DIZMOMMY > March 2014

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March 28, 2014

Unintended Consequence: Stop Copying Me

Life happens. Things will annoy you. You will be shorted. We don’t get our way, every time. Sometimes, we even lose when we should’ve won. In those situations, I think of Dylan and ask myself, “Would I want you to act like me?” Maybe. But at other times, ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

One thing I’ve learned about being a parent is that it’s a lot more than cuddles, feedings, and providing a roof. You’re showing another human “how it’s done” and there are unintended consequences for how you go about that. Our beagle, Suge, recently had an accident in the house. I was sitting in Dylan’s room with the gate at his door when I suddenly heard a water fountain. Weird, we don’t have a fountain in the house. I listened carefully while Dylan stood at the gate, watching the dogs on the other side. That’s when I noticed Suge was very still…and peeing. 
 
I sprung up and moved Dylan to his crib, jumped over the gate and grabbed Suge by the collar, shouting what a bad boy he was, then dragged him to his kennel and locked him in. I was pissed, another thing to deal with after a long day, and we literally just came back from a walk. There’s no reason he should have had an accident. But that’s exactly what it is, “an accident.” I cleaned up the mess while a confined Dylan cried for freedom. I was still fuming by the time I was finished but I didn’t care, I felt my anger was justified. 

I took the gate down and let Dylan walk around. He immediately ran to Suge’s kennel and began yelling at him. I chuckled a little bit, knowing he was imitating me. Then I stopped, I had an epiphany. I unlocked Suge’s kennel and as he walked out, Dylan tried grabbing his collar and continued shouting. Imitating my anger is not what I want for him and reprimanding his dog in such bad form is an unintended consequence of my reaction. I’ve trained dogs before and I know it’s stupid, pointless, and ridiculous to yell at them, yet here I am going against my better judgment and teaching Dylan “how it’s done.” Mommy fail. 

 I calmly bent over and pulled Dylan to my lap, grabbed his little hand and used it to pet Suge while telling Suge Dylan it was, “okay, it was an accident.” I’m not perfect, I’m no hippy-dippy centered zenster that counts their inhales before reacting- but that doesn’t mean I can’t do better. And though keeping myself in check may prove to be challenging, I’m up for becoming a better person with better tools to pass on to Dylan so that one day I can proudly say, “...and that’s how it’s done boys.”

March 26, 2014

Lucky Ducky

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty special. In the big movie of my life that I play in day after day, there are little flickers of pure heaven that keep me going. Like yesterday when I was standing at the kitchen sink dishing my time away only to feel the smallest little lips kiss my leg, followed by the sound of little feet scurrying away, then returning, another peck, and repeat. Dylan can be so damn sweet when he wants to be. 

And then there’s Ducky, my prized possession, literally. When I was 4 years old I found the golden egg at an Easter egg hunt and won a large, yellow duck that I affectionately named “Ducky,” whom has since been my dearest friend. Ducky has survived moves, road trips, Europe, two years in a closet, dry cleaning, holes and stitches, and now Dylan. Ducky is over twenty years old and he’s seen [much] better days. He’s worn out, has grown pale, and I swear that he’s missing some stuffing in his lopsided head. I had no plans to introduce Dylan to Ducky, mostly because I wanted to protect him from the wild child that would surely find a way to damage him more than time has. But in a sea of stuffed animals, Dylan wanted Ducky. Just like me.

It started with pointing that quickly turned into whining, until one day I said, “FINE!” and I handed Ducky over. Dylan’s eyes lit up as he tried to wrap his arms around the big duck, hugged him, kissed him, and laid down on him. I was touched that my favorite friend was now being loved on by my favorite son. It was a full circle moment as the memories with Ducky swirled and whirled around in my mind. Days later, Dylan was still infatuated and hung up on Ducky. Dylan begged, “Ducky? Ducky?” he wouldn’t let it go. 

So I put Ducky in the wash and threw him in the dryer, as Dylan looked on, shocked, with a, “What the hell are you doing to my best friend” face. He was MY best friend first, kiddo. And when the dryer buzzed, Dylan’s pal was back. Fresh, clean, and ready to partake in another magical childhood. Life is such a trip.

March 24, 2014

Why I'm NOT Winning Mom of the Year

Embarrassing situations, close calls, and strange encounters are completely normal in life- especially with kids. I personally have my very own reel of highlights that I play in my mind when I need a good chuckle since it's not easy to laugh when the face plants, wardrobe malfunctions, or grocery store farts (Dylan did it) actually happen. Like yesterday’s moment- that is funny today

It was a completely normal Sunday afternoon. Dylan wanted to be outdoors, so we loaded him up in the stroller, leashed the dogs, and headed for the same lake we always visit on our walks. My dogs are ridiculous. One is Liebe, a 14 year old 8 lb. miniature dachshund who can hardly see or hear, and spends some of the time walking before being stowed on the bottom of the stroller. Suge is our beagle, an 8 year old weighing a lot more than he should (very fat) but can still keep up on the 3-4 mile route. In theory, we had it all figured out; water bottles, diapers, snacks, dog bags, and cell phones to track our pace. The only thing we didn’t consider? Geese. 

By the time we made it half way around the lake, my husband was pushing the stroller with an exhausted Liebe riding on the bottom. I was walking with Suge when I noticed a giant flock of geese and sitting ducks on the hillside of the lake. I thought Dylan would get a real kick out of seeing the ducks scatter, so I bolted toward the flock and began running through them as they panicked and flew all around. I turned back to watch Dylan’s reaction only to spot Liebe jumping out of the stroller and running toward the water to attack the birds. And without skipping a beat, my husband let go of the stroller and lunged after Liebe, who was a second away from jumping into the lake. And then there’s Dylan, two feet away from my husband in a moving stroller going downhill with no one behind the wheel when BAM! The stroller tips to its side and crashes on the grass with a crying Dylan strapped in oh-so-securely. Welcome to amateur hour.

My husband ran to Dylan’s side (lol), picked him up and consoled him, as we both did our best to pretend we didn’t just traumatize him for life. Surrounding us from all angles were fellow walkers, runners, and stroller-pushing mommas looking on with shocked, concerned faces, as if they just witnessed a baby falling to the floor or something. And throughout all of the commotion all I could think was, “I can’t wait to blog about this.” Too soon? Never.

March 20, 2014

Being Funny Hurts So Good

A sense of humor is very important to me (which is ironic because I’m not that funny). Still, when I meet someone that is funny, there is an instant rapport (on my part). I’ve always wanted to be the person who twists something seemingly dull into a laugh-so-hard-you-snort fest, but I’m more of a sarcastic type with a serious nature that earns a giggle by fluke. So you can only imagine how excited I am that Dylan actually laughs at my jokes! 

I will do practically anything to crack him up…though it doesn’t take much. If I trip, he laughs. If I chase him, he laughs. If I speak in a male voice, he laughs. Only problem? When I say no, he laughs…and that’s an issue. I don’t know what to do. My ego is beyond pleased that my disciplinary tone leaves the kid in stitches and a [big] part of me wants to pat myself on the back and say, “SEE!!! You’re funny!” And then go on and on with the no's just for giggles. But that might be inappropriate. 

For one, he IS one. Though it looks like laughter, sounds like laughter, and feels like laughter, he’s probably not laughing at my quick comedic wit, as there’s nothing “funny” about saying, “No touch. Yucky” when he starts digging through the trash or attempting to eat dog food. Secondly, how desperate am I for a laugh that I'd be willing to exploit my part-time as my son’s personal jester by making a mockery of my only real attempts at being a serious child-rearing disciplinarian

It’s a daily struggle. I am SO tempted to repeat the “NO!” for bonus laughs, even though it’s probably a bad idea. Go figure that when I finally put my dreams to amuse aside and work so hard to be firm- the laughter ensues. Really? Jokes on me. 

March 18, 2014

Expectations? Forget About It!

What I want to do versus what I end up doing is very, very different. Like when I imagine coming home and making a big yummy dinner with ingredients that I prepped the night before, when the reality is that I didn’t even do last night’s dishes, let alone prep ingredients for future use. Or when I imagine waking up on Saturday and cleaning the house from top to bottom, only to sit around leisurely without picking up a thing when the weekend finally rolls around. Failing to live up to my self-imposed expectations can be frustrating. 

I want to live in my glamorous, efficient, and productive hypothetical life, where the clock never strikes 12 and crapping rainbows and sunshine takes no extra effort. But real life is so...damn real. All of the chores/demands that come with being an adult, a parent, and a decent person can be exhausting. But I have found the perfect antidote: gratitude. 

When I fall into my, “ugh, do I have to get out of bed” demeanor, I try to remember why I’m getting up in the first place. I have a job! Someone actually pays me for my time. And that same someone actually lets me work hours before anyone else so that I can leave early enough to spend time with my son. What a deal! And the dinner that I don’t feel like making is so much better than having no food at all. And even though I REALLY don’t want to stop at the gas station, I really don’t want to stop on the side of the road either.

Dylan’s carefree smile is the ultimate reminder that I’m a lot luckier than I could ever truly know. So problems-schmoblems, hypothetic-schmetical, expectation-schmectation, ain’t no thang!

March 17, 2014

Sun, Fun, and Dylan Says Hi

Chasing after Dylan is practically a sport. He loves being outdoors and especially loves running in the opposite direction from wherever I am. So when the sun was beaming 90 very hot degrees this weekend, we took advantage of it by spending Saturday and Sunday on long walks and trips to the park. It was amazing for Dylan because he gets to be pushed around in a stroller when he gets tired while the rest of us suck it up and keep moving…uphill…in the heat. 

But it’s all good! A little sunshine and exercise was countered with some ice cream and beer, which is the precise formula I use to curb any of my heat-prone complaints. 

Dylan was loving all the outdoor free play and made sure to wave at every single passerby, as well as the man he spotted sitting poolside from the top of the hill. I have met more people from Dylan’s hand waiving in the past month than I have met in the past two years. The kid is forcing me to be sociable with the neighbors I specifically avoid talking to and it’s hilarious. Dylan goes out of his way to get a stranger’s attention, lock eyes, smile, then hit them with the wave and a giggle. 

“He made a new friend today,” I told my husband on Friday. 
“Oh yeah? How old?” 
“I don’t know, in her 70’s or something.” 

Dylan will be friends with anyone with one exception: no babies allowed. If you look like a baby, if you talk like a baby, if there is any possibility that you might be a baby- you’re not getting anything out of him. He prefers to engage with adults and watch the children safely from a distance. Dizbaby wants praise, attention, and admiration! He doesn’t get that from babies- they aren’t impressed with his happy-go-lucky smiles and bibble-babble, they only follow him around to play as equals. And though I’m certain his anti-baby demeanor is an age-related trait that he’ll grow out of, I like to tell my husband it’s because he desperately wants a sibling. Right Dylan?

March 13, 2014

Will Trade Tantrums for Diapers

Diapers were supposed to be gross, disgusting, and something I would creatively bargain against to avoid doing. But instead, they’re just thirty seconds of my day that is as insignificant as locking the front door behind me. As it turns out, cleaning up my baby’s bum is not a challenge; it’s the whole keeping my cool in the face of a hitting, screaming, biting monster that I have trouble with. 

Dylan’s intense behavior is of constant speculation. I’ve been told that it’s normal for him to slam his head against the tile floor when he gets mad. And I’ve been told that it’s okay when his huge smile is washed away with body thrashing misery. “He’s a baby,” “he’s frustrated that he can’t communicate what he wants,” “he doesn’t understand boundaries yet,” “the best reaction is no reaction,” and so on. 

The normalcy of his tantrums is constantly being reinforced by other parents, by his doctor, and by the dozens of google searches I’ve done on the topic. But guess what? It doesn’t make it any easier. Watching your son thrash his body repeatedly against his highchair because he’s upset you got “too close” is ridiculously defeating and scary. It’s frequent, it’s fast, and it can be triggered by the drop of a dime (especially if he wants the dime he’s not allowed to have). 

For me, it’s a constant battle between not wanting to worsen the situation and not wanting to stand by and let him bash his head (or bite hard plastic, or throw himself backward, etc.). In a perfect world, I would be able to give him the tools needed to better channel his aggression. But we’re not there yet- and sometimes it feels like all I’m doing is getting in the way as I fumble through being consistent and non-reactive. 

So as I prematurely gray and my stress levels spike, I laugh at my past naivety and secretly wish a dirty diaper was the most challenging part of the day. Though depending on Dylan’s temperament, sometimes it is.

March 11, 2014

Membership Denied - I'm Still Applying

I like to trap Dylan in his room by placing a baby gate in his doorway. It’s a great way of tricking him into thinking he has a lot more freedom than he actually does (door closed=the ultimate betrayal), while limiting the stress that comes with him exploring every square inch of the house. So each day I sit him on my lap while I put the gate in place, I let him play with shake it to ensure its snug, and then we excitedly enter his room where we play, laugh, and act silly. We are both completely satisfied and content with our in-room activities until the front door opens and closes- then it’s game over. Daddys home. 

The second Dylan hears that front door shut he shoots me a nasty glare that loosely translates to, “Dad’s home? OMG DAD, SAVE ME!” Then he races towards the gate attempting to climb over it with all of his might, as if he’s a prisoner with one shot at pulling off the perfect escape. He calls out for dad and waits for a sign, any noise or vision that will prove he has arrived. He’s desperate but I don’t understand why- I thought we were having so much fun! 

Dylan’s love for me is super evident- when Dad’s not around. Because when he is, I’m just that lady that keeps getting denied membership in the team daddy club. No kisses, no hugs, just what’s required- no extras. My role on center stage is instantly replaced by the mega celebrity that is Dad, and I’m left in the dust playing understudy. It’s all good when I want a little space, and I’m certainly not complaining that he holds his pops in such high esteem. But when dad tries to pass the kid off, my pipe dreams of having a mama’s boy are proven to indeed be pipe dreams, as he turns away and squirms, pleading for “anything but mommy.” And it doesn’t sting, it just blows my mind. Mommys fun too! Remember?

March 10, 2014

Daycare Woes

I was a nervous wreck when Dylan started daycare school this past January. I feared that he wouldn’t like being with a group of kids and adults he didn’t know after 8 months of being watched by my mom, and that he’d scream and cry for me every day. Fortunately, my concerns were quickly debunked as he proved to easily acclimate to the new environment. Unfortunately, I’m still not satisfied. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love what they’re doing over at Montessori. He is living the good life with finger painting, outdoor play, other children, and an attentive group of teachers. BUT- he’s also sick…all the time. The cycle is the same every week: he starts school on Wednesday only to wake up on Thursday with a cold, and is full-fledged sick with a fever by Friday night. My husband and I end up spending Saturday and Sunday trying to rehabilitate him and my mom babies him into a healthy state on Monday and Tuesday. Then, as soon as he’s finally on the mend, he goes back to school and collects a fresh set of germs that knock him out. It’s an extremely defeating pattern that I can’t seem to get a hold on. 

So what’s a mom to do? Anything. I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to come up with a solution to ward off these reoccurring illnesses and to determine whether this is common. All I’ve found is that diet and good habits are a great deterrent for viruses, that it’s universally agreed upon that daycares are a great way to get your kid sick build your child’s immune system, and that “most kids” go through an “always sick” phase. Basically, I’ve learned nothing- though I do have a sort of crazy idea: relactation. 

You see, Dylan was breastfed for 8 months until he woke up one day and decided he wanted nothing to do with me. The timing seemed to be perfect, as I had grown tired of 4:45 am pump sessions and lunch dates with the pump. So with a stash of frozen milk tucked away in my freezer I decided to quit. But now that my freezer is empty and the kid is constantly sick, I’m set on beginning the “relactation process,” otherwise known as “can I get that milk back?” I honestly don’t know if it’s even possible but I’m desperate enough to try anything.

March 6, 2014

Confession: I Stalk My Kid...and I Like It

My imagination is constantly locked in overdrive, which would be great if I channeled it to write a children’s book, draft a screenplay, or devise a plan that would result in my husband actually using the hamper. But instead, I use it to scare myself. When Dylan is walking on the tile, I envision him slipping and cracking his teeth on the floor. When I’m driving behind a loaded truck, I see the objects coming loose and striking my vehicle. And when I prepare dinner, I think about the mad cow disease I’ll develop five years from now. It’s a form of psychological terrorism that compels me to triple check that the front doors locked, the irons unplugged, and that there isn’t a stranger in my closet. So it’s was no surprise that when Dylan was born, he became a big star in my crazy alternative reality. 

During the whole baby shower registry process, I swore to my husband that we didn’t need a baby monitor. I chalked them up to be unnecessary stalker devices that would force me to listen to much more than I wanted to. “Trust me, if he cries, you’ll hear it,” I would tell my husband as he urged me to at least look at them. I didn’t, but I received a basic one at my baby shower anyway. And THANK FREAKING GOD! I should have known myself better and taken my knack for hypothetical possibilities in consideration before ruling against them because of all crap piled in Dylan’s room, the monitor has proven to be the most useful (and my favorite). 

When Dylan got his first 103 degree fever, it was the activity on his monitor that prompted me to check on him, only to find him swaddled, overheating, and too weak to wiggle himself free. And the silence from the monitor is what affords me peace of mind when I sit in bed late at night and imagine Dylan choking, being kidnapped, or the scariest: waking up. Now days my only issue with the stalker device is that it doesn’t stalk enough. I want the wifi model that streams video on any device wherever I am, and I want Dylan to take it with him to daycare because a mom’s gotta know, you know? Sometimes I even imagine a baby monitor that works two ways and would allow me to mess with Dylan by making strange noises and watching his reaction. What can I say? I like to have fun! But before you judge me, do know those types of monitors actually exist

Had I invested just ten minutes reading this monitor buying guide from BabyLull.com like my husband asked me to, I wouldn’t have been so adamant (okay fine, stubborn) about not spending money on one. But for someone like me, who has a vivid, intense, free flowing imagination, I can’t even imagine my life without a baby monitor. My only question is, as he gets older do I have to take it out? 

P.S. I realize that when I really believe in something, I come across as a cheese ball sales gal. So I thought I should mention that I did not receive any product/compensation/or anything from BabyLull.com for mentioning them in this post. BabyLull.com is a business based in North Carolina that I’m simply a fan of. They are kind, helpful, and won me over with their plethora of resources, clean web design, and family first, business second attitude. But if they did want to gift me a monitor, I want this one.

March 5, 2014

Ben Sauer - Miracle Needed

Sometimes in life you hear, see, or experience something so painful that you cannot ignore it. Unless you’re like me, then you shut down. You start repeating a safety word over and over again in your head to prevent uncontrollable sobbing. And if you’re like me, you justify those robotic ambitions out of having a hyper-empathetic nature that leaves your identity stained by another’s sorrow. Because you can’t just hear a story, you absorb it.  

So this morning as I began reading a blogger mom reveal her 4 year old son Ben’s recent diagnosis, I closed the blog post because it was affecting me too much. Tears had swelled, goose bumps covered me, and my heart was pounding as I envisioned Ben’s family struggling with the news that he has only weeks left to live. And as I was talking myself out of feeling I realized something about my display of resistance: it’s not fair to make it all about me. 

Ben is a twin with a younger sister, and up until January of this year, everything in his life seemed normal. Then the headaches began that were soon discovered to be related to an aggressive and extremely rare tumor growing in his brain. At this point, prayers for divine intervention are crucial. As Ben’s mom stated, “The stage is set for a miracle.” The doctors have done all they can and it hurts. Ben could be any one of our children, a cancerous tumor could be any of our realities, and it could be any of us having to explain to our child why he’ll be going to the hospital while his twin brother goes to preschool. Any one of our lives could change just as quickly at any given time. 

So instead of ignoring the agony that comes from reading Ben’s story, and instead of repeating a stupid safety word that will distract me from feeling too much, I’m allowing myself to struggle with the truth that life isn’t always fair or beautiful. Some things are too painful to ignore and they deserve attention too. It’s what we need to experience to be better people, to better connect, understand, relate, and be there for each other. Because it’s not just Ben, it’s any of us. We could all stand to be kinder, gentler, and pray just a little bit more for each other. Today, I pray for Benjamin, his family, and that it may never happen to you. 

You can find Ben's story and how you can help here: http://bensauer.blogspot.com/

March 3, 2014

Why I Still Swaddle My 1 Year Old

The march forward through time is bitter sweet and undeniable as I stare at the nodding off child sprawled across the lap he’s practically outgrown (mine). My eyes are open and the signs of change are everywhere, both eminent and plentiful. I try to imagine my giant baby fitting in my stomach like he once did but it’s impossible. He’s 1 now, those days are over. 

I don’t want to hold Dylan back, or keep him from reaching new heights and experiences in toddlerhood. I want him to explore, learn, grow, achieve, and flourish! But still, I find myself wanting to hold onto something (anything) that will make me feel like I have a grip and that time isn’t just slipping away. So I move him from my lap to my bed and swaddle him the same way I always have before carrying him to his crib where he will wake up a day older. 

But the “tomorrows” pass quickly and pile into “remember when’s.” Like remember when Dylan only knew how to say three words? Remember when Dylan pointed outside and said “trees!” And before we could celebrate his fourth word he said “two!” and “shoe!” and “please!” then shook his head for “yes”? One day those moments will be fuzzy and certainties will be replaced with “I think,” as the storage capacity that is our memory will prove to have limits and fail to record it all. 

And though this journey I am on is ever-changing, it is only the beginning. There will be so many more times I compare last year to this year and so on. It will be tiring, scary, and constant. But even at its most dubious and defeating it will perfect. The relationship between Dylan and I stretches far past milestones, time, and memories. It is infinite; it is unbreakable, and something that cannot be outgrown, even if my lap can be. So as I struggle to accept that pregnancy became a newborn that became a baby that became a toddler, who will one day become a boy that becomes a man, I find peace in knowing that I will forever be “Mom.”