My Kid was THAT Kid

We chose to hire a nanny versus putting Charlotte in day care because it’s what I was most comfortable with for my 4 month old baby after exploring the day care centers in our area that had space for her.

Having a nanny has been a blessing in a lot of ways. Charlotte gets the kind of one-on-one attention that she’d get from us. They play and sing, and the whole day revolves around Charlotte. I don’t have to pack a lunch or send bottles or anything else that would make our mornings more hectic than they are. Plus, the dogs have company all day, and they love being home with their baby. It’s been great.

The down side to the nanny scenario is that Charlotte is the only kid. She doesn’t have to share. She hasn’t watched much social interaction between kids. It’s literally her own little planet.

Once Charlotte got stable on her feet, we started spending weekends at the park. It’s great for our high-energy little one, and we figured it would be good for her to be around other kids. It turns out that the park isn’t the best place to meet other kids, though. At least not in our neighborhood. There aren’t very many little ones her age when we go, and she can’t keep up with the bigger kids.

This is all part of the reason why I decided to take her to a kid gym class when I was off with her on Thursday. I wanted to see how she’d do in a room full of kids that were in her age range. (And you know—the play part was a factor too!)

So we show up for class, and Charlotte’s eyes practically bugged out of her head when she saw the play space. BALLS EVERYWHERE. Yoga balls, playground balls, ball pit… holy crap, the kid was in HEAVEN. I’m trying to get her shoes off and she’s just pointing and saying “Ball, ball, ball, ball…”

She got to run around the play space for a few minutes before class started, and it was awesome. She was so happy running from one thing to the next.

Until circle time happened. Picture a big circle filled with about a dozen toddlers each with an adult. Eleven of those toddlers are going with the program, happily enjoying the song/stretches/etc. One toddler is screaming and writhing out of her mom’s arms and pitching an absolute fit.

Guess which one was Charlotte?

If you guessed the screaming one, you are correct.

I had to get up and remove her form the circle so I could try to talk her down. While I was talking to her, circle time ended and they started some free play, so she went straight from tantrum to her happy place. BALLS.

Except it turns out that other kids like balls, too. Imagine that.

Well, my kid couldn’t imagine why another kid would want to play with a ball, and was intent on ripping balls out of their hands no matter how many other balls were currently available to her. And when I would stop and tell her that she needs to share and give the ball back to the poor shocked child standing there with outstretched arms, Charlotte would MELT. DOWN.

It wasn’t pretty, folks. Not pretty at all.

I’m not saying it was ALL bad. She had SO MUCH FUN playing. She was bouncing on anything that could bounce and gleefully running through the space squealing. She climbed and swung and tumbled her heart out. That part was great.

She’s just SO LACKING social skills. She has no idea how to be around other children. #momfail

It’s hard because our nanny doesn’t drive, so the most they can do is walk to the park during the day. That means it’s on us (with our very limited time with her) to make sure she’s getting some solid social time.

I don’t want my kid to be the pain in the ass scream-y kid in the play group! I’m grateful that I took that time with her on Thursday because otherwise I would have remained pleasantly oblivious to all of this for a while longer. Better to know now so we can start working on it!

This weekend, we’re going to decide which of two kid gym groups we’re going to join so we can start paying through the nose to get her an hour of social play time each week. (This shit is so damn expensive!)

Also, it is painfully obvious that we need more friends with kids. Because I have so much free time to devote to trying to make mom friends. Is there a match.mom?

Time

Lately, I have really been feeling the strain of working full time. I miss my daughter so much that it actually hurts. Her caregivers spend more time with her than I do. I hate it. I even resent it.

Our nanny was on vacation part of this week, so we had to make alternate arrangements for Charlotte Wednesday through Friday. This was planned well over a month in advance, so we had plenty of notice. My mom took her on Wednesday and the plan was for Catch and I to each take a day off to accommodate the rest of the week. Thursday was my day.

I’ve been looking forward to my day off with Charlotte for weeks. It is exceedingly rare that I get to spend a day alone with my girl. I can’t even remember the last time we had a whole day to ourselves.

Then on Tuesday, I got sucked into giving a big presentation to our executive team at their meeting. On Thursday. I was pretty upset about it. (Understatement.) The stars aligned though (!!!), and my boss ended up deciding he was going to deal with it himself so I got to have my day with Charlotte after all.

We had such a great day. This morning as I drove to work, I felt recharged. Happy, even. It was a total transformation. (Although it also helped that I didn’t have to peel my crying child off of me and pass her to the nanny when I left this morning.)

We didn’t do anything very special. We went out for breakfast and to the park with my dad in the morning. Then she took a good, solid nap and after she woke up and had lunch, we bought dog treats and went to one of those kid gym classes for the first time. (We’ve been talking about doing that for MONTHS, but the class schedule has never worked out between our work schedules and her nap schedule.) At the end of our “fun,” I was happy to come home and leave her with Catch while I cooked dinner for us all.

I learned yesterday that this is something I need to do from time to time. Take an occasional day off and just BE with my kid. It seems kind of obvious when I think about it.

Random Monday Things

– Charlotte and I both wore our donut pajamas to bed on Saturday night, and when we woke up on Sunday morning the donut fairy* had visited. Note to self: coordinate wearing of donut pajamas more frequently.

Eating a donut from Molly on Vimeo.

– Catch and I decided that we’d go out for dinner with Charlotte after running a few errands on Saturday afternoon. Catch invited my parents. As we sat in the booth with our crazy toddler who was excitedly reaching for beer glasses and throwing knives across the table (what can I say? She’s enthusiastic.), I looked at Catch and mentioned how nice it was to have my parents there because they were dealing with Charlotte’s insanity while we ate in (reasonable) peace. She looked at me and said, “Why do you think I invited them?” Clearly, I do not give my wife enough credit. She is brilliant.

– I’ve been wearing my fit bit for the first time in a year. I have gained a half a pound since I put it on. Sigh.

– Yesterday, we had one of our friends over for an early Sunday dinner. After dinner, I sort of forced her into the bathroom to bathe Charlotte with Catch. After she left, I was feeling like that was probably a bizarre thing to do to one of our childless friends and wondered what on earth I was thinking. This morning, said friend (who I happen to work with) walked into my office and proclaimed that she wants to be able to give a baby a bath every week because it was so much fun. She is a good egg. I think we’ll keep her.

– We desperately want to take Charlotte camping, but all of our favorite sites (ie, sites that are within a few hours of home and have things like running water that would make life with a toddler manageable) are booked until they go off of the online reservations system in December. I liked to camp before camping was cool. Damn these hipsters who made camping trendy. I just want to take my daughter somewhere pretty where she can breathe fresh air and see the stars and get filthy. Is that too much to ask?

-Sometimes, my kid is really weird. I don’t even know what she’s doing at the beginning of this video. For a minute, I thought she was having a stroke, but no… she’s just weird.

Weird Child at Breakfast from Molly on Vimeo.

 

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely weekend and that you stayed clear of toddlers throwing knives at restaurants.

 

* AKA Catch, who was awake at an ungodly hour and went out and got donuts.

Preschool

Our plan is to start Charlotte at a daycare/preschool next August/September. La la la… that’s a year away… we’ll deal with it later.

Except, we won’t deal with it later because WAIT LISTS.

Every single preschool in this damn city has a wait list. Apparently, we should have started shopping for preschool before we started our baby registry.

Catch and I have spent the week researching preschools that are a) close to home (because we both work in opposite directions of each other and I will be doing drop off but she will be doing pick up), b) affordable, and c) not hell holes/have good reviews.

We came up with a list this week and Catch started a spreadsheet and began contacting each school to inquire about wait lists, tuition, tours, etc. As we were sitting on the grass playing with Charlotte in the back yard the other night, we discovered that we were both drawn to one particular school. It’s a larger school with a gorgeous campus, a beautiful play area, farm animals and a huge swimming pool. It has five star ratings everywhere we’ve looked, and it’s 1.7 miles from our house.

I figured this place was a pipe dream. No way could we afford it and no way was she getting anywhere near that place before kindergarten.

THEN, we found out that we CAN afford this place AND they said she’ll have no trouble getting in as long as we fill out an application when we do our tour in a few weeks.

Christmas came early, folks. CHAMPAGNE FOR EVERYONE!

I am so fucking relieved.

My kid may not sleep worth a damn, but she is going to get into preschool and I did not have to sell a kidney. #momwin

I’m really trying here, but…

Yesterday…

Catch: Charlotte can have a turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

MIL: OK

This morning…

Me: (on my way out the door) You’ve got lunch covered, right?

MIL: Yes, I’m making her a grilled cheese sandwich.

Me: No, like Catch said yesterday, please make her a turkey sandwich.

MIL: OK

This afternoon:

Text from MIL: Charlotte had grilled cheese for lunch.

I mean come on. I’m trying. I’m really trying. But seriously?

I know this is not that big of a deal. The difference between a turkey sandwich and grilled cheese is negligible. It’s not like she poisoned my kid. It’s still a freaking sandwich.

It’s just the principle.

I’ve got to start letting this little shit go. I just get so frustrated. Catch lets it roll right off with an upward flick of her eyes and a shrug of her shoulders. Why can’t I be more like that?

A Case of the Mondays

First thing this morning, I got into it with an anonymous stranger online about something I never anticipated becoming a thing. It escalated until I turned into a royal bitch and told her that I hope she enjoys the view from the high road. She promptly left the group afterward, leaving me feeling a strange mix of victorious and guilty. I should have just left it alone. I know better than to get into it with strangers on the internet.

In the midst of that, my in-laws arrived at my house 90 minutes early and woke Charlotte up from her nap despite being told that she would be napping at that time. My mom babysits on Mondays, so she had to deal with the crazy barking dogs and the screaming baby who was rudely awakened by said barking. I felt bad for my mom, plus I was so angry at my in-laws for not following our (pretty clear?) instructions so I totally went off on my wife because WHY CAN’T YOUR PARENTS EVER LISTEN. We’d been having a really great couple of day until I blew this particular fuse and now my wife is thoroughly pissed off at me.

As a result of all of this anger, I pumped about 3 ounces less than usual.

I have two blisters on my left foot because I decided to wear some shoes that I haven’t worn in ages on the same day that I decided I’m going to start the FitBit challenge that makes sure you get up off your ass during the workday and walk.

Now I don’t want to go home because although my baby girl is there and I want nothing more than to collapse into a heap with her, my in-laws will be there vying for her attention along with my pissed off wife.

Please send chocolate. And wine.

 

Expectations

Ten years ago, I had a lot of expectations of what pregnancy/motherhood would be like.

I expected that I would get pregnant reasonably easily. It took 2 years and IVF.

I expected that a heartbeat at an ultrasound would equal a baby. It doesn’t.

I expected that since childbirth is something women are “built for,” I would bounce right back. I didn’t.

I expected that breastfeeding would come naturally and be easy. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anyway, you get the point. In the game of expectation versus reality, I lose. Every time.

The point of all of this is that my daughter—the light of my life—the center of my universe—the miracle that I went to hell and back to give life to—still can’t sleep for shit.

I expected sleepless nights. I did. I remember hanging out with my 4-week old baby in the middle of the night while she frolicked happily in her swing and I propped my eyelids open with toothpicks and feeling like it was okay because this is how it’s supposed to be. Tiny babies don’t sleep through the night. I can handle that. And I did handle it.

Then, I went back to work and had a nervous breakdown because it turns out that it’s really hard to function in the corporate world when you’ve been sleeping in two hour increments for 16 weeks.

Ten months later, I am still getting up with this child 3-4 times a night. Then I get up and head to work so I can adult for 8 hours. And then I come home, feed my family, play with my child, put her to bed and start the whole process all over again a few hours later.

This was not my expectation. Not at all. At this stage in the game, I anticipated a kid who slept through the night and that I would somehow be a model employee and a parenting magazine cover-worthy mother while also maintaining my status as a kick ass wife.

Hello reality. Meet my bitchslap.

I have given up on sleep. I have given up on parenting magazine covers. I have given up on ladder-climbing (I’ll just doze here on my current rung for a bit). I’m actually working a bit on the wife part, but let’s face it—kick ass is probably a level I won’t be reaching anytime soon.

I think I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s time to start lowering my expectations. A lot. At 25, it’s healthy to have high expectations—but if I don’t lower that damn bar a bit at 35, I’m just going to end up with a broken hip and arthritis.

So here we go. My new batch of lowered expectations:

Screw sleeping through the night. I expect that my child will wake up at least 3 times after 11 pm.

Screw losing the baby weight. I expect that my jeans will be tight because I am using sugar as a crutch.

Screw being a model employee. I expect that I will be late 4/5 days a week.

Screw the healthy organic food for my toddler. I expect that my child will refuse to eat the meals I have lovingly spent hours prepping and accept that there may just be a crap ton of frozen pancakes in my future.

Screw having a social life. I expect that I will continue to dodge social obligations out of sheer exhaustion indefinitely.

Identity Crisis

We got the news today that some friends of ours are getting a divorce. It’s not entirely unexpected—they’ve been struggling for a while. Still, it made my heart feel heavy. Marriage is hard.

Before Charlotte was born, I felt like my own marriage was rock solid. We had a great life, and we loved living it—together. Having Charlotte completely upended our world.

Our old home didn’t work with a baby, so we left the best friends/neighbors/community we ever could have hoped for and moved to a house where we have none of that.

Our old friends don’t have kids, and we’ve drifted apart.

Old hobbies have faded into the background because they require time away from Charlotte, and our time with her is already so limited that the hobbies just don’t feel worth it anymore.

Gone are the days of extended happy hours and last minute trips to wine country.

This weekend, we fought. We weren’t communicating on the same level. I was hurt and angry. She was hurt and angry. We exploded at each other in the kitchen during nap time as we stood awkwardly in front of the refrigerator. As we talked through everything, Catch said that we’ve both changed. I was adamant that we’re still us, but we’re just too tired to do anything about it. In hindsight, I think we’re both right.

Motherhood has changed us, for certain. We have new joys and fears and responsibilities. New priorities. But the old “us” is still tucked away in there somewhere. It’s just that in all of our efforts to make Charlotte’s life better, we’ve stifled the parts of us that don’t thrive on motherhood—the parts of us that didn’t change.

The solution seems so easy when I write it out: Make time for ourselves—both separately and together.

And we should. We really should. Catch should be playing softball. (There’s a reason I call her Catch!) I should be—something—sitting in a coffee shop knitting, maybe. We should be venturing out together to take selfies in a vineyard—we have no shortage of willing babysitters!

It’s not that complicated, and I really believe it would make us better, happier people—both as spouses and as mothers.

It’s just so hard to convince myself to take time away from my little girl. She is all I think about at work. I wait all day to come home and hold her in my arms (for the ten seconds she will allow). Weekends are a mix of uninterrupted Charlotte time and time to get our lives put back together after a long week and ready for the next long week.

It feels like we can’t win. When we fill our hearts up with motherhood, we’re not leaving enough room for us—as individuals or as a couple… but if we don’t fill up on motherhood, it feels like we’re missing out on precious time with this little girl who is growing up too fast.

What we really need is about 6 more hours in the day. Or to win the lottery.

Random Monday Things

  • We took Charlotte to the zoo on Saturday. The first exhibit we visited was the elephants. She stared wide-eyed at a solitary elephant standing in the shade before proudly proclaiming, “Dog!” Every single animal we saw that day was a dog. I love this kid so freaking much.
  • I don’t know what came over her, but Charlotte slept for 7 straight hours last night for first time in about 6 months. My body didn’t even know what to do with 7 straight hours and it woke me up about 4 times, but still… 7 hours. Can we make this a thing? Pretty please? (I guarantee we’ll be back to 3-4 wake ups starting tonight, but I can dream.)
  • Weaning is… going. Since Charlotte’s birthday, I’ve decreased my dose of domperidone from 160 mg a day to 110 mg a day (10 mg per week), and I’ve cut down on pumping at work from 3x a day to once a day. Charlotte is becoming increasingly disinterested in bottles ever since I started mixing cow’s milk in with breast milk, and that’s fine by me. The day we went to the zoo, she nursed in the morning and at bedtime and that was it, but then on Sunday she wanted to nurse every 10 minutes. She’s keeping me on my toes.
  • All of a sudden, Charlotte dropped her second nap. It came out of nowhere. She was taking two good, solid naps religiously, and then one day about a week ago, she just stopped. Her morning nap suddenly turned into a 3-hour thing and all hope of an afternoon nap vanished. It took us until this weekend to realize that the afternoon nap is officially history, and now we’re scrambling to try to get her to take her nap later in the day so she doesn’t fall apart in the late afternoon. I have no idea what a target nap time should be at this point, but I guess we’ll find the sweet spot eventually.
  • If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering if there’s some correlation between a good night’s sleep and the dropped nap. Only time will tell.
  • I don’t get to wear Charlotte very often these days because a) it’s been scorching hot and we haven’t been going out much, b) I’m not with her all day, and c) she wants to walk everywhere now. Even so, all of a sudden when I pull out the Tula, she gets all excited and runs over to me with her arms out. It’s so damn cute. I can’t get enough of this kid.

A few weekend photos for good measure:

IMG_1174IMG_1156IMG_1165IMG_1222IMG_1192

Well That Escalated Quickly, aka In Which I Swear a Lot

This morning, I told Catch’s aunt that I need a bottle of vodka and a valium. Ha ha ha… except I’m serious, folks. I really am. Knock me the hell out and wake me up when a) my kid is done teething for a while and b) she can sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time.

This mama is tapped out.

I keep reading comments from moms whose kids eat whatever is put in front of them, and I just want to scream. On Sunday, I spent several hours in a hot summer kitchen making spinach banana muffins and quinoa/broccoli/cheesy mini muffin things, and you know what happens to them all? They get thrown to the (very enthusiastic) dogs or smashed in the hair that I wasn’t planning on washing that night.

At least my dogs appreciate my cooking.

And okay, my wife does too.

Why does it bother me so much that she won’t eat what I cook for her?! Why do I not just say fuck it and feed her the frozen pancakes and cheese tortellini that makes her so happy?

Speaking of kitchen-y things, my mom cleaned our kitchen when she was babysitting Charlotte last Monday. It was miraculous. Everything sparkled like an 80s dish soap commercial. I was DETERMINED to keep it looking beautiful. For the last week and a half, I have been diligent about wiping counters and clearing dishes. Unfortunately, our nanny has not caught on to this phenomenon and when I get home, the sink is full of dishes (EVEN THOUGH I HAVE BEEN EMPTYING THE DISHWASHER EVERY DAY JUST SO THAT DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN) and the table/counter is covered in crumbs/coffee and I want to scream. Charlotte takes 2 hour naps… WHY CAN’T YOU JUST WIPE UP YOUR COFFEE WHILE THE KID SLEEPS?

GOD.

And you know what? Fuck Donald Trump. I am so sick of politics and election shit that I just want to SCREAM. WHY IS THIS COUNTRY SO GODDAMN STUPID?

Also, my dog won’t stop trying to eat herself and there must be something wrong with her and we’ve tried everything we can think of and she really probably needs to go to the vet except that we can’t find time to get to the stupid vet plus it’s going to cost part of the small fortune that we pay to the nanny who can’t put her water glass in the dishwasher.

Phew.

Now where the hell is my valium?