Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Blame My Parent's Divorce: Holiday Edition

Divorce is ugly. It's the ending of what was suppose to be a lifelong commitment. Some kids have to experience divorce as a young child where all decisions are made for them. Others experience it as a teenager or adult and are able to voice their feelings and opinions. I unfortunately fell into the first category. 

I've said it before, I'm thankful my parents decided to divorce. They were a hot mess together and are much better apart. I was five when they divorced. I am one of those 'survivor' types of personalities. I fight through the tough times and appear to everyone to "adapt well." to changes. 

Truth is, being subjected to my parent's divorce as a young child has had a long lasting impression on me. It causes me to do things instinctively without even realizing why. It wasn't until I was recently defending my choices that I had a self-realization. 

I'm a holiday traditions psycho.

It's true.

When I was little I would be shuffled from one gathering to the next. I'd spend an hour, MAYBE two at one house before rushing off to the next. A typical Thanksgiving or Christmas would have me traveling from 4-6 different family events, PLUS doing something with my mom and then my dad.

There would be arguments about who got me for what and what time. Dirty looks got shot across cold parking lots when the other party was late for the transfer of the merchandise (me).

I was always jealous of my friends who would talk about the fun they had during the holidays. The games they played and how everyone was at their house. I only knew drive, say hi, eat, then repeat.

As I got older, I still felt that I had to hold to those commitments. I had to make every part of my family happy with my presence.

Jason and I started dating and that only intensified our duty to run around like chickens with our heads cut off. We would have to miss a few places, only because there was so much overlap, but we worked it into a rotation. It was hectic, but doable.

Then kids came into play. Layne was 5 days old when he attended his first Thanksgiving. It was horrible. We had a 3 year old, 1 year old and a newborn. We were functioning on zero sleep. We didn't enjoy a moment of the gathering as we were trying to wrangle our children from tearing the house down. I don't even think I ate a meal.

That was the final straw.

I was done.

We don't go anywhere for the holidays now. We've adopted the motto, "If you want to see us, come to us."

It sounds selfish, I know. For the last two years I've used the kids as an excuse. We didn't want to take a little baby out in the cold or Dayton got too worked up in a new environment with lots of people. Both of the reasons were valid. But the realization I've had is:

I never got to just hang out and enjoy everything that the holidays had to offer or have set family traditions, and I don't want that for my kids. I want them to look back on the holidays with joy and happiness, not chaotic interstate travels.
So I'm sorry we aren't coming over for the holidays, and that we missed seeing you. Maybe we can get together at another time, but the holidays are for my kids and our little family. We are building memories and maintaining traditions. I hope you can understand the importance of this for us.

And to the families that run around like crazy people during the holidays, if it doesn't sit well in your stomach, stop. You can't make everyone happy all the time. You have to do what is best for you and your family, not everyone else. And if that means that you order take-out on Christmas Eve and kids go to bed at the regular bed time, that's fine!

I hope you all had a joyous Thanksgiving and are celebrating Christmas in a few weeks in the best way you know how to! Make those memories!

Photo by Tori Bruno Photography
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

No Worries, He Weaned Before Kindergarten

A funny thing happens when you are a breastfeeding mother. Once your child gets out of the newborn stage people that have no stake in raising your child feel the need to ask questions or give their opinion.

"How much longer are you planning on nursing?"
"He has teeth now. Clearly you need to be done breastfeeding!"
"If he can ask for it (or sign), then he's too old."

My response to all of these types of comments throughout Jayce and I's nursing relationship was that it wasn't anyone else's business. We were doing what was right for us and what worked. I was the one that dealt with the broken nights of sleep for over a year, unknowingly flashed people my breasts while trying to feed a ravenous baby and put up with the looks and judgement.

Luckily for me I had a husband who was extremely supportive and family that knew better than to question my mothering decisions.

Something happened when Jayce was about 14 months old. He went from nursing like a newborn every 2 hours to only nursing 3-4 times a day. Then it became less and less. He stopped nursing to go to bed and then stopped for nap. The next thing I knew it had been 48 hours since he had nursed.

Once we hit that two day mark I was sure he was done for good. Then he asked for "more milk please" or rather signed for it, and I gave in. I figured that if he was asking for it then he still needed me.

Our new routine became every couple days. My engorged breasts deflated like someone poked a balloon with a needle and let all the air run out, as my body adjusted to what he needed from me, which was very little sustenance and just more comfort.

A few weeks ago I realized we had gone an entire week without him asking to nurse. At that point I decided we were done completely. I had really nothing left to give and I was fine with the fact that our 17 month journey was over, he seemed fine with it too.

Now he gets to participate in some fun things I wouldn't let him do before, like overnight trips to grandma's house on the ranch, which he loves!

Our little cowboy!
We didn't have a timeline as to how long our breastfeeding journey would last. We didn't follow other people's rules and expectations. We did our own thing!

This was our last nursing session, at 5:30am. It's grainy as hell, but I had a feeling this would be our last moment in our journey. I look tired, and he looks annoyed with the camera!
I will never judge a nursing mom for how long she chooses to nurse her baby or toddler again. I was 'taboo' for going past 12 months, and received all sorts of judgement for that. But to anyone that was concerned, no worries, he weaned before kindergarten!

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sorry to Burst Your Bubble; It DOESN'T Get Easier!

There was that moment when the baby wasn't sleeping at the night or when the toddler was melting down on the floor of the grocery store and some well intentioned person said, "It'll get easier!"

That little quote has been my internal mantra for nearly the last 3 1/2 years while raising my 4 boys under the age of 7.

Sleepless night; it'll get easier.

Piles of laundry; it'll get easier.

Dinner all over the floor; it'll get easier.

Toddler meltdown; it'll get easier.

I'm sorry to burst every one's bubble...


It doesn't!

I'm not a "pro parent" by any means, but parenting doesn't get easier. In recent weeks I've realized that it just evolves. One hard things morphs into another hard thing!

Sleepless Nights
Newborns are honestly SO much work! And I was convinced once I got everyone sleeping through the night I'd be guaranteed blissful uninterrupted hours at night! NOPE! Once I got the baby sleeping at night we started to have the toddler waking up to pee; which actually is just him telling me that he pissed the bed.
*knock knock*
"What's wrong buddy?"
"Oh I just peed. I'll go sleep in the dry spot."
---clearly waking me wasn't necessary, but no worries. It'll only take me 49 minutes to go back to sleep---*eye roll*

The Baby Won't Self-Entertain
As much as I loved itty bitty baby snuggles, there were moments that I would've liked to lay him down without fussing; cooking dinner, peeing, or keeping my other kids from killing each other. Now I realize that the whole "self-entertain" idea is dumb and I would've never wished this upon myself. Self-entertaining is; playing in the toilet water that someone forgot to flush, flipping the light switch like we are at a rave, or taking off every stitch of clothing only to pee on the floor while playing in the stream. Clearly this entertains him, but not me in the slightest!

Meal Times
I looked forward to the days when we would be done with "baby food." It would be SO much easier because everyone would be eating the same thing, etc. etc.
Oh but now, in order to avoid a scene out of Saving Private Ryan, we have to be sure that everyone has the same number of things (I'm regretting teaching them to count), nothing is accidentally ripped/torn, food doesn't touch, sauces are available and there are enough extras that everyone can have some...even though they will be "full" immediately after it is placed on their plate.

Toddler Meltdowns
Yes, my kids still have meltdowns. I've realized though that they are changing. Now, when kids learn how to express their emotions, they like to "use their words." And holy hell can they use those effectively! "Mom! It makes me VERY angry you took my toy away. I was just trying to brush his hair with the (toy) hammer. Maybe you should go take a timeout for taking my toy! It's not nice to take toys!"
Maybe you should stop being an asshole to your brother, just a thought.

With every child and every diaper change I've always wished, hoped and prayed for everyone to learn to shit in the potty. I now take that all back! I think life would be easier if we were all still in diapers. I mean today I cleaned the bathrooms for the week. It still smelled like fucking glorious bleach when I heard, "Uhhh mom I peed all over the floor. I got to busy and it just came out in front of the toilet."
---17 minutes after cleaning it up---
"Mommy (different child), I didn't make it in the water. I painted the wall with pee though."
---an hour later, bleach smell is still present---
"Mom I pooped, please wipe my butt. (child is bent over) Mom, there's poop on the bottom of the toilet!"
For fucks sake children! This is why we can't have nice things or have people come over to our house. No matter how much I clean, it still smells like a porta potty!

This parenting gig is tough as hell, but you've got this! I'm going to clean the fecal matter off of a toilet again!

I'm sure there are a zillion different things that evolve but never actually get "easier." Leave me a comment and tell me what has changed for you and share this with a friend! Give someone else a smile at my misery!

Self-entertaining gone array....

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