Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Beauty Of A Mother

When I first had Molly my grandma said to me "you are definitely a mother." I asked her why and she told me "because you are swaying back and forth and she isn't in your arms." We as mothers have an instinct in us and even subconsciously our bodies want to soothe and comfort our children.

Becoming a mother means bearing the unbearable pain of accidents, heart aches, sickness, and even punishments. Little do they know that punishing them in turn feels like such a punishment to us.

Being a mother makes women resort to a deep carnal state. I know humans are animals based on how I feel the second they are in danger or threatened. The hair on your neck stands up and just like my childhood Labrador so loyal and protective I am in a state that no person wants to cross. It's not just for our own children either. Us mothers form a group of wild dogs, bears, lioness or what have you and when any child is threatened by anything we become that carnal protector, because no women wants another women to feel what we fear ourselves.

When you have a child your life loses it's value and the value it holds to you is that it's what is keeping you with them. You wouldn't just die for your child. You would live your life in the worse pain so they would never have to feel it all. There is no hesitation. I would give my life, because my life is nothing without them.

Having a child means your heart is no longer yours. It is completely sealed within your children and surprisingly when there is more than one you grow another for them to have. It's why you keep them close. It's why the pain is too great when they get too far. It's why it's hard to breath when you think of them not being here.

Being a mother is trying to ground yourself in the fact that they must go out into the world some day and it's your job to prepare them. When all you want to do is hold on to them forever and guide each decision. I tell myself that although they will be gone one day and it will hurt. Seeing them stand on their own and live their lives on their own accord will be so rewarding.

A mother gets to truly know and understand the miracle of life. Unfortunately your partner just can't fully grasp what it's like to hold the feet of the baby that kicked your ribs in your hand. Your partner doesn't get that the fact your hand patting their bum and the recorded heart beat soothes them because of your own. Your partner doesn't get that feeling that I sacrificed my comfort and self to get you here and I would sacrifice so much more.

A mom is a vessel that carries a child from one world and into this life.

Without going into great detail one day Molly was severally constipated. She was shrieking in pain and hunched over. I knew it was right there, but she just couldn't. The pain it was causing her was heartbreaking, and I could see it on her face she needed help. So without a play by play I helped. There is only one other person in the world I would ever do that for, and her name is Natalie. While someone might gag at the stuff a mother has to do we don't think twice. When it comes to their comfort it far outweighs that of our own.

 Being a mom means you get the most amazingly heart warming satisfaction of being the person who calms in only the way a mother can.

Although we don't have a secret handshake and of course there are cliques motherhood is a club. It's doing all the above and knowing that the other women would too. It's an unspoken bond that we should give each other more credit for than judging each other's approach. It's that knowing glance when a child is in a diaper in the store. The knowing glance while they are dragging behind you with a tight grip of your hand. It's being able to zone out all the other crying kids in the restaurant, because that was your kid last week. It's how our partners think we are crazy when we ask their name and age and compliment them a million times, because we want to know about the love of your life and we want to tell you about ours. It's not being bothered by your 500 pictures of their Easter egg hunt and hoping everyone looks through our own. It's saying "yay, congrats!!!!" when you post that your child just rolled over and is accompanied by an adorable video. Really it's just an awesome understanding that doesn't really need to be said, because it's just known.

To me the greatest thing about being a women is that I get to be the mom. Despite the fact that I never go to the bathroom alone and I have to pry Molly off my leg in the shower. Despite the fact that I can count how many times Adam has woken up at night on one hand. Despite the differences in how your lives change after I still would never give up the role of a mom. There is nothing more challanging, rewarding, gross, and beautiful in this life.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A PG Movie Has Me Rithinking My Parenting Techniques

Not even a very good one. Tonight Adam and I had our usual weekend date night in. This time the movie was Parental Guidance. Really not that good, but cute.

As mindless as it was it really got me thinking. I have obviously been shaken to my core by the toddler years. Attachment parenting was amazingly beautiful when Molly was a baby. For Natalie too, but now she needs more. This wild beast that I love so much needs more.

I was spanked. My grandparents raised their voices but not all the time. To me being yelled at was worse. Sometimes I catch myself in moments and think really Elise? You can't do better? I can. Just not with these tools I think I should be working with. I need some new tools, dang it!

The movie talked a lot about a sort of new age of parenting. Never saying don't or no. The grandparents felt kids needed it, and of course in the end with their tough love the kids were better behaved and all was well. So is this true? Do I forget the idea that I need to be the always calm soft spoken mom or do I learn better techniques to show my unruly toddler boundaries while fostering her independence?

I say the latter. See when Natalie was born it wasn't just bringing a baby home. It was a huge moment in all of our lives for so many reasons. Molly was near two. Natalie was a newborn and we were all adapting to the change. Some things were bound to change. Lessons were learned and I had to learn how to let things roll of my back. Like breastfeeding. That's being a mom. Adapting to the curve balls that you're perfectly unique children bring you. Like going from an angel to a toddler. (ok maybe angel is a bit of an exaggeration)

Most people have so many doubts with their first. Especially in the baby year. I was so opposite. When Molly was a baby I knew I was a good mom. I stood behind every choice and was proud. Now that's she's older the way I thought I would be or need to be just doesn't click for her free spirit. I struggle with feeling like I am a good mother to Natalie, because I don't nurse her. I struggle to feel like I'm a good mom to her when she needs to cry a little longer than Molly ever did. I struggle when I know she's in her swing while I'm with Molly when Molly never even had a swing. I struggle because my free spirited daughter needs more than a hushed voice, but I don't want to use a loud one.

So I've decided to dive deeper into the world of parenting techniques, because I don't want to doubt myself. I know I'm a good mom. If I wasn't I wouldn't even care to learn and grow for the sake of my children. I would be forcing them to grow and bend to me.

As she gets older I will always rely on my AP roots and answer her cries. I will always listen to what she is saying. As I type this she is still snuggled into our bed. Here are some books to help guide me to better nourish her drive for independence while keeping her boundaries firm.

I'm starting with 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan PhD . It came as a recommendation from a wonderful mother I know.

Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child by Robert J. Mackenzie will probably be next if need be.

This will definitely be read whether or not 1-2-3 Magic does the trick. This is The Playful Family by Shawn Ledington Fink. From the description it is about being a more meaningful parent and spend time as a family authentically. Which is something I think we need. You always hear about those awesome families that just sit around and play music and don't even own a TV.

I hope to get book one read soon, but a realistic time frame at this point in my life will be next year. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Getting Fit & My New Healthy Lifestyle

I don't think I've really been happy with my body since before I was married. It doesn't help that four months in I became pregnant with Molly. At that point I was at 150lbs, my heaviest, and at the end up to 192lbs. With her I got huge. Not just my belly, but everywhere. Natalie was a different story. With first trimester sickness I got down to 137lbs. It was a little sad because 135 had been my goal for so long and I knew I was going to lose it so quickly. So I promised myself this time I'd do better, and I did. I gained 24lbs with Natalie. I loved how I looked pregnant this time.

So here I am at 149lbs and not loving how I look. Here is the thing and I know I talk a lot about the role model I want to be and that's because I strongly feel like every parent should be concerned with the role model that they are. So to add to the list of things I don't want to be. I don't want to be the type of girl that always complains about how I look. Little kids pick up on more than you think. They hear you say how fat you are. They notice you pinching and pulling at your fat and looking down on yourself in the mirror. I don't want my daughter's to be those girls so I can't be that girl.

I don't want to be super skinny. I don't want to compare myself to all the other girls and long for what they have, because so many times they hate what they have too. I want to be the best me. Curves, saggy boobs, and all. I want to be healthy and I want to be fit.

 I go from thinking I need to lose weight and get in shape to thinking I'm too hard on myself and I should be happy the way I am. I tell myself I don't look like I did four years ago, but I'm not who I was four years ago. Here is the thing, those are excuses I am feeding myself to make me feel like it's ok to live and eat the way I do. The hard part is breaking through that wall and I should have no excuses. I've overcome way more difficult things in my life than losing 10lbs. So the problem is laziness and it has to stop.

I've made some big changes these past weeks. Huge for me, because I am a junk food queen. I love all sweets and fast food. I can already feel a difference, and not because I can see a difference already. I can feel a difference, and not just because I am eating better, but because I am making positive choices for myself all around.

Last Friday I started the Jillian Michael's 30 day shred. I love it! It is so easy to do every day, because it's only twenty minutes of my time. I feel it and by the end I am sweating and warn down in just those twenty minutes. Along with that I am taking her cleanse and burn supplements. It's a 14 day pill system. I am still on the cleanse and detox pills. Not sure what the difference is yet.

As far as eating I started off with the Special K challenge. Two meal replacements and two snacks with one normal meal. I was starving, and I can't do this the rest of my life. So some very health  conscious and intelligent girls in my fitness group advised me that the best way to lose weight is slowly and making changes you can live with. So my new plan is to use the Special K breakfast shake and cereal in a rotation. Although the past two days I've just had a banana with all natural peanut butter because we've been sleeping in.

For lunch I am rotating these three meals. A turkey dog on natural whole wheat bread and cottage cheese. A salad with cranberries and almonds and light raspberry vinaigrette and cottage cheese. A peanut butter (smuckers all natural) and jelly sandwich with special K cracker chips.

For smack I have bananas or apples. My other options are special k cracker chips, special k pastry delights, special k granola bars, and calorie right bites chocolate chip cookies. To replace Coke I've been drinking Cherry Coke Zero. It's really not bad.

So here I am in all my glory. My goals are to continue with my healthier diet plan, but not beat myself up when I indulge every now and then. Also to keep up with my exercise. Next time I post a picture like this I hope to look a lot different! (or at least a little)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Potty Trained: child led and how it went down

I hate to think when I say my almost two (21 month old) is fully potty trained that people assume it was forced. Trust me we did not make her sit on her potty. She did not get in trouble for not going on the potty. Truthfully even with two in diapers potty training was not something I was looking forward to. I won't lie that I am slightly lazy. However Molly had other plans and potty training kind of fell into our laps.
It started at about 15 months when other moms I knew were buying potties to softly introduce. We went ahead and bought one too. There was never any making her sit down. She went on the potty the first time we got it out and we cheered and made a big deal over it. I swear you can teach this girl anything by clapping for her. Girl loves an audience.
A month went by and she would go any time we mentioned it without having to sit there for awhile. At this point it wasn't something I wanted to pursue 1) laziness and 2) Natalie was coming and I didn't want her to regress after her birth. So we just kind of let Molly take it where she wanted to.
Molly is a total nudist. She loves to be naked. As you can imagine that can be a little tough at her age. So about two weeks into her new naked craze she learned not to go on the floor. She would pee every single time and would hold poop till she had clothes on.
Once Natalie came home I figured that would be the true test if we would keep going or put a hold on it. A lot of kids will regress or want bottles and such but Molly seemed to want to set herself apart. Like she was the big girl and she could do all these things. Maybe because we would go on and on about how cool it was that she was so big and could do things and Natalie was so little. Who knows.
So then at 19 months she really got into the potty. She would tell us every time she had to pee and would sometimes pull her pants down herself. So I went ahead and bought pull ups. Not sure if I would recommend these or not. I think the best thing to do is really wait till they are ready and go to underwear. The reason being pull ups made her lazy. She would still have pees in pull ups, because she knew she could.
So this past week I told Adam no more pull ups. If she could stay dry the entire time with nothing on she could learn underwear. So we cut her off the pull ups and it took two days I would say till it really clicked.
Being out and about she really liked the big potty. Holding her over a potty is not the funnest thing in the world so I went ahead and got a potty ring and step stool. Now she pulls down her pants climbs up and down without even needing to tell us. We go everywhere in underwear and she sleeps naps and night time in underwear. It's kind of a trip to walk down the hall and catch her in the bathroom like this.
Before the potty ring she really didn't like to poop on the potty, but for some reason she has no problem going now. She had one poop accident since this potty and once she tried it the next time she hasn't had problems not wanting to go on it since.
It seems so weird, because I really did not expect for her to be potty trained at this point in time. It really was not something I had on my radar until two and a half maybe. This girl is fiercely independent though and she loves encouragement. I really feel like those two things play a big part in why she did it at this age.
I'm glad that we were able to keep this child led and that she didn't feel pressured to do so. I think readiness is so important when it comes to potty training your child. It's a huge step and a lot of dedication. As much as I don't miss buying diapers I do miss how easy long trips and the like were.
So here is our list of potty training items. Not that I'm some expert, because keep in mind this is the only potty training I have done as a parent.

This is the Summer Infant Step-By-Step Potty Trainer. It was a good first potty. We never put toilet paper on because that would be a nightmare. The wipes last about five seconds in the back so that didn't last long either. All in all it worked well. The only complaint is that it says you can use the soft ring on a regular toilet, but I think it's pretty small. Unless you toilet is smaller than average. It slid around and one time Molly fell in. Which was kind of funny and luckily funny to her too.

I bought this Sesame Street Potty And Step Stool Combo  when we realized she no longer wanted to be on her little potty. It doesn't have the best reviews, but I think it works great. It's a bit of an eye sore, but she loves that it's Elmo and for some reason thinks Oscar The Grouch is her dad. I also like that the step stool has grippers on the bottom so it doesn't slide. She can get on and off the potty by herself and she is pretty petite. I really think this option is probably a better first step. Not all kids are the same, but Molly finally started to poop on the potty every time with this. She likes to grip the handles for leverage.

I used this potty chart for about a week. We stopped because she liked going regardless and I ran out of stickers. She found my stash and stuck them everywhere. So that was that. It's a free down loadable chart and comes in boys and girls. It was really cute and she did like to stick her sticker on it. At each lollipop they get a treat. I think anyways. That's what I assumed.

This is mainly a recommendation if you have a child who is younger than average potty training age or just smaller. Which Molly is both. We use the Fruit Of The Loom undies. We got all of hers at Walmart for a little over $5 for a six pack. She also has a set of Hello Kitty ones. Those are her favorite, of course. I tried to go a little cheaper Faded Glory pack so we could have more and they are swimming on her. This is all in the 2T-3T size range.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A New Leaf

Every women has an idea in her head of the mother she will be the second she sees those lines pop up. You can't help but start to day dream about all the things that will soon come to be. What convictions you will stand by. What will roll off your back. What techniques you believe in. Every soon to be mom has a mile long list of things they will never do and their child will never do. Then you bring home your baby and real quick your list dwindles down to the sole I will never.

1. I will never say I will never again.

I remember when I was pregnant I was so huge on having no battery operated toys. My family would always laugh that Molly was going to have to entertain herself with a stick. I can't take a step without something going off. Not that it matters much now, but Molly was cloth diapered for her first year. Now she is usually in underwear or butt naked. Natalie was never cloth diapered. With Molly we did baby led weaning. (skipping purees and going straight to solids) Natalie is not even three months and I am already thinking about how easy twisting off a jar lid looks when the time comes.

As time passes it's not that all my convictions of motherhood have gone. I still stand by the basis. I love attachment parenting. I 100% believe in co sleeping and baby wearing and breastfeeding even though I no longer am.

 Still there is so much that I thought I would do or be that has flown out the window. Whether it be that it didn't work the way I thought or it wasn't for the child I have or the fact that time is no longer on my side.

We all have expectations of who we will be when our baby comes into our lives. It's easy to have your ideas set to something specific, but the problem with that is that babies and children fit no mold. You can have any idea you want, but your child may have a completely different idea, personality, or need.

I still stand by research, preparation, and having parental goals. Here is what I no longer stand by. Feeling like a failure because I don't fit the mold I thought I would.

It came to me through several comments and some deep thinking. I'm not a bad mom and I shouldn't be hard on myself. I have set an insanely high standard for myself that not even my children expect of me. They want love, shelter, food, and everything else is just fluff. We don't need to do a daily craft. It's ok that my iPad has probably taught her more things than I have. It's ok that some days there is way too much CSI going on in the background. It's ok that her first combined words were chicken nugget.

They never go to bed feeling unloved. That above all tells me I'm doing this right. The thing is setting this unattainable standard isn't making me strive for more. It's making me crack under pressure.

So I'm throwing out my ideas of the perfect mom, and I'm making up my mind that the perfect mom is the one I see in the mirror. Not just because I don't want the pressure, but because I don't want to teach my girls to put that kind of pressure on themselves. They don't need to be perfect. They need to be who they are and they need to be ok with it. They need to know that doing your best is good enough and it doesn't matter what you see everyone else doing. You don't know how that seemingly perfect person feels about themselves anyway. So this isn't just for me. It's so I can be the kind of role model I want to be. If there is one thing I knew then and still know now it's that if there is something I couldn't do for myself I know two people I can always do it for easy.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bad Mom Blues

With the past couple days I've come to realize that I am maybe not in the best place right now. It really has nothing to do with breastfeeding. Ok maybe it's hidden in there somewhere. On a good note I feel like I've come to accept it.

I think as a person I am someone who gets down on myself a lot. For instance I literally just stepped in cat puke and thought to myself why can't you do anything right. Yeah because that really has anything to do with my ability as a person. I've been that way since I was little. I would fall outside and just go back in thinking how stupid I am. So as you can imagine I struggle with this daily as a mom.

I've had the feeling for a while now that I don't do enough of the things I should do and too much of the things I shouldn't. In my heart I want to make changes. Big changes. The kind of changes that go against what is now the norm in society. I don't want my iPhone distracting me. I don't want cable to plop down in front of. I don't want to be so connected to outside things that really don't matter. That's what I want in my heart, and in my mind I know it would probably solve most of my self doubt as a mother.

I want to be that family that doesn't even own a TV or has it in some remote part of the house. I want to be the mom that does activities and special things all the time. The mom that is available the majority of the time. I feel like I fail at that. I feel like I'm so distracted. Sometimes I look at Molly and wonder what she thinks of me. What does she love and what does she wish would change?

There are a couple things that have led me into this little dark period. One the past week when she cries it's for dad. This morning she woke up crying and went and banged on his bathroom door and cried for him. I went to her and told her daddy is at work and tried to hug her. She ran. Heart broken.

I feel like I am here all the time. I make her meals, bathe her, and do all of the care. He comes home for three hours tops before bed. He rides in through the garage door on a white horse and then I go make dinner. My role in her eyes is lame. That's the thing though. I'm here through the thick of it. I let things distract me because...I don't know. I don't take advantage of all the time I have to make it count.

Second her age appropriate behaviors are making me feel like a failure. I don't discipline the way I wanted to. I'm not as soft as I'd hoped. I want to be soft spoken. Not that I yell all the time. I do raise my voice. Even when I mask the way she is making me feel it's the fact that I feel it.

Third reason was this morning I went to get her some milk. She quieted down so I went to her bedroom to check on her. She was just laying there awake. So I laid down next to her. She cuddled into me and my heart felt better about the episode of her not wanting me and only dad. We laid there for awhile. Then Natalie started to cry. I felt so torn between needing to be with Molly who may not have been crying, but I could feel she needed me. Then Natalie who was ready to be up and needed a bottle. It's those impossible decisions. I feel like Natalie always wins out because of her age, and that makes me sad for Molly who is still so young. The life of a mother of two so young. Or two at all maybe.

My answer is that I need to be two people, but I can't. I'm just me. Verdict is still out on whether that is good enough.

Hopefully with better weather coming I get a better outlook on myself. Hopefully I can make the changes I need to make and be the mom I know I want to be and stop doubting whether or not I have it in me.