Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eh, What'd you say, Sonny?

A couple of columns ago, I mentioned that there are reasons why I know I have gotten older. Since writing that, I keep thinking of more reasons. During my day, I’ll notice something that I am doing, and I think, “Ah, ha! Yet another thing I would have never done in the era-known-as-pre-Parker.” Maybe I’ll share just a few with you, and I’m sure there are others out there who can relate.

1. I keep increasing the number of baskets I have around the house. Almost any home organization problem can be solved with a basket. Too many children’s books lying around? Get another basket! Fruit on the counter? Maybe a basket would look good there! This should all be shouted in the manner of Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail (“You will bring us back a SHRUBBERY!”).

2. I was looking through the Victoria’s Secret catalogue for new jeans. I first checked to make sure they still sell my size because, let’s face it, the extra weight I have can no longer be blamed on “baby weight.” Then, the next thing I find myself looking for is “at-waist jeans.” No sexy low waist jeans here. Nuh, uh. Things now need to be kept in, rather than hanging out or over.

3. I do more things that my mom did when I was growing up, and it doesn’t bother me. It honestly just makes me smile. I sing my mom’s original “Tomorrow’s Friday!” song on Thursdays. I put on John Denver when I clean the house. When holidays come around, I try to find things I can tape to the windows for decoration.

4. My wardrobe basically consists of “weekend wear” and “work wear.” I am shocked to remember that I used to regularly buy clothes solely for the purpose of “going out.” Sexy, sheer, barely there “tops” and things of that nature.

5. I am more aware of health issues. When preparing for a beach vacation, no longer will I subject my fair and freckled skin to a tanning bed. I suck in my pride (and my stomach) and go get a spray tan from a stranger instead!

6. I’m really looking forward to taking Parker to Disney Live and feel that will be a very exciting night.

7. I increasingly have to pluck gray hairs from my eyebrows. I need another strategy because I'm going to have bald spots in my eyebrows soon.

8. Forgetfulness is at an all-time high. Which I hate. I used to be able to exclaim, "I have a mind like a steel trap!" No longer. I sometimes have no recollection of things even when sober.

9. The other night, I sat on a stool at a high table, and when I left the restaurant, my knees were sore for about an hour.

10. I frequently throw my back out for a few days when getting my son in and out of his car seat.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. This getting older thing has been good, for the most part. I understand what “they” mean (actually, “they” is Oprah) by knowing yourself more as you get older and trusting yourself more. That is beginning to happen and will only get better. However, I don’t think I’ll be one to wear purple and a big hat when I’m old, old. We’ll have to think of something a little more snazzy than that for our generation, ladies. I don’t know if breaking out in rap (my personal choice would be Easy E.) would be the answer. Let me know if you have any ideas. We’ll get old together and wear it like a badge of honor. Enough of this talk of getting older. It’s 5:00 pm. For crying out loud, I need to get dinner ready.

Friday, January 29, 2010

THE Reflux

My daycare provider asked me questions yesterday about the medicines that Parker was on when he was an infant. She is wondering if her own baby has reflux and/or other GI issues. Upon hearing this, I said, “Oh, I am so sorry! That is so hard. BUT, it gets better with time and the right medicine!” I am glad that I can offer a lot of tips and suggestions around medical intervention and soothing techniques because, man oh man, I have been through it. I see the tiredness and a hopeless look on her face. I see the spit up all over her shirt. I hear the baby waking up and crying and her look of, “here we go again.” Up to this point, our daycare provider has seemed like one of those Supermoms! to me. This is her third baby. She takes care of other people’s babies and toddlers. She always looks calm. She is always pleasant. Shortly after having her second baby she did highly impressive things like cart her children to the gym so she could attend a pilates class. Her house always looks spotless. My husband and I joke that she has a “look” that she gives us when she thinks we are kind of crazy, worried parents. We might drop Parker off and say, “How many times did he poop yesterday? What did it look like? We are trying a laxative and hope it is going ok.” She would calmly say that everything was normal and then give us that look. So, I was surprised to see a very different kind of look on her face yesterday. I told her that it was a difficult time with Parker when he was an infant and that I’m not planning on having another child. She said, with a deep growl in her voice, “Yes. If I had had this one first, I would never have had another child.”

Now, I don’t want this to come out wrong, but that made me feel better to hear that. It was validating. It felt like my husband and I weren’t crazy for feeling AT OUR WIT’S END. Later that night, I was writing out the names and phone numbers of doctors and suggestions for reflux, allergy, and constipation. I asked my husband, “What are other things that helped during that time with Parker’s reflux and ‘issues?’” My husband thought about this for a moment. He replied, “A supportive partner. Working together. Patience.” I smiled at that because it is so true. We were and are a team. A united front. We got through that time knowing deep down that we had each other. There was a whole lot of yelling going on-Parker would cry so constant and so loud that we would have to shout everything in order to hear each other, and sometimes it felt really freakin’ good to yell and shout everything. In spite of all the yelling and frustration, we knew we were not alone and somehow we would make it through. Well, we made it through that time, and I’m sure there will be many other times that are very trying.

(Spoiler alert - much sappiness ahead!) Now we are starting to rediscover each other again as husband and wife and not just tired parents of a crying infant. It feels good and I can’t wait for more – more fun with my husband, more fun as a family, more closeness and appreciation. I love you, Richard. You are my gorgeous god of a man and husband. “I will shout it from the top of someplace very high, my excitement!” (Luigi, Cars) or all over the Internet – I love you! I love you forever and ever – always have, always will.

p.s. surprise, hunny!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Who Loves You, Baby?

It’s all about family. As I get older, I realize this more and more. The most important thing in life is all about relationships and the connections you have with the significant people in your life. No matter what is going on in my life, no matter the things I have or don’t have, no matter the health I am in, life is always a little better with the people I love close to me. There is nothing more important. There used to be a time when it was very important to me to go out and be part of the “social scene.” That has become completely unimportant to me, and it amazes me to think back to when I looked forward to being at places that were loud, crowded, and hoppin’. I would get bored and complain if my husband wanted to be somewhere SITTING and chatting. Nowadays, if my husband and I actually have a rare opportunity to go out without Parker, the only kind of place I would want to go would be a place to sit and sip wine and talk and connect with my husband and friends. And when I go out, I want to be home and in my bed between 10:00 and 11:00 pm (which would already be past my bedtime). The fact that I prefer to go somewhere to SIT is on my list of reasons I know I am getting older (along with using the word “hoppin” and buying a one piece swimsuit and cover up skirt). Before having Parker, I thought we’d be the glamorous couple that has a very regular babysitter and still gets gussied up to go out a couple times a month. I thought, “We won’t have to change our lifestyle THAT much.” Well, I honestly quite enjoy going out to dinner as a family and going home to watch a Pixar movie (isn’t Pixar great?!). If I’m being very truthful, planning a night out for Richard and me without Parker still makes me anxious. So, the bottom line is, given the choice, I choose Friday night family movie nights. I choose take-out Chinese and wine at home. I choose going to the restaurants with good kids’menus. I choose Saturday morning playdates with my friend and her children. I choose to make the people in my life my priority. I choose us.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Genius Mommy

I stayed home from work today because Parker is sick. Our morning went really well. In spite of a fever and ear infection, Parker was in pretty good spirits. I even got extra cuddle and relax time with him when he wanted to watch movies. He went down for his nap just like normal, but he woke up from his nap abnormally early. For some reason, he woke up a different child. He woke up angry and highly upset. He was crying and screaming. Nothing helped. He didn’t want to lay with me in my bed, he didn’t want his music on in his crib, he didn’t want to watch TV, he didn’t want me to hold him and walk him around, he didn’t want to be held at all, he didn’t even care about his Lightning McQueen car. I had given him his medicine and Tylenol. There was nothing more I could do for him. All he wanted to do was literally stand in a corner and cry. He climbed behind our speaker/side table, hid and sat in the corner, and cried. It was awful. And you know what I thought? Well, let’s go to Wal-Mart. You may think I’m insane, and I often have this thought myself, but I felt like we really needed to get out of the house. I had a feeling that he might actually enjoy going to Wal-Mart. I figured, he’s going to be upset no matter what, so we might as well get something done while we’re at it. And what better place for a crying child than Wal-Mart? (You people without children hate people like me.) Anyways, I thought that if it got too bad, we could just leave and go home. On the drive there, I began to doubt myself. The crying and whining did not subside. He was not a happy boy. I started to worry and wonder if I was doing the right thing. Guess what?! It went great! Just like I thought. Instead of being big-mistake-mommy, I was genius-mommy. Parker loves people and looking at things in the store. It went so well, we even went to Petsmart too. And because it was Monday afternoon, I got front row parking at BOTH places! Man, sometimes I don’t know much about this mommy thing, but every once in a while, I impress myself. That feels good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

If it wasn't this, it'd be something else.

Friday, January 22, 2010

One of my favorite quotes from a movie is in Elizabethtown, and it goes like this, “If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else.” The dad in the movie had passed away. The quote had been his motto in life, so the family hung it on a banner at his funeral. Now to some, this may sound grim, pessimistic, or at least like inappropriate humor. But I really like it. I have a tendency to freak out when surprised by things that are not planned. It is a control thing and fellow control freaks totally get it. Anyway, Parker, bless his heart, had some difficult issues in infancy (reflux, colic, chronic constipation, allergies, eczema). Shortly after having him, I remembered that quote from Elizabethtown, and it helped me actually to relax a bit. My husband and I would chuckle and say, “If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else,” when faced with challenges day to day. It helped remind me that everything would eventually be ok, and in the meantime, you have no choice but to go with the flow. There are just some things you don’t have much control over. You might as well throw up your hands, go along on the ride, and think, “If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else!” The reason I remember this quote today is that I have another annoying medical thing going on, and Parker is starting to get an ear infection. I spent some time earlier fretting over these annoying turn of events, and then I remembered that quote. I laughed a little to myself. There’s just no use in worrying or attempting to control the situation, and sometimes these things are unavoidable. I’m just along for the ride.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Naked Flashdance

Mr. Personality

I must recount a story involving my son, Parker, from about a week ago. It is the kind of story that he will be utterly embarrassed I wrote about in a blog when he is old enough to care. . . but, it is too cute to not tell. Some background information – Parker has a big personality and winsome smile. As soon as he hears music, he charms people with his toddler dancing moves. He performs dramatic acting scenes, pretending to fall down at the bottom of the stairs. He exclaims, “Tank you!” as we leave the grocery store. One night, he surprised my husband, Richard, and me with another exuberant display. He was wrapped in a towel after his bath. Parker was kind of standing on top of his changing table, being supported by Richard. As soon as the towel came off, Parker suddenly began flashdancing! (Definition of flashdancing: running in place very, very fast as if to the tune of “Maniac.”) He was naked flashdancing. For about a good 30 seconds. It seemed to go on for a long time. His face was filled with joy. Richard and I just watched with our mouths open. At one point, one of us exclaimed, “Wow!” As suddenly as he began, Parker stopped. Richard and I both again said, “Wow.” Parker shouted, “See THAT?!” We all laughed and then continued on with the nightly routine. Now I reflect back on that because it’s so great to learn from our children and see the world through new eyes. Bathtime and nakedness are times of pure exhilaration and joy! Now I don’t think I want to flashdance naked, especially not in front of other people (or a mirror, for crying out loud), but I will try to see more opportunities for pure joy in simple moments. Dancing with Parker when the music comes on, sledding the hill when it’s covered with snow, jumping off the swing when we’re at the park. And I will shout, “See THAT?!”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Are you going to have another one?

Are we having fun yet?

At work today, I got the question that I get at least once per week. Some people ask me this question multiple times. I suppose they are testing whether or not my answer will stay the same. The question is, “Are you going to have another one?” The answer is, “No.” Now, these people do not know if there is a medical, psychological, physical, financial, or any other reason behind this answer, but it does not stop them from chuckling. They laugh, as if thinking, “Oh, she does not realize that in a year she WILL want to have another child.” Or, perhaps, “I know how that feels, and then I had TWO more!” And, my neurotic self thinks, “Wow, she is dramatic about how hard it is to have babies.” I have arrived at a place where I can say, “No,” and leave it at that. I own it. No explanation necessary. There was a time, however, when the thought of having “just one” bothered me very much. About 5 days after having my son, I thought, “I don’t think I can do this again.” This thought chilled me to the core. It scared me. What kind of mother am I if I choose to only be a mother to one? Does this say something bad about my mothering abilities or instincts? Am I going to be able to be a good mother to even just one? Of course, these were the thoughts rushing through my chemically imbalanced hormonal head as I rushed home from Target (to get colic water), unshowered, and panicked because if the baby woke while I was gone my husband would have no way to feed him since I had become a 24 hour feeding machine. And the only reason why I was the one to go to Target was because my husband practically pushed me out the door so I could “get some fresh air.” I think he was scared too. So, for now, the answer is “No,” and that feels good. I have my baby, he is my world, my love is focused on right here and now – my husband, my son – enjoying each other and planning our future as a family. We are a small family, and it is enough.

I'm looking forward to many more haircuts.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome to my Column!

I never imagined all the feeling and downright angst that goes into having a child. My son is the world to me and makes my heart twist and turn with that gleam in his eye. My chest cavity actually hurts when I look at him sometimes because of the love and pure emotion that runs through me. Today he is 22 months and 8 days old. A lot of hard work, tears, intense ups and downs, worrying, laughter, second guessing, and (did I mention worrying?) has gone into the last 22 months and 8 days. Motherhood, in addition to the impact it can have on a marriage, was way more than I had originally bargained for. And I wouldn’t take any of it back. It is my journey and my family’s journey, and even though some days and weeks can seem very long, most of it flies by and we must remind ourselves that we’ve really only just begun. There will still be many nights ahead when we wonder if there will be any tiny amount of energy left to enjoy retirement and an empty nest. Just as there are nights that I am sappily, hopelessly grateful that my son wants to cuddle and I hope it lasts for hours. As I write this, I am enjoying the last day of a 3 day weekend. I am yet again ignoring the need for a workout. I can hear Nick Jr. in the distant background downstairs. I feel gluttonous as I have sequestered myself away with the laptop upstairs in my bedroom and a single vodka cranberry cocktail. I can hear my husband and son outside doing what boys do best – playing with tools and cars, crawling around on the ground getting dirty. My purring cat looks gloriously content to be enjoying a moment alone with me. Before a full time job, motherhood, and (this new term I discovered) “housewifery” takes its toll each day, I will try to reclaim my desire to create, write, and BE who I am-even for one small column a day!