I bought my son a baby doll…and it’s rocking my own sense of identity

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he picked dolly out and wouldn’t let her go

My hunt for weather-appropriate clothes (on sale) at Fred Meyer left me wandering dejectedly through the toy aisles. I thought that I might come across something fun to add to the collection (because Scrummy has chewed up a few of the play foods that I bought most recently), and Potamus got really excited in the cart and pointed at the dollies. I picked one up and asked, “do you want this?” and his response was a very definitive “YEAH,” and he hugged her tight (yes, I’m associating a female gender to the doll because she’s dressed in pink. Sue me). Fortunately Dolly was only $2.99 because some dolls are really expensive and I didn’t feel like shelling out $20 for an experimental toy (not knowing if his definitive ‘yeah’ meant ‘YEAH’ or he was just excited in the moment, like he does with snack-time). But Dolly, as we’ve named her, has been a permanent fixture in our house for 30 hours now.

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I know the psychological benefits of boys playing pretend with dolls and other ‘typical girl’ toys like play food and stuffed animals. I read blogs where boys have long hair, or play with dolls, or wear skirts to Home Depot with their dads. I loved that he picked this toy on his own, and has been so lovingly attentive to her. He’s pretended to feed her, wants help wrapping her in a swaddle, and has laid her in a little box for a bed. He snuggled with her all last night, even when he came into our bed. I think it’s so sweet to see him holding her so lovingly while watching TV or eating dinner.

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So, with all of this sweet happiness that I’m feeling in my gut when I look at this innocent little boy with his dolly, do I feel a little twang or twinge after today’s outing to KidsQuest? While nothing was said overtly, I did notice that people noticed…if that makes sense. Most of the moms I encountered seemed to have a wistful ‘awe, how sweet’ look on their face. And dads seemed to be thinking ‘is that a boy carrying a doll?’ though I wouldn’t say their looks were judgmental or hostile, but more…surprised? And then there was the older restuarant worker who almost fell over his own feet staring at Potamus and Dolly while getting back to his shift. He was smiling, but also seemed…perplexed?

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Now, I don’t want to be over-analyzing every little experience we have in the future. Because I can’t read minds, and these people could certainly just have been admiring my adorable son, rather than thinking about the fact that he’s carrying a baby doll. After all, if I notice this, then maybe it’s because I feel uncomfortable? Why am I letting my son carry a doll? Is it some political statement? Is it my way of rebelling and giving the gender stereotype marketing a big eff-you finger? Or is it because he so sweetly asked for it and seems to love it more than he’s loved any other toy?

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Potamus and Dolly eating some lunch at Panera.

Have you let your son/daughter play with ‘opposite gender’ toys? How did it make you feel? How did it make you feel in public when your child wasn’t ‘gender conforming’ for any reason?

Enough love to go around? YES. Enough patience? Now that’s the real question…

Google Image Search: expanding a family

We’re thinking of having another baby.

Gulp.

There, I said it, and didn’t put any fluffiness around it like, ‘expanding our family,’ or some such nonesense. No, we’re talking about trying to get knocked up…sometime this summer, hopefully, to coincide with my teaching schedule next year. While best laid plans don’t always go how we want (Potamus was an oopsie 3 months early), we’re going to at least TRY. But the whole ordeal is giving me major anxiety, because I’m struggling in so many ways AS IT IS, that it seems ridiculous to think about bringing another child into my world of wacky.

Now, don’t get me wrong, half of what I write about is my own perspective of the crazy, because Boof looks at me and says, “you’re a good mom,” and from someone who’s stingy with compliments, I know he means it. It means I’m probably a pretty good mom, to one kid, most of the time. But I wonder…how will that look if we add another munchkin into the mix?

So here are a few things that I’ve been mulling over, and talked with Boof about last night:

1. I want a daughter VS I want a sibling for Potamus

I know that most people are all about “oh, I want a happy healthy baby,” but I really would like a daughter. I don’t know why…maybe karmic replay of the relationship of my mom/me or my birthmom/me? Perhaps? Maybe I have fantasies about her being just like me and me getting to see myself growing up before my eyes and can provide a way for her to feel safe and nurtured and not like the epic weirdo. I see the relationships that my MIL has with my SILs and think, “hmm, that could be me someday.” Or maybe I think that pink onesies and Easter outfits and ballet slippers are SO FREAKING ADORABLE that they’re messing with my head. I want to be a mom of a son and a daughter.

Boof wants a sibling for Potamus.

Well, technically he wants a sister for Potamus.

While he admits he wants a girl, a daughter, he’s more selfless in wanting that sibling for our son. I think that having another child will be a potential side-perk for our son, but really, it’s because I want to have a daughter and a son, like I mention above.

Does wanting a daughter, rather than wanting a “healthy baby” make me sound like a horrible person?

2. Fear

I’m afraid of many things. Before we had Potamus I worried about being a mom and having energy, and now I see that I worried almost needlessly. I’m a pretty good mom. And Boof’s a pretty good dad. And we have a pretty good kid. Our life is lovely, right now, and I worry that the fear of adding another is clouding my ability to simply enjoy the moment as a family of 3 + dog. I also worry about #1 and think…if I had a son, I know I’d love him to bits, but I am afraid of being a mom of two sons. Two boys. Two boys + a husband. Two boys + a husband + a male dog. For a woman with a bent toward the masculine, anyway, that image makes me feel both exhilerated at¬†the¬†thought (YAY ROUGH AND TUMBLE, BOY STEREOTYPES!) and also push me into the opposite (there’s a reason I’ve showered and worn mascara every day since Potamus was born…I need to feel other like a mother and that, in my mind, is feminine and homemakery).

3. Love. Patience. & other Parenting things that freak me out…

I know I’m a mom, but the older Potamus gets, the more I feel like myself again…aka that introvert who loves sipping coffee and reading on the couch. I’ve gotten some time in the past week to do that and it feels SO GOOD. I worry that bringing another life into our family will mean holding off on all of those things, AGAIN, and that seems sad. And yet, on the other hand, really? Am I really thinking about not having a kid because I want to read some books? I mean, come on Monk-Monk, that’s just silly.

But there’s something, in my head, about being a mom of one that seems less threatening than being a mom of two. One kid you can reason with. Two means being pulled in two different directions. Twice as much mess and playdates and sporting events. That seems like twice as much work and cutting me in half, leaving how much for…me? Selfish, sure, but a worry I have.

The love, though, is something I’m not worried about (but previously was). We were laying there talking and it blurted out, “I’m not worried about there not being enough love to go around, but enough patience to go around.”

Patience is not really my strong suit. I hate waiting, which is why WAITING to even get pregnant is driving me insanse. I’d rather plunge into the unknown, otherwise I sit in a puddle of anxiety. But seriously, when we say my “patience is wearing thin,” I think of life with two kids. Does patience, like love, expand to fit when more enter the family brood? Is patience a finite resource that I might use up the day before our new potential new baby enters the scene?

I realize that my impatience is the space between what I want to have happen and what is actually happening, so I wonder if I dial back my expectations and give up the idea that sleep is important, that my patience will expand to meet the demand? I don’t know, I worry about that, though.

For all of you two+ families, how did you make the decision to add to your brood? What were your fears? For those of you in a similar place or having decided “one’s enough, thanks”, what prompted you to make that decision?

Breastfeeding a Toddler

extended breastfeeding

Potamus is 14 months old, and I have crossed over into the extended breastfeeding camp, surpassing my original 12 month goal. While exhausted some nights, wishing Boof could take over for all of the parenting duties, I am mostly really pleased with still following the baby-led weaning philosophy. While we’ve been weaned during the day for many months now, I have noticed this super flexibility in our breastfeeding relationship that doesn’t feel like the urgent nurse-on-demand offering from when he was small and I was worried about it going okay, and the rigorous every two hours all night nursings that accompanied the back-to-work-forced-day-weaning that happened when he reverse cycled and refused a bottle.

This flexibility has become more of a relaxed state of mind in this stage of the journey. We were day-weaned, which is what I felt comfortable with as a mom of a year-old baby/toddler. Night nursing only would involve the two of us (plus Boof), and nobody would really need to be bothered by the nursing of an older child. It kept mama happy and baby happy. He’s finally learned the art of the sippy cup, but still only drinks water and prefers yogurt over milk.

But there have been some times lately, like with Potamus not feeling well, that I offer the breast to him. It’s after I get home from work, or when he wakes up from a nap, or on my days off, when I am trying to put him down for a nap. And he has even begun to ask for it in his own way (and by ask I mean, just help himself), like when we’re in the shower together. We’re happily playing with the foam bath shapes, sticking them to the wall and he looks over at me, surveys the goods, and then dives in to boobie #1. Squatting like a little frog-man, he fully nurses and then goes back to happily playing with his toys.

What I love is those little snuggle moments. Like after his nap, when he’s rested but still sad to come back to reality from dreamland, and nestles on up to me, tears still in his eyes, and gets a little comfort. Sometimes playing with toys works, sometimes listening to some really bad 90’s music works, and sometimes he just needs a little nursing snack (as we call it), to feel grounded.

We’ve settled into this easy baby-led weaning place, and I love it. My snuggly, wiggly, big baby still needs me, and I am happy to oblige.

Daycare/School Day #1

I managed to wait unti 3pm to call and check-in on Potamus at daycare/school. Boof called at 10:30 and gave me a text report that eased my mind enough to get back to my crazy first-day-back-to-work. Why the college decided to have the first day back to work be the first day that students start class, too, is beyond me. But hey, we’re surviving!

Daycare Day 1

When I went to pick him up he seemed surprised, but was happily munching on cheerios in his high chair. He didn’t seem abnormally clingy, and didn’t protest when I nursed him and then popped him in the carseat for our ride home. Once home we played and he seemed SO happy, even “Bollywood” dancing in his bedroom and reading lots of stories. I’m hoping that school is a good place for my extroverted little chap!

And I didn’t cry. I am sure he’ll have cranky sad days, but overall it made me feel so good that he was only sad for about 15 minutes in the morning, and did amazing at naptime (2.5 hours on his mat!). Go Potamus!