It was a really good weekend. We stayed close to home. My little boy is going through something right now. Some sort of transition which just breaks my heart and makes me so sad. There’s so much new independence with turning 4, he’s dressing himself, writing, starting to read, so so busy at school. I guess with that maybe comes fear? Plus he got really really sick two weeks ago and maybe had a hard time transitioning back into the routine. Whatever it is, a lot of old fears and anxieties are coming back, full force. We’re trying to breathe through it, but it’s hard.
But this post helped. So this weekend we stayed close to home. It was kind of rainy and cloudy so we spent time with his marbles (his new obsession) and in the garden just playing. “Bare feet?” he asks, his eyes twinkling. Of course. We checked out a yard sale, a quiet playground, but mostly just stayed home. He relaxed and didn’t seem as worried.
And we relaxed too. Whole Food sushi was the Mother’s Day dinner. (By the way, that’s a great alternative to ordering sushi out, cheaper and more choice.) We played outside in the evenings and he fell into bed happy and asleep.
Has anyone else experienced this almost-4 anxiety? What did you do? Just wait through it?
Here’s my new big boy. Today he gave up the last na-na (pacifier) for good. He agreed to throw it out in the trash in exchange for a trip to the toy store. This event was preceded by much discussion. We’d been playing with the idea for a while, he’d even been sleeping most nights without it. We’d thrown a couple out after they were “broken”. (I cut the tips off.) And we had talked and talked about saying no more na-na seriously for like a month.
I try not to to stress the whole “big boy” thing. But it is a struggle. There seem to be two schools of thought, child-centered or pushing them along a little. I admit, I didn’t love the idea of him going to preschool still needing a na-na for nap time. I also felt like it was getting manipulative. We had limited it pretty successfully to naptime and bedtime and he started pushing those limits a bit. I wanted to follow what he wanted to do, at the same time I do feel like he needs a little push now and then.
So he threw the na-na out this morning, we hiked, and then went to the toy store and he fell asleep in the car. He didn’t stay asleep when I put him down and then he asked for his na-na. I told him we had thrown the last one away and that’s why he had a new train.
Oh and he just wept. It was like he was in mourning. He just wept and wept. I know he had to process it and I’m not sure if I had waited if it would have been any easier. And he did bounce back after a trip to the farmer’s market and playing in his pool with a friend. Tonight he fell asleep, no problem, although we’ll see how the night goes.
It was a triumphant, but sad day.
The other day when we were leaving the house I saw a mom with a baby on a bike seat and an older boy riding his own bike. The boy looked like he was refusing to cross our little side street and the mom had that look of frustration. You know. THAT look.
What struck me about the scene was how honest it was because too often I don’t see that. We’ve been spending many mornings in parks lately and I find myself participating in what I call “public parenting.” I will be EXTRA patient and explain every little motivation I have for doing what we’re doing and I see other moms do it too. Like our three-year olds care why we have to leave the park or why they should stop throwing sand. I feel like we’re performing for each other. I state these long explanations, almost like I’m explaining to other moms why I’m doing what I’m doing. Why do we do this? Has parenting (Oh, how I hate that word!) become a performance art?
Husband is giving me a little break this morning and is taking Z. swimming. I’m prepping food to take to the beach since it’s going to be so hot the next two days. I roasted some beets I got at the farmer’s market and made a spicy pasta salad. My fingers hurt a little from the poblanos! Looking forward to hanging on the beach the next couple of days.
If it’s not too early, have a lovely weekend!
I so need to be sending out positive energy right now. I’ve been sending out too many negative vibes. One is we’re trying to lay down the law with Z. I have a feeling that in my effort to pick my battles, I haven’t been picking enough of them. There are certain things he just needs to start doing starting with letting others do things for him like get up with him in the morning and put him to bed. This mama needs a break, you know? But battling involves firm words and negativity.
And we are so in the summer slide at school with the beautiful weather and hot days in unairconditioned old New England buildings. Have to keep the kids motivated and unfortunately I think that’s involved a little too many harsh words rather than positivity. Sometimes I just want to say, come on guys, it’s June! They’re going to be high schoolers so soon and as with most adolescents, especially middle school boys, they don’t really want to grow up and will fight it every step of the way.
I guess that’s the theme for this week: Helping kids grow up and become more independent when they’re ready and need to but don’t want to. Oy. Bring on the iced coffee!
Z’s been really into drawing lately which makes me deliriously happy for some reason. My father and brothers are very artistically talented and I never felt I was so I guess I’m hoping he got some of their genes. I really believe in having high quality art supplies. We always did growing up. We had our own sketchbooks that we picked out ourselves, really nice markers and pencils, etc. I’m trying to do the same for Z. We’re lucky enough to have a built in china cabinet with some drawers in our “dining room”. (Really a playroom with the kitchen table!) Those drawers have pretty much been devoted to art supplies. Every morning, Z rushes to those drawers to pull out his favorite medium, pencils and papers, and proceeds to fill up pages and pages of his “persons”. He’s working on smiles now and bodies. He reminds me of my brothers, the way he can do this for hours and hours. He also likes to paint. He really enjoyed watercolors for a while and I also bought some Crayola washable paint that he will paint with outside. I’m really hoping this interest is lifelong. The only problem is sketchbooks! He fills them daily! I’ve been trying to bring home recycled paper from work, discarded essays and leftover printouts from websites. It’s also hard to throw older drawings away. I want to keep everything but the volume is incredible! Yet, we really don’t have the space and he’ll draw on anything including Mama’s mortgage statement. For his birthday, our plan is to turn his old drop side crib into an easel kind of like this. That’s our plan anyway so we’ll see. In the meantime, our table has turned into a home for “works in progress” and I couldn’t be happier!
I don’t read that many blogs religiously, so it’s funny that two of the blogs I keep up with recently wrote about the same topic pretty much on the same day. Being present with your kids and feeling guilty when you’re not. It was interesting to me because it seems to be such a universal issue among vastly different moms and lifestyles. TheGirlWho writes from home and EarthMama farms and if you read the comments, they range from working outside the home moms to stay-at-home moms and everyone in between. We all feel it.
But when did we start or did we always? I really don’t think my mother worried about “being present” for her 4 kids. She just did it. And I know my grandmother with her 6 kids didn’t give a crap if she was present or not. When did we start worrying about this? And has the worrying been another distraction from being present with our kids? Have we become too “meta” about parenting? Or is wanting to be present a good thing?
I guess I thought that this guilty feeling was more of a working outside the home mom feeling because you are with your kids less hours, you feel like every minute has to count. But it seems like from these two posts and the comments that it applies to other moms as well. When did we start feeling guilty for thinking about the dishes or that book we want to read when we’re playing with matchbox cars?
The best moments I have are when I’m not thinking about it but when I’m lost in the tower we’re making or the picture we’re drawing. And sometimes, Z. is lost in his own play and I slip out of the room. Because he doesn’t need me to be present in that moment. In fact, if I was, it would distract him and he would lose what he was doing. So that’s the time I do what I feel like I need to do, like the dishes or knitting. And then I will hear the “A-Mummy?” and then I know it’s time.
-I got published! It’s here if you want to read it. Probably everyone gets published on Yahoo! Voices and it’s an old blog post but it was the one highlight to a really sucky week.
-The last two weeks were awful. MCAS, another stomach virus, eye-deep in politics at work. 8th grade girls crying, the works. My nerves were frayed by Friday morning and I spent much of Friday afternoon crying in the bedroom in between taking care of Z. and making dinner. My husband was wrecked from night shifts back-to-back with morning shifts. I was asleep by 8:30 which caused a whole new outlook on life Saturday morning.
-I’ve realized that Z. is a very physical child like all little boys I guess. He loves to wrestle and climb on us and I think Z hitting me is a part of that. I think the problem is that I’m not a very physical person. I have a bad back, a c-section scar, and a generally wimpy tolerance to pain. So I’m trying to figure out how to set those boundaries with him with my body but still respect his need for that physicality. (Is that a word?)
-Hoping this week will be smoother. It’s a four day week and then one more week until vacation. No more MCAS and just regular teaching. May your week be smooth as well!
We used to have these neighbors we called “The Simpsons”. They yelled and screamed all the time. We knew every aspect of their lives mostly because they spoke very loudly about it in a thin-walled apartment building. The beginning of the school year is a stressful time in our house because we’re transitioning out of our lazy, summer routine to a hurried, school year morning schedule. My toddler never does this well. On morning was just such a morning. There were tears, pleadings, and even threats.
“We sound like the Simpsons,” my husband sighed wearily. As usual by “we”, he meant me.
But oh my god.
He’s right. We (I) do.
I sounded like this family I had always rolled my eyes at. I was YELLING at a TODDLER about TIME. Like he knew or game a crap that his mama was contractually obligated to be at work by 7:45am.
My husband’s offhand comment resonated with me. Since that morning, I’ve tried not to rush it. I attempt to wake up a half-hour earlier, though not always successfully, so I can drink my coffee and pack bags before Z. wakes up. I try to pack lunches the night before. (Oh how I hate packing lunches. I used to really like it.) I risk being late as I gently, but not forcefully, prod Z. along. This is hard. I hate being late. I do think though that a soft voice helps move along the morning. And I don’t sound like the Simpsons.
I realized I have a hard time being needed so much. This past weekend Z was really sick and clingy. He wanted to be held constantly, wanted me to sleep in his bed, couldn’t seem to let me out of his sight. It was exhausting, I admit it. They “A-Mummys” were constant and persistent as he would catch me losing focus on him. There just wasn’t enough of me for him. The fever finally broke yesterday and he’s better now with the warm weather. Right in time for me to go back to work.
I’ve been trying to play mindfully with him and fight through my distractions. I love when I lose myself in the play, in the building of blocks and the doing of puzzles, and forget all the things I “have” to do.
Yesterday was our First Day. The first day we could stay outside until dinner in the yard instead of stuck inside counting down the hours after nap and before dinner. I think the heat and fresh air healed him. Tomorrow, I will take Z to our local playground after school and play until dinnertime and let him get reacquainted with the toys and sand there.
I’m taking some baby steps twoard my goal of writing for the education market. I’ve applied for some jobs here and there and I’m working on designing a position for myself here that’s more conducive to that. It feels good to take these steps instead of thinking about taking steps and constantly daydreaming. This is the time. It is my own first day.
My little boy says this all the time. “A-Mummy?” “Yes Z?” And then he shows me a new dance move or a funny face. Or sometimes he has nothing but breaks into a pose.
I admit, I find it frustrating sometimes. “Z, I’m right here.” I’ll say because it feels like the hundredth time. “I’m sitting right next to you.”
But am I? Am I really? Yes I’m sitting in the same room with him or next to him on the couch but am I involved with what he’s doing or am I eyeing the Athleta catalogue on the coffee table? Am I really building a tower of blocks with him or am I thinking about something that happened at work?
I think “A-Mummy?” is a reminder. A reminder to be mindful to really be with him. The times I am, I’m happiest and the most content so it is a good reminder no matter how frustrating. And sometimes it is frustrating, annoying even. For example, I feel no obligation to not take a break and do something else when he’s watching Thomas. I think he should be able to play by himself sometimes and let me make dinner. And I think that’s okay. But I need to remember when he is saying “A-Mummy?” over and over that he’s reminding me. I am first and foremost a mummy and I need to be present.