Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts on being a celebrity

I've always been a shy girl. I used to sit in the back of class and look down at my desk in an attempt to avoid eye contact with anyone who happened to enter the classroom. Walking down the street, I would count the lines on the sidewalk or stare at the buildings overhead so that I wouldn't accidentally make eye contact with people I was passing. Parties are the worst. I hate making small talk with strangers - I instantly feel self conscious and want nothing more than to curl up with a book alone. Like most shy people, I have trained myself to function in this society. I force myself to return smiles when I see them, and I've memorized a list of questions that I use when mingling with strangers or trying to get to know new co-workers. I've gotten very good at pretending - my friends look at me like I'm nuts when I admit to them that I'm shy, and my boss used to shove me in leadership positions "because I was so good with people." Despite my advancements, I still posses the skills necessary to make myself all but invisible when walking down a crowded street or in a room full of strangers.

I took Alice on a walk today through downtown to visit SDN for lunch. She was in her favorite position - in the MOBY facing outward. If you've never seen a baby in this position, it really is quite a site. Alice loves to watch the world safely strapped to my chest, and everyone we meet goes nuts over how adorable she is.

We were walking through downtown, and within my carefully constructed bubble of anonymity, I began to notice that strangers were not ignoring me as they usually did when I avoided eye contact and tried to be invisible. They would casually glance at me, but before their eyes had a chance to slide away, their pupils would widen and they would purposefully look from Alice to me. They would force their eyes into my bubble, making sustained eye contact as giant grins erupted all over their faces. Hardened city dwellers melted at the sight of little Alice. "What an adorable baby," old women exclaimed. "Look at that hair," about a dozen people commented. One man even went so far as to have an entire conversation with Alice as I politely nodded and smiled. "Hee, hee, hee. Are you enjoying your ride, buddy? I wish someone would carry me around like that. You got some hair on your head. I wish I had hair like that. You goin' off to work? You work around here? Where do you work? Ha Ha Ha! That's one cute baby you got!" I thanked him and continued on.

I never know what to say when people tell me how cute Alice is. I guess I can take some credit for it as I did pass along some mighty cute jeans, but "thank you" doesn't quite seam like the best response. If I had half the guts I would like to have and twice the honesty, I would proabably just say, "I know," but that would really throw people, and I try to avoide making people uncomfortable if I can. Now that I think about it, though, I'd bet people would really get a kick out of it if I responded with "I know" instead of "thank you". Sure, I might offend a few old women, but most people would probably laugh, and isn't that what Alice is all about: making strangers happy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Good Dads

I am married to an amazing husband and wonderful father. I know a lot of people say this, but SDN really is quite extraordinary.

We went to SDN's company picnic last weekend and SDN was carrying Alice around and playing with her while I ate. We have become a well-oiled machine at taking turns playing with Alice while the other one eats - its almost second nature. SDN becomes almost like a child himself when he plays with Alice. He talks to her in a high pitched baby voice and makes funny faces and farting sounds. Its quite a sight - especially among a bunch of professionals.

When we were getting ready to leave, one of women we had met approached SDN. "It was good to meet you. I can tell you really love your daughter."

SDN: Thank you. I do really love her.
Random woman at party: No, I can tell you really care for your daughter
SDN: Thank you...

This woman almost had a tear in her eye when she said this. She was so amazed to see a father so devoted to his child. It got me thinking. Is is really so rare in our culture for dads to take an interest in their children? It is almost expected that mothers love and care for their babies, but is it a rarity for a father to take that kind of interest? As a teacher, I knew every single one of my students' mothers, but I only knew about 3 fathers. When I asked for parent volunteers, it was the mom's who took time off work to help. Only about 1 in 10 fathers even bothered to show up for parent teacher conferences.

I know from reading blogs that there are some involved, wonderfully caring fathers out there, but maybe they are more rare than I thought. Growing up, I hardly ever saw my father - he worked so much. I want to think that my generation is different. That now fathers are interested in being part of their children's lives. I guess I'm just grateful that I lucked out marrying one of the good ones.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Night LIfe

I think my husband is leading a double life (I mean apart from his Ninja escapades). During the day he is "super dad extraordinare," but at night he turns into a completely different person. It started with the sex. He would initiate sex (and sometimes even engage in it) without remembering any of it in the morning (that alone is enough to hurt anyone's pride). It is becoming more than just that, though. Last night, SDN, opened his eyes and stared at me for five minutes straight.

Me: What are you doing?
SDN: Moving my throwing stars
Me: Sweetie, you don't really have throwing stars
SDN: I know, but I need to move them off the bedside table.
Me: Are you awake?
SDN: What are you talking about?
Me: What am I talking about? I don't think you are really awake.
SDN: I need to move these.

He then proceeded to lean over the bedside table and move his arm around and around without touching anything. I couldn't help it, I started laughing.

SDN: What?
Me: Nothing...I think you should go to sleep now.
SDN: When we get there, I'll let you know.
Me: You do that.

He finally closed his eyes and rolled over. While it was all very funny, I was thinking about it later and actually got a little freaked out. He didn't remember any of this in the morning. It was like I was talking to a complete stranger in the middle of the night in my own bed. I have an overactive imagination and, of course, started to imagine the worst. What if his night time persona is really a serial killer. What if he really sneaks out every night to hunt down unspecting victims? I guess its a good thing I don't have time to watch thriller movies anymore. I might be forced to make him sleep on the couch.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hunger Strikes

My beautiful baby is brilliant. She has successfully discovered the secret to keeping mommy near her at all times. All she has to do is refuse the matter what. By doing this, she ensures that I will never leave her for longer than three hours at a time.

SDN and I went out for our bi-monthly date to celebrate our 2 year anniversary. We had hoped to eat dinner at one of those "fancy" restaurants - you know, the ones where the tables are too close together to fit a stroller and the atmosphere is quiet enough that a screaming baby would disturb more than a few people - then see a movie (the kind of movie that doesn't begin at 10am and include a theatre full of other screaming babies). After a luxuriously long dinner (90 minutes!) we called home and discovered that Alice was refusing to eat. We walked around downtown - saw a sunset on the water - and called home again. By this time, Alice was hungry (it had been over 2 and 1/2 hours since she last ate) but was still treating the bottle as if it were poisoned. That kid defiantly has my number. There was no way I could leave her for another two hours when I knew that she was hungry.

When we got home, Alice looked at me like, "oh, back so soon. Since you're here, you might as well feed me." She wasn't upset in the slightest, but she drank like a drunk frat boy on a Saturday night.

Maybe this is just a stage that she will grow out of. Maybe she will wake up one day and decide that the bottle is a good thing. Maybe I'll win the lottery and buy a house on the beach with a cleaning service and a personal cook and a little blue fairy who will grant all my wishes...

Friday, August 8, 2008


I am such a geek. At least that is what my 8th graders used to tell me in one of those affectionate "we like you but we're still going to make fun of you" sort of ways. I have been looking forward to today for years. Not because it is the first day of the Olympics (although I am following the woman's soccer - go Hope Solo), but because it is 08/08/08. 8 has got to be one of the coolest numbers in the world. It is infinity sideways, it is a cube number, and it is the atomic number for oxygen (which we all need to survive), as well as a many other reasons. Today there are three eights!

Alice couldn't agree with me more. One of the most wonderful things about having a 3 month old daughter is that I can tell her anything and as long as I say it with a smile, she smiles back and agrees. Its like having your own personal "yes" man by your side 24/7.

SD: Alice, did you know that today is a very special day?
Alice: (smiles) I didn't mama. Tell me more.
SD: Today's date is 08/08/08. Isn't that exciting?!
Alice: (laughing) Is it really? That is so cool! You are so cool, mama!
SD: Really. You don't think I'm a geek?
Alice: (in fits of laughter) No way, mama. You are the coolest person alive!

Just to prove her point, she decided to stop whatever she was doing (including crying) every time she saw me today to give me an enormous grin. I guess I'm doing something right to deserve that kind of devotion. Although she could have just been happy that today was 08/08/08.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ups and Downs

I am feeling low right now. Up until this point, I was fairly secure in my belief that I was doing everything I could to be the best mother possible for little Alice. I had read all the research - I even studied infant development in college. In an attempt to be the perfect attachment parent, I carried Alice with me wherever I went. When the Moby wrap was so completely covered in spit up and drool that I couldn't possibly ignore it any more, I would quickly throw it in the wash and carry Alice with me in my arms for the next two hours. I've catered to her every whim - brilliantly stopping cries before they had a chance to begin based solely on her cues. I guess I'm telling you all this so that I don't feel so guilty.

I took a survey today on-line about parenting, and one of the questions was "how much time do you spend with your child (not counting driving, TV, computer, or talking with other adults)?" Looking at this questions, I realized that for all my good intentions, I hardly spend any time during the day interacting with just Alice. I'm always trying to clean the house, or driving us somewhere to meet other mommies, or talking with my friends about how challenging it is to raise a child. I probably spend at most and hour or two a day playing with Alice without all those other distractions.

I know its ridiculous, but I really feel like an awful mother today. I haven't been interacting with my daughter enough. I look around the house and it is a mess - all that time that I had spent cleaning (with Alice firmly attached to my front) is wasted. There is always so much to do and there is no way that I am ever going to get it all done. I don't want to look back on my life and realize that I missed my daughter growing up because I was too busy trying to clean up that was determined to stay messy and chatting with friends.

I remember when I would have bad days teaching. When I could tell that my students didn't understand a word that I was saying and they were bored and miserable and I was bored and miserable. I always used to think that no matter what happens today, there is always tomorrow. I guess I get up tomorrow and just try harder.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mommy World

With the birth of my daughter has come a ticket into this strange and unfamiliar world I like to call "mommy world". Mommy world is a place where new mothers get together and try to figure out this what their lives have become since the birth of their child. Attendance is mandatory - participation is optional.

I have have always had a strong leaning towards hermit-hood. If given the choice between going to a party and staying in to watch movies and eat pizza, I would choose the latter option every time. Its not that I don't enjoy drinking and mingling as much as the next just takes so much effort. I would much rather drink and enjoy the company of a small group of select friends who won't analyze every little thing I say...or at least if they do then they don't hold it against me. I have a tendency to be far too honest in initial conversations which can be putting to those that don't know me. I would say things like, "thank goodness there is someone here who is as fat as me," or "wow, five drinks and you're still walking up stairs. Does someone have a 'problem'?" I spend half the night trying to take my enormous foot out of my mouth. But I digress...

After the birth of Alice, I fought vigorously to maintain my quiet, solitary life despite the best advice of all those books everyone reads and my doctor, whom I adore. I took her on walks and scoped out the mommy and me movies that only show at 10am on a Thursday morning. I ran errands and planned dinners that I always found an excuse not to cook. For three solid weeks after my husband went back to work, I managed to live my life on a day-to-day basis with only an infant for company. Then I realized that if I don't have adult conversation at least once during the day, I start to go a little nuts. So, I stepped into mommy world.

I joined a group of women that met every Wednesday for lunch who drank too much and were all about to get a divorce, and I joined a group of women who met every Tuesday who researched all the new toys and had advice on every topic imaginable pertaining to babies from how to get them to go to sleep to what diaper is the most socially responsible. I figured between the two groups I actually ended up with a nice balance. I was amazed at how little effort joining this mommy world was. All I had to do was express the smallest amount of interest and the people came to me. Suddenly, I had people wanting to get lunch and go for walks on a daily basis. My social calender was busier than it had ever been. Alice was as shocked by the turn of events as I was. Every day a new baby stared blankly at her while reaching out a wobbly hand to touch her arm. We became wildly popular. Apparently honesty is a good thing when it comes to raising a child, and my mommy friends couldn't get enough. Having other mothers to talk to is surprising helpful. I'm realizing that my baby is not the only baby in the world who would rather poke burning hot stakes through her eyes than sit in the car seat for five minutes, and that it is perfectly normal to poop green every once in a while. Who knew? I still find this mommy world a strange and unfamiliar place, but it is helping me get a grip on my sanity, and I honestly think that the other mothers are just as lost and confused as I am.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cooking and Cleaning

I am such a failure as a housewife. Housewives are supposed to be able to do things like...cook and clean and handle a screaming baby while knitting a new sweater and planning a party at the same time. I can't even do these things individually. Its like I'm mentally stuck in the dorms at college where all I have to do is keep my half of the clearly divided closet-like room from spilling over onto my roommate's half and pop over to the cafeteria whenever I get hungry.

My husband turned 29 years old on Thursday and I, being the super-talented housewife that I am - decided to throw him a birthday bash. We were going to make sushi and play games - oh, I had it all planned out in my head. There would be copious amounts of food and decorations. Hundreds of his closest friends would be waiting to sing him happy birthday while feasting on sushi and drinking mango margaritas. I would be in the background, smug in my certainty that I am the most amazing person alive. I hit my first road block trying to shop for the party. Alice informed me in no uncertain terms that she was not going to stand for all this running around in the car and I was just going to have to pick my favorite store and only go there. All this sounded like a super-sonic wail emanating from the car seat in the back. So, I decided that decorations really weren't all that essential and crossed those off. Then I realized that in order to have a party, one must invite guests. I called, rather frantically, our small group of super supportive friends only to discover that half of them couldn't make it. Alice also informed me that there was no way she was going to sit idly by while I cleaned the house. No problem. I pretty much suck at cleaning anyway - now I have an excuse. I burned the sushi rice (who burns rice), bought the wrong kind of nori and the cheap alcohol.

My grand vision of a party turned out to be five close friends politely eating burnt rice with raw fish while trying not to notice the mess. Alice, with her adorable cheeks and propensity to blow spit bubbles, was the hit of the party. Next time, I'm just going to call the party what it is and invite friends over to come play with my cute baby.

Sex after baby

I read somewhere that a woman's libido drops significantly after having a baby. Something about it being a natural way to ensure that a woman doesn't get pregnant immediately following the birth of a child - as if the copious amounts of sweat, spit-up, spotting, and leaky boobs don't already to the trick. I have not felt even the tiniest bit sexy since the birth of my daughter over two months ago, and, my husband - bless his long suffering heart - has not tried to push the issue...awake.

My husband and I are trying to do attachment parenting which requires the child to sleep in the same bed with you, so last night I was cuddled next to Alice, my daughter, on one side, and my husband on the other. Around 2am, Alice woke up for a feeding, and as I was feeding her on on my left boob, I felt a tug at the burp cloth that covers the drippage of my right boob. Too tired to process this information fully, it wasn't until my husband started kissing my right boob that I knew something was amiss. This is the same man that has difficulty giving our daughter a bottle because it contains breast milk. He wants nothing to do with breast milk. It grosses him out the way cat vomit grosses me out.

Me: What are you doing?
SDN: (more kisses)
Me: You are about to get breast milk on your face.
SDN: You're sexy
Me: I'm breastfeeding Alice
SDN: (more kisses)
Me: Stop touching me.
SDN: (not even a little bit hurt) OK (rolls over and goes back to sleep)

The next morning I apologized to him for shutting him down so quickly and he looked at me blankly. About last night...I prompted. No recognition. He had absolutely no memory of the previous night's events.

There is an actual medical condition called sexsomina, which is - you guessed it - having sex while sleeping. I didn't believe it either when I first heard about it. Whats the fun in having sex and not being able to remember it the next day? My husband is a classic case. Its like sleep walking with an erection. I guess this no-sex thing has been harder on him that I thought.