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Thursday, November 17th, 2011
I love her to death, but nothing about Caroline has ever been easy.
Okay, that’s not completely true. She slept through the night early on and was pretty consistent about that until I switched her to a big girl bed (at which point she started getting up a million times a night and still hasn’t stopped, five months later).
Other than that, I love her but she’s high-needs to the max. Starting with the whole NICU experience, through the reflux and the weight loss and the gross motor delay and the picky eating to the extreme and the death grip on the binky, it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. She’s only very recently started to entertain herself for short periods of time, which makes it tough on a single mom who has lots to do. Let’s just say that I’ve never been one of those moms who has an easygoing kid and thinks parenting is a breeze.
We’ve worked on potty training halfheartedly for months. I think the real problem was that I was too
lazy busy to really get after it. But she’ll be three this winter, and she’s more than ready for preschool in every other way, so I talked to daycare and we decided to take the plunge. I put her in big girl underwear and sent her to school with no diapers. That was yesterday.
She’s had maybe… three accidents total over two days. She asks to go when she needs to, and just does her thing and gets her little sticker reward.
I can’t help but think …that’s it?? Come on, Caro! You’ve made everything else a challenge for me! You’re almost three years old and I still need 17 cups of caffeinated beverage to survive a single day! You can’t let me get off this easy! What will I complain about on my blog?? Think of the blog!
Maybe she’s plotting something. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and she’ll have fingerpainted her entire room with her own poop. Maybe I’m going to have to give her a sticker every time she pees until she’s in college. Maybe she wants something. That must be it. Listen, Caro, you can’t have a pony, if that’s what you’re after. Mommy’s way too poor and this apartment is nowhere near big enough.
Anyway, for now, until she does something diabolical, I’ll take it. I want to believe that it’s that easy… I just don’t know if I can!
(Any potty training horror stories, please do share in the comments. Don’t spare me. I need to know what I might be up against. Thanks in advance.)
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Friday, August 26th, 2011
Today is my single-mom-a-versary. My Independence Day. One year ago, I told Tyler that I wanted a divorce.
(At least I’m pretty sure it’s today. If not, it’s very close to it.)
I should probably say that I have mixed feelings about this day. I should say that I am happy for my freedom from an unhealthy relationship, but I’m sad that my daughter will forever have to divide her time between her parents. I should say that I love my new life far more than I loved my old, but that I am sorry to have been the one to pull the plug on our little family.
These are the things I maybe should say. I often talk that way on this blog and I’ll admit that there’s some truth to it, to the mixed feelings and the sadness for what will never be. Then again, a lot of times I’m just afraid that I’ll get flamed for how truly, unabashedly, gloriously proud I am that I ended my marriage.
But today is Independence Day, and today I have no doubts or sadness, and today I don’t care what anyone says about my decision. Today I am happy and thrilled and proud. A year ago, I had the courage to stand up and face the fact that my charade of a marriage was not what I wanted for my child or for myself. I knew that I would break his heart and that nearly everyone I knew would be disappointed in me, including my own family. And it’s not that I didn’t care, but I knew with every fiber of my being that the choice I was making was the right one, and so I did it anyway.
I was done acting. I was done pretending. A year ago today, I told him that it was over, and I meant it, and I never backed down. And on this day every year, I plan to always be proud of myself for that.
So where am I now? I look back and remember, and really, what a difference a year makes. I’ve gone through the gut-wrenching pain of divorce and come out the other side, stronger. I pushed through the lonely times and learned to love my own company and treasure my time spent by myself. I took a good hard look at the person I was, and quite honestly I didn’t really care for her, so I’ve done what I can to become the kind of woman who my daughter will be proud to call her mother. Single motherhood is no longer a chore or a struggle or some scary, threatening obstacle to be overcome. It’s just my way of life now, and it is happy and fulfilling, and I am so, so very content. I am lucky to have everything that I have.
One year later, one husband lost, one diploma gained, and one happy little nontraditional family formed. This is how far I have come today, on the first anniversary of my Independence Day.
I wonder where I will be in my life by the next one.
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Sunday, July 10th, 2011
I love my toddler dearly, but she is a handful and a half sometimes.
Caroline was born prematurely, and when she was younger, she had a gross motor delay. She didn’t crawl until she was 13 months or walk until she was a little over 18 months, and she reached those milestones with the help of physical therapy. Everyone told me, “be grateful she’s not mobile! You’ll miss these days when she just sits and plays with toys and can’t move around and cause trouble!” and I always wanted to punch those people in the face because hello that is not P.C. to say to someone whose baby has a delay. When she finally did walk, I was so thrilled that I didn’t even care how much trouble she got into.
Now, well… I guess I see what they were saying.
Take last night, for example. I started the tub running for Caroline’s bath and brought her out of the bathroom with me to get her pajamas and diaper. She raced back, pushed the button on the doorknob to lock the door, and slammed the door shut. With the tub still running inside. I stifled a four-letter word (with limited success) and grabbed my toolkit for a skinny screwdriver to stick in the little hole in the back of the doorknob. As I struggled to pick the lock, Caroline snatched the hammer out of the toolkit and proceeded to try to break down the door with it, yelling “KNOCK KNOCK! KNOCK KNOCK!!” and none of this is made up.
My friend suggested that I tape the buttons on the doorknobs so that she couldn’t lock the doors, and I thought that was a great idea… except I was out of tape because Caro had recently stolen it and unrolled it to make a giant sticky blob, which she had then ever-so-thoughtfully attached to my bedroom mirror.
I am totally writing myself a prescription for Xanax. (Or a nanny. Can you write a prescription for a nanny? Note to self: email the DEA about that.)
Other times her devilish streak has nothing to do with her actions. She usually comes into my room when she wakes up in the morning and asks to “snuggle wif mommy”, which is adorable. I pulled her into my bed the other morning and she lay there quietly for awhile before asking, “Mommy?”
Caro: “I think I not be good girl today. I not.”
Me: “Oh? I think I’m glad you’re going to daycare today.”
At least it makes for good stories. What devilish things do your kids do that make you want to want to simultaneously rip your hair out and laugh out loud?
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Friday, May 20th, 2011
Hi! I’m Julia, single mom to Caroline, age two, who I adore but did not plan for. I got pregnant with her unexpectedly about halfway through dental school. I was married at the time. I continued with school until I went into preterm labor around 28 weeks, at which point I took a year off. I went back to dental school in January 2010, when Caroline was 11 months old. That summer, I filed for divorce from my husband, and our divorce was finalized this past February. I finally graduated from dental school just last week. My blog is about the challenges and joys of being a single mother and a dental student… and now that I’m done with school, a brand-new dentist.
I’ve been blogging for about three years and just moved all my old posts here to Parents (after much effort and HTML editing and breaking and fixing of tags, which probably would have been no big deal if I actually knew what a tag was, which I don’t). Since most of you reading this are probably new to my blog, I thought I’d put together a list of the posts that summarize my story the best. For the rest of you who already know me and followed me here… a little walk down memory lane. Or skip this post and wait for the new stuff!
Pick and choose and skip at will!
Shock: The day I found out I was pregnant.
The perils of unplanned pregnancy: The start of the troubles between me and Tyler.
Preterm WHAT??: Preterm labor begins at 28 weeks.
Suddenly a stay-at-home mom: Temporarily leaving school and going on bedrest.
It’s a girl!: Caroline is born at 36 weeks!
My birth story will have to wait: NICU trials and tribulations.
Birth story: This one’s self-explanatory.
A paper cut on the eye: Struggles with breastfeeding and pumping.
My “I-will-never’s”: It’s so much easier to parent before you actually become a parent.
See you in 10 minutes!”: I was so not a newborn kind of person.
Life is good: Just kidding, I was so totally a newborn kind of person. That day.
Whose leg do I have to hump to get a referral around here?: Issues with reflux.
Diagnosis: I am diagnosed with postpartum depression and PTSD.
Quitting time: I quit pumping in order to save my sanity.
Single mom’ing it: Tyler’s long and frequent absences take their toll.
I can do this: I return to dental school after my year at home.
Milestone anxiety: Caroline’s gross motor delay and resulting physical therapy.
May 16, 2010: Was once supposed to be my graduation day… but was still a good one.
Overly personal statement: Thoughts on having a baby during dental school.
I think I need to clarify: Explanation of my decision to file for divorce.
Empty: Tyler officially moves out.
Dear Caroline: A letter to my daughter about why I left her father.
“I don’t think she smiles like that”: Finding my happy place.
Off-limits: Struggles with dating after divorce.
Same team: My roller coaster plunges down again, and stories of divorce counseling.
Irretrievable breakdown: Our divorce is finalized.
“How do you do it all?”: Well, as it turns out, I really don’t.
That which angers you, controls you: I struggle with Tyler introducing his new girlfriend to Caroline.
Control freak: Continued struggles and introspection.
Alone: Thoughts on being single.
Prayer for my daughter: Reflections on what I want for my daughter, based on my own trainwreck of a personal life.
DMD… finally: My graduation from dental school… at last.
Whew. Long list. But it’s way shorter than reading all of my past posts. And if the past three years of my life have been anything, they’ve been eventful. Enjoy, and welcome to my blog!
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Babies, Blogging, Breastfeeding, Caroline, Dating, Divorce, milestones, NICU/Prematurity issues, physical therapy, Pregnancy, Reflux, School, Single Parenting, Tyler, Visitation | Categories:
Caroline, Dental School, Divorce, Must Read, NICU/Prematurity issues, Pregnancy, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance
Monday, May 16th, 2011
I graduated from dental school yesterday. I’m a real doctor now. (Well, as much of a real doctor as a dentist can be. If someone has a heart attack, you should probably still call 911.)
I finally got to put on that cap and gown and cross the stage to have someone drape me in that lilac hood.
And I was so proud to stand next to my friends and my colleagues while I was granted that degree that I have wanted and worked towards for so long.
I had so much support, yesterday and always… my family who has loved and supported me through 22 long years of schooling, and finally got to watch me complete my doctorate…
One of my best friends Lauren and her husband Dan, who drove six hours to sit through a very long day of speeches, just to be there for me while I got my degree…
And of course Caroline. Who was my biggest motivation throughout the second half of this really difficult program. My mom handed her to me as I marched out of the convention center with the other graduates, and I carried her through the receiving line of faculty and VIPs, in her little lilac dress. She put her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder and I whispered to her that mommy was a dentist now, that I did it for her. She said “Mommy dentist? Happy ‘wation, mommy.” (Which I assume meant “graduation”, and my mother taught her to say.)
She is only two, but I think she is proud of me. I know, for sure, that I am proud of myself.
Allow me a moment of what I hope is more pride than conceit… I have been through so much over the past year and there were so many times when I wanted to lie down and quit or give up. But I did not. I kept going and I didn’t just finish this program, I did well, and I stayed true to myself and the things that I always knew that I wanted. I hope I have set an example for my daughter when she is old enough to understand what I did for myself and for her.
And I hope that if you read this and you are a mother, or a single mother, like me, and you are in school or are thinking about going back… that you believe that it’s not what so many of my classmates say, that they don’t know how I could ever do it when I had someone else’s life to put before my own. She was not an obstacle to this achievement, but my biggest motivator and the single most important reason that I never lost sight of my goal.
I once was afraid that because I got pregnant halfway through school, my career was over. But it wasn’t that way. I can have both. Now I have my DMD, and I have my daughter. I am so happy, proud and content. There is nothing more that I need.
And to everyone who has ever asked me how I could do it with her, I guess I would say that the real question is, how could I ever have done it without her?
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