Month 19: Doing My Duty

As if there wasn’t enough going on around here (sick kid, work, holidays), I got called for jury duty this week. Super.

Somehow, I’ve managed to escape this dreaded civic obligation for 33 years. I got called last year, but since I’d just had a baby and was breastfeeding, I got out of it. Though I did have to send proof. (No, not a bag of breastmilk, just a birth certificate!)

This time, though, no such luck. Jury duty sucks under any circumstances, but for a self-employed SAHM, it sucks worse. First, I had to navigate rush hour traffic to get downtown by the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. PIA, people.

To add insult to injury, I had to pay $10 to park (that’s after the $2 jurors’ discount) and $7 for lunch — and that’s on top of what I had to pay a sitter since C. couldn’t take a full day off work. For doing my civic duty, I got paid a whopping $15. Let’s do the math: that means it COST ME $42!! Is it just me, or is the system flawed?

Maybe I wouldn’t have minded so much if I felt like I was actually serving some useful purpose. But, no, 90% of the day was spent sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a depressing room that smelled like mothballs and industrial cleaner. Thank god they had a “quiet room” or I would’ve been stuck listening to Muzak on top of it.

After two hours of this (With no breakfast, I might add, since I busted my butt to get ready and get there on time. Would it kill them to provide bagels and coffee??) a group of us got called. We traipsed down to some other old, depressing building a block away. But, hey, it had to be more exciting than counting water stains on the ceiling, right? Wrong. It wasn’t even a criminal case, just a boring old worker’s comp case. Anyway, I didn’t get picked for that jury, thank goodness.

So it was back to the holding pen for 4 ½ more hours. When I got home, C. asked if being away from Miles all day was a nice “break.” As if! I spent the day avoiding eye contact with badly dressed strangers, not getting a pedicure!!

Still, my day did have one bright spot. I got a whole hour- and-15-minute lunch break. I got to sit down and eat an entire meal that featured a main course, salad, and a beverage. And I didn’t have to sweep the floor or do the dishes afterward. That’s something any mom would kill for!

LAUGH O’ THE WEEK: When I went in to get Miles this morning, this is what I found. Rockin’ the one-shouldered PJ’s! Don’t ask me how he managed this one.


Month 18: Milesisms

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m happy to report that Miles is feeling much better. He still has a hacking cough that makes him sound like he’s got a nasty cigarette habit, but otherwise he’s showing signs of bouncing back to his old self. And that makes me thankful this Thanksgiving.

Instead of a long, boring, predictable list of what else I’m thankful for this year (health, family, caffeine, Tivo, blah, blah… ) I am going to treat you all to a list of my favorite Milesisms — the funny little things that make my son the quirky little guy he is.

1. Here’s lookin’ at you. When he was younger, we’d show him a mirror or a picture of himself and ask him who it was and he’d say, “You!” Probably because we’d always point to pictures and say, “Look, buddy, that’s you.” Now he says “My-uhls” in this super cute voice. Only it could be a picture of a friend’s kid, his cousin, or any random baby and he still says it’s him.

2. Word scramble. I’ve mentioned before how he gets certain words mixed up (like “towel” and “owl”) and invents words for things he can’t pronounce (like “cuppy” for “pumpkin”). Once, C. asked Miles to go get the dog’s leash and he came back with a leaf. (It tells you something about my housekeeping habits that I have stray bits of nature lying around.)

The latest confusion is between the words “open” and “oatmeal.” So Miles now comes up to me several times a day with markers and Playdoh containers and begs me to “o-meal” them.

3. Yay for me! We could all learn a lesson from Miles about self-appreciation. When he completes a task — say, balancing a block on top of another, or putting his books back where they go — he claps for himself. Then again, he also clapped when I gave him some chocolate milk as a bribe to stay in the stroller while I ran errands. But, hey, chocolate IS worth applauding, isn’t it?

I’m trying positive reinforcement in an effort to expand my vocabulary from “no,” “stop,” and “don’t.” So I’ll say things like, “What a good boy for drinking your milk” and “Good boy for helping Mama pick up the toys.” Now, when Miles does something good, like remembering not to stick his finger in the dog’s eye, he will tell HIMSELF he’s a “buh-boy.”

4. Is there an echo in here? He now repeats EVERYTHING. Which can be good and bad, of course. Today it’s good, though, because we taught him how to make a turkey noise. Gobble, gobble, everyone!

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Write down and/or videotape the funny things your baby says. You think you will remember them, but you won’t! I WISH I had recorded the way Miles first said “snack,” which involved scrunching up his whole face like he’d just sucked a lemon. Now he says it normally, dammit. 🙁


Month 18: Poor Baby

Miles is sick. Gunk is running from his eyes, nose, and mouth, he’s got a low-grade fever and a hacking cough. Worse, he’s not acting like himself at all. Eyes at half mast, he wimpers and lays his head down on the couch. Uninterested in food, he grumpily pushes away whatever he’s offered. (Except for a few bites of banana this morning, which he chewed up and then deposited onto the carpet.)

It’s awful to see your baby sick. We’ve been lucky. Aside from one ear infection, Miles hasn’t been really sick in his whole 17 ½ months of life. Then this weekend, practically overnight, he got hit with this hideous cold.

And what can we do for him? Nothing. Forget saline drops or that suction-bulb thingie. He won’t even let me within a foot of his nose with a Kleenex. You’d think I was coming at him with sandpaper and rubbing alcohol.

He won’t tolerate hot baths. He climbs in eagerly, like he always does, only to lose interest in his tub crayons and rubber duckie within minutes and cry to get out. Soooo not like him.

We tried the trick of tilting the crib mattress by stuffing pillows under it, so that his head would be elevated and wouldn’t get clogged with phlegm. But Miles moves around like crazy in his sleep. When I went to check on him, his head was jammed into the lower corner of the crib — a virtual funnel of phlegm. So much for that.

The only things we can do are run a humidifier in his room and force fluids on him. Milk is out since it seems to triple his phlegm production within minutes. So we’re left with water and watered-down juice. (Yes, I broke my pediatrician’s cardinal rule and gave him juice before age 3. What kind of world do we live in where juice is considered tantamount to crack for babies? I get it. Sugar = cavities, empty calories, childhood obesity — but come on, it’s Juicy Juice, not a jumbo Mountain Dew Slurpee!!)

Thank goodness Miles got sick on the weekend when Dad’s here for backup. I realized how fragile our little childcare set-up is. When your kid’s sick, guess what? You can’t take him to the sitter, lest he infect the other kids. In fact, you can’t take him anywhere, really. You’re stuck at home with a baby who’s miserable and won’t sleep unless he’s on your lap.

So what happens when your baby’s sick and you’ve got 1) work deadlines, 2) jury duty, and 3) relatives visiting from out of town? (I WISH I were making this scenario up.) And you can’t call in Grandma for backup because she’s 6 states away? And Dad can’t stay home from work because it’s his busiest time of the year? You’re SOL, my friend.

Ah, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to … achieve a balanced life? Whatever. Things will work out like they always do. I just want my healthy, happy little boy back. If I can have that, I promise not to complain about his endless energy and appetite for annoying Elmo songs. At least for a few days.

READ O’ THE WEEK: OK, so it’s not a BOOK book, but Desperation Dinners is one of my all-time most favorite cookbooks in the world that I turn to again and again for fast, healthy meals. Last night C. made a vegetarian version of the Shepherd’s Pie. SO yummy! Hopefully it will nurse us back to health.


Month 18: High-Impact Parenting

This kid is kicking my ass, people. I’m not proud to admit that I’ve met my match in a person barely taller than a coffee table. But there you have it. Between his boundless energy, increasingly stubborn nature, and filthy table manners, Miles is running me ragged. Thank GOD he’s a good sleeper (now that we’ve adjusted to daylight savings time) or I may have hurled myself off a bridge by now.

This morning I woke up with my lower back seized up like the computer after Miles has been pounding out a symphony on the keyboard. I could not move for several minutes. Creaking and groaning, I finally hoisted myself out of bed. Common sense would say to take it easy, right? Not an option in my world.

If you’ve ever wondered how many times a mom bends down in the course of a day, the answer is 8 trillion. We bend down to pick up last night’s bath towel next to the tub, to replace the liner in the diaper pail, to wipe up congealed lumps of breakfast, lunch, and dinner off the floor, to untangle the dog’s leash from the stroller wheels, etc.

That’s BESIDES all the times we bend down to pick up the child — off the dressing room floor at Target, out of the bulk candy bin at the supermarket, off of the dog, and out of the crib, stroller, car seat, and bathtub.

And did I tell you about the time I literally had to tackle Miles to keep him from sprinting into the stock room at Old Navy? (Note to self: get a shopping cart with a WORKING seat belt next time!!) I’m actually shocked my back still works at all.

I got a massage over the weekend. The goal was relaxation. Except the muscles in my shoulders and back were all knotted up like macrame, requiring the massage therapist to use excessive amounts of force and manipulation to unknot them. About as relaxing as a third-degree sunburn, people.

This parenthood stuff is grueling on the body, there’s no doubt. Let’s see, there’s the accidental face scratches, the not-accidental hair-pulling, the bruises from being hit by flying balls. (YOU try explaining to a toddler that it’s OK to throw a foam ball but not a golf ball.)

Now I really understand all those articles in women’s magazines about the importance of taking care of yourself. I haven’t been to the doctor since Miles was born because I can’t be bothered to tack that on top of all his check-ups. I eat like crap because I spend mealtimes making sure he’s eating well. And this is the first massage I’ve had since, I don’t know, forever ago?

I guess my current back pain is my body’s way of saying, “HELLO?! Remember me??” And as I bend down to pick up stale Cheerios, tiny sneakers, and the stray Elmo truck, I do remember it, over and over.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Ms.MindBody has some great self-care tips, like how to make quick, healthy snacks and how to build downtime into your day. Good luck with that. 🙂


Month 18: Isn’t It Romantic?

This may come as a shock to you, but … I’m not Heidi Klum. “WHAT?!” you’re probably thinking. “You’re not the internationally famous German supermodel, host of ‘Project Runway,’ and mother of three married to the sexy recording artist Seal?!” I know. Sorry to disappoint. (What, like Heidi has time to blog??)

But just how much I am NOT Heidi Klum was driven home to me one day while watching Oprah. See, the show was about “Power Couples” and what it’s like to live their fabulous lives. Normally, I would have shut off the TV in disgust (or is it envy?), except I was intrigued by Seal’s quite appealing accent. Something he said really made an impact on me. He said that Heidi is his best friend and that despite their having three kids and wildly successful careers, he makes it a point to always put her first. In fact, Seal had a little saying: “Happy wife, happy life.”

Can I get that on a bumper sticker? Better yet, can my HUSBAND get that on a bumper sticker? ‘Cause I don’t think he got that memo. OK, that’s not fair. C. is a very sweet guy. He pulled off a super romantic surprise proposal back in the day. Not quite as over-the-top as Seal’s proposal to Heidi, which reportedly involved him BUILDING AN IGLOO, strewing it with rose petals, and secretly whisking his bride-to-be there in a helicopter!! That would make any normal guy seem like an unimaginative slug in comparison.

But I don’t even care about the igloo or the rose petals or the 10-carat (!!) canary yellow diamond engagement ring. It’s the “putting my wife first” part I like. I don’t think C. and I have put each other first since the baby was born. Our list of priorities looks something like this:

1. Miles
2. C.’s job
3. My job
4. Home repairs
5. Us

It’s not that we don’t value each other and our relationship, it’s just that life always seems to get in the way. Some days I see my husband only in 20-min. increments: before he goes to work, during the post-work hand-off before I go to the gym or to run errands, and after Miles goes to bed and before I do. (C. likes to stay up late.)

We plan the occasional date night, but when it comes to shelling out hard-earned money on dinner and a sitter or on a much-needed home repair, the house usually wins. (For instance, last weekend C. had to fix the bathroom sink because Miles has now figured out how to throw things down the drain.) And when it comes to spending time alone together or sleeping, sleep usually wins. Whoever said early parenthood wasn’t romantic, huh?

I don’t usually spend much time worrying about it, though. Probably because my time is spent prying sharp objects out of a small person’s hands and fishing toothbrushes out of sink drains. But when I see beautiful people like Heidi Klum and Seal holding hands and beaming about how romantic their life is, even with small kids at home … then I start to think I’m missing out. Of course, it’s easy to be spontaneous and romantic when you’ve got nannies on call 24/7, right? Heck, Oprah probably babysits for them herself!

Besides, when it comes right down to it, I’d take a foot rub over a rose-petal-strewn igloo anyday. Hear that, sweetie?

TIP O’ THE WEEK: How about, don’t compare yourself to fabulously wealthy celebrities. Be grateful for the life you’ve got, which hopefully doesn’t include paparazzi jumping out of bushes when you walk outside in your robe to get the paper. 😉

SHOUT-OUT: To me, since this is my 100th post!


Month 18: Sleeping Like a Baby

So are you all enjoying the effects of daylight savings time like I am? Miles woke up at 5:30 a.m. yesterday. It was dark and cold and there was nothing on TV except infomercials. Also, we were out of coffee. Fun! As one mom at the playground this morning put it, the person who came up with daylight savings time clearly did not have kids.

Which leads me to my topic of the day: sleep. Or the lack thereof. Who’s getting it, who’s not, when, where, and how often becomes a HUGE topic when you’re a parent. When Miles was born, I was devastated to discover that I, a lifelong champion nighttime sleeper, was not capable of napping during the day. So during my many, many waking hours, I would chart his sleep habits in a little notebook. I think I was hoping for a predictable pattern. Or maybe I was just insane from lack of sleep.

Anyway, charts and graphs made no damn difference. He still will take a random three-hour nap one day for no apparent reason, and the next day — even though he got up at 5 a.m. – he’ll only sleep for an hour. I would have been better off spending my time thinking up entries for my Sleep Glossary. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Sleep debt: When your spouse owes you a period of uninterrupted sleep in exchange for you getting up with the baby in the middle of the night.

Sleep fib: 1) When you lie to other people about how long your baby’s been sleeping through the night (Note: It doesn’t make you seem like a better parent, it just makes other, more sleep-deprived parents want to kill you.); 2) When you pretend you’re sleeping so your spouse has to go tend to the baby.

Sleep peep: When you or your over-anxious mother wants to go into the sleeping baby’s room “just to check on him.” Don’t do it. Leave well enough alone.

Sleep situation: When the baby falls asleep in the car and you can’t decide whether to risk transferring him to the crib or stay in the car until he wakes up.

Sleep slut: Someone who will sleep anytime, anywhere they get the chance — even if it means skipping church, sleeping on a bed with no sheets, or sleeping in when it’s their spouse’s turn.

Sleep splurge: When you sleep for obscene lengths of time when someone else is taking care of the baby.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Anybody got one? We tried gradually pushing back Miles’ bedtime over a few days before the clocks changed, and you can see how that worked out for us. I dread the day we take a trip across time zones.

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