Lift Off

I love being a mother.  How many times do I start like that?  You all must sick to death of it.  But oh my, she is just about the cutest thing.  Proof.

You guys, we have just barely squeaked out alive from a terrible visit from my family.  A visit wherein her grandmother further demonstrated that she doesn’t know how to relate to a long-distance child and is often heartless (as demonstrated by their rottweiler practically killing the cat.  Twice.).  RR, she’s your grandmother, and we have to love her, but she is crazy.

But we’re down one 150 lb. rottweiler and a whole lot of crazy.  AND RR crawled from one side of her room to the door.  Friends, she CRAWLED.  I am so excited.  She cried the whole way but when I picked her up she said, as she has been saying any time one of us picks her up, mamama.  I could just die.

 

RR and Her Ways

As you all know, RR is fabulously reticent.  If fabulously means angrily and reticent means sobbing.  Okay, that’s a tiny exaggeration, but yes, mom, she has been this stranger-shy since she was born.  And no, she was actually this way when you saw her last summer, those howls you ignored were actually her way of telling you she’d like to see her mamas now.  PLEASE.  Oh granny, you crazy thing, you.  GIVE ME MY MAMAS.

But!  She’s getting better!  If better means silently, sternly watching you for any hint that you might attempt to cuddle her, sobs tucked right behind those pouting lips.  We left her at daycare the other day with someone we’d never seen before and managed to leave before the thunderclouds had fully gathered.  This isn’t actually different from normal. We accept that this is our little nugget of tears and assume that you’re not taking it personally.  What was different was that woman we left her with.

I’d never seen her before in my life.

A few days ago, I’d have told you that I was pretty easy-going about daycare.  But we’ve been taking this child to school since August and we walk down the hall and say hello to the teachers and substitutes come into RR’s room and we know them and they all know her name.  They know about her.  And her ways.  This woman was happily sitting on the floor and while there was another set of parents there, they seemed unfazed by her presence. However, since their boy is nicknamed Dennis the Menace (for good reason), I doubt they were exactly worried about him.  This woman didn’t know RR’s name but did seem to know about her.  And her ways.  But I watched my daughter turn from a grinning fool to a tiny time-bomb and I knew the right thing to do was to ask the woman who she was. But I didn’t.  I left my child there, clouding up.  As she does.

By the time I got to the end of the hall, I was uncomfortable enough that we waited for a staff member we recognized and she verified that she knew the person in that room.  Can you believe I still wasn’t quite satisfied?  She had only called.  She didn’t see her.  And then I sat there at work, wondering if that woman, blessed with a bit more self than your average person, could haul my baby under one arm and flee Dennis the Menace fast enough to get to the chain link fence and clamber over before anyone could see her. That’s when I realized I was easy-going if easy-going means silently lying in wait waiting to chew up and swallow evil-doers in one gulp.  With my sharp teeth.

I wonder what else I’m easy-going about?

Not You Guys

Going on my list of things not to say to parents:  “Oh just wait, you’re so eager for her to crawl (walk, talk, etc. etc.) and as soon as she does you’ll just want her to stay still (stop, be quiet, etc.)”

You guys aren’t surprised cause you know us by now, but saying things like that doesn’t make us like you any better.  Not you of course, those other guys.  My daughter is nine months old.  It’s time for her to gain some independence.  Put something into her mouth on her own.  Hold her own bottle.  Crawl.  She’s a perfect little human, but her playmates are outpacing her and she is getting – literally – run over.  And I don’t actually want to have an infant for years and years.  I love that she’s getting bigger, older and learning more skills.  Sure, Babyville is wonderful and I’ll be a bit nostalgic when we move into Toddlerhood but holy cow, how much fun will that be?!  We are sucking every last bit of goodness out of her tiny, gummy, immobile self.  So stash those good intentions.  No need to tell us how much we’ll miss this her.  We will totally miss this baby but we’ll be so busy happily keeping up with the new one, the fond memories will be just that.

Not you of course, those other guys.

Speaking of other guys, Grannie and Pop Pop (I’m trying to make those happen, but I don’t know if it’s working) are visiting and we’re at the beginning of a two and a half week stretch.  Leaving aside for a minute the fact that RR still hasn’t warmed up to them (sigh), I’m delighted they are here for spring and at a point where she is on the tippy edge of Amazing.  A tooth bump, I’m sure of it.  Hands and knees in the crib.  Scooting backward at school.  All those things have happened in the last few days and I’m sure we are on the brink of a truckload of new skills.  People, she actually bit down on a piece of watermelon.  Crazy.

You know what, I had no idea I could love anything as much as I love our family.  I’m crazy caught up in them.  I feel like I can tell you all that because you won’t judge me for being so completely sappy.  Or at least, you’ll do so from over there, which, I totally get that.  I’ve been there.

Speaking of crazy in love, check in on Linus will you?  He, Simon, Dexter and mamas are the picture of it.

 

Invisible Wolverines?

So tell me – why is my child no longer sleeping through the night?

My blissful sleeper, never a problem, minimal fusser, now cries two or three times a night.  She’ll go immediately back to sleep if you stick a pacifier in her mouth.  Which we do.  We don’t pick her up or talk to her or turn on a light.  In and out and back to sleep she goes.  If we ignore her, she cries harder and then becomes inconsolable.  THAT takes actual soothing and I’m so not up for that at 12am and 2am.

So what is it?  She eats a huge solid dinner at 630 and then naps till 8 and has a bottle.  Back to sleep she goes.  There is no stopping the nap-which-is-not-sleep since she wakes up happy for about an hour at 8 before going back down.  Totally different from wake-ups at night.  At seven months, she has no teeth or teeth bumps.  She will be a toothless old woman at the age of 2.

Could she be cold?  Could she be hungry?  Could there be hidden, invisible teeth?  Could there be hidden, invisible wolverines eating her toes?  I’m inclined to leave well enough alone and suffer the wake-ups since she has been a sleep through the nighter for weeks at a time in the past.  People, please advise.

 

Addict

If you asked me what the most complicated thing in my life was, I’d tell you Books.  That’s probably unreasonable, I can hear you thinking it.  You’re probably skeptically wondering: What about that bathroom that you can barely squeeze your rear AND your left arm into?  Or how bout that pesky dichotomy between all the things you want to throw out and all the things she wants to save?  Or maybe the therapy.  Those things should be enough to win the Complicated Olympics but they are all sad sore losers compared to Books.

  • Once, a wall of bookshelves collapsed nearing smashing the cat.  Think cats have a sixth sense?  They do.
  • The government shipped 6000 lbs of my possessions back from Africa.  2900 lbs were books and their boxes/packing.  2900 POUNDS.
  • At one point we had eight different styles of bookshelves.
  • I have read all of these books multiple times, except for the two promotional draft copies my mother sent me of poorly written ghost-romance.
  • I am constantly getting rid of books.  CONSTANTLY.
  • Every childhood memory involves a book somewhere.  No, really.  that time my mother tried to show me how to shave my legs but gave up because she didn’t know how to shave her own?  I consoled myself with The Sick of Being Sick Book.  I was sick of something all right.
  • Every time my mother sends a threatening What Do You Want When I Die email, I panic thinking that I’ll forget a critical book and she’ll toss it.  Great great great grandfather’s school desk?  Forget it.  Wait…  did he leave a book in it?

And so on.

My wife gave me a Kindle for my birthday.  Before receiving one I thought that it would be a rarely used gadget.  I assumed my love for Books went beyond the words and slipped headlong into paper smells, pages fluttering.  It turns out, that it’s mostly words with me, at least now, and I’ve spent the last few months happily gathering another 2900 pounds of ebooks.  Look at me, I silently preened, I have broken the habit.

Lies.

I didn’t account for the core of the addiction.  Not the caffeine, but the Sunday morning cup and paper.  I forgot the Children’s Books.  Want to stop me in my tracks?  Throw a children’s book down.  Make it a Caldecott and I’ll fall flat on my face trying to get to it.  Is it Make Way for Ducklings?  Holy shit.  Did I see you go past here with a vintage set of Ingalls books?  I had Blueberries for Sal on my birthday wish list years before I had a child.  And not in anticipation of one either.  When I visit my mother, I carefully sneak away copies of my own favorites and in the years when pennies were tighter than they are now (I can’t believe that’s even possible), my indulgence was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Friends, I have a problem.

But when my wife suggested we veer into the bookstore on Sunday, I didn’t remind her about my problem.  And, like the junkie’s girlfriend who only wants him to be happy, we beelined for the kid’s section.  Before I knew it, RR and I were on the floor reading The Runaway Bunny and Hippos Go Berserk.   When I looked up long enough to drool over something else, I noticed we had company listening to the story.  I’d happily read all day if it means I can sit in a corner with a stack of children’s books while shy children peer around shelves and sneak closer to my voice.

Give me more books.  Unfortunately, RR’s bookshelf is full.  I’m going to need to take yours.

Best So Far

There’s a lot to say about seven months of baby.  There’s a paragraph on how tired I am.  And a chapter or so on how life has changed since June.  But there are books upon books about how awesome she is at this second.  Guys, she is that awesome.

We heard so many things when D was pregnant, like “enjoy the second trimester!” that were sort of true but weren’t overwhelmingly compelling (for us, and for me in particular, since I was totally out of the whole carrying a human loop).  I’ve tuned out generalizations like that, preferring to wait and see what happens to us.  One of those generalizations, “You’ll love seven months!  Seven months is so much fun!” has turned out to be 100% true.

She is.  She is so much fun.  She laughs (sort of, if you can call “squished velociraptor” a laugh).  She bounces back from falling over or banging her head in an instant, pout shelved for later use.  She loves every stereotypical baby thing ever.  Pattycake.  Playing giddy-up.  Getting tossed in the air.   Being an airplane.  Blowing raspberries.  Grabbing her feet.  She is killing me with her cuteness.

I sometimes catch myself wondering what her next big milestone will be.  Standing?  Crawling?  Syllables that don’t begin with doidoidoi?  Will she eat something with her fingers first?  Or grow a tooth?  It’s exciting to think that all those things are coming in a minute but that, in the meantime, we’re in a charming intermission of babyhood.  A laughing, gurgling, playful, happy, joyful, intermission.

What makes it all that much better?  She finally rolled over.  Just once, from her back to her front, but that’s all I needed to see ever.  I absolutely love seven months.

Pacifiers, Redux

In honor of one of my most clicked posts (right after one including a picture of a basilisk – seriously, are SO MANY people needing basilisk pictures that they’re coming here?), I’d like you to know that we’ve gone with “plug”.

As in – stick that plug in the babies mouth so she’ll stop making that racket.  Oh yeah, we’re awesome.

Chief Sitting Gums

That’s what I’m going to call my little darling the next time we’re reenacting Oregon Trail. Believe me, dysentery is more of a problem than you’d imagine.

RR is seven months old.  If you could measure sitting skills among her daycare peers, she would be in the 99th percentile. She sits so well, chair-makers line up outside our house for autographs.  Okay, not all chair-makers.  You could fling her like a boomerang and she’d zip out to the atmosphere and then come back and fall perfectly into a sitting position. Weebles have a statue of her in their playhouse.

I tell you that so I can tell you this.  RR does not roll over.  I suspect she can, but I am certain that she doesn’t.  Isn’t, won’t.  She can arch herself into a perfect backbend, the envy of yoga enthusiasts the world over.  In fact, today she arched herself so throughly that she nearly flipped over the other way.  Off the changing table.  And into the laundry hamper.  If not for my lightning fast changing table ninja skills, I’d have had a very surprised baby.  She can do all that, but she Just Doesn’t Roll Over.  I’m afraid I’m becoming something of a haridan about it.  I tut tut and scold softly (to myself) and still no rolling is forthcoming.  I don’t want to worry that there’s a problem but seven months! Roll, right?

Rolling aside, RR also sports a sheen of hair so fine as to be unnoticeable to the common passerby.  In fact, it might be unnoticeable to anyone without the Hubble Telescope.

But this is important, because her doctor says that teeth and hair tend to grow harmoniously hand in hand.  She grows no hair ergo, she grows no teeth. Poppycock, right?  Your babies all had awesome heads of hair and no teeth or, conversely no hair at all and a mouthful of chompers.  All THIS is important because I feel as though I can’t properly blame her current bad attitude on teething since I’ve been hoodwinked by this teeth and hair myth.  She is, as her daycare provider would say, a shambles.  Please, I need teething to soothe my soul.  If she isn’t teething (AT SEVEN MONTHS) she’s actually turning into a tasmanian devil.  One that doesn’t, of course, roll.

Snow Days

The recent nasty weather has left me thinking about RR and school.  When I was little, I’d have given just about anything for a snow day.  But, I lived then in Chicago where there was never quite enough snow during my short tenure to keep me home.  When we moved to Arizona, well, that was that.  I thought it was cruel that my parents wanted me in school regardless of climate conditions until they pointed out that a) cancelled school usually meant more days in June and that b) I had a responsibility to learn.  Now that I’m a parent, I find I feel very much the same way.  RR has a responsibility to learn and she needs all the days she can get to do it.  Perhaps the frequent snowy winters of late will give Virginia a sterner spine.

I spent this day in January 25 years ago longing for a snow day.  I had been at my new school in Tucson for less than a month and I hated the weird outdoor-hallway layout and the brown earth and, for me, the ridiculously warm winter weather.  My face had started breaking out and I sat in my social studies class leaning hard on one elbow, palm pressed to my chin, pretending like no one could see the swollen mess that had bloomed there that morning.  I was pretending that I was a beautiful girl in a red down jacket home from school for a snow day (like my friends in Chicago most certainly were but, in reality, were probably not) running out to play in the drifts, blonde hair bouncing.  I remember that I was happy the lights were out because it made it easier to pretend I was this lucky girl.

The lights were out because we were watching the live feed of the Challenger take-off.  Years later, I would recognize that morning as my generation’s only JFK moment until it was later eclipsed, of course, by September 11th.  But that morning, I was a laughing girl in a red down jacket throwing flirtatious snowballs until in a split second I was halfway to adulthood.  It occurs to me today that we weren’t watching a tape or anything DVRed.  That my teacher was contending with a national tragedy live and in the moment and that she had a roomful of almost teens on the edge of understanding what had happened who were going to need an immediate response.  I’ll bet she wished it was a snow day, more than anything.

It probably wouldn’t happen that way for RR, not in a culture where reality hitches at different moments for everyone.  Is it live?  Are you paused a few seconds behind?  Are we protecting our children so carefully that we deliberately screen everything in advance, including news events, to protect them?  This morning it’s a snow day in Virginia just like I fervently wished it would be in Arizona 25 years ago.  Even so, this morning, RR is “at school” building a habit of learning.  And this morning, instead of working, I sat at my desk daydreaming about summer and how I will garden in the yard in a straw hat and dirty flowered gloves, blonde hair blowing in the wind.  I am still more beautiful in my daydreams.

 

Bulletins For My Daughter: 1

RR,

At our house, we each take a night to decide what we will have for dinner and cook the dinner. Although you are (mostly) exempt from cleaning up after that dinner, you will most certainly be on the cleaning crew for someone else’s night.  If you’re smart, you’ll angle for any night except the dog’s night – he cooks something in the slow cooker every Monday and while it’s super to have hot stew waiting when we come home, he’s a devil about getting the cookpot clean.

So whether you choose to cook spaghetti pie like your Aunt Stephanie (every. single. wednesday. for. three. years.) or turkey tetrazzini like Aunt Elizabeth (rinse, repeat.) you’ll be finding yourself elbows deep in sudsy clean-up a few evenings a week.  On top of it all, we’re going to require the injustice of putting your dishes in the dishwasher at any time of the day or night.  I know, the cruelty.

If you don’t, I might just take a page out of one of my co-workers’ books and inscribe this on the bottom of the sink (found this morning when I very much needed a good laugh.)

Love,
Mama