Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sex and the Sippy

If you hadn't already guessed from the title, this post is about sex. If you are TMI-phobic or my parents, proceed with caution.
***
Sex after baby. No other words are quite as fraught with emotional and physical agitation when it comes to birthing tiny humans. Except, perhaps, "birth" itself. Of course, for birth, there's the Birth Plan, which (one hopes) helps shape a discussion on the subject among the parents and the care provider. Ideally, a birth plan is an opportunity to address some of the inconsistencies between what you want to happen and the realities of your particular situation. There is nothing like this for post-birth sex, and I say, why the fuck not?

I didn't have a capital-B, capital-P Birth Plan. Looking back, I probably should have had one. A lot of things came up during Westley's birth that I hadn't thought about. And there were things I wanted that, had I been able to articulate them beforehand, might actually gone more smoothly. At the time, however, I decided that birth plans were uncool and unnecessary, and that by making one, I was setting myself up for disappointment. So I decided I would do my best to push the baby out of my vagina in my apartment, and that was my "plan." Fortunately, it turned out basically like that, so I didn't end up needing a more formal Birth Plan. But I definitely needed a Sex Plan.

In my mind, I had the post-birth sex issue all sorted out. I'd heard about couples not having sex for months after their babies were born, and while that didn't sound like me and my relationship, I was prepared for the possibility that it might happen. That I would feel "touched out" at the end of the day. That I would be too tired for sex after caring for a baby all day and all night. That--and this was the one I was really worried about--engorged, milky breasts and a flabby belly would be a major turn-off for both Rob and me. I had made peace with the idea that sex would be off my radar for a while. I hadn't even considered opposite situation.

You're supposed to wait six weeks after giving birth before you have sex. You know how long I waited? Nine days. Westley was barely a week old, and I was sore and still bleeding for fuck's sake! But I wanted to be an adult again, in the "adult bookstore" sense of the word. I wanted to be sexual to balance out all of the birthing and soothing and nourishing. My own desire caught me totally off-guard. I was expecting to watch helplessly as my sexuality was swallowed up by the Earth Mother I would suddenly become when the baby's swaddled body replaced Rob's head on my chest. But part of being an Earth Mother is doing the thing that made you a mother in the first place.

It wasn't just a psychological desire, either. I wanted the physicality. I wanted to feel more than eight pounds of weight on top of me. And I was ready. Well, mostly. (It went a little something like this: "Ow, ow, ow-ow-ow, okay, careful, ow, there--no, over--okay, don't stop. That's...yeah, that's--ow! No, no, it's okay...," and so on. Very hot.) It felt like I had been ripped open and hurriedly pasted back together. Everything seemed asymmetrical and weird. I got up feeling unsatisfied and embarrassed. New mothers aren't supposed to be horny, I thought.

Since then, it's gotten better. Except for some scar tissue that doesn't stretch along with everything around it, and the belly that, when I lie on my side, lies next to me like a mound of bread dough, the physical stuff is finally back to normal. In fact, I think I'm actually a little more sensitive now. But you know how they say the most important sex organ is the one between your ears? I'm finding that's the one I have to stroke extra hard these days. Getting my mental mojo fired up now that I have a child is not easy.

Part of this is a problem I will admit to having created myself: Westley sleeps in his crib like a champ, but he's still in our bed a lot of the time. I generally think of our bed as a place to do adult things, like sleeping in on Saturday mornings and having farting contests under the covers. Oh, and fun things involving nudity and friction. So right from the start, I didn't really want to co-sleep. But when Westley wakes up in the morning and starts singing his sleepy little blues number, it's impossible not to scoop him up, carry him across the hall, and plop him down in bed between us. He's so sweet, and so little, and if he nurses back to sleep, I can go back to sleep too and aww yeah! Co-sleeping rules!

This was perfect for a while, but now that Westley is walking and climbing everywhere, early-morning cuddle time seems to have paved the way for all-day-long playing-in-Mommy-and-Daddy's-bed hang-out time. Which means that even when he's not in bed with us, the remnants of my day with him are there. It's really hard to stay focused on all of the awesome sex you're about to have when you fall onto the bed, throw the covers aside and there's a sippy cup leaking day-old soy milk onto the sheets. Or you're pressed up close together and sweaty, and you move your hand towards something sensitive, and before it gets there it settles on a recently-lost pacifier. The other night, I told Rob, "I love our son, but I'm taking his birth announcement poster out of our bedroom."

Because despite wanting to do it well before the six-week green light, I find it extremely difficult to feel sexual while being reminded that I'm a mother. It's not that I think mothers can't be sexy. On the contrary, in fact. I feel much sexier now that I'm a mother, dough-belly and all. For one thing, there's the previously-mentioned increased sensitivity. And for another, having a child and choosing to stay home with him full-time forced me to come to terms with the part of me that really, really likes being in adults-only situations, and saying and thinking and doing adults-only things. The work of motherhood can sever our ties to our sexpot-ness, if we let it. I mean, there is nothing sexy about cutting broccoli up into teeny-weeny toddler-bite-sized pieces. There is nothing sexy about Raffi (to me, anyway. I like men with beards and guitars and all, but no).

I'm beginning to suspect that this is part of what parents mean when they say they're "too tired" for sex. Obviously, there really are the days--or weeks, depending on what developmental stage you're performing on--of just being too bloody tired, when you've been on your feet all day, eating what you can grab, barely having a chance to pee. Some of that "tired," though, has got to be the kid-colored mental hurdles we have to jump over just to get--and more importantly, stay--turned on. And if you don't know what I'm talking about it, you've never missed your orgasm because you couldn't get "The Wheels on the Bus" out of your head.

So it's 18 months too late at this point, but I'm creating a post-birth Sex Plan. This will not be an oral plan, either; I'm writing this thing down, for real (though an "oral" section might not be a bad idea). Unlike my no-plan Birth Plan, I'm giving the Sex Plan some serious thought, and I'm including all of the important things: preferences for music and lighting, ideas for positions at different stages, breathing exercises to make it less painful, guidelines photography and videotaping, and who I want in the room with me. (That would be you, babe.)

All I'm missing is a cure for a mental "Wheels on the Bus" loop.

.....................................

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mid-Year Resolutions

I suck at New Year's Resolutions. Not so much the keeping them part that everyone has trouble with (although I suck at that, too), but making them in the first place. It gets to the end of the year, and I'm usually just hung up on wondering how it got here so fast, wait a minute, wasn't it just 2007?

I think it was my mother who introduced me to the idea of Mid-Year Resolutions. They're exactly what they sound like: New Year's Resolution-type goals that you set in or around June, or whenever it dawns on you that the year is about half over. I find I like reflecting on the past six months and putting together some ideas for the next six months better than using the hard-and-fast date of January 1st for starting fresh.

So here we go. In the second half of 2009 (wait a minute, wasn't it just--?), I have some things of varying importance to work on:

Manage my moods like a grown-up. I woke up depressed today, and I used it as an excuse to act like an asshole towards my little boy, who did nothing except be a little boy. Depression is like flu, and I can let myself off the hook in terms of things like housework when it happens, but I'm still the adult.

Buy less red. Red is a color I love in the showroom/dressing room/package. But in my life, it usually just looks wrong, and--depending on the application--whorish.

Start dating again. Rob and I are going on a date once a month, and no less frequently than that. Even if it's just for coffee and a walk around Greenlake. (Even if it's just Netflix and cookies.)

Exercise. Okay, so this one is left over from New Year's. But until a few weeks ago, I was so exhausted that the idea of exercising was enough to make me cry.

Write it out. There's a movie that I really want to get made (more on that soon, perhaps), or at least written. So it's out there, in some form. And as I reflect on it, I'm afraid that I may have to do it myself. Which scares the piss out of me. I thought I left all aspirations of movie-making behind me when I traded graduate school for a short engagement. However, I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that my dreams don't die so much as disappear into the mental wilderness for a while, until something reminds me to send the choppers and the searchlights.

There are about a dozen other things I should add to that list (get the pantry organized for real, make-over the finances, eat more kale...), but one of the New Year's resolutions I actually got around to making was to give myself a little bit more slack. Besides, this way I'll have some pre-fabricated, ready-to-resolve "shoulds" for December 31st. I can pretend I'm planning ahead.

What are you focusing on for the next six months? Hit me with your Mid-Year resolutions!

.....................................

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Toddlerism

Westley pulled the DVDs off the lowest shelves of the DVD cabinet one at a time, examining the covers. When he got to Justice League, he stopped.

He pointed to Wonder Woman and looked up at me, his face a question mark. "Mama?"

"No, bug, that's Wonder Woman."

Then he pointed to Superman, and declared, "Dada."

"Yeah, okay, dude. Daddy."

It took everything I had not to collapse with laughter. Maternal Super-composure in the face of Cute-ryptonite.

.....................................

Monday, June 22, 2009

Good Man Gone Dad

It seems silly now, but I was worried about you.

We talked about our children (hypothetical children, of course) something like three weeks--or was it three minutes--after we met. I knew you wanted to be a dad, and I wondered what kind of father you'd be. You seemed so different from your parents and extended family. "Eccentric," they call you. I really couldn't picture you with a baby.

And then there was the doctor's appointment and you didn't come (you must have had a deadline, but I don't remember), and I walked back to the office with a urine sample cup containing a just-removed IUD. It was still a little mucous-y from my insides. I don't think I showed it to you.

And then there was the vacation and the hours of champagne and cookies and Scrabble and sweet, sweet love down by the fire. And two weeks later my breasts were sore and I was ready to nap at 2 PM and my period didn't come. And then it did, and we looked at each other and saw disappointment, and we had sex every other day for a month.

You said "huh" when I showed you the stick with the two purple lines. You let me take the reigns on every decision pertaining to pregnancy, birth, baby. I was surprised that you didn't seem to have a strong opinion about so many things. I think you didn't really believe that there was going to be a baby. (I didn't really believe it, either.) You were so quiet during my labor, except when I made a joke and you laughed. And then he was born, and you said, "There's a baby!"

He was flopped onto my chest right away, but you got to hold him--really hold him--before I did. I was mad that I was too weak and hurt to cuddle our little boy right away, but they told me you had him "out there" (in the living room, presumably) "wrapped up like a little glowworm," and I relaxed.
You remember feeling inept, uncoordinated, completely out of your element in those first weeks and months. You feel like you're a better dad now. But you didn't see what I saw.

You swaddled our son like you'd been doing it for years, wrapping him into a tight, soothing, wiggle-proof burrito. You wore him in the Ergo everywhere we went, eating meals carefully over his sleeping head. You talked to him while you changed his diapers, explaining how to diaper a baby so that if he ever decided to become a daddy himself, he'd already know how. You went back out in the dark to check a rain-soaked parking lot for his lost square of green blanket, just in case.

All the care and patience you'd had for me just expanded to include our child. All your humor and hard work was the perfect foundation for fatherhood. The transition was so seamless and natural, I sort of missed it. Suddenly, we have a little boy who gets up early and stays up late just to be with you. Based on that alone, I think it's fair to say you kind of rule. And while you might feel like a better father now, you've always been the perfect Dad.

I didn't need to worry about you at all. Happy Father's Day, baby.
.....................................

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oedipus Complexities

When Westley was very new, my mother told me, "Little boys love their mothers." At the time, this seemed like an over-simplified response, not matching up to my feelings of inadequacy. I thought I knew all about mother-daughter relationships from personal experience, but the mother-son thing was a complete mystery. I remember thinking, Whatever. Of course little boys love their mothers.

Um, yeah. About that? I had no idea. I take back all of my internal psh-ing and eye-rolling. But to give myself the benefit of the doubt, my mother did not include nearly enough O's in her statement. This is not "love." The depth of passion we're talking here is something out of romance novels. This is multi-syllabic love.

Westley has been saying "Mama" for a long time now, but a few months ago, he started sighing it. When he was happy with me, I started being not just "Mama" anymore. I became "Mmaaahhh-muh." The emphasis goes up, then down. Like he's purring and kind of out of breath. And he gets this glazed-over passionate look when he says it, like he's on something. When he does it, I feel like he's hitting on me.

To add to the seduction, he likes to follow his "Mmaaahhh-muh"s with a big smack of a kiss. At least he knows how to pucker his lips now. He used to just open his mouth wide and lick me.

Mwuh!

Do all toddler boys do this Mommy-passion thing, or just mine? I've never inspired this much passion in anyone (at least, not that I've known about), and I'm trying not to let it weird me out and take it as a compliment (which I'm sure that it is). But it is totally odd to hear this deep(ish), moan-y kind of voice coming out of someone who's not even two.

I was just getting used to Westley's super-affection, in fact, when it stopped. Or, rather, it was rerouted. Recently, I have been replaced by someone else. Someone younger, thinner, and famous, in fact. And a redhead.

Red all over, actually.

Yes, that's right: my son has discovered Elmo. After just a few Sesame Street viewings, Westley decided that Elmo was it. ("Forty years in children's television. They know what they're doing," was Rob's explanation for the speed of Westley's conversion.) He loves Big Bird, whom he calls "Buh-buh," and Cookie Monster is probably his second-favorite ("Cook!"), but no one can match Elmo. Or "Mo-mo."

The little stuffed Elmo that now goes almost everywhere with Westley showed up completely by coincidence; a neighbor brought him by, post-garage sale, when my mom had just been saying that morning, "We should get him an Elmo doll." Not wanting to introduce any more stuffed creatures into the already substantial menagerie, I had said, "Well, if he sees one he likes..."

So because I wouldn't do it, the universe brought Westley an Elmo doll. And as karmic repayment for having resisted my son's Elmo love, Westley's passion has moved on. It's no longer "Mmaaahhh-muh" and enormous kisses on the lips.

Now, it's "Mmohhh-mo."

.....................................

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mind Your Own Beverage

I took Westley to the grocery store at lunch time because we were out of soy milk. Our supply of sippy cups had also somehow managed to dwindle, so I picked up a package of those as well. The cashier asked politely, "Just those two things?"

"Yes," I said. "It's hard to have a sippy cup of milk if there's no milk and no sippy cup."

She laughed. "That would put a damper on things."

Then the woman in line behind me spoke up. "Did you know there was a study--?"

Let me stop right here and say I was completely ready for her to say something about pacifiers. Westley had his pacifier planted firmly in his mouth, and because he's tall and slim and dressed like a little man, he looks like a "big boy" who shouldn't be using a pacifier. Whenever we go out in public and he has his pacifier, I'm always just a little on edge. Before I had a child, I probably would have noticed a kid like Westley and thought, That kid is too old for a pacifier. I wouldn't have said anything to the mother, but (clearly) not everyone shares my boundaries regarding what is and is not OK to say to strangers.

But whatever. I thought I was in for a paci-themed tongue-lashing--about how I was delaying his speech, ruining his teeth, setting him up for a future as a chronic nail-biter or a chain-smoker or a masochist. All right.

"Did you know there was a study that said boys shouldn't drink soy milk because it's bad for their testes?"

She said it very sweetly, like she was basking in a warm glow of having done her good deed for the day. I was momentarily dumbstruck. I mean, I don't usually bring up testes in the checkout line. Do you? It just seems like bad manners.

I said, "Yes, I've heard that. But our doctor isn't concerned about it and we try to follow what he says."

"Well, 'cause I'm a pediatrician, too, so..."

Of course. Perfect. Fucking perfect.

"He drinks lots of other non-dairy milks--" I started, lying, suddenly afraid for my son's balls. The truth is, we've tried giving Westley other non-dairy milks, and the only one he likes is vanilla-flavored soy. The thing that tastes, to my palate anyway, the most like breast milk.

The cashier thrust the receipt into my hand, saving me. "Have a nice day," she said, with a little extra cheeriness.

"Thanksyoutoo." I didn't look back at the pediatrician-woman, and pushed Westley in the shopping cart through the automatic sliding doors and into the safety of fresh air.

On the way to the car, I thought of half a dozen better responses to this woman's question, including, "Which study was that?", "Who funded that study?", and "Did you know there was a study that said mothers hate unsolicited advice from strangers?" I wish I had remembered my mother's stand-by reply: "Thank you. I'll keep that in mind." It's more polite than saying "Mind your own fucking business," but still ends the conversation.

On the drive home, I tallied up all the sippy cups of soy milk Westley drinks over the course of a typical week. My stomach just sank. It didn't help, of course, that my adorable little dude was sitting sweetly in his car seat, oblivious to my mental anguish, saying "poo" (his word for "pool") over and over.

"I would love to take you to the pool right now, buddy," I told him, "but there's no pool today."

"Puck!" he said, as we passed the park.

"Yep. We'll go to the park after nap."

At home, I put Westley in his crib to nap and immediately Googled "boys and soy milk." I was instantly reminded that, just like with fluoridated water and plastic bottles and everything else, there are many opinions citing widely varied sources. When it comes to soy milk you can find studies in favor of, studies against, and lots of people ready to take sides and form teams. By far the most interesting to me is the "Soy is a Liberal Conspiracy to Turn Our Children Gay" team.

Westley's pediatrician doesn't have a problem with soy milk. And I know that by drinking it, Westley is getting protein, calcium and vitamins. It's possible that I'm being naive, but he seems perfectly healthy. His growth is right where it should be according to his doctor, and he's happy, energetic, and rarely gets sick. Still, I hate that some random woman who I will probably never see again can make me feel like a bad mother.

She probably thinks she's being responsible, educating a clueless young mother in the grocery store. Maybe if she had started by saying, "Excuse me, I'm a pediatrician, and..." But even then, there's a load of assumptions about me and my life that comes with that unsolicited remark. I wish I'd been able to convey that to her. But I didn't have the balls. Probably all the soy milk I've been drinking.

.....................................

Monday, June 15, 2009

Savor the Date

In the past week and a half, I've received a Save the Date card in the mail, discovered another wedding date announcement in my e-mail inbox, and attended a live-and-in-person baby shower. Three different friends, all opening new chapters in their life stories. So naturally, I started thinking of all the unsolicited advice I could heap on them. The things I wish someone had told me.

The "things no one told me about having a baby that I wish I'd known" advice could fill a book. In fact, I think that's why there are so many pregnancy- and baby-information books out there: there's always something that happened for you that didn't come up in any of the books you read, so you take it upon yourself to write one. (Not to mention that there's always a market for that kind of thing, since we can't seem to stop having babies. Biological imperative and poor judgment and all that.)

Maybe they told you this, but no one told me that the midwives would hang around until I'd peed. If I'd had half a brain towards the end of my pregnancy, this might have occurred to me, but I was more than a little surprised after Westley was born to suddenly have my bathroom-going monitored so closely. I also didn't know that recovering from an unmedicated at-home vaginal birth would be a full-time job. Never mind the baby. My vadge felt inside out and lopsided for weeks, and I had to carry a little inflatable butt-donut pillow around with me. I thought sitting would hurt forever.

The thing is, I'm sure that somewhere, there's a pregnancy book that says "your vadge will feel like it's inside out and lopsided," or something to that effect. I just didn't read it. I'm not as confident, however, that there's a pregnancy book that says, "Having a baby is like pushing the RESET button on your relationship." The couple Rob and I are now is not the couple we were before Westley was born. And it's definitely not the couple we were when we got married.

I realize that that has the potential to come across as negative. It's not a bad thing, really; it's just the truth about how things are now. It's true that we fight much more often now than we did before Westley was born. We take it out on each other when we're feeling grouchy or needy or tired, and the other person starts to look like the problem. But, so far, we're fighting through the fighting, and we're problem-solving more efficiently and effectively than we did before we were parents. Maybe Westley gives us the motivation we need to really work on our relationship.

I wish someone had told me, before I got married, that there would be times when I didn't feel like being married any more. And that that's all right. Wanting to be married comes and goes, like weather. And here in Seattle there are lots of overcast days, sure, but there are plenty of beautiful ones, too. Like today.

Four years ago today, Rob and I sneaked away from work early, kidnapped some friends (the baby-shower friends, actually), and got married. I remember the Judge saying this was his favorite part of his job. He explained with a fictional-character kind of wisdom that marriage is like being in a two-person canoe, and it really takes work on both people's parts to keep it afloat. Especially when it's dark and hard to see, or stormy and the water is choppy. It was a perfect day. My only major regret is that we didn't consummate the marriage until two months later, after our "real" wedding in front of our friends and families.

Four years later, things are tougher in a lot of ways, but I like us better. We don't go to bed angry; we stay up and fight until we're fighting on the same side. Us against the fight. There are times when I don't feel like being married any more. There are times when I don't feel like being a parent any more. There are times when I think if I had really known what I was getting myself into, I would have turned left at the fork in the road. But those times do pass, sometimes with work. The trick is to remember what the beautiful days feel like when the sun starts disappearing behind the clouds.

That is the only unsolicited advice I will ever insist on giving to couples about to be Parents, to couples about to be Couples: Remember this. Remember what it feels like to like each other. Remember what it feels like to be sneaky and secretive together. Remember what it feels like to be just the two of you, together, in a little canoe.

.....................................

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Disfigured

I found one of the pictures of pregnant me the other day in the whole "move everything over to the new computer" process that is still going on despite the fact that "the new computer" just goes by "the computer" these days. There are only a few pictures of me pregnant, so the image isn't something I run into electronically on a regular basis. And it seriously freaked my shit out.

I remember this perfectly. The yellowy lighting in the bathroom that made it impossible to apply natural-looking make-up. The maternity dress that I wore at least twice a week towards the end of my pregnancy, when I had gained well over the recommended 25-35 pounds and nothing else fit. The feeling tired and heavy and looking the worst I'd looked in a good long time, and yet deciding that some day, someone was going to want there to be photographic evidence of the gestation process. Thinking some day, someone would smile about this.

That someone probably won't be me, it turns out. My first thought--even though I clearly remember taking the picture--was, "I never looked like that!"  And yet, evidently, I did, and for some reason, that disturbed me. 

Maybe it's because on most days, I have a pretty good sense of what I look like. Or, at least, I've become accustomed to my mental image of myself, which is not, shockingly enough, pregnant. Even when I was actually pregnant, I didn't look pregnant for a long time (except from certain angles). Rob made a joke as part of his toast at our friends' wedding that included mentioning my knocked-upness, and afterwards, more than a few people came up to me and said, "I didn't know you were pregnant." So, pregnant or not, I think of myself as not looking pregnant. But in that picture, I'm pretty undeniably pregnant.   

For the past few weeks, Rob and I have been in baby-making negotiations. I alternate between thinking trying to have another child in the next year or two is a fantastic idea, and thinking it's a horrific idea. We've discussed waiting until Westley is potty-trained to start trying to conceive having sex without birth control and seeing what happens. We've discussed having another baby as soon as possible, and putting baby-having behind us. We've discussed not having any more children. And it's all still up in the air, and for now, that's where it will stay. But there is one question that keeps gnawing at my brain, a little zombie of uncertainty: 

What will I look like next time?

Of course, every pregnancy is different. So I guess there's only one way to find out.
 
.....................................

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Beach Boy

I'm thinking about flying across the country by myself with my toddler. And I'm on the verge of an anxiety attack.

Upon hearing about Rob's friends' and co-workers' airplane-intensive vacations with children, I vowed never to do it. Even with a partner or friend along it sounded like no fun. Consoling a wailing small person at twenty-thousand feet isn't really my scene. And dealing with an ever-stronger running, jumping, climbing, kicking, grunting toddler? Sometimes I can barely manage that in my own living room.

But now, here I am, seriously considering lugging my little Neanderthal man to the East coast for a long weekend at the beach with my girlfriends. I know diapers and bedtime stories aren't really conducive to Girls' Nights Out, but we're not so much the Girls' Night Out types. We're more Girls' Night In: movies and junk food and snarky commentary mixed with passionate political debate. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Rants.

I have this fantasy running on constant loop in my mind that involves Westley and me having a fabulous time, playing together at the beach every day, him getting fussed over by his four honorary aunts, and the two of us cuddled together on a mattress at night. Westley would love it, my girlfriends would get to experience his wonderfulness, and I would have most of my favorite people in one place.
Practicing for the beach with mist from the garden hose.

But unfortunately, my fantasy keeps getting interrupted with giant racing-heart question marks. I try to imagine actually navigating the airport with a toddler...and luggage, and a carry-on bag and a diaper bag and a baby carrier and a stroller (because, let's face it, I'm going to want a secure and mobile place to put him down) and a car seat. And that's before we even get to the part with the six-hour flight.  Six hours, if we pop for the nonstop tickets. Which come to a literal grand total of over $1000 for the two of us.

My mother has offered to babysit if I decide to take the trip alone, and Westley has a great time with her, and I can hear some of you saying, "Are you crazy? Why on earth would you take him with you if you have the option to leave him with your mom?" My doctor even said, "You need a break" when I mentioned the trip.

It's true, I do need a break. But I also need to be with my boy. It's a developmental stage thing. We're in the middle of separation anxiety: mine. I used to be able to let my dad take Westley for a walk in the stroller without a second thought, but now I spend the whole time they're out thinking about Westley and feeling itchy with the mama-bear tingles. Is he okay? Of course he's okay, you idiot. But...is he okay? It makes no rational sense, and I completely own that. But knowing that I didn't always feel this way--that sometimes I can be as clingy as Westley is--doesn't help me when I'm lying in bed at night missing him. Despite the fact that he's not even 20 feet away in the other room!
Don't go, Mommy!

So I'm really fucking stuck. I'm feeling lots of internal pressure to take Westley on vacation with me. My girlfriends are are anxious to meet him, and I can't seem to let go of my fantasy fun-with-Westley-at-the-beach scenario. Rob would welcome the opportunity to have the house to himself I know, and I'd feel like Superwoman if I actually managed to fly with a toddler with my sanity intact. The fact that Westley is still nursing is the weighty icing on the pressure cake. He really doesn't need to breastfeed any more, but going three-thousand miles away from home for five days wasn't exactly my plan in terms of weaning. And I'd really, really miss him. No amount of knowing he was fine would stop me from lying in bed at night imagining I heard him crying "Mama! Mama!" while I was trying to go to sleep.

Taking Westley on vacation with me sounds impossibly hard, but so does leaving him at home. What the hell am I going to do?  

.....................................

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Separation Anxiety Tranquility

When it came up that Rob would be out of town for a week in June on a business trip, I was nervous. Rob does a lot around here, especially when it comes to Westley. He's almost always on the ball, ready to serve a meal, change a diaper, or read Good Night, Gorilla (his own special made-up-French version, even, where everyone has French names) for the fourteenth time in a row. "Bonne nuit, Gorille!" He's energetic and funny and he cleans the cat box. It pretty much sucks when he's not around.

So this week is that week in June.  Rob is out of town, and I'm not really minding as much as I expected to. In fact, I'm kind of enjoying it. Shh! I feed Westley at 5:00 PM, clean up, and then I'm done thinking about dinner...which means Westley can take his bath sooner...which means he gets into his pajamas sooner...and because I'm not as enthusiastic with my fabricated French, Westley gets to bed sooner.  And then?

Nothing.
Pre-trip tranquility.

I'm listening right now, and I can hear the cat water fountain flowing, and the refrigerator thinking about making ice. Oh, and myself typing. And that's it! I love it. I'm hooked on the quiet. 

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying just sitting around with my own non-sounds (because, like smells, your own don't usually bother you much and therefore don't count). Elimination dieting has resulted in a huge boost in my mood, so I like myself a little better right now, which helps with the being alone thing. But there's something else, and I can't really tell what it is. Maybe it's just that I can't remember the last time my life was actually quiet.
  
For the guys' sakes, I'm glad Rob comes home on Friday. Although Westley has been dealing with the separation very well, no amount of my presence is a substitute for Daddy-time. And Rob has sounded exhausted when I've talked to him; I know he'll be glad to be home. I'll be glad to have a manly someone in my bed again, and I won't miss cleaning the cat box. But I'm afraid I'm really going to miss the truly quiet evenings at home.
  
.....................................

Monday, June 1, 2009

18 Months

You had to have two shots at the doctor's office today. On your half-birthday. I think that stinks. You took it amazingly well. "Yay!" said the nurse. "All done!" And you clapped your hands, still crying, with fat tears streaming down your face. I held you close to to nurse for comfort, and you giggled and scratched your Band-Aids.

You're almost three feet tall, and you stand on your toes to be taller. You like to stretch up as tall as you can manage, and grab things you're not supposed to have. I'm glad you're testing your limits--I hope you continue to stand on tip-toe to reach the things you want--but it makes my job very, very hard. Too hard, I think sometimes. But then you help me mop up a puddle on the floor, or you hold your food out to share with me, or you say "baby" and cuddle your baby doll the way I cuddle you. And I think, Wow.

I don't really believe in reincarnation, but sometimes I think you've been here before. Either that, or you're the little boy who read the all baby books--read ahead even, so you'd be off to a running start when the next semester rolled around. You surprise me with your sweetness and overwhelm me with you much you know already.

One-and-a-half. You got here so fast. Slow down a little, monkey, and let me catch up for a minute or two. 

.....................................