Monthly Archives: December 2013

In 2014 My Resolution is to Become More Nurshable

It is the last day of 2013. Tomorrow begins a new year.

Today I am thinking ahead to 2014. There are many resolutions that I could make, but I will choose to make a resolution that I have grown into this past year.

I would like to ask you to join me in this resolution.

Today I am strong because I have grown strong. Today I have a plethora of information at my fingertips because I have collected it across the years. Today I understand many things that I did not understand before.

I am blessed.

I will choose to use this blessing with humility. I will try and speak to others from where they are on their journey, not where I am on mine.

I will respect the emotional fragility that comes from being new to things. The vulnerability that comes from discovering that wrong information has been held as fact. I will respect that as the holder and provider of knowledge and information I am in a position of power even if others have made me feel powerless in the past.

I will be gentle. I will try and speak with true love.

I will try each day to become more Nurshable, as Nurshable has come to symbolize everything that I want to be.

I will not be that person on the other shore calling out to everyone that they can swim. That it’s easy and that you just have to try.

I will be the one swimming back to show others how from the shore that they have yet to leave, not from the shore that I have found. Yes, it will return me to that place where I once was fragile and weak. Yes, it will bring memories and sadness flooding back. Yes, it would be easier to pretend that I’ve always been this strong. But this is a place I know that I can leave, a place I know that I’ve grown past. So I will return to show others that they can leave. That they can grow past. That there is no shame in starting out.

I will smile gently instead and I will repeat my motto. “This is what learning looks like.”

Come swim back with me. There are many women waiting to learn. Many struggling to try and learn on their own.

I started a group earlier this year called “Becoming Nurshable”, for others who have chosen this journey. I’ll share it with you now, if you want to come and join.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BecomingNurshable/

Come be that voice of calm. Even if just once in this coming new year. Help another mama learn to swim. I hope to see you there. <3

Parenting Like a Marathon

Does anyone else find later stages more difficult than the newborn one?“- A question asked in the WIO group.

It varies. I find that I struggle at different points in time. I compare it to a marathon. At different points along the marathon you’ll struggle. You’ll have a harder time running up hills. You’ll have a harder time when you need water. You’ll have a harder time when you’ve run 2/3rds of the marathon and know you’ve got 1/3rd left to go. You’ll have a hard time if you lose sight of the race you’re running. You’ll have a hard time if you mistakenly think you’re running a 5K race instead of a marathon. You’ll have an easier time in weather that you favor than in weather that you don’t.. All of this applies to WIO as well.

If you think your baby should be STTN by 6 weeks or by 6 months it will be harder if they don’t.

If you are not taking care of yourself it will be harder than if you are.

When you’re part of the way there but not close enough to see the finish line it will be harder.

When you’re “going up hill” with a growth spurt or teething it will be harder.

But like a marathon this “race” has an end. And like a marathon you can’t see the ending from the beginning. You have to run the race and be approaching the finish line before you will see the finish line.

Just like a marathon you’re not “running backwards” when you are running up a hill. And your baby isn’t “unlearning” or “regressing” or “moving backwards” when they’re having a harder time. You’ve run what you’ve run. That isn’t taken away from you or from your baby any more than you’re losing miles when you have to run more slowly up a hill.

Above is an unedited comment that I left in response to someone who asked if anyone else found it “harder” at a certain point than it was with a newborn. I am posting it here on request of a few WIO group members that want to have it easy to reference. <3

What You Pour In

Watching people at a nursing home made me realize something. You get back what you pour in.

When someone is old and scared and who has forgotten who they are… Will their child berate them for little things beyond their control? Or will they sit there, quiet and understanding, and share whatever memories come easy?

When someone is old and wheelchair bound, unable to care for themselves.. Will their child tend to their needs? Or will their child need to sweep the floor and put away the laundry first?

When someone is old and lonely, their partner passed away, will their child wrap them up in a hug and hold their hand? Or will they sit politely a few feet away?

At the end of life so many roles are reversed.

How would you like your children to treat you if they become your caregiver?

Will your child understand that a person not being able to care for themselves is not manipulation or “trying to get attention”?

Will your child understand the value of human closeness and contact?

Will your child think about how lonely and scared you might be, and visit you often?

Will your child think of the things that might help you be more comfortable?

Will your child be able to cope with emotionally difficult situations?

Nursing homes really drive home the point of “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Not because you’re investing in your child’s future care of you…

But because helping a dependent human being feel safe, cared for, and loved.. Is the right thing to do. No matter how old or young they are.

(Originally posted to my FB wall on Oct 30 2013)

Waiting Room Games for Toddlers

Nurshable-WaitingRoomGames

A friend asked how to keep a young toddler occupied in a waiting room. I figured I’d share it here as well. :)

Upside Down Baby 
“Upside down baby” is a huge hit. Hold him on your lap straddling your waist. Hold his hands and open your knees and lower him until he’s hanging upside down. Bring him slowwwwly up and say “peekaboo!” Or you can say “uppppsiiiiiddown! Riiiighttttsideup!” Be careful that baby is not somehow licking the floor and that baby does not flip over upside down. 

Art Walk
Wander the office and look at artwork. This works best if baby is sitting on your shoulders and you’re holding baby’s hands to keep baby from falling off of your shoulders. Otherwise baby will attempt to pull all of the artwork off of the walls. If you are not fast they will succeed. 

Trot Trot to Boston
“Trot Trot to Boston” is fun. Start off with baby sitting on your knees facing you, with one leg off on the outside of each of your legs. Bounce your legs and say “trot trot to boston trot trot to lynne be careful when you get there.. you don’t fall in!” and then open your knees and baby “falls” into the space between while you’re holding onto baby’s hands. Be careful to not actually drop baby. *Note: Do not worry, this will not convert him to a Red Sox fan when he grows up, despite mentioning Boston. If you need to be cautious you can substitute any type of rhyming thing that involves the world opening up and swallowing him whole.

Sliding Face Changer
Play the “sliding face changer” game. Hold your hand in front of you so that the knuckles face out, your thumb faces up and your pinky finger faces down so that it can move up and down like a shutter. Move it up in front of your mouth- as it moves change the expression of your mouth. Move it over your eyes and change the expression of your eyes. As your hand comes up and baby can see all of your face you should have “Funny Face A”. Slide your hand down. As your hand obscures your eyes and then mouth change the expression. As your hand comes down below your chin you should have “Funny Face B”. You can add to this game by saying “Sad”.. “Angry”.. “Happy”.. “Sleepy”.. etc. Or you can make a sound before a specific face so that he can guess what face is going to come. Teaches pattern recognition. I’ve managed to make my daughter fascinated with patterns and she looks for them everywhere.

It looks like this:
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Knee Bounce Patterns
Play the knee-bounce pattern game. Put him on your knees ala “trot trot to Boston”. Bounce your knees up and down and say “Bum bum bum”. Then bounce your left knee and say “Boom boom boom” then bounce your right knee and say “Bam Bam Bam”. Vary the patterns. Then start saying the pattern before the bounce. He’ll start trying to predict which bounce is coming. This works best if you make it very very suspenseful and make Obvious Eye Contact of “this is about to be funnnnn.” You can even raise one knee like you’re about to bounce to the wrong pattern and see what he does. My daughter dissolves into fits of laughter when I am about to “get it wrong” because she knows I’m going to do something silly just before I do the right pattern. *Note: This may have strange consequences as the child grows older. Do not blame me if he becomes obsessed to listening to old Beatles songs backwards to find secret messages.

Body Part Identification
Ask him where all of his body parts are. Hand, nose, fingers, toes, belly button.. If he doesn’t know them now is a fun time to teach him. 

Animal Sounds
Ask him what different animals say. What does a cow, donkey, elephant, etc. say. If he doesn’t know them, now is a fun time to teach them. 

Paper Ripping
Bring paper. Let him rip paper. Also bring a bag for the ripped paper. Toddlers LOVE to rip paper. Love love love love love. 

Bring Books
Bring books. Unless he likes to throw books. Never bring anything that can be thrown unless you are willing to crawl under many things. 

Fake Wallet
Make a fake wallet. Fill it with those shoppers discount cards everyone wants you to have, the library card that you have from when you were twelve and that you never got rid of, the expired ID that someone punched a hole in and that you can’t actually use anymore, the fake credit cards that everyone sends you that are not real credit cards, the Kohls discount cards, and various things that you have printed out and laminated to make chew-proof and rip-proof (See the previous paragraph where paper ripping is mentioned.) Fill it up with LOTS OF THINGS! Now it’s baby’s wallet. Or baby’s purse. The more child-friendly contraband stuff the better. DO NOT allow them to use your real purse or your real wallet for this purpose. This stuff gets thrown and you have to retrieve it. You do not want your actual license to somehow manage to disappear. Trust me on this.

Let the Lesser Words Go

All the words there are, simply start a war
“manipulative”, “careless”, “ungrateful brat”
“conniving little cur”, “an artful boor”
no rod for your back, don’t be a doormat.

The things we notice are the things that float us
or the things that pull us down
the things that buoy us or the things that destroy us
and the things that make us drown .

Words so focused on upset, so simple to forget
you- a tiny little hand, a chubby little cheek,
Me? So big and strong, been around so long,
But anger makes us weak

I pause, I breathe, grasp at straws, sink down to my knees,
look at you, all the things that I love
God, give me patience please.
I can sit and talk without towering above.

little messes, broken things, grownup stresses,
words that others have fed me,
I can pass those words on like outgrown dresses
I refuse to have you dread me.

Open arms, pull you near, no more anger and no more fears,
I won’t let those words between us,
open heart, my head can clear, a gentle touch to brush our tears,
let there be love, nothing more and nothing less.
no more sadness in-between us.

I’ll let those words go, love the you that I know,
innovative, curious, endlessly creative,
You grin and you glow, strive to grow,
Dear one, you’re impressive, such a blessing
when I let the lesser words go.

(Written after a series of posts on one of the support groups by mamas that are working to let the lesser words go. <3 You’ll let them go, mama. You will. Be gentle with yourself, too, as no one was gentle with you.)

Breathe In, Breathe Out (The Zen in Tantrums)

Small flailing body in my arms. Screechy loud upset voice over wishes and desires that conflict with each other in ways she can’t understand. Frustration. This loud little thunderstorm isn’t a big and powerful thing. It is just bigger than the her I’ve known as she has grown to be this size. Just like her hands look huge in all their littleness, as they are so much bigger than the newborn hands she used to have.

Breathe in. (the scent of her hair has changed since she was a newborn. Less overpowering babyness and more little girl). Breathe out.

Breathe in. (She has grown so much since she was born. Big little hands. Big little feet. So tall!) Breathe out.

Breathe in. (She is so tiny still, in my lap. Hands dwarfed by mine. Feet so small.) Breathe out.

Breathe in. (She has words now, but so few and so hard for her to say. She repeats them over and over to try and get them right.) Breathe out.

Breathe in. (Feel my own size. My own strength. My own bigness. Look at her from the scale of me and where I have grown, not from the scale of how tiny she used to be.) Breathe out.

Oh little girl. Trying to be as big as the little things inside. I’ll hold my calm for you. You can rage it out, let it go, and when you pause to look at me I’ll be those open arms for you to clamber into, still wailing. I’ll hug you tight and tell you it’s okay. Storms pass. It’s all a part of growing. Your body will calm against my own, your breathing will slow, you’ll look up at my face and your tears will slowly stop. Red eyed, damp-cheeked, hiccuping from your sadness and upset.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

I love you, little one.

The Shifting of Naps in Toddlerhood

Nurshable-ShiftingNaps

Dear Daughter,

You’re twenty months old today! You’ve been working on trying to figure out what new napping pattern makes sense for you, and you’re hovering between those two places at the tail end of your journey to independent sleep. “I CAN’T” has been followed by “I WON’T” and now you’re slowly moving into “I DO IT MYSELF!”

Lately I’ve stopped trying to push the nap at “nap time” and have been letting you lead the way and figure out what your new napping schedule looks like. Allowing you this independence is what bridges that gap between “I WON’T” and “I DO IT MYSELF”, just like being very firm about schedule helped you bridge the gap between “I CAN’T” and “I WON’T”.

Today it was naptime so I took you up to our bed in our room and nursed you.

You were not ready yet. So you popped off and sat up and started to play with the clean cloth diapers that I had been stuffing earlier in the day. (And you sat on my head.)

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You decided after a bit to point at your diaper and exclaim “poo poos!” which you have learned will instantly teleport you to the room where we keep all the fun paper (We’re using the Wait it Out Method of Potty Training too.)

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After a little while you stomped your feet and pointed at the potty and wanted to sit on it with your diaper still on. That’s okay too. It’s progress. (You sang “nyah nyah nyah nyah-NYAH!” while sitting, by the way.)

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We then flushed all the fun paper down the toilet. You giggled and ran to the safety of the door and waved “bye bye” as the toilet flushed.
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Then you wanted to read books. But as soon as we snuggled down to read them you decided that you did not want to read books and practiced speed crawling instead.
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So we went back downstairs and you wanted to tuck the doggy in. “NAP!” you declared as you covered him up.
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Feeling the need for some order in your life you decided to reorganize the cabinets.
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Then you stood up and took my hand and we went back up to your brothers room. You climbed onto the floor mattress where we tried to read books earlier. And you asked to nurse. (Yesterday you fell asleep there watching the fish across the room but today was too exciting so you wanted to wind down a bit.) You knew just what you wanted to do, and squinted your eyes closed as soon as you were latched on and comfy.

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Within a minute you were asleep.
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An hour past your usual “naptime”, two PM is where your naps are more and more often. Soon it will be the new naptime for you. Not just yet, though. You’re still finding your pattern.

I’m okay with waiting while you figure out your needs so that you can dtell me “I DO IT MYSELF!”

<3 Mama

My Elf Challenge

WatchTheParents
What if the elves on the shelves were watching the behavior of the parents instead?

What would your elf want you to change? That’s my challenge to myself for the next two weeks. To act as though a little elf is watching ME.

I sighed with annoyance when my three year old tried to snuggle me and spilled the coffee that he didn’t see. (And forgot to thank him when he ran for toilet paper to try and help me clean it up.)

And I got impatient with my six year old because he was tickling his sister after she fell. He was trying to help her feel better using the tools that he had.

They’re little. Imperfect. Learning still. I can show them how to help better, how to look before leaping, how to try and understand what type of comfort a baby needs when she’s crying because of a bumped knee instead of from boredom.

Twenty Months, Canines and Self Settling (Sort Of)

Dear Daughter,

You’ll be twenty months old next Friday (which will be Friday the 13th just like the one on which you were born.) It’s about time to write another update on your sleep.

For the first half of the night you aren’t sleeping too badly. From around 8:30 until when we fall asleep at 11 you tend to wake up once to nurse (usually just as we shut off the lights) and then you’re zonked out until around 3AM. From 3AM until I finally give up and get out of bed you’re torturing me exploring independent sleep and self soothing. The way those things look for an almost twenty month old child with canines trying to poke their way through their gums… Is not exactly what one might think of when one hears the terms “independent sleep” and “self soothing”.

You ask to nurse. I nurse you and remind you that when you’re done I’d really like it if you’d pop off and roll over because mama needs sleep and mama can’t sleep when you’re nursing. You listen to this and nibble frantically away for a short moment and then pop off and roll over onto your back. You lay there. You lay there. You lay there. Sometimes you fall back to sleep. Sometimes you whine and flop yourself over back towards me, crawl up onto my shoulder and fall asleep there. Sometimes you form the mid-line of an H between your daddy and I, kicking me restlessly before you fall asleep and your daddy wakes up in a stupor and moves you while I hold my breath and think “I’d be happy to just sleep curled up at the bottom of the bed like a cat as long as she stays asleep.” Sometimes you pop up like a little whackamole and smile a sleepy smile and crawl over to me and hug me and fall asleep with your hair in my face. Sometimes you squirm around and scratch your hands at your diaper and whine to let me know you want a change. And as soon as your wet diaper is off (but before your dry one is on) you are fast asleep.

I’ve possibly just turned everyone in the world off of the idea of Waiting it Out. Shouldn’t I see more progress here?

Oh but I am seeing progress. I see a child who will be sleeping through the night soon. I see a child who is self soothing and resettling.

When you were first born you had zero ability to sleep. You never had that sleepy phase as a newborn where I could put you down or prop you up cutely to take pictures of you. You were a constant contact carry mammal who could not nap independently for a very long while, and who gradually learned to do so around eleven months.

Between then and now you have learned countless things about sleep. You have learned that sleep is safe. You have learned that your needs will be met and responded to. You’ve learned that you can settle yourself without needing to nurse back to sleep. You’ve learned that you like different positions to sleep in. You’ve learned all the awesome sleep skills that you need to go to sleep and stay asleep and resettle between sleep cycles.

So why aren’t you sleeping?

Oh dear. Silly adults and their ridiculous expectations of small children.

Adults struggle enough with sleep. When they have something on their mind that they’re trying to figure out. When they have a headache or when they have had dental work. When they pulled a muscle. When they  have PMS and cramping.

Your mouth is full of sharp things that are trying to cut their way through your gums. Sometimes they bleed. They itch and burn and ache. They press painfully. I’m amazed you can sleep through that at all. I remember when my wisdom teeth were coming through and Tylenol killed the pain but the pressure was still there and the rawness was still there and my gums itched like mad. I was twenty years old and some nights all my adult-sized sleep skills were not enough to keep me asleep with those things in my mouth.

You’re twenty MONTHS old. You’ve learned a lot about sleep, but I can’t expect you to have sleep skills that are better than what I had at twenty years. I can’t expect you to sleep through the itching and burning and aching and hurting of the teeth that you are cutting one after the other after the other, when I couldn’t even sleep through four wisdom teeth some of the time. I can’t expect you to sleep through the dramatic leaps in language that you are making every day when I sometimes struggle to sleep while I’m learning something new and challenging.

Yes. I want sleep. Yes. I need sleep. Yes. I sometimes have irrational annoyance at the fact that your father manages to sleep a couple of feet away and I sometimes wake him up to bounce you for ten minutes while you complain and yell because you don’t want to be bounced anymore you want to figure it out yourself. Next to me. And I want ten minutes alone to try and get back to that place where I could possibly fall back to sleep if you fall back to sleep too.

But I do understand. I see your progress. I see how hard it is for you and how hard you’re trying. I’m amazed at the things you have learned since you were first born. How comfortable you are in your body. I’m amazed at how you try not to nurse at night and how when I say the word “please” you pop off and roll away and try so hard to go to sleep.

You probably won’t remember, but I whisper to you how proud I am of you, how much I love you, how much everyone loves you. Your little hand comes up to pat my face. (And sometimes to hit it because you’re still a bit spastic like that.)

Take your time, love. You’re learning.

<3 Mama