Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bring On The Krampus! Or At Least Channel Your Mother

It is too late to to make it this year, but if you would like to become your mother, your own beloved mother who, at holiday time, became an unreasonable ball of stress that your family feared and avoided, I have developed a plan that will have you stomping around and giving your loved ones the silent treatment in just three easy steps.

1. Have a child
2. Have a holiday
3. Attempt to do anything at all

It really is that simple, folks!

Last Christmas was Isaac's first and we spent it at Matt's parent's house. The kid was still a baby so he didn't know, or care, what was up with all the presents and house-trees. Our biggest concern was getting to our destination and back on an airplane without being that family with the baby (we were, that family, FYI). Traveling was nice because we had to pack lightly, we were given a reasonable amount of reasonably sized gifts that would fit into an overhead compartment, Isaac was still nursing, so when things got rough we would slip away into a quiet room for some down time...we were awash in new-parent ignorance, and it, as they say, was bliss.  This year...oh this year. This year we stayed home, and we had to face the music.  The music coming out of every toy train, every singing Christmas ornament, piped through every store's sound system, and sung by the angelic church choir-- obscured of course by the whining of an over-tired 18-month-old in a necktie. I don't remember the exact words, but the refrain was something like "Christmas sucks, Christmas sucks, I hate you Christmas time..." sung to the tune of jingle bells. Sure, we didn't have to fly, but nothing about this holiday seemed reasonable. Least of all, me.
On Christmas Eve, Isaac and I went to pull our 4 o'clock shift at the church nursery for the early family mass.  Ike went down for a nap at 3, because of course. When I had to get him up we proceeded to have our tenth "argument" of the day over, of all things, his shoes.  This kid sleeps in his shoes when we let him.  If we somehow manage to get him to the crib without them, he wants them on as soon as he wakes up.  Matt and I have to be shod at all times or else he cries.  Flip-Flops seem to bother him, I suspect because they aren't real shoes. Boots are the best, in his opinion, and he often tries to wear more than one pair of shoes at a time.  On Christmas Eve, however, fifteen minutes before we have to leave the house, he won't put any shoes on. Not new ones, not old ones, not mis-matched ones, not slippers or sneakers. "Nununununu", he said, shaking his head at me.  "Fine!" I finally said, tossing his new, awesome and matching shoes to the side, "but I'm leaving this house in five minutes and you can either put your shoes on and join me, or you can stay home alone and wait for Daddy.  I'm going to call Santa Clause and tell him to take all of your toys back". He is EIGHTEEN months old.  He doesn't know a) how to put his shoes on or, b) what 5 minutes means, I could or would never leave him alone on another floor of the house, let alone home alone, I don't know Santa's number, and even if I did there's no way it would matter because the kid has ZERO point of reference when it comes to the "naughty or nice" element of the popular tale. But the words were out there, I stood my ground.
This was the transformative moment for me.  I felt the sweet release of the Mom frustration, the end of the anger pile-up that began the day after Thanksgiving and was just building to a foaming, frothing boil. The gifts were wrapped in color-coded paper, labeled in complimentary home-made tags, the tree was perfect and twinkling and even still alive, I was dressed in something that didn't pull or itch or make me look like a blimp, I had heels on-- I didn't care anymore if his shoes matched his goddamned tie, or whatever, and I didn't care if he didn't like how things were going down.  He was going to wear that damn tie, the sport coat, and the new shoes.  He didn't have to like it, he didn't even have to stop whining about it, we just had to LEAVE. And we did! I felt like Bunny when she meant business. I felt the power of not giving a rat's ass if the kid thinks you're the wicked witch or the not-fun parent. I was Krampus, stuffing the kid into a sack, and I was high on that power for like, ten or fifteen minutes.

 It was awesome. Of course, things went downhill from there, but whatever.  There were no kids in the church nursery so we went through all that for nothing. We ran back home to help Matt make a dip that we forgot to even serve, made it to my parents at 6:00 to sit around and wait for the tenderloin to cook for 2 more hours,  Isaac cried 90 times and was a clingy, whiny mess due to the sheer amount of stimulation and attention he was receiving from the twenty-plus guests, the adorable outfit I fought with him over lasted about an hour before it was covered in hors d'oeuvres to the point of being un-wearable, he wouldn't eat dinner but was content to suck on cookies instead, and I am pregnant and was therefore sober.  Dreadfully sober. And my feet hurt in those heels but of course I couldn't tell anyone and blow my "no big deal, I'm easy-breezy fashion mom" cover. We went home and collapsed at about 9, Matt and I saying to each other "fuuuu, it's only Christmas Eve. There's still more", before rising to play Santa for another hour or so (and not in a fun way. In a "where did you put the tape? Oh here it is, wait, it's empty, are we out of tape? Like OUT out? Or just out of this one? Are you even listening to me?" way).
I learned a few powerful lessons this year.  First, I learned (for the millionth time), that I was nowhere near good enough to my mom.  No wonder she never really seemed to get all gooey and Christmas-y the way moms in the movies do! She had to do all the same stuff I did on Monday, but with two more children, and host dinner at her house (and an event at Bunny's house is no small feat.  We're not talking about lining up for the buffet with paper plates here.  She's got all the china, all the silver, a million candles, cloth napkins starched to perfection, she cooks the dinner, cleans the house before and after, preps the bar and still manages to be an impeccable hostess throughout. Oh, and this year she had to go to work afterwards. Bunny wouldn't like to hear me blaspheme like this, but Martha Stewart should seriously be honored to kiss my mom's ass when it comes to putting on a dinner). Never will I ever be able to express how much I have taken my mom for granted over the years. Christmas With A Child #2  just crystallized it for me.
Also, I learned that Santa Claus is there for a reason.  I have heard some parents say that they feel uncomfortable "lying" to their children about who brings them presents.  To this I would like to say "fuuuuk that". I understand now why we have to invoke a higher power: because kids don't listen. They really don't care in the slightest if you are late or early, over tired or stressed, they could give a shit if you, the mom, need them to listen and respond right now.  Kids are jerks. What they do care about is the promise of toys and the magic man who brings them.  Isaac is even too young to understand this white lie, but boy did it feel good to hurl consequences like "no toys! Ever!," even if they fell on deaf ears.  They won't next year Ha Ha! But seriously, your children know you work hard.  They get it, they see you leave the house, they know when you are away.  You don't have to make it so aggressively clear that you are the one buying all those Christmas presents with your hard-earned money, the same money that stresses you out when the heat bill is due or you have to pay the sitter. There are 364 other days in the year to talk about work.  Let Santa have this one, let the little ones believe that being good children has a reward that is really special (beyond their mother's not eating them alive or putting them on Craig's List under the "Free" heading). And besides, do you remember when you figured out the ruse? And do you further remember how long you pretended to still believe, for your parent's sake? I said that kids are jerks, but I never said they are dumb.
I learned that white sweaters are adorable, yes, and fashionable to boot, but are best saved for a time when your child is asleep or far, far away, lest the gift from your stylish sister-in-law become one big napkin upon which your toddler will wipe his pepperoni-covered hands. 
Lastly I learned that Christmas is a particular kind of hell reserved for those who have a life outside of decorating, shopping, and the Elf on the Shelf (don't get me started). For parents who work--in or outside the home, for those for whom just keeping the kids alive and the house from burning to the ground for another 24 hours IS the job, for those of us who get to December 22nd and suddenly think "Ahhh! The world didn't end! Christmas!", the holidays are just one more damn thing we want to do, one more thing we want to do really well. We would like nothing more than to be festive and chipper and dressed in red. We want to be the kind of people who bake 15 dozen cookies and host theme-parties. Sure, we want all that. Just not enough to actually DO all that. For us normals, just getting our kids to wear shoes and not sneeze on the elderly is the best we can arrive at. The stomping around, the empty threats, the silent treatment-- those things are all for us. They are little surprise stocking stuffers we give to ourselves at the end of a hectic month. We earned them, so let's enjoy our fits! I didn't know how she'd take it, so I hesitated before telling my mother about my "Bunny Moment" on Christmas Eve. I didn't want her to be hurt.  When I finally came clean and told her that I had become my mother, she asked me "was I awful?" To which I laughed and replied "No! Not at all! You were a mom!".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

WWBD? What Would Bunny Do? (Ella Ella Ella)

I had my 20 week ultrasound last week, everything is in its proper place, it seems, the heart is pumping properly, baby kidneys are functioning, 10 fingers, 10 toes, and after a few moments of struggling with a stubborn and comfortable fetus, the ultrasound tech was able to see that we are likely having a baby girl this time.  A girl baby is not as easy to say with certainty, all we know is that there are no testicles.

Now what? I don't even know where to begin.  I'm a huge player in the cult of the girl.  I was a Girl Scout longer than it was cool (wait, it was cool at one point, right?), I went to an all girl's high school and an all women's college.  I have been a feminist since before I knew there was a special word for it, eat sleep and breathe all things equality, mostly with the well being of women and children first and foremost in my mind. I have always imagined having a daughter of my own. Maybe because I was a girl, it is something I can relate to. I have never been a little boy (although, please, do your gentle hearts a favor and go listen to "When I Was a Boy" by Dar Williams when you're done here [sentimental cry face]. If you don't get a lump in your throat, then you need a hug as big as life itself. Carry on).

 Maybe I want to replicate and see from the other side what it was to be my mother.  Those formative moments stick to my memory-- the time she told me "girls can be whatever they want to be when they grow up", and I challenged her.  I thought it over and remember thinking "ok, I've got it.  Girls can't be firemen and boys can't be cheerleaders". Bunny was not having any of that, and corrected me.  Then, I remember, argumentative as ever, telling her that I knew girls could not grow up to be dads (Funny, how my 'gotcha' moment 25 years ago is now my jumping off point today. Like HELL girls can't grow up to be dads! I know of plenty of little girls who grew up to be great dads). The finer points of gender identity aside, my mother never let me think of myself as "just a girl". I want to feel the pride my mother must have felt when she finally knew that feminism "clicked" for me, when she knew there was no going back. But can I carry on that legacy? Can I promise to challenge every stinky, stupid stereotype I see, in language my daughter will understand? Will I get lazy and give in when Cinderella comes seeping in through the cracks in the doors, bringing her sister-princess along for the ride? Will I tarnish every viewing of my own beloved The Little Mermaid by asking Girl Baby if she really thinks trading one's voice for the pursuit of a love interest is really the healthiest way to start a relationship? Can I just let her enjoy the simplicity of Disney's rigid gender roles? Will I force her to play with Isaac's tool bench trough the denial of a pair of glass slippers,  or  maybe she will just gravitate toward it anyway? What did my parents do? Well, they built me a Barbie house of my own, if that's any indication.  I guess I'd better dust off my old tool belt (just kidding, I don't have one.  Eek!).

As I grew older, my mother never shied away from talking about the realities of pending adulthood.  Not one to mice words, the phrases I remember her dishing out most frequently were "They all look the same upside down", referring to how many men view women, and that men's brains react to beautiful women the same way they react to money and cocaine.  She kept it real, these lessons started around sixth grade.  She wasn't being a misogynist or man hater, she just wanted to make sure I remembered myself as I became an adult.  She was warning me that as I aged I was going to encounter men who do or say anything for sex, that I would find men who wanted to collect, own, control and possess me in the same way they wanted to win money or get high. She didn't want me to consider, for one moment, that fairy tales came true-- or even happened. She wasn't a dream crusher-- she wanted her daughters to have dreams about something other than boys. No daughter of hers was going to be looking for a mythical knight. Not when she had outfitted us in our own armor. (Worth mentioning that we did read a lot of fairy tales.  The Grimm's versions.  Eyes gettin' pecked out everywhere.  Also, we began to receive condoms in our Christmas stockings somewhere around 17 or 18. Like I said, she kept it real.  Real uncomfortable!) With all this as my jumping-off point, I love to think that I am going to be the most sex-positive mom out there.  The fact bringer, the truth teller.  I will be body positive, careful not to shame myself or others, I will be a crusader for my children in the complicated realm of adulthood. I will shield them from the hyper-sexualized world that seems to start around age six these days, I will let them ask questions and be honest with my answers...I think.  Until I watch an episode  of "Friends" with one of my nieces, and squirm when something remotely sexual comes on. Do I say something? Do I ignore this situation or explain it? Does she even notice that this is adult content? Am I doomed to eternal awkwardness for ever and ever into eternity? Is she old enough for this talk yet? It's certainly not my place to have the 'big' talk.  Is that even still a thing? Does she have questions? How will I know if I don't ask? She needs you to be a role model, Sarah, get it together! ok. So then I go "this seems a little mature for us to be watching right now" and turn to something like the Disney channel or maybe suggest we go make popcorn. Cool aunt fail. In this realm, I need more practice. I need more guts.  I need more Bunny B.

I've been doing this all week.  Back and forth.  I want to buy a cute "girl" outfit to celebrate our news.  But...should it be a dress? Should it have pink? Ruffles? It won't say "princess", that's for sure, or have writing on the rear (so help me GOD, if any daughter of mine...). What color for the nursery? Gaah! This poor babe is going to wear nothing but white onesies and live in a colorless void, all due to my inability to make a decision! I try to remember that I turned out to be a pretty ardent feminist in spite of wearing a dress now and again, playing Barbies and having a room decorated with flowers. What would Bunny do? This is the umbrella that covers me in moments of crisis, of doubt and in times when I just need a shove in the right direction.  What would Bunny do? Have a Manhattan and...probably encourage me to go read a book.  I can accomplish half of that, I suppose.  Now if I could only find a book...

 What really amazes me about my mom is that she was able to be a strong role model for me without the umbrella of her own. My mother lost her own mom when she was only thirteen years old.  As I age, in a way, I bring the shadow of Bunny along with me. "By this age, my mother was (getting married, had two kids, was working on her masters, had a perm, wore shoulder pads)" what have you, "all without her mother". Every time. Without her own mother's hand to guide her, she managed to raise us all.  With only the memory of Louise to answer her when she asked "how would my mother handle this?", she got through it. How fortunate I am to have someone so wonderful to turn to, while she had her mother only as a reference. Half an umbrella on what certainly must have been some rainy days.

 We all must wonder if our parents are proud, if they are satisfied with what we have done with the gift of life they have given us.  I didn't realize until I was a parent that it works the other way around: I'm just thrilled for the gift that the children have given me by existing.  They can do whatever they want with their lives. With that mentality, I, my mother,  and surely her mother, set about parenting.  We all teach our children how we value them, and how they should value themselves.  I suppose I will let the tool bench sit and hope it gets as much use as the Barbie house.  I will consent to Cinderella, on occasion, but not without letting my feelings be known. No pink Lincoln Logs shall pass over my threshold, however, nor shall a professional wrestling match be viewed. Grandparents and over-zealous girlfriends can offer her the tulle alternatives to the overalls I provide.  She can sweet talk her dad into her first pair of fancy shoes. I know how those things go, Girl Baby, for I invented those moves, and  my job is not only to be your mom, but it's also to be your Fairy God Feminist.  Sorry,  but I must stay the course.  For you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Does Anyone Want To Talk About *gulp* Homebirths?

Of course you do! And I only kind of do.  I mean, I think.  I'm getting a little hot and sweaty just typing this, but lets just go with it, shall we?  So, I'm knocked up again, it seems.  I like to use "knocked" because it annoys me to call it anything other than what it is, a happy accident of nature.  I've discussed this before in previous posts, but I will mention again that I can be very squeamish and prude when it comes to some things (obviously not all things, I blog about birth and pregnancy), and I don't like to walk around like getting pregnant was any great accomplishment of mine.  It really only takes a few bottles glasses of wine, it seems, so lets save the hi-fives for when this version is out of me.  As I've said, that's where the real work is.
 So here we are again.  Me, a fetus, and a whole wide Internet full of things to worry about until Isaac wakes up from his nap (which, god willing and the creeks don't rise, will be a two-hour deal today)-- And before I get started, let me just say that home birth is something I'm thinking about. Don't send me 800 links to advocacy sites-- or scary "warning" ones, either. Also, I like you, but I don't want pictures of your home birth in my inbox, nothing against your placenta or anything. And let's keep in mind that the Sarah who is hastily writing this before the door of Nap Time Freedom slams shut on me once again, is the same Sarah who will request a Vicoden for a paper cut, has complete resentment for my oral surgeon for removing my wisdom teeth--6 years ago (I even hate waiting on him. Flashbacks), and in general, is as opposed to general discomfort as one human can possibly be.  Princess and the Pea level of pain-aversion. I am also the kind of person who will congratulate herself for sticking to a week-long vegetarian diet, only to look down on day 3 and realize I'm eating a bacon cheese burger. Or will make plans to build a houseboat, but fail at even building a bench.  The same Sarah with 5 colleges and twice as many majors under her belt with only one degree to show for it...For me,  thinking about committing to something that is 5 months away and actually doing it are two different things, two different Sarahs.  So don't worry yet, Mom.

But, as we have learned from previous experience, the baby does eventually come our, one way or another, like it or not. That is where pregnancy differs from houseboats.  It will come as no surprise to those who read my post about having Isaac that I suffered a little bit of what is called Birth Trauma.  I left the whole experience feeling like a failure.  All that work, all that pushing, all those swear words, and I still couldn't get him out.  I was torn in ways that really frightened me and made it so, so hard to be a new mother. I was afraid of my own body for months.  Months. I reverted to some sort of catatonia at follow-up appointments, unable to really express how shitty I felt about Isaac's birth- I didn't think I was allowed to feel that way. What, was I going to turn to my Doctor and be like "you really could have done better in there. I had no idea what I was doing and you made me feel like a child!"? She would have looked at me like "who are you, again?".  Of course it sucked.  It's having a baby, for gods sake. What did I expect? Awesome-ness? Well, it turns out, there are ways to experience birth differently.  There are woman who use words like "happy" and "blissful" and "empowered" and "not so horrible I swear I'll never have another child again, just sew me shut now and lets get the fk out of this hospital so I never have to even think about this even one more time". Maybe I'd like to be one of those woman this time.  Perhaps my days of being a scared little girl are behind me.  I'd like to stop feeling like asking anyone who was there "did I do OK? Why was that so bad? Why do I feel like I did it wrong?" I'd like to see a stronger side of me bringing my baby into the world.
So why not just an unmedicated birth, then? Well. Have you ever been to a bar, wanted a dirty martini, up, with 2 olives, but just went with tap water, no ice, instead? Really? Cause I never have.  There are lots of metaphors about temptation out there, and I fit them all. I find it difficult to imagine the Sarah I know in hospital full of pain-relief interventions and not take each and every one (except the one that made me trip balls). Those nurses are pushers! Lovely, well meaning, supportive and knowledgeable, yes, but pushers just the same.

Nurse: Sarah, want some dru-
Me: YEP.

I know myself. I know that given the choice, I would be way more likely to give birth in a tub in my living room than say no to an epidural.
So now we've talked about it.  Well, I have talked a little about it to a computer screen. If anyone has any stories, I'd love to hear them (but please, please don't link this page to a forum where those mean OB nurses can comment on this birth decision, too.  I couldn't take that again!)  It seems from  what I hear from the few women I know who gave birth at home, none of them regret the experience, or feel traumatized.  I, however, do know many who felt very negatively about their hospital births. That piques my interest-- but as I said-- that is all.  I didn't order a birthing tub, I haven't contacted my insurer or midwife about it (um, or even Matt), and heck, the kidney stones haven't even kicked in yet! I'm sure they'll come along to ensure that I am tethered to each and every intravenous tube the birthing center has to offer! And also, I imagine that having the baby at home would require me to clean up a little around this dump - and we all know how I feel about that!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Please excuse the extended absence from this blog.  My computer was down and the kid got sick, we went out of town, I got another job and I had to work a double.  Sort of.  Mostly I am a procrastinator of the first order. When I begin to feel like I should write, suddenly all of these super important tasks come to mind.  I begin to remember that I have to knit that scarf I promised someone ages ago, start the laundry, go for a run, see if I still owe my 9th grade algebra teacher any back homework, give the dog a bath, reconsider going back to college to finish my degree...anything to avoid actually sitting down to do one of the things I enjoy most in the world.  I have spoken before of my paralyzing fear of both taxidermy and public humiliation resulting from failure. This is how it manifests.  And I am not the only writer who experiences this form of writer's block, which is self-imposed and therefore more of a writers' avoidance.  I know because I was Googling it while waiting for my math teacher's return email.  I think I may have found the cure.  The only thing I hate more than hypothetically bombing at a blog I don't get paid to write, is cleaning.  Whenever that vacuum cleaner comes out, it is like a french-kiss from the muses.  My brain rolls and tumbles with all the amazing and hilarious anecdotes I could be writing about and sharing with my friends, who are also probably sitting at their desks Googling things like "what is the scientific name for 'fear of taxidermy'", to avoid their obligations, and see my link pop up in their news feed.  (By the way, Automatonaphobia is the closest I could come up with, and it is a fear of life-like but inanimate objects.  And it seems that plenty of other Google users share my fear, too).

Nightmare.  I got sick even looking for this image. If you ever want to sleep soundly again, never Google "taxidermy animal using a typewriter".  Or anything like that.  Trust.

So today I made up some story to my husband about wanting to shampoo the carpets. Mostly so he'd take Isaac and our niece Reilly the hell out of the house for a few damn minutes, and also because it is beginning to smell like a barn in here, with the heat and humidity and yet-unwashed dog. After about ten whole minutes of valiant effort on my part, I realized that our stupid carpets will never be clean, we should just have hardwood so I can aggressively avoid cleaning something different for a change, and that I should probably over-share the hell out of our most recent adventure with Isaac, one that gives "our little bruiser" and whole new, and scary meaning.

On the Saturday before the restaurant where we work closed down for a week, Isaac woke up from his nap covered in bruises.  Head to toe.  He had a goose-egg on the back of his head like Wile E. Coyote has after meeting with the business end of an Acme anvil.  His legs looked like he'd been thrown down the stairs.  Now, I knew none of this had happened to him.  Either Matt or I are nearly constantly with him, and when we aren't, my sister or our super trustworthy sitter have him. I knew someone would have alerted me if the boy had a run-in with the Roadrunner. I freaked, but I like to keep my freak-outs in perspective.  Things could get out of hand if I let each and every fear reach maximum saturation.  I called my mother, sister, husband and babysitter.  Everyone said that it was strange, sudden and unexplained, and that I should call the doctor immediately.  We got an emergency appointment an hour later.  Four hours after that, we were on our way to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester NY for treatment.  Isaac had a dangerously low platelet count of 3000.  Apparently a healthy adult has somewhere around 150,000 and up.  His count was so low that he could bleed to death if he fell. But the good news! It wasn't Leukemia.  That is  one thing that all the bruising could signal.  But it wasn't. It isn't. And it won't be.  It is something called Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and this translates to "low platelet count for unknown reasons" (don't worry, even the doctors stumbled over it most times, just say ITP).  He got a treatment called WinRho, which gave his platelet-attacking antibodies the ol' Scooby-Doo, dressing up his red blood cells as a decoy so his platelets have a chance to regrow.  It worked terrifically.  He's back in business, by the following Thursday his platelet count was up to 328,000, and we were home.  So I am no longer helmet shopping or attempting to encase him in bubble wrap, and by most accounts, ITP is usually a one time thing.
I don't want, for a minute, to pretend that I had the sickest kid on the planet, or in the hospital, or on our floor even. I didn't.  It was scary, it was nerve-wracking.  But for all my history of Worst-Case Scenario-ing everything, I did not do that for Isaac. He seemed to feel and act fine, so I had not one ounce of panic in me.  About a minute of relief-tears upon hearing we had to rush him to a major children's hospital for an emergency treatment, yes. Full-on fear? No. I don't know if that is a mother's self-preservation instinct, a delusional optimism, the benefit of having a scientist for a mother, the push of my friends and family's prayers being answered or what. I did bargain.  For a hot minute I thought that if I were somehow nicer to Isaac, he wouldn't be sick.  If I just let him eat all those crackers instead of dinner.  If I let him climb the stairs every time he wanted to, if I allowed him to scream at the top of his lungs in the grocery store and stand on the couch, if I could allow him to be a bad boy, a baby, a kid in all the ways he wanted to be, he wouldn't actually have a low platelet count.  It would be a misunderstanding and we could just forget the whole thing ever happened. No needles, no worry, no conversations about the "L" word I mentioned earlier.  I can't imagine how parents with really sick kids do it.  I mean, I knew that giving in and letting him devour the dog food (yeah, he's still doing that), is not going to magically cure his illness.  His platelets aren't making an active choice to die-off because I make him wear pants and won't allow him to hit the cats. He's still in need of parenting.  I still have to make all the right choices that will help him grow into a good person-  not one who screams bloody murder if he's not allowed eat hand-fulls of kibble while standing on the furniture. What about the parents of the 50 pound 10 year old we saw, with no hair, getting his exercise by walking around the nurses station? Do they feel constantly compelled to allow endless Star Wars marathons and Frozen Cokes for lunch? The mind reels at just how difficult saying "no" must be when it is said to the sick and weak little person walking around with your heart in his failing body.
I have thought about this post, in one form or another, from about Day 3 of being a parent.  It occurred to me that the only thing more painful than childbirth is being a mother.  The agony of pushing his entire body out of mine was nothing compared to the agony of knowing that he is now separate from me.  The world has him now, and there is only so much I can do to protect him. What a crazy balancing act we play, as parents. This last week has certainly been one of blessing-counting.  There is nothing like staying two nights in a children's hospital to make you realize how sick your kid isn't. (And, it is worth mentioning, nothing like two nights sleeping in a hospital pull-out chair to make you realize how indispensable places like the Ronald McDonald House must be for families whose children are., if you're the donating type).
 Oh, the little Hartley/Vallely byproduct didn't mind being center of attention at all! Flirting with the nurses and everything.

Alright, you got your cry out of me, Matt will be home any minute with the Romanian Demons (that is what Reilly mistakenly called Loony Tune's Tasmanian Devil yesterday.  I'm keeping it), and I think the Water Vacuum (another one of Reilly's gems) is still running where I left it to write this not-so hilarious piece.  Hope you still like me!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The World Is A Deadly, Dangerous Place

OK, well, anything beyond our living room is dangerous.  So not the whole world. Isaac, you see, is a crawler.  And a world-class speed crawler, at that.  We have caged in the living room, and fingers crossed that he doesn't discover how to use stairs in the next five minutes, we have established a baby safe zone.  For the most part.  I mean, yeah, I caught him chewing on a few extension chords here and there, sure.  And he does, of course, attempt to spill my morning coffee on himself just about every day (usually he just grabs for the identical decoy coffee mug that I set out for him while I hide in the corner and secretly sip on the real mug. Who's the smart guy now, sneaky baby?). And there was the one time he succeeded in pulling down the baby gate.  But he was fine.  I don't know why toy manufacturers insist on making baby toys in bright colors with all the flashing lights and goofy noises.  Those very elements seem to signal "Baby Toy", and thus "giant waste of plastic that I will play with exactly once and then abandon for the stereo knob and something sharp". Please, Playskool, make baby toys that look like everyday objects, just without the eye-poking-outness and potential for electrical shock.
At least he hasn't made it in to the dining room. Sigh...yet...The dining room is baby Shangri La, filled to the brim with all the good stuff. No fake, Elmo cell phones in here! No one is trying to pull the wool over his eyes with board books or plastic cups. In this strictly off-limits, grown-ups only room of horrors, we have the real deal. A wall of book cases, overflowing with treasured and well worn volumes of poetry, art and cook books, just waiting to be de-shelveved and gleefully ripped to shreds.  Beyond that is the china cabinet to which I cannot seem to locate the key, so our beautiful wedding china is just waiting to be the victim of  toddler curiosity. We also house the computer, the printer, vacuum cleaners, under-the-stairs half bath (a garbage can for picking and grazing! Toilet seat left conveniently up for easy toy-dunking and accidental drowning!), not to mention my coffee corner, and, worst of all: the entrance to the kitchen.  If Odysseus does somehow survive the gauntlet of the dining room, the River Styx, if you will, he will find himself in Mommy Hades. Baby Death Trap. Kitchen. We keep the kitchen neat enough.  I have moved the poisons to slightly less accessible cabinets; I don't cook, so the oven is never on; I keep the dryer door shut so he doesn't take to hiding in there, not to be discovered until I finally get around do doing the laundry.  I still cannot shake the feeling that he is going to choke on some over-looked dog biscuit, learn how to open child-proof caps and chug the floor cleaner, climb the chairs and fall off the table...On the rare occasion we do let him crawl around in there, he actually does very little damage.  His worst offense is, by far, the tipping of the dog dish.  He loves that game.  Beating a parent to the dog's water dish brings joy to that chubby baby's heart like no other scheme.  When he succeeds in covering himself, and the whole kitchen floor, in cold dog-drool water, he is the winner.  The winner of the moment, winner of the clothes change wrestling match, winner over the seriously worried dog, winner of the day. And I, Mommy Over-It, is the clear loser.  This is inevitably the point where I give up. It is automatically Jammies Time.  I don't care if it is only 1 in the afternoon.  Jammies. Just woke up? Back into jammies.  Why? Because the all the fight has left me. I know I lost. This James Bond of Household Dangers has out-foxed me again. The only way I can regain control is to jammie up. You may have won this round, Little Hartley, but I know something you don't know.  That thing is the future.  In your future, if you survive another day of rusty-nail discovering, cat-tail pulling and shoe-chewing (WHY does he want to do that???!), you are going to eventually go to bed. And do you know what my giant, red wine glass, that I waste no time in filling, says on it? V. For "Victory".  It doesn't, actually, but it I should totally get one that does.