Posts tagged parenting
Posts tagged parenting
Thank you so much to everyone who wrote me or commented on my big post last week. I wrote it late one night when Matt was out at a work event, and it had been a very long couple of days. I hesitated before posting it because I was a little concerned that people would read it and be like, LOL what did you think it was going to be like with a newborn and a two year old you big dummy, stop feeling sorry for yourself already.
Instead, I basically got a big ol’ internet hug. Some of you offered “been there, done that, it’ll get better” encouragement (and please, if you’ve survived a similar experience and feel like sharing, I’m always up for hearing more), some offered commiseration, and a few of you gently asked if I might be suffering from a little PPD. I’ve been wondering if how I’m feeling lately qualifies as PPD or if I’m just normally stressed out. I’m inclined to go with the latter for now, but I’m keeping an eye on the situation.
It’s true that I’m in the middle of a pretty challenging period of parenting. It’s true that there are days when I indulge in a good cry during that twenty or thirty minute period when their naps overlap. However, I’m working on keeping it all in perspective. For example, yes, things can be tough BUT hey, at least I don’t have to mind the children *and* weave a shit ton of homespun so I can sew all their clothes *and* make my own soap *and* cook on a wood cookstove, all while my husband is off fighting the British. At least I’m not raising two kids in the 1770s, amirite?
I’m grateful for all the good things in my life right now. I’m always, always grateful for my wonderful husband, who cooks and cleans and compliments me even when I haven’t showered in three days and gets up at the crack of dawn every day with Milo so he can spend 2 hours with him before he goes to work. I’m grateful that Zachary doesn’t have colic. I’m grateful that he is a pretty good sleeper. I’m grateful that, despite me constantly fussing/yelling at him, Milo still loves me enough that a mommy kiss on every boo boo is enough to make it better instantly.
And I’m very, very grateful that Milo starts preschool in about 3.5 weeks. It’s only twice a week and it’s only for 3 hours each day, but I think that it’ll help give us all a little breathing space.
Poor Zachary! He could definitely use a little personal space, I think.
I get asked a lot how it’s going these days with two small children. Honestly, there are a lot of days when I feel that I’m not really cut out to be a mother to two children. Just when I feel like I’m gotten into some kind of rhythm, we’ll have a stretch of days when nothing seems to go right. I have never cursed so often under my breath or yelled so much or pleaded so much for someone to just.stop being so disruptive for the love of god.
On the plus side, I’ve lost all of the baby weight from Zachary, plus a few pounds of Milo’s baby weight. People keep asking me how I’ve managed it. My secret to weight loss is mixed up in the tale of how it’s going.
And there you have it, my parenting philosophy in a nutshell.
Hey, Tumblr parents! Be a part of relatively insignificant Internet history!
Angelinos can RSVP for the L.A. Play-Up here. New Yorkers can contact Kirby for info. Spread the word using #tumblrplayup and join us… or don’t. We don’t care. We’re too stressed about our kids to worry about it.
Two weeks ago, he started walking. He’d manage a wobbly walk across the room before falling. He needed assistance to get back on his feet again.
Two weeks later, he climbed up the steps of the jungle gym and walked into this tunnel all by himself. He stands up by himself.
These days are going so fast.
Fun ways to pass the time indoors when it’s blazing hot outside and the pavement seems like it might melt beneath your shoes:
Dance parties to King Kahn and BBQ records.
Pull out your Make-Up, Cupid Car Club, Nation of Ulysses and/or Weird War records, teach your kid to make his monkey sound when you point at Ian Sevonius’s picture.
Letting your kid eat the peas off the floor that he threw down in an earlier fit of rage. After all, he made the mess, he should clean it up, one way or the other. A little lint on peas isn’t going to kill anyone, probably.
Watch, amused, as your child uses a rectangular block to have a very serious and involved conversation “on the phone” for about 5 straight minutes.
Retrieve from your child’s mouth the empty airplane-bottle of Jagermeister that your child dug out of the recycling bin and is now happily sucking on. Remind yourself that a more toddler-proof recycling set up is a priority.
Email the Amazon help department to figure out how to get a refund because, as you were considering buying a YGG dvd to take on vacation, your child managed to hit the keyboard at the exact right moment/spot to order, via 1-click, Season 2 of Yo Gabba Gabba on Amazon Instant Watch. You have Apple TV, which Amazon Instant Watch is not compatible with.
Trying to avoid the temptation of turning on the tv for your kid, you, in a fit of desperation, break out your flute. You have not played the flute in possibly 5 years, so it is tarnished. You realize, much to your chagrin, that you have almost forgotten how to read music. You play simple nursery rhyme songs and traditional ballads. Your child is enraptured for about 5 minutes, when he spies the flute case. He then devotes his full attention to shoving this case under various pieces of furniture and tight spaces, his momentary interest in your half-assed musical ability completely forgotten.
Give up, turn on Sesame Street. Count down the minutes until 5pm, when it seems respectable to have a cocktail.
I know I’ve been pretty absent from here lately. I find myself in a little bit of a funk, which always makes it hard to find the motivation to post. It’s not the kind of funk that results from being overtired/exhausted, it’s just the kind that has no real rhyme or reason.
Part of it stems from feeling like I’m doing a pretty piss poor job in the mothering category lately. There’s a Tumblr I started reading right after I had Milo, and I really liked it because she and I seemed to espouse the same ideals and methods of parenting and household lifestyle. Lately though, I mostly feel bummed when I read it because she seems to have actually put these ideals into consistent practice, while I’ve just kind of thrown my hands up in many ways. She’s not obnoxious about it, she’s not some kind of Super Mom/Woman, she just seems like a nice, conscientious woman who has the will and energy to practice what she preaches.
Me? I feel like I’ve thrown in the towel. I’ve gone from “no processed foods, ever” and “no sugar besides birthday cake until age 4” to feeding my 13 month old child Nilla Wafers as a mid-morning snack because he’s decided in the last 2 weeks that he hates almost all foods and rejects all the nice, healthy, organic snacks I offer him. I’ve gone from “no tv before age 3” to turning on Barney in the late afternoon because I’m tired and don’t know what to do with him and mostly just want him to please.stop.whining. (N.B., I turn on Barney because it holds his rapt attention far longer than Sesame Street or Yo Gabba Gabba, and has the benefit of being easily tuned out by me, unlike YGG which I find to be akin to having a strobe light flashed at my face.)
I know that in the large scheme of things, I’m not a bad mother. It’s not that I’m feeding my kid cheetos and diet soda for breakfast while I smoke a cigarette in front of him. He is very loved. I just sometimes feel like I should be doing more with him. I know that staying home with him is a privilege, but honestly, sometimes I’m really bored. I guess I thought that motherhood was the one thing I wouldn’t screw up; it was going to be my chance to put things right in my life. I was going to be such a great mom that it would make up for all the times I didn’t study as hard as I should have in school, all the times I didn’t give 100% at my job, all the times I shirked on my household responsibilities. Lately though, it just seems like yet another thing that I’m half-assing my way through.
Like any parent, I pride myself on taking excellent care of my kid. I’ll happily spend an hour preparing a healthy meal or two for him, figuring out ways to sneak in vegetables and nutrients so I can make sure his fruit-obsessed tush is getting a balanced meal. For breakfast yesterday, he had a scrambled egg with mozzarella and spinach. For elevenses, organic strawberries, some yogurt and organic grapes mixed with a little muesli and flax. For lunch, he had multi-grain flatbread pizza with homemade sauce that was chock-full of sauteed then pureed vegetables. For dinner, he had multi-grain pasta with broccoli, tofu, peppers and spinach, covered in a cheese sauce that I made from scratch. Not too shabby, right?
Why can’t I do the same thing for myself? I was so focused on prepping food for him that I neglected to make food for myself. Yesterday, I consumed 2 cups of coffee (one hot, one iced), 1 bite of left-over egg, 3 bites of a smooshed strawberry that Milo had dropped on his lap, half a serving of pasta (all that was left in a box) combined with some sauce, and 3 bites of his cold, left-over dinner as I was cleaning up the dishes after he went to bed, a beer, half a raisin fennel twist and half a brownie. I mean, seriously. Why do I do this? Why do I eat like this? These are not the meals of a responsible, adult woman. These are the meals of a teenager who has already spent all the food money his parents left for him when they went away for the weekend.
I haven’t been posting very much because the kid and I have been spending lots of good time outside, taking advantage of the nice summer weather. We’ve been hitting up the playgrounds and parks, toddling through the sprinklers and pushing his little wooden walker toy up and down the sidewalk on our street. He doesn’t seem to mind being indoors, but he gets really, really excited when I open the hall closet because he knows that means I’m getting out either the Becco or the stroller so we can go for a walk. He shoots down the hallway with a big grin on his face and tries to climb into the stroller by himself. Once we’re outside, he stretches his toes out and sighs happily. He’s started to wave and grin at everyone we walk by, so we get a lot of chuckles from strangers on the street and a lot of “that’s the happiest baby I’ve ever seen” type comments.
His physical development has advanced in some leaps and bounds over the last two weeks. He’s always been on the very average side of development, but it’s starting to accelerate a little. He’s been cruising around on furniture for about a month, but last week he finally started standing by himself. He’s pretty pleased with this new skill and has now added movement to it, bouncing and swaying to music while he balances on his own. He’s started to take one or two tentative steps on his own, but doesn’t get much farther than that yet. He still crawls around the house, but once we’re outside, he only wants to walk, so I’ve been killing my poor old lady back by hunching over and holding his hands to help him walk. Happily for my back, he’s graduated to only needing one hand to steady him while he practices, so it’s not quite so painful for me. The main drawback to all of this is that if Milo wants to go through the sprinklers at the playground, so too goes mama. Good thing I’m not looking to impress any of the other adults at the playground, I guess (no Little Children action here, thank you very much).
He loves music, as any child that sprung from the genes of Matt and I should. When you sing to him, he stares intently and issues forth a funny kind of tuneless “mmmmmmm” when music comes on. I think he’s trying to sing. The only way I can get him to sit still and not scream during diaper changes these days is to go through a whole musical medley. His favorites these days include several verses of “Comin’ Round the Mountain”, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, “New River Train”, “Little Black Train”, and “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. What can I say, I sing the same songs to him that my grandma sang to me when I was little. It’s fine at home, although it does get a little weird when we’re out in public and I’m belting out these 1950s honky tonk songs or old folk songs from the 1930s.
Milo’s language acquisition is also plodding along slowly. He still doesn’t say actual words other than daddaaaaaaa and the occasional mama and duh-duh (which I think indicates dog, but, you know, could mean pretty much anything), but the child babbles incessantly. God help us when he actually starts making words out of all the nonsense because Houston, I think we have a chatterbox on our hands. He definitely recognizes a few words, like book and ball, and if you say those words, he’ll bring the items to you. He’s got a few ASL signs going, which have proven helpful in these pre-verbal days. He’ll do “all done”, and recognizes “eat”, “book”, “ball”, “monkey”, “more”, “bath” and “drink”.
His real standout area is personality. The kid loves people. Milo never met a stranger he didn’t like, and will smile and hold his arms out to anyone who makes eye contact and smiles at him. He flirts shamelessly with every woman he encounters, and grins at men. When we go out to eat, he beguiles the wait staff and looks around for female customers nearby to smile at. It’s a little ridiculous, frankly, but it always cracks me up. He and I were heading home on the subway on Friday night, two hours past his bedtime. A man and woman sat next to us, and as I sat there reading my book, Milo facing me in the Becco carrier, I could feel the man looking at us. I knew Milo was smiling at him, and the man started to talk to him. As soon as the woman spoke, Milo craned his neck around to look at her and started to work his magic on her too. Soon I realized that all of the people near us in the car were looking at us and smiling. Milo was leaning back, flashing grins at everyone and waving. “Is he always this smiley?” asked the woman. “Yes,” I replied, “although actually this is him being a little cranky because it’s way past his bedtime.” “Amazing,” she said. “How does it feel to know that your baby brightens up the room everywhere he goes?”
You know what? It feels pretty good, actually. He might be a super average baby on a lot of levels, but to us, he’s a total superstar.
One of the things I love about my relationship with Milo is how it’s constantly evolving. In the beginning, there was an outpouring of complete love from me to him, a constant feeling of overwhelming protectiveness toward him in his sweet, wholly vulnerable state as a newborn. It was very primal and instinctual. Over the months, as he gained more awareness of the world, our relationship shifted in response to that. Lately I’ve felt our relationship evolve a bit again. This kid and I, we are a team. We’re at our best when Matt is there to complete our unit, but we’re our own thing, too. Each day brings a new development in Milo’s personality or a new understanding in his abilities. The closeness I feel to him continues to astound and humble me.
I was talking to another first time mom the other day, and we were commiserating about our babies’ terrible sleep habits. She looked around guiltily and asked me if I ever found myself secretly hating other parents who talk so nonchalantly about how their babies started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. She said that despite her desire to be happy for them, she was mostly filled with rage and hatred, mixed with a little despair over her own son’s terrible sleeping patterns. I laughed, knowing that she was mostly joking, and told her that while I knew where she was coming from, I generally didn’t get too bogged down in it anymore. I mean, I’m human and all, so sure, I feel a little tinge of envy at those glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep that other parents are getting. But there are two things that keep me from falling into a pit of jealousy over this subject.
My mom and I have always been close. I have not been, however, the most attentive daughter. I took her and so many of her acts of generosity and kindness for granted for several years because I am a self-absorbed jerk who cared more about spending my Saturdays seeing hardcore punk shows at ABC No Rio than remembering to return my mother’s phone call. It wasn’t until I had my own child that I started to really appreciate how wonderful my mom is. I get it now. I understand now why you would continue to go out of your way for your child, even when they refuse to do something as basic as return your phone call or email you for weeks on end. You do it because the love you feel for your kid is so overwhelming and constant that you can’t not do it.
Matt’s trip to Cannes last week had coincided with the end of Milo’s brief (but glorious!) three week sojourn in the land of sleeping through the night. This meant that I was home alone with a kid who insisted on waking up around 2:30am to sob in my arms for a good 45 minutes, then waking for good around 5:50am. After a week of this, I was tired, so tired. I was also in a lot of physical pain because now when the weather gets damp/stormy/rainy, my joints hurt. Apparently, this is what happens when you get old: you can predict the severity of a coming storm by how much your bones ache. (Welcome to your thirties!) By the time Matt got home last Sunday, I was a mess. Into this maelstrom of exhaustion and frustration, my mother arrived to spend a few days with us.
My mom took one look at me and sent me off to nap. She proceeded to put the kid down for a nap, straightened the apartment, and generally held down the fort while I slept for 2.5 hours. She also took the overnight shift with the kid for the next two days. Oh lordy, sweet, sweet sleep. Ten hours of it, straight through, two days in a row. The restorative powers of sleep are not to be taken lightly. By Wednesday, I felt like a new woman, ready to tackle the stubborn willfulness of a one year old child who’s recently discovered the joys of doing exactly what it is that mama is telling him not to do.
OH AND, in the midst of all the child-tending and house-cleaning that she was doing, she asked me if, when we’re down in Austin next week (the boy and I arrive on Tuesday, Matt arrives on Thursday), I’d like to spend the night in a hotel BY MYSELF. Consider it a belated Mother’s Day gift, she told me. (It’s also a little bit of a bribe to get my butt in gear and start work on editing her new website, but I am totally cool with this kind of bribe.)
I know that there are readers out there who might think I’m a terrible mother for wanting to be away from my child. Listen, I spend every waking moment of every day with my kid. I love him to pieces. I have nursed him for a year, and now, through his preferences, we’re in the last stages of weaning. I am not ashamed to admit that I’m a bit “touched out”. I just want 24 hours to myself, no husband, no baby. I want to drink a martini while taking a bath and reading a book. If this means I’ve failed at attachment parenting, well, I’m ok with that. I might be too old and a little too selfish for that kind of parenting philosophy anyway. I think Milo will still turn out ok.
This is all to say, I love my mom. She’s given me a lot to live up to with Milo. No matter how distant he is or obstinate or hell-bent on making obvious life mistakes, I’ll always be there for him. I’ll try to remember to learn from the examples that she’s set of when to step back, when to nudge, when to know that I’m really needed even though he might not know it himself.
I would have totally put it back. If you’re zesting an orange, you should be washing it first, anyway. Do you know how many people would have manhandled that before you picked it up?I hope that orange was the best one Milo’s ever tasted!
I would have put the orange back, but not before getting in a few licks myself. Two bucks apiece?!?
Thank you for validating my initial impulse! Organic or not, fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly after purchase to remove germs, whether from simple handling or from the mouths of curious and hungry babies. There’s just so much anti-parent vitriol in certain NYC circles that I’m overly cautious about adding more fuel to the fire. (To be fair, some of this vitriol is honestly come by…there are some real entitled jerks and their awful, rude children in this city who’ve ruined it for the majority of us that try to be considerate and raise well-mannered kids.)
Also, that orange totally sucked. Went out and bought a bag of clementines yesterday afternoon that are much more Milo-friendly.
I had a bit of a mental breakdown on Thursday night. It had been building for several days, a mixture of the kid reverting back to terrible sleep habits, Matt being away, the weather being awful, some writing work that’s still hanging over my head that I can’t quite find the time for it, and a low-grade sinus congestion thing that was escalating to a full on infection. Throw in the whole who-can-know-the-mysteries-of-a-woman’s-hormonal-impulses, and you get a mama on the edge. Mostly it seemed to be that I was so, so tired.
Tomorrow morning, Milo and I head to Texas to visit my folks. Matt leaves for LA around the same time, but from a different airport, unfortunately. I think I’m prepared for the trip, got my mental checklist going. My plan is to check my bag and the car seat right away, that way I can wear Milo in the sling (which he adores) and just have the bag with diapers, new toys, books, etc to worry about carrying. I know to try to get him to nurse on take-off and landing, and I’m hoping that he’ll take a nap at least some of the way. He’s very social though, so I hope the person sitting next to us is prepared to smile a few times at him. Milo will stare, unrelenting, at someone until they give in and make eye contact with him, bless his heart.
I’ll be in Austin with him until Saturday, when I leave to meet Matt in LA. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t all in knots thinking about being away from Milo for the first time, but I keep telling myself it’s only 2.5 days and he’ll most likely be in hog heaven with Mimi and Papa, being totally spoiled rotten. 2.5 days, 2.5 days. Deep breaths.