Posts Tagged With: Parenting

Twelfth Month Life Lesson – Where does the time go?

I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for oh, about four months now. It’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. It’s because I had too much to say. It felt impossible to pick one topic to be my capstone for these entries. There was so much I hadn’t had time to write about. How would I ever choose?

It dawned on me the other day that I should write about the very thing that I lacked – time. I had the realization awhile back that I haven’t been bored for a single second since having Jeremiah. Before I had Jeremiah I might have caught myself without something to do. Now I never have to look for something to be done as it is always staring me in the face – taking care of Jeremiah, household tasks, errands, down time, and the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure if the day had 25 hours in it, I’d need 26.

It seems like my life moves at warp speed now. Didn’t Jeremiah just turn one anyways? Nope, he’s already fifteen months old and will soon be sixteen months old. I finally understand what people mean when they say that it seems like yesterday that their thirty year old was just born. While I might be counting months now, soon it will be years.

Over the past year or so, I have learned that there is never enough time to do everything. Sometimes my house will be dirty. Sometimes we’ll have takeout for dinner. Sometimes a birthday present will be late. Sometimes my garden will have weeds. Sometimes I will need to turn down invitations to do things. And sometimes for seasons in my life, this list of exceptions will become the norm and I’m okay with that.


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Eleventh Month Life Lesson – “I love my son, but…”

Whenever it comes up that I’m a stay at home, people always ask if I like it. Depending on the day or even the exact minute, I could answer that question in a number of ways. In general, I give my standard, succinct answer that I like it with a smile on my face.

Let’s be honest, when people ask me that, do they really want to hear my answer if it’s negative? I often feel pressured to act like staying at home is all sunshine and roses. It’s as if I’m not allowed to complain or to have a bad day because I choose to stay home. Men have referred to me as a babysitter. Working moms either think I’m a loon or are “happy” for me, but actually resent me. Sometimes I feel like the only people who understand me are other stay at home moms. And even then, some of them can’t let down their guard long enough to admit that sometimes, just sometimes, they want a sick day sans baby.

Have you ever noticed how anytime stay at home moms are going to complain they start the sentence with “I love my son/daughter, but…”? I had never noticed this until I joined the club and caught myself doing it. As a stay at home mom, it’s easy to grow frustrated, but rarely do others understand its complexity. It’s the very same things that drive me crazy about Jeremiah that make him unique as an individual and actually make me smile.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to vent, so here goes nothing.

I love my son, but he is into everything.
I love my son, but I hate how he climbs into the freezer when I open it.
I love my son, but he’s got to learn that the oven drawer is not for climbing.
I love my son, but jumping from the grocery cart seat to the basket is not safe.
I love my son, but he totally disregards the word no.
I love my son, but I hope he’ll stop eating the mail soon.
I love my son, but I look forward to the day when he stops throwing his food on the ground.
I love my son, but he can’t even wait two minutes for me to fix his breakfast.
I love my son, but it’d be nice if he’d sleep in later in the mornings.
I love my son, but I cannot possibly build one more block tower for him to knock over.
I love my son, but I just can’t change another poopy diaper.
I love my son, but diaper changes are like wrestle mania events.
I love my son, but it’s unfortunate that he’s not tall enough to run the vacuum cleaner.
I love my son, but he is a madman in the bathtub.
I love my son, but I can’t manage to get anything done.

Let me stop there. You get the point.

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Tenth Month Life Lesson – My snuggling days are over!

As an infant, Jeremiah liked to be held ALL the time. I know there are a lot of different opinions out there on “spoiling” babies by holding them. I tend to take a stance that it fulfills an actual need. I’m not saying that babies don’t learn how to get their way, but in the end it’s not like they are born with a ready arsenal of self-soothing skills. Since I felt like Jeremiah needed to be comforted, I complied. For the most part, I didn’t mind this too much. However, there were times when I felt trapped and I’d complain to anybody who would listen – Woe is me! I can’t go to the bathroom. I say this in mockery now, but at the time, it was a legitimate complaint.

Of course, eventually Jeremiah grew mobile and wanted nothing to do with being held. He was ready to explore the world and he couldn’t do that if he was in someone’s arms. I slowly began to realize that my days of snuggling were over. I felt so guilty for the times that I complained about his incessant need to be held. People tried to warn me – enjoy it while you can! I didn’t believe them. In the moment, it felt like it’d never end, but end it did. Now Jeremiah wasn’t the one with a need to be comforted, I was. It wasn’t until Jeremiah was ten months old that he started to give us real, unprovoked hugs. That is one of the sweetest feelings in the world. Even though I miss being able to just sit and hold my son, I wouldn’t trade anything for his genuine acts of love.

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Ninth Month Life Lesson – I forgot what it’s like to have a baby.

Around eight months old, Jeremiah started to become markedly more independent. He started crawling and could better entertain himself. He was eating finger foods with ease and drinking from a sippy cup. His likes and dislikes became increasingly clearer as he was better able to communicate his preferences. My baby became a toddler! As the month waned on, I felt more like myself pre-baby. I was finally able to cook a meal and not just throw something together. Getting household tasks done didn’t seem so daunting. For the first time, I felt in control of my time and not subject to the whimsy of an infant. Just as Jeremiah became independent, I finally felt like I was my own person again. While this may happen at various times for other moms, I’m sure you know that feeling I’m talking about.

I was on a euphoric high – cooking dinner, baking dessert, keeping my house clean, entertaining Jeremiah, basically living the life of a Stepford wife. Then it hit me, a tiny little voice in the back of my mind saying “maybe I could handle another baby right now.” Don’t get too excited. This is not an announcement that we’re trying to get pregnant. It was just a fleeting thought, a momentary lapse of reason. In our culture, having a baby is glamorized and romanticized so much that it’s even engrained in me when I just had a baby and know how hard it really is. There is no way I’m ready to start back over with a newborn. While I might have had hallucinations that I was ready, I know that I’m not. They say that people forget what it’s like to have a baby or they wouldn’t have more than one. Now I can honestly say that I know what that means.

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Sixth Month Life Lesson – Thank goodness for handicapped doors!

I still remember clear as day the first time I took Jeremiah to the mall by myself. I was SO nervous. A flurry of thoughts flooded my mind. Did I forget anything? Where could I change his diaper? What if he refused to take his bottle? My biggest challenge on that shopping trip wasn’t what I expected…

I parked as close as I could to the Sears entrance. The “one-handed” opening feature on my stroller was a total sham. After wrestling with my stroller, I transferred Jeremiah and his car seat from the car to the stroller. As I headed into the mall, I shortly realized that a close parking spot doesn’t always mean the best parking spot. I had to walk a further distance just to get to the ramp to go inside. No biggie, I needed the exercise anyways.

Now I needed to open the door. Hmm, how does one open a door and push a stroller through it without getting stuck? Aha, a handicapped accessible door button! Except the button wasn’t working. Arg, just my luck. Surely I could use my petite limbs to finagle my way through not one, but two sets of doors. As I kept ramming my stroller into the doorway, many passerby used the other door to bypass my awkwardness. Out of nowhere a middle-aged woman came and held the door open. She told me how she remembered those days all too fondly. She even went back inside to help me open the second door.

There is no telling how long it might have taken me to get inside the mall if that kind stranger hadn’t helped me. Before that day, I hadn’t realized the many seemingly insignificant challenges that I would face in my everyday life after having a child. That is only one small example and they keep cropping up everywhere. I thought they would subside as Jeremiah gets older, but instead I’m faced with new challenges that continue to alter and shape the way my mind processes things. It must be true what they say: the second one is always easier.

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Fourth Month Life Lesson – Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep my little baby.

In my last entry I wrote about Jeremy being out of town. During that time, Jeremiah had been sleeping in a cradle in our bedroom. With Jeremy back home it was time for Jeremiah to move to his crib to sleep. I was so nervous. Jeremiah had refused to sleep in his crib for naps. I just knew we were going to be up all night until he adjusted, however long that would take.

Then it happened. Jeremiah slept straight through the night for the first time at four months old! Of course Jeremiah showed me how little I know. Everything about that “transition” gloriously exceeded my expectations. After a few nights of getting uninterrupted, blissful sleep, I felt like a new woman. I was recharged and had a renewed since of confidence in my ability to tackle motherhood. After a couple of weeks, I felt spoiled as I remembered for the first time since having Jeremiah what it felt like to truly feel rested.

Then it happened. Jeremiah stopped sleeping through the night and was getting up every three hours. At first I thought it was just the side effects of a growth spurt he was going through. A week went by and his eating decreased in frequency during the day, but he was still getting up to eat at night. Then he cut his first two teeth. Surely things would turn around after that. Nope. He just kept on waking up like a little trooper, sometimes even more frequent than every three hours. It was beyond explanation as to why he had returned to his newborn nighttime sleep schedule. I thought we had moved past all of that. I thought we had established some semblance of a routine.

After three and a half weeks of being cranky and not knowing what else to do, I requested books on sleep training from my local library this past Saturday night. I have to be honest in saying that I didn’t really believe in the concept of “sleep training” for Jeremiah, so this was truly an act of desperation. Jeremiah is extremely determined and the idea that I can get him to sleep when he doesn’t want to boggles my mind. Maybe I was wrong about sleep training? I threw in my towel and decided to give it a whirl. While I waited for my books to become available, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to endure just a few more sleepless nights.

Then it happened. Last night Jeremiah slept through the night. I thought my eyes were deceiving me when the alarm clock read 5:30am. I don’t know how it happened and I don’t dare to make something up. I will not question it, but accept it as the beginning of a new routine…for now. I’ll probably still read the sleep training books. I might find some practical tidbits of wisdom in them even if I don’t agree with the whole premise of sleep training. For now I’m going to cherish every night that Jeremiah sleeps straight through. This past month I’ve learned that just like rules, routines are meant to be broken.

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Third Month Life Lesson – Newfound respect for single and/or working moms.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to write any entries. For the past nine weeks, Jeremy was out of town during the week for work. We started out on our A-game. I made way more plans than any sane mother of a two month old would have made. I wore myself out as Jeremiah got all too used to riding in the car. I managed to make several day trips and two overnight trips. I visited my former workplace, friends, family, and Jeremy once a week for dinner. In addition to staying on the go, I tried to stay on top of maintaining our household so Jeremy wouldn’t have to come home to a war zone, not that I did the best job at that. At least I was distracted!

Somewhere around the halfway point, I hit a bump in the road that I never quite recovered from. There were some days that made it seem like the nine weeks would never end. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. Jeremy is now home for good and I couldn’t be happier. Our time apart definitely made our marriage stronger, but there is a reason children are meant to be raised by both a father and a mother.

I tell all of this to get to my third month life lesson. I have so much more respect for single moms, working moms, and especially single, working moms. Taking care of a baby is serious business, especially a teething baby! I am blessed to say that I am a stay at home mom. I get to devote all of my energy to being a wife, mom, and homemaker. So even when I’ve had a rough few weeks, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have a loving, supportive husband and the ability to stay at home. To all my single and/or working mommas, my hat’s off to you. You deserve more credit than you’ll ever receive.

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Second Month Life Lesson – Now I know how much my mom loves me.

Jeremiah is already ten weeks old today! I can’t believe how much I’ve seen him grow and change in that short time. It’s been so amazing to watch his personality blossom. So far I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is outgoing, bubbly, playful, curious, and determined. These traits stood out over the past few days as we spent time with my three-month old nephew. He, on the other hand, is extremely laid back and relaxed. I think they will compliment each other well as playmates in the years to come. I am looking forward to watching their personalities grow and develop.

Just like they have blossomed over the past few months, so have I. My Mom always told me that there is no love like the love you have for a child. When I spoke to her for the first time after giving birth to Jeremiah, she said, “Now you know how much I love you.” Talk about a tear jerker! Those words hit me hard that day. Even though I felt like I finally understood what she meant, I had only just begun to skim the surface. With each passing day, I continue to peel back another layer of meaning from that statement.

Since becoming a mother, I have developed a deeper appreciation of my Mom. It makes me regret the ways that I’ve taken her for granted over the years. Not only has she kept my best interests at heart, but she has loved me at my ugliest, most hateful moments. Even if you think I’m being an over emotional new mom, take a minute to thank your mom for putting up with your nonsense. She loves you, flaws and all.

I think this message has been especially heavy on my heart this past week as we celebrated Easter. I hope that while I continue to learn what motherly love is all about that I would grow in being able to love others more fully.

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First Month Life Lesson – A nine pound baby is heavier than you think.

Having your first child is the ultimate reality check. I know it’s clichĂ©, but it really does put everything into perspective. During the first month of Jeremiah’s life, I learned so much about myself in addition to child rearing, some things more practical than others.

I also realized things that I should have done during my pregnancy. First, I should have lifted weights regularly. There is nothing like toting around a baby to make you realize how pathetic your upper body strength is. Second, I should have done more things one-handed. For example, putting away the dishes takes twice as long when you’re down to one hand. Last, I should have used my non-dominant hand for daily tasks more often. Have you ever tried to pour yourself a drink with your non-dominant hand? Go try it out. Just make sure you have a towel close by.

While these may not seem like the most astounding life lessons one can learn, they all point to some bigger themes. It’s impossible to fully prepare for a baby. You will no longer do things the way you used to do them. Your shortcomings will become obvious, but you’ll adapt and become a stronger person.

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