My little man is 10 months old today.

How?

He’s so amazing. As much as I want to hold on tight, it is so much fun watching him grow.

Eating is becoming so much fun! He’s quickly developing more of an appetite for “people food” (haha, sorry, I’m a dog person and that phrase keeps slipping out when I talk about solid foods!). This evening he cleared his plate! This is a positive step, considering how much he just didn’t care about them for awhile. He really likes to feed himself, so it’s nice now that he can eat finger foods. As a result, he’s more willing to try new things, even if it comes on a spoon.

He’s becoming more of a challenge, of course. He’s been such an easy baby. But now he’s coming into his own, and is letting me know what he wants and when he wants it. It can be frustrating, but I like his spunk. He is so much fun and I love that he has such a sweet and silly personality.

In his grandma’s lap.


In other news… it’s amazing how much your friends can rejuvenate you.

I don’t get to see my friends often enough, especially my “old” friends. I am very fortunate to have made a new mommy friend. Someone who really seems to GET IT and it’s nice to have someone like her to hang out with and talk to. It’s nice to have a friend with a similar parenting style. It’s nice that our kids can play together.

I am lucky, though, because I also have a few good female friendships that I’ve maintained over the years. I’ve been friends with one of them since we were in the 1st grade (that’s over 20 years, yo!), another from 6th grade, and another since high school.

Anyhow, one of those women now lives in Hawaii and is brilliant and working on her Master’s and doing lots of research and doing incredible things like speaking at symposiums. She is in town this week, and last night the four of us gals got together for a long-overdue dinner with plenty of wine.

We are all at very different places in our lives. We might not always understand what another is feeling or going through, but we’re there for each other. We try. Sometimes we need to try harder, and make more of an effort to connect and see each other. But there’s something to be said about decades of friendship, and still being able to talk like we did when we were 18 years old.

I’m starting to feel like that area of my life is striking a better balance. I really appreciate these people, new and old. It can be hard juggling motherhood and being a wife and running a household and maintaining relationships and taking care of yourself… but there are days when you smile and sigh and know that you’re doing something right, in at least one of those areas.

Today I Am Thankful

April 10, 2011

I woke up today between my husband and my son. As a family, with both dogs, we came downstairs to start the day.

Today, my husband and I will have coffee together. We will argue about ordinary things. We will tease each other, and tell inside jokes, and fight over the remote control and who has to cook dinner this evening. Tonight, we will tuck our son into bed, together, and we will kiss each other goodnight.

And, for that, I am thankful.

Last night, a friend of my sister’s (and her husband’s) died unexpectedly. He was in his early 30s. He had two children (ages seven and nine), and a wife.

Today, his wife had to wake up without him there. And so did his children.

And they will never again argue over ordinary things, or tease each other, or tell inside jokes, or fight over the remote control, or who cooks dinner, or tuck their children into bed together, or kiss each other goodnight.

Those children will have to grow up without a father… they’ll never again high-five him after winning a game, or hug him on Christmas morning, or sit around the table and talk about their days. They won’t get to argue with him over who they date, or curfew, or why they can’t get the car they want. He won’t be there when they walk across stage and receive their diplomas. He won’t proudly take pictures of his children, all dressed up, as they scurry off to prom. He won’t be there to walk his daughter down the aisle. Their mother will be there, of course, and I can’t help but think about how all of those moments will be a constant reminder of what isn’t there, and how she has to do all those things without him.

I called my sister right away this morning, to check on her. She’s a wreck; last night they went to be with his wife, and I think today it is all really sinking in. I had met this family a few times, at birthday parties and BBQs, but I don’t know them. So, for the second time this week, I am left reeling by the loss of strangers. I cannot wrap my head around it. I don’t know how you tell your children that their daddy is gone. I don’t know how you can possibly move on from something like this. I don’t ever, ever want to know what it feels like to look at an empty pillow next to mine, and know he’s never coming back. I don’t want to know how strong you have to pretend to be because you don’t want your children to crumble.

So, instead, today I will focus on being thankful for what I do have. Because damn, it can be taken away from you just like that. Today I will kiss more, hug harder, fight less, and be nicer. We only have today.

Loss

April 3, 2011

Are you ever caught off guard by something… overwhelmed by the emotions of something unexpected?

Earlier this week I heard about someone who had died. I didn’t hear a name, just that she was 27 and had a 5 month old. I remember thinking how sad that was, how hard it must be to pick up the pieces after something like that happens.

But then today, I read the obituary. I saw her picture. It was someone who went to my high school and graduated just a year ahead of me. Someone I didn’t know but who was familiar to me; someone I knew but didn’t know. I read the summary of her life and what she was like, the legacy she left to those who loved her. She reminded me, in ways, of myself. Like I could relate to this woman somehow. Yet, if we had passed each other on the street a few weeks ago, we may have smiled politely but that’s all.

I fought back tears reading it. She had a baby. Can you imagine? That poor baby, that poor husband. I look inward, to my own family… and I can’t. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m the glue that holds our family together. Most mothers and wives are. How would they move on? How does anyone?

So here I am today, keeping her and her family in my thoughts, even though we don’t know each other. Because damn. DAMN.

This year has been really tough when it comes to death and illness. Too many people we do know. Our brother-in-law lost his mother and his sister in the last month. It’s been less than a year since my husband lost his brother. One of our friends just lost his father. There are too many others to mention. Is it always like this? Are we just getting older and this is something that is going to become all too familiar? Or is this just a bad streak of luck, of health?

Last night, as I sipped a glass of wine in the late hours of my quiet living room, I watched my elderly dog. She was up and down, up and down. Couldn’t get comfortable. I didn’t know what was wrong… was it serious? Was she just achey? Does she know something we don’t? I sat down on the floor with her and did my best to comfort her, to share with her my love and strength. Right now she is sleeping by my feet. She looks sadder today than she has in a long time. Is it just the change in weather? My biggest hope is that she will stay with us, make it at least a few more months so she can lay outside in the hot sun and sniff the summer air. I want her to remember how that feels.

It is April. A month of renewal. A month where we say goodbye to winter (at least up north) and welcome the early signs of spring. The rain, the grey. The cold but not quite frigid weather. And, if we’re lucky, patches of green grass and a sparse scattering of flowers, a hint of sunshine and a bit of warmth. Dry patches on the otherwise wet sidewalks.

Today, however, it is snowing. I know a lot of people are complaining but I’m not. Snow in April never bothers me for some reason. I know it won’t stick around. I’m feeling very, very ready for spring and summer. But I can’t help but smile and give Old Man Winter a nod, and admire his ability to try to hang on tight before losing out to the warmth and the life. He eventually loses out, of course, and must let go to allow the rest of us the ability to move on.

But we all know that’s never easy, letting go and saying farewell. Moving on.

Mom Friends?

January 25, 2011

Do you have a lot of other mom friends?

I don’t. And that makes it a bit tough sometimes.

Being a stay at home mom can be very isolating. My two best friends are wonderful and I love them so much… but they don’t have children, and I think it can be hard for them to understand what it’s like for me. I certainly didn’t understand my sister and her frustrations and worries and stress until I had a child of my own.

There’s a weekly infant playgroup that started up this month. I have only been able to make it to one of them. I was sick last week. Today, I got myself all ready and was really looking forward to getting out of the house and talking to the other moms. But then G started to fight his morning nap, and he was almost asleep but the neighbor’s dog started to bark at something, and so that caught G’s attention, and then he entered that obnoxious overtired, hyper, silly state and stayed awake for an additional hour. I wasn’t going to drag him to the playgroup, only to have him be tired and cranky.

So we stayed home. Again. Cabin fever is setting in for me and I just want spring to get here. I’m sick of being cooped up.

And today, I am feeling disappointed. Not in G. It isn’t his fault. But it’s still frustrating and disappointing when you have your heart set on something so simple as going to a playgroup, and you can’t even do that. There was a mom there that I started talking to the last time (two weeks ago), and I don’t remember her name so I can’t even try to contact her on facebook. But it felt like we maybe had some stuff in common, and I was going to show her my cloth diapers (she is thinking about converting) and let her try on my Ergo (because she was thinking about ordering one). But then I just don’t show up for two weeks in a row. Ugh.

And then I talked to my husband on the phone, and we got into a stupid fight, and it’s not even noon and I just want this day to be over with. A day I had really been looking forward to.

Sorry to complain. But apparently I can’t to my husband, so…

Back to the original question. Do you have a lot of mom friends? Do you feel isolated as a mother?

One of those weeks

January 15, 2011

I remember reading something once… I forget where, perhaps on a t-shirt or mug or some other thing trying to be funny and clever.

It said something like, “I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow isn’t looking good, either.”

I feel like that’s my motto this week. We need little blips that pop up over our heads as we walk around, alerting others to our moods. Like a facebook status, but away from the computer.

G hasn’t been feeling well for the past few days. We’ve hardly slept the last two nights. He’s been cranky and demanding and most of my attention has been on him. It’s frustrating, but at the same time all I want to do is cuddle with him and make him feel better in any way possible.

Anyhow, this is causing me to be impatient with everyone but him. I snapped at my mom yesterday. I’ve been cranky with my husband. It is being combined with one of those times where I feel like everything is on my shoulders and I’m stressed about other LIFE ISSUES and it all adds up and the weight on my shoulders gets heavier and heavier, and my Wonder Woman/do it all persona takes a flying leap and lands flat on her face.

Oy. So now I’m drinking my latte and listening to my husband sing silly songs to our son while he rocks him, and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll feel better if I keep busy and clean or organize or something. I think I’ll start with our Christmas tree. Yes, it’s still up. Don’t judge. I took the ornaments off last night but it still needs to be taken down. I think I need to erase all signs of Christmas (cards, decorations, stockings, gifts, etc.).

It’s hard, though, when the only thing G wants–even if he fusses and cries and arches his back–is his mommy.

Goodbye, 2010

December 30, 2010

Or is it “so long”?

2010 was the most life-changing year I’ve ever had. I had a child. I can’t think of anything that can top that. What else can affect you the way having a baby does?

A few days ago I took down our 2010 calendar to make room for the new one. Before tossing it into the recycling bin, I decided to flip through it. “Ultrasound @ 8:30.” “Prenatal appt. @ 11:15.” “Doula tea @ 1:00.” Birthdays. Spaghetti benefits. Vet appointments. The mundane mixed with the extraordinary.

Most of 2010 was good. Amazing, really. I spent the first six and a half months growing a baby inside of me. I spent the last five and a half months nurturing my son and figuring out this motherhood stuff; it’s a job I never realized I wanted so much, or could be so good at. I feel so LUCKY. I have such a beautiful, healthy, happy little boy. And I get to spend each and every day with him. I am exhausted, but it’s the best exhausted you could ever be.

But this year was more than just being pregnant and having a baby. We celebrated the lives of our friends and family. We surrounded ourselves with love. We also lost my husband’s brother.

I’m not very familiar with death. I’ve only lost two people that were close to me, but I was younger and it didn’t hit me as hard. When we lost my brother-in-law, I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know how to handle my husband. I felt like everything I said was the wrong thing. I used to spend a lot of time on livejournal, and this is what I wrote that day:

J’s brother died in the middle of the night.

We got a call very early this morning.

I can’t believe how suddenly this all happened. What do you even say?

We cuddled in bed for a long time. I had my arm around him and the baby kept kicking him the back. The gap between life and death can be very short sometimes.

I still don’t know what to do. I keep trying to make it better in the irrelevant ways I know how (“Do you want me to make you breakfast? I can make pancakes. I’ll put blueberries in them…”). He doesn’t even like pancakes. He’s doing pretty good, though. Mostly just worried about his family.

It was an odd balance. Sadness and mixed emotions and unspoken words. I won’t get into details about that, but I think (in many ways) it can be harder to lose someone who you have a rocky relationship with than someone you are close to. It was strange because it happened in the middle of such a happy time in our lives, as we awaited the arrival of our child. I remember feeling our baby kick and move around inside me during the more difficult moments. It kept me grounded. It was like he knew when I most needed comfort, a gentle reminder that everything would be okay. And it was. We made it through it. It challenged our marriage and what we knew about family and life, but it also made us stronger.

And, less than two months later, our son was born. Just like that, we were parents.

It is with mixed feelings that I bid farewell to 2010. Thank you. I will be forever changed in so many ways by this eventful year.

It’s time to welcome 2011. We are lucky enough to tiptoe, peacefully, into the new year. I love the feeling of a new year. A fresh start, in a way. Cautious optimism. “Resolutions.” Goals. Things to look forward to.

Was 2010 good to you? Did anything major happen?

Can you believe that Christmas came and went in a blink?

It was amazing. Simple as that. G is beyond spoiled and I’m still sorting through his new toys and clothes.

J got me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, something I’ve been wanting FOREVER. (Feel free to send recipes my way. First thing I’m making, probably tomorrow, will be wheat beer bread.)

More importantly, though, we spent three whole days with friends and family. It was truly wonderful and we are very blessed. Nothing is more important than laughter and love with those you cherish most.

AND! G cut his first tooth on Christmas Eve, then a second one just a few days later. He has two teeth! (Stop growing!) TWO FRONT TEETH. OMG JUST LIKE THE SONG.

J has this whole week off of work, which is nice. We may go on a date tomorrow night, if my mom is available to babysit. It’s been a very long time since the two of us have done anything together, just the two of us. We’re thinking about going to a movie; Black Swan looks good.

Finally, I’m watching Toddlers & Tiaras. omfg. lkdjsflksjdf. I don’t know what else to say. And I can’t look away, it’s like a car wreck.

Trying to weed through all the “rights” and “wrongs” sure is fun as a new mother.

What bad, unhelpful, or other advice have you dealt with before? Has anyone been pushy about it?

I follow a lot of the “attachment parenting” ideas (we co-sleep, breastfeed, babywear, etc.). I’ve gotten a lot of advice about letting my son cry it out, how I should give him baby cereal in a bottle so he’ll sleep through the night, and how he doesn’t need to breastfeed much longer. I frequently have people tell me that I’m spoiling my son, who is not even 5 months old, because I use a baby carrier or hold him a lot (I must say I get a ton of positive comments when I wear him out in public, though I imagine that may change as he gets older). People roll their eyes at my son’s amber teething necklace. Some people think I’m crazy for cloth diapering; my mom, sister, and grandma think it’s cool, but I’m pretty sure most of my family think I’m coo-coo for doing it.

Pretty much anytime I do something that isn’t the most convenient option for me or other people (my baby excluded) then I get some sort of unsolicited advice or a tisk-tisk from somebody.

Luckily, I am growing some thick skin and am getting better at standing up for myself. That was an aspect of motherhood that I didn’t expect: I am more confident in dealing with other people. I try to be polite, but I went from being someone who was fairly timid in public to someone who feels like I could go off on a total stranger if they say something rude to me. I’m firmer in dealing with my family. Sometimes I brush things off, but other times I stand my ground and speak up.

I’m proud of myself for following my instincts as a mother. I listen to advice and then I roll it around in my head for awhile before I take it (or not). I have good instincts. My son is happy and healthy and I know I’m doing a good job with him. But it can take courage to stand up for my decisions, especially when someone is being pushy about it. I try not to adopt a “holier than thou” attitude about these choices (and hey, I’m not perfect and I still have a lot to learn, and different things work for different people). But when it comes down to it, sometimes you just have to say, “Thanks for your concern, but this is what is best for my family.” And, if I’m struggling with an issue, I try not to be too bull-headed and am learning to ask for input or advice when I need it.

How do you deal with criticism about your parenting style? I’d love to hear from other parents on this one.

For me, it really depends on the parenting issue and who is criticizing or questioning me. What has helped me is to remain calm and remember WHY it is that I’m making these choices… strong convictions help me stay firm, back myself up, and respond properly.

Sometimes I respond with humor and sarcasm. “Are you going to carry him in that thing forever?” “Yes, I can’t wait to bring him to his dorm room in this.”

Sometimes I use my doctor, especially with health-related matters. “No, he’s not starting solids yet. My doctor and I have discussed this and we both feel it’s in his best interest to wait.” Bringing your child’s doctor into the picture can sometimes shut up someone who is a know-it-all and won’t stop pressing the issue. Perhaps it assures them that you have a professional overseeing your parenting, to make sure you don’t mess up your child?

Sometimes, I just have to be firm. “I make choices based on what I think is right for him and our family, not what is easiest and most convenient for me.” (Though sometimes I think people are a little nutty for thinking that some of my choices are more difficult… wearing my son while we shop, for example, is sooooo much easier for me under most circumstances, and has prevented more than one meltdown. And co-sleeping when you’re breastfeeding? Or with a teething baby? I get so much more sleep this way!)

Sometimes I just skirt the issue. “I appreciate your input but I’m his mother and you have to trust me that I’m making the right choice.”

Sometimes I use statistics or try to educate. “Actually, cloth diapering has come a long way and it’s so much easier than I ever imagined. Not only that, but I don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on something that gets thrown away. Here, let me show your our diapers…” or “Actually, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children breastfeed for at least one year, and the World Health Organization recommends two.” Things like that… it helps to know a few random statistics or use reputable sources that you can back yourself up with. I’ve had a few people argue with me about putting babies to sleep on their backs (because they might spit up and choke, and they were told to put their children on their bellies when they were babies) and they were really surprised when I told them that, following the “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s, the incidence of SIDS has been reduced by over 50%.

And, sometimes, I listen to the advice and wonder if maybe they are right and I am wrong. Or, at least consider the advice and figure out whether it’s worth trying. We can learn things from other mothers. We can learn things from other fathers. We can learn things from people that do things differently than we do, even if sometimes we learn what it is that we don’t want to do.

So, yeah. Sometimes I just want to tell people to STFU, but other times I think it’s better to educate or explain more seriously in order to give my choices more credibility and to help people understand why I make certain decisions. It really depends on the situation, though I won’t be surprised if some day a stranger says something to me when I’m already cranky and I tell them that I never asked for their @#*$ing opinion. In the end, I keep in mind that it’s just one person’s opinion, and what really matters is that I’m doing the best thing for my son based on our own family’s values and what’s best for us.

Thanksgiving

November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚

Last year on Thanksgiving, I knew I was pregnant but we hadn’t shared it with anyone yet. Well, other than my best friend (since first grade), who I told before my husband even knew… he was out of town and I had to tell SOMEONE about it.

I was battling my “morning” sickness and trying to play off the fact that I wasn’t drinking, even though I was quite the social drinker and had at least a few glasses of wine or a couple cocktails at any family gathering.

We told people about two weeks later, after my first doctor appointment. But boy was that a tough Thanksgiving! I had so much to be thankful for but I hate hiding things.

We had a wonderful first REAL Thanksgiving with G today.

Hanging out with Grandma… his shirt says, “My Grandma Makes the Best Turkey” πŸ™‚

I love my family. I am really lucky. My husband is actually still hanging out with my family… he’s staying up with them for awhile, playing cards and having a good time, before he braves the crowds with my aunt at 3am (is he freaking crazy?! lol).

I, on the other hand, opted to stay up late and take advantage of some of the internet sales going on, starting at midnight. While watching Roseanne. J gave me the go-ahead to order some cloth diapering stuff that I wanted for G. Not that we really need anything else, but I find it fun and we’re still saving money by not buying all those disposables each month… anything that makes changing diapers more fun should definitely be encouraged. Right? Right.

Anyhow, I scored some great deals and I’m hoping I get some of the free diapers or diapering accessories that are being given away. I already know I have a few free things coming to me, the rest is the luck of the draw. I’m currently waiting for theΒ Rockin’ Green website to come back up… I guess a LOT of other eager CDers wanted to take advantage of their sale, too. I love their detergent (a review and giveaway will be coming up in the near future) and am excited to stock up on it for a great price.

I used to get this excited over sales on designer bags. What happened? If you had told me a couple of years ago that I’d be stalking cloth diaper sales and trying to buy diaper detergent at 2am on Black (or “Green”) Friday, I’d have said you were nuts! πŸ˜‰