Her Bad Mother

Friday, February 10, 2006

Life lessons, and a footnote extravaganza!

As has been well-documented in these virtual pages, Baby's best friend and Head of Security (Toy Detail) has, for some weeks now, been Whoozit. Baby and Whoozit have been inseparable, and Whoozit has been an integral part of Baby's governing regime. Whoozit stands guard while Baby plays with the Barnyard Posse, for example, and he screens all new toyz that come into Baby's 'hood. More recently, Whoozit's power had been growing, as Baby began consulting him more frequently on matters pertaining to law and order in the nursery (1).

Tell me, Whoozit...

... who can I trust?...

... Really? I too think that the NanaDoob is working against us (2) ...

... Can you take her?

Whoozit had also recently taken on the role of Baby's personal trainer, and they had been working on her arm strength. This is where the trouble began.

The other day, they were in the middle of a session, working the right arm, then the left, with several breaks for Baby to suck on her hands, when Whoozit said something (I don't know exactly, because I can't hear him (3)) to the effect of: "The time has come, Grasshopper, for you to take on your master." Then he challenged her to an arm wrestle.

The struggle was long, my friends, and Baby lost her footing - er, handing? gripping - many times along the way. But - wait for it - she won.

Whoozit was pulled, by two of his many arms, from his perch on the play-arch, and crashed to the ground.

And Baby burst into tears.

They were, I think, the tears that come when one realizes, inevitably, that one's heroes are not invincible; tears that we all cry when we discover that those we considered to be strong, to be our protectors, are, at the end of the day, human-all-too-human (or whoozit-all-too-whoozit) and, so, limited, and vulnerable.

Cue cello.

It was a sad day, but an important one. Baby grew up a little, that day. And it is a day that will come again, when she realizes that her parents, too, are only human, and not the amazing superhero wonder-people that she no doubt currently believes us to be. Barring greater tragedies, God willing, that will be the saddest day, but probably the most important, of her childhood. It will, I expect, mark the end of her childhood.

End cello.

Whoozit, BTW, was immediately fired.


Footnotes! Now you're in for it!(4)

1) I use the term 'nursery' loosely, as a catch-all to refer to Baby's general territory. Baby, in fact, only occasionally sees her nursery, as she sleeps in Mommy and Daddy's room and spends her days in whatever room Mommy is in. The toyz, of course, follow Baby. So, really, it's all her turf now, and so we might as well call the whole damn house 'The Nursery.'

2) The NanaDoob recently, of her own accord, expanded her security portfolio to include a language-monitoring detail, having decided, it seems, to restrict languages spoken in The Nursery to just one, English. This would not be a problem, were it not for the fact that Baby is fond of two French storybooks, which are read aloud to her in, yes, French. (Yes, I am that kind of mother. I am reading to my baby in French. Why? Because I can. And, because I need something to offset the wussy-assed Attachment Parenting impulses that I can't shake (5). I'll address the issue of my overfunctioning Mommy-geekness some other time, when we can all sit down and establish what 'anal' really means, other than 'of or pertaining to the bumhole.') Anyway, the NanaDoob has been protesting the French LOUDLY and occasionally nipping at my elbow while I read. I don't know. Maybe she disagrees with their politics? She's pretty conservative...

3) Funny, but while the Husband has voiced concerns about my swaddle rants being possible early indicators of post-partum psychosis, and has stated that he finds it weird when I address him directly in these posts ("it makes it seem as though we never speak in person"), he does not seem to find it at all strange that I have anthropomorphized all of Baby's toys and ascribed to them personalities and language. Memo to husbands/partners/co-livers/whatever who are also new daddies: ranting about baby-related challenges is not a sign of impending insanity. Nor are efforts at direct communication, even if these occur over the Internet. Constructing an alternate parallel universe where your child's toys and pets have military and governmental posts may, however, be such a sign. MAYBE. In my case, however, it is not. Note that I said that I cannot hear Whoozit. If I could hear Whoozit (and if I could, he'd be crying about losing his job, poor guy) - which I CAN'T - then I might be crazy. But I can't, so I'm not, so there. (You hear that Honey? I'M FINE.)

4) I am a footnote FREAK. Exhibit A - this footnote, which is a footnote to the footnote heading. I had, like, 200 footnotes in my dissertation proposal. I've lost count of how many are in my (as-yet-UNFINISHED) actual dissertation. I LOVE footnotes. It didn't occur to me to use blog footnotes until I saw Jezer do it on her blog (Note - and note that I am not so cheeky as to actual footnote a footnote - I continually reference Jezer because a) I love her blog, and b) she's the only person who comments on my blog and so the source of the only evidence I have that anyone other that Hubbie actually reads this.) Which caused all footnote hell to break loose.

5) Exhibit B - a footnote to a footnote! Apparently I am that cheeky! (Or, as my Husband is probably thinking right now, losing my mind). Anyway, what I wanted to say here was - prior to the birth of Baby, I was ADAMANT that I was going follow some very strict parenting principles, beginning with MOMMY (and Daddy, sort of) WILL BE THE BOSS. There was going to be a schedule. Baby was going to sleep in her own room. Toys and gear were going to be vetted according to Mommy's aesthetic standards. No out-of-control demand feeding, no 'babywearing,' no co-sleeping, NONE OF IT. Well, that lasted about, oh, zero minutes. Baby is the boss. That's it. HOWEVER, there remains one small corner of this new Baby-centric world that I can unilaterally impose my will upon, and that is the corner that is her intellectual development. And I cling, obsessively, to that.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

This just in...

... a second post! This one, for no reason whatsoever, other than to shout out to Jezer, who shouted out to me the other day on her blog, in a post about mommy-blogging, which was very exciting and - as you can see - shout-inducing.

So, here you have it, mommies shouting in the blog-o-verse!

Makes it sound more exciting than it really is. But you can't over-estimate these things when you spend the whole day with a very small language-challenged being that spits and poos on you. We'll take our excitement where we can get it.


OK, here's another reason for a second post:

(Note the spit-up. Nice.)

(And the toes. She gets those from her mother.)

See? Mommies don't just shout in the blog-o-verse, they fling around photos, too! We know how to PAR-TAY.

What Mommy has in common with Baby

Mommy's (pre-preggers) clothes fit that way, too.


Note to Hubbie: if you are reading this, no, I do not think that I am fat and no, I am not freaking on the body-image issues today. I'm just saying: if the clothes don't fit, it means that the body is bigger. But I'm FINE WITH THAT. Really. Now go back to work.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

My little swedish meatball

I can't believe that it's taken me, like, 4 days to get around to posting this, but here it is: Baby had her first trip to Ikea last weekend!

Dudes! Never mind the room full of grotty plastic balls - where're the swedish meatballs?

This was pretty exciting, because, as it happens, Mommy and Daddy have spent a lot of time there lo these many years. And Mommy and Daddy have long noticed that there is always a hefty freakin' load of babies, toddlers and other assorted small-person types at Ikea. And, now, finally, we have a small person of our own! We're officially Ikea family-type people, not desperate Gen-Xers with modernist design ambitions that exceed our financial grasp.

So, yeah, we took Baby to Ikea this past weekend, ostensibly to get storage boxes in which to stow the wardrobe that Mommy no longer fits into (and fears that she will never fit into again), but really to march Baby through the children's section and bask in its relevance to our new domestic configuration and then to have Swedish meatballs.

This is pretty good, but it ain't no Swedish meatballs

So while we're hangin' in the Ikea cafeteria, this couple approaches. Actually, I'm not even aware of them having approached, exactly. They were just suddenly there, and seemed to have been there for a few minutes, watching us. Now, this happens to us a lot - people approaching out of nowhere to coo at Baby - as I imagine it does to every other new parent in the world. Which is not to say that Baby isn't unusually cute (which she IS), just that babies everywhere - the super-cute, the sorta-cute, and the downright funny-looking (who are also cute, really, when it comes right down to it) alike - get this kind of attention. They're like puppies, but human.

But these people were weird. They just stood and watched Baby for awhile - we smiled at them, expecting them to say something, but they just nodded and continued looking at Baby. For a moment I thought that they were going to ask what section of the store we found her in and whether she required an allen key.

When they finally spoke, it was the usual: "Cute baby." Yes. "Very small." Duh. "How old?" Etc, etc.

Then the woman goes, "Boy?" Which I wasn't bothered by, as Baby's adorableness transcends gender (and in any case, I refuse to tape a ribbon to her head). But, of course, I corrected her and said no, she's a GIRL.

(Can I just add here, parenthetically, that English was not their first language. And may I just also say - and I am just making an observation here, NOT JUDGING, so please no comments suggesting that I may harbor secret xenophobic biases - that they were the oddest intercultural couple that I've seen. Which is saying something, 'cause Toronto's pretty multicultural and Canada's all about promoting the cultural mosaic blah blah blah and so you'd think that you'd see more of this. Anyway, they were middle-aged and she was Cantonese and he was, like, former-Soviet-bloc Eastern European - both of the very new immigrant variety and both struggling with the English a bit and so you gotta wonder what their story was.)

Anyway. So I say 'GIRL' and they look at me like I've just said "MONKEY" and I'm wondering what the hell is so confusing about all this when the woman says - get this - "Oh. You shaved her head?"


Who, may I ask, for the love of God, shaves their baby's head? Hare Krishnas? Michael Jackson? What's the point of reference here?

But more importantly: have they never seen a freakin' BABY? She's three months old, for crying out loud. It's not like she's twelve, in which case I grant that it would look odd if she were bald. But she's NOT bald, for that matter - she has a very respectable thatch of lovely blond fuzz on top of her head, and so under no circumstances can she be said to be challenged in the hair area.

So, Baby's head does not, for the record, resemble in any way a pale little meatball, Swedish or otherwise. It has fuzz. And, also for the record, may I say that there is no way in hell that we would ever shave that fuzz (and be assured that I will lobby vigorously against her ever shaving it in the future, once it becomes full-fledged hair.) I am just not that cool a mom.

See that? That's hair. GIRL hair. OK, girl fuzz. But still.

Anyway. To all of you non-parent Ikea shoppers out there who are understandably drawn to adorable small people with very minimal hair, memo: those are babies. And their mommies are sensitive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Honey, if you're reading this, I'm fine... no, really, I am

The Husband reads my blog during the day when he's at work. Says that it's a bit weird sometimes to be getting the lowdown on his daughter's development and his wife's well-being from the Internet, but whatever. It's not that I don't give him the full update when he gets home, but by then I've usually already vented onto the blog, and he's read it, so all that's left to do usually is to fill in some colour, or, more usually, reassure him that I am NOT LOSING MY MIND.

'Cause apparently, it seems that from the Husband's perspective, some of my postings sound as though I'm this close to falling off of the the very narrow ledge of sanity that I'm currently occupying on the sheer cliff face that is new motherhood.

To wit: the swaddle rants. The Husband tells me that when he read, oh, the umpteenth paragraph in the 4th or 5th of the postings that were entirely about swaddling, he thought to himself: "The Wife is really not getting enough sleep."

To which I reply: DUH.

But sleep-deprivation is not what fuels swaddling rants. SWADDLING is what fuels swaddling rants. (This posting is not, you'll be happy to hear, going to be a swaddling rant. I've resigned myself to swaddling for the time being, and am saving up my swaddling issues for one bigass rant in the future.)

OK, I'll admit that maybe sleep-deprivation is exascerbating my natural tendency to obsess about things. But the extent to which I may end up obsessing about baby-related issues (and then ranting about them here) is, I think, nearly - if not entirely (again, I grant that I tend to be obsessive about things and that I am currently sleep deprived, and that this may be something of an explosive combination) - proportionate to the magnitude of the task God/Nature/The Universe has given me: raising my amazing baby to be the INCREDIBLE human being that she is no doubt meant to become.

(I've noticed that I've begun to use excessively long stream-of-consciousness sentences, which have the effect of making it seem that I, alone at my keyboard, am on the verge of hyperventilation. This may be one reason why the Husband thinks, when he reads, that I am teetering on the edge. So I'll slow it down. Breathe.)

ANYWAY. This is all to say that there is much to obsess about, but that my obsessing about it does not mean that I have, um, a problem with obsessing.

So, just to get it all (or most of it) out in the open, what follows is a partial list of things (I couldn't possibly list all of them) that I am currently obsessing about, the obsession about which should not be taken as evidence of a fragile emotional or physical state:

  • swaddling (surprise!)
  • spit-up (Baby spits up excessively. Really. Milky spew everywhere, all the time. Doctor assures me that it's fine, she's fine, it's normal for some babies, but come on. She and I are both covered in it all day long. People visit and she gurps up a little and they go, 'oh look that's quite a spit-up,' and I go, 'PUH-leeze.' If it's not down my ugly nursing bra or my day-in-day-out yoga pants, it's not really a spit-up.)
  • sleep, daytime (Baby doesn't like to nap. Averages about 45 minutes, a few times a day, unless she's in a stroller - which the fascistic Dr. Weissbluth says one MUST NOT DO, have baby sleep in stroller, that is - in which case she'll sleep longer)
  • sleep, nighttime (She does pretty well here, actually. But I'm greedy and I want her to sleep longer. The real issue here is when to cut the figurative cord and put her in her own room.)
  • sleep at any time (for me. Nighttime's not so good for me - I don't fully sleep when she sleeps because I'm waiting for her to wake up so that I can respond quickly so that there's less disruption in the night. I KNOW. It doesn't make sense entirely to me either. But I'm slowly getting much better at chilling out about this, which would let me get more sleep. Except that there's the grunting/farting/squirming/talking issue. Her, not me. Ignoring her can be a challenge. Where's Husband in all of this, you ask? Sleeping soundly. I know. It's NOT fair.)
  • schedules (this is so loaded for me right now that I can't even go there. Let's just say this - getting babies on schedules is hard when you can't stand to let them cry for even a minute. Not even a minute. Ten seconds. Maybe not even that...)
  • Weissbluth vs. BabyWhisperer vs. Babywise vs. Sears vs. anyone or anything else I hear about or skim at the bookstore that might provide some assistance with any of the above. (Also loaded. I come from a world - the academic world - where books help. Where, granted, people often babble nonsensically and contradict one another, but where there are usually some general terms of agreement. In any case, I have enough knowledge in my field to apply critical judgment to whatever disagreements I come across. In the world of baby care, I have no critical judgment. I'm the academic equivalent of a pre-schooler. And, with the exception of very very obvious principles like don't eat your kid, there seem to be very few terms of agreement between various parenting philosophies. I can't tell which of the books I'm reading is nonsensical. They all make sense and, at the same, they all make no sense at all. It hurts my head. )

OK. Deep breath.

There are, in addition to the above listed and unlisted baby-related obsession-inducers, a whole host of things that would be distracting were it not for the fact that, in my new Baby-filled universe, nothing else matters except for Baby, Hubbie and our happy, happy life - what my darling nephew Zachary called, when he was four years old and toasting our engagement with a glass of milk, FLAMILY.

So, yeah, I'm tired. REALLY tired, tired like I've never been nor ever will be again. And maybe a bit loopy at times. But I'm fine.

Awesome, actually.

Monday, February 6, 2006

The beginning of a beautiful relationship

Today, Baby is three months old. Or 12 weeks, which doesn't translate exactly into three months on the calendar, but you get the picture. She's a big girl now!

Which is to say, according to Karp and others who argue that the first three months of a baby's life is in effect a 'fourth trimester' of fetal development, she is no longer a fetus! Yay!

Then: fetus or baby? You decide.

So even though this isn't, technically, a birthday, it's a day for celebration.

Because, for one, if Karp and everyone else are correct that the first three months of a baby's life would, were it not for the, er, limitations of the female anatomy, otherwise be spent in the womb - thereby extending pregnancy for another ghastly 12 weeks, never mind the worse, nay unspeakable, part where we would have to pass the gigantic creatures through our nether parts - (pause for breath) because if they are all correct about their fourth trimester theory then I for one am PROFOUNDLY grateful to babies everywhere and to mine in particular for having the decency to come on out and do the last stage of their growing in the cold light of living day. Because people? She's BIG now. At least she seems so to me. And I'm really freakin' glad that she did that growing outside of my body. So props and cheers to Baby Emilia for doing right by her Mommy!

AND it's a day for celebration because, above all else, on that day twelve weeks ago when her little fetal self burst out to do the rest of her growing outside, she became the all-time, no-contenders, greatest gift that I ever have received or ever will receive. Because watching and helping her grow has been and will always be the biggest honour of my life. Because she's made every day a miraculous, surprising, awesome day. Because she's made every day a day for celebration.

So I'll be celebrating every day. Yep, even through the fog of sleep-deprivation and the sludge of poo and spit, and later, through the frustrations of clashing wills with a no-doubt pissy adolescent. I'll be celebrating. It may require more liquor, but I'll still be celebrating her, and me, and us (that, of course, includes Daddy).

Now: Baby! Here's lookin' at you, kid

Sunday, February 5, 2006

To get that bad, bad taste out of your mouth...

... and to help you to purge your souls of the grim evil that is David Hasselhoff - which I take full responsibility for, having foisted it upon you in my last post - I offer this...

Better now? Thought so.

(Yeah, that was really just an excuse to post a big ol' picture of my crazy adorable baby. I don't really care all that much if anyone was scarred by exposure to David Hasselhoff singing and flying through the air with a fish in his mouth. In any case, Western civilization's been declining for a good long while, so our psyches are all pretty toughened up anyway. So I'm pretty sure nobody got hurt.)

The decline of Western civilization

To which I am contributing by posting the following link.

I warn you - once you view this YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK. It's kinda like doing acid, but not in the happy everyone's-a-Muppet! kind of way (I know, I have a thing about Muppets. Muppets are cool!) This, this is like a bad acid trip, the kind that produces flashbacks and that stays with you forever.

So, consider yourself warned.


Muslims are currently rioting because of some Danish editorial cartoons. Why, I ask, is no-one rioting about this?