I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.

My little guy has been a great helper lately. It is so nice to see him so proud of the things he can do. He’s dressing himself, using the potty, putting on his shoes, helping me cook. Last night he put the forks on the table for dinner – one at each place – and then, on his own accord, he opened the drawer, got the knives (not the super-sharp-poke-your-eye-out ones) and set them at our places. He then carried his full plate to his place. The kid is 27 months old. And it is little stuff, but it made him feel capable and important. I like that. And I like him to feel that way.

I learned recently that the ramp-up to preschool in New York City is kind of hysterical. Now, granted, NYC is its own world. I daresay the majority of the folks I know there – all super successful Manhattanites – have nannies for their children, or are SAHMs (or some combo). That is the norm, for many reasons. Kids grow up very differently there than they do here. However, the ramp-up for half-day preschool included:

  1. The application/acceptance insanity (know anyone who lives there? Ask them about it. When my nephew was born there in April, my husband sent a text message to the new dad saying, “Congratulations on L’s arrival! Sorry to say, you have been rejected from every preschool in NYC because your application was not timely.”);
  2. A home (!) visit by the teacher;
  3. An individual family visit to the school;
  4. A first full week of half half-day preschool – which would be quarter day? which would be 2 hours long?
  5. On the first day, the school provides coffee to the parents, and the parents are required to stay in the school lobby for the entire half-half day.

And don’t get me started on the fundraising, bake sales, etc.

I’m not a push-my-kid-off-the-dock-to-teach-them-to-swim kind of parent. I try to kindly and gently ease my kids into new situations. I try to take temperament, age, and development into consideration. I try to be reasonable in my expectations, positive and honest. That being said…

I do have expectations. I expect that my kiddos will face challenges, new people, new places, and things they find scary. And while I want them to know that I am always there for them, they also need to know that I might not always be there with them. And that’s okay. Because they’re okay – better than okay – and in almost every situation they can adapt, survive, integrate, and surmount their fears and anxieties. I want them to be able to be proud of doing things for and by themselves. Because, after all, isn’t helping to create a capable, functional and productive member of society one of the most basic things we’re striving for as parents?

Yes, NYC is different. The classroom setting that my kids have been used to since +/- 6 months old is new to a lot of NYC kids. And my NYC mom-friend is looking forward to meeting the other parents on that first day; that makes sense to me.

But we need to give those kiddos more credit. Have a meet-the-teacher/see-the-classroom/meet-the-parents Open House, then off to the races. I know in my heart that most of those doodlebugs can handle 3.5 hours of a new place, other kids, and adults who are new to them. And they can handle it without their parents sitting in the lobby.

Some of you might wonder why we shouldn’t ease the kiddos in gradually if we have the opportunity. Why? Because life doesn’t usually work that way.

Give them a chance to experience new things, sometimes uncomfortable things, on their own. Give them a chance to be their own people – little people who are learning to be adaptable, resilient and capable. Give them a chance to own their new experience. Give them a chance to be proud of the things they can accomplish. Today it is velcro shoes, knives on the table, and four hours at preschool. Tomorrow, the world.

Helping Dad with Lawn Care (or rather, Dirt Care)

Daycare Translations…

SENSITIVE

What the teacher says, “Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was a little sensitive today.”

What the teacher means, “Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was a disasterous, inconsolable, screeching, whiny, crying mess today, and got on every last one of my nerves.”

Ten toddlers every day?  I think I’d be pretty sensitive.

Daycare Translations…

FRIEND

All of the cute little pickles are referred to by name until there is an “incident report.”  On the incident report, they are referred to only as “friend”.

Examples:

“Today, Mr. Pickle Pumkpin’s friend bit him.”

“Mr. Pickle Pumpkin’s friend hit him in the head with a truck.”

Some friend!

We’ve asked him to point out the perpetrators in his class photos, but toddlers are notoriously unreliable witnesses, even if they, themselves, are the victims of the crime.

 

Mama Time!

Sigh.

I needed a day like today.  And I’m not going to feel any mommy guilt about it.

Happy Full Term to me!  37 weeks today.  I still can’t believe it.  Until my heartburn kicks in, the Plum Baby wiggles, I try to hoist myself off of the couch or walk, etc.

Sidenote: Clearly the heartburn is making an impact not just on me, but on my son. He has started imitating me burping.  No joke.  It is at the same time hysterical and terrifying. He says, “Mama, brrrap!”  Awesome.  Really.

Anywho…

I dropped Mr. Pickle Pumpkin off at daycare – and then, I did whatever I wanted to do.  Except nap.  I didn’t fit in a nap.  And I didn’t do anything exciting.  But the day was all mine.  And it was sunny.  And I drove here and there and listened to the radio.

I got myself some breakfast.  I got myself a NEW PHONE.  (Hooray!  Though, I now need a new computer too.  Typical.)  The new phone was a gift from my sister, and I think I am now in love with an electronic device.  J’adore!  Next, I went to the Carter’s outlet and bought Plum Baby two new bring-me-home outfits – one in pink and one in blue (okay, I got a few more things too).  I took myself out to lunch at a place that has the world’s best non-alcoholic beverages with free refills (I drank my weight in yumminess, for reals), I ran some errands, I did a little laid-back grocery shopping.  I got myself a huge bunch of beautiful organic raspberries (yum), a new book and 4 scratch tickets (cheap ones, but it still felt like a bit of an indulgence).  I took a long shower.  I picked Mr. Pickle Pumpkin up early.  I had a nice dinner with my parents.  They sent me home with leftovers (score!), and Mr. Pickle and I had some nice cuddle time before bed.  I made hubby some homemade mac and cheese, paid some bills, and I’ll go to bed early.

I WIN!

I didn’t install blinds, or do any laundry, or clean.  And I didn’t go to work.

I should do this a few times a year.  I think it is is certainly restorative.  And probably makes me a better mama.

And in more good news… my own mom is feeling better, Bethanny Ever After is back, AND I have a haircut scheduled for this week.  Win, win, win! Stay put a few more days Babykins!

Maybe I’ll ask Siri when I’m going to deliver…

Just One Day…

I may get a day – or at least a big chunk of hours – to myself on Monday.  I will guiltily drop Mr. Pickle Pumpkin at daycare and do a few things for me.  Maybe.  Probably. Hopefully.  In reality, I will probably go into work to get some things accomplished before my impending maternity leave – that will reduce my stress level the most. But the dream of a few hours of leave got me thinking… what would I do, if I had the day to myself?

Day To Myself – The Fantasy

1. Wake up peacefully after a long uninterrupted sleep.  No alarm, no toddler screeching “Mama” in his best death metal voice (seriously, how did he learn to do that?).

2. Have a full cup of tea. While it is still hot.  Check my e-mail.  And anything else I’d like to check online.  Slowly.  While watching “Good Morning America”.

3. Take a very hot shower.  Slowly.  Use face wash, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Exfoliate AND shave. Slather on my expensive, lovely, perfect body cream when done.  Put on a robe. Lounge for a few minutes.  Do my hair. Put on makeup.  Get dressed.

4. Drop off my shoes (needing new stitching) at the cobbler, and my coats (covered in toddler yick) at the dry cleaner. Then go to the local bakery, and enjoy a scone and the newspaper.

5. Take a stroll around the downtown.  Peek in some shops.  Perhaps pick up some fun new item at the gourmet shop, and definitely get some stinky delicious cheese to enjoy later.

6. Mani/pedi and facial.  Throw in a massage for good measure.

7. Stop in for a late lunch/appetizer – maybe something with beets, or calamari – and a fruity mocktail somewhere hip, posh and perfect.  Sit at the bar, nosh, and read a trashy magazine about the Teen Moms.

8. Quick trip to the department store to pick up a new purse, since I really really need a new one.  One that isn’t also a diaper bag.

9. Stop by the cell phone store and upgrade.  It’s time for my phone to go from dumb to smart.

10. Trip to the stationery store to browse cotton-y soft letterpress, and clever cards.  Order some new, personalized stationery while I’m there.

11. Pick up dry cleaning and shoes.  Go home and marvel at my sparkling house – thank heavens for house cleaners!

12. Nap.  On clean, crisp sheets.  In the sun. For as long as I need/want.

13. Go see a critically acclaimed movie at our fabulous local theater.

14. Return home, refreshed to my husband (who has picked up Mexican take-out!) and my dear little boy.

Day to Myself – The Reality

1. Thanks to my cranking pregnancy kidneys, wake up to pee at midnight, 2am, 3am, 4:30am and then toss and turn until just finally getting out of bed at 5:30.

2. Realize I have no tea left.  Settle for a K-cup I’ve avoided drinking.  Check my e-mail, and decide to pay bills and revisit our finances.  At 6am.  Panic.  Waddle downstairs to put some laundry in.

3. Take a shower.  Attempt to shave my legs. Give up.  Belly is too big.  Settle for armpits, and call it a win.  Forget to exfoliate.  Cut shower short, since washing machine is sucking up all the hot water. Decide to save luxurious moisturizer for another day, since I can’t reach all my dry parts anyway.  Brush my hair, consider that good enough – who am I going to see anyway?

4. Figure out I need cash for the cobbler, dry cleaner and bakery.  Go to the most convenient ATM, which is not my bank, and pay $4.50 in fees.  Revisit finances panic from earlier in morning.  Promise myself not to be so dumb in the future. Decide not to spend the money on coat cleaning after all – hey, I can’t see the toddler yick, it is on my back and shoulders.

5. Stroll the downtown at a waddling snail’s pace.  Exhausted, decide to turn around before I reach the gourmet shop – it’s just too dang far.  And I’m not supposed to eat stinky cheese anyway.

6. Cancel the manicure, massage and facial (finances, you know! Must be responsible!)  Get the pedicure anyway, convincing myself that it is a medical expense.

7. Run into an old boss and an old boyfriend.  Wish I had done my hair, put on some mascara and didn’t have toddler yick all over my coat.

8. Stop back at home for a second to switch loads of laundry.  Decide I’m starving, forgo posh lunch, and eat leftover Annie’s Mac & Cheese out of the container while standing by the fridge.

9. Do just a few of the dishes, which leads me to notice that something has been dripping off of the counter and onto my white cabinets, which leads me to cleaning them, and then the floor, and then the stove.

10. Congratulate myself on all the money I’ve saved – no  housekeeper, no dry cleaning, no new phone, no stationery, no new purse!

11. Lament my dirty house (except the kitchen cabinets!), dirty coat, and lack of phone, stationery and purse.

12. Nap.  With a cat on my head. On an unmade bed.  Since my sheets are in the dryer.  Drool all over my un-pillowcased pillow.

13. Sleep through the movie start time.  Flip channels instead.  Get annoyed at Nate Berkus.  Check bank account hoping for some magical windfall.  Find none.

14. Get a call from daycare – Mr. Pickle Pumpkin has pink eye?  Sweet.  Pick him up early.  Call doctors.  Call work and tell them I won’t be in tomorrow.  Call husband, give him status update.  Attempt to feed Mr. Pickle mac & cheese for dinner, realize I ate it. Settle for toaster pizzas, which give me heartburn.  Welcome a late-arriving husband home from work.  Go to bed, knowing that I will be up again to pee in 90 minutes.  The end.

I Just Want a Dang Haircut

You know that stomach bug from a while back?  Yeah, it is still rearing its ugly head.  Thankfully, my household is well, however it has taken a firm hold of my mother who has since developed diverticulitis, which has developed into an abscess on her colon.  She needs surgery.  Probably this week.

I’ll admit, I feel bad.  I feel bad, not just because she’s sick, and needs surgery and that is scary, but because I’m a little too tough and suggested she “suck it up” or “walk it off” a few times too many.  Although I didn’t use those terms exactly.  But I am not nice enough when it comes to that kind of thing.

I also feel bad, literally, because I ate a McDonald’s hash brown this morning.  What a terrible idea.  I’m blaming pregnancy cravings, and need no convincing to never eat one of those things again.  They aren’t good.  They are barely edible.  And one big lump of greasy potatoes is now lingering in my stomach and making me nauseous.  Lovely.

Warning: major whiner alert.

I also feel bad because I feel selfish.  While I want my mom to be healthy and well, it is hard for me stop thinking about the wrenches this has thrown into my life and schedule.  Work is crazy; I’m revving up for maternity leave, and the rest of my workload hasn’t stopped (did I get a 21 item to-do list today from a boss?  I did.)  Tax season is hard when you’re married to a CPA.  Tax season is harder when you’re married to a CPA, have a toddler to wrangle and work full time.  Tax season is even harder when you’re married to a CPA, have a toddler to wrangle, work full time and are 9 months pregnant.  So yeah.  The wrench of a parental surgery is hard too.  Especially since Mom is scheduled to provide some childcare in the next few weeks and when baby arrives.  Thankfully, we have other family around – and they are helpful and awesome.  Thankfully, the surgery will be pretty minor.  Thankfully, I am not due to pop for 4 weeks (though Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was born at 37+ weeks, so…).  Thankfully, daycare is flexible, and he can drop in if we need him to.  I’ll admit, in the grand scheme of things, the wrench is small, and the thankfulness is large.

But today is Monday, perspective comes a little harder, and I just had to cancel the 2 things I was really looking forward to before baby arrives and I become a sleep-deprived human milk machine for the next few months – a haircut and a pedicure.  And – adding insult to injury – I have gift certificates for both.  Somehow I felt like labor and delivery would be a little better if I could look down into those stirrups and see pretty pink toes peeking back.  And fitting in mama haircuts has become a near impossibility.  I’m not looking like a featured photo on “People of Walmart” yet, but it is getting close.

So… today’s goals?

– Allow myself a bit of frustration and stress

– Buy some clips or ponytail holders or something to tame the madness

– Go eat some Tums and drink a cup of peppermint tea.  Urg.

– Cross at least 7 items off of my to-do list

– Keep some perspective

Moses supposes his toes's are roses...

Second time’s a…

All it takes is a back spasm, some painful pelvic separation, oodles of heartburn, and one exhausted Mama to wonder if this second baby was a good idea.

Here’s where I say the stuff you expect me to say, and the stuff I truly mean, but have kind of forgotten these last few weeks: Yes, I am excited.  I am thrilled to welcome a new little one into the family. Yes, I remember the magic and amazingness of carrying this little wiggly wonder every time I feel a kick.  Yes, I realize how very fortunate we are.  I love the little Plum Baby in my belly.  I am glad we made this choice, and the universe complied.

Okay, now that that’s over…

I’m kind of stressing out here.

The anxiety dreams have started.  They include selling the gold post in my dental crown.  Leaving Mr. Pickle Pumpkin in the car for hours.  World annihilation. Nuclear winter.  You know, happy stuff.

I feel, like most moms I think, like I’m running on fumes a lot of the time. Like I’m forever searching for that elusive thing called balance.  I know I can handle two.  I know people handle more.  I know people handle a lot more… with far fewer resources and much less support.  But it doesn’t mean it isn’t scary for me.  I know I sound like a whiner.  But today, I’m just… so… tired.

I’m just finally getting the hang of one little doodlebug.  We’ve got a little routine going.  He’s turned into such a neat human.  Now I’ve got to meet and learn and know a new little person?  A new, very needy little person who will undoubtedly be routine-less for a long time?  Sounds daunting.

I still have no idea how we’re going to pay for kiddo-care.  Mama’s got to work if we want health insurance.  But quality childcare – even part-time – is a huge budget item.  A budget buster, really.  How am I dealing with this?  I’ve decided the best course of action is to put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes, and yell “LA! LA! LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” really loudly. That will make the whole budget buster problem go away, right?

I’m a little more worried about all the medical stuff that can go wrong this time around.  I’m not any more aware of the complications than last time, but this time around I’m already a mom and there’s a kiddo here I worry about leaving motherless when I decide to really let myself consider the worst case scenarios (which thankfully, isn’t too often.)  It is just a little scarier this time around.

So I’m trying to figure out how to relax, and – like The Beatles and then my own mama always says – “let it be.”  I’m open to suggestions…

Daycare Characters – Part 2

Title: The “Something’s Off” Mom

Physical characteristics: Well put together. Appears organized, coiffed, calm.  Children are well-behaved, well-groomed and well-dressed.

Qualities: Smiles sweetly. Not very chatty. Drives a mini-van with a curiously inappropriate bumper sticker, that reads something like, “Back off or I’ll flick boogers on your windhsield!” or “If you’re going to ride my ass, at least pull my hair!”  One fashion element per day that is baffling and not at all in keeping with her otherwise well-kept appearance – examples: a hair snood, orange lipstick.

Pros: Really fun to see what fashion choice she will make each day.

Cons: Ten minutes of valuable sing-along-with-the radio-on-the-way-to-the-office time spent quietly pondering 1) what exactly she was thinking when she got dressed and ready in the morning and 2) where she buys her lipstick.

Daycare Characters – Part 1

Title: The Chatty Dad

Physical characteristics: Attractive, may or may not have dimples, usually with a cutesy nickname that is some derivation of his last name (‘”Macky” for MacAlister, “Smitty” for Smithman). May or may not have his nickname on his license plate.

Qualities: Strong handshake, gift of gab, occasionally tells stories that the listener has a hard time figuring out the point of, high potential for over-sharing family matters or issues.

Pros: Not schmoozy, kind of endearing in a Golden Retriever kind of way, always smiling.

Cons: Tendency to want to gab long enough that he makes you late for work, over-sharing can lead to uncomfortableness.