Thursday, September 23, 2010

And Then I Passed Out at Nine P.M.

My mom is getting married in nine days. I am a bridesmaid. I should be staining little wooden boxes that will be filled with chocolate espresso beans and used as party favors, but I am not (Sorry, Mom! I'll get it done!)

My sister is moving to New York two days after the wedding to be with her fiancé. Last weekend I drove to San Francisco on Saturday, had wonderful food and wine with her and her two girlfriends, woke up and helped her pack the car, and drove back down to L.A. That's over twelve hours in the car in a 36 hour period, in case you're counting.

I'm not complaining about any of this. The trip was taxing, but fun. I'm excited about the wedding. And, I'm loving soaking up every minute I can with my sister before it's time for her to go east, and time for me to start waking her up at 2 A.M. to talk about Dexter because I've forgotten the time change.

My point is that I am missing my blog, but I am very, very busy. Tomorrow we have Charlotte's 18 month old check up, as well. Then she's spending the night with my in-laws, and my sister and I might be having a farewell karaoke party.

In related news, HOLY SHIT. My baby is 18 months old. Soon I will have to write about how I am much more freaked about her turning two than I was about her turning one. Something about her being a "kid" and not a baby by any stretch.

Oh, and we're going to Disneyland on Sunday. And, yes, we're taking the toddler. I know some of you might be thinking this is stupid, and if I were paying a million dollars to get in and hadn't scored some free tickets from my soon-to-be-stepfather, you would be right. I have always shaken my head at the people pushing strollers around Disneyland. I didn't understand why you would spend all that money to bring a baby to a place they wouldn't remember. Especially if it prevented you from going on Space Mountain. I mean, REALLY.

But, like I said, free tickets. And, I also underestimated the intense desire to give Charlotte every experience. Even ill-advised ones like hauling her cranky butt all over The Happiest Place on Earth sans nap. Besides, I'd just end up envying all the other morons who brought their babies, and no amount of free-falling down the Tower of Terror would help me miss her less.

So, not that it's a change for my posting to be sporadic, but I will probably be around even less than I have been. I'll be back to tell the tales of Charlotte meeting Mickey, a farewell night of karaoke with my sister, and the aftermath of my mom and I deciding that the 18 month old could totally be a flowergirl.

And, now if you will excuse me. I am going to face plant on my keyboard. Or a glass of chardonnay.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So There

A couple days ago I was talking to a friend. She has a two-year-old named Riley, and usually when we get together we spend most of our time pulling toys out of the collective death grip each of our kids has on them amidst shouts of "Mine!" and "No no no!" But, on this day, thanks to an ill-timed trip to Whole Foods and the fact that neither of our kids had napped, they both fell asleep in the car on the way home and continued to sleep through dinnertime once we brought them back to my apartment, so we were actually able to have a conversation for a change.

They're adorable, yes?

Do you have one of those friends that just always looks cute, and when you know you're going to see her, you put a little more effort into picking clothes that won't make you feel fat and dumpy and just generally awful about yourself when you see her in stylish clothes three sizes smaller than yours? Well, Jess is mine.

She is decidedly thin, sort of exotic looking with her dark, almond-shaped eyes and thick, black hair, and is always dressed in a way that seems hip and effortless at the same time. I, on the other hand, am...thicker, and most of my clothes are hand-me-downs from friends who were clearing out their closets to make room for bigger and better things. Well, not bigger. But, better.

So, when the conversation turned to fashion and clothing, I was astonished to learn that Jess covets other people's clothing just as much as I do. She, too changes her outfit twenty times and drives the man in HER life crazy with questions about what does and does not make her look fat. She also struggles with the constant push/pull of trying to move beyond the material and focus on the more important matters of life, but OMG, I need that belt!

Now, in the past, upon hearing that this waif of a girl ever worried about looking fat, I would have been annoyed. I would have taken it as an affront. Well, if she thinks SHE'S fat, what does she think about me? But, this time it hit me: it isn't about me. It's not about her, either. It's all of us. We all have our body issues, self-esteem issues, doubts, etc.

And it isn't limited to the aesthetics. One of the things I love about the internet community I've found is that we can all express our doubts and insecurities about the kind of job we're doing raising our kids. It's harder to get to that soft, squishy place in some of the moms we meet in real life because we're so much more guarded. We worry about how we're being perceived. One of my favorite bloggy buddies, Kathleen, recently wrote this post about protecting our kids vs. letting them make mistakes, and she admits that while her instincts tell her not to hover and to let her daughter fall (literally and figuratively), she has caught herself rushing to her daughter's aid more than she feels is necessary just to deflect the wayward glances the more protective mothers give her at the playground.

Part of the problem is that no matter how sure we are in one moment that our parenting style is right and good and totally the way to go, all it takes is to see another parent doing it differently, and all of a sudden we're not sure of anything anymore, and we are compensating for this uncertainty by very ostentatiously offering our kids their ORGANIC raisins or asking them to count to ten for no apparent reason.

It's just so damn hard and maybe even impossible to not compare ourselves to everything and everyone. To the other mothers we encounter, to the beautiful and fashionable people we see on the street, to the better paid and superiorly-titled co-workers, and so on. I realize this is not a new revelation, and my resolve to try and opt out is not one that hasn't been made and then forgotten by millions of people, but... still.

I have to try. I have to try to focus on being the best parent I can. And, yes, that includes continuing the dialogue with people, both in the real world and on the web. I think exposing yourself to the various parenting styles with as open a mind as you can is great. The trick is to take what you like, leave what you don't, make your choices with pride, and remain confident even when faced with the myriad voices of dissent. It's hard. But, it helps to know that almost everyone else is fighting the same fight.

I have to try and love my body, flab and all. I feed it good food. I try and take it for a spin around the block or on the treadmill when I can. My husband loves it. I have to focus on being healthy and not thin. Because, if I don't change the way I think, I could lose twenty pounds and still think I'm fat.

I have to try and write more. I want to be a writer, and yet, I veto so many ideas in my head without even giving them a chance to live on the page, because I'm worried about what people will like to read, what they will find tiresome, what they have heard a million times before. I have been afraid to write fiction because it's unfamiliar territory for me, and I worry it won't be good enough. Good enough for whom? Me? yes. But also... people. Everyone else. And writing some bad stuff is better than never writing anything for fear of rejection and ridicule.

I guess what it comes down to is that I have to try to be happy. Food makes me happy. Wine makes me happy. Exercise will keep me healthy, and that makes me happy (If only the exercise itself made me as happy!). Writing makes me happy. My family makes me happy, and I won't feel guilty anymore for spending time with them when I *should* be doing something else. The kitchen can stay messy. My stomach can stay flabby. My clothes can stay shabby. But, I'm going to be happy, damnit.

So there.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wonderful Wednesdays: At the Park

I thought this week would be a good one to participate in Wonderful Wednesdays because this is the first day in months that I woke up to weather that didn't make me want to kill myself!

Seriously, it is beautiful today, all gray and cloudy, with a cool breeze. I looked out the window and was so happy that I decided to forgo our usual routine of hanging out in pajamas until Chris wakes up, and I got us all dressed, dusted off the jogging stroller, and we set off to the park.

Charlotte was thrilled when she realized we were going to the park. She gets a little bored just sitting in the stroller when I've tried to go for an evening jog (which is my word for panting, holding my side, and generally dying, for thirty whole seconds and then walking the rest of the way), so when she saw the shiny plastic kingdom awaiting her as we turned the corner, she cried out "Play!" and decided I was good people and called off this afternoon's assassination attempt.

There was a little girl about Charlotte's age there with her nanny. So, they did the typical toddler ritual of smiling and pointing at each other while repeatedly informing those around them that there is, in fact, another baby in proximity.

It was kind of awkward for us grown-ups, as there was a significant language barrier, but we were able to ascertain the respective ages and names of the kids. Then we just smiled feebly at one another whenever one of the girls would start following the other all over the park.

It took Charlotte a little while to warm up to the girl, but once she did, she very suddenly (and loudly) ran up to her and said "HI!" at which point, the baby looked frightened and asked to be picked up by her caregiver. I don't blame her. Charlotte scares me, too.

There were a few more uncomfortable moments, this time involving Charlotte's new favorite word. First she ran up to a toy that a little boy was playing with, pointing her finger, shaking with rage and growling, "MINE." Which, you know, is typical, and she can get away with, what with her cherub face and all. It's when she starts pointing at human children and asserting her claim with a "My baby" that things get interesting.

Soon enough, it was time to head home. The walk was less than wonderful considering that my inability to comply with her majesty's command to "Run run" all the way back to our apartment complex due to aforementioned panting and wheezing, was something of a disappointment to Charlotte.

But, when we got home there was bacon being prepared by my cute husband. So, back to wonderful.

Don't forget to visit Ginger to see what's wonderful in her world this week or to read her beautiful post about her baby boy turning one.

And tell me what is wonderful in your lives, too!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charlotte: Eating Sand and Stealing Hearts. But Mostly Eating Sand.

I've spent the last few days writing the same blog post, whining, being hormonal and emotional, and just generally being loads of fun.

Charlotte has been waking up several times during the night, sometimes taking more than an hour to go back to sleep, and only accepting my presence as acceptable, so that even when Chris happens to be home and willing to deal with her, she screams bloody murder until I come in and ultimately nurse her.

I'm feeling stifled by her dependence on me, and I'm sleep-deprived. Plus, like I said: hormones. All of these combined have made me, unpleasant, to say the least, and I'm really surprised Chris hasn't started slipping mood stabilizers into my coffee just to save his own sanity.

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I started thinking about all the bitching I'd been doing.

I started recalling how I'd spent an evening with a friend complaining that I can't go out for drinks and to independent movies with my child-free friends anymore, and that I can't afford to buy clothes, and that I HATE all my clothes. I whined to anyone who would listen about how I needed a break from Charlotte, how I couldn't deal with the wakings and the clinginess.

I won't go into the details of how I ended up putting things in perspective because while the inner workings of my mind may be complicated, they certainly aren't interesting. But, suffice it to say, I realized I was being a giant ass.

I'm not saying we can't complain when our kids do annoying crap like keep us up all night. Nor am I saying it's wrong to want some space from them. I am with Charlotte all the freaking time. Even without the defiance and poor sleep habits, I'd need some time away from her. I'm just saying I can't let this self pity consume me the way it has been. She might shove sand in her mouth and get in my face right after I've sternly told her not to eat sand. She might get all bright-eyed at 3 A.M. and start talking about pie (true story). But, she also kicks a lot of ass. And, here's some video evidence to prove it.

Once she takes this act on the road, I'll have money for all the nice clothes I want!