Words you wish they wouldn’t learn…

Words you wish they wouldn’t learn…

“No!”

“Stop!”

“Move!”

Oh, dear. She’s learned those words. She’s learning quickly how best to use them, too.

The other day, her grandma bought her a Frozen water bottle, but Briana was seemingly having a tough time getting any water out of it. So I picked it up and tried to take a drink.

Her reaction was about what you would expect any nearly-two-year old’s reaction to be. She got angry and reached for the bottle, letting out a stream of unintelligible Briana Speak. I fixed the straw and handed it back. She took it from me, said “No, mommy! No!” And then went about her business. I had to turn away so that she wouldn’t see my laughter.

We were on our way out the door the other day and Briana planted herself in the middle of the doorway, preventing me from opening it. And she just stood there. In my way. As we were running late and frustrations were already running high. So I very rudely said “Briana, honey, will you just move?!” She did move, and I did apologize in the car for being rude.

Later that day, at the aquarium, two boys kept getting in Briana’s way as we were trying to look at the octopus. She darted this way and that, trying to get around them to see, but they were still in her way. So she said, “Move! Move!” Um, oops? I guess that one is my fault. I apologized to the boys’ mother, but she just laughed and said “New word?”

And then there is “stop.”

Yesterday, my darling daughter hit me and told me to “stop” when I touched one of her toys. And then she did it again. Timeout!

It’s so funny, because, as a parent, I am absolutely ecstatic when she learns a new word. Any word, really! But then there are those words that present you with a whole new set of issues. How do you teach the concept of rudeness to a child baby toddler who doesn’t even really understand what feelings or manners are yet?

I’ve started teaching her what manners I can. Feet don’t go on the table, no talking with our mouth full, food goes on our plate not on the floor…I have to repeat it twenty times a meal, but I’m trying. This other thing though, words…toddlers are just going to say stuff! You can’t control what comes out of their mouths!

I have accepted (if not embraced) the fact that my child is going to royally embarrass me at one point or another (or several hundred times). But I still want to try to teach her to be polite…as far as you can teach a two year old to be polite. So we have started talking about gentle words and hurt feelings. It may not work, but it’s a start…you have to start somewhere, right?

I’m just hoping she doesn’t drop any inappropriate four-letter words any time soon. Hubby and I are both much better about curse-words than we used to be, but I admit that we still swear more than we should. My weakest moments are when I am driving and other drivers are not being very smart. Keep your fingers crossed for me…going from having the mouth of a sailor to having the mouth of a trying-really-hard-to-keep-it-clean mom is one tough job.

Anyway, my point is, expanding vocabularies are cause for celebration. Except when they aren’t. ūüôā

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Today, after work, I picked up my daughter from my friend’s house (thank friend, I love you), and buckle her in her car-seat to head home. The drive wasn’t long, and as I unbuckled her once we arrived home, she said “I walk.” As in, she wants to walk inside, not be carried. So I gather up the diaper bag and my purse and her little lunch bag and set her down on the ground.

“Hold my hand please.” She complies. We step up onto the sidewalk, carefully step up a couple of steps, and very carefully step down a few more steps. She immediately lets go of my hand. She knows this is a safe place and that she’s allowed to run ahead to our door. She points at my keys. “Keys!” She points at the door. “Door!” She points at and simultaneously touches the exterior dryer vent and says “No touch!” Well, at least she listens?

I open the door and she immediately runs inside and tries to close the door before I can step over the threshold. “Please let mama inside, Bri.” She’s already tornado danced into the living room and is happily dismantling a pile of books by the fireplace while talking incessantly, some real words, some not. Before I have had time to lock the door, drop my purse and the diaper bag by the front door and put my keys down on the kitchen counter, Briana has spread her book collection across the living room, dumped out her toy box, and run into her bedroom in search of more books.

As I exit the kitchen, she meets me there, book in hand, and drops down to the floor. “Book!” She wants me to read. I sit behind her and pull her into my lap and we go through her “First 100 Words” book 100 times, right there on the hallway floor. She can say many more of them than she used to be able to. Truck. Strawberry. Car. Cup. Bear. Bird. Kitty. Many more. I hug her close. She’s growing up too fast, learning too quickly.

Suddenly, she is tired of the book. She flies away. “Food! Yum. Food? Cracker. Cracker. Milk. Food.” Dinner time.

I decide to give her a no-cook dinner, simple and no-fuss, since it’s so hot outside and she won’t eat much of it anyway. I put her in her booster seat and give her yogurt, and am shocked when she says “Yogurt! Yum!” Another word I didn’t know she knew. She takes three bites of yogurt while I’m cutting up her strawberries and grapes. Then she dips her hand in it and puts a glob of it on the back of her head and rubs it in. Good thing it’s hair wash day anyway.

She gobbles down her dinner and then demands to be let down. “Down. Out. Down. Out. All gone!” I release her from her booster chair prison, and she tries to turn on the television. I start her bath, and wrangle her into her room to get her undressed. I help her stand up and say “Bath time, Bri. You’d better run!” She runs, laughing and naked, into the bathroom while I chase her saying “Run run run! Bath time!” It’s one of her favorite games, being chased to the bath.

She even has books in her bath, “bath books” that are made out of a plastic material. She looks at her books while I wash the yogurt glob out of her hair. She giggles and kicks her feet and says “tickles” when I wash her toes.

I get her dressed in her pajamas, comb her hair, brush her teeth. She sits down and plays with her castle, then reads a couple of books. I watch her growing before my very eyes, and choke back tears. Silly me.

We read her Frozen book before bed. It’s actually two books, one from Anna’s perspective, one from Elsa’s. She loves it. She cries when I put it away and tell her it’s bedtime, but when I kiss her face and tell her to get into bed, she gathers up her blanket and lays down on her pillow, reaches up her arms for a hug. “I love you baby Bri.” “‘Uv oo mama.” My heart melts. I kiss her forehead and tell her “Sleep good, baby. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I walk out of her room and shut the door. I am greeted by a mess. My purse and the diaper bag have been dumped out by the front door where I left them sitting, contents strewn halfway down the hallway. My shoes are kicked off by the kitchen, her sandals are in the middle of the hallway. There are toys on the kitchen floor, toys in the hallway, toys on the couch and on the floor in the living room. Her books are everywhere. Her clothes from earlier are in the dining room, where she apparently put them after I got her out of her bath. Her dinner is still on the table, and under the table, and on the chair. There is water all over the floor in the bathroom, and her toothbrush is sitting by the sink, not yet rinsed.

Today was long, and Bri was a bundle of energy when we got home, while I was exhausted and ready to fall asleep where I stood. I played with her anyway, let her makes messes, laughed with her, delighted over every new word that came out of her mouth, just drank all of her in, enjoyed spending time with her. This is a typical “I worked until 4:30 and got home at 5:15” day. That’s not always my schedule, but when it is, this is usually about the way we spend our hour and 45 minutes before bedtime. We make messes. I run my eyes over all of it. I’m tired. I don’t feel like cleaning. I sigh.

And then I spot a picture on the mantle above the fireplace. Me, in a hospital bed, in a hospital gown, holding a precious newborn bundle in my arms. My dad, leaning over me, kissing my  head. Kissing his baby. His grown up, having-her-own-baby baby.

I straighten up the living room with a sad smile. Yesterday, she was born. Today, she’s a toddler. Tomorrow, she’ll be grown and gone.

Misty Eyed Mama

Through a Stranger’s Eyes

Through a Stranger’s Eyes

The last time that I blogged, I mentioned my depression and my husband’s bipolar disorder, and my worry over being an inadequate mother because of my mental illness. (That’s what depression is folks – an illness.) I read that blog over about 10 times, bawling my eyes out nine of those times and just feeling terrible about myself and terribly worried for my daughter. But the 10th time I read it, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to fix it. And I decided the first step to fixing it was to evaluate how I parent through a strangers eyes.¬†

This is difficult. It’s really difficult to step back from your own life and look at how you parent with the eye of a stranger. To look at your own parenting the way you look at a friend’s parenting or someone you pass at the grocery store. It’s near impossible, really, but I did my best.

Here’s what I learned.

1) First and foremost: I love my daughter, and I surround my daughter with people who love her. 

2) I make sure she knows that she is loved. There is a difference between loving someone and that someone knowing that they are loved. I make sure that Briana understands (as much as a not-yet-two-year old can understand) that she is very precious to me and to her daddy and to the plethora of other people who care for her. This child feels loved.

3) I feed her, clothe her, keep her clean, comb her hair, and take care of all of her physical needs. I do not neglect her.

4) I play with her. Not every day. No one is perfect, and there are days when my depression has me turning on¬†Frozen to keep her busy while I sit on the couch and scroll through my Facebook feed, and there are days when she wants to play and I just can’t muster up the energy. But I try. And most of the time when she is insisting we play, she mostly just wants attention from me in some way which brings me to number 5.

5) I pay attention to her. Even if all I am doing is talking to her or watching her play while I sit out or she is watching a movie, I am paying attention to her, watching her cues, making sure she doesn’t need anything.¬†I listen to her, even when all she is doing is babbling. I try to understand the words she is using and let her know that it’s important to me to understand.

6) I read to her. A lot. 

7) I value her as a person. Not just a mini-me who is fun to dress in cute¬†clothes, but as a little person who has feelings and opinions and moods. I don’t laugh at her when she’s upset about something that seems silly to me, because obviously it isn’t silly to her. I used to hate it as a child when I would be totally devastated about something and an adult would laugh at my misery or embarrassment or fear. Were some of my miseries, embarrassments, and fears silly? Sure. But everyone deserves to feel like their feelings matter, even if that person isn’t even two yet. When she is crying and upset, even if she is upset because I took something away or told her no, she comes to me for comfort. She might be yelling at me while she does it, but she knows mama’s arms are always open.¬†

8) I need to put my phone down. And in the last week or so, I have been. I’ve been leaving it on the kitchen table instead of keeping it on my person every second of the day. Putting it down and engaging her while she eats her food. Putting it down and playing with her castle with her. I’ve noticed her noticing this. The first few times I left it on the table, she climbed up on a dining room chair, picked up my phone, climbed down, and brought it to me. “Mama,” she would say firmly, and put it in my hand. And I would go put it on the table and sit on the floor to play with her, and her whole face would light up. That made me both incredibly happy and incredibly sad, and I will continue to make more of an effort to be present for her without my phone attached to my hand.

9) I am too hard on myself. I’m working on it.

10) I need to be a better housekeeper. I know, I know, that pile of laundry will still be there tomorrow, and she’s getting older every day and won’t care about the laundry or remember the dishes being undone…but I will. And even if my apartment doesn’t look perfect every second, I can at least be less lazy about wiping down the table after she eats and doing the dishes every day, even if I don’t do them until she is in bed. We’ve started cleaning up her toys together before her bedtime at night, and that makes a huge difference. I’m including this in parenting because it’s a parents responsibility to provide a safe and clean environment for their kids, and to teach them how to clean. Setting good examples is the easiest way to do this, no?

11) I try to teach her while we play. I sing silly songs about colors and shapes, and I sing the Alphabet Song and count everything in sight. She loves reading counting books with me. That’s a good thing, right?

12)¬†I do the very best that I can. And that’s all anyone can do.

Obviously, this isn’t a complete list. There are things I need to improve on as a parent. But these are the big things I thought of when I was trying to honestly evaluate my parenting. These are the important things, right?¬†

Becoming a mother has taught me to focus on the happy memories, cherish the present, and hold off the future as long as I possibly can…because tomorrow my daughter will be a day older, a day smarter, a day closer to college, to marriage, to her own firstborn. I learn. I love. I laugh. I cry. I get incredibly proud, cheer her on, step back and let her figure it out on her own, swoop in and rescue her when she can’t…I protect her. I follow my instincts and listen to my gut. I push when she needs pushing and shelter her when she needs comfort. I feed her and keep her clean and let her know as often as I can in every way imaginable that she is LOVED. I let others love her. I let her love other people. I surround her with as much love as I can.

This blog started out as something completely different, but sometimes you can’t make your brain do what you want it to when another idea is shouting at you and taking over your fingertips while you type. I promise I will try to get an entertaining blog about Bri up soon!

 

Goodnight from a Good Mama

 

To any other depressed moms (or dads) out there, or any parents with any other kind of mental disorder or struggle: remember, your disease doesn’t define you as a parent,¬†or as a person. It’s only one tiny part of the person that you are. Don’t get stuck in a self-fulfilling cycle of doubt like I did. And always reach out for help if you need it!

 

 

 

I can’t make her laugh when I’m crying.

I can’t make her laugh when I’m crying.

There are days I feel like a failure. Days where I am completely overwhelmed by life, and the thought of even getting out of bed makes me cry, literally cry, in exhaustion. Being a wife to someone who has Bipolar 2 is exhausting, mentally and physically. Just being a wife and a mother is exhausting, but add in my own depression and everything else, and life is really hard.

I have had people say “Just be thankful it’s not <insert some sort of terrible illness such as cancer or some other physical illness>.” Okay, yes, I’m grateful my husband isn’t dying. But you know what, depression and Bipolar 2, they aren’t light and easy burdens to carry. And, as Robin WIlliams absolutely devastating suicide proves, they can kill.

Being a mother who is depressed is difficult. I worry about what it’s doing to my daughter. I try to play with her and read her stories and be there for her every second. But there are a lot of days where I know I am failing her, failing to reach beyond the smiling mask I have put on my face for her and really¬†be there for her, mentally as well as physically. There are days where the only words I feel like I say to her are negative. (Don’t do that, don’t touch that, stay away from the stove, get out of the kitchen, don’t climb on the couch, get out of the garbage, don’t touch, don’t touch, don’t touch.) There are days where my temper is too short, where I have no patience with her beautiful toddler antics, days where I am so afraid that I will say something cutting and mean that I just don’t speak.

I love this little girl so much that it hurts, a good hurt. But then, I am carrying all of these other hurts, the depression and my husband¬†being sick, and all of the worry that comes along with those things, and the insane and all encompassing loneliness that comes with being depressed, no matter how many friends you have…and I fail her. I can’t make her laugh when I’m crying. I can’t dance with her when it hurts to move.¬†

People who have never been depressed don’t seem to understand that it isn’t “all in our head” and we can’t “just get over it.” It’s physical as well as mental. I’m sore. I hurt. I’m tired. My body drags. I’m exhausted but can’t sleep, I sleep but not well, I wake up feeling as if I haven’t slept in weeks.

People judge you. It’s not all verbal. You see it in the slight change in expression when you try to talk about it, a physical pulling away when they realize it, the twitch of an eyebrow, the crossing of arms. Depression is shameful. Being bipolar is frightening. They don’t know how to react, but sometimes their forced non-reaction is worse than an honest “I don’t know what to say” or “I don’t understand.”

Depression is not shameful. It isn’t something to hide. It’s not something to speak of quietly in corners and stop talking about when someone else enters the room. Depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD…they need to be talked about. Loudly. Insistently. The stigma of mental disease needs to be removed so that more people seek the help that they need.¬†

You don’t judge people with cancer, do you? You don’t shame people who have a blood disorder? You don’t make fun of people who are sick?

DEPRESSION IS REAL. IT IS A DISEASE. IT KILLS PEOPLE.

I’m not sure where this blog is going. I really just wanted to write about how being a depressed mother, married to a bipolar husband, is difficult and overwhelming. And I feel as if I’m dropping the ball. I don’t feel as if I am being a good mother to my daughter, and I seriously worry that my depression and my husband’s bipolar disorder are hindering her development.¬†

I want to be a good mom. I want to be there for her in every way she needs me to be. That’s why I’m still here, still fighting. I’ll never give up.

How many of my readers have ever experienced depression? Been suicidal? Sought help? If any of you are depressed and haven’t sought help, please, please, please…get help. There are so many resources and places you can find help. If you think someone you know is depressed and/or suicidal, don’t wait for someone else to help them…save their life.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 

https://www.save.org/index.cfm?&r=1&CFID=13568763&CFTOKEN=15db3575b47524a4-2785210E-C29E-8C0B-08065BBB4779251F

http://griefnet.org/resources/suicide.html

 

Google also has pages and pages and pages of information and links to help, and there is always the national hotline, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).