Friday, May 21, 2010

Other People's Voices

My late mother was a huge do-it-yourselfer. She worked on her own cars, knitted, sewed, gardened, built things out of wood with tools, all of that good stuff. (Of course, she didn't always finish the projects she set her mind to, but she could have.) She was pretty good at most of it.

The problem for me is this. Any time I want to pay someone to do something that she taught me how to do, I hear her voice in my head saying something like this, "Oh, don't waste your money. Any idiot can hem pants. Paying someone to do it is just stupid."

And I do know how to hem pants. I do a decent job of hemming pants. Given enough time, I'll hem the crap out of a pair of pants. Oops... sorry, I got carried away there. The point is, if my pants are too long, I can fix them. But in this new mommy game, I just don't have the time or inclination to sit down and do it. Since I've lost weight due to nursing and never sitting the heck down, I've had to buy some new pants, some of which are too freakin' long, and I've been struggling to find the time to pin and hem them. And then it occurred to me that, much though I loved my mom, I need to tell her voice in my head to shut up, and get the pants fixed by someone who has the time to do it, if I'm willing to pay them enough.

This same inner dialogue happens to me about choices I make as a parent-- I make a particular choice-- how long I think I'm going to breastfeed her, to go back to work or not, pacifier or no, TV or not-- and I can hear the voices of various people in my life responding and telling me what to do. Then I hear the voices of the so-called experts in my head, and I feel like I might go a bit nuttier. (If you were wondering, the authors of What to Expect the First Year sound like every bitchy sorority girl I knew in college.)

What it comes down to is that, like my mother's voice on the pants, I have to shut those voices down. They only leave me confused and exhausted. At the end of the day, what I have to remember is that we're all just doing the best we can with what we've got. I can't make myself crazy with this stuff. When it comes right down to it, the correct answer here is to do what works best for my family. The decision as to what that is will largely be based on intuition and common sense. "Experts," relatives, and the random people on the street or in stores who feel it is their right to give unsolicited advice, ultimately, can back off.

And, yes, I'm taking my pants to be hemmed. There's a place right next to the yarn shop. I think even Mom would have approved of that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stuff I Love

So there are tons of websites devoted to reviewing the stuff you need for babies, and babies need a ton of stuff. So this entry isn't about the baby stuff. Maybe, when the Bug ends the infant phase, I'll review the things I found most useful versus the junk. I may never want to look at the hateful stuff again, who knows.

There are a few things, however, that I have found extremely useful that I never would have expected would be so useful.

1. My BlackBerry Storm with Pandora Internet Radio. (The DH gets similar results with his Motorola Droid) There are several layers of usefulness here:
  • While I am nursing, I can read e-mail and catch up on my social networking. Not that nursing isn't great, and I am thrilled that I am able to do this for my daughter, but I can only gaze lovingly at her for so long before I get a crick in my neck.
  • Babies like repetitive patterns/ noise. White noise, machines, heartbeats, periodic phrase structures in music. (Sorry, that last one is a nerd shout out.) Therefore, the Bug loves her some Bach and some Mozart. I have a Pandora channel that plays exactly that music. So much better than the out-of-tune awfulness that the noisemaker on the bassinet makes.
  • The phone simplifies the process of taking and sharing photos.
  • I can't keep track of stuff right now. The lack of sleep and the brain drain of mommyhood make getting me and everything for the bug out with us. When I go workout, I can only keep track of the phone, and listen to my K'naan channel, and not have to worry that I have the iPod, the armband, and the headphones. Just the phone and the headphones.
2. My Camelbak Better Bottle. Again, freaking awesome. The first night we were home with the Bug, I managed to spill water all over DH while he slept because I was trying to open a bottle and drink one handed, while holding the nursing Bug with the other hand. Nursing is thirsty work, and this bottle lets me drink with one hand and doesn't spill easily. Within the next day or two, we somehow found our way to REI, where we bought this bottle.

3. A YMCA membership. I love to exercise, but this isn't what I like best about going to the Y. What I like best is that I am able to go, put the Bug in their childcare program, run or whatever, the get a worry-free shower. (Okay, worry-slightly-less shower... part of the Mommy territory is worring some all the time.) Also, they have a whirlpool and a steam room, and this Mom business, thanks to the above worry factor and the Bug's increasing weight, makes my body tense all over. Plus, when I get the Bug ready to go, there's a wildly inappropriate song for me to sing.

4. String cheese. Nursing is thirsty work, but it is also hungry work. I am hungry pretty much all the time, although it is slowing down some recently. It requires an extra 300-500 calories per day, and then if I work out, that adds that much more that I need to be sure to eat enough. I'm stoked about the weight I've lost, but I don't want to loose too much, too fast, because I don't want to get sick.

These aren't baby products, but they have made my life with the Bug much easier. I'm going to keep watching for these things, because it might be my civic duty to point them out as needed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dog v. Baby

No, this isn't about a new Animal Planet special program. In a cage match, the Bug would totally win, because the dog would never have a chance-- I'd rip open the cage with my bare hands and rip off the dog's head. Clearly my human child is much more important to me than the furry one.

But... the dog was in my life long before she was. He gets me. He knows to hide when I start swearing, unless I'm in the kitchen, then he starts scavenging.

See, he's cute too. There are reasons he's easier than she is. There are ways they are similar. There are ways she's 1000 times better. So, this will be Mom Snark's first entry of lists.

Points for the dog:

1. I can put him in a crate and leave him unsupervised for a few hours.
2. He will sleep on my feet and keep me warm.
3. He's potty trained. (See next lists for the caveat to that)
4. He's just a dog. If he's upset or sick or unhappy, he's just a dog. I've never wanted to cry because he doesn't feel well.
5. I haven't had any nightmares about ways I can screw him up or injure him.
6. As he very rarely wears clothes, his laundry needs are considerably less.
7. If he kept me up all night for more than a night or two, I could just leave him and a bowl of water out in the yard.

Ways they're tied:

1. In both cases, I have to handle poo.
2. No matter how crappy I feel, I have to take care of their biological needs.
3. No matter how much I explain unpleasant things to them, they just don't get it. (Shots, leashes, car seats)
4. Both instinctively do sweet things that make me happy.
5. Both are capable of interfering with one's... um... romantic life.

Points for the Bug:

1. Eventually, "potty trained" for her means I won't have to handle poop.
2. Eventually, I'll be able to explain things to her... immunizations might still make her cry, but at least she'll understand it. (I cried when I got an MMR at the age of 22. In my defense, it was after having my blood drawn by the least competent student nurse they could have found. So, even when you understand, it might not make a difference on the crying.)
3. She's way cuter.
4. Eventually, walking the dog and handling his poop can be one of her chores. (Okay, not this dog, he probably won't live that long. But some theoretical future dog.)
5. Her biological messes are, at least for now, smaller and smell better.
6. She melts my heart at the most unexpected times just by being herself.

So clearly, the Bug wins, but in part because she is a long term investment. Getting up every three hours sucks, but watching her grow and change is pretty amazing.

Coming next time: some product reviews. (Don't worry, non-parents. These are some odd products that, on their surface, have very little to do with parenting. Mostly.)