mairin


i want to share news of this pregnancy, and widely, but without imposing on anybody in unnecessary ways. i want to share pictures, and give psychological and emotional updates, but i don’t want to fill people’s e-boxes with my very own version of spam. how can i do this? why, by keeping a blog, of course.

so s and i have started a new blog, which you can find here. or at the bottom of my blogroll, in its very own category. it has only a few posts now, and is not (yet) super informative. i don’t plan on telling folks about it until we’re ready to share the news of the pregnancy, but i thought i’d start working on it now so that when we are ready to share it, whenever/ifever that is, there will be something to read. but i warn you: it will not be for the faint or delicate reader. there is a widget. there will be ultrasound photos. if we get anywhere with this pregnancy, there will be belly shots. there will be all kinds of things that there won’t be here, because i like my readers here and i don’t want to lose them because they don’t want to see pics. or hear regular/gooey/name-your-despised- adjective updates.

it is also going to be very public. it will be primarily for our friends and family, but now that includes you, too, so you can choose, as can they, whether you want to read it and how much you really want to know.

i will not discourage my readers here from reading there, but i will not tell my readers there about this blog, here. i need a place to talk without worrying. i need a safe place to vent, and to process, and to bitch, and to confess. so that’s the me you’ll get here.

as for the me you’ll get there? i’m not really sure. i don’t imagine i’ll be all happy-go-lucky. i guess we’ll learn who that person is, together. if you come over.

and if you don’t stop by? honestly, i can’t say that i blame you. i’m not sure i could, either.

m has two buddies at playschool: m2, whom she teases by holding out a toy while running away from her, and d. we haven’t really sorted out m’s relationship with d, but d comes running to the door every time m is dropped off, and he always walks us to the door to say good-bye.  d first came to our attention when we were told that m had been patting his face at lunchtime and inadvertently scratched his cheek so would we please trim her fingernails, thank you very much.

yesterday, it turns out, m and d were playing at the “kitchen” in their playroom. d apparently was in m’s spot. so m bit him. and got her very first time out.

i feel terrible that she bit another child, but i can’t quit laughing at the idea that she got a time out. i can see her, making a face and throwing a tantrum and shaking her head and banging her forehead against the wall (her latest way of telling us just how really stupid we truly are), all the while standing in the corner just like she’s told because she is generally an incredibly obedient child. mostly, though, i love the idea that she was bossing someone around in the kitchen.  in our house, she would have learned that from her dad. not that he’s bossy in the kitchen — he’s just, well, actually in the kitchen, actually doing things, far more than i am. while m and s were home together they baked bread most days in addition to preparing dinners so that we could all eat together when i got home from work. so she’s got a lot of experience seeing a man be super-handy in the food department. plus, what little tv we actually watch includes the occasional viewing of good eats featuring alton brown, cooking away and making her daddy laugh out loud. a man in the kitchen, in m’s experience, is a good, good thing.

so when i think about what could have been happening with d, i can only imagine that he was doing something unmanly, like washing the dishes, and m thought he should be doing more, like, you know, cooking a meal. for her. (on the other hand, i guess it’s possible that she is my daughter after all, and just decided that she’d shared long enough and someone else was in her space and she didn’t know what to do except lash out.  but i like the first scenario better. it’s more flattering to all of us.)

to sleep…

nobody in our house has been sleeping much. m started playschool early in december and immediately got sick. while looking inside her mouth for telltale signs of impending doom (like what, i’m not sure), we found evidence of molars. for the rest of the month she battled a series of colds that eventually turned into a sinus infection, all the while cutting four gigantic teeth. before going to bed each night she got a dose of amoxicillan, tylenol, and sudafed. even doped up like this she would still sleep for a measly 2-3 hours at best before waking, screaming, begging to come to bed with us.

as i suspect most parents who sleep with young children in their beds know, there is no rest for the co-sleeping family. m would rest her head on me and her feet on s. she would pat my chest or face when she woke up and would kick s when she was restless. we were all really, really tired.

add to that that i taught a week-long seminar on dissertation writing to advanced grad students in the middle of december in addition to my regularly scheduled work, and then throw in the holidays, and you can guess what sorts of wrecks we all were.

but m has recovered and has now slept from 7 pm to 6 am two nights in a row; the night before those she stayed asleep until 4:30 am, which at that point was manna from heaven. so we’re all feeling better and starting to catch up on our sleep. kind of. m and s are better rested. i, on the other hand, am at the whim of v4.0.

v4.0 seems to be a 5:30 kinda kid. yesterday i awoke at 5:30 and had a hard time falling back asleep. although i eventually did, it was only moments before m. woke up half-babbling, half-fussing, asking to be rescued from her isolation. this morning i did not fall back to sleep at all. which gave me ample time to ponder my dreams.

perchance to dream

with m i had two basic kinds of funky pregnancy dreams: in the first, i would revisit my grandmother’s house (my touchstone for growing up) and discover all sorts of weird things i should have known about my family that i didn’t (i attribute this to the grief therapy i was going through at the time); in the second, i would have sex. with lots of people (not at the same time). but almost never with s. and i almost always felt guilty about it, both in the dream and in real life.

for most of 2006, when we would wake up in the morning s would ask me one of two questions: “did you go to grandma’s house last night?” or “who did you sleep with this time?” the dream with the greatest staying power was the one where i hooked up with two swimmers — you know, the olympian sort. i was actually a little creeped out by this, but s was really amused. i guess maybe it’s relieving to know that it takes two of somebody else to replace the one of you.

well, i must be pregnant now because the sex dreams are back. last night i dreamt that i was shopping for wine to take to a party for dr. cox from scrubs. who did i run into at the shop, picking up appetizers, but zach braff! we got to talking, he offered me a ride to the party, and on the way there he asked me to marry him. then he chuckled and held out his hand for me to shake, as if that would seal the deal. i didn’t know where to start with all the reasons that i couldn’t marry him, but i ran through them all: i’m not single, i have a child with s, you would have to be her stepfather and are you really ready for that? i even tried telling him i’m far too old for him, but he was unconvinced. he said he was ready for a family and this was perfect. i pondered telling him i was pregnant but then actually decided not to, because maybe later he would believe that it was his kid.

all of this talk of marriage led to the inevitable bedroom scene where suddenly he wasn’t zach braff but he was john dorian of scrubs, the kind of geek with girls that makes it pretty certain he’s a two-minute man. and he was. and i kept thinking, for the rest of the dream, that that’s what it must be like to sleep with a virgin, and it has to get better, and last longer, and be more pleasurable. right?

and so i debated with myself. do i ditch s to hook up with a smart funny celeb, even if he needs a little training in the intimacy department? on the other hand, how great would my new jet-setting life be! think of all the people i’d get to meet and hang out with! OR… do i keep my family together, stay with the man i love, raise our kids together, and stick with my quiet little local life somewhere in the middle of the u.s.? braff is cute and all, but at the end of the day, it’s not a hard call.

which is especially easy to say since it was only a dream.

DR tells me that her daughter also has shoe, um, preferences, and suggested that maybe m’s issues with her mary janes is the grown-up-ness of the shoe itself. that got me thinking. i had already considered that maybe m was reacting to the shine of the patent (p)leather. and then m exhibited such determinination to fasten the straps herself, i thought maybe those little flowered straps were responsible for her fetishization.

and then one morning m brought her new shoes into my bedroom and put them down on the floor, next to my black shoes that i was getting ready to put on.  aha! my daughter wants to be like me.  like most mamas, i was happy to believe that.

well.

last night we needed diapers and a window scraper (turns out we’ve lost ALL of ours — we used to live in minnesota, for god’s sake) and now we’re driving around with frost-encrusted windows. so m and i bundled up and headed off to target.

once inside the store there are many, many ways to get to the diaper aisle. i happened to choose the one that went past the shoes. and we were no more than 3 or 4 strides in when m started pointing desperately at her right foot, which she had lifted as high as the shopping cart seat leg-holes would allow, and started making that charming “unnh, unnhh” toddler sound. i asked her if she wanted her shoe off. she nodded. i took it off. then she pointed at a pair of shoes on the shelf and repeated the process– lift foot. point. whine. i asked her if she wanted to try on that shoe. she nodded.

i swear. i swear i had never taken her shoe-shopping before the first mary jane incident. nor have i had money to shop for shoes myself in m’s recent memory. she has not learned this behavior from actually shopping for shoes. i have no idea where this is coming from. but it is here.

we spent the next few minutes trying to find shoes she liked. seriously. one shoe she requested made her cry as soon as i put it on her. another shoe she liked so much that she wanted to hold it, not wear it. we finally found a really, too-cute pair of brown mary janes with pink flowers around the edges. no glitter, no shine, and as an added bonus, softer soles than her black shoes. (say bye-bye to the clomp-clomping of little feet!) m was thrilled.

for the rest of our shopping time she wore one black mj on her left foot and one brown one on her right. the match to the new brown shoe was dangling by an elastic thread from the shoe m was wearing, but that dangling seemed preferable to me trying to take the shoe off (NOOOO!) and separate the pair and then fight over which shoe — black and shiny or brown and flowery? — was meant to be on her left foot.

she was tickled to show her dad her new shoes when we got home, and was very happy to put them on this morning. so happy, in fact, that she eschewed the fleece jacket her dad tried to dress her in and opted for — i’m serious here — a brown sweater with flowers on it. yeah, you got it — a sweater that is a perfect complement to her brown shoes with flowers on them. is it possible that she loved the shoes so much because they reminded her of a sweater she wears all the time? or, holy christ, does my fifteen-month-old have both a shoe-fetish and a highly-evolved fasion sense?

comments from my coworkers, in ascending order of inanity:

from my secretary, a woman who just took two weeks off to spend with her two-week old grandson, when i asked her how her holidays were:

oh great, just great. i mean, the baby is sooooo cute. he’s 13 pounds already! but he had an infection and had to spend two days in the hospital. gosh, that was really hard. but everything’s great now. how are you? are you feeling great too?

from the president, whose first grandchild was born about two weeks before ruby died, and who saw me yesterday carrying m in the late afternoon:

oh, well, look at her! she is just adorable. now, is this the big…[awkward silence]…one?

and from another colleague who saw me with m (s had a job “interview” on campus yesterday, so i was on mommy-duty for an hour or so), and who knew i had been pregnant, who had seen me very visibly pregnant, who even talked to me about being pregnant:

oh, she’s beautiful. just beautiful. she must be the light of your life. is she your only child?

i was actually so fed up by that point that i looked her in the eye and said “only if you don’t count the dead ones.”

i’ve heard lots of women talk about the kind of person grieving mothers become, at least for a period of time when their grief is raw. i like cecily’s description — because i fit it:

That is what grief does to you; it makes you alternately gracious and kind, and also small and mean.

a bit of me, especially (and unfortunately) at work, is in small and mean mode.  maybe i should try being small and mean with my mouth closed.

when i was pregnant with mairin i had a lot of anxiety about having a daughter. in part i was worried that i would lose her, as i had lost her older sister. but once that seemed unlikely, i was simply worried about raising a girl. more precisely, i was worried i would raise a floozy.

every time we go to a park and i see little girls running around in frilly skirts with nail polish (invariably chipped, because manicuring a 3-yr-old’s nails can NOT be an easy thing to do) i cringe. at summertime parties when i see girls in grade schools wearing belly-baring halters i look away. i mean, really. what are their parents thinking? who let the girls out the door looking like that? and worse, who made such outfits possible in the first place? don’t buy it for the kids, i reasoned, and they won’t have a chance to wear it.

even gifts of clothes can require careful management. a good friend of mine who travels regularly to italy brought m back an italian bikini. the top is the classic two-triangles-over-the-breasts style; the bottom is a thong. A TODDLER THONG! that’s just not right. but i dutifully took the bikini with us to the beach this past summer, and one day even put it on m. all the sane people on vacation with us agreed with me that it was a little creepy — a little too sexualized for a young child. (luckily, the diaper underneath the thong made it more funny than weird. but still.) m did NOT leave the house until she was wearing her jaunty, surfer-inspired outfit, with all her little baby girl parts appropriately covered.

well. my fears and failures — those that are obvious as well as pending — are here to haunt me. on a recent expedition to buy m an extra crib sheet i decided to have a look at shoes for her, since her older cousin handed down a lovely red velvet holiday dress that m can wear this year. now, m is a rough-and-tumble, robeez-wearing kinda kid. she falls a lot, and rarely cries while she picks herself up and toddles off. there is nothing demure about her. nice dresses and fancy shoes are not her thing. but every girl needs a party dress, right? and since all great outfits are built from the shoe up,  we needed to check things out.

as we looked at various shoes — a novelty for m, who typically gets little to no say in what she wears — she became enraptured with a pair of black patent mary janes. ok, i thought to myself. that’s kind of classic: red dress, white tights, black shoes. i can live with that. so we find a pair in her size, i take off one of her yellow-sunflower robeez, and i slip on one of the mary janes.

and that was that.

m would not let me take the shoe back off. i mean, i COULD take it off, but i was certainly going to hear about it. even the magic snack bag — a baggy endlessly supplied with cheerios, raisins and cheddar bunnies, and which makes all bad things seem bearable — did nothing to assuage the poor kid. she eventually had a meltdown in the baby-bedding aisle, the kind that requires you to hold the screaming child and rub her back while she snots and blub-blubs all over your shoulder. she eventually calmed down and was willing to sit back in the cart…as long as she could wear one of her shoes.

so ok, i think. it’s a bit of a novelty for her, she’s come down with a cold from her cousins over thanksgiving, and she’s suffering from massive holiday-craziness-induced sleep deprivation. she’s not herself. we’ll get home, we’ll show daddy the shoes, and when she’s ready to have them taken off we’ll put them away. all will be well.

[insert maniacal laughter here]

yesterday morning i got a call at work from s, telling me that m had cried and cried when he tried to put her brown robeez on her. she gave him sad face and the ASL sign for “all done” — what don’t you understand, daddy? i DO NOT WANT TO WEAR THOSE SHOES! she kept whining and reaching for the mary janes, which s dutifully put on. m spent the rest of the day gleefully clomp-clomping around in those stiff-soled shoes.

when i came home from work she came to show me her shoes. i took some pictures. (so what? a little enabling never hurt anyone.) then eventually it was dinnertime, and then bathtime, and then jammy time, and then…NO. NO BOTTLE. MUST HAVE SHOES.

the mary janes are NOT made to fit over fleece footed sleepers, but m would not rest until both shoes were on her feet. i wanted to win the small victory of at least not taking off  her pajamas. so we crammed and squeezed and shoved until, lo and behold, the kid was walking around in flowery-blue fleece jammies with black patent leather mary janes on her feet.

i didn’t even try to take them off until after she was asleep. i put them out of sight. i was not going to repeat this nonsense tomorrow.

alas, when it was time to put m’s robeez on this morning, she fussed, whined, looked completely forlorn, and practically screamed the “ALL DONE!” sign at me. she reached and reached for her shoe shelf, even though she could not see the shoes she wanted.  i caved. i pulled out the mary janes and put them on her feet. she was instantly as happy as, well, as a toddler who got her way. she clambered down off my lap and joyfully clomp-clomped her way around our second floor.

so there it is: mary jane as gateway drug. this is undoubtedly the beginning of a long and tortured relationship between my sense of propriety and m’s insistence on being her own person, dammit.

now how i do i make sure she doesn’t turn out to be a floozy?

mairin is one of eight cousins, ranging in age from 5 months (her fave, baby e) to 15 years (her least fave, cousin l, a tall kid whose height really scares her). throw all those kids in a room with a wii and let the fun begin.

which is to say, it’s been a crazy weekend.

last night i brought m home early because she kept climbing in my lap and squirming and crying, which didn’t annoy me until it began to interfere with my focus on my glass of wine . when m and i got home we put on jammies and brushed our teeth, climbed into the big bed in our room, and cuddled while she drank her bottle and fondled her bellybutton. when she was done she handed me her bottle and sank a little further into the bed.

but she didn’t close her eyes.

usually at bedtime m finishes her bottle she hands it to me, then rolls over and goes to sleep; a few minutes later i carry her into her crib. but last night she lay next to me, eyes wide open, slowly looking around the room. when it was clear to me she wasn’t going to go to sleep anytime soon i started talking to her quietly about her day. i reminded her of the games she’d played, the people she’d seen, how much fun she’d had. as i was talking she turned toward me and smiled that all-heart smile that every toddler reserves for just the right moment to melt a grown-up’s heart.

feeling all gooey and melty myself, i smiled back, kissed her on the top of her head, and kept talking. i told her what a good girl she was. her smile got bigger. i told her that she is my favorite 15-month-old. her smile got a little bit bigger. i told her i love her. she lifted her head a little more and then slowly started to nod.

yes mama, you love me.

tertia talked last week about the incredible feeling that is mommy-love — the all-encompassing affection and devotion that parents feel towards their kids. i love that feeling. love love love it. that feeling is my addiction: i love loving these little people. it makes me bigger and more spacious — my heart has a room in it for each daughter, and each room is its own little big sky country.

what more can a girl ask for?