Today, my throat achy with unshed tears, I drove away from the local elementary school. After I registered Lucky for kindergarten.
I will admit: I never wanted to be the mom who gets all weepy over the next milestone. In general, I find the idea of having a school-age child exciting. I can’t wait for Lucky to learn how to read and write… and I can’t wait to delegate the math work to Charlie.
But today I feel the same way I felt on my birthday this year: it’s yet another reminder how FAST time flows.
It was also our line in the sand for trying for a sibling, the years between my school age child and a potential sibling would be “too much” in my estimation.
(Course, a lot about THAT has changed since we set that deadline, so really, I shouldn’t take it into account, should I?)
It’s hard to believe that the baby who was so quiet when he cried, you couldn’t hear him unless you were right over him, is going to be FIVE this weekend.
Five is the age of riding school buses, and bicycles, and playing tee ball.
It’s the age of skinned knees and mud pies and imagination. It’s tall and lanky and independent.
It’s the age of superheroes, where his loveys have powers and abilities FAR beyond measure.
It’s the age of loud, and fart jokes, and potty language.
It’s the age of stories, where he can (and does!) regale me, talking non-stop on the way home from daycare, with all the things Bear and Spoochy can DO. (Did you know Bear sneaks downstairs every night to hide golden treasure? That Spoochy has a boat that transforms into something that can ride in HOT LAVA from a volcano – without getting burned? I didn’t think you did.)
I know that his job is to grow up and become independent and turn into a person in his own right. That’s what babies DO – they turn into toddlers and then kids and then teenagers and then adults. As he grows, his world will become bigger and bigger, and his orbit around me will become wider and longer.
And it’s my job to help him navigate this world; to guide and advocate for him when he needs it and then step back and let him fly on his own.
It’s just going by SO FAST. In many ways, I miss those days where his orbit was just him and me, those nights in his room, rocking him in the darkness, marveling at how little he was and how damn lucky we were.
But. To kindergarten he will go. And we’ll start a whole new chapter of his life – of our lives.
Crazy stuff, this growing up.
Last night, in the bathtub, Lucky looked at the bottom of one of his rubber ducks – the one we used to use as a temperature gauge when he was a baby. This time, though, he noticed it had a word on it.
As he usually does, he asked, What does this say, Mommy?
So I helped him sound it out. Hot! he said triumphantly.
And then he said, I can WRITE Hot. Down, down, across. A circle. Then down, across.
I thought for a moment, then confirmed that yes, that’s how you’d write the word Hot.
This morning, when I was in the shower, he came in to say hello. And again noticed his duck.
And this time, he ran downstairs to Charlie, so that he could practice writing.
With Charlie’s help sounding the words out, by the time I got downstairs, he had written the words “Hot,” “Warm,” and “Cold.”
I’ve been meaning to have Lucky send my mother a get well card for a while now, just hasn’t been my priority – especially with all the drama that’s been going on in the past couple of weeks.
But this morning, since he wanted to write, I asked him if he’d make a card for Grammy.
And with some help sounding the words out, he wrote this – all by himself:
I love you
My kid is WRITING. Holy crap.
Lucky has always been a kid who needed help falling asleep.
When he was an infant, I had to rock AND nurse him in order to get him to settle down enough to sleep.
We had a little while where I could put him to bed half-sleepy, but that was after some work on our part – bath, rocking, sippy of milk.
And from the moment that we transitioned Lucky into a toddler bed back in 2010, and then his real bed when he turned three, he’s always wanted us to stay with him until he falls asleep.
And I’ve done so. Despite Charlie Brown’s desire to be more firm and have him fall asleep on his own, I’ve resisted going the hardcore method of sleep training*.
I just felt really strongly that I didn’t want his bedtime to be about tears and isolation and loneliness. It’s, like everything, my own baggage – I have vivid memories of being scared and little in my dark room, but knowing I had to fall back asleep because my parents would yell at me if I got up.
The thing is, I’ve always enjoyed the nighttime with him. Back when I was nursing, it was my favorite moment; listening to the classical music in the dimness of his nightlight, rocking and nursing my son.
The quiet happiness of that moment made the sleep deprivation worthwhile. For eighteen months, even.
So resting next to him while he fell asleep, to me, was never awful. A pain in the ass on the nights where it took him an hour to fall asleep, yes. And the times where he just wouldn’t stop moving and I’d have to
say a lot more firmly than I’d like yell to stop moving and go to sleep was annoying, yes.
But then he’d roll over and face me, his arms clutching Bear, his eyes all droopy and sleepy,and he’d fixedly stare at me until he drifted off.
And in that moment, my love for him was white hot and nearly otherwordly.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that he hasn’t really been able to get comfortable in bed. So after 15 or 20 minutes of laying with him, I’ve gotten out of his bed, kissed him, said Happy dreams, lovey. I’ll see you tomorrow, and left.
He’s protested a couple of times. One night he asked me to stay with him until he fell asleep. (I did.)
Sunday night, he was exhausted from an early wakeup, and two playdates. So when I got him tucked into bed, he was nearly asleep already. I didn’t want to bother him by climbing into bed next to him, so I kissed him and smoothed his hair back from his forehead.
Mommy? he said, his eyes drooping from sleep.
Yes, love. I’m still here. I responded.
You can leave.
I kissed him one last time and left his room, a hollow pang of something a little like incompleteness in my chest.
Never thought I’d see the day where I missed him needing me to fall asleep.
*Please note I do NOT at all judge anyone’s decision to sleep train using CIO or whatever other method you decide that works for your family. I just couldn’t do it personally.
My first post on a blog was on August 17, 2005. I wrote a couple of posts, most of them to do with trying for a baby.
But I abandoned blogging when our IF shit got real, and didn’t really start it up again until April 2006, when I was waiting to see if my “positive” from our IVF cycle turned into anything. It was then when I started blogging for real – made it my outlet and connected with others dealing with IF.
So really, April 2006 was my official start of blogging date. Which makes April 2012 my SIXTH year blogging.
I totally MISSED it, too, if it weren’t for another amazing blogger’s anniversary last week too. Which reminded me.
Hey, *my* blog is 6 years old! And even better, according to wordpress, this will be my 1,340th post.
Holy crap that’s alotta writing.
So much has changed since those early days of writing. My circumstances, my feelings, my emotional maturity (hey, since I started therapy I no longer consider myself emotionally stunted! Progress!), my town, my career, my readers, my commenters… hell, even my cat isn’t here anymore.
Our infertility, where before was an obsession, a source of anger, depression, pain, hell… has become a part of me.
I still have moments, yes, where I mourn what it’s taken from me.
But I also have moments where I am thankful for it, too.
Because of our infertility, I reconnected with the writer buried deep inside me.
The circumstances of our infertility led me to women who have become my best friends in my real life, women who I depend on.
Because of our infertility, I have learned how to savor my son a lot more than I might have otherwise. I don’t know this for certain, of course, I might have been like this if we conceived without trouble, but what I know is that the ache I felt when I was trying for him feels a LOT like the ache of love I feel for him at many moments during many days.
I do know that I spent a lot of time time thinking about how very lucky we are to have him here in our life.
Because of our infertility I was brave enough to seek out a therapist, who is helping me figure out that there are so many patterns of my behavior which is keeping me from real, true, lasting happiness. She is helping me learn to love myself.
The circumstances of our infertility led me to running as a coping mechanism, of which I have found a real desire and passion.
Our infertility gave me empathy for others; that radar that prickles whenever I have a conversation with someone, like the conversation I had with a daycare mom friend this weekend. She told me she was almost okay with being done with babies. I knew there was more… just felt an undercurrent there. (Turns out? She had a miscarriage, and still grieves for the baby that wasn’t.)
I’ve always TRIED to believe the old mantra: you shouldn’t waste energy regretting the decisions you made; those decisions are the ones that led you to the place you are now.
And that there’s ALWAYS a silver lining, a ray of light in an otherwise dark place. Which may not make the dark go away, but gives you something to hold onto, until you start seeing them all over the place.
It’s taken me five years. A looonng hard five years.
But you know something?
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for everything that’s happened before today.
It’s a funny kind of lucky. But it is what it is.
So. Thank you so much, all of you, my readers, for being here. For abiding with me through my dark times, for helping me celebrating the good times, for the advice, the love, the empathy, the happiness. Everything.
I adore you all. And I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
For my blogaversary present, I’m going to steal Lori Lavender Luz’s idea and ask you to give me something as a present.
What’s your funny kind of lucky?
Lucky is in a potty words phase right now, and if it doesn’t put me away into a locked room, I will count myself… well, Lucky.
We have tried ignoring, working with it, telling him he has to use those words in the bathroom only, incenting him to find other words that make us laugh. What seems to be working right now is piggybacking off of what they do at school – two warning (“Oops!”) and then a “Magic” the third time he says a potty word. At school, he has to go sit in the director’s office.
At home, he has to sit on the Magic Step – our time out place.
The NEGOTIATION, though, is killing me. But Mommy, *I* didn’t say it! Spoochy did! I meant a DIFFERENT but! But, but, but – THAT but! et cetera.
It’s been 5 weeks since we started the miralax for Lucky’s constipaton-as-a-cause-of-accidents plan. Long enough to say with some certainty that we’re seeing improvement. There have been MANY more times where he’s been doing something and gasps, and says, Mommy! I have to use the potty! and will run to the bathroom.
Thing is, it’s not as easy as fixing the constipation issue – there’s a lot more that’s going on behaviorally as well.
As a result, we’ve also changed up a bit the way we were looking at it. Because no joke, every day he was coming home with two or three pair of pants. When we spent the weekend in NYC he was wet more often than he was not. And it was SO frustrating for Charlie and I. And we often tried to get Lucky to use the bathroom more often. And he resisted because HE wanted control. Which made him have more accidents and us to clamp down even more. And we were starting to be so frustrated we were in punishment realm.
KNOWING that we shouldn’t punish for accidents, instead we’d withhold something he wanted as hostage until he used the bathroom. Which didn’t actually WORK and was frustrating for all of us.
So I spent time researching and reading, and on the advice of my friend D, read a great book which dealt with parenting strategies for when your kid is defiant.
And one of the things he suggested, which REALLY resonated with me, was this concept of a positive opposite. Where you take a comment like, I wish my kid stopped having accidents, and turn it into a statement that discussed the behavior you WANT to see from them.
What do I want to see from Lucky? As it turns out, three things:
I want him to pay attention and KNOW when he has to use the bathroom.
I want him to stop what he’s doing and go into the bathroom when that happens.
I want him to be willing to try and use the bathroom when we ask him to.
Kadzin goes on to talk about how you should devise an incentive plan for your kid which will reinforce that behavior. And the big thing is that it doesn’t have to be COMPLICATED. It could be stickers.
Which, honestly, is what we did. Everytime he’s used the bathroom since and he’s been dry, we give stickers, cheers, and high fives. Every time he stops what he’s doing and TRIES to get to the bathroom, we give stickers, cheers, and high fives. Every time he tries to use the bathroom when we ask, we give stickers, cheers, and high fives.
Slowly, surely, it’s starting to work. We were away last weekend, which normally biffs everything up with his routine, but we had a whole weekend of dry.
And yesterday, for the first time in a couple of weeks, Lucky came home in the same pants in which he went to school.
(He got an entire SHEET of stickers for that.)
Here’s how it looks now:
I am hoping that, by the end of this whole process, we have the entire WALL of the bathroom covered in sticker charts.
Progress, for sure.
I’ll take it.
I’m going to put it into the internet and furiously cross my fingers that I don’t jinx it.
But O is 95% pee trained on the potty.
He will get up first thing in the morning and go immediately into the bathroom, even though he’s wearing a diaper overnights.
He’s been dry three our of five mornings this week, which is progress.
We need to remind him to sit on the potty, but he’s starting to tell US when he needs to go.
With poop, he’s had a number of successes. But they’ve all been at home. We’re still working on getting him to go at school.
But he’s in underwear about 99% of the time now. He wears a diaper overnight, and I assume one at naptime at school (he has given up the home naps).
But given that exactly a MONTH ago I was ready to declare potty training a big fail?
I will SO take it.
This morning, when I asked O what he wanted for breakfast, he said, Pancakes.
Since he’s allergic to eggs, pancakes requires a special egg-free recipe. Which truthfully, isn’t THAT HARD to make.
But our mornings are crazy; I’m running around trying to get ready, get our lunches together, get O on the potty before we go, drink my coffee, etc.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told him that I can’t play with him because I’m doing something that’s Very Important to making sure our day goes smoothly.
So when he asked for pancakes today, I stood there in my pajamas and thought really hard. I needed to shower and make our lunches and do a load of laundry and unload the dishwasher… and… and…
You know what? I’ll just go late if I need to.
So we went downstairs and made pancakes.
On a weekday morning. We sat across from each other and made silly faces and talked about all the fun things we were going to do this coming weekend.
And even though I didn’t get everything accomplished that I needed to this morning?
It didn’t MATTER.
I got to share a meal with my little boy, who is fast growing up right before my eyes.
And that? Made my Friday.
As part of my marathon training, I decided to sign up for a 12 week running clinic sponsored by a local running club.
The first meeting was last night.
I’ve never done real speedwork before. I’ve tried to run fartleks, but mostly what I’ve done is a tempo run – where I aim at a certain pace for a mile.
These were 200m repeats – a much shorter distance than a mile. With a walk and about 60-90 second break in between. And we were put in a pacing group that closely matched our best 5K pace.
About three repeats in, it was like it all clicked for me.
I’m MADE for this.
I was seeing pace numbers on my garmin that I never THOUGHT I’d do. I mean, yeah, it was for 200m each time, so less than a minute of hard running, with a minute and a half break.
And it wasn’t effortless, either. It was hard work. It was hot and humid, and my legs by the end were sort of like jelly.
But I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.
There have been very few times in my adult life where I’ve felt that click. Where I didn’t have to THINK, or work hard, or work around some sort of mental block, or work on getting BETTER at something.
I was just naturally good at the drill we did last night. And at the end, I was in love with the running club and speed drills. (And the coach a little bit too!)
I’ve been focusing so hard on running long distances, being conservative in my pace, slowing down, that I never realized.
I’m made for running short and fast.
And it got me thinking. If I’ve done this with running, then I MUST have done this with other things in my life, too.
Look at my career.
I was the kid who struggled with math in school. I am not naturally detail oriented. I cannot add or divide in my head. I don’t know most conversions, and I STILL get confused over debits and credits in a lot of cases. Do I debit an equity account to increase it? Or credit it?
Yet I’m a CPA who does detail-oriented numbers work in debits and credits for a living.
Thing is. I have spent the majority of my adult life working on the stuff I’m not naturally good at.
I’ve had this idea that I need to PROVE that if I work hard, I can do anything I put my mind to.
I can, you know. We, as humans, are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for.
But it doesn’t make me HAPPY. Last night, at the end of those drills, I was HAPPY. Completely unexpectedly, I found something I was naturally good at. And I want to go out and do it AGAIN. Soon.
So I’m starting to realize that my unhappiness stems from the fact that I haven’t really focused on what makes me happy. Truth be told, aside from running fast?
I don’t really KNOW what makes me happy. I have spent so much of my life trying to prove something that I’ve lost sight of what I’m good at, what I love to do, what makes me happy.
And see. I’ve been thinking for a while now that I need to change up this blog.
Because I feel like I’ve written myself into the proverbial IF corner. Yes, I KNOW I could write about so much more here, but I feel pigeonholed into the Parenting-After-IF space.
And I have a really, REALLY cool idea for my new space.
The Serenity Project.
A year of living mindfully. Looking at everything in my life, being thankful in the moment for my happiness, but CATALOGUING it. Writing it down, exploring it, finding out why it makes me happy.
Because if I write out my happiness, maybe I’ll start to see a pattern.
And maybe if I see a pattern, I’ll be able to start to live my life in a way that will make me happy – REALLY happy. Not just okay with moments of happiness. But finding that click inside me, living a fulfilled life, savoring real and lasting happiness.
So bear with me. There are going to be some changes around here. A new look, a new feel, for sure. Perhaps a new URL.
SO excited about this idea.
I hope you will all continue to journey with me.
The tantrums are something else.
He fights us during the day.
All the time. About important things. About not important things.
No, he doesn’t want THAT spoon. He wants a DIFFERENT one.
I DO IT, MOMMY!
No, he cannot get changed right now, because it’s not TIME.
He doesn’t want to watch THIS episode of Peep and the Big Wide World. He wants the ones with the BUBBLES!
No, he absolutely CANNOT GET INTO THE CAR RIGHT NOW!
He yells, he screams, he even hits me.
And the fierceness of his anger scares me, just a little. I worry about teaching him how to control it without ignoring it like I learned to do.
I end my days too late right now: exhausted from work and parenting and running and chores and work stress and summer heat.
I fall asleep nearly instantly.
I am woken up by the sound of a door opening and the patter of his feet in our bedroom.
He stops at the side of my bed, and I tell him that I need to pee, that he can lay down on my side of the bed for a moment, but then we’ll go back into his room, because it’s the middle of the night.
And as I get out of bed, I pick up his slight form and put him on my side of the bed, noting how he burrows in right away once I cover him with his sheet.
When I come back in, he’s snuggled next to his daddy.
So I pick him up; he winds his arms around my neck and buries his face in my shoulder as I carry him back into his room.
And he lays down on his bed, pats his side of the bed, and whispers, Lay down with me, Mommy.
When I lay down, he rolls over so that he’s snuggled against me.
And I listen to him breathe.
And marvel at just how much I can love another person.
This has always been my favorite time with him. When things are quiet.
He always talks in a whisper overnight.
He doesn’t fight me, or yell, or hit.
He just asks me to lay next to him so that he can go back to sleep.
Before I had him, I never knew that love could be so deep, and so pure, and so simple.
So for today, I am thankful for my night of broken sleep.
- I’m totally stealing this idea from Jen and Cece. Because I mostly think in bullets, and some days it’s too hard to come up with a post that wraps them all together in some form of cohesiveness.
- O continues to use the potty at daycare and has been coming home in underwear. In the past couple of days he’s had spots of pee on the front of his shorts, but not a full blown accident. I’m chalking it up to him starting to recognize what it feels like when he starts to go. He’s pretty good about peeing once he DOES sit on the potty, though he still resists stopping what he’s doing to actually use it.
- I told him last night as we were laying down for bed that I was really proud of him for wearing underwear this week. He responded: And going pee pee on the potty too, Mommy. You forgot that part.
- I had to take a week off running last week because I was having some pretty awful achilles and calf pain due to ill- fitting shoes. Before then, the pain meant I had to stop between miles 2 and 3 of EVERY run to stretch. Multiple times.
- The week off was really hard. Apparently running is my biggest coping mechanism with pretty much EVERYTHING in my life. I was sort of an asshole. (In fact, J told me one morning that I had a lot of hate going on.)
- But it was totally worth it. This week my runs have been GREAT. The past two have been without any pain whatsoever. And I’m very much looking forward to my long run tomorrow.
- I’m planning on doing 11 miles – 5 on my own and then 6 with my running buddy (who is working her own mileage up but isn’t that far yet).
- It’s completely ridiculous that I’m looking forward to an 11 mile run, isn’t it?
- But the awesome thing is that we’re going to a wedding tomorrow night. I have a haircut at 12:45, and I just booked myself a noontime pedicure.
- Someone massaging my legs after an 11 mile run is pretty much awesome.
- Though it means I should probably shave my legs tomorrow morning.
I was all set to declare Massive Fail on our underwear-only weekend.
Monday night, when we got O undressed for the bath, he walked into the bathroom and opened the cover on the toilet. When I asked him if he wanted to sit on the potty, he said yes.
So I helped him pull down his potty seat (we have one built into the cover of our adult seat, which is pretty cool!).
He sat down and went pee.
Seriously, it was like he had been doing it forever on his own.
We didn’t ask if he wanted to sit or anything. He just did it.
And again last night, he wanted to sit on the potty and “try” to pee.
Every time he sits, he seems to be practicing squeezing it out. And every time he does it, he claps his hands and smiles.
He’s working on it at school, too. Tuesday he came home in a diaper, but with a piece of paper that he had 2 successes and 2 accidents that afternoon.
Last night there was no note, but he came home in underwear and didn’t have an accident.
So I’m really thinking that something clicked for him that weekend, and we’re starting to see the results of it.
In the short term, we’ll keep asking him if he wants to use the potty or wear underwear, but without any agenda. If he chooses a diaper, so be it. If he chooses underwear and the potty, then great.
It’s so nice, though, to see that the weekend of tantrums, tears, and fights MIGHT have been worth it though. Even though it was a struggle, and we went back to diapers, SOMETHING seemed to click that weekend for him.
And it gives me a lot of hope that maybe we’ll get to see the End of Diapers soon.