The Middle Wife

The Birth Story through the eyes of a 7 year old

The ‘Middle Wife’ by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they’re welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. ‘This is Luke, my baby brother, and I’m going to tell you about his birthday.’

‘First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom’s stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.’

She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

‘Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts going, ‘Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!’ Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. ‘She walked around the house for, like an hour, ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

‘My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.’ (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

‘And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!’ (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

‘Then the middle wife starts saying ‘push, push,’ and ‘breathe, breathe.
They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom’s play-center, so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there in the first place.’

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat.

I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it’s Show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another ‘Middle Wife’ comes along.

The Battles Begin!

Wait, what happened!

This tiny little human has a mind of its own!

And very soon the battles begin….

“You love your child and value your child’s progress. That’s wonderful and important. And I know that sometimes its easy to get single-mindedly caught up in achieving a particular milestone with your child. In your pursuit of your child’s progress, though, it is essential to temporarily relinquish any goal as soon as it causes a control battle with your child. In fact, control battles are one of the most disabling dealings you can have with your child. You want to avoid them whenever possible (except when safety is involved, of course.)” (Kaufman pg.133)

“WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE! I’M THE BOSS AND IF I GIVE IN WHEN MY CHILD WANTS HIS OWN WAY AND TURNS TO MONSTER MODE, I RELINQUISH MY AUTHORITY AND CONTROL AS A PARENT! THAT IS NOT ONLY SCARY, BUT IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! “

But what you do not understand is that when you are controlling you GIVE UP your control automatically anyway. 

Think about this…in your own life:

“When people…are in the throes of an experience where they don’t have control, don’t have understanding, and have too much input to process, [as all humans feel] they react in very particular ways. They put everything they have into gaining a sense of control. They seek out situations where they can exert their own autonomy, rather than having their experience dictated to them. And they powerfully resist any efforts to impose control upon them.” pg. 134

It is amazing that children have an innate fighting instinct to recognize when they feel threatened and out of control in a given situation and FIGHT to regain it no matter how big and powerful the opponent is. Even when we are taking about a tiny being who may not  walk or even talk yet,  and do not have a mature understanding of what they are doing.

“Think of a rope with a knot in it. I am holding fast to one end and you to the other. The harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets—’cause I ain’t letting go. You can never release the knot by pulling harder. The only way to release the knot is to let the rope go so that there is enough slack in it for the knot to loosen.”

“The key to understand is this: if you want your child to be less controlling (and thus more flexible and able to learn more, grow more, and ultimately achieve more goals), you have to give your child as much control as possible.”

“Most people’s first response when dealing with a controlling child is to try to “break” the child of his controlling behavior by wresting [forcing] control back from him.

Example: “YOU WILL EAT THIS OR ELSE! SIT THERE UNTIL IT IS ALL EATEN! I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT!” (And the child sits there and won’t eat…because you forced them to sit there.)

“Some of you might think: To function in the world, my child has to get used to doing things the right way, so I have to get him to do this particular thing the correct way now.”

“For others of you, the situation may be more in-the-moment  pragmatic. You might think: I just have to get my child to brush his teeth (for example), and we’ll be done. I know he’s fighting me now, but soon it will be over, and it will be worth it because he’ll have clean teeth.”

“If either of these scenarios resonates with you, it’s not only normal, it is totally understandable. You love your child,….but you have a million things you are juggling at once, and sometimes you may just be trying to get through your day.”

The problem is that going down this road with your child will end up being highly counterproductive. Asserting control over someone who is controlling leads to the person becoming more controlling, not less. You see, when your child’s control is challenged, he will feel compelled to dig his heels in and fight to reestablish control and personal autonomy.

But you see what happens is that “as you address the issue…you compromise interaction and learning long-term because you get a child who is not only more controlling but also associates learning or doing something that you want with coercion and unpleasantness.” pg. 136

The interaction between you and your child in this situation now loses harmony and the action you are both trying to control becomes contentious and negative. And when it happens over and over the control anger-meter rises, creating negative energy and unproductive growth. 

Oh they can be forced because you are bigger and stronger. But you will teach them by fear not trust and your actions will give them a very loud message. That they do not have control. Then other symptoms will appear…

anxiety

withdrawal

tantrums

delays

refusing even if they want something

This is not about allowing your child free reign without boundaries. This is not about not having them brush their teeth or sit at the table to eat. But it is about learning how to evaluate yourself as an adult and as a parent and to be the one who raises the white flag when the battle begins, because you are the more wiser of the opponents. It is about being attentive to why your child is trying to be in control because it is usually about being afraid, not understanding, not developmentally ready, or simply wanting more time. They are not trying to oppose you just to make you mad. They are telling you messages constantly with and without their words. Listen, look, empathize and give in or shape a situation to dissolve impending battles. Battles are counter productive in childhood. 

I promise you…

you will get better eaters-

better sleepers-

better and kinder players-

potty trained children-

better talkers-

children who do not bully or withdraw-

 a happier family atmosphere-

children who feel safe to grow and make decisions-

Don’t take my words or the words from the book quotes…

Try it and see for yourself….

Your life will change but mostly the life of your child who wants to feel she has control of her life too.

 

Raun K. Kaufmans. (2014)...The Groundbreaking Method that has Helped Families All Over the World. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so glad I do it wrong!

Self soothing is the newest fad for hipster and millennial parents’ bedtime rituals.

You read ‘how’ on your electronic device you surfed, “How to get my child to sleep before I go crazy!” from child sleep experts who have completed long term child studies.

You put your baby/child in a bed.

You hug and kiss them, close the door in the dark room,

and then…

they eventually go to sleep all by themselves.

They teach themselves self soothing strategies all by themselves! Millennial babies are intelligent.

No night light,

no timing to check on them after they have cried for 45 minutes..or was it 30 minutes? I can’t seem to remember the older text books…,

…no long drives to relax them or stop them from crying so loud,

absolutely no rocking chairs…no way!

Twenty first century new age children self soothe and that is the up-to-date parenting fad.

Mommies and daddies must get on to important grown up evening time.

I am a witness!! It’s incredible…

Parents have the evening for quiet relaxation, work, sex, and even chocolate.

Journal Entry: June 2017

Last night Luke covered his little eyes with his blue, brown and white soft blankets, letting me quietly whisper while massaging his fingers and counting them; one, two, three, four, five…then circling his palm and dot it in the middle… with a boop! I could feel his little body relax. To stay awake he would silently try to count his fingers on his own but then would hand me his hand. He plops his leg over my waist to scratch, but also to make sure I am still on the bed next to him; like a sort of seat belt to keep me strapped close. As he quiets, he holds my hand just to know I won’t leave and then he finally closes his eyes and succumbs to the sand man’s spell. I sing quietly while I listen to his breath in rhythm. It calms me as I lay still while next to him with his hand still holding mine tightly. Every single night and nap time, while mommy and daddy have been away, I have laid next to this three year old little man just as I did with every single one of my own babies, scratching their legs and arms while quietly talking about the day  or telling them stories as it changes to night. It was cozy time then and now. Time to create peace for them. Time to show them that calm can be part of their day. Time to show them that when night time comes, I am still close; still here.

This is not proper anymore. It is not teaching them how to fall asleep on their own. How to self soothe. I have done it wrong all these years. My babies don’t even remember, but I do! And, oh, as I now do it with my grandchildren, I think to myself,

‘I would not trade this moment for all the jewels in the world.’

Bless your self-soothed baby’s heart, who sits in a huge dark room in a bed cuddling a lovey for security all alone figuring out strategies to self soothe. They are champs.

I may be more tired than you as you make passionate love in the early evening, or eat your secret ice cream stash watching your favorite show earlier than me, but I am creating cozy with a child I adore. I am filling up a soul. And when I do it I not only give, but I get more back in return.

I’m so glad I do it wrong!

Oh my dears…I’m going to stay old fashioned forever.

 

 

I love number Five

Five is my favorite number.

I was born on a number five.

I have five treasures as my children.

In August I will have five grandchildren.

And my first grandchild turned five yesterday.

I love my number five!

This post is to honor my Trevor James.

A jewel was born in our family five years ago. He was the most beautiful baby; so quiet and content.  But we soon discovered that he was not reaching milestones that were “typical.” As he grew we noticed he separated himself in his mind and voice from our world and his actions often seemed like he was an island, but he is not. He actually longs for us to join him. He has unique gifts. He is a professional spinner and is a marvel.

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He communicates through energy or actions but not with words. His spirit is powerful and strong even though it sits inside a frail little body. God made him exactly right for a purpose. I believe he is a spiritual icon; a sort of earth angel, which gives a message to us as offered to either tap into or pass by. Many rush past or ignore. It takes an effort to be with him but the time is a gift. When I am with him I feel at home from a place deep inside. When I am away, I miss him and the spiritual energy that flows from him that seems to quench a thirst that I can’t get filled anywhere else. I have learned a great deal over the past five years from this little boy. He makes me better.  Life gives us wonderful surprises and I never realized how rich learning and growing with an autist could be.

Happy Birthday Trev Man.

Grammy is  your best buddy forever!

I know you know I love  you and that you love me back…

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The Giggle Box

It’s in the bag of goodies that comes with babies.

Did you check?

It’s right next to “The Mother Book.”

Oh, well, that’s okay. I’m sure you will find it.

It just has those bullet point reminders how and when to laugh with childhood,

not at it.

Because having a child is so hard and silly and stressful you just have to fall down laughing at all the things you will experience.

Nothing will bring you more stomach aches with worry

but also more joy

than living with that little thing

called your very own child;

and the instructions inside that giggle box.

Laugh together in love…your whole life!

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Cry Baby!

Fact: When you are in the biggest hurry, the most tired or hungry, or in a must-do-at-this-time circumstance is when your child will have that HORRID meltdown moment.

 It’s a given!

Have you ever heard anyone at the park or grocery store; or perhaps from your own mouth say, “Stop acting like a baby!” or “Stop being a cry baby!” or “Act your age!”

Well, guess what….

They are acting their age, they are a baby, and cry baby is actually a part of their recipe. It’s us that usually begins to regress when this happens.

It’s because we are so stinkin’ tired!

Being around children is for the brave at heart! Especially the ones who do it full time.

Yes, we love our own to pieces. But for heaven’s-sakes, it’s like that cake analogy, (big sigh inserted) an adult needs to have a break. A BIG break. Especially at these times.

Classy parents, I have witnessed acting unnaturally calm during these hellish tantruming moments, have acquired some kind of magic potion that whisks them off to a mental Caribbean Island as they “handle” their little tyke with calm and ease. It’s impressive.

I especially love the ones who are coyly asking to see if anyone wants a screaming child, for cheap as they walk out of the store.

Children are still considered children way past high school because of continuing brain growth and emotional development . So when you complain to your any age child they are being a cry baby, or acting like a baby it is their right. They are not adults. They can’t even think like one yet, even though we expect them to. And one really important thing to know is that crying is actually psychologically healthy; even for adults…

And name calling, well it is just going to hurt your child’s soul.

Plan ahead how you will act. 

  1. Count to ten fast over and over.

  2. Find a really goofy song and keep singing it to yourself. I love the chorus from “Sha-poopy” from the musical The Music Man.

  3. If you can leave your child to tantrum alone for a few moments, do it.

  4. When you feel the adrenaline build up grab something hard and squeeze it until your hands hurt and breathe slowly but do NOT shake your child.

  5. Keep that sense of humor. It will save your life with children.

  6. Hand your child to your partner and take a recess.

  7. Say NO gently but firmly and then stay silent and let your child have boundaries. Stick to your NO! Do not keep negotiating!!!!!!! 

  8. Tell them it is okay to cry it out but don’t give in. And give them boundaries so they do not hurt themselves or someone else.

  9. You will laugh but tantrumers hate it when you mimic them. They usually stop because they can see and hear what they are doing by looking at you. Scream and yell just like they are.

  10. Try whispering. Don’t yell. Even though it is the first response. It just builds the negative energy momentum like a pressure cooker of steam that is going to blow. That is why singing is good because it replaces that yell that is welling up in your throat ready to blast. Sing it baby!

 

A Piece of Cake

You’re home with baby.

The first 24 hours go

pretty smoothly.

(phew!)

You think, “Hey, I’ve got this parenting thing…”

Around the 96th hour.

(maybe even before)

reality hits.

You are now thinking,

‘I’m beat and I’m done!’

Here is my philosophy:

Time with your child

is similar

to eating a delicious, gooey, rich, most dreamy piece

of chocolate cake.

Chocolate cake

Each bite makes your taste buds dance and it melts in your mouth.

 Yummmm…

You are so happy.

That is until

you start getting sick of it.

Piece of Chocolate Cake

That most delicious cake is now making you feel tired, and monotonous, and…

well, too much of a good thing.

(Not me! I am never sick of my baby like that!)

(Well, keep on eating, then….)

The rest of us do become sick of the very important child-time

(The chocolate cake)

and reach ultimate and complete torture-inflicted exhaustion.

It is NORMAL!

There has got to be a few breaks from such gooey sticky goodness.

You are not alone in this.

And this is really key

because this could lead

to making some really bad or scary choices

because you were too tired or too sick IN the moment. (Way too much cake!)

Take that break!

You need to search out when you are not tired, support when you become too tired and need that break.

Your child needs your best self.

Not someone who becomes irrational or frightening because they have reached their limit and breaking point.

Remember, too much cake gets tiring to eat.

It’s the same with exhaustion with your sweet baby…