Friday, 8 January 2016

Why Do We Apologize For Our Parenting?

Oh man, I know it's been a while guys. Sorry. I have many excuses, but I'll spare you from them and just get into what has been on my heart lately!

The other night my best friend came over with her son who is close in age with Elliott. I had changed into pj pants about an hour before she came over (as I do every evening after my work day is over) because really, if you can't wear your ok pants around your bestie, who can you wear them around?? I had just I finished cleaning up the bathroom and was about to clean our mirrored closet doors (and yes, they are impossible to keep clean with a toddler and I'm not sure why I even try) As I was getting these things done I had turned on the tv for Elliott. She walked in and the first words out of my mouth were to explain that the tv was only on so I could keep Elliott distracted while I cleaned a few things up.

I haven't seen the woman for 2 months and instead of giving her a giant hug or greeting her warmly, I made an excuse for my parenting. In my own home. I'm comfortable enough for her to walk in to see me cleaning up my home in my pj pants, but not to see my kid watch Paw Patrol? What the heck? 

I'm a little sick of reading about parenting. Even more sick of talking about it. All I hear (whether I agree or not) is "You're doing it wrong. You should do it this way."

I think a big part of the problem is the insecurity I feel about my parenting, but it's a catch 22, because I don't think I would feel nearly as insecure if I wasn't being bombarded with everyone else's opinion of "the right way."

I have a theory that our parents and our parents parents weren't nearly as concerned with doing it "right" and they certainly didn't care if they did it like everyone else. (They also had no idea what everyone else was doing because there was no internet!) 

When Elliott was really little and not yet crawling I spent so much of my day on the floor with him, playing, reading, talking to him. One day I was at my grandma's house and as I sat on her living room floor she made a comment to my mom about how they never did that- sat down on the floor with their kids. My mom's response was "of course you didn't! You were too busy on the farm" It really stuck with me. Sometimes I wonder if we're all a little too obsessed with parenting because we have too much time on our hands. That's probably a whole blog post in itself (and dangerously close to turning this into a post about parenting) so I'll leave that one alone.

All I'm saying is that becoming a parent has humbled me quite a bit. I think that might be why I've been posting less - I have thoughts that I want to share but then I stop and think about how it might make someone feel insecure about their own choices and stop myself. We're all struggling in this parenting journey, and we don't need another person claiming they know how to do it right.

Oh, and just to be really real with you guys- Elliott watches TV everyday. Yup. The dreaded screen time before the age of 25. *gasp*

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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Parenting Adventure: Time Out Edition

Parenting is pretty hard. I know, I know, "this too shall pass" and "it's only a stage" and all that, but in the meantime, can we all just agree that the right here and now isn't all that easy?

Elliott is 20 months old and just last week we started time outs. Guys, he isn't even 2. 

He gets it though- oh boy does he ever understand. Here is a typical time out interaction....

Let's say he pushed one of the Dayhome kids....

"Elliott! No pushing. You get a time out for pushing"
I put him on one of the booster chairs, strap him in and push the chair into the corner facing the wall. 

*whining, crying and saying "all done" commences*

1-2 minutes later I go, kneel down in front of him and say 
"Why did you get a time out?"
"Meeeem ooouuut"
"Yes, time out. Why did you get a timeout?"
*avoids eye contact* 
"Elliott, why did you get a time out?"
"Mommy!" *Grabs my face and kisses me on the lips*
"Look at my eyes. Why did you get a time out?"
"Meeeeem ooooouuut"
"Why did you get a time out?"
"Ya ya!!"
"Yes, Olivia. What did you do?"
"That's right. You cannot push."
"Pushing is not being gentle. Pushing hurts"
"You cannot push. Do you understand?"
*nods head emphatically*
"Ok, you go say sorry please"
"Mommy!!" *Hands around my neck and big kiss on the lips as I unstrap him and get him down from his chair*

He then runs up to the "victim" and pats the on the head and says "Sowwy! Sowwy!"

He is lucky he's so dang cute.

But seriously, I think time outs have drastically improved his behaviour. He pushes and hits so much less. I often still feel like a full time referee, but I feel less overwhelmed and exasperated. 

I try to remind myself that he is who he is and his personality and behaviour will grow and change as he grows and develops his relationship with the Lord. I don't want to ever wish he was different, but instead just do my part in guiding him in healthy outlets for his personality. He is such a confident, energy filled little boy, which is what I always prayed for. I know his confidence will serve him well later in life. His pushing and hitting has never been mean spirited, but almost always because he plays too rough and is just a little ball of energy! Of course he's a toddler and fights over toys like the rest of them, but 80% of the time he is just trying to play or give hugs that turn into tackles. He just loves so much! It sounds silly (or backwards), but I really do believe that he'll be such a caring empathetic little boy once he learns not to hit and push.

Oh, and for those who may be wondering, he hasn't bitten anyone since "the incident" over a month ago. Thank the Lord that whole thing wasn't without good fruit!

So anyways, parenting sucks. Being the bad guy sucks. I hate giving time outs so young, but I do it because it works and because I'm seeing a change in behaviour. That, in itself is worth celebrating!

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Friday, 20 November 2015

Sweet Little Toddler Prayers

I think I've written about this before, but I desire for prayer to be an integral part of Elliott's life. I pray out loud with him as often as I can so that he can see our prayers at work. 

A few weeks ago I started praying with him in the mornings as I nurse him - I love this sweet time with him as we lazily start our day and wake up together. I ask him if he wants to pray and he says "mmhmm" with a little smile. So then I'll start small

"Dear Jesus, We thank you for Daddy. We pray that he has a really good day! Aaaaamen!" 

Since very early on he has always hit the table when we say Amen at the dinner table. It's very cute. When we pray anywhere else he hits his chest with his hand. Even cuter.

So he hits his hand on his chest. Now here's the best part. Next he makes the sign language sign for "More." Oh be still my heart! The first time he did it I cried. 

So I ask "Do you want to pray more?" 


This goes on and on as we pray for multiple things and multiple people. I think it's the best part of my day with him. 

Sometimes when he is really whiney I will ask him if he wants to pray. Today we had the sweetest little interaction. I started out thanking Jesus for all our family "Thank you for Grandma and Grandpa, and thank you for Auntie Gloria and Uncle Steve. Thank you for Auntie Nicole and Uncle James, and for Uncle Daniel. And who else should we thank Jesus for?"

"Nonah!!!" He exclaimed. 

(Nonah is what he calls his favourite cousin Jonah.)

I don't know why I am always so surprised at his level of comprehension, but this one struck me with more than just surprise. So much joy and love fills my heart!! I feel so encouraged that even at this young age Elliott is already engaging in a relationship with Jesus. My prayer for him is that prayer will always be front and center in his life and that he will see the fruit of it continuously. 

Happy Friday everyone!

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Friday, 6 November 2015

I Bit My Kid Today

I don't think anyone expects to one day bite their own child. I certainly didn't. There are some strong opinions when it comes to dealing with a toddler who bites in this way and I'll just start by thanking you for keeping them to yourself.

Elliott is a handful and a half. I spend approximately 98% of my day pulling him off the Dayhome kids. You might think I am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not. The pushing, tackling and hitting is enough to deal with, so when it looked like the new game was biting all I could think was NUH UH. 

The kid is just so full of love, I swear. Rarely are any of his antics out of anger, but instead out of playfulness. He just happens to love to play very very rough. His hugs are robust and his kisses usually include face pinches. He just loves so much!! Obviously, a child his size (or even a little bigger) can't quite handle the love. Or appreciate it. Like, at all. 

He had bit me while in full tackle mode a handful of times, but seemed to understand my firm "no biting!" Well, when he bit one of the kids last week  (after a loooong week of me playing referee to him all day long) I had pretty much had it. I was done. 

Why on earth would we bite our child to show them they can't bite? How on earth could it be effective to show them that it isn't an acceptable way to show your frustration when that is exactly what we are modeling? How confusing is it to hurt your child and them to understand that we love them and they are safe with us?

I've had all those thoughts and continue to, but still, when he bit me today, I bit him back. I would much rather it be me, someone who can control how hard I bite, then it be retaliation from another child that would hurt way more and possibly draw blood.

I'm still not sure it was right. Parenting is dang hard. You can have all the ideas of what is right and wrong in your head, and then you go and bite your own kid.

TGIF guys, TGIF.

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Monday's Be Crazy

Most days my day ends at 4:30. It's pretty awesome that all I have to do is walk up the stairs to go "home," but on Mondays it still feels like I don't have enough time for anything. Chris has a night class at 5:30 and has to leave by 5, and then I leave at 6:40 for a course I'm taking at our church. (Thankfully I have a wonderful mother in law who come to watch Elliott and put him to bed because Chris doesn't get home until 8:45) Chris and I still want to eat dinner together, but that can feel like a lofty goal most weeks, especially when you factor in the toddler. 

Yesterday was shaping up to be just like every other Monday. I did have a plan for dinner, but getting it cooked and on the table in time for Chris to eat with us before he left didn't sound like it was going to happen. I suggested to him that he may want to just fend for himself before I was even done work. 

And then.... my afternoon wasn't going so well. Elliott was being a complete nut trying to take all the kids toys and pushing them around (yes the kids, not the toys) They say as a Dayhome provider your own kid is always the worst, and that is certainly true for us most days.

I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I've done this, but I was at my wits end and sent Elliott upstairs to hang out with Chris around 4 o'clock. I felt bad because I knew it would make it hard for him to figure out his dinner with a cranky toddler at his feet, but I had no choice. I was pulling out my hair!

So here's what real teamwork looks like folks. I came upstairs at 4:30 to find dinner almost ready (salmon, rice and veggies) and we were able to sit down as a family to eat it all. I felt so blessed you guys, I could have cried. When Chris was almost done his dinner he mentioned he wanted to make a latte before he left so I hopped up and made it for him. I handed it to him with a granola bar as he was walking out the door, and all I could think was "man we rocked today!!" 

Full disclosure- most Monday's have been Chris running out to get Papa John's ($6 pizza on Monday's is hard to say no to) and us scarfing down a couple pieces together as he walks out the door with Pepto in hand *just in case* the greasy pizza doesn't sit well. I think I deserve to celebrate this victory ;)

Anyways, that's just what life looks like for us these days. 

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Thirty and Flirty and Thriving

*ten points for the first person to name the title reference*

I know it's been a while, but I knew that when I returned I wanted to really return to making regular posts, and that was something I just wasn't ready for yet. Well, I decided what better time to rekindle my little corner of the Internet, that the milestone of turning 30!

To kick things off, let's start with a fun little post about the things I have learned in the past 30 years. Well, the noteworthy things. Well... the noteworthy things that I can think of off the top of my head.

In no particular order...

1. Do not take pride in personality strengths, because a different season of life may sweep you off your feet and you may find yourself showing flaws where strengths once were, and no one is harder on you than yourself. Pride = High Expectations = Possible Dissappointment 

2. If you think something is a big deal, don't act all nonchalant about it and then get angry when no one is treating it like a big deal. Again, expectations...

3. Always get AppleCare and always have a screen protector. 

4. Kids are like goldfish. They will grow as much as we give them space for. 

5. More importantly on parenting- no one, I repeat NO ONE is doing it completely right. There's no such thing. 

6. If you let yourself have fake arguments in your head with another person for long enough you will start to believe that they really feel the way you think and you really are as right as you always are when you inevitably win the argument (because you never lose arguments in your head)

7. Nothing is a substitution for prayer. Absolutely nothing. 

8. It's one thing to say you want to only surround yourself with likeminded individuals, or only want positive happy people on your Facebook newsfeed, but it's also a slippery slope down the not-real-or-authentic-community hill. 

9. If there is one thing in this life that is worth investing in financially it is your mental health. Stuff breaks, trips can wait (and frankly so can debt) but your mental health and well being pours into your most important relationships, which is all that really matters in the end.

10. You get to a point where you stop making decisions solely based on your twenty-something self and start thinking more about your fifty-something self, and how you can best serve that old geezer.

11. Speaking of your twenty-something self... Pssst, you should probably start saving for your retirement now.

12. There can be a lot of grey areas in life, but if you stick to black and white things tend to go a lot easier for you. 

That's all I've got for now folks. Maybe I'll have a second installment, or maybe I won't. I will however have a new post every week. Quiet time just got more productive!

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Gratefulness. Simple, yet not always easy.

In my last blog (which yes, I know was a loooong time ago!) I talked about the beauty of normal and an appreciation for moments. How the routine of each day can feel like a welcome rhythm rather than a monotonous cycle. What I didn't talk about was how I got to this place of contentment and satisfaction.

Gratefulness. Simple, yet not always easy. 

Sometimes my days can seem crazy. Between the "Elliott pushed me!" and the "She said it's red but it's PINK!!" I can feel exhausted before we even get to the park at 9 am! It's easy to make a decision about my day before it has barely begun. 

Oh boy, it's going to be a long day

I see they're going to be in that kind of mood.

How long until naptime??

And then when my day is done and Chris is home it's all too easy to give him the "highlights" of the day rather than the bigger picture. It got to a point where all he heard about were the fights and the time outs.

The poor guy probably thought I hated running a dayhome, which couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, there are a lot of "teaching moments" (that sounds better, doesn't it?) but I love what I do. I get paid to play, snuggle, kiss boo boos and tickle. I make sand castles and drink coffee at the park everyday, and I get a glorious hour of quiet time each day (which is often interrupted by at least one "Melissa, I'm doooooone!!" from the washroom, but hey, I can't have it all can I?)

One day a few weeks back I was having a particularly challenging morning. The kids had just left the breakfast table and I was already having to step in to prevent a conflict. Warnings were given and kids were sent to opposite sides of the room and I returned to the dishes I was doing. I closed my eyes pleaded for Jesus to help me. It was 7:40 and I wasn't ready to write off my day just yet. I stopped and I took a sip of coffee and as I finished Elliott's toast (a secret indulgence of mine is to pile on a bit more jam. Butter and strawberry jam is just so tasty) and time slowed down just for a moment. I've trained my spirit to recognize these slowed down kairos moments. I stopped and realized that in that moment all was quiet. Everyone was playing nicely. I had hot coffee and a bite left of toast to savour. I closed my eyes again and this time gave thanks for the moment. I accepted it for what it was- not wishing it would stay quiet all day or that anything would change, but just breathing in and appreciating it.

Thank you Lord for a quiet moment.

The morning went on as we ventured to the park and back and had a snack. Soon it was lunch and I remembered I had picked up a salad from the grocery store as a treat for myself. I mixed it up to find it tasted ah-mazing. 

Thank you Lord for delicious salad. This time I scribbled it down on a piece of paper.

That particular day I experienced an entire hour with all the kids sleeping. I snuck upstairs with the baby monitors in hand and sat on my couch with the sun on my face and a piece of dark chocolate in my hand.

Thank you Lord for sunshine and chocolate.

My day was far from perfect that day. There were tears and time outs and sassy pants. What was different at the end of the day however was my heart. Chris came home and asked me how my day was and for the first time in a long time I told him it was a little crazy (as usual) but good. I recalled to mind some of the cute moments and shared those things instead of the tears.

It's been a month or so now, and I still have days where I forget to be grateful and I want to pull out my hair by 9 am, but the days I remember to stop in the slowed down moments are my favourite. It feels like Jesus is dropping me hints throughout my day; like he's reminding me of something. I'll let you know when I figure out exactly what it is.

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