Monday, April 29, 2013

The journey to loving different children differently yet the same



Even before Kenzi was born I worried as a mother how I would have the capacity to love two little girls the same, as I loved the first little girl more than I had ever imagined it possible to love someone. I guess that's one of  the wonderful things about love. It has no capacity and the more we love the more we grow.

I worried about this before Kenzi was born because Averi was loved so much by everyone. She was perfect; don't we all think our first one is perfect? As much as she's a very mischievous child she was such an easy baby, toddler, little girl. She was a very happy baby, and so many people besides us just adored her. When I found out I was having a second girl I worried that she would always feel like she was in her sister’s shadow and that she was not loved as much as her sister. Once she was born my worry over her increased SOOOO much more.Her first night, her and I cried ALL NIGHT LONG. I don't think I will ever forget that night sitting in that dark, hospital bed alone with my screaming baby while the rest of my family (Nate and Averi) were at home. I was so afraid the frustration I felt at my new baby so shortly after her birth was already damaging her. She was inconsolable. I missed Nate and Averi and all Kenz wanted to do was eat and then she'd cry some more. I got little sleep; I remember waking up to a scolding doctor because I feel asleep with my baby in the bed. I know. Big no no! Just add it to the bad mother list.

Then I brought her home and she cried and cried and still kept crying. Even my mom at that time seemed a little concerned for my sanity with such a difficult baby. I loved her but there were a lot of times I wasn't sure if I liked her. And my husband he had no idea how to deal with her. I had no family around to give me that mental reprieve I probably so desperately needed at times so I felt in order to overcompensate for all the positive attention Averi always got and all the frustrations Kenzi received, I would at times find myself short or hard on Averi since everyone seemed to have patience with her but not for Kenz. I felt I was the only one that had patience with her and so in some weird return way I then turned that impatience I didn't want to have towards Kenz  towards Averi. Am I making any sense? Anyway I felt trapped in this weird, am I being way too psychologically analytical in the way I love and treat my two totally different children.

So for quite awhile after the birth of my second daughter I had this crazy mommy guilt of how to love both my daugthers equally. I don't think it was until a year later I started to see things differently.  I still do worry about her but as I see her growing and becoming her own person, I worry less and less.  I would as her mother slowly come to learn I love my children differently because they are different people; the same way I love my mother differently than my father; the same way I love my two sisters differently, but I still love them all the same. If I had to choose between my parents, between my sisters, between my two daughters I wouldn’t be able to choose. I love them both more than myself, more than anything. In the ways that one was difficult, the other one was easy and vice versa. Kenzi is the best kid ever about laying down for nap or bedtime; whereas, I'm pretty convinced Averi is the worst kid ever about going to bed. Averi is very affectionate and loves to cuddle; whereas, if you get a cuddle from Kenz you just want to squeeze and squeeze because she gives them so rarely. One whines and cries about things and the other just flat out fights back. I worry that one is going to get hurt because she loves and trust in everyone too easily; I worry that the other will get hurt because she pushes people away and doesn't warm up to strangers or new things as fast. They are two totally different girls but I love them the same because they each have different things that make them the Averers or the Kenzer that I can't wait to see and kiss on at the end of each day.

They each have character traits I adored that the other doesn't really have. I can see parts of myself and my husband in each of them in different ways. There are different things about each of them that I will love as they grown into the women they will become. There are things they both do and will do that will drive me absolutely crazy! And after talking to friends this weekend, I see too that you sometimes parent the way you parent because your kid is a certain way. Averi is not a routine kid; she is extremely flexible, go with the flow, very much like her dad. Kenz on the other hand is more like my family and has to have routine and structure. I could tell you her schedule; Averi I feel like has never had a schedule. She sleeps during the night; she's awake during the day, and she eats two to three meals a day. Kenz I could give you time slots for everything. They are both very independent girls, but Kenzi even more so in some ways. They look like sisters some days, but not so much on others. They each have their own features, and even though it took Kenz a little longer to grow her hair (and I'm sure I'm totally biased) they are both gorgeous girls and going to give their daddy fits later.

But as I watch Kenz run to us now to hug our legs, toddle towards us with her arms raised going "mama" or "dada", or walks up to her sister to hug her, I know she feels our love and loves us back. I love the adoration I see between the two girls. Now that Kenz is older and can play with her sister and show her emotions more verbally to us, I don't worry as much. We see her personality now and we love her for her special uniqueness the same way we love Averi for hers.

                                                                    My babies


                                                                  My model babies
                                                                 My other model baby


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Some days I want to just be Mommy

This has kind of been a rough week and it's ONLY Tuesday. This is the kind of week where as much as I wish time would hurry up so it'll be the weekend or better yet it'll be summer vacation, I just want to freeze time. Like in one of those movies where all the craziness around me-my students, grading, planning, bills, housekeeping, laundry, dishes-all stop and it's just me and Nate with our kids in our own little time bubble.

We could stop and run around smelling the flowers and not think about those thinks like the passage of time and what needs to be done by a certain time. I just want to have a moment to enjoy them without the demanding voice of time in my ear. As much as I will at times say how I can't wait until Averi decides it's embarrassing to sleep in mommy and daddy's bed, or that she'll be old enough so she can go into a public bathroom by herself without running away from the automatic flushing tiolet in fear, or that she won't splash water literally all over my bathroom because she thinks she's a fish, I will miss her childlike adventure.  As much as I anxiously wait for the time when  Kenzi will be able to talk to tell me what she wants rather than throw herself on the ground in an upset rage, or a time when  I won't have to worry about her on the stairs, or even when I won't have to hide the dog's water bowl to keep her from playing in it, I will miss her little mischief toddler attitude.  There are so many things about their little small selves I will miss.

I will miss Averi singing to Kenzi to make her happy or making up her song to tell us how's she's sad about something. I will miss seeing their excitement when we walk in the door from work or being gone too long. I will miss Averi's cute little thumbs up when she's done some simple gymnastic's routine. I will miss Averi's totally inappriopriate but often hilarious things that come out of her mouth because I'm assuming one day she will develop a filter. I will miss gettting excited that they can say their ABCs, write their name, count past ten. I will miss Kenzi's little twirling dance move that she does when music comes on, I will miss how she adamantly chooses her own book to take to her crib every night, I will miss her happy baby gibberish in the car all the way to work every morning.

They will outgrown these simple but adorable childish things. They will become the big girls Averi always talks about, and as excited as I am for all the wonderful mother/daugther moments that come as your daughters grow I know I will miss their childlike innocence and their constant dependability on us. One day they will be grown and won't need me as much. One day I will be mom or mother and not mommy anymore. The baby I crave to cuddle in my lap or rock in my chair will be a grown, beautiful woman ready to chase her ambitions on her own. She will be ready to spread her wings and fly while I am left in the rocking chair with the beautiful memories of wild, funny, and demanding babes that made my life crazy and hectic but made me laugh and made my cry. Just for a bit I want to still the hands of time and treasure these wonderful, gone too fast but in the moment never seem like they'll end, moments of motherhood. I want to hold their youth and innocence just a little longer.

I just want a moment to be two little girl's mommy and not all the other hats I must wear. I want to read another story, take another short walk that takes a half hour on toddler legs, roll around in the grass in laughter, color in the coloring book a little longer, sing songs and hold hands, and snuggle in that rocking chair or in that bed for just a little longer. Today I really want to just be mommy.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Did you shave your legs for this!

When it comes to the mother to do list all too often it seems like we end up at the bottom. And as much as I love my husband and as much as he helps around the house or with the kids sometimes they just don't get it.

Between work with everyone else's needy kids, my own two crazy and sometimes very whiny children, the laundry that I swear crawls out of the woodwork like roaches or something, the scum that takes on it's own life form in my kitchen and bathroom, and my barely six hours of sleep a night, I'm lucky if I get a shower in for myself every night. And I'm even luckier if I get to take that shower in peace without crying babies or whiny kids in the background or better yet if I get to take that shower alone without my children sneaking their way in there.

So when my darling husbands asks, "Ewww, are  you going to shave your legs? Aren't you going to fix your hair or something? You're wearing that out in public?" Or my favorite two after a LONG day, "You wanna have sex?" or "Why do you seem so angry? Haven't you already had your period this month?"

So here are my answers to those wonder husband questions. First. if I get a moment, A MOMENT, to myself today, maybe even this week, sorry but shaving my legs is NOT at the top of the me list. My shirt? Sorry that it's covered in baby snot, tears, blood from those bloody knees, and whatever else comes out of these adorable little things we call our children. But I either didn't have the time to change it or I haven't had a chance to do laundry. But again what the public thinks of me is the least of my worries right now. Sex? Hmmm, I am so tired right now I feel like I'm running a marathon as fast as I've ever ran in my life and I am in dead last. I haven't had a chance to shower, I probably haven't shaved my legs in weeks, my hair is literally standing on end, the kids are crying, the dog is barking, I just ate a half a pan of brownies for comfort and feel bloated, and I haven't had five minutes to sit down without someone needing or demanding something from me and you want to have sex! And just realize I have my period every Wednesday night through Friday because everything irratates me and makes me mad at this point. And I don't want anything looking at me, touching me, pointing at me, anything! Didn't you just see me terrify the KFC guy for screwing up my chicken? So, yes, come the end of the week, I may be a little grouchy, tired, undesirable, filthy, and maybe a little overwhelmed, but I love you and will be better Saturday. Saturdays are a good day for sex but Wednesdays are not.





Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fighting the darkness

This is about so much more than a toddler fight over a binkie...

Yesterday, I'm sitting at the sitter's watching the girls play while I talk to our beloved caretaker. If you haven't figured out, I usually like to sit back and watch how their little minds work. The reason my kids probably have so many entertaining or not so entertaining moments is because I like to give them a chance to figure something out on their own, see if they can solve their own problems.

So this little boy takes Kenzi's binkie. She tries to tell him to give it back in her angry, baby rambling way. At first she's just kind of throwing her hands down like she does lately when she gets mad and frustrated. He acts like he's going to give it back to her but then yanks it back. Well, my daughter just hauls off and starts hitting him. So okay I step in here and tell the little boy to give me back the binkie. And then I act all horrified to the sitter that my child hit another for picking on her. Course luckily one of the reasons I like my sitter so much is because we see some things in our world the same way. And like she says, the world is a tough place. Sometimes you have to show that you can stand your ground. And learning to stand your ground starts early.

As much as I want to be there to shelter my kids from the bullies, the meanness, the hatred, the ugliness of our world, I can't always be there and I can't always fight all their battles for them. But what I can do is instill in them courage, strength, and a fighting spirit. Do I want them to go around getting into fights? No, that's not what I am saying. I do not want them to be the bully. But I can already see that that girl will stand her ground. She will not let people bully her, push her down, discourage her or stand in her way. She's seventeen months and she's ready to take on the world. At least she thinks so. She'll even tell you herself in her angry, rambling baby way.

There are so many evils out there lurking in the darkness. And as if the real world is not scary enough with things like this past week's bombing in Boston, but now that I have children I cannot even watch movies where someone's child is injured or killed. The book and movie, Lovely Bones, still freaks me out. This girl's neighbor who she knows lures her away on her walk home from school one night and rapes and kills her. Now that Averi can communicate I probably stress to her a few times a week how "you do not go anywhere with anyone except mommy and daddy unless we send you with them." I stress this so much because she LOVES people.  Not that I think any of my neighbors are psycho killers but it's just a scary world out there and you never know. She doesn't see the bad in people, which is awesome in one way and so scary in another.

And because they're girls we may or maybe not (I don't have any sons so I don't really know) worry about them even more. As much as I'm a feminist and all about girl power, boys are physically stronger. My husband reminds me of this every time he thinks he needs to show the girls a wrestling move on me. He shows me and Averi often how to get out of choker holds and random but supposedly useful self defense moves. I know when Kenz is older they'll both go to karate/self defense together (Averi likes to go around the house now doing her he ha as she call it). And for all those gun control advocates out there sorry but I don't agree with you on that one. I grew up around guns. I learned how to use one as a girl because again, as much as I want to push my girls towards the light, darkness is out there. You hope for the best but prepare yourself for worse. Know what you need to know and do what you need to do when it comes down to it. I believe in our God, have hope for our future, and choose to see the good in humanity, but I can't erase the bad or the evil. It will be there, always in the shadows, and sometimes it rears its ugly head. No matter what form it is when it rears its head, I want my girls mentally and emotionally ready to push forward, to do what's right, to stand their ground, to fight.

No, the little boy taking the binkie is not an evil little boy at all. He's just a harmless, probably really sweet boy. So maybe I'm wrong for letting two toddlers sort the problem out themselves and halfheartedly telling my daughter we don't hit. Maybe I'm THAT mother. I do not want them to be the bully, but I want my girls to learn now that when the going gets tough I want them to come out fighting. Whether it's physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever they need to do to survive. Life is tough. It's a hard world at times. I want them to know that there's not always going to be someone there to fix their problems.They can't learn that by me butting in to solve all their problems for them. I want them to be confident to stand on their own two feet and to take on the world in whatever way  they feel they need to.

I've been following the story of a young teenage girl from my hometown (you can read her story Kori Quinn here). That girl has the fighting spirit. That girl is taking on cancer, the world, and is an inspiration to all that no matter how hard life is, what is thrown at you, you fight. You fight with everything in your being.

You can always see the monster but you have to be ready to fight it. My friend Emily wrote a great piece about The Monsters under the Bed and as a mother I would love to think they're just fictional characters of our imagination. But they are there in that darkness in some many different forms and as their mother I just want to make sure they're ready when and if they have to overcome them on their own.


*My thoughts and prayers are with Kori Quinn everyday. I do not know her personally (my whole hometown does though) but she is an amazing young woman that demonstrates an unshakeable inner strength that we can't all help but to admire. I hope you take a moment to read her story, possibly share her story, and if you can donate to this wonderful person to help in her fight to beat cancer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I don't want to live in fear

I don't want to live in fear. But ever since I became a mother I feel that I live in a new state of fear. I wrote about this once here and my fellow mommy blogger wrote a great post here on this state of fear that I imagine all of us mothers can understand.

I even dread the day my children realize the cruelty of the world when their innocence will be stripped away and they see that humanity has a dark side. That some people out there want to destroy rather than mend. But I also pray that they always remember to see the light, the goodness in people. I truly believe there is way more good than bad in our world. And even though the bad seems to be knocking us down over and over again lately with 9/11, war, shootings like Colorado and Newtown, and now the Boston marathon bombing, I believe good will prevail.

My thoughts and prayers go out the Boston victims and their families. And to anyone else that has had to suffer at the hands of evil. Because unfortunately, there are many more violent incidents that we never hear about that occur in our world everyday and when acts of violence or terrorism like this happen, their suffering is not brief and will impact them forever. I pray every day for a safer, more peaceful world for our children.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why don't these things come with instructions?

Yes, I am talking about my children. How many times as a parent have you been, "uh, what do I do about this?" And plan A, B, C, and even D just went out the window because they didn't quite cooperate the way you planned. This parenting thing didn't look so difficult when I was watching everyone else do it, and when they weren't "doing it right" I was sure "my way" in my little nonparent brain would work just fine with my future kids. Then came my future kids.

Those two little monsters I talk about all the time. When one is not playing houndini and getting into mischief the other one is wreaking havoc on something or someone. Sometimes I wish they made those little cages that they make for pets for kids too. I sure could have used one of those for my kids a couple of times. My mom wanted me to get one of those kid leashes for Averi once when I was flying with both girls by myself. No wonder I have problems right? What kind of crazy mother attempts to fly alone with two kids three and under. This crazy lady. I told her I forgot to get one and would just use the dog leash. If you have a dog and small children you know there's not much difference between them. Averi always wants to pretend to be a dog so my worst concern was that she'd think that meant she needed to walk on all fours and go around licking people, which she's done on occassion when she's playing she's a doggy. She once ate a bug by accident pretending to be a dog. But don't worry I really didn't walk my child around the airport on a dog's leash. I thought about it but I didn't do it.

And better yet to my mom's relief I didn't lose her or her sister. Even when we missed our connecting flight, had to walk FOREVER in a strange city (Chicago) to get to a bus to take us to a hotel, and sleep in the same clothes we wore all day since our luggage went on to make it to Kansas City. Do you know how much you sweat when you are hauling two small children, a stroller, and because I'm cheap and didn't want to pay for our luggage as much luggage as I could possibly carry? Why haven't we evolved enough as a species for mothers to grow like an extra pair of hands and eyes or something yet?

You think after all the trips alone with my kids to the store, I would have been mentally prepared for how exhausting traveling halfway across the country would be with two of them by myself. Is everyone convinced their three year has ADHD at some point? Or is it just me? They are like crazy ping pong balls. You put them down somewhere and dart your eyes a different way and off they go. It's like they do these crazy things and you think what are they thinking? Do they even think yet? Even when you put one in something to contain it so you can more closely watch the other, they still get into mischief. Averi is always that ping pong ball in the grocery store so Kenz is suppose to be my easy one because she's securely in the cart. But sometimes all those "good" parenting ideas go out the window. My one year old who is suppose to be the good one in this scenerio has ripped the plastic off the raw fish and is eating it! Right in the middle of the grocery store! Guess good thing it was fish and not chicken or something! But who does that? Was she just watching and waiting for Averi to distract me and attack that fish. She is my eater and I haven't seen the girl turn down much food but raw fish right out of the plastic in the grocery cart. In the middle of the store!

It's not even their actions sometimes that leaves you in horror but sometimes the things that come out of their mouths is NOT so great. We're standing in Chipolte once. In line to order and you know how you stand there on top of each other moving through that assessbly line. You can pretty much hear everyone's conversation. Well, Averi decides to tell me at that most opportune time, "Mommy, my underwear is pinching my who ha (does everyone name their childn's parts something?)!" she giggles. Oh, no, not so funny. Talk about that moment where you pretend your child is not yours!

Then there's trying to figure out their thinking process. Forget about a one year old eating raw fish out of the grocery cart, but by four I would think you've started to think things through a little bit. This is the incident of today that lead me to thinking expectant parents should be sent home with help guide. Again, I like to think I can venture out with the girls by myself and it will all be well, uneventful. We got Averi a bike for her birthday and I wanted to take her somewhere with more room to ride it so we went to this park that had a bike trail. And luckily a playground. We are finally about to the playground. The bike trail runs on top of this hill and the playground and ball fields sit at the bottom of the hill. And Averi sees this dog and in her excited way she turns her bike towards the dog (like she's never seen one!) which is at the bottom of this steep hill. Well, the bike with her on it just takes off down that hill. And she is screaming "Mommy!' like no other. Talk about that split, "oh shit this may not be good" second. So I leave the stroller at the top of the hill secure luckily and run after her. If you know me from my younger years, I'm not very fast and I'm sure age has made me slower. I stick my foot in the spike of the tires, grab the handle bars as the bike finally went from racing down the hill to a soft, gentle crash. And of course, I get "Oh, mommy, that was scary!" My response is, "What, what, what were you thinking?" You know those words that I'm sure I'm going to say over and over and still over again. "Well, I wanted to see the doggy," she says. Like really? All rational thought just evaporates their mind? Just like that. What's bad is this was not my first kid rolling down a hill incident. At a baseball game last year, Averi needed me for something and I thought I left Kenzi securely on the blanket we were sitting on, but when I turned around she had somehow toppled over and was rolling down the hill. Talk about scooping your kid up and looking around frantically like, "Did anybody just see that?" Again the thing I've found about two of them is as soon as one has you distracted the other needs you or is into something it shoudn't be.

And it'd be nice to have some kind of warning that not only do they cry and whine, but they can throw these awful, relentless fits. I'm sure Averi threw fits but they were over in like five seconds. But now there's Kenzi. And this girl is the queen fit thrower. And she doesn't realize when she gets mad that she's suppose to BREATHE! Yes, I have seen this kid pass out twice from holding her breath. She gets mad, she opens her mouth but nothing comes out, tears start streaming down her face, her lips literally start turning blue, and then her eyes roll back in her head, and down she goes. Crazy! What do you do about that?!? I've started blowing in her face like I'm in labor again or something. I'm sure today the cashier was looking at me like I'm crazy as I'm yelling at one kid to stand still and telling the other "Breathe, Kenzi" and waving my hand in her face as she's starting to change colors and then telling Kenzi, "Thank you," as she lets out a big fat wail throughout the whole store. I call my cousin often on how to deal with this one because somehow we ended up with the same kid. Hers is just two years old so she's my "expert". Lucky her. But this way if Kenz doesn't turn out right I'll just blame it on her.

Then there's the toys. And the stuffed animals. I'm sure those things procreate at night while we're sleeping. I thought the purpose of giving kids toys was because they play with them. I feel like their idea of playing with them is let's see if we can cover every square inch of this floor with some kind of toy. I use to say Hurricane Averi hit. I will walk into her room or their playroom now and just want to sit on the floor and cry, "Why? Why?" like someone's that's dealing with a real destructive tragedy. But I guess it's a good thing they have dolls and barbies to play with before we venture into playing with other kids on a daily basis. You know how you watch kids drop their baby doll on their head and think good thing she's not playing with a real baby. That's Barbie in our house. I sure hope my girls treat their friends better than Barbie.  First, Ken literally lost his head awhile ago. We kept him for a bit but he just kept losing his head.  Then there was the burnt Barbie. Yeah, she didn't make it either. And last week we had the poopy Barbie. Kenzi has pooped in the tub more than any kid I know. Course I guess I only know one other. And it was like Barbie's head was a magnet. Those nice long Barbie tresses just drew in all those poopy particles. And yes, I scrubbed poop out of Barbie's hair.


Don't listen to my mother. I'm as innocent as can be.
                                                                                 My sister did it. I swear.

So maybe I could have used some kind of forewarning that they're not quite as innocent as they look. Guess it's too late now though so I'll keep them. Life would be so boring now without all those Averi and Kenzi moments. As much as I feel like I run around that half a step ahead of crazy, they have definitely made my life laugh out loud funny and I have to say I kind of enjoy the crazy. There's never a dull moment around here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Moms, get ready to be judged!!!

Disclaimer: Please realize this is laced with heavy sarcasm and as I mention later I have friends that have made choices in all the wide range of parenting options that we have available to us today and even though some of them may not be choices I make and have been guilty of passing judgement myself I do respect each individual mother's choice.


Our society seems to have this one size fits all mentality right now. And if you don't conform to those standards be prepared to be scorned. And moms, we tend to be a hot target lately.

Let's be honest, most of the time those scornful looks are coming from other women. It's human nature to judge and I know I have done my fair share of judging as much as I try to keep an open mind. But what I find amusing is no matter which way on the spectrum you go someone out there thinks you're off your rocker, and that someone can be anyone from your own mother, your mother in law, sister, grandmother, best friend, coworker, or just the stranger in the store giving you the dirty looks because God forbidden your two year old throws a temper tantrum in public or still takes a bottle or a binkie. And those opinionated thoughts and sometimes overly voiced judgements begin as soon as your child has been conceived, and sometimes way before your child has been conceived if you are a mom who chooses to wait until you're older.

On one hand you're too young to settle down and start a family but on the other what is the matter with you if you've decided to be selfish and spend a few years of your life focused on just you and put off having children until later. I didn't know we had a law stating parenthood had to begin at a particular age. What really makes a particular age more acceptable than another?

Then once everyone knows you're pregnant, judgement overload starts. You're eating too much, you're eating too little, you should rest more, you sleep too much and might as well get used to not sleeping now, you shouldn't do that when you're pregnant, just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you can't do more, you're going to name your baby what?!? Are you the one currently carrying the 7-8 lbs+ baby  and that extra other "stuff" around in your midsection with all your organs misplaced for the time being? Are you about to push the baby the size out of a watermelon out of something the size of the end of a hose? Are you that mother right now living HER life? If she wants a milkshake and french fries for dinner, LET HER! She has her reasons.

Then comes the judgement on how you're going to bring the baby into the world. Talk about some heated opinions on this one. You want pain medication? But that's a danger to your baby. You want to have your baby at home? But that's not safe. Are you out of your mind? You want to have your baby in a hospital? That's not safe either and women have been giving birth since the beginning of time before we ever had doctors telling us how to birth our babies. You want to be induced? Well, aren't you selfish. You refuse to be induced? Well, aren't you selfish too. It doesn't matter what decisions we do or don't make someone thinks we're endangering our baby and how awful of us for these birthing decisions we make.We all have our reasons for the decisions we make, and all these debatable issues can be safe but like anything else come with risks. So who are we to make that decision for someone else? It's a mother's right. She has her reaons so let her choose her birth and let it be.

You survived the birth and now you're responsible for raising that child into an acceptable adult. And EVERYONE has an opinion on how you should do it.  Breastfeed? Oh my gosh, you're going to let that thing suck on you? You're just willing to whip your boob out whenever? Don't you feel like a cow always nursing and pumping? Bottlefeed? Do you not want what's best for your child according to...? Are you too selfish to meet the demands of a nursing infant? And then come the stares. The stares that you still nurse your child past an "appropriate" age, that your child still has a bottle, that you nursed in public. Oh, my gosh, brand her! She exposed her breast in public! Forget about all the half naked women running around in their skimpy clothing.

Not only does everyone have an opinion on how you should feed them but how they sleep. You let them sleep with you? Isn't that endangering them? They slept with you until they were how old?!?Your bed is a no kid zone and your kids are not allowed in your bed?!? Again, you don't know that mother's life. Maybe she doesn't get to see her kid(s) much all day and sees it as the only time to cuddle and love on them. Maybe she's seen too much of them during the day and they DRIVE her crazy and she needs her space. Maybe this helps her get more SLEEP. You know that thing that all mothers are deprived of at some point. But again whatever her choice she has HER reasons, not yours.

But the judging doesn't stop there. You must be a lazy mom if you stay at home with your kids. Because you know you do nothing all day because you know taking care of and raising your children isn't work at all. You must be a neglectful mom if you work outside of the home or have a career. Because you know modeling values that building and maintaining a career create or bringing in income to keep a roof over your children's heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table, means absolutely nothing.  Again different things work for different people. Neither choice is going to destroy their childhood.

Then there's disciplining. You let your children run wild? You spank them!?!You let them do that? You let your kid throw a temper tantrum in public? You gave into your kid to avoid the public temper tantrum?You should discipline them this way and that way. You're what's the matter with society! If everyone parented like so so then the world would be a better place.

Should we even go to the binkies, pacis, nuks, or whatever they're called. Somewhere out there it has been decided that shortly after they can walk it is a huge NO NO to let them have one. Guess I would be the victim of those stares. This is kind of like the breastfeeding debate again. There are some situations where people just judge you behind your back but when it comes to that binkie they will verbally scorn you and your child for still using it. They may even yank it out of your child's mouth! I will be the first to admit that binkie is for me, damnit! She cries, she screams, she whines and that thing shuts her up and saves my sanity! So leave the damn thing alone. When I am good and ready to break myself of my child having a binkie/paci I will do it. I just need to make sure I'm mentally ready. Again, it's when mommy is ready, not you.

I have mom friends from of all walks of parenting. Ones that have given birth at home, in hospitals, in birthing centers, with pain meds and with nothing. Moms that have breastfed, moms that have formula fed. Moms that stay at home and moms that balance a career with parenting. Moms against spanking, moms that don't think there's a problem with a little swat to the backside. Moms that sleep with their kids, moms that don't allow their kids in their bed. All of them no matter which choices they make are great moms. They all have their reasons for the choices they've made and their kids are fine. Yes, they are fine; they are healthy, thriving, well loved children. Can you believe that? Who would have thought?

I'm sure when my girls are parents themselves I will find it hard not to push my parenting opinions or judgements on them. But their parenting experience will be different than mine. Every one of ours is different. We have different pasts, different fears, different expectations, different resources for help and more help, and we all have different children. Teacher words here: "what works for one child won't always work for another child". You think I would know that being a teacher, but my own two daughters have even shown me that two children can come from the same two parents, be raised in the same environment but have totally different needs that require different approaches to parenting.

Obviously from anyone that knows me and follows me, I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to parenting. I'm kind of selfish. I want pain meds because I don't want to deal with pain if I don't have to, I let my kid sleep in my bed because it's much easier than fighting with her and sometimes it's the best bonding time of the day, I let my kids have binkies longer than the "appropriate" amount of time because the crying, whining, screaming toddler thing drives me crazy, I have let my kids scream in public rather than give them what they want, they know what a spankin is, but I've also been guilty of not following through with discipline or relenting because I'm too tired to fight the battle of wills. I'm not perfect but neither is the person passing judgement on our parenting skills.  Parenting doesn't come with experience! Everyone enters this job with no experience and just like with any new experience we will all have our trials and errors and mistakes and lessons. And hopefully we learn enough along the way not to screw up our kids.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

The journey HOME

 We finally reached the spring break I've been waiting for since well probably October because I knew it would be the point where I finally would feel like this six month process of making the moving transition would be complete. My to do list would be complete and the process of moving would be over. But as I should have known shit always happens. And this time I mean that literally. The one thing I was leary about with moving so far out from even town was that we would have to be on septic and well. And this not really country country girl has always lived with city water supply. But Monday night Averi comes running up to my room where I've just finished painting our bedroom and was feeling oh so acccomplished. And she's telling me I have to come see. And with Averi it could be the latest worm or lady bug she's stashed away in her play kitchen. I follow her downstairs not really expecting much but ended up finding that the corner of our basement where new carpet had been put down prior to our move was soaked and some sealed off drain that sits in the corner of our basement was running water everywhere. Of course, Nate and I are looking at it like what does this mean? Like clueless people we wonder around to the other water sources in the house and find the wash tub in the laudry room filling up with backed up water and then realize when my mom gets out of the shower that it's not draining as well. So there we were with six of us in the house at nine o clock and all water usage had to be suspended until the next day because we suspected a clogged septic drain that would need to be snaked. Nate and I who had worked all day around the house painting and planting outside could not shower, and we couldn't flush the tiolets. Nate threatened something about how we didn't want a turd to end up coming up the drain and floating around in the laudry tub washroom. So great. Just great. Not only couldn't I shower, go to the bathroom, and had to worry about turds showing up in weird places, as well as sewer water soaking my basement, but we were just barely back to builiding up our savings to cover the summer and now how much was this mishap going to cost me? AHHHH! I went into one of my cranky, why does being a grown up have to be so hard kind of moods.

First thing in the morning the plummer came out only to charge us $75 and tell us to call the septic people. They came out and told us the plummer screwed up and should have snaked the drain and we'd be all fixed for probably $150. Instead the septic people ended up digging to the tank thing? (Again I'm new to this whole septic thing). And whoa, once he found the "tank" he was looking for I came to the conclusion that having septic meant you more a less have a giant porta potty buried under the ground in your backyard! Gross! I really could have done without seeing and knowing that that's buried out there in my backyard. Luckily he was able to do something down there (couldn't pay me enough money to do that shitty job-yes pun intended) and fixed the problem for an inexpensive (slight sarcasm here) $285 on top of the $75 we pretty much donated to the plummer. In the end this shit happens fiasco, which has not been the first unplanned expense and I know won't be the last, ended up costing us $350. Once I had working water facilities again and was happier, it of course sucked to part with our precious pennies but as I know from past more expensive mishaps, I'm glad for the only $350 problem. And our damp basement has cleaned up really well.

And I refused to let it put any more of a damper on my spring break. This was our week with our girls and our  time to make this house ours. Unfortunately, as much as you're always trying to get ahead, do everything you can, stay a step or two ahead of the craziness and chaos of life, shit is always going to happen. Your dog is going to fall our a jeep window,  your car is going to break down and leave you stranded hours from home, not once but twice, you're going to miss your flight, your luggage will be lost, someone's going to hit your car, someone's going to steal your car, your house won't sell, your dog will run away, and I can't even remember all the crap that has happened to us, but we all have something, somewhere, at different times that puts little bumps in the road, and even though in the end they're really not that big of deal, they sure can at times make crazy a heck of a lot crazier.

Even though I'm not a through and through country girl, I do love my country music, and I think Phil Vassar's "Just another day in Paradise" is such a fitting family song for us. It's crazy and most the time I feel that we're barely keeping our heads above water and surviving, but at the same time this is what we all dream about having one day, isn't it? I watch my girls play with their dolls and play "house" and I remember doing the same thing as a little girl. And here we are living it. It's just a little crazier and a little more stressful (possible understatement there) than we all imagined but we did it and somehow we're surviving. As we wrap up this week at home together and I look around me, it's such an overwhelming feeling of joy to know that we're HOME.

Nate left home at eighteen, has lived in five different states, I left at twenty, and we've traveled to half the states in this country to multiple beautiful places including two months between the end of our lease in DC and the settlement of our house in Baltimore when we were nomads wandering the East side of the country with no home. And yes we've owned one house before this one, but we spent three years fixing it up and by the time it was close to the way we envisioned it but not quite because the market started to fail and it wasn't worth the money anymore we spent three years trying to escape from it without losing our *#$ on it. And here we are at 35 and 31 with our two daughters (and possible future child-boy????) and we're finally settled down and HOME. Nate and I haven't had a sense of permanency like this since we were kids in our parents' homes. Our kids are going to grow up here, this could be the house they come home to even years after they leave, the place our grandkids call "comfort" (stole that from one of our friend's cards). Eighteen when you leave home so full of hopes and dreams was a long time ago so it's taken us awhile to get this point (guess we're a little slow), but we're home and it really is an amazing feeling I hope to remember (especially when the next $350+ disaster strikes). Thanks to everyone who celebrated this accomplishment with us and all the neverending well wishes we've received. It may seem like the end of a long journey but knowing us it's probably really just the beginning of the journey.


                                                      Picture overload of the girls home