Mommy Lesson 2: A Good Cat to Copycat

"A few months ago, whenever we were with my parents I would randomly hear Jay call my mom “momma”. His words had just started to become more clear so I couldn’t tell if he was saying some variation of “grandma” or if he was really calling her “momma”. I would correct him and say “no, that’s grandma”. After several occasions, I have to admit, it started to make me a little sad. I didn’t want him calling anyone else mom. After all, I carried him in my belly looking like a large whale for 9 months, went through 40 hours of labor and lost countless hours of sleep when he was a newborn. I EARNED the title “momma” and I should be the only one he calls it! One day, I was upstairs at their house and wanted to ask my mom a question so I called out “Mom?” and what do you know, little Jay next to me says “MOMMA!” Finally, my question had been answered. He was simply copying what I said. A few months after that mystery had been solved I noticed it again, but with my husband. I would call out “Josiah” throughout the house. And just like before little Jay would call out “SIIIAHHH!” looking for his daddy. The only way I could seem to keep people’s names straight was to call them what I wanted Jay to call them. I’d start calling my mom “grandma” (or “mema” as he started calling her) and my husband “dad”. While a little strange at first, I realized I have a lot of influence over what comes out of his mouth and, to go a little deeper, how he acts. The game is called copycat and I need to be a good cat for him to copy. 

    I have experienced a lot of big revelations throughout my journey as a mom. The first came when I found out I was pregnant. Even though we were trying to get pregnant, when the stick showed a + sign, it just hit me. We. Are. Having. A. BABYNext one came when little Jay kicked my belly for the first time. We. Are. Growing. A.HUMANThen I had one at about 8.5 months pregnant, when our midwife told us our little Jay was going to be around 9 pounds at birth. He. Is. Coming. Out. Of. WHERE? When Jay was about a year old, I looked at him one day and just saw myself in his eyes, his nose, his personality. He. Was. MY. Baby. The most recent revelation came a a couple weeks ago. He sees AND hears. EVERYTHING! That revelation held a lot of pressure for me. I realized that when his Sunday School teacher gives me an update on his behavior it is shaped by the behavior I either encourage or discourage at home. I realized that when he plays sports when he's older and his coach describes his attitude after a lost game, it’s the attitude that I’m displaying or lacking at home. I realized that when he gets married and his wife talks about all the wonderful things she loves about him, it will be influenced by the love and respect he sees from his mom and dad’s marriage. What kind of behavior do I want him to have when I’m not there? What kind of man do I want him to grow up to be?

    As parents, we must say, act and BE who we want our kids to be. We cannot expect them to be more than we are. While it may happen anyways and while ultimately who are kids end up being is based on their choices, we have a big influence over that result. Recently, our pastor spoke on obedience. Specifically, on the importance of not only training your children to be obedient but for you, as an adult, to learn obedience as well. He cited Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” The main takeaway I got from the message was that, in order to teach something to my children, those principles, lessons, characteristics etc. need to be in my own heart. If I don’t know how to be obedient, my child won’t learn how to be obedient (at least not from me anyway). 


    Just thinking through all of the things I have yet to learn can make this feel discouraging. And quite frankly this could easily open up the door for excuses. I’m young. I’m a black female and our society works against me. I was abandoned as a child. Let me be very clear- these are all excuses. We have to remind ourselves that we are not a victim of our circumstances. I make choices. I have the freedom to make decisions and I have the power to choose to be a great example for my children. Don’t be discouraged by all the things you haven’t mastered yet. As you learn them, your children will learn them. 

    It is so exciting to think that just like your last name tells people who your family is, your children’s behavior can do the same. People’s positive opinions of your child can be attributed to you. You get all the credit. Well maybe not ALL the credit, but a good amount. Next week I’m going to share about my lesson in grace and forgiving myself for being an imperfect mom. So, even though you get the credit for the good, the bad, and the ugly part of your children, you don’t need to be perfect. You aren’t expected to be. That is not the standard. Just work every day to be your best. And since you're children are going to copy you no matter what you do, aim to have them copy your best self as much as possible. Keys to this are sleep, coffee and spa trips… in my opinion! 

Stay encouraged!


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Mommy Lesson 1: Sharing is Caring (as long as it doesn't involve germs)

Enjoy this blog by Guest Author: Olivia Ludwick!

"I'm realizing that, at the age of 25, I still do not know how to share. Well, that's not entirely true. I should give myself SOME credit. When I used to ride the train downtown for work I graciously moved my bags and sharedmy seat when someone wanted to sit down. When I'm out shopping and someone asks where I bought my purse I share where I got a great deal on it. And when I bake far too many cookies for one human being to eat by themselves, I kindly share them with my best friend. HOWEVER, sharing with a toddler is a whole different story. It’s as if I’m back in elementary school…

The Bus.

When I was in college, I was in a long distance relationship with my now husband (back then 2.5 hours felt like millions of miles). Like most lovestruck teenage girls, I couldn’t bare spending anytime apart from him. So every Friday night I drove through the cornfields of Champaign to my hometown in Elk Grove to spend, again what felt like, mere minutes with my boyfriend. Every Sunday night we’d say our tearful goodbyes and I’d drive back down to school for class the next day. Those 5 hours I spent in the car became my time. It was my time to play all my favorite songs, sing as loud as I wanted, listen to audio books, catch up with friends on the phone or just think through life. 

Now, fast forward to my role as mommy to Jay. My time in the car is no longer peaceful and fully dictated by me. It’s full of overstretched arms reaching to give Jay his 50th cracker in the 5 minutes we’ve been in the car. Hearing “Momma! Momma! Momma!” screamed over and over until I calmly ask, “What do you need?” only to hear “Hello” in response. The stereo blasts “If Your’e Happy and You know it” and “The Wheels on the Bus” instead of Eminem and Avril Lavigne (Yes, college were my darker days! I was in a long distance relationship, remember?) I’m not sure why, but every time I get in the car I can’t help but think, “This time is going to be different”. This time, Jay is going to play with the little car I gave him, eat from the cup holder I filled with cereal and listen to a chapter in my audio book. 

That “hope” bubble has officially been popped. 

A few months ago we were driving with my parents and about 25 minutes into the drive-

  • Mistake #1 was spotted. My husband and I forgot Jay’s beloved blanket. This is not a small baby blanket that he needs to sleep with. This is a “go every where with us, large, adult-sized, wool, throw blanket” that Jay has claimed as his own. I NEVER leave home without it. Except now, when the three of us are crammed in the back of my parents car for an hour long drive. When the tears started flowing over “choo choo mama no truck” (his words not mine) there was nothing to stop them. 
  • Mistake #2 happened when I thought a simple grape and apple squeeze pouch (which is created for ON-THE-GO eating) would help fill is rumbling tummy until we arrived and could feed him lunch. My handsome, well-dressed child in a cream sweater and dark skinny jeans decided that as soon as I opened up his squeeze pouch he was a “big boy” and could “feed himself". He then proceeded to yank the pouch from my hand. This act of independence sent purple colored apple sauce all over his clothes and about 1/4 of the food landed into his mouth. Jay topped it all off with an adorable “MMMMMmmmm”.

Needless to say the car ride was a mess and I learned the car is no longer my happy place or my peaceful paradise, it’s ours. It is now a shared space that is better described as a battle zone where you need to be ready for whatever your toddler throws at you. While crazy, it’s the main place I get to hear all the jumbled thoughts that go through my son’s mind. Where I hear him learn new words as we point things out in the car. Where I get to see pure joy creep onto his face as he claps along to “If You’re Happy and You Know it” for the 100th time. 

The Nurses Office.

You’d think that someone that used to work in advertising would pay attention to advertisements, but I don’t. While this normally wouldn’t be a big deal, there is one specific commercial that would have helped prepare me for sick days with a toddler. DayQuil came out with a series of hilarious videos (maybe only to those in the parent club) like this one. The moral of the story is that as a parent, you don’t just get to take a day off from being a parent, your kids still need you. 

For two days, I was down for the count. I was nauseous and couldn’t bare the thought of getting out of bed for even a minute. The good news- my husband and I both have our own businesses and have very flexible work hours. So my husband was a total rockstar nurse and dad, making sure I had plenty of fluids and Jay was fed/changed/played with. The bad news- my role as mommy still didn’t get put on hold. 

On Sick Day # 2, my husband made a pretty awesome hot wheels track in Jay’s room for him to spend hours of fun racing his 100s of cars down the winding tracks. I was laying in bed resting and about 5 minutes into the races I hear “MMOOOMMMM” exit Jay’s mouth and his little feet start running into my room. My husband tries (and sadly fails) to explain to him that “mommy is sick and needs to rest”. Jay don’t care! He needed to yell a paragraph of babble in my ear, climb into bed with me and steal the remote from my nightstand and demand “choo choos” be put on the TV. 

While I’m sure a lot of boys and boys that are toddler age are a handful. The only boy I can talk about from experience is Jay. And let me tell you, he can be a HANDFUL. All diaper changes are pure torture and contain loud shrieking and the flailing of body parts, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Just the mention of a diaper change sends him running into some corner crying. He’s just… A LOT. So in the midst of being sick, it feels slightly unfair to leave these exhausting tasks for my husband to manage all on his own. Well on Sick Day #3, Jay decided to take 3 diaper changes to get all of his #2s out. That’s 3 long, loud and exhausting diaper changes. After the third, the realization hit me. While needing to take time to recover from sickness is inevitable, I can no longer do so in solitude. Gone are the days of my mom bringing me soup in bed and binge watching a season of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD. My time and my presence must be shared with my son (and husband for that matter- but that’s a another post!) There are times where he needs to learn that he can’t demand everyone’s attention whenever he wants it, but it’s also important to give him the love and listening ear his eager heart desires whether my health levels are high or low. 

The Cafeteria.

If you’ve ever seen Mean Girls, you know the hilarious scene where Cady (Lindsey Lohan) exaggerates the lunch room scene into a Wild African Feasting. Jocks are leaping over tables at each other and popular girls are picking at each other’s hair like monkeys. She sees a high school lunch room as a dog eat dog world. Well, Jay would have fit in perfectly. Let me caveat by saying, we feed him well. I mean REALLY well. All natural, organic, free-range, non-GMO (fill in all the health crazed food terminology here).  And we feed him often. More like all day. From breakfast to bedtime the kid is always eating something. Whether we gave it to him or he found it on the ground at someone’s house (I’m not always sure), his mouth is always full of food. 

On this particular day, it was my first day of feeling better after being sick and I could finally keep some food in my system. Knowing my son is a ravenous zombie when it comes to food, I peaked into his room to find him playing with my husband so I quietly went downstairs to get some lunch. As a work from home mom who has a mattress more comfortable than an office chair, my bed is my office and dining space a lot of the time. I got back to “my office” with a piece of toast evenly buttered, a cheese stick, and some ginger ale to happily eat and get some work done. As soon as my butt (excuse my french) flattened into my bed the little feet started running. Jay couldn’t get to my room fast enough (which is right next to his), he took a wide turn out of his room and an EXTRA wide turn coming into my room almost running right into the door frame. But this did not stop him. He was on a mission. To eat my food. My simple, semi-pathetic lunch was like a king’s feast to this growing boy. He stopped at the side of the bed, looked up at me with those eyes, the ones that Puss in Boots makes in Shrek, and sweetly said, “BWEAD! BWEAD MAMA!” while quickly gesturing with this arms to please take my one and only slice of toast and stuff it in his mouth. To add to the cuteness, he hoisted himself onto our bed, situated himself next to me (in what must have only been a foot between me and the edge of the bed), pulled the comforter over his legs, patted his lap and did the sign language gesture for “Please”. Usually, I’m pretty quick to relinquish my food to him. But even with all this adorableness I was not giving up that easily. I gave him the smallest possible piece of crust and prayed it would tide him over until I was able to inhale the rest myself. No such luck. He sat there begging for piece after piece even before he was done chewing the first piece (you’ll soon learn this is a typical eating habit for Jay). By the time WE were done with the bread I thought, “He must be stuffed!” But then his little eyes locked onto my cheese stick. *PAUSE* I love cheese, like a lot, but I’ve read and learned that when you are congested you shouldn’t eat dairy. So for the week I was sick, I hadn’t eaten any cheese. *UNPAUSE* Despite my love for cheese, Jay had set his sites on my beloved cheese stick that I had been craving. After that was graciously split about 60/40 (60 to him of course), apparently we were both really thirsty because we reached for my ginger ale at the same time. As I mentioned, we are very strict with what Jay eats and drinks. He has only had breast milk, Kiefer and water to drink his entire life. So how this kid knows that my ginger ale is both delicious and refreshing is beyond me, but nevertheless he wants it. And he wants it so bad he is willing to take the entire can and pour half of it on himself and my bed. At this point, you may be wondering where my husband is. After all Jay left playing with him to come steal my food. Well, he was standing in the doorway basically telling me what I am telling you. And that’s the fact that what’s mine is his and I should be thankful for a child that is willing to try all kinds of food, instead of a picky child. I want him to be adventurous in his decisions and if that starts with sharing my toast and cheese stick with him then so be it. 

This lesson of sharing has really challenged my heart. If you’re anything like me, as a mom-to-be and a new mom, I thought that 9 months of pregnancy, a handful of books and a vocal mother and mother-in-law would prepare me for motherhood. It didn't. Nothing fully does. It’s an ongoing journey and process that I’m only 21 months into discovering. I’m excited to see what other lessons I learn along the way and I can’t wait to share them with you all. 

Are you struggling with sharing with your child? Have any funny stories of when you were forced to share with your child when you didn’t want to? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

Stay encouraged! 

Olivia Ludwick"

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