Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TTT - Can I Get a Hand?

In this week's episode of Toddler Tips Tuesday, we're going to talk working mom tips.  This may seem obvious to everyone else, but in case it's not (and because I don't have the brain capacity to come up with some earth shattering tip at the moment) here is my tip for this Tuesday: ask for help when you need it.

June is historically my busy month at work.  This June is no different and due to some unavoidable circumstances my group is down a few key players right now, which makes this busy month even busier for me.  In a nutshell, I have more work than I can possibly keep up with.  But I'm doing the best I can and weeding out most extracurricular activities (hence the lack of blog posts).

Today marks my 9th day in a row at the office.  Meaning that I worked IN THE OFFICE both Saturday and Sunday this week.  Our daycare isn't open on Saturdays or Sundays, so that meant I needed to make arrangements for Lukas.  My parents kept him Friday night through Saturday afternoon and then Mr. Cob kept him all day Sunday.  Working all weekend also meant that I couldn't run any of the usual weekend errands.  But my boys did the grocery shopping for the week and Mr. Cob took Lukas on the scheduled play date.  Mr. Cob folded all the laundry and took care of the yard.  He's been making dinners or taking us out to eat.  My mom even sent us home with food and a girlfriend fed my boys on Sunday afternoon.

A year ago I would've been really upset about missing both full weekend days with my little guy and husband.  I would've wondered why I'd had a baby when I had to put him in day care all week and not even get to spend every waking hour with him on the weekends.  I certainly would have felt extreme guilt about not "raising" him myself.

While I wouldn't go so far to say that I love working all weekend, I now know that  I'm not a bad mom for being a working mom who has to work long hours and sometimes all weekend. How do I know this?   In the 24 hours that my mom watched Lukas this weekend she taught him how to say circle, "momma work", and noodle.  She convinced him to eat fruits that I can't get him to touch and she also taught him to jump into the pool. When I walked in my parent's house Lukas looked up at me, smiled and yelled MOMMA, but continued to read on the sofa with my mom.  He was happy to see me, but was clearly continuing to thrive without me.  

On Sunday, Mr. Cob didn't keep the same strict schedule with Lukas that I usually set.  He took a nap an hour later than usual and he gave him some snacks I wouldn't have chosen.  But Lukas was happy and still went to bed on time without a fight that night.  We have different parenting styles, but both work equally well.  (A fact I have to periodically remind myself.)  And my husband loved spending the entire day with his son without having to compete (my word) with me for Lukas' attention.  What can I say, he's a momma's boy, but I know it can be hard for Mr. Cob to hear Lukas always ask for me instead of him, and the least I can do is step out of the way once in a while.  

So instead of looking at my "lost weekend" with mommy guilt (as I would have a year ago), I now see the weekend for what it was: I gave Mr. Cob the gift of daddy time and my mom the gift of grandma time.  And it's OK that other people were doing the things that I "should" have be doing myself.

I'm not a bad wife for not being able keep up the house, always watch our son, iron my husband's shirts and make breakfast, lunch and dinner with a smile.  I'm a good mom and wife for helping to financially support our family and continue to succeed in my chosen career path.  I'm a good mom and wife for maintaining an identity that is important to me other than "mom" and "wife".  I'm a good mom and wife.  Period.

I think as moms and wives we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and feel as though our little world will fall apart if we're not always there holding it together.  But we need to give ourselves a break and know that the world will continue to spin, with or without us.  We need to accept the help when it is offered.  And more, we need to ask for help when we  get in over our heads and are having trouble continuing to swim.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dr. Z - Everyone Needs a Friend

Please go check out my latest post at Dr. Z and Friends!  You're Not Alone: Everyone Needs a Friend

And if you like it, show me some "like" on Facebook!  The comments on the post are inadvertently closed at the moment, but Dr. Z is working on getting that fixed - so please head back over there and leave a comment.  Or comment here and let me know what you think!

Thanks so much for your support!!!

UPDATE - comments are now open on the Dr. Z post, so please feel free to leave a comment! Thanks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TTT - Book Cards

Sadly for my readers, Mr. Cob was on baby duty all day yesterday taking care of our feverish little man, so he didn't have time to write a post.  From what I hear, the readers have enjoyed his writing.  Maybe next week he'll write again!  Sip Sip may even make a guest appearance as she informed me she has some toddler tips, being the sage grandma she is!  Anyone else who has a good tip please feel free to send them my way and you can be a guest blogger too!! 

Ok, so today's tip.  This is a tip for anyone throwing a baby shower or for any pregnant mommies out there who are having a shower thrown for them.  On the invitation, instruct the guest to bring a children's book in lieu of a card and write their "card" in the inside cover of the book.  This way the new momma (and baby) have a collection of books, in addition to all the shower goodies, after the shower.  My friends did this for my baby shower and Lukas' library quickly filled up.  And beyond just baby showers, books make a great gift for a baby's first birthday, a congratulations gift upon hearing a friend is pregnant or when you visit the new baby for the first time.  I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many children's books.

What I especially love about giving a "book card" is that when you're reading the books to your little one, you have the added bonus of remembering your friend or family member who gave you the book because you see their signed note when you open the book!  So whenever you give someone a book, always remember to leave a note in the inside cover so the recipient thinks of you every time they read. 

We're currently on a nightly rotation of The Little Engine that Could (thanks to my first friend from law school, Jenn), Give a Dog a Donut (thanks to Lukas' school friend Nate and his fabulous mommy, Natalie) and Goodnight Moon (thanks to our friends over at La Vida Leipprandt - the first book we received for Lukas - the inscription says "to baby boy Swan" - we hadn't even named him yet!).  I may not remember who gave me what onesie or other gift from my shower, but I remember who gave me what book.

What are your current bedtime books?  Do you have any favorites?  Any books you've come to loathe?

And as a bonus tip this week, I'll pass on what one friend told me at my shower: BEWARE of reading Dr. Seuss books...they are L.O.N.G.!  And now that I think about it, so is The Little Engine that Could.  I mean, we get it.  The toys and food are for "the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain."  No need to tell me every single page.  I'm in trouble when Lukas starts to realize that my fifth time through The Little Engine is much shorter than the first!  Yes, that's right.  He insists that we read every book at least 3 times before bed. So maybe I improvise a little.  Maybe.  Just a little.  But don't worry, I always keep the good parts.  "I Think I Can, I think I can."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weaning & Depression

So I've been doing research the past couple of days on weaning and depression.  As it would turn out, this is not an uncommon occurrence (see a relevant Huffington Post article here and one on a blog I follow, Cup of Jo here).  Thankfully, a friend of mine sent me the Cup of Jo article a couple of months ago when I first mentioned to her that I thought Lukas might start weaning sometime in the near future.  But then his nursing apathy went away and I continued breastfeeding him until two weeks ago, more or less forgetting about the article.

I was well aware of postpartum depression, as my doctor had warned me about it and asked me at my follow-up appointment how I was doing and told me the signs to look out for.  But no one, until I read the Cup fo Jo post, had warned me about post-weaning depression.  It seems to be a sort of delayed-PPD.

Aside from being sad the first 10 days post breastfeeding, I was my normal self.  Then something happened on day 11.  The sadness was overwhelming.  Day 12 followed with more intense sadness and an deep sense of loss.  I found myself crying at my desk at work for no reason at all.  Nothing was "wrong" but I couldn't stop sobbing.  I then realized that perhaps these emotions were weaning-related.  After more online research, I learned that there are other moms who have experienced the same feelings that I'm currently experiencing.  Yesterday I was not feeling as much sadness and depression as I was feeling anxiety.  It comes and goes, but twice yesterday I had to stop what I was doing and recall the hypnobirthing breathing from my pregnancy class (slow inhale for count of 4, slow exhale for a count of 8).  I was able to calm down and avoid a full on panic attack, which I feared was imminent.  And today, two weeks in, I feel OK.  But I have had restless sleep the past few nights and was up for a few hours last night tossing and turning, when I'm usually a very sound sleeper.  Perhaps another effect from weaning.

It helps to know there is a reason that I feel "off" right now.  My hormones are shifting.  My hormones are to blame.  I keep telling myself this and it is helping me to stay centered and not freak myself out.  But I simply do not feel like myself.  From what I've read, things should get back to normal within 2-4 weeks of weaning (I'm hoping for 2 weeks, as that would be today).  But if it seems to get worse or lasts more than a month, I'm going to call the doctor.  Right now I'm just thankful it's not a deep depression, but just a mild feeling of sadness and melancholy.

So if you're a nursing mom, or might be one day in the future, just be aware that you may have some issues when you stop nursing.  I think it is important for more women to be aware of the possible connection between weaning and depression and know what to look for.  Talk to your doctor.  Research online.  Reach out to friends who have weaned.  Just know that this is normal and there's nothing wrong with getting help if you're feeling depressed.  Lord knows I plan on it if I feel myself slipping into any sadder of a place. Hopefully my hormones are starting to regulate themselves, but if not, I'm calling the doc.  And there is nothing wrong with that. 

If you've stopped nursing, I'd love to hear from you.  Did you have any issues?  How long did they last?  If you don't want to comment, please email me at thenestingswans@gmail.com

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Only a Mom...

...would blog in one week about leaking breastmilk AND pee.  And be SUPER EXCITED about the peeing.  I really don't know myself anymore.  But yes, I'm about to blog about pee.  You are forewarned.

This morning I was rudely interrupted in the middle of my hot shower by Mr. Cob instructing me to turn the water off.  He had a very serious look on his face, so I did as I was told.  He was holding Lukas, who was dressed in just a diaper and they were both BEAMING with joy.  Mr. Cob looked so proud.  I had no idea what they were about to tell me.

Mr. Cob then proceeded to tell me this story:

After I got in the shower the boys went downstairs to let the dog out.  Afterwards Mr. Cob needed to pee himself, so he asked Lukas if he wanted to go sit on the potty (we have a green frog toddler potty that stays in our downstairs bathroom that Lukas occasionally likes to sit on, usually totally naked).  Lukas yelled POTTY and off they went.  Mr. Cob made some comment about making water in the potty and Lukas yelled "wa wa", looked down as he was sitting on the potty and STARTED PEEING.  I am totally shocked.  I'd like to think this means we're on the way to potty training, but I'm not an idiot.  It was probably a fluke, but it was a reassurance that one day sometime in the future, diapers will be a thing of the past!  Thank heavens.

I know that this is a Lukas milestone that no one else cares about except for me and Mr. Cob, but I'm sharing anyway since this blog is also Lukas' baby book.  So, another first!  At 19 months and 6 days old my big boy pee-pee-ed in the potty!!!

Oh, and I'm still slowly losing my mind thanks to the weaning, but I'm now convinced that it's not serious depression because I mean, really, I wouldn't be this excited about pee if I was deeply depressed.  Right? So that's good.  I think.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I'm a "Wean-ee"

Weaning Day 12.

My current thoughts. WARNING, they're not all coherent...

1. Days 1-10 were easy. Aside from the guilt. And the emotions. Physically they were easy.

2. Day 11 I woke up leaking milk (glamorous, eh?) and I felt like my boobs were going to explode. I was in serious pain. The pain lasted all day.

3. Day 12 the hormonal craziness started. Tears. Unexplained sadness. Sobbing. I feel like I'm losing control and I have no idea why. I think it's all related to the weaning.

4. Other "side effects" I have at the moment: fatigue, headache, nausea, leg cramps, itching, tender boobs and dizziness. Like I said, I feel like I'm going crazy.

5. I wish I hadn't stopped nursing. I feel like I made a mistake. I don't know why I feel this way. Lukas hasn't asked for milk/to nurse in days. Now he asks for moo milk (the kind from a cow). He isn't mad at me or showing any signs that he misses nursing. Yet I still feel sad and like I made the wrong decision.

6. Lukas still wants momma to put him to bed at night. We thought having Mr. Cob do bedtime would help Lukas transition away from nursing easier. But we quickly realized that by my stopping nursing AND simultaneously not putting him to bed anymore that he may have felt like I was deserting him. He would wail and cry out for me. After a couple days we realized he just wanted momma. Not my milk. So I took to doing bedtime again and he hasn't cried at all. Lesson learned for weaning future kids.

7. My boobs are quickly shrinking. Boo.

8. My stomach has also been shrinking. I feel like my body is suddenly letting go of all the bloat and the excess fat it was holding on to while I was nursing. A nice positive in a sea of negatives. At least I look thin.

9. I've been starving the past couple of days. No clue if this has anything to do with weaning.

10. I miss it.

TTT - Choices

Cob here. So two weeks in a row with some Toddler tips. Have you been able to figure out that June is Mrs. Swan’s busy month (one of them at least).

Mrs. Swan: Cob. Cob? Cob! COB!

Me: *snort* Uh, I’m up! I’m up.

Mrs. Swan: Seriously, its 7:30, I just put Lukas to bed, how are you already asleep?

Me: Look I read a lot of stuff today… Perez Hilton had an exclusive interview with J. Beib’s kitten, Professor Chiltonton. I am beat.

Mrs. Swan: Okay, well, I’m in a bind and despite my instincts, I was hoping you might have some more tips or thoughts… no dick jokes.

Me: Well… I did have one idea… hmmm, no dick jokes though, so… let’s just post this recipe I saw in Decent Homekeeping last week. It was the winning recipe for gazpacho at the 14th annual Northeast Georgia Pudding Jamboree and Tepid Soup-Off.

Mrs. Swan: Just go back to sleep, I’ll figure something out.

Me: Great.

So I went back to sleep, but I awoke some 8 hours later, at 3 in the morning with a cry. “Epiphany!” Mrs. Swan then cried out as well, also excited at my brilliant idea.

Me: I got it! I can write that post. No need to break out the Gazpacho recipe!

Mrs. Swan: What?! Ah, Fine… Jesus.

Choices. That is this week’s tip. Through my research (read: Trial and Error), I have learned that one way to manage Lukas’ tantrums is to give him a choice. Doctors might call this preventative medicine. Those same doctors might also tell me “you can’t let a 19 month old make choices for himself or he will be some kind of pantless cupcake addict.” To that I would say, “Listen doc, these are not real choices, it is the illusion of a choice. Yes doctor, I trick my child, a little bit. It is good for him, I think.”

Choices. It is apparent that Lukas, despite his small stature, believes himself to be nearly a full grown person. We have come realize that when Lukas needs to do something he doesn’t want to do, the best way to prevent a tantrum is to offer him an option; the thing he doesn’t want to do, or something worse. It was the same reason I hung out with persons of questionable moral character in college – I looked a heck of a lot better considering the alternatives. Eh Mrs. Swan? In all seriousness though, choices have really helped and it empowers the little guy to a certain degree.

We first noticed this when it came to clothes. See, the little nudist began to protest against clothes and the social conventions associated with them. So one day Mrs. Swan got out three shirts, each of them somewhat acceptable, and simply asked him what shirt he wanted to wear. He chose and then we put it on and he didn’t complain that much. Amazing. We continued this practice.

Food as well. Our pediatrician told us that one way to get around this picky eating problem was to give him a couple of options on his plate. At first, we gave him one thing he liked and three things he didn’t. He basically just ate the thing he liked. Game on. Next we gave him four things he kind of liked and out of either acceptance, or confusion, he tended to eat three or four things. Now we give him four options and include in it some of his favorites (strawberries) and for some reason he tends to eat some of the stuff her doesn’t like (i.e., green foods). Success, via the scientific method (Note: I am only a recreational scientist).

Probably the greatest example of the power of choices was today:

Mrs. Swan: Luke, do you want to take a bath?

Luke: Yeh!

Me: Did he just say…

Mrs. Swan: You want to take a bath?

Luke: Yeh! (begins taking off shirt – gets stuck on head – falls on his butt)

Baths have been few and far between the last two or three weeks. He has been crying through most of them and the baths were more like glorified sponge baths rather than proper baths, with Lukas standing and crying (no booty immersion) and with Mrs. Swan asking him to sit down for five minutes until eventually just scrubbing him while he stands. Tonight, bath time was a pleasure, like it used to be.

Admittedly, things are easier now that he can say “Yeh!” and “Nooooo.” And bear in mind we are not complete idiots – he doesn’t get to choose everything and sometimes we have to put our foot down – but I would be remiss if I didn’t note how much giving him some choices has helped. So the next time you see us in public, and Lukas is wearing Purple, Red, Yellow, and Brown, don’t blame me, blame him. It was his call. As for my outfit…well I get to choose my clothes too… and there is nothing you can do about it. If Lukas gets to choose, I do too!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Q+A: Daycare Drop-off Drama

A couple of days ago I got an email from a fellow momma asking me for some advice. I thought her question might be of interest to other moms out there and hopefully my answer is helpful to some of y'all too!  If you have any questions for me, remember you can always email me at thenestingswans@gmail.com and I'll do my best to offer some "sound" advice (well, some advice) and at the very least remind you that you're not alone!

READER: So, my little man (19 months old) recently moved into the toddler room and he is screaming hysterically when I leave him every day. It is becoming very stressful for me. Have ya'll gone through this? Any good tips?

Hi.  Oh the daycare drop off scream fest.  The worst way to start your day, hands down.  We've definitely been there and I always wind up crying myself in the car - if I can make it that far before the tears start.  BUT, let's think about this rationally and for a moment pretending we aren't hormonal momma bears who have an intense need for our kids to never cry, ok?  Ok.

What has changed?  Kids, as far as I can tell, do really well with routine and when you switch up that routine, you're throwing a kink in their little lives.  They don't have the language yet to tell us what is wrong, so they cry and scream.  Luckily, this time you know exactly what is wrong - he's in a new room and that's going to take some time for him to get used to.  I'm guessing he has new teachers, yes?  What about the kids in the room - does he know any of them or did he leave all his little friends and join a whole new group of friends?  We were lucky when Lukas changed rooms - his friends all changed at the same time so there was one constant within the other change.  But if your little guy changed rooms, teachers and friends, then that is a lot for him to process.

Did his routine there also change?  When L moved rooms he went from a crib to a cot for naps, high chair to table for food, etc.  So I'd think it'll take him a few days to get used to the new room.  Is your mom still watching him a few days a week?  If so, then it may take him a little longer to acclimate since he's not at daycare every single day.  I'd talk to his teachers and ask them how he is once you have left.  How long does it take for him to calm down?  Lukas is always fine within 10 minutes of me leaving - his teachers and the administrators have told me this on numerous occasions.  The owner of our school has told me that day in and day out she sees kids have meltdowns when the parents leave and then they are TOTALLY HAPPY and playing before mom and dad are even to their car!  She once told me she would never have beleived that before she started the school and saw it for her own eyes.  So take comfort in the fact that this is COMPLETLY NORMAL and will pass.

I also think it's the age.  Lukas has started throwing temper tantrums and cries for no apparent reason sometimes.  So that's probably not in your favor either!  I've also noticed at this age that Lukas is very focused on whoever is with him at the given moment.  Last night I had drinks after work and got home around 7:30 - Lukas was very into dadda at the time.  Mr. Cob left at 8 to go workout and Lukas lost his mind asking for dadda.  He's also done this when we leave my mom's house and he wants to keep playing with Sip Sip.  So your little guy wants to be with his momma in the morning but rest assured he's fine when you leave, or will be in no time.

How about the good bye?  Are you lingering once he starts to cry?  I've read that that makes it worse.  Also don't sneak out.  Tell him you love him and that you're going to work and you will be back to see him later and then leave.  Short and sweet is best.  Hopefully his teachers can work with you on this and distract him as soon as you leave - we have to do that with Lukas still sometimes.

My other tip would just be to stay strong and don't doubt yourself or feel bad!  He's a little boy and they get upset, but it's just because he's in a new environment - once he gets comfortable again he'll be good!

Hope this helps a bit :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Everybody DOES Wean

This time 19 months ago I was exhausted in bed at the hospital wishing my little dude would hurry up and arrive.  Eventually, after many many hours, he did. My life changed in more ways than I can count the day that Lukas was born, but there has been one constant in my life since his arrival, until exactly one week ago.  Aside from about 5 days when I was away on various trips alone, every day for the last 18 months and three weeks I have breastfed Lukas.  And a week ago it ended.  I've been hesitant to write this post as I was unsure of the finality of my decision to stop, but at this point I think it is safe to say we are done. 

I have very mixed emotions about this particular change in my mom life. 

First and foremost, I am sad.  Our nursing time was our bonding time.  I could tune out the rest of my world and just sit with my baby and focus on him.  It was how I started every day.  And it was our way of reconnecting after spending each workday apart.  It was my way of comforting him when he was upset or scared.  It was my way of feeding him and helping him grow.  It was our time to snuggle before putting him down to sleep each night. It was one of the ways we said I love you. But mainly, it was our time to be together.  And for the loss of all those things, I am so, sincerely, depressingly sad.  I have tears growing as I write this. I'm mourning what feels like a loss. I'm questioning my decision.

I'm also harboring a lot of guilt.  (You knew there would be mom-guilt.)  There's always mom-guilt, it seems.  So yes, another emotion I'm feeling, is guilt.  I didn't expect to feel such strong guilt for stopping breastfeeding after nursing well beyond the "recommended" minimum time (6 months to a year).  I've nursed longer than most moms in the United States (57% of moms have stopped by 6 months and 78% have stopped by a year), yet I still feel guilt for stopping.  I know I've been in the minority "extended breastfeeding" group for the last 6 months and my brain tells me that I've done so much good for Lukas for nursing him as long as I have.  But my heart feels the guilt at stopping.  The guilt I feel isn't because I think I haven't nursed him long enough.  Yet I feel guilt.  I feel guilty that I didn't follow "child-led weaning".  I didn't let Lukas fully decide when our nursing relationship would end. I noticed his cues (some mornings he would rather read than nurse and some nights he'd go in the crib without wanting to rock and he didn't ask to nurse if my mom or Mr. Cob put him to bed), and I interpreted these cues as the push I needed to make the decision to stop.  But I feel guilty because while I know that Lukas isn't nutritionally dependent on nursing, I fear I'm stopping him from something he enjoys and wants to continue doing.  I did not wait for him to completely stop asking to nurse or to lose interest.  When it comes down to it, I decided to stop.  I mother-led our nursing relationship to its end.  And for that I feel extreme guilt.  Especially this morning when he asked me to nurse and I chose to say no.  For a second, before I could distract him with cheese in the kitchen, he looked confused about my telling him no.  He didn't look sad, just confused.  But quickly he forgot and went about devouring his cheese.  But in keeping it real, I feel that I have to tell you about the guilt.  Because it is so there.

So why did I stop?  If I feel such sadness and guilt, why the decision to stop?  I'm sure I'll get judgement from pro-extended nursing moms for this, but the answer is that I was done. It was time.  I wanted my body back.  And it was getting a bit painful to nurse.  I think my milk supply had dropped dramatically due to my few days here and there of no nursing when Lukas just wasn't interested, so when he would nurse he wasn't getting much milk and I guess he was sucking harder in an attempt to get the milk flowing.  This was simply causing me discomfort and I stopped looking forward to our nursing sessions.  I wanted to snuggle with my boy, but not necessarily nurse him.  And I want to have some time where my body is just mine again before giving it over to another baby.  I was pregnant for 9 months and then nursed for almost 19, so if my math skills are right, my body hasn't been just "mine" for over 2 years.  And I wanted it back.  I also feared that the longer I kept nursing Lukas the harder it would be to stop.  With each day he is learning new words and maybe this is cowardly, but I didn't want to wait until he could clearly articulate his desire for milk and his displeasure with not receiving it.  I also do think Lukas was more or less ready to stop.  He hasn't asked for milk most morning this week - instead he asks me to read to him or to "eat".  He's growing up and that means our relationship is changing.  He doesn't need me in the way he did for that first year.  My baby is becoming a little boy.  This is hard for me to accept.  I'm crying now writing that.  My heart is heavy.  But I think this is the right decision for me and for Lukas.

I will always cherish my days of nursing him.  I'm so happy that I got over my initial negative thoughts on the subject and was willing to try it.  I'm lucky that we had such a long nursing relationship and that it worked for us.  And I know there will be days that I will miss it.  I will miss rocking with him in his room at 3 in the morning nursing him.  But it is time to move forward, and as the saying goes "Everybody weans."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Toddler Tips Tuesday: The Dad Perspective

For this week's edition of "Toddler Tips Tuesday" we have a guest writer - my man, Mr. Cob.  I hope you enjoy his tip(s)!

Cob here.  So Ms. Swan said to me the other day “wow you are a great Dad.  How do you do it?  Though you are truly the most handsome,funny, brawny, gorgeous, hilarious, and strong man this side of the Mason-Dixon,and surely most of that is from your fine gene pool, you must have some tips you can offer the rest of the common men out there to help them become such great dads.  Can you please share them next Tuesday.”

“998, 999, 1000… Sure,” I said putting down the fifty pound dumbbells, “I think there are a couple things that I do that other people might find helpful.”

So here we are.  Let me first say that in our parenting of Lukas, Ms. Swan is certainly the person doing the heavy lifting right now.  Most notably, up until the last week or so she almost exclusively handled the bedtime duties – as we are starting to wean Luke, I have now taken over the night time duties. And to be perfectly honest, the only real thing that I think I do well as a father is act as Ms. Swan’s foil. 

I understand that children, especially toddlers, need consistency and certainly mom and dad need to be united in the way they handle certain issues (tantrums) that arise. But I think the most valuable thing I offer, and that any dad or partner can offer their mate is, where appropriate, being the antithesis of your partner.

Ms. Swan has been nurturing and been a lot closer to Lukas than I have.  This is true both physically and to a certain degree emotionally.  Though he sometimes calls out for Da-Da, make no mistake, he wants his Ma-Ma more.  And that is ok.  As a result, Ms. Swan is sometimes reluctant to let Lukas try new things and to trust him to not hurt himself.  I am not. It is not because I am lazy or inattentive – it is because I feel that in order for him to truly learn something, he needs the opportunity to try and fail without the aid of a safety net. For example, I have always let Lukas walk around outside and explore things on his own more regularly than Ms. Swan. No, I don’t let him just walk in the street, but if we are going to a store or walking a few blocks some place, I let him try to walk it himself, rather than carrying him.  As a result, he not only has good motor skills, but when we put him down to walk around he doesn’tjust run off as fast as he can – as if he is worried he may not get a chance to walk around outside again – he is more controlled and tends to simply walk along with us.

Another example is plates and silverware.  Several months ago I notice Lukas was being particularly picky with his meals.  Ms.Swan and I both thought he was being a picky eater, but I decided, without talking to Ms. Swan about it, to give him his food on an adult plate with a small, but metal, fork.  Clearly upped the danger a bit but I kept an eye on him.  And he actually ate a bit more.  I trusted him and we learned that the problem was not entirely the types of food that was offered to him, but that he wanted to eat more like his mom and dad.

Finally, sometimes I am the bad cop.  As a father, but really as a spouse, you need to be ready willing and able to say no to your child in situations where your spouse has difficulty saying no.  Every parent has certain things that we struggle with and it is the responsibility of your partner to help you with those moments. One example is bath time.  I have a hard time with bath time.  I don’t like fighting with him to take a bath and if it wasn’t for Ms. Swan putting up with his flailing and yelling, I think he would be one filthy kid.  Conversely, I am there for Ms. Cobb at the two moments when she feels the most guilty about making tough decisions for Lukas, in the morning and at bedtime. Though we have not had many tantrums in recent months at school, there was a time when Ms. Swan hated dropping him off because of how badly he cried.  And I hated it too.  But I knew that it was my job to bear the brunt of that horrible experience because every time Ms. Swan dropped him off and he cried, she cried and had serious doubts about her decision to keep working.  To force her to encounter this reminder of her tough decision every morning, before going to work, wasn’t fair to her. 

Similarly, we have started weaning Lukas and while Ms. Swan could continue the night time routine and just say no to Lukas’ request for milk, the resulting tantrums were taking a rather large emotional toll on the Swan's nest.  So in steps me, the bad cop,refusing milk and enduring the screams. I don’t like it and I wish I could just let him stay up or let him nurse, but it is my job to help Ms. Swan with this one.  So we rock, he cries, we read, he screams, he goes in the crib and I pretend to sleep on the floor.  It is a long, tough game, but it is getting better.  I know nursing has been, and will always be, a very special thing to Ms. Swan and that she misses it everyday.  This is the least I can do to help, since I don’t have boobs.

So was this a tip?  Idon’t know.  It might be common sense to most of you, but the thing I try to be most conscious of is looking at those things that my spouse struggles with the most, that cause her the most pain,the most mommy guilt, and I try to do that for her.  And so, for this Tuesday that is my advice to you, whether you are a dad or a mom.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Monday!

Monday, we meet again. 

I'm just glad it's today and not yesterday.  See, I woke up yesterday morning and groaned in my head about how I didn't want to get dressed and go to work.  And then it hit me: It's Sunday silly - no work today!  I love when that happens.  (Hate when I wake up on a school day thinking it's the weekend though... does that happen to anyone else?)

We had a fantastic weekend.  It was one of those weekends that felt like it lasted for three weeks. Have you had those weekends?  Time slowed down and I was able to really enjoy my friends and family and life.  I was truly happy this weekend.  We spent time laughing with good friends Friday night.  We saw Eugene Mirman at the Laughing Skull in midtown.  He is a hilarious comedian - check him out if you have an opportunity! 

Mr. Cob with comedian Eugene Mirman

Saturday morning Mr. Cob and I ran errands while my parents watched Lukas. We talked. We connected again. It's good to do that when you have little kids. It's too easy to put them first and your marriage second. I think that's the wrong order of things. Happy parents will make for happier kids. We are blessed to have family close by who offer to watch Lukas on a regular basis so we can make time for each other. But we're already lining up sitters for my parents two month getaway later this summer.  It really is important to have some kid-free time with your spouse.  Even if you have to pay someone for that time.

Saturday afternoon we took Lukas to the pool and the park and then celebrated my mom's birthday.  Sunday we went to the new doughnut shop in our neighborhood - Revolution Doughnuts - it goes against any diet I've ever been on, but it was worth the splurge!  Vanilla Bean.  Almond.  Dark Chocolate.  Salted Carmel.  (We just missed the salted carmel with BACON.  I mean really?  Heavenly.)  Seriously, check out these doughnuts if you live in the area!  It was worth waiting in the line around the block.

Lukas drenched from the splash park
We spent the rest of the morning at the Old Fourth Ward Splash Pad and park.  Lukas is always a bit leery of the water at first, so he starts by playing on the playground, works up a good sweat and then once he's hot enough he loves running in the fountains.  He fell asleep in the car while he was still eating his snack.  I'd say it was a successful morning!
My tired boy!  Oops - momma may have forgot to bring dry clothes...
While Lukas napped (in his crib, not the car seat...), I snuck out of the house for some alone time.  I'd say it was the perfect afternoon.  I did a little shopping and then got a pedicure.  In other words, I was able to sit for an hour, in a chair that massaged my back, while someone else did my toenails and I read another 100 pages of Fifty Shades Darker.  Yes, I'm currently ready the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.  And despite what should be embarrassment, I am totally obsessed with these books.  Judge if you must.  But, oh my. 

Our late afternoon was spent at the Farmer's Market, getting the week's groceries.  Followed by planting my three tomato plants and then eating dinner outside on our back deck - a first after over three years in our house!

It really was a wonderful weekend.  I hope yours was equally amazing. 

What'd you do this weekend?  Anyone else reading Fifty Shades?

Friday, June 1, 2012

I Thought Terrible Started At Two

Alternate Titles for this post:

Payback, 28 Years Later: An Early Birthday Gift to my Mom

Is Swinging Really that Amazing?

Why I am Happy I'm not a Stay-at-Home-Mom

Red Wine: The Drink of Choice by Moms of Toddlers Everywhere

Help me.  No seriously, help me.

Ok, so can you guess now what this post is about?  Two words: Temper Tantrums.

In a week the little man will be 19 months old.  And he is making his presence known around these parts.  My mom will surely read this post and laugh outloud and know that the karma police have struck again.  See, the thing is, I was the queen of temper tantrums.  (Shocking, right?)  It didn't matter where we were or who was around, if I was upset anyone within ear shot was going to know about it.  I'm not sure how my mom managed to keep her cool with me growing up.  But she did.  At least I don't remember her ever losing her shit on me.  And I'm hoping that I can somehow learn to do this with Lukas.  Because I fear he is following in his momma's footsteps.  (Damn those genes.)

It has surely begun.

A few nights ago was the worst to date.  I was inside the house making dinner while Mr. Cob pushed Lukas in our new swing out back.  Lukas LOVES to swing.  I'm convinced you could plop him in the swing and push him for hours before he'd bore of it.  I suppose this was our mistake for putting him in the swing knowing dinner would be ready within 15 minutes.  We won't make that mistake again, I assure you.

So once dinner was ready I yelled out back to my boys.  Once I realized Mr. Cob was on a phone call, I skipped down our steps to push my little dude in the swing for a few minutes before bringing him in for dinner.  Now I should mention that Lukas starts crying and screaming "MORE, MORE" when you aren't swinging him high enough or pushing the swing often enough.  And he usually protests when it is time to stop swinging.  This swinging thing is serious business.  But this time was different.  He lost his mind.  He had clamped on to that swing and I had to pry his little fingers off the ropes.  Then he began flailing his arms and legs as I carried him up the steps.  At one point his little fist hit me in the mouth!  I don't think it was on purpose, but admittedly, I'm not sure. 

Through his screams and sobs and flailing I try to "redirect" by talking about food - mentioning all his favorite things.  "Buddy, let's eat some olives, and cheese."  Nothing.  More yelling.  I tried to put him in his highchair, which I'm sure was a comical sight.  He just arched his back and pushed off with his feet, screaming the entire time.  Mr. Cob tried to call him down, to no avail.  So we put him on the ground and said we loved him and that we understood he was upset and wanted to swing, but that it was time to eat dinner.  Yea, you can't rationalize with a toddler.  He just looked at me like I was some crazy lady and screamed even louder.  He ran to our back door and cried "OUT" and "SWING" repeatedly in between his sobbing.

At that point I had no idea what to do.  So we just ignored him while Mr. Cob and I ate our dinner in silence.  Well, not in silence.  We ate to a chorus of screams, yelps and sobbing.  And the little dude did not let up.  He went on for a good 15 minutes.  But I was holding strong and there was no way in hell we were letting him back outside to swing.  I kept telling myself that we were the parents.  We were the ones in control.  Riiiight, we had complete control of the situation.  Totally.  Clearly.

He eventually calmed down once Mr. Cob offered him olives.  But it wasn't the olives that calmed him down.  No, he started screaming "MOMMA" when Mr. Cob approached him.  Apparently he was mad at dadda. (Score one for momma?)  So he ran over to me and finally sat down on my lap to eat dinner.  Phew, one temper tantrum down, countless more to come.

Please, someone tell me that this stage will be short lived.  Or give me some tips to deal with it. (Other than red wine.) What are you supposed to do when your wee one is in the middle of a colossal meltdown?  And worse, what do I do when it happens in a public place for the first time?  I can't ignore him in the middle of Publix, can I?

So help me.  What are your tips?  What do you do?  What books should I be reading?  Where can I find a toddler whisperer?