Thursday, May 29, 2014

The best of me

Today was a really good day. For whatever reason, Bumpus was just super agreeable to everything, or if he wasn't, he just shook his head rather than screaming. He even stopped screaming in the car when I explained to him that yes, I don't like it when the baby cries in the car, either, but he's just a baby and he doesn't know better. I have been talking to him like a big boy lately and explaining things a lot more - is this what happens when children feel listened to? Or did we just have a fluke of a good day? Either way, thank you, universe, I needed that!

He absolutely gets that he has to be seated before he gets to eat. He's still pretty picky and seems to eat hardly anything, but he might just be in one of those light eating phases. This experience has taught me that, as I suspected, children really do thrive on rules and structure. At least, for now -

So many people have told me how much worse three is than two-years-old that I am quaking in my boots. Right now B's opposition is annoying but not constant - for the most part he just kind of does what I ask, from getting his milk into the fridge or brushing his teeth or picking out some pajamas. What on earth would I do if he just plain defied me - refused to leave the house, refused to let me change his clothes and diaper for bed...what would I do if he got to the place where he would just scream and throw fits over everything, all the time? Not that every three year old does, of course - but I've seen some pretty gnarly three year old behavior out there. God help me.

Well, hopefully by then, a) we'll be in the rhythm of preschool so I will get regular breaks, which I don't get now, and b) the presence of a younger brother he can interact with will be a positive thing.

I've been thinking a lot about B's second year - all that time between ages one and two - and how compromised I was due to pregnancy. I mean, from ages 15 months to two years I was pregnant and mentally and physically not all there for him. It's weird to think Theo won't have that at that age - I won't be all his, either, but I will not be physically or hormonally challenged by pregnancy. So as much as Theo is missing out a bit on his babyhood because I have to devote so much attention to older brother right now, we can catch up later when B is in school and it's just me & T. It's weird to think about that. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Post Script

Operation Bumpus Sits and Eats is going fairly well. I have been able to convince him that he must sit while eating. He doesn't always eat what I offer him, and the "are you done?" game still goes on longer than I'd like. It's a work in progress. But I think I am definitely onto something - two-year-olds are perfectly capable of sitting at a table and eating nicely. We just have to "train" them the same way we train them to sleep and use the potty. Anyway my frustration level has decreased significantly in this area, and that's excellent!

The Operation Theo Sleeps is kind of falling apart - but that one I can't do much about, since apparently he's too young and little to actually sleep all night yet. He still goes right to sleep when I put him down at 6:30 - but unlike at first when he would sleep until 1 or even 3 AM, now he routinely wakes around 11 PM and is up just about every couple of hours after, meaning I pretty much get no sleep at all since I'm doing about five feeds a night. He's just cranky and inconsolable from about 5 AM on - I try the boob, I try a pacifier, I try burping, but no luck. It could be he just wants to start his day, and I don't want him to. Each night I hope he'll go back to sleeping a little more/longer; it may just be a growth spurt or, again, his body adjusting for how little he gets to eat during the day. Either way I'm pretty worn out. I think when B starts preschool I may use the time to just take some long daytime naps!

Had a pretty stressful visit to friends in Santa Barbara on Memorial Day. I had no plans at all the entire weekend, which normally would send me into a pit of despair, but honestly I was so tired of running around like a maniac that I actually looked forward to a little alone time with no need to be anywhere. I talked friends into planning a bar b q, and it was great to see them, but it's just stressful being out of your comfort zone with a toddler; we sat out in an open area of their complex and Bumpus just ran all over the place and didn't play with their four-year-old as I'd hoped, so I spent the whole time chasing him and dragging him kicking and screaming away from the gated pool area which was all he was really interested in. He also kept pushing their sweet nine-month-old who of course wanted her toys back, making her fall and cry, and making me have to grab him and scold him over and over. It sucked. Thank god parents understand! 

The couple that lost their baby girl days after T was born was there. I can't imagine how awful they felt being around other people's babies. They are far braver than I.

Still, we had a surprisingly good day today even though we were mostly at home. I think B may be as fed up as I am with being out all the time; after lunch I asked him if he wanted to go out to a park but he instead went to the back door. Against my better judgment I let him outside...where the pool is...but amazingly he listened when I told him not to go to that area and instead enjoyed playing in his sand box and with his tricycle. And he was even willing to take a bath after, and I got his scary Howard Hughes-style toenails clipped, and he actually sat and ate most of the little "burger" I made him for dinner. So...good day, right?

In other news, I finally got off my ass and fired my former floor rental guy in favor of a new floor rental guy. It had been hanging over me for months, bugging me every single day, until finally I just pussed out and sent an email rather than calling, since it is true that babies and small children make phone calls pretty near impossible. Thankfully he answered right away and was very gracious about it. This is someone I've paid $12,000 a year for more than a decade. I hate taking business away from people - I'm sure the loss of my contract is going to hurt. But I have to move on to the better deal, you know?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bad Mothers

I've been haunted by two very disturbing things I saw on TV recently. One was an episode of Louie in which he almost loses his youngest daughter on a New York subway. This spawned a dream I had last night in which I lost Bumpus on the subway and never saw him again. I shudder just thinking about it. 

The other was a scene in Mad Men in which Betty, a horrid narcissistic mother, asks her husband even as her young son clings to her why her children don't love her, and when the husband points out the obviously devoted boy, she says bitterly, "just wait." It makes me think about my friend who will snuggle baby Theo and say how precious he is, and then eye her own rampaging two-year-old and say half-jokingly, "yeah, but then they turn into that." Or my ex-friend with the sullen seven-year-old whose entire relationship seemed to consist of him goading her into buying him video games. I look at my own sons and wonder - is this what it becomes?

I like to think no, of course not, we'll be different, our relationships will always be loving and special, but I'm sure every parent thinks this when their kids are babies, and then peers, divorce, hormones, or just life gets in the way and relationships are strained or irreparably damaged, as is mine with my own mother. 

I often look at Bumpus and wonder if he loves me. It's probably my own narcissism that would even cause me to think such a thing - I mean, why wouldn't he? I adored my mother despite all the times she abandoned me or negated my feelings; but then again, it's those kind of mothers who are adored because we're so desperate for a connection that we want to force one to exist where it otherwise wouldn't. It seems like the craziest women I know have the most polite, perfectionist, perfectly behaved kids, whereas the most stable, normal parents seem to have the kids that are going off the rails (well, some of the time, anyway). But with Bumpus I guess I ask this for the dumbest and most obvious reason - because he doesn't say he loves me, doesn't give me kisses or hugs, doesn't even call me mama. He doesn't seem to need or care about me at all, except when he's hurt or scared and needs a hug. And I cherish those moments. And most of the time I enjoy the fact that he's so not needy and independent and confident, especially when I see other kids being super clingy. But a little part of me worries that I've made a mistake in pushing him to be strong and independent - that I haven't been loving enough. That despite telling him this every day that there is still a distance between us. Is there? Or is it just a toddler thing where he's so on the move all the time that he's got more important things to focus on than mom?

In my dream about losing him on the subway, I was absolutely frantic and shattered, but oddly complacent - my thought was, "I guess that's that - he's just gone." When I woke up all upset I kept telling myself, first of all nothing like that would ever happen because I wouldn't let it, and second of all I would fight like a lunatic to recover him, immediately calling 911 and grabbing every authority figure I could, shutting the whole system down until he was found, like any good mother. Wouldn't I do the same if I watched him grow up and felt like we just didn't have a connection? Wouldn't I get us into therapy or at least sit him down and talk about it? I would never just let him go. That would never happen!

Perhaps all of this is yet another projection of my own mother relationship. She let me and my sister go without so much as a whimper of protest - we were just gone from her life and that seemed to be ok with her. Why didn't she fight for us? We were right there clinging to her and all she could do was wonder why we didn't love her.

I just feel like once B can really express himself things are going to be so different. Right now I don't know how he feels about anything - does he like how I sing him a little song about all the things we did that day every night as I'm putting him to bed? Does he like when I pat his head as I pass him in a room, or kiss his cheek whenever I can? Does he like to hear me tell him that he's smart and special? Does he miss me when I'm gone? Again I feel weird even asking these questions because it's not about me, and I get that. I didn't have these kids so that someone would love me unconditionally - I had them so I could love something unconditionally. I've been known to have thoughts like, if I were to die right now, Bumpus wouldn't even remember me, because he's too little. He'd see pictures of us and maybe read this blog, but I would be a stranger to him. I remember once when I was around six years old and my mother had been gone somewhere and come back, and I remember hiding behind my sister because I was shy around my mother because I felt like I didn't know her anymore. It saddens me how malleable children's affections are at this age. 

I know that just worrying about our relationship is proof enough that I am not one of those bad mothers, that I will always fight for our bond to be strong and special and work through whatever old emotional baggage I'm carrying around to make sure that happens. But I won't lie, I see people struggle with their teenagers or grown sons, and I think all of those boys started out as sweet little loving babies like Theo is now - how did they get there? And how can I prevent it?

Operation Bumpus Sits and Eats

So we're having an eating issue around here (what a shock with a two-year-old). Sometime around when the baby was born Bumpus decided he didn't want to sit in his high chair anymore. He would scream and kick and cry when I would try to lift him into it, and if I was successful in forcing him into it he would just sit there and scream and cry, and/or climb out of it. Which is treacherous enough when it can tip over so easily. He would instead pull out a chair and plant himself at the table, so I thought, ok cool, he wants to sit at the table like a big boy. All right. I support that.

But it's turned into a bit of a nightmare, because he won't sit and eat. He gets up and runs all over the house. Lately I've been closing doors to prevent more greasy fingers rubbed on my bed which at least minimizes the damage, but still - ugh! He used to mess around with toys and run around but at least he'd eat - now he doesn't even eat. And we go through this endless frustrating game of me asking over and over if he's done and his just staring at me, so I start to take the food away and he screams bloody murder, so I tell him he doesn't have to scream like that but instead say, "more, please," which he never does, so I bring it back, and he still doesn't eat it, so I ask if he's done, he ignores me, so I take it away, and he screams, and this just goes on and on and on. It would go on all fucking night if I let it. 

A couple of nights ago I was dancing around trying desperately to ram a piece of sandwhich in his mouth as he lay writhing on the floor, kicking the dishwasher savagely with his heels, and it dawned on me, "you know, I bet my mother, in the 60s and 70s, didn't dangle food over my and my sister's faces while we rolled around on the kitchen floor...and you can bet my grandmother sure didn't in the 40s, or her mother in the teens." This never went on in houses before a couple of decades ago. Why am I tolerating this bullshit? Because I'm surrounded by hippies who tell me it's ok? 

I am going to try an experiment. I have no idea if this will be effective. But I do believe he's old enough to understand. If he gets that he's not allowed to get on my bed with his shoes on and now always sticks his foot up for me to take them off first, I think he can grasp the concept that you have to sit and eat and if I ask you if you're done and you don't say anything, you're done, period. I believe this will result in a very hungry, unhappy boy for a few days...but I need to try. It's kind of like the sleep thing. I let that get way out of hand with him until I had to lay down the law - and it was hard, but when I did, magic! I think I've let him get away with this nonsense way too long, and every day is worse than the last. So starting tomorrow morning we sit and eat in a reasonable amount of time, and if he doesn't eat, the food goes away, period. We'll see how it goes!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oh my aching back

I hate that my blogging has slowed down so much. I always swore I wouldn't let that happen when the baby came, yet here I am. And it's not because I'm frazzled or sleep deprived or busy. It's because I honestly have nothing of interest to talk about. I tend to deal with the same issues over and over - playground crap, constant vigilance required by toddlers, scrambling to keep this child entertained every day. Many days (not today, thankfully, but yesterday for sure) I spend a portion of the day with this mantra in my head: IhatethisIhatethisIhatethis, but then once both kids are in bed and I'm sitting in the living room reflecting, I think, "we had a pretty good day today." Go figure!

Theo's amazing sleep continues. I give him his last feed from 6-6:30, then swaddle him up and put him to bed. He usually fusses around for about a half hour and I have to keep going in to replace his pacifier, but then he'll sleep until anywhere from 11 pm until as late as 3 am! This also gives me the added bonus of having time to pump in the evenings for babysitter bottles. It's only three more pounds until he's physically capable of sleeping straight through (he's 11 lbs now) - which would be so awesome! After suffering through constant wake ups all night with B for a whole year, I am determined to shorten that considerably with T. I'm already sleeping much better with Theo in his crib. Again, when you know better, you do better!

I hired my handyman for a day of random jobs yesterday. I really couldn't afford it because right now is when I have the least amount of money I have all year - but certain things just had to be fixed, like a leaking outside faucet that was probably costing me a fortune in wasted water (and I hate water waste!). I invested in a portable a/c unit for the playroom so I can actually use it this summer, and my sister can be comfortable when she visits. We installed a cheap baby gate on the stairs leading up to the pool in an effort to make a safe outdoor space for B, but of course he scaled it within another couple of months I'll have him back to make a real gate. In the meantime - constant vigilance! If I want to use that space this summer so I can settle down and not have to be on the run all the time, I need to make it useable. B actually played in the improvised sand box I made for him last year for more than five minutes, so I'm hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we can hang out at home more.

I am still counting down the days until B starts preschool, which is coming up end of June. I think it's going to change everything around here - not only does it give me two long days in which all I have to do is entertain him in the morning and give him lunch, then pick him up, dinner, and bed, but it also means the remaining days will be more "special". You know, like other people who have childcare at least some of the time - it makes the time you do have with your kids more precious. Or so I hope!

I won't lie - I'm spread pretty thin these days, physically. My back, legs and feet hurt all of the time from the constant baby wearing, bending and squatting I have to do; when I lie in bed at night as I'm doing now, my ankles and feet burn up from being on them all day. It reminds me of when I would dance hard in heels all night - but of course that was considerably more fun than wiping up spilled food off the kitchen floor all day-!

Thursday, May 15, 2014 many of us have them?

Lately I've been thinking about friendships. I think of the changing face of my adult relationships - how, if I were to throw a party today, how different it would look from a party I threw two years ago. So many of my old friendships have waned - and I've also met a ton of new people, and gotten close to people I only knew slightly before, all because of having kids.

The other day a friend I see a couple of times a month remarked how when I first told her I was pregnant with B that she immediately thought she'd never see me again - being older and childless I'm sure she's been witness to this scenario dozens of times, as I was even in my thirties. Turns out I see her more now than I ever have - because she's available during the day, loves my kid(s), and of course I do enjoy her company. I find I work a lot harder to maintain my friendships now - but this is due to a couple of unique circumstances: I don't work outside the home, so access to friends is my only way of being around adults, and there's no husband or partner to fulfill that need. I also don't want to become that woman who has kids and immediately drops all her friends.

I have to say, though, that I'm lucky that most of my friends now have kids. There are only a couple of hold outs. I could have been one of them, but went down a different path. I often think if I had been surrounded by a big group of perpetually single people I could hang out with and travel with and spend holidays with I may never have had kids...but where, after thirty or thirty-five, do those big groups of single people exist? People want to pair off, and most people who pair off want kids, and most people who have one kid want another. I had an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality, and that worked for me. I hate feeling left behind.

I look at the people I spend a lot of time with now and realize with sadness that even some of them will fall away; once these kids start school, especially, that'll be a whole new crop of friends that will eclipse the old mommy & me group friends. The sort of random people I hang with these days may drift away as our children's lives become more complex. 

One thing that will hopefully keep things a little more consistent for us will be the fact that I plan on not moving...ever. We moved many times before I was ten; until fifth grade I was in a new school just about every year, sometimes twice in a year. And for no better reason than my mother just couldn't stay still. I do feel like all that disruption early on had a major damaging effect on me. To this day I have hardly any friends that I made before the age of twenty; I so envy those people that have big groups of friends that they grew up with - it's like having a whole other family. I want that for my kids so badly I'd do just about anything to make sure they have it - same house, same school, same friends. In that one area I really do want to give them everything I never had. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two Months

Baby T is two months old today. I cannot believe he was born two months ago - it seems like a million years ago. Sometimes I go back and read some of my posts from that time and I am rocketed back to how I felt then - but my brain has moved on; it's had to. I believe most of what is called "mommy brain" is just sleep deprivation, but I think part of it too is your brain just doesn't have room for all that information. When you're trying to remember how long thawed breast milk will keep after sitting out a couple of hours and then being refrigerated, suddenly the name of that actor guy who was in that thing just doesn't seem that important. 

I have had a major revelation about infant sleep. This is life changing. If only I'd known this with Bumpus! For the last week or so I have been putting Theo to bed shortly after B - tonight it was at seven. And he has consistently gone to sleep within minutes and not woken up until about one AM, and then wakes up for a couple more feeds (3 and 6 typically). It's completely amazing to me that a baby just a few weeks old can have, and wants, a bed time. Why did I not do this with B, and kept him up with me all night? A few reasons:

I honestly thought infants didn't need a bedtime because they were up all night anyway. I had anxiety about being separate from him and relying on a baby monitor. And I was lonely and wanted to hang out with him. But our evenings were torture - he would just fuss and fuss and mangle my nipples. All he really wanted was to be asleep. Who knew???

Bad vibes? Bring it!!!

I have this thing where when more than one weird/awkward/trigger-type thing happens, I just chalk it up to it being a bad vibes kind of day, which helps me deal with the feelings. The last twenty-four hours have been full of bad vibes. Last night I was kind of freaked out about it, but today I just say, bring it!!! Your bad vibes can't bring me down.

So yesterday had weird mother issues despite having a nice time at my friend's house. Unfortunately on my way home all hell broke loose - I checked my email and the German couple I work for, who said they wanted to close business last December but then kept changing their minds, caught wind of the fact that I have not been managing their affairs for a couple of months, freaked out, and are implying I owe them $600 in late fees and other penalties, some kind of my fault, others not. It's extremely complex so I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say I spent the entire night trading angry, accusatory emails with them, finally culminating in my having to cry out I just had a baby, give me a fucking break! It was very unpleasant and I was a ball of anxiety all night - but I decided to take responsibility for having dropped the ball during the time T was born (can you blame me???) and spent all day today working on dissolving their corporation which is what they want. It's going to be a ton of work for me, but I have to do it - I am the president of their corporation so leaving this stuff hanging only means more misery for me in the future. To get all their crap shipped back to them, freeing up a ton of space in my office, and wash my hands of this once and for all, would be wonderful. So I am going to resolve to leave my personal feelings out of it and just fix it.

Then this morning my sister told me she got wind of the fact that due to rising costs of living in Rio in anticipation of the World Cup, my mother is planning on moving to Florida. So...there's that.

Then I tried to set up B's overdue two year checkup...only to discover the medical group I was assigned for B is an HIV/AIDS clinic and the doctor isn't even a pediatrician. Huh? So I spent about two hours on hold and then finally in discussion with someone at Health Net to find an actual pediatrician - she wanted me to research the names and call back, but considering the fact this had been probably the tenth attempt at calling and never getting a live person ever, I kept telling her to not hang up on me until we got this resolved. So with a screaming baby in the back seat the whole time I managed to pick some random nearby pediatrician and make an appointment. Done and done!

Then we went to my favorite park for a nice relaxing afternoon, but a really unpleasant incident happened. The park was empty because it was so hot and dry. B was bored stiff. But then this brother/sister combo came in and started playing with him...kind of. The girl said to someone she was six and the boy was probably four or five. They were running away from B and kind of shunning him - but he just chased them and thought it was great, so I didn't mind. And then there were times they and other kids all played nicely together - at one point the girl pushed B and he started crying and she hugged him and said she was sorry, so I thought they were ok. But I just had a bad feeling about those kids. I had this phrase in my head, "I don't like the way they're playing with him." But poor B had been trapped in the car all day while I made that stupid endless phone call, it was way too early to go home, I had nothing else for us to do, and B was happy and playing, so I thought, what's the harm? Well, when it was time to leave, the girl shouted out as we were walking past, "Finally that guy is leaving, yay!!!" And the brother parroted, "Yay, finally!" I stopped, gave her the meanest look I could muster, and shouted back, "you know what? That wasn't very nice!" I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were chastened. But man, I wanted to throttle that little bitch. Where were the parents, you ask? Nowhere to be found, of course! Thankfully B was utterly oblivious and happy and thought they were his friends. Ignorance is bliss. But I've spent the whole night seething. The next time I get that feeling that I just don't like something about the way another kid or kids is interacting with my kid, that's it, we're doing something else, even if B has a fit and doesn't understand why we're leaving. I would do this if I felt weird about an adult, why not when I feel weird about a kid?

Anyway, so the bad vibes are just piling on around here. I say mother-fucking bring it. I've got a nice little family and we're a unit and we love each other and none of this shit can touch us. The end. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy ******* Day

Randomly last night I checked out this blog's stats (I rarely do this) and saw with interest that many people had googled and found last year's Mother's Day post, Estranged Mother's Day. I read it and was surprised by how bitter I still was even just a year ago. So much of that bitterness has dissipated in the past year - I'm sorry to say, largely because I simply have too much on my plate to expend a lot of energy on that anymore. Time and distraction heal all wounds...?

For the record my mother sent me a lovely e-card and wished me a happy day and I wished her one back. And later with friends convinced them the benign neglect we all suffered from our mothers was kind of de rigueur in the 70s and not an indication of any malice on their part. So, things are good between me and my mother. I send her pictures of the kids, she says they're cute, done.

So why did I cringe while scanning my Facebook feed today? Why did I stay radio silent there when I normally post multiple times a day? Why did I put off returning all the kind, thoughtful texts and emails I got wishing me a happy day? Why didn't I use the term "mother" in that last sentence?

Obviously I still have a lot of unresolved feelings about my mother. Seeing everyone praising their selfless, loving mothers online today was profoundly depressing to me. I recently re-watched an HBO documentary about Sondheim in which he details a letter his mother sent him before going into major surgery stating she had but one regret in life and that was "giving you birth". I was terribly disturbed by this - and then remembered the letter my mother had sent me that was in a similar vein, which was why that story struck me like it did. That hideous moment of realizing that your mother resented you. Ugh!

My friend's husband and I were talking about this stuff today and he said psychologists say the first seven years of a boy's life are almost entirely shaped by his mother in the sense of helping him to feel good about himself, and after that age the father helps the boy feel good about his world. It made me think again about mothers and sons and how important I am to them and how I must not screw this up. They must never ask themselves if I love them. They must never worry that they are not good enough or that they could do something that would cause me to not love them anymore.

Recently I had the thought that I stopped being someone's child when I became a mother. I do believe this is true for me. But then there are days like today where I just feel like I've taken one step forward, two steps back. I still hurt that I don't have a good relationship with my mother. My life would be so different right now if I did - if she lived nearby, if she spent time with her grand kids, if she were normal. Does it even bother her that she'll never meet them? Who knows?

Being as religion is largely the culprit in our rift, I was interested to watch a show on CNN tonight that profiled an atheist "church" called the Sunday Assembly. There is one right here in Hollywood that meets once a month. I might just check it out. I love to talk about religion and atheism and anti-theism with like-minded people, and definitely miss whatever sense of community church used to give me. Also this church gets really involved in charity work which is something I'm very interested in making a part of our family life (and was non-existent in my childhood religion, if you can believe that). So I may go next month. I might walk in there and be surrounded by weirdos. Or I might meet some really cool people. Kind of how I felt going to my first swing dance - and look how that turned out!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mama needs a raise

There are few greater joys in life than the moment your toddler actually eats something. Bumpus on the whole is a pretty good eater - again, compared to some friends of mine whose kids eat nothing but cookies and crackers all day - but dinner is always rough. There's just no predicting what he's going to like, and something that's a big hit one night suddenly isn't the next. But tonight I thought I would toss him a soy meat ball to see what happened - he immediately popped the whole thing in his mouth, and ate several more after, followed by a plate of sautéed cauliflower, a bowl of cottage cheese, and some cut up mango. Freakin' yeah. Suddenly I feel like a rock star over here.

Speaking of rock star, I auditioned for the vocal group. They sent me a couple of songs to learn, and they were hard. I studied like it was the SAT, driving all over town and singing along with the mp3s played through my car speakers from my phone. The leader of the group came over Wednesday night and listened to and recorded me, and we had a nice chat about her hopes for the group and general philosophies of music, etc. She said she had "a lot" of other people to audition so I don't know what to expect really; naturally I'll be disappointed if they don't pick me, but honestly my plate is so full that on some small level it would be a relief. It was fun to exercise my rarely used musical/creative muscle, though.

Operation Theo Sleeps is going well. I have been putting Theo down in his crib every night around eight after a good feed, wrap up in a swaddler, and paci. He typically doesn't wake until after midnight or later, which gives me a whole swath of time to myself in the evenings. He still wakes to feed a lot in the wee hours...which doesn't thrill me...but it's the price I pay for not feeding him often enough during the day because it's just so impossible with all this running around. Would I rather stop and feed him more during the day with Bumpus afoot? Nope. So here we are. Still, just having my bed back and Theo safe in his crib just a foot away already makes for better sleep for me. I think co sleeping is just one of those things that's great until it isn't. Like most parenting techniques!

I have made the decision to raise my ticket prices on my event next year. I sometimes raise them by $5, sometimes not. But it's at the point where with the cost of putting on the event going up by thousands every year, I just can't keep operating with these rock bottom ticket prices - many people get into my four day event for only $100. I know people will freak out, but I have the best excuse ever - I've been running this event since 1998 and the prices are almost the same, despite adding value every year. I think if everyone I hire gets a raise, it's time I got a freakin' raise!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Today was such a love/hate kind of day, with regards to parenting. To be honest, mostly hate. But it's surprising despite all the whining, tantrums, yelling of "no", and  destruction of property, at the end of the day I can say to myself, "hey, you got him in the bath, he ate some food, and he's in bed, good job!" I did put him to bed a half hour early, though, because a) I couldn't deal, and b) he can't tell time yet. So. Yay me. 

Last night was T's first night in the crib. Although he started in the crib, as usual our night ended the following morning with him in my bed and my nipple up his nose. For a few weeks now he's had this ultra fussy time between about 3 AM - 7 AM where he just cries and squirms and won't sleep, won't take the pacifier, and I nurse as much as I can until my nipples just can't take anymore. In the moment it's pretty horrible, although by morning it's all but forgotten. I was hoping the crib transition might somehow help with this. Nope.

Tonight I did an experiment and put him to bed at 8 and sat in the living room with the new baby monitor on my lap. Now, you have to remember I have never done this - never not had the baby, Bumpus or Theo, not right with me at all times (except of course when I go out and hire a sitter). I've never used a baby monitor before. Why am I doing it now? I don't know, really - part of me wants to get a jump on instilling good sleep habits early and not having to go through what I went through with B having no schedule until he was one. And part of me feels like the baby wants to be in bed in a nice quiet, dark room rather than in a noisy, bright living room when nighttime comes. 

But maybe part of me is enjoying having some control over my younger, more malleable child, as my older child more and more develops a mind of his own. So many things that used to be so easy have become so hard lately. He has stopped being willing to sit in his high chair and refuses a bib - he will only sit at the table; or rather, will sit at the table for a few seconds before running off to play with toys and/or put his greasy hands on everything in the house. I find myself three times a day chasing him futilely all over the house with spoonfuls of food, and it drives me completely insane. I had bought a booster seat for him but then his legs wouldn't fit under the table so I had to return it. I put it out on one of my mommy groups on Facebook to ask if these mealtime shenanigans are normal and inevitable or if I should be a hard ass and really lay down the law about sitting still while eating - but everyone had a different opinion. Interestingly the ones who said "lay down the law" were ones who haven't experienced this age yet. They don't know yet that you kind of can't force a two-year-old to do anything. You can't shove food down their throat if they don't want it; you can't force them into a bath tub if they don't want to be there (they'll just jump out and pee on the bath I've heard...); and you definitely cannot force them to sit still and eat. Threatening no food if they don't sit still is useless because they don't want to eat anyway. So I endure this rigmarole three times a day, every day - B running around the kitchen like a crazy person, pushing his chair up to the counter and pulling all the cookbooks out and ripping the pages, flinging the dirty dishes with dirty water collected in them all over, starting the microwave, shaking the salt and pepper all over the counter, while I try to coax him back to the table with milk, grapes, blueberries, whatever. When I physically restrain him and force him to sit he just has a massive meltdown, flings his food all over the floor and won't eat, and then whines and cries for hours after from the trauma of being made to sit somewhere. It fucking sucks. So I let him get away with murder and chase him with food, always wondering if I should be clamping down and somehow force him to sit and eat properly, all the while knowing that's probably impossible. Oh, and as soon as another traumatic mealtime is finally over, now it's time for the baby to clamp my nipples with his hard palate for half an hour while Bumpus climbs on my back or lies down behind me and repeatedly kicks me in the kidney.

And you wonder why I prefer to spend most of my day in the car...?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The lovers, the dreamers, and me

I went to yet another packed, hot, chaotic public event yesterday. I think I need to admit to myself that certain events are entirely unsuitable for small children and I need to just skip them. You think they'll be good for kids because they always advertise kids' activities and you figure, "hey, it's something to do", but the sad reality is there is almost nothing good for kids this little. What they want to do is run and scream. So, I need to find situations where he can do that.

My boobs hurt. Correction, my nipples hurt. Like, a lot. And I'm pretty sure this coincides with the last time I had a lot of breast feeding pain which was around the time I ditched the nipple shield last time, too. It's not a dry/cracked nipple issue, it's a pain issue from the intense suction, and I'm pretty sure there's not much to be done about that except wait for my boobs to adjust and callous over. But it's very unpleasant, especially the right one, where every time he latches on my eyes cross with pain. Owee.

Today is my "free day" with B at the Baby Kennel, but of course I feel the need to "get things done." So my plan is to set up T's crib. I may not use it yet, and I hate to think of B jumping all over it and destroying it, but I've been thinking of transitioning T into it in an effort to improve our sleep. Not that the sleep is bad - it's pretty ok, considering - but I kind of like the idea of T getting in the crib and having a proper bed time. Already I have him swaddled up and sleeping on the couch in the living room next to me by 7 or 8 PM most nights - why not set up the baby monitor and get a schedule going? It's worth a shot.

I was referred to a singing group who is looking for an alto. They are a trio who do Boswell Sisters-type 1930's music, which I have actually done before with two friends just for fun. I have to learn a couple of parts and then will audition on Wednesday. I know it sounds nuts to take on something like this right now - I feel nuts even considering it. In our email correspondence I immediately brought up the fact that I'm the single parent to two small children and have another band that would have to take priority. There is a big part of me that knows there's a chance they won't even want me due to my baggage or if they just don't like my sound - but honestly, I've been to their web site and it looks like they're kind of just getting started and have very few gigs or projects right now, and I've been in the vintage music scene in LA long enough to know that young(ish) women who sing authentically with a swing-era sound are like unicorns, so really, at the risk of sounding like an egomaniac, they'd be lucky to have me. Unless I'm just not what they're looking for. Which is cool. But I absolutely love singing in groups and harmonizing - way more than singing solo - so even if there were little to no money involved, I think it would be fun. And there's always a chance that it could turn out to be quite lucrative. But this is LA, land of dreamers. If I had a dime for every time I've been approached to be in a documentary, reality TV show, run a dance venue, or be part of a band or singing group, only to have nothing ever materialize...well, I'd have enough money for an awesome new major appliance, at least.