Fractured Mommy Tales

x-ray

Whenever I make a parenting blunder, two of my colleagues try to make me feel better by sharing tales of their parenting mishaps.  They said they had an ironic Mom of the Year competition and welcomed me into this club.  Previously, I didn’t feel like I truly earned this title because my missteps seemed small, but that changed recently when we found ourselves headed to the hospital and it was my fault.

We were rushing out the door to school/work and I accidentally slammed N’s fingers in the car door.  With my mommy hat on, I swept him up and showered him with kisses, hugs, and apologies.  With my doctor hat on, I assessed the damage and decided that he needed an x-ray.  As we drove to the hospital, he put his ice pack on his fingers and repeated “my boo-boo,” making my heart break even more.  Yes, mommy gave you a boo-boo.  Mom of the Year, I thought.

Luckily, nothing was broken and we left the hospital with 2 stickers and a smiling toddler.  I, however, had fractured my mommy confidence.  It helped that when I arrived at work, there were plenty of other mommies who shared similar stories and reassured me that even good moms make mistakes.  When I picked up N at the end of the day, he seemed completely recovered and I breathed a sigh of relief.  He stroked my hair and said, “my mommy,” and I knew that whether Mom of the Year or not, I was N’s mom and he loved imperfect me.

Teaching

During a routine 4-month-old well child exam, I placed the baby on his stomach and he quickly rolled himself to his back.  “Oh, I didn’t know he could do that,” his mom said with embarrassment.  Moments earlier I had asked about his developmental milestones and she had denied that he could roll over.  “The nanny mentioned that he could roll, but I didn’t believe her because I hadn’t seen it myself,” she admitted, realizing how silly it sounded out loud.  She continued to explain: “By the time I get home from work, there aren’t many waking hours to spend with him, so sometimes I feel out of touch.”  This last comment hit close to home.  When I went back to work, my husband was home with my son and for months whenever we went to the pediatrician, I had him give the history about what our son ate, how much he slept, and what skills he had mastered.  My time with him usually entailed breastfeeding and sleeping.  Those first few months of infancy felt like bonding time was rare and I was simply a milk station, while my husband got to experience it all.

Now that my son is older and awake more when I get home from work, we have more time to play, however it is still only about two hours a day during the week.  This is nothing in comparison to the amount of time he spends with his teachers—approximately thirty-two hours a week.  There are many words, skills, and songs that surprise me coming from N and I know he must have learned them at school.  While I do wish we had more time together, I am grateful that he has such great teachers from whom to learn.

I recently ran into one of my great teachers.  I first met Ms. S in middle school, when like most thirteen-year-old girls I was dealing with a lot of emotions.  She taught me things about myself that my parents probably never could have simply because they were my parents and I was a teenager.  While many of my classmates likely remember her only as our English teacher, she helped shape the person I am today.  It is remarkable that you never know what impact a particular person will have on your life.  When I saw her after all these years I was so overcome with emotions that I was crying and thanked her for teaching me to be…. I couldn’t think of the word and she finished my sentence with “…an empowered woman.”  It takes one to know one, I thought.

So as I saw this mom with the rolling 4-month-old son, I gave her a sympathetic nod.  Her son may not always be under her nose and she may not always know all of his accomplishments the moment that they happen.  He will grow and thrive without her.  This hurts our mommy core.  Her son is learning and developing in the care of his nanny, the first of many teachers in his life.  She is helping him grow into the boy he will become.  These teachers do not replace, but rather supplement, the things your parents teach you and provide a valuable, new perspective.  My reunion with Ms. S reminded me that a great teacher can make a substantial impact and can continue to inspire you decades after you leave the classroom.

 

**Details about this patient and family have been changed in order to protect their identity.

Horizon

Just Eat It

I am not the kind of mom who makes homemade baby food.  I like to imagine that I am and I have the Beaba baby cooker in my cabinet to prove it, but the reality is that it is just not me.  There are plenty of mommy bloggers out there who are amazing at this, so if you are looking for a recipe, go visit them.

Even though I wasn’t making homemade gourmet baby food, my son still ate healthy foods and some of his favorites were avocado, broccoli, and watermelon.  He had a great appetite.  I judged all of the other moms who used sweets to bribe their children and thought that I had it all figured out.  Then, things suddenly changed and mealtimes became a struggle with utensils flying, broccoli spitting, and tears pouring and so I started to understand the need for bribery.

Avocado-and-eggs

It is infuriating and frustrating though to see good food wasted and watch your child on a hunger strike.  As I’ve mentioned before, breastfeeding my son felt like one of my largest contributions to his early months when I was at work and that feeling of nurturing through food continues now.  When I have worked all day, I want dinner time to be a positive experience together and not a battleground.  Scraping our home-cooked food off the floor on my hands and knees is not how I want to spend my evenings either.

Yogurt

 

There are moments of victory, when for no apparent reason he devours a meal and I remember the advice I have given many parents in my office, that when he’s hungry enough he will eat.  I try to remember to keep offering healthy options knowing he will eventually eat some of it and wanting to maximize the benefits he gets from his food when I can.  My own satisfaction with our dinner is often tied to how much of it he eats.  Then, there are other times when I let go of all my practical pediatrics knowledge and give him a giant piece of Challah French toast, because after all, mommy wants to eat it too!

French-toast

What a doll!

Cabbage-Patch

This is Carly.  She’s my son’s Cabbage Patch Kid doll.  She was adopted from the patch in the mid-1980’s and after years of playing together, I saved her for my children.  She spent many years in a closet waiting for these children to rescue her, but as one can see from her custom outfit including a hand-knit vest, she has been well-loved for nearly thirty years.

Someone recently asked me if I gave N “girl toys” and while my husband thought of many examples (including a kitchen set), I struggled.  Carly isn’t just a doll, she’s Carly.  She isn’t for girls or boys, she’s for children who are learning to love.

N empties out his toy box, climbs in with Carly, and closes the lid.  I peek through the opening in the lid and see him hugging her with a giant smile on his face.  He strokes her hair in the gentle manner that we taught him to use with babies and pets.  He rocks her and soothes her in the style that we have used with him.  He holds her up to me and says, “baby, mommy.”  When he and Carly rolled off of his chair and bumped their heads on the floor, he immediately stopped crying when I suggested that Carly needed her boo-boo kissed and he began to care for her.

Seeing N with Carly makes me feel like we taught him well about nurturing and love and I enjoy watching him practice it.  While he already shows us his ability to love, his demonstration with Carly reminds me that someday he will share that love with his own family, as I am mine.  Maybe Carly will be there to see it again.

Tuesdays with Mommy: Art Stars

I’ve been afraid to open the finger paints for a while.  Eating yogurt is a contact sport at our house, so I could only imagine what damage would ensue with paint.  I allowed N to get his art fix at his school for a while, but my creative side was eager to participate.  So I moved past my fear of messy hands, draped the playroom in plastic and towels, and let the little artist go!

Finger-painting

Although it didn’t last long, we had fun and it was a great start to our creative adventures.  This Tuesday we are working on a Valentine’s Day project that I found on Pinterest.   In reality, he’s 23-months-old, so mommy is doing more of the project, but he will get to share it with his classmates on Valentine’s Day.  Check out my “Be Mine” board for your own Valentine’s inspiration.

Valentines-Day-project

We also had our first foray with markers recently.  N enjoyed choosing his own colors and he usually gets their names right.  Any color he forgets the name of is “green!” and he says it with enough confidence and pizzazz that I almost doubt myself.  I knew he was particularly proud of one piece when he hugged the paper, smearing marker across his cheek.  When we were all done, he put the markers in the box and said “buh-bye, Yellow,” to his favorite color.  Excited about all of our upcoming art projects, to yellow I say, “see you soon.”

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