Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In defense of the clean mom

I've been noticing a lot of posts lately on the social networks. They go something like this: "Dirty dishes mean your belly is full. Messy floors mean you've had lots of space to play.." or "A good mom has sticky floors and happy kids." For the most part, they can be summed up by saying that because the house is dirty, it is a reflection that dear mother cares about her kids, ensuring that the happiness of their childhood comes before all else, including the housework.

While I am certain these posts are not a personal attack on myself or anyone else, but rather, a noble defense of the job that is motherhood, I find myself feeling a little bad. So... because I keep my home clean does that make me a bad mom? It shouldn't. For the record, I don't think a "good" or "bad" mom can be defined by the things you can see. It's not something you can check off on a list.

There are times I put you down and let you do your own thing. You have your excersaucer now, a favorite, and when you are there I can get some things done. Or, when you are napping. When you take your big nap is the best time to get large projects done. Occasionally you squeal. Am I a bad mom because I don't come running to your aid? I am against the Cry It Out method, but I'm not against giving you a moment to consider whether or not you are actually in danger or upset. I like to think I understand your cries now, and at your age there are times now when you startle yourself, or become frustrated, and your initial reaction is to cry. Sometimes you squeal, and by the time I come to your side, you are laughing.

Below: You are so happy in general. I love it. However, I'm also a mom who knows how to say "No!" when you bite. It made you cry today when I did, but you hurt me for the first time since the arrival of your tooh! Biting while nursing is not allowed. (September 2011)

Cesar, there are times you are unhappy. Right now you are teething. That tooth, by the way, is very nearly through... there's just a hair of gum stopping it! You're miserable though. Today I was certain that if someone were to walk by they would think I was murdering you. Yet, upon closer inspection, they would have found me, at my wits end, rocking you, offering you teethers, allowing you to nurse as you please, and letting you nap when at last you had found some relief. For the most part though, you are an extraordinarily happy baby.

In the end, can someone walk into my home and check off what makes me a good mom? What would this checklist look like? Who would design it and who would have the final approval to say, "Yes, I am an expert and a good mom should meet all these requirements." I may not be the best parent, but who is? Everyone is going to have parental issues on some level. There's no perfect way you see, and we can all be considered guilty of poor parenting if the choice is left up to the right parties. I am lucky that I have the life I do. I am a stay at home mother at this time. I am grateful. Some parents are single fathers and mothers. In some cases both parents have to work. There are lots of reasons that could be tossed at me as to why a person can't keep their home clean. It doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I like to keep my house clean, I have the opportunity to. I hated when people would tell me while pregnant that I was going to have to learn to live with a dirty house. That I would have to just "let things go." I hope you are a happy person Cesar. I want you to know that I DO make time for you. I love you so very much. When you read this, know that you are my priority. I just like a clean house too. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Front Teeth

So at the last visit to the pediatrician we had a bit of an upset. Turns out that your initial newborn screening had an "abnormality" on the thyroid test, meaning we had to return to the hospital the very next day to get blood drawn from you so they could run additional tests. I'm not too worried about it overall. I'm a little annoyed that no one brought it to our attention earlier, but beyond that, I imagine that it's just a fluke. After all, you hadn't established a food supply and you were already under all sorts of injury and stress. Your follow up screening didn't raise the doctor's eyebrow, however, it was a different pediatrician across town and this new doctor doesn't have those results. However, my mother does have thyroid problems, so I don't judge the doctor too harshly for wanting a further test. In fact, they wanted to do a complete newborn screen again. I'm sorry, but I took you back the next morning and let them draw blood. I though they would prick your foot, but I was completely wrong. On nurse held your arm out and the other drew the blood. She was nice about it, yet since you can't see the vein she stuck you with the needle, then had to move the needle around to find the vein. It was a horrible experience... much worse than the shots by far. In fact, the band they used to strap around your upper arm was tight enough that it caused lots of little bruises to appear down your arm from where the little vessels had popped.

This being said, I was right there with you. I held you while they took the blood and held you close after it was over. Since then I have not heard from the doctor, and again I don't worry. No news is good news as far as I'm concerned. You have recovered nicely, going about your ways... except for one, small change.

Above: I am so very happy that I managed to get pictures of your baby smile. Bubble gum tongue, soft pink gums, it is a profoundly special feeling I have whenever you smiled for me! (September 2011)

As a testament to just how presumptuous doctors are, I feel the need to first tell you that the pediatrician was so very adamant that you weren't going to get your teeth for another few months. Well, I woke up on Saturday morning to discover that your first tooth was working its way through! It explains why you have been so very fussy. Why you have not been sleeping well, sometimes waking up in a fume of tears! Yes, it all makes sense now, and I feel that once again I underestimated my instincts. I should pay more attention to them. You have been teething all along, and at an alarming rate! Now your first tooth is coming in! It's the front, bottom left tooth. I hope it cuts through soon, for it seems to cause you discomfort greatly. It's very nearly there, and it's Monday now, so I expect that tomorrow or the day after you should have it through the gums completely. I am so excited, I don't know why. I loved you without teeth, and actually wasn't looking forward to the day you got them, however, now that it's actually here I'm ok with it. I suppose it's because it means you are healthy and growing, and progress like this is not the kind one wishes to hinder. You are growing up, and there's no stopping it. It reminds me to enjoy the time I have with you, because you are always changing and each phase is special.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Take a shot!

Today was your four month appointment. Which means, another round of vaccinations. Yuck. I personally am not really all for them, but Vincent is and here we are in a big city, with lots of other sick kids running around, and you will be going to public school... so if I have to pick my battles I'll save this one for another day. Sooo.. your shots. I was so worked up over them, especially after your last round at two months. You were looking up at me, so happy and entertained, and then the needles went in and you started screaming. It was a dreadful feeling, one I wasn't eager to repeat. So.. I hardened myself for this. I meditated on a saying in one of my Buddhist mothering books, that mothering is the practice of bonding and letting go. While the saying refers to the aging child, I applied it here as well. As mothers we only ever want to see our babies happy, and if given the opportunity I think most mothers would spare their child any discomfort. A mother's bond makes it so that she wishes for no pain, to protect and love her little one, forever. It is a noble, but futile effort. Occasionally, pain is a doorway to growth, it is a necessary force, a reminder of what pleasure means. Does this mean that I think it's good for you to be in such misery? Of course not... but practicing mothering means that I have to take the good with the bad and face these things head on. I walk this path with you, in my own way. You do not belong to me, nor I to you, as the saying goes, but because I want you to flourish, in this particular scenario you will experience pain. I, as a mother, will be there for you. I will hold your hand and be beside you.

And boy were you wonderful! The first needle went in and you actually grimaced, but let it go. The second one went in, and you started screaming. You screamed and cried, and once it was over, I took you up into my arms and you calmed down. What a champion!

 Above: You and your grandma. At her last visit we had to donate all your old clothes and upgrade you to your next size! You have changed so much in the last month, and you are so happy. The doctor said, "It's rare you get to see such a generally happy baby." He was amazed... he must not get very many happy children! (September 2011)
Now for the irritating part. Besides the insurance (I won't even waste a paragraph writing about that nonsense) battling it out with the clinic over how much we owe at this time for your last appointment, a new concern popped up. For the most part, I'm happy with our Doctor. He's younger, and pretty relaxed about most things. He doesn't seem eager to diagnose you with anything, so I'm happy about that. Unfortunately, at your 2 month appointment, the nurse must have measured you wrong. I say this with a sincere amount of certainty because since then you have outgrown all your onsies and I have had to readjust your car seat. Anyhow, the Dr. let us know that according to your measurements today, you are at 241/2 inches... so you're "not growing." Of course, the Dr. had you remeasured and attributes this fluke to the last nurse failing to measure you correctly. However, we have to return in one month to have you remeasured, just in case it's a hormone issue. I'm sure it's nothing, but in the wonderful world of medicine everything counts for something, and they don't like "what if's." At least, on a positive note, when we go back next month you won't need shots, so you should have a more pleasant experience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Land of Fire!

Sometimes I think about where we live, and then I think about where it would be nice to live. Of course, I don't take the economy or any of that stuff into consideration... I'm just talking about weather in general. I have a soft spot for cold places, I always assume it's because my heritage Polish, German, all European, icy creatures like Vikings and Celts. So how did I end up here? By now you might think I should have gotten used to it, having been raised in southern states, but I haven't. I am VERY white, and have burned easily my entire life. My mother says I could have been a redhead, I have the completion for it. Throughout my life I've managed to tan, so when  you look at me now you might say, "Oh mom you're not THAT white." Years of getting sunburned by an hour in the sunshine (so badly I might add that I've had to stay home before with blisters all over my face) have given me a tan. But don't look at my legs.. my legs and stomach are a harsh reminder that not only did I not burn evenly, but that my skin tone is a wreck.

Vincent, in contrast, loves the weather here. Our hottest day was in August, reaching 112 degrees! I think I might have quoted it as being 110 in an earlier post, but I have since been corrected. I hate that. The winter stirs up romance in me, it makes me happy. Simply put, I LOVE being cold. I love that my mother lives in Michigan. I went there while I was pregnant with  you, and the four feet of snow mixed with the temperature was wonderful! It put me in such wonderful spirits to layer my clothing, to wear jackets and scarfs and dresses with leggings! Meanwhile here we are having raging fires from all the drought. Every day I have turned on the news this past week a new fire has popped up, robbing people of their homes, destroying land. Oh and these fires aren't just in the countryside either, they are in San Antonio. Some have burned apartment buildings. I seriously think the God of Fire has returned and made this his new home.

Makes me wonder what you will prefer. With any luck you will appreciate a bit of both, since I do hope to take you up north from time to time.

Above: Grandmother Val is from Michigan. Here she is hiding behind you! I hope to take you up there to visit someday. (September 2011)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moms the Word

This past week you saw your grandmother, my mom. It was great. We stayed over night at my father's house with her and we were all together. Vincent had some free nights, and grandmother just loved you. She started tearing up on Saturday as she told me that she was going to miss us. I miss her too. She is such a giving person, I've never met anyone like her. Most people talk about their mothers or grandmothers with a sort of respect, a recognition that their parents made them, created their rules, and made lasting impressions on their psychology. I am one of those that shares much more with her parent. I am grateful to my mother for being that, and because now she is my friend. She's beautiful and it's sad because she's really a sucker. She gives and gives and gives in such a way that I think it might very well turn into a tragedy. I'm not nearly as giving. In fact, I'm a bit on the harsh side.

Indeed I was spoiled while she was here, as were you, but I like to think we were grateful and never frivolous with it. We went to a thrift store and I found a 'Santa' gift for you, as well as one from us. One is a plush cube with pictures on each face, and things you can grab attached. The other is a little piano with four big colored keys. It does not require batteries or anything fancy, which I especially like. Each key hits one of four different lengths of colored metal bars at the top of the piano. It sounds complex, but really it's quite simple, I assure you. Also, we went to various Yard Sales on Saturday. I was so happy because I found lots of things for you, especially books. I love getting books for you, because I want to read so many stories. These stories will be the first in your life, the building blocks for the foundation of your imagination. I can never have too many books or flash cards for you. I also got a couple gifts for some family. I know it's early to be planning for Christmas, but I always admired how my mother planned ahead. She was always thinking of us, gathering little things that we might like to make our holidays special, and so that she wouldn't be rushing around at the last minute.

Above: Your new Exersaucer.. your first experience in it. I finally got a full on smile photo of you! I was so happy. You don't like to stay in it for too long because your legs are not that strong yet. However you are thoroughly entertained in it. (August 2011)

Oh yes, and at the thrift shop I spied a few toys we gave to you now! Since you have outgrown most everything else it was the perfect time to upgrade you! I found an Exersaucer, castle themed, for ten dollars! It's like a little bouncer with lots of toys. And we bought a playmatt with toys that hang over you. You've started turning over like crazy, mostly from your back to your stomach. Suddenly it's as though it's second nature to you. Because you really want to sit and stand, the Exersaucer is something you really enjoy. AND, you'll be happy to know I got your Halloween outfit too! It's so wonderful to know that we are set for that. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, because it's Samhain, the night when the veils between the world of the living and dead are the thinnest. Also, I have such solid family memories of it. So, now that your grandmother is gone, it's back to our routine. I will miss her, as will you until we meet again. But in her absence we must busy ourselves and always look forward with hope and back with fondness. Looking forward... winter approaches!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grumpy Gorilla

Well Cesar, it's pretty safe to say that you're no little monkey.. you're a full blown gorilla! Of course I don't mind in the slightest. In fact, I think it's quite cute. When you get angry your brows knit together and we say you have a "grumpy gorilla face."

So today I am quite astounded at how high your spirits are. You're sick,  you see. First fever ever. I tried to take  your temperature but you kept squirming because you don't appreciate the ear thermometer. The reading I got was 99.6, so I imagine it's actually a little higher than that. (On a side note, I never bothered to get one of those dreadful butt thermometers... they may be 'more accurate' but I don't think I need to be exact for the most part. You're sick and that's that.) You nose is stuffy, so much so that you have trouble eating and give up most of the time. You ate very little last night, and have eaten less today. You've been sleeping for most of it as well.

I'm not too concerned. Being sick is part of life, and if anything I am very grateful I can keep an eye on you and comfort you instead of being away at work or something. I think I shall do some writing in my free time while you sleep, and when you wake up maybe we will watch a movie. I read to you earlier some creation myths out of a book I bought the other day at Half Price books. Hopefully it soothed you some to hear the various stories of how our world began. I even started up a vaporizer that Vincent had bought for you. Unfortunately I can't tell how well it is working since I lack the additives (Eucalyptus, Vicks vapors, ect.) for the water. It's just odorless steam, so I'm not certain if it's flowing properly to you. I think I will go check on you again.

Above: Your crazy uncle Sean bundled you up "like a ninja," early one morning while visiting. What a goof! You look nice, warm, and cozy, although seconds later you tore off the blanket as much as you could. I am going to go bundle up with you right now!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Meet and Greet!

So yesterday you met with your cousins, Annadee and Little Oscar. They are from your father's side of the family, Uncle Oscar and Aunt Kellie. I was really thrilled that they came by to chat. I often think of how strange it must be for you to view the world amongst so many large adults. You had met your cousins once before, but it was so long ago and they didn't stay too long. Now they really had an impact. Annadee, who is eight months, just looked and you and you at her. A huge grin came over your face as you went about examining this other person. Little Oscar is much older, but even he was not quick to abandon you. In fact, I'd say he's eager to play with you, except he doesn't realize his own strength..well, that's a three year old for you! We had a good time, and I got to gossip a bit with Kellie, which was very enjoyable. Annadee doesn't crawl... she swims. It's the cutest thing, just watching her use her legs to frog her way across the carpet. After observing your cousins, perhaps it gave you motivation, because it became quite clear that you were not satisfied being immobile!

 Above: You and Annadee. You were very inspired by the whole meeting, and the two of you just look so cute! I think it's hilarious, however, that you already outweigh her! Annadee is 17 pounds, and you are over twenty now. She is in size 2 diapers and you in size 3. I hope that you slim out a little when you get mobile so you don't outgrow your cloth diapers!

In fact, that evening you turned over three times! Always from tummy to back, but it was AMAZING. You just rolled, and on your back you have manged to push yourself almost to your side, so I am certain you will soon be rolling over from back to tummy. That and you do lots of what I have dubbed, "clocktwists." Basically, because you can't crawl, and your tummy is big, you push and move, and you turn around on the floor with your belly being the center of the "clock." You haven't made it 360 degrees yet. Usually you only do a 180 at best before you get upset and I flip you onto your back, but last night you almost made it! I am so pleased... I really believe meeting others stimulated your mind a bit more. And today...

Grandma Val!!! That's right. My mother flew in from Michigan last night and is at my father's house. I offered to stay the night over there and give Vincent a little freedom. She is so excited to see you. After all, it's been three months. Just wait until she picks you up!