Archive | January 2011

Teething – again

It’s entirely possible that I’ll do a separate post for each tooth that this child pops out.  When she’s teething, she morphs into this entirely different baby.  She’s not unpleasant, she’s actually in a pretty decent mood as long as I’m within two feet of her at all times.  But when I stray – to say, go to the bathroom, or shower, or God forbid, load the dishwasher, she sobs like I just cut off her leg. 

All babies are wonderful, and all babies are challenging.  Some more so than others.  I’m blessed in that my kids are, temperment wise, all over the spectrum.  Sam at one end, Julianna on the other, and Jessie occupying this special place in the middle.  I find it fascinating – of course, they are my kids, so I don’t necessarily think that other people will find it as interesting, but it’s my blog :-).

Jessie and Sam are very similiar in their emotional sensitivity.  Not always in their expression – Jessie is far more likely to storm off to her room than Sam is, but both of them are very dramatic and intense.   Sam is super sensitive to correction – discipling him is difficult because he takes it so personally that he reacts like I (or Marc) am beating him with a stick when in fact, we actually just said very calmly – “hey, calm down a little, okay?”  I exaggerate a little for emphasis, but he does tend to get much more upset than is warranted when his behavior is corrected.  Jessie, on the other hand, I have to be careful to shield whatever I’m feeling – if I’m tense or stressed out, it’s a recipe for her to lose control.  Any emotion that I’m feeling, she magnifies back at me.  Which is great most of the time, because I’m pretty happy, but on mornings when I’m running late and everything is going wrong – well… there have been many mornings when both of us are sobbing before she leaves for school. 

Julianna is very happy go lucky – she’s generally pretty convinved that the world is filled with people who love her and is delighted to learn more about it.  She’s very social, likes to be in the center of the action.  I wonder where she’ll fall… will she be one of those kids who just sort of rolls with it?  I’m sensing not – she’s developed a bellow, a scream, almost – and it’s just when things aren’t going her way.  The food isn’t appearing fast enough on her high chair, the toy she wants is still out of reach, Daddy is ignoring her.  Whatever it is – she opens her mouth and just… bellows.  That’s really the best way to describe it. 

Lessons I’ve learned as a mom

(in no real order)

1.  Number one rule is to get the baby fed.  If that means supplementing with formula, it’s not the end of the world.  But breastfeeding is so much more than just feeding the baby, and you don’t want to miss out on it.  It really is worth all the struggles.

2.  You really never do regret the time you spend holding your child.  Even if you are told by everyone that you are spoiling your baby, at the end of the day, it’s your baby and you can spoil them if you want to.

3.  A broken arm doesn’t really look like a broken arm.  Sometimes it looks like a four year old who’s being too dramatic.

4.  Benedryl really does fix everything.  Runny noses, hives, coughing, crappy moods, etc.  It’ll even get rid of contractions.

5.  The worst pregnancy leads to the easiest delivery.

6.  Being a good parent is accepting the child you have and loving them, not blaming yourself and them for personality quirks that make everyone’s life more difficult.

7.  Sometimes, the best way to avoid a fight with your beloved husband is to pretend that he’s not home.

8.  When your child hurts, it hurts you ten thousand times worse.

9.  Letting your child know that it hurts you isn’t always a good idea, because if they know that you’re freaked out, it just makes it harder for them.

10.  Standing with all the other parents waiting to pick up your child from school feels an awful lot like standing on the playground when you’re a little kid yourself. 

11.  Nobody really cares if you’re late or cancel plans last minute.  People understand you’ve got kids – and if they don’t, you should really rethink your social group.

12.  Nothing bad happens if you occasionally give your kids oreos for breakfast.  Not saying it’s a great idea for every day, but every now and again, it’s a nice break.

13.  Speaking of breaks – it’s totally okay to hand your nine month old food you know damn well she’s just dropping on the floor or shoving down into the high chair, if it buys you enough time to eat your own dinner while it’s still hot.  You can always clean up later.

14.  When your baby wraps her arms around your neck for the first time and squeezes, and follows it up with an open mouth sloppy kiss, you will literally be brought to tears at how incredibly blessed you are. 

15.  Having a little boy is baffling (who are these super heros and why does he keep trying to emulate them, screaming “I’m the FLASH” and tearing around the house, or hurling batarangs at imaginary villians), but it’s one of the most tender, loving relationships you’ll ever have.

16.  Listening to your daughter sing along with the radio is the most disconcerting sensation, because you’ll suddenly start thinking of her as someone who will one day actually feel those emotions and it freaks you out – because you could swear that yesterday she was still saying “wuv” instead of  “love.”

17.  You’re never really as good at mothering as you want to be.  At any point, you could list a million things you wish you had done differently.

18.  Your kids will fight faster and meaner with their siblings than with anyone else.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t love and adore them – and it doesn’t mean you’re a crappy parent.  

19.  You will feel like a crappy parent far more often than you will feel like a good one.  Because the job definition is so endlessly changing and there’s no way to prepare for any of it.

20.  Your job isn’t to make your child happy – in fact, making your child happy all the time is the quickest way to screw it up.  Sometimes, lots of times, you have to kind of make them not like you all that much.  Bedtime, eating vegetables, taking baths and going to the doctor – nobody wants to do them, and that’s why God gave children parents.

21.  Speaking of God – there’s no faster way to figure out how you feel about religion than to have a child who asks about it. 

22.  It doesn’t really matter what bed everyone sleeps in at night.  You can make the most beautiful bedroom and your eight year old would still rather sleep snuggled up next to you, and you can not share a bed with your husband for years on end and still have a really awesome sex life (apologies to my children who may be reading this years from now…).

23.  Really grasping that your husband is as much a parent as you are is incredibly hard, and infinitely worth it.  Because your kids deserve two equal parents – and your husband brings stuff to the table that you’d never think of.  Like knowledge of super heros, for example. 

It’s my birthday!

Actually, it’s not, it’s my mother’s birthday today, but mine is tomorrow and that’s close enough.   I was thinking about how much everything has changed since this time last year.  I was so pregnant and itchy and uncomfortable last winter.  Not enough time has passed since Julianna’s pregnancy, I can still remember how just miserable I was thru most of it.   But holy moly – it was so incredibly worth every single second of it.  Julianna is such a joy and I can’t imagine not having her. 

Marc lost his job in September of this year, and that’s also been, in an odd way, an incredible blessing.  In a lot of ways, financially, we’re actually better off now, and having this time home with him is wonderful.  I love it, I love having him here, I love seeing him with the kids.  I’m so incredibly fortunate, to have married my best friend and to be able to raise a family with him.  He won’t be home forever, obviously, so I cherish my time with him now. 

We’ve also moved to a new house – and I still love it so much.  I love the big kitchen, the enormous dining room.  I love the backyard (currently covered under eight feet of snow, but I know it’s there), and love, love, love the deck.  I love that the girls have their own bedroom, I love the playroom downstairs, and love that Samilicious has his own bedroom as well.  I also love that Sam won’t play in his bedroom or downstairs by himself – for such an anti-social boy, he hates being alone.  He’ll keep himself busy and amused in the living room or dining room, but he likes to be with Marc and I.  All the time.

I’ve also seen the growth of a serious bond between my baby girl and her big brother.  She loves the other kids, of course, and adores Jessie in particular, but because Sam is home with her so much, she just lights up when he’s around. 

 

Blogging…

So I’m bopping around the yahoo homepage and run into a writing prompt on how public is your blog meant to be.  This blog wasn’t ever meant to be super public, which is to say that my target audience was always just me.  I like to write, it helps me to understand where I am and where I’ve been.  I’ve met (if you can use that term to describe people you’ve never actually seen) some awesome people thru this blog (JoEllen, I can’t ever thank you enough for getting me thru the nursing crisises I had with Julianna), reconnected with some that I had totally lost touch with, and in some cases, the blog provided ammunition to be used against me.  I love that people read it (most people, anyway).  I love the communication and I love the comments and the feedback.  But at the heart of it, this blog is for me.  It’s for my kids, I wanted Jess and Sam and Julie to be able to look back and have a record of what their childhood was like for me.  I think it’s really wonderful to be able to look back and remember some of the more memorable parts of motherhood.  So much of what I do is lost in the day to day hustle bustle of it all – I’m afraid I’d forgot all those little moments if I didn’t blog about them. 

I blog when I can, and not as often as I’d like to.  But this is mine and it’s me more than almost anything else.  It’s where I am, what I’m thinking, what I’m doing.  I love this blog.

Right now, Jessica is off at Hebrew School, and Sam and Julie are playing behind the couch.  We have baseboard heat here, and have to keep the furniture away from the wall in order to have it not frigid.  (Forget warm, I shoot for not frigid).  Sam quickly figured out that he could put his feet on the heater and stay warm and it quickly became his favorite place in the whole house.  He’ll sit on the couch at night, if I coax him, but mostly, he just hangs out behind the couch.  He moved Julie’s bumbo seat back there, and asked if she could come play.  She’s never sat behind the couch (because really, why would she?) and is utterly thrilled to be included in his game.  She almost never sits in the bumbo anymore – I keep it around for Becky’s daughter Abby, she’s really too big for it, so I don’t expect it to last long.

As far as milestones go – my baby is not even a little bit interested in crawling.  She will occasionally butt scoot forward, but for the most part, she just sort of hollers to get what she wants.  She’s VERY verbal, and is already saying a whole bunch of words.  Unfortunately, the only one that she seems to do on purpose knowing what it means is to cough.  I think she believes that it means hi.  She’ll say mama, aimee, ammy (Sammy?), abba, baby, happy, abby – all things that sound like she’s talking, but I don’t think she actually understands it yet.  But she’ll look right at you and cough on purpose and smile. 

Oh, the agony of it all

I know she’s my third child, and in theory, I’ve been down the teething road before – but I feel like it’s so much harder with Julianna.  Probably because she’s my easiest baby, she’s more than content to hang out and play with her daddy or siblings, or even just the bucket of blocks on the floor.  She’s sunshiney delighted almost all of the time – unless she’s teething.  In which case, she morphs into the human koala baby.  She nurses non-stop, cries if I even contemplate putting her down or in someone’s else’s lap.  She’s completely, totally, 100% devoted to me and the only thing that calms her down, the only thing, is being on top of me. 

So I cook one handed, I plop her on the floor on the bathroom rug when I pee.  I fold laundry with her in the back pack, and I spend a lot of time watching Say Yes to the Dress (why?  because it’s on all the time, and it’s short and requires no thought whatsoever).  I sit and snuggle her for hours, dozing on the couch because she’s up all night nursing.  Motrin works a little, tylenol works a little less, and baby ambesol is useless. 

But in the end, she’ll get another little tooth poking out and her smile is so beautiful.  It’s worth it – but really frustrating when I’m in the middle of it. 

It’s not my fault – thoughts on parenting very different children

My daughter Jessica was born to a very different mother than my other two were.  Jessie was my first baby, she was born almost exactly a year after I met her dad.  I was still figuring out how to be a wife, how to be a grown up.  Being a mother was wonderous and amazing, and I loved it from the very first second.  I felt this amazing bond with Jessie, still do.  I had a hard time separating her from me, knowing where she ended and where I began.  I still do, honestly – it’s very hard for me when she’s upset.  We bounce off of each other’s moods.  I had a very hard time sharing her – I felt as though her rightful place was in my arms.  I wanted her with me 24/7.  I loved Marc, of course, but motherhood was really overwhelming for me, at first.  I couldn’t always balance out being Melissa and being Mommy. 

Jessie is definitely a product of that.  She’s a stereotypical first child and stereotypical middle child all at the same time.  She’s intense, dramatic, brilliant and always, always wonderously challenging.  She struggles with trying to be my oldest and the middle of Marc’s children.  She’s so much like me sometimes it’s scary.  I hear her echoing my speech patterns, my thought pattern.  She’s maternal, she’s all emotion and feeling with a scary smart sort of intellect.

Sam and Julianna were born to a woman in an established happy marriage.  I was very confident in my mothering skills, had a good idea on who I was and how I wanted to parent.  I’m as bonded to them as I am with Jessie, but a lot more confident about who I am.  I’m a lot better about sharing.  My parenting tends to err on the side of attachment parenting.  I co-sleep, I breastfeed until the child is done.  I don’t CIO, I do baby led solids, and I spend pretty much all my free time with them.  I’m a SAHM, so my free time is pretty minimal, but I don’t generally make plans that don’t include at least one if not all of my children. 

And you could not possibly find two children who are more different.  Sam is an extreme introvert.  He cried for the first year of his life, I swear.  Nobody would watch him, he would cry if anyone other than immediate family caught his eye and smiled at him.  Exceptionally attached to me for the first couple of years, and still very close to both Marc and I.  He’s not ready for preschool and is terrified at the thought of kindergarten.  He spends most parties hiding behind me and begging to leave.  He’s visibly uncomfortable when he’s in a setting that he’s not very familiar with, if I’ve got strangers at the house, or if he’s around a bunch of people he doesn’t know very well.   He’s exceptionally tenderhearted – he cried at the end of the Little Mermaid because he was devastated that Ariel was going to be leaving her dad and her family, that broke his heart.  He’s the sweetest, most loving little boy and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him.

BUT – I always blamed myself for Sam’s lack of social skills.  I think, as a parent, I always blame myself for pretty much anything my kids do.  I blame myself when Jessie is sobbing with so much drama and emotion.  I blamed myself for Sam’s shyness.  I’m shy, I’m not super comfortable in social settings with strangers.  I thought it was obviously my fault, I had been too nuturing, I had nursed him too long.  It was obviously poor parenting – otherwise, Sam would be more relaxed, more confident.  I always felt a twinge of guilt – if I had been better at this, life would be easier for him. 

Then I had Julianna.  And she’s just the exact opposite.  Anyone can hold Jules, total strangers have asked if they could hold her and she’s fine being in anyone’s arms.  As long as she can see either me or Marc, and we smile, she knows she’s safe and is delighted to interact with everyone.  She loves people talking to her, smiling at her.  She’s just an extreme extrovert.  She’s much more comfortable around people.  She’s a Mommy’s girl, don’t get me wrong, but there are many nights when Marc puts her to bed by rocking her and rubbing her back – whereas Sam was only ever put to sleep by me for the first three and half years.  He wouldn’t ever fall asleep without nursing.  It doesn’t occur to Julianna that the world is anything other than delightful and fun and that she’s perfectly safe all the time.  She expects people to love her, and they do.  She charms everyone she sees, big smiles and happy to play with anyone.

And you know what?  I didn’t do anything different with Julianna that I didn’t do with Sam.  I did nothing to cause his stranger anxiety, and did nothing to foster Julianna’s absolute delight in the world around her.  They just are who they are.  My job isn’t to blame myself for their personality quirks but to love them.  And I do – so much.  I love my drama queen, my antisocial lovebug and my social butterfly.  I just wish I had realized earlier that they are who they are from the very beginning and I can’t change or influence it.  I just have to love them all the time – fortunately, that’s the easy part.

Religion

The other night, Jessie and I were watching “Four Weddings.”  Strangely addicting show, especially given that I had a backyard, very simple wedding at my mother’s house.  I totally can’t relate to spending all that money on one event, but still am oddly pleased by watching it.  So we were watching the show, and out of nowhere, she said “Mommy, should I have a Jewish or a Christian wedding?” 

I paused the show, and rather logically pointed out that as we were not Christian, she’d probably be better off having a Jewish wedding.  As we are, in fact, Jewish.  She was concerned about hurting my side of the family, apparently.  I assured her that I had already fought that battle, and that she didn’t need to worry about that – that my side of the family loved her (well, the ones that talk to us, anyway) and would be thrilled to attend her wedding, regardless of it was Jewish or not. 

I talked to her for a long time about religion and spirituality and the path that I had taken to arrive at converting.  The reasons why her dad and I wanted to raise our children in the Jewish faith and why we believed the way that we did.   The belief in one God, the concept that we are obligated to constantly be trying to make the world a better place.  The concept that the world is a wonderous, magical place, and we do honor to God by recognizing and celebrating that fact.  That we are obligated to help others, that actions count more than beliefs and that we are created in God’s image.  That God is neither male nor female but so much more than both.  That we are expected to study and learn and think and to be grateful for all that we have, to not take the blessings that we have been given for granted.

And it seems odd to me to be still discussing this – because converting to Judaism was such a long, drawn out, overly analyzed and discussed process for me.  Shouldn’t she just know she’s Jewish?  I mean, we have Shabbat dinner every Friday, well, most Fridays.  We attend services, well, we used to, anyway.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we had sort of fallen out of the habit of really, really making Judaism a daily part of our lives.

So we’re making more of an effort, Marc and I.  Because the kids are only going to grow up with a strong sense of their Jewish heritage if we give it to them.  I love Shabbat dinner on Fridays.  I love attending services, I love taking time during the day to thank God for all I’ve been given.  We’re going back to no television/no computer on Shabbat, we’re going to make sure that at least one parent, if not both of us, attend services on Saturday while the kids are in Hebrew class.  Things are only special if we make them so, and I’ve never regretting focusing more on Shabbat.  In fact, it’s always something I’m profoundly grateful for, when I make sure to really take the time to celebrate the way it’s meant to be celebrated.

Remember me?

I apologize for going so long without posting, but my beloved husband has recently discovered facebook, and thus, is monopolizing the computer poking his friends, playing odd western facebook games, and commenting on esoteric economics blogs. 

Much, much to post on…

Julianna cut her third tooth.  She cut the first two on the bottom and is getting one of her incisors on the top on.  Each tooth is a hard fought battle for her and I, involving days of screaming, endless nights of nursing and copious amounts of motrin.  For both of us.  At almost eight and a half months, she’s still not crawling.  In fact, I’ve concluded that she’s going to skip working towards that milestone and is just going to devote herself to flying.  Her new thing is to sit and flap her arms frantically whenever she gets really excited about anything.  It’s actually brilliant, when you think about it, because she’s quickly trained all of us, her siblings as well as Marc and I, that when the arms start going, we look around, figure out what she wants and deliver it to her, usually with praise and smiles because she’s so damn cute.   At this age, Sam was climbing on top of everything, and so far, Julie shows no inclination to do any of that.  To continue on in comparing my children (which I know is not a good habit for a mother of many to have), Jessica didn’t walk independently with any kind of consistency until she was close to a year and a half.  Jess was an early talker, and I’m thinking Julie will be as well.   She’s incredibly verbal already.

Sam is still my sweet little Samilicious boy.  Seriously – he’s so sweet.  If I get irritated (which has happened a lot, see first paragraph), he always comes over to me and drops a kiss on my hand.  He’s all emotion and love and tenderness.  Unless he’s interacting with Marc, in which case, he’s all violence and wrestling and fighting.  They’ve got a relationship that’s so absolutely different from mine with Sam.  He’s still adamant that he’s not attending kindergarten in the fall, and any mention of it is enough to start a torrent of tears and frantic insistence that he’s not, under any circumstances, going to be attending any kind of academic instruction at any point.  Ever.  I’m dreading September…

Speaking of school, I had a meeting today with Jessie’s teacher and the special education coordinator.  We’ve all concluded that she doesn’t have a learning disability, because the number reversals and transposing isn’t in any way affecting her ability to learn.   She tests higher than average, and it’s not affecting her reading skills or her computing skills.  She’s got the understanding of all of it, but frequently when she writes numbers down, she reverses or transposes them.  So we’re going to work on encouraging her to double check her work.  Her teacher seems to be incredibly sensitive to Jessie’s needs, well aware of her personality and quirks, and I was very impressed with the level of knowlege that the staff had, not only about Jessica’s personality and ability, but also with our whole family. 

There’s been a lot of other stuff going on – my aunt has been staying with us off and on for the past month or so (also a computer addict, so that’s another valid excuse for the lack of blogging).  My cousin had her beautiful baby girl and I couldn’t be happier for her.

Much, much to discuss

New Year’s – I have a bunch of different blog topics to write about (summary of last year, hopes for this year, holiday wrap up, thoughts on religion, family topics, etc), but it’s late and I’m cold, so this is going to be a very short post.  Simply wanted to update everyone (the three people who actually read this that I know of :-) that we’re still here.  Marc is good, Jess is reluctantly started back to school – she’s a girl who really prefers to be on vacation, Sam is growing up so fast it’s scaring me and Julianna is so freaking cute that I can’t believe it.