Saturday, February 26, 2011


Charlie seems to be entering the time of life that leads to lots of triggers for horrors long past for me. (FYI-horrors might be a tad strong but scans nicely.) I've been working hard to make sure to keep my baggage separate from my parenting but it's a tough thing.

Charlie's getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. At least I hope he is. We have a conference with his preschool teacher in a couple of weeks in which she will give her learned opinion. I'm fairly confident he's more than ready academically but I worry about his social skills. At the same time, as I told my husband, I'm not sure the social skills he needs learning will be acquired any more smoothly in another round of preschool than they would be in kindergarten. His main downfall is assertiveness and I actually think his best tutor there is his sister, anyway. However, the lack of assertiveness brings us to the first issue...

Charlie likes to run in large circles. I occasionally worry just a tad that it indicates some sort of psychological something but I think it's actually a little boy version of pacing which his father does all the time and while my husband can be quirky, he's psychologically sound. Anyway. Charlie was running around and has his mittens attached to his coat with the little elastic clip things. This makes the mittens flap in the wind in a manner quite alluring to other little people feeling a hankering to play "chase." The upshot was that the mitten holder got ripped off and mommy did a bit of sewing over the weekend. There was rather more to the issue involving a game about good and bay guys and a jail but what it came down to was that Charlie was a victim of bullying. It was bullying in the most innocent sense. I don't think the other children had any concept of intimidation. It wasn't a terribly targeted thing. But, Charlie was also completely unable to stick up for himself. His concept of yelling consists of that fake sort of yell they do on the very genteel cartoons I allow him to watch where it's really just someone pitching their voice a bit higher. We've been practicing talking like Mommy does when she's being very stern but it still worries me about kindergarten. Charlie tends to play by himself, isn't terribly aggressive (I think he's hit Megan once in his entire life and that was when she was 3 weeks old and I think was actually a misguided attempt to play) and isn't all that assertive. He's also not terribly socially aware when it comes to pecking order and so on. The social awareness is actually a nice protective factor at the moment. He is relatively immune to teasing and verbal sorts of bullying and taunting. He tends to not even register those sorts of things. But, all of these things make him a more likely target for physical bullying.

Of course, this brings back all the bullying I experienced at various times. I'm much better at dealing with those sorts of issues now. I have a lot more confidence in myself and that helps a lot. But, it still makes it a squirmy sort of thing and I still worry a lot that I have no real idea of how to model how to not get bullied.

And So It Goes

A friend called me a couple of months ago, horribly frustrated that her daughter still wouldn't accept milk from a bottle. I was puzzled, knowing that her daughter was starting solids and the difficulties of feeding a breastfed, bottle refusing infant were soon to be a distant memory. After a day or so, I remembered what it was to be a stay at home mom with your first 5 month old. There is a feeling that you will never again leave the house again for any significant length of time without a baby attached to you, that you will never again see a movie in a theatre, sleep through the night, go on a date with your husband, take a long bubble bath or a nice dose of badly needed nyquil again.

I am now in a similar spot myself. Although, the lucky part is that this is my 3rd time around. While doing this several times in quick succession has it's own downfalls, an upside is that you haven't forgotten all that much and what you did, returns quickly. Of course, knowing you have been lost in this location before is only the barest help when trying to remember how, exactly, you managed to find your way home the last time. I have joked with friends that God must have known this would be my last baby and so sent one that would give me plenty of baby-ness so I could really get my fill. Noah continues to only sleep for any length of time while being held. So, his naps are in the rocking chair (when we are home for them, which is somewhat hit or miss and probably part of the problem) and night sleep is next to me. This periodically causes me a complete and total panic as we are solidly in the aforementioned stage. Part of me thinks that he will never leave my side, my bed, or my breast. I question why in the world I have let this go on so long and What Sort Of Mother lets herself be pushed around by a 6 month old and I must Take Steps. At the same time, I have to say that mothering a 4, 2, and 0 year old kind of takes it out of you and I sort of like sitting in the rocking chair for an hour or so in the afternoon and I'm not completely sure I wouldn't be wanting to go to bed at 8:30 anyway. I also keep remembering that I have never had a good experience with any permutation of cry it out and Noah, in particular, seems like a child who will do things when he decides to do them come what may. I think the day is fast approaching when I will start making a go of crib sleeping again for naps- the poor child never manages to get a full nap in and I suspect that's a large part of the reason he is known as "Angry Baby" but I'm willing to let it ride a while longer.

In summation...experience is a lovely thing but apparently every baby is different. Curses!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

You're Doing It Wong

Does anyone else remember that line or even the movie? It's from Mr. Mom, made in 1983 when the whole stay at home dad thing was considered Teh Wacky and Ripe Comedy Fodder.

Anyway, I spend a lot of nights, just before falling asleep reflecting on the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong most of the time. I came to the conclusion that was why I'm so dedicated to breast feeding. It's one of the very few (singular?) times in parenting that you can feel quite confident you are doing it the one best way. There are lots of valid reasons to not breast feed but breastmilk, from a primary caregiver, exposed to the same pathogens the baby is, is really the way the whole baby eating thing is set up to work. Also, at this point, I'm pretty good at pulling it off. I can manage breastfeeding Noah come what may. I have breastfed in bars, in Church, wearing all manner of clothing in all manner of positions in front of pretty much the entirety of humanity. But, after the whole infant nutrition thing, I'm at a complete loss.

First, there is no cut and dry. Sleep-how much, when, where, and how achieved is veritable land mine. Vaccinations, organic vs local vs what's on sale vs homemade, diapering and the whole pthalate thing are industries unto themselves. And these are only the controversies that have arisen in the last few years. Add on the long term parenting ebbs and flow and I'm a complete basket case.

Then there come the many things I am pretty sure I should do but can't figure out how to pull off. For instance, I feel pretty strongly that kids should play outside as often as possible but weather appropriate for a 6 month old is often radically different from what is appropriate for a 4 year old. Also, it gets a little boring to do the monitoring... And, I should be hugging and cuddling Charlie more. I feel perpetually guilty about is since he is a bottomless pit of cuddle need. At the same time, I am touched All The Time by Noah. He still doesn't so much tolerate sleeping alone (a whole area of angst in itself) and doesn't much like being put down in general and then factor in the whole issue of Megan not being so great at the baby on the floor awareness. So, when I say all the time, I mean roughly 20 hours a day in close contact with a small human. The idea of cuddling with another small human sounds great in theory but in actuality, I am soooo touched out. I have to say, I think Erica Jong makes a point with this article, I do feel slightly oppressed by the whole attachment parenting thing. At the same time, I'm not really willing to put up with the hysterical sobbing that has occurred with attempts to not do the attachment parenting method either. I don't think it's the way all kids are but it does seem to be the way mine are wired. And then, I worry that my insecurity about my parenting will lead to my children being less confident. My mind at 2 am is a wonderful place to be...

I try to remind myself that children are actually really resilient. I try to remember that there are lots of ways to be a great mom. I spend a lot of time reminding myself of Babies. I found it to be less than representative of the US style of doing things, if accurate in the broad strokes so I took the other cultures' footage with a grain of salt. But, I also remind myself that if it was at all accurate, kids in Mongolia and Namibia are raised in radically different ways and those cultures haven't collapsed. Once the children become adults, they don't seem to need massive levels of psychotherapy. Although, I will say that I was totally ok with the Namibian style but had a number of qualms about the Mongolian style of parenting. This also makes me wonder what's wrong with me because the general gist of the reviews is that this is simply my overly attentive western thinking but I just can't see to it being ok to leave a baby to by himself for an hour or so while I run errands no matter what the culture- are there no Grandmas in Mongolia? Anyway, I remind myself of all of this; that there are lots of ways to be a fantastic mother. But, I also wind up wondering if other moms feel this way. I wonder if other moms have always felt this way.