You’d think it was a Saturday in the fall…

I’m not sure what prompted me to dress my child in PSU clothes on the same day that her daddy was sporting the Nittany Lion logo, but I thought we should go with it and get a picture.  Especially for the crazy, I mean, faithful Penn State fans in our lives.  You know who you are. 

PS.  When I see this picture, I can’t help but be a little sad that my baby is in a sweatshirt, my husband in a long-sleeved t-shirt and I’m in tights & heels.

Learning to Drive

The last three miles to my grandparents house is on a back road.  You know those roads that have a few houses, more farms, and an old elementary school? It’s the kind of road that has a turn here and there and a hill or two.  Except for a school bus, a tractor or the occasional deer, it’s a quiet road. Especially in the middle of the day when the people who live in “the Valley” (as we call it) have gone to work.  It’s a simple place and the cars that travel through are in no particular hurry.  

It’s the road where I learned to drive.  When I was barely old enough to see over the steering wheel while sitting on his lap.  Coming back to Pap’s house after going out for breakfast or a Burger King lunch with Grandma; as soon as we got to the intersection by the hospital Pap would look at me and grin.  He’d unbuckle my seatbelt and I’d crawl on his lap.  We’d slow down, take our time and he let me steer the red pick up truck those last few miles home.  Unbuckled, with the window down, his arm holding me around the waist.  He’d tell me I was doing good and to keep it between the lines.  

I could say that during those three mile driving lessons I learned about taking control or confidence.  I could say I learned the thrill of doing something that I probably wasn’t supposed to do. I could say I learned about trust and knowing that Pap would never, ever let me get hurt.  But really, all I know is that more than a year since he’s been gone when we come to that intersection by the hospital, I remember sitting on his lap and driving his truck.  

As I see my daughter play with her grandfathers, I see them let her pull their hair.  They try to sneak her cookies, walk her around the house and blow raspberries on her tummy.  They will be the ones that say “yes” when I say “no.”  They will spoil her, buy her too many presents and let her stay up past her bedtime.  On their watch, she might not be dressed in matching clothes, they might forget her hat or let her have ice cream for lunch.  And hopefully, when the time is right, they will find an old back road and they will let her drive.     

My daughter with my father

 

What moment or memories from your childhood are you hoping your child gets to experience as well? 

Where did the last 5 months go?

And when did I stop counting in days and weeks?  It seems like just yesterday that I was answering how pregnant I was in weeks (Most conversations went something like, “I’m 35 weeks pregnant, yes I have a few more weeks to go, even though I am the size of a house. Thank you.”) Then in late September I was counting down the days until I met my baby or the number of days I went past my due date.   

Then I was welcoming visitors into my house and gushing over my newborn who was 10 days old already or going back to work and telling everyone about my 6-week old munchkin. 

But now? My squishy little newborn is a full-fledged BABY.  Who babbles and giggles, rolls around in her crib, pulls my hair, puts EVERYTHING in her mouth and wears shoes.  She’s five months old and I would have to do the math to figure out how many weeks or days old she is.

How is time going so fast that I don’t know how many days it has been since I met the person who stole my heart right from my chest?

Finding Balance

Finding balance has been the hardest part of the four months I’ve been back to work.  Wanting to be as productive and on my game as I was pre-baby but not sacrificing my baby for my job.  I know I’m not the only mother to face this.  I’m not special or any worse off than anyone else. 

Most days I’m pretty good at recognizing that this is the life I chose.  I knew before I got pregnant that I would be a working mom.  Because I like to work.  I like getting up, getting out of the house, having adult conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, not working is not an option.  We are a two income family.  But, knowing that staying at home is not an option helps me to put things in perspective.  I am able to remind myself that part of my job as C’s mother is providing for her.  Because I work, she has a house with a yard she can run and play in (you know, after she learns to walk), she has Pampers on her butt and food on her table. 

I don’t feel like a part-time mom.  But it’s hard to know that my kid spends more time with her grandmother than me.  It’s hard to realize at 10AM on a Tuesday that I’m already so far behind that I have two hours of work awaiting me after I put C to bed.  It makes my gut twist when I see my husband look at me out of the corner of his eye when I answer an email while I’m feeding her.  I feel guilty calling my mom three weekends in a row to ask her to babysit while I try to catch up.  I hate that I probably missed the first time she rolled over and I recognize that may be one of many firsts that I miss. 

The place I question myself the most as a mother is letting my job take up so much of my time and my attention.  I’ve promised myself that when she needs me I’ll be there for her.  I’ve sworn that I will be there for her doctor appointments.  I will leave work early for sporting events.  Hell, maybe I’ll even coach her softball team (eh.. maybe not.  I’ll be the mom that brings the snacks.)  These are easy promises to make when your kid is five months old.  I’ve never had to put them into practice. 

Until last week.  When I took a few days off work.  In the middle of tight deadlines and deadlines that I had already missed by a mile (at this point are any of you wondering why I’m still employed?).  I put a request into my boss, said my kid needs to be on a better daytime schedule and I would be out for a few days doing it.  And out I was.   Now, the scheduling thing didn’t really work out because she got sick.  But I was with her father when we took her to the doctor (twice).  I comforted her when she cried, walked the hall with her at night and didn’ t think about what was happening at the office.  Even when the little red light was flashing on my phone indicating that I had emails. I ignored them when my daughter needed me.  Granted Nap War 2010 was an epic fail, but I feel a little better in knowing that I can turn off the career driven voice in my head and focus on my baby.

Flashing my “First Time Mom” badge

I don’t have Mommy instinct.  There I said it.  To everyone who said “you’ll just know what to do,” I say “you lied”.  I don’t know what to do.  When C was a wee one and went through a fussy spell every night in the early evening, I read “Happiest Baby on the Block” to learn how to soothe her.  I decided what to dress her in for bed because it was what a friend of mine dressed her daughter in.  When she got to the age that I thought she should be learning to put herself to sleep, I asked another friend for advice and bought “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”.  We decided to start solid foods because the doctor said we could.  “Just knowing” has not been a part of my parenting experience.

So.  When I kissed the back of C’s head yesterday afternoon and it was hot enough to make me take her temperature (101.4) I immediately flashed back to our child birth class.  The one where a pediatrician came in and talked to us about when to go to the doctor.  My head was spinning as I texted friends, talked to my mother-in-law and called Craig.  My thoughts were jumbled, 90 miles an hour and went something like this: 

“My baby has a fever. OMG.  MY BABY HAS A FEVER.  It’s 101.4.  That’s high for babies, right?  The doctor said to bring her in if it was more than 101 and they were under 6 months.  Or was it 100 degrees and 3 months.  I can’t remember.  I think it was 101 degrees, under 3 months.  But she’s 5 months.  So, what do I do?  I should call.  No, I’m not calling.  She could be teething.  I’ll give her some Tylenol.  Ok, I should still call.  They’ll make me bring her in and it could be nothing.  Maybe I’ll give it an hour.  No, in an hour the office will be closed.  I think maybe I’ll call and ask if they can see her.  But Oh, hell, I haven’t showered yet today.  I’ll wash my face while I call.  OH MY GOD MY BABY HAS A FEVER.”

Craig made the decision easy and told me to call.  So I did and got an appointment for 6:10.  Where she played and giggled in the waiting room.  Another mother even said to me, “She sure doesn’t look sick”.  Then they took her temperature and found it was 99.4.  Could be a difference in thermometers, could be that the Tylenol kicked in.  Doctor gave her a clean bill of health and said to watch her an if it got to be 104 to bring her back. 

OHHHHH….104 is the magic number.  OK then.  Here is my first time mom badge and my $20 co pay.   Have a lovely day.

“Give faith a fighting chance”

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,
I hope you dance, I hope you dance

-I Hope You Dance; LeeAnn Womak

Dear Baby Girl,

It’s been five months since you entered this world and completed my life.  In five months you have learned so much and taught me even more.  In our lifetime together there will be many more lessons for us both, but today I want to talk to you about faith.  Not the kind that comes with the structure of going to church, although we will talk about that at another time.  But the kind of faith where you just sort of let go, and let life happen. 

I’ve talked to you a lot about working hard to get what you want.  I’ve preached about being determined and not giving up.  And I mean all of that.  But there’s another side of it.  Sometimes, honey, some things are just a leap of faith.  There will be some things that you can’t control, and then you have to let it go and have faith that it will work out. 

Love is leap of faith.  Trust means putting faith in someone else. Reaching for the stars means having faith that you’ll catch one.  Forgiveness means having faith that you won’t regret it.  My greatest hope for you is that you’re able to do all of these things.  Chose to throw caution to the wind and love someone with a fierceness that will scare you.  Then trust that he will have the good sense to guard your heart with care.   Go after your dreams and give it all you’ve got, even when the outcome is unsure.  And, when your feelings are hurt or someone is unkind to you, find a way to forgive and rebuild your friendship. 

There is a certain relief in giving something up to God, to knowing that it will work out – one way or another – and trusting that the final outcome will be what’s best.  It’s a hard place to get to.  And being there once doesn’t mean it will be easy the next time it feels like something is out of your control.  But when all else fails and there’s nothing left to do but hope?  Then hope, little one.  Take a deep breath, give faith a fighting chance and dance. 

I love you, sweet girl.

I need a baby instruction manual

I don’t even know what word I would use to describe this weekend.  Hard. Terrible. Frustrating. Painful.  There was fussing and crying and tears.  There was yelling and a head of lettuce thrown across the kitchen*.  There was bitterness and heartbreak at not understanding what she needed and pleading with her to just TELL ME what she wanted.  There was a massive glass of  wine consumed late Saturday afternoon. 

For the first time since C was about three weeks old, there was literally nothing I could do to comfort my daughter.  She didn’t want to play, didn’t want to sleep.  She was fed, dry and comfortable temperature-wise. And after a few hours the sound of her crying was literally like a knife to the heart.  I just wanted it to stop.  I tried laying her down and letting her cry while I cried on the floor beside her pack ‘n play, but frankly I suck at that.  So I walked around with her and let her cry in my arms and did my best to keep it together.  (Obviously not completely successfully – hence the head of lettuce that I threw into the kitchen sink when she screamed as I tried to make a sandwich.)  When she calmed down a little I put her in the exercauser while I took a bath.  That lasted exactly two minutes. 

When Craig came home he found us on our bed – me with my hair still in a towel and inches from losing my mind and C eating with tear-filled eyes.  He took her and gave me time to pull my shit together.  As I calmed myself down, I devised a plan.  The baby needs a schedule.  Kids thrive on knowing what comes next.  It’s what all the books say and want every friend of mine who has babies older than C swear by.  And, it’s what my gut has been whispering to me for two months.  So, OK.  I decided I would take a few days off at the end of the week, and come hell or high water,  I will put this baby on a schedule.  She will get up at a consistent time and nap at consistent time.  I expect more tears (from both of us) and more wine (for me).  But we will do this. 

Only now, 28 hours later, writing this, I’m wavering.  Because now, it’s hit me that she’s five month old and maybe, just maybe, she’s fussy because she’s teething.  I’m not sure if it was process of elimination that gave it away or Craig pointing out that she was chowing down on a teething ring like it was baby crack.  Why oh, why didn’t I think of this earlier?  And why didn’t I trust my gut two months ago when I thought she needed a schedule?  If I had A) this would be behind us or B) I could narrow down the cause.   So, now?  I don’t know.  I still think she needs a schedule and I still think I’m going to try to put her on one, but hopefully with a little more patience and understanding that what I had on Saturday. 

I hate, hate, hate that I was so flustered with my baby.  I’m annoyed at myself for being short with my husband and that when she went to bed, I feel asleep (probably from the massive glass of wine) instead of taking time to actually talk to him.  I feel guilty that I didn’t lift a finger to do any kind of cleaning and very little cooking all weekend long.  I’m anxious that I’m starting the work week with a list that didn’t get any shorter over the weekend. 

I know that this was not the norm.  (Actually the cooking and cleaning thing is, but I want to work on that.)  I’m usually a really good mom to my daughter.  I know that it will get better and it won’t always be like this.  I just really think that babies should come with instruction manuals that tell you if they are tired, teething or just hate you. 

*No lettuce or child was harmed this weekend, I swear.