Thursday, May 31, 2007

From the Blog Formerly Known as Feast or Famine

I think I may need to change the title of the blog. See, I've had a crappy few weeks. So much has gone wrong.

First a tire blow out on the Beltline and the subsequent $200 spent on new tires (on Mother's Day weekend); then a second tire blow out a week later at Owen's t-ball game: A bolt in the chain link fence that I was too close to ripped one of my back tires open, which caused a ka-blam that made everyone on Fields 1, 2, and 3 look over to witness my van limping back into the parking lot. I was going on a Starbucks run, Starbucks after all. The subsequent $100 on new tires. Also the microwave died. Then last Wednesday while paying bills, I accidentally scheduled all our automatic payments for the day BEFORE John's paycheck was direct deposited. Boing boing boing... (Wachovia was a little bit understanding, though. We had 2 overdrafts; they refunded one.) Add to that Paige's belief that 1-4 AM is the best time to party down and Mitch's belief that the word "poopy" enhances any conversation--wait, I mean any sentence.

Yup, it's felt like a famine around here. I don't usually have such a dichotomous view of life, however, so I'm thinking the title may be a bit cynical. I'll have to think up a new one when I'm up with Paige at 2 in the morning. That's some prime thinkin' time...

Only One Friend (From my LJ Days)

As you know, I started this blog a few days ago, and thus far, Emily of the mommy board has been my only LiveJournal friend, a fact about which LiveJournal has felt it necessary to remind me every time I post an entry. The first time I view a newly posted entry, a little box pops up, telling me, "You've only made 1 friend."

First of all, the modifier is misplaced. It should read, "You've made only 1 friend." So there's that. But also, it's insulting. Why include the word "only" if it's just a record of how many friends you've added? "You've made 1 friend" is sufficient and succinct. I need only the facts, please, no editorializing. Because the subtext is, "You loser. Just who are you blogging for? Yourself? Get a notebook, fool" and also the subtext is, "Invite more friends--increase our membership!" So they're trying to embarrass me into padding their membership numbers...nice.

All this to say, it worked. I invited more friends, even though I feel a little embarrassed about it, as if I'm suggesting that my life and my writing are so very compelling--come and see! So to those of you I recently invited, the truth is, I don't think I'm super exciting and interesting, nor do I expect you to think so. I just want my profile page to say "Holy crap, you've made 8 friends!"

5 is the New 18

Who knew 5 was such a big year?

This year has been full of milestones for Owen, and they all add up to the same reality: he's officially becoming a kid. And he's taking me with him into kid land. I'm not sure I can explain what I mean, but this year, I have become aware of the world of the kid, which is much more complicated--for child and parent--than the world of the preschooler.

The world of kid includes, but is not limited to, the following: stronger friendships, deeper conflicts with friends, more complex feelings about self and how the self relates to the rest of the world, wiping one's own bottom every time, team sports, going to school, an increasing vulnerability to the influence of the outside world, more intense mothers and fathers, better insults (usually reserved for younger brothers or mothers), eye rolling, and the first whiffs of peer pressure.

Apparently, the threshold to kid world appears the year a child turns 5. The changes I see in Owen over the past few months are, for me, some of the most painful yet because I can see him growing away from us. Yes, yes he's only 5, but even this glimpse of his growing away gives me a sense of the emotions I will face when he's 10, 13, 18, getting married, beginning his tenure-track position as a professor of literature...

At the same time, I ache with pride and happiness as I watch him move forward. The most recent age 5 milestones were preschool graduation (no one warned me about preschool graduation. I went in cavalierly, with no tissues) and tonight--the last game of Owen's first season of t-ball and his first trophy.

I cannot describe the joy in Owen's face as he held that trophy. His whole body smiled, his eyes brimmed with pride and pleasure; then he looked over at us, saw pride and pleasure there, too, and amazingly, his face, already as brights as I've ever seen it, brightened further.

I know he has to grow up and away, but my hope is that he will always look back. Look back to see if we're watching. Look back to see if we're proud.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Baby Genius

Paige hasn't been sleeping well this week. Last night she was up from about 1 until 3:30 or so. John and I were both up with her, trying various things to make her happy, but nothing was really working. Finally, John got a teething ring from the fridge and gave it to her--instant happiness. She actually looked grateful that we'd finally figured it out (duh, she's only our third child).

After she'd gnawed on the thing for 10 minutes or so and seemed sufficiently numb and satisfied with the size of the drool puddle she'd left on my side of the bed, I pulled her over to me to nurse her a little bit and get her settled in. She nuzzled against me, kind of cooing and babbling, and in the midst of her baby talk, I swear to goodness, it sounded just like she said "Goodnight, Daddy." I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but John answered, "Goodnight Paige," so he'd heard it too.

I know, I know...she didn't really say it, but we'll pretend she's a genius anyway.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Habits of the 7 Month Old

Ten Irritating Habits of the 7 Month Old

  1. Blowing pureed pears into the face of her mother
  2. Squeezing and twisting noses
  3. While being changed, placing a cleanly socked foot into a freshly soiled diaper
  4. Spitting out the pacifier and screaming for the replacement of the pacifier 6,324 times a night
  5. Pulling off sun hats and tossing them in the pool
  6. Grabbing, yanking, and dislodging fistfuls of hair
  7. Rolling across the floor to find and attempt to eat the one dangerously tiny object that her mother missed when clearing the floor of dangerously tiny objects
  8. Lunging for anything that crosses her line of vision, especially when being held
  9. Diving face first into ice cream cones that her father carelessly holds within face's reach
  10. Arching her back at the indignity of being placed in the carseat or highchair.
Ten Endearing Habits of the 7 Month Old
  1. The nursing purr
  2. Rocking and bouncing when someone sings "You Make me Feel Like Dancing"
  3. Banging gleefully on her xylophone
  4. Belly laughing
  5. Giving strangers a tiny grin, then bashfully burying her face in her mother's shoulder
  6. Flailing arms and legs with joy when daddy comes into the room
  7. Raspberries
  8. The nursing look: grateful, peaceful, trusting eyes
  9. Stroking and holding her brothers' faces
  10. Learning to lean out and reach for mommy from someone else's arms

Fear Itself

I've been thinking a lot about Owen. So much is happening around him lately, and he seems to be growing, mentally and physically, faster than is comfortable for me.

The first thing is his anxiety, his fear of fear...and that's exactly what it is. He cannot stand sudden noises and falls apart completely--completely--when he knows he might encounter one. But it's not the noise that undoes him; it's his anticipation of the noise. Once the noise happens, he calms down, even as he's hearing it, because he doesn't have to wait and wonder when it's coming anymore.

The best example is the coffee maker, which is currently the sorest subject in our house. Every morning he hops on my bed to wake me up. First he tells me the time (usually 7:30 or something close), then he says, "Mommy, please don't make coffee. Please." Our coffee maker beeps when the coffee is ready and then again 2 hours later, just before it shuts itself off. Owen cannot tolerate the suspense of not knowing exactly when this beep is coming, and his fear seems to be escalating. This morning, in a gesture not unlike an environmentalist trying to save a tree by perching in its branches, Owen woke me up, then ran into the kitchen and camped out in front of the coffee maker, trying to make it impossible for me to reach around him to make the coffee. When I tried to pull Mr. Coffee toward me, he shoved Mr. Coffee back against the wall. When I pushed the little button to set the brew to "strong," he pushed it to turn it off. Finally, I had to carry him back into his room and tuck him back into bed. "I'll come get you after it beeps," I told him. He told me to turn on the fan. The fan drowns out all outside noise.

You might wonder why I choose to torture my child by subjecting him to the horror of the unpredictable Mr. Coffee beep every morning rather than getting a different coffee maker or giving up coffee all together, and I'll tell you why. Because if I shaped my life around Owen's anxiety, I also would not be able to do laundry (our dryer beeps when it's finished), receive phone calls (he will not allow he phone within 20 feet of him), listen to CD's in the car (as it is I have to turn the radio all the way down before I start the car, then turn it up gradually, oh so gradually, until we can hear it), bake anything in the oven that requires timing, watch Family Feud, and so on. And trust me, the list goes on. And on.

So we've called a child psychologist, a remedy that I would not default to, but after realizing that fear is limiting Owen's joy, we decided we needed help to get him past it. I was finally convinced that we needed help the day Owen told me he didn't want to go to a good friend's house anymore because they have a mantel clock that chimes the quarter hours. And there's nothing that boy loves more than a play date.

He starts Kindergarten in July, and I can imagine the conversation we'll have after his first day:

Owen: "Mommy, they have a bell."
Me (trying to be nonchalant): "They do?"
Owen: Yeah. It rings when it's lunch time and when it's time to go home.
Me: Oh. Neat.
Owen: I'm not going back to that new school. I want to stay here and do fun things with you.
Me: Well, you have to go to school, sweetie...

Then the heartbreaking fit will commence. Heartbreaking because I can see that he's really truly scared, and as ridiculous as it seems to me, this fear is so not ridiculous to him, and there's nothing I can do to make him feel better. Thus, the call I have in to the child psychologist. I'm still waiting for her to call back.

The whole starting Kindergarten issue is, I see now, another post. But really both issues come down to the same realization: he now has--and will continue to have--problems that are bigger than me. For the first time, something is wrong that I alone cannot fix. And thinking of him starting school, stepping further away from us and deeper into the influence of the outside world, has made me realize that his life will only become more and more complex. And I won't always be able to pull him out of the chaos.

Jumping In

My friend Emily from my mom's board inspired me to join Live Journal even though I've never known quite how I'd feel about blogging.

I've had to think a little bit about the genre. I feel nervous about inviting people to read a blog because I can't quite get past the idea that a journal is something to hide in a drawer. For that reason, there's something brave (for me) about having a blog. I wouldn't want anyone to read any journal I've kept in the past, and I'm not exactly undiscriminating about sharing my writing in general. But I also miss writing lately, and since I'm on the computer too much anyway, I thought maybe creating a daily (or so) writing space here would inspire me.

Or...the site might sit here taking up cyberspace.

I'd like to think a blog will absorb some of my daily frustration and mommy angst. And keep a better record of how Paige is growing, since I keep telling myself "write this down" when she hits a milestone or does something adorable. But I haven't written anything much down about her. Poor neglected third baby. The irony is, her first months have been almost as profound to me as my very first months of mommyhood. Something about having a daughter, I think.

I suppose I'll find out soon enough.