Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Strangercare Show

After 23 months (9+14) of being my baby’s sole provider of care (i.e., eat, drink, sleep, play, learn – let’s be honest, I was her sole provider of life for all intents and purposes), I am now two weeks into my ominous Return To Work. 

This unfortunate Return To Work ritual is one that apparently every parent can relate to – some after only a few weeks of parental leave, others after several months or years.  There seem to be some customary phases of this momentous event, putting your child into Strangercare. 

The Strangercare Dress Rehearsal
Also known as The Transition.  Partial days, or partial hours, easing into the reality of leaving your most precious being in the hands of some hack who will probably drop her on her head and let her play with cigarettes.  Usually exudes only a small portion of the total strength eventually required for the actual Strangercare opening day, partly due to your continued significant daily role, but mostly due to denial. 

The Home Nesting Interpretive Dance
A fast and sometimes furious flutter, organizing and cleaning in an attempt to prepare for the new world order.  An often fruitless but necessary exercise. 

Before you know it, though, it’s opening night and the performance truly begins. If you don’t know your lines by now, it’s too late.  The show must go on. 

The Opening Prayer
A slow and cautious pleading to anyone who will listen, begging for empowerment.  Usually in the vein of “This is good for me.  And for her.  She’ll get used to this.” and ending with a single repeated phrase “I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.”

The First Day Acrobatic Display
Usually accompanied by a sense of confusion and awe that fogs you into a convenient submission. Running out the door in high heels, carrying 1-2 children on your hip, 3-to-4 bags on your shoulder, and a giant coffee mug in your hand. Followed by an 8-hour intermission. Then followed by a dash home in the same fashion with desperation in your eyes/heart/soul.   

The One-Woman Show
Also known as The Panic Attack.  When the reality of this being reality becomes a reality and the whole show almost comes (or does come) crashing to an end.  Usually accompanied by frequent (possibly extreme) crying for everyone involved.  This image is a hard one to shake – spectators be warned.

The Team Building Exercise
The rally.  The getting-to-know-each other and setting-a-plan group activity. Comes in the form of a meal planning diorama, or a "Juggle the Flaming Schedule" show, or a guest-starring role for your psychologist.  Or all of the above.

The Meditation
A slow and steady decline of emotions into a pattern of rhythmic movements. Not necessarily in a state of calm, but a state of acceptance. 

The Finale
The reflection on the overall event and how it has impacted your life.  Consideration of how you might change your life based on its influence.  For some, this will have shifted their perspective entirely – finding a new job, or a new income, or a new approach for their family.  Others will make moderate shifts – selling their house, moving close to work.  Some will make small allowances – hugging their kids more often and more fiercely. Some will do all three.  Ultimately, the finale is what brings you to your new you, your new world.  Or at least inspires you to create your own spin-off soap opera entitled Wine and Tears: My True Life Story.    

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The truth about Baby-Led Weaning

If you have children, you're probably accustomed to the constantly shifting rules of acceptable parenting... Your baby should sleep on her stomach, NO WAIT HER BACK. Breast milk is all your baby needs, NO WAIT VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS. Your baby should sleep in a crib, NO WAIT YOUR BED, NO WAIT HER CRIB, NO WAIT HER CRIB BUT YOUR ROOM.

I think most of us eventually figure out that we just gotta do what works - short of, say, leaving our babies at home alone while we go out for beers.  (I would never do that.  Probably.)

Regarding solid food, Hubby and I adopted a baby-led weaning approach.  Essentially, we skipped the cereal and purees and jumped straight to finger food, for a two reasons:

1) we hate cooking, so preparing separate baby food was a traumatic thought; and,

2) we liked the idea of her feeding herself alongside us, rather than us shovelling food into her face.

This approach has to do with our general laziness, but also to do with acknowledging that Fraggle is a person with independence and free will.  But mostly the laziness thing.

And so I bring you: the truth about baby-led weaning.

("Truth" is a relative term, as in: it's my truth, and I'm no expert.  But I assure you it isn't false.  Or at least I wouldn't lie.  About this.  Although, there is a distinct possibility that the absence of adult interaction has skewed my view of reality.)

Tip #1 - Read the book
But maybe buy it used. If you're already on board with the whole my baby should just feed herself philosophy, then you don't need the propaganda.  The book spends a lot of time convincing you how crazy you are if you don't choose baby-led weaning, with very little time teaching you how to actually implement this genius idea.

Tip #2 - It's messy, get over it
Hubby dislikes Fraggle's grubby food fingers and the pile of sloppy mess spread across her highchair and caked onto the floor.  I could care less.  I just hand-bomb that goop like it's my job (because it kind of is).  I take one cloth, wipe her face and hands, then her chair, then the floor.  One cloth, moving on.

Tip #3 - She didn't choke
Each parent has a certain level of comfort with certain things.  I'm (irrationally?) afraid of jolly jumpers, but choking doesn't worry me.  I might be unfit, but I trust her gag reflex to push out any food that isn't quite right.  If it worries you, stick with purees.  But keep in mind that by six months, rugrats are far more capable of eating and digesting solid food (rather than at four months, when babies used to start cereal).  Also, I actually think learning to chew before swallowing is helpful. I suspect switching from puree to solids is challenging.

Tip #4 - Don't expect too much too fast
As with all of my parenting decisions, I second-guessed myself hourly.  For six weeks, I watched Fraggle chew a ton of food but swallow very little, while her cohorts inhaled giant spoonfuls of mashed goodness.  HOWEVER, by the time she grew two teeth (around eight months) and figured out what we were trying to accomplish (um, eating) she was feeding herself large volumes of hamburgers, avocados, and sweet potatoes and LOVING IT - while my friends were trying to sneak peas into their babies' yogurt.  Also, be patient for the pincer grip, which may actually develop quickly with lots of practise.  Like all aspects of baby-raising, it gets better precisely when you think it never will.

Tip #5 - Roll with it
Some people prefer a hybrid approach - some finger food, some sauce.  The book will tell you that makes little sense, and I think I agree.  Jumping back and forth seems like an unnecessary and confusing endeavour.  The bottom line is that after a few weeks, Fraggle was eating more than she would have been otherwise, and we were all happier.  Just do what your baby seems to want.  For example, Fraggle likes those store-bought puree packets.  This works for me because it tops her up after dinner and I don't have to make it.  It works for her because she can just suck the mush out herself, as much as she wants, and then throw it on the floor to spray across the room.  Win-win?

Tip #6 - What to make and how to make it
The book claims you can give your baby whatever you're eating.  I'm here to tell you that isn't exactly true, at least for the first few months.  Just don't get discouraged.  The little turd will be eating you out of house and home before you know it.  For some more detailed observations, read onward.  Otherwise, however you decide to feed your offspring, good luck and have fun.  Or get a nanny.  Whichever.

The Details

It was a bit of a pain at first, but still not as bad as blending food (in my opinion).  For example:

  • I had to prepare our food without salt and without bottled/jarred/canned sauces. A life without mustard is a travesty. 
  • I had to cut it into finger shapes. 
  • I had to cook it longer.
  • I had to take it out sooner so it would cool. (I still have to do that.  Obviously.)
  • Eating away from the house was a bit trickier, messier at least. 
  • At first there was a lot of food she simply couldn't manage. It was too small (like peas), or too awkward (like tortillas), or impossible without a spoon (like soup).  
  • Another annoying bit: she doesn't eat an entire anything, so a tupperware container stocked with half-eaten oranges and tomatoes lives in my fridge.  
However, there are ways to make food that works:

  • In the early days, leave the peal on fruit to make it easier to hold, like bananas, avocados, and oranges.  Just wash them well.  
  • The microwave is handy.  Zuccinni sticks cook quickly when they're wrapped in wet paper towel.
  • Meatballs are a godsend.  I make dozens, freeze them, and warm them before her meals.   
  • She learned to pull apart chicken and turkey breast early on.  I cook, cut and freeze.
  • Pork remains difficult to chew, but I suspect that has to do with my terrible chef skills. 
  • I found one brand of frozen burgers with minimal junk added.  Thanks to George Forman this was an awesome quickie meal.  If you make your own, make them very loose so they're edible. 
  • Eggs!  (Read the latest on eggs, but basically, they're safe).  Mix them with lentils for iron (but beware of gas) and cook them omelette-style, then slice.  
  • Carrots and apples are a myth.  They never get soft enough to chew, even when cooked.  Bell peppers and non-ripe pears presented the same problem until she was old enough to pick them up in tiny pieces to swallow whole.  
  • When in doubt, spread cream cheese on it.  This is also good advice for life in general.
  • Soft cheese like Havarti is easier than Cheddar. 
  • For someone who doesn't like making food, I seem awfully willing to peel her grapes. They're easier to eat and the skin actually does worry me as a choking hazard.  I slice them in quarters and then the peel comes right off.
  • Roma tomatoes are good in early days, sliced in hand-held pieces.  
  • Asparagus is easy to hold and the tips are easy to eat if they're soft.  The stems are too stringy so get ready to eat the remnants yourself. Also, beware of smelly baby pee.  
  • I steam sweet potatoes, but in hand-held slices with the skin for easy gripping. 
  • Cauliflower is softer than broccoli but both are good because they have a built-in handle.
  • Rice was impossible until she got older, but now it works - especially the next day after it's been in the fridge because it sticks together.
  • She loves berries.  Strawberries (if they're mutant ones) are big enough to slice long for easy gripping. Smaller berries need to wait for pincer skills. 
  • Pineapple strips. Mmmm. 
  • Penne noodles aren't bad in early days.  
  • She learned to pull the little green beans out of the stalk.  She's a genius.  
  • She likes frittata (potatoes, veggies, eggs, cheese). Just chop everything to the necessary size.
  • Mushrooms were impossible until she could eat them in small pieces because they're too rubbery (but I used to chop them up tiny in her omelettes).  
  • I never found a good baby cereal in cookie form, they are all impossible for her to eat.  It doesn't matter anymore because now she eats oatmeal on a spoon mixed with fruit sauce, but for a while there I was super pissed.  
  • Some people claim to make healthy muffins mixed with baby cereal.  I don't know who these people are. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

I'm on the #BanBossy bandwagon

For those who don't know what this whole "Ban Bossy" thing is, in a nutshell:

Ban Bossy is a campaign.  Its aim, according to its website, is to encourage girls to lead - without calling them "bossy."  It was launched by, a nonprofit founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to "empower all women to achieve their ambitions."  Sandberg is building on her book's message with partners like the Girl Scouts and Beyoncé to, well, #BanBossy.

"I'm not bossy.  I'm the boss."


Now that we're all caught up, I want to be clear:  I LIKE this campaign.

True, no campaign is perfect.  No campaign reaches all the right people in all the right ways.  True, there are things to be said about the appropriateness of any role model/spokesperson (including Beyoncé, whose recent Grammy performance was incredibly impressive but also very sexual).

However, this is a message that makes sense.  It's a message about empowering women and girls, about strengthening our confidence and our leadership skills, and about making it ok for us to be assertive and successful.  At its core, this is a good message, and I'm on board.

Unfortunately, (and this is where I jump up on the #BanBossy bandwagon like a squirrel on peanut butter; or like me on peanut butter), there are those making arguments against this campaign that in my opinion are fundamentally flawed.

Primarily, there's an editorial by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail entitled "Ban 'bossy'? Suck it up, girls".  I've also had some thoughtful exchanges with friends and other twitterers on the subject.  None of these opinions are wrong - I just have a sincere and significant opposition to them.

Critique #1: The word "bossy" isn't a problem.

Wente writes that the word bossy destroys a girl's "fragile self-esteem."  Only, she writes it sarcastically, as if it is the stupidest thing she's ever heard.  Well newsflash Margaret: any term that insults a child's personality shouldn't be uttered in his or her direction.  And yes, SELF-ESTEEM IS FRAGILE.

Yes, Margaret, we could also ban the term tattletale.  Perhaps also B*tch, Sl*t, Wh*re, N*igger, Pr*ck, R*tard, Fagg*t, and P*ssy while we're at it.  Those other words, though, are known "curse" words and have their own debate raging about context and reclamation (see below).

Words like bossy (or even tattletale, although it's fair to say that is not a uniquely male or female word) slip into the vernacular and contribute to a broader socialization of our children. Even if more girls are entering law and medical schools, as Wente points out, does that excuse discouraging girls from the get-go?  I should hope not.

These are not just words, they mean something.  A campaign that raises awareness, encourages critical thinking, and challenges the social construction is not the wrong approach.

Critique #2: Teach girls to live with the word and "overcome adversity"

Wente writes that being called bossy didn't get in Beyoncé's way, so isn't that what we should be teaching our girls? To soldier on, "overcome adversity and suck it up."

I tell you what, Margaret.  When your peers are hurling insults at you, you can suck it up.  You can overcome adversity and be better... 20 years later.  I, on the other hand, when insulted as a child would have judged myself and tried to be more likable.  Even as an adult I'm among those who work damn hard not to judge themselves but often take it personally when other people do.

For my daughter, I will under no circumstances tell her to suck it up.  I will tell her lots of things, but to ignore her feelings or dismiss the power of words? I don't intend to do that. Likewise, as Margaret seems to argue, I won't ban bossy as an idea. Fraggle will be strong and assertive, I've no doubt.  But the term as an insult?  Banned.  It's a good place to start.

There is no harm in being aware of the words we use and the social idea beyond their dictionary definition.  Words are symbols - like the American Flag or the middle finger - each having an implied/emotional meaning in the background.

Critique #3: Reclaim the word

This argument is an interesting one, made by a friend this morning.  I adore this friend and her perspective, but...

A couple months ago I said something stupid like "I'm a candy sl*t."  I didn't mean anything by it, except to be funny.  I do eat whatever candy crosses my path, I don't discriminate, and it can't be good for me... but what about the word?  My initial reaction was "It's all context!" or "I don't mean it like that!" And then I called bullshit on myself.

If years ago I banned the C word from my vocabulary, and then banned "that's gay!" followed by "how retarded!", why should sl*t be any different? No. These words have a meaning and I have no place invoking it.

This morning my dear friend made a fair point: she may not use a word but she wants to give others the space to reclaim it if they so choose.  Ok, good.  Except I have yet to think of a word that has been "reclaimed."  Even people who ironically or critically use words have not managed to undo the damage caused under other circumstances.

Further, I have no idea where the line is drawn regarding who can use a word and who can't.  Your grandfather is black so you could use the N word. Her Aunt has Down's Syndrome, so she can use the R word.  I am Depressed and Anxious so I can say "Crazy."

Sure, I'm all about context.  When I call myself Crazy I do it in an ironic and self-deprecating (hopefully humourous) way, essentially aiming to bring mental illness into the socially-acceptable forefront.  But it's still self-deprecating.  If I constantly called myself fat (in front of my daughter?) an impact is undeniable.

It comes down to using one's judgement and tact, walking an informed and critical line.  So yeah, I'll give others space to "reclaim" their words, but I have no idea if they're reclaiming them right.

Critique #4: She's going to hear it anyway

"People aren't going to read the article, and they don't have the internet, and they won't stop saying it."

Oy vey.  That's the point of an awareness campaign, no? Can we remember my first point? I LIKE this campaign, for the exact reasons you're noting.  #BanBossy is just a slogan.  The root of the word's use and its potential impact is now entering the discourse BECAUSE of that slogan.

True.  My daughter will hear it anyway.  And very true, she'll hear and see lots of things that I will discuss with her (The Little Mermaid included) - but raising awareness about the potential harm behind bossy as an insult is not a fruitless effort.  

In the end, let's get personal...

As a kid, I directed the neighbourhood plays, I edited the yearbook, I went to leadership camp.  I grew up successful and relatively well-adjusted, despite (or perhaps in spite of) the fact that I was called bossy.  My confidence (or lack thereof) and Type-Aer style evolved from a world of influence, not one word or one personality trait.  I still ended up Depressed and Anxious (aka Crazy) due at least in part to that leader-ness and to my drive to "overcome adversity."

None of that changes the fact that when I was called "bossy" as a young girl, it fucking hurt.  It was an insult, a sting.  It was something I didn't want to be.

We have lots of things to teach our girls, but to "suck it up" is NOT one of them. Neither is to skip an attempt to make a change because it probably won't have an impact so who cares.  We need to foster leadership in those who are socially and systemically deterred from it, minus the judgement.  A campaign that jolts the conversation is a perfect place to start.  

Friday, 28 February 2014

Tomorrow is the end. Fucking balls.

Tomorrow is the end - the end of Birthday Month. It wasn't necessarily as glorious as I had hoped (not exactly a 28 day wacky celebration), but it was still pretty great. 

My actual birthday was in fact last Saturday. It was a good day! Hubby tricked me into taking Fraggle downstairs ahead of him in the morning, only for me to find several gifts scattered around the main floor, beautifully wrapped and tied to helium balloons. He also planned a lovely eat-in dinner. We shared delicious food and lovely conversation in our kitchen, sitting at Fraggle's tiny Ikea end table (aka our temporary dining table during renovations). Dinner was followed by the one true birthday necessity - Dairy Queen ice cream cake, with lots of cancer gel icing. And, most importantly, I DRANK WINE. 

So, all in all, a pretty wicked day. 

I wouldn't call the last week of Birthday month much to write home about, but I did eat plenty of junk food, visit with lovely new friends, and buy an "I'm not thirty" outfit for the big night tomorrow. 

I'm am so looking forward to my dinner with friends. The best part is that I seem to have taught Fraggle how to take a bottle (!) so I'll be a little less worried about leaving her with my mom for the evening. A little. 

If I'm bein honest, though, tomorrow is the really scary part. Tomorrow makes it real. You guys. I'm thirty. Fucking balls. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Emotional schizo

Today I learned that parenting is one of the more, um, emotionally schizophrenic experiences a person can have. (And coming from me, that means something.) 

Today I flip-flopped from feeling to feeling like an attention-deficitted captain kangaroo. Emotions ping-ponged me over the head while the audience in my head hysterically laughed. I was: pissed right off, exhausted, tolerant, happy, impatient, lazy, contemplative, frustrated, bummed, exhilarated, refreshed, proud, thrilled, joyful, impatient again, curious, worried, anxious, lazy again, frustrated again, disappointed, sad, a little bit panicked, irritable, lonely, cautious, and now tense. There was also some hungry and thirsty in there, and I think once I had to pee. 

The point is, I had not anticipated how intense all my mom emotions would be, let alone how easily they would frantically run away - sometimes with me still attached. I can't keep up.  The only constant is how much I love her - which isn't even constant, rather erratically and exponentially accelerating - WHICH only increases my worry and general angst. See? Emotionally schizophrenic. 

Days like today leave me so mentally worn that the mere thought of doing this again with some other child that I've grown and birthed is exceptionally terrifying and seemingly impossible. I'm not sure how to take it all in... How does one absorb this? I feel like I have no room in my brain for anything unrelated to my mom-ness. 

This unfortunately makes Birthday Month a much larger task than even I had expected. Although I have managed to arrange some lovely celebratory moments over the past days (such as walking outside, visiting friends, or watching movies with Hubby), the truth of the matter is that most things I do feel like chores. Mostly because they are chores, and in some cases gigantic life-dependent responsibilities (such as shopping, baking, or children's hospitals). 

Some activities do feel like a brief respite from chores (such as watching The Young and the Restless) but these are basically survival tactics to which I cling for sanity. In any case, they usually get interrupted and almost always carry guilt right along with them. 

I haven't yet learned how to be a whole person. Right now I'm just a mom, very barely a wife, and basically nothing of a me.  

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Like Groundhog Day. Or that song by Meatloaf.

I'm not sure if y'all are aware, but winter is never stopping. It is just going to keep going and going into the abyss of forever. Like Groundhog Day. Or that song by Meatloaf. 

Up here in the Great White North it dropped into the minus 20s in November and it has never. let. up. I'm not even sure I saw the sun for a solid 9 weeks. I now share the baby's vitamin D drops because save me. 

I'm finding it harder and harder to imagine motherhood in a non-winter setting. I think? the first couple months of Fraggle's life occurred during the summer, but who can remember the foggy first couple months of a baby's life?  From what I recall, there may have been a river picnic, some Strollercise, and some 40-degree days that gave her a nasty heat rash. 

But into the future? What do you mean I'm going to play outside with her? What do you mean she won't be burried in blankets for a six-second walk to the car? What do you mean there will be grass? What do you mean she won't need socks? These are concepts I cannot fathom. 

Today I had ENOUGH. Today I had to imagine a world that was not a deep, white, salty, iceball - a world in which a city worker was not shoveling out the neighbourhood fire hydrants. Today I needed outside. 

I bundled that baby up like a tiny, fuzzy arctic puffin, plunked her in her stroller, and walked her around my 'hood for a good 20 minutes. My face got sore from the cold but it was only about -15, so basically a heat wave. 

Believe it or not, that was my Birthday Month activity for today. I needed the fresh air. I needed the movement. I needed the change of scenery. Most of all, I needed hope. "Look, Fraggle! This will be GREEN one day!" 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

I fell off the wagon

I fell off the wagon.  Birthday Month took a turn down the wrong path.  I consider it a problem when so-called "celebratory" activities shift from guzzling a beer and eating a cake pop to cleaning my bathroom.

Although Saturday was lovely (including both beer and lovely friends), recent focus has shifted from "Yay Birthday Month!" to "Holy fuck giant anxiety ball".

And now, as I type this, my crappy laptop space bar is broken sothiswholepostisgoingtobewrittenlikeonegianthashtag.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Birthday cake pop = heaven

I went to the liquor store tonight and not only wasn't I carded (booo) but also, the legal drinking age is apparently now those born in 1995. 19-95.  What the hell?! I was already head-over-heals in love with Hubby by 1995! (Granted, we were 11 years old, but still.) 

Fortunately, thanks to my perseverance and commitment, I made a serious dent in yesterday's list of Birthday Month activities. 

I did go to the mall and I did have the perfect yummy treat. Behold: the birthday cake pop. 

I didn't buy myself anything nice, other than a pathetic pair of fluffy white slippers but I did buy Hubby a children's book of facts on human anatomy. 

I did get a haircut WITH a hot water wash, but the salon's cucumber water is a poor substitute for beer. 

I hadn't intended on picking up dinner, but I did anyway and it was decent. But it was rushed and stressy too, so it doesn't count because UGH. 

Thank goodness, tomorrow's visit with friends promises to bring fun and laughter as well as beer to my Birthday Month celebrations. Hallelujah. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

I'm not ready to *exclaim* but I'm working on it

Birthday Month continues. 

I considered adding an exclamation point there, but I'm not quite ready to exclaim about my birthday. I obviously need to invest some emotional energy into a few truly exclamation-worthy activities if I want to achieve that sense childlike celebratory excitement I've been going for. 

Seeing as I've essentially sucked ass during the last two days in doing anything even remotely special for myself, I need to get moving. (Unless you count eating a second gingerbread cookie or cleaning my bathroom - which I almost do.)

So tomorrow I need to outdo myself. Voila, my list of upcoming Birthday Month activities:

1) Go to the mall. Buy a treat, like an icecream cone or a Poutine. 

2) Buy an item of clothing, something nice to wear, something new that isn't an over-sized tshirt conducive to breastfeeding or suited to a pre-baby chubbier me.

3) Get a haircut (sans baby) and close my eyes while she washes my hair. Make sure to ask for hotter water. Why is that water never hot enough?

4) Pick up pre-made dinner, because UGH MAKING DINNER. 

5) Have a beer. Or two. 

I'm open to other ideas if y'all have 'em. Go. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Fuzzy fleece sleepers shouldn't be depressing, but they are

Tonight's Birthday Month activity: going out to buy Baby Fraggle several new fuzzy fleece sleepers. 

Ok, not the obvious choice, but it truly wasn't about the sleepers. It was about leaving the house, by myself, at night, with a loud car stereo.  I also stopped at the bank and bought a McFlurry. 

There is, though, something very sad about the sleepers. The only reason I needed to buy them was that all of Fraggle's existing sleepers are too small. She grew out of them literally overnight. 

This is only one example of how quickly she is aging, and of course, how quickly I'm aging right along with her. What a cliché... They grow so fast. Well, I'm learning that clichés are clichés for a reason. She is growing so fast. 

After months of standing on furniture and rolling onto her back, and weeks of sitting up unassisted, she finally rolled onto her tummy - which was wonderful, until she decided she might like to sleep that way. So, with her face firmly planted in the mattress and my paranoia shooting off the charts, I sat and watched her nap most of the day yesterday. And do you know what I was thinking? (aside from "please don't suffocate")...  I was thinking: "Who ARE you?"

I didn't recognise this lovely little being. She was bigger and taller and she had longer hair. And she was sleeping on her friggin stomach. 

Who ARE you?

She's growing so fast, and I'm thrilled, but I can't keep up. She does something new every single day and yet stops doing something else. I miss her. I adore her, and I'm excited about all the fun places she's headed, but I miss her

Time is a jerk to me right now and my 30th birthday isn't exactly helping. But good god save me when she turns one year old. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

The year *after*

Part of the problem with getting older is feeling older. 

In some ways, this can be a benefit. For example, I like feeling a bit emotionally stronger, a bit wiser, a bit more me. On the flip side, however, feeling older also includes feeling a bit weaker, a bit more crippled, a bit less agile. 

Up until this point, the changes in my body have been gradual - a slow but relatively steady decline. Sure, this me isn't as tight or lean as the early 20s me, but whatever, I've been alright with that. 

Until pregnancy. 

Pregnancy beat me up. Not only was it risky toward the end, but it kicked the shit out of my unprepared and unfit body, and it did so at a rapid pace. It started with not being able to eat properly, moved onto not being able to tie my shoes, and ended with two months of "rest" and daily shaths. (Aka shower-baths.) Oh and then labour and delivery and stitches and hormones and breakdowns and oh good god save us all. 

My mind was probably stronger than when I was young, but not if you consider ignorance bliss (which may have served me well when pregnant). 

In any case, this year isn't only the year I turn 30. It's the year after the year I grew a tiny human and became its mother. 

As a mom, I feel so fucking OLD. Not only mentally and socially, where I'm a member of a new (super cool) club of parents - which means I relate more to the grandmas at a bridal shower than the bride and her friends - but also physically. Physically, I am so fucking WORN OUT. I'm tired all the time (although she does sleep 8 hours now!). My back is pinched in ways I didn't know were humanly possible. My knees ache. My neck aches. My head aches. 

The only thing that makes all of that not excruciating is the fact that it doesn't really matter. In a world where I have Fraggle, and Fraggle has me, I've got the mom superpower* that makes it all possible... even tolerable... even wonderful

But for chrissakes I'm in pain. I'm an old lady with kinks and cracks all over and I need a friggin massage. And an exercise routine. And probably a doctor. 

So. Tonight's Birthday Month activity was: a) a brief walk outside, providing much needed fresh air on a rough day; and, b) two pathetic sun salutations. 

And that totally counts. 

*See @msfreshfish's semi-recent post! 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

I like to exercise [my right to sit on my ass]

In case you missed it yesterday, we have officially entered Birthday Month - the month of my dreaded fun-filled 30th birthday.  My New Birthday's resolution is to do something for me every day this month, and to blog my progress. So hold on to your hats! And get ready for some really exciting blogging!

Yesterday's Birthday Month activity was - brace yourself - to order pizza.  Shut up, it was awesome.  I haven't had greasy delivery pizza since I was preggers.  Although, to be fair, I did experience a rather lengthy "order one large take-out Hawaiian pizza every week after leaving the doctor's office and eat it in the car on the way home" phase. The pizza last night wasn't quite as satisfying, but it was convenient.  

Today's activity was to be alone.  I let Hubby care for Fraggle while I went back to bed.  He then took her out grocery shopping (!) while I watched The Best Of Jimmy Fallon.  

I also shoveled the driveway, which was fucking hard given that the snow was packy enough to build a giant driveway igloo, had I had the energy to do so.  It was about time I got a bit of exercise.  I haven't exercised since, well, what year is this? Unless you count exercising my right to sit on my ass, which I totally do.  

In the end, I'm pretty happy with my Birthday Month success thus far.  I have no idea what's on deck for tomorrow but it will easily be as thrilling and exhilarating as a pizza, a shovel, and a nap.   

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Birthday Month

It's going to be my birthday this month, and it's going to be what they call a big'un. 

My 30th birthday will take place on February 22nd, and if you know me at all you could expect that I'm rather un-exited about it. In fact, my profile still reads mid-twenties because, well, denial.

Why birthdays bother me is a question for my therapist (of whom I've not visited in six months since the Baby Fraggle was born - when the Crazy induced by making an appointment, arriving on time for said appointment, and trusting a babysitter during that appointment began to outweigh the overall Crazy I live with on a day-to-day basis). In the absence of my therapist, I'm going to self-diagnose my problem with birthdays as the fact that birthdays are a marker of passing time

While I don't love my new wrinkles and grey hairs, I suspect I'm more concerned that my life is blowing past me while I spend so much time trying to stabilize it. While I'm off growing up, and marrying, and housing, and wifing, and jobbing, and growing tiny humans, my life is, I don't know, trekking onward. Life is apparently what happens while you're trying to get your shit together.

I try to remind myself that the number doesn't matter. In fact, it doesn't - I've been in my thirties my whole life. Not to mention, I'll actually be entering my 31st year on my upcoming birthday so I oughta get the fuck over it. 

But I can't. I can't seem to let this birthday go by without it meaning something - meaning anything - bigger and better than just "oh yeah I turned 30 and I didn't like it."

So here's what I propose: Rather than sitting around dreading my upcoming passage into what is apparently Hell (?), I am totally gonna milk that shit. I'm gonna milk it for everything it's got. 

I bring you... BIRTHDAY MONTH. 

This month, until my birthday party on March 1st, I'm going to do something that is just mine every single goddam day. Starting with this blog post (and followed by what will hopefully be a daily blog post for the entire month - because who am I kidding I totally have time and I've been fucking lazy for months) and ending with a couple dozen "today I marked the occasion by..." activities. 

I know what you're thinking. "Hey that sounds light and fun and easy in a non-self-judgy kinda way Marianna! Way to go!"  But the idea isn't for this to be difficult. I simply want to celebrate rather than mope. 

So here goes. 

Welcome to Birthday Month. I'm sure it will be a joyous occasion for all. 

Fuck you, 30.