Tag Archives: motherhood

The End Is Near

I’m at 38 weeks.  So as the big day nears, there is nothing more frightening than finding out about your friends who were due around the same time as you having their babies ahead of schedule. Now there is no one left but me. It’s like everyone’s got picked off like flies and right now I’m the last one standing. To demonstrate what I’ve been feeling for the last month or more, I created this quick and crudely drawn 23 second piece on the subject. Enjoy, and just in case…Happy Thanksgiving!

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Gift Registry Hell And Babymoon Existentialism

View on our babymoon – Point Lobos State Reserve in Big Sur, CA

This week my husband and I are on our babymoon. Some people say babymoons are the last hurrah before your baby arrives outside your belly, but since it’s impossible to hurrah with a child inside your stomach who doesn’t like to drink, I see it more as a vacation from putting together a baby registry.

If you’ve never done one or started one, a baby registry is the one gate of hell every woman must pass through to earn her child. No one warned me, so let me warn you: if you are pregnant, no matter at what stage in the game, start your registry NOW! You would think it would be easy to pick out cute things, but no, it’s not easy because it’s not just about the cute stuff—you have to think about how many diapers and for what stage, what kind of diapering you’ll want to do (disposables or cloth), what size bottles and how many, do you want to risk an all-in-one convertible car seat or change them three times. I held off for as long as I could to dive into this mess so I could try and enjoy the different stages of my pregnancy before making our new way of life a reality we were still not required to live. Thing is, once you start picking out things, you learn it’s impossible.

It took me two months to figure out and compile mine. I spent hours every day trying to make sense of this world I had never thought about before. What kind of person am I and what kind of parent will I be? Will I want to travel the world with my baby? Do I want my child to be babied or strictly raised with little extras provided? What kind of career do I need to set myself into motion for and how will that affect what I need for the baby? I spoke to four different women, perused over three different registries, read recommendations written by five different mothers, devoured the Oprah hailed book BABY BARGAINS, and, if you’re like me and have poor girl neurosis that makes you think everyone else is just as hard up on cash as you are, spent twice as much time as other mothers-to-be making sure I had a range of reasonably priced items so, as if I have the power to do so, don’t let the world throw itself into greater debt.

And then just as I finished, it was time for our vacation and what turned out to be the drug-like experience of a babymoon.

To get high without getting high takes a lot of noodle dancing or somehow throwing yourself off-kilter by exposing yourself to a dizzying number of unknowns. Not that this was planned—the best trips rarely are—but we ended up throwing ourselves into this otherworldly spiral by spending our first morning of vacation in LA by getting our things together for the trip in an unusually relaxed state, followed by a drive down to Joshua Tree where we stayed somewhere we had never been to to attend a wedding outdoors somewhere in the desert with a jaw-dropping star-filled sky, a moving heartfelt ceremony, beautiful friends and more dancing than my back could handle. Eight hours later and no time to get acquainted with our surroundings, we drove north eight hours up to Monterey and went from dry brown landscapes with stickly shrubs to green-filled roadways atop mountains covered in healthy redwoods and cypress trees. That sequence of events in only 24 hours could not have been more disorienting.

After the long drive we passed out for a bit in our hotel room and when I awoke, I had no idea where we were or who I was. I tried focusing and reminding myself of our travel plans but could not resolve the feeling of being misplaced to save my life. Without anything to ground me, nothing seemed real. It was as if I was in the middle of a real-life version of THE MATRIX and at any second I could wake up with my brain attached to some world-imagining machine. My only recourse was to ride what was a feeling of weightlessness and near non-existence.

Hoping some movement and change of scenery would help, I accompanied my husband to a nearby British Pub and kept staring at him like some psychopath in desperate need of clinging onto some semblance of sanity. And then I remembered… I’m pregnant. To think about being pregnant with no relation to who you are or where you are is, as hippies like to say, a trip. I was sure the cognizance of my pregnancy would bring me back to earth, but it didn’t. I was surprised to find that something so settled in my body could still be a part of my feeling so out of my body. Pregnancy it turns out is not the grounding experience so many people make it out to be; it too can float right along with you wherever you go. All of those decisions on who you are and what you hope to be with your new family are made from habits accumulated over time. It’s those habits that get you stuck and make you feel a false sense of being grounded, not babies, because babies are not a habit they’re just babies.

As a result, I was able to experience pregnancy in relation to me and my husband solely for what it was—time for a human to develop inside of me and time for us to grow with it. It was kind of cool to realize that no matter what our circumstances and way of life, there will always be one constant—the three of us exist. No matter the rocker, the carrier, no matter if I go back to school, if I’m rich or poor, we have this baby and the meaning behind it? Nothing. It just is. It is just growing. A little Zen I guess and not all that snuggly fun, but there was something so freeing about it all. We’re in this together and being a part of it means just being with it and each other. Suddenly the registry, who we are and all my worries about our future went out the window and our babymoon, as a time for one last relaxing hurrah, was free to start in earnest.

P.S. – Start your registry NOW!

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My Mommy Friend Turned Into That Mean Old Woman

 

I’m afraid to find out which one of my friends is going to turn into THAT parent that I’ve been scared of since I was a kid. The over-protective one who is only focused on her child’s well-being and freaks out, automatically blaming other kids during those formative elementary school year fights or experiences. If this is you, let me know now before we get any chummier in this mommy club I keep getting sucked into, because quite honestly I prefer to stay away and not know that side of people. It’s like those friends that are great as friends but you would never want to date them–well I’m sure there are girlfriends who are great on their own but you’d never want to be a mom around them when they’re a mom.

Ugh…moms. Growing up I felt like I had to deal with them all the time. Once after a fight with my friend Jennifer two doors down from me, I left her house so upset I kicked some wild (not garden variety) mushrooms growing in her front yard. Oh yeah, I did it with drama–big tears in my eyes and all the hurt and anger a 6 yr old could muster. Suddenly Jennifer’s mom threw open the door and yelled at me to, “Stop that! Go away,” and, “Get off my property and don’t you ever come back!” A year before that on the street behind my house, my friend Jaime (it was the 70’s everyone had J names) and I decided to play the game I’ll Show You Mine If You’ll Show Me Yours, because naturally at 5 yrs of age we were curious. Scared of what we might see, we stood outside on the side of his house with our eyes focused on where we suspected the others’ privates to be, and started the count down to drop our pants at the same time. One… two… three! Pants dropped and so did our jaws–what the hell?! Just then a woman’s hand thrust itself out of what was once an unopened window and grabbed Jaime, making his little body fly through the window and back inside with his pants still holding below his knees. His mom then popped her head out, eyes wild and face beet red, and started yelling at me for having done something so horrible and shameful. She called me a slut and said she couldn’t believe I did that to her son! Still recovering from the shock of seeing Jaime’s baby pee pee, I ran as fast as I could lifting my pants with Jamie’s mom screaming after me, “Get off my property and don’t you ever come back!” Needless to say I was not allowed on many properties in Nassau Bay, Texas.

I would like to believe that parenting has changed since then, but it looks like now it could be worse. With all of the helicopter parents buzzing around stressed out trying to build their kids into perfect human beings, I see no room for any humor, patience or ability to take anything in stride. And that’s just what parenting seems to call for the most. All I’m saying is I’d prefer that what happened to me not happen to my kid or yours. From the kid’s perspective it’s scary to have someone who is that much bigger than you and presumably adult flip out, and now that I’m almost a mom, it would be incredibly awkward to find out that your friend you used to toss one back with has become that lame mean old woman from your childhood. And if it happens what do you do? Tell your friend, “Hey be cool–you’re sounding like a woman with rollers in a 70’s nightgown.” When friends assume the suburban uptight way even when they live in a city, you know there’s no stopping that change. There’s nothing left to do but say goodbye to a friendship that was once beautiful and put your cootie spray on against the curse of the Mean Mommies.

More than anything I just don’t want to have to go looking too far for women with kids that I connect with. It would be better to be surrounded by those I already know, mainly because I’m lazy, but also because…nothing else, I’m just lazy. So please ladies, be cool. If your kid and other kids are having a bad day just treat it as an opportunity for everyone to learn how to deal with one another, cool-off and not be so dramatic. Please don’t get in my face or another woman’s face about how our kids suck and yours is an angel. We should all know better than that. How about being forgiving and kind if we want our kids to do the same and more importantly if we want to keep our drinking buddies and our sanity.

And what should happen if the Mean Mommy curse gets me?  Then do not hesitate–pull me aside and get me off your property.

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Why Being Pregnant Is Worth It

This past week has been a real testament to the superhuman strength that is Mommy-To-Be Willpower. At almost six months I desperately wanted to give in to everything that’s bad for my baby and I: splurging on an obscene amount of cookies, donuts, poached eggs; getting drunk on fresh fruit cocktails made with fancy ice and hard,  I mean HARD liquor; skipping the gym or that stupid walk that’s oh so good for me; indulging on a whole night of  sleeping on my back and procrastinating on every incomplete chore I had successfully put aside for nearly 5 years. I just wanted to be a little punk, even if only for a week! Then in the midst of my pregnant tantrum, a friend of mine at the gym asked me from out of the blue and in a very serious hushed tone, “So is it worth it?” What is? “Being pregnant?”

After the week I had had, I should have replied by going into everything I couldn’t stand about pregnancy and everything I missed about not being pregnant. But instead I found myself answering with an emphatic, “Yes!” For a moment I thought my brain had been taken over by some secret society to make women procreate, but as I heard myself gushing about all of the wonderfully sweet experiences pregnancy has given me, I couldn’t help but agree with myself. It was then that I realized I’ve only been writing about the negatives of being a baby carrier instead of the positives. So today for a change of pace I bring you everything that makes pregnancy worth it.

1. BOOBS–For those of you who already had them, congratulations, you have been enjoying dangly bits for quite some time. As for my smaller sisters, it’s very cool to finally go through the exciting part of puberty we missed out on. I now know what boobs feel like, and have enjoyed taking them out on short strolls in push-up bras just to experience that bouncing motion on my chest.

2. TOILETS–The bump is a VIP pass to every “Employee Only” toilet in the city.

3. CARGO PANTS–For three years I couldn’t find a pair of relaxed fit non-skinny cargo pants to replace my last pair. Turns out that maternity shops are mini cargo lands.

4. ICE-BREAKER–You think having a dog helps you meet people; try getting pregnant.

5. I WON’T GAIN WEIGHT?! — I learned that I can actually eat more and not gain as much when I’m pregnant than B.P. (Before Pregnancy). There have been weeks where I ate enough sandwiches and pizza to have warranted a gain of 3-5 lbs, but since being pregnant, my body is using so much energy that I burn through most of it and gain no more than a pound. NOTE: This perk only applies if you’re pregnancy has allowed you to keep your old workout schedule.

6. SOMETHING NEW TO CRY ABOUT–I was already a sucker for lovers dying in each others arms and old people eating Campbell’s soup, but now I can add men being sweet to their wives and women giving birth as reasons to get emotional!

7. GREAT HORROR FILMS–Birthing classes bring you the classics! Tons of bloody umbilical cords, alien-like creatures, scary masked doctors and creepy scratchy films depicting women giving birth in military bases from the 50’s.

8. BREAKFAST–My husband now makes me breakfast in the morning.

And last but not least…

9. MORE LOVE THAN YOU KNEW YOU COULD EXPERIENCE.

This last reason is my number one for refraining from eating poached eggs on grits. I have been lucky in that my pregnancy has brought my husband and I even closer than before.  B.P. I had already been loving my man more and more every day since I’ve known him, but as my belly has grown so has the love between my husband and I. Not in the usual way though; it’s not just more love but a new kind of love. Best way to describe it is this: before, the love I felt for my husband was growing like a skyscraper in perpetual construction heading towards the skies, but since my pregnancy, I looked down and found a whole new town of love surrounding it and filling the picture with trees, homes, shops, streets, parks and life that I had never seen before or knew was there. Does that make any sense? I know to some of you it may sound a little hoaky, but another awesome part of being pregnant I forgot to mention, is that it also makes you not give a damn.

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My Apologies To Pregnant Women

I need to publicly apologize to all the pregnant women in the world who have walked by me these last 5 1/2 months. I’m sorry for having so blatantly gawked at you. I should have had better manners, since I am from Texas, but it’s just that I feel like a dog at a kill shelter watching my buddy who’s been in the slammer for 3 1/2 months longer than me, and I know where he’s going is where I’m going.  So yeah, I’m scared. Especially before my bump started to show. Back then I felt like I was in hiding, able to observe from a safe distance. I don’t know how the preggos didn’t sniff me out.  I thought being pregnant was like being gay–if you are one you know who else is. But they never caught on and so I watched with mouth agape as they waddled to their cars, picked out baby room decor and asked for the nearest restroom.

But now I’m here and starting to show and I don’t know if I like that people can tell. Especially since I’m in that weird stage of it, where to some it may look like I’ve been drinking too much beer rather than had sex without protection. As a result, karma’s getting the better of me and I’m getting double gawked at by other incognito mother’s-to-be and the security dude at my office. And I understand it, I’m a walking “Morphing-Into-Something-Else-Being” right now. I’m straddling the two worlds of no baby and yes baby and no one can do anything but watch as I drift into another reality and become one of “them”.

“Them” as in couples with babies. Not that I ever wanted to think of them as “them”, but so many families rip themselves from the rest of us. And I don’t think that has to be the case. When my husband and I visited Barcelona a couple of years ago, families were walking around and hanging out at bars and restaurants filled with drunken singles. They didn’t get all huffy when a person next to their baby started smoking or got wasted. Sure they might have moved the kid, but they moved, they didn’t ask anyone else to. To each his own! As a result, all seemed happy. The parents didn’t even look like parents the way American parents do. Something about parents here; it’s like they lose their identity and end up looking like casual fashion ads from REI where the family is dressed to compliment one another so everyone can see they are of the same unit. While overseas parents were just as dressed up or down as anyone else-very much themselves; by chance they had a little one dangling off their shoulders, but they kept talking away with their friends without their kids interrupting or expecting to be the center of attention.

So why is it that the generation that brought pajamas to office attire and tattoos to the mainstream have somehow or other become more obnoxiously sterile and constrictive about what a family should be than those in the 50’s who propagated the Stepford Wife nuclear family ideal? Aren’t we cooler than that? Do we have to be so uptight like a bad rom-com female protagonist? The strangest part about it all is that some have assumed that I’d like to be one of “them” without ever even asking.

Just because I’m gonna be a mom, please don’t assume I want to go to baby conventions and events (seriously I just found out about some). Just because I’m gonna be a mom, don’t think that being a mom is the number one thing on my mind (well except in my blog). And don’t think because I’m gonna be a mom, I’m as excited about joining the mommy club as you might have been.

Thank God we have friends who somehow balance being parents with being people. I know there are ways to make life’s conventional roles your own. In my marriage, we never assumed that we needed to “settle down” and only hang out with other married couples. We continued to surround ourselves with all different people in all different stages of their lives. Of course, I did feel a similar slip into a different reality when I left the world of singles. It was a little scary then to know I’d no longer get to spend a night with girlfriends partying it up to prove that the guy who dumped me made an obviously major mistake (look at me now!); but the change into married life felt reasonable since many of our friends were in relationships themselves. We may have been the only married people for awhile, but not the only couple, so we never felt too different. But suddenly a baby comes on board and I see it in the eyes of my friends–I’m falling off the life raft and slowly slipping into the abyss. As my stomach grows I see their faces grow more distant. I want to say, please don’t let me fall, but I know they’re just waiting to see if I can swim.

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