Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Time

I e-mailed someone (who had posted to a local list saying she wanted babysitting jobs) about possibly babysitting; no response. How is it so hard to respond to my e-mail and say "Sorry, not interested"? Young people these days. Get off my lawn!

Getting exercise into my schedule is (as I've mentioned before) not as easy as it used to be. Sure, I could still go to the Y, but I leave Elle for 11-12 hours a day, five days a week, and I'm really not in the mood to add several hours a week on top of that. So I've gotten more creative. I use my much-loathed exercise bike, I've started the 200 situps challenge, and there's a yoga class once a week near my office. (I don't get to the class every week, not by a long shot, but an occasional yoga class is better than no yoga at all.)

The problem is-- and there's always a problem, isn't there?-- that the only time I reliably have to myself is after Elle goes to bed. Most of the time she's a good, sound sleeper, so when she falls asleep by 8 p.m.-ish, I have the evening.

Which sounds luxurious, doesn't it? No other kids to wrangle, no spouse to talk to. Just me.

Except it's me and all the dinner dishes, and then getting food ready for the next day. It's me and the bills. It's me and checking my e-mail. It's me and work I brought home. It's me and exercise.

Given that I should really be IN bed and on the way to sleep by 10 p.m. at the very latest, which therefore includes pre-bedtime ablutions, that's really not much time.

And it doesn't exactly work in any down time.

I was feeling really whiny about this the other day-- I need "me time," and always have. Being a parent, though, means that "me time" is last on a long list of things that matter. My time away from work, right now, is important as it relates to parenting Elle-- not as it relates to me having time to laze about on the sofa eating Cheetos and watching Law and Order reruns.

But sometimes, couch time is really appealing, and much-missed. Gym time, too. (I really loved the gym.)

I've been turning this over in my head the past few days, and what it's really come down to is that yeah, right now I have little or no time to myself. But given how quickly Elle's first year of life has gone (and it has gone so quickly that I can hardly believe it), the next 17 or whatever years will probably go by just as fast, if not more quickly. (And once she's older, even when she's still living at home, my time will of course be more flexible.)

In other words, the fact that right now I can't be as lazy as I'd like to be is just not a big deal. It's the blink of an eye, and she'll be out of the house before I know it, and I'll desperately miss the days where I was necessary. I'm pretty confident bad TV will still be around in 20 years, after all.

I think the same thing, really, about the various difficult developmental phases we've gone through-- yeah, it's awful for a day or a week or even, in some cases, a month. But then it ends and they're on to the next thing.

(NOT looking forward to the seemingly endless resentful teenager phase, but I'll cross that bridge when I have to.)

So yeah. By the time I finish up my nightly tasks and exercise it's well after 9. If I only get twenty minutes or so to myself, whatever. It's more than nothing, right? And my little girl is upstairs sleeping, and I can see her little dark head on the video monitor any time I want to. She is safe and sound, and her food for the next day is waiting for her, and her mom is in the basement hoping that an annoying exercise bike will keep her healthy enough to be around for many years to come.

My whiny need for down time is a first world problem, indeed. And I wouldn't trade Elle for all the bad cable TV in the world.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the exercise bike is calling.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Toddler Haiku

Why do you oppress
Me with your vegetables?
I want a cookie.

Sometimes I think you
Have fun while I am napping.
That is not allowed!

Why can't I pull all
The pots out of the cupboard?
On the floor is best.

If I throw myself
Off the sofa, I know that
You will catch me. Whee!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I may have said this here before (I'm too beat to check) but a friend told me, back when I was pregnant, that as a parent time flies-- but sometimes days feel like they go on for years.

It didn't make sense to me until, eventually, it did. Today was one of those days.

I just keep repeating to myself "Something big is coming up developmentally. Something big is coming up developmentally." Whenever there's upheaval in sleep, eating, and temperament, something's coming down the pike. It could be more teeth. It could be more words; even at her tender age she's already so frustrated that she can't tell me what she wants. It could be walking-- she's trying so hard to stand; she pulls up on things and cruises OK now, but she's trying hard to stand up from the ground and can't quite get it. I also think she's starting to transition to one nap.

Whatever the hell it is, please let it happen quickly. I am tired.

Even with today being rough, it was actually a good weekend. Elle is a terrific toddler, really. She's still fascinated with books and (when she's not half-dead with exhaustion) can entertain herself for a good fifteen minutes with her various board books, paging through them, putting them on and off the shelf, etc. I don't have a lot to compare her to, obviously, but she seems to already be a pretty self-sufficient little one who can entertain herself pretty well. This, of course, is awesome.

I think she's finally asleep now. Thank goodness. My little muffin really needs a good night's sleep; let's hope she gets one. Let's hope I do too!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not my call, truly

The single mom gathering today was nice. I didn't know anyone there but if you're in a group of moms and you all have young children, you usually find something to talk about. Even if it's diapers. (Still not interested in cloth diapers, thanks.)

The single mom group I've been part of since before Elle was born, however, is made up of different people than this one. The group I've been in for ages is made up entirely of women who actively chose to become mothers, whether through artificial insemination (anonymous or known donor) or through adoption. It was a proactive choice.

With the group today, while I didn't find out how everyone became a mother (I'm not going to ask, after all; if it comes up, it comes up), the people I did find out about had all been involved with their child's father and the father left when he found out the woman was pregnant. In some cases, the father is involved (to widely varying degrees) in the child's life. In some cases, not.

I got to thinking on the way home, and later as I put together dinner (BTW, the pot roast was a complete failure. Boo! I've made this recipe a dozen times and never had it turn out this poorly)-- what is better? What is worse? Is it better to know who your father is but know that he has little or no interest in being in your life? Or is it better that you don't have a father, but you have a donor, who has no option for involvement?

I mulled this over quite a bit today. As I was cleaning up after Elle went to bed, I realized: I can't answer the question. The answer is probably different for every child.

And the child is the only person that can answer it for themselves.

I can do this

There are days when parenting feels impossible. Overwhelming.

And there are days where it feels OK. Like today. There's a pot roast in the crock pot (whether Elle will eat it or not, who knows). The mess in the house is at a manageable level. The laundry is done. Not put away, but done. We've read a couple of books together and played and had a pretty good breakfast (FYI, today strawberries are EVIL. Despite the fact that she'll eat them at the sitter's house. Whatever). We have a single mom picnic later today, and it's local-- I don't have to schlep into the city, even. The sun is out and maybe we'll take a nice long walk later. She's winding up her morning nap now.

I am blessed. Tired, but blessed. On this day, especially, I give thanks.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My little bookworm

Elle's new favorite thing: she likes to "read" to you. Great long unintelligible strings of consonants and vowels, with inflection and pauses and emphasis, and even checking for understanding. She turns the pages, and the story she's telling you changes with each page.

This can go on for 20+ minutes. Per book, and she likes to read multiple books.

It is ridiculously, ridiculously adorable. I need to get it on video (although she spots the camera and whoosh, short attention span theatre!).

Clearly, she's a genius.

I just love the age/stage Elle's at right now. Verbal, inquisitive, friendly-- she's just a treat every single day. But I looked at a very recent picture of her and thought "Holy crap, she's a full-fledged toddler." There's no baby in there any more, at all.

Twice a year, there's a consignment sale that benefits a local charity. I sold some of Elle's things there last spring and am planning to sell stuff this fall, as well. You don't make a ton of money, but it's something, and it goes straight into Elle's tiny savings account.

They sell stuff on a seasonal basis, so last night I pulled out Elle's outgrown clothes from last winter so I could start tagging them. Oh, my goodness. Oh. Those little six-month sleepers; I doubt she could even get one of her legs into them now. How is it even possible? How does it go so quickly?

This morning she was standing up in her crib, smiling and talking to me a mile a minute, and I just had to go over and kiss the top of her head over and over, breathing her in.

Don't grow up too fast, baby girl. Give me just a few minutes to drink you in as you are today, before you go off changing into someone new.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Whoop de doo

Last week, a friend (not someone who reads this) posted on Facebo0k about how she made it to a store with her baby all by herself, and the baby was good the whole time. Apparently, going to the store alone with an infant is something to be celebrated.

(To be fair, she was also celebrating having found something on sale*, but the feel of the status update was definitely more "ooh, I did the store all by myself with the baby and no husband!")

Well, welcome to my life.

I love when friends want to go shopping with us, but 95% of the time, it's me plus an increasingly squirmy toddler strapped into the cart, moving as fast as we can. Elle likes shopping, sure, but the toddler attention span is (in)famous and not to be messed with. Our regular checker at the Tar.get knows to quickly scan whatever item she's entertaining herself with and GET IT BACK TO HER, in order to avoid Drama.

Being a single parent means many things, including getting things done with a little one in tow. You just... do it.

I guess when you don't have to "just do it," it's something to celebrate?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One of the best parts of being a parent is seeing the world through their eyes. Elle is absolutely delighted by so many things-- things that are completely ordinary to those of us who've been around a while.

Here are just a few of the things that make her incredibly happy:

- Me, coming into her room in the morning when it's time to get up. Somehow, I birthed a morning person.

- Putting on socks. (She's already trying to put them on herself. Clearly, she's brilliant.)

- Asking her "do you want to brush your teeth?" She loves this. I think it's because she uses the kid toothpaste and it tastes like bubble gum, but it still cracks me up when she breaks into a huge smile after you ask the question. I should really get it on video.

- Fabric. She finds something-- a cloth napkin, a t-shirt that missed the hamper, anything-- and whips it around. Puts it on her head. Wraps it around her neck. She just loves playing with it; the drawer with napkins and a table runner in it is way more fun than 85% of her toys. This makes folding and putting away laundry a very non-straightforward process, but I've discovered I don't really care. She has so much fun-- I can put the laundry in neat piles later.

Simple pleasures. But watching how much fun life in general is for my girl, it's not so simple after all.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shake that booty

I'm about two years late to the party, but Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" is one heck of a fun song. I have no interest in her or her persona. I just like to dance around every now and then.

Elle will shake her booty, too, depending on the song. It's so cute. Once she's walking (still not, though she's standing and pulling herself up, so she's on the way) I hope it continues.

I have a terrible weakness for Bollywood movies and music, as well. In our house, the item song "Sheila Ki Jawani" is cause for lots of laughter and booty-shaking. I don't need to know what the singer is actually saying; I'm all about the beat. And Elle thinks it is HILARIOUS; the chorus, in particular. Probably because I ham it up.

When I have some spare time (ha! ha ha ha HA!) I need to sit down and put together a dancing playlist on my IPod. I will love it so much if we are a dancin' kind of family, and I'd like to encourage it however I can.

I'm thinking Abba, maybe some Michael Jackson. Bollywood. Lady Gaga. I'll have to look through what I have. Suggestions welcome!