Monday, April 20, 2015

Reality: I didn't sleep train, and my kids are ok.

Every once in awhile I get really wrapped up in people's comments about sleep methods for kids.  The truth is that we have routines (usually) and keep set bedtimes and nap times (usually), but for the most part, we don't do much sleep training in the form of methods.  Usually, things I do are pretty against most methods...

I nursed both of my nursing babies to sleep for naps and at bedtime (and whenever they screamed during the night) until I weaned them between 15 and 18 months.

I gave my formula fed baby a bottle anytime he wanted it, and even at night.

I rarely, if ever, let my kids cry for longer than five minutes (and that was only if I could hold out that long).

All of them have spent some amount of time co-sleeping (mostly due to me falling asleep while feeding them), but mostly they slept in their own cradles or cribs (six months in our room, and then booted out to their own room).

I have no problem if you have chosen another way for your family, and I certainly do not mean to even insinuate that what I think you are doing is wrong.  I don't.  I am simply shouting out to those silent and exhausted ones who choose a path like mine.


There, was that loud enough?  I know you sit back, trying to avoid conversations about it at times because everyone has something to say about your kids who wake up throughout the night.

"Your kid will never be able to get to sleep on their own."
"Don't you want your child to learn this skill set?"
"Will they be sleeping with you until they are teenagers?"

Here is how it has worked out for me, just to let you know that you are doing ok.

I have three kids and one on the way.

The first was adopted (and obviously formula fed after the few weeks of donated breastmilk we received from friends).  He didn't "sleep through the night" (for me, that counts as a straight 7-8 hours) for the first time until about eight months.  Until then, he was up pretty much every three hours.  By the time number two came along (and he was 13.5 months), he was sound asleep for like a straight 12 hours almost all the time.  He is four-and-a-half now, and rarely ever wakes in the middle of the night.  He wakes up with the sun in the morning, but the boy sleeps well and in his own bed all night long.  He puts himself to sleep after our prayers and devotions.  He is a rockstar, except for the 5:45 AM wake-up calls.

Number two was a bit more traumatic for us.  He was a terrible napper and terrible sleeper.  It was brutal.  The first time he ever slept through the night was at 11 months, one time, and then not again until he did it more consistently at about 13 months.  By the time number three came along (when he was one month shy of two), he was rocking at sleeping.  He is still tougher than our first in terms of sleep, but that three-and-a-half year old goes a solid 12 hours at night by himself in his bed most nights.  He wakes up more often now to potty, but pretty much settles back into bed by himself.  He shares a room with his older brother, and they go to bed together.  All is well.

Number three was brutal, too.  She followed almost the exact same timeline as number two, but never got in a good sleeping groove until about 15-16 months.  She is 20 months now, and I can't remember the last time I got up in the middle of the night with her, and she goes down for naps and bedtime awake and does her own thing.

During all of that time, I had people giving me 10,000 different ways to make my kids sleep.  I didn't try all 10,000, but I did do my fair share...I was distraught.  I was embarrassed.  I was sure everyone else knew how to handle sleep better than me.  And quite frankly, everyone seemed to act that way.  Mostly, I was sure I had screwed up my kids and their sleep forever, because clearly they will never learn to sleep if I don't begin from the moment they are born.  But it just didn't end up that way for us.  Three of them now, with different stories and different personalities and different sleep patterns, but all doing just fine.  And I am still alive, to boot!

My point is this -
Raising kids is brutal, whether you sleep train them or not.  The fact is that you will be exhausted whether or not you ever sleep through the night again.  But sleep training or the lack thereof does not determine your child's success in life, nor does it determine your success in parenting.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reality: The Toddler Potty Tales, Part II

So, if you have been following my adventures for awhile, you may remember this - the account of embarrassing events in public restrooms.

Well, I am back...

Today is Sunday, the craziest of all days for a pastor's wife (especially one with three small children and one on the way).  I have already read the hilarious tale of a fellow pastor's wife hanging out in her bedroom this morning as her two small daughters fought over "being the same amount of fancy" in their church dresses.

You can't make this stuff up, folks.  It is these hilarious and totally frustrating moments that make this life very funny.  You just have to wait a little while for it to seem funny.

It has been a little while for me (about 30 minutes), so I will now share with you The Toddler Potty Tales, Part II.

In the middle of service, my three year old boy said, "I have to pee, mommy."  And when he says it, he means it.  He has to go NOW.  So, I cart all three small ones out the side door, behind the church, outside, through into the Sunday School hall, and into the women's restroom.  There we rush him into the potty, and all goes well.  "I just need to peepee, not poopy, mommy."  Okay, son, pee away.

I ask my four year old boy to use the bathroom while we are in there, and when I turn around the three year old says, "Look at this, mommy.  What is this?"  He is holding a bottle of nail polish.  As I say, "Please put that down," it slips from his hands, breaks into 10,000 tiny glass pieces all over the floor with nail polish strewn about like a terrible bloody mess.

Lord, have mercy.  And I don't mean to be using that lightly.  I seriously needed His mercy to control myself from curling up to cry on the bathroom floor.

I mean there was nail polish spread all over the floor for about five feet.  On a concrete tile floor.  In this nicely kept church bathroom.  In the middle of a church service.  With three small children standing and staring with their mouths gaped open.  "Mommy, uh oh. I sorry."


So, I grab some paper towels.  I don't know if you have ever tried to clean up nail polish, but if this event ever befalls you, here are some suggestions:

1.) Don't use paper towels.  It will just smear it around into an even more ridiculous mess.
2.) Don't clean it up with small children hovering over you.
3.) Just go ahead and curl up on the floor and cry.  The tears may help.

As I was trying to smear the mess into a bigger one, my four year old (who is still avoiding using the bathroom) keeps saying, "That isn't better, mommy.  Mommy, that is worse.  Mommy, just stop."

Just pee, son.  Just pee.

So, the paper towels didn't work.  Again, I am not sure you have ever tried to clean up nail polish off of a concrete floor, but if you let that stuff dry, it will be like concrete itself.  I know this because of years of failed attempts to clean up nail polish from my parents' basement floor.  You can't chisel that stuff up.  So, whatever I was to do, I was to do it FAST.

I cart my three small children back outside and into the church and sit them in a pew.  I walk calmly back to a woman who has watched my children before and I whisper, "Um, my son dropped a bottle of nail polish all over the bathroom floor.  Could you sit with my kids while I run home for nail polish remover and bleach?"

She just laughed and said, "No, we will get that later.  You don't need to do that."

There is NO LATER.  NO TIME!  Must act before it turns into concrete!!!!

So, she kindly sat up with my wiggly kiddos while I drove myself home for supplies.
Good thing we live a block away.

I grab nail polish remover, bleach, and bleach wipes.  I pray, "Lord, please let these things clean this up.  I really don't want to be known for centuries as the pastor's family who spilled the nail polish in the bathroom.  Amen."

I get back, and plop my 17 week pregnant body down, full church dress and all, next to said spill.  I proceed to pour an entire bottle of nail polish remover over the floor.  Then, I quickly realize, I NEED SOME AIR TO BREATHE!!!  I turn on the fan and prop the door.

Back to spill.

I grab 10,000 paper towels and all I can think is, "Somebody needs to introduce Jamberry into this church."
Thanks be to God!  That nail polish remover was sent from Him.

There is still a faint pink tint inside the cracks of the tiles, but I ain't complaining about that.  So, I clean myself up - as my hands look like I just butchered a lamb for a sacrifice - and I calmly walk myself back into church in the middle of my husband's sermon.

My kids - better in the pew than they ever are for me.

Just call me a pro.  A pro pastor's wife.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reality: 'Twas the Night Before Easter

An ode to all my peeps...

'Twas the night before Easter, when all through their life
Not a creature was stirring, except the Pastor's wife;
The church banners were ironed by the chimney with care,
In hopes that no one would notice a wrinkle here and there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While the parents prayed for silence in their heads;
And mama in her jammies, and pop in his collar,
Had just returned home from a Easter Vigil, hollar.

When out from the kitchen there arose such a clatter,
I heard my pop ask to know what was the matter,
It seems mama forgot the church Easter breakfast meats in the oven,
While she hurried the black load of clothes or pop would have nothin'.

The darkness of evening shown bright with the moon
Gave the clear idea that bed must indeed come soon,
Mamma had a diaper bag, snacks, and three water bottles to pack,
For in the morning time is the one thing she would lack.

With so much flurry, excitement and food abounding,
I knew in a moment it must be something astounding.
For it is true that sometimes mama can get so tired,
So weary, so frazzled, so crazy and wired.

But tomorrow morning we shall sing glorious hymns,
We will wear our new clothes with perfect hems.
Because no matter how much work goes through the night,
My mama and pop teach us it is all because of the Light.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reality: What The Dress Taught Us

You know the dress I am talking about, right?  It was famous for about 48 hours.  You know, the black and blue one?  Oh, no, well, the white and gold one, then?  Yes.  Good.  We can at least agree that you do know the dress of which I am speaking.

Mass hysteria broke out over that dress, just like over any shiny object you put in front of media's eyes, the social type or the infotainment type.  I mean, we went crazy. 

And it was all in good fun, of course, but the debate was heated.  People would literally not believe another person about what they saw. 

"That dress is BLACK AND BLUE...LOOK!!!"
"No, you are totally wrong.  WHITE AND GOLD!!!"
"You don't see white and gold.  You couldn't.  It is obviously black and blue."

I mean, we would not even believe another person about what their eyes were actually seeing.  Why would they lie about that?  It would serve no purpose to lie about such a thing.   And yet, because it was not our experience and our eyes, we were truly befuddled by the ridiculous idea that the dress could be any other color to another person. 

Science tried to explain it.  There were reasons behind some people's eyes seeing things in certain ways.  Art tried to explain it.  There were certain tones and lights used in certain ways on screen versus real life. 

But to no avail.  That dang dress was BLACK AND BLUE.  Oh, or WHITE AND GOLD!

The truth was there somewhere, hidden behind our lenses.  The dress really did have a color in real life.  There was a sure and certain truth of the matter.  Even if you didn't want to believe it, in the end the dress was proved to actually be black and blue. 

Outside of the ridiculous world of shiny things that catch our attention, there is a whole world full of real world, serious black and blue dresses.  Issues that have angles and color tones and real opinions and actual, real truths. 

It should be no shock to us that the feelings behind these issues are far more intense than even the dress.  But the problem is our eyes still work the same.  We simply do not believe another person about what their eyes are actually seeing in the situation.  We are befuddled by the ridiculous idea that the dress, I mean the issue, could be any other way to any other person. 

Even when given specific and genuine arguments for someone else's point, we claim they are crazy. 
Even though I give a full account as to why I see the need for religious freedom laws to cover the consciences of people, others will not understand.  They see so differently than me.  Their lenses are framed in a totally different worldview.  I try to tell them I see black and blue, but to no avail.  The dang dress is white and gold!

But when we turn the argument around, this works as well.  Let's take another example.  I literally cannot understand why someone would think that no God exists.  I look outside and see the magnificent creation.  I see how this animal needs this other animal to survive.  I see how bees tell other bees where to find flowers by DANCING for them.  I mean, they dance.  Seriously?  How could there not be a creator?  So, when an atheist says, "There is no God.  No one created the world," I am like, "What the?  Have you seen bees dance?"  

That dang dress is black and blue and it seems so simple to me. 

And this dress and lenses phenomenon is exactly why we need laws to protect the religious freedoms of all people.  The Christian, the Jew, the atheist, the Muslim, the Native American, and all other people of some various faith deserve the right to say, "Well, actually I see black and blue for these reasons."  The fact of the matter is that sometimes the truth, the real one, will not be what is seen in their eyes, but everyone deserves the right to speak for their faith, even when they are seeing white and gold.