Archive for the Category »parenting «

A change in perspective

I used to spend so much time here, putting my thoughts to “paper” and publishing for anyone to see. My kids are only 6 and 3, and there are so many stories to capture about them.

Maybe things like Facebook have ruined that for me, where I can dash off a thought whenever, instead of composing something more … interesting … than I do now?

But I don’t even know where to (re)start. My oldest is in kindergarten and I don’t know for sure what’s okay and what’s not anymore. Will he enjoy my stories about him? Be mad that I put them online, opening both of us to criticism? (I got a lot of flack from attachment parents for that one.)

I used to feel compelled to write. Like something wasn’t quite right in my life unless I was putting pen to paper. Now, after I’ve hit 40, I’m just not sure I need to chronicle everything. Who will care in the end? My grandkids? My great-grandkids? (I would have *loved* to discover an old journal from a relative – but who knows if there will be anyone in the family like that down the road?)

It has to be for me, or not at all. So I’ll write when I feel like it, try to put down some fun thoughts that I think my boys will enjoy later, and try not to pressure myself too much. I have enough of that in other areas of my life.

A blank screen and some free time

I keep wanting to write. I have occasional thoughts of “Oh, I should write about that!” only to get busy, or forget about it, or waste the thought on FB instead. My writing has fallen very low on the priority list. I remember when I just HAD to write or I would go crazy. And now? Time flees my grasp, my kids are growing, and I’m not capturing life as I would like to.

It all goes by so fast and my memory is so horrible that if I don’t write it down, I eventually won’t remember it. And I so want to remember this time in my kids’ lives. In our lives. Even as it’s hard and crazy and messy and loud, it’s ours. And I have such a tenuous grasp on it all anyway. It floats through my fingers only to dissipate with barely a sound, a soft whisper of “You’re going to miss this when it’s gone,” before it really IS gone.

I’ve always been an observer. A recorder. Whether it was on paper or via camera, I had a compulsion to document things. If I don’t, then I’m afraid it didn’t happen. Why am I so desperate to leave a record, an “I was here!” for future generations to see? I guess maybe I always wished that I had found an old diary of a distant relative from years past where I could have a glimpse into what her life was like. Her hopes, dreams, loves.

I guess I want my kids to know that there was so much more to their mom than changing diapers, driving them to school, kissing scraped knees, or being their jungle gym. Don’t get me wrong – I love being that to them. But I am SO much more than that. I’m not quite sure what that is, because it’s tough to define yourself as more when you’re down in the trenches of mothering.

It starts by doing a better job of taking time for myself. I’ve been working a lot of hours recently and I haven’t taken enough time to care for myself, my relationship with my husband, or my friendships. I’m working on changing that. And it actually starts this weekend, by going out with a girlfriend yesterday and spending some time writing today.

I still have a lot of work to catch up on. That hasn’t changed. But I just have to know my limits. Wearing myself out isn’t going to help me work better, nor is it going to help the quality of my work. And with recent health developments, it has become even more important that I take care of myself. So it starts now. Wish me luck.

Gone in an instant

“Time flies” has become such a cliché, hasn’t it? But how else do you describe the way time picks up and grows closer to warp speed the older you get?

20120707_151429I still remember how much I wanted to start school when I was little. My brother would head off to the bus and I had to stay home. And now, in a twinkle, it’s my son’s turn to start school. About 3 weeks ago, we heard from the school that they would offer transitional kindergarten and that we should take a look since our oldest qualifies.

I hadn’t expected to walk down that path until next year, knowing he misses the birthday cutoff by about 20 days. An now, suddenly, that reality is thrust in my face. The reality that he’s growing up. That he WANTS to go to school. That time is going more quickly than I like. That my time of influence over him is dwindling and other people will at some point have more influence than we do. That I have to let go. That he’s such a sweet soul and is going to face difficulties with his speech and being a bit behind the others. That other kids can be cruel and no matter how much I want to protect him, I can’t.

That was brought to my attention last night in stark, painful reality. And it almost ended in utter tragedy.

We went to dinner last night with the daughter and her boyfriend. We hadn’t hung out together in a while, so it was nice to visit and have a good meal together. After we said our goodbyes, we went to the car. We were parked on the street, and it’s a busy one headed out to Shelter Island. While we were getting the little one ready for his seat, the oldest was impatient. We had asked him to stand on the sidewalk for a moment and then I was going to walk him to his door, since it’s the one street-side. As we were dealing with M, the wee one, F jetted out in the street.

My heart stopped as both John and I yelled “STOP!!!!” as loudly and forcefully as we could. There were multiple cars speeding by.

He stopped at the edge of the car, just a split second away from getting hit. Our future without two sons flashed before my eyes and I almost lost my dinner right then and there.

Daddy had a long, stern talk with F about being careful and not running into the street. And as I put M in his seat, I said a silent prayer of thanks that he stopped. That he listened for once (because sometimes he keeps going and we have to say stop more than a few times). And that we didn’t have to deal with the “what ifs” that came perilously close to coming true.

And so today, I am hugging my kids a little tighter, grateful for every hug, every mess, every moment. Because it can be taken away in an instant. And we came way too close to that last night.

I can’t keep him by my side forever. I know that. But it doesn’t make it any easier sometimes, this letting go. One of the things we have to get good at as a mom, even as it breaks our hearts to do so.

In spite of all that, though, I do want him to have fun, learn, and make new friends as he starts off on a new adventure, a new phase in his life.

Oh, the places you’ll go, son.

Discover the Secret Science of Dirt at KinderCare

Some of you may remember that we have an older daughter who is currently in college. When she was younger and my husband needed childcare, he turned to our local KinderCare. It was close, convenient and had a good reputation locally. And it was affordable.

Things haven’t changed all that much—it’s still close to us and we’ve been considering putting our 3-year-old son in a couple of days a week. I think he needs the socialization. And mommy just may, might, maybe need a tiny bit of a break. Maybe. But you know me, I can’t make up my mind. Yet.

Coming up, though, is the perfect opportunity for us to try things and see how they go. That’s because KinderCare is presenting a week-long Spring Break camp called the Secret Science of Dirt. During Spring Break, kids will have the chance to dig into the science behind “growing green” and get excited about the natural world.

Preschoolers (including my son) will experience hands-on science lessons, veggie cooking, and craft-making. I bet my son will love the science lessons, especially if he gets to dig in dirt. I imagine him coming home a little disheveled but with a big grin on his face. He’ll manage to find the dirt, wherever it is. Trust me.

Older kids will plant and tend vegetables, make compost, create garden-related crafts, and (after clean up!) prepare tasty veggie treats. I can only hope that seeing all of the kids eating and preparing veggies will inspire my son to try them.

I’m looking forward to this camp for my son. I think he’ll learn a lot, meet some new friends and get a chance to play with someone other than (boring) mommy.

Spring Break already over in your area? Take a look at their awesome Summer Camps as well.

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Want to discover some fun things to do at home? Check out this take-home adventure from KinderCare:

Science Adventures(tm): Take the Adventure Home
Fun, hands-on science activities to engage your child in discovery learning

By Science Adventures’ Andy, the Science Wiz

Indoor Lawn

As spring buds to life around us, it is the perfect time to engage a young explorer in nature. Children will discover what seeds need to sprout when they nurture a dormant grass seed into mini-pet lawns.

What you will need:

1 brand new clean kitchen sponge
1 Plate
1 Gallon resealable baggie
1 Straw
Grass Seed (Any Variety)

What to do:

growing grass on a sponge

Learn how to grow grass on a sponge - fun with science!

Soak the sponge in cold water for a few minutes. Gently squeeze out the excess water, and place the sponge on a plate. Have your child sprinkle the sponge liberally with grass seed. Next, slide the plate into the baggie. Seal the baggie around the straw and have your child gently inflate the bag by blowing into the straw. Pull the straw out and seal the baggie. Success! You built a mini-inflatable green house.

Place the baggie on a sunny window sill.  Have your child check the baggie each day and report any changes they see. Make sure they add more water If the sponge dries out.

After the first day you should notice that water clings to the top of the baggie in droplets. This is because the sun has heated the water in the sponge causing it to evaporate, rise, and condense into drops. This is a great way of showing how clouds form and sometimes make rain.

After two days, the seeds should start to germinate, pushing out roots. The roots look white and fuzzy. The white strands are the roots seeking a home in some damp soil.

After 4 days, you will notice that the seeds have sprouted tiny green shoots. This is the grass. Each seed will produce one blade of grass.

After 7 days, you should have grown a small pet lawn.

What is happening:

Discuss what plants need to grow with your child. Plants need water, air, soil, sunlight, and space to grow. Our mini-green houses provided plenty of sunlight, water, air, and allowed the seeds to flourish using the nutrients that were packed in the seed. However, the sponge cannot provide nutrients long term. To continue the experiment, the grass can be peeled off the sponge and planted in a small pot.

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Disclosure: We will be comped the Spring Break camp at our local KinderCare learning center. Opinions here are my own and I am already a fan of the centers, hence it’s a good fit for us.

Behind the curve

We took our son for evaluation today. He’s 39 months old and still not talking. That’s a little hard for me to write. I try to act like it doesn’t bother me. But it does.

It does, because I worry. A lot. That I’m not doing enough. That working from home and having him here with me, instead of a day care or preschool, is hurting him. Holding him back.

I worry that I waited way too long to see about getting help. That he’s so far behind he’ll have trouble catching up. That it’ll follow him around, this inadequacy of his mother.

And he’s such a bright little boy, too. I don’t just say that because I’m his mother. He understands things that 5 and 6 year olds understand. I can see his frustration when he tries to communicate and we can’t understand him. And it breaks my heart. Daily.

On top of all that, while we were at the school, they had some sort of drill that involved a very long bell ringing. Like several minutes long. And then we had to go outside for a bit. It was close to naptime and the ringing had already agitated him. (Me, too.) And then the bell rang while we were outside. And it was. Really. Loud. And it freaked him out. Poor kid. Then it rang a second (well, third total) time and it scared him even more. Super loud noises have always bothered him. That was a sucky way to end his visit.

So now we’re under the gun to get him help. Quickly. To get an IEP in place and see if we can get him into preschool (which we can’t really afford) and get him caught up. Because regular interaction with his peers is what’s going to help him the most right now.

I just don’t know what to do. Except try to help my son. But I don’t know how. And it’s quietly killing me.

Resolutions

Funny enough, I got a call from the hospital today asking how things went while we were there. So I told the lady how great the nurses in the NICU were. How kind and caring. How they did their best to make sure I could see my boy as often as possible. They always had a rocking chair ready to go so I could hold and nurse my boy.

It was getting my son released from the NICU that was the problem. It took about eight hours longer than it should have. Hours in my new son’s life that I’ll not get back. His first 48+ hours in which I should have been with him constantly. And I wasn’t. He needed medical care and I’m so grateful that he got it. But those extra hours of waiting were unnecessary. And yes, I’m still a little bit angry about it.

There’s more to it, and I will get around to telling the story. But right now I need to find a way to move on. It’s over. Done. I can’t change it. I need to focus on spending time with both of my sons, not getting angry about something I can’t change.

But at least I was able to tell my story to someone at the hospital. And hopefully it’ll change for the next mom whose baby graduates from the NICU during a very busy time.

Out and about

We managed to get out of the house with both of the boys. We didn’t go far – just to the mall. But it was someplace where we could walk around and let the oldest expend some energy.

The ladies at Williams-Sonoma ooohed and aaahed over the baby. And when they found out he is 5 days old, they didn’t know whether I was brave or crazy.

Funny, neither do I.

I just *have* to get out of the house. Even if I’m tired, there’s only so much you can do inside these walls. And I’m certainly not bedridden. Being forced to get out of bed the day after surgery will do that to you. I had no choice – I had to go and see my son. There was nothing – not an IV, a catheter, a sore abdomen… nothing – that was going to keep me away from him. As it was, it took at least 8 hours longer than it should have to get him back with us. And it probably would have been longer if I’d not suffered a meltdown right in the middle of the NICU.

Let’s just say it was an emotional time, I was exhausted, and I didn’t handle the multiple delays very well. It sucks when the kids who are ready to leave the NICU are kept there simply because the doctor hasn’t made it through rounds yet and the ones that are out of danger are the last ones to be seen. Let me say it again. It SUCKS. I’m still not happy with how that was handled. But the nurses and staff were so kind. And amazingly patient. And awesome.

It could have been so much worse. We were pretty fortunate. We ARE pretty fortunate. I can’t stress that enough.

It’s going to be an adjustment to having two instead of one. But so far? It’s awesome. Both of my sons are amazing. What more can I ask for?

Today you’re three

me and my son

Dear Son,

Today you are three years old. It’s hard for me to believe it has already been three whole years since you joined us. You have brought so much joy and light into our lives. You’re funny. You’ll do just about anything for a laugh. You’re charming. That grin where you wrinkle your nose and squint your eyes is so very cute (but I’m on to you). You’re silly. You love to stand on your head and look at things, or use the wrong end of the binoculars to view your world. You’re sweet. There’s nothing better than hugs and kisses from you.

You are my little buddy. We’re together day after day, just the two of us until daddy gets home from work. You’re my constant companion. You keep me company. You want me to play cars all the time. You stand in my chair and run cars on my head while I type away at the computer. You give the best nose rubs and hugs. I hope you always have a special place in your heart for mommy.

You love to help. I hope you’ll love helping with your little brother. I don’t quite think you understand yet what it means. And I hope that it only brings you joy when we arrive home with him just days after your birthday. You and your brother will be exactly 3 years, 1 day apart. But I hope that you’ll always be good buddies.

I love you so much, little buddy. That will never change, even as we move into a new dynamic with our family. Happy 3rd birthday, little man. I cherish these years with you. I hope you do, too.

Always,

Mama

My son, the comedian

Our boy is trying to assert his independence. He’ll turn 3 in about 10 days, so it’s no surprise. He loves to have choices, so we offer him one thing or the other and let him decide. But sometimes he’s pretty insistent that he wants something even when we say no.

Especially when it comes to Go-Gurt. I don’t know if I should be happy we introduced this into our household or not. The kid really loves it. So I let him have one or two each day. But he’s constantly asking for more. And since he can open the fridge, he goes and gets one and presents it to me for approval. In fact, a few days ago he came to me, smiled the sweetest little smile, rubbed noses with me, and then produced a Go-Gurt from behind his back.

He’s a smart one, already learning how to work mama over.

Yesterday was a battle of wills. Every five minutes he was asking for a yogurt, then crying when we said no. It had been that way all day – the whining and battling. We were all getting exhausted from it. Daddy sternly told him enough was enough, and the boy came over to me, whining and putting his head in my lap. Daddy then told him he’d better turn that frown upside down and put a smile on his face. Again, sternly. The instant the word “smile” came out of hubby’s mouth, my son put on the biggest, cheesiest grin you’ve ever seen. It was immediate. I looked at him, then looked at my husband, trying hard to stifle a laugh.

Hubby’s face was turning red as he tried not to laugh. It took only seconds before we cracked up. Things went from super-serious, you-need-to-stop-whining-child to full-on tears running down our cheeks. I have never seen that child change his demeanor so quickly. It really was hilarious. By the time we finished laughing, everyone was in a better mood. And our sides were hurting. A lot.

Do you know how painful it is to make a 9-months-pregnant woman belly laugh?

Totally worth it.

The neverending week

STILL not caught up. Treading water. There are dishes in BOTH sides of the sink. The baby seat is still lost in the jungles of our garage. I still haven’t managed to complete some web copy and I desperately need to get it done. Also? Knee deep in resumes.

The work stuff is a good thing. Really. Trying to get as much done as I can before I take time off. But I swear my days are getting shorter and I just can’t quite find the time to finish everything. Especially with a clingy, demanding 2 year old attached to my hip.

Son’s hearing test was fine, so that’s a positive. They didn’t get to test each ear individually, thanks to his aversion to ANYTHING on his head. But it appears to be within normal range so they’re ruling that out as a reason for his speech delay. He’s never had ear infections or injuries, so we were pretty sure that was the case anyway.

Next steps, more evaluations.

And to add to the misery? Next week they’re paving our lot. Which means I’m either stuck in the house all day or stuck OUT of the house all day. No in between. Joy. Whose idea was it to pave just days before Thanksgiving? I really despise our management company. So much I might even name them one of these days.

Went to Java Mama today so the kid could have some fun while I worked. It was great, except for the other boy who kept pushing everyone and giving them headlocks. I mean, hugs. And even with repeated requests for her to WATCH HER DAMN SON, the mother was too busy chatting with about 10 friends and watching her baby in a stroller. That she could have taken IN the play area so she could watch her son more closely. Which she needed to do.

I never know how to speak up in those situations without getting so angry I make no sense. I fume and bite my tongue, unsure of the appropriate thing that will let her know her son’s behavior is NOT acceptable when it causes MY SON to hit his head. I am new to these waters, since it’s usually just me & my son hanging out at home. How do you handle misbehaving kids when their own parent seems content to ignore their bad deeds?