First of all, I promise all my posts aren’t going to be about my pregnancy the rest of the year, and I especially promise they won’t be about my struggle with being sick but I thought this one might be useful to some fellow parents out there….
Up until this summer, I was pretty strict with TV intake for my toddler. The first year of his life I would play music on youtube for him to listen to and dance with, but no TV. Around 18 months we started letting him watch about 20 minutes a day. I don’t think everyone needs to parent that way but I wanted to make sure we were getting out of the house as much as possible and not having TV as part of our regular routine. I joked that this was in anticipation of if I got pregnant again and was sick because then he’d watch ALL the TV then to make up for how strict I was before. Well… maybe I shouldn’t have been so glib. Thanks to my extreme morning sickness, the past couple months have included a generous amount of Elmo, Curious George, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s hard to encourage getting out of the house when I physically can’t get out of the house.
I keep waiting to really feel like myself again, to walk into the kitchen without having to run out immediately. My little boy has lived on graham crackers, dry cereal, and fruit I could throw on his tray and run away from for the last few months… thank God his dad gave him some substantial food each day. I already wrote about the personal challenges and opportunities this pregnancy has brought… but the biggest challenge has been my poor stir crazy son who misses our trips out, be it to the grocery store or the children’s museum or wandering the aisles of Target. I have felt guilty that in some of our last months with tons of time together just he and I, before another family member arrives, I have been no fun and barely able to move some days. The guilt eases a bit when I remind myself that this is something out of my control and also when I look at a few of the blessings it’s given us:
*Snuggle times. My son is SUPER physical and love to be active. But with mom out of commission- he started snuggling up more and cuddling with me when I was feeling awful. The amount of empathy in my 2 year old continually shocks me. He throws tantrums like any other toddler, but he is so acutely tuned into the emotions in a room. That empathy has led to a lot of snuggles we would not have had otherwise. Snuggles I cherish because I know as he grows they will become less and less frequent.
*SO MUCH READING. You know what you can do while sitting down? Read. There are some days we just sat and read books together for over an hour because it was all I could do with him. And that is awesome. I am such a fan of early literacy endeavors and have a passion for reading that I hope to pass on to my son. And that much concentrated reading time would never happen if I was feeling well because I would be taking care of the house or getting ready for dinner or trying to get any other number of items on my to do list checked off. This was such a sweet, rewarding time to bond together over the joy of books.
*Creativity to the max. I wrote about creating new crayons a few posts ago. I mentioned part of the drive behind that was not wanting to go to the store but the truth was I was way too sick to drive to the store. This is not the only time being so sick has forced me to get creative. Coming up with games I could play from the couch or the bathroom floor or a bed definitely challenged my creativity, and having to play solo for long spans of time probably challenged my son’s creativity as well. Who’d have thought playing in a bathtub with no water could provide an hour of entertainment?!
*A new love for Pandora. Dance parties courtesy of the Disney music station (or the Hamilton station) seriously saved the mood of many days. It’s hard to be bitter about all you are missing out on when you have the most adorable child shaking his booty to the Tiki Room or songs from Tarzan or running around the room like a maniac to the Battle of Yorktown.
I hope none of you ever have to experience parenting while exhausted, dehydrated, and nauseated for months… but if you do, maybe some of these ideas can help. Maybe they can even help during much shorter bouts of illness. And above all, give yourself some grace!