I want to start by saying, I have struggled with whether or not to write on this topic. However, at this time, my blog is not read by many and is more or less an outlet for my creativity and thoughts. It’s also pretty light-hearted. That being said, I decided to proceed. I’m sure there are other blended families that deal with similar situations, who can relate.Continue reading
In this blog’s short existence, the most talked about the topic has been my daughter’s sleep habits. Or lack thereof. Back in January, I wrote about how my husband had started to sleep train Quinn. There were a few rough nights. The plan was I wasn’t allowed to go to Quinn if she woke. Only my husband could. If she woke crying my husband would rub her back, talk to her, soothe her, and, sometimes, he’d give her a bottle. Yeah- a bottle at bedtime. Sue us. Taking the bottle away at bedtime is a separate battle. (Which since turned out not to be much of a battle. More on that later). While my husband sleep trained Quinn, her sleep habits changed dramatically. She woke much less and for very short periods of time.
After a few semi-regular entries, I thought I was finally getting the hang of this blog thing. Wrong.
Life is busy. And exhausting. Even more so with a little one who doesn’t sleep well. Her sleep habits went from not so great to pretty bad to awful. My evenings were spent holding her and ultimately taking her to bed to co-sleep. Zero time to myself. Continue reading
Today marks one week since Asher went back to school and I’m still feeling guilty over an event that transpired the morning of his first day. It’s likely it has had zero effect on him and he has already forgotten. Yet, the guilt is there and I’ve learned yet another lesson. I feel motherhood never stops teaching you what it really important.
First Day of School
As parents, many of us make a huge production out of the first day of school. Although, I think that’s another fact of life brought to us by social media. Pretty sure before facebook and cell phone cameras were around, kids were just thrown on out the door and onto the bus. But thanks to Pinterest we now feel the need to take 132 photos with a sign stating the date, their age, grade, and favorite foods.
Approximately two weeks before the first day school, it occurred to me that Asher didn’t yet have a “first day” outfit. I picked up an orange Chaps polo, from Kohl’s, that was on ridiculous clearance for like $7.00. And an even less expensive pair of navy shorts from Target. Summer in western New York has been a scorcher this year and the first few days of school were going to be the same.
I knew the red and black sneakers my husband let him pick out wouldn’t match. I’m not a fan, but whatever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been the one to pick out almost every pair of shoes he’s worn the last few years, with the exception of a cute pair of brown leather dressier boots that my husband picked up last fall. (A+, husband!) So, a few days before the start of school, I grabbed two pair of fresh slip on canvas sneaks for him to wear with shorts on the warmer days. They are identical to two pair he already owns and loves, but cleaner. I had told my husband, “I’ll grab size ones”. He said the sneakers he just bought him were thirteens. I couldn’t remember if the slip-ons I’d bought previously ran small or big and Asher was visiting his Mom, so I made the shopping trip solo and bought size thirteens.
Fast forward to the first day of school. (Asher returned home at 7pm the evening before). Asher gets dressed and is lookin’ spiffy. He brushes his teeth. I put a little gel in his hair so he’s extra spiffy for his first day and he then heads to his room to put his shoes on. And as I’m scrambling to finish packing Quinn’s diaper bag and my lunch it hits me that he has not tried the shoes on. And this kid has a lot to say about how shoes fit. And then my fears are confirmed- the shoes are too small. So, he comes out with the red and black sneakers on with his orange blue outfit and my vision of first day perfection is shattered and I turn into a much less dramatic version of “Mommie Dearest”. I said, “Nope. No way. You look ridiculous”. I told him he could wear the khaki and orange pair of boat shoes (that he tried on and OK’d last year, wore a few times, then boycotted because they were “too big”). He tried them on without a fight but said he didn’t like them. I expected this, because of his boycotting them the previous year but told him, “They will be fine for one day”.
I continued finishing up morning routines and hear my husband puff, “Fine- just wear whichever are comfortable”. After Asher had been dramatically throwing himself on the floor and whining. (Yeah, he’s 7.) So, because of his behavior, which wasn’t that of a seven year old, I walk in his room and more or less tell him to suck it up, it’s not the end of the world, and be a big boy. He’s balling at this point. I calmly tell him how ridiculous this is, explain we will have new shoes, to wear on the hot days, by the next day and this isn’t the end of the world. He calmed down, his tears were wiped, and we get ready to head outside for blotchy faced pictures. Just then, I see the bus approach…fifteen minutes before we are expecting it. Shit. Asher’s mother, who was also expecting the bus later, wasn’t at our house, yet. Just as we are running outside, we see her pull in. My husband and I looked at each other knowing this spelled disaster. When we saw the bus, I thought we were in the clear. Not that we want her to miss his first day of school, but knew that if she pulled in at this instant, the tears would start again. We’ve been there before. He lays it on as thick as he can for her and then she coddles him, making the situation a thousand times worse. Every.Single.Time. Without her there, we’d take hurried pictures of him in front of the bus and he’d be on his way. But no, that’s far to easy and the universe had other plans, probably to teach me the lesson I’ve learned from this very day. So, my husband waved the bus on, knowing she loops back by later. As expected, Asher had a ridiculous sob fest enabled by his Mother. He eventually got through it. We managed a slew of pictures and he got onto the bus with a smile on his face once it returned.
It wasn’t until I got to work that this deep feeling of regret came over me. Was it really worth that? Was it worth starting his first day of school off in tears? He just wanted to wear his brand new (ugly) sneakers that he picked out. That’s all. He’s 7. Just because we want him to look nice as a representation of ourselves, doesn’t mean his happiness should suffer. He’s a kid. I sat there that morning telling him it wasn’t a big deal, yet I was the one making a big deal out of it. I apologized that evening and the next day I laid out a red star wars shirt with dark shorts that he could wear his brand new red and black sneakers.
He has since worn those sneakers each day he’s been with us. They have yet to match an outfit. The socks my husband picks out to go with them are too tall and look silly with his shorts. But, that’s okay. He loves them. I’ve had my days as a kid. He deserves to enjoy his. He’s happy and that’s the only thing that matters in this world.
But I still hate those shoes.
I dropped Quinn off at her sitter’s this morning as I always do. It was a beautiful ride in this morning. The sun was bright and the clouds were fantastic. When I stepped in the house with Quinn I saw one of Asher’s t-ball teammates who isn’t always at the sitter’s.
With a big smile, making her dimples more pronounced, she said, “How come Asher didn’t come?!” Before the words even met my lips, I knew her response would reflect her confusion. “He’s at his Mom’s today.” She scrunched up her face as if to say, “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout Willis?!” But instead said, “But you’re his Mom!”
And there it was. I’ve been in this position so many times before. It’s not unusual for people to think I’m Asher’s biological Mother. His father and I are at every school event and sporting event. Winter, spring, summer, fall. We are there. We are friends with the other parents, we communicate with his teachers, and all the kids know who we are. We are involved. I don’t know why it felt so awkward as I stumbled to find an explanation for a six year old. I simply could have said, “No. I’m not his Mom”. But that’s not the case, either. I’m not the Mom, but I am a Mom. And though I’ve said it thousands of times, I’m not trying replace his Mom, there is always a guilt associated with the thought of denying him as my own.
As I drove to work after leaving the sitter’s, the awkwardness passed and I was flooded with feelings of happiness and pride. I’m doing it right. Whatever it is. Nothing matters other than doing what is right for our kids and our family. The fact that I don’t stick out like a sore thumb as a “Step Mom” means I 100% care for Asher as my own. I treat him no differently than I would had I birthed him. I don’t need validation from the dozens of people who regulaly mistake me as his birth mother, but it is a nice pat on the back and reminder that I’m doing okay.
Asher yearns for the approval of his Mother. So, he clings to any miniscule glimpse of an effort on her part. It can feel defeating to care and do so much, only to be pushed aside and have efforts go unrecognized while someone who is hardly involved gets all the praise. But then I remember he’s seven years old. And I’m not doing all that I do for myself or for recognition. I’m doing it for him. Amd though he may not appreciate it now, one day he will.
Having the time to reflect today made me realize that as much as it feels like we’re screwing the whole parenting thing up- we are actually doing a really great job at making a family and loving home for our children.
We spend so much time building our kids up that we sometimes forget we could use a little lift ourselves. Just keep chugging, parents. You have got this.
I just reread the previous blog post in which I was swimming in sweet moments of a sweet smelling, sleeping baby.
The last few days haven’t been nearly as sweet. In fact, there were many moments in which I lost all composure. A far cry from the picture previously painted. Which brings me back to the blog, it’s name, and I why I started it. Stepping stones. We will get through this (and likely move onto another obstacle). Life isn’t always rainbows and roses. I need to remember it doesn’t last. This blog will remind me of that when I need reminding.
It seems each time Quinn makes strides in the whole sleep/bedtime routine, she gets sick or has shots and we regress. She used to sleep for four hours her first stretch (this was very brief) and then wake every two hours after that. I’d dream feed her and put her back down. Since then, we have had periods in which she’d wake each time she would roll to her belly. Then she began rolling to her belly as soon as you put her down. This led to a lot of co-sleeping; something we are quite used to as this sleep battle is a constant back and forth game of progress and struggle. Quinn then spent quite a few weeks sleeping in her rock’n’play until she started rolling over in it and it became unsafe.
Now, she sleeps mostly in her crib but wakes so often. She had a night where she only woke twice and I swear, angels sang. I was refreshed and woke up without bags under my eyes. And that was it. One night. She recently had a fever for five days. Hell. Pure hell. Since then, bedtime has been a nightmare. She wakes every forty to sixty minutes with a rare two hour stretch here and there. She only wants to nurse to sleep, which is fine. I’m trying to ween her, but you choose your battles. Except, now she wants the boob at nap time as well. I have been strictly night nursing for about six weeks. So day time nursing is not going to happen, little lady.
The last two days have been almost torture as far as sleep is concerned. Thankfully, she allows my husband to put her down for naps. Bedtime is out of the question. It’s a Mommy only job, according to Quinn. But now she has been giving me hard time as well.
After a very unglamorous night and morning, I’m finally feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the sleeping hurdles, again. My husband put the baby down for her morning nap and I slept for two hours myself. He put her down for her second nap and I snuck in another thirty minute nap for myself before having to finally get ready for the day.
We went to our niece’s graduation party and Quinn was happy as a clam. This is unusual. Any time we have a family gathering to attend, Quinn screams the entire time. Don’t look at her and definitely don’t touch her. It’s less than enjoyable for everyone. But not this time! Mommy had herself three glasses of wine while Quinn made her rounds with family members. Again, angels sang. I may have as well.
That’s all I needed. A couple of naps and a few glasses of wine and adult conversation. I can handle another seven months.
Quinn has been asleep for almost forty minutes, now. While I hope she sleeps at least another two hours before waking, I’ll be okay if she doesn’t. We will get through this. Thanks to wine, naps, and this blog for reminding me of this.
It was 6 am, last Saturday morning, when I rocked Quinn back to sleep, in her room, while nursing her. Her room is the most beautiful room in the house in the morning. It’s one of the only rooms with an east side window. It was quiet as everyone else was sleeping. The soft sunlight in her room, combined with the sound of ocean waves coming from her sound machine, was so tranquil. And instead of impatiently counting the minutes, like I so often do, I just stared at her.
She’s so big. When did she get so big? Her legs are hanging off my lap. And then it hit me…this could be the last time I have this moment. Okay, so maybe this time won’t be the last. She’s not quite ready to let go of the boob, yet. But I am trying to ween her and when the last time does come, I may not even realize it was the last. I get sad. It’s all such a blur. The time is flying by and before I know it she will be turning a year old. Thinking back, I barely remember our first days and weeks together. I know that’s normal, but it’s heartbreaking. I want to take time more often to remember these moments.
So, I took a picture. (Well, I took like a dozen. Let’s face it- it takes at least that many before getting one good enough to keep). Then, I stayed and rocked her a little longer. With my eyes closed, I sniffed her and listened to her breathing.
I cherished that moment. One I hope to never forget.