Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Motherhood is a real moving target. Especially as infants, children develop and grow rapidly - we're talking a new skill set every week or so for the first year of life. Go back and read that again, y'all. I mean, holy shitballs, that is ridiculous. Imagine if you learned a new, life-changingly complex skill every week. I could be Superman by now. Just to put that into perspective for you. If you learned and grew as fast as a baby, there would be comic books about you. Also, you'd be fucking huuuge, but that's beside the point.
Also, you'd have to eat really often to sustain that kind of growth. I'd make it my personal mission to avenge the deaths of my people during the Irish potato famine by dedicating each meal to one of the fallen many. With great power comes great responsibility, people.
Moving on. So, what worked with Carrie last week might not necessarily work this week. And it's not just her place on the developmental spectrum that's dictating this. Everything from what she's looking at to whether or not she's feeling well impact her ability to cope with the crazy shit I'm throwing at her. We'll get into a routine that I can really get behind and a couple of weeks later, everything goes to absolute shit right before my eyes and the end of the night finds me on the bathroom floor with a bag of chocolates and twitch around the eyes.
I like to think that this is great practice, and I'm getting better at dealing with change. But then something happens, like my mom gets us a play yard, and I'm thrown back into this spiral of frustration and self-doubt. It's really challenging, but I really do feel like I'm learning to cope with this kind of emotional upheaval. Then again, I'm staring at this pack and play with hate in my eyes, so I'm probably not there yet.
Monday, December 20, 2010
- monogrammed needlepoint stocking
- enough toys to last until next Christmas
- boutique baby clothes
- books, books, and more books (ok, this one I'm actually totally cool with)
My parents even bought her presents for me to wrap and address from "Santa," because I hadn't gotten her anything. Whoa. She got a new Christmas dress (ok with this one, too, since it was for portraits) and a new Christmas outfit. We spent hours celebrating, eating and opening presents. And, in the midst of it all, what really mattered fell by the wayside.
I didn't get to take her to Christmas Eve service at church. She got way off her routine and didn't eat a whole meal for three days (don't worry, I ate plenty for both of us). She wasn't sleeping well at night or napping much during the day. Basically, it was a nightmare. And now I'm afraid that this is how I'll remember her first Christmas: as the pounding ache in my head on Christmas morning as she screamed in my face out of sheer frustration. Gross.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Before Carrie came, I was so excited about all of her tiny pink outfits and the adorable headbands that came with them. I couldn't wait to read her books like "Polite as a Princess" and I was going to tell her everyday that she was beautiful.
And then I realized that I'd been ruled by hormones and I didn't actually want any of that for her. Well, at least not exclusively. Really, what I want is for Caroline to be herself. She might turn out to be super femme and she might also be a tomboy like I was (for a while anyways). But the million ways in which gender roles are reinforced will play a huge part in who she is and, frankly, that pisses me off. Don't get me wrong, I still think she's absolutely beautiful and I'm not just saying this because I'm sick of looking at pink - although I totally am.
It just seems so ridiculous to me that we start indoctrinating our children into gender roles before they can even focus their eyes. Putting aside how ridiculous the gender binary is in general, it's especially useless for babies. Gender is a combination of several factors including sex, social role and gender identity. So, I ask you: how can a tiny human with no physical self-awareness other than that hands are fun have a social role or gender identity?
Also, baby boys clothes are freaking adorable. So it frustrates me when I see something cute that I'd like to buy for Caroline and I debate if it's cute enough to justify me fighting with my mom over it.
I guess what it really comes down to is that I want the best for her. And I'm not gonna lie: sometimes it sucks to be a girl. I mean we can create life and "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" and we've got the Girl Scouts and we're completely equal to men and yay feminism. But, still. Sometimes it's hard to remember that you have to be docile to get ahead and not to chew with your mouth open. And it sucks to accept that you'll get paid less than the moron in the next cubicle reading FHM while you're working twice as hard. And it hurts when you realize that girls really can't be anything they want like your favorite childhood book told you. So I'd rather raise her in a world relatively free of those stereotypes and unfair expectations and just let her be her. And the adorable boys' and gender-neutral clothes are just a perk :)
Thursday, November 25, 2010
So: a real post is in the works for the next few days. Right now, I'm going to cast off this scarf I'm knitting (broke-ass Christmas, anyone?) and go to bed. Because your child sleeping through the night is even more awesome when compared to the midnight vomiting parties.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Everyone's asking what Caroline and I want for Christmas this year (let's put aside the fact that I actually celebrate Solstice) and all I can tell them is: "we want cloth diapers!" I mean, sure, Caroline could definitely use other things. But it just kills me to use disposable diapers on her. Every time I change her diaper, I think to myself "this diaper will still be in a landfill when she graduates college." This is seriously breaking my heart. Everybody complains that there won't be any nature left for our children, and disposable diapers are part of that problem. I recycle, I try to re-use and upcycle things. I bring my own tote bags to the grocery store, I only do laundry when it's absolutely necessary, I unplug my cell phone charger when I'm not using it. If I'm doing my part, why do I feel so terrible about using disposables?
Maybe because "disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills." Estimates state that disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose fully. That's just ridiculous, people. If the rule of thumb states that there are about 20 years between generations, Caroline's diapers will still be in a landfill 25 generations from now.
And that's not even the half of it! I could save a metric buttload (yes, that's technical term) of money over the course of her diapering life by using cloth. She would potty train earlier. She would have less diaper rash. Plus, her butt would look even cuter than it already does if it were covered in an adorable diaper!
So, if you're reading this and you want to get us a holiday present: put back the toys that take batteries (no, seriously, Karma will get if you make me endure that) and get us the gift of a more sustainable future.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
- The term is "noise pollution," and it doesn't really cover this. But total A+ for effort, really.
- My 4-month old actually isn't on facebook, can't read, and doesn't understand language at all. So I'm pretty sure her virgin psyche is intact. Except for that part where she's scarred for life from my throwing her into bed.
- What the fuck, lady?
Me - "One of the ads on my profile is for Mederma for stretch marks. Fuck you, facebook."
Sister - "Heyyyy, language. You're a mom now!"
Me - "Right. Cause moms don't ever use curse words. Or poop. Or get angry. Or have sex. Basically they're just less human than everyone else."
I really shouldn't have made that last comment, but I just couldn't help myself. In what crazy universe does pushing a child out of your uterus occasion a mandatory change in your behavior? I mean, here are some key points in my defense:
- I'm not cussing out loud in front of your children.
- I'm actually a pretty rocking mom.
- My child is happy and healthy and way smart for her age (the pediatrician says that; it's not just me pulling a Glenn Beck and making shit up.)
I'm not saying I don't judge. I do, even just a little bit. I heard about a woman who got a new piercing while she was pregnant. That's pretty messed up, in my book, because of the risk of infection and the compromised state of the pregnant woman's immune system. Drinking heavily or doing drugs while your child is in your care or there is not a sober adult to tend the child? I wouldn't do it, that's pretty wrong to me. But, seriously you guys, all I did was say "fuck." I mean, really? So here's today's lesson, brought to you by "Free to Be You and Me": parents are people.
We curse. We shout. We have tattoos and piercings, among other things. We like hard rock (and so do our kids). We feel things: anger and joy and hope and fear and passion. We wear the clothes we like, and sometimes very little clothing at all (gasp!). We have sex, and we make out and we want to feel attractive. We love our kids, but we aren't defined by them. We have lives outside of diapers and bottles, chicken nuggets and bedtime stories.
And it's not your fucking place to tell us we can't do these things, so back off.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Ok, fine. Maybe she's teething. But, then again, maybe she's not. I get the feeling I'm viewing a lot of behavior that could by signs of teething, but could also just be the way a baby learns. I did this when I was in labor. We went to the hospital twice, with me convinced I was in labor. The contractions were regular and getting more frequent, increasing in intensity, etc. And I was miserable and convinced that this baby was coming. And then I really went into labor and what I experienced made those other instances pale in comparison (and also made me feel pretty foolish).
So am I just jumping the gun here? Am I so eager to see her grow beautiful, tiny, pearl teeth that I'm reading too much into this? Is she just going through the four-month sleep regression?
I guess regardless of the cause, the main symptom remains: my sweet Care Bear is now a demon. She's stopped sleeping through the night, she will hardly go down for a nap and she's been fussy on and off for a few days (with a huge blow-up today). This just isn't my child.
My dad said "Maybe you need to watch that PURPLE crying video again. Babies just cry sometimes." Yeah, here's the deal, dad: 1 - the period of PURPLE crying should have peaked like a month ago (when she was still a little angel) and 2 - not my baby! My girl just doesn't cry for no reason. She's almost always satisfied by either a change of scenery or a change of diaper. Clearly, she is now possessed.
Or she's teething. Oh dear, this could get circular...
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I'm pretty much an optimist. I like to see the bright side of things, and having a child has really made me more laid back. Personally, I think my subconscious is so busy worrying that one day she'll die in a terrible way to really lend me the brain function to stress over what time I get dinner on the table. But that's not what I'm talking about right now. Wait, what was I talking about? Right. Optimism. (I haz it.)
So, let me give you an example of what I'm talking about: today my Dad and I (and the baby, obviously) went to lunch and Carrie, as always, got hungry right before it was time for me to eat. So the server comes by to ask how everything is and sees that my food hasn't been touched because I'm feeding the baby. I say "I'm sure it will be great, when I eat it. She just seems to have a sixth sense about when it's time for Mama to eat!" and the server responded by saying something like "Mine were like that, too!" She should have left it there. But that would just be too easy, and then I'd have nothing to blog about. (Nothing to blog about! See what I did there? I made a funny.)
So this server goes on to basically trash-talk her children every time she interacts with me for the remainder of my meal. "My daughter was very vocal at that age, too, and now I just can't get her to shut up. It's like 'don't you see I'm working here?' and she never gets it!" And it's not just her, this happens all the time; this leads me to two questions:
- Are these people just frustrated? Or do they truly see these less-than-perfect moments as representative of the whole relationship they have with their children?
- Will I be like this one day?
I just explained this to someone the other day, some complete stranger at the park with her 5 kids. We chatted a bit and it somehow came up that I'm single and she gave me the standard sympathetic head tilt followed by the line I hear most often: "that must be hard." Well, actually, it's pretty easy to be single. Being married - now that's work! She actually used the phrase "single mom," and I almost disagreed with her without even thinking about it. I just don't view myself that way. Yes, I'm single; and, yes, I'm a mom. But I definitely wouldn't define myself as a single mom. That label just has too many connotations of struggle and poverty and emotional breakdowns on the bathroom floor at midnight and trying to raise your child in ignorance of your daily battle with depression. And I'm just not there. She's just mine, and I'm just hers. And she is her and I am me. We complement, not define, one another.
Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of challenges in my life. I'm trying to find a job with a degree in theatre in an economy with about as much stability as a Jenga tower towards the end long, booze-filled game night. I'm a grown woman living with my parents who are, at the best of times, control-freaks with mess-ophobe tendencies. Plus, I hate my haircut. What I mean to say is: I got 99 problems, but the kid ain't one.
It's not a job for me to wake up in the morning and love my daughter. I can't look at her and think "damn, this sucks." Dropping what I'm doing to feed/change/bathe/entertain her is not the low point of my day. And people don't get it. They seem almost disappointed when I'm not upset about being a single mom. As if they don't understand that a woman could have a baby and accept all of the twists and turns on that path. Make no mistake, I am totally lost in the woods at this point in my life. But choosing to have my baby was like finding the iPod in the bottom of my bag. I might have no idea where I'm going, but at least I'll enjoy the walk now.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The more I thought about it, though, the more I could see where she was coming from. Earth Mama aspirations aside, I'm not what most people would call alternative (ok, Kim, get a thesaurus for the love of pete!). However, the definition of that very word could mean a multitude of things. So, like any good geek, I took out my dictionary (read: typed "define: alternative" into my google toolbar) and found this: "pertaining to unconventional choices." Now doesn't that just warm the cockles of your heart? It does mine!
By this definition, I am indeed alternative because I just happen to live in a very white bread, Pleasantville-type city at the moment and I am anything but conventional by those standards. I'm fairly certain my friend based her request for this blog on the fact that I have tattoos, but I won't really be addressing that aspect of the alternative community because there are just so many more fun things to talk about! Suffice it to say that I have tattoos (four of 'em) and I'm a mom. Get over it, people. (See my comments about body modification in this entry.)
Here is a list of things people have given me sideways looks about:
- wearing hats other than baseball caps
- wearing my baby in a Moby Wrap baby carrier
- wearing Chacos
- bringing a reusable mug to the chain coffee shop
- dressing my daughter in "boy" clothes (I'll have to write another entry about the gender binary and it's particular brand of uselessness at a later date)
- wiping my daughter's nose on my shirt
- stating a preference for cloth diapers/homemade baby food/secondhand nursery furniture
But this woman called me out last weekend on the choice of words I used to describe putting my daughter to bed. Really? Was that necessary? The munchkin and I were out with a friend, but it was getting close to her normal bedtime and my friend asked if she would be ok. I noted that my sweet girl was doing just fine, and that she'd probably sleep the whole way home in the car and once there I could "just put her jammies on and throw her into bed and she'll probably never wake up." And this complete stranger turned to me and said "Place. You mean 'place' her into bed."
Let's just clear one thing up here: I DO NOT THROW MY BABY. And if you seriously think I would, you don't know me at all. I turned to her and replied, "Clearly, I wouldn't literally throw her into bed!" I was all geared up for a fight when my friend said "Why not? Don't you think bedtime would be more fun for her that way??" And I lost it. Cracking up, I responded with "Of course I don't throw her in bed. She doesn't even go to bed, really, I leave her on the floor with the dogs. Duh." And this strange woman just stared at us AS IF WE WERE SERIOUS. Whatever happened to benefit of the doubt? Whatever happened to giving people a chance? Whatever happened to common sense?
Now, this woman might have been judging me an unfit mother based on several factors. One: we were in a tattoo shop at the time. It was my daughter's second trip to a tattoo shop and she loves the sound of the tattoo machine. White noise, folks. Comes in all shapes and sizes. It's not like I'd taken her to a Vegas strip club. Hell, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to touch anything in a Vegas strip club myself, no way in hell would I let my daughter in one! But, on the other hand, this woman had her 8 year old son with her as well.
Maybe she made assumptions based on the fact that Care Bear was wearing a "boy" outfit consisting of an white/black onesie with her favorite band's logo and jeans with black socks. In my defense, she was also wearing a color-coordinated headband with a bow. But, then, what does it really matter what a baby wears?
Maybe she was thinking I was a young, teenage mother. I guess I could see that? No, actually, I can't. Even when I was a teenager, I'm pretty sure I didn't look it. Maybe she got the wrong idea from what I was wearing (kids' size skate shoes from Target, anyone?) but I doubt it.
I think she was just nosy. I had forgotten for a few minutes, in this bubble of alternative culture known as the tattoo shop, where exactly I lived. Here, it's not ok to use exaggerative vernacular. (Is that a word? Exaggerative? I looked it up, but you can't always trust google...) Here, it's not ok to wear clothes that make you look like anything other than the picture of a mom. Unfortunately, I'm not just a mom.
I'm young. I'm into body modification and theatre. I like hats and crazy necklaces and plastic vintage bangles. I enjoy brightly colored shoes and loud rock music. And you know what? I'm still a good mom. My personal preferences have nothing to do with my ability to parent my child. And, no matter where I live, I refuse to feel guilty for not giving my entirety up for the sake of my progeny. Because, one day, she'll grow up and she won't need me every minute. And, by Goddess, I intend to have something left of myself to go back to. And I won't apologize for that.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Let me give you some background on this situation. I'm not a bad cook; in fact, I'm pretty good. Once I have a recipe down, or even if I improvise, I churn out pretty tasty food. Ask anyone about my Christmas cookies or spaghetti sauce, I'm pretty much a rockstar at those things that I've mastered. But when it comes to trying a new recipe, I'm the culinary equivalent of a Red Shirt.
You know how a chef will try out a new recipe several times to tweak it just the way they like? I have to try out new recipes several times just to condense all of the errors in "trial and error" into a convenient time frame. This was all totally ok, until I had the realization: I'm going to be that mom whose cupcakes never leave the dessert table at the potluck. Because here's what will happen: I'll note that I have to make something for some important thing. Then I'll look up recipes to get inspired and I'll stumble upon something that seems super easy and delicious. I'll think to myself that a good recipe is a great way to make friends and I'll fantasize about people asking me just how I manage to make such delicious treats. So I'll go with the recipe I've never even seen before and completely cock it up. And, instead of people comparing me to Martha Stewart, I'll accidentally overhear someone refer to me as an absolute spacker and my life will be ruined.
Ok, so some bits of that might be touch melodramatic, but I have a head cold so work with me here. Now, on the other hand, I am a very fast learner. And I never let my failures stop me from trying. I do genuinely love to cook and I really, really enjoy when I do finally get that new technique down or figure out the trick to the fun new recipe. And, also a plus: I usually front-load my cooking adventures with failure. Then I learn the hard lessons all at once, and I can get on with the fun part of tweaking and changing and enjoying the cooking process and basking in the compliments when it's over.
So what did I learn today? That apple chips, if you do it right, are surprisingly easy to make and quite healthy if homemade. I learned that, if you follow a recipe to the T and something doesn't work right, it's most likely operator error and not a bad recipe. And I learned how to get melted wax paper off a cookie sheet: run the hottest possible tap water over it and scrape the ever loving crap out of it with a silicone spatula.
And the only reason I can admit to that publicly is because I know I'll never make that mistake again.
I thought I knew what kind of mom I wanted to be before she was born, and then she came. And having a baby was just challenging enough to keep my mind off all my ideals. But now that she's older, and sleeping through the night (it's early, I know, but that's another post) and on a fabulous routine (also another post, the routine and I have a love/hate relationship...) I'm finding that I have a long way to go.
In my experience, there's a fine line what you wanted and what you got. I had great dreams of decorating the nursery for my first child with my partner by my side, tending to my every hormone-induced whim. I got a (not always happy) surprise and the guest room in my parents' house. I wanted to be that mom that could breastfeed lying down when the baby woke up in the middle of the night. I got cracked nipples and a dwindling milk supply. I wanted to co-sleep and snuggle my baby when we took naps at the same time. I got no naps and I let myself be bullied into keeping her out of my bed.
So it's no surprise that I really wanted to cloth diaper, but now I'm a slave to the disposables. My mother is from the convenience generation. Nipples hurting? Don't worry, just give the baby formula - it's just as good, even better because it's easier! Is the baby overtired and crying? Just let her cry it out while you get on with your business. So she really couldn't understand why anyone would want to go to the trouble of cloth diapering when we could just use disposable. And, since she was paying for everything for the little one, I couldn't really object. Of course, I said. Day cares won't even cloth diaper anyway, I agreed. I nodded and smiled and added three cases of Pampers to my baby registry.
But, really, I didn't research. I have no idea if day cares will cloth diaper - I suspect at least some of them would. Even that shouldn't keep me from cloth diapering at home and on the weekends. And I'm not even working yet, so I could have been cloth diapering (and saving money) for the past three months since I've essentially been a stay at home mom. I'm already doing laundry every other day, how much more work could cloth diapers really be?
The more I research it, the more I want to give it a try. And it bugs me that my parents still aren't behind the idea, because their preferences shape my reality. When we move into our own place (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later) I'm determined to try cloth diapering. Maybe just a weekend trial run. But I'm pretty sure I'll get hooked. Who knows what could come after that? Co-sleeping! Homemade baby food! I also have this great idea for a 1,001 Nights-themed nursery with a huge iron lantern light fixture and lots of drape-y fabric in jewel tones.
And one day, Caroline will wake up in her Moroccan-inspired nursery, I'll throw an adorable cloth diaper on her bum, strap her in the Moby wrap, put on my Chacos and we'll go for a hike. Because that's exactly the kind of mom I wanna be. My inner earth mama is dying to get out and commune with my hippie baby. I'm anxious to start teaching Caroline about the things that are important to me, and I can't let convenience get in the way.
Friday, October 15, 2010
So, I've worked with kids for about 13 years now. I've been a babysitter, a nanny, worked in a daycare, worked in drop-in childcare, volunteered with groups small and large, worked in a church nursery and been a camp counselor. I've done it, so I know how hard it is.
But, really, there's no reason my daughter should come home from her second week of daycare with a diaper rash when she's never had one before ever. I'm not exactly anal retentive (har har) about changing her diaper when it's wet at home, so how long are they leaving her to sit in her own urine that she's got a rash on her butt? That's just ridiculous.
Ugh, I sound so smug. So "if I can take care of her by myself and do myriad other household chores, how can two of you not make sure to change her diaper?" When, in reality, I know exactly how hard it is for two adults to care for eight infants in one room. I know, I know, I know it's a challenge to do that and I know, I know, I know that sometimes you don't get to things as fast as you should and you kick yourself for it. But there's really nothing to be done, that's just the reality.
And, of course, she could just be getting a diaper rash because that's what happens when one sits in one's own urine for any length of time at all - like a baby does in a diaper. It could have absolutely nothing to do with the caregivers at daycare. In fact, it could be entirely my fault.
But I'm emotionally incapable of admitting that I could have failed - even in some small way - during the same week that she's gone to daycare for the first time.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I Am Not Yours
Words by Sarah Teasdale
Arrangement by Z. Randall Stroope
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
It has become evident to me that single moms are perceived as lust-driven, sexually starved cast-offs who would jump at the chance to fuck anybody who paid them a compliment. THIS IS NOT OK. Yes, I got knocked up once. No, that doesn't mean I'm easy. Yes, we are sexual creatures, so are goldfish and so are you. That doesn't mean we're driven only by those impulses when it comes to romantic interactions. And I'm not anybody's cast-off. In the immortal words of Princess Jasmine, "I am a prize to be won."
We are beautiful, confident women with beautiful, precious blessings of children. And, on behalf of single moms everywhere, I make this statement: We will not be your new puppies! We will not act like the poor little creatures at the pound who will go home with anyone who scratches behind their ears. We're not going out with you so you will adopt us, we don't need you to take care of us. And we sure as shit aren't gonna sleep with you on the first date to make you want us. If you're on a date with this fine specimen of womanhood, and you don't want me, you're doing it wrong.
It's a gift to be brought into my life, a gift bestowed on very few. If you don't appreciate that gift, I will take it back and exchange it for something I could use. Like a little bit of self-respect. Anyone can recognize my beauty and attractiveness. But it takes strength to pursue me for who I am. And if you can't do that, I don't want you.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Many sleepless nights followed this epiphany until I finally had it figured out. Now that I know where I want to end up, I find myself on a series of convoluted side streets. I can see exactly where I want to be, but I have no clue how to get there...that scout badge sure isn't helping now. Maybe I just need to persist. Maybe I need to make a map. Maybe I just need to ditch the car and walk. But I'll figure it out, mark my words.
Having that figured out really takes the pressure off and infuses me with new-found motivation. It's a lot easier to want to go back to work when I know what I'm working towards. One thing that's way less intimidating now is romance. Now, I was never great at this before I had a baby and my new priorities don't really lend themselves to being trifled with for the sake of a good snog. To more fully examine the dating/romance scenario, we'll have to set aside a few things that infuriate me:
-the double standard of dating which requires women to be demure, coy and borderline ignorant in the name of finding love
-the complete lack of honest communication between people at the outset of a relationship
-the concept of sex as the desired end result of a date
-the absence of a good mascara in my makeup kit
Those are all topics for another day, preferably with a stiff drink and a healthy dose of feminism. As I was saying, I was never great at the whole romance thing before Carrie came along. I'm wawkward and neurotic with social anxiety. I have body issues and sometimes talk out of my ass when placed on the spot. I don't like to eat in front of people. All of these are good reasons why dates are a bad idea for me. Now that I've had this great shift in my priorities, though, there's pretty much no pressure. I know what I want and I know that I'm going to get it. So, really, dating is more like a screening process. I'm thinking of having cards made up that just say:
"Hello. I'm pleased to hear of your interest in my personality and body in a romantic way. My interests and hobbies are unimportant to you at this time. My goals for a relationship are X, Y and Z; I will settle for nothing less than X and Z. If you are still interested in beginning a romantic relationship, please respond via email. Thank you."
But can I really just come out and say that? Say, for example, that someone had expressed interest in me and it seems that our minds are on the same page. Would I really be able to put aside my self-doubt and be as up front as I wish everyone would be with me? That remains to be seen, but I think it would go something like this:
"On the highway of life, my directions have me taking the Stability exit to the city of Housewifery. If there's nothing to interest you at that exit, you'll need to find a different ride."
Because, and this is the point: I have a human being to love, support and cherish. I don't have time for petty games. I have a very specific picture of what I want in this life for both myself and my daughter. Either get on, or get out of the way.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Which brings me to a realization: more people should tell me how great I look for having just had a baby. No, really. Not that I need the ego boost, but that I need the reminder. It's so easy to lose sight of the amazing things my body has done over the past 11 months because I'm blinded by my huge ass not fitting into my favorite pre-baby skirt. So, next time you see me: tell me I look great. Even if you don't mean it :)
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I've been thinking lately about just what it is that I believe. As a UU, it's easy for me to be lazy and say that anything can have spiritual meaning without ever really determining where I find it. So, here it is: my truth.
I believe in Love, and I believe It is good. I believe we're all going to the same place, but how much we enjoy the journey is up to us. I believe in priorities - being happy is my number 1.
I believe in the miracle that is my daughter and I believe man alone cannot make that brand of perfect. I believe that childhood is beautiful. I believe in magic and whimsy, so I can give them to my children before they lose the faith. (Right about the time they start dating, I'd guess.)
I believe in wearing sexy knickers, even if no one will see them but you.
I believe my body is an amazing feat of engineering. I believe it is beautiful. But, just like a gorgeous house, I still want to add a personal touch. I don't judge you based on your curtains, don't judge me based on my body art.
I believe in the healing powers of music, water, coffee and friends. I believe that work goes more smoothly with love, and wine goes better with gossip.
I believe in reading. Pulp or Poe, it all evercises your brain. I believe cardio isn't the only neccessary exercise for your heart.
I believe sit-ups can be bad for you, and junk food can be good. (I believe I almost failed my college health class for this exact reason.)
I believe in honesty in communication. I believe in communication in relationships. I believe first dates don't have to be awkward but that, sometimes, it's part of the fun.
I believe in regional dialects, sweater vests and "cranium accessories" - everyone looks better with shades or a hat.
I believe in strutting when I walk. Mother Nature didn't give me wide hips for nothing. If you've got it, flaunt it. Like Ula.
I believe in driving in the mountains with beautiful music playing, and putting my arm out the window to touch the clouds.
And, because I'm UU, I believe that all these small wonders are holy. And I believe that your small victories are holy, too. Where do you find truth and meaning?
1 - How does one go about celebrating Halloween (or any holiday, come to that) for a child so young that he or she will neither understand nor remember said holiday?
2 - Do I dress up?
Let's begin. Other than the photos we'll take - which won't be many, knowing my track record for keeping the camera handy - how will anyone even remember this event in the context of Caroline? Even in the course of the questions everyone asks about their childhoods, the chosen costume for the first Halloween doesn't usually come up. So, do I dress her and pass out candy? Do we go trick-or-treating with my older sister and her kids? Do we just have a normal night? This last option appeals to me the least, because Halloween is my second favorite holiday (right after my birthday) and skipping it altogether seems...lame. (Bear with me here, I'm too tired for vocabulary).
This leads me to choice number two: do I dress up? Once I got too old to go trick-or-treating, I always volunteered to pass out candy. And, every year, I dressed up to do it. Somehow, my parents were still surprised when I decided to major in theatre, but that's another post. I would go all out with the SFX makeup and thought-out costumes. I even invented backstory for the characters I became each Halloween. When I got to college, more of the same (except now with beer!) So, this will be the first Halloween that not about me. But, honestly, I want to dress up. I feel like this is one of those little things that makes me who I am and I don't want to lose sight of that. On the other hand, I might just look like a complete weirdo all dressed up and surrounded by adults in street clothes.
I may or may not have had a perfect middle ground: I could always dress up as a new mom. Put a burp cloth over my shoulder, clip a pacifier to myself, exaggerate the dark circles under my eyes and strap the baby in her carrier. Seems kind of lame, though, if you ask me. I mean, last year, I wore a corset. Just sayin.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Realization: walking through the mall with Johnny Depp attracts only slightly more attention than walking through the same mall with an adorable baby. This is why I practice my witty one-liners. For example: Stranger - "She's gorgeous!" Me - "Thanks! I made her myself!"
Realization: You gotta have your priorities in order. (I could care less is my laundry if piled to the ceiling, but I wash baby clothes every two days just so I can have my favorite burp cloths handy.)
Realization: I haven't been pessimistic since Caroline started smiling. I tried to get a picture of her smiling, but I just wasn't fast enough on the draw. It didn't bother me, though, because it just meant I could keep all of her smiles to myself.
Realization: If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. Your mother does not know your baby better than you. She's really fine, Mom, take a chillaxitive. Today, my mother picked up Caroline when she was crying. As I proceeded to make Carrie Bear's bedtime bottle, my mother floundered. The baby kept crying, and all my mother could do was rock back and forth and say "She's crying." Yes, she is crying. And she's fine. And you're flipping out. Kind of made me feel better about myself, I'm not gonna lie.
Realization: Contrary to popular belief, love is not all you need. Sometimes you need a babysitter and an afternoon alone. And that's totally ok.
Realization: I sing Caroline the same lullaby my other sang to me. And she loves it. And that makes my heart glow; I feel like I'm passing on a tradition.
Thank you, and Goodnight.
Friday, August 27, 2010
This realization stems from my lovely postpartum checkup. And, by "lovely," I mean "incredibly uncomfortable on multiple levels." Ostensibly, this visit is a chance for the mother to ask any questions she may have about the healing process and for the doctor to determine that said process is progressing normally. In real life, though, the appointment has two purposes: to evaluate birth control options and to give the new mom a green light to resume having sex. Let's just break this down, shall we?
I've just spent nine months growing a baby, 5 of them hugely pregnant. I've peed myself due to the pressure exerted on my bladder. I've pushed a child out of my womb, tearing the remains of my hymen out with her. I've had stitches in places needles should never go. I've sat on ice packs and taken painkillers. And now, just as I'm feeling better, some gynecologist wants to shove a forearm into me and push on my belly. Then she says that I can resume normal intercourse - as if I'd even want to think about it after all of this!! They really ought to wait and talk about birth control after the exam, since it would at that point be moot. Realization: my doctor has more faith in my recovery than I do, but maybe that's because it wasn't her that got the stitches...
Which brings me back to our Our Lady of Perpetual Nursing: Michelle Duggar. This woman is fully committed to an almost masochistic degree. She has given birth, on average, about every 18 months. If she spends nine of those months pregnant, she conceives 9 months postpartum. Is she some kind of sex machine, or will I also be back to normal by my 9-month mark? My perception is probably just skewed because it's only been 7 weeks. Michelle Duggar is probably just like everyone else. Still, maybe best to send that fruit basket just in case. Can't hurt to cover your bases, right?
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Realization: it is nearly impossible to find a public changing table when you need one. Seriously, you guys? It's maybe a couple hundred bucks for the hunk of plastic and the install, that's it. Think of all the customers and patrons that you could please with a simple bit of molded plastic bolted to the wall of your already less-than-stellar ladies' or men's room. But, no, I'm left to my own devices which is one of the following two options:
Option 1 - I change my baby's diaper in my car. Not really and option for me, though, since I drive a two-door car with limited trunk space. I can't climb into the backseat to change her diaper there, and the entire trunk is full with a stroller the size of Optimus Prime and other baby accoutrements. So, I can't use that flat surface, either.
Option 2 - I get angry and change her diaper on a table/on the slide/in the middle of frozen foods just to stick it to the cheap and ageist Man. I haven't done this yet, but I can feel it coming on and let me tell you: vengeance feels good.
So what's a new mom to do? I just got into the swing of changing her diaper at home, what on earth am I supposed to do in public with no changing table? Is there some part of the New Mom Handbook that addresses this? I must have skipped over it! Somebody, quick! Link me to the Spark Notes!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Phase 1, in which they try to seem genuinely upset for me, since I seem to be ok with the situation: (head tilt) "So you're on your own, then?
--No, I just made up the story of her absentee father for sympathy. Yes, we're on our own, obviously.
Phase 2, in which they test an assumption they believe to be unique to themselves: "But you have a strong support network, right?"
--Ok, this is actually a valid question. Yes, we do have an excellent support network of family and friends.
Phase 3, in which the head tilt returns: (head tilt) "Well, you know what they say. It takes a village to raise a child!"
--Yes, I know what they say. They all say it. This proverb ranks right under "What a beautiful baby!" and "All you did today was take care of Caroline?!" for things I hear most often.
And then, during a conversation with Caroline's godmother, I had a Realization: When you hear the same things over and over again, you can really appreciate a well-spoken friend.
Because, really, I don't live in a village. And, even if I did, I'm sure a significant portion of the citizens of said village would have nothing to do with raising my child. Instead, I will choose to highlight the product-over-process aspect of child rearing en masse. I will no longer make any claims about childhood in villages. I will proudly proclaim to the world my views on group child rearing: Raising a baby is a team sport. Thank God I've got such a good first string.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Not to say that she won't, someday, love the stuffing out of me. But, right now, she's as oblivious as Lindsay Lohan. She knows who I am, sure, but she isn't capable of loving me back just yet. I'm not going to lie, it hurts. It sucks to know that she's only smiling because of the totally ridiculous look on my face and the high pitch of my voice. It sucks to know that she's learning that I'll take care of her when she cries, but she has no capacity to appreciate it. I feel a bit exploited. I feel like she's playing me to get what she wants, almost. Like a teenage girl will string along a gamer boy just to reap the benefits of his unchecked regard for her. Is that normal?
Hell, we'll just call it normal to silence my neuroses. Some of them, at least. What if she never loves me the way I love her? And, similarly, what if it's not possible for her to love me the way I love her? What if she eventually treats me the way I treat my mother - like a distant, crazy relative? One day, I'll have to stop marveling at her toes and kissing her tummy and ruffling her hair. Because she won't want me to do those things anymore, one day. One day, she'll hold her friends' opinions in higher regard than she does mine. And, one day, she just might (heaven forbid) tell me she hates me in a fit of anger. My heart is already breaking just thinking about it.
And, just like that wawkward (not a typo: a contraction of "weird" and "awkward") teenage gamer boy, I'm moved to care for her unendingly. I want to write her letters explaining how perfect she is. I want to write poetry about her eyes and her smile. I want to make playlists and mixed CDs and never stop talking about her. And she just wants someone, anyone, to wipe the poo off her butt. Ah, love.
Saving Jane - Come Down to Me
Adele - Make You Feel My Love
U2 - Wild Honey
Hanson - Sure About It
Macy Gray - I'm So Glad You're Here
Angels and Airwaves - The Adventure
Beatles - Two Of Us
Neil Diamond - Sweet Caroline
Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine
Beyonce - Halo
Yellowcard - Miles Apart
Brandi Carlile and Elton John - Caroline
Ari Hest - Caught Up In Your Love
Athens Boys Choir - Daffodils and Macrame
Avett Brothers - Ballad of Love and Hate
Billie Holiday - Blue Moon
Bing Crosby - It Had to Be You
Monday, August 9, 2010
So, really, I'm not any more sleep-deprived now that my bundle of joy has arrived than I have ever been. It is, however, a completely different type of tired that I was unaccustomed to. When friends and family members warned me that I would lose sleep, I falsely assumed that the reason would be frequent feedings. That it simply not the case, although changing diapers and making bottles at 4am doesn't help. The real reason I'm tired is our next Realization: every noise a baby makes in his or her sleep is utterly terrifying.
Even when I know she's fine - I've just changed her diaper and fed and burped her - and she's passed out like Nikki Sixx in 1987, I can't help checking on her when she makes any sort of wonky noise. Or just to make sure she's breathing. Or just to make sure she hasn't spit up and begun to choke to death on it. Or just to make sure her blanket is arranged properly for optimum comfort. Or just to make sure she's not too hot or too cold. (I hope you get my point here, because that whole paragraph is making my inner grammar freak twitch a bit around the eyes.)
Especially right after a bottle, she gets this kind of glottal mucus-y sound in the back of her throat when she breathes. It's totally ok and normal, except that it terrifies me. Last week she had a bit of a cold and I would lay in bed at night, afraid to fall asleep. Just listening for her breathing to make sure she was still alive. Every change in her breathing pattern had me sitting up, staring into her bassinet to make sure she was ok. And, oh Lord, when she wheezed. I would think to myself "was that a stuffy nose wheeze, or a SIDS death rattle?!" and, no matter how much I told myself she was fine, I'd had to get up and check on her just to be sure.
Now, I don't want you to think I live in fear. I don't. I'm certain that Caroline will be ok, I really am. But I'm not stupid. I was also certain that my period was just late. It never hurts to double check.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I've always been very into creating and living a persona. I like to plan outfits around a specific look, then act the part. I can almost guarantee that I'd hold my pinky out while drinking if I'm wearing a dress and heels. However, all of my experience in this arena was by choice. Even more so than pregnancy, birth changes your self-perception. During pregnancy, your body changes gradually over a 9- or 10-month period, giving you plenty of time to adjust to said changes and integrate them into your perception of yourself and into the perceptions those around you have. Birth essentially undoes all of that work in a matter of hours or even minutes, without your conscious consent. It's a challenge, to say the least.
Maybe this viewpoint grows out of a discontent with my birth experience. I had wanted to go med-free but caved after two days of back labor and got the epidural as soon as they would let me. After the spinal block, I promptly fell asleep since I'd been sleepless for both of the nights I'd been laboring at home; therefore, I wasn't as involved in the decision-making progress as I would have liked to be. I distinctly remember the doctor breaking my water; not because I felt anything - I didn't - but because he took my baby belly from me. I'd gained all my baby weight in my belly and nowhere else, my belly was beautiful. It was perfectly round and high. I thought about it as a big egg, sometimes, inside my belly. And after he broke my water, my belly collapsed around my baby, leaving something I didn't recognize. My beautiful, swollen belly had been turned into a flaccid sack with the tiny, writhing figure of my baby inside. I wasn't ready for that, and I didn't have time to process that change at all.
And this is only the beginning. Actually having the baby is a whole other story. In 6 hours, my body had completely morphed from pregnant to post-pregnant. It's not like it reverted to pre-pregnancy status, something I would have recognized as mine. It became something else, something completely new, that I'd never seen before and didn't identify with. It's only now, weeks later, that I'm finding the ability to figure out what this change means for me. I'd never really been happy with my body until I was pregnant, and it's a bit of a rude awakening to crash back to a state of dissatisfaction after riding such a high of self-esteem for so long.
I can understand, now, why a woman would want to have more than 1 child. It's intoxicating, being pregnant is.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Maybe it's just me, but I can't make myself really enjoy the nice, long shower. It bothers me that Caroline is asleep and I'm indisposed to save her life, if that need should arise. Even with the baby monitor right next to the shower, I'm afraid I won't hear her if she cries. I check the baby monitory every few minutes (shampoo, check monitor, rinse hair, check monitor, apply conditioner, check monitor...) This behavior is not only obsessive, but also counter-productive, since it causes me to take even longer in the shower and thus, away from my baby. It's similar to the way a socially anxious person checks their cell phone religiously to make sure they haven't missed any calls or texts. Really, there was never a call to begin with, put the phone down, Captain Awkward. (It's not mean, I'm really referring to myself here, anyways.)
Maybe one day I'll be ok with this. In the meantime, I'll continue to take shorter (?) showers and switch off days of hair washing and leg shaving to trim that time down and get back to being a Mama.
Friday, July 30, 2010
"Mama just needs to pee before you start freaking out..." And other things you thought you'd never say.
Realization #10 - A pacifier is a lot like a snooze button
I abruptly pause in the middle of brushing my teeth and look up, like a meerkat, and cock my head to listen more intently for the first stirrings of a hungry baby. Toothbrush balanced on my molars and t-shirt only halfway on, I creep slowly up to the bassinet to see just how awake she is. Her perfect little eyes begin to flutter open and I seize my chance to pop the pacifier in her mouth, effectively buying myself about four and half minutes. And the best part? I can do this more than once! This morning, I managed to brush my teeth, get dressed, wash my face, make the bed, make a bottle, eat a bowl of cereal, check my email, take my meds and have a glass of water before she finally got tired of the pacifier.
The concept of the pacifier as snooze button gets still better: it can buy Mama a couple more minutes of sleep as well. Sometimes, little Carrie will jerk in her sleep and wake herself up (usually because my sweet thing manages to smack herself in the face when she jerks...we're going to start working on kinesthetic awareness...) and get fussy. I mean, you would wake up, too. If I have a pacifier handy when that happens, and she'll take it, she'll just go right back to sleep without me having to get her up and rock her back to sleep. You have to be kind of quick on the draw for that one, though.
In conclusion...I don't have a conclusion, cause I'm currently being overwhelmed by my urge to snuggle with Carrie. Duty calls!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
That should be my mantra right now.
Realization#8: No matter how well-intentioned the advice, nobody knows your baby like you do.
It's really hard to be tactful when my mom says "she doesn't like when the infant seat vibrates." How the hell would you know? I put her in that shit, flip the switch and she passes out. She's only crying now because you pressured me to put her in the seat instead of holding her AND SHE WANTS TO BE HELD. Which is another fun one: "you can't hold her all the time, just put her down." You know what? No. I want to hold her, I like holding her and she likes to be held. It's important for us to bond physically. So shut up and let me parent my child. Kthnxbai.
In conclusion, I don't recommend being rude to people who say stupid shit about what your baby likes and dislikes after spending five minutes with them. However, it's kosher like Hebrew National to be honest with these folks and say "Actually, she loves that! She just wants to be held right now, but she'll calm down in a minute." (And then rant on your blog about how obnoxious people are...)
Caroline is 17 days old. I have washed 10 loads of her laundry since we came home from the hospital. I have done two loads of my own laundry. I have never before viewed my pack-rat ways with such thankfulness in my heart. If I weren't a pack-rat, I wouldn't have the umpteen t-shirts sitting in my dresser, making washing my clothes virtually unnecessary. Because, really, it's ok to wear jeans more than once before you wash them. However, between spit-up, baby pee, and my boobs leaking, I'm going through t-shirts like Kanye goes through sunglasses. Which leads us to...
Realization #7: The definition of "clean clothes" can be tweaked to make you feel better about your ability to care for yourself.
I'm not saying that I doubt my ability to care for myself, but I do sometimes doubt my ability to balance caring for myself and caring for my newborn. And I'm pretty sure my greasy hair and rioting pores would agree with that. Sometimes my definition of "clean clothes" is simply "a fresh shirt and socks." Sometimes it's more like "changing from one pair of pajamas into another." Sometimes it's "I'm pretty sure I washed these before I put them on...wait, how long have I been wearing this?" And that's ok. Because, at the end of the day, unless someone nearby can smell the eau de breastmilk and stinky diaper all over me like white on rice, it's all good. Nobody expects you to be a fashionista with a new baby. Besides, wearing pajamas for days on end at home makes getting dressed to go somewhere that much more exciting.
Monday, July 26, 2010
So, under these two conditions, how does my body produce my baby's food?? Which leads me to a new Realization now: the crazy shit your body does while preggo is almost nothing compared to what will happen after the baby comes. Trust me on this. Between making milk, your milk letting down, your boobs leaking milk (usually right after you've showered or put on fresh clothes), the stitches you undoubtedly got for the episiotomy/tearing...your body is a veritable war zone. Your body VS. sleep, that's what we'll call it. How could it be anything else? You've spent 9 months building up a huge store of hormones, only to dump all of them out of your bloodstream in two weeks. Can we just have a moment to process that?? It's no wonder new moms get the "baby blues" (which is a really stupid name, but that's another post)!
And, another Realization: just when you hit your stride in a blog post, the baby wakes up. Time to make a bottle and change a nappy for mo chuisle.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
#1 - Just because I can fit back into my pre-baby pants doesn't mean they look good. There's no shame in wearing maternity pants for a little while longer. Better yet - yoga pants! They always fit!
#2 - I should have added some cute hats to my baby registry. Because, baby or no baby, nobody deserves to see my hair looking like this.
Not that I knew it was labor, per se. I'd already been sent home from the hospital once, and I didn't feel like Team Caroline needed another false labor episode. So, I just figured I was having strong practice contractions and chalked it up to dehydration. Oh, what fools we mortals be.
It didn't occur to me that something was amiss until after the movie, when the contractions were so strong that I could barely eat. If you knew me, and my deep love for the Mexican restaurant we were patronizing, you would know this to be a red flag. And, as I sipped my water and pondered the state of my full plate and empty stomach, I realized that my water may have broken that morning and I would have had no idea. This is when things got interesting.
Long story short, I was sent home from the hospital again that night after an ultrasound and some IV fluids, still only 1cm dilated. The contractions didn't stop, though, and I spent a very restless night attempting to doze off between them as they grew stronger. More of the same the next day and night. Until, finally, we went back to the hospital 30 hours after being discharged to find that I was 5cm dilated and in active labor.
Two epidurals, three popsicles and a short nap later, Caroline Miranda came into the world. And here we are, having a great adventure and learning along the way.