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.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections – From the Diary of Mom

I have a two year old now.  No longer a baby but a very strong minded toddler and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Two years ago, I had the worst scare of my life.  At 30 weeks gestation, Della decided it was time to come into the world.  After spending two days in the hospital, while doctors tried to stop labor, I was rushed in for an emergency c-section.

I was there alone and scared beyond belief.  I had sent everyone home so I could “rest” (like you can really rest in a hospital).  I remember lying on the table, watching and listening to everyone rush around  tying to prepare for the birth.  I remember the nurses reassuring me everything would be fine. I remember shaking uncontrollably and my blood pressure dropping dangerously low.  I could hear the nurses asking  if I could hear them. Next thing I remember was looking over my shoulder and seeing my little lifeless baby lying on a table.

It was almost twelve hours before I finally saw my little angel.  I woke up and her dad was in the room telling me he just left from seeing her and he was scared because she was so tiny and on a respiratory. The mom in me kicked in and I made him take me to NICU.  I was still groggy from the pain meds as he wheeled me down to NICU.   When I came through the door, there she was naked and so tiny in her little bed.  She would spend the next two months in NICU.

The day the doctors came and  told me when she could go home, she stopped breathing in my arms.  The doctors thought it was nothing and said maybe her monitors came off.  In the middle of the night, I got a call saying she stopped breathing again and they wanted to do a spinal tap.  I cried like a baby because I couldn’t get to her. She had Group B Strep and would spend the next two weeks on antibiotics and very weak.

Della finally came home the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Her dad and I sat up all night watching her sleep (big mistake).  Della spent the first two months of her life at the pediatrician’s office every week, as she monitored her growth and development.  She had in home nurses and trips to specialists.  She was finally released from the under the care of her specialists at 18 months.

Now, two years later, I have a healthy and beautiful toddler.  I see myself in her.  I see her dad in her.  Every day I watch her accomplish something new and overcome all the odds the doctors said she had against her.  I  listen to her sing and talk to her stuffed animals and dolls.  I watch her jump off chairs, climb on tables, and slide down the stairs.

I am thankful.  I am thankful she is able to do all the things the doctors said she may not do.  I am thankful she is a strong willed, rambunctious, funny, and loving little girl.  I am thankful she is here. Most of all, I am thankful she chose me to be her mom.