Yesterday I Lost My Patience

Yesterday morning started out like all other mornings.  I awoke to Ava calling for Mama from her crib which promptly woke Liam.  As I shuffled to Ava’s room I could here Liam stirring and knew soon the request for warm milk and brown sugar (oatmeal) would be coming.  Once my husband and I got through the morning rush of getting the kids what they needed and letting the dog out my husband had to run out for an appointment.

The kids and I went downstairs to watch Team Umizoomi and Ava got upset with me about letting Liam pick the first show and hit me.  I gave Ava a warning saying if she hit me again she would have to go into time out.  Ava hit me and I put her in time out.  This isn’t a recurring event still Ava has been put in time out before.  However, this specific incident sent her into a meltdown of epic proportions.

temperYou see Liam and Ava both have had their fair share of temper tantrums, but their ways of dealing with it are so very different.  Liam’s outbursts are not as often and due to his age much easier to reason with him. Even when we was younger, if you took the approach of ignoring the tantrum, he would quickly pull himself together and then explain what was upsetting him.  However, with Ava it is very different.  Sometimes her tantrums seem to come out of nowhere and once she begins there is no quelling it.  No words of comfort, cradling, and attention will soothe her.  In fact, the only way to calm her is to let her escalate herself to such a frantic hysterical state it eventually tires her out and then looks for soothing.  As a mother this is not only very upsetting to observe, but it is also very draining.  These episode can last up to 40 minutes long and I sit helplessly by as she demands for certain things (glass of milk) and then right away refuses it.  Liam sometimes comes in and tries to do his part as well.  He will try to hug Ava or even make her laugh.  There have been a few occasions where this actually has helped, but for the most part Liam usually leaves the room saying that Ava is being too loud.

I have talked to a couple of professionals regarding this and it seems that the general consensus is that this is very typical toddler tantrum behavior.  Even though that is reassuring to know in those moments of helplessness it is very hard to see past it.  This particular tantrum lasted 35 minutes.  When it ended I had Ava in my lap rocking her.  Once she was calm she crawled down and joined her brother in playing.  Most of the time during these tantrums I stay super calm, speaking in a soothing voice while trying to create a calming environment for her (soft music playing, dimmed lights, warm milk).

Unfortunately, yesterday I did not deal with it so well.  I lost my temper and as soon as I did I felt terrible.  In the midst of Ava’s tantrum I noticed that her pull up was leaking and was leaving wet marks on the wooden hallway floor.  I quickly cleaned up and knew I had to change Ava.  This riled her up even more.  Screaming and kicking Ava was not letting me remove the diaper or put a new one on.  Many may think just let her stay in the oversaturated diaper.  However, unless I was going to follow her around with a mop until the tantrum was over she was getting the floors wet.  So there I was with her on her changing table kicking and screaming and I was struggling to get the new pull up on when I just snapped and yelled, “Ava will you just please let me put this diaper on you!”  She paused for a moment stunned and then screamed and kicked even harder.  Now not only had I just lost my patience, but I just made the situation worse.  Shortly after that she began to unwind and I rocked her until my husband got home.

In typical mommy fashion I have replayed this scenario in my head multiple times.  I am constantly trying to think of new ways to calm her faster and now this time I have the added bonus of berating myself for snapping at her.  As I have heard from many people, “this too shall pass”, and although I know that that is true, right now it does not give me much comfort nor help.  I just hope I can come up with Mommy/Ava solution so I can help her through this easier and I will not lose my sanity.

 

The Top Five Things I Learned While Traveling With Toddlers

  1. It isn’t about you anymore. The two little people in my world called the shots on this trip. When they were tired we took a break. We rode the rides they wanted to go on (even if it meant the same one five times in a row), and we looked at the stuff they wanted to look at. Both my husband and I went into this trip not only aware of this fact, but happily followed their lead.
  2. Vacation brings on a new meaning. When my husband and I vacationed prior to children we slept in late, got eggs benedict for breakfast, had drinks with dinner, and went to bed late after seeing the sights. With kids it’s the exact opposite. Early wake up calls, waffles for breakfast, sight seeing till naptime or a meltdown whichever comes first, and dinner that evitably involves using your fingers to eat it. It might not be fancy and no passport is needed, but I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun.
  3. Like so many other things in life, it is the small stuff that matters.  I was so eager to experience Sesame Place with the kids and they loved it. But then there is the unexpected excitement as adults we forget.   When we got to the hotel, Liam and Ava ran around excitedly checking it out. On the second day when we needed a break mid-day we drove back to the hotel and went in the pool. They were overjoyed. As adults we unfortunately don’t get too many first time experiences so we tend to forget what it is like, but Liam and Ava quickly reminded me how great it is.
  4. There are lessons to be learned even when you aren’t looking for them. Going to Sesame Place was quite frankly a slam dunk for toddlers. The atmosphere and the whole agenda is geared to them.  I had a woman a couple of months ago scoff at me since it was not an educational vacation. Now having experienced this I would argue with her it was an educational experience. Maybe it was not one that ended in learning to read or multiply, but my children were constantly put to the test in patience as they waited on lines to go on rides, share with children in some of the interactive stations, and try new things. It might not be a book education, but I think we under estimate the importance of an education in manners and courtesy.
  5. It is Family Fun Time.   It was non-stop, all day, all night family togetherness. Now is the time to create the strong foundation of family. If we can establish a close knit feeling now, even when the going gets tough in the teenage years, they will always know that we have each other’s back.
    Liam and Zoe at Sesame Place
    Liam and Zoe at Sesame Place

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    Ava on the Merry Go Round

I am not going to lie; vacationing with toddlers is not easy. There were temper tantrums, accidents, and full out meltdowns (all which happened in public), but if you can roll with the punches and move past those moments you will discover so many wonderful things. I know that for the kids they had a great time, but for me and Will we created some memories I know we will remember fondly for years to come.

Parenting Through His Eyes

I will never forget the day that Will and I witnessed a child being slapped.  My body was frozen unable to react to what was unfolding before me.  Somehow I rallied and finally was able to calm my then boyfriend now husband down enough to take a deep breath.

First let me explain we were at the West Point annual 1812 concert.  It is a wonderful event full of great music and fireworks.  A couple of blankets in front of us sat a family; mom, dad, and son.  As we sat on our blanket enjoying the beautiful summer day, we were people watching when by chance our eyes landed in the same area.  I have no idea what transpired prior to it, but the father’s reaction was a full force smack across the little boy’s face.

I think I might have literally gasped out loud, however I quickly realized Will was already on his feet; his gut reaction taking over and wanting to do something.  I quickly rose myself and pulled Will’s arm, in the opposite direction to take a small walk.  It was in that very moment I knew exactly what kind of dad Will would be.

From the very beginning I knew Will was good with kids.  In college he was a lifeguard and spent much of his time playing with the children at the local park.  I have to be honest that was one of the things I fell in love with.  It came so naturally and unforced for him.  But now here in that moment at West Point I knew something else very important about him, no matter what he would never hit our child.

A lot of people have different views on what is acceptable discipline for their children; however an act of violence should never be one.  I never understood the theology of getting a child to behave through hitting.  It isn’t respect you are establishing through that, it is fear.  Your child might not do something again but it isn’t because they understand, it is because they are scared.  Some people do not care about the reason as long as the end result is the child does not act up again.  To me it is more important that my child understands why instead of living in fear.

It still haunts me today about that little boy. Was that an isolated incident (I tend not to think so since it was done so publicly)? Should we have done something? I myself at the time was scared to get involved and maybe we should have. I am no perfect parent by any means. I lose my patience and at times have to leave the room to calm down, but I know I will never ever strike my child to get them to listen, understand, or learn. The only lesson a child will learn from hitting is fear and I promise that is not a lesson you want your kids to live with.

 

 

 

Two Children and a Headache

There is nothing worse then being home with two kids and a headache.  In the past there have been times I have showed up to work with headaches, bad colds, and just not feeling well.  My co-workers would ask, “Why are you here?”  My reply is always the same, “It’s easier being here then at home.”

The truth is being at home is hard when you are feeling good, when you are sick, it is unbearable.  When you are sick and at work people tend to leave you alone because (1) they know you probably don’t feel very sociable, and (2) they do not want to catch your germs.  But at home there is no lenience, no break, and no timeout.  Your kids still need breakfast, and baths, and running around outside and it really doesn’t matter if you feel like you have been just run over by an 18 wheeler.  Their little minds and legs are still running.

On top of it all even if I do get to veg out a little bit, I quickly guilt ridden myself into getting up and doing something with them because I feel bad.  Last week I was home with them and I had a headache.  I was lying on my bed and the kids were being quiet in Liam’s room (which is never a good sign) and instead of enjoying the couple of moments of quietness I pushed myself to get up and do something with them because I didn’t want them to be bored. It is times like those when I think, “Man I wish I was at work.” I could just type away at my computer and not have to worry about anyone crying, getting hurt, needing anything from me.

And then it happened. Liam asked, “Mommy why are closing your eyes?” I told him my head hurt and I was trying to make it feel better. He climbed on my lap and kissed my forehead. I smiled and melted all over. My head still hurt but I didn’t care anymore.

 

In With the New Out With the (Sniff) Old

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Ava 7 Months old
Liam 16 months old
Liam 16 months old

 

It happens several times a year and it never gets easier for me.  I love watching my kids grow and learn new things.  I am excited to be able to do more and more with them.  But every once and a while there is a sharp reminder that my kids are growing up fast!

I remember the first time I sorted through Liam’s drawers to weed out the clothes that didn’t fit him and I found a newborn onesie among the clothes.  There was a small part of me that could not bear to put it in the give away pile and I held onto for a while longer.

Each and every time I go through this process two things happen; (1) Elicit tears come as I remember certain memories when they were wearing those outfits; and (2) Inevitably some clothes will remain in the drawer because I cannot stomach to part with them yet.

Little after Liam’s first birthday I knew I was pregnant with Ava and for a short period of time this purging of clothes was made easier knowing that there was another baby on the way.  But now my “baby” is 20 months old.  I am so proud of both of my kids.  They are truly little sponges learning, speaking, doing new things every day but a small part of me mourns what has past.  Everyone says enjoy these moments and don’t look too far ahead because it goes fast.  There in lies the problem for me.  I truly did enjoy all the moments leading up today (and I know that will continue) so it is hard for me to let one moment go for another moment.  I know each one will bring an amazing experience for both me and them, but in the still of the night when they are both sleeping I go into their rooms and check on them and think, “Wow they have gotten so big.”

So today I have two bags full of clothes that Liam and Ava have outgrown. Giving them away is the best part of the process. Knowing that someone else who needs them will get to use them and maybe just like me will remember good memories as they fold and put the clothes away.

 

It’s the Little Things That Count

On a daily basis, multiple times a day, I hear Liam say, “Mommy (or Daddy) can I tell you something?”  Our answer is always yes.  Sometimes he tImageells us he is hungry, other times it’s to ask if he can watch a show, and other times it’s to tell us a story.  Regardless we always listen.  Here’s the thing, if our kids know we are listening now they can trust us eventually when they get older and the issues turn from watching Thomas to being tempted to try to smoke.  The things they tell us now may seem small but it isn’t to them and they need to know we care.  I always encourage Liam to talk to me not just because I like to know what he is thinking but because if he gets comfortable doing it now there is a greater chance he will come to me later on when the big issues are happening.

All too often I see parents on their cell phones while with they’re completely ignoring them.  My husband is always saying, “You are missing it.”  You are missing those moments that you can never get back.  Ten years from now it will not matter what level of Candy Crush you got to or who said what on Facebook but it will matter what your kids are thinking and saying.  In today’s technology filled society we all do it.  We all check our emails, update our Facebook statuses, etc. but if you can put down your phone for a minute and see what your kids are up to, you might just learn something.

It’s like creating the foundation and the framework of a house.  If you create a solid foundation and a strong framework, the house will be able to weather the storm.  So often in our busy days listening gets brushed aside, but trust me give them the time.  Not only will you find out entertaining and fascinating things about your kids now, but you are doing the homework for the final exam later on.

 

When parent’s pressure to achieve becomes too much

About a month ago I saw a news segment about a father who pushed his son down a skateboarding ramp because he was taking too long.  The boy was six and the ramp was high and he was scared.  As a parent there are times that we need to gently nudge our children, whether its coaxing them to practice a little more piano or letting go of the bike as a kid learns to ride.  Regardless, there is a line that seems to be crossed more times than not that the coaxing turns nasty and it isn’t fun anymore.

Now I never have skateboarded, I know nothing about it.  However, if I saw my kid was scared, I would have never just pushed him down (this child ultimately fell off the skateboard and hit the bottom on his knees).  I know instead I would have cheered him on saying, “You can do it.”  But at the  end of the day, if he didn’t want to go down I would have never forced him down.  How is pressuring your children and pushing them to the point of being uncomfortable going to establish a trusting relationship, let alone create an eager environment to try that task again?

I can’t help but wonder if these pushy to the point of destructive parents aren’t living vicariously through their children.  They had their chance to be kids and whether it was all of what they wished it to be or not, it’s not their turn anymore.  Now the focus should be on the betterment of their children.  These parents also need to realize that their children’s interests may be similar to theirs or it may be very different.  We need to embrace and encourage those new interests because it really doesn’t matter what you are interested in, its what’s interesting to them, what will motivate them forward.  It’s like the “Little Engine That Could”, if we can teach our kids the “I think I can. I think I can,” mantra, you and the child will be better off than the lesser known but often taught, “I’m scared but I better do it.” mantra.

What’s so wrong with getting away?

Being a parent at times can burn you out. Its long hours, exhausting work and no paid overtime. However the rewards outweigh all the sleepless nights and tiring tantrums, and that’s why we do it. Even so sometimes we all need a break.

The decision to go away without the kids for me was quite easy. Besides figuring out the logistics of who would take care of the kids to me it was a no-brainer. My husband and I never wanted to become the parents who once their children are out of the house no longer have anything in common with each other. We have gone away twice without our kids for long weekends since they were born. I missed them a lot and checked on them regularly but it was also very nice.

I remember sleeping in to 7:30. My body naturally now just wakes up and has a very hard time falling back asleep; however to lay in bed in the quietness was wonderful.

I read. I read for more than 15 minutes without being interrupted or falling asleep. I actually got to finish two magazines and a book that I had picked up many times before but never got to complete. It was so nice to get lost in a story.

It was nice to reconnect with my husband and be able to have a conversation without being interrupted and inevitable lose our train of thought. A lot of people around us said good for you for getting away but then there were others who were not so supportive. They were actually downright rude. Making comments such as, “How can you leave your kids behind?” and “Aren’t you going to miss them?” and “What if something happens while you are gone, wouldn’t you feel terrible about that?” and my personal favorite, “Why do you need a break?” At the time it really hurt my feelings and I wish I had said something back to them. However I thought maybe I was doing something wrong and used their judgment as a form to judge myself. I pondered about this a lot because these strongly worded comments came from parents themselves who I am sure could use a break.

So here is my challenge to all the parents out there who have the support and have never done it.  Go away, even if it’s to your own home.  Take a long a weekend with your spouse and really enjoy your time together.  Indulge yourself in something just for you because you deserve it.  After all don’t we all need a break once and a while?

Trials and Tribulations of a Three Year Old

Its only 9:16 AM and my husband and I have already weathered an epic meltdown from our son.  At times frustrating and at times almost amusing, I am exhausted and so is he.  What makes matters worse is my daughter at times feeds off it as well and deteriorates to a puddle of nothingness as well.

Observing these meltdowns it’s obvious that his little body is battling his emotions versus what he wants.  Most of the time his emotions over take him and it is our job to calm him down enough to get him back on track.  In the middle of this particular breakdown at one point he didn’t want mommy or daddy and told us to go away.  The rejection from a three year old stings especially when it’s your son and you want to comfort him.  I have to remind myself the rational side of him is not winning the battle right now.  It’s also hard at times when these meltdowns occur to stay come and not get swept away with it as well.  It would be all too easy at times to lose my patience and have my own breakdown but that would not serve anyone very well.

In the end we prevailed and now he is calmly drinking milk and watching Thomas and I am just thankful that peace has been restored once again.

Babies vs. Professionals

Within my first 10 minutes of being awake today Liam demanded milk, asked for oatmeal in which he ultimately never ate, and pleaded with his hands clasped together to go downstairs to play with his trains.  Simultaneously, Ava began crying which meant she needed a diaper change, warm milk and something to eat, and on top of that the dog was barking at the door to go out.  Mornings in our house are very busy.  Our “routine” is move as fast as you can to get all of the crying, screaming, and barking to stop as soon as possible.  There are some mornings as I am flying out the door to work I think, “Thank God.”

And then I get to work…

I work in a Law Firm.  A building filled with educated, motivated, hard working professionals, and yet sometimes when I am there I feel like I am at home doing the 10 Minute Morning Sprint.  Without fail there is someone always complaining about something or someone.  There are my superiors who have nothing better to do than monitor my cell phone usage, but rarely notice that I have done everything that they asked of me and beyond.  I complete all my work all while I was speaking with a client on the phone to schedule an appointment and typing an email to another client following up regarding the drafts we sent them last week.

It’s hard for me sometimes to decipher which situation is harder to deal with.  On one hand I have my two wonderful children who I love very much even when they are having their first temper tantrum of the day at 6:05 AM and on the other hand I have my colleagues and bosses who allow me to have a conversation that consists more of “Thomas The Train”, but sometimes whine more then my two year old.

Lately at work our new HR department has been cracking down on everything.  Dress code, internet usage, cell phone violations, lunch breaks, the list goes on.  The morale at work is low and people are quitting every day.  There are days that I am afraid to sneeze in case that would be considered a “Noise Violation” and I would be written up about that.  I think in my head, Liam is probably watching “Paw Patrol” and Ava is napping.  I start wishing I was home and count the minutes till it’s 5:30. Finally when the time has come to clock out I usually have a very frustrating drive home to look forward to.  And then I get home. I walk into what could only be described as a battle scene as my husband tries to catch Liam before he smears his tomato sauce stained face and hands on our furniture.  Ava is none to happy. She is cranky and tired but we try to keep her up till 7:00 in hopes that she might sleep to 6:00 the next morning and Jackson (the dog) has greeted me at the door with a very high pitch, persistent bark.

Yeah I am not sure which is harder, which is better.  Maybe there is no answer to that.  Maybe that’s part of the balancing act, dealing with both worlds.  But at least as I am scrubbing the crayons marks off my son’s walls before I go to bed I can look forward to wearing the cute new Kensie dress I bought for work.