From the Mommy Files…

Posts Tagged ‘dad

Today we celebrate all the amazing dads and granddads, and my dad is no exception.

If you’ve been following my posts about my dad, you know that my dad has Alzheimer’s and now lives in a nursing home. A friend publishes this awesome blog with posts written solely by women, called Women.Who.Write. She published my Mother’s Day essay, and immediately requested one for Father’s Day. Easier said than done.  But this exercise helped me to identify and begin to confront some of the many complex emotions that Alzheimer’s elicits.

Have a read. My Dad: Reflections, Lessons, Love…and Celebration

Thanks Amelia and Women.Who.Write!

Happy Father’s Day!

I'm so blessed to be this man's daughter! Here we are on my wedding day.

I’m so blessed to be this man’s daughter! Here we are on my wedding day.

OK, you’re chuckling. Yes. It’s funny. What do they say, out of the mouths of babes? I have to remind myself that my daughter is only 3, and she isn’t trying to be cruel. However, we all pause a moment when we hear that our backside is, well, on the large side.  

One day I was giving my daughter a bath and she started asking questions. She asked why a girl in her preschool class is bigger than her. I told her that the girl is a little bit older, so she’s had more time to grow. She responded, “What if I drink more milk?” I told her to go for it.

The conversation continued. She asked me, did she have a little nose. I said yes. She asked did she have nice eyes, and I said yes. Then she said, “Do I have a little butt?” I said, “Yes, and it’s a cute little butt!” We both had a giggle.

I was rinsing her hair when the truck hit me. “Mommy, why is your butt big?” Huh? “What?” I asked. She said, “Mommy, you have a big butt!”  I was taken aback. I didn’t know what to say. “Thanks a lot!” I said and finished the bath quickly, without saying much. I was speechless. OK, so I am a little self-conscious of my body these days, what mother isn’t? So I didn’t even stop to think, did I have a “nice” big butt a la J.Lo, or was it a just big ole’ butt?

I put her to bed and my husband asked me why I was so quiet. “I don’t know,” was my response. “Don’t be upset with her,” he said. “She’s just a kid. In comparison, your butt is bigger than her butt. She’s not telling you that you’re fat.” OK, so like it does for many of us, the “you’re fat” played over and over in my mind, until the song “Baby Got Back” took over. After sulking for a bit, I went to look in the mirror.

Hmmm….Well, it ain’t what it used to be. I look, from this side, from the other side, from the back. You’ve done it too. It’s not that big. I’m still wearing a size 4, but sometimes they don’t fit as nicely as they used to. How did this happen?

“Baby Got Back” has stopped playing in my head, but “I’m Too Sexy” hasn’t started up yet either. Pregnancy really changes your body. I didn’t have a clue how much. I have to learn to like my post-pregnancy body. It’s never going to be what it was before. I weigh what I did pre-children. Things just aren’t, well, where they were before. It’s like gravity has attacked me. I’d heard of this phenomenon before. I just hoped it wouldn’t happen to me.

The time has come. It’s time to get back on a regular workout routine. I have to make this new body the best it can be, not so my little one doesn’t tell me that my butt is big, but rather so I can feel good about the new me. Hmmm…how long do you think it will take to get a flat stomach again? OK, how about flatter? Give me a couple of weeks, I’ll let you know. I’m going to get in shape. I’m hitting the gym. My hot babe status is about to be reclaimed. LOL. Summer’s coming.  I double dog dare me. And you too.

OK. I heard you. You’re singing that song from Mel Brooks’ “History of the World.” ha ha ha

I knew it would happen eventually. My 3 year-old daughter has always been the curious sort. She asks questions, and is eager to learn. In the last few days, her questions have taken a new dimension. I can just see you right now. You’re shaking your head. You know where this is going.

This morning, my daughter came racing into the powder room, where I was, well, using the facilities. “Mommy!” she shouted. “I have to go potty!” Well, so did I. That’s why I was in there. I asked her if she could wait a minute, to which she replied no, because the “pee pees were going to come out!” I couldn’t make her run upstairs or downstairs to use another bathroom. So I got up to let her have her turn. Then, it came from out of nowhere: “Mommy, why do you have hair where you go pee pee?” I was so not prepared for that, though I had thought before that the question might come up at some point. “When you get older, you will get some too,” I told her. “Oh,” she said, and went about her business. Whew. I wasn’t ready to get into an in-depth discussion about hormones and puberty and all that.

The other morning, as my husband was getting out of bed, my daughter came into the room. He’d slept in his tighty-whities. Nothing gets passed this girl! The first thing out of her mouth was, “Daddy, why don’t you have any clothes on?” I quickly replied, “Because he was warm, Honey.” Apparently, my explanation wasn’t satisfactory. She followed him into the walk-in closet where he got dressed. Then she repeated the question – in a louder voice – perhaps he hadn’t heard her. “Daddy, why don’t you have any clothes on?” For some reason, since I didn’t hear him respond, I repeated my own retort, matching her volume. She didn’t acknowledge me, but asked him again. Finally, he intoned, “Because I didn’t want to wear my jammies.” Oh boy. I was waiting for her to say she didn’t want to wear her jammies, and even worse – for her to think that Mommy wasn’t telling the truth or something. So far no repercussions from that exchange. Double whew.

She’d asked us recently, “Why is Grandpa Daddy’s daddy?” and why my mother is my mother, etc., to which I replied, “Because that’s who God picked.” She seemed to like that answer. “So did God pick you to be my mommy?” she asked. I nodded. She was content.

Here’s a fun one. “Mommy, why am I married to my little sister?” I said, “Honey, she’s your sister, you can’t be married to her.” She quickly said, “But I am married to you too.” I tried to explain. “I’m not married to you, Sweetie, I’m married to Daddy. You’re my daughter.” She then asked, “I thought you loved me?” Well that one about knocked me over. “Of course I love you,” I told her. “That’s why we’re married! Because we love each other! I’m married to you and Daddy and my little sister!” she responded.  I paused for a moment. Do I try to explain this or just leave it where it is? Then I said, “I’m married to Daddy and you and your sister are our children. You can’t marry your mommy or daddy or your sister or your cousins, even though you love them.” To which she said, “OK” and moved to the next question. This is getting trickier by the question. What in the world is next?

You’ll love this one. “Mommy, was I there when you were a nifi (the Greek word for bride)?” Oh no, I thought. We aren’t getting into the birds and the bees already! So I tried to explain it this way: “No, Honey, you weren’t there.” “Why not?” she asked. “Because we didn’t make you yet!” I said. Uh-oh. Not a good answer, because that could have opened a door I didn’t want to go through. Before I could say anything else, she asked another question. “Was I in Heaven with Christouli (the Greek word for Christ)?” To which I quickly shook my head in the affirmative. I was pleased – and impressed – with her thought process. She’s developing logic. “So did I wait until He picked you to be my mommy?” Smart girl! She’s connecting the dots. It was making sense to her. Then she proceeded to ask about her little sister. “Where was Bebs (her nickname for her sister, which comes from the Greek word for baby girl, “Beba”) when I was a baby?” I explained that she wasn’t born yet. She said, “Oh, so she was waiting in Heaven with Christouli?” I told her yes. Then she went to play. Thank goodness that line of questioning was complete! At least for now.

I know this is only the beginning. Now I’m a little nervous. What question will that imaginative and inquisitive mind come up with next? Is it time to stop changing in front of her? Is it time to lock her out of the bathroom when either of us showers or goes to the toilet? Perish the thought that she may pose some awkward question to her teacher or her grandparents!

I’ve been researching here and there about how to handle these questions. I’ve asked other moms, too. They all reiterate the same advice: keep it simple. Don’t elaborate. Try to anticipate questions while you’re conversing. Try to be a step ahead. Wonderful! Another thing we have to try to be a step ahead on! Wow. This is really challenging my brain. I better learn to be really quick with my responses – and succinct. No need for long explanations. I promised myself a long time ago, that I wouldn’t lie to my kids, or put them off like my mother did. When I was 9, I asked where babies came from. My mother quickly told me to look it up in the encyclopedia. I did, and I read the words but had no idea other than technical terms. At that age, I probably would have been content with a response like, “they are gifts from God.” While I hope I don’t get that question for a long, long (long, long, did I say long?) time, I’ll try to give her an appropriate answer, one which her young mind can process. Wish me luck.

As you’re giggling remembering that episode from the 60’s show “The Brady Bunch,” where Jan is upset at the constant reminder of her older sister’s achievements, think about your own kids. I started thinking about this the other day, in the midst of chatting with our 3 year-old and 1 year-old.

I didn’t have this problem as a child, since my older sister was very different from me, and her interests were nothing close to my own. But I began to think about it, as we try to constantly play up the 3 year-olds doings to keep her from being jealous of the 1 year-old. “Big girl did this,” and “Wow, did your big sisterteach you that?” You know what I’m talking about.  I’d heard parents do this and I wondered if they were trying to encourage the younger sibling or were just more enamored with the first.

After becoming a parent, this – along with other things – has come to me like some sort of epiphany. So then I began to wonder, what does all this do for the younger sibling’s psyche? Would she grow to resent her older sister? Would she think we loved her sister more? Gosh, how do you balance this one? I’m guessing a little humor here will go a long way. A prayer might work too. Can’t have too many of those, right?

Many of you may have experienced this phenomenon: the green-eyed monster seems to come and go at our house. I wish we could stop that revolving door. My older daughter loves her little sister and will tell you so, but there are definitely times when she wishes that little one would just go away already.

We try to involve the 3 year-old in everything involving the 1 year-old. We have her bring diapers, help with laundry, pick out clothes, you name it. I find that as long as she is actively engaged, she does pretty well. Then, that green-eyed crazy thing rears it’s ugly head, and no matter what we do, she gets a little wild and doesn’t listen. She thinks “time out” is a game, and will go put herself in time out on the stairs. Then she’ll go up and down the stairs and taunt you, so you start freaking out that she will fall. Negative attention, yes -and she doesn’t care – as long as she gets some.

Now the 1 year-old is becoming quite the charmer in her own right, and frankly, has begun to steal the show. They both have big blue eyes. The 3 year-old is very outgoing and used to command all the attention. Now she’s forced to share the spotlight. We’re starting to hear stuff like, “Isn’t the baby cute?” And then people ask if she’s walking, try to get her to talk, and then she shows off her own little tricks. Then I notice that the 3 year-old starts acting up, in effort to divert attention back to her. Does it have to be a competition? Can’t we just play nice?

The 3 year-old refuses to nap, because she thinks the little one will get to do something she doesn’t, or she might miss out on some one-on-one mommy time. Then she melts down in the late afternoon, and can’t even consider that a nap might help her feel better – and allow her to stay up a little later.

In the meantime, it would seem to be all about the 3 year-old princess. “Look at what your big sister is doing!” “Did your big sister teach you that!” “Your big sister is sooo smart!” I wonder…does this all get buried in the 1 year-old’s subconscious? How does this affect her deep down? Will she resent me somehow? You know, it always somehow seems to be the mother’s fault.

I was beginning to feel guilty that the 1 year-old isn’t reaching milestones as quickly as the 3 year-old – my time is not solely dedicated to one child anymore. I was starting to worry, but the little one is catching up quickly and is reassuring me that she is just fine. It all seems to be happening at once. It’s good, but sure stirs up the 3 year-old some.

So we continue to juggle, as all parents of multiple children do. Is everyone getting enough attention? Did I give the same amount of hugs and kisses? All we can do is do our best. If we focus on these little stats, we’ll drive ourselves crazy. I guess I just found my own solution. Just love them, keep them engaged, and try to have one-on-one time with each kid. When the green-eyed monster tries to sneak it, just slam the door on it. Just ignore them – as hard as it can be. She’s trying to get a rise out of you. Don’t let that little stinker win! Lock the door on that pesky emerald beast once and for all! Lots of love and encouragement really go a long way. Going forward, I’m going to try to praise both equally, after all, they are individuals and just as wonderful as the other. I want them to know that. I don’t want to have the “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” syndrome crush the little one’s spirit. It’s all I can do – and it’ll help me keep my sanity. Oh, and yes, some “Calgon, take me away,” time is definitely warranted! You deserve it!

Hey, where’s the instruction manual?! Wouldn’t that be great! Ha!

Well, no one said it was going to be easy. But the rewards are beyond compare. Those little “I love yous” and hugs are absolutely priceless – no matter what.

No one likes a backseat driver. How about a three year-old backseat driver? I didn’t know this was even possible. She’d learned that red means stop, green means go, and yellow means “be careful, the red light is coming.” I didn’t know that she would use this basic knowledge to tell ME how to drive. A three year-old!

This morning we were driving to preschool. The street the school is on was closed because the city was cutting tree branches with large equipment. So we had to drive around, back out to the main street, then go all the way around – “no outlet” streets and one-ways would not allow us to cut through anywhere. So I got to a stoplight. It turned green while I was checking the one year-old in the backseat. “It’s green Mommy!” the three year-old shouted. OK, I thought, and just said “Thank you, Honey.” Well, we were in the left turn lane and with all the traffic no one was able to turn. “Why aren’t we going Mommy? It’s green,” she called. I tried to explain that there were cars coming in the other direction and if the people turned, they’d crash. She didn’t respond, so I thought that was it.

Guess again.

We missed that light, so we had to wait. Then came a little voice from the backseat, “Why didn’t you turn, Mommy?”  I responded, “It wasn’t my turn.” She then said, “Oh.” The light turned green again, and we were first in line. “Green!” she announced. I proceeded to the middle of the intersection and waited for traffic to clear so I could turn. “Mommy!” The voice seemed annoyed this time. “Why aren’t you going? It’s green!” So I began to explain again that if we turned we would hit another car. When we finally made the turn, a “yeah!” came from the backseat. All I could do was laugh to myself.

Now we approached another stoplight, and it was red. “It’s red Mommy. You have to stop!” I said OK, and tried not to let it bother me. Then, she announced the green, and again wanted to know why I wasn’t going when it was the go light. I don’t like backseat drivers, but a three year-old one? Come on! I felt myself starting to get irritated, and I reminded myself that reasoning with a three year-old basically impossible.

We arrived at school just fine, without the advice of the backseat driver. We saw another child in the parking lot. After exchanging greetings, my little one said, “you know, my mommy wouldn’t go when the light said go. I don’t know what’s going on.” The mother looked at me, chuckled and said, “You too?”

What is it about naps? We adults have an absolute love affair with them, and kids, well, they try to avoid them like the plague. I tell my kids, “trust me; you aren’t missing out on anything!” They still don’t believe me. When will they finally heed my words? When will they realize the value of the nap, the sheer joy of napping? Will it be, when they have their first hangover?  When they have to pull all-nighters studying? Or will it ultimately happen when they become parents themselves? Oh gosh – I hope it doesn’t take THAT long. Who knows, but I wish it would happen soon!

I remember reading something on Facebook a few months ago that had me cracking up. It was from a guy, in his late 20s. My husband and I both got a big kick out of it. It said: “Dear Nap, I’m sorry I was so mean to you when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I do realize how important you are, and I was wondering. Can we get reacquainted?” It was something like that and I loved it. I wish babies and kids knew (or at east could acknowledge) that naps were good!

I have heard many new moms say, “Heck, I’d kill for a nap right now!” And heck, I’ve paid for a nap! Yes, I’ve hired a babysitter to take care of things so I could nap. Naps are good and soooo necessary! Due to health issues, we didn’t have any family help. When #2 came a long, a dear friend of mine came to take my older daughter a couple of times a week, so I could rest when the baby napped. She saved my life!

I recall a time, when the girls were quite young, my life seemed like it was a series of naps. And I loved each and every second of those naps. For a while, I couldn’t sleep more than a few hours at a time. I was in nap mode 24/7! Now I find that I can sleep 7 or 8 hours, but no more, or I feel like I’ve slept too much. However, I can get up for ½ hour and then go back to sleep for a couple more hours. The operative word is could, because it rarely happens. I’m still in a sort of nap mode, I guess. Last weekend, my husband took the girls downstairs to give them breakfast so I could sleep in. Couldn’t do it! Thanks for trying, Honey. That was an awesome gift. I wish I could have taken advantage of it!

My 3 year-old pretty much refuses to nap. When, at the age of 2, we moved her to a “big girl room” with a “big girl bed,” she announced, “big girls don’t nap!” I remember the conversation. I said, “uh-huh!” and she said, “Nope!” Then I told her how much Mommy likes to nap, and that I’m a big girl. She said, “No you aren’t. You’re a mommy!” So now, do you get that, in 2 year-old logic? Big girls can’t nap, but mommies can. Hmmm….so how do we nap if the big girls don’t? Ah….the $64,000 question!

My one year-old gets upset at nap time. She is terribly afraid she will miss some momentous and wonderful thing that her big sister might do – because big sisters always do momentous and wonderful things – and has a fit when she even sees her bed. It takes her a bit to settle down, but most of the time, she does. I must confess, she is a better napper that the first. We had trouble getting there, but we did. #1 gave up the morning nap at 9 months. Fortunately for me, #2 still naps most mornings, and in the afternoon.

Now by afternoon, as most moms can attest, I am dragging my butt. So I try to get my 3 year-old to lie down on the couch with me, so I can catch a few zzz’s.  Some days it works, but other days, she’s so squirmy or is in the mood for multitasking. You know, read a book, but play with toys and sing a song. All when you would love just 15 minutes to snooze. Whoever said mommies never get a break…was telling the God’s truth!

After one of the girls was born, I made a comment once, saying, “When am I going to get some sleep?” The response – “When your kids are 18.” Something tells me there will be sleepless nights then too – with different issues at hand. What can you do? I guess naps will always be my best friend, well, my second best friend.  I’ll keep trying to get my daughters to appreciate napping. We all could use a recharge, couldn’t we?


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