Mom of a thumb sucker: My son’s journey to breaking his habit of thumb sucking

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember the second ultrasound very clearly, as there he was within my womb sucking that barely formed thumb. Well out he came, found his thumb pretty quickly and seven years later we were faced with a habit that has been hard to break.

Yay, he found his thumb! Geez this is going to be a tough habit to break!

When he was a baby, he had absolutely no interest in a pacifier, neither of my boys did and my youngest is also going 2 years strong with his beloved thumb. I’ll be honest, so many fellow mom friends used to be so worried about their kids finding their thumbs, but I on the other hand almost wanted them to find it. I wasn’t thinking 4, 5, 6 or 7 years out. I was thinking about one thing and one thing only, SLEEP. I wanted these boys to sleep through the night and them learning how to self soothe early on, well it was a life savior. No going in in the middle of the night and popping that paci back in. Once they found their thumbs they became the most amazing sleepers at night, even more so with my oldest. He was the happiest baby ever, really, he never cried, and he was amazing at self-soothing when he was little. And a little baby sucking on their thumb in my opinion is so much cuter than a pacifier. Fast forward several years later and it becomes not so cute, not something that you can just throw in the trash and something that seems near impossible to break the habit of.

Letting your kids lead the way

I have always been a firm believer, that my son would quit when he was ready. I myself sucked my finger well into elementary school and I remember making the decision one day that I was ready and once I set my mind to it that was it. My ex used to get so mad at my son, threaten him with time outs if he didn’t take his thumb out. I used to get so angry at him. He was 3 or 4 and he was not emotionally ready, nor capable of figuring out how to do that on his own. For the past year and a half, I along with the dentist have given him gentle encouragement about trying to stop the habit. I’ve had many talks with him about it, asking him if its something he wants to stop doing but just can’t, or if he still wants to do it. I’ve told him for quite some time that I’m here to help him when he’s ready. That ultimately, he has to be the one to decide its time, but when he does if he decides he wants some help with it, I’m here for him.

I was shocked when out of the blue last weekend he came up to me and said mom, “I want to stop sucking my thumb, can you help me?” I told him that there were a couple of different aids out there to help him but that I wouldn’t invest in one unless he was actually willing to use it. I think by putting it in his hands, letting him know this was his decision to make, made all the difference. This wasn’t something I was forcing him to do, this was his journey to make, and he knew I loved him and was here to help him in any way he needed. He didn’t have the pressure on him of mommy being disappointed or angry with him. I reminded him that he can do anything he sets his mind to and if he’s deciding now is the time to quit, I have no doubt that he can do it and I believe in him. I showed him two options I found on Amazon. One was like nail polish and makes your thumb taste horrible, and the other was a contraption that goes over your thumb making it impossible to put in your mouth. He asked me to purchase the yucky nail polish. For the next two days he kept asking me when it was going to arrive.

Thumb sucking solution

Sunday morning, a little package arrived. It just happened to be the day before Halloween and a day we had two Halloween festivities to go to. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to put it on and he said as long as it was invisible that yes, he wanted to do it. Well, I painted a coat on his thumb nail, and we hopped into the car to our first festivity. The car and the couch are always the places he tends to suck his thumb. We hadn’t even made it out of the driveway when he was gagging and started crying. It hadn’t even been 10 minutes and his little brain forced by habit had put his thumb in his mouth. This stuff is gross, I felt so bad for him. I asked him if he wanted me to take it off and he said no, just begged me to go get him some seltzer to take the taste away. The rest of the day he didn’t once go to suck his thumb. It wasn’t until the middle of the night when we had another incident. He woke up crying and gagging and completely upset. In his sleep he had put his thumb in his mouth. My heart hurt for him and yet was so proud of my baby doing such big boy things.

It took two days for the nail polish to wash off completely in the tub and when I asked him if he wanted me to reapply it, he said, “Nope, I think I have this. My brain doesn’t need it anymore.” I can’t believe it, but it’s been 5 days without him sucking his thumb. I keep catching myself checking on him when he’s watching TV or looking back at him in the car. I keep telling him how proud of him I am and that most of all he should be so proud of himself.

So, if you’re a fellow mom to a thumb sucker like me and your little one is ready to take the big step, I highly recommend this stuff! Mavala nail polish treatment

Re-entering the work world after being stay-at-home mom for 7 years

Whoa, it’s been a crazy overwhelming couple of weeks, and I’ve struggled to find a moment to breathe let alone write. There has been so much change, so many emotions and stress. Every new season in life comes with both ups and downs, right?

A new season in life

I’ve known the day of me returning to work was around the corner, but it’s been a huge struggle to get all of the pieces needed to make that happen come together. If you’ve been following my story, you will know that when I left my abusive marriage last April, my ex who had been controlling me financially cut me off completely and I’ve been left without a bank account, a car and starting completely over with my 2 boys. It’s been almost 8 months without any child support with not much change in hope legally (I’ll save that for another post). Without money saved for childcare for my youngest and a car, it’s been very overwhelming trying to figure out a new career after staying home for so long.

An opportunity came up a couple weeks ago for a 12-week interim second grade teaching position and with good pay and school hours, I knew I had to at least apply for the job. I taught for 6 years in Florida, but that was 11 years ago, before kids, so the thought of returning to the classroom came with many mixed emotions. I liked teaching at a time, but I always thought when I was teaching that it would be a struggle to give my all, all day long to other people’s kids and then come home and still have enough patience leftover to be fully present for my own. Since making the big move and thinking about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, I’ve thought about teaching a lot. As a single mom I want to be with my boys as much as possible. The hours of teaching would be ideal, to be home after school, to be off when my son is on vacation. However, with a single income and starting from scratch, the pay is not so ideal. It saddens me how underpaid our teachers here are. I had looked into being a TA a few months ago and you could make more money working at Starbucks then being a teacher’s assistance. I was running my thoughts by a dear friend, and I mentioned that I felt that maybe a 12-week teaching position would allow me time to figure out if teaching is where my heart is at. She told me that she thought that was amazing mindset to have with taking the job. Well, I interviewed on a Thursday and was offered the job on the spot and started teaching the following Tuesday and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.

Sadness of dropping my youngest off at daycare for the first time

I really struggled with the thought of leaving my newly 2-year-old, like really struggled. I don’t know why this is so hard for me. So many moms go back to work almost 2 years earlier then I am. But everyone’s journey is so different, everyone’s journey through motherhood is their own. I have a newfound respect for all those working moms out there, as the new juggle I’ve been challenged with has been very overwhelming. I always imagined that I would be with my boys until they were in school. I truly love being a stay-at-home mom and I feel like I’m good at it. Growing up, I never felt like I was truly great at something. I did great in school, but I had to work my butt off. I was an athlete, but never a star, and I just never found like I found my niche in life, until I became a mom. Being a mom has brought me so much sense of self-worth and as challenging as it is, I just love raising my boys. I feel like they are becoming pretty amazing humans and I’d like to think I have something to do with that. I had so much one on one time with my oldest before my youngest was born. And although in a perfect world I would have had them much closer together in age, I found happiness that now that my oldest was in school that I was also going to get that one-on-one time with my youngest. I didn’t think I would be going back to work so soon, and it’s been hard to process the emotions of feeling like I’m going to miss out on so much. I’m used to being there for all of it, the good and the bad. When I dropped him off on day one, he went right in happy to play with all the new toys and didn’t even notice that I left. I sat in my car, and I cried. I knew he would be ok; I knew I would be so busy with my 22 second graders to dwell too much, but it was such a huge first for the both of us. I’m incredibly thankful that a girl I grew up withs mom lives a few houses down and has had her own at home daycare since we were kids. I found comfort in dropping him off somewhere I had spent a lot of time at as a kid. I’m also incredibly thankful that my mom who we live with is watching him 3 days of the week, so it’s made this transition a lot easier to ease into. Other than being sick after one day of day care and refusing to nap there, he’s having a wonderful time making new friends and that makes the sting of not being with him hurt a little less.

Back in the classroom after 11 years

I was so nervous coming into a classroom this far into the year, not having any idea of the curriculum, and not teaching in oh so many years. My first day I got to the school, grabbed my badge and was immediately told that I had an hour-long IEP meeting for one of my students. Surprise! Nothing like a curve ball on the first day. The first day was A LOT and I was feeling by the end of day one that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. I missed my boys. I was exhausted. I got up at 5 and still didn’t seem to have enough time to get all that I needed to do. I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything, and I was feeling pretty down. But I reminded myself to allow myself some grace. This is new, this is so much change, it’s day one. I reminded myself to be patient and that tomorrow would be better. Each day would be a little better and become a little easier…and it did. By day three my teaching days started to come back. I navigated away from the busy work sub plans and decided to actually teach a lesson and I quickly was reminded that I can do this. I was a good teacher once upon a time, I’m good with kids, my boys will be ok, and we can do this. I’m still overwhelmed and I’m now sick with a nasty head cold after only a week and a half of school, but I’m confident that I can do this.

One step closer to independence

When I was offered the job, I knew other than childcare there was still a difficult piece of the puzzle to figure out. I had to turn in my leased vehicle when we left because he stopped paying my bills, so my mom and I have been sharing a car. Worked out fine for a while, but it’s been such a struggle at times and with accepting this job and knowing she would be watching my youngest, we both knew getting me a car was a necessity. I’ve been fighting legally to get access to some of the proceeds of our home that is tied up in a trust fund for a car with little luck so far. When I got this job, I knew that after 12 weeks I would have enough money for a used car, so my mom offered to loan me the money upfront. When I drove off the lot in my new car, I felt like I had taken one more step away from my ex’s grasp. One of my best friends texted me and said, “No one can take this from you. You don’t have to worry about him holding this over you, threatening to stop paying the payment. This is yours and he can’t take it from you.” And she was right. He’s taken so much from me, and my boys and he could not take this. This was mine and I’m doing it all without him. And that brought me so much joy. It’s one step closer to my independence. I’m reminding myself every day that as much as he tried to make me feel as though I needed him, in his words exactly, “you could never survive the real world without me”, I don’t need him. Not only do I not need him, but we are so much happier without him in our lives. I’m regaining my independence and my inner strength little by little each and every day.