Category Archives: Parenting

Where do they come up with this stuff?

As I said in my last post, my precious baby is more like a little man every day. I’ve had a lot more time to spend with him with the holiday season, and it’s been wonderful witnessing all the things I usually miss when I’m at work, leaving the house before he awakes in the morning and returning only a few hours before his bedtime. I never knew how much goes on during that time. Since just before Christmas, these are some of my Jacob’s new developments (or maybe just ones I’ve noticed since I’ve been around and able to spend more time with him!):

1)      Manners! Joe (husband) and I are casual people. In spite of our settling in New England, my Ivy League employer, and his expertise in early music, I believe we both would be best described as “down to earth.” To go along with this, we have been all too remiss in teaching my stepson (now 8) and son (a year and a half) any etiquette whatsoever. Hey, I’m originally from southern Ohio and Joe’s from the Jersey shore. What can I say? Anyway, without any instruction on our part, our little guy has taken to using “please” and “thank you” like it’s nobody’s business. I was shocked the other day when Jacob said “up peeeez” and then “thanks” when I picked him up. Ever since, he’s been saying “peez” and “thanks” or “thank you” for everything.

2)      Potty developments. Recently, I mentioned that my son had a way of announcing the contents of his diaper just after he had made his delivery. Well, today was his fourth official pee pee drop off in the potty. Today’s began with “I want potty peez,” was followed by five minutes of me exchanging the books he flipped through while sitting there, and ended with “all done pee pee” and a potty full of the stuff!

3)      Descriptions. I was pretty impressed when my little guy started saying things like “it hurts” and “noise” and “deep freeze” (to describe the cold weather)…but he has impressed me even more with “loud noise” and “big ball” and “heavy box”  and “ hot?” while placing his palm with open fingers just an inch or so above his cooked food. The cutest was when he and Joe were playing with a ball in the kitchen the other day. When daddy kicked the ball fast and high, Jacob shouted “Oh! Nice!”

4)      Words with lots of syllables. Today when we were looking at animal pictures online he said “heepo [pause]…pottamus”. Enough said.

Are you impressed? I am such the proud mama these days…especially since I’ve been home to see it all unfold. What’s new with your little ones? I know who you readers are, and I know you have kids or relatives who are amazing you every day. Do share your stories!

Happy holidays!

Baby’s First Haircut

It’s not at all accurate to call my Jacob a baby anymore. At this point, he’s well into the prime of his toddlerhood. Still, in his first nineteen months of life, he never once had snipped a single strand of hair. So, in my mind, his first haircut still counts as a “baby’s first.” Plus, I think the cut was a little overdue—my husband would argue that it should have happened when Jacob was indeed still a baby.

I’ve had my reasons for waiting. I’ve written before about my love for my little guy’s luscious curls. And, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that my husband is the designated barber in the house. As an ex-marine on a budget, he refuses to let anyone else cut his own or my stepson’s hair. I even have to put up a bit of a fight to convince him that, in spite of his special scissor skills, a salon is necessary for my own hair. While I imagine he could trim a woman’s hair, the only style I think he’s ever cut is the traditional marine “high and tight.”

I’ve been fending off my husband’s eager clippers since Jacob’s curls first appeared. For my son to go from sweet swirly, twirly curls to a military buzz cut just hasn’t been okay for me…not to mention my thoughts that Jacob will likely sport the jarhead head for as long as he lives under our roof… or until he is a teenager, either insisting on growing his hair long or sneaking behind his father’s back to have someone else cut his hair. To say the least, I’ve been pretty adamant about delaying the inevitable. Until…

A few nights ago, Jacob was playing on the kitchen floor while I was making dinner. While forking strands of spaghetti squash into a bowl, I looked over to find him lying on his back and scooting himself around the room. When he sat up (yes, this is a clear testament to how often I sweep), his curls were full of dust and lint. He looked especially scraggly and unkempt. The term “mop top” was taking on a whole new, more literal meaning.

Immediately, I yelled to my husband to grab his trimming tools and my son…with the disclaimer that he probably had only about five minutes to drag Jacob upstairs and begin chopping that mop before I changed my mind.

Well, to make a long story a little less long, let me just say it’s done. There were tears and screams (mostly Jacob’s—I think he was afraid of the sound the clippers made, but Mommy struggled a little too as those locks fell). In the end, the bathroom floor was covered in hunks of fine, curly hair, and where once was my curly headed baby stood a little boy who looked much, much cuter and tidier with his new do. Who knew the high and tight would be so becoming? I hope that I can remember this day when those curls begin to reappear!

The Lighter of the Dark Side

My 19-month-old is just plain lucky to have an 8-year-old brother. Big brother has lived through 8 whole birthdays and 8 whole Christmases, not to mention several years of earning prizes from a “big boy” point system that we created sometime during his preschool years…to keep him following directions and trying new foods and not doing annoying stuff that we didn’t want him to do. Anyway, back to my original point…as Jackson (big brother) has three sets of grandparents, both parents and stepparents, and all sorts of other relatives to buy him all the action heroes and Legos and play weapons that his heart has desired, little brother is living the good life when it comes to toys.

I mentioned several months ago that Jacob learned to walk while holding a lightsaber and that one of his first utterances was the “tzzt” that Spiderman makes. Well, his new favorite line is “dark side of the pillow”, which actually sounds more like “dok sawd uh duh peelow.” This requires some explaining.

One of Jacob’s beloved hand-me-down toys is a Star Wars helmet that has a sort of microphone, which makes your voice sound like a powerful ruler. As you can imagine, this has been all sorts of fun for each of the three boys in my household (husband included, and actually emphasized.) Each morning, when he (husband) goes to wake Jackson for school, he (husband) puts on the helmet, turns on the light in Jackson’s room, and says slowly in a sort of British accent using his deepest voice (which comes out even deeper with the mic distortion on the helmet), “There’s no match for the dark side of the pillow.” Then, he starts hitting Jackson (playfully, this is not child abuse, folks) with a pillow to wake him up.

Jacob has witnessed this scene so many mornings that he now calls all helmets “dok sawd uh duh peelow.” That line is adorable…right up there with his latest demand for independence: “I want ah bah mah sef” (I want all by myself), which he says when wrestling Mommy for the fork during meals or the toothbrush when brushing his teeth. Thank goodness for the cuteness factor or else these two moves would qualify for Mommy’s ever-growing collection of major annoyances that now include his new interests in climbing into drawers when we’re not looking and sticking anything that fits into the vents throughout the house. (Though he tried, neither the grapefruit nor the orange would fit.)

Just thought I’d share the latest…happy December!

Oh…duh poo poo

I mentioned in my last post that my Jacob—who will be a whole year and a half in just two days!—has an ever-growing vocabulary. Since that post, he has learned and practiced a bunch of new words. “Pungo” (pumpkin) is the word of the season, and “butt” (peanut butter) is his very favorite new food. He witnessed his first “sun” (snow) as a speaking toddler this past Saturday and points to all the piles of “sun” as we go on walks to the park to “sfing” (swing). Thankfully, he finally is getting used to going to the “jeembee” (gym) and even asks for “moh jeembee” (more gym) some days when I get home from work.

Second only to “butt”, his other favorite food is “bock bocks” (chicken nuggets), which got their name from the sounds that Mommy and Daddy tell him chickens make both on Old MacDonald’s farm and on the Bus (with the wheels that go round and round) on car trips. (Yes, there are chickens on our bus.) Speaking of that bus, that now carries any passenger who makes a noise… when Jacob sees a dog,  he barks…in a way that I can only call “the evil puppy.” If he spots a cat, he meows politely first and then hisses loudly (thanks to realist Daddy who taught him that some dogs are mean…and that cats hiss and claw instead of meow when they fight…and that cows grunt instead of moo when jumping over the moon).

Only a couple weeks ago, Jacob first announced that he had gone #2 by saying “poo poo” just after his diaper was full and stinky. Since then, he has begun to say “oh…duh poo poo” (oh, the poo poo? I’m not completely sure) just before he goes, followed by “I want moh potty (more potty)”. Unfortunately, he hates sitting on either his mini-toddler potty or what we call “the big-boy potty” (the regular toilet). So, for now, his words are not doing him too much good…although they are a nice warning for us when he’s about to go.

Over the last couple weeks, Jacob’s word for cheese—“tzhit”—has morphed to “cheez-tzhit”, which is still quite similar to how he says Spiderman, and actually to how he refers to all superheroes that remind him of Spiderman, which is “men (pause) tzhit”. He even uses the web-release hand gesture when he says it! And, “tzhit” reminds me of “bzzzzt” (electrical outlets). This is a word/sound Daddy taught Jacob in attempt to scare him from sticking is fingers in sockets. Unfortunately, it only piqued his interest.

Just yesterday, I was surprised when I wiped Jacob’s nose, and he said “booguh” (again, this one must have come from his well-intentioned father.) Most recently, I think the cutest two things are how he: #1 adds “ee” to the ends of most words and #2 addresses Mommy and Daddy in his requests. I mean, who can resist “I want moh outsahdee (more outside), mama” or “I want moh milkee (more milk), daddy”? Precious, precious, precious.

 

 

When words mean work…

Parenting a child who is learning to talk is an amazing…and exhausting thing. Jacob will be one and a half in just a couple weeks, and his ever-increasing language skills astound me. Just this weekend, I probably heard a dozen new words from his mouth, including: “let’s go!” when I asked “ready?”, “home” once when we strolled into the driveway after a walk and once more as we were driving down our street after a trip to the grocery store, and then “fart,” which he repeated several times after hearing it from his (eloquent) father.

Of course, I am beaming with pride at my son’s growing vocabulary (well, except for the last addition I mentioned—my husband is beaming at that one.) Still, I also am keenly aware of the implications of Jacob’s ability to put into words his preferences and interests. Though a beautiful thing, as with many other milestones, it comes down to more work for me and my husband. Lately, Jacob’s favorite sentence starter is “I want moh” [more], followed by something that mommy, or daddy, or both of us must do, bring, shake our heads at, or simply ignore. Among the many requests (or demands depending on the day) and expressions in his vocabulary are:

  • “tzhit”: which means “cheese” but sounds identical to the sound effect he makes to imitate Spiderman shooting his web. When we don’t have any cheese or if I want him to eat something else instead, I just say, “That’s right! Get him, Spiderman!”
  • “muhp”: which he has used for months now to mean “up,” as in being lifted up into our arms or up out of a highchair, carseat, or tight spot between furniture where he has gotten himself stuck. “Muhp” now is what we hear when he is hanging from the safety gate blocking the stairwell leading to the second floor of our house. It means that he would like to go upstairs…and that he wants to get there by climbing all by himself. At this point, his motor skills fall behind his physical ambitions. In a typical journey up the steps, he slips several times and misses one or more steps completely. Sometimes, he decides suddenly to turn and go back down the stairs, which is no good…because…well, he doesn’t really know how to do that yet.
  • “bus”: the Wheels on the Bus song—this is the accompaniment to every car ride these days. When the wheels and wipers and horns and drivers and babies on the bus were not enough, donkeys and roosters and motorcycles and snakes came aboard. If this bus existed in real life, its noises would quite possibly be the most annoying cacophony that ever was. I’m not sure how I feel about creating that for my son.
  • “allllllllllll!!!” in his loudest voice as he waves his hand violently: which means he is all done and whatever it is that he is done with must be taken away immediately or he will keep yelling and waving.
  • “binky”: which is the first word out of his mouth when he wakes (still several times) in the middle of the night. If Ms. Binky (she’s female because she replaced my boob when Jacob stopped nursing) is not anywhere obvious, he climbs around the bed and over mommy and daddy, digging through the blankets and pillows until it’s safely back in his mouth. (Yes, we are planning to wean him off this habit at some point…maybe around the same time we actually get him to sleep in his own bed…?)
  • “melmo” [Elmo]: which means one of four songs that Elmo sings and that is available on sesamestreet.org. This is a pain for two reasons: #1 Jacob doesn’t like watching any video unless it’s one of these four songs and #2 because we don’t have a television, the best we can do is play each song one at a time on our laptop, which requires us to come back to the computer and type something new in every two minutes or so when the song is over. It is enough time to use the restroom, however…which is more than we’ve gotten in the past.
  • And two of my new favorites: “poo poo,” which at this point he only says AFTER he has made his diaper deposit and “uh oh,” which he learned recently from a playmate and which he says anytime he trips, drops something, or even sees one of us make a mistake. Both are simply adorable utterances. The increased workload from the latter stems from Jacob’s new liking for throwing both things (toys, food, etc.) and himself on the floor or ground just so he can follow it up with “uh oh.”

So, that’s the latest with us: a toddler full of things to say—not much of a surprise given who his parents are (very talkative people, in case you don’t know us or didn’t notice).  Anyone else have any cute words or phrases that have come out of their little ones recently or in the past?

Between a crib and a hard place

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while—life has been a little crazier than usual. We’re in the middle of some financial difficulties. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that things have changed for us in major ways. It’s not just simple stuff—like having to limit my random expenditures or to make my own coffee instead of stopping at Starbucks (I do that anyway!). I have to cross things…lots of things…off our grocery list (meat, organic anything, everything unnecessary). I layer and wash the same few outfits over and over instead of buying new clothes for our growing boys. In general, I just don’t spend money unless absolutely essential.

My husband is working pretty much all hours (evenings and weekends) when I’m not at work, and I’m working multiple jobs outside of my main one. Anytime I’m not working at the office or to the beat of an aerobics CD, I’m with the kids. This translates into little time for me and even less time for blogging…especially because the housework just keeps falling further and further behind.

Don’t worry. We’re okay…just a little busier than normal.

So, in the name of saving time, which is the theme of my life right now, I thought I’d share a short update…

Co-sleeping update

My toddler son would rather fall asleep soaked in both his own and my or my husband’s sweat than to fall asleep alone. He has to have some physical connection (a leg, arm, etc.) to one of my or my husband’s body parts in order to fall or stay asleep. (See photo.) And, he still can’t sleep without a pacifier (which we do not even allow as an option in the daytime!) After nearly 17 whole months (since his birth) of trying variations of bassinets…and cribs…and crib mattresses on the floor without the crib, my son still has yet to sleep a single night by himself, without the presence of me or my husband. Really.

And, yes, we have tried…and tried…and tried. There have been tears and screams, hours of them some nights, sometimes coming from both toddler and parents…well, mama at least.

One day, we just stopped fighting it. We both figure that when he’s old enough to understand that it’s way uncool to sleep with us, he’ll eventually sleep in his own bed. Fingers crossed. (Can you please cross yours too? I could use some extra help in this area.)

Until I find another free moment, take care!

On toddler mullets: To cut or not to cut?

My son was born bald…sort of. To be more accurate, I should say he had a bit of peach fuzz on his tiny, misshapen head (that got stuck in mommy’s chute for way too long while attempting to make its grand exit). However, mostly bald is about all we got for…I would say…the first six months or so. And, even when my Jacob’s hair was coming in, no one could really tell it was there. It was thin and blond.

Then, one glorious day, a curl grew. I had always wanted curls of my own. As a little girl with stick straight hair, I spent many a night praying by my bedside for curls. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I endured long afternoons of stinky perms, restless nights of readjusting my pillow under a head full of foam rollers, and early mornings, hours before the sun rose, hot rolling my hair for school. After all that work, didn’t I deserve some natural body in my tresses? Then, like a mean trick, somewhere around 10th grade my flat hair stayed flat in the front and sides but took on a kink in the back (for a precise mental picture, think of what a 1980s crimper can do. Yes, I live with that as my natural do). Why couldn’t I just have curls?

A few months ago, with that curl on my son’s head, my prayers were answered. One after another, perfect little curls grew upon his darling head, where once resided fuzz alone. One by one they came until his previously (almost) bald head became an adorable garden of blossoming waves and ringlets. And, they grew. And grew. And, we never cut his golden locks. Until one day, a loving look from mommy to son became a triple take, as visions of Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael Bolton, and Rod Stewart danced through her head.

At fifteen and a half months old, he has yet to have a single strand snipped. What to do? After all, “business in the front, party in the back” cannot apply to anyone in diapers, right? Still, I would hate to see him go through life as Jacob Dirt, having acquired a nasty nickname at such a young age due solely to mommy’s curl fetish. Decisions, decisions…

Calling all working moms: What are your rose-smelling secrets?

People keep asking me if I had a nice birthday. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to be that person—you know—the one who answers a positive question in an unexpectedly negative way and then causes an unnecessary, awkward silence. In my opinion, if I do that enough, I will lose friends…or at least acquaintances, who will do what they can to steer clear of the pessimism and uncomfortable situations I create. After all, who wants to talk to a big complainer anyway?

So, back to my 32nd birthday. It was okay, I guess. I spent the majority of the day at work planning an interesting project, then took my son to a pediatrics appointment that lasted way longer than it should have (hours), and afterward de-stressed at a kickboxing class in the evening. My husband bought me pink roses (my favorite) and a pint of the best hot fudge in the whole world (disgustingly enough, yes, I eat the hot fudge by itself—to me, that is a much better treat than a sundae…although I definitely enjoy a good sundae every once in a while too. And, no, in case you’re wondering, I don’t eat the whole pint at once…that would be disgusting.)

All in all, it was a fair day. And, I was accepting of its mediocrity at the day’s end, because I had taken off from work the next day (Friday, the day after my birthday) to celebrate with a three-day weekend and plans to spend some much needed quality time with my son, stepson, and husband…who I feel like I hardly ever see anymore between working every day, going to the gym, and just taking care of life’s miscellaneous, like grocery shopping and paying bills and keeping the house livable.

My first day off (Friday) ended up being pretty much like every other weekend or vacation day I take- somewhat stressful and less than fulfilling.  I spent too much of the day thinking about what I should be doing with my time (like the stuff I mentioned above, plus laundry, dishes, dusting, mopping, packing up clothes that don’t fit the boys anymore, etc). Although I did take care of some of those tasks, I didn’t achieve as much as I could have…because all I could think was, “this is my special day off, and I should be spending time on things I really want to do (like beading, drawing, blogging, shopping, or reading).” I didn’t do any of those things because I felt guilty that I should be doing housework.

Amid over-thinking what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my time and then disappointing myself with not accomplishing much of anything useful or fun, I spent a good amount of the day chasing a toddler around the house as he tried to climb the oven and all the safety gates in our home, pull our air conditioning units out of the windows, jump off the couch, and dive into the toilet.

Sidenote: as much as I’m bitching that I got nothing done, I did do the laundry, the dishes, and some organizing in my bedroom. I took my little guy on two walks in the beautiful weather, and I taught an aerobics class in the afternoon. I cooked two meals from scratch (which I never do), and I relaxed with a glass of pinot noir and an hour of Netflix with my husband before I hit the sack. Looking back on that, on top of the roses and hot fudge, I can’t say it was a bad day. Yet, I was far from satisfied with it. It felt like a busy, but mostly unproductive day, in both the ways of housework and of relaxation. Maybe my standards are too high?

Day 2 (Saturday) was much better. I stopped thinking so much and just got to doing, both necessary things—like paying bills and cleaning—and fun stuff—like going to the park and shopping (as a family). By today (Sunday, day 3 of my three-day birthday weekend), I finally feel satisfied. I can say honestly that the weekend was everything it should have been—productive and relaxing. I accomplished a good part of my to-do list, and I got plenty of playtime with my stepson and son, snuggle-time with my son and husband, and even a little me-time to exercise and blog.  I truly feel ready to start the workweek.

But…why do I do this to myself—why are days off such a stressful mix of worrying about the best ways to spend my time and of feeling guilty and unsatisfied about how I end up spending it? Two-day weekends just don’t seem to cut it for me anymore. They’re simply not long enough to prepare me mentally for the week to come. Unfortunately, I don’t see myself having anything more than those two days weekly away from work anytime soon. So, what’s the solution? Any suggestions from anyone out there? I think I asked a similar question the last time I took a vacation (and felt like I needed a vacation even more when I returned.) I got some good suggestions then about putting a little vacation into everyday life. Maybe I’ll compile and post a list about the working-moms juggle if I get some more ideas…how do other working moms make the most of the time when they’re not at work?

In the meantime, for the first time since I got them, days ago, I just noticed the amazing scent of my birthday roses, sitting on the table next to me. If that’s not a reminder of the importance of answering such questions as the one above, then nothing is. However, instead of spending the last couple hours of my precious weekend searching for an answer, I’m going to enjoy some chardonnay and a little cuddle time with my hubby before the cycle re-consumes me, starting tomorrow when I go back to work. Cheers.

On Holding Tongues and Choosing Battles

Usually, I don’t complain openly about my husband. Well, that’s not completely true. At times, I tell it like I see it when I’m talking to him about his mistakes and shortcomings. And, I never, ever hold back on complaining in general when I’m talking to my sister (tied for BFF with my husband). Also, when my girlfriends are grumbling about their husbands, I sometimes can’t help but to chime in.

Still, I think it’s fair to say, that, for the most part, I zip my lips when it comes to criticizing my other half…because, after all, he is my other half by choice. It would say something about me and my judgment if I bitched and moaned about everything he does and doesn’t do… when I chose him and married him and had babies with him and continue to be with him. And, generally, I think I’m good at making decisions.

Anyway, I don’t typically broadcast my marital gripes. Not on my blog—because hubby has no way to fight back. Not with my coworkers or acquaintances—because they have enough of their own complaining to do, and it’s just not good karma (especially as my husband crosses paths regularly with many of these folks). And, especially not with my parents—because all they want is the best in the world for their baby girl. If I start to insinuate that my life partner and father of my children is less than perfect, then mom and dad may start to question if he’s good enough. And, frankly, I don’t need another issue like that with my parents. We have enough of our issues.

So, onto my story…

The other night, around 8 o’clock (note: this is after Jacob’s old bedtime of 7PM), I called my father from the park. One of the first things he asked (when he heard Jacob squealing in the background as I pushed him on the swing) was “where are you?” This is when my non-open-complaining-but-hinting-at-what-I-want-to-complain-about monologue began.

Cry me a river

“Oh, I’m at the park. Yes, you’re probably thinking that Jacob is usually in bed at this time. Nope, not anymore. Joe [husband] has him on a different sleep schedule. You’re also probably wondering why it’s just us and where Joe is right now. He’s at his softball game, where he is every Wednesday night (sigh).

“Do you remember he’s off work while school’s out this year because of his new job? He’s home with Jacob all sunny summer long while I’m at work all day every day. Yes, you’re right if you think it’s hard. It does sometimes kill me to leave for work in the morning when Joe gets to spend all of the lovely day with our precious son who is growing all too quickly.

“I know. I know. You’re probably thinking that I shouldn’t work full time or that Joe should be working days instead of me…because, after all, I’m the mom. Yeah (sigh). Well, anyway, Joe stayed out late with one of his friends last night [for the first time in months—I failed to mention this part] and so, he napped with Jacob late his afternoon.

“Yeah, you’re probably surprised and thinking, ‘wow, must be nice to sleep in the middle of the day!’ I was thinking the same thing. So, anyway, that’s why we’re at the park. Joe stayed out late last night and let Jacob sleep too long. So, here I am, after working all day while Joe’s out playing ball. I’m just passing the time until Jacob gets tired (sigh)…”

An unsympathetic, but reasonable response

After this ridiculous stab at my husband, my dad said, “Yeah, I remember when I had days off with you, kids, when your mom worked or was out grocery shopping or running errands. I did the same thing. I’d let you sleep all day if I could. You take what you can get when it comes to breaks when you have toddlers in the house. Good for him.”

My immediate thought was: “Seriously? This is Dad’s response to my poor-pitiful-me situation?!” My second thought was more aligned with how I really feel: my husband does deserve a break. As much as it tears my heart in two to leave my son for ten to twelve hours each weekday, I sincerely doubt I could stay home with him as much as my husband does and remain sane all the while. I learned that about myself on my maternity leave.

I always say I admire the stay-at-home moms out there who do it. Why don’t I admire my husband? Not only does he stay at home with my son during the day, but he also works evenings and weekends. Why do I feel annoyance instead of admiration?

“Never enough” is not reason enough to wage war

The problem is, as with all things in my life, I’m always wanting more. And, that has a direct impact on my expectations for the people closest to me, namely, my husband. Truly, I love him. I’ve explained to the world what a fabulous person and father he is. And, he is. But, he also happens to be the person I nitpick the most and on whom I take out my stress. Plus, sometimes he just makes me crazy. However, just when I’m about to kick and scream and pull out the big guns, I’ll come home to a clean house and an offer from him to watch the kids while I go hang with my girlfriends.

Ever since I became a mom over a year ago, I’ve found it takes a concentrated effort in all areas of my life to let the small stuff go and to be appreciative of the stuff that matters. When it comes to my husband, it’s the fair thing to do. After all, I have plenty of my own weaknesses and regrets. If he called me out on every incident in which one of those surfaced, then my life would be exponentially more stressful, and I’d be buried in guilt. No thanks. Furthermore, I figure if I am picking fights all the time, then down the road, when I want him to pay attention, all he’ll think is “here she goes again.” That’s not exactly the reaction I want when I actually have something worth arguing about. Until then, it’s probably best I keep my mouth shut. I guess it’s true that not all problems are battle-worthy.

 

Revisiting values

Sometime over the last two months, Jacob’s (one-year-old son’s) bedtime has migrated from 7PM to 9PM. This change has impacted my life in significant ways. Yes, it means that I have more time to spend with him at night after work and the gym, which has been nice. However, it also means that instead of spending those two hours cleaning, writing (blogging), or practicing step aerobics routines for the classes I teach, I am doing one of two three other things:

#1    I am playing strange games with my energetic toddler: games like get-myself-as-tangled-as-I-can-in-the-furniture-then-have-mommy-pull-me-out-repeat-repeat-repeat or like scream-loudly-until-mommy-removes-the-butterfly-magnet-off-the-fridge-and-gives-it-to-me-so-I-can- put-it-right-back-and-scream-again-repeat-repeat-repeat.

#2    I am lying in bed with him, starting at his old bedtime, 7PM, with my to-do list racing through my mind and prayers that he’ll fall asleep before 9PM so that I can deal with at least one major task. All the while, he is trying to crawl or roll away or jump on the bed, so I say “hey!” and pull him back to lie next to me (another one of those strange games that he likes to play over and over). Then begins the unintentional (but still annoying) head butting, kicking, or punching me while he gets comfortable.

#3    I almost forgot this one, but it’s not accurate to leave it out. My husband and I are arguing about who gets to go do his or her “very important” whatever while the other one keeps an eye on Jacob, or tries for two hours to get him to go to sleep (see #2 above). By the time Jacob is finally asleep at 9PM, I’m too exhausted to do much of anything.

As you were reading that last bit, you might have begun judging me or at least questioning how I do things. (Obviously, I’m okay with that, or I wouldn’t post my thoughts publicly.) You may be asking why I don’t just surrender those two hours to cherished time with my son, wondering why I don’t simply put him in a crib and let him cry, or questioning why I don’t make other time in my days to clean or write or whatever. These are all good questions, questions that I ask myself all the time, questions with answers tied somehow to my values.

Several months back I explained my step-by-step process for analyzing my values, and I invited you along for the ride. In case you didn’t hop aboard then, here are the questions I suggested we ask:

  • What do I value the most in my life?
  • What’s important to me?
  • What do I strive regularly to achieve?
  • What should I use to guide my goals and the way I spend my time?

I mentioned how there are a couple different approaches to tackling these questions:

  1. Try to sum up in a few words a broad value that is important to you.
  1. First, think about different goals or activities you value. Then, try to define broad categories that group sets of these goals/activities together.

I shared my list of values….

Kids’ Health and Development

Relationships with Family and Friends

Physical Fitness

Being Happy: Maintaining Sanity

Learning and Growing: Trying New Things

Becoming a Better Person: Learning from Mistakes

Being Thankful

Integrity: Being True to Myself

Making a Positive Difference in Others’ Lives

Keeping Life (House, Car, Office) Organized, Clean, and Clutter-Free

Before I go into what we did next (defined goals and activities that aligned with these values), I’m going to stop here…just in case you want to think a little more about values. As for me, I’m going to spend some time reflecting on my own list, possibly amending and appending to it, and hopefully living my weekend in some ways that align with it.

Catch ya on the flip side.