June 2009

I was at the grocery store today when an older African-American man stepped out from behind the seafood counter and said “excuse me, ma’am”. I was with both kids and Emma was careening around the aisles with one of those toy shopping carts, so I think I thought for a split second that we were in trouble.

Instead, pointing to my iPhone he said “How do you delete an app off of that?” I think I might have done a double take. It was so far from what expected to hear that I was caught completely off guard.

I explained how to delete an app and he said “Great, thanks, I just have a bunch of apps on there that I don’t want anymore.” “I hear ya'” I said and took off down the spices aisle after Emma.

The whole encounter made me feel warm and squishy inside.

Now, is there an app to help me choose the right fish for dinner?

Hanging out

William is three months old today.

He seems huge to us – at his two month checkup he was 23 1/2″ long and 12 pounds, and he has been wearing his 3-6 month clothes for at least a month already. Most of his clothes sized at strictly three months he has outgrown. He wore size NB diapers for a couple of weeks after he was born but has quickly moved through the 1’s and 2’s and now can only comfortably fit in the size 3’s. I know all of this is pretty typical, but Emma was such a peanut, so this is a whole new experience for us.

He remains incredibly good natured and happy. He cries when he is hungry or in pain, but otherwise sits calmly in his car seat watching us all. In the last month he started smiling up a storm and now has full on cooing conversations with us. I swear he is going to laugh out loud any day now.

He seems to us to be super-strong. He hasn’t rolled over yet, but can bear all of his weight on his legs, and enjoys it – making me think we might have another early walker on our hands. He has had amazing neck control for a couple of months and as a result has already spent some time in the Bumbo seat as well as his johnny jump up.

He usually goes to sleep at around 9:00 or 10:00 at night and is up once during the night at about 3:00 or 4:00, then wakes up for the day when we do. We are still co-sleeping with him and plan on transitioning him to his crib one of these days, but he is so darn snuggly that I find I actually enjoy having him sleep with us. He is a good sleeper though and doesn’t fight going to bed or going back to sleep at all.

The snuggly-ness is one of the best things about our Will. Also, the fact that he seems to adore us as much as we adore him. There is nothing like the toothless grin and loving gurgles of an infant to make a person feel appreciated.

We love you Will!

I have had my bad parenting moments. There was the time I didn’t feed Emma enough and then couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t sleep. Also, that time I locked her in the car, ugh. I have run a couple of red lights by mistake and have probably yelled more than I should. But now I have hit an all time low in bad parenting moments. It would seem that Emma’s recent difficult behavior might have been a result of sleep deprivation…

Isn’t sleep deprivation counted as a form of torture? In our house it certainly has been, for everyone involved.

On Sunday, March 8, 2009, we experienced a little thing called Daylight Savings Time, you might have heard of it? This made Emma’s room lighter in the mornings than it had been in months. It took about a week for her bedtime to adjust back to normal, but she was still sleeping in till her regular time of around 7:00 am. Eleven days later her baby brother was born. Not long after, Emma started waking progressively earlier – first 6:30, then 6, then 5:30. She kept waking up at 5:30 for weeks. We couldn’t figure out what was going on, or how to get her back to that now glorious wake-up time of 7:00, but with the baby waking up in the middle of the night, it didn’t seem like a priority since no one was getting much sleep anyway.

Simultaneous with the 5:30 am wakings, Emma’s behavior took a turn for the nightmarish. Of course, this was also somewhat simultaneous with her awareness that her brother wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we figured she was reacting to that new reality, in addition to just being two. She was weepy and whiny, she had temper tantrums that would reduce her to hitting and kicking, and she couldn’t seem to handle any minor stress. In particular she would wake up in the morning and after naps in a really really bad mood. This was not the Emma we knew and loved, and when I wasn’t blaming myself for “breaking her” by bringing her brother into her life, I was praying to the universe to bring my little girl back.

Last week, as Will started to sleep for longer stretches, the 5:30 am thing got really old for me. I decided that maybe darkening her windows would help her sleep longer. Then I started counting up the hours of sleep she was getting each day – around 9 hours at night and 2 hours for her nap if we were lucky – and realized she was only getting 11 hours a day instead of the 12-14 hours recommended for kids her age. Um, duh? Losing 1-2 hours a day over a long period of time would leave me pretty cranky too.

So we covered her windows and the first morning I woke up at 5:30 and held my breath. At 6:15 she arrived in our room asking sweetly for something to drink and to “watch a yiddle Thomas”. SUCCESS!! Yesterday she woke up at 6:38 and this morning it was 6:52. Woohoo!! Of course I still wake up at 5:30 every morning listening for her, grr.

Of course she is still 2, which means it is her job to push my buttons and test the limits, which she is still doing, but she seems to be enjoying the testing more in the last couple of days. She hasn’t been cranky after waking up and she is markedly less whiny and weepy, which in turn makes me less whiny and weepy. It would seem her biggest problem has been her parents and their inability to make sure her basic needs are met. Good times.

If she remembers any of it, this episode in her life will make great fodder for the therapist in twenty years. “And my parents made me sleep in a BRIGHT room, and then got MAD at me when I was a pain in the butt.” If it’s any consolation honey, it’s been torture for us too.

Someone told me the other day that I have cured them of wanting kids. Ack. How terrible. I didn’t think I complained that much, but apparently I do.

So, to provide a little balance to my last post, let me say right here and right now that having kids is the best thing I have ever done. The most challenging, the most physically painful, possibly the craziest thing sure – but still, the best.

The thing is that for me the hard stuff about being a parent is tangible: the sleep deprivation, the frustration with repeating myself over and over and over, the chaos, the temper tantrums, the wondering how badly I’m screwing them up. That tangibility makes it easier to talk about the hard stuff than the good stuff.

The good stuff about being a parent happens deep inside in a place that I didn’t know was there until I had kids – maybe it didn’t even exist until then (thanks Anne Lamott). The good stuff happens in the tiny little quiet everyday moments that are tougher to describe without sounding like a Hallmark card. While I have begun to know what to expect with the hard stuff, the good stuff keeps surprising me, making me fall in love with my kids over and over again and making the hard stuff worth every second.

I don’t mean this to sound like I think everyone should have kids. It doesn’t “complete” you as a person to have kids. It doesn’t make you a better person or a more fulfilled person, but it does make you a different person. It makes you change and grow in ways that I’m not sure anything else does in quite the same way.

So please don’t be cured just yet – and certainly not just because a cranky new mother complained too much…

I used to think that math was hard. I used to think getting up every day and going to work was hard. I used to think that staying motivated to exercise and diet was hard.

I was right about all of these things – they are hard. But now I know, kids are really really hard. Especially when there are two of them. And especially when one of them is two and a half.

The terrible twos that started for Emma about a month before Will was born are now in full swing. I am not sure yet who this phase is harder on – her or us – but either way it totally stinks. She is moody and cranky, tearful and clingy, and absolutely cannot make a decision about anything at all even though the thing she wants more than anything is to be completely independent. Several times a day we have conversations similar to this one:

Emma: Mommy, I want music.
Mommy: (turns on the radio)
Emma: (screaming like Linda Blair in the Exorcist) NOOOOOOO, I DON’T WANT MUSIC.

Or this one:

Mommy: Emma, which shirt would you like to wear – the red one or the pink one?
Emma: I want the red one. (Starts crying) I DON’T WANT THE RED ONE.

In my head before I was a parent, I used to mock parents who would say things like “Use your words honey” or “Tell me in a big girl voice”. I still find those phrases ridiculous somehow, but they come out of my mouth in a constant stream these days.

I really hope this stage ends soon (although I actually think we might be in for another 6 months to a year of it) because seriously my ego cannot take it. I have decided there is nothing like a 2-year-old to challenge your image of yourself as the 2009 version of Donna Reed. I lose my cool a lot more than I ever imagined I would and find that my buttons are much more easily pushed by this little creature than I ever thought possible.

So I guess it isn’t so much that kids are hard – just that some stages are harder than others, and we just happen to be in one of them. And even as she increases the pain-in-the-tush factor, Emma also seems to get cuter and smarter and more fun too.

I just have to remember that next time she is lying on the floor wailing because she…um….oh, right, for NO REASON WHATSOEVER…

Breathe breathe breathe breathe….

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