Friday, June 22, 2012

Lucky number 7

My dear, sweet little Annie.  Yesterday you turned seven months old, which, to me, is simply mind-boggling.  You have grown from a sleepy newborn to an inquisitive little girl who’s closer to a year old than her birth date.  You remain resolute and so very steadfast when you’re hitting your blocks against one another or when you demand (yes – demand) we carry you around the yard so you can see every tree, plant and passing car.  You tug at branches and examine leaves in your little hands, and then let them flutter to the grass.

You have a quiet intensity, but then are suddenly delighted when we plop you in your exersaucer so you can play your “piano”, or when we make silly faces in the mirror together.  Your dad can make you laugh like no one else – you two have a very special kinship and it warms my heart to stand aside and watch your bond grow.  Sometimes he just laughs and then you laugh, your eyes forming matching half-moon crescents from your shared joy.  Everyone says you inherited your eyes from your father, but you have my nose. 

Oh, how you hate peas.  I’ve tried so hard to incorporate them in your menu, but can only trick you into eating a spoonful when they’re mixed with mostly applesauce.  When you realize it’s a dreaded pea, you crinkle your nose and squint your eyes and proceed to mock cough and frail your arms and hands.  Then you look at us accusingly and the whole spectacle makes us giggle, so we always try to do it again (usually then you’ve wised up and simply refuse to eat any more).

You have a strong appetite and hungrily feed yourself sweet potato, pear, apple, banana, and carrot purees.  You grab the spoon and awkwardly jab it into your mouth, sucking on the contents.  Sometimes you bang your fists against your tray in excitement, your eyes shining.  You remind me of a burly king at the head of the table, demanding more wine in his goblet and meat in his belly. 

You now recognize us when we enter a room, or when we look your way.  Yesterday you were on the couch with daddy, and I came downstairs and you looked up and just beamed.  You kicked your legs and arms and seemed to say, “Hey! The gang’s together again!”  I am loving this in particular.

You also now know your name – Annie – but dad still calls JoJo almost exclusively, and when I’m mad I call you Miss Joanna Rose!  I think you will be mischievous; you are already learning cause and effect and I swear pushing your toys off your high-chair tray just to make me scoop them up!

We used to tow you to the store in your carseat but now, more than ever, you demand to be held upright so you can see the people and products.  You love scanning the shelves and whipping your head left and right to soak everything in, and grabbing at the sales tags lining the aisles.  You love paper in general and crumpling it up - your favorite day is when we receive all the supermarket circulars!

Your daycare teachers, especially Fran, really seem to adore you (or they’re good actors!).  They had you pegged when just after a few weeks there they said, “This is a girl who knows what she wants!”  A few weeks ago, when your dad and I sent in a mixture of peas and applesauce (but mostly peas), we got a note that said, “She does NOT like peas AT ALL!,” and I could just imagine you giving them the same theatrical and heavy-handed charade you give us when we sneak them to you!

We’re glad they take your headstrong and (sometimes) demanding nature in stride.  Yesterday when I picked you up at the end of the day you were sitting down and closely examining a toy with your friend, Adrianna.  Everyone says you are two peas in a pod, and I just watched you both from the doorway and felt so proud that you were playing independently.  However, one thing that differentiates your from Adrianna is that she was on her stomach, and you still utterly refuse.

You abhor tummy time!  Can you believe you’ve only rolled over a few times at four months old?  It’s true.  I am exasperated at your protests and your dad is just tickled; he says you don’t need to crawl because you’re going to go right to walking, but I disagree and say you need to build those muscles.  You dad and I also disagree on occasional TV.  Sometimes I’m just tired and don’t know what to do with you so I put a few minutes of a baby video on.  Your dad hates this and barges into the room and scoops you up.  He says you only should have interactive play, and you look like a zombie when you watch Baby Einstein.  I’m just happy to have a few moments to myself!

He can be a softy, too.  During the early morning – and especially on the weekends when we try to “sleep in” to seven, your dad will bring you into our bed after you wake.  He told me the other day, “Don’t you just love it?  Falling asleep next to her as she’s smiling at you?”  I suspect you think you tricked us by getting time in bed, but maybe the joke’s on you, little one: we all relish those morning moments as we cuddle and fall once again into a quiet slumber.

We are finally getting this baby thing down.  Penny has even grown to accept you and welcomes you home every day with a perfunctory sniff.  She often comes over and licks your sticky hands and feet, and waits below your high-chair for your empty food containers, and then laps up the leftovers.  You reach and pet her, too, and I’m so thankful we have such a gentle dog who takes your petulant outbursts in stride.  We call her your big sis.

You dad and I talk a lot about the future: we talk about how fun Christmas mornings will be, or decorating Easter eggs together.  We talk about homework and school sports and dance and neighborhood friends (basically all the fun stuff).  We’re excited to take you on our very first beach vacation next week (okay, excited and a bit scared!).  We want so very much for you, Annie, and you have given us so very much.  We love you, kiddo.  Happy seven months.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day by day

My nemesis is about 5'3", drives a Nisson Xterra (those bulky things are an abomination) and scowls at me every time I see her.  I feel like there are "Mommy Wars" in every context (home versus hospital births, breastfeeding versus formula, working versus not), and now I'm in my own personal battle with this moody mama from daycare.

Our daycare is in a well-off area, but we picked it because 1) it's close to my train station and 2) it seemed a lot more unstructured and normal than the Ivy League-groomin' joint down the street.  I's daycare. 

Anyway, let's get down to business: many of the parents are obviously doing pretty well because they have nice cars, clothes, and fancy baby seats. I'm totally ogling their kids' gear when they're not looking.  We have the Target special and drive the cheapest versions of a 2004 Civic and a 2005 Corolla.  The latter has packaging tape holding it together.  (Don't be intimidated by our high-roller lifestyle.)

So there I am every morning, shortly after seven, wearing something that is inevitably wrinkled, getting out of my sweet ride, and this mom gives me a raised eyebrow as I wobble in with my sweet little girl strapped in her car seat.  We are not so frumpy and frazzled that it makes us pathetic or endearing (movies with harried moms always make them seem cute and endearing): we're just doing our thing and a bit tired.  When I was in Annie's room I mentioned that she had a bit more peach fuzz than before (I mean, she's still pitifully bald, but we cling to the notion of a "a bit more fuzz!") and this other mother guffaws and comments on the luxuriousness of her child's hair while turning to me.  Look - no infant has luxurious hair!  It's called "baby fine" for a reason.  She then looks me up and down.  How dare this woman make me feel small.  Aren't we all in this together?  This is not easy.

Putting Annie in daycare is hard, but has not ravaged me the way I thought it might: during my last days of maternity leave I sat on my couch and wailed.  But it didn't talk long (like a day!) to find I like my adult time.  I like having a break.  But it still kills me she's there so often and for so long.  When her teacher took me aside this morning and said that Annie had a horrible day yesterday - that she was so fussy and inconsolable - my eyes welled up and that familiar tightness in my chest returned.  The teacher hugged me and said they'll watch her today - hopefully it will be better - it might be an ear infection or she may be teething, or she just had a bad day.  And I said thank you, please let me know, and I got in my car and cried.  Not just about her, but about both of us.

And this is when it's hard - when the puzzle pieces are still askew and nothing seems to be fitting, at daycare or at work.  For a job and industry that doesn't pay well and doesn't have any prestige (I can pick 'em!) I have a large workload and a lot of anxiety that surrounds it.  I have spoken to my boss about my inability to continue like this.  I even mentioned my Crohn's and how I'm having a flare that I believe is stress-induced - perhaps a risky corporate move, but needed.  Her sensitivity and response gives me hope.

And then I asked Matt to pick-up Annie earlier - to see how she was doing today.  I called him while still in the city shutting down my computer and he already had Annie home and she was "happy and smiley", and like that I felt instant relief.  I felt lightened.

I've been finding being a working mother very much like this: the pains ebb and flow, but for the most part, we're fine and we keep moving on.  One step - and day - after the next.

And with that, I boarded my train home.

That little girl is my beacon.

Two weeks ago was my 30th birthday.  Matt and Annie surprised me in the city and we went for lunch.  So incredibly sweet.  

We all took the train home together.  I think it's so sweet Annie and Matt took the train in alone together - she was well-behaved both ways!  Here she is mesmerized by my jewelry.

That weekend it was hot so we got out our baby pool (which we originally bought for Penny last year).  Matt and Annie took a dip!

Here's Annie in the backyard watching Matt work on the trellis he's building with his father.  He set this up for her when I was taking a nap:  they are quite the dynamic duo!

The trellis.  For Matt's darn arctic kiwi plants.  (The ideas this boy gets in his head.)

Matt's father David, Matt, and Annie on top of the trellis.