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Archive for the ‘Family in Transition’ Category

We recently transitioned The Littlest E from his toddler bed to a big boy bed. He was so excited to be in his new sleeping environment with much more room. Confession: we probably kept him in the toddler bed for too long as his feet were close to touching the end. Silly parents, but we wanted to wait until we knew for sure he wasn’t having nighttime accidents.

Big Boy Bed

Our big boy was over the moon with his new mattress, bed and soft, soft sheets. Plus, he had a real blanket, not a toddler/baby blanket – many comfy nights’ sleep to look forward to. My friend, Cindi, recommended putting pillows at the sides of the bed at bedtime in case my sleeping son fell out. Tom and I thought for sure that wouldn’t happen. Well, guess what? A couple of nights into the new bed and, of course, he fell out. Lesson learned, listen to your friends who have older children and have been through this before.

With the new bed came a clearing out of other things.  Over the almost 4 years since we adopted The Littlest E, I’ve kept particular clothing and items of import. They’ve been in one of his dresser drawers and I decided it was time to put them in a box for safe keeping in our garage.

First Shoes

As I was going through the clothing, blankets and items we’d kept, I couldn’t help but have memories of everything. We’re definitely keeping the outfit he was wearing when he first met us, that day that’s forever embedded in my brain, the day we became a family and he saw us and reached out to me when I asked him in Amharic if I could hold him. There’s his first Halloween outfit, Mariner’s sweats, and Cal Bears onesie. There’s his Lovey, which he still uses, and the baby cell phone we took with us to Ethiopia, and we’re definitely keeping his first shoes, and favorite blankets, plus all his preschool artwork and other things we’ll treasure. Keepsakes we’ll save for him for when he’s older and look at every once in a while just to touch them and remember.

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Fun in the Toddler Bed

Right now, I’m waiting for the Baby2Baby person to come pick up a lot of furniture and other items we are donating, his crib/toddler bed and mattress, the changing table, his Learning Tower, a number of toys he’s too big for, the Little Tikes table he used for several years that he’s outgrown, his car seat, his stroller, blankets and sheets, and I can’t help but wonder, should we be keeping some of this stuff for the future for when The Littlest E is a dad? We have numerous keepsakes, and we’ll hold onto many books that we know will come in handy in years to come. What to keep and what to give away? Baby2Baby is such a great organization. Everything we donate to them will be given to families in need, who need it much more than we do, and who will create their own memories. Pass it on. We have a gazillion photos as well, though most of them are digital. It’s not the same thing, but it’s a sensory memory.

Fun with Rody

Must confess again, I’m a bit weepy saying goodbye to everything. All parents go through this, right? It’s the passing of time, transitions. It happens, and it’s going to continue to happen. Our son has grown close to 3 inches in the past 8 months; he’s getting so big and growing so much inside, too! New clothes, new toys, new books, new adventures, new fads, these are all things to look forward to. In our kitchen, there’s a space where his Learning Tower used to be. It looks empty, but soon a doggie dish and water dish will occupy that space. The Littlest E is starting Pre-K at his preschool in a few weeks, so that’ll be new, too. This is part of what makes parenting special and life-changing, watching the little love of my life get older, learn and grow, become a person with thoughts and opinions, dreams and hopes, skills and talents. It really makes life worth living, living it to its fullest. So, goodbye to the old and welcome the new!

Images: Melanie Elliott

©2014 Melanie Elliott

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In the past couple of months, I’ve blogged about adopting our son, being a new mom and the mom of a toddler, as well as blogging about firsts that have come my way.  This blog deals with preschool.  Since the Littlest E starts preschool this week, it’s only fitting to write about practical and emotional preparation.

I heard or read somewhere that it’s best if your toddler is familiar with the preschool surroundings prior to attending.  Once we found my son’s preschool 8 months back, we signed up for their toddler & me class and took it until he graduated from the program.  When he starts school, he’s already accustomed to the environment.  Plus, one of his teachers also taught him in that class, which will aid in his transition.

The school gave us a list of things for The Littlest E to have with him (to go in his cubby hole), a gallon plastic bag filled with an extra pair of shoes, extra clothes, and sunscreen.  They recommended labeling EVERYTHING (clothing, shoes, lunchbox, etc.).  There are many different label companies out there.  We found one that laminates the labels to make them last longer.  The school suggested we contribute to their diaper supply given that The Littlest E is not yet potty trained.  As for lunchboxes, I found the cutest insulated lunch bag for him at Toys R Us, a Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies Insulated Lunch Bag that looks like an elephant, which is his favorite animal!

The logistics of getting ready for preschool are a slam-dunk; it’s the emotional part that is immense.   I know my son is only 2 years old and his class is only 2 days a week, 3 hours each day, but this is kind of a big deal.  My head is filled with many thoughts and questions.  Will he like preschool?  Will he be okay with me leaving?  Will I be okay with me leaving?  The last thing I want to be is a parent who lingers and interferes with my son’s growth.

One of the many things I do as a parent is love, nurture and guide my son and also, in the healthiest way possible, teach him how to be an independent person.  As my husband says (and I believe), “We need to give him the tools to make his way in the world and to explore it on his own.”  Preschool is just the tip of a multi-faceted iceberg.  It’s the start of his independence, and his being around other toddlers without Mommy or Daddy.  It’s also the beginning of his official education and, God willing, he’ll be in school for the next 20 years (now that’s a thought).

For his first day, the teachers want all parents to stay for the entire 3 hours, but not engage in any way with our children.  I need to let him go, let him be, and let him have his own experience.  I’m bringing ample reading material to keep myself occupied.  My hope is he’ll have so much fun that, by his next class, he’ll look at me like “what, you’re still here?” and I’ll be able to leave without issue.

What will be hard for me is not really knowing about his day from his perspective, as he doesn’t have the words yet to fully express himself.  The school has given us a list of helpful questions to ask, but we’ll probably get yeses and nos as answers for the time being.  I will have to go with what the teachers tell me and be at ease in the not knowing until he’s a bit older and is talking more.  Practice the art of trusting and letting go.

It’s an exciting time for our family and I get teary eyed at the thought of my son starting this new adventure.  It seems like a moment ago that we brought him home with us from Ethiopia, and now he’s starting preschool.  Savor the drop offs and pick ups, the artwork that is brought home, the excitement in his eyes and non-stop babbling after having had a wonderful day because I know in the blink of an eye, he’ll be going off to college.

Image: Apreche (Scott Rubin)

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In my last blog, I wrote about the loneliness that came with being a new mom.  In this blog I’d like to focus on the massive transition it was to go from being in the work force for nearly 30 years, to becoming a stay-at-home mom at the age of 45, and what helped me through the transition.

Over the years when I was working, I had several jobs: waitress, comedy traffic school instructor, event producer, actor, legal assistant.  After my husband and I received the referral for our son, we discussed my staying home.  It had been a long journey to finally become parents, and, if possible, we wanted one of us to be there.  We didn’t want to miss a thing.  Since I was the one with the lower paying job, it was going to be me, if it happened.

Could I handle being a SAHM?  I had been at the same job, as a legal assistant, for over 9 years, loved my boss and the people I saw everyday.  Would I like being home after working so many years?  It wasn’t until we brought The Littlest E home from Ethiopia, that we made our decision.

Being Mom to The Littlest E is the best and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and the most difficult.  The adjustment going from working full time, to motherhood full time was profound.  There was the intensity and uncertainty of everything that went with being a new mom.  I was overloaded, thrilled, exhausted and elated altogether.

Everyday I give our little guy the love, care and nurturing he needs.  I am a steward, guide and teacher for him.  That part of being a mom I cherished.  It was the running of the household stuff that bothered me.  The deal my hubby and I made if we wanted to all eat together every night, was that I was responsible for cooking the meals.

In a short time, I began to resent having to plan and make the meals, do the dishes, laundry, clean, pay the bills – you get the idea.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a true partner and does his share of the work, but this was a big learning curve for me.  There was a side of me that selfishly didn’t want to do the work.  It felt like it was all too much.

I was talking with my mom about my “resentments” and we started joking about giving myself a title.  I thought, why not?  So, my title, along with mom, became Executive Director of the Elliott Family Residence.  I actually posted that as my job on Facebook.  Suddenly, having this silly title made me step up to the plate with my non-mom responsibilities.  In my work life, I always expanded each position, so why not do the same here?  I started to relish looking up recipes and balancing our checkbook.  I do get overwhelmed at times, but know that it goes with the territory.  My husband also helps out when I’m stressed.

Maybe it’s strange to give myself a title, yet I enjoy everything so much more.  I still can’t believe I ask my husband things like, “Honey, is there anything you haven’t eaten recently that you want?” when making the weekly shopping list, but I do, and giggle as I say it.  Life is good.  I’m a mom, and loving every minute of it, and I’m the Executive Director of our home, a job I’ve grown to treasure.

Image: Average Jane

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