Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Killin' It!

Tonight, as a mom, I killed it! Really, I was pretty much killing it all day long. It was awesome. This morning Cylas and I attended a sweet little Holiday party with my mom's group at which I brought home made peanut butter balls and home made gluten free/dairy free/sugar free cookies. Killed it! My treats were delicious, appreciated, and did I mention, home made? Cylas had fun. I had fun. There were very little tears (all his) and lots of laughs (both). It was great. We killed it.

However, I still managed to wake up from Cylas' nap (yes, you read that right. About twice a week, I co-nap with Cylas and it is wonderful!) a little grumpy. So was Cylas. Maybe we had too much sugar (or not enough) in the morning. No big deal. We rallied. We cuddled and read, and played and then I decided to make an awesome dinner.

Now dinner is tricky for me. I am endlessly impressed with people, like my mother and sister, who provide home cooked dinners for their families every night. I try. I make lists and buy groceries, but we, even as a team, have never managed more than 4 meals a week. I had one of those meal delivery systems for a while that sends you the ingredients and recipes for 3 meals a week. Those 6 weeks were my best streak, but I wasn't that impressed with the recipe selection so we stopped using them. Most nights, it is suddenly 6:30 pm. I haven't begun to cook (even if I had a meal planned) and so Cylas gets something (delicious and nurtious) that I throw together, then bath and bed by 8:30 and I stumble downstairs to heat up a microwavable Trader Joe's Indian food for myself. If Eric is home, then instead of TJ's he goes out and procures us Thai Food, or Burgers, or burritos.

Not tonight though! Tonight, I made dinner! Actually, I made an amazing dinner on Sunday night too, so it being only Tuesday and already having 2 home cooked dinners under my belt for the week is pretty impressive. Tonight, I baked chicken with a mustard sauce that I quickly whipped up from a Pinterest recipe and I also made broccoli fritters. I saw these on pinterest too, and they promised it was a great way to get your kids to eat the super food that is broccoli. Sometimes Cylas is a great eater, and sometimes he is not, but a cheesy broccoli fritter sounded delious to me too, so I dove in. All in all it took about 40 minutes. I steamed some broccoli while I dressed the chicken, then stuck the chicken in the oven. While the chicken baked I threw the broccoli, 2 eggs, gluten free breadcrumbs, and shredded cheese in my food processor. Then I pan fried them into litter fritters. I also microwaved some TJ's brown rice. Cylas watched the Sign Language TV show that he is obsessed with on Netflix. A few times he wandered into the kitchen and said "Mama nummy?" and I said "Yes, it is going to be nummy. I'm killing it."

I set the table for he and I (we were on our own tonight since Eric was working) and put our plates down. I cut his chicken into bite size pieces for him, gave him a good scoop of rice and 2 broccoli fritters that I made sure weren't too hot. He had his water cup, and I had mine. I turned off the tv, put on some music and we sat down to eat, he in his chair, and me in mine. It was 5:50 pm. I had a home cooked dinner on the table before 6:00 pm. I was killing it! Cylas took a nibble of his broccoli and pushed the chicken and rice around a little and then seemed to have a problem with his purple plastic knife (that he chose.) "Yellow!" he yelled. "Oh, you want a yellow knife? I'll get you one." I jumped up and went back to the kitchen. I didn't see one so I brought him a yellow fork and a yellow spoon. He was not impressed. He started to whine. I asked him if he wanted to try some of my broccoli fritter. He did not. He started to push his plate, then he tried to flip his plate and throw his fritter at me. I stopped him, and sternly told him that was not acceptable behavior. "You don't have to eat, but you can't throw your plate." He looked at me. I looked at him. A minute passed. His face slowly morphed from shock to a cheeky smile. I went back to eating. Then he wanted to get down, so I let him down. Then he wanted back up. So I put him back in the chair. It turned out that he did not want back up. This happens a lot. Then he wanted to sit in my lap and nurse. I told him he'd have to wait. So then he cried, and collapsed on the floor beside my chair. I continued to eat as calmly and slowly as I could while my small child wailed on the floor next to me. Then he stood and asked to sit in my lap. That sounds like "Mama Uppy?" So I lifted him into my lap explaining that he could sit with me but we weren't going to nurse until I had finished eating. He signed that he wanted to nurse (Thank you Signing Time) and I said "no." He pulled at my shirt and so I put him down. He fell on the floor, his cheek resting on the wood planks in full despair. I told him that I loved him, but he would have to wait to nurse until I was done eating my dinner. That he could eat with me, or sit with me, or play, but not nurse until I was done. He declined my offer and instead just lay on the floor and cried, occasionally stopping to laugh at the dog or look at one of his toy cars, and then he seemingly remembered the abandonment he felt and he would let out a wail and return his cheek to the floor. It was a pitiful sight and I considered abandoning my plate to console him. But I did not. I ate my dinner. I cleaned my plate. The whole thing took about 6 minutes. I'm a fast eater, even when I have someone to talk to, and there isn't someone screaming at me to stop eating and take care of their immediate need. I announced I was done and stood up. So did he. He clapped and yelled "Yay!" Then he ran to our large chair and patted the seat for me to come sit down. I did. He nursed. All was right with the World.

So he did not eat the amazing dinner I made for him. Not at all. And he screamed and cried his way through most of the dinner experience, but I still feel like I killed it. How is that possible, you might ask? Because I ate my dinner! I'm hoping that I showed him that he is not the boss of me. That, he is loved, and valued, but that other people (including his mother) have needs too. And that other people's needs are also important and should be valued.

After dinner we went for a walk in the neighborhood with the dog. Then we came home and he ate a little dinner, had a bath, and we rocked and read stories and he nursed and I put him in the crib and he went to sleep with very little incident. I didn't say no incident. There is never a night without incident. That's what it is to have a toddler, I guess. But all and all, what a killer day! And I tell you what. He's gonna see those broccoli fritters on his plate again tomorrow, whether he likes it or not. I'll try to make sure I find the yellow knife to cut them with.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Identity Crisis

When I first became a mother, my world changed instantly. Gone were the days of sleeping in, or staying out late. Gone were the days of getting out of the house quickly and running a few errands. At first, I didn't mind at all. There was nothing I would have rather done than stay at home and stare at the baby. I would wake up in the middle of the night to stare at the sleeping baby. It was my entertainment, my socializing, my food. Cylas was all I needed.

And then he got older, and Eric went back to work and I started reading FB pages that weren't baby focused and I remembered that there was a whole world out there. A world I used to live in. A world that was hard to get to between naps and bedtime and a baby that really didn't like being in his car seat.

Sometimes, being a mom is lonely.

And this seems crazy because now we really fill our days with a lot of activities. We have classes and parks and play dates with new mom/baby friends. I have a great group of women who have babies around Cylas' age who I spend a couple of afternoons a week with. We chit chat as the babies parallel play and we text each other questions about potty training, nap schedules and food advice. I know a lot about their opinions on cloth vs. disposable diapers, and how much and where their children sleep at night, but ultimately, I know very little about them. We don't talk about ourselves much. Well no, we do. We talk about ourselves in the context of our newish identity...MOM. Most of us are currently some variation of the traditional "stay at home mom." Meaning that none of us goes to a 9-5 5 days a week and has to leave the baby with a caretaker. We're the main caretaker. Taking care is the Full Time Job. So, these new friends are kind of like work friends. We met because we work at the same "stay at home mom" job and we mostly talk about work.

I also have a few dear friends who I knew before Cylas was born (if there was such a time) and we happened to have babies around the same time. We talk about the babies A LOT too. But because we don't need to go through all the background small talk of getting to know each other "before baby" it makes it easier to slip into conversation about other things. Politics maybe, or music or....who am I kidding, we mostly talk about our babies. Wouldn't you? Look how cute they are.

And it makes sense. I spend about 95% of my time thinking about Cylas, so it makes sense that I would spend the majority of my time conversing about him as well. When Eric and I do get a night away from Cylas, or after he goes down for the night, we find ourselves talking about him, comparing notes on the amazing things he did that day. After we've exhausted the subject, we collapse on the couch with only the energy to watch Fresh Off The Boat. I try to always remember to ask Eric how his day was, and I try not to fall asleep before he's told me.

But then, later, as I lie in bed, scanning FaceBook or Instagram, or attempting to read a (non child-rearing related) book, I start to think about all the things I didn't give myself time to think about...or talk about. And sometimes...I feel lonely. I look at the events that so many of my childless friends are posting about, and I feel a bit envious. They are traveling, working, acting, shopping, eating out, going to spin class, (ok, I'm not envious of spin class, I'm just envious of her abs...you know who you are.) Most of my days revolve solely around Cylas right now. He is lucky. I am lucky that I get to spend so much time with him. And then I feel guilty for being envious of spin class. SPIN CLASS?!? But then I remember that the first (and sometimes only) question anyone asked me that day was "how's Cylas" as though I didn't exist outside of him. As though, Cylas  were the most interesting thing about me. Or, maybe, the only interesting thing about me.

And of course, I know this isn't true. And they know this isn't true. Even though it sometimes feels like it is true. I think it is easy, once you become a parent, especially a mom, especially a stay at home mom, to feel like you've been handed, not only, a new little life to love and take care of, but also a brand new identity. And it replaces your old identity...entirely! I've talked about this before, I know. I think about it a lot. And for now, it's fine. I'm envious sometimes, and lonely sometimes, but mostly so deeply in love with my little Czar that I don't remember that I'm lonely or envious. And, to top it all off, I want ANOTHER BABY! I want one bad. So, I better get working on creating a new, blended identity that makes me feel good, but hopefully doesn't have to involve a spin class.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good Night Sweet Prince

On January 31st, Cylas turned one. My little, tiny, baby is not a little tiny baby anymore. This has happened gradually and then all at once. On his birthday, he decided (using the help of a ride-a-long giraffe toy) to start walking around my parents' backyard. First words have been spoken, first steps are emanate. It's been an amazing year. Probably the best year of my life. But, let's be honest here, it's also been really fucking hard.

That being said, I am lucky (I think.) I got an "easy baby." Cylas is mellow, and sweet. He's healthy and robust.  As a newborn, he slept pretty well, rarely cried and nursed like a champ.  I didn't even mind getting up with him in the middle of the night and at a couple of months old he was sleeping through the night. In fact, I would set an alarm to wake myself up in the middle of the night to pump because Cylas would sleep right through his possible nursing sessions.

Then around 4 months old, Cylas changed his mind. He no longer wanted to sleep peacefully beside our bed in his cradle. He started waking up every hour needing to be nursed back to sleep. I moved him into our bed where he slept while latched on and nursing ALL NIGHT LONG. And for awhile, this worked. We both got some sleep, the operative word being SOME. You try sleeping while a tiny human lies attached to your boob all night. It was during this time that Cylas' naps became more problematic as well. Then at 6 months, when we started solid foods, Cylas stopped pooping. Not entirely, of course, but his poops became very infrequent, about once a week, and they were, how should I say...substantial when they did happen.

Before Cylas was born, I would have considered myself a baby expert. Not only did I have experience with other people's babies, but I also did a lot of reading while I was pregnant. A lot. I love to read, a pleasure I had to forgo while nursing Cylas to sleep several times a night, until I downloaded the Kindle app for my phone (game changer, people.) I read books about sleeping, I read books about eating, I read every mommy blog and mommy board on FB. I should have been an expert, right?

It turned out, I wasn't.

Becoming a mum has been a humbling experience to say the very least. I'm a capable and confident person. I am educated and sensitive to the needs of others. I have all the necessary qualities a successful mother needs, and yet I was plagued with such DOUBT. When he wouldn't sleep, I would lie there, desperate and sad, with an unquiet mind; my own terrible mantra circling through my brain..."failure, failure, failure." I was failing him. I couldn't get him to sleep for longer than 45 minutes without needing me to settle him back down. Oh and did I mention that he was only pooping once a week? I obsessed about that too, but mostly I thought about his sleeping. And I thought about my sleeping (which was naturally effected by his sleeping and visa-versa.) I thought, and I researched and I asked others and I cried (and I laughed sometimes, too) and I practiced that wicked mantra. This went on for months.

And that is not to say that our days have not been filled with music, and sunshine and giggles and one life changing, amazing, awesome, mind blowing experience after another.  I have been happier in this past year than I have ever been. Eric is happy. He is alive with his son in a way I've never seen him before. Our life feels more complete. Every moment of this past year has been so precious, I thought about investing in Google Glass so that I record it all. Especially, I wished I could have recorded Cylas as he fell asleep. I did my best to memorize every detail. It was only in those dark moments, when I was back in our room for the fourth time in a couple of hours, to nurse that boy back to sleep, and Eric was downstairs waiting for me, and I was hungry for my dinner and my back ached from holding a position that made it easier for him to nurse, that the doubt crept in.

And I'd love to say that it's all better now. It is much better. Cylas eventually seemed so uncomfortable sleeping next to me that we made the decision to move him into his own crib. He protested some, but within a day or two he was falling asleep by himself in his crib and sleeping for much longer stretches. I still go in and nurse him a couple times a night. Some nights, it's more than a couple, but we're both a lot happier, and sleeping much better. And a couple of weeks ago, I stopped taking my prenatal vitamin and Cylas started pooping again. My vitamin had too much iron in it for him. Some expert I am.

All and all, life is excellent. I have a loving and supportive partner, and the cutest, sweetest baby I could have hoped for. I only mentioned the DOUBT because I'm sure that I am not the only new mother to go through this. I'm not talking about postpartum depression, I'm just talking about doubt. I beat myself up about any and every problem that Cylas was having and then I beat myself up for beating myself up. Lately, I'm trying to be nicer to myself. I'm getting better at it every day. The sleeping helps. Supportive friends and family help, and Cylas' smile helps.

If I could change one thing about this last year with Cylas it would be the doubt. I would quiet my horrible mantra and just breath in the sweet fleeting moments of having a baby. He's one now. He survived, and so did we. He'll be walking soon, and he's getting a few new teeth. He weighs 20 lbs and when he nurses his legs spill out of my lap. I can't even remember what he felt like when he was 7 lbs and I could hold him with one arm. I wish I hadn't spent a single moment of that time feeling afraid or lost. But alas, I did. Because I'm human. And try as I might, I'm sure I'll feel lost and doubtful again and again as he grows. Oh well, I'm feeling pretty great at the moment. I should make a new mantra.