Tag Archives: Parenting

On the eve of maternity leave’s end

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There is deep sadness. Sadness over having to leave my babies with someone else to go to work. Sadness at the thought of not seeing their sweet faces all day long.

There is fear. Fear of failure at my job as a teacher. Fear of missing out on priceless moments of my children’s early years while trying to educate teenagers who could NOT care less.

There is anxiety. Anxiety over whether my littlest will take bottles at daycare. Anxiety over how the sitter will cope with his constant crying that is only soothed by walking him around. Anxiety because of the distinct  possibility of him crying ALL night long during our first week with both of us back at school (teething is no fun, people).

I wonder, have I adequately cherished these months of mothering? Was I wrong on the days I wanted nothing more than to get away from my kids for a few hours? Did those moments mean I’m undeserving of these sweet little kiddos?

Now that my time as a SAHM is ending, I find myself trying to hold my children even tighter and keep them up later, letting them read the dino book “one more time” (translation: three more times minimum).  I don’t want to let them go. When we finally put the baby to bed after seemingly endless rocking and nursing, I find myself still wanting to hold on longer, admiring the curves of his sweet chubby face, peaceful in sleep.

I am grateful. Grateful for nearly six full months immersed in mothering my two-year-old and his new baby brother. Grateful for the countless afternoon naps with a baby in my arms. Grateful for the wakeful nights when sleep eluded us. Grateful for the deepened bond I’ve gained with my firstborn son. Grateful for the way his relationship with his brother is blossoming. Grateful for the trips to the playground, the visits with family, the lazy afternoons splashing in the kiddie pool. Grateful for my husband having the summer off as well, so we could all be together.

Yes, I am grateful, but I will shed more than a few tears tonight, tomorrow, and in the days to come. How could anyone not, when saying goodbye to these precious little guys?

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-one of my little dudes

I love, love, love being a mom. Wouldn’t trade it for anything else in this world.

But man, sometimes parenting feels just plain relentless.

It never ends. From morning till night (and throughout the night, getting up with the baby), minute by minute, it never feels like there’s any true break. Sure, there is the occasional kids’ nap, when I theoretically can get things done, but really that doesn’t happen. The younger one doesn’t nap nearly as long as the older, nor at the same time.

There’s always somebody around. Touching you, asking for food, asking you to play cars or race or animals, asking to play with the I-pad, following you around all over the place.

There’s always somebody needing you. There is no escape. And you love them to pieces, so of course you can’t say no when they look at you with those big doe-eyes and beg you to spin them around again, again, again!

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“Will you fly with me?”

And if you have pets, forget about it. Your lap is never free. Man, our three cats are needy. Begging for attention. The instant the children are laid down or occupied somewhere else, the cats are all over you. Their purr and snuggles used to provide comfort and stress relief. Now they’re just three additional energy-suckers. Even at bedtime, when the boys sleep reasonably well, the kitties take over noise duty–meowing, fighting, growling, puking, grooming.

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~one child with one of the frustrating cats

I miss sleeping in my bed, all night long. I miss getting in the car to run to Target and not having it be a big deal. I miss leaving the house without sixteen different snack and toy options. I miss spontaneous hangouts with my friends. I miss eating slowly, with utensils, with both arms free. I miss the luxury of focusing on one task for as long as it takes to complete it, rather than in fifteen- or five- or one-minute increments. I miss being able to do ANYTHING, no matter how simple, without thinking of what to do with the kids.

I don’t need a week in Paris. (Although I would not turn it down!) I just need a day to recuperate from life as a parent. One day when I can just be me, without worrying about my kids nonstop.

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~sweet baby smile!

I know, I’m lucky. I have awesome kids and an awesome husband to partner with. But I just sometimes could use a break from it all. Parenting is really hard. I signed up for it, and I don’t regret it one bit. But yeah, sometimes a pause button for life would be dreamy.

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~a peaceful moment

Leap Frog Lyrics…or Musical Torture

When it’s quiet around here, it’s never really silent.  My son’s favorite television shows are replete with songs, and since I’ve heard them all approximately 7,497 times, I’ve got them memorized and burned into my brain.

Naturally, being the model mom that I am, I am well aware that screens are bad.  Children under two years of age should not have any screen time at all.  I totally agree with that recommendation–in theory. I hate what technology is doing to our ability to interact with each other.  I hate looking around everywhere I go and seeing people’s faces buried in their smartphones and tablets, ignoring one another.  I hate that it seems more of my conversations are centered around things I read on social media or see on a TV and movies than on actual, real-life experiences.

All this being said, I am human and I do own a TV, I-Pad, and laptop, and yes, my 22-month-old son knows how to use all of them.  He can do things with them that leave my husband and I befuddled, wondering how on earth to change the settings back to what they were.  Let’s just admit that it can be really hard to keep kids from screens.  It doesn’t help that we adults are so attached to our devices.  Heck, I’m typing this very sentence as my toddler watches George the monkey teach his friend Bill how to dance .  Might as well multi-task a little, right?

Now that I’m on maternity leave, I get to be a stay-at-home mom for several months, which is awesome.  I love having so much time off to bond with my new baby as well as my older child.   However, it’s really hard to leave the television off ALL day.  Especially when it’s the end of March and snowing.  Of course I would prefer my toddler to spend all his time playing interactively, reading books, learning new skills.  But he does watch TV.  He sometimes gets a couple of hours straight, in fact.  My justification for that is that I have a newborn to care for as well, so I obviously can’t devote every single minute to my older son.  Plus, many of the more “educational” activities, he simply can’t do on his own.  So there are times when I let Curious George and Mickey Mouse entertain my kid.  Judge if you want.  I do my best.

Every parent knows that what really sucks about kids’ shows is that kids will watch the same thing over and over and over.  They don’t mind seeing the same episode of Wild Kratts 12 days in a row.  And it sounds like every little girl has watched Frozen eleven jillion times (“Let It Go” is one of the reasons I’m so thankful to have boys!).  And parents, you know that the worst part about watching the same kids’ show repeatedly is the songs. Even ones that are not that bad are still horrible when you hear them playing in your dreams and in your waking hours too.  It didn’t take long for LeapFrog’s Numberland and Phonics Farm songs to become permanently lodged in my mind.  I could recite and sing every line from those shows, because I’ve heard them so. Many. Times.  “Letter sound hoedown…” “Ten is the biggest number from one to ten…” “You can count things faster if you go by twos…”  Riveting lyrics, I tell ya.

At least if it’s an educational show, I don’t feel so guilty about parking my kid in front of a screen for awhile.  He’s become so much better at the numbers and alphabet in the past few weeks.  I just wish I could get some other music to take hold in my mind.  It’s like my brain has only sufficient room for inane children’s music and has pushed out every other band and soundtrack I’ve ever heard.  My husband let the Mickey short videos keep playing even after our son had fallen asleep yesterday, and I thought I was going to lose it.  Somehow he was able to tune it out.  Not so for me. I thought teaching the same class three times was bad enough–repeating the same instructions, the same activities, the same songs ad nauseum.  Nope, this is way worse–I get to watch the same shows ten, twenty, fifty-plus times.

“Everything is so glorious, everything is so wondrous..when you’re curious, like curious George.” These lines just keep repeating.  I even woke up this morning with a song Curious George’s friend Marco sings with his family band in my head :”Hurray for George!”  Why am I writing about this?  To try and somehow cement these songs even more firmly in my brain?  Why, oh why?

Prayer for my child

I pray my son will know, both now as a baby and into his future years, how crazy powerful our love is for him.  I pray he may sense even now that we would do absolutely anything for him, that we waited and prayed for him to join our family, that we know we’ll fail him at times but want only good for him.

I pray for my husband and I to grow in patience as we raise him.  I pray God fills us with compassion and understanding of the struggles he will face.  I pray we will listen to him as he grows up, giving him respect as an individual and as a child created in God’s image.  I pray he will always know, without a doubt, that his parents support him and love him no matter what.  I pray for God to grant us strength to love and support him even when we may not understand or agree with his choices.

I pray for my son to learn early on how deep God’s love is for him, that he will learn and believe in the power of Christ’s life and death, that he will trust In Jesus for all things.

I pray for him to trust in Christ for his salvation and forgiveness and sanctification.  I pray he will grow to be a man of faith, great faith, and that he will walk by faith and not by sight.  I pray he will learn to trust Jesus even in dark days.

I pray for God to grant us peace in our hearts as we know of the countless threats to our child.  We cannot protect him from all of life’s challenges and disappointments, but let us teach him perseverance through them.  I beg God to give us peace as we entrust our precious boy unto Him every day.  I ask God to watch over him, and to let us never forget or doubt that God loves him even more than we do.

I pray for God’s perfect will to be done in our son’s life.  I pray the Lord might use him in powerful ways, in ways I cannot begin to imagine.   Make him a person of faith, of passion, of grace and mercy.  Let him walk with Christ for all of his life.

I pray that the Lord will use the trials in his life to increase his faith.  Let him grow stronger through adversity.  Let him appreciate the blessings he receives and not take anything for granted.

I pray my son will be a light, shining the glory of Christ everywhere he goes and in everything he does.

unborn

As I snuggle with my sick little boy on a stormy Sunday, a truth crosses my mind again, as it  does occasionally these days:

This is not my first child.

You may be surprised at this admission.  I have one child at home, one child to feed and clothe and kiss every day, one child to claim on my tax return next spring.

But he is not my only child.

Two years, two months, and two days ago, I was sitting on a bus, en route to a cross-country meet, knowing my dream of becoming a mother was coming to an end.

Joy

Only thirteen short days before, I had stopped at Target to buy a onesie with the words, “mommy and daddy love me”, laid it out on the couch, and waited for my husband to arrive home for the news.   Happy tears fell, kisses were exchanged, and conversation poured forth with joyful anticipation and plans for the future.

Emptiness

Almost as suddenly as he or she entered our lives, that little one was gone.   Some of our friends and family had to be told of the reversal, as we had already shared the good news in our excitement.  We offered the facts and tried to move on and act normally around those who knew.   For those we hadn’t yet told, there was the debate over whether to tell them now.  We opted for no, deciding it was best not to put anyone through an unnecessary loss.

Questions

A child who only a few short weeks ago had been just a glimmer of possibility in our minds, now had grown to consume our every thought.  We would never know if it was a boy or a girl, only having been six and a half weeks along.  We would never know that little one here on this earth.  We would always wonder what that baby would have grown up to be.

We consoled ourselves by saying God knew what He was doing, that He perhaps was sparing us even deeper heartache.  We wondered if we’d ever know why we had been given this blessing only to have it taken away.  We wondered if there would be another chance, as the doctor assured us there would.

Over the next few months, as seemingly every couple we knew announced their own coming additions, we continued wrestling with questions and fears.  Is it going to be impossible for us to have a baby?  Did this happen because God’s will is for us to never be parents?  Or do we just need to wait, and for how long?  

The path to healing has been difficult and ongoing, and in future posts I may further explore our journey.   Our son was born one year after that first baby would have been due.         We are overflowing with joy at his life.  Yet still, I have moments when I answer a person by saying, yes, he is our first child, but find myself correcting the statement in my head.

My first child was taken to heaven before I got to know him (or her).  I still believe in the value of that life, that soul that God created.  That baby changed me, changed my husband, changed our relationship and our lives forever.

Baby love

I couldn’t imagine the love I would feel for my son until he was born and we could be with him, in the flesh.  The idea of having children is tricky–no matter how prepared you think you are, you can’t truly know what it’ll be like beforehand, so you have to jump in with both feet, hoping and praying it’s the right decision.

As a young child and preteen, I found babies and children fun and interesting.  Sweet, cute, and cuddly.  Couldn’t wait to have some of my own.

Growing up into adulthood, though, made me pause and wonder whether parenthood was for me.  Babies I’d see in church or at friends’ homes or my own nieces and nephews–they were cute, sure, but did I really want to be tied down to a little person for the rest of my life?  Plus, children’s games bored me.  Children themselves, after a brief period of time, annoyed me.  They always had to have their way.  They couldn’t stand losing, so they’d make up rules that skewed things in their favor.  They were loud, often making random noises or screaming or singing just to get attention. They were defiant, ignoring whatever they were told to do.  They were easily bored and had to be constantly entertained.

Well, these flaws in children are generally quite true.  That hasn’t changed.  But now as I play with my six-month-old son and see the joy on his face, I care more about him than about anything I have ever wanted.  It now seems crazy that I ever considered not becoming a parent.

I know there are many frustrating, exhausting, crazy days ahead with this kid.  Yet somehow, I’m not afraid of them anymore.  This love for my son so far transcends what I imagined it could be, I want to hold on to every moment with him.  We went through our share of trials to be able to have this little boy, and what a precious journey it’s been already.