Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recent Thoughts on Motherhood in 3 Parts.


We "potty trained" Declan this past weekend. At the very least we ditched the disposable baby diapers in exchange for the more comfortable cotton potty training pants. We also transitioned Aengus into cloth diapers. It was a LOOOOOOONG three day test of wills, patience and being housebound. By the end of the weekend, Declan was running and sitting on the potty every time he needed to go. Our only real issue has been the whole "Pull down your big boy pants BEFORE you sit on the potty". He really seems to get it, though, and it makes me incredibly proud to be his mama. 

Declan in "big boy" underpants, pajama top and prop hat from the preschool program

In addition, there was the "daylight savings time" time change. Had I remembered that this past weekend was the weekend to move clocks up, I would have postponed the potty training another few weeks. I didn't remember and Ben and I both ultimately paid for my oversight. 

 For adults, the time change means late for church or spending the next week a little on the sleepy side until your body readjusts. For children(at least for mine) it apparently means going to bed an hour or more later and waking up two hours earlier... and also waking up repeatedly throughout the night with a loud and long caveman yell ensuring that your brother ALSO wakes up wailing like a banshee.  So, instead of only getting one less hour of sleep, the children are getting 3+ less hours of quality snooze time ensuring that Mom and Dad get EVEN LESS sleep than their typical 6-8. Good times. 

Aengus practicing fine motor skills with finger foods
My children also subscribe to the whole "Let's learn a new trick and while we're at it, let's sleep super crappy and wake up our folks and each other about a million times a night... I mean, we can always take a few naps as long as we don't take them at the same time, right?". If Ben and I were looking for a world of hurt, well, we found it.  Potty training bootcamp + time change + thunderstorm = THE PERFECT STORM. (Did I mention that Georgia, our boxer, is our very own in-house meteorologist and she likes to tell us that it's about to rain by whining and fretting in my ear at 2 am? It's kind of like having a really unpredictable rooster with dog breathe. I didn't mention that? So sorry!). I'm pretty sure you can surmise that Ben and I probably slept a grand total of 45 minutes on Monday night. 

No, the rest of his class were not supposed to be his back-up singers. Declan had other ideas. This is from the Preschool Spring Program. 

The ONLY thing that I could do was pray for mercy. The reply I heard loud and clear was,"Katy, there are families all over the world, country, state and city that would give everything they could to have the opportunity to settle their beloved child down just one more time. This is a blessing. I know you are exhausted but you need to take a deep breath and enjoy rocking those boys back to sleep." It's amazing how much patience gets scrounged up when God whispers THAT little message into your heart. Regardless, I really, REALLY needed some alone time. Sometimes blessings can really wear a mama out!


Speaking of blessings, it's no secret how blessed I feel to have found nursing(the career path, not the baby feeding... although, I love that too!) so early on in my life. When I was 22, I would have given ANYTHING to have found the right person in college, get married shortly after graduation and have lots of babies. I knew very early on that there was a longing in my heart that only a loving,devoted marriage and a house full of children could soothe. God's master plan for my life was a much less direct route ("the scenic route", you could call it!) and I am so incredibly grateful that He had a much better idea and didn't give me what I wanted exactly when I wanted it.

The scenic route is ALWAYS better.

The cornerstone to His amazing plan for my life (from my current perspective) was/is my nursing career(I met my husband on the job, y'all! Don't tell me that life is random, God PLANNED that little introduction). I learned so much because of nursing. I learned to hear little, tiny whispers of a heart murmur and to trust that little, tiny whispered voice in my heart that said,"Something here is worse than anyone knows... stay close to this little one. She's going to need you to be on your toes, today". I learned to tell the "I'm hungry" cries from the "I'm wet" cries and most importantly, how to swaddle tight and hold heart-to-heart in case of the "I just wish I was back inside my mama!" cries that keep those frazzled first-time parents up all night. I could go on and on about what I learned because of being a nurse but the honest-to-goodness most important thing I learned was that in order to give the very best care of your patients, you have to LOVE your patients desperately like they belong to you. Like you are caring for YOUR baby/little sister/grandmother etc. 

It was through that little pearl of nursing wisdom that I met our newest babysitter. I was frequently her nurse  for YEARS back at Children's before she "aged out". She has always been one of those precious patients that you just can't help but love to pieces. A really good kid. Last week I ran into her here in Johnson City. Turns out, she lives within walking distance from our house and she LOVES to babysit. Also, turns out she's GREAT! She watched the boys yesterday and Declan loved her so much that he smooched her square on the mouth and yelled "BYE, S, BYE!!!" for 20 minutes after she left.  She cared for those wild boys so lovingly, just like I did for her years ago. The moral of this story is that one should take every opportunity to love on another mother's baby because you never know if that love will grow up, turn around and love on your baby in return. Being good to people is never ever a mistake. Neither is loving someone. 


S came over yesterday and watched the boys while I took myself on a little date. I went into an overcrowded(with merchandise, not actual people) over-priced boutique that I would have NEVER pushed a double stroller into. There I was hounded mercilessly by an over-eager saleslady. No, I will NOT buy cobalt blue capri jeans and just pretend they're petite, full-length jeans. That never ever works, y'all, because I can't adjust the placement of my knees. I'm short, not a side-show. 

I left and then travelled further down the road to a newly-opened nail salon. This place was staffed/owned/managed by an immigrant family* (see foot note). The father and the uncles were there, engrossed in their iPhones when I walked in. A small, twinkly-eyed little girl of about 3 flittered around the store and spoke the family's native tongue. A 6 year old boy with a buzz cut ran in and out of the shop. I requested a pedicure and was seated immediately. My feet were plunged into a hot, soapy tub to soak and I immediately escaped into a magazine. I felt more relaxed than I had all week. 

Then it happened. 

The Mama walked in. She'd been out running an errand, I suppose. Her thick, glossy black hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She was easily 7-8 months pregnant and looked as adorable as could be in her breezy maternity tunic, leggings and sparkly flip flops. Radiant, I'd say. At that moment, her little 3 year old daughter pranced right up to her and began chattering in the mother tongue. The Mama reached out her hand and beamed down at her little one with pride as she replied back to her daughter. They walked hand in hand, chirping happily back and forth as they made their way to the back of the shop... I didn't understand the words but the message was clear as a bell. And as I watched, I felt my heart smile a little bit and then I felt something else.

 I missed them.

 Those busybody boys of mine that, quite literally NEVER let me rest. They finished my nails and I paid and tipped and walked next door to a children's shop. As I walked back to the wall of stride-rites, my attention fell to a pair of "early walker" soft, rubber soled shoe in Aengus' size. And it struck me... Aengus will be walking in a few months (if I'm lucky) or weeks (if I'm NOT lucky)! How could it be that the best parts are flying by so incredibly fast? Tears welled up in my eyes and I slipped my shades back on and went home to my babies.
Never one to share the spot light, is he?

Part of me misses working. It was so much easier when I could compartmentalize my life. I got a reprieve from motherhood, if only for a moment. I could focus on one thing at a time and do a job that I was proud of.  I could get immediate feed-back on whether I was doing a good job or not. When I was done for the day, I could go pick up my happy baby and head home to snuggle until it was time to go to bed, wake up to do it all over again. It was exhausting. But this part of my life is harder. I don't get a break. I'm on the clock 24 hours a day and I wonder constantly if I'm doing right by them. I give Declan the same direction over and over and over again ("Declan, please, get down off the chair. Chairs are for bottoms, not for feet") and still, he climbs until I say it again. I am often out of breath and near tears by the time Ben gets home from work. Believe me when I say that stay-at-home mothering is by far the hardest job I've ever had. Sometimes, I am resentful. But maybe it's just because I'm tired. 

I am all-too-aware that these beautiful boys will only be little for such a short time... and it is breaking my heart. I know how blessed we are that I can stay home with these funny little souls and I am so grateful. Now, when either of them does something amazing, I can pull out a camera and take a picture instead of hearing about it after 4pm when I pick them up at daycare. Now, when it's beautiful outside, we pull the table on the deck and eat our lunch... then we play until we're so filthy and exhausted that all we can do is eat our dinner and get a bath. I get to be there for this amazing, beautiful, wonderful time and I really do love it. I certainly don't want to get to the end of this chapter of my life and feel like I missed even a typo. Now, I'm certain that I won't.  

*I love these immigrant family-owned nail salons. They work hard and their little funny kids help you pick out glittery polish. They understand if you hold your baby in your lap while you get your toes done and will often volunteer to give your baby a cuddle because they, too, know the secret about loving someone else's baby. Also, the stories are amazing... "We left Vietnam two years ago. I wanted my children to have a better education than me. I've been taking English at the night school and my daughter just got a nursing scholarship! She wants to help people!". Also, I only go to shops where I see them clean the foot soak tubs so, no, I'm not afraid of toe fungus.*

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