Saturday, December 28, 2013

The most frustrating part about being a parent is ME

Some days, I suck as a mom. I'm trying SO hard y'all to be patient and grace-filled and kind and patient and a non-yeller. But no sooner than I think "Wow, we had a good day yesterday - maybe this is becoming more natural for me" do I lose my cool while trying to cut little man's hair in the kitchen and he won't hold still during the crucial shaping around the edges with the electric thingy and I feel like he's in his own little head bobbing world while I kindly ask him 10 times to hold still so I don't mess up or accidentally cut him. These moments when it's like he doesn't even hear me and I repeat myself too many times - those are the moments when I go from 0 to crazy by time #10 of hearing myself say the same thing. Confession time: I yelled at him. He cried. I felt awful and immediately said I was sorry. He recovered quickly. I finished his hair and got him in the shower so I could have a moment to chill out. Whew.

The most frustrating part about being a parent is ME! My reactions that seem to come out of nowhere. Even when I am trying SO SO SO hard to be nice and patient and calm. I struggle so much with this. I want to overcome it. I need to know how. I read books and blogs and I have hope that it can happen. I have friends who may not always remain patient (who does?) but they don't resort to yelling or losing it with their kids. They seem to have a lot more self control than me.

This is a hard job. And I'm doing the best I can but I want to do better. I want Mihretu to have better than mommy losing my cool and making him cry.

I've always been a huge believer in counseling and even though I really can't afford it financially, I am going to start going soon and just finding a way because clearly my buttons are being pushed. Which means I have a lot of buttons to push. Which means a lot of junk is getting stirred up.

I want to be the best mom I can be. I believe I can. I just have to get there. One day, one moment at a time. Deep breaths. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mini me

I am daily amazed at how much my son is like me.

He says the things I say which seems pretty normal cause I'm sure most kids pick up things their parents say and do. But he even has similar humor and habits and preferences. All of these things just makes me more in awe of God and how He knows what He's doing and how He brought Mihretu and I together.

This past week we had our friends and their 3 kids staying with us - Mihretu and their oldest boy who is also from Ethiopia instantly became best buds and had a total blast playing together. It was so much fun having them. One day Mihretu and I came home after I picked him up from school and we walked in the door. One of the big rugs was in a different spot. I hadn't even noticed yet cause we were literally barely in the door. Shoes and coat still on. Katie says hi to Mihretu and I don't even think he answered. He saw that rug and without a pause at all, he walked over and picked it up and moved it back to its proper place saying "it doesn't go here, it goes here". Katie was cracking up. She immediately said "oh Autumn - he is so your son!"

The next morning as we were about to leave for school, I found him in his room gathering up some pillows that Katie moved from the rocking chair in my room to his room bed cause she had laid her little guy down on there and didn't want him to roll off. When I asked him what he was doing and why he wasn't coming since we needed to leave for school, he informed me that he had the pillows back first, they didn't go there. I smiled and said "thank you so much for being such a big helper and wanting to put those back but I think Auntie Katie might use them again so let's just leave them there for now. We can put stuff back later." And he said ok and went on his way.

This morning we were about to brush our teeth and he said "book - teeth - tega" (not sure how to spell that) - that's our bedtime routine for night and tega is the Amharic word for bedtime/sleep that we began using when he first came home (and I'm pretty sure I've been pronouncing it and spelling it wrong ever since but he figured out what I meant pretty quickly - in real life, I think it's tenya but we still say tega). Anyway we have just kept it in our 3 word bedtime routine list that we say every night. So he said it this morning and before I could even say anything - he said "I'm just kidding mommy - it's not bedtime!" and gave me a little smile. He's so funny. That's totally something I would say to him.

He doesn't like to go to bed if his room isn't picked up. Yeah, I get that.

His favorite things to do are cleaning, vacuuming, playing card & board games and watching movies. Yeah, me too.

He loves to say "just kidding" - I remember my mom teasing me as a kid cause I said it so much. I still say it quite a bit which of course is where he picked it up from. But it's so cute when he says it. He now says it for me if I joke with him - before I can say - he says "just kidding mommy - you funny!"

He restocks the toilet paper supply under the bathroom sink without prompting. He loves doing this.

Anytime I take the trash out in the kitchen, he disappears for a minute or two and returns with the bathroom little trash and my bedroom trash to also take out at the same time.

These are all things he initiated doing.

He loves to quote and act out scenes from movies. My whole Kerr side of the family does this. I can say a line from a movie and he'll tell me what movie it's from. Our quite often he'll say a line from a movie at a random time. Like the other night when we're laying in bed trying to sleep and he gives me a hug and says "I choose you Aladdin". He cracks me up.

And then there was this on Sunday - he climbed up on the bay window to sing us a song but then got back down and said "I need microphone" and wouldn't continue until he had the microphone that I eventually had to help him find in his room. Once he had it - he put on this little concert.

Yes, he's a lot like his momma - when I was a kid and now. He makes me laugh daily and never ceases to amaze me with the things he says and does. He's just such an awesome little guy. We have so much fun together. I am so thankful that God chose me to be his momma!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tis the season to be.... overwhelmed

We're not traveling this year at Christmas and it's a good thing because even so, I feel like I'm about to go insane! I'm exaggerating, of course. But seriously the holidays are crazy busy. And I'm not even doing half the stuff other families are - which I'm ok with - but still - I'm often overwhelmed.

Taking my son to see the lights at Opryland was overwhelming. I have these ideas in my head of how magical it will be and it never really pans out how I pictured. Like the time a few weeks ago when we went to the Lighting of the Green outdoor concert at Lipscomb that I went to multiple years in a row before I had Mihretu and thought it would be the most magical Christmas thing to take him to and he wouldn't sit still and poked, prodded and annoyingly violated my face with his little hands while not sitting still at all on my lap and crying because he didn't have water, even though he just had a huge cup of hot cocoa and cookies. We left after song #3 cause mommy was frustrated and not enjoying the concert at all. And he clearly wasn't enjoying it or could care less about the lovely carols coming from the stage. We won't be going next year.

And we've seen the Opryland lights now so we won't be doing that again either. It wasn't that bad but M likes to run ahead and he tried to jump into the revolving door by himself even though I told him to wait for me and I about had a heart attack thinking he was going to get his fingers pinched or chopped off in there. I managed to run and jump in there with him. Thank goodness my friend was holding the stroller. He likes to ride the escalator so I had our friend hold the stroller then too so I could take him up and down once only he didn't want to hold my hand and thought it would be fun to walk backwards on it or sit down on it even though the end was nearing and again - I was picturing his coat getting stuck at the top or bottom and him getting badly hurt or falling off the thing. We couldn't just ride it normally. Oh no. So then he got in trouble and I had to physically make him stand up. And that is always fun. He likes to grunt or growl at me when I tell him not to do something when we are in public and make this grumpy "you can't tell me what to do" face. Sometimes he yells out "you bad - YOU in trouble mommy" with that grumpy hateful expression on his face. Open spaces and public places are not friends of mine right now. It's harder to wrangle your kid and try to attempt discipline or manners or staying close by because there's no time out chair and sometimes I've got things in my hands and have a hard time chasing after him. And then I just get downright mad and miserable and very often - sweaty. That's no fun for anyone - well, at least not for me and Mihretu. And I don't want to get that way. And I know it's possible not to because I have friends who just seem to manage it all with ease, even if their kids aren't exactly cooperating - they don't seem so frustrated and overwhelmed as me. Maybe it gets easier with time. It probably does. I mean, it is easier than it was last year when he first came home. Maybe I just need some couch time - you know, some therapy! Seriously, I think I do. In the meantime, I just think for now, because I know what settings overwhelm me, it might be better to avoid or majorly limit those settings from our schedule and life. Mihretu is happier when mommy is happy so it seems to be a good idea.

And then there's other things that are fun and awesome but that when they are all in a row right after each other - also get overwhelming. Mostly the pre-planning of each thing. Cause the parties and events will be super fun when they happen so I'm excited about them - I just need to get the details beforehand done so I can get to the fun part. I'm going to try to knock a bunch out today.

I just made a store list cause I'm throwing a baby shower on Sunday and need to get the food for the meal (already got the gifts and decor), I have a holiday party to go to on Monday night and you need to bring a $10 gift to exchange with the adults plus a book for the kids to exchange plus a snack of some kind and then Tuesday, I'm hosting our office holiday party at my house and I need to get all the food for that plus a $15 gift for the exchange and then on Thursday, Mihretu has to bring a homemade craft to school for his school gift exchange and I have to figure out a craft we can make together for that, plus I somehow picked this same week to be in charge of bringing snacks for his class. The neighbors asked me to petsit at Christmas and I felt like I was going to have a panic attack just thinking about it so I said no because I just knew I'd be too overwhelmed and in turn it would affect my time with Mihretu and I don't want to be grumpy or stressed. I feel bad not doing it but am learning that I just have to say no sometimes.

I also say no to things that are around nap time. If Mihretu doesn't have a nap, he's a mess. A whiny, everything is upsetting, overly dramatic mess. And again, that's no fun for him or me. So when we go to visit people in other states or people come to visit us - I plan our days around naps and I will very rarely make an exception. I think some people think I'm too uptight. I probably am. But I know how frustrated and overwhelmed I'll get if he hasn't had a nap and starts showing it. And I know based on the fact that he shows it that he really does still need a nap. So we rarely skip naps. It's just not worth it. So I don't care if people think it's crazy to plan your life around nap time or bed time. That's how I roll because that's part of keeping things smooth and therefore as not overwhelming as possible.

And speaking of not overwhelming, I'm heading to the grocery store right now during the day while M is at school and I'm on lunch break to get some of the items knocked off my list without a child with me.

Ahhhhh, tis the season. I'm doing what I need to do to make it all come together and trying to take deep breaths and stay calm:) Hope you are too!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our New Bedtime Routine

We just finished up our evening round of games which included Sequence for Kids, Snap and Dominos. It's his favorite thing to do lately. Also on the list: Go Fish, Memory, War, Rummy and Bingo - all part of an 8 game Toy Story themed game set. We've been playing morning and night for like 3 weeks. I like games but I've started limiting the evening to 2 or 3 instead of all of them cause I'm getting kind of gamed out:) Oh and hide n seek - he loves that one too. I try to work a show or bath or both in there just to break it up. My brain is kind of fried after a full day at work so I can only do so many games. It is pretty neat to watch him playing though and see how much he loves it and gets excited about it. When some family were in town - it was neat watching him play with them too - he just gets so proud and acts like such a big boy. It's sweet and a little bit sad cause he's growing up so fast.

Mihretu's thing lately is to hug me and say "I miss you - I haven't seen you in a really long long time" which is pretty cute and sweet, even though he says it on days when I've seen him for several days in a row. Ha ha I'll take the extra snuggles and sweetness any day though.

I posted on facebook about a week ago and asked for some advice from other moms - adoptive and otherwise - just because we were having an ongoing issue at bedtime. Mihretu still sleeps with me and no matter how much I try to convince him to sleep in his room, he's just not ready to be alone period. So he sleeps with me. I'm kind of used to it now, even though he is a huge bed hog and I often get woken up multiple times in the night by little feet in my ribs. A body pillow I bought to put in between has really been a huge help though.

Anyway, so the frustration at bedtime is that Mihretu has been over the top with the physical touch - and not in a snuggly sweet way but in a "I'm going to poke and prod mommy's face and mess with her eyebrows, lips and mouth in the most annoying invasive way possible" sort of way. Seriously, I have felt like I might all out lose my mind a few times it was so over the top. I've tried nicely telling him to stop. I've tried ignoring it. I've even lost my cool quite a number of times and yelled. None of those things worked. Telling him I didn't like it and wanted him to stop made him do it more and think it was pretty funny to get mommy worked up and annoyed. Yelling didn't work either - when does it ever? It only makes me mad at myself for losing my cool and letting it get to me. Anyway, I was desperate for ideas and had finally come to the conclusion that it wasn't good to ignore it and let him keep doing that. I finally realized it wasn't mean to not let him do it - it wasn't doing him any favors by letting it go on - he needs to learn to respect people's privacy and not do things that make people uncomfortable. I finally realized this was not a physical affection adoption thing or anything that would mess up our attachment by stopping - it was something I needed to set some major boundaries with. I was so appreciative of all the great feedback I got online and that night I calmly decided to take some of the advice and put it into practice.

It wasn't always just at bedtime either. That very night we had been at the Lighting of the Green Christmas concert outdoors at Lipscomb University where Amy Grant and others sing and they light the big tree. Well, as he was sitting on my lap and we were listening to the show - he started doing the face touching, poking, prodding thing and basically driving me crazy. I ended up getting so frustrated that we just left - we got there early to get a good spot and ended up leaving only 3 songs in cause he wouldn't sit still and he was touching my face over the top. Public places are always harder anyway. So we left and came home. I posted the status and started getting feedback about things to do. And right before bed, I'm standing in the kitchen and here comes little man behind me while I'm standing at the counter and he starts poking me in the bottom very annoyingly and inappropriately. I told him to stop. He laughed and did it harder. I said calmly "if you poke mommy's bottom again, I will put you in time out". He didn't take me seriously and he ended up right in time out. Our time out is a little kid size chair in his bedroom next to his bed. I carried him in there and sat him in the chair and told him to stay there until I came back. I said "I'm going to finish opening the mail and then I'll come get you". As soon as I walked out of the room, I could hear him get up. I said "you better sit back in the chair until I come get you or you are not reading bedtime stories at bed". He knows I'm serious cause he has lost bedtime books many times. So then he got back in the chair but started crying. I never close the door but I do leave the room. At first, I didn't leave the room cause of some of the stuff they talked about at adoption conferences and doing time in but I will tell ya what - time in didn't work at all for him. It only feels like he's in trouble for him if he has to sit there and mommy walks out of the room. He hates that. And it makes him listen next time I tell him something cause he doesn't want to sit in time out. Now, time out only consists of him sitting there for like a minute so don't go thinking it's like 10 minutes or anything crazy like that. It's very brief. Just long enough to get the point across. So I went in and got him out and he calmed down immediately when I said "ok you can get up, now it's time for bedtime books". He was relieved he still got to have books. And he did because he got back in the chair like I asked. I calmly said to him "Buddy, you got put in time out cause you were poking mommy in the bottom and I don't like that. And I don't like my face being touched all the time either. So from now on, if you touch mommy's face at bedtime, you'll have to go back in the time out chair." If I knew that was all it took - I would have done it a year ago! It worked beautifully. He almost touched my face a few times out of habit and stopped himself. I praised him for being such a good listener. And it's going on almost a week now without that being an issue. Sometimes he starts to do it and I remind him he will have to sit in time out if he doesn't respect mommy's space and that works. My goodness - bedtime is like 999% more enjoyable for me now and probably for him too since mommy isn't getting upset all the time. Praise the Lord! It's the little things people that will either drive you crazy or that you'll be so appreciative of when they go the way you hope.

So now we get to lay down and I ask him about his day at school - usually the things he remembers from the day are not the things he worked on but who got hurt or in trouble. It's pretty cute when he gets going telling me and then it sparks his memory and he remembers more and more things from the day. I love listening to him tell me all about it. And then he likes us both to get under the covers and hide from "sharks coming" as he likes to pretend. Under there, I put the indiglo light on my watch so we can see each other. Then like 20 seconds later, we both say "it's hot under here" and get out, done with that and ready for sleep. I say "Goodnight, I love you" most of the time and so now he says it before me. Then he gives me a kiss or hug and rolls over and falls asleep. I hope this keeps up. It is much better having him sleep with me when this is our bedtime routine versus him jumping all around, not holding still and mauling me half to death and driving my half crazy with face touching. Praise Jesus for this breakthrough!!!!

LOVE our Ethiopian family

We just returned from Ethiopia and oh boy - my heart is completely wrecked. Mihretu and I traveled on our own last March (2018) over his ...