Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Lonely Evening

It took forever to get Westley to go to sleep last night. Rob gave him a bottle, and then I rocked him in the living room and sang whatever songs popped into my head while Rob folded laundry silently in the bedroom. Then, when nothing I did could soothe Westley, Rob rocked him silently in the nursery while I quietly wrote in the living room. We had about a half an hour together before we felt the pressure to go to bed, which we spent in near silence.

I was reminded of the set-up we endured for several evenings almost exactly three years ago, when the younger of our two cats was a brand new kitten. We were living in a much larger house, with a floor plan that made it possible to close off one half of the ground floor from the other half. Rob would sit in the living room with the older cat, while I sat in the bathroom with the needy kitten and sang whatever songs popped into my head. Occasionally, we'd talk to each other through the closed hall door.

It feels strange--and kind of sad--to spend so much time soothing our little creatures that we barely see or talk to each other.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Disbelief, Revisited

Westley is completely quiet in his car seat in my mother's car. I'm in the passenger seat, so I have to turn around to check the West-view mirror suction-cupped to the rear window, and I confirm that he's sound asleep. He was rolling his eyes like crazy when I nursed him at the toy store, so I'm not really surprised that he's out like a light. I'm just surprised that I had any part in making this sweetly sleeping person.

I turn and face the road again. "Sometimes I can't believe he's even real."

"You say that a lot," my mother remarks. "You need to get used to it!"

I guess I do talk (and write) frequently about my feelings of wonder and disbelief when it comes to Westley. He's almost eleven months old. He's probably not going anywhere at this point. Except that he is--looking taller every day, itching to walk, vocalizing and gesturing and acting more like a toddler all the time. I'm with him practically all the time. And I can't quite believe him.

It's very weird when something you wanted for a long time finally becomes a reality. I've wanted to have a baby--to be a mother--ever since I was three and found out that a baby was something you could have. For most of my life, a child of my own was just a dream for the future. Some day... Now that some day is today, I realize that I don't really know how to be as a mother.

Having a baby was hugely life-changing, of course, but not in the ways I expected. After about the fourth grade I started to hate my birthday, because I always expected to feel different now that I was officially a year older, but nothing changed; I was still just me. Westley's birth was the same. I expected to feel radically changed after he was born, but I was still just my normal self (apart from having an intense craving for pancakes). And in those first few weeks, a lot of the expectations left over from my fantasies about what having a baby would be like were unmet. I made a conscious effort to stop expecting anything, so as to avoid disappointment.

As a result, I'm often surprised by what I find when I look around. I don't expect to get used to it any time soon, and I'm not sure I want to. It's a joyful surprise. I don't want to take my little boy for granted, or to compare him to some fantasy baby. Not expecting and just experiencing really brings home how lucky I am. I've won the jackpot.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vay-kay Shunned

Rob was on vacation last week, and Westley and I are finally getting back to our normal-ish routine(-ish). It took me a few days to get used to having Rob at home 24/7 and I found myself suddenly extra-stressed about stupid stuff like grocery shopping and making sure lunch was ready when everyone's stomach clocks went off. Ultimately, we ended up having some really good, solid time together as a family (Westley recommends the Pacific Science Center as a place to practice cruising), and Rob and I even managed to sneak in a kick-ass date (Liz Phair at the Showbox. Mini review: the shock-value may be gone, but Exile in Guyville is still damn good 15 years after the fact.) But I still felt a little left out.

I was interested to realize how profoundly my relationship to "vacation" has changed since Westley was born. Before his vacation, Rob got his boss to okay the time and when the start date rolled around, that was that. His primary responsibility effectively disappeared for a week. I tried to imagine what I would have to do to make my primary responsibility "disappear" for a week. Obviously, I'd have to make arrangements for someone to take care of Westley, and I would want to make sure the freezer was stocked with frozen milk, because although he eats all manner of table food, the boy still loves him some good mama milk. And that, ultimately, would mean lots of pumping both before and during my imaginary (unlikely) baby-less week.

It's strange to think about the elaborate support system that I'd have to put in place to take time off from my "job." Truthfully, not being responsible for Westley for an entire week sounds kind of miserable. Even when we've had the shittiest of shitty days together, I can still bring myself to miss him when I get in bed and he's in his crib in the other room instead of being all warm next to me, breathing his milky breath in my face. If I were away from Westley for a week, I'd probably drive myself crazy thinking about him and wondering what he was doing.

I guess, then, that what I'm feeling left out of is not the vacation itself, but the ease of arranging it. I just want support system-free time-off planning. Crazy, I know. But sometimes it's all about just having the stupid cake, whether or not you actually want to eat it. Because your husband has cake and doesn't even have to think about it.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

10 Months

Dear Westley,

You are ten months (and three days) old. You are in double digits, and it won't be long before we measure your life in years instead of months. I call you my Toddler Boy, even though you're not toddling yet. You crawl everywhere, sometimes faster than I can catch you. You would very much like to climb into the fireplace.

You pull up on everything, including me. You grab my hair like it's a hunk of rope and hoist yourself up. You continue to like every food I offer you, with the notable exceptions of flavored soy yogurt (plain is fine and dandy), applesauce (apple slices are where it's at), and apricots (not acceptable in any form). Recently, you turned some kind of corner with food and decided you knew how to chew. You would eat a whole banana by yourself if I let you.
You have six teeth coming in, practically all at the same time. It's making you one cranky-ass mothersucker. You're coping by being super clingy, and for the first time since you made your entrance, only Mommy will do. You want to hold me and cuddle with me and nurse and yank my hair, and you want to do it all the time. And if anyone else tries to hold you or comfort you, you cry and lean towards me. Of course, you resist and lean away when I try to comfort you, but you always wind up sinking down and relaxing into my arms.

I think I really do love you more every day. Your laugh is addictive. Sometimes I miss you when you're asleep. Even when you're clawing me with your talon fingernails, or pushing me away with all your strength, or squalling when I try to put a diaper on you. Even when you're being a bitchpants, you're my favorite person. And when you're grabbing my head and trying to kiss my cheeks, nothing can be wrong in my world.

It's a little insane how much I love you, dude. Seriously.