There was a time not that long ago when full-time meant 40 hours a week. Beyond that was free-time. [And in college, full time was fifteen hours a week!!]
But being a full-time mom isn’t a 40 hour a week job. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And while that is stating the obvious, I don’t think you get it until you are rubbing your son’s back after trying to put him down for a nap for an hour having to pee badly and, more importantly, just needing a break. But where your break at your 40 hour a week job was a stroll to Starbucks or a game on the computer, “break” now means a time to do the dishes without your kid climbing in the dishwasher or starting dinner without having a child crying to be picked up while repeating “Hot Hot.” “Break” now means peeing without having a child peeking under the door… or worse trying to put his hand in the potty while you’re on it.
Full-time is waking up at 3 am to comfort a teething child with a cold. Full time is now entertaining in the car (and you thought TEXTING was dangerous!). I used to like the grocery store. I didn’t think of it as part of a “job.” But now it is. Yesterday a mom had two boys in her cart and a baby on her back, and I knew that it was just as exhausting as it looked. Full-time is the weekends. Before kids, weekends were great for lounging around. I wasn’t worried about picking up toys and cleaning counters and filing. But now, if I don’t do it on the weekend, I will regret it during the week when naptimes just aren’t long enough to get my chores done.
When I had a full-time job before kids, I had time to scrapbook and read. Now that I have a kid, I have no idea when to find time for those tasks (granted, I am also trying to work from home part-time).
I cannot imagine being a working mom. I just don’t know how you find the time to do anything, ever. I have all day at home, and I still don’t have time to keep my house picked up, do the laundry, fix dinner, do dishes, and clean the house… oh, and take care of the kid and teach him things! [I'm not saying I wouldn't like to work either because I find incredible value in achieving outside of my home life!!]
It’s no wonder that I love coffee and yet am still exhausted most days. This mom stuff… it’s truly a full-time job.
For a long time, Kellen’s toddler room was referred to as “Bedroom 2″. I think that’s what the blueprints called it, and it was empty. Then as Kellen started to get bigger and have more toys, it became a holding facility, a pseudo-playroom (the real playroom is under the stairs!). We tried transitioning him to a big boy bed a couple of months ago after he fell out of my grandmother’s crib. It was a MAJOR failure.
A few days ago I ordered this bedding from the Land of Nod.
We picked out those colors after gramama gave Kellen these pictures for his birthday:
Yesterday we decided to organize his toys and set his room up.
He has been sleeping on a cot at daycare, so we thought maybe he would be amenable to another go in the toddler bed. And he SLEPT in his bed last night. (I didn’t sleep!) We are proud proud parents!
All my life I’ve heard about the terrible twos, the time in which a child’s will and independence trump all reason (and toys).
Kellen’s twos have come early.
He and I have been battling his independence for the last week or so. I like to remind him, “You should just give up now because mommy will always win.” It’s nice to know there is at least one place that is guaranteed
The biggest issue we have is that he doesn’t want to sit in the cart or the stroller (or anywhere really). He wants to walk. And if he could talk in full sentences, he would say as much. Or if he used the word “Mommy” he might also make this known. Instead, he screams. S-C-R-E-A-M-S. And he flings. (Honestly though, is there anything funnier than a two and a half foot tall being sprawled across the mall floor?)
Before I had Kellen and all I had were nephews and babysitting references, my mom joked with my nephew that if he came to live with me, I would tell him “NO.” She was right. I believe in structure and boundaries, and I believe in teaching them at an early age.
So today when we were out cashing in our Gymbucks before they expired (by the way, they expire TOMORROW) and cashing in our $20 at Williams-Sonoma (where I bought this way cool Popsicle maker that I will definitely be blogging about), Kellen decided to test my boundaries (all this after yesterday for which my facebook status was “Consider all my buttons pushed”). First he wouldn’t sit in front of the darn TV at Gymboree. He tried to make a run for it several times, but at least this time he didn’t run for the back room, which he has done before. I did my classic cow-herding technique that I learned at my grandparent’s ranch (and I have to admit, it’s way less scary when a twenty five pound head of curls comes half-running at you than when a two ton cow, give or take a hundred pounds, burrows its head and starts running your way!). As opposed to the cow scenario, I actually held my ground, and I’m sure my sound was about the same, at least to Kellen. MOOOOVE.
We made it out of Gymboree, and we were about to go home when I remembered I wanted to check out the sales of one of the businesses in the mall that’s closing. I wish I had just left!
We went into Dilliards to find the elevator, and instead we found a bathroom. Dan said that was a good thing and started walking to the bathroom. Kellen wanted to get out of the car cart, so I asked Dan to take him to the bathroom with him. All was fine until Kellen decided that he needed to walk back to the bathroom. Dan stood in front of him, and he started to throw a fit. Dan started to pick him up, but I asked him to put him down. I feel like it’s important for Kellen to learn to make those choices even at this age rather than being dragged out of the situation.
Kellen was screaming and got madder every time he had to walk toward me instead of back to the urinal. Big scary mom or big water hole? Which would you choose? FINALLY he got back to the cart, and I put him in. He was still very mad about this situation. We found the elevator and got in. Kellen LOVES elevators. Loves them. (This is the same kid whose 15 month pediatrician appointment was ruined because he couldn’t play in the elevator.) Because he wasn’t settled down though, I wasn’t going to let him get out of the cart to stand in the elevator, which is what he wanted to do.
We went to the store and left after deciding there wasn’t anything I needed there. I got Kellen calmed down. And then we made it back to the elevator (and lost Dan in the process). I let Kellen stand this time, and he was SO happy. We had to ride it back up to find Dan and then back down again. I thought we would be able to leave without a big scene, but I forgot I am dealing with a being who gets upset when I don’t let him play with knives or touch the oven.
So there I sat, stuck in Dilliards with a child who believed that screaming and flinging would lead to another elevator ride. And I stood there, telling him “good-bye” and giving him the space to make a decision all while older ladies browsed the shoe section chuckling. And eventually he came. Limits, boundaries, choices, praise. That’s my parenting philosophy… as long as it’s working.
I don’t know if you ever saw the spoof of the Five People You Meet in Heaven, but it was hilarious and included the guy who created the plastic security tape on CDs and DVDs (a choice I happen to highly agree with!). Sadly, I cannot find the email anywhere, so I can’t recount the other four.
On today’s [unorthodox] Friday Five, I am adding my own.
6. The person who decided that one phone book wasn’t enough. Seriously… The Yellow Pages was enough. One phone book a year. I could find all the numbers I needed. We recycled the previous year’s book when we got the new one. The system worked. And then… the Impact Directory, Dex, and some other company I can’t even figure out. Now when I need a phone number, I have a significant choice, way bigger than whether to look for a massage therapist under M for massage or S for spa or B for Beauty. Now I’m worried about which book to use (and whether massage is under the same letter in each book!). I dread coming home to find yet another phone book on my driveway. One was enough. Enough.
(And this is after I threw out the three from last year!)
I’ve always thought I could save the world. As a child I was the first in line to tell the other kids how to behave. I was the kid that teacher’s write down on their sub plans to ask if there are any questions about the rules. In high school, I took on “projects” [codename for boyfriends] and helped them organize their binders and finish their schoolwork so that they could turn their Fs into Cs. And by helped, I mean did. As a college student, I was an international affairs major focusing on international aid because how better to help the world than giving people fresh water and mosquito nets. Really, I just wanted to tell the government how to make the world a better place, so I switched my major to Political Science.
When I graduated, I floated around, eventually finding my way to tutoring kids with ADHD and teaching special education. I worked with kids whose definition of a good day was managing not to throw a pencil, scissors, or chair at me. I helped turn a kid’s grade around from Ds and Fs to Bs. I was proud… of myself. I could change the world, one kid at a time. When I tutored, the hardest part of my job was not taking the pencil and filling in the blanks myself. I mean how could you not know what a compound sentence was and label it correctly? And Algebra, definitely easier to show them how to do the problem by doing it for them. [I'm exaggerating a little... I actually have helped quite a few kids.]
When Dan started college a few years ago, I “helped” him, which usually meant that we did the homework together, with Dan being the one who didn’t learn enough to be able to pass his tests. But I now know way more Accounting and Physics than I ever planned to know. I scheduled Dan’s classes and made spreadsheets of his classes so he could get through school.
I thought I was helping.
One of my goals (for this year and forward) is to stop “helping” so much. I have learned that I am not really doing anyone any good by meddling, and I might actually be doing harm. At the very least, I am causing way more stress in my life because I literally bare the weight of the world on my shoulders. If someone fails at something, I become partially responsible and have to carry their disappointment along with my own. It’s heavy, the world. I’m trying something new.
I haven’t made a spreadsheet for Dan’s classes. I have it written down in my planner in case I need to know, but I don’t have it memorized. I haven’t scheduled his follow-up doctor appointment from his surgery (though it may be a little irritating to me that HE hasn’t either!). When Dan mentions that he needs to remember something, instead of writing it down for him or making him a list, I casually say that maybe he should put it in his blackberry. I didn’t buy him school supplies. I didn’t look up his books. I’m not helping him with his homework.
Amazingly, this not helping is helping him way more than my helping ever did.
I am applying this to other family members as well. I do worry that it will suddenly look like I don’t care. I do. But I am learning that caring also means caring about me. And the world feels a little lighter these days.
I am coming out of my lethargy cloud, which means I can do more than an hour’s worth of tasks in a day.
Today I felt like an actual stay-at-home mom (as opposed to one who has had the incredible help of her husband everyday all day for five months). I cleaned my bathroom and did a load of laundry this morning. I made breakfast for Kellen and myself and got the kitchen ready for the cleaning lady (yes, VERY lucky). Kellen and I dropped off dry cleaning (which has been rotating between my car and mud room for at least three months), returned some licorice supplements that were HORRIBLE to the health food store, went to Target to look for a potty (but didn’t find the one I wanted) and bought some hangers, went to Babies R Us to buy the potty (it cheers) and a booster seat to replace the high chair, went to Fred Meyer to get vegetables, deposited two checks in the bank, and went to Home Depot to get paint. When I got home, we had lunch, and Kellen went down for a nap (one of the first unsuccessful naps he’s EVER taken). Dan came home from school, and we cleaned the mud room. I put away the pile of clothes that’s been on my floor for a few days while Dan napped and Kellen helped. I changed out laundry twice. Dan got up. I put dinner in the oven. We watched Up for a little while (GREAT movie). Then Dan and I moved the two large chairs that have been in our bedroom to the living room downstairs and moved the couch recliner up to our bedroom. We ate dinner, watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I had an online chat for a writing course I’m taking. We made the bed with clean sheets. And now it’s bedtime (and antibiotics).
When I was in Kindergarten, I was pulled out for services and read books like “Stregga Nona” and wrote to authors (and got letters in return!). In second grade, the district I lived in sent the gifted kids to a special school once a week. We did logic problems and built castles and learned Spanish and did plays. When I was in middle school, I did extra projects as a part of the after-school gifted program because I enjoyed it. In high school I was in an accelerated program. I dropped out because I decided it was easier being “normal” and was more interested in boys. By college I had regained my academic confidences and went through with only one C. It wasn’t anything my mom did. She is not a helicopter parent and is probably the opposite of an “over-parenter.” She hated the “G” word, in fact.
I believe that Kellen will likely also be gifted. No, I haven’t had my 15 months old tested. And no I don’t plan on it anytime soon. But I know a lot about intelligence, and he demonstrates problem solving and patterning skills that are advanced for his age.
But I’m not allowed to talk about those things.
In our society, the “G” word is taboo. We can’t talk about our kids being smart, meeting milestones early. Instead of recognizing that some kids are in fact smarter than others (and that this is, in fact, a good thing in society), we say that all kids are gifted in their own way. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that all kids have gifts. But there isn’t anything wrong with being average, just like there is nothing wrong with being gifted, and there is nothing wrong with having a disability. They are just different places on the spectrum. If my child was delayed, it would be understandable for me to talk about my concerns. But a gifted kid, no way!
It’s very difficult for me not to be able to talk about my kid. I worry that I am making another mom feel bad (I have) because her child hasn’t yet crawled or walked or talked (intelligibly). We get the developmental checklist at the pediatrician at 15 months, and he has mastered the skills for the 18 month screen, in the same way that he had mastered his 12 month skills by 9 months. But we don’t say anything to the pediatrician because I don’t want to be one of those parents (who “thinks her kid is smarter than he really is”).
I can’t talk about how I want Kellen to be in the older toddler class at daycare even though he is three months shy of that class. Nor can I talk about wanting him to move up at the Little Gym. Developmentally, he belongs with the older kids. If you were to meet him and not know his age, you might think that he was closer to 20 months instead of 15. “But there’s nothing wrong with him being with his age-appropriate peers,” you might say. “He’ll be a leader.” I can tell you from experience that there is something wrong with it. Because when you are at the head of the class (gifted, even) you are expected to always help the kids who are a little slower than you. You finish your work quickly and are then bored. I know. I was bored pretty much all of elementary school other than my one day a week at ODC (and can now recount way more memories of my time there than during “regular” school).
I can’t talk about being worried. I don’t know where Kellen is going to go to school. If we stay in Idaho, our options are limited. “Gifted” here means accelerated math without taking into account any of the problem-solving and creativity that defines “giftedness.” Kellen won’t go there. Private schools here have their own challenges. All but one or two are religious. And the one that isn’t is still growing (and is REALLY expensive!). There are a couple of charter schools that I think are fantastic. And there are a couple of Montessori schools that I am considering. Regardless, I think Kellen will start at a Montessori preschool because he won’t be constrained by his age.
I think ultimately it comes down to insecurities. If you talk about your kid being smart, you are seen as bragging and somehow putting down another parent’s child. In reality, that isn’t usually the case. We’re just talking, expressing concerns, trying to navigate through this parenting thing as best we can with the children we have. Gifted or not.
I have been hesitant to talk a lot about my Lyme disease. It is a poorly understood disease and easily dismissed as not a big deal. I wish it weren’t.
I had been having weird symptoms for a while and was having a difficult time figuring out what was going on. I have PTSD from the fire and have had physical manifestations of stress in addition to other issues. It’s been hard to separate the two. Anyhow, in October, we finally learned why I had been sick and why I felt like I needed to nap all day. I have disseminated Lyme Disease. It’s in my brain and has invaded my nerves. It’s special. Most days I’m really dizzy. Many days I’m really tired. My chest hurts. My joints hurt. My hands fall asleep a lot. I drop things.
I am now on a course of antibiotics that is insane. It’s taken a few months to get onto the right meds (and took a failed pregnancy off of them to start the process over again). I’ve had hives and experienced a new level of vertigo with one of the meds. But I think we’ve finally found the right combination. In all, I take over 25 pills a day (10+ in the AM, 5 at lunch, and 10+ at night). I just found out today that I need to add in some more supplements to try to deal with the worsening symptoms that often happens with this bacteria once antibiotics are introduced.
It’s made parenting a challenge. I feel like a bad mom most days and a horrible mom the others. My kid wants to play with me, but I lie on the floor. I can’t do a lot with him because doing it makes me dizzy. I need a nap when he naps, and I’m usually not ready to get up once he’s well-rested.
Dan is going back to school next Tuesday, and I’m scared. I won’t have the help that I really need. We have enrolled Kellen in daycare 2 days a week. I was hoping to use that time to be able to work as I have a book proposal that needs to get written. Instead I am now hoping to rest and recover. I’m supposed to gradually get better, hopefully back to healthy within a year. In the meantime… one day at a time.
I was just informed that it is Delurker Day! If you’re a lurker, or even if you’re not, come out and say hi. I probably don’t have that many lurkers or readers since I haven’t been posting much in the last couple of months. But if you are here, let us know
Dan is on poopy diaper duty for the indefinite future. I have my reasons, but I don’t need to share that here. But just know that he is.
Kellen’s been having diarrhea. I think maybe it’s from the antibiotics he is on from the ear infection. Or from his molars. It’s a good time to not have diaper duty.
Today we went to lunch after our appointment, and I could tell that Kellen needed a diaper change. I was worried though. Where would Dan change Kellen’s diaper in the men’s bathroom? I would do it, really I would. But Dan took him, so I figured he would make it work (just hopefully not on the bathroom floor!).
And wouldn’t you know… they have diaper changing stations in the men’s bathroom. Yey for living in a time where it’s acceptable for men to change diapers!!