Good Parenting or Selfish Mothering?

Peanut has one of those board books with wheels on it – a book and a car? Can’t beat it in the eyes of my child.

In this particular book is a picture of a motorcycle with the text “Motorcycles are fun to ride.” He received the book at Christmas and I read it a few times as “Motorcycles are dangerous to ride” partly as a joke. The hubby chided me, so after only two or three times or reading it as “dangerous,” I read the real text. Only peanut, in typical toddler fashion, corrected me and said, “no, mommy, motorcycles are dangerous.” Oops.

Now, every time we look at this particular book, I have to explain that motorcycles are fun, but can be dangerous so you have to be careful and wear a helmet. Now, when we see motorcycles on the road, he points and announces “Be careful!”

Part of me feels horrible that I’ve completely jaded this little boy who should have the world at his feet to experience and learn from. I don’t want him to grow up afraid or fearful. I want him to take (appropriate) risks and feel the adrenaline rush of success and accomplishment.

Another part of me, and maybe the bigger part, is relieved. Relieved that maybe I’ve planted a seed to keep him from trying at least one potentially dangerous behavior. Relieved that maybe I’ve saved myself just one sleepless night. Relieved that I still have such an obvious influence.

Oh, this parenting business doesn’t get any easier. Maybe I should start telling him girls are icky…

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And Then They Say Something Adorable

Since giving up the nap, peanut is a little, um, sensitive just before dinner. The 5 to 6pm hour is by far the worst while I’m trying to get dinner ready and the hubby isn’t home yet and peanut is clamoring for attention.

We lucked out last night – the hubby had a meeting near home in the late afternoon and was home by 5:15. He immediately got to work on installing the remaining child locks on peanut’s dresser drawers (cue the Alleluia chorus that HHM might not have to pick up every shirt, PJ bottom and pair of pants peanut owns today).

Needless to say, peanut was not too happy that daddy was home but wasn’t completely devoted to his entertainment. There were maybe 3 time outs in half an hour for throwing toys. I was getting nervous that dinner was going to include a complete meltdown as a result.

I was pleasantly surprised! Instead, peanut used his fork like a pro, only dumped a few peas on the floor on purpose and cleaned his plate. When he was finished, he started clapping, looked at me and said:

“Good job with the dinner mommy!”

Who knew pot roast and mashed potatoes would elicit an ovation?

Feeling Uninspired

Quiet time is still a challenge over here. It typically includes several checks when I hear noises I can’t identify. Sadly, I’m typically justified – there was the standing in the bottom dresser drawer one day, the trash can overturned in the hamper another, the hand sanitizer pumped all over the floor.

I’m not sure how to enforce quiet time and, as a result, am spending my precious moments while peanut’s behind closed doors trying to figure it out, attempting to get some PR work done for the hubby’s side-line project, and taking deep breaths while I count to 10 feeling my sanity wane with each bump, thump and crash coming from down the hall. Add in a few other distractions that are renting entirely too much space in my mind and I’m feeling overall uninspired.

The bright spot in all this “adjustment” is my mommy friends. Oh, ladies, what would I do without you and your honesty? It is so comforting to know that we’re all struggling with the same toddler mood swings, tantrums and frustrating self-doubt that we’re doing the right things. And I find it much easier to take a step back and honestly assess my own actions when I’m recounting my response to a tantrum to my girlfriends. It’s also a lot easier to find the humor in a pumped out bottle of hand sanitizer when you see a friend’s toddler throw himself on the ground, refusing to budge because his milk is in the car – the exact place we’re headed if he’d simply keep on walking.

Although I’m feeling uninspired, I am feeling supported, loved and not alone. So thank you for all your comments and listening to my annoying “he’s still not napping” stories over and over again. And be comforted by the fact that when your child finally gives up his nap, I’ll be here to return the favor.

Nap Time, May it Rest in Peace

It’s been 10 days since peanut’s last nap. I’m beginning to believe that it is truly over. No more two to three hour siestas. No more mommy free time in the afternoon for a Facebook fix, blog rant and DVR catch-up. No more deep breaths. No more time to think through the next activity to keep my toddler’s five second attention span occupied.

We’ve instituted “quiet time,” which is relatively quiet – he stays in his room, looks at books, quietly plays with stuffed animals or quietly destroys his room like a stealth agent ransacking the bad guy’s hotel for the hidden microfilm:

How did I not hear this going on?

Our routine has been our routine for more than a year and a half. Adjusting to this new normal has been really rough on mama. Although peanut’s tucked away behind a closed door and quite happy to have some time away from me, I can’t seem to relax into my “free” time the way I did when he was sleeping. I’ve always got one ear out for a major meltdown or total room destruction. I’m thinking ahead to how rough clean-up is going to be once quiet time is concluded. I’m trying to brainstorm which activities we can fill the remaining afternoon hours with that will not only keep him busy but won’t create a public meltdown because he’s overtired. And frankly, I’m bitter that the decision of a two-year-old to ditch his nap has completely turned my life upside down.

I know eventually we’ll have this schedule worked out. Quiet time will settle into something predictable. I’ll have it all under control. I know because we’ve been through it before when he gave up the morning nap back in the day of early toddler hood. We’ve been through it before when we were simply trying to get on any nap schedule WAY back in the days infancy. It was bumpy for awhile, but worked out in the long run.

Until the way smooths out, though, I admit I’m a little cranky, a little tense, a little irritable, a lot less the mother I want to be. And that is frustrating.

The upside, the kid’s pooped at the end of the day and down for the count by 7:30pm. That, and his future as a secret agent.

So This is the Diamond Room

In lieu of the addition we really wanted to do (stupid fiscal responsibility in an unstable economic environment) and to save some pennies, we spent our Valentine’s weekend rearranging more furniture in the house.

Peanut’s toys have been oozing from a corner in our den for awhile now. The train table he received for his birthday was crammed into a corner leaving little space for actual playing. I finally took a realistic look at the house and decided the random “keeping” room off of our kitchen would make a perfect play room. It has a built-in hutch that already stores all of his art supplies. It has a door to the back patio (and therefore sand box, basketball hoop, etc). It is close to but out of my direct sight line from the den, the living room and my bedroom (meaning I don’t have to see the mess!).

So, I took stock and decided I needed to give up our casual eating table that lives there and give peanut the space we all need for him to play.

Before:

After:

The added benefit is that now we are eating in our dining room. This is causing me some short-term stress as I figure out how to best protect my beautiful, first real adult furniture purchase table from toddler fingers and forks that he thinks are better as drum sticks than eating utensils. But it is a lovely environment to eat in.

The best part is that peanut is calling it the “diamond” room. Love it!

So, one weekend, a little sweat equity and I have three new rooms in my house — a new play room, added space in my den with a bookshelf full of books without pictures or Curious George in them, and a refreshed dining room. All that without the inconvenience of dust, hammering and interrupted naps.

Oh, wait. Peanut’s still not napping. But that’s a whole other post for another day…

Paging my Patience

Have you seen it? It’s calm, cool, collected. It takes deep breaths, smiles a lot, has a few activities up her sleeve? It’s been missing for at least 48 hours.

Oh, the terrible twos. Peanut and I are currently involved in a power struggle of massive proportions magnified by the fact that he’s taking the same jump out of bed tact that he used when we were attempting the big boy bed, only now he’s scaling his crib walls in a single bound, thereby going on his third day in a row with no nap.

My patience is wearing as thin as peanut’s sleep-deprived skin.

It looks like we’ll be going back to the big boy set-up to avoid any headers in the dark out of the crib and hope we can institute afternoon rest time in lieu of a nap, should this trend continue. But I’m just not ready. I haven’t had a moment to myself in three days (I’m stealing this time while he’s reading books in his room). I doubt every decision and word out of my mouth. I’ve yelled more times than I care to even admit.

I’m tired of arguing about washing hands, cleaning up, buckling up…why can’t he hear those requests when he very easily and eagerly hears ones related to playing at the playground, having a snack or watching a video?

This too shall pass…and until it does, thank goodness for mom’s night out tonight. As long as the bartender doesn’t give me attitude, I should be in a much better state of mind in about 5 hours.

Trying to Get Back on Track

I can’t even begin to explain how off the rails I’ve felt the last two weeks. The cold that turned into a sinus infection/bronchitis/blech turned my life upside down. I felt like crap. I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight. The house is a disaster. I was a blubbering mess who felt lucky to simply make it through the day so I could go back to bed at night.

Finally, the antibiotics kicked in, the side effects subsided and I finally felt like I was on the road to recovery when we had to literally get on the road to North Carolina. Ugh. A six-hour car ride was not exactly what I had in mind for my first real outing since feeling better.

But, we packed up the sniffling hubby and toddler and my infected head and hit the road on Friday. We went for the bestest of reasons: to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday and meet our new nephew. Unfortunately, the hubby and I were still nervous about any possible germs we were harboring and therefore only peered at our new nephew from afar. No prolonged visits with his parents. No play dates with his big sister. No snuggles with him as he made baby grunts and sighed yummy yeasty breaths. Instead, it was a drive-by viewing with a few snapshots and hugs to go around. Better than nothing.

And, unfortunately, my monkey peanut, in an attempt to avoid a nap in the pack and play, contorted himself somehow and injured his big toe. Poor kid was limping and falling down like a drunk man at my sister’s. Took him to the doctor today to get checked out and I survived another parenting right of passage: the x-ray!

He’s probably fine. I took a look at the copies and don’t see anything, but, of course, I’m no doctor. Instead, I’m waiting for the doctor to call me and give me the official prognosis. Peanut was a total trooper at the doctor. He announced to the nurse that the doctor would give him a band aid to make his foot all better. He told the x-ray technician that he was going to get pictures of his bones and asked a million questions that had the poor man cracking up. He held still and didn’t squirm and wasn’t frightened at all. He announced that his lollipop was “so tasty” to the waiting room.

After making it home well after lunch time, I’ve managed to get him fed (thank you Chick-Fil-A drive-thru) and finally settled for a nap. And I’m beginning to work on getting our life back on the rails, which means grocery lists made, coupons cut from yesterday’s paper, laundry started, floors cleaned, de-cluttering the travel clutter and the pile of books that’s gone untouched since I got sick, and trying to remember that I have a voice (one that isn’t raspy from coughing).

Keep your fingers crossed that there isn’t anything wrong with peanut’s foot. I’m finally feeling like I’m gaining a little control back over our life – orthopedists and immobile toddlers just aren’t on my current to-do list. I have other important foot issues to worry about – like planning our High Heeled Mama’s Wear Your Heels to Life week. That sounds like much more fun!

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Yes, I’m still sick.

I thought I was feeling better Friday, so I didn’t call the doctor. Apparently that was a false alarm and I had to suffer through the weekend before I could call Monday morning. Started antibiotics last night for whatever sinus/chest infection is plaguing me and am laying on the sofa just waiting for them to kick in and kick this crud’s ass.

Being this sick for this long has been enlightening. It’s been a hard lesson for a mommy who takes care of everything else to need caring for. I’ve had to turn a blind eye to the dust and clutter building up because I only have so much energy or patience to clean. I’ve had to let go of the TV guilt when I pop another video in to occupy the peanut so I can simply sit still. I’ve had a hard time reconciling being mommy when all I want is my own to take care of me.

And this thing has officially reiterated that I’m married to a saint. Not only did the hubby instantly take care of making dinner last week and taking on a few of the evening tasks that I normally do (in addition to the bath and bedtime routine for peanut that he typically heads up), but he’s been a great nurse. He also took the lead on babysitting for some friends when I didn’t want to expose their little one to my (and now peanut’s) germs on Saturday. We typically go over as a pair until the little one is asleep and then one heads out with peanut. But he didn’t hesitate about going solo and handling an evening with a 14-month old little girl. He officially made sainthood when he started to get the sore throat Sunday night and I had a meltdown that I can’t have him sick when I can’t seem to get better and he didn’t chastise me for my selfishness or irrational behavior, although both reactions would have been warranted. Instead, he continues to listen to my incessant complaining.

Which, this post is apparently turning into. One more complaint about how I feel like crap and just want to feel better (really, how many doses of amoxicillin will it take before I start to feel it?). So I apologize. One of these days I will be back to myself. I much prefer when my me time is actually spent on something productive, not wondering if my cough is.

Thank you for your messages of support and get well wishes. I do appreciate them. And I will work on stopping the wallowing. I’m pretty sure the antibiotics will help clear that up, too. I hope.