The Mom in Me

That’s My Name

As much as I detest trolls, sometimes I grudgingly have to admit their asinine comments make me pause and consider.

Such was the troll that left this comment on Maria’s (BOREDMommy) blog the other day:

Why is it that you call yourselves “mommies”? It’s infantile, like being called a girl instead of a woman. If giving birth (or adopting) and raising a child is so important, why don’t you insist on the dignity of the word “parent”? Or “mother” — if you insist on focusing on gender as well? I am a parent and I was “mommie” only to my children and then only when they were young. No wonder men and childfree women don’t take you seriously: You are endlessly self-absorbed, boring, juvenile, and have nothing to say for yourselves beyond your reproductive status and childrearing.

OK, I have to admit that my first thought was, ‘*snort* Wow…..bitter much?’

But then I stopped.  Do I mind being called a ‘Mommy’ or even lumped in with ‘Mommy bloggers’?

You know… I really don’t.

To me ‘mother’ or even ‘parent’ is a cold, impersonal, standoffish word.

And Vista never refers to me as ‘Mother’.  Ever.  That would just be weird.

To her I’m ‘Mama’ and ‘Mommy’.  So do I associate with that name?  You bet.  Because, as far as my 2 year old is concerned, that is my name.  I have no other identity other than Mommy.  She doesn’t know me as Jenn, same as she doesn’t know Daddy as Bil.  We are Mommy and Daddy.

And I love the simplicity of that.

To me it’s not infantile, it’s innocence at it’s very best.  It speaks to a time when your parents are not adults put on this earth for the express purpose of oppressing you.  It is that sweet time between self awareness and total independence when your child reaches for you to know they are safe, secure, loved.

In time, I’m sure my name will morph. It’ll go from Mommy, to Mom, to OMG! MoooooooooommmmmmGawdYou’reEmbarassingME!

But right now, I’m thrilled to be Mommy.  And I couldn’t possibly think of a sweeter sound than my daughter calling my name.

Are you proud to be a Mommy too?  Head over to BOREdMommy’s site and link up your own post.

Just call me Dr. Mom

I’m beginning to realize that last winter we really lucked out.

Vista was for the most part healthy and didn’t come down with a lot of colds or sickness.

This year… *sigh*  Is a different story.

As soon as she gets over one cold, we get a week off before she starts getting  sick again.

Bil and I are so over it.

v asthma spacer Just call me Dr. MomThe whining,  the hysterics every time she sneezes, the being up all night because her nose is runny and that is an absolute crisis in her world.

And with every round of being sick has come a round of croup.  Except I don’t think it’s croup.  I think  it’s the start of asthma.

So with this latest round of sickness she’s back on inhalers.

There are a few things you learn very quickly when you have a child who is chronically ill.  That is to trust your instincts, trust that you know your child better than any doctor, and that doctors are not infallible.

I spend a large part of my days, when something new comes up, reading medical journals online.  Researching, cross referencing, eliminating possibilities.

When Vista was little, and her doctors insisted that she was fine and just slow to develop because she was a preemie, this research got them to agree to do an MRI (against their better judgment – they were just humoring me, you understand).   But mother’s instinct didn’t fail me and the doctors were shocked when her scan revealed a brain malformation and missing pieces.

And when I suggested when she was only 3 months old, that she might have a milk allergy, which was summarily dismissed by all her doctors… well, I should have listened to my mother’s instinct then.  By the time she was a year old, her GI specialist grudgingly agreed that she might have an *mild intolerance*.  Months of food diaries and elimination diets revealed a severe milk allergy.  Bad enough that she couldn’t even eat beef and a kiss on the cheek from someone who had just had a drink of coffee with creamer in it would leave an angry red mark on her skin.

Now I’m preparing  to do battle on the asthma front.

This time I have my own experience to draw from, though.

As a kid, I was diagnosed with croup over and over.

I had chronic bronchial infections.  There were years I was on antibiotics 11 months out of the year.

But it wasn’t until I was a teenager that a doctor finally shook his head, handed me an inhaler, and sent me for asthma testing, which confirmed  the diagnosis.

See, the problem was, even in the midst of an asthma attack, I don’t get the tell tale bronchial spasms that are what most doctors use to diagnose asthma.

After Vista’s coughing attack at Christmas that left her breathless and blue, we found out she doesn’t get bronchial spasms either. But the attack she had was a carbon copy of what my asthma attacks used to be like.

So, now, once again I am researching, reading, and preparing to make my case before the judge doctor.

Before You Judge My Parenting Skills…

When you see my child having a complete throw-down temper tantrum in the store, please don’t assume she’s just spoiled and throwing a fit because I won’t buy her something.

When you see my child crying and me standing there not comforting her, please don’t assume it’s because I’m an unfeeling parent.

When you see my child sitting in a restaurant watching a DVD player or playing with an iTouch with headphones in her hears as she watches videos, please don’t assume we are bad parents who sit our child in front of the TV all day.

When you see my child walking through the mall with a backpack leash on, please don’t assume it’s because I’m a lazy parent who can’t control my toddler.

We live in a reality very different from yours.

A store with lots of smells and noise quickly causes sensory overload for my daughter.  She screams and yells and lashes out and throws herself at me because she has no other way of dealing with her overwhelmed senses.

When she is crying and upset, sometimes it is also because of sensory overload.  For me to pick her up, touch her, comfort her with words, would just add to the sensory stimulation and make the situation worse.  So I stand next to her.  Not touch her.  Not saying anything.  And wait for her to start to calm.  Then I quickly try to refocus her attention on something pleasant for her.

You may see me at this point hand her the iTouch.  It’s not because I don’t want to deal with her.  It’s because after two years of trial and error, we have found an iTouch loaded with coloring / counting / alphabet games and her favorite videos is an effective escape for her.  She is able to focus on it and shut out the external sensory stimulation and therefore calm herself.

A restaurant with loud background music, people talking, weird lighting, is especially overstimulating.  Without a DVD or iTouch to block the sounds and sights, we have less than 5 minutes before you will she her with hands over her ears screaming “TOO LOUD!” over and over.  Then she will start yelling and signing “All done.  All done!”.  Her way of letting us know she needs to get out of that situation and it is too much for her.  Yes, we could lock ourselves in our house and never take her out to a restaurant.  But we want to experience things in her way.  So we choose to use distractions to allow us all to enjoy a meal out without disturbing the other patrons.

And when you see us walking with Vista and she has her backpack leash on it’s not because we have no control over her.  Exactly the opposite.  But to hold our hands in a mall setting is too overstimulating.  The sights, sounds, lights plus the added sensation of touch is too much.  So we use the leash instead.  The clasps on the backpack that go across her chest and hold it tight to her back, also act as a compression which helps calm and focus her.

So the next time you see my child, any child, acting out; the next time you see parents who are not parenting the way you think they should; stop and consider.  What is going on behind the scenes that you have no information on.  Just because kids look normal, doesn’t mean they live in the same world you do.

I don’t know anything about your life.  Please don’t assume you know anything about mine from seeing one two minute interaction with my child.

WHY Did Nobody Tell Me This??

When I found out I was pregnant, my friends who were already moms told me a lot of things.  Most of it, I realize now, was a bunch of BS created to lull me into a false sense of security so I wouldn’t have a complete meltdown and run away screaming (how kind of them to let me hold onto my sanity just that little bit longer).  Here’s a few things I wish they would have told me:

  1. You will never drink a full cup of coffee while it’s still warm again.  You’ll either get two sips in and be interrupted, so it turn ice cold and the milk curdles, or end up spilling it all over yourself while you try to juggle a squirming kid and a diaper bag, while body blocking two dogs from following you out the front door.
  2. If you’re a person who prides themselves on being punctual and makes smart ass remarks to mothers who are always late – Karma Is A Bitch.  You will never, ever, be on time for anything again.  EVER. Not even if you start getting ready two hours before.  Because just as you walk out the door, with time to spare, that will be the moment your kid decides to take a massive dump that smells like something died and ends up being a complete blowout so you end up having to throw them in the tub and hose them down.  Not that I would know this from personal experience or anything.
  3. Sleeping in will become a very rare and joyful event.  Hell, just sleeping through the night is like finding the lost treasure of Atlantis.  Sleep now.  Sleep often.  Sleep long.  Because gone are the lazy Sunday’s in bed.  I’m fully convinced that the amount of sleep your child requires is inversely proportional to the amount of sleep you need.  In other words, get used to being sleep deprived.  And if you don’t drink coffee now, you will start (and when you do, see rule number 1)
  4. Showers are a luxury, not a necessity. Same goes for make up and actually doing anything with your hair.
  5. Packing a diaper bag is an art form.  Imagine standing in the middle of the grungy mall  restroom trying to find a clean diaper, wipes, and butt cream, WHILE holding down a squirmy baby, and without dumping the contents of the diaper bag over said grungy restroom floor. You will learn how to pack a bag with military precision.  And yes, one little bag can fit diapers, wipes, cream, hand disinfectant, a change of clothes, bottles, formula, toys, books, soothies, AND the contents of your purse (so you don’t have to lug that around too) IF you know how to pack it properly.  Start practicing now.
  6. The road to hell is paved with good intentions (this is another one of those Karma Is A Bitch things).  Feel free to philosophize and spout off how you’re going to raise your children.  Sing it loud and proud.  About  how they’re not going to be the ones screaming in the restaurant.  And how you will never need to put your kids on one of those stupid leashes because you’ll be able to watch them, unlike those other lazy ass parents.  And how you will never bribe your children with candy, cookies, toys, or other ‘bad’ things.  And you will never feed them junk food, ever.  I suggest you write all of it down, then come talk to me when they’re two.  We’ll see how you did.

What would you go back and tell your pre-children (aka. SANE) self?

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

It’s September and I’m already thinking about Christmas.  Yeah, shoot me now.  I used to be the biggest procrastinator (think shopping the day before).  Once you have kids, though, it takes more planning.

Most of the stores are starting to put together their Christmas sections (depressing.  Can we wait for Halloween to be over first?).  At least they’re not playing Christmas carols… yet.

All this got Bil and I talking about presents.  I think it’s going to be a much leaner holiday (for a lot of people including us) then it has been in the past.  Which sucks.  I love watching people open presents.

I’m thinking I may have Vista make something for the grandparents.  What I’m not sure yet.

As for bought presents for her, I’m eying one of those Tag Juniors (she loves to read).  But at $50… well.  Perhaps that’ll be her one big gift and we can get her some coloring books, crayons and stickers.  Those are always a hit.

Am I the only one stressing about Christmas already?

My Magic Wand is Broken

When your kids are sick all you want is that magical cure that’s going to make them feel better. Even if it’s just the sniffles, it makes our heart ache to see them so miserable.

Right now I’m having a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact that there might not be a magic cure all for Vista. I’ve been desperate for a doctor to tell me “Oh, just do this and she’ll start sleeping though the night again. Just do this and she won’t spend hours crying hysterically.” But “this” doesn’t exist.

I want to throw a fit and stomp my feet. I want to put my fist through a wall. I want to break something. But I know it’s not going to help.

Yesterday afternoon I put her in her bed and let her cry while I stood in the shower, to drown out the sound of her screams, and sobbed. Because my baby is hurting, and my magic wand is broken, and I can’t figure out how to make it all better.

How To Keep Your OCD child Busy

I got tired of listening to “Mama.  Wash hands?  Mama.  Wash hands?  Mama. Wash hands?”  over and over again this morning while Vista was finger painting this morning, so I decided to set up a little hand washing station for her.  Her sensory/OCD issues mean that, while she will now use her fingers to paint, she’ll often need to wash her hands after each time she gets her fingers dirty.  So it looks something like ‘Put fingers in paint, wipe on paper, wash hands’.  This last part is quite often necessary to avoid meltdowns on my part and hers.

So this morning, I wasn’t in the mood for repeated trips to the bathroom for hand washing, so I dragged her table into the kitchen and set up a place where she could wash her own hands.  She was elated.  And painting quickly fell by the wayside while she splashed in the soapy water.

The bowl is filled with water and a drop or two of dishwashing liquid.  I originally just set it on a towel, but with all the splashing, the towel was getting soaked, so I placed the bowl in a pan to catch the sloshing.  She had a little hand towel next to her where she could dry her hands when she was done.

I think I’ll be setting this up every morning.  It was very simple and kept everyone happy.

CleanHands How To Keep Your OCD child Busy

Therapy Fund

Anyone who knows me knows that any kid of mine is going to need serious therapy.  Add Bil into that mix and Vista doesn’t have a hope in hell of ever being normal.  I mean we named her Vista.  Do you need more proof than that?  You do?  Really?  OK, fine.  You asked for it.

  • We may have tried to teach V to say “Bow-chica-bow-wow” to my mom.  Maybe.
  • Then we tried to teach her to call my mom “Bat” (yeah, there’s a story behind that)
  • We encourage her to walk around with her arms out yelling “brraaaaains”
  • Bil, as an artist himself, has been teaching her how to draw zombies.
  • Watching Monty Python and Red vs Blue is highly encouraged in our house
  • Quoting lines from Monty Python and Red vs Blue is highly encouraged in our house
  • Which is why she will occasionally walk around the house saying “I’m an alien”
  • The dogs have, on occasion, absconded with her teddy bears and beheaded them
  • And after beheading them, they would destuff them and leave their mangled carcasses for her to find (they know better now…sort of)
  • I might have taught her to call her dad a fuck-tard the other day (but he totally deserved it… I think.  I can’t remember what he did, but I’m sure it must have been something bad)
  • We let her walk around in outfits like this

VwithBlackSocks 171x300 Therapy Fund

Yeah, we are just high class all the way around here.  Screw the college fund.  We’re saving up for a personal psychiatrist for her.

The Next WWE Diva

I’ve always held this theory about kids.  The cuter they are, the more evil they turn out to be.  So far my darling Vista isn’t turning out to be an exception to this rule.  Extra cute, with a side of exceedingly spoiled, add a dash of attitude, a splash of stubbornness, with a midline brain defect for good measure, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I’m currently sporting the latest look in forehead bumps after she headbutted me while I was taking her out of the bathtub. Yes, it was a calculated move on her part.  Yes, it hurt.  Yes, I’m a big pansy. What of it?

Bil and I have been struggling for a couple months with how to control these outbursts.  She will be cuddling with you and then suddenly hit you.  She bites when she gets frustrated (that one we nipped in the bud as soon as it cropped up, so now we’re only dealing with her biting things and not people).  If you try to stop her from hitting, or throwing things, it only amplifies the outbursts.

wwe The Next WWE DivaPart of this I know is just her being two years old (thank you terrible twos) and coming from two very stubborn, opinionated, independent parents (damn you genetics!).  The other part of this, we suspect, is coming from her malformed corpus callosum.  We suspect she may have face processing difficulties, which means when you make the ‘mad face’ she doesn’t recognize it as such and smiles and hits you again. At this rate we’ll have the next WWE Diva on our hands in no time (really, is two years old too early to train wrestling moves?)

We’ve tried various methods of dealing with this.  Time outs, restraining, teaching alternatives (“don’t hit, pat nice” which has been semi effective)… you name it.  Nothing seems to be really, truly working.  We’re getting frustrated, she’s getting frustrated.  It’s not a good situation.

So, this is where we turn to the experts (ahh… that would be you, dear internet).

How do I say this?  HAAAAAAALLLLLPPP!  *ahem* Which translated means:  What the hell worked for your kids and what are we doing wrong?

I am a Powerful Force

I am a mom.

I may not make $80,000 a year a some stuffy corporate job anymore, but my value is now measured in my daughter’s love, not dollars.

I may not have some fancy degree from some overpriced university, but there are still things I know and things that I can do better.

I have been known to school doctors in their craft, heal hurts with the kiss of my lips, and convince a screaming toddler that they really do want to go to bed.  I am a powerful force.

Do not dismiss my worth.

I am a mother 24/7.  I assure you I’m good at what I do and I know how to do it well.  I’ve had two years of practice, day and night, to perfect and hone my skills.

You may not understand why I do what I do when I do it, but I there is always a method behind my madness.  And yes, I may get defensive when you question my methods.  Because although it may not always seem like it, I do know what I’m doing.

You do not walk in my shoes, so please do not assume you know how they fit, how they feel.

I listen to your corporate tales of woe.  To you tell the tales of what technical malady had befallen your world today.  I listen and I care.  I ask the same in return.

Do not then throw that in my face and accuse me of playing the ‘poor princess’ card.  Because I’m not.

I don’t want your pity.  I have no use for your pathos.

I just want your support.

Because although I am mighty, although I am strong, some days I’m still a mom who needs a little help.

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