Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Skills I've Developed as a Parent That Have No other Practical Use

A lot of parents make comments about how parenting is "a job" in and of itself.

I beg to differ. I get paid to do my job.

Also, I think that the vast majority of skills I've learned as a parent have little to no practical use outside of being a parent. I honestly think about that every day--"wow, I've gotten really good at this thing for how useless it is outside of the walls of my house."

Here are a few of those things:

1. Vacuuming the floor with my non-dominant hand and holding my baby on the other side.

2. Learning all the creaky spots on Amelia's bedroom floor and avoiding them in the dark of night.

3. Eating my feelings.

(Who am I kidding, I've had that skill for a long time.)

4. Remembering kids' songs that I haven't heard or sung in 20 years.

5. Breastfeeding. Not otherwise practical unless there's a REALLY WEIRD job out there that I just don't know about yet.

6.  Watching reruns of "The Office" and "Bob's Burgers" ad infinitum. I guess this does have a practical use which is, of course, being awesome.

7.  Calculating formula to water ratios.

8. Brushing tiny baby teeth.

9. Clipping tiny baby nails (I'm actually really good at this).

10. Changing a diaper on a baby that is trying desperately to roll on her belly and/or stand up.

Monday, 13 April 2015

How to Set the Internet on Fire

If there's one thing the internet has in spades, it's righteous anger. There was a time where I participated in it, but at this point in my life I mostly just find it humorous.

I'm not one to provoke people on the internet per se--I'm far too scared of confrontation to do that--but here are some sample posts in case you find yourself bored and wanting to watch the internet explode. I think the kids call this "trolling" but I call it good clean fun. 

(Not really. But here they are anyway.)

1. To rile up moms: "I am sleep-training my circumcised formula-fed son who hates seeing women breastfeed in public. He's been crying for 4 hours all alone. Should I feed him his regular McDonald's Happy Meal tomorrow for breakfast?"

2. To rile up childfree people: "If you don't have a child you can't understand love. You will change your mind and have 13 kids, just you wait. No one wants to see pictures of your dog/cat."

2. To rile up atheists: "Evolution is only a theory, not fact. There are gaps in the fossil record. The Bible is backed up by scientific fact."

3. To rile up Christians: "I don't need a magical sky fairy to tell me what to do. Christians are all bigoted and racist and religion is stupid and harmful."

4. To rile up liberals: "Obama is a Kenyan Muslim Fundamentalist Christian who doesn't have a birth certificate. Every American child should be given a gun at birth and George Bush was the best president in the history of America."

4. To rile up conservatives: "Obama promised to personally pay for my mortgage. I collect welfare and don't work so I take my Lexus, iPhone and tattoos to the welfare office every weekday for more of your money."

5. To rile up MRAs: "Men are obsolete. Women are inherently superior and men are all sexual predators. Women should be able to have sex with as many men as they want without judgement."

6. To rile up Feminists: "Feminazis hate men and make false rape claims. If women respected themselves they wouldn't dress in skimpy clothing or have casual sex, but I am entitled to sex. I'm a nice guy, women are just bitches."

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Introverted Parents, Introverted Baby

Amelia and I spent a few days this week visiting friends in Boston. I'd initially made the plans when we thought Rob was leaving for a prescribed burn (more fire, wee!). The burn was canceled but I wanted to go anyway, partially because I wanted to spend time with other moms and babies and also because I wanted Amelia to get practice with new situations.

Since she was born, we've spent much of our time at home. Part of that is that leaving the house with a baby is an exercise in...shittiness? I guess? Especially when said baby hates the carseat and screams bloody murder for most of the trip. It's also because we have no friends here, know no other parents, and because our area is really rural and there's simply nowhere to go. 

We've noticed her growing introversion, which could be because we stay home so much or maybe because both of us identify as introverted and we did, you know, make her with our genes. The other day at the grocery store a baby her age waved and smiled at her, which she returned with the most serious face I'd ever seen on a baby. You could almost see one of her eyebrows raise or hear her say, "seriously dude? Calm your tits."

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I finally have photographic evidence of this face.

Since we aren't having another baby anytime soon (or maybe ever ever ever) I thought it'd be nice for her to see what it'd be like to share her space with one.

We left on Monday and Amelia surprisingly did really well on the trip. This is weird but I think it might be because I listened to an audiobook in the car instead of music. Maybe the voices hypnotize her.  We made it to my friend's house in the afternoon, just after Amelia had woken up from a nap preceded by 20 minutes of mindless screaming.

The friend we visited is named Becky. Her husband was in the Army with Rob and we were both pregnant at the same time. Her daughter is almost exactly three months older than Amelia and this was the first time they met.

We did a lot in just a few days. We went to grocery stores and Target, hung out with another mom and baby, met Becky's mom, and crawled around on the floor together. Amelia did okay. She definitely did not seek out the attention or company of other babies and was much more content observing the action. I saw an obvious change in her demeanor when one of the babies would come closer to her--her smile would fall a bit, she'd cling to me a bit tighter or even crawl away. 

It was funny for me to be around other babies and see how different they all are. Mothers always talk about how different baby's personalities can be, but it's a whole other thing to see it unfold in front of your eyes. My friend's daughter, for example, is very active and eager to interact with babies and adults alike. The other baby that was there was mellow, but still quite social. 

As much as I'd like to avoid inadvertently pushing a particular personality trait by catering to who she is now and not bothering to challenge her, it's difficult not to imagine if these "proto-traits" we see now will factor into who she becomes as she grows. Since she was maybe 4-5 months old I've been struck by her need for "recharge" time with her "home base" (i.e., Rob and I), and as an introvert myself I totally get it, kid.

Whatever and whoever she turns out to be, it fills me with so much weird joy to watch her grow and become a person. I am just blown away by how her personality twists and turns, and I can't wait to see which experiences come to shape her.

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We had a lot of fun in the big city, but sleep eluded us (okay, just her) and we're happy to be home again. Now I'm enjoying an adult beverage and taking care of my back, which is incredibly sore from holding my needy baby for 3 straight days. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Mom Time


It's been a long week.

The 9 month sleep regression has hit us like a freight train. Amelia woke up every 1-2 hours last night. And since I've always been the only nighttime parent, I'm the only one who can actually get her to sleep.

I'm exhausted.

Add in a lot of work and that Rob is leaving soon for a week for work and and and...

The upshot is that Rob is home this weekend and that means that I get mom time. Napping, bath, reading, coloring, cleaning, WHATEVER I WANT BECAUSE IT'S MOM TIME. I'm seriously writing this buried under pillows and blankets in our bed. The fan is on high so I don't hear any crying that may occur.

MOM TIME.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Around Here

Hi all!

Jeezy creezy. April is in like two days.

I have never looked forward to spring as much as I am this year. I don't usually leave my house much in winter anyway, but given Amelia's needs and this year's crazy amounts of snow we've become even more isolated. Leaving the house even for a quick trip becomes a huge production and as a result we usually just find excuses to hide inside.

But I can't wait for the sun to come out, for the ground to dry up and to let Amelia crawl around outside and swim and explore. She was a bit of a lump last summer and we didn't get to enjoy it with her, so I think this year is going to be a lot of fun.

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While we wait for spring...nothing is really happening. People keep asking how we're doing and what we're doing and honestly, our days are about 97% baby. This basically means picking her up, putting her down, keeping her from dive-bombing onto the floor, laughing with her, holding her when she cries, dancing her to sleep for naps, nursing her, and shoving yogurt puffs into her hands to perfect her pincer grasp. Rob's been back at work for about a week so this all falls to me from 6am-6pm, Monday-Thursday. To be honest, it can be really tedious. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to stay home with her during these formative months, but the days drag sometimes.

All that said, the time we spend with her is so much more fun now than it was during months 1-3. She's turned into this bubbly, smiley, mischievous little demon and it's a blast watching her grow and change. The funny thing is that as sunny as she is with us, she is very withdrawn and cautious with new people. It makes me laugh because she's a lot like Rob in this way. If you aren't mom or dad, she makes you work for her smiles and comfort with you. I wonder if that'll endure as she gets older.

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Amelia has started falling asleep easily at night which has left us with free time at night, a welcome change since the days when she would only cosleep.

She now hates cosleeping, for the record. Babies, man.

Anyway I decided that I needed something to do when Amelia went to bed. I was spending the few hours before we went to bed siting on the internet, but for some reason it just made me feel frayed and antsy. I wanted to find something that would take my attention but that wouldn't stress me out.

I looked around online and decided to buy some grown-up coloring books and colored pencils. So far it's worked out really well. I get to feel artistic without trying and failing to draw and hating myself. I'm working on this coloring book now and it is so much goddamn fun. Yes, I am seven.

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Personally, outside of all things baby, I'm having kind of a tough time lately. I've been spending a significant amount of time fixating on the things I hate about myself, namely my tendencies toward jealousy, defensiveness and passive-aggressiveness.  I'm trying to work through it and to forgive myself for sucking sometimes, but it's hard. I find myself wanting to retreat more and more and to avoid people, even those closest to me. I think it's just a temporary state so I'm just kind of dealing with it at this point. Depression, a nasty mistress indeed.

Oh! Here's something exciting. I wrote a post that was accepted and posted by Scary Mommy about unexpected benefits of having a colicky baby. You can find it here. If you found my blog from Scary Mommy, hi!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Some Freewriting

1. I am writing this from my new computer! Amazon sent me the wrong one after mine died an unceremonious death, and since I needed a computer sooner than they could get me my replacement, we had to take a field trip to Albany to pick this one up. Despite the fact that it doesn't have a disk drive (seriously, Apple?) I am loving it. I am not loving the expense but hey, new electronics are fun.

2. I'm using Carbonite to get all my photos back, but I realized that I didn't want to load a brand-new computer with close to 200 gb of photos before I've even had it a week. So Rob and I devised a plan to back the photos up on his computer (which has over a terabyte of space) and to have them put onto DVDs. Not to mention I have them on my dad's Apple Time Capsule and an external drive he's letting me use. Then I can remove them from my computer (*anxious noise*) and start fresh. I'm seriously going to need like 40 DVDs.

3. Things with the baby are going really well lately. She's starting to seem less like a despotic invader in our home and more like a member of our pack. I am also starting to feel more comfortable in my role as a parent, or at least more comfortable with totally winging it every day. I've tried to stop being so hard on myself for that.

4. Rob goes back to work next week and I am not okay with it. Honestly even when he's here I do most of the baby stuff, but it's really, really nice to have an adult to talk to during the day. He's going to be gone for about 10 hours during the week so hopefully I won't go totally insane by myself.

5. Sort of related, we are working on getting Amelia put into daycare two days or so a week. I thought of doing it when she was younger but I was really nervous about it and it never panned out. Now that she's older I think we'd both benefit from some time away/time with other people. I have this fear that she hasn't been exposed to enough germs yet.

6. I don't brush Amelia's teeth as often as I think I might need to.

7. I'm pretty sure I have eaten my weight in prosciutto and pepper jack cheese over the last few months.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Thoughts on Digital Hoarding

Our home experienced a loss this week, and a significant loss it was.

My lovely MacBook Pro decided to, as the Mainers say, "shit the bed." Luckily I had some warning--the screen kindly started to crap out--so I was able to frantically back up my many documents and photos.

The last time I got a new computer was back in 2011, when my year-old PC met the same fate that my Mac ultimately did. At that time I brought that block of misery to Best Buy so they could recover my files. When I picked up the hard drive the Geek Squad guy said, "You have A LOT of photos."

Until then, I assumed it was normal for everyone to have folders upon folders and gigabytes and gigabytes of photos, and in some cases multiple copies of said photos.

I had also assumed that it was normal for other people to be fanatically obsessed with backing up pictures. Currently I have my entire collection, all 146 gigabytes, backed up on Dropbox and Carbonite (yes, I pay for both, though one is also for work documents) as well as on an external hard drive and my dad's Apple Time Machine back in Maine.

I am serious about maintaining my photos.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A few years ago I read a book called Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. I'd seen shows about hoarders before but this book lent a bit more insight into the nature of hoarding and hoarders outside of the shock and revulsion that is clearly the goal of the TV shows. What surprised me the most about this was that I could kind of identify with lot of the hoarders' motivations and anxieties--namely the attachment to things as a representation of a fleeting moment in time that would never happen again.

To clarify, I am not a hoarder. My house is not buckling under the weight of a million newspapers or stuff I find at Goodwill or cat feces. In fact I get a huge rush out of purging items and clutter causes me seriously anxiety. Plus the only one in this house that likes cat feces is Cypress, and she doesn't bring those inside (we hope). But hoarding is a manifestation of OCD, tendencies of which I see in myself.

When I was in 8th grade, I remember once marveling at an empty bag of Skittles. This bag of Skittles represented this exact day and this exact time, a day and time that would never happen again. I actually wrote the date on it and saved it for a few years until I realized that sometimes a Skittles wrapper is just a Skittles wrapper.

But I can see how someone, especially someone who is in desperate need of help that never comes, could continue with this line of thinking until it's absolutely beyond any semblance of control.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

On one episode of "Hoarders" there was a couple whose infant had died unexpectedly 20 or so years before. They didn't collect things per se, but instead just started throwing trash on the floor because they couldn't bring themselves to give a shit. Once Amelia came, that actually made sense to me in a weird way, too.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

My point in all this: I realized that my tendency toward "hoarding" pictures comes from a fear of loss and an attempt at control. Indeed, when my computer died, I felt incredibly anxious worrying that my photos were gone or that Carbonite would fail and I'd lose them all--even though I have printed close to 400 photos of Amelia and our time in Santa Fe, and most of them are all easily viewed on Facebook.

I would never say that overloading my hard drive is anywhere close to the emotional and physical damage wrought by actual hoarding, obviously; but it's something that I think more of us can understand than we might think. 

The experience of unexpectedly losing my computer, even though I didn't lose any photos, has made me rethink this habit. Indeed, my collection of photos is so vast at this point that going through them for printing or any other purpose is a positively herculean task. As a result I almost never go through them, or stick to Facebook when I want to reminisce since I've chosen the best to post there. 

It's hard for me to remember sometimes that memories and people aren't found in things. They are part of us, and in that way we never lose them no matter what may happen.

So maybe it's time to pare down a little bit.  Quality over quantity. Even if the collection isn't affecting me in any physical or emotional way it may be a worthy goal. Do you guys "hoard" anything?