A Modern Girl's Musings

My earliest political memory is of my parents laughing at me when I asked if we were voting for Ronald Reagan. Even I could tell poor Carter wasn't looking so good. I was about five. I think the laughter was accompanied by something along the lines of "for crying out loud!"

Nevertheless I consider myself a Reagan Baby. Those eight years of my childhood were spent realizing that there was still a lot of work to be done, despite Dr. King, in addition to the Kennedys (a lot of them were still alive then), and hopefully including me (if my Quaker education by the hippies was teaching me anything at all).

So after Reagan, after Clinton, after hiding in those Bushes, I am still hopeful, I am still working on my addition, I'm still on my way to a new way of living in this world.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Daddy Went Skiing

Today Daddy went skiing.

This is how our day went.

And for those of you who do not think you would ever call your partner the title that explains his or her position in your nuclear family, you just aren’t there yet.  Maybe it takes a month, when you have realized doing it passive aggressively helps you to get him, or her, to take out the trash while you are stuck on the couch nursing while also smelling dinner from two nights ago rot in your rubbish bin.  Or maybe it takes five years because the first bit of parenthood was so blissful that you looked up one day and realized you are just so happy you can’t even remember this partner’s name you are so blinded by love and adoration.  But it happens. Eventually.  Trust me.  Wait for it.

Anyway, Daddy went skiing and our day went a little something like this:

12:30 AM  Daddy gets home from work and begins to open the only two closets in your apartment that also happen to be in you alls’ room, looking for goggles, ski pants, and ski boots.

1 AM  The baby we are sleep training wakes up.  Daddy is on it.

3 ish AM  I wake up with a hacking piercing cough.  Because I am not being sleep trained, no one looks after me to see if I have not coughed up a lung.

5:15 AM  The baby we are sleep training wakes up, and forlornly talks to himself in his crib.

5:20 AM  Big girl wakes up and climbs into our bed.

5:40 AM  Daddy’s alarm clock goes off.

5:43 AM  I try to pee alone, but am followed.

5:45 AM  I get up, start turning on lights, and Dad  and Big girl give me WTF looks.  I turn them off and go back to bed, reminding everyone this is often when we do get up and we may as well get up now anyway and when was the ski ride supposed be here? and maybe I am just still asleep.

6 AM  Daddy gets dressed.  Baby girl looks up confused as he walks away, dressed in full ski regalia.  A sight she has never seen, because we don’t have personal activities anymore, we have family outings now.

6:45 AM  A miracle!  The little people have fallen back to sleep so mommy can fall back asleep and this is the time we wake up for good.  A miracle, I say!

6:50 AM  Big girl races me to her bedroom, where, since she got there first, she is trying to pull the baby out of the crib.  By his arms.

7:00 AM  I try to lay out crackers (the good, buttery, not really very good for you kind) so people will not ask for breakfast yet because despite the sleeping in I am still sleepy. 

7:01 AM  The crackers are rejected.  Juice is requested.

7:05 AM  The crackers are accepted.  We all three sit on the couch.

7:15 AM  The crackers are sprinkled on the couch.  Then rejected.  Cereal is offered.

7:16 AM  Pancakes are requested.  Which is sweet, as they were only introduced to pancakes yesterday during a snowstorm.  Although wary at first, they decided they were very good.  Sadly, there are no more pancakes for today.

7:20 AM  Cereal is mentioned.  Again. 

7:21 AM  The KIND of cereal I offer is rejected.  So I counter offer with another offer of cereal.  I say another offer of cereal because it is the same KIND as was offered previously, just in an unopened box. 

7:25 AM  Cereal is offered to one in a green bowl and to the other in a blue bowl.  Big girl rejects her bowl, and when I say she will not get another kind of breakfast and will have to go to her room if she continues to cry about it, Big girl stays in a corner, the corner near her brother’s green bowl, and is very quiet.

7:26 AM I ask “are you waiting for that green bowl?”  and Big girl laughs and says yes! 

7:27 AM Baby abandons green bowl to run wild around the kitchen, and Big girl gets the rest of his cereal.

7:28 AM We sing the "what's the weather" song and do "the weather" on our magnetic calendar.  We do this every morning.  It's nice.

7:30 AM  I clean up.  While cleaning up, my kids run past me, pants me, and one yells “we’re sea monsters!”

7:30 AM  I pull up my pants.

7:31 AM I update my Facebook status, explaining my kids just pantsed me.  Sometimes, you keep your dignity by sharing, and hope the six hundred people you friended understand you are not crazy, just with kids all day.  All.  Day.

8 AM My mom calls.  She calls every morning, and has since Big girl was one week old.  It is my salvation.  Along with Facebook updates.

8-8:20 AM  I try to talk to my mom, while my kids jump on each other.

8:20 AM I am forced to get off the phone with my mom.

8:20-9 AM  I clean while Big girl and the baby un do what I have just done.  I wonder if famous playwrights spend their days spraying things down with 409 ( I tried organic stuff.  We got mice) and wiping bottoms.  Then I come to my senses. Of course not.  I wipe some bottoms.

9 AM  I get the baby dressed.  I go to get Big girl dressed and realize the cut she told me about on her foot is from a toe nail that is too long. 

9:01 AM  I agree with myself I am the worst mother ever, and explain to her that I must see that toe nail.

9:01 AM  I am rejected.

9:01 AM  I explain this is all mommy’s fault, but I need to see that toe nail.

9:01 AM  I am rejected.

9:02 AM I demonstrate getting toes clipped is no big deal by clipping the Baby's toe nails.  The Baby protests, but is calmed by crackers.

9:03 AM  I realize I must get at that toe nail before we put on tights.  And we must put on tights because Baby girl refuses to wear pants, only skirts and dresses.

9:02 AM -10:30 AM  I think about how I am going to get at that toe, clean, and make a chicken stock.

9:30 AM  We eat our daily popcorn.

Various times during the morning: People on Facebook post about their kids going out in the snow. And I recall my mom telling me to take them out.  And I resolve we will go out! And have fun!  Eventually!

10 AM  The baby comes into the kitchen, asks to be picked up for a cuddle.  I am so happy. I cuddle. 

10:01 AM  I walk into the living room and see that the baby has spread popcorn all over the floor.

10:02 AM  The baby laughs at me.  As I clean up the popcorn.  With him pointing and “yelling” at me in baby babble.

10:30 AM  The baby goes down for a nap, and I realize I must wait until he gets up to deal with that toe because Big girl is gonna scream.  I start in on the laundry.

10:45 AM I reach a new level of horrible mother and try to bribe Baby girl with the sandwich cookies she likes if she will let me clip her toe nails quietly.

10:45 AM  Baby girl negotiates, and it is um agreed? I will clip the nails after she is done with the vanilla side, but not the chocolate.  I go to do dishes.

11:00 AM  I go to the living room, see a teeth-scraped vanilla cookie and no chocolate cookie and realize I knew that was coming and I am an idiot.  I offer to cut Baby girl’s toe nails and am met with a sly smile and a NOPE!

11:30 AM  Mysteriously, the baby is still asleep, putting a dent in my  hard core mommy toe clipping plans.

11:45AM I offer lunch.

12:00 PM  We peek in on the baby.  Still asleep.  Toe clipping still halted.

12:15 PM Despite lunch having just been offered, a snack is requested.

12:20 PM  Someone “breaks into” the bag of baby clothes that is going to a coworker and slips into an 18 month sized Christmas dress from 08.

12:30 PM A snack is requested.

12:45 PM A snack is requested.

1:00 PM  A snack is requested and denied. Paints are offered.

1:05 PM  The baby is uncharacteristically asleep, so I lie on the couch while painting continues because that cough is making me tired.

1:10 PM  Baby girl begins falling asleep while painting.  I offer the couch.  Baby girl lies on couch with mommy.

1:15 PM Baby girl begins kicking mommy in the ribs. Mommy goes to eat cookies.

1:30 PM Nobody’s toes are clipped that weren’t clipped an hour ago.

1:45 PM Young neighbor from upstairs asks to use computer and mommy says yes and explains she is wearing her bathrobe OVER her clothes, so she is not as dead beat as she looks.

1:55 PM The baby wakes up, very happy. 

2:00 PM Lunch is offered to the baby.

2:05 PM Baby won’t stay in seat so lunch for the baby is ended.

2:10 PM  I realize that toe must be clipped before the tights before we venture out in the snow. 

2:15  PM I make coffee, realizing I might fall asleep in a snow drift out there.

2:20 PM  I get tough about the toe nail.  There is screaming.  I hope the neighbor realizes I am not a bad evil mom. 

2:25-2:35 PM  I squeeze people into coats and snow pants and mittens and hats.  The Baby begins screaming.  We leave the house with the baby not wearing a hat or mittens and I hope the rest of the neighbors realize I am not a bad evil mom.

2:35 PM The Baby’s nose begins bleeding the moment we step outdoors.

2:35  PM  I try to do the five minute warning but Baby girl looks at me like WTF!

2:35-3:15 PM  We walk about, the Baby screaming more often than not, still refusing mittens and hat.

3:18 PM We come inside. 

3:20 PM I offer hot chocolate to people I do not trust to drink out of mugs and who won’t drink anything hot anyway.  They do, however, appreciate the chocolate. I could not buy marshmallows cause I shopped with the baby and I could not find that aisle and he was about to have a fit.  So the hot chocolate has no marshmallows but they don't know the difference cause they are new to this world and don't know the customs.

3:30-4:30 PM  I try to do work emails.

4:15 PM  I text Daddy to see um when he might be expected to return.

4:30 PM I start on dinner.

4:31 PM  Everyone feels the kitchen is the only place to be and asking for food is the only way to interact with mommy at the moment.

4:35 PM  The cough comes on and the kids watch me as I cough.  They then cough, too.  We're SICK yells Big girl.

5 PM  I realize soup is silly for people this young.

5:30 PM  Dinner, having taken twenty minutes longer than usual cause I got all Martha Stewart and did this homemade stock thing, is being wiped off the floor.

5:35 PM  I race to set up the bath, making sure the kids do not follow me in there, or they will want to get in there now, and I am not ready for them to be in there now.  The Baby follows me around the house, repeating BAAATH BAAATH in a raspy stalker way which has been known to freak my mom out.

5:55 PM I wrangle wet babies out of the BAAATH.

6:00 PM Baby girl examines her toe nails.  I say SEE?  How smooth?  I am met with a frown. 

6:05 PM  The Your Baby Can Read commercial comes on, freaking Big girl out that she can’t read.  She asks for her dry erase letter board.

6:20 PM  Dad comes home.  But I am pretty sure there was apr├Ęs ski.  And he sits in his chair. 

7:00 PM Baby boy goes to bed.  Mad.

7:15 I read developmentally advanced chapter books to Big girl.  This satisfies her need to one up the babies on that Your Baby Can Read commercial.  It also lulls her to sleep.

7:30 PM Big girl wakes up when I drag her to the potty, and Daddy falls asleep on the couch.

8:00 PM  Big girl asleep.

I am happy Daddy got to ski.  But could Calgon come over for a little while?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

He's Our Second! We Know What We're...Oh Okay Fine, We Don't, or, Sick Baby Visits Are For Suckers

Our kids are healthy.

Last year when our son’s blood work came back wonky at his six month check up, we were reminded just how healthy and blessed our family is, because for a few weeks we weren’t sure we were that healthy and blessed.  We spent all of three hours in the pediatric hematology center at Mass General Hospital and realized just how good we have it, as our (at the time) 96th percentile baby waited for his exam and, thankfully, clean bill of health.

And yet, because we’re parents, we worry.

And sometimes even colds make us worry.

And fevers.

And the now that I really look at it strange way the toes on her foot line up cause what if it’s more?  What if there’s something WRONG.

But since there rarely is, my husband and I have learned not to call the doctor unless our kid is gushing blood and running a fever of 106.

So this time, we played it close to the hip.

Just before Christmas our three year old caught a cold, which spread to our seventeen month old.  So much snot I used large old cloth diapers from their spit up days to chase them around the house, trying to wipe and pick at them.  When the fevers spiked I knew what to do.  When the snot thickened, I took it in stride. I did not even entertain the thought of calling the doctor. 

The only thing this long two week trail of snot seemed to put a damper on was my vow to kick my beautiful but still night nursing son out of our bed.  For good this time.  No more caving. No more oh, I guess you can still this one time.  Knowing my show and the holidays would be over come December 27 (New Years is just no longer a holiday around here and I’ve found I get slightly irritated by even the thought of plans.  Give me my take out lone glass of wine!  Let me do all my laundry on the first!) I deemed that day the start of my brand new mommy life.  A life where I do not sleep in a pretzel shape and can freely go pee without my bed mates crying. 

But the 27th slide right past me on a slimy snotty road called hell.

With the odd exception of Christmas Eve, both kids have been waking up every hour for over a week.  While hippier parents than I see this as a wonderful way to snuggle and enjoy warm winter nights in a cozy family bed, I see this as a cruel reversion back to when I was trying to figure out how to get my mother to adopt my newborn because I didn’t think I could take the lack of sleep.  Foolishly I had spent my last trimester thinking I would be so happy to give birth so I could finally get some sleep because I was going to train my baby to sleep so I could sleep, too.

As the snot began to wane, I began to envision my salvation. 

On the 2nd, I fashioned a plan. 

“I’m really tired,” I told my husband.  I always announce this as a declaration that seems as though it should be a revelation to him.  But it’s been four years.  New info this ain’t.  “If he wakes up,” (I am always foolishly hopeful he will magically sleep) “comfort him and then leave the room, okay?”

“Sure.”

But there was a football game on.

And this is what happened instead:  around one, my son woke up.  I sprang from the bed, went out to where my husband was watching TV, and said “okay, just comfort him and get out of there.”  And off he disappeared.  But around 1:40, I woke up realizing my husband had never come back.  The monitor was silent.  Was he asleep on the floor, out for a beer?

A few minutes when by and then all hell broke loose as my husband came in to the living room, my screaming son in one arm.

Sleep deprivation chips away at your maternal instincts.

My gut reaction was not to cuddle but to yell “I SAID PUT HIM BACK AND GET OUT!!!”

But I didn’t.

“He threw up.”

Oh!

“All over the floor.”

But will he still wake up at 5:30 after this? 

“Tonight’s just not the night for this sleep thing.”

Well of course not NOW, NOW he’s AWAKE and out of that CRIB!

So my mommy self sprang into action and temperatures were taken and Tylenol was given and dang if that kid did not end up right where he was angling to be in the first place: in my bed.

The next night I was too tired to fight.  When he woke up yelling MaMa, MaMa, I acquiesced and he spent the next three hours tossing and turning and making creepy faces at shadows like the kid who sees dead people in The Sixth Sense.  Finally I realized he was not babbling to me but repeating CRIB! CRIB! to me and I placed him back and enjoyed a delightful sleep until five, when my daughter crawled in beside me and began moving the mucus around in her nose next to my head.  They are angels, they really are.

So last night I decided this was it.

I am too young to look this old.

And I decided I would not cave.

The night was long and the wails were loud, but I thought we made some real progress.

It was not until the afternoon when things went sour.

While napping my son proceeded to flip the f out.

His crying was frightening, as if he was in pain, and when he would not stop and could not stop and kept indicating his ear was killing him, my husband called in late to work, I decided not to take our daughter to dance, and we were lucky to have my mom be able to meet us at the doctor’s.

I should have had an inkling.

While waiting, I heard a nurse as she looked at the receptionist’s screen: “Crying?”
“Yep”  “What does that even mean?”  “Hunter.”  “Well okay!” 

Ridiculed!

Well we’d show them.

Once in the exam room, however, my son had different plans.  Once in the exam room my son turned on the full charm.  Smiles, sweet baby babbling, knowing looks.  As I gave the doctor the run down of his symptoms, he looked at her and said “yeah yeah yeah yeah” and pointed, which made the doctor smile and my heart sink.

“I don’t see anything,” she said as she washed her hands.

“We always wait to call!”

“It’s the magic of the doctor visit.”

“This always happens.  Nothing’s ever wrong.”

“He’s our second,” my husband added, as if to say: we’re not as stupid as this makes us seem, we know what we’re doing. 

“Even with the long cold, I’m not worried, no fever—“

“We’re never coming back here again, we promise.”

“You did exactly what you should.  We love to see you.”  This struck me as particularly embarrassing because she was not even our regular doctor, she was just looking at out file and how many times we used to call and zoom in before we toughened ourselves up, once, of course, we realized it was much harder to yank two kids into the sick baby visits than one kid, which is what we should have stopped at because clearly we are crazy Munchhausen-by-proxy parents who will next be insisting our kids have Ebola, Typhoid, and leprosy just to get the attention we so clearly crave.

“Maybe he had a nightmare,” she offered.

“Maybe…” I looked down at my son, who was nursing with a huge shit eating grin on his face until our eyes met, and then he laughed at me.

“Maybe he’s going through something,” she offered again.  “Babies go through things, we just don’t know.”

“Through things?”

“Maybe it’s behavioral.”

“Behavioral?”

So our kid, at seventeen months, is a maladjusted hypochondriac.

“He might be working something out.”

Chagrined, we put his shoes and socks back on.

My husband took my mom’s car to go get ready for work and the rest of us drove back home.

“We’re never going back there again.”

My mother is slightly amused by this all.

In the back seat my son babbled and giggled.

“Poor baby,” my mom gushed.

“Poor baby, whatever.  He’s happy. Listen to him.  He is LAUGHING at me."

My mom let out her own laugh.

“What could he be working through?  Everyone else is working through!  He’s the one person whose plans did not change today!”

My mom laughed harder.

“You think he’s mad at the C-I-O?” [Current lingo for cry it out—controversial but oh so effective sleep training.  And until you have been so tired you shake on a continued basis, don’t try to talk me out of it.  My kids are mules.  We’ve tried almost every method out there.  They don’t drift off.  They don’t deeply slumber.  They need 4 hours of wind down time and adults saying get out of my bed if our household is going to sleep for more than two hours in a row.  And that is something I have not done in months.  Literally.  Sleep for more than two hours in a row….].

We both looked back at him.

He laughed back at both of us.

“Will you do it again?”

“Of course I’m going to do it again.   He’s got to get out of my bed. If it doesn’t work, he’s already messed up by it anyway, another week won’t matter we can deal with his psycho issues then. Right now I need sleep.”

This made my mom roar.  She is a therapist and was married to a manic depressive. She gets and likes crazy-pants humor.

“I do feel bad maybe he is just remembering last night over and over maybe.  Maybe he is just really pissed off today.”

And while many would say it is impossible for a seventeen month old to fake it, I am not so sure.

Cause I’ll tell you what: despite hours of screaming and ear holding, once he shined in the light of that sick baby visit, he has not once held that ear or screamed his take me to the ped’s office right now you abusive parents, or I am calling DSS cry.

The little stinker.  Having one over on his sleep deprived mum and dad.  

We are really never taking him to the doctor's again.