Real snow happened for us this week. In a matter of hours, we got five inches of perfect snow-man-building snow. By noon, we (my son, my friend Laura and myself) made five snow people! We were outside playing for almost two hours. My son loved it and wore himself out beautifully.
These four images show some of the fun that we had. If you put your cursor over the image, a caption appears to explain what is happening.
I am struggling with something that I thought would just be another phase, but this one does not seem to end. First, the disclaimers - Jules is a happy, healthy kid who is affectionate, funny and caring. I am a single mom in her 40s who loves being a mom and believes in following the cues of her child through the milestones.
Ok, here is the struggle. My son hits - namely me but sometimes others. He only hits when I am present and when he is tired. I have narrowed down the pattern to those two factors. So, I have learned that big things need to be complete before he is tired. For example, give him a bath before he becomes too tired. Don't keep him out past his normal bedtime and get him overstimulated. Don't let him play too long at daycare at the end of the day. He may seem excited and happy, but really, he is on the brink of tired and can start swinging at others soon.
Most days, he hits no one. I have learned how to work him through several tasks before he gets too tired, but sometimes you can't avoid it. Sometimes the tired sneaks up on you. That happened tonight.
My son had a great morning playing outside in the snow over 90 minutes and jumping on his trampoline. He melted into the lap of my friend just before his nap. He napped 4 hours - I tried to wake him at the 3 hour mark and he begged to go back to sleep. (His normal nap is 2 hours.) This evening, he was happy and active with just the two of us. I was always try to keep him on schedule with eating, bathing, etc so we moved into the bathroom at the normal time. Then it happened. He was sitting on the floor refusing to get up. I sat behind him and slowly raised him up then POW. He hit me in the face. I put him immediately into time out for 2 minutes. He apologized, we returned to the bathroom and then immediately he hit me again, harder. In complete shock, I picked up my now completely naked son and placed him in his bedroom floor for time out.
I know this will pass. Again, he only hits when I am present and he is tired, but this phase needs to end. When this happens, I become frustrated, sad and embarrassed, especially when it does this in front of others. My son is expressing his frustration and tired state, but I need new strategies, something that sends the strong message that hitting or any form of violence is not acceptable. Anyone reading this have any ideas?
I know that I am behind most of the country in reading this book, but I finally finished the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She walked over 1,100 miles to help her put her life back on track after her mother died and her marriage ended. Her decision to walk for months was a bit drastic, but in a weird way, I get her. That's probably why I became obsessed with her book. In a strange way, we are alike.
Near the end of my fertility treatments, I became intensely angry with myself. I felt betrayed by my own reproductive system. I dove headfirst to lots of intense activities to teach my body a lesson while trying to ground myself in some strange way. Of course, I did some healthy things as well like talk to a therapist, take up meditation and eat healthy foods, but most of my choices were aimed at punishing myself.
First, I took up running for the first time in my 40s and nagged myself to run as many races as I could going faster with each one. Several times in my training, I told myself while running uphill that my baby was at the top of the hill, if only I could run fast enough to catch it. The negative self-talk in my head was brutal. I crossed several finish lines with tears in my eyes.
Second, I took as many fitness classes as I could possibly stand. After running 3-6 miles most mornings before work, I would take two to three fitness classes after work. I didn't want to go home to see an empty nursery, so I made myself avoid home and work out instead. One time, I came home so tired that I slept in my workout clothes on the living room floor.
Third, I pushed myself to stay as busy as I possibly could. I went back to graduate school. I took up new hobbies - dance, trapeze, etc. My weekends are planned to the minute. Yes, I was having fun, but I was also dodging all forms of down time.
Trust me, I am not advocating for Cheryl Strayed's approach to grounding yourself, but I get it. Every time she surprised me with another shocking choice to push herself, I saw a bit of myself in her actions. The moment your life turns out differently than planned, it's hard to stay centered. Sometimes life-changing events need more life-changing events to keep ourselves sane.
Life is different for me now. I don't push myself to run as fast and far as before. Running is now not a competition, but a quick way for me to burn calories and clear my mind. Fitness classes are now just one - one class, Pilates. Since working out like that needs a sitter, my finances force me to be limited. Finally, I am not busy every second of the day, in fact quite the opposite. Toddlers have a way to unraveling the best laid plans so over planning is completely useless.
More importantly, I am no longer at war with myself. Sure, I wish at times that it was leaner and less jiggly, but overall, I love my body. I can run, skip, jump and stop all that I wish. My body can hold a 30-pound child on one side while carrying a small load of groceries with the other. My wrinkly face may not be on the cover of any fitness magazine, but simply seeing my face brings my son sheer delight beyond measure.
I don't need to walk 1,100 miles to realize that my life is pretty darn wonderful. I already know.
It's a cold winter for this wimpy girl from the South. Getting us out the door takes extra time to bundle us in layers and convince ourselves to walk out the door. My poor son endures three layers of pajamas every night since our old house is drafty. I need spring right now.
The infamous stomach virus hit our household this week. First my son, then me. This is the week that I was supposed to go to Las Vegas for a conference. I was worried about this week for a while since it's my first time away from my son. As Wednesday approached (the day of my flight), I had multiple sitters lined up for each night plus back ups for daycare in case they were closed. Monday greeted us with snow and sleet. That night, I laid in bed worrying how my sitters will brave the roads and if my son's stomach could improve in time. When my son got sick all over himself and me on Tuesday afternoon, I knew that this trip was not going to happen.
Right when I was supposed to be on the plane, my turn at sickness hit. On Thursday as I drove my son to daycare, the brakes in my car were proving unreliable. This is the car my sitters were going to use to transport my son in my absence. My car is now at the mechanics having it's own bout with sickness.
Being a single parent with a (cough) modest income has its bad days and good days. It sucks when your bad days line up in a row during the same week. There is nothing you can do but let it happen, make everyone well and bundle up.
Everything happens for a reason, right? I am going to keep focusing on that for a while.