Friday, December 23, 2011

This is where I talk about bullying.

It's December 23rd. You would think I would have some gushing post about how magical the holidays are now that my kid is (almost) old enough to embrace the full excitement, the magic, Santa, and just the whole aura. Well, not today, my friends. I want to talk about bullying and how I'll be damned if my kid isn't going to learn to stand up for herself. If you want holiday joy, please proceed to Kelle Hampton's blog.

So, here is my first mellow dramatic experience with witnessing my kid being bullied....

Lily is shy and shows a bit of anxiety in new, social situations (you think she got my genes on that one?). Now that she isn't in school (for now. financial woes.), socializing her is a bit of a challenge because we're just so busy and getting her to play groups is difficult. One on one play for her is typically fine. We have our friend's little boy, Ty, who she loves, and my parent's next door neighbor's little boy, Josiah, and Ryleigh, who she adores. She's pretty ok one on one. Group play is just different for her.

So, yesterday, Dustin and I took her up to our community's little playground. It's really tiny and made for toddlers, and since it's Christmas break there were a lot of kids there. Ok, maybe not a lot. There were like six kids there, but more than usual. All of the kids were older than her. I decided to just back up away from the immediate play area and observe so Lily could socialize.

Lily was immediately interested in two little girls that didn't look too much older than her. (I later found out that they were ages 3 and 5 from the babysitter sitting on the bench.) Lily doesn't have a direct approach when trying to interact with other kids. She talks quietly, stares a lot, and just kind of observes. When she's comfortable enough, she will say something that she identifies with. For example, after observing the girls for a few minutes, Lily noticed one of the girls was wearing a shirt with Cinderella on it, so, Lily said, "Hey! You have Cinderella on your shirt! I like Cinderella".

The girls just stared at her for a bit and then the older girl said, "WE don't talk to strangers", very rudely.

How nice. Their parents taught them how to be assholes to strange little kids. That lesson seemed to backfire, in my opinion...but, ok, I can see that a stranger is a stranger and if that's what they were taught, so be it.

But Lily still wanted their attention. So, she just kind of followed them around. I would see them having little mini conversations, which were out of my earshot, but they were not really welcoming Lily into their little world.
I noticed that the girls just seemed to be ganging up on her. Every time Lily was going down the slide, one of them would either cut in front of her or walk up the slide so Lily couldn't slide down. Or, if she was trying to walk up the stairs one of them would push past her. This didn't seem to disrupt Lily's vigilance for their attention though.

It happened.

The girls were standing on a a little landing after the first two stairs that led to the slide. Lily went to put her foot on the first stair to join them on the landing. The younger of the two, (remember, she's only 3), stepped onto the second stair and shoved Lily, hard, in the chest, basically pushing her back down to ground level.

Oh, hello, mama bear instinct.

I had already had a level of frustration with these girls because of how they were treating Lily but now?? Now, I'm pissed.

With having absolutely no earthly idea on how to handle this, and still remain rational, I stomped over to the girls, glaring over in the direction of the babysitter who was 100% preoccupied with her telephone conversation, I crouch down to this little girl's level and said, "excuse me, why did you just push her? Pushing is not a nice thing to do. Lily was trying to play with you!".

The little girl responded my just putting on her best pouty face, burying her head, and saying nothing. Her older sister just laughed and ran over by the babysitter. The remaining four kids on the playground, who were significantly older, stopped to watch the scene, proud that they weren't the ones in trouble.

It's too bad that spanking someone elses child is frowned upon. It crossed my mind, I swear it did. I think that's more acceptable than spanking your own child sometimes. 

A mom who overheard the commotion, who was laying by the pool a few feet away, popped out of her chair, just to make sure it wasn't her kid I was reprimanding. She smiled at me warmly, as if to say, "I've been there and it will only get worse".

Sadly, I know it will only get worse. Much worse. I've been there. For three years in middle school, I was there. Bullied everyday, so much so that I begged, pleaded, and cried to stay home from school

Maybe I am being overly sensitive. Maybe others wouldn't even consider this bullying. Perhaps this- shoving and ganging up- is just a part of kids being kids and learning their independence, finding out how others interact. But, I have to say, this situation crushed my heart for Lily. She just looked so sad that these girls were being so mean. Tears are stinging my eyes as I type this because this is the sort of hurt that every mother wants to shield their child from. It's unnecessary, really. Pain and hurt are a part of life, sure, but bullying at the age of 3 and 5, or any age, is completely unacceptable.

All I can hope is that she has a solid backbone from a young age, learns that it's just not ok, and even fights back if she has to. I hope she has the self esteem to rise above it. I never knew how to handle my bullies and it was such a lonely time for me.

Stand your ground, baby girl. This world can be a cruel place. I wish I could always be there to protect you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I've had this post rolling around in my head for a few days. Is it weird that I write blog posts in my head on most days and then promptly forget them, only ending up writing once or twice a month? ::sigh:: I need more hours in the day.

I am a homebody. 
Surprised? If you know me, probably not. I love being home. More so than that, I love being home with my kid. 

I have always been a homebody. I was outgoing and very social in middle and high school but I never minded staying home, watching movies with friends or my then boyfriend. Those were some of the best memories, actually.

I can remember being in college, going out until all hours of the morning, "clubbing", going to "Raves" (mid 90's= Ecstasy days. I did not partake but it was really funny to watch), and I would LOVE the feeling of going home to my cozy little apartment alone. I was never sad that the fun was over or that I was by myself. I just loved that comfort zone of home. My parents' house always represented "home" to me after I moved out, too. I was always just as comfortable there as my own home. 

Throughout my 20s, I lived a lot of places, for many different reasons, exploring what life was about, but still, I always had that love for being home...even in my 200 square foot, roach infested studio that Bear and I lived in for 6 months. I was always really great at being comfortable at home, no matter where that was.

Since Lily has been around, I have become a homebody times a million. In the newborn and infant stages, it was because it was simply too much of a pain in the ass to go out all day. Sure, we ran a lot of errands, did a lot of shopping, I needed to get out for my sanity, but to leave the house more than once in a day was rare. There was too much shit to tow and too many variables for this nervous new mama.

Now, in the toddler years, she's much more flexible and easy to tote around, we do spend a lot more time out and about...but, like her mama, Lily loves her home. Some of my favorite days are those like yesterday where we didn't leave the house until almost 5pm. We watched movies, painted, played with every toy, walked outside, jumped on the bed...we just did homey stuff. This isn't to say that we don't love visitors or that we don't like going places, we just tend to be super comfortable here at home. 

What's strange to me is that now when I'm home alone, when Lily is at school or her grandparent's house for a visit, it doesn't feel like home simply because she's not here. Home for me has always just been where I am, where I've made it comfortable, or where my family is.

But's where Lily is. She is only 2 and I am already dreading the "empty nest".

Monday, October 17, 2011

I definitely have more to say than just a once-a-month post but, holy shit, life needs to slow down.

A lot of what is going on with my life cannot be discussed over the interwebs because it's job related but I sure do need this outlet more than ever. A friend suggested carrying a notebook with me to get some thoughts out on paper during the day and I definitely need to do that. It's good for the soul to get negative thoughts out.

Anyway. My motherhood story of the week...

On Saturday, I went to Target (surprise, surprise). I was childless, just running in to get a few things. It was busy because it was a cloudy day and a cloudy day in Florida is equal to a temperature of 7 degrees up north. People get all mopey and bored, using retail therapy to self soothe. Ridiculous, sure, but very true.

I was making my way up to the cash registers and I notice a young mom in front of me with a cart full of items. She had a toddler in her cart, maybe close to 2 years old, and an elementary school aged boy, maybe 6 or 7. The mom was well composed, maybe a little too much so, wearing a super cute outfit, full make-up and flawless hair. Point being, her appearance, as well as her kids' appearance and behavior, seemed that of appropriate adjustment and left me no reason to think she was a bad mother.

A few feet away from the cash register lanes, her toddler decided to have an epic meltdown. Epic. Huge. Meltdown. I couldn't decide exactly what set him off but it was a typical toddler tantrum. It had something to do with his Spiderman Halloween costume and possibly not being able to put it on right then and there. I heard the mom appropriately say, "Shhhh. Calm down", and all sorts of other soothing, pleading phrases, that had an underlying meaning of "Please shut the fuck up, kid, because you are making me one of those moms". The kid didn't care. He was full on screaming, angry at the world, ready to rip off his own limbs in a fit of rage, mad. The mom looked embarrassed, tried to soothe him by picking him up and distracting him, to no avail, so she did like most modern moms would do and ignore him.

As she and I settled into different register lines, right next to one another, while the kid is still screaming, I instantly felt compassion and sympathy for the mom. I had that sinking feeling in my stomach for her. The one where you KNOW you are being judged and silently ridiculed by everyone around....only this time, people weren't so silent.

There were two old ladies, meaning over the age of 70, behind me in my register line and they immediately began to verbalize their disapproval for this young mom's parenting skills, cackling something along the lines of, "She should not have brought that child out in a crabby mood like that!", and, "Why do mom's these days think it's ok to just ignore that kind of behavior? She's not even doing anything to stop him".

Overhearing these comments prompted my (also old lady-ish) cashier to say to me, as she's ringing up my purchases, "My. Things aren't like they used to be. In my day, we would have left our cart and taken that kid outside for a few minutes and set him straight", insinuating that some sort of physical discipline would ensue "outside" and only when the kid shuts up would they return to the store to continue shopping in a more appropriate manner.

All of these opinionated remarks, along with all of the disgusting glares this poor girl was getting thrown in her direction, were making my blood boil for her and for every mom with a toddler.
So, I said so.

"Maybe it's possible that you ladies don't remember what it's like to have a 2 or 3 year old. I've been there and it's not easy to correct that type of behavior, especially when you're by yourself without another adult, and especially when giving the behavior attention can sometimes make it worse."

Well. That was a mistake because clearly, beating your children made a lot more sense to these women. They fired back other "You don't know how to parent either" type of comments.

I gave up on the argument but I just found it surprising how women criticize one another, especially moms, instead of empathizing when they've been there. There, with that tantruming toddler, or any other motherhood situation.
I could easily go into a whole philosophical rant about women need to stop judging one another and how giving a mom in this situation an empathetic smile, or even brief words of encouragement, could make her day, but I won't.

All I'll say is this: Stop being so mean. Be nice. Everyone is traveling their own tough path. Assume she is doing the best she can and smile with encouragement. It's just the right thing to do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let's talk about viruses, my need for control, anxiety, and having a kid. Yes, they are all related. In my world.

First, anxiety.
I am an anxious, somewhat neurotic person, in general. Not all of the time, not even everyday, but just in general. I have been my whole life. I can remember being in third grade suffering from horrible separation anxiety. I would fake sick often and sit in the clinic crying to go home. Magically, when my mom appeared, everything was fine and we would be on our way to Taco Bell for a Taco Bell Grande with sour cream. I loved one on one attention from my parents and didn't adjust well to group situations with other children. I remember needing to be picked up from a couple of sleep overs. It just wasn't my thing. I liked adults, my own space, and quiet (not much has changed at the age of 35, now that I think of it).
Did my mom enable my neurosis by conceding to picking me up from school and sleepovers? Possibly, but I would, and will, probably do the same thing with Lily.  We all fuck up our kids somehow. It's a fact. And it's ok.

Anyway, I grew out of this phase and middle school and high school were relatively anxiety free for me. I was social, had a ton of friends my own age, and was pretty well balanced.

I started having panic attacks right before I left for Florida State, after finishing community college. I had no idea they were panic attacks at the time. All I knew is that I felt terribly on edge and nauseated for about 10-15 minutes at a time and it would come and go. I was anxious. I don't know why or what it was truly about, but it was there.
Throughout my 20's and 30's, this pattern continued. I will be fine for a couple/few years and then my anxiety will surface again, usually surrounding a major change in my life...or an illness, even a simple virus, like the stomach flu. Weird? Yes, I know.

An interesting side note here is that pregnancy and the first year of Lily's life were completely anxiety free for me. This is the opposite for many women who suffer with anxiety but I truly felt emotionally fantastic during those times. Perhaps it was just having another focus, aside from living in my own head? Probably.
I digress.

Enter viruses and need for control, or hating having a lack of control.
I am a control freak. I like to know what's going to happen and when, as unrealistic as that is. I like to have a plan, in most situations, and stick to it. I hate the anticipation of the unknown. This is why I have suffered with anxiety. Control is a very difficult thing to give up for me, even in the example of driving: I need to drive whenever I go somewhere with a group, or drinking alcohol: I hate it because I feel out of control when I'm "buzzed" and God forbid, drunk.

When a virus of any kind interrupts my life, I sometimes freak out. I can deal with an every day cold, or even a minor flu with a fever, as long as I can function...but vomiting?? Nope. Cannot deal.

Because I am so analytical and tend to over think, I have figured out why I have an irrational fear and loathing for vomiting illnesses: because you can't control it. On top of being a horrible feeling and disgusting to boot, it's unstoppable, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and has the potential to be embarrassing. (I realize how crazy this sounds and I swear I'm getting to a point of some sort).

Now, knowing this about me, imagine my dismay when my kid started getting sick once a month, with a variety of viruses, resulting from being in daycare. Daycare is nothing more than a petri dish full of germs waiting to pounce. Kids are gross and there is very little anyone can do about it. Roseola, bronchitis, pneumonia, stomach name it. This is a whole different level of anxiety for me. When it's a virus in my body, it's me. I know about my body and how to manage it. When it's Lily, this little love bug who I cannot stand to be in any kind of discomfort, it's so, so different.

I used to think, pre-Lily, "Hey, kids get sick and then they get better. It's life!". That was very naive. The statement in it of itself is very true but it was naive of me to think that it's that simple. The amount of worry and anxiety I feel when Lily is sick is like nothing I've ever experienced. I fear the next virus and what the severity of it is going to be. I hate looking into her big green eyes, see that familiar sickly glassiness and not be able to anticipate when or how she is going to feel better.

I'm getting better with all of this, though. Colds and bronchial viruses are getting a little better for me to handle and I've learned quickly how to soothe this for her. She's on her billionth virus right now, as I type, and I have managed to remain calm.
I still hate vomiting, whether it's her or me. It makes me crazy. I'm hoping I get over this one day.

So, getting to my point?
If you're reading this and you're at all like me, only without a child....somehow, learn how to let go. Go with the flow. Your kid will get sick, but they will get better. Accept this somehow and find a zen. Your workplace will understand. You will not get fired. Your child will be ok in a couple of days. Life will be back to normal in a couple of days.
I will, someday, learn how to take my own advice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I am absolutely loving having conversations with my daughter.

From today:
(She was napping for 3.5 hours, which she has never done in her little life. She started getting some cold symptoms yesterday so I figured it was draining her energy. At almost 5pm, I went in her room and touched her head)
Lily: Mommy? Time to get up??
Me: Well, baby, you don't have to but you've been sleeping a long time.
Lily: Mommy, I sleep long time 'cuz I don't feel good. ::She stands up::: I feel better now!!!
Me: That's good baby. Sleep is good.
Lily: Sleep make me better, mommy. I don't feel good but then I feel better.

This might read as absolutely trivial but I'm telling you these were the days I was waiting for as a mom: communication. I love it. Sometimes she still doesn't make a ton of sense and she gets so many words mixed up but at the end of the day, it's all perfect to me.

Just like the other night, I decided to take a bath with her in my big bathtub. I hadn't done that in awhile and I thought it would be fun since she's into mimicking everything I do. I took the opportunity to try to teach her how to wash her hair, etc.
The whole time we were in there she just chatted up a storm, asking to "use mommy's soap", "wash mommy's hair" and just talking mini paragraphs at a time. This is so fun for me. (She also though it was hilarious that my boobs floated. That's a whole other story though.)

Tantrums aside, I love this age.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I had a very interesting moment yesterday.

It was "meet the teacher" open house at Lily's preschool. It occurred to me as we were driving there that I will be doing this for about the next 16 years. A tradition of sorts, along with school supply shopping (which I LOVED as a kid. There was nothing like a new Trapper Keeper with crisp new folders), and eventually there will be school clothes shopping. It felt strange to me that we are beginning this tradition so soon. She's 2, not 5. It made me feel almost guilty as though I am rushing her into being a grown up kid already.

But that wasn't the moment I'm talking about, exactly.

When we arrived at her school, it was abuzz with parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, etc. Smiling faces everywhere and a lot of "getting to know you" talk throughout the hallways. We walked into her new classroom, twice the size of last year's class, adorned with so many toys and things to distract even the shiest of kids away from their parents.

We met "Miss Liz", as Lily clung to my hip, clutching my shirt, barely whispering a "hello" to Liz. "She's so shy", I say. I question myself after I said it because I almost sounded...smug. As in, "Heh, she NEEEEEEDSSS me". I surprised myself because usually I'm a bit embarrassed by Lily's shyness and I want her to interact and show some independence. But in this moment, it felt amazing to be needed.

Then, all of the sudden, Lily turns her head and sees a HUGE play kitchen with boxes full of play food.

"MOMMY, MOMMY, LOOOOOK!!!", as she squirms to get out of my arms. I put her down and she trots over to the "kitchen" area, about 10 feet away from me. I immediately follow her, get down on my knees and start to play with her. I then looked around and noticed that we are the only ones not interacting with the others. Story of my life. I have always leaned towards anti-social, especially with unfamiliar people. "Nope. I can't do this to her", I think to myself.

Reluctantly, I get up and force myself to move back across the room to introduce myself to some of these other moms and chat with the teacher.

"I'll be right over here, Lily". She barely gives me a glance.

Very few of these women are overly friendly and don't seem interested in conversation with me (see? Anti-social.), so I walk over to the snack and milk sign up sheets, even further away from Lily, near the exit door. I notice Lily is keeping her eye on me but not overly concerned. She looked up after a few minutes and said, "Bye, mommy! Check ya later, dude! (something her dad taught her)".  She thought I was leaving her for her regular school day.

This was my interesting moment.

I suddenly wanted to cry. For a lot of reasons. I realized, right there in this moment, she will not need me for much longer like she does now. She's already gained so much independence in 2 short years. This time is going too fast. She won't be cute and little for long. She will be going to Kindergarten soon. She will be a teenager after that and omg I cannot handle the thought of talking about birth control, drugs,  and having the "I FUCKING HATE YOUs" yelled in my direction. THIS IS ALL JUST HAPPENING TOO FAST!!!

Yep, all of that went through my mind.

And since that moment yesterday, I have paid extra attention to every little sweet, and not so sweet, nuance about Lily. I have taken several mental pictures and notes. I have tried to just be in the moment, which is not a skill that I've perfected but I am diligently trying.

When she was a newborn, I couldn't wait for this age of more interaction, language, and independence. Now I want time to freeze. Right now. Let me just soak all of this in and never let myself forget what she's like at this age.

When it was time to leave school and we had neared outstayed our welcome, I went to pick Lily up and said, "Time to go, baby. Let's go to Target", and she says, "No, mommy. I wanna play here!". My heart sank a little more.
So, like any good parent would do, I bribed her and told her that there is a Curious George waiting for her at Target. Is that considered "spoiling"??? Don't answer that.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I think it's funny when my kid curses. I do. So shoot me. It's freakin hilarious and I'm sticking to that.
She hasn't done it too much, so relax. Maybe three times. The funniest time being when she dropped the f-bomb in the grocery store, over and over, because she heard me say it in the car as an old man pulled out in front of me. She has also exercised the word "shit" with the proper usage, and "damn".
I'm not saying I'm proud of this. I just find it slightly funny for some reason.

Lily is just funny in general these days. Aside from the epic tantrums, she has one heck of a funny personality.
- Because I'm a worrier, I have a tendency of saying, "Baby, are you doin ok?" a lot. So, of course, Lily has picked up, "Mama, you ok?", complete with concerned look and hand on the shoulder.
- Because Lily is sick often, my mom and I both "check" her for a fever by cupping her face in our hands and feeling her forehead (ineffective, yes, I know). So, of course, Lily has now done the same with us, complete with, "Mama, you feel hot".
- One of her favorite sayings is, "Awww, maaaannnnn", when she drops something or can't find what she's looking for.
- She also loves, "Check ya later, dude", thanks to her daddy.
- For some reason she associates the word "crabby" with having a belly ache. I can only attribute this to the fact that when she's in one of her fits and I ask her "Are you crabby?" that maybe she has a stomach ache?? I'm not sure, since she doesn't know how to communicate these things to me all of the time yet. Anyway, she'll come up to me, put her hand on my stomach, randomly, and say, "Mommy, you crabby??".
- She calls Dustin and I by our first names sometimes. She can say Dustin pretty clearly but my name is "Bee-yes-a". She pulls this card when she thinks we aren't listening to her. Such as, "Mama, I want M&Ms", and I reply, "No, baby. Not until after you eat dinner". She'll say, "BEE-YES-A, I want M&Ms", as if I didn't understand or hear her the first time.
- She has this little manipulation thing that she does where she'll ask for something and then say "OK!" in answer to herself. For example, "Mommy, wanna get some cape (cake)??", and then right before I say something she'll say, "OK!!!", as though she's answering her own question, running into the direction she needs to go to get what she wants. 

Other random things about Lily at 26 months:
- She loves the word "no" and uses it as much as possible, even if she really means "yes". She also loves, "NO WAY, MOM", or "Go away!" when she wants to either be all alone or be alone with someone else in the room. Hurtful, for sure, but shows some independence, I suppose.
- She loves school now. She's had a new teacher since summer began, Mallory, who she ADORES. She talks about her all of the time.
- She has very little separation anxiety from anyone. She's great when I drop her off somewhere, like my parent's house or my in-laws, and just says, "Bye, mommy! See ya later!!". This is bitter sweet for me but I know it's ultimately a good thing.
- I bought her a play kitchen about a month ago and she loves it. She loves making us "coffee" and "pizza".
- She has zero interest in giving up her paci, going potty on the potty, or moving to a big girl bed. We're working on the first two, little by little, but I can tell this might be a long road. I feel as though I am going to be one of those parents that I used to judge that has a 3 year old in diapers with a paci hanging out of their mouth. At least the paci is now reserved for the house or the car only now.
- She is very sensitive and will apologize if she thinks she's physically hurt someone. She also says "thank you" to everyone, including our cashiers at stores.
- She's a homebody. She isn't a big fan of being out and about lately. She'll tolerate it for a couple hours but will constantly remind us that it's "time to go home". I'm hoping this changes a bit.
- Sleeping is a challenge again...or still, depending on how I look at it.
- She loves to sing along to songs, especially Katy Perry's "Alien" and Enrique Igliesias' "I Like It". I love it.

She's developing so quickly. She's about 29lbs now and really tall. Her red hair is growing quickly now and all kinds of crazy curly/frizzy.  She's a lot of fun to be around, most of the time, and seems to be so smart.
I feel myself losing my "baby" everyday, which makes me sad, but I'm so excited to see who she will grow into.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I was all set to sit down and write an awesomely funny post about Lily-isms since it's technically nap time, but I just heard, "MOMMY. MOMMY. Time to get up??", after only sleeping for 25 minutes.


It's never a dull moment. One thing about motherhood that you can be certain about is the uncertainty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I've been at a loss for posts. It isn't necessarily because I don't have anything to post about, it's because I don't always want to be negative and to be honest, I haven't had a lot of nice things to say about motherhood lately.
That sounds bad, right?
I will say that 2 is a fun age in many ways. The development of language and emotion is sweet, adorable, intriguing, and whatever other positive adjective you want to insert. Lily is the funniest person I know and she can be so adoring and sweet...but, it isn't called "terrible twos" for nothing.
Lily has regressed on sleep habits, waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes often, and taking nothing but short cat naps. Combine that with epic tantrums and you have yourself one tired, annoyed, stressed out mama. I realize I'm not alone and I'm certainly not claiming that I have it worse than any other mom, but I will admit that I'm at a loss on how to deal with the terrible twos.
I'm doing the best I can to roll with the punches. Live for the cute little nuances. Keep myself calm. Breathe through the challenges. Remind myself that this will pass. Utilize my family and take breaks. But some days all of these things combined just aren't enough to keep me feeling sane.
I struggle with the guilt of feeling frustrated. I feel horrible when I snap at Lily during her meltdown because I logically know that SHE is frustrated and just learning how to deal with HER emotions. I am the adult. I should be able to hold this together for her. But it's frustrating and sometimes infuriating.
I am going to look into some books theorized on the terrible twos and try to exercise some of the techniques, because let's face it, I'm kind of at my wits end here and we have at least another year of this!

I promise I'll have something happier to share. I just tend to need to write when things are, well, difficult. That's what I need this outlet for- venting. It soothes me a bit and allows me to not live in my own head so much.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I hesitated on writing this post due to the risk of offending, but screw it. It's my blog.
I'm just going to throw this out there-
Will someone please tell Kelle Hampton that it's ok to have a bad day and that life isn't full of rainbows, unicorns and fairy dust everyday? Please?? Am I just cynical? I'm all for being a "positive outlook" type of person and finding/creating happiness in most situations, but for the love of plastic Jesus, is life really as simple as Kelle makes it out to be? I'll answer that: NO, it isn't...unless there is some fabulous, magical medication that I'm unaware of.

I have been following Kelle since I read her birth story in January 2010. I fell in love with her writing, her story of birthing a special needs child, and her pictures. I think the whole universe has read her birth story. That story was powerful and honest, tear jerking and heart wrenching. She has been featured in magazines, countless other blogs, CNN, and God only knows where else. Her story seemed to touch the world and really bring some reality to many of us who birthed healthy children.

In the months following that birth story, I enthusiastically clicked the link to her blog every time I saw that she had a new post. I would read through her recreations of vacations, day trips, girls' nights out, elaborate birthday parties for her family members, days at the beach, lazy days at home with her soon occurred to me- this chick never has a bad day. She spends her days writing, photographing, and swooning over her girls. Life seems pretty simple in her world. Or at least that's how she portrays it in words and pictures.

Having a single child is difficult. Having two kids seems slightly more difficult to me. She has two children, one with special needs. There has to be bad days involved. That's just reality.

So, I then realized that she just doesn't air her grievances over the interwebs, like some of us :::cough cough:::me::::cough::: She prefers to stay positive and light-hearted. I get that. But here's the my world, I appreciate honesty and a healthy dose of realism. That's how I work. I ran across a bunch of Kelles in my world, pre-Lily, that blew smoke up my ass about motherhood. When I arrived here and realized that it can be hell on earth in certain moments, imagine my dismay and the feelings of being a terrible mother who has absolutely no instinct to be a nurturer. Honesty would have been much appreciated ahead of time. Fair warning, is what I believe it's called.

Perhaps I am just a different type of mother than most and most identify with Kelle, not me. As I've posted about before, I never dreamed a being a mother my whole life. I didn't coo at babies or aim for the stay-at-home-mom status. I simply fell in love with a man which ignited feelings of wanting to see his eyes on our child and experience that type of love.  I also wanted to avoid weird, old cat woman status, but that's a whole other story. Point being, maybe I'm not a natural nurturer and this is more work for me than others. I'm not sure, but I do know that those moms who have shared with me that they have had feelings of wanting to run away from time to time or that they mourn their previous lives once in awhile are the moms that I have identified with.

Do I still read Kelle's blog? Absolutely, I do. She is an amazing writer and photographer. But do I buy into her idealistic posts? No. I know she has bad days, bad moments, and probably even argues with her husband from time to time :::gasp::::. I just know that what made me fall in love with her originally was her honesty of how difficult it was to come to terms with her child having Down Syndrome. It was true emotion. I miss that in her posts now. I just hope she is being true to herself away from the internet and acknowledges that life is, in fact, not perfect.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011


My daughter said those words to me on her birthday, kicking me at the same time, as I was putting on her jammies.
Be still my broken heart.
She wanted her grandfather in that moment, which is completely acceptable, but I did not realize she would break my heart so early on. I want her to always want me and to always need me. :::sigh:::
Reality sets in.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dear Lily,
I think the phrase I use the most when reflecting on something about you is, "I can't believe...", simply because it is so incredible how fast time goes and the growth you experience within that time.

You are two. As of 4:45am yesterday, I have a two year old. It just seems impossible that it has been two years since I was sitting in the hospital marveling over you along side of your dad. I remember so much from those three days in the hospital, like it was yesterday. I remember during that time I continually reminded myself to "be present" and "stay in the moment" so I could remember. So far, so good.

Last night, after I put you to bed, I sat and watched home movies of you from 0-6 months. You had the most gorgeous newborn skin, the reddest hair, the most curious blue eyes, and the longest fingers. Now, at two, with that same porcelain skin, those curious (now green) eyes, your busy fingers that are now in proportion to your dainty hands, and your strawberry blond hair, you are not a baby anymore. It's so bittersweet. I love seeing you develop, learn new things, become a little person...but I miss those baby noises and the times when you would fall asleep on my chest.  Ah, the emotions that go along with all of this!

Seeing you grow is simply amazing right now. You can count to ten, you know a lot of letters, colors, shapes, and animals; you love to sing and dance; your advanced vocabulary (per your teacher, not your biased mama) puts together the cutest small sentences; your intensity when you're processing something new is so cute, especially the way you furrow your brow; the way you observe others when you're feeling overwhelmed in a group is so perceptive and the right thing to do for you. There are just so many things happening right now. I love it.

Terrible twos? Yes. We have had those moments/hours/days already. Mommy is still learning to cope with this stage and extend her patience, but we're making it through.  Unfortunately, your birthday was one of those days. Totally understandable though, since you had a nasty cold and we still partied like rock stars on Saturday, the day before your birthday. You loved being the "belle of the ball", as your mamau called it! The Elmo themed birthday party was a hit with you and your guests seemed to have fun, too, so I guess accepting some crabbiness the day after was well worth it.

So, my fiery little red head, happy 2nd birthday. May this year bring a lot of amazing discoveries, fun memories, many laughs, and much happiness. I look forward to every single day with you and just know how special you make my world (and so many others, too!).

Thank you for being so wonderful.

Your mama.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. Perhaps that's because Lily will be 2 next week and she has every ounce of a 2 year old's energy level. I am truly exhausted when she goes to bed at 8-8:30pm. It's like a truck hit me most nights, which I'm thankful for because that means she's healthy and developing properly, keeping me on my toes!

On this, my second Mother's Day, I've been thinking about how I've changed as a person since becoming a mom, almost two years ago. Someone actually asked me that specific question last week and I've been thinking about an appropriate answer ever since. I just don't believe I articulated it well in my answer, which was this:
  • I had to learn how to become self-less and put me last, which I've never truly had to do
  • I have become less anxious about a lot of things, spending less time in my own head, and more anxious about others, like germs. Having a sick kid is way worse than I anticipated. 
  • I have had to find my backbone and deal with confrontation in some situations, which I always avoided.
  • I have become a lot more empathetic towards people in general. 
  • I have cut friends out of my life that were too taxing. There's just no time for that shit now and I want Lily to have a role model for choosing good people in her life.
  • I have become less judgmental in a lot of ways and more judgmental in some.
  • I'm a lot stronger overall.
  • I have a billion times more respect and love for my own mom.
  • I have a greater respect for my body and what it's capable of.

Reading those thoughts back...there just isn't enough substance to those answers.
The truth is, everything has changed about me since becoming a mother. Everything. It isn't that I've lost myself in motherhood or that it has taken away my identity. It's actually that I have found myself, and continue to discover myself, throughout this journey. I have found out so much about myself that I didn't know or realize before. I have found who I want to be in the future for Lily and who I don't ever want to be.

Motherhood is so amazingly scary, so amazingly bad, so amazingly overwhelming, so amazingly wonderful, so amazingly tiring. Motherhood is so amazing.

Thank you, Lily Ocean, for making me a mother, a different person, a better person. You, my love, are my world.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

There are some days and some weeks when I truly, truly mourn my old life. I mourn the freedom I once had as a childless individual. The freedom of sleeping in until 10am on a Saturday, eating some breakfast and then beaching it for the rest of the afternoon. The freedom of going to Target with my whole brain functioning and focusing on why I'm there instead of trying to keep a child content and rushing through the store to avoid any potential meltdowns. The freedom to go workout a few days a week. Shit, even the freedom of nurturing my marriage by spending an entire day together without watching Yo Gabba Gabba or changing a diaper. The freedom of living guilt free because even if I drop Lily off somewhere to do something for myself for an hour or so means feeling guilt. Just, missing freedom.

This past week was one of those weeks.

There wasn't anything specifically horrible about this past week, aside from Lily's first ever adult food vomiting experience, which, albeit awful (if you know me at all you know I have a weird phobia of vomiting), was not enough in it of itself to evoke these feelings. I just go through this sometimes.

I often wonder if it's because I had a child in my 30's instead of my 20's. Maybe I was just more set in my ways because I was older? Maybe it has nothing to do with that and more to do with the fact that I'm a spoiled only child that only had to ever worry about myself and my dog? I'm not sure, but I'm just being honest here, I miss my pre-child life once in awhile.

No one told me that I might feel this way. I don't feel guilt over these feelings anymore because I have accepted them as being normal. I might have even shared these exact emotions before and I'm repeating myself, but so be it. It feels good to be honest and get it off my chest right now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yet another thing about motherhood that is interesting to me is the "OMG, my kid does ::::fill in the blank here:::: and s/he must be the only one to do it because ZOMG it's so bad/different/good, etc.". Does this make sense?

Allow me to give examples.

When Lily was a newborn and suffered from silent reflux, I felt like the only mother alive dealing with this kind of issue on this level, even though logically I knew I wasn't.

When Lily wouldn't sleep through the night from 3.5 months of age until, oh, about 3 months ago, I SWORE that NO ONE has it this bad with their child's sleep.

When Lily got all of her teeth between the ages of 6 month to a year, aside from her 2 year molars, I was SURE that God was only torturing my kid, and, well, me.

When Lily had a 105 degree temperature when she was 13 months old, I was certain that no mother worried this much because surely no 13 month old has been this sick.

When Lily had a difficult time transitioning into school, obviously no child has been this difficult with all of the crying.

And these feelings can go for good, positive things, too...

When Lily falls down and skins her knees up, she rarely cries so she must be tougher than others.

Lily speaks in sentences already so she must be advanced.

And so on.

Logically, as a mother, you know that every parent goes through similar milestones, aches, pains, challenges, etc., and we are not different from others at all, but as a first time mother, I have felt like the only one on earth to go through certain things with such intensity. Perhaps it's just the way I deal with parenting issues and my feelings reveal how truly unprepared for motherhood I was. Feeling how difficult, exhilarating, tiring, joyous, heartwarming, :::insert any other adjective here::: with such passion has always taken me by surprise in this motherhood journey. Just going through so many experiences and situations that you cannot truly imagine, before you're there and living them, is so intense.

Most recently, Lily said,

"Mommy, I love you, mommy"

And I was certain that no other human has felt this special and this emotional over these simple words.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Well, Lily, you're in your second week of school...and it isn't going well... yet. You think that you love it after we've left and I ask you about it, but when you're there....not so much.
There are only 6 kids in your class, including you, and you're only there 6 hours a week, but you miss us when you're there. Your teacher is amazing, and so is the assistant, but you just don't love it...yet. Miss Vicki says that you say, "All done? Home?" most of the day. When I pick you up, you give me a pouty face and sometimes cry, just to show how unhappy you are. I caught you having fun a couple of times though, before you saw me. You love to play with Miss Leslie and Colton and Lola are your favorite friends so far.

Here is a typical conversation on the car ride home:
Mama: Did you have fun at school today?
Lily: YES. (Very stern, as though I scripted you to answer this way.)
Mama: What did you do?
Lily: Went owsigh. Paint.
Mama: Do you like Miss Vicki?
Lily: Yes. Miss Mickey.
Mama: What about Miss Leslie?
Lily: Lessssslieeeee. :smile:
Mama: Miss Vicki said you didn't want to paint today. Why didn't you paint?
Lily: I crwyying.
Mama: Mama doesn't want you to cry. Did you miss mama?
Lily: Yes. Miss mama. Lub mama.
Mama: Maybe you will try painting next time?
Lily: YES.

(How crazy is it that I have full conversations with you now?)

So, school isn't quite your thing yet, but we're going to keep trying for awhile. I can't stand that you cry as much as you do there but I know you'll love it soon enough.
You are definitely growing and developing so quickly, as always. You have a fantastic sense of humor and you are doing so many cute/funny things that it's too much to list here. One little nuance that I love is when you're playing with me, you cover your head with a blanket, pull it off and say, "THERE SHE IS!!", mimicking what I always say. Another great example is when you say, "I'm fiiiiiiiiine", or, "I'm ooookkkkkkkaayyyy", when you hurt yourself or you're scared. Again, you just mimic what I say to you to soothe you. It's so cute.

You use your words appropriately the majority of the time, saying "want" when you are hungry for something specific, and things of the like.
You love playing with my jewelry and constantly ask to "put on".
When I ask you if you love mama, you say, "love mama, love daddy, love bop bop, love nana", immediately going down the list of "loves".
You really don't like your bath anymore. I think it's because you correlate it to bedtime now and God knows you CAN'T miss anything. You stand up in the bath the whole entire time. It's funny.
You're napping and sleeping better lately :::knocks on wood::::. You're pretty much an 8pm-7:30am sleeper and a 1-2:30 napper.
You have the biggest sweet tooth. I wonder where you got that from?? :::as I shove chocolate chips in my mouth:::
You're starting to show a few signs of being close to ready for potty training...but I'm not quite ready for that yet.
You're favorite pastime is running on the couch. You get reprimanded about 100 times a day now, which obviously holds no weight. As a matter of a fact, you reprimand me back and say, "Mama, no wrunin", with your finger pointed at me.
You've learned the word "shit", thanks to me. Opps. Thankfully you've only said it once.

I cannot believe you're going to be 2 in 3 months. How can that possibly be?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I have been agonizing over daycare and I blame the women's movement. No, really. I do.

I am reading this awesome book, that was borrowed to me by a friend, called I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, which I believe that every new-ish mom should read, and it talks about exactly this: semi blaming the women's/feminist movement for all of our choices as females. I could seriously quote this book all the live long day because it is that.good. but I'll just highlight this for now:

"Yes, we are grateful for the women who fought and worked so hard to give us all of these advantages. The feminist movement opened doors, enabling and inspiring us to go for what we truly want in life. But the women's movement, as far as we're concerned, is still a work in progress. Self-actualization is a lot easier to talk about than it is to attain. How to "do it"- to be empowered, to take our own lives by the reins, to have children and be happy, all at the same time- is something most of us have yet to figure out".

Choices can sometimes prove to be a burden instead of a blessing, is what I took away from this section of the book. Choices can be dangerous.

Would I be bitching if we weren't given any choices like our grandmothers? Probably, but let me just go off on this tangent for awhile since we're living in this day and age.

As women, we DO do it all. Sure, some may not be the ones to pay the bills or take out the trash but for the most part we run our households and make the major decisions when it comes to our children. It's a lot of fucking pressure. We have so many choices and there are so many "what ifs" that go along with raising a child, it can be overwhelming.

I should back up and explain where I'm going with this...

I am a full time working mother. Yes, I work from home and NO, it isn't as glamourous as it sounds. It downright sucks sometimes because of having a lack of focus when I'm listening to a tantrum-ing toddler from the other room. Plus, I run a sales force...actually, I run an entire company. It isn't easy, but I'm very fortunate to have this job. It pays well and I get to work in my jammies.

Enter childcare. We are very lucky to have both sets of Lily's grandparents within a 3 mile radius of us. They are very helpful but still have their own jobs and lives...which leaves us the option of day care to fill in the gaps. We have been making due without daycare for 20 months but it has been more than a challenge at times.

Pre-Lily I was ALLLLL about daycare and the benefits of it. So many of my friends have their children in daycare and they are so well adjusted- the kids and the parents. It all made sense, in theory, to sign Lily up for a couple of days a week. She has been on a waiting list since early November at the only reputable daycare facility in town.

Well, her turn came up sooner than expected, thanks to a friend that works there. I got the call last Friday from the director that Lily could start Tuesday. "The all-day hours are from 7:30-5:30", the director told me. I was starting to feel panic in my throat, instead of excitement, for Lily's new endeavor. "Ok", I say, "I will be right over to get the registration forms".

And so I did.
I go to the school, talk with the director, get the student handbook, go over the list of (enormous, ridiculous) fees...panic, not excitement. I meet the teacher. She is wonderful...until...she says..."I don't allow pacifiers or baby blankets here". Holy Christ, I almost started crying right then and there.
"Oh.", I say, "Well, Lily will scream without those things. She is a self soother. And she won't sleep.".
I could barely speak at that point because I was holding back tears. I felt as though someone was holding a gun to my head and telling me how things were going to be for MY child.

I left there, bawling, feeling defeated and scared for Lily. "She's still a baby. She needs her paci and her 'baby'. She's not going to sleep. She's going to be miserable and think we abandoned her. She's going to cry all day. Jesus, I can't do this." So many thoughts.

And then it hit me...I have choices here. "What about half days? What about saying screw it and just leaving the plan we had in place? What about this? What about that?". Good Lord, the choices. I was truly agonizing over this all weekend. Sleep was lost.

That's when I started hating the whole "females are equal" charade. Mrs. Cleaver didn't have these fucking decisions to make for her family! She raised her kids, cooked and cleaned and THAT was her place, damnit. She knew her role. It was as simple as that. We, as females, belong in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. And we shouldn't be able to vote either!

I really don't believe any of the above paragraph but perhaps the thought of a "simpler time" sounds intriguing to me when things get complicated. I wonder if times were, indeed, simpler at some point, or if that is just something we all dream of?

I am glad, however, that the women's movement has allowed me to me a choice about cooking. I don't do it and that is completely acceptable. Thank you, Gloria Steinem.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Something very obvious occurred to me...
Dustin and I are the strongest figures that Lily knows, emotionally.
This was a bit of a frightening realization to me and I'm a bit embarrassed as to why this thought even came to me.

I am an Mtv junkie. I watch all of the ridiculous reality shows, (because God knows they don't run anything to do with music anymore), one of which is Teen Mom. The title is self explanatory. It is an AWFUL train wreck of a show, exploiting young mothers to a teenage audience (except me) making motherhood look doable and at times almost easy. I hate the show with a fiery passion for those reasons because I truly believe that it may actually entice young, impressionable high schoolers to get knocked up because, "OMFG Y'all, I CAN BE ON MTV!!!!11", but, I'm feeding the monster by watching this garbage. Don't ask me why.

Anyway, there is a lovely young girl named Leah, I believe, who has twins on this show. In the last episode, one of her twins, at the age of 7 months, was taken to the doctor for a very obvious deformities in her legs and arms. (How on God's green earth this girl did not recognize these deformities before the age of 7 months is well beyond me.)

After the doctor's appointment, Leah and her babies' daddy sat on the bed of their pick up truck  and discusses the stress of what was happening. Leah, clearly distraught with worry, cried on babies' daddy's shoulder and babies daddy said, "You're the mom. You've got to be strong. We are the strongest people in her life. We're all she knows about strength". 

Spoken out of the mouths of babes. Seriously, a seventeen year old made those statements and I, a 34 year old woman, had a fucking revelation. I am Lily's strength. I (and Dustin) are all Lily knows as safety, security, normalcy, and comfort. I am her mom and she will always need me to be strong.

This is scary to me. I am not empowered by this. I am terrified. This is where my over analysis of things and "what if" thinking is a very big detriment. My over thinking goes into overdrive.

I know I can do this and I know I will do this and play this role....but what if there is a situation where I just can't be that strong? I mean, Jesus, I still need my parents for so much, how do I now become...them?? How did my parents make this part look so easy? Being someone's entire strength and support is a tall order. You would have thought that this would have occurred to me before conception. I'm a little slow, perhaps.

A day at a time and a lot of deep breathing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I have a school drop out.
I will eventually post about our adventures in child care issues, but for now, all I can discuss is the look on my poor baby's face when I picked her up after only an hour of "school".

This is one of the billion issues that I never understood pre-baby: dropping your kid off at school. "What's the big deal?", I used to think. "The kid NEEDS socialization!", I would rationalize.

Well, yes, they do need socialization and perhaps in the grand scheme of life it truly isn't a big deal to drop your child off for the first time, but for Lily, the world seemed to come to a complete halt on Thursday January 6, 2011.

Backing up a bit...
We have a wonderful program called "Mom's Morning Out" at one of the local Methodist churches. Virtually all of my friends that live locally have had some experience with this program, or the daycare at this church. Highly recommended.

So, last month Lily and I went and observed one Thursday to see what it was all about. It could not have been a better scenario: brightly lit room, filled with age appropriate toys and bright colors, a teacher/student ratio of 2/2, snacks, and lots of smiling faces. They were even making a craft to celebrate Christmas that appropriately stated, "Happy Birthday Jesus" on them. It was like the room was puking rainbows and sunshine.

After about 20-30 minutes of observing, we left there and I was thinking, "I can totally do this. Dropping her off here will be a breeze. She won't even miss me with this kind of attention."; basically all good thoughts. Plus, it's only for 4 hours, a far cry from the 8 that daycare would be, (had there been a spot available for Lily, which was our original intention).

January 6th would be here start date, I was told. I was a bit anxious the night beforehand, more so than I ever anticipated feeling, but I was also feeling confident.  

I can do this. 
Lily can do this. 
We have to do this for socialization!

My mantras were helping my anxiety.
That next morning I packed her a lunch, a diaper bag, made myself some coffee and off we went.
Things started out great. We were the first ones there and Miss Dorothy and Miss Diana engaged Lily right away. I slipped out, whispering, "Bye, Lils. I'll be back soon", completely unnoticed.
I shed a couple tears as I drove away. This was a milestone for us, being that only family has cared for her these past 20 months. She was becoming a big girl and I no longer has this tiny little baby depending on me for every little thing. I reminisced for a few minutes until the ring of my cell phone snapped me out of it, which happened to be work related. "Perfect", I thought. THIS is why Lily is in the program, so I can get some work done.
I get situated at my desk after arriving home. After about 30 minutes I receive a text from my friend Leslie that works in the daycare portion of the church. She had checked on Lily for me. Here was our exchange:

Leslie: I just checked on Lily. She's sitting with her blanket :)
Me: Awww, thank you! Is she sad?? (Bells went off in my head because Lily typically does not just sit with her blanket)
Leslie: Truthfully, yes. You can tell she's been crying, but it's normal. She wasn't crying when I saw her though, which is very good for someone who has never been in school before.

Ugh. She's upset. She's sad. I felt terrible. I should have never asked if Lily was sad. My mother's guilt was in overdrive and I could barely focus on anything other than the thought of Lily sitting, rubbing her blanket, wondering where mommy is.

20 minutes later, my phone rings and it was Miss Dorothy..."Vanessa, you may want to come and get Lily. She's not doing terribly, but she has been crying most of the time. It just isn't worth her being this upset if you can come and get her".


I pull into the parking lot and all I can see is my sweet little redhead's swollen, blotchy face in the window, as she was being held by Miss Dorothy, sobbing. It was that type of hyperventilating sobbing where she couldn't catch her breath.


We gathered her things and I apologized over and over, as the ladies told me how normal this was, begging me to try again next week. Lily never clung to me so tight or looked so sad, yet so relieved to see me.

So starts the "letting go"...for both of us. As traumatizing as it was her for her, it was equally traumatizing for me, all said and done. BUT, how amazing that she will not remember it.

And, we will try again next week. This shall prove to be quite a transition, I'm sure.