On Being ‘Mommy’

Having a baby changes your life. Everyone knows that, but then it happens to you and you know it know it. I’m still the same person, but I am more. And also less. And also different. Okay, there are layers to this thing that I haven’t yet figured out, but that’s what blogs are for, yes?

So a year + in, I thought I’d do the list thing. Here are a few changes I’ve noticed in myself, especially over the last month (wherein the hubs was gone and I was parenting solo, albeit with monster help from the grands).

1. I am a human garbage disposal. Growing up, this was my dad’s job, but I have taken on the task and I am very good at it, if I do say so myself. I will finish a half-eaten pear while eating noodles with my hands. I am cookie monster without the puppet metabolism (unfortunately). See also: eating weird things at weird times in weird places. Yesterday, lunch was half an avocado straight from the skin alternating with cold bean salad while standing up in my kitchen. At 2:30pm. I am not ashamed.

2. Accomplishing little things (showering, going to the park, cleaning) make me feel like superwoman. When you’re alone with a kid, your hands, hips, thoughts are very much occupied. This makes doing little things difficult.

3. I am the planniest planner in plantown. 80% of my time is now spent planning ahead so that I’m not stressed in the moment. I have not yet thought about how stressed the planning makes me and I’M NOT GOING TO SO SHUT UP. I should say the planning is all for the kid. No, I should say the planning is all for the people who I’m forcing to be around my kid. As we venture further and further from home (first flight/big trip completed recently – yay, superwoman [and supergram and supergrandad]!), I want to do everything I can to make sure my kid doesn’t screw up other people’s day. I know he will, but it makes me feel better that I tried.

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4. I am superstitious despite myself. If we had a bad night, I’m not going to re-use PJs, even if they are perfectly fine. Sometimes I will even change the sheets, just in case something on them/in them was bothering him. Unlike my lunchtime habits, I am definitely ashamed of this. I think it will get better as Mixo communicates more, but for now, trying to figure him out is like running through a pig farm blindfolded. So I do the dance, sing the song, and cross my fingers that it all works out okay. Superstition lady comes out mainly when it comes to…

5. Sleep. I now understand the value and beauty of sleep. When we make it through a full night, I am elated. When we don’t, I hate everything and everyone. The highs and lows come fast and hard when you’re a parent.

6. I now know exactly how lucky I am to have the partner that I have. If people actually have kids to keep a marriage together, they are insane people. I’m hoping this is just a pop culture trope and it doesn’t happen in real life, but I fear it does. Kids will test the hell out of a marriage.

7. I’m less afraid to speak my mind and I’m more sure of what I want. It’s Mixon-specific, unfortunately, and still a work in progress, but when someone’s doing something that doesn’t work for me, I stop it. I love tips and advice, and I will listen to anything, but I’m less afraid to hurt someone’s feelings by giving them a definitive no. ‘Less’ is the operative word here. As I said, this one is still in-progress.

8. I spend my life talking and singing. My. Entire. Life.

9. I don’t care what other people think (as much). There’s a fine line on this one. Planner lady in #3 of this list does her work so that I don’t have to worry about it in the moment. I want Mixon to experience the world, to explore it. And as long as he doesn’t put his banana hands all over a stranger’s pants (that has happened) or pull on someone else’s boobs or arm/neck fat (this has so far been reserved for me), I’m okay if he talks loudly or walks around, as long as it’s somewhere where that doesn’t ruin someone else’s experience. Some people don’t care about kids, I get it, and #3 lady is doing what she can to make sure you’re ok. But at some point, you gotta let go and realize babies be crazy. We all have to live in the world, Mixon included.

10. I notice things more. It is impossible not to be observant with a baby bNgOxuVV_ofJAhw5Mu2LnUgNEyqizL6hoNNH0mhzCdE=w583-h545-noaround. When your kid is pointing to everything and making a ‘huh’ noise, you name it, and that forces you to notice the little things. Most of the time, it’s a chair or a boot, but other times, it’s the way snow is crunching under your feet or how it feels to bite into an apple. It’s literally a new perspective on life, as in never-before-experienced. And I get to witness it. Pretty cool. (Also a very nice bonus for my career as a writer.)

There’s more, there’s always going to be more. And it’s not all good. This is a list focused on the good, because that’s where I like to live, but kids are rough, and babies are rougher. You can’t communicate, they can’t communicate, and everybody is exhausted. That’s why they make them so adorable.

IMG_3100Adorable only goes so far, though. The best thing about being a parent, the thing I try to remember when everybody is sobbing, is that we get to watch them turn into people. Hopefully kind, funny, amazing people. That’s pretty much why I had a kid, and the process is exactly as awesome as I thought it would be.

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Everything is fine and then…

People kept saying it to us. You’ll find a norm, you’ll get comfortable, and then – bam – something happens. Teething, sickness, apocalyptic thunderstorms, a change in the star-moon alliance gridzone of astrology… Something changes and your nights are not your nights. Your baby is no longer your baby.

Mixon’s First Big Sick could have been much bigger and badder. It was a simple fever, no other symptoms, but because this was our first fever and because we couldn’t see our pediatrician the first time, we ended up at the doctor’s office twice. Both visits were a very necessary complete waste of time.

I know calling a fever a ‘big sick’ is hilarious to most of you, but we’ve had really good luck with Mix. He’s had two colds. Period. In his life. That’s mostly because we were all hermits for the first three months and didn’t really branch out a whole lot until recently. So for him (and for us), this was big.

He’s all better now and making up for the food he didn’t eat when he was sick (seriously, I need to get a funnel and just pour). We were lucky we still had formula to waste and at least a bit of milk still in the boob, because that’s basically what he lived on.

And now comes the process of getting back to that magic-eye mindset, where things just work themselves out. Last Blog Post Amanda was such a douche…

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Now, I have a baby who’s past one and still on formula and a tiny bit of boob, one who wakes up at least once a night wanting more of said formula or boob, and one nightmare of an evening that I’m having trouble getting out of my head.

This is compounded by the fact that hubs has been working a lot and will be gone the entire month of November. I will say again how much I do not know how single parents do it. There are some days when a few hours will make me want to curl up in a ball and leave the childcare to the dog and cats. The dread is building for me, the guilt is building for him, and the ‘la, la, las’ are sometimes not there when they need to be.

All I can say is that the hubs and I are ridiculously lucky to have our parents so much in the picture. Their worry barometer may be overly high, but that’s only because they would reach into their chests and pull out their hearts if it would help make the Mix feel better. I should have known it would be this way – the same goes for their own kids.

I know there are harder times to come, bigger sicks, and just little annoying ones that throw everything off. And then the return to normalcy will be another Sisyphean climb up a steep mountain. But at least we’re doing it with some pretty cool people.


Breaking Mom

I’m hitting my 36th week on Wednesday and have definitely gotten to the awkward get-this-kid-out-of-me stage of pregnancy. I never actually had to think about how much time I was indexgoing to spend standing somewhere, but now it’s pretty much all I care about. The kid is also obsessed with my bladder. It’s like s/he is treating it as it’s first bouncy ball, hitting it and watching it bounce back. Yes, you’re right. I know nothing about anatomy. But I like to imagine Zigs is having a good time in there, despite how scrunched up s/he is.

I, however, am not having such a great time. It could be A LOT worse. I could be on bed rest, I could be not sleeping at all, I could be dead. I try to remind myself of this whenever I get pissy, which happens, lately, most of the hours in the day.

I’ve been trying to keep that in check. My hormones haven’t been at all crazy during this pregnancy, and I don’t think I can blame them now. I think it’s just because MY BACK HURTS and my groin doesn’t enjoy my runs as much as it used to. And the aforementioned bladder issue has me thinking about pee 24/7.

But some will point to the media I’m consuming. When I told people that I was reading this (amazing) book (that everyone should read) called The Book Thief, I got comments about how it might not be the best time to be reading a novel set in Hitler’s Germany narrated by Death. I’ve also been going to the dark side on TV – Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Orange is the New Black.

I don’t really think I can blame the media, though. The only time I’ve noticed a work of fiction affecting my mood is if it’s a really horrible work of fiction. If I’m reading a bad book that I’m trying to get through, that’s going to make me pissy. If a show I like has gotten stupid, same. I’m not saying books, movies, tv can’t make me cry or laugh or whatever, but to really affect my mood, it’s an issue of quality.

And my fictional world isn’t all dark and violent. I have my Hypnobabies studies, which are constantly telling me how wonderful and comfortable I am. Hubs found this article about a study showing that affirmations work, so that should be helping with the pissy.

As far as media, I’m now reading The Elephant Vanishes, a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami. I adore Murakami, and while not light or fluffy, his stuff is so absurd that you really can’t blame it for any mood swinging.

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TV-wise, I blame Ziggy for my current obsession with Bones, which is probably the definition of fluff. Sure, there is goop and gore, but it’s not going to make anyone suicidal. Of course, with this one, there IS a quality issue, so it could be a factor. But Ziggy won’t let me stop watching it. It’s a problem.

I’m supplementing that stuff with Roseanne and Mad About You re-runs. Nothing depressing there, unless you count my realization that Jamie (Mad About You) is probably the worst person ever, at least in the first season.

So, I don’t think I’ll be adjusting my media habits to calibrate my mood. I’m not saying it isn’t something that CAN happen, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s happening in my case.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from a poem called “Late Hours” by Lisel Mueller:

What luxury, to be so happy/that we can grieve/over imaginary lives

If something is good enough to make me cry, I’ll take it. Maybe it’ll even mean I won’t cry as much when I’m walking the dog or unpacking pictures (that one may have happened yesterday). I’m very lucky to have this luxury, and I’m not giving it up. I’ve already given up bending over, a careless disregard for pillows (I need them pretty much all of the time now), running at a normal pace, getting into a car without groaning (see also: getting out of said car), breathing like a regular person, and sleeping through the night. You’re not taking away my Breaking Bad, Zigs, and that is FINAL.

I’m going to be such a good mom…


Anacondas and Lower Back Attacks (Crazy Dreams 4 and 5)

There is an anaconda slithering through my dreams. All of them. Every night. And I don’t really know what an anaconda looks like.

A few nights ago, Hus and I were hosting a party shortly after Ziggy had been born. I did not care about Ziggy AT ALL. We had this huge house in LA that had previously been owned by Mariah Carey and Jack Black. The anaconda appeared frequently throughout the house.

My subconscious also gave me a nice, solid actor’s nightmare, which is supremely unfair because I’m no longer an actor (if I ever was one). These nightmares should stop when you hang up your character shoes. The anaconda was onstage with naked me, laughing when I forgot all my lines and choreography.

So, that’s that.

Also, we moved. Yes, we are slowly checking off all of the things on our do-all-of-the-things list. We bought the house, and now we’re here. We decided to move on Saturday, when Nashville looked like this:

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It was supposed to be like that Sunday, too, which is why we didn’t reschedule. Sunday looked like this:

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It really wasn’t that bad, though. Of course, I’m carrying around about 10 extra pounds and I’m front-heavy, so, at the end of the day, I became very acquainted with my lower back. Yes, we’ve met before, but I’ve never been that familiar with the inner-workings. Sunday morning, it was screaming so loud that I couldn’t ignore it. Unpacking boxes was not the best remedy, so I’m pretty happy to be back at my desk, sitting on my ass, ignoring the rest of the boxes. Of course, now I’m feeling guilty because I haven’t been for a run in three days.

That’s enough whining. We’re in our NEW HOUSE! OUR new house!

I wore leggings to Target yesterday because my pants wouldn’t fit. This belly is moving past beer and getting into something to talk about territory.

Oh – ultrasound was wonderful, amazing, rabbits, rainbows, bunnies. The technician said Ziggy was very photogenic. He definitely put on quite a show. No, we didn’t find out the sex, but he looks like a he, right?

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(Yes, I know, I buried the lede here.)

Also: I’m starting to feel the kicks. Guess all it takes is a blog post for Zig to get into gear. Wish I could say the same for my ass.

 


Crazy Dream #3

My first Ziggy dream:

Ziggy was alive and a boy and talking way early. Creepy early, like E-trade commercial-early. I have a weird fear of the wrong voices coming out of people, but I thought this was adorable because it was my kid (that bodes well, I think).

Anyway, aside from some crawling around (also way early) and talking about the wall (babies, it turns out, do not have a lot to say), there wasn’t a lot to it. But as I lifted Ziggy out of his bouncer, he hugged me and said: “You have a zitty forehead.” I smiled and nodded, because it was true (true outside of the dream, as well, unfortunately).

Dreams are idiotic representations of real life, carnival shows put together by toddlers (or my brilliant newborn dream Zig), but I feel like I learned some things from this one:

  1. I will love my kid no matter what freaky thing he/she does
  2. I think I’m having a boy (I already knew that I thought this, it’s just my subconscious reinforcing for my conscious thought, neither of which has any relationship to what Ziggy will actually be)
  3. Vanity and motherhood do not mix, which is good, because I prefer the harsh truth anyway, especially if it’s coming out of an adorable face.

I woke up rather refreshed from this dream, so here’s an actual sincere thank you, Ziggy.

Also: I can now see more of my (for now) innie belly button than I ever have before, and it is surprisingly clean. I’m rather proud of myself for this.


Crazy Dream #2

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Not sure how I crammed this one in amidst all of the tossing and turning last night, but cram I did.

I was alone in my company’s office on Canal Street in New York. I decided to leave the place and walk, really get to know the city. I lived there for three years and still have no idea which way to walk when I exit the subway.

I was walking to 32nd street, somewhere on the east side, going to my dentist’s office. I had an appointment about five hours later, but I thought it would be a good excuse to get some exercise. I started running.

With some heavy Google Maps use, I found my way there and walked into the office. There were tons of people and the bright idea that came to me (I can just ask if there are any appointments available now) seemed like it wasn’t going to work out. I walked up to the desk and one of the women who worked there (they were all women) started talking to me about living with just a half bath. I’m not sure if she was living inside of the bathroom or if she just didn’t have a bathtub… or shower… I forget what half bath means.

I pretended to know what she was talking about, so she started talking about all the drugs she was doing and how she had decided to do exactly what I did – walk to the dentist’s office. I believe part of her plan was to shower there.

She pointed to her friend, who wore a black sheet that framed her featureless face.

Finally, I was free of the crazy woman and was able to ask the appointments lady if they could fit me in. Around this time, I started panicking – I hadn’t locked the office before I left. I was going to be in big trouble.

I stayed for a few moments, and they called someone’s name who wasn’t there. The dentist looked over to his left, then called my name. I waved, but he was still sort of speaking to the entire room when he said:

“Okay, no live birth here. No live baby here. Let’s get you in. We’ll give her a pinprick and take some blood. She knows she’s high-risk, right?”

I walked over, ready to say I had to go back to the office. But now I was curious. How did he get my chart so quickly? Who was the naked woman in the hallway? No LIVE BIRTH?!

And then I woke up.