Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Single Mother Not Much Longer

Jeff returns from his four-day trip to Boston tomorrow. Whew! This single mothering gig was fun, but now that I know I can handle it I'm glad not to have to do it for much longer. Since Jeff's been gone, Sean and I have had a variation of the following conversation each morning:

"Daddy still asleep!"

"No, Daddy's not here, remember? He went on an airplane for work. He'll be home soon."

Pause as Sean processes this information.

"Daddy in Mommy and Daddy's room!"

"No, honey. Daddy will be home soon."

"Daddy take car to work!"

"Daddy took an airplane for work, Sean. We'll see him soon!"

Furrowed brow, then an epiphany.

"Daddy in airplane up in the sky. Go see Aunt Beth. Be home soon."

Ah, comprehension at last. I love those moments of clarity. And Jeff was so worried that Sean would forget him!

Mama Proliferation

I've stumbled onto a parenting subculture—the Mamas. At every turn in my search for mothering Web sites, I see them: Hip Mama, Philly Mama, Literary Mama, Philosophical Mama.

Which mama am I?

Despite my occasional desire to be otherwise, I would have to characterize myself as personally rather shy and conventional. That leaves out Hip Mama. I live in suburban South Jersey and thus don't feel I can assume the cool, urban persona of a Philly Mama. Literary Mama? Well, I appreciate good literature, so that's a possibility. But not a perfect fit right now, for I haven't had a lot of time to read these days. And lately, philosophical musings, even those on mothering, seem to take a back seat to more quotidian concerns, like how to eradicate diarrhea stains from Sean's rug and how to encourage Sean to eat more than five types of food.

Nonetheless it's been a fun discovery expedition. I appreciate the diversity of opinion, the variety of insights, the sometimes finely tuned writing. Exposure to different viewpoints is really essential for me; I need to be regularly shaken from my complacency and forced to rethink entrenched opinions. Left to my own devices I think I would just tread the same old water. Even if I don't agree with what I read or find that Jeff's and my experiences and mindset have led us to make different choices, I love knowing that there are so many smart, politically astute, funny "mama writers" (as Andrea Buchanan calls them) out there to challenge me. I've also discovered that there is no way in hell I'd participate in an AP parenting board! Even though I agree with a lot of AP tenets, I'd be roasted alive for having made some fairly traditional parenting decisions (like using a crib, oh no!).

Monday, May 24, 2004

Hey, want to read about my kids?

They're my favorite topic, after all.

I know that committing this to print is going to come back to bite me in a cosmic way, but... Allison sleeps so much better than Sean. Our struggles with his sleeping have reached legendary proportions in our minds, so we have been pleasantly surprised at the relative ease with which Allison's nights proceed. In most cases, she either sleeps through the night or wakes up just once because she can't find her pacifier. She awakes between 6:15 and 6:45, refreshed and ready for another day of constant grabbing, gumming, and wriggling across the floor. Granted, sometimes her nights get a little stickier than this---if the pacifier doesn’t comfort her, we are in for a good half-hour of walking around and bouncing. No rocking in the rocking chair for this on-the-go modern girl; she wants the steady progressive movement that only walking and bouncing provide. But compared to Sean and his sometimes-multiple awakenings each night, which were punctuated by several failed attempts at putting him in his crib, each met with another round of hysteria, Allison's nocturnal journey is pretty easy. I know this could all change (and probably will) with teething and illness, but for now we're enjoying it.

And then there's Sean, so cute, so vexing, so very two. He can be sweet and affectionate one moment and aloof and independent the next.

Here's Sean the Sweet: At one end of the upstairs hall, he shouts "Mommy!" and gives me a big hug, then runs down the hall to Jeff, shouts "Daddy!", and hugs his legs. And then back to me; repeat the rubberband game indefinitely. We never tire of it.

Since every yin must have its yang, we also sometimes live with Ivan the Terrible Toddler: Toys thrown across the floor, punctuated by a vehement "Hey!"; kicking and screaming meltdowns over the slightest hint that he might not get his way; food intake so restricted that we can currently count the types of food he will eat on one hand (and at Sean's cafe, substitutions are not cheerfully welcomed, thank you very much).

I've tried writing a few different endings to this post, but they all skirted too close to one of those saccharine motherhood cliches ("Despite all the trials, it's just so worth it!!!"). Yuck. So I'll just end by saying that it's time to go to bed, because sleep is my biggest craving right now.

Well, one entry per month isn't too pathetic, is it? It's just that, you know, life gets in the way. The usual culprits are to blame: my prodigious capacity for frittering time away, and, oh right, my children! Not long after my first post, Jeff and I weathered one of our worst weeks since becoming parents. It seemed like we (well, Sean, Allison, and I) contracted every conceivable common illness in the span of 1 week. Jeff managed to stay healthy, but that 10-day period sapped his strength and usual good humor.

Now that I'm back, what to write about? I've been submerged in reading parenting blogs lately. I spend each lunch hour feverishly devouring an ever-growing number of blogs. I'm so envious of other mothers who obviously have their act much more together than I do because they somehow can update their blogs at least a few times a week. And write well, to boot.

I'd resisted the urge to create a blog myself because of timidity and a reluctance to expose my writing for all the world to see (well, more likely the five people who might actually ever read this). I'm a good editor, but I don't consider myself a writer. Between anxiety over the mechanics of my writing and worry over how trivial/weakly argued/specious/superficial the content may appear, it's a wonder I've gotten this far!

Now that I've laid bare some of my basic insecurities and revealed myself to be entirely too self-conscious, let's move on!