Thursday, April 14, 2011

Second Time Around

I'm realizing just how different the second time is when mothering.  My four months with Otis have been so different than Ingrid's first four months!  As I sit here typing this, Otis is asleep in the Moby, as he would not be put down this morning.  Instead of worrying that he "needs" to learn how to sleep laying down in a bed, I just popped him in and walked around to get him to sleep.  And I'm enjoying listening to his little breaths and feeling his warmth up against me!

With Ingrid I felt rigid.  Instead of going with the flow, I worried every time there was a change.  I had to be home for naptime, I had to feed her at the same time, I read books that told me I had to start solids at a certain time, I had to have a bedtime routine, I had to let her learn how to soothe herself.  I felt like it was this monumental job that I couldn't screw up on, or else there would be major repercussions throughout Ingrid's whole life.  If I did something wrong once it was going to turn into a habit that could not be broken. 

Ahhhh, how glad I am I'm not that way with Otis!  I don't know if it's knowledge or necessity or a bit of both, but I just glide through our days without even thinking about things like that!  He sleeps when he sleeps, he eats when he eats, if he's not happy I put him in a carrier and then he is happy.  It just hit me that he's four months old in a couple days and I hadn't even thought about what milestones he "should" be reaching.  Cooing, smiling, reaching for toys, grasping things, finding his toes, holding his head up, sitting, whatever he's supposed to be doing, I don't care!  He does what he does.  He'll do more as time goes on. 

I wish I could go visit myself three years ago and tell myself to relax, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture.  Now I see how fast the days and months go and I'm enjoying every second of Otis growing, instead of thinking of the next thing he should be doing or saying I can't wait until he's older and can walk/talk/sleep etc.  He'll do all those things.  In the meantime I'm going to laugh every time I hear his first giggles and stare at him while he sleeps next to me and wear him before he starts squirming. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hold On a Second...

That phrase comes out of my mouth about seventeen thousand times a day.  Seriously, hold on Ingrid, I'm feeding your brother.  Hold on, Otis, I'm just putting this laundry away.  Hold on, whoever is calling me, I'm making dinner.  Hold on, hold on, hold on.  I have been feeling so pulled in a million directions lately, it's driving me nuts!!

I used to pride myself on being able to multitask.  I think that was at a time when, if I got the things on my list done, I got to go home.  Now, though, the list just keeps on going.  If I finish ten things, there are just going to be ten more things to do after that.  So I'm not as motivated to do things, maybe.  Whatever the case, I have been seriously behind on lots of things, trying to focus is hard, and I'm always telling Ingrid to hold on. 

I'm just starting to realize how different her life is from just a few months ago.  I know every kid goes through this and every mom goes through feeling guilty, but it just hit me how hard this must be for her to have a new sibling, move, have a crabby mom all the time.  She keeps saying things like "I need you to take care of me, I want you to play with me, I need you."  And I always say "Hold on, I have to do..." insert mundane task here.  It's never important either!  I am just always pushing her away, telling her to wait. 

The past few days I have tried really hard not to make her wait.  I drop what I'm doing and just hold her.  Yesterday we cuddled on the couch while Otis napped and I made up dumb stories about sparkly unicorns.  She looked up at me and said "I love you so much, mom."  Oh dear.  I have to make more time for her.  I have to!  The floor will still be dirty in twenty minutes, the laundry will still be there to fold after we play or cuddle or just read books.  Perspective, Amber!  Remember all those nights where I didn't want to rock her to sleep because I was tired?  And I said she's only going to be this age once?  Well the same thing applies here and I have forgotten that.  She will only be almost-three once, and I have to enjoy these cuddly moments so I can look back upon them fondly when she's rolling her eyes at me every ten seconds in ten years. 

So you guys will have to hold on while I go play with my daughter.  Hold on, I'll be right there. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gender Roles

We had an interesting experience this weekend.  I was getting ready for Brendan's work party and decided to paint my toenails--something I never do!  I asked Ingrid if she wanted hers done too, and she giggled and said yes and then sat stone still while I painted them.  It was funny, she kept staring at her toes, "look how pretty!" 

Then Brendan came into the room and said oh, is it my turn?  Ingrid looked at him and said "No, Daddy, that would be silly!"  He tried to get her to expand but she never did. 

Which got us wondering about nature vs. nurture.  How did she come to the conclusion that nail polish is okay for girls but not boys?  Like I said, we never use the stuff, it was the first time I think I've ever painted my nails around Ingrid.  It's not like I said anything about only girls can use it.  To my knowledge, no one else has been telling her that.  So how did she figure that one out??

This has me wondering about the whole gender role thing and what she thinks about it.  We aren't big believers of seperating things--Ingrid loves her big fire truck, but she also loves her fairy wings.  She loves her little guys, but also loves to play kitchen.  Brendan is the bread winner and goes to work every day, but Mama is the one to use the tools and builds a dresser. 

I've been told that raising a boy will be different than raising a girl, and to some extent I believe it.  I know I've heard countless times that both genders will take the same toy and play with it in completely different ways.  Like girls have conversations with their toys and have a set idea of what is going on and boys will just go nuts with the toy, bouncing off the walls and being crazy.  I have seen that for sure, but then I wonder how much is personality.  Ingrid and her cousin are so much alike and he's a boy.  They've both got the same high maintenence issues, which my brother and his wife thought was because he was a boy and his sister was so mellow.  But we have a hyper girl and a laid back boy. And they had another boy that's laid back.  So...???

Anyway, it's got me thinking of how much can we teach our kids, how much will they just pick up on their own, and how much is nature?