Happy Monday, everyone! And welcome to my first instalment of:
I’m calling it my first instalment because I imagine this is the sort of list that I’ll be building on constantly. Kids are kind of amazing creatures; I’m finding myself learning something new and being baffled by them every day.
This particular list started last week when I watched Bee for the very first time climb the ladder to the big slide and actually go down, all by herself. The big, yellow, twisty slide usually reserved for bigger kids; kids with a little more courage than she has shown in the past. Bee’s always been very thoughtful in the playground – not exactly a risk-taker – and preferred to be pushed contentedly on the swing while seemingly contemplating the bigger picture of the universe, as evidenced by this recent photo:
But, back to the slide. As I watched this mini-human, all wild hair and bare feet (she also suddenly decided that shoes are for chumps?) climb the ladder and spin down with a look on her face I can only describe as hysterical joy, I wondered to myself, “where does this courage come from?! What is it that makes a kid say to herself one day, ‘yes. Today is the day I’m going to do this slide!’??”
I just didn’t know the answer. Not that there is an answer to it, but all these other things started rattling though my head, things I didn’t know about children and life – and also all the stuff I realized I now do know. Stuff that I never in my entire existence would have come to know or not know, had I not been blessed to become a Mama.
Sure there’s probably scientific or anthropological explanations for most of this stuff. But let’s just say there isn’t and go with it, k?
WHAT I KNOW
I know that not two children are alike when introducing solid food: one will choke with every mouthful you feed her, and the next will scarf with such abandon that you’ll wonder if they even have a gag reflex at all.
I know banana is incredibly difficult to get out of hair/eyebrows:
Yew, boy. Poor kid.
I know Velcro is awesome.
I know that learning to share is HARD and often incredibly emotional.
I know playground politics is a real thing.
I know following through with promises and threats is crucial if you want solid parenting cred with your Littles.
I know putting a towel over your head and pretending it’s long, flowing princess hair is instinctual.
I know I can hold my pee until I forget I have to go.
I know that baby farts will always be funny, especially in completely inappropriate situations like church, or while talking to baby-less single, ultra cool people you used to be friends with until you decided to become one of “those” people who got married and had kids. Baby farts are especially awesome in that situation.
I know that when my toddler cries, “mommy, I NEED A LOLLIPOP RIGHT NOW!!” she truly believes she needs a lollipop in that moment or else she will probably crumple and die.
I know my floors will be perpetually sticky until the kids move out of the house.
I know that a baby will be just as happy playing with a spoon and an old face cloth as it would be with a $50 toy.
I know that somehow there will always be a dirty diaper somewhere in the house at any given moment, regardless of how diligent I am with throwing them in the bin.
I know that baby socks are bullshit. Like, seriously. Teeny tiny pieces of fabric to cover a baby’s feet that will only end up in a gutter somewhere on the other side of the city or lost at the bottom of a purse? Ridiculous. I say, footed sleepers for Fall & Winter, then bare feet in Spring & Summer, or until they are able to walk and then need socks and shoes.
I know I will always, without a doubt, have some sort of food/bodily fluid substance on my shirt until the kids move out of the house.
I know that babies and kids will live and thrive just fine on non-organic food & dairy products.
I know that this parenting gig is the hardest f*cking job in the world, but I am all the better a person for it.
WHAT I DON’T KNOW
I don’t know what makes a child love salmon one day but then gag dramatically just thinking about it the next.
I don’t know why it’s so true that you can buy a kid every damned toy in the world but all they’ll want to play with are the boxes they come in.
I don’t know why I bother to HAND WASH this $18 Old Navy dress, but I do:
I don’t know how a child can survive for days on nothing but Cheerios and raisins.
I don’t know how I am surviving on no sleep. Seriously. How is this happening.
I don’t know how I would get through the week without parenting drop-in centres, public parks and the library.
I don’t know if there actually is such a thing as “too much coffee.” Sheesh.
I don’t know where the irrational fear of pooping on the toilet comes from.
After everything I’ve gone through with two kids, I honestly do not know how people have more than two.
I don’t know where this love for my children comes from, if you can even call it love. What’s bigger and deeper than love? Because that’s what I feel for them.
I’m sure I’ll be updating this list in the coming weeks.
Until then, I’d love to hear from you!
What are some things you now know or realize you don’t know, since becoming a parent?
ALL YOU PARENTS JUST DID THIS, DIDN’T YOU:
Bee recently turned 20-months old and has been sleeping blissfully through the night for the last few months – my husband and I have gotten used to putting her down at 7:30pm and waking up with her around 6am. It’s been a nice, solid routine to have, one that we’ve become very comfortable with if only because we finally had our evenings back.
(By “evening” I mean two hours decompressing on the couch – him with wine, me with tea [while sneaking sips of his wine] – then straight to bed. Heaven!)
After Bee was born I’d read/heard about the dreaded Sleep Regression, and how there are three ages when this generally happens – around 4 months, 9 months and 12 months old. They can be pinpointed to the times your sweet baby starts going through a major milestone like rolling, crawling, walking or talking. They can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (dear GOD), and can really, truly throw a wrench* in things (scroll to bottom for my definition of “wrench”) …
The Baby Sleep Site describes a sleep regression as, “…a period of time (anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason.” So basically, just as you’re getting into an amazing, seemingly flawless nap time/bedtime routine, feeling like a rockstar parent for getting your kid down like a pro every.single.time, a regression rears it’s ugly head and ruins EVERYTHING.
Bee went through these three regressions like clockwork, and they were just as difficult as you can imagine/remember. Hubs and I were actually scared to go to bed some nights – we knew we weren’t going to be able to sleep because we were so hyper-aware that we’d withoutadoubt be woken up just as we hit REM. During that time it was all about staying in survival mode. It was hard because, as you parents know, sleep is essential to your sanity, and when you’re getting very little of it – especially when it’s broken up by a screaming, inconsolable baby – it’s really f*cking hard to remain sane, let alone calm/kind/human.
From talking to friends who had been through it, as well as looking it up cautiously on the web, we discovered the regressions weren’t going to last as long as, say, her colic did (four long, painful months), which was reassuring and made each time just a teeeeeeny bit more bearable.
We eventually made it through with only a few new parental battle scars, and were even able to look back and have a laugh from time to time….
What I wasn’t aware of, however… what I did not know about, were the two regressions that sneak in around 18 and 24 months.
“Hang on,” you say. “Didn’t you just mention Bee is 20-months old? Isn’t she then ‘due’ for another sleep regression?”
This, friends, is why I am writing this post.
The last couple of nights have presented as normal. But then, after a short while – about an hour or so after Hubs and I have gone to bed – its started. The familiar, tell-tale sounds of a baby who is on the edge of waking. And not happily. She’s only woken up once or twice so far, each time needing just a small, sleepy pat on the back to calm her down. Nothing as nuclear as the previous three regressions, but…
Could this be it? Could this be one of the two Toddler Regressions? Slithering its way into our home to rip it shreds, again???
I’m anticipating the worst. I’m dusting off my battle gear and dredging up the Tips & Tricks I came up with to survive the dreaded Sleep Regression. Tips that I now share with you:
1. STAY CALM. Let me paint a picture for you:
It’s 2am. You hear your sweet, sound-sleeper start to stir through the crackling of the usually silent monitor. Your eyes flutter open as the noises slowly get louder, more urgent… and before you know it there’s a nuclear fallout happening in the room down the hall. You slap your partner awake, “get up! Something is WRONG!” In an instant you’re bounding into your little angel’s room, scooping him/her into your arms and shushing them with all the love you can muster, staying as long as it takes to get them back to sleep. Once everything is right in the world again you head back to bed, patting yourself on the back for a job well done…
… it’s 40 minutes later. You hear (who you thought was) your sweet, sound-sleeper stirring on the monitor. Your eyes flutter open. “What the f***…?” you sleepily ask your partner who is shielding themselves under their pillow. You stumble back into the darkness to once again. After more shushing and rocking, this time taking longer than the last, they finally fall asleep. Shuffling back to your bed you think, “okay, that’s done.”
Nope. And the cycle repeats itself. Sometimes five or six times through the night. Each time you become more and more frustrated, “again?? What is going ON?!” At some stage you reach for your smartphone and Google ‘why is my [_] month old waking up through the night’, and those two words pop up: sleep regression. Finally it starts to make sense as you read about what to expect over the coming nights (basically, no sleep for anyone).
It’s so easy to become agitated on little-to-no sleep. As parents we’ve all been there, aching for “please, just five more minutes,” as your baby sputters and cries. But sometimes they seem so distressed that it’s impossible to ignore or leave them to cry it out.
When this level of havoc happens, and you’ve checked on them and assessed that they’re not feverish/in pain/needing a diaper change, and that it’s most likely a sleep regression, it’s time to take a deeeeeeep breath and focus. Shake off the sleep (as best you can) for a few minutes and try and remain calm while settling your little one. Because guaranteed, a calming energy coming from the parent will result in an easier time calming the baby, meaning back to bed faster for everyone.
2. BE NICE. Remember, everyone is tired. Even if you’re the one who has dedicated themselves to getting up, your partner can still hear what’s going on – everything from the crying baby to you muttering to yourself as you roll out of bed again – and their sleep is most likely disturbed as well. Snapping at each other does nothing to quell an escalating situation, one filled with screaming babies, stumbling around the dark and possible toe-stubbage.
It’s better to take a few seconds to communicate your frustration at getting up for the fourth time in two hours than to lash out – this goes for both partner and baby. Sure, your child probably won’t understand what you’re saying, but it will make for some soothing conversation while you’re rocking them back to sleep again, “mama/daddy loves you very much but is very sleepy from coming to see you all these times. Let’s all now try and go back to sleep… and stay asleep, okay?”
3. BE CONSISTENT. Try and do the same thing(s) each night as you did the last. Whatever you choose to do, consistency is key – since regressions don’t last, you don’t want to confuse your baby with new routines or introducing crutches that you don’t plan on keeping once the regression ends, such as going in and rocking them right away, every time; extra nursing sessions; bringing them back into your bed, etc.
But, if you’re already practicing any of these or any other sleep training/soothing techniques then by all means, don’t rock the boat and decide to stop all together to see if cold turkey will somehow work! I would recommend just sticking with what you’re already doing and, if necessary, tweaking the routine to accommodate the sheer volume of bedroom visits a “classic” regression requires.
We practiced the Cry It Out method when sleep training Bee, with a few alterations that fit what we felt was right. With the regressions though, Hubs and I wound up choosing to go in to her when it seemed she was really in dire straights. We tried a couple of nights of crying it out, but it just got to be too much, and each time took longer and longer for her to calm herself down. We did leave her for a few minutes before going in though, so she wouldn’t get used to us rushing in straight away. Once the regression was over, we found this slight alteration led to a smooth transition back to getting her to soothe herself to sleep again.
4. IGNORE THE CLOCK. If you’re like me and one of those people who checks their phone every time you wake in the night, ditch the habit, friend. Because when you’re going through a sleep regression, it doesn’t matter what time it is. Time has no meaning. It becomes about sleeping when you can and as often as you can, and I found knowing the hour only made it harder for me to settle, “f*ck, it’s 3:30am already? I have to get up in three hours. I’m not going to be able to fall as…. balls. Is that her again? *SOB!*”
Resist the urge. Keep the phone face down or the clock away from you.
Just don’t forget to set the alarm!
5. REMEMBER: IT’S NOT FOREVER. When you’re at the end of your rope these nights, in the wee hours when you should be deep in slumber, just remember that this painful time, like childbirth and colic, is finite. It will end. Things will go back to normal. Your child WILL start sleeping soundly again – maybe not through the night completely (unless they already did before, in which case, amazeballs!), but more soundly than during a regression.
Like I said before, it’s about staying in survival mode. If you and your partner can stay calm and remain a team with the rules laid-out and followed, each regression should feel easier than the last.
NOTE: Since writing this I’m happy/hesitant to report that it was not the start of a regression, but rather a bloody cold that lasted nearly two weeks. So, yeah pretty much a regression, just with a snotty nose, fever and wall-reverberating cough.
And as before, we wait…….
*a wrench thrown with such brute force at your head that it reverberates through your soul and the souls of everyone in your household, shattering any normal existence and threatening to turn you and your family into cranky, drooling, muttering zombies until the damn regression is over and things settle and eventually go back to normal. Eventually. Later on. MUCH later on. Because really, how quickly can you catch up on sleep with a toddler, REALLY??
Scene: Bee, hubs and I are sitting at the dinner table. Everyone is enjoying their meal, when….
Hubs: (picks up a pinch pot of salt and takes a whiff) You know, I’ve never really stopped to think about what salt smells like.
Me: …..reeeeeeeeeeeally? (grabbing my phone and pretending to Tweet the profound statement he’s just made)
Hubs: Come on, seriously. Think about it! Salt doesn’t have an actual smell.
Me: Go on…. (smirking while fake typing away)
Hubs: Salt does not have a scent! You can maybe smell the ocean, but really only if you add it to water and then it smells like salt water.
Me: Mmmm-hmmmm! (tap, tap, tapping on the phone)
Bee has stopped eating and is intently watching the banter like a tennis match, back and forth between us, taking it all in.
Hubs: You better not be Tweeting this! You take a sniff and tell me what you smell. Nothing! It smells like…
Me: (obliging) SALT! It smells like salt!
Hubs: Nope. Wrong! (turning to a thoughtful-looking Bee) Bee, tell mommy that salt has no smell.
Hubs: (pointing at me) Booya!
Bee: (mic dropping her fork on the floor) Booya.
Clearly siding with her father, I am outnumbered and humbly agree to disagree.
And through smiles, we finish our dinner in peace.
I realize I haven’t written much about Bee lately, about how she’s doing and who she is becoming as an actual human being.
I’ve been so preoccupied with writing about my pregnancy that I’ve put poor Bee on the back burner.
A few nights back as I was lying in bed, I thought about this and couldn’t settle my mind. I felt like, it’s not fair for me to keep her in the background, to keep this burgeoning personality of hers away from you all. Because the fact is, she is turning into the most interesting person, the most wonderful little girl… each day she gets better and better, and I want you all to know more about her.
NOTE: Though the below list rants and raves about how amazing she is – because guys, she IS – please don’t think of me as a disillusioned parent, someone who thinks their kid is the absolute cat’s pyjamas (pyjamas? pajamas?) and can do no wrong. Because, like any and every child, she can be difficult. Sometimes with a capital ‘D’. And as she comes into her own, with her strong personality comes an incredibly strong and impressive will. The “Terrible Twos” just a wee bit early, perhaps.
So in bed, in the dark, I was inspired to write down my motherly observations of this little creature, the little baby I brought into the world close to two years ago.
Two years ago. What the f***…..?
I grabbed my phone and began to type out the words that poured into my head as her face and giant mop of Mowgli-esque hair danced through my mind.
Below is what I wrote. Guys, this is a li’l bit about Li’l Bee, now:
She has a face that can’t hide her excitement, or her disdain.
She loves her family (every single one of you), as well as most cats she sees. She’s close with her teachers and school buddies, and is always concerned when one of them cries. “Happy birthday!” she’ll say to make them feel better, even when it falls on deaf, sob-filled ears.
She always has to have something in one hand – whether it’s a toy or a rock, a tissue or a crayon, she finds comfort in the feeling of having her hands full.
When she’s not talking, she’s singing. The girl loves a good song, warbling away so clearly to her favourites, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, “Baby Beluga”, “Rolly Poly”, “The Alphabet Song”, “If All of the Raindrops”, and so many more.
She loves to dance and play her shakers, rocking out to Raffi or her music teacher Jennielea‘s playlist. It feels like such a blessing to have a child so full of song… the house is never quiet, in the best possible way.
Surrounded by dozens of books, she will always choose the Little Critter Collection. He’s her very favourite character, as he was mine when I was a child. I’m sure one day she’ll discover the joys of the rest of her library, but for now, she loves nothing more than to end her day with Critter and a snuggle and a song.
She doesn’t care much for TV, much to our relief. She does, though, delight in the occasional Thomas the Tank Engine episode (the original, Ringo Starr narrated version, natch), and seems to take comfort in Elmo’s World when she’s sick.
She seems to already love her brother. She climbs on top of me, lifts my shirt and smooshes her head into my belly and sings and laughs and sends mine and my husband’s hearts into loved-up overdrive. “What could be better than this,” I wonder.
She would always much rather be outside, galumphing through the streets collecting rocks and leaves and sticks, discovering how big this world really is.
She is hilarious and wild and adventurous – she makes us laugh till we cry, and though we hope to raise her to be thoughtful, we also want her to be free… so, by our own creation, she no doubt worry the shit out of us for all the years to come.
I’m working on a few things for the blog which should be up by Wednesday – fingers crossed. I haven’t always come through with these deadlines.
I think I need an editor, someone to give me hard deadlines and say things like, “now see here! You gotta get these posts out because the public is counting on you, you hear?? No more dilly dallying, Barnes. Barnes. BARNES! Are you listening to me??!? Get outta my office and write, write, WRITE!!!”
Or something of the sort.
Anywho, while I tidy this stuff up – and because I am apparently a “lazy blogger” (*coughsweetmadeleinecough*) – here’s how my world looked over the last 7 days through the lovely, lazy lens of Instagram!
This was technically taken on the 26th, but since it was from the morning my story aired on the Vinyl Cafe, I figured it was worth sneaking in! We were lucky Bee went down for a nap at just the right time so we could enjoy the program in peace! What an amazing experience, to hear Stuary McLean breathe life to my letter… a great achievement, to say the least.
Once she woke up from said nap, I felt giddy with joy, so decided to take and publish some rare face-on selfies. Well, rare for Bee, that is.
I’m still very much of two minds about the whole “exposing my child’s image to the internet world” thing. On the one hand, I understand as a “mom blogger” that I would probably build more of a connection with my audience if I posted more pictures of her and my husband, as well as used their real names. Then on the other hand, I’ve always felt it’s important to keep some things private in order to maintain a bit of normalcy.
But who knows? Maybe when Li’l Bee 2.0 arrives things will change, because Lord knows if I’ll be creative enough to come up with another nickname while running on zero sleep….
Bee has suddenly taken to showing interest in a new activity: helping me empty the dishwasher.
It’s so cute, she really loves it! For the last couple of weeks, every time I open the dishwasher, even if it’s just to put a bowl or a mug in, suddenly she’s THERE! At my side, immediately, offering to, “halp! Halp Mummy!”
Which, I mean, I am totally on board with! Help emptying the dishwasher? YES, please. Another dreaded chore, one that only takes minutes, is now a fun activity that we can do together.
I just have to remember to keep the knives pointed DOWN. Gulp.
This is a teaser of something to come.
You guys are smart cookies, I’m sure you know what it’s all about.
Saying goodbye can be so sweet… right?
Another new thing Bee does – I feel like there are so many new things these days – is shlurp the milk from her cereal bowl. This is something she did not learn from us, I’m guessing she picked it up from watching her friends at daycare.
It’s moments like this when I’m grateful to have these heavy duty bibs on hand, they catch the milk that misses her mouth.
Which is pretty much all of it.
Bee went to bed last Wednesday night with a fever – it seemed to come on super fast, which is always the scariest, especially since she didn’t show any other symptoms… she was just limp and grumpy and weak and glassy-eyed. UGH.
Isn’t it just the worst when they’re sick?
We kept her home the rest of the week to let her recover; we read books and ate grapes and drank (diluted) apple juice and snuggled and snuggled and snuggled until she was better again.
It was awful, seeing her sick. But wonderful, being so close.
On Thursday we had our anatomy scan, which is done around the half-way mark of the pregnancy. I’ll be 20 weeks, half-way, on Wednesday. Which… is crazy. RIGHT!? I feel like that’s completely nuts! Time is going by so fast!
Everything came back peachy keen with the scan, and the gender was confirmed! That will be revealed in the next few days 🙂
While I was waiting for the results I took a trip to the teeny food court under the hospital, where my pregnant-self was pleased to find a Manchu Wok! MMMmmmmmm…. greasy preggo-friendly noodles……
I decided to participate in Yummy Mummy Club’s #YMCPhotoADay challenge for May!
May 1st’s challenge was “what’s in your bag” – while I was inhaling the noodles in the waiting room, I came across a few of Bee’s toys, in my bag. Day 1 – success!!
On Friday I left Bee decide what we were having for dinner.
I’m sure if I actually left it up to her we’d have plain pasta, bread and blueberries every night.
I wouldn’t say she’s a “picky” eater, but she definitely has her moments – those days she gobbles down a whole serving of baked salmon though, I swear I couldn’t be a happier Mama!
(We wound up having the baked risotto, spinach and parmesan cakes from this amazing cookbook, How To Feed A Family. I – WE – would highly recommend it!)
Can I get a WHATWHAT for #yolkporn??
I mean, seriously. How can you be a human being and not love a good, runny yolk??
Bee is a huge fan, her favourite food these days is a soft-boiled egg with soldiers.
And smoked salmon! DROOL! I know, there are some sites and doctors who would say a pregnant woman should stay away from raw or smoked fish… but my cravings for those particular foods are so strong, how can they be bad for me? I’m sorry, but I’m going to trust my gut over a faceless, nameless “source”, thankyouverymuch.
And in turn, my gut is going to enjoy gorgeous meals like this.
I missed a couple of days of the challenge, but once Bee started proudly sticking her coveted bear stickers all over herself, and inevitably me, I couldn’t let #art slip by.
The girl loves to colour, we bought her an art easel, which is where she spends most of her playtime. I could have taken a photo of one of her Crayola creations, but this was something different, and special, I think.
I’m such a proud Mama.
My husband was given two box tickets to game 7, Raptors against the Brooklyn Nets. It was an historic game for the franchise, potentially taking them to the quarter finals….
Guys, I have never been more emotionally involved in a sporting event in my LIFE.
Those last 16 seconds lasted an epic and sweat-inducing 10 minutes.
The ball was in our favour. We could have had it….
At least we got to take home our t-shirts.
The game was at the Air Canada Centre.
Peek-a-boo, uncle Charlie!
*Check out my vlog below where I clear up a bit of confusion about the whole “being pregnant” thing!
Transitioning: that’s daycare lingo for when a baby moves from the infant to the toddler room. It’s basically a graduation.
Today is Bee’s first day of Transitioning, which means this morning she’ll spend 2 hours in the new Big Kid room before I pick her up and take her back to the infant room for the rest of the day. And tomorrow she will split her day equally between the two rooms and then Monday, she starts full time.
Officially a Toddler.
Oh my God. How is that even possible? Bee graduating anything?! I’m still nursing her, for Pete’s sake!
See, the thing with this new toddler “room”, is that it’s actually a whole other building about three blocks from the infant daycare. So on our walk to school this morning, Bee got quiet about half way there when she realized we weren’t going in the normal direction. She could smell something in the air, something was different. Then we arrived, and as I expected, she cried. Scared cries. As I pulled off her boots and unstuffed her from her snowsuit, she wrenched her head around, eyes glistening with tears, mouth snivelling and downturned as if to say, “Mummy, please! Please don’t leave me! Pleeeeease!!”
I remained smiley and spoke with a happy voice as a small swarm of curious little kids surrounded us, half with snot slugs trailing down their face (ugh, another round of viruses to deal with!). A couple of them were just recently in her infant program and only made the transition themselves a month or two ago, so I’m hoping that she’ll start to recognize them and things won’t be so tough on her….
I just got home from dropping her off and my heart and head are swirling with all sorts of emotions and worries, “I hate being the parent that has to leave her!”
“She’s old enough now to know that I’ve left… does she know that I am going to come back?”
“Will she recognize her old friends?”
“Is she going to fit in?”
“I hope she isn’t overwhelmed being the littlest there….”
… these are all the same worries I had five months ago when I walked Bee through the front door of her very first day in daycare, just a little less amplified, I guess.
The difference this time is… I know in my heart that ultimately, no matter what happens to her there, whatever little bumps or bruises, conflicts or struggles may happen, she will be fine.
More than fine.
If my husband and I have learned one thing over these last few months is that Bee is a strong, social, adaptable little girl. She makes friends so easily and loves nothing more than to be around other little ones, playing and laughing and making the most of her day. The amount she’s learned since November is… staggering. Truly. She has grown in so many ways, much more than if she were to have not gone to daycare. It has without a doubt been the greatest thing we’ve ever done for her. And though I spent weeks feeling guilty about going back to work and “leaving her”, it was, in the end, for the very best.
My anxiety will fade quickly this time, I know it. In fact, I just received a lovely call from one of her teachers updating me on her progress (you can watch the call in the vlog below).
It’s all just another step in Bee’s development, in the Creation of Her. How many more to go? How many more transitions? Graduations? Friends? Lessons learned?
… talk about staggering.