Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The gift that keeps on giving

So now I have Henry's stomach flu. I also have a sore throat and a hacking cough.

The good news: Maura is in town and was coming to babysit today anyway, so I got some rest.

The bad news: This was supposed to be my first full day off in 10 months.

The really bad news: After a painstaking recovery process from Henry's own cold/stomach flu, this morning he was weepy and cuddly all over again. When, at 9:30 am, he said he wanted a nap, I knew things weren't going well.

Dr. Vo fit us in at noon today. Henry has ear infections in both ears. Poor man!

So now I am relieved that he's got antibiotics and thus he should get better very quickly, and I am feeling like a really bad mother because I had no idea. No idea! Here I thought I was being calm and prudent, following the advice in my pediatrician's handbook for his cold and then his vomiting and then his fever. Instead he may have had ear infections for days.

And for the record, he never even tugged at his ears, so that's a big myth.

Remember when being sick meant you could lie around and watch TV all day? Me too. Instead I "took it easy" by napping in between trips to the doctor's office, trips to Jamba Juice (a treat for Henry and something I thought I could eat without revisiting), washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and cleaning the bathroom.

God, are all of my entries going to be this boring?

Sorry. I'll be more interesting when I'm not also trying to supress a fresh explosion of vomit.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I have to admit, I love Target. Really, if I were Britney Spears, with all of her money, I would be hitting up the Target at 3 am in a manic haze, too.

I went there one day when Henry was two months old. I think I only needed Neutrogena face wash and some diapers, but I drove to El Cerrito because driving on the freeway made it sort of an event (excitement is so hard to come by when you're at home with an infant).

When I got there, unshowered and in the same clothes I'd been in for three days, I found other moms--at least a dozen of them, all slowly pushing their infants aimlessly around the aisles. Three people stopped to talk to me.

Also, there is a Starbucks.

No drink-holders on the carts, though. Management really needs to put two-and-two together there.

Target is also a fabulous source for maternity wear, because at least 80 percent of their regular clothes fit pregnant women, and the Isaac Mizrahi stuff is pretty hot, even if it is under $20. Today I got myself a blue shift-dress for $17.99.

Their actual maternity clothes are revolting. There are four or five giant posters around the maternity section featuring pregnant models in gorgeous clothes. But they don't actually have any of the poster clothes available in the store. Nearly everything there looks like an oversized pillowcase with a strategically placed drawstring, made from rejected IKEA fabrics. I can't believe Liz Lange puts her name on that crap.

I was actually at Target this morning to find a swimsuit for prenatal water aerobics.

You know what I hate about pregnant swimsuit shopping? My ass. It would be fine if it just got huge. I could work a J-Lo look. But when I'm pregnant it gets huge and flabby and today I even saw cellulite. I've been doing butt exercises for weeks now, and I still look like an overweight 80-year-old from the rear.

I actually bought a "skirtini" bottom. I look like I'm borrowing my grandma's swimsuit. At least I look like I might have a nice butt under that grandma's swimsuit. I am keeping the mystery alive.

You know what I love about pregnant swimsuit shopping? Breasts. I don't usually have any, so now that I'm jiggling 36-Bs, I feel like a porn star. I look smokin' hot from about the ribcage to my neck.

Oh, after Target I went to Elephant Pharmacy to get my awful all-natural haircolor so I don't deform the baby while covering up my grey.

The woman at the checkout counter was all nice until I told her I'd need a bag for the things I was buying. Then she seemed to get all irritated with me. Damn Berkeleyites. I have to remember to bring a tote bag next time I go.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Poor, sick, puking boy

Henry was sick all weekend.

It started Friday with goop in his right eye. I called the advice line at the pediatrician's office (I'm actually surprised they haven't blocked my number yet), and the nurse said it was probably related to the small cold he had going, and to call back if it hadn't cleared up in two to three days, which is pretty much what they say about everything.

Then Friday night the vomit started. The first vomit is always the ripest and chunkiest and this was all over the crib and also in his hair and his ear. We had to give him a bath, which made me feel like a particularly bad mother, because there he was, sick, sad, and confused as to why his parents were torturing him in his hour of need.

He puked again that night while Simon skillfully held him over the toilet. And then again Saturday morning, after he seemed better and ate breakfast, over the side of the grocery cart when Simon took him to the Safeway.

Let me just take a moment to express how very, very happy I am that I wasn't there. That was some sort of divine gift.

**Here's a disturbing note: Simon returned to the Safeway about 45 minutes later, after both he and Henry were bathed and changed. When he got there, both his cart and the vomit were just as he had left them.**

Sunday he didn't throw up even once. Today he didn't even have a fever. He was just tired and weepy and wanting to sit on my lap reading books all day, which was exhausting but adorable.

I didn't appreciate how independent Henry is until this past weekend. Usually I can read the paper and have a cup of coffee while keeps busy moving the contents of my purse into the garbage can and vice versa. This weekend it was all about constant Mommy attention.

You know what's funny? I haven't felt this not depressed in weeks. I feel on purpose. So many times I wonder if Henry even cares that I'm around, particularly when he asks 50 times a day where Grandma is, or Auntie Mo is, or Jeff Walsh, my dad's friend who he met once. But when he was sick, all he wanted was Mommy. Even with a 104.5 degree fever, sitting with me (and his lovey and binky) seemed to make him feel better.

Not a lot of appreciation in this job. It's nice to feel like I'm doing something right.


Tonight I had to talk to my mom and explain several times that sometimes I need a break from her, and that when I do, I am not "punishing" her by withholding Henry. Gah.

Friday, April 25, 2008

BFB: Big freakin' baby

Yesterday at my 24-week prenatal appointment my doctor told me she is worried that this baby is going to be a giant.

Apparently, second babies tend to weigh more than first babies, and Henry was 9 lbs., 2 oz., so she has visions of a 10+ pounder and brought up the dreaded possibility of a C-section. Yuck. This is exactly the problem with doctors instead of midwives. You always have to be prepared to ward off the scalpel.

I told her I'll accept the C if it comes to that, but that, regardless of the size, I want to try to do this vaginally. After all, giant Henry and his giant 15 inch head were no problem. Except, you know, for the part where I had to sit on a hemorrhoid pillow for the next two weeks.

She said the good news was that if this baby is even 8 1/2 pounds, it should be a snap.

"You might consider taking up coffee and cigarettes," she said.

Then she said, "Just kidding."

Then she said, "Actually, a little coffee might not be bad."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day 9 without a break from childcare:

I finally snapped and yelled at Henry. He was taking his bath, sucking bathwater from his squirting Thomas the Tank Engine bath toy. I told him no, as I always do when he starts drinking from those little lead- and mildew-coated trains. He kept sucking. So I took the blue one away. He grabbed the red one and started on that. I took that one away. He grabbed the green one. Each time he grabbed a new toy, he stared right at me in sinister toddler defiance. Each time I said no, my voice got louder. By the fifth one, I was shouting as I announced that bath time was over.

I thought he might cry. Worse, he just sat silently on my lap as I dried him off. I felt awful.

"Do you know that Mommy loves you?" I asked.

He didn't respond.

Then there I was, explaining that Mommy was very crabby and tired and that he is, in fact, a very good boy who just has to work on not sucking moldy trains.

He sat quietly with his lip out.


Oh, yeah, my job people never even called me. All that anxiety for nothing. Too bad for them. At this point I would agree to be paid in pita chips just to get out of the house.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The World's Worst Job Seeker

So I applied for a job.

Friday night I was doing my tri-weekly scan of craigslist for any remotely interesting part-time position, when I found it: television news segment producer, three days a week every other week, two days a week on alternate weeks.

I was so giddy I almost couldn't sleep that night. The next day, during Henry's nap time, I sent my updated resume and a cover letter to the email address. I felt electric.

And then 10 minutes passed and I felt ill. Every Feminine-Mystique-y stereotype I have in my head about the necessity of being a full time mother came charging out of the far corners of my brain. I'd be abandoning my son. Outsourcing the most important job I'll ever do. Turning him over to a stranger to satisfy my own selfish needs.

It didn't help when I told my mom about the job. She won't come out and say she thinks it's a terrible idea, but she manages to slip the idea in between supportive statements. "I totally understand the need for a job," she said. "That's why I started working as soon as you were both in school full time."

Then she reminded me that no job could be as important as taking care of Henry. And that although these years seem long now, when I look back I'll realize they were just a fraction of time. And that I will have more stress than I can imagine if I get a job.

But that she really, really, thought it sounded great.

I'm not blaming her. These things wouldn't bother me if they weren't already lodged in my psyche.

Don't get me wrong: I do not think working mothers are a bad thing. In fact, the mothers I know who worked from the time their children were born always seem to have the most confident, well-adjusted kids. Every one of my mom friends work or are returning to work, and all of their kids are lovely, happy little people.

This is just another way for me to beat myself up. Not just beat myself up--beat myself up over something that hasn't happened yet. And, let's be honest, will probably not happen.

Sure, the employers may be so impressed with my qualifications that they manage to overlook the fact that I failed to capitalize and italicize "the" in The Economist (which may not seem that bad to you, but as an editor, I feel like it's the equivalent of showing up to an interview in assless chaps). But there is no way they can overlook baby #2, which already has that I-ate-the-whole-basketball housing. I know pregnancy discrimination is illegal, but really, if you were a non-commercial satellite station, would you want to have to find a temporary employee within three months of finding your permanent one?

So to recap: I found a possible means of escape from housewifedom, I felt good, I felt guilty, I talked to my mom, I felt more guilty, I have almost no chance of getting the job anyway, which makes me relieved for a minute, and then sad again.

At least mental and emotional instability gives me something to do.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Today Simon and I have been married for four years. Four years! As much as I complain, I still can't really believe it's been that long.

I know it often seems that I have nothing good to say about Simon. Next to my mom, he is my biggest archenemy. And however many new leaves I turn over, I am likely to continue to bitch and moan about him and to him because he is abysmal at interpersonal communication and he is self-absorbed in a way that a boy might become if his mom always cooked his food and made his bed and put the toilet seat down so silently in the background that the boy thinks those things just happen on their own.

But it occurred to me last weekend, as we drove out to Stinson Beach and I tried to give him the silent treatment the whole way over (I made it to the San Rafael Bridge), that I relish my resentments. I get a sort of self-righteous glee in turning them over and over in my mind.

Then this morning after breakfast Simon turned to Henry and said, "Did you donate to Daddy's race fund? Thanks, Henry!" And my stomach flipped over as a realized that his 200 mile relay race is this weekend and I haven't donated one red cent. This after he donated $500 to my marathon fund last year because I had been griping about the fact that I wouldn't get the free hat they gave to early fundraisers.

And I remembered that before I hated him for things like breathing too loud in bed, I felt a near-constant guilt over being a lousy wife.

So maybe the truth is that I still love him dearly. I just have guilt issues in relationships. Oh, yeah, and this whole traditional-spousal-role thing also cheeses me off. Seriously, the next time he says, "I can watch Henry for you," I may smack him.

He did send me a large bouquet of flowers today, with a note that says, "I love you." This after I grunted and dodged a kiss when he wished me a Happy Anniversary this morning.

Honestly? I'm pretty lucky.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Tonight as Henry and I drove to Cactus Taqueria to pick up dinner, he reached his hand out from the backseat and said, "ay-you," which means "thank you," which means he wants me to take something from his hand.

I reached my hand back, and got a little gummy ball in my fingers.

"What was that?" I asked Henry.

"Guk," he replied, which means "dirt."

A couple of minutes later I parked the car, and when I went around to get Henry he was just pulling a finger from his right nostril, and there was a large booger on it. He held it up to me and said, "guk."

Suddenly it all became horribly clear. "Did you give Mommy a booger a few minutes ago?" I asked.

"Yeah!" he said proudly, offering me the next one.

This is the closest I get to appreciation these days.


Yesterday my cousin Liz came by to see Henry.

She looked fantastic—long, gorgeous hair, perfect yet minimal makeup, a black-and-white mini dress with matching sweater. She looks very New York. Very successful New York.

She just broke up with Paul, her Dutch boyfriend of four years. She has a fabulous Manhattan apartment and great friends. She's applying for a job at Ralph Lauren Home.

From her perspective, everything is uncertain. But I from where I sit, her future is absolutely gleaming.

And me? I am thrilled for her. Just really, really ecstatic. And so jealous I cried on and off all evening.

As free as she is, that’s how trapped I feel in my (not always, but currently) miserable marriage and my teeny-tiny cluttered little house.

Now I cry at least once a week as I do dishes in the temporary sink in our laundry room. I don’t see possibilities anymore. I only see more dishes.

So to celebrate my despondency I had three cookies and a quarter of a tub of fat-free Cool Whip. Then I was despondent and also sick to my stomach.

I adore Henry. Most days I love staying home with him. But, Christ, if I have to spend another two years as nothing more than someone's mommy, someone's wife, and both those someones' housekeeper, I'll lose it for good.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Husky Baby

Welcome to my blog!

Crap. I had this idea that a blog would be a fine activity for me and that maybe my struggles with motherhood/marriage/depression might be relevant to someone other than myself.

In my head I had these brilliant topics lined up. I am really, really pithy in my head. I'm freakin' Anne Lamott.

And now I sit down and I am reminded that my life is excrutiatingly boring. That, and I have only a very tentative idea of what a blog is.

So, you know, welcome and my apologies.

Here's me on a wild Friday night: On my ass, on the couch, trying hard to focus on writing instead of researching Aspberger's Syndrome because my 2-year-old son, Henry, has an obsession with auto insignias.

Henry's asleep. Simon, my husband and sometime nemesis, won't be back from his business trip until past midnight. It would be silent if not for the clothes drier that's almost always going.

This morning I had the horrible realization that my son may be fat. Not just chubby, but actually overweight. The light first flickered one when I slipped the 24-month T-shirt over his 22-month head, and it barely fit over his belly. Then, as he ran around with his buddies at baby gym, it occurred to me that he looks like a linebacker. As I mulled this over, I mentioned to my friend Susie that Henry stepped on my mom's scale the other day and it read 31 pounds, and Susie said, "Oh my God!"

Sure enough, I typed in his weight and height into a BMI calculator and it says he's overweight.

This is probably not a big deal in the scheme of things, but I have no job besides this, and so I take it as a failure on my part. I always thought fat kids just ate crap and watched too much TV. Henry eats berries and yogurt for breakfast! He eats raisins instead of candy! He spends half the day running laps around our house or our yard or the park.

The worst part is I wrote a column about childhood obesity back before I had kids and it was all know-it-all-y. It's so easy to give advice when it's purely on a theoretical basis.