Bedtime Wars!

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Bedtime Wars!

Image result for pillow fight childrenSome of our battles are quite epic! Please tell me I am not alone. My preschooler and my kindergartner share a room and a bunk bed and THEY NEVER WANT TO SLEEP!

We have a routine. We change into our pjs, we brush our teeth, we pray in our beds, most nights I read a story, we snuggle and huggle and cuddle and huddle. I rub their back, I play with their hair, I sing songs and I plead, beg, bribe, reward, remind, count-down, count-up, cry, tickle and threaten but NOTHING WORKS!

These kids just won’t sleep. They refuse to succumb to any strategy I have used thus far. The only thing I can think of is splitting them up which will suck for us because we will lose our extra guest room which I use when family comes over. The other reason I don’t want to split them up is because that would mean one of them sharing the bathroom with my toddler who is not a heavy sleeper which means one toilet flush or one song and he is AWAKE! I cannot have that!

I am beaming with pride during the day. They are good, wholesome, beautiful young ladies. They share, they care and they dress themselves. They tidy up when asked to and we operate within a very strict sticker reward system that sees them closer to their goal of going to a fun “place” once they achieve a certain number of stickers. Positive behaviour is rewarded and negative behaviour is also acknowledged through the loss of stickers. It’s an ongoing delicate balance of telling one daughter “You get 2 stickers for listening right away” and telling her sister that “Whining is not acceptable, you will lose one sticker now”.

I feel like we made progress everywhere in their behaviour. Despite my eldest’s incessant arguing (it is part of her curious nature to be inquisitive even though sometimes it feels like she is questioning my authority- it is usually unintentional). The middle child is cautious and every so sensitive, so I feel like we made great gains in making her more confident to experience the world and know that she will always have our love and support. However, together and after the bewitching hour of 7:15 pm, they become tiny hellions that are more boisterous than a small crowd of protesters in front of city hall. I have tried installing a monitor to yell at them through it but it did nothing but make me irate with the sheer amount of shushing and threatening I had to do while they action ideas, which I can hear,  that are just no no no no no good!

I read forums about this so I decided to stop listening in and I took away the monitor. I decided to just let them play but all I kept hearing downstairs from their room is banging, thumping, stomping and screaming. They would often wake up their baby brother which would send me into a small dark rage and result in them losing the ability to attend events, visits or even go out in public! My husband kept telling me to stop incentivizing them with what we will be doing next that would be fun and I listened even though that was the only thing that worked with them! If we had a wedding, or party or fun event coming up, I would say “Remember, if you listen and go to sleep tonight, we can go to…and have lots of fun”. It worked beautifully but this did not sit well with my husband so he implemented the strike system.

Strike one, they lose their books and flashlight (yes, they each have 3 or 4 books to read in their bed). Strike two, we close the curtains (we keep them open for daylight and until they sleep) then last strike, we turn off their star nightlight since they do not like the dark- that is absolutely the worst one.

It is working except, if I give a strike then it affects both girls and the eldest usually says “But mommy, why are you punishing me? I’m listening!” And she is right. I don’t know if this is a foolproof system, certainly my 5 year-old is no fool!

So I really don’t know what to do or whether to actually do anything at all. I am blogging about it to see if I am the only one in the mamaverse who is struggling with this. My goodness, some days, I just hate bed time. If I wasn’t sure that they need at least 13 hours of sleep, I wouldn’t have even bothered putting them to sleep at all! And even though I start bedtime at 7:15 pm most nights, they are not usually asleep until 9 or 9:30 pm- crazy right?

There is something wrong with these children. Don’t mince words. Just tell me- WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE CHILDREN?

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Smartignani

One moment at a time…

staycalmCalm is from within.

As I go about my days and attempt to fall into a rhythm and a routine- I am assured that nothing is ever consistent and that chaos is the new normal.

With three very active children under 5 years of age, I am slowly becoming accustomed to the crazy schedule, lack of sleep and horrific, loud, contiguous noise. Their boisterous laughter mixed with their screams and whines have amalgamated into one sweet hum of never ending “childish” sounds that make me smile and feel humbled that I was granted this gift. Not one but three beautiful children who make me lose my mind and grateful that I exist- at the same time. They have given my life meaning and mean everything to my life.

I have to keep reminding myself that life moves quickly and children grow up far too fast. I can’t slow down the moments that pass but I can try to enjoy them- relish them-cherish them and savour them.

In my ubiquitous  desire to do more, be more and have more- I often realize that there is far too much happening simultaneously. I am currently in the midst of establishing a brand new business, studying to obtain a Master’s Degree, working full-time at the Government and busy mothering the three gifts that God gave me.

Sometimes I ask myself “Why do you do this to yourself?” and myself always responds with “Life is short- make the most of it”.

So tonight I decided to take a moment and just be.

I listen to the baby babbling before he goes to sleep. The sisters whispering and giggling over their private jokes. The wind howling outside my house. I listen.

I am still and and I am present.

It is too easy to be overwhelmed and afraid. It is simple to evade and escape. It is natural to withdraw and become anxious. But tonight- I choose to be still.

I am proud of everything I achieved so far. I know that there is still so much for me to do. I am aware that my goal is to change the world and make an impact on those who know me. But for tonight…I am still.

In mentoring others, I have always replied to their common query “How do you do all that?” – I would say “One moment at a time”.

So here it is. My moment. This moment I choose silence. I choose stillness. I choose prayer.

In the hustle and bustle, I choose peace.

I am blessed.

Grateful.

Whole.

I am ready to face what’s in front of me.

Until next time,

SMartignani

 

And he is one!

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My little Timbit is one!

How time flies when you’re care giving three children under the age of 5!

How can I begin to tell my story and how grateful I am that you are in my world. So many people said it will be hard and it was. So many friends warned that it will be busy and it is. My parents told me that a third will be a big blessing and you are. My in-laws told me that your sisters will never leave you alone and they don’t. Strangers would often comment about how sweet you are and how beautiful you are- and true enough, that you are but also more…so much more.

20160819_111045You are so calm my baby and ever so sweet. You are patient and content. You don’t yell unnecessarily and you never cry unless you need to make a point. Your tears are rare and your laughter is sincere and heard often. You are busy, inquisitive, observant, persistent, intelligent and oh so charming. You wave at strangers and smile at everyone. You are loved and adored by anyone who meets you. People of all ages in Church, in the stores, in the airport and everywhere we go are compelled to talk to you and compliment you. Your good nature and unlimited tolerance of your sister’s affections and antics have perfectly summed up our family unit. You completed us from the day you were born.

Your touch on my face when I am rocking you to sleep is like the flutter of an angel’s wing You 20160417_111938are gentle with your sisters and strong. You let the middle sister sit on you and roll on you and all you do is laugh. She kisses you so very often and you give her the gummiest smiles. She calls you “her Timtim” and defends you vehemently. She
f20160512_172444iercely protects you with every ounce of her little 3-year-old body when someone new tries to touch you or hold you.  Your eldest sister can’t stop telling the world about her “cutest brother ever!” She introduces you to everyone and every morning you bring a smile to her face. She comes home and always asks about you and she can’t hide her disappointment when you are asleep. She can’t stop asking you “Do you know how adorable you are? Do you?”

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Timothy, you have fought through the first week of your life to get to this point. I wasn’t able to hold you until you were 3 days old. In the NICU, I missed your first bath and your first diaper change. I missed your first wakefulness from slumber induced by medicine and machines. I was recovering in my postpartum unit intended for moms who had a tough c-section. I would hear the cries and coos of other babies and see daddies pacing the floors back and forth to put their angels to sleep and I would instantly long for you. I knew20151105_222333 you were cared for and loved. I knew that the nurses were able how to take care of you but it still deeply stung. I woke your father up at 3 am the same day you were born and asked a nurse to bring me a wheelchair so I can come visit you. They were telling me that I need to heal. My wound from the surgery was fresh but I just needed to see you. I wanted you to know that I am here even though I knew you wouldn’t remember. I wanted to pray in gratitude for this gift that God saw me fit for.

Daddy wheeled me over to you and you were asleep. The nurse told me that you are a 20151106_154551wonderful charge and that she loved you already. I was envious of her. I was glad that she was so caring and nurturing but deep inside I felt resentful that you too had been taken away from me. I waited my love for 15 minutes but you did not stir. I knew I needed to rest so I can take care of you when you recover. I went back to my room and I dreamt all night of your sweet scent that would surely surround me when the time came.

I woke up the next day and longed again for you. They had to check me to ensure that I am healing and so I remained in my bed until I was cleared to visit you again. I pumped for you so they can stick my colostrum in a tube to feed you. I visited you many times that day and I was told that I still can’t hold you. The hardest part is seeing you struggle to breathe. Seeing you trying to get comfortable in the bed without much success. I could almost feel you shiver and shake with loneliness. You were inside my body. We were so connected and now you are so alone and we were so divided.

How can it be that after being a part of me for nine long months, you can be removed and yet I can’t even touch you?

Finally, on day three, they tell me I can hold you. An experienced nurse removes your tube and asks me to nurse you. How do I describe that moment? The moment when you are placed in my bosom? How can words explain to you the complete feeling of utter joy and relief I felt? I wish I had the vocabulary to draw a picture of the instantaneous and intense feelings of protection and overwhelming love that saturated me that moment.

You were so little. So fragile yet such a fighter. I was so proud of you. You were annoyed with those machines and wanted the freedom to breathe on your own. You were garnering your strength and procuring your energy to fight another day. But that moment when I held you…oh that moment… you knew.

You knew that I was the same body you were once a part of. You knew my scent, my breath and my voice. You opened one eye and looked at me intently then closed it again, sighed and nuzzled closer to my breast. I can feel your little body relaxing as the tension seeped out completely. You were pliant. You were trusting. You were finally home.

Timothy, you are a bright ray of sunshine and a constant reminder for me to fight. You have taught me so much in the first year of your life. You are such a blessing to your father, your sisters and me. I wish I can capture every expression and every sound you make but nothing can pay justice to how perfect and how adorable you are.

I guess this is mommy’s long-winded, wordy (as usual) and most sincere way of saying “Happy 1st Birthday Timbit” and Happy BIRTHday to me too since you were my gift on this day last year!

Daddy and I adore you.

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I love you eternally and unconditionally.

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Changing Diapers…it’s a poopy job!

baby-1295614_960_720It just feels like all I do is change poopy diapers these days. Between the 11-months-old and the 3-year-old who is refusing to potty train, I have poop coming out of an orifice every two hours during the day. Nothing fazes me now. I get poop on my fingers- oh well, we can just wash that off.  My baby is literally a poop-machine. He doesn’t eat ONE MEAL without creating a poop-filled diaper. It’s like he’s hollow and it goes right through him- I swear it.

At noon-ish, I went upstairs to check on my 3-year-old (because I don’t trust her at all) and she had pooped in her pull-up and smooshed it so good in her pants that it rose above the outline of the pull-up. There was toxic, disgusting waste on the carpet and her clothes. I cleaned everything up but I swear, the kid is way too big to be crapping in her pants!

My 5-year-old just finished doing her business and whilst turning around so I can help clean it up well before she goes to bed, her backside wiped cleanly against the front of my jeans.  Splleeeaaacchhh….eeewwwww…. yuk. Ok. I continued on like it was just another small mishap but C’MON people- don’t tell me it isn’t disgusting!!

All I am saying and that is all I will say, there is way too much poop to go around here and I am just so tired of cleaning it up. I think I will be only so glad when I can off-load the kids on the child care staff and say “They are all yours now- along with their considerable commitment to excretion, enjoy!”

Ok. that’s it. I just wanted to vent.

Thanks for listening. I am now going to continue my pooparific day!

 

Another crazy year!

crazy-829178_960_720So Christmas 2016 is around the corner and I am just guffawing at how quickly time is melting away. I am constantly looking at my “babies” (and I am using that term loosely since they are now 3 and 5) and wondering “What the heck happened?”

There is no end to my disbelief that time could possibly move that fast. It needs to SLOW DOWN. Seriously.

My baby, who I feel I just had and brought home yesterday is almost one year old! What?! I’m so saddened yet secretly relieved that he made it this far with his two crazy older sisters jabbing, kicking, poking and kissing the heck out of him!

This year was like so many before it, CRAZY! Is it me or do things get more insane each year you get older?

Let’s see, this year alone I sold my business, almost lost my mom, raised thousands of dollars to save my mom, helped two close friends through some tough times, reconnected with family that I didn’t know before, survived three grueling months of sickness that was passed back and forth between the members of my family, contracted some form of illness that gives me constant and intense bone pain throughout my entire body and I got rammed in the back of my SUV with all my kids in the car. And it is only the beginning of October- OY VEY!

I am grateful and so thankful to God that nothing really bad happened this year. Even though I keep waiting for something really bad to happen- there is, sadly, an ever-present sense of foreboding and doom that resides deep within my soul. I have to intentionally wake up each morning and suppress it like a dormant demon that is inflaming me and trying to steal my joy.

Talking about joy- I have more joy in my life than I can wish for. My children and husband, my family and friends. My brother and sister. My in-laws and nieces and nephews. I am so blessed with such amazing and lovely people in my life that I seldom fear the demons within. But there is one remaining phase in my life, I neither wish to face nor desire to imagine… leaving my children to return to work.

It is very difficult for me to acknowledge this but some days, like all other moms, I have a deep and seated desire to wake up, put make-up on and leave the house to go to a place where I can make money and talk to other adults about stuff other than poopy diapers, dirty dishes and the endless nagging of a threenager. Then almost immediately afterwards, I am plagued with intense guilt combined with profound sadness. I feel like I am giving up on my babies who are growing up too fast (hence the initial part of this post) and I am abandoning them in favour of adult conversation and income stability. I loathe the decision to return to work and I envy the ladies who can afford to stay home with their children but I know in my heart that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home-mommy. I really don’t like house chores and I am quite tired of my kids by the time noon hits. If I am being very truthful, I look forward to missing them a bit – is that awful to admit?

We were looking at the childcare options available to us and we decided to go with a nanny. With three children (2 full-time and 1 part-time) this was our only option. The nanny will apparently help keep the house tidy and clean as well as  take care of my children. We interviewed many people and met many nice ladies in the process. We perfected our questions and made a decision. I will not jinx it yet because it is not confirmed but I do hope she accepts our offer.

I am not sure why I even wrote this post. I just needed to let it be known that I am going back to work and maybe seek validation from other moms who were in my shoes?

If you are that mommy- talk to me and tell me I am not insane and heartless because of my sporadic and intermittent fluctuations of wanting to play grown-up after my maternity leave is up some days and my intensely deep and mourning-like days of loss and pain for the future of my children without me for 9 hours a day.

Talk to me!

SMartignani

 

Judgement and Consequence

I wanted to write this for a while but I don’t think I have enough hours in the day. With three active children under the age of 5, I am like a feather caught in a whirlwind torpedo of activities: potty training, teething, tantrums, tucking in, tickling, travelling and tumultuous transformations.  But I am still holding it together… I think.

I am sure oKasketaldi_haurra_001ther parents can see the wild look in my eyes because I haven’t slept in 6 years or the suspicious glances flicked at me because each of my children including the baby have a bump or scratch (all self-inflicted, I assure you). I am positive that other moms are looking at the way my 5-year-old crosses her arms and stomps and yells “NO! Mommy- I don’t want that!” and thinking that she is spoiled and lacking in discipline. Or shaking their heads when my almost 3-year-old decides to pick her nose and eat it (gross, right?) because we don’t correct her (which we do every time) and that she will forever be a perpetual proboscis picker.

Here is the thing… I don’t really care about what others are thinking or feeling or perceiving or believing. My world is centred on my children whom I know intimately since the moment of their first wail into the world.

I was at the mall the other day and in the little play area and I saw a mother struggling with her toddler while trying to jiggle her baby on her shoulder. She was getting so frustrated and her cheeks were flushed and her baby was getting quite stirred (literally and figuratively) because she was over-jiggling. The two moms next to me were talking about this particular poor soul and saying the following:

Lady 1: “Oh my, that little girl is NOT happy!”

Lady 2: “Mom needs to get a handle on her before X (her own toddler) sees that behaviour and starts to copy it!”

Lady 1: “Some people just don’t know how to control their kids! It’s because she decided to have a baby, the little girl is probably needing attention”

Lady 2: “Exactly! This is why I am spacing mine apart. Exactly for that reason”

At this point, I had enough. I huffed really audibly as I stood up and I spared them one sneer and a quick “You are far from perfect yourselves ladies!” and then I confidently and quickly approached the mom of the melting down toddler and shaken baby and softly said:

“It’s ok, mine do the same thing. My 2-year-old is in there playing happily, for now, can I offer you a hand? I have a baby too but he is sound asleep, would you like me to carry your little angel while you deal with your baby girl?”

The relief that washed over the mother was indescribable. She hesitated for about one second then she gave me her baby. I stood there making googly eyes at the baby and she calmed down and started to give me the sweetest smiles. I was singing her silly songs and dancing with her while her mom was dealing with her sister. The lady told her 2-year-old that she will get some Skittles if she just calms down and tells her what is wrong using her big girl words (we do the same). The toddler stood up and in between bouts of tears and noisy, wet sobs proclaimed, “I pooh”. Profound declaration but adequate explanation of her crappy disposition (pun intended).

Mom told her that it will be ok and that she will change her. Toddler hugged her and looked up and me. I smiled and I handed the baby back to mommy informing her that she will have to change two poopy diapers and that I know exactly what that is like too. She took the baby and the toddler and went to the family washroom. I walked back to the main benches where judgy lady 1 & 2 are sitting and I wedge myself right next to them. My daughter is standing aside as one of their sons shoves another child off the climbing thingy. Lady 2 who was afraid of the toddler’s behaviour affecting her angelic son turns to her friends and says “He is so assertive- isn’t that cute?”

Wow. Perceptions.

I turn to her and gently respond:

“That is not being assertive, that is called being aggressive. Assertive is standing up for yourself and giving your opinion but what he is doing is pushing and shoving other children out of his way. That is being aggressive. So is judging a mom who is in the middle of a toddler meltdown. You should really stop and look at your house made of glass before you start throwing rocks!”

Yup. That happened. True story. I did say all that.

I expected a fight. I expected cursing. I even expected her to punch me in the face.

Instead, I got a teary and ashamed lady who quietly said “You are right. He is a little terror and I don’t know what to do with him? What should I do? He is our only child and I am having a terrible time bearing another child. I am scared that he will be the only child and that he will become a bully. I was bullied in school by a boy. I don’t want my son to be that way.”

Ah, what? What just happened? This, I did not expect.

I proceeded to spend the next hour with this lady and her friend who felt equally ashamed and mom of toddler and baby at the special play place at the mall. After the apologies and the brief discussion about how we should be kind to one another and stop the judging because we ALL need help, we started discussing strategies and parenting tricks that worked for each of us.

My toddler and the baby got tired and hungry and wanted to leave but I certainly did not. We agreed to meet again soon and we even exchanged contact information. We went from being four strangers waiting on their kids to play to four friends who joined the same Mommy Facebook Group.

It was super cool and I even got to hold the little ray of sunshine baby girl again while the lady I helped held my baby boy. All around awesomeness.

Moral of the story:

STOP judging other moms. Get off your butt and help. You are not perfect. Your children are far from perfect as well. The only perfection is founded in our humanity. So like Ellen DeGeneres says “Be kind to one another”.

Love,

SMartignani

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