Sunday, August 12, 2012

I know many parents that have trouble watching the news, or reading true crime stories, or doing things like that any more.  They could before they had kids.  Now, with kids, it’s too hard.

Every story you see about an abused child could be your child.  Every teenage drug overdose could, someday, be your teenager.  The kinds of things that can go horribly wrong is, honestly, too much sometimes.

I said to a friend at work, who has two adult boys who seem to be nice, well-adjusted, good, employed kids:  “You must thank God every day that your boys turned out well.”  And she said she did.  Every day, she gives thanks that they are healthy, happy, productive members of society.

The sheer number of things that can go wrong is breathtaking, and the fact that probability is on your side is not particularly comforting.  Sure, way more kids turn out fine than turn out to be screwed up.  But the path to getting there—to knowing that your child is going to be OK—is terrifying and heartbreaking and really freaking hard.  When you’re a single parent, it’s even harder, because it is 125% on YOU.  There’s no one sharing the fear—sure, there are other people who love your child, and hope that your child succeeds, but it’s not the same.

I watch Elle sometimes.  She’s so inquisitive and thoughtful and funny.  She’s increasingly adventurous.  She remembers things—so many things, in some cases things I wish she’d forget.  She’s constantly asking questions and more and more drawing her own conclusions.  She has clearly stated likes and dislikes.  She is taking on the world every day, figuring out her place in it, and claiming it for her own.

I hope all of that energy and intelligence and sass goes in the right direction.  I hope I can help her become the amazing woman I know she can be.  It’s a serious responsibility, and it’s a privilege.

Friday, August 10, 2012

In one week,  we leave for a short (five night) vacation with friends.  We're renting a house.  Not on a lake, but not far from one, and the setup looks perfect for one couple, two singles, and a toddler.

Plus, the house has a screened-in porch, which may not be technically necessary, but is going to be awesome.

We took a two-night trip to visit the lake house of friends last weekend (the sitter was off) and Elle loved the beach and the sand, and got more and more brave with each moment that passed.  So I'm looking forward to being able to spend a bit more time

My parents are coming over and staying in a B&B for a couple of the nights we're there.  Of course, it's gone from "we'll be in town, we'll get together for dinner once, we don't need to spend all the time together" to "what are we doing for dinner every night?"

This really wasn't intended to be a family vacation with them.  Oh, well.  It's still a vacation.


On our mini-vacation last week, I tried out sleeping in the same room as Elle.  Hahahaha.  Let's just say we won't start cosleeping anytime soon.  Elle wakes up between sleep cycles; most nights, in her own room, she goes right back to sleep.  Sometimes she'll make a little noise, but she's out again very quickly.

When Mama's in the room, she remembers.  She wakes up, sits up, and wants to par-tay.  It's really funny, unless it's 2:30 in the morning and you're tired...

So yeah.  No cosleeping in this family.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Help! Help!

Elle's new thing:   “Help!  Help, Mama!  Help!” said in a very dramatic tone of voice.

The first couple of times, I thought something was really wrong and rushed to wherever she was; now I realize that for some reason this is her standard response to wanting some kind of assistance (not usually NEEDING it, but WANTING it) and so I don’t take it as seriously.  Eventually I need to work with her on the whole concept of “crying wolf,” but right now I just find it hilarious to hear this little wee voice piping “Help!  Help!” when it’s often something as serious as the fact that she wants someone else to pick up her crayon for her.

I have a tiny Drama Mama.  I have no idea where that comes from.  None.  Nope.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Know your limitations

Things I am not and will never be

1. A model.

2. Skinny like a model.

3. Patient.

4. Patient like Caill0u's mother.  Or any of the adults on that godforsaken show.  They are calm, patient and loving even when I (or any real-life parent, I suspect) would be shrieking like a crazed harpy.  They’d probably just laugh warmly and say “Oh, Call0u!” if he accidentally set off a nuke.

5. Rich.

6. Someone who cooks each meal from scratch using only wholesome organic ingredients.  ("Just whip up a couple of batches over the weekend!" Bitch, please.  You are obviously married and/or have household help.  Or you have a child that takes three-hour naps.  Or all of the above.)

7. Good at going to bed early.  We’ve been having some two-year-old sleep regression at Casa Plus One, and by the time she’s down, I have so little time to myself that I am reluctant to go to bed.  I need to get over that.  Sleep = health = really, really important.

Speaking of #7, yawn.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy, happy birthday

I have been absent for a while!  Combine being very busy at work, a week of vacation at my parents’ (which was not precisely a vacation, which is another post), and me dumping a giant glass of lemonade smack on top of my laptop—- and you have a distinct lack of posting.

(I still had internet access; I have several other devices on which I can get FB, e-mail, etc.  But I don’t like typing on a netbook.  I now have a work laptop on a temporary basis, and need to figure out finances to see when I can afford a new laptop of my own.  It may be a while.)

The big news is that Elle is TWO YEARS OLD.  Two!  People tell you it flies by but you don’t believe them until all of a sudden you’re having a conversation—an actual conversation-- with your two-year-old daughter about Caill0u, and you realize…  wow.  Two.

I think I said this last year, but I'll say a variation of it again:  I have made it through two years as a single parent.  It hasn't always been pretty, mind you, but at the end of the day I have a healthy, happy daughter and that's really all that matters.  Just ignore the piles of laundry in the corner and don’t look at my basement, thanks.

Happy birthday to my girl.  I love you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Not the kind of overachieving I was hoping for

We're on Day Four of Sick House, which sounds like a PBS miniseries, and certainly is quite dramatic, but is not nearly as well-costumed.  Elle managed to combine catching a virus and strep, which has led to several days of lousy appetite, a refusal to drink anything but water, and general crankiness.  (On my part AND hers!)  The antibiotic took care of the strep quickly, but the virus just has to work its way through.

So far I seem to be OK.  We'll see if it lasts.  Apparently if you're going to catch strep it takes three days, and I don't see anything. Yet.

I'm used to the picky eating, but the refusing milk is just strange for my kid. Elle would do nothing but drink milk all day every day every night FOREVER if you let her, so this is completely not normal.  And she won't have anything to do with juice, either, no matter what I do to fancy it up.  She also wants nothing to do with ice cream, sherbert, or popsicles.  I haven't tried a slushy, but it's a good bet that won't work, either.

Friday she barely drank anything, but fortunately yesterday she was at least drinking water (not as much as I would like, but she had the required number of wet diapers, so...) and at dinner last night, she ate more than she'd eaten since Wednesday.  It certainly wasn't BRAT-diet approved, but if she's gonna eat Pirate Booty, Mama's gonna feed her Pirate Booty.  (Also, applesauce, which I forced into her.  I hate doing that, but needs must.)

At least she's been sleeping well at night and napping well during the day (I was even able to work from home a little both Thursday and Friday), so that's good.  She's starting to stir now and I am hopeful today's the day she goes back on her normal picky toddler diet.

This is one of those times when it would be much, much easier to be parenting with a partner.  There's no respite.  To be fair, I didn't put out a call to the troops (my friends) asking for help; I know people would have come by.  But with a partner, they're just there, and if you're trying to get medicine down your struggling toddler's throat there's someone else to help.  That would be nice.

But we're fine, we're hopefully on the mend, and I should get back to work tomorrow.  Right before I go away for the week of the holiday.  :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Elle in motion

I sometimes marvel at how smooth her skin is, how warm her cheeks are, how soft her curls are.  She's so busy that she rarely has patience for my hand on her arm or my touch on her face; she has to get on to the next thing and the next thing.  Her schedule is packed, after all.  I'm just a speed bump in her race to world domination.

And then, one night this week, she touches my arm gently, drawing her hand along it like I've done with hers, and looks at me and smiles.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I have to admit I've always been the kind of person who likes a routine.  I realize that probably makes me dull (and if this admission is the first time you've thought I was dull, then I'm shocked), but it is who I am.  I love getting away and doing new things, but on a regular basis I like a fairly predictable life.

As a single person, this probably meant I was "not adventurous enough" and "too rigid."  As the single mother of a toddler, this is freaking AWESOME and the best thing ever and I WIN.

Show me a parent who says their toddler doesn't do well with a routine and I'll show you a parent who's probably not really paying attention to their child.  I am guessing there's an age where routine becomes less critical, but it's certainly not when they're very young.

(I do not consider myself a parenting expert, and I generally don't want to say "this is how you should do things!"  But this particular case is a big whomping exception to that.)

I'm not saying you can't/shouldn't be spontaneous-- that's nuts.  Elle gets a late bedtime or an on-the-go meal every so often.  (Note that I do not mess with The Nap.  Never mess with The Nap, man.  Never.  Unless you are CRAZY and have a DEATH WISH.)  But I strongly believe that young children, with their limited capacity to understand their world and even more limited capacity to control it, respond best to a home life that is structured and predictable.  They may not want a bath, but the fact that a bath is part of their evening routine (most nights, anyway-- ahem.  Don't judge me!) is comforting, understandable, and helps them feel safe.

Most moms I know, and parents I've known, embrace this.  After all, having your child(ren) on a routine means your own life is easier to manage; if you know they go to bed at 8, you know that by 8:15 (hopefully) you can pay your bills or wash your kitchen floor or relax and watch some TV.  But I know at least one family that has never had their daughter on a routine, and while she's a sweet, bright little girl, she is also a holy friggin' terror.  Elle can have some truly monumental meltdowns, but this girl's put Elle's to shame.

I understand the need to continue living as you lived pre-baby, but that's not always possible.  Or wise.

And I think what it's important to remember is that it is not always going to be like this.  Routine will not always rule the world.  You will not always be a slave to The Nap.  You will not always have to worry about getting home in time to do a quickie version of the bedtime routine, in hopes that you are able to do this before your child becomes so overtired that sleep is only a mirage.  You will not always have to have a baggie of Cheerios in your bag or a sippy of water in your tote, because eventually your child will be old enough to say they're hungry or thirsty (not demonstrate it with a meltdown) and you can grab them a bottle of water and let them know you'll eat when you get home.

The challenges associated with a small child are, fortunately, temporary.  I know they give way to new challenges, of course.

But for now, in my house I suck it up and get Elle by her regular bedtime as much as I can.  In the long run, it's best for everyone.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My life

I was talking to a co-worker today, and we somehow got on the topic of parenting.  "I wish," she said, "that someone had just told me that I was going to be tired all the time."

I know this isn't the most profound statement ever made about parenting, but it just rang true somehow in a very real way.  I can take all the "me time" I want, I can have friends watch Elle to give me a break, I can do everything to take care of myself.  No matter what, I'm pretty much tired all the time, deep down in my bones.

I am not saying this to complain, either.  I'm saying this like I might say that it's raining right now, or that I love brightly colored shoes.  It's just a fact.  A fact of life.  Of my life, like my terrible curly hair or my poor vision or my pink-painted toenails.

This is my life.  It's a good life.  It is not where I expected to be, no.  But it is where I want to be right now.

Even if I am always tired.

Friday, May 25, 2012


There's a single mom out there in the SMC-verse who's trying for #2.  She's hopeful and excited and I'm glad for her.

I am also a jealous, seething, green-eyed bitch about it.  I can disguise my envy in a number of ways-- she could barely afford the first one, how the hell's she going to afford the second when she lives on the razor's edge financially as it is-- but those are just fancy words to cover up the fact that I am flat-out stone-cold jealous.

Because she can try for #2.  She has embryos on ice from when she was younger, and an FET is a fraction of the cost of an IVF, plus you've got a direct sibling of your existing child.  I basically got one good egg, and that's my Elle.

I should note that she is one damn fine egg, and I am blessed and lucky and proud.  But because I started so late, even on megadoses of drugs, I got few eggs and only one that was viable.  You do this younger, you end up with embryos to freeze, and then you can take all the time you need (relatively) to figure out when you want them popped in there.  Heck, they're your biological child; you can even pop them into someone else, if you have the money.

All the money in the world isn't going to help my over-45 eggs do anything productive.  Even if I could afford the medical bills to get there, not to mention afford all the expenses of a second child.

I had a very vivid dream last night about finding out I was pregnant with #2-- vivid enough that I remember it, which I usually don't.  I remember, in the dream, worrying about various things relative to another child.  But mostly, I remember feeling really happy.

I am, usually, at peace with having just one.  I have an only child of an only child of an only child, actually:  three generations of total brats, one could argue.  :)  (Although my father is totally not a brat.)  Emotionally and financially, I don't think I'm young or strong enough to parent more than one.

I have my miracle.  I am so grateful.  But that doesn't stop me wishing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mother's Day (better late than never?)

It was a nice day.  My parents were in, so they watched Elle while I went to see The Avengers.  I am a nerd and proud of it, man.  It was awesome.

We went out to dinner that night, and I was reminded again how lucky I am.  Elle's a toddler, yes, but she's a pretty good toddler.  She stayed well-behaved through a dinner that lasted over an hour and a half.  It helped that there were crayons, and towards the end we started pulling random crap out of our various purses in order to keep her entertained, but she was exceptionally good (especially considering that she started telling me "Mommy, I done!" at least 45 minutes before we actually left).

She also enjoyed the gelato.  A LOT.  We don't do a lot of sweet stuff at home; her usual end-of-meal treat is fruit and maybe a graham cracker.  (I have a problematic sweet tooth, so I downplay the sugar for her whenever I can.)  But she went after the gelato with gusto, saying periodically with great satisfaction, "Ice keem!"

Elle just loves having my parents in town, and they love spending time with her.  I hope they end up living a little closer so they can spend time with her on a more ongoing basis, rather than just really intense long weekends.  They're intense for me, too-- for all intents and purposes I had not one minute of alone time from the Friday before Mother's Day to the Tuesday after, when I put Elle down.

People, I'm an only child.  I'm an "I" on the Myers Briggs scale. (Borderline E/I, but I nonetheless.)  I need my time to myself.  I just do, and given that Elle is such a good night sleeper, I've been able to have at least a little time to myself most days.  Of course, often that time is taken up with cooking or dishes or other household things, but at least I'm alone.  When my parents are around, we have to be together ALL THE TIME.

They love me.  I love them.  But my house does not provide space for breathing room.

But all in all, it was a good Mother's Day.  Talking with a friend at work this week, who has a daughter just about a year younger than Elle, we both reflected that we don't really think of Mother's Day as being for us-- it's still more about being for our moms.  I'm sure that will change at some point.

All I really want for Mother's Day, anyway, is a happy, healthy daughter.  That, I have.  I am very blessed.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

the universe

I keep a running eye on where Elle is relative to clothes.  We've been blessed with a healthy stream of hand-me-downs to date, and while I need to purchase things to supplement (socks and warm-weather pajamas, mainly, along with special occasion clothes.  And shoes), I've been able to largely get by on gifts and hand-me-downs.  We are very lucky, and I pass things on to a friend with a daughter nine months younger than Elle, so we continue the circle.

Elle's solidly in a 2T right now, and has an insane number of summer shirts, shorts, and dresses just waiting to be worn.  I also found a decent store of warm 2T clothing that will be good for this fall.  She's a little limited on the transitional stuff (i.e. long-sleeved t-shirts to get her through to the really hot weather), but I don't have a problem with it; she doesn't mind wearing the same shirt every couple of weeks.

In looking through my boxes (piled in the back of my rec room-- we're classy like that) I realized that I have very little 3T stuff.  She's long, so she's been moving up into the next size midyear-- which may or may not continue.  Who knows?  What I did know is that she has only a small amount of 3T clothing waiting for her.

Now, that's not a huge deal.  I can certainly go out and buy a stock of toddler clothes-- leggings, shirts, etc.  I shop the sales, get my discount coupons.  But I was starting to think in the back of my mind that I needed to plan for this, and maybe keep an eye open for clearance items, etc.  It's just something I wanted to make sure I budgeted for.

Then I got an email from a friend today, who has a friend in another state who has what appears (from the picture) to be a half-ton of 3T clothes, all fairly neutral in terms of season.  She's bringing them back to me after her visit there over the Memorial Day holiday.  This friend of a friend is thrilled someone can use the clothes.

Isn't it funny how the universe, somehow, provides?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Oh, she is just ridiculously cute right now.  Eating well (her menu is still limited, but I'm slowly broadening it by introducing a couple of new things a week with a backup plan), sleeping well, talking up a storm.  Running around like crazy (but has no interest in climbing on furniture yet, which I am totally encouraging).

She has started calling me "Mommy" more and more, although since her birth I have referred to myself as "Mama" and always use that phrase when I talk with her.  She still uses Mama, but not always.  Since I think she's pretty much going to decide for herself, ultimately, I may be heading in the direction of being Mommy.  I guess that's OK.

I think she's going to be a lefty.

She's starting to really like having a blanket on her.  She asks for me to put it on her when I put her down.  I've noticed that she also likes sleeping on top of it when it's kind of bunched up, which is very similar to how I sleep, though I use a pillow not a blanket.

She has great big explosions of affection-- for me, for Bunny, for random other toys or people.  She'll run over to me, fling her arms around my legs, and yell "MAMA!"  Then, a moment later, she'll run back to whatever she was doing.  She'll say "Thank you, Mama!" with different inflections, and laugh and laugh when I say "thank you" back to her with the same inflection.

She loves the park, the swing, the slide.  She loves running up and down the tiny hill at the park near us.  She is a happy, curious, verbal, loving, outgoing little girl.

The whole world is opening up to her, and she wants it all, right now.

I would like to take credit for the amazing little person she's becoming, but truly:  she's an amazing little person all on her own.  I am just lucky to be there to help when I can.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yeah yeah yeah

I am not feeling good about myself lately.  I feel fat and tired and old; the 20 pounds I have gained in the nearly two years since Elle's birth are not good for me either physically or mentally.  (Also, I'm short.  Short people can't gain 20 pounds with grace.  We get very round, very fast.)

I have noticed that I carry myself differently.  That I interact with people differently.  I am not happy in my own skin right now, and that leads to a lot of negative things.  It's a horrible Catch 22.

There's no question that I need to do something about it (I can't afford an entirely new wardrobe, for one thing), but today, as I tried to force myself to stand up straight instead of slumping, I had one of those moments where my brain was full of dislike for my body.  FULL of it.  It was just a really horrible self-bashing moment.  At the end of a long string of thoughts hating on myself, I thought "And Elle deserves a mother who's not a horrible cow!"

(This gives you an idea of what I say to myself in my own head sometimes.  It is not pretty.  It is not healthy.)

But as soon as that mean, nasty, self-hating thought went through my head, it was followed by another:  Elle could care less what I look like.

That thought stuck with me all day.

She could care less.  She doesn't care if I have fat rolls, or my skin needs a chemical peel, or my roots are showing.  She doesn't care that I have one pair of jeans left I can get into, and they aren't especially comfortable.  She doesn't care that I probably need to size up on my bras.  She could care less how I feel about my body.

To Elle, I am beautiful.  I am her mom.  I am the arms that hold her.  I am the hands that wash her face.  I'm the chin she tucks her head underneath as we read books before bedtime.  All that matters to her is that I'm there, every day, doing what I need to do.

I need to lose the 20 pounds, yes.  Elle deserves a healthy mom.  But I also, perhaps, need to stop letting the negative run the show, and give myself a little bit of a break.

I need to remember that the truly important voice is not the nasty one in my head.  It's the little one shouting "Squirrels!  Where are you?" as she runs ahead of me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


(Wow, this new Blogger interface sucks.)

Related to my earlier question about how Elle behaves in church...

This morning, I continued my post-Easter focus on keeping Elle away from the center of the action.  No wandering near the altar (it's a modified altar for the children's service), no wandering in the front of the aisle, etc.; I'm keeping her on the sides or in the back.  Or, for a little while, with me in the pew.

At coffee hour afterwards, one of the dads asked me "So where was Elle today?"  I explained I was trying to keep her in some less-distracting areas during the service.  "Oh," he responded.  "I missed seeing her.  I get bored when she's not around."

Now, one can take this any number of ways.  But man, I laughed my ass off.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More precious than gold

When I went in to wake Elle up this morning, she looked every inch the poster child for a precious, healthy toddler-- tousled curly hair, flushed chubby cheeks. She wasn't crabby I woke her, either; she was just sort of sweet and fuzzy, happy to see her milk ("mi-uuuk") and her bunny ("bunny," no enunciation issues there) and me.

I leaned over the edge of the crib and rested my hand on her curls, and thought "You. You are my treasure."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Behave Yourself

I have about five readers (and I love each and every one of you) but today, I'm soliciting opinions from those of you with older kids.

At what age did your children sit through a church service? Or, perhaps more accurately, at what age were you forcing them to sit through a church service?

Some background: I was raised Catholic, but am now Episcopalian. (That describes half my congregation, actually. I only know a few "cradle Episcopalians"-- most of us are ex-Catholics. Although, as my dad says, being raised Catholic is kind of like being a recovering alcoholic-- you're always Catholic, even if you're not practicing. Heh. Anyway, I digress.)

Our church is small but warm and supportive, and it has an active kids' program. We go to the children's service; it's short, and no one minds noise or activity. Elle is about as far from a shrinking violet as it is possible to get, so we spend most of the service walking around the church. She's quiet and well-behaved, and comes back for communion and part of the pre-communion stuff (she likes the Great Amen, and is a fan of bells), but mostly, we're active. She'll also stand in front of the little low altar (the space is customized for the kids' service) and watch, or dance if there's music.

My parents think "children need to learn to sit still in church." And I agree with that. I also think, however, that an under-two toddler is not likely to sit still yet, and I don't care-- as long as she is quiet, and not disturbing anyone, it doesn't bother me if she wants to walk around.

My mother actually said that she's quite sure that Elle is "bothering the crap" out of everyone at the children's service by her behavior.

Now, I wouldn't allow her to do this at the full-fledged adult service. That's why we don't GO to the full-fledged adult service. There's a nursery, but right now she's in her clingy mama phase so she won't stay there. Our church also has a little side area for kids, with books and soft toys, but she's not really at the age where she has the attention span to stay there for more than a little while, so an hour-long service is just not a great idea right now. I absolutely agree she'd be a problem at that.

But for the 30 minute children's service? Where kids are handing out communion and babies are on the floor?

Opinions, moms, please. (If there's a dad out there, he's welcome to chime in as well.) Do I need to start forcing Elle to sit in my lap? Because I can do it; I'm a stone bitch if I need to be. I just feel like if she's quiet, and not getting in anyone's way, that it's all right. She goes to church every Sunday. She's starting to learn the songs. She knows many of the other kids and parents. We are part of the community there, and she looks at this as part of our life, and she will grow up with this community and this faith woven into her childhood.

Isn't that my priority?

If I'm off-base, please tell me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wordy girl

Only a parent can truly understand how it is possible to love someone so much, and yet still want to drop them off at the nearest orphanage.


She can identify all the letters-- she sometimes gets confused about V and J, for some reason, but otherwise she has it down. She knows basic shapes. She knows most of her numbers through nine. She has absolutely no idea about her colors, but clearly, she's brilliant.

Her language is also through the roof. She puts together intelligible full sentences now on a regular basis. Sometimes, it's babble, but more and more the babble is understandable. This past weekend my parents were here for Easter, and my dad was in the basement watching TV. The stairs are gated off, and Elle trotted over to the gate and called down "Papa! Where are you?"

Sometimes, I think I'm mentally putting words into her mouth... and then I realize I'm not. She truly is just that verbal.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A letter to my future self

Someday, when Elle is grown and gone-- or simply doesn't want to spend time with her old mama any more-- remember this letter, read it, and believe it.


Dear Me:

I know you, and I know you well. Someday, you're going to beat yourself up about not being "in the moment" enough with Elle. You're going to remember only the days and times where you counted the seconds until bed/naptime, because you were tired, or Elle was tired, or you just wanted to get back to reading that book, or whatever. You're going to weep and wail about how you were too busy to just be, at the time in Elle's life where there was nowhere else she'd rather be than with you.

Future Me, stop it. Right now.

You did fine. Were you tired sometimes? Sure. Did you look forward to the evenings you had to yourself? Absolutely. Were you busy around the house and worried about what to feed Elle for dinner and thus not playing with her every second? Sometimes.

Does this mean that you ignored your daughter, or that you were a bad mother, or that you should have thousands of painful lingering regrets?

Hell no.

Remember all the times she sat in your lap and you read together? Remember when you laid on the couch and she piled blocks on your back, laughing hysterically when you knocked them off? Remember when you'd be sitting on the floor playing with her and she'd tickle the skin on your lower back, and you'd wiggle and "shriek," and she'd laugh so hard she could hardly catch her breath? Remember the walks, and the playground visits, and the nights you sang lullabyes to her in the darkness of her bedroom and she sang along, not getting all the words but always matching you on the held notes at the ends of the phrases? Remember how she'd tuck her head onto your shoulder, humming?

It's humanly impossible to spend every moment of your non-working life laser-focused on your child. What's more, it's not healthy to do that; you don't want to raise an entitled brat (hopefully, Future Me, you haven't). Don't beat yourself up over it.

Don't look back and regret the time you didn't spend with her. Look back and cherish the time you did.

Past Me

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Operation Bunny

A while back, Elle settled on a lovey. Say hello to Bunny, who was a shower gift from a friend of my mom's.

(And let me say: THANK GOODNESS her lovey is something I was able to find a duplicate of.)

Elle had a wide variety of possible loveys in her crib: two soft dolls, a sock monkey, a Piglet, a little blanket with ribbons on the side, a sheep, and a Pooh bear (original flavor, not Dis.ney, thanks). I know, I know, stuff in the crib is hazardous. I waited until she was older and mobile before I put anything in there, really I did.

Bunny beat the competition, and now Bunny is who she holds on to as she's falling asleep. I have to give Bunny a kiss every morning, sometimes even before I can kiss Elle. If she wakes in the night, she reaches for Bunny (I can see it on the video monitor) and he helps her soothe back to sleep.

Bunny is the shit, clearly.

Bunny is also starting to look a little less than fresh, so I decided to order a backup. (Which I should have done a while ago, but I really did wait until I was sure.) Since the tag was still on Bunny's tush, it was simple; thanks to Amaz0n, I had Bunny #2 within a week or so (free super saver shipping rules, people. Rules.)

The idea is that I'll switch out Bunny #1 for Bunny #2, then wash Bunny #1, and start rotating them more regularly so that, hopefully, Elle never realizes that Bunny is part of a set. The key was to do this when Elle doesn't realize that the newer, perkier Bunny #2 has taken the place of the beloved elder Bunny-- in other words, at night, when I'm putting her down in the near-dark. Eventually, both Bunnys will be fairly equally loved, and it won't be a concern, but the initial switch-- especially when the initial switch should have probably taken place some time ago-- is tricky.

Strangely enough, whenever I tried to switch out Bunny, it's like she could sense it-- I somehow had a little toddler glued to my side. This, from the toddler who normally chugs around the second floor without any concern for me or my whereabouts, other than checking up on me if I get too quiet. (She does this when we're on the first floor, too-- just like I'll go looking for her if I'm in the kitchen and I don't hear anything, she'll come into the kitchen looking for me if I'm not making any noise. Each of us likes to keep tabs on the other, I guess. Although in my case, it's to halt the path of potential destruction and/or the Toddler Death Wish.)

So Bunny #2 spent a couple of days in the medicine cabinet, until Monday night. Elle was busy moving diapers from her changing table to my bed (don't ask, it's a thing she does, along with pulling great armfuls of clothes out of her bureau and depositing them in my room) and I was able to make the switch.

As best I can tell, nothing was amiss in the love affair of Elle and Bunny; she cuddled him and fell asleep after her usual 15-20 minutes of unwinding.

In the future, Bunny will get rotated on a more regular basis. Bunny #1 is going to get a lovely bath, and I'll have to find somewhere to keep the Bunny-in-reserve.

I'm telling you, this is like a strategic spy mission or something.

My lovey was a blanket (we didn't even call them "loveys" back then, did we?). When she realized that the only time I was sucking my thumb was when I touched the blanket, it got "left at Nana's," and while I waited for the postman every day for about a week, eventually I simply forgot about it

We'll see what kind of run Bunny has. Right now, he's on top of the world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just keep swimming

The other night in the tub, Elle got very carefully on her stomach, balanced herself on both hands and one foot, and started looking over her shoulder to watch herself kick with her one free leg.

I'm not very bright, so I had no idea what this was about. "What are you doing, sweetie?" I asked her.

"I swih-ing, mama! Swih-ing!" She was swimming.

Periodically, she'd put her mouth in the water and blow bubbles, getting better at it over the course of the bath. She worked very hard on this swimming, only taking a break when I convinced her to sit down so I could rinse her hair. Every so often she'd say to herself, with great satisfaction, "swih-ing!"

Her last swimming lesson was a few months ago, but clearly they made an impression.

Monday, March 26, 2012


One of the things about being a mother that is still remarkable to me is that sometimes the only thing that can make Elle feel better is me. Me!

That still boggles my mind.

Sometimes she just wants to just sit on my lap and watch a cartoon. The cartoon itself isn't what she wants; she wants the closeness and the cartoon, together. I've noticed this happens when she's a little blue-- toddlers can get blue, too. It's not always meltdowns or cartwheels; sometimes they're in the middle, just like us. Sometimes they're just a bit down.

It's distinct and separate from when she wants to sit on my lap and read-- those are much more active sessions, where she brings me a book, then turns around and plops down in the crook of my crossed legs and we read the book together. (Sometimes I read, sometimes she "reads," sometimes she just flips the pages.) She'll often do this over and over with numerous books. This is obviously something she enjoys; she's not doing it (just) because she needs the closeness.

The other morning, she had to wake up far before she was ready, and just like I would be, she wasn't happy about it. She was kind of weepy, actually, which is unlike her. Most mornings when I wake her up, she pops right up and is her Elle-tastic self within a minute or two; I figure those are days where she was pretty much ready to get up anyway. Days where she's moany and weepy, I suspect she still had a bit more sleeping to do.

Anyway, this other morning nothing was making her happy, and she was sitting in her crib, legs splayed, not wanting much of anything to do with her milk or Bunny or anything other than expressing her woe at the general universe. I was pottering around doing getting-ready things, but I finally just went over and picked her up and kissed her and talked to her.

As soon as I was holding her, she was fine. I didn't put her on the changing table right away, either, which was a good case of mommy instinct. We talked a bit and cuddled, and by the time I put her down to change she had most of her equilibrium back.

Sometimes, I'm what she needs. It amazes me. It's a privilege.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's like they know when we're about to lose it

Monday night, when I picked Elle up from the sitter, she was sweaty and tired and crabby and crying. She'd had at least one major meltdown at the sitter's already, and had another minor one while I was chatting with the sitter. We headed to music class, hoping for the best, but it was not to be-- for the first time, we left mid-class and headed home. (The soundtrack to the drive home was "Toddler Howling," which is not going to be in anyone's top ten anytime soon; it has no beat, and you can't dance to it.)

When we got home, the howling continued intermittently, including a major full-bore balls-out meltdown while I changed her diaper and got her in her onesie for bed. (My neighbors probably thought I was using a cattle prod.) I actually started laughing at one point, because what else can you do, really?

We got back downstairs and I asked my screaming, blubbering, snotty mess of a daughter if she wanted a snack. She did, indeed, and suddenly the hot mess turned into a happy, chatting toddler who devoured most of a cereal bar and a pile of grapes, and even signed/asked for more grapes (it sounded like "moah gaes," but I knew what she was asking for because she was signing "more" and pointing at the grapes on the counter.)

Seriously, she looked like a cherubic Gerber baby sitting there in her onesie-- tousled curls, rosy cheeks, chubby thighs, seriously eating the grapes by carefully placing each piece on a spoon by hand, and then eating it from the spoon. She could not have looked more stereotypically darling.

And fifteen minutes earlier she'd been a bright red fountain of screaming snot and tears.

For the record she then went to bed and slept like a log. I had a tired, hungry toddler.

But I find it hilarious that somehow they know when you are Just Done, and manage to flip the switch just in time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A very random, train-of-thought kind of entry

I've started looking for a play kitchen and a little table and chairs set for Elle. I think the table and chairs set has a slight edge in terms of priority; I'm also not sure how I'd fit both into our main living area, and while the basement can eventually become more of a play room than it is, she's not yet allowed down there (and won't be for a while; it's basically a toddler death trap of wires and unachored bookshelves, not to mention a furnace). So I'm thinking the table and chairs will be more useful, even though she immediately gravitates towards the little play kitchens at both the library play room and the church nursery.

(I can also just get her some play food, which she can play with on the table, and that will keep her pretty happy for now.)

Anyway, the only play kitchens I can find available used tend to be the butt ugly plastic ones; the nice wood ones are mysteriously absent from resale. Is this because people love the wood ones and never let them go, or are the plastic ones simply more durable and thus able to be resold? ENQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.

The kids' table and chairs-- I think I want to buy that new, regardless, because I'm sure they get pretty well-used. I had been thinking of waiting till around her birthday, but I don't think I want to wait that long.

This is why I have thousands of devoted readers: scintillating conversation about used toys.


I toured a child care center week before last-- they offer a preschool program that's highly regarded, and I finally got off my tuchus and got Elle on the waiting list. (Some people put their kids on the waiting list at birth. Elle's chances of getting in are probably pretty lousy. Yet another "good mom" moment for me, coming shortly after I found out I'd missed the application dates for the two big two-year-old preschools in town. Great. JANUARY application for fall entry-- who knew? I do, now.)

This center actually offers care from birth on, but the infant program is tiny and highly competitive. It's apparently generally full of siblings of kids already in the programs, and kids of faculty/staff at the college they're associated with.

Fortunately, the class sizes get larger as the kids' ages progress, so there is a vague hope that Elle will get in-- probably not fall 2012, when she's 2, but more than likely fall 2013, when she's 3. I would be fine with her going there part time, and staying with her sitter a couple of days a week; I think it would provide a nice balance. Not to mention it would help with the cost portion of it.

Because this place? Not cheap. And it's not cheap for a reason. It's awesome. The facility was custom-designed for the program, so there's terrific use of space, wonderful indoor/outdoor balance, great security, lots of kid-sized accommodations... Basically everything you'd ask for in a physical space.

The curriculum is thoughtful and appropriate, and includes religious ed (the affiliated college is a religious one), which I don't mind. The director was lovely. Everything about the facility, including the kids there, felt warm and welcoming and right.

They feed the kids, too, which is nice. The sample menu wasn't exactly how I feed Elle (we don't eat much beef, and never eat pork) but it looked pretty tasty. And the thought of not having to prep food every single day is appealing. ;)

I hope Elle can get in, even on a part-time basis. I'll find a way to pay for it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

You don't know what you don't know

A really common beef in the single mom community is when other partnered parents say something like "Oh, (name of partner) is traveling this week! I know what being a single parent is like now!"

OH NO YOU DON'T. You want to piss off a single parent? Tell them you "get it" because you have two or three days on your own.

(If you have a partner who's gone longer-- i.e. on a tour of duty, or perhaps on a project in another city for a year at a stretch, yes. Then you get it. A few days, though, not so much.)

I actually don't get riled up about it any more. (I used to. I'm pretty sure there's at least one post here dealing with.) There's no point. They can't possibly understand what it's like being a single parent-- just like I can't possibly understand what it's like to be a partnered parent.

All we know is what we know, after all. So when that changes, we have every right to feel discombobulated.

People ask "How do you do it?" I do it because I don't know another way. Partnered parents do it because they don't know another way, and when it changes, of course it's rough. If I suddenly had a partner or someone living with me, it would feel luxurious to be able to run to the drug store once Elle was in bed instead of having to figure out when I can get there the next day.

(Speaking of which, note to self: I should probably transfer my prescriptions to the drug store near me that has a drive-through-- that never seemed important until now. If you have a sick kid, you don't want to have to haul them in and out of a store; bad enough I'd have to take her with me in the car to get the prescription anyway.)

So no, Facebo0k friend with the sick husband who has to handle your child all by your little self for 24 hours: no, you don't understand. But I'm not going to get worked up about it any more; life's too short. Your husband will be better soon and back on the coparenting bandwagon. Maybe he can get a job, too. (Whoops! Did I say that out loud?)

Me? I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fridge Magnets

Elle loves the fridge magnets. Loves them. She can spend 10-15 minutes taking them off, putting them back on, taking them off and putting them in a bowl-- they are apparently endlessly entertaining.

She understands that each of the letters has a name, too, although she still doesn't consistently associate the right name with each letter. She is better at the letter "o" than the others, interestingly enough, so about half or three-quarters of the time, she says "O!" when she's handling that letter. She usually says it in a very satisfied tone of voice, too, as if doing something with this letter is helping her meet some kind of personal goal.

It's pretty funny. I have to say, though, that I worry about how many letters are already under the fridge. I'm guessing quite a few.

What's so funny about this is that she has toys coming out of her ears (less than most kids I know, but still a ton), and it's the fridge magnets that keep her busy and happy for long, long stretches of time.

It might also have something to do with the fact that she (usually) plays with them in the kitchen when I'm puttering around in the kitchen, and she likes being near me. But seriously, you never know what's going to capture the eye of a toddler, do you?

All the fancy toys in the world, and it's fridge magnets.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Surreal moments in my life

A few mornings ago, Elle was on the changing table, and I was getting her out of her (very wet) night diaper. We had an entire conversation, with Elle talking and pausing for me to respond, and me responding.

The only word from Elle I understood in the entire conversation was "poo."

Apparently, she has a lot to say about poo first thing in the morning.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I am constantly surprised by things that seem to be conventional wisdom among parents further along in the process, but that are NOT widely known by us new parents until you run into them yourselves. Breastfeeding, for one-- how tough it is for many women. (This, I think, is fortunately becoming more widely known, so that new mothers struggling with it don't feel like freaks of nature. Now, if we can just get to the point where women who end up formula feeding don't get judged within an inch of their lives, I'll call it progress. Moving on.)

Everyone knows about the Terrible Twos, right? Well, one of the things that I have now run smack into is that, apparently, 20-24 months is peak meltdown time. Elle stumbled into this at 19 months, because she's such an overachiever, but 20-24 months is apparently the height of the toddler-losing-her-shit phase. Every mom I ask about this confirms it.

No one told me this! I thought I had a few more months, and that this stuff happened closer to her turning two! We need to update the (mythical) New Parent Info Manual!

It's unconfirmed, but I can't help but wonder if the 20/24 meltdown phase is linked (in all kids, not just mine) with the last four teeth often coming in somewhere between 18 and 24 months. As I've mentioned, Elle's been working on her canines for a few weeks now and having an absolutely terrible time of it; I am dreading her last molars like nobody's business.

It also has to do with their little brains knowing more than their little vocabularies are able to express. Elle's pretty darn verbal for her age, but verbalizing feelings isn't yet part of her toolbox. (I'm working on that hard, trying to identify feelings in things we watch or read. "Oh, look! Elm0's happy/sad/whatever!" I'm guessing this will eventually help.)

Anyway, Elle has discovered a variety of new, wretched behaviors to go along with this meltdown phase. She's really pushy with the other kids at day care, which is a delight. But my very favorite is the eardrum-piercing screaming that goes along with not getting something she wants. At home, I ignore it or laugh at it; in public, strangers don't appreciate losing their hearing.

These behaviors are far more common late in the day. After her midday nap is when it's the worst (particularly if she takes a truncated nap, which she often does on weekends). Late afternoon/early evening is pretty much Defcon Four for most parents I know; that long march till bedtime is brutal for many small children, even when properly rested and fed throughout the day. When planning playdates with a small group of area single moms, I generally suggest we do it after the midday nap-- giving the kids something to do during that time frame may not lead to a quiet, orderly play date, but they're occupied, and that's a godsend.

So we're getting through it. It's not easy every day, but I never thought that it would be.

I'm fortunate in that, despite everything, Elle is primarily a sweet, inquisitive, busy toddler who's endlessly fascinated by, well, everything. In general, she's a happy little muffin, working hard to figure out the world around her. If we have a bad evening, I know that the reset button gets hit overnight, and the next morning she'll be back to her usual good-natured self.

But those damn teeth had better come in. NOW.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I have a confession: when I'm really busy at work, I don't update this journal. That's because I will often jot down notes for journal entries at work.


No, I generally do it during lunch. So I'm not a complete freeloader. But I've been so busy lately that, even when I get a lunch, I spend it doing things like checking my trashy celebrity gossip blogs through Go0gle Reader rather than writing journal entries.

(This is one of the many reasons I'm never going to be a celebrated blogger-- lack of motivation. Also see: lack of talent, unwillingness to put kid pictures online, and a full-time job.)

We've continued on the wild ride that is toddlerhood around here. Elle has always been such a good, even-tempered little thing that these mood swings are a real shock to my system. It is clearly very hard work becoming your own independent little person, and she takes it very seriously. You can practically see her learning things; it's fascinating, when I'm not completely exhausted.

I've always needed time to myself, so by the time I get her down and clean up the kitchen (this is non-negotiable: I will not sit down until my kitchen is cleaned up, even if I have company), I'm pretty tired. And it's hard for me to really have the motivation to get anything else done until I've had an hour or so to eat dinner, check e-mail, and stare at the TV with exhausted, bleary eyes.

Given that Elle goes to bed at 7:30, I'm usually cleaning up/getting food ready for the next day until after 8, and I need to be in bed by 10, this leaves pretty limited zoning out time.

It is what it is. It's not forever. But I'm going to whine about it every now and then.


A few snapshots of my daughter:

- In our music class, at one point we take little jingle bells on sticks and jingle them against our knees. Elle likes to go around the circle of people, gently touching her bells on each person's knees. Sometimes she remembers to do so on her own knees, but mostly, she wants to jingle them on everyone else's.

- When we go in my room, where there's a TV (we don't have a TV in our primary living area), she will ask every time for "Elmo." (The "L" is finally making it in there.) She started saying something else last week, and it took me several days to realize that she's asking for "Elm0's World," which is the name of the specific segment on Sesame Street that Elmo appears in. General Elmo videos = no interest. She wants her Elm0's world, man. Girlfriend is specific about her Elmo.

- Sunday at church, she went around during the sign of the peace, sticking her hand out to people to shake and chirping "Peas!" She has no interest in the ritual part of the service yet (though the bread is pretty yummy), but she's getting the social piece down pat.

- This morning, she melted down on the way to the car. I realized too late that she wanted to walk to the car, not get carried. My baby can do a lot of things for herself now. I need to let her.


Part and parcel of our crabby teething toddler woe is not-so-great sleeping. She actually generally stays mostly asleep-- she'll make noise and put herself back to sleep within a few minutes, but she makes noise on an hourly basis. I only go in if she's really, really up, but I wake up every damn time she makes noise. You can do the math. I even run a fan in our hallway, but I still hear her most of the time, and I still wake up.

After a Sunday night of absolutely wretched sleep, last night I shut my door. Our house is tiny enough that, trust me, I'm still going to hear her if she's really, really up-- but the closed bedroom door means I don't hear her every huff and puff.

I slept for seven glorious hours, interrupted only once when I woke up at 3:30 wondering why I hadn't been woken up before.

New plan: shut the door. Every night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


We are having a rough week at Casa Plus One.

Part and parcel of having a toddler is having the toddler do things you don't like. My toddler is highly opinionated-- not unusual for a toddler, I know, but she is in the unfortunate position toddlers get into of having more opinions than she has words to express them. This leads to some undesirable behavior. Meltdowns. Getting pushy with other kids when they don't bend to her will.

I know that lots of this is typical toddler behavior, and it's been going on for a while. But she did such a Jekyll to Hyde thing as of Monday morning-- suddenly, it was like usual toddler behavior, squared. Then cubed, and tossed with a healthy dose of restless sleeping and separation anxiety.

The sitter wondered if perhaps her ear infection (finished antibiotics last week) wasn't entirely gone. She's a bossy little thing, but there's a big difference between my willful, sunny toddler and the entity that's taken over her body since Monday. So I made a doc appointment. It's worth a copay to make sure the ear infection is well and truly gone.

It's not her ears, fortunately. I don't want to keep putting her on antibiotics. It's her teeth-- all four of her eyeteeth are coming in at once. Hell, I'd be crabby too! The pediatrican was pretty clear that I should use Tylen0l as needed, even during the daytime.

Teething is barbaric, when you think about it. We just need to get through it. If nothing else, I'm glad to have a reason why my sweet girl is... not so sweet right now.

She'll be back.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Expressing her individuality

I say this without sarcasm: it has to be hard work to be a toddler. Really! You understand a lot but can't use it-- you can't talk about it fully, you can't reach things, you can't get places without help or you can't get there fast enough. Other people run your life, and all you want in the entire world is to run your own life. Right now.

(This sounds a lot like teenagers, doesn't it?)

Elle's in a phase where getting changed/dressed is, apparently, similar to being waterb0arded. Seriously. She loses her mind. I can distract her-- sometimes with a sock, or a toy, or turning on the TV-- but not always; often she's running away or rolling around the bed like she's trying to escape from a vicious torturer, howling all the time.

I have tried giving her the option to pick her clothes out; that really doesn't go anywhere yet. Basically, I have to hold her down to get her clothed or unclothed, and from the sound of it my neighbors are going to be calling the cops on me. Girlfriend has excellent lungs.


Her Elm0 love continues to grow. I had a return for Targe.t this weekend-- clothes she received for Christmas that are too big for her, and too warm for her to wear this coming summer when she grows into them. I used part of the credit to get her two Elm0 DVDs, and we watched part of one on Sunday night.

She was transfixed. She danced when he danced, never taking her eyes off the screen. Elm0 is hot stuff, man. HOT STUFF.

Now, whenever we're coming downstairs, she looks at me and says plaintively "Emmo?" Since we usually have about five minutes to spare before we need to leave the house, I usually reply "We can watch Elm0 later, honey," and she's fine. But when she's babbling to herself (as she does all the time), I often hear "Emmo" as part of her talking.

She's all about the Emmo. The rest of Sesame is just fine, but not nearly as compelling as anything and everything to do with Emmo.

Fortunately, I don't find him annoying. He's not a character from my childhood-- I'm old school! Mr. Hooper rules!-- but I've always thought he was cute.

There's this female fairy character that I find annoying as heck, though-- they do lots of CGI stuff with her, and she just feels like a purely marketing-driven character. Fortunately, so far Elle has little interest in her. All Emmo, all the time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


We've reached another phase where Elle is clearly working on all kinds of developmental milestones. This results in all KINDS of fun behavior, sleeping disturbances, etc. yadda yadda.

At 18 (almost 19) months, she's probably going through the expected "language explosion" (though arguably that happened a couple of months ago). Also, given her late walking, she's just discovered climbing and that is ALL she wants to do. Combine that with what I'm pretty sure are more teeth (canines) wanting to come through, AND the usual toddler mood swings, and you have a baby who will love on you one moment and lose her tiny little mind the next. Very loudly.

She wants to stand on something all the time; she'll stand on a little step stool in front of an ottoman, and play with toys on the ottoman, which is hysterical. She'll stand on her washcloth (!) in the tub. It's all about standing on... anything, apparently. This does not work so well on stuffed animals, but that doesn't seem to deter her.

One thing I've never had to worry about is her being clingy. She's one of the least clingy kids I've met; she's outgoing and social and so interested in everything going on. Sunday at church was actually the first time I couldn't just leave her in the nursery and take off (I don't always leave her there, but it's nice to be able to once in a while). We had a meeting going on that I wanted to attend, but I realized pretty quickly it wouldn't be possible. Every time I left her, after about ten minutes she melted down and one of the teens in the nursery had to come find me. She was fine playing in the nursery (so many toys! so many other kids!) but I had to be there, or it just didn't work. Eventually I gave up on the meeting, hung out with her for a while in the nursery, and headed home to grab some lunch.

(After which I got a three hour nap. I DO NOT GET THREE HOUR NAPS. Ever. You know something's not right when I do! And I had to waste a big chunk of it on her car seat, which is a separate entry entirely.)

In other news, unsurprisingly, she adores her music class. Loves it. She does her own thing most of the time, dancing around, checking out what the other kids are doing. As you'd expect for a toddler her age, she has all the focus of a gnat on speed. I even asked the instructor if it was OK for her to be wandering around so much, and she said it was perfectly normal-- that it was unusual that Elle was the only one doing so in this particular class. Apparently, usually it's most of the kids.

She has a good sense of rhythm already, and is really working on singing along/duplicating what the instructor asks of the kids, rather than just nattering along to her own internal tune. She's brilliant, of course. Brilliant.

And I'm probably projecting, but I swear Elle knows what I mean when I say "We have music tonight!" (or tomorrow, or whatever.) She gets so excited.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I am blessed with a good night sleeper (for the most part). Once I put her down, I generally have somewhere between 10 and 12 hours to myself. Of course, most of those hours are when I get MY sleep, and usually at least an hour of that is cleanup from the day/prep for the next day, but I generally have at least a little bit of reliable spare time.

(I know single moms with kids that don't sleep well. HOW DO THEY DO IT?)

On very long days, I confess that I look forward to Elle's bedtime. That's bad, isn't it? To eagerly anticipate seeing her on the monitor, sound asleep, all tousled and rosy so that I can do something meaningful like watch bad TV? Shouldn't I want to spend Every Single Minute with her?


On one of the single mom message boards I read, there's a thread where women are sharing their birth stories. I love this; I'm a total sucker for it, and I love seeing how different everyone's path was. But there have been a few women who've said "Oh, I wouldn't let the baby out of my sight! I wouldn't let them take her to the nursery!" "I wouldn't let them bathe her-- I didn't want to miss her first bath!" etc., variations on that.

I remember being thrilled when they took Elle and bathed her, and having no problem when they had to take her to the nursery for various tests and things. You could look at this a couple of different ways, I guess.

How I look at it is that, regardless of whether I was (or am) with her every single minute of every single day, I have always been and will be her mother, and I love her. Did she take a few of her early steps at her babysitter's? Sure, and I don't mind a bit. I'm just glad she was walking. I know there are parents that don't want caregivers to tell them these things, so that they (the parents) can believe they're witnessing all the "firsts" themselves.

It may be unsentimental, but I'm just thrilled when Elle has a "first." If I'm the second person to see it, so be it-- I could be a stay-at-home mom and STILL be the second (or third or fourth) person to see a "first."

I'm her mother. I will always be her mother. No one else can ever say that. If I didn't watch her first bath, I'm pretty sure it didn't make our bonding more difficult. If I enjoy the time I have to myself after she goes to bed, it doesn't mean I don't love the time I do have with her.

I am her mother, I love her, and all else is gravy, as my grandmother used to say.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


We had Elle's 18 month checkup recently (I'm still getting over the fact that this little person has been around for a year and a half!). All is well. She's a little late on some of her gross motor development, but given what a late walker she was, the doctor isn't worried.

She had to have a couple of shots at the end, including that DTaP one that always gives her a fever. (Yay Tyl.enol!) I've never been too bothered by Elle's shots before; they are done quickly, and she generally only cries briefly.

This time, she cried a little longer, but the worst part? Her sobbing consisted of "Mama mama mama mama! Mama!" interspersed with the gasping sobs.

It killed me, people. It was awful.

She's fine, of course. She got Tyle.nol before bed that night and slept like a rock, then woke up the next morning happy as can be. All is well.

But the sobbing "Mamas" were the worst. The WORST.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Healthy living

There are many wonderful things about being a parent, but "ability to get to the gym" is not one of them. At least not for a single parent.

I am a short person, and I've never been mistaken for a model. About 11-12 years ago, I lost 30 pounds, and kept it off. While this weight loss never got me to what the charts tell me I should weigh, I was at a place where I was healthy, where clothes fit well, and where I was pretty happy with my body. I'd gain a few pounds here or there, sure, but I was always able to pull it back. I think the most I ever gained was nine pounds, so I never really got out of hand. I was able to do this largely because I worked out. I like food-- I'm never going to be someone who picks at her food, or forgets to eat-- so you have to make up for it with activity.

I didn't gain a ton of weight during my pregnancy-- again, because I exercised. I was going to the gym until a week or two before Elle was born, I think. My workouts changed, sure, but I was still exercising. There were many benefits to the exercising besides the weight control-- I really didn't like the feeling that I had lost control over my body, so working out calmed that anxiety as well.

In the 18 months since Elle joined the world, though, there has been no gym. I dropped my Y membership; didn't make sense financially. I get to yoga once in a blue moon-- I can't afford a sitter every time I want to go to a class, and while there's a weekly lunchtime yoga near my office, I can't get there every week. I am using the exercise bike in my basement when I can, but it's not the same as a good, intense half-hour on the elliptical.

I have gained back 25 pounds. That is completely unacceptable. Also, I can't afford a whole new wardrobe, thanks.

So I'm back on the healthy eating train. Last time I did it through that national chain (named with two words, both of which start with W and the second word is "watchers") and found it pretty straightforward. So I rejoined. "Rejoined," for me, now means I went, "signed up," bought the reference materials I'm going to need, and won't go back. Weekly meetings are nice, but see above re: yoga-- not going to hire a sitter, can't go during work. I also can't afford the weekly fees right now.

This is actually OK for me. When I'm motivated, I'm motivated. Weekly meetings don't do anything to help me in either direction. The weekly weighing in is, actually, helpful, but I'll manage.

I've been on it just over a week now, and so far so good. It's a straightforward plan: eat whole foods, eat lots of fruit and veggies and lean proteins, and make sure you eat enough healthy fats to keep things right. (It's counterintuitive, but if you don't eat any fat at all, it's not good for you AND it slows down your weight loss.) There have been a number of changes since I was on the plan all those years ago, so it's definitely an adjustment. For instance, what do you MEAN I can have all the fruit I want? Do you know how many bananas I can (theoretically) eat in one day?

Really, you can have anything you want; you just have to fit it into your day. Do I want that bag of chips, or can I have a banana AND peanut butter AND some crackers? I'm going to choose volume over specific foods, usually, which is why this works for me. And at least one day I've actually had trouble meeting that minimum food target. Nice problem to have. (I had a few graham crackers and they were heavenly.)

I do have to be careful not to eat Elle's leftovers (a bad habit that was probably responsible for at least a few of the 25 pounds) and it's not like the old days where I could just keep tempting foods out of the house entirely; there's another little person around who likes a graham cracker after dinner once in a while. But again, if I'm motivated, it doesn't seem to be a big issue. And I'm motivated. Elle deserves a mom who feels good about herself and is healthy. I deserve to be healthy and feel good about myself. And I know I can do it-- I did it before.

I'm also applying for additional life insurance (Note: I do have a good amount of life insurance already, through work, but I want a term policy that's independent of my job, and big enough that my total coverage is sufficient to take care of Elle if, God forbid, it's necessary) and it's cheaper the less you weigh.

So happy new year! May it be healthy and happy and wonderful for you and yours. I'm going to go have some popcorn now, because I can.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Toddler Language

Some of Elle's recent words:


You can probably understand that I'm less than thrilled about "shit," but face it, it's going to happen. I'm just glad it's not the F word.

She has an enormous vocabulary-- whether she understands all the words, I can't entirely say, but she has a LOT of them. Rough estimate she has over 30 that she uses appropriately, and many more that are somewhat random. She also understands most of what I say and will follow directions (when she wants to, anyway) appropriately, even when I'm using pretty complex sentence structure.

Between talking and singing (she sings all the time!), it's pretty noisy around here. It's awesome.