Thursday, October 25, 2007

greetings from the land of smoke and fire

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know all of Southern California is aflame. Everyone in my family has been affected somehow – from preparing to evacuate their homes to needing to evacuate their homes to having school/work/everything cancelled all week long. Everyone is fine at this point, but it’s crazy. And the air! The thick, orange-gray smoky air… breathing it is a chore. Every morning I walk outside to my car and it’s covered with a layer of white ash.

A couple of days ago, I came to the realization that the costume we had picked out for Evan over a month ago – a firefighter – now seemed in poor taste. So yesterday I went over to Party City and bought a substitute. I didn’t want people thinking we were somehow making light of the situation. Now he’s going to be James, Thomas’ the Tank Engine’s vain red friend. What could be more harmless? It’s kind of a silly costume, but he seems into it.

In other news, my placenta and I don’t seem to be getting along very well. Now how’s THAT for a segue? Come to think of it, my placenta and I have never been BFFs. Last time, I had a retained placenta that took an act of God, a lot of tugging and a sharp instrument to remove. This time, I have a marginal placenta previa that we are hoping will resolve itself within the next four weeks (according to my doctor, it should). But in the meantime, my evil placenta is um, causing some symptoms that I, um, find unpleasant, resulting in me consulting multiple nurses and doctors both on the phone and in person several times since last Friday. I’m sure everything will be fine, but maybe just send some positive placental vibrations my way, would you?

My placenta and I will update you soon. Stay safe, and don’t breathe that smoky air.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I think I can, I think I can

What is the deal with this week? It is quite possibly the longest work week EVER. Maybe because I have been dragging myself through it in a feverish haze of coughing and hacking, spreading love, joy peace and bacteria to everyone in my office. (They love me, really they do.)

Being sick is no fun, but being sick when you are pregnant is even less fun because all the good drugs are off-limits. The books say things like “get plenty of rest” and “gargle with hot salt water,” and let me tell you: not going to happen. What I really need is a double dose of Nyquil and the ability to sleep past 6:30 a.m. without hearing a little piping voice that says “Mommy, please come get me!” in escalating whiny volume until I have no choice but to stumble out of my bed and comply.

There I go complaining again. It’s a wonder you people put up with me. Well, here’s something: I’m happy that today is Friday, that despite my ongoing plague that I seem to be having a good hair day, and that I think I just saw a Krispy Kreme box walk by my office. Oh, and I am also grateful for your understanding responses to my last post. It's good to hear that perhaps I am not a raving lunatic mother after all. Well, not most of the time anyway.

Gotta go find those doughnuts! Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2007

patience

I’m sorry to keep harping on the tantrum thing. Of late it’s become somewhat of a pattern: he wants to keep doing what he’s doing; he insists on doing everything “all by myself”; I tell him it’s time to do X and he decides he’d rather do Y.

Before these tantrums started in earnest (say, three or four months ago), I had nearly broken my arm patting myself on the back for having the patience of a saint with my toddler. Me, a notoriously impatient person! I could handle this mothering-a-two-year-old thing with aplomb, without losing my cool. As all the books and experts tell you to do, I would give him a choice of two things, he would choose one and we moved on. To my surprise, this technique worked for a long time.

But the game has changed. On Tuesday, he will officially be two and a half years old. He’s smart. He’s fiercely independent. And he knows how to push my buttons mercilessly. He’s got my number, all right, and the patience I thought I had seems to have evaporated overnight. The other day I lost my temper with him and yelled and swatted at him in the car. Shaking and near tears, I apologized, hoping that the tantrum I'd just thrown in response to his hadn’t scared him or lost his trust.

A good friend of mine says it’s good sometimes for them to see that we have limits too. I don’t know. I’m not sure what it is about having a child, but everything you thought you wouldn’t tolerate, everything you thought your child would never do, comes back to you in spades. It’s a lesson in control for both of us. Sometimes I can’t control the situation, or his behavior, and it scares me. Sometimes he can’t control the situation and he lashes out, angry and frustrated, wanting to do something by himself or on his timetable, and I can’t let him.

There’s where I can see common ground. It’s just being human. We like to know what’s happening to us, to be aware and in control and if that is taken away from us it’s frightening. When I step back, I recognize and understand how he feels. And it always passes.

This morning we were again at an impasse. It was time to leave for preschool and he wanted to play in the house with his trains. I could see him start to get upset and knew what was coming. Sure enough, two minutes passed and we were in full tantrum mode. This time I did keep my cool, but still had to force him into his car seat. Once we were on the road this time, I only had to endure a couple of minutes of yelling until he stopped and asked me quietly “Mommy, did you lose your temper?”

I said “No, honey, but you lost yours.” He sniffled and said haltingly “I’m sorry Mommy.” Then he asked “do you love me?”

That was the sound of my heart shattering into a thousand tiny pieces. The fact that my baby could formulate a question like that blew my mind. He is full of questions these days: what is that? Why did you say that? Please can I have this? Many times, he already knows the answer before he asks. I told him, over and over again, that I loved him, praying that this was one of those times.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

a few reasons why this week is not shaping up to be as awesome as I’d hoped:

Pink eye (Evan’s)
Sore throat (mine)
Sneezing (both)
More tantrums on the way to school (both)
Middle-of-the-night wake-ups (Evan’s, and therefore also mine)
Saggy maternity jeans (um, guess who?)

And this morning? I drank a cup of non-decaffeinated coffee and I don’t feel guilty about it at all. In your face, What to Expect When You’re Expecting! I just wish I had some cookies to go with it, like Swistle. That would have made the whole thing even better. Now where can I get some cookies?

Friday, October 05, 2007

redemption

Well, after the Raging Tantrum from Hell’s Depths on Wednesday morning, things picked up. It’s always darkest before the dawn, if I could borrow a hideously clich├ęd expression. Hi, I am literarily uncreative today. But anyway, on Wednesday evening I went to pick Evan up from preschool. He ran toward me and gave me a big hug, chattered my ear off all the way home, and then, best of all… when my husband was holding him later that evening, he pointed at me and said “That’s my friend Mommy.” Then, pointing back at his dad, “That’s my friend Daddy.” And then once more, smiling at both of us, “There’s my friends Mommy and Daddy!”

Which just goes to prove my ongoing theory: just as you’re about ready to sell him to the gypsies, your child will do something so charming, so irresistible that you realize you were not, in fact, crazy when you decided to have him in the first place.

I guess I can stop drafting that notice for Craigslist now.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

defeated

This morning I had what was possibly the worst single 15-minute span in my mothering career. All was well at the house until I needed to get Evan in the car to take him to preschool. I cleaned him up from breakfast, put on his shoes and brushed his hair. He wanted to play with his trains, so I let him for a few minutes while I finished getting ready. Then, I told him we needed to go get in the car. He said no. I gave him some options; did he want to walk out to the car by himself or did he want me to carry him? Again, no, he wanted to play with his trains. When it became clear that there was no way he was going willingly, I picked him up and brought him out to the car.

He stiffened his entire body and wailed in protest while I had to physically muscle him into his car seat. He kicked and cried but there was nothing I could do but just buckle him in. Of course, this is when several neighbors happened to be walking by my driveway on their way home from taking their kids to school. I gave them the sheepish “kids will be kids!” smile and they looked sympathetic.

After I finally got him in, the real problems began. He cried and screamed and raged. He kicked the back of my seat repeatedly. I knew there was nothing I could say to make it stop – it was a tantrum, pure and simple, and he needed a little alone time to let it run its course. I was as much his captive as he was mine. As I drove to the school, the traffic was awful and I had to stop at what seemed like every red light. Meanwhile, my seat is vibrating from the kicking and my ears are ringing from the screaming. I turned up the radio, and it drowned out nothing.

He was yelling that he wanted to go back home, that he wanted to play with trains, that he didn’t want me to get him in the car.

Hot tears were rising in my eyes and a lump in my throat. The screaming was getting to me. I was getting angry with him for making me miserable, at myself for not knowing how better to handle it, at the cars around me for driving too slowly.

Ten minutes into the drive, he started calming down. “Mommy, hold me,” he said. I told him as soon as we got there I’d hold him.

When we finally arrived, he actually had a smile on his face and showed no evidence of the tantrum. I, on the other hand, was red-eyed and tense from clenching my jaw and neck while I drove.

We got out of the car and I held him for a minute. I told him he needed to apologize for having a tantrum and behaving that way in the car. “I’m sorry, Mommy,“ he said, and then told me he wanted to carry his lunchbox. I handed it to him and he happily walked into school…until it was time to put the lunchbox away in his cubby. I told him we needed to put it down so he could go out to the playground. He refused and I could see the relapse coming. I finally had to take it out of his hand and walk him outside. He cried and cried and cried some more. At that point, I was late for work and had no choice but to hand over my screaming child to the teachers and walk away.

I walked out of there with tears in my eyes again, feeling like a horrible mother. I’m bigger than he is, but many times, not more powerful.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I can name that baby in two notes!

Now that we know it’s a girl, we are struggling with names. We had all but agreed on a boy’s name that we loved (Seth) but are having a much harder time settling on a favorite girl name. We seem to be leaning toward girl names that are actually boy names (Dylan, Rowan, Elliott) but pairing them with an uber-feminine middle name (like Grace). I don’t know, I’m sure we’ll waffle many more times before settling on something we both agree on… like Gertrude! Or Mildred! Or Hettie!*

But seriously… it’s really hard to come up with names that are unique, yet not bizarrely weird. Speaking of bizarre, I was flipping through a baby name book last night and was alarmed to find the following names listed for girls:

Beige-Dawn
Dusky-Dream

Really? Beige-Dawn? Dusky-Dream? I promise you that I am not making this up. In the name of all that is holy, I could not imagine ANYONE seeing either of those two names in the book and saying “Aha! This is it! She will heretofore be known as Beige-Dawn.” In my dreams, dusky or otherwise, my daughter does not have a hyphenated first name that meshes together a time of the day with a color.

But anyway: what girl names do you like? Do tell…

*no offense to the many Gertrudes, Mildreds and Hetties who I am sure frequent this blog.