Tag Archives: parenting

Smiles & Beer at 9 AM. Practicing the art of “leaving the children”

Funny thing, when I tell people that my husband and I are going away I usually get one of two responses. I either get a “good for you!” or a “WTF?”. Rarely is there a reaction in between. That being said, I think leaving the kids is a GOOD THING. In my mind I’m teaching them some great life lessons and hopefully setting them up for future successful relationships. That could also be the beer talking….

With that being said, I give you the  7 reasons I think leaving my kids behind is beneficial.

1. First and Foremost Stampy and I are husband and wife. I used to laugh at the baby advice books that urged me not to neglect my husband. Maybe that’s because it told me that I should simultaneously be nursing a child, changing a diaper and fixing him a sandwich. (ok, maybe not quite that bad, but one was very much pro-serve-your-husband) Down to the nitty gritty it has a good point. To be successful parents and teammates you need to get along. How do you get along? By doing things that you enjoy without someone throwing food on the ground, whining or punching their brother.

2. We are strengthening the grandparent/grandchild bond. Yes, they do see them all week long but there’s nothing wrong with a little extra special one on one time with the grandparents. Even kids need a break from their mundane boring parents that are always telling them to brush their teeth, put their shoes on or go to bed. That is a win-win-win situation.

3. This trip was to run a 10K. The kids have watched us (me, really) train and go running. I think teaching hard work, exercise and goal achievement is one much more effective by showing them instead of telling them. Molly is also learning the art of losing gracefully and perseverance, when she sees that I never win a race but continue to try. However, she never hides her disappointment when she hears that I didn’t win. “Maybe next time, Mom”

4. I get two days without reading food labels. Two. Whole. Days. That only means that my food label reading skills will be rested and ready to go when I get back instead of getting half way through the store and realizing everything in the cart has not been checked. Now, everything will be double and triple checked. Thank you rested, non-autopilot brain.

5. I learn to tone down my Type A, hyper-controlling personality. In order to leave your kids and want the grandparents to do it again, you can’t hound them for every time they give Oreo cookies for breakfast. After all, it’s really not my problem when the sugar high kicks in and at least the kids are eating while I’m gone!

6. I can exercise and drink all before 9 AM. That is two things before 9 AM. Two fun things. Usually those two things are drinking cold coffee and losing my mind trying to get the kids ready for school.

7. I realize I miss the bickering and whining. Crazy, right? But removing myself from it actually makes me miss it (really, the kids) which helps me on the days when no one will listen to a word I say, I just think back and remembered that I missed this. I missed the insanity and wanted to come home to it.

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I am an “Allergy Mom”

At a party recently Nutter Butters were served. I knew they were going to be there. As an “Allergy Mom” I had spoken to the party mom before hand and sat my kid at the table with my eyes wide open. The mom next to me started to panic when she heard me turn down the passed treat saying “no thank you, he’s allergic”. She asked me questions about if it was ok for her son to eat the treat next to mine, did I want them to move, why can’t her son take peanut butter to school, etc. The normal questions that I’m always happy to answer. 

I wasn’t prepared for our next meeting. At her own son’s party she came up to me and said “I told my friend about what happened at the other party and she was shocked that you let your son sit there and that you were actually nice about it!”

I think that was a compliment.

I wanted to face palm.

“Actually nice”. Like it’s surprising that a mom of a child with food allergies is nice. Not the impression that we, as a group, really want to hear. 

It made me think. Why do we get such a bad rap? Why do we need to stand tall and shout and demand? Why as a group can’t we work together to educate others and enjoy life? Why is this such a battle?

I started to think about other groups of moms. Thanks to social media and the internet we have grouped ourselves off pretty well. We are Breast feeders, stroller users, cloth diaperers, extended car seat safety moms, baby wearers, co sleepers, formula feeders, and home-schoolers to name a few. In each case we have labeled ourselves by a CHOICE that we made and gathered up with others like us to discuss our bond. There will be arguments between those that wear their babies and those that use a stroller. Crib sleepers and Co-sleepers are sure that the other one will be killing their child and let’s not even talk about the breast vs. bottle debate. But here’s the thing, those in your group mostly agree. You have a united front.

This is not the case with “Allergy Moms”.

None of us chose this label. In fact, nobody wanted this label. We got stuck with this label. We are in a group we don’t want to be in with moms who aren’t anything like us in our parenting styles. Here’s where the problem begins. We fight with each other. There are so many food allergies, symptoms and sensitivities it’s hard to lump us into one group. These people over here don’t care about the “may contain” statement while these families only use allergy free factories. This group is allergic by contact while this group by ingestion. This group has been to the emergency room while this group only has testing that says their allergic. My head is starting to swim just thinking about all the categories I could list. Everyone has a different comfort level based on their experience and their doctor. No two “Allergy Moms” are the same. Without a united front, we are still alone, fighting for our child. We want to advocate but honestly, sometimes I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision. Sometimes, I just hope for the best. It’s hard to worry ALL.THE.TIME. It’s daunting. 

I can understand why the non-allergic world is confused by us. We all want safety for our children but we don’t agree with what is the best method. And if those of us that live it everyday can’t agree, how are we ever going to educate everyone else? How are we ever going to get others to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not? How can anyone understand any sort of protocol?

They can’t. And we can’t. 

So the next time you see one of us in high alert, instead of thinking “there they go again”, ask us. Ask us about our personal situation, our beliefs and our experiences that have led us to where we are today. That’s all we want, we want understanding and compassion for our situation. The one we didn’t chose. The one we live with every day.

40 days have come and gone

I.MADE.IT

We got off to a rocky start here, the first three weeks I was yelling once a week. Which was down from the three or four times it was. We hit that third week though and everything started to flow. Now about that time it warmed up about 20 degrees, days got longer and we could go outside. Might have had something to do with the change in my mood but either way, week three through six blew on by. I didn’t take those last three weeks basking in the sun though. Nope, we started potty training and we hit both kids’ (and mine) birthdays and two illnesses. We were busy. We were running. We were living.

I thought I would share a point when I noticed my change had occured. It was two days before mine and Molly’s birthday. I was working 9 hours that day, eleven the next and I had a birthday cake to make. Like all five year old girls, Molly wanted a Thomas cake and since Charlie has food allergies, Stampy and I were left to our own devices to make it. Things were going well that day and I had scheduled myself down to the minute. I knew if I could just get the cake in the oven, my mother-in-law could get it out as she was watching the kids. Turns out I had just enough eggs and cocoa to make one cake. I had just enough time to make one cake. ONE.CAKE. Dry ingredients go into the stand mixer and the rest is Charlie history. FYI, if you leave a stool next to the counter and if the stand mixer is near that stool, a three year old might climb on said stool and turn stand mixer to high. 
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Needless to say my already risen stress level went from 0-60 pretty quickly. Chocolate cake dry ingredients everywhere. Oh, and did I mention the eggs had already gone into the stand mixer?? Yup. My eggs, cocoa and time were now a dust storm all over my kitchen and three year old. He didn’t have much to say for himself other than “I’m covered in flour!”. I realized that I could yell about what just happened or I could accept what life handed me.
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I chose to accept what life handed me (seriously, I couldn’t yell at that cocoa covered face) and with that it handed me two awesome in-laws at that moment. That not only got new ingredients but baked a cake and cleaned my kitchen. Yup, that happened to. I was pretty lucky.

Did I mention we started potty training that little guy?? I’m sure more will come about that later.

3 weeks, the non-yelling continues

Sort of. Well, I’ve yelled 3 times. But only twice at the kids, once was really to no one in general. Maybe it was towards Stampy, but it was more I’m-having-a-nervous-breakdown-and-no-one-is-listening-to-me yell/cry. 

Either way, the bigger part is that I’m learning ways to control my mood when things really start to irk me and I feel like I’m losing control. These past 3 weeks have also taught me what really pushes my buttons and makes me want to start yelling at the kids. I now know what I need to learn to control. 

I need to control my urge to be on time. Nothing gets me riled up faster than being late. I hate being late. I hate when people are late in general. It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Want to put me in a bad mood, show up late. Of course a 3 and a 5 year old have no sense of time. At all. None. Since I’ve stopped yelling, we are now consistently one of the last people showing up for school which means my blood pressure is consistently up before 9 AM. It’s a good thing we live a half mile away or we’d be much later since I’ve been buckling my kids in to their car seats when we should be there. Today we were actually early, but Molly sat in time out twice before we got there. 

I need to watch Full House reruns more. That Danny Tanner rarely loses his temper, he has a lot of patience and good advice. I didn’t realize that back in the early 90s. I also didn’t realize how bad the fashions were. Nick at Nite is really good at reminding us what not to wear.

I need to exercise more. I really try to make it a priority but with work and 2 kids, it sometimes takes a back burner. However, I am much more relaxed and calm after a 3 mile run. I’m also too tired to fight. Yoga just makes me realize that things aren’t so bad. At least the kids aren’t asking me to bind while squatting.

The tickle monster needs to visit more. Really, you want to choose 5 minutes before walking to the car to argue about getting a cowgirl hat? That’s fine, I can’t hear you over the tickle monster. You don’t want to brush your teeth?? That’s ok, the tickle monster will do it. He doesn’t mind your silent crying and thrashing.

With a little over 3 weeks to go, I think I’m going to make it! Probably not without yelling again, but at this point at least the kids now know that when I yell, I mean business. Plus, I’m Italian. We yell sometimes. It happens.

Good friends, good food, good wine

Sometimes you only need one of the above, and sometimes you need all three. Yesterday was a day I needed all three. I didn’t see my breakdown coming. Usually I do. Usually I’m at the end of my rope, exhausted and it’s been building for days. I was not prepared for today. I’ve really reached a point where I comfortable with who I am and who Molly is. There are definitely days that are harder for others, but I understand her, I’m ok with just her being her.

There is however, the “A” word that hangs over us. Austism. There are times when I don’t need a diagnosis, why would it matter? We have the therapies we need, we have support, but we don’t have closure. It’s hard to gain acceptance for something you don’t have. Earlier this week I spoke with a mother of a child with autism and had a rude awakening. She asked very specific behavior questions all which I answered “yes” to. Never once did she hint that Molly was autistic, but I knew these were the same challenges she faced with her child. That was a hard day. No diagnosis also means I can stick my head in the sand and ignore what is often staring me in the face.

I was up half the night with the kids. First half of the night with Molly, second with Charlie. I’ll admit it, I was tired.

I wasn’t prepared for our playdate. In fact, I was underprepared. We were going to a familiar house, with familiar friends, what could go wrong?? We just went a birthday party and Molly didn’t even notice if I was there, she played happily with her school friends. And that is where I failed and that is why her quirkiness left us sitting in a chair crying. We may have gone to a familiar house but not everyone was familiar and Molly, well, she just couldn’t find her place. It was loud, there was a lot going on, she wasn’t quite old enough for the girls and was too much of a girl for the boys and she felt alone. Her inability to survive in the chaos echoed loud and clear into my heart and I wanted to help her, I wanted her to have fun, I didn’t want to be in the same place we always are and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t bring headphones, I didn’t have a suggestion that was suitable and I couldn’t go bossing around kids to play with her. I hate being in this situation. And while I was trying to hold myself together and figure out what to do next, I had help. I didn’t ask for it, but I got a hug and it was all I needed to break down and start crying. Then I got another pair of arms to hold the crying four year old girl and then I started crying more because it was nice to have help. And it felt great to just be loved.

Then I remembered there was a mom there I had only known for twenty minutes. And then another new mom came through the door. And then I felt slightly silly. They don’t know our struggles, they didn’t realize we had come so far and I was frustrated to be back at the starting point again, but we are all moms and we all struggle so I felt blessed that neither blinked an eye or skipped a beat. We poured ourselves some wine, started munching on some yummy food and I pulled myself together through great conversation.

It warms my heart to know we are both being raised in a community of acceptance and love. (and wine)

Everything changes

Most of my mom friends can agree that we don’t like change. And by “we” I really mean “our kids”. I live in a house with one child that could care less about changes. School? Whatever. Daylight savings? Bring it on. Christmas break? No problem. Then there is the other one. I recently wrote about a rough week where I had been bitten, punched, scratched, and more. But that post was only the tip of the iceberg. It was a 2 box month. Boxes of wine, that is.

Naturally, the first thing I ask when things go wrong day after day is “what has changed?”. The problem was everything changed. We stopped going to OT, we were discharged from behavioral therapy, it was Christmas, school was canceled, the list of changes never ended. Naturally we waited for school to start up again and our daily routine to kick in, but that didn’t help. We bought a sensory swing, that only somewhat helped. It left me scratching my head. What changed?

Then it hit me. Nothing changed for Molly, things changed for Charlie. Our little Charlie had a monumentous change that actually affected all of us. He stopped napping. Surprisingly Stampy and I loved that change. I never thought I would love the day we lost nap time but I do. I love not being bound down by the clock. No worrying about scheduling things around naptime anymore. We are free! That freedom though took away something special for Molly, her one on one time with us. Everyday when Charlie napped Molly got distraction free attention from us. We read, we played games, we did crafts, she watched TV while I played on Facebook and Pinterest, but it was quiet and down time. She lost that. She lost that special time, she lost that time to herself. Now her whole day revolves around sharing everything from toys to attention.

She didn’t like it. I can’t blame her. I miss my “alone” time too.

When the going gets tough

We’ve had a tough week. That might even be an understatement. In the past week I have been bitten multiple times, scratched, punched, kicked and had my hair pulled out. 

I wasn’t kidding. It was tough.

Oddly, I don’t feel that these are the times that test me as a parent. 

It’s easy to be patient and empathetic when your child is suffering. When she is so far gone that rational thinking is in another universe there isn’t much you can do but be patient. Also, two irrationally angry people rarely make good decisions. So I show her empathy hoping that she learns how to react when you are upset. I show that I love her at her worse. I show her forgiveness. 

Then I get the little girl that sat next to me at church this morning. Out of her element, unsure of her surroundings, scared, but holding my hand and snuggling into my leg. She didn’t let go the entire time. Although she rarely verbalizes her love, she embraces me when she’s scared and lets me know that she feels secure with me.

That’s when I know that I’ve made good decisions. It’s these moments that will give me the patience the next time things get tough.

 

A Week of Thanks

Every November I try to say what I’m thankful for on Facebook on each day of November. I’m not going to lie, we had a tough week this week but I still managed to start out being thankful for my kids today. In the grand scheme of things, they are pretty awesome, quirkiness and all. However, I feel like I had a lot of be thankful for this week and I feel like I should have started out giving thanks earlier than November first. So, I will share here what I was thankful for this week.

1. Yoga. On top of it’s breathing and relaxation techniques, I’m thankful for the flexibility and strength it has given me. Without out, I don’t think I would have been able to wrestle Molly into her car seat, twice, without all that extra bending ability and core stability.

2. Wine. This should go without saying, but I’m extra thankful for the nice people at Bota for putting it in box form. And making that box slightly classier than Franzia.

3. Radio. Nothing drowns out a child kicking and screaming than Top 40. To be honest, I don’t even know what I was listening to, I couldn’t hear it over the screaming.

4. Swedish Fish. I’m thankful to whichever neighbor gave us Swedish Fish in Charlie’s bag on Halloween. That way at every other house when he handed us a Snickers and said “open this” we could give him a fish and subdue him until the next house.

5. Sleep. I cut my coffee intake by half this week and although I feel much better physically and seem to have less brain fog, I can’t sleep. I’m thankful for it and hope it returns soon.

6. Preschool. Especially the aide in Molly’s class that peeled her out of the car kicking and screaming as if it was nothing and she was happy to see her. Let’s face it, we all know she was thinking “oh Jesus” or maybe not since it’s a Christian preschool but I’m sure whatever her thoughts were, they weren’t great. No one could be excited to have that child in that state being handed to them. I’m her mom and I would run the other direction.

So, there you have it. What I am thankful for this week. I wish I could be thankful for Stampy bringing home some food from his happy hour, especially a cheese plate, but I know that won’t happen.

Therapy Thursday: Expect the Unexpected

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Wow… today was a bit of a doozy. For starters we had a field trip to the pumpkin patch where Molly decided that she was terrified of picnic tables and had me hold her for the next twenty minutes. So, after being exhausted from tending to her all morning I decided for a nice quiet time activity. I’m tired and think I’ve hit the jack pot with a pumpkin painting activity so naturally there were tears (mine) and screaming (hers) and a time out (mine).

Anyone else have their 4 year old send them to a “calm down spot”? No? Oh, well, mine does. Honestly, I don’t mind the couple of minutes of quiet where no one bothers you.

I was super psyched that our social worker was coming today. I was having the internal struggle of meeting Molly’s needs and wants and feeling like I was failing big time at everything. Should I have carried her at the pumpkin patch? Did she really need fresh paints when hers mixed? Should I just have ended craft time before losing my temper??? I needed our counselor to talk me through it and keep me out of the wine. She listened then she questioned “what if this isn’t what a 4 year old should be doing?”.

Crickets chirp.

Oh. Even though I was having some concerns with some behavioral shifts, especially toileting and becoming more and more helpless, and the fact that her teacher had made more than one report home about some difficulty I was still telling myself that Molly was 4 years old. I also knew that in a lot of cases she is on par with Charlie emotionally, but it’s something else when it is put out in the universe. That looming question that I don’t have an answer for because I tend to dance around it on a daily basis. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer for it but I do know that what I have always suspected is right on. So I got over my punch in the stomach (which I asked for) and said “what do we do?”. For now we were given 3 options: do nothing and ride out this school year; have her retested through Child Find; or see the psychiatrist through our youth services bureau. I picked option 4: have our counselor talk with the teacher and observe Molly in class so we could make a more informed decision. Mostly because I don’t want to go through Child Find again and have her not qualify. The testing is long and exhausting for everyone and I can’t put us through that again and have the same outcome. It’s ridiculous.

So, that’s where we stand. Waiting. Waiting for an answer of where to go next. I have a feeling we will often be in this limbo with Molly so I should get used to it.

I ran a marathon…. relay

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That’s me, waving and smiling after running 7.3 miles. Crazy. Even crazier is the fact that I’ve probably never run more than 4 miles in my entire life and no more than 3 in my adult life. Did i I’m a terrible runner. I did it to prove something to myself but I also learned a lot on my journey (probably because I had a lot of time to think while I was running).

Here are a few things I learned from running:
1. Stupidity is contagious. Apparently when you voice your desire to run a long distance you instantly have 3 friends that are willing to do it with you. And everyone thinks it’s the best idea we’ve ever had.
2. When you sign up and pay money for something AND have people counting on you, it’s a lot easier to follow through.
3. I’ve moved from being a terrible runner to a slow runner and for the first time ever, I’m ok with that.
4. My kids love the playroom at the gym. In fact it’s one of the few places I can mention to get them to get their shoes on and out of our house in a timely fashion.
5. My husband actually knows something. Although I was hesitant to trust my runner husband to make a program for me, he did it, I followed it and it worked. 1 point for Stampy.
6. Running keeps you regular. Sometimes while you are running.
7. Running uphill gives you a butt. My town is all uphill. I can no longer fit into the skinny jeans that yoga blessed me with because I now have a big ass. I’m ok with that. In fact, I’m more in love with how I look after 2 kids than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
8. It feels good, really good, to do something for yourself. It’s a sense of accomplishment no perfect meal or craft time can give you.
9. This would’ve been much better if followed by some day drinking instead of running home to care for the kids. It also would’ve been better if the family had seen me finish. Maybe next year.
10. The same amnesia you have after childbirth, you have after running. I do remember thinking at mile 4 of 7 that I will never do this again but 24 hours later I’m considering a half marathon. Considering it.