Friday, January 31, 2014

Lessons in Motherhood

When Punkin was a baby, I heard all the time about what amazing patience I had. I was in that new motherhood phase of thinking things were going to go exactly how I wanted them to. I was going to raise him this way and discipline that way and only organic food all the time ever! In my defense, Punkin was an amazingly good baby, so it's just as much his fault as it is mine (joking!).

But then something happened. Something called "toddler" came over my child and I'm afraid my patience was worn very thin. Especially with the addition of a little sister to hit and push and steal toys from.

One day, when I picked Punkin up from school after an especially frustrating day in the office, he sat in the back seat playing with his Leap Pad while I drove thinking about dinner and jammies and bed time. Punkin has a new found love of recording himself and then playing it back so he can hear it. His Leap Pad has one such game. So he's sitting in the back seat recording himself screaming. This awful, deep, incredibly loud scream. After telling him three times to please stop screaming, I lost it. I yelled as loud as I could so he could hear me over his screaming "STOP SCREAMING!!!".

"Sorry.", was all he could meekly say. I felt immediately relieved that he stopped. Happy with myself even, that I made him listen to me.

Then I realized, he recorded that whole exchange. Pretty soon the sound of myself screaming at my child was being played back to me over and over and over again from the back seat. Me yelling and him saying "Sorry.".

Needless to say, I felt so bad. I sounded out of control and scary. To myself. What did I sound like to a 3 year old?

This was a lesson I needed. It's so easy to just snap. It's so easy to take the easy way out and throw a temper tantrum just like Punkin would. It's hard to keep your cool.

So, I make the extra effort to understand why he's upset. Most of the time, if I get down on his level and speak to him about why he's feeling the way he's feeling, I avoid a fit. One time he was upset about something or other, and I sat down on the floor of his bedroom and just talked to him.

"What are you feeling right now?"

That was all it took to start the conversation. He told me why he was upset, I offered a solution and told him it was okay to be sad. At the end of it, he gave me a hug and said "Thank you for making me feel better, Momma." and I wanted to cry. Why couldn't I do that all the time? How hard was that, really? I had my shining motherhood moments, but lately it seemed like I was losing my cool more than I was offering solutions.

So, I make the extra effort as often as I can. Sometimes it doesn't work and I have to put him in time out or take away a toy. But most of the time, it does. When he cries, we take deep breaths together (something Austin actually discovered), and when he's upset, we talk about our feelings.

It's important to remember that while it's our duty to teach our kids, they end up teaching us as well.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I'm about to confess something here that I haven't confessed to many people. Mostly because I think, as we all do, I tend to judge myself harshly as a mother and I'm forever comparing myself to what other moms are doing. Because, you know...they're probably doing it better.

I was brushing Punkin's teeth one night when I noticed one of his teeth looked kind of off. There was no hole or spot, it just looked a little...different. I don't know about you, but when I get an idea in my head, be it that Austin has wrecked on the side of the road or that Punkin has a mouth full of cavities, I obsess over it. So first thing the next morning I called the pediatric dentist and set up an appointment for Punkin, which wouldn't happen for a couple of months because they're SO busy all the time.

It turns out my obsession this time was well called for. He had 4 cavities, and one tooth that looked suspicious. I wanted to die right there in that little room with the kid sized chair and the overly smiling hygienist. Her smile flickered ever so slightly when she saw my face and every employee I came across after that (the dentist, the billing lady, the receptionist) was sure to tell me how sometimes these things happen and they get kids in there all the time who need crowns and roots canals, so it was good that we caught it early. I just kept saying "I swear I brush his teeth".

I got in the car and cried. I felt like the worst mother in the history of ever. I mean really? Five cavities? At 3 years old? How does that even happen?!

So I had to really stop lying to myself and take a look at the fact that yes, there were some nights I simply forgot and figured it wasn't a big deal. There were some nights he may have had a gummy or piece of candy after brushing his teeth for going poop in the potty. I never flossed his teeth. Ever. For some reason in my brain, I didn't even really think it was possible for a kid to have this kind of damage at his age.

I never had a cavity until I was in my 20's. Austin on the other hand, not so much. His first root canal was in elementary school and his teeth get cavities like squirrels collects nuts. Apparently that's genetic, and apparently Punkin has his Daddy's teeth.

Today we went in for the second and what I thought was the last round of fillings. Turns out when they were working on him there was yet ANOTHER cavity next to an existing cavity where the rotten apple apparently was on it's way to spoiling the bunch. I wanted to throw my purse down and stamp my feet at the dentist.

"But I brush his teeth EVERY DAY! With a special ELECTRIC toothbrush we bought! AND we floss whether HE LIKES IT OR NOT! AND HE EFFING HATES IT!"

The dentist went on to explain that bacteria are like bugs in people. Some people have bigger bugs than others. Punkin apparently has some very big bugs in his mouth and there's not much I can do about it except for watch his sugar intake in snacks and juice and be diligent about oral hygiene.

The moral of the story is, I suck and my kid's mouth is going to cost me a fortune.

(For all of you who say dental insurance is a crock I LAUGH in your face. Between Punkin and Austin, it's saving me all kinds of money!)

My sweet boy at the dentist. He's such a trooper.