5 Things I’ve learned from My 3 Year Old

I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost six months and I must say it has been interesting.  My daughter is three going on sixty.  I like to tell people she’s an old lady stuck in a toddler’s body.  Sometimes, I think she is my grandmother reincarnated. Being home with her 24 hrs a day, I have learned a great deal about how the her mind works. She is very cunning, sneaky, and calculating.  She is also sarcastic and very blunt. So, her is a list of things I’ve learned from her since we’ve been tied to the hip.

1)  What I ate and liked yesterday (or even the week before) is not what I like today. – Yeah, this chick’s appetite changes like the wind.  Sometimes from one day to another or even from one hour to another.  She went from eating spaghetti and peanut butter crackers regularly to hating them overnight.  I’m like really, you were just begging for peanut butter crackers last night and now it’s yuck. This really makes grocery shopping hell.

2)  Don’t let strangers ask her questions because 3yr olds are very blunt.  –  My daughter is very quiet and to herself and doesn’t really do people.  But, every time we go the store an unknowing target approaches and start asking questions and, as I said, my daughter is very blunt and sometimes the answers can come off as mean or hurtful. This can lead to awkward  moments and glares at me. So, I try to limit the questions people ask for their sake and mine.

3)  There is no such thing as privacy or alone time. – Who knew once you had kids you would no longer be able to use the bathroom alone or even go downstairs without being followed.  I didn’t  know I would have two shadows.  IT SUCKS.  Especially when you just want to pee or poop alone.  Like really kid, this is not the time for conversations. I’m trying to concentrate here.

4)  I will watch the same movie or cartoon over and over and over again, because it’s funny (umm no it’s not kid). – I’m all for a good movie or cartoon. Heck I miss Saturday morning cartoons, but these cartoons out now are just blah.  Like really the Bubble Guppies live underwater but light fires and carry umbrellas when it rains. WHY – YOU’RE UNDER WATER?  And if I watch the Minion movie one more time…. (deep breaths, deep breaths)

5)  Don’t ever tell a child you will do or buy something and don’t because they will never forget and will never let you forget. – Kid, sometimes I just agree to the things you say so you will stop asking. I don’t really expect you to remember that two weeks ago mommy said she would buy you a Doc McStuffins’ ambulance and ask did I buy it every time I come in the house.  I also wasn’t prepared for you to ask me  are we going to the beach a thousand times a day.  But as I look back, I know I set myself up for this.

Honestly, being a stay-at-home mom is great.  I get to spend so much time with my little one and travel with her.  We wake up together and go to bed together which makes it easy to keep her on a schedule.  But, there are times when it really tests my patience and I have to remember she is three and this stage will pass.  She’s growing so fast and each day it seems like there is something new.  I know I will look back on this time and wish these moments would have lasted forever (except the not using the bathroom alone).

Eat..Play..Sleep

This year has been a transition year for me and Della.  I lost my job and took her out of daycare. Because of my crazy commute to work, being in traffic almost three hours some days, my sister would pick her up from daycare because of how late I got home.  By the time I did get home, we would only have an hour of mommy and me time before she had to go to bed. So, we’ve basically been adjusting to being together 24/7 and getting to know each other again.  I cut back on blogging and decided to spend the time just hanging with Della. It’s been stressful for us both as we are both very stubborn people but very much worth it.

I think the hardest part has been adjusting to her eating habits.  When she was in daycare, they had a schedule and she pretty much knew what she was going to eat everyday for breakfast, lunch, and snack.  None of this was stuff we had at home.  Her daycare served a lot of prepackaged food and we cook with mostly fresh food.  Trying to get her to eat fresh food for each meal was a huge challenge. I think I heard “I don’t like that” or ” we don’t eat that at school” a billion times.  I wasted so much food trying to push her to eat and because my three-year old’s attitude is a carbon copy of mine and her dad’s, it causes a lot of tense moments. Like I said, we are both stubborn people. Eventually, I gave in to some of the prepackaged foods she liked, and slowly she began to eat fresh foods again. Now, she helps me cook meals and rarely eats prepackaged ones.

One thing my little has taught me is to play more.  I was so stressed out from work and the being stuck in traffic, I barely wanted or had the energy to play when I got home.  Since Della was so used to get up early for daycare, she continued to get up early.  I was not happy about this because I finally wanted to enjoy sleeping in for once.  Heck, I thought she would sleep in since she didn’t have to go to daycare.  Nope, in true kid form, she was up when the first ray of sunlight hit the window ready to play.  I’m not one to talk first thing in the morning and her cheerfulness, millions of questions, and requests to play were not very welcoming.  Little by little as we went outside, in the very early morning, I learned to enjoy our early morning play dates.  I’ve taught her to play games, such as hopscotch, kick ball, and how to fly a kite.  We’ve enjoy making stories using sidewalk chalk paint and playing school on the chalkboard in the garage. Yes, she is the teacher most of the time. We’re mostly just having fun and letting the day take us where it wants.

Bedtime plays a major part in our days.  Della rarely takes naps anymore and by the end of the day, she is so worn out.  When she gets tired she is not a nice or happy toddler. When it’s bed time, and we are all cuddled up, I ask her to tell me about her day. At first she wasn’t really feeling it because she didn’t know what to say. She would just say it was  OK.  I would ask questions about how she felt, what she did, what she ate, or what did she like best about her day.  As time went by, she began to open up and express herself more. It’s all about getting to know her as a person, what she likes, her personality, and how she views the world and our time together without pushing her to share her feelings.  Now, when we go to bed, she crawls in my arms and says mommy I want to tell you about my day.  It feels good to hear the excitement in her voice and know that she feels comfortable talking and opening up to me about things that matter to her.  I hope, as she gets old, she continues to feel she can openly talk to me about things going on in her life.

These months haven’t been all rainbows and glitter.  We’ve cried, gotten on each other’s nerves, and had more personality clashes than needed, but we’ve learned to so much in the process.  We’ve learned to enjoy our mommy and me moments more. We’ve learned to enjoy our free time with play instead of worry and frustration, how to communicate so we understand how the other person feels and what they need. We’ve also learned to cook so good recipes from Pinterest.  But, the most important thing we’ve learned it love and enjoy life.

Yes Della, Your Feelings do Matter

As a mother of a three year old, I know first hand  kids crying is not the most joyous sound to hear.  I know it can get on a person’s nerves and make them uncomfortable.  I know I just want it to stop as soon as possible.  I know I am making it about me and my comfort and not about comforting my daughter. I also know, I am wrong for doing this.

Today, as I listened to my daughter cry because she couldn’t have a piece of chocolate (she’d just had chocolate ice cream) and I told her to stop because I didn’t want to hear her cry, I realized I was not letting her acknowledge her feelings about her circumstances at the moment.  When she decided to go upstairs and cry by herself, I listened to my sister tell her to go back downstairs and cry because she didn’t want to hear it, I realized she was not letting my Della acknowledge her feelings.  When Della came back downstairs looking lost and defeated, I realized I had taken away her power to express her sadness and frustration. I and my sister were telling her, her feelings didn’t matter.

Della is three and three year olds cry.  Does she cry all day?  No. Does she throw temper tantrums? Rarely.  Does she gets sad and overwhelmed at times?  Yes.  But, she is a toddler and she is learning how to process her emotions.  She is learning how to express herself in a world of where it seems everyone can do what they want but her.  As a three year old, she cannot sit down and properly express to me how she’s feeling and control her emotions every day all day.  Usually, Della is pretty good as controlling her feelings.  If she’s upset and crying, she will go sit on the steps, cry, get herself together, and come talk to me afterwards, but, as she gets older, it’s getting harder for her to process and understand these new feelings.

As she looked up at me, with her big brown eyes, feeling defeated and emotionally drained, I realized I was letting my feelings and my emotions dictated how she should express herself.  It also made me look at myself and how I dealt with emotions and acknowledge the shadows of my past.  How I felt I needed to hide when I was feeling sad, when I cried, or was feeling frustrated because I knew my parents didn’t want to “hear that noise”.  I was reminded of how I felt my feelings and sadness didn’t matter and how I felt scared to show any emotion besides happiness for fear of making someone else uncomfortable.  It also reminded me of how alone I felt, as a child and teenage, because I didn’t have anyone to help me understand what I was feeling.  How alone I feel now.  How, as a society, the only emotion acceptable to show is happiness.

I refuse to let Della think the only time she can be around her family is when she is happy.  The only time we want her to show emotions is when she is entertaining us or other people.  The only time she is a good child is when she is happy.  I don’t want her to think she can’t be comfortable, expressing her sadness, in her own home.  I don’t want her to grow up with the belief that other’s feelings are more important than hers.  That she is not allowed to feel frustrated or sad. That she is only here to make other’s happy.

Does this mean I am going to let her throw temper tantrums all day?  No.  It means I am going to acknowledge her feels and her.  I am going to try to help her understand and process these feelings. Not because, I don’t want to hear her cry, but because I want her to understand she can cry and there is someone here to help and love her.  I want her to know and feel she has emotional support.  I want her to know my feelings are not more important than hers and she doesn’t have to hide her sadness. Della is not just my daughter, or a niece, or a granddaughter, she is her own person, who has feelings and insecurities just like everyone else.  As her mom, it’s my responsibility to help her become the best person she can be. Because, she’s too young to live in a world where no one cares.

 

 

 

 

 

When Kids Get Sick

The last two months have been the longest months of my  life.  Della has been sick for two months straight and I am not talking about a little sniffle.  We have fought two stomach viruses, croup, and pneumonia. She’s also been to the emergency room three times. You know you’ve visited the ER too much when the admin knows you on sight.  Thankfully, Della has a wonderful pediatrician and the ER doctors, nurses, and staff were amazing.

I understand kids get sick and it’s all part of growing up, but, honestly, it seems as if she has been sick the whole year.  It doesn’t help that she was a preemie and her immune system is still not quite up to par as term babies.  Also, it seems like every time I get her healthy, she goes back to daycare and gets sick again.  I know, as she gets older, her immune system will improve and she will get less illnesses.  I just hate to see her down and out, not laughing, playing, or eating. I miss her terrorizing her big cousins and leaving a trail of toys from one floor of the house to the other.  No parent wants to see their child ill or being stuck with needles in the ER. Every time she goes, I have flashbacks of her in NICU. So, hopefully, no more trips anytime soon.

As of today, my little one is finally healthy and back in daycare, playing with her friends.  She’s smiling, playing, and running around with more energy than ever. She’s giving cuddles and wiping kisses.  She’s being Della and I am loving every minute of it.

How We Make Co-Parenting Work

I get so many questions about how I get along with Della’s father or how do we make co-parenting work.  There’s the “Does he have a say in what you do for her” or ” How do can you stand to talk to him” or the “Don’t you hate him now that you are not together”?  People are often surprised by my response.

Yes, he does have a say in her life.  I don’t concern him with the routine day-to-day stuff but for important things, like her health or daycare, I do consult him.  Now, if he has her and has a question, he calls me and asks for advice.  I think  it has more to do with her being a girl and he only raised boys.  No, we don’t hate each other.  We are actually really good friends and we talk all the time and it really helped that we were friends before we had a child together.  We have no intentions of ever getting back together.  He has moved on with his life and is in a relationship with a wonder person and I have moved on with my life.  I actually talk to both him and his wife and there is open communication between all of us.

The most important thing, to him and me, is our daughter knows she is love and wanted.  We make sure she is able to talk to either of us whenever she wants.  She can call her dad, stepmom, or brothers, at anytime, and they will talk to her or video chat with her.  She spends weekends or weekdays, when he’s not working, with her family.

I grew up in a home with both my parents.  They were married for almost 40 years, until my dad passed.  Even though my dad was in the home, my mom was a single parent in raising us. Now, my dad worked everyday and provided a home for us (my mom also worked just as many or more hours), but he wasn’t there for my sister and me, as a dad.  He didn’t show us the love, little kids needed, growing up.  We rarely got hugs or conversations, he didn’t ask us about school, boys, the sports we played, and he never came to one game or awards ceremony. So, as you can image, I went looking for that love in the wrong way and caused myself a lot of pain and heartache.

I never want Della to feel the loneliness and hurt I felt growing up.  I never want her to wish her dad would hold her, play with her, or say something nice to her.  I never want her to feel like she doesn’t matter.  He dad shows her all the things, and more, I wished my dad would have shown me.  Even her brothers are protective of her and they are much older than her.  And yes, she has them wrapped around her finger, and I love it.  Our whole family loves it.  We don’t want her to feel she needs to look to a boy or man, outside her family, to get the love she is missing from her dad.

So, how do we make co-parenting work- we put our daughter’s needs and wants first.  No matter how we feel about each other or if we have disagreements, we always make sure we put her first.

 

From One Sleepy Parent to Another – PLEASE HELP!

My little angel has decided she doesn’t need to sleep through the night anymore.  WTH!  Ummm this was not part of the deal!  How can she just rewrite our contract like this?  Why didn’t I have a say?

For the past month Della has been waking up, multiple times, throughout the night, and that means I am up most of the night.  After about 30 minutes to a couple of hours she will fall soundly back to sleep.  Not me, nope not gonna happen.  I am that person, once awake,  will stay awake.  No matter how hard I try to go back to sleep, it just doesn’t happen.  But once the sleep gods do have mercy on me and I fall into a peaceful slumber – yep you guessed it- she’s right back up.

I know I am not the only parent who’s experienced this. Any ideas on how to get her to sleep through the night again?  From one sleepy parent to another, PLEASE HELP!

Each Step is Worth Celebrating

Sometimes, we need to look at life through the eyes of the caterpillar and not the butterfly.

It’s the end of the school year and kids are graduating and moving on to bigger and sometimes scarier things.  This could be transitioning from kindergarten, middle school, or high school.  Or, it could be our littlest ones leaving daycare to join the world of the big kids.

I was talking with the VP, of my department, yesterday, and he was telling me that his daughter is graduating from preschool on Friday.  I asked was he going and he said no because he was busy and her mom would be there.  Now, we talk often about our kids and their accomplishments, so I know how close he is to his daughter.  I told him he should make time to go (preschool is only 15 minutes away).  He said it was only preschool graduation and it didn’t really matter.  I told him, to him it’s only preschool and not a big deal, but to her, it’s a major step into life.  She’s no longer a baby, toddler or preschooler.  Now, she’s a big girl going into new uncharted territory. She’s no longer a caterpillar.

As adults, sometimes, we forget how important these milestones are to kids.  We forget how excited we were to finally go to school, with the big kids, or move on into adulthood. We don’t remember the excitement we felt, seeing our parents and other family cheering us on, at Awards Day or graduation. We have forgotten how proud we were to have those steps acknowledged.

Look at it this way, in your adult life or career, you want your hard work and accomplishments to be acknowledged.  You want to be rewarded for all the dedication and effort you put into a job, project, or advanced degree.  You want others to share those moments with you, because, to you, they are important.  For our kids, it’s the same thing.  They may not be getting paid, but they are getting a promotion and recognition for their hard work and dedication.  Shouldn’t we be there to cheer them on, and hopefully, with a loving and supportive environment, they will become butterflies!