Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"When I'm a parent, I will NEVER..."

When Westley was a baby, I read a parenting article (surprise!) where the author casually mentioned eating ice cream after her children were in bed. The comment stuck with me because it seemed so...sneaky. Mean-sneaky. When dessert was happening, I decided, it should be a shared, whole-family thing.

I will never eat secret ice cream, I thought.

Fast forward to last week. There were several nights where I got my dessert on after everyone was in bed. I made cookies and didn't share them with the kids. I am a mean-sneaky parent.

It got me thinking about some of the other things I swore I'd never do.

1. Drive a Crumbmobile

My mother used to call her car the Crumbmobile, because its floors were often littered with crumbs and other bits of assorted dirt. I kind of judged her for it—and I was a child at the time! (Never mind that I was probably responsible for at least a third of the mess!) I vowed that when I was a mom with two kids and a yellow Volvo, I would not drive a Crumbmobile.

My car is not a yellow Volvo, but it would put my mother's Crumbmobile to shame. The inside looks like a movie theater floor and a granola bar factory had a baby. (Sorry I was such a judgey little bitchpants, Mom.)

2. Say "potty."

"Potty" is my "moist." I find it so unaesthetic and icky, and I was determined that I would never, ever say it. And then potty training happened, and I purchased a little plastic potty, and "time to go sit on the potty" and potty potty potty. Potty on, dudes.

3. Say "okay?"

Whenever I hear parents say something to their child like, "Five more minutes and then we have to go, okay?" I always want to jump in and say, "No! Not okay!" Because the kid almost certainly doesn't want to go in five minutes. The kid is having an awesome time! Using "okay?" to mean "did you hear me?" or "do you understand?" is actually pretty disrespectful. Do adults say "okay" like that to each other? (That's not a rhetorical question. I've actually never noticed and I'm curious.)

The problem with "okay?" is that the more you hear it, the harder it is not to fall into a pattern of saying it. I've slipped a few times and it feels awful, like a weird parenting nerve misfiring.

4. Buy baby food in pouches.

I don't know how long these things have actually been around, but a couple years ago it suddenly seemed like every solid-food-eating baby over a certain age was toting one around the playground. I did. not. get it. Okay, I got that they were portable, but something about the bag o' puree seemed super icky. Plus, they were pricey. Just blend your own carrots, I thought.

Enter Ivy, a solid-food-eating baby who wanted to self-feed right from the get-go. My home-blended carrots were only acceptable if they were thick enough to stick to the spoon. And then sometimes she'd gag on them, and I'd feel crappy. Plus, there was now an older child around, also in need of lunch. Pouches to the rescue! Ivy is mostly done with them now, but for a while, she had a two-pouch-a-day habit that I fully supported!

I still think the bag o' puree thing is kind of icky, but after a few months of regular pouch consumption, Ivy taught herself to drink through a straw. So that's something.

5. Do presents from Santa.

Rob was with me on this. We were going to Christmas it up big time in December, just without Santa Claus. The problem was we didn't not include Santa. It only took Westley a couple of Christmas movies (plus whatever he absorbed from the culture around him) to decide on his own that he believed in Santa. It was heart-melting. There was nothing I could do...

...except have Santa fill stockings on Christmas Eve.

6. Stay home full-time.

Five-and-a-half years down, and (more than likely) five-and-a-half years to go.

* * *

P.S. I was also one of those know-it-all pregnant women who was never going to let having children be my "not enough time" excuse. Reality is I've been trying to write something for over a week, and every time I sit down at the computer, the baby squawks for assistance. Every time.

My pregnant self knew nothing. Children are time vampires. The end.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Single Parent Time, Again

Rob is out of town. Last night I was going to sit down and write about how time slows down when I'm on my own with the child(ren) for longer than the usual ten-hour stretch...but I was exhausted and instead I went to bed at 8:30.

As I arranged pillows, trying to make my body feel less sore and the big, half-empty bed feel less...weird, I wondered again, "How do people parent alone all day, every day?"

And then this afternoon, when my back spasmed so badly I actually dropped Ivy (only a few inches, but enough to scare both her and me), I realized, They just do. People just keep going, day after day, because that is what they do.

After my moment of terror—"Oh my God, I dropped the baby! Can I pick her up? Can I stand up?!"—I felt strangely empowered by my newly discovered, overly simplified Secret of Parenting Solo: just do it. (Now where have I heard that before?) I could feel the Universe saying, Yeah, it really fucking sucks to have your back collapse on you. Sorry, sweetheart, but you have shit to do. Keep going. (The Universe isn't always very nice to me.) When you don't have an option apart from "keep going," it's still not easy, but you keep going.

So I took two ibuprofen and kept going. Time passed painfully slowly and this morning feels like yesterday, but I did it. I feel pretty good about it, actually. And, as far as I can tell, the kids actually had an awesome day (save the whole dropping incident). Everyone ate three meals and a snack, there was banana "soft serve," we saw a cat while walking to school, Ivy took a nap on my shoulder, Westley's backpack is turning into a travelling rock collection...

I definitely don't want to fly solo all the time. Single parenthood is tough, even when you know there's an end in sight. But it's kind of great to know that I can do it all on my own.

Even if it means going to bed before 9:00.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tweetheart

I don't use Twitter.

I did use Twitter, and then I realized that it makes me feel like I'm at a party with a bunch of intimidatingly cool strangers. I'm given to understand that people like Twitter—I know people who have made amazing friends on Twitter—but I've never been good at mingling at parties. Also, I spend almost no time online any more, and Twitter seems to work best in "real" time.

Sunbeam

Anyway. Here are some things I would tweet, if I tweeted:

Stepping on big Legos is just as bad as stepping on small Legos. 
Just looked under the dining room table and wish I hadn't. It's like someone ate 100 granola bars.  
One day I will stop thinking Seth Rogan when I mean Rogan Josh. 
And then I'll stop calling Ras el Hanout "Ra's al Ghul." #marriedtoageek 
Put on some Nirvana for the first time in a long time. My first thought was, "I have NO IDEA what you're singing." I think I'm old now. 
The second best thing about new Lady Gaga is song parodies that happen at my breakfast table.  
I live for applesauce, the sauce, the sauce...I live for the way you puree my fruits for me...  
The first best thing about new Lady Gaga is new Gaga Stigmata
THE BABY CAN OPEN THE BABY PROOF CABINET LOCKS! 
Celebrating 8 years in Seattle by FINALLY buying myself a raincoat. 
Westley just announced to me that his new friend is..."The Other Westley!" 
Ivy starts toddler group tomorrow. Which is perfect, because she just mastered toddling.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From Zero to ALL THE THINGS

Swings

Fall doesn't start for another few weeks, but Summer is officially over.

Westley started kindergarten (and resumed aikido) yesterday. Ivy starts pre-preschool next week. I went from having nothing on the calendar to attending two curriculum nights and a school-wide "meet and greet" in the space of three days. I've already written half a dozen checks for tuitions, fees, and donations. I was getting a little annoyed with summer, and ready to call us "done"—the heat is all right, but the long, empty days are oddly exhausting—but the shift to busyness was fast and harsh.

(I didn't mean it, summer! Take me back!)

* * *

After insisting for weeks that he was NOT going to kindergarten, Westley had a great first day. He loves his sock monkey name tag, his table ("There are only boys at my table! And no bullies allowed!"), snack ("Different kinds of crackers!"), and recess.

He looked a little wide-eyed and overwhelmed when I came to pick him up yesterday (and a little uncertain when I dropped him off this morning), but when he talks about school, I can see the confidence growing underneath the nerves.

Deep down he knows, I've got this.

First Day

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