Inadequate

Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition of inadequate as this: “lacking in quality or quantity required; insufficient for its purpose”. I’m certain that if I were in a room full of parents and said “Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt inadequate as a parent”, there wouldn’t be a single person not raising their hand. If there were anyone in the room not raising their hand it could be due only to the fact that someone superglued them to the chair or they’re lying. I remember from the moment that expensive digital test blared the unmistakable word “pregnant” on its little grey screen, I began to question my ability to be a parent. I technically wasn’t even one yet, however there I was unsure of myself and my capabilities. But why? Why are we so unsure of ourselves as parents?

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Is it because there are sooo many choices? Cloth or disposable diapers. Homemade or jarred food. Organic or nonorganic. Breast or bottle. Strollers or slings. Co-sleep or crib. Vaccine or no vaccine. There are even choices for our choices! Pampers, Loves, Huggies…there are entire walls dedicated to varying brands of disposable diapers.

Or is it because we are bombarded by advertisers who portray parents who don’t use their products as a little less than those who do? ‘Choosey moms choose Jiff’; and what about those who like the one with the flying boy on it? Or ‘by the second one, all parents are experts’ and those experts obviously prefer one specific brand of diaper.

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Could it be our innate competitive nature to rear the best children that the world has ever seen; causes us to constantly compare ourselves to other parents, leaving questions and doubts crowding our minds. Am I doing the right thing, should I have fed him that, should I have let her wear that, will they really turn out okay if I don’t let them sleep with me, or if they do sleep with my will they be scarred for life?

Perhaps it’s all three. Or none of the above, maybe something I haven’t listed. The reason doesn’t so much matter as the fact that we do. I’ve heard countless friends and acquaintances express their uncertainty and their concern about the choices that they have made or are making for their children. Questioning their judgment. Doubting their ability based on the going ons around them. I do it myself.

I see parents when I drop off my children who are spectacularly dressed and I’m lucky to show up with pants and a shirt that I didn’t sleep in or wear to work the night before. I find myself tugging my tshirt down over my yoga pants (note I never do yoga) and glancing at my kids; inadequate. I find posts from parents who are rocking incredible homemade therapy sessions and the only thing that could pass for therapy for us that day was him trying to dig out two lost Cheerios under the couch. (I mean that’s fine motor right?); inadequate.
I see moms bent down on one knee speaking soft reasoning words to their tyrant of a toddler and I am immediately reminded of the wall shuddering bellow of “Get.Your.Daggum.Shoes.On.Your.Feet.NOW!” that shot out of my mouth not even a half an hour earlier; inadequate.

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What it boils down to is this; the more I compare myself to those around me, the more inadequate I feel. I gotta stop, we’ve gotta stop. The true judge of our ability is our children. The choices that we make for our families are OUR choices. Make them and stand by them with confidence. Instead of looking around at the other parents doing all the other things that you THINK you should be doing, look at your children. It’s easy to see that what you are doing is enough, it is sufficient, it is adequate, when you use your children as the scale by which to measure.

I know that it’s difficult not to compare, or even judge other parents, but it’s important to remember that that’s what they are; other parents. They’re making the choices for their families. Those choices may not be right for your kids, and you shouldn’t feel inadequate because of that. It’s possible that the parent you’re envying isn’t as put together as you think they are! As parents we all have a similar goal in mind; the health, happiness and well being of our families, we can’t do that if we’re consumed with self doubt.

I’m not going to let the fact that my daughter has eaten dog treats, peed in a potted plant, fed her brother his own boogers or painted him blue with stamps, make me feel like less of a parent. My daughter is incredible; she has a vocabulary that won’t quit, her creativity is inspiring and her sense of humor admirable. My son rocks; he faces whatever comes at him with “a kiss my diapered butt” grin, spreads joy to whomever he meets and challenges this family to be more than just observers of life. Hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles throughout the day confirm to me that I’m doing alright.

My children shall be my scale, not the parents around me! I’m going to move forward as a mama who is confident in her ability, attempt not to allow myself to compare my choices to others and I’m gonna wear my yoga pants proudly. I hope you’ll do the same (yoga pants not a requirement).

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Use Your Words

imageBefore I began my career as a nurse, I worked as a preschool teacher (and I still wanted children!). I said things like “use your walking feet“, “teeth are for smiling and eating apples but not biting our friends” and my personal favorite “use your words“.  I find myself using similar sayings even now when speaking to my children and sometimes even with my patients.   However, I never thought twice about requesting a child to use their words, until I realized that my son might have difficulties forming and using his own words.

The idea that I may not hear the word “mama” uttered from his sweet little mouth until he was quite a bit older made my heart ache a bit. I could remember vividly when my daughter, still small enough to be in her pack-n-play, woke up in the middle of the night to nurse.  She requested in a small but almost desperate tone for “Mama”. My husband looked startled, and asked me if I had heard that.

I had heard it, and was almost in tears, because I had heard much more than those two little syllables. I had heard, “I love you, I need you, I know who you are and you have earned the right to be called my mama”. Okay, so most of that was probably the sleep deprivation that our daughter imposed on us with her insistence on not sleeping. EVER. But there is something so special about  BEING mama for your child for the first time.

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Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself with a different little one in the same pack-n-play in our room. One particular night I sat staring at his little swaddled form and wondering, when will I be “Mama” to him. What I found over the next few months is that “Mama” sounded different when said from Gabe. To him “Mama” was outstretched hands and a giant soggy grin. It was a speed crawl with head tucked under for maximum efficiency directly to my ankles. It was a wobbly walk along the furniture to be wherever I was, just so he could place his chubby hand softly on my knee and look up at me with such adoration in his eyes that it could make my stomach flip flop. Currently, it’s a blonde hair, blue eyed toddler, pulling at my tshirt hem, and saying “Ah-Mee” in his tiny toddler voice.

You see sometimes communication looks or sounds different that what we expect. For most, communication consists of the words that we can hear. The understandable things that are spoken from ones mouth to another’s ear. For some it could be their hands that communicate for them, allowing them to share their desires and appreciation. For others, it could be written word, or touch to speak apps, or taking you by the hand and showing you what they mean. The important thing to know is that communication can take on a variety of forms. It’s imperitive that we take the time to recognize that despite what you might or might not hear uttered from someone’s mouth, what they have to say is just as important to them as what you have to say is to you.

I challenge you to just take a moment the next time that you have the opportunity to meet someone who’s style of communication seems different than yours, to stop and HEAR what they’re trying to say.  It may take a little extra time for them to share it with you, but I’m almost certain that it will be worth it.

Mommy Lesson 212: Cranky Crickets

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If you wake up every few hours starving, your underpants are sopping wet, and your feet occasionally get stuck up inside your froggy covered feety jammies, then you would know what it means to “sleep like a baby”. While those things don’t sound awfully appealing I often find myself staring enviously at my responsibility and carefree snoozing little ones, wishing that I could sleep as they do.

However, with the many adult tasks to be accomplished sleep often falls by the wayside. I read somewhere once that a parent loses around 6 months of sleep in the first two years of their child’s life. Two kids equal the loss of one year, add in working night shift, and my somewhat implausible desire to be super mom, and it can be safely assumed that I am more often awake than asleep.

When the glorious time to visit snoozeville does roll around, I am often intolerant of interruptions that do not involve my children. Tonight was no different. After finally convincing myself that I had done all that I could possibly do in one day, I climbed in bed and turned off the tv. Without the background noise, the ambience of the room became even more noticeable. The chainsaw, that was my husband, was serenely echoed by epileptic beagle snores, and snooty shitzu snorts. Through it all, however, came a noise that would soon drive me to madness; a cricket.

 

imageJimminey was happily sitting directly under my window chirping incessantly. someone must have loaned him a loud speaker. The horrendous sound was becoming like nails on a chalk board. The years worth of sleep deprivation was catching up to me, and in this moment and all I could focus on was getting rid of the amplified insect! I lept from the bed, glaring at my husband, who was oblivious to my plight, grabbed a broom and stalked outside. I would like to add what a wonderful thing a privacy fence is. The men in white coats would have been called for sure had my neighbors been witness to the chaos that ensued in mu backyard.

Rockin my bed head hair, husband size shirt, and Mickey pajama pants, I stalked across the back yard weilding my weapon of choice. As I neared the bedroom window I noticed that a silence had filled the area. No Jimminey, he must be busy quaking in fear. I had heard that crickets will stop their irritating chirping in the presence of someone unknown, unsure of his hiding spot and wanting to ensure that I chased the now silent-but-waiting cricket away, I began to smack spastically and frantically at the grass all around the window and side of the house. Certain that my madness had frightened off every living thing within swatting distance, I triumphantly returned to the house.

I stood proudly at the entrance of my bedroom and listened. Through my husband, the jet plane, snores and the accompanying dogs, I could still hear it; that immortal cursed cricket. How could he have survived?! I ran to the window in an attempt to determine his whereabouts and plot my next attack. I listened carefully, surprise filled my mind when I realized that the crafty critter had taken up residence in the dog bed. Grabbing a weapon, I knelt down. With shoe poised to strike I yanked back the dogs blanket and swung. With mere centimeters left, I pulled out of my attack before I smashed Abi’s sound machine into smithereens.

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Jimminey was no more than a battery operated soother, meant to fill your room with serene forest sounds. Abi had been running around with her “computer” throughout the day and had obviously forgotten it. With the batteries removed glorious silence filled the room. I climbed back in bed to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of “freight train” and his friends.

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Tutorial: How To Wrestle An Alligator (Or Suction a Toddlers Nose)

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‘Tis the season. Days are shorter and nights are longer. The weather is colder and the trees have shivered off all their leaves. People are bustling here and there, gathering their goods for the upcoming holidays. Everywhere you look there signs of winter, it’s lovely and wonderful, until you hear it.

It’s a sound that as unique as the individual it belongs to, but as familiar as your childhood home. It’s a sound that any parent can recognize when issued over a mile a way. It’s a sound that can make a grown man shudder. It’s the sound of the first sniffle.

That wretched little sniffle is followed by more and more until finally the quantity of ooze that’s escaping your child’s nose can’t be ignore any longer. The reality of a winter cold is no longer deniable and the sniffle is no longer just a little noise, it’s a problem. A problem that may be accompanied with a cough, a fever, a grumpy child and will probably be followed by everyone else in the household developing a “sniffle” too.

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The problem with this little sniffle is that little babies and toddlers haven’t mastered the art of blowing their itty bitty snot filled noses into a tissue, and it falls onto your shoulder to clear their nasal passageways not only for comfort, but so they can breathe (that last bit is really important). There are a variety of tools that can be used to perform this task, however, I will only be discussing one today.

The bulb syringe

Anyone who masters the use of a bulb syringe can be likened to a master Jedi. This task could be compared to wrestling an alligator, if done incorrectly one could lose a finger (the probability is pretty low, but I’m sure there is still a risk). Your technique and timing must be perfect and the element of surprise is incredibly beneficial. The less your child knows, the better….

Now my husband and I have tried a variety of approaches; the two man, the under the leg, the football hold and the pretzel. None had proven effective, until we tried the COCOON. The ease with which the copious amounts of goo was able to be removed from my sons nose left me awe struck. It is so easy, that I had to share it.

How to successfully use a bulb syringe to clear noses using the cocoon method:

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Gather supplies: you will need bulb syringe, saline spray or drops, tissue or wipes and a blanket

Lay blanket flat and place child in the middle of it. Wrap one side of the blanket across child and tuck under (make sure the arm is tucked in). Wrap the other side across and secure it under the now swaddled child. Both of the arms should be tucked inside (now those grabby little hands can’t “help”). Drop a couple drops of saline in each nostril, use bulb syringe on each side to pull out the yuck, and voila! Clean nose, happy baby, hand with all it’s fingers.

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Mommy Lesson 118: Survival of the Mommiest

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Being the mom of a precocious toddler and a 3 month old we have some good days, and not so good days. The good days are filled with belly laughs, meals that are not refused by picky eaters, a lack of poopy diapers and bedtimes that occur on time. Mommy goes to bed smelling like roses and there are little unicorns and dancing rainbows in her dreams.

Then there are the not so good days. These days usually consist of at least one pooptastrophy, missed nap times, the disappearance of favorite shows from the DVR, toys that are MIA, a toddler who assumes that any food will most likely kill her (yes even peanut butter on bread). There is a high likelihood of tears and snot, and not just from the children. On those days, our focus is on one thing; survival. Which means, if I can just make it to bedtime with every member in the house still alive, I’m pretty happy.

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After church, lunch, and a definitely not long enough 20 minute nap Sister was slightly irritable and incredibly hyper. By 6pm Brother sat horrified, staring from his swing as his screaming sister ran around the house wearing a tutu and crown and most of her dinner on her face. He watched with confusion as she bounced her way down the couch towards him, with the single goal of poking him in the face with her giant stick (magic wand).

“Alla-ca-da-la” she chanted with a swish of the stick (magic wand), if landed with a thwack millimeters from the babies fingers. Fearing for his life, I’m sure, or at least the integrity of his appendages, Brother began to cry. I scooped him up and jiggled him around some, partly fearing the upchuck that would most likely occur from the rapidity of movement, and glanced at the clock. 6:02, yay! We made it another two minutes.

I knew Spouse, would not be off work in time to assist with bedtime, so I began the process of alligator wrestling (bathing) early. After twenty incident free minutes both children emerged smelling delightfully of baby shampoo. I gathered up some of Sisters favorite toys and settled down on my bed to nurse Brother before putting him to bed.

I settled Sister on the floor next to the bed with her favorite toys. The evidence of her fatigue appearing in the form if a yawn and the rub of an eye. “We’re going to make it” I thought happily to myself. I gazed down at my youngest, whose eyes were beginning to droop from the effects of a milk induced coma. Lost briefly in the thoughts swirling through my mother logged brain, I missed the beginnings of mischievous giggles.

The flush of the toilet snapped my attention back into the present, I glanced around the room. Sister was no longer in her spot, and was now standing by the toilet shouting encouragingly into the bowl. “Swim Minnie!” She flushed a second time and became annoyed with the lack of effort from her plastic Minnie Mouse figure. “This isn’t working”, she grumbles.

I jumped up and quickly retrieved a drowning Minnie Mouse with one hand while balancing the baby the other. While I washed our hands I explained the dos and do nots of the potty: potty in toys out.

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Seeming to understand she again settled on the floor to play with her “guys” and the dog to play. I had just laid the baby down in his bed and was returning to the bedroom when an unfamiliar sound greeted my ears. It was similar to the sound a cat makes when hurling up a hair ball, but it had a dryer quality to it. It was fairly rhythmic and I had almost placed the noise when I noticed sister was again no longer in the spot I’d left her.

I heard her little voice coming from the bathroom, it was calm and unconcerned, “This is a problem, I’ll go get mommy”.

Mommy was already in action, sprinting like a graceful gazelle (picture cat wearing socks), and bouncing over the bed with spy like firm (I really actually just tripped over the toys and fell onto the bed, but the momentum was enough to propel me over the side, flapping my arms like a baby bird flying for the first time). I knelt on the bathroom floor, my nursing skills expertly put to work as I performed a head to paw assessment on the gagging dog. I effectively performed the heimlich maneuver on an epileptic beagle who apparently cannot swallow an entire roll of toilet paper and turned my gaze to Sister.

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She blinked at me and shrugged her shoulders. Hey, good job mommy!” she said with a pat on the back. I glanced at the clock again, “Hey! It’s bedtime!” I was almost giddy, I might have been if I hadn’t been eyeballing the dog and wondering if the lack of oxygen did her any harm. She wandered over to the toilet paper roll, sniffed it and gave it a Lick; nope just as dumb as ever, I thought to myself relieved.

After a handful of books and seven rounds of twinkle twinkle Sister was asleep. I peeked in at brother to confirm that he was participating in bedtime as well and then dropped onto the couch. I glanced around, and briefly reviewed the days events. There were a couple close calls and Kia won’t go near the bathroom now, but everyone survived… I heard Sister’s sleepy little voice call out,
“Hey, Mommy? Donald didn’t come back out of the big hole in the bottom of the toilet”. Well most of us did anyway.

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Mommy Lesson 357: Square Hole, Round Dog

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According to the Humane Society website there are just over 78 million dogs as pets in the United States. 38 percent of American households own at least one dog. The two dogs that we have put us into the 28 percent that own two dogs. Kia, is an epileptic beagle, and Mya is snobby and chronically miserable, but they are just as important to us as any other member of the family.

I personally feel that pets are a terrific tool for teaching responsibility, gentleness, and can be a great motivating force. Sister helps to fill the dog bowls and feed the “puppies”. She enjoys walking Mya and asks frequently to take them. All in all, I would say, she “loves” her dogs. However, love can be a dangerous thing. On more than one occasion I have had to rescue one or both of the dogs from the shenanigans of Sister and today proved to no different.

Upon returning to the house from a leisurely walk with the dogs and two kids, I set about unloading the dishwasher. Sister grabbed a couple of plastic spoons and went off to “cook” dinner on her play kitchen in her room. I turned the dishwasher on and set about tidying up the living room. I took some toys to Sister’s room, grabbed a “bite” of dinner and almost broke my neck tripping over the dog passed out in the hallway. I rubbed my shin and glared at her, the thought that she had strategically placed herself in my path as payback for letting Sister drag her around by her leash, flitted through my brain.

I threw in a load of clothes and sat down in front of Brother’s bouncy seat for a little play time. In the midst of a full blown belly laugh I could hear a faint, but repetitive banging. I headed to the laundry room to check that the washer wasn’t out of balance and was surprised to find that wasn’t the source of the noise. I rounded corner to Sister’s room and noticed the dog had vacated the premises and the door was shut. The banging got louder as I got closer. I reached for the door handle and heard My daughter grunt and say, “If you’d just stop resisting….” (This is something I have said on numerous occasions to her and her brother in the midst of a diaper struggle or clothes tussle.)

I swung open the door and both my daughter and the dog froze in surprise. Chef Sister was attempting to cram 30 pounds of wiggling, flailing, beagle into a 6 centimeter square that made up her “oven”. She looked up at me with innocent eyes and grinned.

“Um, Peanut, why are you shoving Kia into the oven” Kia wagged her tail at the voice of her savior. Sister, still gripping the dogs hindquarters, sighed and responded in an exasperated tone, “I want hot dogs”.

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Upon those words Kia began to struggle again, possibly fearing for her life or more than likely the teeny tiny box encasing her head was running out of oxygen. I am not sure if the dog’s head became swollen while entrapped, if Sister used much more force than humanly possibly, or if the oven doubled as a Chinese dog trap, but all the epileptic beagle was able to do was drag the kitchen away from the wall.

The sudden and abrupt jerking of the kitchen propelled all of the items off and onto the floor causing an incredible crash, an angry shout of “my dinner” from The Chef and an increase in spastic thrashing from “dinner”. Fearing for all involved, I knelt over the dog trapping her between my knees, leaned into the kitchen, grasped the collar and jerked with all my might. The dog and I tumbled backwards pulling the plastic cookery down on top of us.

Now free, the “entree” bolted out of the room to seek refuge under the bed. I helped Abi clean up the room and explained to her that hot dogs were not really made from dogs, and that we don’t put our pets, friends and, just for good measure, brothers in the oven. She nodded in understanding and as we left her room said she was hungry. I saw Kia emerging from her hiding spot as I asked her what she wanted, “hot dogs” she replied. One glance towards Kia’s frantically retreating backside let me know that she was not in the mood for hotdogs.

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