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Archive for the ‘The Out-Laws’ Category

I’m usually pretty good at drawing boundaries with other adults (and really good at doing it with my children). However, with adults I tend to lack the same gentle approach as I use with my kids. I shouldn’t though, because many adults are emotionally very much the same as a child. Usually not their fault, I should add, but the fault of bad luck, bad parenting, and okay, maybe a little bit their fault for not doing the work of maturing.

I’m good at recognizing when someone is asking too much of me. I’m very aware of how much I have to give to others and (eventually) stop others from taking more than I have to give. However, I’m not adept at drawing the lines before getting to that point of no return.

Two recent friendship break-ups come to mind. I’m not going to get into the sordid details (boring anyway) of what went down, but never-the-less, I felt these two individuals were emotional vampires. And while I don’t regret putting/allowing (it was mutual) an ocean of space between us, I regret how I allowed it to happen. I have a lot to learn about setting boundaries with other adults and the ol’ MIL will be my first “test subject” in how to do it gently.

She is a person I can not escape from. I can’t decide to NOT be her daughter-in-law because she is insensitive and judgmental. And I will see her [hopefully] for a long time to come because I have children with her son. The only thing I can do is to do the work of setting boundaries with her. I want to do this gently because it is very important for me to preserve a positive relationship with her and set a good example for my children.

Now, how the hell do I do this???

What has been suggested to me is to not engage her in conversation when she approaches any subject with a negative judgment. I’ve been practicing body language and verbal tone in the shower, “Yes, we too would have liked Oscar to die in our arms at an old age.” “Yes, I can assure you we have a wonderful pediatrician and we are doing everything we can for Bella’s skin.”

Michelle, you don’t have to defend your choices! You don’t need to go into detail about ANYTHING. You don’t have to explain yourself. You CAN put your hand up (like, talk to the hand) slowly, gently, and without attitude to give a strong message. You CAN gently put your hand on her shoulder. You ARE a strong woman, Michelle, and you CAN project that message without offending. Michelle, DON’T forget her limitations, again – she will only disappoint!

How am I doing?

This is not going to be easy. I want to learn.

And now I bomb you with the photos I took today and ultimately, my inspiration to become a better person…

Who needs a teething ring when you have a big brother???

Who needs a mobile when you have a big brother and a robot?

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I took Bella in to see her pediatrician on Monday for her eczema. When Dr. Blanco, a warm mature woman of Cuban decent, entered the tiny room we were waiting in, I burst into tears.

My little girl is suffering and nothing I am doing is helping her heal. I choked out between sobs.

Blanco knows me as one of her mamas who only comes in for a sick visit when my kids are really sick. This means that both my kids have had only one “sick” visit and both of them went in for eczema. Anyway, not trying to brag about how little my kids go to the doctors, just noting that I’m not the worrying kind of mama. This eczema problem has reached a level of serious.

My stomach is in knots.

Blanco prescribed a new lotion that can be used as often as needed. It is not a steroid. It seems to be helping to keep her skin hydrated (still a little flaky but not as bad), but the eczema hasn’t gone away. We are taking her to an allergist next Wednesday. I’m skeptical about how much an allergist can actually help but we are desperate which = willing to try anything. I’ve given up eating soy, dairy, and eggs. I’ve even ordered creams off the internet with no luck.

I know this is shitty but… I keep saying stuff like, “if Bella’s skin clears up tomorrow, I’ll believe in you, God.” Crappy, I know. But like I said, I’m desperate. I’m also dead serious because a part of me really wants to believe.

Bella’s suffering brings me to my MIL update. I’m going to make this brief because lord knows I can be long winded about her. We are not speaking right now by my choice. I immaturely hung up on her while she was in mid-sentence repeating a criticism she has been singing for over a month now, “you are not doing everything you can be doing to help Bella.” A judgment that Blanco assured me is not true.

MIL’s other recent criticism had to do with Oscar – you know, how she has never put one of her dogs down. They have all died in her arms. Well, I got fed up with her judgments of Hal and me and am taking a break from her bull-shit. I’m too vulnerable right now to allow such an insensitive and judgmental person to speak so freely to me. The irony of her bull-shit babble is she knows nothing about eczema or pug encephalitis. Yet, she would do so much more than me to make things better for my suffering love ones. Blah.

Oh my gosh… moving on now… I totally forgot to record that I ACTUALLY LEFT THE HOUSE WITH BOTH KIDS last Saturday! We went to the store for Hal’s father’s day gift. They were well behaved and the outing was inspiring to do it again.

A friend sent me this link…

The Spoon Theory

It very accurately describes what living with rheumatoid arthritis is like. It’s a long read but worth it if someone you love has a disease that you “can’t see.”

I really hope that my sweet babies don’t get RA.

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I really did know better than to try and level with my MIL. If there is one thing she can’t handle, it is hearing that someone is depressed. So scary for her. She and my BIL talk about depression as if it is a weakness or disorder. The only reason I said something to her is because I wanted to give her a chance to hear the truth. I didn’t like how she reacted to it so she pretty much lost that privilege from me. In my heart, I know she does care and she does love me. She just isn’t aware that normal people get depressed and see therapists and that it is OKAY. Maybe she’ll learn a little from knowing?

I started to feel better last week – probably due to going outside more often – and *almost* decided that I didn’t need to see a therapist. Then I thought, no, there is a reason beyond my understanding that I have been feeling so sad and just because the sadness comes and goes, doesn’t mean I should ignore it. Because we all know what happens when we ignore important emotions… they come back in the future to bite us in our respective ass.

I’m still in the weaning process with Max. I don’t mind nursing him anymore. I feel like since there is so much that I can’t do with him right now I can “make up” for it by allowing him to nurse. I’m careful to not nurse him when I really don’t feel like it because I don’t want to be sitting there hating every moment. He nurses maybe 2-3 times during the day, to go down for a nap, and first thing in the morning. No night nursing. Hey, it’s a start.

Okay, verdict is in… I can not eat eggs or soy products. They have a negative affect on Bella’s skin. Next week, once her skin clears up from the recent soy introduction, I’ll reintroduce dairy to see what happens. That day, I’m going to Whole Foods with a friend and ordering a cheese sandwich and taking home a pizza for dinner. It takes about two days to see if her skin reacts. I’m really hoping I can at least eat dairy! If I have to give that up, welp, that is what I will do. A part of me finds it fun to come up with a variety of foods that don’t have those three ingredients as the staple.

Yesterday I let Max run around our back yard nekked. And by “let” I mean, I couldn’t get him to keep his clothes on. He was playing in his pool and decided it was just not comfortable being wet and having on clothes. When Hal gets home tonight I’m going to run up to the store and buy batteries for my camera – it is killing me to not have it! He was so cute with his curls bouncing up and down as his pudgy little legs took him all over the yard. I love how wild and true kids are to their nature – so beautifully primitive and free.

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I’ve been avoiding going over to my in-laws home for a while now. MIL caused some family turbulence with some dramatic behavior just three days after Bella was born and has been treating me like I’m the invisible girl ever since. I wasn’t the direct cause of her drama, Hal was, but she’s got to take her anger out on someone. She’s not really outright mean, no, she’s too passive aggressive for that. She just gives me the silent treatment.

At first I didn’t mind but then she brought a friend of hers into it – indirectly, of-course. So this friend of hers acts sort of like a protective shield for MIL’s ego. Her friend is outright disrespectful, antagonizing, and condescending to me (well to everyone but I’m just talking about me right now). This is the same woman who actually had the nerve to tell me that because I was raised an only child I can’t possibly know how to raise my own kids and books won’t help me. Yep, she said this right to my face about five months ago. I was so shocked and taken aback by her ideas about motherhood that I couldn’t even muster up a decent retort. She went on to tell me that I really *should* be asking MIL for advice more often because she raised three kids of her own.

Yeah, this scene happened a few days after MIL got upset with Hal and I because we are “know it alls” who act like we don’t need her advice. See, Hal and I don’t ask for her advice (but she gives it anyway) because we are pretty resourceful people. Duh, a librarian and an ex-bookstore manager – of-course we are going to consult the books first! Then, secondly we go to my friends. I never begrudge MIL the space to give me advice but for her, it is the fact that I don’t see her as my beacon of parenting information that is upsetting.

I feel bad for MIL because she has some serious insecurities and an extremely low self esteem. When she behaves like an ass towards me I let it ride. I’m not interested in pointing out her painfully obvious character flaws and I don’t expect her to change. My modus operandi for the past year and a half has been to accept her just as she is and complain if need be on the drive home.

I just recently learned from watching Land Before Time, that you should NEVER begrudge anyone of their dignity – that everyone needs to feel like they have something to offer. Little Foot’s grandpa is so wise! Hal is great at doing this and it is something I have been working on for almost two years now: not feeling the need to point out other people’s flaws to them. However, MIL’s friend really gets to me. She’s coming really close to being told off. Postpartum is NOT a time to be fucking with me.

Last Sunday, against my better judgment, I went over there for dinner. MIL’s friend was present and felt like challenging my knowledge about… gelatin. She did this because I said that my son couldn’t have pudding (but he could have the pie) because boxed pudding usually has gelatin in it.

Just so you know… gelatin is usually made from ground up animal bones. Not something a vegetarian wants to eat. It can also be made with a veggie source but unless the packaging specifies it, you have no way of really knowing. When I have called a company to ask what source their gelatin came from, the typical response is, “what-ever source is cheaper that day.” So, the no-brainer standard rule for vegetarians is to just avoid it all together.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into the boring details of the altercation here but I will tell you that it ended quickly and abruptly with me just turning around and walking away – while MIL’s friend was in mid-sentence. That was my way of slapping her in the face. Talk to the back, bitch, as I disappear.

TAke a deep breath. Breath, Rosa.

I came to the realization that during these very special weeks postpartum I need to protect myself from situations that seem overwhelming. That is why I have been avoiding the in-law’s homestead. Oh, well, another VERY important reason is that when Hal takes Bossman out I get some much needed bonding time with BellaGrace. I really love the time I get alone with her.

Not to knock having one child but for me… I think about when Max was an infant and wonder why on earth did I ever think THAT was hard??? When it is just Bella and I, I pop in the Buffy DVD, sit my ass on the couch, and watch hours of TV uninterrupted and totally relaxed. She just nurses and sleeps in my arms the entire time. And this is hard how??? Okay, I know, the first baby IS hard and it was for me for about the first year and a half. I think it is just that having two has made me appreciate this infant time differently – especially when Bella and I are alone.

So, Hal is going back to work next Monday. My mom will be in town next Wednesday until the following week then she’ll be leaving on Thursday. After that, I will be on my own. I’m actually feeling ready for Hal to go back to work – in a way. I’m ready to be alone with the kids. I like when it is just me at home because there is a certain amount of consistency in managing/guiding Max’s behavior that just doesn’t happen when both Hal and I are present. We parent differently and respond to situations differently.

I’m actually proud of Hal and I. We managed to spend this entire month together without getting into one fight. We barked at one another (mostly me at him) a couple times but nothing to cry home about. I think this month has been a real testament to how compatible we are with one another – especially considering my elevated hormone levels, the amount of stress we both have felt with having a newborn in the house again, and the lack of sleep we have both experience. Go us.

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More MIL Bizarreness.

My MIL always says the weirdest stuff to Hal and I. We went over to their house last night and the first thing she said when we saw her was, “so, where have you been hiding Max all week?” Then, she proceeded to accuse us of keeping Max from her. She kept asking why we didn’t call them all week. Hal and I were like, um, it’s been six days since we last saw you guys… what on earth are you talking about??? When I left the room to diddle-dawdle on their computer in another room because I got tired of her comments she laid into Hal. “What?” she said, “Are you trying to turn Max against me?” She went on to warn Hal, “you know, when he’s five he’ll tell me everything.”

Hal thinks this is “normal” behavior – at least it is normal for her. I think it is a form of severe paranoia. Hal just shrugs her off and will say without any sound of conviction or adulthood in his voice, “you’re wrong.” He (quite understandably) doesn’t have the energy to attempt to convince her she is wrong and down right out of line. Hal knows her better than I do so I just let him deal with it. Well, I did tell her that Max and I were busy all week but that information went in one ear and out the other.

A couple of weeks ago MIL cornered Hal and demanded that he work on a menu for her shop (she is a business owner). He was offended by her approach and told her if she is going to ask him “like that” then he wasn’t going to do it. She then tried to use the fact that she spends time with Max as a bartering tool. As in, “well, I watch Max for you guys so you need to do this for me.” Um, I ask her to watch Max maybe once a month – like when I have a doctors appointment. The rest of the time she spends with Max isn’t about us needing her to watch him (though we do appreciate it and I make sure I tell her that) but rather about her needing to spend time with her grandson. Hal was (quite understandably) offended by her comment and asked her if watching Max was a burden to her. To which she replied, “well, I don’t like to stay in one spot for very long.”

Um, and you wonder why I don’t ask to drop him off with you during the week unless I absolutely NEED to??? But, she really didn’t need to say this to Hal for me to know that she sometimes finds it a burden to watch Max. Her attitude and body language towards me speaks volumes.

Well, of-course this morning when Hal called her to see if she wanted to take Max today she was like, “I always have time for Max. Bring him over at one.”

What is going on here???

I do love the woman but damn, she’s crazy.

In other In-Law news…

I’m so sad that my BIL told me him and O broke up last night. I hope that they can work out their issues and make it through their beginning years of figuring one another out. If they don’t make it, I’m going to keep in touch with her for two reasons – 1.) I really like her and 2.) I wan’t to know my nephew/niece and Max to know his cousin.

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Halloween this year was pretty low key for the Harmon’s. Max was not quite ready for the spookiness of it – which proved to be the case last Friday when I took him to story time at Hal’s library. Some of the kids were dressed in their costumes. One kid in particular wore an Incredible Hulk costume with an ugly mask to match. Max got really scared when he saw him, clutched my neck for dear life, and started to cry. We had to leave the room. This actually upset me. I felt like since it was a toddler program held by an organization (40 Carrots) that is designed specifically for helping parents understand their children by normalizing their complicated personalities, the kid should have been asked by the facilitators to leave the mask off. It is normal for toddlers to find stuff like that scary and this kid with the costume was older than Max. It upset me for a millisecond, but we dealt. Incredible Hulk was asked to take his mask off for the last 15 minutes of the 1 hour program so we did eventually go back in. Boss-man was suspicious for the first five minutes but when he saw there where no scary masks, he relaxed.

My MIL has been talking ill about Hal’s and my decision to not take Max trick-or-treating. She likes to make it sound like we are depriving our son of fun. She never directly says anything crule, her attacks are all expertly passive/aggressive. She brags about how much fun O and BIL’s kids had at her house and how great their costumes where and how she wished Max could have been there because he would have had soooooo much (more) fun – so on and so forth. But anyway… what did we do for Halloween? Max and I celebrated by eating lots of chocolate during the late afternoon and then all three of us sat in our driveway to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters. I didn’t dress Max up in a costume this year but will definitely do so next time. He was so cute, though, Boss-man would grab candy by the handful and drop it into the kid’s bags like a big boy. He also would stand at the end of our driveway waving candy at people down the street while shouting, “we’ve got candy! Come and get it!” A couple of the costumes with masks made him nervous and he wouldn’t give those kids any candy because he was balled up on my lap. But, other than that he had a really great time. I will say… shame on Hal and I… we didn’t put any bug spray on his skin. Poor kid got eaten up by skeeters.

Next year I probably won’t take him trick-or-treating, either. The Waldorf Academy has a program they run for kids during the early evening hours as an alternative to trick-or-treating. My midwife told me about it because she was planning to take her daughter. I can’t wait to get the scoop as to what it was like. It sounded like the perfect environment for toddlers and young children. They have three rules, 1.) No costumes with masks, 2.) No face paint, and 3.) No commercial character costumes! So, as you can imagine, a lot of the costumes are probably cute and homemade. The Waldorf school respects that Halloween can be very scary for young children but they also acknowledge and embrace that it can be a really fun and creative holiday. Waldorf education is all about learning through imaginative play. If only it weren’t so far away and so damn expensive we’d be sending our kids there. For Halloween they had some kind of nature walk through the woods and treats for the kids but I’m not sure what else. MIL will be hatin’ on us again next year! Oh well. I still love her – and yeah, you know she loves us, too.

I just got a battery for my camera yesterday while we were shopping for Christmas gifts (which I LOVE doing). Sooooo, here are a couple belly pics. I’m 27 weeks and 6 days pregnant.


I know, I’m cupping my boob. Haha. Now, look at that huge belly!!!!

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I woke up yesterday morning with an ear ache… at 3am. At 8am, I drove over to my MIL’s for an ear candling in hopes that it would at least clear out the wax so that I could hear. She did the candling on both of my ears the previous weekend and let me tell you, you would not believe the amount of wax that came out. When she cut the candle open my first thought was, “how does all of that fit in my ear?” There was that much. When she did it the second time Thursday morning, I was still amazed at how much stuff came out. But, the damn thing was still plugged. On top of not being able to hear well out of my left ear, it was also throbbing with pain.

I ended up going to the doctors where they pumped the ear full of water and got ALL the wax out. Then, the good doc wrote me a Rx for ear drops and sent me on my way. I feel a little better today but my ear is still hurting. Max woke up congested, with runny nose, and a cough. When will we stop being so sick??? It’s been two weeks now! Hopefully we’ll both be back at 100% next week.

In case you are not aware, I made a decision about two weeks ago to only take Max over to the out-laws house twice a week. Once during the week on which-ever day is convenient for me and on Sunday when the whole family gets together for dinner. This came into effect because Grandma (Max’s Great-Grandma) nearly fed him a slice of sausage pizza. Luckily, I was there and caught her before she made it to his high chair. Honest mistake, no??? Well, my SIL saw Grandma make a face like, “oh well, I tried” or “oh well – he would have survived.” This put my defenses up. Sweet little Grandma tells me what I want to hear but clearly has her own opinions. She is also the main culprit in constantly shoveling junk food into Max’s mouth.

Okay, fine. I’ve learned to accept that I can not change the way she or MIL thinks (though MIL is a big veggie and fruit lover so tends to offer Max a lot of that when he’s there). So, what’s a mama to do in a situation like this? I decided the only thing I could do was scale back the visits. And it has worked.

To counter balance the amount of junk food Max gets over at the out-laws, I’ve started buying him “healthy” cookies and treats to eat at our house. I consider this to be cookies and crackers without trans fats, artificial anything, hydrogenated oils, so on and so forth – you get the idea. They are for after he eats his lunch or dinner (unlike at Grandma’s where they are his only source of food).

Before I started doing this he would make a bee-line to Grandma’s kitchen (pointing to the exact cabinet where she stashes the yummies) and ask for cooookies. He would hoard them and eat way too many. I don’t want him to only have “treats” while over there because he may start to see them as something that is “bad” – you know, because mommy never lets him have treats. The last thing I want is for him to have negative associations about food that could affect the way he sees himself or others.

Anyway, he has chilled out a lot about the “treats” while at the out-laws home because they have ceased to be such a novelty. It also helps that I am always there to make sure he has actually eaten something of nutritional value before he gets a dessert. He now tends to eat way less when it’s offered to him. Mission accomplished.

Now, if I could just get him to eat his vegetables.

I see a possible near-future controversy with the out-laws coming up. MIL keeps telling Max that he will be spending the night with her “next time” he visits. Um. No. That won’t be happening until he is speaking in full complex sentences and understands that he is a vegetarian.

Once he fully understands why we don’t eat meat, if he still wants to try it – so be it. THAT I have no problem with. What I have a huge problem with is MIL offering it to him before he understands that he is eating a dead animal. Another reason he won’t be spending the night anytime soon is for the fact that he isn’t ready. He still nurses to sleep and when he wakes up in the morning. And I’m not in any hurry to take that comfort away from him. He also often wakes in the middle of the night and I can’t stand the thought of not being there for him. So yeah, I admit it, I’m not ready to let him spend the night, either.

Tuesday night Hal crawled into bed behind me and held me really close. Max does NOT like this at all. He always cries and immediately will ask for numnums as his way of getting Hal away from me or getting inbetween the two of us. Well, Tuesday night was no exception on that account. But, what he did do that was completely different and a first was say, “I love mommy,” as he cried and protested daddy loving mommy. Then, he said, “daddy loves mommy, too.”

We must have kissed and snuggled with him for hours after that because it was just so damn sweet. Then, Max kicked daddy out of bed.

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