Saturday, July 12, 2014

Potty Boot Camp

Day 3. Morale waivers. Today has actually been a great day, lots of toilet use, one “wild” pee in the grass. Even a real, bonafide poo in the toilet. I hear that this is the piece de resistance of potty training. We have hit the home run!! Well, Ben is 3.5 years old, so there is that. You can’t say that he doesn’t get the concept. It’s just we never pushed it, and finally he needs to sort it out by September and we hustled things along cold-turkey (except pull-ups at night). We are deeply proud of him, to say the least. Great. So no problem right? Now ask us how the mothers are faring…. Poorly at best (brief moments of euphoria notwithstanding). We are both control oriented people, we like things tidy, we have a routine… This week-end has blasted that open. We cannot show frustration to our brave, struggling boy, so we turn on ourselves and each other and that spot on the floor (why won’t it come OUT?!?!). We have each had to take time outs of our own to cool off, decompress, recommit. Ben does “quiet time” each day he is home, for 30 min. He stays in the play-room (mostly), listens to music, does his stickers or whatever. I try and actually relax during that time since Daniel is napping. Today I dealt with phone operators while Ben yelled and pounded on the door until finally I went to end our mutual misery at the designated time, only to find that he had stickered his penis. He has also become deeply curious about his anatomy: “what is the hole the pee comes out of called?”, “what is the hole the poo comes out of called?” It’s all about holes. (What the heck is the pee hole called anyway??) So, now our child knows the term anus, knows the cats have one and has decided he doesn’t like the word (just “bum” please). Anyway, after removing the stickers, he proceeded to help me in the kitchen. Bless him. But he was naked on the lower half, and every time he heard water he thought he had to pee, would run to the toilet, aim, false alarm, hand wash (or not, chasing him, returning to bathroom, hand wash), undies, fight about undies, get a chocolate if he actually peed, inability to ignore his own now easily available body parts, more hand washing, repeat. Over and over. Cute, but massively disruptive to my attempt to attack the splats of mashed sweet potato dripping down the side of the cupboard, the cheese gunk stuck to the counter, the mountain of dishes from cooking and playing all this rainy day of Stuck At Home Learning to Potty. This is HUGE. I know it. Earthshattering to his existential sense of self. Plus, he gets one M&M for each pee, two for a poo. I am starting to feel like moms should get the same!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Land of milk and honey

It’s official: my baby has self-weaned completely at 16 months. My milk is draining away, the ducts are closing up shop, laying off workers, restructuring. I feel like I am crawling out of a dark (albeit cozy) den back into who or what I was before I became a food source. My cells will realign themselves to reflect the new me, since I am of course forever changed. From now on, I am the land of just honey, a source of sweetness and cuddles for both little boys. I will never go back; trying to reconnect with the “old me” is an illusion. Parenting, being a bio-mom, both roles are powerful and perennial and root out any weaker plants growing nearby. To grow a marriage relationship, to grow a new selfhood within this new reality, is going to take major grunt work and fertilizer. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow. These days, I crave the oblivion of good take-out sushi and Nashville on TV, or reading the teen fantasy series du jour. Through the blessed fog, I know that I deeply crave connection with A. I am grieving the loss of nursing Daniel, though it has thankfully been a slow process (kind little guy!). But my heart and body are ready to get back on the A-train, to start making time to re-route ourselves onto a better track. It’s now or never. In the hustle of our family life, it’s not easy to remember to notice each other, or to reach out. Sometimes it suddenly is though, like a surprise movie cuddle (for me) or coffee made (for her). Recently I can feel the wind shifting, this hot summer weather mixed with a cool breeze from the lake are both portents of sweet things coming to us. I’m not “back” exactly, but it feels something like that. It will be an evolving process, the little deaths of doors closing leave space for living a new me, a new us. And hey, I’m all honey now!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bedtime boobie blues

You really don’t want it? It’s your magic elixir, to nourish and sustain you, to keep you safe. It’s the best of me. Less and less these days, no day-time feeds, and now tonight, nothing. Not a drop. My heart is aching. I know it’s not personal, and I am so proud of your growing 14 month old self. You are adventurous and funny and brave. Lately you’ve become a huggy, cuddly guy too, so very appreciated. You roll with it so often, our second-child neglect, an elder brother’s ministrations, the many bumps in your gung-ho day. I know you are your own person, heading straight into the arms of Life, but are you so ready to leave our little nursing nest? Don’t you crave that succour after your busy day? You turned away in disdain from mother’s milk this evening, told me to give you your dragon and put you to bed. Oh Daniel, I’m not sure I’M ready. I’ve got your back little man, but please don’t leave me behind…


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Peaceful parenting

I yelled at Ben today. The usual explosion after getting fed up, after me having done all the “right” things to improve the situation. This is not a remarkable scenario; I can literally feel your parental empathy / boredom and knowing nods. What makes it noteworthy is that it’s kind of rare these days. Things between Ben and I were getting pretty fiery there for a while, me the flame, him the fuel. I 100% get that it’s hard being three, hard to share mothers/toys/life with a brother, hard to give up naps and still act civil. Maybe it was the convergence of these external factors and my own baggage stew, but for whatever reason I was hating my mothering of our eldest. I felt like a bully, a control freak and was getting a really toxic feeling after my fear-inducing vocals. I am not a passive parent. I have no intention of letting our kids live an ungrounded life without firm boundaries. But there had to be a better way. Our relationship was being eroded, my heart was being hardened and as you can imagine, that didn’t leave me oozing with love light.

So I engineered a kind of mini-revolution. It’s either a subtle shift of perspective, a commitment to action, or the single most important decision I’ve made as a parent. I feel like I have my boy back. I feel like a different version of me, even from two months ago. I took Ben’s earnest little face in my hands and told him I am committed to not yelling at him anymore, and that I hoped he would hold me to it. I credit a book called “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting” by Dr. Laura Markham. There are a lot of things to digest in that book, a lot to sift through the many layers of “what would others think”. For me, the book kicked me in the ass and said (in more gentle, eloquent words): Deal With Your Shit. Take a good look at the stink of it, at whatever crap is sticking to your boot. And then let it go, heal, move on. Whatever the cause, genes, past-life, current-life or upbringing, I brought a serious need to “control” to our family. I know I have many great mom qualities, so please don’t think this is a self-deprecation fest. But I could, and would, do better.


Long story short, the book gave me tools and ways to think about parenting that changed things pretty fast. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, the more gentle and present and connected I become with this stupendous kid, the better he behaves. The more I stop to really SEE him, to consider his perspective, the more I enjoy our time together. I don’t want to rule through fear of me or of punishment. I want him to find his internal motivation to act well. I will keep feeding him connection-rich time so that he feels safe and can learn to process his intense emotions. I know I’ve been living with a seriously cool kid (kids now), but I swear Ben is even cooler than I thought. My heart is much softer and open than it was; I notice it at work too. I’m not living in as much of my own fear anymore. Seems ridiculous now, being scared of my kids, being terrified of myself. Ridiculous, but real. I will leave you now with a recent quote of Ben’s:


Me: Ben, did you lose your your big-boy voice? Where is it?

Ben: It’s in my heart.


No kidding, son, no kidding.