Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Changing on Purpose

Our little family lives with my Mom. She has been supportive and even proud of how DH and I have been parenting RJ. I think my parents did the best job they could with the circumstances and resources they were with in.

There are some definite things I wish I could change about how they parented and things that had happened in all our lives...But it's also easy for me to look back and go "gee I wouldn't have done that!". I am still a newbie to the ideas of Grace Based Discipline (also this site ) wrapping my mind around it- so different from the way I was raised- is a challenge. Especially when I am living with the person who raised me, who learned a lot in her years of raising 5 kids, but still has that old adversal relationship mindset. I want relationship with my children, I want to work on their heart not their behaviors. More on that later.

We are planning to stay with my Mom long term at this point. We lost my Dad a couple of years ago, and DH and I really really enjoy being with her. All my siblings are really glad we're with her as well since they know she's not in the big house all by herself and has some one to come home to after a long day.

With that said she's going to be around for a while most likely...And it is so hard to forge my own path and not worry about her opinions or reactions- and I'm sure even at times correcting how she's handling a situation with my daughter.

For example: this past weekend my 6 year old cousin was visiting A LOVED playing with RJ. At one point RJ had climbed up on a dining room chair and was sitting on her knees- A. started pulling the chair away from the table (my Mom was sititng next to them both on her laptop) and RJ turned and tried to reach for the table (that was too far away at this point) and she nearly fell (would have if my Mom hadn't caught her). A was just playing with her "cousin" giving her a ride, she didn't have any concept of what RJ understands. But my Mom turned to A and said "What in the world were you thinking??!".

Maybe it doens't sound like a big deal, but the tone of it- well my cousin was very embarressed - I didn't know what to say so I stayed silent- ergh! NOW looking back I know I should have said some thing like, "It's okay A- you weren't trying to hurt her, she's just really little and didn't understand the game- we'll have to help her hold on if you're going to play like that, okay?" I have a really hard time sound like I'm correcting my Mom. At least in that case becuase it was my cousin not my baby that was being corrected.

I know my Mom was mostly just reacting out of the fear that RJ almost got hurt... But it was her attitude towards my cousing. My cousin has feelings too, even if she is just a 6 year old. Maybe I felt this more keenly too because I am a really sensitive person and it's some thing I never felt like my Mom has embraced. I always felt my sensitivity was a weakness instead of strength- because my Mom would always try to toughen me up (in essence). "Stop Crying, it's not a big deal" (ergh I caught myself saying some thing simialr to this to RJ very recently). "Really Hannah, that is NOT necessary". Or as my Dad would put it "That's enough, DRY UP!". I felt like my tears and emotions were a bad thing and they embarresed me. Emotions are a beautiful thing, I think if you let a child express them fully as they need when they are little they are more likely to be able to express them approrpiately when they are older.

Also my Mom laughs at dd a lot, not in a mean way. But I'm trying to be really really careful in how and when I laugh at things. I remember being very hurt by being laughed at from a very very early age (probably younger than 2) and I'm scared dd will feel embarressed or have the same hang ups as I do/did. I am trying only to laugh when Ri is obviously trying to be silly, not to just laugh because she's cute (though some times it IS impossible).. It is really really hard to change these 2 things when around my Mom- she has the same attitudes as ever, and I am trying to forge a new path. It's really difficult.

I'm gonna have to close this post- more on it later...I've been trying to write it while RIley ran around on the back porch...I had to bring her in because she kept trying to climb up on the benches- there is no back to the benches so the climbing is extremely dangerous- I hate how our deck was designed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let's Talk About Feelings

This is some thing I've recently been learning the importance of, recognizing and naming your feelings and emotions. It's some thing I'm still trying to formulate in my mind, and hopefully writing this post will help. Maybe this seems basic, but honestly it's a life skill I've never aquired. And discovering it is really kind of exciting!!!!

I've always been embarressed of my emotions. Growing up I tended to be what my family called "dramatic", and I was often teased for my sudden outbursts of emotion. I had BIG emotions and people responded back to them in a big way. The message often conveyed was, "If you can't act presentable no one will want to be around you- leave".

It is true that you have to learn how to act appropriately in certain situations- there is a time and a place for things and even when venting and emotion there are certain limits needed. But the skill to use self control doesn't happen over night- and 2 and 3 year olds aren't know to have a lot of the self control! It's some thing that comes with maturity. If they are carefully taught the skill needed at that age- they will have a valuable life skill!

In an older child I understand the desire to respond withe a "that's sneough!!!". In all honesty, a long drawn out vent of anger/frustration is just plain annoying to listen to. And some one sobbing over a disappointment gets pretty old, pretty fast. BUT hearing out the vent, and reflecting the feeling being vented- will usually solve every ones problem- and if it doesn't it's okay to ask the child to go recollect themselves some where else... At least I think it is, some might disagree.

Like I said, all this is new to me (not new to many many people) but as I've been mulling over it I think 99% of the time arguments and spats happen because people are responding to the behavior (the angry yelling, sudden tantrum, loud outburst of sobbing), not what's BEHIND the behavior (sheer frustration, disappointment, hurt feelings etc.)

In middle/high school I can remember so many situations that would have ended better, between my parents and myself, they had just accepted my feelings about things and NAMED the emotions for what they were- emotions! I don't blame my parents, they didn't know any better- honestly the whole thing seems kinda gushy. I honestly can't imagine my Dad saying, "I can see you're feeling disappointed that we said no, I'm sorry but we needed more warning that you needed a ride to _________. Next time try to make plans in advance" haha really can't imagine it at all.

Or as a child when I started to throw a fit (which I quickly learned NOT to do because it resulted in a quick and sudden spanking) instead of stopping the behavior (the tanrum) I wish I had heard "I know you're angry that you don't get to ________. Instead of yelling about it try using words to describe the feeling." (<~~ Not a great example, I'm still learning exactly what I would have rather heard back than the spanking).

This is some thing I'm really trying to recognize in situations and take steps vent the emotions approrpriately- instead of bottling them. I've really been learning how much I've closed off myself from feelings- feelings aren't bad- it's what you do with them...And you can't know what to do with them untill you recognize and NAME them.

I think the biggest problem was that venting your emotions just wasn't allowed in our house growing up. If I cried in anger over some thing I was told "that's ENOUGH!!!!!", tantrums just plain weren't allowed to happen, a start of a tantrum restulted in "the look" and a threat (and often follow through) of a spanking or consequence. What did this teach me? What life skills was I really learning about handling my feelings and emotions. Well I learned that emotions were bad, and that they annoyed people, and were best stuffed deep down, un- named. I don't think that's what my parents were trying to convey, but that's what was conveyed.

I think I struggle with this part the most because I'm raising my daughter in the same house as my mother. Mom still has the same thoughts on tantrums as she did when I was growing up- they are unacceptable. I agree that tantrums aren't the best way to vent your emotions...But expecting a 2 (or 3, 4,) year old to immediately jump from this huge feeling that they don't know what to do with, to simply saying "I feel ANGRY" is just plain rediculous. They feel things with every ounce of their being, and it fills them up so much that their immature little self melts to the floor completely taken over by the feeling. They have to be consistantly and carefully TAUGHT how to recognize what the feeling inside IS...And WHAT to do with it.

I've been noticing this with my not quite 16mos old. This past week she has really upped the "reactions" (I wouldn't call them tantrums)... She is removed from some thing she shouldn't be doing, and she immediately goes limp in my arms and lets out a shrill yell. Instead of saying "RJ STOP!!" or thinking "I'm the parent! How dare she defy me?" I have been trying to get in her shoes- what is she feeling? What can I show her about this feeling, even at her young age? How can *I* as the grown up help? I'm still learning about reflecting- and honestly some times I just ignore the shrill yell and quickly distract her (she is only 16mos after all)- but I do try to name the feeling as often as I can "You're disappointed we had to leave the [grocery] cart. Let's wave 'bye bye' to the cart lets go find our CAR!!!! [in excited voice]" and I try to make a mental note not to swoop in with out warning or explanation in the future (RJ needs me to tell her I'm going to take her out of the cart- she really enjoys the ride- slow down and give her a warning).

Like I said, I'm still learning- and this post probably seems silly but I really think it helped me process it all.

I reallly need to write my "Mommy Missions Statement"- I am going to start drawing that up tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Better Mom Because Of Them

Soon after I found out I was pregnant with RJ I joined an online message board for Mom's due in January 2008 (she came early on 12/31). I would be ashamed to count how many hours I spent on that site hanging out with those Mom's. There was a core group of oh, twenty or so mamas, who were big time posters and we all got very close. It almost seemed silly how attached we all were, but most of us really didn't have much "IRL" (in real life) support so we kinda clung together. The majority of us were first-timers and had a lot of questions. The more experienced Mom's shared what they knew. It was a wonderful place, so comforting to know I wasn't alone! So nice to have a little community who was going through all the pregnancy discomforts at the same time as I was. Asking the same questions and researching the same things. Anticipating and preparing and waiting for our babies to arrive.

Then the babies startd to be born. There were a few preemies in November, we prayed for their safety and wrote notes of encouragement to the postpartum Mommies spending their days at the NICU while trying to recover from delivery and survived all the emotions and trauma involved with having a preemie. Then several (including RJ) arrived throughout December. And then the great big baby boom of them all (obviously) in January. A few trickled in when February arrived too. It was so fun to hear every ones birth stories, and work through and process our labor experiences together. It was a precious time, and I will always remember those ladies who went through and encouraged me through that huge "first" in my life.

Enter postpartum hormones. The board wasn't as fun. A difference of opinions on baby care and parenting really started to rally by the end of February. Mama's who I really had come to respect, did not have the same parenting philosophy as I did. We could agree to disagree, but that didn't change the fact that we no longer could relate like we had during our pregnancy.
"Battle threads" started, it really got very silly, and then one big dramatic dispute came up and a lot of people left. The whole thing completely blown out of proportion by hormones, sleep deprivation, and well...That probably was all that fueld it. Our lovely time was done.

I was sick of the drama so I joined another site with some of the Mom's who had regrouped and started our their own private board. I got very wrapped up in the new group- I loved the support and company. But it was really taking over too much of my life. By this time Riley was around 4 or 5 months old and she wasn't sleeping all the time or content to nurse while I was on the computer. I realized that it was time to step back and start weaning myself from my little online world, and start looking for real life mama friends and support. I made the decision one day, and took the dive and left the group quickly (so I wouldn't chicken out). I know some mama's were really hurt by this and confused. Especially when they saw that I was back on the old origional board for a few weeks... Mostly because I was at loose ends, I didn't yet HAVE any support and being a stay-at-home-mom to a baby gets very lonely. It was a rough adjustment.

What does all this have to do with any thing? Nothing really, I was just musing on all the different Mommies I have come into contact with. How thankful I am to have shared with them, learned from them, I have so many more tools in my "parenting tool box" because of their input. They were all were from different backgrounds, parenting philosophies, and geographic regions and I got the privledge of hanging out with them for almost a year. A year where I was really formulating what kind of a parent I was going to be. God really used them in my life to help me through the tranistion of becoming a Mother.

And now here I am with my second baby growing away inside me, and I don't even recognize myself from this time 2 years ago.

I guess I was feeling really naustoligc and thought I'd write a post to those Mom's... To all the Mom's who supported and encouraged me while pregnant with RJ, and to the new Mom's I've met on GCM and who I am learning from. I am thankful for you!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weaning Musings...

I was reading "Adventures In Tandem Nursing" last night reading the section where other mother's share their stories.

Some of the stories made me sad. Partly because this tandem adventure has been a lot more challenging lately than I was hoping it would be. As some one who has always (well not always but since becoming a Mommy) believed in unrestricted nursing it has been sad and hard to wean Riley back as much as I've had to. I never understood what Mom's were talking about or how a Mom could decide to wean their little one becuase of pregnancy discomforts. Whoa, big lesson in not judging untill you've walked a mile in their shoes! Though the Mom's who chose to do that, their babies were a lot older than mine...I hate that Ri is still so tiny and having to be cut back so much. At this age I know I couldn't purposefully say "okay I want her weaned by __________" I'm just taking it day by day and trying trying trying to enjoy what's left of this special aspect of our relationship.

I can only chalk it up to God's grace for how well she's doing- I never thought she'd be doing so well with the bit of nursing we're down to- which is naps and some times wakes ups, and a few short comfort sessions through out the day. It's a very very small part of our life at the moment- crazy to think how much of my life was spent nursing her this time last yera. Like night and day.

Night weaning just kinda happened, I mean I wouldn't say it's official, I will still nurse her at night if she really asks for it. After all I hadn't planned to night wean...I just couldn't stand nursing at night so I found other ways to respond to her- anything but being gnawed on! If I feel up to a bit of nursing I'll go ahead and do it...But my lack of prolactin (ie milk) makes me one mean mama - the sensation of nurisng is so freaking intense that I think I'll skip nursing unless I've gotten enough rest. I dont' like being so mean or feeling so crazy angry towards my precious baby.

It's so bittersweet to see our relationship changing...She wants to cuddle and be held more, some thing that never happened unless my breasts were involved...Well scrath that, they are still involved but more in that she wants to touch them (and my belly) and snuggle between them...Nursing for 30-90seconds popping off and cuddling and cuddling. I absolutely LOVE that! There are still the days when she wants to nurse a lot more than I can take, and I have to tell myself there is no reason to feel guilty about distracting her or offering a substitute. Nursing is what is important and I would be tempted to wean her completely if I wasn't able to set some limits so we can continue.

There are days that I'm afraid she will completely wean, or strike...But her ecstatic giggle and desperate little noises when we lay down together at nap time to nurse tell me she still really needs this...And that a need met will go away. She won't wean unless she truely doesn't need it any more, and I can rest in the knowldege that if weaning happens, it's because she choose it...And she's always (well with in reason) welcome to come back if she decides she wasn't ready after all.

Goober got hiccups and that's why I am writing this post at 3am... Gonna eat a bit more and hten see if I can get some more sleep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Real Quick

Just a quick post...I'm off to my 24 week prenatal with the midwife... I am not looking forward to getting weighed. At 24 weeks I have gained almost as much as I did with my entire pregnancy with RJ. :0( Ah well, goobie seem sto be healthy and I the weight gain has definitely slowed down the past 2 weeks, I finally caught on to the fact that since I'm not really producing milk (though still nursing several times a day) any more I needed to pull back my portions a lot- I am just so HUNGRY all the time.

Ah well, I don't feel absolutely huge- or as huge as I will come July/August I suppose... Goobie has the hiccups AGAIN... Goodness she (or he?) gets them A LOT.

I have a lot to share on here and I'm looking forward to it...Now if I don't close this NOW I will be late- I am trying to discpline myself to leave 10 minutes before I think I need to, that way I actually get out the door on time- it alway stakes twice as long as I think it's going to!