Well, here we are. Time for another Heger family update.
Updates are few and far between these days because I am still working out my feelings about how public I should make my kids’ lives. I live a pretty public life, and as a parenting writer, that means my children do to an extent as well, though I try to make my writing more about me than them. Still. We millennials are raising a generation that will have online identities created for them before they can even spell their names, and my mind often wanders down the “how will that affect them?” road. But my kids don’t have baby books, and so online personas may very well be the millennial version of the photo albums in our parents’ basement. While I do have published works and bylines elsewhere on the Internet, the following for this blog is quite small, so I feel comfortable putting a little bit of our family on display here. I hope someday my kids value the memories I’ve shared here.
Now that I have rambled out a justification for what I am about to write, let’s begin.
Summer has never really been my favorite time of year. Even as a kid with no homework, longer days and more ice cream in the summer months, I always greeted cooler weather and the start of a new school year enthusiastically. I love vacations and popsicles as much as the next person, but I just can not stand the heat for long. This summer however has been unusually mild compared to the typical hot and humid misery of the midwest, and I’ve definitely been happier.
We’ve been busy, as usual, but we’ve also been sticking around home more and traveling less than we did a year ago, which has been a good thing since this year has been full of transitions for all of us.
Camden started preschool a couple weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure I was the only mother on social media who did not post a first day of school photo of him. Sorry buddy!
So far he seems to be adjusting well though he struggles a bit at drop off. This morning he told me, “I am feeling a bit shy today, mommy,” and I squeezed him through my heartache. This past year has been full of changes for him, and I’ve felt anxious about it all — something he undoubtedly picks up on. Our first in-home childcare provider (whom we looooved and I still think about often) retired, so he started at a new daycare at the same time he was being evaluated for developmental delays, spending time in an early childhood classroom through our school district and starting speech therapy. So changing daycare settings for the third time in a year is understandably shaking him (and me!) a little, even though he has so much fun there.
Camden has grown so much this year and come a long way with his speech (which was delayed). He is deep in the “why” phase and will not accept generic answers, or “I don’t know” even if you truly do not know why dust exists or what the function of moles are on your skin (two questions I got this week). If he doesn’t like your explanation, he will say “tell me in other words” until you have no choice but to make shit up, in which case, he calls your bluff 90% of the time. The child who didn’t say mama until he was 20 months old now never shuts up. 🙂
After almost two years of us gently (and sometimes not so gently) pushing potty training, it finally clicked for him a few weeks ago. This is a topic I swore I would never write about out of respect for my kids’ privacy, but I think our experience is a valuable one for other parents to hear. Camden immediately showed interest in the potty when we introduced it to him shortly after his second birthday. He would go when we prompted him to, and eventually also came to us to change him when his diaper was soiled. We used M&M’s as rewards and set timers to remind him to go, and he seemed to catch on pretty quickly. This became frustrating however when we put him in underwear and he peed right through his clothes.
Our pediatrician encouraged us to take it slow, and told us he would do it when he was ready. This was frustrating to me, but I trust her advice, so I tried to be chill. Other parents told me it just clicked one day for their children, so we encouraged and praised when he went in the potty, and let it go when he didn’t.
Welp turns out everyone was right. One day out of the blue he used the potty all day, then stayed dry all week, then we put him in underwear and didn’t have to remind him. He just went. We’ve had one accident since. I share this because I think there is a lot of pressure on parents and kids alike when it comes to toilet training, but just like anything else, you can’t force them and kids develop on their own timing. I’m really really glad we took a laid back approach on this with Camden and didn’t pressure him.
The best part of this year has been watching Camden blossom as a big brother. He adores Adalie, and is very sweet with her. Before starting preschool he was at an in-home daycare with two other babies and has learned how to be gentle and what to do when they fuss (“she needs her paci, mama”). He is a self-described baby expert telling everyone, “I know a lot about babies.” If Adalie cries in the car, Camden is the first to comfort her, saying “Don’t worry baby, mommy will feed you soon,” or my personal favorite, “Don’t worry baby, I will tickle you when we get home.”
He went through a very difficult clingy period after she was born that we are now coming out the other side of. Before Adalie, Camden mostly preferred Steven, but after she arrived, he became very attached to me — insisting I put him to bed, be the one to calm him if he was upset or hurt, snuggle him on the couch, and in general not leave his side. I indulged him for a while because I knew it was a normal reaction to gaining a new sibling and because I felt guilty for all the big changes happening in his life. But after a while, it was too exhausting and I had to back away a little, which was rough for him, but important for all of us. Camden is constantly my teacher in holding on and letting go.
He is a sweet and very sensitive kid with a knack for problem solving and top-notch negotiation skills. He has limitless energy and never (truly, never) willingly goes to bed. He is just like his mama in that he “feels all the feels” in very intense highs and lows. He is joy and love and wonder and exhaustion all wrapped up in one.
Baby girl is six months old, and the time is just flying. She is sitting up, cutting her top two front teeth, eating table food and working on crawling. My heart aches looking at her newborn pictures. I swear I blinked and she outgrew half her closet.
I don’t even know where to begin in describing how different my postpartum experience with her has been compared to my experience with her brother. So much is different. Everything really. There isn’t one reason why I developed a postpartum mood disorder the first time around (there were many contributing factors), but I will say this. The temperament of the baby matters. If you haven’t had a baby who is inconsolable more hours of the day than not, who doesn’t sleep no matter what you do, who wails in their car seat for hours (HOURS), then you just don’t get it. Any other parents out there with a high-needs baby, I’ve been there, and I promise it gets better.
Adalie is the kind of angel baby I swore didn’t exist. We’ve taken to calling her pip squeak (or pips for short) because she rarely cries, and when she does, she doesn’t really ramp up to the kind of volume Camden did. She always smiling and loves meeting new people. She fits into our family as if she has been here all along.
The transition into parenthood with Camden was rougher than rough, but the transition from one kid to two has been about as good as it can be. Not perfect, because babies (even the “easy” ones) are still a lot of work, but man does it feel good to have an inkling as to what I’m doing this time. I worried I would struggle to find balance with two kids, but it’s really been easier than I thought it would be. For one, I am way less freaked out about crying (thank goodness because there’s a lot of crying). When you have two, someone is always fussing and sometimes there isn’t much you can do about it. Secondly, and more importantly, my anxiety is under control. I feel like a whole new person, comfortable in my skin and confident in my parenting decisions. It’s a whole new world, y’all.
I cried the first time she smiled at me. I hold her as often as I can. I have felt so much joy and bliss. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids, and when I saw others going on vacations abroad and making strides in their careers while I was home with a baby, I sometimes regretted my decision to become a mom. But having Adalie, loving Adalie has been so healing for me and has allowed me to connect more deeply with Camden. No doubt parenting is exhausting AF, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out the way I used to. Y’all can have your trips to Greece. I’ll be right here. (And maybe I’ll go to Greece someday).
As for me, I’m chugging along. I left my job at a community health center shortly before Adalie as born and have been working as a full-time freelance writer. And yes, I get paid 🙂 (as I was asked by my sweet grandmother when I told her that I’m working from home).
My career has kind of been all over the place, but I feel like I’m finally where I should be. I really didn’t realize it was possible to make a living as a freelance writer, but here I am. I’ve dabbled in so many different jobs that it feels like I am constantly a beginner in the work world, learning a new set of skills, but that is kind of what being a journalist is about. Always learning.
I have been incredibly privileged to stay home for months with my babies. That time has included financial sacrifice, but has also been possible because of my financial privilege, and my partner’s steady income. I took a couple months off after having Adalie, and then slowly started picking up more work. It was challenging to work from home with a baby (and I don’t know how so many of my freelance friends do it), but I was able to manage. I hired help one day a week, which was crucial to my productivity. I often worked in the wee hours of the morning while the kids were sleeping and in the evenings when Steven was home. When Adalie was younger and still napping pretty much anywhere, I would hold both my laptop and her in my lap and would get a lot of work done that way.
The kids are now both in part-time childcare three days a week (which is pretty much like a second mortgage for part time care), and for the first time in my life my main job is writing. Up until now it’s been a hobby, then a side hustle, but now it’s my profession. So basically at the age of 30, I HAVE ARRIVED.
Would anyone be surprised if he had the shortest update? 🙂
Steven is always hard at work on some kind of project, and I should really learn how to write about his work because I fully intend to market the shit out of him. He’s incredibly talented.
Like, raise your hand if you know what a CNC plasma cutter is. Yeah, he built one of those.
He’s been making furniture for our house, decor for us and others, dreaming up bigger house projects and talking my ear off about getting a project car.
He goes to work in the garage after the kids go to sleep around 9, and works for hours. Camden is a lot like me but his ability to operate on very little sleep is all Steven.
Dixie the dog will be eight years old in December. The vet calls her geriatric, but I know she’ll live forever. This sweet pup joins me on my daily runs, puts up with shenanigans from the kids, and still loves to get into the trash so she’d def still v youthful.
That brings us to the end. I’ll try to update again before the end of the year, but no promises.