Mad Skills

This morning, I parallel parked for the third time in my life. The other two times were just weeks ago. Granted, the spots were all GINORMOUS, but I freaking did it, people.

You may be asking yourself how one can live 30 entire years without ever having to parallel park, especially having lived the last 2 ½ years in a major urban area.

The answer? Well, growing up I lived in the opposite of an urban area, and it was just not necessary. In fact, when I took my driver’s test, I couldn’t do it, and the guy passed me anyway. And now that we live in San Francisco? Creative avoidance. Double parking. Driving around for an hour looking for a spot. Taking a cab to neighborhoods where I might have to parallel park. Making someone else drive.

But, there was this one day where it was certifiably unavoidable, and I found a nice big spot, and it was a quiet street, so I didn’t have an audience (this really is my biggest hang up about the whole thing), so I did it. I kept pulling out and trying again until I got it (mostly) right.

When you’re an urban dweller, parallel parking is no longer a “nice to know”, it’s a completely essential skill for survival. So, I may just make it after all.

For Other Mamas of Blondies

Once my son’s white-blonde hair sprouted, I have heard from countless people the expression “towhead”. I had never heard it before, and for some reason I wanted to take offense to it, so I did a bit of research on it.

I thought at first that it was spelled “toehead”, as in his head is so white it looks like a toe. That is completely wrong. Thank God.

It is “towhead” as in, a head of “tow”, which is “An untwisted bundle of fibers such as cellulose acetate, flax, hemp or jute.”

So there you go. It looks like their hair is made of hay. That’s all.

18 Months

I never got into the writing a letter to my kid every month thing, but for some reason, 18 months seems like one of those really important milestone ages and I just had some musings on it, so here we go.

You are 18 months now, kiddo. I cannot believe it has been a full year and a half since you were born, because I can remember even the most minute detail about your birth as if it happened just yesterday. But now you’re walking, running, talking, playing with toys in their intended fashion, you’re growing up! And everyone says that before I know it, we’ll be celebrating 18 years. I think I believe them.

Right now, your favorite words are “doggie” and “daddy”, but since you seem to enjoy hugging me more than hugging doggie or daddy, I don’t take insult at the fact that you haven’t gotten the word “mommy” down quite yet.

You’ve mastered the art of the tantrum, and some days I want to pull all my hair out and throw the couch through the window, but I remind myself that it’s a phase. At least I flipping hope so! And you’re teaching me to be a more patient and understanding person. So there’s that.

Every day with you is a complete joy, tantrums, poopy diapers and all. As I watch you grow and change, it becomes harder and harder to believe that you are something that I made inside of me (well, with a little help from nature). I used to think I’d want you to be a baby forever, but now I find myself eager to see what comes next.

Love you kiddo.

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Curveballs

My conundrum begins here:

Last summer, my best San Francisco friend N tells me she’s having her second baby, her daughter is about 6 weeks older than Bowie. She’s the first in our group of parent pals to have her second. I’m like, congrats and…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT. Of course, I didn’t say that last part out loud.

Then, a few months ago, our playgroup pal K tells us she too is preggo with her second bundle of joy (her first is a few weeks older than Bowie). I’m thinking wow that’s awesome…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT.

At this point, I’m surer than I’ve ever been about anything in life that I’m, we’re, not ready for a second baby. Not only would it create a massive financial issue, but, in case you’re a new reader, my son is in the MAD THROES of the “Terrible Twos”. How on earth would I handle a full on, head ramming into the floor, screaming, crazy fit in the middle of Target with a newborn in my arms? I’ll tell ya: I would not. They’d have to put me in the straight jacket right there, in the middle of housewares.

Fast forward to this morning, when a very good pal of N and I, S announces that his wife is now preggo, their first actually being younger than Bowie. GAH.

But the thing is, all of a sudden I had that familiar pang in the pit of my stomach. That gosh I want to snuggle a newborn baby close to me, and not just any newborn, but my own newborn feeling.

The problem is, how do I know if I’m TRULY and FULLY ready for baby #2, or simply feeling left out? Not to mention, how do I quell these feelings for at least, like, a year, because, as previously stated, we are in no way, shape or form prepared for bringing baby #2 into this world. And let’s not even get me started on how the hubbs is super scared of having a second baby at all. And JEBUS, I am super freaking crazy, because if our second little on is a girl, I already have her named. I need some help????

So that’s where we’re at. Ugh.

Our First Time Out

Monday morning, 9 a.m. Mommy is checking email, updating the Christmas gift list, entering Pampers codes, generally important morning-on-the-internet kind of stuff. Kiddo is quietly playing with some dishes in the kitchen.

He gets up to show me something he found, and when he realizes I’m on the computer: insta-meltdown. Screaming, crying, hitting, throwing things, the works. So, I get up from the computer, check out the toy, calm him down. Then I get back on the computer, and the meltage starts up again.

Repeat FOUR times.

So, I said to him, you are going in a time out. And I put him in his crib.

I didn’t know what else to do, he’s screaming and being violent for the sole purpose of getting my full, undivided attention. Is he too young to learn that sometimes I have to do other things, and he has to be ok with that?

At the end of the time out, we hugged and kissed, and I told him I love him. Big smiles. Then he followed me into the bathroom and screamed at me during my entire shower.

Yeah, it’s tough.

So far, raising a kid is not getting easier as I was told it would. It is still a 24/7 mashup of worry, frustration, lack of privacy, wondering if you’re doing it right, frustration, worry and a love that will make your heart burst. It’s difficult. The proverbial emotional roller coaster.

Now, I don’t want to scare some of my readers whose first little ones are still on the way or bundled in their cute little 0-3 months clothes. It doesn’t get easier, but it doesn’t get harder. Each phase they go through presents you with a new set of challenges. Sometimes it feels harder, because the older they get the more independent (read: demanding) they get, and it can be difficult to keep up with, especially if you, say, work from home. Or just need to do some laundry. But, you can handle it.

My theory, and really just my undying hope, is that this is the Terrible Twos, and once through this, it truly does get easier. Right now, Bowie knows what he wants and needs, but can’t communicate it to us. Also, we have no way of reasoning with him and explaining why he can’t do this and must do that. From his perspective, I suppose it seems like we’re denying him fun, excitement and cookies just because. For no good reason. That has to be so frustrating. So, he throws a tantrum until we figure out what it is he needs, or distract him from what he wants.

But I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s still going to be hard. I mean, a year from now, he’ll be able to talk back. He’ll have a little kiddo opinion, probably about everything, which may lead to some issues with broccoli, bedtime, TV and kissing grandma. And 5 years from now? He’ll have a life. He’ll be making decisions for himself every single day. And as a parent, you can only sit back and let them make those decisions, all the while worrying that they’ll make the wrong one and get hurt. Or worse.

So, I keep trying to remind myself of what’s to come. And that he’s only little once. I need to slow down and try to savor this time, even if it is riddled with tantrums and teething and picky eating. At least he’s healthy, and happy most of the time. And who knows? If I do well now, maybe he will come to me later with some of those decisions and ask for my opinion.

Now I am a Statistic

Yesterday, I was laid off. My employment fell prey to the recession. You know, the one that’s over?

Mentally, I’m optimistic. I didn’t enjoy the job very much, and it was keeping me from several side projects that I would have enjoyed much more. I got a severance package, so if something happens, we’ve got a bit of a cushion. And I wasn’t making much, so with a little effort, making up for my lost income won’t be all that hard to do. Our health insurance is through my husband’s employer, so I didn’t lose that.

Emotionally? I am crushed. That was my first “real” job after college. I have put so many hours and so much hard work into that company and was a large part of the success it became. Before it ultimately took a right hook in the kisser from the “economic downturn”.

And when you are laid off, as opposed to being fired, you know what you did was necessary, and that you did a good job, but that it was so insignificant, such a small drop in the pond, that someone else could add it to their own list of duties, you really are expendable. Such a blow to the ego.

I can, however, take heart in the fact that executives, people who made way more than me, have also been laid off this year. They likely have mortgages and larger families to support. I am in a better position than most, I’m sure.

And hellooooooooo free time. Now I can get to some of my side projects.

The Flu

My head is spinning over this H1N1 stuff. The media are simultaneously telling us that OMG YOU COULD DIE and OMG THE VACCINE IS BAD FOR YOU. So…what are we supposed to do? Duct tape and Saran wrap our windows I guess?

It’s hard to get our hands on real, empirical, helpful, unbiased information. And normally I’d pay no mind to any of this. I have a relatively good immune system, on the off chance I got it, I’d make it.

But, now I have a kiddo to worry about. What if he got it? Some of the stuff I’m reading suggests that small children have different symptoms and it hits them a bit harder. And kids are, you know, DYING and everything, so yeah, I’m a little worried.

Both kiddo and hubbs have been vaccinated for the regular flu (I don’t get this shot, because I got it all through my childhood, but managed to catch it every year anyway, so now I just save myself the cost and try to stay well). It’s the additional H1N1 vaccine I’m confused/scared/undecided about.

And then there’s the fact that most people as of right now can’t even get the vaccine if they want to. And a vaccine can only cover some strains of the flu, you could still get another strain. Or you could still get the flu you’ve been vaccinated for. No guarantees. So, do we err on the side of caution, or do we save the money and just wash our hands and take our vitamins?

What are you doing, and do you have some good sources I could look at?

Polite

The other day, I went all the way downtown to the mall, which I never do, because I was desperate to see what H&M had on the racks after seeing some ads in a recent magazine. AKA moment of weakness. Plus, I REALLY needed to get kiddo out of the house.

But, on my way through, on a very painfully slow Tuesday morning at the mall, one of the kiosk guys got me. Because, his “gotcha” question was: where are you from?

On my long 3 block walk from the bus stop to the mall, I passed swarms SWARMS of tourists (and, disclaimer, I love ya, I really do, keep coming to SF, but please don’t stop dead in your tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture of a big, dirty building or to plan your route to the ATM) and I was done. Just done. I was so smug. I have lived here for a while now, I am a local, bitches.

So, when he asked where I was from, I was thinking, uh, I am from here, unlike the many tourists I’m sure you sucker in to your booth every day. But, I made the mistake of answering him. And getting into a whole thing about how I was originally from Wisconsin, him from Chicago. And so on and so forth.

And even when I knew I was knee deep in shit and he only cared about selling me something, I just could not leave. Because I have the Midwest Nice. I’ve been stating for years how Midwest Nice is just a myth. Doesn’t exist. They are just as rude a population as anyone else. Yet, something was holding me there, paralyzed with niceness. I blabbed on about how I could not possibly stop today (he was offering a teeth whitening procedure that would involve me staying there for a half hour or so), what with the kiddo and all. And I was on a budget (which is completely true). I threw it all at him. But, I couldn’t find myself just saying, no thanks and walking on, like I normally do. When I’m with my husband, and when there’s ample crowd for them to pick from.

I felt so bad for this guy. I knew he had to pull out all the stops because the coworker who was eavesdropping was likely his manager, and he worked on commission, and after all, I had stopped in the first place. It was ridiculous. I knew and he knew that I was not going to buy anything, but he kept giving the pitch and I kept being so…nice. Just nice. There is not another word for it.

My 8th grade English teacher told us “nice” used to mean “stupid”. Well, I think I fit the original definition that day.

Problems with Paci

The pacifier. My current nemesis.

I spend 97% of my time with my arm shoulder deep under some piece of furniture, desperately trying to find one there because all of them are lost and it’s NAPTIME SWEET JESUS IT’S NAPTIME AND I CAN’T FIND A PACI.

Honestly, I only have myself to blame. Early on, I really pushed it on him, because it helps with SIDS, blah blah blah. It soothed him. Well, when it stayed in his mouth. (I also spent the first 4 months of his life with my arm draped over the side of his co-sleeper bed, holding the pacifier in his mouth. All night long.)

At the time, I was thinking he’ll want to give it up someday…he won’t use it forever…I’ll take it away when he’s done teething… etc. etc. etc. I was justifying it to myself, all the while having that nagging thought in the back of my head of my thumb-sucking brother and his massive orthodontic bills. Because, they say the tooth problem thing is genetic, not necessarily from sucking on anything. And…well…we don’t have genetics on our side.

And then I read that there’s this window of time, about the 6th and 7th months, that you can take it away with little to no backlash. They don’t yet have the total mental capacity to miss it for more than a few hours, and they have begun the process of self-soothing. So, I did take it away, for about a week. Then he started teething.

Of all the wonderful things about my child, grace under fire is not one. He teeths miserably, and tries to make everyone feel as miserable as he does. So, when push came to shove one long teething afternoon, he broke me and I whipped out the paci. And worst of all, it worked like a charm.

Later on, I tried going cold turkey but that went like this: read above paragraph. There was no end to the screaming and crying. Especially at bedtime. So, we compromised, I let him have it at bedtime. During the day, I tried the trick where you snip off the end, and little by little snip off more and more until they lose interest. The first day, he put it in his mouth, took it out, examined it, threw it at me with the force of Joe Montana and cried until he threw up. I could try it again. But can you blame me for wanting to avoid that?

So now, I have a 16 month old that has a pacifier in his mouth way too much, and his first dentist appointment is coming. To me, the teeth look ok. And he is back to mostly only having it at bedtime. But, I’m not the expert. So, I’m a little worried.

They help prevent SIDS. That’s a really good thing. (Though it would not surprise me in the least to find out this was a conspiracy started by a pacifier manufacturer to get us to buy them in mass quantities. Because seriously, every new parent will go out and buy anything with “prevents SIDS” associated with it.)

All new moms: you must take it away before their first birthday. You MUST. Or you will be like me. And I will probably be taking it out of his mouth so he can cross the stage and get his high school diploma.