I am trying to carve out a little time each week to come here and write. The problem is that I’ve been staring at a blank screen for about 30 minutes and am not sure what to write about. I have a zillion post ideas when I’m running around like a crazy woman but when I finally get to sit down… nothing!
So how about a few tiny bits of zen from the last few weeks?
Years ago in Kentucky I was walking to work and a Jamaican woman passed by and said good morning. It startled me and she laughed and said, “In this country no one says good morning. Back home everyone says it.” Since then I try to say good morning to everyone I pass, a habit that Sabine has now adopted. I love hearing her tiny voice say “Good morning!” and watching a strangers face light up.
I actually broke out my camera yesterday, something that I have not done in a long time, and shot beautiful fall photos of Sabine. She is growing up so fast! You can check them all out on Sabine Daily.
My bus driver last week said “Y’all” and it made my heart do a great big flip flop.
“Are you from the south?” I asked as I leaned over my seat.
“My parents are from Alabama… Why?”
“You said ‘Y’all’ when you announced the last stop. I am from Alabama and it was so nice to hear. A bit of southern zen on the BxM1 if you will.”
My nose is healing beautifully. It was worth the wait and exhausting hunt to find a good surgeon. One month out and the skin graft is only noticeable if you look closely. In another month I’ll go back to discuss having a procedure done to erase the scar completely. He said he could also erase the scar on my forehead from the skin graft was taken, but I think I might keep that. It is hidden under my bangs and, honestly, I kind of like it. Much like my c-section scar, it is a reminder of how strong I am and of how amazing the body is at healing wounds. I need that right now. I think I’ll keep my forehead scar.
I have become obsessed with how my skin is aging and have started researching off-beat ways to improve texture and smooth wrinkles. This week’s experiment… diaper cream on my face. Yep. You can call me Butt Head. I’ll let you know how it works. The last attempt at Castor Oil as a cleanser ended poorly (think: teenage acne).
There is this episode of Sesame Street right now about Grover trying to do it all. He tries to cook, play basketball, paint and more all at one time and it is a disaster. The song he sings is so catchy and has been stuck in my head for quite a while. At first I found it annoying, but now I find it a refreshing reminder of how I want to live my life.
I grew up in a house that was picture perfect. Every wall was carefully hand stenciled by my mom. Shelves were perfectly arranged and pictures meticulously curated. Quilts and drapes were handmade, furniture was high-end and everything within view was clean and tidy.
It was a beautiful childhood and one that I was blessed to have. It was different from how I want my child to be raised, though. You see, while our home was spectacular, our clothing perfect and often handmade, and all the details always spot-on, we did not go out for weekday adventures. We did not go to story time at libraries, to public playgrounds or to playdates. My mom also sacrificed all of herself for her children; her sole purpose was to care for my brother and I. I have no memory of my mom taking regular time for herself to workout or get a haircut or just sit alone in the tub. She did not have a job outside of caring for her kids.
I struggle daily with trying to do it all – a perfect house, extraordinary adventures, nourishing homemade meals, time for myself to workout and write, trying to start a career… the list goes on and on. For the last two years I have daily panics about something not getting done and I beat myself up repeatedly about why I can’t do it all. There is a lot of self-deprecation going on about a dirty floor and it is, honestly, ridiculous.
Much like Grover, I’m learning that I just can’t do it all. Something has to give. A perfectly clean house means that we can’t take a hike. Taking a long adventure to see farm animals means we order takeout. Working out in the morning means dirty dishes have to wait until that evening… or the next day… or maybe – gasp – the next!
I’m learning to accept these gives and takes so Sabine can have the childhood I want her to have. I want her days to be exciting. I want her home to be tidy and functional, and her meals to be delicious and nourishing. I want her mama – me – to be sane, strong and fit. I want it all, but all of it can’t happen 24-7. So I’m learning to pick-and-choose each day.
Today, my house will be slightly crusty when my cousins arrive, but I’ll have worked out and taken a little time to write, meaning I’ll feel better about myself and have more patience with my kid. And that is a 100% acceptable tradeoff.
You know what I don’t miss writing about? Baby sleep. Baby sleep consumed this blog and my life for quite a while. Nine months to be exact. Nine sleepless, nightmarish months that even today make me shudder and whip out the condoms. Sleeplessness for nine months is the best birth control.
Thanks to the assistance of a sleep coach and the investment of about $300, Sabine is now an excellent nighttime sleeper. Naps are still a shit-show but I pick-and-choose my battles. At night she goes down easily by 7:30 p.m. and sleeps until 6:30 or 7 a.m. PRAISE GOD!
Several weeks ago I was getting ready while she
rotted her brain watched some Curious George. Sabine loves Curious George and will cheer and laugh along with him for the entire 30 minute show giving me time to shower and pull myself together. This particular day I did not hear much laughing. Instead I heard terrified gasps, “OH NO!” and then the sound of tiny frantic feet running to the bathroom to “tell Mama.”
I wandered in my towel and sat for a few minutes to see what the fuss was about and you know what I found? Curious George wide awake, not sleeping and being afraid of the dark.
Excuse me, Curious George producers, what that fuck were you thinking? Yes, some kids have problems with the dark and their parents can buy a book or a nightlight to help them deal with it. Meanwhile many other kids are blissfully ignorant of the dangers that come with dark and their parents, who are enjoying sleep, want to keep it that way.
This one seemingly harmless episode of Curious George has sent our sleep flying out of control. Sabine started waking earlier and earlier crying for a Mama and a flashlight. Then she started waking at night and crying for 3 minutes before passing back out – just enough time for me to be wide awake and wondering if she was now sleeping in a pile of vomited noodles (something that has happened multiple times and is so not fun to blindly shove your hands into when your child finally wakes for the day at 6:30).
I weighed my options. Giving her a flashlight did not seem like a great idea. I did not want her falling asleep with the flashlight on just to have it shift and wake her up at 1 a.m. I knew I did not want any of the newborn things that light up and make noise that THE BIG BABY STORES market to new moms desperate for a three-hour sleep stretch. Instead I went for a small kitty nightlight that was at Target for under $20.
I brought it home and Sabine selected the perfect shelf for “Kitty Flashlight” to sleep. I explained that kitty was her very special flashlight that will keep her safe at night. Then I put her to bed and she slept until 6:45 a.m. SUCCESS! JOY! I AM THE BEST MAMA EVER!
It is important to note that during all of this the Professor has been working insane hours trying to complete all his existing duties and prepare materials for the job hunt. I rarely see him and when I do, I try to keep the conversation positive and light as to not further stress him. I mentioned the nightlight and that I hoped it would help her sleep later but I did not elaborate further, as why stress him out?
Last weekend Sabine and Dada had a father/daughter adventure to Harbor Freight (I just found a typo of Harbor Fright, which is really much more accurate a description in my mind!) While they were out he sent a photo of Sabine with a little red flashlight and I said, “How sweet! Baby’s first tool!” The hell this tiny flashlight would inflict on our household totally failed to register.
That night Sabine had her bath, we read some books, had warm milk and then I laid her down to sleep. Normally she rolls to her tummy, smiles at me while I hand her two stuffed animals and then passes out. Not tonight, though. Nope, instead she sat bolt upright and started yelling for her flashlight. Yelling turned to frantic sobbing. Frantic sobbing turned to near vomiting.
KEEP THOSE NOODLES IN THE BELLY, SABINE!
Out I went to fetch the flashlight and I, in my infinite awesomeness, took out the batteries and handed it over.
“Here you go, flashlight to keep you safe,” I said. She clicked the button twice, looked at me, and started to hyperventilate all over again.
“Broken! Flashlight! Batteries! FLASHLIGHT!”
She was totally inconsolable. After a few minutes I said night night and closed the door and frantically began Googling how to handle this situation. Meanwhile Dada was feeling like complete shit – his flashlight treat was causing major stress!
“I didn’t know this would be such an issue,” he lamented. “It’s just a flashlight! I feel like shit!”
I explained the Curious George episode and the error in our ways and his face fell even further. Determined to right his wrong he went into her room, took away the flashlight and read more books hoping she would forget. She did not. Sabine had to cry herself to sleep for the first time since she was 9 months old. It was devastating to all, including the cats who honestly just wanted their cat food and a peaceful nap.
The next day we went to the Big Overpriced Toy Store and picked out a Glo Worm. I remember kids having these when I was a kid. Modern Glo Worms are inconceivably creepier looking than the ones we had, something I didn’t really think was possible. This big head, with creepy big eyes is attached to a tiny limbless body. It looks more like something from a sideshow than a tool to soothe the terrified toddler. But whatever, Sabine picked it out and rocked and cooed over it for the next few hours.
That night she snuggled into her bed with “Flashlight Worm” (because it is really all in how you brand this stuff) and went to sleep. I wish I could say this was the end of our early mornings, but it isn’t. Yesterday she slept till 7:30, then today she was up at 5:30 again. All because of one seemingly innocent episode of Curious George, which I guess leads me to the moral of this ramble – TV might actually be evil, Curious George is not all fun cuddly monkey and Dada’s should never be allowed to take toddlers to the tool store unsupervised.
Who else has a kid who is afraid of the dark? Any good book recommendations to help teach them that dark is not scary? Any other thoughts? I’m open to suggestions!