Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baby Crazy

I couldn't have cared less about babies BC. People would come into the office during their maternity leave to show off their newborn, and the women would line up to coo and fawn over the little aliens and beg to hold them. Not me. I politely would say something like, "Nice baby," and then return to my desk, mystified at the hens falling all over themselves trying to get closer to the tiny being.

Babies were scary, too fragile, and sometimes smelly. I didn't get it. Now I'm baby crazy.

I just cornered a student with his 7-month-old in an infant car seat. I don't even know him. But I baby talked and grilled him with a thousand questions. Is this his first? How old? Does she babble? Does she sleep well? What's her name? He humored the psycho stranger, luckily, but I wouldn't have blamed him if he would have told me to bugger off. Well, yes, I would have. Because I LOVE babies.

Ryan is horribly embarrassed by me when we go to Target or anywhere where there is a chance of baby sightings. I will inevitably glom on to the parents for my interrogation, or at the minimum grab his arm and say, "Look at that tiny itsy bitsy little baby! I want one." I know I'm a nutter. But I seriously can't help myself. I can't even walk into the baby clothes section is there's a chance of seeing newborn sizes. Tears well up in my eyes. I immediately look at Norah and try to remember her being that small. When I can't, the tears start falling.

Maybe it's a passing phase, or temporary insanity. Maybe when Norah is a little older, I won't be baby crazy anymore. I hope so. Sometimes I miss the old apathetic Heather. The one who remained emotionless at the sight of a screaming newborn at the grocery store. The one that didn't have the urge to go grab said screaming newborn, pick her up and hold her and jiggle her until she was properly soothed, then shoot the parent(s) a disapproving glare. The one who didn't hover over babies with the rest of the baby crazy women, desperately waiting to be next-in-line to hold the new baby. The sane one.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I have been in a bit of a funk lately, and today I am emerging. Why was I gloomy? Well, lots of little things. Taxes, job security worries, getting a cold, Norah getting a old, the house being a disaster, and on and on. Nothing special, I've realized. No more than anyone else on the planet. And certainly a lot less to worry about than most of the planet. So I've decided to suck it up.

First, I am thankful for my family. My 15-month old daughter woke up at 3:30 am. I was tired. So, so tired. I rocked her for a while and tried to put her down. No dice. I took her out to the couch to snuggle down, hoping desperately that she'd fall back asleep quickly as I had to get up in 2 hours, and she cooed quietly and touched my face. I'm pretty lucky.

My husband might have left his socks in the living room last night, but he also decided to take me to one of my favorite musicals playing at the Ordway (South Pacific) in a few weeks to celebrate our anniversary. Not only did he come up with that all on his own, but he also thought we should go to this quirky, cool cafe we went to when we were dating 14 years ago. Pretty cool.

My mom and sister watched Norah for a couple hours on Sunday while I met with my book club. I came home to a spotless, dirty-dish-free kitchen. I am not a cliche person, but I really felt as if something heavy had been lifted from my chest, or an Eeyore-type cloud over my head dissipated.  They could have easily just read books or watched movies and relaxed while Norah napped, but they did something for me.

And I'm thankful for my dad. He's a do-er. Evil neighbors push me to the brink? Dad builds a fence that afternoon. I buy a new washing machine? Dad is there to install, no questions asked. Leaky roof? He and Ryan head to Menards, buy shingles, and he spends his entire weekend off roofing my house while I was seven months pregnant. Amazing.

Even my mother-in-law is helpful. I am the first one to roll my eyes when she talks about how Norah is ready for potty training at 15 months (seriously), but that's pretty minor if I'm honest with myself. I really should be looking at the times she offered to take Norah with 30 seconds notice when we both had the stomach flu, or when she would happily give me a ride home from teaching at night when we only had one car.

I'm pretty damn lucky. I'm not promising that I'll quit bitching about things all together, but I will be better at reminding myself of how good we have it. Next time I think about how tired I am, I'll be thankful I have a bed at all. Next time I grumble about how busy it is at work, I'll be thankful I have a job. Next time I get down about my weight, I'll be happy I have food for my family and the extra dough to buy Little Debbies if I so choose to. Next time Norah has explosive diarrhea, I will be thankful for the invention of disposable diapers and wipes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nobody Likes a Vegetarian

It's true. Don't even try to be one of those sensitive open-minded people who always preach "each to their own." Everyone hates vegetarians-- from liberal, NPR-listening, Subaru Outback-driving, organic humus-eating lefties,  to bacon-eating, tobacky-chewing, confederate flag hat-wearing, righties. 

Hell, even fellow vegetarians hate one another. Lacto ovos hate others vegetarians because they feel guilty and possibly lazy. Lactos hate lacto ovos because they are lazy and hate vegans for being high-and-mighty. Vegans hate everyone.

Ok, some people are slightly more tolerant than others, but most people's butt cheeks clench together when they discover the hideous truth about their acquaintances, co-workers, and sometimes even... family. 

Some of this disdain is warranted. There are a lot of asshole-y veggies out there; preachy and smug about their "superior" lifestyle choices. But these few are tainting the whole population of herbivores. I'm not a judgy jerk (about food, anyway). But I can see your eyes narrow a bit when you notice me ordering a Gardenburger at a restaurant. 

Now imagine you have a baby. A poor, innocent baby who can't make these choices for her or himself. You are pushing your radical beliefs on the helpless creature. Now you're the Devil. I'm not even in the shoes of these parents, but I feel their pain.

Ryan is a hardcore meat-eater. He hates fruits and vegetables. So, Norah gets a little of everything. But guess what? She doesn't like meat. I swear I'm not brainwashing her. We give her pasta mixed with veggies and meat, and the meat comes out. Ryan hid some meat in some mashed potatoes. Potatoes in, meat out. She just doesn't like it. And I wouldn't really mind if she did. It sure would make life a little easier for her, as far as social functions go.

But a vegetarian whose child also doesn't eat meat raises suspicions in others. Of course I'm forcing my hippie ways on her. And, good God, what about protein? What about iron? I'm depriving her of essential nutrients for her brain. Hello, community college. (Wink; I work at a lovely one.) Never mind all the other bazillions of sources that are plentiful in protein and iron. I'm surprised Social Services hasn't paid us a visit.

And would it be so terrible? We're raising her with our morals and manners. It's unlikely she'd run through town throwing buckets of fake blood on people or chanting "meat is murder" at your 4th of July BBQ. She wouldn't comment on your beef jerky just as hopefully she wouldn't comment on someone's ugly shoes or poor choice in listening to John Mayer. We're fairly nice people.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't hate Norah. Hate me, go ahead, I'm sure you do now that you know the ugly truth. But Norah doesn't know all the baggage that comes with being a meat-free person. And she had fish sticks the other day, I  promise. Just know that we're not all horrible. Some of us just don't like eating meat. Just as some people don't care for Lady Gaga or generic cereal. It takes diff'rent strokes to move the world.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Blee Ba Dibby Dibby Ya

I don't know what she's saying, but I like it. Norah has started saying what appears to be baby sentences. They have the same inflection and pauses as any normal statement within a conversation. She even talks with her hands! But they're gibberish. It's both cute and amazing. She's mimicking social interactions. Pretty soon real words will fill in the nonsense. *Sniff.*

With that is also emerging some real preferences. And with preferences come dislikes as well.

"Norah, would you like a graham cracker?"

"Umm! Umm!"

"Norah, would you like a didee?" (Diaper)

Shakes head violently, indicating "hell, no."

"Norah, do you want your cup?"

"Cah...up. Cah...up."

"Norah, let Mommy get your boogies." (Boogers)

She backhands the tissue out of my hand.

So I'm starting to really see that she knows hundreds of words. She may be saying, "A ya ya glee gah," but she truly means something else. She knows what a didee is. She knows what bathtime is. It's amazing.

And I'm sure you are reading this thinking, "Well, duh, idiot." But honestly, I'm having a difficult time realizing that my baby isn't a newborn anymore. She is growing physically, mentally, and emotionally at lightening speed. I haven't caught up. I still want to feed her and rock her, and she wants to drive my car to the mall to hang out with her friend Samantha. Well, a slight exaggeration, but it might as well be.

This may be why people have more than one?

PS-- house is slightly cleaner. Getting better... 

Monday, April 5, 2010

My House Sucks And So Do I

I've never been a neat freak. I don't claim to be one. But I did imagine I'd keep a fairly clean house once Norah was born.


It's not like we never clean; it seems like we're in a perpetual state of cleaning. But life is faster and more efficient than our cleaning abilities. I put the books away. Norah rips them off the shelf ten seconds later. I wash the dishes. Five hundred dirty ones appear out of nowhere. Ryan picks up the living room. Toys get up out of their designated spots and walk back to the middle of the room. My mom comes over to help clean the kitchen. An elusive and rare indoor tornado sweeps through the house, destroying all evidence of cleanliness. The laundry pile has been crowned Mount Doom.

We can't have people pop over. We can't even have people over with a reasonable amount of notice. I'd need at least a week to get the house down to "not that embarrassing."

So, quit bitching and do something, right? That's what I tell my students (but in a nicer way). Here's the plan: 15 minutes of cleaning each night, each. We take turns, so that Norah is distracted by the non-cleaning parent. Weekends we up the time to at least 30. This should keep up us in maintenance mode. I will report back with results. Operation: Pop-ins Welcome.