Sunday, November 25, 2007


At my church, the first 15 minutes the children are in the regular service with their parents, then they leave to go to Sunday school--or the baby room, as it is with me. Most parents come back into the service after delivering their kids to the appropriate place, but I stay in the baby room the rest of the time, as Frances has a complete fit if I leave her there. Today I dashed to the bathroom for just a moment and I told her when I was leaving that I'd be RIGHT BACK, but it was no good. Poor girl cried giant tears until she spotted me coming through the door. When I leave her with Carol or my mom or Mitch's folks or even our neighbor Hannah she just smiles and waves at me, but something about that baby room does not please her. She looks up after happily playing awhile and there's no one there she knows well, and she feels all alone and abandoned and I think she panics. The first time I first brought her she was completely entertained and enjoying herself so I said goodbye and went back to the service. Then someone had to come get me ten minutes later. This happened a couple of times, so these days I just stay with her.

So today, after I'd gotten settled on a Boppy on the floor, a woman who was dropping off a kid at Sunday school came over to speak with me. She said she'd so enjoyed watching Frances be her independent self during the service (I spent our 15 minutes trying to corral her and keep her from shouting just to hear the echo—a kind of convincing that didn't work well). She said she enjoyed watching my interaction with her and that it all reminded her of her first child. It turns out her first two kids were 15 months apart, and her third was 20 months after the second. "The third was a blessing," she said and nodded. A blessing?! When I asked what she meant, she said that with the first two she was still trying to hold it all together—keep the house clean, cook dinner, shower. And with the third she just let it all go. She realized what was important because she simply couldn't do more, and counted a day as a success as long as everyone's butts were clean and tummies were full. I can see that. It's funny that we'd call something that forces us to GIVE UP a blessing, but sometimes we need that yank on our chains. Sometimes it's the things that shake us—tragedy included—that bless us in the end. She also said the first two were so close and such good friends that she was able to enjoy the babyhood of the third in a way that she wasn't the others. It all made me think maybe I can handle three, which is how many I've wanted all along. But that wanting, I have to admit, has been in my brain—an idea I've had—and not a yearning in my gut.

Not that I generally feel much in my gut, as I've mentioned before. I'll be telling my therapist about some incident and she'll say, "How do you feel about that?" And I'll think "Feel? How do I feel? I have no idea." But I certainly can tell you what I think about it. In any case, my ideas about this new baby are starting to move from my brain down into some area that approximates my gut and I find when people ask "Are you excited?" I don't automatically think, "Hell no." Now I think, "Maybe," and the thought has a sweet lilt.

Last week my friend A and I were at the mall and there was a woman there wrestling a child into a stroller. Frances toddled over to say hello and when I went to collect her, the woman looked up at me, stricken, and said, "This is so hard! I don't know how you do it. My nieces are visiting for two weeks and it's exhausting. My daughters are six and eight and they're easy—I'd forgotten how hard this is." "It's good to know it gets easier," I said, and she said, "Oh my god yes. So much." It was a good reminder that this will get easier, that I won't be in babyworld forever. Sometimes it really does feel like this is the paradigm for the rest of my entire life. And by six years old! That's no time at all. I believe folks when they tell me it goes fast, faster than you'd like. It's good to remember that there will come a time when I can simply go to the bathroom again by myself.

And while I'm generally not very good at keeping my struggles in perspective, I've got it. For today, anyway, I see things for what they are; I see the tedium as temporary and as lovely, as well as tiresome. I see that it can be enjoyable if I just relax about it all. Isn't that always the answer to my issues?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the fun of the stomach flu

F had the stomach flu Sunday night. I'd never really considered how different it is to experience the stomach flu from the point of view of a parent—it's nearly as horrible as it is to be the one sitting by the toilet. (And why is it these things start at night?? Why can't we have a great game of repeat puking and changing clothes and bathing when I'm already awake?) I think I did 4 loads of laundry between 10pm and 3am. Sheets, mattress cover, pjs, rags we used to mop up, sometimes our own clothes. It's funny what you find yourself doing without complaint, what seems normal at the time; when I told my cousin R about it she remembered the time her 1 year old son was sick and she caught the puke in her hands. Thank earth we haven't gotten it yet—I'm going with the thought that our immune systems were able to handle it. Mitch says every time he eats anything he assesses what it will be like coming back up. Lovely.

Yesterday we wouldn't let her eat even though she was starving and asking for food and milk all the time, poor girl. (Well, I did give her milk first thing, thinking it had been several hours since she last threw up, and she drank 1/2 a bottle and immediately threw it up all over the floor and her pjs.) She'd sign for milk and for food and then just cry and cry. The nurse said to only give her little sips of water, so we'd hand her the sippy cup and she'd grab it and chug at it like she was parched, and we'd have to pull it away. It broke my heart a little.

It's funny what it does to you, coming in to see her sitting up in the crib covered in vomit—the instant adrenaline, the worry, the need to make things as right as you can. I can't imagine how in the hell a single parent does this kind of thing. Mitch was stripping her down while I was running for rags; he was rubbing her back and telling her it was all right as she cried in fear while I stuffed laundry into the washer; one of us ran the bath while the other pulled sheets off the bed. It was a team effort.

It's good to have a team.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There are days when being home with a little kid is just boring. I don't think Frances' sitter C thinks this—she finds it endlessly entertaining, it seems, which is why I love her so much, and why she's such a good sitter. But I . . . I can be pretty bored by reading books and doing puzzles and swinging on the baby swings in the park. And those are the more exciting activities—those are much different from the wrestling matches we have for changing diapers and wiping faces. She has opinions now, you know, and expresses them loudly. M mentioned on the phone that he took her to Barnes and Noble today and what she wanted most to do was not play in the kids section, but look at—and tear the pages out of—the grown-up books. When he wouldn't let her do this, she threw a complete fit, utter angst and drama, big tears in the B&N. And there's not much to be done about that. She wants to play outside; then it's time to come in, but she doesn't think so, and omigoodness the drama when I bring her in anyway.

And these days I work 3 days/week; I have a break from babyworld. I have a lovely commute in which I listen to the radio and have conversations with myself. What on earth is it going to be like when I'm home all the time? When I'm home all the time with TWO of them?? I think the answer is playgroups. Playgroups where the kids entertain each other and I can have conversation with adults at the same time. (other suggestions welcome!!) I'll be home with the girl full time for about 6 weeks before the new baby comes... The problem right now is that most all of my mom friends also work so don't have time to schedule social events. I'll have to find some new friends, I suppose.

It will be good practice for NY anyway.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a couple of days without baby

It is Sunday, and Frances is in Winston-Salem with her Grammy. Last time she was there I called all the time, wanting updates on how much she’d eaten and when she’d slept, but this time I’m fine fine fine with her being away. Yesterday I organized all kinds of too-small Frances clothes and soon-to-be-used gender neutral clothes into size stacks, which gave me enormous pleasure. Then I vacuumed the house and browsed at Target before picking Mitch up from a reception/party thing I’d opted not to go to. AND THEN we went shopping for cars. For SUVs, specifically, but what we ended up driving—yet again—was the minivan. Oh my. It’s just absolutely the most logical choice. It stinks, really, but there it is. Why it is that we only shop for cars when it’s below 30 outside I do not know. All my memories of car shopping take place in the freezing cold and in the dark. And in the end I agreed to a minivan. I did. We, in fact, might buy one sooner rather than later because they had some good deals on the 2007s left on the lot. We’d originally thought we’d wait until closer to the move to make a purchase…will see.

After the car shopping we went on a DATE, to dinner at a Turkish place on Franklin Street and then swing dancing in Carrboro. It all made me feel like a real person with a full life; amazing how one day can do that. Being on Franklin St in the freezing cold, walking up the brick sidewalk by students and folks out for nice meals, being where people were out just to be out, not to run an errand or get home quickly or minimize the stress of the task, but just to enjoy—it was great. At dinner the tables were really close together and we sat between two very funny conversations. On one side of us was a couple who seemed to find life more stressful than enjoyable, who spent most of their dinner complaining about how busy the restaurant was and how the waiter had forgotten to bring the napkins, as well as speculating about whether they were short staffed or the service had just gone to the dogs. On the other side were 2 couples who spent most of the time talking about which Colorado ski resort had the raddest skiing, and about the two fella’s recent acquisitions of their pilot’s licenses. The women added their points by waving their hands around and using their large glittering diamonds as punctuation. M and I talked about whether to get leather or cloth seats in the minivan. (Anyone with pluses or minuses post them here.) I’d nearly forgotten there were folks out there living regular non-parent lives. Doesn’t everyone on earth have a small child and spend days upon days inside the house, only venturing out for more bananas and baby cereal at the grocery?

Frances comes home this afternoon. Hopefully by then I’ll have the new storm door installed—one more thing I want to get done before she’s here again, sweet thing.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

decisions and halloween

We've decided! Mitch accepted the offer from the University of Rochester this morning. Whew! We'll be moving in the summer sometime, don't know when. In the end, he got offers from Univ of Georgia and Virginia Tech too, but we're going to Rochester. I found I didn't want to go to Athens or Blacksburg... I wanted to experience something new, someplace different than I'm used to. Which is funny, because I spent so much time beating myself up about being intimidated by Holland. I thought I was afraid of adventure in general, but I realize now that this is just not the right time for that adventure. This other adventure I welcome.

I'm excited.

We get to start looking at houses.

Went to storytime at the library this morning and it was a bust, though I suppose Frances had a good enough time. They were celebrating Sesame Street's birthday, so this woman who seemed able to only communicate in baby talk read a story staring Grover and then we watched an episode of Sesame Street. We can do that at home. We left halfway through. But Frances got a look at the other kiddos and saw something other than the inside of our house, which is always good.

Last night (Halloween!) Frances was so cute as a sheep, though she wouldn't even once say "baa" while in her costume. There was a street blocked off in the neighborhood and folks flocked down there. There were folks on stilts and tap dancers and all sorts of ghouls and then there was a fire dancer. She was seriously awesome. She had a bongo player with her who kept a tribal kind of beat, and she danced with poles lit with fire on either end, spinning them over her head and around her in the dark night. Then she danced with a ring lit in several places around. She hoola hooped with it. Swung it around her bare middle, then down her legs to her knees, then back up to her chest. She turned with it over and over, and leaned over backwards while spinning it (aflame the whole time), and spun it above her head, and jumped in and out of it. It was beautiful and so graceful and truly amazing. Frances watched for awhile, but the miracles of this world are still commonplace to her. I think all she saw was someone dancing. She danced along for a bit, bobbing up and down the way she does, then she wanted to look at the other babies and play with the dog. Her sitter C was there and Frances spent most of her time with C, wanting her more than she wants either her dad or me.

C is wonderful, and I don't know what on earth I'd do without her. She's older, retired, lives down the street, and loves babies. Frances is going to miss her terribly when we go, but that's not for awhile in her world. It doesn't bother me that Frances wants her more. I understand it. C has more energy and patience than I do, gives her more constant attention, partially because she's not trying to get the dishes done and sweep the floor while also watching Frances, but also partially because this is her way. The only way our set up with her could be better is if she were Frances' grandmother. But she's not, and Frances has wonderful grandmothers, and we will leave her one day. Those kinds of endings make me sad, and now they make me sad for Frances too. This is what they talk about when they say having kids makes your heart heavier—just more to carry.