Success

Success

Sometimes, I let life get to me. The struggle of keeping my head above water on days when my PTSD and PPD make just getting out of bed hard, and I have two little people who need me to do nearly everything for them. And it’s not just the struggle to get up and take care of them, but the struggle to be present for them in the way they deserve.

Today, there was a big mix of failures and successes. I am learning that just because I failed at some parts of the day does not mean the whole day was a waste, or that I’m a failure. I’m learning, slowly, to move past the rough moments and enjoy the good ones, even on the days when there are more rough moments than good.

If you had asked me a month ago if I succeeded or failed at a day like today, I would have said, without hesitation, that I failed. I raised my voice more than once. I lost patience many times. There were timeouts and there were a couple yelling matches with my three year old when I forgot to be the adult.

But I also fed the kids three real meals and two non-packaged snacks today. And we had a mini-dance party in my room after I changed the baby’s diaper. Briana and I spent twenty minutes looking at a Mickey Mouse book that is similar to a “Where’s Waldo” book…a find it sort of book, and the look on her face the first time she found something in the sea of objects on the page without my help was pure magic. We used straws for magic wands and had a “magic fight” that mostly involved a lot of giggling and saying “hex, hex, unhex!” Bri went through three outfits today before settling on the perfect dress. The baby shared her graham cracker with me, and giggled like crazy with every bite I took.

I used to feel like all the moments I stumbled as a parent far outweighed the moments when I got it right. But at the end of the day, after I rock my snugly, sleepy, happy 1 year old baby to sleep and get her settled into her crib, and walk across the apartment to my 3 and a half year old’s room to say goodnight, she doesn’t want to talk about the moments we slipped up. She wants to snuggle up to me while I play a song for her on my phone and we sing about taking on the world. She wants me to read her a story and give her a kiss and “Please, Mommy, lay with me just a little bit longer? I need your attention. Your attention makes me happy. How about we read a story?”

Kids are great at moving past the negative and holding onto the good stuff. Somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to do that. My kids are reminding me how. Every day.

Something happened at my nephew’s birthday party on Sunday with Briana that keeps making me smile, because it shows me that, even though I may forget how to “bounce back” myself sometimes, I’m doing an okay job at teaching her how to handle her emotions in a more healthy and constructive way than I do.

Her cousin got a cool ride-in truck for his birthday, but was a little leery of getting in. So they had Bri jump in…well…she’s three. So of course she didn’t want to jump out! I went over and lifted her up out of the truck and told her it was someone else’s turn and set her down in the dining room. She was facing away from me, so I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell from my mom’s face that it was a sad one, and before I could get her turned around to talk to her, she had taken off for her cousin’s room.

I followed her and found her face down on the floor, hands covering her little eyes, crying. I sat down next to her and scooped her into my lap and she put her head on my shoulder and I asked her to tell me what was wrong. Between big sobs, she said that she wanted the truck, and she was sad that it wasn’t her turn. She was sad that it wasn’t her birthday.

I reminded her of her own birthday party, when she got lots of presents, and asked her how she would have felt if someone took one of her presents and wouldn’t let her have a turn. Her crying got quieter, and she said “I wouldn’t like that. And that’s his truck, huh? And I had a turn and now it’s his turn?” I agreed with her. She still sounded pretty teary, but she wiped her eyes and said in a trembling sort of voice, “Mommy, will you just play with me for a minute? I feel sad.”

So we sat there on the floor and played with some of her cousin’s toys, for maybe three minutes. She jabbered at me about this toy and that toy, and how they were her cousin’s toys but we could take a turn since he wasn’t using them. And then she popped to her feet and said “I feel a little better now. Thanks, Mommy.” And just like that, the rough moment was a distant memory, and she was ready to fly off and play with her cousins again, while I trailed along after her down the hall.

My three year old is better at moving past things than I am…my kids are going to teach me through me teaching them. How crazy is that? Life is crazy. But life is also good. And today, I succeeded at life.

One step, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. And each success matters, and the moments I mess up don’t take away from the moments I get it right.

I’m learning. Slower than my three year old maybe, but I’m learning.

 

 

Warning: Melodrama Ahead

Warning: Melodrama Ahead

 

This is a venting blog. You’ve been warned…

My insomnia is worse than it has been in years, and I am averaging three hours of uninterrupted sleep on a good night. I am not a person who functions well on three hours of sleep. Or five hours of sleep. Eight hours of sleep MIGHT be enough, with coffee. I’ve just always been a person who needs a lot of sleep to feel rested. I don’t know why.

Life has been stressful. The freelance editing I’ve been doing to try to help out financially is great, but in between jobs it’s not helpful. And finding new clients is difficult, because a lot of the people I know already have editors, and the ones who don’t aren’t ready for an editor yet. Our lease is almost up at our apartment, and they are raising the rent to a ridiculous amount, so we need to find a new place to live, which means moving expenses and packing and change for our three year old, which means extra stress for her which means extra stress for us.

I haven’t been able to focus on anything lately. Cleaning and even cooking feel really overwhelming. I lose track of what people are saying when they are halfway through a sentence, and it’s not because I am trying to be rude or space out, it’s just that focusing on a story long enough to get to the end feels impossible. I find myself nodding and saying “yeah” a lot, when I have no clue what we are talking about anymore.

The baby is going through a stage where she doesn’t ever want me to put her down, walk more than a foot away from her, hand her to anyone else (even her dad), or do anything without her. I always have her on my hip or in the Ergo carrier, bouncing on my lap or sleeping in my arms. On the one hand, I love the snuggles, and it’s nice to feel that needed. On the other hand, I feel like I am going to lose my mind if I don’t get some time in the day where I don’t have a child attached to me. Bri went through a clingy stage, but she would still spend time with her daddy or grandparents without complaint. In fact, I remember being jealous sometimes of the big smiles and laughs that her daddy would get. Chelsea is different. She wants me ALL. THE. TIME. And it’s absolutely exhausting. It’s been going on for weeks now. She’s always been clingier than Briana, but now it’s at a whole different level.

Add into the mix that Briana has been testing boundaries lately. Acting out. Pushing all of my buttons.

I know she just wants attention, and I try really hard to remember that. When I finally get the baby down for a nap and Bri immediately starts tugging on me and jumping on me and demanding hugs and demanding to twirl and demanding that I dance with her, I try really hard to remember that she doesn’t understand personal space. That she doesn’t understand that sometimes people just feel touched out. And I try really hard to give her those hugs and dance with her and let her climb all over me. But sometimes I just have to tell her no, and when she gets upset and jumps on me anyway and I say no again, she gets angry, and when she gets angry at me, I get angry at her for not understanding. I get angry at her for not giving me five minutes in the day where I don’t have a small person pulling on me. And then I get angry at myself for getting angry.

And then there are the bedtime battles. Briana has not ever given me so much trouble at bedtime. She goes to bed at 8:00, and then it immediately starts. We hear “I need to go potty” six times an hour. After each trip to the bathroom, we have a battle about her wanting a snack or asking for water. If we say no, she starts screaming that she needs to go potty again. I am at a loss. I don’t want to tell her no, that she can’t go to the bathroom. I feel like that’s not right. But at the same time, I KNOW she doesn’t need to go six times an hour. And the snacks…ugh. I tell her no most of the time, but I hate hearing her scream and cry. So even when I say no, I end up going in to try to calm her down, which only adds to the asking for snacks or telling me to stay with her. I know she wants extra one-on-one time with us, but the baby doesn’t go to sleep until 10:00 (at the earliest), and since the baby doesn’t want anyone but me right now, I have to listen to her screaming the entire time I’m trying to spend time with Bri.

Last night, we put her to bed at 7:45. She was awake until 12:30. She doesn’t nap anymore. She’s up at 9:30 every morning. I’ve tried getting her up earlier, and it actually seems to make the problem worse. If I wake her at 7:00, all I get is a really angry, tired kid all day, and she still doesn’t go to sleep at night, and by bedtime we have an over-tired, wired, pissed off kid. We have a set bedtime routine (reading and lullabies and snuggles before lights out) and she doesn’t eat sugar, other than the occasional cup of juice or treat. We don’t give her stuff with artificial flavoring or anything like that. On the rare occasion that she takes a nap during the day, we don’t let her sleep longer than an hour.

I don’t believe in letting kids scream and cry. I don’t care if they’re three months old or four years old or ten. If they’re crying, they need something. (And I’m not talking about fakey crying, like “boo hoo I don’t want to go to bed so I’m going to pretend to cry” crying, I’m talking about real tears, real distress.) That’s just not the way I choose to parent. I just…I’m running out of ideas.

Maybe if I can manage to give her more attention during the day, bedtime won’t be so difficult. I just don’t know how to do that when I have Miss Superglue Baby needing me all day long. I am so emotionally exhausted. I am so physically drained.

There’s so much stuff going on right now, and I feel pulled in a thousand different directions nearly every second of the day. Laundry and dishes pile up, the Christmas decorations still need to be put away, and I am drowning in toys and blocks and kids books. There are bills to be sorted out and debts to pay and groceries to buy and floors that haven’t been swept or vacuumed in an embarrassing amount of time. My neighbors probably think I’m a psycho with as much yelling as I’ve been doing lately, and I just feel…I feel like a complete failure in almost every aspect of my life.

So there. That’s my melodramatic woe-is-me blog for the day. I’ll come back and actually write about the children another day. When I have time, and there’s not a baby sleeping on my shoulder.

 

Worn Out Mama

When did this become okay?

When did this become okay?

My daughter has decided that hitting, kicking, scratching, and pinching are okay.

Aside from the obvious problems (it hurts, it’s not okay, it makes me angry, and it really tests my patience), I would really like to know where she learned to do it!

She doesn’t go to daycare. My husband and I do not hit her (or each other, for that matter). The only kind of physical punishment this kid has ever seen is getting tapped firmly on the hand if she does something dangerous (like try to open the oven or turn on the heater or try to stick her fingers in the fan) along with a stern “no!” She doesn’t watch television. She is rarely around other children, and when she is, she’s not getting pushed around or hitting any kids.

She doesn’t really hit my husband either. It’s just her mama who gets the brunt of her fury. Today, in the space of an hour, she hit me in the face, tried to scratch my face, grabbed my arm with her fingers clawed so her nails dug in and squeezed with this determined and very angry look on her face, kicked me when I tried to change her diaper, and head butted me. Though I think the head butting was an accident, it came after a long line of not accidents, and it caught me right in my mouth and hurt worse than any of the other stuff.

I’m at a loss. Disciplining her when she is still so little is tough. I tell her no, and if she hits, I take her hands in mine and (after saying no firmly), show her “gentle touch” by helping her touch my face softly. She likes that, and she copies me with her free hand. And she might stop hitting for a while after I show her that, but she starts up again eventually.

Is it just a phase? I don’t understand why she hits me and not her dad. And she pinched my mother-in-law a couple weeks ago, but as far as I know, other than that, it’s only me.

I mean, most of the time she doesn’t do that. But when she gets tired or angry, she does. I just can’t understand it.

I wish someone had warned me that the terrible twos started just after your baby turned one, and got worse as you neared the 18 month mark. I could have prepared myself better.

If anyone has any gentle suggestions for teaching her that hitting isn’t okay, I would love to hear them. I’m getting sore from all her jabs.

Beat Up Mommy

First Steps

First Steps

My daughter took her first solo steps today. I had said just yesterday that I was sure she would walk before the end of the year, and now she has. Three steps from a chair to me, and I am so happy and proud of her. I know it’s not a lot of steps, but she did it all on her own, with her arms stretched toward me and a smile on her beautiful face.

I don’t think she understood why I grabbed her up and danced around the room with her while saying in a sing song voice “you did it you did it you did it” or why my eyes were full of happy tears, or why I couldn’t stop kissing her face…but she smiled and laughed and clapped and said “Mama! Hi, mama!”

D didn’t get to see it, which made me a little sad, but we called him with FaceTime on my iPhone, and he was so happy to hear it. He’s been miserably sick the last few days, so hearing happy news was good for him, it brought a big smile.

I was hoping B would walk to D when he got home, but it was nap time and she wasn’t interested. Oh, well. He will get to see her take wobbly steps toward him while she grins and reaches for daddy soon enough.

I was so afraid I would miss these steps, this milestone in particular was important to me and I was afraid I would be at work. I am so happy I saw her walk for the first time, that I was there and didn’t have to hear about it from someone else. I just wish D had been home, too.

One Happy Mama

Birthdays, Portraits, And Parties

Birthdays, Portraits, And Parties

I sat down the other day and sorted through all of the pictures of B from the last year. It’s amazing how much she has grown and changed since she was born, how much she has learned, and all of the skills she has mastered. It took quite a while to finish sorting through everything that was dated…I’m still working on sorting through forty or so pictures that are somehow undated in my files. My goal is to be more organized going forward so that it won’t be such a monumental task when I sit down to sort through stuff.

Since our income has been so limited for one reason or another since B was born (first my maternity leave, then me quitting my job to stay home longer, then – after I went back to work – D being on medical leave) I haven’t been able to afford to have any pictures printed up. I think things will be looking up soon, though, so I wanted everything organized for the day that I can finally start working on my scrap books and photo albums.

We also had some family photos taken two days after she turned one, and I think they turned out really well.

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There are a couple of bloopers in there, but overall, I’m very happy with the pictures. We’ll definitely be returning there in the future! We were lucky to have a couple gift cards that we were able to use to pay for the pictures.

B had her one year check-up just a couple hours after the pictures. Our girl now weighs 19lbs 14.5oz and is 29.84″ long. That’s the 52nd percentile for weight and the 72nd percentile for height. Our regular pediatrician wasn’t in, but the ARNP we saw instead was quite impressed with B. She said “She looks beautiful and her growth chart curves are right on track. You’re doing a great job with her!” Phew! It’s always nice to get a professional “good job.” 🙂

B’s party on Saturday was…Interesting? I felt like it was a disaster. Although the cupcakes were cute!

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I had booked a banquet room at Alfy’s Pizza because I didn’t want to impose on anyone and do it at someone’s house. I booked a room with a capacity for 50 people since we had invited a lot of family and some family friends and friends with kids. The people at Alfy’s were lazy and hadn’t cleaned the room that we were supposed to be in, however, so they stuck us in a room that had a 30 person capacity. I was ten minutes late to the party with the birthday girl in tow (how stylin’ am I, showing up late to our party?) due to multiple delays that had occurred throughout the day (including B absolutely refusing to take her afternoon nap) and my stress level was already maxed out. When I figured out they had us in the wrong room, I tried to talk to them about it, but they were unhelpful and uncooperative, and by that time everyone had sort of settled into the smaller room, so I decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

Have I mentioned I’m claustrophobic?

Anyway, I had planned on getting there twenty minutes early to decorate, but I didn’t, so I wasn’t happy with the way the decorations turned out, and because I was feeling so frazzled when I got there, I was just not doing well with all of the people crowded into that tiny little room. I think we were 10 over capacity. I was trying to just focus on B and opening presents and being smiley for pictures, and looking back at the pictures, I think I did okay pretending I wasn’t on the verge of freaking the heck out. 🙂

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*Note the empty look of the room? This was before everyone arrived…Also, I know the banner’s “Y” is hanging down funny…my brother and a friend put it up, and I thought it was kind of cute in a sad sort of way, so I didn’t nitpick.*

I was really surprised by how well B did with the crowd and everyone wanting to say hello and getting passed around a bit. She sat on the table by my chair while I opened her presents for her, and even showed a little bit of interest (at least in the paper). She looked stinking adorable in her Minnie Mouse costume with a 1st Birthday Girl sash, and even though in some of the pictures she looks really tired (because remember she refused her nap), she didn’t have any meltdowns, and she really enjoyed her smash cake…or at least the frosting. 🙂

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*The Smash Cake. It’s an applesauce cake with half the amount of sugar called for, and homemade cream cheese frosting, also with half the amount of sugar called for (I think my mother in law added something to thicken it a bit?)

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So I suppose it wasn’t a complete disaster, it just felt like it didn’t go the way I had imagined it would go. Practice makes perfect? Next time I’ll get there half an hour early, and I won’t back down if we aren’t given the room that I booked! And I probably won’t do it at Alfy’s again…I’m actually going to write a letter, because I was most displeased with the service we received. I think being stuck in the smaller room flustered me so much that I wasn’t able to relax and enjoy myself…as much as one can enjoy a kids party. As my aunt said “Kids birthday parties suck.” Hehehe…For me it was more the preparation that had me stressed out.

But anyway!

I’m rambling on again. I’ve got more to write, but I need to head to bed. Hopefully you enjoyed the pictures. I’m too tired to share more right now. 🙂