Friday, June 24, 2011

kids and eating disorders

We're still in recovery mode over here after our trip to Norway where we stayed with my parents. -- Like depressed people, we crave rest and seek comfort in food (especially chocolate), gorging at every meal, adding dessert when we didn't used to.

One of the things that saddened me the most on our visit overseas, was to see Lilly's appetite evaporate so completely. And all the more in response to my parents' constant pestering at its lack of presence. She just turned three, but even so my mother had the nerve to suggest to Lilly she was on a diet when she wouldn't eat.

Adding pressure on kids to eat is in my opinion a sure way to lead them down the path of eating disorders. I never had an appetite at my parents' house with the constant tension and frequent eruption of fights during meals. In elementary school, I was the skinny quiet girl with glasses who wouldn't eat her packed lunch. The memory of throwing up over the dinner table while trying to force down the required amount of spoonfuls will never leave me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

thunder: bad moms don't always turn into good grandmas

I never felt safe in my parents' home. As a child, I would instead seek shelter outside during stormy weather.

I thought of this as Lilly woke crying from her nap the other day when it started thundering, and she said it was skummelt (scary). Later on as I was making dinner, I asked her how she liked our vacation in Norway from where we just returned, having stayed with my parents who still live there. Again she replied; skummelt.

Though Lilly's appetite (and mine!) has returned after we got back home, we're both processing our stay with my parents. She whimpers more in her sleep at night and though she now will go down for a nap again, she wakes as soon as I try to leave her, crying despondently if I tell her that if she won't take a nap, she'll have to stay in bed for some quiet time, something she was fine with before our trip to Norway.

And I struggle with my own rehashing of things that were said; my mother's venom.

A recent longitudinal study found that children of depressed women were less likely to show behavioral problems later on in life when they were under someone else's care for at least half a day each week. Children who spent less than four hours each week in formal child care--e.g. with a nanny, another family member, institutional day care--were at a significantly increased risk for behavioral problems, relative to children of nondepressed mothers.

Friday, June 10, 2011

summertime means pool time

Photo: The Middle Bit
The pool opens this weekend, which means summer is officially here. And time to dig out that bikini again. The other day, a friend and fellow mama blogger at The Middle Bit asked for my permission to include a photo of me in her forthcoming book, describing it as "a photograph of a confident young mom in a fabulous red bikini." Of course I was flattered, but as I pointed out to her, whereas she saw me as a "good looking mom" in that bikini, I was in fact feeling like a bony and potbellied old monkey slogging my body around.

That said, I fondly remember last summer's Friday mornings at the pool  when it was reserved for young children, hanging out with my friends and our kids. Picnics and lazy afternoons pushing nap time back, savoring the sun, the conversation, and then home for a crash two-hour nap for Lilly and some time for me to read on the porch.

I am hopeful about this summer. The sun has always been a good competitor to work for me, tempting me outside. And I want summers to be different. To have time off for spontaneous outings, not to be on a schedule.

This summer is already looking so much better. I don't find myself worrying so much about her running away or into the street the way I did last year. On good days when she needs me less with her outside, she'll find her toys in the garage: her trike and chalk and bubbles. She'll play in the sandbox. Slide a little. Look at the growing plants and flowers. Hopefully without causing too much devastation. She loves playing with our neighbors' ten-year old daughters (I love that they will play with her). I've even been able to sit by myself in the sun this way (for a brief half hour, but still). Or get dinner ready while looking out on her playing. Or sneak type on my laptop by the kitchen counter.

I want to do less of that this summer. It's summer, which should be about fun and relaxing together. I am officially taking a break cutting back on my work time, at least when I'm with her. Next week, preschool begins for her, giving me those sacred dependable morning hours. So I'm not lowering my goals (on the contrary, but I'm not going to spell that out).

I envision super-productive morning hours writing at the house or the library, then picking her up for a picnic at the pool where we'll stay for a couple of hours or so. Or play in the park with friends, or at home in the backyard, maybe garden a little. And I look forward to outdoor concerts at the Walker Art Center, picnics by the lake, outdoor barbecues, lounging on the porch.

Summer's here. It's been a long time coming; let's bring it on.

Friday, June 3, 2011

the power of the boob

One of the mamas I interviewed for my Sleep Question book used this term to describe the nursing relationship she had with her children. The power of the boob to comfort, nurture; to help bring to sleep.

I can definitely relate. Lilly will turn three this month, but the power of the boob holds strong. There have been periods when it's been driving me crazy, like at around the 18 months mark where she seemed to ask for it constantly throughout the night. When I had reached the point of oblivion to red stop signs and lights, a dear friend helped me find a strategy to reduce the nighttime nursings without feeling like I was weaning her (I've always wanted to let her self-wean).

Our solution was a combination of Dr. Sears' list of night weaning alternatives, in particular his "Just say no!," "Nummies go night-night," and "Let baby be the barometer." I would talk to her during the day and before bedtime about how the boobs have gotten so tired; how they need some rest and sleep at night now. Then I made up my mind as to how many of the nighttime nursings I wanted to end, and at what time she could have free rein to nurse on demand again. Finally, I told my husband to sleep in another room. We'd been enjoying our family bed up until then, but I had begun to feel crowded out in bed. I realized there might be some whining, and I knew I wouldn't be able to stay committed to my goal if I were to worry about my husband (who's as opposed to her crying as I am) as well as her.

The first night when she asked for the boob, and I said no, she did cry. Right away and almost before I had a chance to respond, knowing already the answer. And in an angry manner, not despondent or despairing. I used her daytime behavior to gauge how she was dealing with this new nighttime situation; and she seemed fine, just a bit more mama needy perhaps, and even more physical, with which I was fine.
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