Category Archives: Motherhood

“Knock On Wood”

I always hear Moms at preschool, Moms at school, Moms at the doctor’s office, Moms at the stores, Moms, Moms, Moms EVERYWHERE saying positive statements about their kids and I often wonder are they struck with the same twisted fate I am….do their positive statements come back to ‘bite them in the ass’ like mine always seem to do?  Is this just another cruel joke played on us Moms or it is just another cruel joke played on me?

Now I certainly am not a person who brags.  I am proud of my children but I do not brag…I just wasn’t raised to boast and draw attention to myself or the people around me in that type of fashion.  I typically don’t comment on my children in reference to others children unless they ask.  However, it seems like any time I am having a conversation when I can say something positive about one of my children…they always prove me wrong forcing me to shove my big foot in my mouth.   These are a few of the incidences I am referring to:

Friend:  “My girls fight like cats, they hit and punch – I don’t know what to do.  Are your boys like that?”

Me:  “Well, fortunately they don’t really fight.  They don’t always get along, but I can’t really say that they get physical with each other.”

Scenario no more than 20 minutes later:  My oldest son is shoving my younger one onto the bed yelling for him to give him his Bionicle — while the little one is ready to take a bite out of the older ones arm.

Friend 2:  “I’m having such a tough time with putting the baby down at bedtime.  She just screams and cries and I can’t leave the room until I rock her to sleep.  Is your baby like that?”

Me:  “Once in a while she’s tough, but generally speaking she’s a pretty good sleeper that can put herself to sleep.”

Scenario that evening and the next weeks following:  Baby screaming constantly at bedtime.  Can’t put her down awake and have to rock her to sleep and sneak out when she’s finally drifted off.

Friend 3:  “My Tommy has been having tantrums where he’ll just scream to get what he wants and I am ready to scream myself.  Did you ever have to deal with that kind of a tantrum?”

Me:  “Well, my kids get mad, don’t get me wrong – but they really don’t have temper tantrums.  They may not like something and they let me know but not by having a tantrum.  They usually just say they don’t want to do something or they don’t like it.”

Scenario at preschool:  My child didn’t get to finish an art project in the time allotted so he threw himself down on the floor and when the teacher told him to get up he said no.

I could keep going but I’m sure you get the point.  Now, my question is why can’t I ever say anything positive about my children without them proving me wrong?  It’s gotten to the point where I have to premise every positive thing I say with, “knock on wood.”  And you know what…………I’m always knocking.

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No Drama For This Mama

No parent likes when their child gets sick.  Not only do we worry about how the child is feeling but also how seriously sick they are or might become; if/when the other children will get the illness;  what medicine may help themmother feel better, faster and…. how long the entire dynamic of the household will be thrown off.  By now I’ve learned that one of my children has an odd symptom associated with every sickness he seems to acquire….extreme drama.  His theatrics have a way of throwing our family off course.

This past week I dealt with my younger son having a fever, cough, sore throat, and general malaise.  He, I must say, is generally a trooper and this time was no different.  He knows when he doesn’t feel good that his body is telling him to rest.  He stays in bed a few days, with very little complaining and very little requests.  He’s a very easy to please patient….he pretty much just asks us to shut the door and let him sleep.

By the end of the week my sick son was back to his old “piratey” self, dressing up as a bucaneer ready to sail the seven seas.  It was when my older son got off the bus that I knew we were about to embark on another medical misadventure.  Maybe it was the dragging of his bag, the forlorn look on his face, his droopy eyes or the, “you need to feel sorry for me because I’m not feeling well,” gaze that alerted me that the drama in our infirmary was about to begin.

Now, I feel for my children when they hurt…every parent does, but I’ve got to tell you that the whining and theatrics that go along with the illness or pain could win this kid an academy award.   He woke up the other night with the croup and stridor (labored breathing).   While standing in a steamy bathroom, still all worked-up, he says – or should I say – sings — “am I going to diiiieeeee……..I can’t breathe, why is this happening to meeeeeeeeeeeeee OOOHHHHHHHH?”  Don’t get me wrong, I understand how frightening it must be for a kid to feel like he can’t breathe and I truly sympathized with him –  even his question was legitimate….to him I’m sure it did feel like he really couldn’t breathe.  It’s the way he sings his words and the jog in place that he does that adds the drama to the event.

I reassured my son that he was going to be fine.  I explained what was happening to him and the reason why he felt like he couldn’t breathe.  I thought he seemed a little more calmed down.  Then he vibrates an operatic voice, “what do you know about this anyway?”  Again, very dramatic.  I explained that the fact that his lips and fingernails weren’t blue was a good sign that he would be alright and that he would get through this….he wouldn’t die.   After the ‘steam room’ we bundled up (it was very cold) and headed outside.  This may sound barbaric but there is a medical explanation for it.  Apparently the cold air helps the inflammation in the airways go down so it becomes easier to breathe (it only has to be for a few minutes and it does seem to work).  Once again my son sings his words to me, through tears, “what are you trying to do – kill me?”  At this point I had had enough of the theatrics and knew it was best for both he and I to call it a night.

The next few days my husband and I become my son’s servants who he apparently beckons by clapping his hands.  He writes on a notepad, in dramatic fashion, that he can’t talk but needs a drink.  Twenty minutes later I hear a clap…..I’m being summoned……………again.  This time he points to the drink I had gotten him earlier, at the foot of his bed….two feet away from him.  Half hour later….more clapping………….this time he requests a popsicle.   Another twenty minutes goes by and more clapping…..he wants a blanket…..more clapping — he doesn’t want a blanket, etc. etc. etc.

See how the whole household is altered by the event of one sick child?  I anxiously wait for the minute I see some spark of recovery that will allow my son to exit center stage and help us all to return to our normal life…..bringing this soap opera to an end.

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Hope We Get An “A”

Would you like to know the way I spent this past weekend?  Well, I ended up doing helping my eight year old do a report and project on Louis Armstrong.  Since it is Black History month the teacher at my son’s private school required them to write a report, make a memory box and display board.  Now, I don’t remember at eight years old ever having to do something this involved.  At eight I think we were just starting to read, but alas this is the way things are now…we expect our youngsters to be years ahead in some respects then get upset when they act their age.  Anyway, the project was assigned a few weeks ago and like any eight year old boy, my son waited until this weekend to put it together.  Needless, to say I learned a lot about Louis this weekend.

Now I have always been the kind of person that when an assignment is given to me (for work, school, volunteering, etc.) I don’t wait around to do the assignment because it literally eats away at me.  If I don’t start the project right away I get very nervous and feel ‘under the gun.’  Ahhhh….to be eight……..apparently this is not a trait my son and I share.  I told him a week ago to start reading up about Armstrong.  He did this in about two minutes in a book that had a tiny paragraph devoted to the singer/trumpet player/dancer.  I asked him what he learned and I think his words were something to the effect, “he sings jazz.”  I asked him if he jotted any notes down and he looked dumbfounded.  “What do you mean notes?”  This is when I asked him if his teacher had gone over just how to do this project.  I mean it’s one thing to tell a kid what they need to do, but if the kids have no idea what you’re talking about then how are they going to do it?

I spent the next few hours with my son finding all kinds of information on the internet, listening and watching some videos on YouTube, and trying to devise our report.  Isn’t this something the teacher should be doing?  I knew I had one of two options….1.) I could let him do it on his own entirely and he would learn by trial and error (and witness a project that would make me cringe from the lack of neatness)…or 2.) I could pretty much walk him through the process showing him how I would do it so he had a better understanding the next time how to do it all on his own.  I, of course, chose the latter.

By nature I am an extremely neat and orderly person.   I am especially so when it comes to putting a display together.  When I went to school for Interior Design my boards and projects were one of the neatest in the class, if I must say so myself.  I can’t tell you the worry that overcame me when I thought of how my eight-year-old would put together his display board and memory box.  The report he did pretty well, albeit, I interjected some key points that otherwise he would have passed by…but he’s eight.  The memory box and display board I held my breath on.  We went to a craft store to try to find anything that would represent Louis Armstrong.  When we got home I worked with my son on how to lay everything out and put the pieces in the box so it looked organized….all the while he had his Bionicle in his hand acting like it was flying.  That was enough for one night.

The next night we worked on the display board.  This is a tri-fold display board….oh goody – more pictures and pages to line up neatly without getting glue all over.  My son and I looked on the internet for pictures of Armstrong, his house, his records, etc….again, all the while my son is flying his Bionicle on some sort of ship and dancing to the music playing on my ipod.   When it was actually time to adhere everything to the board and put his lettering on I really had to muster up the guts to let him do it.  Anyone who knows me has to knows how difficult this would be for me.

I drew guide lines on the board so my son knew where to place the pictures.  He actually did a very good job.  I was impressed.  Now had the lines not been there I’m sure it would have been a different story, as I can attest to by the lettering placed on the back of his board.  It kind of looks like his letters dropped off a cliff………but he’s eight.   So he takes his project to school and I’m more excited than him to find out how his rates next to his classmates.  And you know what he tells me? “Mine isn’t nearly as nice as my friends.  They made really neat memory boxes.”  I’m thinking how can this be?  So I inquire as to what makes them so nice and he tells me how one has a basketball in it and one has a whistle made out of clay.  And this is when it dawns on me…….he thinks the projects that his friends did (probably more on their own than with the help of their parent), no doubt, not as neat, are better than what he did…..and I say to myself, “I should have let him do it all on his own….he would have been happier with it.”  Oh well, as a parent you certainly live and you learn. I just hope we he gets an “A”.

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Unschooling?…That’s Crazy!

I recently submitted a post about home schooling and I thought this might be a nice tangent from it.  It shows usunschool where our world is headed.  Supposedly there’s a hot topic in the blogosphere about  an unconventional parenting choice called “unschooling.”  What is unschooling you may ask.  Apparently, as REDBOOK magazine states, ‘it is a way of learning that allows the child’s interests to dictate what he does each day, whether it’s reading a book on dinosaurs or simply digging in the yard.’  No set curriculum is followed, in fact there is no curriculum at all.  This is LUDICROUS!  Even my eight-year-old son said, “I like that idea (of course, what eight year old boy wouldn’t?), but that’s CRAZY!”  If a child can see it for what it is, why then can’t the adults?

I’m imagining what unschooling would be like with my eight-year-old son.  Although Legos teach him to design, create, and build I have a hard time with the idea that he would actually be learning substantial math skills.  And although he enjoys reading books like Harry Potter I find it hard to believe he would be learning the past and perfect tense of verbs (unless someone pointed it out to him).  The whole idea of schooling is that the child needs to learn.  Yes, I do believe children learn many things on their own, by doing, but come on…they don’t know what they need to learn unless they are taught.

When I heard about this unconventional way of home schooling it rather infuriated me.  I did home school my oldest son when he was in Kindergarten and believe me if I would have just let him learn from play I’m sure he’d be a renowned sculptor of Playdoh but, really, as a parent would I have felt like I did my overall best for him?  This gives home schooling parents a bad name.  As if home schooling weren’t  negatively viewed by society already?

They actually make a manual for this?

They actually make a manual for this?

When I read some of the comments by the parents who ‘unschool’ I was outraged to hear how selfish their motives are.  One woman indicated that ‘unschooling’ to her meant that she didn’t have to worry about bedtimes and her family could go out on the town any night of the week.  She continued to say that it allowed her to decide how to spend her child’s days and with whom.  This all sounds rather self-centered and it’s not teaching a child that there are schedules that need to be followed in life.  I’m sure when that child grows up and enters the “real world” his boss is going to love the freedom his employee shows by never starting work on time.

Actually, after thinking about this more, the parent really is teaching their child.  They are teaching them to be self-centered, irresponsible, and care free individuals.  The whole point of schooling is not only to teach the basics of Math, Reading, English, Science, etc. but to teach humans, from a young age, that there are responsibilities, schedules, and directions that need to be followed.

Like most things, I think this unconventional way of schooling is yet another way to ‘push the envelope’.  But what about the children?  They look to their parents for guidance and if they aren’t being guided and are guiding themselves, how are they possibly learning what they need to be well-educated, well-rounded, responsible grown-ups?  Home schooling wasn’t meant to just let kids run loose and teach themselves…..as my eight year old said….”THAT’S CRAZY!” (Check out the FAQ page).

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“Hang Up Your Nursing Bra”

Prior to having children, I never pictured myself as the type of person to breastfeed.  I always looked at those women as being “nature freaks” and relentless in their strong ‘au naturale’ beliefs.  I am a woman who is quite endowed and just the thought of trying to get a baby to work with the two bags on my chest seemed more like an act of torture for both the baby and myself than any act of bonding.  As like so many other thoughts I had before my children, my views changed.   The wonderful thing about nursing is that it is a personal choice between you and your baby.  The two of you choose to take the plunge and enjoy the “Dairy Queen” you become.  The two of you choose to exclusively nurse or not, the two of you decide when, where, and for how long you continue to nurse.  It’s an experience that only the two of you share.

Just like any newly expectant couple, my husband and I went to all the child birth classes, CPR classes, and breastfeeding classes that are typically offered.  It was at the breastfeeding class that I started to actually rethink my naive ideas about nursing.  When they stressed how good it is for the baby’s immune system and brain development, I was sold.  I remember saying to my husband, ‘I think I want to give that a try.’  I’m sure he raised his eyebrows in approval knowing that he’d be able to catch a glimpse of my huge cantaloupes several times a day if I did…..men.

They had told us in our classes how easy it would be to nurse because “the baby sees the breast as a bullseye and will go directly to it.”  I thought, honey, there’s no missing these bullseyes…..it should be a piece of cake.  Well, guess what?….IT WAS NOT EASY.  It was quite difficult maneuvering my huge breasts and holding a newborn (remember, I was a brand new Mom).  I honestly had no idea what I was doing and from the looks of it neither did my son.  Still, we kept trying.   I resorted to pumping and feeding him with a bottle while in the hospital.   Once I was home I continued to put my boy to my breast but we still couldn’t figure it out.  I called lactation consultants and they gave me advice as to what to try.  I pumped and finger fed him.  I would have a very thin hose, connected to a bottle, taped to my pinkie finger that would allow my son to suck and draw milk out the hose-like straw.  I then was to work up to taping the hose to my breast so it would allow him to get milk quick and easily from it — positive reinforcement, sort of like Pavlov’s dog.  Nothing that I tried really worked.  Maybe it was my inexperience, lack of confidence, and exhaustion that made it difficult for us…but we were getting no where except frustrated.

I was so stressed out about not being able to nurse that I was driving myself, and everyone else around me, crazy.  Finally, my mother and husband tried to convince me just to pump and let someone else feed my son while I got some much needed rest.  Not one to throw in the towel easily, I resisted, but ultimately went with the idea. Over the months I tried to nurse my son, but we never really did it.  I think he got too used to the bottle…and so did I.  I did pump for 11 months and he got breast milk 99.5% of the time.  It was a lot of work pumping but I was determined for him to get the essentials of  breastmilk.  I always regretted not trying harder with nursing him but vowed that when and if I had another child I would try again.

When my second son was born and I put him to my breast he showed interest.  I knew we could learn how to nurse.  In the beginning it was difficult because his tongue muscles were weak and he couldn’t even suck a bottle easily.  Then I had a wonderful nurse who really worked with us and taught me to stroke my son’s tongue with the nip of the bottle.  This would teach him to curve his tongue and get a good suck going.  I brought him home from the hospital on a bottle but I was more than willing to keep trying to nurse him.  There was a lot of screaming, so much so that I thought I was smothering him with my boobs or something.  It wasn’t the tranquil, peaceful experience I pictured.  It was a lot of hard work and worrying, but luckily I had a friend that gave a lot of support.  Without her help I would have ripped my hair out in frustration.  Ultimately we learned and I nursed my second son for close to 11 months.

Around 11 months, my son just didn’t show any more interest in nursing and I knew we were finished with it.  I remember feeling sad about it.  It had created a bond between us.  It was a challenge that both of us met.  It was an experience only the two of us shared.  My sentimental feelings surprised me.  I never expected to feel a sense of loss or sadness over weaning.  Our experience taught me a lot about my son and a lot about myself. I am grateful we shared that together.

When my daughter was born I had the easiest time nursing her.  I don’t know if it was confidence on my part or her personality, or a combination of both but we were nursing right away.   I always planned to nurse all my children for at least 12 months.  Because my daughter is the last child we planned to have, I figured I would nurse as long as I could.  I knew this was the last time I would ever get this wonderful opportunity.

Nursing truly is an experience exclusively between you and your baby.  To know that you have nourished your baby with the best there is to give her and to watch her grow and thrive from your nourishment is a wonderful feeling.  When she looks up at you while nursing with a loving stare or laughs with your breast in her mouth a memory is made, a bond is strengthened, a mother and child are one.  This experience is one that should only be ended when the two parties involved decide it should end.  Since it’s a shared experience between you and your baby, only you and your baby should decide when it’s time for you to hang up your nursing bra.

Sadly, my nursing journey with my daughter was ended…by someone other than my daughter and I.  A few days after Christmas I had en eardrum rupture and needed to go to the ER (it was a weekend).  A physically short, curt, and smug ER doctor saw me for a total of 30 seconds and explained what I would need to do.  He was going to prescribe two antibiotics and pain medication.  I informed him that I was nursing and asked if he could find medications that would be safe and not pass through my breastmilk.  He was out the door, in the hallway, and proceeded to tell me no antibiotic is safe for nursing.  He asked, quickly, how old my child was and I told him she just turned 12 months.  He looked at me, judgingly, and says, “yeah, you may want to stop nursing now, it’s about time.”  I was steaming.  Who did this egotistical, short, balding man think he was?  But you know what they say….short man, big ego.  I guess when you’re a short man you need to feel big in some way and I guess it made him feel good to judge us.

I didn’t like what he told me but I did rationally think about it.  I had met my goal of nursing my daughter for 12 months.  I was down to nursing only first thing in the morning and before bedtime.  I figured the morning feeding would be easy enough to cut out as long as I got her breakfast as soon as she woke.  The bedtime feeding I was more concerned about…that was “our” time.

I needed to take the medication so I really didn’t have much of a choice.  Thankfully, my daughter was fine with it.  More fine with it than I was….it was time and she was ready.  I resent the fact that the choice was not ours to make but some cocky doctor who by my experience with him probably never bonded with anyone but himself.

I am thankful that I was able to experience the world of nursing.  I am happy and proud that my babies and I took the journey and found moments that only we will share.

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To Home School or Not To Home School…That Is The Question

As we come to this time of the year I am once again torn as to whether or not to home school my boys next year.    It’s a very difficult decision.  I’m not unfamiliar to the home school experience as I took the plunge when my oldest son was entering Kindergarten.  It’s extremely time consuming and effects the entire household.  Here are the pros and cons to my home schooling experience.

First, you may be wondering why I home schooled.  Believe me, it was something I thought I would never do (but you know what they say – never say never).   My husband and I purchased our first house when my oldest son was 2 1/2 years old.  It was a house in a very nice part of our town, however it was just on the cusp of being in the “bad” school district….just our luck!  We had heard that the elementary school was rated very good, although it was being compared to the worst.   But we thought the house would just be a starter home.  We figured he may have two years tops in the elementary school and that didn’t seem too terrible.  — I mean how bad could an elementary school be, right?

Well, we signed my son up and when we went to meet the teachers and see the school it was evident to me that I couldn’t send him there.  Call it mother’s intuition or just common sense, but I didn’t see how he was going to be able to learn when most of the students there that day didn’t know the English language.   I remember walking out in tears with the thought of, “where is the emphasis going to be if the majority of the students didn’t understand what was being said.” My son, very bright and well aware of the English language, would surely fall through the cracks or end up helping to teach the non-English speaking students the language.  A burden no child needs in Kindergarten.

I had heard about a virtual charter school from a few parents that I knew and decided to give it a try.  Now, I must premise this with the fact that I love my children very much and I love playing with them and teaching them but I am not going to win awards as far as patience is concerned.  I knew it would be a huge undertaking, especially with my overly active, impulsive, newly-turned-five-year-old boy.  I remember saying “how hard can it be to teach Kindergarten” just to give me the push I needed to enroll him.

I didn’t home school to hide my child from the world so I kept him in the Pre-K program at his preschool.  The plan was for him to get some socialization and play time in the mornings, come home and have lunch, then start with the Kindergarten program.  Factor into this an 18-month-old toddling around the house, needing a nap and wanting to play with Mom and brother every time I started teaching………….Good Times!!

The virtual charter school I worked with used the “K-12” curriculum, loaned you a computer and printer with internet access (they paid for), and assigned us a teacher that we checked in with every other week.  There were also socials organized by the teacher for the children in our area being home schooled.  All the materials needed (art materials, geography maps, science experiment tools, books, and workbooks, etc.) were shipped directly to my house a week prior to school starting.  I have to say that the curriculum was great.  It was a bit advanced; for example art, was not just cutting and pasting but the discussion of paintings by Renoir; Geography was learning the seven continents through song; and Science was knowing the differences between solid, liquids, and gas.  A lot for a Kindergartener to take in, but my son seemed to like it and absorb much of it.

The Kindergarten program was approximately 5 hours of schooling a day…basically full-day Kindergarten.  It was difficult trying to juggle everything a mother has to do:  laundry, cleaning, playing with children, picking my son up from school, making dinner, etc. and then adding Kindergarten in.  I remember feeling so stressed everyday, until it got to the point where I was ready to rip my hair out.  I’m the kind of person that if you put an assignment in front of me I feel as though I have to finish it….there’s no coming back to it later, it has to be done when it has to be done.   Finally I had to tell myself for my own sanity, and my husband’s, that I could only do what my son and I could do that day.  I couldn’t push to finish it.  I had to be patient (there’s that word again).

The program itself was easy to follow.  Each day I would login on the school-loaned computer.  Everything that needed to be studied and completed that day was listed.  I would go into each individual category we needed to for the particular day and follow the computer guided instructions.  There was always an assessment at the end of each assignment to make sure your child understood what they read/learned.  Sometimes there was workbook assignments, journals, handwriting practice, etc.  added to the computer work.  The difficult part about using the curriculum with a Kindergartener is that it all had to be read to him.  At the second grade level I’m sure it becomes a little easier.

We took home schooling day-by-day and finally before we knew it (alright, that sounds a little too quick)….finally the end of the year came.  We made it and I have to say I remember feeling so much relief….like a heavy weight was off my shoulders.  Then I thought….what am I going to do about first grade?  My husband emphatically said that I wasn’t going to home school again.  I guess it was rougher on him than I thought.  Ultimately, we ended up sending my son to a private Lutheran school (1st – 3rd so far), which we have been happy with.

My son is going to enter fourth grade next year and my younger son will be going to Kindergarten.  We really like the private school my older son attends but there was a combining of grades this past year that we didn’t know was occuring until a week before school started (the combined grade levels 3rd and 4th is not to our liking – not to mention he will have had the same teacher three years in a row), and quite honestly, having two children in private school really puts a strain on the pockets.  So, once again, I struggle with the question of home schooling or not home schooling, and once again, add in another toddler (20 month old).  I still have time, but this will now haunt me until next school year.

PROS

* You call the shots – you decide how much your child has to do to prove he/she has learned the information, rather than doing 35 redundant problems in math that mentally drain your child.

*You get to know your child and the way they learn better.

*You know exactly what your child is learning.

*You know exactly what your child has problems learning.

*You get to see the sense of accomplishment your child has when he finally understands something you’ve been teaching him.

*You feel a sense of accomplishment in that you taught your child.

*You don’t have to worry about the bad influences your child may be exposed to in a school setting.

*The curriculum is very challenging and fun.

*You are guided every step of the way.

*You can decide what you consider a learning experience; maybe it’s through a family “field trip”, or a social gathering.

*The older the child, the easier it is (depending on the child, of course).

*Depending on your child, it may be less stressful than being in school.

CONS

*TIME!

*TIME!

*TIME!

*Depending on the parent, it may be more stressful for the child than being in school.

*Juggling everything a mother has to juggle and adding teacher to the list.

*The lack of exposure to other kids his own age in a learning environment (some kids learn better with other kids around, others are too distracted).

*The stress.

*The time needed to balance among other children in the house.

*The patience needed – it can be difficult to teach your own child.

*You have to be willing to spend just about every day at home.

*TIME – it can be very time consuming, I don’t know how to stress this enough (I’m sure as they get older this lessens).

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Monkey In The Middle

I was blessed with three beautiful and healthy children.  I love each of them very much, obviously—- and I love them all equally.  I know, I know, all mothers say that, but I do love them all equally…just differently.  I do have to admit, though, that my middle child, my youngest son, holds an especially unique spot in my heart.

I come from a family of four.  It was just my older brother and I, and quite honestly I learned that I didn’t like being compared to him all the time.  I didn’t like that he spoke for me at a young age and I didn’t like that he usually was heard over me.  My place in the family had a profound effect on my personality (as it does everyone).  Now, I’m not having a pity party for myself…it’s simply the breaks of being the second child and the less dominant one.  But my place in the birth order had a significant impact on how many children I would later choose to have.

When I decided to have children I always wanted a baby girl, preferably first.  As it turned out I had a big (9 lbs. 14 oz.), beautiful, blue eyed boy.  I was overjoyed.  My years with my first boy were wonderful.  He was such a fun, easy child…except around 3 years old (he skipped the terrible twos).  I was the proudest and happiest I had ever been.   I enjoyed my days one-on-one with him and it was nice to be able to give him my undivided attention.  I thought nothing could be better.

When I got pregnant the second time I was certain that I would get “my girl”.  When we went to the sonogram and found out we were having another boy I remember feeling let down.  I know that may sound awful and I struggled hard not to feel that way, but I had it so set in my mind that he would be a she.  I needed a few days to get my mind readjusted to the thought of another boy.  In hindsight, I know that it was a master plan and the fact that he was another boy was truly, truly a gift.  Sometimes the things we think may not fit into “our” master plans are really what we need all along.

Welcome my second boy (8 lbs. 10 oz.)… three and a half years after my first.   I could tell the minute I held him in my arms there was something so special and so different about him.  We had the usual first few day struggles and it was difficult for both of us to learn how to nurse (it never worked out for my first son, I ultimately pumped for 10 months with him).  I had been so blessed with my older son being such an easy going baby that I was sure our luck wouldn’t be that good the second time around, but much to my surprise it was.  My second son was a bit more demanding (or maybe it was that I wasn’t able to jump instantly like I did with my first and only) but just as easy.   I could lay him in his crib and he would just put himself to sleep.  As he got older he would wake up in the mornings and play nicely in his crib, giving Mom and Dad another 45 minutes of sleep.  When he would play on the floor he would stop what he was doing just to teeter over to me to give me a great big hug and then continue on with his play.  He was and still is a pure joy……most days.

He is now five years old and I have watched him blossom into a unique, creative, and imaginative little boy that can always get a laugh out of me and most others.  I’ve watched him try to find his place in the family as he constantly competes with his brother to be heard.  I’ve watched as his older brother, acting his part, teases him with a toy.  I’ve watched him struggle with his own issues.  And I’ve felt a comraderie with him that I’ve not yet experienced with my other two children.  I often wonder if watching him, I see a little of myself.  I know what it’s like to be the second child, but it must be even a little more challenging when you’re the second boy.

I can’t help but have a piece of my heart tugged on when I see how each day he has challenges that my first never did and never will have.  I see how difficult it is for him to be heard at the dinner table when our older son is talking about his day.  I see the disappointment on his face when his older brother blows off something he has shown him.   I see how frustrating it is for him when he tries to do the things his older brother does only to find that his developmental skills just aren’t there yet.  I see how he struggles to find where “he fits” sandwiched between two others.

He truly is “my Monkey in the middle”……but rather than see him miss the ball and being left out I hope we have helped to make him feel like he is “in the game” — not just watching the ball pass him by.  And I hope he will always know what a special place in my heart and in our family he holds.

P.S…..We just celebrated the one year birthday of my third………I got “my girl”.

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