Friday, December 24, 2010

Why is the TSA touching my baby?

Read about my baby getting patted-down by the TSA here on Salon this weekend. Merry almost-Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Common scents

I have an essay on Salon today about the olfactory dangers of shopping on Craigslist—click here to catch a whiff.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Check out an edited version of "Some Kind of Athlete" (the piece I recently read at Hugo House's Cheap Beer & Prose event) in the Life section of!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

On the Up Side

I am quoted in this month's issue of Seattle Woman magazine saying oh-so-nerdily, "The word 'essay' means 'to try'."

Modesty Returned

Today is not my day. I lost a contest to a woman with no last name (think “Sade” or “Enya”). In addition to losing and being the kind of asshole who writes sentences like the previous one, I sold a (perfectly good as far as I knew!) stroller I never should have bought in the first place on Craigslist this weekend, and now the woman who purchased it is stalking me, insisting that I duped her by selling a stroller with a broken wheel and demanding I refund her money. People return things on Craigslist??? So many ill-advised dressers and Febreeze-scented chairs I could have returned!

As I pulled out of the garage to go soothe myself with chocolate, two random dogs appeared out of nowhere and would not get out of the way, and in my attempt not to kill them (even though I wanted to!), I smashed the shit out of my side-view mirror.

The marquee on a church by my house says “You can tell the strength of a person’s character by what discourages them.”

What can I say? I’m weak. Very, very weak.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dear Readers

I've been working on some other writing projects lately--please forgive my absence. My essay was just named (by Phillip Lopate!) as a runner-up for the Teachers & Writers Collaborative's Bechtel Prize.

And yesterday I learned that my book proposal (for which this blog has served as an exquisitely rough draft) is a contender for She Writes' Passion Project.

Also, I've been invited to read my work at Richard Hugo House's "Cheap Beer & Prose" reading series on Thursday, September 30th at 7pm. Please come. And if you don't live in Seattle, please come anyway.

(As an Iowan, it's not in my nature to brag. Thank you to my good friend and fellow Midwesterner for unwittingly granting me (and Jonathan Franzen) permission here.)

So do not fear--all is well. The baby (nine months old) still has no teeth and is not yet crawling. Her inherited late-bloomer-ness has been helping me get work done, as has our beloved babysitter.

Thanks for reading. I may have momentarily forgotten how to be modest, but I haven't forgotten you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting Lost in the Stacks

It’s been forever since I’ve spent time in a public library—like cruising the shelves to see what new hardbacks are out or sitting down in a chair and reading a magazine or getting carsick from using microfilm, not just popping in to pick up the next season of Lost. Dr. Husband and I use our local branch—which, incidentally, is about as big as a postage stamp—like an internet-assisted video rental store, ordering DVDs online and picking them up when our inbox tells us they’ve arrived. I’m currently 1556th in line for The Blind Side. This works out well because by the time I’ve risen to number one on the list, the baby will be off at college and I’ll need mindless Sandra Bullock movies to distract me from my empty nest syndrome.

Since I can’t get any work done when I’m at home anymore because the baby is, by turns, too cute or too whiny and since I can’t get any work done in coffee shops anymore because my mind is, by turns, too distractible or too whiny, I gave the public library a try today—the branch second-closest to our house, about a mile away and about as big as a sheet of postage stamps.

Despite disruptions from a series of quintessentially “Seattle Nice” overhead pages about dogs attacking patrons by the front door (“There are some dogs outside that are very… active. They have tried to attack a few patrons and library staff. While your leashing is technically legal, the library will not be responsible if your dogs attack someone or if someone ‘responds.’ Again, your leashing is legal, but we recommend that you shorten the lead.”)—despite this being blasted over the loudspeaker and despite getting in trouble for surreptitiously eating a bite of pound cake to keep up my energy since I never remember to eat lunch before the babysitter arrives and am too eager to get going to stop and make a sandwich or something—my library experience made me realize that if Dr. Husband and I ever decide to leave Seattle someday (that is, when we overdose on “Seattle Nice,” I’m going to have to insist it be for a place that has a public library.

A public library—as in just one.


One library without teeny branches or satellites every mile or two spreading the collection thin and enabling librarians to keep a very watchful eye over peckish patrons. (On the other hand, I appreciate the watchful eye being kept on the “very active” but legally leashed attack dogs.)

I’m certain that my wish for a singular library is regressive and oppressive and limiting and classist and racist to boot—as nostalgia so often is. But my intentions are good! I want everyone to have access to all the books at the same time, without them having to be trucked over from someone else’s neighborhood. Come to think of it, I want everyone to be at the library for books, not for internet access the way I am right now. Remember books? I miss books.

I want to live in a place where all of the town’s books—and internet portals—are in one place. Where my child can peruse the stacks on a lazy summer afternoon and happen across different books each time—not the same twenty well-worn Eric Carle books housed at your friendly (so long as you’re not hungry) local branch.

I want my child to frequent a library that’s not so big like the “main” Seattle branch that indie rock concerts are held in the YA section while the governor hands out awards to the 100 best local nonprofit leaders in the auditorium and stray puppies are given away at the reference desk.

I guess what I’m saying is that I want to live somewhere just as committed to literacy as Seattle but smaller and more unified and, dare I say, old fashioned. I’m probably describing a place that only exists in storybooks and maybe Wales. (Hay-on-Wye, here we come!) There’s just something about having a kid that brings out the fondness for the way things used to be… Oh, how glorious were the days when the only movie in my hometown public library’s collection was—speaking of classist and racist—a VHS tape of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm—for which there was never a waiting list.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Everyone Gets an F!

A headline in today’s New York Times unhelpfully announced: “Despite Advice, Many Fail to Breast-Feed.”

Apparently less than 100% of American women exclusively nurse their babies for their first six months of life. By giving my baby a bottle of formula a day the past few weeks, I have “failed” to breast-feed my child. If you gave your child a taste of rice cereal the day before her six month birthday, you, too, failed to breast-feed.

Why not just go ahead and title the article, “Despite Having Been Given Pamphlet After Pamphlet and Shown Poster After Poster of Suspiciously Blissful-Looking Women Nursing Their Not-At-All-Distracted, Fidgety, or Biting Babies, Moms Across the Nation Curiously Remain Too Egocentric to Prioritize Their Babies Over Their Own Selfish Desires 100% of the Time”?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

99 Bottles

The baby has now had 10 bottles of formula in 10 days, and I’m here to report that her poo still smells like rhubarb. Cool.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy #101,483

When you catch a cold five months after giving birth you will discover that your body can no longer cough and hold in pee at the same time.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Developmental Milestones

At this exact moment, as I type these words, the babysitter is preparing my baby’s first bottle of formula. I’m feeling quite emotional about it because the next step in the progression is tomorrow she’ll leave for college and never come home again except when she needs money! Whaaaah!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Passover Story

The problem—well one of the problems—with being raised atheist is that no one instills in you a polite respect of others’ religions. Even when slavery and holocausts are involved.

So when in the course of making dessert for a Passover seder you learn, for instance, that 18 minutes is the kosher cutoff point for the fermentation of a bread product—not 17, not 19, but 18—your reaction isn’t so much Well isn’t that interesting? as What the hell? Is 18 minutes exactly how long the Jews fleeing Egypt had for their breadstuffs to rise? And how would we possibly know that? And why the big fuss about getting rid of everything leavened before Passover begins? Surely if the Jews fleeing Egypt had had a bag of bagels in the freezer, they would have brought them along, not burned them, right?

I’m sorry to be irreverent and inappropriate, but I did warn you. Religious custom is no different to me than the cleaning rituals of someone with OCD or the voting habits of a rural Alabaman. All equal targets for questioning and mild mockery.

I apologize. I’m a bad lady.

That said, I cannot abide by all those rules. No, that’s not true—I have trouble half-abiding by the rules. No leavening agents or grains in the meal—but at tonight's seder with two Jewish men and their non-Jewish wives and either half- or 0% (depending on who you ask) Jewish babies—we will drink non-kosher wine. Beef for dinner, but no one minds if the dessert involves dairy and we eat it right after the beef, possibly even off the same plates. (I asked!)

It’s confusing, especially from the outside—and suddenly I understand all those parents insisting that their way is the only right way to raise children. Attend to them every time they fuss, otherwise they’ll have no self-esteem. Or: let them cry themselves to sleep, otherwise they’ll have no manners. It’s tricky—and exhausting—to navigate every modern parenting issue, to figure out what your policies are over and over again each day. It makes sense why so many people choose a philosophy and stick by it. And in sticking by it they come to believe it’s the best way, the right way, and so of course they want others to join them.

When the baby was up four times in the night last night I wished I’d had a guiding set of principles to help me cope—or, more to the point, to successfully get her back to sleep for the rest of the night. Instead I had my own feelings of exhaustion and frustration and confusion—was I spoiling her or eroding her sense of self-worth or making no impact whatsoever?

I have no idea.

All I know is that she always goes back to sleep eventually. And she always greets me with a smile in the morning, even after the nights when I silently curse her for being unable (or unwilling!) to keep a damn pacifier in her mouth for longer than 15 seconds.

And today she was very good company as I made a batch of largely kosher macaroons (no leavening, no grains, no dairy to complicate matters) for tonight’s seder.

And she remained good company as I drove to the local bakery and bought a stash of certain-to-be-non-kosher but also certain-to-be-more-delicious-than-anything-I-could-make-without-butter Parisian macaroons also for tonight's seder.

And while I was there and the baby wasn’t looking, I bought a chocolate bunny to give to her on Sunday—even though she’s not old enough for candy, and atheists most definitely do not celebrate Easter.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I woke up this morning to the smell of coffee and the sound of a coconut being slammed against a rock in the backyard for use as an ingredient in my birthday cake.

Later, my lawyer friend—whose birthday was a month ago—called to wish me well. I asked excitedly how she was enjoying being 35.

A long pause.

Then: “Am I supposed to lie to you because it’s your birthday?”



At least there will be cake.

With fresh coconut, no less.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Why the Word “Miami” Makes Me Queasy

Tomorrow is my 35th birthday. A year ago today two lines appeared on a stick in the bathroom of a cheap boutique hotel in Miami.

Nothing would be the same again--particularly my digestive tract, my boobs, my vagina, and my ability to contemplate Miami, alligators, or Cuban food without feeling nauseated.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Singing in the Raincoat

I finally purchased a raincoat the other day.

Technically, I’ve bought many raincoats since I moved here—I just return them all to the store before ever wearing them or after wearing them once and then realizing they’re so not me. Each one is too sporty and Velcro-y and loud or too beige and old-lady-trench-coatish.

But this one is going to last, I’m sure. It is beige, but—it’s soft and quiet and fitted and features a kicky little three-tiered skirt-type thing that I’ve never seen before on a coat. When our babysitter (a fashionable 18-year-old) saw it, she exclaimed her love. So, if anything, I’m too old-lady for it.

It only took me eight years of living in this famously rainy city, but I think I’m finally set.

By 2018 I'll have found a pair of Wellingtons to match.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

If You’re Happy and You Know It the Itsy Bitsy Wheels on the Bus Clap Your Hands!

We had another guest speaker in our mom’s group today. I for one am against guest speakers, preferring instead to sit around with the others drinking sparkling water eating hummus and complaining about our husbands.

Unfortunately, they didn’t leave me in charge.

Today an “early childhood creative dance” instructor blew into the room with many, many, many cumbersome bags full of many textured vinyl rainbow-colored mats (for traction!) and rainbow-colored balls (for core development!) and metallic rainbow-colored crinkly paper ribbons (for sparkle!) and rainbow-colored scarves (for flair!) and models of the brain (for a condescending lecture!)

Okay, she only had one model of the brain—or she only pulled one out of her bags—in order to illustrate the point that movement is essential to baby brain development otherwise all our children will end up with ADD, especially if we leave their socks on.

How would this occur? I don’t know. I wasn’t able to pay much attention to her lecture, what with all the big bouncy balls! and sparkly metallic crinkly ribbons! and swishing rainbow scarves! and singing! and barefoot crying babies! and the surreptitious nervous glances flashing between the moms!

“I guess it takes a certain kind of special to want to teach dance classes to rooms full of screaming infants,” one of the moms astutely surmised out of the corner of her mouth as the early childhood creative dance instructor packed up her ribbons! and scarves! and balls! and mats! at the end of her presentation.

Yes, indeed. A certain kind of special.

It also takes a certain kind of special to try to convince a room full of intelligent, educated moms that unless we purchase mats and balls and ribbons and scarves, our children will be, and I quote, “Sixty percent more likely to have a sensory integration disorder.”

Or I think that’s what she said. My attention was... Wait. Was that a bell I just heard? Accompanied by light reflecting off the... Woops, a ball is rolling into... Oooh! Look! Shiny!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Putting the "Fun" in "Less Neurotic Than Before"

So. It turns out that despite the challenges of new motherhood, I survived teaching my first class since the baby was born without losing my mind or my patience or my place in the readings or anyone’s homework. I even showed up every week with combed hair and wearing shirts not sporting any spit-up stains. Granted, the quarter was only six weeks long (what can I say?—we’re creative writers), but still. An accomplishment.

Another accomplishment: at the end of class several students told me how much fun they’d had, and I took it as a compliment.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Passing the Time

How in the bloody hell is it March already? My three-and-a-third-months-old baby was born yesterday, I swear.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Friendly Gendered Skies

On an airplane today, flying to L.A. to visit Dr. Husband’s mom while he does some work at the University of Alaska this week. The plane is full. I’m in the window seat with the baby on my lap/boob. The middle seat is occupied by a sweet-seeming Ukrainian woman. The aisle is taken by a chatty man who works for World Vision and does his banking at Bank of America and used to do a lot of international travel but now is mostly traveling domestically, as his wife prefers to stay home in Seattle.

As a rule I believe the armrests on either side of the middle seat belong to the person in the middle seat because what else does that person have, really? But it turns out that trying to nurse discretely on an airplane sort of requires the use of the nursing-boob-side armrest. So I apologetically ask the woman next to me if it’s okay if I use the armrest between us to prop up my arm while I nurse. She kindly agrees. I use it for five or ten guilt-ridden moments during takeoff, feeling like a shitty row-mate.

Midway through the flight I glance over and see that Mr. Bank of America International Travel World Vision With the Travel-Averse Wife is totally hogging both his armrests. Without asking. Or apologizing. Or, presumably, feeling guilty. And I think, not for the first time, that is the definition of patriarchy.

Motherese on Down the Road

Some sort of child language expert came to give a presentation to our mom’s group this morning, to answer questions about our babies’ language development.

I find most baby-related topics too tedious to think about for too long on any sort of intellectual level (any level at all other than: Tell me the quickest, most effective and painless way to get my child to sleep through the night), and language development is no exception. My child will talk when she talks. In the meantime she will gurgle and coo and cry and then eventually point and nod and grab, and all will be well. Or, alternately, she’ll have some sort of major and concerning speech delay and then we’ll consult some sort of specialist and figure out what the deal is.

Have I mentioned that as an undergraduate psych major I never once opened my Developmental Psychology text book?

Anyway, I’m in the mom’s group for the camaraderie and the snacks, so I’d planned to duck out before Language Lady began. Alas, the baby was napping contentedly when Miss Communication began her spiel, so we stuck around for a while—all the way through When your baby giggles, she’s communicating with you! past Some people like to use sign language with their babies to help them communicate! and We call it PARENTese now, not MOTHERese, up to, It’s GOOD to read to your child! By the time she got to When you read to your baby, you should point to the pictures of faces and talk about the emotions being expressed! Oooh, look at de baby’s wittle face! What a sad little faceypoo! Why is the wee wittle baby sad?!

My own wee wittle babypoo and I couldn’t take it any more and had to leave, waving bye-bye all the way out the door.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Work in Progress

I am now officially a full-fledged member of the parenting club I was so reluctant to join. I paid my dues and everything—and I’m not speaking metaphorically. I’ve attended three meetings and have come to think of the ten other moms as my coworkers. (The ten other babies are, of course, my baby’s coworkers.) They help the day pass much more quickly. They share their snacks. They’re great for conversations around the water cooler. And if the boss gets upset with the quality of my work, I know they’ve got my back. (Who’s the boss? The baby, I suppose. Or maybe Tony Danza. Whichever. They communicate their desires with clear verbal instructions to me equally often.)

The downside, of course, is the inevitable competitiveness—not over assignments or clients or praise from the boss but jeans size and sleeping habits of our offspring.

My personal low today hit me after the following exchange:

Me: Does anyone else try to get work done at home and feel like it’s impossible?

Sweet Blonde Woman [est. size 6 jeans]: Yeah. It’s challenging, isn’t it?

Me [size 12 jeans]: Totally! How do you—?

Sweet Blonde Woman: I can only get work done in a few two-hour chunks when she’s napping in her crib.

Me [in my head]: Two-hour naps? A few of them? In her crib?

Me [in reality]: ---

Sweet Blonde Woman: Also, I get up at 6 so I can get a few hours of work done before she wakes up. But you don’t want to do that! [Smiling.]

Me [in my head]: Right! I don’t want to do that because the 3 to 21 minutes of work I would get done before my child wakes up is hardly worth it. And since my child has migrated to a spot right next to me by 6 in the morning, she would likely wake up with me anyway! Why won’t my child sleep in her crib?! Why won't she sleep until 8am? Why won’t she nap for more than 20 minutes at a time?! Why must she sleep on me?! When will Dr. Husband and I ever have sex again?!

At this point the facilitator sensed my panic and very gently reminded me that my baby is younger than Size 6 Sweet Blonde Woman’s baby. There’s hope, she seemed to be trying to say. Or maybe, Chill the hell out, crazy anxiety lady. You’re scaring all the babies.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

My Day, Made

As I was leaving the house without the baby today I thought about how long it’s been since anyone has flirted with me. People just do not flirt with pregnant ladies or moms of tiny babies—especially when they seldom leave the house. So you can imagine my delight when a bus driver hopped off his resting bus and asked me if there was any good food in the neighborhood.

That's flirtation, right? Right?!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Big Day (And It's Not Even Noon)

Last night, Dr. Husband and I had the following exchange as he removed a bag of Sara Lee bread crusts from the freezer so he can make stuffing (and a roast chicken!) tonight for dinner (I know—a Jewish doctor who cooks!):

Dr. Husband: Nobody does it like Sara Lee.

Me: You know, when I was growing up, I always wondered whether it was “Nobody does it like Sara Lee” or “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”

Dr. Husband, in a tone that says, obviously, people: It’s “Nobody does it like.”

Me: Yeah, well. I thought the double negative was weird, but whatever.

Dr. Husband: Silly.

Me: I was twelve.


Today has been slightly more exciting. I took the baby to meet a friend for coffee, and first Dan Savage told me he loved my baby.

Then the guy who started The Onion told me my baby was cute and gave me a recommendation on a daycare center.

Then—and this is the best part—as I was stopped at a red light on the way home a Sara Lee truck drove by. The side of it read: “Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trial Run

Dr. Husband and I took the baby to her first movie today. We both really wanted to see Up in the Air with George Clooney but realized we’d be better off going to a movie we didn’t want to see, what with the baby’s propensity for fussing, crying, cooing, giggling, and otherwise not being a silent moviegoer. So we took in a 10 a.m. showing of When in Rome, which A.O. Scott summed up for us beforehand: “Its failure to produce anything much in the way of worthwhile complication is not the only problem with this frantic and dispiriting movie.”

Perfect! Neither of us has gotten nearly a good enough night’s sleep to handle much complication, especially if it’s worthwhile!

I got pretty nervous during the “Please don’t spoil the movie by adding your own soundtrack/Silence is golden” PSA, which, as you may recall, includes a baby crying in Dolby stereo, but in the end my child was an angel. The type of angel who poops all over every item of clothing on her body before a movie and screams inconsolably all the way home after it, but still an angel.

And, yes, the movie was bad, but not all that frantic or dispiriting—which was good because Dr. Husband and I both managed to see every single minute of it, uninterrupted by our child.

Sundance, here we come!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Please Join Me

I’m not much of a joiner. Oh, I’ll take a class once a decade or so, but in general I prefer the comforts of loneliness to the discomforts of small talk and role playing and having my torso and face break out in red blotches while everyone stares at me as I’m forced to introduce myself and name my favorite animal.

The idea of signing up with the local nonprofit that matches new Seattle parents with other people in town with babies the same age as theirs filled me full of dread—especially when I learned there would be singing.

It turns out, though, that stay-at-home-and-try-to-write-a-teeny-bit motherhood is boring. And lonely—lonely in a way that’s starting to make small talk and publicly naming my favorite animal sound appealing. So when the 400th person told me I had to sign up, I did, despite my reservations about the singing and the facilitated conversations about such scintillating topics as feeding, clothing, washing, and trimming the fingernails of my family’s newest member. I was in it for the camaraderie of other stay-mostly-at-home moms. And the Perrier.

I attended my first meeting today and had only two social anxiety attacks—the first when I realized that despite the fact people having been telling me I “look great” for having just had a baby, there are moms out there (moms in my group!) who look considerably “greater” than I do. It should be illegal for new moms to wear jeans smaller than a size 10 around other new moms! Honestly! The nerve!

My second attack of teariness occurred when the other moms talked about their schedules. They have schedules! They have husbands who work consistent, predicable hours and are home at consistent, predictable times! Their husbands can “do” the 7pm feeding because their husbands are always home by 7. Hell—they have a 7pm feeding! What’s up with that? I thought you were supposed to feed two-month-olds when they’re hungry. How do they get their babies to be hungry every night at 7?

Let it be resolved that I am going to impose structure on the baby’s and my life. Dr. Husband can negotiate his life around ours as his crazy “sometimes I work from 6am to 3pm-ish, sometimes I work from 11am to 8pm-ish, sometimes I work from 1pm to 10pm-ish, sometimes I work from 11pm to 6am-ish” work schedule allows.

On the bright side, at least my baby didn't poo all over the hostess’s wool couch.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Putting the "Fun" in "Neurotic"

I taught my first class since having the baby yesterday. Okay, technically it was my second class, but the first was a volunteer class to drum up business for this actual class I’m teaching for the next six weeks, so this is the first one that counts. I’d forgotten how nervous I get in front of other people, particularly when I’m out of practice. Hell, I’m out of practice leaving the house, much less imparting wisdom about creative writing to a roomful of creative writers.

I’d forgotten, too, how much more neurotic I am about pretty much everything besides being a mom (and all it takes to thrust me into those particular throes of neurosis is to pick up a book on parenting—so I suppose I shouldn’t be blowing that particular horn after all). I once knew a lady who was so neurotic. How neurotic was she? She was so neurotic that when after teaching her first creative writing class after having a baby, two students came up to her and told her they’d had fun, she nearly burst into tears.


Real classes aren’t fun.

Real classes are challenging and engaging and gripping and mind-blowing. “Fun” is for amusement parks and trips to the ice cream parlor and late night dance parties.

Next thing you know they’re going to be telling me that I’m an adequate teacher with average ideas who gives mundane but functional assignments.

Fun, my ass.

Next week I’m taking away their bathroom break.



Monday, January 18, 2010

Wacky Parenting Interaction #19

The setting: The cafĂ© up the street from our house which the baby and I use as a latte-providing destination to motivate us to go for walks in the cold Seattle winter rain—though today it was gloriously sunny and too warm for a coat.

The characters: Me, my two-month-old daughter, and a hippieish man in his sixties with scraggly facial hair and a slightly wild glint in his eye.

Hippie man: Oh, wow. A baby. Are you nursing?

Me [crossing my hands in front of my chest while giving him the finger]: Am I nursing? Are you seriously asking me that? What the fuck business is it of yours?

Me [in reality]: Uh—yeah.

Hippie Man [Giving the double thumbs-up, a la The Fonz]: Right on. There’s no point in having a baby if you’re not going to…

Me [Trying to cut him off by wheeling the stroller past him and towards the door]: Uh, huh.

Hippie Man: That’s great, that’s great. He’ll be immune to everything.

Me: Um. I hope so.

Hippie Man: No really, he will! That’s how it works!

Me: Go back to the sixties and leave the world’s mothers alone!

Me [in reality, hustling us out the door]: --- .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mother and Child Reunion

You know how in every crowd there’s one mom—at least!—who acts all sanctimonious about her parenting choices, making everyone else feel crappy and angry and irritated?

Well, today Dr. Husband and the baby and I attended a reunion of our Lamaze Class From Hell and the worst person in the room was the facilitator who was as nightmarish as she was originally, twisting every epidural into a “medical intervention” that ideally would have been avoided.

When it came my turn in the circle to tell my “birth story” (when did this become a thing, by the way? Did 19th century moms have birth stories? Well, the mister boiled some water and I screamed and pushed real hard and didn’t die and here we are…) I delighted in announcing that I lasted all of an hour without an epidural, getting one as soon as the nurse answered my question of, “Well, how much worse are these contractions going to get?” with, “Oh, honey. So much worse.”

I didn’t want to feel like a failure for getting an epidural—it was pretty much always plan “A” for me.

Lamaze Lady made herself feel better by summarizing our collective birth stories with, “Well, it sounds like all five of you had really hard labors and used epidurals only when necessary.”

I wanted to shout out, “Not me! Not me! I got an epidural long before I needed one!” but managed instead to just exchange a meaningful glance with Dr. Husband.

When Lamaze Lady left I thought the judgmentalism part of the event was done—but then the mom hosting the event brought up one of those dangling toy “gyms” for another mom’s baby to play with while the grownups ate cookies. I remarked how nice it was that the gym was made entirely of fabric rather than a bunch of made-in-China plastic. The hostess casually mentioned that they try to avoid plastic whenever possible. “Oh, us too!” I cheered, thinking nothing of it.

Well. As one of the other moms was getting her baby situated in her carseat for the ride home, she pointed to some toys dangling from the handle of the carrier and said that, like my child, her baby hated traveling in the car, too—until she’d attached toys for her to play with. I nodded and smiled and started to say, “Good idea—I should totally get some—” When she added, “They are plastic and they are made in China.”

I was so startled that I stupidly—stooo-pid-leee—said, “Oh, that’s okay, it’s not like she can put them in her mouth.”

And then the baby grabbed the cute plastic made-in-China dragonfly hanging in the middle and mouthed the hell out of that thing.

Yes, today I was that mom.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wish I May

The other night, sometime around 3am, or perhaps 2:00 or 4:00, I asked myself: If I could have anything in the world right now, what would it be? Why I felt compelled to play magic genie with myself I have no idea, other than the fact that I’ve grown wary (and weary!) of logging onto the New York Times website and reading about horrible things happening in the world in the middle of the night and I’ve exhausted Hulu's repertoire of Modern Family and Community and Glee, so I’m pretty much left with my own sleepy mind for entertainment.

ANYway, I asked myself what I would wish for if a genie emerged from a lantern (or, more likely (if "likely" is the right word, which it is not) a breast pump), and the answer came hard and fast: A weekend by myself in a nice hotel with nothing to do but sleep under a duvet and eat round-the-clock breakfast from room service.

Sure, I would miss my little bundle of joy during the five or ten minutes I was awake and stuffing pancakes into my mouth, and, yes, I would have to pump to keep up my milk supply, and, sure, my wee one would probably miss me and wonder why I left her alone with the parent with the scratchy face for so long, but, oh, that duvet—so soft and fluffy and warm and cozy and delicious. And, oh, those pancakes—so soft and fluffy and warm and cozy and delicious, too.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Friend of the Year

I had coffee this afternoon with a (childless) friend and discovered that I’ve hit the point of new parenthood when I no longer have anything interesting to say.

Oh, I could go on about how adorable my baby is when she makes this one particular noise or how her pouty face is cuter than any other pouty face in the world—but I vowed NEVER TO BE THAT KIND OF PARENT, so I’m left with nothing.

Pretty much unless you want to discuss strategies for interviewing babysitters or getting a two-month-old to sleep when she’s not lying on someone’s chest or removing mustardy breast-fed-baby poo stains from onesies without resorting to bleach (or is bleach perfectly fine? I don’t know because it’s too boring to ask other people about!), I won’t be a good conversationalist.

Oh, I try. I ask my friend about her job and her new boyfriend, but my queries are clunky at best. So, how’s the job going? And: Are things still good with the new boyfriend? Follow-up questions are beyond me, not because I don’t care but because I cannot think of what to ask next. Or sometimes because my baby just pooed and I can feel it leaking through her diaper onto my t-shirt because, did you know? Newborn baby poo is the consistency (and color!) of butternut squash soup! Isn’t that interesting? No! Of course not! Never mind!

I try to keep up with current events. I read the newspaper—but I do it in online the middle of the night during feedings, so by morning my recall is spotty at best. Bombing? An airplane? In his underwear?

Truth be told, I’m quite proud of myself for remembering that my friend has a job and a boyfriend. And, hey, I usually even remember the boyfriend's name, which, considering that I forgot my own age the other day, is really just completely fucking incredible. I should get a medal or something.