Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Now Where Did I Put That Nuclear Warhead?

I think of myself as a fairly reliable person. I don't generally forget appointments or flake on people, though I do tend to run 5-10 minutes late, an inherited trait I blame on my mother (Hi Mom, are you reading the blog these days?). However, pregnancy mush brain has descended upon me with a vengeance. In the last few weeks, I have forgotten several appointments. I either wrote down the wrong time or never wrote them on my calender at all.

In this morning's example, I wrote the right time for my midwife appointment in my notes then transferred the wrong time to my computer calender. It's technologically complicated screwing up!

I forgot the combination to my lock at the gym, a lock I've used several times a week for the last year and a half. I tried combinations for an hour, even writing them down on a piece of paper, sitting in my bathing suit with a towel wrapped around me, before I finally gave up and had them cut the lock off. Then I bought a programmable lock with only 4 digits - fewer numbers to forget!

I forgot the end of the e-course I was enrolled in, which means that I never got to read the last few posts. (I remembered at 6 a.m. the following day and am hoping that the course teacher will cut me slack, given that she's pregnant too!)

Who knows what else I've forgotten, and not yet remembered that I've forgotten?

This certain level of spaciness leaves me with a floating feeling, like I'm not quite tethered to my normal life. I'm not particularly upset with myself; it just seems like another unavoidable pregnancy side effect, like being tired or having sciatica.

I'm not just dropping things figuratively; it's literal too. Yesterday, in one of those stunning chains of poorly-timed events, I dropped a glass bowl, which bounced on the slate countertop and then shattered on the slate floor, scattering glass shards all over the lower level of the house. Which meant that I had to send Elan upstairs just before Mikhail had a phone interview, so Elan was screaming and I was starving and my back hurt (the aforementioned sciatica) and I had to clean up the glass which of course was EVERYWHERE but I was that kind of pregnant-hungry where you're lightheaded and all you can think about is eating. And so I brought Elan his milk, read him a story, put him in "quiet time," sent Mikhail over to the neighbor's house so that there wouldn't be 3-year-old screaming in the background of his call, and then I could finally sit down on a barstool in the middle of the shattered glass and eat my tuna fish sandwich.

It was a really good sandwich.

This prenatal forgetfulness is common. A pregnant friend of mine confessed she forgot her 20-week ultrasound. That made me feel better. According to BabyCenter, no one knows why women tend to be more forgetful during pregnancy, or even if they actually do suffer real short-term memory loss, as opposed to just having the perception that they're flakier. Certainly growing a human being inside your body can distract you from life's everyday tasks (trying to remember that third item you needed at the grocery store as someone karate-chops your cervix from the inside). It's good training for parenthood, as you attempt to have a coherent conversation with someone from the credit card company while your child freaks out because he wants to watch Super Why and Curious George is on the TV.

I liked this advice from BabyCenter:
"Forgetfulness may be your cue to simplify your life. Easier said than done, of course. But you don't absolutely have to wallpaper that room you've been meaning to get to for a while now. Or clean all your closets just because a new baby is arriving. This sort of self-imposed stress, part of the feverish nesting that women often get into before a birth, can lead you to forget things."

I think BabyCenter is peeking at my to-do-before-baby-arrives list.

My current absent-mindedness forces me to not sweat the small stuff. Mikhail reassures me that I'm not going to forget our child, and that is the most important thing. Which child? I ask. But it's true - I won't forget them. The one out of the womb is too loud to forget, and the one inside the womb has taken to some major kicking and hiccups in the past few days, disabusing me of the notion that he/she is a mellow, sleepy baby.

For what it's worth, I'm keeping a careful eye on my calender. Practicing the art of forgiving myself for mistakes small and large. And by all means, if there's something you know I shouldn't forget, please remind me.

By the way, today is Mikhail and my 7th wedding anniversary. I remembered as soon as I woke up.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Moments, By The Sea

A cloudy day at the beach is still a day at the beach

Elan named the baby. Thank goodness, because Mikhail and I have been having some trouble with this task. One morning, playing a game involving magnetic tow truck and wrecked cars with numbers on them, Elan said "Baby Tie-lie is 1 years old." Only a blip of hesitation before he busted out with "Tie-lie." Then he towed the "1" over to my belly and plopped it on top. Also, according to him, it's a girl. He's thought that since the start, using the pronoun "she" and talking about his "sister." Won't he be surprised if it's a boy. Of course, I think he'll just be surprised that it's an actual baby, come to live with us, and by the way, when will she/he be going home?

Judah is safely on his way back to Georgia with no injuries caused by Elan. Not that he didn't occasionally try. One morning, while I slept in, Elan overturned an ottoman on top of Judah. He did it right in front of my sister. She put him in a time-out. Later in the day, while my mom gave Judah his bottle, Elan overturned the ottoman on top of himself (it's pretty light) and chastized himself. Obviously there is a lot going on in that little blonde-streaked head. I believe it is now clear that he takes after his mama in that he processes things in advance. And he's definitely in processing mode about "Tie-lie," this unknowable baby on the way.

Showing Judah the ropes

Kind of

We've been having a lot of 5:30 a.m. scream-fests. You can imagine how much Mikhail and I enjoy this. This morning, I plopped Elan in the stroller and took a walk. The sky was gray, the air was damp, and the crickets were still chirping. The fact that I could hear the crickets chirping was a blessed relief. He was quiet in the stroller, curled under a blanket in his sleeper, eyes wide. On the way home, he told me: "Mama, I'm going to blow like this (demonstrates a puff like blowing out a candle), and then I'm going to be a big boy. Ready, set, go. (Big puff.) See? Now I'm a big boy."

Back in Berkeley, it took knocking the contents of a full glass of water into my open nightstand drawer in the middle of the night to get me to clean out my junk drawer. Not that I tend to procrastinate household organizational tasks or anything... If I spent as much time doing them as thinking about doing them, I'd have a very well-organized house indeed.

Moments is a weekly challenge I'm setting for myself, an opportunity to reflect on and capture all those little moments that make up life. If you'd like to join me in this blog challenge by starting your own Moments series, please do! It's not just for parents. If you do take this blog challenge, please link back here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Own Kind of Strength

So here we are in San Diego, where the weather has taken a serious lesson in gloom. For the last three mornings, it's been raining. RAINING! IN SAN DIEGO, IN THE SUMMER! And then it's cold and gloomy for the rest of the day. I believe the weather is actually worse here than in the Bay Area, which is saying something given it's July.

Unfortunately, Elan's behavior is pretty gloomy too. Sometimes travel does wonders for him, helps break him out of fussy patterns. Generally speaking, he's quite delightful while traveling. But this trip has so far not accomplished that. In fact, I would say that he's been even more difficult while traveling than he was at home. There are two possible responses I could have to this development: 1) cry and rage with frustration; 2) laugh hysterically.

Ha! Ha! Ha!

Did that seem forced?

Also, now that the newness factor has worn off being around his cousin Judah, Elan's obviously becoming jealous, and I see a certain glint in his eye that means he is considering the boundaries of acceptable behavior toward a baby. What about a hug that morphs into full-body contact? Will they notice the aggression if it's couched in affectionate terms? This behavior of course makes me feel very encouraged given the baby who will be joining our household come fall.

All of these rather gloomy developments have convinced me once and for all that we just need to spend the money and meet with a parenting coach to help us. I've chosen Meg Zweibeck, because she's been doing this for a long time, she has an excellent reputation, and both Mikhail and I have been to her talks and liked her playful-but-firm approach. We could probably find a cheaper alternative, like going to speak with an intern at the Ann Martin Children's Center. But I'm past the point of fooling around. I need to talk to someone who knows what they're doing and come up with a plan. NOW. Actually, yesterday.

I often wish I could be one of those graceful moms who make parenting look easy. Even when their children are misbehaving, these moms handle it without ever seeming to break a sweat. One of my best friends is this kind of mom, and though she does sometimes admit to being overwhelmed dealing with her four (4!!) children, from the outside she is the picture of parenting confidence and calm.

I'm working on accepting that I'm really not that kind of mom. For better or worse, I'm much more likely to highlight the drama and downplay to myself and others the times I feel I'm getting it right. Part of it is definitely that I have a challenging child ("spirited!" - I'm reading this book). But it's also that I value the honesty of showing the not-graceful times in parenting. Writing about my miscarriage, I realized I am interested in exploring when life is not pretty, when it turns you on your head, and how to deal with that. We'll all have those times, whether it's because your 3-year-old is throwing a fit in a cafe at 8 AM on a rainy morning, or some other challenge. I'm willing to explore my own vulnerabilities as a person, and as a mother. And though it might not be very graceful, I have to believe this quality is its own kind of strength.

Back in March, one of my friends posted this question on Facebook: Moms, how often do you feel like you are failing as a parent? I've thought a lot about her question since then, and I admire her for asking it. I'm not sure this would have been my answer back in March, when all I could think about was not puking, but it is my answer right now: every single damn day.

Graceful? No.

Honest? Yes.

And so my challenge right now is managing to locate my sense of humor, find my inner grounding, and navigate my way to a sense of perspective. Every single damn day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Moments, Lake Tahoe

Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.
-Annie Dillard

Lake Tahoe, 23 weeks

We spent a few days at Lake Tahoe with my parents, aka Nana & Babu, my sister Laura, brother-in-law Jason and their 9-month-old son Judah.

Laura, Jason & Judah

Judah and Elan are a study in contrasts. Judah is a great sleeper and loves to eat. Need I say more?

"Dude, can I have some of those?"
Judah covets Elan's crackers.

The boys are wearing my favorite kiddo hooded towels. They're super-soft, warm enough to take away a post-swim chill, breathable enough to play in, UPF 50, and if you want one in pink, they're on sale right now.

Elan slept across the hall from Judah. Guess who got up 6 times per night?

Drink of choice: Judah, baby sleeper extraordinaire, chugs his bottle while Nana sips her wine

Elan went bodysurfing in the lake. Which was not warm. His lips turned quite a lovely shade of purple. The water might have looked tropical, but it felt like snowmelt run-off. What is it that makes kids immune to cold when they're having fun?

Babu as lifeguard

Hope your weekend is filled with memorable moments.

Moments is a weekly challenge I'm setting for myself, an opportunity to reflect on and capture all those little moments that make up life. If you'd like to join me in this blog challenge by starting your own Moments series, please do! It's not just for parents. If you do take this blog challenge, please link back here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

He Made It Up All By Himself

Elan's favorite joke: "Pee-pee comes out of my butt, and poop comes out of my wee-wee!"
(Peals of laughter follow)

Clearly, his friend Ben shares the same sense of humor. Check out my friend Andrea's latest post. Ah, the humiliation humility of parenthood!