Friday, June 29, 2007

Settling Into Things

Lyra is now 8 weeks old and I'm starting to feel a little more settled into things. It's certainly a lifestyle shock at first. I still look at this wee beastie crying sometimes and just laugh at how she seems like a strange little alien and marvel at just how wild it is that I made a HUMAN BEING!

In the past week or two she and I have found more ways to merge our lives. We, go to baby-friendly movie showings (even one where you can vote the week before on which of the current movies is one that gets designated baby-friendly) and that's been fun. Glenn is working from home a couple of days a week and we’ve gotten to the point where I can go work at my studio when he is here with our yummy little beastie. I've even taken her strawberry picking. So some parts of life don't have to change as much now that we're adapting to less sleep and gradually getting more and more sleep.

What's tough is what people talk about: the isolation. I always thought that those must be the recently transplanted folks, the ones who don't have any friends or family around. But it's not true. People are just really busy and they think they shouldn't hang with you if you have a baby. Or they "give you space" when all you need is contact. Or maybe they think you’ve disappeared when really you are having to give up so much of your time to the baby that you forget to call people with your pea sized memory that’s left in the breaks.

And probably what is most important: there is the fact that 8 weeks is an exceptionally long amount of time when you are awake for most of it. Maybe I don't normally speak to a lot of my friends for 8 weeks, I'm can’t really say for sure. Perhaps it’s similar to other challenging times, like break-ups, where certain people show up for certain kinds of times and they aren’t always the ones you expect. There are so many weird contradictions with the expectations of pregnancy and new parenting. They mostly just pass as flashes in my head while I try and stay afloat and laugh through another cranky session. And we do have a few solid people who have kept us basically sane these last two months! I'm not ignoring them. I'm just totally needy.

Also tough – accepting that this is my current body shape and that it will take me time and effort to get back to something that does not completely freak me out daily. Let’s just say beyond the usual weight gain when a small person has a gigundus baby there is a lot of skin that has to re-tighten! Adding this to a lack of sleep, adapting to the biggest change I could have made in my life and all the ensuing personality crisis and you have the recipe for at least occasional tears.

Glenn gave me a membership to a women’s gym that has kid care and mom-baby classes but I’ve not signed up yet. My current gym is a few blocks away which seems easier to get to at the moment. Mostly Lyra and I dance with her in the Baby Bjorn and walk a lot. (She seemed to enjoy LCD Soundsytem’s “North American Scum” and Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” best today.)

We’ve entered into much more fun mode with Lyra finally and the boot camp feeling of things has lessened dramatically. During her alert times she yells and makes various talking noises when I have her touch or look at new things. She really likes being outside which is a bonus for me and a great thing for the timing of her birth. And I care a lot less where I am if she’s hungry, though it’s still a big challenge in Boston’s cultural atmosphere.

We also have fun practice crawling. We do this nearly every day for a while. Lyra is one her stomach on the floor and I try to coax her toward me. She can actually move inches with her legs while dragging her poor elfin nose along the floor. She has some serious willpower, and it is punctuated by the funniest yells and coos. As soon as she knows her arms are attached to her though I'll be doomed. She has places to go, fast!

Also what has made things so much better is that I am doing this with a partner who is trying to be as equal as possible in parenting. He’s being a seriously real parent, not a couple hours a night kind of guy, and I can’t really imagine doing it any other way. I think I would have rather tragically lost it by now.

I don’t know if it’s just my personality or the fact that I’m older than many parents and have a very established life that I’m altering, but I just don’t know if I could have switched into sudden parenthood with anyone who didn’t dive into it with me. I just don’t have the support system or possibly the desire for it that some Super Mommies have. I don’t think my way is better. I’d love to have that ability. However, I have to have time to take care of myself, and for me that might be a bit more than a long shower or a nap. I need to be creating or even indulging in what other might think of as Type A behavior, in order to be myself and be the best I can for the boo.

The part that is exceptional? She's really radiant when she smiles. Whether it is one of us or a shadow on the wall that is the beneficiary of her glow, it is pure and hugely joyful and looks like she just got told the funniest joke ever and it was such a nice surprise while being served exceptionally scrumptious food with the most fun playmates surrounding her. And at those moments, and whenever we think of them, we can truly believe we must have done something really right.

Today I am grateful the weather has gotten cooler. When Lyra is attached to me in a front pack part of the day, I get more done and she is less fussy later. And there’s the dancing. There’s no way we were doing that in the high heat of this week. And by the way, is there some reason front packs don’t have pockets on them? Maybe it’s just my model.

What do you think here: If you see a perfect stranger who is a dad pushing a stroller or changing a diaper, you might go out of your way to tell them what a good dad they are. What is your criteria for telling a woman they are a good mom?

I think about this a lot when people compliment glenn (not because he isn’t, but because I never hear it and am of course jealous) but I was considering it more one day last week as I was walking down the street in a nearby town with the wee beastie snoozing in the front pack and a diaper bag on my back. I was feeling pretty solid and up for anything even tough like with all the gear strapped on maybe I should be wearing combat boots. An older man just looked at me and chuckled and said “good luck!” Um…thanks?



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