Until You Have Your Own…

i love you

When I was a young teacher starting out in education, I heard something that struck a nerve.  One teacher commented on how having her own children changed her as a teacher.  “Until you have your own children, you won’t understand what it is like.”  Around the same time, a friend said having her own kids made her a better teacher.  What? Unthinkable.

In student teaching, my mentor in kindergarten told me to always treat the children like they were my own.  She told me this after a little boy came up crying at recess.  She gave him a little hug, some encouragement, and sent him back to play more.  I thought I did a pretty good job treating the kids like they were my own: I was tough and fussed a lot, but I always loved on them when they walked in the door too.  Once I had my own classroom, I remember some parents being concerned, because I was a young teacher.  They questioned me often on decisions I would make regarding discipline, and I didn’t understand then, but I do now.

The thing is, no matter how much someone loves your kid, they will never love her the same or as much as you!  Parents get this.  And once you have kids, you will be able to understand why parents are as crazy as they are.

Last week Ale started daycare across the street from my school.  She was excited to ride the bus and go to school.  She was excited to have new friends.  She was excited to get treats at the end of the day before heading by home.   But the tears upon pick-up about did me in.  In five days of school, three of them she had accidents. The other two days she didn’t use the bathroom.  All day.  For seven hours.

I started thinking about how it feels as a mom.  When we see that someone else is spending the whole day with our babies, and they are unhappy, it makes us hurt inside.  It makes us suspicious.  It makes us question what happens when we aren’t watching.  And more than anything, it makes us wish for a change for our children that would bring happiness back around.  I have sat in conferences when moms have said their children didn’t want to come to school, and while it is somewhat concerning, I always felt that it was more their problem than my own.  Until having children.  After Ale was born, my perspective changed; why were they unhappy? What happened? What did I do? What could I do differently?

We (parents) just need reassurance that someone will love our kids as much as we do.  Yes, we know that is impossible.  But that’s what we look for when we turn over our most precious cargo into your hands.  Just love them.  Hold them when they cry.  Assure them that all will be okay.  Kiss their boo-boos.  Hold their hands.  Let them tell you about their days without shushing them.  Don’t lose patience when they don’t understand or speak a different language.  Allow them to ask questions and explore.  Make them feel safe–safe enough to tell you what they tell us.  Safe enough to tell you about bullies.  Safe enough to tell you they don’t like the book you’re reading.  Safe enough to interrupt.  Safe enough to receive your correction when they do without getting scared.

Just love our babies.

And when someone tells you that having your own children will change you as a teacher, don’t get offended.  It’s the truth.

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Mommy Sandwich Every Night

  
This week my kid had her first ham sandwich.  I don’t typically buy sandwich meat from the deli counter, and if I ever do–it is turkey.  But my first day back to work called for a sandwich, and after a bite, Ale was a ham lover.  She seems to sense when a sandwich has been made, and after a bite or two, she slides over to snatch it from my hands.

Today she asked for a sandwich, and I told her we were out.  She said, with more than a little exasperation in her voice and eyes slightly buggy, “Do we have peanut butter?  Do we have jelly?  Put it together, and that’s a sandwich!

Now it is the finish of a long day, and I am lying in bed with my sweeties on both sides.  I can’t help thinking that this is the only sandwich I want: a mommy sandwich.  I can hear both of them breathing, and every once in a while, a little snore.  Ale is cuddled in her “big girl bed,” which is flush against our bed.  She has her Barbie (with wet hair after her bath) and her baby lying beside her.  (Baby had to come to bed with us tonight, because she wanted chichi.)

My chichi monster is on the other side of me.  She’s propped up on my boppy with her arms thrown up in the air.  Her binky is lodged between her ear and the pillow, where it fell when her suckling stopped.  She’s already kicked her blanket down below her feet, but soon she will be recovered to ensure her warmth in our air conditioned bedroom.  Her breathing is a bit erratic and is interrupted by little grunts.

Some people don’t like sleeping with others.  They say they sleep better alone.  Babies sleep in cribs with monitors allowing the parents mothers to listen from afar.  It is true that I will wake up half a dozen times tonight.  Josie will nurse at least twice.  But sleeping with Mama means that her stretches of sleep are around five hours.  Ale might have a nightmare; that has been happening lately.  Mami can soothe her right away with a little pat or a song.  Victor will come to bed in another hour or so, and that will wake me up too.  Someone may need a diaper change or a drink of water.  We can’t all sleep like a baby husband, so I will be awake at the slightest change in breathing.

I don’t mind.

Being the middle part of a mama sandwich is the best job around.  In fact, you might say that despite the love we have been showing sandwiches these days, a mama sandwich is still the most popular sandwich on the menu.

A Letter to Our New Baby

Dear Sweet Baby,

I am lying in bed in the middle of the day with you at my side.  You are starting to drift off to sleep, and your eyes keep fluttering shut.    Sissy is busy, and Daddy walked to the store, so we have a few minutes of just you and me. 

   

I can’t believe how much you’ve grown in nearly eight weeks!!  You have started to fill out, and your cheeks are so chubby!  I love watching your dimples when you flash a big smile at me when I talk to you.  

Tomorrow I leave you and Daddy for the first of many days where I have to go to work.  I don’t want to leave you, precious baby.  I don’t want to think about you growing without me, but I’ve been through this before:  Your first laugh will probably be at your silly daddy.  You will roll over with him as a witness.  You will reach out and grab his nose in wonder.  You will push up on all fours with Daddy watching you.  You will walk with Daddy, talk with your daddy, and play with Daddy at the park.  One day soon, I will come home and hear how big you are because of something new that you’ve done, and my heart will burst.  I will have to fake happiness, while secretly hiding my jealously.

For the next year, you and your daddy are going to be best friends. You will reach for him when you need something.  He will be the one to dry your little eyes and comfort you when you fall down.  Daddy will be your hero, and that’s okay.  He’s my favorite too.

Mama will steal moments with you at night while everyone else is asleep.  You and I will put your sister and daddy to bed; when they are fast asleep, we will get up and sneak out of the room.  We will cuddle together on the couch, and I will nurse you until the sandman visits you with dreams too. 

  
You’re asleep now, my love, and I hope you’re dreaming of me, because you are what MY dreams are made of.  

Love,

Your mama (on the eve of her return to work)

Three About Three

  
Three years old is either going to make me or break me.  

There are moments of sweet.  There are moments of sour.  And then there are moments of, “I’m just gonna…”

I’m just gonna:

1) Eat it–Ale eats everything, but seems to be in a lull for her normally voracious appetite.  We can’t pick up her dishes after a meal if any food is left in the dish.  By the end of the day, I wash no less than four bowls and an assortment of cups and utensils.  She won’t share her food with her Papi.  We can’t save it for later in the fridge.  I can’t even give it to neighborhood dogs, because… “I’m just gonna eat that.”

2) Play with it–toys are all over the living room.  All over it.  Play Doh toys.  Dress up magnet dolls. Baby dolls.  Little People.  Barbie dolls.  Matchbox cars.  If I ask her to pick up something and put it away, she can’t, because… “I’m just gonna play with that.”

3) Wear it–Ale is really interested in her dresses.  Her fancy dresses.  Her sun dresses.  Her tutus.  Her flouncy skirts.  She doesn’t want them buttoned, because that would make it difficult to remove them and throw them onto the floor.  We can’t pick them up and put them into her closet, because… “I’m just gonna wear that.”