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.

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.

It’s been a while and we are in the middle of 5 months of fun

Oh, hello blog.  No, I did not forget you.  I would like to tell you I have been busy but I hate the “busy” excuse.  Instead, I have made the mental choice every day to either have a glass of wine, workout or even take a nap instead of coming to write.

Don’t think I haven’t wanted to though.

I do.  Often.

I lie in bed at night and “blog” in my head.  I will write out full posts because it is how I can decompress.

All that leads us to here, where I’m about to write a rambling post to get not only you caught up but myself caught up.  Settle in.

The last time I was here we were getting rid of the swaddle and going through sleep regression.  Well, eventually Cora got used to not being swaddled. We also realized her other issue was a major cold that I eventually had to give in on and get her amoxicillin.  Have you had the joy of holding your child down to shove antibiotics down her throat?  You learn to do it when said child is naked and with nothing in a 3 ft perimeter that can be stained pink.  Good times not had by all. But she did start sleeping again (on her tummy like a starfish) once she could finally breathe through her nose.  And with a blanket.  I know, horrible parent right here.

Then I went back to work.  It was a roller coaster of what will I actually do and for how many days. At the final hour I ended up in a new office, with some friends in the business and only working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I actually felt good about going back to work.  I can honestly say the three days is perfect for us.  While I still don’t love what I do, this is something that works for now and is better than where I was at for the past two years. A step in a better direction and I can say I felt incredibly blessed to spend 4 1/2 months at home with Cora.

The month leading up to going back to work, I was doing drop-in days at Cora’s daycare.  We spent months trying to find the best childcare.  In my former life I spent 8 years working in public childcare facilities and just couldn’t see us going that route.  So we looked and looked for a home daycare.  In a small town that is really tough.  The good ones are full, don’t take part-time or have a wait list.  Finally, we found a woman who decided to stay at home with her little one and start in home care.  She was previously a nurse and her husband is a police officer.  All the “practice” drop-in days were great.  Both Cora and I were able to slowly get used to what would be our new normal so when the real day came for me to go back to work I had zero anxiety about daycare.  So far she loves it there and we manage to get out the door every morning by 7am with our shit together. Plus coffee, all the coffee.

We made it through her 4 month old appointment where we were told once again that developmentally she is quite ahead of her game and the doctor was shocked by it all.  I don’t know what we are doing but apparently it is right and it feels good to be told you aren’t fucking up your kid…yet.  We got the okay to start some cereal with her as well.  Slowly but surely she has grown to love it but the main person she likes to feed her is Daddy.  She will eat bowl after bowl for him.  For me, she will zip those lips shut and grunt.

At 4 months old we had her baptized.  If you have been around for a while, you will know that this was a tough decision for us.  In the end, I’m glad we did it and I feel I fed the Catholic guilt demon in me.  During the baptism, Cora was in great spirits while putting on quite the show for the entire congregation and our family that was in attendance.  What followed can only best be described as a Friends episode.  You know, the one where Emma turns 1 and she takes the longest nap, while every waits for her, so they can start the party?  Yes, that.  We went home from the church where Cora decided a three hour nap was needed, even though everyone came to our house for a party and lunch.  Eventually everyone else gave in and left without getting to really see the lady of the hour.  The only two left standing, when she woke, were her God parents.

At 4 1/2 months old, I sat behind Cora while she sat up playing.  I leaned over for something and realized she wasn’t going anywhere but instead stayed upright.  And so began her love for sitting up, unassisted, to see the world.  That is, until her dog comes along and knocks her over.  Really, she just finds that hilarious.  She has been furiously trying to figure out how to crawl.  Butt in the air, knees tucked under, but arms waving like crazy does not create forward motion.

At 5 months old we gave her a cup to distract her from grabbing at ours.  I wasn’t sure how to go about this so we literally took her to Babies R Us and let her hold all the training cups to basically pick herself.  No research, no asking around, no fore thought really, just a random parenting decision and it worked.  She seemed to like the Nuk training cups the best so we bought two.  She loves them and is getting the hang of drinking out of them after her bowl of cereal each night. Or tossing it over the high chair for the dog.  Whatever keeps her entertained while we finish our dinner is fine.

This past weekend we made the decision to move her from the pack n play in  our room, to her crib in her own room.  (Mom and Dad are ready to quit playing the “how quiet can we have sex?” game.)  She normally naps in her own crib so I didn’t think it would be too bad.  Wrong. So wrong.  After 16 times of laying her down we gave up.  She could be dead asleep and once she was laid down she would roll over and stare us down.  Over and over we tried until she landed back in her pack n play.  Now she has decided that she won’t stick to her just twice a night waking’s.  She is punishing us and has decided once an hour would be great.  Just for a cuddle, followed by three attempts to lay her down.  What the hell happened?  Basically we went from quiet sex to no sex.  Joke is on us.  #parentingfail

And last but not least, Cora gained her first little cousin.  My brother had a healthy baby boy and now our little nuggets are only 4 months and 4 days apart.  Putting the two babes next to one another is so shocking.  Cora looks huge! I can honestly say, there is no part of me that is jealous of them being 4 months behind us.  I’m glad we are out of the “fresh from the vag” phase and in the “let me scream you the story of my people” phase.  So much more fun.

I will make it back here more often now that we are settled into our new phase of parenting.  It gets easier, for the most part, each week.  We like our new normal even though sometimes we fail at it, we learn from it.

 

 

On Living In the Moment

My friends have come to visit on a regular basis.  They have made the drive from the city or from the next town over.  They make the trek up my road, that is hardly ever plowed and is merely a skating rink at this point.  They ask how I am doing and the ones that are seasoned mamma’s ask me the deeper questions.  Do I feel any baby blues?  Am I lonely out here all day, on my own, with a newborn?  Having maternity leave in the dead of winter, am I feeling depressed?

When I was pregnant I was worried about many of these things.  I watched friends get the baby blues over the years or go through depression.  I worried about the quiet of my home, with a newborn and no one around to talk back.  And trust me, no one has been more surprised than me, to find myself content and happy.

You see, my Husband and I met and spent 10 months quickly falling in love.  Our lives revolved around getting to know one another and him eventually moving in with me.  He then proposed and our lives became about the wedding.  Before the wedding was even here we were already diving into building our home.  With the wedding over the house building was full steam ahead.  Of course we had to head straight into something else as well so we decided to pull the goalie and start to try for a baby.  With the house building done we had to dive into why we weren’t pregnant and then that became our new focus.  With that it was pregnancy, birth and here we are today.

We have been on fast forward since the day we met, 5 years ago.  We always felt like we were trying to catch up with years lost.  We had our check list, our goals.  The funny thing is, we didn’t have much on the list after baby.  Bringing Cora home felt like a completion of a list in a way.  We had arrived at this unknown point that we created.  A point that meant we could sit down and breathe.  It felt like we had made it.

For the first time I’m not rushing to the next thing.  I’m not looking for what is next.  I’ve always had a hard time slowing down and enjoying the moment without thinking of what next week holds.  The amazing thing is, Cora forces us to do just that.  Slow down.  Breathe in the moments.  Don’t rush time.  Perhaps that is why I am happy to sit up in my house, with this amazing little baby and do nothing more than to look at her, talk to her, rock her and let her puke down my shirt.

There are times when she is up at 2am for a bottle, we stand at the window, I look out at the world sleeping and cannot thank God enough for this moment.  I am so very lucky.  If I find myself frustrated, while she fights sleep, I often remind myself that this too shall pass quickly.  I look at a photo of Rebecca and I am quickly reminded that they grow up so fast.  So I can look at the screaming baby in my arms, snuggle her in and wait out the tears until she gives into sleep.

I am oddly content in this little life of ours.  I am grateful for my Husband who works hard for us.  A man who I could never have dreamt of 5 years ago.  I am grateful for a home that was once torn apart by divorce and sorrow.  I am grateful for a baby who looks down on us from heaven each day and for a baby who snuggles against my chest each day with breath in her lungs.  I am grateful for a girl turning into a woman each day who first taught me how to be a Mom.  I am grateful for arriving at a place in my life where I get to experience such joy and peace.