coming out of the fog

HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

My daughter is just about to turn nine months old, which means she will be out as long as she was in. As we hit this milestone I finally feel like I’m coming out of the proverbial new mom fog. If you’re in the midst of the fog you might know what I’m talking about. If your past it, I’m almost certain you know what I’m talking about. Whether we’re in it or past it, we all eventually come out of the fog.

As a mom, it is always an adjustment to embrace your new found identity. You had this baby that spent nine months growing inside of you, but now it is learning to live outside of you. You spent months adjusting your growing belly and now you must recalibrate and learn to provide for this little person all the time. 

Not only are you learning caregiving skills, but you also have this new identity called motherhood to embrace. You’ve gone from being your own person, and now your some little person’s whole world. If you already have older children, you’re learning how to share yourself with all the little people vying for your attention. No matter how many children you have, it’s always an adjustment to accept the new you.

When you have a baby, they’re always worried about you having postpartum depression. No one talks about this fog you’re living in. With so many things changing in your body, your life, identity, etc. you spend your days with your mind spinning. I am here to share something with you that I’ve heard from almost every mom; adjusting to this new identity as a mother is a challenge for everyone. I’ve also heard from almost every mom that we do make it out of the fog and see our world clearly once more. The way we see our life and world may be different than before, but it is now filled with lots of love and joy. 

yours in motherhood,

C

HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

to the perfect parents

HebrewDawn: to the perfect parents

Dear Perfect Parent,

I have a few things I’d like to share with you today. I want to commend your efforts at being the perfect parent, because it’s not somethings we all aspire to be in life. You believe in the depths of your being that you are doing everything exactly right, and that you have a thing or two you can teach the rest of us.

You are decidedly the best example about breastfeeding or formula feeding, when to start your child on solid food, when to send your child to preschool and kinergarten. Oh! Let’s not forget about extra activities like soccer, dance, music lessons, and swimming. You most assuredly make time for your child to do it all. God forbid a parent choose themselves over their child wants.

Do you sense my sarcasm yet? I hope so, and I hope you’ll join me in doing the following…

No more shaming.

No more blaming.

No more judging.

START supporting others.

Let’s get our views of perfection straight and get them in check. They are ruining amazing mom/dad friend opportunities. Let’s not assume that someone is shaming, blaming, or judging us. Instead, let us assume that the perfect parents are all of us and that we all want to support one another.

Let’s do this parenting thing y’all!

C

done is enough

How often do you fret over going the extra mile on the project that’s been assigned to you at work? How many times have you worried about finding the perfect vendor to complete an update or correction to something in your home? How often have you said no to a volunteer opportunity because you didn’t think you were knowledgeable enough? Have you ever considered that done is enough?

Over the years I’ve learned to let go on having that work email typed out and articulated “just” right. Once I learned to let go, I’ve been the editor for coworkers stressing about sending out the “perfect” email. More times than not, the final product is not all that different from the orignal version that was being fretted over for not being quite right.

Over the years my husband and I have spent hours looking into every possible lawn care company that could solve all of our problems. We’ve reached out to neighbors to find out what works for them and their yard. We’ve then worried if it’s worth the month, if there are too many chemicals, and what if we made the wrong decision. We spent so much time researching and worrying that it delayed having a beautiful yard we can enjoy.

Over the years I’ve recruited countless volunteers who doubted their ability to serve. They though that they couldn’t be a Girl Scout leader because they were never a Girl Scout, but they turned out to be the most dedicated to learning EVERYTHING about the program, it’s history, and how to lead their girls. These leaders were more than capable and simply needed to say yes and get through their orientation. 

I’m not convinced that the driving factor in all of this is perfectionism. I am inclined to believe that it’s our own fear of judgement from others that we aren’t completing the job to perfection, choosing the best vendor for the job, or being the best person for a volunteer position. If we can let go of this fear of criticism or ridicule, we might we see that we did the best we could, we did find the right person for the job, and that we are a good fit for the opportunity.

Perhaps, if we can accept that done is enough, we will learn…

  • that anything we complete is done exceptionally well
  • we cannot spend all of our time researching, because we are missing out on other things in our life 
  • that we are capable and called to serve for ne volunteer opportunities

Don’t be afraid to say yes and know that done is enough.
HebrewDawn: done is enough

Sick Baby 

HebrewDawn: Motherhood Monday - Sick Baby
I had high hopes of getting a new post up today, but I’ve spent the weekend taking care of a sick baby since Friday. Luckily I had the day off as we had plans as a family to go down to Matthews, Virginia to spend the day with friends. Rather than spending the day in, on, or beside the water I spent Friday worrying about a pitiful baby who had a fever. 

Luckily our pediatrician wasn’t worried and gave me a few care instructions:

  • Keep my sweet baby resting, nursing,and eating  as much as we could. 
  • Alternate doses of Tylenol and Motrin to get the fever down. 
  • Call if anything changed in how frequently she was eating, wetting her diapers, or if the fever wasn’t down by Monday. 

We followed instructions and it all seems to have worked. Thank you for understanding the lack of a more substantial post. See you back later this week. 

Going to Work When Your Kids are Sick

HebrewDawn: Going to Work When Your Kids are Sick

As a parent there are many tough moments mixed into all the beautiful ones. Many of us have experience those difficult ones; like the first time they cry from getting shots, the first time they get seriously injured, and the first time they get sick. But I believe what makes that last moment even more challenging is going to work when your kids are sick.
I keep waiting for the moment that it’s easier to walk out the door leaving my daughter in the care of someone else who loves her while I go to work. To date, that moment never gets easier, and I even dread the moment when it comes. When my little girl is feeling ill, there’s nothing more that I want than for her to feel better. If I can’t make her feel better, then I can snuggle with her until she does.

HebrewDawn: Going to Work When Your Kids are Sick

VHP sleeping off her fever

 

Unfortunately for me, today is another one of those days that I have to go to work while my little girl is sick. Fortunately my husband has sick AND vacation time through his employer, whereas I only have PTO (paid time off) to be used for both sick and vacation time. Since my husband has more time off, this means he usually stay home with a sick kiddo, and for that I am thankful.

On a day like today, I am most thankful that my daughter is left in the care of her daddy who loves her enormously, is chef extraordinaire, and is one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. I know that without a doubt that my little girl will get nursed back to health with all the cuddles and care she requires.

I know that on a day like today, that not everyone is so fortunate to leave their child in the hands of their spouse, significant other, or another trusted family member. And for this my heart breaks. I can remember the days of my own mother being a single mom, and our neighbors who were single parents as well. They were were stuck with the choice of between going to work to be able to put food on the table and being there with their sick child.

Leaving your child in the care of someone other than yourself and balancing out the responsibilities of work and parenting is never easy. I’m certain leaving for work when your child is sick is not the hardest thing in parenting, but it most certainly can feel like it in the moment. For each person the struggle is different in varying degrees, but it’s a struggle none the less.

I hope the next time we have to wrestle with this situation, we will remember that we are not alone in the guilt and worry. I encourage you to let those that care about you know that you’re having a tough day being apart from your sick child. Most of all, I hope for a day when we don’t have to be stuck choosing between being with our sick child and going to work.

 

 

When Did You Get So Big?

HebrewDawn:  When did you get so big?

On separate occasions over the weekend my husband and I picked up our daughter and were shocked by how big she felt in our arms. At one point we asked her, “When did you get so big?”

I don’t think she really knew how to answer that question because VHP’s response was a very contemplative “um, um, um..” while trying to figure out an answer. I’m not so sure that my husband or I knew exactly when either, but by the end of the weekend that we had a better idea. 

During church it was time for the children’s moment and we asked VHP, “would you like to go up there by yourself or with mama?” Her response was an emphatic, “MYSELF!” So off she went to the front of the sanctuary. My heart had a little pang of longing to go  with her, but I stayed put and watched to see what she would do. She sat for the children’s time and listened to the pastor. She folded her hands, bowed her head, and prayed during the prayer. When all was said and done, she sat for a few minutes after the other children got up, and  eventually made her way back to sit with us. 

So when did my little girl get so big? Was it Sunday morning? Was it when she no longer wanted to nurse? Will it be when she goes to kindergarten? Was it when she slept through the night as a newborn? Will it be when she goes to high school? For now, it’s when she didn’t need me on Sunday morning. 

Even though I may not want to think about my daughter growing up so much, her going off to kindergarten, or eventually being in high school, she’s growing and will continue getting SO big. We might not always recognize these moments of growth when they happen, but these moments pull at our heartstrings nonetheless.  

Despite our hopes that our children will remain our babies forever, they grow and progressively need us less. It’s nice to feel needed, but it’s also encouraging to see our babies become their own little person.  

It Won’t Be Like This For Long

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There are so many moments as a parent when we wonder if it will always be this hard. On the flip side, there are many times that we wish would last forever. It’s this strange, yet lovely, dichotomy that represents motherhood and being a parent. As I’ve navigated life as mom, I’ve had moments that took my breath away from being so sweet or challenging. I wondered if it would always be like this, and then I’d remind myself that it won’t be like this for long…

Many thanks to Darius Rucker for providing the music to convey these feeling so well, but also serving as an important reminder that the sweet moments are quickly fleeting.

While pregnant we wonder if we’ll ever find out the gender of our baby, or if we will ever be done waiting for our child to arrive. What we forget about is the safety and security of the little love in the womb, while we grow and prepare for life with this little love in the world.

After the weeks of waiting for the arrival of our sweet baby, we wonder with blurry eyes if we will do anything besides nurse, change diapers, and rock a crying baby back to sleep. What we forget is how this little baby is completely dependent on the milk that only we can provide, finds the most comfort in our heartbeat, and will someday want no part of these sweet snuggles.

Once we finally make it through early months of a newborn, we suddenly have a baby that has forgotten how to sleep. We are now in the throws of the five month sleep regression and wonder if we’ll ever sleep again. Later we’ll realize that these late night snuggles are precious when our baby will one day squirm too much to sleep cuddled next to us.

We anxiously await the day for our sweet little love to crawl and explore the world, until we realize they can’t find every little thing closest to the ground. We long for the day that they won’t be into everything, but what we will someday realize that there are so many things that they cannot yet reach.

We long for the day that our sweet child will walk, and run and play until they do. Suddenly they are toddling everywhere and finding everything to grab and crash into. We wonder if we’ll have to scoop them up forever and kiss their bruises, but some day we’ll remember how much faster they can move and how tough they were.

After weeks and months of practice, our sweet toddler no longer moves slowly from place to place, but is getting into everything. We wonder if anything will be sacred or safe from their little hands, but later we’ll know that it was easier having them get into these things down low and not hidden out of sight.

Before long we reach the long awaited days of potty training when diapers are no more. We feel like we’ve finally crossed the last bridge of babydom, and long for the days of dry underpants. Someday we’ll remember how much this little person still needed our love and guidance with even the basic of human needs.

Each moment of life with our babies is challenging but is quickly passing. When the moments get to be too hard, I pause and remind myself that it won’t be like this for long. That times that feel so hard will one day be sweet moments of the past that we may (not always) long to go back to and savor.

Preparing for Daylight Saving Time with Children

In six days daylight saving time begins, and I’m excited for the extra hour of sunshine this provides us. As a parent I’m not excited about what this time change  does to my child’s sleep. This is our third round of time changes, and whether you gain or lose an hour of sleep, as a parent I dare say you always lose. This year I am determined to be prepared!

What’s the game plan? Beginning with bedtime Wednesday evening, my daughter will be going to bed 15 minutes earlier than night before. Over the course of the next four nights, her bedtime will get reduced to being an hour earlier than normal and getting her on schedule for the time change. So for us this will look like an  8:00 bedtime tonight and tomorrow, 7:45 on Wednesday, 7:30 on Thursday, 7:15 on Friday, and then 7:00  on Saturday.

The best laid plans…I had hoped to make it a gradual process throughout the week of making bedtime ten minutes earlier over the course of a week, but with our schedule for the week it won’t quite work. We have a group of church friends coming over for dinner tomorrow and VHP will be devastated to leave “the party” early. Friday is going to be our biggest challenge as we have company coming for dinner, and I don’t think she will be too keen on going to bed at 7:15.

I’m hoping and praying our plan works so that the daylight saving time  transition goes a little smoother than in the past. Have you had luck with your kids getting accustomed to the time change?

Peace Be With You

Evenings in the Parker family can be a mix of sweet and chaotic, but on your average Wednesday chaotic seems a little more accurate of a description. I rush from work eager to see my daughter and I’m greeted with squeals and hugs. Sometime after that delightful greeting, I encounter this rage-filled demonic being toddler who is angry with me over God knows what. My great sin could that I buckled her car seat rather than allowing her to do it, I used the keys to drive the car rather than let her hold them, or I dared to make dinner without allowing her to help with every step of the process. Whatever the case may be, there is great angst between pick-up and dinner being set on the table. If I’m lucky there are other sweet moments before bed, but there are nights there is a long wait for bedtime.

Last Wednesday evening was a night with more delightful moments than I could have expected from my two year old. I expected things to be like most nights in which VHP gets her plate first and begins inhaling her food before my husband and I can sit down to the table to eat as a family. Instead our little big girl was nibbling at her food trying to wait for us to come to the table. Once my husband and I sat down we began to eat our meal, because we were starving. Instead of digging in too, VHP fussed at us adults. “No eat yet, pray,” she declared. My gracious, us adults completely forgot to bless the meal and she kept us in check! My husband asked her if she wanted to say the prayer and she agreed.

“Dear God. Thank you soup. Amen.”

Her prayer was much simpler than her first mealtime prayer and much more to the point than her friend Elle’s, but it was enough to convey thanks for the soup her daddy made.

The fact that she at two reminded us to bless the meal melted my heart, but it turns out she was not finished. Shortly after dinner I was taking on kitchen clean-up and it was my husband handling bedtime. We were all getting bedtime hugs and kisses, which turned into us receiving a few bise (French for kisses on the cheek). Next came more toddler of fun like high fives and fist bumps.When I thought we were finally done, VHP came back for more bise. Or so I thought. She asked for my husbands hand and then said what we thought was “bise” again. But my husband realized she was saying “peace”.

Suddenly it hit me that my daughter was passing the peace to my husband like we do on Sunday mornings at church. He responded as if the custom at church by saying, “and also with you” and gave her the biggest hug. Before I could catch my breath, it was my turn to receive the Peace of Christ from my daughter. She turned to me and said “peace to you”.  My heart was and still is so full. The adults at our church have no idea that by passing the peace to our little girl how much they have taught her. Since she was a baby in worship members have greeted her during the passing of the peace, and still do. VHP has been paying attention more than we knew, and is taking what she learns in church out into the world with her.

Potty Training Update

 
I confessed awhile back how I dreaded the impending days of potty training. Over the last few weeks my daughter has been fighting putting on diapers and requesting big girl panties. Well last Monday her petitions were stronger than ever she and decided she was done with diapers. What’s a mom to do, but to throw always all the diapers follow her lead and begin the toilet learning/potty training process. Through my years of babysitting, teaching preschool, and being a nanny, I’ve really come to believe that toilet learning is the better, more accurate term for this process.

If your toddler is anything like my daughter, they are independent and determined to do things their way and in their time. As much as we may want them to do things the way that we would like and/or think they should, there will be resisting and screaming until they do it their way. It’s also not uncommon for these little monsters people to do it just as we wanted, but they had to decide it was the right course of action. Repeatedly I’ve seen this play out with every child when it comes to using the potty. As much as we may want them to do be done with diapers, they’re not done until they decide they’re good and ready. This level of determination and independent thought doesn’t seem all that different from us as adults, but for some reason it’s more maddening with a little person.

I’m not one to be told to do things when I don’t want to, and the apple doesn’t far fall from the tree with my daughter. For the last few months my daughter has expressed an interest in using the potty and wearing big girl panties. I’ve really tried not to force the issue, but provide her the opportunity to try. Yes these opportunities have resulted in wet floors and mommy getting peed on (perhaps all over your neck while they ride on your shoulders), but we had some successful attempts too. Occasionally my daughter has spent most of the day out of diapers, but inevitably she asks for her diapers back on. This last week has been much different than the past.

VHP decided with the first diaper change of the day that she was done with diapers and has not allowed me to put them back on her since outside of times when she will be sleeping. We are still using diapers at nap time and bedtime, because I’m not a complete glutton for punishment (remarkably there hasn’t been much fighting about this). There have been accidents, there have been more than a few of messes to clean up, and we have questioned if she is ready. However, we have now survived 7 days in panties, the accidents are happening less often, and they are happening at fairly predictable times (i.e. usually when she is too engrossed in her current activity).

So how have we been going about it?

  1. We start the day out with a quick attempt to use the potty. If it’s not a successful trip (aka nothing happens), we try again after a half hour because we know she’ll need to go after waking up.
  2. We have been using Gerber training underpants because they are more absorbent than the cute Frozen panties.  If we’re leaving the house we make sure to use a Bummis pull on cover over the training underpants.
  3. We make sure to keep at least 2-3 extra pairs of pants and underpants with us wherever we go in a ziploc bag or wet bag (to store the soiled clothes).
  4. At least once an hour we ask if our daughter needs to use the potty. If VHP hasn’t asked to go within 60-90 minutes of her last successful trip we take her to the potty to try.
  5. No matter what, we never pressured our daughter to go and wouldn’t push the issue if she refused.  Too much pressure leads to outright refusal, and then potentially to full on toddler determination not to use the potty.  We do ask a couple times in a row if she seems distracted/unsure/is blatantly ignoring us, which is typically met with palpable annoyance…and then a trip to the potty which is usually successful (uh, told you so kid).

I know that some folks get really nervous about leaving their house with a potty training child, but so far it’s not been the end of the world for us. On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we were lucky to have her at home all day due to a snow day and then being with her grandmas. Wednesday and Friday were preschool days, and I think seeing classmates using the potty were a good source of encouragement (nothing like a little peer pressure). Our first trip out Tuesday evening was to church and a casual dinner with friends. There was only one accident at church, which wasn’t a mess with the Bummis cover being used. Besides that accident, we averaged two during the day and one in the evening. The recurring timing for one daytime and evening accident was meal time, because little miss couldn’t be torn away from a good meal. Sunday was an even better day as we managed to keep the day down to one accident! Here’s hoping we’re on the right track!

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