Just another night in Vermont, and a boy who can’t tell time but loves his watch.
(Thanks, Ed, for the photo!)
This morning I had a good reminder about what’s really important.
Gray had made me a ‘surprise’ at school, and wanted to wrap it up for me to open. With the goal always to empower this little guy to do things on his own, I watched as he confidently marched to the closet and pulled out his scissors, tape, and the wrapping paper I had just bought to wrap up a friend’s wedding present (I’m usually a brown kraft paper and a ribbon kind of girl).
I was about to ask him to pick the brown paper, when I looked over and saw the pure joy in his eyes as he carried it all back.
So I shut up, and watched him cut off about five times more than he needed and use almost a whole roll of tape.
But he was so proud and excited - he did the whole thing by himself. And the impsih look of delight as he taped the whole thing together made my heart sing.
And that confidence and excitement is worth a lot more than the money I spent on the fancy wrapping paper.
What a good question…like sleep, weaning can be one of the hardest things to figure out that you can’t prepare for. It’s all about the baby, and the mama.
First of all, don’t worry. If you can’t force him then you don’t have to try! I would try to keep getting breastmilk in where I could - pump and give him bottles, mix it with his cereal, veggie purees, anywhere!
I know that nursing until your baby’s first birthday is heralded, but it doesn’t always work that way. I’ve had friends stop nursing at six months, and babies who stopped wanting to nurse throughout that first year.
I nursed Gray until he was 17 months old - by then it was really just before bed and/or first thing in the morning when the timing worked. He never really liked taking a bottle, so I thought it would be hard to wean, but he kept dropping feedings and didn’t seem too worried about it.
I anticipated being sad, but actually had the exact opposite reaction. One morning, while staying at a friend’s house, Gray woke up early so I pulled him into bed to nurse him and keep him quiet. I looked down at him, at how long and strong his body was, how his face looked so mature, and suddenly realized it was time to be done. I know many moms nurse their kids for years and years, but that morning, looking at my sweet 17-month’er, it suddenly didn’t feel right anymore.
And that was the last time. Gray would pull at my shirt every once in awhile after that day but seemed to forget it pretty quickly.
I’m still nursing Parker, and am a bit sad already thinking about when our time will end. Because I don’t think we’ll try to have more children, I already feel a bit heartsick thinking about that beautiful, special connection you have with your baby while nursing. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. :)
Maybe due to it’s rhythmic alliteration, The Terrible Two’s had always been the stage in life that everyone warns new parents about. With steely resolve, I remember Jackson and I preparing ourselves for the sh*tstorm that would supposedly reign down on us soon after Gray’s second birthday.
But it didn’t come. Sure, there were tough days and challenging phases, but that Jekyll/Hyde never moved in.
Until he turned three.
At three, he was bigger, stronger, opinionated, independent, had seen more of the world and what other kids in it got to do (JUICEBOXES!) and was quickly forming his own decisions about what he would and would not do.
I literally laughed out loud at this father’s account of his daughter’s Terrible Threes…
I looked my friend square in the eye and said, “F*CK the terrible twos. The twos ain’t got shit on the threes. The threes are where it’s at.”
Every day, I suit up for battle. It’s not just the usual twice-a-day stuff like “I don’t wanna go.” or “I don’t wanna eat that for breakfast.”
I’m talking about something every hour. Telling me that all the tags in her clothes are itchy and that she hates toast, even though she had eight pieces the day before. Getting up in her brother’s face like The Gooch, ripping anything and everything away from him so that he’ll never enjoy a moment of his childhood. Falling to the ground, claiming her “knees hurt” when I ask her to walk up the stairs, as I stand behind her holding eight grocery bags and her brother around my neck. Protesting that something is too cold or hot when it’s the exact opposite. Refusing to get in the bathtub because she thinks the flower petals from her bath fizzy are dirt. And reenacting Indian war dances as soon as I get on the phone with my student loan reps. Screaming, pushing, punching, biting, spitting, back-talking, karate kicks and testicle head butts. All in a day’s work.
In fact, googling ‘terrible two’s’ gives you pages of personal accounts of that horrible year, as well as many examples otherwise, like this dad.
We had a friend tell us that turning four would be the best thing to happen to our family, collectively. That Gray would suddenly blossom with maturity, healthy eating habits, self-sufficiency, and better control of his emotions.
We’re a month in and still waiting for that to happen.
In the meantime, here’s what I’ve realized. The Terrible Two’s exist…for some people. For others it’s the Three’s, Four’s, or Six Month’s. It completely depends on the kid.
Sure, developmentally there are common hiccups on the road of a child’s life, but each child’s emotional and physical response varies wildly.
It’s like with pregnancy. Strangers will tell you what to do to get that baby out once your duedate is in the rearview mirror. Literally, everyone. Pineapple, enemas, spicy thai food, walking, sex, eggplant, acupuncture, the eggs at Steve’s Diner, nipple stimulation, codfish oil, a scorpion bowl…the list goes on and on and on and on.
But other than the dreaded pitocin, there’s no sure fire way to induce labor. People will tell you what works, because it’s what happened to work for THEM. Eating pineapple when your water broke made YOU go into labor, but not me.
So wherever you are in your child’s life, here’s my advice.
Don’t worry about an age just because someone tells you to. The ups and downs of life with your child will depend on exactly that…your child. And though the blogs and books and articles out there can be helpful (and funny), they in no way can predict what you’ll experience with your child on any given day, month or year.
Put your phone down. Get down on their level. Look them in the eye when they’re talking. And try to figure out where they’re at, and what’s working and what isn’t, for your kid.
Good or bad and regardless of their age, the only guarantee is that something will change. And that’s about as exact as you can be.
So be present and thoughtful in your child’s life and try to make decisions based on your kid, not on the four-year-and-one-month post in babycenter. Though helpful, babycenter is not sitting at your kitchen counter on a particularly miserable morning trying to decipher through sobbing whines what the heck goes into a ‘banana swirl smoothie’.
Social media is a strange thing…you can follow, read, and see the worlds of strangers, which is usually an amazing chance to learn about the world and the people in it. But sometimes it’s horrible.
Through Instagram I stumbled upon #redballoonsforryan, and my heart broke.
While playing in front of his house, this beautiful three-year old boy was hit by a truck and killed. Friday morning he was at Disneyland, Friday night his parents had lost their child.
No parent should ever lose their baby, and I just can’t imagine what these two are going through.
You can read Ryan’s mother’s posts about life without Ryan - prior to these she had posted a recipe for muffins…to go from banana bread muffins to the loss of your child is so wrong, polarizing and debilitating. A normal life of chaos one moment, a great sadness the next. To call this heartbreaking is an understatement.
My heart is with them.
There’s a great new VT-homegrown company that I’m in love with…Mamava.
Lactation stations, strategically located, for nursing moms on the go. It allows you to nurse in a clean, quiet, private spot. It’s a pod of sorts that is small but has everything you need. Benches, wipes, hand sanitizer, plugs (for your pump),
Mamava is dedicated to transforming the culture of breastfeeding, making it more optimistic, realistic, accommodating, and inviting to all mamas.