No More Nips?

One of my biggest parenting challenges has been easing the wee ones off the nipples; whether it was my own, the bottle’s or the binky’s.  When the big girl was 13.5 months old, I successfully got her off my boobs.  Since she wasn’t bottle fed, the next step was to rid her of the pacifier.  That sucked, but we got it done.  Now that the little one has been on the bottle since she was 6 months old, we are way overdue to wean her.
I think it’s a general rule of thumb to get your baby off of a bottle when they can start to have milk at one year old, but I had tons of excuses lined up to avoid it.  I had the double mastectomy a month after her first birthday.  Then it was the holiday season and the craziness that comes with it, then family vacation, my next surgery, her surgery, and lastly, our “grown up” vacation.  

So last week, I bit the bullet.  My husband broke a wine glass while unloading the dishwasher and we made a big to-do out of cleaning every facet of each surface in the kitchen.  We were afraid a shard or two may have gotten in or around her clean bottles drying on the counter, so we told her we had to get rid of all of the bottles.  She was pissed when she couldn’t have her bottle in the afternoon or to fall asleep at night.  She wasn’t thrilled in the following days either, but she is getting used it and tells everyone that her “baba’s broken”.
I’m always shocked at how adaptable kids are.  I stress over every change I make to their routines and I’m always pleasantly surprised at how they handle it and how quickly they get used to something new. I shock myself sometimes, too, in the same regard.  You’d think that my own lack of nipples would have had more of an effect on me after having them for the 30 years prior.  Yet, I find myself debating whether or not I should get new nipples at all.  I’m already so accustomed to not having them.  I never have to worry about them inappropriately making an appearance, but then again, I don’t fill out the tips of my bras.  

No matter what I decide, my boobs will not look normal with these proud battle scars that run through their centers. I’m perfectly fine with that. So why add a decorative nipple? It won’t serve a purpose. It won’t feed a child or offer me any sensation. It might, instead, embarrass me or limit what I’m finally able to wear. I’m rarely one to take the path less taken, but in this instance, I just can’t decide if I want to replace the missing part. It won’t make me whole again, because I don’t feel broken. 

Summer Vacation

As a kid, summer vacation was hailed as the best time of year.  How many songs have they made about it?  “Summer Lovin'” from Grease, “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone; clearly, this is an age old sentiment.  As an adult, it can be a little different.  For my husband, the summer is typically spent in the cold confines of his air-conditioned office. He lives for the weekends of splashing in the pool with our girls.  48 hours out of a 65+ hour work week just doesn’t cut it. So, we have tried our best to make a grown up summer vacation happen almost every year.  If kids need a refreshing break from their responsibilities during the summer, so do adults.
With the tremendous help of my parents, my mother-in-law and several babysitters, my husband and I got a serious summer vacation last week.  We went to Spain with a group of friends and laid by the pool, explored new towns, ate amazing food and even went to Morocco for a day.  It was sensory overload in the best way and a much appreciated break from reality.
I won’t dive into the depths of my anxieties (of which there were many, shocker!) throughout the week.  To focus on them would taint the impeccable memories of everyone enjoying themselves and making it through the week unscathed.  As always, I feared that my girls wouldn’t be happy or safe without my watchful eye and motherly love; and as always, I’m proved wrong.  My surgeries and our summer vacations have helped show me how resilient they are and despite my constant concerns of the contrary, they are well-adjusted.  I haven’t fucked them up so far (pats on back). Hopefully, a summer vacation every year will keep us all looking forward to hitting the refresh button of life and teaching us lessons we could only learn by pushing the boundaries of fear and comfort.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Sometimes, I feel like a crazy person.  My everyday anxieties are at an all time high.  I keep hovering over the kids.  I have a pit in my stomach if I leave them with anyone, worried something will happen while I’m gone.  I don’t have a degree in psychology, but I’m almost certifiable.
I haven’t let it hold us back from doing things and I think I’ve been managing it fairly well, so far.  Until yesterday, I hadn’t really thought about the underlying reasons behind this recent uptick of insanity.  There was a tornado warning where we live and my mother and mother-in-law were texting me about it while I was doing errands and the kids were home with a babysitter.  I immediately turned the car around and tried to get home as quickly as possible (despite the fact that the warning had already expired by 30 minutes). (Side note: tornadoes are one of my biggest fears.  Snakes, tornadoes, and tsunamis… I know, it’s weird, but I’ve had recurring nightmares about all three since I was a child.  Actually, the tornado one is kind of cool.  The tornado, itself, bursts into flames and then starts dancing like the broom in the Disney classic, Fantasia. Talk about a vivid imagination.)
It occurred to me that perhaps this increased anxiety actually has something to do with the whole BRCA ordeal.  I’m in a lull of post and pre-op purgatory right now.  Having postponed my next surgery, I’ve lost my momentum.  Before, I felt strong like I was in the moment and facing adversity.  I just had to buck up and deal.  Now that I don’t really have to worry about such a major medical issue and the planning for myself and my family in preparation for another surgery, I’m at a weird crossroads.  All of the pent up anxiety seems to have been released and is now spreading its destruction like the tsunamis of my nightmares.  It’s trickling down to everyday things like running after my little one if she’s in my bathroom, wondering if she’s going to trip on a bath mat and land on the marble riser that separates the shower from the floor.  It’s never happened before, but I can picture it in unfortunate detail. I think it’s somewhat normal for all moms to play these scenarios of what-if’s in their heads, but at what point is it not normal?
I should probably consult a mental health professional, but I’m being a little lazy and very cheap about it.  I justify my nonsense by thinking that I’ve been through something pretty rattling in the past year.  It’s not like this is just typical stuff, but is it?  It seems like everyone has something crazy going on in their lives.  A loved one who is sick, a child who has issues, or a mortgage they can’t pay.  Stress is in everyone’s life. Managing it and its manifestations is the challenge we all face.

Artiste Amor

It is clear, even at such a young age, that my big girl is an artist.  Undoubtedly, she will have a love of the arts, forever.  It’s in her blood.  She’s a ballerina, a painter (well, a crayon-er right now), and I’m pretty sure she will be a musician.

When she was a baby, she would willingly give up her toys to other kids.  She was never fazed when another child grabbed something from her.  The only exception was if it was a musical instrument.  She would go ballistic if someone took her harmonica, her drum or her fake saxophone.  For her second birthday we got her a small acoustic guitar.  Subsequent birthdays and holidays have added to her collection: a ukelele, a banjo, a violin and several small pianos.  She is going to turn 4 next week and we decided instead of buying her more instruments, it was time to explore legit lessons.
I don’t want her to feel pressure to play, but I also see that those who are truly great at something have usually started at a young age.  Yo Yo Ma started playing the cello at age 4.  Tiger Woods was putting on TV with Bob Hope at 2 years old.  It is said that Mozart began composing when he was 5.  Clearly, she’s behind the ball here and we better get started (kidding, sort of).  
On Saturday morning, I took her to a music school that teaches the Suzuki method.  We observed two young violinists during their group lesson (they couldn’t have been more than 5 and 7 years old, respectively).  They were amazing and my big girl loved watching them.  I thought the lesson seemed boring, but she said she liked it.  
I’m torn, because I don’t think this method of teaching will intrigue my little creative soul.  It seems too rigid for her, but is this just conjecture on my part?  Am I letting my own feelings about the lesson we saw overshadow what might actually be interesting for her?  The lessons are a big commitment: monetarily, yes, but time and effort, as well.  The parents have to sit in on the twice weekly lessons and practice with the children at home.  This would mean I would have to find a babysitter for the little one during the lessons (that are at least a 20 minute drive from our house).  I want to encourage her as much as possible and give her the opportunity to explore this passion.  Yet, I feel a little guilty that perhaps I’m letting my future inconvenience (and my guilt over leaving the little one) play a part in this decision.  But then again, aren’t a lot of worthwhile activities in life a bit of an inconvenience?  That’s a lesson I have definitely learned in the past year. Her life may be fuller if we go out of our way now, and I just have to take that chance.