This Morning My Son Taught Me One of Life’s Greatest Lessons. And it Broke My Heart.

This morning was one of those warm, rainy, drizzly days where you think you can walk through it without getting wet, but before you know it you’re drenched.  I was going through my normal morning routine with my three children, just trying to get them out the door to take my son to school so I could make my way to the grocery store.  With the normal hiccups of the morning (getting my daughter into her stroller, getting the stroller down the stairs, etc) I asked my son for help per usual.  He’s a bit of a daydreamer which I actually love, but on mornings like this, it just served as an irritant for me.  I had to ask him repeatedly to put down his umbrella to help me bring the stroller down the stairs which at the time seemed like an unachievable task to him.  He finally did it, but there was a quiver of the lip after my not so gentle requests for him to “hurry up” and “get it together”.

After that small hiccup, we were on our way in the rain to school.  No more than 20 steps into our walk, I hear whimpering.  My son had begun having issues with his umbrella and couldn’t keep up with me.  The whimpering turned into whines, and the whines into “I JUST CAN’T DO IT!!” followed by sniffles and crying.  *sigh*  I’m not one who’s against crying, but nothing irritates me more than whining and crying over EVERYTHING.  I’m one of those people that bulldozes through every frustration and I unrealistically expect the same of my son.  However, what I said was, “You CAN do this.  Now, get it together and follow me.  You’re going to be late if we don’t stop this nonsense.”  I just called my son’s feelings nonsense.  Shit.

My son’s face clearly showed not just frustration now, but the beginnings of defeat.  His head hung low, and his little feet rushing to catch up to my long and speedy stride, I just hoped that he would shake it off and make it to school.  But could I leave it alone?  Nope.  I kept trying to give him advice.  I mentioned how he was a big boy now.  How he couldn’t act like this when he begins his taekwan-do lessons next week.  And THIS and THAT and THIS and THAT.  I was THAT mother.  The nagging, irritating, commanding mother.  What happened next broke my heart.

He just stopped and started sobbing.  And really sobbing from his heart.  Not the whiney, whimpers that I heard earlier.  True sadness pouring from his little body.  I stopped in my tracks.  I no longer cared if we were going to be late.  Locking the stroller, and slowly crouching down, I opened my arms and just held him.  Feeling his tears trickle down my neck I knew I needed to listen to the small, gentle boy that I call my son.  So, I asked him, “What’s wrong?  Why are you crying?”  He said, “I’m crying because I’m hurting.  That’s what you do when you hurt.  You cry.  I’m just trying to be 6.  And…I feel really bad about myself.”  He broke down crying again and I about started crying myself as I held him.

I looked into his ocean colored eyes and really looked at him.  He’s still a baby.  He’s my baby.  With the other two babies that I have, I’ve forgotten that he’s still one himself.  Studying his little face, I began to say the words to him that I should’ve said a long time ago.  I said:

“I want you to listen to me…and listen to me closely.  You are stronger than you know.  Do you know why?  Because you’re you.  I know you feel weak sometimes.  That is ok.  But you need to remember that you aren’t weak.  You are strong.  And you are beautiful.  Do you know why you are strong?  Because I am strong.  Because you’re my boy.  You will always be my boy.  I want you to know something else.  When I was little, I cried too.  I cried a lot but was told not to cry.  That’s why I said those words to you.  And you know what?  I was wrong.  You were right.  When it hurts inside, you do cry.  And that’s okay.  I love you little man.”

This was one of the first times my son listened to me with his eyes locked with mine in a very long time.  He took every word I said and let it soak in just like he did all the other times I used those rushed words of hurry, worry and anxiety.  In fact, what I fail to realize on a daily basis is that he listens to EVERYTHING I say.  And he takes it to heart.  And what I was saying was making him hurt.  After a hug, a kiss, and another ‘I love you’, we began making our way to school again.  About a block away from where we last stopped, I hear, “mama?”  to which I said, “Yes little man?”  “I’m still sad.”  I figured he would be a little sad, but the reason why is what blew me away.  I stopped again to face my little guy and asked “Why?”  He looked at me with his wide innocent eyes, and said, “Because I didn’t know I was special.  I thought I couldn’t be special until I was a big person.”  *heart breaking again*

To this I replied:

“You are especially special because you AREN’T a big person.  You’ve been special from the very day you were born and will continue to be special everyday from there forward.  Do you know why you are special to me?   You were my first baby.  Before you, I wasn’t a mama.  That means you are forever special to me in my heart.  You will always be my first baby.  My special baby boy.”

A hint of a smile crossed his face and a flicker of the glimmer in his eye returned.

When we arrived to school I told him that I wanted him to remember two things today.

Number 1: You ARE Special

Number 2: I love you.

We repeated those two reminders a few times before parting ways this morning.  This is a morning that I will never forget.  Not because it was raining.  Not because we were going to be late.  But because today, I was forced to take a good hard look at myself and realize that I have a lot to learn about what it means to be human.  To allow myself moments to cry.  To allow myself moments to feel weak.  To allow myself to make mistakes and not yell at myself for them.  To allow myself the time to stroll instead of hurry.  But most of all…to take moments to stop and listen to my son because what he’s thinking and feeling comes directly from his heart.  And that alone in itself is something that can’t be taught.  It must be felt.  With all my heart.

Logan as a baby.  Me, as a new, first time mother.

Logan as a baby. Me, as a new, first time mother.

Thank you little man for being my greatest teacher this morning.

TODDLER BEDTIME: When Enough is Enough, When Do You Pass the Torch and Let Go?

It’s 10:15pm and my husband and I just finished managing what must be one of the biggest toddler meltdowns of history.  My 18 month old daughter is being weaned from her bottle and while the last two nights (and days for that matter) have been successful, tonight was a full on stand-off between she and us.  And man…I’ve never met a more stubborn toddler until tonight.  And I mean S-T-U-B-B-O-R-N.

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The night time ritual was as it always is after dinner.   She and I start the routine by taking our showers, brushing our teeth and getting her into her crib with a book.  Then it’s my son’s turn while I feed the baby.  It’s usually around this time that my husband steps in to help with our daughter while I finish the evening with dental duties, assigned reading and checking of homework with my eldest.  My daughter usually puts up some kind of a fuss, but is always quickly soothed with a “shh shh shh” and a bottle from daddy.  Well, since she had been so great about lying down and going to bed without one these past two nights, we thought tonight would be no different.  We were DEAD WRONG.

She went into full on meltdown mode.  After about 20 minutes of screaming at the top of her lungs, I walk out from putting the baby back down to sleep to find my husband walking toward her nursery with a full bottle in hand.  Like a traffic cop, I stopped him dead in his tracks and said “Nuh Uh.  We’re not doing this.  Not anymore.  She has to learn!”  As you can imagine a short argument ensued and I walked away to tend to our now crying newborn.  Closing the door behind me, I hear a short break in her vehement protest to a few suckles of a bottle, and then SLAM!  There goes the bottle…followed by not just screaming.  Blood curdling screaming and the sound of my husband walking away.

Okay, so we’re going to do the ignore her behavior thing.  I can do this.  I finally am able to finish soothing my newborn back to sleep while the screaming continues and I begin to hear banging sounds coming from her crib.  After each bang, shrieks ensue.  So, I come out of the bedroom yet again, to find her doing her best WWE impression, running from one end of her crib and banging her head into the other.  Seeing this, I immediately swoop her up to try to comfort her.  She throws her self around in my arms giving me more of a core workout than I’ve ever given myself causing me to have to sit down to gently lie her to the floor.  What happened next could’ve won her an academy award.  She’s now crying so hard that she’s growling and kicking the floor with both feed simultaneously.  The harder she cries, the harder she kicks.  Then she starts log rolling across the floor…Back and forth.  After this, she decides perhaps she could do the inch worm on her back across the living room.  Once she makes it to the dining room, she slowly flipped over and buried her head in her arms in child’s pose.   I think, “perhaps if I just sit here, she’ll fall asleep on the floor and I can move her to her crib?”  NOPE.

As I sit quietly sit next to her, she continues to grizzle and dramatically pull herself across the floor, slowly crawling with her head hung low, like a scorned puppy.  She crawls like this throughout the house until she makes it to the refrigerator door where she proceeds to lie down in the fetal position and look at me with the most pathetic look a child could give.  The crying stops.  And in that moment of silence, I hear the baby cry.  And I want to cry.  But I don’t.  I just look at her and ask in the cheeriest of voices, “Want to come help me with the baby?”  She immediately perks up, smiles ear to ear, and yells, “YEAH!” and tippy toe runs down the hall.  What are the odds?  I’ve been played by a toddler.

So, I follow her to my bedroom and pick the baby up.  I invite her to sit with us on the bed and after a moment ask, “Would you like to sleep in mommy’s bed?”  She sweetly smiles and nods her little head ‘yes’.  So I pull the covers back, and she snuggles in and curls up.  Then she starts playing with the zipper on the pillow.  Then she tries to take the pillow apart.  Then she wants to hug and kiss the baby.  And it goes on…I look at the clock.  It’s 8:30.  We started this an hour ago.  AND WHERE THE HELL IS MY HUSBAND??

Next, I try turning off the night lamp thinking perhaps it’s distracting her from sleeping.  No such luck.  She starts log rolling again only this time, giggling all the way.  One log roll away from falling off the bed, I catch her by the ankle and say to myself.  THAT’S IT!  So, I put the newborn to bed (he somehow slept through this) and coaxed her into the idea of reading a book.  I choose a Dr. Suess book, and carry her to her crib.  Reading every last page of ABC’S with Dr Suess, I say, “Ok, all done!  Would you like me to scratch your back to sleep?”  She whimpers but then says ‘yes’ with a nod and lies on her tummy.  “Relief at last!” I think to myself.  Just when I think she’s dozed off, I start to tip toe away.  I make it 1/4 step before I hear those blood curdling shrieks again.  The baby has started to cry again too.  W…T…F.

I bet you’re wondering what I did.  Here’s what I did.

I WALKED AWAY…

I MARCHED DOWN TO THE BASEMENT…

PULLED MY HUSBAND BACK UPSTAIRS TO HELP…

STRAPPED THE BABY IN THE ERGO AND STARTED TO MAKE MY SON’S LUNCH AND SNACK.

Within the next 15 minutes my husband had no luck either so when I heard him approaching the kitchen, I figured he was calling it quits.  What he actually did was walk in, place her bottle in the fridge, sit calmly at the table for a moment, stand back up, go to the fridge, take out the bottle and say, “I’m going to try something”.  Then, he walks back to her nursery, and just like that…there’s silence.  I hear a few “shh shh’s” and that’s it.  After 5 minutes I hear him walking back to the kitchen, bottle in hand and place the bottle back in the fridge.  Then he just walks away like nothing happened.  I immediately think, “WTF JUST HAPPENED…AND WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?”

At this point, I’m not asking questions.  All I’m saying is that the next time this happens, I’m passing the torch 2 hours earlier and letting go of the situation.  Ridiculousness.  Pure ridiculousness.

There are Two Very Important Things I Did Differently This Morning That Made Me More Productive.

Well it’s Monday morning again, and it’s time to get the house ready for the entire week. As always, there is laundry to be washed, carpets to be cleaned, furniture to be dusted and produce to be chopped and organized for the week. Oh yeah… I’m also home with two children under the age of two. Let’s not forget that.

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Usually I wake up with the dreaded hours ahead feeling quite overwhelmed from the items on my to do list that I never write down. The morning usually seems rushed, uncomfortable, and full of chaos. So this morning, I decided to do something different. I decided that I wasn’t going to leave my bedroom until the bed was made, and I was fully dressed from head to toe; socks, shoes, everything. The night before, I had spent some time reading a blog by another mother who swore by this method of starting her day. Her reasoning was that if you have your bed made and your shoes on before you start your day, you approach your day with my professional outlook.

So I thought I’d give it a shot. This morning, I took my time, made the bed, got dressed head to toe, & put my socks and shoes on before even leaving my bedroom. From there, I started my day. And to my surprise, everything went more smoothly. Not only was able to move quicker with more control in chasing the kids, I had a more confident stride my step…Along with a better attitude. I was able to empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, make breakfast for the entire family, pack my sons lunch and snack, & get everyone dressed and ready and out the door within 1 hour’s time.

As someone who thrives on being productive, I find some of these days where I am home with two children under the age of two very frustrating. And what frustrates me the most, are those moments when I think that I’m being clever with one child in a highchair eating breakfast, another sitting at the table eating breakfast, and I think I can leave the room for a moment while the baby of the group is sleeping to unload the dryer. And when I return, I find blueberries strewn across the floor, strawberries squished and splattered against the wall, my oldest boy taunting my toddler in her highchair and the baby of the group screaming for a feed. Pair that with me being in my pajamas with only 30 minutes left to get everything together before my son needs to be at school. Seems about right that I should be putting myself first and getting dressed top to bottom with shoes on before any of this chaos inevitably happens.

So what’s the point of my story? The point is I’ll be putting myself first every morning from here on out so that I can take myself seriously as a stay at home mother. I can’t imagine that my children take me any more seriously than I do with my hair disheveled, my clothing askew and running around in slippers all morning so why should I? Being a stay-at-home mother is not only a privilege, it’s a profession. It is my job to raise these little rascals to be decent human beings but above all to know how to take care of themselves and be able to do so in the midst of chaos. Because that’s exactly what the professional world is, at least where I live – one big world of chaos.

My Role as a Mother Has Changed Me Over the Last 6 Years…and For the Better

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My days as a stay-at-home mother pretty much start out the same way each morning.  After a night of waking every 3-4 hours to feed and change my newborn, I usually wake to the sound of my son sneaking in my bedroom to grab the iPad (a no-no on school mornings) or to the sound of my toddler sweetly saying “mama” until I stir.  This all sounds harmless enough except that it happens right around 5:30 am everyday.  And the sweetness lasts for a total of about 5 minutes.  Then…reality hits.

Currently, my newborn is cosleeping with me for comfort due to an adverse affect to something that is in my breastmilk.  The doctor and I have narrowed it down to one of three things: coffee, whey protein, and/or dairy.  So far, his symptoms of vomiting everything he eats up have lessened since eliminating my one cup of coffee a day, however there are still some moments still where I wake with a  nice splash of vomit to the face or a full serving of BM down my shirt.  Needless to say, my laundry duties have increased 10 fold.  Perfect timing for eliminating my precious coffee! AHH!!!!

Anyway, as a result of this minor hiccup, my husband is sleeping on the couch as the growling gurgles coming from our smallest cause him anxiety-ridden sleepless nights.  He also thinks its more important that I get the rest needed for the long hours of my day ahead and to be able to comfortably feed the baby without any worry of waking him up.  I couldn’t feel more blessed for this.  As my husband wakes at 4am for work anyway, this also means that I have help in the wee hours of the morning when my toddler decides she wants to scream for attention.  WIN/WIN

As I sit here at the computer, I’m thinking about my years spent as a mother and how much has changed as a result. Prior to the birth of my 2nd and 3rd children, I still used to wake up at 4:30am every morning. But, it would be to cook a tray full of chicken breasts and sweet potatoes, and a pot full of brown rice in order to take my 5 mini meals to work with me.  I’d head to the gym at 5:30 am to get in my first of two sessions of cardio in before seeing my first client.  I’d begin my work day by training clients in the gym from 6:00am-4:00pm with an 1.5 hour break to lift weights and do another round of cardio.   I’d head home to pick my son up from Pre-K, cook dinner, bathe him and read to him and head to bed to start all over again the next day.  In short, I was a machine.  A pure machine.

Nowadays, my schedule looks quite a bit different.  I still wake early, but it’s not by choice to the sound of an alarm.  My children are my alarms now and I’m at their beck and call.  There are no chicken breasts and sweet potatoes cooking in the oven.  There are no morning sessions of cardio.  Instead, there are the incredible tasks of juggling three children who want nothing more than my attention and care.  So far today, I’ve been able to accomplish getting three children dressed, fed and out the door for school drop off, stop at the store with my two smallest, and head back home for morning snack time.  There’s a large basket of laundry staring at me, a happy toddler face covered in cereal and smoothie in a high chair reaching for me, and a gurgling and cooing baby in the crib across the room who is probably prepping another explosive diaper for me to change.  Do I have time for myself?  Sure… I work out, eat well and even shower. (!!!)  But not before tackling a day full of meltdowns, cuddles, dirty faces, smelly diapers, and sticky hands.  And I can’t say that I have the incredible drive, but I still do these things because it’s important.  I no longer do things for the sake of proving anything to myself.  I do them out of love.

This is why I’m deciding to blog about my daily happenings as a mom instead of only about food and fitness.  Because at the end of the day, I’ve spent the majority of my hours as a mom and have a hell of a lot more to share about that than more “How-to’s” on how to shred those last pesky 5 lbs of fat off your ass.  So please feel free to follow along and read my posts.  If you’re a mom, a soon-to-be mother, or someone who just loves reading mommy blogs, please visit my site http://www.opalmom.com where I will share my experiences and strategies on how I get through my day as a mother.  I’ll also be posting my reviews of different services, products and places relevant to being a mother.

My way of doing things includes 4 things: Organize, Prioritize, Act and Let Go making up the acronym OPAL.  I hope to inspire and share with other mothers so please send along any comments, questions, or stories!  I’d love to hear them!

OPAL Mom™ Favorite: Green Kid Crafts: Creativity and STEM Science Kits for Kids!

Green Kid Crafts

Green Kid Crafts: Creativity and STEM Science Kits for Kids!

Green Kid designs and delivers hands-on, award winning, and eco-friendly Discovery Boxes, Creativity Kits, and STEM Science Kits (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Here you’ll find information about our kid’s subscription program, our best gifts for preschoolers and kids ages 3-10, our favorite kid’s science experiments, plus craft ideas for kids.
 

Give the gift of creativity with Green Kid Crafts!

What to Expect Each Month

  • 3-4 award winning Creativity and STEM Science Kits (science, technology, engineering, and math) designed by experts to build confidence, flex creativity, and make kids smarter. Look Inside a box to learn more.
  • All materials and instructions, along with some fun extras!
  • An exciting new theme, think Outer Space, Kitchen Science, Nocturnal Animals, Backyard Science, Ocean, and Mad Scientist.
  • Included free for subscribers: Exclusive online collection of additional activities, reading lists, games, puzzles, and more each month, all centered about the monthly theme!
  • Get Ready for October’s Legends & Folktales Box! This box is full of activities that will promote the emotional and imaginative development of kids. Your kings, queens, knights, and princesses will create their own Storytelling Kit, Design wearable Crowns, and have a blast hurling projectiles around the room after making their own Catapult. Can’t wait until October? Order one of our single purchase Discovery Boxes, too!

  Green Kid Crafts Awards

My 17 month old daughter counts her piggies in glitter

For the last week, my 17 mth old daughter has been asking about the nail polish on my toes. So, this morning I decided to try something. I decided to buy Sally Hansen Polish strips in pink glitter this morning and attempt to give my daughter her first pedicure. I showed the package to my daughter and she instantly hopped on a chair and took off her socks pointing at her toe nails. She kicked and giggled with glee as I applied the first strips to her precious piggies. We sang together as she “ooh’d” and “ahh’d” after each application. I think I even heard a WOW!!! After one foot was finished, she was impressed and caressed my hair lovingly.

However, in true 17 month old fashion, she wanted to be finished. After some kicking and fussing, and some more singing (I think it was the song from Sharon, Lois and Bram that did the trick) we somehow compromised and finished the second foot.

FIRST PEDICURE = SUCCESS

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Eating Clean…for Labor?

 

There’s a common phrase being thrown around out there for eating fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins and whole grains.  It’s called CLEAN EATING.  I’ve used this term also and still use it.

Throughout my pregnancy (3rd), I’ve consistently followed a clean diet and have had a virtually symptomless pregnancy. Yesterday, at 36 weeks 2 days pregnant, I learned from my OB that I am already 3cm dilated and 50% effaced.  She basically said that I could deliver this baby either tomorrow, or two weeks from now.  Either way, I want to do what I can to prepare.

I was so surprised when she said that I was 3 cm when only two weeks prior, I was O cm and 0% effaced.  However, like some other pregnant women nearing the end of their pregnancies, I’ve begun to indulge a bit more and as a result, end up feeling achy, crampy, and lethargic.  This happened after my exam yesterday.20140828-084933-31773109.jpg

As soon as my husband and I left the dr., we went our usual route to Starbucks to pick up coffee beans and for me, a decaf iced drink.  Along with my iced drink, I picked up a slice of pumpkin loaf which has become a trend for me in the past 3 weeks.  No biggie.  But then, I got home, and as it was late, we decided to order out.  Pizza and salads.  Sure, I ordered a salad.  But i ate all the chicken off it and proceeded to eat two slices of greasy pizza while finishing my decaf iced coffee.  And you know what happened?  I immediately became congested, had a lovely case of diarrhea, and  went into a series of BH contractions ranging from 5 minutes apart to 11 minutes apart for the next 4 hours accompanied with a back ache and an overall feeling of bloat.  These are in fact symptoms of impending labor, but having done this twice before, I knew that this wasn’t labor.  Regardless, this continued through the evening leaving me with a very restless sleep that woke me every 3 hours.  Labor seemed imminent…that is, until I woke up and changed my tune.

I woke with a headache that would rival the worst hangover, a bloated face and fingers, and a very very sluggish demeanor.  This was at 4:00am.  So, I thought having a bowl of cereal would help.  One bowl of cereal turned into two, followed by a food coma.  Falling asleep again, I woke to the sound of two children screaming MAMA! at 7:30am with all the same symptoms that I had at 4:00am.  Regardless, I pulled myself out of bed, and went to the washroom to splash my face with water and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  I looked just as bloated and congested as I felt.  But…my contractions were gone.  So, I had a window of time to try to alleviate my symptoms.

I ran to the kitchen, and while making breakfast for my kids, went to my go-to breakfast for warding off colds – Green juice and fresh fruit.  Within 10 minutes of eating a few bites and sipping some green juice, I began to feel better.  Not just ok, but actually better.  My Braxton Hicks contractions started again but were spaced far apart again, baby #3 started kicking happily, the feeling of bloat began to subside, and my energy returned.  As with any clean breakfast like this, a trip to the bathroom isn’t rare, but the feelings associated are not ones of nausea.  My sinuses cleared almost immediately and my pep in my step returned.

SO here are my thoughts.  Knowing that the body cleanses itself out before the onset of labor by means of releasing bodily fluids and waste, why not try eating cleaner in preparation for labor?  No woman enjoys being uncomfortable, cramped and achy in the final weeks of pregnancy and for some, this is just unavoidable.  But, in my case it seems that my well-being and over physical wellness is directly affected by the food that I feed it.  Having a symptomless pregnancy while clean eating may be a coincidence, but I’m beginning to believe differently.  I’m thinking that by continuing to eat clean through to the end may help prepare my body for labor by keeping my body full of vitamins and nutrients, clear of toxins and congestants, and lowering my blood pressure by keeping foods high in fat, salt, and sugar from causing undue stress on my digestive system.  I’m going to give it a try!