Monday, November 29, 2010

Greener Grass

This weekend dissolved into a flurry of arguments around marital roles and who's responsibility is what, only to be followed by yet another disagreement Monday morning because the Husband informed me that he had a meeting on Wednesday evening and would not be able to be home to watch the Tot so I could go to work. Which then caused me to try (and fail) to find a sitter and eventually have to reschedule my meeting as well as let my supervisor know that I would be in late. I swallowed my embarrassment at my own unprofessionalism and then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to process my anger and frustration over having to put my own goals on the back burner yet again.

I keep trying to imagine ways that I could feel less like a second class citizen every time a conflict comes up with our schedules. I try to picture how things could be different that I wouldn't feel so irritated when this happens. What if I worked full time and we BOTH had important professional obligations? Or what if I didn't work at all and then there was no conflict to be had because my appointments would be much more flexible?

If I worked full time, I couldn't spend every day with the Tot. I would miss all of the important things that he is learning and doing. I would miss every nap and a majority of his meals. I would be fighting to make it home for bedtimes. And likely, the Husband and I would still be arguing but this time it would be about who is doing the child drop-off/pick-up and who is calling in sick to stay home with the cold/flu/fever that the Tot caught at daycare.

If I quit working altogether, there would certainly be less demand for my time. I would have less stress in my life in general, and there would be a lot few scheduling conflicts with the Husband. But, I don't think I would be any happier. In fact, I would feel even more like I was giving away a part of myself. Like I was letting go of any semblance of an attempt to have any life of my own and fully giving over to being a wife and mother and that's all.

The thing is, neither of those solutions is the answer. The mere thought of not being here with the Tot every day makes my eyes well up. The idea of quitting my job and being home is appealing from the perspective of having less stress but leaves me with the bitter taste of disappointment as well.

I wonder if I am asking too much. I wonder if my expectations are too high. To try to be a stay-at-home mom who works a little on the side and is still able to make it to doctors appointments, swim lessons, and business meetings without having to move heaven and earth to make it happen. To have a husband who says "I know your job is important, too, and I want to help you as much as I can" without me having to stomp my feet, scream, cry and resort to every other tantrum-like behavior. I wonder if it's unrealistic and unfair of me to put my own demands before the demands of the job that actually pays us the money we need to feed and clothe ourselves.

So then I come back to square one. It is what it is. If I was a doctor or a lawyer, maybe I would be the primary breadwinner. In which case, I would be calling the shots when it came to schedules. But I would also not be here with my son every day. What is the answer when none of the other grass is any greener? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Winter Cometh...Maybe

It's finally here! Sweater weather! I am a complete Mid-western anomaly in that I actually like Winter. Winter means soup and hot chocolate. Winter means bulky clothes to hide my chub. Winter means it's okay to stay indoors and snuggle in front of the fire with the Husband watching Harry Potter movies (my pick) or Lord of the Rings (his).  The start of cold weather also means the start of the Holiday season and the start of Holiday decorating. I love Christmas lights against a backdrop of snow. When I lived in Florida, the decorations just didn't feel the same! So, really, what's not to love about Winter time?

Well, there is this one thing: toddlers in winter coats. Please understand, I love bulky, snuggly tots as much as the next person. There is nothing better than finding a completely crazy fleece hat and colorful mittens to stuff my kid in to. What I am not loving so much is transporting the Tot from place to place. You see, it was brought to my attention recently (on FB no less!) that it isn't safe to have your kiddo in his car seat with a bulky coat on, as the straps cannot hold him securely in place. Logically this makes perfect sense, and I was glad to learn it prior to Winter's arrival. However, from a logistical standpoint, getting the child buckled in the car securely in a warm garage only to arrive at your destination and stand out in the cold while you try to shrug him into his coat, hat and mittens so he can walk 25 steps to the store and then pop said hat, mittens and coat off straightaway, is a bit crazy-making. For both of us.

In any case, at least he is warm and snuggly most of the time and safe and secure in the car. In the meanwhile, I am strongly considering purchasing some heavier sweaters and toddler long underwear to keep him toasty while traveling.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time Out

It was the fifth time he had taken a sip of water and let it run down his mouth and all over his shirt. I don't know what I was thinking when the words "If you do that again, you are getting a time out!" escaped from my lips. Sure enough - a mischievous giggle, another sip and another spill down the front of his already very soaked shirt.  I could feel my frustration building as I grabbed the time out mat (also known as a cute bath mat from Target) and sat him on it. He immediately laughed, stood up and walked off the mat. I grabbed him and sat him back in place. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Each time he would stand up and try to escape the mat, each time I would grab him and place him back on it firmly. I was trying hard not to react to him as he continued to giggle at me. This only fueled my frustration and the feeling that he wasn't "getting it". Eventually my "no reaction" resolve had been completely diminished and I was screaming at him to "GET. BACK. ON. THAT. MAT. NOW!" This was only met with increased giggles. Finally, I grabbed him and held him in place for the 60 second time out. Super Nanny would be very disapproving, I am sure.  

The thing is - I know better. The Tot is too young for time outs to be effective. I had actually attempted a time out once before with similarly frustrating results and my own assessment that he was "too young" and that I needed to wait a few more months before trying again. Yet, today, the threat was made without thinking and then I felt forced to follow through. In retrospect, I was the one who needed the time out. As soon as I felt my calm slipping, I should have just walked away. Instead I lost my cool and resorted to screaming and yelling - it's a parenting style that I despise. I don't believe in parenting through fear. I grew up with a step monster who yelled at us constantly and made us fear her so much that my step-sister and I would retreat to our rooms as soon as she got home from work in order to avoid her warpath. She is exactly the type of parent I never wanted to be. The type of parent I told myself I never would be. But, here I am - years later doing one heck of an imitation. 

I come from a long line of "yellers". My own mother yelled and my grandfather had a booming voice that commanded instant attention. I have always been a yeller but it's probably my least favorite thing about myself. I have always wanted to be the calm, graceful mother who could speak firmly to her child and get results. In retrospect, my problem isn't really with the yelling. My problem really isn't even with physical punishment, though I don't use it as a discipline method. My problem really is that I don't like parenting in anger. When I am angry, I am not thinking as clearly and I am not always in control of my actions. I feel that it's too easy for a situation to get out of hand or for punishment to be more severe than necessary because of the emotion behind it. Not to mention that it just shows the Tot that it's okay to lash out when you are angry and I don't want that to be the message he receives. Today was a perfect example of frustration overriding common sense in my head. 

I want to teach my child how to behave. I want him to learn right from wrong. I want him to know the rules and how to follow them. But, I also want to teach him to be kind. To be calm. To act instead of reacting. I don't want him to be afraid of me. I don't want to pass down bad behavior from generations of "yellers". I want to break that chain. I want to do better. I need to do better.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who Knew Trains Could Fly?

The illness has lifted. Mostly. There are still bouts of coughing but for the most part, the Tot is back to sleeping and I am back to feeling in control. Sort of.

Yesterday was the Husband's first business trip since the Tot has been born. I was less than thrilled to be a "single parent" even if it was only for an overnight, but we did okay. We played together most of the day and he took a good nap in the afternoon. When I started dinner, I put a show on for him to watch. I was thinking to myself how smoothly things run when there is structure. I was sort of writing a blog post in my head about my need for structure and how stressed/tense I become when my plans are disrupted, when the carrots on the stove started to boil over and the burner started to smoke.

I quickly turned the burner down and re-situated the pot, but when I was getting some stuff from the fridge, it happened again. Again, I turned the burner down and then decided just to turn it off and move the pot. Meanwhile, the whole downstairs was filled with smoke. I ran around opening the sliding glass door and the windows and turned on the fan, fearing that the smoke alarm would start blaring and scare the little guy at any moment. The Tot loved having the back windows open and was running his Thomas the Train up and down the sill saying "choo choo, choo choo". So, I went back to making dinner in the kitchen.

Two minutes later I hear "Choo-choo! Choo-choo!" in distress. The Tot is standing at the window but there is no Thomas to be found. I looked for him on the floor and then realized I could faintly here the sound of his whistle. Coming from outside. I looked closer and realized that the windows had no screens in them! They were gaping open into the night. Unfortunately, the Tot had figured that out before I had - hence Thomas' unscheduled trip to the backyard. Of course, as soon as he had flung the little train out the window, he wanted it back. I quickly closed the windows and went to the back door to "rescue" Thomas.

The sliding glass door was being heavily guarded by the largest moth I had ever seen. I tried to turn the back porch light on, hoping to lure him away from the screen, but to no avail. I then tried swatting him off the screen and blowing at him. After several attempts, I finally managed to deter him for a minute so I could slip out the back door. I had no shoes on  and the back yard was dark. I was squinting at every leaf, clump of dirt and rock. Praying not to meet any critters on my journey, I hopped through the grass to Thomas and dashed quickly back to the back door. I managed to distract the moth long enough to get myself back in the door and return Thomas to his happy owner.

The Tot was thrilled to have Thomas back. He was even more thrilled by the "throw stuff out the window" game. Unfortunately, this game doesn't work if the window is closed. But, that didn't stop him from trying. So far this experience has taught us that Mommy is a sucker who will brave many things for her child (and who should really pay more attention to open windows) and Matchbox cars make a loud "thunk" when you pitch them at the window. Also that if you don't stop throwing things at the get a timeout.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The Tot is sick again. And so begins the cold and flu season. It all started with an ear infection which has now migrated to a cough. The worst thing is that there is nothing to give him and no way to really help with his symptoms aside from Children's Tylenol. Thankfully, he is fever free. Unfortunately, his cough is preventing him from sleeping more than 20-30 minutes at a time and resulting in a highly crabby little guy. I have found there is a domino effect in that a crabby tot makes for a crabby momma. So, despite my best of intentions, our days have consisted mostly of trying to find a movie other than Toy Story/Toy Story 2/Cars that the Tot will watch.

Yes, I know, television is the devil. But the guilt I feel over letting him watch the tube all day long is far less than the amount of frustration that results in dealing with a cranky sick kid. Who knew how flexible my standards could be?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloween

The Tot was a Triceratops


We had a lot of fun. It was actually the Tot's second trick or treat experience, but last year he was only able to ride in his stroller and be carried door to door. This year he was able to march himself (with Mommy or Daddy's help) up the steps and say a garbled version of "Trick or Treat".

But, by far, his favorite part of the evening wasn't receiving the candy in his pumpkin bucket, it was handing the candy out to the costumed children who came to our door. He got such a thrill out of answering the door with his Dad and then distributing the goodies. Especially when the door ringer was a familiar face like "Thomas the Train" or "Winnie the Pooh". He has yet to learn that the person in the costume is not the ACTUAL person from the television show or movie. So we had to hold him back to prevent some actual mauling from occurring! 

This person was not anyone familiar to him and therefore safe from his clutches. 

Enjoying his spoils - his first candy EVER. It was a cowtail. Which he shared with his momma and after every bite said "More. More." until there wasn't any more which was met with sadness and tears. Truly his mother's child.