Friday, April 18, 2014

We Can't All Be Bad Mom's

Monday's have become one of my favorite days of the week. On Monday's Gianna has ballet and although the hour drive each way gets old I love seeing her so excited about something, Something of her own that doesn't include Ethan or myself. She loves her friends, her teachers, her tutu and of course dancing away to princess music. And I love the company of the other mom's.
Most of my friends here in town either have older kids, kids  around Ethan's age or 4 or more. I only have a few friends  that have a child Gianna's age. So in regards to parenting through toddler hood I don't have many friends to compare notes with or to get toddler advice from. But when we do get together I am amazed at how carefree and laid back it is when compared to playdates with older or younger kids. Mom's of toddlers tend to be more laid back, and carefree when it comes to their child's behavior and the behavior of other toddler's. I think it's because we are so used to dealing with the special behaviors of 2-3 year olds that we have learned the hard way to let things go, pick your battles and to go with the flow
 And that's how it is on Monday's as well when I hang out with the other mom's. We talk and laugh and vent about our terrible toddler's. IN a class of 6 girls they all behave pretty well but they all take turns being the kid who isn't listening, paying attention or the one whose being bratty with the other kids
And since we are all mom's of toddler's we laugh it off. We know the drill. Next week it will be my kid so I'm not going to get irritated with a little 2 year old who hit Gianna and then blame it on the mom's horrible parenting!
Us mom's all had this talk the other day about how hard it is to be around other people who have older or younger kids. It's as if everyone forgets about the toddler years and instead focus the blame and comments on you, the parent.
Don't get me wrong I'm not using the fact that my daughter is 2 as an excuse for her behavior but in some ways I am. She is not a mini-adult. She is going to test boundaries, push limits, act out, throw a tantrum, etc. And if you research toddler brain development all this behavior is normal for kids their age. It has nothing to do with parenting. The brain develops the most during the toddler years and the kids are struggling to figure out this big bad world they live in. They are also trying to find themselves, find some autonomy from their parents and to exert their independence.
The toddler years are maddening at times but they are also hysterical and so much fun. The things Gianna comes up with  and does crack me up on a daily basis. And she's so smart. I can't believe how smart she is. So while she may not listen at times, and test her boundaries I am enjoying this stage
 I love watching her interact and engage with other kid's of this age as well. Like we all said the one day during class, every one of our kids has acted up and been naughty at one point or another. And we all came to this conclusion, if they are all acting the same way we can't all be bad parents. Right?
When at times you feel like you are the worst mom in the world because your daughter won't share, or  hit another kid in the nursery or colored on your walls with marker, or  having a massive temper tantrum in the store remember that for the most part this is typical toddler behavior and realize that it is no way your fault as the parent
It is our job to guide them and teach them during this stage. I am going to remember that the next time I am frustrated by my toddler's crazy behavior and want to blame myself for her acting this way.
After all we can't all be bad parents. Right?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

Before I was a mom, I was ignorant. Ignorant as to how hard it is be a mom. What the job description of mom all entails. I used to think that days spent taking the kids to the park and watching cartoons sounded like a breeze compared to working a full time job. Now though I have learned that a lot goes into those trips to the park and afternoons watching cartoons.
In order to pack two kids up to go to the park I must pack a bag full of snacks, juice boxes, diapers, wipes and changes of clothes. And wrestling shoes on a toddler's fat feet are no joke. And the reason that the kids are spending afternoon of cartoons is either because the mom needed a break from the constant whining, fighting, crabby kids or because she has to rewash the floor. For the 3rd time that day because her children decided that their lunch looked better on the floor than in their stomachs
I can still remember walking the aisles at target and watching a mom ignoring her screaming toddler. On and on he went, getting louder and louder by the minute. She walked on, browsing the aisles ignoring her screaming kid and the stares and comments from other by passers. I remember feeling really bad for the kid and annoyed at the mother for ignoring him. Clearly he was upset. Why wasn't she doing anything
Well, now I know why. It's probably the same reason I ignore Ethan when he does it. Because I have a fussy child who gets upset over the slightest things and literally spends 1 minute out of every 5 screaming about something. At first I used to respond to every little peep out of his mouth. He's my baby after all and Gianna was never like this so he must be upset and need me right? Wrong. I've created a monster
He cries when Gianna talks to him, when a toy doesn't work the way he wants it to, when he wants his bottle but is too lazy to bend down and pick it up, when his blanket is in his crib, etc etc. It is exhausting. In one not so nice mommy moment I may have told him to grow a pair of balls. I should probably delete the above statement but I am keeping it real here.
Where Gianna is stubborn, independent and strong willed, Ethan is fussy, whiny, needy and clingy. Don't get me wrong he is the sweetest thing when he's not screaming and I love him to pieces. But don't wake the monster. It's all over when you do
The other day he screamed for 5 hours straight. 5 hours. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Poor Gianna was left to fend for herself while I tried to deal with Ethan. I held him, rocked him, sang to him, gave him a bath, tried to lay him down for a nap. Nothing worked. On and on he screamed and in that moment I wished for those blissful days of having only one kid. The days when I could love on, play with, discipline, structure and teach one child and one child only. It's impossible to give Gianna the attention and things she needs when I spend so many seconds tending to her whiny brother.
And the comments and looks I get in public are really starting to irritate me. We will be out and about, whether it's the store or a friends house and Ethan will get upset. Now i have learned to assess the situation because depending on what's the matter my attention only makes things worse. So I figure out if he's wet, poopy, hungry or hurt and if it's one of those I deal with it. If it's not I ignore it. In a few months he will be starting preschool and I will be going back to work. He has to learn to self regulate. At least a little bit.
And I laugh when people tell me how to handle it or command me to deal with my child. No one else want's to hear it they say. He's really upset they say. Aren't you going to do anything they ask? It takes all my energy and effort to not snap back at them. Instead I ignore it and keep on.
As his mom I know that this is a phase and while it's not pretty for other's to witness it's my whole life right now. I deal with his whining and crying every second. I don't have the time, energy or mental capacity to respond to it every second! So I pick my battles. And if it means that he has to fuss for awhile before he tires himself out so be it.
Now If only I could go back in time and tell my pre-baby self to not be so judge-mental. Or to go back to when I only had one child and think that parenting and motherhood was the easiest thing in the world. Until you have two you have no idea. Especially with two so close in age. It is impossible to fully give yourself to both children. Especially when they both want or need something at the same time. It's a balance, a game of picking your battles and praying for grace. Mostly for yourself so that you can be the parent you need to be for your children.
And for those with kiddo's close in age any tips or advice on finding a balance between your kids?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Push Presents

When I was 28 weeks pregnant with Gianna we PCS'd to Florida. Since I was no longer working I had a lot of free time on my hands to sit and watch reality tv. Some of my favorite shows at that time was Pregnant in Heels and The Real Housewives. I watched a few episodes where the woman talked about what they received as Push Presents(gifts given to them by their husbands after they had given birth) Some of these gifts were impressive. Expensive brand new cars, a new diamond ring, etc, etc.
My poor husband got so tired of being asked what he got me for my push present. To be honest I didn't expect much. We put a lot of money into our new house and had just gone down to one income. With a baby on the way I knew all our extra money needed to be spent wisely so I set my expectations low. I mean pink diamond earrings in honor of our baby girls isn't that expensive. I figured out quickly that the wedding band that matched my wedding set was out of the question. Still I knew I'd get something thoughtful and romantic to celebrate this occasion. I mean I did just give birth to his child after all
But baby birth day came and went and I didn't get my push present. Since my baby was the best present I could ever ask for I didn't give it much thought. Until a few months later when my husband came home with a push present for me
When G was a month old the husband had to go away for training. The training was only an hour away, still he'd be staying with his unit overnight. Every few days the guys took turns and rotated who would go home to spend the day and night with their families. On the day it was M's turn to come home he walked into the door excited to show me the push present he finally purchase.
He started telling me about this cute boutique in Mobile, Al that he had came across and since it screamed my name he walked in. He said he started talking to the shop owner and somehow the topic of conversation turned into asking if he had children. He replied that he did and the woman asked what he had gotten me for my push present. Shamefully he said nothing and she laughingly chided him. Now he felt really bad and he set his mind to getting me a push present. He explained that the store was totally my style and when he came across some cross necklaces he knew what to get me.
Now before I reveal my present I should explain that I do love crosses. I have a cross tattoo on my ankle and will buy anything with a cross on it. Well to some extent. So when he said this I was pretty excited
He handed me the package, I opened it up with anticipation and struggled not to laugh when I saw the gift. He had gotten me a ...
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Rosary. A rosary. Not a cross necklace but an actual rosary. My Catholic Grandma would have been so proud. I struggled to smile instead of laugh and I didn't correct his little mistake. However since I stopped going to Catholic mass and instead go to a Methodist church I didn't have much use of it. So the rosary got thrown into my jewelry box and I needless to say never worn. Occasionally he'd ask why I never wore it, or mention that it would look good with an outfit I was wearing but having a baby and breastfeeding was a good excuse to use for why I wasn't wearing it
I had totally forgotten about the rosary until yesterday. I finally got around to organizing and cleaning the guest bed room and in a box full of baby shower cards and my pregnancy journal I found the box with the rosary in it. I got a good laugh and I may have even cried. I took out the rosary and vowed to not forget about it again. I may even hang it up in my room like a good Catholic girl should
I love that silly husband of mine. He tries so hard and really does love us like crazy