Thursday, October 30, 2008

#1 way to feel like a bad parent: read this book!

To be honest, I have started Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason several times. Every time I have read a few pages and gotten seriously depressed. And quit reading. Because although Alfie Kohn tries to be nice about it, he can't help but point out that you have probably already screwed up your child for life and the only solution is to send your kids to him so he can fix them. Well, maybe it doesn't say that part... I haven't gotten to the solution portion of the book. For all I know it says to hang them upside down from an elm (not oak, never oak!) tree for 10 minutes a day. Probably not though. There is no parenting "solution" as easy as that. Assuming you live near an elm tree. Where others can't view it and see what you are doing. And call child services on you.

Anyway, I am determined to finish the book this time. Because even though it makes me feel like I do EVERYTHING wrong and every utterance I make to my child is another chance for me to get it wrong, this book is a veritable bible to most parents I hang out with and respect. So I will buckle down and read it. And feel like crap. And see how so many of my own issues were caused by the combination of the culture in which I was raised and my parent's spin on how you should raise a child within said culture. And feel utterly hopeless about all of it. Man do I hope the solution portion of this book is thorough. Once something strips away all hope, it really should try to give you back something. Right? Please?

I plan to immediately follow it with a Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children chaser. That always soothes the soul. Aahhhh.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dentists have it MADE.

We decided to try having Pablo's cavity treated at the dentist's office after much wonderful advice from parents we know. Thanks to all of you! The procedure went amazingly well, thanks to nitrous and movie glasses (those things are freakin cool! I want some... no idea what I need them for, but the cool factor is almost Bond like. Then again I guess James Bond would have even cooler looking ones....) Pablo was totally chill with the whole thing. He didn't even move for the injections since the dentist blatantly lied to him about what she was doing. Mind over matter, I say. It was awesome. Her whole spiel about how she just needed to stretch his cheek and it might pull a little etc etc... genius.

On the other hand. A hundred bucks for xrays and a visit on Tuesday because he had started complaining of pain where the cavity was. $240 for today's visit which placed a temporary filling and got all the drilling done (Mr Whistle and Mr Bumpy to describe the drill depending on the bit... awesome, yes?). Another $200 for the crown in December. Plus whatever the first visit was... I forget. So almost $600 and no dental insurance coverage later, Pablo's teeth will be okey-dokey come December. And our dentist's bank account will be even more okey-dokey. Who does she think we are, republicans?

Monday, October 27, 2008


I am craving food. Any food. All food. And there is this rebellious part of me that answers the meek little voice whispering no by saying YES!!! This might just be getting to be a problem.

I know it is all about control. Or rather, having the illusion of control. We don't have control over anything, really. But feeling like we do keeps us getting out of bed in the morning. Feeling this need to change change change my parenting has me a tad out of sorts. It seems to be working, so far, but I am exhausted. And did I mention the baby is keeping me up all night nursing? Some nights I just can't sleep through it... don't know why. It is funny to me how bad habits make me feel more in control even though it is the reverse, while good habits feel externally imposed and therefore not in my control. hmmm. Gonna have to think about that one some more.

Anyway, I am tired. And I feel out of control from all this self imposed change. And I think I need some hot chocolate.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

A new plan solves everything... right?

We have formulated a new plan regarding certain Pablo behaviors. I took a hard look at myself and saw that I am not parenting according to my philosophy. I am taking responsibility for not parenting him in the way that he needs, and I am changing. We made a chart and everything... if X behavior, then Y response. Because a plan fixes things, right? Right? Say yes now. I can wait.

Hmph. Just keep your chuckling down to a dull roar, ok?

Serously, it will help me to be more consistent and more present. It will help us as a parenting unit to respond as a team. And most of all, it will reaffirm our choice to be a family who believes in peaceful parenting (and who's interactions show it more of the time).

Recently an acquaintance without children commented about Pablo being "in charge" of our family and implied that we need to take charge. Such a sad, sad comment on how children and their needs are perceived. Why do people seem to see children as only acceptable if they are still and silent? What adult would suffer the expectations we put on children to be bossed around, ignored, etc? In seeing it from Pablo's side, I realized how much I had been falling into Nazi parenting mode in dealing with Pablo's regression. Believing in the need for power over rather than power with, creating force and fights where none need to be... nothing good in that.

How can our children grow to be who we want them to be if they cannot explore their feelings and impulses safely? Teaching repression and self-denial only creates screwed up adults. I am not interested in contributing to that, thanks, no matter how good it makes me look as a parent in the short term.

So even though I was hurt by the comment, I know it was made in ignorance. (I mean really, childless people have no concept of what it really means to be a parent 24-7.) I am grateful, though, because it challenged me to look at my parenting and get back to a space where I KNOW I am being the parent I want to be, regardless of Pablo's actions. Some people will not approve. But that's OK with me. Cause I have a chart. Made with love and compassion and understanding.

And it will help.

Because I won't be a power over parent, no matter how tempting it may be.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Facebook, someone I knew from high school posted an update complaining about Obama supporters "drinking the Kool-aid" and how being a democrat these days is like being in a cult. Now I have heard this before. Pundits love to compare Obama to Jesus and make jokes about him walking on water etc. But for some reason, I was incenced. Livid. And I immediately fired off my response: "Being a republican is like being a smoker: both are suicidal and selfish enough to want to take everyone else out with them." I didn't hit enter. I tried again. "Only the selfish and the insane can be informed and still be republicans." Again, I paused, not hitting the button. I tried a few more... nothing worked. I wanted to retaliate and do it with style. I wanted to anger those closed minded, self interested, imbeciles.

Then I noticed. I was being one. I was taking on so much anger. As all anger is, it was born of fear. We cannot afford to have another republican in the while house. I am not sure 4 years is enough time to fix any of the issues at hand, even with someone who can "part the waters," as it were. I am sincerely concerned on so many issues we face. We are at a crisis point, especially with global warming and the appointment of supreme court justices, where 4 years could make the difference between life and death, between having rights and the betrayal of the Constiution.

But attacking some acquinance in a public setting wouldn't really help anything. So I deleted all my options and focused on peace. And I hope that the law of attraction is true, so that all my desire and focus on a positive outcome will materialize. No matter how temporarily good it feels to get mad and take the low road, it is that same emotional irresponsibility that got us here in the first place.

And so I breathe. And hope.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I fell.

I don't generally think much about falling since I live with two people who do it 100 times a day. They fall, they cry, or not, as need demands, and they get up and play some more.

Not so in this great big grown up body. Today I fell from our deck, down 2 steps and onto hard ground. And I was holding the baby. You wonder (or at lease I do) what would happen if you fell while holding the baby. Random damaged baby images flash through my head every time I trip on a toy. This was my test. Could I save the baby? I was holding her in my left arm, and I fell toward the left. Recipe for disaster. As if in slow motion, I managed to turn myself 180 degrees to fall onto my right arm. Beebz wasn't the least bit phased, although she did start looking concerned after I lay there for a long time in the same position trying to decide whether to stay silent, cry, or vomit. It really hurt.

Mama is bruised in several places, but unbroken. Tomorrow is going to hurt, no matter how much arnica I put on tonight.... sigh. But I saved the baby. And that's all that matters.

As an aside, have I mentioned that she currently says, "BOP!" as her side of any conversation? It is her stock substitute to pretty much any word she doesn't yet have. And even more adorable than you could imagine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And who are you again?

My child, my little outsider, the one who won't talk to ANYONE, was the life of the party at the wedding we just attended. Almost 200 guests, and by the end of the night every single one knew his name. He ran around like a little rock star. If he had known about getting phone numbers from women, he would have about 50 dates right now. Guys were asking him for tips. He even did the trick of going up and putting his arms around the shoulders of cute, single 20 somethings and asking them if they wanted a picture with him. The photographers took so many pictures of him being cute that I fear he will have more in sheer number than the bride. He even managed to insinuate himself into the cake cutting pictures and got the first piece cut by the bride and groom. Apparently he walked right up to the bride and asked, "Oh are you FINALLY cutting the cake? I want THAT piece!" And they actually gave it to him. Thank the gods that was not on my watch. His godfather was "keeping an eye on him," which apparently means something different to him than it does me since he thought Pablo's interruption to the cake cutting was cute. I am eternally grateful that the bride and groom agreed with Pablo's godfather rather than me, the horrified mom.

But my point is, to all those people who think my son isn't social enough, they just haven't seen him work a room at a big party. My partner and I were amazed. Speechless. Thrilled.

Pearls of Wisdom

I love love love Zip n Tizzy. If you don't know this blog you should. And she is BRILLIANT. After a miserable post of mine the other day, she left a very sweet comment. She mentioned that she gets ignored by her child a lot too. So I emailed her. I asked how she handles it. Since it is my number 1 frustration in parenting, I am desperate to hear how others cope. She emailed me back the Rosetta Stone of getting my kiddo to respond. So far it has 100% effectiveness (I pray it has a long life!). And it is so easy, I should have thought of it myself. God, I love this woman. Are you ready for her brilliance? Sit down. You will laugh at the simplicity of it.

"I know you can hear me, so please ______ like I am asking you to do."

No yelling, no frustration. Just the acknowledgment that he was purposefully ignoring me got him to stop. I only had to say it once. Each time I said the magic phrase, he would jump to my side and do the requested thing. Talk to me, do a chore, whatever. I felt like the freakin' child whisperer.

She also had many other loving and supportive things to say, and I am truly grateful to her for sharing her thoughts with me. Thank you, oh awesome mama of Zip n Tizzy, I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting better all the time...

We are back from our fancy wedding. We had the greatest time! I am exhausted from continued lack of sleep but hoping I will catch up soon (ha.). I am in better spirits, but still predicting lots of hard times ahead. Pablo continues not to listen, which is so, so hard. Tomorrow I am going to take some time to really get a handle on how to deal with and interpret this differently so it is not so challenging. I have many times experienced how just changing my thinking about something changes the whole situation. I am flummoxed on how to reframe his ignoring, but something will come to me in the night...please?

In the mean time I am breathing. And thinking of all the things I need to do for me. They are thoughts and not yet actions. They are still actions laboring to be born.

(Coming soon, that amazing description of the wedding!!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some days...

Some days he brings out the worst in me, pushes my buttons until I feel abused, laughs as I get more and more angry, but gets so sad and confused when I finally cry. He pushes and pushes and pushes, double standards rampantly dictating every interaction. He can interrupt me but I can't "interrupt" him, something he says when he is being completely silent and I dare to speak to him at all.

He isn't sleeping. Last night he woke us up at 3:30. He never went back to sleep.

Sometimes I actually dislike him, which is probably the most shameful thing I could ever have to admit. I am the worst version of me around him. I am absolutely not the parent I want to be... not once I have had a full day (starting at 3:30 this morning) of high need, high intensity, demanding, self centered behavior. I get so frustrated with being ignored that I threaten to take away toys. I threaten to make him miss activities. And the worst thing is, it works. He listens when something he cares about is at stake. I know I could (and on good days, do) phrase it well. As in, "well, we would have more time to play together if you could help me with these chores, so how about you...."

And I dig through all my parenting books. They are all about talking to your child. Talking about problem solving with the child. Talking about the parent's feelings when the child does X. Talking about deciding on consequences if the agreed upon plan doesn't happen. Talking talking talking. What the fuck do I do if my kid refuses to listen?!

I feel like I am failing him every single day. I know he is in a regression, but still. I should be doing better than this. I feel like not only a terrible parent, but a terrible person. I keep reminding myself that not all days are like this. It just feels like it today.

Days like these make me think of how you get broken in the military, with angry, scary men screaming in your face until you break down. They do it over and over again and again for no reason but to drill in who has all the power. He is my drill sergeant. And I am the worst recruit to ever enlist.

How do I give all this to the universe when I know I will be waking up to it again tomorrow?

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Parts of me have gone to sleep.
They are not gone, as I had feared....
They just slumber while I grow
In other ways.

So my friend says.

My focus is now on other things.
Motherhood. Staying home.
Identities lost,
Identity found.
Yet almost 5 years in, these facets still don't merge.
Instead they pull me apart, never moving in

Maybe they are not supposed to.

Worst of all,
I no longer have the energy that comes from
No two days are ever the same.
For better or for worse.
I rarely seem to
Hit my stride.
Or keep it when I do.
I don't have days I can slack.
Not without repercussions that seem to last for weeks.

I am bone tired.
And I wish that, for a time,
those parts of me that hibernate while I
Learn to be
The entity
I want to be
Could lend me some of that restfulness.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to meditate with a child. and a car.

First you sit down. Said child sits on one cushion, you on yours, and Charlie (the toy car) on a third. You remind the child (and the car) about breathing and letting your thoughts flow past as if on a river, you take a nice deep breath, and you close your eyes.

2.9 seconds go by and the child reminds Charlie that this is supposed to be QUIET activity. You remain calm, let the moment pass.

1.4 seconds go by so quickly it almost felt like 1.7. Said child starts giggling. You glance over, peacefully. He turns to Charlie and admonishes him to BE QUIETER with great verbosity. Said verbosity takes about 48 seconds. You attend.

0.74 seconds pass. ahhh, the peace of those 0.74 seconds. Child jumps up and starts YELLING at Charlie about meditation etiquette. This lecture takes well over a minute with much arm flinging and jumping up and down. hmm. Adult should at this point step in and remind child that each...being has their own way to meditate, and should attend to his or her OWN meditation.

2.3 seconds pass. Said child again starts giggling and points to Charlie when adult opens her eyes and fixes child with a less than peaceful glare.

3.8 blissful seconds pass in silence. Child again starts YELLING at Charlie about interrupting the meditation. This takes 52 seconds and is easily the loudest speech of all.

The baby wakes up. Adult stands up to get baby and child says, "Aw, I am so sad that the baby ruined our meditation time!!" and runs from the room.

Funny, I thought the problem was Charlie....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Paying attention

It isn't really a phrase I have thought that much about. PAYING attention. Like paying money. Or time. It is work to pay attention. It is not enough to just be there and half-assed check in while pretending to be focused. You have to PAY the attention.

Pablo is in the midst of a hooooorible regression. Things may be looking up, but it has been an amazingly hard... month. Or two. I can't remember because it has been THAT stressful. We attribute it mainly to his sister becoming mobile, but who knows the ultimate cause. We have made some changes, in the onslaught of tantrums, refusing to sleep/eat/respond to us in any way. Some have been really good. Some I am not comfortable with. (Today I got out my slew of parenting books in an effort to cope. I didn't find any fast answers, but I decided to reread all my favorites so I can stop being part of the problem.)

It has become clear to me that as he has withdrawn, I have let him. Too much. It has been easier on me to not have two kids demanding me at the same time. But it occured to me that the less attention I payed to him (to be clear, he wasn't ASKING for it), the more tantrums he had.

Today I PAYED attention. It was tiring. I did have something for me to do nearby for when he totally ignored me, but the fact was, he ate it up. We spent the morning playing and playing and playing. We played chess (newly learning, still upset by the fact that pieces get captured). We played Othello. He was kicking my ass but inexplicably wanted to stop halfway through. We played all kinds of pretend games, told stories, and generally had a great time. In the afternoon he became obsessed with a color by number book and ignored me for over an hour. Then he asked me to "hang out" with him. He still mostly ignored me, but we chatted.

Pablo had a great day, and so did I. We loved spending time together. I payed attention to him.

Wonder why the baby was so grumpy all day....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I got it all...

Our friend's fancy wedding is next weekend. I got the fancy red dress... I got the amazing silver shoes... so I just had to make a sling to match! I even bought some (gasp!) makeup. (All this girlishness is a good thing since I just got a haircut that looks just like Jamie Lee Curtis. Cute cut, yes. But she is in her 50s and I am 36. Ignoring the part that she is a million times hotter than me at any age, I shouldn't have a 50 year old hair cut. It is classic dyke cut #1. For 50 year olds. eek.)

But back to happiness, here is the SLING I made. I am SO excited!!

PS This photo was BEFORE the hair cut. Another bad cut, actually. This new cut is a "hack it all off and start all over" so someday I will have cute hair again. Sigh.

Parenthically, I also have a suit for Pablo and a dress for the baby. My partner has a suit, so we are officially set for the wedding. I think.

Oh crap!! A gift!!! sigh....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Dentist

We took Pablo to the dentist today. I am so so sorry to say he has a cavity that probably needs a crown. Given his age and disposition, we are opting to go for an in hospital procedure because he would undoubtedly fight mild sedation. I am so scared for him. It is no secret that I don't trust western medicine and to put my child's life in the hands of strangers freaks me out more than I can say. The dentist we totally trust. Anyone else (like the anesthesiologist), not so much. My poor baby.

I feel like such a grown-up impostor. Inside I am still a scared kid, not some calm, cool, collected adult. Not like the adults I remember looking up to when I was a child. I have faked it well for almost 5 years. Now we face the music of me letting down my child because of my fears. I have to do better than this for him. He deserves a better mama.

Ah, fear... my closest companion all these years. Now coming to attack me at my weakest point, the intersection of my children and their health. Gods, let it all go well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What to do?

Pablo's regression from having a sister has finally started, now that she is really mobile. It is sinking in that this little person is going to (gasp!) have independent thoughts, feelings, and desires. She is not just a really cool doll. The worst regression is at bed time. No matter how much time I spend with him at bed time (making sure he gets undivided mama time) and no matter what agreements we make beforehand, 30 second don't pass by before he is back out of the room with a big grin on his face. It makes us crazy. Evening is, of course, my tiredest part of the day. I don't want to fight and fight and fight. I want to get some down time and get the baby to sleep (oh, did I mention his hijinx usually wake the baby up so she then stays up extra late? yeah, fun....). Maybe spend some time with my partner. Craft like crazy since I still have a ton of xmas presents to make. You know, Stuff. Not asking/arguing/bartering/threatening Pablo about getting the heck into bed and staying there.

I generally start with compassion. Thinking about his transision into siblinghood, needing more mama time, etc. Then I think about how I try to get that into the day and how he is often too busy doing his own thing to want to stop and play with me when I am able to (sans baby). Argh. I just don't like the yucky path my thoughts then go down. I get so mad at him for not making it easy. I feel so frustrated that I try and try and try but nothing seems to work.

And I find myself saying horrible things to my little boy, yelling and making threats (taking away toys etc.). I feel like the world's worst parent. I get to the point where I don't know how to get him to take me seriously. All the talks in the world, all the agreements, all the negotiation, just fly away when it is time for him to go to bed. I want to scream. I want to rant. And sometimes I do. And then I feel awful.

How do you keep your head as a parent when the child is knowingly pushing buttons and giggling about the reaction? I know I should be looking for ways to make the rest of the day more focused on him, taking the energy away from him getting time with me primarily at bedtime. But there is only so much me to go around and between the separation anxiety baby and the boy who is always off doing his own thing when the baby is napping etc. I just don't know what to do.

Breathe. I will try that. Just have to remember how.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Watching the Debate

I just want to send out a prayer to the universe that people in America will think through their choices responsibly and not rely on soundbite misinformation. I pray that the bully doesn't look stronger just because he is condescending and rude. I pray that Americans will be smart. Please, please, please can we get this one right?

Obama '08. That's all I'm sayin'.

...and McCain is a wanker. (Did I say that out loud? oops....)

Monday, October 6, 2008

There is a lesson in everything.

We have this plastic ball made of interlocking pieces. The ball is green with orange dots. When you throw it, the pieces float away from each other in a neat bit of physics and the ball becomes orange with green dots. It is hands down one of the best gifts Pablo was ever given (thanks again, Monica!) and I never tire of playing with it.

Today I was sitting there nursing, like I often do, and the ball was near me, so I stared tossing it in the air. Orange, green, green, orange. At first I just watched with a Beginner Mind. Then I started trying to decide if I like green with orange dots or orange with green dots more. Each way I had it, I decided I liked it better the other way. What wasn't was infinitely more enticing than what was. Time after time after time. Orange to green, green to orange. What better metaphor for life? Always there is something more enticing. Always what we don't have in hand is better than what we do.

I saw what I was doing and laughed. And I went back to watching with a Beginner Mind.

Then I got invested in the ball actually changing colors every time I threw it. I got frustrated when it didn't. I wanted to control it, so I practiced throwing with more and less force to make it change, or not, on my whim. I did learn more about how the ball worked, but I noticed that something about my attachment to the outcome made it less fun than just watching with curiosity as it changed. Or stayed the same. I enjoyed learning the "skill" of just the right touch, but once expectation was attached, the game became less joyful and more frustrating. It had been more fun to try different things and just see what happened.

I again saw what I was doing and laughed. And I went back to playing with a Beginner Mind.

Two life lessons from 5 minutes with an (admittedly cool) children's toy. I wonder what else I would be learning if I just payed more attention?

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Red Dress vs my imagination

I went shopping with a dear friend for my fancy dress today. Not only did we have a great time, but we were successful beyond our wildest dreams. I got a sexy red dress for the wedding plus two more outfits.

It is really amazing to me how off I can be about how I look. Yes, I have been wearing schlubby clothes since the baby was born. I can't fit into my rep-baby clothes so I wear a mix of maternity and (now) worn out nursing shirts. Rarely I put on a wrap skirt to "dress up." Generally I feel crappy about how I look and to me that translates as overweight.

Before we went shopping, I thought I should try on something with a waist band to see what size I would need to find. I was 4 sizes off. That is a lot. Four sizes smaller than I thought. I was shocked, not only by my size, but by how off I had estimated. I had been feeling so down about how I look in all these worn out, ill fitting clothes that I had managed to convince myself that I was 4 sizes bigger than I am.

I am only 2 sizes bigger than I was before I got pregnant. That suddenly seems like not too much. I feel more hopeful and motivated to take care of myself physically than I have felt in a long time. How incredible is it that I ignored reality in favor of a belief system that would make me feel worse? The only thing more incredible is how often we all do this, ignoring what IS in favor of what we need it to be, no matter how out of touch we are. What a great reminder. And a great dress.

Now I need MORE clothes so I can be reminded every day just how good I can look. And some shoes. But those are just for the wedding.

(And apparently some Spanks? I am so out of touch that there is a whole new garment industry I know nothing about?? eek.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pit bulls are better than this

When you were a kid, was there ever another kid so annoying that you kind of liked seeing him get picked on by the older kids? You felt some guilty pleasure in seeing the bully getting trounced? I have been eagerly awaiting tonight's debate for that very reason. I have a guilty desire to see Palin reduced to a quivering lump, incapable of finishing sentences, each utterance rife with inaccuracies and glaring errors. Not very evolved of me, I know, but I am titillated at the thought of Palin falling apart enough to let everyone see just how incapable she is of holding any office.

I read that her "game plan" is to be mean. No kidding. She plans to attack Biden personally in order to throw the focus OFF of foreign policy since she knows so little about it. Channelling her inner pit bull, so to speak. Pit bulls are nicer than this. In the kindest, most compassionate way I can say it, I hope she gets ripped to shreds. Debate style. Destroyed so clearly that even those who want to vote republican cannot find it in their hearts to vote with her on the ticket. I just hope that her meanness isn't as appealling to republicans as Bush's is. It took them almost 8 years to notice that being a jerk and a bully isn't the same as being competant. I hope they can apply that lesson to other people.

Maybe this is no different than rooting for my football team to sack the other team's quarter back. I want him destroyed but not injured. I want him taken out of the play, but able to walk. Off the field. I want Palin's incompetance to shine through in such a way that she is politically a joke, but she can go back to her home town and live a fulfilling life. Outside of public service.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Wow. I am having a hard time saying anything else... look at this and you will see why. Wow. See what I mean?

I was innocently looking for elf ears for Halloween. It seemed like a minimal costume kind of thing to do, easy to use again and again.... I found this. And I am feeling so torn, because my first reaction was COOL!!! My next was, oh my... she will be old someday and be a little old lady with elf ears... COOL!!


I can see how the very fabric of this girl's life will forever change based on this decision. I hope she really knows who she is. I hope she feels comfy in her skin but with room to grow. I hope she gets that this has ramifications she will never see coming. I hope it didn't hurt too much. I am in awe.

Wow. wow.

I think I will get these instead. The little ones.