I feel like I give myself a really hard time about how much we interact. Some days its seems like it isn't much, even though we'll have been together all day. Between time playing with other kids, in the car, getting ready, eating meals, or watching TV its like most of the day is gone. I'm trying not to get too down on myself about it though. First of all, where she is getting more independent and determined in her ideas about what she wants to do, she doesn't need to interact with me as often anymore. She can entertain herself with her own ideas of what she wants to do. (Of course, the times she chooses to be independent are when I'm ready to play and when she needs me to walk her around by the hand are when I'm exhausted). Second, when William arrives, she is going to have to get used to my time being divided. One of the big things is wanting to walk us somewhere by the hand. Once she has that in her head, she will fight for our hands and pull until she falls over. Its very sad and makes you feel like a jerk. I try to not give in because I won't be able to give in when nursing William, for example, but its so hard. I feel like she isn't learning a lesson from it.
I think some of this feeling is coming from my not having a lot of adults to interact with. We almost never spend time with other adults as a couple, unless its visiting my family. I get out with other adults alone very rarely, particularly in comparison to a working mom who sees adults the majority of the day. Then, when I'm with Natalie, until recently, most of my time wasn't spent with other adults, even if they were around. But now, I'm starting to want to spend more time talking with other moms as I start to build relationships with these women. Needing to check on Natalie or go carry her off somewhere in the middle of a conversation makes this difficult. I guess part of my frustration is that I feel she should be able to go run off without me, because other kids do and because I've seen her do it plenty of times. Another part of the problem is that I have a hard time weighing my conversation with another mom higher than meeting her needs.
I feel like getting out of the house when William comes is going to be very important to us maintaining some order and making the day not seem endless. But I also feel like balancing William's needs alone with this current neediness of Natalie's will end any adult contact I get during these outings, just at a time when I will probably need that the most. I hope that going about or regular routine will instead excite Natalie that she can go to these familiar places with familiar people, instead of making her cling to me like she has been doing recently at the library.
We went down to my parents' for Father's Day. My parents and brother watched her while Mike and I went to see Super 8. We really liked the movie, which we were sure we would. Natalie was very good, mostly because she watched movies the whole time we were gone (about three hours). This good, but at the same time, she can't just watch TV the whole time my parents watch her while I'm in the hospital. Not only will she eventually get bored, but its not good for her and will possibly set up a bad pattern I'll need to break when I do get home. I gave my parents a 14 page write up of stuff about how we run things around here. I know that sounds really crazy, but my mother wanted directions for all the appliances and such, and I included more than a page on where to find everything in our house. So, it wasn't all about Natalie. It makes me feel good knowing its all written down for them in case they need or want it. Also, knowing that I could be gone three days or six days or even longer if there was (God forbid) some kind of serious problem, its comforting to know they have extra information. If they are alone with her all day for only three days, maybe they won't want to venture out much, but after a week both they and Natalie will start to go crazy.
On Father's Day, we brought Natalie to a park near our old high school. We were there for over an hour. She really loved swinging with Mike, sitting in his lap. She also had a lot of other kids come and go that she got to interact with. That afternoon, Mike took her in our pool. It was a little cold he said, but it was the first swim for both of them for the season. She had a great time. Even though her swim lessons were a bit of hassle and she didn't enjoy it fully, they really did help her have a love for the water. She gets excited about the pool and remembers most of the stuff we did in class. She likes to sing the songs during bath and "wash" her hair and face, put in her chin, and kick her feet. Also on Father's Day, Natalie got to explore my parents' backyard some, which is a lot more garden than it was when we were kids. She mostly played with his water cans and got fairly wet, but not enough to change clothes.
We went to the park again this morning with our neighbors before going to story time. Its funny how their daughter is a little younger than Natalie, but she goes up on the equipment all alone. She is more adventurous and more physical than Natalie. Some of it I think is the parenting. Where she has spent a lot of time with a pack of kids who are watched by several different adults, they just aren't as concerned about her falling off and such. I can't help it though. I'm far too worried she will run or fall off an opening and fall like six feet to the ground. Also, Natalie is in that hand holding phase, so it isn't much of an option to let her play up there alone.
At story time, my two sets of neighbors met. We are talking about starting a Music Together class. It sounds like it might be on Wednesday mornings, which is perfect for us. None of our kids wanted to stay in story time today. I'm not sure what happened with the oldest girl, but Natalie and my other neighbor's daughter wandered out since the door was left open. I felt a little bad because the librarian reminded everyone at the beginning that if a kid is having a bad day (or in other words is throwing a fit) that we should take them out. I feel like with the way Natalie has been somewhat recently there would be no point in even coming then. But, three out of the last five story times our regular librarian hasn't been there. That change in the routine could be part of her grumpiness. Each substitute did things a little differently, including how they set up the room. I just feel like its worth it to make the effort to stay if we've bothered to come. And, sometimes she is being a pain because she just wants to go run around, and that isn't why we came. We came to listen to the stories or sing the songs, depending on what day it is. Letting her leave then lets her think that we can just go out and play whenever she wants. I understand that its a group activity so we need to think of the other kids, too, but the point in going is to actually be there for story time. Natalie leading me by the hand really is the worst at story time because its so crowded and often very hard to move around. I feel like I'm always almost stepping on someone or blocking some poor kids line of sight. Natalie is just at a tricky age where she kinda wants to sit on the floor alone or wander around the room with the other toddlers, but also wants me to be there with her. It has just not been fun recently, which makes me so sad because I love going.
Today though, I didn't fight her leaving the room, especially since my other two neighbors were out of the room and I got to talk to them some. Natalie wound up playing with a Mr Potato head for a good ten minutes straight with a lot of concentration. I was very happy to see that because she hasn't been as interested in her toys at home recently, mostly because I think she is bored with them or they aren't stimulating for her anymore. We need more things that you take apart and put together like that, not legos or blocks per say though.
I don't know. I wonder if I'm too permissive with Natalie, letting her do and have what she wants to much and if that is going to be harder in the future. But I find it so hard to tell her no I won't listen to her right now. No I won't go look at something with her. No I won't get her something that is okay for her to have. At home, the only reason not to do these things is selfish reasons, such as I just don't feel like it. But maybe that is something we need to work on, her learning that Mike and I have needs as well. It drives me crazy when she needs or wants something and Mike just takes his time doing whatever he is doing before helping her. Usually there isn't a problem with her waiting, but when its just me and her alone all day I don't like to take the change of starting a chain of meltdowns, and I'm almost never doing something so important that it can't be come back to later.
Sigh. As much as she loves babies and is a good kid in general, William's arrival is going to be hard on her. I know she will get over it and learn to adjust, but I'm worried about me surviving until then.
A couple more quick things.
- I had a dream with William in it. I just finished reading Kira-Kira, in which the parents work in a hatchery. The description of the newly hatched chicks must have influence my nap. I dreamed of William as if he was newly hatched. It had that damp look baby chicks have versus the red, puffy look of a true newborn. He had dark hair and was bigger than a real newborn. I think that in the dream I was trying to nurse him, but having trouble adjusting back to a newborn with no body control. Still, despite its weirdness, it was a positive dream.
- At my parents house, prompted by a page in a book, Natalie gave everyone present a kiss, including my brother. (She can say his name, Ricky, though he likes the adults to call him Richard).
- Natalie has had three cases of very adorableness by using phrases with I. She said, Daddy, I naked running out of her room one night before bath. At the park, she had been snuggling with Mike on a swing for some time and I said she was snugly today. She said, I snuggle. Then yesterday, a couple minutes after I heard her start to stir from nap, she calls out, Momma, awake, Momma, I awake.