1. Baby makes three…

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I will start at the beginning.  Seems appropriate.

Seven years into a happy marriage, I found myself changing my mind about children.  My Mom says it was the ticking clock, but I will always say it was me changing my mind.  It startled me so much, that I didn’t tell a single soul for months.  I wanted to make sure it was real, and be completely happy with all potential outcomes before sharing this breaking news with my husband. It was very real, so I told my husband. He was thrilled, shocked, and happy.

Then came the first of many hard decisions, discussions, and deadlines.

I was not even pregnant, but I knew I wanted to stay home full time. We jointly decided that we would try to have a baby for 12 months, and if we were not successful, pursue adoption.  We were going to be parents!  We discussed where we would move to, as our current home was great for two, ok for two and a peanut, but downright cramped with three.

11 months later, I was pregnant, and 8 months after that, I was unable to work due to being the size of a planet, and having tree trunks for legs.  I felt ok, I just looked REALLY bad.  I had one pair of shoes that “fit” and they are still on the bottom tier of my shoe rack, stretched into an inhuman shape.

The day came to meet our daughter, turn our parents into grandparents, siblings into aunts and uncles, and become parents ourselves.

I was terrified of labor and delivery.  I checked in, went to my room, and had a good hard cry in the bathroom.  That would be the only time I cried in L&D.  After a good hard try at a surgery-free delivery, I had a very pleasant cesarean section, and there, in that bright, white, shiny operating room – I heard her cry, and sang Happy Birthday to my brand new daughter. I have enjoyed some strange things in my life, but very little compares to the weirdness of singing to a baby while your having surgery.

Everyone was so so so happy that day!  It was a truly joyful time.

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18. Pandas and Fairies

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That panda. Go search “Panda Potty Song.” That poor rendition of a panda bear (that looks high on mushrooms to the left, and appears to be having his mugshot taken – still on mushrooms – on the right) lays down a smooth, motivating vocal over some sick xylophone.

I planned on potty training after the baby was born, because I knew we’d be staying in more often than not.

I had absolutely no method, style, guru, book, website, or experience.

I learned an awful lot. Here are the big ones. If you don’t have patience and alertness during the first few weeks of potty training, put them in a diaper/pull up/whatever. It will be fine. Eventually, you’ll get sick of it and be ready to go to bed early and be rested and calm enough to tackle toilet time.  Stay home a lot, until you can identify their “tells”. Relax, and inspire your trainee to do the same. Do not pay any attention to anyone other than your child and pediatrician when it comes to timelines/averages/expectations.

I did not want to use food as a reward, but I knew some kind of prize would motivate my bright big girl. I stocked up on clearance, resale, and other inexpensive prizes. The “potty fairy” would visit and leave them for her after a few days of consistent success.

Some days were difficult to get her on to the toilet, but this glorious panda potty song always kept her there. In the event of an accident, the song delivers a great line about accidents being okay, but try again every day.

I won’t tell you how many days it took, or if there were accidents or not. The road to the potty is different for everyone. Just be patient with yourself, and your trainee.

 

 

17. Long time coming

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It has been so long, that I had another child. No, really. Another beautiful sweet healthy baby. A tiny sister for my big girl. The tiny one is about to be 8 months old, and I absolutely cannot believe it.

There is so much to discuss. Let me know what you actually want me to talk about, and I will. Within reason.

For now, I will do my best to catch you up on the T with me.

The second pregnancy was awful. I was very sick, then sick and huge, then sicker and gargantuan. Guilty for the changes coming our way, and the impact on my first born. Thankfully, the 10lb baby arrived with no troubles. Surgery, again. I thought it would be easier the second time around. The scheduled c-section was everything the emergency c-section was, with more weirdness and scary parts. You walk in to the surgery room on your own two feet, alone. You get a spinal block, and it works FAST. Faster than you think, minus one second. I remember the sensation of nothing hurting coming over me like a warm blanket. I took a sigh of relief, and before I could finish; the anesthesiologist and nurse quickly helped me move my legs up on the surgery table seconds before becoming an actual puddle.

I kept my eyes closed. I was so scared that I just couldn’t look. At anything. You are not allowed to comment on this part unless you have had surgery with your head awake.

Then, between the sounds of my husband’s hyper and irregular breathing pattern, the steady beat of the monitors, and some generic OR sounds, was the sound of our baby. There she was! I opened my eyes to see her….SHE LOOKED LIKE ME!!!! The first baby was a miniature version of my husband, so I was overjoyed that it appeared I actually participated. She was huge. Angry. Fuzzy. Beautiful. Sweet. Ours.

Breastfeeding came up right away again, as it should. This time, I was prepared with a backbone, for myself and my brand new baby. She ate right away. We bonded, and it was magic. Lactation was not supposed to enter my room unless specifically requested, but they did anyway. Just once. I answered all of the questions quickly and completely and the interaction was pleasant and over in under 2 minutes.

I had a very difficult recovery. I was in a lot of pain, and it took 12 hours before someone cared enough to get my doctor on the phone and get me some relief.

Four days in, and I was ready to get the hell away from the hospital, with hopes to never ever return, EVER.

On the way home, my big girl, in all her two and half year old glory said, “I GOT MY WHOLE FAMILY! MOM, DAD, BABY SISTER, AN’ ME!” That was the moment I knew this was going to work out, and that we’d find our new way together. The first lasting relief I had felt in nearly a year.

It was so hard at first. I was in pain, and had some complications that added some Dr. visits to our already busy schedule of baby check ups, and normal post-delivery checkups – all in a foot of snow. My older daughter was leery of me, as I was not myself, and the entire hospital experience freaked her out. The new baby was loud and delicate and weird for her.

I was grateful to start feeling better a few weeks later. There was some semblance of a family routine, and I had officially left the house with both children on a long outing, alone. Everyone lived.

 

 

 

 

 

16. I don’t like you, but I love you.

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I promised a few people that I’d break the internet today. I hope they understood that the break will be directly proportionate to my online presence, which is rather small. This blog was created for something to do, as a part of my new job. I am still doing the same Mom thing, the girl is alive and thriving, and every minute of two and a half.

But, enough of that for now. This is a rant of mine. I feel like it belongs here, on my parenting blog because it will expose who I am, and what sort of parent I am trying to be. I hope it starts a dialog among readers, be it internal, in print, or out loud.

For me, the absolute worst thing about being a parent, is other parents. Period. Unfortunately, I have recently been through a few experiences that have altered my thought patterns. I am not as generous as I once was, and as a general rule, I don’t like people. Fortunately for you, due to some hard wired parts of the personality I was born with, even though I [probably] don’t like you; I love you.

This meltdown started a few months ago, when I became aware of a transgender high school student in a district near our home. This student filed a federal complaint as human rights were being violated. The board meetings began. The intolerance began to flood the local newspapers, bulletins, and eventually, a Facebook group full of parents; where I became very aware of the rampant ignorance and selfishness.

I have no idea what it feels like to be born in a body that does not match my soul. Sure, I would love to be taller, have bigger eyes, smaller thighs, skin that was less translucent – all things of vanity – not of substance. I think everyone can identify on some level with me, and if you can, a lot of those physical complaints can be solved with diet, exercise, self tanner, and duct tape. Being born into the GLBTQ community is not a choice, nor is it vain, it is a faultless feature. Too many humans have lived an entire life void of joy, or prematurely perished at their own hands, or the hands of others in the absence of love.

Here is the article: http://wgntv.com/2016/01/15/transgender-student-who-fought-district-211-gets-access-to-girls-locker-room-today/

This student filed a federal complaint (or had one filed on their behalf by someone) the school was found in violation, and the student will now have access to a locker room they feel comfortable using. One that aligns with their true self.

The uproar is embarrassing and has a regressive feel to it. Parents have said horrible things to the tune of “I don’t care how this student feels” and “The majority should rule” and even going so far as to suggest that High School aged students in the public school system have never seen genitalia of any kind before. 

“Majority rules” tends to favor a rather small group of people that look the same, and out earn people like us. Lots of people have been extinguished under majority rules. We have missed some real brilliance, I know it – and you should be able to at least entertain that thought. It is that absence of love that is to our own detriment. Eventually.

I am afraid for this student, and the students’ advocates.

I have sat on my hands, and kept all of my comments on this matter free of profanity, accusatory tones, and name calling. You can believe I have been roasted by a slew of people that have no appreciation for opinions outside their own. That is my way of showing love to that set.

For the people that I both like and love (all six of you): I will never accept you treating someone in a sub-standard way for any reason (this includes yourself AND others). Let people earn their spot on your “list”- don’t assume they belong there. Speak up for the meek when appropriate. Say your piece once, and move on. If they won’t hear you, go use your breath on something you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. Workin’ it

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I got a job.

I didn’t go looking, either. It just found me.

I can bring the kiddo, and there is another kiddo for her to play with.

Yes, you read that correctly: Someone leaves me with their child! The trust required for this to happen is immense, and has brought me a lot of joy, and a feeling of validation.

The energy was nervous the night before my first day. Nervous about being on time, being an effective and enriching caregiver, and continuing to be a good parent to my own child. We had a spectacular disaster of a commute the first two days (surprise snow storm, and a collision with an orange construction barrel on a huge expressway) , but those were the only real hiccups. Things have gone very smoothly, and I am grateful for all of it.

Spending a lot of time with two children of a similar age has really opened my eyes, and increased my own awareness of individuality. They are very different, yet they always find a way to play together.  I have re-learned that assumptions are really dangerous.

*I have been writing this post since April 6th.  No kidding.  I am just now coming back to finish, nearly a month later!*

Now that some time has passed, it can be officially said that this job is pretty great. My manners in the morning have improved (I used to be extremely crabby and worthless before 8am), the children play and learn all day, and while there is fighting, it doesn’t take much to resolve it. For two only children, this situation could not be better.

The struggles I have pertain mostly to my house. It is not as clean as I would like it to be, and the laundry pile gets pretty serious these days. When I feel stressed about that, I remind myself that we are all happy, and healthy. The corners may be a little crumb-y, and the laundry can be mountain-y, but we are just fine. I am fairly certain that I am the only one in the house who really cares about that stuff anyway.

Time to shift gears:

Can I give a shout out to the parents of multiples for a moment? I have two children of similar age in my care, full time. They could not be more different if they tried. Yet, I hear “OMG are they TWINS?” all the time! That question doesn’t bother me, because twins don’t have to be identical, but what really makes me nuts is the eye rolls, advice, and rude question! A stranger went out of his way to explain to me that an “in line” stroller is a much better choice than the side by side we were using, and he should know, because he went through that with his grandchildren. I wanted to ask him if he wanted to sell me a nice in line stroller for $20, or tell him that I was doing the best I could, but I just smiled, and nodded. People have asked who the evil twin is, and why they have different color hair. They say “OMG you have your hands full!” when they are quietly sitting in the stroller, or playing nicely at the park. PARENTS OF MULTIPLES: YOU HAVE MY SUPPORT. People are ridiculous.

Now, for the next five weeks, we have birthdays to celebrate! I would love to make false promises of more writing, and regular days of the week to publish it, but I won’t.

I’ll see ya when I see ya.

14. As deep as a puddle

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I’ve been busy.

Like: My Mom broke her leg, my sister is getting married soon, I had the plague, some family friends died, both of my grandmothers got sick, and one died-type of busy.

So, that settles the question of “Where ya been?”

Now, on to pressing matters of the ever so lavish life of a suburban stay at home Mom.

Can we talk about this hokey commercial for a few minutes?

It is GARBAGE.

First, parents talk smack quietly, behind the backs of their target(s). You know, like civilized assholes do.

Second, the most #thuglife thing I have ever seen in a park during daylight involved an empty airplane bottle of vodka sitting in the grass.  I imagined it was an errant party favor from some truly thuggish 15 year olds, who huddled around it for hours, each took a “chug”, and hiccuped home; too intoxicated to clean up the mess.

Third, the touching moment at the end, where we are all reminded that we are parents first……Ugh. Keep the Kleenex, and pass the remote.

I like being a parent.  I like the way I parent, and I love my girl. My husband feels the same way. We appreciate each other’s styles, and they are often complimentary. When it comes to parenting, this is all that matters. You, and your immediate support team should have common goals, and an aligned view of how to get there.

Unfortunately, simply being parents is not enough to unite entire communities. For the same reasons that an entire class of 3rd graders cannot be friends – even if they have a lot in common. We still judge each other, and now, with unpredictable toddlers, nervous Kindergartners, snappy primary students, and gawky secondary students by our sides, the fodder is practically limitless.

Some people will always work on knocking you, or your family down. They have too much free time, and should try volunteering. If you are listening, you have too much free time, and should also volunteer.

Take pride in your parenting, stick to your guns, and lead your children by example.  Even if our children are not friends, I would be thrilled if they could respect each other.

And now, dear reader(s), I have a little favor to ask of you.  Due to the extreme dose of bad luck my family has dealt with, I have been doing random acts of kindness every week to try and even the score. If you have a little time or money to spare, put some good out there!

Thanks!

13. Baby, are you down?

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My answer to Jay Sean and Lil Wayne would be, “Yeah, I am down, but not for what you think.”

Christmas was a blur.Four days of cooking, going, doing, wrangling, eating, cleaning…all while I was pretty sick. Yes, again. It was exhausting, but, the magic of an 18 month old at Christmas was enough to cure me.

With the new playroom well underway, and life getting back to normal, things took a hard left, as they often do.

The closer we get to the kiddo being two years old, the more “two” she becomes. She spends equal time vertically and horizontally during some days, as her response to anything she doesn’t LOVE is to lay on the ground and yell.

She lays down and yells about….

The word “No”. Toys. Not having certain toys. Books. The wrong book. Puppies. Cookies. The alphabet. When her baby doll’s clothes don’t fit her. Today, she cried because she wanted cheese – WHILE SHE WAS EATING CHEESE.

Ya dig?

Yesterday, she was having a full body spaz attack, and I got a bloody nose – a gusher. After cleaning the carpet, the kid, and getting new clothes for both of us, she took a nap.  After her nap, she laid on the floor and yelled and cried for one solid hour. I cried, too. Not for an hour.

So yeah, I was down. Down for a long trip to anywhere else. The problem is that the temperature has been right around zero, with some dangerous wind chills. Leaving the house was not wise, especially late at night, when I finally could leave.

I feel like I do everything, and nothing.

My last job was for a company that placed value on everything but the actual employees. I know that is part of why I feel this way.  In 10 years, I was the first person (to my knowledge) to leave the job to stay home with a baby.

People say ignorant things. Strangers! Some will go out of their way to be mean. I don’t let many people get away with it in the moment, but it does not stop it from being hurtful.

Worse yet, I am mean. To myself. “It is my fault the kid acts up. It is my fault she is so mad. I am the reason why we aren’t driving better cars”. It goes on, and lately, it has been loud.

Just when I am about to pull an Artax (if you don’t know, Google), I find my footing – by way of a friendly compliment, or a kind ear, or a sweet moment with the girl – and climb out.

When the going gets tough, I fantasize about working – for a moment. Then logic sets in, and our days begin at 4am, the house becomes a disaster, weekends are packed with chores, I worry about the girl too much and lose focus at work; and I never, EVER get a break.

I do know that I need to write more – and not just here. I need to find my art supplies and “art” again, and I need to lay off the self-destruct button.

12. The Twelve Daze

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Twelfth post. Christmas time. No brainer.

Speaking of brains, mine is mush. Between the day to day routine, the husband taking time off, and the holiday overload of emotions, bills, cooking,  and parties, I am having a hard time finding the fun in all of it.

When I become grinchy like this, it helps me to break it all up and review.

First thing is first: For those of you that have been reading, particularly the entry entitled “Two Face” – Santa is a “go”. We are going to enjoy the magic of it all, and deal with the transition later. The girl has been to see Santa on more than one occasion. Ok, maybe six times, but I cannot bring myself to pay over $50 for a silly picture with her, and a stranger she is wary of. I deposited that money into her savings account instead. I am still not on board with that little creepy elf, though.

The day to day around here is mostly predictable. The girl is strong, smart, and very funny. Sometimes, she throws the most epic temper tantrums; they could rival a star death. Other times, she will sing “Zippydooodaaaa” to me, and I love her all the same.

When my husband takes time off, it messes with my routine. More time is spent having fun as a family, and the floors get dirty. The sink gets dish-y, and I sneak out for extra time at the barn.  It is good for me, for us.  Of course, I go bananas over the crumbs and splashes, but I shouldn’t. My husband and daughter still love me; and any real friend that would happen by would too.

December is the fastest month of the year. I usually get comfortable after Thanksgiving, thinking “It’s only November”. Today – yes December 18th – I started my gift shopping. Thankfully, I don’t have many people to buy for. Despite having specific lists from people, there is an uneasy stress about choosing the best things from the list, finding deals to get the most bang for my buck, and wrapping it all up. I really dislike wrapping gifts. I am bad at it, and I find it frustrating. The paper mocks me, and the tape is either too sticky, or not sticky at all. I bet the kiddo could do a better job. Too bad for me, that most of the gifts are for her, and, let’s be real, she would eat the paper.

The emotions are there, too. Besides the messed up routine, and extra spending – there is a sense of responsibility that can feel crushing if I don’t get out from under it once in a while. I have a family of my own, plus my parents and sister, a big extended family, and inlaws. We will see them all; three days in a row. There will be an excessive amount of food, and only slivers of time for relaxing. There will be expectations; not only of myself, but from others, and they can be lofty. Things will be better this year, because I am doing what I want. Mostly.

There are fun parts, and most of them center around the little girl with the curly hair. Picking out gifts for her was a great time, and I am looking forward to giving them to her, and watching her learn and play with them. Watching silly Christmas movies and TV shows, seeing her tiny fingers gently poke every light on the tree. All of that sounds like the magic I need.