Tag Archives: relationships

Ain’t Got Rhythm

Recently several Mamas I know were talking about daily rhythms – whether they have one or not, how to find one, and how to keep it. Someone mentioned I’d be a good person to talk to about not having a routine (we’re not really routine people around here). But this really got me thinking. We don’t do routines, we don’t really have a schedule at all and try to avoid timelines as much as possible. We prefer to go with the flow. Deadlines leave me frustrated and usually results in me yelling at least once. I don’t like yelling (contrary to popular belief) it just leaves me feeling very anxious and stressed out – and then more yelling. A vicious cycle I want to avoid.

On the surface it might feel like we don’t got rhythm, but underneath there’s some funky syncopation. Each morning we wake up and there’s a certain feel in the air. We don’t always do the same thing everyday, but the feeling is the same (‘Oh Gawd, is it morning already?”) Opps. I mean we wake up peacefully and cuddle in bed, or roll out of bed and let the big girls watch the baby while I take our dog out to pee, or I leave the dog in his crate and get everyone else breakfast and then take him out, it’s different each day, but our mornings are always busy. At some point I also use the morning to do the only bit of cleaning I’m likely to do in a day. Then some time between eleven and two I have a coffee (Oh how I love my espresso machine). This usually involves me making everyone a coffee (the girls either only have a 1/4 shot each or decaf) lol the rhythm of our day would be very different if I caffeinated the girls.

Our days flow. We don’t have set times for anything. There’s no set order. Some days we leave the house for the first time at five in the evening. Other days we’re out the door for eight. But there is a rhythm to it. A certain feel. The difficulty isn’t in finding rhythm, but in choosing what the rhythm will be. Will it involve yelling and stress, or will the rhythm involve flowing and taking each moment as it comes? Rejoicing in the water seeping out of the bathroom into the hallway carpet? Okay, that particular moment broke my rhythm – but the girls loved it and just laughed as I seethed on the outside of the locked bathroom door.

“We’re cleaning it up mommy. Our bathroom floor is so clean now. You’re gonna be so happy.” Those words woke me up to the sweet deal I got going on right here. The rhythm isn’t in our daily actions, but rather in our daily feel. I regulate how I respond to each situation. The rhythm is found in those moments when I stop and decide the beat I want before I begin talking.

P.S. I LOVE Phineas & Ferb

 

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On Becoming a Mommy

Some people are born into families that love and respect them. They grow up knowing their self-worth. They know the worth of those around them. Some people are respectful of others because it doesn’t occur to them, even in moments of anger, not to be. Some people make great parents. I am not one of them.

I am the best me I can be. I am the best mother to my children I am capable of being. I would like to think that is good enough. And maybe for today it is. However, I want tomorrow to be better. I want to be better.

As we enter Lent and reflect on our lives and grow closer to God I look at the way I parent and know the most direct path to God is through my Children. Each moment I choose to be calm instead of yelling, respectful instead of spiteful, I move closer to God. And closer to my children.

Over the years, the actions of others impacted me greatly. Maybe not enough to instantly change the path my parents started me on, but enough that I knew an alternative path existed. When I was seventeen, I babysat for a wonderful family. Everyone was happy. It was plain to me that the children loved and respected, not feared, their parents. I didn’t have an opportunity to witness their parenting in action very often (I was the babysitter after all), but there were clues. An article on the fridge said children might feel shame or embarrassment if a parent corrected or disciplined in front of others. They used a secret word to let the children know they needed to talk in private. No spankings, no standing in the corner, no yelling, shaming, insulting.

Years later I was blessed to meet some wonderful people who have shown me that it doesn’t matter how a person parents so much as why they parent. These friends have parented in ways I said I never would. However it’s plain to me that their children are no worse for wear from the style of parenting. What’s the difference?

Respect.

As parents we don’t automatically deserve respect. We must earn it. One way of earning it is being respectful to our children. One parent may spank, another may talk, still another may use time-out. It doesn’t really matter (IMO). What matters is the feel of the exchange to both parties. Do both the parents and the children leave the exchange feeling loved and respected? If so, then everything will work out okay. But if the parents feel like they’ve given-in, then they leave resenting their child. If the child leaves feeling like his/her parents didn’t listen, didn’t understand, or did’t didn’t care, then they’ll be less inclined to talk to the parent in the future. That child will be less inclined to heed the parents advice, and will more likely go against the parent’s wishes in the future. Unless both parties feel respected there will be no real resolution and no real connection.

It’s a tricky road to walk. How does one learn to be respectful? It’s usaully pretty easy to see when I haven’t been respectful. Broken hearts glisten in tears rolling down sweet little faces. But choosing the gentler path can be difficult.

For me it starts by seeing the patterns. I know certain things will happen everyday. I’m in the middle of doing something and one of the girls needs me. I know she needs me before I provide my undivided attention. I know that every day, one of my girls will inadvertently hurt someone else. I know these things happen and I can choose how to respond before it happens. Having a plan in effect takes the stress from the situation and allows me to show my children how much they mean to me by not yelling. That plan gives me the opportunity to bypass my knee-jerk response. Now I need to work on moving that plan into other areas of my life. Into other relationships.

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Five Years

Due to moving, and computers crashing I don’t actually have new baby photos of her right now, however from about six months on here is Ella over the last five years:

 

It’s amazing how much she’s changed. I’m so proud of all the things she’s done and all the things she’s going to do. I have a girl who’s so full of energy, spirit, life. I smile everyday, knowing I have some part to play in this awesome little person’s life.

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How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Ryan is an amazing man. He’s not perfect. There’s a thing or two that drive me nuts – but that’s not the point of this post. This post is about the wonderful man I’m married to. It’s unlikely I’d ever find someone else as wonderful for me as he is.

Over the past few years he’s spent more hours than I can count wearing one baby or another on his back. I sit and relax while he watches movies standing up.

Whether he has a baby on his back or not, hell help me clean up the kitchen. By help, I mean he cleans the kitchen while I sleep in.

Speaking of sleeping in…When he’s home, he gets up with the girls, and lets me go back to bed. Pure Bliss 🙂

He does most of the grocery shopping. Which is also saving us a ton of money. I’m the one that knows what’s in the pantry. So if I go shopping, I see something I know we’re almost out of, and I buy it. He reads my list and doesn’t even look at anything else. Thus keeping our grocery bill half the size mine would be.

He lets me have a fighting chance while playing Nintendo with him. I even beat him at Disney Universe a time or two.

He buys me flowers a few times a year, just because I like them.

Everyday, he tells me I’m beautiful and that he loves me.

He plays with our children and lets them help him cook. When our backyard turned into a lake one rainy day, he took the girls outside with their mud suits and fishing rods and happily fished with them for several hours.

He plays with the baby as much as he plays with the big girls. He also gives me special time with Cordelia while he plays with the big girls.

He supports my desire to go to Disney World every year. And works the overtime to make it happen.

I love his smile.

He’s joined me on this crazy adventure we call parenting and he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone and try new ways of doing things just because I tell him I think it’s a good idea. Wow!

I can’t help it, I’ve compared my husband to many others and every time I come to the same conclusion – keep yours, mine’s better 😛 (said in a very teasing manner – please take no offence : ) I love Ryan and that’s as it should be).

 

 

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Growth Spurt

An experienced parent knows that a baby eating more than usual, sleeping more than usual, fussing more than usual usually means a growth spurt. Most babies follow a similar pattern: 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months mark large periods of growth. During this time a baby nurses for hours on end, many mothers incorrectly assume they don’t have a large enough milk supply for their baby. Many mothers unwittingly supplement. A baby nursing even after the breast is empty will be okay. They’ll feed more frequently, they’ll feed longer, they’ll increase the milk supply just by nursing more. It might take a day or two, but Mama’s body will catch up and baby will thrive and grow – without ever needing supplementation.

It sounds easy enough. Baby wants to nurse, let baby nurse. Baby wants to sleep, let baby sleep, baby needs extra cuddles, then cuddle your sweet baby.

But what about older children? What signs mark periods of growth after baby is walking and talking? Unfortunately, even though they have so much experience with it, children don’t automatically realize they’re growing. In fact they seldom know until one day they grab something that was a foot out of reach the day before.

Parents don’t usually realize their children are growing either, until they buy new clothes. The clothes come home from the store, slightly big. Daddy removes the tags, by nightfall the clothes don’t fit.

There are other clues that our children are growing. Some sweeter than others. At all ages and stages of growth children tend to eat and sleep more while they’re growing. But they also tend to upset more easily.

Recently we’ve been faced with a houseful of growing girls. One day the girls sang in harmony. The next day they insisted no one sing at all.

We see little girls that push each other, bite, kick, or hit more often. They have a more difficult time talking things through with each other. A little stumble creates giant tears, that last for hours. If one girl wants something, the other wants the opposite. No food is the right food, something we don’t have is always the preferred choice.

For us other signs of growing include:

loss of coordination, more likely to stumble

rocking

hand wringing or shaking

stuttering

toe walking

refusing to sleep

gulping/sucking air

burping (think of the sound Gollum makes)

Chewing (on fingers, clothes, anything in reach)

 

Mostly we ignore the tics while they pass, but we also try to help the girls cope with them. We provide chew toys when needed, straws for drinking, bikes to ride rather than walking, a trampoline to bounce on, soft cushions to crash on. And most importantly we try to offer patience and love. These will pass, and they’ll pass faster if we offer support, rather than consequences.

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Sibling Bonding

Everywhere I turn I hear parents lamenting sibling rivalry. I hear them asking how to get one child to leave the other alone. I hear them saying they don’t want the four year old to touch the baby, but then in two years they get upset when the six year old doesn’t want the two year old around.

When Agatha was born, we had our fair share of ‘problems’ as we navigated from one child to two. Our poor little Agatha was bumped and bruised, cut and scraped so many times. But she was so in love with her big sister (when she wasn’t afraid). We eventually figured things out and the relationship improved.

Now that Cordelia’s here things could be very difficult, but instead we find things even better than before. Our two big girls are so excited to help and share, and Cordelia is so in love with her sisters. She can’t get enough of them. There is no fear, there are no cuts or bruises, just love.

How did this happen?

First, the girls were involved with the pregnancy. They came to appointments, they helped us choose names, they touched my belly, they talked to the baby, they hugged and kissed her while she was still inside. They were present at her birth, and were invited to hold her as soon as I was willing to let my baby out of my arms for the first time.

When Cordelia came home with us, we encouraged the girls to hold her as much as they wanted. We’d sit them at the couch and hover. After all a newborn baby is rather floppy. As Cordelia became stronger, we hovered less. Now Agatha holds Cordelia on her own all the time, Ella carries Cordelia around the house. Whenever they want to do something with each other, or the baby, we try to find a way to help them play together, to accomplish their goals.

Some ways we do that include: playing tag with the girls, and tackle games. I carry Cordelia and chase the girls around the house. I’m sure to give all of them plenty of chance to see each others faces. In the beginning, I’d point out the huge smile, the look of intense pleasure, on Cordelia’s face, now we just play. They all have so much fun together. They all get a chance to be on an even playing field. As Cordelia gets bigger I’ll add in soccer. I carry her (when she’s bigger I’ll hold her hands) while she runs and kicks the ball, and the big girls try to get the ball away, or Cordelia tries to get the ball from them. They aren’t competition games because there is no win or lose. The whole entire point is to have fun. It doesn’t matter who has the ball because everyone’s playing together. As they get older these games could translate into competition, but for now it’s bonding.

During the day I spend a lot of time interpreting for the big girls. They rush over and pick Cordelia up and she whimpers. I point out the sounds, and let them know she doesn’t like that. I then offer a suggestion for what they could do that’d she’d likely enjoy. As she gets bigger, I’ll also help her figure out words to use so she can let them know on her own that she’s unhappy with a particular turn of events.

Right now it seems as though the most important part of having a positive experience with their sisters is me helping them figure out what the other means. They don’t have the knowledge base to figure out on their own that certain faces or sounds mean someone else isn’t having fun. They also don’t have the ability to put someone else’s needs or desires above their own. It’s my job to advocate for each of my children.

It doesn’t matter, for the most part, what happened, who started it, why someone’s crying, or anything else that divides the children. What matters is figuring out how to find a solution that preserves respect. It matters that they learn new methods of communicating, and playing together.

One day they won’t need me to step in as often as I do, one day they won’t need me to point out when someone else cries. One day they’ll take these skills and use them on their own, in the ‘real’ world. But for now they’re little girls playing together, loving each other, and loving life.

Is there something your family did – or does – that helps promote bonding between children, particularly children of vastly different ages and abilities?

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The Genius of Max & Ruby

I’ve yet to meet a parent that likes the show Max & Ruby. In fact I’m probably the only parent that actually finds the show cute and funny. Of course I’ve talked to the girls and they see it the same as I do, so I’m not concerned.

Two little bunnies, Max and big sister Ruby. Live (seemingly) alone. There’s a grandmother close as well as friends, and some adult bunnies. The beginning of the show Max wants to do something, but Ruby wants to do something else. Inevitably Ruby either doesn’t understand Max, or ignores him. At the end of the show Ruby figures out what Max tried to convey and everyone’s happy.

Most parents don’t like how bossy Ruby is, they also don’t like how she puts her wants over Max’s, they don’t like how she ignores him while she pursues her own desires. They don’t like that the majority of the program shows Ruby being mean and only the last few moments show a better way to meet everyone’s needs.

Ella and Agatha think it’s funny that Max knows what’s going on, that he tries to tell Ruby, but she doesn’t stop to listen and gets into one problem after another because of it, but if she just listened to the younger, smaller Max, then everything would’ve been okay from the start.

I suspect many parents don’t like the show because subconsciously they’re aware that the show mirrors their own actions and words. Max wakes up and Ruby’s eating yummy strawberries for breakfast. Max wants them, but Ruby has an egg for Max. He refuses. She threatens “No strawberries until your plate is empty”. She eats the strawberries in front of him, “Oh these are yummy, if you just ate your egg, you could have some too.”

It hits a little close to home. Especially when the show makes it very plain that it doesn’t matter if he really eats his egg or not, it doesn’t matter if he gets dirty. It’s easier to clean him up, than get upset.

But it’s easy to say one child shouldn’t treat another in such a way. Adults are different. It’s okay for a parent to tell their child one day they can’t get muddy, they can’t play with a certain toy, they can’t do what they want, but the next day (when the parent wants to do something quietly) the parent encourages the child to do exactly what the parent says ‘no’ to the rest of the time. Then the parent gets mad when the child comes over to see what’s happening. The parent doesn’t need to find out why the child comes over, they’re the parent. But if one child treats another in such a manner, then it’s considered rude, impolite.

I find it amazing that parents expect children to learn to cooperate, to share, to listen to other’s views, yet as adults they don’t bother.

Don’t get me wrong, I know many parents who do. But I also know how difficult it is to spend the majority of your life with someone else as boss, and now that we’re no longer children with someone else dictating to us, it’s really difficult to let go of the little bit of power we have.

However, I believe it’s very important that we do. We need to model to children how to behave. Show them that all people deserve respectful treatment, including those smaller and weaker than ourselves.

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