Family Love

Today I really appreciate my family.
My parents who are supportive, encouraging, and love to be with us.

My sister and her family, who are sweet and fun and good people.

My brothers, whom I simply love very much and who are amazing people.

My husband, who is loving and sweet and kind and always ready to take on a new project or a new dream.

My baby, whose eyes and soul melt me.

Getting a Grip on Life

Also known as: something I think I need to do, but can’t seem to manage.
Life is good. It’s fine. We’re healthy, we eat, we sleep. Our house is not a complete disaster. I’m getting things done (some of them). But still: I just can’t seem to get on top of everything that needs doing, managing, attending to.

The house is one of these things. A mess, completely. My desk occasionally clears up, but is covered again within days. The kitchen – forget about it. Bathroom? Please! I change the sheets on the bed once a week, but that’s all the regular cleaning I can claim.

My work. Even if I have a slow meeting week, my to-do list does not seem to get shorter. I keep trying to wrap things up, but they unwrap themselves, scatter the pieces and demand attention.

Writing/teaching? Now we’re talking! Not at all ready to teach. Not at aaaaall. I’m reading a short how-to book for first-year college teachers, loving it, feeling inspired, and knowing it is so not happening for me because I do. not. have. the. time to do any of the essentials recommended in the book, much though I would sincerely love to. As for 15 minutes a day of writing: I bought the book. But haven’t found a minute in months to follow up. I will, I must, but when?

And parenting, aaah, my weak spot. So many musts that are undone. Embarrassing things, like struggling to comb baby’s hair or brush her teeth (honestly, have you met our baby? she is really remarkably resistant to teeth brushing). Feeding here: though she does eat, but still, I know there are a bazillion other dishes I could and should be making for her to max-out her nutrition. Strangely, in spite of my massive omissions as a parent, she seems to be doing well. She is happy. Healthy. Smart. Fun. Secure. How did we get so lucky?

This article came my way today (yes, on Facebook. And I’m swearing off it again) and spoke to what I was feeling. I’m not doing everything I think I could and should do as a parent, but I”m trying. And my daughter doesn’t seem to notice. She really does love and need me. I was running a few errands after work and husband called to check in. I heard a tiny, sweet voice in the background say “Mama?” and that was it. I wrapped things up and rushed home to be with the sweetest person I know. I want to remember that we make magic together, and to relax and enjoy it even if life is messier and less finished than I like.

On that note: two scenes from bedtime.

It’s getting near sleepy-time and she’s wriggling and cuddling and being silly. I ask if I can kiss her. She says “nyew” but smiles her little mischief-smile and leans close. I kiss her and she giggles. Repeat, repeat. Then she kisses the air repeatedly. I ask , “Who are you kissing?” Another mischief smile: “Nana.” (It’s true. Hope you enjoyed your bedtime kiss, mom!)

A bit later, more wiggling and wriggling. Bedtime is closing in. She’s been down and wiggled under the sheets, sat up, rolled, twisted. Finally, she tosses her body over me, snuggles her head into my chest, heaves a deep sigh, and settles in. She drifts off to sleep holding me close.

My private thoughts

And fantasies, too.
Baby is nursing to sleep in the middle of the day. I’m sitting in bed, holding her. My brain goes:

“Good, she’s going to sleep. Probably be out for almost 2 hours. I might blog, get that done. Or maybe I’ll get around to working on the course – lots of prep work to do. Ooh, I’m hungry. I could whip up a cake, make some tea, and then do some email while it’s cooking. Mmm, that movie I started to watch last week … this would be a perfect time to finish it. Or an episode of Diva. Maybe while I’m making the cake I can start dinner, just something quick like chopping the onions. Or maybe I should just relax … get the tea, then sit in bed and read. I’m really enjoying my book right now. Or some magazines! I’ve got a few left in the stack and I’d love to flip AND finish looking at them. Oh wait, there’s a load waiting to get hung in the washer. I could do that. Maybe I’ll pop in a load of darks while I’m at it – baby’s running low on pants. I’ve been meaning to get to the entrance area too, so I could give that a clean-out. Oh, while I’m going through the kitchen I might as well unload the dishwasher. But then, absolutely, after that’s done I’ll put my feet up and do some reading.”

Baby switches breasts, I switch to lying down.

“Boy, I really would love to curl up with a novel. How long has it been? Well, okay, I read one last week, but I mean, really sit down with a book and a blanket and just read? I’ve got that one on the shelf I’m saving. I could treat myself and just sit and read. Ooh, with a cup of milky camomile tea. Delightful! And some roasted almonds. Yum, tamari honey-roasted. I’ve messed up the last 2 batches but I will get it right this time. I’m quite hungry, actually. I should heat up some soup and have that before I read. And speaking of hungry, when did baby eat last? I really need to get something going for her for the next meal. I’ll soak some mung beans maybe, and start a rice dish. She loves pilafs. And I just want to pop over to my email again – waiting for a reply.”

Baby finishes the breast, switches to the bottle.

“ooh, almost there. Sweet, wonderful, beautiful, adorable, beloved child. Sigh … I love her so much. Oh, and it will be so great to have a little break in the middle of the day. I so need a break. I’m wiped out from cooking and playing and diaper changes. And she really needs the rest, too – she’s been yawning for an hour. Aah, a break. A book. That’s what I’ll do. Email, blog, dinner prep, bake a cake, hang the laundry, some quick reading for the course, tea, and a book.”

Baby rolls over and snuggles into the blankets. Sighs. Wriggles. Waits. Wriggles.

And sits up.

New fantasy, in reality: my baby smiles at me and I fall in love all over again.

Games

Note: written just after midnight. Once again, I fell asleep with baby and didn’t wake up for a while.
There are lots of fun games to play with a little baby. Here are some we’ve played recently.

Pull-apart-the-foamies. We have a row of foam around our bed for a bit of protection if baby falls. She’s removed the edges which we fit together, like a long foam sword. Then she rips them apart. We re-fit. Repeat.

I continue to attempt to brush her teeth. The latest strategy involves using a cloth and finger brushing. She actually lets me! And then she bites. Hard. Little tooth indents and a throbbing pain in my finger.

Run-away!! It’s time to go, so I chase her and repeatedly go and get her for each stage of the outside-dressing process.

Mama/dada said no. There are a few things in the house that are accessible but we don’t want her to touch. Touching them is great! Baiting mama or dada by standing nearby and looking mischievous is awesome too. Pretending to touch them and then running away is also fun. And doing this a few times in a row – why not?

Food art. After chewing up a piece of food, just open up your mouth and let it drop all over. That’s it! Nice pattern!

Kiss please. When kissing everyone good-bye, make sure you ask mom and dad to kiss. Many times. You like it when your parents kiss! We’ll remind you about this later on in life.

Once again, I’m grateful to have someone else to parent with. And the kissing thing – she literally points to one of us and then the other until we kiss – inspires me and breaks my heart. Kids do notice our relationships and what is going on in their families. When we lie in bed, baby goes through all our names: mama, dada, a’ya. And she points to our different places in the bed. She gets it. We’re her family. Or when we’re hugging and she comes in for a group hug.

Babies. The best.

More Melting

Walking into a dark bedroom where a little mop-topped toddler is sitting up, rubbing her eyes, and asking quietly and clearly for “mama.”
Said baby rolling over after nursing to rest her head on my heart, arms wrapped around my sides while I stroke her hair.

Whoever said that being a parent doesn’t bring happiness has missed out. Of course, there is also frustration, exhaustion, and repetition of some tasks which wears out anyone spending long stretches with a child. That’s simply the work we do because we love these creatures and are responsible for them.

That being said, I’m also grateful to have a family and spouse who support me in parenting and do so much to help care for our girl.

The exhaustion part is the reason this post, though written (kind of) on Feb. 4, will go up on Feb. 5. I crashed in bed after putting baby to sleep, some time before 9. Then woke up after midnight. Now I get to blog (and possibly surf the internet!) after a multi-hour nap. Sleeping with my baby, and getting rest so early in the evening, feels great.