million decisions a day to protect our children – wear your seatbelt, hold my hand when you cross the street, don’t throw balls at your sister’s head, etc.  Food is no different.

Our diet isn’t perfect, but neither is anything else in our lives.  We eat healthy homemade meals 95% of the time.  Now and then, a little junk with a clown won’t hurt.

You can’t trust that Logan.

I submit to you … a conversation with a three year old:

Sabine: Mommy!  I have a scratch!

Me: I’m sorry … where is it?

Sabine: Right here.  On my finger.

Me: Ouch!  What happened, babe?

Sabine: Wolverine.

Me: Excuse me?

Sabine: Wolverine scratched me.

Me: I don’t think so.

Sabine: Yes he did!  Wolverine came at my school and we fight and fight. I hit him like this (strange ninja type moves) and I say, “HEY!  WOLVERINE! You don’t come to my school and scratch me!” And I scare him away.

Me: Um. I don’t think that happened.  And it’s not very nice to make up stories.

Sabine: Oh. Well (long pause) … maybe I hit it on the bookshelf.

The status of my house.

If a burglar broke into my house right now, they’d turn and run back out the door.

Lilith is asleep next to me, pureed asparagus in her hair.  She even smells like asparagus.  I’m sure her night diaper will be pleasant in the morning.

Sabine is using the trash can as a drum set, along with some straws.  In her underwear.

The contents of my “baking cabinet” are emptied in the kitchen floor … bowls, my hand mixer, some cookie cutters, etc.

Clothes are strewn across the living room floor.  Mostly Sabine’s, but I’ll admit my socks are there, too.  Right where I left them when I took them off.

There are a few dishes in the sink.  Rinsed, but not washed.  The beds are unmade.  The tub is drained, but filled with toys.  We are currently the definition of “chaos”.

But … I am blissfully happy.  My children are fed, smiling, and comfortable, I am fed (although maybe a little uncomfortable because of just how much I was fed), my house is warm, the night is quiet, and I am very much in love with my family.