December 2008


Posted by Fitz

As 2008 is winding down and we teeter on the brink of a brand new year, I’d like to share some of my New Year’s Resolutions with you.  Here they are, in all of their honest-to-God, wow-this-is-embarassing, don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful glory:

1. I vow that, in 2009, I will finally get rid of the muffin top that I was supposed to have lost in 2008. As a side note, I will also stop quitting Weight Watchers and complaining about how fat I am and actually use that time to work out or do something else that doesn’t involve a Cheeto or a baked good.

2. I vow to stop the terrible practice of telling my husband I have to go downstairs to change the laundry when I really go downstairs to lie on the couch for 10 minutes alone (then scramble to do laundry really, really fast).

3. I vow to teach The Bean manners, patience, and other factors that lead to good behavior and citizenship. I will not give in and allow any semblance of poor behavior because she’s sick, cute, cranky, hungry, tired, or because it’s just plain easier.

4. I will continue to remind myself that taking my pants (whether they are PJs, sweats, jeans, or dress pants) off every once in awhile will have a more positive impact on my relationship than 30 minutes of extra sleep (although that helps sometimes, too).

5. I will remain strong in my endeavor to coax The Bean into eating fruit that doesn’t have a picture of a baby on the front of its container. This should have a pleasant aftershock of showing The Bean that healthy food typically does not come in jar, can, or plastic container form.

6. I vow to acknowledge and take action against every dirty diaper that I smell, and not feign surprise when my husband notices the odor that I registered a good five minutes ago.

7. I will find the strength to try to have another child, although it will probably take most of the year to scrape my guts all together and make it happen.

8. I vow to not give anyone a dirty look whenever they comment about how The Bean’s feistiness could in fact be karma for my own childhood behavior.

9. I resolve to get over the fact that The Bean thinks that Mommy only says “No, no, no!” and that everyone else in the family thinks it’s freaking hilarious.

10. I vow to cherish the women in my life, and show them the gratitude I feel when I think about how lucky I am to have such excellent role models as friends and fellow moms.

Happy New Year to all of our readers…we love you and respect everything you do for your children. We’ll see you again in 2009!

Posted by Duff

I wanted to share this tidbit with parents who have children under 2 1/2 or those contemplating having children, so they can re-budget their holiday gift-giving fund to buy diapers or shoes for ever-growing feet. Or at least stretch the celebration over a couple of weeks for maximum effect.

The Dervish got more gifts during the Christmas season than she has probably recieved in total, prior.

Though we only got her 3 gifts to open at our house, it took all day. The packaging from the first kept her busy for the morning. She refused her stocking until just before bed.

When we went to the whole-family holiday celebration, the first gift had her at hello and I had to open the rest so we could thank the givers in person before leaving.

Maybe The Dervish is different, and I guess that’s possible, but I think it’s no coincidence that people say kids are psyched about wrapping paper, boxes and twinkly lights, and holiday hoopla is a whole lot of too much excitement.

This might have something to do with why The Dervish was awake from 3:00-5:00 am after all of this happened. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get into Santa with her this year, since she was so overwhelmed by her own relatives that she didn’t want me to leave the room, presents or not. I could see her being way-skeptical of a stranger coming into her house while she slept, to the tune of a window-shattering night terror.

She wasn’t into her 2nd birthday, but soon after became obsessed with all things birthday, so I know her 3rd will be one of the best days of her life thus far. Because of this, I am hopeful we can get in at least 4 good pro-Santa holiday seasons.

A couple of days after everything has calmed down, The Dervish is now ready to really enjoy a talking tea set and has asked for more presents. Specifically, a camera, please. But on Christmas day, a sleeve of Ritz crackers had her knee-deep in utopia.

I didn’t even have to stand in line at 4:00am on Black Friday.

Posted by Duff

My Mom Genes will be taking a holiday break until December 29th. Wishing you and yours happy celebrations!

But before we go, I didn’t want to forget this: Baby’s First Expletive(s):

The Dervish says and does a variety of incredibly sweet things. She offers her food to everyone (and everything), including the cats, the trash can and her napkin.

She inquires as to our well-being: Mommy, you tired? You still hungry? She kisses our boo-boos, tucks us in, and hugs her stuffed animals and dollies with surprising tenderness.

Oh, dear, she says softly as she drops something. She breaks into broken versions of her favorite songs so self-assuredly, I wish I could bottle that confidence for her tween years.

However, the other day, she got so venomously angry at me that I was actually taken aback, accused.

I was trying to remove her newest obsession: a polka dot coat, to get her into her snowpants and out into the snow with her father, where she was begging to go.  She was beyond worried she wouldn’t get her coat back, and I tried several times to explain the series of events that would get her out the door the quickest. Most importantly, that she would get the coat back after the snowpants.

Well, she’s two.

About seven minutes (and as many attempts) into this debacle (since The Dervish would not surrender her coat but was growing ever impatient to get outdoors), she ripped my hands off her, backed up, and with one hand on her hip and the other pointing and claw-like, she screeched:

YOU! Don’t you &^*^&*&*^. $#$  %%& and $#$%&**()*!

I don’t know what she intended to communicate toward the end of her rant -whatever awfulness she spewed was completely submerged by hysterics – but holy cow was that Dervish ticked off. She wanted me to know that she had had it, with me, specificially.

It was the first time I was really afraid of her capacity for rage, which is saying a lot, because she can throwdown with the best of them – but it was never personally directed before.

The good news is, we made up. However, there is a blur in my memory from the moment she pointed until she was successfully dressed for the snow and out the door and I went to deal with myself.

I just know that it happened, amid sweat and snot and tears.

Please know that I didn’t lay a hand on her, other than to get her dressed.  I was just about as angry as she was. The difference is I believed in her anger. Per usual, she was unfazed by me and mine.

Surprisingly, I consider her standing up to me an important milestone — one I wish I had on film. Because as challenging as she proves to be (and I hope she will remain when she begins dating, sometime in her 30s if she has my orthodontic problems), she is impressive.

I may have to make her do (many) something(s) for her own good, but I’m certainly not going to change her mind.

I am so proud of her.

Posted by Fitz

The Bean is starting to delight us with little noises that sound like actual words.  Good mommy that I am, I have started to work with her so she can say “YES!” when she wants something.  I enunciate, I use the companion head-nod, I say “YES!” to her with the exuberance of a mom who just found out that her husband booked her a surprise day at the spa.   So, what did my Bean learn from all this?

Somehow, she learned to shake her head and say “NO!”  I know I say the word to her when she’s endangering her physical and my mental safety, but how could she learn the opposite of what I’ve been trying to teach her?  And even more frustrating, how did the head shake and the “NO!” all of a sudden become her favorite things to do?

“Do you want more veggies, Beanie?” “NO!”

“Time to come out of the tubby now, Bean!” “NO!”

“Please don’t roll around on your changing table, getting crap all over everything, Bean!” “NO!”

Sigh.

Sometimes we just pretend that she has said yes and she’ll forget all about her previous opinion, which gives me a little hope that maybe she doesn’t completely understand what she’s saying yet.  Sometimes, though, we are certain that she does: when she throws the extra food I’ve given her on the floor, when she hucks her sippy cup at my head, those sort of times. 

There’s one thing in this whole scenario that I would bet any amount of money on, and it’s something that seems to have become a recurring theme in my articles of late: my girl knows what she wants, and God forbid someone gets in her way.  I love to see it most of the time, but other times I’m terrified of what this will mean when she’s 13.  I guess I’ll just have to keep saying “YES!” until she gets it.

Posted by Duff

I may have mentioned this before, but the last few months, during which time I have had the pleasure of watching The Dervish effervesce, I have thought of the following scene from Jerry Maguire more than a handful of times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-oHuogx6_Y

Only, The Dervish doesn’t laugh in response. But she’s not Rod Tidwell, either. She doesn’t dig that I’m hanging on by a very thin thread. Though I guess you could say that she’s trucculent with the media.

Do you think I’ve seen this movie enough times?

Anyway, in the last few weeks, I’ve learned a few things about my lovely and how she rolls, thus influencing how I roll:

1. She can sleep over her grandparents, sick all night, and not shed a tear. However, if she is home with me and, otherwise fine, gets a snot on her shirt (from wiping her own nose with her sleeve), the governor should declare a state of emergency. It’s only fair.

2. While she is screaming about that booger, that’s the time to get in there with the toothbrush. Phew. Well, that’s one good tooth brushing in this lifetime.

3. It’s really not worth trying to change her out of her pajamas, snowboots and firehat once she has declared herself dressed. Just drop her off at daycare, smiling.

4. Pillowcases must be pink, not purple. I mean, duh, can’t I see the room decor? Didn’t I paint the room? (Extra pink pillowcases are now on my shopping list).

5. Socks that won’t align properly on a foot are to be pulled off and bitten until wet. No, she doesn’t need help. If she did, she would ask. Back the truck UP.

6. You can’t hide chocolate from a Dervish.

7. When you have sufficiently frustrated your mother so she needs to walk away and deal with herself, that’s the time to whimper “I w-want my Daddy.”

8. Dervish logic: Why cry when you can scream?

9. Imagination is a beautiful and magical thing for a mother to watch. To envision and describe where no matter exists is just about as precious a thing as a child can do.

10. Until fantasy conjures The Boogeyman. Stay tuned.

Posted by Fitz

In honor of the holiday season, I’d like to give you a gift and ban an overused phrase from every mom’s vernacular: “I am such a bad mom.” 

I’ve been hearing my friends say it all of the time lately, whether it’s warranted or not.  One friend thinks she’s a bad mom because her kid hasn’t eaten veggies in a week, another thinks she’s the worst mom because her baby took a fall when she dared to look elsewhere for thirty seconds.  Let’s introduce another, cruder, phrase to replace “I’m such a bad mom”:

Shit happens.

We’re all going to make mistakes, no matter how hard we try to be the best moms/wives/CEOs of the house/workers that we can be.  Something is always going to have to give, and we have to give permission to ourselves to say, “Hey, I’m not a bad mom because Davy hasn’t gotten a bath in three days – I’m just preventing his skin from drying out!”  Cut yourselves a break, women, and remember that you’re doing the best you can with all of the resources, constraints, and responsibilities that make up the crazy lives that we lead as mothers.  It’s okay to have to focus on other things once in a while, it’s okay if accidents happen on your watch, and it’s okay for you to let go of the guilt you may feel for real or imagined transgressions.

Go and live your lives, and be the best moms you can be.  You’ll exceed expectations in some areas and probably fall short in others.  You accept that in other areas of your lives, so accept it in motherhood.  Your kids will still love you, and know that you’re doing your damndest to raise them well.

Now, go forth and conquer!

Posted by Duff

Within days of posting how wonderful nearly 2 1/2 is, we have reached the other side of the pre- preschooler coin: The Little Girl With The Curl, Right In The Middle Of  Her Forehead.

(For those of you who don’t know the nursery rhyme: When she was good, she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid).

I am on thin ice and feel like an elephant on skates. But if I hold still and really try to see the world wearing The Dervish’s skates, I should feel quite balanced in comparison. I’ve been doing this a lot longer. I know how to control my temper (mostly). I know how to weather minor disappointments and gauge them against real tragedies (again, mostly).

Her world is so often out of her control, it’s no wonder she feels like she has been left, shrieking, in the middle of a cracking pond. We force her to wear snowpants. Confine her to a carseat. Limit her intake of sweets. All of this done for her own good, but not her decision.

I was driving to work this morning (after making two trips to daycare – one to drop off a kicking Dervish, the the other to drop off her lunch, which I’d forgotten at home amid the I must wear my polka dot pajamas or I’m not going massacre) when my nose started dripping and I didn’t have a tissue in reach. I tilted my head back as far as I could while still keeping my eyes on the road, and was for once, grateful for a stoplight that allowed me to dig safetly through my purse just as the drip reached my lip.

I have had 34 years to learn problem solving skills like this. Oatmeal on her favorite shirt is still new territory to The Dervish, and I have been known to swear when something similar happens to me. Both fortunately and unfortunately, The Dervish doesn’t know any expletives (yet) or that such things can be fixed. There might never be another pink fleece pajama top with a tan velour kitty, and we must grieve accordingly.

So I really ought to validate her concerns.

Obviously, she will need to cope with some things on her own, tantrum through a few moments during her day. She is going to get angry beyond reason, unable to adequately explain to me the source and depth of her disappointment, and I won’t be able to fix it.

And her head will spin.

And I will stay quiet, and I will listen when she’s ready.

Even if I have to go into the other room and scream into a pillow while she weeps, like her heart is breaking, about the seam of her sock not lining up properly. I am not allowed to fix it. “My do it,” she tells me.

She’s right. I can’t fix everything. I would be doing her a disservice if I did.

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