Well, I'm leaving for the night, without the kids. I can hardly believe it! An overnight shopping trip with my girlfriends. I hope John is up for the challenge of two kids. I'm sure he'll be great! I hope he handles the late night feedings, the birthday party, the bathtime with two slippery kiddos. I hope it all goes smoothly for him. But I also, just sort of, hope he feels frustration when both kids start crying at the same time, maybe a little humility when Shelby melts down because she's tired (particularly in a public place). I hope he has a great time with his children this weekend, but I also, just kind of, hope he attempts to do the laundry and keep up with the dishes while providing balanced meals and paying the bills. I am sure he will enjoy his time at home being a full time, uninterrupted daddy, but a little part of me hopes he puts on a freshly washed shirt just before Ana spits up all down the front of it making him late for an appointment. Okay, I'm leaving. Good luck. Can't wait to come home tomorrow! Did I already say good luck? Okay, I'm really leaving. Bye.
We were making the long drive to Paso Robles to visit our new nephew and meet John for lunch when I caught Shelby rubbing her eyes. "Hey pumpkin, you think you want your slinky blanket and try taking a nap on the way?" I mused. Being that my three year old traded in naps for "quiet time" about 6 months ago, I am graced with the pleasure of an actual afternoon nap from her about once a month. But I do try my best to revisit that blissful phase often, when possible. I saw my opening and crossed my fingers in hopes of enjoying an afternoon with a rested toddler. I could almost picture it...the smiles...the avoided tantrums...the happy giggling...She scrunched up her nose and stared out the window for a second while she pondered the proposition. Then she replied in her most teenager like voice, "No Deal, Mom." Only 9 years, 5 months and 6 days to go until she fully mutates into the dreaded "Adolescent Girl". It's moments like these that I am reminded just how quickly that day will arrive. Oh, dear.
It's 2 am and you're whimpering again. I stumble into your room with my eyes closed and wrap myself in frustration as I lean over your crib. Why are you awake, baby? What is it now? Your eyes are squeezed shut and your arms a whir of motion. You wail at the sound of me. I slide you into your favorite position against my chest and you snuggle your fuzzy head into my neck. I rest my cheek on your new skin. Before I know it, frustration gives way to the warmth of your tiny body in my arms, the welling up of emotion in my throat, and my heart swells with joy. We rock to the quick of your beating heart. I try to picture you curled up beneath my skin but I know too well that you have grown beyond the reach of my womb. And before long, you'll be too big for me to pick you up and rock to the sound of your heartbeat. So I set my mind to stopping time for this one quiet moment. To remembering every detail of tonight's starry rendezvous. The smell of your skin, the perfect curve of your red lips, the sound of breath through your button nose, the feel of your fingers wrapped around mine. You're sound asleep again, but I'm still holding you. Just one more minute.
This entry is dedicated to my friend, my promoter, my marketing agent, and my research manager. HOLLY, YOU ROCK. (You can kill me later for using your real name) Not only was it Holly that informed me of the opportunities awaiting frustrated writers like myself on the Internet, but she educated me on the ways of the blog, offered references like dooce.com, the 2008 BLOGGER AWARDS, and emailed me articles about blogging success form the New York Times. Thanks Holly. I hope to return the favor somehow, someday. Maybe that will be the 57% Commission of my gross income you negotiated in the contract I recently signed with you. Everybody needs a buddy. It helps that she's Don King's pale skinned crazy scientist step daughter, complete with a masters in trash talk and a very full head o' hair. Not to mention a bangin' sense of style, an acute appreciation for the mid afternoon cocktail hour, and a knack for driving a hard bargain. Without her, I'd be seeking more retail therapy and soul searching into the wee hours of the morning to find my life's calling. Coming soon to a ring near you, Holly Productions: Momma Says She'll Knock You Out. Thanks.
The Story: I stood in the checkout line with a fussy baby in my arms, my purse slipping down my arm, (yes, my hair was once again in my face) making a half hearted attempt to unload my cart one-handed onto the conveyor belt. "Can I help you?" smiled a teen aged girl with electric purple hair and four facial piercings. She had come around from her post as bag girl near the register, to help me move items from Point Impossible to Barely Reachable. Phew, I'm so glad some people recognize how cumbersome motherhood can really be. "No thanks, that's okay. I got it." I heard myself reply. WHAT?! She stood there for a second with idle hands and her mouth ajar. I looked into the cart at the 57 more canned and boxed goods I still had to one hand out of the cart. Not to mention the 12 pack of beer on the bottom rack. We all know where that will lead. She stood there for a moment weighing her options: Should I stay and help or should I return to my post on the opposite end of the checkout stand and leave this helpless and no doubt, stupid, woman here to unload all her shit on by herself? I watched her reach into the cart as she said, "Well, I'm here, so I don't mind helping you anyway." I am such an idiot! When will I learn to accept help, to just say "Thanks" and allow someone to lend a helping hand?! It's like I have a genetic flaw that is labeled "Avoid Imposition At All Cost, You are not Worthy of Someone's Time". I would sooner crush someone's philanthropic effort before I ever got over the fact that I interrupted their personal agenda to do something for me. MORON!
The Moral: Listen, Pause, THINK, then accept the offer. Graciously. ALWAYS. When will I learn?
Breastfeeding Ana has been like venturing into uncharted waters for me. With my first baby, Shelby, I spent 4 long, agonizing months attempting to enjoy this "beautiful, natural experience" that made me cry at every feeding and grind my teeth until she had gotten her fill. From the hormones to the latching on, my first attempts at breastfeeding resulted in little milk and lots of frustration. My second child latched on the second after she took her first breath in the delivery room. We've never looked back since that first "beautiful, natural experience" I finally had with Ana. When Ana reached 6 months we haphazardly approached the science of feeding her solids. It has been hit and miss, rice cereal, a few cheerios, a Ritz cracker at a party, certainly not anywhere near the amount of effort, research and time we put into our first child's introduction to food. Ana is now 7 and a half months old (that would be 30 weeks for you truly attentive mothers) and mowing the food like nobody's business. She demands her regular rice cereal for breakfast, the occasional jar of fruit (I haven't taken the time to blend it up myself...yet) or a teething biscuit while we eat our lunch, and then a montage of grabable items for dinner and a half jar of vegetable mash. This has gone on for about two weeks and for the last 12 days or so she has slept until midnight every night. And then the entire household is awake every hour or two because she's squawking and refuses to return to sleep. I finally gave in to sleeping with her in our bed the last few nights, where she attached herself to my right nipple and refused to let go in exchange for peace and quiet. FINE! Well, now that I have accepted my new position as Lead Zombie, I've begun exploring the reasons behind this horrible sleep regiment. Was it gas? Teething? Could it be congestion? Allergies? And then, I looked down at my milk machines (way down there), and I realized they had sunk to an all time low, those perky pillows of Ana's early milk months were now just wrinkled flapjacks offering little more than a couple of elasticized nipples. Where'd all the milk go? No wonder we're not getting any sleep, momma's milk has gone a missin'! Auuughhh! Shortly thereafter, I found myself wandering the grocery store aisles in search of a suitable supplement. Boy oh boy have the formula choices changed since Shelby was a baby! Three years ago there were 3 choices of formula, Enfamil for the price of an arm and a leg, Similac for the price of an arm and a leg, and the Generic for the price of an arm and maybe your baby would grow an extra leg. I stood there with my mouth open reading all the fine print on each jar advertising things like "For Brain Development" or 100% Organic (Do I have to choose between a baby with a brain or a "Green" idiot?), "For Babies with Gas and Fussiness" (Doesn't everyone have that? Not only is my baby, so am I!). I closed my eyes and left Ana's dire future of intellect and political good fortune up to chance. Bingo, Similac Lactose-Free for reduced Gas & Fussiness. Perfect. Well, last night she powered 4 oz. before her usual dinner and then sucked down her evening mommy milk, and we all slept for at least 4 hours before she powered another 3 ouncer to sleep out the rest of the morning until 7! And my nipples didn't feel like they'd been through a meat grinder! Amen! This may be the official changing of the guard for me and Ana. These little pancakes may have met their match. My beautiful experience may be coming to a close as I come to grips with my solution to Ana's growing demands. But I've weighed my options and analyzed the outcome, I have chosen to sacrifice perky boobs with chewed up nipples attached to a half sane, sleep-deprived body for $30 formula, a well nourished baby, and rest. So long breastfeeding, hello sanity.
There comes a time in every child's life when they begin to explore their own bodies, discover various orifices of interest, and subsequently revisit the aforementioned crevices at the worst possible times. Shelby's most recently mastered the art of picking her nose. She does it when it's snotty, when we're at a nice restaurant, when she poses for a picture and when she's bored. When I catch her "digging for gold" I will ask her to stop picking her nose. Her dad tells her that if she keeps it up a sharp-toothed snail will bite off her finger. Neither approach has deterred her from continuing to practice her new habit. Most recently she will plunge her little finger into her nostril and as soon as I make eye contact with her she'll duck behind her sippy cup or look away until she's satisfied her endeavor. As long as she can't see me, toddler invisibility rules still apply and technically, I can't see her, right? Today, we were sitting on her bed while I changed Ana's diaper and when I looked up, Shelby was inspecting a gigantic brown booger perched on the tip of her finger. Before I could react, she looked at me and smiled, "Mommy, can I eat it?"
John and I had agreed to each take one child for the afternoon while we attempted to accomplish something. He and Shelby stayed home to tape off some painting work while Ana and I headed to the hardware store and then to buy groceries. There's something to be said about appreciating the little things in life. Like silence in my car on a sunny day. Having a few extra minutes to peruse the nursery because my toddler isn't there to throw rocks in the fountains and pick the flowers off the display plants. Pushing a regular cart at the grocery store instead of that ginormous plastic firetruck cart Shelby insists on "driving" through the store. Have you seen those things? You need a Class F License and Popeye Forearms to steer that thing! Ugh. I arrived home relaxed, happy, and ready to face the rest of my afternoon. I pulled the baby in her infant carseat out and then slid the eighteen plastic bags onto my wrist. Why do they do that, by the way? It's no secret plastic bags are harmful to the environment. Why can't these baggers condense? Is it a crime? I really don't care that my bar soap is mixed in with my canned goods. Like my refried beans are really going to take on a hint of Shower Fresh! Anyway, as I was saying, I slid the eighteen bags onto my wrist and grabbed the 12pack of beer with my last two free fingers. Making my way towards the front door I took a mental picture of myself: Hunched under the weight of my child in her awkward handled seat on one side, the mound of plastic bags swaying against my opposite knee, a twelve pack, once again, precariously hung from my curled fingers. And so, I said aloud, "Oh yeah, I AM SUPERWOMAN." No sooner was the last word uttered from my lips than the carseat caught an edge of the house, causing my left side to jerk backward, while my right wildly circled around, piles of plastic bags swinging dangerously close to my head and then I felt the box rip, slip, and crash to the concrete. DAMN! Broken glass, foaming beer and torn cardboard. Just my luck. Once again, beer and babies do not mix. When will I learn?!