Friday, January 29, 2010

Nobody Likes It When Mommy Yells

This morning was not a good one. It was on the heels of another rough night, with the Pookie sick or teething so up a lot and the Pumpkin having bad dreams or something and up also. I only mention the rough night to set the stage.

You see, I was grumpy and had very little patience this morning, which I told her as soon as I got up. So when the Pumpkin wouldn't wash her hands? Even though she knows the rule is to wash her hands after potty/diaper changes and before playing with her brother? And I had reminded her, told her she had to, and otherwise said it was going to happen a few times already? I just picked her up and forcibly washed her hands.

It wasn't my best strategy, since it resulted in a 10 minute meltdown on her part, which not only included red-faced crying, but also what can only be called screeching. Normally, I do some version of the "you can do it yourself by the count of 3, or I'm going to do it" or playful parenting to get the job done. But I was tired and cranky and just did it. I didn't apologize, because I had told her numerous times to do it. Just the same, I should have had more patience and used a different method to get it done so I wouldn't have to deal with the resulting meltdown.

But we resolved that. I told her if she couldn't stop yelling/shriking, I was going into the nursery to nurse the baby because it was distracting him. She could come get us when she was done. And she did, with tears in her eyes and arms outstretched for a hug. We moved on.

Although we had some fun playing and brushing teeth, getting her dressed was a trial. She was all "No!" and running off and grabbing things out of bags. I just lost my patience again and yelled, really yelled, "Quit getting into things and get dressed!"

Her face fell, and the tears started up again. But this wasn't the pissed off screaming. She was upset that I yelled, which isn't something I do often. I immediately picked her up, hugged her and apologized. "I'm sorry I yelled. I shouldn't have yelled. I just lost my patience."

She sobbed, "That's okay, Mommy."

I carried her into her room and started to get her dressed, and she squirmed off my lap and was about to run off again. So this time, I thought I'd warn her.

"Pumpkin, I'm losing my patience and am about to start yelling again."

Well, lo and behold, that worked! She turned around and let me get her dressed. I reminded her that I didn't have much patience this morning and was grumpy and needed her to cooperate with me.

She doesn't want me to yell. I don't want to yell. But when she is not cooperating and I'm cranky? I lose my patience. I don't remember my normal strategies. I'm not a playful parent. No, I yell and force her to do things. It happens.

But warning her that I was losing my patience and going to yell actually got her to work with me. I certainly don't recommend anyone follow the path I took this morning in general. As I talked about with my sister this morning, I don't want to threaten her with yelling. What I really wanted to do was to show her what was going on with me, get her to realize that when she doesn't listen or cooperate when I really need her to that I will get upset, and when I get really upset, I will yell. I want her to see it coming so she can learn to distinguish it herself. I'm also trying to model the ability to voice emotions and recognize what those emotions make people want to do.

I'm teaching life skills!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Cuddlicious Plushie

The Pookie's diaper leaked in the middle of the night a few days ago. I think it was about 1:30, and he was wailing. I got him out of the crib, took his sleeper off and changed his diaper, with him screaming the whole time. He was REALLY upset. Probably because I turned the light on when I realized there was a big wet spot in his crib.

Although I had originally planned to change him and change his sheets before nursing him, he was so upset that I ditched that plan once I had him in a new diaper. I knew he was hungry and needed to calm down, for his sake and the sake of his sister sleeping in the room next door. So I cradled him in my arms, sat in the glider and started to nurse him, while he was just in his diaper.

OMG, that boy is SO cuddly! His skin is so soft it's like butter. He has just fattened up a bit, in preparation for the coming growth spurt and for crawling, which his is so close to doing. So many of his features have that adorable round-baby quality. He is, in a word, plush.

I relish this age and stage of babyhood: when he is physically soft and tender, when he is babbling with intent, when he wants to snuggle into me when I hold him. I've said before that I don't particularly enjoy being pregnant or the infant stage. But this stage? I LOVE.

I did finish getting him into a new sleeper, changing the sheets, turning off the light, nursing him on the other side and then "burping him" which was really a bit of cuddle with his head nuzzling into my neck. When I put him back in his crib, he stretched his neck, adjusted his back and fell back asleep.

While I do miss cosleeping with him lying on my arm, we both are sleeping better with him in his crib and me in my bed. And I still get 2-4 times a night to nurse and cuddle with him in the glider. Sometimes, I even get to snuggle his smooth, soft, plush naked skin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Body of a Mom

This morning on the radio I heard an advertisement for a plastic surgeon for specials on "Mommy Makeovers." The ad started with a woman who said that she had kids and she loves being a mom, but... even though she's back to her pre-pregnancy weight, her body just isn't the same as it was pre-kids. And she misses that body and wishes she had it again.

Completely typical, right? I'm sure just about every mom has felt that way--I know I have!

So this plastic surgeon is offering the "Mommy Makeovers" to get moms back their pre-kids body. He can make your breasts full/perky again, tuck that tummy, take away the stretch marks, lipo those saddlebags! Before you know it, you'll have the body of a 20 year old again!

While I'm sure that many women would love to have their "old" body back, I have a big problem with this whole concept. Mainly the idea that after having gone through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and all the other things we go through on the road of parenthood (specifically motherhood), our bodies aren't good enough, at least in the looks department.

After all that we've been through, should our bodies still look like we are in our early 20s, taut and firm, perky and full, slim and smooth? Is it a reasonable for mothers to think that when they are back to their pre-pregnancy weight (if they even get back to that weight) they should also be back to their pre-pregnancy form? And where does this expectation come from? From Hollywood, with the women who are able to hire personal trainers and plastic surgeons immediately after giving birth? From our society who has developed terms such as "first wives" and "trophy wives"? From other women who judge people by appearances?

I have before talked about how amazed I am at my body--what it can do/has done and how well it's been holding up after 33 years of wear and tear. And while my body was pretty rocking at 21, I don't ever expect it to look like that again. I wouldn't even want it to! That body at 21, it hadn't done what this body has done. It hadn't gotten pregnant or given birth. It hadn't nursed babies or worn them around in slings. It hadn't spent almost 3 years as a mother or almost 3 years prior to that just trying to conceive.

To eliminate the marks and changes, in my mind, would be to belittle not only the experience of becoming and being a mother, but also the natural order of the world, of humanity and of womanhood. Instead of turning to plastic surgery to try and recapture our inexperienced youth, we should be appreciative of the bodies we have and the way that women's bodies SHOULD look at this age and stage of our lives. We are still beautiful, and our bodies are amazing. We should be focused on that, not on what we once looked like.

Recently, Kate of The Big Piece of Cake wrote a post on DC Metro Moms about wearing a bathing suit now that she's a mom. My favorite line of that post is, "I look like somebody's mother. And it has set me free - free from that ridiculous egomaniacal fear of how my body is perceived." While I, like most women, still want to look good, be in shape and feel good about my body, I think it's so important to have realistic expectations of how we should look, especially once we've become mothers. Personally, I have also found that being somebody's mother is very freeing. But I think feeling this way is only possible when we have realistic expectations for our bodies.

Having said all that, some people still aren't going to be happy with their bodies the way they are, especially post-babies. If those people would feel better with a little tuck and lift, that's their choice and really none of my business. I just hope that we, men and women alike, realize and accept what a mom's body should look like: gorgeous and amazing, even with the scars, stretch marks, soft spots and sagging.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Question of the Week - Middle of the Night Tantrums

Update at bottom.

This week's question of the week comes from a comment mom2boys left in Friday's post:

"Anyone have a way they handle middle of the night tantrums? He used to wake up and want me to lay down with him but now he's waking up and wanting to get up - at 2 in the morning and pitching a HUGE fit when I tell him he can't. Hard to use distraction or just ignore it. I'm at a loss."

Middle of the night tantrums. My favorite! Sigh... We just got through a period of constant middle of the night tantrums, as in pretty much EVERY night. We are now down to the occasional one, which is much more manageable though still incredibly frustrating. I'm pretty sure it's a normal stage/phase of development, since I know of many around this age who have been through it.

In fact, last Friday night I got to deal with one. My absolutely fantastic SIL came over to spend the night, as she is doing one night a week to help us out. She took the bottles and bottle warmer and was on baby duty all night. I sent Londo to the basement to get a full night's sleep. And I was responsible for the Pumpkin. And of course she had a meltdown that night because she wanted her aunt to come put her back to bed, not Mommy! But her aunt was feeding the Pookie, and she had to just get over it anyway. So yeah, we still get these and I still have to deal with them.

The main way that I deal with them is by telling her what she CAN do (options are usually sleeping in her bed or in Mommy and Daddy's bed) and letting her have her meltdown. I stay nearby, and I make sure she stays in either my room or hers with the door shut (hoping to disturb the baby as little as possible). She loves to go in the hall and scream and meltdown there. Londo or I usually grab her and drag her into a room and shut the door.

The problem of course is that she just won't be reasoned with in the middle of the night. I pretty much just let her sob and protest, but insist that she be quiet and stay in a room--and that goes about as well as you think it does. Usually it doesn't take too long for her to simmer down to a reasonable level of upset-ness. Then I or Londo reiterate her choices, and she eventually picks one.

I guess it's pretty much the same as we handle them during the day, but with probably less patience due to being half asleep. And truth be known, during the worst of it we have just put on a TV show for her as long as she's in our bed lying down and being quiet.

How about you all? How do you handle those dreaded middle of the night tantrums? What does your kid scream about? What do you scream back? On second thought, maybe don't share what you scream back. This is a family friendly blog!

Please share any ideas, tips or sympathy for mom2boys!

Update: I meant to share a link with everyone, although some of you also regularly read Bella's site, Child of Mind. This post she devoted to dealing with temper tantrums.