When “You are your mother’s son” is scary

“You are your mother’s son.”

My husband said this affectionately to our son last night as we left the restaurant. Colt had just told him, “I didn’t do it. Mama did it.” He was referring to how I had picked him up and put him in his seat because he was dawdling too much to do it on his own…30 minutes ago. That greatly upset my very independent boy, so he sat and stewed on it for the entire meal.

Yep, he’s my son. When I got butt-hurt about something, I used to hold onto it and roll it over in my mind for ages. I used to let small misunderstandings ruin my entire day, which would frustrate my husband to no end. I didn’t like doing it, but I couldn’t help it. I was upset, you know, so it was important to chew on it because eventually he would see I was right and he was wrong, right? Right??

Luckily, I’ve since learned the value of letting go of small annoyances and working through larger problems so they don’t get blown out of proportion. But the memory of my past behaviors is there when my son shows signs of my less-than-impressive qualities. And that’s what makes the phrase, “You are your mother’s son,” slightly chilling to me.

WhenYouAreYourMothersSonIsScaryByYouareagoodmamadotcom

What else is he going to inherit from me? Will he be a slave to compulsive behaviors, as I was? Will he feel anxious in social settings because he believes everyone there is better than him? Will he lie and manipulate because he can’t handle the emotions he’s feeling? Will he be an alcoholic or addict?

These fears aren’t new; I’ve had them since before I was pregnant. Of course I only want him to receive my good qualities and I want my bad qualities to be left behind in the gene pool. Truthfully, I want him to be more like my husband. I’d rather Colt had my husband’s cool, calm and collected sunny day rather than my up-and-down emotional thunderstorm. So far, it’s looking like he’s more of the thunderstorm type.

I know it’s not just nature that decides how our life goes. Nurture plays a big role as well. I’m able to calm my fears a little because of the changes I’ve made in my life. I’m no longer the slave to compulsive behaviors, the self-hating girl who lies and manipulates because she can’t handle the emotions of addiction. I can do my best to mitigate the less desirable genes I’ve given him, by nurturing him with love, encouragement, empathy and respect. I am the best person for the job of his mother.

And I’m going to do my best so that when someone tells Colt, “You are your mother’s son,” it’s something to be proud of.

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5 Minute Friday: Comfort

The 5 Minute Friday prompt over at Lisa Jo Baker is Comfort. Well, here goes 5 minutes of unedited writing on comfort!

Comfort

Of all the mama super powers, I think the power of comfort is my favorite. When my son is hurting and comes running to me, I feel so blessed that I’m able to give him comfort. My kisses make owies go away, my hugs quiet sobs, my fingers make tears disappear. To be someone’s main source of comfort is an amazing feeling. He doesn’t know it, but he is my biggest source of comfort. When I’m sad or upset, I can bury my  nose in his hair and breathe in his wonderful, toddler smell and feel my heart lighten. His soft little arms around my neck and his little kisses on my face make me realize the world isn’t such a bad place. When he calls out, Mama!, it’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. I’m his favorite lovie (insists on snuggling mama at bedtime) and he is my favorite cuddle-buddy.

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Best hug in the world

Stop.

Liebster? WTF is that?

Liebster? WTF is that?

liebster-blog-awardI was nominated for an award. These things are pretty awesome, because it means someone else looked at my blog and thought, that blog deserves an award. And that someone else wasn’t my mom, so double win. My new friend Julie at Next Life No Kids nominated me, which I think is pretty frickin’ awesome considering our first conversation was an argument that ended in a mutual agreement that cheese is awesome (cheese was unrelated to the original argument). All arguments should end that way.

queen cheese

*Note: for once, Google failed me. I typed in “queen cheese” and no pictures of cheese with a crown came up (though a surprising number of girls in dumb trucker hats did pop up). So, I made the above masterpiece myself. All hail the queen.

Since I have found myself with a plethora of free time since finishing my CNA course (CNA standing for Certified Nurse Assistant or Chuck Norris Approved, depending on my mood), I’m diving right into this. Because there are strings with this award. I can’t just put a sweet badge on my blog, I gotta work for this thing (Whomp, whomp)! Who am I kidding – I love writing about myself so of course I don’t mind. Though some would say I have a problem being told what to do, so we’ll see how this goes…

Dem rulezLiebster

  1. List 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  3. Ask 11 new questions to the bloggers you nominate
  4. Choose 11 bloggers (with 200 or less followers) to nominate.
  5. Visit each bloggers page and tell them about the award.
  6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them
  7. No track backs (so we’re clear, I still have no idea what this means) <—- Julie had this in her rules and I left it because I, too have no idea what this means

I wonder what the deal is with all the 11’s? I suddenly realize that I have a thing for even, round numbers because this emphasis on 11 vaguely bothers me. Does that count as my first fact? Nah, just consider it a bonus.

11 Facts about MEEEEEE

  1. I was the Coos County (Oregon) Spelling Bee Champion in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades. 4th and 6th grades, I lost 1st place to some d-bag whose name I totally don’t still remember (bitter, much?).
  2. I was the Forum Editor for my community college newspaper. I was nominated for this position because it’s been said I like to complain about things. Strangely, the position suited me.
  3. I flunked out of sailing school when I was 10 or 11. I crashed one of the small boats into my best friend and decided that was enough sailing for me.
  4. I love Disney movies. One of the best fringe benefits of having a kid is getting to watch all those classic movies. NOTE: Home on the Range is not in this category; please don’t ever make the mistake of exposing your child to this particular Disney movie. He will want to watch it incessantly and it does, in fact, suck.
  5. I’m slightly obsessed with playing bingo. Senior years, I’m ready for you!
  6. I just discovered the other day that my favorite type of pizza is sausage and banana peppers. Wonder if that will still taste good on a cauliflower crust?
  7. ^^I ask that question because I try to eat somewhat Paleo. I did a 21 day sugar detox a while ago and felt fantastic afterward.
  8. I am addicted to caffeine and I am ok with that.
  9. I quit smoking cigarettes a few years ago. I’ve had a few lapses since officially quitting, but have never fully gone into a relapse. It’s been almost a year since my last cigarette and I’m pretty stoked on that.
  10. I really miss my cat, Lola. She passed away 2 years ago. I was there, stroking her head and telling her how much I loved her when she passed. It still hurts because I still blame myself for not seeing her sickness until it was too late.
  11. I am an only child, but my parents have since adopted two Pomeranians who are very annoying little brothers.

Whew! Now for some more fascinating information about me as I answer the questions Julie wrote:

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Probably Israel and the Middle East. I’m fascinated by the Bible as a historical document and it would be crazy amazing to see some of those places in person.
  2. Who in your life has had the most influence on you or your writing? My son, no doubt. He inspires most of my writing (since I write primarily about motherhood and breastfeeding). He also makes me want to be a better person.
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how attractive do you think you are? Please explain. 🙂 Ack! Shoot, I guess I’d say I’m a 6? I’m trying to love and accept my body for what it is and not be angry at it for what it isn’t. I like my blue eyes, I like my dimples and I’m learning to like my curly hair.
  4. Horror film or chic flick? If it’s a horror film from the 80s, count me in. I love all those super cheesy horror films that still make me crap my pants – Monkey Shines, Ghoulies, Pumpkinhead, Child’s Play, Puppet Master, Freddie movies, Jason movies. The 80s sure knew how to scare and entertain at the same time.
  5. How long have you been blogging? I launched www.youareagoodmama.com in September 2012. This is the first time I’ve consistently blogged. I’ve started other blogs (I have like 9 WordPress addresses) but have never gotten past one or two posts.
  6. What is your biggest pet peeve? People who drive with their blinker on. OMG, are you turning or are you not??? MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!
  7. Do you have any bad habits we should know about? Yes – I have several character defects that I’m working on! Stay tuned for a future post about those 🙂
  8. What’s your favorite blog to follow? Why? Hmm, depends on the reason. For humor, I love Martinis or Diaper Genies and Baby Sideburns. Seriously hysterical. For levelheaded parenting stuff, I like PhD in Parenting. For everything breastfeeding, I adore The Leaky Boob.
  9. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Forgive yourself.
  10. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve been given? A wedge haircut would look great on you.
  11. What is the first thing you would do if I gifted you a million dollars? Look at you suspiciously, then grab the money and run, laughing maniacally. Then when I’d come to my senses, I’d do something awesome for you to say, Hey thanks for the million dollars, buddy! After that, I’d give the rest to my husband to manage because he is so much better at managing money than I am.

And here are my nominees!Liebster2

Jennifer at Half Crunchy Mom

Aprille at Beautiful in His Time

Arielle at Their World We Live In

Kristen at it.started.with.a.bump

Nikki at Thirty Something Mom

Meredith at From Meredith to Mommy

Michiko at There’s Something About Michiko

Sara at I Choose Joy (she recently posted she’s taking a much-needed break from blogging. But mark her for the future!)

*Yes, I realize there are only 8 when the instructions said 11. I’m new, I don’t know that many bloggers yet! Plus, slipping in an even number is calming me down.

My questions for the lovely nominees:

  1. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
  2. If you could do any job in the world (money/education no object), what would you do and why?
  3. You’re stuck on a desert island that has food, water and shelter (your basic survival needs are met). What 3 things would you wish to have with you and why?
  4. What person, dead or alive, is your hero?
  5. What’s your favorite animal?
  6. What’s your go-to snack?
  7. What inspired you to start your blog?
  8. What’s your favorite type of music?
  9. Which cartoon character would you most want to hang out with?
  10. Is there anything that makes you giggle uncontrollably?
  11. What’s your favorite flower?

5 Minute Friday: Brave

It’s 5 Minute Friday time! The rules:
 
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
 
This week’s topic was brave, which is something I’ve thought a lot about while our family has been separated. So, here goes…
 

Brave is putting yourself out there. When it would be easier to curl up in a ball and hide in your room, you don’t. You get out in the sunshine, talk to people, face your fears. You admit when you need help doing so, and you seek out that help. 

 
Brave is a 2 year old boy whose world is turned upside down, but still faces each day with a sunny, stubborn, independent and excited disposition. Brave is a father who is willing to be separated from his family for a little while because the short term sacrifice will benefit them in the long run. Brave is the mother who works diligently to keep that family connected while they are physically apart. 
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It’s not easy to be brave, but the payoff is usually pretty amazing. If you can push past the pounding heart to find what’s on the other side, you’ll see it’s all worth it. 
 
Stop.

Emotional aspects of weaning

I breastfed my son until he was about 27 months. Or 2 years and 3 months, or 2.25 years, depending on your preference for discussing toddler age (I generally think that after age 2, it should be in years but between 2 and 2.5 there is a bit of a gray area). But I digress.

When I first started breastfeeding, my goal was 2 years (go big or go home, right?). 2 years is the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization, so I figured that was a good goal to adopt. Pretty ambitious for a first-time mom who had no idea what the hell she was doing. When the nurse said, “All right, let’s feed this baby!” about 30 minutes after he was born, my first thought was “Really? Already?” Nice work, self. He latched then, and after some ups and downs in the first few weeks, we settled into our breastfeeding groove.

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One of my few pictures of nursing

As time went on, I decided I wanted to go to at least 2 years and however long he wanted after that. However, as his second birthday drew nearer, I questioned whether I wanted to let him wean himself (also known as child-led weaning). That child loved to nurse. We had one nursing strike our entire relationship, and that only lasted about half a day. When he started signing, patting my chest was his nursing sign. Later he started saying “Neesh!” Then it became “Nursh!” As he grew verbally, he’d say “I wanna nursh” or “I wanna nursh other side” when he wanted to switch. He knew what he wanted, and it was to nurse.

Meanwhile, I was starting to figure out what I wanted, and it was becoming clear that it was to NOT nurse. I struggled with my decision, but shortly after his second birthday I decided it was time to stop. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and it kind of felt like a chore. I was terrified that I was going to begin to resent nursing him. I did not want to end our relationship on a bad note, so I decided it was time.

So many emotions in play: Relief, that it was almost over; Sadness, because a big part of mothering (for me) was about to end; Fear, would I be able to comfort him without nursing and was I making a mistake; Worry, how was he going to take it and would I be scarring him for life; Guilt, how could I be so selfish in taking his beloved nursh from him.

Fast forward to weaning day [I’ll share the details of the physical part of weaning in another post; this is all about the emotional aspects]. I was so scared what would happen at bedtime when he asked to nurse and I said no. I expected a 4-alarm tantrum, hysterics, hell opening up and demons dragging me down (translate: I thought it would bad). I had my husband on stand-by, ready to tag in if the boy got too upset with me. he asked a few times, I gently said no, he got a little fussy, settled down after a few minutes and we cuddled until he fell asleep. Without nursing. What. The. Hell. While I was glad it went so easily, a small part of me was sad he seemed to give it up so easily.

Every night at bedtime, it was the same until a few weeks later, when he stopped asking. Only one time during that period did my resolve seriously falter. He was having an epic meltdown, and while sobbing in my arms begged to nurse. My heart broke, but my resolve did not. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a mother. I felt selfish and cruel for denying him something he loved so dearly at a time he thought he really needed it. I’m glad now that I stayed strong; being inconsistent with nursing would’ve only made things harder on him. But man did I feel like an asshole at the time.

My emotions were all over the place shortly after weaning (let’s hear it for fluctuating hormones!). I’d known to expect increased feelings of depression and sadness because of the hormones. I was already taking medication for depression and seeing a therapist for other reasons, so I leaned on those resources to help with the additional stress of weaning and weaning hormones. I reached out to friends who had already gone through the weaning process and sought support from my breastfeeding support group. The best support came from my husband. He never pushed me one way or the other and always leant an ear when I needed to purge my feelings. He also constantly reassured me that I was a good mom whether I decided to wean or keep going.

Team McCall
Team McCall

One thing I did to help temper my feelings of sadness was to have my own little weaning ceremony. I read through some ideas at The Leaky Boob and settled on two that worked for me: create a weaning bracelet (jewelry-making is a hobby) and write a letter to my boy, reminiscing about our nursing relationship. I shared the letter to my nursling on this blog in order to memorialize our experience and give it a permanent home. Sometimes I read through it when I feel nostalgic; I enjoy the memories and feel doubly glad that I stopped before those memories turned sour.

Weaning bracelet, with a C to represent my son, Colt
Weaning bracelet, with a C to represent my son, Colt

I’m satisfied with how it ended. Sometimes I do feel a tad guilty for being the one who ended it (so much talk about the importance of child-led weaning in the lactation works), I have to remind myself of what I always told my mamas: There are two people in a nursing relationship, and your feelings are just as valid as the child’s.

Me and my not-scarred-for-life toddler, post-weaning
Me and my not-scarred-for-life toddler, post-weaning

A letter to my nursling

A letter to my nursling

My sweet boy,

You are such a joy to me. We may be nearing the end of our nursing relationship, but that just means we get to embark on a new adventure together! I have such precious memories of the past two years…

When I was pregnant with you, I knew I would nurse you. There was no other option for me! I wanted you to have the protection my milk would give you, as well as experience the bonding. I had no idea how much I would enjoy nursing you.

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Nursing for the first time!

The first time we nursed was 30 minutes after you were born. Our labor nurse brought you to me and said, how about we feed? I think I was still in a little bit of shock from having just given birth, because my first thought was, Really? He’s ready to feed now? You definitely were! Our nurse helped me position you in the football hold on my right side and you latched right on. It was surreal and incredible. I had just given birth to this angel and now I was nursing him! Even though he was outside of the womb, my body could still provide nourishment for him.

Our nursing relationship was all roses – thorns and everything! I was learning a new skill, just like you were, so we hit a few bumps along the way. When I didn’t latch you correctly, it hurt me. There were times I was afraid to feed because it hurt. Then I felt bad because I knew you needed to eat and how could I not want to feed you! But we got past that. There were times when it seemed like I couldn’t sustain your huge appetite (also known as cluster feeding). Not knowing that this was a normal part of breastfeeding, I thought I was failing you and not giving you what you needed. Luckily your Daddy was there to calm me down and reassure me that I could do it. And so we got past that.

About 3-4 weeks in, I sat down on the edge of our bed to feed you one morning. I latched you on to my left side in the cross cradle position and started daydreaming. Suddenly, I realized it didn’t hurt. I looked down to make sure you were still latched and suckling, and you were! It was then that I realized we got it and we would be just fine.

From then on, we tackled new challenges. Nursing in public? Started out by going to the car or seeking a designated nursing room, but gradually became better at it and we successfully NIPed at the Abbey Gardens, Newmarket Racecourse, London tube, restaurants, stores, airplanes and as part of the Big Latch On – twice! Nursing tank tops really helped Mommy, because you did not appreciate being covered while you nursed! You’ve nursed in 3 different countries – England, Italy and Greece. You nursed on the flights to and from both Italy and Greece, so you’ve nursed over other countries!

Teething? Definitely not my favorite time. You only bit Mommy a few times, but man did it hurt! The last time you bit me, I cried out in pain. You looked at me with the saddest, most apologetic eyes and then started crying, like you felt bad for hurting Mommy! I comforted you (which kind of made me chuckle, since YOU had just bit ME) and you never bit me again.

The Big Latch On 2011
The Big Latch On 2011

There were nights when I was so tired, and it seemed like all you wanted to do was nurse. But those sleepless nights melted away when I saw the contentment on your face as you nursed. You made such cute expressions as you nursed! Often you would furrow your brow and look very serious, as though you were concentrating on something very important. You’d get so excited at nursing time, bobbing and lunging and then latching quickly. When you got older, you’d treat me to smiles! And when you were even older, sometimes you’d laugh while latched (especially if Mommy was tickling you). You and I shared some wonderful belly laughs if you did something funny while nursing.

As you grew older and more aware of the world, you became quite the wiggler while nursing! You were so curious about the world that it was hard for you to focus on your meal. Your curiosity is one of my favorite things about you. You perfected the art of ‘gymnurstics’ early on. I nursed with a hand on my nose, a hand in my mouth, a foot on my shoulder, a tush in my face – but my favorite was when you would reach up and play with my hair when we nursed. Your Grandma told me how your Daddy used to play with her hair while he nursed. Just another way you are so like your Daddy!

When you were about 4 months, I went back to work. You stayed with Mackenzie for the first two months, and man were you a stinker! You were so used to getting your milk on tap, you refused to eat for her. One day, you only ate about 8oz in 9 hours, and that was because she used a syringe to get it in you! Eventually, you decided to take the pumped milk in a bottle, but it had to be very hot and you had to be in the swing. We think it confused you to take a bottle while she held you, since she was still breastfeeding Dylan and you could smell her milk. This time was hard for me, too, as I navigated being back in the workplace and dealing with pumping.

I managed to pump until you were 12 months and able to take whole milk, so you never had to have formula. There were times I was scared and didn’t think I’d have enough pumped milk, but with extra pump sessions, lots of bowls of oatmeal, Mother’s Milk tea and the support and advice of several helpful moms, I was able to provide for you. When you were 6 months you started at the CDC. We were so lucky in that your primary caregivers – Miss Victoria, Miss Camii, Miss Shannon and others – were very supportive of breastfeeding and would often call me to come feed you during the day. I loved connecting with you during the workday this way – it was a great way to take a timeout from the stresses of work.

Nursing you was also a great comfort to me, especially during stressful times. When your Daddy deployed suddenly on my birthday, nursing you made me feel less sad about him leaving. Our kitty Lola died while Daddy was in Korea. I felt terrible and missed her so much, but being able to nurse you made me feel better. There were times when I felt unhappy during the workday and I’d go nurse you at the CDC, mostly to make me feel better! You were always happy to comply.

One of my favorite memories is when you started to ask to nurse. At first, you would sign for it by patting my chest. Later, you would pat my chest and say “Neesh! Neesh!” in a very excited voice. ‘Neesh’ gave way to “Nursh” as you gained better verbal skills. Now, at the end of our nursing relationship, you tell me “I wanna nursh little bit” or “I wanna nursh other side.” The other night, you patted my chest and asked me, “What’s in derr?” When I told you milk was in there, you very confidently told me, “No, no milk in derr. Milk in cup.” The next night, you told me “warm nurse” was in there.

I have very mixed feelings as we near the end of nursing. I’m ready to move on to the next stage of our mommy-son relationship, but you don’t seem so ready to stop nursing. It breaks my heart when you ask me to nurse and I say no. Please understand that I love you more than anything, but Mommy wants to find other ways to show you her love. As I look back over these memories, I’m satisfied with how the relationship has gone. I’m afraid if I nurse much longer, I may start to have unpleasant feelings and I don’t want that to happen.

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My sweet boy and I, Halloween 2012

I’m so blessed to have you, sweet baby. Thank you for sharing this special relationship with me. I love you.