June 28, 2010

A Milestone...

I realize for some mothers the simple act of dropping their young child off at VBS, or camp or daycare might simply be... normal.


I realize that there are other mothers who cannot even bring themselves to consider leaving their child in anyone else's care or capable hands; until the law tells them that they either have to send their child school or home school them.


Me....Well I am somewhere in the middle.


When Gigi was a baby I remember saying... "I will never send G to preschool. I am a stay-at-home-mother. I plan to remain a stay-at-home-mother for as long as possible and as such it is my responsibility to foster a learning environment for her here at home or out and about in the world. I have the time and the capability and the wherewithal to engage her little mind." ––– Or so I thought...

The one thing I have realized over this past year; I cannot provide for my little social butterfly the socialization that she so needs and craves. Our weekly play dates with neighborhood buddies, Gymboree, story time, puppet shows, children's museum outings, zoo outings, arts and crafts outings – While fun and good and healthy activities; none of these things were providing her with the level of social interaction that she needs and would get from a preschool environment.

So – we came to the realization that home was not enough and decided attending preschool as soon as possible was a must for G. Once that decision was made I truly began to look forward to that day. The day when I would drop Gigi off and she would go, learn, blossom, grow! Happy and fulfilled.

But then... Doubt started to creep in – just a little. I started to worry about her – I’m her mom, she’s my baby, she can be shy and I am all she’s ever known. I know how badly she has wanted to go to school for the last year, but... She has had some really great {eye opening} moments on the playground where she would try to make a new friend out of a stranger; and other moments when new kids made her want to hide behind my leg.

What if this little girl who has told me every morning for a year, when the school bell rang in our backyard: "OK! It's time for me to go to school!" –– What if that little girl refuses to let go of me when it's time for her to actually go to school? What if she cries and my heart breaks into a million pieces and she never speaks to me again because I abandoned her at school when she was 3 years old??? {Crazy… I know! But when the ‘what-ifs’ come creeping in – they’re never rational ‘what-ifs’– they are always crazy, irrational, hypothetical, end of the world, the sky is falling, gloom and doom scenarios}

Then, an opportunity presented itself to send G to school last week; Put the ‘what-ifs’ to rest; Get her familiar with the surroundings; the staff and maybe even some of her classmates before the school year started. I had to jump at it! The school was offering a week of Vacation Bible School – 2 hours a day for 5 days. G's teacher would be there – I was sure a few of the kids who she would be meeting in the fall would be there – and her best neighborhood buddy, Taylor would be there! It was a perfect chance to send G off to this new adventure with a friend for moral support! They would get used to this new routine of going off to school together – This was going to be great! Except... they were separated into different groups and did not get to “be together” for moral support like we’d hoped– It would be okay.

And it was! Although I underestimated how hard it was going to be – for all of us! There were tears; G cried the first day when I said good-bye; Lula cried everyday when we left G and most of the two hours G was away; and I cried the first day when I returned to pick her up and saw my baby in line, walking back into the school, looking all grown up! This was the first time G had been left with someone other than family or a friend who might as well be family. G asked everyday to stay with me – and that was hard, but in the end I know she had a great time! I am comforted by the fact that I now know what to expect come August – More important we now know who's hands we are leaving G in and how truly capable, supportive and nurturing they are!

This was a big step for all of us... The first – I know – of many.

June 26, 2010

Truer words...

Truer words were never spoken…




“Stop behavior includes the frequent, minor, everyday hassles kids present to you, such as whining, disrespect, tantrums, arguing, teasing, fighting, pouting, yelling and so on. Stop behavior – in and of itself – ranges from mildly irritating to obnoxious. Each of these difficult behaviors alone may not be so bad, but add them all up in one afternoon and by 5 p.m. you may feel like hitchhiking to South America.”
– Dr Thomas W. Phelan Ph.D   ‘ 1-2-3 Magic - Effective Discipline for Children 2 – 12


Dr. Phelan hit the nail on the head! Ding-ding-ding-ding! We have a winner folks! Someone gets it! Someone has been a fly on the wall in my house and has seen how each little episode of whining and fighting and refusing to eat - alone is not so bad… but at the end of the day… when all is said and done…. Dr. Phelan said it exactly right; by 5pm I am so ready to hitchhike to South America and NEVER RETURN! But since running away is not an option they must have witnessed me having an “adult temper tantrum” at about bath/bed time and said “Lord- help that woman stop acting like a child!” and thus 1-2-3 Magic came into my life.

Brian and I have read Dr. Phelan’s book now and have had so many “Ah-Ha moments” it’s not even funny…. Actually – Come to think of it, it might be very funny. If Dr. Phelan tells you not to do something and I mean never ever, ever, ever, ever, do “X-Y-Z” if you want your child to listen/behave. Then Brian and I have been doing” X-Y-Z” and “Q-R-S & T” too!

It’s so simple – so frying pan upside the head easy, it’s ridiculous! But it makes so much sense! There was nothing in this book that we looked at each other, rolled our eyes and said “yeah right” too. Granted the proposed result from using this 'method' of parenting so fricking uncomplicated it might have raised our eyebrows at first - but the further on we read the more and more sense it all made.

I broke down and was willing to read a 'parenting book' for two reasons. I was tired of the way things were going at home. I was tired of yelling – Because I know full well that yelling produces zero results. It only raises blood pressure – strains the throat and gives the neighbors within earshot something to gossip about. The second was that I know Dr. Phelan - Not personally, but I know of him. His books on ADD and ADHD were in my home as a child. Once I opened ‘1-2-3 Magic’ I could hardly put it down. It was an easy, eye opening and quite often entertaining book.

Now, I have been no saint. I have done the opposite of what one should do according to Dr. Phelan on many occasions. In fact there are some scenarios that my reaction every time it happens is the opposite of what it “should” be. But I read the book first and kept saying “Someone should tell my hubby this.” – “That is exactly what my hubby does.” – “My hubby is either going to love this or hate this.” – “If things are going to change – my hubby and I are going to have to change.” – I was worried what he would think. For the record – not only did my darling husband need to changes his ways – I did too – I was right there with him on the mistake, mishandling and mishap train.

I wish I could have been in the car with the hubby as he was listening to Dr. Phelan on tape. I wish I could have seen the expressions on his face as he heard what I read – each scenario presented was one we’d been in before. Each example of what not to do was exactly what we did. The phone call from him was priceless. “I do exactly what I shouldn’t do – every time!” It was an “Ah Ha moment” – not a “What a crock of shit moment” - Thankfully!

So we have started the “counting” and so far we have had good results. We are not pro’s at it yet. We stumble, make mistakes and have yet to become consistent with it, but feel confident that once we do we will have a happier, more peaceful home. Our short term goal is to have the “stop behaviors” under control both at home and in public by the end of the summer so that we can get a grip on the “start behaviors” – i.e. eating, cleaning up, bedtime.

This parenting thing is hard… I’m pretty sure you don’t get the hang of it until you’re a grandparent!

Maybe someday soon, 5 o’clock will roll around and I won’t feel like hitchhiking to South America anymore! Once can hope, can’t they?

June 17, 2010

Positive Parenting

It's been a rough two weeks.
{Partly becase of my frame of mind}

Sometimes I need to just stop and remind myself of the type of parent I want to be...

Turning the page.... and moving forward!
Onward and Upward!





Practice
Being
Patient





Take
Three deep breaths
before reacting





Praise
Good Behavior!
Focus on the positive



Remember
This Too
Will Pass




Be silly…
Be a Kid





Find balance






Compromise
There’s more than one way






I accept
my child for
who they
are







How can I
be a role model
today?







Stop,
Breathe,
and really
listen






What do I
love most
about my child?
Tell them!





Your
“parenting voice”
will one day become
your child’s
“inner voice”

June 15, 2010

Quarantined

Oy Vey… First – if you see us out and about – Don’t judge me; just simply steer clear. It’s not like we’ll be walking around spreading SARS… And I can guarantee you we won’t be licking people or spitting on them. But if I run out of milk, you can bet your life the girls and I will be at Safeway picking some up.

Over the course of last week we spent a few brief hours with one of our little friends who has, come to find out, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease {virus}. Poor thing she is really suffering. Her diagnosis came over the weekend after suffering what seemed like the world’s worst bout of teething for 3 or 4 days. A Saturday afternoon ER visit confirmed her refusal to eat or drink was the result of several painful mouth and throat lesions caused by Hand Foot and Mouth. Our exposure to our suffering buddy was limited and the chances of the virus being passed to my girls slim, but there was still a chance. What are you going to do? If you have kids, they are going to find germs. No matter how thick you think the bubble you have around them is... They-Will-Find-Germs! That coupled with the fact that my friend had no idea that her daughter was sick… Kids, get sick, we don’t always know until it’s too late.

So after this limited exposure I had to have a conversation with myself. Grace in all likelihood has already had Hand, Foot and Mouth. Back in August 2008, we were home in Western Massachusetts and Grace had a play date with a child who was getting over Hand Foot and Mouth. A week later we were in the ER with Grace trying to determine what was wrong and if we could fly back home. The diagnosis was “It could be…” If in fact Grace had Hand Foot and Mouth it is unlikely she will catch it again. It’s a virus after all. Once you’ve had it, you have the antibodies… But, with the way viruses mutate and with so many different strains of these viruses floating around out there… Never say never! So Grace was probably okay but Lil..., I was pregnant with Lily when Grace’s “possible” infection occurred. Lily could still get sick. I was about to start babysitting this week for a little boy. Should I tell his parents; “FYI – My kids are healthy at the moment but they were exposed to hand Foot and Mouth Disease this week.”??? I thought that was just foolish, no need to panic anyone.

Monday my new charge arrived with instructions that the poor little guy had a fever from teething and would need to be kept comfortable with Tylenol. He was in a fair amount of discomfort and it could be a rough day in a new place with the teething and all. It was rough, but it could have been worse. Today when he arrived I am told that even though he did not nap here all day yesterday he did not sleep well at all that night. To add to his increasing teething discomfort he now had a diaper rash {which was attributed to teething} Truth-be-told the rash looked frighteningly familiar, but I dismissed it. The day wore on today with increased discomfort for my poor little buddy and by afternoon his pain was not longer managed by medicine. After closer examination of the ear he’d been tugging on I noticed the same bumps {rash} on his ear that adorned his bottom. So with fingers crossed and breath held I took hold of his feet and peeked at the soles with squinted eyes and gritted teeth. Bumps and blisters. NOOOOOOOOOO! A quick call to his mom and his parents were on their way. No need to rush topick him up... If it is what I think it is, it’s too late for my girls…. By 4:30pm his parents were here to take him to the evening Urgent care and by 5:30pm the diagnosis was confirmed. It’s Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease with lesions in his mouth and throat explaining his mouth pain and drooling. Poor baby! Apparently Arizona is in the midst of a Hand, Foot and Mouth epidemic. Woo Hoo!

So now, the girls and I are here in the house avoiding contact with our friends, praying that Grace has already had this and does not get it again and Lily is somehow spared; though… with the way that she is a sippy cup thief and had out little friend’s cup on several occasions the last two days and with her being my Pica baby and all {everything in the mouth!!} I’m pretty sure that within 3 – 7 days we’ll be trying to sooth poor Lula’s pain. "CRAP!" So now I am no longer stuck in the house babysitting, but I’m stuck in the house waiting. Waiting and praying that we all stay healthy.

Before the quarantine took place “officially” I snuck the kids over to the pool for an after dinner swim. I told Grace that we had germs on us and the chlorine in the pool would wash them away. NEVER TELL A THREE YEAR OLD ANYTHING YOU DON'T WANT REPEATED PUBLICLY! She told a stranger at the pool who asked “Are you taking an after dinner swim?” -- “No, we’re just here washing the germs off.” Oops! That was embarrassing. Now on to figuring out how to disinfect 2200sq feet of germ infested house…

June 12, 2010

Raw truth

Yesterday while talking with a friend I had a momentary breakdown. Out of nowhere and in the middle of our conversation I had this angry, hurt, sobbing, vulnerable, raw moment. Like an overflowing toilet all of these emotions started roiling up and spilling out beyond my control. Emotions that I either did not know I had or have suppressed for so long that I was now helpless to stop them from spilling out.

We were talking about the simple acts of going for a walk or a run without kids in tow. The hair or nail salon, the gym, whatever.... Getting to do something for yourself without the kids. All of a sudden I could feel it. There is often a little rumble inside me when I listen to my girlfriends talk about their bike rides or hikes or massages; or when I see their newly cut hair and perfectly manicured nails and toes. But I always manage to ignore it and I’m fine. I have a good life. I like my life. But yesterday was tantamout to a damn bursting and it took me a few minutes to gain control of the overflow.

So I believe my meltdown started with the facts that my Stroller Strides buddies are about to participate this Wednesday in the 3rd 'Mom’s Night Out' they’ve had since I joined. And…. for the third month in a row I am unable to join them. That coupled with the fact that Brian is on a 2 week road trip.... The weekends with him away are always the worst for me. My friends’ husbands are all home, they have plans and lives, leaving the girls and me to fend for ourselves for 48hours….Just the three of us.

So, back to my meltdown- I was telling my friend about another amazing friend I have here who saw that I might need or want some help this weekend and sent an email to me saying. “I know you hubby is out of town this weekend…" and then made offers like- “Come over for dinner/lunch; Leave the girls for an hour or two and get out of the house; Come for a swim with us this weekend; pick one or take us up on all.” I was so touched that someone was thinking about me and cared enough to ask if I needed help - but in the middle of my telling this story and singing the praises of this friend it got dark… I got dark… The next thing I know I am angry and crying and spilling my guts about never having any help….

My poor girlfriend- I am sure she had no idea what to do or say. Out of the blue I am sobbing and saying things like. “I don’t have any help!! It’s me and my girls all day every day. I don’t get to go do anything alone! I can’t wake up early and go for a run or a hike… There’s no one here to watch the girls! I can’t leave in the evening and go swim laps or run to the store or get a pedicure, there’s no one here to watch the girls! I don’t know why no one seems to understand that!”

After I gained my composure again, and hung up the phone with my, I am sure shell-shocked, friend I realized. Why would anyone understand that? The question I am most frequently asked about my husband’s job keeping him on the road the majority of the time is; “How do you do it?” I always make some joke about it being “easier when he’s on the road", and something about "the girls and my routine" or some bull shit. Or say "it’s all I’ve ever known."...He’s been traveling for work for years"…. Because, what do you do? Pour your guts out about how hard it is? Cry that you are so tired and overwhelmed you don’t know what to do??? But the truth is – It’s hard. The truth is I LOVE MY GIRLS but I need a break! I really, really, really, need something for me. Sure I get to go to Stroller Strides three times {hours} a week… But the girls go with and I spend most of the hour figuring out how to get them the snacks they’re asking for, the different toys/books/bubbles they want, make them drink more water, etc… while still getting the max I can out of my workout. It’s not exactly 'me time'.

What are you going to do? It is what it is. I have a good life; a hardworking, amazing husband; two truly good kids who have their 'moments' but in the end are really good, kind little girls. I cannot complain. I just wish I had time every now and then to leave the house sans offspring, but… we always want what we don’t have right? And although I have an amazing neighbor and friend who would watch my girls every once in a while so that I could have a break – It would have to be something I really, really, needed to do before I could take her up on it. I would feel like I was taking advantage the whole time I was out and about and it wouldn’t be worth the time away.
{You know who you are… From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!}

So – My fix… I am going to enroll Grace Elizabeth in tumbling classes on Saturday mornings. That way when hubby is on the road we at least have some reason to leave the house on Saturday. And normally the girls and I would go to my Aunt and Uncle’s for Sunday dinner, but this weekend my aunt is back in Western Massachusetts. Our weeks are pretty full and seem to pass quickly. I think the key is to fill our weekends too… We shall see. Maybe now that I’ve finally let the hurt and anger and resentment out I’ll be okay. So to my poor shell shocked girlfriend who let me pour my heart and guts out … I owe you. Thank you for always being the one I can just be me with- Flaws and all – I love you!!
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