One of my favorite things about being Vivi’s mom is watching her develop a sense of humor. It has always been fairly easy to coax a giggle out of her, but lately she has started to realize that she is funny.
Sometimes I watch her do something just to get a laugh out of me or whatever adoring audience has gathered around, and I have to marvel at that instinct. Sure, making someone laugh always makes me feel good, but what an amazing thing that babies feel that high too.
As a result, Vivi is just so silly. She’s constantly babbling, waving her arms, running around, and putting on a show. She fake sneezes, shrieks with joy, and blows raspberries on my tummy (giggling like a fiend all the way).
Her silliness is a reminder to me, too. My days are so full, and it’s easy to get caught up in my to-do lists. It’s easy to get frustrated or distracted. But when I see that huge grin spread across her face, the one that puts all five of her teeth on display, I can’t help but put down what I’m doing for a tickle fest or another round of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
I want to be a good, responsible mom, but I also want Vivi to remember that we had so much fun. We danced and sang and talked in silly voices and laughed and laughed and laughed.
Last weekend, Vivi had her first ever sleepover away from home without me.
It was at her grandparents’ in Long Island, so she wasn’t terribly far, but I’m sure you can still appreciate the momentousness of the milestone.
From the moment Vivi existed, she has been with me. Of course, she has had babysitters and even spent a full day with her grandparents before, but it was a strange experience to be truly separate for more than 24 hours.
Honestly, I was fine. I don’t beat myself up about the fact that sometimes it’s nice to get a break from parenting. Parenting is the world’s most constant job when you’re on, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a moment to not be “on” now and then. To be fair, I kept myself very busy cleaning the apartment and even having a night out with friends (without worrying about the babysitter at home! So novel!). But I do think I could have been okay even if I had spent the entire time watching reality television at home.
It’s such a funny thing how so many people in the world are more than happy to jump down your throat if you even imply that you might enjoy doing something other than doting on your child all day. I think this perception is getting better (or maybe I just surround myself with people who are more compassionate and, let’s be real, honest), but I still feel it engrained in my own thinking sometimes. I actually had moments of guilt for not wishing Vivi was with me every second she was away. Like I should feel bad about enjoying being the person I was before a baby, even if only for a few hours. I’m going to try not to be so hard on myself about those feelings anymore.
That being said, I was SO. HAPPY. when Vivi came home. I swear that little stinker got even more gorgeous while she was away. And it was nice to see that she had missed me just as much.
I’m pretty proud of both of us.
I don’t want another baby right now.
I feel like I need to preface with that. I might also feel like I need to say that out loud a few times. You know, remind myself.
Because, you guys? Sometimes I think I want another baby right now.
It’s possible that I’m going insane. Because one minute I’m feeling sweat pool in the small of my back as I rush to pick up a basketful of toys, answer a few work emails (one-handed on my phone), and sneak in a load of laundry, all while simultaneously catching Vivi as she tries to tumble off the couch that she has learned how to climb in the last week, telling myself my life is insane and also that I should probably mop the floor sometime in the next month because Vivi has taken to licking any cold surface she encounters (ugh).
In these moments, I will literally think: I am never having another baby.
But maybe an hour later, when I’ve resigned myself to the toys on the floor and resolved to figure out the emails after bedtime and the laundry is folded and Vivi is playing quietly by herself for a few minutes, I’ll think, GOSH, another baby would be fun.
Like I said, I’m
possibly probably insane.
That’s why they call it baby fever — it elicits this excited, irrational state where you are not making any sense.
Recently, I tested a bracelet for work that helps you track your fertility cycle. (Again, not trying to get pregnant. It really is just for work.) One day, an alert popped up reminding my that my “fertility window” was about to begin.
And my FIRST thought was, oh, it would be fun to try to get pregnant again. It would be fun to be pregnant again.
You’ll be relieved to know those were split-second thoughts, followed immediately by actually laughing out loud at myself and returning my attention to Vivi who was pulling her play kitchen apart and spreading her tiny wooden “groceries” all over the floor for Bogey to chew on as she tried to gnaw on his plastic ball with her free hand. (At least the kids are sharing?)
I do not really want to be pregnant right now.
Actually, that’s another element to this: Vivi. Like most parents, I think she is literally the greatest kid to have ever walked the earth. Joey and I have at least one conversation every night about how great she is. I’m not just saying that to be cute. We say the words, “Vivi is the greatest” almost every night. I love her in a way I didn’t know I could. And even though I’m always grateful for a chance I get to do something for myself or on my own (thank you, village of fantastic people who help to watch her!), I am always, ALWAYS so happy to see her again. And for one thing, the thought of changing our relationship makes me a little sad. And for another, it’s hard to imagine loving another kid the same way.
I know this is a thing – every first-time mom thinks they could never love a second kid as much, and then they have said second kid and somehow they just do. But I really just think it’s something you have to experience before you really believe it.
Regardless, though, I’m not ready to change anything. I am so satisfied with Vivs, and, if I’m being real, I am legitimately concerned that another kid would break my sanity right now. Let’s talk again in a year or so.
So, fertility window, you’re staying shut for now.
I thought of this post while I was trapped under my sleeping child at 4:40 on a Tuesday afternoon. (But if you follow me on Instagram, you already knew that.) One arm firmly wrapped around Vivi’s snoozing body, I tapped out a few sentences to help myself remember it with one thumb on my phone, my very least favorite way to communicate. (Seriously, it gives me legitimate anxiety having to type so slowly. Anyone else?)(I may have a problem.)
I had not intended on taking a 30-minute breather on my couch at 4:40 that Tuesday. I had plans for my afternoon. Vivi and I had spent late morning at the park, where she was to run out all her energy before returning home, eating a nutritious lunch of ground turkey and sweet potato chili, and then taking a 2-hour nap in her crib while I worked and prepped dinner for that evening. It would be relaxing, satisfying, and totally stress-free.
It was also, it turns out, entirely not how the day went.
The park was fine, as it almost always is. But I made the mistake of staying ten minutes too long, leaving me with a hungry, cranky babe for the short walk home. By the time lunch was heated and ready to eat, Viv’s #hanger got the better of her. She ate most of the turkey and almost all of the sweet potatoes, but at least a third of her food was swiftly chucked onto the floor for Bogey to enjoy. Perfect.
As for the 2-hour nap…I tried to put her down around one. No dice. I tried again around 2:00, diligently making myself ignore my swiftly approaching 3 o’clock deadline for the site I edit to launch. Again, she wailed for a solid 20 minutes until I brought her back into the living room.
Not that she was happy awake, mind you. She wasn’t. She fussed and rubbed her eyes and griped at me about just about everything.
If only there was a simple way to solve all her problems. Like, oh, I don’t know…going to sleep.
I was so frustrated. I felt tempted to call off our evening plans, so certain was I that Vivi would be an absolute terror if we took her anywhere.
Finally, at 3:30, I laid her down and resolved to let her cry out her feelings a bit. Within 10-15 minutes, she was sound asleep. (I firmly believe that babies always know when they are going to break you and when they are not.) I was able to get most of my work for the launch done, but Vivi woke about 40 minutes later and started crying immediately.
I held her in my lap as I finished up my work, and all of a sudden I realized that she was sound asleep again. So I laid down on the couch without thinking to put her in a more comfortable position.
It was then that I realized I was now trapped. And work wasn’t done, dinner wasn’t prepped (we usually eat around 5:30), and I wasn’t anywhere near ready for our meeting that night (we have to leave by 6:40 to make it on time).
My first instinct was to feel frustrated — I had done everything right! I had a plan! Why was everything being so mean to meeeeeee.
But, in an effort to be more patient, I decided instead to take a breath and take a moment to stare at this beautiful creature sleeping on top of me. And in those 20 minutes I was her captive, I realized a few things:
1. Vivi has the longest eye lashes, but her eyes are so bright, you only really notice the lashes when the eyes are closed. You know, like they are when she’s sleeping.
2. I truly don’t think there is anything sweeter than a peacefully sleeping baby.
3. It’s okay that I’m not in control of everything. And even if it’s not, it’s just how life is now, and I may as well get on board.
I hate when I start to notice something about myself that I don’t like.
I’m not talking about physically, like unwanted weight gain or a flurry of skin issues. I’m talking about my character.
I like to think that I’m pretty judicious in assessing my own flaws. I can keep things in perspective, sure, but I am self-aware enough to always know every last thing that’s wrong with me. (It’s like the world’s worst party trick!)
Lately, I can’t help but feel like I have the shortest patience of anyone on the planet.
To be fair, this flaw has had a slow build. I blame much of it on living in New York. But I really, really hate when I feel my flaws affecting the way I parent Vivi.
In the last few months, there have been a couple of times that I’ve caught myself totally snapping at her because she is doing something naughty. I do want to discipline her in a way that’s meaningful to her, but in these cases, I was just airing my frustration. To be fair, I’m usually tired or stressed or in the middle of too many things at once, but, honestly, those just don’t sound like good excuses to me. Like most parents, I don’t want to be someone who just yells all the time. I feel like it will just become white noise to the kid anyway.
When I do yell, I want it to strike fear into her tiny heart. #MomGoals
But, again, I don’t want that to be my go-to. I want to take a second first to breathe, collect myself, and parent in a positive way.
I’m probably being a bit naive. I know there is no way I’m going to never lose my patience, snap, yell, etc. Stressful NYC life or not, I’m still human.
But I’m still trying. In the last week, I can’t think of any time I really yelled, and I feel good about that.
Sometimes I forget that I’ve done this mom thing for such a short amount of time. When every moment with your child feels so precious and fleeting, it’s hard not to put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. I’m glad that I can be aware of my failings, not as a way to constantly beat myself up (I really don’t, I promise) but so I can be attune to ways to improve always.
Thank goodness Vivi is so much more patient with me than I am with myself.
So, I’ve officially begun weaning Vivi.
Side note: Can we please find a new term for this? Weaning sounds like a loose mix of taking a leak and the noise an animal might make as it dies. Not. A. Fan.
But the point is, we’re down to one nursing session a day (right before bed), and it’s leaving me with a lot of mixed feelings.
On one hand, it’s nice to have a bit more freedom in my day. I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can take her anywhere and not worry about having to find somewhere private for meals! I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can leave her with a sitter for more than four hours at a time! I CAN WEAR DRESSES THAT DON’T BUTTON!
But while I do like this new age of freedom and independence for us both, I’d be lying if I said I was completely thrilled by the development.
Sometimes, I miss the closeness. I miss getting to snuggle up four to six times a day (or even more in the beginning) and feel so bonded to this lovely, tiny person.
Of course, that’s the nostalgia talking. I know in my brain that nursing wasn’t always to picturesque. But there is a tiny part of my heart that breaks anytime Vivi asks to nurse and I have to give her a sip of water or milk from a cup and distract her away from me.
I’m trying to focus on the good things. I was able to go to an all-day work conference for my new job (that I absolutely love). Vivi was able to spend the day with her grandparents at a company picnic on Long Island. (Though, not going to lie, sending her off in a car with someone who is not me was much harder than I expected.)
Basically, we’re all growing up. And, for the most part, dealing with it.
Just don’t grow too fast, k, Viv?