Saturday, September 29, 2012

In bed by 8:30 on a Saturday night, woo!

So as goes the title, I am in bed. Because really, why not? There's nothing good on TV, I've eaten dinner and cleaned up, and it's easier to keep track of the baby in his crib than on the living room floor. So, screw it.

At least I have a kitchen window screen now (ah, cool breezes!). Pool still draining. I think I may call an actual repair guy rather than my pool cleaner. I don't think he knows what he's doing when it comes to repairs, and I have a really good guy I used to use. So I'll do that. Sure would be nice to put those pool repairs to bed once and for all.

I had the cleaning lady over today...and I could have saved us both a lot of time if I'd just told her up front what I could afford. She wanted to charge $200 for one visit per month or $300 for two visits per month (ie $150 every two weeks). Yeah, that's about three times what I'm realistically able to pay. So I have another name...but I may just never be able to afford a cleaner. Oh well, time to get off my ass I guess!

Had our awful six month shots. It occurred to me that this is the last time ever I will have to subject my tiny infant to that. Next time he'll be one year old and a totally different baby. And next time is a doozie with tons of shots all at once. Right now kind of appreciating I was spared that as a child! He is measuring at the 50th percentile for weight and the 75th for height. And I have the go ahead to start solids. I bought a box of infant rice cereal the other day, but have not cracked it.

Is it weird that I'm reluctant to start solids? I was all excited about it and now I kind of don't want to. Part of me is just lazy, but part of me doesn't want B to move on to the next phase of his life - to grow up. Starting real food is a big deal; it's the beginning of the end of his needing me. I'm going to be a wreck when it's time to wean!

You wouldn't know he's growing up from our nights, though - it's like we're back to the newborn phase. He's been feeding easily every hour, is really hard to get to sleep, and waking early and staying up. For the first time I am feeling kind of sleep deprived, which is making me extra cranky (in case you haven't noticed). Is it sleep regression? A growth spurt? Is it my bad habits? Do I need to make him go to bed earlier because he's over-tired and that's why he's not sleeping? I don't know, but boy would I like a return to our previous sleep pattern!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Let Down

The Let Down is the name of my future all lactating moms emo band. Any and all are welcome to join. Our first hit single will be a cover of "I've Always Loved My Mama" by The Intruders.

The let down is also how I feel about the various men I have enlisted to work around this house lately. There's no getting around it, running a household, in particular one you own and thereby are totally responsible for, is a huge job. Come to think of it, since the bank technically owns this house for the next thirty years, shouldn't they have to pay for all the repairs and upgrades? Just saying. Anyway this time of year when my event is over and there's money in the bank is when I try to get to work on my endless list of home improvements and/or repairs. The results are usually mixed.

I had a yard guy come by some weeks ago to give me an estimate on replanting my front yard, which is on a slope and is pummeled by sun all day. Several years ago I spent $7000 on a complete yard overhaul - and have since spent about $5000 fixing all the mistakes they made with the lighting and sprinklers. And the sprinklers still don't work, which means all of the plants have died. Which means I have to start all over again. This yard guy, like all specialists, took some pleasure in telling me how much the previous yard guy ripped me off and screwed everything up (tell me something I don't know). Anyway, I went by his nursery to look at the plan he had for my yard and was in love with the ideas - but he didn't have an estimate for me. And I don't have the slightest clue what something like this should cost. Are we talking a few hundred? A few thousand? Many thousands? What? So he said he'd have a number for me Monday. No call. Tuesday no call. Wednesday I called and he said he'd have something by that afternoon. It is now Friday and no call. What the hell???

Also my painter guy was supposed to replace my rat-eaten screen so I can actually open my kitchen windows, which would be nice in this hot weather. I had paid for it and he was supposed to pop it in the next day. I have texted him about it four times. The first three he said he'd do it the next morning. The last he never even answered. Agh!

Now I've had the joy of listening to my pool drain along the side of my house for the past two nights. The filter still isn't working and the spa keeps draining into the pool and then overflowing it, which then drains slowly for about twelve hours, and I have to listen to it as it's inches from where my bed is in my bedroom just outside the window. The constant running water sound makes me want to tear my hair out. I have now paid over $1000 in pool repairs and still nothing works - during the hottest summer on record. Oh yeah, and Monday Oct 1st is supposed to be 102 degrees.

Yesterday I tried to sign up for the SMC forum and I got a polite note back saying I can't have access because I'm not a member. Huh?

I signed up for this organic farm delivery because a well meaning friend got me a gift certificate for my birthday. It came in a huge box with a bunch of special cooling pads that I read in the fine print I'd be charged for if not returned. I have been trying to return this box for a month and they just keep not picking it up. If I get charged for keeping it I'm going to lose my shit. And I really want this giant box out of my house.

It seems like everyone I know is experiencing this same level of constant little annoyances lately. Must be something in the alignment of the planets or something. I personally feel like I'm wearing a hair shirt - it's just one stupid little thing after another annoying me all day long. Or maybe I'm about to get my period, ha ha!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Boy energy

Yesterday we had swim lesson #2. It went far, far better than #1. I arrived with both of us dressed and greased up (sunscreen), brought the stroller, and came early. Bumpus enjoyed the water and didn't cry, and was ok when I held him apart from me. Next time I may bring his sunglasses, though, since the bright sun clearly bothers his eyes. I'm not sure how much actual swimming will take place in this class - it's mainly just singing songs and swooshing them around. Part of me feels like I could just do this at home - but hey, we're getting out of the house, right?

Speaking of house stuff, a cleaning lady is coming over Saturday to check out my house and give me an estimate. I liked how professional she was on the phone - but how professional she was made me wonder if I could afford her. I probably should have said, "hey, this is all I can afford per month," so she could decide whether or not to bother. But I'm afraid to be that blunt, and figured maybe we could negotiate once she's here. After all, I'm not opposed to keeping the place semi-clean on my own; it's the deep cleaning I don't want to do. We'll see what she says. Boy would it be nice to have a consistently clean home!

Last night I used a new sitter from my dance world while I went to my book club. When I got home it was apparent things had not gone well. The baby was asleep in a pile of pillows on the couch, which was fine, but she looked a little frazzled, and there was a pile of diapers on the nursery floor. She explained it had been a rough night - he had napped and then freaked out when he woke up and she wasn't me (this happens from time to time); when she went to change him he peed all over her and everything else (hence the diapers on the floor that apparently were drying off there). She didn't say as much, but I could tell he had screamed all night. The poor thing didn't even get a chance to use the bathroom!

It does make one wonder. He was totally fine with the other new sitter last time who he'd never even met before. Was it just a better day for him? Was he responding to the person's energy? We have had a few rough sleeping nights in a row, and last night was no different, nursing probably every couple of hours. Is he in a growth spurt? I'd love to blame vaccines but he gets them today. Anyway, I'll need to use her again in a couple of weeks but I think I'll give her a few days to recover before asking her!

He's starting to be a real boy lately. He's strong as heck and can do me real damage - kicking and slapping and clonking me in the head. It's all in good fun of course, but it certainly gives me a window into the future. First, he's a kid, and kids are just wild and messy and destructive. And next he's a boy, which means double all that (although less emotional drama probably). I understand now why people don't want to have kids when they're older because they "just won't have the energy". It is a young person's game, for sure.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy half birthday

Yesterday was Bumpus' half birthday. Once again I think about our ancestors and what a moment this must have been for them and their children - the baby survived those scary early months, now he can get to work on the farm! There are a number of newborns in my circle these days, and when I see them they always look so tiny and vulnerable. It's almost impossible to remember Bumpus like that - he's so strong and such a bruiser now. Speaking of bruisers, my legs are covered with them from Bumpus' many kicking rampages - he loves to lie on his back and kick his legs, and his hard little heels often collide with my shin bones. But being his mother I of course just think this is adorable.

Yesterday we had his first swim lesson. It did not go well. Mainly because I was horribly unprepared, which became apparent as soon as I arrived at the facility. I had forgotten to bring a lock for the lockers. I had B in the carrier, which made me realize, how exactly am I going to get myself and a baby into swimsuits with him strapped to my chest...? Then I had to slather us both with sunscreen, and drag all our crap to the poolside so someone wouldn't steal it, and then the class had begun so I just had to jump in the water and get started while still frazzled and rushed. B had been napping in the car so was kind of out of it, and was not at all into being held apart from me - he wanted to be right up on my shoulder the whole time otherwise he'd cry. He just didn't feel secure when I held him away from me. He did at home in our pool; maybe the whole situation was just overwhelming to him (it certainly was for me!). Oh well, we go again tomorrow and this time I'll be prepared and relaxed. And have us arrive already in our swim suits and sunscreen, dammit.

Before the class I had lunch at a friend's house with my walking friend and her eight month old. We had a terrifying incident in which her baby had been sucking on a piece of watermelon and he choked on it. I'll never forget her holding him on her knee saying, "oh my God, he's choking, he's choking," and all of us just frozen in terror waiting to see what he'd do. I told her to thump his back, and eventually he brought up the chunk of watermelon on his own. But this really put the fear in me about baby-led weaning. Oh, I know you proponents of it will say, "well, that should never happen if you did it right because of X,Y,Z," but I've got to tell you - you give a baby regular adult food and odds are they're going to choke on it. I don't ever want to go through what my friend just went through yesterday, no sir.

On the dog front, I had bought her a little carrier around the time I had the trainer over, and it finally arrived a few days ago. Just for shits and giggles I put it together and put it in the office for her. And guess what? She immediately jumped in it and has hardly come out since. All this time was all she wanted just a safe place to hide? She hasn't made a peep since. Could this be a solution to our problems?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Intention vs Reality

I told myself once I had a baby I'd be motivated to keep the house cleaner. I'd make a schedule, I'd set it up like I'm in Little House on the Prairie - you know, washing Monday, baking Tuesday, or whatever. Here I am with a baby on the verge of crawling and my house is probably the dirtiest it's ever been. Not messy - dirty. And that's kind of normal for this time of year, really. It's hot as hell and extremely dry. Which means I have the windows open because of the heat, but the dryness means clouds of dust and dirt blow in all day long. I don't know how technically "clean" I could realistically keep things even if I tried. Which I don't.

A friend *might* have an inexpensive cleaner for me who I will call next week. I have broached the topic of hiring a cleaner many times, but always stopped short of committing to it because A) I couldn't find anyone good/in my area/affordable, and B) my attempts at hiring a big company to clean have been dismal failures. And in the end I always felt guilty, using the rationale "I'm home all day, I have no excuse to not keep this place spotless". But then months go by and I'm stressed out by my greasy stove top, dirty floors, dusty counter tops. And life goes by while I feel crappy about my dirty house, and every time I want to have people over I have to spend hours scouring the whole place.

So I am going to take one last stab at finding a good, cheap cleaner. I think having a house that had a baseline of tidiness would make me so happy - and would be so much better for The Bumpus. It's just one of those things in my life that's a constant source of agitation and I'm over it.

The other source of constant agitation that I'm over is my dog. Sure, I could spend hundreds more on the trainer, treats, a fenced off area, spend all day working with her, to *maybe* get some results. Or maybe I could do all that and still have her bark all day and piss and shit all over every soft surface in the place. I knew it was bad when a couple of days ago I noticed a return of the "I don't want to go home" syndrome. I found myself driving around looking for excuses to not have to go home, where my miserable barky dog is, that I feel profoundly guilty about. I find when I am at home I spend more and more time holed up in the bedroom where I can't hear her plaintive barking in the office. I'm there now. I could be enjoying a nice evening in front of my living room TV, back and forth to the kitchen. But no, I'm locked off in the bedroom because if I go in the kitchen the dog can see me and wants to get out and barks. And then I feel guilty. Something's horribly wrong with this picture.

So I am going to take the rescue up on their offer to take her back for me. I'll take her to the vet first and get her all shot up and checked out as they asked, and then hopefully return her to the rescue who will place her with someone like I was four years ago - childless, and ready to make a dog the center of their life.

So these are two realities I have been avoiding that I have to face. I cannot help this dog, and I need help keeping this house clean enough for a crawling baby. Sigh. God forgive me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Starting 'em off early

I know those of you who work your tail off and then have just a few previous moments with your babies in the evenings don't want to hear this, but I am bored out of my skull. So, facing yet another day with nothing to do but pick up milk from the store, I decided to make an impromptu trip to the Getty museum today.

There is a lovely Klimt exhibit. The late 1800's - early 1900's is one of my favorite eras, and his art really encapsulates that time for me; the end of the Old Guard, the coming of war, the first whisperings of women's rights. It must have been a fascinating time.

The gardens here are amazing and peaceful. It sums up everything I love about LA - space, light, clean, open spaces.

There are lots of kids and babies here. I wonder if these parents have the same hopes and dreams for their kids that I do - that they're going to raise caring, socially conscious, cultured and open minded people. I'm sure most of them also want their kids to go to a good college and marry well. I have to say I don't care about those things so much - I just want Bumpus to be passionate about something and to do something for a living that he can enjoy. When I think of the years I wasted in crappy office jobs or otherwise being miserable and depressed, ugh! Life is so short. You'd better find a way to enjoy it before it ends, and it'll end in a snap.

It looks like I'm going to some kind of pumpkin festival next month. These are the things I fantasized about doing with my kid someday, and here we are. I'm so glad I know people who are interested in getting out and doing interesting things. I can only imagine the fun the Christmas season is going to be, oh boy!

So far I give having a baby about a ten. And this is coming from someone who is quite cynical, will tell it like it is, and doesn't even really like kids. The joy this little baby has brought into my life is really unlike anything I've ever experienced. I highly recommend it!

Here's a pic of us at the Getty. It kind of looks like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I've been there, too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New experiences

On a whim, tried out a new sitter last night who came highly recommended. My co-bandleader was playing guitar with a band I really like at a venue I haven't been to since before Bumpus was born (not baby friendly), so I figured I'd try her out.

There is something profoundly bizarre about leaving your home, not to mention your child, in the care of a complete stranger. But it kind of reminds me of that commercial where a man on the street is asked to watch $100,000, and just sits there dutifully and waits - the majority of people will do the honorable thing when asked. So this person will keep my baby safe and happy for three hours. And she did. She worked out just great and I'm excited to use her again.

It's funny, whenever I go out without the baby people always ask, "where's the baby?" My stock answer is always, "he's in the car. He'll be fine." I guess this is how people in relationships feel, always being asked where their significant other is.

I can't say last night was "worth it" in the sense of "were the three not-great dances I got worth $40?", but you really can't look at it that way. I have a monthly budget for child care, and I can do anything I want within that budget. So if it means a not-great night of dancing, it still means I got out, I saw friends, I got to wear a non-breastfeeding friendly outfit. And Bumpus got to have a new experience with a new person. Whenever we travel or I leave him with a sitter he's always different after - I think his brain is stimulated by the change. Last night after the sitter left he was making all kinds of new sounds. And in my first trip east he started rolling, and the second he started reaching. So, new people around him must mean something.

I also was given a new idea for my event, which is having a music track, something more events are doing as more dancers get interested in learning instruments. It's great because it would only cost me the teacher's fees (no dance floor rental required) and would be a great "added value" aspect of the camp. So that idea was for sure worth $40.

In other news, he is suddenly HUGE. My delicate, slim little boy is as solid as a linebacker and heavy. I have a hard time holding him on my shoulder now and carrying him down the steps in his little carrier is starting to be a real strain. I'm kind of dreading the getting in/out of the car thing as he gets bigger but can't walk yet (my house is up three flights of stairs). It's already a real struggle to get him and bags of groceries up every week or so...I may have to go back to grocery delivery. Which is too bad, because I kind of like going grocery shopping.

The LA County Museum of Art has this amazing program that gives kids free memberships and their accompanying adult gets in free, too. Every Sunday they have free art projects for kids. My painter guy told me about it. I've signed us up. I think we're going to have a blast with that!

We also start baby swim classes next week, so excited! So maybe I'm not a total slacker "walk yourself to McDonald's" mother after all.

Here's a pic of us in NY:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

...and the winner is...

...not me, that's for sure. Last night was our bi-annual Hall of Fame dinner. This is something our Board prepares for for two years. Something I give up one Sunday a month to attend long, boring meetings. That I suffered through morning sickness during, brought a tiny new baby to, put my reputation on the line for. And guess what? It all became unraveled at the last minute. As I had feared.

Sure enough, one of the winners announced was a girl I had removed from last time's nominees list because she is no longer eligible (not a CA resident). But even worse than that - our stupid MC was SO OFFENSIVE that I wanted to punch him in the throat. As all of my winners were announced, he kept making snide comments about how none of them were there to accept their awards and swearing about it (yes, swearing on a microphone in front of a room full of people). Honestly I'm glad they weren't there, because they wouldn't have heard their names anyway - this guy was such a mush-mouthed idiot that he mispronounced and slurred everyone's names, called the guys by girl's names, read things off in the wrong order, didn't even announce the categories or explain what they were, etc. We could have dragged a crackhead off the street and they would have done a better job. And I had to stand up there next to him awkwardly and hold out medals for people I already knew weren't there. It was horrendous.

We were able to fix the inelligible person's name by going to the next person on the list, and I put the correct names on Facebook. But how she was picked after I specifically sent the tabulator the correct list and told him to disregard any names not on the list, and we even talked about it, is a mystery to me. It kind of reminds me of the time I was joking with my hotel contact about how lame the last hotel had been in that they didn't set up a stage for the band and expected them to just play on the carpet (this is NEVER done), and we laughed about it...and then the next day I arrived to find no stage, and she said, "oh, you need a stage? I thought the band was just going to play on the carpet." Does nobody ever fucking pay attention in this world??? Apparently not!

Anyway. So the MC was such a nightmare that he pretty much ruined the while night. Nobody got to have a moment, nobody got their name pronounced correctly, hardly anyone was actually there to receive their awards. The whole night fizzled out around 10 PM and I escaped to go retrieve Bumpus from the Baby Kennel (what I now call the drop-in baby place). But I was furious. Even now my voice is hoarse from yelling all night.

I think I need to leave this organization. It breaks my heart because it does still mean something in my community - people were congratulating each other all over Facebook last night after I announced the winners (although they all opted to go to some monthly dance instead, which annoyed me). But to see all my hard work ruined at the last minute like that - makes me feel like what the hell is the point? If we can't even get basic things right like announcing winners properly and making sure the winners are even eligible, then we have no business doing this at all.

This thing has been like being in an abusive relationship for years. My friends keep telling me to dump it and I keep hanging in there hoping it'll change. Luckily I have a month before our next meeting to decide how to handle it. But being as our MC has just decided to join the board, I think I need to leave. Otherwise I may have to shoot him in the anus.

Here's a cute baby picture:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Time on my hands

Apart from dealing with the chimney sweep and a foundation inspection yesterday, I did absolutely nothing. Didn't even shower or wash my face (although I did brush my teeth). I thought about spending a nice afternoon by the pool...but the pool guy was in and out trying to figure out why the filter isn't working again, and it was so uncomfortably hot that it was quite painful being outside, and I just couldn't see that being good for Bumpus. So I kept us in in the AC and I just read and played with the boy and occasionally got up to make a meal. And that was it.

I often wonder what lazy days like that will be like as Bumpus gets bigger. For one I think there won't be days like that because we can go out and do things; right now there's not much point since he can't play yet. I see my mom friends looking to meet up at Disneyland, aquariums, museums, etc, and I sigh when I realize it'll be years before we can really join in with any of this. Once he's mobile and able to play there's so much we can do. But for now things are pretty much like my old single childless life; when a day comes by that I have no plans, I just kind of fester here, watching TV and over-eating out of boredom.

I let myself fester largely because I knew the rest of the weekend was going to be so active. Today I have until about 3:30 to muck about, then I have to get my butt in gear to go to the Hall of Fame dinner. Tomorrow I see a movie with my now pregnant former nemesis (who is sailing through her pregnancy without so much as a hint of nausea - how do people do that???).

Keeping the AC on at night because of the extreme heat has given me a little glimpse into the future. It's funny to think the whole time I've had Bumpus it's been warm, or warm-ish. But in a month or two, he will know cold. I'll need to keep socks on his little feet, a hat on when we go out, and "outerwear". He won't be able to sleep in just a diaper. In short, our whole routine will change. It's been chilly in my room at night because of the AC so we've been snuggled up together, which is really lovely. I remember there was one big rain storm when he was just a couple of weeks old where we got to snuggle all night...but of course he was so little then and crying all the time that it was quite a different experience. This time he'll be sleeping better, and we get to have a real winter, with holidays and fires in the fireplace and everything. It will be unlike any winter I've ever experienced before, that's for sure.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Heat wave

iPhone says it's 102 degrees today but I believe it's quite a bit hotter. Yesterday I decided to walk (that's a big deal in LA) down to try out a new dry cleaners, and nearly passed out on the way home. Some days are just too damned hot to try to do anything. Am I glad I'm not pregnant right now? Heck yes I am.

I had the dog trainer over last night. I know you dog people aren't going to want to hear this, but...I think it was kind of a waste of time. Or rather, if I had a younger dog, no baby, and was determined to have a perfectly disciplined dog that can be trusted to have the run of the house, it would be worthwhile. But I had already kind of figured out that at her age it's all about just avoiding situations that cause the behaviors. Keeping her in the office most of the time the last couple of weeks has meant no more accidents - and much nicer evenings as well, not having to listen to her incessant barking. The trainer, god bless him, reminded me a bit of the Lactation Consultant, in that they are experts in their fields, their lives revolve around their fields, and they kind of expect yours to, too. I remember when the LC said she wanted me to feed every two hours round the clock and pump in between. Inside I was like, "umm, no." The trainer wants me to do all kinds of exercises with her - such as throw treats around every time a situation that might make her bark presents itself so she'll associate the thing that makes her bark with good things (which means throwing treats on the floor all day long - not so great with a crawling baby); tether her to me at all times with a leash so she doesn't sneak off and pee; train her to touch her nose to my hand, etc. And in the end, none of this may result in anything. Personally, I don't have the energy for all this. I had mentioned my dog woes to some friends and I was surprised by how many people keep their dogs only in certain areas of the house. Not knowing anything I thought of this as "cruel"...but the fact is you have to do what keeps you sane. I am going to get her a crate (she loves crates) and start using the toddler gates in the kitchen again and just keep her in there, where there's no soft surfaces to be ruined. I think this is the best way for her to spend the remainder of her days, which could be extremely limited. Now how to tell the trainer I don't want to use him anymore...ugh.

My Hall of Fame dinner is tomorrow night. I have to leave Bumpus for seven hours at the drop in place, because it's such a long drive and a long night. Even at that I'm going to have to leave early. I know already that many of the people who bought tickets from me because they are nominated will probably not win, and most if not all of the winners will probably not be there. Good times.

The chimney sweep who came by today was surprised to see the baby (obviously I was still hiding it this time last year when he came) and speculated that maybe next year there'd be another one. People always call me "Mrs" now because of the baby and just assume I'm in a traditional marriage, which cracks me up considering my blatantly naked ring finger. But no, there will be no new baby this time next year. A friend also tortured by the idea of baby #2 said something very astute recently - she said she and I think of how important our siblings are to us and that's what we want for our kids...forgetting that one of the main reasons our siblings are so important is that we have crazy parents and had to band together for survival. Hopefully that won't be the case for our kids. I'll try to remember that the next time I feel guilty about not wanting to go for #2. I'm really happy and content with just The Bumpus for now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baby summit

Today I had another play date, this time with a baby two months older than Bumpus, who used to be huge compared to B, but my boy sure has caught up! I weighed him tonight and he's almost 18 pounds. He's chunked up a lot, and no longer fits into most of his onesies. I blame the Moose Tracks ice cream I've been addicted to all summer. Met a potential new babysitter who seemed very professional. Still not good for most week nights, though. Dammit!

Everything has been resolved in our family, so we are back on for Thanksgiving in Mass. For ease of operation I'm going to get a room at a b&b and a rental car, which will not be cheap, but I'm using miles for the flight, so it kind of evens out. I think with things still volatile it's probably best to have an escape route in case I just need to be off on my own. If the place I want works out, I'll be staying at a solar powered llama farm. I figure it's worth a few extra bucks to stay somewhere unique and memorable, you know? Right now we're trading emails about rates and if they allow kids or not. Apparently many b&b's do not. Something I never thought of before!

Plans for my 2013 event are coming together. I got a Seattle musician I really wanted, a hot French teaching couple, and a formerly local gal, now in New Orleans, to teach my For the Ladies track. I don't know if I mentioned it - I'm planning on having a special dance class series for women only (instead of partners), partly to accommodate the always overflow of women in the classes, partly as a political statement. I'm very excited about it and think it could really be a "thing" for the future. My hotel contact emailed to say she's moving to another hotel. Part of me is sad because a new person always means a big learning curve, but part of me is glad because I really felt like she'd been phoning it in the last few years. I did their online survey today and wrote a comment about how the hotel taking away all the food and drink and cutting back on various extras this year really made me not feel valued. Apparently they read these comments out in a big meeting every year, so hopefully my words will have some impact.

I am totally wiped out by the conflict with me and my friend, and the family stuff too even though it didn't involve me. I find this interpersonal stuff utterly draining. I could hardly do anything today but sit in the rocking chair watching old DVR'd episodes of "An Idiot Abroad". Am I the only one who gets emotionally and physically exhausted by conflict?

In the meantime, here's a pic of today's baby summit:

Resolution

I received this email from my friend tonight:

I am so sorry. In no way did I mean to hurt you or suggest that this was not a positive choice for you. I did not mean any of the underlying issues that you brought up. And you are right that I was caught off guard, and I did not really know what to say. I honestly had no idea what to say and was not expecting Garren to ask that. I think some of it comes from recent situations with some of my friends that have been divorced, in which the fathers did just leave, and Garren has been around these people, and that has been hard enough to explain. I know that Robert was a responsible choice for you and I have no problem telling Garren this. I will definately think of a way to tell him that makes sense. You do not have to worry about him saying something negative about the father to Robert. I will explain that Robert can meet the Dad at 18 and that you really wanted to have Robert and it is a miracle that he is here for both of you.

I can tell you that Garren really enjoyed having Robert over, and was asking when you both can visit again. I really enjoyed having you both over too.
I hope you can forgive me for not thinking (which we all do from time to time), and understand that the comment did not come from my heart.

~

So, that was pretty satisfying to me. It answered some questions about why the son would have asked, and confirmed for me that she didn't harbor some secret disapproval (I didn't think so, but you never know). I'm skeptical that the kid wants us to come over, but I could be wrong about that - I'm
no expert on interpreting the moods of eight-year-olds, for sure.

So, that's over. Moving on!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Worn Out

I have not heard from my friend yet, but she's one of these very disconnected people - no Facebook, no smart phone, very little texting, rarely uses email. So it wouldn't surprise me if she doesn't even get my email for several days. I figure it could go one of various ways - she could either apologize with a slight edge of defensiveness, not apologize and claim she did nothing wrong, or just flat out let me know she doesn't approve of my choices. I think the latter two are extremely unlikely, but you never know. I feel like I've been in a bit of a bubble here in my SMC life; since the announcement of the pregnancy I've had nothing but positivity sent my way, despite early fears to the contrary. I suppose something negative coming out of my choice to take this unusual path was bound to happen sooner or later.

Sometimes I feel so alone in this. I do wish I knew other SMCs (or even Single Mothers NOT By Choice - everyone I know is married, everyone). It dawned on me that I really should sign up with the local SMC group. At first I had balked at the membership fees, but I think it might be a good idea to connect with other women nearby who did what I did. Nobody else really gets it, you know?

Last night in a text conversation with my Mom Guru friend who gave me the referral to the baby sitter who didn't call back, I mentioned this to her, and she immediately texted the sitter who then called me horrified, saying she never got my message because she just switched phones and a bunch of information was lost from her old phone. We had a nice long chat and I will put her into the sitter rotation, although the bummer is a) she charges a little more than I'd hoped and b) isn't available at the right times for me to go to book club, get my hair done, or movie club (weeknights she's not available until 8:30 or so, and I need to leave the house by 5-7 for any of these things). So I am still screwed for the most regular things I need to do. However she can stay late, so she's ideal for gigs and if I want to go out dancing. I've been itching to get back to a Monday night venue that is a bar and so not at all baby friendly. It would be great to be able to head over there once a month or so. But the issue still remains of how to handle my groups and bi-monthly haircut and dinner. Meeting a third sitter tomorrow, so we'll see.

Everything has gone haywire in our family lately - between my friend issues and this, it's been a rash of hurt feelings, letters back and forth, and people needing a break from each other. Thanksgiving has gone all screwy. My sister and I now may go to see our uncle instead of the usual Massachusetts clan, or even go to Florida to see our cousin and his three small children I've never met. I vote for Florida, personally - I've never been and it would be a blast to be somewhere warm for the holidays for once. But suffice it to say there's been a lot of tension all week and I'm really worn out.

Here's a pic of Bumpus enjoying his new hand me down Jumperoo:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ruminating and reacting

Despite some effort I've done nothing this weekend but obsess on what my friend said to me Friday night. At first I was kind of determined to not let it get me down, to not take it personally and move on, knowing she's my friend and would never intentionally hurt me. I mentioned it to a couple of my friends and my sister and everyone was horrified, in fact more than I had been in the moment, which said to me that this is serious and I shouldn't just let it slip by. I think most of the time things should just be let go - but occasionally you need to call people on their shit. I believe this is one of those times, because it has ramifications for our future. So this morning I sent her this email:

Dear X –

Thanks for having us over Friday night. I’m sure the bowls will be a big hit (well, they already are!).

I’ve been kind of disturbed this weekend about something you said and I think I need to talk about it. When your son asked who Robert’s father was and you told him that he left, was a bad guy, and very irresponsible, it really shocked and hurt me. I know we were both totally caught off guard and didn’t know what to do, and I know you just said the first thing that popped into your head, but why blatantly lie, and go so profoundly negative? I couldn’t then contradict you in front of your son and say, “that’s not true, I went to the doctor to have a baby” or whatever would be appropriate for an eight-year-old. In one sentence you turned this happy single mother by choice with her very much loved and wanted baby into an abandoned mother and her unwanted kid, like we’re some charity case. I don’t so much care about how it makes me look, but the very idea of someone thinking my cherished little baby was some kind of accident or mistake or burden makes my blood boil.

I know you love us and would never ever intentionally hurt us, but I feel very hurt and offended, and I feel you owe me an apology. I also think at some point you should explain to your son the truth about our situation, so we don’t have some ugly scenario someday where he tells my kid “oh yeah, and your dad didn’t even want you,” which to me is too hideous to even think about.

I didn't want to tell her what I really think, which is that her son is the most sullen, miserable looking kid I've ever seen who always makes it very apparent when I visit that I am NOT welcome, that they have a very fractured and sad relationship because of her anger, and that I think she's jealous of the happiness she sees with me and my boy. She went into the relationship with her son with a lot of mixed feelings, which I respected at the time - she was very upset about what the pregnancy did to her body, was very ambivalent about having another one because of this, and had (and has) a lot of anger that 90% of the childcare falls to her since her husband is basically never around because of work. So she does that thing that so many parents do today which is bribing the kid by buying him things, and consequently he's miserable. I think like so many homes that appear happy and ideal from the outside there's a lot of unhappiness, resentment, and anger brewing there. Friday night I couldn't wait to get back to my nice little home, rat poop and incontinent dog and all.

It reminded me a little of this bizarre scenario that happened when I was around seven or eight. My mother left me with neighbors in this big, artsy building we lived in in Boston at the time, probably to go to work in the evening. She left me with them because they had a daughter named Tiffany who was a little older (I'm thinking maybe twelve...?) who she probably thought was a friend of mine but who I was actually really afraid of. Anyway I remember being really uncomfortable there and repeatedly dialing our phone number to see if my mother was home yet, with that sort of panic and urgency only kids get. At some point Tiffany caught me doing this, took the receiver out of my hand, and smacked me across the face. It remains the only time I've ever been hit, and it was absolutely shocking. Suffice it to say eventually I did make it home and I didn't ever stay with them again - I don't think I told my mother or anyone; but I just remember the utter relief and sheer joy of getting out of that hell hole and getting to go home. That's how I felt Friday, after watching my friend drink two glasses of wine and start talking about which celebrities she thinks are "hot", while I sat there still internally processing the fact that she just told her son that my kid is, for lack of a better term, a bastard. 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Seduced and abandoned

Something really odd happened tonight. I was at my friend's house, the one with the video game addicted seven (actually, now eight) year old. With of course the baby.

This little boy is one of the most sullen little kids I've ever known. I don't know if this is a phase all kids (especially boys) go through and I'm just ignorant, or if he's just shy and it comes across as sullen. But he always speaks to his mother with this "tone" like she's a pain in the ass (something I would never tolerate, not ever), and she told me again how he's find of saying "I hate you" when he doesn't get his way and calling her a "mean mommy". Again maybe all kids are like this and I'm just a Pollyanna...but Jesus Christ.

So anyway out of nowhere this kid asks his mother, "who is Robert's father?" Before I can step in, she says that we don't know him. Then he says, "yeah, but where is he?" Then she says, "He left. He was a bad guy. Very irresponsible." And just like that, I was seduced and abandoned. No longer am I the awesome independent single chick who never compromised and instead did this incredibly ballsy thing and had my own baby - now I'm the idiot who had unprotected sex with some lowlife, and my beautiful, wanted and planned son is some mistake that was left behind.

I was pretty horrified, but there was no fixing it - I couldn't contradict her and say how a doctor helped me make a baby; I don't even know if this kid knows the birds and the bees yet. Later after he went to bed she brought it up again and said "kids pick up on things" and I said I wish he didn't now think I was some loser that some guy left in the lurch. But now that I think about it, I think he must have heard the parents talking about it or something - I mean, why would this kid out of nowhere ask something like that, and keep pushing it?

In the end do I care what a sullen eight-year-old thinks of me? No. But something about the very idea of it - looking at sweet, innocent little Bumpus, and the idea of someone not wanting him, or someone, anyone, even thinking someone didn't want him, hurts me so deeply that I find myself very disturbed as I write this. It feels like a knife in my gut.

It probably doesn't help that just last night I watched a Downton Abbey episode in which this very scenario occurs and the woman and her adorable baby are treated like pariahs, and it hurt my feelings just watching that.

I know my friend meant no harm and was just flustered and tried to make it a "teachable moment" for her son, so I don't really hold it against her...but I think this is going to be my last visit over there for a while.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Reaching

During our trip east, Bumpus developed the skill of reaching for things. As with all new skills, he started out slowly, but now does it nearly all of the time (when he's interested, that is). This is what got us in trouble with the dog, since she had never experienced him show any interest in her before, and it freaked her out. I am starting work with a dog trainer next week, at great expense. But I feel like I did with the breastfeeding - I feel like I at least need to try. I need to see if our relationship can be fixed before giving in to just keeping her locked up in a room all day.

But back to reaching. So I love that this is an expression of his burgeoning personality - what he's really into, what he's not. I love that when I hold him on my lap facing me he immediately reaches out to touch my face. I love that when I present him with a toy, he grabs it. It's kind of like our first rudimentary conversation.

I am having to seek out new child care arrangements, as my two friends who had stepped in for me for the first few months of Bumpus' life now have very heavy work schedules. I'm extremely grateful for the time they were able to give me, however. I am trying out an acquaintance from the dance world who baby sits preemie twins with lots of special needs, but would like to have a couple more people on the call list. My walking buddy today says she may have someone for me, and I put in a call to my Mom Guru friend's favorite sitter (although I'm a little bugged that she hasn't returned my call yet). The drop-in place will cover some circumstances, but not all.

I suppose I'll continually be revisiting the question of "should I really try to keep up with all my activities, or just let them go?" It is an expensive proposition to get child care for things that are "just for fun" like seeing movies, book club, etc. But somehow the alternative - literally never interacting with another adult, and being trapped at home with a baby 24/7 for months on end, does not sound healthy for me, or even Bumpus. Last time I picked him up at the drop-in place, he was in a swing literally screaming with delight as one of the workers dangled a toy for him. He didn't even look at me when I picked him up, ha ha! So I think the drop-in place is a hit. Just wish they were open a hair later!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Slacker

When I read all the cute/fun things you gals do with/for your babies, I feel like a total slacker mom. Now that my event has been over for a month, you'd think I would make time to a) knit or sew something cute for Bumpus, b) start reading to him, or at least c) keep the freakin' house clean for him. Nope.

Here is a list of things I feel guilty about not doing:

Singing. Oh, don't get me wrong, I sing all day long, but mostly just variations on our two hit singles - "Breastasiz" (the breast feeding song), and "Baby Boogies" (the stuffed-up nose baby song). But my high-falootin' ideas of learning and using awesome vintage lullabies has yet to be realized.

Reading. As noted, I have not started reading to the baby yet. He does, however, appear to enjoy watching The Real Housewives with me.

Bathing. In Bumpus' nearly six months on the outside, I have given him a total of two sponge baths and two real baths - one that involved him screaming like he was being murdered in the kitchen sink, and one in the actual bathtub with mommy that went slightly better.

Tummy time. I have completely ignored the amazing tummy mat thingee with all the cute suspended marine-themed items designed to stimulate the Bumpus and help his brain develop, preferring instead to put him on a thin blanket on the hard floor where he can roll into the sharp locks on my steamer trunk or slowly back into the fireplace.

Cute outfits. I have bought Bumpus no clothes. He is still wearing his newborn onesies, many of which barely snap anymore, and nearly all of which are riddled with cute little shit stains. He has worn one pair of socks.

I have not filled in his baby book. I'm not even sure where it is, to be honest.

I have not gotten any prints from my maternity shoot.

Still, he gets his loving mama kissing him and squeezing him all day until his head nearly explodes, who loves to play with him, comfort him, and make him smile. Hopefully all of this will make up for my other shortcomings.

I am going to get us into baby swim classes next week, so I'm not a total slacker!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Try to remember...

September is here, and it makes me awash with memories and at the same time hope for the future. Personally I can't wait until September means "back to school". That's going to be so much fun! Will the other kids tease him if he brings my 1970's Peanuts lunch box to school...?

This time last year, other than being pleased I was pregnant and staying pregnant, was a torment for me. Dodging suspicious friends, missing my aunt's memorial and a chance to tell my whole family about the pregnancy in person, and not to mention the horrible crushing nausea. Boy am I glad it's this year and not last year!

Recently I had a discussion with a friend with one child about the benefits of one child. While we both admitted to still being somewhat conflicted about pursuing another pregnancy, our conversation reminded me of the old "I'm glad I have no kids, kids ruin your life" conversations I used to have with my other bitter single friends. It's how every conversation sounds when you're trying to talk yourself into not doing something that you want to do, yet you know is not in your best interests.

More and more I feel like Bumpus is enough, that I don't want my attention split among two children. And whenever I think about never enduring another pregnancy and birth, I can literally feel my uterus celebrating, shaking my aged ovaries like little maracas, the dried up eggs rattling like black beans. "Yes! The factory's closed!" (they seem to say).

Talking with my Mom Guru friend last night, who is expecting baby #3 and planning a home birth this time, brought up all kinds of memories of my craptastic birth experience. The NSTs. The bullying. The random high risk ob telling me "we see no point in continuing this pregnancy." People telling me "well, at least you'll get to meet your beautiful baby boy" as I sobbed in terror in the days before the induction, and wanting to strangle them. Watching "The Cranemakers" episode of Cheers on the phone the night before the induction for a little laugh so I could sleep. But also what a champ he was - never a lick of trouble, from the very beginning. Just good natured and easy and relaxed, all the time. If I didn't know better, I'd question his maternity!

I so often tell people, "I'm so glad I did this...ONCE." And that really is the most honest way to say it - I am SO GLAD I faced my fears about pregnancy and birth and made this amazing human being who has already enriched all of our lives. But this is likely a one time deal. If I know what's good for me (and him).

In shifting around and cleaning out the nursery (somewhat), I moved my ancient crib into the bedroom to see if I could maybe get Bumpus to sleep in it. I nursed him and then put him down and he slept soundly - for maybe three hours, at which point I had to lift him out to feed again, and maneuvering him back into the crib only woke him up, so he stayed in the bed the rest of the night. It's a process. At least he seems to like hanging out in there, and I don't have to worry about him rolling off the bed if I take my eye off him for half a second. Today he did a massive, guttural, 57-year-old alcoholic projectile vomit in the crib. Kind of glad he wasn't in my bed at the time, I won't lie.