Posts filed under ‘parenting’
This weekend I removed a large, wooden rocking horse from our house and then I cried. My oldest didn’t play on that horse very often, but I still felt very sentimental about it. To be perfectly honest I couldn’t figure out why, but as I sat in the space where it used to reside a sadness washed over me.
The horse was quite large and when my son was small it sat in between the dormers of my bedroom. From the time my son was an infant we read books, (without fail), every morning. I kept two boxes of books on a dresser in my bedroom and when he got old enough he would go to the boxes, pick out three books (always three), and then crawl into bed with me. Sometimes he would climb down and request three more and other times he would head off to rock on that horse, but every morning as I waited for him to choose books I would watch him and see that horse out of the corner of my eye.
At some point my son’s pattern changed, as all children’s patterns do. One morning he didn’t request three books or climb into bed, but the rocking horse remained in my room.
That rocking horse marked my son’s growth in a strange way. In the beginning my son could barely reach the top of the horse’s head. Then he could reach the head but barely reach his leg up over the seat. Then he could get his leg over the seat, but barely touch the base of the horse with his feet. Then he could touch the base and just like that he could easily climb aboard and rock back and forth as quickly as he wanted to.
After my second child was born the horse moved into a different part of the house and has moved around a few times since then. My youngest will sometimes reach up and touch the horse’s mane or tail, but otherwise doesn’t show much interest in him. A few days ago he looked as if he wanted to ride, so I picked him up and placed him on the seat, but as soon as he was up he wanted to go back down.
The horse took up a lot of space in our house. When we sat on the floor to play with cars or trains or board games it always seemed slightly in the way. I moved it to the corners of the room or next to the wall but it was so big it always seemed to find its way back into our play spaces.
A few weeks ago my husband, (who believes we should get rid of 90% of the toys in our home), said it was time for that horse to go. He hauled it out of the basement and up the steps and I cried as he did so.
I cried with the realization that children grow quickly. I cried because that horse was strangely tied to a happy time of cuddling and reading books with my oldest. I cried because I felt I was denying my youngest the privilege of owning and using that toy.
And yet, in my heart, I knew that the toy was taking up space and that it simply wasn’t being used often enough to warrant its stay. So with that realization we took it out of the house and I said goodbye.
My oldest still loves to read books. If I take him to the library he’ll ask me to read the same books we brought home fifty times in a row. He asks me to read during breakfast and lunch and often sits on the couch with me to snuggle and read, but none of those occasions feels quite the same as the memory of that little boy, dressed in a sleeper, crawling into bed to read with me.
The horse had absolutely nothing to do with those books or that time in our lives, other than the fact that it sat in between the dormers of my bedroom. Yet, somehow my brain connected the two.
My youngest, who just turned sixteen months, didn’t start out a reader, but he is suddenly climbing into my lap and handing books to me. There is no place I’d rather be than resting my cheek against my son’s soft hair as I feel the weight of his tiny body against my legs and chest.
It is a reminder that this phase of plopping in my lap will also come to an end one day. A reminder that my children grow and become better, more competent humans every day, but a piece of me still yearns for those snuggling babies.
I spend a lot of my day moving things from Point A to Point B. I move the dishes from the cabinet, to the table, to the dishwasher and back to the cabinet every evening, only to start all over again tomorrow. I move the clothes from the drawers, to the kitchen table, to my children’s bodies, to the washing machine, to hangers in the basement and back to their drawers within a day or so.
This is life; perpetually moving things from one place to another. The same can be said of so many things. The towels that we use to dry our bodies, the books we read, the toys my children play with.
We take them out, do something with them, move them, move them again and finally start back wherever it was we began.
As a stay-at-home parent I spend a good portion of my day putting things back where they belong. Much of this is to blame on my fifteen month old who likes to dump the contents of each and every toy box onto the floor, spend two seconds looking at the items on the floor and then moving on to the next unsuspecting box.
After spending a few hours alone with our kids my husband asked me to downsize their toy collection. With the little guy dumping everything onto the floor my husband could barely see the carpet below his feet.
This time I recruited the help of my four year old and it went surprisingly well! I explained that his dad and I wanted him to look carefully through his belongings. I said, “some toys you play with a lot, some a little and some you almost never touch. Our goal is to figure out which toys you really love.”
I also told him that he often receives toys from friends and family. I explained that people think long and hard about what to buy him, but sometimes he doesn’t find the toy very fun to play with and when that happens its okay to pass it on to another child who might enjoy it more than he does.
We also talked about how its important to get rid of toys we don’t play with so we have plenty of room to enjoy the toys we love. After all we can’t build a Lego city if we don’t have room on the floor. We need to get rid of unwanted toys to make space for fun.
Then I explained the process we would follow. I would pull each toy off of the shelf and he would analyze just how much he loved, liked or honestly didn’t care much for it.
I thought he might say he loved everything, but he contemplated each item for just a second or two and then placed it in the appropriate pile.
He genuinely wanted to pass his toys on to someone else who might like them more. He also realized that it was more important to pick through the toys himself. This made sure Mommy and Daddy didn’t accidentally donate a favorite item.
Sometimes he got distracted by a newfound toy. He’d take it to the floor and start to play, but I was adamant that we finish our analysis before any playing could begin. Once he realized I was serious he moved more quickly through the toys so he could get back to playing. An hour later we had a box and a half of unwanted toys ready to leave the house.
Best of all he was proud that he helped weed out the toys. When my parents arrived a few days later he proudly told them “We got rid of a bunch of toys. From now on we’re only keeping the ones I really love to play with!”
A few days before Halloween my husband looked into the massive bowl of candy and said “you did not buy enough.” “You don’t think that’s enough,” I asked, “It’s ten bags of candy!”
I really didn’t want to run to the store to buy more, but I had a sinking feeling he was right. A few years ago we greeted a few dozen trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, but things have changed recently and children are now arriving in droves.
Our tiny upscale neighborhood is surrounded by lower income housing. New high rises have altered the landscape and multi-generational housing is the norm in neighboring communities.
In the past children would walk door-to-door, but now they hop out of cars that line up on our street. It is clear they are driving in from somewhere else. To accommodate the increase our little bowl of candy grows larger and larger each year.
My son enjoys Halloween more than any other holiday. Forget his birthday or Christmas or any other occasion; Halloween is his absolute favorite time of the year. Every year we create a count down chain on October 1st with thirty-one links. He removes one every day and gets downright giddy as we approach the final week before Halloween.
When my son was two and three he enjoyed giving out candy even more than he enjoyed receiving it. In fact, last year we only walked to two or three houses before he asked to return home to hand out more candy.
This year he wanted to go trick-or-treating but he was also just as excited to answer the door. Whenever he heard a knock he went running to the front of the house. He even lined up the candy so he could quickly dole it out when children came.
He answered the door for an hour or so and then my husband and I took him out to collect candy. We walked down one street and back up another before he told us he was too tired to continue.
My mom gave out candy in our absence and when we returned there were only a few pieces left in the bowl. My son planted himself in the front entrance and waited. Within a few minutes we had only one piece of candy left so I turned off the light above our front door.
When a group of children knocked on the door he started to cry. “Mama I want to give them candy,” he said. I calmly explained that we were out of candy and that we didn’t have anything left to give the trick-or-treaters. “But I have candy,” he said.
I asked if he was referring to the candy in his bucket. The candy he collected walking door-to-door. “Yes,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I want to give them MY candy.” I handed over his bucket and watched him dig inside it. Within seconds he was handing over HIS candy to a group of four girls.
The oldest girl in the group asked “Is this your candy?” and when my son nodded she dug into her own bag and pulled out the biggest candy bar she could find. As he was handing her a piece of candy she secretly slid that candy bar into his bucket. She recognized his generosity and wanted to return the favor. The two other girls she was with reached into their bags and did the same. Each picked out a piece of candy he might enjoy.
When we stepped back inside I set those pieces of candy aside. My son returned to his spot inside the front door and patiently waited for more trick-or-treaters to arrive. He held proudly onto that bucket and gave away all but one piece of candy he collected that evening. (He set aside one piece for me and kept a lollipop for himself.)
It’s one of those moments I wish I could have captured on video. There was my son, a little four year old boy so excited about Halloween and so excited to make the other children happy.
I cannot believe my little baby is just shy of five months. Time seems to move so much faster this time around. The adjustment from one to two took a little longer than I expected, but as the nap schedule begins to normalize things are definitely getting easier.
So far adding another baby has made very little impact to our finances. Other than the initial medical costs for labor and delivery I haven’t paid for anything big. In fact, other than diapers, wipes and a new dresser for the nursery I haven’t spent much on this new little guy.
I kept all of my older son’s original baby equipment, which means this guy is playing on hand-me-down activity centers, jumperoos and bouncy seats. I did splurge on a rock-and-play sleeper I found in the clearance section of Target for $30. I sold my old one for $20 a few months before I found out I was pregnant. It was actually a good deal because the new one was softer and vibrated.
The little guy’s initial wardrobe was provided by generous relatives and friends. Of course he outgrew those tiny outfits in a matter of months, but so far we haven’t needed to buy any new ones. Although the boys were born in opposite seasons there always seem to be a small pile of my older son’s clothes that are appropriate for the weather. At this point he is wearing nothing but onesies and button down sleepers.
When my first child was born I took pictures at least two or three times a week and I dressed him in a different outfit for just about every photo set. This time around I simply don’t want to spend money on clothes the baby will outgrow. Babies are awfully cute in their birthday suits so why bother covering them up?
My approach to money changed slightly for this little guy, but my approach to sleep is as different as night and day. For one, I decided to give up on the crib and co-sleeper at night. With only one baby in the house I could rest from time to time. I rarely did, but I had the option when the first one napped. With two in the house I am constantly busy and feel ridiculously tired. My oldest just happened to give up his nap after the baby was born, which means someone is always awake and in need of attention.
In order to rest as much as possible I made the decision to co-sleep. I am awake just long enough to roll over and nurse him. Then I typically fall right back to sleep.
The other big sleep related difference involved letting the baby stir a bit before consoling him. I never let my oldest fuss or cry. Until he reached the nine month mark I jumped at the tiniest whimper. This time around I let the baby fuss just a little, (no more than three minutes), before consoling him.
As a result I think he’s a much better sleeper. I can place him in the crib completely awake after nothing but a song and a pat on the back and he’ll fall asleep within a minute or two without me.
My oldest often nursed to sleep, but this guy never does. I must admit that I miss that sleepy cuddle. This baby typically eats when he wakes from a nap and is quite active and awake during feeding. He looks up at me with great big blue eyes and squeezes my hand, which is a completely different feeling.
The hardest part of having two children is the simple realization that I cannot recreate the same scenario with which my first was raised. This little guy has to share time with his older brother. He has to wait a lot more than the first and rarely gets 100% of my attention.
It’s also interesting to watch the interaction between number one and number two. While my oldest was only influenced by my husband and I, this little guy gets to watch and listen to his older brother. There is a whole lot more activity in the house this time around and the little one loves to watch his big brother!
In terms of personality the two seem very similar. They were both quiet babies who seem interested in observing the world around them. Neither creates much of a fuss and both seem content the majority of the time.
Number two appears to be a much happier baby though. My oldest is quite serious and I struggled to elicit a giggle for months. I feel like this guy came out of the womb laughing and smiling.
So far number one doesn’t care about number two. He is rather indifferent to his entrance into our family. He’s shown very little jealousy although I do see a bit when other people light up to see his brother and goo-goo over him. He’s been the center of attention for three years and I can tell the shift in position bothers him, which is perfectly natural.
I read a lot of parenting books and sibling focused topics are next on my agenda. Let’s hope they enjoy each others company somewhere along the way.
It started innocently enough. “Can I take a ten minute shower?” I asked my husband. “Sure,” he answered, “no problem.”
When I walked upstairs the three month old was asleep in the cradle. A few minutes later I emerged from the shower and immediately heard the baby crying.
This child rarely cries. For the first three months of his life he really only cried when hungry or gassy. This cry sounded similar to the one I heard when he received his two month vaccinations.
He was screaming like something hurt. I pulled off all of his clothes, checked his fingers and toes and other extremities and found nothing wrong. I didn’t hear any gas emerging and his belly wasn’t bubbling or rumbling.
My husband tried to quiet him but couldn’t. I tried to quiet him and continuously failed. I was worried he was in pain.
I’m terrible about medical issues and tend to panic. I blame my craziness on the terrible experience I had with medical professionals ten years ago.
After two hours I rocked the baby to sleep, but a few minutes later he woke screaming like he was in pain again. Usually sleep seems to reset the clock with babies. If you can get them to fall asleep they usually wake happy. I began to panic even more.
I asked my husband for advice. He suggested driving to the hospital. We put the baby in the car and he immediately quieted. It was the darnedest thing,. The minute I snapped him in he fell silent. We drove around for thirty minutes and he didn’t make another peep. He didn’t fall asleep, just sat in the seat sucking on his hands quietly.
As my second child you’d think I would have tried something like that before panicking, but when a baby who never cries ends up wailing for two and a half hours I found myself completely overwhelmed.
My older son cried much more than this one does, but even he never hit the sound level or intensity of this one.
I still have no idea what happened that night. He was fine when we brought him home and hasn’t cried like that since.
I’m feeling surprisingly anxious about the arrival of child number two. For the past three years my son has been the primary focus of my life and I’m not sure how best to balance the wants and needs of two children.
I’d love to hear any parenting advice from those of you who have two or more. Do you have advice on carving out time for the older child when you are feeling exhausted from staying up nursing/feeding the first? Do you have advice on handling sibling rivalry? What about the basics? What worked for you in the first few days, weeks and months?
I’m not sure what to expect and I’d love to hear any words of wisdom from those of you have already lived through it. If you have any advice feel free to leave a comment below. Oh and if you have any ideas for baby names make sure to let me know that too!
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to drop my little guy off at preschool. I expected a bit of separation anxiety and perhaps a few tears. After three straight years together I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be hard to place my son in the arms of his teacher and walk away. I thought a lot about what my son might experience, but I didn’t realize how powerful my own emotions would be.
The first few days of drop off my son walked into the classroom with a smile, but I left the school in tears. For the record my husband found it pretty difficult to walk away too. The hardest part was leaving him behind when I knew he really didn’t NEED to go.
Unlike moms who drop their children off at daycare, my son doesn’t need to go to school twice a week for a few hours a day. While it certainly helps me complete invoices for my husband’s billing, prepare dinner, grocery shop in a third of the time and clean the house without little hands placing toys in front of the vacuum cleaner or broom, I could accomplish those tasks with him around. I didn’t enroll him for any of those reasons. I sent him because we couldn’t consistently schedule play dates with other kids and our neighborhood playground is void of children.
I don’t believe that three year olds require socialization, but I did think he would have a lot of fun exploring the world with other children beside him. After a ridiculous amount of contemplation, including investigating various school philosophies and costs I chose a preschool that offered the best experiences and opportunities for my son. Each week he sings along with a professional music teacher, cooks with the teachers and participates in tons of play based activities alongside eight other children with temperaments similar to his own.
He cried at two of the first five days of school, but the teacher assures me he is fine a few minutes after drop off. (Interestingly those tears did not come on the first two days of school.) Every school night he lays in bed and tells me all about the days adventures; what children he played with, what toys he discovered, what books he read, what songs he sang and which playground he explored.
Despite all of this I must admit that I still find it hard to drop him off. It’s only two days a week, but each morning I get a little sad at the thought of taking him to school.
The first few days I went shopping after leaving the school grounds and decided I really shouldn’t do that anymore. I quickly found myself adding toys and games to the cart that I never intended to buy. I wanted to provide something special for my son to look forward to after pick up. This started out as simple things like baking sugar cookies and taking him to the playground, but I quickly found myself purchasing unnecessary items from the clearance sections of Target. I didn’t buy anything that cost more than two or three dollars, but I believe guilt was factoring into my purchases more than anything else.
Tomorrow is another school day. I will head home after drop off and do not plan to perform any shopping other than buying groceries for at least the next month.
Believe it or not I still haven’t settled on a preschool for my son. I began contemplating the preschool versus no-preschool option at the end of last year and visited a few open houses in January. I applied to two schools in our area and my son was accepted into both.
Initially I wavered on the idea of sending him to school at all. I really enjoy my time at home with him and I certainly don’t want to kick him out of the nest any sooner than necessary, but there are not a lot of children in our neighborhood to play with during the day. The majority of kids attend daycare or preschool, so on most days my son and I are the only ones at the playground. I’ve tried to set up play dates with other kids, but they tend to fall through more often than not and while I do not believe formal socialization is necessary I do think it would be nice for my son to make a few friends his age.
So I’m pretty certain I’ll send him to preschool in the fall and I narrowed my choices down to two very different options. The first, is a co-op, which requires fund raising, school cleaning, mandatory meetings and regular interaction in the classroom. While I’m not a fan of fund raising or cleaning I do like the idea of attending school with my son. He tends to be very timid around other children and I think it might help to enter the world of school with me close by. The school does not require forced separations, which means I can stay every day if he is not ready for me to leave the classroom.
The second option is a traditional preschool located in a church near my home. This school is within walking distance which means we could walk to and from school on nice days. The overall class size is slightly smaller; 9 children and 2 adults, versus the co-op which contains 12 children supervised by 1 teacher and 2 parents.
The major downside of the traditional preschool is that they have a drop and cry policy, which means you give your kid a big kiss on the first day of school and say goodbye. I have a feeling that my son will cry during his first week or two as he is very attached to me and I’m not certain that I can stand the sight of those tears or the fear he might feel in leaving me. As I mentioned above the co-op never forces you to leave your child and you can stay as long as they need you in the classroom. I believe the experience overall will be better for my son in the traditional setting, (once he gets through the tears), but this policy is causing me to lean towards the co-op model.
The traditional preschool is also in session longer each day; 4 hours versus 2.5 for the co-op. The majority of that hour includes lunch. My son will only attend two days a week this year which amounts to an extra 3 hours of school. Three hours doesn’t seem like a ton of time this year, but next year the difference would be 7.5 hours at the co-op versus 12. Again I’m not certain that I want to spend more time away from him as I really do enjoy our time together.
Having said all of that I do believe the traditional preschool would offer more for my son. They have a weekly storyteller come to their classroom and a weekly music class taught by a local teacher/performer. I believe they travel on more field trips and have indoor and outdoor playground equipment so they can be physically active regardless of the weather.
Looking forward I also think my son will gain more from his experience in the traditional school. The teachers in the three and four year old classrooms are very engaging and excited to teach the students and explore with them. The classrooms are bright, colorful and inviting.
At two and a half my son is already learning to sound out words and read. He can spell his own name and ten or so other other words, so I’m not concerned about the educational aspects of preschool, though I would like to see him engage in new and challenging experiences as he ages. At two I think of preschool like a big playgroup at three he may be able to attain more from his experience there.
Everything in my heart is telling me to choose the traditional preschool, but the fact that he will probably cry is pulling me towards the co-op model because it won’t force him to separate from me until he’s ready.
My very first memory as a child is crying in preschool and I’m certain I’m pushing some of my fears and phobias onto his first few days and weeks there. I see in him the timid child who doesn’t want to leave his mommy and as a mom I’m not so certain I’m ready to leave him either.
I’d love to hear comments. Any advice or wisdom? I’m really struggling to decide.
Before I had children I didn’t understand just how different every child’s development timeline can be. Have you ever wondered why one child is so difficult to understand when the child next to him can speak so clearly? Why a boy is such a neat eater when his sister is so ridiculously messy? Or why it takes some children nine months to walk and others nearly twice as long?
Since my son was born I’ve quickly learned that all children have their own timeline for learning. My son learned to stand and cruise the furniture at six or seven months and to walk not too long thereafter. He can climb jungle gym equipment like a child twice his age and has fine motor skills that rival adults, but until the last few months he spoke very little.
Just like adults children have specific skills and desires. My son has an amazing level of concentration for his age. He’s also very good with puzzles and solving problems, but take the kid to art class and he’d rather count crayons and scissors than color. While all of the other children are making shapes out of play dough my son gathers up the tools and cookie cutters and figures out how they make shapes and designs. He’s more interested in how a toy works than the flashing lights that appear on the front of it. He’s the kind of child who wants to turn on all of the switches in a room and push on all of the buttons on the remote.
As he grows I’ve come to understand a lot more about him and surprisingly about myself too. The first few times I took him to art class I wanted him to paint and color. He put a crayon in his hand and made a few lines and circles on the paper, but after a couple of minutes he grew bored of coloring. So he started listing the colors of the crayons and picking up and holding the scissors. At first I urged him to put the crayon to paper, but it was clear he had a different agenda. He looked at me as if to say, “Yup mom all done coloring. I’ve moved on. Why haven’t you?”
I must admit it felt strange to watch all of the other children involved in the activity when he was clearly working on something else all his own. But then I stepped back from the situation and thought, “What am I stressing over. This kid isn’t even two.”
As adults many of us sit in a box we cannot escape from. We go here and do this and expect that. Why would I go to an art class and not paint a pretty picture? But the real interest isn’t always in the art itself. As my son has found a good deal of fascination is with the tools that create it.
I’ve come to learn that my little man sees the world through eyes all his own. There is no need to push him or change his ways, at least not at this juncture in his young life.
I hope that he remains a little engineer. That he looks at the world and questions how things work and how to make things go faster. Although he’ll need to obey his teacher and pass his tests at some point in time I hope he continues to think outside of the box, at least just a little.
The world is full of children who create a picture when you hand them a crayon, but how many of them ask how the crayon was created? My little guy isn’t old enough to ask that question yet, but in time I’m certain it’s the type of question he’ll be asking.
Before my son was born I intended to blog every week about his growth and development. At fourteen months I’ve written a total of 11 posts.
I intended to make sugar cookies from scratch and bake two big batches for the grandparents this weekend. Instead I bought a roll of cookie dough from the grocery store and made a total of 6 cookies.
I have every intention of making it to the playground every afternoon, but some weeks I don’t make it there at all.
I intended to wash my son’s clothes in eco-friendly baby detergent, but some days I wash all of our clothes together and just toss in the regular soap.
I had every intention of feeding my son an organic diet, but suddenly realized I’m feeding him non-organic cottage cheese.
When my son turned one I intended to write down everything he learned in his first year. You know, how he can point to his toes, clap, wave bye-bye and all that other fun stuff. Well I managed to write it down, but then somehow lost the piece of paper I wrote it down on.
When my son wasn’t sleeping through the night a friend told me to let him cry-it-out. I wrestled and worried about her advice for days. Should I coddle him? Should I console him? Should I leave him to cry? If I let him cry will he grow to hate and resent me? If I rock him to sleep will he want to be comforted before bed for the next 18 years?
My worry was unfounded. Ultimately I left him in the crib and found he didn’t cry at all. He fussed for just a few minutes and fell asleep. All that worry was for nothing. He was perfectly fine.
I am a perfectionist at heart. As a child I felt utter disappointment at any grade other than an A+. As a first-time mom I want everything to be perfect. I want to do everything just right. I love my son so much that I don’t want to disappoint or damage him. I don’t want to do anything wrong.
I keep having to remind myself that motherhood isn’t graded. The Facebook pictures I see of mom’s baking cookies with four immaculately dressed children are unbelievably impressive, but those moms aren’t me.
In truth I want my son to know that we all make mistakes. That no one is perfect and that we should not pursue perfection at all. I would give anything to tell my former self to relax. That I was good enough. That I didn’t need straight A’s. If you spend all your time trying to be perfect you’ll never be yourself. Your life will never seem worthy enough, the goal of perfection is simply unattainable.
Above all else I want my son to know that I love him more than I ever could have imagined loving another little soul and that every decision I make and every action I take is being made to the best of my ability.