So today was my first day back at work since having the baby, and it was kind of anti-climactic. Other than a few quick, sad tears, shed as I walked away from Desi’s nannyshare, it was pretty much business as usual.
I hitched a ride in via Casual Carpool, the ever-changing voyeuristic glimpses of which I’ve actually missed quite a bit — life serves up so many predictable patterns, it’s nice to have something in each day that’s reliably different. I spent an uneventful day at the office, attending meetings, eating lunch out of a box, gathering cooler-side to chat about people’s Thanksgiving weekends, sitting in a darkened room forcefully suctioning milk out of my nipples…the usual. (Newsflash: My breastpump has stopped sounding like a whimpering infant and now seems to be saying “meow, meow” over and over instead? Here, kitty kitty!)
Then I BARTed home, aimed my mouth at some sort of rice-based Trader Joe dinner, took a quick splash of a bath, and played with the baby for an hour. Then we launched into Desi’s latest go-to-sleep ritual, a highly involved routine that features me perching atop a yogaball and leaning up and over into the crib, arms supported by the horrifically named Boppy pillow, and “thumbing” him, i.e., letting him suck my thumb while stroking his forehead with my remaining fingers. (Yes, he still won’t take a pacifier, and yes, we still haven’t hit upon the opportune moment/mustered the emotional fortitude to let him Cry It Out and learn to put his own self to sleep…but soon. Very soon!)
After a half-hour of Desi nodding off, followed by startled jerking, followed by enraged crying, he still wasn’t asleep, but my arm sure was, so Marco took a turn.
Now you’re all caught up! As I type these words — twenty minutes later — Marco is still in there trying to get the baby down, and I’m so insanely tired, I’m actually nodding off at the keyboard.
And that’s how a once-sprightly night owl became one of those boring oldsters who complain about their backs and who somehow fail to notice stray hairs growing out of their chins and who stagger into bed at the unripened hour of 8:30pm. Pow!
Starting at 9am tomorrow, I’ll be back at work after a little over four months bonding with the baby at home. On a perhaps related note, my back appears to have gone out, so as I launder my work clothes and pack up breast pump, there’s a depressingly aged stoop in my step.
With my return to my cube looming large, it occurs to me that this past four months with the baby are probably the longest solid stretch of time that I’ll ever spend with this kid. From here on in, his day-carers and teachers and parole officers will enjoy more together time with him than I ever will.
It makes me sad that I haven’t enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime togetherness more. I spent the first nine-tenths of my maternity leave in a “fumbling to keep baby alive” sweat, feeling like I was faking my way through a job for which I was vastly underqualified. It’s only in these last few weeks that the panic has started to thaw into some kind of glimmer of “maybe I can actually do this“ness. So of course, just as I start to get my sea legs, it’s back to the sea-salt mines.
Part of me wishes that I could take more time off, enough to really start feeling competent, maybe even confident, about this whole motherhood thing. On the other hand, when I watch the nanny we’ve lined up for our nannyshare sit with the baby, I’m striken by how much more attentive a babysitter she is. No watching So You Think You Can Dance over the baby’s shoulder for her! No teetering the baby in front of the computer while she checks email! She’s engaged and upbeat, where I’m stressy and overtired.
So maybe Desi’s better off with me at work? And maybe it’s better for me that I’ll be going back while my maternity leave is hitting a good note, a la Cheers going off the air when the getting was still good?
Or maybe America does it wrong, and I should move to some scandi-land where new parents get six thousand weeks of m/paternity leave, and all the children end up multilingual and well-adjusted and tan. And buses are made of marzipan! And the streets whiff of sun-warmed kitten fur! And new mothers walk perfectly erect!
Today’s Desi’s four-month birthday! And to celebrate, we did possibly one of the most hippiest, dippiest thing ever (aside from the whole birthing tub/homebirth extravaganza itself): Marco dug a hole in the backyard and we planted a wee baby lemon tree…atop the baby’s placenta!
I know. I know! But really, on the tie-dyed rainbow of insane things people do with placentas, a spectrum that includes placenta pills, placenta jerky, and surprise placenta-chili parties, planting it in the backyard was actually fairly tame. And somehow it didn’t seem right to just dump this loveable medical-waste blob that kept our baby going lo those nine+ months in the trash? It deserved better than that. A nice, decent burial. (Maybe should I be worried that I’ve somehow managed to anthropomorphize a placenta? Don’t say yes.)
And just think how much money Desi’s going to rake in from his organic placenta lemonade stand!
I so dearly wanted to spend today doing traditional day-after-Thanksgiving things like lolling under the covers with a book, something nice and low-brow with the author’s name in bigger type than the title. I wanted to eat pie and take nap after nap, and watch television until my eyes bled. Baby be damned!
Instead I spent the day reading slender tongue-twisting books aloud, and swabbing baby parts, and hauling my boobs in and out of my shirt, and playing endless rounds of Scarf Face.
It wasn’t even a bad day. In fact, it’s been one of the better baby days I’ve spent with him. My Fraudulent Parent feelings were at an all-time low — usually I feel like a bad actor playing the role of Mommy. But today I almost felt natural as I cooed and clapped and sang my weird self-narrative songs (“Now mama’s eating cold stuffing with her hands!”). But it definitely wasn’t the all-about-me day I was hungering for.
When I first got knocked up and started to consider what it might actually be like to have a baby, I figured I’d miss the impromptu nights out…the dinners with friends, the movies in actual movie theaters, the strip clubs. But in practice, I’m finding that more than anything I miss the plans-free, pants-free days at home doing disgusting amounts of nothing at all. It’s hard to imagine getting a sitter just for one of those kinds of blank days. In fact, planning in advance to have such a day would defeat the whole purpose.
Sitting on the couch after a long, kitchen-hot day, sipping white wine on ice, patting my pumpkin-bread-pudding packed middle, and listening to Marco and Tom Geck passionately and meticulously rehash their all-time favorite ongoing argument: Which Is the Better Band, Led Zeppelin or The Who?
What’s that you say? It’s 9pm the night before Thanksgiving and the baby refused to nap all day and you didn’t get a chance to bake or slice or dice or anything? Commence frantic late-night back-aching bleary-eyed pie bake-off jamboree!
My family pie dough recipe is thankfully sleep-deprived-simpleton-proof: 1 cup flour plus 1 stick of butter plus 3 ounces cream cheese. That’s it!
After rolling out one pumpkin pie bottom and one apple pie bottom, I didn’t quite have enough cream cheese to make a third pie shell to top the apple, so I made two-thirds of a recipe and cut it up using my set of variable-sized scalloped cookie cutters.
Now the gaps between dough seem purposefully artful, versus poorly planned and depressing. At least that’s what I tell myself, in the quiet voice usually reserved for calming frightened animals, as I gently pat my own head.
We’ve only had to make two emergency missing-ingredient trips to the grocery store. And we only set off the fire alarm once! So far.
Desi had his four-month checkup today, and he now weighs in at just under 17 pounds — enough to feed nine adults and five children, according to the Buterball portions calculator. He’s grown four whole inches since he first debuted, meanwhile the circumference of his head (and who knew they measured or cared about the circumference of babies’ heads?) is in the 90th percentile, meaning his melon is now larger than 90% of the heads of other lesser babies.
Last night, after four months of camping out with us in our room, he went to sleep in his own room for the very first time (if you can call waking up and yelling until your parents to come to your crib and let you suck their thumbs until their arms go numb every forty minutes “sleep”).
And he has a special new ear-piercing, air-vibrating scream, which he sounds in times of both extreme joy and darkest rage. Marco and I shudder whenever we hear it, knowing as we do that we’ll be hearing such shrieks for many years to come, uh-oh.
He’s also starting to roll over, and grab at things (hoodie strings, newspapers, lips), and scornfully push away his parents’ hands. Almost all of his baby hair is gone now, and coarse, Marco-and-Evany troll-doll hair has grown in its place.
And he smiles now, all the time.
Watch, next he’ll be drinking Manhattans and picking up the drycleaning and converting to a Roth IRA. And flossing. Flossing!
Do you think if I bound his entire body in tight, tight straps to force him to stop growing, that would make me a bad mommy?
Half a lifetime ago, back when I was a dewy-fleshed twenty-nothing and heading off to enjoy a year of tea and rain and deeply fried things over in mother England, I arranged to meet my boyfriend (and future first heartbreak) one last time before I left the states.
He had moved back to Los Angeles by that time, and I was still in the Bay Area, so we decided to meet halfway, geographically speaking. I drove three and a half hours south, he drove three and half hours north, and we united in the middle of the middle-of-nowhere destination spot known as the Lemoore-Hanford truckstop off I-5. We got ourselves a $26.95 room at the Best Western and spent one awesomely overwrought night sighing and goodbying and pining in advance.
Twenty years later, I decide on a whim to take advantage of my final week of maternity leave and drive down with the baby to Los Angeles for one last-hurrah weekend with my best friends Sophia and Jonathan and their kids and chickens and budgies and cats and bunny. Desi and I leave early in the morning, just in time to catch his first nap of the day. After three heroic hours of solid snoozing, he wakes with a start and immediately starts demanding some service. As his keening ramps up in earnest, I point my car at the next offramp — Lemoore Hanford!
The Red Robin that the boy and I bonzai burgered at that heartached weekend long ago is now shuttered. There’s a Chinese restaurant there now, and though it’s new to me, it’s already been there long enough for the sign to have lost some letters. And while I very much like the sound of “Chin Food,” Desi is in no temper for a sit-down meal. Instead he nurses his lunch in the car, then I change him, we exchange some coos, and we finish up with a quick session of practice standing. An hour later, we’re back on the road.
As we drive away, I giggle with thinks about how boggled Yester Evany — she of the 100% youth-addled sureness of where her life was headed and who she was going to spend it it with — would be if she could see Evany of the Now, with her job at the bank and her house in El Cerrito and her fine upstanding man and this brand new traveling mate:
Looks like somebody’s been enjoying the Chin Food.
Since this baby hit the scene four months or so ago, I’ve kept my hair in a constant state of be-ponytail-ness to avoid having my hairs caught and torn in the vice-like grip of feisty baby fists. The result of all this hair tethering is that I now suffer from almost constant “ponytail ache,” a minor malady on its own, but surprisingly wearying when experienced cumulatively.
Meanwhile all the extra hair I accumulated during pregnancy is now falling out in droves. And since I’m rarely trashcan-convenient these days — what with spending 98% of my time either feeding the baby, rocking him to sleep, or making sure he isn’t choking or taking a header — I keep winding up with fistfulls of hair with no easy way to dispose of them. So I keep secreting these tangles of loose hair into my pockets “for later.” By the time “later” rolls around, I’m usually too comatose from sleepiness and round-the-clock babying to clean out my pockets. And hair, it turns out, is actually very washer-dryer resilient.
So that’s me. I’m the one with the aching scalp and the human-hair nests in my pockets. The personal ad just writes itself!
Our new house is just a few blocks from the El Cerrito library, but I’ve been too busy birthing babies to get my card…until today!
When I asked the librarian to take a picture of me to commemorate the moment, she said, “Well this is a first,” all gruff, but then she smiled a small smile and I knew she knew what I know: There’s something extra super special about a new library card!
Happy Kirtsy Takes a Bow publishing release day, everybody! Can I tell you how happy-making it is to have some of my very own thinks nestled alongside the wonder words and photographs of so many talented lady internetsters? It appears I just did.
One hundred American thank yous to editor and friend Laura Mayes for pulling together such a smart and beautiful must-read, and for taking care of business oh so flashily, Elvis style. You sure did it!
One of the freaky things about baby caring is that whatever magical thing seems to work one day — singing the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” jingle at him makes him stop crying, tapping his forehead while making a “pwt-ting” sound like his head is a spittoon makes him start laughing — doesn’t always work the next day.
Just when you starting to get that “I can do this!” feeling, his interface shifts, and it’s back to the drawing board. Maybe he’ll stop crying if I turn up the heat? Turn down the heat? Turn him upside down? Right side up? Jostle his stomach while yelling “washing machine, washing machine”? Pudding? You want mommy to put you down in your crib and go get herself some pudding?
I know people in corporate USA like to say they prefer a job where they’re always tackling new problems and learning new skillsets, but now that I’m actually living that particular American dream, I say: Bring back the monotony and predictability! I want the parenting equivalent of stuffing envelopes, please. Not for all time, of course. Just long enough to give me the delusion that I know what I’m doing.
Oh my god, this is almost too awful to type, but in the interest of posterity, I have to come clean. Or come unclean, more like…
We have fleas! Or at least Desi does. I caught one crawling around on his foot, and our friend Marilyn spotted one hopping around on his FACE! We are awesome parents.
I’m not entirely sure what to do about this dirty, dirty problem? We’re not thrilled about the idea of setting off a flea bomb — while we’re lame enough to turn our baby into flea food, we’re not quite lame enough to coat his environs in a toxic cloud. Marco dosed the dog with a round of Advantix tonight, so hopefully that will put a dent in the vermin population. Not sure what else we can do, though…wrap the dog in plastic? Dig a moat around the baby? Move to a new house? Town? State? Or maybe we should just hand the baby over to the Child Protection Agency right now.
That’s one party-sized piece of Fat Apple’s tip-top-notch olallieberry pie (courtesy of the wonderful Adrienne), sitting atop one of my cake plates (courtesy of the inimitable Liz Dunn). Take that, mouth!
When I talk about baby matters, I get some interesting reactions. Sprinkled amongst the many supportive “congratulations” and “I want to bite that baby’s cute fat cheeks off“s are some strangely off-putting responses, and they seem to fall into two categories. At one end of the spectrum we have the “If You Think This Is Bad” spoilsports. On the flip side are the “Surely You’ve Never Loved Like This Before?” unsinkables. And even though one is pessimism embodied and the other is the purest expression of incomparable, undiluted love, I find them both equally disheartening.
Say I announce at the water cooler that pregnancy is killing me with its stupid two-to-three-hours-of-sleep insomnia. The spoilsports hop gleefully in to announce that if I’m suffering now, just wait until the baby gets here! At which time I can kiss all sleep goodbye, and also travel, reading, any and all me time, and happiness in general!
Since I’m barely hanging in here as it is, baby-having wise, it’s never fun to hear that things are going to be even darker just around the corner. Maybe I should give up now?
Or maybe, maybe it doesn’t always get harder? Or, if it does, my parenting skills might evolve to keep pace with the baby’s spiraling degrees of difficulty? But somehow those encouraging words never seem to be part of the message. Why are these spoilsports so fired up to inform me how in for it I am? Maybe they just want someone to keep them company in their hard, cold Legion of Doom?
Meanwhile I post new chunky, pink baby photos online, and the unsinkables rush to gush about the new levels of love I’m surely achieving.
Now. When we birthed this baby, after the midwives and cheerleaders had all cleared out, I quietly confessed to Marco, “You know how everyone says that the moment your baby is born, you feel a love like no other? Yeah, I didn’t feel that.” Don’t get me wrong! I was very happy when the baby was born. I just wasn’t euphoric like all the books and movies and Friends episodes had prepared me for.
I’ve definitely grown to love him, over time. (Especially now that my tore up vagina’s all good and healed!) But it hasn’t exactly been rainbows and bunny bellies…parenting is hard. So hard! And there are times when I love the baby a ton, like when he’s…sleeping. Or when I squeeze his soft, chubby American thighs. Or when he laughs and shrugs his shoulders and makes his cheeseburger face. But there are also times when I like him a whole lot less, like when he’s bolt-upright awake at wrong-thirty in the morning, or when he’s vociferously refusing to take his bottle from the nanny-share nanny so she has to call me and I have to race back over to the nanny-share house to coax him into taking it, thereby negating the many positives of paying for childcare.
So when someone goes to bond with me over how amazing and transcendental it all is, I don’t really relate. And not being able to relate to that sunny sentiment makes me feel like a heartless alien robot by comparison.
It isn’t always an awesometoberfest having a helpless 15-pound being on your payroll. Sometimes he wakes up at three in the morning and refuses to go back to sleep unless you stick your thumb in his mouth and push him in his swing 500 times. Sometimes he plays with his food, smacking painfully on your budders like he’s blotting chapstick. And sometimes he blows right past his bedtime and Marco’s already asleep because he has to get up at 5am for work so you have to hold the baby’s squirming body in one arm as you type up the evening’s web log entry with one hand.
On the bright side, we get to dress him up in the world’s cutest outfits! Hooryay!
Since this baby hit town, our floors are now adrift in infant accessories. Bouncers, swings, carseats, plastic keys, stuffed animals, various vibrating danglies…they’re everywhere. Sleep deprived and distracted as we are, navigating the boobytrapped maze of stumblebles has left us scraped and bruised, and our nights are punctuated with whispered swears.
Marco harbors a particular grudge against Desi’s cradle, which he’s tripped over no fewer than twelve separate times, and he’s threatened to “chop up into a million fucking pieces and throw into the middle of the goddamn street” more than once.
Meanwhile I’ve acquired a teeth-grinding hatred of our fitted sheets, which react to all the scootching and rearranging of midnight baby feedings by peevishly popping off at the corners, leaving me to try and levitate, with baby in arms, my sleeptime sweatpants slowwwly creep down, as I stretch and strain the stupid thing back into place underneath me.
A glimpse of exposed mattress corner now flies me into a homicidal rage. A loving, nurturing, new mommy homicidal rage.
In the late 90s, I did my California-required year in therapy, a somewhat less than satisfying experience that seemed to leave me with more self doubt than I started with, which, considering how doubt-full I was in my 20s, is saying a lot. I couldn’t decide, though, if the digression was the fault of my faulty brain, or my faulty therapist? Ultimately it didn’t matter because I ran out of money and could no longer afford to keep going.
On the night of my last session, I went to make my final payment and discovered I’d already written my last check. When I came back later with a check, I somehow managed to leave my coat behind. Et cetera.
Could my subconscious be more transparent?
Last month I took my cat of ten years, Marbles, back to the fancy SPCA from whence she came. Much to my sadness, she had celebrated our blessed, bouncing arrival by peeing in all the heating ducts, a tactically genius maneuver that transformed the house into a reeking cloud of cat urine whenever we ran the heat. She also took to howling in the hallway at 3am. And then she bit the baby.
After many tears and frets, I decided that we would all, Marbles included, be happier if she found a new home. The nice ladies at the shelter were very optimistic about her likelihood of getting adopted — apparently extra-toed cats are a big draw? Anyway. It was hugely depressing and made me feel like a horrible, bad-cat-mommy monster. And the actual handoff was just awful. But after mopping my eyes and filling out the ten tons of paperwork, I finally managed to stumble my way home…only to discover that I’d left my driver’s license behind. Oh, subconscious.
Today we did a dry run with Desi’s nanny share — we’re sharing a sweet young childcarer with the baby of a lovely couple (Colleen and Mike, friends of the Liz Dunn!) who live a conveniently scant six blocks away. I dropped the baby off at 8am, then proceeded to wend the rest of the day in a hazy daze. I went to Peet’s, I went to Trader Joe’s, I took a two-hour bath, I made cupcakes…basically, I lived out a page from my decadent, pre-baby youth of just over one year ago.
The only problem was, each fancy-free hour was marred with a nagging, sinking, lightly blue feeling that I’d once again left something important behind.
I know it isn’t the healthiest thing for my happy, but I just can’t seem to stop driving by the house we didn’t get, sighing and sulking over its gigantic basement and quiet street and superior school system and convenient proximity to casual carpool. I want to punch that perfect house in its stupid perfect house face!* And then french it all over.
It feels wrong, like I’m cheating on my new house. And I really do like our house. I do, I do! And I feel so lucked out over all the insane work that Marco and company did to make it so very cute. Plus we have a much bigger yard where we are now, and there’s a lot more fun stuff within walking distance, and we have the kind of neighbors who bake us banana bread and knit us baby things.
But oh! How nice it would have been to have gone home with the house that made me feel all panty and crushy and flushed? Versus this dumb nagging wallow of feeling like we settled?
Then again: I own a house! I have a healthy, dimpled baby! And a job to go back to! And I have three totally different flavors of ice cream chilling in my freezer. In short: Shut up, me.
*Credit: The entirely non-regrettable Hot Rod. Stream it up!
Behold! Our mantle bedecked with two gigantic ceramic horse heads!
Don’t you love how they’re all, “I’ll just shove my head through this here semipermeable wall…Oh! Hello farmer people! What’s for dinner?”
These pretty horses used to hang out in the house of my dearest friend, Sophia, and I was always very vocal about how deeply I coveted them. So when she inexplicably found herself ready to move on (I know!), she gifted them in our direction. So stinking awesome!
The heads had, however, seen some action over the years, and there were some visible wears and tears from old earthquake-slash-small-children-related injuries. I was about ten million months pregnant when I finally got my hot, swollen mitts on them, and I immediately became fixated — with the special intensity of the vastly pregnant — on getting them fixed and hung before the baby came. Meanwhile we’d only just moved into our house, and the stove, dishwasher, and washer-dryer were all still yet to be installed. Also we had no heat. Nor hot water. And I was about a week shy of my due date.
So the scene was this: Dirty, sweaty, swearing Marco, feverishly trying to get these major appliances up and running. He’s racing around, the power’s going off and on, and the air is tinged with the delicate scent of what can only be described as “gas leak.” And then there’s me, sitting on the floor, quietly painting in the cracks of some ceramic horse heads with an itty, bitty brush.
Back when I was about eight months pregnant, we needed the city to sign off on some of plans we had submitted for our ultra ambitious, cliched “pregnant lady in nesting mode” kitchen remodel. The planning department had been sitting on the paperwork for over a month, and we were getting frantic — any delay meant we were in danger of losing our insanely slender-margin-ed race against time to get into the house before the baby arrived.
So I put on my green maternity dress, the one that made me look extra specially pregnant…
…and I waddled down to the city offices.
Me: “Hi, I’m here to pick up our plans?”
Lady behind the desk, after typing in my information: “I’m sorry, they aren’t ready yet.”
Me: “Is there anything I can do to speed things up? We’ve been waiting over a month, and we need those plans signed before we can move into our house. Meanwhile we’re paying both the mortgage and rent, money we can’t really afford to waste, seeing as [pointing at gigantic bump] we’ve got a baby on the way…”
Lady: “We’re still waiting on a signature, and the man who needs to sign it isn’t in the office yet.”
Me, sweetly: “I can wait.”
Lady: “He won’t be here for at least an hour. Maybe two.”
Me: “That’s fine. I’ll wait.”
She shot me a nervous look as I lowered myself into a seat at the counter, closed my eyes, cupped my belly, and started practicing my breathing exercises, slowly and audibly.
A few minutes passed, then the lady placed a quiet call, her hand cupped over her mouth. Moments later a man came out from the offices in back, I’m pretty sure he was the head of the whole operation.
Honcho: “Let’s see…it’s been awhile since I’ve done this. Now where do I sign?”
And just like that, our planning woes were solved. All thanks to the mighty power of the wonder bump!
Now we’re looking down the barrel of our big final inspection, and we could really use some magic on our side. But sadly I’ve lost my baby stomach…more or less. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a prosthetic pregnancy belly?
Over the past months, we have received many a great baby-related gift — incredible hand-knit sweaters, body- and heart-warming blankets, gorgeous hand-written checks…the works. We’ve also purchased more than a few items ourselves — swings, tinctures, salves, batteries. But out of this blessed mountain of lovely and practical stuff, possibly the most valuable acquisitions we’ve received so far are the dozen or so plain old cloth diapers that (I think?) Natalie recommended we register for, and that (I think?) Erin and Adrienne actually purchased for us.
Above and beyond their intended use as a catchall for a baby’s hindmost quarters, plain old cloth diapers, it turns out, have no end of ingenious uses.
They swab up spit-up, clean up coffee spills, and protect the changing pad when the changing pad cover has already been soaked in pee yet someone (Marco! Or wait…no, that was I. Many apologies from Past Me!) forgets to replace it. They prove handily absorbent for tears shed over Anne of Green Gables, a happy rediscovery from a box of childhood books recently rescued from my parents’ attic.
They also help the baby sleep. Per Van Halen, our cradle indeed rocks. Unfortunately, rather than sooth Desmo to sleep, all that the traditional side-to-side rocking does is stimulate him into bright-eyed, bushy-tailed wakefulness. But! By wedging cloth diapers under both rockers, we have been able to totally take back the night:
Plain old cloth diapers are even powerful enough to keep the baby asleep during a deafening nail storm:
Note: As you can see, longitudinal rocking (vs. the cradle’s latitudinal rocking) as produced by his swing is for some reason fine. He is a very particular baby. We try to use the swing only sparingly, however, because my gut tells me the sleep it provides isn’t as wholesome as the zzz produced by more stationary bedding. But sometimes the swing is the only thing that works. Parenting, I’m finding, is full of last (vs. tropical) resorts.
Something about motherhood seems to be making me eat like Cookie Monster, where only about 27% of what I attempt to ingest actually makes it into my mouth. And since the baby is frequently in close proximity to these feeding frenzies, he catches the bulk of the fallout, like a passive remora collecting food around a shark’s mouth. Witness…
Food eaten by me only to be later discovered on my baby’s person:
> Macaroni and cheese, found tangled in his hair
> Black bean soup, discovered hours after lunch on his left pant leg
> Ice cream, dripped upon and then eaten off of his right arm
> One sesame seed, unearthed deep down the back of his diaper
And for his part, Desi has spit up on my back, front, and everywhere in between, sending his breastmilk back with a vehemence bordering on rudeness.
Back and forth we go, spilling and dribbling on each other in the world’s slowest, most protracted food fight.
Today was a rough day, one of those “up at 4am” brain-churn days full of frets, tears, and doubts…about my dread of leaving this teeny baby to go back to work at the end of this month, about the maybe brain-scrambling dangers of vaccinations, about the baby’s addiction to adult thumbs and violent swinging, about our ability to pay the mortgage, about the leaky roof and the upcoming rains, about burglars and raccoons and disembodied torsos…everything.
Luckily Tuesdays are the day that the ladies from my birthing class gather at a local bakery to chat and pat and coo on each other’s babies. And the fact that I had somewhere to go with all my worries sure did help a lot.
It’s a wildly varied group, our birthing class, and I don’t think we would have ever met if we all hadn’t gotten ourselves knocked up around about the same time. But unlike other random gatherings of strangers that life throws at you — traffic school, cuddle parties — the slender overlap of this group’s personal Venn diagrams, i.e., baby-having, has proved itself to be a commonality fertile enough to encourage actual friendships to grow.
And it really was such a comfort to be able to sit down today and hear that I wasn’t the only one who was feeling totally overwhelmed by the avalanche of contradicting baby books, or getting freaked out by friends with perfect-sounding babies, or catching themselves fantasizing about doing something ill-advised to their inconsolable babies…such as bounce him off the floor or toss her 600 feet into the air or gently push him deep into a magically permeable wall. See? All perfectly normal.
One of the things I’m looking forward to as a parent is the chance it gives me to bore my kid’s brains out with scintillating tales of how caveman crazy things used to be when I was little.
Like how no one had cellphones, which meant that if you were meeting a friend at the mall, you had to have your exact meeting place and time all figured out in advance, and you actually had to be there when and where you said you’d be.
Phones were tethered to the wall with long ringlet cords that got twisted over time, so you’d have to let the headset dangle periodically to unwind the cord back to normal. We still had the old fashioned finger dial, which meant you always dreaded making calls to numbers with zeroes in them because you’d have to wait five thousand years for the dial to finish its rotation and return to the starting point. And there was no Redial button, so trying to be the radio station’s Eleventh Caller was actually hard, sweaty work. There was also no answering machines or voicemail, and no call waiting — people just got busy signals. I bet you don’t even know what a busy signal is.
We didn’t have ATMs. The only way to get cash was to actually go inside the bank and get it from a bank teller, and you were always scrambling to get there before closing time, which as an absurdly early 3pm. Savings accounts came with tidy little passbooks that got stamped with each deposit and withdrawal.
We still had a black and white television, which had to be switched on a good half-hour before a show started because it took that long to warm up. Also we’d watch whatever show came on afterward, purely because changing the channel would mean having to stand up and manually turning the dial. (We didn’t have a remote!)
MTV was brand new and we’d stay up all night watching it, not letting ourselves go to sleep until a really great video came on, something totally surreal, like Pressure by Billy Joel, holy shit.
Kids didn’t sit in car seats, or wear bike helmets. And we walked ourselves to school.
I got $3.65 an hour at my job at the movie theater, where I sold tickets for just $5 ($3 for matinees). Gas was $.75 a gallon, and the Golden Gate Bridge toll was one measly dollar.
People would wave to drivers in other cars as a thank you for letting them merge.
Ziplock bags were this new invention, and only attractive, well-liked kids seemed to get them in their lunch bags. All the weird social-outcast kids in the too-short cords (here!) still had to use those baggies with the fold-over tops.
Frozen yogurt was new and weird and totally gross-sounding.
College papers were written on word processors, which had a little screen that held up to one line of text at a time, which you could actually edit before hitting Print and moving on to the next line — so much more flexible and forgiving and modern than the electric typewriters we learned on in high school typing class!
We held up lighters during slow songs.
We made mixed tapes by taping songs off the radio on our ghetto blasters.
And there was no email, or internet, or websites. Nor solemn mid-life-crisis blog posts about how quaint and strange this old world once was.