January 2009


Posted by Duff

If you get frustrated by your spouse and would like to feel less so, please read this article from Parents magazine, written by single mother Lori Gottlieb with more sense of humor than I think I would have in her shoes.

I’m not always able to step back from the moment and appreciate how wonderful it is to have someone around who loves your child as much as you do. And usually loves you, and may show it by trying to do nice things, even when you’re not being nice.

I recently spent nearly three days alone with The Dervish, and if that didn’t remind me how great it is to have someone in my corner, even if just as a backup at his most involved with the  NFL Playoffs, Lori Gottlieb did.

The other day, I asked my husband to entertain The Dervish for three minutes while I spent some quality time by myself for whatever reason I wanted it. Asking should be enough, right? But I need to ask, because if I wasn’t interesting enough to The Dervish (who knows why) just standing in the same room, I become infinitely more so when I walk away, particularly when I need to attend to myself in some way.

Peace.

Fewer than three minutes later, she was trying the doorknob and I was holding it shut (we have disabled the locks in our house for her safety, since she’s lock happy these days). But she persisted, and since I knew she was standing in the dark and probably couldn’t find her way back whence she came, and she was growing more frustrated, I opened the door.

She was psyched to see me. I was not nearly as elated to find my husband seated comfortably in front of the TV, caught up in cycling.

I reminded myself that she rarely seeks him out the same way she does me. He doesn’t know what it feels like not to have a moment for his personal business.  I told myself to ask him for what I needed much more specifically, though pleasantly, the next time we were confronted with the same situation.

And that approach yielded much better results than me asking him what the hell was wrong with him that he couldn’t keep The Dervish entertained for three minutes.

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Posted by Fitz

Ah, the snow day.   It was once a glorious dream come true, making me too excited to sleep with its promise of all-day sledding and reading Sweet Valley High books.  I’d wake up with a sense of joy and wonder, not thinking about how the school board would tack an extra day onto our calendar, but about how there was an entire day stretched in front of me  like a blank slate.

Today, a snow day is a pain in the ass.

I don’t know about you other moms who work outside the home, but my job isn’t one that stops for weather.  We are always working for our clients, always making things happen, and always figuring out ways to scale insurmountable obstacles to keep our schedules the way we have planned.  While a little storm never would have hindered my ability to get my job done two years ago, today is a different story.  Because daycare closes.  And then what do you do?

If you’re me, you scramble to get your mom to sleep over and be “on call” in case daycare closes…because calling out of work really isn’t an option.  When you’re me, you’re the only person in your entire region who has a kid younger than 25, and those people don’t remember what it’s like to have what they refer to as “childcare issues”.  I find myself spending far too much time explaining why I can’t be in the city today for that hour-long meeting, and apologizing for circumstances out of my control.  I find myself feeling guilty for letting my boss down, when I really should feel guilty about missing sledding opportunities with the Bean.

Normally, the balance between work and being a Mom is ok.  I’ve come to see it for what it is, although I’ve realized that it’s something that I will never truly have a handle on.  On snow days, though, the glittering white expanse of my front lawn tells me that snow angels should really take precedence over power points – despite the fact that the power points pay the mortgage.  I wonder if the career I have chosen is one that, over time, will give me the balance that I need to feel successful as a professional and a mother.  I wonder if I can ever really feel successful as both, and if I can make peace with the fact that I’d rather be successful at home than at work – even if it means being perceived differently than I would like to be at work.

When you’re pregnant and thinking about motherhood, no one tells you about the snow days.  There isn’t any book that tells you how you can make your boss truly understand how hard it is to scramble to find alternate childcare, and there’s no website devoted to making you feel better about having to miss out on an important meeting because you couldn’t find the alternate care.  What keeps me going – aside from the need to pay bills – is the realization that it is what it is, and I can either worry my head off or just deal with whatever happens today as best as I can.  The best choice is obviously the latter, so let it snow.  I can take it.

Posted by Duff

Tonight I sat enjoying the ease that is late second trimester: absence of morning sickness (knock wood), a pleasant bump that is apparent to strangers but still allows a good range of movement, regular nudges from the inside that don’t yet take my breath away and remind me all is well.  My food aversions have taken a sabbatical. I’m usually pretty comfortable, even if  still  a mouth breather.

This is the honeymoon of pregnancy.

It’s the perfect time to daydream of what a new person will look and be like, to romanticize.  I’m doing that. Even having a child already, I don’t ascribe tantrums or sleep issues or whining to this child.  I think it’s nature’s way of protecting me, and assuring that I’ll give birth and then take good care.

I watch my belly ripple softly under the influence of MC, who has not yet had a chance to test my patience. I dream sweet dreams of soft curls and cooing, as if I’ve never cleaned vaporizing cheese out of  a secret hiding place, carried a kicking screamer to or from anywhere, or kept a wide-eyed vigil over a sleeping but feverish child with questionable breathing.

And this is when The Dervish hands me a freshly picked booger.

Posted by Fitz

It’s happening again.

When it happened last year, I thought it was because I had a little baby that didn’t sleep through the night and had an awful case of reflux.   I am worried that it’s happening again now, and that I feel powerless to stop the train in its tracks.   I am feeling cranky, and restless, and impatient, and am constantly daydreaming about being on an island with a cocktail.

I have the winter doldrums.

I’m not sure what it is about being a mother that emphasizes these feelings, but for me, mid-January seems to bring on an extreme desire to crawl out of my own skin.  I have a toddler who would like to be anywhere but at home, yet it’s too cold/snowy/inconvenient to take her out.  I have started a rigorous New Year’s Resolution weight loss program, but I feel crappy about myself.  I plan summer getaways, but they seem like they will never get here.  It’s a strange cycle that is tough to break out of without some help.

Since it’s not in our budget this year to go to Sandy Lane, here are some things that I’m trying.  I’m hoping that, by sharing my ideas, you’ll share your own and we’ll collectively will Spring to come sooner, like, immediately.

  • Get out of the house – alone.   I went out for a glass of wine and some Spicy Mango Chicken with my sister-in-law tonight, and I already feel better.  Like a human who can socialize.
  • Use Nars Orgasm blush.  To get that glowy, fresh look without having to take off your pants.
  • Plan a getaway, no matter how short or unexotic.  My husband and I are planning a trip to Boston to celebrate our birthdays with some free hotel points we’ve earned.  We’re optimistic that one night will give us our groove back…or at least a solid 8 hours of sleep.
  • Research new things to do.  I’m bringing the Bean to a free trial class at My Gym, we’re trying out Playtime Village for the first time, and we might even hit up the local museum.  At least we’ll be out of the house!
  • Try some self-tanner.  You don’t want to look like you could be on Dancing With the Stars, but a bit of the stuff mixed in with your daily moisturizer could bring you back from the dead.  Figuratively, of course.

This time of year is not fun for anyone (unless your a fan of whoever is in the Superbowl).  Try something new to break through the doldrums, and let us know if it works for you.  Let’s share all of our ideas so the next two months of winter don’t seem so bleak.

Posted by Duff

I tried to outwill my child over the long weekend. It took three days, but she won. I said she. Not I.

I’m not embarrassed.  I’m also not surprised.

Since she’s old enough that we should be able to reason away her pacifer (aka binky) and she will sleep anywhere other than our home without so much as asking for one, I decided to take this three-day weekend to remove it from the naptime routine. Just as a rehearsal for overnight sleep.

I figured, how bad could it be?

Here’s how bad:  The screaming was as fierce and inconsolable as colic had been, for the duration of naptime, only with words, and leg-tugging, and a Dervish willing to throw herself against her bedroom door with enough force that I figured it was worth opening it before she hurt herself or we needed a new door. And frame.  And surrounding walls.

For once, I was glad it’s winter and the windows were shut.

Day one: no nap. Angry, angry child until bedtime.

Rinse and repeat for day two.

I might mention here that leading up to this, I had been having uncomfortable contractions for the duration of my 22nd week of pregnancy, and at my midwife’s urging, went for three separate appointments to have them checked on. 

Note to medical personnel: Try to avoid saying pre-term labor whenver possible.  In any case, MC is snug. Happy. My uterus, however, is irritable.  And I was told to take it easy. So why was I continuing to do something proven to cause unease for everyone in our house?

Day Three: I gave her the binky, she went down for her nap on the first try, and I had 90 minutes to watch John & Kate Plus 8 marathon episodes and wonder how the Gosselin parents manage seven more than I’ve got, with what looks like more patience than I’ve got.

 As far as I’m concerned (for this week, at least), The Dervish can bring that binky to college. Genetics tell me it would be miraculous if she didn’t need braces even if she’d never met a binky. My pediatrician can rest assured that it has not interfered with her speech. At all. Believe me. She gets the whole speaking clearly thing a lot better when she’s not hysterically screaming and shuddering.

You might say she won. But I can definitely say I learned a lesson in why other parents do things I might not agree with when I don’t have all the facts.

A dear, laid-back friend of mine recently said the following to me:

“One of these days she’s just going to spit it out and want nothing to do with it, and then she’s going  to go on the potty without being asked. I just get the feeling that’s how she’s going to handle everything.”

If you know The Dervish, this makes perfect sense. Sometimes I just need a reminder.

Posted by Fitz

If you ever find yourself angry at your husband, this new article from Parenting Magazine is a must read.  Not only does it show that many, many moms are experiencing similar issues in their relationships, but it gives us data to prove that it’s okay.  Enjoy!

Posted by Fitz

I have waited my whole life for this.

Through the years, I have suffered innumerable indignities when it comes to my voice.  Having inherited the rough, off-key Irish timber of my grandmother, no one ever wanted me to sing for them…despite my ferocious enthusiasm and superb performing skills.  I still remember my despair when I was one of the only girls in my 4th grade class to not receive a solo part in our chorus’ rendition of We Are the World. In the high school senior play –  the one where any senior can join – my friend the sound guy told me that they turned the mikes down whenever I skipped or danced toward them.  I was crushed, but it was clear – I was not a singer.

Enter American Idol.  I sing along at home, at the top of my lungs, thinking that if only I had a little talent, I could be the next Britney.  I could work harder on my abs, and she doesn’t truly sing anyway, so of course this would be within the realm of possibility.  It wasn’t until my husband told me I’d be part of the “loser auditions” that this dream fully died.  I would never be appreciated for my singing.

Now, though, I am smug to report that it’s a different story. The Bean loves my singing.  I can sing anything – made up lyrics to The Happy Days Theme song, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, La Isla Bonita…it doesn’t matter.  She loves it.  I have finally reached the rock star status that I have always lusted after, and it feels GOOD.

There are many things that the Bean has given me as a mother – unconditional love, joy,  some frustration, and a really fun reason to get up in the morning.  While I would never expect her to fulfill me as a person, there are little, unsubstantial things – like the singing – that pop up and make me realize how many voids she has filled in my life.  She has filled in so many of the cracks in me that I was always trying to fix by myself…and she doesn’t even have to try.  It is enough for her to be herself, and navigate her little life however she pleases, bringing untold joy to our family.

I feel a little awkward writing about how much my Bean has been a balm to me, when the reverse should be true.  It is what it is, though, and I appreciate the gifts – big and small – that she has given me over the past 15 months.  I hope that, as she grows, I can return the favor.

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