Crow’s Feet, Mom Underwear and Moments in the Middle

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

I never saw the wrinkles coming until they were just suddenly there. I was admiring a cute picture of Hank that I had snapped of me holding him a few months ago, and once I stopped looking at his adorable mug and glanced up at myself, I freaked! I couldn’t believe that was MY face. . .with this sudden influx of crow’s feet?? 

When did I suddenly age ten years overnight? (Maybe in those two years when I hardly got any sleep at all?) Hmmm–maybe. But my goodness, those wrinkles sure carved themselves in deep! 

(Not crow’s feet, laugh lines. That at least SOUNDS nicer)

After the long hot shower I finally got in at 10:00 p.m. last night, I had yet another realization about my changed life. What the heck happened to my underwear drawer in the last two years? Who snuck in and traded all my fun frilly cuteness for granny panties?

I certainly never dumped out all those adorably-patterned VS under-roosies that used to fill up that drawer, and traded them in for mom underwear. If I had known that was coming, I may have reconsidered the whole idea of motherhood!! Somehow, they must have just slowly replaced themselves while my conscious wasn’t paying attention, one Target 3-pack of stretchy Hanes at a time. 

Who are you and how did you get in my underwear drawer?

I don’t think I have ever fully realized just how “adult” I am these days. How adult I HAVE to be, that is! It is still sinking in–almost two years later–that I am someone’s mother now. 

All of these changes are a whole lot like trying to keep the house clean. You don’t necessarily see it getting dirty, you just notice it once it IS dirty. Once it’s already too late to prevent it. 

I just packed up baby clothes that no longer fit my baby because he is no longer a baby. He’s suddenly a little “big kid” now. Who just sported his first pair of pull-ups, because he just started using his big-boy potty. Boy, did that ever help it sink in that he isn’t my little baby anymore. (But wasn’t he, just yesterday?)

Pottytraining. And that big-kid baseball cap that just this month became permanently attached to his little blonde head. Just like his bro-bros.

Again–all good changes. All blessings. (Well, maybe except for the wrinkles and the mom undies–I’m going to have to learn to live with those.) But I need to learn how to live with all my changes, whether I like them or not. The only constant in my life these days is change. Isn’t that true for all of us? 

My main problem is, I somehow need to figure out how to absorb all that time, all those moments, all the little bits that come in the middle between one stage and the next. Because I don’t want to only remember the milestones. The big moments. I want to remember all of it.

(Because after all–it is all of these beautiful little moments that have earned me such impressive laugh lines. 🙂 )

Another amazing moment somewhere in the middle 😉

My Parenting Style? It’s Not What You Might Think

Hank Humor, Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

Two words have been bouncing around in my brain a lot over the past year, as my barely-walking 1 year-old baby rounded the corner on toddlerhood and headed towards that looming milestone of horror–the Terrible Twos.

The two words I am referring to are: Parenting Style. While taking Advanced Human Development, I studied the three main types, so I thought I had it all figured out. I was prepared to be an effective parent someday. It was as simple as this:

Be too strict: you’re authoritarian and they’ll resent you. Be too lax: you’re permissive, and they’ll run all over you. Be perfectly balanced–authoritative–and your kids will turn out respectful and responsible. How hard can it be to achieve a balance of being both demanding and responsive? Not that hard, right?

It can’t be! 

I mean–we don’t want to raise complete hooligans, but we don’t necessarily want silent little soldiers, either!

Seriously, how hard can this be?

Well. . . I’ll tell you. Here I sit, a month away from the TERRIBLE TWOS where all hell promises to break loose, and I am pondering just how well my “Parenting Style” is actually fitting in with the above logic. Am I doing a great job of being the perfect Authoritative Parent?

Honest to goodness–I couldn’t even tell you. While I shoot for authoritative, I like to call my current parenting style “A Wing and a Prayer.”

Here’s why!

Parenting, it turns out, is WAY HARDER than I thought it would be when that little plus sign miraculously appeared on the pregnancy test.

I have found, that as hard as you try to do all the mom things just so and devote enough time to all the age-appropriate brain-stimulating activities, life happens. Things get real. Houses get dirty. You still have to figure out how to pay all your (steadily increasing) bills.

And then; just when you think you have finally gotten a handle on the whole baby thing, they turn into toddlers. (I’m convinced toddler must translate into tornado in some language, somewhere!)

All the things I promised myself I’d do or not do, suddenly went out the window. To avoid complete insanity, I evolved into practicing a new Parenting Style centered around one premise: what works. (Hence the wing and DEFINITELY the prayer.)

Here is what that looks like in my house on any given day.

“Ok, so let me get this straight–you absolutely must wear your glow-in-the-dark pajama shirt all day today instead of getting fully dressed?”

“The only way you will let mom take a shower is if you get to watch Bob the Builder on the iPad?”

“You suddenly hate everything I just cut up for you for lunch–which I should point out, are all things you loved yesterday?”

And–“You WILL NOT go to bed unless ALL your diggers are IN your crib with you?”

Sigh.

*Admit defeat.*

Well, ok then! 

This is why my new Parenting Style is such a beautiful panacea for stressful parenting! I finally figured out that while it may feel like it, these are not mom fails. 

These are simply tornado survival tactics.

Did we still get out the door, fully clothed (in something) and get to grandma’s in time for me to get to work? Check.

Did mama get a shower without a screaming fit? Check. (And he’s learning technology skills, right?)

Did he still eat a healthy lunch? (Even if today’s first lunch all got packed back into tuppers for another attempt at dinner?) Check.

Did he still sleep through the night, (even though he may have rolled over onto a hard plastic toy a few times)? Check.

These days, I consider even a fair amount of cooperation from the little tornado a huge success. I may not be hitting the qualifications for perfect Authoritative Parenting, but you know what? That’s OK. I don’t have a perfectly-behaved soldier, but I also don’t have a complete hooligan. What I do have is a little boy who knows he is loved, loves us back, listens to us (most of the time) and most importantly–gets to love being a kid.

I call that a huge win!

Of course you can walk through the mud puddle, little boy

If you happen to be one of the elite Authoritative Wonder Parents out there, perfectly balancing your demanding with your responsive, I applaud you, and I envy you. (Can you let us in on how you do it?)
And to the rest of you out there, parenting littles the best you can. . .maybe even identifying somewhat with my ‘Wing and a Prayer’ Parenting Style–cheers to us! We may have a little lower bar, but you know what I call it? 

REALISTIC. I say survive first–tune up later. 

We’ve got this!

(I will pray for you if you pray for me!)

Monkey child

I Don’t Need A Gym Membership, I Have A Toddler

Hank Humor, Motherhood

I love food. Almost as much as I love my baby, my baby’s daddy, and wine. So “eating for two” was one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. I tacked on 50 pounds like it was nothing.

I thought it might be a struggle to get those 41 non-baby pounds off, but nursing was a miracle weight loss plan. The weight fell off surprisingly fast, thanks to the chubby blonde tumor that was permanently attached to my boob. Too fast, in fact.

By the time I hit the 12-month mark, I looked like a skeleton with skin. (And boobs.) I had lost every one of the 50 pounds I gained and about 13 more I didn’t have to spare in the first place. My husband was worried about his waif of a wife, so I kicked off the calf and hopped back on my pregnancy eating-for-two diet to put some weight back on.

Now that the (hyperactive) weaned calf is toddling around, I found that it doesn’t matter how much I eat, I can’t gain a pound! Toddler rearing might just be the new miracle weight loss fad of the decade. It’s a little bit like training for American Ninja Warrior, but with no Mt. Midoriyama. (Or screaming crowd of fans.) My big red button at the end of each obstacle-filled day is a big glass of red WINE. But, it damn sure is keeping me skinny! Here is a sampling of my daily exercise program, which I have lovingly dubbed American Ninja Mommy:

  • The pick-up-the-sippy-without-setting-down-the-baby squat. 14-month-olds, it seems, suddenly develop an attachment disorder, which means I cannot detach mine from my hip and set him down without a screaming, crying fit. But it’s all good! He is just pushing me to feel the burn! The deep squat is far more effective with a 26 pound weight on one arm while you scoop down to grab the milk with the other. And, repeat.
  • The “crib” yoga pose. This pose involves bending at the waist over the side of the crib, holding a hand on the chest of the almost sleeping toddler and keeping perfectly still for up to 10 minutes because he is So. Close. To. Sleep. If you break pose before his breathing changes, you will have to start from scratch. Hold that pose, mamas! Don’t weaken!
  • The stair stepper. Descend and ascend the 6 stairs that lead from the kitchen to the living room repeatedly, to retrieve the milk sippy/ball/paci/cell phone that the toddler has launched over the baby gate. Again.
  • Naked baby wind sprints. Post bath, if you look away for one millisecond to grab the lotion or jammies, the dripping toddler WILL open the nursery room door and run through the rest of the house before you can get the diaper on him. The race is on, mamas. The goal of this exercise is to catch that ticking pee bomb before your kitchen floor does. Diaper! Ready. . .GO!
  • Highchair waist bends. Meal times are all about core strengthening, ladies. Your toddler trainer will be happy to provide you with infinite spoon drops- all you need to do is bend. Pick up spoon, hand spoon to toddler, and repeat.
  • The dead- (asleep) lift. Once you have a sleeping toddler sprawled across your lap in the rocking recliner, you must rise from your seated position with the toddler held perfectly still, carry him over to the crib, and lay him down without waking him. High chair waist bends will come in handy here (see previous exercise).
  • The Time-to-Put-the-Toys-Away burpees. This exercise is a good cool down for the end of the workout, usually best done right before bed after the toddler has crashed for the night. Down to floor, grab a toy, up to your feet, walk it over to toy box/corner of the room/heap of toys behind the couch. And repeat. Repeat until you can actually see your pretty area rug again and you begin to feel somewhat on top of things. (Note: this exercise may be skipped, depending on how intense of a workout you have already had that day. You can always do it tomorrow.)

The very best part of this workout system is the $40/month you will save from gym membership fees. It can now be spent on Riesling, Malbecs, and Starbucks; the only dietary supplements recommended with this plan. Get ready to lose, mamas! (Pounds, that is!) And your happy little toddler trainer? While he may not celebrate your efforts like a paid personal trainer should, he will be the reason you wake up each new day, ready to do it all over again. And that is a huge WIN.