Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Guilt, I Has It. Also, I Has Two Days of Rest a Week.


I always over-think things.  I know I do.  Every single one of the good decisions I’ve made in my life was made spontaneously, from the heart.  Usually followed by a good amount of supportive data collected after the fact, but always first proposed in an “OMG I’VE GOT IT!  I’M GOING TO [insert crazy thing here]!”  And if I try hard to make a good conscious decision, thinking and weighing the consequences, I’m likely going to make the wrong decision.  My past regrets are always ending with “well, it made sense at the time.” 

Sure, there are decisions that were made that made sense at the time that did not turn out to be bad.  This epitomizes that logical saying, “all trees are green things but not all green things are trees.” 

But because I over-think things, I then go back over the decisions that I made that I deemed “made sense at the time” to make sure that they still make sense and that they weren’t one of those bad decisions, because I know that I didn’t make it spontaneously so it could mean, in fact, that it was a bad decision but sometimes they aren’t bad, so which one is this, a bad decision or a good decision and oh, my god, someone hand me a drink ‘cause my head hurts.

If that last sentence made sense to you, you should have a drink too.

So what am I over-thinking these days?  Well, I put my child in childcare at 9 months of age. I could take a year off of school, but I wanted to go back before I forgot everything and when I went on maternity leave I was only a few months from finishing.  So I went back when Spawn was 6 months old and the Danish Boy took his three months of paternity leave to watch her.  But after three months, I wasn’t done with Danish, so once again I had to cross off another “when I have a child, I’ll never X” on my list. 

She’s in a private daycare, with one woman and a total of 5 children (including mine, the only baby), not one of those massive institutions that they have in DK, which may have a better ration of adults to children, but where the adults are often spending time with the other adults or focusing on one child exclusively because they assume the other adults are watching the other kids.  I get some flack for this, not just from Danes, but from other foreigners who say “oh, that’s a lot of children for one adult” but I feel far more comfortable watching our daycare minder keep tabs on her charges than when I see the ten children running wild at the large daycare while three adults sit on a bench chatting away with each other.

We originally chose our daycare minder because of location, but then when we met her, it just felt right.  And it always feels right when I drop the Spawn off (she tends to tear away from me and dive head-first into one of the toy boxes) and when I pick her up (she’s always glad to see me, but she’s never in a hurry to leave).  To this day, I’ve never once had to unwrap a crying child from my neck when we get to daycare.  The DB once remarked on this to a colleague, who suggested that it was because OBVIOUSLY we are such awful parents that our child must be glad to get away.  I told the DB that it would totally have been justifiable homicide, but he prefers to think that that not cutting the bitch is evidence of his highly evolved nature.  As an American, I am by default not as evolved… so she best sharpen her “It was just a joke, don’t you get Danish humor?” defense because I am sharpening my knives.

But why the guilt?

On Wednesday and on Friday, I don’t have class.  And on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I am out of class at 1:30.  And I don’t go get the Spawn from daycare.  I leave her there, until 4:30, every day.

At first it was because she naps in the afternoon, so getting her at 1:30 was interrupting her nap.  We did that the first week she was there and it SUCKED.  Then there was the problem that her schedule was all out of whack.  She only went three times a week, so establishing a routine was impossible.  See, it totally makes sense.  *Sound alarm bells!*

The truth is, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I really need non-baby time.  Yeah, time to do homework and housework, but also time to catch up on sleep and read and cuddle the cat.  *Open the big bag o’ guilt.*

It was only after I pulled a chest muscle and couldn’t lift the Spawn, which forced us to put her in daycare every day, all day, that I realized how much better it was for everyone.  Sure, I miss her bunches and I’m glad when she comes home.  But that’s just it - I actively look forward to seeing her!   After a long weekend, where I am the Spawn’s main companion (Dad and the cat are fun, but nobody beats the Mommy-lady), I’m exhausted.  Before I had the Spawn, I worried that I would be the kind of mom who just couldn’t wait to go back to work.  I discussed it with the Danish Boy, what would happen if I just really didn’t like being a mom?  What if I felt trapped or felt resentful?  So really, I like being a mom a hellufalot more than I thought.  But then the pendulum swings the other way.  Why can I not be the perfect mom who wants to stay home and nurture the child?  Some moms are forced to go back to work (cultural or economic reasons) and they would LOVE to be able to stay home or have more time with their child. 

So yeah, I’ve got some nice excuses: routine is good, she’s socializing, she’s getting her Danish lesson of the day, blah blah blah.  The truth is I cannot parent full-time.  In order to have that boundless patience, to be able to interact completely, to be able to read the Barnyard Animal book one more freaking time, I need to be able to sit in my pajamas until 3 in the afternoon twice a week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

One Year In


Okay, actually it’s 13 months because I had weeks of catching up to do.

But there you have it.  One year (plus) of livin’ in the Mommy 'hood.  A year of burp-rags and poop-filled diapers.   A year of surprises.  And yes, sometimes poop is the surprise.

You know how there’s this whole joke about babies not coming with a manual?  LAME!  There are a gazillion books about pregnancy and birth and then everyone stands around and goes “boy, I really wish that they had a manual for babies!”  What the hell man!?  I spent half the year googling “is [insert behavior/strange physical manifestation] normal?” A book would have been really handy.

And there ARE books out there on childcare and development and all that other stuff that you might want to know about.  But no one ever gives those books to you.  No.  They gift you with a dozen books on pregnancy and then it’s up to you, in your sleep-deprived, manic-new-parent way to wonder how long does projectile spit-up last and when, exactly, should one begin to worry.

I went with the old stand-by: until there’s blood, there’s no problem.

I still really could have used a book, though.

Here are some things that I’ve learned over the year.  Some of which came as a surprise. 

1) Whatever annoying behavior your child has, he or she will soon grow out of it.  And develop an even MORE annoying behavior.

2) Poop is just gross.  It never gets any easier, in fact it gets worse, but you do get better at holding your breath. 

3) Why the hell did people keep going on and on about doing Kegels?  Push-ups, people, PUSH-UPS!  You can wear panty-liners or Depends, but if you have weak arm muscles, you are in for a world of pain when you have to hold that baby for a few hours.  And you WILL have to hold the baby for hours at a time. 

4) The reason that you lose so much weight while breast-feeding is not because your fat is magically transformed into milk.  No, it’s because you end up trapped on the couch, nursing, while your dinner goes cold and then is eaten by the cat.  You miss a lot of meals while breastfeeding. 

5) When you are pregnant, you always have to pee.  You get very good at holding it and being uncomfortable until you can get to a toilet.  This is good practice because you will always have to pee while breastfeeding and you’ll just have to hold it until the baby a) falls asleep and you can hand her off to someone b) decides he’s done eating and is ready to play.  Either of these scenarios can also end with you holding a sleeping baby or a baby who is determined to beat you senseless with a stuffed bear WHILE YOU PEE.

6) When I was little, I imagined what it would be like if I had no hands.  (Didn’t everybody?  No?)  I taught myself to write (badly) with my feet.  Just in case.  Turns out this was great training for parenting.  Almost everything can be done one handed.  This does NOT include putting on a watch.  Try as I might, I cannot put on my watch while holding my child.

7) At some point, you realize that you are missing too many meals and start making your child more food than they need, just so you can eat the leftovers.

7b) Baby food tastes better than I thought.

8) There is nothing better in the whole wide world than when your child wraps their chubby little arms around your neck and gives you a hug. 

9) The three-second rule* becomes the three-day rule and I’ve decided that cat food can’t possibly be that bad, it hasn’t killed the cat, so it shouldn’t kill the child either.

*Wherein you can eat food that you’ve dropped as long as it has been on the ground for less than three-seconds.  Not applicable in every situation. 

10) Every “when I’m a parent I’ll never…” promise has been broken.  If fact, I’ll guarantee that if you say, “When I’m a parent I’ll never…” you WILL.  It’s like the Murphy’s Law of parenting.  Better not to verbalize what you won’t do.   People who have kids WILL CONTINUE give this advice to people without children and those people WILL CONTINUE to say, “When I’m a parent I’ll never…” It’s a vicious cycle.  It will never end. 

11) Being a parent has not made me less selfish or a better person.  I’m just too tired to give a crap about looking pretty.   

12) Having a child is like wearing a huge sign saying, “Please make snap judgments about me based on the performance of a small, willful, cranky human being with impulse-control issues.”

13) I have discovered a vast reservoir of patience that I never knew I had.  Unfortunately, the husband and the cat cannot tap it.  Neither can the stupid old people who pull out right in front of me when I need to get somewhere and DON’T THEY KNOW THAT MY CHILD IS SCREAMING IN THE BACK SEAT??  DIE, YOU GREY HAIRED BIDDIES, DIE!

14) I do amazing impressions of dogs, cats, sheep, cows, roosters and pigs.  Geese, on the other hand.  Geese are impossible.

15) Everything is more important than shaving your legs.  However, you should trim your toenails because it’s faster and easier to do than darning socks.

16) So far the weirdest thing I’ve had to do as a parent is hold my girl’s hands and whisper encouraging words while she has a particularly difficult poop.  Constipation is a BITCH and I would stab it in the eye if I could.

16b) Prunes work wonders.  And now you’ve been warned.

17) Buttons on baby clothes are the work of the devil.  After a child reaches 6 months of age, no buttons should be in use until they learn how to sit still again… approximately age 18.  Also, after six months, Velcro is a dumb idea.  “Hey let’s put something that makes an interesting noise and is easy to use on this article of clothing!  We’ll put it here where it’s easy for the child to reach!  And we’ll put soft, fluffy, decorations all around it for the Velcro to also stick to!”  Who the hell designs this stuff anyway?

18) There comes a day when you realize that your child is smarter than your cat or dog.  Suddenly, you can no longer assume “out of sight, out of mind” and you have to remember that they have opposable thumbs.  The only safe place for your valuables is in a locked trunk at the bottom of the sea.  Until they learn to swim.  Which they will, clever little monkeys.

19) Develop the “ah, how interesting” face - slight smile, slight lift of the eyebrows, slight nod of the head.  Non-committal and non-confrontational.  You need it for Judgy McJudgersens and it will probably come in handy when your child reaches puberty.

20) I look forward to doing things and seeing things even more because the Spawn will be part of it.  It’s like the whole world has been made new again!  It's amazing and awesome.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Putting the War in Wardrobe


Why does the New Year have to begin on January 1st?  I think we should move it to April 1st, get rid of April Fool’s Day (a stupid non-holiday only enjoyed by lame child-like men who find other people’s discomfort or distress amusing) and let the new year begin with the arrival of spring!

I bet more resolutions would be kept.  February was created just to ruin people’s best intentions of bettering themselves.  Valentines Day wreaks diets.  The dreary monotony of the weather ruins everything else.

Anyway, while I’ve been fighting to overcome the flu and a secondary infection (fancy words for shit-full-of-snot), I finally went though my wardrobes.  Yes, wardrobes plural.

The Danish Boy complained that I’ve gone through more clothes than he could possibly comprehend in the years that I’ve known him.

I told him that he was an idiot.

There was the skinny-chick wardrobe (wardrobe 1), that I had when we met, because I was unhealthily skinny when we first started dating, for a wide variety of reasons.  (None of them being the obvious ones.  I didn’t have an eating disorder or a body image issue, I was just a poor student who was in a bad relationship and I’m a comfort reader, not a comfort eater.)  Almost immediately I put on weight, bumping me up to normal weight and requiring a new wardrobe.  So that was wardrobe 2.  That wardrobe lasted until I got pregnant, 7 YEARS LATER.  Maternity clothing was wardrobe 3.  A woman’s body is permanently changed after giving birth, she simply does not go back to the way she was shaped, so I needed more clothing and that would be wardrobe number 4.

I pointed out that there are women who buy a new wardrobe EVERY YEAR.  I don’t think he believes me.  We even watched “Sex and the City: The Movie” (it was on TV, don’t get all excited) and he was all “don’t be silly, it’s a movie, women like that don’t exist in real life.”

Is there anything more frustrating than a man who doesn’t know how lucky he is?  I should switch from an Oreo cookie dependency to Manolo Blahniks.  (Although, let’s be honest, if it was a choice of overpriced footwear or more Oreo cookies… I’d say, pour me another glass of milk, good sir!)

ANYWAY.

I pulled all my pre-pregnancy clothes out of storage and went through them.  Out with the too small, the horrifically ugly (alas, I sometimes make huge fashion errors of judgment), and the seldom worn.  Some people might ask, “why get rid of something that you haven’t worn frequently?  Why not wear it more often?” and I would answer, “Because if I’m not wearing it regularly, it’s probably because I don’t like it and life is too short and my closet too small to keep clothing that I don’t wear.”  This doesn’t mean I got rid of *all* rarely worn outfits.  Obviously my wedding dress remains.  Fancy clothing gets a pass because it is a rare event when I get a chance to gussy up, but I’m not going to buy a new party dress ever time I have a party to go to.  Out went clothing that might-fit-if-I-just-lost-a-few-pounds, because who needs that shit?

Of course, in order to find out what fit, it meant a lot of trying on clothing.

The only thing more awful than trying on clothing is trying on clothing that you KNOW is going to be too small.  And obviously my mirror hates me.  How is it right that 90% of my shirts were too short, so that the post-baby-muffin-top hangs out in THE MOST UNFLATTERING WAY?  Or they were too tight across the shoulders.  Heck, some of them were both.  I looked like a quarterback squeezed into a cheerleaders uniform.  And how come the Hulk can hulk out and still fit in his pants and I go and have one little baby and suddenly it’s like no amount of fabric can cover my ass?

Ugh.

The worst part is that I know what I used to look like in those clothes.  Cute.  Svelte.  Dare I say, sexy?  Okay a few of the tank tops bordered on “trashy” and I wouldn’t wear them now… but at least let me be able to get them over my head!!

I was able to salvage a number of shirts, a sweater, and a pair of pants.  I shockingly still fit in most of my shorts.  I now fit perfectly into my oversized dig clothing (*sob*).  But what is noticeable is how much of my clothing was purchased for a woman who had a flat tummy.  No muffin top.  “Clingy” and “fitted” were apparently my guidelines.  Solid colors, no decoration to draw the eye upward or distract from unwanted bulges (can you tell I’ve been studying “What Not To Wear”?), no delineation of a waistline (because I used to have a pretty obvious one, now, not so much).

It’s become apparent.  I need a new wardrobe.  One that says “yummy mummy.”  Will someone be so kind as to distract the Danish Boy while I go shopping?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

My apologies!

Sorry, y'all for not posting these last few weeks.  I'm laid low with a sinus infection and even after a few days of penicillin, I'm still a snotty, coughing, feverish mess.

*cough*  Arghhhhh....