Wednesday, February 27, 2013

They've got my number

So, I've kind of been cracking up at the ads Facebook has been pretending are "suggested posts" on my newsfeed. Why, yes, who better to make a post about a particular beer than a pregnant Mormon? I should tell all my friends to buy this product I don't use! Thanks, Facebook, you're the best at giving me "ideas" on what to post.
I find fewer things more entertaining than when marketing departments seem to really miss the boat on something. I always picture a room full of guys like Don Draper sitting around trying to "get into the heads" of people they clearly have nothing in common with and zero idea about to get them to buy the product at hand, even though I'm pretty sure ad agencies probably aren't as much like Mad Men and my brain likes to pretend.
Today I found my favorite example of this ever.
On facebook, it "suggested" I share a post about tampons. Then it had a picture of a woman with a blissful look on her face that said "When you aren't worried about leaks, you can get back to doing more of the things you love." And, what, may you ask, does this woman love enough to get all blissful at the thought of doing more? Good question! This slender blonde woman was gracefully stepping of a bus, and behind her she was holding the hand of a child that appeared to be screaming. Perhaps they meant the little girl to look like she's laughing, but she was so far behind her mom, and the look on her red face suggested she was being dragged from the bus mid-tantrum rather than happily giggling behind her leak-free mother. 
Wow. These tampon people really got into the core of my mommyhood with that one. I can't think of anything I would love to do more of than ride public transportation with a tantruming child (Although, even riding a bus with a happy small child is pretty close to Nirvana, so only someone truly greedy needs the extra level of joy a public tantrum provides). Pure bliss! The only thing that could possibly turn this positive into a negative, would be a leaky tampon. It's like they are all mothers themselves! Perhaps, their next ad will feature a starry-eyed woman cleaning poop off of some white furniture, and then these wizards will have really nailed exactly why I love and choose this line of work as my life's effort.

I laughed really hard at that picture.

On a serious note, could these advertisers legitimately not come up with a heartwarming and moment of motherhood to showcase? Could they really not think of what a woman could possibly get out of this experience that would positive enough to want more of? Do they think so little of motherhood that screaming on a bus is just as good as anything thing else moms and kids do together? Assume we're all masochists anyway, whose lives are just moments ranging from heinously awful to slightly less horrendous? I've got to say, if that's really so, that makes me really sad. Yes, in motherhood there's poop (so much poop), and tantrums, and stressful situations, but that's not what we love and clamor for more of. There are so many rewarding moments in between. Dear ad people, if you really want to so see why I choose to be a mom, come follow us around for a few days. I'll show you the ropes and show you the actual "good stuff." Although I promise none of those experiences will involve me taking my two year old on a bus, specifically because I'm not a masochist.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Paging Dr. Mom

Since I just posted about how different my kids are from each other. I figured I'd cite an example I'd noticed lately, and that is in how my son and daughter approach medical care, particularly in regards to injuries.
If Sam gets hurt, she has always needed a bunch of extra cuddles, some serious love from Mom through her tears, and band aids. So many band aids. Character band aids. Regular band aids. Big and small band aids. Dr. Suess could have written a book "Oh, the Band Aids You'll Need!" The amount of bandaids has nothing to do with bleeding, or the extent of the injury so much as the personal emotion behind the injury. The more personally upset by it, the more band aids required. Even if she finds an old injury that she has no memory of getting, if she's upset she overlooked it--she's going to want a band aid to rectify her negligence, I call these "guilt-induced band aids." She also needs to be reassured that she is not going to die, won't get blood on anything, and that she will heal eventually. She needs regular inspections of her injuries (real or imagined) throughout the healing process. If she has a fall that doesn't result in injury, but she's afraid it could have under other circumstances, she will need a hug to get over her "near miss." She has been like this ever since she was a toddler learning how to walk. Whether that comes from being a girl, a parent of a paranoid first-time parent, just her own ingrained personality, or more likely some combo of the above, is a matter that could be debated all day.
Then there's Peyton. If Peyton falls down, he gets up and continues doing precisely what resulted in injury in the first place. If he falls down really hard, he might rub whatever hurts and say "ow" before continuing to do the same thing that got him hurt in the first place. If he drops something on a body part, he says "whoops." If he gets really hurt to the point that it actually slows him down, he will come over and wordlessly shove the sore body part up to my lips. Apparently this means "I need mom to kiss this better." If I don't get the memo, he will point to it, say "owie!" and shove the hurt in my face again. Once he gets the kiss, he happily runs away. Sometimes, we find very minor cuts or hangnails, etc, that have drawn blood, but it's long since dried and neither he nor I know from whence it came. On occasion, he manages to get hurt to the point that he does draw a decent amount of blood and he does need some mommy loves. This happened yesterday, he fell down and cut his eyebrow on the edge of the coffee table. Not deep enough for stitches, but faces bleed a lot, and it clearly hurt (this particular injury would have laid Sam out for a minimum of three hours). He came over for a hug, I held him and kissed him, and got a tissue to mop of the blood to make sure it stayed out of his eyes and off my shirt. By the time I got the tissue, he was over his need for love and wanted to go play. He really hates when I wipe his nose or his face. Trying to dab the active bleeding resulted in him kicking, crying, and screaming to "Get down!" Not out of pain or fear, mind you, entirely out of desire to go back to what he was playing with and get out of my arms and away from a tissue. He managed to squiggle away and I had to chase him down with the tissue three more times until the blood had clotted enough that I was no longer afraid he'd get it on my couch, which by then he was rolling on and jumping off as if nothing had happened. All told, he easily cried 10 times as long about me trying to stop the bleeding and holding him longer than his preference as he did about the actual injury. The only times he mentioned the injury after was if he would rub his eye and say "ow. whoops." having realized it was still sore to the touch.
So, yes, my kids are very different from each other, and Dr. Mom has to be very aware of that in my approach to treatment. The real question is: "Is there a middle ground between the hypochondriac Band Aid queen of the universe, and Mr. Courageous to the point of bleeding on the furniture?" Because I'd really like to find it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Am Not the Same

It's interesting to me what jumps out at you at particular times in your life. Lately, as I've been reading anything about parenting, I've noticed a lot of comments along the lines of "kids are just different from each other. I've been the same with both (or all three, or whatever) of my kids, but they handled things (potty training, sleep, school, etc) differently, and different approaches work with different children."
Now, I am not about to dispute that kids show up with their own personalities. My kids were  radically different from the first hour of their lives (beginning with Peyton sleeping through his entire first day of life including his shots and medical procedures, while Sam opened her eyes, lifted her head, and from that moment forward, declared sleeping optional), and that has carried through their personalities to this day. A huge amount of what works or doesn't work for kids depends on the actual kid involved and their reaction to it.
What I find unlikely is the assertion that "I was the same for all my kids." I flat out do not believe that's possible. You may very well have used the same basic method for all your children, you may have used sleep training with all your kids, started potty training at the same time, what have you, but I simply do not believe the nuances of how we implement these procedures does not change from child to child. Pretty much whenever a significant person comes into your life, they leave you changed in ways large or small. When you a personally responsible for all of that persons wants and needs, and your decisions center around their well-being, you can not remain unchanged by the experience. People change over time. People are changed by environment. People are changed by available resources. It is strange to assume that having encountered at least two of those factors from child to child (other people and time, assuming we aren't discussing multiple births), and usually all four (people, time, environment, and resources), you remain utterly unchanged.
What I find even stranger about this assertion is that there seems to be a certain pride taken in that fact by the people who state it. Why? What is right or wrong about admitting that the passage of time, acquisition of knowledge, variance of experience, alteration of resources, and even a natural response to the way we react to different personalities has changed who you are and how you approach life, and consequently, each child in your home? It's a natural process to change, and everyone goes through it, why bother taking pride in a perceived, or at least proclaimed, lack of change in yourself?

I, for one, readily admit that parenthood has changed me. The fundamentals may not of have changed, I didn't change religions or core beliefs or my career in the time between Sam and Peyton, Peyton and present, but I am different. I learned how to preform the basics of parenting like diapers and feedings, with ease and confidence. Learning I could love another person completely and unconditionally, even when that person is very capable of being frustrating beyond reason, had softened a lot of my hard edges before Peyton even came along to continue the process. Other edges have become razor sharp, like the mama grizzly protective instinct in me.
I don't care what other people think if I know I'm doing what's right for my family and child--but that came after learning not everyone will like or agree with your parenting decisions through first-time mom bumps and bruises.
Since Sam was born, we went from a two income household with disposable income (ah, I remember that!), to a one income house that has seen ups and downs in this economy and had some very stressful times. After Peyton was born, we relocated, and that was hard for me emotionally, and was a major change in our environment.
I've made mistakes I didn't want to repeat, so I potentially went too far the other way. I've reacted to and in many ways balanced out the changes in my spouse brought on by these same factors that altered me.
In recent years, I've developed frequent and severe migraines, that I wish didn't have an effect on our day to day life, but they do, and have had a major impact throughout this pregnancy. Physical changes definitely have an impact.
I have made new friends, had old ones move or even pass away, and dealing with those losses definitely colors the lens through which I see and interact with my kids.
From a practical standpoint, Peyton's schedule has had to revolve around Sam's schedule in ways Sam's schedule never had to revolve around anyone but herself! She never had her naptime interrupted by a preschool pick up, but with Peyton, well he got used to sleeping in the car early in the game. He had to. Our world was more complicated and busy for him than it was for Sam. Even if I still wanted to hold him through all his naps and be his constant and only playmate (which I no longer think is a great idea anyway), I simply could not have done so. External factors had sprung up to make such a thing impossible.
I feel things more deeply.  I am hurt on a personal level with a perspective I didn't know I had been lacking, when I see other children suffering.  I'm more physically tired, but spiritually, I feel I've grown stronger. I have had experiences that have driven me to my knees in prayer and brought my relationship to God closer, and that effects every aspect of my life, but especially my relationship with my family. I know I'm different in other ways I don't even realize, and possibly never will. I don't have time for the kind of self-awareness that would require, I've got nearly three kids!

I've changed. In many many ways for the better, in some ways for the worse. Looking at these potentially thousands of changes in my life over the past few years, of varying sizes and degrees, even if I do the same process and same day to day things, can I say I did them exactly the same? Have I had the same attitude, confidence, or skill? Can I even say the same woman will be raising Sam and Peyton's baby sister as the one who raised Sam and many ways yes, but in some ways, perhaps not. All I really know is, just as my children are not the same person in a far more obvious way, I am not the same person with each of them.  In my mind, not only is that okay, but it encapsulates the entire reason we are here on earth--to learn, to grow, and to change. I really do believe, that for whatever reason, Samantha needed to be raised as an infant by the mom I was in 2008, but Peyton's babyhood needed the mom I was in 2011, and Presley will need the mom I will be in 2013...and if I'm not the mom they need, again I will change to become so. I've become tremendously sure that staying exactly the same is the only option we don't possess.

Parenthood is one of the most transformative experiences this life has to offer. Embrace the changes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Silence is trouble, but so is noise

Today, I locked my bedroom door with Peyton in there with me so I could get ready for the day without him wandering through the house. This way, even if I was using the blow dryer or something and couldn't hear him, I knew he was close.
After a few minutes of quiet, I said "Hey buddy, how you doing?"
Radio silence.
I know from mommy experience that when you know the kids are near, but they aren't making any noise, something not good is happening.
Sure enough, I came around the corner and found him in the corner of my bedroom, knuckle deep into my cherry Chapstick. Apparently, it is delicious.

After I took away the tube, and since I was done with the blow dryer, I decided to open the door. This way, maybe he would have access to more toys and actually play with something he was allowed to have instead of finding things of mine! (This was a stupid theory, I really don't know why it seemed like it would work at the time).

A few minutes later, I hear "Thump!" and a loud crinkling sound at the bottom of the stairs. And then again, "Thump! Crackle! Thump! Crackle!" it was getting closer, which means something was coming up the stairs. Something loud and covered in cellophane. I walked out just in time for Peyton to slam his hand down on the very top stair (Thump!), and in his other hand, he flopped down a package of oreos, partially squishing the plastic tray in the process (Crackle!). When he saw my feet and looked up to see my face, he said "Hi mom. Have one? Have one please?"

Apparently, he'd used his two minutes of freedom to get downstairs, open the pantry, find the cookies, climb on a chair to get them, and bring them back up to me to ask for them. On the plus side, he brought them to me instead of just opening them and eating them (Thankfully, there were only three left in there, so it's not like he would have eaten himself sick, but on the other hand, who the heck leaves three measly oreos behind?). Clearly, however, nothing in our home is safe from this guy, and his toddler-y desire to get everything he sees or wants is now combining with the expanded physical skills and abilities of an older child.  It's the perfect storm of Peyton! Heaven help us all!

I also learned that silent Peyton is bad, and mystery noise Peyton is also bad. Basically, I assume a disaster is about to go down unless I can physically observe otherwise. Age two is going to be an adventure!