Routine? What’s that?

Funny thing about parenthood: just when you get into a routine, and you think you’ve got it all down, kiddo goes and changes the routine, and you once again have no idea what you’re doing.

For the better part of last week, Bowie didn’t nap. He napped yesterday, so I know we’re not crossing the totally napless threshold, but it’s not looking good.

When he doesn’t nap, it’s certainly not because he isn’t tired. The long, screaming, crying, whining afternoon is proof of that. And have you ever tried to keep a toddler busy for 13 straight hours? It’s, well, a challenge.

Also new in our house is the Diaper/Clothing Change Avoidance. Whenever he sees me coming with a diaper and wipes or an outfit, he runs the other way shouting, “WAIT!” Which would be super cute except no, sweetie, we can’t wait to change your diaper, it’s full of stinky poo that’s going to give you a horrible rash. And we have to put on the pajamas now because sweet baby Jesus, it’s bedtime. I’ve had to use all my strength to hold him down with one arm while wrangling a diaper and some clothes on with the other had.

And, ok, guess what else? Nothing in the kitchen is safe anymore. We baby-proofed the important stuff. Well, the stuff he could reach anyway. Only, now? He can reach EVERYTHING. Including items on the counter, and in the knife drawer. (Oh yeah, good thing I was paying attention that day.) At any given moment you’ll find about 30 DVDs, all the chips and crackers and all my pots and pans strewn about the house. Picking it up is useless, because it only takes him about 2 minutes to recreate the mess.

That’s life with a toddler. One day, you’re supermom, and you know exactly what to do and when to do it. The next day you’re a complete mess because you have spent the whole day running after the kiddo to change him, then to get something dangerous out of his hands, then to change him again, then to deal with his sleep deprivation tantrum regarding the cookies he found in the cupboard that you won’t let him have. Oh Bowie, let’s get past this Terrible Twos thing, shall we?

Curveballs

My conundrum begins here:

Last summer, my best San Francisco friend N tells me she’s having her second baby, her daughter is about 6 weeks older than Bowie. She’s the first in our group of parent pals to have her second. I’m like, congrats and…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT. Of course, I didn’t say that last part out loud.

Then, a few months ago, our playgroup pal K tells us she too is preggo with her second bundle of joy (her first is a few weeks older than Bowie). I’m thinking wow that’s awesome…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT.

At this point, I’m surer than I’ve ever been about anything in life that I’m, we’re, not ready for a second baby. Not only would it create a massive financial issue, but, in case you’re a new reader, my son is in the MAD THROES of the “Terrible Twos”. How on earth would I handle a full on, head ramming into the floor, screaming, crazy fit in the middle of Target with a newborn in my arms? I’ll tell ya: I would not. They’d have to put me in the straight jacket right there, in the middle of housewares.

Fast forward to this morning, when a very good pal of N and I, S announces that his wife is now preggo, their first actually being younger than Bowie. GAH.

But the thing is, all of a sudden I had that familiar pang in the pit of my stomach. That gosh I want to snuggle a newborn baby close to me, and not just any newborn, but my own newborn feeling.

The problem is, how do I know if I’m TRULY and FULLY ready for baby #2, or simply feeling left out? Not to mention, how do I quell these feelings for at least, like, a year, because, as previously stated, we are in no way, shape or form prepared for bringing baby #2 into this world. And let’s not even get me started on how the hubbs is super scared of having a second baby at all. And JEBUS, I am super freaking crazy, because if our second little on is a girl, I already have her named. I need some help????

So that’s where we’re at. Ugh.

Yeah, it’s tough.

So far, raising a kid is not getting easier as I was told it would. It is still a 24/7 mashup of worry, frustration, lack of privacy, wondering if you’re doing it right, frustration, worry and a love that will make your heart burst. It’s difficult. The proverbial emotional roller coaster.

Now, I don’t want to scare some of my readers whose first little ones are still on the way or bundled in their cute little 0-3 months clothes. It doesn’t get easier, but it doesn’t get harder. Each phase they go through presents you with a new set of challenges. Sometimes it feels harder, because the older they get the more independent (read: demanding) they get, and it can be difficult to keep up with, especially if you, say, work from home. Or just need to do some laundry. But, you can handle it.

My theory, and really just my undying hope, is that this is the Terrible Twos, and once through this, it truly does get easier. Right now, Bowie knows what he wants and needs, but can’t communicate it to us. Also, we have no way of reasoning with him and explaining why he can’t do this and must do that. From his perspective, I suppose it seems like we’re denying him fun, excitement and cookies just because. For no good reason. That has to be so frustrating. So, he throws a tantrum until we figure out what it is he needs, or distract him from what he wants.

But I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s still going to be hard. I mean, a year from now, he’ll be able to talk back. He’ll have a little kiddo opinion, probably about everything, which may lead to some issues with broccoli, bedtime, TV and kissing grandma. And 5 years from now? He’ll have a life. He’ll be making decisions for himself every single day. And as a parent, you can only sit back and let them make those decisions, all the while worrying that they’ll make the wrong one and get hurt. Or worse.

So, I keep trying to remind myself of what’s to come. And that he’s only little once. I need to slow down and try to savor this time, even if it is riddled with tantrums and teething and picky eating. At least he’s healthy, and happy most of the time. And who knows? If I do well now, maybe he will come to me later with some of those decisions and ask for my opinion.

Problems with Paci

The pacifier. My current nemesis.

I spend 97% of my time with my arm shoulder deep under some piece of furniture, desperately trying to find one there because all of them are lost and it’s NAPTIME SWEET JESUS IT’S NAPTIME AND I CAN’T FIND A PACI.

Honestly, I only have myself to blame. Early on, I really pushed it on him, because it helps with SIDS, blah blah blah. It soothed him. Well, when it stayed in his mouth. (I also spent the first 4 months of his life with my arm draped over the side of his co-sleeper bed, holding the pacifier in his mouth. All night long.)

At the time, I was thinking he’ll want to give it up someday…he won’t use it forever…I’ll take it away when he’s done teething… etc. etc. etc. I was justifying it to myself, all the while having that nagging thought in the back of my head of my thumb-sucking brother and his massive orthodontic bills. Because, they say the tooth problem thing is genetic, not necessarily from sucking on anything. And…well…we don’t have genetics on our side.

And then I read that there’s this window of time, about the 6th and 7th months, that you can take it away with little to no backlash. They don’t yet have the total mental capacity to miss it for more than a few hours, and they have begun the process of self-soothing. So, I did take it away, for about a week. Then he started teething.

Of all the wonderful things about my child, grace under fire is not one. He teeths miserably, and tries to make everyone feel as miserable as he does. So, when push came to shove one long teething afternoon, he broke me and I whipped out the paci. And worst of all, it worked like a charm.

Later on, I tried going cold turkey but that went like this: read above paragraph. There was no end to the screaming and crying. Especially at bedtime. So, we compromised, I let him have it at bedtime. During the day, I tried the trick where you snip off the end, and little by little snip off more and more until they lose interest. The first day, he put it in his mouth, took it out, examined it, threw it at me with the force of Joe Montana and cried until he threw up. I could try it again. But can you blame me for wanting to avoid that?

So now, I have a 16 month old that has a pacifier in his mouth way too much, and his first dentist appointment is coming. To me, the teeth look ok. And he is back to mostly only having it at bedtime. But, I’m not the expert. So, I’m a little worried.

They help prevent SIDS. That’s a really good thing. (Though it would not surprise me in the least to find out this was a conspiracy started by a pacifier manufacturer to get us to buy them in mass quantities. Because seriously, every new parent will go out and buy anything with “prevents SIDS” associated with it.)

All new moms: you must take it away before their first birthday. You MUST. Or you will be like me. And I will probably be taking it out of his mouth so he can cross the stage and get his high school diploma.

How I Do

Today some friends and I were sitting around talking about a typical day in the life of a parent. One of them works outside the home, one works part time in the home and the other does not work. I work full time in the home, and I don’t have any help (i.e. nanny or babysitter) and all three of them said, “I have no idea how you do it.”

Quite frankly, I don’t either. I have 18 hour days, yeah, but it never feels like that. It mostly involves a lot of sitting in the playroom with my laptop, timing conference calls with naptime or dinnertime, letting the housework go sometimes (if it weren’t for guests, my floors would never be vacuumed) and just tapping into that never-ending mom energy to get done what needs to be done. And yet somehow I have time to blog, read a magazine, make a cup of tea, watch a TV show, paint my toenails, breathe.

Working at home with no help was, of course, a LOT easier when Bowie was 4 months and immobile. I could just lay him on his back under a playmat with some dangly toys and I’d be set for a few hours. Then I’d put him down for a nap and have a few more hours. Now that he’s walking and taking one 2 hour nap a day, it’s rough. I’ve had to get more creative with how I manage my time and fit in an 8 hour day’s worth of work.

If I were tied to a 9-5 schedule, there’s no way I could do it. I’d have to hire some help. Every day gets harder and harder but I still find ways to get by. I have no idea how I do it, but I do.