Monday, December 28, 2009

The Making of a Mom: Part I

If the G is my Christmas present, her cold, flu and ear ache are three lumps of coal. Why didn't I know that my kid would be a miserable sick kid who would not be knocked out by doses of children's Tylenol and Motrin? Her first Christmas and it was was filled with screaming (her), cursing (her parents) and a trip to the ER for meds.

I think I figured at this point that I would know a few things about being a mom. I would have the mamma-conviction that I have come to expect in my own Mother who always knows everything, and even if she doesn't, she makes it sound like she does, and I buy it.

Our fancy and not inexpensive ear thermometer, we have come to learn, can be two degrees off. So when the G's temp was saying 102, it was probably more like 104. Yikes.

I never really thought much about being a mom until I became one, but I definitely thought the whole thing would be different, that I would feel different. At times, I can forget that I am a mom altogether. I still feel like me, like I have always felt, at 10, at 16, at 23. I look around at other moms on the playground, in the grocery store, on their way to work, and they seem to know things that I don't: the best preschools, the best play groups, the most expensive gymborees, that items called, "Buggie Wipes" exist. They have a confidence about them that I don't, a conviction that I don't.

On the way home from the ER, T and I stopped at the drug store. We bought two cheap rectal thermometers. G screamed that night again, even though we were convinced that she wouldn't. There was more cursing and more failed attempts to sooth the old gal. I did, however, throw out the ear thermometer. Some moms may be born, but this one anyway, will definitely be made.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


My Mother had a strategy designed to keep me from growing older. She would hold my hand in hers, pat it, inhale sharply through her teeth and say, "I'm gonna put a brick on your head." I didn't think much of it at the time, except to imagine my Mom going out to the side of the house where my brother and his best friend played and coming back with a brick in her hand to place on my head. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Of course now I do.

It pains T and me to watch old videos of G. We love to see her as she was, tiny and alien-like, but we hate it too. It reminds us that G just keeps growing, moving on, moving away from us. We are living days that we can never live again with her. That sounds weird. And sort of dumb. Aren't we all living days we will never live again? Yet, G is a constant reminder of how fast life is going, how fleeting moments are and how we will never get any of them back. It's sort of painful. Everything means so much more with G around. Time means so much more with G around. Life means so much more with G around. Sucking the marrow seems all too important with G around.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that kids are painful, not because they may disappoint you or dislike you at times, but because as a parent, your job is to devote your life to someone who will in the end if you did it right, want to leave you.

When I came home tonight, G gave me a big smile and opened her arms out for me to take her.
I think I'll check the side yard for some good, clean, bricks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Season of Gifts

Tis the season of gifts. This year and for every year after, G is my gift. I am trying to really revel in the G and live in the moment. I watch her smile when I play with her. I watch her eyes when she looks up at me. I try to really feel her head against mine and really hear her breathing when she sleeps.

The human experience is so fleeting and SO hard to hold on to, no matter how hard we try. Seconds after G leans her body into my legs as we both stand in the kitchen, the instant is gone and I easily forget it happened. Moments after G laughs as I tickle her feet, the air is filled with silence.

Maybe this is why we all always want things for Christmas, things that we can hold onto in our hands, and touch and smell and play with all day long. Material things that go under the Christmas tree - tangibles that we can take with us from moment to moment, and Christmas party to Christmas party.

Heaven must be a place where things like laughter and smiles come in boxes. Or maybe holding onto laughter and smiles is the sixth sense we gain in the next lifetime. Or maybe we just haven't evolved yet to the point where we can hold onto the things that really matter, like hugs and kisses.

In any case, this year, I will continue to try (and fail) to hold onto every tick of the clock with my gift. She is definitely the best gift of all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The G has started to dance. She can't talk. She can't run. But the girl has moves. Mostly her moves are head- centric, sort of Stevie Wonder-like. Her head goes left. Her head goes right. She doesn't do it for too long, probably because moving her head too much can throw her off balance. But it's THE best when she does it. Last night, Sting got her groove. This morning it was Aimee Mann. She isn't too picky about who is it is at this point. When she hears the music, she just has to move.

The T and I have music on all the time, but we aren't much of a dancing couple- especially the Stevie Wonder kind of moving. So we were wondering, how does G who doesn't know English, know dancing?

There's this heady book on my night stand that I attempted to read a few months ago on babies. It's too thick for me, heavy on psychology and I dunno, big words. But the gist of it is that babies know far more than we give them credit for. And if you think about it, they have to know more than we do, what with all they have to figure out in a short time. (When was the last time we learned a language in two years?) I wonder though what is innate in them? What are they born knowing already? Is love innate? Is music innate? Is dancing innate?

How cool to think that we were all born with knowledge of such beautiful things.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For all her ability to scream and make herself known, G is an extremely affectionate lady. She crawls up on my lap. She looks for me around the corner. She sits on the floor to play with her back leaning against my leg.

I have been reading the biography "Strength in What Remains" by Tracy Kidder. I almost stopped a few chapters ago. It's about how one man survived the genocide in Burundi. (I did not know this before, but I guess the genocide in Rowanda was precipitated by killings in its neighbor country Burundi.) It was tough reading for a while and I almost put it down. Being a mom has given me a low tolerance for anything sad or scary. I just wanted to get to the happy ending where the man is a doctor living in the US.

It's awful and amazing how humans can mistreat fellow humans. I started thinking about G and praying that she would never realize this. Of course, she will someday. But right now, she must think the world is pretty great and pretty beautiful. Her world is all love and only love. She doesn't even know what hate is, let alone that it exists. No one has even pushed her down on the playground yet. How great that the world is so pure to her! For all she knows, she's still in Heaven.

I guess this is why some parents try to shelter their kids. It's a gift, really, to give them the illusion of a perfect world. Why not keep that going as long as possible? She will have enough reality. She will be an adult someday and see it for herself. In the meantime, why not let her live in her all-love world, full of hugs, kisses and smiles, full tummies and fun times in the pool?

I hate knowing that someday she will realize it's not all love out there.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I am thankful for:

TLove, G, my mom, my dad, C, S, C, c, M, the Gs, the Mcs, the Ls, my old friends, my newer friends, libraries, public parks, extra bold coffee, that God made it so that you don't have a cycle while you're breastfeeding, dark chocolate, running shoes, orthodics, strong legs, strong arms, T's legs, dark and stormies on the beach with my Mom, kleenex, fresh air, city living, God (can you be thankful for God?), opportunity, good books, new books, fun childrens books, newspapers, good writing, smiles from strangers, kind words from strangers, good people, strangers or not, MUSIC! the future, the past, good neighbors, good vibes, BEER! healthy babies, heathly everyone, different opinions, faith, cheese balls, renewed friendships, old cowboy boots, a mouse in the trap, the color green, the seasons, Puma, peanut butter...

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 16, 2009

G: Thanks so much Mom for that great walk today and for pointing out all the leaves and the colors. And thanks for taking me to that class even though I know you think it's sort of lame. And thanks for taking me to that garden and letting me walk all around. And thanks for introducing me to cheese. That was cool. Hey, and sorry about that gross diaper that got all over your jeans when you changed me in the park. ew. And thanks for always letting me have some of your water. I like drinking water from an adult cup. Thanks also for comforting me last night in the wee hours. Thanks for all this but I think I am now going to totally flip out in my crib- like possesed by the devil type flip out. Cause, that's just what I do.

M: Well G, it wouldn't be a real day with you without at least one major flip out. I am always very impressed with your determination and stamina. You know what you want and won't accept anything less! I think you are very cool, VERY cool. But God help the man who marries you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What better time to blog than when your kid is screaming her head off in her crib? She sounds like the devil when she screams. It's impressive. She has been crying all morning, me holding her, me not holding her. If she would allow herself to sleep, she would be so much happier. Instead she wails. The lady will be blessed with a lot of energy someday. I imagine going to the gym or out for a run will be a must do on her long list. Yes, yes, these are the good things to think about right now, instead of wondering what the neighbors must think of your parenting skills. She is a tough girl, in all ways. I totally get how writer and mom Heather Armstrong ended up in the loony bin after having her first child.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I love my days with G. And I am also pretty scared of them. How can I entertain her, teach her, get her to sleep, get her to relax, get her to play by herself, get her to stop trying to pull my laptop screen back, and keep her alive another day, while also maintaining my own sanity? It's rather intimidating, the responsibility of it all. And if I fail, even if for just a second, and show my frustration with a curse word or a cry for help, I immediately feel bad, like a bad mother. I totally understand why my Mother used to throw up her hands and say "I am quitting motherhood!"

I have started singing the Hail Mary when I start feeling uptight with a squirmy, sleepless G. I figure the V.M. may know a few things. Being the mom to Jesus couldn't have been easy. But then again, "no crying he made," so maybe it wasn't that bad.

My girl is nine months tomorrow. She walks across the room. She pulls herself up. She giggles when her dad runs in and out and in and out of a doorway. She loves her mama. She hates peas.
Today my heart is way bigger than I ever knew it was. Or maybe it grew bigger in the past nine months. It is bursting out of my chest. This/G makes me a better, person, more sympathetic and quicker with a smile to a stranger. I wonder if it keeps growing as she grows? I dunno if I can handle that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

June was my last post. It's October! Can you even really say you have a blog when you post so infrequently? I am one of the many who start a blog only to have it fade away. And here I have so much important stuff to say! Like:

My kid is so cute.
My kid is so smart.

I had a good day with her though. She napped. In her crib. For more than 2 minutes. It was amazing. I had time to rid our bedroom of many, many dust bunnies. The bunnies were breeding all over the place. It was surely hazardous.

Anyway, today at 8 months she napped an hour in her crib and this was totally amazing to me. I clearly am not a Ferberizer. I am fairly certain G would take the Ferberize challenge and poop all over it. We already know she can scream for hours, and hours, and drive us to the drink. So we have pretty much decided at this point just to look for small victories like a nap in the crib and a swept bedroom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

G was an inconsolable newborn. She cried a lot: at night, in the morning, in the swing, in the rocking chair. There was very little we could do to help her no matter what we tried: a new hold, a new room, a new toy, a new song. Nothing worked. T and I would noticed, however, that there was this spot in the corner of her room where she would look, over my shoulder, behind me, where there was nothing but a blank wall, but when she looked on this spot, she would stop crying and just look at it. Sometimes she would even smile at the spot. T and I decided that that must be God back there, her old buddy from the womb, a familiar presence comforting her in her new alien world.

These days, G doesn't cry nearly as much and for the most part we can console her. She is becoming more and more connected to us and to the earthly things around her, her block toy, her purple blanket. It is those things and us, now that she goes to for comfort.

T and I sit around a lot and just talk about how perfect G is. The word miracle used for a baby really is no stretch. T and I had little to do with her creation. Babies come from somewhere much better and bigger than us. But as she gets older, even just a few months, and she is starting to understand the world, I wonder if she also starts to lose, little by little, that connection to that bigger, better place?

She no longer looks to that spot in the corner of her room for comfort.

Monday, June 8, 2009

G fell off the counter sitting in what I thought was a totally immovable foam chair. If I hadn't been screaming when I saw it, I would have been impressed with the girl's strength. A trip to the er confirmed that G is fine and that I am officially a crazy, frazzled mother who has no idea what to do with all this love for her kid. After that horrifying experience of watching her fall off the counter far from my reach, I have no idea how I will last the rest of my life with this super sized love that makes me feel as though I may just self-combust.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I made my husband turn off Gray's Anatomy. I couldn't take the poorly acted story line about a dying kid. I cried. My cousin, another new mom, says she cries at the commercial where the kid is lost in the train station and can't find his mom. It's a "Don't Smoke" ad which she says is killing her. In my three short (or very, very long, depending on how you look at it) months that I have been a mom, my heart has grown to the size of the universe. It's achingly large. It's crippling. It's what I was warned about but had no idea about until now. I now feel what every good mom must.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I was unfriended by a "friend" on facebook. Pretty low, huh? With all the people friending everyone and their sister and their ex-boyfriends and their aunts' ex-boyfriends,'d think the whole friending thing had lost any real meaning anyway. I feel pretty bad to be unfriended. Was it something I wrote? Once upon a time, in the 90s, we were real friends. It seemed only natural that today we would be facebook friends. What would make her suddenly want to unfriend me? Was she still upset that I got roses from the leading man in the musical senior year and she didn't? Or that I set her up with a horrible prom date that same year. (Totally unintensional, I promise.) What was it so many years later that made her go, "You know. She really poed me when she didn't call me back in 95 when I was really homesick." It's just weird.
And sadly, it bums me out. I am a 33 year-old mother of G, employed, with a clean bathroom and frozen homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer, yet I can still so easily feel like that nerdy high schooler seeking solace in the library where I could eat my lunch alone without having to face the tables of girls in the lunchroom who were all so much cooler and had so many more friends than I.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Babies are work. They are funny looking, smelly, blob-like and extremely impatient. But they are also pretty magical. It's hard to know why, what with the exhaustion, the thankless giving and the full time job that comes with parenting, but many people really do love babies. Random people smile at me as I stroller G down the street. Homeless men peek under her visor to catch a glimpse. Strangers ask how old she is. Why do people care?

By the end of my pregnancy I was annoyed with people's questions about my womb. "When are you due?" "Do you have names picked out?" And my favorite, "How's it going mama?" But I realized that people love a pregnant woman because of what she represents. No matter what your beliefs, pregnancy is a crazy miracle. A woman is growing another person. And in an attempt to be close to that miracle and the innocence and purity it represents, people try to get close to you.

Now G is is an extension of that miracle. She comes from some place far away and she is connected to something much bigger. So people still want to be close to her.

My husband and I wonder when it is that she will lose her pure goodness. Will we know? Will she know? And is it then that she becomes just another person on the street? Is it then that everyone forgets the miracle that she is?

Friday, March 13, 2009

My husband wrote that initial entry. He clearly likes me. But his question is a good one, why start a blog? I don't have the answer but feel compelled to join the ranks of bloggers anyway. Although, I am sort of hoping no one reads it- except maybe my Mom and my two brothers - one a liberal leftist Californian who loves to challenge anyone to a good political discussion and the other, a writer often inclined to laugh out loud with no apparent reason- both, I figure, would be good for banter. And my husband, he is a super clever one, although his entries will most likely be more along the lines of praise than anything.

Me? I am a first time mother of a 6 week old. I feel for some reason that calls for a blog- a blog titled something like, "What were we thinking?"

A doctor friend calls childbirth a "medical disaster narrowly averted. The birth canal, he says, is not designed for the birthing process. It is most unnatural, an evolutionary error." He told me this as I sat big and round, awaiting the inevitable.

I am currently holding my very own almost medical disaster. She is loud and pink and inclined to smell funny. If you ask me though, the real potential for disaster comes not at birth but from the first months with the little person. Parenting is just damage control, at least at this point. It's as if, you're suddenly hired to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company. You have heard of the company but you have absolutely no experience in the field, your background being more in the wheat and barley sector. And you have never been asked to take such great responsibility so quickly. Yet now you are supposed to not only keep the company going but you are supposed to make sure it flourishes. This "career" will span the rest of your life and take up most minutes of the day and night. Go.

One friend advised us "embrace the poop." Truer words were never spoken. Who knew that two people could suddenly speak so frequently of poop- it's color, it's frequency, the act of and yes literally embracing the poop. There is really nothing else you can do when at the end of the day you find something mustard color in your fingernail.

As a parent, things like poop-talk start immediately. What does not come immediately, at least for me, is that feeling of wonder at being a mother. Really, that feeling of even feeling like a mother has evaded me. At what point does a mom really become a mom?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Would Anyone Start a Blog?

Tough economic times, a planet in turmoil, the resurgence (at least on paper) of the Yankees - in a world as unsettled and currently traumatic as this, why would anyone want to start a blog? Posting stories, ideas, thoughts, musings and factoids for everyone, or no one, to read? What's the point?

I'm not sure of the point, but I am sure of the motivation. That's been my thing since I was an all-star point guard on my 7th grade basketball team: motivation. I was a motivated basketball player in grade school, a motivated student in high school, a motivated public drinker in college, a motivated professional opera singer in my early 20's, a motivated journalist for the 3rd biggest newspaper in the country in my early 30's, and now I've found that after giving birth, my hubby and I have spawned a highly motivated little girl. So motivated, in fact, that she can stay up for 3 days straight, eating and crying. Incredible. Meantime, here's a pic of our sometimes-insatiable babe: