Sunday, March 23, 2014

Knee Deep in Potty Training

“Poop regression”...I never anticipated googling those words when we started potty training (or ever, really). Then again, I never thought I’d be writing a blog called The Tao of Poop either. Hell, I wasn’t even sure I’d ever make it to motherhood, but I digress. What I really want to talk about is how useless expert advice on the internet is in general.

When I google “poop regression”, I have very specific needs around its sudden appearance in my life. I want to know why my daughter has decided to start pooping in her pants again after a six months stretch of using the potty, and I want a child expert to tell me how to fix the situation.

potty_training

I mean, Claire’s not revealing any truths. I have NO CLUE what’s going on in that diabolical little head of hers. And I'm desperate. I practically had a ritual burning of the Diaper Genie when (I thought) it was time to get rid of it. I was just about ready to add an "ed" to train as opposed to an "ing". Now, we have swiftly veered off course.

Google, I'm looking for a roadmap!

My search query brings up a plethora of information on the subject. Seems like a good start. Yet, website after website pretty much tells me the same thing. None of the advice is helpful, despite it’s authoritative tone or air of commiseration.

I get LOTS of reassurance that I’m not alone and that my problem is common. Great. They might as well say “put that into your pipe and smoke it” for all this touchy-feely empathy helps me actually solve my problem.

Then, the standard line about why poop regression happens just pisses me off or makes me more confused...

"Perhaps, your child wasn’t 'truly' potty trained to begin with."

"What?" I want to yell at the computer, “You don’t know me! How dare you judge me! It’s been six months! Six months, dammit!...So, ok, calm down; you're yelling at a website," I say to myself. "Keep reading. If it isn’t that, how about..."

"There’s likely been a big change in your child’s life that’s caused the sudden regression."

Now, I just look at my daughter like she’s the Sphinx. "What has happened to her?? Is she ok??" I think, desperately, "Speak child, speak!!!" 

I finally get to the solutions that the experts have to offer, which are always just plain common sense, e.g. not helpful....

"Wait it out, be kind and gentle, get her on the potty at regular intervals."

"C'mon, can't you do better than that?! I’m looking for something that I can hang my hat on, expert people! I could've figure that out on my own!" I implore to the computer screen.

But it isn’t the experts’ fault. Really, I'm just mad at myself. I'm mad that I had a fight with a computer. I'm mad because I should have known that I would have been better off praying to the porcelain gods than looking for any wisdom on the internet.

And The Tao of Poop does know better. The Tao of Poop knows that my daughter is her own person, and that any designs I have on being her puppet master are limited, at best. There’s a lot about Claire that I will never understand and that I need to just roll with. For some reason, my daughter seems to like to throw a monkey wrench in things. C'est la vie!

It's a bitter pill to swallow, so I go on a futile and fruitless search for answers to impossible questions.

In the meantime, here we are, again…waiting it out…knee deep in...

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Photo Source: Manish Bansal This photo has been altered, and it's use does not suggest that the licenser endorses me, it's use or this blog. License

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


The Tao of Poop 





Sunday, March 9, 2014

Letting Go of Control as a Mom

The Demas family had a bad morning getting out of the house the other day. Or, perhaps, it's more accurate to say I had a rough start. 

We were off to a family get-together and the stars were not aligning for a swift exit. Usually, my stellar time management skills make up for the added tasks that a child implies. Bad circumstances, along with poor strategic planning, made this trip different. 

First, Claire decided she absolutely, 100% needed mama's undivided attention. George and I usually attack getting ready by handing off our daughter to one another, like a baton in a relay race. On this day, Claire had other things in mind.

As did the weather, which decided to change seasons overnight. Dividing my attention between Claire and locating new clothes in the hinterlands of the closet was not part of my to-do list.

While working half-brained and one-handed, I thought I might have just entered a sadistic challenge devised for a competition reality show like Survivor (except that I had no chance of winning a million dollars for my multi-tasking efforts). 

What's more, I was shuttling between the bedroom and the kitchen to make the dish we had promised to bring (nothing like waiting 'til the last minute). In general, chopping, mixing, and stirring, while a child hangs on my apron strings, wears me out. Add a deadline to get out the door, and I feel I'm going to boil over like the pot on the stove.

I know what you're thinking: "Couldn't the free-handed husband cook and/or clothe the child?" 

To this query, my martyr self replies, "No. He would have ruined it."

I was actually pulling off most of the shitshow. It's part of my controlling nature, an illness, really -- trying to push myself beyond my own limits to see what I'm capable of doing. I end up feeling sickly proud of myself.

The flip-side of the coin is that I feel exhausted and resentful as well -- bad for me and bad for the people I love. I remind myself of Mussolini, actually. Yes, Mussolini kept the trains running on time...while losing track of humanity altogether.

Sure, we got to our destination like clockwork. My family got left behind, though, metaphorically speaking.

Children have a way of finding your Achilles heel. My obsession with productivity can make me forget that love exists in the doing. I lose faith that the result will follow. I need to remember to slow down, and take my eye off of the proverbial prize.

When I breathe, allow people to help, and let things be less than perfect, that's when the space for relationships opens. I find myself surprised that the present really is enough. Everything seems to start falling into place...or  it doesn't. That's just fine too.




Photo Source: Collins110, Fickr, this photo has been adapted and does not suggest the licenser endorses its uses or this blog.  License

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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)





Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Inevitables: Children's Milestones that the Parenting Books Forgot

Parenting books are all about chronicling children's milestones. The experts advise on what they are and when to expect them. The doctors break them up into neat and tidy categories: the emotional, the physical and the social. Your child's development outlined in a rather straightforward fashion.

But there are other less celebrated milestones that parents are left to discover on their own. It’s uncanny how universal they are.

To our delight or dismay, every parent on the planet will deal with every child in the world doing one or more of the following with pure and utter abandon. I call them, "The Inevitables of Parenthood":

1) Riding their cat or dog like a horse.

2) Throwing away a cellphone, important piece of mail or remote control.

3) Screaming &@#! in public.

4) Using their head like a wrecking ball.

5) Deciding night is day {never the reverse}.

6) Eating dirt, paper, paint and/or glue.

7) Throwing or otherwise engaging with their own poop.

8) Glomming onto some television show, character and/or song that you find abhorrent.

9) Ensconcing themselves in toilet paper.

10) Kicking their father in the balls.

11) Dining on pet food.

12) Sticking a small object so far into an orifice as to render it unretrievable without professional know-how.

13) Doing any or all of these things repeatedly, despite your best efforts to cajole, plead, order, admonish and/or otherwise deter them.

If you’re a parent and these things haven’t happened to you yet, be warned, they are inevitable. Your
milestones
response is inevitable too. It will likely be similar to other parents who have gone before you. Of course, the amplitude of your child's behavior and your own mood will determine the quality of your response too. But, on a good day (or if you're in pubic), you will laugh. On a bad day, you will scream, curse or cry to the heavens above. Either way, your encounter with one of life's inevitables will pass and you will carry on.

If, on that day, you happen to find yourself in a particularly philosophical mood, you just might be able to rationalize that you are getting in some good training for the inevitables of the teenage years...

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Photo Source: Paul Mayne, Flickr This photo has been altered, and it's use does not suggest that the licenser endorses me, it's use or this blog. License

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


The Tao of Poop 






Monday, February 24, 2014

When Strangers Discipline Your Children

How do you feel about strangers disciplining your children? My two year old, Claire, and I had such an incident recently. It started innocently enough...

We stepped onto an elevator behind another man. The three of us took our places and waited for the doors to close. In the beat before we were moving, Claire reached up to push a button.

The man yelled, “Don’t push that!”

The volume of his voice filled the small space of the elevator car with import. Stunned, Claire pulled her index finger out of the air and hid it in the palm of her other hand. She turned around and looked at him, her brow knitted in confusion.

I took a deep breath and said to my daughter, “It’s ok, Claire. Go ahead and push it.” She did. I turned to him and said, “She likes to push the buttons, so we’ve taught her how to press the 'close door' button.”

He responded, “Oh, I thought she was pushing a random floor.”

There you have it. We were on our way up. No apology from the man for yelling at my daughter. We rode the rest of the way in silence.

disciplining children
My head wasn’t silent though. Inside, I was roaring. I tried to remind myself of other encounters with strangers, the ones I’m grateful for. The time when someone stopped my daughter when she’s broken away from me in a crowd. The time someone picked her up after she has fallen at the park. The many, many times that people have simply returned her friendly "hello". I tried to remember that this man's behavior was an aberration, or to look at things from his perspective. Telling myself these things was not enough to counteract the other voices in my head.

I was thinking about how much I wanted to tell the man that he had crossed a line.

I was thinking of saying that, unless my daughter is about to set herself or someone else on fire or something of that ilk, discipline is my domain and privilege as her mother.

I was thinking, “Dude, I get the terrible repercussions of accidentally having to stop at another floor on an elevator (dripping sarcasm here), but keep your big, fat trap shut. Try picking on someone your own size, you selfish bully!”

Instead of saying these things, I’m writing them here. Perhaps, I didn't say anything in the moment because Claire was with me. Or because I was trying to take the high ground. Or because I'm a wimp. Perhaps, I was worried that if I got started, I wouldn't be able to stop. Perhaps, this blog is my place to vent; where I go to find support from like-minded moms or to see if others have a different perspective to offer.

It’s not Claire and my first encounter on the elevator either. About a year ago, I wrote a post about a stranger who ignored Claire's hello on the elevator, and how angry and sad the interaction made me. I didn't say anything to that man either. That post brought out particularly impassioned opinions from readers. People on one side believed that the man was small and pathetic, and that ignoring the friendly gesture of a child is the lowest of low. People on the other side believed that I shouldn't have been angry at all, who told me that I should have given the man the benefit of the doubt or considered that he might have been having a bad day or, worse, a bad life.

So folks, what do you think? Have you ever had an adult behave in a way towards your children that rubbed you the wrong way? How do you feel when strangers step in to tell your child what to do? How do you think I handled this man? Should I have flat out told the man not to discipline my children or that his tone was aggressive? Or should I have let it go? Should I have given him the benefit of the doubt and gone on with my day? Now that the incident is over and I have time to reflect, I find myself filled with questions…

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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)







Sunday, February 16, 2014

Respecting Your Limits: Avoiding Mama Burn-Out

mama burn-out

My daughter, Claire, and I engage in all kinds of kid-friendly activities on a daily basis. We read books, do puzzles, make play-doh, sing songs, wash her baby dolls, bake cookies, occasionally, we enter a land of make-believe.

When I say occasionally, I mean that this morning I said to my two year old, “I don’t want to play castle and princesses right now.” I also mumbled under my breath, “Imaginative play just isn't my favorite thing.”

The mumble part was directed at no one in particular, but my husband, George, piped in with, “But it’s her favorite!” His tone was filled with implication or, at least that’s how I heard it.

What I heard was that I was guilty of depriving my daughter of a vital experience that was essential to her very being.

My husband’s no dummy. He knows just how to get to me. He had appealed to an insidious side of myself. -- the part that desires to be all things to all people at all times, especially my daughter. I almost bought into it, too. I almost succumbed to the "perfect mommy" myth.

But then I remembered something about my husband. I remembered how George flat out refuses to indulge in sensory play with Claire. I'm talking the second I even mention the word "cloud dough", he practically alerts the press about his refusal to get all messy and stuff.

Sensory play is considered mom's domain. I graciously abide.

So I’m taking a cue from my husband. I do not need to be all things for my daughter. It's fine if she sees that I have limits. It's fine if she learns that people have tastes and likes, and that they don’t always jibe with hers. It’s fine if papa is the one who wears the crown around this house.

In many ways, I am serving all of us by saying "no"...to imaginative play and to other things as well. I’m letting my husband have his own unique relationship with Claire. I’m showing my daughter I'm human, I'm teaching her some valuable things about being authentic in relationships, and I'm modeling how to respect her needs. I’m also protecting us all from mama burn-out.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I can’t occasionally don a crown and hold a staff in the name of my daughter's continued development. It also means I don’t have to buy into my husband’s attempt at a snow job either.

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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


The Tao of Poop 

Check out this week's fab features:

Finding Ninee, My Future Dreams

Don't Chew on the Dinner Table, From the Mouths of Babes



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bad Mommy

Blogging has become the equivalent of a church confessional of sorts. Okay, I'm game! Or, rather, I have no shame...which brings me to my first confession: I would do anything for a laugh, including fessing up to some Bad Mommy moments. My second confession? Some of these dirty little secrets amount to more than "moments"...

I'm guilty of...  

#1 - Lying to my two year old, Claire, about my phone being broken, so I don't have to watch Elmo again.


#2 - Serving the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

#3 - Pretending to be sicker than I really am, so my husband takes over childcare duties for awhile.

#4 - Shoving a Mallomar in my mouth, while secretly hiding from Claire in the kitchen.

#5 - Only cutting my daughter's fingernails when we go somewhere special.

#6 - Playing hide and go seek together, so I can take a power nap while Claire’s looking for me.


#7 - Rationalizing that its ok to not brush her teeth at night, because there's always tomorrow.

#8 - Using my daughter as an excuse to get out of social engagements.

#9 - Leaving one too many sippy cups of spoiling milk lying around the house.

#10 - Celebrating loud fart noises with my daughter.

#11 - Counting down the days til Claire goes to preschool.

#12 - Having no desire to go back to work, once preschool starts.


#13 - Blogging and ignoring my daughter (like right now).

#14 - Only believing #13 is such a crime, because the rest don't really amount to much in the scheme of life.

So, folks, how many "Hail Mary's" do I need to say? Am I absolved yet?

And, for good measure...I showed you mine. Now, you show me yours...



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Linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday, "I've been found guilty of..."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Question I Dread as a Stay-At-Home Mom

"What do you do?"...The proverbial conversation starter that leaves me flummoxed every time.
text saying "what do you do?"

 “Um…I’m just at home, taking care of my daughter, Claire,” I said almost apologetically to a woman at a party recently...

Dead silence

So I filled the air with: “I used to be a teacher..What do you do?”

Why did I feel so taken off my center by a complete stranger's question? Why the “just” part? Why did I need to reference my former life at all? Why did I shift the focus off of me?

It’s not as if I don’t think I have anything to say about being a mom. Hell, I’m writing a blog about it!

Part of my unease had to do with the “do” bit. I don’t do mothering. I am a mother.

Plus, no one wants to hear what I do everyday. That’s one of the wild things about parenthood. The daily doingness of it can be banal and mindless. Yet, I do these things for this sublime creature, and will gladly do them over and over again. I don’t want to talk about them over and over again, though.

Nor does everyone at a party want to listen. I'm paranoid that people are going to hear "mom", and think I’m going to trap them into self-absorbed talk about children at any moment. Indeed, a guy at the party did get stuck in just such a conversation. Another woman at the party started talking about how long to breastfeed on each breast. This guy just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now, me, I was interested in this topic. I'm all about the breast. I'm also mesmerized by every little thing my daughter and other little ones do. My husband too. He actually contributed valuable insight to this conversation. But this single guy in his 30’s? I doubt he was that interested. Talking about babies is an acquired taste.

Likewise, the single woman who I rendered speechless with my latest career as a SAHM. I do understand her, completely and utterly. I used to be her, living in New York City. Manhattan is supposed to be exciting, an exotic place of adventure and surprise. Each night is supposed to hold endless possibility. When I was her, I didn’t want to hear about things like nighttime feedings either. Discussions about the night needed to be about the next party not the party in the diaper.

So there it is – I am now the woman who ruins the mystique of Manhattan for single people.

Really, I am so happy to be Claire’s mom. I don’t miss the career I left behind. Clearly, I have what's referred to as a "first-world problem" here. Still, that type of changing of the guard stings a bit.

Just you wait until Claire's old enough to find Manhattan an exotic place of adventure and surprise. I'm sure I'll be tons of fun then…

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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and BoogersPlay ActivitiesCrayon FrecklesTaming the GoblinThe Golden GleamPrickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)






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