Category Archives: Personal

Let Your Love Shine Through

Hayden 4

I’ve been struggling with my four-year-old son Hayden’s behavior recently. Four-year-olds can just be so challenging. When he was three, I kept waiting for him to turn a corner, thinking once he reached four, any attitude problems would dissolve or at least dissipate. So many friends had told me three was the worst. No such luck, so far for me four has been the hardest yet. I don’t feel like Hayden is a special case or anything; he’s just four and we’re all figuring out what that entails.

Today I feel like I had a breakthrough though. I’ve been reading and watching all the self-help parenting stuff I can find relating to our situation. He can be the sweetest, most kind, and helpful kid, but he can also be rude, uncooperative, and defiant. I’ve been desperate to find a way to diminish the latter.  All the info out there is so overwhelming, and I have such a hard time remembering to use any of it when my kid is losing his mind.

Today I talked to  a friend, who is also one of Hayden’s preschool Montessori teachers, who told me about the Connect Before You Correct approach to discipline. She also mentioned the author and child psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. I listened to a few of his Youtube videos and downloaded his audio book Hold on to Your Kids. I’ve only listened to an hour of the book, which seems to deal primarily with older children, but the take away theme I’m getting is that children act out because their relationship with their parents or caregivers feels out of whack. They feel scared or threatened, so they go on the defensive.

By working on strengthening your relationship to your child and reconnecting with them personally, they will be more attached to you and will naturally want to engage and cooperate more. This was the missing piece for me! I read Joanna Faber’s book, How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen, and I loved it, but had trouble putting it into practice. The theories for Acknowledging Feelings and Positive Time Outs seemed great in concept, but I couldn’t figure out how to employ them when my son was purposely knocking down his cousin’s masterpiece tower or incessantly shouting “Professor Poopy Pants!” for (what feels like) an hour.

I felt like my instincts were telling me he needed some sort of immediate punishment, like a time out, but then why was all the research I was doing saying the opposite? I needed to see the WHY. For some reason it wasn’t clear to me before, I needed it spelled out, it needed to be clear as day, and today it clicked. The reason there’s a focus on acknowledging feelings and positive time outs is so we connect with our kids, so that we support their learning instead of alienating them from us and what we are trying to teach them; so that they realize that we’re on the same team and that we have their back.

Connect and then correct! This was the sound bite I needed! Thank you Christine! I’ve been searching for months for some little saying or slogan or something that I could actually remember in the heat of the moment, and this is it! I love when you find some piece of information that just clicks, something that helps everything else make sense. Granted it’s been only 18 hours since I had this epiphany, but last night we had such a fun engaging evening with our son. 18 hours in and I feel like a new mom…but I’ll keep you posted…

K, now it’s been close to a week since I had this epiphany and it is by no means an overnight fix to all four-year-old behavior issues, but it has been an overnight shift in my perspective on things. As my good friend Dana mentioned to me, she is the mom of 11-year-old twin boys and a 5-year-old son, kids do most of what they do because they are acting their age. They want our attention and often the easiest/fastest way to get it is to push our buttons in a negative way. My hope now is to be conscious of how much positive attention I can give, so that hopefully my children will be less and less likely to feel like they need to get it by acting out.

I need to consciously connect more. I know it should have been obvious, but I had to realize that for children our love isn’t a given, the way we may think it is. They need to see it and feel it every day, as well as hear it. For a child it is one of their greatest needs, like sleep, food, and water, and when you’re struggling with your kid acting less than exquisitely, your affection can slip and the negativity can snowball. The more love and support they can get, the more secure they can feel, and the less likely they should need to act out. Connect with them, play with them, love and cherish them. I know we will still have to work on many things for years to come, but now I hope my love will shine through my (hopefully less frequent) frustration.

Flying a Kite

Thanks so much for reading! 😃

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A Wish & A Miracle

 

a miricle and a wish

Letting Go – A Wish and a Miracle

Life is crazy! Sometimes it throws in a twist so ironic that you can’t help but laugh, shake your head, and hold on for the ride.

My husband and I have struggled with infertility for more than 8 years. It was a roller coaster of doctors, injections, surgeries, emotional meltdowns, and years of hoping, praying, and waiting with no result. After trying everything, plus one failed attempt at IVF, we tried IVF a second time at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. It worked! After six years of trying to have a baby, I gave birth to our son Hayden in October of 2013.

He is now a happy, healthy two-year-old and I am now just a regular, happy, neurotic mother of a two-year-old. There is something about infertility that makes you think that if your wish for a baby ever does come true that you will be so grateful and none of the normal motherhood woes will ever enter your mind. That is not the case…at least not for me. Motherhood can be hard. It is a blessing and a gift, but even though you wanted it so badly there are moments after you get it that you wonder what you were thinking. It is also interesting that after all the struggle and emotional turmoil of infertility, once you have that baby a lot of those memories and feelings of despair just disappear.

When Hayden was about a year-and-a-half we still had one embryo left at CCRM and decided we were ready to try for a second child. My husband, Tim, and I have always wanted two children, so we decided to go through IVF in Denver again. Everything went smoothly, including my mother flying in from Canada to help with Hayden while I was on bedrest, and in March we found out we were pregnant.  I was incredibly nervous and anxious about the pregnancy and would analyze and agonize over every test and number. Things seemed to be going along well, until they weren’t. We had an ultrasound appointment when I was 10+ weeks along and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. No more baby, no more pregnancy, no more second child.

It was devastating. We decided to take the summer to think about things. Were we prepared to start the IVF process all over again from the very beginning? Could we handle it emotionally, physically, financially? As the summer went on I talked about it and saw a counselor about it. I thought about how blessed our lives were with a happy marriage, a happy, healthy son, and a career that I loved and was eager to find more time to focus on. Life was good. We were good. On a weekend trip to San Francisco to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary (our first trip away from Hayden) we decided we were done trying. We would be happy and grateful for what we had and now we could move on to the next chapter of life.

Days after we got home we were preparing to have some friends over for dinner. Hayden was refusing to nap and after I tried to put him down for the 4th time, I slumped to the floor outside his room exhausted. I was so tired I could barely move…was this what it was like to be 38 with a two-year-old? If so, I was screwed! My mind flashed to earlier that morning when I had sneezed and got a shooting pain in my abdomen. I was late too; I was supposed to start my cycle on our last day in San Francisco, but it had only been a few months since the miscarriage, so it could be off…right?

I called Tim who was at the grocery store. “How would you feel about buying a couple pregnancy tests?” I asked, along with the beer and wine he was buying for our dinner party. He got the test, and 20 minutes before our guests arrived, I found out that after 8 years of infertility with only 1 remaining fallopian tube and 4 days after officially deciding we would not be having any more children, I was pregnant.

ultrasound

I am still pregnant and due to have a baby girl in late May. How can this be? Why now? What crazy timing? It took me a little while to wrap my head around it. After months of convincing myself that one child was good, maybe even better, we could get on with life, we could travel more easily, I could focus on my artwork again, I was sleeping again! I am now excited we got pregnant, still a little nervous, but excited. Our wish for one child came true and now a miracle is giving us what we’ve always wanted, two children. Somehow we will figure it all out, there will be challenges I know, but it seems it was meant to be.

Dealing with infertility is so difficult, and I feel deeply for all those who are going through it. There is so much pressure to think positively, to not stress about it so much, to let it go, which is absolutely impossible to do in the midst of it. But there must be something to letting it go, to truly finding peace with whatever happens, and finding happiness in what you have. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant we were watching the 1996 movie Swingers and I was struck by the scene where the main character Mike is getting advice from his friend Rob about how he has to actually forget about his ex-girlfriend before she will want him back:

Mike: Okay, so what if I don’t want to give up on her?
Rob: You don’t call.
Mike: But you said I don’t call if I wanted to give up on her.
Rob: Right.
Mike: So I don’t call either way?
Rob: Right.
Mike: So what’s the difference?
Rob: There is no difference right now. See, Mike, the only difference between giving up and not giving up is if you take her back when she wants to come back. But you can’t do anything to make her want to come back. In fact, you can only do stuff to make her not want to come back.
Mike: So the only difference is if I forget about her or just pretend to forget about her?
Rob: Right.
Mike: Well that sucks.
Rob: Yeah, it sucks.
Mike: So it’s just like a retroactive decision, then? I mean I could, like, forget about her and then when she comes back make like I just pretended to forget about her?
Rob: Right. Although probably more likely the opposite.
Mike: What do you mean?
Rob: I mean at first you’re going to pretend to forget about her, you’ll not call her, I don’t know, whatever… but then eventually, you really will forget about her.
Mike: Well what if she comes back first?
Rob: Mmmm… see, that’s the thing, is somehow they know not to come back until you really forget.
Mike: There’s the rub.
Rob: There’s the rub.

And of course, once Mike finds another girl he really likes who’s also interested in him, his ex-girlfriend calls. This is not the first story you’ve heard about this, so there really must be something about letting go, about truly being at peace with not getting what you thought you wanted that then tells the universe to give it to you? These are the things that make you smile, shake your head, and hold on for the ride. It can take a long time to get there, but once you decide to let go you can find peace with any result.

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