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Saturday, August 24th, 2013
I’ve said it before, but I think I’m going to be saying this for a long, long time. I can’t grasp how the male species has survived. This, after having a boy. An 18-month old boy. A boy who has turned from tame to terror. Albeit, a remarkably happy terrorist.
My friends with boys just laugh it off. They are already in this club and have accepted what it means to have birthed a Y chromosome. For those of us who have girls, it is a rude awakening.
Fia was a wild child. I used to joke she was “like a boy.” I still hear moms saying that about their daughters. Baaahhaaaa. Not even close.
Fia has tons of energy and is still full of spunk. But she isn’t stupid. She didn’t climb up on counters and reach for butcher knives. I wouldn’t turn my back for 3.3 seconds only to find her dangling from a bar. Or climbing in the dryer. Or crawling in a drawer. Or, Or, Or…I could go on and on.
It seems each day I am reaching a new level of madness. It is making me feel like I no longer have control of my house. We are moving and our current place is really hard to childproof. But we are here for 3 more deadly months. Who knows what this tornadic force will do next? I can’t even make supper anymore without him nearly losing a limb. Hello? Calvary? Anyone there?
The thing is, he has about the best temperament of any child I’ve met. He giggles in his sleep and sings in his highchair. And as, um, “active” as he is, he will sit for 30 minutes and page through books. At least he used to do all these things. I’m scared I’m losing that part of him. I’m scared he’s turning into a gorilla.
So what to do? He is starting to get angry when his needs aren’t instantly met. He gets frustrated if he can’t figure out a toy and sends it hurtling across the room. Yesterday I turned my back for 1.3 seconds. He had a glass I had just set down, dumped the water out and as I screamed, “NOOO” he looked at me with that mischievous grin and sent it crashing in a million pieces on the floor. He has discovered that pulling hair makes Fia cry. He thinks “finished” with his food means throwing it all on the ground. “Emmett—NOOOOOO!!!!!” is becoming the dominant phrase in our house.
Oh, but it gets better. He yanked Phil’s prescription sunglasses off his face today and threw them across the room. As usual, we reacted. Phil yelled, “NO EMMETT! “YOU DO NOT DO THAT.” Emmett immediately burst into tears. Wailing. The word NO also equals meltdown. Or, in an act of animalistic defiance, he starts to eat his arm or foot. I am raising a gorilla, a canibal and a crybaby.
My sitter Michele just laughs. She has 5 kids, 4 of them boys. She said Emmett definitely ranks up there as a wild one, but at the end of the day she insists he’s simply “all boy.” She points to how fearless and fun his disposition is. I can’t entirely disagree. My pediatrician has said he is one of the more active babies she’s seen, but the fact that he does (or did??) sit and read and have quiet time made her think he just has a lot of energy to burn. My in-laws say he’s a normal, happy toddler. How can this be? “Normal” is making me pull out my hair. How does the male species justify their insane behavior as “normal???”
I know I’m probably painting a terrible picture of him and it sounds contradictory when I say he is almost always in a great mood. But these little snapshots happen throughout the day. What do I do? Should I start putting him in his crib for a timeout? I feel like he’s too little to “get it.” Am I being had? Will he begin to understand consequences and boundaries at 18 months? Fia is 3 1/2 and I honestly can’t remember when she had her first time out. But it definitely wasn’t this young. She was far tamer. To date, she’s probably had less than 7 time-outs.
When he turns 2, I’m planning on putting him in preschool 2 mornings a week. I think some structure will help. But that is still 6 months away. A lot can happen.Maybe I just need to embrace this chapter. Let it pass. Or maybe I should find a different preschool… one that will take him now.
Looking for advice, tips and a survival timeline. Please.
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babysitter, boy, boy energy, childproof, childproofing, daycare, hyperactive, preschool, sitter, structure, toddler, toddler boys, Y chromosome | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read, Newborn Care
Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Emmett is 18 months. He’s a super active and happy baby. He absolutely loves going to the playground–not only to slide, but to also be around other kids his age. He is definitely a people person. But the thing I’ve found with my second child is that I don’t reach out to moms who have kids his age. I formed my close mom friendships when I had Fia and I actually don’t want to seek out new ones. I love the ones I have. And the person I’m closest with lives nearby. So we always pal around, either with our kids or without.
The other reason I don’t go on more mom playdates with Emmett is I’m often working around both their schedules. She goes to school 3 times a week, so there is pick up and drop off. He naps in the afternoons. On Monday mornings I take Fia to gymnastics. On Wednesday mornings I take Em (this is the class with the neglectful nanny). In other words, I’m juggling too much to have dedicated playdates with Emmett. Plus, this fall it gets even more hectic because Fia is switching to Montessori. Which is a whole other dilemma.
Nevertheless, I have sitters a few days a week for a few hours. When he turns 2, as much as I love my sitters, I think he might enjoy being with kids his own age. Fia’s current preschool allows total flexibility in terms of days and hours. I could enroll him for as few as 2 mornings a week. My pediatrician says she recommends some form of socialization for tots, starting between 18 months and 2 years. Granted, he gets a lot of socialization and stimulation from Fia and her friends. He’s not sitting in a corner all day. But this would be in a semi-structured environment.
It’s a no brainer right? Except, for some ludicrous reason, I have guilt. As in, shouldn’t I be with him? Phil says absolutely not. Do what’s best for him and me. And this is a guy who didn’t go to any preschool– his mom waited until he was 5 for Kindergarten. He’s perfectly social and well adjusted. (Well, sort of.) But I think it was a different time back then. I think there were more stay-at-home moms and preschool was more like daycare. Because the reality is, I’m not with Em every hour of every day anyway. And the reality is he would enjoy it. And I would get my breather.
I guess it’s the perception I’m worried about. I felt judged when I enrolled Fia at 2 years old for 2 mornings a week (though I was hugely pregnant so that alone should have given me a free pass). Judgment by whom, I’m not sure. I just remember over-explaining it to anyone who asked. Which is also stupid since I generally don’t give a sh-t what others think of me.
At any rate, I’m curious to hear from the moms–especially those like me who don’t work full time outside the house, but need a break a few times a week. At this age, do you prefer sitters or preschool? And why? Pros? Cons? Fill me in.
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babysitter, daycare, judgmental moms, mom friends, nanny, play dates, preschool, sitters, socialization, toddler playground, toddler socialization | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Monday, August 5th, 2013
This is such a stupid dilemma I can’t believe it’s taking up brain-space. But here goes.
Fia is starting at a Montessori preschool in a few weeks. I know she will be sad leaving her current one. So my first question is: When to break the news to her? A week before? A day before? I once said it casually, as in, “Fia, you are going to a new school in the fall.” I didn’t think she would actually “get it.” I’m an idiot. My daughter is not. She immediately burst into tears. So I changed the subject. I didn’t want her obsessing months in advance. She tends to be a bit of a worrier and I don’t want her to have needless anxiety.
Okay, dilemma #2: This school will mean a lot more schlepping for me. She is at her current preschool 3 days a week. It is about 6 minutes away. They nap them there (which she loves because she gets to nap with all her friends then wake up and play). For that reason, she goes from 9-4. The new preschool gives you two options: you can pick them up at 1 or at 2:30. They don’t nap them. Either way it cuts into the middle of her typical nap time. Which isn’t a huge deal, except….I DON’T WANT TO LOSE THE NAP!
It’s a 15-minute drive home in which she’s likely to fall asleep then not go back down once we are at home.
But my bigger dilemma is what to do about Emmett. He takes a 2 1/2 hour nap everyday around noon-2:30 give or take an hour on either end. So his nap is going to fall smack dab in the middle of pickup time for Fia. Which means he will either have to be woken up from his nap, or he will fall asleep in the car to and from, thus, not having a proper nap. Which all leads to ME! Their naps are my sanity. It’s this great time when the house is all mine and I can patter around either doing productive things like writing this blog, or unproductive things like napping while they nap.
But even if I had to give up their naps during the week, the naps are a cherished time for us as a family on the weekends. We always do something fun in the morning, then when Emmett goes down, Phil, Fia, Wayne (the cat) and I crawl into our big king bed and snooze. It is heaven. By giving up naps during the week I’m worried that she won’t take them on the weekends either.
I don’t want to hire a sitter for an hour-long window of time 5 days a week. Not that I could find someone anyway. I can expand into a few bigger chunks of time to make it worth their while, but not everyday.
Phil suggested pushing Emmett’s nap to 1:30. That way I can take him with me to get Fia at 1 and they both get home by 1:30. However, pushing his nap is easier said than done. I know he will fall asleep in the car. And once he snoozes for even a few minutes, I can rarely transfer him without waking him up, thus losing the rest of the nap.
So what to do? I know, it’s a huge problem. I’m sure you have all followed the puzzle on this and are ready to give me advice. The overachievers may have even taken notes. I mean, if it’s keeping me up at night, surely it will keep you up too. Then we will all need more naps.
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babysitter, daycare, Montessori, naps, preschool, sitters, sleep training, toddler nap schedule | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and serves as complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I’m not cut out to be a parent. I say that every morning. Rather, I think it as I’m limping out the front door with two reluctant children, a sippy cup, two lunches intricately planned by my wife, and a thermos of coffee, leaking steadily onto the tile floor. Only a few short years ago, I was enjoying the autonomy of a stack of pancakes, not a single parental concern as I mindlessly watched SportsCenter and sipped orange juice without interruption. Of course, life changes drastically when you suddenly have children to raise. I expected that. But what I didn’t expect were the ways in which its intricacies could blindside me without any notice at all.
My two sons, Antonio, 4, and Nate, 2, have taught me more about myself than I actually care to know. For one, they’ve taught me that I’m able to shout much louder than I ever believed I could. They’ve taught me that getting hit in the groin is still intensely painful no matter how underdeveloped the hitter’s muscles are. Mostly they’ve taught me to expect embarrassment. It’s all part of the gig, really.
To fully introduce myself to you, the reader, here are a few of the most memorable embarrassments I’ve faced as a parent.
1. Can you turn that down a little?
On my way to the grocery store, my shuffled iPod playlist yielded the ferociously aggressive Metallica song, “Master of Puppets.” Stressed out, I cranked the volume and serenaded fellow drivers with the deliberately intense chorus. As I peered into my rear view mirror, I noticed I wasn’t alone; both my sons were in the backseat. And yes, they were absolutely horrified. I’m sure it didn’t help that the lyrics included “Obey your master!” They’ve been on a healthy diet of yoga music ever since.
2. The mystery buckle
It was my first time taking care of both my kids solo while my wife, Sonia was out of town. I decided it’d be in my best interest to take them out so they didn’t get bored with me or realize I’d run out of ways to entertain them. Five minutes on the road and I noticed my younger son standing in the back seat. As in, just wandering around on foot. I pulled over into a gas station and was completely perplexed. Was my son that dexterous at 15 months that he could manipulate a car seat buckle? No, he wasn’t. I was just a fool who forgot to buckle him in. I begged my older son not to rat me out to his mother. Naturally, it was the first thing out of his mouth when he saw her.
3. Spell it out for me
Since neither of our sons have the ability to hear an assortment of letters and make a word out of them, my wife and I occasionally spell things out that we want to keep the boys from understanding. So while having his diaper changed, my son Nate was hiding a little bit more than just a bowel movement in his Huggies. I turned to my wife and asked, “Did you see his B-O-N-E-R?” So, of course, our older son began marching around the house, loudly chanting those letters to the tune and tempo of B-I-N-G-O. So, we added a new word to his vocabulary that day…
4. Don’t cry for me in public
The first daycare drop-off is a rite of passage for most parents. And it’s excruciating. It means so many things. It means you’re giving up control, that your newborn is no longer a newborn, and that you’re going to cry like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias . It’s simply going to happen. Even for guys. It certainly did for me the first time I had to drop my then 4-month-old son, Antonio off to be cared for by women whose names I’ve already forgotten. Surely, he was too young to know or care that I was leaving him there for the day, but that made little difference to me as I bolted for the exit, probably pushing a toddler out of the way in the process. By the time I got into my car with the door closed, I was a blubbering mess, a true wreck of a man. Tears started to drip from my face onto my khakis as I glanced to the left, noticing a young boy standing outside my window, with a look on his face like he’d just witnessed an alien abduction. His mother yanked him by the arm and muttered, “Don’t stare!” The lesson to be learned here is to remember when you don’t have tinted windows.
5. Gorilla warfare
This past April, my wife and I hosted my older son’s 4th birthday party. Every minute detail was Jake and the Neverland Pirates-themed, right down to a climactic treasure hunt where the kids would smash a treasure chest piñata and collect candy. But my cousin Brian had an idea to take this idea to another level. For reasons that would likely frighten me to know, he had a gorilla suit stashed in his car. So the two of us hatched what we thought was a brilliant scheme of having him wear it and surprise everyone near the end of the hunt. So, as planned, Brian emerged in the gorilla suit, interrupting my niece mid-swing, stealing the piñata away and raising his arms to wordlessly indicate victory. And the children were absolutely terrified. They screamed, they ran away, it was an epic party foul and failure. Parents had to console their traumatized children while my one aunt pleaded with Brian to abort mission. Ultimately, my wife was much less upset about the scaring of the children, though, than she was with the gorilla suit clashing with the pirate theme.
At the end of the day, though, despite my (generally) isolated failures as a father, I know that simply being present in my kids’ lives is a mark of success. My blog entries will cover everything from annoying baby-naming conventions to the awkwardness of being criticized on your parenting by a complete stranger. I thank Jill Cordes and Sherry Huang for the opportunity to share my stories with you all.
What are your most embarrassing moments as a parent? Feel free to leave them, and any other feedback, in the comments section–which is on facebook!
* Photo of man with bag on head courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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birthday party, carseat, dad crying, daycare, diaper change, embarrassing, gorilla suit, joe deprospero, men crying, parenthood, parenting, Parents, single dad, spelling out words, toddler carseat, toddler music | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Joe DeProspero, Mom Situations
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
When I walk in the door after having a sitter, my mere presence sets Emmett off. He is like a cat that can sense me a mile away. He starts howling. This has happened with the previous nanny, with every sitter…. basically everyone but Phil. Phil is excluded because the same thing happens when he walks in. Emmett wails.
He could be perfectly happy playing or eating, but wham, we walk in and he is suddenly aware that he hasn’t been with mom or dad and starts to cry. Often real tears stream down his little face. I usually walk over to him, pick him up and hug him. “Emmett,” I say, “it’s okay. Mama’s here.” His crying immediately ceases. He burrows himself into me, his arms down at his sides in a little cocoon. We call it “pod-ing” like he’s a pea going into his pod. I kiss his head. And every sitter says the same thing, “He was fine until he heard/saw you.”
I know this is part of an infant-toddler’s development. But it gets me every time. I have this heart pull. It’s not even conscious. It’s a visceral reaction. I know my kids are in excellent hands when they aren’t with me. Three days a week Fia is in preschool and absolutely loves it. She is really blooming there too.
I know Emmett has loads of fun with our sitters. I honestly don’t believe in the extreme version of attachment parenting–where you’re supposed to be with your kid 24/7 until they’re 3. Or 13. I’m not judging those who do it, but for me, I know exposing my kids to different people, different races, different environments is good for them. So why is it so hard to NOT feel guilty? I wish I knew…
I’ve said before that I think moms with full time jobs in some ways have it better. They have a purpose, whether it’s career aspirations, or providing for their family, etc. I’m in a murky place because I’m freelance and I don’t have a set job. Each time I plan my week I do it in a way that I get enough play time with Em, enough with Fia and enough with both. Then I fill in the gaps with a sitter. But why do I even have to make sure I clock in with my kids?
In November I stopped having a nanny. Now I have about 15 hours a week of help. But the fact that I want to say in the next sentence “but I try and book my sitter while they are napping” is just whacked. It’s like I have to continually justify to myself that I’m not abandoning my kids. I have to make sure people know that “Hey, I’m a good mom. And I’m around.” It’s ridiculous on so many levels.
My sitter Michele is amazing. She was our night nurse for, oh, 7 months. I didn’t feel guilty about that at all, because with Fia, my lack of sleep led to an insanity that wasn’t pretty. I am terrible without sleep. I never pulled an all-nighter in college. So justifying my night nurse for Emmett was easy. I have no regrets. I was a better mom to everyone. I don’t feel like I “missed out” on anything.
When we didn’t need Michele anymore she offered to babysit during the day. And get this: she has 5 kids. Yes 5. Her oldest is 19. Her youngest are twins Fia’s age: Maci and Cruz (pictured below).
As a veteran mom, Michele is always telling me to stop feeling guilty. She pounds into me that we all need our own time. I know she is right. But in going to my yoga class this morning, leaving to the cries of Emmett, I felt that usual pull on my heart. It sinks deep into my stomach. Not for long, but it is always there. Should I be doing this? In downward dog I noticed how bad my toes look. Damn, I need a pedicure. I guess I could do one while they nap tomorrow, since I have Michele again, I thought.
I am seriously pissed at myself for thinking this way. I would have slapped myself silly in my pre-kids day if I ever thought I would be like a walking blanket of guilt.
I often ask Michele to bring her twins. They go to daycare most days, but if Fia isn’t in preschool, the three of them have a near perfect chemistry. Plus, instead of saying to Fia, “Michele is coming today!” and her replying, “No mama, I only want you”, (cue the guilt) I can say, “Guess what? Maci and Cruz are coming!” She jumps up and down. “Yay! Yay! No Way! [pause] Ballet” (her new thing with rhyming words). I am reassured she won’t miss me. That I am ok.
It’s like the rational side of my brain can’t reconcile with the primal side of my being. Logically, I know I need a break. I know it’s okay to go to the store by myself. I know it’s okay to do yoga, get a pedicure, write a blog, and have time to myself. I also know it’s good for my kids on so many levels. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t even consider it. So this is all on me.
So how to get rid of the guilt? Maybe I need to go back to my hypnotist. Or maybe this is just the way it is when you’re a parent… battling conflicting emotions that put your heart and head in the middle.
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attachment parenting, babysitter, daycare, full time job, guilt, hypnotist, mom guilt, nanny, sahm, stay at home mom, toddler development, working mom | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read