On our mommy message board, we were talking about things that you never thought you’d say. We have several, but the one that immediately came to mind was, “There’s poop on your balls. You can’t touch them yet.”
See, Kellen has recently discovered his penis, and playing with it at diaper changes seems to be way more fun than looking at Where’s Baby’s Belly Button or staring at a plastic truck that doesn’t roll through the air.
When we found out we were having a boy, this whole penis thing is what stressed me out the most. Boys like to play with their stuff. Moms with girls never seem to need to tell their kids not to rub their nipples in public.
Which is why I found this post so freaking hilarious: Breaking Penis Rule #2. I think I’m posting the rules in my house.
I was born in the 80s, well after the feminist revolution, behind the progressive work of the bra burners. I was raised in an era where Barbie could be president, where my female peers were just as likely to become lawyers and doctors as teachers. I subscribe to Pink magazine, for women business leaders, and am a member of a progressive organization, Woodhull, named after a pioneering woman who broke the stereotypes of her day. I grew up in a world where a stay at home mom’s contribution has been calculated ($134,121 annually according to salary.com). While a woman may still earn less than a man, I have grown up in a world where women were considered equal. And if women were equal to men, men were then equal to women, right?!
I believed that co-parenting, with equal division of the parenting tasks, was possible. And, granted, there are men who happily embrace the stay-at-home dad position and who have dinner waiting on a pristine table when their executive wives come home from a long day in the boardroom. But for the most part, I think that co-parenting is a myth.
I am lucky. Dan does a lot to help me. Because Kellen is bottle fed, I was occasionally granted reprieve in the middle of the night to sleep. I was even allowed to sleep in the guest room a couple of times and allowed to wake up whenever I decided to.
The reality is though, that I am still the mom. I am biologically programmed to wake up when Kellen cries. Even when I slept in the guest room on the other side of the house, I still woke up when he did and listened to make sure that Dan was comforting and feeding him.
Dan changes a lot of diapers. But he doesn’t often check on his own accord and then change him. If Kellen stinks, Dan might check and then make a grand pronouncement on Kellen’s ability to produce something so foul in such a little body. At which point I might suggest (in the most loving tone) that he change him. I don’t recall any instance in which Dan has ever asked me to change my son though the reverse is a daily occurrence.
When Kellen hits his head or falls or otherwise needs comfort and Dan is watching him, I often get interrupted to be told that “he needs some momma love.” While I love that Kellen is comforted by me, I find it challenging to accomplish much while holding my son (like going to the bathroom). I don’t remember once handing off my child to Dan because he wouldn’t stop crying and saying, “he needs funny daddy.”
One of the most frustrating things is that I feel like I have to tell Dan how to parent. I hate sounding like a nag, and I know how people feel about Kate Gosselin. But give the woman some slack. I know what it’s like to constantly have to tell your husband how to do things because he hasn’t invested any time in learning what else he should do. If Dan had it his way, Kellen would eat chocolate cupcakes all day and there would be a contest to see whose diaper could touch the ground first (Dan’s or Kellen’s). When it came to sleep training, I had to present the information to Dan and basically tell him what WE were going to do. When I leave for the morning, I have to leave a schedule of when naps and meals are. And what do most other women ask when you are out alone and the dad is at home? “Is the daddy babysitting?” As one of my friends says, “No, he’s parenting.” But co-parenting? I just don’t know.
1) I will never be able to go to the bathroom alone again. I remember lying down when I was five, cheek to the floor, looking at the light under the bathroom door, and shouting, “Moooommmmm.” My mom also, sadly, remembers this. As a child I thought it was silly that this bothered her, but I know my days are coming. As it is, Kellen (recent nickname Stinky Minky) follows me into the bathroom and screams until I pick him up and put him on my lap.
2) “Me” time is often limited to two showers a week. And even that isn’t always the case as Kellen loves to crawl into the shower fully clothed. There are weeks where my “me” time is really, really limited. Kellen LOVES his mommy, and while I love that, I definitely miss the opportunity to do a few things I would like without Kellen banging on my keyboard or screaming at my feet or pulling on my pants.
3) My living room looks like a Toys R Us delivery van got re-routed. Even with the toy organization, which has gone pretty well, our house is overrun with toys, especially ones that make lights and music. I think our cleaning time has doubled (from none a few minutes to a lot).
4) Sleeping in is a thing of the past. I think I can count the number of times we’ve slept in past 7 am on my little toes. I have seen the hours of 2 and 3 am way more times than I ever did in college. Even though I wasn’t much of a partier, I did stay up a lot (watching Miss Muffy in the library at Sweet Briar). I figure we won’t be sleeping in again until Kellen learns how to operate the remote to watch Saturday morning cartoons.
5) I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the responsibility of another’s life. I am amazed at how much responsibility I feel for my son. We ate well before he was born, but I feel even guiltier now if we eat poorly. I have realized how much he absorbs, and it makes me feel bad that he thinks sitting in bed for hours is normal (I don’t do this a lot, but when my health issues flare up, I do!). We are starting our will, and the idea of who will care for him if something were to happen to us is so stressful. Though I trust our decision, I also feel responsible for ensuring he grows up to be the best person he can be. My counselor and I have been working on accepting that everyday I have taught him all I could and I have to trust that I have given him the knowledge he needs up to today. It’s still a lot of responsibility.
I’m a behavioralist by training. I believe that behaviors have a purpose and that they can be increased or decreased based on certain other behaviors or external stimuli.
This is why I am not opposed to crying it out at night. Kellen wants me to pick him up, so he cries. If I pick him up, I have just reinforced his behavior. If he gets his leg stuck in the crib slats and screams on the other hand, he is crying for help, and I will help him!
He is at an age now where he can understand some of the consequences of his behaviors (cause and effect). We are working on the word “no” so that he corresponds that word with stopping the behavior. We’ve been telling him “no” when he gets close to the stairs so that he won’t climb them on his own. I tell him no and then remove him from the situation.
Instead of discipline, however, Kellen thinks this is HILARIOUS! I say no and pick him up, and he cracks up. He thinks it is so funny that he has started turning his head to see if I am coming after him. I’m hoping this phase passes quickly.
The second month of trying we found out we were expecting, and I was elated. After a ruptured appendix years earlier that had settled into my pelvis, I wasn’t sure what lasting effects to expect on my fertility. When I saw those two little lines, I was relieved in the knowing that I could have a baby. All of my childhood dreams, the ones that walked down the aisle with me, were coming true. The cabbage patch dolls of my past would pale in comparison to my own baby whose cries would be real and comforted by me rather than because the pink plastic walkie talkie ran out of batteries. My baby’s hair would grow as would he. I would be a mommy.
That pregnancy lasted just long enough for me to conjure up those childhood memories in anticipation of my own child.
Nearly a year passed without another positive pregnancy test. And god knows I took enough of them. Dan joked that I should have invested in First Response because we spent several hundred dollars in their tests. I had an HSG (where they insert dye into your tubes- fun stuff) to see if the appendix rupture had in fact done damage (it hadn’t). I had my blood drawn while on our first anniversary trip to Lake Tahoe. I had to find a hospital because no where else would draw blood on a Saturday. I took a drug that caused more than one egg to be released and gave myself a shot to ensure that I ovulated before I birthed a litter. It didn’t work either. I had all but given up hope on being able to get pregnant on our own (because if that didn’t work how could it work the natural way?!).
But we did get pregnant on our own, almost by accident. And now that I have Kellen, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Had our first pregnancy gone to term, this isn’t the child I would have had. Had we gotten pregnant any other month, our son would be different. But Kellen is my son and always has been. It doesn’t seem possible that there was ever a world without him.
We arrived at my mom’s on Thursday afternoon. It was a long six hour drive, though he held up fairly well. We were getting dinner ready that evening and talking about how he still was only taking a couple of steps at a time. He stood up and took a step. Then another. And another. And he kept going. He walked halfway across the kitchen. We took him outside onto the deck, and the same thing happened.
I was nervous about making too big a deal out of it though. Kellen has a tendency to do something one day and then revert back for weeks to his old skill. But yesterday he was just as eager to walk. Last night we were at dinner, and after he devoured his mac and cheese, he got down and walked for the other diners. He walked around for a bit, and they all cheered for him. One diner commented on how balanced he was. This is my theory as to why it took so long to actually walk. Most toddlers walk head and chest first with their legs trying desperately to catch up. Not Kellen. He takes a step and balance checks. He also catches himself if he starts to fall, either with his arms or by bending his legs slightly. I won’t be surprised if he hasn’t mastered walking within the month and be running around by a year. It’s a good thing I cleaned my house before we left!!
This week’s Friday Five: 5 things that surprised me the most about being a mom.
1. The sheer love I have for my son. I know how cliche that sounds. And I didn’t understand it before I had Kellen. But I love him more than I have ever loved anything. I didn’t know it was possible, actually, to love something this much. It’s made me reflect on my own parents in a different way and wonder if that love continues on through their whole lives.
2. The sheer exhaustion. I never knew I could be so tired. It doesn’t help that I’ve battled depression this year (from the PTSD not PPD- though I’m not sure it matters). I feel drained, fatigued, exhausted all day long. When I think back on my day and try to figure out what exactly I did, I’m not really sure (though I know I didn’t spend 12 hours on Farm Town… really!!).
3. How cool it is to see yourself reflected in another human being. Kellen looks a lot like me (and my mom’s dad). It is so bizarre to think that I actually grew a baby. My body MADE that body.
4. How unnerving it is to see yourself reflected in another human being. As cool as it is to recognize yourself in another, it’s also slightly unnerving, especially when your flaws are staring back at you (not that I would ever say that my child is flawed). Kellen is not a risk-taker, and I know how limiting that can make life. He also is darn stubborn. It’s a family trait, and not a becoming one.
5. That the idea that I still have a child seems foreign. I have always envisioned my life as a mother. I had cabbage patch dolls and invisible classrooms of kids and always, always knew I would be a mom. It didn’t seem so weird when he was a tiny baby, but now that he is bigger, now that he is nearly half my height, the fact that I have a son seems strange, foreign. I’m still so young. Some days it feels like I just graduated high school (despite the fact that my 10 year reunion is in less than a year!). And yet I have a person, a son, who exhausts me and yet brings me more joy than I could have ever imagined.
Next week’s Friday Five: 5 things that I don’t like about being a parent
I don’t weed often enough. Our garden is overrun with weeds, but unless I’m on the phone I don’t weed.
I don’t like drivers who don’t use blinkers. It’s an epidemic here in this state, and it is infuriating.
I don’t like teething… as in Hate teething. Kellen is getting all four 1 year molars at the moment. OH MY GOD.
I don’t trust doctors, usually.
I don’t think we are going back to using cloth diapers. Kellen has figured out how to take them off. We used to let him run around in just the diaper, but that doesn’t work now because it just means he is naked. And the cloth diapers make him so bulky his pants don’t fit. He has short legs so needs to wear 9ish month pants, but he is a thick kid so extra bulk just doesn’t work. It’s not so good when you lie your baby down and have them suck in so their extra cute Gap jeans fit (not that I’ve ever done that).