Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Motherhood: When it's good...

...it's fantastic. When it's bad, it's like a bad babysitting gig that Will. Not. End. When it's really bad, it's like a job as a prison guard.

This morning was a little like the prison guard gig, though it's more about my fatigue than it is about how cranky BabyGirl has been--it's not like I've had feces thrown at me, yet. And I haven't been bitten in, like, months. But as I was getting her dressed I realized that she was passively resisting me, quite calmly, the entire time. Arms come out head opening, feet find their way into the same leg of the pants, toes spread wide, and so on. It was the look on her face that tipped me off, plus the fact that every little thing went wrong--consistency like that is probably deliberate.

It makes me just so tired. I'm a mombie for now. See Mr. Nice Guy's blog for a definition: http://bonnehomme.blogspot.com/

The good news is that tomorrow we head over the river and through the woods to see Grandma Boo.

It dawned on me the other day that since the day I met this child, I haven't been away from her for more than, say, four or five hours. That kind of freaks me out, especially since I didn't even notice that fact until it had been a year. I need a day off, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Lessons Learned From A Stomach Bug

Lesson One: Everyone has a nemesis, the one smell/sight/sound (or combination thereof) that just sends them straight into Nausea Land and mine is a certain type of diarrhea--I'll spare you the details, but I have to say: I can handle dog and baby poo (and barf, too, as it happens I also discovered) with little difficulty, aside from some nose-wrinkling and a need to wash my hands ASAP. But this stuff... just really makes me start gagging instantly.

What? You didn't read the title of this post? Your problem, dude. I warned you.

Lesson Two: Having a child who bounces back swiftly from colds and rarely gets any other kind of illness has been way better than I realized. I've heard of rotavirus that just ran rampant through playgroups and left everyone wretched for weeks but Dada has, thank God and knock wood, avoided it. And carsick? Don't make me laugh. She does great on a full stomach with her dad flinging her around by her feet in a way that makes me queasy to watch (and not just from the fear that she'll go flying across the room and slam into a wall).

Lesson Three: When this same child says "belly hurts" in the car, you pay attention. No, wait, you PAY ATTENTION. Not that there's anything you can do about it, because it's not a signal that she's going to spew all over the inside of your car right that minute, just that she might in the next few hours. Might want to head home when you hear that. Or not. Whatever.

Still working out the details on this particular lesson.

Lesson Four: Tagteam parenting becomes key when you have a stomach bug making the rounds. Wednesday, Dad's singing the YAAAARGH Aria in the can and spends the rest of the day looking like a less-active-than-average zombie so Mom's on the job. Thursday, Mom's heaving (a bit more daintily but still... damn, I would have welcomed an alien bursting out of my chest because, ok, sure, you're dead, but it's over and you don't have to deal with it again) and then has the dreaded Bucket Flu* and, voila, Dad's taking the child to Mother's Day Out (or, in this case, Mother's Day Begging For The Sweet Release of Death) and bringing her home and things are more or less under control. Friday's trickier because there's no MDO and both parents are still a bit puny, ditto for Saturday. But if Eliot was one of those useless dads who can't look after the child for a while? Damn. I'd be lost.

That's enough of the lessons for now. Maybe I'll have more when I'm fully recovered.

*Bucket Flu? That's when you need to keep a bucket next to the toilet. I'll spare you more detail.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I've been mulling a conversation from a few weeks back--a friend had explained to a small child that she'll get more from people if she says "please" and "thank you" than if she doesn't. The child had previously taken the position that such words were a waste of time because people will give you stuff whether you say them or not. Her little brother had caught on to the "more stuff" aspect sooner and she was realizing, at age 8, that she'd missed out.

Say what?

First, I have a two-year-old who's figured out that Mommy doesn't get out of her chair anymore before she hears "please" and that repeating the word "more" combined with the sign language for "more" doesn't substitute. The child struggles a bit with pronouncing L and S, too, but makes herself understood. How does a kid get to be 8-frickin-years-old without learning to say please?

Second, why hasn't anyone explained to this child that you say please and thank you because it's just what you do and not because it gets you stuff? That it's the way we demonstrate that we know how to move in the social world? Also, saying please and thank you to people who are no position to do you a favor is the mark of a decent human being.

And not doing that means you're essentially a bully.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Mom Reading

In peparation for the move (argh) we've packed up all the stray books around the house, so I'm going to have to just remember what I read...

One of the essays was by Anne Lamott and said, and I paraphrase here, that even the most well-intentioned, reasonable parents occasionally lose their shit completely and scream at their kids. I had mixed feelings, of course: part of me said, I'd never do that while the other part said, yo, self, you already have. Her point was that nobody can get under your skin like your kids because they know exactly how to yank your chain. [And I'm thinking, how is it possible that I can hold such completely opposing ideas at the same time? Oh, right, denial. Mmm, sweet sweet denial. A parent's best friend.]

Another essay bugged me more: it's the title essay from Mother Shock: Loving Every [Other] Minute of It and the gist was, we mothers have to just come right out and admit that we don't actually enjoy being a mom all the time, some parts are a drag and we just have to acknowledge that, blah blah blah. And I'm thinking, say WHAT? On what PLANET are moms pretending that it's fun all the time? And what DRUGS are they on, anyway? [And can I get some? Wait, nevermind. No, tell me...oh, no, don't.] And, after some reflection, I'm thinking: yay, somebody whose denial is worse than mine.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nighttime Weirdness

BabyGirl woke up sobbing sometime last night. I think the crying might be because she has a cold and was feeling awful because the sobs sounded like the I-Feel-Lousy variety(I asked her where it hurt and didn't get an answer*). It took a some time spent sitting on her bedroom floor, rocking her and talking quietly to get her settled down--so I had some time to sort out why I was so disoriented, aside from the fact that I have a cold, too: I'd also had one of my weirdo nightmares.

I sometimes have the usual sort of nightmare, where I'm running away from horrible things and can't get away, blah blah blah, but I more typically have the sort of nightmare that suggests a really twisted subconscious, to wit: I dreamed I was at my mother's wake and a very drunk Frank Sinatra (!) approached me to tell me about how he dated my mom and wasn't she the greatest, except that his conversation became increasingly inappropriate for a wake and even more inappropriate for the subject's daughter, for cryin out loud. And I found that I couldn't look him in the eye because I was staring at his ugly toupee, which looked like an SOS pad or something.

Imagine my relief, as I rocked my miserable child and realized: My mother is still alive; Frank Sinatra is still dead, never knew my mother and, while he wore toupees, they were never as ugly as the horror in my dream.

Did I mention that I have a cold, too? Of course I do. Of course.

*BabyGirl is 2 years old and can talk (a little) about what's hurting her--when she got her last shots, she was a brave little soldier during the first two shots (in her tender little thighs--yeeek!) but for the next two she cried and said Owie! and Hurts! which made even the nurses cry.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Giving Birth

I'm an adoptive mom. I know that bio moms and adoptive moms have plenty of shared reasons to be equally Pissed Off, but sometimes I just marvel at the differences.

This last Christmas my Amazon wish list was loaded with books of earnest essays about motherhood and so I spent most of January mulling them over. Here's what I've learned:

1. With all due respect: Birth stories are interesting, but I can only read so many. I'm fascinated by hear the birth stories of friends and family, but most of the time, once the story's been processed enough to be written down for mass consumption, it's been drained of what makes it engaging: the horror and the comedy. This is why Shirley Jackson's birth stories (see Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages) are so great. The best part of the birth stories is that they make me glad I didn't give birth.

2. Again, with respect: Most newborns are kind of boring. They're weirdly floppy and can't really focus. They cry and pee and poop, but only someone charged with the care of the child really cares about that stuff. And one's thoughts while gazing at the face of one's newborn child tend to be boring, too, though some of that is probably the result, again, of too much processing for public consumption. I can only read "aw, so precious" or "holy shit, I'm in trouble now" so many times, you know?

3. I got really tired of reading, in effect, "Pregnancy and birth turned me into a mother." Well, yeah, it's true of course, but actually taking care of a child is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

That's enough for now. I'll have more later.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I'm so tired of this particular bit of wisdom, from none other than Dr. Spock and his heirs: trust your instincts--you'll know what to do. Truth is, a lot of the time I have no idea what to do. How long to I let her cry in her crib before I rush in there to provide comfort? I've rushed in and found a sleepy-but-now-increasingly-alert child who probably would have gone back to sleep in a minute or two but will now be awake for hours. I can hear the difference between a frantic, something-is-terribly-wrong cry and a sleepy, had-a-bad-dream-but-dozing-off-again cry. Most of the time, that is, because there's a continuum of cries between those two types, not all of which can be neatly classified by a half-asleep parent in the next room.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg: there are endless decisions that we full-time caretakers make every day and sometimes there's a sort of decisional gridlock that sets in and every single choice takes on a sense of huge import. Sometimes I just send up a quick, silent prayer* and go unload the dishwasher; other times, it's just more of the endless improvisation that makes up so much of my day.

And again, I have to point out: I have an easygoing kid. How do parents look after the colicky baby, or "Spririted Child" without going nuts? I wonder.

*I have two prayers that I rely on: the Prayer of the Pissed-Off Mom, which is "God, give me patience, RIGHT NOW." And, one that an AA friend told me about, the Short Form Serenity Prayer, which is "Fuck It."