Category Archives: fears

Summer Preparation

I have ten days of school left. Ten days until my temporary stint as stay at home mom begins. Like last year, I feel the same anxieties already building, the same fears about changing routines, surviving the usual battle for naps every day, keeping my patience with one child instead of 167. Along with these anxieties comes excitement about our summer adventures – trips to the pool, swimming lessons, adventures to the park and countless searches for unsuspecting roly poly families living in our yard.

My preparation for the summer began today with an after school trip to Academy to get Nora a pool. Instead of the tiny pink plastic one we bought last year for our tiny pink daughter, this year Nora picked out a blue one, complete with fish and a slide. We begin swimming lessons in a week and Nora’s first words when she heard that were, “I don’t want to go in the big pool.” She apparently can’t recall the pure joy she felt last year when in the water, the way she ran into Oyster Pond neck deep without even looking back at the shore. I wanted to remind her of her love of the pool before we set foot into the Y for lessons. And, I think I also wanted to remind myself that the moments I worry about surviving this summer will pale in comparison to the ones that truly make me wish summer would never end.

2 Comments

Filed under fears, routine with toddler, SAHM, Working Mom

Breaking Free

Sometimes it’s alright to keep your kid up late.

I told myself that multiple times today as I decided whether or not I was going to go and watch Ken and Uncle Ian in their bike race. What the heck, I thought, she hasn’t been great at bedtime anyway, why not throw another wrench in the works, test the waters, break free of the routine.

And so I went. And it was fun. And Ken is putting Nora to bed right now and she is being equally a pill about it as she was last night – no worse and no better.

When I think about what I would like to most change about myself as a mom it is that I feel so incredibly, cripplingly tied to a routine. If it doesn’t go according to plan down to the minute I begin to analyze the failings of my day, chart my course back on track. I know many moms who flourish with spontaneity and whim. Why can’t I be like that, I think.

I don’t remember ever being this routine before I had Nora. Sure I liked structure, I hated to have things popped on me last second, took time getting adjusted when plans suddenly changed, but this attachment to minute by minute schedules? No. That wasn’t me at all.

But I guess that is who I am as a mom. At least for now.

I broke my rules tonight. And it felt good.

1 Comment

Filed under bedtime routine, fears, routine with toddler

Trauma

On the list of my most traumatizing days as a parent, today has to be number one. And on the list of traumatized family members, Ken wins top spot, with me second and Nora – even though she was the one to whom the trauma occurred – ranks a distant third. And I guess that’s a good thing.

Despite having a relatively cranky morning and a different routine due to daycare closure for staff development, it seemed like a boring and normal Monday. That all changed when I got a text from Ken during a very serious meeting at school.

I could hear those capital letters screaming at me over the phone, so I ran into the hallway and called him.

“What is going on?” I asked, listening to Nora screaming in the background.

“Well, she just started choking, and then she was gasping for air. And then she coughed up some mucous and now she is screaming.”

“Is she breathing?”

“Yes. She’s not turning blue. I think she’s breathing.”

He sounded concerned. Ken’s a calm and patient person in almost every situation. If he was shaken by this I knew something had to be wrong.

I flashed back to last night when I had decided to skip a whole day of pulmicort treatments because it was already really late – way past her bedtime for the second night in a row. I immediately thought of asthma, feeling the immediate guilt for skipping that one precious dose. My lack of rational thinking in a moment of panic caused me to immediately conclude that this must be Nora’s first asthma attack.

“Give her albuterol and call the doctor,” I said. Storming back into the meeting I asked for someone to take me right home. Everyone jumped up, either eager to help me get to my needy child or to leave the meeting. I called Ken again and he said she was calming a bit, but I could still hear her, clearly unhappy, crying in the background. This time it was muffled by the albuterol misting out of the nebulizer.

My very calm colleague (who insisted he drive since other not-so-calm-colleagues may have landed me in a ditch in our desperation to reach Nora), talked me through the situation on the long 5 minute drive. We decided that if she was crying that loudly she must be getting enough air. We decided that the choking Ken described wasn’t really consistent with asthma symptoms. We decided that I couldn’t blame myself for the missed pulmicort dose.

About a minute from the house, my phone rang.

“How is she?” I immediately asked.

“Fine now that she coughed out the washer she apparently swallowed.”

No asthma, though maybe the albuterol (which makes Nora cough pretty violently) helped her cough out the nickel size washer that she had somehow swallowed.

I walked in (accompanied by my colleague who probably wanted to make sure everything was fine and that Nora really had recovered as quickly as it seemed and that Ken wasn’t going to spontaneously combust from the stress of the previous 15 minutes), and was relieved to see Nora on her changing table, telling me first off that she had a poop and secondly that she had a hurt throat. Ken wiped his brow of the accumulated sweat and handed her off to me so he could go and fold into the couch and try to recover.

Any parent who has had the same or similar trauma happen to them knows the what-if, could-have, should-have, why-me feelings that lurched in my stomach for the next couple of hours while Nora ran around finding roly polies and building with blocks and eating two cereal bars and a banana. She forgot her trauma quickly while Ken and I relived it numerous times. I had a pretty severe choking paranoia before, watching every bite Nora takes pretty closely, avoiding any food even on the outskirts of the choking hazard list. Now that paranoia apparently needs to focus more on foreign objects, not on the food on her plate.

We tried to explain to Nora that she can’t ever put things in her mouth, that her mouth is for food only. She can repeat that rule. She can tell us she will only eat food. But I’m not sure if she really understands what happened today. I’m not sure if she knows how lucky she is that it went in her food pipe, not her wind pipe, that she was able to cough it out, that she didn’t choose something just slightly larger.

As Ken and I were putting her to bed, we reminded her one last time. “Remember you can only eat food, Nora. Remember to never put anything but food in your mouth.”

“I scared you?” she asked.

“Yes. You really scared us.”

Maybe she understands, but probably she doesn’t. But she knew that she could call me back into her room three times tonight instead of the usual one; that she could get extra kisses and water and cuddles; that she could say “night-night Mama” and make me melt just a little more than I have in a while.

Leave a comment

Filed under fears, mom guilt, nebulizer, pulmicort, routine with toddler, toddler with asthma, worries

Letter To A Friend At the End of Maternity Leave

My friend Cara wrote to me this weekend about returning to work this Friday. She is a teacher too and was wondering how she can leave her adorable daughter, Posey, for a classroom of teenagers. This is what I wrote to her:

Friday will be one of the hardest days of your life. I’m not going to lie. It will be like middle school, when you first fell in love and you couldn’t think of anything else and when the teacher called on you, you accidentally responded with his name. Kids will ask you questions about math and you will respond with, “Posey should be napping right now.” There may be a few times during the day when you want to cry (if you’re a crier like me, at least). That’s okay. Wait until you aren’t in front of kids and then let it out. It doesn’t fix it, but it makes you feel better. You can come get a hug and cry with me whenever you’d like.

And it will be like that for a little while. You will ache for her all day. You will run out of school with the bell and go home and grab your bundle of baby fat and hold her tight. And she will give you the best snuggles and smiles and try to let you know in all her adorable baby ways that she will be okay. That’s the hardest part at first, she can’t tell you she’s okay. But she is.

You will feel like you are in some cruel time-warp where you have to merge your pre-baby working self with your totally redefined mom-self. It will feel strange to stand on the supposedly familiar ground of your classroom. You will wonder how you can possibly be good at both jobs at the same time. You will wonder if you will ever find any pleasure at work again. You will wonder how you can possibly be more tired than you were in those initial sleep-deprived days.

The good news is that the initial aching and obsessing about what you are leaving at home will end (probably just in time for summer). You will slowly realize that you are an excellent mother even though you leave her side each day. Some days you might even think that it makes you a better mother. You will notice how she smiles at you all the time, how she wiggles or crawls or runs right over to you when you walk in the door. You won’t doubt that she loves you any less because you work. You will go home and treasure every moment you have with her instead of wishing that you could at least get a few moments of peace in the bathroom. That is one of the benefits of being a working mom. You get to pee all by yourself.

Summer will end and you will have to go through all of this again. And it will hurt, almost as much but not quite. You will mourn the end of summer like you haven’t ever done before. You will walk into that room of other people’s children and wonder for a while what your own is doing. But you will find a balance that works for you. You will realize that being a mom makes you a better teacher even though you can’t dedicate yourself in quite the same way anymore. You will realize that being a teacher makes you a better mom in the lens that it provides you with. You will redefine yourself as a working mom. You will find a routine that helps you and your family to thrive.

And when you make it through that whole first year of working, and you look back at how hard it was and how you figured it all out, you will be proud of yourself. That alone is a huge accomplishment.

And maybe, when Posey is two, and you are still wondering if you working is working for her, she will wake up one Saturday morning, like Nora did this past weekend, and say, “I’m ready for school!”

2 Comments

Filed under daycare, fears, going back to work, worries

Don’t Eat Nora, Birdie!

When she first was learning to talk, Nora was in love with animals of all kinds and sizes. She memorized her animal sounds at lightening speed and would smile with her whole body when in the presence of cats and dogs. Our pet free house didn’t offer her much in terms of animal-life, but I supplied her with many animal books and puzzles to help fuel her passion.

Perhaps we haven’t taken her to see enough real live animals lately to assure her that these creatures are just as exciting and playful and fun as she had originally imagined them to be. Our latest trip to a friend’s house where multiple cats and dogs reside didn’t go nearly as well as it had this summer when we’d purposely go visit for her to pet and play. This time she screamed her first really, truly terrified screams and held onto my shirt with an iron grip. The cats hid and the dog was relegated to the back yard.

Since that night Nora greets most animals by asking them to not eat her. “Don’t eat Nora, doggy.” “Don’t eat Nora, kitty.” “Don’t eat Nora, birdie.” I don’t know where exactly she picked up this idea that animals are going to eat her, but it clearly is something she fears.

Tonight in the bath Nora requested that her artisitic father create a big flying birdie for her on the side of the tub using the brown bath crayon. Ken took this perhaps a bit too far and drew her a “bird of prey.”

“Caw, Caw,” Ken said, taking his long arm and flying it out to his side. He pretended to be the loudly cawing bird and grabbed Nora’s head with his palm. I think he thought it was funny, not thinking of her paranoia of being eaten by normal house cats and small robins in the back yard. I reminded him of her fear, trying to get him to stop; he did it again, trying to get Nora and I to laugh. And like most things I worry about, things I think will scare Nora, Ken is usually right that they won’t. She laughed and wanted more.

And then he told her to watch all the water going down the drain.

If she wakes up screaming tonight, after dreaming of birds of prey and being sucked down a drain, you can bet he’ll be the one getting up with her.

Leave a comment

Filed under bath, fears, routine with toddler

"Poop!"

Apparently there’s a bath monster in our house now as well. A very unexpected monster, I must say, since ever since Nora grew out of the newborn phase, she has been a huge bath fan.

Last Saturday when my parents were babysitting, Nora pooped in the bath. This wasn’t a first. She had done it to Ken and I at least a few times; she did it to her Nana in DC in July; she had actually done it just a week earlier when my parents were giving her a bath. Like the vomit, the poop in the tub isn’t a family favorite, and so when Nora looked a bit like she was readying herself for poop the next night, Sunday, I told Ken I thought she was going to poop, we whisked her out of the tub and sat her promptly on her new toilet seat. I guess that wasn’t the smartest parental move, since now apparently there’s a monster called “poop” in that tub.

I had just gotten Nora a new training toilet seat last weekend. She has started to tell one of us every time she poops or pees and then takes us to change her diaper. This, to me, seemed like a sign that we should at least start trying to introduce the idea of the potty. And when I brought the new seat home, Nora was eager to jump on, clothed, and even grabbed toilet paper and wiped herself in all the correct places. (I guess my lack of privacy in the bathroom has taught her something at least…)

Back to the bath – every night since last Sunday – so a whole week now – Nora has cried at even the mention of it being bath-time. She used to take off running to be caught – part of an elaborate entertaining routine that used to encompass bath-time. Once forced into the water, she now whimpers, but ismostly ok while the water is running. She used to play and laugh and sing. And she was starting to do this adorable thing where she had Ken hold her while she floated on her back, super relaxed and happy. Now, the second the bath water stops flowing, she starts crying to get out and says, “Poop! Poop!” over and over. We try to tell her it’s ok, that if she poops it’s not a big deal, she can pee if she needs to (which she usually does). But nothing works and we end up just taking her out and having to calm her down before she’ll settle for bed. She clearly is afraid of pooping in the tub.

Tonight we tried giving her a bath in our bathroom, trying to divert attention away from any incidental memory she has of the poop and the training toilet. She wasn’t easily tricked. We kept asking her to sit down (she hasn’t sat in the tub for a week now) and telling her she was in the “special tub.” And I distracted her with the top of my mousse container and travel size shampoo bottles. She was so distracted that when she reached down to get the shampoo, her butt touched the water, and down she sat. And then she looked at us and said, “Uh oh, Nora.”

But then we had to suggest it was time to get out, she wanted to stay in and keep playing. So maybe the monster’s moving out?

Leave a comment

Filed under bath, fears, poop