Monday, February 28, 2011

One minute she's happy

and then - without the courtesy of an eye rub or a yawn, she's 15lbs of red-eyed screaming, kicking, overly-tired sadness.

And I am prone to taking that personally which is about the most stupid thing a parent could do, isn't it?  Unfortunately, issues of sleep don't inspire rationality on the part of, well, anyone.  There's a reason one of our favorite forms of accepted torture is leaving the lights on and keeping people awake.  Eventually it is physically painful.

I'm not going to complain today, though.  That's not why I'm writing today.  I'm writing today because I noticed something when that screaming ball of tired took the paci and fell asleep.  And it was amazing.

She got lighter.  Softer and snuglier, I expected.  I did not expect this feeling of lightness - the full trust and faith she has in me - and how her whole body just. . . releases. I can't help but feel as though there's a metaphor for faith in all of this, but today's not the day I'm going to make it.  Today I'm just going to feel her lightness and recognize that if I had an easy sleeper she'd be in the crib and not in my arms and all of this would have escaped me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ssssssshhhhhhh. . . I'm hiding in the shower.

Or, rather, I was hiding. From the 3 month old baby.  Or,well, not really,I guess I was hiding from life.  For just a few minutes.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my life, I do.  I love teaching and blogging and raising kids.  It's unbelieveably awesome.

But my god this to-do list.  Holy crap.

First there's the have to do.  Then it's the really should do.  Also the honestly if you don't do it the place will fall apart.  That other sticky note?  That's the if you do this the short people will stop screaming at you list.

My to-do list is simply a list of lists.   My husband's favorite movie is Inception and I swear to you, our lists are working the same way - except rather than lengthening time each time we uncover a list below a list, we dramatically shorten it.  And there's no kick to escape from it all.

But there is the shower.  Why do I like the shower?  Because in the shower I cannot read the lists, nor can I attempt to do, half-heartedly, stuff from five different lists.  I can only shower. Is it any wonder today's was long enough as to be just a tiny bit shameful?  Oh the wasted water.  And time.  Wasting things wasn't on any of my lists today.

Off to find a Sharpie and reorganize my lists.  So very much easier than tackling them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

To the woman at Cilantros -

You over there.  The one with the quads.  I'm certain you get a lot of attention and I'm even more certain that your journey to parenthood was rife with struggle and pain.  Perhaps losses.  Perhaps infertility.  Perhaps both.

Mine was too.

But this isn't about your four children of the same age or my three children 4 years apart in age.  This is about your eyes.  Rolling.  While looking my way.  While the entire restaurant shuddered under the deafening tones of the emergency escape alarm that my son set off with his butt.

It is about you judging me.

And it is about karma.

And finally comes this:  One day you will not remember this moment as one or two or three or four of your children do something stupid and asinine, something so unbelieveably embarassing you can only do what I was doing when you rolled your eyes at me: stare blankly at the restaurant of people and think to yourself "I cannot wait to post about this on Facebook." When that moment happens, I will know.  An excited tickle will crawl up my spine and I will know that you, too, are finally and fully a parent.

God bless you.  God bless those beautiful babies.  And God bless the moment you discover yourself a teensy tiny bit less judgmental of all parents.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Cold Coffee Conundrum

I was just discussing the topic of cold coffee with another mother-artist friend of mine and had to come home and write this. We were talking about multitasking and motherhood and writing and reflected that this is a time in our life when we don't get enough time to sit down to finish a cup of coffee (the baby fusses in the carseat as I write this - which means I won't finish this post either) while it's warm.

And it occurred to me that I've gone one step further.  I've gone so far down the rabbit-hole of cold coffee as to actually notice the occasions in which I get to drink it hot and miss the fact that every day is cold coffee day. Times when I drink coffee hot:  1).  Church social hour. 2). Waiting rooms when something bad happens. 3). When my husband brings me Starbucks. 4). At 5:45 am to prep for my early morning composition course. And finally 5). When I was in the hospital alone with the newborn and the rest of the family was at home (note the past tense used there: I will not be enjoying this time again, so I look back upon it whistfully, despite or perhaps because of the percocet).

There was a time in my life when I drank my coffee in peace - and hot.  At one point, I was a full-on coffee snob with a dedicated ritual of grinding, sniffing, brewing, sniffing some more, and then, at last, drinking my delightful coffee just at the edge of "too hot".  I started adding cream and or milk right about then - just to take the fresh-brewed mouth-searing-nature away and replace it with warm (and did you know this: coffee with cream stays warm longer than coffee without cream!), deliciousness. If it got cold - or my guest's coffee got cold, I'd offer a "warm up" or a "top off" to bring back the heat.

I once read that in a study, coffee drinkers can identify the difference in sound between the pouring of hot coffee and the pouring of cold coffee.  I was amazed, first of all, that anyone considered researching the distinction -- but secondly that anyone had the time to care, because by the time I read the study, I was a parent.

As a parent, I no longer practice my sweet coffee-shop-snob ritual of coffee brewing.  Instead, I rush into the kitchen to the sounds of Can I have another waffle screamed over the baby crying, grab the coffee carafe, with coffee in it from yesterday or the day before that or the day before that, pour it into a pint glass, add a splash of milk (that I've grabbed from behind 3 pumped bottles, a half jar of strawberry jelly that dribbled its contents all over, and a beer that I wish I were drinking but it's before noon so not. quite. yet.) and run to tend other people, my coffee the neglected in this scenario. Or, if I shake the carafe and it's empty (which happens every day or two depending on the sleep I got the night before), I'm running to grab the baby, measuring out Folgers in my right hand while I bounce the baby in the left, saying sssshhhhh, it's okay it's okay it's okay please let mommy get her coffee while counting scoops in my head, and then standing over the pot whispering come on come on come on as it slowly dribbles along, clueless as to my addicted plight. 

I guess we've identified a 6th time when I get hot coffee:  the moment as it's brewing that I pull the pot out with it's 2 inches of jet fuel in it, pour that into a cup, splash in some milk (leftover, of course, from the kids' breakfast, most likely), and take a gulp which is nearly always followed by the feeling that 1) Folgers is coffee's satanic brother and 2) hot coffee is HOT.

Just in the past month, it occurred to me that if I put the coffee in the carafe while it's still warm - it might stay warm, and I've begun doing so - even heating the carafe up ahead of time with a fill-up of piping hot water.  This keeps my carafed coffee hot for well over 24 hours (good carafe, Walmart. Thank you!) and yet does nothing for the cup - which will be poured and lost on any variety of flat surfaces while I chase the children around (children who seem to wake up with the energy it takes 6 cups for me to have. I swear, is there a LaMarzocco in their bathroom?  And if there is, why the frak did we give it to CHILDREN?).

As I write this, I spy three cups - most likely filled with some version of lukewarm to ice-cold coffee.  My father wonders why I drink iced-coffee in the summer.  Silly man. Meanwhile, my friend today proved her genius:  she explained that she only drinks coffee out of thermos cups, as they keep it warm until she needs it. A working solution to the cold coffee conundrum.

I could kiss her.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In this dream,

I have lost you.  Somehow, in the midst of taking care of the older two in the park by the river, you've gone missing. It is winter - bright white and snowy and the water in the river courses around small islands of ice. And I return home, empty-armed.  Then suddenly, it is spring and I'm enjoying the sunshine with the older two - but there at the bank of the river, there you are, face-down in the water and lost forever.

This was my second terrible nightmare in as many weeks. The first is too terrible to recount.  Both were woven with my fears and inadequacies as a parent - and are nightmares which I feel I could not survive. I don't know what to do with them - I can't get them out of my head - these images that are now tacked on to the vague fears I have as a parent.  Over these past three years of wanting - then seeking - then getting our third child, I've been wracked with guilt and fear and an underlying feeling that we weren't getting pregnant with a healthy third child because I was not a worthy mother. And even more so, because I didn't deserve another child.

In fact, I was fairly certain at one point that I didn't deserve the two children I had, let alone another.  Everything I did was wrong somehow - snapping at the kids, not playing long or hard enough, not eating enough good, organic foods or doing enough hands-on projects with each other.  I wasn't hacking it as a mom and it was clear that the Universe was telling me as much.

In these past few years, though, I've come to the place as a mother where I realize that the act of parenting carries with it a series of feelings of inadequacy - whether that is true or not.  In fact, I wonder if, among the best parents, there's a high population of those who feel like they didn't do enough, didn't deserve the amazing miracles that are their children, and, perhaps, could have done better. I don't know, I really don't. I do know that even now - to his well-adjusted thirty-something daughter, my father will occasionally apologize for ills and injustices that, to be honest, I've not ever spent much time resenting.

So I've come to the point now where, nightmares be damned, I feel like I am a great mom.  Or maybe just a good mom.  Or maybe just okay.

But I'll tell you what -- my kids are fantastic.

They are witty and smart and rambunctious.  They have no fear - or few fears.  They are creative and energetic.  They are fairly well-behaved in public.  They have deep friendships and they want to be with me. If I've gotten all of that out of less-than-spectacular parenting -- just think of what's ahead of us.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tim's living in Portlandia.

I was going to blog about this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dream I had, but I'll be honest - the very idea of repeating it sends me into an anxiety attack, my heart in my throat.

So screw that.  I'm going to talk to you now about plastic bags.

Several years ago, I committed to a life of carry-your-own-canvas-bag-shopping.  It's fabulous - the bags are big enough to hold 3-4 plastig bags' worth of groceries and they have handles, making the trip from car to house much easier. However, my husband is not sold.  As he's done the majority of grocery shopping in the past 2 years, and as such, we've gathered mountains upon mountains of plastic bags.

I cannot stand them, so I've begun trying to do something with them - and that something is. . . making shopping bags.

Last night, as Tim watched me making yarn from plastic grocery bags (it's called plarn.  How quaint!), he told me he felt like he was stuck in the episode of Portlandia with the dumpster diving segment.  "Ahhh, look!  It's a Koala!"

If you haven't seen Portlandia -- please, please, oh please, give it a look see.

Monday, February 7, 2011

To the woman in the Post Office

who practically spat at me when I said "Excuse me" to collect priority boxes and ready my packages:

Thank you.  You could not have contrasted more brilliantly with the radio news piece I heard upon returning to my car - about a homeless girl who earned a scholarship to Harvard and was given a hand-up by people of all walks of life when her story became public.

Her voice, over the radio, was everything yours was not.

So thank you for your rudeness.  It made a feel good piece on NPR feel even better.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oh, I'm all the rage in Latvia!

That's right, I see you Latvia.  I've finally discovered the "stats" section here on Blogger and got that pretty pretty map with the green shading that shows where your readership is.  I figure 99% of the United States hits are simply me refreshing the page to up my page count - or, of course, to read the occasionaly comment 72 times and pat myself on the back for it -- but I've discovered that my Sharpies post has been read nearly 300 times!  I feel so. . . loved. Or maybe just Sharpies are loved.

I'm trying to be better about blogging - but I'm still struggling to find my niche, because I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU about EVERYTHING.  I mean, honestly, I could go on and on about apostrophes, motherhood, television shows, and Nathan Fillion for decades, or until Nathan Fillion shows up on my doorstep in his sweet electric car (yes, I've read your blog). Anyhow, when you have so MUCH to say, you never quite know WHAT to say. No worries. I'll figure it out. I promise.

Oh, but back to my point (it's around here somewhere).  Blogging's sometimes a quiet experience.  I pull out my virtual soapbox, yawp from the rooftops, or type out some half-awake-drivel and sort of barf it into the Google search engines with no real idea of who's here.  Or why.

So if you're here. . . just this once. . . tell me who you are, how you found me, and what you'd like me to tell you!  That includes you, Latvia!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Newsflash: Because it's a baby

Cruising a local parenting site recently, I can't help but respond to a few things. For those of you who are members there, I adore you and these aren't about YOU. They're a broad response to the ladies on the 0-3 month section of the site. And it's as much a note to ME as it is to them, because even I need these reminders.

Dear ladies with less than 3 month olds:

You've recently had a baby. Congratulations! I'd now like to respond to several of your recent questions. No, I'm no specialist. I've been a parent for 9 years and thus have come to a variety of conclusions about children based solely on my own experience with three wonderful, lively, needy little munchkins. I'd now like to respond to a bevvy of your recent complaints.

Why won't he sleep in the crib? Because he's a baby. He spent 10 months growing in the womb listening to the loud noises of your heartbeat, feeling the warmth of your body heat. He wants to be next to you and I can't blame him. Certainly you can decide to accustom him to the crib, rather than using it as a folding table for the mounds of clean laundry that are piling up (hello snapshot into my home), but he won't naturally want to be there. Because, naturally-speaking, it's in his best interest to stay close to mom and not, say, be eaten by lions.

Why won't she sleep? Because she's a baby and while it seems totally and unreasonably counter intuitive, I've come to realize those little creatures don't just COME knowing how to sleep. Well, not all of them. Some do - and those mothers should excuse themselves from this blog before I find them and burn the maternity pants they surely aren't wearing because they've had time while the baby sleeps to work out which is, I realize, a useless punishment but I'm not thinking straight because I haven't slept in more than 2 1/2 hour increments for the past 9 1/2 weeks. Back to the question: But some babies don't naturally sleep. Why? Who friggin' knows. It's not about why it's about survival and sometimes survival says put that baby in a swing, carseat, sling, or your arms to get them to sleep during the day OR at night. My babies need to be walked and bounced and patted all at once while in a swaddle AND sucking on a paci in order to sleep. It's not about WHY, it's about the solution and that's the solution. I encourage you to find your own - try walking stairs or doing deep lunges with them in arms because it might work and for some of us it's the only postpartum exercise we're going to get. When they fall asleep, if putting them down wakes them up, then for god's sake HOLD THEM. You cannot spoil them. In fact, if you look at my last blog post, even if you could call it spoiling, you only spoil them into empathetic and smart adults.

Can I put my baby on a schedule? Sure you can, but it's going to be a struggle unless you let your baby put YOU on a schedule. Why? Because you can't circumvent circadian rhythms, can you? Or, rather, you can but it's hella work. Why not just go with it?

What is the E.A.S.Y routine? I don't know where this comes from, but I've read that it's Eat, Active Time, Sleep, You Time which sounds like it must be from some book written by a man. In this house the EASY routine is this: "Eat with baby in the sling doing whatever the baby in the sling wants to do but cover the kid's head with a napkin because hot pizza grease is really killer, Attempt to get anything you can done at any time and be prepared for that to get interrupted by your baby when they express their needs which at this age are needs and not wants, Sleep whenever and wherever you can - if the kid falls asleep in the car and you only have one kid, close your danged eyes in a parking lot. If you have two kids and you're in the carpool lane waiting for a school pickup, go ahead and throw the sucker in park and take a nap. The car behind you will honk when it's time to move forward. You need to take time for yourself when you can get it - and whenever you can get it whether the baby's awake watching the mobile turn while listening to Mozart or asleep in the carseat or asleep in the crib (lucky bitch!) or just laying on the floor contemplating the stuff babies contemplate. Get a cup of coffee, take a shower, hand that baby off to the nearest living person over age 12. I don't care. Take 15 minutes a day for yourself. You'll thank me for it.

My baby wants to eat all the time, is this normal? Yes. Okay, let me take a moment to talk about nursing. Newborns nurse. Some nurse for 90 minutes every 3 hours, some for 10 minutes every 2 hours. Some eat every 4 hours (and we hate THEIR mothers but I digress). Babies will ask to eat when they're hungry, so that's cool. And they're not yet big fatty comfort eaters like the rest of us who will say "Hell yeah I'll have hot wings" 10 minutes after lunch because let's face it, hot wings are AWESOME whether you're hungry or not. But that's not what I want to talk about now. I want to talk about this: If you're coming to me for permission to quit breastfeeding, and often that's what's behind these questions, then you have it. You have my permission to quit nursing. You have my permission to keep nursing. Because ultimately, it's not about ME or what I think you should do, it's about what's best for YOU and YOUR CHILD and that's a decision YOU get to make and YOU get to live with. Do I think you should keep nursing? Sure. I think nursing's awesome as evidenced by the 4 years between 3 kids (and going) that I've done it. I think it's pretty much one of the greatest parts of parenting a little one. But that's me, not you. And raising your kid is about YOU and YOUR KID, not me. So do whatever you need to - but please, if you're asking me questions about it, ask because you want answers, not because you want permission to stop nursing. I'll give you all the answers in the world about nursing - how often, how difficult, how to solve a variety of problems, but if you want permission to quit, you need to find that in your own head and heart and NOTHING I say will give you that.

When will my baby STTN? I've heard of this acronym - it means "sleep through the night". I've also heard of this strange phenomena, of a baby sleeping all night long without needing its mother. My babies STTN at: age 2 1/2, age 9 months (using CIO in desperation) and NOT YET. So when your child, which I do not know, will do it, well, let me get my magic 8 ball.

How can I get my baby to STTN? Ah, NOW we're getting to something. But let's please get to the REAL question at hand, because it's not about your baby. The REAL question is: "How can I get my baby to stop waking me up at night." Really, very few of us actually sleep through the night. We rouse, roll over, turn the pillow for a fresh cool side, adjust our covers, and go back to sleep. Some of us (like those who have bad bladders after 3 kiddos) go to the bathroom and go back to sleep. Our babies are no different from us - they wake in the night too. Some go back to sleep, some don't because there are other pressing needs (hunger, dry diapers, giant terrifying shadows, worry about the collapse of the Social Security system, who knows!). I cannot tell you how to get a child to stop needing you at night. Eventually they'll stop or you need to train them that you're not available at night. One takes longer. The other takes commitment and hardening your heart a bit. You get to decide when that happens. But for those of you with less than 3 month olds, let me tell you this: YOU SHOULD NOT BE TRAINING A BABY LESS THAN 6 MONTHS OF AGE THAT YOU ARE UNAVAILABLE TO THEM. If they learn that on their own - that's awesome. Don't tell anyone or you might be stoned and not in the fun 4:20 way. If your baby is older than 6 months and you want to train them that you won't answer their nighttime needs, knock yourself out but don't ask me for directions on how to do it. I'm still not over using CIO on The Budge 3 1/2 years ago.

Here's my final thought (all Springer Style - cue close up to me and some tinkle tinkle music in the background): Parents of less than 3 month olds, it goes like this: You had a baby. Congratulations. Your baby will cry because it's a baby. Your baby will be needy because it's a baby. Your baby will do ununderstandable things because it's a baby. Your baby will want to be held because it's a baby. Your baby will want you - your warmth, your heartbeat, your smell, the food that you create - BECAUSE IT IS A BABY. If you don't want to do those things, be prepared to tell that to a human that won't understand you. If you're not yet a parent and you don't want to do those things, I suggest looking into a hamster because even a puppy has these sorts of needs.

And every time you're at the end of your rope, look down at that wee one in your arms and tell yourself this: They love me with a love that is greater than the world because I am their world because he/she is a baby. This is the beginning of the end of being their world. Over time they will learn bed and puppy and school and friends and all sorts of everything. Until then, YOU are their all sorts of everything.

ETA: FYI, because I realize this sounds preachy: Much of this is stuff I wish someone would've said to me before, oh, say, Baby #2. Adjusting to baby #2 was worlds of difficulty and much of it because I really wanted him to not act like. . . a baby. With #3, realizing that she's a baby has made my world SO much easier. No, I don't get anything done. Yes, I smell like vomit and she's sleeping in my arms right now, but I didn't go through 2 years of miscarriage, loss, and anxiety for nothing - I did it for a baby. The one who's in my arms right now.

Just a wee bit on parenting:

First, let me say that I love it. Let me also say I wouldn't trade it for the world. Let me also also say that I know how lucky and blessed I am to be a parent. When we were going through "The Great Suck of 2009", we became well aware of what great blessings had been bestowed upon us - and while "The Great Suck of 2009" sucked, it made me a better mom.

And I think I'm a pretty OK mom.

So, now, as a pretty OK mom, I have a few things to say:




I ADORE my children. So. very. much. that I never anticipated the feeling I'd get between 3 and 5 pm each day as a mother. I think that feeling is best described as "Oh god if one more person speaks and/or touches me I'm going to set something on fire."

I had no idea the importance of silence and personal space until I lost it all. And now? Now I'd give anything to have it back *EXCEPT* giving up the things that would actually get it back. My kids. I love them too darned much to trade for silence and space.

So next time it's 3:17 and I'm screaming "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOULD YOU PLEASE USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE??????", I'm going to remind myself that I wouldn't ever, even for a moment, trade those nagging, noisy whirling dervishes for the silence that would be present in their absence, because in the 23rd consecutive hour of holding the baby 23 hours a day for 65 days of life, overwhelmed as I am, I can't imagine letting her down by putting her down. She needs me. The Budge and his constant vuvuzela lifestyle need me. And Monkeymoo? That girl needs me too.

So next time? A deep breath. Work can be set aside for awhile. My kids cannot.

And when I start to think I shouldn't spoil this baby so much - she *should* learn to be OK in the crib or the swing or the exersaucer or any millions of baby products, I will go to Time and read this article. I can't spoil her. I can't spoil them - not with love. I can spoil them with any amount of the physical objects that can fill the void between us when I say "OMGWOULDYOUPLEASEBEQUIET", but I cannot spoil them by listening. Or touching. What an incredible reminder to turn off the television and fill the silence with their rambunctiousness!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...