Proud Mom of a Strong Girl

Sometimes I tell my sometimes timid 2.5-year-old daughter, “You are a brave, strong girl who can do hard things.” Today while she was traversing a tricky part of an obstacle course, I heard her proudly say to herself, “I am a strong girl who can do hard things.”

Mountains of Mom Guilt

I have an 18-month-old daughter and just found out that I’m (unexpectedly) pregnant. Our daughter has significant feeding challenges, which means she basically breastfeeds like a newborn to get enough calories. Even with the 24/7 boob bar, she hasn’t been gaining weight well, and we’re in weekly feeding and occupational therapy.

Now that I’m pregnant, my supply is dropping, and I just feel so much guilt. Guilt that I no longer have the supply to support her already-challenged growth. Guilt that I don’t have the energy to give 100% to her therapy and “homework” between sessions. Guilt that soon my attention will be divided, when I feel like my daughter still needs me so much. Guilt that birth control failed (side note: why do I feel like this is my guilt to carry?? Add to my list of things to discuss in therapy lol). And mostly, guilt that I’m not excited to be pregnant. I know so many women who are struggling with fertility or have recently had miscarriages. But I just can’t get excited about this baby yet, or how it’s going to affect my daughter and change the tenuous balance we’ve found after a difficult infancy. All the social media posts about leaving behind “mom guilt” couldn’t have prepared me for the weight of this.

Kinder Kids

My two older kids were constantly fighting over the break but attracted to each other like magnets. We’ve tried sticker charts in the past, but that’s so much work for parents and usually fizzled out after a few days. Instead I invented “kindness points,” where I can assign them for anything I deem as kind, e.g. listening the first time, remembering to do chores with no complaining, problem-solving arguments, etc.

They work together to achieve 20 points, which means even if one is having an off day, the other one can help them reach toward their goal. This forces them to work together instead of competing toward individual goals where one sibling inevitably feels like “the bad one.” They can cash in 20 points for 10 more minutes at the park, a short TV show, etc. This has worked for months and usually makes the rest of the day go so much more smoothly, as they are in the habit of just being kind. Big win!

This week’s reader question

We suspect that our 3-year-old son is autistic, and through this process I suspect that I am too. I missed several of the early signs because my parents kept saying, “Aww, you did the same thing!” His day care director had to look me in the eye and say, “It’s not normal.” What I saw as signs that he is a shy genius, others saw as a problem. We have started the process to start occupational therapy to help with his social-emotional skills and are on several years-long waiting lists for autism specialists. I don’t know what to do. Any advice?