I Asked For This

Motherhood is F.U.N.!

VERY Opinionated Blog Attack! July 26, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 2:45 pm

I have written this blog because I frequently read the blog of a woman who is the mother of a 2-year-old and an infant, she is also a teacher by trade. I understand and respect that she has the right to write what ever she wishes and there is no requirement for me to read what she writes. That said, I am a little bit concerned about the things she writes because many of my friends and acquaintances read her blog, talk to her for advice, and encourage her to continue writing about her struggles so that they don’t feel alone in their own struggles. Some of them feel that if she, who is educated in child development, struggles, then what will they be up against. I have also heard a few mothers talking about how her child has negatively impacted their children, and how this bloggers behavior has impacted themselves and their view of the association in which they are all united. This blog is not expressing their opinions, it is expressing my own.

She often writes things like:

“The toddler tantrums, the throwing of things, the hitting, the biting…I know it’s all part of (my child) learning and testing his boundaries…some days, nothing works. It sure doesn’t help that (my child) is not really talking yet. Truthfully, I think that a lot of his “bad behaviour” is due to his inability to communicate effectively verbally yet. I am holding onto hope that when he does start talking that these outbursts will die down. But until then, I just have to deal with it. And really, it isn’t “bad behaviour.” I don’t want to call it that. To me, bad behaviour denotes acts that are done with the intention of doing wrong. Toddlers don’t really know the difference between right and wrong yet. They are still learning.And that means that they will make mistakes. Sometimes a lot of them. It also takes time. Sometimes more time than you want.”

This quote frustrates me because she seems to feel that the only way to communicate is verbally. She writes that his frustration is because he can’t talk, that might be part of it, but I suspect it is also to do with mom not slowing herself down enough to “listen” to what he is saying and helping him with prompts. She justifies tantrums, throwing, hitting and biting as acceptable behavior because he cannot speak her language. I am not saying her child is “bad” but these behaviors are definitely inappropriate in any situation. Toddlers don’t always understand that their behavior is inappropriate and they will make mistakes. It is our job as parents to teach our children at a very young age (before 1 year) to understand “no” and other words like “gentle”, “nice” and “stop”. If your child is hitting another child, biting another child, throwing objects or screaming on the floor of the grocery store, it is your responsibility as their parent to address it. They do understand “no, not nice” and “stop” when you kneel down to their level and say it firmly. It does take time, ONE time, and consistency in the parents behavior to be pre-emptive in diffusing situations before they occur. Is there a magical age the child will cross in which it will all just click and he will turn into a perfectly behaved angel? Some age in which everything you say makes perfect sense to them? I feel that is a pretty high expectation.

She writes: “Occasionally when we are out, (my child) will have a toddler tantrum or do one of the other multiple frustrating things that toddlers do (this is more likely if I have neglected to bring enough snacks!). Some people will look at him and I can tell they wonder about my parenting skills. I just breathe when I see this and remind myself that they clearly have no idea. Either their child hasn’t hit this stage yet, they only have one child, or they are (very) rare parents who were blessed with an “easy” toddler. They’ll see. Eventually, they will see. Whether it be in the next little while when their child hits that same stage, or when their child is a teenager and hits a different stage. They’ll see.”

This frustrates me because it sounds like the only way to control her child is with food “be good and I will reward you with treats”. Good behavior is an expectation, not an option. IF you choose to use rewards in your parenting, I feel that they should be used to reward behaviors or actions that are above and beyond the expectation. Teaching a child to control their own behavior rather than the parent controlling the child is much more effective. I do wonder about her parenting skills, and yes I am judging her, I openly admit to it! Why, you ask? Because her childs behavior directly affects the other children around her in a negative fashion. She is supporting his bullying behavior and that is harming other children both mentally and physically. I feel that to say that other parents have no idea is ridiculous and screams loudly of denial. Raising children is never an easy road to take. Having multiple children around the same age is even more difficult. When she says that those other parents who are working hard to teach their children empathy, restraint, self-control have no idea and that “they’ll see”…I just want to throw that back at her! When she is being called to the principals office twice a week, when parents are calling in to the organizations she participates in complaining about her lack of parenting, when her teenager is being picked up by the cops on a regular basis…she’ll see, ohhh yes, she will see. That her sons behavior is NOT acceptable under any circumstances and needs to be addressed in a consistent and firm manner.

She then writes: “Some people have told me that boys learn rough behaviour. I think those people have never had a son. Because I guarantee you that we never taught him it, and most of (his) friends are girls. I think (most) boys are just programmed to be a bit more rough and energetic. Seriously. It’s not a cop-out; it doesn’t mean parents don’t have to teach them when it’s appropriate, they do. But boys just seem to like to wrestle and be a little more rough than girls. So girl mamas, a little understanding please while I try to teach my son that most girls (and some boys) don’t like that kind of play. In return, I will understand when your girls become PMS-riddled teenagers.”

I feel that all children test rough behavior, they all want to wrestle, to fight and to stand up for themselves. These are life skills and need to be developed in a positive manner. Even if you feel that you did not teach your child to be aggressive in a negative fashion someone did, whether by not addressing inappropriate behavior or by showing aggressive behavior within the village. I also know from personal interactions that this woman has a pretty aggressive, in your face personality. That she feels she is always right, that people who choose to raise their children differently than she does should be looked down upon, that her opinion is the right one and her doctrine is to be followed. Boys are rough and energetic, but so are some girls. Some boys are also very quiet and reserved with regards to touch. Shoving the sexes into these boxes and stereotypes is very old-fashioned. Writing that nobody understands because they don’t have sons, I feel that is a ridiculous statement. I have a son, i find him to be challenging most days of the week, but I do not allow the behaviors that have been expressed both in her blog and by the people affected by them. Once again she is justifying his inappropriate behavior by telling the rest of the parents in the world that they obviously don’t know what she is going through. I call “Bull Shit” and ask that she set beyond denial for a moment.

She also writes: “Two is a hard age. I am told three is worse, but we aren’t there yet so I am just going to pretend they are lying to me for now. Because I can’t imagine it being any worse. (He) has just entered the “mine” and “no” phases, so add those phases to the regular pushing, hitting, yelling, etc phases that he is already in and you get the picture as to how my days often go.”

These, in my experience, are natural phases of both development and part of a child’s personality. I, as the paren,t NEED to address them. Being trained as a teacher should have prepared her to calmly teach things. If it didn’t she could probably try absorbing some of the many blogs she reads in a day, or maybe read fewer blogs and give her child more attention. He is 2 now, asking him if he wants you to hit him and how he would feel might be a good place to start. I feel that being an active parent is a life long learning experience. Every time I think I have figured out my child and they become predictable I just blink and no longer recognise my own child. If she can’t deal with the temper tantrums, hitting, biting and pushing now, man is she in trouble when she reaches the extreme independence mode that is coming her way.

Then:”…(he) finds it necessary to push and yell and hoard toys. A good part of it is due to the fact that this is his turf, he is learning how to share, and usually he doesn’t want to (and I would argue shouldn’t have to all the time…) Regardless, I hate when it happens (be it at home or out and about). I hate “the LOOK” that other adults (even other parents!) give me. That look makes me feel like a terrible parent–that my child is a menace and that I can’t control him. Well, I have news for you world. Children are not little adults. That’s right! They don’t come into the world with knowledge of societal norms. They have to learn these things. And it takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time. I think that a lot of people forget this.”

The other parents are not giving her “the LOOK” because her child is having difficulty sharing, they are giving her the look because they expect her to help him learn it. They expect her to approach her child and teach him to communicate. They expect her to get down to his level, help him reason, teach him not to grab, teach him to take turns. They are not judging him, they are judging her! They don’t expect her to “control” him, they expect her to step up and teach him self-control. They expect her to use the opportunities she is given to diffuse situations before they explode, to use the opportunities to teach. Children are not little adults, they are prone to out bursts of energy and emotion, there is nothing wrong with that, but when they step in the wrong direction it is important to help them re-direct, to use the opportunities that come along to teach the societal norms. Other mothers are giving HER “the LOOK” because she is not helping him to navigate and learn the social norm, this only creates insecurity in him! Here he is looking for some direction, doesn’t get the attention/direction from mom and therefore falls back on a behavior he know will FORCE the other child to understand how he feels. It does take time, but the more consistent she is as a parent in diffusing, addressing or removing her child the quicker these lessons are learned.

There was a situation a while back in which her son hurt several other children, the mothers of the other children brought their concerns to her and she shot these women down! There was a huge build up, several people’s feelings were hurt, several women were removed from the community in which they all belonged and I got to hear all about it again and again. In this particular situation she ignored her childs behavior, saying that there was nothing she could do. I am sorry, but if my child is injuring other people’s children I should probably pay attention, rather than continuing to sit in the women’s circle chatting and offering advice. If I can’t teach my child that making other children bleed is not appropriate behavior then maybe I should go home for that day and try again tomorrow. When the other mothers expressed their concern she should have been apologizing profusely and taking the privilege of playing with others away for that day. Instead she made these women feel like they were in the wrong for standing up for their children.

I have nothing against this woman on a personal level. When we are in the same group I don’t have any issues with her. I am a strong, confident and comfortable mother. I am willing to hear other people’s points of view and discuss alternative ways of doing things. But I would discourage my friends from taking advice from someone who feels a do nothing philosophy is the way to go. But that, of course, is MY opinion, and I have the right to write it.

 

 

Growing Healthy Children

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 1:06 pm

This is basically part 2 of my post “Growth in Parenting”.

Children need to know that your love is unwavering, that your arms are always there to wrap around them no matter how far or near you are. When your child feels that love waver, perceived or otherwise, it sends waves of frustration, ripples of fear, through their uncertain worlds. Telling your child “I love you”, wrapping your arms around them as often as possible, telling them it is okay to need/want physical comfort, or to not want it. Letting them know that you are there when they need you.

Nurturing their minds, bodies and souls. Accepting them for who they are, even if that person is a little quirky in your opinion. Children need opportunities to grow, they need the opportunities to learn, to think, to make decisions.

Respect that they have thoughts and feelings, even if those thoughts or feelings don’t make sense to you.

Be patient, we are all learning here, sometimes you have to take a mental step back in order to decide the right action to take and that is okay. Govern your thoughts and reactions with kindness, nobody wants to be told they are less or unworthy, think and filter before you speak, as you are the adult. Being kind to your child and to those around you teaches them to do this as well. Not looking down on those less fortunate, but helping to lift those who need it.

Some days you just need strength, those days where nothing is going right, nobody is co-operating and the world seems to be against you. Those are the days you have to remember that the only thing your are in total control of is yourself! Your temper, your body, your words, your stress level. By teaching yourself to take a deep breath before you snap, you are teaching your children to do the same. By remaining calm when everything around you is falling apart, you are teaching your child to do the same. Teaching yourself to follow a chain of events backwards to deal with root causes, communicate you understand, apologize if you created the decent into chaos. This is strength, to be able to admit when you are wrong, to be able to realize when you need to apologize and to actually step forward and humbly offer the apology and to accept that it is not a requirement that the other person accept your apology immediately. Your child will follow your example.

We need to teach our children that “weakness” is not a bad word. We need to teach our children that we all have weaknesses and that in recognizing our own we are opening doors to potential growth. Not everyone has strength of mind, or of body, or of soul. Not everyone is connected to the world or themselves. Some people cry, some know how to show anger without hurting others, others are happy all of the time. If you have any strengths, you also have weaknesses. We need to teach our children that they are both strong and weak and that is okay!

Confidence is a difficult thing to attain. It starts as a little seed and grows slowly. Some days it gets trampled so badly you have to rip the plant out and start again. Developing confidence in your child is equally as difficult. Some days you just have to step back and say hey, I did that or said that wrong, this is what I should have said or done, will you forgive me? While other days the offer of a hug might be enough. For a child to be confident, they have to find it within themselves. They do this by learning, they do this by trying, and they learn this by failing. I teach my kids to say “I tried, I failed, I will try again”. I teach them that they don’t need to be the best at everything, but they do need to try at least once. I teach them walk into the world and treat others as they want to be treated.

Natural consequences are something I struggle with on a daily basis. It is hard-wired into my brain and all of my actions to protect my child from suffering in any fashion. I have to fight internal battles all day long some days because I want to feel like a good parent. I have to coach myself all day long not to step in where my children are qualified to make their own choices. I have to remind myself that telling my child that if they don’t eat supper, they will be very hungry in the middle of the night, is consequence enough. When they wake in the night with their stomachs cramping I will say “you chose not to eat any supper, do you think that is why your tummy hurts?…what will you do differently next time?” I have to remind myself about natural consequences every day! I am lucky to have many people in my village to also remind me, to ask me “what is the worst that will happen if they make that choice? If it wont hurt them, it will teach them, and there is no need to veto their decision”. Active parenting, means helping your child to figure out what went wrong, not to prevent them from ever making a mistake.

Communication is a huge topic of debate in the blogs I read. At what age does a child understand appropriate vs inappropriate behavior? Is verbal communication the only way to get your point across? No, communication is all about tone, body language and consistency.

Raising children is not a job, it is not a series of jobs, it is not a life long career of giving without appreciation. Active parenting is a lifestyle, it is about learning to be the type of person you want your children to emulate. It is about teaching your children to be productive members of society.

I am not perfect, I have a lot to learn, I will never learn enough. But in the mean time I will try my best and hopefully my children wont be too scarred when they grow to be adults.

 

Growth in Parenting

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 12:55 pm

I have read a lot of blogs written by people in many walks of life: childcare providers, early childhood development specialists, psychologists, teachers, mothers, fathers, friends…

As a mother I try very hard to look for resources to help me through any rough patches that I come across with my children. I look to these “professionals” educated or otherwise for ideas and knowledge that I am not alone in my struggles. I am constantly trying to learn new techniques to manage my own personality “defects”.

I have taken a very hard look at myself, my past, who I want my children to remember and have come to some very hard self criticisms. I have flaws, I am not always able to give 100%, I am prone to the occasional emotional breakdown or loss of temper, I don’t always say the right thing and my expectations are not always reasonable. I will not shrink from my weaknesses, but instead, will use them as stepping-stones and tools to become who I want to be.

In all my reading of blogs and articles, as well as talking to my village, I have come across 3 schools of thought:

1.) Nurture, love, respect, patience, kindness, strength, weakness, confidence, communication and natural consequences.

2.) Ignore the inappropriate behavior and reward the appropriate behaviors. Deny that my childs behavior and choices have anything to do with me and how I manage myself.

3.) Anything your child does that is inappropriate should get a smack, verbal ridicule, or be shamed out of them. Intimidation and punishment.

When I read through these descriptions of child rearing practices I have to put myself in my childs shoes and think very hard about how I want to be treated.

Look at description #3. Now, in reading this, many of you will say “Oh my god! I would never hit a child!” But hold on a moment. Have you ever said something or given body language to a small child that made them feel blame, shame or pain? Any words you ever said that made a child feel they were “less”? Ever “piggy-backed” a compliment (good job, but you can do better)? If you have done any of these things (and most of us have) I am not saying that you support child abuse. If I say something I shouldn’t and the person I said it to slapped me in the face, would I learn that the words I said were inappropriate or would I lose respect for the person who hit me and avoid being in their presence because that crazy person hit me for “no reason” that I understand. Many parents raise their children the way they were raised, and in the past, what other resources existed? That is no longer the case, there are support groups, playdate calendars, health professionals, personal growth programs and THE INTERNET!

Look at description #2. Do I learn anything from being rewarded for good behavior? I don’t feel that I do, sure I want to do the good behavior over and over again to receive the prize but I haven’t learned which behaviors are inappropriate. This ideology seems to create a very confusing world of trial and error, setting me up for failure, I have to do the inappropriate behavior several times before I fully understand that it is not on the “treat” list. I can tell you, right now, that much of my children’s’ inappropriate behavior is a mirror image of someone in my village! When my child gets frustrated with something, hits it and yells “damn it!” That is a mirror image of someone in the village. If my child calls another child a name that is not acceptable, someone in the village taught that to my child. These behaviors could have been taught by me, I may not realize it, I may deny it, but the truth remains. Children are trying to learn who they are, and in that process they try on all the hats in the village! (the image that comes to mind when I talk about this is the book “caps for sale”)

Looking at description #1. This is the most important to me and one in which I am reaching towards emulating (which comes with much person growth). Children need to feel safe and secure. The ability to create healthy, happy, productive members of society does not come to everyone. Behavior is learned, mine, yours, theirs. Nurture, love, respect, patience, kindness, strength, weakness, confidence, communication and natural consequences. This is how I want to be interacted with, why would I teach my child any different way of living?

People are not born with the ability to parent. We do not start out with an understanding of how our behavior affects others. We are born with genetic traits that provide us with strengths and weaknesses, beyond that we are formed by our environment, by our village. Please join my village and help me to teach my children to be better than I am!

 

Table Manners June 21, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 6:23 pm

I would like to start this post by saying that my parents definitely taught my brothers and I table manners. Use your utensils, chew with your mouth closed, keep your elbows off the table and so on, we were always well versed in european manners. From the time we could sit on our parents laps for a meal we were taught table etiquette. When I was around the age of about 5 I suspect my parents just gave up on harping on us and worried about life in general instead. We all knew what kind of behavior was and was not acceptable at our families table. We felt confident that we could join anyone elses table without the fear of embarrassing ourselves. As time went by our family, like most families, sort of drifted apart. The type of thing where the kids had better things to do than commit to family time and the parents worked late and life just carried us all away. As I continued to grow up I never realized the erosion that my table manners went through, a slow sapping etiquette, a small reversal in evolution! Many times we didn’t eat at the same time. Sometimes we even ate the same meal but all in different rooms!

It wasn’t until I joined my boyfriends parents at their table with all the extensions of family around us that I realized I had jumped into the ocean without a life-preserver! I was young, I was cocky, I knew everything…but had forgotten all my table manners without even realizing it! Suddenly I had one foot tucked under me, my elbow on the table, talked with my mouth full, forgot to wash my hands before the meal, ate with my fingers, slurped my soup, interrupted others conversations…all things that my parents trained me better in. I basically had to relearn all the rules.

One of the biggest ideals that differed from when I was growing up to when I sat at my in-laws table was the act of remaining seated until all at the table were finished their meals. I have to admit that in the beginning I just didn’t get it. I remember sitting down at my mother in laws table to eat a snack or maybe it was a late meal all by myself. I was comfortable do so, but she respectfully sat down across from me to keep me company, she had no plate in front of her. Initially I felt very awkward, almost as though I was in trouble for something, continuing to chatter incessantly rather than eat, confused about why she was there, staring at me while I ate! lol It took me years to understand that she noticed that I was sitting alone and, even in the beginning of our relationship, cared enough about me to pause her day, to keep me company and to listen to me chattering, patiently waiting for me to finish my meal. It was an act of love and respect.

Now that I have children of my own and am in need of teaching them table manners I am glad I had to retake all my manners as an adult! In saying that it just means that I know what table manners are, not that I practise them on a regular basis!

My children are now 3 and 4 years old and I recently realized that I have not done a very good job by them. Every meal they beg to sit in front of the tv to eat. They don’t have set eating times, try to leave the table as soon as their mouths are packed with their last parentally negotiated bite. They have elbows on the table and food falls from their loaded mouths as they try to tell me about their day. Utensils are rarely used, napkins become confetti instead of lap protectors, there is food all over the floor, the kids take way more than they can eat, there is dancing and singing at our table, food crumbs all over the house, popsicle sticks in the bathroom, people leaving while some are just beginning…need I go on?!

My my daughter, son and myself were sitting at the table for supper one night. I was finished, my daughter was packing her mouth with her last bite and my son still had half a plate of food that I wasnt sure was going to make into his body. My daughter got up from the table and walked away…huh? I asked her where she was going, “I am done, I am going to go play now, see ya!” and she was gone.

This moment sent me back in time to being a 3,4,5,6,7-year-old and how as people finished their meals they left the table. My brothers to their rooms, my father to the tv or back to work, my mother to the dishwasher or the laundry room. That left me, sitting there, slowly pushing my food around the plate, not eating or even really seeing the food. I could have sat there for hours, just day dreaming and pushing my food around on my plate.

I can’t tell you why, if I could I would be able to unlock the secret to my own children. I can empathize with my parents now. If it were up to my children we would sit at that table for an hour for each meal, maybe even 2 hours.

When it comes to meal time I understand how, as an adult, there are so many things on my list to accomplish in my day and how the thought of sitting at a table watching a toddler eat can slowly drive me to drink. How a parents’ leg can slowly start to shake and then their toes start to tap. They check their watch, they tap their fork or finger on the table, refuse to acknowledge their chatting child. Glare at their child, releasing exasperated sighs of frustration. I have felt the violence inside myself, wanting nothing more than to rip the fork from their fingers and shove the food into their mouths each time they open it to talk. To yell at them, punish them, ridicule them and berate them for not eating to my standards…instead, to avoid this unacceptable behavior I leave the table, I have better things to do with my time.

As a child I often remember everyone being too busy for me, watching my family “abandon” me each night added to me developing this deep sense of loneliness. I remember sitting in front of my grade 4 teachers desk after school for hours spinning tales and talking incessantly because I felt she was actually listening to me. I would enthrall anyone who would stop, for even a moment, with stories that couldn’t possibly be true. I am sure that many adults saw me as a little liar and warned their children about me, but I saw myself as a wonderful teller of stories.

In the past I have tried to tell myself that it is okay to leave my children behind because I am just in the next room, the child can still see and hear me, the child is safe and they know it, I am still there, they know I love them…but in reality, I am not present, I am not available, I am not providing that child with security and knowledge that they are an important part of our family. I am not showing that child that they are loved, respected and appreciated. With my impatient body language I am showing them that they are not good enough, not fast enough, not doing it right. That they are failing to meet my standards.

Something I often struggle with is trying to make decisions that are best for my children. With all the people in this world who know how to raise my children better than I can it often feels as though, as a parent, I am wandering around in a mine field with a blindfold on. I never know when someone will inform me that I am doing it all wrong and that I am going to be scarring my child for life.

I will always try to make the right choices, but at the end of the day there will aways be the need to sit down with my adult child and ask them if there is baggage they need help to unload in order for them to move forward into a balanced adult life.

In the mean time, I plan to take a page from my mother in laws book and no longer leave my child behind.

 

 

Homecoming June 20, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 10:34 am

My husband and I recently took a vacation to celebrate our anniversary. We were gone for almost 2 weeks and while we were gone I frequently dreaded my homecoming. When I expressed my worries to my husband he basically brushed them off and told me I was being silly. He would say “your children love you, stop worrying!”

I didnt stop worrying, when we had the opportuinity to get an earlier flight that would allow us to get home 6 hours earlier then our previous flights would allow I hesitated and almost turned down the opportunity.

I feel as though I am giving everything within myself to my family. I suspect this is a very typical of many mothers and wives. I am often striving to be more than just a parent, striving to be both the nurturer and the diciplinarian, trying to listen to my children even when I just want some quiet time, coaching, cuddling, adventuring and learning. I take great joy in my children and our experiences together. So then where did my dread of homecoming come from?

With my husband working away so often it is only natural that he has become a grand commodity. From the moment he steps into the house it is loaded with happiness and excitement, fun and sugar, rough housing and special treatment. He loves them and they adore him, everyone misses each other and so it becomes a party as soon as he walks into the house. Which is fine, it is to be expected and I love the vibrancy of the color he brings to our family.

Due to my husband becoming a commodity my children have begun to express that I am not to take away from the precious time that they have on this earth with their father. I often hear comments such as “I dont want mommy!” or “I want daddy to unbuckle me” “I want daddy to do ____ not you mommy!” They dont want me to come to the park, they dont want me to give them baths, they dont want me to sit near them at the dinner table, they dont want me to read them bedtime stories. All day long I am bombarded with the phrase “I DONT WANT YOU!” But only when daddy is home.

I dreaded my homecoming, on our vacation I had all of my husbands attention. I recieved all his smiles, his kisses and his snuggles. My dread, however, was not brought on by the “loss” of attention from my husband, not jealousy, or immaturity. It was brought on by the realization that I had to convert from these grand feelings of love, adoration and the constant knowledge that I was WANTED…home to the constant chant of “I dont want you!”

We arrived home and the children were still awake. The door was wide open and I could hear happy sounds coming from within as I approached up the walkway. I came through the front door with my suitcase and said hello into the warmth of my home. My children came down the stairs, saw me at the door, their eyes opened wide and I remember thinking “this is it! I am the commodity this time and I will get a happy homecoming, I really am loved!” I saw the clicking of thoughts in my childrens eyes as they realized that if I was home, so was daddy! They ran towards me with arms open wide, huge grins stretching their little faces…3 steps away…2 steps away from my open arms…1 step away the swing to the right of me, nudging me out of the way to throw themselves into their daddys arms…they are all laughing and giggling, delerious with happiness.

My hubby turns his face into his children and says “what about mommy aren’t you happy to see her too?” My son turns towards me with his arms open wide and leaps into my arms with hugs, kisses and giggles. It only lasts a second or 2 and then he is back throwing himself at daddy. The rest of the family comes to the entryway and with hubbys arms full of children I get hugs and welcome homes from my mother in-law, father in-law and mom. Then hubby again reminds my daughter that I am home too and she pulls away from him to briefly launch herself into my arms with high pitched giggles and laughter. I manage to hold myself together through it all and not burst into tears, run off to my room and cry myself to sleep. I was sad that my children had to be reminded of my existance.

To be fair, there was a lot of chaos and excitment, they are used to the “routine” of welcoming daddy home and it was past their bedtime. The biggest problem is that I had lulled myself into this false sense of security. I had convinced myself that when I was gone from their lives for 2 weeks, they would miss me, that they would suddenly “want” me because I had been gone. I had forgotten to remind myself that daddy had been gone for the same amount of time and that he ranked higher on the “want” scale.

Both my mother and my mother in-law explained that they recieved the same treatment while we were gone. That the kids always glommed onto the male role model and stated that they didnt want the female role model. They said the kids talked constantly about things daddy had tought them, told them, showed them. But the moms didnt mention a single moment in which my children actually said they missed ME in any way. So our moms lived my world and both of them empathized with me and acknowedged that it wasnt fair and that it was difficult to deal with.

Just to emphasize how much she didnt want me, my daughter had a temper tantrum about not wanting me to be around through the bedtime routine. My son followed her example and instead of letting it hurt me further, it was after 10pm after all, I just walked away. I fed the animals and closed down the house for the night. I joined them after my hubby had read them a bedtime story. He told them that I would be reading the next story and my daughter flew off the handle, kicking, screaming, saying she doesnt want me, asking why I didnt stay away in italy…I have to give points to my hubby here, he removed her from the room, and tried very hard to impress upon her that saying such hurtful things really hurts mommy and daddy, that mommy truly loves her and missed her like crazy while she was gone.

Meanwhile I started reading the second story with my son, he cuddled up to me and seemed happy to enjoy my company. Part way through the story my daughter joined us. My hubby had asked her to say sorry to her mommy for hurting her feelings, but when she joined us, she sat there with a stubborn look on her face and tears brimming her eyes. I didnt push it, it was her choice after all, if she didnt feel like apologizing then I wasnt going to force a false apology. I turned to her and asked if she would like to join us, she nodded yes, so I invited her to snuggle in on my other side for the rest of the story. Afterwards I gave her a hug and kiss, told her I loved her and to have sweet dreams. That night she slept all snuggled in to daddy chest with his heart beating beneath her ear. Our son had pretended to fall asleep during the story, I pretended that it meant he wanted to snuggle with me. So I turned off the lights and cuddled in next to him.

As I write this I have to ponder what the future holds, I have to admit to finally understanding all those mothers day cards, to wonder if I have done anything right.

When my children are grown will they look back fondly on memories of mom playing with them, laying on the floor with piles of blocks and barbie dolls. Will they remember the hours upon hours of sitting on the couch reading book after book until hunger pains drew us to the kitchen. Will they remember dress-up time and music parades? Will they remember walking adventures, hours of crafts, or all the places we have gone? Will they remember planting gardens and watching them grow? Walking through the pet store to see all the animals? Eating doughnuts while watching the cars go through the carwash? Dancing in the rain, splashing in the puddles and rescuing worms with straws? Partaking in the wonder of the robins nest as it fills with eggs, tiny hatchlings and then watching the baby birds fly away one day?

I understand all those cards that write about how a mothers work is never done, how we do many things day in and day out that are not often recognised and that a mother is a driving force in the formation of who these little people choose to become as adults. I understand the lists of “careers” a mother holds down, ie. taxi driver, chef, nanny, maid…

I also know that I must have done something right somewhere. For the most part I have gentle, loving children who have a very distinct wild side. They are mostly loving and affectionate to me and others. They are smart, inquizitive and active. They inspire me to be better than I started out and to make each day the best that it can be. I take comfort in knowing that even if they dont have many memories of their childhood spent with their loving mother, I am a major force in determining who they grow up to be. I know that my love and support, compassion and patience will affect how they are molded.

This morning my daughter gave me some recognition that took all my hurt away. Sitting at the breakfast table she said to me “I like it when daddy is not here, when it is just us” I asked her why and she said “it is quieter and I know you hear me”.

So I will walk on from here knowing that it is not that my children “do not want me” but that when daddy is home they want him and love him and need him. That when he is not here they want me and love me and need me. I will start this day and the next knowing that when my children say “I dont want you” they just mean that they dont want me right now, they dont need me right now.

I am needed, I am wanted and I am loved, I am all of these things ALL OF THE TIME. Just not to the same degree every moment of everyday.

 

Cherishing Parenthood With Every Breath! May 23, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 12:23 pm
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Ah for the love of children we do so many things. Those adorable little mini me’s who control every aspect of your life. I mean this in the most positive way. Children are wonderful, full of life and energy, always loving and amazing. Someone once told me…okay not just one someone and not just once…that parenting is wonderful, that I should hold every memory preciously in my hands and cherish EVERY memory! Okay, I will agree that raising children is a unique experience, a wonder to behold, a treasure…but I have to admit that I have trouble with the idea of cherishing EVERY moment of their lives! Let me tell you a story, of which I am positive there will be many more, of one such memory that I will not be cherishing…okay, so I might cherish part of it!

Last night I snuggled into my daughters bed with a stack of stories. One child tucked cozily under each arm. I opened the stories and read every word on every page, engaging my children by asking questions and letting them turn the pages. Half way through I notice a bit of a funky smell. I ask each child in turn if they are sick or poopy, both say no and we move on with the next page.

After story time I tuck my daughter into bed with hugs and kisses and ask her again if she is feeling alright. Her response is to say “well, maybe I feel a little sick, maybe I have a bubble in my tummy…” I lean in to give her a kiss and get a slobbery wet raspberry blown into my face! “oh, sorry, I farted” she giggles. Wiping her spit from my face I ask if she feels better now, she giggles again and I leave the room wishing her sweet dreams.

I go into the next room to tuck my son into his bed. He refuses to give me hugs or kisses. So I turn on his music, cover him up and whisper “I love you”. I leave his room with a sigh, now to load the dish washer and relax for a bit. As I am settling into the couch I catch movement from the corner of my eye. “what do you need?” I ask my little Booboo (my son). “I think I do want hugs and kisses” he says quietly. I pick him up and snuggle him all the way back upstairs, give great hugs and kisses and wish him a good night sleep. He stays there for the rest of the night.

When I go in to check on my children before going to bed I once again smell this undertone of funk. It is as though my daughter vomited and didnt brush her teeth afterwards. So not strong enough for there to actually be vomit in the room, but strong enough to tell me there is a residue somewhere. I cant find it in her dark bedroom in the middle of the night so I leave the room vowing to hunt it down in the morning!

The next morning starts off well and the mystery smell eludes my mind until about 10:30. With it being laundry day I head upstairs and go through each room collecting abandoned pieces of childrens clothing, towels and bedding. Upon entering my daughters room I am reminded of my vow to go stench hunting! I pull the bedding apart, but nothing there holds the smell, oh well, it is time to wash the bedding anyways. I continue searching behind the bed, in the drawers, the bottom of the toy box, under the bed…but I cannot for the life of me find what it is.

I decide to go start the laundry and continue my search later. At about 11 my daughter goes up to her room to get dressed. I follow along with an arm load of laundry. We start chatting about the smell, me asking questions, her providing logical 4 year old answers! The conversation goes something like this: Me: So, do you smell something?

Her: Yeah, it smells yucky!

Me: Any ideas on what it might be?

Her: Maybe it is your bum! Did you poop in your pants Mommy?

Me: No, but thanks for asking! It smells like something is rotting in here, can you think of any food or something that might be rotting in here?

Her: It’s okay Mommy, you can tell me if you pooped your pants, everyone has accidents sometimes!

Me: I didnt poop my pants but thank-you for your concern. back to the location of the smell though please. It smells like something died in here.

Her: oh, maybe it was Albert (very matter of factly)

Me: Albert? Who is Albert and why would he be dead in your bedroom?

Her: SHE is a ladybug and I lost her so she must have died in here somewhere! (this said matter of factly with eye rolling and snobby intonnation, as though I am really as dumb as I look!)

Me: Oh, well, even if Albert did die in here she wouldnt smell like that.

I put the stack of clothing I was carrying down on the top of her dresser. Pulling my hand out from under the stack I realize that my hand is wet…what the…I bring my hand towards my face and take a whiff…YUP! That is DEFINATELY the source of the rotten stench!

Removing the dry clothing from the stack and gathering up the soaked with stench clothing I start cleaning up the mess. Can YOU guess what that wet stuff was???

It was the fluid that seaped out of the holes of a sippy cup when the fermenting contents built up too much pressure to contain it any longer!

With my hubby working out of town it is quite often that when he comes home he falls into the roll of primary caregiver to our children. They dont want anything to do with me once they see him, I need a break to regain my sanity and he misses them. In general our set up usually works for us. One of the issues with this layout is that we have different survival skills and “rules” that we follow. One such rule is that I try really hard to NEVER EVER put milk into sippy cups with straws or valves. My wonderful hubby aparently does not feel the same way. On Friday night he put the kids to bed with sippy cups of milk. The next day it stayed there…did I mention that today is WEDNESDAY!!! How did this happen?

Well Friday night when we went in to check on our sleeping daughter the cup got over looked. Saturday it was mistaken as her almost always present water cup. Saturday night and Sunday the kids had gone camping with daddy and I never entered the bedroom. Monday the kids were taken care of by daddy, I assume he didnt have any reason to enter her room. That brings us to Tuesday, and more specifically Tuesday night and Wednesday morning!

VIOLA! PUKE IN A CUP!

So in conclusion, I definately expected science experiments when I became a parent, I just didnt expect them to be started by us, the parents, nore did I expect them to start at such a young age. So no, I will not cherish this moment, and I am certain that this is not the last time I will refuse to cherish a moment of my childrens childhoods! ;D

 

 

Suck It! October 13, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 10:45 am

We are now in the midst of Autumn and I feel this sense of impending doom. The winter will be soon upon us and our ability to go play outside will be at the mercy of the wind and cold temperatures!

So in order to prepare ourselves for this I have been trying to get us out of the house by 9am every morning and staying out there until we get too cold…we usually make it to lunch…today we did not!

Our outting for this morning was a leisurely walk down to our local Sobeys store to pick up a simple jug of milk. We made our way there at a 2.5 year olds pace…which means back tracking, stalling, jumping over each crack, checking out all the bugs, walking on the retaining block walls, etc…made it to the cookie club counter for our cookie of the day, wandered over to the milk section and then back towards the check-outs collecting a couple more items along the way.

Here we are standing in line waiting for our turn. There is a clerk bagging groceries, a little old lady infront of us, an older gentleman behind us, the middle aged cashier and another middle aged cashier on the other side of us. We are blocked in by human bodies…and more importantly adult human ears…when my almost 4 year old daughter turns to me and says, and I quote “When daddy gets home I am going to show him how you teached me to put my mouth down to it and suck, suck, SUCK IT!!”

I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from bursting out with laughter. All of the adults turned to me with eye brows raised, evil eyes and glares full of startled horror! My face turned red, my whole body shaking from supressed laughter.

I looked down at her and replied with “you mean, so that you dont squeeze it too hard and have it squirt all over the place?”

The eye brows rise higher, the evil eyes grow larger, everyone has stopped what they are doing to stare and listen! I imagine right about now one of them is reaching for their cell phone, child protective services at the touch of a button, they wont let me leave the store. I allow my smile to break, I look down at my child, she is staring at the chocolate bars, oblivious to the fact that everyone has stopped moving around her and is staring at her with baited breath.

“Right!” she says. “cause if it squirts everywhere you wont let me have it anymore!” I wait a few seconds, she has to say more, anything I say at this point will sound like a cover and my reputation as a calm, patient, and loving mother will have flown out the window forever!

“I love drinking juice boxes so so much!” Oh thank GOD!!!

All around me I hear a collective sigh of relief…as I leave the store I am texting to my husband about the most embarassing moment of my life…his only comment was “now imagine if it had been me standing in line with her!”