Parenting

Elves

I love Christmastime.  I love the lights.  The joy.  The goodwill.  I love it even more through the eyes of my little guy.  He is SO excited.  Oh. MY. Goodness.

Everything about Christmas excites him.  Ho ho.  Baby Jesus.  Lights. Monsters. Trees.  Not to mention presents.

After we put up our tree, I wrapped a couple of gifts and put them under it right next to Massimo’s nativity play set.  Clearly, I didn’t think that part through.  As soon as he saw the presents, he ran to them saying:  “I so excited!  My presents!  Batman! Spiderman! All that!”

Uh oh.

I responded, very sweetly, “no baby, those aren’t for you and we can’t open presents until Ho Ho comes.”

And he wailed.  He cried and cried and didn’t understand.  His feelings were hurt because (1) those were not his presents–in fact none of the presents were his, and (2) I wouldn’t let him open them.

Oh the horror.

Then I made mistake number 2.  I left the room to attend to a biological need.  When I returned, I found Massimo and an unwrapped gift.

“Massimo,”  I said.  “That wasn’t for you.”

Again, he wailed.  He cried and cried and cried.  It was a great parenting moment.  I had sucked the joy of Christmas out of my two year old baby.

I also thought it was a teaching moment.  A moment to teach my two –almost three year old–a little bit about self control.

So, the next day–I wrapped more gifts.  Again, I put them under the tree next to his nativity set.  Again, he was confused.  He cried and wailed.  He wanted to open the new gift.  Which was either Batman or Batman’s house.  (Have I mentioned that my child wants Batman, Spiderman, Batman’s house, all that–and that up until right about now I’ve not been so sure about embracing the superhero theme at 2).

One thing quickly became clear, if I was going to teach him self control–I needed help.  And I needed help from someone Massimo loved and respected.

Luckily, we have our very own elf–Bobby Gi Gi.  It can be kind of a hassle trying to figure out new places to put him every nigh.  And, to be very honest, I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to remember to move him every night during Christmas until he no longer believes that Bobby is magical.  But for now, Bobby is magical.

So the next night, Bobby went to the North Pole and returned with a letter to Massimo from Ho Ho.  In the letter, Ho Ho asked Massimo not to open any more gifts until Mommy told him he could.  Ho Ho said he was busy working on Batman and Spiderman but if Massimo kept opening the gifts under the tree, he would have to give Batman and Spiderman to another little boy.

Massimo hasn’t opened any more gifts under the tree.

Thank you Bobby Gi Gi and Ho Ho.

Love,

J

 

 

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Wellness

The Time for Gratitude

Every night before I put Massimo to bed, I ask him to tell me what he’s grateful for.  He usually says “Mama, Nana, Da, Buddy, Robin, etc.”  Sometimes he leaves out a couple of people but it is always the people who he finds most important in his life.  It is never a thing.  It is always the people who he is grateful for.

Having just wrapped up Halloween (which by the way was super fun with a two year old–I’ll have to blog about that later),  we are now preparing for Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday for so many reasons.  Importantly, it is the only holiday that Madison Ave has not quite figured out how to bastardize.  It is also the best holiday because it is one that forces us all to consider what we are grateful for–instead of what we need or want.

A gratitude practice is good way to cultivate happiness.  Many wellness experts suggest the use of gratitude journals.  I find them very helpful.  If I write down three things that I’m grateful for in the morning, I am better able to focus on my haves than my have nots that day.  Prayer is also a good way develop a gratitude practice.  Thanking God for your individual blessings is a another way to focus on what we have rather than what we perceive we are missing.

The past year and half of my life has been rather hard.  I suffered a major professional disappointment and am quite sure that I was wronged.  I then removed myself from that disappointing and unhealthy situation and ended up in an even more unhealthy environment.  Now, I’m in a happy and healthy environment–for which I am very grateful.  Although my current environment is not perfect, it could have been so much worse–I could be stuck in my last environment without an end in sight.

During this time of professional disappointment, my heart has overflowed with love for my little boy.  Every time I look at him I am reminded of just how lucky I am.   The stars aligned and God shined his grace right down on me the minute he decided to put this amazing child in my life.  Focusing on the blessings of joy and love has (mostly) provided me the sanity to cope with the choppy professional waters I’ve been swimming in.

I do have to admit that sometimes its very hard.  Sometimes I just feel like throwing my hands up in the air, crying, and giving up.  But I know that the stars will again align and God will again bestow his grace on me in a way that will make all of this struggle worth it.  In the meantime, I’m forever grateful for the people that I have in my life–particularly Massimo.  Even a two year old can tell you that people are much more important than things or status or power.

Love,

J

 

 

Parenting · Working Mom

Riding with the Toddler

It seems to take much longer to get ready in the morning when I have to take Massimo to school.  However, I read somewhere that it takes, on average, two and a half extra minutes to get a toddler ready to go with you than it takes on your own.  Two and a half minutes–For just a few years.  Those are precious two and a half minutes.

Until this past April when my mom retired, I took Massimo to school about three or four times a week.  That made for both long mornings and long weeks.  When she retired, she started taking him into school.  While I’m super grateful for the help (and the shorter days and shorter weeks), I realized this morning how much I’ve been been missing out on.

This morning was the only day this week that I took Massimo to school.  Boy was it fun. Yes, I had to contend with a kind of grouchy child who did not want to go to the bathroom, change his diaper or get dressed.  I also had to feed him at 5:30 am (even though he is fed breakfast at school)–he wanted “hotcakes” and fries (lucky for him we had one of the two).

Then, instead of allowing me to load the car with the various paraphernalia that I needed, he insisted on coming with me and getting in the car –even though I wasn’t quite ready to leave.  I loaded him in the carseat in the dark (which is more fun than a barrel of monkeys)–and he was COLD and thirsty.  Please note, he was cold because I had put a sweater on him–which would have been warm enough if Mr. Patience would have let me run out to the car to turn the heat on.

Back in the house I went to get him a blanket and a bot bot (cup–for those of you who don’t speak toddler).   I came back out and warmed him up with the blanket.  As I was snuggling him tight with the blanket, he told me that he was scared of my shadow.  This is new.  My child isn’t scared of anything–let alone shadows.

Once I had him snugly in the carseat, I realized mommy had left her bot bot (a.k.a. coffee) in the house.  Can’t forget that.  I ran quickly back into the house and picked up my bot bot. And finally, we were off.

We chatted and sang the whole way to school.  He counted to ten.  We sang the ABC song, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the Wheels on the Bus (he knows all the moves and noises), and maybe a few others that I’m missing.  He’s learning so much these days and his vocabulary is expanding a LOT.  The things he says. . . . “OH MY DOODNESS”–is his new phrase and there is absolutely nothing cuter in my life right now.

When we arrived at Debbie’s house (his teacher is Debbie–so he calls daycare her house), we had to take the blanket with us because he was COLD….brrrr he said.  I realized then that I’d packed everything but the kitchen sink in the car this morning. . . . and his cookies we baked last night for school.

Love,

 

J

 

Parenting · Wellness

Present Moment Awareness: Life with a Two Year Old & Technological Distractions

“Can you hold me mama?”

My sweet little boy said as I was putting him to sleep tonight.  My Massimo likes for me to put him to sleep in my bed.  I often look for distractions while I’m waiting for him to rest.  Sometimes, I also issue threats for him to stop squirming and lay still.

While I was waiting tonight (as is often the case), instead of cuddling with this moving little monster, I scrolled through my social media.  Tonight, he reminded me what was important.

“Of course I’ll hold you sweet baby.”

It isn’t only at bedtime that my darling has had to remind me to put away the distractions and focus on the present.

“No hello Mommy! No hello,” removing the gadget from my hand to make clear that it is  time for me to play.

Over the past week or so, Massimo went from a toddler who played by himself most of the time to nearly a preschooler starving for attention and a playmate.  This has been a huge shift for me.

Here’s why:  when he played by himself, I could do whatever I wanted while he was playing.  I could scroll through social media mindlessly.  I could watch television.  I could read a book.  I could do house work.  I could cook.

I could do all those things–yet– I would still be here if he needed.  And I’d feel like I was still spending time with him.  But I wasn’t really.  I was often somewhere else.

This past week, he actually has wanted me to play with him–which required me to focus on the present–not whatever distraction I’m was favoring at the time.

His favorite toy of the moment is a cash register and the food that he likes to sell to me. “What you want?  What you want?  What you want mommy?  What you want?”  He says repeatedly.

He probably would repeat himself anyway because that’s just what he does right now. But I find myself so distracted (mostly with social media) that he will ask me over and over until  I wake up and realize that this person who I made, the one who I adore, just wants actual interaction.  I usually do too.

Here’s to putting up that “hello” and focusing on what’s in front of me because nothing in that hello is half as entertaining or remotely as fulfilling as focusing on the present with Massimo.