Wednesday, December 07, 2005

bad hair week

It's been a bad hair week for T and her friend, G.
On Sunday night, they played hairdresser and managed to emerge from the closet "salon" with about half a jar of Vaseline smeared into their hair.

Where were these children's parents? Well, let's just say that three of them were having what they thought was a quiet, relaxing, grown-up dinner, and the other was romping around Italy, single-guy style. That'll teach them. Because getting Vaseline out of hair, especially fine children's hair is seriously tricky business. So tricky, in fact, that when you search on "how to get vaseline out of hair" on msn, you get 74,158 results.

And frankly, most of them are bad.

The first site we looked at said that most any shampoo will get Vaseline out of hair. We were doubtful, but put the two littlest girls (and worst victims), T and G, into the tub and started scrubbing with baby shampoo (we were so naive then). Of course, it did nothing. We tried dish detergent for something a bit stronger, since you know, if it could cut chicken fat, it should be able to cut though Vaseline.

Nope. In fact, we learned from the next site that by putting water on the Vaseline, we'd made the removal process even more difficult.

Another site swore that patting cornstarch onto every affected area of the hair (in our case, the whole head) would be 99% effective (or at least 97%) because the Vaseline would bind to the cornstarch and then remove easily when washed out. This was extremely messy, but the messiness seemed encouraging, as if something so hard just could not fail.

It helped, but was definitely not 99% effective, or even 97%. Maybe 30%.

I took my exhausted, overwashed, yet still very greasy girl home. She fell asleep in the car so I just put her in bed and when she woke up, her pillow was stained with Vaseline grease. Ick.

The next day, recharged with a mission, I got online again. I learned some more interesting facts about Vaseline and hair. First of all, Vaseline is apparently an effective method of ridding oneself of lice and I could feel good that my child would surely be nit free. However, the next posting on this topic stated a serious warning in ALL CAPS. It said something like:


All day I fought off the urge to call daycare and warn them to keep T away from flames.

That evening, F (G's mom) called me with the cure. Cornstarch on a dry head and then add Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo, leave on for 30 minutes and voila!

It was close. I did it twice and at least T's head didn't leave stains anymore after brushing against things. I'd give it a good 85% effective.

So four days later we're still greasy enough to be able to mold her braids Pippi Longstocking-style, but getting closer. T has endured about 8 hours of hair washing so far this week (not the most fave activity of this particular two-year old) and I can pretty much feel very comfortable that the next time she sees an open jar of Vaseline, she'll stay very far away.

And luckily, it wasn't scissors.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

michelangelo or mr. incredible?

We went all-American today.

It was really out of sheer desperation. I was all set to spend our afternoon at the Sistine Chapel and to go check out Michelangelo’s ceiling, but the kids wouldn’t bite. We’d already spent an hour with S, practicing his letters, and T had practiced writing Os, and I felt desperate to get out and see a bit more before going home next week. I tried everything.

“You get to see what this artist thought G-d looked like. How many people get to see that?” I asked.

But S said, “Mommy, nobody knows what G-d looks like. You know that.” He looked disgusted with me.

Strike one.

“Okay,” I said, “But you get to see pretty pictures of angels,” I said. “Who doesn’t like angels?”

“Ugh, no more angels! I can’t stand anymore angels!”

He had a point. We’d seen so many statues and paintings of angels during our visit so far that they were really becoming a dime a dozen. But I wasn't ready to give up.

“They look like cute babies,” I appealed to T. “You love babies.”

“Ugh,” she said, copying S.

Strike two.

“Come on, you guys! It’s the Sistine Chapel! When you’re in Rome, you have to see the Sistine Chapel! It’s Michelangelo!”

They looked at me like I was crazy. Obviously, strike three.

“I know,” said S. “Let’s go to the Disney Store. We saw it from the bus the other day.”

“We can’t go to the Disney Store in Rome,” I said. “You can do that anytime at home. Besides, it’s a super long walk.”

“I’ll walk,” S said.

So in the end, I gave in. T fell asleep immediately in the stroller and S and I walked the forty minutes to the Disney store and then forty minutes back. We passed Piazza Venezia and the presidential building. We talked about the captured obelisks and the war columns and spoils. We talked about how little Italian cars are compared to American cars. We passed by the Museum of Art and talked about painting and different artists, like Miro (who is on exhibit at the MOA) and Michelangelo, and how S got to present his watercolor at the graduate drawing review that morning along with the rest of the class when he visited the studio with his dad. S told me about how proud he felt when the professor told him he liked his broad strokes and abstract design, pinned up his painting on the wall, and then asked him which of the students’ work he liked best. S walked the whole way, there and back, without a single complaint.

“Maybe we could go see more art,” S conceded, carrying the package with the over-priced, plastic Mr. Incredible that he’d purchased with his allowance.

“Hey, maybe we could go to the museum tomorrow,” I said.

“Okay,” S said. “But I’m still not going to look at any more angels.” He paused. “And can we go to McDonald’s and get shakes, too?”

“Don’t push it.”

He shrugged. “Okay, as long as we stay away from angels, I’m good.”

Thursday, November 10, 2005


After the last post, I received some email requesting a photo of Ozzie, so here he is in all his glory. Note his pink neck. This is not because he's a poodle, despite the fact that T does not believe Ozzie is a "poodoo" because he is not pink.

S has pretty much been pleading nonstop for me to call his doctor to have him tested for "ploodoes" (okay, it's one thing to not correct the two-year old, but it is cruel not to correct a five-year-old, isn't it? Even if his version is so much cuter?) the second we get back.

"Really?" I asked. "You actually want the doctor to give you a scratch test?" S shares a healthy fear of needles, as do most of his five and under friends.

But he said earnestly, "I'd do anything for a dog. I promise I'll walk him and feed him and take care of him. I can do it."

I have a serious fear that I'll fall down the same path as many other parents and believe S (even though as a rational person and parent, I know that it's just not possible for a five year old to do that much), and that based on the results of this scratch test, I may have another small pink mouth to feed in the next year.

Monday, November 07, 2005

gelato holiday

The kids and I are in Rome for six weeks while B teaches architecture in a program with the University. Italy is amazing and we are having an amazing time, but traveling with two small children is so much different than I’d ever expected. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t traveled internationally since having kids, or perhaps it’s because I was just so overwhelmingly ecstatic about the potentials of Italian shopping (think shoes, shoes, shoes, plus a nice leather bag here or there), or perhaps I’d just imagined my kids to be these wordly little people, ready to take on anything. I imagined the three of us waking up everyday to take on Rome. We’d picnic in the Forum, study Italian for a few hours, lunch on panini, perhaps a bit of a nap before a gelato, and then immerse ourselves in Italian culture, dining late at night (with kids—they do that here) and strolling the streets.

Here’s my parenting lesson for the year. Wake up.

Three weeks into our trip, after bus trips through Tuscany and Southern Italy, after countless piazzas, palazzos, and duomos, after ferries, islands, beaches, and fountains, when asked what his favorite part of Italy is so far, my five year old son says, “I like the way the ice cream tastes.”

This is not a random answer. You can ask him this question any time of day and he’ll say, “Is it time for gelato yet?” Since we’re doing some home schooling on this trip, we’ve decided to incorporate gelato into his lessons (spelling/reading gelato flavors, fractions (how much of one flavor do you have if you get three flavors instead of two), and math. S is keeping a journal of his trip, but his crowning achievement is the last page of his journal where he’s keeping an inventory of how many gelatos he’s had and which flavors he’s had most. Luckily he’s a skinny kid, but I hope his teachers don’t turn us in to CPS for nutritional deprivation.

S’s other great Italian love is Ozzie, the dog of the directors’ of the Rome Program. Somehow, miraculously, S, who is so allergic to dogs, is not allergic to Ozzie, and perhaps because of this, and perhaps because Ozzie is fourteen years old and extremely patient, S is madly and obsessively in love. He even overlooks the fact that Ozzie has some sort of rare skin disease and is missing patches of fur all over his body.

“When we get a dog,” S says the other day, “let’s get one just like Ozzie.”

“A poodle?” I asked.

“No, one with those patches of fur like Ozzie has.”

I guess I could promise him that because we’re not getting a dog. I feel successful each night the kids are fed and bathed and in bed. I can’t do that for a dog.

Though, to be fair, and I’m truly not a dog person, but Ozzie’s face is so cute, he looks like a muppet.

Not that we aren’t having a fabulous time, but somehow my children inherently know they’re not Italian (imagine that!). They get crabby in the evenings, can’t wait until 8pm to eat dinner with the rest of the bambinos, and somehow, they can’t keep their clothes neat and clean like the Italian kids here who all seem impeccably dressed at all times. I’m okay with all that, but it did take some getting used to that life in Italy with children is very much like life in the U.S. with children, just Italian style. Instead of the Pacific Science Center, we see the Coliseum or the Pantheon (“Wow, big building. Can we get gelato now?”), but we have to see them just as quickly as anything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s spectacular.

Though, S did have a definite moment at the ancient Greek temples in Paestum, where, after running around and chasing lizards for almost an hour while we all sat and had a picnic and gazed at the ruins, he was actually stopped for a second by the sight of one of the temples.

“Hey, did you guys see that building? It’s cool.”

He actually sat down with the rest of the architecture students and sketched and then painted an amazing picture of the temple at sunset. And then announced that he’d become an architect, too, someday.

Maybe he’ll design a gelato store.

Monday, July 18, 2005

freaky sunday

Last night I had one of those moments when you realize that, despite all your best efforts, you are turning into your parents.

I told S that he should be happy to be a kid. "You don't know how good you've got it," I told him.

I uttered those exact words.

And you know who uttered them before me? Of course you do. My parents to me, my grandparents to my parents, I'm sure my great-grandparents to my grandparents (though in Russian and I don't know how to translate the phrase, but if I did, I would) and so on and so on.

I've joined the ranks of grown-ups who just don't understand anything.

We were celebrating my step-dad's birthday and during pie and ice cream, S declared that he didn't want to go to school because it was just too boring. So B told him he'd gladly trade places with him and he could show up at the architecture firm and B would go to preschool. Their conversation was priceless and couldn't have been better if planned. I wished I'd had a tape recorder, but I may try to get them redo it (though I know it could never be as good). Anyway, S was telling us what his day looked like...

First you have free playtime, then you have to go to circle time where you have to sit still and listen, but then you can sing songs sometimes, but you can't talk whenever you want to or you have to leave the circle. Then you get snack and some outside playtime, which is the best, but you can't take the balls away from the girls or you have to go see the principal (I didn't know the preschool actually had a principal, but I'm thinking that this part was made up after reading the Junie B. Jones books).

Then you come in and have lunch, "and you can't say anything bad about it no matter how gross it is," said S, "because Marianne worked really hard to make it." (I've tried telling him the same thing about the dinners we have at home, but S always gives me an incredulous look like what I've just placed before him just could not have taken that much work.)

Then you have naptime, and you have to hold really still and pretend you're sleeping, but because you're five, you're just too big to nap. And then you wake up and have art, more playtime, more outside time and then you finally, finally get to go home.

Sounds rough. Especially that nap part. So then I said those words. S looked at me like I was crazy (especially since he's pretty sure that I spend my day at work eating tater tots and Cheetos and drinking chocolate milk while playing computer games, which is how he spent the day when he came to work with me last month). B looked shocked, as if he'd seen that I'd gone beyond a certain unsaveable grown-up point. And my mother smirked. I'd joined the ranks.

The next thing you know, I'll be drinking pink wine with ice cubes in it.

(To J, this is what you've got coming to you!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

what success looks like...

Yesterday S dunked his head in the water 7 times! This is big. This is huge and monumental.
Because S hates getting water in his eyes.
In the shower or bath, washing his hair is a chore that includes regular towel dabs to his eyes in order to get through rinses. And not only does he need those dabs, they're accompanies by piercing shrieks and screams.
"I've got water in my eyes! You did it to me again, Mommy!"
or just simply...
"Water in eyes, water in eyes!!!!"
And T has started doing it, too, even though she doesn't mind the water that much, but because her little sister status necessitates that she do whatever S does.

Needless to say, learning to swim has been very, very difficult because it really is quite a challenge to swim without getting your face wet.

I've tried a lot of different approaches to get him to swim. I've spent countless hours in the pool coaching, "paddle, paddle, paddle, kick, kick, kick." I've told him how much I love to swim and let him ride on my back in the pool. I've told him that he needed to swim in order to be safe, in order to go to kindergarten (okay, that's not exactly true, but I'm going to use peer pressure to my advantage for as long as possible), and I even tried to tell him that if he didn't start swimming soon, T was going to learn before him. That gave him a shiver, but he got over it.
"That's okay," he said. "I don't like getting my face wet."

So then I had no other choice. I committed the cardinal sin of parenting.

Warning: Those of you perfect parents out there may want to stop reading at this point.

I bribed my young son. With toys. Trashy ones. B was appalled.

"Listen," I told S. "You have to learn how to swim. If you learn to swim across the pool, I'll buy you anything you want." B gasped. But I felt confident in S's love for small, inexpensive, plastic toys. I could bribe him with the world at that price. And really, when you think about it, what is really wrong with offering a little extra incentive? I mean, I wouldn't continue to show up at work everyday if I weren't offered a monetary incentive, no matter how intellectually stimulating it is sometimes or how many free sodas I'm offered.

"I could get a Dash?" He asked. For those of you who aren't in the know, Dash is Dashiell Robert Parr, Incredible and Boy Super. "I really want Dash, but that's too hard," S said.

I took a breath. "Okay," I told him, "if you can dunk your head in the water as many times to feel comfortable, you can have a Dash. And when you can swim across the pool, you can have the rest of The Incredibles." B groaned.

So we headed out to the pool and though S didn't seem sure about this whole plan, he first watched B dunk himself and then he took a deep breath and dunked his own self under the water with his dad. And when he came up, he sputtered and wiped his eyes and smiled. And then he did it again and again. And there was no mention the whole time of Dash or any of his plastic family members, just a lot of shrieking, "Hey! Watch this!" as S when under again and again. S suddenly felt too big to play in the wading pool with T and wanted to practice his kicking. And then he even jumped off the side of the pool into our arms, making huge splashes that got into everyone's eyes. He was amazed by himself and of what he could do. First a dunk, and then who knows what would be next? He was proud of himself and I felt triumphant.

Later that night, after tucking both S and Dash into bed, we told him again how proud we were of him. He smiled, pleased with himself. And then, as we turned out the light and said goodnight, S sat up and said, "Mommy, I know that if I swim across the pool, I get the rest of the Incredibles, but I bet I could really get a lot if I swam across and back!"

Thursday, April 28, 2005


At about 3pm yesterday, I called B up at work and asked him about the 3pm Dinner Preparation Obsession (hereby called 3-DPO) and his response was...

"I never think about it. You do."

So I said, "You never think about it because I do? Well, what if I didn't?"

"Well, if you didn't, I would. Do you want me to?"

"Yeah, I totally want you to. What's for dinner tonight?"

"Um," he said. "I'm actually not going to be home. I've got a meeting until 7pm and won't be home until 7:30. But I can bring something home afterwards. Should I do that?"

"But the kids will be in bed already by the time you get home," I said. "Will we have to wake them up to give them dinner? Do you think they could last that long?"

"Yeah, we'd have to wake them up for dinner. They might not be too happy about going to bed unfed. Maybe you should figure something out for them."

"So I guess I'm figuring out dinner tonight."

"I guess so. What are you going to make?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

mango me

The UPS guy, a young college guy, knocked on the door in the middle of the kids' dinner of mango and frozen matzah pizza and he kept looking at my chest. I gave him a dirty look... I mean, I had two kids hanging on me and he'd totally disrupted dinner, which was a fragile set-up, anway. The pizza had turned out to be the biggest let down after I'd hugely built it up ("Hey you guys! We get to have pizza on Passover! How great is that???) , and the kids were too tired and crabby to eat much, anyway. But I have to admit, I was the tiniest bit flattered, too. So I signed for my package, got the kids back to dinner and went on with my evening. It wasn't until I'd put the kids to bed that I noticed a huge, gooey gob of orange mango sticking out of my shirt. Who knows how it even managed to get there.

I turned 34 yesterday and I feel it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

down home coffee and research

I'm back at work. Full-time. And my life is crazy all over again, but instead of just being incredibly hard, it's actually pretty interesting, and exciting, too. Oh yeah... And it's really, really hard.

I'm back at the same place as before, same type of web publishing role, but a different job that I am really enjoying. A good part-time job never panned out and as our savings started dwindling, this opportunity came up and it felt great to take a job I really wanted instead of one I simply just really needed. Sometimes throughout the day I realize that I'm feeling very energized, and yes, it could be the gallons of coffee that I'm back to consuming, but it also could be that I feel happy and driven and good.

I'm committed to not feeling guilty about being back full-time and not being home wth the kids. But being committed doesn't necessarily mean I've hit success yet. I think I shouldn't have to feel guilty because it's glorious to have good health benefits and to not have to buy groceries on a credit card. I think it's amazing to not fight with B about why he paid the bills before they were absolutely due or not feel guilty about buying the name brand Gardenburgers for the kids (they're really so much better) instead of the gnarly generic ones. And I shouldn't feel guilty for enjoying my time at work instead of being miserable because I have to be there.

But guilt is really slimy and I do feel it.
The kids are still adjusting to being back at daycare full-time and they come home sad, whiny, and clingy. And I come home tired. I've been really careful to not bring home work unless I absolutely have to, and I try to come back ready to totally invest in my evenings with them. But they're so hungry by the time they get home and the thought of giving them a nice, home-cooked meal seems impossible. And I must really be turning into a full-fledged mother (instead of the poser "See me mother!" feeling I've carried around for the past four years) because everyday at about 3pm, I start obsessing about what I'm going to make for dinner. Not that actually cooking dinner is an option. It's more like preparing dinner. Or providing dinner. And sometimes dinner is just downright weird, like the time I totally burnt the halibut and once I realized how awful it was, I had to pull the plates away from the kids ("It's not THAT bad, Mommy," S had said sweetly) and replace them with bowls of cereal.

I wonder why B never obsesses about what he'll provide for dinner... I'll have to ask him about that.

There must be a way to figure this out. Maybe I'll have to start cooking on the weekends and freezing meal portions. Or maybe research a great take-out delivery place. I'm good at research.

All in all, I really think I'm doing the right thing for now. Just got to keep up coffee and research.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

in the ring...

Now that I'm seriously in limbo between being a stay at home mom and a work outside the home mom, I have one big question...

Why is there so much division between both groups? I just read a poll in a parenting magazine where one reader said that she couldn't see the point in having children if you were just going to hand them over to daycare to raise them.

Hand them over?!

I went back to work full-time when S was four months old because I had no choice. B was in graduate school and we needed at least one income. I knew before getting pregnant that I would have to work once my baby was born and it was worth it to me to be able to start my family, even though I would have to continue working. And to be honest, since I was living in a new city without many friends, no family, and because his graduate program was so intense, even B was spending nights in his studio at school, I absolutely appreciated having the support of S's teachers at daycare to help me figure out the basics of parenting. I mean, of course I read a lot and followed my instincts, but in the infant room, I had a built in community that otherwise would've been absent in my life. I missed my baby terribly while I was at work, but I was careful to separate work from home life and I was lucky to be able to leave the office everyday by 4pm. And I truly believe that children can benefit from a well-chosen, loving daycare environment that fits their needs and personalities.

When T was born, I also went back to work when she was four months old. B was new to his field and we couldn't afford to live off his income and stay in the city we lived in. Also, since by this time both my brother's family and my parents had moved up here, moving to another city wasn't a real option. I loved the idea of giving my children a supportive extended family environment and didn't want to move. However, this time it was much harder to go back because I knew I was missing a lot of T's babyhood and those delicious milestones, and it wasn't as easy to push the idea of staying at home out of my mind. I found myself mourning for my children and feeling resentful of my job because it was taking me away from them, even though on a day to day basis, professionally, I was doing something I really enjoyed. But coming home to divide the last three hours of my children's day between dinner, baths, bedtime rituals, and then try to give each of them a tiny bit of individual attention was beginning to feel impossible. And this didn't even include trying to buy groceries, put together a meal from those groceries, and pick up the house a little. And then once I put the kids to bed, I often had to get back online and do more work to keep up with my colleagues.

The whole thing was tearing me apart. Missing my kids was tearing me up, but also loved the satisfaction I got from my job. I felt guilty about pretty much everything.

I admit, I did underestimate how difficult it is to stay home full-time. And I am officially apologizing to all those SAHMs for either secretly or not-so-secretly believing that their lives were easier than mine. I know now that they're not easier. It's really hard to keep up at the parenting ideals I'd always strived for when I'm with my children all day. While adhering to the "No TV During the Week" rule was easy while I was working full-time and the TV wasn't a temptation, it is infinitely more difficult now that I crave just five minutes to myself during the day, especially now that S has given up his nap (Okay, okay, he is four and a half and truly ready to give up that nap, but I miss it!). My kids drink more juice and eat more sugar than they used to and there have been days when we're still in our pajamas at noon. But it's been wonderful, too. The kids seem calmer and less clingy. They've always been happy kids, but I know they're happy to be at home more.

But what is easier about staying at home is that I actually feel more like myself, even if I'm doing less that is about me. This is intensely freeing. When I was putting in long hours at work, I would rarely make plans in the evenings or on the weekends because I didn't want to miss a minute I could be spending with my family. I hoarded that time, but I'm not sure it was all that healthy of a thing to do. Our relationships with our friends suffered and I suffered. I could never enjoy an evening out because I missed the kids too much. I felt like it was unfair of me to leave them unless they were asleep. And because I never had time to myself, I was cranky and overtired, and I am absolutely sure it affected the way I parented. Now that I've got time with the kids, I love my time away from them as well. I feel calmer and I parent more calmly. At least sometimes.

All this is well and good. But it still doesn't work. And this is where I feel torn and in limbo. I cannot afford to stay home full-time unless we move to the suburbs, and B and I aren't willing to do that. We don't want to take our kids away from their family, from the theatre and cultural events we don't take them to often enough, and from the general hubbub of the city we love. B is an architect and his job is here. The work he wants is here. And so we're back to trying to figure out how to make this work. Right now, we're living as cheaply as possible, but we're still not making it. And I'm telling you, we are not the kind of people who live large. We've never owned a new car, we shop at consignment stores, we still have the $30 couch we bought in graduate school (at a consignment store) and we rarely eat out. We have savings, but they won't last forever (or for long) and I've just got to go back to work. Ideally, I'll find something flexible and/or part-time. I want to be able to keep S from having to go to after school care and I'd love for T to only have to go to daycare part time. But I've been looking for this perfect situation for a long time now and I haven't found it.

I read all the time in magazines, articles, blogs, and I even hear it from some of my friends, that being a working parent is a selfish and pointless thing to do. But I find that whole crusade pointless, too. There are people that have to work in this world. Healthcare and insurance are prohibitively expensive and if I'm having trouble mustering up the funds for these, I can't even imagine how low income families are managing it. And what about life and dental insurance? What about college? Or what about even extra-curricular activities? Am I having trouble financially because my expectations are too high? Should I give up city living and move to the suburbs? And really, how can it be pointless to have a working mom when the children are very much wanted, in a loving home where they're well-cared for, adored, and wholly appreciated as the blessings they are? Where is the pointlessness in that? And where is the pointlessness in showing my children that mothers can be both a nurturing provider and a powerful presence in the business world?

And you know what? I miss working outside the home. I really do. I miss the thrill of coming up with new solutions or ideas for projects at work, I miss the satisfaction of seeing one of my pieces go live, and I miss the intellectual comradery. I admit it, and I feel guilty. But I do know that a good balance between work and parenting would make me a better parent.

Going back to work feels a tiny bit easier now that my kids are getting closer to grade school, but I'll be back to where I started if we decide to go ahead and have a third child. This tug of war is endless and I'm exhausted by it, but the fact that some parents feel the need to pit one side against another is painful to me. Since I've been home, I've made it a point to support my working parent friends by taking their kids every once in a while or calling them up on the way to the store to see if they needed anything. I feel grateful that I've got a tiny bit more leeway in my schedule (shockingly, though, it really is only a tiny bit.) And I hope that when I go back to work, I can support my friends who stay home in some way, too, maybe by giving them a break on the weekend, or doing an errand for them at the same time I'm doing one for myself. Or just getting out together in the evenings. Something. The point is that parenting is difficult either way you choose to spend your day and we all need some help.

I think the choice to either stay at home or work outside the home is an intensely personal choice, and it's one that should be respected without judgement. Parenting is a glorious, yet exhausting profession, and I don't know a parent who couldn't use a break at one point or another. It's a hard job that is often thankless, but it's one to feel grateful for. And the only thing more shameful than passing judgement on another family, is teaching children that passing judgement on others who are trying to do their best is an acceptable thing to do.

(stepping off my soap-box. phew!)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

happy happy birthday

T turned two today and though I fear the terribles with her in a way I cannot even begin to explain, I mostly feel so emotional. Before I had kids, I never imagined that my children's birthdays would be such a contemplative and introspective day for me, but they have been since S's first when I was so grateful to have gotten through the first year of motherhood with sanity still apparently intact--at least from the outside.

All day long I found myself keeping tabs with my day two years ago.

8:20am: At this time two years ago, I was having contractions in the doctor's office and at 42 weeks, she thrilled me with the news that I'd be having my baby soon. (Oh, those ripe full-termers are so naive. Of course I'd be having a baby soon. I was two weeks late and my gestation was beginning to compete with that of an elephant.)

9:30am:Suddenly in active labor at the doctor's office. Dr. whispers to B to get to the hospital pronto, but try not to do anything illegal.

9:50am:Looking for parking at the hospital. Am trying not to vomit on floor of the new family-sized car. After dumping out the ice on the street at a red light, B hands me an empty cup, just in case.

9:55am:Still looking for parking.

10:00am:Finally get B to concede to valet parking. The thought of expelling either vomit or baby is too much to deal with in new car.

10:10am:Must groan and scream while crouching down on floor of elevator on the way to labor and delivery in order to get through a contraction. Am aware enough to see that the older man in elevator is not comfortable with my grunts.

10:13am:B tells receptionist and L&D that I need an epidural now. "That's what they all say when they get here," she tells him.

10:15am:Am taken to the wrong room. Must try again. Can barely walk.

10:17am:Have taken off clothes, put on hospital gown, and am begging for an epidural.

10:20am:While nurse fumbles with IV, contrax are so strong, I can't even hold still to let her get the needle in. I tell her I need to push and she tells me to hold on.

10:25am:I tell the nurse again that I need to push and she checks me, tells B that there will be no epidural (hey, why didn't she tell that to me?!), and rings a bell that fills the room with what seems to be a million people in scrubs.

10:30am:We still have not been officially admitted to the hospital yet. However, with two pushes, T slides into the world. She's short and sassy, with a lovely chubby tummy and thighs. She takes one long look around her, and while I wonder whether or not she's going to let out a wail, she lets out a bloodcurdling scream that takes everyone's breath away. And then she stops just as quickly as she started. She's rosy and perfect and lovely.

When I was pregnant with T, I hoped and prayed she'd be a girl. I felt so guilty about wanting her to not be a boy, but I wanted a daughter so badly. I wanted that relationship, and though I realize that all mother-daughter relationships aren't perfect by any means, I wanted another female in our family. I wanted more than a co-conspirator, or someone to shop with and do girly things with. I suppose I wanted a chance to help raise a strong woman and put a powerful voice into this world.

I know that's a lot of pressure for my two-year old. But if anyone is up to the challenge, it's T for sure. Each day, I'm more and more delighted and in love with this sassy and spirited girl. She is terribly cute and flirty, but she's also one of the most powerful people I know. She's reasonable and sweet, but she makes herself heard and understood, even if she's still mostly pre-verbal, and she does this without screaming or having a fit (most of the time). She holds her own with her older brother and cousin, and we often get reports back from daycare with stories of her defending them from bullies of the toddler and preschool sort. If someone steps in her way, she'll either shrug them off and laugh or she'll stand her ground, and I just pray that she'll be able to hold on to this skill through her adult years. She loves to be around other people and is a truly affectionate child, with the strongest hugs for a tiny girl.

I'm not sure any of the wonderful aspects of motherhood aren't corny and I know this post is verging on painful. While singing Happy Birthday to her this evening, I had to stop in the middle because I got so choked up. The truth is, I've always cried during Happy Birthday, even when I was a kid at my friends' parties, but holding T and watching her sing to herself and then pucker up her lips in practiced anticipation, I just couldn't get over how lucky I am to have her in my life.

Happy Birthday, Miss Bee... You truly are the icing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

what fits in her nose?

Today T stuck a huge piece of bread up her nose.

"Eeewwww, it's a huge boogie!" S cackled, and thrilled with his response, T tried to stick it further in. Then she tried to stick a piece up her other nostril. This is all within the confines of her carseat, where I couldn't get to her while driving. I am sure she mistook my shrieks from the front seat for encouragement.

I've heard stories about kids sticking things up their noses, but I've never actually seen it happen. I actually never really believed it could happen. It sounds so uncomfortable that even a toddler shouldn't want it. In fact, I seem to remember said toddler vehemently refusing nasal drops or aspirators in her nose just months ago. Perhaps it's one of those things that's better done yourself?

T is into absolutely everything. She'll climb on anything, try anything, attempt to steal a toy from anyone, is hardly ever scared when she should be, and apparently, she'll stick things up her nose. I'm already terrified for her teenage years.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

not even one original thought...

I've been officially unemployed now for five weeks, which is exactly three weeks longer than my over-confident self expected to be jobless. And since I allowed my morale to be boosted by my mother and B, who both pretty much said they expected me to have a good job within a few days, maybe I was delusional. Anyway, I'm embracing joblessness and have made a long list of things I could do if nobody ever calls me back for a second interview. Here are a few of them:

  1. Learn SQL and build a SQL server database for B's new business plan (there is always a new business plan). Plus, if business doesn't take off and reward us with billions of dollars, I could always add the SQL skills to my resume.

  2. Open an eBay store and sell off all of our junk, as well as all of my friends' junk. Since Entrepreneur magazine said this is one 13 Hot Businesses of 2005, maybe I could pay for daycare.

  3. Start blogging about the trials and tribulations of deciding whether or not to be a stay at home mom or to go back to work. Maybe try to sell some of the articles.

And idea #3 is what made me realize, officially, that I'm behind the tide once again.

My friend, Ally, and I always laugh about how our ideas constantly come too late. In college, while finishing up our degrees and dreaming about what our future families would look like, we talked about how we thought it'd be okay and not demeaning to stay at home with our kids, despite what our feminist mothers taught us. We thought that guys who opened doors for us were charming, not condescending, and we liked when they paid for the date.

"We're so okay with feminism, we're past it. We're post-feminists," we told ourselves. And then of course, we found out shortly afterwards that the term had already been coined many, many years earlier. Sigh...

While trying to come up with babynames during our pregnancies, we were looking for hip, original names that wouldn't require our children to tack on the initials of their last names to their nametags at schools. Everything we loved was later found in Pottery Barn catalogs and both of our sons ended up with names that made it onto the top ten lists.

And today when I woke up, B handed me my favorite section of the NY Times and I saw the article, Mommy (and Me). Now I knew there were a lot of people blogging about parenting, and I read a lot of blogs about parenting, too, including Heather B. Armstrong's blog,, which is great (and you can nominate it for a the Bloggies if you think it's a good as I do). And maybe this is naive of me, but I just didn't realize that everyone was blogging about their parenting experiences--that there are perhaps more parents blogging about this than not blogging about it. And maybe most of the parent bloggers are the readers for other parent blogs. I know writing about parenting isn't a new thing at all. I'm not sure it's a bad thing that we're all writing about it, either, but it sure makes it harder to stand out.

And that's the thing that struck me most about the article... It talks negatively about the parent blogger's need to stand out and validate his or her existence. Maybe it's true, but who doesn't need some validation? Especially when it comes to parenting in this totally child-centered world where taking your tantrum prone two-year old is stressful, not just because they might throw a fit, but because as a mother, your method of dealing with the tantrum will most likely be judged by the other parents on the playground. (I always picture them holding up score placards after the scene, the way they do with gymnastics performances.) And especially right now, while I'm not working outside the home (Like my SAHM-speak? I'm trying it out...). My kids are delicious, but they have never said, "Hey Mommy, good job on discplining me after I hit my brother for the umpteenth time. You're going to really help me to become a great person someday." And as loving as B is, I bet he'll never come home and say, "Wow, those kids are really looking nurtured and well-bred today!" I could use an outlet and perhaps, yes, some validation from time to time.

Ayelet Waldman is quoted in the article and she says it best. She says that "[a] blog like this is narcissism in its most obscene flowering. But it's necessary. As a parent your days are consumed by other people's needs. This is payback for driving back and forth to gymnastics all week long."

Yes, a little payback goes a long way.

And can I just say, I was psyched to see that she has a blog, too. Bad Mother is a good read.

I'm not sure I care who and how many people read these entries, but for the short time that I spend writing them, I get to concentrate on me. And since most of my day is absolutely not about meeting my needs, blogging seems even more important. Knowing that I need some time to myself to be a better parent, writing about parenthood even seems like a responsible thing to do.

I haven't been a prolific blogger, but I think that may be about to change. And I suppose I'm okay with being one of the crowd again.