Saturday, February 27, 2010


So, I was of the camp whose philosophy it is to not allow children under two to watch TV. That's what the AAP says. That's what all my books say. No TV includes no Baby Einstein videos, no Disney movies, and the like. I read the info. I even read some research on the subject while proofreading a shrink friend's paper. It can confuse and damage the way a baby learns. That's serious stuff.

And then one day, oh probably around Norah being 7 or 8 months of age, I felt like crap. I just wanted to sit with Norah on my lap and do nothing. That is tough when your baby just discovered crawling, and it's the greatest thing since, I don't know, rolling over. I dusted off a Baby Einstein video that we had never even unwrapped (a gift), and popped it in the DVD player.

Norah was memorized. It was about animals. She sat with me, captivated, for nearly the entire video. She giggled. She sat, mouth agape. It was... awesome.

And, like all things "bad," you start out with a little, and then it grows. Once you do something bad the first time, the second time is a hell of a lot easier. You can push that guilty little nagging down into your stomach. Here, watch this while Mommy makes lunch. Here, watch this while Mommy showers. Here, watch this while Mommy sits and does nothing for a while.

So, now it's Baby Einstein, Martha Speaks, Arthur, and Dexter's Laboratory (okay, that last one is really for Ryan and I). I even know the theme songs. I even sing them for Norah and she smiles, recognizing her TV friends. She goes to Grandma's and points to their TV. Now Grandma allows Sesame Street. And Norah can say "cookie," (well, "coo-coo"), and it's not for the snack; it's for the fuzzy blue monster.

Is it all over? Have I irreparably damaged my daughter? Will her attention span be short? Will she be dumb? Will she stop liking everything except the glowing devil box?

Okay, I'm not a monster; we don't have her sitting in front of the tube all the time. She still would much rather play with her tow truck or her Silly Town or read books than watch TV (thankfully). But we're obviously not such sticklers on TV anymore. Making dinner is a hell of a lot easier when someone is not hanging on your leg. Granted, I probably let her watch a little more than I should, but I am working on it. I don't want her to be a TV addict. She can wait until she's in her 30s for that. Lost, The Office, Project Runway, NCIS... sigh. I need to work on myself.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Only a Mother Would...

Everyone says that your life will completely change once you have kids. I remember BN (Before Norah) when I'd sort of roll my eyes at the tired old cliche. And I remember thinking "duh" when I was pregnant. But truly, nothing anyone could possibly say could prepare you for this change that people speak of.

Among the major life-altering changes, there are little things that remind me that I am now in fact a mother.

Never in a million years did I think I would (or could)...

  • Catch vomit/spit up in my hand
  • Be completely unable to watch any newscast about something terrible happening to a child
  • Also being unable to watch Law and Order Special Victims Unit
  • Wipe a poop-covered butt while singing "Yellow Submarine"
  • Put a thermometer up another living being's butt
  • Eat peas with a giant smile for moral support (I hate peas)
  • Live on two-hour stretches of sleep
  • Not shower for two+ days
  • Cheerfully dance about to soul-killing children's music
  • Pick someone else's nose
  • Allow my shoulder to become a snot rag
  • Put my nose right up to a butt to take a whiff 
  • Root for another human to burp (the bigger, the better)
  • Call anything "ba ba," "tooters," or "bun bun"
  • Keep smiling despite spit-up in my eye
  • Fish a turd out of a tub

And I'm sure the list will keep on growing. And sometimes I wonder if I've lost myself in this role of Mother. And I probably have, to some extent. But when you see that first smile in the morning when you walk into her room, as if she missed you so desperately, you don't see the booger crusted in her hair. Well, you see it. But it's not so gross.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is This Wrong?

Babies and adults are a lot alike when they're sick. One big factor is the short fuse. I'm sick right now, and every time I encounter a rude student or a poor driver or something of the like, I feel the urge to snap and scream an entire lecture to them. This is unlike Normal Heather.

Of course, I haven't snapped yet, but there are fingernail marks in my palm. Norah doesn't have a censor button yet, so her meltdowns are loud and frequent. Dad went into the bathroom and closed the door. She collapses as if her will to live has ceased. The twisted face of anguish, a silent pause leading up to the wail.

Now, I don't blame her. She's a baby. That's how she rolls. But I'm tired.

It's not only the meltdowns. It's the sleepless nights. You get a little spoiled after a while. If I got two hours in a row sleeping during the newborn stage, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now? Just one 30-minute interruption in the night destroys me for the next day, especially when I'm sick. So I'm tired.

I want a break. And I feel guilty for wanting a break.

I know some might think that's stupid, everybody needs a break, and some might be thinking, "Toughen up, pussy. Moms don't get breaks." I don't know if it's okay or not. All I know is that I'd like a couple hours to myself. This seems harmless, but the guilt remains. If I did have "me time," I'd probably spend it cleaning my pit of a house to ease the guilt. Do you think Ryan cleans when he has an hour free? Hell no. It's Xbox time.

Can I want a break? Can I take a break without feeling guilty? Can I even ask someone to help me acquire this break time without feeling embarrassed or guilty? It's so ridiculous. I can't ask anyone because they'll inevitably say "Oh, of course you deserve a break!" even if they don't really feel that way. (Minnesotans are nice. Liars, but nice.)

We'll see how frazzled I am by the weekend. Maybe it will be motivation enough to ask for help. Just some trashy TV time. Maybe shopping. A haircut. Reading a pictureless book. Even finishing addressing the thank-you cards that I meant to mail a month ago.  I'll take it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Creeping Crud

No one ever tells you that your baby will have an average of 6-8 colds every year. Even if you did hear it, there's nothing that could prepare you for the suffering that your baby and you will face.

I am certain that Norah has well surpassed the 6-8 mark. We're in the middle of a doozie right now. And just when she started feeling better, Ryan and I got the same thing. Cold, hot, sweat, throat on fire, headache, body aches, and general spaciness. So now she wants us to chase her and play acrobat baby, and we want to die.

The only thing we can do is keep our thoughts to spring and summer. The beauty of summer, which is appreciated ten fold when you're from Minnesota, is quadrupled now because in summer, there is less sickness. Last summer was fantastic. Just a happy baby and happy parents.

So, this will be a shorty because I need to swill some more DayQuil or NyQuil or both. And maybe I'll find that damn groundhog that declared a longer winter and kick its ass.

Monday, February 8, 2010

First words

Besides babbling and nonsense, the first discernible word that Norah uttered was "Dada." I read in my bible, Baby 411, that dada is pretty common, as it's an easy sound to make, and that the word wasn't even really attached to Ryan or anything. Still, he gloated. And even though every squeak and coo that emitted from my sweetie's mouth was perfect and beautiful, I would revel in it, and then narrow my eyes at Ryan a little.

Next came "Mama," and life was good. Although it was spoken considerably less than dada, I was thrilled to hear it, and still am. Other sounds were pretty random; ha, la, buh, duh, etc. Although she put ha-la-buh together once and I was pretty sure her first official word was "halibut." Impressive.

But now, at 13 months, she is really starting to learn words and associate them to things. It is pretty exciting. Maybe it's old hat to veteran moms, but she might as well be splitting the atom to me.  

The first I noticed was "ball." It was one of those was-that-just--?! moments. She held her little green ball and slowly said, "baaaa." And then again. And again. And then we asked her to find the ball, and she found it. It was amazing. I still maintain that her first word was "halibut," though, when I'm feeling competitive.

The next words were "hop" (her bunny hops) and "ah-choo." I'm actually not sure if ah-choo is a real word, but we're counting it.  Grandma has a plastic giraffe with a moving head, and apparently it sneezes a lot. So ah-choo comes after she sees a giraffe. Grandma's a little worried about that. Norah also screeches "Caw!" every time she sees a bird; bluejay, chicken, duck, it doesn't matter. Grandma's also a little worried about that. I think she'll have it all sorted out by high school.

But it's really starting to hit me. I am (and Ryan) the leader. I am guiding her. I'm the one who is primarily responsible for her learning. It's terrifying. I could be sitting around, watching TV, commenting on Sarah Palin being a fucking moron, and my innocent little baby could decide to say her Bear Bear is a fucking moron. That's not good. Aside from the fact that Grandpa wouldn't like me influencing Norah's political leanings at such a young age (even though I suspect that she gets a fair dose of Fox News at my parents' house), little kids spouting off the f-bomb is somewhat frowned upon.

Swearing isn't my only concern, of course. Do I want her calling people names like her petty  mother does? And what about politics? What about religion? What about opinions on pretty much anything? I am the leader. Language is only at the very beginning. There's attitude, confidence, expectations... deep breath.

Maybe I'll just be happy that she said "ball" and leave it at that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Too Much Stuff

Ryan and I were one of those typical childless couples who would roll our eyes at the "breeders" and smugly discuss how if we had children, we'd do things the correct way. Granted, there are plenty of people who aren't jerks like we were, but, well, we were.

Among topics such as sleep training, discipline, and feeding, the subject of "stuff" would often come up. We would never be one of those families who filled their homes with all that unnecessary stuff. We thought that babies needed diapers, wipes, a few sleepers (they certainly don't need real clothes), a nuk or two, bottles, food, soap, somewhere to sleep, and a blanket. Maybe a rattle or book or something visually stimulating. Anything more than that was ridiculous and useless.

And then we had Norah. And then we hit Target. Aside from the gobs of stuff obtained from the baby shower and random gifts, we began to load our little house to the brim with everything imaginable. Our precious little angel couldn't possible live without a bouncer, swing, Bumbo, mobile, exersaucer, gym (playmat thing), a zillion dangling colorful rattles and toys, five million outfits, onesies, pants, sleepers, body suits, mittens, hats, contour wedge thing, a library of books, changing pads, glider, pack n play, and on and on and on. Our house constantly looked (and still looks) like a Babies R Us the day after Thanksgiving; packed with disheveled baby merchandise.

And I could barely even see the disaster around me. You're working, you're taking care of the kiddo, you're cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, trying desperately to catch some of The Office if it's new, bathing, playing, reading Hippos Go Berserk over and over, and occasionally trying to fit in a five-second conversation with the husband, and you don't even notice what's happened until it's 4 am and a stupidly smiling plastic skunk's pointy face is lodged in the arch of your foot.

Then you have a moment of clarity. You look around and see the horror around you. You don't know whether you want to just give up and cry, or start kicking little stuffed horses and bears in the face,  chucking rubber penguins across the room, and start scooping up everything you see to put it out for the trash.

I have always chosen the former, and then try to ignore the pain in the foot and remember the joyous shrieks of laughter when Norah knocks over a tower of blocks or puts a toy whale in the oven of her kitchen. One day all the toys will be gone. All the diaper station materials. All the tiny socks, bottles, sippy cups, plastic kitchen food, picture books, and Cheerios. And that's more sad than a cluttered house.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First post -- no clever titles yet

Well, here's the first post. And I have a little stage fright combined with writer's block and general sleepiness. I guess I'll start out with an introduction. I'll try to keep the boring details brief.

I'm a mom. A pretty new mom, too, although I think I can only use that excuse for a little bit longer. My daughter, Norah, is one. I have a husband, too-- Ryan. He's pretty great most of the time. We live in a tiny house in Minnesota and just live our lives, discovering the wonderful, terrifying, and ridiculous world of parenthood.

I decided to chronicle some stories about Norah so that she'd have something to (hopefully) laugh at when she's older. I also thought that if other people could see what an idiot I can be, that maybe they'll feel a little better about their own parenting skills. I know I like hearing about people's screw-ups. Hey, I'm only human.

So, if you also enjoy a little schadenfreude once in a while, and you like to laugh, hopefully you'll get a little of both here. Thanks for stopping by.