When Writer’s Block Turns Into Melancholy Word Spit-Up (Sorry In Advance)

December 9, 2016

Mirrors are filled with magic.

Mirrors are filled with magic.

I write while the baby nurses or naps. But the past couple days, my mind has felt like a blank slate. All I can think when I look down at my ever-growing boy is this:

He is growing too fast and I miss him too much.

Last week, he learned to clasp his hands. Now he often sits around, hands clasped, like a little old man waiting on someone to bring him lunch. Yesterday, he reached up and pulled the handle that makes the windmill on his swing spin round and round. I used to have to pull that for him. Does he even need me anymore? But then last night, he started tugging at my t-shirt: a baby on a breastfeeding mission, and I was reminded I’m still needed. We’ll probably be the mom and son duo with the son pulling on his mom’s shirt in public yelling BOOBS and passersby looking at us thinking “isn’t he too old for that”? I’ll be the judge.

I hardly realize he is changing every day, except that now it seems he is doing something new nearly every time I turn around. Then I look at pictures and I see the changes there too: him at two days old coming home from the hospital, barely fitting in his car seat; and him now, nearly 15 weeks to the hour, almost ready for the next size up. For a while he was gaining a pound a week; now he’s down to under half a pound a week, but the changes are still visible. He is literally growing right before our eyes. I should know because I stare at him a lot.

I want to soak it up. But it seems I can’t soak it up fast enough because it is going by too fast.

By the time I go back to work in February, I will have had 24 weeks at home with him. By America’s standards, I am incredibly fortunate, but it is still not enough. If and when he goes to college, it probably still won’t have been enough. I’m already mourning things that have yet to come: my first day back to work; his first day of Kindergarten; his wedding day. I’m going to try really hard to not be that mom, but I make no promises.

The days and nights (even middle of the nights) we have together now are some of the best times I will ever experience as his mom. Especially this time of year. My husband and I will never have another first Christmas as parents again. We hope to have a baby’s first Christmas again, but this is our first (and only first) as parents, so I’m trying to capture every memory while also living in the moment. It’s weird how some of your happiest times are the ones with the heaviest of clouds hanging over them. Because I know these moments are fleeting and we’ll look back one day in the not-too-distant-future and for years to come and wonder where they went.

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So now that I’ve bummed everyone out about how we’re getting so old so fast, let me say something positive. (But first: I’m sorry. I didn’t know when I sat down to write today that this was going to come out, but it seems every time I sit down to write, my fingers just want to type “where is my baby, where is the time going.”)

Anyway.

Although I have loved the newborn phase and all of its hallmarks (cluster feedings, seeing each other at least every two hours at night, the tiniest of clothes), the infant phase is so cool. Jack smiles because he thinks his dad and I are funny. We play games (mirrors are delightful). And nothing is free from his mouth. Everything goes in there: his Woody doll, his blankets, sometimes my nose. He is trying so hard to sit up by himself, and before we know it, he’ll be sitting, crawling, walking, running, swinging, and all of the other verbs little boys do.

He has also found his voice. He cooed as a newborn, of course, but now he has all of these sounds. Happy sounds, tired sounds, mad sounds. One day he’ll use that voice to tell me he loves me, and my heart will melt. So while I’m mourning the end of the newborn phase, I’m welcoming the coming phases with open arms.

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If you’re still reading this, God bless you. I hope Heaven has a special place reserved for readers of blogs whose writers ramble on far too long. If it does, you’re going there.

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link-party

The First 100 Days: A Recap

December 4, 2016

The first 100 days seem important. Just ask Trump about all the people speculating what he will (or will not) accomplish in his first 3+ months as president. Since today is my 100th day as a mom, I’ve recapped a few of my own accomplishments, which may look a lot like yours. [Insert hand patting ourselves on the back here.]

One. Became a mother. Can’t forget this one; so obvious yet so subtle. There used to not be a Jack, but after 38-ish hours of labor and an hour of extra heavy breathing, there became one. This still blows my mind.

Two. Learned how to do a lot of things with one hand. Make dinner, eat dinner, put on makeup (on the off-chance I wear it), start laundry, write this blog post.

Three. Learned how to do some things with no hands (look, ma!), like adjust the TV volume and pick up my phone. The moral of this story is toes are awesome.

Four. After hardly being able to go minutes without peeing during my third trimester, I can now go hours. The elasticity of the mom bladder is a beautiful, necessary thing.

Five. Almost perfected the four-minute shower, complete with shampoo, conditioner, and shaving almost up to my knees (nicks minimal).

Six. Became one with the slow cooker. Chili, pot roast, enchiladas, meatloaf. Nothing is off limits, giving rebirth to the phrase “what a bunch of crock.”

Seven. Learned to trust myself to drive the baby in the car. You won’t fully appreciate this until you have to do it for the first time. Turning right on a red and driving over speed bumps take on a whole new level of careful.

Eight. Have taken the baby grocery shopping. See above: you won’t fully appreciate this one either.

Nine. Can finish said grocery shopping while the baby is crying without feeling too embarrassed or over-apologizing to my fellow patrons. On a related note: Learned life goes on when your baby cries in public.

Ten. Developed supernatural ability to operate on short, sporadic spurts of sleep. Third trimester began to prepare me for this, but ability refined and perfected during the past 100 days.

I think this is a pretty solid list, if I may say. The bar has been set, Mr. Trump. Good luck.

10 Things I Learned My First 100 Days As A Mom

The Santa Dilemma

November 28, 2016

Santa Baby

Santa Baby

I want to have my fruitcake and eat it too.

Rather, I want to celebrate all of the Santaesque traditions of Christmas with my son—having his photo taken with Santa, setting out milk and cookies (and carrots), and pretending we can hear reindeer on the rooftop—without having to one day tell him Santa isn’t real and we’ve been fibbing this whole time.

On the other hand, I don’t want my son to be the kid on the playground sending other kids into tailspins when he tells them Santa is fake. I also don’t want to be that kid’s parent.

We’ve got a couple years, maybe longer, before this becomes a pressing issue. Jack just turned three months old; he’s got other things to worry about this holiday season, like learning how to sit up unassisted. But I do think what we do this year will begin to set the precedent for future years, so the issue has been on my mind. And though my brain leans towards not pretending that Santa is real, my hand that clicks the button that makes the online purchases leans opposite—evidenced by the Santa Advent calendar we just purchased from Pottery Barn; and the stocking with Jack’s name embroidered on it above the Santa and Rudolph caricatures; and the Santa figurines on the tree, table, pillows, candles, nightlight, hand towels, pajamas, everything.

Which begs the question: how do you maintain the spirit and traditions of Santa without maintaining that Santa is a real live man who lives in the North Pole and flies around the world one night a year to deliver toys to girls and boys, even those who do not have chimneys and fireplaces? How do you make Santa be a part of it but not all of it? Can you? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I’m hoping someone does.

For now, we’ll play it by ear. We’ll probably go see the mall Santa because it’s my first Christmas as a mom and I want to do all the cliché holiday things, which includes buying an overpriced photo of my most precious treasure crying on some strange man’s lap. We’ll (I’ll) also bake cookies that we’ll (I’ll) set out on Christmas Eve and Santa (my husband) will eat by morning. I might even sign a few gift tags from the big man himself. We’ll make-believe and figure it out as we go, which has been our approach to parenting so far anyway.

Parents out there, how have you broached the issue of Santa with your kids? Do you have any regrets? Words of wisdom for a first-timer?

 

Holidays With Kids: An Essay

November 19, 2016

I have loved the holidays for as long as I can remember (nothing profound about that). It was my favorite time of year growing up, mostly for selfish reasons: the gifts, the cookies, the number of relatives who came over to love on me and my brother. And then things took a turn somewhere around age 16 or 17. I’ve still loved the holidays since then, but some of the charm wore off: the grandiosity of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats, the anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning. At some point, sleeping in became the greater gift.

But it’s different this year, and I knew that having a kid would make it so. Even if said kid is only three months old and cares mostly about my boobs, not my baking; sleeping, not Santa.

Admittedly, I’ve dragged my feet a bit on putting up the decorations. By this time last year and the year before, our tree was up and wreaths were hung. I know Christmas will fly by, and so by rushing into it, we’ll be rushing past it in no time, and then my baby will be that much older and that much bigger. I want to soak in his baby freshness for as long as possible, so it’s still pumpkins and cornucopias around this joint.

But like I said, it’s different. Thanksgiving will be different this week. Christmas will be different next month. And even though little babe doesn’t know to wake up on Christmas morning because there are presents under the tree, we’ll surely be up by 5:00 a.m. because I hear that’s what four-month-olds do.

I look forward to honoring the traditions my family celebrated and my husband’s family celebrated when we were kids with our kid: standing in a circle saying one thing we’re thankful for, decorating cookies, looking at Christmas lights. I look forward to starting some new ones: books we’ll read on Thanksgiving Eve and Day, an Advent calendar, Elf on the Shelf (yes), matching family pajamas (my husband doesn’t know about this one yet). I also heard earlier this week about a kid whose aunt has made him an ornament every year since he was born (okay, it was season 9 Voice winner Jordan Smith and it was on the Hallmark morning showno shame). I love this, and I plan to adopt it for Jack. Handmade ornaments ’bout to be my thing.

Happy holidays, friends. May your days and weeks ahead be merry and bright.

 

 

An Apology To Moms Who Have Come Before Me

November 17, 2016

To the moms who have come before me, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for rolling my eyes when your baby cried on the plane or in the restaurant. I’m sorry for not letting you go ahead of me in the grocery store line. I’m sorry for being irritated when it took you extra time to get your kids in the car and all I wanted was your parking space.

I’m sorry for resenting you for leaving the office at 5:00 p.m. prompt to head to daycare. I’m sorry for griping when you didn’t email right back because it was bath time.

I’m sorry for questioning why you gave up your career and chose to stay home or why you chose to stay at home from the start.

I’m sorry for pitying you when you couldn’t drink wine for the nine months of your pregnancy and the twelve months you breastfed thereafter. I’m sorry for judging you when you had a sip every now and then.

I’m sorry for feeling uncomfortable when you breastfed in public.

I’m sorry for underestimating what it took to keep the baby fed, the house cleaned, the dog entertained, groceries in the fridge, and the laundry in the washer turned over fast enough so it doesn’t smell of mildew.

I’m sorry, and I get it now.

Over the past twelve weeks, I’ve breastfed in dressing rooms to calm a hungry babe. I’ve breastfed in open plazas and in the backseat of my car.

I’ve quickly exited restaurants and shops. And though we haven’t flown yet as a family, I’m prematurely dreading being the mom with the crying kid making the other passengers cringe. Maybe I’ll pass out candy beforehand.

I’ve snuck sips of wine and even of my husband’s beer, particularly when the baby has had a rough evening because he hasn’t slept for most of the day and is beyond exhaustion, and then felt guilty afterwards.

I’m still on maternity leave, but I already know the challenges I’ll face when I return to work: learning to say no sometimes, not out of laziness but necessity; letting my colleagues down; feeling like I’m not pulling my weight, at the office or at home. I’ve daydreamed of staying home full time. My return is fast approaching.

I’ve washed the same load of laundry three times in as many days, and still there have been nights my husband and I have gone to sleep in clothes that don’t smell just right. Sometimes the fridge doesn’t smell right either, and the dog hasn’t had a proper walk in days.

But I wouldn’t change it for a thing. And I don’t say this all to complain. I only say it to say I get it now. I really do. And I’m sorry for misunderstanding you before. Please forgive me.

An Apology to Moms Who Have Come Before Me