Parenting Styles Today

My Husband and I grew up in a world where I’m sure most of you did.  A world called the 80’s where bike helmets didn’t exist, we ran the streets without a parent, road our bikes to the end of the earth and back and drank from the hose.  I actually grew up with a Mom who ran an in home daycare and the only time the TV was on during the day was when she was watching All My Children at noon.  We weren’t even allowed video games and yet I didn’t feel deprived.  We had every outdoor toy known to man, why would we want to be stuck inside?!

The world has vastly changed since then and we know all the reasons why.  More cars on the road leads to stricter car seat laws for kiddos.  More parents speak up about accidents that happen on playgrounds and metal slides and swings are taken away.  Social media warns you of every scary stranger around the corner and kiddos can’t walk home from school.  Nosy neighbors thinking they have a say on your parenting call the cops every time a child is outside playing alone.  The world has changed indeed my friends.

We bubble wrap our kids, we try to delete every danger, ward off anything undesirable, hold their hands longer than what they need, chase them with Clorox to avoid all germs and in general become helicopters.  We worry about the judgment if another parent sees us doing something different.  But is it all worth it?  What will it do in the long run for our kids?  And seriously, we lived through licking some windows in our time, can’t our own kids?

I can tell you that my Husband and I may not be raising our child that way.  We may be going against the norm.   Where we live in the country, houses are spread out, heavily treed areas separating most of us. We still live in a neighborhood where kids ride their bikes around without shoes, helmets, kneepads or any other thing protecting them.  They run rampant through the subdivision, playing on the mud roads, climbing trees, all unsupervised by an adult but maybe supervised by their dog with no leash and quite honestly nowhere near their own home.  Kids we have never met knock on our door and ask to play with our dog or jump on our trampoline. We find discarded bikes along the road and know that no one was abducted but instead they found a turtle they wanted to drag home and had no way to get it there on their bike.  We just deliver their bike to their front yard on the way by.  Rebecca is no exception to any of this.

All these are things that would make some parents furious, nervous and the such.  I do even understand that things have changed for a reason.  Some would argue that we don’t live in the city but if we did we would be different.  Sure, all of these things can make me nervous but am I doing anything good for my girls by standing over them?  I want them to be able to handle themselves.  I want them to explore the world, use their imagination, and not be stuck inside because sometimes the world is scary.

And that is the thing, only sometimes the world is scary.  Social media wants you to think it is always scary.  But I don’t want my girls to live in fear of the worst case scenarios,  I want them to live for all the great possibilities that there are.  I don’t want them to live in a box, safely inside, watching the world through a TV, right next to me.  I want them to get scraped up and learn to get up, I want them to wander through the poison ivy to learn not to do it again, I want them to get stuck in a tree so they can problem solve their way down on their own.  I also don’t want them living in my basement when they are 30.

Recently the baby sat on a blanket, in our front yard and rolled her way off.  She started running her hands through the grass, digging her nails into the cool dirt and then lifted her hand to her mouth to figure out if any of it might be food I have been depriving her of.  Sure, I wanted to plop her back on the blanket but I just let her go.  She looked at me with a huge smile as she went back to digging in the dirt, loving the new discovery.  It required a bath at the end of the night but no harm was done.

For as long as I can I will let my girls take one step ahead without me holding them back, no matter how much I want to warn them not too.  Because one day I won’t be there to watch over them every minute, or hold their hand and I want to give them the tools necessary to think for themselves and discover.  I want them to have a childhood where their imagination leads them to a tree house that is actually a space ship.  Where the wooded area across the street from us is where Peter Pan and the lost boys may live.  And maybe I’ll find a metal slide somewhere to push them down just to say “You have no idea how good you have it!”

 

 

Emotional Announcements

When I got to work this morning there was a baby announcement in my inbox from another co-worker.  A husband and wife, proudly standing with their twin boys, and a sign that told the world they were expecting.

Why the hell is my initial reaction every emotion in the book?  I am seriously happy for them but I sat there with tears in my eyes and was that a hint of jealousy deep down?

After I sat back, I realized a few things.  Recently people have started asking us if it is time to have another baby.  First of all, what the fuck? Seriously.  My kid is 6 months old and I can’t even fathom that idea right now.  Secondly, every time someone asks, my stomach clenches, I break into a sweat, I get nervous and I want to run.

If I’m quite honest, I have no idea yet if I want another one.  Neither of us do.  I just want to enjoy where I am at right now.  The thought of trying again makes me nervous.  The thought of timing our sex, watching the calendar, making sure I make it for timed appointments with my doctor, and on and on makes me sick to my stomach.  None of that sounds fun right now and it sounds like an awful lot of time taken away from Cora.  Even worse, the thought of failed pregnancies tests and potential miscarriages makes me absolutely shut down.

It is like I have PTSD from the first time around.  So why the emotion of watching other people make announcements? Perhaps it is just knowing that I may want the road to lead back to that eventually and I know what that road entails.  Not with ease but with a mountain to climb once again.  It is like it is never far away and with every happy announcement it pokes at me.

Controlling the Chaos

I remember reading an article somewhere when I first had Cora.  It stated that having a newborn does not mean your home needs to turn into a world of chaos.  I have watched friends have babies and their world did just that, turned to chaos.  Laundry piled in the corners, dishes stacked high, the look of dishevelment on their face.  People told me I would barely shower, chores would fall to the wayside…life would be chaos.

I just knew our life could not become chaos.  I remember reading that statement and thinking, yes, someone agrees with me that I don’t have to lose my shit to continue surviving. The Husband and I are not people who can handle settling for chaos and no control.  We are Type A, we don’t have it in us for loss of control.

Six months in and I want to say this, it is true, your world does not have to be chaos.  If you are reading this as the new or expecting parent, I will tell you it is okay.  A newborn does not need it to be chaos and neither does an infant.  I have managed a shower everyday.  The laundry gets put away, the dog hair vacuumed, the dishes washed and put away each night, the counters wiped down and half the time the bed gets made.

When Cora came we just had to learn to adjust.  We take advantage of nap times and you know what, sometimes she has to just sit and entertain herself while the dishwasher gets unloaded or supper made.  My Husband pitches in more and we have learned to work together a bit more efficiently.

Sure, there are weeks where it is harder than others and days where I collapse into bed, knowing I didn’t get it all done but 95% of the time, we are good.  This week the dog has an inflamed pancreas and the Husband has influenza B.  I’m on my own and I’m exhausted.  Puking dog, vet visits, quarantined husband and all the Clorox in the world.  This week, it has been chaos.  Next week, we will get back to normal.

Sure, my sister lives with us to help but she has her own full-time job and has started dating (Oh my God the world of online dating!) She has a thing called life but is good help to wrangle Cora in jammies and read her a few stories while I change clothes.

Just like with anything else, it is what you make of it. There can be down days.  Monday, I napped when she napped because sometimes Mommy needs a nap too.  We have our days where she sits outside in the swing for an hour, watching the trees move in the wind, so I do too.   And in all honesty, I don’t think babies prefer chaos anymore than adults do.

 

Dating in Today’s World

My sister has recently taken up online dating.  On Match, to be exact.  She has been divorced for a while now, not caring to date but taking the time to piece herself and her life back together.  The dating profile has been a rolling joke on wine night.  Hey, let’s set one up for you!  Then one night she didn’t roll her eyes and instead said Let’s do it!   So we did.  We poured the wine, we looked for the perfect pictures, we had a sober person check our grammar, and  we charged her card $131 for 6 months and we laughed our asses off.  We even called in the Husband to help as he was the only one around who had prior experience in online dating.  Well, I’m not going to lie, the man used it to get laid back in the day.

So this online dating thing is very new to me and I’m fascinated.  It is a full-time job, like looking for a job.  Within days, my sister was getting messages, winks and I’m not sure what the rest of it is called, but things were happening.

One message caught her attention and it was on from there.  And the world is small my friends because long story, short.  He is a friend of several of my friends and works with my ex-husband.  Messages led to texting, led to a first date, more dates and one night she crashed at his place and then last night the man crashed at our place after we sat up late last night, altogether, chatting and getting to know him.

It is interesting watching this path my sister is traveling.  It is fun for my Husband and I to sit on the couch and hear how things are going or look at profiles online with her. It makes us reminisce about our early days dating.  We mention those little moments that changed us, changed our path in life, made our hearts melt.  Everyone knows what I’m talking about.  The early stuff where everything is roses, holding hands gives you butterflies and every text is from a fairytale.

It is nice to be reminded of those precious little moments that built our relationship foundation.  Not that my Husband doesn’t give me butterflies still but it isn’t like it was in the beginning.  Not every text is flirting because sometimes we have to discuss the baby and her recent poop schedule.

My sister’s date came up from the basement this morning, as I was getting ready for work and the baby glared at him, wondering who this stranger was.  He mentioned how he has done the walk of shame many times before but never with such judgment and from a baby no less!  My sister walked him out and all I could think was how lucky boys are because they can go to work the next day in the same clothes and their friends won’t notice.

I’ve watched a lot of my friend’s have amazing online stories that ended with the fairytale.  My sister is well on the path to the same and you can bet I will never let him live down the fact that my sister basically purchased him for the drunk payment of $131.

This is 6 Months.

Cora-

Most mommy bloggers do this magical thing every month or so.  They write a letter to their little one explaining every precious thing they learned in the past month while exclaiming how they can’t believe how cute they are and how much they are growing while changing their parents lives for the better.  I have sat several times to write these magical posts, so that one day you can look back on them.  Yet, I can’t form all the repetitive and obvious words.

I tried again today but here I am at work, my head nodding as I google “why the hell my baby went from a perfect sleeper to a crazy waker overnight.”  Because you my dear, in the past three nights, have kept me awake every hour.  My Fitbit has said my sleep is shorter than 2 hours every night.

I cuddle you every time you wake, thank God for you, kiss your cheeks, breathe you in and then pray like hell he will let you sleep for just 3 hours tonight.  2 solid hours?  I’ll take anything.  Maybe next week you’ll give sleep a whirl again.

You are forever perfecting your tantrum.  The arched back, the immediate scream, the arms flailing.  You are pissed, I get it. Preview to toddlerhood.   Mental note-more wine.

I’m going to chalk a lot of this new behavior up to possible incoming teeth.  You don’t have anything yet but all signs point to that.  Perhaps they could hurry up and we could get back to a normal state of happy.

Apparently 6 months is the magical number to start trying some food.  Side note, when I was pregnant with you I swore I would make your baby food from scratch.  I pinned recipes and thought it couldn’t be that hard.  Cut to me loading you up on some nice organic, jar food.  I promise you’ll be fine either way.

We have been working on cereal for two months now and you have hated every minute of it.  We thought you would like the food that has some taste to it then! So wrong.  Green beans, carrots, pears and bananas have all been a no go.  As in, I know you still had carrots up your nose one morning last week when I dropped you to daycare.  That orange color will stain everything in a 20 foot radius of your high chair.  Trying to feed you should be an Olympic sport.

But then two nights ago you opened your mouth and ate sweet potatoes.  There was no fit throwing, no look of horror on your face.  You just ate it.  Then demanded I shove the entire jar in your mouth as quick as possible.  And when that was gone, you demanded why you didn’t have more jars to eat so I gave you bananas and you made the horrible face.  I figured it was over but you asked for more until you decided that you were full to the top, thank you.  You followed that all up with a 6 oz bottle.  Girl, we can barely get 4 oz in you at a time.  6oz.  I was waiting for the biggest poop ever last night but that didn’t happen.  Please let it happen at daycare today.

For as much as you fight food, you love your sippy cup.  You’ll stick that in your mouth, kick your feet up on the table and chug that water like mommy chugs her wine some nights.  Whatever lets the rest of us adults eat in peace.

For as much as you have done everything else early, crawling isn’t happening.  Perhaps it is your temper that gets in your way.  You lay on that tummy and kick your legs, flap your arms and wonder why you have no forward momentum.  We pop you up on your hands and knees where you rock back and forth.  Just when we think you may take off you collapse to your tummy.  Honestly, I’m not ready for you to be on the move yet.  I like that you kinda just stay where you are aside from the scooting and rolling.  Once the moving starts, it is all over.  So take your time kiddo.

We took you to your 6 month appointment where they determined at 15lbs 1oz, you are at the 25th percentile for weight and 75th for height.  You once again fought the nurse like hell on your shots and they had to call for backup.

One more thing.  You are amazing.  I love rocking you to sleep at night, once you give in.  I love how you curl into me when I pick you up in the middle of the night.  I love how hard you laugh at your puppy when she follows right behind us.  I love how much you like to be outside, watching the tops of the trees sway back and forth.  I love putting you in the front pack and walking you and your puppy.  You sing at the top of your lungs and laugh as she runs around in front of us.  I love how excited you get for your Sophia the giraffe toy and your Easter bunny rattle.  I love how you like to jump in your activity center and hoot like an owl.  I love how you talk in your crib to your teddy bear but it looks like you are talking into the camera at us.  Actually, that part can be a bit creepy sometimes.

And okay, it is true, I can’t believe how much you have grown and changed in the past month.  I’m just trying to soak up every minute of where we are right now, not where we will be at tomorrow, even in the midst of your classic meltdowns.  You are pretty damn amazing kiddo.  You know, all the obvious words.

We love you.

Mamma

 

 

5 Months Old

It seems that just over night I went from having this sweet, cooing baby girl to a razor-sharp tara dactyl.  The nurses and doctors have joked that Cora is the strongest baby they have ever seen, some coming in to see if the rumors are true.  And that was a few weeks ago.  Nothing compared to now.

She used to do this sweet, slow, rollover while trying to get her dressed or change her diaper.  We would talk to her, tickle her a bit, distract her with a toy until the job was done and then smother her with kisses.  This week she flops over at an alarmingly quick rate, diaper flying, changing pad sliding around, lotion bottles falling off of the dresser.  Beware if she gets ahold of something, it will go flying across the room.  She screams at a noise decibel most haven’t heard and tries to escape.  I’m unsure of where she is exactly trying to go while I start dressing her from different angles, adjusting her diaper several times in an attempt to get it to an acceptable level of ON.

Following her bath last night, we skipped the changing table and went straight to the safety of the floor.  There I attempted what used to be a sweet conversation and a nice massage.  There is nothing calming about it anymore.  My legs held down her arms, while her legs repeatedly kicked my stomach and face.  Screaming commenced, there was no reasoning with her.  I got lotion where I could and called for my sister to come in for back up.  All hell had broken loose and there was no dressing her.  I was waiting for her to pee on me or the dog.

With back up in place, we determined one should hold her, dangling in the air, while the other attempted to diaper and put her jammies on.  This appeased the baby enough to laugh and only scream a few times.  Once finished, she sat on the floor, smiling at us, knowing she just won the battle.  My sister and I sat, sweating, out of breath, and wondering what the hell has possessed my independent child and why the hell we needed to bother with a workout that evening.

Laying her down for naps has gone this way.  Feeding her cereal has gone this way.  Don’t even get me started on getting her in the car seat.  If we are not doing something on her terms, then all out war is started and I barely escape unscathed while she will sit and smile sweetly at me, knowing she is slowly killing me, I’m sure.

But then in a fleeting moment, once I got her to sleep last night, I watched her awhile.  Peaceful and content.  Probably dreaming of ways to make me lose my mind faster.  And then she smiled.  I realized I haven’t seen her smile in her sleep in a long time, something newborns do often but then one day they seem to quit.  So I snuggled her a bit more and kissed her cheeks before I laid her down and slowly backed away before she woke.  (Those books that say to put them down while drowsy haven’t met my kid.)

And this is only 5 months.  Although, I wouldn’t trade my crazy tara dactyl for anything and I’m pretty sure this is why wine was invented.