April 2009

Posted by Duff

I’m really not that interesting. Particularly, when I’m trying to get a few minutes (or seconds) alone in the loo. But The Dervish and our two cats disagree. The three of them can’t stand to know I’m alone in there, and feel incredibly left out. And since some sort of vaccuum seal is broken in both of our bathroom doorways, I can’t currently keep them out unless I hold the door shut.

Not an easy task from where I’m sitting. And it’s often not worth the scratching or sighing or “Mommy, you in there?” that results from my trying to maintain a few moments of privacy.

And now that I’m trying to encourage The Dervish to potty train, it’s counter-productive to exclude her or make her feel like the bathroom is a place one hides away. For now, it must remain neutral and normal. If not welcoming.

But why don’t any of them barge in on my husband in the same way? I head for the bathroom and a parade follows me. My husband heads in that direction and two sleeping cats lie and The Dervish Who Doesn’t Miss a Beat somehow finds her cuticles suddenly and completely fascinating.

So the last time her father made a beeline, I conducted an experiment. “Hey Dervish. Where’d Daddy go?”

She was nonplussed as she tried to fit a three-year-old’s hat on my enormous melon of a head. “Daddy’s in the bathroom,” she answered absently, and continued trying to fit me for headware. She knew where he was. She simply didn’t care.

Mama told me there’d be years like this.


Posted by Fitz

If your little one is anything like my Bean(pole), it’s not always easy finding clothes that fit well.  We search high and low to find pants with a long inseam, but typically Beanie is walking around like a little plumber, with her onesie or diaper peeking out above a waistband that is just big enough to slide down her tiny little hips.

I’ve tried grosgrain ribbon belts (and will shamelessly admit that they have usually entered our lives via a pair of preppy pants or shorts), but they are too slippery-slidey and always end up….off, somehow.  Imagine my delight, then, when I stumbled upon the Myself Belt when buying some cool daycare labels.

This belt is many things: it’s cute, functional, thick enough to hold up the pants, and gives kids the opportunity to open and close the belt themselves via velcro.  The Bean loves fastening hers, and smiles with a glimmer of pride when she completes the task.  They are easier than a standard belt, too, when it comes to diaper changes and general undressing. 

There are a couple of things I would change about the belt, however, if I was queen for the day.  First, despite the true sizing (XS to XL, with measurements given on the website), I’d like a little more velcro on the closure side to make the belt  more adjustable.  Second, I would like the belt to have a secret button that I could push when The Bean gets a little too involved in her self-belting: sometimes, we have things to do and need to get a move on.

Despite these minor drawbacks, I’d recommend giving this belt a try.  It comes in a variety of colors and patterns for girls and boys, and sells for $14.99  It’s a small price to pay to keep your kid’s pants up for the whole day.

Posted by Duff

“Two is not one.” said a well-meaning co-worker of my husband’s last week. Well, crap on a cracker. I don’t want to hear that!

 This time, I’m really listening, and trying to glean meaning from the wisdom of those with more parenting experience than I’ve got.

When I was pregnant with The Dervish, another well-meaning co-worker of my husband’s said, “Your life is going to change.”

We thought we were so wise, so prepared. I think that something along the lines of “No shite, Sherlock.” ran through my head after hearing that one. Of course a baby was going to change our lives. What were we, dense that we couldn’t figure that out? But I was reading. I was asking questions. Surely, I was going to be prepared. I wasn’t going into this blindly.

Except, I was. Even if Mr. Your Life is Going To Change had told me about doing many things one-handed, the struggle to eat, shower, or converse with each other, the self-doubt, the worry, the aching love you feel when watching your child sleep – none of these things would have prepared us for the reality of experiencing them with our actual minds and bodies, and not just wearing the easily removable Abstract Parenting Caps of The Oblivious.

You just can’t explain this stuff to someone who isn’t breathing it. It’s no one’s fault. It’s like trying to draw a picture that encompasses love. Or trying to portray what rain smells like with a xylophone. You cannot wrap your brain around the enormity of the task or convey your truth to someone on an alternate wavelength.

So when he came home with “Two is Not One,” I knew we were in for it. There is no amount of mental scheduling or nursery organization or discussion with a 2 year, 9 month old that will prepare any of us for another soul. Another wildcard personality. Another I-can’t-even-fathom what s/he is and will bring to our lives.

I am transported back to hour 19 of my induction, late night, lights off, no contractions, a break from the Pitocin, no one awake but me and the hospital staff that sat lightyears away on the other side of a closed door.  My husband slept soundly on a hospital couch, I watched the TV blinking blue at me and waited for pain to signal progress, and it would not. There was nothing but the limbo between no children and one child, and I started to cry, because I was not.at.all.prepared.

Turns out that what I imagined was far, far worse than the reality of that childbirth experience, and of what being a parent would do to me, and to us. On that day, as with every day since, the blessings far outweighed the struggles.  And when you look at it that way, we should be ok again.

But I really, really wish that well-meaning friend had not said that.

Posted by Duff

Recently, someone was far too complimentary of my parenting skills. With all the recent “True Mom Confession” talk, I thought it only fitting that I call myself out so as not to mislead that woman or anyone else who reads my ramblings.

If you derive your opinion of my patience or attitude from my written words, you have to understand that I have admin rights to my blog and can (and do) edit at will. I have erased entire posts and started from scratch after disapproving of myself.

I have lost my temper more times than I care to admit, and have wondered if I am even cut out to be a parent, selfish as I am.  During The Dervish’s first year, I wanted to go to work more than I wanted to stay home (mostly so I could eat or pee without interruption), I feared weekends and The Dervish’s temper during the majority of them, and I spent more time than I think was healthy planning  hypothetical Dream Days, which consisted of sleeping late, eating food I had time to prepare from scratch while sipping wine and talking with my husband, doing yoga, getting a massage.

I say these things not to hurt The Dervish’s feelings, should she ever read this (as this blog is the closest thing to a baby book I keep with any regularity), because it was not personal.

Over a period of time, my expectations of my day to day have shifted with seismic force. I suppose it’s only natural some of my confidence would tumble off the shelves before my world settled. Somewhat.

I still have to adjust  to the idea of myself as a mother, no longer first priority, with far less time to devote to personal maintenance, let alone interests or relationships other than Mother/Daughter.

If you told me when I was 19 that I would be so caught up in the bathroom habits of a nearly three year old, I would have told you I was never having children.

If you told me when I was 24 that 10 years later I’d be on the cusp of Mother of Two and trying desperately to keep the Lincoln Logs separated from the alphabet blocks, I’d have ordered another bottle of wine, pronto.

Parts of me still feel 19 and 24.  I still want to look good, I still want to feel special. I still want to be spontaneous and date my husband and lie quietly still in the sunshine with an umbrella drink. These feelings didn’t go away and sometimes still create a fault line.

And I can’t fault myself for being honest with myself.  I’ll reserve that guilt for when The Dervish needs therapy.

Posted by Fitz

Dinnertime is getting to be a little stressful at the Fitz residence.  Aside from the 5:00 low energy and hardly being able to wait for Daddy to walk through the door, The Bean and I are now engaged in a delicate dance of who will eat what – when, where, and how.  Unfortunately, she’s leading.

I have never been overly impressed with The Bean’s desire to be nutritionally adventurous, but I didn’t realize that I had it good there for a bit.  She used to eat green beans by the bushel, love her broccoli, enjoy some edamame, and positively go crazy over a sweet potato.  These loves, however, have been tossed aside like yesterday’s news, seemingly never to be touched again.  It’s brutal.

Many a well-meaning friend has said, “Don’t worry about the veggies, Fitz!  As long as she’s eating fruit, she’s good!”  What these lovely moms don’t know is that the only “fruit” that The Bean allows to pass through her little lips are the diced apples that Gerber sells in a jar.  She won’t try the organic bananas, the aromatic mangoes, the juicy cantaloupe, or the sweet blueberries that I buy in enormous quantities in the sheer, misguided hope that she’ll give one a try.  Oh no, unless it’s chopped up with a baby on the jar, forget it.  The Bean knows what she wants, and fruit isn’t it.

Before you tell me to hide the veggies a la Jessica Seinfeld and the woman she supposedly plagiarized, let me tell you: been there, done that.  The Bean took one noodle of the squash-enriched (dare I say DELICIOUS) homemade mac and cheese that I made last weekend and spit it out like I had dipped it in battery acid.  I have made yogurt fruit smoothies, brownies with spinach, and chicken nuggets dipped in cauliflower puree, and the only result is that my husband is heading to work with suspiciously child-like lunches.  She won’t have it, folks.  She knows I’m trying to pull one over on her, and her defiant response is: “NOO NOOS!”

Noo noos are noodles in my house, and on our best day we can do whole wheat.  She wants ’em three times a day, and for snacks.  (I do too, but years of Weight Watchers has taught me that this is not good).  I try to only cave in a couple of times a week, under the guise that sometimes I can grate carrots and stuff into the sauce without her noticing.  Luckily, tomato sauce is still acceptable, but you all know what Heidi Klum says on Project Runway: “One day you’re in, and the next day, you’re OUT”.  It’s just a matter of time, I fear.

I take great solace in the pediatrician’s advice to “ride it out”, “keep trying”, “it’s a normal phase”, and “she’s right on track with her development and health”.  I hope that someday soon, that The Bean lets me lead this particular dance so I can ensure she’s getting the nutrients she needs (and I don’t mean through noo noos).

Posted by Fitz

Mothers are talking.  Honestly.  To large groups of people. 

The media lately has been filled with stories of “real moms” who are “confessing” their true feelings about motherhood.  Just last week, Oprah did it.  New books are being published at the speed of light.  Yesterday, the Today Show even featured a wildly popular YouTube video that shows moms everywhere admitting some of the things they have done in their quest to be successful mothers.

I think you should watch it.  Now.

I have to admit, some of these confessions really surprised me, but I’m trying not to judge.  A common theme in this blog is that women everywhere are challenged, enlightened, and frustrated by motherhood, and that we have to let each woman find her own way and her own definition of success.  I guess that any sort of judgment relating to these confessions (or any others you might see or read) comes from a place of insecurity: “Well, at least I don’t do THAT.”  The more I think about it, though, the more I’ve come to realize that we all have our “that“, and we might not be proud of it, but it gets us through some pretty tough days.  As long as our kids are safe, healthy, and happy, it’s okay.  Or at least that is what we tell ourselves.

Posted by Duff

Oh, Play Doh® , how I love thee.

When I originally bought you for The Dervish, I thought you’d keep her occupied while I made dinner. I had no idea what a parenting facillitator you’d become.

Because of you, Play Doh:

1. The Dervish has been able to illustrate her take on the world, albeit with my help:  “Mommy, would you make a Daddy, please? Daddy needs a bed, and a pillow, and blanket.”

2. I know that it doesn’t matter to The Dervish if family members are the same color Play Doh, as long as every family member has the same color bed, pillow, and blanket.

3. We have been able to teach The Dervish the concept of adding another to our family. After I added a baby to the mix when creating Play Doh family units on more than one occasion,  she began requesting two parents, a Dervish, and a Baby. She asks that The Baby get (her) own bed, (her) own seat at the table, (her) own food. We cannot move on to the next task until The Baby gets what The Baby needs.

 Let’s see what happens if her real sibling turns out to be a boy. But for the time being, progress.

4. I know I can be resourceful. I initially didn’t think I could create a Play Doh table and chairs, but according to The Dervish, I just needed to put my mind to it and be asked many, many, MANY times in succession.

5. It’s apparent that The Dervish is learning table manners. Even if she is not putting them into practice  during ‘real’ meals, The Dervish instructs the Play Doh family to stay in their own seats and eat off their own plates.

6. I understand why parents often say that girls are bossy/direct play, and as we sit together, creating a small universe, I can help mold the beginning constructs of patience (Mommy can only make one thing at a time), creativity (strawberries come in many colors in Play Doh land) and compromise (if we don’t have enough purple, we might have to use green instead, and the world won’t end).

7. I know I can turn my creative limitations into learning opportunities . When The Dervish asked me to construct a hallway, I finally had to admit I couldn’t deliver. And I introduced her (all two years and nine months of her) to the term ‘abstract’.

8.  I may not get dinner made, but I get to have some fantastic times with my daughter.

So thank you, Play Doh.


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