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Entries in K. Mistake-ing (28)

Wednesday
Mar202013

On Your Third Birthday

 

Nic,

You turned three today. The day started blissfully with you singing Twinkle Twinkle to yourself in a dream while I gave baby an early morning bottle. You got to the end of the first verse and couldn’t remember how the others went, “Mama, how does the rest of Twinkle Twinkle go?” You asked this quietly, while still sleeping. But then your inquiry became louder and more urgent. I began to sing the verses back to you, but you couldn’t hear me through your dream. After a few minutes you woke up to find me in the chair next to your bed, holding your little brother. It was an early, but perfect way to start your third year. Birthday smile!

This has been quite a year. And I’ll be honest—it’s been tough. You sailed through potty training and even the introduction of your little brother, but we’ve had other struggles. Your physical exuberance is often more than your playmates can handle. I’ve heard many surprised, quiet gasps from other moms as you’ve pushed into their little ones, or worse. We’ve worked HARD—you, me, your dad, your teachers, the other parents at preschool—to help you to use your words instead of your body, and it has helped. I see the gentle soul that I know you are a bit more every day, and I can’t wait until that is the little boy who shows up to every birthday party and playdate. Until then, we’ll keep working and we’ll keep loving you just as much as we always have.

Watching you play is one of my great joys. Tonight, Daddy and I just couldn’t bear to put you to bed because you were so engrossed in pretend play with your new Legos. You were a “vetrapramarian”  fixing a broken turtle shell and then checking Daddy’s “heartbeep.” I heard you tell one of your Lego animals how proud you were of him for doing something and my heart swelled. I know that my responses to your aren’t always Positive-Discipline-perfect, but I do hope that the lasting feeling you get from our days together is how proud I am of the little man that you are.

I’m proud in the moments when I watch you pull your hands to your side at the sandbox and ask a little boy if he wants to play, when you choose the perfect, soft toy for Baby Z to snuggle, when you ask Daddy about the best part of his day at dinner, when you say that your favorite color is “beige” (seriously, what 3-year-old knows about beige?), when you eat carnitas. And I’m even proud in the not-so-perfect moments, when you are promising to be gentle next time or when you’re helping me clean up marker from the floor.

Every day we’re learning. You and me and Daddy too. We’re figuring out how this growing up thing works and I am so happy to be doing it with you.

My favorite quote these days is, “The days are long but the years are short.” I can’t think of anything else that sums up my feeling on your birthday better than this.

I love you eternally and unconditionally,

Mommy

Monday
Oct152012

You Don’t Have to Pretend it’s All Sunshine and Roses

 

We started MommyBeta to give a wider voice and audience to the email chains pinging back and forth between the four of us. Though most of our discussions now make it to the web, we still email about touchier subjects. Last night we wrote a (partially) wine-fueled thread that I think deserves to see the light of day. It’s not fair for us to hide our frustrations and you shouldn’t have to either.Full hands. Full heart.

With the gals’ permission, I’ve included some of the most relatable quotes below:

Okay I've had 1.5 glasses of wine so I'm feeling a little loose with the tongue but what I really want.... Is a little break. I love my family and I want to inhale the scent of them 24/7. But I also want some rest.”

“And I want to not feel like my old self is so far behind me that I sometimes burst into tears if I am able to finish a cup of tea while it is still warm.”

“You bring up a good point about all the prepping and not just being able to say "see ya!!" I think that is what gets me. It frustrates me when I have to give specific instructions about exactly what needs to be done. Sometimes I just want to say "Figure it out!" hahaha. But then I think about it and I know this is the situation I've created. These are the expectations I've created. 

These kids are A LOT. It's just constant. Even when they are asleep there are mounds of laundry to fold, boobs to pump and puree pouches to order. I'm exhausted. All. The. Time. And it's not even the being up at night (I'm only losing about an hour or two a night), it's the being ON all day long. I seriously don't know how people have more than two kids, or how women cope with husbands that don't help.

“I just have to keep reminding myself of how unglamorous having an infant is--always being in pajamas covered in spitup doesn't make anyone feel sexy. But I straightened my hair today, put on a dress and boots, and felt 10x better about everything than I did the day before. I think I'm going to have to force myself into real clothes more often.”

“We shouldn't let anyone tell us that it's easy for anyone else and we shouldn't feel bad about feeling overwhelmed.”

Wednesday
Sep192012

Giving in to Formula

 

I was so proud that I never had to give Dominic formula. Probably too proud, because it came back and bit me in the a**. It’s not that I think formula is bad, it’s just that it felt like a real accomplishment to go 11+ months of strictly breastfeeding (and solids, of course).

I had to give up on the hope of doing the same for Baby Z. Like I said in my last post, he just wasn’t gaining weight. At 6 weeks old, he was only about 8 oz over birth weight (note that he lost almost 1 lb while we were in the hospital, just over the “acceptable” amount). So, last week, I tearily agreed with my pediatrician that it was time to supplement with formula. I just didn’t want my little boy to be hungry.

But I was terrified. Nic weaned himself the moment I introduced whole milk, and my mom has always said that I weaned myself when she introduced formula. I wasn’t ready to let go of nursing, and fortunately, I haven’t had to. The plan was to give Baby Z 0.5-1 oz of formula after each breast milk feeding. He gobbled that up and I end up giving him 2 oz after each feeding. I felt good about this plan because we weren’t replacing breastfeeding with formula, we were just giving him a little extra to eat.

It worked. From Friday to Monday, he gained 8.5 oz! I think that’s got to be a record for baby weight gain! I was so so so relieved, and it felt good that I had made the right decision to supplement.

I do want to make it clear that I haven’t given up on breastfeeding. In fact, I’m trying harder than ever. I’m pumping multiple times a day (to stimulate production and allow me to supplement with my own milk), even if that means pumping at 2:30 am. And I’m making sure each breastfeeding really counts. I realized that I was trying to feed Baby Z “on the go” too much. He can’t eat every meal while I’m walking through Home Depot or sitting in the sandbox. He needs dedicated, concentrated nursing time—just me, him and the boppy on the couch. It’s been hard to make this work with Nic’s school schedule and my need to work and unpack, but I needed to make Baby Z a priority. And I feel horribly guilty that I wasn’t making him my #1 priority from the start.

With all that’s going on in our lives, a toddler, a newborn, a move and no real maternity leave, it’s been hard to balance everything. This weight gain issue has been a reality check for me and has forced me to put things on hold a bit for the sake of my baby. My sweet little man is worth the hundred or so unread emails in my inbox, he’s worth the stacks of boxes in my garage, he’s even worth telling Nic that mommy is busy right now and he can play animals by himself.

So Baby Z, mommy is making a promise to you: I will do whatever it takes to get you what you need, you deserve it.

A smile like this deserves mommy's undivided attention!

Friday
Sep142012

Podcast #69: And Then There Were Two

This week we welcome back new mother of two Nath who is having a hard time eating enough to nurse baby number two. Tips welcome! We also talk about how to love your baby without losing yourself, how not to feel guilty about your mothering choices, and whether of not you should spank your child

Listen to the podcast here.


Saturday
Jul072012

Coping with Hitting, Pushing and the Like

 

On the podcast, I’ve talked about our struggles with physical behavior from Nic, but I haven’t actually written much about it. @MommyBeta got a question about hitting on Twitter the other day and I realized that there was no way to respond in 140 characters. So, here’s my long-form answer.Playing nice, for now.

Nic started hitting and then pushing last fall when he was about 18 months old. It was shortly after we started daycare and preschool (perhaps related, perhaps not). He had been physical with me from time to time before—we went through a short biting phase—but he had never been aggressive with other kids. And I don’t even know if I’d call it aggressive. More than anything, it’s just physical.

For instance, if his preschool friends are all doing the hokey pokey at the end of class and Nic is feeling wound up, he’ll lean his whole body into them, or turn in a circle with his arms out, hitting anyone who happens to be nearby. Or if he’s in a small playhouse with other kids, sometimes they will get a bear hug that they didn’t want. On one of his worst days, he repeatedly smacked a schoolmate over the head with a sand toy (I scooped him up and we left school immediately).

I’ve ANGUISHED over this behavior. I’ve had long talks with his preschool teacher, daycare provider, other parents and of course, my husband. Everyone says it’s just a phase, but I want to know when it will be over and how I can expedite it.

Having Nic act this way brings up so many feelings for me: 

  • I don’t want him to hurt other kids.
  • I don’t want other kids to not want to play with him.
  • I don’t want other parents to not want their kids to play with him.
  • I don’t want to be the helicopter parent who is constantly hovering, but I feel like I have to in order to protect his playmates and deal with his behavior.
  • I don’t want people to think he’s a bad kid.
  • I don’t want people to think that I’m a bad mom.

Course of Action

My co-op preschool’s philosophy with this type of behavior is to follow these steps: 

  1. Put the attention on the “victim.” Say, “Oh Suzy, I am so sorry that Nic pushed you. Are you ok?”
  2. Turn to the initiator and say, “We don’t hit our friends. Hitting hurts. Can you show Suzy a gentle touch?”

My daycare provider takes a similar approach, but also employs time outs. At home, we do both and also physically separate ourselves with he’s rough with us or our cat, “Mommy can’t play with you when you are being rough.” And then I go into a room where he can’t follow me. I’ll also set up limits and consequences, “If you push again, we’re leaving the park.” And I’m careful to follow through.

We’ve been doing this for 10 months now. Sometimes it seems like his behavior is getting better, and then it just comes back again. We’re definitely treading water.

Root of the Issue

Lately, we’ve really been trying to figure out why he’s hitting and in what situations he’s more likely to do it. Here are some of my observations: 

  • He’s much less likely to be physical with older kids. Especially ones he’s just met (he’s great playing in the sandbox at the park with a new group of big kids).
  • As he gets more familiar with animals and kids, he tends to be more physical. We met a baby yesterday, and he was great for the first few minutes (gentle touching, singing), but then he started to test what he could do (laying his head on the baby’s lap to “snuggle,” squeezing the baby’s hands).
  • The calmer the environment, the less likely he is to be physical (but one bouncy kid can spark Nic’s excitement).
  • A kid in his space is an invitation to hug, lean, squeeze.
  • The hitting that seems totally random seems to be a call for engagement—he wants to play.

New Techniques

I had put out a query on my local mother’s club forum on the topic of hitting and one mom wrote me with some excellent suggestions. She said that she really empathized with my situation and that they’ve been coping with something similar. She helped me realize that a lot of the time Nic is trying play with the other kids, but isn’t able to communicate it. Perhaps this is why he’s better with older kids—they can understand his cues and he can follow theirs better.

I never really thought that this was Nic’s issue because he is such a verbal kid. But now I think that in the moment, he just doesn’t always have the words to express what he wants. Based on the advice from the mother on the forum, we’ve been trying this approach when he does the random hitting: 

  1. Empower the other child to say, "I don't like that."
  2. Tell Nic that we don’t hit our friends and that he needs to be gentle.
  3. Ask Nic, "Why did you do that?" (In a very non-accusatory way.) Help him to explain by asking him other questions like, "Was it over space? Did you want to play with him/her?"
  4. He will often respond yes or say something like, “Want to play.” I then remind him to use his words and say that he needs to ask, “More play please?” or something similar.
  5. Also, if I see him getting riled up (he gets this certain look on his face), I’ll remind him to, “Use your words and not your body.”

We’re only about a week into this technique, but I feel good about it. In the very least, we’re giving him tools for social interaction that should help down the road. Whether or not it will stop the physical behavior, we’ll have to see.

I just really want the world to see the sweet gentle kid that he is so much of the time. And I’m particularly nervous about how he will be with the new baby (T-minus 25 days).

If you have any good tips or words of advice, I’d love to hear them!