I’ve barely had time to sit down this month, let alone blog or clean my house or grocery shop or do much of anything except pack and leave. Basically, we’ve been living out of a suitcase all month. Here’s why:
The Peabody Ducks
Memphis – We took a road trip to Memphis to visit my husband’s cousin and aunt. The rest of the family from WI also traveled the same weekend so it was a family reunion of sorts. I love his family, but Memphis with a toddler is BORING. You can’t go to bars to listen to live music with a toddler (and that’s pretty much all there is to do there). Instead, we walked around Beale Street during the day and admired the clubs from the sidewalk, we took M to the Peabody Hotel to see the duck parade (which was adorable and she loved it), and we spent time hanging out with all the aunts and cousins. It was a long drive for a short visit, but it was nice to see family.
Miami – I won an award at work and my reward was to go on the annual Sales Leaders Trip. Basically, it was an all-expenses paid trip for me and the husband for three nights at the Ritz in Key Biscayne, Miami. It was amazing. Fancy dinners, drinks, music, a nice awards banquet where all the winners were individually recognized, the ocean (amazing!), pool time and relaxing. Aaaaah.
Water park fun
Sheboygan – I was dreading this trip. My mom wanted to take all of us on a family vacation to a water park for a few days. Great, except none of her 3 grand kids know how to swim yet. I was terrified M (or my niece or nephew) would drown. And I was dreading the packed WI water park during spring break. Thankfully, everyone survived the park and, more importantly, we all survived being in a house together for 3 nights.
As much fun as we’ve had this month, I’m desperate for some down time. I need to clean my house, catch up on laundry, put the suitcases away for a while and just chill.
The view from our family room at the resort
I couldn’t tell you what my daughter’s first word was; I was too sleep deprived to remember. But, I can you tell you her first full sentence, which is way better than a first word anyway (or so I tell myself when I feel bad for not knowing her first word). Ha.
My daughter uttered a complete sentence last weekend as she looked out the window of our vacation rental and saw Lake Michigan. My parents looked at me in shock and asked if I’d heard what she just said. I think they doubted their ears. Yes, I heard it, too. She (very) clearly said “oh, look at the water out there!” in her cute little excited voice.
She’s been saying “what’s that?” and “who’s that?” for a while now, but up until last week she’d never said more than two words together. But lately her vocabulary has blown up. She says new words almost everyday, and other words that she previously said incorrectly (like “fly fly” for butterfly) she is now saying correctly. I’m amazed at what she’s learning and retaining. Pretty soon we’ll be having full conversations! I love watching this kid grow and learn and I can’t wait to see what she says next (as long as it’s not something she learned during any of our recent road trips). :)
I picked up M from daycare today, like most days, right around 5:15pm. This is undoubtedly her worst time of the day. She’s hungry, she’s getting tired and she’s pissed I’m making her leave her friends to come home. Here’s a snapshot of our first hour at home, otherwise known as the night mommy lost it and blew up and then felt guilty ALL night for being such a nasty mom.
5:30: Walk in the door and M gets knocked over by one of the dogs and starts screaming.
5:35: M sees a spoon on the counter and starts yelling “spoon!” over and over and over until I give her the spoon.
5:36: White fluffy dog is still trying to welcome M home and gets nailed in the head with said spoon and yelps in pain.
5:37: I take the spoon away from crazy toddler resulting in a full blown tantrum, including stomping her feet, banging on the front door and crying. Loudly. This freaks out both dogs who continue barking nonstop.
5:45: I put the (still crying) toddler in her high chair and give her a cup of apple juice. She throws it across the room.
5:46: I give her a plate of food. She uses both hands to throw it all over the floor. I tell her no. I pick up the food from the floor (while fighting hungry dogs who are scavenging for chicken) and put it back on her tray. I’ll be damned if I’m giving her anything else. She can eat the food from the floor, dog hair and all.
5:47 – 6pm: We have a battle of wills over dinner. She eventually eats her dinner and drinks her juice, but only after I’ve taken everything away from her and told her she would just be hungry later and wasn’t going to get anything except what was on her tray (I know – mean mommy wouldn’t give her fishy crackers even though she pleaded with me).
6:15: Attempt to change
crazy crabby toddler’s diaper. She slams my fingers in the top drawer of her changing table (after I’ve told her not to close the drawer about 5 times). She then kicks me in the boobs. Hard.
6:16: I LOSE IT. I yell at her. A lot. I make her cry. A lot. She ends up in her pajamas an hour early.
6:30: I try to read her a few books, but she keeps kicking me. I put her in bed (an hour early), tell her I love her and give her a kiss. She cries. I cry.
I have never felt so guilty and so mean in my entire life. I don’t typically yell at her. Not like I did tonight. I get frustrated with her and I get tired of the tantrums, but tonight I really couldn’t take it. And I know she’s not even 2-years old. And I know she’s a tiny person who can’t communicate what she needs. And I know she’s getting her fucking molars and is in pain. And I know these “terrible two’s” suck and are just beginning. But I yelled at her anyway. And I seriously have been feeling like the world’s worst mother ever since. I actually went in her room after she fell asleep to just stroke her hair and tell her how much I love her even if she couldn’t tell tonight. I was sort of hoping she’d wake up so she could hear me. Crazy, right?
And then, I ate a carmel sundae for dinner. Yes, that’s right. Ice cream for dinner. Because I’m good at eating my feelings.
I hope tomorrow is a better day for both of us, otherwise I’m going to pay a visit to my friends Ben and Jerry in the freezer section.
We’ve sort of neglected our posting duties over at Bloggers for Hope, but the team put together a new schedule starting this month and we should be posting more frequently.
I’m kicking things off with a post about open adoption and how to nurture the relationship with your child’s birth family. Head on over and check it out!
My boss recently told me that one of her friends is trying to decide how to tell her 16-year old daughter that she’s adopted. The daughter has NO idea and her parents are worried about how she’ll react to this news. Maybe it won’t phase her at all and she’ll take it in stride or maybe she’ll freak out and question her entire identity. Or maybe her reaction will be somewhere in the middle. Regardless, she’s going to have a lot of questions.
I am so grateful we won’t run into the problem of when to tell M she’s adopted, because we’ve already told her. And we will continue to talk about it as she grows up. Yes, I know she’s not even 2-years old, but we still talk about it (really, we do). Right now, M is too young to understand or vocalize much, but we sometimes read adoption-themed books to her or we talk about her birth family when we look at pictures.
In fact, we have a photo board in M’s room with an assortment of pictures displayed on it. She likes to grab the pictures off the board and tell me who everyone is (“grandpa” “dada” “baby”, etc.). The other night after I put her pajamas on, she grabbed a picture and said “who’s that?” as she pointed to her birth mom. I told her, “that’s C – she’s your birth mom and she loves you a lot.” She replied, “ooooh” and then kissed C’s face in the picture. :)
We have many pictures of her birth family on this photo board so she sees them everyday, but this is the first time she has asked me specifically about any of them. It was a little bit of a wake up call for me that we need to be prepared when she starts asking more questions, especially now that her vocabulary is quickly expanding.
As she gets older, the tactics will change and the conversations will get harder, but I want to make sure the communication is still happening because I want her to feel comfortable asking questions and telling us how she feels.
Eventually, I want her to look at a picture of her birth family and instead of asking “who’s that?” I want her to know exactly who they are and how much they adore her.
Today was M’s second dance class. Last week, she was the only kid who showed up because of the snow so she got a 1-1 lesson and she did great. Last week, she listened fairly well, she tried all the moves and stretches and she only ran wild a few times. Today, she was one of 6 kids and it was a whole different story. She was distracted, she didn’t want to listen and she ran wild about 80% of the class time. Other kids were also running wild and not listening, but it seemed like she was the worst one. I felt like a horrible mom who couldn’t control my kid or get her to listen.
At the end of the class, her teacher said something that I really needed to hear. She said, “moms and dads, please remember to be patient with your little dancers. They are young and they are not used to being in a class and listening. They have a lot to learn and they will improve.” I love this teacher. She was wonderful in M’s 1-1 class last week and she was wonderful this week with all the kids. Plus, she obviously understands that 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 year olds are not going to get it the first ten times. And I’m sure she could sense that some of us were
extremely slightly frustrated that our children were not behaving.
As a first-time parent and as a newbie to the world of toddler activities and classes, I am starting to grasp the reality that it’s going to be stressful sometimes and she’s not going to always listen. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be embarrassed if my toddler doesn’t want to march across the room or if she doesn’t want to sit down and stretch because she’d rather run and hug the other moms and dads (yes, this happened today). I am doing the best I can and so is she. In the future, if I see other moms or dads looking as frazzled as I felt, I’m going to tell them that it’s okay – it’s normal for our kids to be maniacs during these classes because they are toddlers and all toddlers are maniacs! I wish another parent had reminded me of this before (especially during our horrible month of gymnastics), but I’m glad Ms. Nikki reminded me today. I’m actually looking forward to next week’s dance class now.
I’ve been thinking about communication in general a lot lately – how I communicate with my husband, my family and friends, my coworkers, even people I’ve never met in person but communicate with via this blog and Twitter.
After the communication breakdown a few weeks ago in which my husband and I realized we weren’t on the same page regarding adopting again, I started analyzing (ok, let’s be real, over analyzing) how I communicate. How did I not know his feelings? Why were we so disconnected? Turns out, maybe we weren’t asking each other the right questions.
The other day, my friend Emily posted a link to an article called The Questions That Will Save Your Relationships. Read it. It resonated with me SO MUCH. It reminded me to ask specific questions. To ask meaningful questions. To ask questions that encourage a heartfelt response instead of an empty one.
Asking questions like “why are you nervous about adopting again?” or “what can I do to help you feel less overwhelmed with the adoption process?” would start a more meaningful conversation and help me understand his feelings much more effectively than say, asking “what the hell is your problem?” Agree?
So, I’m going to try to remember to ask better questions to everyone in my life because I want to start better conversations. Try not to be weirded out, okay?