Making His Own Way

Trying to catch the bubbles.
Trying to catch the bubbles.
So, I’ve been a little lazy where Henry is concerned. When I became a stay at home mom, Davey was 4 months old. I immediately dove into it, lined up programs at the library, met up with other SAHMs for play dates, and took him on as many “free” adventures as possible. I wanted to make sure that I was giving him as much social interaction as possible. Henry hasn’t exactly had that luxury.

Today, I decided to start up a new routine with Henry. I’m taking him to Bouncing Babies at our local library. My plan is to stick to it at least once a week, but if at all possible, get him there twice a week.

Making friends.
Making friends.

Bouncing Babies is a program geared for newborns to 18 month olds. It consists of stories, songs, nursery rhymes and free play with other children. Davey attended this the very first week I was a stay at home mom. I haven’t taken Henry because Davey’s attention span is no good for Bouncing Babies and he would just disrupt the whole thing. Plus, I’ve wanted Henry to have something that is his own, something away from his brother. And I must say, it’s been quite the enjoyable and eye opening experience for me.

Sharing with the others.
Sharing with the others.

Henry loves to move around and socialize, but he’s also more of a mama’s boy than Davey was. Davey never wanted to be with me, but Henry likes to climb back into my lap and just enjoy the class. He crawls and walks over to other babies and attempts to make friends, but in the end he’s always looking for me. It was so nice to see him be his own little man, to attempt to make his own friends. I don’t think I’ve “seen” Henry in this way before. I’ve always seen him as Davey’s little brother and really it saddens me that I didn’t do this sooner.

Huge fan of the balls.
Huge fan of the balls.

The experience was wonderful. He played. He laughed. He clapped his hands and climbed into the laps of other mothers. He shared his toys (something Davey NEVER did) and he became Henry Doser, adventurous and friendly little toddler. I need to do this more often.


My Husband is Grateful

And being the good Christian wife I am, I should be happy that he’s grateful, right? Here’s the problem, though, I’m also human and when he said the words, “I’m grateful” today, I took them out of context, and it made me resentful and angry.

Being a stay at home mom is under-rated. I’ve heard some claim it’s over-rated, but really it’s one of the most thankless and at times degrading jobs a woman will ever have. On the plus side, it is also one of the most rewarding and loving jobs. Today, with my Drowning in the Terrible Twos Davey, was not one of the days that I enjoyed. Truthfully, today was one of the days that I not only envied my husband, but I despised him as well. Not very Christian-like of me, I know.

I’ve been so proud of Davey lately. We seemed to have rounded the corner finally with potty training and he’s been using the potty on a regular basis with minimal accidents, but for some reason on Tuesday he’s regressed back to not wanting to potty. It’s making my life miserable. I’ve come so far with him. Should I just put him back in pull ups and let him come to me when he’s ready to start wearing big boy underwear again? Or should I just keep following the path I’m on with him? I don’t want to ruin our progress.

Here’s my conundrum the past few days…Davey will sit on the potty, but he refuses to use it. Instead he holds it in and waits until nap time or bed time when I put on a pull up, then pees and poops at that point. I don’t know what’s changed in the past few days, but something has and it’s really no good for my patience. I’ve tried reasoning with him, which is like reasoning with a terrorist. I’ve tried bribing him, which is like dangling meat in front of a vegetarian. I’ve tried threatening to take away his toys. I’ve tried encouragement, songs, reading books, dancing…you name it, I’ve tried it the past few days, to no avail.

Today, I decided that Davey would sit on the potty until he peed or pooped in it. I took a pull up off of him at 7:30 and 1 cup of milk, tea, 2 cups of water, and 5 hours later, he still didn’t want to pee. He had it in him! I know he did! And I was determined that he was not going to get the better of me and hold it in until nap time and pee in his pull up. No, sir! I know where he’s gotten his strong-willed, stubborn streak from…ME! What he should know is that I’m the master and I will win, or so I continued to tell myself. Now here’s where the “I’m grateful” remark came into play with my husband…

While sitting on the potty, Davey begins a barrage of nasty tones, words, and accusations all directed towards me! ME!?!?!? Not only did he tell me that he didn’t love me, nor did he like me, but he also told me that his Daddy was his favorite, I’m a mean witch, and Daddy is the best. I believe his actually words were, “make daddy come home and you go away forever.” Are you kidding me? Why do I get to deal with all of this abuse? I’m the one that carried him for 9+ months, have a lovely scar from the surgery and a belly that will never be as flat or hips as slim as they once were because of him. I’m the one who suffered through leg cramps, horrible heartburn, sleepless nights, and weeks of recovery pain after having him. I’m the one who gave up my career to stay home with him, to be an active part of his life, to take the responsibility of molding him with my own hands. I’m the one who doesn’t get the luxury of overnight business trips in nice hotels with no screaming kids. I’m the one who deals with getting peed on, vomited on, and even at times pooped on. And yet, I get treated like I’m the wicked witch of the west!

My husband says to me, during my rant, that he’s “grateful” which in turn caused me to unleash a bombardment of angry words at him. I said to him “You’re grateful that you’re seen as the good guy and I’m the bad guy or are you just grateful that you are working AND out of town and don’t have to deal with the unpleasant side of raising our boys?” Was that unfair on my part? Perhaps, but in the heat of the moment I didn’t want to hear his “I’m grateful” comment even if I did cut him off before he finished with “I’m grateful that you’re the one who’s capable of handling our boys and I’m grateful that you’re their mother and I’m grateful that you take care of them.”

Well, I suppose I’m glad his grateful, but for once JUST ONCE, I’d like to be seen as the good guy. I’d like to be seen as the favorite parent (that’s selfish, I know). For once, I’d like to make it through a day without Davey calling me a mean witch. I don’t want my husband to be grateful (well, really I do). What I want is to have my loving, cuddly relationship I had with what was once my sweet boy. I want my cake and eat it too.

Summer Break…Just a Day Away

I remember the first day I dropped him off. I was nervous, more so about whether I would remember everything I needed. Would I forget to pack his lunch and what about diapers? But then, I got us on the road and walked my little man into his first official “class” (more of a mother’s morning out, but he’s still in a classroom setting). I smiled as he proudly walked in with his backpack and Toy Story lunch box. He was excited and I was sad. I thought for sure he would cry or grab onto my legs and beg me to stay, but not Davey Doser. Instead, he pushed me away and said, “Mama go. Davey stay and play.” So, I kissed him goodbye and walked out the door before he saw the tear fall down my cheek.

I’d been looking forward to this day, just because being a stay-at-home mom can be tough. I longed for a day to have to myself, to clean the house, to read a book, to take a nap. I had anxiously counted down the days and had convinced myself that it would be a piece of cake to take him. Never did I imagine the feeling in the pit of my stomach. Never did I think he wouldn’t want me to stay.

Days went by and weeks became months. We developed our routine and Davey quickly learned that Tuesday meant he was going to see Mrs. Beth (his teacher). He was excited, always waking up and knowing when Tuesday had arrived. He came home with stories of friends, playground misfortunes, and even the blessing that he says now before every meal.

Every week, there was a new craft waiting in his cubby from the week before. Some days it was especially made for me and other days were just little paintings to go along with the Bible stories, shapes and colors of the week. He was learning so much and was proud to show it to me.

One of my favorite crafts from Davey.
One of my favorite crafts from Davey.

The days during Christmas break were hard. Davey had a new baby brother AND he was away from Mrs. Beth for almost four weeks! He cried for her a couple of times, but quickly told me that he loved me most. He woke up on Tuesday mornings with the anticipation of going to see her, only to be disappointed when I would tell him not today.

Finally, Christmas break was over, but the frigid temperatures and snowfall began. School was closed and Davey’s heart sank. When the snow melted and everything began to thaw, we were back on our routine once again. I was relieved and Davey was happy to have someplace to go where his little brother wasn’t.

And now we’ve come to the end of the year. I’ve explained to Davey that tomorrow is his last day with Mrs. Beth. He says he’ll see her again, which may be true. I don’t think he fully realizes that next Tuesday morning when he wakes up, it will just be the three of us (me, him, and Henry). I think he’ll be alright. I know he’ll be alright, but it still saddens me to know that this chapter of his life is now over. I almost want to cry. This wonderful woman has been a blessing not just to me, but also to my son. He loves her and tells her this every time he leaves her class. When we pass the church, Davey exclaims, “That’s Mrs. Beth’s house, let’s go see her.” Usually I answer with, “we’ll see her on Tuesday.” That won’t be the answer anymore.

So, to thank her and her assistant for taking such wonderful care of my precious cargo, Davey and I decided to make them a couple of teacher appreciation gifts.

Davey's gifts to his teachers.
Davey’s gifts to his teachers.

And as a side note, thank you to all of you teachers out there who sacrifice your time to take care of those that are precious to us.

Real World Multi-Tasking

I’m a little late on this post, but seeing as how the photo is still circulating through the web and in discussions with some of my fellow moms, I figured it was safe to blog about real world multi-tasking and not the type that Gisele Bundchen subscribes to.

Shortly before Christmas, Gisele Bundchen (supermodel and wife of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady) tweeted a picture of herself as she was nursing her daughter. She titled the photo: “Multi-tasking”. Problem is, she wasn’t actually multi-tasking, it was more like she was being multi-tasked on. While nursing her daughter, Gisele had her head flung back so her golden tresses could be styled, and her make up applied, but she didn’t stop there. She had yet a 3rd person who was giving her a manicure. As a side note, let me say kudos for the fact that she is nursing her daughter and not ashamed to show it.

In light of her version of multi-tasking, I decided I would drop her a quick little note that describes a day in the life of a normal, day-to-day stay at home mom who does not have the luxury of having extra personnel to help out with the day. So, Gisele, should you decide to really know what multi-tasking as a mom is all about here’s my past few days with a 27 month old and a 3 week old. Ready? Go!

Multi-tasking is when you’re trying to deal with tech support on your computer, while also nursing your three week old, and paying bills.

Multi-tasking is when you’re nursing your three week old, while also changing the diaper of your 27 month old.

Multi-tasking is when you’re nursing your three week old, cooking dinner, and cleaning up from the disaster the dog left at the trash can.

Multi-tasking is when you’re nursing your three week old and cleaning off crayons from the wall while also making sure that your 27 month old stays in the time out he was placed in for causing you to multi-task this issue.

Multi-tasking is when you’re able to write this blog, while nursing your three week old, and making sure that your 27 month old is happily watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Multi-tasking is when you’re changing your three week old’s diaper while in the bathroom because you’re also potty training your 27 month old.

Multi-tasking is when you’re able to give your three week old a bottle while also folding clothes.

Multi-tasking is when YOU are the one physically doing multiple tasks, NOT when you’re doing one task while other people complete the rest.

So, Gisele, please think about the rest of us moms who don’t have your millions of dollars before you decide to insult us by throwing out a picture of your supposed “multi-tasking” abilities. Perhaps you could even pull the word up in a dictionary to find out the true meaning in order to use it correctly.

Leaning Back

I received my January issue of Parents Magazine in the mail today.   For the first time in what has seemed like a while, I was able to immediately sit down and start perusing through the pages.   Of course, it helped that this issue seems to be a lot smaller than the others (meaning I felt like I could QUICKLY make my way through the magazine).  

I came across an article that caught my attention because it had a subtitle that was meaningful to me.   It’s something that my husband and I have discussed as recently as Monday night when it comes to parenting (not raising) Davey.   He’s hit the Terrible Twos, well he’s actually be in this stage for a while, but for some reason it seems like it’s getting worse.   Maybe it’s just my perspective because I can’t be as active with him as I once was (final days of pregnancy #2 impeding my abilities).  He’s become more temperamental and impatient, even screaming when he doesn’t get his way.   He lies on the floor and kicks his feet, has started hitting (mostly me, which we’re working to curb), and is becoming quite defiant.   So what gives?   I think this article summed a lot of it up.   It’s titled, “Why We Need to Lean Back (from our kids)”. 

We seem to be running ourselves ragged parenting our children.   I know I am and I’m only raising one at this point.   This article suggests that perhaps it’s time for me to be less hands-on, something my husband discussed with me on Monday night.   The article talks about the pressures parents feel to invest every amount of energy into our children and their futures.   I know I’m guilty of that!  Being a stay-at-home mom makes it a lot harder on mothers, or at least that’s how I feel.  We’re trying to compensate for variables that other children who go to school/daycare may receive.   

I’m constantly racked with guilt about if I’m doing enough where raising Davey is concerned.  I have some mothers and friends who pass judgment on the fact that I chose to be a stay-at-home mom.   Some believe I’m causing irreparable harm to my son because he’s not socializing on a day-to-day basis with other children.  It’s forced me to seek out activities outside of the home for him.   From the moment I became a SAHM, Davey and I were enjoying story time at our local library.   He was 4 months old at that point, but I was eager to make sure that I was still giving him enough social interaction.   I was still eager to make sure that since I had chosen to no longer have a career outside the home, that I would turn raising my son into a career.   I made myself be hands on.   Actually, I think I guilted myself into being hands on and from that moment forward I’ve become the mom that seems to micromanage every waking moment of his life.   I can’t do that anymore especially with Henry on the way in two days. 

Is it too late to right the ship?  I don’t think so, but I’ve decided to do more “leaning back” and let Davey decide what he wants to do.   I still find ways to structure his day, even if he we’re unable to really go out of the house.   I still allow him to have an hour of television time (perhaps more if I’m sick – and I know I’ll get some judgments from other moms here), but what used to be is no more.   Instead of telling him we’re going to read a book, I turn the television off and I sit down and read a book, sometimes an adult book, which spurs him to bring books to me so that I can read to him.   He even sits on his own little couch and reads some of his books (since we’ve read them so many times and he knows them by heart).

When I want to do crafts with him, I go to the kitchen table and pull out the crayons and paper and I start coloring.   If he wants to join me, he does; otherwise, he does his on activity.   When he plays outside, or with his basketball goal, or his Matchbox cars, I use that opportunity to do some of my chores, like laundry and dishes.  It’s only been a couple of days, but already it seems like there’s a difference in his attitude.  The fact that I was inhibiting his independence, I believe, was really forcing him to rebel.  

My mother worked out of the home and my brother and I went to daycare.   She or my dad picked us up after work.  My mother cooked dinner, my dad played with us, we ate dinner as a family, and then we did our own thing.   My brother and I learned to amuse ourselves, to be self-sufficient, and to solve our own problems.   For so long, I’ve felt that I owed my son more than what my parents gave to me, but what I really owe him is my unconditional love and support.  

He’s a good kid, a smart kid, but with a mama who might be just a bit too involved in every challenge my son faces.  I wish I had started this approach sooner than just 2 days ago, seeing as how my attention will DEFINITELY be divided in 2 more days, but better late than never.   And oh, by the way, since I decided to “lean back” with Davey, he’s figured out how to pedal his tricyle all on his own.   It’s something I’ve worked on since this summer.   Maybe this will help in the potty training arena as well! 

My Personal Deprecation

This morning we had a wonderful experience with Davey. I have to admit the kid continues to surprise me and he NEVER ceases to amaze me. Today was no different.

While scrambling up a couple of eggs for Davey, he stood at the fridge where we keep his magnetic letters. I’ve worked hard with him to learn his alphabet, to recognize the letters, to say the letters, even if he doesn’t say them all in order yet. At one point, he started doing what I call “droning”, or perhaps it was just me. You see, we’ve become accustomed to him constantly “talking”; however, we don’t always know what he’s saying. I figured this morning was the same or maybe he was just talking to himself, something else he seems to do. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that it dawned on me what he was doing. He was pulling the letters off of the fridge and saying what the were. I was thrilled! I was so ecstatic that of course I called my husband.

My husband was so proud of Davey, even listening to him as he told his daddy over the phone what letters he was holding up. Of course, my husband had to just trust that Davey was picking the correct letters since he couldn’t see him. I was so excited I had to call another family member and tell that person as well. Before I go further, I’m not going to name that family member here. I don’t want to air out my or I should say “our” dirty laundry.

The family member picked up the phone after a couple of rings and I told them what Davey had just done. The response was far from the level of excitement I was hoping for. Maybe Davey’s behind at this point, but for 22 months, I think he’s doing very well being able to say his letters as well as recognize them.

I prodded and tried to encourage the family member by explaining that Davey is only 22 months old and wasn’t this just wonderful? The family member tells me that Davey is a busy body and that’s why he’s learning so much. Of course, I wanted to toot my own horn just a bit since I work with him relentlessly on a daily basis. My response, “Well, don’t give me any credit for it.” The family member’s response, “Hmmm. OK.”

Naturally, I’ve hit a downward spiral since the conversation this morning. I’m back to doing what I do best, self deprecation. Am I not doing a good enough job? Am I doing more damage than good by staying home with Davey? I’m really starting to think I am and it really saddens me because it makes me feel like I’m a failure.

There are a lot of other stay at home moms out there and I can’t help but wonder, are you guys in the same boat as me? Are you constantly feeling ridiculed by family members, feeling that you’re inadequate or that you just aren’t doing a good job? And if you are, what do you do? Wanna know what I did? I put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on for my son and then came upstairs and cried.

I suppose I should just say “screw you” to that family member (which I would never be able to do) and be proud of my son. And I am proud of him. I’m very proud of him, I just can’t help but wonder sometimes if he could be more without me, do more without me. Am I holding him back?

It’s just another day in being a mother and maybe I’m weak for letting this family member get to me. I’ll bounce back, but I’ll still constantly wonder if I’m really doing a good job. I suppose that comes along with motherhood or maybe just my personality in general because even if I was a working mother, I’m sure I would be doubting myself and my choices.

Shout Out to all My Fellow Stay at Home Moms!

I spent a lot of my spare time perusing through Flipboard. I had more spare time when my son was an infant and I was nursing him. These days, I’m just trying to keep him from climbing on the roof and sky diving off into his wading pool, so needless to say my spare time is waning. I did; however, stumble across this little blog post during a spare five minutes I had yesterday and I felt the need to share it with all of my fellow stay at home moms out there.

If you’re a SAHM, you’ll probably be shouting “AMEN” to most if not all of these. If you’re not, I still think you’ll feel some empathy. Here’s a little hint of the blog post and the actual link. Enjoy and AMEN!

It’s summer and the livin’s easy, right? Mmmmm … sure but no. The kids wake up with the sun (4:58 am) despite your best efforts to seal their windows with 89 layers of 30 gallon black garbage bags and duct tape. You feel guilty if you’re not outside enjoying the sun and shine but the second you get outside someone’s wet and dirty swim diaper needs to be changed and you’re positive the garden-happy neighbor is going to call the cops if he hears one more of the kids’ scream fights over who gets control of the hose aka control of the fun. The kids don’t understand why “bedtime” happens during daylight because according to the sun 8pm = 4:30pm and they fight you. They fight you hard.

So. You know you’re a stay at home mom (etc!) WHEN …

1. You get your 2-year-old dressed before noon and she asks “um, where we going?!”

2. You’re positive your husband didn’t hear you when you said, “the baby finally cut that tooth” …

I’ve started following Camp Patton! You should as well!

Oh, No, No, No….Not Me!

Were the words that spilled from my husband’s mouth last night when I told him that I was going back to work and he was going to stay home with Davey.

What led me to encourage my husband to switch roles thereby eliciting a huge sense of fear from him?   I just don’t think Davey appreciates me anymore!   Ha!   I know, a lot of you out there think I’ve lost my mind and perhaps it’s much too soon to be taking this mentality, but it’s true.   My son pinches me, tries to bite me, smacks me and when it’s time for bed at night, I no longer get a hug from him.   Last night, when I tried to get a hug, he smacked me in the face!   The nerve!

After putting my son to bed, I asked my husband why he seemed to be so apprehensive about staying home with Davey.

“No way.   I just don’t think I have your patience.   I’m home with him for two or three hours at night and I feel like I’m losing my mind!”

Do you know how happy that made me?   Maybe I shouldn’t be ecstatic about my husband’s anxiety and frustration, but I am.

Here’s the thing, and a LOT of people who’ve known me can attest to this, I’ve never really had patience before.  When I was pregnant it was a hundred times worse.   I actually went a little nutso on one of my co-workers and from that point on, he was afraid to come near me.   He wouldn’t even tell me goodbye on my last day.   So, to have my husband tell me that he doesn’t have my patience has just made my day.

I’ve actually replayed last night’s conversation over and over in my head today.   It’s made me smile.  It’s made me happy.   It’s made me feel good because it’s like getting instant gratification.   My son has changed me and it has been for the better.   I can’t see it, although I can feel it sometimes, but apparently those around me can see the change.

And by the way, I’ve since changed my mind about going back to work, at least for today.   So far, Davey hasn’t underappreciated me and when I ask for a hug, I get one with a nice little stroke of my hair.  Stay-at-home mommydom is working again.

Happy Anniversary

One year ago today I embarked upon a new career.   It was a career that I’d never considered before, but once I made the decision to switch things up, I eagerly counted the days until I could start my new life.  

I have to admit that it was completely new territory.   I’ve never voluntarily quit a paying job before especially if I didn’t have another one lined up.   I was nervous and a bit scared as to what may come into play.   Could I handle it?   How long would it take before I missed my old life?   How many people would judge me?   And then what about my education?   I have three degrees, one of which is a Masters and I was giving up all of that for the coveted Stay-At-Home mom role.  How exciting and intimidating. 

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t exactly imagine being able to keep this job for a month much less a year.   I worried about our finances and I worried about my state of mind.   Would I be bored?   Would I be overwhelmed?   Would I lose my sense of self?  I had numerous questions roaming through my head. 

I can still remember the first day.   Davey and I stayed in our pajamas the entire day!  I know, I know, way to be a good and productive stay-at-home mom, but I figured he and I both deserved a down day, a day for just the two of us to soak each other in and get used to the fact that we were going to be inseparable for a long, long time.  

A year later, I look back and reflect on how my life has changed, how enriched it has become, how truly thankful I am to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.   It was a decision I was doubting, one I was fretting over, but one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.  

Happy Anniversary to me and to Davey.   We’ve made it a year together, kiddo.   Here’s hoping for many, many more.