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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Cute/Gross Toddler Activities

At 21 months, McKenna is a busy, active, and curious toddler, like most kids her age. I try hard not to be a helicopter parent and stifle her curiosity. I let her explore the house on her own a lot more than I used to, trusting that she will avoid drinking from the dogs' water bowl or playing in the hamper of soiled cloth diapers. And usually, she does. Sometimes though, I catch her doing something that is downright gross. Some of her recent follies include:

- Twiddling the dogs' jowls and checking for canine cavities. I caught her second knuckle-deep into our German Shepherd's mouth this morning. When I came around the corner and saw what she was doing, she looked up at me innocently, before proceeding to lick her fingers clean. All-gone plaque!

- "Helping" clean up after a particularly messy diaper change. While I do not discourage her from exploring any and all parts of her body, there is a time and a place for these explorations. And that time is not while I am hastily wiping green-brown poo from her legs.

- Getting down on all fours and helping clean up a spilled mess with her tongue. She's at the age now where she mimics everything. I guess she thought she was pretty clever getting her share of the spill before her canine siblings got to it. And a puddle of Diet Coke is hard to pick up with your fingers, after all.

- Insisting on using her father's bloody tissues to wipe her mouth and face. All. The. Time.

- Waiting until she is waist-deep in the tub before realizing she needs to poop. I know, they all do that, but really!?

- Trying to figure out why the daddy long-legs she tried to consume won't stop wiggling in her mouth. The look on her face is not one that I will forget anytime soon - a mixture of surprise, shock, and "oops!"

It is the job of the toddler to be a budding scientist and explore the world around them, trying to establish cause-and-effect. I know that her frontal lobes will not mature for another 20 years, and her ability to predict the consequences of her actions will remain poor for quite some time. Every day is an adventure in our house, as we try to protect her from the truly harmful, while allowing her to make the every day mistakes that will lead to her growth and confidence. Now, if only my gag reflex could take a back seat for the next few years...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Parenting Philosophies

The other day, I picked up my latest in a long line of parenting books - Kids are Worth It, by Barbara Coloroso. So far, I am agreeing with a lot of what I am reading, and wishing that I had picked it up sooner. Coloroso advocates reflecting on your 'parenting philosophy'; ideally this is done before the baby comes. Which got me thinking: Do I have a parenting philosophy? If so, what is it?

Since becoming a mom, I have spent a great deal of time researching and solidifying my beliefs about what I will not do (like CIO and spanking), without really contemplating what I would like to do. So far, most of my parenting decisions have been framed with an emphasis on what I am trying to avoid, rather than what I am trying to work towards.

So what is my parenting philosophy? I think that, deep down, what I am striving for is that in every interaction, she would come away feeling good about herself, about our relationship, and about her own power to affect change in her life. I want my daughter to feel loved, cherished and valued, even when I don't agree with her actions or decisions. I want my daughter to grow up to be kind, compassionate, responsible, and appropriately independent. These are the outcomes that I am working towards, and the reason that I parent in the way that I do. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Reminiscing about my imperfect, completely unnatural birth

I have posted about this before (see McKenna's Birth Story), but the past couple of months, it has been weighing heavily on my mind. I had a shitty birth experience. I am not alone in having a less-than-ideal birth experience, and mine certainly wasn't as bad as some stories I have heard. But it is my experience, and one that I am still struggling with.

I am tired of hearing people say "well, your baby's healthy, that's all that matters", because that's a lie. Of course it is important to have a healthy baby, but that doesn't mean that the birth experience is nothing more than a means to an end. For some people the birth process is incredibly important. I was one of those women. I had read all the books, hired a doula, practiced mindful birthing and self-hypnosis. I couldn't wait to finally meet my daughter, but I was also excited for the experience of birthing her. No other moment in my life has been, or will be, as monumental as giving birth. And then came the news: She was breech, and I was not a candidate to try and birth her naturally because my body was "inexperienced". My heart stopped (metaphorically, of course). Never had I considered the possibility that my daughter would quite literally be ripped from my uterus. I had envisioned this peaceful, quiet, serene experience, where I would lie back in the tub while sipping Gatorade and munching on granola bars to keep my energy up. Never had I considered that I might be paralysed from the chest down (the scariest feeling ever!), strapped to a table, and deprived of seeing my daughter's first breath. I wasn't the first one to hold her, I didn't get to supervise her newborn exam, and I wasn't able to emotionally bond with her right away. Thinking about that night still brings me to tears.

Has it harmed our relationship? Probably not - I was able to nurse her within the first hour of her birth, we co-slept from a very early age, and our bond is as strong as it could possibly be. But I have not been able to move past it. Sometimes I think about having another baby, not because I am ready for another child, but so that I can have a do-over, so that maybe this time around I can experience the "real thing". I listen with thinly-veiled jealousy to friends speak of their birth experiences, no matter how painful or uncomfortable they might have been. I gaze longingly at photos of homebirthing couples, trying to recall feeling some of the wonder and joy that I see in their faces. But it was never there. There was nothing magical, joyful, or remotely peaceful about the way that McKenna entered into the world. No amount of reading could have prepared me for the trauma of having to be a helpless, passive observer in the birth of my child.

It has been nearly 14 months since my precious girl made her appearance, and I am still struggling with the circumstances of her birth. When and how I am to move past this experience are questions that I still don't have the answers to. Hopefully someday soon I will.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Christmas 2012

McKenna's birthday falls a couple of weeks before Christmas. Being her first birthday, she wasn't overly excited about it, and she already has more than a lot of children, so this year we decided to give her birthday presents to a local charity that passes them along to needy families at Christmas. While everyone thought we were being very generous, secretly we were just too cheap to buy replacement batteries for the 5,000 electronic toys she was guaranteed to get. Her birthday came and went with a party at a local daycare (which she hated), gifts from us (which I ended up unwrapping), and a birthday dinner (which she threw to the dogs). My daughter is truly a gift.

Over Christmas, on the other hand, she seemed to really come out of her shell. She played with her older cousins (as much as a 1-year-old can), ate cheesies by the fistful, and actually helped with the unwrapping of her gifts. This was also when she really got the hang of walking - she saw all of her older cousins running around, and something seemed to click, and she started walking independently that night. It was pretty neat. Experiencing Christmas through the eyes of my daughter was truly amazing. Her excitement over unwrapping a new Bubble Guppies story was contagious, her giggles when she first crawled through her inflatable play tunnel were adorable, and her favourite part of Christmas... unwrapping the packs of squeezable fruit. Words cannot express how much that kid adores pureed fruit packs. Although we didn't get to spend it with our families, we created some new traditions with our precious daughter. It was truly a Christmas to remember.

My 2013 Resolutions

1. You know that old saying "Shit or get off the pot"? Well, I resolve to shit. What I mean by that is that I resolve to stop whining about wanting to lose that last bit of weight. Unfortunately, bitching doesn't burn as many calories as it ought to, so back to the gym I go.

2. To be more present with my daughter. Too often when she is playing quietly with her toys, I am reading, watching tv, or cutting my toenails, instead of connecting with her. Those damn toenails are guaranteed to grow back, but I will never get that time back that I could have been spending with her.

3. To accept that "good" is good enough. The house will never be spotless, there will always be dishes to wash, and clothes will continue to get dirty. Instead of stressing and apologizing over the state of my house, I resolve to relax a little. Twenty years from now, McKenna won't care whether or not I vacuumed her room every day (I do!), but she will care about the quality time that she spent with me.

4. To take care of my daughter's mother.When I eat a Super-Sized Bacon Deluxe Combo with extra cheese five days in a row I'm not just affecting my health, I'm affecting my daughter's future.

5. To laugh more.