Sunday, September 27, 2009

A wistful look back and a hopeful look forward.

It's coming, I know it's coming. The day that I'll have to clean out my office and say good bye to the program that I built from scratch. The Church has recieved resumes and are taking interviews sometime this week and next so there's a strong possibility that I'll be done by early November. This is good news. I know this is good news and I look forward to meeting my replacement and all that. I don't want to be working at this stage in my children's lives. I know that. I've made that decision. But right now it's hard to think about leaving that all behind me.
I was at Mini-Monet kids art group on Saturday and a little boy of about 5 was there. He and his little brother are something of regulars in that group and they are such fun kids. This little boy was especially gregarious today and had a lot of fun co-narrating the story with me. At the very end of the program, when all the toys had been cleaned up and the art supplies put away and his parents each had a foot out the door, he ran as fast as he could all the way across the room to give me a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. I smiled at his mom as he ran back to her.
It's stuff like this that I'll miss.
Children like this little guy love so easily. They show up ready to like and be liked. As long as you don't do anything to screw it up, they will love you. All you have to do is be there and be interested in them. There are other kids that are harder to get to know, they are shy and suspicious. You have to talk softly and respectfully to them and really pull them out of their shells. You have to give them time to adjust to your presence. Love is precious in all it's forms and never more so than when it comes from a child. I will miss being loved by those kids.

In other news, I am very seriously considering homeschooling my children. Pudding is only three but I know she's a smart cookie and I have already been planning on teaching her to read as early as next year however we are now considering expanding mommy's pre-k into something more exhaustive. I'm doing a lot of research and trying to talk Dilbert into considering it. I'm glad I have two years to make this decision and get him comfortable with it. Anyone out there have any opinions to share on this? I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Roller Coaster

It's highly amusing to me to look back at my previous posts because it seems that I am forever riding the extreme highs and the low lows of parenting. My kids make me kids are so sweet...they're making me crazy again...but isn't that cute.
I've been riding a bit of a high lately so when I look back at my last post and see how frustrated I was with Pudding only a few days ago, I feel like I'm reading something someone else wrote. That's not the daughter I dealt with today, that must be some other woman's bratty kid having to be dragged out of preschool.
This week has gone much better, partially because I've bribed her. Today when I got to preschool to pick Pudding up, I told her I had something special in the car for her and if she came with me nicely she could have it. It turns out that she didn't really want the half a muffin I'd saved her from my own afternoon snack but by then we were already in the car and she didn't really seem to mind.
All this reminds me of Parenthood, one of my all time favorite movies. Steve Martin plays the father of three, soon to be four who has never really learned to enjoy the ups and downs and general crazyness of children. Towards the end of the movie there is a scene where their three year old escapes the clutches of his parents and manfully defends his big sister from the imagined threats of her fellow actors in her school play. The child wreaks havoc and stops the production. While many of the parents in the audience find this hilarious, one mother is red faced and tersely yelling, "He's ruining the whole play!" Over all this action the sounds of a roller coaster play.
This movie and that scene in particular make more and more sense to me the older my kids get. You can't control every thing they do. Some days they are going to embarrass you and some days they will make you so proud you feel like your chest is going to burst. Parenthood is not for the weak of heart and learning to deal with that small stuff (it's only an elementary class play, you're there to see the kids be cute) and find the joy in it is the difference between enjoying the ride and screaming your head off for someone to let you off.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

That Mom

Have you ever seen that woman in the mall or grocery store or Walmart, especially Walmart, the one with the bratty kid that she's having to literally drag out of the store. The kid is screaming, hanging limp or kicking their legs and the mom's jaw is tight, her lips pursed and you just know profanity is running through her mind. That was me today.
Except I wasn't at Walmart, I was at the Pudding's preschool. Pudding loves preschool, loves it so much she doesn't want to leave. She thinks I am coming to drag her away in the middle of all the fun and that all the other kids get to stay and play while she is dragged away by a mean mean mommy. At least, that's what I assume is going through her little head, with a three year old, its' hard to tell. She's had preschool for the last three days and here's how it's played out on each day at 3:15.

Me: Hi Pudding, did you have fun?
Pudding: no, I don't want to go home!
M: I'm sorry to hear that, but it's time to go. Look, everyone else is going home too.
P: I don't want to go hooooooooome!
M: Well, we'll be back tomorrow/next week, say good bye to your teacher.
P: NO! You go away, I'll stay here!

This little bit of loveliness ends in me grabbing Pudding by the wrist, along with her backpack and any accumulated art work and marching her out of there. She fusses, cries and occasionally howls on the way out. Most of the time she will walk along but if I let her go for a second, say to hoist the Tyke back up on my hip, she darts back towards the school and her classroom.

While I'm glad that she likes school so much, how do I fix this. All the other kids seem to be happy to see their mothers and march along next to them, telling them about their day. Why is mine the only one who can't say goodbye and demonstrates it so vocally.
Any advice out there mommies? I'm tired of being that mom.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Down Side of Something Good

It is a good thing that I'm leaving my job. My kids need me at home, I need to be with my kids at this stage of their development in order to feel good about the job I am doing as a parent. Leaving the job is a good thing.
But it breaks my heart to think about leaving some of the kids I've worked with. Chances are I won't see them again once I'm done and this makes me weep. The question arises, will my replacement be able to love them as much as I have?
You see, I've come to understand that my gift is understanding kids. Some people are good with computers, some can juggle, I can do this. Most adults lose this ability when they cease to be children themselves but for some reason, I've kept it. I'm good at connecting with kids. I know this isn't a totally unique thing but it's rare enough that I worry that the next person who comes along won't have it and these kids will drift away from the church and never know it's balancing influence as they go through the tight wire act that is modern adolescents.
I worry that my replacement will not see what a good heart Johnny has underneath all his baby macho bravado. I worry that they won't recognize the sweet nature that lies beneath some gut wrenching insecurity in Stephany. I fear they won't notice what a clear, sweet voice Jose has along with a giving heart.
Bearing with the stereotypical trappings of childhood, my kids can be obnoxious, annoying, hyper active, loud and numerous other silly things that kids do. But these things are not who they are. Each one of them is this passionate little ball of potential that just gets ground to mush in school everyday. The kids work and work but no one is there to really tell them what lovable and fascinating people they are. These kids are the children of immigrant parents who work all the time and do the best they can but Church has become this special thing because it is so different from home and school. Here, they hear about how special they are and how much they are loved by a compassionate and forgiving God. They believe this message when it's coming from me because they can see that I love them and see that sweet child underneath the obnoxious tween. If someone were there just keeping the peace and telling the story, I don't think they'd buy it.
My own children will always be my first priority, always. But it is difficult to leave knowing that they won't understand why and no amount of explaining will make it clear to them. They will think I didn't enjoy my time with them, or that I didn't like them enough to stay. Like I said, this breaks my heart.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A good day

I had a good day today. It was one of those days when I am not pulled in a million directions but can simply focus on my kids and my home and do a good job with both of them. I didn't feel the need to constantly tell the Pudding to quiet down so that I could finish an email or to chase after the Tyke to keep him from putting his fingers into outlets while I update the web site at work. Today, I could just be a mom.
The Tyke went down for a long nap in the morning. I think he's making up for the crazy weekend we had traveling to PA for a wedding. He slept for nearly three hours. While he was napping the Pudding and I baked bread and when she got board with that she went to play in the little nest she's built in the living room. She crawls up on the couch which, along with the rest of our furniture, is pushed into the middle of the room because we are slowly painting it. She has this little cave there with some of her dollies and blankets and books all piled up in a specific order that only she knows. I love listening to her play like this. She talks to her dollies and tells them stories. She disciplines them when they are naughty and says how proud she is of them when they are good. And she nurses them. That's my favorite. She pushes up her little shirt and nurses whatever dolly, duck or bear she is playing with at the moment. I love it!
It's times like this, when I can bask in the reflected glory of the fabulous little person she's becoming, that I feel like a good mom. She repeats my words to her "darlings." She repeats my stories to them too. I can tell if she's watching too much TV lately if it comes up too often in those stories. It's like looking in a mirror on my motherhood.
When the Tyke woke up, we fed him lunch together, a pear cut up and peeled. The pudding kept him entertained by jumping in place and they both thought that was so hilarious that they cackled uncontrollably.
Tomorrow she starts preschool and we won't have this much time together to play and be silly. She won't have the time to follow her imagination wherever it leads. I'm glad I didn't work at Church today.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Birth Commentary and Puddings Birth Story

The Today show, that bastion of journalistic integrity posted this on it's show a few days ago. Go watch it and then come back for my pithy commentary.
Ok, you're back!
How many of you are scared to death that babies all over the country are dropping like flies due to mean, scary midwives who make a woman labor for 4 days without drugs?
My heart goes out to this family. I remember how it is, getting that nursery ready for that sweet baby girl, going through all those pink and fancy clothes, feeling every little kick and looking forward to the day you'll meet her. If that day had never come for me I would be devastated and I'd be out for blood.
However, I was lucky, that day did come for me and my own sweet baby girl is currently sleeping upstairs curled up next to her favorite hippo after terrorizing the Tyke, Dilbert and me most of the day. I was lucky because my baby was born alive and mostly well. However, I can relate to the feeling that the mother in the video had of feeling betrayed by her midwife.
The first midwife I labored with, I loved. I'd seen her for most of my prenatal checkups and I felt I connected with her. I'd read the material that the practice put out about what their philosophy of birth was and the Midwifery model of care and all that and that's what I thought I was going to get. Well, not exactly.
I came in with just some little tickle contractions, nothing compared to the real deal (I know that now). They'd been going all day but we'd been prodding them along all day, walking for miles, stimulating things, all kinds of craziness to keep those contractions going. I came in at about 9pm with these tickles and she thought it was enough for me to stay at the birth center. Then at midnight when I'd dilated to 3 (I know women who walk around for the last month dilated to 3) she thought it would be an ok idea to break my bag of waters. Seven hours later and still no baby, she thought maybe I ought to go to the hospital for an epidural because I couldn't seem to relax and let the contractions do their work. Oh, and she wasn't coming, another midwife was going to meet me there.
All of this was pretty far from the procedures I'd expected and what I'd read about in the literature. I hadn't asked her enough questions and I hadn't done enough research myself to learn that pushing labor ahead usually isn't a good idea, if contractions stop when you stop whatever you're doing, they aren't the real deal and speeding up labor isn't usually a good reason for breaking the bag of waters.
If I'd done the research and known those things and felt confident enough in myself to say "NO!" when these things were suggested, I might have had a very different birth and my daughter would have been born with normal blood sugar and pink hands instead of blue ones. The Pudding was cyanotic when she was born which means she wasn't getting enough oxygen between contractions because I'd gotten my epidural so I could relax and she'd gotten a big ole' dose of Pitocin so that the contractions were too hard and too close together for her to get enough of a breath. I shudder to think what would have happened had labor gone on longer. I also hadn't been allowed any food once we got to the hospital so the Pudding wasn't getting any calories that she needed either. They gave her glucose water in the nursery to fix this which insured that the first three months of breastfeeding were hell because she had nipple confusion.
I trusted my midwife too much and myself not enough.
But life was merciful this time and I got to keep my baby despite my mistakes. And they were my mistakes, it was my baby in there and my body that things were being done too. None of it was forced on me, I consented to all of it. If I didn't know better, that doesn't change the responsibility. Those were my mistakes.
I realize I've gotten off track here with talking about my first birth. The biases in this video are plentiful and you can see them for yourself. My personal favorite was that the "expert" (How the hell do you get to be an expert about birth without having done it and thus being a woman?) suggested that women ask their midwives if they carry malpractice insurance or if they have a back up OB. Do you care if your doctor carries insurance? I don't. If they screw up bad enough for someone to sue them, it's their own affair if they're prepared for it or if they loose their shirt in a lawsuit. My midwife(with my second baby) didn't carry insurance and told me so upfront. She said that if I had a problem with her care or handling of any situation I should come to her first and then do what I thought was best for my family. Luckily, we were very well taken care of the second time around so we didn't have to worry about any of that.
Here's the thing, cord strangulating happen. There is very little that you can do to prevent them and in fact I believe it's about 1 in 4 babies are born with the cord around their neck with no adverse affects. It is a sad, sad thing when this happens to a family and my heart breaks for them but lets not confuse causation with coincidence. This baby could just as easily been still born at a hospital as at home. NBC took a families tragedy and exploited it to make all homebirth seem dangerous and the practitioners of such, irresponsible. Homebirth is not extreme, it's not inherently dangerous. Life is both and many times we forget this or try to blame it one anyone at hand.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Adventures in Parenthood

I love my babies. I think they are hilarious, wonderful little people. Today when Pudding drew a caterpillar and gave it eyes and a mouth I was ecstatic. When the Tyke pulled himself up on the desk next to where I was working and gave me that "Holy Cow did you see what I just did!" look, I was thrilled. But I have discovered one thing about my children. They turn into holy terrors after more than 45 minutes in a church office.
You see I had to go into the office today. I'm leaving town tomorrow, there were some loose ends to tie up and there was no way to do most of it at home. So, I get up early, I get showered, I get the kids fed and cleaned up and then bundle them into the car with a minimum of fuss. We're on the road by 9am, a personal victory!
At 9:15 we hit traffic and my babies hate traffic. We sat in traffic, stopping and going and hollering for 45 minutes and finally got to the church around 10. When we get into the church there are some things that must be done in the far flung parts of the building. I have to retrieve something from the Sunday School room in the basement, I have to drop something off in the kitchen on the 2nd floor, etc. So I figure we'll do all of this running stuff first so that Pudding will be only too happy to sit down and color after a while of this. And it works. For 15 whole minutes things are quiet and handled. Pudding draws her picture, the Tyke crawls about and pulls up on things and I revise some marketing material that has to be out today.
Then something switches in their little heads, right around the time that I'm getting to updating the web site. I'm trying to edit and make sure my text doesn't sound inane and someone is pulling on me and someone else is making a break for the hall way to go pester those happy people with nannies watching their bratty children at home.
I stuck it out for another hour with the kids getting progressively worse as time wore on. The Tyke had to be on my lap for most of that time or he'd start yelling. When he was on my lap he was lunging for the keyboard or the phone and calling very busy people on the intercom. Meanwhile the Pudding is watching me tell her not to open the door as she is opening the door and running down the hall way to play in the library with the very old, expensive and fragile books. She won't touch the kids wall, only the old and irreplaceable.
We made copies, we got copies where they needed to go. The Tyke tried unsuccessfully to crawl the entire length of the hallway chasing the Pudding to the library. He was only unsuccessful because I caught him. Pudding took a stubborn turn and simply refused to walk down the hall to the office so that mommy could finish her work. Oh, and all of this craziness is taking place in the office that adjoins that of my boss.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In case there was any doubt

I was planning on going to work today. I was going to go into the office, set Pudding and the Tyke up with some toys and bang out a whole list of things that need to be done before this weekend. I got dressed this morning and got the kids dressed with this in mind. I fed them breakfast and said we had to hurry finishing it so we could go into the office. Then the Pudding showed her true three-year-old self and started pushing and shoving her little brother around, mewing like a cat when I told her not to and just generally being a brat. When I did the responsible parent thing and gave her a time out, all hell broke loose in her little mind and we hit full on tantrum pretty quickly. The work plans were scrapped.
This is why I'm leaving my job, so that I have the freedom to give my daughter the discipline she needs when she needs it so that she knows that certain things are just never going to be ok and Mommy is always going to be there to make sure the rules are enforced.
So for today, I'm working from home. I'll do some updates on the web site, come up with a flier, send a few emails, but that's about all. Today I'm working at home because I am needed more there than anywhere else.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nothing left to say

Through the glories of facebook I happened upon a long lost ex-boyfriend whose breakup with me was particularly brutal. I was very young at the time which only made it that much worse because stupidity never really helps these situations.
Well, this person, shortly after our breakup 7 years ago, dropped off the face of the earth. I didn't know where he was, if he was still alive, I couldn't get a hold of him, he completely cut ties with me. He had resurfaced a year later with a few emails and a phone call but then he dropped off the face of the earth again.
Around the time I was meeting and beginning to fall in love with my husband, he resurfaced again but obviously nothing came of it and I've moved on. I married my dear Dilbert, had two beautiful children and we've built a life together. Still, every now and then, during a rare quiet moment I would look around online for this person. I never found anything about them, never really expected to. So when I came across his picture of FB, I felt like I'd been slapped in the face.
I don't really know why I did the search, I guess I'd always sortof wondered what happened to him. As uncomfortable as it is to say, at one point a very silly version of myself was in love with this person and even though he broke my heart, I'll always wish him well. Not well anywhere within a 100 mile radius of me but well nonetheless.
So, I found him and I sent him a message, we messaged back and forth for a little while, trading info on where we are now and what we're up to. We left the conversation open ended, saying that if either of us felt like talking again or becoming friends that would be ok. Neither of us has made a move thus far. I guess there is simply nothing left to say.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Surrendering to the Stereotype

The Tyke had his 8 month check up today. They weigh, measure, poke and prod him to make sure he's exactly where he's supposed to be which is something I already know. He's perfect but getting him and his sister in and out of the Dr.s office is not. Allow me to give you a rundown.
Of course the Tyke fell asleep in the car on the way to the office so getting him out of the car is twice as unpleasant because he wakes up when I adjust the sling around him. Pudding sprints into traffic the second her feet hit the ground and when I yell at her the Tyke starts to fuss. Off to a great start.
We wait in the waiting room for nearly half an hour while the Tyke alternately distroys my hair or ruins my shirt. He does this in the most loving way possible with cute little baby noises that mean "I love you, Mommy" and "I'm so happy you're holding me." Lots of fun.
While the Tyke is destroying me, the Pudding claims that she is tired and wants to snuggle up next to me and sleep. So there we are on the love seat in the waiting room, one on my lap, one next to me, probably looking like everyone's nightmare of motherhood.
Then we get back to the exam room. The Tyke is measured for height (29 inches, HUGE!) and head circumference. The nurse and I had to double team him for both of these. When Pudding was a baby, I always wondered what all the fuss was about. Then we weighed him which means no diaper (21.5 lbs!) and while the nurse had stepped out to find a watch and I was fussing with the new diaper, the Tyke peed all over my leg and onto the floor. This was mere seconds before the diaper was ready. This is one of the downsides to using cloth diapers, if you use the prefolds they do take a second to assemble and apparently this was a second that the Tyke didn't have. So, I clean my leg up and the floor, and my shoe and the nurse comes back in to take his pulse (that's what she needed the watch for). When she leaves I have a few moments with the kids during which the Tyke finishes the job of destroying my hair and spits up all over my other leg while he's giggling at the Puddings dancing. By the time the Doctor actually sees us, I feel like a dishrag.
Luckily our Doctor is a mommy too, she only works three days a week and totally gets how freaking insane mothering is sometimes. I told her that the Tyke was cruising around furniture and that he feel off the bed this morning (he landed on some laundry, he's fine) and she told me about her daughter rolling off the clothes dryer. It's silly but it makes me feel better.
On our way out I grab Pudding a sticker and we make it out the door. As soon as we hit the sidewalk Pudding darts towards traffic and I see myself as though I'm someone else. I see an overweight woman with a crazy ponytail hanging on by a thread, a big baby on her hip and a big purse on her elbow pulling out the scary mommy voice and screaming at a toddler bent on self destruction. I see this woman getting into a mid-sized SUV with a profusion of water bottles, Sunday School take home sheets and old Starbucks cups on the floor. I see her buckle her kids in and give one of them a talking too about running into traffic then I see her very firmly shut the back door. Before she gets into the front door I see her attempt to collect herself.
My formerly childless self would probably have judged this woman harshly. I probably would have thought something along the lines of "Why did you even have children if you don't enjoy them" or something ridiculous like that. The thing is, I did enjoy that little outing with my little ones. When I reread the things I just wrote, I know none of it sounds very fun but, asside from the darting toward traffic bit, I enjoyed the time with my kids. I enjoy seeing the Tyke progress up the growth chart and seeing how protective of him the Pudding is. I enjoyed how all the nurses Ooh'd and Aah'd over how beautiful my babies are. I enjoyed getting mauled by my beautiful little Grizzly because I know he only does it when he's feeling the love. Yes, I yelled at the pudding but to my way of thinking, she needed a yelling at so that she will know that darting into traffic is never a good idea and mommy is never going to think it's ok. So I guess I fit the cranky suburban housewife stereotype pretty well. I'll have to learn to be ok with that.