Friday, December 31, 2010

2011: The Year I Finally Sleep? (ControverSunday)

Edit: I was bummed that I had missed yet anotherr ControverSunday when Kathleen over at amoment2think (AKA the new host) suggested that I label this a ControverSunday post since this month's topic is about resolutions. So, same post, new label. Thanks, Kathleen!

I am sitting on my couch, sipping some green tea and blogging. It's a far cry from the champagne and truffles I've been living off this past week while ignoring my blog. Why not just wait till tomorrow? It will be the new year after all. One more day to indulge in my gluttony and laziness.

Normally I would take that day. I have always been big on resolutions, not just for the new year, but also the coming week, or the next day. Tomorrow. Or, next week. I will start to run, put down the remote and pick up a book, write a story. Then, when day after day, week after week, month after month, I fail to accomplish my goals, December rolls around. December with its hectic holiday schedule, abundance of treats, and the built in excuse to put it all off till next year. I may have squandered 2010, but THIS! This is my year!

I have a great deal to look forward to in 2011. My daughter will turn two. My little sister will get married, and we will get to travel to Rhode Island for the wedding. I'm going to BlogHer for the first time and will hopefully get to meet a lot of great people (including Brooke and hopefully Ginger!) My husband and I will celebrate our seventh anniversary. I'm looking forward to this year, and I plan on working at some of my goals.

But, unlike many other years, I don't see 2010 as something to regret. I don't really need a clean slate. Rather, I am looking forward to building on some of my accomplishments this year. I didn't become a mother in 2010, but I did really hit my stride. Which is not to say that I don't have completely off days where I feel like I couldn't possibly be doing this right or days where I feel like I just don't care to do it right. But, for the most part, I have worked hard to develop a beautiful relationship with my daughter, and I am proud of the mother I have become.

This past year I have also been welcomed into a wonderful community of bloggers, all of whom have been inspiring, supportive, intelligent, and, most importantly, hilarious. You guys keep me coming back to this blog when I get lazy or too intimidated to keep writing, because you make me feel like my story and my voice are valuable.

This is the year I discovered my passion for food. The year I made my first pie (and then made lots more.) The year I discovered risotto and how much better it is when I use homemade chicken stock. I baked and cooked, went to farmer's markets, joined a CSA. I got an apron for Christmas. I heard my husband tell me time and time again that I was "such a good cook." I loved every minute of it.

I took baby steps toward learning my guitar. I can play a few chords, and by the end of the year, I resolve to play at least one song (but hopefully more than that!) from the Beatles song book given to me by my father in law, the same person who gave me my guitar.

Many people scoff at New Year's resolutions, but I actually really love the promise of a fresh start. Nothing has actually changed: I am still carrying the weight I gained in 2010, still have empty space in my head where knowledge would be had I read more, Facebooked less. I won't be magically rocking out on my guitar after yet another year of neglecting it. But, there is the promise of change each December as I prepare to ring in the new year on my couch, once again (Seriously, I have never managed to do New Year's Eve right. Having a kid just allows me to pretend it's her fault.)So call it what you will: delusion, cliché, or foolishness, but I resolve to make 2011 a year of productivity, good food, friendship, fitness, learning, empowered parenting, romance,rest, and happiness. It's going to be a great year.

Now, if you'll excuse me I need to make sure I'm stocked up on champagne and more truffles for tonight.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in Hollywood

Yesterday Chris had to work for a few hours. He was working in Hollywood, and I remembered that when we were there last year around Christmas, there was a big Christmas tree in the fancy shopping center on Hollywood and Highland. Last year we went with Chris's sister and her boyfriend, and everyone convinced me to leave the baby with my in-laws even though I wanted to bring her. They were right; it was bitterly cold, and we would have spent the entire time making sure she was bundled, her ears covered from the wind, etc.

So, I was excited to bring her with me, show her the tree, and let her do some people-watching, a favorite pastime of hers. It was a different experience, and not just because I was pushing a stroller instead of drinking cocktails with my sister-in-law. It was HOT. And, we all know how I feel about unseasonably hot weather, right? And, I feel especially insulted when said weather is ruining the "feel" of a holiday. I don't like it when it's cold on Easter, either. I don't discriminate.

So, we walked in, past the Ralph Lauren and Coach shops, and headed for the restroom. I waited forever for the handicap stall because I had the stupid stroller, and I eventually left without ever getting to use the bathroom. That might seem like an unnecessary and terribly uninteresting detail, but it will be relevant later. Hang in there!

As we made our way to the center of the plaza, I noticed one of those water fountains that kids can run through, where they water comes and goes intermittently, alternating height and intensity. I pointed it out to Charlotte because she loves water, and since there weren't any kids there it wouldn't occur to her to run through it. Except that there was a little girl there who escaped my notice, running around the water spouts, daring herself to sprint across the entirety of the fountain before the geysers came back from their hiding place beneath the ground. At first Charlotte was content just to watch her while I slathered the sunscreen I couldn't believe I needed to apply in December, to her face.

But, ultimately, this is what happened:

At first she mostly ran along the periphery of the fountain, mostly only getting lightly misted by the water. But then she started getting more daring and running across while the water was gone. Until finally she was just running into the water, headfirst and squealing all the while. She was DRENCHED. Water was pouring off of her. When I finally pulled the plug on the water play, I realized I had gotten myself into a tricky situation.

The bathroom wasn't far, but it wasn't close enough for me to walk her there. I would need to put her in the stroller, and I didn't want it to be all soggy for the rest of the day as she would be riding in it. I try to be respectful of Charlotte's body and her as yet undeveloped sense of modesty. I usually take her to another room to change her diaper, even among family. So, I was a little uncomfortable with my own decision to strip her naked right then and there so that I could wrap my sweater (Guess it was good for something that day!) around her and take her to the bathroom.

I've mentioned that I struggle with images and perceptions. I'm trying to let go of my need to look like I have it all together. Because, first of all, I don't. And second of all, none of us do. So instead of putting on a show for one another, I am hoping we can all be honest and vulnerable with one another, and receive support in return. The point is, I struggle with it. And being in the land of beautiful people, whether or not that beauty is chemically and surgically enhanced, and being in the land of the designer-clothing-clad, perfectly coiffed babies, I was already a little on edge. But, I guess pushing a naked and sopping-wet toddler wrapped in a sweater through the crowd is what they call immersion therapy.

I did, in fact, get a lot of stares on our seemingly endless trek to the bathroom. I was able to get into a stall relatively quickly this time, and I began the arduous task of wringing out her clothes, shoes, and socks before putting them in a plastic bag I did not know I had, and I swear was put there by magical elves. Then I got her dressed into the pair of backup clothes that I don't always have, but did today by providence, or perhaps more magical elves. She didn't have shoes the rest of the day, including when we ate lunch in a restaurant, but, hell, she was happy.

I was slightly damp, as well, having been asked by Charlotte to join her in the water fountain romp. I was more cautious than she, choosing my paths carefully, rather than just charging in with reckless abandon, but I did manage to get a little water on me. So, I decided to use my Gap gift card and procured a tank top on clearance. (Side note: I also snagged an adorable summery skirt for sixteen bucks that I would not have been able to afford when it was in season. I win.) I didn't want to go ALL the way back to the bathroom, only to possibly wait another hour for a stall, so I devised a plan in which I took off the tag, walked into an empty elevator, arranged the shirt on top of the stroller in the ideal position for getting it on with ease, and pushed the button. Whereupon the shirt fell from the stroller just as I had taken off my old shirt, causing me to panic and scramble to get the shirt off the ground and onto my body in the length of time it takes to go up one floor, which, in case you were wondering, is not a lot of time. Which is how I ended up topless as the elevator door opened. But since luck was on my side this day, no one was there, and I was able to dress myself discreetly.

And with that, I leave you. I'm off to pick up a Christmas tree, probably clad in a tank top and flip flops. Oh, which reminds me: here's a picture of Charlotte at the Christmas tree display in Hollywood yesterday. Nothing says 'Winter Wonderland" like a barefoot kid in a t-shirt.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Saga Continues

Here is a haiku I wrote about tonight's session of rocking Charlotte to sleep:

Eyes are not closing
The rocking chair is squeaking
Patience is thinning

And here's another:

If you sleep right now
I will buy you a pony
For the love of God

This is what I was thinking about while I was standing in the dark next to Charlotte's crib, trying to ignore the deadening sensation in my arm because the rocking chair was making too much noise for me to sit in it. I didn't want to lose the momentum I'd gained going through the bedtime routine by greasing the chair, so I just proceeded with the rocking while standing. Although, I suppose if my arm had fallen asleep, causing me to drop Charlotte on the floor, I would have been starting from square one anyway. It was a gamble.

Related to this conversation: I heard a little girl outside call for her mom a second ago, and I thought it was Charlotte calling for me. My reaction to that perception can only be described as full-on panic. Holy hell, that was a close one!

So, yeah, it's wearing on me a little. The reluctance to sleep. The fact that I can't, no matter how hard I try, get her into bed much before nine, and usually it's later. The fact that most nights I'm starving because I usually eat dinner after she goes to bed.

But, what are ya' gonna do?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As It Should Be

Well, I dropped the ball on ControverSunday this month. We had our nieces over for the weekend, and I was having way too much fun eating junk food with them, playing board games, and laughing hysterically at our eight-year-old niece's banter. Seriously, this kid has WIT. And she goes on these bizarre tangents; most recently she was telling us about how Curious George was the fifth Beatle. He is, as I understand, George Harrison's brother, and he made monkey sounds on every one of The Beatles' songs, but you can't hear him because he was never given a mic.

Anyway, I was going to tackle the whole Santa topic in the post I never got around to writing. Chris and I have never had a doubt in our minds that we would do Santa with Charlotte. Believing in Santa is fun, magical, and part of being a kid. But, recently I have read a few blog posts about how lying to our kids about Santa is going to erode their trust in us. I laughed it off at first, but then I started getting nervous. I knew we would still do Santa, but I started stressing about the details. How far will we take it? How will we handle her questions and concerns about Santa? I was going to write a long post, exploring all my feelings on it, until I read this post by Clara over at The Cheeseblog. It's her ControverSunday post, and while the whole thing isn't about Santa, you need to read the whole post because Clara is one of my favorite writers. She is witty, insightful, and says eloquently in two sentences what I couldn't manage to express in two pages. She always makes me realize that things aren't as complicated as I make them out to be. She's like my Zen Master.

So, you have Clara to thank for sparing you my long-winded Santa post. And, what I want to talk about instead is letting go of perceptions, not worrying about what we "should" be doing. This has been on my mind for a couple reasons:

Reason #1-

I have been rocking Charlotte to sleep for every nap and every bedtime for the last two weeks. She will be two in March. Now, I realize this is not advisable due to the quite possibly literal back-breaking nature of the work, what it might mean for her future sleeping habits, and most importantly, what it might mean for the delicate flower that is my sanity.

I'm not thrilled with the current situation. especially because in the months leading up to this development Charlotte was like an Olympic sleeper. A story, a song, a snuggle, and she went happily into her crib, rolled over to hug her bunny, and that was that. So, a process that used to take ten minutes, tops, now takes up to an hour. Also frustrating is that it HAS to be me. I do like that she wants me and that we have our special thing, since as I mentioned, she is something of a Daddy's girl, but it can be frustrating that I'm the only one who can do this particular task right now.

Whenever I mention that I've been rocking her to sleep, I'm a little guarded, ready with some self-deprecation to ensure that everyone knows that *I* know how ridiculous it is. Because I know how we all are. We all have opinions about other people's children, and we all KNOW what is best for them. So, I try to diffuse any judgment that might be headed my way with some quips of my own.

But the truth is, I don't think it's ridiculous. I might regret it later. I might have to do some damage control when she's five and can't fall asleep without me. But, Chris and I have always done what works for us and for Charlotte when it comes to her sleep. We co-slept until it didn't work. We Ferberized until she hit a new stage, and then we adjusted. I've used an Ergo to get her to sleep even though she was old enough to say "No Ergo." And, we enjoyed the fruits of all our labor during her rockstar sleeping phase. Now we're in a rough patch, but I feel it will get better when she's ready for it to get better. So, I have decided not to worry about where or how she "should" be falling asleep. Besides, I am rather enjoying the cuddliness of it all.

Reason #2-

Yesterday we took Charlotte to a free trial at MyGym. It's basically Gymboree, only it's called MyGym. Brightly colored mats, a ball pit, and all sorts of other tumbling paraphernalia. She had a great time, we could see how it would be beneficial for her to have an hour of more structured playtime each week, we liked that it gave her an opportunity to listen to other adults, and of course, we liked that she got to interact with other kids. The park is so hit and miss. Some days there are kids roughly her age, and some days they are interested in playing with her. But, other days, she's on her own, or rather, she and I are on our own, and I desperately want her to interact with more kids. Mostly because she adores other kids. She craves their attention. So, I want to give her that. She was at top of the age group in yesterday's class, and the teachers recommended she try Thursday's class where there will be older kids. So, we're going to try it out because she will probably have a blast.

But, here's the problem: we can't possibly afford to sign her up for this class. I misunderstood the pricing when I agreed to try out the second class, but once I figured it out, I realized this ain't happening. We tried to find an extra 70 bucks in our monthly budget, but there really isn't much else we can cut from our bills.

I'm disappointed because I know Charlotte would love and benefit from this class. But, part of my despondency on the matter is coming from the fact that I feel like I am not keeping up with the other "good mothers" by failing to get her into one of these programs. I have this perception of what it means to be a conscientious mother of a small child, and it includes always having a box of raisins in the diaper bag, taking her to story time at the library, setting up little art projects for her to complete, and going to Gymboree. You know, like they do in the movies.

Well, I fail at story time because I didn't sign up months in advance, which the disdain in the librarian's voice told me is a huge parenting faux paus. I fail at art projects because my organization skills and limited creativity don't allow for much more than throwing a piece of big paper and a tube of finger paint on the kitchen floor, and now I fail at gym class because I don't have a job that would enable me to pay for it. The only thing I can do is the raisins, because how hard is it to carry a box of raisins on you? And sometimes, I fail at that, as well.

I know, I know. This self-doubt and parental anxiety is getting tiresome. But, never fear! I'm actually not whining. Charlotte is a happy kid. She doesn't know that I can't afford to take her to a gym class, and she doesn't care. She is perfectly happy running around at the park. And, maybe we'll join a mom's group so she can meet other kids. Then again, maybe we won't, and she'll just have to wait a week or two to see her cousins, whom she idolizes. And maybe I'll be able to get us ready in time for the bookstore's story time on Monday mornings once in a while. Or maybe we'll make pancakes in our pajamas instead.

Charlotte doesn't know that I don't look like the moms in the movies, and she doesn't care. So, I don't care, either.