Sunday, May 30, 2010

Talking about our feelings

An inquisitive three year old turned his parents for a loop, making us loose our imaginary grip on reality with that little word, 'why?'  Then we realize that we don't really have a good reason for the things that we do and requests that we make. 
LittleMan has taken to explaining when he gets upset in terms of the trigger, "You made me feel bad" or, "You made me feel sad."  Mariano thinks that he got this from Ni Hao Kai-Lan, a silly cartoon that they watch sometimes at lunch time at daycare.  The characters discuss their feelings.  I think that it is a good for his development to be understanding and labeling his emotions and distinguishing the connections between actions and emotions.  I started to try to do it as well, and realized I couldn't, which is troubling.  Like, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning for some reason and was very upset that he could not find his Play-Do Thomas the Tank Engine.  He was so upset that he would cry at the drop of a hat.  This made me upset and I, unsuccessfully,  told him to stop crying.  I had to remove myself from the room and situation because his out of control and unfounded crying was making me very angry.  He kept repeating that I was making him sad for not finding his Thomas and, presumably, for not understanding the importance of the missing Thomas.  I left the room and went looking for the train, all the while thinking, Why do I get so angry when LM cries?  How can I explain it?  He is not hurting me, why does it make me angry?  I feel like there needs to be some way for me to explain my feelings or else they are not valid.  Does his crying make me feel inadequate or like a failure for not being able to satisfy him, and that makes me react angrily?   

I found his Thomas, but the poor guy was malformed.  When I tried to reshape him, LM got upset because the shape I made his engine was to circular, or not cylindrical enough, or who knows.  It just wasn't perfect and he started to cry and said that I was making him sad.  Which made me mad.  I tried to explain, "LM when you cry it makes me not want to play with you."

Eventually we ended up taking Thomas away and putting away the play do, because he kept having outbursts of crying when the wheels would get dirty or the funnel would fall off.  Yesterday he played so well with the play do and made the Thomas train all by himself.  But today he could not handle it.  His little world came to a halt if something went wrong.  I said, "I am putting the play do away because it makes you sad.  We only play with toys that make us happy."  I think that made sense at least.   Removing the Thomas from the picture seemed to help him move forward and he coped with life better for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hello and Goodbye Terrible Twos

Just as I realized that it might be time to celebrate the end to an era, we get smacked on the back side by the surprise next episode.  LittleMan is about 3.5 years old now, and he has been crying and complaining a bit less frequently lately; the daily meltdowns appear to have halted.  But the baby GirlFriend, who passed the 17 month mark, has started to develop a bit of a bossy pants attitude that has been evident for the last week.  She demands to go to bed, or to get out of bed.  If she doesn't get what she wants, then she has a crying fit!  What's going on here?  I think we may be entering the terrible twos!  Yes, that's right, the name is misleading because the terrible twos actually seem to start around 1.5 years old and last until past 3!  I have two little pieces of evidence of that right here!
At least I don't get two of them at once.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Asking the Universe

There is a great self help relationship guide (I know WTF? no really, I liked it) - when I went to Panama with my mom I didn't pack any reading materials and ended up stealing one of her books: How to Love Like a Hot Chick.  It talks about how to enjoy being single, "This may be the last time you are single again, ever!" by thinking about the times as your heyday.  I really liked that perspective, because I think too many girls get so obsessed with completing themselves by finding relationships, rather than enjoying the time and freedom they have before the man and the family.  It's tough because we all want to be loved and snuggle, but this book does a good job of pointing out the fun you can have in the mean time, and how to know if you are in the right relationship or not.  The writing can be awefully crude at times, and it took a bit for even me to get use to, but it is entertaining and right-on.  I picked up the book for a couple of my single friends.
One of the things that the authors recommend to help you to find true love is to tell the universe what kind of man you want and the universe will provide.  It works, it really works.  My friend did as they said and wrote down the traits that her ideal man would have.  After a few months she was dating a guy who met every one of the things and more.  I'm a firm believer because I have heard of it working on many occasions.
Well one of the things that I did while preggy with LittleMan, and again with GirlFriend was make a couple wishes to the universe.  Now I didn't get too specific because I didn't want to be psyco genetically engineering the perfect child Gattaca style.  But there were some modest requests with each kid.  So with LM, I asked for a boy just like Mari.  With GF, I asked for a smart, sweet girl, who listens to what I say.  Ok, so maybe I went overboard with the 'listens to what I say' thing, but you have to understand that I was at a point when LM was just two years old and was running away from me at parks and I would have to chase after him, big belly and all!
The Universe has provided.  When LM was born the very first thought that crossed my mind was, 'he looks just like Mari.'
He has continued to look and act like his daddy.  It's pretty dang cute.  With all the trouble he can be sometimes, I can't be upset at the universe for that, because it gave me what I wished for :).
Then there is GF.  She is such a little smarty pants angel.  This morning she went poo-poo in the toilet all by herself.  It is the fourth consecutive time that she has gone potty in the morning on the toilet.  She is not even a year and a half old yet and she has been asking to sit on the toilet and pee and poop.  Then I got a note from daycare yesterday. They said that during circle time when they asked "What is the weather like outside?"  She was the first to answer, "Rainy."
And when they asked "What season is it?"  She answered "Spring!"
They were so amazed that they wrote me a note and stuck it in her lunch box.
The funny thing is that on the same day that GF poops in the toilet, LM has an accident in his underpants.  At this rate she may be potty trained before he is.  It's funny because Mari said that it took him forever to get fully potty trained, like until he was 5 years old, and that is even while growing up with cloth diapers!  He still remembers having accidents in his pants.
So I think that I may have gotten my modest wishes.  Thank you Universe.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When Full Circle Feels Redundant

Saturday afternoon we threw a birthday party for Mari at our new home.  Which is actually my old childhood home, where I lived from ages 2-10.  The weather was perfect, and lots of great fun friends attended.  We cooked some good  yummy food and one friend even brought a real gaucho grill and another a moon bounce for the kids.  At the new location, there is more yard space for kids to roam and play.  It is an improvement over the non-yard that we had at our little townhouse.  
I had a moment to reflect; looking out at the group of friends partying, thinking about how I used to play in the trees behind the house and run around on the same deck.  But the moment didn't bring me any comfort or security in knowing that I could carry on the tradition of my family with my own kids.  Instead, I though, "Really?  Really?  After all this time I'm back here?"  It felt like a lack of progress.  Like I haven't made anything special or different of myself for my kids.
When I told Mari about it he said he understood.  Which was a huge surprise because I was totally expecting him to say that I'm crazy for not having a stronger sense of attachment to family history and legacy or something profoundly brainiac and not empathetic.  Knowing that he understands makes the feeling all that more powerful.  
No action yet... just something I noticed.  Don't want to move again for at least another year!

Stop Stalling and Start being a WoMan

Friday afternoon I got a call on my cell phone for the Senior VP of the company, the boss of my boss.  He specifically called me to tell me how great I was doing and how important I am to his future plans to improve the company's quality.  We talked for about 20 minutes as I was rushing through DC afternoon traffic, yes, taking on a cell in the cell-free city; but if the senior VP wants to talk, you better talk.  It feels so good to be appreciated and acknowledged for what I'm doing at work.  Sometimes I think that I'm taking work too seriously because I get upset when other people on my team do poorly or undermine progress.  So it is nice to feel important.  I feel like I could just ride the wave of opportunity right up to the top of this company.  BUT, I want more time with my kids.  This constant success makes it all the more difficult for me to turn down my acceleration up the career ladder in exchange for more time at home with the kids.  I keep thinking, 'just because I'm good at it doesn't mean that I should do it, I mean, I'm sure I'd be a good garbage man too'  lol.  It's not like I'm stopping world hunger or curing AIDS.  I am just building financial software, dammit.  My kids should take precedent.
Later I had a long talk with a good friend of mine from college.  I called her for advice on how to approach asking my work if I can cut down on my hours.  She has the same birthday as me and so we are like soul sisters even though we come from completely different backgrounds.  She was born on a farm and the first of anyone in her family to ever go to college.  I attended a DC private school and grew up in the suburbs.  Once I told my parents that I didn't want to go to college and they took me to get evaluated by a psychiatrist.
Despite our vastly different pre-college experiences, we really click and maintain very similar values, philosophies, and senses of humor.  We are both the kind of people who go and seek out challenges and activism.  We both have a strong work ethic and tendency to step up to the plate and do what ever needs to get done.  So I thought that she would understand my hesitation to ask to go part-time at work, and subsequent guilt.  But, surprisingly, she didn't really think that it was that big a deal.  She actually was more transfixed on the stay-at-home-mom aspect.  Something about SAHMs bugs the women who work for a living.  She made a comment about the rich white moms out in the morning with their fashionable workout gear, fancy baby strollers and Starbucks in hand.  She sounded pretty disgusted by the women with money to procreate, consume, and gossip all day long.
I guess that I was not even thinking about the SAHM label because I have so many cool SAHM friends now.  I have realized the benefits, especially for families that want to raise their kids less mainstream.  After I made a few points about that she was really supporting my decision, and stating that she would consider being a SAHM once she has kids.  She works in education, teaching at risk parents techniques to help them break cycles of abuse and raise their kids better than their parents raised them.  I am so inspired by her life track.  She gave a couple pointers on how to approach the conversation and ease the burn.
So after consulting with everyone I possibly could, and basically stalling in the process, I just need to go for it.  That's what everyone says, just pick a date and go for it.  I feel paralyzed.  Like if I tell my boss then I will be changing her perception of me and she will respect me less.  I feel like... when I got pregnant at 17 and wanted to tell my dad...but I never had the courage to say it.  I remember a moment in the car with him where I reached within a breath of letting it out, "dad, I'm pregnant" my inner monologue said.  But I was like a ridiculously petrified bunggie jumper standing on the edge of the bridge, and I just turned around in fear.   I don't know what would have happened.  I don't know if he would have encouraged me to have the baby or encouraged me to give it up.  I don't know if he would have lost all hope in me, scolded me, locked me in a room forever, forbid me from seeing my boyfriend.  Maybe I would have stopped being 'his little girl.'  Maybe he would have hugged me and said that everything would be ok.  I had friends with babies, friends who are much braver and wiser than me.  My parents never condemned their choices.
I have made so many mistakes in my selfish life.  That could be the topic of a separate blog post.
Back to what I have control over.  Breaking the cycle of fear and seizing the day.  I'm going to push myself to talk to her by the end of the month, and ask her for my new schedule to take effect 6 weeks from then.  I think that is pretty reasonable.  I should have the new person that we just hired up to speed by then...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Emerging from the Moving Induced Isolation Tank

It feels like it has been forever since I have updated.  We've been moving.  From our little brick townhouse, into the top level of my mom's little brick split level home.  We were also prepping our house for renters, and that was so much more work than I anticipated.  There were all these little things that needed to be fixed that we just lived with.  Like, the broken cabinet drawers and kitchen shelf, The cracked mirrors, the holes in the walls from floating shelves that were too heavy, the loose sink faucet, the broken banister rail, and the crayon on the wall, and the crayon on that wall, and the crayon on that other wall, and the crayon on the shower wall, and the stickers on the bathroom wall, oh and more crayon over there!  We made an honest effort to clean it all up, and luckily our renters are awesome and they will be painting over whatever they still don't like.  I told them paint or fix things if they need to, just deduct the cost of supplies from the rent check, and make sure they buy No-VOC paint.  I advertised the townhouse as  being "Green" Environmentally Friendly updated.  So they are like minded :)
It would have been fun to do all those home improvements, but with the kids it was tough.  Mari and I had to take turns watching the kids and fixing up the house.  Plus it seemed like there was an endless supply of stuff that needed to be transported.  I'm not sure I can claim myself a minimalist anymore because it appears we have accumulated some crap.
So now phase one of the move is complete and we have turned over the house to the renters, phase two is focusing on settling into the new place.  That is not without its challenges.  The first week we were here the AC/Heater stopped working.  Classic DC Metro area style it went from 60 degrees one week to 40 the next week to 80 the next week.  We survived during the cold week because we had a space heater in the kid's bedroom and a down comforter in 'the adults' bedroom (yes that's right we got the baby out of our bed finally) the hot week was tougher and we called a repair man.
GirlFriend is all grown up sleeping on the bottom bunk and LittleMan on the top.  We are all really happy with the new arrangement, the transition was no trouble at all.  LM likes climbing so he was happy to take the top bunk and say goodbye to his car bed.  GF is at the age (16 months) where she is more independent and she like having a bed of her own - like big bro.  They both feel more secure in a room together and so LM's midnight trips into our bed have stopped.  Mari and I did not know what to do with ourselves with all the extra space.  We spent the first few minutes making snow angels in the covers.
So now we are in phase two and settling into the new home.  And as this new chapter unfolds I become evermore obsessed with turning into a stay at home mom.  I like my job, i really do, and I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful work experience and manager.  But my kids are growing up with a halftime mother.  We only get a couple hours together in the evenings before bed, and the weekends are so rushed that I can hardly call them "quality family time."  I need to get past whatever is holding me back from having the courage to tell my work that I want to go part time.  I am even thinking that I would like to be a full time stay at home mom, if we could afford it.  I lay awake at night running over the dialog in my head of how I will propose a new part time schedule to my boss...
Finally in other - slightly more graphic - news, LM's stool seems to have normalized.  He is no longer having the 8x day little orange poops.  Now they are beautiful , long, and brown.  I'm so pleased.  Not sure if it is the diet or the supplements, but something worked :).


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