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?

Even the Bad Days Are Good

I had a rough weekend. Came down with some kind of bug. I still don’t know what it was. But I was good for nothing all day Sunday. So when I came downstairs this morning, I very quickly plummeted into a dark mood. No one had emptied the dishwasher, so there were dirty dishes all over the kitchen. Aleksander’s toys were everywhere. The house was in a general state of chaos. I had thirty minutes to get Aleksander dressed and fed before we headed out to music class. Oh yeah, and I still had to take out the trash. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

My day was definitely not off to a good start. To make matters worse, I was having trouble not blaming PER for every rotten little thing. He’d been holed up in his office for most of the weekend, working. So it really wasn’t his fault. But I’m afraid I sent him off with quite a grumble, and he won’t be back from his business trip until late Thursday.

But all that changed when I opened the car door to get Aleksander and take him in to music class. My little man greeted me with a great, big, joyful smile! My heart melted and all my frustrations dissolved in an instant. That sweet little boy was so perfectly happy just to see me! It was quite a gift.

Oh, and PER ended up stopping back home before he went to the airport to pick up the sunglasses he’d left in my car. So I was able to send him off with the goodbye kiss I wished I’d given him that morning 🙂

Question: Do you have a story about a little moment that changed your whole day?

Get Out!

In all this cold weather, we don’t always manage to get outside. And on days when I go out alone, Aleksander usually ends up inside for the day. Not a good idea!

Apparently, Aleksander doesn’t think so either. Lately he’s been pointing at the front door, as if to say, “I want to go outside!” It surprised me at first, since he fights me every time I try to put on his shoes and jacket. But then again, he always settles down as soon as he gets into the car or the stroller. So I’m making a new effort to go out with him every day. Maybe even twice a day.

Now that he’s settled into his new nap routine (down to one a day around 1pm), I’m finding it really helpful to go out around 4, after he’s had a snack. Granted, the beginning of rush hour is not the ideal time to be driving somewhere. But it sure breaks up the afternoon.

Last week, we discovered the train table at Barnes & Noble. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of that train table! Now I need to think of other places where we can go and Aleksander can get out and move around a little, preferably at little or no cost to me. (I take him to music class and am considering a gym class, but those get expensive pretty fast!)

Question: Where do you go when you and your little one need to get out of the house and it’s too cold for a walk?

A Little Pampering

A couple of weeks ago I got a massage. It was wooooooooonderful….

But who can get a massage on a regular basis? It’s just not practical!

Still, I think it’s important to pamper ourselves regularly, even if it’s just something little. I already wrote about my heated neck wrap in one of my first posts. I also have a lovely, lavender-scented eye pillow that I use sometimes if I’m trying to take a nap. It helps block out the light and offer soothing aroma therapy. I often think of enjoying a nice cup of tea while Aleksander takes his nap, but somehow I never seem to end up doing it. Maybe if I unpack my mismatched collection of English teacups….

My latest little treat is a scented body spray a friend of mine gave me for Christmas. I don’t know how many times I’ve purchased these sprays for myself. They usually end up collecting dust in a cabinet under the sink. But this time, I’m inspired to use the heavenly sweet-smelling spray. I put it on every night before I go to bed. Every now and then, the scent wafts up to me, and I just have to smile. It’s amazing how something so simple can feel so good!

Question: What little things do you do to pamper yourself? What things do you wish you did?

The Hard Days

I almost lost it the other night. Aleksander’s molars are coming in, and he’s had a couple rough nights. For the most part, I’ve been able to rock and sing to him to lull him back to sleep. But on Saturday, nothing was working. All I could do was hold him and walk him. I thought my arms were being ripped out of their sockets. I’d try to pass him to his Dad, but only his Mama would do. Somehow I managed not to fall apart – physically or emotionally. But it reminded me of all the times when I wasn’t able to keep it together….

I was recently reading another blog by a mother of three who was having a really hard week. As she came out of it, one of her biggest complaints was all the cheery advice she got. It’s so true! When you’re in the depths of despair, the last thing you want is a Pollyanna to come along and tell you to look at the bright side and that everything will be okay – even if it’s true.

Trying to yank yourself up the emotional ladder from despair to joy is simply impossible. In that dark place, you feel powerless, and it takes a lot of effort to get yourself out of that hole. I think the first thing to do is acknowledge where you are and give yourself permission to be there. You’re not a bad mom for falling into this murky pit! And maybe you just have to stew in it for a little while. But unless there is a deeper problem at work, you will eventually come out of it. One step at a time.

For me, it usually helps to have a good cry. Not too long ago, PER was away for the week, and I was having a bad day. I fought the tears back all day long until I couldn’t take it anymore. So I stalked into the guest room, closed the door, sat down in the chair, and just bawled. This time was not so bad, because in a matter of minutes I felt better. And then I was ready to go out and face my baby again.

But maybe that doesn’t work for you. How about getting good and mad instead? Did you know that getting angry is actually a step up from feeling depressed? It kind of sounds worse to me, but I suppose it’s better, because you’re actually doing or feeling something. Of course, you don’t want to get angry at your baby … or yourself … or your spouse … or the lady at the check-out counter at the grocery store. Instead, try thrashing it out on your bed! Pound your pillows! Yell into the bedspread! It can have quite a powerful effect. You may even end up laughing!

Question: How do you handle the hard days? Is there anything you do to pull yourself out of them?

In-Laws

I must be one of the luckiest people I know. Not only do I have a fabulous relationship with my parents, but I get along great with my in-laws, too! They are visiting from the Netherlands for almost 2 weeks. Which means I get to have a hair cut, see my chiropractor, and go out with a girlfriend for a massage and tea!! What a week!

That’s not to say the road has always been smooth. I am the worst at asking for help. So when my in-laws have visited in the past, I’ve always had trouble asking them to watch Aleksander or help with the cooking or cleaning or whatever. Even when they came for 2 whole weeks when Aleksander was just 2 weeks old. And here’s the kicker – my mother-in-law is so very respectful that she doesn’t want to step on my toes and butt in! So we’ve sometimes been at something of a stalemate. She wants to help, and I want her to help, but there we were on opposite sides of the room waiting for the other to make the first move. (I know, this doesn’t seem like a real problem compared to the nightmare stories I’ve heard from friends.) But it was a real problem for me and even led to a meltdown or two, especially during that first post-baby visit.

Since then, I’ve learned a few things. First, I need to let go of control and actually let someone else take care of my child. (Funny that I almost have an easier time of it with a babysitter than with family!) And then I’ve learned to strategize a bit. Instead of waiting until the moment when I need or want the help, I try to prepare for it in advance. I’ll say something like, “Tomorrow I’d like to work on my lesson plans in the afternoon.” Then the next afternoon, it just kind of happens – I leave Aleksander in good hands and slip away to my office. For this visit, I got even bolder. I just started making appointments: the hair dresser, the doctor, the massage therapist, yoga class, etc. I had an email from my father-in-law the week before they arrived, so I was able to respond and give them a heads-up that I was going to take full advantage of their visit. It’s going great! I’m getting out of the house, and I know Aleksander is in good hands. And they’re loving all the time they get to spend with him.

Question: How do you deal with your in-law issues?

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