Monday, December 29, 2008

More of the Unexpected

Before V came along, I could never have imagined how sweet and fun she is. I would never have been able to know how she loves to connect with giant hugs and kisses, how she clicks her tongue to try to get me to play noise games with her, or how she clucks and squeals with excitement when she sees any animal. Before they are born, our children are always a mystery and getting to know them is a wonderful surprise.

Yet, as the mother of two other girls, I thought I knew a few things about parenting. Okay, I will confess. I thought I was getting pretty good at it. Ah, hubris is always the beginning of an interesting story.

I thought that if I did the same things that I had learned through parenting my two other kids, everything would work out. I would cosleep without the illusion that a crib would ever be part of our lives (we sold it while I was pregnant!). I would wear my baby in the variety of slings and carriers that I have collected for every occasion. I would be an emotion-coaching, attachment-parenting, homeschooling uber-mama.

After all, I had a first child who was a lot of work for me. I struggled with decisions about how to parent, sleep, breastfeeding, discipline, and educational choices. My second child was certainly plenty of work, but many things were easier. Breastfeeding worked marvelously. She slept though the night, swaddled in a little bundle. She is happily homeschooling and responds for the most part to my new and improved (and since I am always learning, always new and improving) methods of discipline. The kids were getting along well. We had our education and social routines in place. Things were groovy. What did I have to fear by adding another child?

Ha! The gods laughed at me by giving us the gift of a beautiful, healthy, sweet baby who cried from midnight to 6 a.m. for several weeks. I failed to produce enough milk and many, many challenges flowed from that problem. Even now, no matter how cute she is, she nurses an awful lot at night and I can't remember my last decent night of sleep. She wants up and down from the backpack several times each quarter hour. And she is currently enjoying one of my least favorite aspects of her development - the point and scream. She yells, "THAT!" which is her way of demanding whatever strikes her fancy. While I am blessed with a verbal, communicative, and persistent child, it means that she keeps screaming at me even when I calmly explain why she can't have the razor blades and poison and try to distract her. And this again falls under the proverbial category of "not what I expected."

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This from G to Eric this morning: "Accidentally, your alarm clock flew off the dresser, and then it broke, and Mommy put the battery back in, so it works again, but you need to reset it."

She was so deliberate about not accepting responsiblity for any of it. It all just happened. Yet, rather than hiding it, she carefully brought the alarm clock to our attention so that we could address the problem.

It reminds me that there is a difference between blame and ownership. And it's difficult for me to know where to draw that line sometimes. We want our kids to learn to own up to their responsibilities. But I worry that blame will not help them do that. I know that when I receive the criticism-laden blame, I have a harder time facing up to my part in whatever disaster requires my attention. Why should I expect anything different of people with fewer tools to cope with difficult situations?

It's just a reminder of what I can learn if I really listen to my kids, which can be hard considering they are often all yacking at me at the same time!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


The big sisters in our house are finally old enough to really appreciate Santa Claus, old enough to watch the holiday specials with me on TV without being too anxious about the conflict, old enough to imagine Santa as a comforting, kind man rather than an oddly dressed stranger.

Still, as we were settling for bed, G worried. "He's not going to come into our bedroom, is he?"

Friday, December 19, 2008

G on Weaning

"I think that you are too old for mommy milk when you are five...or maybe fifteen."


Since becoming a mother, my life has been overcome by interruptions. Some big interruptions, like that of my career, have overwhelmed me. Some persistent interruptions - I wonder when I will get a full night of sleep again. Some annoying interruptions, which make me feel like I live with a cacophonous flock of Blue Jays.

Today our routine was interrupted by snow. In the Puget Sound, because of the lack of infrastructure to support transporation on snowy days, and because of the lack of experience with urban snow, a snow day is a true disruption. The whole area was paralyzed by slippery roads. Yet, it was a complete pleasure to throw aside the otherwise exciting plans we had in mind, in order to take some time to sled and play.

I guess interruptions need not be viewed as a bad thing.