Tag Archives: motherhood

Wow

I didn’t even realize it was Friday. So needless to say I don’t have a post ready. We’ve had a busy week with Halloween, going to Les Schwab twice and Jiffy Lube once. The time for quiet contemplation has not been plentiful so I have nothing really to say.

Have a great weekend, I’m going out with a girlfriend tomorrow night for a much deserved break from my sweet boy. Hope you all get to do fun stuff too!

What’s So Bad About A Binky?

My positive attitude has nearly run out. I’ve managed to keep believing this would work, but each time we have a good night it’s followed by a crap one.

I am nearing the end of the Sleep Lady Shuffle and Jack has yet to sleep through the night. When I say sleep through the night I mean sleep from bed time to wake up time. There was only one night, night number 5, that I count as successful. He woke up just as I was going to bed at 10:50pm and fell asleep again by 11:33pm. He didn’t wake up again until 8am. That is the only night this has happened. He wakes up at least four times a night, one night he woke up as many as eight times. I have tried hard to stay positive, which as a generally non-positive person is really hard for me. I have given him stickers, wet myself with happiness when he has had small success, showered him with praises and followed the rules of the shuffle fairly well. The problem is I don’t think it’s helping.

I know it takes time, I know each kid is different. I know kids are only human and have good days and bad days. The books says that kids get ritualized easily, but Jack does not seem to be getting ritualized. The book talks a lot about sleep crutches, being sung, rocked, walked, patted to sleep. I wonder if the Shuffle has given him a new crutch, needing me to come calm him and shush him every time he wakes, because Jack didn’t have any of those other issues. We had a bedtime routine, he had a regular bed time and nap time. He was sleeping well at night. The only thing he had to have at bed time was his binky. Now that it’s gone I’m wondering what the heck was so bad about it?

I know, teeth growing in all crooked, but he didn’t even have it all night long, it would fall out of his mouth. He didn’t get it at any other time of day, only when he was sleeping. What’s so frustrating is that he used to be such a great kid! He’s not the devil incarnate or anything now, he’s just so tired. I’m not saying he was a perfect angel before, he is a three year old after all. All I’m saying is he used to be more well rested and because of that he was easier to deal with. He had fewer tantrums and could calm down quicker when he started to loose his temper.
Now he’s so overtired that he freaks out over the smallest thing. He has a harder time listening to me and a harder time following instructions. I know he understands what I tell him, but he just can’t calm down enough to do what he’s told. The binky helped him sleep which made him more able to focus, listen and learn. So I ask again what’s so bad about a binky?

When his doctor said get rid of the binky, I just assumed that she knew best. But does she really? She’s an excellent doctor to be sure, but she sees Jack once a year for a maximum of 20 minutes. Her knowledge of Jack doesn’t go beyond his behavior in the exam room and what I talk to her about. Now that I really think about it, I wonder if his doctor should be followed blindly on this issue. I believe that was my first mistake, assuming that the  doctor knew what was best for my child. We’re told on a regular basis we know our kids best, but when our doctor says jump we’re supposed to just do it without thought? Without taking a look at our lifestyle and what would benefit our kids?

A toddler’s life is full of change, potty training, new beds, new friends, and sometimes preschool. Our life has also been full of moving and vacations away from mom. But he’s never had this reaction to change before. He embraced potty training almost from the beginning. I think he thought it was a game and the fact that he got candy was an added bonus. He was excited about his new bed, and even picked it out. Sure it took a couple days for him to get used to sleeping in it, but it wasn’t too hard.

But the binky has been a different story completely. I think that taking the binky away so abruptly was a mistake. I probably should have talked about getting rid of the binky for longer than a week. But I think the biggest issue is that he simply wasn’t ready to give it up. With potty training and with his big boy bed he was excited and eager. Saying goodbye to binky was always tinged with insecurity. But since I believed he had to get rid of it I forced it and basically handed myself over a months worth of sleepless nights.

Do I regret using the binky to begin with? Yes, a little only because it’s causing such heartache for Jack now. Do I wish I had started sleep training early, without a binky? Of course, because I’d more likely be getting sleep now. But we can’t turn back time. We can only learn from the past, so if I ever have another kid I’ll know what I want to avoid. As it stands I’m still not sleeping well and neither is Jack.

So now I’m not sure what to do. Should I keep going with the Shuffle even after it’s done, even though we’ve only had marginal success with it? Should I give his binky back and continue with the Shuffle? Then, later, follow the books suggestions for getting rid of the binky? Should I bring the binky back but with a strict set of usage rules?

Something has to happen soon because I’m terribly tired and so is the kid. When I’m tired I get irritable and grouchy. The small amounts of patience I have dissolve into feelings of rage that I suppress until I’m about to explode. Something needs to change right now and if that involves giving the binky back would that be so awful?

The Sleep Lady Shuffle

Last week I wrote about my struggles with Jack’s sleep since we got rid of the binky. In response a friend of mine brought me a book called Good Night, Sleep Tight. She told me how it had worked for her kids in two weeks, so I thought I’d give it a try.

So far it’s not too bad.  The first and third nights were the worst, followed by two really great nights when he slept through the night with out calling for me. Last night he went to bed well, but woke up four times. The book says that by night 13 they should be going to bed easily and not calling out. I’m really hoping it will work because Freddie the Frog has proven to be a disappointment.

In theory Freddie would be great, but in reality not so much. He’s good for shedding a little extra light if Jack feels he needs it, but his music is too loud. I have it on the softest setting and I can still hear it in the living room. The other problem with the music is that if Jack can’t calm down enough before bed he’ll sit there and play with the music to keep himself awake. This is especially bad if I miss his “sleep window” and he gets his dreaded second wind.

I’ve been working really hard to not miss his “sleep window” though. I missed it on the third night and he was awake in his bed until past 10pm. At 9:45pm I told him I couldn’t sit there anymore since he wasn’t going to sleep. I said I was going to brush my teeth and change into my pajamas then I’d come check on him. I did that, and he was still awake, so I told him I was going to the living room to watch a show and I’d check on him again before I went to bed. I guess that night it was just me sitting there keeping him awake, because once I left he turned off his frog and went to sleep.

I think what it really comes down to is being consistent. It doesn’t really matter what method you go with as long as you stick with it. I’m convinced that kids can sense weakness and they do everything they can to exploit it to get what they want. That was my biggest problem, was being consistent. I think I just wasn’t sure what to do. When he was a baby I did the cry it out method and it worked in about a week. It worked because I stuck with it. I had a method with rules and a goal.

This time it was a different situation. When I did the cry it out method before my neighbors were so loud and rude I didn’t care if a screaming baby woke them up at 2am. But now I have a nice neighbor who works early in the morning and all day. I felt like I couldn’t do the cry it out method again. The other puzzling thing was that Jack was such a good sleeper before I was a little surprised by his behavior. I thought it would be about a week or two to adjust to having no binky.

After reading the Sleep Lady’s book and looking at our lifestyle, I can sort of understand his issues with sleep. There has been lots of busyness, transition and general hubub this summer (well this year). I like to be active, I love to visit friends and I loved that Jack was so easy to put down at other folks houses. But now I just have to face that he’s got some sleep issues we need to fix before he can get good at sleeping in a strange place again. So I’ve committed myself to two weeks of being home in the evenings in time for our bedtime routine. In fact tonight is the first night we’ll be going out after nap time.

We have dinner plans with the very friend who loaned me the Sleep Lady book. We’ll see how Jack does tonight when we get home. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Battle of the Binky

There was a time when my son would go to bed with very little struggle. We had our routine down to an art. Putting on Pj’s, brushing teeth, reading stories, singing a song, then into bed to go to sleep. The worst it ever got was sometimes he’d want me to sing his lullaby again once he was in bed. He would sleep well, until about 7:30 or 8am when he would wake up and read or play quietly in his room. Not only did he do bedtime well at home, but it was so easy to take him places. He could go to sleep almost anywhere. Until the day I took him to his 3 year check up and the doctor told me to get rid of his binky.

My arch nemesis, how I loathe you!

I knew it would be hard. Kiddo loves his binky very, very much. I knew there would be a time of adjustment. I just didn’t realize it would take such a long time. I decided to postpone taking the binky away because I was going out of the country for a week and thought it would make the time away even harder for Jack. So when I returned from Mexico I told Jack we’d be saying goodbye to his binky. We made a special box, decorated with paints and stickers. We kissed binky goodbye and I hid it away in the closet with his other baby things. That night I was prepared for crying, what I wasn’t prepared for was the negotiating. That kid managed to keep me in his room a full hour and a half after bedtime. Finally I walked away thinking things would be fine now he was asleep.

That night I woke at least three times to a crying 3 year old. I thought about the cry it out method. So I went in to soothe him for 15 minutes. 15 minutes turned into an hour, an hour to an hour and a half. I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing to soothe him, besides me singing myself hoarse or rubbing his back.

I left him crying in his bed for the third time. I lay in my own bed wondering what the hell I should do. I have a neighbor that works everyday, early in the morning, I wondered if she could hear Jack. I told myself it would be similar to the first time we “cried it out.” It would take about a week for Jack to adjust to the new routine.

Over a month later I’m still clinging to that idea. Just a few more days I tell myself, then it will be back to peaceful slumber all night long. Every night I wonder how much longer this could possibly go on. Then there will be a random night where bedtime goes smoothly and only takes about 20 minutes. He’ll sleep through the night, and wake the next morning in a great mood. I think, Yes! He’s done it, he’s adjusted, I get to sleep like a normal person again. But then my positive attitude is repaid the next night with the most craptastic bedtime yet.

I thought maybe his lamp and sound machine were keeping him awake. So this weekend we went out and got a Slumber Buddy.

Help me Freddie the Frog, you’re my only hope.

So far he seems to like it. I’m not sure how much it’s actually helping though. I think what I need to do now it just leave the kiddo alone. I feel like a terrible mother, but I don’t know what else to do, but just not go in his room when he starts to cry. I read an article that said a lot of children need to re-learn how to soothe themselves at this age. So unless he’s had a nightmare and needs comforting don’t go in. My problem is I don’t know the difference between crying because he can’t get back to sleep and crying because he’s had a scary dream. If I ask if he had a bad dream of course he says he has. But I don’t know if it’s true. He’ll say anything to keep me in that room. Last night I listened to what he was saying, first he was saying he wanted me, then he said he needed water, then he said his belly hurt, then he said it was scary, then he said he wanted a song, then a story, then he said he wanted to sleep in my bed. Finally he ran out of steam and fell asleep.

What’s more is that putting him to bed at someone else’s house is such an ordeal. It takes a long time and I’ll just have to wake him up when it’s time to leave. A lot of the time now I’ll just let him stay up and then put him to bed when we get home. But that makes bedtime even worse when we get home because he’s so over tired. The battle is totally different when he’s overtired. There’s no negotiating just rubbing his eyebrow until he’s asleep, then creeping out of the room.

I’m at the end of my rope. I’m pulling out my hair, I don’t know what else to do. I do know that I need to get sleep. We just started a reward chart yesterday, complete with stickers and bitchin’ rewards, like a new toy, or a trip to gramma’s house. The night before I bribed him to sleep with promises of pancakes and SpongeBob Squarepants. (I kept both promises by the way.) Any helpful suggestions? Seriously I’m open to anything short of drugging him or giving him whiskey.

Finding Yourself in the Quiet

A few weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw someone’s status update. The update was from a mom. It  said something about a relaxing activity and then asked how other moms relaxed.

I thought about that for a long time. I thought about my usual routine for the day. Jack takes a nap in the middle of the day so that seems like the opportune moment for relaxing. Usually I would use that time to work on my writing, clean the house or more likely cruise stupid Facebook for two hours until Jack wakes up. Those activities are not so relaxing. What’s more is I would usually have music on in the background or a podcast if I was working on something crafty.

I don’t mind noise normally, but I haven’t been feeling myself lately. I’ve been going overboard on the negativity and complaining. Part of that might have something to do with me being stupid lonely all the time. I don’t get enough time with adult people since my sister moved away. I know that’s somewhat on me. I could join a MOPS group or start going to those single parent meetups again. It’s just a matter of me getting out of this funk. It’s hard enough trying to make new friends without having a dark cloud hanging over your head.

So I’m taking small steps to feeling better. I’m trying to reach out  more to the friends I already have, making an effort to reconnect with them. I’m also trying to take better care of myself. There are two things I’ve been trying to do each day to accomplish that.

The first thing I’m trying to do is get up before Jack wakes up. If I do that I can workout, have a shower and a cup of coffee and feel more ready to take on a toddler each day. This has only been mildly successful. To get up early I have to go to bed early and I don’t like to do that. Because I’m stubborn and the night is my time. I don’t have to watch Alice in Wonderland (for the millionth time), I can watch Battlestar Galactica or Russell Peters. I can read a book, I can have a bubble bath, hell I could dance around naked if I wanted to, cause my kid is asleep!

I don’t have to play “crawl under the bed to explore a cave” or “trapping mama and tying her up.” As much as I love playing with my child, my adult mind can only take so much before I start to think, really you’re chasing me around the house with a rope again? So it’s hard for me to get to bed early enough to get up before Jack, because I like being able to do what I want for a change.

With that said, I have had a little success this week. I’ve only worked out once, but I think I’ve been up before the kiddo every day so that’s a step in the right direction.

The second thing I’m doing in an attempt to make myself better is having a quiet naptime. That’s not to say I’m taking naps. I hate naps. My house is quiet at naptimes though.

I’ve started giving myself one chore a day during nap, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, make an important call; then after the chore is done and things are in relatively good order I pick up a book, sit in my reading corner and read until I hear the stirrings of an awakening toddler. So far this has been working out really well.

I love books and adore reading, so this has been really healing for my mind and soul. That sounds ridiculously cheesy, but it’s true. My house may be a little less tidy, but at least I’m getting an hour or more of something I love everyday.

There is something so rewarding to me about reading a book, finishing a book. I’m a big nerd and keep a journal of the books I’ve read. Yes, a paper journal where I write down every single book I’ve read.

This is my book journal. I love it!

I started it in 2006, but I don’t remember why. I even used to write mini-reviews of each book, but stopped that, too much work. I love to look through it and remember how each story impacted my life. How it made me feel, what I was doing when I read said book, how long it took me to finally finish one, seeing those months where there’s nothing makes me so sad, thinking I had no time to read.

I make it a point to read now. Because reading and books is part of who I am. Loving the written word is so deeply ingrained in my heart that I just feel crappy when I don’t read something. So I sit, in the quiet of my house, while the wild thing slumbers, I lose myself in a good book. And I really am starting to feel better.

Are You My Mother?

Me as a toddler, my mother, her mother and her mother’s mother.

I listened to a podcast on The Memory Palace last week about how Mother’s Day came about. You can listen to the podcast here, it’s a really interesting story. Although Mother’s Day is not what the founder Anna Jarvis had in mind, I think that Mother’s Day, as it is today, is pretty important.

I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t realize what went into being a mom until it actually happened to me. I had some experience with babysitting, nannying, and working in daycares. The difference with those experiences and the job of being a mother is that you can leave those other jobs. You can go home at the end of the day and forget about the kids for awhile. As a mother your child is always on your mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re away on a two week vacation and you know they are safe with their grandparents, you think about them all the time.

I didn’t realize how much work being a mom was and I certainly never thought about the work that single mothers put in even after I had my son. It wasn’t until I was actually a single mother that I understood the kind of work that is.

It’s difficult to balance the love and adoration you feel for your child while having to be the bad guy so much of the time. Especially when they are so little and they don’t understand that when you grab their arm and sternly tell them not to run into the middle of the street it’s because you love them and they scared the shit out of you.

I’m certain that it gets harder the older they get. They begin to understand sure, but then suddenly they become teenagers. I don’t have one of those yet. I’m still at the innocent, sweet little boy stage. I know that I gave my parents a run for their money when I was a teenager so I’m nervous about this stage.

When a child becomes a teenager the balancing act becomes even more challenging (I assume anyway). There must be a balance between being a friend and being a parent. Leaning too far toward being a friend can be detrimental in that your child loses sight of the fact that you’re an authority figure, that you are in fact, the parent. Leaning too far toward being a parent can lead to your child hating you for an inordinate amount of time and possibly being cut out of their life forever.

I think my mother had a decent balance going on. I won’t say she was dead on because she wasn’t. Even though she’s my mom and I love her, she is only a person. And all people make mistakes. However, I say she had a decent balance going on because most of the time I felt I could go to her with problems, or just sit and chat with her about silly things. At the same time I knew she was in charge, that she had the authority to ground me for the entirety of my senior year. She had the power to take the phone out of my room, to limit my time spent with friends, to limit my time doing anything really. I recognized that she was my mom. (Same goes for my daddy, but this is a Mother’s Day post, sorry daddy.)

Many of my friends thought my parents were “really cool.” Which baffled my sister and I because they were our parents, and thinking of them as “really cool” was sort of weird. Now that I’m older and a mom trying hard to raise a good son (not like Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son, but an actual good person), I think the reason my friends thought my parents were cool was because they were able to balance being a friend and being a parent. They did their best to impose boundaries on their rebellious oldest daughter and when those boundaries were broken they didn’t hesitate to impart punishment. Of course when I would complain to my friends about said punishments they sympathized with me. But I think somewhere deep in our emo, angsty, teenage psyche we knew they were doing the right thing, hence the many proclamations of how cool my parents were.

So to my cool mom on the Friday before Mother’s Day, Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you so much! You are an amazing woman and wonderful mom.

Single Parent Appreciation Day

A Facebook friend posted about Single Parent Appreciation Day. I looked on the Internet and it told me this a real thing and it’s today. So if you were raised by a single parent or if you know a single parent today is the day to tell them they’re awesome!

If you have friends who are single parents and want to make them feel special on any day (it doesn’t even have to be today) there is one thing that could make their day. Offer to babysit. I don’t mean in a general whenever kind of way. I mean pick a day that you’re not busy and offer to hang out with their kid for a couple hours so they can grab a coffee, run errands, get dinner, or just get out of the house.

I have no problem asking for sitters. I like to go out and so I know if I’m going to be able to go out I’ll have to find someone to be with Jack while I’m gone. Thing is when I ask so much I start to feel the “mommy guilt” kicking in. I know I spend plenty of time with him. I deserve some time to myself, but when you’re asking for sitters so often it all builds up and makes itself into the “you’re a bad parent” monster.

If you really want to help out the single parents in your life, just pick a day and offer it up. Chances are you won’t be turned down.

Baby Blocked

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what to write about today. I’ve been thinking about it since Jack came home and I’ve got a couple ideas but nothing worth expanding on. I thought about writing my birth story, but I’m not sure I want that floating around on the internet. I’ll say this though, it was really fast, really intense and really un-medicated. My entire birth plan went out the window after my water broke. I guess Jack had his own birth plan. Come out and come fast.

I’ll say a word about the adjustment of having a baby in the house. Half the time it’s totally great and I love it! The other half is frustrating, weird and scary. I always thought that people exaggerated how often a baby woke up during the night. They don’t. Even as I write this I’m tired, because of the wakeful sleep I got last night.

I discovered that if I was given the option to sit around the house all day watching movies and having people wait on me hand and foot I would most likely not choose that. I’m still in recovery technically but am sort of ignoring that fact. After Jordan went to work today I tidied up the house and actually ate lunch at the table instead of the couch. I didn’t get a ton done, but I feel better about today than almost any other day.

As complainy as this post sounds, I love my baby and love having him in the house. I don’t know what I was expecting when I first brought him home, but he’s really a lot of fun and the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.