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.