I went into labor on a Friday and Gavin was born on Saturday, Oct 1st. It is a memory that we will never forget. He has filled our lives with so much happiness. It's an unexplainable feeling to be a parent.
We have had a rough first year with many many doctor visits, a hospital stay, and other unavoidable issues and still it's been amazing. He has brightened our lives with his giggles, wiggles and grins.
...a few tid bits I've learned since being a parent...
#6. Take advice with a grain of salt
Advice that I critique the most is from those closest to us. Advice from those not close to us is easy to accept or dismiss, since they don't know Gavin well. Advice from those close to us, I usually take as criticism of us not doing something "right." I've learned over the past few months that advice is just that...advice. It isn't demands of things we HAVE to do, it is a suggestion and I need to not feel bad about it. We're his parents and we will be doing things the way we feel he needs.
#5. It's OK to wing it.
I've read some mommy blogs where mom is going to do A, B, C with the baby before they are 6 months, bring them here, there and everywhere. They always have a plan and are always trying to stick to it. Any mother out there knows, plan and children don't belong in the same sentence. It's OK to play it by ear, not have a plan and just "wing it." 99% of the time, things work out even when you don't have a plan or your plan just doesn't work out. #4. I've become an "act now, think later," kind of mom
Today I was in Babies 'R Us and all hell broke loose. It was amazing how quick I was able to run around the place gathering the things I need, wipe Gav's nose every 5 seconds, feed him a snack and survive one major breakdown (and one minor one from me). I didn't have Kleenex nor did I have snacks for him to eat. I had a t-shirt in my purse which was used to wipe his nose before he wiped it all over the cart and himself. I managed to grab the closest edible item within arms reach and fed him while I finished running through the store. The calm was restored when we got in the car and we drove home in silence to recover. Situations like these are becoming more frequent as he gets older. Sometimes...or most times, you've just gotta roll with the punches. Parenting is not predictable.
#3. It's OK to need help
Before I even had Gavin, I was told over and over again to "take help when it's offered." My initial thought was that "we've got this." After-all, we planned it, expected it and anticipated the challenges. Let me just say, I would have been lost without all of the meals people brought over afterwards, daily visitors helping to keep me sane, grandparents who came to cuddle baby while I napped and a husband who always gave me breaks. I am now thankful for everyone who is able to watch Gavin for us so we can get out, friends who understand my limited flexibility and always come to us, grandparents who watch him twice a week and save us thousands in daycare over the year. It didn't take me long to learn that it's alright to need help and if you don't ask for it, people don't know you need it! #2. "Me time" has a whole new meaning
I'd be lying if I said I didn't spend 5 minutes just sitting in my car some days before picking Gavin up. I can't hardly wait to see his huge drooly smile when I pick him up, but sometimes I just need to unwind and get myself together before putting on my mommy cape. I don't want to be a half-assed parent. I want to be involved, loving and "on" as much as I can. I don't want to let my days frustrations boil over to him. Ever.
My point is that I've learned that "me time" comes in more than girls nights out or doing projects that I've been dreaming up for months/years. It means going to the bathroom alone, showering alone, getting 5 minutes of quiet time, being able to go on a walk in silence, go to the gym for a half hour. It's nice to enjoy the simple things in life.
#1. Mother (almost) always knows best
Humans have a reaction mechanism for a reason. We react to things because we feel a certain way about them. I react to people around my son (good or bad) because I have a vision of how I want him to be treated and people around him to act (or just to act around children in general). I also know when something is wrong with him...sometimes before he even knows. I can tell when he's getting sick, I know when he's tired, hungry and cranky. On the other hand, I don't always know. He's spent several nights screaming bloody murder in his crib for a good 20 minutes. He's changed, fed and not visibly sick. I don't know what is wrong with him but we will sure as heck try anything we can to make whatever is bothering him better.
Another example of this is a situation that happened earlier this April. Easter Sunday, Gavin wasn't feeling well. He was lethargic, not eating much and overall cranky. He went to my moms house the next day since I didn't feel comfortable for him to go to daycare and we both had to work. She called me several times throughout the morning telling me he wasn't feeling too good and maybe he should see the doctor. I told her that she always rushes him to the doctor and he'll be fine. She called me for the fourth time and said, "I'm telling you, he really needs to go to the doctor." I hadn't seen him since Sunday night since I left early for work Monday. I finally said OK and met her there with him. Thankfully we did go in. The look on the nurses face when she saw him was memorable. They even said, "we've never seen a baby this sick." His oxygen level was low as he wasn't breathing well. He just lay flopped over my arms, exhausted and defeated. Long story short, he spent the next week in the hospital with a serious illness and I can't thank my mom enough for pushing me into bringing him in.
Daycare- a place someone goes to be cared for...a broad definition.
What does daycare mean to me? It means that my child will be happy, healthy and safe. It means that you will care for my child's well being, advancement, health, nutrition and learning. It means that you will be engaging with him often, feeding him a balanced diet, playing with him, teaching him and care for him.
What doesn't it mean?
It doesn't mean that you will feed my child fried crap. It doesn't mean that he will be plopped in front of a TV all day long, and be allowed to do whatever it is he wants. It doesn't mean that you will let him and the other kids run the house.
I honestly don't think that we have unrealistic expectations for our child. We want him to be loved, cared for and treated well. It seems unrealistic however, the more we look around. He is at his current in-home daycare until he is two and it is going well. There are always things that I think could be improved, but you pick your battles and for a stranger raising my child three days a week, things are going fine.
Gavin is one in less than a month. He has one more year at his current location before we have to find him another place to go. I have been making a few calls and doing interviews WAY in advance because I've learned the first time around that waiting lists are ridiculously long. He is currently on one waiting list to start in winter of 2013. I am hoping/wishing/praying that he gets in there sooner than that! That is the only center that we've found that has met our expectations. The others, you ask?
Center #1: The Director smelled so badly of smoke that I had a headache when I left. The providers looked like rough cleaning ladies (sweats, holes in their shirts, skrunchies, yellow teeth, poor social skills etc). I would have to bring lunch for Gavin every day. Who wants to pack a lunch for a two year old every-single-day? Not these parents! What happens if we forgot his lunch? They share theirs or give him whatever the snack was, for lunch. Cheese puffs all day long? No. Lastly, they were so kind to point out to us that the playground was right up next to a busy road without a fence. Their solution? Have the providers stand in a line by the street.
Center #2: Great. The Director was a bit of a scatter brain and returns one e-mail every 5 you send. They seemed to have their business together however. They were church based, served a hot lunch (not our ideal diet for him, but we can get over that), and seemed to have a good curriculum. We are on their waiting list now to start late 2013/early 2014.
In-home #1: A great price was given to us to start our conversation. It ended quickly after asking, "what do you do with the kids as far as engaging activities/curriculum?" Her response? "It's not my job to educate your child." Ok, bye. In-home #2: Decent. Feeds "all-organic," which studying and working in nutrition you would think that would be a gold star in my book...doesn't matter to me. Feed him a balanced, healthy diet and we're fine. She has a solid cirriculum, and at least puts in an effort to teach the kiddos life skills such as getting dressed (getting winter gear on), tying shoes, potty training, colors, shapes, numbers, etc. Downside? She said that she doesn't want the child to be left there longer than 8 hours. How is that realistic?! I WORK 8 hours/day and my hours don't vary that much from Marks to be able to make that happen. Still an option, not super pumped about it.
Montessori: Psht. We walk in for an open house and are greeted like so by the most unenthusiastic Director i've ever met, "Hi my name is blah-blah, want to register your child to start here? When will he start here? Sit down here and fill out the application forms." 'Scuse me? How much do you cost? What do you do? How do you work? I like the background of Montessori education but it costs your life savings to be able to afford. Their days are 8:30-3:30- again WTF? but have extended day hours for an "extra charge," charge another "little fee" for breakfast and lunch, and another chunk of change for any special classes (dance, music, etc). $300+/week later, your child can be cared for. Again, no thank you.
I'm going to give my hunt a rest for a few months and maybe someone great will appear after that. Until then, this kid isn't going anywhere but in the loving hands of family and friends.
You know what grinds my gears? Something that I buy into as many other moms, friends, parents, non-parents. It's when we get so wound up in some fantasy life. Celebrity gossip (my personal weakness), mommy blogs, work, classes, etc. It's hard not to take little pieces of your personal encounters and reflect them on your own personal choices, experiences and so forth.
I read a great "mommy" article today Here that explains the pressures that moms face everyday. I also had a Facebook friend who said that she got fed up with the fake-ness of Facebook because let's face it, when you feel like your going "no where" in your profession, life, relationships... reading about others who are, isn't awesome. She pointed out that she didn't want to read about her friends who became moms, wives etc, when she wasn't able to experience that. She felt like a failure. I've realized it even more since becoming a mom. I can understand how annoying it can be to open your computer and see picture after picture of baby...everything baby and you don't even LIKE babies! I get irritated too with multiple posts of stuff I could care less about, that's why Facebook has filter settings :) Just understand, what people post about/blog about, is probably a large part of their life. Whether it be a fitness post every-single-day, pictures of their dogs (who haven't changed since the last picture 30 minutes ago), the baby you've seen everyday since they were born; it's that person's life. You can learn a lot about someone by the things that annoy you most.
Can anyone relate to these?
Your a bad mom if you ...
Formula feed, spank, public school, stomach sleep, go back to work, don't immediately drop weight after baby is born, don't teach baby sign-language, your two year old still uses a pacifier, you don't sign your kid up for x,y, and z before they can even crawl, etc etc.
Your a bad wife if...
You don't stay home, you don't cook dinner every night, your house is in shambles and you are in bed, you don't go out 3 times a week, you aren't working out 5 times a week, you don't own any pair of heels, you can't cook to save your life.
For me, the pressures of being a parent are overwhelming and you know what? What's wrong with being the best YOU can be and stop worrying about what Jane Doe is doing. Who cares that her kid is 10 months and knows sign-language up and down. Who cares that you chose to give your child formula? Who cares if you breastfeed? Who cares that the best you have is to come home every night from work and love your child unconditionally. Who cares that you can't be the mom who is giving her child every new experience every weekend because you have to work? Who cares that your child is two and you are still carrying 20 extra "baby" pounds.
Moms are the worst critics. We're critical of others not parenting the "right way," and we are most critical of ourselves. I had a moment of panic when Gavin was about 8 months that "OMG, he hasn't been in swimming lessons, I haven't taken him to the museum, playland, see Santa, the Easter Bunny, blah blah blah." I was hard on myself for having to work, I was hard on myself for Gavin having to be hospitalized, I was hard on myself for every-tiny-thing. I've been the absolute best mom that I can be, best parent I can be, and best person I know how to be (not that there isn't room for constant improvement). There are of course things I want for his future and I believe the way his childhood is shaped will hopefully impact his future. However, the best parents sometime have kids who misbehave, kids who fail, kids who aren't rocket-scientists...but the parents did the best they could. They loved them with all they had, they provided for them and they were there for them. (This is not to say that there aren't bad parents- those who abuse their children, etc.) I love this excerpt from the article linked above...
"You need to start to see all you do accomplish in a day. All the smiles of encouragement, meals made, clothes changed, books read, and more. Just like I wrote yesterday - we make mistakes- we just need to learn from them. We're out of breath, racing, and exhausted, but truly not failing. Failing means stopping. Not getting up, not trying, not giving. That's not you. I want you to stop telling yourself you're failing. Instead I want you to replace it with I can do this.
You can do this."
Since being a mother, I have lost friends who think i'm too caught up in being a mom, I have met new friends, I have lost my job because I was only willing to give 100% and not 180%, I was willing to work 40 hours and not 60. I was never and will never be "married" to my job. I will work hard when i'm there but my family will always come first. The point is, my family is my life and it revolves around them. I need my friends to support me and I need them just as much, as some are like family...but my family is my home, my backbone, my everything.
For those are not yet or never will be parents... parenting is not easy. It's not as glamorous as it looks in the magazines, on Facebook or wherever else. It's hard, really hard. It's tiring, it's exhausting, it's messy, but it's also rewarding. Going to work with spit up in my purse, baby poop smeared down my leg, your chest leaking through your shirt at a meeting, un-showered hair, having fixed my hair once since I've had him..all the great parts of being a mom (sarcasm) but it's real life. Your not any less of a person for not wanting children, or even not wanting them for another 10 years, but please don't judge my decisions to do so. It's hard to understand other's priorities sometimes. Mine has always been family. What did I want to be when I grew/grow up? A mom, a wife, a good person. It's an ongoing process. I have friends however, where their job comes first. Their success in life is seen as a high status job. I will never understand that, but I can accept that we aren't at the same place, we're different and that's what makes our friendship work.
"Promise me you'll always remember, your braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think"- Christopher Robin
Not to be overshadowed by Gavin's accomplishments, M just landed an awesome job! He will be working as a Six Sigma Process Engineer (i'll keep the business private for now). He just finished a summer internship there and had a great experience.
He will start in January, after his December graduation.
We couldn't be more proud of him! Lot's of great things happening under this little roof.
Big boy is 11 months. Not sure how the last 11 months have gotten away from me. He was a precious, soft-skinned, greasy haired, cooing baby and he has suddenly become a little boy with a bit of an attitude, still precious and the energy of a basketball team.
Walking: 10-12 steps at a time Talking: Mama, Dada, Ah-Da (All Done), Bye
Signing: All Done, waving Eating: Everything and anything- recent firsts include meatballs, lentils, raspberries, cherries, veggie burger, rice cakes
Sleeping: 11-12 hrs at night
Napping: 1 or 2- 2hr naps
Wearing: Diaper 4 + cloth, size 12-18 month clothes
Tipping the scales at 21lb 9oz
Towering at 29 inches
Loves: Ted (blanket teddy bear), bottle (ugh), mom, dad, and puppy, crawling at top speed and walking and playing in blanket forts with dad.
Little critter is into EVERYTHING, so to try to control it when I need to get something done, I open a few cupboards (pantry, pots and pans and tupperware) and let him have at it. It seems to keep him busy enough to let me get some cooking done. He's also started crawling up the stairs and through the dog door.
Wouldn't trade this job for anything. Most rewarding and crazy thing I signed up for.