Don’t judge me…

Don’t judge that I let my kid dress himself. Of course not, you say. Why would I? It’s an effective way to let them feel in control of their day and their bodies. Well, if you saw him, you’d be tempted to judge. Just know that his new linebacker girth is due to more than a half dozen shirts and several pair of pants. He thinks it’s funny, this month, to wear as many clothes as possible. So laugh if you want, but don’t question my sanity because three undies, two pants, and five shirts equals 15 minutes of peace every morning as he gets ready, without prompting, all by himself.

I don’t think that serving peanut butter and honey for dinner makes me a bad mother. I don’t think that serving it for lunch and dinner on the same day makes me a bad mother. I think, now that we’re on day four of peanut butter and honey, I might be crossing into bad mother territory. So maybe I’ll have Spouse make dinner. Know what he’ll make? Peanut butter and lemon curd.

Hey, I know it’s not wise or thoughtful to stick my baby in the swing so I can take a business call. I never thought I’d be that person. We wore Peanut every hour of every day. Poor Butter is only in arms or sling 23 hours a day. And I feel retched about it. But don’t judge me. It was a quick and productive call (not one thing about parenting is quick and productive) and he didn’t even fall asleep in the swing. Alert little bugger, that one.

Don’t judge my late night stupidity, either. I woke after midnight for the first early a.m. feed and found Butter and his little co-sleeper bed soaked. Thoroughly drenched. Confused in part by the dim light and placement of the wetness, grogginess made me absolutely useless. He was wet everywhere, front and back, neck to waist. Did he puke? Wet through his doubled cloth diaper? There wasn’t anything near his face, and his pants were dry. I stripped him down to his diaper and nursed him while pondering. And then I changed him. The diaper was bone dry, except for the waistband. I had apparently diapered him pointing up rather than down, and he peed all over his chest all night. What do I know…I don’t have that optional and ridiculous equipment.

We now rejoin our regularly scheduled rant…

already in progress:

…and you’d better call the insurance bastards to see if it’s covered.

As for you, Peanut, you are a very interesting introduction to the fine, fine phase that is Four Years Old. Nothing could be worse than Three, it is true. But if Three was all Mr. Hyde and no Jekyl, Four is the maddening experience of discerning what dropped hat sends you from Jekyl to Hyde and back. No, I will not pick up the toy you kicked across the room. You threw one, I took it away. You threw another, I took it away. Most of your collection is on top of the bookcase today, waiting to see which version of you comes out of your room tomorrow morning. So when you kick a toy out of anger, you get to pick it up yourself. No, you do it. Cry all you want; I no longer flip out when you’re in distress. A newborn has made me immune to your terrorist tactics. Butter is the antidote to my occasional Peanut allergy.

Butter, you’d better stop it. Seriously. Knock it off. I followed all your nonverbal cues, I did everything you wanted, and I got you to sleep. Just because I moved the slightest bit does not mean you can flutter your eyes open and start flirting with me. Yes, you’re cute. Yes, you’re still tiny enough that everything you do is precious. Your loud sleeping is delightful, your recent partial baldness is adorable, and your waste products are coo-inspiring. But go to freaking sleep, you little monkey!

And quit suggesting that you want to nurse just so you can gather huge mouthfuls of milk and the spit them on me. That’s not funny, despite what your brother says.

Hey, agents who have my novel and haven’t replied in well past the 6 weeks you promised: screw you! What is wrong with you? All the other rejections came within the appropriate timeframe. It’s rude to set a deadline and miss it without notifying involved parties that you need longer to complete the task. I don’t want your representation, anyway. This thing is gonna be huge, and so will the next dozen or so I write, and you’ll rue the day. You’ll weep, you’ll rend your garments and pull out your hair. You’ll want a time machine to take you back to when you first heard my name just so you can jump at the chance to take on all my current and future brilliance. You will self-flagellate, and you will be correct in so torturing yourselves.

Sure, Peanut, we can go to the playground. Sure you can climb that big ol’ thing you’re always scared of. Sure I can help you down. Just turn around and…no, I can’t climb up there with you. I can’t help you from up there. I can help you from down here. No, I can’t take baby home and come back without the sling. Even if I did, I’d still be short and unable to lift 35 pounds down from well above my head. I will stand here and talk to you gently for 30 freaking minutes, convincing you that I will help and you won’t fall and you can do it. And after that interminable period of patience and goodness and model mothering, during which I have to take two time outs to keep from beating you and one to nurse your brother, I will grab you by the ankles and pull you off the play structure. Yes, you technically fell. I mostly, kind of caught you, though. It was a slow fall. Are you hurt? No? Good. Come on. Time to go make you the dinner you request and then refuse to eat.

Dearest Butter:

Want to know how we can tell that you are loved?

Every sling and wrap that you ride in is covered in food stains. We don’t put you down, Butter bean, because you don’t like it. And we’re too selfish to put our hunger second to your comfort. That’s why the pesto on your blanket and the marinara on your Moby and the CheeseBoard crumbs on your Hotsling. You had beans and rice nestled in your neck when you were three hours old because Mama needed a burrito after 47 hours of labor but wouldn’t put you down even for a minute.

Your brother declared today that he’s tired of Mom and Dad being with you, and that he wants you to be just his. So he has plans to move to a house where it’s just the two of you. And even though he refuses to feed or clothe or wipe me, he said he will dress you and wipe your bottom and feed you candy sometimes. And, “if he looks like he’s going to die I’ll feed him something with protein, like a sandwich with almond butter.”

Mama invented something for you. Because the sounds you hear all day—chewing, typing, and occasional yelling—aren’t on the white noise machines available for purchase, she made a loop of the noises that help you sleep. She recorded tortas de aceite and blogging and cursing at your brother to play near your sleeping places. So you feel all comfy. You’re welcome.

You’ve actually had a few baths. Tonight you even had your first experience with Dr. Bronner’s soap-like substance. Don’t know why. You’re not dirty (except for the aforementioned burrito, but Mama dug those beans out of your neck weeks ago when she was in search of a snack). But you are just over the moon for warm water, so we bathe you. More often than we thought we could cram into our crowded weeks.

Tonight you went to bed with chocolate on your head. Not from mama, which is a first. No, tonight you had a small, four-year-old sized chocolatey lip print on your balding melon.

That’s how we know.

That which doesn’t kill you…

Spouse out of town for  five days.

My mom out of town for six days.

About one hour after they left, week three growth spurt began (a little late, which is not shocking, given the child in question). Feedings every hour ’round the clock.  Now entering day three of that super sweet milestone.

Peanut on a collision course with logic and basic social mores.

No chocolate in the house.

A month overdue on a client project.

At least the new washing machine works (oh, sure, did I mention the old one died on day seven of newborn at home?). The fridge is full of food other people made for us. The growth spurt has to end, as does Peanut’s rebellion. 2666 is almost done. The weather’s nice, the garden’s growing, and I can only feel about 20 of my dozens of stitches right now.

The weekend is clearly on its way up, right?

the little things

things I deeply appreciate this week:

babies who laugh in their sleep
babies who sometimes *do* sleep
people who cook me food
people who wash my dishes
people who do my laundry
peri bottles
central heating
indoor plumbing
rocking chairs
helpful four-year-olds
fresh sheets
understanding clients
thoughtful friends
intense four-year-olds who are trying their best
rechargeable toy batteries
Moses baskets

things I could really do without right now:
grouchy people
people who snap at me
nighttime flop sweats
The Part About The Crimes
advice to let a two-week old cry instead of “over” nursing
intense four-year olds who need to test limits
leaf blowers

Potential future careers

We’ve discussed before that Peanut Cacahuete Naptime wants to be a variety of things when he gets bigger. Letter carrier, worker, cheese maker, architect, nurse, helicopter pilot, fire fighter, homeless person.

I’ve started a list for Hazelnut, which he can ignore when he is older, of potential future careers based on his strengths now:
Professional Rodeo Nurser
Supreme Court Gallery Disrupter
Museum of Modern Art Starer
Long-haul Trucking Sleep Avoider
Medical Resident or Intern (or other unsleeper)
Porcine Interpreter or French Truffle Snuffler
Nude Interpretive Dancer (oh, please, don’t tell your mother about that one, H.N.N.)

The only field for which he seems ill-suited is navigation.
B: Hey, MOM! Come quick! There’s a nipple over here!
M: Um, Baby, it’s right here in front of your mouth.
B: NOOOOOO! It’s South of here! Let’s go! Get out of my way!
M: Hazelnut, it’s right here. Let me…
B: Stop touching my head! You’re keeping me from the nipple down there, somewhere way, way down there…Let’s go!
M: Buddy, the nipple is right here. Move your hands.
B: STOP!! You’re making everything too hard, Mom! You’re ruining everything! I know a nipple when I root endlessly in the pillow for one. See? This milk soaked cloth that’s now saturated because I won’t latch? This is it! I found the nipple!
M: Wow. you’re strong for a small person. But believe me, Babe, it’s right here.
B: Oh, thank goodness I got it. Right here in front of me. Right where I was telling you. Excuse me while I consume enough for three babies in the next four minutes.

If that ain’t rodeo, I don’t know what is.

it’s all relative

Which is harder: parenting one or two? In the first week home, two is harder. But I can, honestly see that will change.

Which is harder: labor or parenting? Hands down, parenting is harder. Labor is on my terms, in my head, and following my rhythms. Parenting is a clusterf*&# on someone else’s schedule, hostage to their demands, and in the service of exactly the opposite of what I want and am good at. Plus, labor was 47 hours. Parenting is 47 years.

Which was rougher: C-section or VBAC? The surgery. Scary and debilitating. Healing is a toss up, only because of the 5 hours of pushing a 14 1/2 inch head wedged under a pubic bone and resulting vacuum. But surgery much less my cup of tea than the VBAC, even with aforementioned 47-hour protracted vacation from parenting.

Which wears on you more: sleep deprivation or four-year old tantrums? The former went on for three years with Peanut, so tired is old news. The tantrums are legendary—nay, cataclysmic—and much more draining.

Who’s cuter? Gasp. How could you ask that? Of COURSE the one who is not screaming at any given moment is the cutest.

Which came first, chicken or egg? Egg, clearly. Some not-quite-chicken lays slightly mutated egg that gives rise to actual chicken. Yes, mama was necessary, but egg was first at being chicken.

When will you posts be interesting again? Not any time soon, sad to say.

Then and now

What I had forgotten, what I remember all too well, and what’s brand new….

I know, because we raise sling babies who are always close and usually sleep (in the daytime) on a parent, there will always be food on baby’s head or clothing. But I don’t remember Peanut being covered with as much  chocolate as Hazelnut has been.

I remember about feedings every two hours, but I had forgotten that means one hour between feeds. And that every-hour cluster feeds mean non-stop.

I’d forgotten how long the Netflix wait when there’s a newborn to peel…

I remembered how heartbreaking is the cry of a brand new baby, but never thought that this time I’d be willing to pee first and nurse second.

I’d forgotten how forgetful I get after meeting a new baby.

I remember how much help can be in the wee hours, but since I know now, after a firstborn with thrush and nipples with Raynaud’s, that ANY breastfeeding problem can be fixed with expert help, that I can logon in the morning and still be fine.

I remember being grateful for help, but I don’t remember bursting into tears so often about people’s generosity. I’ve cried several times over some sesame cashew noodles and homemade bread delivered last Sunday. After reading each email or getting a call of support, especially from those pressed for time and struggling i their own lives. I cried twice over surprise Zachary’s pizza that showed up courtesy of a lovely friend and family conspiracy. Countless times over seeing a clean sink and drying dishes each time my mom comes over. And frequently about the preschool cooperative’s plan to deliver a dinner every night for two weeks just because they have so many volunteers who want to help.

I recall feeling overwhelmed, but I didn’t know this time would be much calmer, much more fully present and in the cuddly moment. Maybe it’s the change in geography, wherein I’m home and surrounded by people and places I deeply love. I’m much less caught up in fear and loneliness and panicked “should” and “have to”s because I now know that everything changes, often daily, and today’s ratio of tummy time to music time to sling time will matter not one whit in four years as long as Hazelnut is loved and heard and warmed and fed.

Screaming, wakeful, gassy, pained babies do get to 13 weeks and do settle into life here eventually. I was too freaked out to know that the first time.

This time I just wonder if scared, angry, intelligent, head strong preschoolers settle eventually, too.

Eh. Probably.

Preschool sized to-do list

Many well-meaning people keep telling me that having two children will not be as tough as I think because my son will be old enough to help. So I’ve put on my happy face and devised a list of things that I remember being daunting about a newborn so that my then-four-year-old can help:

Take over the nighttime feedings. Or at least one. You’re hereby assigned the 3 a.m. shift.

Please wash the laundry. We’re almost out of diapers, clothes, and hand towels. Well, maybe not, but the hand towels are your fault, so do it all, please.

Make Mommy a snack, please. I’m about to pass out from hunger. Sure you can make yourself one, too. Remember: protein and veggies and fruit. Yes, ice cream is fine, as long as it has strawberries in it.

Hold the baby while I pee, please. Hold its head. Not like that.

Watch the baby while I shower, please. Make sure to entertain, cuddle, chat, and nurse baby, who always seems to want all of those when mommy has soap on her.

Please read Mommy a book. My eyes won’t stay open long enough to see the words. Yes, we’re in the middle of Absalom, Absalom.

Read the baby a book, please. I’ve already covered all these lame-ass texts with you, so show that it was worth it to read the same book 4,812 times in one month.

Please change the baby’s diaper. Mommy doesn’t like poop. It’s very special and wonderful when you make it, but gross from anyone else.

Please also clean the litter box. See above reason. Poop is never cute from cats. Oh, there’s some over there, too? Yes, please. Clean that, too.

Please suck the snot from the baby’s nose. I know it’s screaming like its limbs have been severed. That’s why I’m going in the other room.
Please talk to the baby in a high-pitched voice. Singsong talking makes Mommy want to gouge her eyes out.

Please vacuum.

Please mop the floors.

Please do the dishes.

Please clean the bathroom.

Please change the sheets.

Please change the sheets again. Baby puked.

Please do the laundry again.

Please change the baby’s diaper again.

Please pack the diaper bag so we can go to the playground. Why? Because you deserve a little swing time for all your help, little dude.

[Those thoughtful “friends” were right that it’ll be easier this time. That tiny list certainly seems manageable for a four year old. Can you think of any more of the daunting newborn stuff that can be done by a preschooler? Other than attending to his own physical, mental, developmental, and emotional needs, of course. It would just be silly to ask him to do that.]