Saturday, August 19, 2017

Two.

A letter to my two year old.

I read somewhere once that having a child is a little like learning to live with your heart outside your body. It is so poignantly, excruciatingly true.

So’s this.

Having a child — in particular a toddler — is a little like having a stalker. But instead of getting a restraining order and some therapy and getting on with it, you have to literally keep it alive. Literally. Your stalker’s life depends on you, and every time you tell yourself, “That's it, I’m not enabling this co-dependent nonsense for another second,” your stalker does something life-threatening (launching himself face first off a scooter, for example, or trying to climb over the second-story railing at the top of the stairs) just to reel you back in.

It’s intense, being the center of someone’s relentless attention. I’m sorry for pressuring you for so long to say mama. Jay counted once recently and you hit 1,472 moms by about 8:45. AM. You actually aren’t contractually obligated to begin every sentence with “mommy,” are you aware? Especially when all that follows is “baseball.” Or “quack quack.” Or “somethingunintelligible.” Please, dear god, stop. (Never stop, though.) Or at least tell your dad something every once in a while.

Still a noodle. My prince. Our punk. You are fearless and funny. How’d you learn to be so funny already? You’re a tester and a studier and a talker. You demand pizza (“eeya!”) and have inexplicably strong opinions on things like: whether the lights should be on or off. Whether the front door should be open or closed. When you should be outside and when you should come in the house. (Never. You never want to be in the house. Ever.) You’re fascinated by goose poop and shoes, anyone’s, and you adore your cats and grandparents and big brother. You’re an incurable flirt (just ask your babysitters) and an avid sports fan.

You are every ordinary two-year-old milestone and checked-off growth chart. But to me, you are exceptional. You are extraordinary. And you are, with your scabby knees and strawberry jam-smeared hair, my heart. Out there for the world to see and appreciate. And trip.

How I love you Emmett James.


Monday, August 22, 2016

One.

[for those of you wondering where i've been and why i haven't been writing, i'm sorry. i would like to tell you that for the past year my priorities were shifted and all my creative energy has gone into raising my child, but the truth is, i've had no creative energy. i've had no energy of any kind. there's a reason people don't do this when they're forty. it's exhausting. this is the first time i've strung more than two (hopefully) coherent sentences together. we'll see if it lasts. if not - i promise there will be a "two" same time next year. it's the best i can offer.]

A letter to my one year old.

We’ve shared a lot over the past year – watching you learn, take in, ingest (literally, in the case of a few pieces of dog food and a bunch of leaves), the world around you. Your insatiable curiosity will undoubtedly be the death of me, and I will do my best not to stifle it out of my own fears.

There are a few things I’ve said to you this past year, in the heat of the proverbial (hormonal) moment, that I feel I should take some time to clarify. No more sugar-coating for you, kid. It’s time you hear it from me straight, and get a few things straightened out in that oddly perfectly round head of yours.

      “You are my everything.”
You are not my everything. God, could you imagine? What a bad mom I’d be. What a boring person. I existed for forty years and thirteen days before you breathed your first gorgeous breath. My everything is made up of a million connections and past loves and learning myself and all the people who came before you and after you. What’s true is that, when you came, my everything got better. So  no, baby boy, you are not my everything. You are the thing that makes everything more meaningful, makes everything make sense. And I’m so grateful to you for that.

      “You are the love of my life.”
This is actually a weird thing to say to a baby, and so I apologize for making it weird. I get pretty caught up in you sometimes. But, in the spirit of being PC, I should probably let you know that your dad is technically the love of my life, in the true sense of the expression. I hope that he and I are already showing you what life-level love looks like, in the way we treat one another and, by extension, you and your brother. I hope you find your own life love, after lots of at-this-time-in-my-life loves. I hope you love well. It’s the best. And I hope you’re one of those little boys who says he wants to marry his mom, but not one of those grown men who says his mom is his best friend. We’ll figure out where the line is and make sure we don’t cross it.

      “You are perfect.”
Ridiculous. You poop your pants and bump into walls and call me dada. But you’re about as close to it as anyone I’ve ever met, so you’ve got that going for you.

      “You’re my favorite person.”
Okay, this one is true some of the time. Probably a lot of the time. And the rest of the time you’re a little shit and I’m not as sad as I pretend to be when I have to leave for work in the morning.

      “I miss you.”
Yes, yes I do understand that’s an odd thing to say to someone who’s right in front of you. Climbing on you, oftentimes. Curled into you having a bottle and a story, having a moment. What I mean is, with each day that you grow, the baby I have learned to love slips a little further away. And I miss that baby, especially because he’ll be my only one. But the good news is, with each day that you grow, you become more and more a person I can’t get enough of. A person I long to spend time with and be around. So I’ll keep missing the you that was here yesterday, even as I keep falling in love with the you that you become.

      “I want to chew on you.”
This one is actually true. I read something once, I think, although it might’ve been something I wrote myself so I’m not sure if that counts, that scientifically people get aggressive around aggressively cute things. Or something like that. But I do want to chew on you sometimes because you are that aggressively cute. My friend’s sister saw a baby so cute she wanted to punch it. So it could be worse.

This could go on and on. I say a lot of nutty stuff. But I think you get the idea. Sometimes I speak in hyperbole, sometimes I exaggerate, and sometimes I outright lie. That is your mother. I say what I think in the moment that I think it, even if in the next moment I have to try and take it back because it turns out once I said it I realized I didn’t actually mean it. I say how I feel. It drives some people crazy. I don’t care. I hope you grow into a person who can say how he feels. I hope you get that from me.

One whole year we’ve made it through. We’ve done pretty well so far – it’s been a hell of a trip. Bear with me, kid. I’m learning right along with you. Sorry for saying weird stuff, and I promise to try and clean up my act before you can actually understand me. Oh Noodle. How I look forward to what’s next. How I appreciate who you are, and who you are becoming. 

How I love you Emmett James.
Mom. (Mom. Mama. Mamamamama. Why is that so hard for you to say dammit.)


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Darling Baby Whatshisname.

My kid is ten weeks old today.
And he has no idea what his name is.
Now, I know a ten-week-old baby isn't really supposed to know his name yet. But the problem is, my fear is, he never will.
Because I never, never, never call him by his name.
The irony behind this is how much slaving and arguing and begging and negotiating and waffling and soul searching goes into picking a name for your baby. It is a huge responsibility. It's daunting as hell. And, apparently, it's pointless.
Hubby and I hadn't told anyone what name we'd chosen for our son, partly because we liked having a little something just for us and mostly because I was pretty sure I would change my mind. So out he came, and named he was, and there was much fanfare and announcing. And that was that - the last time we addressed him formally.
Below, a woefully incomplete list of names I've used to address/describe/label/judge the little guy since laboring over, choosing, and christening him with the perfect name:
Baby.
(Original. Funny enough, this is still what he gets called most. Hopefully it'll never occur to him to mind, and no one will ever put him in a corner?)
Norbert.
(His grandparents gave him this one early on in the pregnancy. So there's a little insight into the genes he'll have to contend with.)
Little Man. 
Nugget. 
Noodle.
(He was almost 22 inches when he was pulled - and pulled, and pulled - from my midsection. Like giving birth to a garden hose.)
Chief Tiny Flying Fists.
The Nipple Hater. 
Love Bug. 
The Sphinx.
(This one will only resonate with those of you on my level of nerdiness. Remember The NeverEnding Story? Remember the sphinxes Bastian had to pass? Remember how they killed people with their eyes? Here's a refresher: Those caught between their gaze are frozen on the spot and doomed to remain until they solve every riddle in the world, or until they die. That is how I feel when his eyes begin to open and I don't know what he wants and I am afraid of him.)
Otter.
(There are two origins here, if that's possible. One is the movie I think helped me choose his name when I was a little girl. The other is the movie that my dad thinks helped me choose his name when I was a little girl.)
Bugga. 
(Short for Buggaboo.)
Lil brudder. 
Toots McGee.
Babaloo.
Whitey Bulger.
(There was an unfortunate hairline issue. We're getting past it. Slowly.)
Guppie. 
Freddie.
(As in Krueger. Those nails are deadly.)
Little Prince.
Antoine.
Shir Shits-a-Lot.
Cooper/Jason/Max/Oliver.
TBDBITL.
(The Best Damn Baby in the Land.)
Ninja Pants. 
Muppet. 
Moppet.
Munchin.
Monchichi.
Mohammed Ali.
(Those aren't speed bags, kid. Stop punching me.)
Hippo.
(As in Hungry Hungry.)

And on that note, its eyes are opening. It's hungry. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Milestones.

Tomorrow, baby hits the three-week mark. It's been a busy three weeks. We've had a few setbacks - fickle kid hates having a dirty diaper only almost as much as he hates having his diaper changed. It's a conundrum. A really loud, shrieking conundrum. But we've also had some bona fide victories, and it's those I'd like to focus on now. You know, keep things positive and remind the world that I have the cutest damn baby pretty much of all time.

Days 0-21:
I have regrown ankle bones and veins in my feet. I know some of you may contend they were really there all along, but I'm telling you, there's no way. Those sausages were completely void of shape and contour. They were poppably puffy. Now, they look like my usual misshapen feet. (I know - it's a surprise that I'm celebrating the return of my feet. Let's not forget, it's these damn things that got me pregnant in the first place.)

I am no longer wearing Depends. This is probably more a victory for my husband than for me. Those things, while incomprehensibly big and undisputedly horrible, were wonderful. So much cheaper than Victoria's Secret, and never once did they sneak up into a crevice where they didn't belong. Something in my brain - and behind - completely rejected sexy drawers somewhere around month six of pregnancy. Literally, my crack actively rejected them. Kicked them straight out. Depends, on the other hand, were received like a warm, welcome hug from a beloved family member. I will miss them.

I can pull my knees straight up to my chest. I used to love curling up in a little ball. And reaching my calves when I shaved my legs. And tying my shoes. All those things went by the wayside when I had to start froglegging just to put pants on. But I'm back in alignment, and sometimes I just walk around in a half-march, because I can. I can.

I have recently uttered those seven words every A-cupper longs to say: "I think I need a bigger bra." Jay was so overcome with emotion he couldn't respond right away. I almost took advantage of the good mood and asked for another package of Depends. But I'm a really good wife so I just let it be about the boobs. Which leads me to...

...the God-given blessing known as the milk boob. They're so great. That's all I really even need to say about that.

(What? Sorry? Hold on a sec.)

Okay, I have just been informed that when people inquire about "milestones" and a baby, they actually mean the baby's milestones. Um, okay then. Whatever. Let's see how that goes.

This might make me sound like a really bad/selfish mom, but you guys, he's three weeks old. What exactly do you think he's accomplished at this point? Because I hate to disappoint you, but it's pretty much nothing.

His cord thing fell off. Which is great, for me, because that thing was disgusting, but he can hardly chalk it up as an accomplishment. Is that the kind of thing you're looking for?

He managed once to kick himself in the junk and cover his entire foot in his own mustard-seed shit, and twice to spit up in his own eye. Again, is that something he'll be bragging about in later years? Can we all collectively pray that's not on his list of proudest moments someday?

He naps like a narcolept, burps like a beer guzzler, toots so loud he startles the dog. Feel free to guess which of those (two first qualities) he gets from me, and which he gets from his dad.

So, he hasn't done much yet. He just keeps getting cuter and pudgier and more and more the center of my world. I'll take it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

40 weeks.

Today is my little boy's due date. It's safe to say he'll be a little late (I knew all along he would be - he's my kid, after all...), and safer still to say he'll be here soon. Very soon.

I have mixed emotions about it. A LOT of emotions. People keep asking if I'm just "so ready to be done," but truthfully, I'm not. I mean, I get it. He's coming, ready or not. But then I have to share him with the world. (My husband is quick to point out that there will be plenty of times to come when I want very much - nothing more than - to share him with the world. With perfect strangers, if that's my only option.) But right now, it's me and him. I kind of like that.

There's some stuff I'll miss about being pregnant. (From my last post, which got a bit... graphic... it might not seem like it. Hey. This being pregnant shit is real, and sometimes, it's messy.)
  • It's a special little club, it really is. There's a smile, almost a smirk, you get when people glance down and see a whole globe of a world growing under your tee shirt. It's supportive, encouraging, compassionate - even when there are no words exchanged. It makes me feel better to know that everyone loves a baby mama.
  • While I know it's as vain as it is bullshit, I love - LOVE - being told I'm "the cutest pregnant girl, like, ever." I don't know why people say it. I know it's not true, mostly because I've said it, to multiple people, so clearly it can't be true. I don't care. I love it just the same. I've never been the cutest anything before, and there's a super good chance I never will be again. I'm milking it.
  • That might be it.
But right now I'm a little sad it's almost over. I just got the hang of it, this belly and all it means. So I'm trying to think of all the things I miss about not being pregnant. It's no joke of a list.
  • I know, you think I'm going to say booze first. Duh. I cannot wait to have a glass of wine. A bottle of champagne. A keg or so of Summer Shandy. Can. Not. Wait. But no, even more than booze - I miss clothes. Real clothes that aren't stretchy. I can't wait to not have three pairs of pants and a couple of tank tops to choose from. I love my clothes. I miss my clothes. Sometimes I just sit in my closet and talk to them.
  • Working from the bottom up, ankles. I miss my ankles. They were never thin, but for crying out loud at least they were there. The tops of my feet look poppable by the end of the day. It's so gross.
  • Reaching my ankles. I was a gymnast when I was younger. I've done yoga for the past decade or so. I am unaccustomed to having parts of my body I can't reach, let alone see. The six year old has to help me put my socks on. And never mind that he can't tie his own shoes, he judges me for not being able to tie mine.
  • Speaking of places I can't see, grooming. I miss grooming. We can probably leave that one at that.
  • A waist. Another duh. I used to have a waist. And ab muscles that were at least strong enough that I could sit up on my own from laying down, without hubby having to give me a shove. It's humbling.
  • My shiny new rings. On my fingers. I wear my wedding ring around my neck right now, which is charming and pretty, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I'm afraid that even if I could fit it over my swollen sausage of a knuckle, I wouldn't be able to get it back off and they'd have to cut me out of it at the hospital and hubby would be maaaaad.
  • I miss being able to call people just to say hi or, you know, I love you, and not have them respond with thinly veiled disappointment. "Oh. Okay. Yeah, hi." Not confidence boosting. And by "people" I mean "my mom."
  • Sex. Or more accurately, I miss missing sex. Because right now that just sounds awful. Horrible. Seriously. No way.
  • Being just generally huge. Did I tell you guys about the time a few weeks ago when the sixer, catching a glimpse of me in a bathing suit, opened his horrified little eyes and wrapped his tiny little hands around my thighs, asking, "Why are your legs so big?!" "Well babe, that happens when you get pregnant. Everything just gets a little bigger." Staring some more. "Yeah... but why are they so big?" "I don't know, okay? I don't know why they're so big. I can't figure it out. Punk." "They are SO. Big."
I'm sure there's more. I'm sure many of you have your own you could add. I'm sure I'll find great relief in not being pregnant once I'm, you know, not pregnant. But for tonight, I think I'll not complain about baby boy baking a little longer than expected. I think I'll enjoy one more night of me and him. With my feet on three pillows and my orange juice-in-a-wine-glass cocktail.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Se7en.

Someone asked me today what it feels like to be seven months pregnant.

Clearly, I was in a mood, since I retorted, "Can't remember. I'm eight months pregnant." (Which I am, by exactly one day. So, chances are I could have remembered, you know, yesterday, if I'd really put my mind to it.)

Maybe it's because it was a boy asking, or maybe it was the mood, or it could have just been that one little word, but all I could come up with was this:

It's exactly like Se7ven. You remember that movie? Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwynyth Paltrow's head in a box? (Spoiler. Oops. Sorry. I guess I should say 'spoiler' before I actually say the spoiler. Whatever. That movie is from like 1995. If you haven't seen it yet, that's your fault.)

It's exactly like that one particular scene in Se7en. If you haven't seen it (again, your fault), here's the gist: there's a guy killing people. (It's Kevin Spacey. I'm just being mean now.) He's going down the list of the seven deadly sins and picking on people he thinks are sinners. He gets to gluttony. He picks a big guy - like a really, really Big. Guy. - and makes him eat until he literally explodes from the inside out. It kind of feels like that.

Now I feel bad because I just googled "Se7en gluttony guy" and the images that came up are not an accurate reflection of this gorgeous growing baby inside me. I just feel a little... full.

There's my answer. Being seven months (and 31 days) pregnant feels full. Hope that helps.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I Should've Had a V8.

There’s a certain phenomenon in pending motherhood that I shall dub “fruiting.” I assume (which I know I should not do) that many of you are familiar with this long-running tradition, but for those of you who are not, it goes something like this.

As a means for measuring your tiny little nugget around something supposedly universal, someone somewhere decided to compare fetuses to fruits and veggies. When said fetus is quite small, it’s an adorable concept. “Awww, baby’s a poppy seed this week.” “Say hello to my little pine nut.” “Oh my gosh, I’m growing my own pomegranate seed.” Case in point: one of my dear friends first heard this idea when she was carrying her then-blueberry-sized poppet, and Blue became baby’s nickname until she came out. Now her name is Violet. How stinking cute is that?

Here’s the rub.

As fetuses get bigger and more distinct, so too must their comparative foods.

And while a floating blueberry is a charming image, a floating head of cauliflower is not.

Then there’s the shameful notion that I just don’t know my fruits and veggies well, which makes a lot of these comparisons a moot and meaningless point. But the person responsible for these assignments doesn’t seem to either – I’m pretty sure around month five I went from an ear of corn to a navel orange to an artichoke. What now? How is that helpful? Or linear?

Adding to the confusion is mamas-to-be like me who are signed up for about 76 different sources of information. What to Expect, that classic book-turned-iPad app, seems to be the original fruit source. Then things like The Bump come along and want to differentiate themselves. So baby on one site is a passion fruit, and on another he’s a scallion. Again, not helpful.

Last week, my baby was a rutabaga.

I have no visual for that. I have no idea what that is… except for a drinking game.

Yep, in my mind, last week my baby was named after a drinking game we used to play in college called, obviously, “Rutabaga, Rutabaga.” I don’t remember much of the specifics – which means it must’ve been a pretty good drinking game – I just remember that everyone in the circle had to go around and say a fruit/vegetable twice, without showing their teeth. Seriously. I think it must’ve been that whoever laughed first had to drink. I also spent the whole week walking around with my lips tucked in mumbling, “cumquat, cumquat” and “asparagus, asparagus.”

And that’s a little glimpse into the kinds of wisdom my baby eggplant can look forward to learning from his mama.