Monday, October 17, 2011

Things Have Changed, But Not Really

She's more fun every day. Except for the full-body-plank tantrums.
(Nice photo, huh?)
I know I've spoken a lot about how my life has changed since becoming a parent. It may seem like overkill to write about it yet again but I think my soul is having this huge growth spurt and I want to get this out. Bear with me. If you're bored already, here's a funny video* to occupy your time.
I think what's strange right now is that I've had a few friends become parents in the last few weeks and they're looking to me (ME?) for advice.
How did I become such an expert? I guess if you use my logic, anyone who has been a parent a day longer than you have is someone whose brain needs picked. It's funny what I get asked, too. Nothing profound like what sleep-training method I used (the one where your own crying drowns out the sound of your baby's.)  Mostly, what restaurants are the most baby-friendly on a Friday night (any Mexican or pizza place, non-chain) and how quickly do the regular Gymboree clothes make it to the outlet (a full year) and where would you recommend for take-out (Miguels, Bangkok Thai, Clary's, Joe Bob's Chicken Palace, PF Changs, Kebab and Curry.) I still get appalled looks when I talk about L.E.'s TV watching (it's like an hour a day but she knows her favorite shows by name) and when she yells "Touchdown" even though there isn't a football game in sight. So it's not like I'm being held in uber-high-regard. I'm just a realist and I think my close friends know this and know they can rely on me to be honest about my experiences.
I'm not a perfect parent by any means. But I've reached the point where I know what my daughter needs and more often than not can meet those needs. There's not much I don't have in my trendy Coach diaper bag. Food, diapers, wipes snacks, stuffed Olivia the pig, books, extra clothes, bibs, spoons, etc etc. I used to be able to carry the smallest purse imaginable but now I'm practically armed with her royal highness' matched luggage when I leave the house. I always have exactly what she needs, including a steady supply of cheddar cheese Goldfish. (OK, those are for me.) It's crazy how at-the-ready I am now when I've left the house wearing two different shoes before and didn't realize it till lunchtime.
I've found myself between these two worlds of being completely mature and responsible while acting like a total kid again. I'm drawn to news headlines about horrible things happening to kids and families instead of reading celebrity gossip and horoscopes. I sometimes cry while I read, even when the stories have happy outcomes.
My diet more closely resembles that of a toddler than a grown woman. Salad? No, thank you. Chicken fingers? Yes, please.
My DVR is loaded with episodes of Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba and whatever the latest Pixar movie is. I watch them even when L.E. isn't in the room. (Toy Story 3 is one of the best movies I've ever seen.)
I borrow L.E.'s hair clips because she just pulls them out anyway. How often do you see a 35 29-year-old woman wear a cupcake barrette? I mean one who doesn't work in childcare? I've fully immersed myself in the world of mommy-hood and it's still something I can't believe I've actually done.
I'm raising a pretty sweet little kid. L.E. may not speak full sentences yet but she knows "Please" and "Thank You," which I think are the most important words to know. She's been on-track developmentally in all aspects. But she decided to go ahead-of-the-curve on something: The Terrible Twos. Let me be the first to tell you that they don't start at two. It's more like 15 months. One day my sweet adorable baby girl who was the epitome of giggly-ness threw herself on the floor in a rage when I wouldn't give her more fruit snacks (OK, fine they were gummy bunnies) after the three packages she ate. As I picked her up, she partook in the craze that swept the nation and internet this summer: planking. Yes, holding a 23-lb screeching, planking, kicking toddler has become the workout-du-jour. My arms are nicely developing some definition among the bruises. Fortunately, she is easily distracted so the tantrums aren't lasting too long. Heaven help me if I don't have a book of animals in my pocket at all times.
So the best advice I can give to new parents is just roll with the punches, both the figurative and literal. Being a parent is the best thing and the hardest thing ever all tied up in an adorable little bundle of coos and screeches. Once that kid knows who you are and looks at you like you just won the Super Bowl for them, it makes the sleepless nights and bodily-fluid explosions so worthwhile.

Oh, and I know I have managed to complete this entire post without mentioning T once. He has been right there beside me every step of the way on this parenting journey. So if you could go back and read this again,  anywhere I say "I", just substitute a "we"so he doesn't feel badly. Maybe except for the part about the cupcake barrette...


*I've loved this video since it came out. I recommend watching the full length version if you can. I admire the filmmaker's uncanny ability to exploit his child so well, cigarettes, booze and all!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hip-Baby Mama Still

Hip X-ray. 9-26-11. The bones are growing at a straight angle instead of a curve.
L.E. had her 18-month hip check-up. The news wasn't the happy promising "everything looks great" I was expecting. Where the tops of L.E.'s bones should be growing at a curve, they're actually a straight angle. Dr. P. said that if that is still the case in 6 months at her 2-year checkup, we're looking at surgery to correct it followed by 6 weeks in casts.
To say this was a devastating blow is an understatement. I thought we were in the clear; I genuinely believed the worst part of L.E.'s DDH was over and she would continue to grow and be active. Dr. P. assured me that it's better to handle it when she's little or else she would need hip replacements in her 30s. I totally agree that we need to fix sooner rather than later. But the thought of trying to keep my happy, ACTIVE, toddler confined to casts is a lot to handle.
I don't really see any other course of action for the next 6 months except for hoping everything turns out OK while expecting it not to. There are a bunch of preparations we'll have to make. I don't see how I could leave L.E. in daycare while she's in casts. It would be too hard for her to see the other kids running and playing while her mobility will be so limited. Plus, there's a trick to diapering that I'm not sure I would want  to burden her daycare-givers with.
I've had a bit to digest it all and honestly, L.E. deserves better than to have a mom who's reduced to tears every time she looks at her daughter. So I'm staying strong and brave for her. We have so much fun together and I don't want that to change for a second.
T. is in his last month of working on his PhD. dissertation. So there have been a lot of long nights at work for him while I maintain the household. It's like being a single mom! But the quality time I've had with L.E. is worth it, despite the Whole Foods meltdowns and projectile vomiting. She's my little sweetheart. Every day I pick her up from school and she yells, "Mommy!" and runs to me for a big hug. That justifies everything in my book. She is so sweet and funny. She loves to show you where her belly is. And she loves to show you where YOUR belly is which is kind of embarrassing at parties.
Her vocabulary is exploding. She knows all of her favorite animals and food. She learned "pizza" and "cupcake" the other day. Yes, my child for sure.
So despite the anxiety, I have six months before I really have to start freaking out. I plan on enjoying L.E. as she is and not worry about the future. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, we shall swing.
WHEEEEEEE!!!!