Monday, May 30, 2011

What Your Child Wants

Wow, I just realized that if this had been the title of a well written book, it'd be a best seller :). And not because I'm such a title genius, but because this is the question every parent asks every single day: what on earth does this kid want??

It's wonderful to learn some things that work - like favorite healthy (or at least not too unhealthy) foods, distractions most likely to stop tantrums, etc. But, several times in 24 hours, I find myself wondering what exactly goes into my daughter's head. Why did she seem to be crying for the ball, but now that I got it for her, she acts as if I've offended her. Why does she whine and shake her arms around the house, refusing to be comforted, fed or played with. Granted, this doesn't happen all the time - she's usually a very sweet kid, but sometimes, she's just annoyed. Period. It's like she REALLY wants something and is REALLY upset she just doesn't know how to tell me.

It doesn't help that the last few days I haven't been feeling my best (but that's a subject for another post). Yesterday was horrible, since I was a zombie half the day and Melissa puked twice (which she hadn't done in awhile). So today, I just decided to throw all expectation through the window and just take each minute - no, each second - as they came. Melissa threw her food on the floor? Okay, now I'm going to pick it up and the next second we're going to figure out what to do about her. No need having an emotional breakdown over this. Even though of course it's the first impulse to do so.

NOT saying at all that I haven't had any "aaaaaargh!!" moments (and the day's not over yet), but I've noticed I've been smiling a lot more. I think Melissa's noticing too. She's been less whiny, and when she does whine, it doesn't last nearly as long. I feel like we've bonded even more - she gave me little kissies in both cheeks! I don't think she'd ever kissed my cheeks (aside from a lick when she was younger :).

So anyway, this has brought me to my latest "aha" moment:

More than the right food, toy, game, etc, children want us to have a good attitude.

Of course they don't KNOW they want that, but in the end, they just want mommy and daddy to be happy with them, and around them. Our stress gives them stress. Which adds to the pressure for us to be in our best behavior around them, but I've realized it's for my own good. If I don't want my child to have a negative attitude, then I should not have one. It sounds so simple, yet it is SO hard, isn't it??

Try this today. Don't sweat the small stuff. Your life will not end if the carpet is dirty (trust me, I know!). Neither it will if the child is dirty, or if her feeding schedule isn't immaculate. I think we can do a lot more things right if we stop stressing out about doing them JUST right. That's a sure way of making a cranky mommy - and in the end, a cranky baby.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Never Thought I'd Say This: I Miss Breastfeeding

<- A year ago, I was SO excited when this started. Now I am...not.

I miss it when I could quiet Melissa instantly.

I miss it when she was too little to get away from me, or to do too much damage.

I miss not stressing out about preparing her meals (and worrying if she'll even eat it, or if it will end up on the floor or - most likely - both).

I miss being able to call my baby a baby.

But really, the thing I miss the most is the assurance that she's receiving all the nutrients she needs. I know, I sound like a Gerber commercial :), but it's a real worry of mine. I don't even know how she can be my daughter if she barely eats any meat! She'll only take cheeseburger pieces (bun, cheese & meat), but if we offer beef or chicken or you name it by itself, she won't have it.

My hope everyday is to make her have enough yogurt, cheese and Nutella & wheat bread sandwiches to give her some protein. I also haven't weaned her off of the pureed baby foods (though her doctor said I should) because that's the only way she'll ever eat veggies like sweet potatoes and corn. By the way, these are the ONLY veggies she'll take. At least she does like my V8 Juice (which is a fruit and vegetables combination). Too bad it makes her puke occasionally.

I've tried eggs, egg whites, ham (which she liked for a bit and now declared death to it), fish... I can't believe I gave birth to a vegetarian! Hopefully this is like when I offered her chocolate cake for the 1st time on her birthday and she hated it, but now she's definitely pro-chocolate (if I don't hide them, she even figures out how to unwrap 'em by herself). Whew. For a moment I thought we'd brought home the wrong baby.

So, anyone out there with toddler eating concerns? Tired of cleaning up their mess (because she will NOT let me feed her anymore) and changing them several times a day? Please send your advice and commiseration!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

As a Mom, I Wonder...

<- What goes on into this cute little head?

I never liked to put up a front of "super mommy". If somebody reading this ever thought I did, it was completely unintentional. And I'm flattered you thought so :).

As hard as it is to be a parent, I think it's even harder to try to look like you're perfect at it. Or to even believe there is such a thing as the "perfect" way to parent. That said, please don't judge me when I reveal some of my own questionings.

Do toddlers NEED pajamas?
First let's define what pajamas would be. Comfortable clothes? But isn't that what she's supposed to wear all the time anyway? Or what, is she supposed to wear a tutu during the day? So my only way out of this dilemma is to put her in jeans when we go out (with a cute girly top, of course). At home, she lives in pajamas. Whatever that means.

Why is TV the Devil?
I don't understand. I know we're not supposed to just leave 'em in front of it and play with them as much as we physically can, but eventually, I'll wear out. If I had a full time job, it'd be required by law that I take a break every so often. Why doesn't the same thing apply to stay-at-home moms?? And sometimes, if you don't turn on the Wiggles, your child is NEVER going to let you take that break.

How Much of a Germaphobe Should I Be?
When our babies are small, you want to wash the world around her with boiling water. But at 18 months, honestly, I've lost hope. If I were to freak out with everything she sticks in her mouth, I'd live in a constant state of alarm. Now that I think about it, I kinda do.

How do I know She's REALLY a Prodigy?
Melissa is fascinated with music and singing. She's also unusually (I think, since I never had another kid) nice and polite. She says "please" and "thank you" for almost everything, and I don't think I even seen her mad at a playmate, ever. She might get mad at us if she doesn't get her way, but whenever a friend throws a fit, she just looks confused, like it's not in her genetic make up to fight. Okay, I already know the answer to this question (of course she is :).

How do I know I'm REALLY Doing it Right?
I think every parent asks themselves that. I know she's happy because of her constant jumping and dancing, the huggies & kisses she gives me, and how often she wants to snuggle. But if a child specialist came over to evaluate my performance, I'm afraid I'd fail. This suspicion haunts me whenever she falls from one of her crazy climbs, or I think I've broken her heart forever because I was writing when she wanted me to chase her. It's SO hard to feel like you've done it right ALL day. So I just hold on to the fact that she's happy. And that's all the matters, right?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Do The Write Thing

<-Picture my friend Jen took on her phone after I told her the content of this post (please ignore the paleness :).

I think most bloggers are aspiring writers. Or at least just like it as a hobby, which I wish was my case sometimes. That way I could concentrate all of my writing energy here and create amazing posts nearly everyday. And this blog is such an amazing outlet for me to vent about motherhood that I never want to abandon it.

But the thing is, when I have an idea for a story, that's ALL I think about. I have to convince myself to stop obsessing over it long enough for me to sleep. And it's even harder not to use every single free minute on it, which can ultimately wear your mind out until you can't write anymore. But you're still addicted, so you end up just staring at the screen a lot.

This is the first time I'm ever mentioning my writing struggles on this blog, so I think this is progress. I just figured that instead of disappearing whenever I'm immersed into a new project, I could just be honest about it. Maybe this will encourage some other writing-addict out there. Who knows.

I also always thought that I'd have to be published to be comfortable telling people I actually write. But you see, turns out in September, I'll be attending this awesome American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis, so I think I should get used to it. There, I'll need to be able to sell what I wrote and know how to talk about it. I still don't want to reveal my newest plot here (still developing it!), but at least I'm confessing my addiction. I write. What's yours?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Amnesia

<- Outside of IHOP looking springy :).

I cannot believe I have no recollection of last year's Mother's Day. Melissa was already sleeping through the night by then, so I don't have the sleep deprivation excuse. I just have the too-focused-on-the-new-baby-to-notice-anything-else one.

BUT this year I guarantee you I'll remember for a long time. You can ask me next year. I ate what felt like an entire cow at IHOP and Melissa didn't fuss, then I went shopping at the mall BY MYSELF. All the while - wait for it - WEARING A DRESS. I didn't know I could break so many records in one afternoon.

Now that I think about it, this is the description of my Mother's Day Eve - the day itself I might forget. Maybe because as wonderful as the eve was, it involved an insane amount of walking (and several hours of Melissa-watching for daddy), resulting in both of us completely wiped out on the day we were actually supposed to celebrate. But that's okay because we had church (which, with Melissa in the nursery for 1 hour and half, is like a date) and later in the day Melissa's long lost brother (Daniel, the boy I watched for about a week while my friend worked) came over. It might sound like 2 kids 2 and under would be more exhausting than 1, but not necessarily. They entertain each other pretty nicely. Now Melissa's having withdraws and being needier and fussier than ever.

So sorry if this post (or my last few posts) are all over the place, but this is what my life feels like lately. I'm exhausted at the end of everyday and am not sure what exactly I got done. At least I'm happy to report our place is presentable on a regular basis (another record!) and Melissa's is getting lots of play time (like in a few minutes, another friend will arrive with her girl). So considering the loss of my brain cells ever since she was born, I'm getting a lot done!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Too Much Mom Tuesday: Have You Arrived?

<- There's no perfect stop! :)

I guess my last post could've been a "Too Much Mom" post, couldn't it? I talked much more about style than motherhood (even though it was somehow related). But today I want to talk about something that I think everyone could relate to, mothers or not.

Do you ever feel like you've "arrived"? Do you have those moments that you think, "I'm living the dream"? Not to say that you ever fully arrive - there's always something else to achieve, thank God. Or else life would become boring.

But I'm talking about the other extreme. About restlessness, and feeling uncomfortable in your own shoes. Do you ever feel proud of yourself? You know, you should. I'm 100% positive that everyone reading this has grown in some point of their lives, and has something now that seemed like a distant possibility in the past.

I mention this because I have come to the conclusion that this restless feeling never fully goes away. Some of my non-mommy friends might look at me as if I have arrived and they haven't. But I look at them thinking of how they don't need the pounds of concealer I wear under my eyes, and how they can just go anywhere anytime. I also have single friends who might get the idea that having a family means everyday is a fairytale. Trust me, life is NEVER perfect. And if you're not content now, a husband and a kid won't make any difference (as much as it might seem like it would).

The people closest to me know that I've always had to work on being content. It becomes a habit to only see what didn't work out - even if it's minimal - rather than what did. And then that seems to start a domino effect, making everything else fall apart too. You know how some days when you drop something on the floor, and then it keeps happening again and again?

It's the same with our attitude. A crappy thought attracts more crappy, self-loathing thoughts, until you've successfully spoiled everything you had going for yourself. And what you didn't, well, you're too crappy to notice. It hasn't been that long since I've realized this, and it's made a world of difference since then. I watch my thoughts like a hawk. Not that I've ever arrived - of course not :) - but I've come a long way from allowing one bad moment or one thing that I don't have to keep me from enjoying what's around me.

I'm sure each of you live pretty fabulous lives and don't even know it. For a second, don't think about what you want to achieve; think about how much you wanted what you have right now. That diploma, that job, that child or that independence. If you really think about it, you know you got it going on :).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

There's No Place Like The Mall

<- Okay, these aren't exactly Dorothy's shoes, but don't they look like they'd take you somewhere magical?

This has been a very, very important weekend for me, style wise. You see, ever since I had a baby, I wasn't sure exactly what it was. Geez, now that I think about it, even before my pregnancy. After college, I went through an illumination period when I defined exactly what I wanted (doll-like shoes/accessories, and beaded everything), so shopping was a breeze. I was getting compliments for what I wore for the first time, and even a lot of "wow, you're dressing way better" - as in, you sucked before. Which I was much more grateful for than offended.

But ever since becoming a married lady, and eventually a mother, my college-like apparel didn't really seem to fit. I mean, literally. But even mentally - I didn't identity with the "little girl" look anymore, but at the same time didn't want to look too old. This led me to many strictly functional trips to Target, when I'd just buy whatever covered me with a v-neck (to avoid looking any rounder). It was (or it's been) a dark age for me fashion-wise, but I was too distracted with marriage and childbearing to give it much thought.

Now, that Melissa's an independent toddler, I finally looked at myself in the mirror and realized I had no idea if I liked what I saw. There was no piece of clothing that I really took pride on, and no intentional look of any sort. I simply covered myself. How sad is that?

So one sweet day, I stumbled upon a few coupons for Kohl's and Payless, and that gave me the perfect excuse to go shopping. What husband can argue with coupons, right? So after couple of wonderful hours with partner in crime Jen (who had her own post-baby fashion emergency), I purchased not one, but two summer dresses! This might seem silly, but those who know me know what a progress this is for me. I'm a jeans girl, so to be able to say I'm wearing a flowery dress as I type is the sign of a new era.

Well, the next day after that, it was time to spend my Payless coupon! I planned on just getting some basic brown sandals for my dresses, but could not resist when I saw those shoes. I tried them on just for fun (since I have zero things to wear them with), and couldn't not take them.

I hope I'm not boring you all with my shopping adventures, but the point of this post is that I think - hope - I've found my post-baby style. It involves cute flats (for baby chasing), ruffles (for belly hiding) and yes, even dresses. Because twirling happens to be one of the best ways to entertain a child.

And speaking of whom, I'm so glad to see her following in my footsteps :).