Small celebrations that are worth so much more

Today was a big day for the sleepless Knights. Today, my babies learned how to ride their bicycles without training wheels. Sure, this is a fairly common right of passage that virtually every child will experience at some time in their development. And sure, this is way more their accomplishment than mine. But it feels like a huge accomplishment to me too.

As of late, I  haven’t had much reason to celebrate. I haven’t found a lot of reasons to smile, to relax, to sit back and enjoy this wild ride we call life. No, for me lately, life has been a bit of a struggle. Stress, work, exhaustion, worry, stress, arguing with children, bad behavior, did I mention stress? Yeah, it’s been a rough last couple of months for me. To the point where I woke up one day and realized that I had lost my joy in life. Completely lost it. And that’s a sad realization, when you have the blessings that I have, and you have lost sight of a way to appreciate and enjoy them.

I think it can happen to any of us, especially moms who are constantly running in a million different directions during these crazy and chaotic early years. It was definitely happening to me. And since realizing this, I have been working to take better care of myself and focus more on the positive. Let go of the negatives and the worry, and just do the best I can. It’s still a struggle, but I am trying.

So fast forward to today. We dropped Connor off at school and set off to the skate park to give “sans training wheels” another try. It’s something the boys and I have been working on for a couple of weeks now, here and there. And to be honest, they were both very resistant and I was very frustrated. (Read: just another area where Mama is failing at her job).

The logical side of my brain said to let it go, stop pushing so hard and let them learn when they are ready to learn. But the side of my brain that has been struggling with everything else lately… well, that side really just needed a win. Any win. You know? And I knew the boys were on the verge of having it figured out, that they just needed a little more practice and a little more confidence to make things happen.

I stayed up last night, researching different teaching methods. Because, yes, I am that mother. The one who runs to the Internet and pours over article after article after article, on whatever current issue might be affecting my children. I armed myself with a number of tips and tricks, and a whole lot of positive attitude (because at the end of the day, that’s what the boys really needed from me the most), and it worked!

Ben was the first to master it. And when he did, well, I whooped, I hollered, I jumped up and down, I made the random guy skateboarding on the other side laugh out loud at me… but dang it, I was thrilled!!!! I felt joy, real joy, for the first time in a long while. I felt Ben’s excitement. I felt his pride. I felt his relief at finally figuring it all out. His celebration was my celebration, and it felt incredible.

Alex almost had it figured out this morning too, he did ride a very short distance successfully on his own, but he was tired and cranky, and we were quickly deteriorating into a battle of wills. So I let it go, and we tried again after dinner, with Daddy and big brother now there to cheer him on. And he got it!!! And again, the pride, the excitement, the relief, it all came rushing through me. I just felt so….. happy. Happy for my babies. Happy for myself to have been able to help them. Happy that for once I could let everything else go, and just focus on the good happening right in front of me.

I am so proud of my babies, and their big milestone today, and I don’t want to take any of the credit away from them. They are the ones who had to figure it out and keep trying, no matter how many times they fell down. I’m just thankful that I was able to truly enjoy this exciting accomplishment with them, and feel a happiness that has been absent for far too long now. I want this happiness. I want this excitement. I want this joy. Not only for myself, but because my boys deserve to have a happy mama too.

So we are going to keep celebrating the milestones, each and every one of them, no matter how big or how small. And we are going to keep jumping for joy. Now that I remember how to.

The End of an Era…

The time has come, that I once wondered if it would ever come… the boys have weaned. It happened so gradually, I cannot say exactly when, though I know it was very shortly after their 2nd birthday. It started with them no longer asking to nurse after naps, then they didn’t ask at bedtime, and I didn’t offer. Finally they stopped asking first thing in the morning too. And suddenly we were done.

Randomly enough, days later, they started asking to nurse again. But by then I figured it was time to just be done with it, so I said no. And a part of me was so incredibly sad to do so. It has been quite a ride. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Connor, in October of 2009, my body has not been my own. I carried Connor, nursed him, weaned him when I was 10 weeks pregnant with the twins, carried them, nursed them until they turned 2. For the first time in 4.5 years, my body is my own once more. And it’s leaving me feeling rather hollow and empty inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the primary factor at play here is hormones. I have talked to many women who experience depression after weaning, thanks to all the crazy changes going on inside. I get that. I understand that I am, at least in part, a victim to that right now. That’s why I didn’t want to let the boys start nursing again. Why prolong this transition any longer than necessary? Particularly if it is affecting me in such a negative way? I’d much rather suffer now and get it over with, so I can return to my (semi) normal self. That’s what my boys need most.

I am very proud of what we accomplished. Breastfeeding is hard, so hard. I know this first-hand after I almost gave up on Connor. Heck, I did give up for a few months before returning to it, the best decision I could have possibly made. And then breastfeeding two babies at the same time? Unbelievably hard. But we did it. My goal was two years, and we made it! I have three healthy, beautiful boys who have all received the best gift I could possibly give them, and for that I am proud. I survived depression, relactation, bad latches, thrush, clogged ducts, excess lipase, colic and reflux caused by a cow’s milk allergy… and I didn’t give up. We did good.

I think the best thing I can do now, now that my breastfeeding days are over, is to take a little time to focus on me. That is really hard for me, the boys are my first and foremost priority always, so making time for me is not something I really do. But I think it is time, for my own mental and emotional wellbeing. I think taking some time for myself might just make me a better mother too.