This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

“Wife Swap”: Guilty Pleasure or Anxiety-Provoking Nightmare?

Some days around 4 p.m., when Austin is still napping and I’ve (naturally) cleaned the whole house and cooked dinner (wink, wink), I decide to watch a little “Wife Swap.”

It’s kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. The other day, there was a particular episode on with a family that was afraid of everything. They didn’t have a microwave, the parents took toys away that were labeled “too dangerous” (one of these being a Nerf gun), they didn’t fly, own a car… you get the gist.

Austin driving a car, scary?  This is one I happen to agree with.

Austin driving a car. Scary? This is one I happen to think is very true.

As I was watching, I found myself laughing and thinking, “These people are crazy.” Only later, when I was lying in bed, did the thoughts start to creep into my head. Maybe we should get rid of our car. Maybe we shouldn’t go outside because some mosquitoes do carry the West Nile Virus. Maybe we should sell everything and (as my brother-in-law would put it) “live off the land.”

I tried to talk myself down and felt my blood pressure rising. I reminded myself to calm down and take one thought at a time. Anxiety is something I have been very familiar with in my life and, for anyone who knows me personally, knows that ever since the day I found out I was pregnant with Austin, the problem has only gotten worse. I worry about everything. Maybe not to the extent that this family did, but all you have to do is plant the idea in my head and I’m gone. Last night, I had a fear of radon and tried to convince Kyle to go to the store to buy a test at 9 o’clock at night. I felt totally justified, but Kyle seemed to think it could wait until the next day. Now who’s crazy??

I guess after watching this particular show, I realized that worrying doesn’t really help me in any way. I can worry and plan and schedule, but when it comes down to it, what’s going to happen will happen. All I can do is be thankful for my amazing life. (I want you all to remind me of this when I’m pregnant again.)

Stalking My 2 Year Old

I’m driving my son crazy. Considering the fact that he’s only 2, it’s a pretty impressive feat. Normally, it should be the other way around.

You see, the other day, Noah came running up to me with a pair of big boy underwear. He was all excited.

“Cars, Mommy! Cars on it!”

Yes, thanks to my nephew Brayden’s generous hand-me-downs, we had big boy underwear already in Noah’s drawers, in the hopes that, sometime soon, Noah would be ready to start wearing them. And they were Pixar underwear, no less.

Noah at 9:00 - we're both feeling optimistic!

Noah at 9 a.m.: We’re both feeling optimistic!

“Yeah, Noah! Cars! Do you want to wear them today?”

He eagerly nodded and thus began what I will one day fondly look back on as the real start of potty training.

I stress real here because the concept has been on our minds ever since Noah turned 2. Two seemed to be the magic number when it came to potty training. The average. I’ve heard of some kids being potty trained by 18 months, and others who weren’t until after age 3. In my mind, that means 2 is average. And to me, average is just great.

Anyways, we’ve been halfheartedly giving it a try since about 18 months. Every so often, once in awhile, when we’d think about it, and when Noah wanted to, we’d set him up on the toilet. If he just so happened to pee or poop, the clouds would part and we’d bring down the house with our cheers. (Typing that just now makes me think we may have gone a little over the top…)

But when Noah came up to me excited about his big boy underwear, I knew it was “go” time.

And thus will be the day I look back on fondly as the day I began to stalk my son.

It was going to be so perfect. Sophia recently started taking great morning naps. She’s been going down around 9 and not waking up until around 11. Noah and I have been stuck in the house together waiting for her to wake up so we could go somewhere. What a perfect time to potty train!!

That was my dream, anyways. My reality has been somewhat different. (The only thing dramatized here is the exact time. The rest, I am ashamed to admit, is all way too true.)

—————————————————————————————————–

9 a.m. “OK, Noah, you’ve got your big boy underwear on. No peeing or pooping. OK? OK, Noah? Noah, OK?”

We start a puzzle.

9:06 a.m. “Noah, do you need to go poop? Because you have your big boy underwear on. No pooping, OK? OK, Noah?”

Noah shakes his head “yes,” and we go back to the puzzle.

9:11 a.m. “Noah, I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the bathroom!”

We race to the restroom, Noah forces himself to pee a little, and we celebrate.

9:23 a.m. “Noah, do you need to poop? Noah?”

We read a book. No poop.

(This goes on for awhile. No joke. And then? Oh, and then…)

10:04 a.m. I take a restroom break. All is quiet in the playroom. This is not good. I reenter the room. It smells like poop, and Noah is cheekily smiling at me.

“Noah, did you poop?”

“Yes.”

“Noah! We needed to poop in the potty!! Come on, buddy! Don’t you want to poop in the potty?”

He shrugs. HE SHRUGS!!! This will not do. Old underwear comes off and goes into the wash, new underwear goes on, and I spend the next hour repeatedly questioning him and not letting him out of my sight. And then Sophia wakes up. We go upstairs together. I go into her room to retrieve her, leaving Noah to play in his room.

Sophia and I proceed downstairs, and I make a bottle for her. It’s then that I realize my fatal mistake. I’ve left Noah alone, again. And it’s quiet. Again.

“Noah, come downstairs! Let’s go to the potty!”

I stand at the bottom and watch as he slides down each step on his bottom. Then the smell hits me. The kid has done it again. He has pooped in his underwear. And then slid down the stairs on his bottom. This time, the pair of underwear is not salvageable. On goes the diaper, and Noah could care less. Apparently, the only who felt like a failure was me.

Noah at 11:00. I've broken him.

Noah at 11 a.m.: I’ve broken him.

Unfortunately, the next two days went very similarly. I stalked Noah, and Noah became more and more frustrated with me, understandably so. I was pretty insufferable.

So, today, I’ve decided we’re taking the day off. Diapers only and good times ahead. None of this constant barrage of questioning. No meltdowns at 11 a.m. because mommy just won’t leave him alone. No big boy underwear.

Unless he wants to.

Noah, do you want to?

Noah, you can if you want to.

Did you hear me, Noah?

Noah?

God help me.

Finding Balance in a SAHM-vs.-Working-Mom-Crazed World

About a year after my son was born, I remember telling my mom that I still thought a lot about the day he was born. The day I was strolling down the streets of downtown with my co-workers and heading to a restaurant for my going-away lunch. The day my water broke while I was strolling down the streets of downtown with my co-workers. The day I never made it to my going-away lunch. The day, my mom wisely told me, life as I knew it was forever changed, the day I flash back to so often because it was the last day of the first part of my life.

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The day we took my son home from the hospital I was terrified, but I also wanted to hold on tight.

Since the first day of the second part of my life – my life as a mother – I’ve been busy.

When my son was just a few months past his first birthday and I was just a few months away from giving birth to my daughter, I decided to embrace the second part of my life and stay home to raise my children. I want to be the one to discipline them, I told myself. And I want to be the one they know better than anyone, the one they run to when they’re hurt or scared or sick, the one they always know they can count on to be there.

Flash-forward to two years after my daughter was born, and I still want to be that person. But I’ve learned that “that person” comes with some drawbacks.

My daughter is now so clingy with me that it can take massive amounts of prodding just to get her to go to her dad. My son tests my patience many, many times a day, sometimes so often that I’m driven to anger and, consequently, regret. I can become resentful of my husband, just because he gets to leave the house without the kids on a daily basis.

Being “that person” means I’ve lost the first part of my life, the person I had known and had worked so hard to develop for 27 years. While I’ve been telling myself I’m OK with that, I’ve noticed some evidence lately to suggest the contrary.

I started this blog with my sisters, for instance, because I love to write and it provides an outlet. I have dreams of writing a novel and getting it published. I still can’t see certain things, like a person’s name I used to work with or a company I used to work for, and not think about how I know I could still do that job and do it well. If only I had the time.

Summer 2011 207

Playing balloons with Brayden, right before I quit my full-time job and Anna was born

When Anna turned 1, I took on a freelance position with a non-profit. I did the work from home, and it gave me a few hours of mindful activity a month, plus a few extra dollars in the bank. This summer, just before Anna turned 2, I started working at the non-profit one day a week, in addition to still doing work for them from home. It’s given me a few more dollars in the bank, but, more importantly, it’s given me a chance to prove to myself that I can still be that person from the first part of my life. If only for a few hours a week.

It’s reminded me that I like to work, that I like being in an office environment, that I like to do my best and use the skills and training I received when having kids was something for later, not for when I had all the ambition in the world and a lifetime to first climb success’ ladder.

Having kids has taught me plenty, but one of the most important things it’s taught me is perspective. It’s taught me (and maybe starting to practice yoga has taught me this, as well) that there has to be balance. That it’s OK to occasionally mourn the Forty Under 40 list that I’ll now never be on, but to also, most of the time, not give it a second thought. That it’s OK to want something for yourself sometimes, and if that means a few hours in an office once a week, then so be it. But that it’s also OK to not miss that office as soon as you walk in the door and see your kids again.

Whatever works for you is what works. And it’s OK if it takes you another part of your life to figure that out.

 

 

 

The End of My Relaxing Mornings

Austin started to crawl about a week ago, and I can’t tell you how excited I felt.

I had been eager for Austin to crawl for awhile and, sure, I may have done a little coaxing by using a cookie sheet to motivate him. (Don’t ask; all you need to know imageis that it worked and Austin is now a crawler.)

The only problem? I was in such a rush to get Austin to crawl that I didn’t take the time to realize that my relaxing mornings were gone. I could no longer sit peacefully and drink my coffee while Austin played on his playmate.

Oh, no. We now crawl around the room, and I watch Austin explore his new surroundings. He generally falls a few times, gets back up and goes right back to crawling around. No more “GMA” watching for me.

Crawling has also drastically changed our naptime routine. I lay Austin down and he crawls over to the bars on the crib and kneels. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet mastered getting down from this position, so he typically falls and cries or laughs.

It coulimaged go either way.

A lot has changed in our household. We are furiously trying to baby-proof, although, let’s be honest, it isn’t like your baby learns to crawl and you just let him or her go free. I’ve been watching Austin try to pull himself up to standing and he’s getting really close. I will admit, I’d really prefer him not make it all the way up just yet.

One milestone at a time, please.

Eighty Percent Perfect

The word “usually” has become a huge part of my vocabulary now that I have two kids 2 and under.

“Noah usually likes doing a puzzle after nap.”

“Sophia usually only takes 4 oz. first thing in the morning.”

“My kids usually go to bed around 8:30.”

As their mom, I’d like to think I know my kids. But it seems that every time I think I know them they throw me a curve ball and everything I think I know goes out the window.

IMG_1319I was talking with a family member over the weekend about our kids and how they continue to keep us on our toes. Adam and I had taken Noah, Sophia and Zimri up to Cleveland to meet our beautiful, new niece and see the rest of the family. Sitting in the park with my sister-in-law’s sister, we talked about how hard it is on the kids to travel and get acclimated to a new place, new people and new routine.

She said it usually takes her sweet, little girl a solid week before she feels totally comfortable in a new place. I nodded along and said how hard it is to come up to Cleveland for the weekend.

Yes, the drive can be tough, but it’s really not so bad. The hardest part is watching my kids, whom I think I know so well, warp into totally different people.

It’s no one’s fault, really. It’s just different places, different faces and different things to do during the day that throws them off.

I hate it when it happens. I hate seeing my kids not act the way they do at home. The way I know they can act. And so, my “usually”s start to come out.

IMG_7874“Sophia usually is so content.”

“Noah usually eats really well.”

“Sophia usually doesn’t spit up this much.”

“Noah usually doesn’t throw a fit about going to bed.”

This time, “usually” is not about showing how well I know my kids; its purpose is to defend them. I want others to know that they really are amazing kids. I want them to see the little sweethearts that I get to see 80 percent of the day (I think 80 is a fair percentage; no one in this family is perfect!).

IMG_1325It makes sense. The amount of love a parent has for his or her child cannot be described; it’s THAT huge. And, as anyone who’s loved someone has experienced, it is SO important that other people you know and love, love that person, too.

And so I talk my kids up. With “usually.” And I do it a lot. To Adam’s family. To my family. To strangers in the grocery store. “Yes, random man behind me at the checkout line, Sophia usually smiles at people and no, she’s not tired. She’s usually very happy.”

I want the world to love my kids. Is that too much to ask? Probably. But I’ll still do it. I’m a mom. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter, though. I know my kids, and I know what they’re like. And they are pretty darn incredible.

Usually.

 

Stuck on Suckers

There is a very real possibility that we have a sucker problem in this house.

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“I was good. Can I have a sucker, please, Mommy?”

It started innocently enough, with me throwing a bag of Dum Dums into my shopping cart one day because I thought the kids would like them. I remember presenting them each with a lollipop later that afternoon and watching their eyes gleam as they unwrapped them and discovered which color they had received. They had had suckers before, but never one on a day that wasn’t a special occasion.

Kevin and I started handing them out every so often, when the kids were behaving especially well or, sometimes, as a dessert, and we felt pretty pleased with ourselves.

But then the requests started coming.

“Mommy, can I have a sucker, please?”

Brayden would ask some variation of this question at least once a day. For her part, Anna began pointing at the jar we’ve now repurposed into a “sucker jar” and grunting, “Sucker.”

Brayden was so polite when he asked for one, and Anna was so cute, that I usually handed them out pretty freely, as long as it was only one per day.

Then, I got crafty.

“Brayden,” I said one day before closing his bedroom door for naptime, “if you’re good today and you don’t yell or talk at the door at all, you can have a sucker when naptime’s over.”

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“Don’t cry, Anna. We’re going to get a sucker!”

“Really, Mom? A sucker?”

He was so excited, I had to grin myself.

“Yes, a sucker. But be good!”

“OK, Mom. I will.”

Surprisingly, he was good. He played quietly with his toys in his room for about an hour and a half. There was no crying, no calls from his door that he wanted to come out of his room, and no playing so loudly he woke up Anna.

Bliss, I thought. This is what bliss feels like.

So, I’ve kept it up. Every day, before shutting his door for naptime, I remind him, “Be good today, Brayden, so you can get a sucker.”

“OK, Mom,” he always replies.

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The “sucker jar”

Usually, he’s good. In fact, he’s only been loud and woken Anna up once during naptime since we started our sucker routine a few weeks ago. When naptime was over that day, I told him he couldn’t have a sucker because he’d been too loud.

He cried, he whined, he howled, but I stuck to my guns, and he learned fast.

Now, it’s quite the routine.

The first thing Brayden says every day when I open his door after naptime is, “I was good. Can I have a sucker, please, Mommy?”

I’ll smile and say, “You were good, Brayden. Yes, you may have a sucker.”

Then his face lights up like it’s Christmas morning, and I feel like a good mom, if only for a few minutes.

We go together to Anna’s room to get her, and he immediately informs her, “Anna, we get to have a sucker now!”

Once we’ve all paraded into the kitchen and I’ve pulled down the “sucker jar,” there’s a big production of each kid getting to pick out his or her own sucker. Whenever I ask Anna what color she wants, she says, “A blue one,” but she says that about most things right now, so I’ve helped her branch out to other flavors, like watermelon and 014grape. If I can teach her her colors in this phase of sucker fixation, then great! (Although, Anna may be on to something; after a quick look at Dum Dums’ official website, I see that “blu raspberry” is their most popular flavor – and yes, “blu” for some reason is spelled without an “e.”)

We’ve also discovered the sucker obsession comes in handy when we have a babysitter over to watch the kids and Anna isn’t happy about us leaving.

I guess, really then, my only problem is trying to get the kids to have a healthy snack after they’ve had their sucker every afternoon. Maybe I’ll write to Dum Dums’ parent company, Spangler Candy Co. (I’m really enjoying how much I’m learning about Dum Dums today! And isn’t it fun just to say Dum Dum? OK, maybe I’m alone on that one…) and ask them to introduce a sugar-free spinach flavor, or avocado, that (somehow) kids will still love.

Now that would be the true definition of bliss. And Dum Dums would rule the world…

Baby Steps to Independence

In a week, Sophia will be 6 months old. I cannot believe it. It’s true. The days go slowly, but the years go fast, too fast.

It’s crazy how much she’s changed in just a few months. She’s no longer a little being that simply sleeps, cries, eats and needs a diaper change. She’s this little person with this huge personality.

Pillow is taking my place for the picture.. I swear I'm a good mom, most of the time...

The pillow is taking my place for the picture… I swear I’m a good mom, most of the time.

With all of these amazing developmental steps come some definite physical changes. I’m not saying she’s becoming a woman, although it’s never too early to start preparing for that super-fun moment in life, I’m sure. I’m saying that my little girl wants to explore everything, wants to move everywhere and wants to play with anything she can get her hands on, usually to put it in her mouth.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great! Her curiosity, her thirst for touching and tasting everything, her excitement about coordinating her movements are all incredible!

But it’s also hard. Because while she WANTS to explore everything and go everywhere, she can’t do it all by herself. She still needs a LOT of assistance. She needs me.

Yes, she always needs me and always will need me to an extent, and that’s OK. But, for the last five months, when necessary, I could put her down under a play mat, in a swing, on a blanket with toys surrounding her, in a pack ‘n play, and I could do something for a moment. It didn’t matter what. Get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, read a book with Noah, clean up the dishes, etc. She would happily stay in place and be content, for the most part.

But now, we’re at the in-between phase. We’re at the phase where she wants to crawl and she absolutely loves to sit!

She CAN crawl; she just scoots in the opposite direction of where she wants to go. She moves backwards. The toys do not scoot with her.

She CAN sit, but at any given moment, she will fall to the side or backwards and that does not go over well with her when she hits the floor.

She WILL lie under the play mat, until she rolls over. Then her face is up against the bars and she’s none too pleased.

And she's down!

And she’s down!

She WILL lie in her pack ‘n play, until she rolls over. Then her face is up against the mesh and she’s even more upset.

She WILL sit in a swing, until she leans forward and falls out. Which happened. I don’t feel like expounding on this story, just know that everyone is OK and she’s not been in the swing since.

So now, we are in a limbo of sorts. Sophie’s no longer content on her back or in her swing. But she can’t do or get exactly what she wants.

Enter Mom.

She needs me more than ever right now. And, a lot of times, it’s for her safety that I’m at her side at all times. We’ve already covered her falling, but the scooting has become an issue, too. I’ll leave her on a blanket for two minutes and, when I come back into the room, she’s 5 feet from where I left her. Who knows what she could scoot into in two minutes, just what she could get her hands on, or worse, what she could get in her mouth.

I know, I know. Wait until she crawls. And it’s true, crawling is a whole new ballgame. I guess that’s how it will IMG_1293always be.

Newborn: “Wait until they sit up.”

Crawling: “Wait until they walk.”

Walking: “Wait until they can drive.”

And so on and so forth.

So, I will wait patiently with Sophia in this stage. I will sit behind her while she’s sitting, and scoot her back into place on the play mat. I will flip her over in the pack ‘n play, and I will NEVER again put her in the swing without straps. I will wait for my girl to enter the next phase, even though it’s taking a toll on my patience and my back. I’ll wait and try my best not to wish it away.

I know that good things come to those who wait, but I also believe that great things happen while you’re waiting.

 

As Tough as My Daughter

Last Wednesday, Anna was diagnosed with epilepsy.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to write about it, or even if I was going to write about it, but now that I’ve had a few days to process it, it’s not as overwhelming. And really, it’s not a big deal, is it? It just means she has a tendency to have seizures. But really, it is a big deal, because it also means she has to be on medication for at least two years, have an MRI and an EKG conducted to make sure there’s nothing else causing the seizures and have regular check-ups with a neurologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Really, in the grand scheme of things, of course, we’re lucky. If you read my post from back in May, you know the first “incident,” at which time, of course, it never even crossed my mind that what had happened had been a seizure. Then, two other “incidents” happened, both in the car and both still scary, although nothing as awful as that first one.008

Last week, Anna had three doctor’s appointments. Next week, she gets tubes on Monday, has an EKG on Wednesday and an MRI on Thursday. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a little rough. And that’s with the knowledge that the worst is still to come: She has to be put under general anesthesia for both her tubes and her MRI. I know anesthesia is a common procedure and she’ll be fine, but I can’t bear to see her “knocked out” again; the last time I saw her “knocked out” was in May, and it was the most terrifying experience of my life.

All of this we’ll get through, though. Of that, I’m sure. She’ll be fine. She’ll likely outgrow the “tendency to have seizures” once she’s a teenager if not before, and, God willing, most of this will be a distant memory in a few months.

What I’m now grappling with is when to begin tough love with “little Anna.”

She’s always been little, ever since she was born, and she was the first girl on my side of the family, so for those two reasons alone, she’s been coddled. I’ve picked her up and hauled her around whenever she’s whined at me, I’ve handed her anything within grasp whenever she’s motioned for it and, basically, I’ve done whatever I’ve could to keep her from crying (“Don’t make eye contact…”).

Now, though, she’s 2. She’s not a baby anymore. She throws fits, she hits me sometimes if she wants me to stand up and hold her and I want to sit down and hold her, she yells, “No!” if you try to reason with her, and she’s taken to saying, “Bad!” when someone’s doing something she doesn’t want them to do.

Clearly, she needs some tough love.

004But it’s tough to start. Namely, it’s tough to start tough love now because of everything that’s going on with her, and also because the medicine she’s on can cause her to be moodier, more aggressive and more irritable. Check, check and check. But, remember, she’s also 2…

Do I tell her not to do something when she does something wrong? Sure. Do I give her consequences for her actions when she does something she’s not supposed to do? Of course. Did I also just buy her a Minnie pillow yesterday and new wall decorations for her room? Yes and yes.

Brayden starts preschool in a few weeks, and it’s nice because, as challenging as he can be, I don’t worry about how he’ll handle school. He’s going to get in trouble. Honestly, good, he needs to get in trouble sometimes. But he’s also going to love it.

I worry about how Anna will handle preschool, though, even in a year from now. It may be a bit of an inconvenience to have to talk to her teacher about her emergency medication and her… condition, I guess, but it would be an even bigger inconvenience if, on her first day of preschool, she’s swatting my leg and screaming “Bad!”

I’m in charge of keeping her healthy and safe, true. But I’m also in charge of shaping her character, of making her a loving person worthy of receiving love. So maybe it’s time to start focusing on that for a little while and know my “little Anna” is also a very tough, very feisty Anna, one who is going to be able to tackle everything the world throws at her and then some. As long as her mom will let her.

 

I Wish Someone Had Told Me…

I was putting pictures in a photo album over the weekend when I started thinking about all of the things I have discovered since having Austin. I thought I would put together a list of some things I wish someone had told me before I had kids.

1. Labor is hard.

My idea of what labor was going to be like was drastically different from what I actually experienced.

I had previously watched Colleen and Sarah go through the beginning stages of labor, and it looked like a breeze! Colleen’s epidural was so strong, you could’ve cut off her legs and she wouldn’t have known, and Sarah… well, Sarah had Pandora going and was singing and dancing at 10 cm. So, naturally, I thought my labor would be just as easy and I wouldn’t feel a thing.

I was sorely mistaken.

I discovered that, sometimes, epidurals don’t work and, sometimes, even two epidurals don’t work. Needless to say, my labor consisted of two epidurals, me feeling everything, the nurse trying to teach me breathing techniques for a natural labor at 8 cm and Kyle awkwardly kicking out my whole family because, let’s be honest, things were just uncomfortable.

So, my first point would be, labor is different for everyone and I shouldn’t have waved people off when they said “labor is hard.” Understand that this is the most physically challenging thing your body will ever experience. Austin

2. Do not put cold water in your squirt bottle.

If you have had kids, then you understand the squirt bottle and have probably made this mistake just as I did. If you do not have kids, don’t put cold water in the squirt bottle, EVER.

3. Be prepared to wear your maternity jeans for a few months postpartum.

I had no idea that I would still look pregnant after giving birth. I honestly thought, like some sort of magical vacuum, my stomach would shrink and reshape itself and I would look just like I did pre-pregnancy.

That was not true for me and, honestly, it still isn’t.

For the first couple of weeks, I would put on my normal jeans and feel discouraged and fat, and then I would go back to the comfort of my maternity jeans, feeling defeated. Try to understand that your body has just been through a crazy, life-altering, body-changing event and your jeans will fit again. Don’t rush it!

4. Som3141etimes babies cry just to cry.

Right after I had Austin, a friend of mine was over when Austin was screaming. She said to me, “OK, well babies cry because they are hungry, tired, they need a diaper change or they are sick.” I agreed and entertained all of the above until I realized, nope, he just wants to scream.

Sometimes babies scream just to scream and while yes, I’m sure they do need something, good luck figuring it out.

5. Your relationship with your husband will change.

Not in a bad way, in a really cool, new, interesting way. Watching your husband become a father makes you look at him differently. He is no longer just your husband, he is the father of your child/children and that is, hands-down, the most important role he will play. Watching him play with your new baby will make you appreciate him and be so happy that he will be there as a role model to your new child.

6. Being a mom changes the way you look and feel about EVERYTHING.

I used to love reading the news at work. I would always bring the stories up around my family, and Colleen would always say, “If it is about a kid, I don’t want to hear it.”

I never understood that until now.

I can’t read the news anymore because any story involving a child makes me feel like crying. I read a story the other day about someone’s brakes going out in their car, and I made Kyle give me a 30-minute tutorial on what to do if my brakes go out and Austin is with me. I can turn just about any story into a terrifying event that involves Austin. My mom recently told me that she still feels that way, although I doubt as strongly since we’re adults now, but she said, “Welcome to motherhood. You will worry until you die.”

Awesome. IMG_1768

7. If your baby wants to sleep on their stomach, they will figure out how to sleep on their stomach.

I was terrified of SIDS and Austin sleeping on his belly, so, at 3 months, when Austin decided he was a belly sleeper, I panicked. I told the pediatrician, who told me to go in and roll him back to his back, which I did a few times… until I talked to some friends and family who had kids. They all said the same thing: “My kids slept on their stomachs, with blankets and a bumper, and they are fine.”

So, I relaxed a bit. I didn’t give him a blanket or a bumper, but I let him sleep how he, apparently, wanted to sleep: on his stomach, facedown. And so I stopped rolling him over and let the poor kid sleep in peace. And now, at 8 months, Austin sleeps through the night, every night, on his belly.

Let me point out that Austin still only has one tiny blanket in his crib and a mesh bumper because I am a bit of a worrier.

8. Your dog will become a second-class citizen.

I know you love your dog – I certainly love mine – but believe me, as soon as you have a baby, the dog is no longer your No. 1 priority. You find yourself wondering whether he’s outside or in because you honestly can’t remember. You yell if he comes within a foot of one of the baby’s toys. And walking the dog is suddenly way down on your list of things to do. In fact, you consider it a good day if he gets fed.

9. Do not assume that your baby is ever finished pooping or peeing and let them go without a diaper for a little while.

I learned this one the hard way, several times. You will get pooped on, and it will shock you at how little it bothers you.

10. Don’t wish time away.

Back at the beginning, when Austin wasn’t sleeping, people would remind me to cherish this time. I remember thinking, “Sure, I’ll cherish this time once he starts sleeping.”

But now my little guy is 8 months old, and I can’t believe how fast it is going. So, take it all in from the first, few, crazy months of no sleep to your baby becoming a little person.

It goes incredibly fast.

Nothing to Fear, At Least For a Few More Years…

I stood, panting, at the top of “The Cliff” (see picture) and looked down. I’m hyperventilating, I thought. I don’t know if I can do this.

cliffStupid pride. Always getting me in trouble. I’ve always been one to take a challenge and to not back down in the face of something scary. I’ve been the tough one of the sisters. The “Rusty” (think of the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation”).

I couldn’t back down. I had to bite the bullet and go down the slide. The enormous, way-too-high and way-too-steep slide. My reputation amongst my family was on the line.

There we were, spending a perfectly lovely day at The Beach Waterpark, splashing in the wave pool, sitting in the sun and enjoying the beautiful and abnormal August weather. I was very content just hanging out for a change. When the men in the family, i.e. Adam, my brothers-in-law and dad, decided to go down “The Cliff,” I was partly jealous but mostly relieved. A small part of me thought that it sounded like fun, but most of me thought, Awesome, let THEM go. We can watch and that will be the thrill of the day. I don’t have to be involved.

Admittedly, not "The Cliff". But I think you can understand where I'm coming from now...

Admittedly, not “The Cliff,” but I think you can understand where I’m coming from now…

As we watched them all splash to the bottom and climb out smiling, Jill turned to me.

“I kind of want to go…”

“Me, too!” I responded, but in my mind I was still thinking, SHUT UP! Do you really??

However, the damage was done. We were going and there was no backing out. I couldn’t. Darn pride.

Adam came, too. Sophia was asleep in the stroller and my mom was holding Noah at the bottom of the slide, ready to cheer us on from down below.

Oh, boy.

Standing at the top, I realized there was no turning back. I had to do this. I had to do it for me, and I needed to do it for my kids.

I needed to show them I was not afraid because there was nothing to be afraid of.

In short, I needed to lie.

When I think about fear, I realize that there are a million things that scare me. Things that keep me up in the middle of the night and don’t let me fall back asleep. Things that make my heart race and my mind go to the worst possible places.

I have rational, everyday fears, like Noah falling down the stairs, Sophia choking on her food or Adam getting into a car accident. And then I have irrational, everyday fears, like spiders, snakes or the dark. (Hey, these are my fears, OK?)

The list goes on and on, as I’m sure everyone’s does. Fears are good. Fears keep us practical; they keep us safe and appreciative of those people in our lives whom we are so afraid of losing.

But, when it comes to my kids, I don’t want fears to be necessary now.

IMG_3173

No fear

I don’t want them to look at the world as a scary place full of scary things. I want them to see the world as exciting and full of amazing opportunities.

For the next 10 years, I don’t want them to fear anything. Adam and I will do the worrying for them. It’s our gift to our kids as parents. More than a gift, it’s our job. We will keep them practical. We will keep them safe. They will just enjoy.

My parents did it for us and, because of them, I had the best childhood I could have ever asked for. I played hide-and-seek behind bushes (who cared about spiders?!). I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. I went straight down a black diamond ski hill without a second thought. I rode rides at amusement parks and walked across high bridges and rode a wave runner in the middle of the ocean. I LIVED. And I loved every moment. Was I scared? Probably for a moment. But that was nothing compared to the fear I now know my mom and dad, well, mostly my mom, must have experienced. We always used to tease my mom for being such a worrier. Now, when I look back, I realize how she must have felt. Somebody had to worry! It was such a gift that she and my dad gave us. They worried so we didn’t have to.

Onward to the next adventure!

I want to know that my kids, for the first 10 years of their lives, will see everything through rose-colored glasses. I want them to believe in magic. No kid should have to face the grim reality that is the day to day. Not yet. They’ll have the rest of their lives for that.

So, as I propelled myself down the slide, holding my breath, closing my eyes – and getting the wedgie of my life, I might add – I kept a smile on my face. Noah was watching.

I swam out of the pool laughing. I may have been scared out of my wits, but there was no way I was going to show Noah that. I needed him to believe that the slide was nothing but fun, so that, in three more years, he’ll be brave enough to go down it himself. And I’ll be standing at the top right there with him, cheering and clapping like crazy, but being scared to death for him all the while.