Thursday, April 28, 2011

How do you parent another parent??

Anyone got an answer on that one?? How do you parent another parent?? I feel like I do that sometimes. Today, I felt like it was needed in Nixon's best interest.

The two moms I'm close to here, that I would consider friends, are both pregnant with number 2. One is due in about a week and the other is due in August. There's a big difference between these two friends and its not the due dates.
Friend A has a son a few months younger than Nixon. As I've mentioned more than once, Nixon is a laidback child. That includes letting little guy W climb on him. Nixon will fall down, W will climb on his back or lie right on top of him until he's removed. Nixon will try to crawl away but then he'll just stop. It's hard to stand by and let it happen but I do, until absolutely necessary, because I'd like to let Nixon defend himself. W's mom, extremely pregnant at this point, will stay seated and just yell for W to get off Nixon. Then she'll turn to me and say "It's so hard to move right now, because I'm so pregnant." Really, you're pregnant?? Oh thank goddess! I thought you were really letting yourself go!
Okay, so I'm kidding, I never really say anything, just offer a sympathetic type sound.
Friend B has a little girl a couple weeks younger than Nixon. She and Nixon are the best of friends and LOVE spending time together. They love seeing each other and we have no issues with them being mean or anything with each other. However, I think it's safe to say we both could survive without the screeching matches they get into. One will screech then the other will. Then they'll chase each other WHILE screeching! But Friend B never complains about her pregnancy, never just lets little miss M get away with murder because she's too "pregnant" to do anything about it. Her morning sickness wasn't an epic illness, possibly because this pregnancy has be very gentle in those aspects.

I know pregnancy is exhausting. Hell, I use to nap at work on my 15 minute breaks because I was so tired during my pregnancy! And while I don't want another child, I never begrudge someone who does. To each his/her own. But I really have ZERO tolerance for women who spend 36-40 weeks bitching and complaining non-stop about being pregnant! Its a temporary condition that is TOTALLY avoidable! Sure, every pregnancy is different but some things go without saying: you gain weight, are irritable, grow a belly, feel tired easily...and so on. Beyond that extent, I do not like when moms use their pregnancy to stop being a parent. You can't suddenly stop raising the child already here because you're baking another one.

So the dilemma today:

W found a stick at the playground. I don't let Nixon play with long, swingable objects as a rule. However, after the 2 of them started pulling on the stick I got up and broke it in half giving each of them a half. Peace lasted....about 45 seconds. W ended up with 2 halves again and Nixon was not happy. Nixon got a stick back and then they started rough housing. One thing led to another and the sticks started swinging at each other. Nixon got it in the leg and swung harder getting W on the face near the eye. W starts to cry, Nixon gets picked up by me and put in Time Out on the playground. The sticks are placed next to W's mom who declares "the sticks are also in time out". W was fine and calmed down, but I was not dealing with those damned sticks again. I grabbed them, broke them into quarters and then thrown them out. Nixon, still sitting in his time out spot, says quietly "bye bye sticks", then looks back at his feet. I let him sit there for a little while longer, apologize to W and his mom and finally get Nixon out of Time Out. He gives me a hug, says he sorry and tries to run away.
I walk him over to W and tell Nixon he has to apologize. Nixon plops on the ground and says "no". After 2 more unsuccessful attempts at an apology we leave the playground. The entire time, not once did W apologize for hitting Nixon nor did his mom apologize for the same offense. It struck me that the only thing she did say was "It's so hard to keep up with him when moving is so difficult." As if, once again, her pregnancy was the reason she didn't react. Or the reason she let him have the stick in the first place, because in order to take it away she'd have to get up.

I genuinely like them both and I'm hoping after the baby comes and things balance out, it'll be like it was with her before the pregnancy. Sadly, I'm not really expecting that to happen. I have a sinking feeling that the new baby will demand too much of her time and she'll be letting W do exactly what he's doing now, which is whatever he wants.

It's difficult being a mom of an only while being surrounded by multiples. I don't dare complain about how hard I find it because it's almost a definite the response won't be a sympathetic ear but more an eye roll followed by "YOU've got it hard try.....(enter random rant about life with more than one child) here". Having an only child does not negate the difficulties of parenthood. I'm a perpetual first time mom! Its just has exhausting and difficult but probably less chaotic than the life of a mom with more than one child. I feel like, and this is in my own head of course, that Nixon has to be well behaved for fear of being called spoiled. He needs to be promptly corrected for misbehaving because I'm not doing anything else. And I feel like if I fail he will forever be "an ONLY child", victim of a title commonly said as an explanation for a child who is the center of his/her parents universe and excuse that parents of multiples use to justify any acts that siblings could get away with but only children are not allowed. Not sharing a toy? It's because he's an only child and never has to share. Shy? Its because he's an only child and not used to other children. Goofy silly behavior? It's because he's an only child and has to entertain his parents since there's no way they could possibly be happy and well-balanced with only one child, right??

The fact of the matter really is this: I punished Nixon because hitting his friend with a stick, even if it were provoked or self-defense, is wrong. Not apologizing afterwards could've gone overlooked, but that's not how I'm raising him. He has to take responsibility for his actions the good and the bad, even at 2 years old. And while I feel the whole thing could've been avoided if the stick had been taken away in the first place from W, I have to accept that I cannot force another mom to make a parenting choice she clearly doesn't want to make.

Why does motherhood feel like the newest high school experience?? I hated high school because of cliques, because I didn't fit in and most of all because I was far from popular because I was being myself. about full circle!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April roundup

Well, April is coming to a close and it's been a busy month.

Trips to the zoo. A fun photo session for Nixon. Easter Sunday, which while it meant nothing to us on a religious level, we did spend with good friends and even had an egg hunt. A grand reveal of Nixon's backyard sandbox. Unfortunately it was given to him at the very beginning of the rainy season here, so it's tucked under the tarp I bought for it until the next sunny, or at the very least mostly dry, day.

Those are just some of the highs we've had this month.
But for every high there have been lows.

Temper tantrums, hitting, throwing things and other loveliness all courtesy of the "Terrible Twos". This is a constant source of worry for me. Nixon's so laid back that punishing him leaves him, mostly, unfazed. For throwing objects, the toy he's thrown gets taken away. For hit
ting, he goes into Time Out. He bit me once and was promptly flicked in the mouth. NOT enough to hurt him but enough that he hasn't tried it again.
The problem is: he doesn't care! He sits in Time Out quietly until we go and get him. He's quick with the hug and "I'm sorry" then off he goes.
Taking things away still doesn't really upset him, because he's got so much. I know I need to weed out his toys, again. My hope is, that without so many toy options, removing one will have a bigger impact on him.

** Confession time: I once sent him to his bedroom, as a punishment. It was too effective. He behaved but he was also terrified of his bedroom! That, while it would seem a perfect solution, is not one I can make a punishment option. He needs one safe haven of his own, he's chosen his bedroom.

It's a struggle, to be a good mother and still be strong enough to say "no" and mean it. How easy would my life as a mom be if I caved and let Nixon do whatever he wanted to do? Sure, my life would be easy, but would it be fair to Nixon? Not really. He'd have everything he wanted until h
e got to school and then he'd be dealing with boundaries and sharing and hearing no. Ultimately, I have to be confidant enough to set those boundaries now and face the fallout. Afterall, Nixon wasn't born knowing what is expected from him but as his parents we know what to teach him and how we want him to behave. He's an amazingly polite little kid. He says "please" and "thank you" now with very little prompting. When in the stores, he'll say "excuse me" as we pass almost anyone close or not! We're working on "I'm sorry" and "you're welcome".

During his bedtime story today, Nixon saw a moon in the book I was reading. Instead of his usual "moon, momma, dats da moon!" he pointed and said "luna, momma, luna!". Its hard to read with tears forming in your eyes. I spend a little time teaching Nixon some simple Spanish word
s. Luna is moon in Spanish. I got the same sense of accomplishment hearing Nixon say "luna" as I do when he replies "bueno" and "muy bien" (apologies for the spelling errors, its been a long time since I've spelled anything in Spanish) to a question I've asked him. I know he's listening and learning from me. For better or worse, he's learning from me.

Nixon's smile during his bunny photo shoot.

Nixon on the merry-go-round at the zoo.

Nixon finding eggs during our backyard egg hunt.

Nixon having fun in his sandbox for the first time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An innocent comment and swallowed tears

Kids birthday parties should be fun. Unless you're the parent of the birthday child, because lets face it, planning/organizing/orchestrating and hostessing is never fun when you're doing it and too busy to enjoy the actual event.

We went to a friend's son's first birthday party today. There were several infants (under 12 months) and a couple older kids (over 4 years old) and Nixon (the lone toddler). Mac went with me but he escaped to a neighbors house, who happens to be his co-worker. Lucky!
Which left me with Nixon, who either wanted to be left alone and watch Cars (because it was on since it was the theme of the party) or, when outside, wanted to play ball with the older kids who really were not into playing with him. SO, there were some rough patches.

But before I get there, lets start with the meltdown at the BX (Base's best described as a mall). Nixon loves cars..big, small and in-between he loves them! There's a book case in the shape of a jeep with a seat and 2 steering wheels. Nixon got angry because the steering wheels are looks only, meaning they don't spin. So I took him back downstairs where he saw a truck he likes to ride, but I had no change on me today so no ride. Which lead to him slapping me and screaming! I tried to get him to calm down and relax but he just got louder. I have bad moments where my judgment is not so good and this was one of them. I almost slapped his mouth, instead I tapped his cheek. Then because he was still screaming, I pinch his thigh a little, which made him wail but he focused on that and let me cuddle away his tears. We sat, in the BX on a display model, gliding outdoor swing while he calmed down. The important thing here, is that I realized I was close to losing it but didn't.
After we left the BX we went to the birthday party, but I was still emotionally raw from dealing with a public meltdown.

Nixon decided, that while everyone else was outside eating and socializing he wanted to watch the movie. After the chasing him because he wanted to play ball with the older boys and listening to him screeching and throw a fit when he couldn't, I was perfectly content to let him. Mac and I were in there with him, not to be anti-social but because we can't leave him alone in the house while we put in an appearance to everyone else. The hostess knew we were in there, so I saw no problem.
Mac and I were eating, Nixon was watching was peaceful, and those moments are the ones that save me from the edge.
Well, another party goer came in and innocently enough joked about us being anti-social. I laughed it off and said "NO, but he's (Nixon) happy watching the movie and it saves a temper tantrum being in here". She shrugged and went back outside with everyone else. After a couple minutes, I found myself swallowing tears because the comment really bothered me. It shouldn't have, but it did.
The thing is, with a stubborn 2 year old, I can't just sit him down and talk while he is oblivious to everyone around him, like a mother with an infant can do. I also can't just sit down and talk while my older children play out of my sight knowing they're perfectly capable of entertaining themselves. like a mother with the older boys could. NO, with a toddler I have to be present and accounted for which meant no small talk, especially since Mac had deemed the neighbors house a better option and left me with Nixon. Staying inside and letting Nixon do what made him happy was my best option! I tried to brush it off, because the comment had come from someone with no children of her own after all, but it stung because I didn't want the hostess to think we were being anti-social on purpose.

We left after the cake. Everyone ended up back inside because of rain, so we weren't very successful at being anti-social!

Its a struggle to not let small things get to you, when you're brain isn't working right. I cry randomly throughout the day. I have flashes of anger when frustrated. I get overwhelmed when Nixon has a meltdown in public and I'm working on NOT reacting to him when he gets like that. I did see someone about all this, but there's no official word on what's causing all this. Mac tries to be understanding but its hard to tell him what's wrong when I don't even know.
Sometimes I'm just blah.

Sometimes an insensitive comment meant as a joke can send me into tears and ruin an already shitty day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Who needs blankets when you have a pillow?!?!

I love Nixon. He makes me smile and laugh and grab the camera to capture the random moments of his life.
This blog is for those moments.
Specifically, the moments th
at find him asleep under his pillow looking totally adorable and innocent.
The C
hronicles of Nixon under the pillow!

Can mommy go in Time Out???

Ever have a moment in your life that you flashback to a lifetime ago and have an "oh shit" moment?
I did. And it wasn't good.

My childhood kind of sucked. And by kind of, I mean really did. And by sucked, I mean hardcore. My dad had issues and as a result I have issues. I'm not blaming everything on him, goddess knows I'm my own worst enemy at times, but when it comes to shitty ways to be a parent he may have written the How To guide for me.
My dad would fly off at something and I'd try to hug and kiss it away. It never worked and it usually left me feeling like a failure. I never want my child to feel like a failure for not making things better. It's not his job.
There's a few reasons why, at 25 years old, I was able to pack up leave my hometown, move 5 states away and never regret it. In addition there are reasons why I waited until I was months away from 30 before choosing to be a mother. It wasn't until Mac entered my life that I'd even wanted kids. Why? Because I am terrified of being a shitty parent! I have NO idea how to be a good mom, other than to do the exact OPPOSITE of what my parents did for me.

Today, I failed at that. Really, really failed.
Nixon loves me. I know this. He loves following me, watching me, playing with me, laughing with me and mimicking me. There's very few times I really don't want him near me. When I'm cooking in the kitchen with the stove and oven on, its too dangerous for him to be with me. When I'm trying to fix something and it's not going as planned, its safer to leave me alone. Its that quick Irish temper of mine. Sometimes, Nixon is okay with being near Mac and not wanting me. Other times not so much.
Today it was not so much.
After dinner I needed to change the batteries in Nixon's aquarium. The batteries were so dead it wouldn't even turn on. Well, since we put Nixon in a toddler bed it's been attached to his dresser, in a creative yet safe way. Unfortunately, the safe way decided to break and I had to come up with a way to fix it, since Nixon's still not ready to sleep without it. Annoyed that I had to figure it out (again), I started pitching a fit. Mac came, whisked Nixon away and I started trying to solve the problem. In the middle of trying to fix it, Nixon sneaks back into his bedroom and closes the door. To be with me!
So what did I, mother of the year, do?!? I yelled "OUT!!!" at him!
And Nixon, the love of my life, do?? He cried! Of course he cried, asshole, his mom just yelled at him! Mac rushed in (because he hadn't noticed Nixon slipped out of the living room in the first place) to try to calm him and I....felt like I just had an outer body experience or I switched bodies with my dad! I wanted to hold and kiss Nixon's tears away, but knew at that moment I needed to calm myself down. So I let Mac take Nixon out and I finished the aquarium.
When I was done and Nixon was relaxed again, I grabbed him for a hug and kiss. While he was cuddling me, he put his head over my heart and said "I sowwy momma". He gave me a kiss and just sat in my arms while I swallowed tears. I tried, as best I could, to explain he had nothing to say sorry over because he did nothing wrong. Mommy was angry and just yelled at him which was very wrong. I told him sometimes Mommy has a temper tantrum, like he does, and maybe I needed a time out.

After he went to sleep, and mac went to sleep, I took Nixon out of bed and held him. He was sound asleep. As I held him in my arms, rocking him on my lap while sitting on the floor of his bedroom, I felt the tears well up and fall. I never, never want him to have to apologize because I'm acting like an asshole or like my dad. I know I can be a better mom than that and I know Nixon deserves a better mom than that.

I'll have more less than stellar mommy moments, but I'm trying to learn from them all and not make the same mistake twice. In the meantime....I still feel like a mommy failure.