Friday, June 29, 2007


Lyra and I just returned from the Box Office Babies series at our favorite art house, the Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Unlike the slightly more suburban and better publicized baby-friendly movies in Arlington that were mobbed with an army of strollers outside, this movie was barely attended. There were less than ten moms and one super cranky woman who had somehow not understood she was at the Box Office Babies showing despite being told several times while getting her ticket and coming in. "This is just ridiculous," she groused. "Where can I sit where there aren't babies? This is AWFUL." I mentioned there were less than ten in the theater, right? Babies sleep. It was quieter than plenty of movies I've seen where babies would be unwelcome for sure.

Anyway, we saw the movie Once, with Glen Hansard, the guy from The Frames. I highly recommend this movie. I'd read that it was a "rock musical" and was afraid of it. However, it's really a lovely movie. The characters don't stop the story and break into a performance, it's rather a movie where the characters have happened upon each other on the street and begin literally making music together working on their songs. Through the song lyrics and especially the emotion conveyed in them you get the story. It has very much the feeling of Before Sunrise as a result, but with a screenplay that probably was one percent of the length.

When Lyra and I emerged from this movie, she was all smiles.

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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?


Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Tastes like chicken...



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More Adventures in Momdom (Momdumb?)

Yay for tiny victories. It’s 11AM and I am feeling like a successful mom. This is new, and it may fade before I am relieved later by working dad, so quick, lets celebrate it while we can.

First of all, I got a straight five hours of sleep last night, as the boo got fed by dad at 2am, when I am just not a nice, functional person. Then at the next meal time, she passed out next to me in bed and everyone slept another couple of hours. Then, dad hung out with her while I made myself a “real” breakfast. These basics of food and sleep are so ridiculously key to my self esteem, coping skills, and general mobility I can’t even express it properly.

Next, this is the first day I have carried Lyra around in a front pack. My god is it more comfortable on my back than just hauling her around the house. Plus it’s the only way I’ve ever done things around the house while hauling her around. When she won’t sleep this happens frequently, as our house has four main rooms and four flights of stairs. Every other floor has a place for her to sleep. She went to sleep so much faster in the carrier than trying to put her in the crib or bassinet. She screamed, but then I turned on the washing machine and the rushing water made everything okay.

This is novel…I’ve read my mail, thought about some earrings I’d like to make, done a little online shopping, made several phone calls, and acted like the person I relate to more easily than the completely frazzled and freaked out person I was on say, Monday.

We had a very successful traveling foray with the boo. She was easy to travel with:

There were lots of new experiences...we fed her in parking lots and changed her in rest areas and once in the hatchback:

The problem is we were more active and more awake and we drove long hours in heavy rain and fog so by Sunday night my nerves were frayed, and Monday was just a disaster with screamy baby and weepy mom. Every day is a new adventure. Yeehah.

We got to see our close friends Shannon and Jonathan get married in a nouveau native ceremony in a lovely setting near Woodstock, NY. It was mellow and had both ceremony and silliness and suited the two of them well, though so would have a bit more sunshine. There were all the fiascos that would make a traditional wedding crack apart: pouring rain that started during the outdoor ceremony, one of the rings lost in the grass (and later found), and more, but the creative and laid back friends and family present all laughed and went with the flow and ate delicious barbeque. It was fun, and I am so glad these two are together.

It was exhausting hauling around the boo in her car seat (it had mosquito netting on it) and calming her and feeding her and watching her, but we wouldn’t have missed it. We stayed in cabins with close friends as our neighbors who all got to meet Lyra, and that was super fun. It made me want to bring her up in a communal atmosphere like that. It was down the street from a rushing river where people were kayaking through gates and the sound lulled Lyra to sleep.

And did I mention how cute she is? Oops now she’s alternating head butting me and giving me neck hickeys while in the carrier. Time to visit the laundry machine again…ahh, still in success mode, whew.

So a weird observation – you know how I complained about how entirely invisible I was while pregnant? Never getting seats on the subway, one morning not being able to get on the train at all, no one meeting my glance on the street? With the bulky, awkward stroller, people peer in, people say how cute she is when they can’t even see her for the sun shade on the stroller, people help lift the stroller into crowded subway cars.

I would just like to point out that It is Much harder to walk around with a nine pound baby in your stomach than in a stroller.