Thursday, September 14, 2017

Parenting Help Needed (and send wine)

Blog alert: this post will make apparent some of my largest parenting weaknesses. I’m aware of these weaknesses, low on sleep and high on emotions, so be kind.

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About two weeks ago, CB and I decided that our lives were too stable and pleasant and so we decided to potty train our 2 year old. For the non-parents among us, let me break it down for you:

You try to convince a person who still looks at the color red and calls it yellow and has peed and pooped into a diaper since minute 2 of her life that now it’s going to be really fun to hold it and pee and poop somewhere else! Why is this fun? I don’t really know the answer, my dear, so instead I’ll buy you a small, plastic toilet with eyes on it, some Peppa Pig underpants, and remind you over and over that this is what “big kids” do. Oh! And we won’t be leaving the house for, like, a week because pooping on the floor of CVS is frowned upon and cabin fever is fun!

That’s potty training in a nutshell.

However, it actually was OK. As OK as that situation can be given the fact that we also have another human being in the house who still, apparently, needs our attention. And the fact that we stocked up on a lot of paper towels and wine. (that’s my tip for all potty training parents: Bounty and Pinot.)

The sneaky little devil part that not ONE SINGLE PARENT told us about was the after-math of sleep. Now, to be fair, maybe we’re (a) awful parents and this is all our fault, (b) our kid is just super awful and this is all her fault, or (c) every parent blocked this part out of their brains because it was too traumatizing/they didn’t want to admit they didn’t have it all together at all times when they had two kids at or under two, full time jobs, were potty training, and then the toddler decided that sleeping was for punks. (for reference, it's not b). 

Because that’s what happened. As of Monday, our sweet, energetic, great sleeper of a toddler gave a big middle finger to bedtime.

Night one: Normal bedtime routine, put her down in the crib, close the door. She lets out a cry – very unlike her – and you go in, soothe her, remind her to be quiet because her 8 month old sister is sleeping in her crib, 4 feet away, and you leave and close the door. She cries one more time, same drill as above, and she’s down for the night by 7:30.

Night two: Normal bedtime routine, put her down in the crib, close the door. She lets out a cry – very unlike her – and you go in, soothe her, remind her to be quiet because her 8 month old sister is sleeping in her crib, you leave and close the door. She cries one more time, same thing. You have a three and a half minute conversation with your spouse about how odd this behavior is, she cries out again, this time in a shrill, pterodactyl-type way. You run in, REMIND HER MORE FIRMLY THAT HER SISTER IS SLEEPING, close the door. Screams. Now her sister is up too and you’re over this shit. You and your husband grab her from the crib, take her in another dark room, and use your best YOUR PARENTS ARE PISSED voices while explaining to her that this is not ok. This goes on for about two minutes (which is an eternity in toddler time), you give her a little cup of milk, read her one more story, and she’s down for the night. You high five with your husband that you definitely got  through to her this time and peacefully watch the final episode of Narcos at 7:50pm.

Night three: Normal bedtime routine, put her down in the crib, close the door. She lets out a cry – more and more like her – and you go in, soothe her, remind her to be quiet because her 8 month old sister is sleeping in her crib, 4 feet away, you leave and close the door. She cries one more time, same thing. You have a three and a half minute conversation with your spouse about how odd this behavior is, she cries out again, pterodactyl in the house, you run in, REMIND HER MORE FIRMLY THAT HER SISTER IS SLEEPING, close the door. Screams. Her sister is awake and screaming now, too. You want to take your own life but, instead, you and your husband grab her from the crib, take her in another dark room, and use your best YOUR PARENTS ARE PISSED voices while explaining to her that this is not ok. She then tells you she has to poop, you and your husband jump like the jokers you are, grab the potty with eyes, she pees into it, and you tell her what a great job she did by letting out half an ounce of urine at 7:45pm. She’s very proud, knows that she’s won and dominates the earth, and goes to sleep happily.

Night four (last night): Normal bedtime routine, put her down in the crib, close the door. She lets out a cry – completely like her at this point – and you go in, soothe her, remind her to be quiet because her 8 month old sister is sleeping in her crib, 4 feet away, and you leave and close the door. She cries one more time, same thing. You have a thirty second conversation with your spouse about how this behavior has GOT TO STOP as she cries out again, this time, completely throwing caution to the wind. You swing the door open, REMIND HER MORE FIRMLY THAT HER SISTER IS SLEEPING, though now you realize that’s not true, grab her from the crib, take her in that same dark room, and use your very ineffectual YOUR PARENTS ARE PISSED voices while explaining to her that this is not ok, though, who cares at this point? Clearly nobody in this room.She then tells you she has to poop, you and your husband jump like the jokers you are, grab the potty with eyes, she pees into it, you tell her what a great job she did, she’s very proud, knows that she’s won and dominates the earth, and tricks you into thinking she’ll go to sleep.

You eat a Ceasar salad in the dark for the next seven minutes while she scream-cries and your husband goes in and loses his mind in a whisper until she seemingly, miraculously understands logic, and he comes out.

It’s quiet, but you know better. You both start whisper-talking like the captives you’ve become and start to Google “toddler sleep regression” as she lets out a scream that can only mean that someone has climbed up to the 10th floor window, gotten into her room, and decided to take your curly haired toddler and stab her with needles all over her body. You go in this time while your husband eats his salad standing up in a dark kitchen and she monkey climbs up your body while hyperventilating and you realize that you’ve lost. She’s won. You’re a failure. She’s the queen.

Also, you flash to this conversation you had with her not 12 hours earlier:

Me, folding laundry quietly in the living room.
Her: “No, I don’t want it.”
Me: “Um…don’t want what?”
Her: “No mommy.”
Me: “Ok.”
Her: “I don’t WANT pancakes.”
Me: “Ok, nobody was even talking about pancakes. You don’t have to eat pancakes.”
Her, jumping up and down: “I want pancakes! Mommy I wanna make pancakes!”

Which should’ve been your first indication that maybe the logic and reason route wouldn’t work. THINK, Becky, THINK. What has worked in the past? Consistency. What does she respond to? Structure and consistency. What does every toddler thrive on? Pushing boundaries and seeing how far you’ll bend to their will. What are you doing wrong in this scenario? Everything.

And so obviously the only logical solution is that you take her into your room, rip back the covers, and get into bed.

Mom brain: “It’s 8:15, it’s an hour past her bedtime and you guys aren’t fixing this tonight. She needs to sleep.”

Dad brain: “Um, wtf are you doing? No, she’s going back to her bed.”

Spoiler alert: OF COURSE he was right, I know. Please don’t tell me, I need no extra advice on this. I know he was right and I was wrong and my mom guilt and exhaustion got the better of me.

And then, like magic, he talked to her for a few minutes, worked his goddamned voodoo magic, and she went to bed. Until 4am.

Which is why you’re now on your third cup of coffee before 10am and blogging to strangers asking for help. While Google has told me that toddler sleep regression during potty training is completely normal, I’m looking for tips. What’s worked for you? Do we essentially just sleep train her like she’s 6 months old again? We plan on moving her sister out of their room and into our room until we can get this taken care of. Because the last thing we need is two little ones who hate us and the world because they had a super disruptive sleep. Also, the lovely ladies at daycare do not need this shit.

Ok, go! Advice! And remember – be kind. (and feel free to forward, re-post, whatever. I'm clearly not above graveling at this point...)


Thanks, blog world! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Remembrance and Repost

Reposted from September 11, 2012: 


In light of the fact that today is the anniversary of 9/11, this blog post will be slightly different than the norm. We’ll get right back to the randomness and (hopefully) laughs later in the week, but each year at this time I take a moment to step back, remember, and reflect.

Many of you know that I moved out to New York back when I was 23 years old and fresh off of the farms of Michigan State University (literally and figuratively). One of my best friends and I ventured out on our own for the very first time in our lives, leaving all of our friends and family and comforts behind, driving the U-Haul some 700 miles with our goldfish tucked safely in his bowl in the front seat. It was the end of August 2001 and we could not have been more excited or nervous for what life had in store for us.

We didn’t have too much: no phone, no cable, and a one bedroom apartment so narrow you couldn’t pull out the sleeper couch without moving the tv into the kitchen. We. Had. Arrived.

So on the morning of September 11th, I was just excited to be in the shadows of the city. I was excited to be going into my second week of work, walking what was quickly becoming my “usual route” to the PATH train, thinking about how I couldn’t believe I was really here. But as I got closer and closer to the train station, something felt different.

Garbled announcements were blaring over the loud speakers and people looked quite literally dazed and confused as they filed onto an already over-crowded train and into an air conditioned car, out of the muggy September heat. Some guy on the train kept talking about how one of the towers of the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane, maybe flown by terrorists. It was about 9am and we really couldn’t be bothered with "the crazy guy on the train," so everyone kind of shuffled away from him, rolled their eyes, and held their papers a little higher to avoid eye contact. I obviously wanted to be just like the other New Yorkers, so I turned away from him and tried to settle the unease that was growing in my stomach.

And then I stepped onto 6th avenue.

That view I’d so quickly grown to love was covered in black smoke. There weren’t any cars in the streets, there were sirens in the distance, and there was an eerie calm of a seemingly abandoned city. I continued to walk, faster now, as I made my way south down the avenue, staring up at the blackness that took over the sky.

I will never forget the next moments of that day: the vision of the South Tower falling, the sound of my mom’s voice when we finally got through to each other, the feeling of complete and utter hopelessness as we were told we couldn’t get off of the island, and the absolute surrender to whatever was to come next.

But that's not all that stays with me now when I look down at the newly rising tower on the south tip of Manhattan. That’s not what stays with me when someone starts talking about that day or reminisces about their own personal 9/11 experience.

What stays with me is this: on that day, in that moment, for a fleeting time in our history, this city was united and people came together. It’s actually something I’ve tried really hard to hold onto.

When I first got to this city, it was shiny and new and filled with possibilities. It was also grungy and cold and filled with strangers. It was the place I’d dreamed about and nothing like I’d thought it would be. It was the city I figured I’d play in for a few years and then leave to get on with my "real" life. But it’s the city that ended up cradling me during the craziest and most exciting decade of my life so far.

I’m not interested in debating the politics of what led to or came after that day. I’m not interested in the conspiracy theories and the what if’s that will forever surround that moment and this country. What I’m interested in is holding onto that feeling of being united and remembering that it’s possible. Not in some Pollyanna, “let’s just hold hands and sing Kumbaya” kind of way, either. But in the practical “I’ve seen this happen, I know it’s possible," kind of way. And I consider myself one of the lucky ones, because lots of people can go through their entire lives wondering if it’s possible or not. And now I don’t have to wonder.

People can be incredibly kind and generous and people can be horribly malicious and cruel. And on that day, in those moments, I witnessed both in their purest forms. I saw it in the crumbling towers and felt it as I was guided through the city by a man covered in ash and rubble from the North Tower from which he ran.

So today, just like every year on this day, I choose to look at the skyline I’ve grown to call home and remember the darkness and the light. To know that it’s possible, to take a breath and relax as tourists stop in the middle of the sidewalk in awe of the city I sometimes take for granted, and to remember those who don’t have the luxury of being here today to know what’s possible.

None of us will ever forget, I don’t even think we could if we tried. But what I hope we can also remember is that it’s possible to come together, it’s possible to be just a little bit kinder, just a little bit more patient, just a little bit…more.

It’s possible. Please don’t forget.