It's been busy around here. Anthony's been traveling a ton (lots of trips up to Dallas), we flew to Kansas City for Christmas where we saw two sets of great-grandparents and two sets of grandparents (all separately) and we drove all over Missouri to do it. Literally hours after we got back to Austin Anthony was off to Dallas again and won't be back until around 3 pm on the 31st (our 3rd anniversary). My sister also flies in tomorrow night for all of us to do our Christmas on New Year's Day.
In all of this hustle and bustle Hollis has leapt ahead in developmental skills. He knows four baby sign language signs ("more," "cookie," "all done," and the newest one, "hungry"), he prefers to walk, has whole baby conversations with himself complete with inflection, he can almost feed himself, he has fine motor skills, recognizes people, says "NO," like a champ, and he sleeps like an exhausted puppy throughout the day.
He's also totally weaned himself.
It's over. The beautiful, special connection I had with him that no other living soul could share is now finished. I had no idea I would feel such sadness about this. But I do. I feel like weeping that my baby is now a toddler and no longer needs me in such an intimate, profound, and powerful way.
I know I'm sounding ridiculously selfish, but I can't help it. I know it's natural, normal, and utterly right for him to be growing away from me, I just wasn't prepared for my own feelings about it. Before I ever had children I knew I was going to nurse my babies, but I always put the accepted 12-month cap on it. I used to say so flippantly, "Oh God, I could never nurse my child if he could ask for it!" and I'd curl my lip in disgust at the thought.
But he's just a baby!! It's not gross or weird! We are one of only a few modern day cultures that thinks nursing should have such an early expiration date. Most cultures recognize the powerful bond it nurtures between baby and mother, and like a pebble dropped in a lake, its ripple effect on all the caretakers in a baby's life and on the baby's psyche and constitution. I deeply and profoundly believe we cannot better nature. If the situation demands it, then by all means, lets use science, but there's nothing more incredible than using your body the way it was intended. And I have also become a believer in believing in my baby - a person who has not been influenced by snide remarks or peer pressure. I trusted that he would know what he needed and he would let me know. And I was right...
He just learned how to ask to nurse by knocking on my chest as if it were a refrigerator door and my boobs were little helpful elves who came out to see what he needed. But each time I offered him an "elf," he would turn away or even cry at the idea. I was still lactating... a little, but after the 5th occasion where he asked for, then refused, my breast I decided he was looking for comfort from me and not necessarily a chance to nurse - and so I stopped offering him a morsel. That was before we left for Kansas City on the 22nd.
And today, as I got in the shower I noticed dried milk in my nipples; clogged, thick, and over.
As of today, I can no longer nurse my baby and it breaks my heart. But I'm also, somewhere deep down, filled with glee that it was natural for both of us and completely trauma-free. He loves Cheerios, bananas, and the special baby goulash that I make for him. He lights up when he sees me and seeks me out when he needs a soft place. It's all I could ever ask for and so much more.
But oh, I am so sad. I feel foolish and hysterical for being such a puddle.
He's so sweet and wonderful and precocious and and and. I am so lucky to be his mother, to be a part of his life...
I'm still sad...
duties. He vacuumed, scrubbed the bathrooms, took care oh Hollis,
mopped, you name it and he did it. And all with a smile and a hug (I
swear this story is NOT made up).
He even postponed a business trip by a day so I could have one more
day to recoup.
He's been gone since Monday night, but I only just now noticed that
all the doggie things (brushes, shampoos, itch relief, heartgard, etc)
I'd pulled out from under the sink in the guest bath and had on the
counter are gone.
I was chatting him when I noticed and I asked him where all the stuff
"It's in a bag in the garage next to the crate."
"Oh, ok. But why did you leave the fish thing?
"Uh, 'fish thing'?" he asks.
"Yeah - the little fish scape."
"Oh, I thought that was part of the decoration," he laughs.
Then, with what I can see as the triumph of proof that he really isn't
a slob when it comes to keeping the house tidy, he exclaims,
"See,stuff just fades into the background!"
in the glider to watch him play out the last of his energy.
But instead of playing he started digging through the laundry looking
for his blankie. Then he spotted a paci on the dresser.
He had no plans to play. It was nap time.
I tried to get him to come to me so I could put him in my lap, but
instead he put his little chubby hand between the bars of the crib and
patter the mattress.
So much for Mommy's welcoming lap!
After a perplexing, and unfruitful, sweep of the house for Hollis' pacifiers (we call them "pacies") the other day I decided to check behind his crib.
This is what I found:
Can you see how many there are? I think there are five. Five! Ridiculous!
I bought a bottle warmer back before I knew that bottle feeding would be a total bust and now we use its steaming abilities to sterilize pacies. We have so many I can't even fit them in to the damn thing, and yet I routinely can't dig up a single pacifier when I need it!
Pacifiers are like my nuts. If I were a squirrel, I mean. I have them hidden, and/or stashed, in my purse, my pockets, my bedside drawer, the glove box, the diaper bag, and the car seat caddy. Seriously.
I often also find them on the bathroom counter, the floor, the couch, the cupboard, down Hollis' overalls, and, reassuringly, in his crib.
I'm careful not to stuff one in his sweet little mouth whenever he wants one and my reasons are twofold: 1) I don't want to always have to have a fucking paci on me to placate my son, and 2) I don't want to over stiumulate the whole "oral soothing" thing. I smoked off and on for a decade and I know how nice a ciggie, or at least the ritual of putting one in your mouth, can be.
I have to admit, though, Anthony and I have gotten a little lax in our no-paci-except-bedtime-naptime-quiettime-and-car-seat philosophy. Ever since Hollis has been showing a preference for something, i.e., a pacifier, I've gotten soft in the heart. It's so endearing to see him deliberately search out and find a paci or his blankie. For so many months he just did whatever out of necessity, now he's doing things because his wiring requires it for his own special reasons totally outside of survival mode. And that's incredible.
I remember when he first showed a preference for his yellow sleep sack (aka "blankie"). I took about 30 pictures of him first spotting it in the laundry basket, dragging himself over to it (because he wasn't even crawling yet) and picking it out of the pile of clothes, then finally clutching it to his face and lying on it.
It's weird how so many of my preconceived notions about rules and motherhood just get shattered when applied to a real baby and to my very real heart. I like to think I'm consistent, but damn, it's really hard!! I find myself giving him -or rather letting him keep- a paci he's found in any of the various already mentioned spots (see, he's like a squirrel, too). I'm just amazed that he has a preference for something and I feel bad for denying it to him.
No matter what I'll continue to buy pacifiers and I'll continue to think I'm instituting a healthy oral habit (whether I am or not is yet to be seen). Hollis will continue to be ridiculously cute and he'll continue to leave pacifiers for me to find like a gold-hungry pirate with an old debt to settle. Arghhhhhh!!!
I should advertise! Seriously! I was so scared! I see babies all the time with that dreaded slash in their hair where mom (or dad) cut straight across. And while I wasn't loving the mullet, I also didn't want him to look like he'd cut his own hair either (there's plenty of time for that to actually happen in the future).
He didn't even seem to notice that I was clipping away back there, and I gotta say I'm shocked. I've been putting this task off for weeks because I thought it'd just be too impossible to get him to cooperate.
Well, let this be a lesson to me! I'll have to remember to try something first before I talk myself out of it (isn't that a good lesson, too?). What a novel idea!
I've said before that I L O V E the cold and so last night and this morning has been utterly blissful for me. I never get tired of seeing my breath float away before my eyes or layering sweaters and hats and scarves. It's also a wonderful opportunity to bundle up Hollis.
The only thing cuter than a cute baby is a cute baby wrapped in winter wear!!
Our usual morning routine consists of getting Hollis up and dressed, making breakfast for him then myself and Anthony (while Anthony feeds Hollis), cleaning up breakfast while Hollis plays in his kitchen zone, more playing in his bedroom, then a nap. With Anthony out of town I skip the whole effort to make myself breakfast and so that eliminates the clean up time. I took this opportunity to take Hollis out into the brisk, cold Texas morning. And when I say "cold," I really mean cold (not some wimpy 60 degree chill, but a real, grown up cold snap of 36 degrees!).
Oh man, what a treat!
I can't find a good baby hat and mittens set here in Texas, so I'm missing the hand protection for my little guy, but that didn't seem to slow him down any. He investigated our Christmas lights, played on his bench, and grabbed fistfuls of our neighbor's lavender blooms. We practiced walking up and back the sidewalk and he would teeter and sway with the effort of walking uphill.
Getting out every day really reminds me of how sedentary I really am. I remind myself of an adult cow - no, seriously. You know how calves are so cute and energetic? Finding interest and intrigue in every blade of grass and reveling in exerting themselves with playful bucks and sprints across the field? Yeah, well that was me as a kid. Now I'm the sedate cow, munching her cud, no longer interested in finding wonder in the world. I eat, I sleep, I clean, I shop, I do finances, I clean some more.
I do have a daily routine with Hollis to walk down to the mailbox and inevitably we run into neighbors and chat while I push him in the swing. It's something I want to keep in our routine for sure, but I know myself and I rarely do anything consistently.
I know I sound like I'm complaining, but I'm really just being honest; I don't remember the last time I ran just for the sake of running. But I am thinking about it more. I want to share every little thing with Hollis and not just be an observer. I want to remember the thrill of the wind in my hair and the happiness of being in the sun. I don't even get outside for 15 minutes a day anymore!! And besides being dangerous for my vitamin D levels (and Hollis') that's just plain stupid in my opinion.
I feel like a kid again in so many ways now that I'm a mother (funny how that works). It's important to me to enjoy every second of this.
I was out running errands with Hollis, buying groceries, actually, and when I came out the winds had started. His hair has recently gotten pretty long - yeah, it's basically a baby mullet - and when the gusts hit his hair it flipped his blond locks up like a cheap toupee.
He squealed and laughed at the sensation of his hair being tossed and twisted about, and the puffs on his face. It was like watching him ride a roller coaster: arms in the air, hands on his head, laughing with sunshine from his heart.
This little boy is my sun and my moon and my stars. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed the feel of the wind in my hair.
First, I very quietly open the door...
... and peek inside.
Then creep on over to the blinds to let in the sunshine...
... so I can look down on the sweetest face on earth.
Last night we had two holiday parties to attend, both from Anthony's end of the friend/work spectrum. Not having seen the invitations myself, as a woman, I automatically needed to know two things: 1) what's everyone else wearing so I can fit in, 2) do I need to bring anything?.
I knew from Anthony that both were relatively casual, the first being an Apple folks party and the dress code at work is, well, very relaxed to say the least, so I didn't think I needed sequin or anything to fit in. And the second was with Anthony's motorcycle safety instruction peeps. So I chose some jeans, a black cashmere sweater (I scored it at Old Navy, otherwise cashmere would never have touched my body), and high-heeled boots.
:: Ok, got the attire taken care of!
The first party requested that everyone bring a pot-luck dish, so 30 minutes before we left I whipped up my staple party dish of tomato-basil bruschetta topping that always gets rave reviews.
:: Check! on the food!
Mom and Terry came over right on time and we were out the door with a wave over our shoulders and sparkling we-get-to-have-grown-up-time-eyes.
We end up arriving an hour late, but luckily no one seemed to notice. Everyone was really friendly and there were several familiar faces in the mix. All the ladies had on nice jeans or pants and nice sweaters, just like me. Anthony's sports coat was also in good company with Polo button downs and shiny belt buckles.
Our bruschetta mixed well with the other treats, dips, crackers, and fare on the shiny counter tops.
We mingled, we chatted, we even competed in a Mario Go Cart Wii tournament.
The Christmas tree in the corner glittered with lights and there were little boys and girls running around with bows in their hair and their shirts tucked in.
It was the epitome of the holidays and I felt like I had really done my job as the wife of the guy everyone knew: I fit in, everyone loved my food, I was killing it with my small talk and witty remarks about fuzzy sweaters. Anthony was comfortable and relaxed, too, and I could tell he was really enjoying himself as well.
Until our hostess calls out to everyone, "Ok, it's time for the White Elephant!" and all the guests moved towards the tree and grabbed comfortable seats for the gift-giving fun. I turn to look at Anthony who is rigidly staring straight ahead. "Shit," I think the very moment the hostess comes by with a little bowl with folded pieces of paper on it and asks, "Did you guys bring a gift??"
"No," Anthony replies, "we didn't."
"Ok," she answers and then begins to explain the rules of the game to the other 25 people there who did bring gifts.
:: Big fat ZERO for reading the ENTIRE invitation goes to Jessica and Anthony!!
Oh my God, I was so... I don't even know what. I just felt like an idiot as we sat there with smiles plastered to our faces as everyone opened and stole presents back and forth laughing and cajoling each other in front of us for the next 30 minutes.
I wasn't embarrassed or pissed or anything like that, I just felt like a jerk. Anthony did, too. I really just wanted to laugh my ass off for about 15 minutes, but obviously couldn't.
Then Anthony spent the next 10 minutes looking through his email to find the invitation in hopes that maybe it wasn't included and everyone else attending just "knew" to bring a gift. Alas, he was shit out of luck on that one.
It's just such a man thing to do - yes, I'm doing that thing where I throw all men under the bus because of my man - but really, it fits. The invitation was written by a woman and was quite long, by a man's standards, and so Anthony read about a third of the way down, saw we needed to bring some food and thought we were good. He was so proud of himself for even reading that far!! hahahah OMG, this just cracks me up so fucking much!
In the end we made off with a gift that some friends of ours just couldn't bear to bring home. They made the pass off in the driveway as we left so as not to hurt the bearer of their gift's feelings (although, given the nature of the White Elephant gift I don't think the giver would have minded our friends unloading it to us). We have a White Elephant party coming up this weekend and it will be put to good use.
And we decided to skip party #2 - turns out Anthony had RSVP'd us as "maybes" anyway. It was probably for the best. I wouldn't want to know what we forgot to bring to that one, too.
At Apple this afternoon. Everyone buy an iPhone, iPod and iTunes!!!
I live in a 20+ year old house and neighborhood. Everyone here, I would guess, is a solidly middle class family. Nothing fancy, but decent, and the homes are well lived in and mostly cared for.
All around us are similar neighborhoods interspersed with new development; mostly apartments, but also those new homes built 6 feet apart with all the bedrooms upstairs (you know the type, right??). Typically, a lot is cleared of all growth (flattened until the dust requires water trucks to be deployed - ironic, isn't it?), and the first crews are brought in to do the plumbing. A few weeks later, it's the foundation people, then the carpenters, the landscapers, etc. I've seen it so many times I actually know the order of construction.
In the past year, alongside a long road through cypress trees which essentially sequesters our neighborhood from the busy through street to the highway, a lot was cleared. Huge piles of trees were littered about and driveways flagged off. The the requisite water trucks came in. That was this summer. Nothing else has happened. It's been grown over and I occasionally see some dude on his ATV or dirt bike out there.
Most recently, a new development got as far as the pipes and then NOTHING. So now there's this enormously barren plot of land, hacked up with make-shift roads for the work trucks and prickled with light green PVC pipes. Today I saw a big work truck drive in with a trailer and head for the last remaining tractor. By the time I came home, the tractor was gone.
Just down the street there was new construction on a WaMu bank. When WaMu caved in on itself there was still activity on the site and we all assumed that it had already been paid for, but we were wrong. It's a skeleton now and all the workers are gone.
Then there's the banks.
the car makers.
Dude... this is fucking scary.
Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, but I'm really beginning to get freaked out. All over town I can see with my own eyes the effects of our shitty ass economy. I feel a lot like I did after 9/11 when flags everywhere were at half-mast. It broke my heart as I whizzed along my way to see the stars and stripes gloomily slung so low. And it breaks my heart now to see industry, literally, stopped in its tracks. Not because I love urban sprawl, but because of all the lives I know it effects. The thousands of people on and behind the scenes who are losing their jobs.
I'm nervous about my family; my own nuclear one and my extended. None of us live extravagant lives, but it doesn't matter. When lay offs come it's not like the powers that be have a Naughty and Nice List to make their picks. Ostensibly, it's completely random.
What the fuck has happened? Didn't we learn anything from the 80s?? When cocaine and Beamers and the Y.U.P.py debuted as the only way to live in America? I've been saying for a long time now that a good measure of who we think we are and should be can be seen in our TV programming and what do we have?? "Life in the Fab Lane"-type realty shows. The "Sweet Sixteen"s and the "Real Housewives"s. Where you see these wealthy, celebrity wannabes spend, quite literally, thousands and thousands of dollars on a handbag. A fucking H A N D B A G. That they'll use for a week. Where they say things like, "If I die tomorrow, at least I'll be wearing Dior." And where we see children equate money with self-worth and love and they are shamelessly unapologetic when they manipulate their parents for more, more, more with tantrums, "I hate you!"s and crocodile tears.
It's a lot like how the 1950s had "Leave It to Beaver". That was what America aspired to be and a lot of people tried to force their very souls to fit that ridiculous mold and no avail. Women bucked that off and burned their bras and we fast forwarded into a time of plenty and a time of fear. After the 80s were through, we no longer had bloody coke-noses or an angry mother and we now counted the Russians as friends, not foes, but we still didn't look within for our sense of worth.
Dotcom boom and lots of money started rolling in and the next thing you know we're idolizing raging idiots who wipe their asses with cash. We're told by the world that you can't wear the same dress twice, everyone "deserves" a diamond, and you're worth [whatever price to be beautiful].
When Anthony and I were dating he told me that he thought the whole "engagement ring thing" was a racket. I promised him an engagement motorcycle in return to make him feel better. Sad thing is, is that now I kinda agree with him. I look at my beautiful rings every day and see how much money we could make if I sold them. We could pay off our car, or get a big sum in Hollis' college fund. It breaks my heart. All of it.
When did I jump on this bandwagon that has brought our country to Big-Pile-of-Shit-Town?? I'm embarrassed for my part in it, however small or big it may have been, but I vow to do better. I don't want my kids to feel like their lives are over if they don't have the newest the best the biggest the shiniest. I want my kids to know that there are people struggling to survive this very second. Looking for ways to avoid pain, suffering, and death.
I can take this even further to me: my own personal country.
It's the weirdest feeling, this economic, political, and global shift. It's almost like an out of body experience. Like watching an avalanche from a treetop. Will I get pounded by the ferocity of it? Or will I be safe??
I'm clinging to hope that it will pass me by. Here's to it.