Wednesday, October 26, 2011

There Are Perks To This Job

After dropping the kids off this morning, I got picked up by an Enterprise representative and got the keys to my very own. . . GROCERY GETTER! That's right, my bridge rental is a minivan!

Full disclosure: I have been secretly jonesin for a minivan since, one by one, my other friends have succumbed to their increasing family size (and gear to take with said families) and gotten minivans. I have looked with envy at the various options. The storage! The third row of seats! The doors that automatically slide open and shut! SWOON.

I mean, c'mon. There is a reason that people buy minivans. And it isn't for the cool factor. It's for the convenience. And the ROOM for people and their things.

And it does have satellite radio! So you can rest assured that I will literally be rocking the Mommy Mobile.

I have a feeling they are gonna have to drag me kicking and screaming from this one in a few weeks. My real company car has a lot to live up to!

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Day

I have a fairly non-traditional job. Because of that, today really wasn't bad as far as first days go.

I didn't have to meet my boss until 11:00 AM. So I fed the kids breakfast and took them over to C's house at 9:30. I hung out with her until a little after 10, just getting them settled in. Will has been so excited to go stay with C and leaving him was no issue. Emma has been very clingy lately, so I expected a bit of Mama Drama from her, but she was engrossed in a book and her binky and she didn't seem disturbed. A text from C assured that all was well after I left.

I changed into some professional clothes and headed to meet my boss. He bought me a cup of coffee, we signed some paperwork, chatted about training and other logistics, and then I was on my way home. I pulled up just as the FedEx truck did. Four large boxes were being stacked on my porch. My computer, printer/fax, and study materials had arrived.

I spent some time getting my computer fired up, set up my voicemail, and then had to call in for a new hire conference call. Basic stuff, kind of boring, nothing surprising. . . except that the training schedule is slightly different than I been told that it would be and I will be gone an extra week in December that I wasn't aware of, on top of another week I will be gone for a regional meeting. So that was a bit of a "gulp" moment, but it is what it is. Nothing I can do about it now.

There were some pleasant suprises along the way. I got a call from corporate fleet services with my rental car information. I get my Blackberry tomorrow. Those are nice perks to be sure.

There was another conference call a bit later on with my new sales district with the obligatory "Welcome to the Team" introduction. Then there was a lot of discussion about sales and metric attainment and business planning. Most of it went way over my head, but that's to be expected.

Through out it all, my house was so. . . quiet. It's funny that they are so close (steps across the street), yet seem so far away. A few times, I found myself thinking that I was hearing Emma or Will upstairs, since the only time I am downstairs by myself is when they are napping. I would strain for a minute, listening, and then realize. . . they aren't here.

And that was it. I picked up the kids at 4:30. Not really bad for a first day. It still feels so surreal.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Day

Well, of course, technically, Sunday will be my last day before work. But today is my final non-work-work-day.

I don't really know how to describe my feelings today. Most of all, I think I am just ready to get this party started. The anticipation of the past two months has been brutal.

Will has been an angel this week. Seriously, his behavior has been a complete 180 from last week. He has been helpful, kind, funny, and sweet. Whatever was going on for those few weeks has, for the time being, seemed to have eased. It has made this last week even more wonderful and yet bittersweet, because there have been so many moments that were exactly as I pictured life as a SAHM would be. We baked cookies, did crafts, snuggled on the couch and watched a movie, and went on a few walks.

Emma was teething last week and earlier this week, so she has been super-clingy and all about The Mama. But she seems to have gotten her teething out of the way, too, and the last couple of days, she has been her usual, sunny self. She has such a sense of humor and is already my little prankster.

I definitely am feeling melancholy today. I know that this next phase of our lives will bring good and bad. But being a SAHM wasn't all sunshine and roses. There were days when I felt lonely, where I felt as if I was living in that "Groundhog's Day" movie. There were days when these kiddos brought me to tears, nights when M would come home and I would hand him a baby and walk outside to sit in the car for a few minutes (Mommy Time Out). There were definitely good days and bad days.

I am excited to be more financially stable. We have medical bills that need paying, a car that needs new tires, and so many things around the house that need fixing/replacing. It will be nice to be able to do all of these things and to get caught up. It will be nice to go the mailbox without cringing at the stack of bills inside.

I know our family will make it through this and find a new normal. Honestly, I am aware that it will likely be hardest on me (and possibly Emma). Nothing much changes for M, except for when I need to travel, but that is pretty minimal after I am done with training. Will is super excited about going to his friend's house to play every day. Emma is definitely going through separation anxiety right now, but we have been purposefully spending a lot of time at my friend's house this last month, so she would feel more comfortable there. I think she might have a few minutes of "Where are you going, Mommy?" each morning for the first few days, but I think she will acclimate quickly.

And as long as they are okay. . . I will be, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just When You Can't Take Anymore

I have noticed a definite pattern with kids. . . THERE IS NO PATTERN.

Just when you think your baby/toddler/child is sleeping through the night, they start waking up.

Just when you can't take another night of being woken up several times, they start sleeping through.
Just when they are loving mashed potatoes and gravy with meatloaf for dinner, they start complaining when you make it for them.

Just when you have lost the recipe for the meatloaf, they ask for it.

And just when you are about to call the pediatrician for a consult with a child psychologist, because either your three year old is a sociopath OR he has been abducted by aliens. . .

He returns.

The sweetness, love, and light you have counted on returns.

The tantrums disappear.

Life is strangely peaceful.

And then the one year old gets a cold and starts breaking through their one year molars. . .

and it's back to the starting line.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Separating Anxiety

As the days dwindle on this phase of my life, I am feeling all sorts of sentimental. Being a SAHM has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. It was my life-long dream and the fact that it's over . .. I honestly still can't believe it.

I know this next move is what is best for our family on many different levels. Like most things in life, there will be some not-so-great-things that come with it. I am both trying to stay in this spot and reach forward all at once.

I remember right before Emma was born, I experienced these same feelings. I knew everything was about to change. I knew it would be for the best and I knew it was a change that I wanted. But. . . it was still so hard to let go of the life I had been leading, knowing the way it would alter my relationship with both M and Will, knowing that things would never be the same. While I was incredibly excited to get on with the show, I also tried to cling to those last few days, make the very best of them. I remember the frustration I felt, that I should have been able to "do" those days better, but the exhaustion of pregnancy and my nerves challenged me, and those last few days felt chaotic and emotionally raw.

Well, here we go again. I am clinging to these last few days, knowing that our lives are about to change, that things will never be the same. With Emma going through a bout of teeting (three molars at ONCE) and Will going through The Threes, I definitely feel as if these days could be "done" better. I am nervous myself, wondering how I am going to manage the fine art of working outside of the home and parenting two children. Oh, and toss being a wife and CEO of All Things House in there, too. I know millions of people do it every day, but I know it is challenging. I know there will be good days and bad days and lots of in between days.

The only "cure" for this last time was just to DO IT; just to have Emma and get on with the new life. Anticipation is the worst emotion to me, because there is no action in it. Once I am started, we will all have the adjustment phase and then we can react to the challenges that we meet along the way. But we will be doing it, rather than planning for it or just thinking about it.

I think the biggest thing that I need to keep in mind is that, no matter what, my kids will still be my kids. I will still have a relationship with them, and even though it will look a bit different than it does now, that doesn't mean it isn't a good relationship - that it can't even be a better relationship! I just need to really, really believe that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Follow Up

Lest anyone think that poor Will is still locked up in his bedroom, crying, he came out after his TWO HOUR tantrum yesterday and actually was a reasonable child for the rest of the day. We had a pleasant day. Since he had tantrumed through breakfast and refused his waffle and sausage, he was starving at lunchtime and ate almost an entire box of macaroni and cheese, plus chicken nuggets, and corn. He then took a nice, long nap, which allowed both of us some time to restore.

I read each of your comments (and the half dozen e-mails that I got) and I am both grateful that I am not the only one to encounter these issues, and also eager to try some new strategies. What we are currently doing isn't really working well, so I am always eager to try something different.

I do try to help Will express his feelings and attempt to empathasize with him through his tantrums. Especially when he first starting having these drastic tantrums that were so unlike what we had experienced before. I figured he was sick. . . or tired. . . or having an out of body experience. Over time, I have found that the problem is that though he will respond to that. . . he will then ramp up again when he realizes that he still isn't getting what he wants.

If I can catch him before he gets to the "Red Zone" of his tantrum, I might have about a ten percent chance of distracting or redirecting him. So, I do try. But. . . again, it's all in the timing. And if it is something he is absolutely set on, then it doesn't matter what I do to try and change things up. Putting him in his room is really just the best for everyone. It's best for him because it seems to be where he can calm himself down the best and it's best for me because I can keep my cool when I get some time away from the intense screaming. Also, please know, I don't just leave him in there by himself for the entire time. I go and check on him from time to time to make sure he is okay. I tell him he is welcome to come out of his room any time he is done crying. And when he comes out (done with his tantrum), I greet him as if he has been at sea for seven years. I tell him how happy I am that he is done crying and I immediately give him lots of positive attention.

As far as preventing a tantrum, goes. . . I give him a lot of choices through out the day ("Do you want waffles or pancakes for breakfast?", "Do you want to wear the digger shirt or the choo choo shirt?","Do you want to go to Safeway or WinCo to grocery shop?", etc.) and I don't care that he picks a specific utensil, shirt, crayon, store, toy, etc. The only problem with that is sometimes his requests are inappropriate or I simply cannot give him what he wants (my friend wasn't even home yesterday) and then. . . well, tantrum here we go.

I should point out that, in between tantrums and arguments, Will is still a wonderful little boy. His preschool teacher always compliments his "big heart" and tells me that when a fellow classmate hurts themself, he is the first to put down whatever he is doing and run to his injured friend to pat their back and ask the teacher for an "ice pack" for them.

The reason that this behavior tears at my heart the most is not the headache it causes me. It is the fact that he seems so desperately unhappy. I hate to see him so sad, angry, and frustrated. Up until a few weeks ago, if I had just one word to describe Will, it would have been "HAPPY". Now, I guess I would have to use the word "ANGRY", and that just makes me feel awful. It also makes me take a swim in the sea of Mom-guilt. After all, we are in the middle of a big change as a family. I have been gone more lately and will definitely be gone more very shortly. Has this shift caused this, or would it have happened regardless? No way to know, and soon this new way of life will become our new normal, and so if that's the cause, it should fade. If it's simply The Threes, well, that will fade, too. So, we'll never know. The important thing will be that he does settle down a bit and we are able to help him manage his temper and frustrations more effectively as time goes on.

In any case, I appreciate your wisdom, candor, and support. This parenting thing isn't easy and I am so glad to have you along for the ride. The hardest thing about being a mom (for me) is when I feel as if my kids are unhappy and I don't know how to make it better for them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So, What Is SO Bad?

****DISCLAIMER**** I apologize, in advance, for the liberal use of italics, bolded font, and capitalization (and some words? I used all three!) in this post. When you have a three year old, you will understand.

People always warned me about The Threes. I watched two of my close friends go through it with their kids recently. It didn't seem that bad from the sidelines, but they sure talked about it a lot. I noticed their kids seemed a bit more oppositional, listening a bit less, perhaps a tantrum or two more than usual, but they still seemed pretty "normal" to me. I knew, however, that I had heard from enough people that Three Sucks, so there had to be something to it.

So, at about six weeks into The Threes, I can tell you what is so bad about them. Perhaps you can prepare yourself better than I did. Probably not. But at least you'll know you are not alone.

It's the fact that, almost overnight, your sweet, aquiescent toddler (okay, so Will was stubborn before, but it was manageable) turns into their own person. And they don't want to do anything that you would like them to, just because you want them to do it (even if it's fun! even if it's something that they would usually want to do!). And they want to do everything themselves from putting on their shoes to pouring the milk to going to the potty.

What's so bad about that, you ask? Well, in and of itself, it is a very good thing. Having his own opinion about things, wanting to do things for himself, increasing independence. . . it's all wonderful. IN THEORY.

In PRACTICE, however, it is very, very tiring because it is NON STOP. From the moment Will gets up until the moment he goes to bed EVERYTHING is an argument. And it's so wearing, when the arguments are about things like which specific spoon he wants to use for his oatmeal, which specific pair of underwear he wants to wear that day, which grocery store he wants to go to, and you'd better believe it won't be the spoon, underwear, or grocery store I had in mind.

As a result of this, everything takes longer than it should, because you have to plan for this opposition. Sure, it doesn't always happen, but it happens enough that I have to be prepared. I had our "leaving the house" routine timed to perfection and now that's all screwed up. And things that used to be predictable and enjoyable are no longer such, because in the middle of, say, the tubby, he is suddenly going to want a certain type of bubble bath that we don't have. So all of a sudden, he is tantruming for this bubble bath that I don't even know that they carry at Target anymore. And even if I did have it, right that very minute? I can't give in to the tantrum, so he can't have it anyway. BUT!!! If I buy that bubble bath the next time we are at Target so this won't happen again? Nope, it's not that easy. Because when I use that bubble bath, he will want the one that I used the last time but didn't replace. BECAUSE HE WANTED THIS ONE! Two tubbies. Ruined. And tubbies were one of my go-to parenting tactics before when a day was going off the rails. Nothing is sacred anymore.

AND? Everything is dramatic. Before, if Will wanted something and it wasn't something he was going to get, I could distract him. That no longer works. And if he tantrumed before, it was a brief affair that was usually over in minutes. Now, once he gets something in his mind (yesterday, it was that he wanted to go potty at a specific store that we passed on the way home), it is GAME OVER. And the tantrums will last for thirty minutes or more and they are intense, with him turning purple with rage and screaming to wake the dead.

I am also dead set that we NEVER give into a tantrum. So even if he is asking for something that I would give him if he asked nicely, if he asks rudely and then starts tantruming, he is not getting it. So a lot of his tantrums are even more ridiculous because I would have given him, for example, asnack. . . if only he had given me a chance to say yes!

I generally ignore his tantrums. For example, right now? He has been in his room for over forty-five minutes. He is screaming. Why? Well, because he wants to go to a friend's house and stay there while I "go to work". As that isn't happening today, he is very upset. Once he gets to this point, there is no going back. There is no putting him in the car and making him go do something fun, because he won't be or have any fun. And I don't want to reward the behavior. So, Emma and I are downstairs in her playroom, while he is upstairs. Screaming. He came downstairs about five minutes ago and seemed to have calmed down a bit, but he revved right back up when he asked to go to the friend's house and I said, "Not today."

And the sad part is that Emma and I are dressed and ready to go. We were going to go to the kids museum and I had hoped to sneak in a Target trip. He loves to go to Target and get a soft pretzel (well, he used to, not sure where Three Year Old Will lands on the soft pretzel), so it used to be a fun errand. But now, the morning is being wasted on this tantrum.

In addition to the daily struggles, sleep is also disrupted. All of my friends found that night wakings and bedtime struggles started (or got markedly worse) at three. At two weeks into three, it happened to Will, too. My solid sleeper, three hour a day napper, never fights bedtime. . .is now waking two to three times a night, fighting and/or skipping naps, and bedtime has become a struggle. So, we are all getting less sleep, which of course, makes the daily struggles worse. It's a rather disturbing catch-22. Because, as I learned back when Will was a newborn, sleep begets sleep. . . and a lack of sleep makes everyone grumpier. Despite his advancing independence, however, Will fails to have this little thing called reasoning down yet. So I can't exactly say to him, "Hey, buddy, if you kept napping and sleeping, you might just feel a bit better during the day. And I know I would."

The other day, I was talking about this with another friend. Her children are a bit older and I wasn't really around them when they were in The Threes. I told her that I didn't remember her kids being like this. She assured me that they were, but I wasn't around it enough to really see it. And, she added, that if it made me feel any better, she thought Will seemed "normal" and like a nice little kid. Which did, actually, make me feel better. . . for about five minutes, until the next argument came up.

So, I think to sum it up: The Threes are exhausting because they are non-stop. It feels like I am in the middle of psychological warfare with a three year old. Who is sometimes winning.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Official

I got my official offer today. I had been expecting it for awhile. I start October 24. Wow, just a little over two weeks away and everything changes.


Will continues to be three.

I know people warned me, but can I be honest here?

Three? It sucks. The tantrums are beyond anything I ever imagined.

There are moments when he is still my sweet Little Man. And there are moments when I don't even recognize myself as I parent him.


Emma took her first step (notice the singular) on August 21 and.. . nothing since.

One September 21, while I was on the phone wishing my dad a happy birthday, she walked across the living room. And she hasn't looked back. Today, I would call her a full-fledged walker.

She is in my favorite age. The Sweet Spot, I guess you could say. She has some personality, some attitude, some independence. But she still wants to please.


My life is in contrasts and changes lately. And I don't deal well with either. But I am managing, just like my little ones.

One haphazard step at a time.