Archive for the ‘Monkeyman’ Category

Tina Fey’s Prayer for a Daughter has hit the Internet by storm. I may not be as funny or smart or witty. However, boys deserve something, too. I don’t want to pray for Monster. I just want to give him some life rules to live by. Here are the Ten Commandments for My Son:

1) Thou shalt not be an ass. No, really. If you bully or treat others condescendingly or mock peers or adults, you want to find a cardboard box to live in for the next ten years. Being respectful to others is respecting yourself.

Corollary: Thou shalt learn appropriate use of snark. No one should ever be too nice. People who are too nice are fake. Be true to yourself without being mean to others. Yeah, I know. It seems to break The First Commandment. Life is full of conundrums. Learn to negotiate the gray areas.

2) Thou shalt listen to thyself and only thyself except when listening to thy Mother or Father. See that thing called a curfew? Yeah, that requires listening to thy Mother or Father. See that thing that says, “Drink ALL.THE.BEER and do ALL.THE.DRUGS”? That requires listening to thyself. Make your own decisions. Make them with forethought. Listen to the little voice in your head when it speaks. Mostly, it knows the right answer. Except when it doesn’t. Then listen to that other voice. Remember that the voices are ok unless they’re telling you to commit a homicide. Then seek professional help. Do not pass go. Do not collect anything.

3) Thou shalt not wear a banana hammock. Or anything vaguely resembling such body wear. Just say no. There is no gray area for this one.

4) Thou shalt be whoever thy wishes without recourse unless said recourse involves non-civil rights based law enforcement. Look, your mama’s an attorney and covering all the loopholes with wood putty. Deal with it. Be a drummer. Be a lawyer (ok, don’t be one of those…that likely breaks the First Commandment). Wear pink. Wear blue. Wear my high heels. Wear Converse Chuck Taylors. Be who you want to be when you want to be that person.

Corollary: Do not be yourself at the expense of disallowing someone else to be him/herself. That violates the First Commandment. Always remember the First Commandment.

5) Thou shalt not fear failure. Failure is the mother of all success. You cannot achieve success without understanding your limitations. Learning what makes you unhappy, whether it be academic or work or relationships, will allow you to further understand what brings you joy. Do not wallow in failure and seek it out. However, do not run from its potential.

6) Thou shalt do things thy parents should not now nor ever know about. Do things about which you know we would disapprove. Don’t tell us. Do not break the second half of the Second Commandment. You will not always agree with our ideas or our decisions or our choices. As long as you do not break the Second Commandment, explore new ideas and experiences. Make sure to stay within the boundaries of the law and keep the First Commandment in mind. Be your own person on your own terms. Just remember that while we love you, there are some things that remain in the realm of Too Much Information. If you wouldn’t tell your mother? Don’t.

7) Thou shalt not shave or wax thy chest for fashion. No. Really. I promise you’ll regret it. Yes, hair grows back. However, really. No. Just don’t.

8 ) Thou shalt paint and sing and read and run and skip and jump. Be active. Be creative. The two are not mutually exclusive. Be a baseball player who sings opera. Be a poet who runs a marathon. Think outside of society’s rules for gender or socioeconomic status or educational background.

9) Thou shalt not expect the world to support you financially for your whole life. By “the world”, I mean thy Mother and Father. Learn responsibility and learn the importance of self-sufficiency. Learn that making minimum wage at 16 makes you more likely to want to make more than minimum wage at 26. Learn that you are the sOn and not the sUn. The world does not revolve around you. Learn that being supported does not mean being carried. The advantages that thy Mother and Father try to allow you to experience are so that you can become the person you need to be. They are not provided. They are earned based on your ability to appreciate them and not take them for granted.

10) Thou shall feel loved, be loved, and give love. Freely. To whomever. Without recourse.


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Belated But Beloved

Dearest Baby Boy,

Forgive Mommy this month. Your 18 month birthday was nearly a month ago. However, you have been keeping me so busy that I have had no time to tell you about all the changes going on in your world.

You, my dear son, are a neverending cloud of movement and noise. Let’s start with this – you never stop talking. Never. Even in your sleep, you say “yewwo”. Forget the fact that your eyes are closed and there is no yellow to see. Unless you’re dreaming of yellow. Perhaps. Perhaps you dream of large yellow bubbles. Your language has blossomed in the last few months. If you see something, you want to know what to call it. Note to mommy: there are words not to teach you. For example, Epic Mommy Fail was teaching you the word “bra.” Thank you for showing the entire AT&T store your knowledge of the word by pulling down my shirt and yelling, at the top of your little lungs, “BWAAA!” so very very proudly. I’m glad for your language development. Now, we just have to work on your ability to learn the appropriate time to share it with the world.

Motion. You are a perpetual motion machine. I did not know that I could create something that could solve the world’s energy crisis. However, I seriously think that if we hooked you up to a hamster wheel, we’d be able to light the entire town into eternity. Again, even in your sleep, you move. You shift. You flail. You kthunk in your crib. You bang and toss. You have, several times, managed to wiggle your way entirely out of your sleeper through the zippered and snapped neckhole. I admit, I laughed at your distress. In fact, I documented the Houdini-act for all posterity long before rescuing you. Your displeasure was understandable. However, a mama’s got to get her laughs where she can.

I’ll admit, my sweet boy, earlier this week I couldn’t write this letter to you. We have had a difficult week. I love you, darling boy. I do. However, sometimes I forget that you are a mere 18 months old. My going back to work these last two weeks has wreaked havoc on you. I am so sorry. If it helps you, the Mommy Guilt, I haz it. I hate that you are so unsure of your world when I leave it. I hate that you miss me so much when I’m gone that you will fight sleep to the bloody death because you need me with you to sleep in the day.

Speaking of fighting sleep to the bloody death, you, my son, are the strongest willed small human I have seen in a long time. You refuse to give in. You refuse to give up. Over the last week, you have taught me that your will is, in some ways, stronger than mine. Every day this week that I have been home, you have fought sleeping in your crib for naps. You refuse to let me out of your sight. You throw out BearBear and Tigger with such vigor that they are, at times, almost impossible to find they have been flung so far. You are willing to be miserable, to not sleep, just to stay with me. I know that this strength of will, someday, will cause us conflict. I realize, on the other hand, that your stubbornness is also what motivates you to be the amazing little boy that you are. You have such a desire to fulfill your goals – whether they be learning things, being grown up, exploring, or napping with mama – that you continue in your efforts until you succeed. I know that someday this desire to accomplish your goals will serve you well (or, y’know, end you up in the state penitentiary for some kind of grand theft). I hope the former.

You now have a favorite show. I eat my own words from previous statements, but I’ve come to have an affinity for it as well. You love Yo Gabba Gabba. This is my fault. I know it is. Before afternoon nap, I would let you lie with me and watch “cartoons.” Within the last six weeks, however, you have started requesting “Babba.” Sigh. You are a Gabba addict. There should be some kind of intervention for this. Really, there needs to be a 12 Step program. However, I admit, watching you try to beatbox or watching you attempt, awkwardly, a dancey-dance entertains me beyond all reason. You have learned to make funny faces. You try, desperately, to stick your fingers to the sides of your mouth and stick your tongue out. However, so far, all you manage to do is stick your fingers in your mouth. You don’t quite get that you’re supposed to try to pull the sides of your lips up. It’s pretty hilarious.

You think wearing sunglasses is a riot. You grab them and say, “gaaaatheeesss!!” Then you giggle. Unfortunately for you, you have the tiniest little peanut head ever. Most glasses just fall off your ears and down your nose.

You, my dear boy, are a hambone. You are. You will do anything to get a laugh out of those around you. You love having your picture taken. You love making people laugh. When we’re not giving you the requisite attention? You put the orange construction cone Daddy got you at Home Depot on your head and walk around with your “silly hat” to make us laugh. You want to make the people around you happy. You hate when other kids are crying. You go to them and try to make them feel better. You like to share things with other children. In fact, as much as I love you, you’re an Aggressive Sharer. You have scared more than one child by bullying him/her into taking a toy from you. Hopefully, someday, you will learn boundaries.

You love the ladies. In fact, you love the ladies a little too much. A month ago, we were in the bookstore. You were so busy staring at a teenage girl, that you were looking to the side, instead of where you were going, and you walked SMACK! into a table. I’m sorry, Little Man, much as I felt bad about the welt on your forehead? I laughed so hard I had to crouch in the middle of the store. At the same time, sometimes you play coy. At MyGym, you won’t go up to the female teachers you like. You pretend you can’t go down the slide yourself to make them hold your hand. You run up to them, stop about a foot away, then run away. You will do this on and off, slowly getting closer, until their backs are turned. Then you run up to them and hug their legs when they’re not looking at you. Your Sneak Attack hugs are adorably cute.

You have a wonderful little group of friends. You love your best friend. In fact, you can’t really say his name, Jack, so you call him “Guy.” You know the route to Guy’s house. If we’re driving down certain streets or we go out on certain days, the first thing you say in the car is Guy and his mommy’s name. You always give him kisses goodbye. You hold hands and reach out for each other. Watching you two play is a joy. Watching you become closer has been one of the joys of being your mommy.

You love music. You have definite taste. Apparently, you can only handle so much Pearl Jam at a given time. You still love Linkin Park. You seem to have a bizarre affinity for Nirvana. You seem to hate a lot of the music that I like. You love to try to sing along with music you see. You sing to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”  You sing to The Beatles “Hey Jude.” In fact, you ask for that one, always when you’re tired, by saying “Naa naa.” I learned yesterday that you love ABBA. You enjoyed trying to sing “Money Money Money” after breakfast. My dancing and making a raging fool of myself at 7am in the morning makes you laugh uncontrollably.

Your laugh is infectious. I love your laugh. Every time you laugh, it makes the people around you laugh. I wish that I could bottle up your laughter and save it for a rainy day when you’re so old that you don’t want to laugh with mommy and daddy.

You, my dearest little man, are a force of nature unto yourself. You move through your world like a ball of lightening, a tornado, a hurricane. Destruction often follows in your wake. Oh my darling boy. I don’t even know how to express how I feel about you. Sometimes, sweet boy, you enrage and frustrate me so greatly that I want to move to a desert island and have a monkey dressed as a butler serve me fruity drinks with little umbrellas. I want to run and hide. Sometimes, you wear me out so much that naps can’t come soon enough because I can feel my eyes blurring to sleep just from watching you never stop moving. However, I love when you curl up next to me in bed during nap or when you sit on my lap and lean your head into mine just to touch me. I love watching you unconsciously love me. I love knowing that I am one of the people in the world that you want to be with most. I love they way you wake up in the morning and see me and say, “Maaaaamaaaaaaaa!” with that gleeful smile on your face. I love the way you run through the house while I’m getting dressed to come to our bedroom door and just stand there and smile because you’re so insanely happy to see me. I’ve never felt such an intense set of emotions as I do with you. I love your daddy. I love that he’s my best friend in the world. However, your love is something different, Little Man. Your love is something so innocent and wonderful. It comes not from knowing who I am as a person but from just knowing I exist. Your love is something that is occasionally so overpowering I need to step away if only because I don’t know how to handle the pure power of everything that is you. You are an amazing little person. Every day that I wake up with you in my life is a day that I know will contain magic. You, Little Man, are magical.



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Sigh. Usually, my year in summary forward thinkingness and nostalgia are posted the first day of the year. It is now, officially, day 2 of 2010. First, I have to say, 2010 is the END of the decade, not the beginning. I am solid on this. I refuse to admit otherwise. Nothing can change this in me. When I review a decade, it will be on the year starting with 1. End of story.

Over the last few months, technological manners of communication such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to update friends and family on the day to day goings on. I have pondered, at great length, self-identity and the internet. Does referring to myself in the third person remove me from my own life? Do tweets and status updates somehow make life into a miniature caricature of the truth? A few days ago, I used the Facebook collage of status updates as a year in review for myself. Horrified, I realized how much of my life revolves around another person and how little of myself I truly share with friends. Depth of self has become nothing more than an internal monologue. True, my philosophy of “amuse, inform, or entertain” for updates likely adds to the shallow quality of this collage. However, has my life truly become this vapid?

This particular year probably falls into the top five most life changing years. 2009 brought a new person into my life. A little tiny person who I did not realize it was possible to love as deeply, passionately, and selflessly as I do. However, just as much as my life has revolved around him, it has brought a greater sense of self-awareness than I ever thought possible.

Life is not about finding yourself. It is about discovering yourself. It is about finding true passion – in people, work, and hobbies. Little Man is, obviously, the greatest discovery of self I have had. I have learned that it is possible to have a different self underneath your sense of self. Lurking within me has been this human that I never thought possible. I have become someone who is willing to choose being with someone else over being alone. I have become someone who treasures each day – both its trials and its wonders – in an attempt to grab hold of the moment, hang on, and go for the ride without thinking. Many days are redundant, obviously. However, it is just this redundancy that reminds me, every night around 7:30 when Little Man hits his mattress, that another precious day of his life has slipped into memory. It is at that moment that, every day, I re-vow to live in the moment. I never realized that those times alone that seemed so precious would seem so pointless when faced with the potential for having so many of them in the future and so little moments to share with a small person growing so rapidly.

This year also brought the greatest professional fulfillment. I enjoyed the classes I taught this past year more than I have enjoyed any other classes (at least, as a whole) before. I enjoyed watching my students in the Spring wish my newborn a fond welcome and be excited to meet him. I enjoyed teaching a class of predominantly young men about nerdism. I enjoyed the raucousness of my classes this semester. I enjoyed finally being willing to let loose and be myself in a way I didn’t realize I had been holding back. I found myself giving more to my students than ever before. True, it might be unhealthy, but for the first time, I realized that when I call them, “my kids”, I truly do mean it. I reached out to students in a way I had previously condemned within myself. I found that the part of me that nurtures my son, husband, and dogs is an important part of finding fulfillment within my work. I found that within my work I find a sense of self. It is this sense of self that allows me to be a better educator, to give to my students more than just information, but knowledge. It allows me to dig into the material to create a place where open discussion of ideas can, potentially, make a difference. For this realization, I am grateful.

In the course of making sure that a certain little someone has benefits that I did not have, I have stepped outside of myself. I have become that which I previously mocked, at least in some respects I have. I am, at times, the definition of a “soccer mom.” However, through the course of providing social surroundings for my son, I have stepped out of my normal introverted self and created new friendships. These new friends (and if you read this you’ll know who you are, I hope!) have touched my life in ways I did not believe possible. Only a few short months ago, I did not know some of these people. Only perhaps, one or two or three. However, these new friends have helped me adjust to my new sense of self. These new friends are thoughtful, generous, wonderful, and caring. For these friends, I find myself grateful. I am grateful that they have helped me to discover this other side of myself – the me that wants to be with others and forge new friendships. This me that is willing to step outside of my normal boundaries and discover ways to be a friend that are new, different, and wonderful.

Fulfillment of self, however, came in various other places as well. Knitting and spinning have become, as never before, an outlet for expressing who I am. Finding inspiration in surroundings is obvious. After all, isn’t that what most people do? They look to their life and then use life to create? However, for the first time, I think I understand how something from within can become something from without. Finishing the first handspun was an accomplishment. After finishing it, the yarn was set aside waiting for the right pattern. However, no such pattern emerged. Thinking of the yarn itself, I began to think up a pattern. This pattern gestated for a while in my mind. Sitting down one night, I had to begin the creation. True, it did not work correctly the first few rows. In fact, since i have figured out what I wanted to do with it and made it work, I have thought of ripping it out and starting over. However, knitting is an expression, sometimes, of learning. This pattern is me. It is the visual, textile expression of my journey in the last year. It is all mine – start to finish. When it ends, I will have a tactile representation of my journey of self. For this, I am grateful.

2009 has gone. It is over. Tears, for the first time ever, were cried for seeing the end of a year that has brought such wonder to my life. 2010 looks to be an amazing year. However, 2009 will always hold a special place in my heart as a year in which I discovered my inner self. The self that I have been looking for my whole life. This is the end of the year as I knew it, and, y’know what? I feel fine.

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‘Tis a gift to be simple. It is. For the last ten years, vacations have been less a vacation and more of an adventure. Trips to Ireland, Europe, various states in the US, and Canada were exotic and activity filled. Sights were seen. Alcohol was drunk. The joy came not just from spending time together but from seeing new and exiting things. Experiences relied less upon people than upon place. This is not to say, of course, that going with someone other than Mr. Adventure would have been as fun. This is to say that our idea of a getaway was to go away and do new and exciting things.

This year, however, I sit here:

I’m in the right chair, typing. Mr. A is in the left chair reading. The sun has slowly descended below the horizon. The birds caw, the crickets chirp. The evening is one of solitude and a chorus of nature. And, incidentally, I am not a nature girl. I’m a city girl. In fact? Too many trees in one place kind of freak me out a bit. Don’t ask. Really. You don’t want to know. I fear the big tree versus people coup bound to happen someday. Go ahead and laugh. You’ll be sorry one day. Yup.

Instead of views of lights and streets, instead of meeting new people, I’m sitting here staring at this:

And, what might just be my dream vacation house someday

Life has changed. Sitting here, I’m drinking a glass of wine from a plastic cup. I am reminded of where I have been and where I am going. The plastic cup is the typical kegger cup from college. The wine? A $40 bottle of chardonnay. I am no longer drinking something cheap. However, I am drinking unpretentiously. I am no longer a child drinking in life as fast as possible to get drunk on it. I am an adult sipping from life and sipping from, yeah, a red plastic cup. Sipping slowly to savor the flavor of the wine and the life I’m living.  Life today is different from life last year or a life imagined.

This vacation is one filled with wonderment. Not my own wonderment, but that of my son. Everything is new to him. He dips his toes in the water.  He giggles. He figures out that he can thrust his feet into the water causing a splash and ploink sound. He laughs.

He watches metal tongs open and close and his full bellied laugh is that of his father. Whole. Hearty. Joyful. There is so much to see and do. He wants to take it all in. He won’t, of course, sleep. If he slept, well, the whole world might stop turning. Or, conversely, the whole world might explode into a a bright shining ball of circus fun that he would miss out on. Sleep, apparently, is for those suckers who long to remain in darkness.

Instead of filling the day with places to see, we are filling it with people to see. We watch our son – discovering with joy the world around him. We watch each other. We smile small private smiles of contentment and love at one another, when we think the other person doesn’t see. Watching each other parent and enjoy being a parent is a thrill in itself.

Activity abounds. Mr. Monkeyman has to keep moving, keep walking, keep talking.

A few years ago, Mr. A and I went to Ireland. In looking at the castles and in visiting Newgrange, we stared in awe at what people hundreds and thousands of years before us could create. In looking at our son, we stare in awe at what we created. This tiny life – with all of its moods and quirks – is both a part of each of us and its own little tiny self. We created this, but we did not build it. He builds himself day by day.

Parenting is difficult. In a good marriage, where the two people want to be the same type of parent and want to impart the same types of lessons, it can be an amazing thing. It can bring two people closer together in ways not previously understood. In a bad marriage, or in a marriage where the two people want different things for their child, it can bring out the worst in the relationship. Watching Mr. A with Mr. Monkeyman reinforces the bond we had before. Mr. Monkeyman helps to build us. He is an architect of life, of strength, and of the the psyche – particularly in his adamant refusal to sleep or do something quiet. He strengthens physically and mentally. It’s like the combination of Godzilla, Sudoko, and an abacus.

This vacation is not about doing. This vacation is not about visiting. This vacation is about the simple things in life. Trying to calm a screaming, overtired beastie. Trying to find things that make a baby smile. Waiting for those moments when the child looks at you with that full and complete love and adoration. Those are the simple things in life. Indeed, ’tis a gift to be simple. ‘Tis the greatest gift of all.

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My dearest, loving, baby boy,

A few days ago, I sang to you what I could remember of the Lennon song “Beautiful Boy.” You smiled. You giggled. My singing did not, for once, scare you. I know, it’s comically bad. Someday? You will mock me the way I mocked my own mother. Payback, is indeed, a … well, that’s not for your ears or eyes.

Today, my son, my beautiful, amazing, glorious, wonderful son, you are twelve weeks old. In five days, you will be one fiscal quarter of age. Every moment of my day is filled with you. You are the air I breathe. You are the light that guides my days. You are the rain on my parade when you scream, nonstop, for no real reason. A few weeks ago, during one of these fits, I turned to you and said, “Don’t be such a baby!” Then I realized, umm, you are a baby. It is so difficult for me to remember sometimes how young you are. I feel as though in some ways my life started with you and that I have been around only as long as you.

You can hold up your head on your own.

Unless you’re half asleep, in the middle of the night, falling asleep on your bottle. Then? I forget that you don’t want to or can’t hold your head up. When I go to burp you, your head flops forward. You have nailed your head on my wrist more times than I can count. Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. For me? It’s sleep deprivation.

You were sleeping beautifully, up until this week. Then? You started waking up every five hours or less. Mommy will always, no matter what, love you. However, she likes you an awful lot more when you sleep more. I promise, I will always come to you when you need me. If you could choose to need me after I’ve gotten more sleep? I’ll come faster because I’ll be able to wake up better. I cross my heart and kiss my elbow.

You have rolled over, but it seems you only do it when you want to do it. You lie on your back and talk to the toys that hang from the arches over your mat. You get angry with Mr. Pineapple when he doesn’t talk back to you.

Someday you will understand that, well, he’s actually an inanimate object. At least, I hope someday you realize that. You love being in the big swing and having me kiss your toes when you swing close to me. You also seem to enjoy kicking me in the face and punching me in the nose. I hope that these trends do not continue.

You giggle and smile in response to me now. If you’re starting to get into a fit, there are times when I can work you out of it simply by smiling at you. You have also decided that you want to take your bottles in repose position in your carseat swing. While I understand that both of these are potentially sweet? They are also making me wonder if my face will freeze in the ghoulish over-exagerated smile while I slowly become a hunchback from leaning over your swing. However, I know that the more you eat, the stronger and bigger you will be someday. My physical beauty, or lackthereof, is decidedly less important. Until I scare your friends when you’re a toddler. Then you’ll be sorry when they won’t come to your house to play. Think about that carefully before continuing in this vein.

You recognize me now. You track me when you hear my voice. You follow my every move. Today, when you were on your play mat and I took a moment to sit in my chair next to it, you arched your back and leaned on your head to look behind you to find me. It was super cute, minus my fear that you would break your neck. Still, it was super cute. However, you need to learn that your daddy loves you. He loves to hold you and kiss you. He loves to tickle you and play with you. Also? He loves to feed you. You need to trust your daddy to take care of you. He can feed you just fine. At night when he gives you your bottle? Please drink it. You make him feel bad when you don’t seem to trust him. Also, you make me more tired. I’m a lot more fun of a mommy when I’m not so tired I think about sitting on the tub floor to take my shower because standing up seems like too much of an effort. Believe me, I’m a WAY nice person, when you let daddy take some time with you and let me relax for ten minutes. I’m not even asking for hours. Just minutes. Really.

Your daddy is the very best daddy. Watching him with you makes me fall in love with him all over again. Some day, you will play catch with him and not want me around. Someday, I will be unnecessary to your happiness. I fear that day because it will break my heart. I also look forward to that day because I know that you will love your daddy and want to be just like him. I know that you will grow up to be an amazing man like him, the kind of man that any woman would be proud to call her son. You will be loving and generous and kind and thoughtful. You will grow up to be the best of your daddy and I. I can’t wait to see that day, yet I despair that day because it means you will not need me or want me anymore.  I hope that you will always be confident to tell both of us that you love us. I hope that we will be able to instill in you a lack of fear of your emotions. I hope that someday you will call to say hello and, when you say good-bye, sign off with, “I love you mom.”

You love your puppies. You smile at them and look for them.

You let them kiss you and walk around you when you’re playing on the floor.

They love you, too. They don’t mind when you touch them. Max doesn’t mind when you kick him or punch him in the face. Then again, since he doesn’t seem to understand that those actions are a sign of displeasure? He probably deserves what he gets. You giggle when you touch them. You jump when you hear a certain bark. You know the difference between the “bark at nothing” bark and the “bark because daddy is home” bark. You ignore the first one but wake up for the second. You are a smart baby.

You are growing into a little man. You are not the little human blob anymore. You are rapidly gaining a personality. You are independent. You love making the lights work on your bouncy chair but get mad when it goes continuously and isn’t of your own doing. You love trying to “walk” across the house but hate when you have to sit still. You love making the toys on your mat jingle and move but hate when you can’t figure out how to do it or when you’re just to small to make something work. You tell us what you want by screaming your face off when you don’t like something, and you tell us what you like by giggling with your daddy’s full bellied joyous laugh.

You discovered Elmo this week, thanks to teh internetz. You loved Elmo’s Song. You watched it and giggled. You danced on my lap. You calmed down during “cranky time”, that hour before bed when you’re tired and getting hungry but we’re not quite ready for you to sleep. Let’s face it, if you sleep at 6:30pm? You’re going to be up at 4am. Really? That’s the middle of the night. Mommy loves you, but there are some things that are always unacceptable. Waking up at 4am falls into the “always unacceptable” category. Sorry kiddo. I also figured out that you love Elmo because Elmo sounds like mommy. While that is super cute, I can’t lie – it’s also super depressing. Mommy is not a muppet. Although, I could probably make a fortune dressing up in a hollowed out giant stuffed Elmo (yes, I’m that tiny…sort of) at kids’ parties. I’m glad you love me. Try not to love Elmo because he reminds you of me. That is kind of depressing.

I love you little man. I love you with every breath in my body. Mothering you is a contradiction. I want to be the very best mommy, but I do not want to only be a mommy. I look forward to your waking up in the morning, but I look forward to when you go to bed at night. I look forward to when you go to bed at night, but, an hour later, I find myself blogging about you and looking at your videos and your photos and waiting for the morning when I get to see your little gummy smile again. I look forward to date nights, alone, with your daddy, but I end up talking mostly about you. I want to sleep through the night, but I also love seeing you in the middle of the night to feed you and have you snuggle me. I want you to be an independent little man, but I want to hold you tight and never let you go. I want you to sleep in your crib and self-soothe, but I want to take “snuggle naps” together on the couch because I love feeling the weight of you on top of me and your warmth against my body.

You, my beautiful boy, are everything that makes my life complete. I cannot imagine my life without you. I cannot imagine that I feared your coming. I cannot imagine, beautiful boy, the person I was before you. You, my beautiful boy, are the alpha and the omega of my life, and yes, someday I will tell you what those words mean. You, my beautiful boy, are the best parts of your daddy and mommy. You, my beautiful boy, are the most amazing person I know (ok, along with your daddy). You, my beautiful boy, are my special love, myself, my best me. You, my beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy make me the very best me that I can be.  I will never be able to thank you enough for that.

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Passage of a New LAW

On Friday, February 20th, 2009, at 4:49pm, a new LAW was entered into the books. This LAW received only local recognition, with no ties to any political party. However, it is the most important, most controlling law of my life – my son. (Yes, his initials accidentally ended up being “law” and yes, we are attorneys, and yes, we realize the irony…)

My doubts melted away in a manner of instants. Wholly unprepared for this, I entered a small room with a bed, table, rocking chair, recliner chair, and many medical gizmos. I cried, screamed, and desperately begged for an epidural. I focused on ejecting this little alien from my body. Brief moments afterward, I found myself launched into a whole new world. Emotions I didn’t think could exist flowed through me. Meanwhile, I still couldn’t feel my feet. God bless drugs.

I find myself treading emotional water. The first night in the hospital, I had me some grand plans. I intended to have the baby taken to the nursery, and from there, I would sleep one of the last good sleeps for a while. We called family; they came, visited, cooed. Exhausted, I requested that he be taken to the nursery. Adrenaline flowing through me, I sat awake. I emailed from my phone. I contacted students to tell them that class would be going online for the coming weeks. I contacted people and responded to congratulations. I prepared for what I hoped would be a restful night after the physical and mental exertion of the day. I found myself wondering about my son. I waddled to the nursery, gazed through the window like a visitor, and waddled back to my room. I tried to sleep. I tossed. Turned. Emailed some more. Checked my Facebook. Finally, I dozed for a few hours. However, I couldn’t stay asleep. Around 5am, I finally called to have my son brought back to me. Confused, I realized that the reason I could not sleep lay in the fact that he was away from me.

Wholly unprepared, I tell you. I looked at him, afraid to pick him up. I watched him. I actually thought of asking the nurse if it was ok if I fed him when he looked hungry. Then I realized that they would just laugh at me. I fed my son for the first time. I put him in the bed with me and held him. Wholly unprepared.

Visitors came. Visitors went. I found myself keyed up. Paying attention to every movement of my son. Looking at him for any signs of discomfort. Astounded that this little person belonged to me. I wanted to touch him, hold him, hug him, kiss him. I couldn’t get enough of him. He was like a drug. Powerful. Controlling. Gut wrenching. Mind numbing. Wholly unprepared, I tell you.

Again, I had the nurse take him away. I accepted the proferred sleeping pill to help me fall asleep. That night I managed six hours before waking and calling to have him brought back to me. I took him out of the bassinet. I held him. Stared at him. Wondered at him. Suddenly, I found my mind wandering. Thirty years from now, he will be the one who is a father. I will be in the position of my mother and mother-in-law, watching as the next generation is born. I looked at him and realized that this emotion was love. Not romantic love. Not platonic love. This love is…weird. It is powerful yet almost insidious. I looked down at my son. I began to feel this obsession about him. Not the unhealthy, boil a bunny type of obsession. The type where you find yourself wholly focused on the object in front of you, fascinated yet frightened, amazed yet giddy, awed yet proud. I realized, staring at my son, less than thirty-six hours old, that he will break my heart. This pain is inevitable. He will outgrow me.  This intensity will never fade on my part. I realize this. I also realize that some day he will not need me, will not require me for things. This is and will be my goal as a parent. That does not make the reality less frightening in its own right.

Wholly unprepared, I look at myself. My vision of the mother I thought I would be and the mother that I find myself to be are not the same. This intensity is so great that I find that I am unsure as to who or what I am in some ways. I viewed myself as a certain type of mother. The cool mom. The kind of mom who, while obviously devoted to her child, also recognized her own independence. I find that while still myself, I am a newer version. A 2.0, if you will. I now fear that I will be too intense in my feelings for my child. I fear that instead of being independent, I will smother. I fear that in trying not to smother, I will be distant. These were never concerns I had. These were never thoughts that crossed my mind in all of the things I worried about prior to giving birth. Wholly unprepared, I tell you.

Thus, with this new rite of passage, I find myself surrounded, smothered, and liberated by emotions I did not know existed. I find myself conforming to this new LAW and thrilled to be ruled by him. I find myself happier, and more frightened, than I have ever been in my life. However, I look forward to following the rules of this LAW and am proud to say that I passed this new LAW into the world.

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Doubtfully Doubting

For the most part, this blog has remained a pregnancy-free zone. Why? For a lot of reasons. First of all, pregnancy is fairly boring. The nearest analogy I can make is that it’s like having a combined case of mono and the flu for nine months, with a twist of Sigourney Weaver in Alien thrown in. Second, and potentially more importantly, some people have a hard time reading about pregnancy if they are trying to conceive and it isn’t going well or if they have had problems in pregnancy. Since I hate to sneak attack on people, I didn’t want someone to have a bad experience coming here. Third, it mostly makes me cranky or whiny, neither of which make for fantastically readable posts. Some women revel in pregnancy. I am not one of those women. If you’re looking for a super glowing account of how intensely wonderful an experience being pregnant is, how it makes you feel connected to the universe, and how it was the best 9 months of your life? This probably ain’t the post for you.

Overall, pregnancy, for me, has been more like law school and taking the bar exam. The prize is being a mom. In order to get to the end result, I’ve endured the trials and tribulations in the in-between times. Pregnancy is the necessary evil preceding my (hopefully!) joys of motherhood.  However, this blog is partly my own diary for myself, so I feel the need to indulge a little bit. If you choose not to read this post, it isn’t going to hurt my feelings or make me feel bad. It’s more my final reflections as the end of days draws nearer.

First and second trimester were, to put it mildly, interesting. The first trimester is mostly what people say it is. You feel tired. You feel overwhelmed that something is growing inside of you. Half the time, you spend daydreaming about the baby to come. The other half of the time, you start thinking to yourself, “Ohmygod, what was I thinking!?!?” Labor and the sleepless nights preoccupy your mind on and off. For the most part, the first trimester is a time of anxious waiting. Any time during the first trimester all sorts of horrific things can occur. Every day, you wonder, “is this the day something is going to go wrong?” You go to the bathroom and wonder if you’re going to see the tell-tale signs of a miscarriage. You feel every cramp that comes with the stretching of everything inside of you and wonder if this is really going to “stick” or if something is going wrong. You question everything you eat and drink. It’s amazing what you find out kills babies. It’s even more amazing that mothers have had babies for years and years while eating blue cheese, drinking caffeine, and sucking down on sushi. You probably start to gain weight, just enough to not fit into your pants, but certainly not enough to begin to look pregnant to anyone but yourself. You wait impatiently for those monthly appointments so that you can hear the heartbeat, feeling nervous and barely able to sleep the night before. You don’t always hear the heartbeat at the first one and need an ultrasound. Those few minutes in between being told the little lima bean shaped cells are hiding and seeing them pulsate on the screen are some of the most frightening minutes I’ve ever experienced. It’s at this point, I realized that I was attached to these little dividing cells that looked more like a legume than a person.

The second trimester is a lot better. You’re not nearly as tired. You feel almost normal. If you’re in tune with your body, which I’m not, you’ll realize that those little bubbles you’re feeling aren’t gas but the baby moving. The day you hit that magical 13th week where the risk of miscarriage decreases exponentially, you breathe a short sigh of relief. Of course, this is only for a brief moment in time. You still have a lot of tests over the next three months that will make you want to vomit anxiouslywhen you think about them. There’s genetic testing, the big ultrasound, the glucose testing. With each test that passes, you feel comfortable for a few moments. Then the next one brings waves of anxiety again. You might find out the sex of the baby, as we did. I’m not sure that I’ll ever forget lying on that table for an hour, having to go to the bathroom like crazy, with the little guy swimming in there like a salmon trying to go home. I’ll also never forget the moment the technician told us we were having a boy. I fist-pumped the air so hard, I nearly fell off the exam table. Yes, I wanted a boy. I won’t lie to you. I’d have been thrilled with a girl. However, teenage girls scare me to death. I’d have spent the next thirteen years waiting for the other shoe to drop and waiting for her to scream at the top of her lungs, “I HATE YOU!”  I can’t lie. Not having to explain your daughter’s first period? Kind of one of the wonders of having a boy to me.

However, in the third trimester, you’re approaching the finish line. You can see that plate of blue cheese or that beer or whatever you’ve been craving that you shouldn’t have while pregnant. You can almost taste it. You can see your body becoming your own again. Simultaneously, your body becomes less your own. Some women liken the feeling to being a beached whale. Personally? I feel more like a broken weeble – I weeble and I wobble, but I often can’t get up. Some people say you look huge, others say you don’t look pregnant still. You feel like you stuff a basketball up your shirt. The skin hurts. Your hips hurt. Your groin hurts. You start to notice that your stomach appears to have the ability to actually click the mouse clicker on your laptop and you find yourself accidentally flipping between screens on the computer. Stretch marks start to appear. Your shirt magically becomes wet sometimes. If you’re like me, it might kind of gross you out. I’m not good with bodily fluids. Like I said earlier, if you’re looking for a glowing report on the amazing joys of pregnancy? This isn’t the post for you.

This is the point at which all of those “Oh sh!t” moments from the first trimester come roaring back. This time, however, the thoughts are not just these vague abstractions. You’re feeling real kicks. You’re knowing that there’s definitely something in there. You can’t just explain it away as gas. Sometimes, it feels like someone wedged a tennis ball between your ribs. Sometimes it feels like some one is punching your spleen or liver or kidney as though it were a punching bag. Sometimes, it’s just a tiny hello tickle. You might find yourself talking to the baby, at times. You start to realize that in a few weeks’ time, this won’t be cute anymore. It’ll just be creepy because you’ll be talking to yourself.

Then come the doubts. If you’re prone to self-doubt, this might be a huge time of self-reflection. For me, the doubts come at the quietest, contentest moments. Sitting on the couch with the husband or dogs, I find myself thinking, “Ohmigod. Life is never going to be like this again. What was I thnking. I really like my life. I like having money to spend on the things I want when I want them. I like being quiet at night. I like sleeping in on a Saturday or Sunday. I like taking afternoon naps. What was I thinking?!?!” Other times, I find myself wondering, “Can I do this? I’m not a nice person when I’m sleep deprived. I yell, scream, have tantrums. How am I going to be able to deal with a small, crying, needy person? I can’t even pay attention to my dogs for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a stretch. How am I going to be able to handle having a tiny person who needs me constantly? How am I not going to lose my mind? My patience? My sense of self?” The doubts don’t roll through slowly or silently. They roar through like an oncoming train, and I’m tied to the train tracks, similar to those old silent films. However, who can come to save you from your own mind?

You have moments, too, when there’s a calm. When life is like a snow day, the silence falls over your mind and you imagine the baby in your arms. You start to see what your emerging family might look like. You realize that those feelings of your life being incomplete in some indefineable way are about to melt away. You can sense that there’s something more, that something is coming. This isn’t like waiting for a hurricane. It’s almost like waiting for Santa when you were a kid. You’re excited. You can’t sleep. You can daydream, but you aren’t entirely sure what you’re getting.  Other people have done this; you can, too. Other families seem content; you will be, too. Maybe, just maybe, all of those things that you thought were so important for so long really weren’t that important. You start getting the room ready. Maybe you paint (we didn’t). You put up pictures. You put together a crib. You move furniture. You start to wash (or think about washing) the tiny clothes that you pull out of bags. You take out bottles. You fold tiny hats, tiny shoes, tiny everything. You can imagine, to an extent, what is coming. You look around and realize that the room is not a spare room anymore. It’s increasingly ready for a small person to live there. The room may be ready, but are you? It’s not a false sense of security into which you fall. It’s a sense of calm. The moments where everything in life seems to move in slow motion. You look back on the past months. You look back on the past years. You look back on your life.

You may be doubting yourself. However, at the same time, you begin to doubt your own doubts about yourself. The third trimester is confusing because the unknown becomes more unknowable while also more real. The upside is that it’s final countdown to wearing real pants that have a waistband, button, and zipper again.

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