Category Archives: mommyhood

babies and toddlers and kids, oh my!

A Toast To A Bittersweet Ending

Here I am, sitting on my school laptop, on my very last day at school.  It’s definitely bittersweet – with a little more bitter than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong… it is SWEET! But I have a few tears in my eyes as I think about this part of my life drawing to a close. I have made some sweet friends here, ones I hope I don’t lose.  I have gained a lot of experience, professional and personal, that I plan to be able to use again once my kiddos are all in school and I’m back in the teaching saddle. I love this school. I love the kids. I love the parents. I love the staff. But things are changing; there was bound to be an overhaul here, and I just happened to go out right at the time of the changes. Maybe the timing was for the best – God knows what I need, so I guess it really is.

But I will say this: It’s been long and hard. In some ways, it’s gotten easier (my feet are wet, I know what I’m doing, and I’m more comfortable in the classroom every single day). In a lot of ways, personal/family-wise  (being a working mom, nursing while working, missing milestones, scheduling around my work and Hubby’s work) and job-wise (lack of job security in NC, frozen pay scale, more and more requirements with no return) it’s gotten harder every year. I’ve been out on two maternity leaves with barely any pay (if you’ve taught less than ten years, you don’t have much time accrued to spend on long-term leaves), I’ve breastfed babies after going back to work, one of whom (EK) didn’t nurse.  I’ve missed first steps, giggles, get-togethers, and family time. Lord, how excited I am to be around for all of that. To nurse my baby several times a day instead of pumping all the time. To see J crawl, and then walk for his first times. To take EK to her first day of preschool instead of just hearing about it from Hubby. I’m going to be a full-time mom! Woo!

So, in honor of the day my life is totally changing, a toast. I likely will be toasting this with Hubby, with a drink in my hand, around 3:00pm today. Here’s to God’s timing being perfect, to working moms who are missing things, to stay at home moms who are sacrificing everything to be home with their little ones, to teachers in the trenches who do way more than they get paid for, and to my family, who supports me, loves me, and makes it possible for me to do what I love. Cheers.

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and to the silly ones that make my life complete.

Morning Cuteness

Here’s a little background information on EK to make this story a little cuter.

As soon as she started sleeping through the night, she started sleeping late. I mean… really late. There were times she’d sleep till 10:30am. It didn’t even ruin her nap for her to do it! She’s always been a great sleeper. This (calendar) year, she has gotten a brother, moved to a big girl bed, and stopped sleeping so late. The “spring forward” really screwed us big time.  What had been happening was she’d wake up around 7 or 7:30, roll around a little, play with her animals a little, and fall back asleep. I was always gone for work, and Hubby sleeps hard and sleeps late, so he wouldn’t hear her if she wasn’t making a LOT of noise.

When she moved to a big girl bed (it’ll take a whole post to explain how that went down), at first she didn’t even realize she could get out by herself.  She did pretty much the same thing she had done in her crib. But soon, I knew she’d figure it out. She typically gets up, comes and gets in the bed with Hubby and me, rolls around, brings in 17 books and reads them, plays on our phones, and MAYBE goes back to sleep for a few minutes. If it’s before 6:45 or so, I put her back in her bed and tell her to try to get back to sleep. Often, she is content to lay quietly with us and snuggle till we get up. Sometimes, she’s running around the house, screaming like a banshee, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeat! Foooooooooood! Juuuuuuuuuuuuice!” I don’t know where she gets her food-related impatience from. *bats eyes*

This morning, J got up a little earlier than usual, about 7. He typically sleeps till 8. His sleeping hasn’t been as good this past week, because he’s rolling to his belly, and then can’t get back over to his back. So I went in, changed his diaper, and hunkered down in the (La-Z-Boy) nursing chair with my coffee and a book to nurse him back to sleep. Usually if he’s up early, the first time he eats he’ll snooze a little longer. After a few peaceful minutes, I hear EK’s door open. Pitter patter… Pitter patter. J’s door opens; a tiny face peeks in. Cue her face-wide grin that I can’t get enough of.

She tiptoes over to us, points, and says, “Baby!” because it’s the only thing she will call J.  She scratches her chest (I think she gets it from Hubby), looks down, realizes her pajamas were actually just a t-shirt last night, and looks up at me in surprise.  This is where it gets really cute: she throws up her index finger, in the “I have an idea!” way, says “Pants!” and runs out of the room. She comes back in with a pair of pants she’s been dying to wear that are still too big (long-waisted, skinny gal that my daughter is).

Trying to distract her from the pants so I can hide them again, I tell EK to bring me a diaper and wipes so I can freshen her up. J is too distracted now to nurse anyway – he’s a typical lazy guy. She brings me these items, and also the pants (how does she keep getting them?!) so I go ahead and change her diaper and put on the giant pants. Then I have an idea: What if I can find a makeshift belt? She’d be so happy! The first thing I think of is ribbon – no way, packed up in the basement, and it only comes out at Christmas. Then I spot a Mardi Gras-style beaded necklace on the floor. I grab it, and wind it through the loops on the too-big, turquoise jeans with anchors, because my daughter is super trendy. Immediately, I see on her face (“Belt! Belt!”) that I’ve made her morning.  She hasn’t even asked me for juice yet, so I know I’ve been blowing her mind with this belt thing. Honestly, it didn’t even work (there’s still a huge gap), but she’s got shiny beads attached to her favorite pants she’s never been able to wear. So what does she do? Go running and yelling into our bedroom to show a snoozing Hubby her new belt.

This, folks, is the reason I wanted to stay home with my kids, at least for a little while, at least while they’re tiny.  When I have to be at school at 7:30 and I have late sleepers, I miss these cute morning antics.  Mornings are the most easygoing hours for most kids, and I’ve been so sad to miss what happens. Hubby is great about sending me sweet photos of morning snuggles, playtime, or silly breakfast happenings. But I am so blessed that we have decided I can stay home and experience them for myself.  A teacher friend of mind gave me the best advice I’ve heard yet: “You’ll never regret staying home with those babies.  Even if you have to eat pork and beans for dinner every night, you’ll never regret a minute.” So yes. I’m doing it.  And I’m a happy mama.

She obviously isn't wearing "the pants" but this captures her fashionista personality perfectly.
She obviously isn’t wearing “the pants” but this captures her fashionista personality perfectly.

Mom Fail #294838

It’s high time I posted some #momfail humor!  First, a little background info… I have an amazing mother-in-law, Anne.  My hubby and I are blessed with great in-laws that get along with us and get along together. (It makes holidays and birthdays MUCH easier that way.)

Anyway, one afternoon Anne came over to our house to help us get our laundry under control. (Laundry is our #1 parenting plight. In a family of 4 clotheshorses, we are constantly drowning in either dirty or clean-but-not-yet-folded clothes.) Anne and I were sitting in the floor of EK’s bedroom, folding her clothes and stuffing them into drawers.  Hubby was cleaning the kitchen, with J in his bouncy seat in the floor.  EK was running around the house, bringing toys from one room into another and back again.  Anne was being her sweet, encouraging self, and telling me what a good job parenting Hubby and I were doing (oh, just wait).  She was saying how compassionate and obedient EK is, and all sorts of other sweet things about Hubby and me.

After a few very productive minutes of chatting and folding, I realize it’s too quiet.  Parents of toddlers, I’m sure you’re all cringing right now because you know what that means.  All of a sudden, I hear a huge thud – like a noggin hitting the floor – and EK cries out.  I rush to the hallway, and see her lying on the floor… the wet floor.  Now, my first thought is a spilled glass of water; Hubby and I are sometimes bad about leaving our water glasses within reach.  I scoop her up to my chest and comfort her, ask her where she hurts, etc.  Upon inspection, I realize that there are little pieces of wet, white stuff on her clothes and on the floor.  Then I follow the trail… to the bathroom… and to the toilet.  And then I gasp.  I manage to maintain calm (sort of).  I assess the toilet situation as way too full to flush (the better part of a roll of toilet paper was inside), so I call on Hubby to take care of the bathroom.  I take off EK’s clothes.  I take off my clothes (because I’ve been clutching her sniffling self to my chest, and am now covered in toilet water).  I look down the hallway, and see a trail of water and mushy toilet paper leading to the kitchen.  Where in the kitchen, you ask? Why, with my then 3-month-old son in his bouncy seat, of course.  Hubby says, “I saw her playing with him, but didn’t realize she was wet!”  Codswallop, in my opinion (forgive me that HP reference).  After we are showered, floors are cleaned, and naps are in progress, I have a good laugh with Anne.  There I had been, glowing with pride as my success as mother is praised, as my toddler played in the toilet, trailed the water all over the house, and then slipped in it.  It felt like an epic #momfail, but then again, everyone is fine and we have a hilarious story to tell.

I want to hear about your most recent #momfail too!

Sharing Isn’t Caring

Before you read my (rant-type) post here, go read this article: Why I Don’t Make My Son Share

 

The principle here is that forcing kids to share their toys, etc with other kids may not be instilling niceness in them.  It may be instilling a sense of entitlement.  Instead of forcing kids to give up what they’re playing with, or to let another kid have a turn, they should be able to play with a toy until they’re finished playing with it.  I have witnessed stories like the ones the author shares.  I might have even been one of those moms (hopefully not as rude) asking for her daughter to be able to have a turn.  However, I know that if Ella Kate wants to play with something another kid has, I don’t ask the kid to give it up.  If they can play together, I might suggest that.  But I just don’t think I would take a toy from another kid just because “It’s Ella Kate’s turn.”

How do you feel about this method?  Are you a share mom?  How would you feel if your child’s preschool had the same policy?

Your Best Is Good Enough

You know who is an expert? Not me. Oh LORD, it ain’t me. Not for one minute on any subject at any time. You know who else is an expert? Not you. Not her. Not them. No one. There isn’t a single person who knows all the ins and outs of every situation. Not a friend, not a family member, not a parent, not even a spouse knows how you feel, how you think, or exactly how you tick. When I have a question about how to handle my toddler, or how to soothe my teething infant, or how to finally let go of some frustration I’ve been clinging to for a few days, want to know who I ask?  My mom. My best friend. My hubby. All of the above and more. I ask every mom, every wife, everyone I trust. They all have a different answer to my question. I ask them to pray for me, to pray with me. And beyond that, I let my “Mama Bear” instinct (yeah, you know what I’m talking about) take over and hope for the best. All I can do is my best. There isn’t any more. My best is good enough; it MUST be good enough. And then I praise the Lord – because He fills in the gap where my best falls short.

When I think of that post going around Facebook right now about the woman who left her son in the car while she went in the store to buy headphones, my heart hurts. Not because I agree or disagree with her choice.  Not because I would or would not have done the same thing. My heart hurts because I know she did her best. Her best was clearly different than the videotaping bystander’s best. But you know whose best that kid needed? His own mom’s. The woman whose best has been given to him, I’d bet all my money, since day one.

I really get teary when I think of the “I Support You” movement that is happening among moms. You know, the breastfeeding-till-age-5 moms holding handwritten signs that say, “Formula feeding mom: I support you!” and vice versa. Finally, we all get it. Your best is the healthiest thing! Your best will nourish your baby!  I truly think that movement has been a long time coming, and much needed among the often dramatic and pushy collective of mothers.

So, to all of you – moms, wives, sisters, daughters, colleagues, strangers, and friends – be encouraged. Do your best, because your best isn’t shameful. Your best isn’t lacking. Your best is awesome. Your best is beautiful in the eyes of your Maker.

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Here is my best. Ella Kate and Joseph are the best I have ever done, or could ever do.

Doing Life Together

One thing that I feel personally blessed to have in my life is mom friends.  Don’t get me wrong- my single friends, my married-without-children friends, my dude friends, I love them all.  But there’s such a built-in sense of camaraderie, of “oh my gosh, that just happened with us, too!” with these women.  Their kids are just as crazy as mine, they’re just as tired as I am, and they feel just as privileged to be raising their little humans as I do.

On the days that I get to have a “playdate” with one or more of these moms, I always feel a little better about how I’m doing as a mom, but not in the way it sounds.  I don’t mean that I am a better mom than she is.  I mean that it’s encouraging to see another mom, doing her best, loving her kids in her own way.  There is hope for humanity.

One such playdate was on Monday afternoon, at my house.  Two of my mom friends from church, Stephanie and Abby, brought their little humans to play together, and so we could hang out with each other.  Total, there was  a 4 year old boy, a 2 year old girl, a 1 year old girl, a 5 month old boy and a 3 month old girl.  Even in the different stages of these kids’ development, they played very well together (or rather, some played and some just lounged around).  And the moms?  Well, the three of us get to share some stories (hilarious or sweet), complain about our difficulties (weird nap schedules and spit up woes) without fear of judgement, compliment each other on jobs well done (we all have cute kids, ya know?), and compare some parenting strategies (that day’s topic: using baby sign language).

Time spent this way is so valuable for moms specifically, but really for women in general.  It’s nice to spend intentional time with people in the same stage of life as you.  Whether that’s grad school, newlywed, new mom, first grandchildren or retirement, being able to sympathize and empathize with another woman who knows where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed next is one of the most wonderful experiences.  Knowing you are not alone.  Knowing you will get to the other side of it.  Knowing you will survive.  Knowing you’ll look back and think (as my wonderful mother-in-law often reminds me), “That stage wasn’t nearly as long as it felt when I was stuck in the middle of it.”

I thank the Lord every day for the many women that I get to “do life” with.  The women that encourage me.  The women that I encourage.  The women that I connect with every time we are together, even if it’s months in between those times.  These are the women that I aspire to be like.  Moms in the trenches, take heart!  We’re doing life together.  How did you connect with the women you get to do life with?  How does it help you in your walk?

Ella Kate (2yrs), Elliott (3mo), Joseph (5mo), Abigail (1yr), Nathan (4yrs)
Ella Kate (2yrs), Elliott (3mo), Joseph (5mo), Abigail (1yr), Nathan (4yrs)