So much noise…

I’m in sensory overload. We are on the road. Driving back to NY day 2. We just went to Panera for a late lunch. I feel like I’m going to be sick. I don’t know if it’s because of my food or the fact that everyone is yelling or needing something from me. Juliana is testing the strength of our windows. I’m sure her voice can’t shatter them but she is willing to give it a whirl. 

Colin is doing his sleepy song which is a combo him and whine. Matt has decided to turn the radio up and marley’s exodus is pounding my head into pudding. Juliana is currently talking about her poop. Yes it’s disgusting. She is inspired because at the last gas station she went and her poop was green. Bright green. What the hell did she eat? I don’t have a clue and I was so confused and grossed out by it. She now wants to discuss what would her poop look like in a multitude of colours. We are in crawling traffic. Bliss I say. Bliss. 

Family Travels-snacks

We have just pulled out of the driveway of my parents house. We are on our way home driving from Florida to New York. It has been a wonderful holiday. 

We are less than ten minutes into the drive and Juliana is wanting snacks and wiping her blanket around like a lasso. 

Juliana is a skinny little thing but eats constantly. We got into the car and she wasn’t even strapped in and she is asking for snacks. We have to set timers so she waits in between snacks. It’s exhausting. We have a back seat that is filled with 2 children and snacks. It’s mind blowing. 

I want to encourage healthy eating but don’t want to get obsessive over food because well I have food/ body issues. I am doing the best I can to celebrate my body so she doesn’t grow up in a house of self loathing modeled behavior. Not easy. Especially because she needs/wants to eat constantly.  

She went the first four hours of our road trip asking to eat a new thing before she digested what she already was eating. It gets annoying and concerning. Road trips mean junk food. I try to keep it healthy but a lot of junk finds it’s way into car. Gummi bears, starburst, chips but we also eat granola, fruit, trail mix and carrots. 

Juliana is a bottomless pit sometimes. She was double fisting puffs and Cheetos. It was comical and crazy. She can eat a pint of blueberries and about 10 strawberries then chase it with a granola bar. 

Lead with love

We are in a challenging time, challenging phase with my four yr old. She turned four a month ago and I was hoping that with her birthday a magic lever would be mystically pulled by the universal force of love and gratitude. A lever that would transform the boundary testing three year old into a breezy charismatic four year old. This did not happen. It does not exist. I am everyday a new shade of exhausted. 

Ñbn bñnaggyjb Within this past week, I have reached new levels of frustration and anger and yes, I lost my composure on more than one occasion. I went to crazy town with no hope of return. I think I screamed more this weekend than I did in her first three years of life. I am not proud. It isn’t funny. Does it make me a “bad parent”? I don’t think so. I can be honest with myself and give myself the kindness I would extend a friend. 

Raising children is not easy. I never thought it would be. However, no matter how much experience with kids I have had, nothing prepared me for how complex my relationship could be with my daughter. 

Madness at the Library!

This is a ridiculous story. Seriously, I can hardly believe this happened to me.

Yesterday it was quite cold out and our three year old was wanting to play. We had had a tough morning of battling the three-nager power struggles. I decided to take her to our local Library. This is something we have been wanting to do and haven’t since the birth of my son five weeks ago. My daughter loves book – she really LOVES books. She loves going to the library and bookstores. We haven’t been to our local because it was under renovations for a long time. This was an exciting adventure.

When we arrived, the library was not busy. There was only three people using the main library and another mother with her daughter in the children’s library. My little one and I went to a table and immediately set up shop. We got lots of books and started to read. She invited “grumpy” over to join in – a large stuffed version of the character from Snow White. eventually J went over to the table with wooden toys to play with the other little girl. Making friends at three years old can be exciting and terrifying – hell it can be like that at any age. Soon the girls were laughing, playing, and then began a round of “chase” using the wooden dinosaur and giraffe supplied by the library.

I began a chat with the other Mom and I too was excited at the prospect of another friend. Her daughter is the same age. We both have babies as well, mine 5.5 weeks, hers 6 months. We asked the girls to practice their quiet voices a couple of times when they squealed in delight. We encouraged them to take some books and read together. They did this. They took some books over to a corner and sat and pretended to read. It was so cute.

However, there was a staff member at the library who began a tyraid that I will never forget. This woman came out of an office and stormed over to myself and the other mom. SHe scolded us saying the girls were too loud and the screaming would have to stop. Now by this time another little boy and an adult had arrived. The little boy was chasing the girls as well and yes there was some screeching. All in fun. They were pretending to be the dinosaurs and animals in their books. We asked our girls to be quiet. (mind you nothing was said to the young boy or his father/grandfather)

The staff member came out later when the girls were quietly reading and approached my self and  my new mom friend M. This staff member thrust a puzzle piece at me and said nothing. I was confused. She shook it at me, I took it from her and she gruffly told me it was for the table. M reassured the woman that were planning on doing a clean up with the girls when we were ready to leave. Staff member acknowledges this by thrusting another piece of puzzle at me. Then she says “Oh and they left books on the floor.”

I am confused. Aren’t we supposed to be excited that children love books and not just TV? If you are employed by a library system you know how desperate we are to get children engaged in our public library systems. Also, if children are reading a book don’t freak that it is out of place. I turned to my new friend and said, “this is why people go to Barnes and Noble. You can read anything, stay as long as you like, play with the toys, move books around and you’re not even forced to buy. Why go to a library?”

We had a chat about how our town offers very few programs for kids. We both agreed that neighboring towns offer so much more in camps, activities and programs. It is sad tat our library was closed for a long time to renovate and you can’t see any difference.

Soon the staff member came out again and approached us. She yelled. Yes, she actually began to raiser her voice. She said that our children forced everyone to leave the library. No one wanted to be there because of them. SHe was full on leaning in, pointing and yelling. Out of the fecking blue. M politely told the woman that there was no need to yell. This apparently upset the staff person more. She stomped around slamming books. She went after my child. J was in their little corner where they had been reading. she was waiting for her friend and the staff person start to approach her. She was menacing and told my daughter to go that mommy needs her.” I harshly told the woman to stop and went to collect my girl. I was only 10 feet away. I explained that the lady was upset and we should leave before Mommy gets upset too. While I did this the staff person went verbally after M. She yelled at her that she couldn’t do her job and put books away because we were blocking her path where we were standing(apparently excuse  me is not in her vernacular). She screamed at M that she couldn’t get her work done in her office because our children were so loud. I said these girls are only three and she should check herself as it was getting very scary and hostile. She yelled that we should complain to her supervisor. M asked her her name and the woman screams “Majorie” then slams her office door.

We collected the girls and tried to nonchalantly exit. I was flustered because I had told my daughter that we would take books and a movie out. I also needed a new card. I was so riled up and afraid I would escalate things further. M said she had to return some things while I left. Thankfully I had thought to give her my name and info so we could meet again. I was so upset. As we were leaving my daught said” that woman has a bad attitude.” Yes, J, yes she does.

We arrived home and I tried to tell my husband what happened. I was repeatedly interrupted by my daughter who told Daddy that a woman yelled at mommy and was scary and mean. J was upset that she can’t go back to the Library but I reassured her that we will go back. I immediately go on the phone with my Town Supervisor. I felt horrible that I left my new friend there. I just new my limits and I knew I would get “ugly” if I stayed.

Later that evening I received an email from M. Her accounts of what happened after I left the library are here:

It was nice to meet you and J today at the library.
That librarian, Marjorie, was truly off her rocker! After you left, I went in to return books and she came in yelling about us to the other librarians. I asked her if she was so concerned about the noise, why was she being ten times louder than the three year olds.  She went into the back office and said she was filing an incident report about us.  The other librarian asked me if I wanted to fill one out too so I did. While I was standing at the desk filling out the form, she kept shouting and screaming in the back office, slamming things down, and actually started hysterically crying!  I heard her say “I’m going to beat the shit out of her!” about me all while I was just standing there filling out the report.  I asked the other two librarians if they heard that and they both acted like they hadn’t because I could tell they are afraid of her.  Neither of them would make eye contact with her and one of them suggested that she go home so she could calm down and she said that was exactly what she planned to do because she couldn’t take this anymore and that the “library wouldn’t exist without her” and that she “barely gets paid anything”. She then stormed out of the library crying. The other two librarians both suggested that we report the incident to the Director, K M.  I filled out the report which will be given to her and here is her email address in case you are interested in reporting Marjorie as well. I wrote on the report that I was shocked that the library employs someone who is so clearly mentally unstable, especially to be working around children.

Ridiculous right?! I have emailed the appropriate person. I have left a message with my Town Supervisor. I am going back to the Library. And be ready folks, I will record any and all encounters with this Majorie if needed. This happened…At the LIBRARY.

Love each moment

My little one is sick. She has a cough, sniffles and is generally miserable. We are cuddled up on the sofa watching some movies. I am holding her and doing my best to be patient that she is reluctant to eat and refuses medicine. It has been a trying weekend with her attitude and now I feel sad because she may have been beginning to feel under the weather.

However, when I think about the tantrums or the refusing medicine, I thank God she is here , no matter how difficult she may be at times. On my drive home from work, I listened to the news and reports and reflection about the recent terror attacks on school children in Pakistan. It is devastating. Just days after the two year anniversary of the school children killed in Newtown CT. My heart aches for the families and the state of the world.

Violence, terror and crime fills our daily news and lives. I look at my little girl and I am filled a desperate hope that she will be safe, healthy and happy for a long lifetime. I cannot imagine how families cope with such loss. My life is full of joy and purpose because of my daughter. She is my reason for living as a better person, every day.

I pray for peace. I pray for those families in Pakistan that they find a way to cope and find inner strength. I pray that terrorists and criminals no longer harm innocent people. I pray that my daughter can be safe and maybe even sheltered from this devastation. Every parent should have years and years of “I love you Mama”.

Eye of a Storm

Over the past few months, we have been bombarded with the rage and reason of our little girl. She just turned three. She is attempting to be Master of Universe before she is fully potty trained. She is on her way!

As I re-read and then posted my last entry about a day when she was on a rein of terror, I have reflected on my emotions and how I express them. I have reflected on my husband’s expression of his. This little girl has made me realise that while we are helping her to deal with her emotions and find healthy and safe ways of expressing them – we too must do a little work on ourselves. We are her constant models of coping and striving. I know I could use some attention to detail in the area of anger management or self esteem.

Today I am thinking about how I deal with being angry, hurt, frustrated and embarrassed. All the things that set her off – how do they manifest in me. This is an evening or weekend of simply noticing and paying attention to what I do – or not do.

From that I might be able to make some healthy changes to my own lifestyle.

Thanks kiddo.

feeling kind of seasick

**This was drafted Nov. 2 during a temper tantrum. I didn’t post then, but shall do so now.

As a mom and an educator, I have been diligent to read and discuss the temperaments of children especially during crucial times in their development. No matter how much I read or talk about with other people I am ill equipped to handle and process the mood swings and extremes of my toddler’s temper tantrums. I am powerless. I am weak. I am shattered. I am a puddle begging for mercy.

Her first real “scream at me for no apparent reason for two hours” tantrum came the first week of September 2013. I know this because I took a photograph and a short video. Not because I intend to tease her with it later in life, but because I was so taken aback by her behavior and didn’t know what was happening. I was alone – my husband was working and it seemed to materialize out of nowhere. It was irrational and upsetting. Yet, it was done in two hours completely and didn’t visit us again for many months. The first tantrum was about an ice Lollie, or the color of one I should say. It was mental…so I thought then.

Months later we saw the next surge of difficult behavior. My daughter is very strong willed and stubborn. I want so much to love and embrace this but it can be difficult because she has officially decided to have her own view on the world that many times clashes with our schedule. I accept her as her own spirit, her own person. I try my best not to be unrealistic in what I ask of her while she navigates this journey. But I might be going crazy in the process.

This summer we had a lot of travel plans. In hindsight, not a good idea. However, the predictable thing about toddler’s rage is it is unpredictable. We had no idea she would hit the “terrible twos/threes” while on summer vacation. She had brief moments of power struggles and time outs. But this summer she began to unleash the beast.

I am currently sitting on the sofa trying to hold it together. My daughter is in the other room throwing a fit of epic proportion. I am alone. My husband is working and I am exhausted. She is dismantling the last stronghold of sanity I have. I am in tears and broken hearted. It is excrusiating for a mother to watch their child loose their temper, be in pain, struggle with their emotions. Today if my daughter is not trying to fling herself out of her crib, she is trying to climb back in. During all of this, she yells like a banshee. Normally when she is upset, she needs me and only me. However, with this recent wave of outburts, no one can comfort her. We have to surf the tidal wave of toddler terror.

We have seen her pull her hair out, throw toys, books – anything she can grab. We have witnessed her scream, drool and spit like a scene from the exorcist. She hits, kicks and bites. It is madness. On more than one occasion I find myself terrorfied that she is mentally ill. There is NO way that this can be age appropriate or normal. Yet I try to get direction and solace from blogs and medical journals that all say – yup, welcome to the club. We are parents of Toddlers and there is no sanity till maybe the age of 4 or 5. Seriously?! Can I make it? We have another child growing inside of me and I am overcome with fear of the alliance that will be made against me and their father.

 

girl pride

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my husband and I had plans to kayak on the Hudson River. We hired a babysitter and planned an afternoon date. On our way to get lunch and go for a paddle, we stopped in at an open house for some beautiful town houses around the corner from where we live.

We were not in the market to buy but we were curious. Maybe it is something we could do in the future. We strolled around the place and enjoyed our visit. Before we left, the agent representing the property approached us. She asked us about our lifestyle and needs. She saw that I am pregnant so she asked about kids. We told her we have a daughter and a son on the way. This is where it went oh so typical and oh so sour for me.

I am fed up with this stereotype that is perpetuated by worst of all – women, mothers.

This woman felt the need to try to “reassure” me that my son will be “easier”. Because boys are so much easier than girls she claimed. I informed her that I didn’t feel that my daughter was difficult or an imposition on my life. One would think she would have taken that as a cue – STOP TALKING.

Oh no, this woman launched into how boys settle things in their own way. “They figure out how to argue and fight and be done with it when playing with each other. But Girls”, she said, “Girls are bitchy and mean. Trust me she says put a bunch of little girls together and it gets nasty quickly. It is such a pain. I mean the boys fight, they hit and settle it.”

I quickly told her that I think that is a product of socialization to think that it is OK for boys to fight it out but girls should be proper at all times. I told her that maybe her perception or expectations are unreasonable and gender biased. I love my daughter and hope she will find a multitude of ways of expressing her feelings that are respectful to others and truthful to who she is as an individual.

This “boys will be boys” attitude is what allows us to look the other way as some young men develop traits, attitudes and misconceptions about what it means to be a man and how to treat women. If we take some ownership in how as a society, especially parents, we allow and foster an idea that boys are allowed to be hostile or aggressive. Just the same way that we don’t label our boys as being “bossy”. We encourage them to be “leaders”. Women have difficulties expressing anger, frustration and dominance in life due to a lifetime of stifling their emotions and desires because they are not seen as ‘ladylike’.

I am looking forward to beginning a life long love with my son and watching him grow and evolve. The same as I am on a glorious adventure with my daughter. Of course there will be differences but mostly stemming from the fact that they are different people. I want to foster their individual spirits as well as giving them foundation to deal with their emotions and assert themselves in their world in a positive healthy way.

 

Trust Yourself

We are full steam ahead on this new adventure of including another spirit into this family. It is exciting, scary, and mind blowing all at the same time. I am 14 weeks pregnant and getting LARGE. It seems as though my body fell back into being pregnant quite comfortably and quickly.

I have been exhausted and feeling a bit haggard. Growing one baby while chasing a toddler is not an easy feat. I have had to exercise a lot of control to keep my anger, frustration and fatigue in check.

I think today I have turned a corner. I was flooded with doubt and general feelings of insecurity for the past few months. I know a lot of this is hormonal but I also think I had lost my inner strentgh. For the past three days I have been using a mantra of “trust yourself”. I am using this to propel myself into opportunities to be kinder to myself and put myself at the forefront of my energies.

Today I have gotten some work for my job done, I went to the gym and I have done some chores around the house. This included some amazing quality time with my little girl. This morning she picked carrots from our garden and ate them for breakfast. It was pure joy we shared while coloring and drawing farms to visit. I washed some new clothes for the baby and got officially excited to do this again. I look in the mirror and I have already gotten back the pudgy and chub I had worked so hard to loose but I know that this is weight of happiness I carry now. I don’t have to feel shamed or defeated by my appearance. I am building a nest.

Unexpected News Pt 2

I have been on a journey of pushing myself to shed my barriers and baggage of my childhood and rediscover the free wheeling, risk-taking artist within.The news of having baby number two sent me into a scary place of doubt and fear.

I am realizing some of my fears are because of my own experiences as a sibling. I don’t have a lot of happy brother-sister memories. I wish I did. That’s part of the problem. I had a shitty relationship with my brother and I spent most of my life trying to pretend it was better or that we were close. I would have been better of  to accept it as a shitty relationship and move on. Not easy for a child to do.

I am worried that my daughter and her sibling will fight life my brother and I did. I was on the receiving end of a lot of verbal and physical abuse. I did not recognize it as unacceptable or horrific circumstances – it was just my life. I went most of my life thinking this is what most people experienced. I have felt like an outsider and worthless because I did not prescribe to my brother’s bully sense of humor. I kept quiet and let this fester and destroy me from the inside out. I know that it is not a family dynamic I want for my children. I am working on the concept that I will foster a different dynamic with my family. It is going to take a lot of work but I must do it.

Juliana gives me so much joy. I am learning about life and love every moment because of her. Maybe the Universe has decided I have earned an extra helping of this love. I have felt so unworthy my whole life but there is an excitement to think I am being blessed.

We have another appointment with the doctors on Monday. Juliana is going with me to hear the baby’s heartbeat. After this appointment we are telling our families the news. I need to embrace all of this for myself and not look to others’ reactions to determine my fate. Sometimes I still get caught in a trap of needing my parents’ approval or acceptance. This is my new family and I am determined to wrap myself in love and bravery.

It is so surreal we are having this baby. We spent so much time debating whether or not we should engage in any intervention. We decided to not pursue medical help and let it be. “one and done”. Both children were not planned but the Universe giving us what we need when we need it. Ok- here we go.