Thursday, May 31, 2012

Carter4

Four generations of Carter men. It's not everyone who gets a picture like this, so we realize how special it is.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

paranoia

My first parental panic attack happened yesterday. It occurred concurrently with Steve's. And I provoked it. For no reason. It all started with this: 
I was taking my daily pictures of Brandon. Then I flipped through "review" mode to see how they looked pre-edits. That's when I noticed a gigantic bruise on the side of Brandon's left eye. I looked closer - there was also one on the side of his right eye! How the hell had he been bruised under my care without my knowledge? I showed Steve, and we immediately began freaking out together. We stared at the discoloration on his head and I recounted my day in a frenzy, trying to think of anything that could have caused these bruises.
 
I thought back to earlier in the day - had the bruises been there then? I had pictures from earlier which I quickly scrolled back to. It was there, too! So he definitely had the bruises at 5:30 pm. But that bruise looked lighter. "Wait..." I said to Steve. "Turn on the light." And like that, the bruises vanished. It was just an shadow that my shitty camera captured with exaggerated detail. You see, the week we brought Brandon home I plugged my new camera into my old camera's USB cable in my sleep-deprived state and destroyed my new camera. So for the past seven weeks I've been using my old, shitty camera. My old camera whose flash places bruises on babies' heads. And frantic scares into parents' heads.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

traditions

 
One of the (few) exciting things about being an adult is being able to make your own traditions. You can carry on some from your parents - the ones you liked (not the pecan pies at Thanksgiving), then add your own as well once you have your own family. I don't have many traditions yet. I didn't have a family to start them for. But now, I do. And now I realize there were a few traditions that I already had that I will continue with my family.
Like every Memorial Day weekend - I go to Half Price books. They have an additional 20% off everything all weekend long. It's amazing. If Steve didn't accompany me, I would be there from open to close. This year, Steve and Brandon both came with me. And we only looked at one section - children's books. I bought 38 books for $56. Some of them Brandon won't enjoy for years to come but I always go overboard at book stores.
And when he finally runs through all the books we bought him today, another Memorial Day will be right around the corner when we will buy him any books he wants. It might sound like a tradition for nerds, and I admit, it is. But I'll make sure to add some traditions that normal, socially-accepted people can enjoy, too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thankful to live after Y2K

How did moms ever survive before the internet? How did they know how to raise a child without being able to type their question into Google? In the past seven weeks I have Googled a litany of stupid baby questions. Without mom forums and message boards and Youtube how to videos, I wouldn't have a clue what I'm doing. My confidence in parenting comes only after I read on the internet about another mom who does the same thing. What did my  mom do? Leaf frantically through a baby book? Pack us up and drive to the library? You must have had to have friends two decades ago. Luckily for me, you don't need friends anymore.
There is a reason I was born in a time period with the internet and epidurals and electricity and disposable diapers. I couldn't be a mother in any other era. It simply wouldn't happen. I can't picture myself dealing with a screaming baby in a horse and buggy. I already think every block is a mile when Brandon is screaming in my car. I remember mom had cloth diapers for us. I can't imagine myself scraping those off and washing them. I'm just not that dedicated. I would probably just turn them inside out. Hard to be lazy in the olden days. That's why my baby was born in 2012.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

making it work

 
This weekend, I was able to do the things I used to do before I had a baby. I read, I did a puzzle. I took a bath. I got my hair done. I went to dinner and a movie with Steve, courtesy of his parents watching Brandon for us. We went grocery shopping together with Brandon. We went on a walk with him.
This weekend I was able to incorporate Brandon into my life, rather than my life revolving around him. He's a bit older now and becoming more predictable as he settles into routine slowly.  I like this stage. It's a lot easier than four weeks ago was.
This weekend, having Brandon as a part of our lives rather than dictating them felt great. I think I can get used to this parenting thing if he keeps this up. I know there will be days when this isn't the case. But the fact that there can be days when it is makes me smile. I feel like myself again. Not just a frazzled, unorganized and unbathed parent. I feel like myself and a parent. Myself as a parent.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

damn dentist (because "dental dam" didn't seem appropriate)

I never understood why people couldn't stand going to the dentist. I actually liked going to the dentist - that clean teeth feeling is hard to beat. I didn't have a cavity until adulthood and always was just there for routine cleanings. Until yesterday. Yesterday the dentist cut my gums off of my two bottom wisdom teeth. I could actually hear the snipping. It was pure agony. They offered me some music to listen to so I couldn't hear the noise, so I gratefully took the Walkman and clenched it with white knuckles until the procedure was over.

I had to close my eyes, too. Seeing these sharp instruments that were entering my mouth was terrible. Also, the dentist had put some sunglasses on me to shield the blinding light, and the sunglasses were filthy. I couldn't look through those spotted lenses without thinking about how filthy they were. I hate filth. I once spent a New Year's Eve by myself because I was so disgusted by my socks sticking to someone's carpet that I had to get out of there immediately.

The worst part is the aftermath - not being able to eat. I love to eat. Unfortunately, I can barely open my mouth. I'm also not allowed to suck through a straw, either, so my options are pretty limited. I'm starving. And I can barely even brush my teeth. I tried last night and blood came out. I haven't even tried yet today. I have stitches in until next week, so I will be starving until then. Dear God, I'm sorry for everyone who comes in contact with me before then. I'm going to be even bitchier than usual.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ill-fitting

It might have been a little overly-ambitious of me to go clothes shopping six weeks after giving birth. Maternity pants are too loose and regular pants are too tight, so I figured I'd pick up a few items for myself. I didn't anticipate the dressing rooms. I hate trying clothes on. I abhor it. But I have one of those bodies where you can't just grab your size off the rack and know it will fit. I'm too curvy for that. I wish it worked that way. And now that my body has changed yet again from a baby, I had to see what size pants to get anyway.

The answer wasn't pleasant. Let's just say for the first time in my life if I were to buy pants that I could actually snap closed, they would be a double digit size. Yikes. The news depressed me so I stopped shopping for myself and started shopping for baby clothes. Clothes I didn't have to try on and would certainly look good on Brandon. I texted my friend that shopping had depressed me so I had turned to baby clothes and she told me she does the same thing. Her exact text was, "I may have ratty crappy ill-fitting sloppy clothes, but my baby looks damn good." It made me feel a little better.

A cake n' shake from the Coldstone right next to me would have made me feel a lot better, but I realized that wasn't going to help anything. I'm emotionally eating now. If I don't change that I'll be in the double digits forever. For now, I'm still in the postpartum grace period for looking this way. But how long can I get away with that? I need to have some clothes to wear to work in six weeks, because I don't think my ratty green sweat pants are in our dress code. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

junior accountant

Brandon went to dad's work today. He dressed in his accountant finest. Of course we'd love for him to be a pro football player, but I'm a realist. He's the son of an Accounting Manager and an Unemployment Specialist. I am fully expecting him to end up a corporate lackey with the rest of us.
He's smiling now. It's hard to catch on film, but here's the tail end of one. Just six more weeks at home with this little one. Hard to believe my leave is halfway over. Brandon has grown so much in these six weeks. They seem rather uneventful, but between these diaper changings and feedings he has grown and developed into this beautiful, balding, gassy, smiling baby that I love to cuddle with.
 
My boss told me that every stage your child is currently in is the best stage. That must be true because although I claimed to want to give birth to a three-year-old originally, I fell in love with this tiny baby. And I will love him when he's three and think he's the greatest then, too. And every stage before, between, and after.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

driving miss daisy

 
 I used to think those drivers you get behind who are going 20 mph under the speed limit were all high. I thought they all smoked a bong full of weed and were super-paranoid so they were driving like blue hairs. But yesterday I realized that some of them aren't high, they're first-time mothers. I was driving to Scooters with Brandon in his seat in the back, watching the rear view mirror like a hawk to make sure his head didn't roll. Then a honk returned me to the road and I looked to see the honker - a powder blue Cadillac. Nothing says "senior citizen" like a powder blue Cadillac.
I made them miss the green light while I barely made it. Then, two lights later, I realize some vehicle is riding my ass. That vehicle happens to be a semi. A truck carrying up to 80,000 lbs that can barely make a turn thinks I'm going too slow. So maybe I am a little overly-cautious. But I've got precious cargo on board, damn it! All of a sudden, the day you have a baby, nothing else matters but him. Sorry, the rest of the world. I don't give a damn about you anymore.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

bald is not beautiful

Brandon is balding! 
Before (3 weeks)
After (5 weeks) 

If you know about my shallowness pickiness with men in the past, you know my three bugaboos:

1. Short
2. Red hair
3. Bald or balding

I would never date a man with any of those three characteristics. Could my own son end up with all three to spite me for not giving some decent men a chance in the past? So far he's not short by any means, but he's only five weeks old. Now that his hair is falling out, that means his new hair will come in soon. What if it's red? I hear red hair and blond hair share the same gene.

People who say "bald is beautiful" don't have hair. Bald is Mr. Clean. Hair is beautiful. So is height. C'mon, cosmos - you wouldn't play that kind of joke on me, would you?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

that parent

 Before becoming a parent, I vowed to not become one of those parents who only talks about her kid. Seriously, as a non-parent, it's annoying. Parents might find the fact that their kid pooped interesting, but non-parents don't. Nor did I care to hear what "cute thing" the kid said or what drawer she got into or how close she came to the stairs before you caught her. Don't. Care.  I would be different: I would still be myself, just with a child attached to me, as if he is an accessory you bring along with you into your non-parent life. Little did I know that he is a life-changer.

She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along. ~Margaret Culkin Banning

My life revolves around Brandon. He is completely dependent on me for everything he needs, so I must always be at his beck and call. He is not an accessory you grab on your way out the door. In fact, I'm not going out the door at all unless a tornado is headed right at me or something equally important for me to even consider it. Hefting this kid around with his diaper bag and risking him screaming in public non-stop is enough to coop up even me. I miss Scooters coffee. I miss fresh air. I have major cabin fever.

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

These past five weeks, Brandon has dominated my conversations, my blog posts, my thoughts. I have noticed in five weeks I have quickly become that parent. I don't think there's any other type. I don't think you can become a parent without changing from who you were. Because you have a new role to add to your old ones. And this isn't like your job where you're just doing it forty hours a week. Being a parent is constant. I am changed forever. I'm not saying I won't go out for drinks ever again or tell dirty jokes or swear excessively. I will still do all those things. As soon as I can get a babysitter. Just know, that if you're meeting me for drinks, I will talk about my kid. And you will hate it. You won't care at all. But someday, when you're a parent, you'll get it.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

whole mother

If you were a reader of my blog last year, you probably remember how I feel about Mother's Day. It's always been a difficult day, because to me, being a mother is raising a child, not giving birth to one. It's as if I was half a mother - genetically, I was, but in practice, I wasn't.
But this year Mother's Day has a whole new meaning for me - because this year, I am a whole mother. I have a whole new knowledge all the other emotions that come along with being a mother in practice - the joy, the worry, the frustration. I have a whole new realization of all the work that accompanies motherhood - dealing with the screaming (like now), the sleeplessness, the monotony. I have a whole new gratitude for my own mother, for Steve's mother, and for all the other mothers I know.
And I have a whole new purpose to add to my life and a sense of pride in the fact that I, like millions of other women, am a mother. A provider, a caregiver, and the first woman this little boy will ever love.

There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.  ~Robert Brault

Saturday, May 5, 2012

honey i blew up the kid

Brandon is a month old. I wanted to weigh him so I could log his growth month by month in his baby book. Yes, I am keeping a baby book. I didn't think myself to be the kind of mom who would save hospital bracelets and locks of hair, but my sister bought me this adorable baby book and I wanted to fill every space in completely as instructed. Steve saved Brandon's umbilical cord stump and a booger the second week, joking that it would go in Brandon's baby book - both items repulsed me; I do draw the line somewhere.
 
 So Steve stepped on the scale, stepped off, then stepped on again with Brandon. He weighs 12.2 lbs. He is big enough to wear size 2 diapers now. Then we measured him - he is 24 inches: two feet tall already! He's only a month old. So I looked up his stats online to see how he was growing. He's in the 95th percentile for height. Are we raising a giant over here? Maybe we should have named him Gulliver. Oh wait, that name sucks. Brandon's doesn't. I don't care if he is a giant or a little person or a regular Joe. We love this cute kid regardless.
But I am a bit anxious to see what his two month milestone has in store for us. I'm afraid we might be in a new size of clothes by then. Already his one-piece sleep n' plays with the feet are becoming pretty stretched by the time they make it to his neck.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

snobs about jobs

I was talking to my brother the other day about work. About how so many people quit their jobs because they don't feel fulfilled or aren't completely happy. Or how some people won't accept a job even though they have bills to pay because they think it's beneath them or it isn't their ideal job. I used to be one of those people. I have had some pretty short stints with some past employers. I was young and thought that every injustice in the workplace was reason enough to quit. Like my skills would be better utilized elsewhere. Like they were lucky to have me, not that I was lucky to have a job. I wasn't grateful for the job I had, but I felt like my employer should be grateful to have me. I have quit because I didn't feel fulfilled or appreciated.

I'm nearly 30 now, and I've grown up a little. Sure, it would be nice if everyone could do their hobby and get paid for it - if everyone could get paid for living their own dream. But the fact is, we can't all be singers and dancers and actors and writers. There have to be people to answer phones and vacuum floors and snake drains and repair potholes. Sometimes the job you have is a job - not your dream. And maybe that's OK. Maybe that's what jobs are meant to be - a means to live, not your life itself.

Some of us have jobs that we go to each day that we are OK with. It doesn't fulfill us, it doesn't define us, but what it does do is fund the part of our lives that does. It might not be what fulfills us, but that's what the rest of our lives are for - the hours after 5pm and before 8am. It's the time you spend with your family at home, the vacations you go on, the hobbies you do in your spare time. Those could be the things that fulfill you rather than the title on your business card.

And sure, it would be great if our careers and dreams could collide into the perfect job so that you feel fulfilled and happy all the time. Maybe you will have that one day. Maybe this job is just a stepping stone on your way there. But even if you never get paid for your hobby, know that you can do your hobby on your own time and feel happy then, thanks to the paycheck you're getting from the job you currently have. We can't all get paid for doing what we love, but we can still live our dreams. I'm not saying to give up on it, I'm just saying maybe we should find a job that we don't hate and ride that out until a job comes along that we really love. And if a job like that never comes along, do what you love after hours. You can still be happy and fulfilled even if you are answering phones or emptying trash. We just have to quit being such snobs about working.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

shit happens

It's amazing how disgusting you become as a parent. Seriously - four weeks into it and I already repulse my previous, non-parent self. Today I was driving to the dentist and I saw poop on my fingers (Brandon's poop, I might want to clarify). As a non-parent, I would have immediately found a sink and cleaned it off. But what did this parent do? Wiped it on my pants. Like that is so much better. Now I have poop on my pants and under my fingernails.
Before I was a parent, I thought it was disgusting when parents would smell their child's ass to see if they needed to change their diaper. Now I find myself doing it multiple times a day. I don't want to take off all his clothes just to realize I didn't need to change his diaper after all. I'm an ass-smelling, poop-covered mommy.
And you would think this would disgust me, but because I'm a parent now, it doesn't. Instead of being unsanitary, it's more like a fact of life. Shit happens. I get the saying now. Shit does happen - and when it does, you can either freak out and detour to a convenience store, or you can just wipe it on your pants and keep on driving.