Sunday, October 29, 2006

Few and Far Between

Yikes. Two posts a month. Even the "easy" way out is hard for me. Now we see why I chose this method instead of the paper baby books - I think Pi's has maybe two completed pages.

So, anyway, lots to tell - we had professional photos taken of Pi last week and I've been watching the photographer's slide show on a continuous loop with the sappy music on full blast and treating myself to a good old-fashioned weepfest. He is, as the little song I've composed for him says, the sweetest little man in the whole wide world, and the pictures of him with his daddy are too much for my heart to bear.

Pi is saying "cat" and "duck" completely without prompting now, and is repeating new and fabulous words like "dirty" and "poop". I'm tempted to make one of those word clouds with Pi's current vocabulary and hang it on his wall.

He marches over to our little CD player in the kitchen and demands "La La", and when we put the music on he dances like Jennifer Beals' dance double did when "Maniac" was playing in "Flashdance". He is also aces now at the Hokey Pokey, and when we say "somersault" he puts his head on the couch, bed or floor between his feet and waits for us to flip him all the way over.

We've also had our first few earth-shattering tantrums. He was trying to put his shoes on by himself one rare day when I was home alone with him, and when I tried to help, he freaked completely out and screamed with anger and frustration for about 20 minutes. Nothing I did helped, and in fact, all my attempts to approach him made it worse. Finally, I just took off all his clothes and plopped him into the bathtub in the middle of the day, which seemed to calm him down, kind of like in the movies when they drag hysterical people into a cold shower and their woes magically disappear. My Pi does love his bath (which was warm, not cold).

He's going through a little bit of separation anxiety, too. Yesterday when Smitty woke up I got in the shower and Pi was not pleased. He usually sleeps right through my getting-ready-to-go-to work routine on the weekdays, but on the rare days when he wakes up early enough to see me in the morning, he's starting to recognize when I'm leaving and doesn't like it too much. I don't like to see him so sad, but the dark part of my soul is totally happy that he doesn't want me to leave.

And speaking of the dark part of my soul, I had a very interesting experience with a brand-new mom when I was in Baltimore traveling for work. Her husband is a colleague of mine in a different region of the company, and they had driven from Boston to Baltimore with their four-week-old so that the family could be together.

Now, a little background: when Smitty and I first started trying to have kids, I got a lot of lovely supportive feedback about what a great mom I was going to be, yadda yadda yadda. I had always wanted to have kids and had always looked forward to it. Then we lost my first pregnancy and I allowed myself to dwell on what life might be like if we couldn't have kids. I painted a pretty bleak existence for myself, so we kept on trying and of course, eventually had Pi. Now we had not only the "you'll be such great parents" foundation, but the "long-awaited baby" first floor in the building of our little family. I was going to nurse, babywear, co-sleep, and be the crunchiest-granola, most blissfully happy earth-mama you ever did see.

Except it was so freaking hard. I don't think I ever had full-blown PPD, but there were quite a few moments when I worried that we had made a huge mistake, that I wasn't up to this, that I would completely scar this new little person for life, that I was doing everything wrong, and that everybody in the world was a better parent than me. It helped me to talk to my girlfriends about their struggles, to commiserate about the early newborn stages and how hard they were, so that I could see that I wasn't alone. Now, of course, things are so much better, but I'll never forget how knocked flat I was by new motherhood.

So, back to the Boston mama - after cooing over the baby, I asked her how she was doing. After getting the typical sunshine-and-roses answer (which I always gave too, until someone asked, "no really, how are you doing?"), I said something like, "It's a big adjustment, isn't it?", to which she replied, "Oh no, I feel like I've been doing this my whole life - I can't believe my little baby's four weeks old already - it's gone by so fast!" Everything I asked about was going perfectly well - she loved getting up in the middle of the night to have her "special time" with him, she had a home-water-birth with no tearing after which her son latched on perfectly, his poop smelled like a freshly mown field of lavender, etc. For a while, I was able to indulge the generous part of my soul and celebrate the good time she was having, but eventually the dark side took over and I ended up wanting to punch her lights out.

I just wish that we women could talk to each other more about how hard mothering truly is. Who knows, maybe the Boston mama had her own support system and didn't feel comfortable opening up to a total stranger. Maybe she really was perfectly fine and didn't want someone like me trying to rain on her parade. But maybe she really was struggling, really battling to keep it together, but felt like she couldn't be honest about how hard it is because Moms are supposed to be perfectly happy and content with all things baby.

Well, this has veered so far from the original posting path that I think I need to thumb a ride back to the main Pi highway. He's beautiful, he's wonderful, time really is flying by as he discovers more and more about his world, but his poop definitely does not smell like lavender.


changapeluda said...

Oh yeah, she's in denial.


How about my little whirling dervish got as furious as yours when I opened up a little look-alike bag of honey grahams. Inconsoloble because they weren't gummy fruit juicers!
It was a whopper...I never thought to put him in the bathtub....oh well, there's always next time.

Left of Liberal said...

My favorite was when my guy, at age 5 mind-you, threw a huge screaming tantrum outside our Oregon apartment (my brand new neighborhood with brand new neighbors) because we needed to go to the store for milk, and I hadn't given him enough "warning." He was yelling, "If you think I'm going to the store, you're CRAZY!"