Being Mom

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When Emma was born I was consumed by an immense love for her – which continues to grow on a daily basis – and regardless of how stressed out or frustrated I get  – with the world or with her – it never takes away from the happiness she gives me every single day. I can be having the worst kind of day but when I see her little face and her smile, all I feel is joy. My heart tingles when she kisses me or tells me she loves me and it seems implausible to live without her.

What is being Emma’s mom like? It is the most precious gift – one that challenges me every single day, that makes me grow in ways I didn’t even think were possible, that teaches me unexpected things about the world and about myself and allows me to truly understand the meaning of love and view the world with a new set of eyes.

I am very grateful and extremely lucky and blessed to be her Mom. What was life like without my daughter? At this point, I am not sure, because life would be incomplete without her. Yes, she drives me nuts sometimes, but she is my little miracle.

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Resting in Grace

This is a beautiful post from Illuminated Salt – Mommyhood entails many difficult but beautiful moments and challenges and tests you as a person in the most loving kind of way and it feels amazing to have God by your side, accepting your mistakes and pushing you to be better.

Illuminated Salt

My first year as a mom has taught me many things (one day I may blog about them all) but the underlying theme of them all is that “God’s Grace is Sufficient”. At times I can feel as though everyone else is deserving of God’s grace but me. I’m quick to encourage someone else but can feel as though I should know better.

Do you ever feel like that?

Being a mom has exposed this in my life at a whole ‘nother level. Parenting is something that can only be done with the help of the Lord. I lean on Him for direction in every aspect of raising my son because if I didn’t, I’m convinced I would go crazy and worry would consume me and render me completely useless.

In times where I feel overwhelmed and like I have no answers for the the questions I face I find comfort in…

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Tantrum-free Weekend

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This weekend I did not have to endure any tantrums and yes, I spent the entirety of it with my daughter. Surprised? So was I.  Don’t get me wrong, Emma did cry here and there – fake cry – but she didn’t have a full-blown tantrum, and to me, that’s progress.

Saturday we had a long day ahead of us so I was clearly thinking of the worst but hoping for the best. In the morning she had ballet and it was her final class! (I am pretty happy considering the fact that we will no longer need to wake up at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings) Afterwards, we stopped by Bed Bath and Beyond to get a gift and then went to the Noguchi museum for an art class. Emma fell asleep on the road and I was afraid of waking her up. Thankfully, she woke up calmly when I took her out of the car and once she noticed where she was, she was happy – tantrum averted!

After her art class, we went home, ate quickly and headed to one of my best friends’ bridal shower. I was skeptical about bringing Emma with me as I knew that it could potentially be disastrous but to the contrary, it was great. She slept on the way there – it was a 2 hour ride – woke up 30 minutes prior to us getting there and watched me sleep(my friend was giving us a ride)because of course, I couldn’t fall asleep beforehand as I was writing my card on the road – a typical day in the life of a mommy.

In the Bridal shower Emma found some friends and was with them almost the entire time – they were lovely – they played with her and gave her tons of attention. Emma had a great time and so did I. She spent time with me but also played independently (without mommy) and while it felt really nice having some time to chat with friends, it made me realize that she is growing up.

Yes, she is less dependent on me, which means that I now get to go to the bathroom alone – for the most part – but the fact that she is becoming less attached to me is a little hard to accept (Yep, mommyhood is full of contradictions). But that’s the give and take of motherhood, right? As you child grows, things change, and you need to quickly keep up with the pace and adapt to these changes. Like everyone tells me, before I know it (in the blink of an eye), Emma will be in College and although that seems plausible – as I sometimes look at her and remember not long ago she was a newborn – I try to enjoy each of her stages and accomplishments one day at a time. This week’s accomplishment – 2 days without a tantrum, and to me that was like two days in mommyhood heaven.

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Savings and Emma – 529 College Plan

Saving is really hard to come by these days. In fact, I pretty much have no savings. Considering the fact that we have debt, I don’t find it useful to save while accruing pretty much 0 interest when we have to pay off cards that charge us heavy interest. However, I do believe saving is important as it allows for better money management, especially when times are tough. Eventually I will have much more than I do now, I sort of have a plan, once the cards are paid off, as savings was kind of my thing when I was growing up. Regardless, I do want to teach Emma the importance of saving. Because of my own experience of paying for college, buying an apartment and starting a family, I want Emma to learn how essential it is so that she can be better off in the future and know how to better manage her money. She is still only two, so for now, we have a container where she stuffs as many coins as she can find. To our advantage, she still doesn’t know that bills are worth more, because I am sure that when she figures that out we will have no money in our wallets as she often likes to go through them…

One of my best friends forwarded me the article below from The New York Times about Savings for kids and whether you should open up a bank account for your child or not and the author concludes with a good point – It doesn’t matter how your child saves, piggy bank or an actual bank account – what really matters are the lessons they learn from their parents. Thus, once Emma a little older and actually understands the concept of money, I plan on talking to her about the value of money and how it can make a difference, how she can make a difference – work towards goals and plan accordingly.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/parenting/2014/04/03/the-case-against-savings-accounts-but-not-savings/?partner=rss&emc=rss

For now, I am looking for the best plan to get for Emma’s college – a big and overwhelming decision once you become a parent. Although I know firsthand the level of maturity and self-assurance you get from working and paying for college on your own, I don’t want Emma to feel limited in her college search, and so, I need to get a college plan for her. I read several articles about 529 plans and came across the article from Kiplinger listed below, which writes which plan is a better choice for you depending on the state you live in – pretty straight to the point. Basically, if the state you live in has an income-tax deduction for the contribution you make to the 529 plan, then you should go with your state’s college plan. If living in NY, then you should go with the state’s 529 college plan.

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/college/T002-C000-S001-the-best-529-college-savings-plans.html#oqvcpGcFYx2iVU2W.99
So, this will be the year that I open up Emma’s 529 College Savings Plan with the money she has received so far. I just have to figure out the monthly contribution amount we can afford.

Does anyone have any good/bad experience with 529 plans?

Friends

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I am so lucky to have the friends I do – I have the overachievers, I have the glass half full and also the glass half empty friends, I have the crazy ones and the mild ones, the bohemian ones and the meticulous ones, but what we all have in common is that we are hardworking, determined and strong-minded – A great example for my daughter – and best of all, we all accept each other’s flaws and learn from one another, which is why we all get along and why I think they are so amazing.

Being a working mom, it is hard to find the time to spend with friends since I try to spend as much time as I can with my daughter, so whenever I can do an activity that involves my daughter and my friends, I think it’s a fantastic plan! As such, when I plan outings with my daughter, I try to incorporate my friends, and they do the same. That way, Emma gets to spend time with other kids while I get to catch up. Fortunately, a lot of my friends have kids or nieces or nephews, or they love kids – which helps, because they assist when you need it and are not impatient or frustrated when Emma has one of her tantrums. In fact, they are less embarrassed than me.

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I make an effort to take Emma out for new experiences often, and this serves as the perfect opportunity to bring friends along. This past Sunday I took Emma to the New York Hall of Science. My friend came along with her 2 kids – no husbands allowed. Emma played with different sand textures and made a happy face with lights and batteries.
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She loved attaching the lights to the battery and seeing how they lit up, but what she loved the most was playing with all the different colored mini light bulbs (I don’t know the proper name, so that’s what I called them). She was constantly imitating whatever my friends’ daughter was doing – who is much older. But that is what Emma is into now, imitating whatever other kids are doing – good and bad… She had a great time and of course, cried once we got home, but knocked out right away (Thank God!) and best of all, I was able to nap along with her.

It is outings like these I love – seeing friends I don’t often get to see because of our busy schedules and my daughter having a blast.  It feels really good that Emma can share time and grow up with not only cousins, but my friends’ kids as well. Who knows? Maybe they will all continue to be friends throughout the years. For those friends of mine who don’t have kids yet, I hope Emma will set a good example for them and be their big sister and as we joke, may be their babysitter by then.

These are the top 5 reasons why you should plan an outing with your kid(s) and your friends:

1. They understand you and are not judgmental about your parenting skills and/or your toddler’s behavior – although may have some “constructive criticism”

2. They offer to help, and yes, you will take advantage

3. If going out with other kids, they will entertain each other. If not, your kid(s) will serve as entertainment.

4. You can trade parenting tips and be honest about the trial and errors of mommyhood.

5. You can multitask – spend time with your kid(s) and catch up with friends.

Although frankly, it is also essential to spend time with friends without any kids around, so you can stop being mom for a tiny bit and truly unload….

Life

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There are days when I feel like I am completely content with my life and others where I feel the innate need for change – Not in my family dynamics, but in my personal (career) path. You see, when I had Emma, my personal priorities shifted aside – by choice – but now that Emma is almost 3 and I am more in tune with the role of mommyhood, the workings of it, and what we can and cannot live without, I feel like I am ready to make some changes in other aspects of my life, keeping in mind that being Emma’s mom is still my #1 priority. Lately, that need for change has intensified – There are many things I want for my family and many things I want for myself and I know that they will eventually flow flawlessly together, but for now they won’t so I am trying to figure out the mechanics of it all so that everyone (including myself) is happy. Change is difficult and scary, but at times, necessary, and I think it is time for me to be bold enough to make some moves. I want to pursue my creativeness and embark on a new career path – I now know that it is essential for my soul. So fingers crossed, this year will be the year I pursue what I am passionate about, and what better inspiration and motivation to have than my daughter — EMMA.

Being Memorable

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A friend posted this quote on Facebook from her webpage www.projectbond.com and I loved it – 1) Because I know that I can be a pain to deal with sometimes and my family and good friends still love me (memorable people), and 2) because it inevitably made me think of Emma and how memorable I hope I can one day be to her.

As parents, we worry so much about our children, we want to give them so much, but maybe what we worry about most are the material things we can provide rather than what is really invaluable – love and time. And sometimes it is the most simple things that produce/leave the most powerful impact. Once I became a mother I realized even more how grateful I am to have such wonderful parents, and how invaluable they are to me. They are definitely memorable to me, they will forever be, and that is how I wish Emma views me one day.  

When you love, you love deeply and unconditionally and when you have children you love beyond words, beyond life. That is why every morning when she wakes up, every time I drop her off and pick her up from school, every time I put her to sleep, every time she calms down from a tantrum, every time we stop “arguing”, every time we make up after she disobeys me, I tell her how much I love her. She already knows – “more than the whole world.” I love her –  the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s what being a mom is about – right?

Raising a Toddler – Funny Moments

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I didn’t own a cell phone until I was 18 and even then, the one I owned was pretty crappy. It definitely did not have any applications or challenging games – it didn’t have internet – Period. The most it did was take photos and it I think it had flash. I’m sure there were already better cell phones out there, but mine wasn’t one of those. The point is, when I was younger and we sat at the dinner table, my parents did not have to worry about us texting our bff’s, browsing the internet, or checking our friend’s lives via Facebook, etc. Nowadays, that seems to be the norm, but I didn’t think I would have to address it with my daughter until she was at least 14 years old…

My husband recently gave Emma an old cell phone. It is virtually useless but Emma likes to pretend it works and in her mind she is always calling people, speaking to them and I don’t know what else she thinks she is doing when pressing all the buttons. I know she sees my husband and I with our phones and knows that we can not only speak to people on the phone but also look at pictures, shop and read on it, so she is obviously imitating. I always try to leave my phone on my bed when I get home and while I am with Emma, to avoid looking at it since it has become a reflex – it is addicting – and actually spend quality time with my daughter.

On Sunday, Emma and I sat at the table to eat lunch, she took her phone with her and I didn’t think anything of it. We were eating and conversing and in the middle of lunch she picked up her phone and started to “use” it. I almost laughed but held it back because I know that this is not something I want her to do on a daily basis (See the pic. FYI – if not obvious enough, she drew all over the place mat). I never thought I would have to tell my 2-year-old to put her phone away, but I did, and I had to make every effort to keep a straight face. I also had to be persistent because she wasn’t going to give up easily –  she finally let it go when I told her “Put your cell phone down or I will take it away from you.” I guess she really values her cell phone…. Hmm….

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I am glad this didn’t turn into a tantrum – disaster averted! Because anyone who has children knows that toddlers can be extremely stubborn and as parents we have to carefully pick and choose our battles.

Baby

So my sister is now 5 months along in her pregnancy and she is having a boy! Both she and her husband are ecstatic and so am I, although I admit that I was hoping for a girl so that Emma could have a playmate. However, Emma will be the big girl now – 2 younger boy cousins. Maybe mommy and daddy will give her a sibling soon (emphasis on maybe).

Going through the stages of pregnancy with my sister is nice and her bump is finally beginning to fully form. From what I recall, during the next three months is when the belly really starts to grow – what seems to be – exponentially every day. In giving advice to my sister, I am trying to come up with the essential things needed when you have a baby and this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Patience – I know this is not an object/item, but I think all parents will agree that this is the most essential thing that is needed when you embark on the journey of parenthood. I would say love here as well, but I don’t want to be redundant, since it is kind of a given.
  2. Diapers – This is what everyone always says, and they are right. You need to have at least 2 at hand when you are changing the baby – One to change him into and the other to use as a shield against potential and common accidents.
  3. Hand sanitizer – probability that people will actually wash their hands before touching your baby – 50% – so it is better to be prepared.
  4. Several onesies as the baby will likely only wear that for the first month or two.
  5. Swaddles – They bring comfort to most babies. I loved that Alex and Anais ones – I still use them on Emma when it is warm because they serve as a light cover.
  6. Aveeno eczema cream and diaper cream – As a baby Emma had several heat rashes and the Aveeno cream helped. Also, I would put a small amount of the diaper cream almost daily, just as prevention.
  7.   Lots of burp clothes – for other people to use and for you to have at all times while burping the baby.
  8. If breastfeeding – Medela pump, lanoline cream and ice packs to ease the pain at the beginning stages.
  9. Dry wipes, to clean them in areas that you might not get to during bath time – neck, behind the ears, butt if they have a rash etc.
  10. Humidifier – to help congestions. Emma got sick at 3 months and it wasn’t pretty. The humidifier helped.

 

It seems like mommyhood also helps in giving you a lapse in memory as I KNOW there were other things I found essential during my first 3 months of motherhood, but I can’t seem to think of them now.

What are your tips and essentials?

Am I a Good Mom?

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I obviously love Emma more than words can express, but lately I don’t feel like I am the best mom I could be. I don’t even know what being the ‘best mom’ would be, but I do know that my patience with her is running low these days and that I am relieved when my husband gets home and I get some time off. I know a lot of it has to do with my lack of sleep, as my patience dwindles. But part of me is also tired of her running my life/dictating my movements. She cries if I am not with her/by her side all the time. I need to shower, cook, clean up a little, etc. So I definitely need to do things that don’t allow me to be stuck by the hip to her. I love her so much, that although I try to set the rules, I notice that she has managed to manipulate her way around them and gets away with things. She must have mastered this while she was sick. This week I’ve tried to compromise and negotiate with her but nothing seems to work, the fact that she constantly refuses to do things that need to get done is frustrating. I try to always talk to her about things, explain to her why I ask her for things or why she needs to do something and lately after returning from vacation, everything I hear from her is a scream, a cry, a tantrum. When she behaves I feel like it is the most amazing gift ever!

Yesterday, after trying the talking route and it not working, I ended up screaming at Emma and just plainly screaming at the air -out of frustration – which gets her even worse; and even though I know this is the effect it brings, I couldn’t help it. I don’t want to go the screaming route – I think it’s unhealthy for both her and I. I need to figure out how to better deal with her attitude and tantrums. I also need more sleep…

This is how I feel –

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Is it terrible that I feel like I need a break from my daughter? Do other moms ever feel this way?