Monthly Archives: October 2010

Running my own race

Mr. Sillypants here with a bit of a guest column.  Ms. Plum has returned from a recent trip with Songbird and Flower to watch Twinkletoes dance; they had a very enjoyable time but I think they are all still recovering from a few long days.

This morning, I had a bit of a “cosmic hit” as I sat in church.  It was Reformation Sunday at Messiah Lutheran Church and I was filling in at the beautiful tracker-action pipe organ and piano for the first service.  Pastor Jeff, also an adoptive parent and one of my favorite people, always seems to deliver insightful, inspiring and powerful messages which hit home.  This morning was no different.

He shared a story of a middle age woman who decided to run a 10K race for charity.  This was a distance which she had done a number of times; after doing a bit of fundraising, she arrived (early) to register and get ready for the race.  She gathered with a group of other runners and took off at a comfortable pace, enjoying a nice course on a beautiful, cool, sunny morning. 

After a period of time, she started to realize that she was far beyond where the “turn-around” point should be for a normal 10K race.  After asking a few other runners near her where the turn-around was (and getting smiles and laughter in return), she was finally told by a fellow runner that she was actually on the course for the marathon!

She said that she actually had to stop and shed a few tears, due to the fact that the shock was so great.  After gathering herself again, she decided to run a few more miles to get to where she could catch a cab or board a bus back to her starting point.  So, she set off again, and . . .

. . . just over 4 hours later, she crossed the finish line for the marathon, finishing 83rd out of 200 people in her age group.  When asked why she went ahead and finished the marathon, she replied, “it wasn’t the race I had wanted, but it was the race I was in and I decided to run it anyway.”

You know, I really do love my life.  I have a family I adore, both the “big kids” and little, beloved Blueberry.  My life with Ms. Plum is rich, fun, empowering, occasionally messy yet quirky and magical.  I have a career I love and avocations which are sources of happiness and growth for me.

Yet, when the stress of my job builds up, when I arrive home to find a sinkful of dishes or a willful 2-1/2 year old or a cluttered garage or a neurotic canine or a stressed-out public educator spouse or gutters filled with yard debris or (gasp) all of the above – – – well, it’s sometimes hard not to wonder what it would be like if my life were just a bit different.

For example, what would it be like if Ms. Plum and I were parenting a very energetic child while we were in our 20’s or 30’s, rather than our 40’s?  What would it be like if we had jobs which were rewarding but without the myriad physical and emotional demands?  What would it be like if the garage was a sanctuary for manly tools and not a repository for countless kids toys which cannot be given away (Blueberry’s firm opinion) yet clutter the floor to such an extent that we have to raise the garage door and use the front door to get to the car?

Yet, that is not the race that is set before me.

The race which is mine to run is one where 40-year-old parents have to use life experience and maturity (rather than boundless energy) to parent a willful 2-1/2 year old, where jobs are edifying yet have the potential to overwhelm at times and, yes, where a garage is used for any number of things, including the storage of countless garage sale bargains for Blueberry.

Yet, if I were in some other race, I wouldn’t know the joy of my life with Ms. Plum; I wouldn’t have the experience of Blueberry suddenly wrapping his arms around me and saying, “I love you, Daddy.”  I wouldn’t have all those moments when I just feel SO LUCKY to be in this place at this time.

Frankly, when I take a moment to look around, I realize this race is perfect.


itty bitty halloween

So he knows we recorded this event:  Blueberry never left the house. We got as far as the entry way with 2 pieces of candy from our Halloween stash and his fireman hat with a side of water.  He didn’t even want to see kids at the door. We were all good with that.

Sunday Snapshot

Him, October 2010

Dancing with Twinkletoes

Blueberry and I have been watching this “teaser” video of our sweet Twinkletoes.

I leave for Purdue this afternoon – Songbird, Flower, and I are going to watch Twinkletoes compete. Flower and I will stop at Songbird’s college, pick her up, make our way through Chicago at about 5 p.m. (ouch!) and then settle in close to Purdue. Dancing is all day Saturday. We’re excited to see our lovely girl tear it up in Ballroom.

Here is a video – start at about 1:40 to see Twinkletoes and her partner dancing the waltz. When Blue watched this he said, “That’s not REAL DANCING.”  Giggle!

The Hurricane

I’ve gotten so many ‘comments’ on Blue’s photo on FB – I decided to throw it up here. Really, this needs a post on parenting a little body full of energy. We’re in it and THICK.

Lots of strategizing going one, some questioning (adoption related stuff – amped up behaviors – attachment significant?), a little refocusing, and mostly just buckling down with consistency and structure. To be honest, I’m just struggling to keep it cool. Today (well, and a few other days before this, I admit) I wanted to play it hard and stern – but I know from experience that my version of ‘hard and stern’ is not a good parenting strategy.  I don’t think it works for me – I prefer “yes” parenting to “no” parenting.  And, I know how to use the “I mean business” voice, but I don’t want that voice to become so common or ordinary that it becomes MY mothering voice. That isn’t to say I didn’t (or don’t) test the waters, but gosh going off “the plan” with time out this and time out that and “NO!” always feels TERRIBLE! There are other ways (calm and consistent would be my preference) to work the room with Blue. I’d like to save “NO!” for “Stop – he’s about to touch a hot stove!” I’m needing a little perspective here, so I can move forward with a little lift in my step.

Truth? I’m exhausted. Flat out…worn out.  My age and his status as only child most certainly play into the scene. Work and some other worries/preoccupations add grist to the mill. I think I need to make some changes to do a better job parenting Blue through this moment (yeah, because I do believe that this is one moment, to be replaced by another…and I’ll look back and wonder why the “h-e-double hockey sticks” I was all messed up about this moment? I’m a seasoned enough parent to get this intellectually, but not a seasoned enough person to have it all roll off my back right now).

Some of this stuff comes with the move from the crib to his big boy bed.  Whose great idea was that anyway? (It was mine – full disclosure). I *think* we have a little of  the “Advance” – – “Regress” dynamic going on.  Sweet Fairy Godmother mentioned, “Oh, so he’s going to have to learn some self regulation – that’s new!” Hmmmm. Yes. (Put that in brain and HOLD!) The potty has been a focus of interest too – mostly his interest – so there’s another place to advance/regress. I have noticed increasing requests for his bottle during ‘not bottle’ times (like in the middle of the day, or after breakfast). Clues – – he’s working something out. This is NOT the time to check out myself.

The thing is, I feel like I’m losing ground. Today I felt defeated by his intensity and his persistence (in throwing, hitting, objecting, redirecting, avoiding, derailing…you get the idea?). OK, well he wasn’t biting and kicking and yelling icky things at me…but we might have gotten there, or we might get there tomorrow.  Wait, I just thought about it…yes, he was hitting me. He took a stamp pad and whacked my arm with it. I think he yanked cushions off the couch and threw them on me too. In the midst of these events, I’m feeling like I’m losing my grip, not really feeling like I’m digging in and staying the course.

I’m putting together some strategies/reminders:

1. More plans on days we’re home solo – because being home is not enough for his budding little social self. I think, too, we need more faces that mirror his own reflection. I’m going to be more diligent about that. I need to find places where he and I can interact in more social environments (I mean to say, good stimulating time for the two of us that is fun and also satisfies his own social curiosities – it’s not that he’s a super social guy, but he does like to witness the world).

2. Coffee at 3:00 every day – skim latte is my preference. It WILL help with my energy. I need some help. Sad. True.

3. Some additional consequences for certain behaviors; objects that get thrown around the house just for the ‘fun of it’ will get put up and away for their own ‘time out’ (he’s not throwing things at me/us – he’s just tossing them around – – testing?).

4. I’m not a huge fan of time out, so we’ll work a little harder at “work it out” solutions. I don’t like the punative piece of time out – but I have to develop a stronger routine for “work it out” or “take a break” moments. And seriously, if anyone needs a time out, it’s ME. (We had a funny ‘work it out’ moment at the apple orchard; he refused to let anyone but me pull the wagon and he refused to walk. Finally we did a work it out plan and he got out of the wagon to walk for a bit <the plan was calm and positive>. He looked at me and said, “OK mom, now you can pull that wagon for a couple of years all by yourself.” Nice plan, Blue!).

5. IF he is going to be giving up his nap, I need some happy/quiet alternatives so I can lay on the couch/my bed/the floor/near his train table and get some easy shut-eye for 20 minutes. I’m not sure what he’ll do ‘solo’ and happily – but a rest time in his room has got to get in the picture, because I can’t go all day without my own little nap deprived melt-down.

6. Add to my list? Thank you.

7. Oh yeah, isn’t my littlest kid AMAZING? Really, verve – he’s got it!!!!

All B’s – Big Boy Bed


Big changes as littleBlueberry keeps on growin’…

Wordless Wednesday

Backyard October 2010