Becoming Mother

A book and a blog for first-time mothers

Tag: three-year-old

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.

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.

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