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5 Things that I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Parent

A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that I write a post sharing “what I wish I had known” before becoming a parent for all those people who read my blog that might not yet have children. It sounded like an awesome idea, but I have to admit that I struggled with it. In a nut shell, here’s what I wish I had known: EVERYTHING. Parenting is a seriously overwhelming undertaking and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what information would have helped. However, there are a few things that I wish I had better understood and here’s my attempt at trying to share that with you.

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1.) Parenting is Mentally Exhausting: It’s common knowledge that parenting is physically exhausting. I won’t even bother boring you with the lengthy details. Waking up with a newborn is the most tiring task you will ever endure. If you are as lucky as I am, then the exhaustion will continue right on into toddlerhood. I’ve had a few parents that tell me that their toddler sleeps until 10, and honestly, I want to punch them in the face. Unfortunately, my kid is an early riser. 6:00am is now considered sleeping late in our household. But just like everything else that comes along with parenting, you get used to the exhaustion. Your body adjusts. Being tired is just the norm.

But what I was really unprepared for is the mental exhaustion. Having a newborn requires being on high alert at all times. You are constantly checking on your child. You analyze every facial expression, every odd movement, even the color of their poop. When you finally get them to sleep, you’ll spend your time glued to the monitor, making sure you can hear them breathe. I thought this mental exhaustion would pass, but then my child became capable of moving and I was constantly chasing him and childproofing things and making sure he didn’t fall down the stairs or smash into the coffee table. Once he became more stable, I again thought this stage would pass, but then he learned to talk and he wants to converse with me about everything under the sun and ask me 4000 questions for the entirety of the day. Here I am, at this very moment, thinking AGAIN that the mental exhaustion will pass, but then I know at some point soon he’ll be in elementary school and I’ll spend my mental capacity organizing his sports schedule and forcing him to complete his homework every night. It’s probably safe to say that I will be mentally exhausted for a very long time. At least until he’s married, I’m sure.

2.) You Will Have No Idea What to Expect:  There’s really no efficient way to prepare for parenthood. And no, having a puppy is not at all like having a child. As a dog lover and owner, there’s a chance I uttered that phrase before I became a parent. It is true; a puppy may require you to get up now and again at night to let it outside to pee. However, a puppy won’t latch itself to your breast and suck the life out of you for 45 minutes at least three times a night. Additionally, you can’t just open the back door and let your newborn out into the yard to take a shit and then conveniently lock him in a crate while you head out to run a few quick errands.

You can enroll for all kinds of classes about how to care for a newborn, but that doesn’t entirely guarantee that you won’t put the diaper on backwards during the first mid-night change in the hospital. You can read 14 different breastfeeding books, but that doesn’t ensure that you will be able to breastfeed successfully for the minimum of 12 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. And you know what? That’s totally fine. Parenting is a learn-as-you-go kind of undertaking. And as unprepared as you feel, don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.

Similarly, I can’t say that having one child has prepared me in how the hell to handle having another one. I’m guessing that the transition from one child to two will be just as insane (if not more so) as welcoming the first child into our family. But like I said, I’m sure I have no fucking clue as to what it will really be like until we get there.

Come to think of it, it’s probably a good thing that we go into parenthood without really understanding what is about to go down. Otherwise, we might just be smart enough not to have children at all.

3.) Parenting Doesn’t Change You: When you hit a milestone birthday, like 21, 30, or 40, people always ask things like, “So how does it feel?” or “Do you feel older?” And the answer is this: “No, dumbass. I feel the exact same way that I felt yesterday.”

Similarly, I think a lot of people assume that becoming a parent will change you. Let me fill you in here. Just because you carried a baby around in your belly for 40 weeks doesn’t mean that in the exact moment your child enters the world, you become a more responsible, more knowledgeable, more capable person prepared for raising a baby. Surprisingly, you are the same clueless, naïve, inexperienced person you were the day prior to giving birth and it will take many months (or years) for you to actually feel like a parent. On the day we brought my son home from the hospital, my husband and I sat in the kitchen eating lunch like normal. Then, we laughed and laughed at the hilarious, weird fact that there was a newborn sleeping in the next room. And not just any newborn, OUR newborn.

In addition, just because you enter the world of parenting doesn’t mean that you ultimately want to give up your pre-baby hobbies, like drinking wine or getting your nails done (though you may do these things much less frequently). Depending on your personal interests, becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a marathon runner, or a career driven woman, or someone who enjoys some alone time now again. You don’t have to replace your monthly book club meetings with mommy and me classes or your weekly date night with your husband for catching up on laundry and a good night’s sleep. You will still be the same person with the same hobbies and interests as you had before you had a child. It’s totally acceptable to still make time for those things (and very healthy, too) and you don’t have to feel guilty about that.

4.) It Doesn’t Get Easier: Every time I see a new mother struggling, I immediately feel the natural need to try to comfort her by assuring her that in time, it will get easier. However, I have to stop myself. The truth of the matter is this: it doesn’t actually get easier, ladies. But don’t get discouraged. Let me explain.

Every stage has its challenges and its perks. Having a newborn is a total pain in the ass because you’re up all night and the breastfeeding can be really tough. Then again, newborns are pretty portable since they will pretty much sleep wherever for long stretches of time. Now that my son is two, it’s so much easier because he’s a little bit more self-sufficient, but at the same time he is sassy and stubborn and energetic almost to a fault. I’m sure that when he’s a teenager, it will be so nice to have finally passed the needy newborn thing, but I bet waiting up all night praying to God that he’ll make his curfew without crashing his car will be super stressful. So here’s the deal. It doesn’t get easier, but you get better at it. You get better at managing the chaos and anticipating the challenges. You get better at staying organized and being prepared. You learn to stay patient and to handle your anxiety. Parenting is a lifelong process and it will always be challenging, but just like all the other parents in the world, we will be just fine. With that, I’m going to go refill my wine glass before I continue on here.

5.) It Doesn’t Always Come Naturally to Mothers: Many people assume that women are born with a natural maternal instinct that immediately kicks in as soon as they become pregnant. One person actually told me that women become mothers when they get pregnant and men become fathers when they meet their baby. Here’s a more realistic version of that statement: A woman becomes a mother when the baby is born because she doesn’t have a choice and she is the only person who can provide breast milk at 2:00am. A man becomes a father when his wife finally threatens to divorce him unless he starts helping with the baby.

Additionally, they say that women begin nesting even before the baby is born because of this natural motherly instinct. The truth is that not all pregnant women want to take on the task of researching and registering for 4000 baby items and washing bins of baby clothes, but that shit has to get done before the baby is born and someone has to do it. It doesn’t automatically mean that she is more prepared or more “ready” than her husband.

On the same topic, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the instant motherly bond during that skin to skin contact right after the birth of a baby. I only know my own experience and I’m hoping you won’t judge me for this, but I’m not exactly sure I felt that “instant” connection. Here are the honest thoughts that went through my head immediately after giving birth and they occurred in this exact order: “I’m so thankful my son is here and healthy. It feels SO amazing to have that weight of a massive baby out of my body. I AM VERY HUNGRY.” I didn’t cry tears of joy or feel like I had become a mother instantaneously. And you know what? I think that’s perfectly fine. Maybe it took me a few weeks (or months….) to settle in to my new role, but I don’t feel guilty about that. I think it’s normal and honest to need some time to adjust. In my experience, it turns out that parenting was not a “just add water” kind of concoction and that’s totally acceptable.

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All in all, there’s nothing that I (or anyone else) can say that will prepare you for parenthood. Plus, everyone’s experience is totally different. I’m kind of an anxious, frazzled hot mess in general so taking on motherhood has been an adjustment for me. But trust me ladies, if I can do it, you can do it. And in the mean time, after our babies are born, we can drink as much wine as we need. Thank God for that, right?

Cake Pop Catastrophe

I’ve always felt that Valentine’s Day is a sad excuse for a holiday, mainly created by Hallmark purely for the sake of increasing sales. If you read my Valentine’s Day post last year, then I really don’t need to get into detail here. Because of this, I’ve never expected my husband to spend hundreds of dollars on some cheesy and hideous Open Heart necklace designed by Jane Seymour as a means of showing me his love on this fraudulent holiday. Before kids, we typically used Valentine’s Day as an excuse to indulge in dinner and drinks at a trendy restaurant without feeling guilty for spending a little extra cash. Come to think of it, at that time in our life, we didn’t really feel guilty for spending money at all, for the most part, considering we didn’t have a child to support at the time. But I digress.

In 2012, Valentine’s Day became the official day that we got to bring out newborn baby home from the hospital. Now that seems like something to celebrate. So even though I sort of hate the holiday, at least it has a little bit more personal meaning than in prior years.

While I would have loved to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the same way we did before having kids, enjoying late night dinner reservations in a cozy booth at a dimly lit wine bar, things have changed a bit. Not only are good babysitters hard to come by, but we are a little bit more careful with our financial situation, now that daycare costs are slowly sucking away at our savings. Nevertheless, we wanted to celebrate the anniversary of bringing home our little Valentine. With money being tight, we were forced to get creative.

I have to say, the first half of my Valentine’s Day surprise went pretty well. I used an idea that I found on another blog to create a simple, homemade gift for my husband. I bought a white mug and use chalkboard paint to paint a heart on the front of the mug. Now, I can leave personalized messages on my husband’s coffee cup every morning. Not bad, right?? Here’s a pic:

I wrote, "I Love You" in chalk on the mug. Tomorrow, I'm going to write, "Do the Laundry." :) So convenient.

I wrote, “I Love You” in chalk on the mug. Tomorrow, I’m going to write, “Do the Laundry.” 🙂 So convenient.

And it was all downhill from there. Unfortunately, the second half of my amazing DIY Valentine’s Day idea didn’t go quite as well. I made the decision that I wanted to bake. Not only did I want to bake, I decided to bake something challenging. Cake pops. That’s right. A girl who has literally never baked anything in her life decided to tackle cake pops on the night before Valentine’s Day. You can probably imagine where this is going.

This is what I imagined my cake pops looking like. Hahahahahahaha.

This is what I imagined my cake pops looking like. Hahahahahahaha.

A few generous girlfriends of mine offered to assist with this overzealous undertaking. I drove over to my friend’s house on Thursday night after work to begin the baking. It was an evening filled with flying chocolate, crying babies, and several much needed glasses of wine. To sum it up, here’s a list of mistakes we made.

1.)    Baking cake pops while caring for four kids is probably too much to take on at one time.

2.)    If you are going to attempt to bake something for a gift or an event, do a trial run before the real thing and plan for lots of uninterrupted free time to get them done.

3.)    PUT THE BALLS IN THE FRIDGE OR FREEZER BEFORE YOU DIP THEM IN THE CHOCOLATE.

4.)    Unless you want softball sized cake pops, make the cake balls small.

5.)    Have at least three bottles of wine on hand to manage the stress involved in creating these evil baked goods.

I know this isn't the best photo, but you get the idea. They looked like shit.Literally. LOL.

I know this isn’t the best photo, but you get the idea. They looked like shit.Literally. LOL.

At the end of the night, the cake pops looked like a hot mess. But I have say, I did have an absolute blast hanging out with my girlfriends and I probably haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I can’t thank them enough for even attempting this uphill baking battle with me. Luckily, my husband thought the cake pops tasted awesome even thought they looked like hell. He even got a little creative, too. This is what I came home to on Valentine’s Day:

So romantic, right?? At least he had the smarts not to attempt to dip those strawberries himself. Apparently, store bought is always better in my house when it comes to baking.

So romantic, right?? At least he had the smarts not to attempt to dip those strawberries himself.

It takes an especially thoughtful man to purchase gorgeous chocolate covered strawberries and then add a mustache photo bomb selfie to the plate. You’re jealous, I know.

And the most important lesson learned in regards to Valentine’s Day baked goods? Next year, I’ll go with something store bought.

 

Websites Used:

http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2011/02/valentines-cake-pops-fun-projects-with-kids.html

http://www.kay.com/en/kaystore/diamond-necklace–round-cut-sterling-silver

http://thehonestmommy.com/2013/02/14/hallmark-hell/

http://emmalinebride.com/holiday-2013/6-diy-valentines-day-gifts/

My Toddler’s Construction-Themed Birthday Party

For some mothers, throwing a birthday party for a child is like an annual excuse to pretend that she is an event planner, a graphic designer, and a crafting queen. She spends hours on Pinterest months before the occasion, carefully choosing a theme and planning the beginnings of the party. She’ll pin thousands of pictures of gorgeous cakes and hand-made décor that she can’t possibly recreate herself, although she sure as hell is willing to try. She’ll order customized invitations and maybe even attempt to print perfect little address labels and stick them with birthday themed stamps. She’ll insist on doing it all herself, in an attempt to avoid spending an absurd amount of money at Party City on cheesy birthday signs and tacky games for the kids to play. When it’s all said and done, she’ll take 400 photos of her work and over-share on every social media outlet available. It’s annoying, but you can’t help but think she did a damn good job and consider attempting to create something comparable for your own child next year.

And this year, my friends, that crazy mommy was me. So here they are – all 400 photos of the construction themed party we threw this weekend for my son’s second birthday. I hope you enjoy them and I apologize in advance for sharing them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social media site I come across in the next few weeks.

I did find a ton of ideas on Pinterest and used a lot of free printables as well. I’ll post links to the sites where I found this stuff in case you want to use it, too! Enjoy!

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I found an awesome blog, called How to Nest for Less, that had links to free printables for invitations and decor. This was the image for the invitation provided on the blog’s website. I used Pic Monkey to add the text on the invitation. You can find all of original printables here. Definitely check out this blog – it had some amazing stuff!

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We found cheap hats at Party City and labeled them with the kids’ names who were coming to the party in lieu of favor bags.

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We bought Caution tape at Lowe’s and used that and streamers to decorate the dining room. I used free printables from Birthday Express to make the signs hanging from the chandelier. We printed them on glossy paper and matted them on black card stock.

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 I used the free printables from the blog I found to make the birthday sign hanging here. Then, we picked up two cones for about $10 a piece and attached a few balloons.

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I used a black plastic table cloth and duct tape to make roads for the kids to drive trucks on. Looking back, I wish I had used a piece of black cloth so that I could have saved it! They had a blast with this.

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I grabbed a big plastic bin from my basement and fill it with a $4 bag of gravel from Lowe’s and a few trucks and shovels that we had around the house for the kids to play in. This was the biggest hit! I also borrowed orange cones from my mother and cut a few yellow plates for a ring toss game.

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I made chocolate cupcakes with orange frosting and used some chocolate sprinkles to look like dirt. Then, I made cupcake toppers from the free printables (linked above).

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I found a cheap four-pack of dump truck candles at Hobby Lobby.

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We used the Caution tape in the doorways, on the banisters, and around the windows for some added decor.

Overall, I think it turned out AWESOME! Unfortunately, the problem with putting this kind of effort into my son’s birthday is that by the time he’s five, I’m going to be all-partied out. I’ll probably just book some overpriced venue like The Jump Club to plan the party for me – cake included, of course. And if we ever do decide to have a second child, I’ll be so tired of kids’ birthdays that the poor kid will be lucky to get a party at all.

For now, I”m just going to revel in the fact that we threw a pretty kick ass construction party, if I do say so myself. 🙂

 

What to Expect When You are Expecting Again

Now that my son is turning two, I’m faced with one common question from friends and family: Are you ready for another baby?? I typically respond to this question by letting people know that, to their surprise, Greyson may very well be an only child. The reason for this is simple. Between work and parenting, my husband and I haven’t even had time to sit down and converse about the possibility of another baby, much less actually find the time to spend creating another child.

Not to mention, I’ve heard a ton of mothers say that going from one child to two children is harder than having your first. Before I can even consider another future child, I decided to do some research. Luckily, my friend Laura from the blog, Payette Pigtails, was willing to give me the lowdown on what to expect when you are expecting again. Be sure to check out Laura’s blog and  follow her on Twitter by clicking here. Thanks so much for sharing your mommy wisdom, Laura! Enjoy!

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Hi, I’m Laura and I blog over at Payette Pigtails about the ins and outs of life with two little girls who are 26 months apart. (Shelby is almost 4 years old and Natasha is nearly 21 months old.) Going from one to two kids was kind of a big deal. It’s not like we’ve got Irish twins (god bless you if you do!) or even actual twins (holy moly). We knew two kids would be more work. We just didn’t realize how much more. It’s sort of like before you have your first baby and you know you’ll be sleep deprived, but you have no idea just how hard it will really be until you’re in the thick of it, with hormones mixed in for good measure. Anyway, here are a few of the differences that two kids has meant for us (your experience may be totally different!):

No guaranteed down time after the kids go to bed

This is a big one. Sometimes what got me through the day when Shelby was little was knowing she would go to sleep by 7 or 7:30pm and then I’d at least have a couple of hours to myself to decompress. Not so with two kids. Obviously, when Natasha was a newborn she didn’t have any schedule and especially loved to cry at night. So we’d get Shelby to bed only to have to deal with Natasha — sometimes for hours. There was no letup. Chris and I worked out a shift schedule so we’d at least each get a chunk of guaranteed sleep. Now that Natasha’s older she goes to bed reliably at 7 or 7:30pm, but Shelby is up till 8:30 or 9pm (or later some nights — gah!), so down time doesn’t start till then and usually includes picking up the house, doing dishes and/or laundry, cooking, or any number of other mundane but necessary house chores that can’t otherwise get done when we’re at work or with the kids. We then stay up way too late to actually get some down time, which means we rarely sleep enough.

No guaranteed respite during nap time

Nap time is another godsend that keeps you going. It’s a break in the middle of the chaos. But when both children don’t nap — or at least at the same time — it’s painful. Shelby gave up weekend naps for the most part just before she turned 3. We tried instituting quiet time, but it just didn’t take. Do you have any idea what that does to your sanity?! It tanks it! Just when you’re thinking you’ll get a reprieve — haha! Not only is your older child not sleeping, but she also wants to play with you. She’s no dummy; she knows she’s got you all to herself. Sometimes you have to dig deep to make it work.

Overlapping schedules

So speaking of naps, when Natasha was little, but big enough that she needed to sleep at home and not on the go in the car seat, it was hard to go anywhere. It took so long to get everyone and their stuff in the car that, by the time we got to our destination, we’d practically have to turn around to get back home — that or seriously risk screwing up nap time. And when you’re trying to teach a baby to sleep, it’s sort of counterproductive. Even now that Natasha is older and takes a solid midday nap, we have to plan around it. Most kid-friendly places near us don’t open on the weekend till 10am and are 25-30 minutes away, but N goes to sleep at noon. It doesn’t work so well. Meanwhile, Shelby is always restless and wants to go somewhere!

Severely reduced ability to just “run out”

When you have one kid, you can theoretically leave them at home with your spouse/partner and run out to do an errand by yourself. You get your errand done faster, you get some alone time — it’s great! And you can return the favor for your partner. When you have two kids, you divide and conquer, which means you’ve almost always got at least one kid with you. Outings that once seemed easy and maybe even fun turn into ordeals. Need to pick up your prescription? No problem — that’ll take an hour. Need some new clothes? Better pick them up at Target, along with your milk and baby shampoo, because you’ll never make it to a real store, let alone have time to try anything on. Think about it: How do you buy new bras? Let me tell you from experience, it doesn’t work real well to take your kid in the fitting room with you. Need to get your haircut? You might just need to hire a babysitter.

Virtually no ability to focus on anything (because someone always needs something)

When you’ve got one kid and they’re beyond the baby phase, they learn to entertain themselves — at least long enough for you to go pee by yourself (in some cases, anyway). But when you’ve got two, someone always needs something from you. “I’m hungry!” “I need a Kleenex.” “Can you get me that toy (that’s out of reach)?” “I wanna watch Ariel!” “I want milk.” You no sooner sit down than someone’s asking for something that requires you to stand back up.

Because you can’t catch a break, you also can’t focus to get anything done. You learn to work in snippets of time — 30 seconds here, 3 minutes there. Laundry takes ages to get folded or put away (if ever). Recipes you used to think were easy to whip up (that took 30 minutes) get relegated to a dust heap. Now you make what you can throw together in 5 minutes or less. You start to wonder if you can keep a thought in your head:

Mom: I need to finish the grocery list so I can get to the store before…

Kid 1: Moooooooom! Where are my shoes?

Mom: Check the kitchen, by your coat…Oh crap, I need to put their coats in the car so I don’t forget them…

Kid 1: I don’t see them!

Mom: Well, check in the family room. Where did you last have them?…Ok, grocery list…

Kid 2: I want a snack.

Mom: Scrambling to think of something…How about some grapes?

Kid 2: Yeah!

Mom: Okay, I need to cut them up…Here you go…sits down again…

Kid 1: I wanna watch Jake [and the Neverland Pirates].

Mom: Fine. Just till I finish this list and then we’re going. But I want you to go potty first…turns back to grocery list, frantically trying to finish.

Kid 1: Kid goes potty…Can you wipe me?

Mom: Gah!

Never Ending Opportunities to Parent

“She won’t give me that toy!” “Hey, that’s mine!” “She hit me.” Basically, you can kiss peace and quiet goodbye for a long time once you have two kids (unless they’re are asleep). Someone is always jabbering, asking questions, complaining, crying, screaming, or otherwise trying to vie for your attention. It literally never ends. And with all the arguments and questioning and curiosity come limitless opportunities to parent. Sometimes you’ll feel on your game, but most of the time you’ll be too exhausted and/or bewildered to even know what to do or say. In fact, you’ll wonder when Amazon is going to deliver that magical parenting manual — not that you’d have time to read it.

Constant Juggling at Mealtime

Okay, this is a little exaggerated in our house because Natasha has a peanut and an egg allergy, but even without that the girls have different appetites and eating schedules. Which means that by the time you get food for one of them, the other one wants something…different, of course. It means if you’re not careful you’ll spend your whole life in the kitchen — either making something or cleaning it up. At the very least you’ll be refereeing comments like, “Ewww, I don’t like that!” and, “I need more milk!” Remember the line from A Christmas Story? “My mother had not had a hot meal for herself in 15 years…” Believe it.

A House That’s Never Clean

You might think it’s hard to clean your house with one kid — and it is! Add a second kid to the mix and you can pretty much kiss clean toilets and bed sheets goodbye. Well, maybe not toilets because that gets gross, but baseboards and other niceties for sure, like counters. (I hear we have them.)  Ain’t nobody got time for that  — unless you have a housekeeper (it’s on my wish list). My house always looks like it’s been hit by a tornado. Toys, shoes, stuffed animals, dirty socks, art projects — they’re constantly strewn about. And it does little good to pick them up because five minutes later one kid or the other will deposit something new on the floor. I’m not saying don’t try to pick up — just know that it’s like a bucket that’s constantly being filled with water; you’ll never empty it.

Larger Family Expenditures

This one is obvious, although you might not necessarily think so. It’s not like you’re feeding another adult (or growing teenager — eek!). But even if you’re like us and have two kids of the same gender, hand-me-downs from kid #1 don’t always work, so you buy more clothes. You need more car seats. You spend more for kid activities. You pay more for daycare. And if you’re lucky enough to go on them, you spend more on family vacations. In short, cha-ching.

Now, I’m not saying don’t have a second kid (or third or fourth). Just don’t be surprised when baby two isn’t like baby one and you find yourself wondering how in the world you can get through each day without eight arms and a lot of coffee.

Because I Said So

“Because I said so.” Yup – Just another one of those things you swore you wouldn’t say to your child when you finally became a parent. But the fact of the matter is this – sometimes, the only possible answer is just that. Simply, because I said so.

After my son was born, I felt lonely during my maternity leave and craving some conversation. I remember finding reasons to call my husband or my mother during the day just for the sake of some adult interaction. I remember feeling like I could hardly wait until my son was old enough to actually talk to me. How amazing it would be to actually have a conversation with my precious little man.

Well. Here we are. Two years later. Guess what? That kid can talk all right. That kid can talk ALL the time. All day long. I swear, my son is literally talking non-stop from the very moment he wakes up in the morning until the very second he falls asleep. Sometimes, he talks in his sleep, too. A few months back, he started putting about five words together at a time. Honestly, it’s amazing how much a child can figure out how to say within the limits of five word sentences. It’s mind-blowing how expressive, animated, defiant, stubborn, and insane a child can be, while still only using a fairly limited baby vocabulary.  And I have to admit, after spending long periods of time engaging in toddler conversation, I sometimes find myself missing those quiet newborn days filled with long stretches of sleep and cute baby cooing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m thankful that my child is learning language. But honestly, some days I think that all this toddler convo is slowly turning my brain into mommy mush. After giving it some serious thought, I’ve been able to classify our conversation into five basic categories. Over the course of the day, these five conversations occur in a never-ending cycle, until the toddler has finally talked himself to sleep.

The first category is “The Why Game.” If you have a toddler at home, then I can probably just move right along here. You know what I’m talking about. But for those of you who don’t, let me explain. At some point, your toddler begins to ask, “Why?” – ALL THE TIME. I’ve read tons of articles that encourage parents to nurture a child’s curiosity and to attempt to explain when your child asks why something is the way it is. As an early childhood educator, I know it’s important to converse, engage, and explain things to your child. But seriously, after my kid says, “Why?” for the 400th time, I just can’t do it. I can’t. Do you REALLY want to know why???? Because I said so. That’s it. Moving on.

The second type of talking that occurs in my household is “The Choices Convo.” Here’s how it works. I tell my kid to do something. He says no. I offer him a chance to choose. I count to three while he makes a choice. Problem solved (hopefully). For example, I attempt to put Greyson into his PJs. He starts throwing a fit. I tell him he can choose the Thomas the Train PJs or the Spiderman PJs. He stares at me for an extended length of time. I start to count to three and threaten to make a choice for him. By the time I reach three, he picks his PJs. Tantrum avoided. I know this is working because yesterday, I heard Grey telling the dog to drop his ball or to get in the crate. When the dog didn’t listen, he started counting to three and then told the dog to go to time out. Smart kid.

The third conversation that occurs around here is “The Broken Record.” This is the absolute worst and typically happens when I can’t give Grey my full attention. For example, every night we spend about 30 minutes in the car driving home from day care. During almost every commute, Grey drops his cup and spend the entire drive home screaming, “I can’t reach it!” on repeat. I’ve totally given up on this conversation and have decided to use his methods against him. I reply, “Mommy will get your cup when we get home,” and I continue to repeat it over and over and over until he gets tired of listening to my repetitive answer to his repetitive screaming. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Right?

Then there’s the, “Do It By Myself” dialogue. At some point in the future, I’ll be happy that my son wants to be independent. However, at two years old, when my kid is screaming that he wants to tie his shoes all by himself, I hate it. How the hell do you explain to a toddler that he doesn’t possess the fine motor skills necessary to attempt to tie his shoes himself??? For god’s sake child, let me help you tie your shoes for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

Lastly, there’s the “Repetition Phenomenon.” Obviously, children learn through imitation. We all know this. However, I continue to swear and say things that are totally inappropriate in front of my child just because I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that he will repeat it. Then one day, my adorable toddler drops a few F*bombs in Target and I realize that my kid is smarter and more attentive than I originally anticipated. Here’s my advice for cleaning up for your language. Start a Swear Jar and donate a dollar for every swear word that you speak. If you enjoy swearing as much as me and my husband, you will have saved enough for your child’s college education simply by paying debts to the swear jar by the time your child turns 18. In the end, you may still have “that” kid that cusses in Kindergarten, but at least you will have saved enough to pay for their college tuition.

Who needs a 529 Plan when you have a Swear Jar? Photo Via http://www.lowecounsel.com/blog/2011/12/dirty-mouths-swear-jar-makes-cursing-game

Who needs a 529 Plan when you have a Swear Jar?
Photo Via http://www.lowecounsel.com/blog/2011/12/dirty-mouths-swear-jar-makes-cursing-game

 

There you have it – the five most common types of toddler conversations that will definitely drive you to the mommy loony bin. By the end of a long day of talking to my toddler, there’s only one more five word sentence that I possibly process – “Mommy needs a strong drink.”

Why, you ask???

Because I fucking said so.

DAMNIT. That’s another dollar to the Swear Jar….

Punxsutawney Phil’s Predictions

I want to take a moment today to send off a bit of advice to our little friend, Punxsutawney Phil. Next year, stay in your damn hole.

I know most of you are busy prepping an onslaught of delicious appetizers for tonight’s Super Bowl parties, but I really thought someone should take a moment to put this Groundhog in his place.

Because my child woke up at 5:30am today, I was actually already half way into my day when Phil finally decided to make his appearance around 7:30am. Honestly, I didn’t even realize that it was Groundhog Day until very early this morning. I happened to be scrolling through the news on my cell phone to avoid poking my eyes out while my son watched the same obnoxious Bubble Guppies episode for the third time in a row when I learned that Phil had predicted another six weeks of winter.

The Famous Phil.

Six more weeks of winter?? I want a second opinion. Isn’t there another groundhog that we can drag out of his hole?

I have to say, considering the fact that we’ve been living in a Polar Vortex for the last two months, I think Phil had a pretty easy task of predicting the future weather patterns here. Still, I prefer not to celebrate a Groundhog rubbing the fact that I will have to endure negative wind chill temperatures for another six weeks in my face at 7:30am on a Sunday morning.

Reading the news of Phil’s prediction got me thinking. Why the hell does Groundhog Day exist in the first place? I made a serious attempt at researching the history behind this pointless holiday, but honestly, I got bored before I found the answer. I did, however, learn that there is a Groundhog Club in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. They even host an Annual Groundhog Club Banquet that took place last night. Did you know that your company can even become a corporate sponsor for the Groundhog celebration in Punxsutawney, PA?? Crazy.

These are the official members of The Groundhog Club. Sounds very prestigious.

These are the official members of The Groundhog Club. Sounds very prestigious.

Here’s my advice to Punxsutawney. If you want to hype up this holiday, maybe you should bribe Phil to predict the coming of spring rather than six more depressing weeks of winter. Or better yet – tell Phil to predict the damn winner of the Super Bowl so we can all place some money winning bets. Just sayin.

References:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/02/02/punxsutawney-phil-sees-shadow-predicts-longer-winter/

http://www.groundhog.org/