Children are like mirrors

The past two months have been tough for me as a mom. I have been ridiculously stressed and short on patience. I think my feelings have definitely rubbed off on Laila, in addition to the fact that her molars are coming in, making for an extra cranky little girl.

One day we were having a really tough nap time. I had things to do and I just wanted Laila to go to sleep. Every time I thought I had her asleep and was clear to sneak out of the room, she would wake up crying and the process would begin again. Finally I lost it and stormed out of the room in frustration.

My husband was home that afternoon, so he took over nap time.
Once Laila was happily asleep in his arms I began ranting to him about how tired and frustrated I was.

I kept telling him over and over that I was just exhausted! I complained that something was constantly making Laila angry, there was a tantrum nearly every hour, that it had been that way for weeks! I started crying and telling him that I missed the old Laila, I missed the days when I loved being a mom and that I was so aggravated that I didn’t even want to be around Laila anymore.

I immediately regretted that last sentence. I felt like such a heartless mom, I may not have wanted to have been with Laila that afternoon, but she desperately wanted to be with me. She’s so little, her mommy is her whole world.

Then I realized that Laila wasn’t the problem at all, no matter how cranky she’d been over the past few weeks. I was the problem, my attitude towards her was the problem. I was so focused on getting things done, that I had disconnected myself from her and her needs. Instead of being empathetic and looking for a relationship from her, I was looking for convenience from her.

Children aren’t about convenience. Children have needs, constant needs. Parenting is 24/7 work. It’s about consistently putting some one else’s needs ahead of your own. I read an article entitled tough love the other day that really sums up the self sacrifice and compassion that parenting requires.

Sometimes it’s really, really hard to be patient, to look at things from a child’s point of view and empathize with them. It’s really easy to expect children to behave like adults, to be annoyed when their needs have to be met before your own.

I once read a quote that said children are like mirrors. What you pour into a child is what comes back out. That really couldn’t be more true. This week I’ve really dedicated myself to putting Laila first. I’ve worked extra hard at being patient, at getting up and dedicating time to playing with her even when I’m tired. The more love I pour into her, the more love I see her returning to me. All relationships are two way streets, we can’t be impatient, quick to anger, and demanding with our children and expect them to in turn be patient, slow to anger and easy going.

Now that Laila is nearing her second birthday I remind myself every day how fast the time has gone by, and to enjoy every minute with her that I can, because I will never have this time again. I know that this is the time of life that I will always look back on and smile.

The greatest gift my husband ever gave me

Confessions of an Elephant Momma

My husband has a pretty decent job working as a machinist at the family business, and I had an entry level position at a factory when I got pregnant. We discussed our options for after the baby was born, and decided that we could make it on one income, which meant that I could be a stay at home mom.

I was worried, at first, that it would get brought up often in arguments. I was also worried that I would have to go without luxury items, such as new clothes or new shoes. I was willing to deal with it, of course, but it still worried me. What if he gets sick of taking care of me? Will his attraction for me lessen because of my lack of independence? Will my value as an individual be compromised? Will I get lonely and become too detached from the world? I…

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Why we don’t do “date night”

I was just thinking today, how close Sabrina’s due date is to my birthday. I don’t like to take my babies out – except to see family- before the six week mark, so I will most likely be spending my birthday cuddled up in bed with my husband and my girls. Am I disappointed that I’ll be passing my birthday with a pizza and a redbox instead of dressed up in a nice restaurant with my husband? Not in the least. We gave up on the idea of date nights a long time ago, and honestly I haven’t missed them at all.

It’s amazing how much my views on parenting have changed since I had my daughter. When she was first born, I thought a date night was so important. I mean, that’s what everybody else was saying. We were told we needed to have our bed to ourselves, we needed time to ourselves, basically we needed a break from the “responsibility” not the gift of parenting. I remember the few date nights that my husband and I went on were spent mostly talking about Laila and how we missed her. I started questioning the idea that marriages wouldn’t be successful without alone time.

When Laila was about four months old, I read a great article on children and marriage that really changed my mind. It was written by a woman who had several children, and had been married for nearly 20 years. She said that because she and her husband had spent all of their time with their children, they had received several comments asking how their marriage would stay strong if they didn’t make time for each other. Her reply was so perfect, What about all the memories we made together with our children? Werent we both together these past 18 years building a family together? Exactly.

Even before Laila was born, I thought date nights and alone time was so important. I really believed our relationship would become mind numbingly boring and fall apart if we didn’t have constant entertainment. That’s really what date nights are – entertainment. Now there’s nothing wrong with a date night itself, but entertainment isn’t what builds a marriage. Thinking that we need time away from our children when they’re small and they need us – that’s not doing anything to build a marriage.

The other night Laila was sick. She woke up around one in the morning and threw up all over me, the bed, the pillows, and herself. Eder had worked a grueling day, he left the house at 5 am that morning and didn’t get home until ten, yet without question he got up and immediately cradled his sick little girl in his arms and comforted her while giving her a warm bath. Seeing my husband as a selfless, attentive father does so much more for our relationship than small talk over dinner ever could.

Since Laila’s arrival Eder and I spend a lot less time together than we did before. But our relationship is so much better. I mean a thousand times better. We don’t fight often, I spend a lot less time thinking about myself, and a lot more time serving my family, the same is true for eder.
We’re totally broke, he works crazy hours, I’m always finding something that needs to be done in the house and in between, were playing with Laila, changing her diapers, and holding her through the meltdowns that she has more frequently. Our life doesn’t look like much fun on the outside, but we are so happy. At the end of every day we curl up in front of the tv, and we know that the love we have for each other isn’t a superficial infatuation based on having fun, it’s a commitment to work at something together.

It’s sad to say, but kids won’t always be little, they won’t always want to hang out with mommy and daddy 24/7. If you think time flies, wait until you have kids. I don’t want to miss a minute of this magical, precious, but so very short, childhood. I treasure every sloppy kiss, every mispronounced word, every runny nose, everything. And so does my husband.

It’s hard not to notice how our society is so incredibly selfish. Most of this selfishness is increasingly glorified. I read a quote in time magazine, “focusing on your own pursuits over other people isn’t selfish, it’s revolutionary” I literally can’t wrap my mind around that. It’s so sad that everyone seems to be convinced that putting yourself first is the way to be happy when it’s the exact opposite. Whatever happened to “it’s better to give than to receive?”

The more I spend time with my family, the more value I place in building my home, the less time I have to sit around and compare my marriage to a Nicholas sparks movie. A lot of unhappiness comes from focusing on ourselves. Saying that a date night is what keeps a marriage strong is like saying that a marriage can’t survive without “me” time- and that children and all of their inconveniences are in the way.

I know that one day when we are retired, we’ll be playing with our grandchildren, and well reminisce about our own children. When our children are grown we’ll have plenty of time just the two of us, and our relationship will be so much deeper because of the time we spent together as a family. Children don’t stand in the way of a marriage, they enrich a marriage.

A letter to my daughter – The last days as an only child

Laila,
It’s been nearly two years just you and I. I remember when you were just two pink lines on a pregnancy test. The first thing I did was put my hand on my stomach and whisper the name Laila. Even when you were just the size of a mustard seed, I knew you.

My pregnancy with you was one of the most special times of my life. I will never forget watching you kick and respond to your daddy’s voice every night while he rubbed coco butter all over my belly. We were so excited for you.

It felt like forever waiting for you to come, even though you came only one day after your estimated due date. We went to the hospital at 7:30 am, and at 9:42 pm you were born. It was amazing. You didn’t even cry, you just looked straight up into your fathers eyes, and then mine. You were the most beautiful little girl, you even had green eyes for the first few days. The way you would look into my eyes and put your little hand across my chest melted my heart every time.

You’ve grown into such an incredible little girl. I just adore your personality. You are tiny, but if another kid pushes you or hits you, you take care of yourself just fine. You have no problems with the word no, and you know how to let me know exactly what you want. You are so serious, yet so playful. You’re the sweetest, cuddliest little girl who showers me in squishy hugs and sloppy kisses, yet you have a temper to rival your mothers. You’re so very independent, bringing me my laundry from the dryer each laundry day, and laying in bed and scratching my back on the days I’m sick, you’re my favorite little helper. When I run out of patience with you, you’re quick to forgive. I know you’ll be such a smart woman one day, because you already choose to read books over watching tv. I look forward to all of the books well read together over the years.

I’ve held you close each night since the night you came into this world, but soon I will be holding another little newborn baby, your sister. These are your last days as an only child. In just a few short weeks you’ll have a little playmate and a best friend.

Our relationship is going to change, but I hope you will always know how much I love you. You are my whole world. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. Every moment I’ve had with you is an irreplaceable treasure. You’re the most amazing gift that God could have given me. I’m so honored that He chose me to be your mother. You make my heart so proud just by being you.

I’m not a perfect mother, I’ve made mistakes and I will make more, but I promise that I will always strive to be your protector, your best friend, your confidant, and the best mother that I can be to you.

You changed my life, and I know for every lesson I can teach you, you will have one to teach me as well. It may not just be mama and Laila anymore, but you will always be my special girl. I can’t wait for the days of mama, Laila, and Sabrina. I know you will be just as amazing of a sister as you are a daughter.

Love,
Mama