Month 14: Celeb Obsessed

Those who know me know that I’m a teensy bit obsessed with celebrities. OK, more than a teensy bit. Like, if you asked which celebrity named their son Homer, I could tell you. (Anne Heche) If you wanted to know which actress Brad Pitt dated early in his career, I could tell you. (Juliette Lewis) Thanks to my Access Hollywood, TMZ, and US Weekly habits, I know more about celebrities I don’t even like than I do about my own brother.

It’s not something I’m proud of. In fact, I try to downplay my celeb-obsession whenever possible. I don’t subscribe to any of the tabloids, I just read them surreptitiously at the gym and the checkout counter. I don’t follow celebrity blogs or have their fan pages bookmarked or anything. I’m in no danger of veering into stalker territory. Even if I do occasionally have imaginary conversations with certain celebrities. What? That’s normal, right? 😉

Take Jennifer Garner, for instance. I think we could be pals. She seems pretty cool and down to earth. I think Violet and Miles could have some fun times at the playground together. Jen and I could talk about when and how to break the pacifier habit, and about our husbands’ Red Sox fixation.

I’d probably be too intimidated to talk to Angelina Jolie if I saw her, though I’m dying to know how she carries around at least two kids at all times, one in each skinny arm. I just about die carrying Miles from the car to the house. I think I could muster up the courage to talk to Brad Pitt, though. I’d casually wheel my stroller over and comment on Shiloh’s Black Sabbath T-shirt. I might even ask him whether the kids’ wardrobes are his doing or Angie’s. I’m all for hip kids’ clothes, but black? On a baby?

Julia Roberts is a crunchy mom, so I’m sure she’d be happy to weigh in on the best baby slings and organic applesauce. I bet she even makes her own. Katie Holmes would just annoy me. I’m sure she’s one of those moms who wears heels to the playground and refuses to admit her child’s not sleeping through the night.

Courtney Cox seems too type-A for my taste, the kind who wouldn’t let her daughter eat anything if she came to play at our house and would disinfect all Coco’s toys the minute they got home. Reese Witherspoon could be a little like that, too, but she does let her kids have soda and ice cream, so maybe not.

I never thought much about Brooke Shields, but I recently read her memoir on postpartum depression, Down Came the Rain, out of curiosity. Wow, did her life suck for awhile. I really felt for her, and anyone else who’s gone through such an awful time after having a baby. Just the fact that Brooke Shields couldn’t get out of bed for weeks and didn’t know who to call and felt like a terrible mom was fascinating to me.

I think my celebrity fixation has less to do with wanting their fabulous lives and wardrobes than wanting to know that behind the photo shoots and red carpets and mansions, they struggle with some of the same things the rest of us do. Parenthood is the great equalizer. Whether you wear Prada or Payless, you’re going to get spit up on. At least that’s what I tell myself to justify knowing the names of all three Beckham boys. (Romeo, Cruz, and Brooklyn)

TIP O’ THE WEEK: For more, check out the Celebrity Baby Blog. On a serious note, Fisher Price recalled a bunch of toys containing lead paint, including Elmo and Dora items.


Month 14: You Might Be a Real Mom if …

You know the difference between a burp cloth and a receiving blanket.

You actually have an opinion on diaper brands.

You get excited when you get a coupon for baby wipes in the mail.

You think nothing of sniffing your child’s butt and picking his nose.

Your clothes are stained with bodily fluids that are not your own.

You get upset when you see a small baby in the hot sun with no hat on.

Your vocabulary now includes the words “fussy,” “nummies,” and “potty.”

You are capable of carrying an infant, a stroller, a diaper bag, and a large coffee at the same time.

You discover that the water bottle you brought to the gym is actually a sippy cup.

You have ever attended religious services solely for the free childcare.

You consider a trip to the dentist your special alone time.

You decide you could never be friends with that mom at the park who’s wearing pressed white pants and heels.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Keep coupons for baby items in your diaper bag or wallet. That way you won’t get to the checkout counter and discover you left them in the kitchen drawer at home.


Month 14: Separation Anxiety

Poor Miles. He’s downstairs right now shrieking his little lungs out, as he has been ever since the babysitter arrived. Whoever thinks it’s easy to work from home doesn’t have a toddler in the throes of separation anxiety. I hope this is just a phase. For now, I am a prisoner in my home office. If I go downstairs for a drink or a snack, he’ll catch sight of me and the whole ordeal will begin again. Thank God we have a bathroom on this floor or I’d be investing in Depends.

If I’d thought ahead, I would have brought my cell phone so I could text the sitter on her phone and tell her to block Miles’ line of sight while I sneak downstairs and out the door for my haircut appointment. See what my life has come to?

To be fair, though, Miles has had a bit of a rough week. Last week, I took him to the pool for the first time. Which he LOVED, by the way. He liked the baby pool OK, but when I brought him into the big pool he screamed with laughter and splashed like a lunatic. He didn’t even mind when I dunked him underwater.

Then, later that night, he started running a fever. By the next day, he was miserable. I took him to the doctor and it turned out he had an ear infection. His first. He bounced back pretty quickly, except for this new unbreakable attachment to Mommy. He even cries when I leave him with his dad. I feel bad, but hell, I need a break sometimes.

A REAL break, not “Hey, why don’t you bring Miles to my softball game and you can watch from the sidelines while I play. It’ll be fun.” Cut to Mom prying her son’s hands off of rusty fences, other people’s keys, cigarette butts, and someone’s grubby dog for a solid hour in the 90-degree heat. Is it my fault he spilled a beer on the playbook? Was it my idea to feed him a sticky cereal bar and then let him play in the dirt? (Well, yes to the former, no to the latter. Even though that’s how C. phrased it later: “Why’d you let him play in the dirt?” Same reason I “let” him dump out the dog bowl three times a day and play with cutlery and chew on the phone charger!)

So I haven’t been to the gym all week because I’m afraid to leave Miles at childcare. We’ve been doing our Stroller Strides class in the mall since it’s so damn hot out, and because Miles can keep me in his sight the whole time. But most of my exercise lately has come from carrying around my sticky-fingered 24-lb. appendage. Nothing like some quality Mommy & me time, right?

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Next time someone suggests you bring your baby along to an adults-only activity, DON’T DO IT. The only person it will be fun for is the baby knocking over people’s drinks.


Month 14: Compare and Despair

I’m bummed today, people. I’ve fallen into that snake-pit-of-despair: comparing myself to other people. We all know we shouldn’t do it. You can’t win that game. There’s ALWAYS someone richer, prettier, more well rested, and with a better social life than you, or whose kids are better behaved and better dressed than yours. Always. But still, we do it. Why, oh why, do we torture ourselves so?

I know why I do it. (Or how I justify it to myself.) Because I spend most of my days in my house, alone but for a tiny person with limited conversational skills and limitless energy. I have no one to give me feedback on how I’m doing: “Great job on that peanut butter sandwich, Mom! Way to wipe those counters!” I have no one to bounce ideas off of: “What do you think about making our own toothpaste?” (I’ve tried calling my husband at work. He always gets a sudden important call and has to go.)

All I have to benchmark myself against are the images of moms portrayed in the media and my perceptions of the moms I know in real life. First off: Gwen Stefani? She walks around in high-fashion outfits she designs herself that coordinate with her adorable son and her equally adorable husband. Plus, she still shows off her midriff. Whereas my belly button has never recovered from being turned inside-out for months on end and will never again see the light of day. Also, I’m lucky if my son’s socks match each other, let alone the rest of his outfit. Conclusion: I suck.

Closer to home: that lady at the park who proclaims about her baby, “I just love this age. Then again, every age is a great age.” And she’s dressed in clean, stylish athletic attire that was purchased in the last decade and she has good hair. Also, no bags under her eyes and no Starbucks clutched in hand. Whereas I’m thinking, “Thank GOD my son is FINALLY sleeping through the night and I will absolutely KILL myself if he doesn’t figure out soon how to come down the stairs without splitting his face open.” Plus, I have to mainline half a pot of coffee and apply spackle to my crow’s feet before leaving the house in a 10-year-old ripped college T-shirt. Conclusion: I suck.

You know the funny thing, though? I’m sure that on a good day, someone has spied me, say, at the grocery store after I’ve left the gym on a day I managed to work out, when my son is acting especially cute, and I’ve decided to spring for organic grapes so I can go home and make a fruit salad from scratch, and that woman thinks, “Man, she really has it all. I suck.” And to her I say: it’s just your perception, sweetie. I’m a regular mom with good hair days and bad, just like you.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: The next time you’re tempted to count your shortcomings, count your blessings instead. (Yeesh, that was cheesy, huh? Sorry. I suck.)


Month 13: Grandparent Personality Types

Grandma and Grandpa. Gram and Grampy. Nana and Pop. Oma and Opa. Whatever you call them, grandparents can be a wonderful addition to your child’s life. I was lucky enough to have two sets when I was growing up.

One grandmother taught me how to do my nails and sew. It’s not her fault neither skill quite caught on with me. One grandfather tried to teach me to sail and fish. Again, never really got the hang of either. Worms? Are just gross, people. But the point is, my grandparents tried to teach me stuff that my parents either didn’t know how to do, or (more likely) didn’t have the patience or desire to try to teach me. Also, my grandparents let me eat sugary cereal.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I’ve noticed that all grandparents are not created equal. There are in fact several distinct Grandparent Personality Types. Here are a few.

First, there are the Hands-On Helpers. These are the grandparents who are right there in the trenches with you, changing diapers, getting up with baby during the night, soothing and singing to him while you take a shower. If you’re lucky enough to have this kind, treat them well. They will be the ones who babysit your kids for a week while you and your husband go on a cruise someday.

Then there are the Adore from Afar grandparents. Though equally enamored with their grandchildren, they are not quite so hands-on. They may hold the baby when asked, and will certainly coo at him, but they’ll hand him back at the first sign of a dirty diaper. These grandparents usually lavish their grandkids with kisses and gifts, but are conveniently busy when you need someone to babysit. But really, can you blame them? They raised their own damn kids and are happy to be done with that chapter of their lives.

Over in the Critics’ Corner are the grandparents who love to critique and/or comment on every parenting decision you make. Comments like “He needs a hat” or “You’re STILL breastfeeding?” or “We never worried about putting you kids in a playpen” roll off their tongues. To be fair, they probably do have the baby’s best interest at heart. But they’ll drive you nuts if you let them. Corral their criticism by putting them to work: “Show me again how you suggest swaddling the baby, Nana?”

Some grandparents are combinations of these types. Some, sadly, are nasty or not interested in their grandkids at all. So, if you’re lucky enough to have some halfway decent ones in your child’s life, be thankful. I know I am. I’m looking forward to Miles (not) learning to knit, sew, play golf, and paddle a canoe from his grandparents.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Don’t assume grandparents know how to work all those new-fangled baby gadgets. When their kids were small, highchairs didn’t have 5-point harnesses and toys didn’t speak Spanish. Be patient with them. Like when my mom handed my SIL the humidifier when she asked for the breastpump.


Month 13: All About Miles

You know, I realized I haven’t blogged about Miles much lately. It’s been all me, me, me. So today I plan to rectify that. This space is heretofore dedicated to Miles.

He’s got eight teeth and can point to them when asked. Well, technically, he points to his tongue, but close enough. We just started brushing them, even though the pediatrician’s been telling us to since the first one poked through. And before that, we were supposed to be wiping his gums or some such crap. Come on! Like new moms don’t have enough to do? Besides, baby teeth fall out eventually, anyway.

Miles loves to run around the house, climb on furniture, and scale the stairs. He’s also developing quite a repertoire of dance moves. His favorite is the knee bends, but occasionally he’ll throw in a head bob or a butt wiggle. He does the white man’s overbite, too. And no baby music for him, either. He likes The Gorillaz and Jack Johnson, especially the Curious George soundtrack.

Let’s see, then there’s his prodigious appetite. My toddler eats like a trucker. If I took him to Denny’s, he’d get the Lumberjack Slam. If we went to Bob Evans, he’d order the Sunshine Skillet. (I’m hungry, can you tell?) Too bad for him, he’s stuck with Trader Joe’s frozen fare, for the most part. The other day he ate a huge plate of chicken and broccoli, topped off with some Cheerios and banana. Then, to keep him quiet while I was on the phone, I absentmindedly fed him pieces of a waffle, only to discover when I hung up that he’d eaten the whole thing and was asking for more.

Which brings me to the next topic: his ever-expanding vocabulary. He can and does ask for more frequently, though it actually sounds like “mo, mo.” But he knows I know what he means. He’s pretty much got the B words covered at this point: ball, balloon, bubble, bottle, bye-bye. Though to be honest, he’s a little lazy with his enunciation. They all sort of sound like “buh” or “bah.” Except for balloon—that one actually sounds like a motorcycle: “brrrooon, broon!” We’re working on “frog,” but he gets hung up on the F.

It’s probably a good thing that only his dad and I can understand him, because some of Miles’ words sound dangerously like other, less socially acceptable words. As in, the four-letter kind. Combine “frog” and “duck” and you’ve got a deadly combination. Even his version of “truck” is a little questionable. My friend was trying to teach him to tell the dog to “sit” —another word with the potential for disastrous mispronunciation. He can’t quite get the L sound in “clock,” either.

So, in summary: my baby smiles (a special fake smile for photos), dances, eats like a trucker and talks like one, too. He sure is cute, though!

TIP O’ THE WEEK: I’ve heard good things about the Signing Time DVDs to teach your baby sign language. I never managed to do this with Miles, and now I figure it’s too late. Anyone know the optimal age to teach babies to sign?

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