brain drain

July 28, 2005

I am really trying to disprove Mommy Brain as a negative effect of motherhood. I believe that functioning on the less-than-recommended amount of sleep is an art. I believe that doing anything while holding your baby is a skill. I believe that all endeavours mothers undertake require multi-tasking because no matter the situation, a mother’s mind is never far from her children. And yet we manage to get dressed every day, shower some days, and perform most of the duties on our daily list.

I’m even starting my own little business; how very adult. It’s nothing that takes away from my son, rather it’s a hobby I can do during naptime … and maybe I can use the money for something cute.

All of my attempts to be “on the ball” are all fine and good and they keep me going most days. But this morning my son missed his nap because I couldn’t put him down because I had to spend 45 minutes looking for my wallet that was in the diaper bag the whole time.

Oh well, at least the laundry got moved along and the living room got tidied.

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lessons from my first night out

July 26, 2005

Last night, and much overdue, my husband and I took our first date since our son was born. We went to see “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” while our good friends babysat. As we drove to the theatre and “I’m a Little Teapot” played incessantly from the carseat I felt a little that I was playing hooky but I got over it and had a great time. These are some lessons I learned that will make next time go smoother:

– start expressing milk a day or two in advance in case the day of is a growth spurt day and he eats every two hours leaving me nothing left to express (I think I only got 1/2 ounce out)

– don’t forget to calculate the 20-minute previews into the schedule (lucky for me the babysitters had even though I hadn’t)

– no matter what time he wakes up from a nap, 8 o’clock is bedtime and he won’t deviate from that for more than an hour

– all is forgiven when we come home


Los Angeles

July 11, 2005

You know you’re in LA but not from LA when you can hear the music from the car next to you better than you can hear your own music, and you both have your windows rolled up.


sleep restored

July 8, 2005

In the beginning I was just so elated to have a baby that I didn’t mind the wakings. As far as I was concerned I could never sleep again and be fine. With each waking I awoke and entered his room with all the anticipation and thrill of an eight-year old on Christmas morning. Of course as the months wore on the fatigue did start to take it’s toll but I compensated with naps and rests in the day.

With sleep I have always let my baby call the shots. I’ve tried to encourage him that daytime is playtime and nighttime is sleeptime but I’ve never witheld a feeding in the middle of the night or let him just cry it out. Sometimes he would need multiple feedings and sometimes not as many. Usually he was consistent with his wakings and with very few exceptions I would get to him before he cried himself awake so I could get him back to sleep without much hassel.

This week we have a new sleep pattern and I am so excited! First I noticed that he was cutting down the amount he ate with each night feeding to half a feeding. This week in addition to that he has only been up for one night feeding each night, and fairly late in the morning. The singular feeding began at about 2 or 3, progressed to 4 and this morning was not until 5. I know this won’t last forever; as soon as you think you have a schedule with a baby, it changes. But I am enjoying every night I get, and I AM RESTED!


Strangers

July 7, 2005

I live in one of the most self-absorbed parts of the world. It’s not the most flattering assessment of LA but I think few people would argue the point. And that’s not to say that people aren’t nice when they do get out of themselves, it’s just that they spent most of their time focused inward.

Having a baby is a good way to get people to say hi; while he doesn’t draw everyone’s eyes he does get a lot of attention. Babies and dogs seem to be what interest the people in my neighbourhood. I think the friendly old man we see on our morning walks would probably smile and say hello even if I didn’t have a baby but no one else would likely look me in the eye sans baby. Funny enough, even the puppies seem to like my son, and he’s really starting to notice them, too. I feel like after a year of walking the neighbourhood I feel really a part of this community and it’s all thanks to my son.

I get a lot of little old lady stories, a lot more than my friends with babies seem to get. I’m sure it isn’t that I walk more, but it’s because my son is a redhead. But it’s cute and some days I really think he lights up the lives of these people.

But I’ve noticed overall that he gets more attention than other babies and the comments all seem to be superficial. He tends to ignore strangers and I tend to pull away because the attention is starting to make both of us uncomfortable. Some of the comments are just stupid, “your baby has red hair!” but most of them are benign and cliched, “he’s so cute/handsome/gorgeous!” I admit I initially enjoyed the ego boost of knowing that other people thought my baby was attractive. I’m over that and starting to wonder how it will affect him if this continues long-term.

Redheads often report that they are afraid of strangers and uncomfortable with the attention they attract with their hair. I’ve known too many beautiful people (with hair of any colour) who have drifted through life relying on their looks and not cultivating their persons. I just want my son to be treated like other children and to konw that his merits are more deep than his follicles.

The whole issue was really starting to bother me. The good news was that it had become a great reminder to me to put a hat on my son no matter how short the trip. The bad news was that I was starting to scowl and walk away from groups of people to avoid the attention. I finally asked an old friend of mine for some advice; she has a daughter somewhat older than my son who is stunningly beautiful. She agreed that the attention can be a bit much and the constant barrage of superficial comments concerned her, too. She gave me some good advice and helped me keep/regain perspective.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be totally comfortable with strangers (or that I ever was,) but I’m no longer thinking retorting to comments like, “he has red hair!” with “are you sure?” and “oh no! I grabbed the wrong baby!”


heritage

July 6, 2005

My next door neighbour, Henry, was born and raised in the United States but is of Armenian culture. He’s about my age and fully aclamated into American culture but he still maintains an amazing grasp of Armenian traditions. It seems every time I see him he shares with me another piece of Armenian culture, usually with reference to babies.

(The most recent: to make a baby grow bigger a person is supposed to scratch his bottom… I must subconsciously be doing that a lot!)

I think it’s admirable that he’s maintained his heritage and still fits into this one. It makes me wonder, with the exception of my Mum’s Nanaimo Bars recipe and all the words to “I’se the B’y”, what part of Canadian heritage can I pass on to my children?


the Long and Winding Road

July 5, 2005

I had driven that road so many times that even now when I close my eyes I can feel every curve and embankment of that 65 mile journey. It comes to me at the beginning of dreams; the dream doesn’t really begin until I’m there. The return trip rarely invades my thoughts.

I begin just outside of town, on the highway headed west. West, toward the secluded mountains. The road always begins in the fall but as I come around the corner and pass an 18-wheeler before taking exit 43 the leaves disappear and the trees shroud themselves in white.

Along Bratton’s run there is snow on the ground. The trees are very dark and I am thankful for the warmth of my car and the light it creates. There are no other vehicles on the road and were it not for the occaisional deer I would wonder if the world was dead.

It is beautiful but the winter continues on and the road continues on. We creep higher into the mountains and I grow weary. There is more snow and more wildlife. The wildlife is not a comfort: the animals dart in front of me and I don’t want to hit them. The mountain continues forever, the road forever, the winter forever. I wonder what possessed me.

As I crest Warm Springs Mountain at long last there is a glorious painting in the sky over the valley, multi-coloured itself. Is it the sunrise? the sunset? to me it’s all the same. As I come down the other side of the mountain the snow begins to melt and the birds come out. I have to slow down for a logging truck, but I’m actually relieved for the company.

How long had I been driving? Who was I when I left? I always entered this new spring dazed.

How many times had I driven that road crying? How many times had I sung? I started the drive a young girl, impressionable and ready to change the world. I ended the road much more tired, but wise, somewhat jaded but ultimately a better person. And a mother.