Friday, May 16, 2008

Henry got a haircut today. He barely even cried. I was so proud. He looks like a bonafide Big Boy now. Or maybe again. He always looks about a year old when he gets his hair cut.

I just saw a picture of him from when he was 10 months old or so. He was such a baby! He is growing up so fast.


Today we saw a VW Golf parked near our house. Henry saw it from the back and said, “VW gone.” It took me a couple of tries, but I finally got what he was saying: the circle where the VW logo should have been on the hatchback was blank, like the insignia had fallen off. Which is not only damn good observation, but also creepy because that meant there were no identifying VW marks visible on the car. How the hell did he know it was a VW?

Smart man.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Guilty mom

Tonight was the third night in a row that Henry wailed when I put him down for bed. It was an angry, betrayed sort of wailing. The only thing worse than letting him cry it out is letting him cry it out while he's screaming, "Mommy! Mommy!"

I feel like that woman in Texas who hit the homeless man with her car and then left him stuck in her windshield for a week in her garage, calling for her and pleading for help, until he died. Really--that guilty.

The strange thing is Henry hasn't cried for more than five minutes about bedtime in about a year. Last week he didn't even want to cuddle anymore. I'd just turn out the light and he'd say, "bed," and I'd lay him down and go about my afternoon or evening.

I was ready to declare victory over the whole sleep issue.

Last night I went in a couple of times, because I was sure he must be covered in poo or caught in the crib bars. Really, though, I could tell by his cry that he was simply overtired.

And there's the rest of the guilt: he's overtired because he's gone to bed more than an hour past his bedtime for three of the last four nights. Why? Because I've been out to dinner and have lost track of time.

Tonight I was having Chinese food at my next door neighbors', and Henry started saying "bed" at about 7:45 (his usual bedtime). Although I said I was leaving, I ended up talking for another 25 minutes as I edged toward the door.

I don't know how long he cried for tonight. 15 minutes? 20 minutes? I got a new air conditioner today, in honor of the heatwave, so I couldn't hear him so well. It was a blessing, and I feel guilty about that, too. At least I feel like I'm doing some penance if I have to listen to him in his misery.

This is all on top of the fact that we missed seeing his friend Santiago this afternoon, after Henry had been talking about him and I'd been promising a visit all day. But then Henry took a super long nap, which I didn't interrupt because of the above sleep issues, and when he woke up he didn't want to get dressed, and I didn't feel like pushing him on it.

When we finally got in the car, and then hit traffic, I knew we wouldn't make it to the park in time to see his friend.

"See Santi?" he asked from the backseat.

"Honey," I said, "I don't think we're going to see Santi today."

And his eyes got huge, and tears flooded in, and he asked again through trembling lips, "Santi?" And when I said no he began to bawl.

Mommy broke Henry's heart. Again.


I know I only write these sniveling little pieces about parenthood, but the truth is I love it. I love him. I love the way he runs, I love the way he tries to count ("two, two, nine, three"), and I love the way we dance together to the jazzy Sesame Street theme song that runs during the credits. Some days it's so good it's ridiculous.

Monday, May 12, 2008

3 months, 2 days left

I am getting scared about this new baby.

Am I prepared to get up five times a night again? Without being able to nap during the day?

I talked to another mom the other day who said that when the second kid is born, you mourn the ease of your life with one child, just like you mourned the ease of your life with no children when that first one came along.

Holy crap, I thought, it's that bad?

Friday, May 9, 2008

That annual SAHM salary thing

Every year around Mother's Day, comes up with the "market value" of a stay-at-home mom's efforts. This year they set it at $117,000 a year.

They estimate that moms at home assume 15 different professional roles around the house. Child care is, of course, number one. But they also throw in things like teacher, cook, janitor, CEO, and even plumber and auto mechanic.

It's a nice gesture, offering up this large sum of money to express the value of a home-based mom's work. And I think it's important, too, because most people I meet seem to think I paint my toenails and watch soap operas all day.

***For the record, my toenails are pretty fancy. That's because a $20 pedicure, a book, and a latte is a great big chunk of heaven when you've got an hour to kill while your in-laws bond with the kid. Also, we have to take off our shoes at Babygym, and I think my toes help offset the half-inch graying roots of my hair.***

But the study raises the question: Is this what I'm supposed to be doing?

Because, you know, there's no job description for this sort of thing. If there were, I'd clearly be getting a very poor review.

I'm all over the child care, of course. It's what I do 10 to 12 hours on most days, and what I'm on call for the rest of the time. And I'll give myself some credit here: I'm good. I know what Henry likes to do, I know how to stop him from crying, I know about 90% of what he's trying to say. Although if I were paying someone I'd probably ask them to spend a little less time reading up on the Democratic nomination process in the morning.

But honestly, that's all I do. Teacher? Not so much. Yesterday Maura babysat, and when I came home she showed me how they had worked on "Up high" and "Down low," and also she had drawn pictures of a car and the sun on his easel and wrote the names of what they were. Here's what he's learned from me: when he spills something, he says, "Oh man."

Cook? Almost never. Most lunches are cold cheese, olives, a toasted pita, and some fruit. And dinner? When we have a stove and oven, which we don't due to our kitchen remodel, Simon cooks at least 70% of the time.

Housekeeper? If I were my housekeeper, I would fire myself immediately.

Plumber? Auto mechanic? No and no. Simon does these, too.

Like I said, it's a great study. And I know plenty of SAHMs, my step-sister Bridget, for example, who do all of these things at a professional level. I think she even washes and irons her husband's shirts. (I actually used that as a selling point about how we'd save money when I quit work, and after 4 weeks with no shirts, Simon quietly began taking them to the drycleaner again.)

Meanwhile, all I have to offer are my bodily presence and some kind of nebulous motherly love. I adore the child. He is exhausting, but I think he's a wonder.

That, right there--not even minimum wage.

Oh, here's the other thing I found under "Dream Job: Stay-at-home mom" on "All three women are able to pursue hobbies they weren't able to give attention to while working out of the house. 'I love to read and have an insatiable appetite for books,' said Allshouse. 'Staying at home has given me time to read books that I've been wanting to read for years, including classics and current works.'"

She's reading books? Plural? I have been working through The Book Thief for three months.

Let's recap: Stay-at-home moms should be professional-level nannies, teachers, house cleaners, cooks, facilities managers, plumbers, and auto mechanics. And they finally get a chance to read those books they've been meaning to get to.

Do these women actually have kids?

At least it indicates that Simon should get a raise.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Still freakin' sick

Simon keeps asking if I need anything, and I keep saying a loaded gun so I can shoot myself.

What have I got now? A cough that gets so violent it makes me pee if I haven't just done so, congestion that might be crushing my eye socket, a headache that's probably from the cracks along my eye socket, and now, possibly, a return of the stomach flu that kicked this all off last Tuesday night.

Actually, Simon just asked again, and I said I need him to juice a lemon for me, because that's my new "cure": fresh lemon juice and hot water with honey. He made a very irritated face. Apparently, he did not mean "anything." I think he meant did I need a glass of water. Either that or he was hoping I'd ask for the gun again.

I have now been bedridden-sick for almost an entire week. Of course, I haven't actually been bedridden, except for about a day and a half. This may be why I'm still sick.

This is the dilemma of the sick stay-at-home mom: who do you call in sick to? If I had a job, and thus a nanny, I'd just call my job, and stay in bed all day while the nanny did her thing.

I think this is where the co-parent is supposed to take a day off of their work, just like you'd do if your nanny were sick. We did that the last time I was sick. Simon didn't offer, I just told him I was taking the day off, and he'd have to figure out how to make that work. He was very displeased.

This is the other part of the sick SAHM dilemma: few people believe that you do enough to merit a day off. After all, isn't every day at home a day off? My neighbor Carl, the retired mailman, suggested I stay inside on the couch today. I consider it a victory that I didn't curse.

I have to be extremely grateful, then, that my sister, Maura, is in town with nothing better to do than come to Trader Joe's with Henry and I, then spend her afternoon visiting the park with the man while I napped.

I actually saw the doctor last Friday, who prescribed me antibiotics, which have been useless, and Robitussin with codeine, which has been a godsend, except for the fact that my unborn child is now ready for narc-anon. Poor addicted little fetus.

Meanwhile, my housewife and mothering skills, which were poor to begin with, are slipping. It is all I can do to wash dishes. The food under Henry's chair is simply too much for me right now. And the seven separate stacks of junk mail and magazines on my dining room table/desk? I cry if I even think about sorting through those.

I will be significantly better tomorrow. There is simply no other option. I've got a big freelance project, and my mom and Maura are lined up for babysitting, so I'm set to head into the big city (So. San Fran) to work in a real office (Simon's).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A few days ago I wrote about how nice it was to feel needed when Henry got all Mommy-centered when he was sick.

Now he has been sick for a week, and I am sick, too. Now it is not so nice.

All I want is to sit. Actually, to sleep. I’d like to sleep. But that’s not happening, so sitting is the next best thing.

But Henry is tired and weepy. He’ll play with “Guy” in the red truck for maybe three minutes before Guy gets stuck behind the steering wheel. When he’s well, Henry will just bring the truck to me and say “Guy stuck,” and I’ll remove the guy, and play will continue while I read up on the Barry Zito debacle. But when he’s sick, as he still is, stuck Guy is a major issue, and Henry bawls. Not his fake cry, but his “Oh, God, why have you forsaken me?” cry. He actually throws himself on top of the red truck, weeping.

So I have to get up, and we have to sit for a minute or two until he can breathe again. Then I pull Guy out of the truck. Then I have to get a wipe for his nose, which has by then run all over his face, and which he’s smeared to his ears.

This goes on all day. It’s not always Guy in the red truck. Sometimes it’s that the pinwheel arms have popped off. Sometimes it’s that the water bottle nozzle is closed. Sometimes it’s that he is saying “box,” wanting the Dr. Who flying police bank, and I think he’s saying “blocks.”

I am very, very tired.


Simon and I are sitting on the couch, playing “what’s that?” with the baby-to-be. Is it a head? A butt? A back?

Baby enjoys pressing on the back side of my uterus so that I get this hard lump in the front of my belly. Sometime the lump sort of hurts.

There it is again.

I think this might be an elbow.

I expect this one will be a nightmare by my ninth month.

But this time around I appreciate how easy baby is right now, comparatively.