Monday, June 30, 2014

A New Rhythm

Something I learned right away when I was on maternity leave was that being a SAHM was WAY harder than working outside the home. At least for me it was. I have nothing but respect for those women who stay home. My hat is off to you!

Although it is not a choice for us for financial reasons, I enjoy being a working mother most of the time.  It is something that is really important to me as a part of my identity, and I think also helps me to be a balanced person. I'm lucky that I am in a profession that allows me time off for summer, and two other longish school breaks during the year. In a way, I get the best of both worlds. I get to pursue my career, and still have stretches of time that are devoted to my boy.

But, I must admit, I got nervous as summer approached. I think whenever I realize I am going to be home full time, I flash back to how hard LF's infant days were. Now, he is no longer an infant, but the change in routine always throws me for a loop for a while. I know that as a mother I am supposed to want to spend every moment with my kid, but I'll say it: sometimes it makes me anxious. It is no secret I am not the world's most confident mother, and being someone who THRIVES on routine and predictability doesn't exactly make me excited for big changes. But, as the season got started, I have to say I'm really enjoying the copious amounts of time LF and I are spending together.

In the last few weeks, I have really started to see some things I miss while I'm in my classroom. I'm almost embarrassed to say, I've learned a lot about him in a short time, that I didn't know before. I mean, when our time together is limited to a couple of hours in the afternoon and weekends, you miss some things.

Good thing I'm a fast learner. I've learned how to head off some major tantrums (who knew holding the bubble wand could cause this?), what time he gets antsy to get out of the house, and how he needed to be taught how to play in sand among other things. I've watched him gain confidence on the playground and noticed he is picking up vocabulary at an astonishing rate. But, if I wasn't home to hear him mimic me, or help him climb a ladder structure, I would miss it. It just isn't the same as being filled in by his grandparents at the end of a long work day.

What makes me heart squeeze even more is the growth in attachment and bond we've had since mid-June. I mean, he always prefers KG and I to everyone else, and he always gives kisses and hugs. But, lately, there is just a deeper bond between us. He will more openly seek me out when he falls, calls my name from the back seat, plays a new game of jumping in my lap, and eagerly rubs noses before bed. It is a subtle difference, but it is there. I know some of you might be thinking, "So what? He's your baby? Don't all babies do that?" Well, LF isn't the most cuddly of all kids and is in CONSTANT motion. I feel very special when this kid chooses me to be his most sweet self with.

There is also a level of sadness to this: will the closeness decrease when I return to work in September? Will he remember all our afternoons taking walks in our new neighborhood? Will he still ask for me during the day, when I'm not his primary weekday caregiver? I'm feeling some serious guilt here that so much of this information about LF is new to me.

Do you have some working mom guilt?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Picky or problem?

I visited a friend with a newborn the other day and we discussed the feeling of isolation that can come when you are home with a baby. The demands, the worries, the sleep deprivation, and the lack of social contact are intense on those first months, and I was lending support with as much listening (okay, and some advice) as I could. What I didn't want to tell her is that there are still moments when you have that overwhelming alone feeling.

I have some friends who know this feeling well. For whatever reason, your child may have an issue that puts them outside of the norm in one way or another. For some children, this is a more substantial challenge (like an obvious medical or developmental issue) and for others it may be something more subtle. Although the subtle issues with children may not be life threatening, they can still throw us newbie parents for a loop.

Lately, the issue that is making me feel alone and worried is LF's picky eating.

I should say first that LF has an incredibly stubborn (I mean independent! Assertive! Intelligent!) personality and this finickiness affects not only his food choices but also his choices about which room he plays in, which books he reads, whether he wants to go inside or outside, which direction we walk on the street, etc. The boy has an opinion about nearly everything. You also may remember that the beginning of his eating career did not go smoothly (breastfeeding disasters, medicated reflux until 9 months, and an unenthusiastic transition to solid foods).

Since we started solids, he has never been a kid to dive in head first with foods. He is very cautious about new foods in general. However, he used to eventually try something and add to his repertoire, even if it wasn't kale and quinoa. More like meatballs and chicken nuggets. I even have photographic evidence of him enjoying messy foods like pasta bolognese, which he currently won't touch. Now, it is rare for us to get him to try and like a new food, and even more rare for him to like something multiple times, and not just once. But, what has me most concerned is that over time, the number of foods he will eat has actually decreased. Foods he used to enjoy he is now refusing and the number of foods consumed overall is quite small. When I Google "toddler food ideas" I know instantly that he will refuse almost all of them. I am beginning to think his picky eating is now morphong into "problem eating."

But, it is really hard for me to tell what is a real issue with food, and what is he taking as an opportunity to assert his independence. I admit it - I get upset when he lets food fall out of his mouth or throws it on the floor. I get mad when he refuses things I know he likes, even when he is so hungry that he is going nuts. Sometimes I am more successful at being casual about all of that, and sometimes I lose it. But, he doesn't just do this with me. He also is difficult with his grandparents (who are his main caregivers during the school year) and his father. He can sometimes surprise us in social situations, but at home it seems to be the worst.

Then there is that alone part. It comes in when I see other mothers able to easily hand their child a sandwich, which is then quickly devoured. Or, when I talk about this issue with someone who responds with, "My child will eat anything!! I can't keep enough food in the house!" I know every child has *some* issue they are dealing with - sleep, behavior, whatever. This just happens to be LF's.

But, I just feel like there is something I am doing wrong with LF that is making him so difficult at meal times. All I know is that something needs to change.

Am I creating a monster and having my emotion feed into his control issues? Or is there a real issue to push with my pediatrician? (We've discussed his pickiness before and they never seem very concerned.)

What parenting issue made you feel alone?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One among many

I've been reading many blog posts (like Cristy's) about being absent from blogs. About feeling detached from the places that we used to find so important and personal.  About being unsure about what is "okay" to post. About what would alienate those still working on becoming a mom.

This post joins many others on the same topic.

I'm struggling to reconnect and find my blogging voice again. I want very deeply to express all that has happened since December: all my thoughts on how I'm evolving as a person and as a parent, the current status of my infertility, and thoughts about the future. But, there is something that always stands in my way of posting.

When I think about how long it has been since I've blogged, I am deeply embarrassed. How could I let nearly 6 months go by? How could this place which was my saving grace for so long become so neglected?

Every time I find a few minutes to sit down and write, I am hit with some nagging negative thoughts. Have I have lost all my readers? Do I still have something important to say? Does writing about my clever, independent, funny, and stubborn toddler have a place in this blog?

I'm still following many of you who made the transition to motherhood (in whatever way worked), and many who are still in the trenches. You are doing it - you are writing in a way that acknowledges both sides of your readership. It can be done. I am just trying to convince myself that I can still be relevant to my original readers, as well as perhaps some new ones.

There is only one way for me to make my return to blogging. To start writing, and start becoming a part of the conversation on your blogs as well.

I think some revamps to my blog's design might also help the investment factor. I had a friend do the original template, but I think I need a new look. However, I was born without the pinterest gene and have no idea where to start.

So let's start with a question: do you do your own blog design? How do you get inspired? What resources do you use?