Thursday, March 31, 2011

Much Needed Connecting

Well yesterday afternoon was wonderful. I was unexpectedly off work a bit early and Boo returned from a night with grandma and grandpa to a house with just mommy and no daycare kiddos. Yes, it was technically nap time. But given that Boo is 3 1/2 and doesn't necessarily need his nap every single day I figured it would be a good day to let it go. So we took advantage of the time to be together.

I asked Boo if he wanted to paint mommy's toenails. His answer was an emphatic "Yes!" So I got out my green shimmery nail polish. I started out dipping it for him so that it wouldn't be too messy. Whatever - he quickly took over with "No mommy. I do it!" So I gave up my need to control the polish and let him take charge. I have to admit that he was oh so careful with the way he dipped the brush and scraped the sides. I was pretty impressed actually. He joyfully painted each toenail and part of each toe for that matter. He was very proud of his work when he was done. Then he asked so sweetly "Will you help me build with trains mommy?"

Let me tell you that it's hard for me to sit with him and build trains. Perhaps this sounds terrible, but the reality is that there's no building involved for me. Every time I put a train track down it's in the "wrong" spot and he must move it. Silly mommy - doesn't know where things should go I guess. So usually after a few tries I give up and sit there. Because what he really means when he says, "Build trains with me mommy" is not as it seems. What he's really saying is "Mommy, can you sit and watch me and bask in my brilliance as I masterfully put all of the pieces in the right spot? Can you just sit with me and give me 100% attention and focus so that I know how special you think I am?" It's amazing what just a bit of time with me "just sitting there" does for his soul.

I ponder this idea as I've been frustrated, overtired, and screamo mom lately. It's the idea that just 15-20 minutes or so of 100% focused time is soothing to both of our souls. So often I pay attention to him while I cook dinner, while I check my facebook, while I read a chapter in whatever book I'm reading...while, while, while! I assure you that he knows the difference. And you know what happens when he's getting 20-30% of my attention he starts becoming hyperactive, destructive, a little on the edge of completely nutso! That in turn activates Screamo Mom and so begins a vicious cycle. So perhaps if I would stop my agenda long enough to "fill his tank" as I've heard in some parenting books, I could then continue with whatever it is I'm trying to do. Now, I hope this isn't coming across badly as though I see spending time with my child as something I'm aversive to or something that's an inconvenience. I adore spending time with my little one, but I think it's easy to get caught up in what I'm doing and think "One more minute. Okay. Almost done. Just a second longer," and on and on until it's been an hour. This has to feel defeating to Boo when he hears "just a minute" and that minute is actually an hour. Perhaps I need to be more okay with stopping in the middle of sending an e-mail, reading a chapter in a book, paying bills, or whatever task that seems like it just "has" to be done in one sitting. There will always be exceptions to this - I don't want to start any kitchen fires in the name of focused attention after all. But I have a feeling there are many more things that would be just fine if left to hang for 15-20 minutes or so while I connected with my little one. What if I made a point of doing this several times throughout my day each and every day? My guess is that some of Boo's more challenging behaviors would decrease. My mood might even level out a little from all of the connecting. Perhaps I should try this as an experiment today. Anyone else want to give it a go with me and see what happens? 100% attention in increments of at least 15-20 minutes each time as often as I think of it or as Boo seems to be requesting this in one way or another. Deep breath - I can try this today!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Respectfully Pregnant

I've recently started reading the book Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids. I'm not very far into the book yet, but I can tell it's going to be a good one with lots of practical help. I hope to do a few in depth posts on the book as I get further into it. In the beginning, there's much talk about meeting your own needs. This is nothing new. In fact, many of the wonderful parenting books that I've read over the last several years have included a section on caring for oneself. I feel like I've done an okay job of this in the past, but feel very much as though I've hit a wall recently.

The title of this post is a bit of irony in that yes, I am pregnant, but I'm not feeling very respectful at the moment. I've reached that point in pregnancy where I'm uncomfortable and not sleeping well. There is something so maddening about getting up 3 or 4 times a night to pee or waking up extremely early and being absolutely unable to fall back asleep. I don't think I've seen the bags leave my eyes for the past few weeks. My hormones seem to be bouncing all over the place and I find myself getting irritated at the most minor of things. And here's the really crazy part - I'm only 27 weeks, just into third trimester. So I have awhile yet to go. And as for my parenting? Well, I feel like I'm living proof that a mother who is not well rested and comfortable is not very capable of being loving and gentle. This makes me sad. I want so much for my little one to have his feelings and opinions respected and not steamrolled. It's as if Invasion of the Body Snatchers has happened in our household and his mother has been replaced by Screamo Mom!

Of course when I'm not pregnant I've had my screamo moments. I mean, I think we all do as we work to become better mothers. But I feel like this has been a constant for the past week or so. It's interesting that I can be so loving and gentle with my daycare kiddos five days a week. But watch out 5:00pm when it's after hours! And of course the last thing I want my kiddo to see is his mommy being loving and patient with his friends, but not with him! Oh man, talk about feeling mommy guilt! Not to mention, the final three months of my pregnancy are the last three months that he's going to get mommy to himself before sharing with a sibling. Double mommy guilt!

I'd love to hear from others who have been through pregnancy with other children to care for. I'm open to all ideas that will help me to preserve my sanity! This is a first for me considering I obviously didn't have any children at home when I was pregnant with Boo. I know that proper nutrition and exercise of course helps. I admit that I caved to an oreo cookie craving earlier this week. So that has probably not helped. Mmm - oreos - I'm salivating already. I have noticed that sugar intake causes me to be moody and irritable.

It seems that this has been more of a venting post than I initially set out for it to be. Please forgive me on that one.

On a more upbeat note, I've been gifted a blogging award. I will post more on that later. There are some requirements to receiving the award as far as giving the same award to other bloggers and my brain has been in such a fog that I'm still trying to sort that part out. So, when I get my brain defogged and get it done, I will post!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Preparing Boo for the Home Birth of his Sibling

Our current plan is for Boo to be present at the birth of his sibling. I found some great information here and thought I would pass it along.

Preparing an Older Sibling for a New Birth

Boo has always been high needs in terms of attention and emotions. He's a very sensitive little soul. So it has been with much consideration that we've decided that the right choice for him is to be at the birth. While I do think he might struggle with seeing mom in pain, I also think that he may feel incredibly left out if he leaves the house and there's all of a sudden a baby when he comes back home. Given his personality, it seems that he might adjust better to being a big sibling if he's a part of his sibling's birth day. We will continue to prep him and discuss birth with him and are of course open to a plan B if he should indicate in one way or another that being at the birth is not best for him.

Sometimes I've wondered if/how he's processing all of this birthing education. Being 3 1/2 and an active little boy he's not exactly prone to long drawn out conversations about his feelings on the matter. The other day we ran into someone that I hadn't seen in a long time at Target and upon being questioned about the fact that he was in fact going to be a big brother, Boo began to tell this person how when baby's big enough, baby will come out of mommy's door. Well, I guess he HAS been listening and comprehending in his own way!

We've been working on creating a bedroom for Boo. I had a frank conversation with T the other night about transitioning Boo to his bedroom and was so relieved to find that we are on the same page. That is, that the bedroom is there and Boo can choose to sleep in it and he can choose to continue to cosleep. The only change is that Boo has his spot on the edge of the bed and he will likely have to give up his spot on the end move to the middle. Little one's cosleeper will be attached to the edge of the bed and I definitely feel that given how Boo rotates and moves in his sleep I'll need to be between him and his baby! Hopefully he will manage that small change okay. Right now he throws a righteous fit if we ask him to sleep in the middle. I'm hoping that he might understand more with a baby there. This could backfire, so I guess we'll just have to play it by ear! I guess maybe the key for us will be to be flexible and creative in the way that we help Boo adjust.

I'm open to any suggestions of those who've been through this process before!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The "Goodness" of a Child

I read this post today and it got me thinking about parenting and the "goodness" of a child. Here's a link to the post that activated my brain cells this morning.

Let's All Try Not to Be Jerks

To summarize, this mama recently had an experience at a store with her little one whereby her poor little guy was upset for some unknown reason and was very unhappy during her shopping excursion. Rather than receiving encouragement and/or sympathy, this mom felt hostility coming from other shoppers. I have to admit that I can't relate to this a ton in that in all of Boo's 3 1/2 years he's only lost it in public once. I do remember getting a few sympathetic looks that time and so I feel fortunate to have experienced that.

But what I have experienced is the opposite extreme. For the most part my child is polite and good-mannered when we're out and about. He does have his whiny moments and all, but nothing outright tantrumy usually. My point here is not what an angel my child can be, but that I often get compliments about how "quiet" he is, how "well-behaved", how "good." And I admit that as much as I'd like to puff up with mothery pride, there's always a part of me that wonders "Well, what if he was loud and kicking and screaming on the floor? What if bright lights and loud noises overstimulated him so much that he lost it each and every time I went into a store? Would this make him any less good?"

I get nervous at church where I have received several such comments on his "goodness". I wonder about how long this will last. Heaven forbid my child have a bad day in front of others. Will he then cease to be good? I have to wonder, what does this say about our culture and the value that is placed on children? A quiet child is a good child. So much for the child with so much spirit and zest for life that sitting still is an impossible feat. Or the child with such incredible depth of emotion and passion that life's daily challenges cause emotional overload and constant melt downs. Do things like this make a child bad?

I feel like this black and white thinking when applied to children is so very damaging. Children pick up on the perceptions of those around them. Will a child who was always seen as "good" grow into perfectionism later in life in order to continue to please those around him? Will a child seen as "bad" make choices that confirm that label later in life? Let's not view chidren as good or bad, but as colorful and wonderful individuals that are worth knowing and respecting. Wouldn't it be wonderful if as a society we could be supportive of the whole child, including the bad days and the meltdowns? What if we could likewise be supportive of frazzled mothers who are trying hard enough to simultaneously hold it together and support their child amidst trying moments? At least in my mind that would be an improvement to society. Thoughts?