Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The World Before Them

Another friend announced her third pregnancy on Facebook this week. It's funny how once three kids sounded "totally insane" but now in my circles is becoming quite the norm. I remember how having two kids sounded totally insane. Hell, I remember when one sounded insane!

I keep picturing those moments I had thought about before having two, or any kids - both screaming in the car, par example - and how awful I thought that would be, but how really not a big deal stuff like that becomes. So yes, parenting two kids looks just as I pictured it would. But it does not feel like it looks. 

It's interesting to me that when I post something funny/negative on Facebook like "a day without baby poop under my fingernails is a good day", my childless friends comment how they could never handle being a parent...yet they post daily pictures of all the things their cats and dogs have destroyed, all the vet bills they've racked up, all the poop and pee they've had to clean up. They don't see how similar this is - if you've had a high maintenance pet, you've been a parent, period. I've done both, so I know!

I'm sort of saddened and yet gratified when I think how far flung so many of my old dance friends have become in the last two years, people that I saw at least once a week and considered my inner circle for fifteen plus years. Part of it is my having children and not going out much - but honestly, none of those people are going out, either. Everyone has scattered - either coupled up, moved away, gotten heavy duty adult jobs, had kids; now we pretty much only see each other at my event, or on Facebook. Which again makes me so glad I got on the mommy train when I did. If I were still relying on my dance friends to meet my emotional needs right now, I'd be having a major crisis. I so often ask myself, during the good moments or during the bad, what else I'd be doing with my time - probably some semblance of what I'd done with my time in my mid-late 30s; travel (but not much, since I can't afford more than one-two trips a year), futzing with the house (again limited by budget), writing thinly veiled short stories about how lonely I am and how panicked that I'll never have children, and participating in various other self-indulgent activities to keep me occupied while everyone else moves on with their lives. It pains me to write such a dark and somewhat condescending portrait of who I might have been, but I write it because I know myself and I know it's true. 

I used to say it was only my final crappy breakup paired with my aunt's death in the fall of 2010 that got me on the single mother path, and that had it not been for those events that I never would have done it. But I don't think that's true. I'm pretty sure the idea to create a family with a sperm donor would have dawned on me sooner or later - but most likely a bit later in another pit of despair, and if so, a second child may have been an impossibility (no baby Theo!). But I would have at least tried for one.  I don't think I'd be the type to let parenthood just pass me by with a sad "oh well". That's kind of not my style.

In addition to my dance social scene being a bit of a skeleton of its former self, my east coast relatives are experiencing a bit of a crisis that may really change the dynamics of our family - and in a few years my sister and her husband will retire to Florida which means I may never visit the northeast again, finally closing the door on a whole life that came before me. My mother and aunt used to talk longingly about the house on Seneca Lake their grandparents had where all the cousins would congregate every summer; my sister and I never got to know that world as it was long gone by the 60s and 70s, and it saddens me that my two boys will know nothing of my childhood in "the old country" - summers and holidays at my grandparents' place in rural Connecticut, my 70s and 80s childhood in Boston and New York when those cities were dramatically different than they are now. All they'll know is Los Angeles and modern technology and changing family structures and gender roles and whatever else happens in the next twenty years. I wish I could extend my past through them, but I can't. As my old worlds wind down and come to a close, theirs stand wide open, waiting to be written.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Six Weeks

A lot of things happen at six weeks in a baby's life, and in the mom's life. 

Theo has plumped up a bit. Yesterday we nursed without the shield successfully for the first time after many failed attempts, and have not used it since. Whew! One less thing to wash, pack up and keep track of. The down side - nursing now hurts like hell. Hopefully that will pass because I don't need another reason to put off nursing each day.

I left Theo with the sitter for the first time last night, and he did just great. Took the bottle with no problems and was contentedly in her arms suckling his paci when I got home. She commented that I have the "calmest, most mellow" kids, which of course made my heart soar.

I had my post partum appointment last week which for me is officially the end of the birth process, as it's the last time I will see this midwife and the last time anyone will be up in my hoo-ha until it's time for my next gyn checkup. I didn't strip as asked by the nurse and instead sat fully clothed with the baby strapped on me because I wasn't sure where to put him - when she saw me like this she got kind of snippy with me and said, "I do have other patients". I guess it was dumb of me to just sit there with my clothes on, but between you and me I'm kind of glad I'm not going to see her for a while. She has a very nervous energy that always put me on edge. Anyway I checked out pretty well except for a bit of redness that I could have told you was there from how much it stings when I pee. This is surely a result of not having been able to really rest or recover. Oh well. Such is the life of a second time mom.

The sitter mentioned she got some smiles out of T - which I have not had yet, and the sad reason why is he is always in the carrier, in the carseat, or swaddled with a pacifier. It sucks that I don't get to lie on the bed with him and stare at him for hours like I did Bumpus...but...I really don't know how to get through the days except how I've been, by basically making the baby disappear while Bumpus is up and about, and then after B is in bed, having T be swaddled and ready for bed, too, so I can have dinner and work. Sigh. Sorry, baby T. I swear I'll make it up to you one of these days. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

In defense of Moms on Phones

Today the topic came up among friends once again about "those moms on their phones" - ie, what a sad state of affairs it is to look around the average playground/street/play space and see nothing but kids playing and moms staring at their smart phones. As one of those moms, I'd like to say a few words in our defense.

First off, I am not glued to my phone. I still have to watch B very closely to make sure he doesn't run off, fall, get kicked in the head by kids on swings, or (most likely) get in an ugly pushing match with some kid over a toy. But if I hear a text or phone call coming in? I'll check it. I'll check my email, I'll pop on Facebook for a few seconds to see what my friends are up to. But compose an email or lengthy text? Not really - I don't like to have my attention off him that long. Experience has taught me the difference between adult time and toddler time - in the time it takes me to place a sippy cup in the refrigerator, Bumpus can: put his plastic plates on the stove, turn on the burners, and melt them; throw all the recycling on the floor; climb on to the kitchen counter and stick his hands in the butter dish and smear it in his hair; and put all the clean dishes in the strainer into the sink full of dirty dishes (disclaimer - he doesn't actually do these things. But I bet he could if he put his mind to it). 

Still the fact remains that on any given day you will see me at a playground looking at my phone while my kid plays. And some of you will judge me for this. But if you haven't walked in my shoes, you don't know why I do this, in fact, why I must do this.

At the moment my phone is the only thing that connects me to the outside world - that reminds me that I have a business to run, and enables me to run this business. It also allows me to text other mothers for play dates and get valuable parenting information. Why can't I use my phone when I'm not taking care of my child? Because there is never a time I'm not taking care of my child(ren), except when I'm driving. And I don't text and drive, and now even making hands-free calls in the car is kind of impossible since the new baby screams his head off for the entirety of every drive we take. And we cannot spend any time at home because the two-year-old climbs the walls, and as soon as he goes to bed I'm suddenly the mother of a newborn all night.  So, as a work at home mom with no help, I'm supposed to email, call, Facebook, blog, and text when exactly?

Also...few things annoy me more than parents who won't just let their kids play. Everywhere I go mothers (it's always mothers - dads don't do this) hover over their kids, directing their play, constantly admonishing them over unimportant shit, and pulling them away from things they're enjoying to make them do something else. It drives me nuts. I want to say, "leave him alone, he's fine! Just let him figure it out and play!" Is this the societal ideal today? The whole "get down on your kid's level and play with them" thing? Well, I hate to break it to you, but...I don't want to play with a two-year-old all day, every day. It's stupid and boring. This is why we go places where there are other kids his age he can play with. The other day at a play space a little boy came running out of a play house excitedly saying, "mommy, mommy! I made a friend!" I casually looked over and much to my delight saw that it was my kid he was referring to. It was awesome. 

So I see how technology has invaded our lives and made us isolate and not connect with each other. I get it. I was saddened by the sight of a group of boys in a park on a blanket all playing on an IPad. These days Bumpus pretty much never watches tv, I don't have an iPad because I can't afford one, and I never let him touch my iPhone lest he reprogram it into Croatian. But me? Well...I'm an adult, my brain is fully formed, I'm a stay at home mom, and my phone helps me run my business and stay connected to the world. I realize not all moms on phones have my circumstances - some may really be neglectful assholes. If I worked all week and then had a few precious hours with my kids on a Saturday to enjoy them, I would not take that time to check Facebook. But all day, every day taking care of a toddler and a newborn? I'm checking Facebook while my son makes friends and plays without me directing him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Today I got the best email I've gotten in ages. Bumpus can start preschool in June! Ahhhhh! I am giddy at the prospect.

They had an opening in May for the Monday-Wednesday-Friday program, but I really can't afford it. And if I feel like I need a third day a week I can always do what I'm doing now, which is take him on a weekend day. So I will wait another month until the Tuesday-Thursday program becomes available. June 22 is his start date. He'll be there 12:30-5:30 which is the perfect timing for me.

Part of me is delighted, but part of me is sort of intimidated, too - this shiz suddenly got real. I have to label things, get him there on time, and be accountable - they can question my parenting; they can tell me what to do. Which scares me, because this is now going to be a lifetime of institutions intruding on our family life. But I think it's going to be great for him - structure, learning, consistent kids to get to know; I bet it'll do wonders for his language skills which are still marginal at best, and they may even help with potty training-! 

The timing couldn't be better with my need to be able to work during week days ramping up around that time. And I can - gasp - even get in my pool this summer! So I'm going to enjoy Theo's only immobile year while I can. Then of course I'll go through the whole toddler thing a second time - but this time I won't be spending almost his entire second year pregnant, and then with a newborn. It can only get easier than this. Right?

I feel like June 22 will be the first day of the rest of my life. I made a Facebook post about B's admittance to preschool and a friend of mine commented, "it's kind of like sex. You cry the first couple of times, but then it's awesome." Here's hoping!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cold chillin'

Have you ever noticed how in movies or TV shows, the sound effect most often used to indicate "squalor" is a screaming baby? Well, that or my personal favorite, the crash of a garbage can lid followed by a cat screeching. I often wonder if people see me in public shoving my tantruming toddler into his car seat while my newborn screams and strains on my chest in his carrier and think, "ugh!" Much the way I used to see misbehaving kids in public and think, "that's why I don't want kids." But like so many things that happen while parenting, this scenario - the simultaneously wailing newborn and acting out two year old - happens so often that you don't even think about it. If that freaked me out, how would I handle the daily toddler poop explosions, the sticky fingers on everything, the bed I just made that immediately gets torn apart? At a certain point, you just have to let some shit go.

I remember thinking about having a second child and picturing myself driving with the cacophony of two screaming children in back, and how awful that would be. You know what? It's no big deal. I just crank the AC/DC louder, and next thing you know Bumpus is chanting along with the "oi oi oi" chorus in "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap".

I'm not trying to justify any of this. I'm just sincerely saying that a lot of this every day parenting stuff that looks so awful from the outside really isn't. At least, not for me. Those tantrums blow over completely within minutes, and babies cry all the time; it's how they communicate. No big whoop.

It's been an odd week of canceled plans and missed opportunities, but so far we've made it work. Theo is doing great - coming up on six weeks, he has suddenly become a lot more "present"; a lot more awake/alert time, he's filled out a bit, and I'm just itching for that first smile, which I can tell is coming any minute now.

Bumpus insists on holding "the bebess" every day. Until of course the bebess starts crying, then he hands him right over. Typical dude *sigh*

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Epic Easter Fail

So, today was perfectly awful. I had a feeling it might go that way, and I was not disappointed.

I completely dropped the ball on Easter this year. I actually forgot about it entirely until I was looking at the month trying to find days for B to go to the Baby Kennel, only to discover they were closed today. So there will be no cute mall Easter Bunny shots, no pics of B & T in adorable Easter outfits, no cupcakes with green dyed coconut flakes on top, no home made egg hunts. This will be the Easter that never was. 

I did at least have the wherewithal to look up neighborhood egg hunts and found a large community one at a park downtown. I invited a friend but she demurred saying it would probably be a zoo. Oh my God, was she right!

I queued up twenty minutes early...only to be stuck waiting nearly an hour as they were late letting people in and there was an absolute mob of people waiting already. I should have left then. I hadn't factored in the fact that once I let B out of the stroller it would be impossible to get him back in, that the place would be so packed and chaotic that having him run free would be an exercise in utter heart stopping panic as he disappeared into the crowd, and that all the attractions - bouncy house, egg hunt - were set up for a crowd about one one hundredth of the size of this one, resulting in hours' long waits for everything. It was just awful.

I waited forever for the egg hunt - only to discover as we got to the front of the serpentine line that it was a disorganized mess with everyone pushing in front, nowhere to put my stroller, and no way to hear the one guy trying to corral people over the racket of wailing children, a shitty over-amped Christian rock band, and randomly popping balloons. So I said the hell with it and went to see if there was anything else we could do - but all the open spaces were super hazardous (fountains, etc), Bumpus didn't understand why he couldn't push in front of hundreds of people to climb into the bouncy house, and I was starting to worry about the baby who had been strapped to me under the hot sun all this time and hadn't moved once. 

Finally I decided to cut my losses and just leave - which of course resulted in a massive meltdown from you know who. Then all I could do was drive around aimlessly with the a/c blasting and two children screaming their heads off in the back seat. Good times.

Somehow got B to eat a good dinner and get into bed - after lots of hugs and apologies from me about how not fun the day was despite my promises to the contrary, with intermittent tantrums on his part every time I attempted to get him to do something he didn't want to do (which was pretty much everything).

The good thing is, Bumpus doesn't know he missed out on anything today, and will never remember this. Someday he'll know things like me skipping out of the egg hunt after all that waiting just because it was stressing me out, and the fact that he didn't get a balloon while everyone else did, and there was ice cream there that I didn't get for him because I was pissed off and couldn't be buggered. Those days are coming soon. 

But really...have I ever had a fun Easter? For a while I went to that rockabilly event in Vegas over Easter weekend, which was kind of fun, but always marred by single girl problems - getting in a huge fight with a girlfriend who went after a guy I was interested in and never talking to her again; being there days after my failed first IUI and feeling very lonely and shiftless. And other than that, having no faith to make the day meaningful and no children to enjoy, it's mostly been kind of pointless.

As with all parenting fails, all I can do is shrug my shoulders and promise to do better next time. Next Easter I won't just have had a baby. And B will be old enough to know what's going on, so I can have a blast hitting up the dollar store for Easter basket stuff and surprising them with it, maybe even doing a little egg hunt in my sloping front yard. And making those coconut cupcakes.

If the true meaning of this holiday is resurrection and redemption, then surely I can get a re-do next year. That's the great thing about kids - it's never too late to make it up to them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Today was the first time I took Bumpus to the Baby Kennel with no concrete plans for my day - no brunches with friends, no movies. Not for lack of trying. It was all good - I resolved to drop a package at the UPS store (return of a stupid booster seat for B that didn't work with my table at all), mail many packages of fliers of my event for people to distribute for me, hit the Old Navy spring dress sale (bit of a bust as none of them were breast feeding-friendly - dammit), get groceries with only one child in tow, and sit in the hot tub. Of course the one thing I didn't get to do is sit in the hot tub, which I have not done in ages. I have no idea if it even still works. It's typical that the one relaxing, enjoyable thing didn't get done because I just plain ran out of time. Such is the life of a mother, huh?

B is still not fond of the Kennel experience now that he's transitioned to the preschool age group and is always shall we say "difficult" after I pick him up. I'm not sure how long he'll be like this - I hate to think that he hates it, when I'm doing this for his enjoyment - but I have been assured he has a great time when I leave, and I'm sure this is true. Or that's what I'm telling myself anyway.

I have started letting B hold T as long as I'm there to keep T's head from flopping around. It's an odd phenomenon, B's attitude towards T. When I let him hold the baby he gets very possessive and throws a massive fit when I try to take him away. I think in his little toddler brain, the baby is like a special new toy. This morning I kept the baby wrapped up on my chest because I just couldn't handle the tug of war. Although B has been shoving his little cat stuffed animal down his shirt and pajamas lately and I realized he does this because it's his version of baby wearing, which is beyond adorable. He is a very gentle, nurturing boy, and I love this about him, and I hope he stays that way. 

Now that Easter is upon us, I kind of feel like I dropped the ball. I wish I had organized an egg hunt and made cute little Easter basket cupcakes. I love that stuff, but there was just no occasion for it. The sad reality is all my friends with small children are spending the holiday weekend with family - and I have none nearby, so here we are. Oh well; this falls under the category of "this will be fun when the kids are older". I am taking B to a big public egg hunt tomorrow which may be a big mistake, but hey, it's something to do. I find myself saying this phrase a lot lately. 

Theo is becoming less alien-like as his six week birthday approaches. He is alert more, looks around more, and I can't wait for that first smile! I feel like if this is the difficult part before the fun of a smiley interactive baby, I've gotten off easy! He's such a good baby and such a joy to have around, for both of us. I think I can safely say adding a sibling to this family was the Best.Decision.Ever.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I pissed myself, and other news

So I pissed myself last weekend. I went to a very nice Smc meeting at a park, and after a few hours took B to the bathroom to change his diaper. Somehow just the sight of a toilet signaled to my body that it was time to pee. And it didn't seem to care that I still had my pants on. Oh, it was awful. I felt it coming and tried frantically to undo the way too tight and complicated apparatus of my jeans, but I just managed to unload a full bladder all down my pants, right to my knees. And I couldn't stop it. I'd had little trickles here and there before, but nothing like this. All I could do was go ahead and change B's diaper, hot foot it in my soaking wet pants to the car that was a long walk away, in front of tons of people, corral two kids into their carseats which takes forever, sit on a baby blanket to save my car seat, and text the people from the meeting that I'd pissed myself and had to make a quick exit. Oh, the joys of post partum-!

In other news, have been kicking ass in the "keeping busy" department. Arranging things for us to do morning and afternoon has been a full time job - but is worth it, since we get home right before dinner and no whiny bored afternoon misery. I keep a list on my phone of places we can go and people who have expressed an interest in getting together for play dates. I've decided to approach this whole toddler thing like a job - as if I were a nanny. Those nannies have their shit together - toys labeled, other nanny friends they meet up with at specific times and days, varied activities for the kids to keep them stimulated. If they can do it, I can do it.

I met up with friends today who gave me two interesting ideas. They said they were able to get their two-year-old into a Head Start program, which is basically free pre-school. Maybe I've been approaching this thing all wrong. I looked up the system online and it is very confusing...but I'm going to pursue it and try to apply. All they can do is turn me down, right? At least it's not connected to Medi Cal!!!

They also talked about going to Hawaii in July, which is something we tried to do together some years ago but one or the other of us was always pregnant. I have free miles burning a hole in my pocket and can get a free stay at a fabulous Marriott there (unless I can get into their timeshare which is a possibility). It would be so great to do a trip like that with another couple with the same aged kids! I shudder at the thought of braving that flight alone with a baby and a toddler, but I could do it. Not being pregnant would help, and having help once I get there would be huge. It's also over my birthday week. So fingers crossed I can pull that off! Mama needs something to look forward to!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Magnetism of Babies

It's a funny thing, what these little critters do to us. I never understood the power babies - in particular little, new babies - have over us until I observed my friends' reactions to my newborn(s). Everyone talks about how seeing him, holding him, makes them want one. Or another one. And I'm sure this is a thought they had not had a minute before.

I went to a wedding Saturday night, which was my first real outing with Theo as far as seeing my dance peeps and not just mommy friends. Everyone was abuzz about the mysterious package on my chest, and all asked the same things, and I responded the same things.

Things are going great.
No, I don't feel sleep deprived at all. 
The birth was much better this time.
Two kids is not as hard as I'd thought. 
Bumpus has really taken to his brother. 

I find myself repeating over and over how adding a baby has only added about 20% more work, not 100% more as I'd anticipated. That newborns are so easy. That once you're already in kid mode, adding one more is no big deal - the real shock is going from adult single childless female to mom; mom of one to mom of two is easy. 

A friend announced her third pregnancy on FB yesterday. It makes me wonder who's going to be next in the third kid club - there are a few candidates; women who are just young enough and have husbands enough to pull it off. These things are contagious. It reminds me of when I had chickens; when one would lay an egg, the other would sing this sad little song. It's hard to say what that song was about, but it always sounded like longing to me. 

I spoke to a male friend the other night who had called to congratulate me on the new baby. He asked if I was planning on having any more. He was the first person to ask me this. And you know, I'm not going to lie and say the idea hadn't occurred to me, much like the idea of buying one of those cute little Fiats or selling house and moving somewhere cheaper. It's hard not to contemplate something that you know is a possibility even if it's not realistic for your life. Yes, I am poor and old as heck, but I bet I could pull off one more child if I put my mind to it. People have babies at 43. But before my sister has a heart attack while reading this, no, this idea will stay in the realm of Fiats and new houses. 

It is scary though when you think about how all the reasons not to have one child are exactly the same reasons not to have the second or third or more - too old, too single, too poor, house and car not big enough, etc etc. So when do you decide you're done? When your body decides for you? Or when you just let the opportunity slip by, passive-aggressively?

I often think that had I been surrounded by single, childless people, I probably wouldn't have had any. If I had a dedicated group of single girlfriends I could travel with and spend all my spare time with, I would have been content with that. But luckily or unluckily that didn't happen; over the life span of every group, nearly all of the members eventually pair off and/or have children, leaving only a few stragglers. I was determined not to be one of those stragglers. My dance world is experiencing a massive baby boom at the moment - as noted earlier now including lots of moms of 3 or more kids - which I know is unusual. I swear we all just feed off of each other. I wonder how many pregnancies have begun as a result of a friend posting a picture of an ultrasound or a new baby on Facebook with resultant "likes" and comments? How many of us see these posts and find ourselves singing that strange, sad song of longing, the song so ancient and primal that we don't even know we're singing it?

One month

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Free donuts

Thanks for all your sympathetic comments on my last post. I do think it helps to know that others struggle, too, which is one reason I've chosen to be so honest about even my ugliest feelings. I recently read a blog about toddler parenting in which the author said sometimes you just want to put them in a box by the curb labeled "free donuts". Ha ha! So true. Anyway, onwards and upwards, huh?

So I had a perfectly horrible episode on Monday where I was walking with a friend and suddenly got extremely nauseated - I was able to barely crawl back to the car and drive home (pulling over and getting out to sit on the street a couple of times), but when I got to the house I had no choice but to leave the kids in their carseats and run out and throw up all over my sidewalk. The rest of the afternoon was just torture - four hours of Bumpus tearing the house apart while I breastfed the baby while repeatedly running to the bathroom, about to throw up. And always with the terror that now the kids, including my (then) three week old baby, were going to get it, too. I finally got B to bed and my friend from the walk brought over some pills called Nux Vomica. I don't know if they worked or the thing had just run its course, but I recovered after that, and nobody's been sick since. Was it food poisoning? Maybe; I had eaten a suspicious coconut curry I'd frozen several months ago for dinner the night before. This immediately went down the garbage disposal, along with everything else a little old in my fridge. But boy, what a horrible episode! I swear I've thrown up more in the past four months than I have in my entire life. 

Anyway, other than that and B's bad morning, it's been a good week. I've really hustled to keep us busy, and have had some nice interactions with other kids. It's gratifying to see them actually remember each other and play together now. Bumpus has "friends"!

Today is going to be interesting. I am going to my babysitter's wedding, which means - no babysitter. Since it takes place in the evening right as B has dinner and bedtime, I decided to take him to the Baby Kennel rather than have a total stranger come over and try to feed him and put him to bed. But this plan is suspect too, since for three weeks now I've taken him there one weekend day a week, and now that he's transitioned to the preschool group...he hates it. Or at least, screams and clings to me when I drop him off, and cries and clings to me when I pick him up. Which he hadn't done in a very long time, and which makes me wonder if I should tough it out and keep taking him, or just stop. But then there's tonight where I really don't have a choice; there's no way I can bring him to this wedding and there's no sitter. And I'm going to this wedding, dammit. So they'll put B to bed and I'll drag him out of bed at 10 PM and take him home, and I have no idea how that'll go, or what he'll be like tomorrow, or how I'm going to balance breast feeding this baby, getting B ready to go, and getting myself dressed up for a wedding, all at once. Trying to keep up with a newborn's feeding schedule and a toddler and everything else you have to do is not easy. I feel like I hardly fed the baby at all yesterday, and feel tremendous guilt about that. It seems like I fed B every couple of hours at this stage; this one sometimes goes 4-5 hours without eating (during the day). But I do feed him a lot during the night, and he is gaining weight and seems content. So...? 

Wish me luck tonight. It's going to be an interesting experiment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Toddlers are Awful, Part MMXVII

So...not to contrast too much with my happy sunny posts lately, but...oh my God, toddlers can be so awful!

I understand when they throw fits over things that make sense, like being denied something, or having to go to bed or take a bath, etc...but it's the endless meltdowns over nothing that drive me utterly insane. This morning B just lost it while I was making breakfast, for no reason. Nothing out of the ordinary. Perfectly pleasant morning before then, getting dressed and playing with the baby on the bed. So why the hysterical crying, pushing me, throwing things, yelling no? Why? I just lost it. After listening to this for probably half an hour and trying everything to distract him, including just ignoring it, and after his freaking out further when I tried to help him get settled on his chair which he couldn't possibly pull out by himself, I took him by his shoulders and tossed him on his bed, shutting the bedroom door behind him. Judge all you want. It was what I had to do in that moment.

As I sat at the table utterly defeated and guilty, my heart broke as I looked over at his cute little breakfast - cut up buttered toast and milk in a sippy cup and scrambled eggs with his little spoon. Why do kids' things always radiate this air of joy and innocence, yet life with kids is so often situations like this - ugliness and anger and crying? 

I hate the rage he inspires in me - it scares me, and I wish I had more control over it. I still think I have a pretty long fuse, believe it or not, but man oh man. I simply cannot stand these inexplicable endless tantrums. Cannot stand them. Thank god I at least have a room to put him in so we can both calm down - for the record when I let him out he marched right over to the table, climbed up on the chair I had pulled out for him, and obediently ate his breakfast. And the rest of the day he was nothing but delightful. So...what the fuck?

It makes me wonder if living with a toddler is anything like living with a mentally ill person. Always being on eggshells wondering what the person is going to be like that day, dealing with their inability to communicate, dealing with their loose grip on reality, dealing with the power struggles, having given up so many things that give you pleasure because you love this person and want to care for them, but some days it just hardly seems worth it. Sometimes I wonder if all parents of small children just walk around shell shocked, wondering what happened to their sweet, compliant little baby, and wondering when it's going to get better again, because right now, it's pretty horrible.

A friend of mine with a two year old recently admitted that since she stopped drinking wine in the evenings she mostly just wants to kill herself. She was half kidding, but the pain was real. Her son is a real handful - the kind of scene I described from this morning which is a rarity around here she says happens to her all day, every day. That he's pretty much never not throwing a tantrum. What would I do if I had a kid like that? What if Theo is like that? I think I would take up drinking wine - or kill myself - or both!

I swear if there was a therapist who specialized in traumatized parents of toddlers, I'd sign up for that in a heartbeat, cost be damned. I feel like I need to talk to someone about how compromised I feel, how much I need some time to myself, how I spend every day counting the minutes until it's his bed time. How much better of a parent I'd be if it wasn't my job 24/7 and if I ever got a frigging break. 

I think this has all ramped up lately because now even the time I usually reserve for myself - B's 6 pm bedtime until my bedtime - is no longer mine, as I juggle a fussy, endlessly breast feeding baby with making myself dinner, straightening up the house, and (god forbid) actually getting some work done. Since the baby is in the carrier or car and sleeps all day, he then takes the evening/overnight to be fussy and eat. I don't know how to fix this, since the alternative - fussy, hungry baby during the day when I have to entertain B - is not feasible. It does all leave me pretty damned exhausted. 

I can't wait until this first six weeks of T's life is up and I can get back to some of my child-free activities, once I'm ok with leaving him with a sitter. Singing gigs, movies, book club, dinners out - these are the things that I need to feel human again. Also, a smile from the little lad wouldn't hurt. 

I honestly don't know how we all survived toddlerhood, since I'm sure we were all in our own unique way, awful. Our parents must have been saints.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Not much to report except that things are going well. So far, as I'd hoped, having two small children is a lot easier than I'd anticipated, mostly due to a few factors - during the day I pretty much only nurse Theo in the car either when we arrive somewhere or as we're about to leave, so I don't have to worry about chasing down B with a baby on my boob; baby wearing around the house; and keeping my time with B strictly 9 am - 6 pm so I get some time to myself. These things are life savers. 

Every morning B bounds out of his room and clambers on to my bed so he can see Theo and pat his head. Today I let B hold T for a few seconds in his stroller and the look of utter delight on his face was priceless. I'll get a picture of this when I feel like I can safely pull out my phone!

There are a few annoying things - B has decided he won't be using his high chair anymore and so squirms and runs around during meals which drives me batty; also has decided his hair is the best place to wipe dirty food-covered hands; also refuses to wear a bib so every outfit gets covered with a cascade of food. 

But my friends buried their baby girl yesterday so I kind of don't feel like complaining about anything...ever again. I didn't go despite having been personally invited; there was no way to arrange child care, and I wouldn't want to be away from T this soon anyway, and bringing him would have felt awful. Theo, the one who made it. People who went said it was a rough day. 

Someone on my smc Facebook group gave birth - miscarried - at nearly 17 weeks. She said she was numb and may not try again. It just reminds me how lucky I am - we are - who have living children, despite the odds. I don't kid myself that it's anything other than luck that has me sitting here with two beautiful kids, believe me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Didn't

Just for my own (and hopefully someone else's) entertainment, since I have found myself recounting the story of "all the things that could have gone wrong, but didn't" about the pregnancy/birth to so many friends lately, I thought I would write it out. It's quite amazing when you look at it, and I hope will give some succor to anyone reading who is experiencing anxiety about their upcoming pregnancy/birth.

I didn't have a chemical pregnancy
I didn't ever have an ultrasound in which I was told, "I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat"
I didn't find any problems in any genetic tests
I didn't get cut down by debilitating nausea
I didn't get put on bed rest
I didn't miscarry
I didn't go into pre-term labor
I didn't have a preemie at any time
I didn't go too late and have to be induced
I didn't trip and fall and suffer placental abruption
I didn't have any bleeding that actually meant anything
I didn't get an infection that jeopardized the baby
I didn't gain tons of weight
I didn't hurt myself or the baby while caring for my heavy two-year-old
I didn't get in a car accident
I didn't develop gestational diabetes, HELLP syndrome, pre-eclampsia, cholestasis, or PUPPS
I didn't have incompetent cervix and have to have a cerclage
I didn't have to have an emergency c section
I didn't have to have a planned c section
I didn't hemorrhage and have to have a blood transfusion
I didn't get stuck delivering at home, in the car, in an ambulance, or at some random ER
I didn't get stuck panicking over child care while in labor
I didn't end up delivering alone because the doula didn't make it
I didn't have prodromal labor for days or weeks
I didn't have to drag some well-meaning friend out of bed in the middle of the night to drive me to the hospital
I didn't have my water break somewhere inconvenient
I didn't go into labor far from home or the hospital 
I didn't repeatedly get sent home from the hospital being told I was not in labor
I didn't get stuck on pitocin, magnesium, or any other unpleasant drug
I didn't throw up
I didn't snap at anybody and have to apologize later
I didn't have an epidural that went horribly wrong
I didn't have a baby in major distress during labor
I didn't have a baby that got stuck and had to be vacuumed out
I didn't majorly tear, I don't think - because -
I didn't ask
I didn't have a panic attack
I didn't find myself mentally or physically incapacitated after giving birth
I didn't have a weird/disappointing reunion with my older child, also re: the brothers meeting
I didn't have milk supply issues
I didn't have a baby with unexpected health issues
I didn't panic upon being left alone with two little kids
I didn't let the house go, stop showering, or putting on mascara
I didn't ever have the thought that a second child, or any children, was a terrible mistake 

So basically, so many of the fears I had simply did not come to fruition. Oh, except for the pooping. That happened. But pretty small compared to what could have happened, right?