Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Teething Bites

My mom tells me I was a terrible teether.  I was in so much pain, the doctors misdiagnosed me with ear infections more than once.  My mother-in-law claims that my husband was the worst teether in a family of three children.  If you are good at addition, you can guess what that adds up to - the most miserable, nightmare of an experience cutting teeth.  I hear that some moms don't even realize that their kids are teething until they just happen to see one or two.  I have to say, when I am told this it makes me want to punch them in the face.  I am not a violent person by nature, but one who most likely has been up countless times the night before with an unhappy baby and who has permanent bite marks on her nipples.  You can understand where my aggression is stemming from.

Both of my children are decent sleepers,  but this fact is obliterated when a new tooth is on it's way.  Lucky for me, both kids started teething at an early age and the fun didn't stop with Jane until she was over two.  Sure, there are breaks here and there, and that is usually when they will catch a cold or the stomach flu.  My little guy has been on quite a tear lately.  He was sick for almost a month while simultaneously cutting two teeth.  The boy can multi-task and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it.

As a veteran of dealing with teething babies, I have learned some tricks along the way.  Namely, there are no tricks and if something works for you one night you can count on the fact that it won't work the next.  Truly, the only real solution to teething, at least in our house, is patience.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Are We There Yet?

My daughter was born 7 weeks early.  Right from the start I worried incessantly about her development.  Granted, I am a worrier by nature, but after spending my first 15 days as a mother in the NICU,  my anxiety reached a whole new level.  Due to her small birth weight, we were  included in a Neonatal follow-up clinic to track her progress.  In some ways this was a positive experience, but it was also feeding into my paranoia.  The checklists, the questions, the pressure. I understand the reasoning behind tracking a child's milestones, however, I feel like there can be too much emphasis placed on the timing in which they are achieved.  Also, quite frankly, some of them don't hold much merit.  I never crawled, and yet somehow am a functioning member of society.  My daughter was "late" to crawl, according to experts, both medical and self-appointed.  I tried not to worry about it, but it was all anyone asked about once she was about 8 months old.  As the months wore on and my response was still "not yet", the looks of pity I received would stir up a panic inside.  Why was she not crawling?  Was there something wrong with her?  Was I doing something wrong?  Then low and behold, at 11 months she was on the move.  After that I was able to breathe a brief sigh of relief before the next onslaught of pressure and questioning.  Is she pulling herself to stand?  Is she walking?  Many times, these questions were coming from people who weren't parents themselves, just in-the-know about gross motor development.  She began walking, finally, at 14 months and hasn't stopped moving since.  

I remember sitting with my mother in the NICU a few days after Jane was born and her telling me about a dream she had of Jane as a toddler, running around in the kitchen.  I just started to cry when she said this because I felt like it was a dream that I would never see.  This sounds very dramatic, I know this and admit that can over-dramatize, but it can be hard to have perspective when you are clouded with fear.  I wish I could have known then how quickly she would grow, how strong she would become (and perhaps always was), how fast she would run and how high she would jump.  We took our own time and a few extra miles to get there, but we are here now and I wouldn't change a thing.

You'd think that after having this experience I would be a little less stressed about milestones with my second child, born 4 weeks early, and I was....a little.  I still find the anxiety creep in when I am asked about what he's doing or when I compare him to others.  My husband is always telling me that I shouldn't worry about what others are doing, but the comparison is unavoidable with things like Facebook.  Isn't that what Facebook is - a place to show how much better you are doing than your friends?  Regardless, the pressure to compete is there and once again we are not leading the pack.  My son has been slightly ahead of Jane with rolling, sitting up and just started crawling a week shy of being 11 months old.  I must admit, part of me is thrilled that he is crawling, because it is all anyone has been asking me about.  Another part, the wiser, more rational side of myself, is a little bit sad because I know that he is on the fast track to growing up on me.  Being a mother, for me, is a constant struggle between wanting my children to move forward, but also wanting to hold on to them just as they are.  I am trying to be more present with them and celebrate what they are doing and who they are today and not worry so much about pushing them towards tomorrow.  I know that tomorrow will always come and that I will be wishing for yesterday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ready, Set, Go

I became a mother almost three years ago and my second child is about to celebrate his first birthday.  I may not be as seasoned as some, but feel as though I have some insight into the world of motherhood.  I am currently on maternity leave and therefore deeply immersed in my role as a mom.  I would like to be clear that I do not think that by staying at home I am in any way superior in my mothering, merely that I am consumed by it as I have nothing else going on.  It is the hardest thing I have done, there are many days when I dream longingly of my "old life", but there is still no where else I would rather be.

The word race can mean many things, but most commonly we use it to describe "a family, tribe, people, or nation, believed or presumed to belong to the same stock; a lineage; a breed." as well as, "competitive action of any kind."  The idea of mothers as a breed or a family of women sounds very inviting and supportive.  Although we, as mothers, are connected by so many shared experiences the competition and "race" between women remains.  The race to get pregnant, to gain the least amount of weight, and then to lose the weight.  The race to sleeping through the night, crawling, walking, talking, toilet training, and the list goes on.  To once again quote Jamie Lee Curtis, from one of my daughter's favourite books, "Why are we racing and what are we winning?".  The pressure that we place on one another and on ourselves can become overwhelming.  I am very aware of this race and try hard to stay away from it, but it can be difficult to ignore.  My goal is to talk openly and honestly about my life as a mom, the things I struggle with, things that I have found success with and things that make me happy.  It is my hope that I can continue to resist the inclination to race and slow down with you for a million-way tie for first and last.

I am not sure how this blog will evolve, but I am excited to share it with you.

I would like to acknowledge that in starting this project I have been influenced by the thoughtful work of my friend and fellow mom, Leah Dillon, author of the wonderful blog TOUT(  Check it out today and every day.