As I wasted nap time again the other day blog-surfing, I read a comment about the "one-baby bubble". I thought that term was so appropriate, I decided to write about it here. I would link to the comment, but I can't remember where the hell I read it.
When you have one baby, everything is in sharp focus. When the baby cries, you rush to meet its needs. When the baby smiles, you snap photos until you fill your card. When the baby poops, you examine the specimen for smell, shape, and color. In short, everything you do and feel revolves around this baby. Because it is just you, your spouse, and the baby, the littlest things can be slightly exaggerated. Perhaps you lose a little perspective, since all you can see is the baby.
This is not a bad thing. This is, in fact, the thing which allows infants to live past 2 weeks. You have to be focused on the baby to ensure it's survival. If you could put aside your baby responsibilities as easily as you can erase the work-week with a pint of lager, your baby might starve.
As the baby grows, perhaps the "bubble" enlarges a bit. You might join playgroups with other babies. Now that you are used to the baby, you are less likely to announce to the free-world every time she poops. But still it is you and the baby. The baby is your top priority, all the time.
I remember this well, with Isaac. Everything he did was so amazing, and new, and wonderful, and scary. It was overwhelming at times, even though he was the world's easiest baby. When people asked how it was going, I always said, "It's great! But hard!" And it was. But I felt in control for the most part. I knew him so well, he was all I did, all I looked at, all I thought about.
Then came the second baby. Suddenly, all that changes. Completely and irrevocably. You do not have the same bubble with the second baby. In fact, you no longer have the bubble with the first baby. You are suddenly bubble-less.
What if when the second baby cries and as you are helping her, the older baby needs something too? It is physically impossible to attend to them both at the same time. One baby must cry un-aided, until you can get to him. And many of those smiles and poops and coos that you recorded with joy the first time around slip by without notice, because you are too busy trying to wrestle your toddler out of his pajamas in time for you to get to the grocery store before the baby has to eat again. In short, neither one of them can be your top priority all the time.
This was the hardest thing for me to get over, once I became Mom to two. Instead of being able to meet the needs of my one child, I felt like I was failing the both of them. Especially since Vivian was a newborn and therefore fussy, and Isaac was 16 months old and therefore difficult. Also needy, since his whole world had been torn up. I didn't have time for his needs. I didn't have time for anything but to clean two butts, wipe spit up off one mouth and spaghetti sauce off the other and occasionally change the sheets. I mourned the loss of that bubble, oh how I mourned it.
At one of my pre-natal visits with Vivian, my OB said to me: "You'll see, one baby is one baby, but two is ten." I had no idea what she was talking about and just sort of smiled and nodded. Now I know, and she is absolutely correct.
Two babies is not twice the work. It is exponentially more than that. I cannot fathom how people have twins, though a mom once told me: "It's easier with twins than with two at different ages. With twins you just do everything twice." (I know this particular Mom had lots of help, so I take that statement with a grain of salt.)
Another thing that changes when you lose the one-baby bubble is the focus. Instead of the focus being the baby, suddenly the focus is the family as a unit. You can't focus all your attention on either one, so instead, you focus on the family. You do what will most benefit everyone, instead of always doing only what will benefit the baby most. It happens slowly, but it does happen. The babies are paramount in importance, but the family as a whole has a place in the hierarchy too. Perhaps in families with only children this same shift happens once the child becomes more independent. Or maybe it never happens. I'm not saying one is better than the other. But I am saying it is different--having one baby as opposed to two. More different than you would expect.
In fact, I think in a lot of ways, comparing raising one child to raising more than one is like comparing apples to oranges. Although I don't really know if this is true, since my experience with raising one child is limited to 16 months. And my experience with more than one is only 11 months.
I'm sure the fact that my two are so close together has colored my perception. People often look at me in horror when they see us, and I know why. Perhaps when you have kids further apart, say 4 or 5 years, it is not the same. Maybe in those instances you can still retain the bubble around each kid. I wouldn't know.
For me, the whole experience of "Isn't it so much easier the second time around?" didn't apply. Everything was much more difficult when Vivian was born. Her birth (a cesarean--she was breech), my recovery, her infancy, my adjustment--all of it was incredibly daunting. I look back at those first few months with her, and honestly, they were miserable.
Of course, now things are much better, and I couldn't imagine a world without her. Although the first months were difficult, thankfully they are a blur, and I have photos to remind of how sweet and helpless she was. Maybe our inauspicious beginning is what leads me to conclude that having 2 kids is so different than one.
I do feel like things didn't start getting better until I accepted the fact that Vivian would not be the focus of my life the way Isaac was. Until I figured out a way to include them both, equally, and still have time for me.
So what do you think? Is this just my experience, because I had them so close together? Or is there some truth to my theory that having 2 is that much different than having 1?
Saturday, May 28, 2005
As I wasted nap time again the other day blog-surfing, I read a comment about the "one-baby bubble". I thought that term was so appropriate, I decided to write about it here. I would link to the comment, but I can't remember where the hell I read it.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Today you are 11 months and 8 days old. Although you still look like a baby (really wearing out those 3-6 month clothes, and still with the gummy grin), you are quickly approaching toddlerhood.
Which makes me sad, my sweet wonderful girl. I will miss your baby-ness. However, I know that the toddler you turn into will more than make up for that loss. Already, there are some good things going on this month.
First and foremost: if you had a baby book, dear child, I would be able to fill in "sleeps through the night" with 11 months. We can put you to bed around 7:30 and expect you to sleep soundly until 6 or 6:30 in the morning most nights. Oh, how we thank you for this feat, despite the fact that it is about 8 months late in coming! Best of all, you awake happy as can be, standing up in your crib, your cheeks all pink and warm, grinning at me as I open the door.
(Also you are grinning at your brother, whom you have woken up, and who is throwing his bears/blankets/socks/anything within reach into your crib.)
You are still crawling, seeming to have little interest in walking. In fact, you often still crawl with your stomach dragging along the floor, as if it is just too much trouble to get up on all fours. Occasionally, if we are outside, you'll crawl on your hands and feet-- not wanting to scratch up your knees, perhaps? You are standing a lot more often, and even cruise around the furniture unsteadily every now and then.
One thing that is making you really mad these days, and I can't say as I blame you: crawling is nowhere near as fast as walking. Since you spend your days with 2 very capable bi-peds, you have a hard time keeping up. More often then not, we'll all three of us be in your room, when I'll walk out to the living room to find Isaac's shoes, and he'll follow me, so I'll start putting them on out there. While this is going on, you plod your way out to us. At which point I'm finished with the shoes, and need to go back to grab a sweater. So I'll go, and Isaac will follow me, and you just watch us walking away for a few minutes. If you could talk, I just know you'd say, "You've got to be kidding me." Lately, you've figured out a way to fix this problem. Before I have a chance to walk away, you crawl on over to me, grab at my legs with all your might, and stand there, hollering until I pick you up. Lucky for you, you only weigh 15 lbs so usually I'll oblige.
A few days ago, you climbed onto your highchair tray and fell to the hardwood floor. Why did you do this? You are not, in general, a climber. As mentioned previously, you're not even truly crawling for a lot of the day. You haven't climbed up onto anything else. But for some reason that highchair tray is really appealing to you, even now.
This is making mealtimes a little challenging. I cannot strap you in, for reasons you don't need to know about. I spend the whole meal saying, "No, no no Viv. No climbing." And wrestling you back to your seat. "No, Viv!" "Sit down!"
Darlin', don't you remember the fall? How it hurt?All the tears and terror? And that was just me.
Remember last month I wrote how you aren't very oral? And I can just leave you alone and you may pick up some grime off the floor to inspect it, but you won't put it in your mouth? Well, apparently you read that entry and saw your chance to make good. I think you're finally getting some teeth, my girl, because lately you can't get enough into that mouth of yours. Pennies, water bottle caps, matchbox cars, dead flies--if it's on the floor, it's fair game for your mouth. We are all hoping you inherited your mother's strong constitution because, sadly, even this new trick of yours has not encouraged yours truly to become a better housekeeper.
Even though I still don't do floors, I do hug you and kiss you and munch on your ears daily. I love to hold you when you are tired, as you lay your tiny little head on my shoulder, sigh deeply, and sort of melt into me.
Today at the grocery store a 14 year old girl was in line ahead of us with her mother. She was being a horrible wench. Please never ever treat me that way, my sweet. Please remember how nice it is to let mommy hold you and comfort you and love you. Okay?
I love you, Viv.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I feel a need to say this: I love my kids. I love them more than I love ice cream when I'm pregnant. I also enjoy them. On a daily basis. I spend all of my time with them, and I laugh and I giggle and I smile-- and bask in the glory that is Isaac and Vivian. I do this every day. I am not saying so to prove I am a good mother. I am saying so because it is true. Many, many many moments of my day are too good to describe.
But you know what? I don't try very hard to describe them. I let them flit away, like the bubbles Isaac blows in the backyard. I worry about how small our house is, how much my sleep is interrupted, how much trouble 2 kids under two is. I spend hours at the computer, stewing and stewing and venting about how hard my life is.
I am not the only person to ever have 2 children. Why am I such a martyr all the time? Why do I need to tell stories about the epic temper tantrum Isaac had at the mall, while leaving out the times he comes up behind me, and hugs me, saying "I love my cuddle-monkey"?
I am resentful and spiteful--mean, really--to my husband. I complain daily on my blog, on the phone, over e-mail. "Oh, I couldn't possibly meet you for dinner, I am much too busy. Having kids is hard work, you know". I feel isolated, and un-appreciated, and overwhelmed, but I don't try and fix it. That is my identity now.
What, am I afraid if I admit I am having a good time it will all be taken away?
Except that's not really it. It actually is hard, being a stay at home mom to two tiny people. I am definitely overwhelmed by the minutiae that is my days. And I miss adult conversations, and adult problems more than I can explain.
I just don't understand why I focus so much on the negative. So much goodness abounds, too, but for some reason I don't hang onto those moments.
I hate feeling so put-upon all the time. Yet I control my own emotions, and I still allow myself to feel this way.
Does anybody else feel/act this way? Or am I just a big baby and need to get a grip? And if that is the case, any advice on how to do that?
Monday, May 23, 2005
I've been tagged by Trisha, so here you go:
3 names I go by:
Amy; Tom; Amos
3 screen-names I've had:
starheel; tarheelgoddess; ags69
3 physical things I like about myself:
my legs; my proportions; my hair (color only) *
3 physical things I dislike about myself:
my complexion; my hair; my teeth
3 parts of my heritage:
I have no idea
3 things I am wearing right now:
shorts, a tank top I bought in 1986, pink toenail polish
3 favorite bands / musical artists:
Al Green; Bruce Springsteen; Billie Holiday
3 favorite songs:
Summertime, Will Smith; Cherish, Madonna; What a Good Boy, Barenaked Ladies
3 things I want in a relationship:
Love; respect; comfort
3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me:
well trimmed beards; twinkly eyes; shit-eating grin
3 of my favorite hobbies:
blogging; reading; sitting at the beach
3 things I want to do really badly right now:
read; take a nap; take a shower
3 things that scare me:
phone calls at odd times; swimming; Isaac's surgery
3 of my everyday essentials:
water; sugar; smiles
3 careers you have considered or are considering:
mail carrier; abortion counselor; psychologist
3 places you want to go on vacation:
anywhere I haven't been before
3 kids' names you like:
Natalie; Hugh; Audrey
3 things you want to do before you die:
sky-dive; raise happy healthy children who love me; travel
3 ways I am stereotypically a boy:
(the non-metrosexual ones, anyway)
I get my hair done at supercuts; I hate shopping; I don't shave my legs (not because I'm a hippie, because I'm LAZY, and the hair is blonde)
3 ways I am stereotypically a chick:
I cry at commercials ; I am insecure; I don't take out the trash
3 celeb crushes:
Courtney Cox; Gary Dourdan; Eric Close
3 people to play next:
Gina; Raehan; Scarlett
*how lame is it that this is the question that gave me the most trouble?
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Do not purchase white canvas pants for your crawling 11 month old, no matter how cute they are.
Particuarly if you don't manage to mop the floors very often (ahem).
(Sadly, this picture doesn't even do justice to the dirt, grease and grime left as more evidence of bad parenting on her pants.)
A few weeks ago I thought I was pregnant.
Let us count the ways this is crazy:
1. It took us over a year to conceive Isaac. Granted, it only took 2 months to conceive Vivian, but that was just some sort of cosmic joke, the universe's way of teaching me--"Be careful what you wish for".
2. I am on the pill. I have not missed a day. Or taken an antibiotic. Or done anything to interfere with its 99% effectiveness rate.
3. Lance and I have not been feeling very (ahem) amorous lately, so while you couldn't call it The Immaculate Conception, it would be close.
Still, there I was, feeling tired, and crampy, and irritable. Wanting a steak, of all things! Getting dizzy for no apparent reason! Ohmigod, my boobs are sore! It's Monday, and I haven't started my period yet! Jesus, this one will only be 22 months younger than Vivian! Holy shit, I won't be able to drink for another year! Fuck Fuck Fuck, I have to get all the crappy maternity clothes out of the garage! Lance is going to kill me! We'll never fit 3 kids in this house! How will we pay for preschool?* . .. .
And so on. Until Tuesday morning, which I suddenly remember, is the time I usually get my period once I start the week of placebo pills.
Did you ever read this? That last sentence has been bouncing around in my brain since I read it a few months ago. There doesn't exist a better description of the way I felt.
I'll just retype it here, in case you're too lazy to go to the page I so nicely linked for you:
"All the cells in your brain are cheering — throwing their pompoms in the air and turning cartwheels, their little white skirts flipping up while they yell, "Not, not pregnant! N-O-T! P-R-E!! G-N-A-N-T!!!"
But your heart — your greedy, irrational heart — is sitting on the curb with its head in its hands."**
*Susanna, if you're reading this, one of my first thoughts was also, "How the hell am I going to tell Susanna? This is so unfair!"
**I want to give proper credit, so if you don't go to the link, know this was written by Catherine Newman, who writes "Bringing up Ben and Birdy" for Parentcenter.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Isaac is two. And up until this weekend, I've been pretty okay with that. He has his meltdowns and his temper tantrums, but generally I can keep him under control. It's actually been much easier than those terrible times from 16 -22 months when he couldn't quite understand me. I would tell him to stay out of the street but he wouldn't understand why. Or I would threaten him with a time out if he didn't stop kicking his sister, but he wouldn't get it. Now that we can have actual conversations, it's much easier for me to control him.
For the last few months I've been halfway holding my breath, waiting for the terrible twos to kick in. And I've started thinking that I've really got this parenting thing down, because here Isaac is, in the midst of the terrible twos, and he's actually a pretty good, easy kid.
Now would be a great time to start laughing.
This weekend, my pretty good, easy kid disappeared. And left in his place an irrational, demanding, stubborn whirling dervish. On Sunday morning, he had been in time-out 5 times before 9 o'clock. He got into the spice drawer again, tore apart the dustbuster, got grease all over himself from playing with the lawn-mower, and refused to get dressed. Although he spent a good part of the morning in hysterics, truly I was the one in need of professional help. You might expect a two year old to be having a tantrum on a Sunday morning; you would not expect his 35 year old mother to be on the floor outside his room, weeping and pleading, "please, please Isaac, please can't you be a good boy?" (And Isaac yells from inside, "Be good boy! Isaac no like good boy!")
Sadly, for Lance and I, the appearance of Isaac the Terrible coincided with the morning after a barbecue we hosted for 10 of our friends. Good times, good fun, good beer, late night. Sunday morning started at 6 am with a chorus of "Mommy! Mommy! Isaac want to get up!" and "Shhoogagg dad dada bwah!" It went quickly downhill from there. In my defense (though when is a hangover a "good" excuse?) the weeping and pleading may have been in response to the pounding headache, the chalk mouth and the exhaustion as well as to the whirling dervish who ate my son.
Now, most of our day goes by like this, "No! Isaac don't like shirt! Isaac like Grover shirt! No Grover shirt! Isaac don't like Grover shirt! Isaac like elephant! Isaac want to ride elephant! Don't get dressed! No! Nooooo! Isaac like to get up! Isaac don't like quiche! Isaac don't like sandwich! No sandwich! Isaac like french fries! I like french fries, Mom! Mom, I don't like sandwich! Isaac like ice cream! I like to play toys! Nooo! I don't like night-night! I don't like that story! Isaac want to pick out story! No . . . .
Thursday, I got a hint of this monster to come. Isaac was in his room, refusing to nap. After about 40 minutes, I went in to check on him. He had pooped, so I leaned in to pick him up out of the crib. And got grease all over my shirt.
"Wha. .?" That's when I noticed that Isaac's hair seemed wet, and shiny. And the sheets were shiny. There was grease all over the crib. And also an empty jug of Aquaphor. (Aquaphor is heavy duty lotion, vaseline-like in texture.) He had shimmied his crib over to the changing table, opened the jar and spread the lotion all over the place. On his hair, on his clothes, on the walls, on the teddy bears.
So that is what I've been doing the last few days. Trying to survive life with my little tyrant.
Where is Vivian during all this, you ask? Hmm. Well, in a spectacular show of good parenting this morning, I allowed her to fall from the tray of her high chair (about 3 feet off the ground) to the hardwood floor.
The high chair sits in the breakfast nook, which is just off the kitchen. When I am in the kitchen, as I was this morning, I can't see the high chair around the corner. Not a problem, as once I put Vivian in the chair, she can't get out. Or so I thought. In fact, so sure was I of this fact that even when Isaac said this morning, "Vivi, sit down!" I never thought for a minute that she had managed to crawl out of the seat and onto the tray. I didn't even turn around. I just thought Isaac was being goofy. THUNK.
She is fine, fortunately. (Sitting at the doctor's office for 1.5 hours with a tired and possibly brain damaged 11 month old did nothing to improve my mood, as you might imagine.) I, on the other hand, have nominated myself for mother of the year, and hope that you will vote for me.
If you're not sure I deserve your vote, here's something else: The reason I can't strap Vivian into the highchair is that a few weeks ago I had to throw away the straps, since they were so covered in mold from old crusty food, they were growing penicillin.
Why have I not heard of this show? Do you watch it? Do you cry and cry and cry?
Last night, I happened on it since my husband was watching basketball on our television with tivo. They had a family on--a father and 3 boys, all under 5--who had recently lost their mother to leukemia. She was 28 when she died. And Extreme Makeover came and built them a new house, they held a fund-raiser in the community and people donated $150, 000!
I am a sap. I know this. But really, you would have cried too, if you saw it.
And I hate reality tv! But this was awesome.
Let me find a link.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Today I received an email from a very good friend. In part, she said:
"As I've said over and over I love reading your blog so that I feel like I have a glimpse into what your daily life is about -- same as mine, hectic. Anyway, my favorite part are the pictures. You haven't posted any recent ones lately -- do you have any new ones? "
And you all know I can't resist whoring my children out to all the internet freaks just so people will tell me how cute they are.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Yesterday morning I went out to the car with Isaac on our way to preschool. I planned to put him in, then go back to the house for Vivian and my purse. Unfortunately, the car was locked and I didn't have my keys with me.
"Hold on a sec!" I called to him, and turned to go back in the house.
Our house is close to the street, but it is not a very busy street, and most people don't drive that fast. Granted, at that hour of the morning there are more cars, and cars driving faster than usual, but still, it's not a freeway. Isaac is well aware that he cannot go into the street without holding my hand. So I wasn't worried about leaving him out front for the 3 minutes it would take me to grab the keys.
But as I turned, a car slowed down in front of the house. There was a woman inside, and she was pointing to Isaac. I waved at her, and called out, "I see him!"
She didn't drive away. She stayed there, in front of my house, even though I was waving at her, until I finally turned around and started walking back towards Isaac.
Maybe she didn't hear me. Maybe she thought I didn't know he was out there (he was on the other side of my car, not in my line of vision). Maybe she thought he was about to run out into the street.
Or maybe she just thought I was a complete shit of a mother and she needed to wait to make sure I didn't endanger my son any further.
It truly pissed me off. But I realize that she was just trying to protect my son. I probably should be grateful that she even cared enough for a total stranger to take time out of her morning. Though it seems to me that once I waved at her to let her know I had the situation under control, she should have driven her self-righteous self away.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Here's a personality quiz, compliments of Mimilou. I don't usually post these, since more often than not I don't think they describe me very well. However, this one seems fairly accurate. Maybe I like it because it is flattering. (I took a test via Psycho Kitty the other day that found me violent and malicious, and I sure as hell didn't post that one.)
Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.
Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.
Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
Monday, May 09, 2005
I am sitting in my bed, in pajamas, in the middle of the day. My sister is with me, and we are talking about the triplets (!) that I just gave birth to. Although I just gave birth to them, they are clearly about 1 year old, and all three of them look exactly like the (not very cute) little sister of one of Isaac's pre-school buddies.
Me: I just don't understand why he had to sign the birth certificates without me.
Ann: well, you were under anesthesia for so long, he had to.
Me: But why did he pick those names?
Ann: He had no choice. You were unconcious for days. I'm just glad you finally woke up. It's a good thing we could take you home while you were out, or we'd still be at the hospital.
Me: How can my children be named this? Carys?* Ophelia? Trevia?
Ann: Don't worry, just use nicknames. Carys can be Carrie, Ophelia is Leah, Trevia is Via.
*This name appearing in my dream was a clue: I read a blog the other day about a couple with triplets. I think they were European, and one of their triplets was named Carys--a name I have never heard before. I had forgotten about it until I woke up and remembered the dream, and the name.
Over the weekend Lance and I gossiped a little. For whatever reason, many of our friends are still single, although we are all in our mid- to-late-thirties. We talked about why this might be so, and who might be getting close to settling down, and who was a lost cause, and so on. And it got me thinking about what our children will be doing when they are in their mid-to-late-thirties.
I proposed this hypothetical question to Lance:
"Which would be worse: that Vivian marries her high school sweetheart at 19, or that she is still unmarried at 38?"
We couldn't decide. Neither one of us want her to get married young, and miss out on all the life that happens in the years from 18 to 30. I would be worried that the person she loves at 19 may not be the right person for her at 35. But at the same time, I wouldn't want her to miss out on having children. I wouldn't want her to be lonely. So I wouldn't want her to be single at 38.
Once we agreed that there was no way to answer that hypothetical question, I posed another one to Lance:
"Okay, same question, but this time with Isaac. Which one do you pick?"
And of course, we both said: "Without question, better for him to be single at 38."
Sunday, May 08, 2005
My sister was born August 21st, 1967 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My father had just started his junior year in college; my mother was 20 years old. They had been married for 7 months. Two and a half years later I was born. My grandmother sent my mother a letter, advising her about birth control.
This August, my sister will turn 38. My parents are still married. This feat should be attributed to both of them, but since it's Mother's Day, I'll just talk about Mom.
My parents moved back to their home town when Dad finished law school. By then they had been married 4 years and had two kids. Everyone in town was just waiting for them to get divorced. My mom was 24 years old. They had very little money, but Dad had a job at a local law firm, and they were determined. Eventually, he started his own firm, and after struggling for several years, his hard work began to pay off. My brother was born in 1975, and by 1978 we had moved to a "nice" area of town, in a big house. In 1980, in 5th grade, I started private school. My brother went to private school his whole life.
The years from 1972 to 1980 were a struggle. My dad worked very long hours, and when he had weekends off, he unwound by going to the golf course. My memories of early childhood revolve completely around my mother, and sometimes my maternal grandparents. Dad doesn't figure much, except as the enforcer of punishments. My sister and I were mostly afraid of him.
But, back to Mom. She was young. She had two children, and little money. She had an entire community watching her, expecting her to fail. Her husband was largely absent from family life. But, I knew none of this. All I knew was that she loved me, that she thought I was special, that whatever I needed I could get from her.
I'm not going to tell you that she never raised her voice. Or that she was the sweet, cookie-baking, pant-sewing Donna Reed type mom. She did yell when we deserved it--and maybe sometimes when we didn't. Sometimes she'd make cookies, but more often it was Rice Krispy treats, and we were the ones making them, with her supervision. She also sewed, but only as a last resort when we couldn't afford new clothes.
She let us play for hours, unsupervised, in the woods behind our subdivision. (I know, a different time, but I wonder how different I might be today if all my play had been supervised, like it is these days.) She taught me to play in the dirt, to climb trees, to not be afraid of bugs.
She read all the Little House books to us, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. She taught us to care about other people, never to judge by appearances, and to be friendly. When we were older, she practiced field hockey and lacrosse with us, she stroked my hair when the girls at junior high turned on me, she helped us pick out the right clothes to wear the first day of school.
After my brother was born, my mother went back to college, at night, and earned her degree. In 1981 she went to work for my father. I am a stay-at-home-mom, like my mother was until my adolescent years. It is the hardest thing I've ever done. I am 35 years old. My husband comes home from work every day and helps me--a lot. I cannot imagine being 24 years old, pregnant, and taking care of two children all day long with no help.
I know there are plenty of younger mothers out there even today. This astounds me, since my own early twenties was a very selfish time for me. I graduated from college, got a half-way decent job, and spent the rest of the time partying. It was all about me, and what fun I would be having the next evening, the next weekend, the next party. It was great. There is no way I could have been a mother in that time. Being a mother requires too much sacrifice for my 24 year old self.
Yet my mom did it, and didn't complain (that I heard, anyway). She never got to live on her own. She never got to come and go when she pleased without worrying about anyone else. She went from college, where she needed written permission from her father to leave campus, to being a mother, where she couldn't leave if she wanted to, because who would watch the baby? She never was able to leave work on a Friday afternoon and decide to head to the beach with some friends at the last minute. She never got to spend her whole paycheck on outrageously priced and impractical shoes. She never got to plan a wedding, or wear a wedding dress.
She will tell you that she doesn't miss these things. That she was able to do many of them in her late 40s and early 50s, when all her children were grown. That it wasn't as hard as I paint it. And maybe that is the best thing she taught me: be happy with what you have. Be grateful for what you have, because it could be a lot worse.
I have always felt completely at ease with Mom. Which is not to say I tell her everything: I don't, and there are plenty of things she wouldn't want to know. But we have a comfortable, easy relationship. When we get together we laugh a lot, we gossip, we rarely argue. Fortunately, when we start to get on each other's nerves, we simply hang up the phone. Not living in close proximity has perhaps made it easier to forgive each other our faults.
You see what is happening here? I keep thinking of more things I want to tell you about my mother. But I need to save some things for her birthday, and next year. So I'll just leave you with a visual:
Here she is, with Vivian last summer
Happy Mother's Day.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Yesterday I met the neighbor's daughter and nanny. They just live a few houses up, and I've seen them on walks and such when I'm inside blogging. But I've never had the chance to meet them. The little girl's name is Joanna, and she is 8 months old.
She is twice the size of Vivian. And I don't mean fat, I just mean bigger, and sturdier. As in, she looks like she is 3 or 4 months older than Vivian, not the other way around.
Also, she is practically walking. The nanny can hold onto her hands and walk her up and down the street. Vivian is way too unsteady on her feet for that. Furthermore, she has no interest, and would much rather be carried. Joanna looks every bit like an almost-toddler, while Vivian is still a baby.
I know that babies develop on their own time-table. I know that she is in the "range" for normal, even if she's on the low end of that range. I know that plenty of babies are even "slower" than she is and still are considered "normal". Most of the time--say 98% of the time--I am completely okay with her development. In fact, I welcome it. I remember Isaac at this age, and he was into everything. All day long was a chorus of no, no no, and it wore me out. Vivian is more mellow, and that makes my life easier.
But seeing her with 8 month old Joanna made me feel icky, nonetheless. Why has she been late with every milestone? Why doesn't she have any interest in standing, or cruising? Why doesn't she have any teeth, for pete's sake?
I hate this part of being a mother!
Last night after putting Isaac to bed, Lance came and asked me, "Is there really a kid named Percy in Isaac's school?"
"Yeah, and there's a Darby, too."
"Oh, but Percy is way worse than Darby."
"Bad, yes. But not worse than Darby."
And then we continued to argue about which was the worse name, and what other terrible names we had heard.
Which is funny, since many people look at us with horror when we tell them we named our son Isaac.
When we told my grandfather Isaac's name, he said--"Oh. What are you going to call him?"
"Oh. No nickname? Or anything else? Just Isaac?"
"Right. His name is Isaac. So we'll call him Isaac."
If Vivian had been a boy, she would have been Timothy, after a friend of ours. When I told my grandmother, she said, "Oh, that would have been great! I wish she had been a boy!"
Naming is so individual, and people have such strong opinions about names. I just hope my kids grow up liking their names well enough. They don't have to love them, but I don't want them to hate them. Time will only tell.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Today I took the kids to meet Lance for lunch at a little Mexican place near his work. We were having a reasonably good time until this exchange:
Lance: Oh, yeah--we're having Mother's Day at our house.
Lance: Yeah, Dad just told me. We're doing Mother's Day at our house.
Me: This Mother's Day? As in 4 days from now?
Lance: We're doing Mother's Day. At our house. This weekend. You know--Mom, Dad, the grandmothers, my brother, Marisa. . .
Lance: What's the problem?
Me: So for Mother's Day, my gift is to throw a party for my in-laws?
Lance: No, I'm throwing the party. You won't have to do a thing.
Me: Why do you think your dad doesn't want to do it at their house?
Lance: Because it's Mother's Day--he doesn't want Mom to have to do any work.
Lance: No, no no. You're not having to do any work either. I'll do it all. You just take the kids and leave Sunday morning and I'll do all the cleaning, everything.
Me: So my Mother's Day gift is to babysit the kids all morning?
Lance: Fine, I'll take the kids. You don't have to do anything.
Me: Uh huh. Just remember, babe, Father's Day is coming up.
Lance: I know. What's the big deal? You're not going to have to do anything.
Me: Okay. Payback's a bitch. Remember that.
Me: You know I haven't seen my dad in awhile. Maybe for Father's Day I'll invite him out here for the weekend. And hey, I know! You could take him golfing!
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
If you have been a lifetime smoker and in your late 50s/early 60s you are diagnosed with lung cancer, how do you react?
Do you accept it "graciously"? After all, you've been smoking for 30 some years. Or do you get angry and wonder, why me? Nevermind the fact that people have been warning you about this for years.
It has been years since I had a cigarette, and I was never a hardcore smoker. I smoked around a pack a week through my early twenties, and gave it up fairly easily. For me, the addiction was the ritual of smoking (the lighting of the match, the tapping of the ashes, etc), not the nicotine.
Last night Lance received an email from our realtor, who sold us this house four years ago. In it she relayed the fact that her surgeon had confirmed lung cancer. Obviously, she did not mean to cc Lance; we haven't spoken to her in years. I feel horrible for her--what a devastating diagnosis. But on the other hand, she was a hardcore smoker--also a heavy drinker--so shouldn't she have "seen it coming?"
One of the reasons this is giving me pause is that in many ways--especially about health--I am pretty blase. I tend to take the attitude: "Oh, that won't happen to me." I wear barefeet all summer. If I drop food on my floors, I am apt to eat it anyway, despite the fact that I am not a good housecleaner. I use sponges, even though people keep telling me I'm just wiping the germs around. I don't wash my hands before every meal. I don't always rinse all my vegetables. I don't worry about infections when I get a pedicure. When I smelled mold under the family room rug after all the rains this winter, I just figured it would dry out soon enough (it did).
So I'm thinking, when I get e. coli from the green onions that I didn't wash well enough, will that serve me right? Am I just tempting fate by being so lazy?
Because don't you think that's what smokers tell themselves? "Yeah, yeah I know you can get cancer, but I won't."
What do you think?