parenting

Mom & Charlie Hang Out in the Bed

Our hot new vlog (from a couple weeks ago) — now shared via the magic of hipstermother.com, rather than as a Facebook exclusive*!

*It was only a Facebook exclusive because that’s the easiest place for me to upload a video. But, through the magic of the Word Press help page, I bring new and exciting content to your front door.

The Joy of Deadlines

Turns out I don’t do well without a pressing deadline. Just came off of winter break this morning– the two week stretch I’ve been gleefully planning since I began grad school– and by yesterday afternoon, my final day off, I was legit thinking about killing myself. Is my life insurance policy in order? Are certain kinds of deaths (i.e. those performed at one’s own hand) ineligible for payout? Should I make a phone call to see if my aunt will watch Charlie for a couple weeks while I check myself into Sibley? What’s the deductible for checking myself into Sibley? What’s the Uber ride going to cost to this non-Metro-accessible facility? OH WAIT! I owe a client 1.5 hours of work. I’ll do that and see if I still feel like getting my affairs in order after. 

2 hours later, I felt 99.5% better. I was productive and even earned some money for it. Then Charlie and I took a long nap, and I felt 10000% better. 

The holidays have been slow and anxiety-inducing; I transitioned into freelance work this fall, and some work I expected to have in place by now got pushed back into the new year. I still have not signed on the lines that are dotted in these cases, and while I’m cautiously optimistic that things will be fabulous soon, I’m currently out of money and filled to the brim with existential dread and more-plentiful-than-usual self-loathing. I had every intention of using this time, which I knew would be very light on paid work, as an opportunity to enjoy time off with Charlie and take him to the zoo. 

We did not make it to the zoo.

I am currently fine and not fixin’ to do myself in. Yesterday sucked, and in fact things have been dark since I filed for unemployment on January 1. It wasn’t an activity that inspired me with plentiful feelings of awesomeness, and 2016 is not off to my favorite start. But I relate this feeling of kinda wanting to kill myself to how I sometimes kinda want to eat a whole sleeve of Oreos or I kinda want to try heroin or I kinda want to have sex with strangers. Even eating a whole sleeve of Oreos, which I’ve never done but may yet do some day, seems daunting. 

I might like to eat a whole sleeve of Oreos. Maybe I’ll make that happen today. I don’t have any Oreos, nor do I have the car today. I could either walk with Charlie to the Giant, or see if his Grandad will watch him while I go by myself. Do I really want to walk all the way to Giant for cookies? How long will this errand take? Is this the thing that will make me leave the house today when there’s so much other crap to do? How much do Oreos cost these days? How many calories are in a sleeve or Oreos? Will the walk cancel out the non-nutritive sludge? Does health work that way? How will I feel after I eat a whole sleeve of Oreos? Will it give me the energy I need to be a productive member of society, or will it make me feel gross? Probably the latter. Does it turn out that I’m just really tired and need a nap, thereby invalidating all feelings? Yes.

Replace “seek and eat unhealthy number of cookies” with “commit suicide,” and that’s the gist. 

I applied for unemployment once before, coinciding with the Major Depressive Episode of 2005. It was not a good scene. 

Things to note: A) I’ve got mental health professionals and their fabulous anti-depressents working for me and B) School started back up today and I won’t have time to circle the drain. And C) I took a nap and was legit fine after that.

I’m putting this low point on the Internet because I’m aware that a lot of us feel this way a lot of the time, particularly when there are newish children in our lives (who don’t let us sleep as much as we need to), and it’s not something we generally care to discuss. This started as a journal entry on my phone (on my way to therapy, but turns out that appointment isn’t until next week). Then I concluded that not publishing this felt like hiding for the sake of pretending like my shit is more together than it is. 

My shit is together-ish. For today, that’s good enough.

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A Gallery of Dadas

Charlie sees Dada in a lot of places these days. Any dude who looks to be in his late 30s is a dada, and particular figures around the home are, without argument, the renderings of the Dada.:

  1. “This is Dada,” except “Dada has no jammies.”
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This morning’s Dada. Also of note, “Dada likes pink medicine.” 

2. “This is Dada and Mom.”

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Every time he sees this book, he will bring it over and tell me that it’s Dada and Mom. I dig it. There are certainly less flattering images of us out there.

3. “Dada has hair.”

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WWE’s Bo Dallas stars as “Dada.” There might be a resemblance in the eyebrows.

4. “Look! It’s Dada!”

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Yessssssssss. Real Dada was not keen on this comparison. It remains my favorite.

5. “Play with Dada. Dada has boots.”

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C.M. Punk was the first Dada stand-in. Charlie was SUPER excited to find this Dada doll on his shelf one day. I think Charlie believes in his heart that this action figure was indeed made in the image of his father. Andy’s way more into this notion than the Richard Nixon paper doll.

In conclusion, we are all of us Dada.

Toddler Tree

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Can you tell how high Charlie can reach these days? Yes, you can.

Can you guess how many times we’ve told him not to throw the ornaments? Let’s see… We put the tree up three days ago, so, I think 65 times?

We were smart enough to go to Home Depot and spend $11.50 on two packs of ornaments that billed themselves as “shatter-resistant.” He’s broken one of them, but in fairness, it didn’t shatter. Our usual ornaments aren’t making an appearance this year, and probably not next year either. Because I am a genius.

Where I am less smart: It took me 65 instances of putting ornaments back on the tree before I realized that I could relocate them to a spot where he could’t reach them.

It’s all worth it, because he’s in love with this Christmas tree. He’s been asking Siri to show him pictures of blue Christmas trees at least once a day for the last three months. (Also: Blue trains and yellow school busses.) But, since he talks like a toddler, there’s often some confusion on Siri’s part. She usually thinks we’re asking for something obscene.IMG_0154

There have been some close calls. The other day, I was relieved to hear her say, “I’m not sure what you mean by ‘show me big tits.'” I believe Charlie’s request was in fact “Show me pictures.” When he didn’t get the results he was looking for, he followed up with, “Show me pictures of–” but he didn’t get the full sentence out before Siri responded with, “Okay, here’s what I found on the web for ‘shit myself.'” As I yelled, “No, Siri! Cancel, cancel!,” six pictures popped up. We shut it down quickly, and I think it was mostly Business Baby memes.

Anyway, Siri’s on time out for the forseable future.

3 New House Rules for Prime Productivity

Starting today, we’ve implemented new rules in the house:

  1. No computers!
  2. No coffees for Mom!

These compliment the rule implemented earlier this week, which was created to add structure to the remainder of my M.F.A. program: No homeworks!

Charlie’s downstairs playing trains with Grandad while I break all the rules. If he asks, though, I’m just up here jumping up and down “wike a kangawoo,” as instructed.

He's tough, but fair.  Now he's gonna drop this pumpkin on the cement to see what happens.

He’s tough, but fair.
Now he’s gonna drop this pumpkin on the cement to see what happens.

Kangaroo Pouch 

In Which We Explore Darker Corners of the Mommy Brain
Sometimes I feel like Charlie isn’t real. In the first few days after we brought him home, I spent a fair amount of time smelling him, I think to make sure I wasn’t making him up. When he would sleep in my arms, I would put my nostrils up close to his and breathe in his breath as he exhaled. It was warm and healthy, with life of its own. Dreams, hallucinations, and ghosts don’t breathe. This might be a real baby, one that belongs to me. Mind you, I was recovering from a Caesarian and high as a fucking kite.  
I’ll catch a shadow of that feeling sometimes. It’s still mind-boggling to me that a bit over three years ago, my child didn’t exist even as a theoretical construct, and now he’s an entire human being. I feel cosmically separated from him in a way I don’t like, but that probably has benefits for him becoming an independent, emotionally healthy human. I want to put him in my kangaroo pouch and to know he’s safe, and to know him fully. He’s pretty active, so he wouldn’t tolerate a kangaroo pouch even if I had one. Besides which, I’d still be a kangaroo with a congenitally fractured spine, so he’d have to learn to hop alongside me anyway. 
I feel lonely for him in a way that isn’t necessarily fixed by spending time with him. I expect this won’t be so pronounced as he learns to communicate better, but it turns out that motherhood doesn’t solve the existential truth that no one can ever really know anyone, you know?

  

Inconsolable: Bluth’s Banana Stand Edition

 

I mean, it IS a pretty great t-shirt

 
Charlie will be two on the 22nd of this month. I hear tell that the twos are terrible. He’s been foreshadowing the events to come, most recently with this evening’s freakout. While helping me put away laundry, I pointed out that I was folding my banana shirt, one of his favorites. 

“Noooooooooo!”

“You don’t want me to put it away?”

“Nooooooooooo!”

“You want me to wear it instead?”

(Through sudden hiccup tears), “Okay.”

So, wardrobe change. He’s down to a simmering wimper, but still clearly upset. You know what would make him feel better, if he changed into a new shirt too, prolly! One that doesn’t have encrusted tomato seeds on it, maybe! So I changed his shirt. 

Fury. Sadness. Confusion. Ennui. But mostly rage, through the wailing tears.

This goes on for a solid 20-30 minutes, unabated. Like, surely I accidentally broke his finger or something during our costume change, but he doesn’t seem to be nursing any particular injuries. He hits me in the boob a couple times, to see if that makes him feel better. It does not. I ask him to use his words to tell me why he’s upset, but there are no words. Thrashing on my bed, where I’ve taken him to calm down, his tears flow like a river. Mouth wide open, I can investigate his dental and tonsil health as he screams. (His tonsils seem fine.)

Grandad comes upstairs to see what must surely be the bookcase that fell upon Charlie and I both, rendering me unconscious and and insensible to the cries of my mamed son, who is screaming like he’s taken a hardback copy of Infinite Jest to the skull. Grandad sees me holding Charlie, both of us conscious and neither of us visibly bleeding, and gives me a “what-the-hell?” look. I explain that I think Charlie’s mad about our t-shirts. Grandad takes him from my arms, and Charlie immediately stops crying. 

The problem, apart from wardrobe design, was just too much Mom. It’s the tail-end of a long weekend, after all. Charlie and his grandad are playing in the basement right now. I’m laying on the living room couch, drinking a beer. For the time being, everyone is happy. 

Charlie is awesome and hilarious, but dude. Get it together, kid. 

8 Tricks for Toddler Naps

Last Sunday, it was clear that Charlie needed a nap by about 9:30 am, and it was further clear that he had no interest. At face value, sure, I’m fine with just running around the house with him and playing cars until he eventually curls up in a ball on the floor and succumbs to his actual level of exhaustion. In practice, in addition to getting pre-nap fussy, he starts to lose control of his gross motor skills while increasing his propensity for risk. At this point, he basically becomes a pint-sized, drunken college kid. He’s crashing into walls while running laps, he’s falling off of tables while trying new dance moves, and he thinks he’s cool to drive.

I’ve got a couple go-to moves at this point.

1. “Yeah, bro, get all that energy out. I’ll turn up the music and dance with you. Then you’ll be tired!” Much like going out on the dance floor is not putting Fratty Joe down for a nap, I don’t recall this strategy having ever worked.

2. Laying down and nursing. 85% of the time, a tired Charlie who starts to nurse is in a deep slumber within 15 minutes. This is a huge factor contributing to extending breastfeeding to 22 months. He doesn’t show any interest in weaning yet, but since this is the magic trick that lets us all have some quiet lie-down time, I’m ambivalent about initiating that process with much rigor on my end. 15% of the time, though, he’ll nurse and then get up and run around like a crazy boy (lately with the addition of yelling “Cray-see! Cray-see! Cray-see!”).

3. A snack. Maybe he’s too hungry to sleep. Let’s all have some carbs.

4. Soothing children’s television. This time I tried Jim Henson’s Pajamimals, which I’d seen two episodes of and didn’t hate. It had some catchy songs about teeth-brushing. It’s about some young Muppets who get ready for bed, face and overcome bedtime challenges, and then sleep soundly through the night. It should be the plot to every television show available to children until they hit middle school. We watched Pajanimals while Charlie jumped on the bed yelling “Cray-see, cray-see, cray-see Jam-mools!” At this point, we’ve been prepping for nap time for three-and-a-half goddamn hours.

5. Modeling desired behavior. Now that I’ve sweat through a dance party, laid down in bed to nurse (which according so science, has a soporific effect on all parties involved), eaten some carbs, laid back down and watched a Pajanimals marathon about how to get ready for sleepy time, I’m pretty spent. And sleepy. So very sleepy. I’ll just rest my eyes a minute.

6. Head injury. Charlie can only hop on the bed with his drastically reduced motor skills so many times before he falls on his head. I wasn’t quite with it enough to make an effective catch.

7. Cry it out. It’s tiring to cry.

8. Comfort nurse. Mom and toddler fall soundly asleep in less than a minute, with The Pajanimals playing on a Netflix loop.

So that’s the simple trick for getting your fussy toddler down for a nap in less than a minute.

Let the record show that I’m now on Day 7 of having the Pajanimals theme song stuck in my head.

A hard-fought victory.

A hard-fought victory.

14 Fantasies for a Three-Day Weekend

If this were a different kind of website, I would write about the legacy and unfinished work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But since it’s jokes on a mommy blog, I’ll instead be writing about all of the things I would very much like to do before this long weekend ends.

  1. Write a to-do list. I started writing one on my phone, but Charlie really wants to take selfies with my phone, and
    I AM IN CHARGE OF THE PHONE NOW AND WE USE IT ONLY FOR SELFIES AND FOR DELETING APPS AND FOR ASKING SIRI WHERE DADA IS AND FOR THROWING AT YOUR FACE!

    I AM IN CHARGE OF THE PHONE NOW AND WE USE IT ONLY FOR SELFIES AND FOR DELETING APPS AND FOR ASKING SIRI WHERE DADA IS AND FOR THROWING AT YOUR FACE!

    he doesn’t want my help. May as well bust out the laptop and blog my fantasy to-do list.

  2. I'm not on the table; you are.

    I’m not on the table; you are.

    Keep Charlie off the table. The table is his favorite thing, and no way that I’ve so far thought to communicate “No, honey, stay off the table because you’ll hurt yourself” has yet been effective. Now that I’m writing this on my laptop instead of my phone, he’s crawling up to point to the logo on the back of my computer. “App-pool?” “Yes, that’s an apple, but you’re still not allowed on the table.”

  3. Get some work done. Like a ton of it. Like it needs its own to-do list and 36 uninterrupted hours from me and my robot assistant.
  4. Get said work done without Charlie accomplishing the Three-Day Weekend Head Injury Hat Trick. We got off to a bad start Saturday, while I was trying to participate in a Livestreamed conference and its accompanying Twitter chat while parenting. So Charlie jumped off the bed and landed head-first on the hardwood floor. I was within arm’s reach and watched him do it, but I wasn’t fast enough to catch him because: a) I was composing a Tweet, and b) I think that my reflexes were slowed by the medication I’m on for shingles. Then yesterday, he battled with his Spiderman folding chair and lost, and landed on the same spot on his head. Yes, this also happened while I was composing a tweet. Charlie may have reached an age where I can’t safely type 140 characters. I’m holding him while I type this, so hopefully we’re cool here.
  5. Hmm? Oh, yeah. I’ve got the damned shingles, like an 87-year-old woman. They arrived at over Christmas and aren’t done being here yet. I feel WAY better than I did, but still not “awesome” or “capable of parenting or working in a meaningful way.” I took a full week to convalesce/stop being contagious with an active chicken pox virus, but this affair takes 2-4 weeks to run its course. I’m ALMOST done. So I guess this to-do item is to really rest up and relax so I can stop having shingles. This should be no problem.
  6. Nap!
  7. Fold laundry!
  8. Clean all the things!
  9. Trim Charlie’s toenails!
  10. Prepare a nutritious dinner!
  11. Finish reading the pile of magazines!
  12. Go to the market, somehow, without access to a car!
  13. Take Charlie for a walk! Maybe to the market, except that it’s not reasonably walking distance!
  14. Other things, probably! But Charlie wants to play cars right now, so I’m gonna go do that instead of any of the above.