Letting go, one milestone at a time

 

Motherhood is mania personified.  Truly.  One second I’m pulling my hair out, desperately wondering when getting W dressed will no longer require chasing and tackling.  The next second, silent tears of pride stain my cheeks as he proudly pulls his own undies up and down to go potty.

And this week’s mania?

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W started his first art class where (soon) he’ll be in the class all.by.him.self. [GASP]  It was terrifyingly adorable.  Miniature chairs, tiny smocks and paint splattered masterpieces mixed with a little bit of sharing and learning his colors.

I faded into the background knowing that the goal was to soon leave him there alone.  I was just a silent (and proud) observer of his little personality filling the room and coming through loud and clear…a whole lot of spark and persistence, a little bit of antsy curiosity and a lot of kindness for his new buddies.

It’s exhausting.

And not always in a bad way.  But exhausting in a cathartic sense.  The other side of extreme joy and pride is seriously just as tiring as the other side of panic.  And I know a little bit about panic.  Like the mild panic I feel as I think about actually leaving him alone at his art class in the coming weeks…

But the day will come.  It will happen.  Eventually.  And whether I’m ready or not, there will always be another milestone fading away in the rearview mirror…another one appearing on the horizon.  A never ending lesson in letting go.

But real talk, this road toward a more independent child is a nail-biter of a ride for those of us in the driver’s seat.  It’s bumpy and paved with chaos, but it’s a scenic drive splashed with tiny moments of triumph, exhaustion, lots of joy and a few spilled bottles of paint.  Oops.

But the passenger seat?  Well, that’s a different story.  Let’s just say that my little co-pilot seems to be thoroughly enjoying every second of this hectic ride and happens to love speed bumps.  The more the better.  The bigger the better.

No wonder I’m starting to go gray…

Manically yours,

MomME

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And just like that, we were done

It happened so slowly that I barely noticed it.  But in hindsight I guess I also grieved it slowly.  Every day.  Across months.  And said good-bye minute by minute, session by session…until, finally, my little nursling was no more.

A little more than two years and little W is, I’d say, officially weaned.  For the last several months my energetic toddler has nursed less and less, and still less.  Our once three-times-a-day sessions dropped down to just morning and night.  And, when he was just as eager to wake up and eat breakfast we dropped another session and just nursed before bed.  And finally, when he was just as eager to start reading books with Daddy…

We were done.  There were no more nursing sessions left to drop.

And much to my surprise, I was OK.  I am OK.

There were so many times leading up to this day that I’d look down at him while he was nursing and my heart would just about burst in my chest.  Explode.  Threatening to scatter tiny fragments of my soul across his serene nursery.  I know.  That sounds so dramatic.  But two things: (1) if you’ve ever self-sustained a tiny human (from the breast or bottle) you know what I’m talking about and (2) nursing makes you all sorts of hormone-induced-crazy.  So, it was the silent kind of catastrophe that usually just resulted in big, silent tears seeping from my eyes while my little one happily nursed away none the wiser.  I was already heartbroken and dreading something I knew would come…

But I just couldn’t imagine the day we’d no longer nurse.  The day we’d no longer share this indescribable bond.

It was, after all, a bond forged over engorged, bloody nipples…clogged ducts…and mastitis.  A bond forged through what seemed like endless all-nighters, cluster feedings and days where we spent more time nursing than we didn’t (and I have the app to prove it…).  Across a seemingly endless journey from 32As to 32Es..every size in between…and arriving at my new boobs that more closely resemble tiny, shriveled grapes.

But it came and went.  As I knew it would.  As it had for many of my friends, whether it was before it ever started…or sooner than they would have liked.  I’d grieved with them, too, and felt joy for them as they found new ways to connect and keep their special bond alive.  But I was so surprised that I almost didn’t even notice.  It happened so gradually.  So peacefully.  Not at all the dramatic explosion my anticipation foreshadowed.  Thankfully.

I know that, each and every day, he’s growing and changing and developing and evolving – just like our relationship.  But, nursing or not, I know that our bond is just as strong.  We just express it in different ways now.  A running hug from across the room.  A kiss on my imaginary “boo boo.”  A snuggle before bed.

And, you know what?  It kind of feels good to be wanted just for me.

But, honestly, little W will still ask for milk every once and a while…even though these shriveled milk-makers aren’t making anymore milk.  And I happily oblige because I miss having his little head lay on my chest as we snuggle.  So when it happens, I breathe in every second of his warmth and am grateful for just one more moment.

Gratefully yours,

MomME

 

 

Day 18 – 20: [final installment] Sleep Regression Update

All seems right in the world when your kids takes their nap.  And that is hardly an exaggeration.  It’s been 5 days of easy-peasy-no-nursing-down-at-1pm naps and we are both loving the life of the rested.

For now.

They always say, just as you’ve settled into a comfortable routine and something feels easy…just wait a second and it will change.  [We say that about the weather here in Maine, too…awesome.]  I’m sure you can imagine how much my compulsive need to know and plan absolutely loves the certainty of ever-changing-uncertainty.

Nope.  Not at all.

But.  I’m actually getting better at rolling with the punches.  Nap time, though, was just NOT something that I was going to let roll out the door.  Instead, I did some contingency planning during Days 1-13 that allowed me to have a semblance of control over the day and a tad bit of personal time before 7pm.  And it involved setting my alarm for 5:45am to do my Tone It Up work out, write a blog post, whatever.

And even better than setting my alarm for 5:45 (I know, you’re thinking that pretty much everything is better than that…and I don’t disagree) was setting my automatic coffee maker for 5:40am!  No joke, I heard the coffee machine finish brewing and that was all the motivation I needed to groggily find my way to the kitchen, grunt a good-morning to my husband (who gets up at 5:15 every day…you’re so good, honey!) and head on downstairs to workout and rack up the steps on my FitBit (and my competitive nature loves trying to out-do myself with this little tracker!)

We all bend and adjust to the new and changing circumstances as best we can, even little W.  And sooner or later we all fall into a new normal that will, no doubt, change again soon.  Sigh.  But even though my early wake-up was only meant to be an interim modification to adjust to a no-nap scenario, I think it’s going to stick around even with nap time back in full-swing…

For now.

So, here’s to Day 21 of our (formerly known as) Nap Regression.

Gratefully yours,

MomME

 

Day 15-17: Sleep Regression Update

We’re continuing to trudge through this dreaded sleep regression.  Keeping up a calm and positive facade as we climb the stairs after lunch…anticipation mounting with each step toward the nursery, with each book read, with each reply to his pleads for “More books.  More milk.”

In hopes of not bombarding your newsfeed with a second-by-second update of W’s every toss and turn, I decided to save up a few days.

But the real reason for hoarding updates?  Yeah.  I really didn’t want to jinx myself again.  So, here it goes…

Day 15: No nap.  But no poop either!  He stayed in his crib [sans intervention] for an hour and wasn’t screaming the whole time.  He was definitely fussy, but it was intermittent and I could tell he was totally doing it for show.

Day 16: A nap!  The hubby was home (it was Saturday) and I was catching up on some work hours, so he put W down for his nap…and voila!   Success!

Day 17: Another nap!  Another  success by the hubby!  I’ll admit, though, I’m anxious for tomorrow when it’s my turn to put the little guy down for his nap.

Real talk.  I wouldn’t be blogging about each and every day…and sometimes minute…of this sleep regression if I wasn’t looking for common threads that have led to successes or failures in the nap department.  And, I’m no Sherlock [one of our new favorite shows, by the way] but I can tell that the common denominator in successful naps is my husband.  Or, lack of nursing being part of the routine.

I’m not ready to say we need to drop it from our nap time routine (we only nurse morning, pre-nap and pre-bedtime right now)…but the pre-nap nursing session is the next up on the chopping block.  If I don’t have success tomorrow, I think I might start eliminating it from our routine.

What’s the worst that can happen?  He won’t take a nap?  Been there, done that.  15 days and counting…

Hopefully yours,

MomME

Day 13 + 14: Sleep Regression Update

As I sat typing the Day 12 update yesterday I didn’t dare mention that I was doing so during W’s nap.  I was utterly terrified to jinx myself.

And, no joke, almost as soon as I just typed “jinx” W started crying again from what was looking like a promising Day 14 nap…seriously!?  Ok, so the direction of this post may change a bit and end up like an update on yesterday’s nap with an interjection of a play-by-play from today’s nap.

About as linear and cohesive as my mind is these days.  [Insert sarcasm.]

Minute 7 of Day 14 nap: still a little fussy…but still not screaming bloody murder.  Progress

Exhale.  I can resume typing.  So, where was I?  Oh, yes.  Day 13.  Lucky number 13.  Our glorious return to the land of afternoon slumbers.  I sat, almost frozen, on the couch for the entire hour and thirty minute nap.  Afraid that if I so much as sneezed I’d wake the sleeping dragon.  Alas, it wasn’t quite as relaxing as the nap times of long ago that I was drooling over days Days 1-12 of our nap regression.

And I’m interrupted again.

Minute 10 of Day 14 nap: another crying bout.

Minute 12 of Day 14 nap: still fussing and whining, “Mama, baby.  Mama, baby.”

Minute 14 of Day 14 nap: see above.

Sigh.  So, who knows how this will end.  But I’m determined to win and will let him be for at least an hour.  And tomorrow I will do our (slightly modified) nap routine again:

  1. Adventurous morning out and about (today was music class followed by Banjo Man at the library and a quick errand)
  2. Lunch at noon
  3. Play time depending on how tired he’s looking (today he was looking so tired!)
  4. Naptime routine – books, milk and [insert so many fake-turned-real-yawns] quiet time in his crib.  And telling him this order over, and over and over.  And over again.

Minute 18 of Day 14 nap: the crying has picked up a bit but is interrupted with his imitation of train sounds.  Sweet, but not leaving me feeling very hopeful.

I think I can, I think I can,

MomME

Minute 22 of Day 14 nap: still crying.

Frigid weather fun – a cotton ball snowman!

Our cotton ball snowman!
Our cotton ball snowman!

If you haven’t been living under a rock then you’ve most certainly heard of this polar vortex that continues to spew frigid air our way.  [Side note: did you know Huff Post listed polar vortex the #2 banished word of 2015?  Well now you do].

So.  What to do you do with an antsy mother energetic-almost-two-year-old when you’re stuck inside because of a polar vortex it’s like -10 degrees outside?

Glue cotton balls to a piece of paper, of course.  And call it a cotton ball snowman.  Obviously.

Little W has been having fun with a glue bottle and or a glue stick lately, so on a frigid day earlier this week (I know, they’re all starting to blur together…) I thought, why not make ourselves a little snowman out of cotton balls!?  I rolled on over to Pinterest to affirm that making snowmen with cotton balls was, in fact, a real craft.  I’ve since saved this site since it looks like it’s full of easy crafts to do with little ones.

Next up: materials.

I grabbed the cotton balls from my cabinet, retrieved the glue and construction paper from W’s art bucket and told him to meet me at his table.  He excitedly scampered over to this little white craft table and climbed up into to his favorite seat, anxiously awaiting his “art project” for the day.  After I traced the outline of the snowman with various circular items in his playroom, I showed W how to squeeze the glue and when to “Stop!” (now one of his favorite expressions, one which he instructed me to do after a few seconds of squeezing my own glue dots, haha).  Then I showed him how to pick a cotton ball and stick it on the glue we’d just put on the paper.

With a little bit of guidance, we slowly filled in our snowman.  Little W helped me determine that our Frosty needed some buttons, eyes, a nose and a hat so I quickly cut them out of construction paper and…voila!

That, my friends, is how Frosty came to life one [very cold, polar vortex] day.  Happy gluing to you and yours 🙂

Frigidly yours,

MomME

 

 

Sleep regressions and other terribly-two-ish things

I’ve heard of the terrible twos, but up until a few weeks ago, I kept thinking, Not MY sweet little, angelic boy!  That was, until he was jumping up and down, stomping his feet, screaming, pounding on the door and “raging out” as I like to call it.

Why?  Because I told him he couldn’t have anymore of his favorite Honeysuckle Honeydew EOS chapstick.  After he’d already negotiated, with his little pointer finger, barely formed words and an affirming head nod,

“One more, mama.  One more. ” 

“No more chapstick, we’ve already had some,” I say calmly as we’re trying to leave the house to gymnastics class.  I literally hold my breath in anticipation of the rage that is about to explode from this otherwise utterly sweet little boy.  All over chapstick.

 <Cue meltdown>

Like a yoga mantra, I have to remind myself…Calmly offer an explanation.  Share affirming words.  Acknowledge his feelings.  Empathize with him.  Be there if he wants a hug.  Keep him safe from his own frustrations.  Let him express himself.  Move on after it’s over. 

I totally understand that in his ever-growing world, seemingly small things (to me) are a big deal to him.  He’s learning so much about the world around him, his place in his, his ability to interact with that world…to flex his control in that world…to negotiate in that world.  I mean, he loves those little chapsticks – he can open the top all by himself, he can put it on all by himself and he can put the top back on all by himself.

What more could a two-year old want than to be in total control?

A nap, you say?  Temper-tantrums are usually a result of being down-right-tired, right?  So, just make sure he gets his nap and we can hope to avoid some of these meltdowns.

Nope.  That would make too much sense and be too easy.  We are going on day 12 of no nap.  

And not the I’m-going-to-sit-in-my-crib-and-just-talk-to-myself kind of no nap.  No, this is the begin-SCREAMING-the-second-mom-puts-me-in-my-crib-and-rage-until-she-gets-me kind of no nap. Another lovely by-product of the terrible twos.  It started with some Christmas-cooties that we all passed around during the lovely two weeks my hubby was home.  After that, he hasn’t taken a nap except for when he falls asleep at the boob (twice)…or when he actually fell asleep in the car on Saturday for 45 minutes…which he NEVER does.  [I know, what kid doesn’t fall asleep in the car?  The kid whose mother was a freak about being home for nap time so he pretty much only knows how to nap in his crib.  Great most of the time.  Except for when he’s not napping in his crib and won’t nap anywhere else.  Sigh.]

BUT.  All hope is not lost.  I am NOT giving up on his nap time.  That is the MOST sacred of times for me and he is most CERTAINLY still in need of rest during the day.

So, what to do?  Call in the experts, of course!  My trusty network of amazing mamas.

I tossed the scenario out to the Boobie Group and another mommy group I’m a part of and I’ve gotten some great suggestions:

  • Keep at it and stay strong and consistent – their little ones did this at age two and sooner than later they were back to their nap!
  • Try moving nap time a bit earlier or later to see if he’s more ready for a nap then.
  • Give him some really great exercise before nap time, like a good game of tag!
  • Try putting some toys or books in his crib to help him quietly play for an hour and “rest.”

A Boobie Group mommy also posted an article from http://www.babysleepsite.com called “Toddler Sleep and 5 Things You Need to Know” that I found helpful, and most of all, affirming.  We’ve all been through sleep regressions before, and lived to see the other side of them.  Though, in the midst of them it’s easy to think that your baby will never sleep again.  At age two it is possible he’s done taking naps, but I haven’t given up hope yet.  He still seems pretty tired and if nothing else we’ll work out some quiet time for little W and for Mommy.

So here’s the game plan.

Yesterday I tried his nap earlier, and went into his room in increments to try and soothe him.  That did NOT work and actually only made him more angry.  So, today I think I’m going to try a little bit of a later nap and make sure he’s gotten some really good physical exercise in during the morning!  I’m thinking of putting up his mobile again, too, and letting him play with that during his nap – it has a swirling light, soothing sounds, etc. and I think could be a calming “toy” he could play with.

I’ll keep you posted.

Yours hopefully,

MomME