Month

October 2016

How You Look

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The six year old is on a kick where she prefers to pick her own outfit and do her own hair.

For the most part, I’m fine with this. Let’s face it–I’m no fashionista myself. And five weeks into parenting a newborn I’m just happy when everyone is wearing clothes.

That’s why the six year old rocks–she can dress herself.  As you can see from the photo, she enjoys “matching” stripes with stripes, as well as following several other fashion”rules” that aren’t necessarily the same rules I have come to understand. She also appreciates pairing cowboy boots with capri pants and wearing tall socks on the outside of pants on occasion.

In addition to dressing herself, she has just recently started experimenting with doing her own hair. Because this is still a new adventure, ponytails and other hairstyles often err on the side of chaos.

To be honest, the instinct to step in and modify her outfit or fix her hair is almost always there. For better or worse, I can’t help but be conscious as a parent when my child shows up to school in head-to-toe chevron and fluffy snow boots with her hair looking like it was styled with a blender.

But here’s the thing–every time she comes down the stairs and makes her entrance for the day, she is beaming with so much pride at her own independence, her sweet brown eyes looking to me for approval.

And suddenly her outfit and hair don’t matter so much. Because nothing is worth squashing this hesitant pride.

So I tell her that she’s beautiful. And that I’m so incredibly proud of her independence. Because she is. And I am. And those messages matter so much more than matching outfits and perfect ponytails.

Obviously, as an imperfect parent, I don’t always execute this support as well as I wish I did. Just this morning she appeared in capris and snow boots and way too many stripes and color combinations and I cringed on the inside a little.

“Hmm,” I said. “I’m not sure those shoes will work today.” (I’ve learned to pick one battle at a time.)

To which she promptly responded, “IT’S NOT HOW YOU LOOK, IT’S HOW YOU LEARN, MOM.”

Touche.

After I finished laughing, I hugged her and told her I loved her and that she was exactly right. Except that it was a P.E. day and she probably needed to wear tennis shoes.

She attempted to convince me with a display of how tight her boots were that they would be fine for P.E. but after I reminded her that it was also about the gym floor, she conceded and switched to tennis shoes.

It’s not always easy to find the line between celebrating her independence and intervening to teach her “rules” about P.E. shoes and stripes.

But the truth is, there will probably be all too many days where other people’s “rules” and opinions dictate what she wears and how she does her hair. For now she is still blissfully free to wear whatever her heart desires without fear of the negative opinions of others.

So for now, rather than being one of those negative opinions, I’m choosing to celebrate this freedom right alongside her.

 

All 100%

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Actually cooking lunch (that the toddler won’t eat anyway).

Today was my first day on my own all day with the two littles AND picking up the oldest from school. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have my husband and mom around to help for the first three weeks. And now it’s sink or swim time. And sinking isn’t an option.

Since I’m in the newborn-google-everything phase (see previous post), I did some reading about tips for handling a toddler and an infant. This time, google delivered.

First, one mom wrote about how she wished she had paid more attention to the toddler during this phase. The baby can tend to be more demanding of attention (needing diaper changes and feedings more frequently), but ultimately the toddler is the one who will remember the attention (or sudden lack thereof). This tip made me prioritize giving attention to both kids. The housework can wait.

Also, letting me off the hook in terms of stressing over household chores wasn’t even the best part of this revelation. It turns out that, when I made it my goal to focus on my kids and being intentional about giving them attention, I stopped feeling like they were demanding my attention. My attention became something I was giving them rather than something they were taking from me. It may seem like a small shift, but it made a huge difference in the day’s stress level.screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-8-35-42-pm

Another google mom wrote about how she staggers the kids’ nap times so that she can get more one-on-one time with each kid. This was a mini revelation for me. In my mind the goal had always been to get them to nap at the same time so that I could catch a break. And while I would still be thrilled if that happened, I realized two things. First, when you have two littles at home all day, one of them being asleep already feels like a break. And two, when I try to get both of them to nap at the same time, I get stressed when it doesn’t happen. (And three weeks in I’m telling you: it usually doesn’t happen.) But when I let go of that being a goal, I’m not stressed when it doesn’t happen. Instead, I appreciate the time to focus on one at a time. Again, a small shift in the goals for the day made a huge difference in stress level.

To be honest, I felt like I was giving all I had when it was just the toddler. I didn’t know how it was going to work to add a newborn into the mix. But here’s what I didn’t realize: I can’t give any more than 100%. I was doing the best I could when it was just the toddler. And now I’m doing the best I can with a toddler and a newborn. And on the days and evenings when the oldest isn’t in school, I’ll do the best I can with all three of them.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-8-36-02-pmGiving 100% looks a little different in each situation. Sometimes 100% is as simple as snuggling a sleeping baby. Sometimes it is reading Little House on the Prairie on the porch with the oldest. Sometimes it is a tickle fight with a toddler. Sometimes it’s even doing what I need to in order to recharge my own batteries.

And sometimes it’s answering a thousand six year old questions while holding a toddler and changing a newborn diaper and heating a bottle and answering the doorbell.

And that’s okay. Because even on the days that feel like a steady stream of chaos, I love that I get to be here with these little people every day. I can’t think of anything I’d rather give my 100% to.

Life With Three (Alternate Title: I Have No Clue What I’m Doing)

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We are three weeks in to life with three littles. Update: I have no clue what I’m doing.

Truth be told, I didn’t even before the third one came along. (How is there still no manual for this parenting thing??)

Anyway. If I didn’t know what I was doing before, it is even more obvious now. Juggling this many humans is HARD. Sure, I have moments in which I feel like I’m almost nailing it. The other day I got lunch ready for the toddler and fed her while wearing the baby in the carrier. (Listen. This may seem like a ridiculously small win, but I assure you, it is big.) One night the baby only got up once between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. (Have i mentioned how much I love my bed?) Today, we even tackled the pumpkin patch with minimal stress (definitely a win).

And don’t get me wrong, these wins are great. But there are still a lot of moments in between. I’m not kidding you guys, I literally googled, “Can my toddler’s temper tantrums traumatize my newborn?” this week. Because the toddler lost her s#%&t for thirty plus minutes the other day. While I was trying to feed the baby. And of course, I just got done reading somewhere (who can remember where) that hostility in tones of voices can impact a newborns brain development. (Maybe it was in my peaceful parenting audio book? I can work on being peaceful but who is going to get the memo to my toddler?!)

For the record, google was not that helpful. Nor was it particularly helpful in answering how to stop the toddler from screaming her bloody head off or why my baby gets restless at night only AFTER my husband goes to bed. I didn’t bother asking it my sleep deprivation questions. (How did people parent before google??)

I know this is normal (at least I assume it is).  So much of parenting (and adulting?) is just making it up as you go. Maybe there will come a time where I’m more confident in my ability to spontaneously handle everything parenthood throws at me.

But for now, I feel like I’m hanging on to a spinning merry-go-round, balancing somewhere between an exhilarating adrenaline rush and debilitating fear.

I have no idea how to handle the toddler’s temper tantrums. I don’t remember this stage with my oldest (though I have vague memories of worrying that the neighbors would think I was beating her because of how loud she would scream so we must have gone through this). I have no idea how to load and unload an infant AND a toddler from the car by myself. I have no idea how to begin to piece together a manageable bedtime routine. Or meal time routine. Or morning routine. I have no idea how to chase a toddler around a park with a newborn in tow. I have no idea how to go about feeling like I’ve given each of them the attention they deserve. I’m barely pulling off the “shower daily” thing, and quite frankly I’m sucking pretty bad at the “sleep” and “eat healthy” things.

But maybe figuring out all the answers is overrated.

Because even if I did, it would only last a moment before everything changed and I’d have to figure it out all over again.

Maybe the best thing we can do is just be clueless and keep showing up anyway.