Put a Bib on It


Leave a comment

First Day of School—and Beyond!

We’ll bid a fond farewell to Sadie after Ev heads to his first day of school… next month, join her on our blog for parents of young children, Blink…And They’re Grown!

kindergarten1

Ev started kindergarten in August. It’s true what they say, about it being such a transition, such a coming of age life moment. My baby is no longer a baby.

I just felt like so much was changing. The same week Ev started kindergarten, Ev switched from a car seat to a booster chair—no harness buckle. Drop off meant no more walking into the classroom and Ev just getting out of the car at the door to the school. I don’t even have to put my car out of drive. It means leaving the Put A Bib On It blog and joining our other parent blog, Blink…And They’re Grown. Because I no longer have a baby. I have school-ager.

I have once heard of change being compared to an elephant and its rider. The elephant is our emotions and the rider is our analytical side. Usually the rider has control over the elephant, but if the elephant doesn’t want to obey—who would win? I did everything in my power to keep my emotions, my elephant, from running amuck. What if drop off didn’t go well and Ev got out of the car crying? What if he is lonely all day and misses me and his dad? What if he doesn’t make friends? What if he doesn’t make the right friends—those who encourage him to be a leader and make good choices? What if he isn’t kind? What is he doesn’t stand up for himself? What if he doesn’t stand up for others? What if there is a zombie apocalypse and I can’t get to him in time?

The rider in me made some plans to prepare Ev and to prepare me. We set up some play-dates so that Ev would have the opportunity to meet some other children in his class. I took him to meet the teacher and to drop off school supplies. We also spent some time at the school. Ev played on the playground and we walked around inside. We practiced how drop-off would go. We talked at-length about kindergarten. We made a laminated picture schedule of the morning routine and a laminated family picture for the book bag.

The first day of school arrived. Ev hopped out of bed, got dressed and started the morning. He was excited. We took first-day pictures and loaded the car at our pre-determined time. As we were in the car line to drop Ev off, we talked about having courage and being kind and went over things one last time. An aid approached the car, opened the door and Ev got right out with a simple “Bye.” I of course, started bawling (and proceeded to do so on and off until pick-up time; I could no longer control my elephant). But Ev was fine!  He was great, even. And I am so proud. He has been in kindergarten for several weeks now and I am still so proud.  He has handled the transition so well. We discuss good parts and challenging parts of the day. And the good far outweighs the bad.  He looks forward to school and seems very confident. While I miss my little baby terribly, I am so proud of my school-aged boy.


Leave a comment

A Tough Day for Mom

tough-day-for-momToday is a tough day for me.  They just wheeled my baby to the operating room.  Literally, I am sitting in a room with tears rolling down my face, looking at the spot where my two-year-old once sat coloring and racing cars around his bed with me.  He was so brave and didn’t even shed a tear. In fact, he sat on his ‘race car’ bed as they wheeled him down the hall enjoying  watching Mickey Mouse with the staff member responsible for befriending the child and making the transition away from parents and into surgery as calm and pleasant as possible for the child.  By the time he left, he was actually looking forward to seeing the “play room with lots of blue stuff”— aka the operating room!  I, on the other hand have had a constant stream of tears (I did put on my brave face until he was out of sight).  Fortunately for us, it’s just a fairly simple outpatient procedure that he has to be sedated for—I am certain there are families here for far scarier reasons and procedures.

My heart feels like it has escaped from my chest as I sit here typing this. My son’s safety and well-being are in the hands of another and I lack control in a situation I so badly want to have control over.  I want to be able to be there through the whole surgery, but I can’t. I want to be able to fix it without the procedure, but I can’t. I want to suffer the pain of recovery for him, but I can’t. I can’t be the mom I want to be able to be right now, and that’s tough.

The nurses have assured me that he did great the whole way to the ‘play room’ and only cried when they went to put the mask on him to put him to sleep. Now I must sit and wait for a grueling (at least) 2 hours before they will return him to the room I am waiting for him in. At that point, his procedure will be complete and he will be awake. I know he is in great hands, but I just can’t help but feel helpless in a time when I feel like my son might need me the most—or maybe when I need him most.


1 Comment

Pumping Mama

Thoughts on being a working, pumping mamaThis is my second go around being a working, nursing, pumping mom.

My thoughts on that follow:

  1. It’s time consuming. We’re all busy. Home life is busy, work is busy, society in general is busy. Finding time is not easy. If you’re like me, you have found the ability to multitask while pumping: I can often be found writing work reports (or sometimes future blogs—where this one may have come to fruition) while my electric pump and hands-free pumping bra does the majority of the “work”!
  1. You’re tethered by a hose. Enough said.
  1. You may never feel sexy again. If you have ever seen what happens when a woman is attached to a pump, I’m certain you agree!
  1. It’s uncomfortable. For all you men out there reading this: it’s as uncomfortable as it looks.
  1. All you get is a storage room. If you’re like me, there is no designated space for a pumping mother at my work place. So, I get the pleasure of spending time in the storage closet in order to have some privacy. At least they let me keep a chair in there so I don’t always have to drag one in with me!
  1. Cleaning pump parts. You have just spent roughly 15-20 minutes pumping, do you really want to spend another 10 cleaning all the parts? If you’re like me you just throw them all in your cooler to save for cleaning later which, including all the bottles the baby used while you were away from them, leads to plenty of dishes every night.
  1. Your life is dictated by the schedule of your boobs. As if your life being dictated by a tiny human (or many tiny humans) isn’t tough enough. Skip a pump/feeding and the evidence will be there right on the front of your shirt.
  1. Car Pumping. For my job, I often travel around throughout the day. This means pumping must occur in my car. Not easy to do completely discretely. Thank God for hand-less pump bras and nursing covers!
  1. Lugging the pump and parts. EVERYWHERE. As if you don’t have enough to tote around by just having the baby. And what about those days you forget one little piece of the crazy contraption… ugh, guess you won’t pump that day (then you can refer to #7)!
  1. Counting ounces is stressful. Did I squeeze out enough? How much does the baby eat while I’m away? Should I try to pump a little longer? Ugh. The stress. And please tell me you did not spill a drop of that liquid gold!

Keep it up mama.  This too will pass.  And in some twisted way you might even miss it a little bit (like I did after I stopped nursing/pumping for my first—seriously though, now that I am back in the midst of it, what was I thinking?!) .

And even through all those undesirable and unattractive things that go along with pumping and nursing—there are a few positives that for me, outweigh my list above:

  1. Burn extra calories—who doesn’t love to eat an extra piece of candy every once in awhile!
  2. Decreased chances for breast cancer—I want to see the babies of my grandbabies and will do whatever I can to increase the chances of that!
  3. Ideal nutrition for my baby—I can even produce the antibodies my baby needs to fight off colds and give them to him through my milk. Wow—amazing!


2 Comments

Breastfeeding With an Audience

breastfeeding with an audienceThere is nothing quite like having a conversation about breastfeeding with an 8-year-old.

I’d just picked up Little Sister from her family child care provider. The daughter of one of her neighbors was playing outside and began asking me questions as I walked to my car. What was my name? What was my baby’s name? How old was she?

I was happy to oblige. Little Sister, not so much. While she’ll happily eat Cheerios and pears and peas, she largely refuses to drink milk from a bottle or cup. Consequently, I can’t get her settled for the drive home until she nurses.

As she fussed and tugged at my blouse, I explained to the girl that she was hungry and I needed to feed her.

“So she’s going to suck, like, right there?”

She pulled a sort of silly face and gestured with her hand at her own chest.

“She is,” I replied, trying not to make a big deal of it. If you’re a kid and you’ve never seen somebody nurse a baby before, it can seem pretty strange. I still think it’s odd sometimes, and this is my second baby.

But it was her next question that really made me smile.

“Was she born like that?”

“Yes. All babies can drink milk from their mama’s bodies or from a bottle. Some mamas choose to breastfeed and some choose to use a bottle.”

The nuances of supply and latch and the myriad other complications and considerations in that choice seemed like too much to get into, especially as there was nothing for it but to take a seat in my car and nurse Little Sister with an audience. I don’t typically like to regard her meals as teaching opportunities, but I do feel strongly that normalizing breastfeeding is important. It seems like most depictions of breastfeeding in broader culture are usually for shock value: problematic depictions of extended breastfeeding in Game of Thrones come to mind. It’s become normal for me, but this girl had no idea how it worked and was pretty obviously curious in a way only children can be. Even if I was a bit reluctant and embarrassed, I certainly wasn’t going to show it.

Because feeding my baby is nothing to be embarrassed about.


3 Comments

At a Loss for Words

preschooler makes dinnerI never realized how many times I would literally be at a loss for what to do as a parent. So often, Ev does something and I don’t know what to do or even say. For example, the other morning I was sitting at the table working on the grocery list for the week. Ev approached me and asked if he could make “soup” next to me. I didn’t see anything wrong with that so I said, “Sure.”

He proceeded to get a bowl and spoon out of the cupboard in the kitchen. Then he asked if he could get his “ingredients” for which I again, obliged. He started with salad dressings from the fridge: balsamic vinaigrette and thousand island. He continually brought more ingredients out, occasionally asking me for help to take off a lid or squeeze a bottle. He included caramel syrup and honey, two raw eggs and mustard to name a few. He remembered out loud that “grown-ups like salad” and went outside to pick some leaves to add to the “dinner” as he was now calling it. All this time, I was amused and even impressed with Ev’s concoction, not to mention I was able to work on my grocery list and other chores while he was busy. I did assume I was going to have to try it, which I was willing to do (and bracing for).

When Ev was finished, he asked to put the “dinner” in a casserole dish and bake it in the oven. Again, I allowed for it and told him the oven would have to pre-heat and it would take a long time and we should probably just be done. That’s when I realized the activity had snowballed into a territory I wasn’t prepared for. When I mentioned being done, he immediately looked disappointed. He said it was dinner and he wanted us all to eat it. He asked if I could put it in the microwave so it would cook faster. I said yes, put it in for three minutes, took it out and set it on the stove to cool, all the while wondering how I was going help Ev find closure on this without hurting his feelings.

The “dinner” sat out on the stove all day. He worked very hard on it and I could tell he was proud of himself. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him it was uneatable. I did not know what to do. In the end, I did what any self respecting mom would do—and let his dad handle it. My husband explained to Ev at bedtime that we couldn’t eat the “dinner” and it would probably be disposed of by the morning. And Ev seemingly handled it fine.

There is just no way to be fully prepared when you are a parent. In fact, sometimes I feel more out of control than in control. And there is always something causing me to wonder what the best parenting move is to make. I feel pretty confident that my husband and I are both decent parents, but it would be nice if Ev didn’t “keep us on our toes” all the time.


1 Comment

Two Years of Parenting Paradoxes

Birthdays are bittersweetIt happened. My baby turned 2. We celebrated the special day and I cried. I don’t even know why. Tears of sadness because he is getting older or tears of happiness because he is growing up?! I know—those are both pretty much the same thing— I’m confused too.

I actually feel like everything in my life related to being a parent is essentially one paradox after another.

It started in the hospital. Soon after my baby was born, the initial exhaustion of childbirth set in. All I could think about was taking a nap. Thankfully, I have an extremely helpful and supportive husband who encouraged me to do just that. He took care of the baby while I got the rest that my body so badly needed. Even to this day if I have had a long day at work or just need a little nap my husband encourages me to take a break and get the rest I need. Then I wake up and instantly feel guilty for napping and missing quality time I could have spent with my baby. The same goes for date nights, baby-free shopping trips and girls’ nights. I know I need a break from motherhood once in a while but I always feel guilty for missing the time I could have spent with him.

Nearly every evening I look forward to bedtime, practically counting the minutes down until we start the bedtime routine and I get to sit down and rest. Then, every night after I tuck him in and he falls asleep I miss him and have a strong urge to wake him back up.

I spend hours trying to make sure my son is clean and presentable when we go out in public, however I often end up leaving with food stains on my own shirt and my unwashed hair in a bun.

Sometimes all I want is a little bit of peace and quiet. Then I get the silence I have been praying for and instantly fear and concern set in and I go into a panic about why it is so quiet.

Nursing was a year-long commitment for me. As we neared the end of our breastfeeding journey, I felt a sense of excitement and joy. I couldn’t wait to have my body back. Then, after it was over and the milk had all dried up I was sad and longed to have him nurse again.

Every weekend I pray that my baby will sleep past 7:30 a.m. But, every time it happens, I lie wide awake in bed checking the baby monitor constantly and wondering if he is OK!

I looked forward to the day my baby could walk. Then the day came and I envied the days when he couldn’t walk and I could actually still catch him without breaking into a run myself.

I willed my baby for months to say “mama”. We practiced it often and celebrated when he said it. Now 90 percent of what comes out of his mouth is “mama, mama, MAma, MAMA, MAMA!!!” Ugh—why must he say my name like that over and over and over and over?

And seriously, how is it possible that every day I love him with the most love I could possibly love him, but the next day I love him even more?

Isn’t being a mother the most confusing thing you have ever done?!


Leave a comment

Real vs. Ideal

real vs idealChildhood is messy.

It seems like that really ought to be a given, but the lovingly curated play rooms of Pinterest, with their mint chevron accents, and the merry, candid family photographs complete with color-coordinated sibling ensembles insist otherwise. Just Google “nursery” and prepare to experience the parenting fail. You know the sorts of images I mean. While they can be really quite fun to deconstruct, they also dominate the cultural picture of contemporary childhood. With these pristine images in mind, it can be hard to reconcile oneself to the cat hair stuck to the baby’s watermelon dribbled chin, her romper dingy from scooting around on a floor you can’t remember mopping this month.

I try to be realistic about my mothering, but I’m also seriously enamored of the lovely, playful, ever-elusive aesthetic that seems like it should be attainable – admittedly with an unlimited budget and very few children around to muck it up. It’s just pretty. I arrange wooden toys for my girls to knock down. My husband and I built an a-frame tent that regularly collapses from too much rough play. Miss E could find a way to messily consume a bowl of dry cereal, let alone the ears to toes festival that is spaghetti and meatballs. I’m lucky if I brush her long hair in the morning, let alone sweep it artfully up with a bow that matches her dress… and her sister’s, too.

I have to learn not only to give in to the mess, but the kitsch, the chaos, the ugly stuff of childhood. Miss E dresses herself and is every bit the ragamuffin I was as a girl; a thin layer of grime persists on her hands, face, and clothes no matter how frequently I wipe her down. Some days she prefers a BPA-laden plastic trinket from the dollar store to her Waldorf-aspiring doll collection. Little Sister pukes her way through three outfits a day and is still inexplicably damp when we’re about to show ourselves in public. No amount of vacuuming – let alone what I’m willing to do – can keep their bedroom rugs from boasting glitter, lint, and icky tangles of shed hair.

I’m challenging myself to love these images of childhood, too, because they’re not an ideal. They’re real. They bear the indelible marks of play, of zeal, of little lives lived fully.

Besides, I’ll take a (chocolate) mint chevron smeared on a chubby, flushed cheek any day.