Heartbreaker Hair

I’ve written a few times about learning how to do Buggy’s hair, and I have to say I am proud of how well I’ve been doing recently.  I try new styles about once a week and even if they’re not 100% successful (aka fuzzy by morning) it’s fun.  For the most part Buggy is patient with me.  I set her up with her i pad or put on Daniel Tiger and let her hold the baggie of elastics and hand them to me when I need them.  But sometimes, she’s not so patient.  Sometimes, she struggles with sitting still and  gets mad if there’s tangles in her hair.

Last night for the first time though, she said she hated her hair.  I was heartbroken.  I love her curls.  I love that her hair is so soft, and that it gets fuzzy when it’s humid out.  I think she looks adorable even when her hair is a hot mess and it made me sad to hear her say she hates her hair.  To make it worse, she started combing her hand through my hair and said “I like your hair mommy”.  I just hugged her close and said “And I love your hair.  We both have nice hair, baby”  We spent the next few minutes snuggled up on the couch with her small fingers wrapping their way through my hair and mine through hers.

When I went to tuck her in to bed she told me again that she likes my hair, and I said again that we both have beautiful hair.  I hope that she learns to love her hair like I do.  It is beautiful, and although I am sure it probably hurts when I try to comb the tangles out of it, it looks so cute when it’s all done up

buggy-braids

I spy…

Buggy’s newest favorite game is I Spy and it usually goes something like this: Buggy: “I spy something green… A TREE!  Mom’s turn”  Me: “I spy something blue (spying a blue plate)”  Buggy: “THE SKY!  I spy something… something … WHITE!  It’s the clouds Mom!  I said WHITE!”

I don’t think she really gets that to play I spy you need to guess what the other person sees not just name something that is the color they said.  She also doesn’t get that you’re not supposed to SHOUT what you spy without letting the other person guess, but hey, for a 2 year old she’s doing great with her colors!

The other day, however, our daily game of I spy turned into her first acknowledgment of her skin color.  She said “I spy something brown… my person!  Mom!  I said MY PERSON!”  I was kind of shocked because she normally names really common objects like trees, grass, and anyone’s shirt color that she can see.  She’s never called herself brown, or talked about anyone’s skin color before so I just kind of sat there.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to reply or what.  But about 3 seconds later I heard “MOM!  Moooommmm!”  from the backseat.  “I said your turn” So I took my turn and continued playing I spy with my beautiful brown Buggy.

I’m still waiting until the day she recognizes and asks about the different skin tones in our family.  From her daddy’s dark brown to her medium brown, the baby’s light brown and my white skin we really are all different colors.  I love that we are so different yet there is so much of my husband and I in each kid, and I hope that she loves her beautiful brown person as much as I do!

Three Times the Hurt

I recently went to a social event with one of my co-workers.  We both have little boys, and thought it might be fun to take them out for a little playdate while we enjoyed free food and beer.  I brought Froggy, who at the time was 13 months, and her four month old son came along as well.

While at the event we were sitting around talking with other people, playing with our babies, and generally having a good time.  I was wearing Froggy on my back in our Tula carrier, and her son was in his stroller.  An older gentleman came over to talk with us, and asked if the boys were twins.  We both quickly said no, and I said my son was a little over a year and hers is only 4 months.  It was awkward, because he clearly thought both boys were my friends kids.   She and her son have a similar golden brown skin tone to Froggy’s, so to some extent I could see how one might think they were related, but at the same time I was literally wearing my baby, and had been interacting with him all afternoon long.  To me, it was clear he is my kid.  But I guess this man just saw his skin color and thought the three of them were related and I was just a random friend baby-wearing someone else’s kid.

Anyway, about 20 minutes later a woman came over and sat next to us.  At first she kept to herself but after a few minutes she asked to hold my friend’s son.  My friend agreed, and the lady cooed and smiled at the baby.  It was very cute and my friend was able to eat without tiny hands grabbing her food.  Meanwhile, my son was walking from chair to chair and eventually walked over to the lady.  She said “Oh, your big brother is coming to visit”  My friend rolled her eyes (to me, the lady couldn’t see her) and then politely said “That is actually her son” gesturing to me.  I just sat there.  What could I say?  I mean, it was the second time in one day someone clearly thought that my baby was my friend’s baby.

We needed a drink after that, so we went to get our free beer (Hello, pumpkin spice porter!!) and some other people started talking with us.  We exchanged pleasantries and then they turned to my friend and said “What’s the age difference between them?”  (gesturing towards the kids) She said “I don’t know.  My son is 4 months and hers is like a year…?”  One of the men apologized and said “Oh, sorry.  I thought they were both yours”  We both said no worries and went back to our table with our beers.

That third time of having someone mistake my son as my friend’s child really got to me.  I know none of those people were intentionally trying to hurt me, but they did.  It hurt me because I want so badly  for people to tell me my kids look like me, have my hair, my nose, or my smile.  And I know that will never happen.  I accepted that my children probably wouldn’t look like me before my husband and I even got married, and I do not for one moment wish that they look like anyone else, but it is hard feeling like the odd parent out.  I am working on having thicker skin when it comes to comments about my children because I know this is just the beginning, but it’s hard.  If I’m honest, it’s a lot harder then I realized it would be, and I know I’m going to have to be stronger as my kids get older.

Milk Machine

After successfully nursing Buggy for a year with very few problems (she couldn’t latch on one side at first due to a bit of a tight neck and flat head, but after starting physical therapy at 2 weeks old, we never had any issues at all), I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to nurse Froggy.  I knew what to do, and I was sure he would too.  Boy, was I wrong!  It was one issue after another, but I am very proud to say we have made it to a year!

When Froggy was born he was a tiny 7lbs 1oz, and with a very small mouth he wasn’t able to latch well.  I was in pain every time he tried to eat.  The nurses at the hospital tried to help me, and I talked to a lactation consultant before we left.  I knew he was getting enough milk based on the number of wet diapers and his weight gain in those early days, but I was crying each feeding, occasionally yelping, and always in pain.

To help myself, I got a nipple shield and found a local Le Leche League chapter to meet other women and get some support.  Both were great decisions, and for a few months things were looking up.  But then I went back to work, and working meant pumping.  I was fortunate to have a back office where I could pump in peace three time a day.  I set myself up with a mini fridge for snacks (and milk storage) and even brought my rocking chair in so I’d have a comfy seat. Three times a day for 20 minutes I’d try to concentrate on my baby, I’d try to read a book for fun, or watch videos on my phone.  But more often then not, my radio would go off and I’d have to stop my session to respond to a student emergency.  Or my phone would ring.  And ring.  And ring.  And then the secretary would call my radio and tell me I had an important phone call.  Needless to say, I went from 3 to 2 sessions in just a few weeks.  This led to mastitis and a few awkward leaky moments, one of which was saved by a sweet co-worker with a spare scarf.  By the end of the school year I was only pumping once per day, and Froggy had gone through most of my frozen stash.  I felt like a milk machine, because when I wasn’t actually pumping I was thinking about how I needed to, or I was home feeding him straight from the tap.  It was a pretty tough time, but I’m glad I persevered.  I’m proud I stuck with it because it was a challenge.  It was something I felt like giving up, but didn’t.  I proved to myself that even if it hurts, I am doing something good for my child – feeding them!

After school let out for the summer, I found myself touched out.  I didn’t want to nurse Froggy because I was just over being constantly needed.  I was always being used as a jungle gym by Buggy, and she felt that she needed to be on my lap, right in Froggy’s face, reporting his every move while he nursed.  I constantly heard “Mooooom.  He’s moving his feet.  Mom.  Mom!  He scratched his hair.  Mom!  Look!  He closed his eye.  Oh it opened.”  As if I didn’t know what was happening right on top of me.  Despite these struggles, I continued nursing him because I set a goal of a year, and I was so close I couldn’t give up now!

Finally, as Froggy’s first birthday approached (where did the time go!?), I decided it was time to wean him.  I dropped one daytime feeding every few days for about a week until we were down to morning, nap, and bed time feedings.  We were about to take a trip up to Maine, where we would leave Buggy and Froggy with their Grandpa while the husband and I took a trip to Quebec.  It seemed like the prefect time to stop breastfeeding.  While on the trip, my goal was to wean Froggy completely.  I gave Grandpa the last of my frozen breast milk for Froggy’s nighttime meals, and took off for a mid-week adventure in a foreign country.  On the trip, I hand expressed a few times, and I thought all was good.  I thought I wouldn’t miss feeding him, that I was ready to be done.  But I was wrong about that too.

At first, I was so happy to have my body back to myself.  No little hands to hold still while tiny eyelashes fluttered shut.  No more mid day calming snuggles and running my fingers through his soft brown curls while he was half eating half sleeping, and no more quiet night time feedings, just the two of us sitting in the dim living room while I watch reality tv. I’ve met my goal, but am I really done breastfeeding my little love?  As I nursed him to sleep before writing this I decided that even though he is down to just a bed time feeding, I’m not quite ready to give it up just yet.  It may have been a pain (literally) but I know it was worth it to be a milk machine for the last year.

*Disclaimer: I am not in any way bashing those who feed their baby formula, donor milk, or exclusively pump.  I am simply telling my own story of breastfeeding Froggy, and sharing our journey with you*

Mine

I was picking Buggy up from her little school the other week, and as I was loading her into the car a dad pulled up beside me.  He had to wait to get out because my doors were wide open as I struggled to get Buggy, my independent “I want to do it myself” child, buckled in.  As he was passing by he asked me if I carpooled often.  I thought he was referring to the fact that I have 2 carseats in my car, one for Buggy and one for Froggy, so I said “No, we never carpool”.

He looked me me, obviously confused.  I just walked around the car to get in so we could get home, but he followed up his previous question by asking “Is she yours?”  Why yes, yes she is mine. I wanted to tell him that it’s none of his business, that asking me if I carpool at the beginning of the conversation just made things more awkward.  I wanted to tell him to mind his own business, and that he should just shut up.  But instead, I just said yes and smiled.  Then I got in my car and drove away.

I know being asked if she’s mine may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is to me.  It’s a big deal because I get mean looks and stares when I go out with just the kids.  I don’t like being treated like I’m some sort of carpooling babysitter who isn’t a mom.  I wish people would be more accepting.  Mixed race families, adoptive families, same sex parent families, single parent families – we are all the same.  We are all parents who love our children, and we all deserve to parent without the identity of our child being questioned.

If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…

… Don’t say anything at all! … Not once, but TWICE in one day of travel people made rude comments to us about my husband getting wheelchair assistance and sitting in the disabled seating in the airport by our gate. What they didn’t know is that he is medically retired from the US Army with a very severe hip injury, which will require surgery. Walking long distances causes him pain, and add to that the fact that at the airport he has to carry extra weight of either 2 backpacks and/or a child and he can’t walk fast or run if we have a tight connection.

The first person who said something saw him being wheeled up the ramp as we de-planed and said to me (having no idea that he was my husband), “I thought those wheelchairs were reserved for elderly people who can’t walk well.  Guess they just give them out to anyone these days.” I ignored her, because what I wanted to say would have probably caused me more trouble then it was worth. My husband asked for assistance at the airport, which is his right, same as anyone else. He did not ask to be judged by those who assumed he was just taking advantage of riding on those cool little carts that zoom through the terminal, or by others who looked at him and saw a young healthy guy, not knowing he is a War Veteran with a career-ending injury. These injuries make it challenging for him to keep up with Buggy and Froggy on walks that turn into runs, and cause him pain every day. If he needs assistance he should be allowed to get it, without question.

To those who judged him without bothering to find out about his circumstance, let me add that I did not get or ask for any assistance throughout our trip. When he got on one of those fancy carts, he and Buggy rode and I gave my seat to an elderly lady who also needed assistance. I walked/ran behind the cart carrying the baby and a backpack so the lady didn’t have to wait a long time for another cart. When the terminal was crowded, I let my husband sit in the disabled seating and I stood nearby, even though there was an empty seat next to him, because I wanted to make sure people who actually did need a seat could have one. Some lady sitting there, next to 2 empty seats in a very crowded terminal, had the nerve to tell him the seating was for disabled people. He didn’t respond, which is a lot nicer then what I would have done if I wasn’t busy taking a toddler and a baby to the bathroom. She also gave Buggy several dirty looks and glared at me when Froggy spilled a little bit of his snack on the floor about a foot from her. We cleaned up after him, and I’m sorry, but I think Buggy was exceptionally well behaved considering we had been traveling for over 8 hours by this point, and our flight was delayed. There was no need to inform my husband that the section of seats was for disabled people, or to shoot nasty looks at us.  I realize she most likely had some sort of disability herself, but that is no excuse to be rude.  My husband didn’t question why she was sitting there, and it wasn’t as if she needed his seat; she was already sitting when we arrived.  She had no idea what he’s been through, and frankly, it’s not her business.  My husband told me later that he didn’t respond because he doesn’t owe anyone any kind of explanation.  He said it’s nobody’s business why he is getting assistance, so he just sat there.

Just because my husband looks young and healthy does not mean he does not have a disability. Just because he has two young children and a wife with him does not mean he/we asked for assistance because we couldn’t manage on our own. Just because someone doesn’t appear TO YOU to have a disability does not mean you have the right to be rude to them for seeking out assistance. I wish people would mind their own business and realize that their assumptions and vocalizations about these assumptions can really negatively impact others. Be kind. Show compassion. Think before you speak. If you don’t know if someone has a disability and they are receiving assistance, please have faith that they feel they truly need the help.  Nobody wants to be disabled.  Nobody wants to have to ask for help to get through an airport.  Nobody wants to live in pain.

I wish my husband didn’t have an injury that ended his 9 year military career and shattered his dreams of becoming Special Forces. I wish he didn’t have an injury that causes him pain every day, and that he could go on family walks with us without limping. I wish that people would try to understand that if something doesn’t directly impact them (I have no idea how a stranger’s disability impacts anyone else) they need to be quiet and mind their own business.  I wish we could all remember that our words can impact others, positive or negative, and that if we don’t have something nice to say we shouldn’t say anything at all.

Hair, Hair, Hair!

I’ve posted about my (in)ability to do Buggy’s hair in the past, and I’m here again to show some new styles and report out on what I learned from one of my friends, who graciously showed me some new ways to give Buggy “princess hair”.

On the left, you can see that Buggy sometimes adds accessories such as a headband and a sticker on her nose, but this hairstyle (minus her contributions) is one of the easiest for me to both do and maintain.  I just part her hair into any number of segments, put it in hair ties, braid each section in a regular braid (which I just learned is also called a plait) and end with one of those impossibly small rubber bands that always seems to snap when I take it out.  The middle photo is just parting Buggy’s hair into three (or four depending on my mood and her patience level) and adding the top pony tail to the next one, so all her hair is up and back.  Sometimes I just have to tame that wild mane!  The photo on the right was my very first attempt at cornrows on Buggy’s hair.  It was actually more of a french braid,  and I didn’t do very well keeping it tight or parting it straight, but it was a good start.

Once I started getting more into doing Buggy’s hair, I asked a friend whose daughter has a similar hair texture to come and show me how to do Buggy’s hair.  She was a good and patient teacher, and did not make fun of me when I had no idea what a plait was!  I learned how to use those bobble hair ties that Buggy calls her “princess balls”, and how to do a twist.  I also learned that it takes a LOT of practice to be able to do corn rows well.  I figured, what the heck – might as well practice on my husbands hair!

 

This is a before and after shot of me braiding his hair!  It went pretty well – so well, actually, that I gave him a headache for two days because I made it so tight!  Oops!  Luckily, he still likes me, and even let me do his hair a second time!

Here are 5 tips I’ve found helpful when doing Buggy’s hair are: 1. Comb it when it is wet, with conditioner in it. 2. Don’t wash it every day; twice a week is plenty.  Her hair type needs natural oil in it, otherwise it gets very dry and fuzzy. 3. Style when dry, it is easier to grip her hair this way. 4. Don’t give up!  If a style looks funky, is uneven, or otherwise unsatisfactory just take it out and start again.  Or stick a bow on it!  5.Have patience (this goes for both of us).

What tips do you have for doing your little one’s hair?