The Psycho Mom Shower Scene

I close the bathroom door with a definitive click. I prop my iPad up on the tiled counter and press play for the newest Mumford & Sons album. Turning the hot water handle 3/4 of the way around and then the cold handle 1/16, I let steam curl around the edges of the shower curtain and form rolling clouds above the shower head. Once I’ve created a steam room similar to those I used to visit on spa days B.C. (“Before Children”), I step into the scalding onslaught of water.

I begin smoothing shampoo throughout my hair, my fingers tripping through the clumps of hair glued together by a special mix of baby spit, breastmilk, and boogers. I close my eyes to the water and bubbles that are running down my face when I think I hear a something in the background of the loud music. A squeak? A rattle? Never mind, the thoughts of aromatic salt scrub and pampering cloud my brain as the steam clouds my vision.

QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!!

The metal balls of the curtain hooks clatter as the shower curtain is ripped open and I’m assaulted by a disco display of blue lights peppering my body.

QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!!

Close to losing bladder control and nearly acquiring an instant migraine I splutter fragments of a question, “Whaaa?? Gaaah?? Duuck??”

Through my watery vision I see the blurred shape of a small person, hand outstretched, squeezing a tiny duck with a loud voice and a beaming blue light that flashed with each squeeze.

“Liam? What are you doing? That duck is awfully loud.” My 2 year old son giggles as he squeezes the blue light so that it travels from my chin to my toes.

“Oookay, Mommy’s chilly. Let’s just clooose this curtain so the chilly air can’t come in here.” I pull the curtain to it’s originally PRIVATE placement.

The quacking stops, but it’s a little too quiet.

“Liam?”

“YES??” He bellows. (The child has a natural ability in using his diaphragm.)

“What are you doing now?”

“HI-PAD!!” He responds gleefully. Aah, yes, that’s why my music had stopped.

The bathroom door slams as I’m left to rush through my cleansing before the next barrage.

Anyone else ever feel like this?

Keeping Things Kosher

It just warms my heart to return to my blog account after a serious hiatus because of life stressors weighing me down to find that I still have people coming to visit my blog.

Meanwhile…

Tonight was Parent Night at Liam’s new school. This was a 2 hour event where we noshed on potluck with our knees up to our chins in miniature chairs while listening to the school’s overall early childhood education intent and then was able to meet in the toddler room to hear about their personal curriculum. My eyes teared up with gratitude at being able to find such a nurturing, learning-rich, community driven place. Listening to his new teachers talk about the toddlers learning from guided play and how in-tune they are with every child’s needs made me leave with a more positive, uplifted feeling than I have in a while.

It was probably also a good thing I made it to Parent Night at the Jewish Community Alliance (where Liam is attending the Early Childhood Education program) because I learned the ham and cheese sandwiches we’ve packed him every day since he’s been there are basically the worst thing you can bring into a Jewish establishment. We’re all leaving the JCA more educated today, as I now know a little more about what kosher means. (Meat and dairy can not touch each other. And PIG meat…even worse.)

We are not Jewish, but I love that Liam is learning some tradition amongst the rest of his education at the JCA. On Fridays they celebrate a semblance of shabbat before the children leave. I also learned tonight that shabbat is a sort of way of welcoming the Sabbath day of rest. They eat challah bread, sing songs and the children receive Mitzvah Awards for good deeds they’ve been seen doing. Liam got one for sharing the pinwheel he brought from home and his teacher said he didn’t let go of that paper certificate all day. It traveled out to recess, he gripped it through snack, I think he even clutched it through nap. It was a little wrinkled by the time it came to hang in all of its glory on the kitchen wall.

It makes me giggle that I heard someone use the verb schlepping in real-life context tonight and that I heard Liam hollering to Nana, “Shabbat, shabbat, shalom!!!!” Not giggle in a disrespectful way, just in a new-vocabulary-is-fun kind of way. I think, if anything, it amplifies the depth and width of the education he’s receiving.

Shalom!

I Would Bring My 3 Month Old to the Movies

I just read an article by Lisa Belkin called Stop Wondering Why There Were Young Children At The Aurora Theater. This particular article caught my attention because I have a confession to make. Today I was reading a list of victims from this horrific mass-shooting with the sole purpose of sending thoughts and prayers into the universe for them and the people in their lives that love them. When I realized how many young children there were an involuntary thought popped into my head, Whaaa? Why are there young children at a midnight showing of a violent movie? Then I quickly shamed myself for even letting such a thought evolve; the entire tragedy has zero to do with why any particular person was there and everything to do with the fact that every single one of them had the right to be there without even the possibility of being harmed in any way.

In Belkin’s article, she points out that these parents are now feeling forced by society to explain their actions rather than grieve and process this traumatizing event. Belkin quotes Heather Spohr’s blog More Spohr: I’m sure ALL the parents were prepared for the only realistic consequence of taking a kid to a midnight movie: next-day crankiness. No one thinks, “I shouldn’t take my kid to this movie because they might get shot.”

And so I share these articles and my confession in the hope that it reverses the judgement that I (albeit silently) put out into the universe. In fact, althougth I can’t imagine bringing a child to that particular film at that particular time of the day, I will be the first to say that circumstances constantly come up as a parent where you find yourself doing something that you thought you would NEVER do. And I sincerely hope all of us never see that off-chance of something going horribly wrong.

It seems that many of the judgemental comments target the parents who brought 3 and 4 month old babies to the movie. Really? Because that’s exactly who I WOULD bring! Nora is 3 months old and I brought her to the movies last month when I wanted to see Brave with my sister and nieces. She slept almost the entire movie and didn’t make a peep. (Ok, some parts were extrememly loud and I had anxiety that I had damaged her hearing…) When they are that young they aren’t retaining the movie and they’re probably awake then ANYWAY. But again, that’s all beside the point. The point being that these families do not deserve our judgement. They deserve our empathy, sympathy, prayers, and shared grief at such a horrible, horrible event.

Ramblings of Crazy Mom Brain

This is not the first time I’ve used this blog to ramble like a crazy mom, and it won’t be the last. So, all day I’ve been working on a post in my head which is cheerful and sentimental. That one will come, but I need to just write about my breaking heart for a second. I am in a state of panic. Frozen, petrified panic when it comes to this search for childcare. I feel like I haven’t let it get me too down this week but tonight, for some reason, it just snuck up behind me and tapped me on my shoulder.

There’s a lot to think about. I would prefer to find a place that I can send both children to so that I don’t have to factor in two drop-offs/pick-ups. I think I’d prefer a small center setting because I think Liam would like lots of kids and lots of choices for activities. There aren’t a whole lot of centers that take infants around here it turns out. If I did choose to have 2 separate places for Nora and Liam I have an acquaintance with an in-home daycare that I’d be happy to send Nora to and then Liam could attend a nursery school that takes 2 year olds. Turns out tapping into the nursery school scene around here is like trying to get into the hottest restaurant in New York City. The wait lists and amount of times I’ve heard that a school only has 1-2 spots left is adding to the anxiety build up.

I’m not sure what set me off tonight. I know that I was looking at a website for a local childcare center that some moms of new babies Nora’s age are using. It looked like a highly respectable center, very professional, lots of learning and play…a great spot.  Then I started thinking about how Liam wouldn’t know anyone there. OF COURSE I KNOW HE’LL MEET THEM AND GET USED TO THEM AND MAYBE EVEN MAKE A FRIEND OR TWO. THIS WOULDN’T BE MOMMY CRAZY RANTING IF I LET LOGIC RULE MY EMOTIONS. But my heart is breaking for the fact that he’s known his friends for more than half of his life. He talks about his guides every day. We sing a good night song and include every single child in his classroom to bid sweet dreams. They’ve learned how to be some of the most caring buddies that I’ve ever seen a group of two year olds to be. There’s not one single little friend in that classroom that he doesn’t adore and think of as family in his little brain and big heart. And just like that poof everyone is forced to scatter about. And it particularly breaks my heart because other parents have reacted in a much less wishy-washy manner than myself this week and many of them were able to get the 1-2 open spots at certain schools, or had even been so prepared as to put their child on a waiting list when they were born (what is wrong with me that I didn’t do that??). So, many of the toddlers will be transitioning with a friend. And Liam’s not. Ok, now I’m having a hard time seeing the screen because I’ve gone from misty eyed to full-on ugly cry. Pardon any typos.

How does a 2 year old understand that they don’t get to be greeted in the morning by Miss Alex and Miss Erin? He will have to get to know new teachers and it’ll take time before he’s comfortable with someone peeling him from mommy’s leg and giving him snuggles on the way to circle time. (They WILL give him snuggles, right??) Is he going to have abandonment and attachment issues because he won’t be greeted by Eve, Jayden, and Julian at the door? NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TELL ME THAT HE WON’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT BECAUSE HE IS TWO AND IF YOU ASKED ME SOMETHING ABOUT WHEN I WAS TWO I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO TELL YOU. I care about how he’s feeling NOW. How it affects him NOW. I worry that he’ll have trouble sleeping or react with negative behavior NOW. And I worry he’ll miss his friends and that he’ll somehow think it’s his fault he has to go to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people.

And the last thing I’m going to cry about tonight is that I’m scared. I’m scared I’ll make a hasty decision because I don’t have very much time. I’m scared I’ll choose someplace that will squash his spirit. He is such an amazing little boy with so much energy and soul and love and gifts and I want everyone who’s around him to recognize this all as positive. I want them to laugh loudly when he’s screaming at a deafening level, playing his air guitar and flailing his body around to his own music. I want them to see him exploring something and help him understand more about it, because he’s a sponge just waiting to listen to every syllable out of your mouth and repeat as much of it back. I want them to let him run around like a hyena when he needs to move his body and not make him try to sit still. I want them to hug him if he needs a hug; even if he has poor behavior I address the behavior and then hug him to let him know I love him even if I don’t love his behavior. I hate that new people will have to decipher his two year old language. That they may not understand what he’s trying to communicate to them because it takes serious background knowledge to understand an inkling of what a two year old is saying. I don’t want his needs dismissed by someone with a passive, “Ooohhh…okay,” when they don’t understand him say he wants “ghee.” Everyone who’s anyone in his life knows that ghee are those potato chip-style veggie sticks. Ghee was one of his first words and I’m fairly positive it came from the ending of veg-GIE [sticks]. (Pronounced with a hard g like “get,” instead of a soft g like “gee.”)

What if I mess up as his mom, as the person who is in charge of finding this for him? This fear of failing him is the cocktail coursing through my veins causing complete body shut-down.

UpROOTing

Throughout several blog posts dating all the way back to my pregnancy with Liam, you have heard me mention our childcare center, ROOTS. I am devastated to announce that our beloved ROOTS is closing next month and we are now on a desperate hunt for new childcare.

Herein lies the problem. How are we ever going to find someplace with ALL that ROOTS gave to us with Liam? There were little perks like non-toxic cleaning and a priority to being eco-conscious (and bestowing this onto the children).

And then there were the big things. Liam had been there since he was 8 months old. Some of his buddies from ROOTS he knew from infancy because of our postnatal classes at Birth Roots (confusing, but a different organization than our childcare center), and many of his dear friends that he sees 5 days a week, for 8 hours a day, he met at ROOTS.

They met when they were 6 months old and now go to ROOTS together. Liam is in the brown and his best buddy, Wyatt 1st from the left.

Hugging friend, Maren, at ROOTS

The staff has been the most loving, spirit-nurturing group I could have ever hoped for. While there have been faces coming and going they were carefully selected individuals who knew the names of every child in every room, not just the ones under their own care.

Laying down for a nap at ROOTS and snuggling with Miss Meggie

Oh, Miss Meggie, you’re way more fun than napping!

Every day Liam was exposed to art, yoga/movement, free play, exploration, books, learning, nature, and music. Not only world-wide genres on the ipod, but singing, drums, guitars.

A REAL guitar, for me?? (At ROOTS)

Art project in the Toddler Room at ROOTS

9 months old, finger painting at ROOTS

The outdoor space at ROOTS didn’t have your typical primary-colored play structure. It had a boat, a giant sandbox, a play house, stepping logs, a garden, a water table, and toys to explore with.

Liam & Eve playing outside at ROOTS

Toddler Room friends in the boat at ROOTS

The staff, or “guides” in each room have hand-written or typed a daily journal for each child, including pictures. Where else can I find a childcare place willing to do this? Sometimes, if I am not running late, I will stay for morning circle time with Liam and join in on the songs. It ALWAYS takes me at least half an hour to collect Liam at the end of the day because I’m chatting with the guides and other parents picking up, or playing with Liam and his friends. They go for walks around the neighborhood, to playgrounds and to the library. In the infant room, where Nora would have been starting next month, the guide will wear a baby in an Ergo or Moby wrap, rotating the babies in the buggy and the one being worn. They are familiar with, and use, baby signs for communicating. Liam has an impressive vocabulary, knows letters, and has learned about things like sea life, and the butterfly’s life cycle. He throws down the best Downward-facing Dog and Triangle yoga poses I’ve ever seen. His natural ability for music is nurtured and excelled by guides who play the guitar, drumming circles, and dance parties. The guides will integrate montessori activities, like using fine motor skills to place objects from one container to another with tongs. Liam has an imressive art portfolio at 2 years old.

If anyone knows of any childcare facility even remotely close to this stature in Portland, please, PLEASE contact me and give me the information! Not only will we miss our community and excellent care at ROOTS, but I am having a massive anxiety attack about what I will do for childcare. I begin working again at the end of August and I need to transition an infant into a place that I’ll be unfamiliar with. Liam will have to transition to a place where he won’t have friends and caretakers he’s known almost his entire life. Excuse me while I grab a paper bag and breathe with my head between my legs right now.

The Comedy of Parenting {Guest Post}

You have a SECOND CHANCE at winning an e-book copy of Sarah MacLaughlin’s book What Not to Say:Tools for Talking with Young Children! This is a guest post from Sarah on how laughter really can be the best medicine when it comes to parenting. At the bottom of the post is directions on how to enter to win the e-book and also the grand prize: a Kindle Touch. Enjoy! And don’t forget to leave a comment!

The Comedy of Parenting

By Sarah MacLaughlin, Award-winning Bestselling Author of What Not To Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children

Long before we became parents (or even started dating for that matter) my partner and I prepared for parenthood. This took many forms, of course. One example is that I took some Early Childhood Education classes. My husband, Rich, took several workshops in stand-up comedy.

If you think I always come out ahead in the parenting department, you’d be wrong. I’ve got the theory part down. But Rich just kills it with his execution.

I know what I should do—what response would be best.  I know how to use humor, silliness, and just plain Playful Parenting, (click for Lawrence Cohen’s wonderful book), often though I react instead. That doesn’t usually go so well.

Every parent loses their temper from time to time. Small children want what they want and are happy to show their feelings when they don’t get it. Volume control is nonexistent. Conflicting needs and desires while the child doesn’t yet have a fully developed brain are difficult to navigate.

Rich has been paving his way as a parent with comedy from the beginning. He is a creative genius in this department. He has a litany of characters, each with their own voice and personality. They tell outrageous stories and ask ridiculous questions. He gets it all wrong and pretends to know nothing. My son Joshua thinks this is hilarious.

In situations where patience is required, I can usually hold my own, but certain circumstances just irk me. A big trigger is when I override my own good sense and engage in some sort of “bargain” with my four-year-old.

**A word to the wise: Do not ever do this**

Here’s the short version of my story:

I tell Joshua it’s time for bath and bed. He tells me he wants to play more. I look at the clock and tell him that he can play for ten more minutes, but then it will be a quick shower instead of a tub. He says okay. (Would you believe I had already been in this situation once before and it had NOT gone well and here I was trying it again? Yes, you can. You know how hopeful and downright dumb we parents can be.) I ask him if he’s sure he is okay taking a shower instead of the bath. He says yes. (See, I’m no dummy. I double-checked. With the 4 year-old.)

Flash forward ten minutes to the bathroom:

I start the shower. Somehow, I am completely unprepared when Joshua announces that he wants to take a bath. I remind him that he agreed to take a shower. He says he’s changed his mind. I attempt to convince him that a shower will be fun. He resists. I insist. He fusses. I get mad. He retreats to the corner. I stare him down. He stares back.

I take a deep breath and it hits me that this is not going to work. I am certain that trying to force him into the shower in any way, shape, or form will end badly. I consider bowing out gracefully and somehow making it seem like a tub is my idea, but I’ve set such a clear expectation that it would be difficult at this point.

Then I ask myself: “What would Rich do?”

I smile hugely at Joshua. I stick my hands into the running shower and announce that I am helping Joshua take a shower. “Here, let me wash your hair, little boy!” I say. He giggles. I continue to pretend I’m washing Joshua. He stands in the corner and laughs. I look at him over in the corner and act shocked. I say, “Hey, wait a minute! If you’re over there, who is in here?” I am extremely surprised to find that there is not a child in the shower. He laughs more. I ask him to get in the shower. He says no. (I should have known my little Taurus would not be swayed so easily.)

I am annoyed, but I am making progress.

Going for proximity, I go to him and pretend to wash him right there in the corner of the bathroom. He howls with laugher and tells me he’s not in the shower. I apologize profusely and go back to washing the imaginary boy in the shower. He laughs. I go back and forth between the fake boy in the real shower and the real boy in the fake shower. Eventually, he gets in the shower and I feel like I’ve earned a gold medal in parenting.

That story had a happy ending. Many of them do not. If you can buy fifteen to thirty seconds between feeling irritated and taking action, you can remember to use humor. Yes, it was time consuming. Guess what? Any coercive approach would have been even more so. You can fight, as I did, to stay in your prefrontal cortex and invoke a humorous and playful tone. You set the tone. A child will follow your lead.

What situations in your parenting could use some lightening up?

Resource Mentioned in This Post

http://www.amazon.com/Playful-Parenting-Lawrence-J-Cohen/dp/0345442865/

Special Giveaway!

Please comment on this post about your comedies of parenting. Your comment enters you in the eBook Giveaway — to win an ebook copy of What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away one copy at each blog stop and will announce it on the comments of this post tomorrow. Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you in case you’re the winner!

Other stops and opportunities to win during this Blog Tour are listed on Sarah’s blog here: http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html.

Also, you can enter at Sarah’s site for the Grand Prize Giveaway: a Kindle Touch. Winner will be announced at the end of the tour after July 15th. Go here to enter: http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html

About The Author

Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families for over twenty years. With a background in early childhood education, she has previously been both a preschool teacher and nanny. Sarah is currently a licensed social worker at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine, and works as the resource coordinator in therapeutic foster care. She serves on the board of Birth Roots, and writes the “Parenting Toolbox” column for a local parenting newspaper, Parent & Family. Sarah teaches classes and workshops locally, and consults with families everywhere. She considers it her life’s work to to promote happy, well-adjusted people in the future by increasing awareness of how children are spoken to today. She is mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice about What Not to Say. More information about Sarah and her work can be found at her site: http://www.saramaclaughlin.com.

Flashback Friday {Waking Up My Heart}

The other day someone left a truly lovely comment on an old post. It inspired me to go back in time and re-read some of the posts from when Liam was a wee little bebe. I thought it wasn’t that long ago, but reading those posts made me feel like I was already forgetting what Liam was like as a baby. I know he and Nora look alike as babies because even Liam will look at baby pictures of himself and say, “Baby Nora!”, but then I just went through baby pictures of both of them so that I could post them here and show HOW much alike they were…and it’s not as similar as I thought. A lot of similarities, but enough differences that I couldn’t remember. I did find two that showed how similar I was originally thinking, but I couldn’t pull just any random shot. Sometimes I’ll be out in public and an adult will see Nora and look down at their school age child and say, “I remember when you were that small.” What if I forget how Liam was when he was that small?? And Nora too, when she actually is alive long enough for me to have a problem not remembering things. I’m so grateful I at least blogged irregularly, it brought memories back to me with details I had forgotten. Just capturing those everyday moments was worth every second I put into typing those posts.

In honor of digging up those precious memories, I’d like to share an Oldie-butta-Goodie that I really treasured finding. Click HERE to be transported back into Bebe Diaries time. I promise you’ll enjoy it. PROMISE. Leave me a comment if it was worth the Flashback!

Liam 2 months-ish

Nora 2 months