Tag Archives: Parenting

Maybe/maybe not

I thought Jake was just plain excited about kindergarten. But I should have known his wheels were turning.

I pulled the mail out of the mailbox the other day and he asked if there was anything special in there for him. Lo and behold my five-year old has ESP. I handed him an envelope addressed to us from his school and told him we could open it once we got in the house. Of course he couldn’t wait, and mid-way up the walkway, he was tearing into the envelope that housed his teacher assignment, bus badge, and list of school supplies for kindergarten. That was it. It’s official – he’s going to kindergarten.

I read him the letter and the list of school supplies. “Jake, isn’t that great? We can go shopping and get you what you need.”

“Mom, can I watch a movie now?”

“Uh, sure, Jake.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this sudden bit of indifference. But I let it go, knowing that something was brewing in his head.

Fast forward to two days later. Jake and I were headed to the grocery store, just the two of us. I struck up the old kindergarten conversation.

“Jake, I was thinking just you and I will go out and buy you school supplies. We also need to get you new sneakers and some new pants and shirts. Oh, and PJs, because you seemed to have outgrown all your PJs.”

“Mama, I get NEW PJs??? Really??? Do they have PJ day a lot at school?”

“Um, no Jake. Maybe once or twice. But you need PJs and I figured we’d be out shopping…”

“Oh, ok, mom.”

I looked back and saw him peering out his window, deep in thought. I was torn between letting it go and trying to help him solve whatever was stewing in his head. So we went over the list of things for school, laughing at the fact that he had to bring baby wipes in on the first day. He thought that was pretty funny.

We marveled at buying four packs of crayons, and markers, and colored pencils. We surmised that you must do a lot of writing at school.

We wondered why we didn’t have to buy any paper. Would they have to write on the walls, their hands, their shoes? Hmmm…there were just so many things about kindergarten that we didn’t know.

Then I talked about all the new experiences – gym, music, art, cafeteria, playground, and friends. Yes, new friends. I mentioned that we’d get to go to school the day before it starts and meet his teacher. I told him we’d find his cubby and that there would be lots of new friends there that day also getting to know their way around. I asked him if he was excited.

“Maybe, mom, maybe not. I don’t know those kids and maybe they won’t be nice.”

It just about broke my heart. But finally, we were at the root cause of this sudden indifference. The mood in the car had gone from excitement and anticipation (and giggles at all we didn’t know about kindergarten) to hesitation and uncertainty. And who could blame him? I’d been feeling the same way myself. Turns out, my little man wasn’t as strong, self-assured and resilient as I’d thought.

No, my sweet little five-year old was feeling a bit off kilter with this big change looming. Absent of a security blanket, he put his thumb in his mouth and covered his eyes with his fingertips, letting me know that he too had feelings of uncertainty.

I know I won’t be able to erase the anxiety on the first day. But I can spend the next few weeks preparing him for the change, reassuring him that he is wonderful and kind and a great kid to be friends with, and reinforce all the positives that come with this change.

And on that first day, we’ll wait for the bus with our brave faces on, give one another a quick hug, and he’ll be on his own to handle this change by himself. A pretty big step for a five-year old, isn’t it?

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Kindergarten Woes

I ask my son about every other day if he’s excited to go to Kindergarten. He is. It doesn’t seem to bother him that the majority of his daycare friends will all be going to a different school. He has three daycare classmates that will be in his kindergarten. He will know three kids. Three.

Kids are so resilient, aren’t they? A new experience, a slight disruption – while it breeds some hesitation, it also breeds excitement and anticipation.

Me, on the other hand, I’m dreading it. We’ve been in a nice cocoon at daycare. I know the moms in his class – which ones I like and which I don’t. I know which kids are the trouble makers and which are the nice quiet ones you want to have over for a Saturday AM playdate. My daycare mom friends and I bonded over shared experiences of bottle feeding, potty training, and preschool learning. My social life with my mom’s group is as comfortable as a warm fleece blanket that just came out of the dryer.

Kindergarten?! A whole new ballgame. No “drop offs” or “pick ups” with other parents. I’ll be shepherding my kid onto a bus where he’ll be off to meet new friends. He’ll come home with stories of kids I have never met. He’ll want to make friends and play with new kids. And I’ll have to let him.

So it’s a new experience for both of us. At orientation night, the discussions were geared toward stay at home moms who were leaving their kids for the first time. Yeah, I lived through that experience when my son was six months. Over five years I’ve watched as he has grown into an independent self thinker, with intellect, empathy, and a passion for learning. I won’t have to worry about him clinging to my leg on the first day of school.

No, I’m certain I’ll be watching teary eyed as he charges forward, bravely accepting the new opportunities and challenges that await him. And in that spirit, I will have to accept my own.

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It’s the little things

Traveling for work is never easy. I miss the kids terribly. I have heard a lot of people who travel for work say they kind of enjoy the break, that they get a good night’s sleep while away, that it’s a break from the realities of being a working parent and juggling everything at home.

Never the case for me. I just miss the kids. So much so that if I’m on the road and can get eight hours of work done on the plane, 4 in my hotel room, and 8 on the way back, I’m happy to work a 16 hour day to be able to pick them up early from daycare on the day I return. Traveling means getting ahead of the work for more quality time when I’m home.

I have found that there is always a little “something” that helps me get through the trip. One time, it was a piece of paper. Yeah, read the post and weep. I still do.

This time, it’s less tangible than a physical object. It’s the memories of my son’s look of wonderment when he walked into his preschool class this morning and saw the kids dressed for their graduation photos (caps and gowns to boot!). It’s him singing me all the songs he learned for his graduation and the memory of his wide eyes as he told me he’d have to stand on a riser (which he’s deathly afraid of, as he keeps asking me how high risers are).

It’s my daughter this morning, being good as gold for drop off, and asking me for one more hug and kiss. It was her holding the sides of my face as I came in for the kiss, securing her hands on my cheeks, giving her the security that mama was going to be there for her.

These are the things I carry with me to get me through these trips. This trip? A quick 48 hours (in addition to working while I travel, I maximize red eyes to get home and not miss an additional red eye). But in those 48 hours, there are two little pumpkins top of mind every minute.

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The Imperfect Mom

I am blessed to have two children with such different personalities. I am blessed to have a son who is hugely energetic, whose imagination is rivaled by no other, and who is truly empathetic. I’m blessed to have a daughter who is wildly spirited, fiercely independent, and loves like there is no tomorrow.

It’s completely fair to say that I love my children differently. Let me make it perfectly clear – it is NOT that I love one more or less than the other – but I love them differently. They are different people, with different needs, who have each brought happiness and joy into my life in different ways.

The other day we were all in the car, with my husband driving, heading home from a birthday party. I looked back and smiled at Morgan. She returned the smile with her impish little smirk and held out her hand.
As awkward as it was physically, I reached my arm around and held her hand in mine. We both sat there looking at our intertwined hands. I would have given my left arm to know what she was thinking at that moment.

Morgan was my post partum depression baby. Calling her a PPD baby might seem strange, as I know some women’s PPD manifests in a way that makes them feel disconnected from their kids . I thank God everyday that my PPD experience was different.

In fact, it was just the opposite. I needed my kids more than ever. I needed Morgan. I loved her so much I was afraid of failing her. I held on tightly, cared for her, nurtured her. I cuddled her and tried to not let her realize that I was an imperfect mom – that I had flaws and shortcomings that would inevitably affect her in some way or form. I tried not to let her see that splitting time between two kids meant that she’d never have my full attention all the time.

I went through a lot in the first year after her birth. I was overly aware and obsessed with my inability to be a perfect mom. I realized that I was unable to control the life that was happening around me. I lived with the guilt that I could never be the mom to two kids that I was to one.

I received counseling (from both a psychotherapist and a psychologist, mind you) weekly. I had meds. I was on a painful journey of self-realization that required me to come to terms with the fact that I would never be a perfect mother. But all the therapy and meds would only take me so far.

What I needed to get me through it was my Morgan. My sweet and innocent little baby who I desperately tried to shield from the anxiety and fear that lived within me. It didn’t matter to her. She loved me, unconditionally. She needed me more than ever. She didn’t care if I made a mistake, or didn’t shower, or wanted to stay isolated from the world. She just wanted her mama to be there for her. And thankfully, I was. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that my PPD manifested as it did and allowed me to still be the mother my kids needed during that year.  I can’t say I was successful in all roles of my life that year, but I wasn’t about to fail my kids.

I’ve completed my journey wtih PPD. It’s been over a year without meds, no counseling, no issues. Gone are the days of living in anxiety that I was going to fail my kids. I’ve learned to survive, to make it through the day, but more importantly, to be happy and content with the mother I am, not the mother I think I should be.

As we held hands in the car, I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. I could see her wheels churning. I focused my energy in trying to communicate, through the embrace of our hands, what I was thinking at that moment.

“Thank you for blessing me. Thank you for accepting me for the mother I am, even though it’s not always the mother I want to be. Thank you for helping me through my darkest days with your unconditional love. Thank you for needing me. Thank you for being you. My special, endearing, little girl. To you, I will always be thankful.”  

I may never become the mother I want to be. But in their eyes, I know I’m the mom they want me to be.

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Where’d my style go?

It just keeps getting worse. Each and every day. No heels, dresses, or even dress pants. Little makeup, and in fact, I’ve “lost” some of my make up brushes (translation: Morgan played with them and didn’t put them back). My hair hardly ever gets touched with a round brush, and forget about good shampoo and hair products!

It’s like a disease I can’t cure. I fall farther and farther into the momtrap. I’ve finally resolved myself to understanding it’s a lack of time. The less time I have, the lower I prioritize myself.

By now, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know I like to make lists. I haven’t been doing a great job at being accountable to my lists lately, but starting today is better than letting it go. So, I’m going to shred my momdrobe and bring the old me back a bit.

Here’s what I need to do:

– Workout three times a week, minimum. This bullet keeps getting entered into this blog, but hasn’t happened consistently. When I work out, I feel good. It gives me energy, confidence, stature. I just have to do it. A 5 AM wake up call is in order for tomorrow.

– Make and keep a few hair appointments. I have a beautiful shade of Feria (Feria 59) which allows me to color at home and avoid the three-hour salon trip (I just can’t justify not spending that time with my kids), but there is no reason why I can’t make it to the salon every six weeks for a good trim. The last time I went in (January) my stylist looked at my history, and I hadn’t been in since JULY. REALLY? A quick phone call to schedule an appointment is in order tomorrow.

– I need to pick out my clothes, shoes, and accessories at night. No more waiting until the morning. It’s too chaotic, and heaven forbid one of the kids wakes up fifteen minutes early, I’m last in line priority-wise.

– I need to get up a bit earlier. If I’m working out in the morning, that helps. If not, I just need to drag my tushy out of bed twenty minutes earlier.

– I need to organize my closet and drawers. Unpacking suitcases from my last two business trips would be a good start. If you can’t find your clothes, you certainly can’t wear your clothes.

But most of all, I need to make myself a priority on my own list. My kids are loved and well cared for, as is my husband. But maybe loving myself a little bit more will empower me to be happier, more confident, and more balanced. I can only imagine that will benefit my kids and my husband as well.

If you are reading this and are in the same boat, come join me. Maybe we can motivate ourselves together.

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Where do babies come from?

Yep, it’s the question every parent dreads. My son has been obsessed for over a year now with the fact that babies grow in a mommy’s tummy. He’s been known to spout out things that just make you laugh.

“Mama, when I was in your tummy I got really hot. And that’s why I came out. It’s too hot in there”

“Mama, being in your tummy was great. Because I got to drink chocolate milk. You drank it, and then your tummy gave it to me.”

It was all fine and good. Until yesterday.

“Mama, how do babies come out? Your mouth is too small for babies to come out of the tummies and through the mouth”

“Well, Jake, mamas are built special for babies”

“But mama, where do they come out? They can’t come out of your mouth. They can’t”

“Well, Jake, babies come out of a different place on mommies’ bodies”

“Where, mama?”

“They come out below the tummy, Jake”

Clearly, I was doing everything I could to avoid the question. I was so unprepared!

“But mama, there isn’t a hole in your tummy. I’ve seen your tummy and there is no hole there. So where is the hole that babies come from, mama?”

“Well, Jake, babies come out of a hole near the vagina” (Yes, we use anatomically correct terms in our house)

“Oh, geez. Uh, thanks. Eeeewwww.”

Question answered. Case closed. Now I just hope he doesn’t decide to go in and educate the rest of his preschool class.

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To dance or not to dance

I am NOT a stage mom. Every once in a while I get sucked into the train wreck show, Toddlers and Tiaras. I marvel at the lifestyle these toddlers live. Fake nails, spray tans, teased hair, and flippers. I really try not to judge the parents as their daughters are sitting their having their natural nails filed down with a dremel tool so acrylics can be applied, but it’s definitely a life that is so far from my own reality that I don’t profess to understand it.

We’ve had a bit of an issue lately with Morgan and dance. It’s been a multitude of issues that have made me question whether or not this is the right activity for us now:

  • She is the youngest in the class by at least 9 months. This is problematic, because a just-turned-three year old’s attention span is dramatically different than an almost-four year old
  • It’s on Friday evenings, after a full week of daycare and she’s spent. Which then impacts her attention span
  • She has an obsession with public bathrooms since potty training three months ago. So, we have to make an average of four trips to the potty a class (which means she probably loses 10 minutes of the 45 minute class in the bathroom)
  • The teachers tend to forget the dance steps they are teaching, and stop class frequently. To understand why this is an issue, read bullets 1-3.
  • After 30 minutes (remember to subtract the 10 minutes we spent in the bathroom), she decides she’s ready to go

So, we’ve missed the last two classes of dance to see if she just needed a break. And the two before that, she was either on the verge of getting sick, or just getting over being sick, and we left early. Now I’m stuck wondering if I started her to early (2 1/2), if I have her at the wrong dance place (given their inability to engage her as the youngest student), and if I’m wasting my money investing in two more pairs of shoes and three more months of dance before her recital.

Something tells me to try to stick it out. We’ve already paid the $55 for her dance costume, but I’m also a believer of not pushing kids this age. And although she sincerely enjoys her four trips to the bathroom on a Friday night, am I really doing her any favors if she’s that unfocused? It’s not like I have to drag her there – she’s so excited about the idea of going to dance, she just has no desire/focus once we get there.

So, all that said, I’m totally fretting over this decision. It’s not a big one, but it’s important just the same. I don’t want to encourage her to just quit activities mid-stream, but I don’t think at this age it’s going to be habit-forming. I don’t want her to miss out on something she enjoys if this whole lack of focus thing is just situational (newly potty trained and harsh winter of sickness). But I also don’t want to push her into finishing an activity she’s just not into.

I’m hoping next fall we can enroll in the class with some of her good friends from daycare. I think her experience would be much different if her BFF was there with her. But for now, I’m going to see if we can power through the next three months. If she starts acting like a tortured soul, we’re out…

No one ever said being a parent was easy.

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