Thursday, November 29, 2012

got milk? Not Anymore

I'm free! (We're talking marginally...I will never be fully free again...)

Today is the first day of my husband's unplanned trip to Cabo. Great opportunity, the trip was practically free, and I couldn't say no (well, I could have, but that would have made me a bitch). So he's gone for a few days, but it's all right. The boys and I will have lots of fun on our own and truly they are way less troubling to handle 2 on 1 than they used to be.

But I'm going to say it. It's my turn when you get back, Honey. I am getting out of dodge for a few days, without you, without any little boys, without any remorse. I'm out.

I am so in need of a break it's not even funny. I've gotten much more relaxed about having babysitters come stay with them, the only reason I don't have a sitter more often is the cost. But I have not slept a single night away from my boys in a very long time. Husband took B1 to Winnipeg for a few nights when I was expecting B2, so I guess that was kind of like being alone...but not really, since I had my gymnast/water polo/wrestling fetus kicking the crap out of me from the inside out. But now - I can finally do it! After thirty-three looooonnnnnggggg months, B2 has finally weaned himself. I think, anyway. He hasn't asked in a week, and he was only asking every other day or so for a couple of weeks before that. So for the first time in about five years, I am finally not pregnant, nursing, or both. It's fantastic!

I never set out to have a nursling for so long. When B1 was born, I had no preconceptions about how long I would nurse him, or if I'd even be able to, only that I'd try. And it was awful. I was so very close to giving up, that first month. I didn't do it often enough, never had enough for him and constantly had to be pumping, topping him up with bottles, and fretting about his weight. He never really loved it that much and gave it up when I was a few months pregnant again. And then B2 came along and was completely different. From his first latch, he knew what he liked, and it was me. That boy would never even try a bottle. Or a soother. Or allow anything else to comfort him. Then at almost 3 years old, he finally decided on his own that it was time to be a big boy.

A lot of people told me, thought, or probably said behind my back that I should cut him off, long ago. And sure, I could have. But I'm very happy that it happened the way it did. No tears, no fighting, no conflict. Just a peaceful "No thank you, I don't want any Mama Milk today" and off to dreamland. It wasn't always easy, and the toughest part was needing to be here to put him to bed every night for about a thousand days. But I also knew that it would be a relatively short time in his life and mine and I was more than willing to give him that time.

But now it's over. I'd be lying if I said I won't expect pangs of missing the cuddle time and special closeness that only I was able to have with him for so long. Or if I said it doesn't make me feel a little blue that I will probably never nurse a baby again. But in between those wistful thoughts, I'll be skipping my way to the spa for a well-deserved little Mommy break in the New Year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leader of the Pack

Last week I was lucky enough to manage to get a ticket to see Cesar Millan live. I have often watched The Dog Whisperer and been amazed by what he can do with a "problem" dog, but I am always skeptical about reality TV and usually scoff and say there must be so much that happens that we don't see. So I was a fan, but not A Fan. Turned out the rescue group I volunteer with had an extra ticket, so I snapped it up and joined the pack. And am I ever glad.

Cesar taught this old dog a lesson.

He had several real dogs and their parents come on stage and exhibited their issues - and then Cesar did a quick diagnosis and showed another way. We could literally see these dogs change their behaviour before our eyes. It was great because one of the dogs he used had almost the exact issue as one of my own dogs (leash pulling) and she was even the same breed.

The biggest takeaway for me, however, was how MY own attitude and behaviour affects others. We had extremely good seats, and I swear that being that close to him allowed me to actually feel his calm energy. It is clear that the dogs feel it too, but for me it was quite profound. My life is the furthest thing from calm - with two preschoolers, a husband, two dogs, a full time job, a hobby business, and also trying to maintain some semblance of physical health, oh and possibly a thread of a social life - there are not a lot of opportunities for calmness. However, if I let myself become stressed and upset and screechy, that clearly affects my children - the ones with and without fur. I've been making a concerted effort to stay chill since the show and I have absolutely noticed a difference in my family. There has been more cooperation, less arguing, and if things do start to get out of hand, getting back to calmness is easier.

But it's a constant challenge for me. I am passionate by nature. I was raised in a family that liked to get loud, get emotional, and be right. Going with the flow is not natural for me. But even after a week's worth of feeble attempts, I see how much better my life would be if I could nail this.

So in no particular order, here are the things I am going to do to continue to get better at Calm.

  1. Get my butt back in a regular yoga class. I spend too much time in my lulus but not in a yoga studio.
  2. Let my standards slide. Seriously. I've said this before, but I still obsess about having things just right and always my way.
  3. Stop, breathe, and pause before reacting.
  4. When I want to shout, try whispering instead. 
  5. Radiate the love I feel rather than resentment and frustration.
  6. Keep in mind that one day, this time in my life is going to be a distant memory and I could regret not enjoying it more.
  7. Prioritize myself a bit more. Visit with friends. Take a class. Do things that make me happy. A lot of my life is about my family now, but I'm part of that family too.
It may be odd that a seminar in dog behaviour could spark a personal revolution like this for me. But I have always thought of my dogs as my children too, and really, the principles of teaching, communicating, and shaping applies equally as well to parenting children as it does raising dogs. 

New Look

Welcome to Apparently I'm A Parent's new look!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sample size of 2

I think one of the most interesting things about parenting two kids is how much it resembles a reality TV game show. We get to "expect the unexpected," enjoy scrambling after "this week's twist," and slog our way through "detours, roadblocks, and u-turns" galore here. Every time I make the mistake of expecting B2 to do roughly the same things at roughly the same time that B1 did them, or expecting B2 to behave in the same way as B1 at any point in time, I am routinely and profoundly schooled.

For example, when we moved into this house, B1 was just over 1 year old and I was about halfway through my pregnancy with B2. We were planning to move B1 into a big boy bed so we wouldn't have to get a second crib. I fretted profusely about the door handles (they were the long lever kind, not round knobs) and what we would do to keep him from roaming the house all night. We ended up changing them and buying those door knob covers for childproofing and it was such a waste of effort. B1 never even tried to get out of his room. Like ever. When he got a little older, he started to, but his Good Nite Light took care of that. This boy is a rule follower (for the most part). 

Now. B2 has also been in a big boy bed for a while. And I don't know if he's actually tried before, but his doorknob was kind of sticky, so he could never get out. Until today. Twice today he has managed to bust out of there and I will tell you, I'm totally dreading tonight. I have visions of a tiny face popping up by my side of the bed a zillion or so times, saying "Hi Mama. It wake up time now?" when it will most assuredly NOT be wake up time. 

My problem is this. I'm a statistics kind of girl. I like predictability, and patterns, and charts. I've made a career out of predicting how people will behave. A 50% margin of error is very difficult for me to compute. I suppose that's an argument for having a larger family (no thanks) in favour of improving statistical significance. That must be what's really behind the "3 is the new 2" movement. They're just trying to enhance their predictive models. 

I suppose this is part of the beauty of parenting two children - the constant imbalance between expecting them to be carbon copies of each other and forgetting completely what the first one was like at age X. Perhaps I should spend less time trying to figure out what they're going to do, and when, and how, and spend more time getting to know each of them for their uniqueness and learning to love them for (or despite) what they are.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Well, today is my birthday, and this one puts me officially closer to 40 than 30. I have really never freaked out about my age before, in fact, I was always in a hurry to be older. I always felt too young to be taken seriously. I think I can officially say that's now behind me.

Reflections from this, my 36th year on this planet, include the following:
  1. Raising kids really is a very consuming job. Thankless, exhausting, but rewarding and fun.
  2. I am happier and feel more comfortable when I work outside the home as well.
  3. I have a lot of First World Problems. I feel pretty lucky about that.
  4. Pinterest makes me feel lazy and uncreative. And a little ragey at the people I re-pin who aren't lazy and uncreative. But I won't quit!
  5. I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up.
  6. Wine on a work night is a great idea on the work night, but a terrible idea the next morning.
  7. I really need to start exercising again. Seriously, B2 is going to wean someday.
  8. I am a wicked awesome pumpkin carver. I wonder if I could also be a tattoo artist (see #5)?
  9. I wish I was a medium. The talks to the dead kind, not the size. (see #5)
  10. Remembering to take food out for supper is the absolute hardest part of my day. I don't know why, since it's a fairly critical detail that has to happen every day.
Bonus: Despite a lot of grumbling and ranting about tribulations from time to time, I am extremely happy, and exactly where I want to be. I am blessed and lucky to be living in this time and place. And I'm enjoying this adventure called life immensely.