Feeling Like a Fraud

We hosted a small dinner party last night with Andy's aunt and uncle. We hadn't seem them and two of their three grown children in a while, so it was nice to catch up. They were amazed at how much bigger the boys were and how much they are developing. "You're doing such a great job with those boys," she said. Immediately, a feeling of guilt swept over me like a flood. Oh, if she only knew.

I felt like a kid getting credit for his homework project when he knew his mom did it all (and as a former public school teacher, you can guarantee that I never saw that! ;) Like I was taking credit for something I didn't deserve. A fraud.

The past few weeks have been extremely difficult it in our house. Mostly the naptimes and bedtimes. For whatever reason, Jack is struggling to go down on his own, stay there on his own and come out only when it's time. And for a routine that has worked for us for over a year, this has been extremely frustrating. In an effort to come to a solution, we decided that perhaps it was time to give the boys their real beds. We've heard a lot of stories where this was successful so we prayed it would be the same for us. Having our day begin at 4am because we can't get back to sleep after fighting with Jack for an hour just didn't seem like a positive solution. So we tried to build up the excitement and transferred them to their new beds on Saturday.

They loved them. They were so proud of their new blankets, their new beds and their new room. But later that night, we started to wonder if it was just too many new things at once. After another day, we were almost positive of it. Since our bedrooms are so small, we decided to set up the boys' new room into where we had planned on situating the baby. Not only would it allow us some time to keep their cribs set up in their 'old' room, but the second room only had one window and one doorway, as opposed to the two windows and two doors (including a closet) in the other. The second room gave us more options on how we wanted to set up the beds. Our plan was to use their cribs as a threat; if they got out of their beds, they would have to go back to their cribs.

One problem. Jack wanted to go back into his crib. Huh? This wasn't how it was supposed to happen!

Perhaps the most frustrating part of it all is how well Benjamin seems to have transitioned. I swear, that boy could fall asleep in a tornado. He's slept through Jack's screams, our late-night talks (or should I say ANDY'S late night talks - he's been doing the late night shift for almost two weeks!) as well as the move into a big boy bed. Ben was following the rules, was falling asleep quickly and stayed in bed until I came to get them. Why wasn't Jack? I thought they were identical twins, for crying outloud!

This morning, Andy had his second night of five hours or less and I had no idea what else we were supposed to do. So for naps, I decided to ask the boys if they wanted to sleep in their cribs. They both said yes. Okaaaaaaay. They both went in relatively well and although they wanted me to sit on a chair with them, they both fell asleep within a half-hour. We'll still keep the beds set up, but it appears that I encouraged the switch a little too soon.

Hence, that feeling of guilt. How can I receive praise for what I'm doing when I feel like I'm not doing anything right? Confession: I am a mom and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Can I get an amen?

But here's the truth. I don't have to know absolutely everything. Right? Sometimes we need to struggle through something and make a million and one mistakes in order to find out what the best solution is for our family. Right? Sometimes we'll do well and other time we will fail. Right? So perhaps I should stop being so hard on myself and begin to simply accept where I am and what I'm trying to do. Right?

So, thanks for the compliment. I know I'm probably doing a million things wrong, but those two smiles in there tell me I'm doing at least a few things right. I think ;)


Kids Say the Darndest Things

I have been LOVING the recent language explosion coming from my toddlers! And they talk to eachother just as they would an adult. They took a good nap today, so I think I was in an especially good mood to document some of the cute things they said today :)

The boys were in the backseat of the car this morning, talking to 'eachother.' Amongst the silliness, I heard Ben say, "Nana says, 'oooooOOOOOOoooo," just as she does in her sing-songy voice. I had to laugh. He said it just like she does.

We were driving home from dinner tonight (at a restaurant - yes, mommy was just that exhausted,) and the boys were talking about the moon and the sun. "Sun sleepin'," Jack said. "Moon wakin'," as in the moon was awake. (A few weeks ago, when Ben couldn't see the moon amongst the clouds, he said, "Moon not workin.'") I just love how their little minds work!

Also at dinner, Ben asked for more bread. I could see that he already had a piece on his plate, so I told him that he could have another piece when he finished that one. But he pointed to his brother. "No. Jack, bread." I broke off some bread, gave it to him and watched him hand it to his brother who was ready for another piece. Oh, these boys.

While reading books before bedtime, we came across a picture of bacon and eggs in Jack's Elmo book. I pointed to the bacon and asked him what it was. "Bacon," he said confidently. "Yes," I said, "Do you know who really likes bacon? Daddy." He paused and looked at me and said, "Bacon. On bottom." I think he was confusing the word 'bacon' for 'spankin'!'

Thank God for these moments to help drown out the times that I wonder if I'm doing anything right! Motherhood is a wonderfully humbling profession.


The Half-Way Point

Tomorrow, we will be 20 weeks pregnant. Do you know what that means? That is the half-way mark. Woah.

What is it about the second pregnancy that goes so much faster than the first? Oh. Perhaps it's the chasing of two other toddlers while still trying to maintain order in the house and perhaps a little sanity. Yup, that's probably it.

At this point with the boys, I was on bed-rest. My doctor's note required the middle school to hire a replacement for the remainder of the year and I was wondering what I was going to do with all of my time. But all of that 'spare' time I thought would be spent preparing the nursery was eaten up by doctor's appointments, sonograms and sleep. I surprised myself by how much of the day I slept... and still slept through the night! Well, except for the late-night visits to the kitchen for cereal and to the bathroom.

That was three years ago.

It was my first pregnancy. I had two babies in my belly. I knew they were two boys. No other kids at home. We were living on the second floor of our apartment. I was an eager new mom-to-be, reading up on everything I could get my hands on.

With this pregnancy, I have one baby in my belly (and I will not lie how EXCITED that makes me!) We know she is a girl (can I get a WOOOHOOO!) I have two toddlers at home. We are living on the first floor of my great-aunt's apartment, just six blocks from our old home. I am a very proud mom, but wish that my boys would just give in when mommy wanted a nap. I do get updates on my phone of how big the baby should be, but sometimes I forget that I'm pregnant. Just kidding. I lied about forgetting that I'm pregnant. I feel like I've got a bowling bowl glued to my midsection, already making it uncomfortable to bend down to tie my shoes (and making it absolutely impossible to get on the floor to obtain the boys' lost golf balls under the couch.) I need to sit down a lot.

One baby. A girl. And we're only about 20 more weeks away from meeting her! If the second half goes any where near as fast as the first, she'll be here before I know it!


Never Too Busy

As an incentive to get my boys into their cribs, I'll often praise them. Like crazy. "Jack, you're making me so happy! Look how you got into your crib by yourself! I am sooo happy!"

"Mommy, 'appy!" they echo. My boys love knowing that they're pleasing us. And they're glad to tell us. Trust me. They thrive on it.

Well, with things being a little more complicated lately, I decided to enlist the encouragement of my family members. "Ben, Nana is going to be so happy when she hears that you're sleeping in your crib! Sissa is going to be happy, too!" Then I decided: why not call them?

So that's exactly what I've done. I'll call my mom so they can tell her how they got in their cribs by themselves, how they're going to sleep in their cribs and then get a sticker when they wake up. And they truly eat it up. "Nana, 'appy! Sissa, 'appy!" they exclaim.

This afternoon, I decided to bring my dad into it. At around 1pm, I assumed he'd be home for lunch. He picked up after two rings. "Hi Grandpa!" I said, with the phone on speaker so the boys could hear. "Where'd we get you from?" As the manager during a busy season, I never know exactly where I would be interrupting him.

"I'm just in a meeting. What's up?"

I immediately tried to hurry it along, "Oh, it's not a big deal. We just wanted to tell you that Jack and Ben were in their cribs." I intended to hang up after a little, "Okay, we'll talk to you later," but Dad amused us.

"Jack and Ben are in their cribs? Oh, I'm so happy! Good job, boys!" he said. I'm sure he could see the boys' smiles through the phone. And hear the relief in my voice. He gave us exactly what we were looking for. Even though he was in the middle of something.

After the boys woke up (from their best nap in a week!) I called my dad to apologize for getting him during a meeting. "Oh, it's no problem," he said. "I knew it was probably important if you were calling me. And it was."

Aww. My dad loves me. And at 30 years old, he's never too busy to talk to one of his kids. Thanks, Dad. You may never know how much of a difference you're making in our lives.


So Many Changes

So many changes in so little time.

The past month has been a whirlwind of activity. At least for a pregnant mommy and her two toddlers. We learned that Baby #3 is a girl (can I get an AMEN?) and we've continued in our sleeptime struggles. For a mom who's used to getting a nap everyday, this unexpected change was not a welcome one.

A few months ago, the boys started resisting sleeptime. Especially naps. Not because they didn't need them - they're honestly quite difficult to be around when they don't sleep - but because I wasn't putting them down early enough and I was letting them sleep too long. Alright, hertle cleared. But then a few days ago, things got progressively worse. Jack started waking up at 4am from what we later gathered were nightmares. And he didn't want to go back down. He insisted on being held - only by mommy, mind you - and refused to go in his crib. Well, this was a problem. A huge problem. We tried a TON of different things, but what's seemed to have worked best was having daddy go in to comfort him and then sit against his crib. And that was after we threw out the Winnie the Pooh book that was thought had been scaring him (it was one about Piglet getting over his fear of the dark.)

Oh my word. This all sounds so obvious when I summarize it like I did in that last paragraph. But I assure you, the last few days were some of the most stressful days we've had since the boys were newborns. Andy and I were both exhausted. Irritable. Frustrated. And confused. What was wrong and how could we get things back to normal? I was trying to hold BOTH boys on the couch so they would sleep (which is really uncomfortable when you're pregnant, by the way) and sitting on their floor and holding them to try and coaxe Jack back into the crib. I tried spanking him into submission, but that only seemed to make it worse. We were hurting for a solution.

Well, we're still not where we want to be. Jack is still hesistant to lay down unless we're right there with him. He screams for me to pick him up the whole time we're driving in the car. And the incentives we're offering for staying in his crib only seem to scratch the surface. But I do think we're headed in the right direction. Thank God for my husband's help.

We hadn't been planning on making such a big change, but I think it may be appropriate under the circumstances. We're going to get the boys twin beds and set them up in (what we had been planning on making) the baby's room. I'm still not sure how much of his fear is from shadows - even with the two nightlights that are currently shining in their room - and how much of those shadows could be from their crib. And since they routinely get in and out of their cribs on their own, it seems like they may be ready. So we'll set up two twin beds in the other bedroom. We'll see how they do while still keeping their cribs set up in their original bedroom; we may need to use those cribs as a bargaining chip in case they regularly get out of their beds at the wrong time. Then, after we're feeling good about the transition, we could begin to make the boys' room into the baby's room.

See what I mean? A lot of changes.

The last few days have, once again, humbled me as a parent. As much as we're learning, as much progress as we're making, I still have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. The circumstances around another child's struggle could be completely different from mine. What might have worked for another child might not work for mine. Circumstances, parents, backgrounds and experiences, everything is always so different. I just have to do what I think is best. Over and over again.

I'm also struck by this truth when I look at my toddlers. Twin boys that we believe to be identical. How could they be so similar and yet so different? Ben will sleep through Jack's tirades (unless he knows Mommy is holding Jack on the couch, then he wants to come, too) and is otherwise completely obedient when it comes to bedtime. He hasn't appeared to have nightmares as his brother, even though they experience almost all the same things at the same time. Just goes to show you: everyone. Every single one. Is soooo completely different. I should also point out the fact that a few weeks ago, it was Ben that was giving me a harder time with sleeptimes than Jack. Jack went right down and often yelled directions at his brother for him to do the same. They honestly seem to flip-flop. All the time!!

So as I sit and prepare for Baby #3, I really don't know what to expect. Not only is this a new child, completely different from her older brothers, but she's also a girl. And she's only one. In many ways, this pregnancy feels completely new and I'm going to have to relearn everything all over again. Labor, breastfeeding, caring for a newborn, carrying one newborn, raising a little girl... wow.

Let's just hope I can experience this one with a little more sleep ;)