Feelings are having me

We’ve slowly been removing baby things from our living room area.

Before my second kid was born, we had a play kitchen and 273545585 pieces of play food just off the dining area, in an effort to get my kid out of the real kitchen but still feel like a part of the action. I got freaking sick of picking up said pieces of play food, and when I was pregnant with my second, “picking up” meant kicking them across the room into one big pile so I could yell at my husband to PICK THOSE UP the second he got home from work.

That was moved to the playroom many moons ago.

We used to have this colorful foam mat that fit together like puzzle pieces. We got it to save our kids’ noggins from smashing open on our laminate flooring while they were learning to be upright. While it did that, it also served as a thing for my kids to rip apart, chew, throw, and hide. My cat threw up on it. My oldest kid peed all over it during potty training. At that point I rinsed off the pee pieces and threw everything in the closet in a tearful hormonal rage (read: pregnancy).

We actually sold that (I cleaned it. A lot.) for real money. It’s gone.

We had this huge bouncy seat thing in the living room, too. When it was in use, it was SO LOUD, but it did its job of keeping each of my pre-mobile babies content for exactly 20 minutes (no more, no less) while I prepared and scarfed down my own lunch before I had to feed them.

Sold that too. Boom.

Since before our kids were born, we’ve always had a Pack N Play set up in our living room. It served as a diaper changing station, and it held loads of crap. Cloth diapers, disposable diapers, wipes, butt paste…and in the bottom: baby carriers, swim stuff, shoes, etc. etc. etc. In between kids’ diaper needs, my oldest napped in it, we took it camping, it even made a trip to the beach.

Since we don’t need a diaper station anymore because my daughter is a potty training ROCKSTAR, we took it down this weekend. I emptied it, found homes for all the random stuff, threw some stuff away, cleaned some stuff, and we….packed up the Pack N Play. It’s been a fixture in our home ever since we moved in. You can actually see our fireplace now; I think I forgot we had one. My son immediately wanted it back. He’s never known this house without it.

My husband looked over and saw me standing over the Pack N Play pieces and the still-full diaper caddy.

H: Hey Lady (He calls me Lady.)

Me, blinking away the tears: …y-yeah?

H: You gonna put this stuff away?

Me: Well, I don’t know what to do with it! Do we keep it? Throw it away? Sell it? Give it away? Do we need wipes anymore? Will our kids have any accidents? I haven’t changed a poopy diaper in weeks! WHAT IF I’VE CHANGED MY LAST POOPY DIAPER AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS MY LAST?!?!?!

H: …we’ll keep some wipes for now. Let’s throw away the expired butt cre-

Me: NO!! BUT WHAT IF WE NEED IT?!

H: Just put it all upstairs.

Clearly, I’m just having all the feels about it. I wiped down the changing pad where my boy peed all over himself countless times. One time he pooped mid-change on himself. And me. And the floor. And I miss it. You know.

I remember putting my son in that thing right after lunches so that I could clean the frickin floor before he crawled through all the food he had just thrown down from his high chair.

After a while, we stored the kids’ shoes in there and they ran to grab them when it was time to leave the house.

Now it’s all in the closet.

My kids are growing up. They are taking huge steps out of the baby phase and it’s becoming real.

I’m sure you all know what I’m going to say next. On one hand, I am crazy excited. I can SMELL the increasing freedom and I wants more of it. The baby phase was HARD and I didn’t feel like myself and it was hard. And yet.

I find myself trying to drink my kids in a little more lately. They aren’t going to be so little and cute for very much longer, and I wish I could bottle it up. I sneak up and stare at them when they’re playing quietly. I smell their clothes right after they take them off, especially after yummy, sweaty, toddler sleep. I hug them whenever they let me, holding on just a little longer than is comfortable (for them, certainly not me). I need to make sure my kids never find out how to file for a restraining order.

Crap, I’d better stop now. You get the idea. Yay for having an actual living room! Yay for my kids growing up and becoming amazing human beings.

SOB.

 

Adventures in Potty Training

I’ve been changing and spraying and washing and folding cloth diapers for over FOUR YEARS now.

Dear lord.

I just started potty training my youngest, and truth be told, I was still shell-shocked from the experience of potty training my first. I can remember it like it was yesterday… long story, but in my infinite wisdom, I decided to start potty training my first on November 9, 2016. Anyone remember that day? That’s right, it was the day after #45 became our Toddler-in-Chief. Unfortunately, it had to be around that day. We had gone on a road trip in October, we had a goodbye party to go to on November 8, aaaaaand I wanted him mostly potty trained before his baby sister came right around Christmas. I was running out of time to get the job done and the clock was ticking. Besides, I honestly thought we’d be celebrating the fact that my daughter would be born into a world where she’d be able to take for granted that a woman could lead the free world and do it like a badass.

Instead, I was elbow deep in piss and shit. Literally and metaphorically. That first day, my kid peed all over the house and pooped on the floor once. I could barely keep up trying to clean up all the mess, and I was a crying pregnant mess myself. We didn’t leave the house for 4 days. We didn’t go somewhere that wasn’t a park for a few weeks. Looking back, it took him over a year before he was completely, truly accident free.

So, you can see why I didn’t particularly feel like going through all that again.

And yet.

Being a mom has taught me, among other things, that my kids will continually surprise me and to always have low expectations.

This time, I was ready. I scheduled the potty training to commence on a Saturday, when my babydaddy would be home to help (why I didn’t do this the first time around, I have no freaking clue). We rolled up the area rug. I borrowed a box of those puppy pee pads to line the carpeted areas of my house. We had our hazmat suits on and wine chilling in the fridge. My baby girl protested having her diapers taken away at first. She had a few tiny accidents, but then held it and ran for the potty. We celebrated so exuberantly that she even ran back to the potty after going and tried to squeeze out a few drops so that we could celebrate again.

It’s been over a week now and I’ve been blown away by how freaking amazing my daughter is. We’ve gone out, we went to the library, we took a long car ride. Life has largely gone back to normal and I am SO THANKFUL. I never knew potty training could be this way, you guys. Everyone who said, “I dunno…my kid just got it,” I quietly hated you and disbelieved you. And now I’m reminded that each kid is just different. Also, no need to remind me not to count my chickens. Toddlers are wily, and I realize that she can always turn the tables and decide she’d like to make my life a living hell.

potty2

We potty at the park, yo.

But for now…I do not miss washing those damn diapers, and I am super thankful that, at least so far, this whole ordeal is turning out to be way easier than I thought!

The Gremlins Are Not Pleased

I’ve always had a fairly decent sense of self-esteem.

In general, I like who I am. I’m capable, I’m dependable, I am worthy. I am enough.

But nothing – I mean NO-THING – has tested that like motherhood. Especially being a mom to demanding toddlers.

I am not a people-pleaser, generally. Yes, I like praise and I like to be liked, but I usually don’t bend over backwards juuust so that people will like me, or to try and make people happy. But gosh-freaking-dammit, some days there is no pleasing my kids.

They’re bored at home, or they tear the house apart, and so I plan to be out of the house for hours. That requires packing lunches and snacks the night before. And then I have to pack water, hats, swim suits, towels, change of clothes, sunscreen, flares, a hunting knife, the kitchen sink, etc, etc.

It’s a struggle to even get out of the house. My kids’ bowels let loose milliseconds before I try and get them in the car. And of course when I’m trying to get them to leave, they want to stay.

We get there, and they want to play but my daughter’s poopy AGAIN and I have to literally drag them both to the bathroom. I discover I only have one wipe. I finish the job with toilet paper, assuming I’ll be ok as long as I replenish before the next outing (**foreshadowing alert**). After that ordeal, they no longer want to play. So I grudgingly give a snack (string cheese, in an effort to scare their poop back up into their intestines for several hours), even though they practically just had breakfast.

I have to convince them to go play and leave me the frick alone. By convince, I mean I yell at them and get the side-eye from a neighboring mom. Then my son is too cold, or too hot, or too wet (too wet. at the splash. pad.) or bored, or wants to go home, or wants to eat more.

I finally give in and start breaking out the lunch and they WON’T SIT TO EAT IT. Suddenly they’d rather play. Mother of god.

Then, after smearing peanut butter all over my waterproof mat and daring the nearby honey bees to sting them, they gradually eat every morsel of food I brought, while I normally have to BEG them to eat a proper meal when I feed them at home. I actually stopped eating food meant for me and gave it to them instead. And by “gave it to them,” I mean they basically intercepted it on its journey between its container and my mouth.

Of course, they want to keep playing the second I declare we’re packing up to go.

IMG_4435

But guess what, my kid has a poopy diaper YET FUCKING AGAIN (I swear, I’m never letting my kids go berry picking unless they’re gonna be exclusively in someone else’s care 24-48 hours afterward), so eleventy minutes later, after scraping off a layer of buttskin trying to get my daughter clean with translucent, public bathroom tissue paper, we’re trudging to the car.

My kids scream for water and snacks the entire way home. I turned up the radio and swore silently in my head.

When I asked them, they both confirm they had a marvelous time. Hello, do I know you? Were we all at the same place, having the same experience? Because days like that make me feel like I can’t do anything right, like it doesn’t matter what I do – everything still blows up in my face, like I can’t win, like I’m not enough, like parenting is a buttload of work, and why do I even put forth all that effort to leave the house? Seriously, is it even worth it?

Depends on the day.

 

Love Me, Pet Me, Feed Me

Sometimes I feel like a rockstar mom and sometimes I feel like a shitty mom.

Actually, I feel like a rockstar mom some days.  Or maybe some hours.  Some moments, really.

And I feel like, too often, I am trying to push away the shitty mom feelings.

On the bad days, I’m not able to step back and gain perspective on the day until Brian gets home and I can separate myself from the kid, breathe, and take a break.  When I finally do get that perspective, often times I realize that the D-man is just having a rough day and it has nothing to do with me.  Just because I can’t calm him, just because he won’t nap, just because he follows me around the house screaming and begging to be carried doesn’t mean that I am a shitty mom.  But man, it sure feels shitty.

Today was one of those days where I didn’t get a break.  Dylan only naps once a day now, but that’s because he sleeps like a champ at night so I’m good with that.  But today he did the thing where he chose to nap during a car ride and not while I could actually relax and take some time for myself.  This means I am literally watching the kid for the entire day, including while pooping.

I chose to go get some pictures framed today so we can actually start decorating this house we’ve lived in for…10 months now.  These days I have to force myself to get out of the house and run errands because I have this mental block on doing things like that with a baby.  They seem so hard.  I always feel rushed.  There’s so much stuff to pack.  Often, it hardly seems worth it.  But today, I went.

He was cranky, even after the car nap.  The saleslady was being super helpful, which I appreciated.  We finished just as Dylan was reaching his limit (his diaper was also reaching its limit) and so we headed to the bathroom.  Here’s the thing: Dylan hates public bathrooms.  He’s scared of the sound of the industrial flushing of the toilets.  Imagine being in Powell’s bookstore, which is a crowded madhouse on any normal day.  Try doing this with an infant in a stroller.  Try doing this when there’s a line out the door for the women’s bathroom and only one changing table…that’s currently in use.  With several stalls (meaning several toilets) and the 10 minutes it took for the woman in front of me to change her baby, that equals roughly 183556738 flushes.  Dylan was screeching and is forever traumatized.  So today, upon entering the bathroom, despite us being the only ones in there, he started whimpering.  He was screaming by the time we were done.

And then, by the time we got home, the outing had taken long enough that it was time for him to eat again.  (Eating has become a whole other ordeal, since he now grabs the spoon and flings puree everywhere in an effort to feed himself.  And finger food goes everywhere but his mouth.  But, I digress.)  And even after eating he was still clingy and fussy.  Around this time of day, the cat also starts screaming at me for food, and today was no exception.  Picture me standing in the kitchen, looking down at my two monsters – one furry, one fleshy, both on all fours – crying up at me.  Love me, pet me, feed me.

I’m not really sure where this post is going or how to end it.  And, honestly, I have mixed feelings about how today went.  On one hand, we got a lot done.  On the other, it was stressful.

I did my best

I did my best

I did my best.

Don’t Tell My Kid Not To Cry

Parents are supposed to work super hard to keep their kids happy, like, all the time.  If your kid is crying in the grocery store, then something’s wrong.  If your teenager is depressed, then you’ve failed as a parent.  If your child is angry and frustrated, you’d better punish fe because that’s just unacceptable.

Okay, so I exaggerated to make a point, but I think all the above is complete crap.

Popular rhetoric often says “I just want my kid to be happy,” and I think that’s a horrible goal – because you’ll fail.  We all will.  It’s also just not the point of life.

Unfortunately, I hear this (or read it) all the time.  What’s even worse is that I hear the negative side of this message (“Don’t worry!”  “Don’t feel sad!” and “Ooh, don’t you cry!”) to which most of us don’t give a second thought.  I suppose it makes sense to me that we would wish someone happiness, but I hate it that in the process, we too often demonize sadness and the expression of more so-called vulnerable feelings.

Like everyone else, I want the best for my kid.  I want him to have it all (whatever that means).  I want my kid to have a normal, rich life and that means experiencing the full range of emotions on a regular basis.

All this essentially boils down to: Don’t tell my kid not to cry.

You may think this message [being told not to cry] is harmless, but I assure you, it’s not.  By telling my kid not to cry, you’re telling him that his feelings are invalid.  You’re telling him that sadness is bad…or weak…or embarrassing.  If he internalizes the message as he gets older, he may interpret that he is bad or weak for feeling such things.

As for right now, he’s a baby.  Crying is normal.  (It’s also normal for humans of all ages, for that matter.)  Crying is how he communicates that he needs to be cared for.  As a parent, it is not my job to stop my baby from crying; it is my job to develop a tolerance for it.  And I suggest you do, too.

There’s a diaper commercial that I saw recently that promises that if you use their product, your baby will “always be comfortable.”  And I was like, “Are you kidding?!  Babies are hardly ever comfortable!  They sit in their own pee and poop and they get horrible gas and colic and they have huge teeth shoving their way through their hard gums…no one would be comfortable with all that going on!”  But the implication is that, as parents, it is our job to make sure that our kids are always comfortable.

The Princess Bride had it right: “Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something.”  Like diapers.

But back to that commercial.  What crazy high standards!  Nye, impossible standards!  And dare I say it – unhealthy.  As humans, we are meant to feel emotions – all of them – so we can bond with each other and learn from our mistakes and protect ourselves and live full lives.  I desperately don’t want my kid to feel self-conscious about living an authentic life just because other people may be squeamish around tears.

The other layer that plays into this issue is gender.  Although my son can’t express his gender yet, chances are he’ll identify as male, and little boys get the “don’t cry” message far more than girls.  This double standard scares me, and I hope to give my son the much more powerful message that he should be able to feel sad for any reason and express his sadness at any time.

I also want my son to know that whenever someone tells him not to cry (or whenever someone invalidates any of his feelings) that it says more about that person’s discomfort around authentic displays of emotion than it does about him.  Because as long as he’s being authentic, and as long as the way he chooses to express himself doesn’t hurt someone else, then he’s one brave little man.