And then there were two… and two is ten?

•November 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Another stretch of non-writing but this one easily excused by the birth of my second son. He is five months old now and sleeping within some reason and so I can write, a little bit at least.

When I was still pregnant friends and relatives always told me that ‘two is ten’ – once you have two kids, you may as well have ten. I have to say that so far I disagree. While no part of me thinks that two kids are easy, I’m somehow finding it easier than only one kid. Here’s why: With one kid, there is still some semblance of freedom, because I am married and my hubby is very hands on, so our ratio was 2:1. We outnumbered our kid. So we often passed him off:

You hold him, I have to pee.

Okay now you hold him, I’m going to fold laundry.

Can you take him now? I want to call my mom.

Your turn, I have to have a shower.

Of course in there we had nice family moments where all three of us frolicked and behaved like a unit, but if I say it like it is, the truth was that single-child parenting amounts to a game of hot-potato; one parent has the kid, the other doesn’t. And – here comes one of those moments where I admit something bad – sometimes it felt like I got addicted to the pawn off, that after a day or afternoon with my lovely little boy I’d be jonesing for the hand off.

And in a strange way, that was oppressive. The fact that I was only one step removed from the freedom of my pre-kids years was oppressive, I was always clawing my way back to it.

So now, we have two kids and there is no pawn off, or at least a lot less pawning off, because it’s much harder to feel okay about leaving my hubby with a baby dangling off him and a toddler running away from him. Sometimes I do it, but not without a real sense of what an a**hole I am. And when he does it, the guilt is epic:

I guess you can go play soccer. No, really, go. *Sigh*. We’ll be okay. I’m sooooo tired.  What am I going to feed them? But really, go.

Okay, so I’m being mildly facetious.

The bottom line has been that having two kids is easier because I gave in, I really just gave in, I surrendered myself to it fully. 

And while it’s madness, the fact that I can try to pawn them off is actually a bit of a relief.

Now there are two hot potatoes; two precious, funny little hot potatoes. So we hold one each and juggle like mad.

I’m Back. Sixteen months later.

•June 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Who is to say why I wrote 4-5 entries then let 16 months pass without a single log in.  All the normal reasons apply: sick family member (better now), move to a new house, back to work after baby #1,  new baby on the way (due any day now). Like I said in that last post 16 long months ago, busy busy busy busy busy.

Also, blogging is sort of scary, especially when people start to comment and reply and commiserate. I loved it but it freaked me out.  Is that normal?

Anyway, my new blogging strategy is slower out the gates for a longer race.

More to come…

Busy Busy Busy Busy Busy Busy Busy Busy

•February 27, 2008 • 7 Comments

No time to post.

You have a sense of what you think it might be like to stay home with your kid(s) before you have them. I’ll do yoga! I’ll make wonderful meals. The house will be spotless! I’ll write letters to my friends!

Um, yeah. Not quite.

 It’s 9:48am and my son is napping and after I write 250 or so words, here’s what I’ll do in descending order of importance. The descending order of importance is the key to success in stay-at-homehood, since the kid is bound to wake up and cut your list off at some point.

 So, in a very particular order:

 1. Use the loo. Trying to use the loo with an 11-month old in the room with you is enough to induce a very painful case of hemorrhoids. You’re in the middle of things and suddenly he’s got the vanity drawer open and is playing with a bottle of Tylenol. Not good. So the loo is #1. Ah, to s**t in peace.

2. Shower. No. Wait. No time for that. Instead, deodorant and a face wash. Maybe some face cream. Perhaps a teeth brush. Proceed at frantic pace; no time to linger.

3. Eat. A bowl of Cheerios and a banana is the new gourmet.

4. Check email. Write 6 word replies. Sample: Can’t write busy will call later.

5. Clean up. Start with dishes. End with food encrusted high chair, which sends me into a fit of despair. I know, in my heart, that only a bottle of bleach and four hours of scrubbing would truly get that high chair clean. So instead, I suck it up and sit my kid down in a pool of crumbs from his yesterday’s dinner.

6. Avoid feeling overwhelmed. (This isn’t actually a task, let alone a possibility. Just thought I’d add it anyway).

7. If he’s still napping, I might actually change into a pair of jeans and comb my hair. When I get this far on my list, I feel amazing. With my jeans on and my hair combed, I make Angelina Jolie look like Shrek. (Not exactly true, but it’s all in how you feel – beauty is inner.)

On that note, time to sign off and move to #2 on the list. Deodorant, here I come.

 Will post again soon.

Welcome to the Baby Games

•February 22, 2008 • 11 Comments

Before I had kids, I’d never heard of the Baby Games.

After all, how could babies incite competition? Aren’t they supposed to make us quieter, gentler people?

Um, no. 

It actually started in pregnancy. As soon as mine was announced, women circled me, trying to recruit me to their particular team. There are lots of pregnancy teams to choose from: The Basketball Bellies, the Gain-All-You-Wants,  the Go-Natural-or-Go-Homes, the Epidurals-or-Busts…

Some women will go to great lengths to get you to join their team. You look great! You look big! You look small! One woman told me I was gaining all the weight in my ass and if I kept it up, I’d give birth to a hippo cub. Another told me I wasn’t gaining enough weight and if I kept it up, I’d give birth to a chia pet. To others, I was negligent for using a midwife at the hospital. When I told a pro-midwife friend that I hadn’t ruled out an epidural, she told me I’d never walk again if I let the bad doctor stab me in the back with that poison.

You can’t win! The only thing to do is learn to ignore the comments. Trust your body and your own choices. But let me tell you, it’s hard to ignore someone telling you your ass is fat. Hard to resist the urge to unleash a fat ass whooping on those dumb enough to say such things.

So I avoided picking a team. But of course, pregnancy is just training camp. The real Baby Games don’t begin until the squirt is actually born.

I understand the natural need to compete. I am by nature a very competitive person. I like to win. I like those around me to win too (unless they’re playing against me, of course). But I was gobsmacked by the competition my tiny son incited right off the bat.

Most people would say women don’t compete, they compare. Nuh-uh. We compete. Before kids, we might compete over our jobs, our bodies, our partners, our social circles, our accomplishments. But babies take it to a whole new level. Babies we create and we rear, and we see them as the ultimate reflection of ourselves. Parenthood is the perfect breeding ground for competition.

Welcome to the Baby Games. 

Is your son holding up his head? No?????? Hmmmm. Mine did at 3-days old. O really? Well my son smiled at 2-weeks. Good for him! But that’s nothing. My daughter laughed at barely a month old. Wow! I’m so happy for you. Yes, yes. I’m sure my son will be reading before he’s 2. He’s just brilliant. I’m sooooo glad I had a girl. They’re much calmer and smarter. O, really? Because I desperately wanted a boy. They’re much heartier and way less manipulative.

My mother warned me from Day One to boycott the Baby Games. You’ll never win, she said. People choose to compete in fields where they know they’ll come out on top. If they can’t beat you in milestones, they’ll get you in growth. Or vice versa.

Still, it was hard to resist. At every turn there seemed to be points of comparison. In the early days it’s all about smiling, laughing, sitting, crawling. Then it becomes about babbling, talking, walking, playing. Once friend, who’s eldest daughter is 2, told me she looks at other kids who aren’t talking or playing at her daughter’s level and thinks there’s something wrong with that kid.

I’m not being judgmental, she actually said, I just wouldn’t want to be their parent.

Jeeeeeez.

I admit to partaking. It made me terribly insecure that my son wasn’t babbling much by seven months. But he sat up alone at 5 months, a point I made to many friends with babies. I could feel it welling in me, this need to compare, to see where my kid fell. I even read the “Is your Baby Gifted?” chapter in our baby book and looked to my son’s behaviour to see if he fit the bill.

One afternoon, I sat and played with my son. He pulled his favorite rattle to his face and examined it. His little blue eyes crossed from the effort, and the drool pooled around his neck, a glistening coat of saliva on his soft white skin. I watched my cross-eyed, drool-soaked darling and thought:

You are Perfect. I’m the one with the big f&#(@& problem.

Here is my precious little boy, trying so hard to make his way, learning more in a day than I learn in a year, absorbing every detail of his new world, growing, and loving me with all his heart despite my own massive faults. Why do I care if he crawls a little earlier but talks a little later than his peers? To that point, why do I care if the precious babies around him crawl later or talk earlier? Can’t we all just get along?

The final straw came at a dinner party I recently attended. A friend, who’s baby girl was barely 11 months at the time, told the crowd that his daughter could say 15 different words. Every parent in the room considered this. Fifteen words at 11 months. Was he bragging? Certainly some people it the room took it as such.

Like what? said another venom-spewing father. Ba? Bi? Bo? Da? Ma? Pa? This isn’t Scrabble… you don’t get to count all the two letter words.

Ouch.

This exchange was the final straw for me. On the car ride home, I vowed to my husband that I was going to take my mother’s sage advice and boycott the Baby Games from then on. There is no clean win in the Baby Games; all victories come at the expense of someone else’s little person. And that’s totally and utterly wrong.

So I boycott them! No more competing, no more comparing. All babies are perfect in their own way. My son is his own independent little man who will grow and learn and develop at his own pace.

Besides, soon I won’t have time for these trifling sort of things. I’ll be too busy once my kid starts walking, which should be any day.

I know… he’s early. That’s my boy!

Let’s Talk About Sex (after) Baby

•February 20, 2008 • 11 Comments

Speaking of sharing, here’s an overshare for you.

WARNING: This blog entry contains sexual content. If you are offended by such content and a humorous approach to such content, do not read on…

I feel a degree of anonymity here, so I’m going to broach this topic, this the scariest of topics:

Sex after baby or babies.

Yet another one of those things you swear won’t be an issue in your marriage. You swear sex will quickly return to normal. And then you use your sex organ to squeeze out a human head, and suddenly you understand why sex after marriage is an issue to so many.

Before I gave birth, my mother-in-law gave me a book called Babyproofing your Marriage. This is a guide written by three women on how to save your marriage from the tsunami that is children. One day you’re sunning on the beach, just the two of you, your marriage young and supple, tanned and rested and well sexed. Then the water breaks and you’re trying to keep afloat, grasping for each other as the waves of parenthood yank you apart. Suddenly, sleep is the new sex and cuddling is about as x-rated as it gets.
 

Nice. Again, I digress…

Anyhoo, did I mention my mother-in-law gave this book to me? I fixate on this point because there was actually a chapter, an entire chapter, devoted to blow jobs. This is the very scientific term they use for it too: Blow Jobs. Not oral sex, not mouth-on-privates, not fellatio, but blow jobs.

I turned to my husband in bed and said: Your mom just gave me a book about blow jobs.

O, to have a snapshot of the look on his face.

On our first home visit, when my son was only 12 hours old, my midwife told me a story of a couple who had sex in the hospital room to celebrate the birth of their child. This, I said to her, has to be an urban legend. There is just no way. And as urban legends go, if I had to pick one, I say I’d be more likely to give up both my kidneys and lie in a bathtub of ice or pick up a hitchhiker with a hook for a hand than opt for post-labour sex.

By all means, I love sex. But I hated those kinds of stories. O, one friend told me, I called my doctor two weeks after giving birth to see if it was okay to have sex again. Another friend told me she and her rabid dog of a husband only waited a week. Thankfully, though, most of my friends fell into the same timeline as my husband and me:

Month 1: Touch me and die.
Month 2: Kiss me; touch my breasts and die.
Month 3: A bottle of wine; a bigger bottle of KY; an attempt; touch me and die.
Month 4: A bottle of wine; a bigger bottle of KY; an attempt; touch me if you dare.
Month 5: No wine; still lots of KY; hey, I remember this, sort of.
Month 6: Still lots of KY; okay, this is nice, I remember you.

We’re in Month 11 now and while we do our best, things have certainly not returned to normal. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes, as one friend so eloquently put it, it feels like we’re throwing a hot dog down a hallway. I do my Kegels everyday!

Sometimes I want to, most of the time I still don’t. It probably doesn’t help that I’m still nursing. My son treats my boobs like a dairy bar, and dairy bars don’t a good sex tool make.

The good news is, I love my husband to death, I still pine for him, I still look at him and think he’s handsome, hot, sexy. We’re not having sex three times a week, but we’re a lot closer than we’ve ever been. There’s something to be said for that.

Thanks for reading! (In Praise of Men)

•February 20, 2008 • 2 Comments

Wow, thanks to everyone for commenting. I love the sharing!

I noticed after reading the comments that my previous two posts were both at least somewhat of the male bashing variety. Now, this was not intended. I am not a male basher. I am a feminist, but I’ve always been a feminist who believes that me are our friends, our mates, our partners (if we swing that way), our equals. Feminism is not about raising or lowering one sex, it’s about women finding ways to be who they need to be.

Suffice it to say, I love men. I married one, I gave birth to a mini-one. Men rule my world, and I love it.

A Whole New World of Tired

•February 18, 2008 • 12 Comments

Before I became a mother, I thought I knew tired.

In high school, I’d show up 15 minutes late to history class, slide into the back row beside the other delinquents and slump into my chair. What’s wrong with you? someone would ask.

Man, I’d say, I’m tired.

Fast forward half a decade to university. Saturday evening spent in the company of my gaggle of roommates, a dance floor and three bottle of jaggermeister. Stumble home at 3am, strip off my mini-skirt and pour myself into bed. Wake up at noon the next day, roll out of bed and into my track suit, slide onto the couch next to one of my roommates. What’s wrong with you? someone would ask.

Man, I’d say, I’m tired.

Another half-decade later, and I’m in front of my own classroom, tossing sidelong glares at the delinquents arriving 15 minutes late and sliding into the back row. After a day spent running from classroom to classroom, marking essays, putting out teenaged fires, I’d slump on my desk.  What’s wrong with you? someone would ask.

Man, I’d say, I’m tired.

In the first three months of my pregnancy, I’d come home from work, snatch the ice cream from the freezer and hurl myself on the couch. By the time Jeopardy rolled around at 7:30, I’d turn to my husband.

Man, I’d say, I’m so tired.

And so in my cumulative life experiences, I figured I knew tired. Those who became mothers before me warned me that I knew nothing, but I doubted them. How bad could it be? I mean, life is tiring. A baby can’t be any worse.

Mother of God, do I know better now. 

And so, let me be clear about this: All things pre-baby are not tiring. They are simply taxing, toilsome, nigglesome, bothersome… in the same way a crossword puzzle or extra-long traffic light might be. To those of you who’ve fought in wars or performed 38-hours straight of surgery to separate conjoined twins, I say you might get it. Otherwise, I say recognize. I say respect. Represent. All the moms in the world say YEAH! We know tired, man. The rest of you don’t.

People refer to the new baby time as sleep deprived, exhausting, strenuous. But I think there needs to be a better word, for none of these do it any justice. Perhaps I will write to the people at Oxford dictionary and suggest refucausted (as in: really fu#&# exhausted). But they’re probably all men, so they won’t get it.

(I’m sorry men, but for the most part, you don’t get it. Please call me sexist. Please do! I hope I am being sexist, for I can’t wait to live in a world where this is no longer at least somewhat true. I love my husband and he is a helpful, engaged father. But he doesn’t get it.

But I digress…)

Tiredness has recently caused me to:

  • Leave the house and get all the way to the grocery store in my slippers (hey, they have soles, so it was an easy mistake).
  • Take ice cubes and a teething soother from the freezer at the same time. Drop the teething soother in my water bottle and the ice cubes in my purse. Realize my mistake 20 minutes later.  
  • Forget, momentarily,  my husband’s first name.
  • Show up on time for my dentist appointment. Right time, wrong day.

To name only a few.

 So to the mothers (and yes, yes – the fathers) of the world with new babies, sleepless babies, teething babies, sleepless toddlers…

Man, I say for us all, I’m refucausted.