Becoming Mother

A book and a blog for first-time mothers

Free Kindle Book, “Becoming Mother,” Sunday 9/25 and Monday 9/26 only!

Looking for a great gift for a first-time mother?

Don’t want to buy another handbook or guidebook about babies?

This is the book for you. And today and tomorrow, it’s totally free.

Book-Cover-Becoming-Mother-Kindle

To celebrate its first year of publication, I’m giving away free Kindle copies of Becoming Mother on Sunday, September 25th and Monday, September 26th. All you need to do is follow this link, put the book in your Amazon cart, and check out.

Link to Free Kindle book:

https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Mother-Identity-Sharon-Tjaden-Glass-ebook/dp/B011IVDZL0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1474836658&sr=8-1

And, no, you don’t need a Kindle to read it! You can read this book on Amazon.com in any Internet browser.

Please feel free to share with any friends and family who would enjoy this book.

Week 22: Practicing Gratitude

When I was going through our miscarriage last Christmas, I remember thinking things like, “I hope all those women who are pregnant right now realize how much they have to be thankful for.”

Or

“I hope they know how easily things could have gone wrong for them.”

These thoughts came from a place of deep sadness and emptiness. I was mired in what had just happened. Unable to recognize anything good about my present. Unable to see the future or even a way forward.

But, let’s be honest, they also came from a place of envy. As Brene Brown writes in her wise book, Daring Greatly, envy is rooted in a fear of scarcity. It drove me to think,

Maybe I’ll never get pregnant again.

Maybe I’m destined now for a life of miscarriages.

Or just the ugly sentiment that,

I can’t stand the thought that happiness exists anywhere right now.

Because I have none of it.

I envied women whose pregnancies seemed to march on without any complications. Their lives seemed so full of good news and overflowing blessings.

I envied them even though I had once been one of them.

***

I had forgotten that I had been one of those women because I lost sight of all the things that I had in my life for which I should have been grateful.

But with time and space and a partner who helped me gain perspective, I was able to find my gratitude again.

My healthy daughter.

My marriage.

A job with a salary and benefits.

Enough money for our bills and even a bit beyond that.

My mother, still living 10 years after her last cancer diagnosis.

But now that this pregnancy is here, full of its own discomforts and changes in my daily life, I’ve felt that gratitude sinking into the background again.

It’s easy to forget the incredible truth of my present–that I am carrying another human being. That this life grows every day without my guidance or intervention.

Instead, I get frustrated with my weight gain, although it is completely within the normal range for pregnancy.

I get tired of waking up with sore hips and a popping spine, now that I’m sleeping on my side at night.

I get tired of answering the same questions about my pregnancy. Multiple times a day. (Because now that I have a bump, clearly, that must be the only thing that I want to talk about–fodder for another blog post, I’m sure.)

Stupid stuff. All so stupid.

***

Last Friday, I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader, following the pregnancy tag, which is one of my favorite ways of reaching out to potential new readers.

I came across a blog post that ripped my heart out.

It was written by a woman who has been struggling with infertility for quite some time. With much help, she conceived and gave birth to a healthy girl, who is now a toddler. She and her husband wanted to try again for another, using IVF again. She had been posting for several weeks about being excited that blood tests had revealed that her second child would be a girl. She wrote about North Dakota law’s strange decision that for legal matters, embryos were also fetuses, which made it difficult for her to donate her embryos to others.

She had been using a fetal doppler at home to check her baby’s heartbeat and give herself reassurance that everything was going well.

Then, at her 20-week ultrasound, came the diagnosis.

Her daughter had the worst neural tube defect. A terminal diagnosis.

Anencephaly.

Her baby had no brain.

No head above her chin.

No eyes. No nose.

Yes, this mother could hear a strong heartbeat because her daughter had a brain stem. Her daughter even had a strong, developing body.

But her daughter was “incompatible with life.”

anencephaly

Baby with anencephaly who has eyes and nose: http://www.cdc.gov

Three paths now lay before this mother:

1) travel to another state to stop her baby’s heartbeat and have a D&E (because North Dakota has decided that she cannot end her pregnancy in North Dakota. Thanks, state government.)

2) wait for her baby to die in utero, a 7% chance, or

3) give birth to her baby and watch her baby die within days of being born, a 100% chance.

She has decided to travel to another state to end the pregnancy, leaving her toddler at home with family for several days. She freely acknowledged that some parents would find healing and closure in choosing to go ahead with the birth.

But she also bravely admitted that giving birth was not the best decision for her and her family.

***

As I consider what this mother faces in the next few weeks, my gratitude comes forward.

Not a gratitude rooted in pity. As if I’m thinking, There, but for the grace of God, go I. But a gratitude that her story pushes me to remember just how easily things can go terribly wrong in a pregnancy.

One week, you’re carrying life. The next week, you’re carrying death.

One week, you’re comforted by your baby’s beating heart. The next week, you find out your baby is terminally deformed.

One week, your baby is alive, kicking in your womb. The next week, the placenta mysteriously detaches and your baby suffocates inside you.

One hour, you are in labor, ready to deliver your child. The next hour, your child is lifeless, asphyxiated by a compressed umbilical cord.

These are the risks and the dangers and the horrors that mothers experience around the world.

They are the potential costs of being the bearers of life.

This stuff happens.

It happens.

It can be easy to forget all of this. It’s easy to assume that all will go as planned. That the OB has it under control. That your body is wise and will know what to do. That as long as you follow all of the recommended guidelines, your child will be born alive and healthy.

But let’s be honest: That doesn’t always happen.

And this truth is important to know and acknowledge. I argue that it is even necessary for us to acknowledge. Because it helps those who face devastating news to feel less abnormal and persecuted. It helps those who are suffering see that they do not suffer alone. Many, many other parents have walked that lonely, grieving road before them.

A healthy, whole, live baby, resting in your arms is not a given. It is a kind of miracle.

So I’m grateful that until this moment, I have been spared devastating news. But that also doesn’t mean devastating news won’t come.

And this is where the hard work of gratitude comes into play.

I could choose to be paralyzed by all that could go wrong in this pregnancy. I could choose to let horrible after horrible scenario play out in my daydreams.

But I choose to be grateful in this moment. 

That right now, as I sit here typing, this baby is moving and kicking.

That I can still run 2 miles in the morning and feel better for it.

That I have access to enough nutrition, safety, and medical care to sustain this pregnancy.

That today, I am still pregnant, still sustaining this life.

Today, this moment, is what this child and I have together. And I’m grateful for it.

gratitude

 

Week 21: Streeetch

I forgot this feeling.

The feeling of a weight underneath my skin, pulling at my sides and stretching me forward.

It makes me do that “pregnant stance.” The one you see women doing, hand on the hip, rubbing the sides of their bellies.

Yeah, that.

pregnant-belly

It makes me sore.

I totally forgot about the soreness of being stretched like this. Last time, I swear I didn’t start feeling like this until I was about 7 1/2 months pregnant. But, like I’ve said in previous posts, everything is happening earlier this time.

Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that my daughter is also being stretched right now.

***

This Sunday, she began Sunday School.

Revise that: She tried to begin Sunday School.

Until now, her concept of church has been the thin path between the front doors and the wonder that is the nursery, full of wall-to-wall toys. Not one, but two dollhouses. A Lego table. Blocks, blocks, blocks. Books and puzzles. It’s a veritable playground of fun. We started taking her regularly to the church nursery when she was about 14 months old. After the first few weeks of newness, she began to love it. The church nursery entered the category of “familiar things” in her life, just like our home and daycare.

But this past Sunday, I think I overwhelmed her. I took her into the church sanctuary and introduced her to a new concept of church.

Singing. Listening.

Streeetch.

More singing. More listening.

Streeetch.

Prayers.

Streeetch.

The pastor called all the kids to the front of the church and I led her squirming, protesting body to the front of the church.

Streeetch.

She sat in my lap, pressed against my ribs. We listened to the pastor’s children’s message.

Then it was time for Sunday School.

Streeetch.

SNAP!

Let’s just say, we tried.

I managed to wrangle her squirming, protesting body down the stairs to where the other kids were gathered.

But she was just. Not. Going. In.

No amount of consoling or explaining helped.

It was just too much for one day.

We went back to service, took communion, and then I took her back to “home base.”

The church nursery.

She hugged the nursery workers and settled in with her favorite toys. We talked about how hard change and adjustment can be on kids.

But who am I kidding? It’s hard on me, too.

It hurts to see your kid stretched way beyond what they can handle. It hurts to see them curl into themselves to protect themselves from the uncertainty of the unfamiliar.

But that is part of our responsibility as parents. To reassure our kids that change is part of life. That the unfamiliar is scary because it’s new–but that doesn’t mean that the unfamiliar is bad.

“Sometimes, new things are scary,” I told her. “But when you do them again, they’re not new anymore. And you might even like them.”

She hugged me.

Streeetch.

***

Last Thursday morning, my husband and I watched the image of our next child take shape on the screen as the sonographer moved the wand across my belly.

20-week-ultrasound

It’s funny.

I don’t really remember much about my first pregnancy prior to 20 weeks. It was all a blur of nausea, indigestion, and fatigue. Most of what I remember happened from 20 weeks to 40 weeks.

Childbirth education classes. Hospital tour. Baby showers. Key conversations with my doctor. And all the weight gain and discomfort. It was a continual ramping up of events, week by week.

So I know that we have a long way to go.

We still have no idea how the second half of this pregnancy will go. And then there’s labor. Birth. And the hell that is recovery and the postpartum period.

But in the face of all this uncertainty, it helped to hear the sonographer’s words, “Everything looks great.”

So I, too, will work on adjusting. This pregnancy and birth will be entirely different, no matter how similar they may feel now.

This is a new life.

A new path.

Streeetch.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

how-to-break-up-with-someone-0-1024x512

Photo credit: http://www.ottmag.com

Especially when you’re breaking up with a long-standing, beautiful relationship with…

A two-hour nap.

Oh… The peace. The quiet.

The freedom.

Two hours is a whole movie.

It’s two episodes of Game of Thrones.

And with just one child at home, it’s occasionally a nice time to… Yeah. You know.

One some glorious days, the two-hour nap would turn into a three-hour nap.

So luxurious.

But as I mentioned in a previous post, our three-year-old daughter is dropping her midday nap. Her body is shifting to require only ten hours of sleep per day instead of her usual twelve hours.

Unfortunately, daycare isn’t on board. According to State of Ohio regulations, she still needs to spend 1 hour and 45 minutes on a cot during an 8-hour stay at daycare. Now, she doesn’t have to sleep. She could stay awake and look at books.

But she doesn’t. She falls asleep every time.

Her daycare teacher exclaims, “She’s a great sleeper!”

Well, for you, she is.

For us, that lovely midday nap now means that she’s still rockin’ at 9:45 p.m. 10:00. 10:20. I, on the other, am officially done with the day at 9:15. I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally depleted by this time and it’s even harder now because I’m pregnant.

Which is why I’m more than thrilled that my husband is willing to keep vigil after I’ve gone to bed. Just to make sure that she doesn’t escape her room while she is trying to go to sleep.

***

As I saw Labor Day Weekend approaching, my first thought wasn’t, Ahhh… A relaxing weekend.

My first thought was, Oh my God, that’s three full days without daycare or naps. What are we going to do to get out of the house so I don’t go nuts?

I did research. I amassed a list of things we could do. The county fair. The Renaissance Festival. The Cincinnati Museum Center. Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. Yes. We have options. I can get through this, I thought.

I ran the plans by my husband. His response was:

“I need to get work done outside.”

“What work?” I asked.

“That retaining wall needs to be redone. It’s not level, so it’s causing the A/C unit to shake. That needs to get done this weekend.”

My first thought was, Can’t you do that another weekend? Any other weekend? Please-for-the-love-of-God?

We are not so advanced in potty training and managing temper tantrums that I’m willing to go it alone to any of these places. I need a partner.

I imagine the worst. A poop accident that requires four hands to clean up.

Or an all-out tempter tantrum that requires me to carry her like a bundle of firewood back to the car. And I cannot manage that now that she’s 40 pounds and I’m 5 months pregnant.

But, the retaining wall.

We settle on doing something together on Labor Day, giving him two solid weekend days to re-set the retaining wall.

***

By 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, I walked out of the house, straight to the backyard and announced:

“I need to get away from her. I’m going to the store for an hour.”

I cried all the way to the grocery store, chiding myself the whole time about making such a big deal out of nothing.

So what happened?

She’s three. That’s what happened.

Sometimes, she’s sweet as pie. Other times, she’s sass-a-frass. And when you’re the only person bearing the brunt, it just. Wears. You. Down.

She’s not that bad. She’s a normal three-year-old. Yeah, she acts defiant. Frequently. But that’s normal. 

There’s nothing to cry about. Why are you crying? If you can’t handle this, you really shouldn’t be having another kid. 

What are you doing with your life? 

What is wrong with you?

***

I did a slow grocery shop. I took my time. I reminded myself that, hey, I’m 5 months pregnant and my emotions are hard to manage when I’m tired and I have no break.

I forgave myself.

Then, I came home, dropped a medium Wendy’s French fry in my husband’s lap as a thank you for helping out, sat down on the freshly re-set retaining wall, and had a good cry.

He put his arm around me and let me talk.

Then, he sent me inside and said, “Take some time for yourself and come back when you feel better.”

So I did.

I took another hour to take a long bath and shave my legs (finally). When I came downstairs, I was ready to help with dinner.

We ate together and laughed a little.

At 7:00, I was ready to take over again. I sent him back outside to finish the wall. I gave our daughter a bath, read to her, tucked her in, cleaned the dishes, finished the laundry, and vacuumed.

And fell asleep around 9:30.

I heard my husband walk into the bedroom later on. I checked the clock.

10:20.

But the wall was finished.

***

Parents of older kids sometimes tell us that, “Things get easier.”

But then they’re quick to add, “Well, some things get easier. Other things get harder.”

They are right.

In exchange for letting go of naps and diapers, we’re entering a new world of possibilities of ways that we can spend our time with our kids. Beyond the kitchen, the dining room, and the playroom.

We go out. We show her new things. She is delighted and her delight is palpable. We can actually enjoy experiences together.

But right now, I feel caught in the middle. She has moved beyond naps, but she hasn’t risen to the level of self-sufficiency that makes me feel comfortable enough to wrangle her by myself. Maybe it’s my personality. Maybe it’s the pregnancy. Maybe both.

Yes, I know. It’s all a phase. One big, giant phase.

But this next phase… It’s turning out to be a lot harder to adjust to than I thought.

Global Billing: Wait, You Want Me to Pay Before the Baby is Born?

Let’s imagine that I need knee surgery.

Let’s say the total estimated expenses for my knee surgery are $20,000.

I have “fairly good” health insurance (at least these days…) so I will pay my $1000 deductible and then 20% of the total costs as co-insurance, which is $4000. And of course, we’ll be paying with our credit card which has a 10% APR (because who has $5200 in their savings account anymore?)

When will I pay for these costs? After I have the knee surgery, right?

Ah, but then the surgeon says, “Yeah, we’re going to need you to pay for the procedure in full, at least a month before your scheduled surgery.”

Wait, what?

Seriously?

And this is becoming a standard practice for obstetricians now. Take a look at these discussion forums, in which mothers talk about the different variations of this wonderful billing protocol called “global billing.”

In some cases, you may have the added bonus of paying two deductibles if your baby was conceived in one calendar year, but born in the next. (Which, by the way, is anyone who conceives a baby from April-December.)

(And in case you’re wondering, it’s also terribly expensive to not have a baby. When I miscarried last year, our out-of-pocket expenses were $1500 for a D&C.)

Global billing can be useful. It simplifies all the billing involved in prenatal care by bundling all the prenatal visits and the obstetrician’s fees for delivery into one big package.

When I had my first child, that obstetrician also practiced global billing, but she didn’t send me a bill until all the services were performed. Then, we got a big, fat $3000 bill about a month after our daughter was born.

That was exciting.

money

***

With this pregnancy, our estimated out-of-pocket expenses begin at about $1400, just for prenatal visits and delivery.

And then there’s that lovely line in the letter explaining that they would like to start immediately collecting payment for all of these services… at my next appointment.

At 23 weeks.

Oh, and…

“These fees are to be paid in full by the 35th week of your pregnancy.”

Their administrative assistant delicately told me that these expenses would not include the hospital costs or ultrasounds.

So let’s add those expenses here:

  • One ultrasound at 20 weeks. (about $300)
  • Any non-stress tests.
  • My hospital bed for 2 days: $1720 (20% of $8600)
  • My baby’s bed in the nursery for 2 days: $1120 (20% of $5600)

Even if I don’t use it. That’s right. Even if I room-in the whole time, I will be paying for the availability of the nursery bed. Ha!

  • Anesthesiology fees, if I have that.
  • That newborn hearing test machine that will roll into my room and seem like a good idea. ($400. Not covered by insurance).

I mean, really. What other medical procedures do physicians require to be paid for in full before you have them done?

And by the way, I really hate referring to birth as a medical procedure. I did all the work until the baby came out. I humbly acknowledge how many people were required to pick up the aftermath of the birth and take care of me during recovery, but I was the one doing the “medical procedure” for the first 34 hours.

Maybe I should be paid. Ha!

When I told my husband about all of this, his response was, “They aren’t getting a dime until after January 1st!”

You know, when next year’s FSA accounts go into effect.

You know, after the baby is born.

The good news is the hospital’s billing department is agreeing to let us start paying after January 1st. Nice of them, huh?

But really, isn’t it a bit strange that we have to request this?

Week 20: The Answer is No.

No, we’re not finding out.

Why?

I love surprises.

That is all.

Terrifying Moments in Parenting: In Random Order

Labor

When you hit the beginning of the transition stage of labor and think, Oh. So this is what it’s like to be torn in half.

Three Years Old

When you walk into the garage and see your child in the driver’s seat of your car. And you have a manual drive car.

When your child slips out of the house at bedtime while you’re watching TV in another room. And wanders around outside of the house, looking for the other parent.

When your friend looks into your child’s playroom and asks, “Should she be allowed to have that?”

One Year Old

When your toddling child grabs the edge of the tablecloth to pull herself up, and all the dinner dishes nearly land on top of her.

When your child wakes up in the middle of the night, shrieking hysterically, vomiting, and struggling to breathe. Later at the hospital, they tell you, it’s okay, it’s just croup and you think, Are you f–ing kidding me? Just croup? I was praying to gods in universes beyond human comprehension!

Two Years Old

When your child stretches overhead, reaching for whatever is on the countertop. And it’s a knife.

When your child drops your hand and darts away from you in the parking lot of a grocery store on a busy Sunday afternoon.

When you see your child walking down the stairs, holding a long blanket that she is about to trip over and fall all, the, way, down.

When your child succeeds in falling all, the, way, down, the stairs.

6 Months Old

When your child makes a choking sound in those first weeks of trying solids and you wonder if you could really perform the CPR technique you learned when you were 34 weeks pregnant.

When you run to the other room to get something and when you return, you see that your buckled-in baby on the changing table has actually flipped to her stomach.

Newborn

When your child nearly falls out of your hands while you’re giving her slippery football-of-a-body a bath.

When you realize it has been four hours since your child last ate. And you haven’t heard a sound.

When you get out of your car at Target and realize, holy shit, the car seat didn’t latch into the base.

When you’ve tried everything, literally everything, and nothing makes her stop crying. And you think, Oh my God. I really cannot do this. I’m not cut out to be a parent and now I have a baby. What am I going to do now?

When you realize that they were all right: You really do love this child more than you love yourself.

And then your imagination glimpses upon the possibility of your child dying before you.

And the utter emptiness that she would leave behind.

And you wonder: How could someone who just moved into your life leave behind a hole so large?

It defies everything that you’ve learned about love.

It makes you wonder, what else is possible?

Mother's_Love

Week 19: The End of Child # 1’s Naptime

stages of pregnancy

Now entering the “I got this/ Cheeseburgers” phase of pregnancy.

I’m great in the second trimester. I have decent energy. My emotions are (mostly) under control. And I’m not so hugely pregnant that I hate even the idea of moving.

I’m still exercising about five days a week, a combination of cardio/kickboxing, weights, and yoga. My target heart rate for cardio workouts is about 135-145 and that seems to be working well. The weights and yoga help keep my legs, hips, and back from killing me.

While I feel like I’ve got a handle on this pregnancy so far, I’m starting to realize that I’m entering a completely new phase of parenting with my three-year-old.

The phase that is completely void of naps.

The naps are… gone.

Or they need to go. At least if we want her to go to bed at 7:30 or 8:00 like she used to.

In the last week, we’ve put her to bed at 7:30 just as we’ve done for the past six months or so. Usually, she’s alseep by 8:00 or 8:15.

But lately, she’ll sit in her room, reading books, until 9:3o or 10:00. Sometimes 10:30.

Then, she’s  up at 6:30 again.

It hits me.

We’ve been so spoiled with 11-12 hours of her sleeping at night and 1-2 hours of her napping. People often didn’t believe us that this was her typical sleep routine. They asked us if we drugged her or ran her ragged to make her sleep that long.

But that’s just how she was.

Now, that phase is ending.

Now, we’re becoming the kind of parents that are strategizing ways of getting out of the house and using up her energy. We go to birthday parties. All of them. We go to the library. We take her grocery shopping and deal with the headache of letting her learn to navigate the tiny kid’s cart around the unsuspecting legs of strangers.

We’ve even dropped money on special outings, like a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo and tickets to ride Thomas the Tank Engine at Lebanon-Mason Railroad Station. In a torrential downpour, I balanced my purse, a diaper bag, and my three-year-old under an umbrella, while everything below my thighs got royally soaked. My husband had dropped us off with our only umbrella and went to park the car, so he fared much worse. He boarded the train, completely drenched.

But when your child smiles like this…

Thomas_and_Felicity

Can you really be upset?

So we’ll do what we’ve always done: adjust. We’ll move into this next phase of parenting even as we prepare to re-enter phases that we’ve passed through years ago.

The will-we-ever-leave-this-house-again phase.

The oh-my-God-sleeping-four-hours-feels-amazing phase.

The maybe-she’ll-sleep-longer-if-we-give-her-one-more-bottle-before-bedtime phase.

The crap-she’s-figured-out-how-to-open-the-cabinets phase.

The holy-crap-my-child-wandered-into-the-next-room-without-me-noticing phase.

We’ll do it all again.

Maybe a little more relaxed this time.

Hopefully, a little wiser.

But always with the knowledge that there is always rest after the hard times.

Even if it is small.

Week 18: Already?

I’ve found myself thinking this a lot lately.

I’m already 18 weeks pregnant?

I already can’t sleep on my back anymore?

It’s already time to find a doula?

I’ve already outgrown my bras?

I already have this bump? 

I’m already 150 pounds? 155 pounds? 159 pounds? 

The time from Weeks 5 to Weeks 11 was agonizingly slow, prolonged by my worries of miscarriage and weeks of debilitating waves of nausea. I could not get through the weeks fast enough.

Come on Week 7… Hurry up Week 8.

But the weeks are flying by now.

The baby is moving.

I felt its first tiny kick in Week 15 as my husband and I watched part of the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games. I felt a lot of “stuff” before then, but that moment was the first clearly movement that couldn’t be mistaken as anything besides a person kicking me.

Life is moving, too.

My daughter is now capable of having conversations with me. In the last week, she prefaces every sentence–a question, a statement, a command, whatever–with “How about…”

  • “How about I have a marshmallow?”
  • “How about where’s the sun?”
  • “How about you hold me in the rocking chair?”
  • “How about we do a puzzle, Mommy?”
  • “How about I already take my diaper off.”
  • “How about I like preschool.”
  • “How about I don’t need to go potty!”

And the world is moving.

I woke up on Monday and noticed that our downstairs windows were not covered in condensation. It’s a welcome sign that the humid days of August are coming to an end and the early days of autumn are on the horizon.

Next to our house, a patch of land owned by the local parks department has drastically transformed in the last four months, right along with this pregnancy. After we talked with the parks Operations Manager last year, we agreed to let the land turn into a prairie rather than having the parks department mow it throughout the summer.

So the grass grew tall and brown.

Then, it died.

The crab grass took root and grew.

Now, patches of wildflowers spring forth.

IMG_3718

IMG_3716IMG_3715

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Amidst the chaos of weeds and grass.

Against the cacophony buzzing, whirring insects.

Without intervention.

Beautiful and whole.

The wildflowers grew.

 

To Be Three

The three-year-old birthday is the one that kids really start to understand what’s going on.

“It’s my birthday party!” my daughter reminded me all day long. “I’m having a birthday party today!”

She began her day at 5:00 a.m., two hours earlier than usual. But she was wide awake and ready to go. “I’m ready, Mommy! Let’s go downstairs.”

“Kermit, it’s too early to get up,” I moaned.

When she wouldn’t relent, I tossed her a package of Keebler crackers and peanut butter that I have stashed on my night stand for when wake up hungry at 2:00 a.m. (because another human being is eating my reserves from the inside.)

She made a picnic in her room and ate her crackers contentedly while talking to her stuffed animals. And the Keebler elf. He needed to be updated on what was going on, apparently.

IMG_3676

Awake at 5:00 a.m. + no nap = Asleep at 4:00 p.m. when her party started

***

What I really enjoyed about this birthday was her newly found ability to engage in the actual party. At two years old, the whole day was kind of like, “What are all of these people doing here and why are they staring at me?”

At two years old, opening gifts was traumatic because we tried to get her to put aside the first gift that she opened and open a second gift.

Lesson learned.

This time, we opened a few gifts in the morning and saved the rest for the next day.

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Wooden Cash Register by Hape Toys. Super cute!

For her third birthday party, we asked people to not bring gifts, which translates into people bringing small, inexpensive gifts. And I’m totally for that. I love the $5-$10 gifts that she got. A book. A shirt. A little bead-making set. Yes! That’s plenty. She doesn’t need more toys. She needs more experiences.

We tried to show The Peanuts Movie to ten kids, ranging from ages two to seven. Ha. Ha. Within ten minutes, running after each other while holding balloons was far more fun.

It also didn’t help that they were distracted by the sight of my husband creating a huge slip and slide in the backyard. With the help of our neighbor, he bought a 20 X 100 piece of thick plastic, a bunch of Palmolive, and hooked up a sprinkle. When the kids saw it, you would have thought that they had seen a giant Mickey Mouse in the backyard, personally inviting them to a world of fun.

Of course, we still needed to eat dinner.

When we tried to lure them back inside to eat dinner, there were tantrums everywhere, no matter how many time we told them we were coming back outside.

But eat, they did. And quickly.

And then the fun began.

 

IMG_3700This was a bit of a watershed day for me. Until recently, being a mother to my daughter was a lot of work, work, work, and a little bit of fun mixed in.

But really, it mostly work.

Now she’s walking, talking, using the bathroom (almost on her own!), and playing on her own. It’s a welcome relief to see her enjoying time with her friends without me by her side.

Yes, there’s a little sadness in watching her drift away, but I have to admit, it’s mostly relief. I don’t know if that relief comes from my introverted side or my independent side or from some other aspect of my personality, but the relief is real.

In many ways, we have a long way to go and I’m certainly not wishing the years away.

Because now I’m seeing how much fun being a parent can really be.

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