Dealing with the first “F bomb”


Ohhhhhh fuuuuuuuuuudge.

Ohhhhhh fuuuuuuuuuudge.

The major milestones of growing up keep coming whether you’re ready for them or not.  But I wasn’t really expecting my six- and barely five-year-olds to speak the F bomb yet.  Mind you, I wouldn’t label myself as naive per se; I know my children are going to be some of the first to hear all sorts of dirty little words because our last name is Virgin.  But they are not ready to understand them.  So though the world eventually teaches them things we don’t want them to know and aren’t ready to explain, we don’t have to succumb to some unspecified, ethereal pressure to acquiesce to changing times and the notion that “kids just grow up faster these days.”  Instead, I had a response prepared.

The kids came in the door from school as usual and dumped their stuff everywhere.  Within seconds Eliza informed me that there was a big discussion in carpool about what the worst word was.  I said, “Okay, what is it?”  After several reassurances that she would not be in trouble, she said, clear as day, “Eff” (the word – the F-dash-dash-dash word).  I think I said, “Huh, okay” and walked away like it was no big deal.  This is step number 1 in dealing with this – don’t act like it’s a big deal.   Step #2 is returning to the discussion calmly and when you have time.  For me, that was a few minutes later.

Me: “Okay, sweetie, can you tell me more about what happened in the car?”

Her: “Well, Zach said the worst word is stupid.  And (our carpool buddy) said, ‘No it’s not, F-dash-dash-dash is.'”

Me: “Oh.  Okay.”

Her: “Is he right?”

Me: “Well, it is a very bad word, yes.  It is not nice.”

Her: “What does it mean?”

Me: “What did your friend say it means?”

Her: “Just like dumb, stupid, mean.  Is that what it means?”

Me: “No, that’s not what it means.”

Her: “Will you tell me what it means?”

Here is where the preparation came in.  A friend of mine told me she had read about how one father had his son fill their biggest suitcase full and then asked him to pick it up.  The boy could not, and his father explained to him that the EFF word was like that suitcase; that someday, he’d be able to handle it, but that for now, the word was just too heavy for him.  Without actually packing a suitcase, I went through this demonstration with Eliza.  She pondered this a moment, and then asked “Will you tell me when I’m 11?”  And I said, “Yes, I can tell you when you’re 11.”  Then, of course, she asked about when she’s 10, nine, and finally we settled on when she’s eight.  And that was it.

It has been several weeks since then, and she and Zach haven’t revisited it.  I should say that Zach could not have cared less about the word or the carpool conversation, which was great.  But the fact that Eliza let it go is pretty miraculous.

Of course, since then, Eliza for no reason at all blurted out the word “sex” and stared me straight in the eyes to see my reaction.  I met her gaze and firmly asked, “What did you say?”  And then she made up something I don’t remember.  And I said, “Huh, okay.”  And I dropped it.  But when I hear it again, because I know I will hear it again, I will revisit the suitcase example and explain that she can count on being strong enough to handle that word when she’s eight as well.  I just hope I can hold off on explaining Virgin to them until then, too, because I don’t really want to communicate to our children that their last name is a “bad word.”  But if I explain Virgin, well, I kind of have to explain sex.  And probably the mother of all words as well.

Does anyone have another trick besides the suitcase one?  I might need it.

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Parenting law #11: There will always be poop to clean up.


Just ... ugh.

Just … ugh.

When you have little children, it’s easy to daydream about being done with diapers and blow-outs and leaks and toilet training.  But the truth is that even when you’re out of this phase, there will still be poop to clean up.

Tuesday we had a snow day.  Now, our Christmas break began December 19th, and that night Zach and Greg started flu symptoms.  Eliza succumbed the following Monday.  On Christmas, I still had three pretty flat-out family members and a rambunctious, healthy toddler.  Then after another week of having three kids at home, I sent them off to school Monday and took a nice, long, deep breath.  Thus, to have a snow day one day after school began again seemed so … unfair.  As the snow piled up outside, three other people in this family who use toilets (read: not me) also managed to “pile up” some things.  And they clogged two of our loos.

I was sitting on the couch trying to appreciate being “all here,” when I heard Zach whine talking to himself in the bathroom.  “I can’t use three pieces of toilet paper.  It’s not enough and now mommy’s going to be so mad with me.  I used too much toilet paper but I’m so sorry about it because I used more than three pieces.”  I waited for him to emerge.  And he gave me the saddest look and apologized for using too much toilet paper.  I told him it was alright and ignored the bathroom because I wasn’t ready to deal with whatever had happened yet.  Several hours later I had forgotten about it until I went in the bathroom and saw a toilet filled with half a roll of soaked tissue covering a brown mess that looked more like a bird’s nest than a branch.  It was a scene that on this snow day, was all too familiar.  And unfortunately for Zach, one I had witnessed one too many times (and the second stoppage of the day).

Me: “Zach, come in the bathroom.  I didn’t realize this is what you did with the toilet paper.  This is way too much toilet paper.  We’ve talked about this before.  You’re going to clean it up.”

Zach: “I’m sorry mommy.”

Me: “I’m going to go get the trash can.  You have to pull all the toilet paper out until there’s not too much to flush.”

Zach (in disbelief): “WITH MY HANDS!?!?”

Me: “Yes, because that’s what I would have to do and maybe if you do it this time, you’ll remember this the next time you consider using more than three squares of toilet paper for each wipe.”

Can you see how much toilet paper is in the trash and how much is STILL in the toilet?

Can you see how much toilet paper is in the trash and how much is STILL in the toilet?

It’s been three days since the snow day toilet debacle, and so far, Zach has amazingly had zero issues in the bathroom.  We will see if it sticks.  But even if it does, I still won’t be done dealing with poop issues.  Even once Ethan is out of diapers, toilet trained, and past using too much toilet paper, there will still be gross messes.  They will come in the form of school issues and bullying and crushed dreams and dying friendships and break-ups and a hundred other things I can’t anticipate and don’t want to.  So pull up your sleeves, grab your rubber gloves, and get ready to dig in.  Because the poop of life takes many forms, and once you have kids, helping them deal with it never ends.

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A new year to be “all here”


She is timeless.

She is timeless.

Once again, it wouldn’t be a new year without a new season of Downton Abbey.  I’m pondering the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley’s thoughts on the introduction of the telephone into the house (from season 2). After having trouble while trying to make a call, she asks, “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”  Despite a 100-year gap between her frustration then and mine now, I’m wondering the same thing about my own phone.

We live in an increasingly overstimulated society, in which we ingest more information that people ever have before.  It seems like no matter where I am or what I’m doing, there’s a constant nagging to check e-mail, social media and texts.  I say nagging because if it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t have a Smart phone.  I probably wouldn’t have a basic cell phone except for emergency purposes.  But there is this sense that someone else might feel ignored, or put off, if I don’t keep up.  And there’s also the fear that I might miss something important.  The problem is that while I’m afraid I’m missing something important, I’m missing something important that’s right in front of me.

It really dawned on me how much I’ve bought into this need to stay connected when I was at a New Year’s party over the weekend.  My best friend had gone on a date and I really wanted to find out how it went.  Instead of politely excusing myself and checking in with her for a quick call, I brought the phone back to the table and proceeded to text back-and-forth with her in the middle of the other conversations I was having.  It wasn’t until the next day that I realized one woman disappeared from the table without me noticing and I thought perhaps she thought I was so rude that she walked away.

The thing is, I get really annoyed when people do this to me.  I am shocked to realize that I caught myself doing it.  And on a day-to-day basis, I do this often to Greg and the kids.  I will be in the middle of texting when one of my children will ask to play a game.  I will respond, “I can’t right now, I’m busy.”  Now, sometimes I am; but sometimes I’m looking at random pictures of people I was friends with 20 years ago, getting updates about snow conditions, cubicle annoyances or new hair-dos.  And I have to seriously consider what is actually important.  Because there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, and yet one could shoot a reel of my life, play it back to me, and point out at least an hour every day  that’s arguably wasted.  And I can’t get it back.  And my family can’t either.

So I’ve had enough so-called “multi-tasking” while at soccer practice.  I want to recapture the art of just being in the moment.  I want to appreciate the blessing of now and what’s happening right before my very eyes.  If you are my friend and you haven’t heard from me in a while, just pick up your phone and use it for its intended purpose.  After all, there might be some aspects of society 100 years ago that make me cringe.  But the Dowager Countess having my manners?  Imagine her completely ignoring everyone at dinner with her head stuck in a newspaper.  Now that would be ghastly, and possibly akin to torture.

 

 

 

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Top 10 ways you know you’re a mom with young kids


Oh, and 11. You drive one of these.  Aww yeah.

Oh, and 11. You drive one of these. Aww yeah.

10. You just spoke to one of your lifelong friends for the second time this year and found out she had a boy in August: and neither of you is mad about it.

9. Your voicemail box is full because you use it to remember all the calls you still have to return and, more importantly, it serves as your contact list should you ever actually get around to making the calls.

8. When you are out alone, you constantly feel like you’re forgetting something and the lack of tiny person distractions still doesn’t make you capable of having complete thoughts.

7.  Sleep is something you used to get.  You recall a time that lying in bed awake was something you did.

6. You are constantly doing laundry, but almost none of it seems to be yours because you wear pants 3-4 times before considering them dirty and shirts twice, unless there is something very obviously wrong, like caked-on oatmeal or throw-up has tainted them.

5. You spend more time wiping other people with tissues and toilet paper than yourself.

4. You have a wart on your hand that’s been there since you got pregnant, your baby is now 8-months-old, and you haven’t used the Freeze Away you bought a month ago to get rid of it because you haven’t had time to sit down and read the directions.

3. You recall a time in the deep recesses of your brain when you were free to take last-minute weekend trips or just go out to eat.  At least you think your life used to be like that, but you don’t trust your memory and might have made it up.  Hence:

2. Your Christmas wish list is a date night, a sick day, a flannel shirt and ear plugs.

– and –

1. Your New Year’s resolution is to lose baby weight.  Even if your baby is in school.

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Parenting lesson #5: Mommy brain is real.


Forget actual scientific research.  I don’t care what (mostly male) researchers have to say about pregnancy or momnesia.  I am confident I can claim 100% matter-of-factly that “mommy brain” is a real ailment.  It is my diagnosis for having a short attention span, terrible recall, and doing stupid stuff.

The coffee does not come out from there.

Exhibit A: Before having kids, I would have known coffee does not come out of that side.

Take Exhibit A.  Not once, but TWICE, I have tried to pour coffee into my mug from the hinged back of this coffee carafe instead of where the dispenser spout is.  I took this picture to document the second time this happened.  If you look closely, you can see that I managed to drench the sugar in the sugar bowl with coffee as well as the tablecloth before my friends were able to stop me.

And this is one documented example of hundreds.  I have poured coffee into my cereal and milk in my orange juice.  I have even poured liquids straight onto the counter.  I have found my missing keys in the refrigerator.    I can’t even recall simple words like “mug” and “cabinet,” so I often ask Greg to get me a “thing” from the “thing” and hope he can deduce what I need because I’m holding a coffee carafe.  This week alone, here is what I remember: On Monday I forgot to strap Ethan into his car seat when I went to the gym.  On Tuesday, I took out the trash in the pouring rain on my way out the door, and upon returning, Eliza said, “Mommy, the front door is open!”  Just to be safe, I waited for three police cars to arrive 20 minutes later to check that it wasn’t an intruder who had opened my door, but rather that we had left for two hours without closing and locking up.  Yesterday I grabbed my mailbox key instead of my neighbor’s house key to let out their dog, and I didn’t figure out the mistake until the key didn’t work in their door.  And just now as Greg got home, we found I had left my keys in the door for the umpteenth time.

Seriously, look how much bigger that belly is than my head.  Imagine how much of my brain just Ethan took.

Exhibit B.  Seriously, look how much bigger that belly is than my head. Imagine how much of my brain Ethan sucked into his.

Check out Exhibit B.  I’m going to say that the laws of proportion back me up on this.  My thought is if your body incubates a baby and provides what it needs to grow its own organs, bones, and especially brain, then just as the baby will take Vitamin D and Calcium from your bones, it will also take cells from your brain.  It also follows that the more times you go through this process, the worse off you are.  I’ve read that the parts of your brain that control motivation, reward behavior and emotion regulation actually grow after you give birth, presumably to help you care for the child.  That’s lovely.  But my brain can only do so much at a given time, so keeping a baby’s needs at the forefront means other things – like remembering the word “chair” – go out the window.  In fact, a British study showed that hormones can control spatial memory, which would explain why when you’re pregnant or a mommy with a baby, you can’t remember where you put things or why you walked into a room in the first place.

Sleep deprivation has to be a part of it.  We are sleep-deprived when pregnant, and even more so after giving birth.  This past week, Ethan has woken up every night, I think because he’s going through a growth spurt.  I fed him a bottle for a few nights in a row, and now I think he’s waking up because he got in that pattern.  (Ugh.)  He was sick before this, so I haven’t had a good night of uninterrupted sleep in a while.  Mommy brain always gets worse at times like these.  I am hopeful that I can get close to normal again soon.  I do think I remember it getting better.  I vaguely recall that once Zach was two, I felt like my brain was sharper and I could remember things better.  I think …

I think I’m resigned to having mommy brain forever because I’m getting older.  And maybe that’s part of it, too: maybe women are having children later in life, and so our brains are already less capable of bouncing back easily.  Like I said, I don’t claim to have any scientific basis for my conclusion.  I just know I’m right.  It is the one thing I can trust my brain on these days.

What is your funniest pregnancy or mommy brain moment?

 

Posted in parenthood laws, Pregnancy and birth, Sleep | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Parenting lesson #11: Forgive yourself and get over it


There’s nothing in life so far that has forced me to face my own flaws like parenthood has.  Daily there are flashes of brilliance or tender moments that take place within minutes of epic failure.  Work wasn’t really like this; at work, I never would have acted this way.

Is your glass half full, half empty, or just empty?

Is your glass half full, half empty, or just empty?

On Saturday, our children wanted to have a family movie night.  We decided to serve them dinner in front of the TV, and as I poured milk for each child, my brain warned me, “You should put this in a lidded cup for Zach.  He is going to find a way to spill this.”  Sometimes, though, you ignore your inner voice of reason because in the moment, you don’t want to change course because that would require energy you simply don’t have AND you are secretly holding out hope that you could be wrong in your pessimism.  It did not take long for Zach to reach for his drink and knock over the full cup on our ottoman.  He started crying about spilling it immediately.  And what was my reaction?  I screamed in frustration, at the top of my lungs, “ZAAAAAAAAAAAACH!!!”  (So much for putting into practice the old adage, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”)

Not long after, we were getting ready for bed and Eliza was singing one line from a song over and over and over again, as she has the habit of doing sporadically for about a total of three hours each day.  (That is a conservative estimate.)  Thus, she was dressing while chanting, “Stay in the fight ’till the final rou-ound” on an endless loop.  I lashed out at her about not wanting to hear it.  Then she asked, “Do you not like to hear my singing mama?”  And I said, “No, Eliza, I actually don’t like to listen to it when you sing the same thing over and over and over and over.  I do like it when you sing a song.”  For a five-year-old who seems to have the hormone levels of a 12-year-old mixed with those of a 48-year-old, this of course elicited tears and hurt.

As I cuddled my little girl not long after, she asked me what was wrong.  (She has a sixth sense about these things.)  I told her that I felt bad about myself for lashing out at Zach the way I did, even though I had apologized, and for making her feel bad about singing.  I told her I didn’t like to mess up like that or treat them in those ways.  And she said, “Mama, forgive yourself and get over it.”  I couldn’t help but smile.  I asked where she came up with that, and she raised one shoulder to say “I don’t know” as she pointed toward the ceiling to  indicate it came from God.

Although as parents we will mess up daily, unlike with a work job, we can’t get fired.  These little beings can’t get rid of us (well, for the most part).  And when we don’t treat them the way we should, which for me happens daily, they are so quick to forgive.  And then they are over it.  Grace like that is nothing shy of breathtaking.  So despite our inevitable flaws, our little ones remind us to let go of the bad and cling to the good – those precious moments that are interspersed amid our mess-ups.

Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

 

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Parenting law #10: Be prepared, but when the diarrhea hits the fan, seek help from another parent


I like to be prepared.  Although having three kids has thrown my life into more chaos than two ever did, I still try to keep myself from getting caught off-guard.  For example, as a general rule, I have six diapers in the diaper bag.  My nursing class teacher shared how she got stuck traveling with her baby who had diarrhea.  Flight attendants had to take turns running paper towels to her seat, and the story stuck with me.  I don’t ever want to have diarrhea all over me in a place where I can’t get to a change of clothes.

This story comes to mind when I travel, so I try to pack extra diapers.  But for our last trip home from Florida, I had three remaining diapers when we left for the airport.  It should have been more than enough to get me through.  But that’s not how things went down.

We knew when we left for the airport that our flight was delayed.  What we could not have foreseen was that the one-hour delay would become a four-hour delay, the final hour of which came once everyone had boarded the plane and a rogue piece of luggage fell from the overhead compartment, injuring a passenger.  This necessitated emergency aid in the form of a sheriff’s vehicle and fire truck pulling up next to us at the gateway “just in case” while the crew waited for this passenger to feel better.  (You can’t make this stuff up.)

The rip-off package of two diapers and eight wipes.  No thanks (but good to know they're there)!

The rip-off package of two diapers and eight wipes. No thanks (but good to know they’re there)!

When your 5-6 hours traveling with three children becomes 9-10 hours, you learn to relax.  You roll with the punches.  And you improvise.  A four-hour delay with Eliza would have had me sweating bullets about the diaper dilemma.  But with Ethan, I wasn’t all that concerned, despite having used up two diapers before our flight even took off.  I briefly considered buying the $5 airport pack of two diapers and eight wipes, but the cheap skate in me just couldn’t do it, and the diapers weren’t the right size anyway.  But the anal-retentive part of me couldn’t board the plane with only one remaining diaper.  (I might be anal, but Ethan is not!  And diarrhea was what I feared, remember?)  I decided to make a new friend.  There was a woman with an 11-month-old nearby.  I introduced myself, explained my situation, and asked if she had a diaper to spare.  She was happy to help.  I told her I just needed a one-diaper cushion.

Thank goodness for that woman.  And every other mom or dad who has been that person for another mom or dad in need.  I must confess that I haven’t always had the most gracious thoughts towards unprepared parents.  But the truth is we all need help sometimes.  No matter how well you plan or predict, parenting is beautifully unpredictable.  In the end, I did need that diaper.  I used one on the plane, and then of course Ethan pooped as I waited at baggage claim for Greg to pull up the car.  No, the little man didn’t get diarrhea.  And if he had, I might have ended up like my nursing class teacher.  But I have found that stressing out about every potential worst-case scenario makes for a really stressed-out mom.  Which can give you … diarrhea.

Posted in Infant, parenthood laws, Travel | Tagged | 2 Comments

A day in the life


Apparently it can be interesting to read a moment-by-moment recap of someone else’s day.  I stumbled upon one mother of five’s “A day in the life” entry and just felt tired reading it.  I could totally relate, but then somewhat couldn’t imagine having five children.  Yesterday I decided I would jot down the events of my day.  Though a sick doctor’s visit is not typical, the day unfolding with multiple events I had not factored into the plan completely is.

2:24 a.m.  Despite having turned off the baby monitor when Ethan woke me from the basement at 11:30 p.m., I heard him screaming through the air duct and ran downstairs because he’s sick.  (I’m not inhumane; he was in the basement so he wouldn’t wake his brother and sister.)  Cuddled and played with him until 3:30, when I put him in his swing to try to get him to sleep.

4 something a.m.  Fell back to sleep.

6:45 a.m. Woken by children babbling and giggling.  Hollered for them to get dressed.

7:05 a.m. Still lying in bed hopeful kids would obey without intervention.

7:09 a.m.  Got up, got dressed (yes!), cracked the whip, handed the baby to Greg, poured cereal for the older two, made Ethan’s bottle, took it to Greg, went back downstairs and made Eliza’s lunch, got handed the baby so Greg could shower, baby pooped, changed him, poured more milk for Eliza, got her out the door for her carpool, microwaved a breakfast sandwich for Greg and poured him some cranberry juice.  Asked God to help me through the day and to be aware of Him every moment to lead and guide me.

7:50 a.m.  Zach and Ethan were playing in the crib together, so I decided I needed to respace the items on my fireplace mantle while holding Greg’s breakfast.  As I barely moved one frame, another went crashing into me and knocked cranberry juice all over my sweater, and took out my new frame from New Orleans, which crashed and broke into tiny pieces on the floor.  Choking hazard pieces.  I left them there momentarily because I decided I needed coffee.

8:04 a.m. Brewed some coffee, made myself a breakfast sandwich, put Ethan in his high chair to feed him while I ate and imagined (as I do every day) drinking my full cup of coffee before it turned cold.  Wrestled Ethan to give him his inhaler.  Realized I forgot to give Eliza her antibiotics for her UTI.  Contemplated driving to school later to give it to her.

8:40 a.m. Sent some texts.  After Ethan was done eating, I picked him up and realized I was about to set his smooshed blueberry-covered hiney on my white pants, so I leaned him over to wipe his rear and accidentally put his arms within reach of the coffee, which gave him a nanosecond to swat at it and knock the FULL cup all over the floor.  I paused and thanked God that the mug didn’t break (ironically, it was my mug that says “He fills my life with good things”), and then wiped it up with a dirty towel.  Mopped the floor.  Ran downstairs with my cranberry-stained sweater that I had rinsed and decided to run the towels load first.  Mopped the floor a second time because it was still sticky, then remembered I needed to vacuum the picture frame pieces, so I did that.

9:05 a.m. Sent Zach out the door to his school carpool.  Sat down with Ethan to start typing this and decided to put him down for a nap because he kept tapping the keys.

9:27 a.m. wasted 15 minutes on FB, planned the week’s meals, made my grocery list, made myself a protein shake, and folded half a load of laundry when Ethan woke up.  Thank you, God, that he slept.

11:05 a.m. Loaded Ethan in the car and went grocery shopping.  Ethan began hacking so hard and so frequently that I bought him baby Vicks vaporub in the store.  It didn’t help.  Thank you, God, that he didn’t throw up on himself or me while in the store from coughing so hard.  (He coughed up some stuff a few times, but every time he swallowed it.  Gross.)  Drove straight to school to do pickup, got Zach and his carpool friend Emily, and drove her home.

12:30 p.m. Unloaded the groceries, left the car unlocked with my purse inside and the windows down, made lunches, and got half of the groceries unpacked when Ethan began screaming.  He wasn’t eating any food and wouldn’t drink milk.  The phone rang and it happened to be the nurse from the pediatrician’s office to confirm Eliza’s UTI.  I said, “While I have you on the phone, … ” and described Ethan’s symptoms and that he was starting to feel hot.  She said to bring him in at 4:15.  Thank you, God, for that serendipitous call.  Thank you also for making me realize I didn’t know where my cell phone was and that I left my purse in the unlocked car with the window down.  Went and got it.  Thank you also, God, for creating grapes and fermentation and wine.  I questioned if it was too early to have some because there was an uncorked bottle with just a glass left in the fridge.  What the heck.  Took three sips, then realized I had to do carpool in an hour and left it.  At this point, Ethan was screaming and completely inconsolable and hot.  I put on a movie for Zach, changed Ethan’s diaper, took his temperature and found it to be 100.4.  I gave him ibuprofen and put real Vicks on his feet and started to rock him.  He cried for 30 minutes and then fell asleep on me around 1:10, so I called for carpool backup so I could stay home with him instead of pick up kids.  Then I let the school know.  I sent some e-mails, one-handed on my phone, while Ethan slept on me.

2:06 p.m.  Ethan woke up.  I reached out to the high school sitter to see if she could stay at my house with the older two during the doctor’s appointment.  She couldn’t.  I munched on some corn salad and black bean salsa with chips and finally finished off the protein shake I had started drinking four hours earlier.  Revisited the Rose, but after a few sips, decided what I needed more was coffee.  I started a delicates load in the washer and set the dryer again for the towels because they were still wet.  Zach asked to play soccer outside, so we did.  Most of these activities I did with Ethan in my arms, as he was clingy.

3:05 p.m.  Eliza arrived.  I called Greg to see if he could be home early so I could go to the pediatrician without the older two.  He said he could.  Praise you, God.  Typed some of this while Eliza and Zach played outside, did puzzles, and Ethan crawled around a bit.  I remembered to give Eliza her antibiotics.

4:15 p.m.  Arrived for the appointment, where Ethan was promptly examined and his oxygen levels tested because he was retracting to breath (something that’s happened with him before).  He cried and cried, we started a nebulizer, and he fell asleep.  Things got a little better.  Thank you, Jesus, that the pediatrician now carries antibiotics so I didn’t have to go to a pharmacy.  I left at 5:15 and went to Chipotle for dinner.  Good thing I planned for a Chipotle night in my meal planning.  Of course rush hour traffic and a line made this quick stop take 40 minutes.  Texted with neighbors about taking a walk, and another friend about trying to get out to see “Mom’s Night Out.”

5:58 p.m.  Arrived home with the food and stuffed my face while feeding Ethan and fending off the question and request barrage from Eliza and Zach.  Attempted to finish the glass of rose, which was now room temperature and watered down because I had added two ice cubes to it earlier to keep it cold.  I made it through about half the glass.  Then I did dishes and put away the laundry I did fold.  I started to change clothes and wondered, “Why bother?” so I put my shirt back on.  Praise you, God, for Greg and his willingness to care for Ethan and the kids so I could take a walk.

7 p.m. Went on a walk with two neighbor friends who are moms and both have sick kids, too.

7:51 p.m.  Got home and my other friend picked me up to see “Mom’s Night Out.”  I ate a few Hot Tamales and a few handfuls of popcorn, and wished the movie were playing in the theater that sells beer and wine, but had zero other complaints about sitting in a chair to zone out without the possibility of interruption.

10:22 p.m.  Arrived home.  On Ethan watch.  Dead tired.  Going to bed.

10:27 p.m.  Just kidding!  Ethan woke up crying.  He needed more albuterol, which always jacks him up, so Greg and I played with him in our bed until about 11:30, when he guzzled some milk, rubbed his eyes, and let us put him down.

12 something a.m. Fell asleep.

Now it’s 6:45 a.m. and I’ve been up since Ethan woke at 4:56.  I put him back in the basement and he fell asleep.  I lay in bed until 6:11 trying to find sleep again and gave up.  I checked the delicates load in the washer and thanked God it didn’t get mildewy from sitting so long.  I hear the older two stirring, and it’s my day for morning carpool, so the beautiful, messy, full day awaits!!!

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What your wife really wants for Mother’s Day is good sex. Or not.


Men, this one is for you.  I have some fantastic, cheap ideas for Mother’s Day gifts for your lady.  I figure I’m just in time, because knowing you, and seeing what the stores were like today, you probably are just getting around to thinking about the fact that tomorrow is an obligatory holiday that requires your attention.  In the spirit of David Letterman’s retirement, and in an attempt to speak your language, here is a Top Ten Mother’s Day gift idea list.

10.  A break.  Make breakfast, lunch and dinner, or plan for how your family will get each of these meals.  Then feed all the mouths that need feeding.  And if any of these meals require work, do the work.  And then clean up.  I can’t tell you how many moms I know don’t want to do a single dish on Mother’s Day.  Put the kids to bed for her.

9.  A bath.  If your wife likes baths, draw her one with one of those little bath fizzes you have no clue what it is (just drop it in!).  Then grab whatever book she’s reading and pour her a glass of wine and send her to the bathroom.  You could do this any time of day.

8.  A homemade card.  Find a writing utensil and use it to compose a nice sentence on some printer paper.  Let the kids do the same.  Or let them color all over your paper.  It doesn’t matter.  Then fold it in half and present it to her.

7.  Time alone.  If you don’t know what to buy her but you want to get her a gift, send her out ALONE (read: even without the baby) to the mall for an hour or two to find something she wants.  If this concerns you, give her a price limit.

6.  Time with the kids.  Even the hardest-working mom needs some special time with the kids today.  Whatever her favorite thing to do with them is (reading?  puzzles?  a hike?  a bike ride?  a board game?), make sure it happens.

5.  Time with you.  If you can arrange it and this is important to her, you will score major points if you can manage to find even 30 minutes to sit across from her and have one of the seemingly meaningless, mostly one-sided conversations she loves to have.  It could even help with #1.

4.  A massage.  Her head, her back, her feet, or her whole body – even if it’s only 5-10 minutes.  Or maybe she likes having her back scratched.  Then do that.

3.  That special “something.”  Maybe she likes jewelry or has dropped hints about a Pandora charm she wants.  Perhaps she loves flowers, or chocolates, or when you take her shopping and pick out clothes for her.  I don’t know what that “something” is.  And if you don’t either, maybe number 2 will help.

2.  Whatever she wants.  Have you tried asking her?  If you are at a loss for how to celebrate the mother of your children on the one day in 2014 you’re supposed to know what would make her happy, then ask her.  “Honey, what can I do to make today as special as you are?”  “How can I thank you enough today for being a great mom?”  “What would make you happy today?”

1.  Good sex.  On her terms.  If you spend the day doing any of the above things, it’s possible you will be rewarded.  I can’t promise anything, but she will probably want you.  Which if you really think about it, wanting you is probably how you got sucked into having to celebrate Mother’s Day in the first place.

Good luck!

Christine

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The difference between being the first child and the third


I was going to take a pic of Ethan in his dirty PJs.  But I didn't have time for that.  Here's one that Eliza took on my phone.  He spends a lot of time in his exersaucer.

I was going to take a pic of Ethan in his dirty PJs. But I didn’t have time for that. Here’s one that Eliza took on my phone. He spends a lot of time in his exersaucer.

As I just cleaned off Ethan from breakfast, I was struck by how many things I have let go of this time around simply because I don’t have the time or energy to care about them.  One mom told me, “With our first baby, we drove home from the hospital under the speed limit with our emergency flashers on.  With the second, we made sure we didn’t go over the speed limit.  With our third, we stopped for drive-thru food on the way home.  And with our fourth, we went straight to soccer.”  I can totally relate, because for Ethan, things were different as soon as we left the hospital as well.  I went straight to Eliza’s school to pick her up because she had missed me so much in the 48 hours I had been gone.  I have been collecting ideas on how to explain what it’s like for me to have three children compared to two or one, but that will be another post.  This one is about how it’s different for Ethan.  Our poor, sweet Ethan.

Crawling.  Ethan is about 8 1/2-months-old and has been on the cusp of crawling for about a month.  What this means is that I purposely keep him off the floor because unlike with Eliza, I dread the day he is off and running.  With your first, you are excited to announce to everyone when your children reach their milestones, and secretly hope that someone says, “Wow, she’s advanced.  Isn’t that early?”  This time around I just hope no one accuses me of stunting his growth.

Cleanliness.  I’m not ready to be chasing Ethan around the house, but I’m also not ready for what his crawling will mean in the realm of cleanliness.  I’ve tried to institute a rule that any toys or parts of games that can fit inside a toilet paper tube cannot be on the main floor.  I might as well be asking the children to nail Jell-O to the wall for an art project.  So instead of an unenforceable rule, everyone gets down on hands and knees for “safety checks” before we set Ethan on the floor (sitting up, not on his belly, or else he might try to crawl).  We look for coins, beads, Rainbow Loom rubber bands, and anything else that could be a choking hazard.  Once Ethan is on the move, his life will be more in danger.  Not to mention I do not have a way to store a vacuum on my main floor.  (I’m about to buy a battery-operated tiny one that we can hide behind a living room curtain.)  So there is a ton of dirt and dog hair on my floors on a regular basis.  With Eliza, I was good about vacuuming and mopping every few days.  Ethan is going to be a veritable Swiffer on the ground.  (Should I get him one of these?)

Clothing.  Right now Ethan is wearing the pajamas I put him in on Tuesday night.  He has multiple layers of dried, crusty oatmeal, black bean juice, and formula on various parts of it.  Just now when I changed his diaper, three grains of rice fell out of his sleeper.  But I’m totally cool with that.  He’s had a cold, so his crib sheet is decorated with snot marks all over it (despite its being changed on Monday).  I lay him down in an area that doesn’t look too bad and hope he doesn’t move a lot in his sleep.  How could I?!?  Because it takes time and effort to change a crib mattress, and it makes more laundry.  I don’t change his outfits or much of anything related to him unless it’s an absolute must, like poop or pee got on it.  When you adjust to having one child, one of the most overwhelming aspects of new parenthood is dealing with all the extra laundry.  I used to separate out Eliza’s clothes, towels and other items to wash on their own, special cycle with baby detergent.  Then I just started using baby detergent for all of us, and continued to do that with Zach.  Now everyone gets regular detergent.  There is enough laundry with a family of five to require 8-10 loads a week.  Anything I can do to lighten that load, I will do.

Bathing.  Eliza and Zach were both bathed nightly as part of their bedtime routines.  Ethan is lucky to get two baths a week.  We are trying to do better with this, as eating solids makes for a dirtier baby.  But my brain has adjusted to thinking that a bath every day for a baby is not necessary, unless he doesn’t pass the aforementioned poop and pee test.

Eating.  There is one way Ethan is advanced, and that’s with eating.  I started his solids around 5 months like I did with Eliza, but I am pretty oblivious about when I’ve introduced him to certain things.  With your first, you write everything down, spreading out the introduction of new items every 2-3 days in case of allergies.  The only things I know Ethan hasn’t had are honey, shellfish and nuts.  He even ate some fish we had for dinner the other night that had spicy rub on it.  He seems to want to be a part of our meals and looks at our food with hungry eyes when we give him something different.  So as long as I haven’t added salt to something, I give it to him.  I think because he’s been eating so much real people food he’s cut his teeth a little early.  He has four teeth and the next two have popped through his gums.  If there’s anything you would want your children to be delayed in, it would be cutting teeth.  Nursing has been painful.

Photos.  Ethan is less photographed.  This is partly because he’s always wearing pajamas, and partly because I cannot seem to have one contiguous thought/follow through sequence such as, “This is a cute moment, I should photograph it” and then actually locate a camera or phone and snap the picture.  There are too many interruptions, mostly in the form of “Mommy, ____.”  (For example, Zach just interrupted me to tell me, “Mommy, chocolate chips are like poop because they are brown.  But they are not poop because they are chocolate chips.”  This happens all day long.)  I even bought those cute stickers you put on your baby to photograph him every month to mark his first 12 months with photos.  I did it consistently for the first five months, and then lost the six month sticker.  My track record has been horrible since then.  Eliza has a baby book that’s mostly completed.  I at least purchased one for Zach.  Ethan does not have one.

Activities.  At this point in Eliza’s life, I had signed us up for a water babies class so we could swim together, and I was in deep debate and research over where to attend other classes like music and exercise ones.  I do not think Ethan will ever make it to one of these things, at least not as a baby.  Ethan is on a daily schedule, but he has to be so much more flexible than Eliza and Zach did.  He misses his morning nap three days a week because of other commitments, and his afternoon nap on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are in the car for carpool pickup.  He doesn’t seem to mind that much, probably because he’s learned he doesn’t have a choice.

Crying.  I must confess it’s easier to listen to Ethan fuss than it was to hear Eliza or Zach fuss.  A new mom was at my house a couple of weeks ago when Ethan woke up from him nap.  He had made two seconds of noise when she said, “Do you want me to go get him?”  I don’t think my brain had even registered that he was awake.  I said, “No, wait a little.  He’s fine.”  Ethan cried a lot as a young baby, but around five months he finally adjusted to the sound of my voice saying, lovingly, “I can’t help you right now baby boy, but I’ll be with you in a minute.”  He had to learn that I would come, eventually, so he started to trust that.  I would stop mid-cooking if Eliza needed me; but with other little mouths to feed now, I don’t stop.

Stimulation.  Ethan is currently sitting in the Pack ‘n Play (in his dirty pajamas) with his toys while I type this.  He does this a lot.  That’s because like with many other things, he doesn’t have a choice.  He does have two older siblings who love to engage with him and “play” with him, though, so he’s not in need of attention.  With Eliza, if I wanted to leave her like I leave him, I would have researched if there would be harmful mental or emotional effects.  I would have sought out a guide on what kinds of toys to leave her with and how many.  Ethan is surrounded by some of his toys, some of his siblings toys, and some cellophane.  And that’s totally cool.

I’m sure there are other things that are different as well, but these are the first ones that come to mind.  I hope Ethan doesn’t hold this information against me one day.  The truth is, he is a very happy baby and maybe that’s in part the result of me being a little less neurotic.  So cheers to third babies and all the things they make you realize aren’t that important.

 

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