Parenting


On Wednesday of this week Hayden had to work really late. Home alone with both kids, trying to juggle dinner and bedtime, I was exhausted. I finally got Harper asleep and was spending some one-on-one time with Jacob. When it was time for him to go to sleep, we were a little loud walking up the stairs and woke up Harper.

I had Jacob’s sleeping bag–a Christmas present both kids received from Gia and Papaw–which have become all-consuming in the weeks since Christmas. The sleeping bags travel downstairs in the morning and are prominently set up in the family room, complete with two pillows and their personalized blankets from Aunt Shonda. Every night, the sleeping bags travel back upstairs into their rooms. Harper now sleeps on hers, on the floor, instead of in her crib. Jacob’s is either on top of his sheets overnight, or sometimes he just wants it rolled up and put away in his closet. In any event, the sleeping bags are always on the same floor of the house as the kids.

But I digress. We woke up Harper on our way upstairs and I had Jacob’s sleeping bag, his iPad, my iPad, and my phone. We charge electronics upstairs overnight, so they were on their way to the “pluggers” as Jacob calls them. I dropped everything at the top of the stairs and went in to quiet Harper. As I was in there, Jacob opened the door and came in. Internally, I was exasperated. His mere presence is usually enough to rile up Harper and then falling back to sleep takes a really long time.

As he walked in, he said, “I just need to tell Harper Dear I love her one more time.” He walked over to her, knelt down, whispered “I love you baby girl” and then gave her a hug. He walked back to the door to leave, turned around, and said, “Mom, I put all your stuff away in your room.” As my heart was melting, and Harper was falling back asleep, I heard a really loud thud. It wasn’t followed by crying, so I figured everything was okay.

After Harper fell back asleep, I walked into my room looking for Jacob. He was in my bathroom. The thud was him moving my vanity stool from the vanity to the light switch so he could turn on the light. He had pulled out my eye makeup remover, the cotton balls, and my face wash towel. As I walked in, he said, “I got everything set up for you.” And as I was washing my face, he looked right at me and asked, “Did you have a good day?”

Heart.melt.again.

As I told him I had a really great day, I realized my little guy is growing up. He’ll be four in about two months. He’s so compassionate, loves his sister to the moon and back, and tries his hardest to be a good boy. He’s mostly out of the terrible twos and terrifying threes, learning everyday how to understand and work with his emotions. He’s articulate, has a memory like you wouldn’t believe, and loves going to school.

As I was finishing washing my face, I told him he was growing up too fast. To which he answered, “And you can’t handle it.” So true, so true. I say it all the time…so much so that now he knows the answer. “You are growing up too fast, and Mommy can’t handle it.” Slow down, time. Please, slow down.

Often, I hear and read about Moms criticizing each other: don’t use bumpers, don’t feed formula, don’t work outside the home, don’t let your kid cry it out…you get the picture. We are quick to put each other down; question each other’s parenting skills; and wonder, secretly, all along, if we are measuring up. Are we a good parent, a good wife, a good citizen of the world?

A coworker came to my office one day in July with an amazing story: another coworker is a foster family for two siblings and the birth mother was pregnant again. To keep the siblings together, this family decided to take another child: a newborn, and with only about three days notice. Can you imagine? Preparing for 40+ weeks is still not enough time, but to grow from a family of four to a family of five, with an addition of a newborn, with only a few days notice…amazing.

The foster family (let’s call them the Browns, for now) took in the other two siblings when they are a little older, so the Browns didn’t have any infant gear. The panic in my office that day turned into action. I didn’t have anything to offer besides some burp cloths and receiving blankets: Harper was still using everything a newborn uses. I felt helpless for a minute…until I remembered my virtual mom groups on Facebook. I simply posted the following message on two “Mom” pages:

Donations needed: I have a coworker who is Fostering two older children while the courts terminate parental rights (and hope to eventually adopt them). Their birth mother just gave birth to a baby girl and this family wants to keep the siblings together. That means they will have a newborn in their home either tonight or tomorrow! This family doesn’t have anything for a baby (the other children were 2 and 4 when they came into the home). If you have anything to donate, please let me know. At this point, even boy clothes would be appreciated! A small group of us will come around to collect anything you have this weekend…thanks!

Within 24 hours I had over 40 comments. People were donating clothes, diapers, formula, car seats, strollers, exersaucers…everything. I was absolutely amazed at everyone’s generosity. Moms I’ve never met helping another mom they’ve never met. All the criticisms end when a Mom is in need. I had Moms delivering to my house, letting me pick up from their house, offering their house as a dropping point in another city. When I said I thought we had collected enough, I still had Moms offering help. 

Ms. Brown came to my house that weekend and loaded her Jeep Liberty to the hilt. Every available space was full, and we still had items in my driveway with nowhere to fit. It took me the remainder of the week, brining a load a day to work, to transfer all the donations. I did get to see Baby I when she came that weekend, and she is a cutie! She was a tiny baby, much like Harper. I hope Baby I is as good of a baby as my Harper.

This experience made me grateful for the help of Moms around the county. We all rallied behind a Mom in need, and that’s what it means to be a community.

Tomorrow, Jacob is officially two weeks old. Or, -1, if you ask my mom. He’s still one week away from his due date. Where has the time gone?

I know family and friends have been asking for pictures. I’ve really meant well; we take a million photos. It’s the uploading them to the computer and then to a sharing site that I have been lacking. I’m exhausted. I know everyone warned us about how tired we would be, but there really is no preparing for this. Our strategy works well–I stay up a little late and get the midnight or 2ish feeding in before passing out. Hayden gets up for the middle-of-the-night feeding and the “early morning” feeding (which to me, right now, is about 7am). Then, we lay in bed with Jacob until around 10. Nothing happens in this house before 10am.

Gotta run–my parents have been here a lot and have just finished making dinner. We wouldn’t eat without them helping and our friends who drop off dinner for us. It takes a village!

http://s866.photobucket.com/albums/ab226/mayfieac77/Jacob-First%20Month/