Daughter and the rain

Spring Break For Kindergartners Is No Joke

I really didn’t think I’d take a week off of writing. Then again, I didn’t realize I’d agreed to the 5-year-old version of Cancun.

For N’s Spring Break, we painted pottery, shopped, ice skated, went to the children’s museum, did arts & crafts, took 20 books out of the library, saw Cinderella (the movie not the princess), shopped again, rode a train, bowled, won 7 rubber duckies at the arcade, saw every other family member in a 200 miles radius — all while getting in our regular reading, writing, drawing, and playing pretend.

I’m exhausted.

Pottery painting
Pottery time. Just like Hammer Time! Please don’t touch that. You can’t touch this.
Hipster Mustache Bunny
I accidentally made a hipster bunny.
Daughter and the rain
Creating shelter in the rain because why would we consider going inside our house? Also, she’s so much more fashionable than me that it’s almost embarrassing.
Shelter in the rain
Yes, I’m wearing slippers in the rain. This is why N had to help me build my shelter and will probably be dressing me soon.
Mall Train
Mall Train! Take us to Nordstrom STAT!
My daughter
I’m not tired yet. Are you?
Ooh, we get to go into the baby section of the Children’s Museum! (This is seriously an exciting thing.)
Yellow outfit
The baby wore a new bumblebee onesie so N insisted we become the bumblebee family.
Yellow and black
This was the best bumblebee I could come up with on such short notice.
Us in yellow and black
I have no idea what she’s looking at — maybe a flower to pollenate?
Bowling Alley Breakfast
Breakfast at the bowling alley
Rubber ducks
See the row of ducks watching us pinball? They are ruled by Count Duckie (Count Dooku’s evil twin rubber duck)

For all its intensity, I felt great about being so available, fun and willing. Only once did I ask for a sit-on-the-couch breather. Otherwise, we just did it all and did it with joy. Of course, she didn’t want to go to school today so maybe I need to tone it down a bit for my son.

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Me and N

I Love You Just The Way You Are, Mama

Me and N
One lucky mama.

A few weeks ago, I was cranky. My cold had just begun, and I’m definitely not getting enough sleep with the baby. I was snappy and unfair to my family. However understandable my irritability might be, I hate when I react without kindness, but with my tolerance levels so low for normal and slightly annoying behaviors, the snide remarks and unreasonable expectations just kept popping out of my mouth.

At bedtime, I said to my 5-year-old: Mama’s been pretty cranky this week.
She replied: Yeah.
Me: I’m sorry. I haven’t been feeling well, but I don’t like when I behave like that. {then I smiled} We need to exchange this Mama for the non-cranky version.
N {holding my face very seriously}: No! I would never want a different version of you, Mama, even cranky.

I was expecting her to laugh and agree. When I had spent the week beating myself up over my inability to be the parent I want to be, I’m not sure I can explain what it felt like to be told that I am enough just as I am — the good and the cranky — by one of the little people about whom I worry I affect the most.

I told her: Thank you! That makes my heart so full.

There’s a big difference between being a good mom and a perfect mom. The latter doesn’t exist, and I can make myself crazy trying to be an ALWAYS: always calm, always patient, always prepared. In fact, I am probably setting a bad example by holding myself to unreasonable expectations. My kids need to see what adults do when they forget an appointment once in awhile or leave the snacks at home. My kids need to know how to apologize and shift gears when they are cranky or overwhelmed or frustrated. Children (and adults) also need to accept that some weeks are just tough weeks, and I guess, that week, I taught by example.

Obviously, as the parent, I have so much power in this relationship that I have to hold myself to high standards. My kids are dependent on me for everything from food and shelter to love and encouragement. I want our home to be their safe haven. I want them to think of their parents any time they are sad or lonely and know they have two adults who always believe them and always love them no matter what. But my daughter reminded me that I don’t need to be perfect to provide everything they deserve. In fact, some of the best life lessons will come from my failures rather than my successes.

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Are You Mom Enough To Distinguish Your Baby’s Cries?

One of the worst question I have been asked as a new mom — and even as a seasoned mom — is: Can you distinguish your baby’s cries?

What? Can I tell if my screaming, squirming baby wants to eat or sleep by the pitch and tone of noises he only recently discovered he could make?

I’m usually asked by professionals who are currently making my child cry with pokes and prods and weird face petting. Is this a test to see if I’ll say: Well, that’s her “you’re so annoying” cry?

Or is this really some terrible litmus test akin to being asked Can you tell if it’s a boy or girl? while pregnant.

Gee, are my maternal instincts strong enough to take a 50/50 guess at the private parts of my fetus?

And now that she’s here, am I mom enough to meet my baby’s needs by hearing alone?

Well, let’s see. When a baby cries, I think:

When did he last eat?
When did he last sleep?
Does he smell like poop?
Oh yes! And with a peek into the diaper, I discover it’s the ‘I crapped my pants’ cry.


I also find that yawning or diving for my breast while crying to be helpful in understanding my screaming infant’s needs, but if I was to go blind and have my arms fall off, I would be out of luck in the baby-caring-maternal-instinct department… as well as armless.

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