Monthly Archives: May 2013

Snapshot of a Baby

A brief snap shot of Baby Love 10 short days before she turns 1.

-She signs more (in the context of eating), all done (in many contexts), and book. More can be anything from roughly correct hand shape to a bent o or fist touching a palm (most common) to clapping, and she’ll sometimes do it even before fussing for more. All done is a crazy waving of the arms a tiny amount frantically. Book looks like two relaxed hands but tense arms being shoved together so the hands keep falling over each other. She LOVES being able to communicate!

-She is delighted when she understands what we’re doing and can do it too. If she sees us rub our hands together (using hand sanitizer, dusting them off, etc.) she’ll gleefully drop whatever she’s doing to mimic us. She’ll wave sometimes and clap often with you.

-She says “dah-deee!” for daddy and “dah-djshi” for Toby (the dog) with equal delight. No word for mom yet, but I’ve decided to take it as a compliment that I’m just a given in her life. A sound somewhere in between her words for daddy and Toby is her all-purpose filler label for things that intrigue her.

-She LOVES reading and thoroughly enjoys turning the pages of the books as we go. She studies the pictures in books, and prefers stories she knows. She’ll anticipate the end as you reach it and sometimes turn away in anticipation of what’s coming next now that the book is almost done.

-The game “Little Red Wagon” is a favorite. If you stop after each verse she’ll begin doing the next action to prompt you. If you tell her she’s got the wrong one she’ll stop, visibly think, and try a different action.  Another, newer, favorite is “Patty Cake”. When you’re done she’ll clap her hands for more, and if you don’t comply she’ll grab your fingers and clap her hands while holding your fingers very purposefully.

-She walks surprisingly steadily, even holding my hand and walking next to me sometimes when we’re out. She’s getting less and less thoughtful before taking off across a room on her feet; it’s becoming a means not an end at all. She still does crawl some, especially when she’s tired, and I love the crawling!

-She’ll sing along if you sing at times, using a more drawn out, melodic voice. If I say, “Yaaaaay!” happy and high pitched she may mimic back “Aaaaaah!” in the same high pitched tone.

-She ADORES music of all kinds. She loves when we sing to her, she loves standing or sitting on daddy’s lap at the piano to play the keys, she loves playing with her electronic keyboards or even her xylophone “piano” to make music, and she’ll happily play with any electronic toy that plays a song. If she likes a song she’ll often dance with it, bobbing up and down or swaying back and forth, though that’s almost exclusively for recorded or electronic music.

-She and Toby are great friends. She idolizes him and follows him everywhere, even where he thinks is safe. She wants what he likes, and will often pull his ball out of his mouth and then giggle when he takes it back out of her hand. They’ll play tug with his toys, and when either wins they offer it back to the other to continue the game.

-She gives the best kisses, both impromptu and when asked. They are getting less open mouthed and slobbery, but still usually include voice (since we say mmmmuah! when kissing her) and frequently include a raspberry. Nose kisses often involve some teeth for extra love. She loves knowing she makes us so happy by kissing us and beams at her power to do so.

-She has begun to problem solve very intentionally and will put the shapes in her shape sorter, stack rings on her stacking toy, and put balls in her “gumball machine” before pulling the lever to have them come out. She is determined to figure out how to achieve each goal when she tackles it, and typically does so surprisingly quickly.

-She is beginning to understand basic spoken directions a little, especially with gesture support. Today she helped me clean her play area and would take a toy I handed her and put it where I indicated (though sometimes she didn’t want to let it go!).

-She is a mama’s girl, and now that I’m home she doesn’t want to let me get far. She loves snuggles and hugs more and more the more mobile she gets. She’ll often come over and climb in my lap and sit there while doing whatever it is she’s doing. I’m loving the cuddles!

-She’s not a fan of the changing table, and will sit up as soon as she’s able and LAUNCH herself into my (hopefully) waiting arms. She also loves to do this from her high chair, though she can’t get as much speed there.

-She adores sharing with anyone, and will often offer her toy and be DELIGHTED if it’s accepted. She doesn’t actually want to let it go, but she’ll be thrilled if you pretend to chew on it while she holds it to your mouth. This is slightly problematic at the dinner table when she tries to share with the eagerly waiting Toby. She gets so happy when an offer is accepted, and he’ll always accept!

-She finds it hilarious when we throw things. At bath time we throw her toys back in their holder to put them away and she can’t stop giggling. She also recognizes when things are abnormal now and giggles at the silliness. So daddy putting a toy on his face, or “wearing” it, evokes delighted giggles that don’t stop. We live for her precious giggles!

-She is a destructive little thing with her teeth, chewing holes in board books and cardboard boxes in minutes.

-She is our little dare devil. She loves swinging upside down, climbing on or over anything available, being up high, being thrown, and any rough handing. She’s already covered in bruises from her many adventures, and I’m slightly scared of what I’m in for!

-She is so, so loved by her daddy and me, beyond what we could ever express. I am still amazed by how fiercely I love this little person, in spite of anything else that is going on. A smile from her makes life worth living. We are so very in love with our little ball of energy and joy!

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Out of Step

I no longer feel like a good mom.

Before I did my student teaching, I loved being a stay at home mom. I found complete and utter fulfillment spending my days with my baby, meeting her needs, watching her grow, and moving through life together.

Then the end of my master’s degree approached, and though I no longer wanted to, I went back to work to complete my student teaching.

For 9 weeks I left her in the care of a nanny full time. I was afraid it would make me feel unfulfilled when I came back to being just her mom after being in the working world. But after 9 weeks was spring break. And I settled back into being her mom full time without a hitch. It felt right. It felt natural. It felt good.

Then I went back for my last 5 weeks.

And now I’m home. Permanently. This is day 7.

And this time there have been hitches.

Those last 5 weeks killed our relationship.

She still loves me and I still love her. I don’t mean our relationship in that sense.

But our rhythm. Our way of getting through the days. How we knew each other. How I knew her.

It’s gone.

She has always been a problem sleeper. I have gotten all of the advice that exists on how to deal with this. I took some and left some, and while it could make me doubt myself a little, overall I knew that I knew my child and I knew her needs and I was doing right. If I tried advice that felt wrong it inevitably wasn’t successful and I trusted myself to go back to doing what was. If I predicted something wouldn’t work but tried it, it inevitably didn’t work in the way I predicted. I knew my child.

But in those last 5 weeks, my child went from being a baby to be a toddler, in so many more ways than just mobility.

Her communication took off. Her problem solving skills took off. Her interactions took off.

She learned to interact with her nanny in a different way than I interact with her.

And now I’m left with no good sense of my daughter.

When she cries, I no longer am confident if she is truly upset or if she is trying to force a response. To some extent it doesn’t matter; I don’t want to let her cry it out. But to some extent it does. I frame my responses based on the reasons behind things. When I knew her cries were because she felt abandoned or alone I worked to remedy that instantly. No lesson would come from that kind of crying. If her cries were simple preference I wasn’t as quick.

Now we are having a sleep regression. A major one. She had been teething for weeks, but the teeth are through and now the sleep regression is only worse. At night I still have somewhat of a handle on things.

But she will. not. nap.

And I am left without a clue as what to do.

I no longer feel in tune with her. I no longer feel as if we are in step. When she refuses to sleep I am left floundering, unsure of where to go next.

Of course, you never know what to do in mothering. These are entirely other, utterly complex, little people we are caring for. I never knew before. But I was confident in my relative understanding, and I used that to move forward feeling informed.

Now that is all gone. Out the window. The rug has been pulled out from under me. And I am lurching forward unbalanced. Feeling unsure where to step.

And so feeling like I am constantly failing.

My child won’t nap. And I don’t know what to do. Do I leave her to scream, even though in the past these kinds of screams have been legitimate and she is making herself spit up again from how hard she is crying? But now when I walk in the screams stop instantly and she smiles. Does that mean they’re not legitimate? Or does it just mean she loves me?

Is she ready for one nap? Is her resistance towards taking her first nap on time and her second nap at all due to her outgrowing the need for both? Or is it that she is adjusting back to having me home every day instead of her beloved nanny? Or is it that she has figured out she can manipulate me into letting her play more? Or is it that she is over tired from not napping enough and thus not sleeping enough and so she is in extra need of both naps?

I felt out of touch with her while I was working. Many moms can be good moms while working. I was not. I was disconnected from her, just trying to get through my days.

So now, when I’m back to being with her full time, I feel as if I lost the last 15 weeks of gradual growth and change, as if my child and my understandings are 15 weeks out of date. I feel as if my child has changed, suddenly, into one who is 15 weeks older than the one I knew.

I know the changes have been gradual. But I feel like I missed them.

So I don’t know what to do.

And I hate myself for missing them.

I hate that I missed the last 1/3 of her babyhood.

I hate that there is nothing I can do to get those weeks back.

I hate that I am not the one who primarily shaped who she is now as her communication took off and those formative weeks happened.

I know that in the grand scheme of things it was not much time. I know that living in regret only makes me miss what I have now. And I fight it.

But I still hate it.

And it’s harder to fight it when I feel like that time is impacting my ability to be a good mom now.

I want the rhythm I had with my daughter back. I want our easy, beautiful, in-step life back. Maybe I would have lost it even if I was home. But I don’t think so. Not like this. And I’ll never know.

I want to learn how to be a good mother to my daughter again. And I will. I’m sure.

But for now I’m just left feeling like a failure more and more with each lurching step.

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Thank you, Baby Love

I have moved! I am now blogging at The Energizer Mommy. Please come join me there!

One year ago I was 39.5 weeks pregnant, waiting to see if I would go into labor and become a mother of an outside-baby for Mother’s Day.

2.5 weeks later, Baby Love was born after a long, hard labor.

Being her mother has been the most joyful, fulfilling job I have ever had.

After 7 months of being her full-time stay-at-home-mom, I returned to work to complete my student teaching, taking on a full-time job outside the home and leaving her in the care of a nanny. It was very hard.

Friday, after 14 weeks away, my student teaching ended.

I am officially a full-time stay-at-home-mom again.

And I’m loving it.

Thank you, Baby Love, for giving me the best job I have ever, ever had. Thank you for making me a mother. Thank you for helping me find complete fulfillment in being “just” a mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, sweetheart!

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