Thursday, May 31, 2012

A World of Hurt!

Pregnancy blows.  There has to be a better way to have a child.  Perhaps I should have found a surrogate.  How much do surrogates run these days?  If all I had was $100 and a couple of unexpired gift cards to Red Robin, what level of quality in a surrogate would I have been able to secure?  If I was able to kick in bus fare to the surrogate's doctor's appointments, would that afford me a slightly better surrogate?  Like someone who only smokes while they're out and drinking as opposed to just smoking... whenever?

Actually, I can't complain too much.  The pregnancy up to this point has been okay- I've been able to ignore it for the most part, or at least up until a couple weeks ago.  Now, however, that I am thirty-six weeks, EVERY DAY IS WORSE THAN THE ONE BEFORE.  This is my living hell, my waking nightmare.  I can't sleep or even comfortably sit.  I can't relax on the couch at night to watch TV because I have restless legs and a pelvic floor that feels like it's going to shatter.  TV was the ONE THING I had that was just mine, the singular thing I could look forward to after a long, tiring day.  And now I don't even have that.  When you can't comfortably lay on the sofa to soak in one measly hour of the Kardashians- well, then you know that you've really turned a corner right onto Poop Street.

I think I've dislocated my hips.  Can't say I'm thrilled about that!

I'm feeling short of breath all the time.  I think I would die if I had to blow up a balloon- or blow out a candle.  I should be thankful my birthday's not until August.

And I am so crabby.  I have lashed out at Andy much more in this past week than in his whole life.  He is incessant with his demands- outside, uppies, snacks, Elmo, et cetera, and after forty-five minutes of telling him, no, we can't go outside, as patiently as possible, I find myself completely losing it.  I SAID NO!  NO OUTSIDE!  Put your goddamn shoes AWAY!  And so forth, at the top of my lungs.  These are not good moments in my career as mother, although I am optimistic that when they hand out the awards for "Mother of the Year" in December, the committee will take into account all of the hormones rushing through my system along with the extreme physical discomfort I'm in, along with the fact that Andy has been truly irritating as of late.

And yes, there is a "Mother of the Year" award, and yes, the committee consists of me, and yes, I am nominating myself again, even though last year I ended up giving the award to someone else, some other mother truly more deserving than myself, one who did not allow their husband to offer their baby a glass of grape soda and a bag of Doritos for dinner.  That being said, I still gave "Father of the Year" to Chris, mostly because he threatened to "ruin Andy's life" unless he got that coveted award, the one I printed off of Microsoft Word 97 onto the back of a landscaping flyer I found in my mailbox.

The acid reflux has also been out of control as of late, too.  The acid bubbles up my throat until I feel like I'm going to throw up.  And sometimes I do! 

If last time is any indication, I will return to my old self, at least physically, pretty quickly after this baby is born.  The acid will go away, and I will once again find comfort in the cushions of my couch (on the rare opportunities I will get to actually relax).  My mood was amazing after Andy was born, too- I was happy again.  I hope it's the same this time, too, and that I find I have the patience, strength, and joy to deal with my family- that I ride that same high that comes from loving your baby (and toddler) and just being so incredible thankful that I am lucky enough to be a mom.  This is my biggest wish.  I know that Andy will go through a huge transition and that the baby will be the baby- full of needs- and so I know it falls on me to balance them and keep my cool and be a rock of sorts.  And Chris, too, he's not off the hook in any of this.  But, for myself, my wish is for me.  Please grant me patience, strength, and energy.  And an extra pair of arms so that I can hold both of my sons at once.  Also, if someone wants to drop off dinner every night, too, that would also be helpful.  Might as well drop off lunch, too.  We like things that are covered in cheese.

I can't wait until I feel back to my old self again.  I also don't want to have this baby any earlier than 39 weeks if I have ANY choice in the matter- so, I guess I'm saying I'll take these next three weeks and suffer through them the best that I can.  There will be lots of complaining on my end, though, along with a few tears, screams, and the occasional acid-induced vomit session.  Before I know it, though, Elmo Berger will be here.  Yes, we told Andy he could name the baby, and he decided on Elmo.  He could have done a lot worse- there was a fifty-fifty chance we'd be having a Pee-Pee Berger.  And if you were trying to decide on hiring an Elmo Berger or a Pee-Pee Berger to be your latex salesman, I know that Elmo would (just barely) win out every time.  So, good naming, Andy.  Good naming.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Letter To Andy!

Dear Andy,

I think my first real memory is of the day your grandparents brought Aunt Marcia home from the hospital.  I was three and a half, and I remember, quite clearly, peering down at my new baby sister wrapped up in a blanket in her cardboard box.  Grandma and Grandpa F are very frugal and used a cardboard box in lieu of a cradle.  I wish I were joking, but I am not.  So next time you call your mother cheap, just remember:  I have NEVER made you sleep in a cardboard box on the floor.  Ever.  Even though I'm pretty sure you would love it. 

I remember feeling major curiosity about this new baby in the box.  I don't think I realized then and there that Marcia was to be a permanent fixture in the house, kind of like the dog or the refrigerator or those stacks of gossip magazines and expired coupons in the basement that is just *almost* high enough to qualify your grandmother for a starring role in the next episode of "Hoarders" on A&E.  In fact, I'm told that I asked several times in the following weeks after Marcia's arrival when she was going to go "back."  This, I don't remember.  I only remember staring down at her thinking, "WTF, yo?"  I also remember spending what seemed like a very long time at my aunt's house after the new baby was born.  It felt like a month, but I guess it was probably just a long weekend. I don't know, maybe it was just a day.  It's all a haze of sugary snacks, warm milk, and early '80s television.

Your earliest memory will not be of when your baby brother came home.  You are still far too young, and the mind doesn't store memories until at least after the age of three and often closer to four.  It's almost like all of this love and attention we're lavishing on you now is a waste of time.  I suppose it all builds some kind of "memory foundation," but I'm an expert on things like string cheese and returning items without a receipt, not memories... or parenting.  Anyhow, while you will never remember June 2012 when we brought little bro home from the hospital, I'm certain that your first memory will probably involve little bro in some way.  I hope it involves giving him a hug or playing a game with him as opposed to sticking him in the dryer and turning it to "tumble."

This little brother of yours that is to be born in the next month- I don't know if parents ever say, but it seems to me that the little sibling is kind of a tribute to the older sibling.  I want you to know that we're having another baby because we love YOU so much- because you made us love being parents and you were (are) so very special to us that we couldn't imagine not having another little guy and getting to experience all that sleep-deprived, unshowered awesomeness in duplicate.  We are having this baby because we are selfish and want to experience all of this mommy and daddy stuff a second time- and also because we are selfless and want for you to have an automatic playmate.  Childhood gets lonely without siblings, even if siblings can sometimes be a pain in the ass.  And, yes, little siblings are very bothersome at times.  Sharing totally sucks.  Sharing toys is pretty awful, and sharing a room is pretty much the worst.  I'm sorry to say that you'll be sharing a room with your little brother for a while, or at least as long as we live in our current home (which, if you've looked at our mortgage statement opposite the actual value, will probably be for- well, now I'm just getting depressed.).  It could be different for boys- maybe sharing a room won't be so bad.  I freaking hated sharing a room, though, which I did until I was twelve.  And then when I got my own room, I'm pretty sure I only left it when I needed to pee, go to school, or eat food.  And there were a couple times when I may have made other arrangements, such as skipping dinner, calling in sick to school, or severely decreasing my water intake as to avoid the whole disruptive pee thing.

I'm getting off track.

Anyway, your days of being an only child are numbered.  Little brother is on his way, and although I've tried to prepare you for the coming of Baby 2, you're still going to be shocked when all this goes down.  I'm worried about how you will take to seeing mommy in the hospital with a new baby.  I'm scared of how you will react when that baby comes home with us.  I'm stressed out thinking about how you will have to adjust to having the little baby around ALL THE TIME (since, no, he will never go "back.")  My blood pressure is spiking big time just thinking of all this trauma I'm about to introduce into your little life.  But- this is just how it goes.  And after a period of time (hopefully a reasonably short period of time filled with your fair share of sugary snacks, warm milk, and early 2010 television), you will grow to understand the new family change, that you are just as important as ever- in fact more so because you get to be a BIG BROTHER- and you will find yourself in love with your new little best friend/ brother/ occasional pain in the ass/ permanent lifetime addition.  As long as this kid isn't a total prick. I have to warn you, babies are super cute but they sure do cry a lot.  Mostly when it's dark out.

I should also let you know that after this baby is born and all my junk has had a chance to recover, I will be back to my old self a little more.  I will be able to wrestle and run around with you and roughhouse just like we used to.  I'll be able to go down the slide again at the park.  I'll be comfortable putting on a bathing suit and getting in the pool with you.  And since my evenings may end with the occasional glass of wine, story time is bound to be super entertaining.  Although, it really is more your daddy who tends to go off script and insert commentary on your story books.  I'm more of a purist when it comes to reading aloud.  Daddy is just way too critical of plot holes and inconceivable character developments in stories aimed at two year olds, and he's rather vocal in expressing these criticisms.  Just wait until you're old enough to watch movies or listen to popular music with him.  Feel free to tell him to shut his trap.

You won't remember any of this, not for a while.  But I hope that meeting your little brother instills some kind of warm and fuzzy feeling in you that you carry with you until you do start actively storing memories- just as I hope that you are internalizing all of our hugs and kisses and giggles and special times.  You are so very loved, Andy.  And soon the three of us get to share our love with another member of our family.  So that's love we're sharing, along with toys, and also your room.  You are also giving the baby all of your old clothes.  At some point you will share a birthday party with him, too.  Since you'll only be two years apart in school, you may also share friends, teachers, a seat on the bus.  Lots of sharing in your future, Andy.  Yes, some of that sharing will suck.  But for every piece of suckage- I hope that you find twice as much brotherly joy somewhere else. 

Just keep the co-conspiring against your parents to a minimum, okay?

Love you,

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Farm House Preschool!

Six more weeks until my due date.  Five more weeks until I can expect my baby to be born via induction.  Four more weeks of work.  And three more weeks until the yogurt in my refrigerator expires.  Time is really flying.

I enrolled Andy in a two year old preschool program yesterday after taking a tour of a local place I found online.  The program runs from late August through May and is two days per week, two and a half hours per day.  That seems like a reasonable amount of time for a normal two year old to be out of the house- although Andy is in day care now over fifty hours per week, so for him, this will barely be a visible blip in the week.  Imaging going from your full time job down to running payroll reports for some company two short mornings a week.  You'd be like, really?  Is this it?  For real?  Well, now what do I do with all this leftover time?  Thank goodness for television.

The preschool was a little weird.  It's in a converted farm house- the preschool program is run on the first floor of the farm house, and the owners live on the second floor.  Although the two areas are completely separate with different entrances, this fact still bothers me.  Does the owner ever come down to the preschool in just his robe?  His robe and a pair of black socks?  While holding a whiskey bottle?  

I automatically assume that anyone who would choose to live above a preschool is probably a robe-wearing alcoholic, but these are the kind of conclusions I immediately draw due to my overly distrusting and paranoid nature.  However, please note that this image of drunken, black-socked, unshaven, whiskey swigging preschool owner didn't actually stop me from signing Andy up in the program.  Other than this little glitch, everything else about the school seemed legit.  Preschool has been around twenty years and has two locations (I wonder what kind of lowlife lives above the OTHER location), and seems to be run properly with an actual director and preschool teachers for each age group and classroom.  The children all seemed happy and engaged in educational activities.  And, did I mention that this is basically the only preschool I could find that accepts two year olds?  Other than the park district, that is, which has a wait list the length of my arm.  I just don't know if I can count on over half a dozen children getting run over or deported in order for Andy to move up on that park district list.  I've kept my fingers crossed, but it was getting to the point where very few toddlers were getting hit by busses, and a decision just had to be made.  Farm house preschool it is!

The farm house preschool is non-denominational Christian.  This was my other hang up when I started looking into the school.  Even though I'm technically Catholic, I am very wary of things, people, places, and animals that advertise themselves as Christian.  I mean, I want Andy to have some sense of religion in his life, but I needed to know exactly how "Christian" this place was.  Learning about Baby Jesus around Christmas, okay.  Coming home with leaflets about the second coming of Christ and the insistent need to be born again otherwise risk eternal burning in the inferno that used to be the Chicago suburbs- not so okay.  Saying grace before a meal?  Sure, why not.  Being shown pictures of aborted fetuses during a pro-life rally in the preschool parking lot?  No, no, no, no.

I asked the director during my tour- how "Christian" is this place?  Those may have been my exact words.  She was quick to reassure me that it's all Christmas and Easter stuff and the occasional thanking God before enjoying on a snack of vanilla wafers and milk.  I considered asking specifically about the inferno and fetus concerns, but then figured if she didn't bring it up, why should I?  It's not like I'm the weirdo here.  I'm not the one working in a farm house preschool- just the one about to send their kid there.

Touring the preschool reminded me of when I was pregnant with Andy and trying to figure out his day care situation.  The burning question initially was: home day care or corporate center?  It didn't take too long to decide on the corporate day care.  After one particularly unpleasant visit to a home day care, our mind was made up.  I want to say that the day care provider's grotesquely burnt and scarred face had nothing to do with our decision to not sign Andy up for that particular home day care, but it certainly didn't help.  Once we were in the home, which smelled of dogs and cigarette smoke, it was only sheer politeness that kept me sticking around to actually speak with the lady.  By the time she got to the part in her sales pitch about how she often had to pick up her son from school due to his irritable bowel syndrome, and that necessitated loading all of the babies into her rickety looking van in order to go pick up bowel boy, I was pretty much done.  Other than that, the lady was very nice- but it was within a week that we were signed up at the corporate day care, the one that did not smell like dogs and cigarettes and the one that did not involve transporting my child in a rusted out '89 Dodge Caravan while squinting through an eyeball encased in purple, puffy third-degree burn tissue matter.  Nearly two years later, I'm confident we made the right decision.

I hope that the farm house preschool turns out to be a good decision, too.  Because even though we are happy with Andy's day care now, I had my reservations up until he had been there a month or two.  I wasn't convinced that it was the BEST day care we could find- I just knew that it was better than the alternative.  That's kind of how I feel about the farm house preschool now.  It's good, it's better than the alternatives I've found, but my decision making is always peppered with reservations.  I'm still not convinced that I made the best choice earlier today in ordering the chicken quesadilla at lunch- but by tomorrow, I think I'll have decided it was the best dining choice I could have made at the time.  And it was delicious.

As long as I never see the owner of the day care downstairs in a bath robe, I'm sure I will grow to love the quaint little farm house preschool, too.  And Andy will be head over heels for the place once he sees the gigantic play area out back, complete with numerous little red toddler cars for him to "drive."  I probably should have checked the toddler car bumpers for Jesus fish stickers- but, at the end of the day, Andy will only be there five hours a week anyway.  So who gives a crap.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bye Mommy!

This morning was the first morning, ever, that I told Andy I was leaving for work and he was 100% okay with it.  Usually, when he's aware that I'm leaving, he screams and cries and calls out for me mournfully as if we are going to be separated on two different islands until the end of time.  He cries as if my island will have the television, juice boxes, and squeezable yogurt tubes (best and worst invention ever) and his island will have nothing but toothbrushes, nail clippers, and other instruments of grooming/ torture.

This morning, I told him I was leaving, we hugged each other, and he said bye calmly.  Then, as I was walking into the kitchen to grab my purse, from his spot in the family room he called out cheerily one more time, "Bye, Mommy!" and waved.  And my heart just about broke into a million pieces.  I guess after all the complaining about the rough mornings and the impossible good-byes, now that I've gotten my smooth departure, I'm feeling a little sad and unwanted.  Andy, Andy, Andy- how could you be so calm about a Bye Mommy??  Are you angry at me?  Do you not love me anymore?  Shouldn't you be attached to my leg, screaming up at me in need, simultaneously being both awful and wonderful- the squeezable yogurt tube of toddlerdom?

Perhaps it's the hormones of pregnancy making me feel this way.  Or maybe it's just how mothers come to feel- a little bit depressed when their babies are suddenly okay with saying good-bye.

It is suddenly, abruptly clear to me that Andy is not a baby anymore.  It's not just that I have another baby on the way, and that Andy will be relegated to the mature-sounding ranks of "big brother."  It's him.  This weekend, I started noticing how tall he is.  He is one tall 22 month old.  And I say "tall," not "long," which is how height is measured when they are babies.  At what point does long become tall?  When they start standing?  When they take their first steps?  When they take their first steps AWAY from their mothers and off into the big, wide world of casual good-byes, preparing their own meals, and occasional recreational gun and/or drug use?

It might also be all the words Andy is saying as of late- or the fact that, even when he's babbling, it's very clear that he's trying to communicate something clear and firm to me.  I know this because the babbling gets repeated and stressed and is accompanied by insistent pointing at something in the distance that I'm just not seeing.  He has become this person with a need to be understood and actual, tangible demands.  Bananas.  Juice.  Bath.  No bath.  Elmo.  No Elmo, Mickey.  That.  That, there in the distance.  No, THAT.  THAT.  Listen, lady, can't you see what I'm pointing to?  IT'S THAT, YOU INSENSITIVE MONSTER, WHY CAN'T YOU JUST HAND ME THAT??!!

It could also be the hair cut.  Without his out of control, out of this world slop head of curls, he suddenly looks more like a little man and less like an unkempt baby.  Maybe I should have delayed that first hair cut another six months or so, until I was ready and/or DCFS was sending me letters about the state of his head.

The actions of Andy are increasingly less baby-ish and more kid-like.  He plays like a kid, throwing balls and running after dogs and initiating games of hide and seek.  He is less interested in stupidly shaking blocks like an infant and more interested in being involved in actual games, even if he is not the ideal game playing partner due to a non-interest in taking turns, following rules, or understanding that good sportsmanship does not involve throwing yourself onto the ground and banging the floor with your fists and feet.  At least, not usually.

He's also been very empathetic lately during our nightly story time, growing visibly upset when unpleasant things happen to either the characters or the cars in the books.  Last night, we read a story about sheep driving a jeep, and they end up crashing the jeep.  When that jeep got totaled, Andy just about lost it, crying out "uh oh!" and "oh no!" and "not nice!" and "car?"  The full sentiment there being "What the heck just happened to that car?  Was that sheep driving the jeep licensed and insured?  Was he texting?  Will they be able to get a replacement vehicle?  How could this awful thing have happened?"

These are the emotions of a child, not a baby.  A couple months ago, Andy wouldn't have given a crap about what happened to the jeep.  And a year ago, Andy wouldn't have been paying attention at all.  But, somewhere along the way, the reading became less something that I felt I should be doing for a baby who had zero interest in books and became, almost within the span of a day, a nightly ritual that was 100% for and enjoyed by Andy.  Something that he actually looked forward to, an activity that he requested as opposed to me just doing.

Andy's love of story time is a trait that I cherish.  Reading is very important to me, and having a kid interested in reading is very, very important.  So, in most ways, this turn of events is very joyous. On the other hand, coupled with all of the other things that are turning him from my baby into a little man who is not my baby, I suppose I only have this to say:  Waaaaaaa.

Yes, there is a part of me that wants Andy to be a baby forever.  I know I'm having another baby and I need Andy to continue to grow up as I deal with the trials, tribulations, excitement, and joy of my new infant- but I don't want to say good-bye to Baby Andy quite yet, either.  I'm getting a little teary just thinking about it.  

There are so many Baby Andy moments that I won't get back, and as he grows, I know I'll gain tons of other great moments- but there is so much inherent loss in raising a child, too.  And it's all exhibited in a simple, happy, "Bye Mommy!" on an otherwise average Monday morning.

Well, I guess that's why I'm having more than one.  Or at least one of the reasons.  The other being in case Andy doesn't have enough money to fund our retirement, then maybe Baby #2 will.  You can't put all of your eggs in one basket, now can you?  Didn't think so.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Andy's First Hair Cut!

On the morning of Andy's first hair cut, I looked at my son and thought to myself, "There's something wrong with this kid."  Of course, he was wearing Mr. Potatohead's tiny yellow eyeglasses at the time, which added to the overall wrongness but didn't necessarily cause the wrongness itself.  Andy gets a kick out of squeezing the small Mr. Potatohead glasses onto his big melon head and toddling over to proudly show me and Chris how hilarious he is.  Andy's advanced sense of humor is one of his more lovable qualities, right after his tendency to loudly refer to his "pee pee" in public or insistence on wetly kissing strange children directly on the lips.

Something needed to be done about Andy's hair.  As you know, I've delayed his first proper hair cut for ALMOST A FULL YEAR.  The sense of urgency just hasn't been there.  I think there's a reason why I've been given boys instead of girls- the lack of attention to cosmetic issues would most certainly drive a wedge between me and some bitchy pre-teen obsessed with hair crimping.  I can only assume crimping will be making a full comeback in the next decade.  At least I hope so!  Anyway, Andy's hair on Saturday morning had seemed to cross some sort of invisible line from unruly to completely awful.  I stared at his head, his wild, uneven curls sprouting madly from behind his Mr. Potatohead glasses and muttered to myself, "Eventually, this kid's going to need a real hair cut."  There were long chunks of hair and short chunks of hair, and one side of his head seemed to have more hair than the other.  The back of his head looked like some maniac had used a weed wacker on it.  That maniac was me.

And yet it wasn't until an hour or so later when Chris looked at Andy and said, "Let's take him for a hair cut" that it was decided that, yes, Andy was actually, finally going to get that hair cut.  Within a definite time frame.  In fact, that very day.

When we showed up at the kid hair cut place in the mall, I realized Chris may have had an ulterior motive for wanting Andy to get his hair cut.  "Ooh, gelato and crepes!" Chris exclaimed, seeing the cafe across the way advertising gelato- and crepes.  "Who wants crepes for lunch?  Because I want crepes for lunch."

Andy's first hair cut began innocently enough.  The receptionist told us to pick out a video for him to watch during the big event, and Andy and I headed over the DVD rack for selection.  Andy immediately grabbed four of the shiniest DVD cases, clearly anticipating a six hour hair cut from hell.  I pried three of the DVDs out of his tough little hands and then we went to wait our turn.  Andy was interested in staring at some of the other kids for a few moments, and then, having decided he didn't like what he was seeing, jumped off my lap and tried to run out of the hair cut place.  No doubt heading straight for some gelato.

When it was Andy's turn, I took him over to his stylists' booth.  The stylist stuck Andy's Caillou DVD into the television while I strapped him down into his special hair cutting chair- a car.  "Look, Andy, you get to ride the car!"  I exclaimed.  I was trying to sound joyous and excited and succeeded in sounding about half as happy as Chris had sounded about the prospect of dessert for lunch.  "What an awesome car!  Beep beep!  Vroom!  Screeeech!"

Andy was calm for about a second and then burst into tears.  He shoved his hand into his mouth, his new self-soothing technique now that he is without pacifier.  If Andy offers to shake your hand, you may want to decline, as it's likely slick with drool.  The tears quickly turned into screams as Andy imagined what sort of torture awaited him in the seat of what would have, under most circumstances, been a pretty bad ass little car.

I unstrapped Andy from the car and handed him to Chris, who sat down in a normal hair cutting chair (for some reason, there's no bigger version of the car for daddies- seems like an opportunity for fun lost).  Andy managed to calm down while Caillou began on the television, and the stylist got to work spraying water on his head and doing some preliminary snipping.  Andy's crazy little curls began to fall around him like drops of chubby rain.  All seemed okay.

Then Andy started feeling nervous and stuck his hand in his mouth.  The problem?  His hand was covered with his snipped hair, some of which had attached to his soaked little fist upon falling off his head.  Andy now had both a mouthful and handful of hair.  Tasting and feeling all that hair in his mouth and against his tongue freaked Andy out, and he burst into unhappy tears.  We could almost hear him ask:  "Why is my mouth full of hair?  What is going on???"  The solution, of course, was for Andy to reach in and try to pick out the hair- but because his hands were coated in hair, he didn't succeed in REMOVING any hair- just ADDING more hair into his mouth.  It was a vicious cycle, and as Andy wept and continued to dig into his mouth, I realized that I was seeing Andy experience true frustration.  Not "I want a cookie and she keeps saying no" frustration- but true, "Oh my God, why is this happening to me?" frustration.  He was so very upset.  I felt so sad for him- but also couldn't help but reflect on how adorable he looked when he cried.

Nothing could help Andy, either- not wiping off his face and tongue with a wet paper towel or offering him sips of water from his cup.  It wasn't until the hair cut was over, Chris had taken him to the restroom, and we had been handed his first hair cut certificate that he started to kind of calm down.  The certificate was pretty cute- a little document commemorating Andy's first hair cut along with bagged lock of his hair and a picture of him snapped directly after the hair cut completion, his little face twisted into a knot of misery.  But, hey, the hair cut looked pretty good.  Neat, clean, short- less wrong and more right.  This is the kind of hair cut that wins a toddler the electoral college vote.  This is the kind of hair cut that says, "Yes, I assure you I'm qualified to file your taxes" or "Mom, have you seen my tie and brief case?  I'm running late for a meeting.  But not a crazy amount of late.  A small, conservative amount of late."

The tears dried up completely when we left the hair cutting place and walked the fifteen feet to the gelato and crepes place, where Andy had, along with a grilled cheese, his first taste of banana and caramel crepes.  And, hey, everything was okay again.

I'm really liking Andy's new hair cut, although a small part of me does miss the unruliness of his uneven curls.  The Mr. Potatohead glasses still look funny on him, though, so there is that.  Just not quite as funny.  But, don't worry. I'm sure his next real hair cut won't be for another two years, so crazy head Andy shall return. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Mommy!

Andy waits for me.  Something must happen towards his pick up time at day care that clues him in to the fact that I'm coming- perhaps I consistently arrive after another specific parent or a certain block of activity time (story time, craft time, half price drink hour, etc)- because Andy asks his teachers for me every day at about ten to fifteen minutes before I show up.  They tell me he implores, "My mommy?" to them at almost 4:30 each day, his sad little face communicating the fact that he really needs to see his mommy, get home, and adorably devour half a box of Cheez It Snack Mix while I stand by conflicted regarding said snack mix's nutritional profile versus whatever crap I had planned for dinner.

My Andy.
That's how Andy asks for me- "My mommy?"- and that's how he greets me when I walk into his classroom- "My mommy!"  Back before he was born and I was flat out depressed about the fact that Andy would have to attend day care, other parents tried to placate me by saying, "But think of how happy he'll be when you pick him up after work!"  This was cold comfort, as I was CONVINCED that having a "day care baby" meant that my son would both love and recognize me less, and that being in "baby jail" (as I optimistically referred to the day care) would result in him growing distant, resentful, and into a hollow shell of his former, two month old self- the version of Andy that didn't necessarily seem thrilled to see me (small babies don't give a shit who's around) but also wasn't actively repulsed by me.  Day care would shatter any potential for a close mother-son relationship between the two of us and would be an expensive lesson in parenting, that lesson being "Don't ever leave your kid with other adults, ever."  Now that I am quitting my job to stay home with two year old Andy and new baby (who I've starting mentally referring to as "Baby 2, Electric Boogaloo"), I now realize how wrong I was.  Day care doesn't make your kids love you any less.  Andy LOVES me.  No resentment, no feelings of distance.  In fact, I could use a little distance, especially when trying to use the bathroom at home and Andy insists on watching me, or God forbid, trying to crawl up onto my lap.  Seriously, what the heck was I so worried about?  And I believe this is irony- the fact that now I'm worried about staying HOME with him.  Perhaps I should look into being mildly medicated.

When I walk into the room, Andy calls out "My mommy!" and runs up to me.  Most of the time, he doesn't have far to run.  He is usually parked right by the door while tightly clutching his jacket.  He is totally and completely ready to go, and his face busts into a huge grin when he sees me.  He asks to be held, and so I pick him up for a minute, hug and kiss him, and then put him back down and request that he go get his "sheet."  The day care provides a daily report card of Andy's accomplishments that day.  This sheet includes:

- How well Andy ate his meals and snacks.

- Overall demeanor for the day.

- Time and length of nap.

- A memorable moment for the day.

- Title of a book read.

- Something that he learned.

- List of diaper changes, including time and what they were lucky enough to find in each diaper.

I like to imagine what my daily sheet would look like, if my bosses were to fill one out on me at the conclusion of each work day.  I assume they'd leave out the detailed list of bathroom breaks I took, but it probably wouldn't be much of a sheet without that pertinent info.  Overall demeanor?  Pissy.  Naps?  Pretty sure she fell asleep for an open-eyed, five minute nap around 2:00.  Something learned?  You can't just put an apple in your desk drawer and forget about it for three months.  It FERMENTS.  Oh, and bananas grow moldy in only, like, one month.  Ish.  And definitely don't keep any lunch meat in there at all. 

I think my boss would probably half ass my daily sheet, just like how I'm pretty sure day care phones it in when it comes to filling out Andy's sheet.  Oh, I don't doubt that he had three poopy diapers in one day- that Andy is VERY regular, you could set your watch to his poops, or you could just call that one magical number that gives you the time, weather, and lotto numbers- but I do doubt that every day, for the past six months, his mood has been "happy."  Really?  Happy?  He hasn't had any off days?  He hasn't been irritable or moody or enraged?  I'm calling bullshit.  I also don't buy that Andy finishes all of his meals and snacks.  Unless they all consist of Cheez It Snack Mix or cookies, in which case, okay.  But I've seen the menu, and it's relatively unappetizing.  There's no way Andy's finishing his plate on Riblet Day. 

It's possible that day care knows a different side of Andy- a version that is always happy and eager to consume even the grossest of day care lunches.  They made a poster for all the toddlers describing each child and their likes, and one of Andy's likes was "basketball."  I have never once seen Andy show an interest in basketball.  Of course, I've never said to him (or anyone else, ever), "Hey, want to play basketball?" but if basketball is his main interest in life, don't you think I should have had SOME inkling?  Maybe catch him slam dunking something ball shaped into the toilet?  Shouldn't I have picked up on some random dribbling around the house?  Anything?  Who is this basketball-loving Andy?  I thought I knew him.  I guess I don't.

But, I suppose I know the best part of Andy- the Andy that refers to me as "My mommy" and waits for me to pick him up each day, acting as if I'm the most important person in the world when I walk into that classroom.  He's so thrilled to see me that when I tell him to go get his sheet from his teacher, he insists on holding my hand, making me walk the ten feet with him to the "sheet area," and then proudly handing over his daily report as if presenting me with a copy of a cherished reward for his scrapbook, the one in which I unfortunately lost interest on the day he turned two weeks.  Some people are built for scrapping.  Others would just rather sleep.

We walk out of day care together, still holding hands, and when I strap Andy into his car seat, he'll sometimes repeat "My mommy" and kiss my hand or face, whichever is closest to him.  And that's one of a hundred small moments when I feel like the luckiest person alive.  And a moment when my daily sheet could honestly just say:  Happy.