Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things Are Changing

There are things I said I would never do as a parent. I've eaten those words more often than I can count.

Bending my own rules is becoming something I need to get more comfortable with because it's happening with ever-increasing frequency. I didn't set the bar so high in the ethers that it should be difficult to attain, but I need to lower it a bit these days. I hear myself saying, "If you don't do this, then we can't...," a lot of bribes, negotiations, and a lot more no's than I feel okay with. I am not big on threats and suddenly I feel like I am using a few too many manipulative tools to get through the day. I want my child to learn direct consequences but lately I might be shoving it down her throat a bit.

My fuse is shorter than usual because I am exhausted. I am eight months pregnant and feel like my pants are too tight, even when I am not wearing any. I can only sleep in one position, I get hungry and it comes on so fast it hurts, I waddle and look like I stuffed a beach ball up my shirt. Lifting my daughter is an activity that has been greatly reduced lately. I feel these changes, so surely she is aware of them as well.  It is hard to decipher between her behavior now as being appropriate for her age, or her having an awareness that her world is changing.

After a recent tantrum that resulted in both Twig and I in tears, I called a friend to share my saga with her. She said she read somewhere that a tantruming toddler is like an abusive relationship. They scream at you, push you away, you walk away, they want you to come back, they swing at you (even hit you sometimes), and when it's all over they say, "I love you." That is exactly what it feels like. For Twig lately, she throws a fit when she wants to surprise me with an outfit, and then freaks out when she can't get it buttoned or zipped on her own. I try to help her, but she goes from zero to ninety rather quickly.

I understand her frustration though. She is trying so hard to show me how independent she can be. When it backfires, she feels so defeated. I also think about what's to come for her, and remember a YouTube video about how bringing home a new baby for your first child is like a husband walking in the door with a new wife. He isn't leaving you or loving you any less -- you just have to learn to share him now. My heart breaks just thinking about it. In addition I have my own reservations about how things will change. My husband and I have just figured out how to navigate with one child and now we are adding another to the mix. No doubt we are excited, but there is also a lot of "how will we do this with two?" floating around in our heads. We will figure it out. Everyone does. I just hope we don't resemble an abusive polygamist household before we get it down.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This past weekend was quite a heavy load of mixed emotions. Maybe one too many for my hormonal pregnant "bliss" that I am in.

To follow up on the last post. My friend's dog is going to be okay. My other close friend who I went on vacation with a few weeks ago went in to labor on Friday. While she was contracting away, her nine month old dog got out through a hole in their fence and was badly injured by a car. Her contractions stopped and they rushed the dog in to the pet hospital. I had her daughter and Twig when I got her call asking if I could watch her daughter a bit longer. I thought for sure she was heading to the hospital. She was, just not for her. The rest of the day was pretty heavy as they were told it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix the dogs legs and even then, it was no guarantee that she would be okay. They had to make a very hard decision, and at the last minute, a nurse at the veterinarian's office said she would adopt the dog, and do her best to nurse her back to health.

At first we were all stunned and a bit pissed that this situation would even be happening. It seemed like a Lifetime movie moment. Relinquish the rights to your dog and you don't have to decide to have her put down. When they got over the debate of whether or not this was even morally sound, they realized this was the best case scenario. The dog would be cared by someone who could afford the time and money to give her the care she needs. Two days later my friend gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. All went well, and when they bring him home they will be able to focus on caring for him without the added stress of wondering if the dog will be okay. She is in good hands, and so is the new baby.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ruff Ruff

I have names picked out for when the day comes that we can get a dog. Twig is three and a half and I am two months away from having a baby, so getting a dog right now is not exactly the best time. Last night though, my husband and I started talking about it. Twig has a few friends with dogs, and she has a real fondness for them. Especially if they don't jump on her. My husband and I always assumed one day we would get one but not until she was at least five or six.

We even know what kind of dog we would want. In some ways it's easier to picture what adding a pet to this family would be like than what a new baby will be like. I had always wanted one growing up, but my family had their one dog before I was even born. My husband has had many though, and can't imagine life as a child without a pet. He had dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, birds and fish. He can recite all of their names, tell you what type they all were and how old he was when he had them. He says the value in having a pet as a kid is something he wants to pass on to our kids.

Teaching a child about caring for something other than themselves is the first thing that came to mind, and I agree with the importance of that. He also spoke of what it was like to lose a pet, and how experiencing the death of an animal was such a powerful lesson to learn at a young age. At this moment in time, Twig keeps bringing up death. I think mostly because it is a hot topic within her peers at preschool, but also because without much emotion attached to it, she is fascinated by it. Of course, at her age she doesn't totally get it, but I am much older than she is and I don't get it entirely myself. I do understand that it's forever and that's the part that will take her time to wrap her head around.

We had dinner guests the other night, and the little girl of six had unfortunately lost her father to cancer. This happened three years ago and death is something she is very comfortable talking about. So comfortable that she introduced concepts to Twig that have prompted many conversations since. She now knows that everyone dies, and that there are many different ways to die. She asked if she could die with me, and I interrupted just as this girl said, "Well, there is something called suicide...". I'm all for openness, but I am not quite ready for that. Twig now asks if most sick or old people are going to die soon.

Even though I never had a dog myself I have gotten attached to a few of my friend's dogs. Dagmar belongs to one of my closest friends. She has been by her side since I met her over ten years ago. She was a cuddle bug and we had a lot of fun together. Whenever I went to visit my friend I got the warmest welcome from her. These days she is getting older, but she has seen us through a lot. When I brought Twig over to her house when she was a few weeks old, Dagmar was so gentle and protective. Now my friend has two girls of her own. The second is only a month old and yesterday while taking Dagmar for a walk, her legs went out from under her. It is an emotional time to think my friend could lose such a close friend, but rarely do our pets outlive us. I just can't imagine how her almost three year old will handle such news. Whatever happens "Diggy" (as she is often called) has given a lot of people a lot of love. I do look forward to this family expanding our hearts to a furry friend one day too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


On your marks, get set, go. Count to five, then wait for someone to start crying.  That's what happens a lot lately with Twig and her friends.  Competition has entered the arena. Between that and the increased awareness of all of the Disney princess' and their names, I'm cringing a bit. Sometimes the conversation between the girls is about who got down the stairs faster, or who ran faster, but sometimes it's about hair being longer, skirts twirling more, or my least favorite one... who is the prettiest. When I hear feelings being hurt I step in but otherwise, I carefully try to keep out of it. 

I know its all natural and that this, just like everything else, is a phase. I just hate to see my kid who loves to run fast, make everything about beating someone else.  Competition isn't all bad.  After years in a highly competitive sport, I know that competition has it's positive side. I just didn't expect it so young.  I also see how sometimes, unintentionally, the girls hurt each other's feelings. Side by side with this comparing they are doing also comes telling each other what to do. I hear a bossy tone come from Twig sometimes and wonder if that is how I sound to her. It's adorable when I hear her quote me with something sweet like "I love the way you did that" but when she comes out with "I do NOT like it when you do that" to her friends,  I tense my shoulders and scratch my head at the same time.

I only know what I hear when I am privey to her conversations with her little friend. I drive them both home from school together and listen as they tell each other what to do and comment on which one "wins" what.  I step in as little as my impulse will let me and most of the time when I stay out of it, they work things out themselves. After all, most of the time they play well together as we adults hang in another room. When it gets too much for one, they know how to kindly ask the other for a bit of quiet time. Much to my surprise, they give each other that break whenever it's asked without any offense taken. If only we could all master that as adults.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Much Needed

For the first time in three and a half years, I went away on a mini-vacation - without my daughter. At seven months pregnant, I am about to lose any chance of getting a break for a while so I decided to take advantage of my husband's willingness to spend a few days alone with Twig and take a quick get-away with a friend to Palm Springs. My friend is also pregnant and the two of us have been looking forward to this for quite some time. We both have girls the same age and, as mentioned in previous posts, age three is not exactly a breeze. A break was just what we needed.
With our bags packed and ready to go we decided to leave right after morning preschool drop-off. I told Twig the day before that I would be going and that she would be with Daddy. I also explained that I was going with her friend's mommy and that they could play together while we were away. She took the news so well, I questioned if she even understood. The next morning when I reminded her that Daddy was going to pick her up from school, I changed the subject quickly after I said it just to soften the blow. No reaction. When I said goodbye to her in the car, there was a brief pause and then quickly she and her friend were giggling and forgot I was even there. As the car pulled away, the only tears shed were mine.

She did fantastic and was tear-free the whole time I was gone. My friend and I enjoyed our leisurely ride to the desert, stopping to browse around the outlets and never once glancing at our watch to concern ourselves with school pick-up or nap time. We arrived at our hotel, had a lovely snack at the bar, sat around chatting for a while and then ate a nice dinner. We went to bed late and tried our best to sleep in. But between two pregnant women running often to the loo and our daily ritual of early wake-ups, we managed to sleep till 8:30am - definitely a luxury. Our day was more of the same relaxation. Breakfast in the sun, poolside lounging and a nice long swim. After lunch by the pool we eventually had to think about heading back home.

When we finally got back to our husbands and girls, we were so excited to see them. After getting the biggest hug from my Twig, we sat down to enjoy dinner all together. Of course it wasn't long before the tears came. Twig was pretty exhausted from hanging with her friend and wanted to hang on me a bit to let me know. She hadn't had a nap and her loving and warm welcome wore pretty quickly. I didn't feel quite up to speed on my reaction to her as I was still very much in vacation mode. It wasn't exactly what I expected to come home to, but it was a small price to  pay for a much needed get-away.