Sweet Moments

We’re in the middle of a big move. We bought our new house last week and move in at the end of next week. There’s so much going on, it makes for an extra-stressed Mama. And wouldn’t ya know? An extra-stressed Aleksander. It’s amazing how these little ones tune into our emotions and end up acting like little mirrors, reflecting back at us whatever we’re projecting out.

Of course, I could also add that Aleksander is getting his 2-year molars (a little early). Plus he’s missing my parents, who were here last week (and are luckily returning on Saturday!). And maybe starting a new phase?? Well, whatever the cause, he’s been a little extra cranky lately. I try to get work done while Kelly is here to watch him in the afternoon, but he just wants his Mama.

Through it all, though, he still is his sweet, funny self. So not only does he show me that I’m stressing too much, but he reminds me how to laugh!

Today he did not want to read a book before his nap. He looked at it, but then decided he’d had enough. In his fussiness, he flung his arms … and hit me square in the face with the book. OWWWWW!!! (Yes, I did yell out in surprised pain.) But I managed to take a breath and keep my cool. We came to the conclusion that we’d put the book away and just move to the window for our lullaby. Still, I was so hurt – more emotionally than physically – by what he’d done that my voice was cracking as I sang while I tried to hold back tears.

Next thing I knew, he was looking at me – really looking – right into my eyes. That alone was enough to melt my heart. But then he leaned in for a kiss (we’ve been practicing this lately). More melting. But then he did something that pushed me right over the edge…. He made the sign for butterfly and leaned in for a butterfly kiss. That was it. Out spilled the tears. It was just so sweet. He must have felt the wetness on his own cheek. He then looked at me quizzically and started gently poking at my eyes, as if to wipe away the tears.

Come on – does it get any better than that?

Even when he has his cranky moments, that sweet little boy of mine is still right there. Sigh.

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Airplane!

Sometimes I just marvel at how much has changed since Aleksander was born. It isn’t just the obvious things that change when you have a child. Lately what strikes me most is how many little things I now notice.

A few weeks ago, Aleksander heard an airplane fly over our house. I pointed up and said “airplane!” Ever since, he points to the sky and says something like “hezzuh” (his word for anything he sees outside) whenever he hears an airplane. We’ve lived in our house for 3 years. I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed the sound of a single plane flying overhead. But now… I hear them all day long! I had no idea we were in the flight pattern of so many planes!

There are also many new – or previously insignificant – things to get excited about. Garbage trucks, delivery trucks, trucks of any kind really. When I’m at my yoga class each week, I can see the local train go by 3 or 4 times. It always makes me smile to think of how Aleksander would enjoy the sight. Then there are the squirrels (I remember a time when they were so loathsome as they ran rampant on our college campus). And now the birds are out, too, singing their songs. My dad put up a bird feeder for us when he was here a few weeks ago. Now we have beautiful chickadees and goldfinches outside our window all day.

Aleksander reminds me throughout each day – usually with his brilliant smile – to find joy in all the little things. This morning, he walked into the room, waved to me, and gave me a huge smile. What could be better than that?

Question: What little things do you notice now because of your child?

Elmo vs. Big Bird

I’ve been away from my blog for some time now. More on that another time. Right now, I just have to stop and take note of the latest funny, kooky thing that Aleksander is doing. Once again, we return to the crackers….

Every evening before bed, Aleksander has a little snack of milk and crackers. He usually has the Earth’s Best Crunchin’ Crackers, which come in two shapes: Big Bird and Elmo. We keep the crackers in a little plastic container. I’ve already written about how he wouldn’t eat any of the broken ones. He seems to have gotten over that for the most part. But lately he has been taking some time to select a cracker out of the container. I just realized he has eaten all of the Elmo crackers and left the Big Birds behind!! What?!

I can’t imagine where he could have possibly gotten such a preference. I know there are plenty of kids who are crazy about Elmo, but as far as I know Aleksander isn’t one of them. We don’t really watch any Sesame Street yet, and the only other time he has any “interaction” with the character is when I put on his diapers. So why choose Elmo over Big Bird? I have no idea. Yet another mystery of the toddler mind!

Question: What kind of unusual, unexpected, kooky things does your toddler do?

My Favorite Part of the Day

Sometimes the days with Aleksander can be long. Especially when PER has to travel for business, which he does a lot these days. It can feel like I’m just moving from one thing to the next, trying to get through the day. At times, I even find myself counting the hours until bedtime.

But I think it’s important to stop and really appreciate the time I get to spend with Aleksander. There are certain times of the day that I truly cherish. I love getting Aleksander out of bed in the morning. He’s so happy! He doesn’t even want to get out of his crib right away. We have to play with his little froggy first. It’s such a silly, wonderful time. What a perfect way to start the day!

I also particularly enjoy the time before bed. He snuggles in with me while he drinks some milk and has a few crackers. I love to sing to him. He sits quietly and then asks me to sing “a-deh” (again). It’s such a sweet time.

Of course, there are countless other moments in the day that make me smile. It’s thrilling to watch him find joy in so many things. Chasing his ball around the house, hearing his puzzles make animal noises when he puts them in the right place, dancing, knocking down towers, drumming on my baking dishes, or just crawling – and now walking! – around the house. It’s amazing to watch him learn, too. We sing a song that mentions teeth, and he now points to his teeth at that point! There’s another song where I wink at him. He’s trying to mimic me and ends up doing this hilarious squinting thing.

These are the kinds of things I like to keep in mind throughout the day. Then when he’s cranky or having a tantrum moment, it’s a lot easier to keep my cool. It may feel like he turns into a little savage, but underneath he’s still my darling little Sweet Pea!

Question: What are your favorite parts of the day with your little one(s)?

Lessons from My Son: Why Settle?

Aleksander has developed a funny little quirk: he won’t eat broken food. Cut-up sandwiches, pancakes, meat, etc. are all fine. But a Big Bird cracker with the beak broken off? No way! This morning I watched him take a cracker from the container, thoroughly inspect it, and then carefully put it back to select another, whole, perfect cracker. And I had a revelation.

Why do we settle?

Aleksander has always known what he wants (or doesn’t want) and does his best to let us know it, too. I’m terrible at asking for what I want. I don’t want to put someone out or look silly or  –  this is the big one  –  be judged. So I all too often go along or just don’t say anything.

Lately I’ve been looking for a new sitter, so I can continue going to yoga. I’ve had a few women come to the house to meet Aleksander and me. I knew the first was a definite no as soon as I saw her dirty hands (yikes! keep them off my son!). But the others? There’s really nothing wrong with them. They have experience. I’m sure they’re perfectly capable and responsible. But I didn’t get that feeling. The feeling that tells me this is the right person to care for my son in my absence. For whatever reason, they’re just not exactly what I’m looking for. So why do I feel guilty? I feel bad that I don’t want to hire them (even the one with dirty hands!).

I think I’ll try to be more like Aleksander. When I know what I want, I’ll ask for it. And when I know what I don’t want – after careful examination – I’ll politely put it back in the container and reach in for another until I find the one that’s just right.

Question: Is there anything you find yourself settling for that you’d like to change?

“Before I Was a Mom”

The following text was sent to me as an email forward a few months ago. I’ve tried to track down the author, but so far, my internet searches have come up empty. Whoever wrote it really got to the heart of being a mother. Reading things like this help me remember to take a deep breath and enjoy this crazy, wondrous ride.

Before I was a Mom,
I never tripped over toys
or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn’t worry whether or not
my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.
Before I was a Mom,
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind
and my thoughts.
I slept all night.
Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child
so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night
watching a baby sleep.
Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because
I didn’t want to put her down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces
when I couldn’t stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small
could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
Before I was a Mom,
I didn’t know the feeling of
having my heart outside my body.
I didn’t know how special it could feel
to feed a hungry baby.
I didn’t know that bond
between a mother and her child.
I didn’t know that something so small
could make me feel so important and happy.
Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth,
the joy,
the love,
the heartache,
the wonderment
or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much,
before I was a Mom.

What a Prince!

Sometimes I get into a snit about all the things I have to do around the house  . . .  again. How many times will I empty the dishwasher, make dinner, do the laundry, clean up the house, take out the garbage … and, and, and? All this and more in addition to taking care of Aleksander! It’s overwhelming at times. I don’t know if I realized that my decision to stay home with my kids meant taking care of everything in the house, too. When did that become part of the bargain?

And just when I’m feeling particularly (and unreasonably) annoyed, my prince of a husband does some little (and wonderful) thing to help out and remind me that we are indeed in this together!

PER was sick this past week with a bad cold and fever, so it was just like a week when he’s traveling. That is, I had full-time Aleksander-duty. I moved into the guest room, so we could both get a decent night’s sleep. He finally felt better by the weekend. Before moving back upstairs, though, I wanted the sheets and duvet cover to be washed. But when?! I had to teach Saturday morning, and we had a birthday party that afternoon. When I got home from teaching, I was so surprised to see the bed completely stripped! The sheets were already washed and in the dryer! When did my Prince have time to do that?! It may sound like a little thing, but it meant an awful lot to me.

My Prince is always doing things like that. Just when I think I can’t take it anymore, he swoops in to my rescue, taking care of some “insignificant” but ever-recurring chore in the house. (It’s usually cleaning up the kitchen.) He puts in a lot of time with Aleksander, too. Sometimes I don’t know how he does it all. He works so hard at his job and yet, when he gets home, he jumps right in. He doesn’t even ask for that 10-minute buffer period before being handed the baby!

So why am I telling you all this? Because it is so easy to forget what an amazing partner I have. It’s so easy to blame him for the messy house (usually more my own doing!) or some other thing that is annoying me. But every time I go down that loathsome road, I only end up loathing myself for going there. So I’m trying to focus on all the wonderful things my Prince does. I’m trying to appreciate him more and more. It’s amazing how paying attention to all the positive aspects in him somehow magically makes any frustrations just disappear! And in the end, I’m so much happier for it. 🙂

Question: What do you do to avoid taking your frustrations out on your spouse?