I just learned tonight that there is a p in Raspberry. I have read that word hundreds of times in my life each time my eye missing the p. Amazing.
somehow i am moving back to the east coast, again. i never thought i would. right before i left boston to return to portland i drove out to cape cod and province town. my friend and i assented the clock tower of the unitarian church in town and looked out over the atlantic. it was a clear warm day and the water was such a light blue it looked tropical. i thought of the first pilgrims arriving near by and then had the distinct thought that i would never in my life revisit that place. it was the first time in my life that i had ever gone somewhere and thought i will die before i return here.
but here i am 14 years later packing for the east coast. not boston, not province town, but the east coast all the same and a city bigger and denser than the one i live in now. as an adult i am beyond excited to live in new york city. the idea of the subway and not having a car is thrilling, the seasons, warm summer nights, an ice skating rink in prospect park, the art, the music, the bars, the nightlife, the culture, the parks and the gardens. i have often thought that new york as a kind of disneyland for adults.
still i wonder and worry, where does that leave G? sure maybe momma doesn’t need and crave nature as i once did, maybe i am embracing my urbaness, but what about G? i have no doubt she will be just fine. she is already an urban kid, she has never known nature and so doesn’t miss it and is mostly just confused when we make our way into it, but that isn’t what i want for her. i don’t want her to be confused when she sees the earth beneath her feet.
last night i nearly fell asleep with the light on. we have a dimmer chandelier in the bedroom and the light was low and warm. i have fallen asleep plenty of times in my life with the light on, but this was unusual because this was a cross between forgetting to turn off the light and not realizing it was still on. i was lost in its haze and laughed at myself when i realized it was still on.
anything includes, but is not limited to:
creating a wedding photo album more than 12 months after our wedding, weeding G’s closet, weeding my own closet, weeding my books, making pizza dough for G’s birthday, hours upon countless hours on facebook, work, sleep, so much sleep, reading bad teen lit, organizing the “art” shelf, writing a will, drinking, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning
for all this one would imagine my house would be clean, food would always be made and i would be forever organized, one would be wrong
1. Fentanyl. If you had never done drugs, and especially hallucinogens I assure you that 9 months pregnant and 14 hours into labor is a poor time to start. Luckily I was prepared and all my years of moderate to serious partying kicked in seconds after I felt the fentanyl enter my blood stream. I looked at the nurse and my cousin and said in a steady voice: 30 seconds from now I will not be able to talk. For the next 90 silent minutes I felt better than I had for previous 10 months. Slowly the pain began to return and the drug receded in waves until I was no longer able to pretend that it was still working.
2. Morphine. No, they couldn’t give me another shot of fentanyl. Fentanyl leaves your system quickly and I wasn’t close to being ready for an epidural. At first when it was offered I refused because I was sure I would have a reaction to it and start itching. When the doctor learned from the nurse that I had declined the morphine she marched into the room and stood over my bed looking down at me. She said in as steady a voice as the one I had used hours early: you need this. You have a long day ahead of you tomorrow and you need to sleep now so that you have energy. She was right on both accounts. My husband crawled into bed next to me and held me gently and my body relaxed. Hours before we became parents we slept together cozy and peaceful. This was the best four hours of my labor, if not my life.
3. Epidural. In the morning I had progressed enough for an epidural. Finally the good, good epidural. Once I truly no longer felt pain and knew I wouldn’t for the rest of the labor my body swung into high gear. My body acquiesced to the work at hand began contracting steadily. The day was spent in a blissful fever in and out of sleep.
4. My daughter. 36 hours after my water broke. 2 hours of pushing. 7.2 pounds and 20 inches long, initials, G.B.N. Healthy, crying and small she came out perfect. At the time I didn’t know at the time she was to be the best drug of all.
I write like I floss and do yoga, which is to say not that often. I have the best intentions about all three. I mean to floss every night, I mean to do yoga once or twice a week. In theory these are very, very good habits, but I somehow always either take up my time cleaning, or watching TV, or talking on the phone, or taking care of G so that at the end of the night there was no time for yoga and I am so tired I am lucky to get my teeth brushed. Ditto for writing, there is always something that comes first, before writing, sometimes even organizing my closet, although if you looked in my closet you might doubt that. I hope I can change all of this. I hope it is not too late to start flossing, stretching and writing.
I am home sick, again. I get all the colds that come through the house. Getting sick is at least one of the top 10 “things that derail” our house of cards. The precise life we have constructed, runs smoothy, well and just barely, but the caveat is that no one gets sick. The problem with building a house on a foundation of -we can’t sick- and having a two year old is that we get sick all the time. Now that G is in full time daycare there are 30 other little hands that she is around that creep and crawl with germs and bacteria and every single last one of them (it feels like) is yet another cold.
Least anyone think this is an “oh, poor me, the mom that works so hard and is so busy all the time that I barely have time to rest let alone enjoy life,” post, happily it is not, although undoubtably that will be a post sometime in the near future. No, this is an I accept it post. I accept the crazyness, the unravelledness, the sickness, the hectic, and the franticness.
For months I have been searching for a way around the carefully constructed life that relies on no one moving an inch in the wrong direction, no one coughing out of turn, but somehow miraculously this weekend I accepted that this is it. We were walking back from our only outing for the day. I was blowing the faucet that was my nose. G was insisting on pushing the stroller and at one point she pushed it toward a car. I caught it at the last moment and instead of being exasperated I laughed and then G laughed and then baby pappa. There was something about catching the stroller before it caused material damage to another person’s property that made me think, “I got it, I can do this. Even sick and tired and miserable it is manageable.” This is my life right here and I love it.
I recently read a book of essays, Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood. This book assured me with story after story of mother’s trying to balance it all that there is no way to balance it all. Of course I had read before that you can’t “have it all,” but these stories showed rather than told me that I can’t balance it all. Whether you are in the workforce or stay out of the workforce you work, parenthood is hard, it is messy it is trying and more than anything I think it is wonderful.
Before I had G I wanted a baby more than I was comfortable with. At 30 I had no prospects of having a baby. There had been boyfriends, but it didn’t really occur to me until I was 30 that I actually needed someone else to buy into the whole baby idea and so far the men I had dated were either not father material or wanted no part of it. I knew I didn’t want to have a baby on my own. The idea of finding someone who I loved, got on well with and who also wanted a baby and would be a good father was daunting. I remember one particular moment driving in my car on my way home from visiting a friend who had just had her second child when it hit me: “Oh. Fuck. I need someone else to agree to this. Shit.” Feminism so had not prepared me for that moment.
All of this is a long winded way of saying I wanted a baby and I wasn’t sure for a while there, three or four very long painful years, if I was going to get one. Having a child has made me very happy. This is something that is easy for me to loose track of in the hamster wheel that is my life. This book of essays more than anything else showed me that I am not alone in the difficulties of parenthood and more importantly it will not change. There is no magic bullet that will give me more time, or when I don’t work, more money/adult conversation. There is no perfect job that will be just flexible enough, but still stimulating and lucrative. Not that we shouldn’t try to improve conditions for families, that we shouldn’t fight for universal daycare, that we shouldn’t find other ways to work in the world so that we can find more time with our children and leisure activities. There is no margin in my life, but this is the very full life I signed up for and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I hope to write about this more extensively soon, but for me the scary thing about the mommy wars is that no matter how well reasoned one’s argument, no matter how graciously stated one’s opinion is, no matter how calm and rational, it all gets casted as contributing to the mommy wars. No matter how meta one takes the argument it is seen as a personal affront and the author is accused of adding fuel to the fire. The clear message to all of us women no matter what we believe about parenting is a resounding, Be Quiet. In the name of “can’t we all just get along?” and “can’t we all just support each other?” is a white-washing of a gritty discourse of privilege, labor, class, gender, consumerism and race. I don’t know what to do about this. Do I drop the discussion completely or do I just ignore this idea that because I am talking about women and babies and problems many of us face that I am necessarily contributing to the mommy wars?
It is baby’s second Christmas. She is 15 months. Chaos is reaching a critical mass. Wrapping paper is strewn about, children are racing through the house on candy highs. Baby’s eyes are glassy. I watch her teetering on the edge between break down, and complete break down.
I have had a glass (or two) of wine, but thankfully I remember the bottle in the diaper bag we have for the ride home. The same bottle I am, on the insistence of her pediatrician trying to wean her from. I sail to the kitchen, fill up the bottle and present it to her on her father’s lap.
Instantaneously baby goes into wonderland. Everything slows way down and I see the chaos continue to unwind all around it, but now she is unfazed by it. She is in her own comfortable, calm world. In this moment that I realize the true genius of the bottle and swear to myself that she can have the bottle till she is in her teens if that is what works for her.
It is unclear to me why it is encouraged to nurse for years, but that bottles have a one year expiration date after which they turn into metaphorical pumpkins. Worse than useless, bottles by some are painted as the conveyors of immorality (formula). After one year of life bottles change in the medical community from conduit of nutrition and comfort to redundant appendages which if continued could cause bad habits.
I argue that bottles are a fantastic combination, like nursing of providing both sustenance and comfort. Even more wonderful is that it does this at a snails pace, i.e. enough time for mom to have a phone conversation, sip a glass of wine, unload the dishwasher or any other small tasks that are so hard to do during the day when baby/toddler commandeers all of your time. For me personally another joy of the bottle is that it can involve my body or not. G is usually happy if I hold her and snuggle her while she has her bottle, but she is just as happy to hang out on a chair by herself having said bottle while she takes a little reprieve. I think the one of the most important gifts we parents can give our children is the gift of how to feel comfortable in the world when we parents are not able to be around, either because we are in the next room, or we have to work, or want a date night, or want our child to know and trust other adults that we know and trust. Granted as children age they do need to find other ways to be comfortable in the world without us present, but to me it seems like if they start this practice early those other ways will come at developmentally appropriate times. I am sure there are million ways to get kids to be comfortable in the world away from their parents (pacifier, sucking their thumb, a
love-y, a song they sing to themselves, a book they read) the bottle is certainly not the only road to take, but I have to speak up for the bottle since that is what has worked well for our family.
I get that bottles can turn into bad habits, with kids over-attaching to it, drinking juice out of it or falling asleep with milk in their mouth. Admittedly I don’t want G to suffer through dental work on her baby teeth, but to me, in our house the benefit of G finding comfort in the bottle far outweighs the risk associated with strategic use.
I realize these aren’t the biggest problems of the world, but still, it is only Monday and already this morning I forgot to transfer my wallet and my sunglasses in from the diaper bag to my purse, which meant I couldn’t buy my transit card for October. At lunch I lost my favorite Marimekko scarf rife with both esthetic and sentimental value. It was purchased at a boutique in Berlin during a particularly trying moment of new motherhood. Can a scarf be rife?