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(Part 3/5 in a series on Parenthood.  If you missed parts 1 and 2 you can read about why Parenthood makes me… laugh HERE and why it makes me cry HERE.)

You never know how much you do not know about parenting until you are a parent.  (And news flash, your parents probably had no idea what they were doing either…)  There have been several times I have questioned myself and my parenting ability/style over the past almost two years.

I have questioned how to teach Kaden to obey the word “No” while also teaching him he’s not allowed to tell me “no” even though he hears it 50 times a day.  We have also learned, as a result of this issue, that it’s not fair to ask him a question if the answer is not allowed to be “no.”  For example, “Kaden, do you want to go take a nap?”  Kaden: “No” (sounds like “naooouuuu”)  Me: “Son! Don’t you dare tell me no. You have no idea how lucky you are that you get to take a nap every day you ungrateful little”…. (awkward silence?)  Kidding…  Now we just say, Kaden it’s nap time, which doesn’t require a yes or no answer.  However, it’s hard to resist extending bed time or forcing another bite of dinner down his throat when we tell him to do something and he cocks his head to the side and says, “No thank you Mama” (no tyoo tyoo).  He plays me like a fiddle sometimes.

I have questioned how to raise a loving, well-adjusted child who doesn’t hit others even though when he’s disobedient he gets the occasional age-appropriate spanking.  We do believe that if you “spare the rod, you spoil the child;” however, I do think it’s a bit confusing at this age for him (although he understands not to do whatever warranted the spanking).  These days, Kaden will test the boundaries in this regard every once in a while by tapping me on the leg or some other body part and then watching for my reaction.  As soon as he sees my eyebrows arch, he quickly throws out the “sah-wee mama.”  And then takes out the rest of his aggressions on the dog (which we ignore).  Kidding. Sort of.

I have questioned oh-so-many times whether or not to take my kids to the doctor when they aren’t feeling well.  I know every mother goes through this… how long do you have to wipe a green, snotty nose before the infection has turned into something that needs antibiotics?  How high does the fever have to get before you need to get to the doctor?  How bad does that rash need to look before we go get it looked at?  How many nights in a row do you deal with a child waking up every couple of hours before you attribute it to some medical issue that needs diagnosing other than teething?  But I swear to you… every time (except once) that I have followed my “mother’s intuition” and taken Kaden to the doctor for some major fever, nasty cold, overall pain-in-the-butt demeanor, etc… the findings are: “it’s probably just a viral infection.  Give him motrin or tylenol as needed and lots of TLC for the next 2-4 days. Thanks so much for your co-pay (suckers)!”  And the one time I put up with the runny nose, whining, crappy sleeping, and rash around the mouth that I blamed on the changing weather, a new baby sister coming home from the hospital, daylight savings confusion, and drool from teething… turns out he had a double ear infection, strep throat, and impetigo around his mouth.  Let me just tell you, when that diagnosis came out of the doctor’s mouth I wanted to crawl into a hole with my mother-of-the-year sash and die.

I have questioned how much TV is too much.  If you read about this in parenting books and magazines, they’ll tell you any TV is too much and that your child needs social interaction to learn, not cartoons.  And I get it… I really do.  However, when I’m exhausted and have a baby attached to me or want to drink my cup of coffee in peace or can’t think of any more random games to play or can’t take one more reading of Go Dog Go (the longest, most ridiculous book in the history of kids books- No I DO NOT like your hat!!!!!)… fine, hand me the “mote” and I’ll turn on one of the 50 DVR’ed episodes of “diensteins” (Little Einsteins) or “Supah Why” if you’ll just sit down and be quiet for 20 minutes.  And I may or may not allow this a couple several times a day.  Especially on a rainy, cold day. Some days the TV is the only thing that keeps me from killing somebody, if we’re being totally honest. Which we are, right?

I have also questioned how to parent my child around other children who aren’t being parented in the same ways… for example, how do I teach Kaden it’s never ok to play in the street, if the kid he was playing with is allowed to? How do I teach Kaden he can’t get out of his high chair at dinner if the other kid at our table or some other table is allowed to get up? How do I teach him he has to share without making him be a pushover and letting some other kid repeatedly take toys away from him since the other parent doesn’t seem to be paying attention (or doesn’t seem to think sharing and not stealing things from others is an important lesson to learn).  I know this will only get more challenging as Kaden and Molly get older and their friends have more influence on their lives than Trey and I…

Overall, I’m two years into parenthood… and honestly, on a daily basis I question how I’m doing.  I don’t have a supervisor or boss who evaluates my work or critiques/praises how I’m doing (which I’m not complaining about, but still…).  So much of it is just making split second decisions, following your gut, and choosing your battles…and praying your kid turns out to be a kind, hard-working, contributing member of society and not some lazy, self-centered, drug-addicted chump.  Lord, help me…

(Part 2/5 in a series on Parenthood.  If you missed part 1 you can read about why Parenthood makes me… laugh HERE.)

Over the past almost 2 years, I have cried many, many times.  I blame it on a mix of hormones, exhaustion, and a new well of emotion I think you tap into when you become a Mom; but the tears come easy for many reasons these days.

I’ve cried while driving my car on the freeway with the windows down because I can’t take one. more. minute. of that inconsolably screaming baby in the back seat.  So if you’re gonna scream, so am I.

I’ve cried when it’s the second, ok, third day in a row I haven’t been able to find the time to take a shower and put on an actual outfit.

I’ve cried when Kaden hugs my neck, gives me a “tiss,” and tells me he “wuvs” me of his own accord.

I’ve cried… no, this one was a yell, more than a cry… when Molly had been screaming on the couch forEVER and Kaden was whining through his lunch and started screaming b/c he bit his tongue and all I could do in that moment was stand between the living room and kitchen and yell at the ceiling.  At nothing.  At everything.  At my own lack of patience and presence of mind. And then I cried, really cried, out to God begging for forgiveness for the way I just yelled at my children and pleading with Him for the strength and wisdom to do better by them.

I’ve cried about the blessing it is that Kaden and Molly get to grow up near all four of their grandparents.  I grew up seeing my grandparents for a week or so in the summer and every once in a while for Christmas or Thanksgiving.  So when I turn the corner onto the street my parents neighborhood is on and Kaden yells out “Dampa’s house!!!!!” because he knows he’s almost there and can watch “gawf” with Dampa, I can’t help but shed a tear of gratitude and joy that Nama and Dampa and Nana and Pops are so close by and wonderful.

I’ve cried watching the way Trey loves our kids.  Sometimes all it takes is a shared look after one of them does something funny, sweet, ornery, etc. and the tenderness I can see in his eyes towards his children is enough to make any girl melt into a puddle of tears.  “No, Trey.  I am not crying.  There is something in my eye. Do you know how much dust is in this house!?”  (And p.s…. tenderness can be very manly.)

I’ve cried at the look shared between a little boy and his baby sister as he holds her (sort of…) on the couch one of 17 times in a given day.  Because I can’t resist “mama, a hold moll a sec??”

See above 🙂

I’ve cried when allowing myself to worry about what could happen to one of them.  Injuries.  Illness. Freak Accidents.  Death.  The thought of losing one of my kids… just the thought of living the rest of my life without one of them makes me weep.

I’ve cried when nap time is cut incredibly short because of construction across the street, or a bad dream, or a snotty nose… and the blissful quiet of the afternoon is a big fat goner.

I’ve cried time and again at the thought that the love I feel towards Kaden and Molly, the “I’d do anything, including die for you” kind of love, is NOTHING compared to how much the God of the Universe loves me and wants me to know and love Him back.

I’ve cried listening to Kaden muddle through the words of “Jesus Loves Me” because what he doesn’t know yet is that Jesus really does love him.  So much so that He did die for him.  And I will do everything in my power to ensure that one day he and Molly will sing “Jesus Loves Me” and believe every word to the very core of their beings.

I mean... come on!

Part 1/5 in a series on Parenthood.

If you aren’t watching Parenthood on Tuesday nights, you are either crazy or don’t know what you’re missing.  I often wish I was part of the Braverman family (even though I’m already blessed to be a part of two awesome families). But seriously, every week that show makes me laugh, cry, question my parenting, think about what the future holds with my children, and wish there were just a few more minutes of the show to enjoy.  Today I got to thinking, you know, that’s kind of like parenthood in reality.  So in the interest of forcing myself to write more, reflecting on the joys and pains of my “job” as a parent, and allowing myself to get all sentimental on you and record some memories for posterity’s sake…. here’s part one of a mini-series on Parenthood. Stay tuned for parts 2-5 throughout the week… if today doesn’t bore you to tears.  😉

Parenthood makes me laugh.

Scratch that, Kaden and Molly make me laugh.  Every day.  I get to laugh at the way he dances with only one side of his body so he ends up turning in circles b/c the need to wave that right arm through the air and stomp that right foot to the music can not be ignored and propels him around and around and around.  And the boy is not content to dance unless he has an audience so the half-bodied dancing commences after I give in to the 5th “wook mama!” and humor him by watching and offering up a half-hearted “awesome buddy.”  I laugh when Molly sneezes and farts at the same time and then smiles at me like she knows what she just did was hilarious. However, I do not laugh when said fart was actually a shart that shot up her back and now it’s outfit change #3 for the day.  I can’t help but laugh when Molly giggles at me and all I can think is, “holy cow your cheeks are huge.”  And then I laugh harder when I realize I said it out loud b/c Kaden is now saying “holy tao moll” on repeat.

I’m forced to laugh whenever Kaden sneak attacks me on the floor with “a tickle mama” and shakes his fingers near my body without ever actually touching, nor tickling me.  And then proceeds to “a tickle” everyone in the room in turn, including Millie.  I laugh with an eye roll thrown in when I tell Kaden to whisper as we go by Molly’s room during nap time and he repeats “whisper” in a soft voice, followed by “a Moll a seep!” at about 100 decibels.  I try so hard not to, but it’s all I can do to not laugh when Kaden tells me “NO” and then realizes he just screwed up so he starts pretending like he was singing ‘hide it under a bushel, NO!‘ before I’ve even said a word. I laugh when Kaden sees the bears on the feet of his footed pajamas and lifts one leg with a vicious “rawr!” and then bends at the waist, hangs his head, puts his hands on his knees, and laughs like an old man complete with over-exaggerated shoulder shrugs.

I laugh when Kaden plasters himself against the kitchen wall and yells “ready, set, Doh” and runs as fast as he can at me across the kitchen b/c he knows I’ll catch him and throw him in the air.  And oh man do I wish I could freeze those moments in time and hold onto them forever.  The sound of his laugh and the way his hips sway back and forth and his feet kick out to the sides as he sprints back to do it all over again (think Phoebe Buffay), the way Millie dances around our feet b/c she wants in on the action, the way Molly’s eyes sparkle from the floor as she watches intently and her spastic arms and legs dance out of control in response. The fact that he knows, no matter what, I will catch him and will not let him fall.  Because, sadly… I can’t protect him from falling forever.  And heartbreakingly, he won’t always run into my arms unabashedly.

It’s funny, this parenthood thing… My kids are the reason I left the house for an hour today for a rare (and oh-so-coveted) trip to Starbucks to write and drink a cup of coffee uninterrupted… yet here I am, and all I can think about and write about are those darn kids.  And I can’t even type that without wiping the tears off my face.  And laughing.  At myself.

Funny moments at home with Kaden and Molly I don’t want to forget:

1. When we tell Kaden to be quiet b/c Molly is sleeping, he usually responds with a “shhh” and his finger either touching the tip of his nose or sticking up his nostril…  like so:

2. Sometimes for fun I’ll puff my cheeks out with air and let Kaden poke my cheeks and then blow air in his face.  Life around here is exciting, I’ll tell ya what.  But he thinks it’s hilarious.  Well the other day completely out of nowhere I think he thought Molly was puffing her cheeks out b/c of how chubby they are and he started poking her cheeks… she didn’t think it was hilarious.  I did.
3.  Every. single. time I go to change Molly’s diaper Kaden follows me to the changing table and says “Moll go poop”  and starts digging his finger in the bag balm (what we use for diaper rashes) so he can help put it on her butt.  And we usually have a few good laughs over Kaden’s variations on “Yuck”… (usually sounds like it starts with either and “s” or an “f”… :-/…)
4.  We are quickly learning that Kaden now understands and can repeat most of everything we say… so his new favorite phrase is “hush up moll.” Followed closely by “mama. mama. mama. WOOK! WOOK!  eh-plane!!” (insert any fairly boring inanimate object or animal, like tuck (truck), suh-cull (circle, or the letter O), tow (cow), tat (cat), and Santa!)
5. Kaden’s version of counting to 10:  two, two, tree, foh, fai-eeev, sis, sewen, eat, naine, eat, naine, TEHHN!  Seriously, try and make him say ‘one’… it ain’t happening.
6. Pretty much every time I pull out the camera to take a picture of Molly… Kaden immediately flings himself down next to her and does this:
Never a dull moment. 🙂  And never enough sleep.
But  my favorite picture of late that makes me crack up every time I look at it is this:

This is what happens when Daddy styles his hair... Mommy has now taken back that job.

Molly’s almost 2 weeks old and Kaden is acting like a 2 year old (can you say, TANTRUM??) but we are surviving and adjusting.  Here’s a few pics of the kiddos in the past week and a half:

Kaden's "gift" from Molly when we came home from the hospital.

Mowing the lawn with Daddy (aka- Daddy trying to wear Kaden out for Mommy)

Wide awake... a rarity 🙂

Not sure, but I think there's something wrong with this picture...

Brotherly love... also a rarity these days 😉

Sweet girl

Tomorrow Molly Jane will be a week old, and we are significantly more tired than we were a week ago at this time…  It’s been a great week, but certainly has had it’s challenges; so, while I have a second I thought I’d reflect on what’s made this week great and what’s been, well… not-so-great.

High: Watching Kaden’s interest in Molly go from zero (a half-hearted “Hi baby” from across the room when prompted) to, eh… a 5 out of 10.  He now wants to watch me change her “poop” and likes to point out and name her features (with the occasional eyeball poke) and gives her head a kiss before he goes to bed for the night.

Low: Not being able to physically love on or care for Kaden like I’d like to.  Recovering from a c-section means I can’t pick up Kaden for the first couple weeks… which means I can’t get him ready for bed and rock him to sleep, can’t pick him up and comfort him if he’s hurt, can’t hug him or wrestle with him… basically it’s launched my mothering guilt to full-scale since I already feel guilty for rocking his world with a new baby when he’s still a baby, and now I can’t even care for him on my own or freaking pick my child up to hug him.  (Cue irrational hormonal 5 minute cry)

High: Molly is the EASIEST baby of all time during the day and most of the night.  I swear all she does is sleep and half the time I have to fight to wake her up to eat.

Low: The only time of day Molly has been awake the past several days is from about 10 or 11 pm until around 2 am.  Not awesome. Starting to really feel the sleep deprivation.

High: Breastfeeding has been a dream this time around.  I won’t go in to much detail here… but suffice it to say that when Kaden was born I cried from excruciating pain pretty much every feeding for about 4-6 weeks.  This time… I have essentially zero pain, my milk came in before I even left the hospital, Molly eats quickly and is content to be finished, and she gained back half the weight she lost in only 2 days.  You have no idea what a relief this has been for me.

Low: Remembering how much time nursing takes throughout the day and being completely unavailable for Kaden all of the times I’m stuck on the couch with a baby attached to me.  Not to mention having to plan everything around when Molly will be hungry.

High: Feeling so blessed and loved by family, friends, and neighbors who have already offered so much help and support.

Low:  Knowing we won’t be able to do much with said family, friends, and neighbors for a little while as we adjust to life with a newborn and a toddler.

High: Watching Trey and Kaden interact and play more than they ever have since Trey’s been home from work all week.  Don’t know what I’d do without him here.  And I think he may be gaining a new appreciation for why I go to Target for no reason so often… 🙂

Low: Anticipating how overwhelming things will be a for a little while when Trey goes back to work.  Not looking forward to that. AT. ALL.

High: Having a pumpkin pie here all week thanks to my wonderful Mom!

Low: Daylight savings.  I’d like to punch it in the face.  Kaden has been waking up at 6 am (sometimes a few minutes earlier) this whole week since he’s been home.  Our great sleeper who usually sleeps till close to 8 am is now waking up while it’s still dark outside at 6.  As I’m getting back in bed from feeding Molly… Kaden starts chattering away.  Thankfully Trey’s been getting up with him this week and letting me get a couple more hours of sleep.  But starting next week… ugh, I shudder at the thought.

High: Baby girl clothes and bows.  So much more fun to dress a baby girl 🙂

Low: Toddler boy whining.  Over any and everything.

Wouldn’t trade this life for anything and I know in a few weeks things will feel more normal and settled, but I’m not going to pretend it’s all daisies and roses all the time. Having a newborn is hard.  It’s amazing how much you remember but also how much you forget when you just did this 18 months ago.  We still don’t know what we’re doing and find ourselves looking at each other with a shoulder shrug more often than not.  But I do know if we’re not careful, we’ll blink and Molly will be Kaden’s age.

Tomorrow is B-Day.

I made it.  Tomorrow I am getting this baby out of me and will be DONE being pregnant (for a while, at least).  Up until about a week ago when people would ask me if I was ready to have Molly here my response has been, “Not exactly… she’s pretty dang easy to take care of in here… nice and quiet, sleeps, no dirty diapers or crying spells….”  But I’ve hit my limit.  I haven’t slept well several nights in a row, there is no such thing as a comfortable position anymore (whether sitting, standing, or lying down), my stomach is unbearably itchy 24-7 from my skin stretching farther than it’s ever stretched before (woop-woop! Tankini Club for life!), and I know I’ve whined about it before… but the heartburn.  Seriously… this girl better have freaking Rapunzel length locks for the intensity of the heartburn I’ve experienced this time.  As you can see, I’m over it.  O-V-E-R it. Get her out. Get her out now!

But then… my emotions sway quickly and seamlessly in the other direction and I become a ball of anxiety and mixed emotions about bringing home another baby.  I feel guilty for how we are about to rock Kaden’s world.  Last night as I read him books and rocked him before bedtime, I was a complete mess thinking about how he’s no longer going to be the baby or the center of our attention.  I know in the long run it will be so great for him to have a sister so close in age and to have to learn to share my attention and be more patient with getting what he wants.  But today… I’m sad that it’s his last day as my “baby.”  I think about how easy it is right now to get out of the house, get plenty of sleep, and basically do whatever we want with only one easy kid. We have our routines and I like them.  And I’m also reminded of how I’ve never been very good at dealing with change… and bringing home a second child is a major life change.

So, for these reasons and then some… you could say I’m so ready to meet our daughter tomorrow (and eat some Mexican food without my esophagus turning into the fiery pits of hell afterward), but I’m also slightly apprehensive about how life’s about to turn upside down.  Any of you mothers of two close-in-age kids out there have any words of wisdom? I’m all ears (and big belly)…:)