Sunday, March 30, 2008

Birthday party angst

I took N to one of her little friend's birthday parties on Saturday. It was at one of those places that have inflatables and a party room. The party was nice except for the 4-year-old who kept whining, crying and pouting beside me for a good chunk of time.

For some reason, N has a hard time with this particular inflatable party place. I don't know if it is because it is a little dark (dark blue and purple paint on the walls) or because the slide inflatable has a cover over it that keeps it dark and it scares her? There is another local indoor inflatable playground with a similar slide and she totally doesn't get wigged out so I'm guessing this could be part of her issue.

The other issue is that N just doesn't like crowds, and there were quite a few kids at this party. She kept saying to me, "But I want a friend to play with me." As in I want to have 1 little girl who will stay by my side for the entire time. It was so sad and pathetic. I wanted to hug her and at the same time drag her outta there and say, "If you are so miserable we are just gonna leave because your whining is really bugging me!"

All the other kids were running around, jumping, laughing, and N did too for brief spells. But for a good 35 minutes, she and I (and G in the Snugglie) sat on a mat and breathed together.

It is hard being 4, and it is hard being nearly 35 and having to remember than a 4-year-old may be miserable at a birthday party but still (even though it defies all logic) wants to stay at the birthday party.

Once we got into the party room, she was fine. She ate pizza and licked the icing off 2 cupcakes and then happily watched her friend open her presents.

As aggravating as this was for me, I'm thinking small birthday parties and a small wedding are in N's future.

Pat on the Back

The other day I received a letter in the mail from the school at which I worked. On the return address label it said something like, "A celebration of service." I wondered if this was some event to honor those who had taught at the me, perhaps. The prospect got me a little excited, which freaked me out a bit.

I had just been talking to a friend about how I have never once, in 4 years time, had the thought that I want to go back to teaching. I have had the thought, "I wish N wasn't in such a foul mood today," and "I wish we weren't staying in the house today," and "I wish I could go shopping by myself today," but never have I had the urge to be back in the classroom with 30 middle schoolers.

When I think about working full-time, I think about the hassles: being to school by 7:00 a.m., staying after school for faculty meetings, feeling pressure to coach Quick Recall or moderate a club of some kind; having to stand for a hour in the copy room to make a bazillion copies and plan lessons; all of this and then STILL having to come home and do what I do everyday now---clean, cook and take care of the kids---and then grade Language Arts papers until the wee hours. Uh, no thanks.

But when I got this letter and felt a little surge of excitement, it made me doubt myself. Do I really want to teach and I'm just feeding myself a bunch of bullcrap about liking being a SAHM? Oh, god, what if I've been in denial for 4 years!!!!

And then I got a grip and realized that I don't want to go back to teaching or work anywhere outside the home---I merely want former colleagues to tell me what a great teacher I was and that they wish I would come back. My ego appears to need a little stroking.

Cause being a SAHM, while the most important job in the world (says me), does not come with the benefit of getting one's props as often as one would like. Being a SAHM is mostly about serving others---being sucked on by my littlest one, retrieving food and dressing Barbies and getting attitude from my older one, and listening to the one to whom I am married complain about what I fix for dinner. (The other night I fixed round steak for supper, and it was a little tough, which is just the way the meat is, but D asked, "So who's shoe is this...mine or yours?") So I need a little ego-strokin'.

Yeah, N does tell me sometimes that I am the best mommy in the world but I hear than much, much less often than I hear, "I want whatever RIGHT NOW!" D usually tells me things like, "I'm kinda over hominy" or "I'm a little tired of that tortellini casserole." (I think we are both in a food rut right now).

True, I don't thank him for going to work everyday, but he gets his bonuses and pay raises and evaluations and thank yous from his co-workers. (I do listen when he's having a problem and encourage him). And I guess I don't say things like "You've got the biggest penis in the world" or whatever it is guys would like their women to say to make them feel masculine and sexy. I guess I can't expect much when I don't give much out in the way of kudos.

Ah well, I'll get over it.

As it turned out, the school is honoring some people who have worked there for like 20 years straight, not people like me who barely got in 4 years before sauntering off into the idyllic life of motherhood.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Elder child guilt

Sometimes I feel terribly guilty because G is so easy to like---he just grins and smiles at everything. He doesn't say "No" or "Now" or dawdle when I'm trying to get out of the house to get errands done--all of the things his sister does with great ease and often.

I sometimes catch myself fussing at her and then making lovey-dovey noises with G, and I understand why she is sometimes really bummed when he wakes from his nap and it is no longer "Mommy and N" time.

But even though she is more challenging, it gets awfully lonely when it is just me and G because he doesn't talk or offer unusual insights into the world. It is so quiet and boring when N is at school. G doesn't make up strange games or change the name of his teddy bear 5,000 times a day or say, "Count with me" so he can learn his numbers up to 100.

I'm really glad I have both of them because they remind me of what is so cute and annoying about the different stages of childhood.

More photo comparisons

N learning to sit up at around 6 months.

G learning to sit up at nearly 6 months.

D and I are good at producing blue-eyed, really fat, bald-headed babies.


Whoah Boy! Now I know what they are doing with those weird metal things at the dining room table! My boy is growing up too quickly.

And for those who think N and G look alive--here is N from one of her first times eating solid food.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An Open Letter to Baby Boy Clothes Designers

Dear Designers of Baby Boy Clothes--

I am the mother of a 6-month-old who weighs over 20 lbs making him wear size 12 month outfits. He cannot sit alone for very long and he doesn't have a neck yet. He cannot roll over very well and so you understand that crawling, standing and walking are many, many months away. He has no teeth and hasn't yet partaken of "real food."

He is a baby.


He should be in cute little rompers with bottles and pacifiers and all things baby on them.

He doesn't surf, so please don't make so much goddamn surfing-related clothing. He doesn't yet play in the dirt constantly so can we avoid all the brown for awhile? It is not too feminine to have some cute rounded collars on shirts instead of fricking striped polos.

Not every boy who wears size 12 months is a toddler. Mine is a baby and I want him to look like a baby!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Annual pap and pregnancy envy

Sitting in my ob/gyn's office on Monday, I was browsing through the pregnancy magazines because, DAMMIT, they didn't have any People or US Weekly. And I cannot just sit there and watch Rachael Ray blather on about whatever talk show hosts blather on about.

Anyway, I'm flipping pages in these magazines and
yearning for another baby.


Did I forget my meds today?
Do I not have a 5-month-old who sleeps like crap?
Was I not nauseous and pukey for 15 weeks?
Did I not feel like a beached whale for the last 9 weeks?

But you know what? I can't help it. I feel what I feel. And when I look at G and he grabs my nose or laughs and smiles at me I want to experience a pregnancy one final time. And when N says, "Mommy, I forgot to give you your good morning hug," I want to do it one final time.

I know I'm addicted to chocolate, but I didn't realize addiction applies to babies too.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our busy weekend

Mommy and N did some sledding and had so much fun we went home and got Daddy and G. Poor G, though, stayed in the car and sucked on his fingers while Mommy videotaped Daddy and N sailing over the powder.

After sledding, Mommy and N created a nice snow-person family. Fred, Miss Ann, Ashlyn and I can't remember what N called the last one.
Check out Miss Ann's hooters!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Finding strengths and being a SAHM

So I read this book entitled, Now, Discover Your Strengths, which comes with an online test one can take to determine one's strengths.

Not surprisingly, my 5 strength themes are:
  • Communication (like to write, talk, elaborate, etc)
  • Achiever (inner drive to act, stamina to keep going, must accomplish something everyday)
  • Strategic (think through clutter, asking what if questions)
  • Discipline (routine-oriented, create structure, like precision)
  • Woo (meet others easily, put people at ease)
I think it hit the nail pretty well on the head.

So the question I've been wondering is do my strengths mesh with being stay-at-home mom? The book is written for companies to ensure their employees are being as productive and happy as possible so it is a little challenging to apply this to my life in an altogether different organization.

I've also had to wonder whether these strengths applied to my role as a teacher.

Since the test didn't tell me how I ranked in my strengths #6-10 or #11-15, I don't know whether I had any strengths as a Developer (see the potential in others) or in terms of Empathy (sense others' emotions), which seem to me to be things you need in order to be a good SAHM or teacher.

But I think I was a good teacher and am a good mom, so rather than worrying about what I'm not, I'm gonna parse out how I use the 5 strengths listed above to be the good mom I think I am (and, believe me, this ain't a braggin' thing...simply an exercise so I don't stew forever that I picked the wrong "career").

Achiever -- I do like to get things done and accomplish certain things. I don't write down what I intend to accomplish because as soon as I write it down, it doesn't get done and then I feel like crap. So I just mentally note what I accomplish, and there are always certain things I want to accomplish every single day, like play with N for at least 20+ minutes while G is napping or get 1 type of housework chore done. And I do tend to have a high stamina, which is necessary, I think, for being a SAHM.

Communication -- I like to express myself and share and draw pictures with words, which hopefully makes it so N and G like to listen to what I have to say. I guess better this than being difficult to talk with.

Strategic -- I guess maybe this works best in terms of how I discipline...finding the best route (most of the time) for dealing with my children based on their personalities. I discard the paths that lead straight into resistance? And I guess it can apply to doing activities with the kids--knowing how to break things down in a way that is easy and enjoyable for a small child--when I do a project with N, I can break it down into small parts applicable to her development stage.
(As a teacher, I always thought one of my strengths was being able to take a lesson plan idea and develop activities that I could use with both my AP students and my special needs students-----activities that were smart and challenging but geared for their particular skills and needs)

Discipline -- I have routines and order in the house. Toys have a certain place in our home. The day has a certain routine. I am consistent. Kids need routines and consistency.

Woo -- I am approachable and funny, which makes me fun for the kids to be around.

There needs to be a category for "Entirely Too Much Inside One's Own Head" because I know I shouldn't be spending as much time as I am wondering whether I have the strengths to be a good SAHM.

I should probably look only at the statement I made to D today. When we got home from my MIL's house, I went to run some errands and was gone about 2 hours. Once I returned home, I took N sledding and then we built a snowpeople family (pictures to come in a couple days). When that was finished, I came in and cooked supper. D was in the dining room with G. I told D that I felt like I hadn't seen G all day and I felt guilty about it.

Guilt! About not spending 4 hours with my son when I see him every single day. And some of that 4 hours he was asleep. And, really, it wasn't even a full 4 hours because I did nurse him and get him down for a nap during that timeframe. But I felt a little sad that I hadn't spent more time with him.

That right there is enough to tell me I couldn't HANDLE being a working momma. The guilt would eat me alive. Damn, I'm such a softie.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Latest milestones

Hubba Bubba, the 19.5 lb 5-month-old, can sit on his own. He can flip himself from his belly to his back. Of course, lugging his largesse back over is a work in progress.

He smiles all the time, sleeps like crap at night, and is just a great little dude (although he will never live down the shitty sleep habits).

4th Birthday

I am birthday'd out. 2 parties within 7 days--one with family and one with N's little friends. I don't go all out, but it still requires some planning and preparation.

I made the birthday cakes this year using my friend A's cake decorating supplies. Although I envisioned something wonderful, they looked like plain ole homely homemade cakes. I'm gonna take a cake decorating class before G's birthday in September.

In the past we always had a meal for our family, but I really splurged on her present-- a Disney Princess Barbie doll palace. I guess am trying to relive my childhood desire for the Barbie Dreamhouse through N. Anyway, given how much I spent on that, I figured a homemade cake, storebrand ice cream and a bowl of Doritoes was good enough. Plus, she had asked to have a friend party, so I had to factor in the costs of that too.

N wasn't feeling 100% on the 24th when we had the family party, but she was all over the friend party. I had a haircut scheduled at 11:30 so I started getting the table and crafts lined up around 9:30 (her friends were to arrive at 1:30). N got herself dressed in her favorite princess gown and asked, "Have my guests arrived?" about every 6 minutes.

She and her friends had a good time---no hitting, crying or tantrums---which is AMAZING for a group of six 3- and 4-year-olds.