Monday, May 27, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties Learns on the Potty

Anna is potty trained.*

*Mostly.  Not at night or naps, and not when she's really excited when playing with her friends and forgets she has to go.  Let it be here documented that I am not bragging that my child is perfectly potty trained at two and a half.  Got it, karma? Good.  

It's been about a week now, and potty training has been as... I thought it would be, which is to say it has been a great learning experience for a woman in her thirties.  Here are a few pearls of wisdom that I've picked up along the way, which I think apply to life in general:

1.  If she ain't ready, don't bother.

I didn't buy a single potty training book, in stark contrast to my collection on sleep, discipline, and emotional health for children.  A good friend told me awhile back, 'You will know when she's ready.  Don't push it-- let her lead.'  That is what I did.  And do you know what it did for me?  It made me into less of a psycho crazy person.  I'm going to start doing this whole let-other-people-lead thing a lot more often.

2.  Poop happens.

Yup, it does.  Keep the wipes handy.  A package in the car, a package in the kitchen, and a package on your person at all times.  This also applies to whatever proverbial wipes you might carry with you, for your proverbial poop.

3.  It's not a contest.

It is so easy to fall into comparisons with other parents over children's accomplishments.  I am just as guilty as anyone else.  But I think it's important to remember, before you get caught up in comparisons, that it's poop we're talking about when it comes to potty training.  Poop.  And when we get right down to it, isn't it all just poop?  I mean, really?

4.  Sometimes it is inconvenient to wear your big girl panties.

Sometimes you just want to put on your diaper and not have one more thing to think about.  But you know what happens when you do that?  You swish when you walk.  You feel bad about yourself for not giving yourself a chance to succeed.  Buck up and put on your big girl panties.

5.  You have plenty of time.

One of the reasons potty training was even on my radar was because Anna's preschool requires her to be potty trained by the Fall.  I talked to a few people and realized the rules are extreeeeemly bendable, but I still had it in my mind that we had a deadline, and Fall is just around the corner.

And I could feel the psycho crazy person coming, because the deadline was looming, and other kids Anna's age were doing it, and time is tick-tick-ticking away, and I haven't thought for a second about Aaron's first birthday party, and remember last year at this time, and what if self-publishing is a horrible mistake......

And then I breathed.  And let her take the lead.  And stopped comparing.  And I put on my big girl panties and made it happen.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Woman in Her Thirties on the Eleventh Month

Dear Mister B,

In keeping with tradition, your 'holy moley my baby is another month older' post is going to be a list of eleven things I thought you might like to know about you. Don't worry-- I'm saving all my mushy sentimentality for four weeks from now, when suddenly you will be an entire year old.  Sniff.  

1.  You are a flirt.

Like, in the worst way.  I cannot walk through Target, into school to pick up Anna, or even through a parking lot without you finding someone to give them this look:

Do you see what I'm talking about ?  The eyes.  The lips.  It's a real problem.

2.  You are a talker.

Anna was such an early talker (and late, late walker), that I thought for sure I'd have the opposite in you.  Nope.  Your first word was, of course, Da Da.  You've moved on to Ba Ba and Ma Ma... and it's loud, Mister.  Loud.

3. You still don't have any teeth.

Just like your sister.  Anna didn't cut her first tooth until she was 11.5 months old.  So, by my calculations, you've got another couple weeks of smiles that look like this:

4.  You are a scooter.

Yup.  Just like Anna, and just like your Mom.  Is it the genes or the hardwood floors?  Who's to say for sure.  All I know is that your preferred method of getting around is on your rear end, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't give me the tiniest bit of pleasure:

5. You don't love to eat.

It's the strangest thing.  I've got a slew of new foods for you to try all the time, and I always get this look when you take your first few bites:

I'm fairly sure that, if it were up to you, you'd have milk and oatmeal three meals a day, every day.  Buddy, we are a family of eaters.  This is unacceptable.

6. Your hair.

I realize this isn't really a fact about you, so maybe I'll illustrate with a photo.
Your Dad keeps saying that we need to cut it, but I'm afraid to.  Not just because of your giant cowlick (thanks, Uncle J!) but also because you are so squirmy I'm not sure you'd sit still long enough to make it look presentable.  Plus, it's a great conversation piece.  

7.  You still look like me.

I can't believe it.  Eleven months, and still have never been asked when I 'got back with you'.  

8.  You look like Anna.

Which is perplexing.  You look like me while also looking like your sister who looks mostly like her Dad.  But I do see it sometimes, and people comment on it, so it must be true:

9.  You are sleeping... better.

Which is to say that Momma is no longer anxiety-ridden around bedtime.  I can count on a few fingers how many times you've slept through the night, which is an improvement on last month. I'll take it.  But you know what I'd also take?  MORE SLEEP.  

10.  You are Mr. Buddy.

I'm afraid that this is a nickname that's going to be around for awhile.  We've all taken to calling you that, in one form or another.  (Mister B is also a popular one.)  It's better than Yoda, right?  Mister?  Mister Buddy? 

11. You are also Mr. Independent.

I don't think I would appreciate your independence as much if Anna hadn't been so... well, let's just say that I have never dropped you off at the gym or with your Grandparents or with anyone else for that matter and worried that you will scream the whole time.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Part of me wonders if you even know I've gone.  But then I return and you look at me like this:

And I'm reminded that yes, you do love me.  A lot.  You have just already figured out that the world has a lot more excitement in it than just your plain old Mom.  

That excitement about life is what I love most of all in you, my eleven month old little man.  You bring it out in me, too.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties Gets a New Toy

A woman in her thirties likes her new toy very much.... and I'm guessing I'll like it more once I figure out all the cool stuff it can do!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties Equinox

Yesterday I turned 35.  WOWZA.  Thirty-five is... well, it's a lot older than I was when I thought I was 'getting sooooooo old' in my twenties.  I'm not a big birthday person, and I'm not sad in the least about getting older.  But I do think birthdays are a time of reflection, and yesterday I found myself reflecting on the best advice I ever received.  Here goes:

I swam on a swim team for ten years.  Despite being a strong swimmer, I was never a fast one.  Actually, I was almost always the slowest in my age group.  For ten years.  That's a long time to be the slowest at anything.  I have memories of it bothering me when I was very young, but as I got older I accepted it for what it was.  I had lots of friends, lots of fun, and WAY too much sun for my years:

Take a moment and soak in this picture.  Just soak it all in.  

We used to do these drills in swim practice called 'hypoxics'.  Basically, it was controlled breathing.  Lap one you would take five breaths, then four, then three, etc., until you got to the final lap where you didn't take any breaths at all.  Like I said, I was never awesome at swimming.  But I ruled those hypoxics.  

Until it got to the final lap.  

For some reason, that last lap with no breaths was too daunting for me. I couldn't do it.  I'd get within a few strokes of the wall and take a breath, telling myself I just couldn't do it.  It was too hard.

One morning, my swim coach, JR, pulled me aside.  JR must have been about nineteen years old, but to me he seemed ancient.  He was also an incredibly fast swimmer, and we all admired him.  (I wonder whatever happened to him?)  He was not interested in hearing me complain about not being able to make my last hypoxic drill.  At all.

'Why did you breathe?!'  I remember him demanding.

'I... I just...couldn't do it...' I said as I adjusted my swim cap.

He rolled his eyes and knelt down next to the wall.  'Yes,' he said sternly. 'You can.'

'I can't,' I repeated.  Everyone else can, I could have continued.  But I can't.

'Of course you can,' he said.  'Just don't breathe!'

Something clicked within me in that moment.  I can't say what.  Something very primal.  I think about that moment all the time, considering I am a woman in her thirties who tends to oversimplify things.  I think this was the moment when I realized (most) things really are that simple.  

Do it.  Or in this case, don't do it.  Make a choice and make it happen.  

I have used this advice in thousands of ways throughout my thirty-five years.  Quit my job?  Write a book?  Move to China?  Move again?  And again?  Take a chance?  Take a risk?  Don't breathe.  

Now, more than ever, this advice sticks with me.  A woman in her thirties at the middle of her decade takes a moment to consider how far she's come and how far she's still going to go.  I might be thirty-five, but I'm still that swimmer in the pool, still questioning my next steps, still forming a picture of what I want the future to look like.

And choosing to make it happen.  Choosing not to breathe.