How quickly we forget…

A woman I know – a brand new mom – reached out on Facebook the other day to mention how much her world had been rocked by the arrival of her son.  She mentioned this without a positive or negative spin.  There was no whining or wonder, just a mom noting how much her life had changed and how much hard work parenting a newborn is.

Then came the responses. There were so many women telling her to enjoy her baby! Cherish these moments! Change is good! He is adorable! Welcome to your new normal!  Your life has been changed for the better! It is a love you’ve never known! Welcome to MY world – now you get it! You’ll miss these days when they’re gone!

Blarghggghhlll, these posts gave me reflux.

How do we forget so quickly?

Why does “We’ve done it, so can you.” sound so dismissive rather than supportive?

The subtext of so many of these types of comments seems unkind and unsupportive:

Enjoy your baby! (Stop whining. We’ve all been there.)

Cherish these moments! (Stop whining. Why dwell on the bad stuff?)

Change is good! (Stop whining. What did you expect?)

How do we forget that the newborn “new normal” is occasionally terrifying, always exhausting, and can throw a person completely off kilter, no matter how much they love the little milky, loose-skinned, froggy-legged baby asleep on their chest?

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

I think my poet friend’s response was best “You are doing it! And you can do it! <3 <3 <3 No subtext.  Just support and love from another new mom who isn’t so far past that newborn world-rocking that she forgets what it is like.

Because it is so hard – it is bigger, more all-encompassing than that even.  And you just do it.  You get through the days, you get through the nights. You have good moments, bad ones, lots of tired ones.  You call in your village if you have one.  Or you call your village if they are far away.  Or you call your doctor.  You accept help, pay for it, ask for it, or struggle through without it.  You do it.  You just do.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll try my darnedest not to forget the feelings, the exhaustion, the crazy way the universe shifted completely when Pickle was born.  And I promise my friends that I’ll never demand that they cherish their baby and enjoy every damn moment.  I’ll just love them, remind them of their own strength, hold them up when they need me to and bring dinner when possible.

Admissions of a Tired Mom – Part Five

1. My kids wear their shoes on the wrong feet ALL OF THE TIME.  I always tell them, but I don’t usually make them switch them if they don’t want to.

2. I dislike the word “cray” (meaning crazy).  The Brits and Aussies (Kiwis, too) are really good at slang. “Bro, this Chrimbo, I’m going to slap some shrimp on the barbie for brekkie before we open prezzies, s’truth!” (Okay, I probably butchered that a bit, but a basic translation would be “This Christmas I’m going to grill shrimp for breakfast before we open gifts.”) Cockney slang takes things to a whole amazing other level.  Americans?  We’re just not as good at slang.

3. I could eat Russell Stover pectin jellybeans until my tongue bled.  I’m not proud of this.

Nom nom nom.  Image from Russell Stover.

Nom nom nom. Image from Russell Stover.

4. I thought my brie and Juicy Juice dinner was awful.  Then I got sick, for quite some time. I lost my appetite and most of my sense of taste. So dinner a few weeks ago was croutons.  Out of the bag.  Because I couldn’t taste much.  We needed to go food shopping.  And they were crunchy.  And there. And I was tired. And I wanted to go to sleep, but I was supposed to eat something with my meds, and stay upright for at least 10 minutes (weird, instruction, right?).

Crunch.  Image from Pepperidge Farm.

Crunch. Image from Pepperidge Farm.

5. Rare moment of parenting genius? Buying my 4-year-old son a DUSTBUSTER for Christmas.  He and his sister love it.  They can carry it, it is noisy, and exciting.  They cruise around the house, dustbuster at the ready, looking for “yuckies” to suck up into its whirling vortex.  And when they suck up something they shouldn’t (there was a dollar bill on the floor?) we can simply open the DB up, and retrieve the item. And I never have to yell “Shut that thing off already!” because it is rechargeable, and needs to be plugged back in after 30 minutes of hunting yuckies. $40 very well spent.  Thanks, Santa.

Vrooooom.  Image from Amazon.

Vrooooom. Image from Amazon.

Happy Friday, and happy Spring!  Bring on the mud and daffodils!

PS – Not affiliate links, just for your convenience.

That was for me.

That extra episode of Octonauts I let you watch?

That was for you, because you’ve been helpful, patient and kind this week.

But that was also for me, because I needed 23 minutes to pack bags for tomorrow, load the dishwasher, feed the cat, and breathe, for just a second.

 

That third lullaby I sang tonight?

That was for you, because you love our rare quiet time together, my third child.

But that was also for me, because you are growing too fast, because the glider will move out of your bedroom too soon, and because your warm hand on my cheek and full face smile as I sing won’t last forever, it won’t even last the year.

 

That dance party in the kitchen?

That was for you, because you’ve been cooped up too long in this winter house and need to wiggle and giggle and move.

But that was also for me, because your shimmies, and beautifully un-self-conscious twists, hip shakes and jumps are so lovely, so silly, and so free, and someday you’ll worry more about how you look as you dance, and who is watching.

 

That late bedtime?

That was for you, so I can ease you into this time change.

But that was also for me, as you sat, gently combing my hair and we pretended to color and style, because someday soon, you’ll both be too busy to bother playing hairdresser with your mom, even if she lets you stay up late.

 

My babies, my marvelous little people, thank you for the gifts you give me every day.

three

Midweek Deep Thoughts

Have you seen Ugly Volvo‘s recent post entitled “All of my Issues With the “Goodnight Moon” Bedroom“?  It’s great.  And right on.  When you have to read the same book or listen to the same song over and over (and over), you can’t help but over analyze.  My children are currently obsessed with the Kidz Bop version on “Kokomo”.  (Excruciating.) The Kidz Boppers have changed the lyrics “afternoon delight” and “cocktails” to make them tamer. But they have left in the phrase “tropical contact high”.  For real?!  I shake my head in annoyance every time I hear that verse.  And then I immediately wonder “WHY AM I WASTING VALUABLE BRAIN ENERGY THINKING ABOUT THIS?!

If there is something better than the slightly crispy broiled cheese that hangs over the edge of a crock of French onion soup, I don’t know what it is.

Serious Eats recently posted a pretty amazing French Onion  Soup recipe.  This is their photo.  Click on the photo to take you to the recipe - and check out the blog post "How to Make the Best French Onion Soup" while you're there.

Serious Eats recently posted a pretty amazing French Onion Soup recipe. This is their photo. Click on the photo to take you to the recipe – and check out the blog post “How to Make the Best French Onion Soup” while you’re there.

The other day, a few gals commented on my have-it-togetherness. I found this hysterical. My hair was wet, I had just fed my kids bribery donuts, I forgot some necessary school item (like a coat for Pickle, in NH, in winter), I was exhausted and I had just discovered that the shirt I was wearing (to work) was coated in something sticky.  I didn’t feel together. At all.  I never do.  But, as these ladies noted, my kids are clean(ish) and happy and I’m pretty calm (perhaps, “tired and resigned to chaos” is a more accurate description).  Sure, I’m in desperate need of some mascara, but I’m doing alright when it comes to the big stuff. It was nice to stop for a second and reflect on that.  It was also a nice reminder that the folks I admire for having it all together probably feel the same way I do.

My little Pistachio just turned one.  He is awesome.  He is a baby optical illusion – people constantly remark on how large he is when he is actually quite average size.  He loves to dance.  He loves his brother.  He is the straight man in our family farce.  And he is a smart little dumpling who has recently started hiding his binkies, just because he can.  A few months ago I dedicated a post to him, and how often he looks at the camera, just as I snap the photo, as if to say, “Really?!”  He didn’t let me down on his birthday (see photo). But the part of that post about sleeping through the night?  Yeah, I take that back. Birthday wha?

Onward and upward, friends!

Poke Me

My mother has been bugging me to try acupuncture. She has a lovely acupuncturist down the street from her house, and she has found the practice and the treatment both beneficial and relaxing. She offered to gift me acupuncture at Christmas. It was a kind offer, but the office she frequents is a 20-minute drive from my house, and frankly, if I have two or three free hours, I’d rather take a nap.

But a few weeks ago I went to a sandwich shop down the street from my office and noticed that an acupuncture practice was right next door. A quick peek at the website confirmed it was convenient (open every day!) and inexpensive (sliding scale pay-what-you-want!) so I decided to give it a try.

Recline!

I did have some trouble with the new patient paperwork. On the “Reason for Your Visit” line I wanted to write, “I have a full-time job, three small children and I really need a nap. Twelve needles and $15 is a small amount to pay!” but that wouldn’t fit (and I didn’t want to sound crazy), so I just wrote “Health Maintenance.”

The office receptionist, Norm, was a soft-spoken man sitting with a crocheted orange, yellow and green afghan on his lap. The practice owner looked exactly like Louis C.K., which was excellent and weird all at the same time. A rush of white noise met me when I walked into the big, dimly lit treatment room of 20 blanket-covered recliners. About five of the recliners held peacefully napping patrons. A brief consult, chair choice, pulse check, tap tap tap of 11 needles and away I went to slumberland. Only I didn’t.

My brain:

Am I tired? I don’t feel tired. But this chair is comfortable.

That needle in my hand still stings a little. I think. Does it sting a little? I don’t know. He said to make purposeful eye contact if it hurt. Does it hurt?

I’ll give it a minute.

I wonder how many white noise machines he has.

Probably eight. Sounds like eight.

Shouldn’t I be drowsy by now?

My head itches. 

I can’t even remember where he put the needles.

I’m hungry.

I should get a tuna sandwich next door after I’m done here.

I think I’ll be here about 20 minutes, but I don’t know exactly how long 20 minutes is and I’m sitting here with needles in me and I can’t check so I might as well relax.

Relax already.

You only have 18 minutes left to nap. So nap already.

I suppose if I can’t nap I can at least meditate. This room is dark and warm and cozy and apparently I forgot all about that needle in my hand.

Or did I?

Right. Back to the meditation.

Each thought is a maple leaf floating down a bubbling woodland brook. Look a leaf! And another leaf and…

I think I’ll put pickles on my sandwich.

Dammit.

A leaf, I’m thinking about floating leaves.

I should have eaten lunch before my appointment.

Hear the bubbling brook, let the thoughts flow away from me. Like leaves in a brook. Goodbye thoughts.

It must be 78 degrees in here. That’s a nice warm, nappy temperature.

My head still itches.

How long have I been here?

Am I actually paying to nap in a room full of strangers? I guess I am. Except I’m not napping.

I’m going to write about this.

But I should probably be sleeping, not writing blog posts in my head and pretending to nap.

Leaves. I’m thinking about leaves.

fall-folliage-tree-leaves

Mr. Louis C.K. Acupuncture must have to fold 150 blankets a day. 

At least they’re squares.

Alright, the leaf thing clearly isn’t happening.

Has it been enough time? Is it time to make purposeful eye contact?

Did someone just shuffle by me? I think they did. Oh God, was I mouth-breathing? I might have been mouth-breathing.

Oh well. They don’t know me.

Maybe I’ll get a salad for lunch. Is my head ever going to stop itching?

I wonder how much money this place makes.

Do you think he bought the recliners off of craigslist? Maybe he did. I should count the recliners. There are probably 20.

I’ll half-open my eyes and count the ones on the other side of the room.

11.

I should be sleeping. I’ve probably been here about 10 minutes, but I really have no idea.

It is pretty cozy though.

And it is peaceful.

And it is better than eating a sad desk lunch.

I’m definitely going to get tuna. I haven’t had tuna in eons.

Is it time? It must be time. My head still itches. Why does my head itch? If I get lice from these fleecy blankets I’m going to be annoyed. Okay. Time for purposeful eye contact I think.

I’ll open my eyes slowly, pretend to look rested, get the needles removed and go get a tuna fish sandwich.

Does anyone say “tuna fish” anymore? Is that redundant? Does that make me sound 80? I used the word “hamburg” – as in ground beef, not the city – the other week and my sister asked me when I turned 75 years old. Is “tuna fish” like that?

Oh, I was going to open my eyes.

And like that it was over. Purposeful eye contact was made, Louis C.K. Acupuncturist pulled out the needles, told me to take my time and stretch, and laid a comforting hand on my ankle.

And I felt?

Fine. Hungry. Pretty relaxed, actually. The crick in my neck felt better; at least I think it felt better.

So I decided I’m going to go back. Once a week. For a nap, or not. The cozy stillness is good for me, and I bet the acupuncture is, too.

But I’ll remember to eat lunch first.

Health maintenance, indeed!

Questions and Answers

Pickle is 4.5 years old.  I’ve already fielded some tough questions.  Why is the sun hot? Why are grandmas called grandmas?  Did they have to cut you to get the baby in your tummy? Why do we have seasons?  But today’s question was the hardest.

Pickle was sitting in the rear row of the minivan, gazing out the window.  The heat was cranked up, since the thermometer read “12” and Frozen was playing loudly (per Plum’s request, of course).

“Why do people die?”  he asked.

“WHAT?!” I yelled.  It was hard to hear his soft voice over the heater vents and Idina Menzel.

“WHY DO PEOPLE DIE?”  he yelled back.

I paused.  I turned down the radio, and the heat.

“Are you worrying about that?” He nodded.  “Pickle, all living things die.  I know that sounds scary, but it is just the way the world works.”

“Even cars?”

“Well, cars aren’t alive, but cars break and stop, and their parts wear out.  Just like our parts can wear out or stop. Remember how I told you about Grandpa Harvey?  How his heart broke, and they couldn’t fix it? How they couldn’t make it better?”  He nodded again.

I looked in my rearview mirror.  He was thinking.

I wanted to be honest.  I wanted him to know about the bad things, the bad people, the sadness, but I want him to love this life, to live fully and freely and to be happy despite those things.  I wanted him to know that maybe there is a heaven, that maybe there isn’t.  I wanted him to know that there are things I don’t know.  Though at 4 years old, I’m sure he is comforted by the fact that I probably know everything. Because moms and dads do.

His brow furrowed.  “Will it hurt?” he asked, lip trembling.

“Will it hurt when you die?”  He nodded.  “Pickle, I don’t know.  I don’t know what it is like to die.  I know that sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But I do know that you have a very long time to live before that.  Maybe even a hundred years.”  I hoped with all of my heart that I was telling him the truth.

I wasn’t sure, after the very normal morning we’d had, why these thoughts were running through his head.

I wanted to comfort him.  I am the fixer, after all.  I am the mom.  According to Pickle, I am even “a little bit magic.”  I can tell him when he’s going to throw up.  I know when he has thwacked his sister, even if he has denied it.  I know where his misplaced toys are, the t-shirt he wants to wear.  I know things.  I’m the mom. It’s what we do.

“Pickle, I wish I had better answers for you.  I wish I knew why we died, or if it will hurt.  But I don’t know.  All I know is that you have a lot of things left to do.  You’ll play basketball, you’ll learn to drive. You can grow up big and tall like Dad, you can get married and have your own babies if you want.  Do you think you might want to do that?”

He paused, took a breath, and caught my eye in the rearview mirror.  “Yeah,” he said nodding, mind made up, “I think I want to do that.”

 

Pickle

Admissions of a Tired Mom – Part Four

1. I rearranged the living room while the rest of my family was napping. Bad: I am way too old to do this alone. Good: my son thinks I might be directly related to Superman.

2. The other night, after a particularly hectic evening, I settled down for a decadent dinner of crackers, triple cream brie and a perfectly ripe pear. And my beverage pairing? Cherry Juicy Juice. For real. Who the hell have I become?!

cherry-juicy-juice

3. I’m pretty much over bacon, and I just can’t get on board with the weird trend of putting mustaches on everything. Baby onesies with mustaches on them? Why? Am I missing something? I must(ache) be missing something.

Carter's Mustache Print Bodysuit

Carter’s Mustache Print Bodysuit

4. When Pistachio was born, we removed a big-kid car seat and replaced it with his baby carrier seat. The big-kid car seat went into the garage with plans to put it back into service when Pistachio got big enough. Well, he got big enough. So I cleaned the seat cover and went to clean the rest of it when I noticed that an animal – who had probably discovered a yummy little food stash of goldfish and other crumbs – had chewed up the foam seat and the straps. Yuck.

On a related note: I received lovely and thoughtful Christmas gifts, but my favorite was probably the gift certificate to get the minivan interior detailed.

5. Sometimes, I have to look hard and think for a second before I can identify whose baby picture it is. And I have already forgotten what time each child was born. In my defense, I do know the general times of their births (Pickle was early morning, Plum was evening and Pistachio was midday). Just more evidence that I pushed out a bit of my brain each time I pushed out a baby.

Question Mark Clock from CafePress

Question Mark Clock from CafePress

Onward and upward! Stay warm and be happy!