Checking Back In

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written. In part, I’ve been devoting what little blogging time I have to my other blog about raising a bilingual child in English and German. But I also felt like I wasn’t really accomplishing my goal of offering words of advice and comfort to new mothers. But I just read back through some of my previous posts and had a small revelation: I’m not really writing for others, I’m writing for me. What a great documentation this is of Aleksander’s growth! So I thought I’d try to get back into it.

Aleksander isn’t just walking now. He’s running! He seems to have two speeds: stop and fast 🙂  We’ve had some pretty hot weather this summer  –  too hot to go outside. So he just does laps around the kitchen! He hollers away as he takes the corners at lighting speed. It’s especially fun when I hide behind the different walls and pop out with a “boo!!”

Lately he is also becoming even more opinionated and demanding in what he wants. Now he actually tells me where to hide in the kitchen! Or he’ll point to his Daddy and then to a chair to tell him to sit down. It’s pretty funny … at least for now.

He is very particular about what songs he wants to hear. We’ll go through dozens on my iPod before reaching the one he wants to hear. Sometimes I get so frustrated I turn off the music, convinced he doesn’t really want to hear anything. But no  –  then he tells me again that he wants to dance and points to the iPod.

No, he isn’t talking much. But he’s signing a lot!! He has about 25 signs now, including dance, book, fish, cooking, and butterfly. He is also saying a few things like Ada (Dada) and Ama (Mama). His favorite word to say is “truck.” He must have said it 20 times yesterday when the garbage truck was coming up the street. As usual, we stood at the windows and waved to the guys. I think they get as much of a charge out of it as we do!

I’m convinced that Aleksander has another tooth coming in – a 2nd-year molar. He already has all his other teeth. But he’s been chewing on his hand for weeks now. And this week, he displayed all the signs of the tooth popping through – crankiness, no bowel movement, little appetite. I have to say, though, it hasn’t been so bad. I’m really working on being patient with him when he has a rough time. And I try to go with his flow. For example, he really balks at having his diaper changed. Trying to hold him down is futile. Today I tried letting him roll over and sit up. Then distracted him with a toy and told him he couldn’t have it unless he laid down. Guess what? He did! I still had to distract with a song (ones with motions work well, like “Itsy-bitsy Spider”), but it was relatively painless in the end. Whew!

The most frustrating thing has been trying to figure out what DVD he wants to watch. (We try to keep it to a 30-minute-a-day max, if at all.) After about 20 minutes of him crying and stomping his feet the other day, I accidentally figured out that he did not want to watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar (his recent favorite). Once I put in a Sesame Street DVD, peace was restored, and he sat down happily in his little chair. Today, I caught on a little faster. But he was still beside himself as I tried to figure out what he wanted to see. I tried to explain to him that we’d figure it out and he didn’t need to get so upset. That kind of worked a tiny bit. On the third try, we hit a bulls-eye with Baby Mozart, the first DVD he ever watched and a long-time favorite. I guess it’s true what they say about children reverting back to old habits when going through something difficult like teething!

Oh, and my afternoon sitter project is still working like a charm! The timing is perfect. You know how 4-6 o’clock can be the “witching hour”! So he has someone to play with, and I get some time to myself. And even when PER is home, he doesn’t have to take over the second he walks through the door. We both go for a walk and do bathtime with Aleksander.

Only right now, things are more chaotic than usual. We’re buying a new house! We close on Monday and move in early August. So I’m trying to organize and pack. It’s nearly impossible with Aleksander under foot. I’m trying to use my sitter time to make some headway, but it’s slow going. My parents will be here three out of the next four weeks, so that will be an immense help!

Despite some occasional drama, I have to say, we’re having so much fun! He cracks me up the way he laughs at a bouncing ball or spilling puzzle pieces on the floor. Most of the time, he’s his happy little self 🙂  And so am I!

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?

Let’s Dance!

Remember back when I first started this blog and I wrote about refocusing on myself as the New Year was about to begin? Well, so far I’m doing pretty well with 4 of my 5 goals. I’m teaching, blogging, and taking tap. And not only am I back in a regular yoga class, but I’m loving it … I think I’m addicted 🙂

The thing that has not gone as planned is my intent to to get back to the treadmill. Part of the reason is beyond my control…. No, really! I wanted to walk after dinner, but with PER traveling so much these past weeks, there’s no one to watch Aleksander while I sneak down to the basement. I’ve thought about trying to find another time, but….

So now I have a new plan! I absolutely love to dance. But other than my tap class, I hardly have the opportunity to do so. The other day, I was reading someone else’s blog (wish I could remember which one!), and the mom talked about how she dances every afternoon with her kids! What a fabulous idea!! Let’s dance!

At about 4 o’clock each afternoon, I turn on the music, and Aleksander and I dance around the living room. He loves music and he actually loves to dance. He’s only just learned to walk, though, so he still does most of his dancing sitting down. He kind of flails his arms around and bounces on his bum. It’s hysterical! But then he caught me twirling around and walked over to me with wide eyes and arms raised as if to say, “I want to twirl, too!” So around and around we went. It’s so much fun! And even though I’m definitely tired by that time of day, I find the dancing to be really energizing. It feels great 🙂

Homemaker

The term “stay-at-home-mom” has been bothering me for a while. Yes, I’m a mom. Yes, I work from home. But somehow “staying at home” makes it sound a little like I also do this while reclining on the couch eating bon-bons. I most certainly do not! I am a lot more than just a mom, too. I cook, clean, do laundry, get groceries, take out the garbage, and just about everything else that makes our household run. Yes, my wonderful husband pitches in a good bit, too. But my job at home is a lot more than just being a mom to Aleksander.

That is why I am currently opting for the term “homemaker” instead. It sounds a bit old-fashioned, I know. But by taking care of Aleksander and just about everything in the house as well, I feel that I am making our house a home. I take a lot of pride in that job. Although I admit I get frustrated by having to do the same household chores over and over again, in the end I really like the idea that I am making a lovely home for my family. I like the idea of making things easier on my hard-working husband. And of course, I like being the one who gets to take care of Aleksander, too.

So until I – or someone else – comes up with a better term, I’m going to start calling myself a homemaker.

Question: Do you have any suggestions for this job description?

P.S. — I don’t mean to imply that you working mothers don’t do all these household chores as well! Maybe we need a new term for the “working mother” too!

Part-Time Single Mother

My husband, PER, travels a lot for his work. It seems to come in spurts. He won’t have a trip for months, and then suddenly he’s traveling three weeks out of the month. Sometimes it’s just a day-trip, and then other times it’s a whole week. Luckily he’s almost always home by the weekend. It makes me feel like a part-time single mother. I have to make certain adjustments and lower my expectations when he’s gone.

A friend of mine recently wrote to me to ask for some advice on being such a part-time single mother. Her husband is going through some training for his work that requires him to be away during the week for the next six weeks. That is an awfully long time!

Her situation inspired me to use this outlet to talk about what I’ve learned in the past 14 months about surviving the time on my own. So here it is:

  • Make sure you have support. If you don’t have family close by, line up the babysitters. I sometimes have someone come every day, even if it’s only for an hour. It’s important to be able to get some rest, get a break, and/or get a few things done.
  • Prepare over the weekend. Cook, clean, do laundry, run and empty the dishwasher, etc. We try to get these things done while one of us is able to take care of Aleksander, so I have less to worry about during the week on my own.
  • Prepare to make easy meals. I often have soup, spaghetti, or baked chicken – quick and easy. Or you can cook double ahead of time and eat the leftovers during the week.
  • Take a nap and/or get to bed early. Having the care of a child all day takes extra energy, so you’ll need extra rest.
  • Go easy on yourself! You’re not going to get as much done when you’re on your own. You may have to let some things slide. And that’s okay!! I generally don’t count on getting anything done other than taking care of Aleksander. I usually do end up getting a few things done, but then it feels like a big bonus 🙂
  • Still make time for yourself. Don’t let that tank drain down to empty, or you won’t be able to take care of yourself or your child. Get a pedicure, do some yoga, or even just sit for five minutes with a cup of tea – whatever you do to rejuvenate yourself.
  • When your husband gets home, remember to take some time for just the two of you. Go on a date if you can. If not, spend a little quality time together after your little one goes to bed. It’s so important to stay connected with each other.
  • On that note, remember that your spouse has probably had a rough week, too. It’s hard to imagine, but PER actually puts in more hours when he’s on the road than when he’s home. Add to that the flights or driving, and it’s a pretty strenuous time for him. As much as I’d like to just hand Aleksander over to him when he walks through the door, I know he needs a little time to wind down. You might want to talk about how you want to deal with that transition time, so you’re both clear about your expectations.

So there you have it. My tips to surviving part-time single-motherhood. I can’t imagine being a full-time single mom. To all you single moms out there, hats off to you!!!

Question: Do you have any tips to add?