Friday, February 10, 2006

Five Things Making Me Happy Today

In no particular order...

1. Brendan singing "Pop Goes the Weasel" as he awoke this morning. If you can wake up singing, you haven't a care in the world!

2. Duke's win a couple of nights ago against UNC. Thank you, J.J. Redick.

3. The fact that it might actually snow here on Saturday! Yay! Snow!

4. Sore muscles from working out for the first time in a week. Before last week, I hadn't worked out in three months. Before that, I used to work out five times a week. I miss it.

5. Battlestar Galactica. The inner geek is revealed.

What makes your heart rejoice today?

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Achin' To Be

I'm not sure how obviously my dark mood of gloom and doom has shone through my posts lately. Maybe not much. I'm used to being a sunny, happy person and that is the demeanor I try to project. But lately, motherhood has worn me down.

Sad that the job I thought I'd be the best at has proven the hardest and the one I seem to be the least good at. I used to be a pretty good wife, and a cute one, too. Seems I'm no longer very good at that one either.

Despite my best efforts, the woman I used to be has been subsumed, eaten away in my efforts to be a really great mom. I've given too much of myself away, coddled without being cuddled myself. I've given one too many Matchbox cars and stayed up until 3 a.m. one too many mornings without giving anything to myself.

I know I sound selfish. I admire those moms who can go for days without a shower, wearing nothing but crusty sweatpants, and those who don't crave meaningful conversations with other adults. And I admire the moms who parent on auto-pilot, making snap decisions without anguishing over whether or not they're permanently damaging the little one's psyche. I marvel at the mothers who are happy to listen to nothing but Elmo or Barney.

Despite my best efforts to avoid it, I still have Laurie Berkner, some Harry Belafonte favorites, and a few of my nostalgic favorite tunes from the Muppet Show sandwiched into my iPod between The Replacements and Van Morrison. Most days it's okay. But when I realize I've heard Day-Oh or The Dinosaur Song three times in a row without a break, that's when I start to forget who I am, much less who I once was.

I have to recover at least some portion of that woman I used to be. I've realized I don't laugh as much as I used to and I don't get to enjoy music the way I once did. To that end, I've decided there are going to be some changes around here.

I'm working on saying no a little more, on encouraging independence and "big-boyness." I'm also thinking about little things I can do for myself so that I can feel human again, and less like the mommy-robot. I bought myself some flowers at the market today for the first time in over a year, something I used to do weekly. I've decided the TV can stay off while we listen to music of my choosing. I accept that I'm not a monster if I say I can't lie down and "cuddle a minute" when I put the little guy to bed.

I'm even going to try and find a sitter for the weekend so I can have a date with my husband. I miss him. And I know he misses me.

I imagine there are some who might read this and think I'm a horrible selfish bitch. But, I want my son to grow up to respect all women as individuals with their own wants, and thoughts, and needs, and desires, and means of expressing themselves. Not as his caretakers. And I want my son to realize that his parents love for one another is as important than their love for him...if it weren't for that love, he wouldn't exist. And if that love should be neglected, his life would take an entirely different path.

It's time I stop feeling guilty for being a person and start being the person I want to be. The woman I was always meant to be.

Same As It Ever Was

As I grappled with my conflicting emotions and the varying perspectives of all my parenting resources yesterday afternoon, it dawned on me that my problem is not my inability to choose a course of action and stick with it. My problem is my inability to say no.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Just Call Me Hamlet

When I became pregnant, it was a foregone conclusion that Scott and I would practice intentional parenting, as opposed to accidental parenting. I read books and telegraphed the information to Scott the best I could. I carefully weighed every decision from what to feed him, where he should sleep, and what he should eat, to less obvious choices like what he should wear.

I felt much more capable of making the right choices when he was an infant. There's not that much to it. You feed them, keep them clean and dry, help them learn how to sleep, and love them. It's pretty hard to screw that up.

With each progressive stage of childhood, however, my decision-making ability has been eroded. Despite having pretty good instincts, I choose to second-guess every move I make and end up stymied by my inability to decide. I read books, parenting web sites, talk to friends, ask my mother-in-law, ask my sisters-in-law, discuss it all with Scott, and then find myself so overloaded with contrary opinions and advice that I just don't know what to do.

Why do I do it, then? It might seem obvious to anyone else that I should just shut up and take charge. Maybe it is obvious. But I am just so dag-blasted worried about screwing up my child that I worry about every little thing.

Take potty-training, for instance. Brendan is three. I am mortified that he isn't potty-trained yet, despite having friends all around me saying that three is the right age for training. I should have done it when he was two and not as stubborn. I wanted to, but I tried a little, he didn't respond, and after listening to everyone around me, I decided to back off. Now he's freakin' three-years old! And not trained and it's all my fault.

And I'm mad at myself. And I'm mad at him. He's so stubborn (just like me, as Scott pointed out last night). I can't even get him to sit on the potty, much less use it.

So, today, I had the genius idea of showing him the new Thomas train I got for him as a reward. He immediately jumped off the bed and ran to the potty, sat down, jumped up after only one second, shouting, "I pee-peed! I pee-peed!"

When I tried to calmly and rationally explain that he did not actually pee, he FREAKED! I finally got him calm by distracting him. Gave him a lot of liquids and hoped we'd have some success. He sat on the potty for about 10 min. and nothing happened. I gave him lots of praise and affection only to have him freak out again when I said he couldn't have the train until he actually successfully used the potty.

Ultimately, he had another accident which I tried to use as a teaching opportunity. Instead, he freaked out again when I tried to get him to practice walking to the potty. He ended up crying himself to sleep, begging for the dog-gone train.

Mind you, I was calm. I didn't even raise my voice in anger or frustration this time. And still, I have failed. I wish I had not tried to bribe him. What the hell was I thinking? I wish Brendan were less stubborn and I were more patient.

And I wish for once, I could make a parenting decision and KNOW that it was the right one and not wonder if what I have done has crushed my child's soul and marked him for life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Another cake photo

Thomas Cake close up, originally uploaded by belleoftheblogATL.

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake

I thought I'd share some photos from the party.

I love this cake. It really turned out so cute! Brendan loved it. Of course, it was a battle keeping all the little boys at the party from grabbing Thomas off the top of the cake.

Birthday Party, Part Deux

The party was a roaring success, thank you very much for asking!

Ten kids between the ages of two and eight cavorting with delight. Running through a giant caterpillar obstacle course that sucks you into its mouth and then, uh...excretes you. Sliding, bouncing, jumping. Great fun for all.

Until the two unruly, wild, hateful little brats from another party showed up and starting taunting, teasing, and bullying all the smaller kids. These two hooligans (and I use that term loosely as I have the utmost respect for English soccer fans) made both Brendan and his best friend, Matthew, cry by stealing the ball they were playing with and then luring them closer with it so they could yank it away again. They also jumped off of one of the inflatables onto Matthew, knocking him to the ground. Both Scott and Matthew's dad yelled at them on separate occasions. Of course, their mother was a gem. She yelled back at Matthew's dad, saying, "I thought jumping was the whole point of this place."

Otherwise, the party was great. Brendan got the Thomas theme he had been talking about for months. The cake was precious. So cute and it actually tasted great, too. All in all, it was one of the best kid parties I've ever attended and I'm so glad we decided not to have it at home.