We're making progress. Last night I tucked Sereant in for the last time (of the night) at 9:45 - I had a whole hour of quiet time to read! Woo Hoo! I've learned that in order to be a competent parent I need two things: One hour of time to myself before bed and a reasonable amount of sleep. I've tried to make the time before bed quieter and have been keeping Sergeant up and reading to her for 20 minutes or so after her sisters go to bed. It seems to be helping. The picture is Sergeant smelling my beautiful peonies two springs ago...a few days after this picture was taken we had a huge hailstorm and they were pummelled into the ground. Not even the bushes were left - they were leveled. They still hadn't recovered as of last year - we'll see what happens in a month or so!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Well, last night Sergeant finally settled down and went to sleep sometime after 10:22. Then she called out for me six (six!!) times during the night. Each time, I sent to her room, covered her up, and went back to bed. She really doesn't need anything, she just wants to know I'm there. But the good news is, I stayed calm, patient, and loving for the most part. I figured I don't have any control over the situation, but I can control how I react. We had one incredibly sweet moment...Sergeant called me for about the third time of the night (I can't even remember what she wanted that time), I went into her room and she was snuggled into her bed with her niney (comfort blanket) and her thumb in her mouth. I praised her for snuggling into bed and trying to go to sleep, stroked her head, and gave her a kiss. She looked up at me with her little thumb still firmly in her mouth and said, "Happy!" I melted and decided I would sit by her bed and stroke her head for a few minutes. Well that totally backfired and got her all wound up again - crap! I've been reading "The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddler and Preschoolers" and am going to come up with a "sleep plan" over the next couple of days. I'll let ya know what I come up with.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sergeant won't go to sleep at night. Since the arrival of daylight savings time, she hasn't drifted off until between 10:00 and 11:00 every night. My patience is shot and I'm not being a very good mom. I tuck her into bed at 9:00 and then trek up and down the hall every three to ten minutes until she finally goes to sleep. She has every excuse in the book to call me to her room - she needs to be covered up, she can't find her niney (comfort blanket), she's done with her sippy cup of water and she wants me to take it, she's hungry and wants a snack, she's done with her snack, and on and on and on. Finally, last night I completely lost patience, angrily put both our coats on and drove around for about 30 minutes. This was my alternative to "losing it" with her. I haven't been responding to her in a loving manner at night. I'm angry and pissy and resentful when I stop back to her room for the 14th time of the night. I don't know what to do. I'm not a single mom, but I could just as well be. My husband goes to bed at 9:00 and is no help. I feel like a horrible, crappy, mother, but I'm also getting pretty resentful about having NO quiet time in the evening. And spring is a horrible, stressful, busy time for me at work....HELP!
Friday, March 20, 2009
My husband is convinced that I have a terrible memory. He'll bring up a conversation we had six years ago and express mild annoyance when I don't remember the incident. It's true that he remembers much more than I do about our shared past, but what he fails to consider is all the other, seemingly unimportant, minutia that is stored in my brain. Like, for instance, the respective shoe sizes, clothing sizes, and underwear sizes for our three daughters. Or when our oldest girls have library or a spelling test, or what day someone is bringing a friend home from school. Or the contents of the downstairs freezer than must be recalled at the grocery store when I'm planning the night's dinner as I shop. And that's just the "mom stuff." I also work part-time as a school psychologist, serving an entire small school district. I don't think mothers get enough credit for the incredible amount of planning and organization that is required to raise even one child, much less three. So, yeah, I don't remember that offhand comment I made six years ago, but I do (usually) remember who's signed up to bring cupcakes for the school Valentine's party.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Before I had children, I was sure I would be a better mother than my own mother was. Not that I had a bad mother. Quite to the contrary; in most areas she was probably far above average. She didn't work and was always there for my brother and me (not that you can't be "there" for your children and work as well). We knew, without a doubt, that we were important and valued. We had family dinners every night, we took family vacations...I had a picture-perfect childhood. But my mom grew up in a stoic German family where feelings were not discussed, anger was rarely expressed, and tears were never shed. So, as a relatively emotional child, I felt a little misunderstood. And my parents never said, "I love you." And by never, I mean never. Okay, they said it once, in church, when instructed to do so by the priest during his sermon (but they were clearly uncomfortable). So, I was certain that I would be much more effusive and expressive with my children. And I am. But, on my best days, I'm not a better mother than my own mother was. Now that I'm a mother, I'd be grateful just to equal her. My children hear "I love you" daily, both from me and from their father. I don't need to repeat my mother's "mistakes" because I've come up with plenty of my own. I'm much crabbier than my mother, and probably more impatient...my house isn't nearly as organized and my kids' hair is much messier than mine was as a child (and that's just a start)! I often wonder if my children are looking into their futures and imagining that they will be a better mother than I am...and in what particular area they hope to "better" me. I know that my children feel empowered to express their emotions without undue judgement or censure, so I've accomplished (or rather, am accomplishing) one of my greatest goals as a mother. And perhaps one of the greatest joys of motherhood has been to hear my children tell their grandparents, "I love you" and watch as my parents, so reticent for so long, comfortably reply back, "I love you, too!"
Monday, March 16, 2009
Before we brought our daughter Sergeant home from China, I had given a lot of thought to the fact that she would never know her biological parents. I know some who choose China adoption as a way to build a family feel this is a plus. For me, it was a distinct negative. First, I like to "know stuff." When I was pregnant with our biological daughters, it never ocurred to me not to find out their genders prior to birth. Of course I wanted to know. If I had been able to know at conception, I would have wanted to know then. Not because I really cared one way or another (although, truth be told, I secretly wanted girls - not a secret now, I guess) but because I just like to know. So, not knowing anything at all about our third daughter's biological parents, and really, the first months of her life, was disconcerting for me, and I knew, not the best thing for her. But I didn't realize the depth of her loss until a couple of months ago. Sergeant had been requesting to look at her life book and her scrapbook frequently and I, of course, obliged every time. We would read the story and look at the pictures and talk about her months in the orphanage and how she came to be in our family. Then, one night, just after her third (!) birthday, I read the page about her birthmother. She said, "Where is the picture of her?" I explained that we don't have a picture of her birthmother, because we don't know who she is. My sweet, smart, precocious child, looked up at me with her beautiful black eyes and said, mournfully, and near tears, "I don't even have a picture of her!" My heart about cracked in two. I acknowledged how sad she sounded about not having any connection with her birth mother and tried to empathize the best I could. Of course, being three, she moved on to another, blessedly minor, crisis within a few minutes, but I realized what a long road we have in front of us as she faces adoption and abandonment issues, one-by-one. I never dreamed she would begin to process these issues so early. I only hope I am a good enough mom to help her through these issues the best I can and to maintain her currently rock-solid sense of self.