Aha Moment

I had a personal epiphany the other evening.

Luffy and I were cleaning the kitchen after the dumpling had gone to bed. He was unloading the dishwasher, asking me why I had closed a flip-down lid on the silverware basket. As I was answering, a knife got stuck in it and the whole thing pulled away from the basket. As I put it back into place, I joked that he had manhandled it. And, all of a sudden, Luffy was mad. He had even clarified first, if I meant me or him, but I was oblivious and replied him. After it was clear that he was mad, I tried explaining that I had been teasing him, but it didn’t matter.

In the immediate aftermath, I admit to being hurt and mystified. WTH? It was a joke! I was teasing! He’s just using me as an outlet for stress, I told myself. After he had cooled off a bit, he explained that he had been doing his best to help and then I had criticized him.

Now you guys, I swear I had been teasing. Not the thing where you just say you were joking because you realize afterwards that it was cruel/mean/insensitive. I was truly joking. It was a flap attachment on the dishwasher, a flimsy thing that reattached in fifteen seconds and that we never use anyway. And my husband’s mind immediately went to criticism. I was completely caught off guard and even more hurt to think that I couldn’t even make a joke without him misinterpreting it.

However, that epiphany struck and I could see the other side clearly. You know how, in an argument, you always think you’re in the right. Whenever we have a disagreement, I had been thinking of all the things I’d been doing right, rather than trying to get better at the things I’m not. One such behavior was suddenly crystal clear: I have a tendency to be critical and a bit passive aggressive. Probably the worst thing is that I sneer and get snippy without realizing that I’ve done it. I hate that. I hate that I can’t have a productive discussion about an issue before I let it undermine the best of me. And that’s brought us to the point where my husband expects to be criticized, not teased. And I hate that too.

I’ve been reflecting on myself over the past couple of days and though there are probably many things I should be working on, I think I’ve identified two issues to work on first:

Issue 1: My facial expressions. This is gonna be a hard one. Luffy mentioned that my tone of voice and facial expressions from the other night didn’t convey a joke. They said criticism. In my self-review, I think I can see what’s going on. I have a very expressive face and it’s outing me at certain times. I can picture it clearly in my mind’s eye: I want to be ok with whatever is going on, though my mind says NO! so my eyebrows go up, my forehead tightens, my face tilts down as my eyes look up. A condescending look. My words say sure, that’s fine but my tone of voice says never, and I am annoyed at this whole discussion. And the worst part is that I often do it without noticing. It’s going to be very hard to change this, but I’ll start with baby steps. First step is identifying when I’m doing it. This is probably going to be in hindsight at the start, so along with step one comes sucking it up and apologizing to Luffy each and every time. Hopefully, over time, I’ll be able to identify it as it’s happening and then (with even more time) stop doing it all together.

Issue 2: Being right. Man, I hate this one, this hang-up. I like being right. I like doing things correctly, the first time. I just really, really like being really, really good at whatever I’m doing. And when I’m not “right” I shut down, get defensive. But I need to let go of this, especially when it comes to my son and my husband. Luffy and I are a team. There’s not really a right or wrong way to raise a child. There is no scoreboard in our house that says Belle: 0, Luffy: 1. I’m not even sure how to go about correcting this, other than to acknowledge the feeling each time it rears its head and then reject it, move it aside to face the issue without raising my hackles.

Anyway, I’ve got some personal growing to do. I’m writing all of this out so it’s here, in black and white. And I can come back and read about that time I made Luffy feel so rejected even though I had been trying to tease him. Man that feeling sucked.

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Polishing Up the Home, pt 5

I’ve been holding back on y’all. In my defense, Luffy and I fully realize that we’ve gone a little crazy, but I like to think y’all would too, if you had the option. And because I see the crazy, I haven’t really said anything. Plus plus, this has been in the works for damn near a year, which just adds to the crazy. And well, ….. yeah.

What’s the big news, you ask? Are we moving? Did we buy a new house? Some ridiculously over-the-top vacation? Yeah, no, none of those things. We got a new bed.

[…]

Don’t do that now! I can feel your disappointment. You were all set to live vicariously through my husband’s and my crazy decisions and I go and let you down. Hear me out:

Like I said, this story starts almost a year ago when Luffy got it into his head that we should get a new bed and [something something something] here’s the perfect bed for us! Now, I’m not even really sure how he found this bed although I think it had something to do with his favorite blogger mentioning it. I don’t really know. All I do know is that suddenly this was the bed we were gonna get, cool? The man loves sleep far more than me, so it seemed fair that he could choose our bed. My only input was that we upgrade to a king to replace our little queen. It gets a little cramped since both Luffy and I have gotten addicted to that full body pillow that was supposed to just help during my pregnancy. Sure! he said, the thing is though, we have to wait until next May. 

[???] <<< was probably my real response

And this is where Luffy launched into a somewhat convoluted explanation about a shareholders’ meeting of a parent company which triggered a big sale at subsidiary company and if you were a shareholder of said parent company, you got an even greater discount at the sale. The meeting had just wrapped up, thus we needed to wait until next year. And this is where I got a little suspicious, you guys.

You see, Luffy is a man who values his time and comfort over almost everything else. I love seeing the way he thinks a lot of times because it’s not the way most people think, even though we probably should be thinking that way. For example, you would never, ever find him at a Black Friday event because the discount is literally not worth the time invested. Now, I know a lot of people feel the same way about Black Friday, but he takes this far deeper. He discovered this tool that helps you gauge how much your free time is worth and also highlights the disparity between how much our time is worth and yet how we’re willing to spend it. (The classic example from the article is how long you should wait in line for a $100. At some point, the scales tip and the surprising thing is how little time that actually takes.) So he’s actually quite ruthless in his decisions over what’s worth his time. And as to his comfort, well he places a high value on that as well.

So to hear him say that he was willing to wait an entire year for this sale…… Luffy, how much does this bed cost?

The answer was a lot. A lot a lot. It’s a crazy amount of money for a mattress and if we waited for the sale, we’d get a ridiculous amount of money off the price. I figured he had a year to change his mind, so I’d see how he felt in Spring 2018.

Fast forward to April of this year and Luffy has us at the store, laying on the most comfortable thing I’ve ever laid on in my entire life and that is not at all an exaggeration and suddenly I’m counting the days until we can buy it (25 days) and then how much longer until it would be in our home (20 more days).

You’ll be happy to know that we did indeed survive the wait and we are now the proud owners of a king size bed and a glorious mattress that is truly heaven on earth. I also feel about 30% adultier because the bed is big and beautiful and stately. It fits right into our big bedroom and puts our previous setup to shame. Not bad for a couple of thirty-year olds!

Memorial Day 2018

Whew! We made it! We took our first road trip with the dumpling and we all survived. We had to break a few rules and we did deal with one round of puke, but yay! WE DID IT!

In all seriousness though, I am very grateful Luffy agreed to make the trip down to hill country Texas for my mini family reunion. In the end, my grandparents really only got to say hi to the dumpling, but it made their day. They hadn’t had the opportunity to meet him. Plus I got to catch up with my cousins and their children, so that was a lot of fun. We compared notes Sunday morning on how our respective children handled the night in the hotel room and our parents marveled over how it felt for their kids to have kids now. Weren’t we just in diapers and swim floaties like last summer?

We were there for less than 24 hours, but it was so wonderful to see everyone. We introduced the dumpling to the swimming pool and taught him how to kick his little legs (from his perch on the pool steps) and splash people (mainly my brother [his target] and my mom [an innocent bystander since he didn’t quite understand how to aim his splashing]). We also found a nearby neighborhood playground that he got to romp through. He also took full advantage of the VAY-CAY-TION!!! rules around food and had snacks on snacks on snacks.

To round out our holiday weekend, we spent yesterday afternoon in the backyard with his kiddy pool and bubbles. I managed to distract him enough to get him to wear a pair of sandals for the occasion (have I told you guys that I bought a couple of new pairs of shoes for him at Target that he has flat out refused to wear? because if anyone has ideas on how to convince a toddler that new shoes are not the devil, I’m all ears) and I laughed over his enormous swim trunks. He definitely had a little booty showing at the end, that poor, skinny dumpling.

I’m looking into water activity tables now because I discovered a great solution for all of those little ow-si??? inquiries when it’s 1,000 degrees outside and I don’t want to take his wagon for a walk around the block. A shady backyard and water activities are where it’s at!

Speaking of ow-si? I have to say that my favorite story from the road trip itself is sitting in the back with the dumpling and having to field the ow-si?? question as he’s forlornly pointing out the car window. No, my sweet baby, we can’t go outside. We’re driving. Ow-si?? I know it’s right there, but we’re driving, we can’t go outside. Ow-si?? We can’t go outside; I know you’re bored. All dun. I know you’re all done baby, but we’re not there yet. All dun. We’re still driving my sweet boy. All dun. If it makes you feel any better, mama and dada are all dun too.

A glimpse

I’m sitting on the couch right now, my feet propped up with a whiskey at my side. A quick glance down shows me an image of my sleeping son, on his belly with his kitty* tucked into his side. I am exhausted, physically and mentally, thanks to that little dude.

Today was one of those days that just beat us down. It started out looking like a good day! I got the dumpling up and we went about our Saturday morning routine without an early morning meltdown. Luffy was in good spirits as I left to go to exercise. But. Somewhere along the way, the dumpling decided that today was a no good day and everything triggered tears and woe.

We were actually supposed to go to a family friend’s birthday party today. They live on the other side of DFW from us, so it was going to be an hour’s drive there. Our initial plan was to leave at 11:30 to give the dumpling a car nap and arrive just a half hour late for the party. We decided, however, that the dumpling needed a real nap today and we definitely didn’t need to be an hour away from home should a meltdown occur. We contemplated attending again, later that afternoon after a fairly good nap and an tantrum-free hour, and even got about 15 minutes down the road before turning back. He was completely out-of-sorts in the backseat and we weren’t doing anyone any good by going.

I’m actually pretty bummed that we missed it. We haven’t seen these friends since January and they’ve moved to a new place since then. I was really looking forward to seeing them, but, alas, the dumpling had other plans. That’s not really something you think about, when having a child, that you may have to opt out of things you really want to partake in. I mean, sure, we say well we can’t go to Italy the couple of years, that will be ok! but you don’t really think about well my child will be having a tantrum-fest day, so I won’t be able to attend a good friend’s birthday party. We think of the big things we might have to wait on or opt out of, but not the little.

True to good mommy-blogging form, I’m supposed to close this by saying that he’s all worth it in the end. And he is. Of that I’m sure. His smiles make my bad mood melt away. His hugs make my heart ache. His laughs are literally music for my soul. And yet, seriously child would it kill you to not lose your marbles over the bubbles? Which you wanted in the first place, if I may remind you. Or the fact that we can’t go outside (ow-si?) right now. Or the way Sharpies don’t go down your train track the same way as the actual train cars do. Or the fact that you can’t actually control the cat. She does what she wants. I know, life’s unfair.

*I feel the need to clarify that this is a stuffed cat. He sleeps with a puppy and a kitty that I’ve dubbed Puppy and Kitty until he can do the honors. Teddy bears are so 2008.

 

Eh, he’s just a little speckled

When I changed the dumpling’s diaper on Saturday evening, I noticed he had a bit of a rash going on. Not around his bidness, mind you, but on his low abdomen. We had been playing outside in the heat and humidity (yay for Texas “Spring”!), so I figured it was just a bit of a heat rash. No biggie. The next morning, I noticed they had spread to his belly and chest. At the playground later that morning, I realized that his legs had some too. Huh.

Then I noticed his face had a couple too, as did his neck and feet, and I started furiously texting my mom because WTH?!

Luffy and I figured either an extreme case of heat rash or maybe a bizarre allergy to ketchup* and took him to the pediatrician first thing Monday morning, fully expecting them to give him a clean bill of health so that he could go to daycare. Spoiler alert: it’s Thursday and the dumpling is still home today!

The pediatrician said that the rash is viral. There’s no telling if he’s actually sick right now (though he has no fever or other symptoms besides a runny nose, so this is an unlikely scenario) or if this is just the fallout from a previous virus. Apparently, a rash can appear up to four weeks afterward!! The rash itself lasts anywhere from two days to two weeks and that he can return to daycare “when he starts looking better.” Uh, thanks?

So yeah, we juggled Monday and Tuesday ourselves (he actually looked worse Tuesday) and then my awesome, amazing, wonderful mother came in to town to help out. She arrived late Tuesday and she’s watched him for the past two days. He, of course, has had a blast. Gotta love grandparents**!

I have particularly enjoyed today because I decided to work from home, as usual. I had been planning to go into the office since the dumpling and my mom would be here. Luffy convinced me to hide in the office essentially and it’s gone great. The dumpling caught me once this morning, in the kitchen as I was getting water, so I’ve stayed behind a closed door the rest of the day. I’ve gotten to listen to him playing and it’s just adorable. His giggles and attempts at words are precious. I can hear him runnnnn down the hallway and throw balls in the living room. So cute!

I think he’ll be able to go back tomorrow as he’s really starting to look better. Poor baby.

*Ask me what he ate for lunch Saturday. He was a big fan of ketchup and licking ketchup off of other food items, but not actually eating other food items.

**Speaking of grandparent love: Luffy decided to take the dumpling to visit his mom on Monday afternoon, to break up the day a little. His mom doesn’t work, so we figured she’d be thrilled to get extra time with the cutie, even if he was a little splotchy. Adorably, when Luffy called to tell his dad the plans, his dad requested they wait until 2pm to come over because he was going to leave work to play with his grandson. Isn’t that just the sweetest?! Seriously, the dumpling has some of the best grandparents in the world!

The Quiet

I apologize for the quiet around here lately. I blame the usual suspects: work, child, etc. But there’s actually something else going on too, between Luffy and I, so I don’t feel comfortable sharing. (I know, I’d be shocked if I were you too – there actually is a line of oversharing for Belle! Who knew?!) Anyway, I don’t want to sound melodramatic (even though I know it completely does sound melodramatic), but I thought I’d put the explanation out there. We’re working through some things, trying to be the best version of ourselves for each other and our little family. It’s just one of those times when the only thing I want to talk about is the one thing I won’t. And thus – silence. It happens to the best of us.


To leave you on a happier note as you start your week: the dumpling can now tell you what the cat says! And it’s almost as adorable as his woof woof*. His little meow comes out as a “weow” and it is just too cute. TOO CUTE, I tell you!

* I linked back to that post and then realized afterwards that I haven’t told you guys about his woof woof!! How could I not?! So, I suppose a week or so ago, the dumpling started answering the question what does the dog say? with his own little woof woof. Which, is totally cute, but his is just painfully adorable because he says it in this tiny little voice, almost like he’s a little worried he’s actually summoning the big doggies over. And he doesn’t have the f-sound, so it comes out as woo woo. Gah! It’s just precious.

18 Months!

The dumpling is 18 months old! As of yesterday Wednesday. As you can see, I am awesome at this.

He did well at his check-up. He finally broke twenty pounds, that peanut, and while he is “behind” in communication, we were happy to announce that he learned two new words recently. All done as in I am ALL DONE with this empty bowl, mother, and shall hurl it off the table to demonstrate my all-done-ness and Wow as adorably exemplified this morning as he wandered around the kitchen going Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow! at nothing in particular. His block towers, on the other hand, garner an extended Woow-ooah!

There are definitely quiet little moments that fill my heart with joy at this age. Just this morning, I knelt down for a hug to see him off to school and he just beamed at me as he toddled over, diving in for a hug. I then kissed Luffy goodbye and pulled back to see him (the dumpling) run back over, tongue hanging out, presumably for a kiss as well. He then barreled off in chase of Luffy and managed to run right into Luffy’s leg as he was putting on his shoes, like a cute little bumper car. Such an adorable moment.

There are moments that make us laugh, like when he sings in his crib (at the top of his lungs). There are moments that frustrate us, like when he burst a seam on his zippy at bedtime and was completely obsessed and angered by this, yet refused to take it off and then we got him in a new one, but he wouldn’t get over the other zippy and we eventually just gave him the damn zippy to take to bed with him like geez child. There are moments where we watch him figure something, like how to kick a ball, and other moments where he suddenly just knows how to do something, like open doors*. All of these moments, the good and bad and quiet and happy and trying, they all blend to create our every day now. A bit like being on a roller coaster, really, and one that I actually enjoy being on. Usually.

*Our house unfortunately has all lever style door handles, meaning they’re not that difficult for the average toddler to operate. Even more unfortunately for us, the dumpling is tall enough and smart enough and he gets up on his tippy, tippy toes and – BAM – you’re looking at your toddler’s face as you’re trying to pee. So much for privacy!