The Truth about Parenting

For a long time I couldn’t get over the feeling that I wished I could be the aunt to my kids instead of the mom.  The aunt gets to play with the kids and receive love from the kids and teach the kids and almost anything except the hard parts like hanging around for the temper tantrums, making breakfast, lunch, dinner, wiping dirty hands and high chairs, changing stinky diapers (and spraying them if you cloth diaper!), telling toddlers “no” for the hundredth time and having to follow through with some consequence while they scream in your ear; cleaning stains out of dirty clothes, holding a sick child in the middle of the night who is burning up with fever, getting vomited on and having to clean up the mess without freaking out. (the last one is more a problem I have since vomit is my worst nightmare.  I just freeze and don’t know where to begin the cleanup!)  And then there’s the guilt of always wondering if you’re effing your kids up big time.  I think all the parenting books out there do more harm than good by giving you lots of guilt if you don’t do things according to their method.  But they say opposite things!  Attachment parenting vs. cry it out books still give me guilt.  As much as I’d always assumed I’d be doing the whole attachment parenting thing and co-sleeping or rocking my babies to sleep or wearing them all the time, it turns out it doesn’t quite gel with me.  I can’t get any sleep next to a baby because every time they twitch I wake up.  I can’t rock a baby to sleep for an hour because I got other stuff to do and I don’t have the patience.

But aside from the guilt and the difficulties and logistics of being MOM, it’s so very amazing.  I knew I had to stick with it because I wanted to be called “mom”.  I wanted to be the one they turn to when they are hurt or scared or happy or sad.  I wanted their love so much.  Maybe those are selfish reasons.  Yes, of course I want to give them so much love, too.  I want to teach and guide and shape and support them as they grow.  I want them to know Christ.  I want to comfort and nurture their little bodies and minds.  But as a new mother, it was difficult at times to constantly be putting all my efforts into caring for my oldest when he was a baby and not really receive much in return.  I knew at the beginning that I could be replaced at the drop of a hat and it hurt a little.  At times he may have preferred other people over me.  I was in the background, changing him, feeding him, getting up with him all night, but he was too young to pay any attention to that.  He just liked the people who gave him all the fun attention and played with him.  Ironically, my second child was the opposite, but that was difficult in its own way.

All this to say…..it gets better. So so much better.  And my oldest is only 2 1/2.  I have lots more to look forward to.  Lately, both kids have been easier and better behaved.  There’s been a lot more moments that I wish I could freeze.  A camera just doesn’t quite do it justice.  Leo still loves to drive his cars around and line them up.  For a while, I would put Silvia down for a nap in the morning and then lay on the couch and drift off to sleep while he drove his cars on my legs.  He seems like a little boy rather than a toddler when playing with the neighbor girls. They whisper something to him and he whispers back.  He chases them around and plays hide and seek and laughs his little head off.  Sometimes he wakes up from a nap and is still tired and just wants to be held for a while, my big little baby.  He is so helpful and good about sharing with Silvia.  They hand each other their shared sippy cup when they’re finished drinking.  When I’ve gone to put Silvia down for a nap, Leo has brought one of her favorite stuffed animals to give to her knowing she likes to sleep with it.  And when he hears her wake up from a nap he shouts “baby awake!” and runs to open her door.  He sometimes pretends to breastfeed his bunny.  He loves books and will sit and read them for a while.  He loves to jump on his bed and pretend to go night night all throughout the house by dragging his blankets and pillows and dropping them in any room of the house and laying on them.  He easily gives kisses and now enjoys naming people to pray for when he says his night time prayers with Daddy.

Silvia seems to be (at least temporarily) over her hitting and biting phase.  Now she is a lover and wants only to give everyone kisses all the time.  If she is sitting next to Leo, she’ll lean over and kiss his back.  She comes from behind and gives Leo a hug or kiss and then they wrestle and giggle.  She likes to charge after me from several feet away and fall into me with a hug.  When I’m holding her, she gives my arm little kiss-pecks.  She kissed my friend’s arm the other day.  She will kiss any object: a toy, a crayon, a stuffed animal, a magnet, you name it.  She has a big toothy grin and an adorable giggle.  She is getting a little more interested in books, but mostly she will hand you a book and want to sit with you, but then jumps down after the first page to grab another book.  Repeat.  She sometimes tells me when she has to poop by saying “papa” for poopoo and hitting her diaper violently.  When I put her on the potty she smiles and says “pppsssssss” because I was trying to connect that sound with peeing.  When she gets excited, she runs really silly, like she’s being zapped by lightning.

I write out these details as a way to remember.  Pictures and videos can’t communicate the details of the days of the weeks of the months of the years.  Time will pass me by, and I don’t want to look back and think “they were so cute, but I don’t remember what they were like back then.”  I want to remember the good and the bad.  I want to remember the truth.  The hardships, yes, but the joyful moments that so easily soften the rougher edges.  Their isn’t a day that goes by (no matter how trying a day it is) that I don’t thank God for the gift that my children are.  They are little miracles and they fill me with awe.  It might not be love at first sight with me, but I’ve come to love them with all my heart.

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Montessori style

Recently, I’ve become interested in some of the Montessori ideas.   It appeals to me because it helps children reach for independence in a natural way and gives them the appropriate challenge for their age.  To be honest, I’ve kinda babied Leo a bit.  Before I became a mom, I was all “my kid is going to be doing any work that he’s physically capable of doing at that age”  And then I spoon fed Leo until he was 2.  Yeaaa….  He was slow to get it, but I spoon fed him from the start.  With Silvia, I let her feed herself almost from the start.  I said screw the mess, I don’t want to sit around spoon feeding 2 kids, so she’s gonna do it on her own.  And clean-up time is much longer than it was with Leo, but I can eat lunch with them or work on dishes while they eat.  Silvia can already get the spoon in her mouth pretty well; she just can’t get food on it first. 🙂

It took me some time to realize that I have to let Leo try at the work that I do even if it does take 10x longer and makes a bigger mess.  It will mean he’ll be a productive member of the family from an earlier age, and that is important to me.  I’m kind of an OCD perfectionist, so it was hard accepting this, but now I enjoy teaching Leo these new skills.  With 2 little ones, I can never keep up with the housework.  The sooner I can start delegating chores to the kids, the better.  This place will be a little cleaner someday…..I hope.

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Leo helping put silverware away

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Trying to copy daddy as he worked on the bike trailer

Anyway, I was already letting Leo “help” more around the house, but the Montessori ideas pertained more to the organization of Leo’s bedroom.  Montessori is all about having things within reach for kids and basically making the world that surrounds the kid “child-sized”.  We already had a couple book shelves within his reach, but he couldn’t reach his top dresser drawers.  So, to my delight all of his clothes fit in 3 plastic bins that were sitting in his closet looking tacky.  Now, he can access his clothes.   Also, I made a shoe box for him by cutting a cardboard box.  I now expect him to get his shoes and put them back in the box.  Since I moved the plastic bins that blocked his closet, the closet is now accessible to store and hide toys that will be rotated out.

Also, we’re going to put a few pegs up on the wall so Leo can hang his coat/jacket/hat up.  And we’ll finally be selling or getting rid of our crappy couch so we can move the recliner out of Leo’s room and have more space for storing toys in an attractive way rather than random stuff thrown in a bin.  Kids like to play with toys that are visible and set up attractively.

Leo is now finally out of his crib.  He never tried to climb out so I was planning on keeping him in there indefinitely….but the Montessori ideas try to give the child freedom, trust and new skills, so I thought it fitting to let him out of his cage.  I took apart his crib myself and put his mattress on the floor.  I made a big deal about his “new bed”.  He’s been doing so well in it.  He was definitely ready.  If he does try to come out of the room during nap time, I just tell him to go lay down and take a nap and he stays in his room.  At night, he may fuss a minute, but doesn’t even get out of his bed.  Most days he was still tired/grumpy after his nap and just sat on his bed and cried.  Today he woke up from his nap in a good mood and I didn’t hear him until I heard his door handle turning.  He walked out of his room happy.  I’m loving this change.

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This is what I saw the first nap he took on it.  It explains the dirty marks on the wall I found between the slots of his crib.  He must’ve liked to put his feet on the wall even through his crib.

Leo and Silvia have been peeing on the potty some lately.  Today, while Silvia was on the Bjorn potty, Leo put his bunny on the Ikea potty.  Leo and I were both saying “pssssss” trying to get Silvia (and the bunny) to go pee.  Later, Leo got into the box of wipes and wanted to wipe his bunny’s butt.  I showed him how to use an imaginary wipe instead.

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If sarcasm and self deprecating humour were an Olympic event I'd definitely qualify.

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