Friday, January 4, 2008


Thank God its the Weekend.

As with most people, weekends have always been my golden times. As a kid I got to stay up to watch Fantasy Island and maybe even have a friend sleep over. As a teenager I got to go out and 'hang' with my friends. In college it was time to let off steam and party like rock stars (or stupid kids - or maybe that's the same thing). In law school it was the brief respite between grueling weeks of stuffing knowledge into my already full head. As a 20-something in the work world it was the time to find all the new hotspots and the hotties there in.

Now, in my 30s - married and with a young child I have officially lamed out. The 18-year-old me would be so disappointed. I vividly remember asking my sister, who is almost 4 years older than I am, to come out with me to my favorite bar one night when I was 21. She declined saying that she didn't like the loud music and slobbering drunks - that she would rather sit in a quiet pub with her friends and chat over drinks. I remember thinking "oh my gawd don't ever let me get that lame". Well folks I am wellllll past that lame. I cannot remember the last time I've seen the inside of a dance club. Sure I go out from time to time to a nice restaurant bar or maybe even a pub but those instances are few and far between compared to the younger me.

This weekend I will spend my time catching up on housework, emails, shopping and connecting with friends. I will do a little cooking, cleaning and internet surfing. But most of all I will spend my free time with my daughter and my husband making silly faces to get a baby giggle, or reading "The Very Quiet Cricket" for the umpteenth time since she loves the pictures, or playing endless rounds of peekaboo. In the evenings, after Cora is in bed, hubby and I will pour a glass of wine, put in a movie and hunker down on the couch. My guess is I will be in bed by 10:00.... Maybe 11:00 if I'm feeling brazen.

This is what the 21-year-old me would have called a bitterly disappointing, "lameo" weekend. Its what the 34-year-old me calls wonderful.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Dinner Bell

It is dinnertime as I sit and type this entry. My hubby asks me "what should we have for dinner?" Although this is seemingly simple and benign question, due to my own insecurities, I take it as a personal attack. What he meant was to inquire whether or not I had any ideas for the evening meal. What I heard was "why don't you ever have a plan for dinnertime and why do we always eat frozen crap?" Poor guy.

It seems that I am not getting "in the groove" of this working mother thing. I envision other mothers making weekly grocery lists that contain all necessary ingredients for each planned daily meal as well as replenishing necessary staples. My husband does not let me go grocery shopping. Apparently I spend money on things that are not necessary. I can't help it if from time to time things like capers and chipotle Tabasco look appealing for reasons unknown to man. They just seem to jump into the cart.

Anyhoo suffice it to say while I enjoy cooking when I have time, I never seem to have any. I'm sure if I were a better time manager, or multi-tasker, or had a cabana boy I could get it all together. But as it stands, hubby and I eat pizza, meatloaf, crock pot fare, spaghetti or edamame most nights. If we end up having a balanced meal it is by sheer accident. This makes me quite nervous for days ahead. Right now Cora is a bottle girl who dabbles in "first foods" and rice cereal. Sometimes we get time to feed her "dinner" (apart from her bottle); most nights we do not. Since we get home around 5:30 and her bedtime routine starts at 6:30 we spend what little time we have with her holding her and playing with her. Thank goodness she gets rice ceral each lunchtime at daycare. On top of that, mornings are an orchestrated chaos with no time leftover. I shudder to think about what will happen when I actually have to feed my child real meals. Meals with nutritious content and at least limited forethought. It actually keeps me up nights thinking about it. Right now I have absolutely no idea how I will accomplish this. But that is something "Future Mommy" will have to worry about. Right now I gotta go eat - the pizza's done.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Vomitus Maximus

Cora is a reflux baby. That's not so uncommon. What is uncommon is my husband's serious and deep seated hatred of vomit. This extends back as far as I've known him. He doesn't even like seeing someone throw up on TV or in the movies. If he sees someone throw up in person, he will likely join in. This is not a good trait to have if you have a baby who barfs often and without warning. At first he accepted it as a temporary (if disgusting) thing. It was even mildly amusing that everytime he seemed to be wearing something with his beloved Chief's team logo on it, she would inexplicably let loose all over it. No matter when she had eaten last. No matter how long she had been sitting calmly in daddy's arms.

After six months of constant unexpected "blessings" by Coco however, he became less tolerant and more and more, um, dissatisfied. The dealbreaker came when he was running late one morning and was wearing his brand new cashmere Banana Republic sweater. It was too tempting a scenario for the puke gods. She let him have it. I heard him swear all the way downstairs.

At first, I tried to be kind and understanding explaining that while I didn't love her puking all over my new Ann Taylor dress before I had even cut the tags off, it was not her fault and was in fact out of her control, so yelling was unfair to her and hurtful. I even went so far as to sweetly mention that it probably wasn't any fun for her either. I did my best to deliver this message in my sweetest June Cleaver voice while still conveying deep sympathy and understanding for my husband (never once betraying my feeling of "well that's why God made burp rags to wear over your shoulder dumb---"). Sure that I had imparted sage wisdom to my husband I assumed it was a momentary lapse of reason and that all would be right future forward. Whatever.

This morning as I was running amok in my usual "crap I'm already running five minutes late and I haven't even gotten out of the shower" ritual, I heard the familar "DAMNIT CORA WHAT THE F__K!" Ever heard the saying "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"? Mama wasn't happy. I went into Cora's room to see hubby holding her at arms length like a diseased banana while trying to grab for a burp cloth. Upon seeing me enter, he disgustedly said "She did it again!" As if she stayed awake most of the night plotting this nefarious little deed. Mama got unhappier. Whether it was a combination of running late on top of the haze of having actually caved and having drunk the "pink wine" that was in our fridge the night before, or whether I just woke up on the wrong side of sunshine, once Cora was safely playing in the other room I let hubby have it. I "explained" in no uncertain terms that this was not something she was doing on purpose, that seven-month-old babies can't do much of ANYthing on purpose, that he was the grown up and needed to start acting like it; that if he was so squeamish that a tablespoon of baby puke set him off then he needed to build a bridge and get over it. I told him that Cora was going to spit up. A lot. And often. So get right with it. Period. Paragraph. That is your only option. I then left the room in a very dramatic huff.

So, now with the benefit of time, caffeine and reflection, did I handle that as well as I could have? Um, no. But, did daddy having it coming? Probably. And, as far as Cora is concerned, it will keep coming. Ad infinitim, ad nauseum.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolution

Each year most of us come up with New Year's resolutions. For me, this year it's to stop swearing like a sailor while driving with Coco in the car (I can't help it if everyone on the road other than me is a &%^$# moron).

What I would like more than that, is for all Moms to make one New Year's resolution together: Stop lying to each other.

I cannot for the life of me understand where this started or why it continues. Perhaps its as deep as Darwinism (our desire to make our offspring seem the most desirable and thus the "fittest") or as shallow as "keeping up with the Joneses". In either case its destructive and makes me sad and frustrated. When I had Cora, I expected exactly what I had been told by so many other moms (and the media). I expected the heavens to open, harps to play, angels to sing, and my life to suddenly be whole and in focus. Instead I was tired, groggy, scared, overwhelmed, sore, and depressed. Since no one else had ever told me they felt this way, I lay in my hospital bed feeling like a failure from the start. I was supposed to have taken one look in my new baby's eyes and felt my heart swell so much it would burst. Instead I saw an adorable little pile of baby goo that I had no idea what to do with. I loved her instantly (I loved her in the womb), but that didn't mean that I suddenly felt that all was right with the world the moment she was laid in my arms.

When I got home, this continued. I still felt tired, groggy, scared, overwhelmed, sore and depressed (and yes, in love with my little one too) but now it was on display to well-meaning friends and family in what seemed like a constant stream of visitors. I spiraled downward - beginning to feel like maybe I shouldn't have been a mother... maybe I wasn't cut out for it. This was compounded by the fact that I didn't enjoy - wait strike that, grew to hate - breastfeeding. There. *Gasp* I said it. I felt like a rolling milk cart instead of a person. I told my husband I felt like the soft-serve machine at the end of a buffet line - never ending demand and good for nothing else. When, after a month, I made the decision to quit breastfeeding I felt so much guilt I cried for the better part of a whole day. I had failed as a mother. I did not feel overwhelmed with love, light and perfectness, and I did not enjoy the one thing that was supposed to bring me perfected bonding time looking into my baby's eyes and feeling blissful. On top of that I was depriving my child of the only food that would make her perfect... I was all but guaranteeing her IQ wouldn't reach double digits. I was a monster.

Later, once I returned to work, (yes, again a guilt factor in and of itself) I was plagued by other women asking questions about Cora's development; both women who had babies and those whose children were older. Almost without fail I would hear how so-and-so got his first tooth at 4 months, or that such-and-such was walking by 8 months, or that little-baby-x was sleeping 10 hours a night by 6 weeks. I was told these things as if they were the doing of either parent or child, and not of happenstance (IF they were even all accurate, which I doubt); and as if they were badges of baby honor. As if, for some reason, Cora was not sleeping through the night by six weeks then there was something not right about her - or me.

When I was pregnant with Cora, I had a friend whom I could call with any question no matter how gross, weird, uninformed or odd and she would answer me as if I had asked her what the weather would be like. No judgment, no gloss, no blowing sunshine anywhere it didn't naturally belong. For that, Sarah, I thank you. I now offer to do that for any of my friends who find themselves expecting. I've also taken to being completely honest with my other new-mommy friends. Yes Cora got some teeth early and sits up like a champ. But she wakes up for her paci what seems like a million times a night and makes not one iota of effort to even think about rolling over much less crawling. When I'm honest with other mommies, I get such shocked reactions of joy it makes me sad. Almost without exception, the women I am talking with then open up and admit what they feel are their (or their baby's) "failings." They admit that they thought they were the only ones feeling that way, or that their child was not measuring up in some way. We talk about what is really going on and realize that we all have our good and bad days, good and bad moments, good and bad thoughts, and accomplishments or setbacks.

We are not perfect. Our children are not perfect. So be it. Lets take the good with the bad. Lets show each other honesty - not competition. Lets make sure we're not setting other mothers up to feel like failures. Lets be sure we're allowing ourselves room for error. Lets make sure we're not setting our children up to strive for nothing short of perfection or genius. Most of all, lets support each other with the truth - now that's a resolution to aspire to.

Monday, December 31, 2007

This Is A Man's World?

I am the Mommy. Mommies are the center of all babies worlds. Mommies are the ones who cause little faces to light up, who calm fears, kiss boo boos better and fulfill any and every need our child has by our mere presence. Or at least that's what we're led to believe. So why this past week has my whimpering or cranky child turned into a ray of sunshine when Daddy walks in the room? Why has my uninterested baby suddenly begun babbling and cooing when Daddy gets down on the floor to play? Why has my squirmy little monkey begun reaching with all her might for Daddy as he walks by. This is not fair. This is not what I signed up for. I am supposed to be the beacon of light in her little world. Daddy is supposed to range from mildly entertaining to perhaps even slightly scary sometimes (at which times of course Mommy would swoop in to the rescue and comfort the little angel).

Don't get me wrong, I wanted an involved Daddy - someone who would change diapies, feed bottles, read stories, play games, and do hair. And I got that. I am lucky. Very lucky. But I didn't anticipate the side consequence that, as a result of all this co-parenting, there would be times Coco would prefer Daddy to Mommy. Ouch. That wasn't supposed to happen. Back when I was a kid, Daddy was the one who would play horsie, bring presents back from business trips, and force me to eat my peas. But Daddy did not (for the most part) kiss boo boos, pick out matching socks, or choose the right barrette to go with my outfit. Because of that, Mommy was the one I turned to when I needed a little extra comfort. Now, in my current world, Cora vacillates back and forth between having Mommy days and Daddy days (or in the recent case, Daddy weeks - humpf).

Hurt ego aside, I'm hoping that this is helping to teach her that 1) Men can be partners in the home and in parenting, and 2) that men can be nurturing and loving and involved. If that is the lesson we're instilling, then I can take a bruised ego from time to time.

But I'd better still be the one who gets to kiss away the boo boos. That's non-negotiable.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Everyone's A Critic

As with most new couples (especially those with little ones) my husband and I spent the holidays shuttling Cora around to make sure all the various family members got to see her (note I say "her" - not "us". Trust me on that one - once you have kids even your own parents have no interest in seeing you if you don't bring the grandchild along. Its the circle of life - just get right with it.). Spending time with my husband's family is great since we don't often get to see them (my family is in town, his is 2.5 hours away) but I always feel as if my parenting skills are being examined under a microscope. Hey, I am new at this. I will give you that. But I am still the Mommy -- and Mommy law is like Martial law in my mind. What Mommy says, goes. Unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

My husband and I (with the support of our pediatrician) are believers in the CIO method of naptime and bedtime. For you non-kiddy types, that stands for Cry It Out. What that means is that we put Cora down to bed drowsy but awake and let her fuss for a while (if need be) instead of rocking her to sleep and then putting her down. This does NOT mean we let our child get worked up into hysterics nor do we simply shut the door and start pouring the martinis. Obviously we reassure her, as needed, that mommy and daddy are still around, but that it is bedtime. This allows her to learn to soothe herself to sleep which is a skill all children have to acquire at some point so that she doesn't wake up confused about where she is ("hey I was in mommy's arms when I went to sleep - where the heck am I?")

Some people have a problem with letting children CIO. My inlaws are those people. Now granted, when Cora is in a strange place, we do not lock her in a strange room and make her work it out. However, after we've fed, burped, rocked, and lullabyed her, and she drifts off to sleep on my shoulder, it is time to put her down. If she wakes up and crys, I stay by her crib but let her know its "night night" time and I do not pick her up. This means she may cry up to 15 minutes. The inlaws hate this. Trust me, I fully understand that it is not pleasant to hear a child cry for minutes at a time and that not all people subscribe to this style of parenting. I don't ask them to like it, I just ask that they respect it.

His immediate family has gotten to a point of quiet acceptance. After one or two "are you sure you don't just want me to go rock her"'s from his Mom, they will let it be. The extended family is another thing. The first night I put Cora to bed at the inlaws, I stayed in the room with her to make sure she felt safe. She did start to cry, and when Mommy didn't pick her up got upset. This happens, and most often she will peter out after she realizes Mommy is serious and will move on to playing with her hands or paci and then fall asleep. However in the interim I had no fewer than three people peek their heads into our room with either offers of help "rocking her to sleep" or questions about her well being. I finally caved to the pressure, got Cora out of her crib and brought her into the living room to try and allow her to fall asleep in my arms. Big mistake. Going from a quiet dark bedroom to a room where an entire family of 20 is drinking, talking, watching TV and playing cards is not conducive to getting a baby to sleep. Cora got even more upset. At that point both baby and mommy's nerves were frayed. Baby was confused and overtired, and mommy felt like she caved against her own best judgement. The final straw was when Hubby's aunt came over and quite literally pried Coco out of my arms telling me that Cora had gotten too upset and needed to be calmed. Ok 1)taking an "upset" baby from its mother is not the quickest way to get it to calm down, and 2) Ryan's Aunt has, at least so far, made the life decision not to get married or have children. Those are two things, in tandem that snapped my last nerve (i.e. someone forcefully taking my child from my arms, and someone without children giving me a parental lecture). At that point I removed Cora from the interceptor, told everyone we were going to BOTH go to bed for the night and that we would see them all in the morning. It was 8:15pm.

Soooo now I'm the bad guy (ok gal) as usual. I'm the one who not only went up against the family system, I am the anti-social, know-it-all, ogre of a mother who went to bed at 8:15 rather than stay up drinking and carousing with the family. Or at least that's how its seen. Its a no-win. Either I stay true to my parenting principles and am banished for it, or I cave in and do something that I feel isn't right for my child. I'm either a bad mommy or a bad inlaw. *le sigh* But you know what, when it all comes down to it, my inlaws will not be choosing my nursing home, pushing my wheelchair, or giving me drooly baby kisses each night. For me, there is a clear winner here.