So glad I’m not missing this

Who knew Chick-fil-A could be a fine dining experience? Take a Penguin with you and you will see. Despite the intermittent play breaks it still takes her a good thirty minutes to even eat her food. Plus she must decide the difficult decision of keeping her treat or turning it in for ice cream. There are list involved sometimes.

During one of these visits while she pondered life across from me, I just couldn’t help but smile. Smile and thank God for this opportunity that my husband was giving me to be a stay at home mom with her. I was immersed in her conversation while at the same time so delighted not to be at a workplace. I could feel the freshness and weightlessness of the genuine moment we were sharing.

“It’s weird I like these cherries, I mean , I didn’t always like them.”

“Okay, and then what happened?”

“But, I drink cherry coke, and that’s cherry…..so, I don’t know”

I’m just smiling from ear to ear.

She flips her hair.

“Was my hair like this when I was five”?

Then I just laughed and was so thankful I had not missed a moment of what just happened.

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Let your soul be wild and free my little one

I have pondered the nature vs nurture debate quite often when it comes to my anxiety. It always seemed that nurture would win in the cause category until recently. If I were to make a list of MY anxiety, it may still beat out another hypothesis as the root cause, but I am learning, in the parenting game, things are not always what they seem. I know one thing for certain. Someone without anxiety cannot understand another person trying to explain the reasons why and how to them, which make dealing with it quite lonely at times.

I contributed most of my anxiety issues to my grandmother. I learned as an adult, due to multiple tragedies in her life she had much to be anxious about. But when I stayed with her a lot growing up I didn’t understand that. As my anxiety began to take hold, I thought it must be because I was exposed to hers so much. Then I learned my daddy has it too, which would make sense. Except, except I never knew growing up my Daddy had anxiety.?

Now I see my seven year old experience it. She has exhibited signs since a young age and it manifest in different ways. But, I make a very contentious effort NOT to expose her to my anxiety. So much so that I have other family members help rationalize situations for me so I do not let it get the best of me. Believe me, I’ve come a long way since she was an infant! But to see her with it breaks my heart because I know how she feels. Could it be a manipulation at times? Sure, I am aware of that, just as I am aware of what true anxiety looks like on the face of my seven year old.

My husband, as great as he is, is not someone who understands. Oh sure, he understands my anxiety for the super Center and that look I get when I am about to melt down. But he doesn’t understand this gut wrenching, deep breathing anxiety. The kind that has kept me up all night to write this at 4:15 a.m

I only hope she can hold on to the parts of her soul that are wild and carefree. The parts that laugh at everything with a giggle that can warm the coldest of souls. The wander I see in her eyes as she studies something with her mind working on how it may operate. I want her to hold onto the part that operates on stuffed animals with ketchup and gloves and leave the heavy burden of anxiety to me. I’m her mama, her keeper, I can carry the load for us both.

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Of course, dreams come true my dear child

 
As we were taking a bath tonight, I made the water turn purple and the penguin giggled with delight as she said, “Mama! You’ve made all my dreams come true!” For a brief moment I thought not only was this a bit dramatic, for which I smiled because that’s ‘all me’, but also I thought how I wish it would always be that simple. But then she paused and looked up with my blue eyes and asked, “do your dreams always come true mama?” There was no hesitation as I smiled back and said “of course they do my Penguin “. 

The world is not always nice and she will learn on her own sooner than I would like. As long as I can, I will make her dreams come true and more importantly, I will continue to teach her that her dreams will come true.

Turtles & Sewer Pipes, not the kind named after artist

Really, this is a typical morning for us. I truly cannot make this up. My precious Penguin has my active mind that just goes and goes, and this is what she came up with the other morning after using the restroom.

I’m standing in front of the mirror brushing Penelope’s nest on my head as she comes over and we begin this conversation:

P: I figured it out

SB: Figured what out?

P: Where all the water goes when you flush the toilet.

I give a confused look her way….

P: It goes down the drain into the pipes down below where the turtles are.

 So, in my mind I’m thinkin ninja turtles. I don’t mention this thought, I just assume she saw it on tv or talked about it on the playground.

SB: The turtles?

P: Yes, and the wipes you flush too.

SB: Very confused now…What do the turtles do with the wipes?

P: The people that sell them get them out. They get the wipes off of the turtles 

Realizing we have passed Donatello and the pizza at this point..

SB: There is a turtle store down there?

P: Yes, the turtle store is there. And when you go buy them they make sure the wipes aren’t there.

SB: Okay. Smiling on the inside because I just had a conversation with myself. 

We quickly switch stations, keep up!

P: Wow, the sandman visited this eye last night!

#southernbelleoncaffeine

I watch her dreams take flight

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I can hear the small sounds of tiny snore and I know that all is right with the world for the moment. I feel the grasp of small hands and a small arm thrown around my neck that occasionally has a flutter and will pull my hair. The smell of sweat and childhood nestled next to me as the thought passes through Penelope’s wheel that this moment will not last forever. As Penelope turns that around I also pass on the idea that some may not “get” this sleeping arrangement. “She’s just too lazy to make her stay in bed.” “A child needs their own space.” “There aren’t enough boundaries.” But, then the heavy sigh of that peaceful being next to me is heard again, and both Penelope and I decide that none of that matters. The Penguin can stay here as long as she’d like.

Believe me, I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t try to make her sleep in her own bed. So, the “she’s just too lazy to make her stay in bed” thought could apply to me at some point during the last several years of this co-sleeping journey. But, one would have to look at the really large picture, like the Sistine Chapel size picture, to really get the idea of what’s going on. Our family did not go through a divorce, but to a small child the disruption to our family life three years ago defiantly could have some of the same impressions. My husband and I had gotten the Penguin sleeping in her own bed after the crib-to-bed transition and all was going pretty well. Well, if you’ve read any other post, then you may know our world changed, so did the Penguin’s sleeping habits.

The issue of having a child sleep with a parent through the night becomes even more complex in the case of a divorce. Children, especially pre-schoolers and early elementary aged children, are very shaken by a divorce and may become edgy and exhibit somatic complaints. They have lost the presence of one of their parents in their home and they may have great anxiety about losing the other parent, too. They are subject to bad dreams and need a lot of reassurance that things are going to turn out all right. When a parent allows this child to sleep through the night with them, they may believe they are solving the problem by offering a comforting presence. In the long run, the child may pay by becoming overly dependent on the parent and have greater difficulty in adjusting to any kind of change

http://www.beachpsych.com/pages/cc101.html

Yeah, well …….suck it. The Penguin was shaken by the sudden change in schedule with her daddy being gone on the road, hell so was I. Her room is on the other side of a great open space and she has my imagination. Who knows what she could’ve dreamed up was outside of her door? Who cares? In the beginning, I was the lazy mom. I tried making her sleep in her bed. But I was getting up at 3:30 for work. Honestly, between work and the emotional strain the whole change in my husband’s job had on me, I didn’t have the energy to keep taking her back to bed and no I wasn’t strong enough to listen to her cry. So, chastise me all you want. You can point your finger at me later when we are all on Dr. Phil’s couch. I don’t care. Sooner or later it just became routine. A routine the entire family got into. The Penguin realized that when her daddy was home from the road, she did have to sleep in her bed for at least half of the night. She also knows that if she comes to our room too early, she gets sent back to her room. So, there is no problem with adjusting to change or any of that other baloney. Well, there might be, but I can assure you it has nothing to do with her sleeping with me. I did not sleep with my parents, and I do not adjust to change at all, so just chalk that one up to genetics.

I read all of these articles to post and reference. But the main gut of this blog post is the beauty in sleeping with my child every night, especially when it is just the two of us. Right now our family life is somewhat unconventional. Ahem, unconventional does not me unstable or not regimented. We have our routines. She knows what to expect and what to do and how to behave. But come on, she is a free spirit and we eat in bed every night because by the time we get home and do house work and pug work and home work, that’s where dinner is. I make no apologies for it. I get to turn the light off, pull the covers up and smell that child that no one can love like I do. I get to hear her breathe and watch her dream. I get to feel the warmth of her against me when she gets too cold. That’s what I am here for. That’s what I was made for as her mother. We talk about her day, sing songs to one another, read books, face time her daddy, and then we drift to dream land together.

In the not so distant future, this will change. There will be slamming doors. “You are so unfair” yelled across the house. The battle of our wills as preteen looms in the darkness. There will be a “no parents allowed” sign on her door. The same door that she only goes in now to get clean clothes and to sleep in every 10 days. The sweet smell of this child next to me in bed will be exchanged with the overpowering scent of too much fruity lotion and body mist. No songs will be sung, no books to be read. Of course, I can only hope that even the Penguin’s preteen years may be as unconventional as we are now (laughing out loud).

Yes, all of those reasons mentioned above and many more that can’t be put into words. That is why I co-sleep. Because, that innocent picture you read about in the beginning of this post, that will not be forever. I can’t get this back. I can’t slow time. You know that Meredith Grey and I say “the carousel never stops turning”(you must follow my post to get my Grey’s reference). So I will sleep with my Penguin for as long as she will let me. I will let her throw her arms around my neck and hold my hair while I listen to her dreams take flight.

 

 

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Isn’t it my birthday too?


I smell the smell. I can taste the sweetness with a hint of lemon-lime of the Sprite that I sipped that morning to take my daily anti nausea medication. I feel how tired I was and how I really wanted to hurry up and get back home so I could sleep some more. The lights, the denim skirt I wore, the laughter of my doctor, my friend. This is all like yesterday, like it happened only a moment ago. My birthday of sorts. The day I began riding a different carousel and one I will never get off. My free spirited penguin was born on this day, one week earlier than planned, six years ago.

Today is her birthday. The day that God decided to break out the mold he used in 1978, dust it off, and give it another go when he gave me this unending gift six years ago. There is no doubt we not only share DNA, but most would agree that we are the same, I in adult form can see my childhood self daily when I look at her. I am raising myself. That, in itself is a gift. 

Today is my birthday. The day that I was born into a new life, a new person. I became more than just a sole person, more than a wife, more than a daughter. I became a mother to the best thing ever. There are days that I could lay down and scream, and yes, some days I feel I’ve lost myself, but then I can remember that smell, that taste, all of the details of today six years ago. My heart becomes overwhelmed with awe and I am humbled that I was chosen. Chosen to be her mother. What a gift!

Happy Birthday my sweet penguin. My love, the beating of my heart that you dance to. My birthday wish is that you always feel that wind that leads you to dance freely.

I know it seems cliche’, but pass the Kleenex 


I’ve always been the strong one. That weird parent, that other than my strange over protectiveness, I really have never gotten emotional at the “normal” emotional milestones for parents. The first birthday I was just happy to have made it to with my hair, the first steps, first words, unfortunately I don’t have a specific memory on because of the crazy stress of insignificant things. Although the past three years have presented so many challenges and emotional stressors for me, it also has provided a wonderful opportunity for my penguin and I to build a strong, unique bond. 

This momentous day, that happens every year, and for parents with multiple children it happens more than once, is happening to me tomorrow. Yes, I know it is not me, but I’m an emotional wreck. I’m trying to keep it together for her because she is so excited. But it’s bedtime, and she just whispered into the monitor, “I’m a little norvous about big school tomorrow.” Boy am I glad that’s not a two way camera. I tried to choke back the tears and press the mic to reply, “it’s okay, you’ll be great.”

This is my penguin. This is the start of it. I will make it, we will make it. But, yes, I am bringing the Kleenex and doubling up on the meds.