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May 27, 2011

7 Quick Takes (4)

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting!!!

Thanks for the comments to my Dinnertime Debacle post last night.  I appreciate them.  I do want to clarify and state that we do not force any food down our kids' throats.  And I am not a big promoter of the "Clean-Your-Plate" club either.  We have done the deal where they have to take one bite of everything, but no dessert if they don't eat their dinner (because if you're hungry enough for dessert - you're hungry enough to eat your dinner first!)  Believe me when I tell you that they complain about being hungry ALL. THE. TIME. but yet when dinner rolls around, they complain, pick, neglect their food.  And no, we don't provide anything else for them, because that's just crazy-talk.  Believe me when I tell you that if we served pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries or any variety of junk food every night for dinner, our children would eat it up!!  I have saved dinner to serve for breakfast, too.  I may have to go back to doing that.  I don't know that I've ever done that with Helen.  I say "they" because all the kids have done it...but Helen's just the main culprit right now.

I am six weeks away from my due date as of Wednesday this week.  What's really sad is that most people think I am just days away from my due date thanks to my big ol' preggo belly.  To be fair, I am finally waddling (started about a week or so ago) so I look more "ready to go" waddling down the hall/street/sidewalk/etc.  Surprisingly enough, I'm not moaning and groaning and overall "done" with pregnancy yet.  Maybe it's the fact that it's number 5.  I mean, yeah, I am uncomfortable and all...but I just feel perfectly content with the fact that it's not time to have a baby yet.

I am not a telephone-talker.  Well, I take that back.  With SOME people I am a telephone-talker.  I can talk to my Dad, my sisters, one of my aunts or my husband for a long time on the phone.  I don't mind calling or being called by any of those.  But those are really it.  If you're not one of those, please don't be offended if we have some awkward silences if we happen to talk on the phone without a clear directive to the conversation.  I really wish there were a few people I felt comfortable informing about my telephone-talker-status so they can stop calling me, though.

It was the last day of school today!  My kids were all kinds of excited.  They were up 20 minutes before I normally get them up!  I just peeked at Sarah's grades online and I am very pleased.  She got A's in everything except Math and Reading and those were B+'s (92%).  Her school has a grading scale of 94-100 = A.  I am just so happy for her!  She worked so hard all year and learned so much.  Our school is the most awesome school and I'm very happy that we have our kids there.

It's a three day weekend.  Unfortunately, in my line of work, the day before a three day weekend and the day after a three day weekend are days from hell.  Today was no different.  I didn't get home until almost 6:30 p.m.  Boo.

Sarah gets to go ride a horse tomorrow!  See, one of Sarah's 3rd grade teachers (they changed teachers mid-year) owns a horse.  Sarah has been corresponding by e-mail with this wonderful lady and has asked her to attend games and things all year.  Since she hadn't been able to come every time Sarah invited her, she wanted to still have some time to see Sarah, so she asked us if Sarah could come see her horse and ride.  We didn't tell Sarah until just a few hours ago, but she is EXCITED. BEYOND. BELIEF.  :)  Should be fun!!

The pool opens this weekend, but the weather is NOT cooperating.  I hope we get to go at least one of the days this weekend.  The kids have been chompin-at-the-bit to get to the pool!

Okay - isn't this a cute picture??

Have a great weekend.  Be sure to visit Jen for more Quick Takes!!

May 26, 2011

Dinnertime Debacle

When I was growing up, I don't recall a time that I refused to eat what was placed in front of me.  Actually, many a childhood memory centers around the fact that my parents spent a lot of time trying to get me to STOP eating everything in sight.  I had a healthy appetite and I LOVED food.  I still love food!  

And...here is where I wish I was funny, witty and fast with pop-culture references...because writing the rest of it (and reading it I'm sure) would be so much more fun!  Perhaps some of my fellow funny bloggers (Amy--Jessica--anyone?) can relate some of their struggles with the humor attached.  

I am not sure where my children picked up their picky eating habits.  Not one of my children has graced me with a happy eating toddler-hood. Sarah and Dani have progressed into childhood and pre-tween-hood eating almost everything we place in front of them, so I know that eventually, they come around.  At some point, we can reason with kids to the point of at least trying something and then they figure out they like it and we're good to go.

I have had my share of Dinnertime Debacles, though.  And Helen's are taking the cake.  The child has faked choking, thrown horrendous fits with full mouths of food, chewed for 10 minutes and refused to swallow...you name it, I have lived it with my 5-year-old lately.  

The other night, Craig made a deal with Helen that we'd go out to eat dinner the next night if everyone ate their dinner.  (Yeah, yeah...bribery...)  

She sat there and didn't touch her dinner while the rest of us ate, but of course, we (parents) didn't want to punish Sarah and Dani, so we extended Helen's dinnertime and put the timer on to 25 minutes.  I proceeded with feeding Helen her bites of chicken/rice/broccoli casserole.  It was excruciating.  She threw a fit.  After she calmed down from that, she chewed one bite for 7 minutes and refused to swallow her food.  Somehow, we coerced her to eat all of her food within the allotted time and the family got a much-needed night out Wednesday night.

Tonight, the special was crock-pot pork chops and mushrooms over egg noodles. (I tell you what we're feeding the children so that you can see...we are not feeding them Gruel or Mush!)  We all sat down, said the blessing and began eating.  I announced that I'd be going for a walk after dinner and that I'd take any daughter(s) of mine who finished their food with me. (Yeah, yeah...bribery...of a different sort...we're getting desperate.)

And, so began the Dinnertime Debacle of Thursday night.  Helen allowed me to feed her a bite...she kind of fussed through it, but I thought things were going to go all right.  But then she started putzing around so I started the timer.  25 minutes is enough time for anyone to eat at a reasonable pace...especially a small 5-year-old's portion of food.  The meal went down hill from there.  She chewed the next bite for something like 9 minutes...pretended to swallow it and allow me to put another bite in her mouth which she chewed an additional 8 minutes and swallowed after I had completely lost my cool and yelled at her and removed her from the table and yelled at her again.

I really hate it when I yell at my kids.  I'm not the yelling type and I always know when my voice is raised to that extent and my teeth are gritting and I am balling my hands into fists, that I am hitting the pinnacle of my frustration.  It makes me cry if I get to the point of yelling at my kids.  And I don't like to cry in front of my kids, either.  I'm relieved that I hardly ever resort to striking my children (I can count on one hand the times in the last 3 years I've resorted to a swat on the bottom of any of my children), but I'm not so sure I'm proud of how much restraint that actually takes at times.

The timer ticked down the final five minutes or so and I took off to go on a walk with Sarah and Dani who had finished their food, without complaint, even (sometimes they finish, but they complain about it).  Helen was in all-out-sobbing-fit mode at this point.  I managed to tell her that it broke my heart that I couldn't take her on the walk and that I wanted to take her more than anything (and that was true), but that since she hadn't finished her dinner, we were going without her.  And then the tears started flowing as I walked out the door with the other two girls.  

I would like to note that were I to serve chips and dip, chicken tenders and french fries at every meal, I would never have a fight with any of my children about eating (okay...Dom would not eat the chicken tenders, but he'd eat the other stuff).  What is up with that?!?

And it's not like I've played short-order cook and then all of a sudden stopped doing that, either.  I think Sarah was the only toddler who got that kind of service and even then, we struggled because we wanted her to drink milk and she refused.  But since 2004, the entire family - parents and children - have been fed the same thing at dinner.

Am I the only person in the world that has picky toddlers?  I mean, I have heard of some families that have one picky kid or maybe two out of the lot.  But I have gone four-for-four here on unbearable toddler years with regards to consuming healthy food. 

I have considered that they've learned this behavior from each other since we've always allowed whoever the baby is, to sit in the high chair with the family at dinner time and "eat" with us whenever they start solids.  But I'm actually considering NOT allowing new baby boy to sit at the table and watch his picky older siblings (most likely the two closest to his age) refuse to eat what's set in front of them and give us a fight.  Perhaps if we bar him from the family dinnertime debacles and feed him individually until he is eating everything in sight...we can get a reprieve of this exhausting and aggravating problem.

After each dinnertime debacle, I feel like the biggest failure of a mother.  I know it's kind of silly and my hormones might have typed most of that last sentence...but seriously, it's a horrible feeling to wonder why your kid won't eat the food you put in front of them, over and over and over and over and over...

Have any of you ever dealt with this?  Any techniques that have helped you actually come through it with your sanity intact?  What do you think of my idea to keep new baby boy isolated at family dinnertime until we might be "safe" from continuing this problem?

I realize this isn't the most profound blog topic.  But it's seriously, really what is on my mind tonight.  I'm so tired of this problem. 

May 20, 2011

7 Quick Takes (3) Family Update Edition

A big thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting this each week.  I don't participate each week, but it's nice to fall back on when I need to post but don't have a "big" one or a "good" one going.  :)


My husband was promoted back in November.  This was a great thing.  The schedule has been a bit much to get used to, but I think we're finding a groove with it.  We thought we might have an opportunity to switch schedules with another person on more of a "day" shift, but the very day he was set to pursue the shift-switch, the powers-that-be put the kibosh on it by expressing some major confidence in my husband in his position and offering him an opportunity that meant he really needs to stay on this schedule.  Bittersweet, for sure.  But I'm really proud of him.  Further, he has been running and getting ready to run his very first 10K road race.  It will be in two weeks!  


Sarah turns 10 in about 8 weeks.  I promised her we'd have her party close to when school lets out because most of the girls are on vacation in the middle of July and can't make it.  But...have I planned it?  No.  I'm doing a bad job at being a Mommy with a daughter about to turn 10.  So, I need to throw something together in the next few weeks.  I'd prefer to have it on a night Craig is home from work, but she has softball practice or game on those nights.  Plus, I'm just not sure what kind of party to have.  She mentioned inviting all the girls over to watch a movie, hang out and eat pizza.  Then she mentioned buying out the Laser Tag place for a party. Talk about the extremes...right?


Dani is on her way to second grade next year.  This feels crazy to me.  I'm not sure why...she's going on 8 years old, it shouldn't feel crazy to me.  This summer, the plan is to get Dani swimming.  When Dani was 3, she had a traumatic experience in a wading pool that has kept her fairly fearful of the water.  But she has agreed to really commit to swimming lessons this summer and conquer her fear.  I hope it goes well.  I want all of my kids to enjoy being in the pool and to be safe doing so.  


Helen is going to be spending three days a week with her brother at the sitter this summer...and get this, she's excited about it!  She keeps saying how she can't wait to go.  I'm so glad she is at an age where this can be looked at as a great new adventure.  Additionally, I have got to get a handle on how to schedule and hold play dates.  All of my kids have suffered from the general busy-ness of our household.  I've felt a little bit better about it the more kids there are in the family to play with.  Nevertheless, Helen needs to be able to have a play date with her BFF.  Neither of my older two girls had a BFF relationship quite like the one Helen has with hers.  These two are simply adorable and they love each other so much.  They are a year apart, though, so play dates will become a must for these two to get some quality time together.  How do I do this?  I guess like I do everything else...gotta get it on the calendar...


Dominic does not want to potty-train.  He's ready, but he's stubborn.  And, I'm at the point where I don't have the patience to deal with his stubbornness.  Sunday morning, he woke up dry and I took him to the potty.  We stayed there almost 90 minutes until he FINALLY! went pee-pee in the potty!  We did a dance!  He got some candy!  We were all excited!  We were late to Mass (just he and I).  On Monday...what did that little stinker do?  Well, he heard me coming to get him out of bed and he went in his diaper immediately to avoid the whole scenario repeating itself.  Boo.  Otherwise, he is just a cutie-patootie!  


Baby boy is still being gestated.  I've hit the really uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy, but of course it hasn't phased him.  He kicks my ribs, pokes his fist in my side and moves around far too much to be this far along (ouch!!)  We have a name picked out, and I've told a few people in real life...but I guess I'm not ready to type it out on my blog or Facebook yet.  :)


And me.  Well, my job kind of stinks.  Well, okay.  It really stinks.  I know I shouldn't complain about having a job these days with the economy the way it is and the difficulty some have with even getting that far.  And, it pays the bills.  I'm a great fit for the work I do, but a terrible fit with the management team and culture of this company, I think.  What's sad is that the company is trying to do an overhaul of the culture and that takes a long time (especially given how entrenched the "bad" parts of the "old" culture are in this place).  I have started wondering just what I got myself into praying for Humility again, because lately, I've received my fair share of opportunity at work.  

I coached 4th-6th grade track and found I actually enjoyed it.  It surprises me the strength of the emotion I feel for children who are not my own offspring.  It kind of took me by surprise the intensity with which I rooted for them in their races.  And now, believe it or not, we've started working out volleyball practice schedules for the fall now and I realize that shortly after having this baby, I'll need to have my act together to coach 5th grade girls in volleyball.  Crazy days!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Head on over to Conversion Diary to check out more Quick Takes!

May 17, 2011

The Decisions I Won't Regret

I had the opportunity to talk with my husband's uncle and aunt at a party recently.  They have two beautiful daughters about 15 months apart who are now grown-up, successful adults (one is a doctor, but chooses to be home to mother her four children and the other is an attorney with her own practice).  Craig's aunt mentioned that there had been times she had wished they might have tried for one more child.  Through the discussion, I mentioned that when Craig and I have discussed our family, God's plan for how large it should be and such, one thing we've tried to keep in mind was that we would never regret having another child...but we might regret not being open to another child.  Both his uncle and aunt nodded and said that was a wise way to look at it, based on their experience.  These two people were/are very successful in their own careers and about to retire.  They enjoy their four grandchildren as much as any grandparents ever did and I'm fairly certain that they don't have much to regret, but even if they did have a slight regret about their family size - it is just that - slight and most likely fleeting. 

But as I think about our family and where we stand today, with four active children and number 5 kicking away at my ribs, I think about my chances to regret....and am surprised to find that I really don't regret much.

I do not regret my nervous discussion with Craig just about 11 years ago when I said I thought maybe we should try to have a baby.  Having children wasn't really on our radar when we got married, and I was relieved that the most resistance I received from Craig was, "But...I thought we weren't gonna do that."  

When Sarah came along, our lives changed dramatically.  What was important before her took a back seat to what was important now.  Particularly, Sarah's baptism into the Catholic faith was a major turning point for Craig and me to get down to business on knowing our faith so that we could pass it on to her.  I am not sure I could ever convey to Sarah just how very important she has been to her parents.  I'm quite certain that our acceptance of her was the catalyst to our acceptance to all the Grace and Blessings that could be bestowed on two people in the Sacrament of Marriage. 

I could probably write a post per child explaining the non-regret I have for each of them.  They have all brought something new and necessary to our family.  Watching them grow up together brings me more joy than any earthly experience I could ever imagine.

I do not regret my nervous discussion with Craig just about 10 years ago when I broached the subject of learning Natural Family Planning (NFP), which opened the doors to learning the Church's unwavering teaching regarding marriage and sexuality.  I do not regret tossing those pills, learning how to read my body's signals through its ongoing cycles, and giving a gift of my total self to my husband in our marriage.  That decision has been a waterfall of love and grace pouring down on my life, blessing me in my husband's love and devotion, showering me in plentiful hugs and kisses from my babies, and gifting me beyond measure as my children grow up into people who continue to teach me.  Without a doubt, the blessing of NFP in our marriage has been a savior of sorts...much like I cannot imagine where my life might have gone without Sarah entering into it, I cannot imagine what my life would be without NFP.

I do not regret putting our children in our parish's school.  While every education choice and decision comes with its ups and downs, our school has been a place of spiritual growth and cultivation for our children.  Our parish is a place I flee to when I need to confess and cling to when I need to pray.  We are so blessed by everyone we encounter at Mass, social gatherings, meetings and school functions.  There was a time in my life when if I had been asked if I would place my children in a Catholic school, I probably would have answered doubtfully.  (Maybe someday I'll write about that.  Maybe not.)  Truth be told, it took a VERY special place to turn my heart around on the subject, and I thank the Lord every day, for our parish and school, providing a place for my children to grow in love of Christ, learn beyond perceived potential and a place where they can daily express the deepest desires of their heart to be close to our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

When we moved 5 months ago, I was going through a closet and found a piece of paper on which I had written goals over the next five years back in 2001.  Of course, we're now 10 years past that, but it struck me funny how even in 2001, while I was expecting my first child and much of my worldview hadn't changed from before her conception...that the path I constructed with these goals still lined up with what had happened over those five years.  

One of the goals was that we'd have three kids.  That one made me smile...because apparently, as soon as I grasped the idea of a blessing of one child, I jumped immediately to three (but it was clear from the goals I wrote, that three was the max...in 2001, at least).  One of the goals was to have completed my MBA.  One of the goals was to have met a certain salary requirement.  

Amazingly, even though I'd forgotten about this slip of paper with these 5-year-plan goals...I had met all of them.  We had Dani in 2003 and Helen in 2006 (3 kids in 5 years).  I graduated with my MBA in 2003.  And I had attained the salary that I had set out to attain by the year 2004.

My only sort-of-sad observation was that none of these goals I had written had anything to do with my spiritual life or growing deeper in my faith.  

Maybe what I should take from it is this:  It was never up to me in the first place.

Even though I didn't set out at any one point in time to get closer to God, I was still pulled in that direction.  And quite possibly the reason I don't regret anything I have written about here, is because I can see how it's all led to the one place I want to be more than anything...closer to being in union with God.

May 14, 2011

The Blogger Fiasco

Well, Blogger seems to have eaten up all the comments to my last post and some to the post before that.  What a pain in the butt.  I haven't ever used anything except Blogger, so I don't know what it entails to move to a different service (i.e., Wordpress).  This is only the first time I have been affected by something like this, but it really kind of stinks!

Anyway, my weekend is comprised of going to work on Saturday -- Boo!  We have a Business Resumption/Disaster Recovery exercise today.  Sarah has softball practice and then I have to take her shopping to get the remainder of her gear for the games which start on Monday!  Holy cow...done with track and into Softball.  But I think the games will be completed by the end of June, which works out well with a baby coming in July.

We'll go to Mass this afternoon and so far tomorrow is looking free and clear.  So we will clean house.  LOL

I hope you all have a blessed weekend.

May 13, 2011

My Bottlefeeding and Breastfeeding Post

As I get ready to give birth to another baby, I find myself pondering my feelings about breastfeeding and about formula feeding.  I reflect a bit about my sisters in motherhood and the judgements that come so easily.

When I was pregnant with Sarah, if anyone asked me if I would breastfeed her, the answer was a resounding, "Of course!" or "Certainly."  I mean, what educated woman DIDN'T breastfeed her baby in the 21st century.  Everyone knows that BREAST IS BEST.  It's NATURAL.  It's inexpensive.  The baby will be healthier.  The baby will be smarter.  I was going to give my baby the best start!

When Sarah was born, she had to have some sort of suctioning procedure done (meconium in the amniotic fluid) immediately after she was born and the hospital where I delivered her cleaned her and did all sorts of stuff before I got a chance to breastfeed her.  At the time, it didn't seem to be the biggest problem...she latched on when we finally did get to nurse and stayed latched on fairly well.  The hospital didn't bring her to me every three hours or anything to establish a nursing routine or regimen while I was there, however, but it seemed we were doing okay with nursing.  My milk hadn't come in by the time I left the hospital, but no one seemed concerned.

The first night at home with my first newborn baby was...how do I say this? ... hell.  Craig and I were new parents and we were alone with our baby and we didn't know what to do with her.  I tried to get her to nurse, but she screamed and carried on.  She wouldn't latch on...and if she did, nothing was coming so she got impatient (it seemed) and arched her back and cried.  She was wetting her diapers, so we weren't all that worried, yet.  The next day a home health nurse came to check on us and Sarah had dropped a lot of weight...well, duh...the poor child hadn't been fed!  So, we got a pump and I started pumping (I was engorged) and we gave her a bottle.  She took the bottle immediately and seemed to guzzle what was in there.  She was starving.  We made it through three weeks by the sheer grace of God.  I really don't think new parents can begin to be prepared for those first few weeks with a new baby for the first time.  It's unreal.

For those three weeks, we tried and tried to nurse at the breast.  However, my let-down was so slow, that Sarah didn't seem to have the patience for me.  I was a wreck emotionally.  This breastfeeding thing did NOT feel "natural" and I was starting to not give a flip whether it was supposed to make Sarah smarter or not, I was losing my sanity.  I cried every time Sarah rejected my breast.  I sobbed as I held the pump on my breasts and felt like a cow being milked. 

By the 4-week check-up, Craig and I had decided that maybe we might have to try formula.  I was a mess emotionally.  While I was completely in love with my baby girl, I was feeling like a complete failure that breastfeeding wasn't working out.  I was guilt-ridden at the idea that I wasn't going to give my baby the best start ever.  Thankfully, the pediatrician was understanding, educated us on formulas (in the US, it's regulated and they all have the same stuff - "check the labels, you'll see" - and said, save some money and grab the Wal-mart brand) and told us we were doing a fabulous job, that Sarah was growing very well and we'll see you at 2 months.

What I wasn't prepared for in this decision was the judgmental attitudes among other mothers.  It was incredible.  As she would care for my daughter on occasion, my own sister would make comments about "that nasty formula stuff" and how breastfed babies' diapers don't stink, but her smelled like that "gross formula stuff"!  And my sister wasn't even a mother yet.  I would get disappointing glances and outright judgements from other moms about how I just didn't want to sacrifice for my child.  I was taking the EASY way out.  My child would be sick. 

My experience with breastfeeding Sarah was so traumatic that I didn't even attempt to breastfeed Danielle.  I didn't discuss it with anyone.  And while the judgments still hurt, I didn't linger on them.  But the guilt remained.  However, I was feeling guilty at the time about more than not breastfeeding.

I'd succumbed to the judgments also, about the fact that I worked outside the home, and THAT made me a poor mother, too.  Even though my children were at home with their father and in their own home all the time, it wasn't good enough.  I had one woman tell me that perhaps God hadn't truly called me to marriage and to be a mother if He hadn't provided an environment where I could stay home with my babies and had to rely on my husband.  Over time I learned to appreciate that God calls women and men to the vocation of marriage and parenthood in all sorts of circumstances.  But it took me a long time and lots of tears to get to that point.

When I was pregnant with Helen, we were toying with the idea of figuring out if we could survive on Craig's full-time salary as a casino craps dealer.  I would try to stay home with the kids, and I would have to figure this breastfeeding thing out.  Before Helen was born, the ship had sailed on the dream of me being a stay-at-home mom.  My income was 65% of our household's income...there was no way to make it work.  But I was still committed to breastfeeding.

I'm happy to report that Helen and I had a strong nursing relationship.  Of all of my children, Helen is the most "like" me personality-wise and she was content at my breast waiting for my ultra-slow let-down.  My biggest problem was pumping at work because it took so long for let-down that I often was taking too long of breaks to complete this task.

I co-slept with Helen at night and that helped for the time that we nursed.  (And...I learned that breastfed baby poop stunk, too.  Sure, it stunk differently, but it wasn't like smelling roses or anything!)  I nursed her for 4.5 months.  I could have gone longer, but the pumping was really getting to me.  And, unlike many other moms...I didn't lose weight while breastfeeding...my body held on to an extra 20 pounds until I weaned Helen.  Helen took to formula just fine however.  And I felt a lot of relief regarding my commitments at work to be freed from the commitment to pump twice every day.

With Dominic, I only had 6 weeks of time off work and I knew that trying to get a breastfeeding relationship established in that amount of time would be very difficult.  Formula had worked well with our other kids and since Craig was home with the babies during the day, it was just as well that he be able to get that schedule going from the beginning.

This time, I will be able to be off work for 12 weeks.  I am contemplating nursing the baby.  It will probably be a "game time" decision.  This is my first baby that will have to go to a sitter for three days a week when I go back to work.  While it's in a home setting, and I'm very comfortable with it, it's still hard because before these promotions that Craig has received this year, he was always able to be in the home while I was at work and the babies were not exposed to germs and other kids before the age of 2 or so.  Dominic started going to the babysitter right before he turned 2 and that's the earliest any of my children have been cared for outside of the home.

I now have an almost 10-year-old daughter who was formula fed and has proven to be a well-behaved, well-adjusted, intelligent little girl.  I know that giving her formula didn't make her stupid and it didn't make her ill-behaved.  She had her first ear infection at the age of 4 after a swim lesson where she got a lot of water in her ear and she never got sick as an infant and hardly gets sick now.

I also have an 8-year-old who was formula-fed and she has proven to be sweet-tempered, well-behaved and smart, too.  Dani, again, seldom sick...so formula feeding her didn't "make" her any less healthy.

My Helen had some breastfeeding and some formula and ... let's just say, she's no dummy and she's very well-adjusted.  She was the one child who had ear infection after ear infection while I breastfed her.  Ultimately, she had tubes inserted and finally had the tubes removed along with her tonsils and adenoids. I often mention this to people who ask me if my "poor" children whom I didn't breastfeed have a lot of illness:  Um...no.  And the one child I did breastfeed was the most sickly of all.

Dominic is 2.5 now and he also hasn't been ill often either.   

There are some stubborn judgmental people who still scoff at me and say, "Well, there are exceptions to everything" or "Well, you're so lucky it's worked out that way for you" and stuff like that.  I don't berate the choice of other women to breastfeed their babies.  I support it and am very happy that many women are able to have it work for them.  I did it myself and while it hasn't always been the way I've done things, I look back fondly on the time I was able to breastfeed one of my babies.  I especially admire those work-outside-the-home moms who exclusively breastfeed for a year.  Wow, that's awesome!  I know that the pumping thing was just not something I could endure long-term and those moms who sacrifice in that manner truly are saints.

I didn't really write this to sway anyone for or against either breastfeeding or formula feeding.  I'm about to have another baby and the questions had started coming in my real life about whether I would breastfeed or not.  Truth be told, it would be a no-brainer for me if I were going to be able to either work only part-time or not at all...I would try to breastfeed.  But at this point in time, it looks like I'll be returning to my full-time job at a non-friendly workplace (toward motherhood anyway).  But I'm still considering it.  If I only had 6 weeks off again this time, it would be a no-brainer that I'd usd formula.  But I have 12 weeks...so I'm thinking about it (going the breastfeeding route, at least for a time).

I also wanted to write it because I've seen a lot lately either on internet forums or on other blogs discussing breastfeeding (among other parenting decisions) and it has weighed on me to get my perspective out there.  

Craig and I have always simply done whatever we've had to do to raise our family.  I feel blessed that our decisions have included such a wide variety of things on the parenting spectrum.  I think it gives us a well-rounded background of things that will work and helps us to trust our ability to handle multiple situations and different types of children.  It's helped us to trust each other, too.

UPDATE:  When Blogger "went down for maintenance" yesterday, I had 8 comments on this post.  Unfortunately, it seems those did not make it through whatever maintenance was performed on Blogger.  My apologies.

May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Reflection

Have I ever mentioned that my parents divorced when I was 8 years old?  Just wondering if I'd ever mentioned that before.

Mother's Day is one of those awkward days for me.  None of the cards say what I would say to my own mother.  I rarely even shop for a card anymore.  The sentiment just isn't quite right in most of the cards on the shelf.  

Even as I work through the pain and resentment I have regarding my mom-issues (like I did with my dad-issues), I actually had a little break through this Mother's Day.

I thought about all the things my mom did right and tried not to think of the things I resented.  And, I must admit, I can list reasons to admire, respect and love my mom.

1)  While we were growing up, my mom never had a boyfriend.  Seriously.  My mom did not date strange men while she raised the five of us by herself.  One could argue she simply didn't have time for all that.  But I believe it was purposeful.  Have you ever watched the news and seen horrible stories about abused kids who land in the hospital?  Or even those worst-case scenarios where a child has been beaten to death?  Have you ever paid attention to how many of the abusers were "the mother's boyfriend"?  Looking back, I believe it was absolutely intentional that my mother didn't date...she couldn't bear the thought of someone sexually molesting her daughters, or beating her children.  

2)  My mom worked her you-know-what off.  My mom had to care for the five of us, go to nursing school full-time, buy the groceries, pay the bills.  No matter how much I want to focus on ways she screwed any of that up...the truth of the matter is that 98% of the time, she did the right thing and she did the best she could do.  Sure, there were hiccups along the way...she lost her mind and lashed out at us in anger.  But when I think about the fact that the woman was trying to take care of five stubborn, loud-mouth, high-energy kids while she was trying to learn Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesthetics, Statistics, pay the bills, keep her own sanity and so on...well, I doubt I could be 100% loving 100% of the time either.

3)  My mom made sure I made it to swim meets growing up...every weekend...every practice.  My mom made sure we made it to all volleyball games and basketball games and track meets as we got older.  She never made excuses like, "I really have to study for my exams, you're going to have to miss your game" and she never made us feel bad for having a game when she really should have been at the library.  And she always cheered us on and was happy no matter HOW POORLY we might have played that day.  No matter what, we were the best players on the court.  No matter what, she was sure to tell everyone how proud of us she was.

I could probably think of more, but those are the things I am thinking about right now.  I think it's good for me to remember that my mom didn't get a manual for raising children that came with each of us just like I didn't get a manual for raising my own children.  She is a human being who was bound to make some mistakes...just like I make mistakes.  I can't hold a grudge or remain angry with my mother over things that hurt me as a child and memories that rear their ugly heads every now and again.  Even with some bad experiences and some hurts, I can still see that my mother loved me and my siblings more than anything.  She sacrificed so much.  Sure, it's not like she CHOSE to sacrifice the way she did and chances are she'd never CHOOSE to do it all over again.  But, she did what the Lord asks us all to do...she picked up her cross and she carried it...with Grace.


My mother called me on Saturday.  We talked for a little bit.  I was exhausted as we'd had a track meet that morning and I didn't really feel like talking.  But I talked to her anyway.  We had a nice chat and wished each other a Happy Mother's Day.  I thought about the fact that maybe Mother's Day is an awkward day for her, too.  

Anyway, after we hung up, my cell phone rang again and it was my mom's number...she must have forgotten something.  I picked it up and said "hello" but my mother wasn't talking to me.  I heard her talking to her husband (apparently I was "butt-dialed" LOL).  And she was singing my praises.  She was telling her husband what a great mom I was.  She was telling him that she needed to call me and tell me that she knew I was a terrific mom.  She was listing all I have going on right now, "I mean, you know...she has those four kids and one on the way...and she's coaching Sarah in track.  I mean, she's coaching LOTS of kids, not even just Sarah!  And she works full-time!  She is so busy!!"

And it was right then all of a sudden that I realized that I do all I do because I watched my mom handle so much on her own.  The tables could be turned...it could be me telling people about my own mom..."I mean, she had five kids and she had to take care of them all by herself.  She takes care of the grocery-shopping and the bill-paying and she takes them all to swim meets, and ball games.  oh yeah, and she goes to nursing school full-time!!  She is so busy!!!"

Maybe I need to lay to rest all the "demons" in the form of memories that do nothing but serve to stir up feelings of resentment toward a woman who sacrificed much for me and my siblings.  Sure, my childhood wasn't perfect.  But those are my crosses and Jesus walks with me as I carry them.  I learned some valuable lessons about raising children - what to do and what I wouldn't choose to do.  

But it's obvious that I learned some really great things from my mom.  I learned to sacrifice my wants and desires and needs for others.  I learned to carry my cross.  And I learned to find ways to be happy even when sorrow abounds.

I learned how to love...from my mother.