Raising a Blended Family

“Boys will be Boys.”

Ya’ll, I have something to admit. Before I ever got pregnant with Pax-o, before we started TTC, before we even seriously set a timeline for TTC, I knew that if we were to have a baby together, I would want it to be a girl. It HAD to be a girl. Of course it would be a girl!

We already had one girl, for one. I envisioned sisters playing happily together (yes, an idyllic vision that leaves out hair-pulling, sibling-fights, and tattling, I admit), passing down clothes (hey! I’m cheap!), and lots of frilly cute sweet baby girl-ness.

All of my prior experience with kids was with GIRL kids.  I grew up in G.irl Sc.outs, first as a sco.ut and then as a lea.der and counselor. I had a sister (no longer). All my friends were girls. And, let’s face it, I’m a LESBIAN, which by definition means that I do not do “boy” very well. So, it had to be a girl.

And then, of course, “it” wasn’t a girl. HE was a Paxton, a very MALE Paxton, obvious from the very first sex-reveal sonogram at around 18 weeks or so. We turned on the sonogram machine and there it was, blinking into view, proof that I obviously possessed nothing close to mother’s intuition as far as the sex of my baby was concerned. And to be honest, it took me a minute to reconcile this very male BOY growing inside me with the visions of frilly and pink I had in my head. It took me a minute to truly realize we were having a boy. And then, once I did, came the (inevitable?) thought… what the heck do you DO with a boy?!?! Girls, I knew. Girls seemed easy. But boys?

Of course, we figured it out. We have him and love him and I couldn’t imagine any other baby in the whole wide world other than him. I have zero regrets whatsoever with him being male. But sometimes, I feel like the question still remains: How is having a boy different than having my imagined-girl? How does he act differently than a girl would? How does he play differently?

Enter the phrase: “boys will be boys.” If I had a nickel for every time someone said that about the way Pax acts, I would be a much richer woman. Old grandmas say it, random strangers say it, other-moms-of-boys and moms-of-not-boys say it, even my wife says it sometimes.

At best, I am ambivalent about this phrase. What does that even mean, anyways? Just a general excuse to explain away otherwise rowdy, obnoxious, or unwanted behavior? What if I said, “girls will be girls” for every thing *I* did, or Thing One did, or my wife did? I’m betting I would get some blank stares in response because really, what the heck does that even mean?!

At worst, I flat out hate this phrase. Abhor. Cannot stand. For the reasons above, but also because I think it places too much value on sex and gives not enough credit to the processes of exploration, of thought process development, of childhood. Pax climbs a table, falls down, and bonks his head. As he gets up, wailing, someone tells me “boys will be boys.” NO. This has nothing to do with him being a boy. It has to do with him being a baby, learning his environment. He just learned cause and effect, that’s all. All babies do. He learned that “if I climb this and then do not hold on, I fall.” I’m a girl and I climbed things all the time as a kid. Got quite a few scrape-ups in my day. Thing One is in the midst of this phase now. Yet no one ever looked at me or her and said “boys will be boys,” because, of course, I am not a boy. Thing One is not a boy. Yet, had a boy exhibited that same behavior, those same people WOULD have dismissed it as “boys will be boys,”  instead of seeing it as a natural part of childhood exploration that ALL children undertake in some form or another. It is the process of childhood development, not the process of boys will be boys.

I also dislike the statement because, implicit in it, is that whatever action caused the statement to be made is an action that is only undertaken by boys, or somehow excusable because it was a boy, and not a girl, who partook. There is the implication that girls do not do that, that it is a “boy” thing only. Boy gets dirty- but “boys will be boys.” Because of course, girls do not GET dirty. Boys roughhouse and get hurt- “boys will be boys” – because girls do not roughhouse or wrestle either, or do a million other so-called “masculine” activities.  When this statement is used in such a manner, I feel like it is the inherent society-driven stereotypical gender roles coming out and being placed upon that child, rather than that child expressing them himself. And I reject that. As much as I can and am aware of it, I reject it. My son will develop into whomever he was meant to be, and “boys will be boys” has nothing to do with it. It’s just him. Paxton. My son.

In the end, the question “what do I do with a boy?” doesn’t seem so scary, after all. It is, perhaps, the wrong question to be asking anyways. Whether he was a boy, or a girl, Pax would need the same love, the same care, the same careful supervision to allow him to explore his world safely and fall on his face and get back up again*. I’ve decided the question to ask is not “what do I do with a boy?”, but “what do I do with my BABY?”, and the answer, it seems, is pretty damn simple after all. Love him. Teach him. Hold him. Play with him. Care for him. Snuggle him. Unconditional of sex or anything else. Let him be a BABY**.

*literally, today. Quite the bruise on his noggin as he learned to climb OVER our playgate but not how to land on the other side. And, by the way, f*ck my life for the fact that he can now escape and get hurt at-will.

**It feels strange to use the word “baby” to describe my 15.5 month old. It also feels strange to use the word toddler. They need to invent an in-between word.



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Morning at the Museum

Last night, Shorty and I heard that today all the museums in our area- including the Children’s museum- would be free today. Since we both have the day off and Thing One had to be at school to make up a snow day, we decided it would be the perfect morning to take Pax to check out the brand new 5-and-under playscape, just mommies and him!

We knew it would be packed so we were up and out of the house first thing this morning and got there right as it opened. The playscape, which normally has a line a mile long to get into, was mostly empty and we just waltzed right in!


We took Pax out of the carrier and let him down, and he was OFF at the speed of light! The first thing he saw was this cool waterway/pond play area they have and he headed straight for it. We put one of the (dry-because-we-were-some-of-the-first-ones-in) waterproof aprons on him and he had a blast! They had all sorts of fun water toys- boats, strainers, squeegees- and Pax had a grand ole time splashing and making a big puddle on the floor.






Once the waterscape started getting crowded with new arrivals, we moved on to the music room. They had tons of instruments- drum, maracas, and a big wooden xylophone that was as big as I am! To be honest, Pax was more interest in chewing on the mallets than making music, but he did have fun jingling some bells and playing with the xylophone a bit.






Next up was this cool lily pad-pond-themed climber that made up the backside of the waterscape. I lifted pax up and set him inside the climber on one of the “lily pads,” fully expecting him to immediately want down… But instead he stayed inside playing for probably a good 45 minutes or so! He was too little to climb up to the next levels but he had fun crawling around on the three ground-level pads and playing with the netting. Honestly, the whole climber was really cool and I wanted to jump in myself! Ha!






After that, we kind of just wandered around to a few different stations- the sandpit (wasn’t a fan, tried to eat the sand and then walked away when he realized it wasn’t edible) to this sensory station with lots of soft fluffy stuff, and finally landed in the special babies and toddlers only area. This area had all sorts of stuff to do. There was a little slide, a tree trunk to crawl through, a station with cloth butterflies that would fly up into the air when you pushed a button, an area with wooden flowers to play with, some birdhouses with doors that pax enjoyed opening and closing, a wall with light up fireflies, a mirror wall, and much much more. There was also a little playmate area walled off for babies 9mos and under- I was disappointed and nervous to see several parents not properly supervising older children and letting them do running jumps into this mat area when there were small babies lying in there! If that had been MY young baby in there with those older kids jumping around, we would have had issues. Lol. Pax wanted in there so bad he could taste it but we were able to distract him with other things.

















When we could tell he was getting tired we bundled him back into the ergo and headed home for nap time. He fell asleep on the way home after reading for awhile. All in all, it was a great morning and it was nice to be able to focus on one child/age group without having to worry about boring the other child. We will definitely be going back!





Daycare update!

I am happy to report that daycare is going better… sort of.

The good news is he’s a lot happier there now. We are getting reports from his babysitter of “happy days” and “hour and a half long naps in the pack ‘n play” (which, by the way, who is THAT child? Because he’s clearly not mine, the one who won’t take more than a twenty minute nap if he’s not on a mom at home). He is not in tears when I walk in the door anymore, and seems to be adjusting to the schedule.

I’m adjusting too, though I miss him tons. I’m actually enjoying being at work, which is something I never thought I would say because I enjoyed being a stay at home mom so much. But the adult interaction and conversation is nice, and it is nice to be out and about and out of the house. You better believe though, that when it’s time to go home, I’m the first one out the door and I’m practically speeding on over to the daycare to pick up my baby!

We did find out that some of his issues last week were due to a raging ear infection. The babysitter reported mild fevers and lots of fussiness when we checked in with her at noon on Friday, but neither one of us were really in a place to be able to go home and get him, plus she said that the fever had not gone above 100. So we figured it was maybe his teeth, more anxiet, or a combination of the two, and instructed her to give him some tylenol, which she did and reported to us that he was happy and playing about 45 minutes after she gave it.  By the time we went to pick him up, though, he was screaming and when we got him she reported that he had been digging in his ears a lot. We took him straight to urgent care, where his ear infections and my terrible mistake of leaving my poor sick baby screaming in pain at a stranger’s house were confirmed. 😦 I mean, it really doesn’t get much worse than that- not only does he have separation anxiety, not only was it his very first day of daycare ever, but he also had two “pretty severe” (dr’s words) ear infections that were completely untreated and he spent two days howling in pain and not knowing where we were. UGH. Just thinking about it makes me want to throw up and cry.

BUT. But. We got past it. We got over it. It is behind us and he is doing much much better.

At hand now is the issue of whether to keep this current sitter of find another one. On the one hand, I really like her, I feel comfortable with her, and Pax has finally gotten to know her. She is also one of the few sitters able to accommodate both watching Pax and dropping T1 off at school in the mornings. I really don’t want to have to start that process of looking for a new one and matching schedules and acclimating the kids all over again.


But, this lady has some policies we don’t like. She makes us pay for days we are not scheduled, and even days when her daycare is closed for whatever reason. Example? That blizzard we had last week, daycare was closed monday and tuesday, yet we were expected to pay her anyways. Why? I have no idea. It’s one thing if we last-minute cancel on her- if we make a schedule then we would stick to it and pay her off that schedule, regardless of whether or not our kid actually showed up. But when SHE closes it and says “I’m not taking kids”, why should we have to pay for that? Frankly, I don’t have the MONEY to pay for that.

More worrisome is that she also seems to take a lot of time off. She just gave us a list of upcoming off days- there are 5 in the next month and a half, three within two weeks of now.  That may not seem like a lot but we just don’t have the call in time to be able to work like that with our schedules. That’s why we need a babysitter in the first place! It’s one thing, to me, to take a scheduled vacation, but another thing to take random days off (or half days) in the middle of random weeks. If there’s this many now and we JUST started with this lady, the question becomes is this the norm for her? Is she dependable and reliable or is she someone for whom it is usual to take this much time off? And yes, by the way, we are expected to pay her for the days she is taking off, too.

So, I don’t know. The cost of shaking things up and taking a risk finding someone else, vs. the cost of sticking with what we know and paying, literally, for it. We do have a meeting this weekend with another possible lady just to see what our options are… so we will see how this goes. One thing I do know- choosing daycare is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!


First Day of Daycare

So, today was the kids’ first day of their new daycare.

Neither one of them had a good day. =( Thing One apparently had an attitude with the daycare lady when she told her to leave Paxton alone a few times. In all fairness she was trying to be helpful to get him to calm down from being fussy, but instead was getting in the way. The daycare lady told her nicely to stop and let her handle it and Thing One sighed loudly and was basically rude with a ‘tude.  NOT the first day impression we were trying to make.


Pax did not stop crying all day, basically. 😦 I didn’t know this until after work because no cell phones are allowed at work (she can get ahold of us in emergencies still though).  Apparently he melted down all day looking for us, only took a forty minute nap when he’s been up since 6am (part of the problem, I’m sure) and only had maybe one good hour of playfulness in the entire 9 hour day.  My poor poor baby. I got there and he was crying- he quickly reached for me and clung to me, wrapping his little arms around my neck and cuddling tight. I cried. I just hate this situation so much- we’re both used to being together all day and he clearly still wants and needs me, yet I have no choice but to leave him there. I am already dreading tomorrow and just praying that everything goes smoother tomorrow and that he starts to adjust quickly.


Oh, updates.

So I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted here. The funny thing is, I write updates in my head every few days but then never find the time to type them out and post them. That, if anything, should give you an indicator of how crazy it’s been.

My parents and brother are currently in town from San Diego and we are enjoying a quiet lull in the crazy hecticness that has been our routine. I go to quit my temporary job that I had found, the one that had me working 55-60 hour workweeks, tonight because on Monday I start working at Shorty’s work. Definitely some relief there although I am grateful to that job as well because it got us through the holidays and allowed us to have Christmas, basically.  Things are definitely looking up, money-wise.

I also start my classes Monday and I can. not. wait.  They’re all online (for now) which should make it easier to fit them into my schedule. I am excited to be a student again, and a bit nostalgic for college days when being a student was ALL I had to be… no worries about work, daycare, cleaning the house, and all the other myriad cares I have now. Life is going to be BUSY BUSY BUSY again come Monday, but I’m not complaining, I’m just happy to get to go back to school, period.

And then there are, of course, the kids.

Thing One is doing well, though she’s been quite sassy and freakin’ downright rude sometimes. We call her Mouth, at times, for her tendency to mouth off and talk back and as a one-word reminder to her to change her attitude. Other than that though, she is doing well in school and at home. She has been officially diagnosed with ADHD, which comes as no surprise to us and is actually a relief, to have a formal answer. No medications yet (we’re still exploring options) but we shall see.

Pax is almost fifteen months old now and straddling the very fine line between toddler and baby. He loves to walk around and “talk” at you (no real words except “mama”), and several times we have found him in the center of a pile of books, babbling to himself as he “reads” and flips through the pages. It is very cute! He is in full-on walking/exploring/playing mode now, and does not like to sit still for anything or anyone (including mommy reading to him, snuggles, diaper changes and clothing changes). 


There is so much more to write (anxieties about daycare starting next week, for instance) but I wrote the above ten hours ago and haven’t even been able to come back to it since then, so I think I’d better just hit publish and hope for the best!