Mothering and Life in General
Category Archives: Parenting
Dearest Lil Miss,
We have been on some rocky road lately, you seem to try out everything in your power to make my brain try to escape my skull. You have listened to my direction and done everything but. We have shared screaming matches, anger fits, and heartfelt tears. Yes, it’s been a rough road. Dreadful, actually. It was until yesterday, that we finally connected the way we used too. I want to document this moment to you, so we both don’t forget.
I was on the phone with a friend, we were discussing about the TIME cover and how her, not being a nursing mother, took it as they were mocking us mothers who nurse an older child. I explained to my friend, while I was actually nursing you, that I loved the picture. To me, every picture tells a story, and I have yet to find a nursing picture that I have not liked. It reminded me of the nursing acrobats that toddlers do. I just try really hard to not look past the picture, because the wording takes a cut to every mother, nursing or not. And how unnatural the poise was, but moving on.
Flashes of memories came back in my mind. So many that brings a smile to my face. Remembering them again, as you sat contentedly on my lap, soaking in every word – remembering too, as I retell the stories. The way you used to curl your legs around my neck so you upside down, times I woke up in the morning with you nursing the other way. That one priceless time when I was typing up a Daycare recipe and you snuck a chair behind mine, leaned over, pulled up my shirt and latched. All good memories.
After I hung up the phone you said to me, “Momma, I want to be a baby again”. It broke my heart, because now I heard what you meant. I have heard you many times in the past year on how you want to go back to being a baby, and I just thought that you just ‘wanted to go back to being a baby’ to do baby things. I never knew you felt what I was feeling.
With me being so stressed out and drained from life experiences and trying to get me back. I have lost so much of what my goal is with being a mother. I am constantly tied with feeling that I should not be mad at a child I was lucky to have, to teaching this child the basics to becoming better than me in adulthood. I pass through life with so much thought on what not to do, that I forget that you are the only person that just wants me. That in of itself is taxing, but it’s what I signed up for.
I usually replied to your statement with, “Well, babies don’t do this or that”. But yesterday I guess I was on the ball a bit more. I heard that you want us back, just like I do. That you feel lost, and that you miss how we connected and even though I try so hard everyday to give you and teach you that where we were a year ago is not normal, I lost my humor and my affection. I’ve put my attention to all the things you might have seen and heard and trying to undo them, that stopped what I started when you were born. Lil Miss, I heard you last night. And I feel the same way.
We both stared at the TIME cover and smiled as “Are you Mom enough?” glared at me on the side. I answered the question with, no I wasn’t. This time not out of guilt, but out of reality. I have not been Mom enough. By being Mom enough is not being the mom that everyone else thinks you should be, it’s about being enough Mom for your child. And I have not been.
I want you to know that I will always love your baby, toddler and preschooler days, but I will also love your school days too. They are not finished yet and sometimes I am grateful for it. I will reflect on our yesterdays, because back then I have all the answers now, today – not so much. I don’t want to do anything wrong emotionally to you, and I want to keep my promise to you. I will not intentionally make you feel the way I have felt growing up.
Just because I look back and sometimes I wish to rewind time. It’s not because today is a drag and I don’t want to continue, it’s because there are moments I should have lingered longer and I didn’t. Other times those moments also make me understand today and appreciate it more.
We continued to look at this cover, I think and feel the same as I always have. Nursing is the only way we could have bonded and maintained that bond for as long as we do. Nursing always makes us come back, whether it’s the act, memory, or looking at a picture and talking about it. We will always have that to remind us that its us in this world together, and I have your back. Nursing, even when we are not, will be our door to put down any hurt form the day and tie another rope around our hearts, just in case the last rope frayed a little bit.
I went into mothering remembering my first memory – of me and my cowgirl boots at 2. I don’t remember being happy, I just remember it. Nothing of the memory brings any feelings and the rest of my childhood, brings a lot of anxiety and rage. I wanted to give you something more. I knew in the NICU, nursing was the ONLY way to hold you, so it become important to me. When you arrived home nursing became the only thing that would make you stop crying, which became important to me. As you entered toddlerhood, it was a time where we would learn things together, new words or just be – together, so it became important to me. As you entered preschool it became the only time that you stop your fits, and that became important to me.
And now, you’re going to school. You are five. You can tell me stories of different times we nursed and where. You remember us sitting together on a park bench, counting the birds that flew by. You would see babies being nursed at the mall and smile. You will happily tell the nursing mom that you are nursed and you remember. You remembering being nursed, has always been important to me. You will be more “Mom Enough” than I would because you will remember nursing as you are nursing your own. The cycle will be fully complete than. The way that nature intended. And you will come to days and moments where you want to pull out your hair, then see something on a cover to ask you if you are “Mom enough” and you will get mad, because silently you will answer no.
But except for being alone, like me, you will have me to tell you that only you can define what is enough. You just have to be that, and if it’s guilt you feel, find out why and change what you can. What you can’t change in your life, support someone else who comes after you. Most importantly, always raise your children to be better than you ever were. Because that is the only feeling of ‘enough’ we will ever have.
And never forget, you are the best at everything you do, because only you can do it the way you do. Underneath all my worries and deep dark fears, I hope you will see I had and will always have the best of intentions.
*** This may be a trigger to those who have been through sexual abuse ***
There are so many things that you learn you are not ready for when you become a parent. You question yourself while you are pregnant, how will you be? Will you be able to care for this child and will you be an asset to this new life? Then again, once you have your child in your arms. There were so many things that I was sure I achieved greatness along my journey with enough knowledge that I am still far from being the perfect parent. Until early this morning, when I felt like nothing more than what is underneath a shoe.
At 2am, I was ready to lay in our bed. I was just finishing up with some reading, my eyes were heavy when I heard K2 cries. She has not cried like that in about a year. I thought maybe I was hearing another child, so I listened for a few seconds. Then I heard “MOMMY!”, I hardly made it out of my chair and I was in full sprint down the hall. Even at almost 4, she only cries as long as it takes me to get to her.
She is sitting in her bed in tears, whimpering, when she sees me she lets it all out. I ask her what is wrong and that is when the words a mother never wants to hear comes out, “I can’t tell you, because I will get into trouble”. My heart stops, never in my life would I think my child would be saying the same words I told my mother so long ago. I was in shock, for the first time, nothing came to my mind, no logic, no rope, no hope. I was sick, my stomach was tight, and I can’t breathe.
I held her, I asked her questions, like “What do you mean, you will get into trouble?”, “Mommy wants to help, can you tell me what is wrong?”, “Who told you, you can’t tell Mommy?”. All she returned with was, “I don’t know”. I was bordering on hysteria. I noticed my eyes were watering, I needed to settle myself to be able to be good for her. I did not want to scare her, I want her to know she can talk to me about anything and at any time. I asked her if she wanted a freezie and I allowed her watch some TV, while I quietly went on the balcony.
As controlled I could ever be, I called DH (who was out with a friend playing darts). I asked him if he’s ever left K2 with anyone alone while he went out with her. Of course he said he never did, so I told him what happened. He shrugged it off as a bad dream, and for a quick moment I thought so too. I was able to take in some air, but deep inside there was dread. DH does not understand the fuss or the bother. In some ways I am grateful, because he does not have the deep fears that I do.
I turned to look at K2 on the bean bag chair watching TV. My heart was a lump in my throat. I still was not calm enough to talk to her without tearing up, or suggesting this conversation we would have is wrong. Who on the small list of people have I wrongfully mistrusted? Then I felt guilt for even thinking that. Was it wrong to think that? Was I taking things way too far? I thought I worked through my past abuses enough to deal with this the proper way. With every minute I waited to settle, was that every minute I was failing her?
I called a friend to see about how to go around speaking to her about this. If she would take things the same way. She was not touched by a dirty hand, so if she took it the same way as I did, then would that make me normal? We talked about what happened, and I allowed myself to quietly get upset. I spoke about what happened in my past, and why I fear of doing things wrong. I don’t want to make the matter worse, but it’s K2’s answer of “I don’t know” to questions previously asked that bothers me.
After calming down, I came in from the cold, K2 asked to nurse. I thought this would be the time where I would have her attention, and the one place she would feel my comforting arms. I turned off the television, and I told her that Mommy has something very important to say. As I sat on our chair with her on my lap, I asked her if she remembered what she said when she woke up. She nodded with a look of awaiting trouble. As calmly as I could, I spoke to her that she would not get into trouble and I will not be mad. That it’s important to tell me what she meant by “I can’t tell you, because I will get into trouble”.
She told me she had a dream that a boy I look after pushed her, and she got really hurt. She told me because it did not happen, dreams are not real, that telling me would be a lie. Telling lies gets you into trouble. As relieved I was with her words, it was her body language that allowed me to believe this was what happened. I had to explain that talking about dreams are ok and is not lying, and that I was happy that she understands the difference between what dreams are and what real-life is. As I hugged her tight and kissed her forehead, I thought maybe I jumped in deep with conclusions. I kicked myself, and asked will I ever be a normal mother?
I took this opportunely to explain good touches, bad touches, good secrets and bad. I was impressed how quickly she received the information, but still felt like I had failed her some way. I know she felt my over reaction, I know she felt my dread.
I was up very early and I could not sleep, going over ever aspect of ‘last night’. I still tear up thinking about it. Yes, I believed her, when people did not believe me. Yes, I took it seriously, but did I handle it the way I should have? Did I put fear into her where none should be? Did I cross the line? It’s hard to teach these things when you come from the position of being touched. You know what the dirties do, you see what they want and will freely take. You know what they say, and how they think. Trying to put clear and concise information together to an almost 4-year old is not a simple task.
Do you tell them only Mommies and Daddies can wipe their bums, yet what do you tell them when you have to leave them with a Provider? Do you tell them that no one sees them naked, leaving room for them to believe their bodies are bad? How do you tell them that not every hug is good and not ever touch is bad? Do they know about what is comfortable or is that something that is taught? Sometimes being ‘touched’ can have it’s silver lining, you know things others do not. Most times being ‘touched’ leaves you enable to handle things well, and second guessing every action you take. I hope with all my heart our daughter never understands my feelings.
Being a childcare provider, allows me to talk openly with other parents, to give and receive suggestions in parenting. As we all know, parenting is an art not a science. There is always a wrong way of doing things, but never a perfect way. There are also times when your parenting style clashes with another parent’s. I try to stay open-minded, with short implications that some things can be adapted during my care, however there are things I just simply will not do. One of these things would be not allowing a boy to play with dolls.
I can appreciate fears of boys partaking in doll playing. I can understand the concerns, however I can not, not state my disagreement. Playing with dolls will not make a boy more feminine, it will not change your son’s sexual preferences later in life. In fact, doll playing helps with so many important things, that is easily overlooked. Like introduction to dressing, being kind & gentle, and creative-role play.
Allowing your son to play with dolls can help with the concept of dressing, as it provides a different view-point that can make it easier to understand. Most of the Velcro in doll clothing is easier than other child’s dressing items, and the openings of these clothing are usually larger than in T-shirts and sweaters. The snaps are also larger to help little finger grasp and best of all no tying!
Introducing a new addition to the family, can be made a bit easier with doll playing, by showing him how to hold a baby and how to touch gently. Doll playing can reinforce gentle actions and empathy with the new baby to come. When the baby is brought home, you can have your older child diaper their baby while you diaper the ‘real’ one. You can also buy special fabric for your son to carry his baby, if you are a baby wearing parent. Dolls can also aid with reenacting the roles they have in their family.
There are also different types of dolls that use creative-role playing, some are potty training dolls, some are newborn dolls, others give the idea the child can be anything when they grow up, as long as they put their mind too it. Dolls help with providing a world where real-life and make-believe are joined, yet the child has the control to make up the ending. Doll playing also helps with balancing out the active, destructive toys, most boy toys provide, and changes the creative play feel.
Unfortunately as adults, we forget the power of play in general. No matter if it’s playing with action, ‘masculine’ toys or ‘feminine’ dollies, play is the basic need in teaching a child and having a child learn what is being taught. Any type of play is an asset to children, and every child should have many toy-outlets to use to move on to the next learning curve. In my house, play is important, I believe its first step to other things. Just like you can’t run without learning how to sit first. Without one step you can’t fully learn the next one without being stunted. Taking out doll playing takes more away from the child’s learning than what you are afraid is being added. So please parents I beg you, let your son play with dolls.
Often times things are sent to you, when you need them the most. Today was a day where I would read the greatest words I have ever read during my mothering years. I have tried to search for the author which lead to mostly Unknowns. However, I did find this at Amazon. I will eventually buy this small book. Sit back and enjoy, take in every word, share it to those you feel needs to read these words.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”
Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel”. I’m a car to order, “Right around 5:30, please.”
Some days I’m a crystal ball; “Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?”
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
1.) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names.
2.) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
3.) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4.) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it.” And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.”
No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no hockey/soccer/piano/Scout/school meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My Mom gets up at four in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, “You’re gonna love it there!”
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.
I would like to share with you my reply to a question/comment on Mamapedia. I feel that it’s important for every mother to chime in to give this mom gentle, positive encouragement. So if you have time please give this mom some love and share your stories of nursing past infancy. Along with your feelings and thought processes when you got the idea of why it’s done.
“First, I’ll say that this is just my personal opinion and situation, and not meant to offend anyone.
Personally, I’ve always thought nursing a toddler (or older) was fairly disgusting and potentially abusive. I don’t mean a baby toddler…I mean a two, three year old or older who can walk and talk and drink from a cup and eat with a fork.
However, approaching nine months of exclusive nursing and I am beginning to wonder if I am not starting to understand why they do it…is it really going to be as hard to let go of as I think it is? Every time my daughter stands up on my lap and yanks out the neck of my shirt and looks down it, then looks up at me and smiles like “okay, I’m ready!” I think I will never be able to give it up, unless SHE wants to give it up!
What do you think?”
Hugs to you fellow Mama,
I have to say I was right in your place a few years ago. Before, I thought it was weird, nursing was only for babies. I could not, would not understand why my cousin nursed to 2. She would say the doctor says it’s ok. I was apart of the crowd that I wish I never was.
I went through the same feelings as you. Although, I never thought nursing was disgusting, I just never thought it was quite right past, whatever I thought babyhood was gone. As my DD reached 6 months, then 9, then she had her first birthday. I thought I was not ready, and she surely felt the same. I looked at her and knew that our nursing was nothing wrong. It’s actually something I wanted, almost needed her to remember.
That is when it was final, I was nursing until she was through. That is when everything changed. I was proud when she told me nursing stories, even in public and around other people (who might not like the idea). I became more vocal about breastfeeding and our love for it. I became empowered by growing my own child and wanted everyone else to experience that same joy. I could not wait for her to give nursing a nick name, and I smiled while nursing in public. Nothing and no one will tell me different.
DD is going on 4 in April. She still nurses. She is slowly weaning and boy is she the most independent child I know. She is funny and smart, she will spot out other nursing mothers and children and say how lucky they are. She appreciates it just as much as I do. She makes funny stories, and she asks me to nurse different things. Just yesterday, I nursed a river rock, because it was sad and “Mommies makes things better”. Through nursing, I taught her something that I never thought was my goal. She turns to people for comfort and not things. It’s taught her what breasts are really for. I have no doubt in my soul that, from her nursing into childhood, she will not have as much body issues as I did growing up.
Please don’t take this as an attack to anyone who formula feeds. I can only tell you my experience and what I think about it. I now encourage all mothers to breastfeed for as long as it’s mutually needed/wanted. If a mother has doubts about weaning, I tell her she is not ready and I share our story. To me, age is just a number and no matter how old your child is, they will still be the precious soul you had no clue why they let you be alone with to care for. They will still melt your heart, they will allow you to cry happy tears and amaze you with their thoughts. They will always be your child, your baby. Enjoy this, try to put societies issues aside. Once you do, you will be free to mother the way you feel is right.
PS: I would like to share with you a link to beautiful stories of Nursing Past Infancy. http://codenamemama.com/?s=nursing+past+infancy Our story is #15.