My little guy had a rather mind blowing experience this week. He was with me while I was changing his sister when a look of great concern washed over his face. He soberly asked me where his sister’s penis was. I explained to him that his sister was a girl, she didn’t have a penis. He then asked me if I had one, to which I responded no, but daddy did. Mommy was a girl and daddy was a boy. My poor little guy didn’t look too thrilled by this news, and sat for a few minutes thinking about this as I finished up.
Use Proper Body Part Names
Using the proper name for my little guy’s gizmo was the first step in his learning about gender. It was unavoidable to talk about. We had to talk about not touching it during diaper changes. I had to reassure him that it wasn’t yucky, but the stuff in his diaper was. We also discussed that public places were not places to try to bring it out or talk about it.
I expect that I’ll be having many similar conversations with his sister.
Everyone who has pets before having children may find themselves getting nervous as the day they need to introduce their pet to their new baby grows closer. The good news is that cats and babies can absolutely get along, even if your cat is suddenly angry to find out he or she is no longer the center of your world. There isn’t a way to sit down and tell your cat, “Look, soon, a tiny, screaming primate will move into your territory and it will be unlike anything either of us has ever experienced before,” but making a few preparations beforehand can hopefully smooth the transition for everyone.
I’ll admit to being an article junkie. This past month I have been reading a lot of lists regarding the year 2014. A couple of them have been about baby names. Now I know I have no say in what another parent names their child, but I have been shocked at some of the names some of these little ones will have to endure until they are old enough to change them.
A Matter Of Point Of Veiw
Perhaps some people were taught to make their child’s name stand out. They want their child’s name to be unique or mean something special. I get that. There are spiritual names or names that denote a sense of love (like Precious). A name can connect a child to their family by being named for a beloved family member as well as the culture they come from. Then there are children that, it seems receive a name as some sort of practical joke.
My point of view is that a child’s name is the first gift that we as parent’s give them.
Lately I have been taking a page out of my pediatrician’s book. Unless it’s an emergency, the office of mommy is closed from ten at night until six in the morning. My hours are better than my pediatrician, but that doesn’t seem to impress my toddler.
But Moms Don’t Have Office Hours!
I know. When I was a child I certainly didn’t think so. As it turns out I was wrong. Even with my mother there were office hours. That was the reason there was a bedtime. Do you ever get frustrated that your children not going to be on time? You are trying not to rip your hair out as they go to the bathroom for the sixteenth time while getting their seventeenth cup of water.
We know that our children need sleep, we know that your schedule will be demolished, and we know that much needed child free time is slipping away. Soon we will have to go to bed ourselves. That is if the bathroom/ drink cycle doesn’t go late into the night. That is if they don’t try to climb in bed with us. Soon, regardless of our beliefs, we find ourselves praying our children will let us get some sleep tonight.
The problem is not that we don’t have an idea of when our office hours are (though we may not call it that), so much as it’s we don’t enforce our office hours. We are moms. It’s in our nature to give our children everything they need. It’s in our nature to teach them the basic skills of life. What doesn’t seem to be in our nature is knowing when enough is enough.
It’s easy to lose yourself when you are a Mom. Your life begins to revolve around your children. You on guard against their fears, their allergies, their tantrums and meltdowns. Then other pieces of you end up being given away. A piece of you goes to your spouse, a piece of you goes to cleaning, until what is left of you is Mommy.
What’s worse is the people around don’t really realize what is going on. Your children never knew you before you were Mommy. Your spouse may see it but not know what to do about it. In the end only you can stop yourself from just being Mommy.
But I Like Being Mommy!
I understand that. I like to be Mommy too. I love the kisses and hugs. I adore little hands and little feet. The fun times are great and the hard times are worth it. That doesn’t change that it is healthier mentally to keep hold of that part of you that is you. It’s not just healthier for you. It’s also healthier for your children to see that part of you. You are an example to your daughters of a well balanced individual. To your sons you are an example of the kind of woman to look for in the future.
I have two children and they both have nicknames. I’m not talking about the type of nickname where you just shorten their name into a smaller version of their real name. I mean names that my spouse and I made up for them based on their personalities within months of them being born. We actually put a great deal of thought into the process. We were careful not to choose something that later down the road would sound critical or demeaning. We began using their nicknames more often than their real names.
Who Am I?
At first we used their nicknames so often I was afraid that my children would be confused about what their real name was. I imagined calling them by name and them not responding. This didn’t happen, but something else did.
I started to notice when I used their real name. I found that I only called them by name for three reasons. The first was when I was talking to people outside the family. The second was when they were in danger. The third was when they were in trouble.
When I had my first child I did everything I could to be there for my baby. If he so much as hiccuped in the middle of the night I would wake from a dead sleep and rush to his side. Like all first children, he got used to that. In fact he’s still used to that. If he wakes up in the middle of the night now, I still rush out of bed to make sure he’s okay.
Enter The New Baby
We tried to prepare our little guy for the new addition to our family. We told him a baby was growing in mommy’s tummy. We put the new baby’s stuff out so that he could get used to the idea. We really thought that he was ready. He would kiss my tummy and we would talk to the new baby through my belly button.
The first time that our little guy met his new sibling a look of horror crossed his face. He started to cry, repeating, “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” He felt so betrayed he wouldn’t even give me a hug that first night. I was relieved and overjoyed that our second child arrived safely in the world, but felt so guilty that my first was having such a hard time.
Go down the swaddle aisle at any baby store, and there are countless styles and patterns to choose from—enough for stores to justify dedicating a whole aisle to swaddles. You never know what your baby will tolerate before they are born, and some kids love certain swaddles and totally hate others. After trying nearly everything on the market between my two kids, I came to the conclusion that the good ol’ fashioned simple square-piece-of-fabric swaddle is the most versatile and easiest to care for. Learning to swaddle the old fashioned way can be a bit tricky at first, especially when you are sleep deprived at 3am, but with a little practice you will be a swaddling pro in no time.
This swaddle is so big I couldn’t get it in the whole camera frame without becoming Spider-Woman and sticking myself to the ceiling. Just trust me that it’s diamond-shaped.
Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.
How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?
Mommy’s are more than givers of biological life. We giver care to our little ones as well. We care about them without end and give them everything we have. It’s a small wonder then that we have the ability to raise the spirits of our children.
During Hard Times
I have read hundreds of stories that praise mothers that stand between their children and hard times. It doesn’t matter if it is an unhappy divorce or tight purse strings. Mothers everywhere will take the hardship on themselves. They eat less, live on less, and spend long nights finding ways to help their children feel as little impact as possible from their new circumstances.
The worst feelings come from relationship disappointments. Your toddler’s friend may not have been nice this past play date. A sibling may have been impatient. It could even be the sadness of realizing that they need to share their parents with a new baby.
Doing these things without the moral support of mommy could be even worse. Life is rarely fair when it comes to the ending of a friendship or family growth pains. Mommy’s hugs can reaffirm feelings of comfort and security.