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Archive for the ‘The Great Unknowable Future’ Category

Ocean.JPG

The only ship on that entire vast sea is barely a white fleck on the horizon.

Well, after all that gift discussion (after which I begrudgingly admit that even though my husband has The Exact Opposite Feelings on the topic to me, he is not the only one and maybe I should give him a break), my family visited my in-laws for spring break and I brought lots of wearable gifts my mother-in-law has bought us over the years, and she noticed and commented on ALL of it, in an affirming I’m-so-happy-you-actually-wear-that! sort of way. And I was glad.

We had SUCH a nice time over spring break, and I think the nicest part of all was that Carla was SO EASY.

She is a happy, affectionate, inquisitive child who tends toward the super-high-energy end of the energetic spectrum. Which, in the hands of her introvert, prefers-to-lie-on-the-couch-quietly-and-read-a-book-by-herself mother, can translate into exhausting. We have kept past vacations to an X-day limit because she gets bored and then the energy cranks up to 7,000 and she begins bouncing off the walls and furniture. But this year, mainly because of an incompatibility between airline ticket prices and reasonable flight times (I am NOT boarding a plane for home with my gets-more-energized-the-more-tired-she-gets toddler at eight p.m. thank you very much), we ended up staying a full week. And it was GREAT. Everything was great.

Carla was a peach of a traveler, both ways. She happily walked around the airport (with us, obviously) before our flight, looking at all the glorious toys in the many gift shops and newsstands, asking us to add a variety of items to her birthday list. She was excited about everything: the airplanes lined up outside the airport, going through security, people traveling with dogs, wearing her little penguin backpack, getting on the plane, having her own seat, plane snacks, seeing the clouds, seeing the ocean from the windows, watching Sofia appisodes over and over (she has an Amazon Fire tablet for kids that keeps her busy and happy for hours), landing, waving at friendly strangers, running full-steam to hug her grandmother when we left the concourse.

While we were in Florida, she was GREAT. She ate well, she was happy and charming. She was enthusiastic about every one of the seven million projects her grandmother had set up for her. She was happy vegging in front of the TV whenever the grown ups needed a minute. She loved the pool, the beach, the boat we took to a little island, the ocean, shells, lizards, local dogs, collecting rocks, watering the plants, pretending to drive her grandfather’s car, going to restaurants, eating ice cream. All of it. She went to bed late pretty much every night we were there, and napped maybe twice, and yet she was good natured and happy to play by herself or happy to play with a grown up, just happy in general.

Great. She was great.

So of course all of this has me thinking – maybe more concretely than usual – about babies, and how great they are, and how yes they are challenging sometimes but look! it all turns out so GREAT!

Listen: DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP. I’m just musing here. I’m just thinking idly, happily, about a topic (babies) that interests me to no end. It doesn’t mean anything.

My husband and I are 95% certain that Carla is IT. There are many many wonderful, valid, reasonable reasons to have more than one child; there are – despite those who may disagree – an equal number of wonderful, valid, reasonable reasons to have just the one. (Or none! If that’s your choice!) So we are very comfortable with that near-decision.

But it is a near-decision, not a final one. We haven’t taken any measures. We haven’t donated the large pile of baby stuff in our basement. We haven’t stopped talking about it.

It’s just that the conversations always turn to, We love having just Carla. We feel complete. We feel happy.

But…

I still think about Another Baby, every day. Carla was such a great baby, and watching her grow and learn and develop her personality has been such a complete wondrous delight; part of me feels so sad that I won’t get to experience that with another baby.

Following nearly two weeks of Carla At Her Best, it’s easy to imagine that another baby might be doable. I’m not saying I WANT another baby. I’m just saying that, before, I couldn’t picture at ALL how a tiny, needy infant would work into our family. Because Carla is a hands-on, all-hands-on-deck kid. Now, I have this glimpse of what a more mature Carla might be like: (slightly) more serene, more independent, more able to channel that immense energy into activities that don’t put her in immediate danger and leave me whirling.

Anyway, it has me thinking, five years wouldn’t be such a bad distance between two siblings.

Let us forget the fact that we were on vacation and so we were removed from our normal pattern of life… and that we were much more relaxed and less time pressured than on a normal day… and that Carla had not her normal one-most-of-the-time, sometimes-two adults but four to attend to her every whim… and that prior to spring break, I had a week-long stomach bug, which was horrendous, and Carla was just off, complaining of a tummy ache and not eating anything much at all, so by comparison OF COURSE everything is easier… and FOUR ADULTS. Let’s not take ANY of those factors into consideration when we look at how easy it has become to parent my nearly-four-year-old. Instead, let us jump headlong into LET’S THINK ABOUT MORE BABIES.

Clearly, I have become infected with some sort of tropical brain-altering disease. So let’s turn this discussion away from ME (and, as much as it may hurt to clamp your hand over your mouth, away from Why We Need Another Baby) and toward YOU and the infinitely interesting topic of baby spacing.

What, for you, is the ideal spacing between siblings? Has your opinion changed – perhaps after you experienced the spacing in real time? What is your own experience with any siblings you have – are you a good distance apart? What are the plusses and minuses?

My brother and I are six years apart. That’s a big gap in many ways; when I went off to college he was still in middle school. Six years represents a huge difference in interests and pursuits and abilities. I wouldn’t say we’ve ever been close, although we certainly love (and like) each other. As adults, we don’t talk particularly often, but we have a good time when we’re together. For (possibly false) reference, I read or heard somewhere that a six-year age difference is like having two only children, which has plusses and minuses.

A former colleague of mine has two boys five years apart. She maintains that five years is the PERFECT distance. The older child is old enough to be helpful and self-entertaining when the baby is born. You’re far enough out of the nursing/no-sleeping infant stage that it doesn’t seem as daunting anymore. The older child is in school part of the day. There won’t be two children in college at the same time. Other reasons that I didn’t pay close enough attention to at the time, because I was DONE. Am done.

Someone my husband works with said that four years is the perfect distance. That happens to be the same spacing between my husband and his sister, who have a slightly-closer-but-not-by-much relationship than I do with my brother. I don’t particularly want to ask their mother what the plusses and minuses of that spacing are(, considering her opinion is that we are HARMING Carla by not giving her a sibling; if that is your opinion as well, I kindly ask that you refrain from sharing it here). I would guess that many of the same reasons as the five-year spacing apply.

In any event, the four-year-spacing ship has sailed for us.

A woman from my long-defunct book club had three boys, one right after another. I’m sure they weren’t exactly a year apart, but it seemed that way. And she swore by that method: you get the baby stage over with all at once. It’s not super while you’re in it, but then it’s OVER. The same goes for all the rest of life’s experiences, I suppose. And all your kids are close-knit, or at least have a good chance of it.

Most of my friends are in the eighteen-months-apart to three-years-apart club. Again, for me, all that’s left of that particular ship is a tired crest of wake finally breaking against the shore.

I think, for my particular personality, and my own brand of I Am Not Cut Out to Be a Mother at All, Let Alone to Two Children, a bigger space would be better. This may be obvious, considering that I have a nearly-four-year-old and am just now getting around to moving the dial from 95% sure we are done to 93% sure. But the idea of breathing space between the stages seems attractive. (Ignoring, of course, that all kids are in stages all the time, so there would really be NO breathing room.) It’s really too bad I didn’t start much younger; an eighteen-year-old and a newborn has its appeal.

See? I must have some sort of Only In Florida parasite munching away at the reasoning centers of my brain.

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I am dreading this recap this year, for some reason. Yet I am still doing it because TRADITION. I think I may start liberally tossing questions out the window. So BE PREPARED FOR THAT.

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

Oh! And if YOU do this yearly recap, always or for the first time this year, send me a link in the comments won’t you? I love reading these.

  • What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I quit my job to write a novel. (Which I have not yet completed, BLARGH.) (Prediction: I sense that the topic of the previous parenthetical may reappear below.)

  • Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

I do think I have made solid steps on all fronts, and I attribute all progress to leaving my job at the end of March. I feel very fortunate that I have this little pocket of time during which I can be part-time novelist/part-time stay-at-home-mom. The reduction in stress has helped me be more present with my husband and daughter, and helped me really focus on contributing to my family in new ways. It has not been easy, for me, to give up on being a financial contributor. That has altered the identity I always felt I had, and it has been a challenge to adapt. But I do think I’m contributing in new and different ways, or at least contributing more in areas where I wasn’t before.

This year, I am going to finish the novel. That’s my primary goal. It’s taking so much longer than I anticipated just to eke out a first draft. I need to find some way to speed up the process. Because the first draft is only the beginning.

  • Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Did anyone close to you die?
  • What countries did you visit?

Same as last year: Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

I can’t really imagine the answers changing in a big way anytime soon.

  • What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Better ability to prioritize my time. A fully drafted novel. Making my time with Carla richer, somehow, rather than making a bunch of slipshod and ultimately frustrating attempts at “activities.”

  • What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 31, which was my last day of working in the office.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking a leap of faith and quitting my office job. (OMG, broken record much?)

  • What was your biggest failure?

Not getting enough words on the page each day! I can trot out a 7,000-word blog post of a morning, but I seem to spend hours and hours coming up with a measly 200 for my manuscript! What gives? If I can do it elsewhere, why can’t I blather and drivel my way through a first draft?

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

I am currently enjoying a bout of asthmatic bronchitis, which is super fun. Other than that, nothing too crazy.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

Scrivener!!! It is a tool for writers and I loooooooove it.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. He is a rockstar. I can’t even express all the ways he’s shown up this year without drowning my keyboard in tears, so let’s move on.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I mean do you really have to ask, non-sentient Survey created years ago with no knowledge of our current times? I think I’m going to cross this one out because it makes me sad and bewildered and fearful and shaky.

  • Where did most of your money go?

This question sucks. I really want to say something fun like “a new ski lodge in Aspen!” or “a twelve-week trek around Europe!” I guess I could say my potential earnings went toward financing my lifelong dream but that makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach so MOVING ON.

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

As with last year, I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been super over the moon about everything. And she gets stuff now. Like, she understood the little countdown-to-Christmas calendar I put in her room, and the last couple of days she switched the numbers all by herself before I even got to her room. She has been really gung-ho about Hanukkah, and has helped her dad light the menorah and say the prayers. She loved decorating the tree and every night for a week she would pick up a present that she knew was for her and squeeze it and hop up and down and say, “It’s so HARD to WAIT until Christmas to open my present!” I mean, a tree full of presents and she didn’t realize most of them were for her, and yet she got So Worked Up about this one tiny thing. She loved all the holiday books I pull out each year, and expressed interest in Santa and Baby Jesus and the Maccabees alike. She loved the stockings, and asked questions about how Santa could do such and such. She loved painting ornaments for her grandparents. She loved collecting the Amazon boxes from the front stoop and putting them in the guest room to await her grandmother’s arrival. She loved singing Christmas carols. Everything this year was just SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope we have at least a couple more years of this pure, unadulterated joy in the season. It’s a mood lifter for sure, and helps make all those I-want-them-to-be-fun-and-meaningful-but-are-really-kind-of-tedious projects seem worthwhile and enjoyable.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2016?

I have to say the Frozen soundtrack. Carla hadn’t seen a movie in her entire life until Christmas 2015, and once we started we couldn’t stop. As toddlers are wont to do, she fell in love with Frozen and we have watched it eleventy billion times. PLUS we bought the Frozen soundtrack (we call it “Carly Songs”) on CD (yes, I still use CDs in my car) and we have listened to THAT at least seventy gazillion times. Also: Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” and “Let Me Love You” by DJ Snake featuring The Beibs. “Waves” by Miguel (the Kacey Musgraves version). “One Dance” by Drake. Carla does a mean dance move to Drake, and sings along very sweetly to “Let Me Love You” and “Waves.” Also also, on the classical front, I have grown very attached to Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. I have some fantasy that I will learn to play it. (HA.)

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder? Happier but more fearful about the future, I think?
  2. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Which kind of sucks because I lost 12 pounds after I left my job. I have since gained it back. But I kind of hate this question because I just do. I am scowling at it.
  3. c) richer or poorer? I am skipping this question because math.

This is a question I don’t care to answer anymore, I think. Are these really the benchmarks by which I want to measure the year? No, no I don’t think so. MORE SCOWLING.

  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. (Always.) Submitting my work for publication. Figuring out a better time management system.

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. Yelling. Procrastinating. Writing poor-quality apocalyptic poetry. Wasting time on my phone. Feeling too hot or too cold; that’s really annoying when the house maintains a stable temperature.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, with my husband and Carla, and my husband’s parents. It was lovely and fun. Also lovely and fun was adding my sister and niece the day after Christmas, but that amped up the freneticism by several degrees. How does adding ONE additional child to the mix make things exponentially more crazy?

  • Did you fall in love in 2016?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He has been supportive of me and my dreams in a way that shatters me. I hope I make him feel even half as loved and understood and… seen as he makes me feel.

And, as we allow the tears to dry a bit, I fall newly in love with Carla with each new stage in her life. Three has been challenging, but it has also been utterly delightful as she becomes more independent and imaginative and curious and affectionate and funny and fun and inquisitive. I just adore her.

  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

What a year for TV! Standouts from the year include the OJ Simpson mini-series, The Night Of, Westward, and the Gilmore Girls revival (even though I hated GG as much as I loved it – many flaws, no?). I also loved the latest seasons of The Americans, The Great British Baking Competition, Shark Tank, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Middle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. What can I say? I like feel-good shows to balance out the gritty stuff slash real life. Oh! And two series my husband and I watched and loved that were new to us this year were Master of None and Catastrophe. God, I love TV.

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t even. This question has got to go.

  • What was the best book you read?

I READ SO MANY BOOKS THIS YEAR! Contenders for best book include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin. There have been others, but those are the standouts. For me, all had great stories with interesting, well-rounded characters, and truly beautiful language that enriched the story without getting in the way. Then sometime in November I fell into a Sue Grafton wormhole and have been reading my way through her Kinsey Millhone series (again) because it’s fun.

  • What did you want and get?

A chance to write a book. More time with my daughter. More time to exercise. More time in general, I guess. Less stress. And also this gorgeous green coat from Boden that unfortunately didn’t fit so BOO to that. My hips are not British enough, it seems. Oh! And I got the sheet music for Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, and have been painstakingly picking out the right hand notes. That’s really all I’ve managed.

  • What did you want and not get?

A finished first draft of my manuscript because I am SLOW.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Let’s see. My husband and I took a break from watching TV to watch all of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. That was fun, but I wasn’t as… enamored of the most recent (last?) film as I was of the earlier ones. (To be fair, Daniel Craig seemed less enamored of it as well.) Did I watch anything else? Of the (many) kids’ movies I’ve seen this year, Brave is my favorite, followed by Wall-E and then probably a tie between Tangled and Frozen. I did not care for Zootopia, and Robin Hood – a childhood favorite – sadly did not live up to my memory version. (Robin Hood himself is still by far the foxiest cartoon I’ve ever encountered, though. No pun intended.)

EDITED TO ADD: My husband and I watched Sicario just last night, right under the 2016 wire, and it was really well done. Dark and disturbing but a heart-thumping, thought provoking film.

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 this year, and I can’t really remember what I did. Which is a pattern at least a few years running, so I am getting rid of this question.

  • What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Same as last year: I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

Also, this year I started doing Fabletics (I joined Fabletics? I am not sure of the proper verbiage here. It’s just a subscription service in the vein of Stitch Fix. Sort of. Third cousins.), and so have added some very cute workout ensembles to my wardrobe, which means that sometimes I switch up my leggings with legging-like yoga pants. You can spot the difference because I wear tennis shoes with the yoga pants version.

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. Being able to write every day most days.

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I adore Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe. The characters they play are adorable and funny and in-your-face in a way I find charming. Sterling K. Brown. Constance Wu (her and her character as Jessica Huang on Fresh Off the Boat) because she seems fearless and take-no-prisoners and also is hilarious and beautiful and talented. Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore. Okay, so maybe these are primarily TV CHARACTERS and not necessarily the actors themselves but whatever.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. NOPE. Not even going to. CUT.

  • Who did you miss?

Same as last year, although – shocker – blogging more frequently myself has helped a teeny bit: I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  • Who was the best new person you met?

As last year, I don’t know that I met many new people this year. AM A HERMIT. Oh wait, that’s not true. I have made a couple of (tentative strides toward making) mom friends through Carla’s new school.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Write it down, don’t write it right, for the love of all that is holey.

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

(I don’t know if the following makes sense as a lyric or as the answer to this question, but it’s in my head, so I’m going with it.)

Don’t you give up, nah nah nah / Never give up, nah nah nah / Let me love you.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope 2017 goes a hell of a lot better than we fear!

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Lately, I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls reruns while I exercise (side note: watching Gilmore Girls from the Lorelai perspective rather than the Rory perspective is a WHOLE different experience) and the other day was the episode where Rory goes away to college. Which is how I ended up sobbing on the treadmill.

Because Carla’s impending entrance into pre-school is so similar to GOING AWAY TO COLLEGE.

Yes, my tiny baby begins pre-school later this month. And I am a mess A MESS about it. I know – I know – a big source of my anticipatory dread is that I have a ton of My Baby Is Growing Up FEELINGS. It’s happening so fast, you know? Before I know it, she’s going to be waving at me from her dorm room and then shutting the door.

Okay, I am tearing up again.

So let’s rapidly scoot past those and get to the more practical aspects of my fretting, which can be broken out into three categories:

I Hate Change

We have enrolled Carla in the same private school her father went to for his whole life. This is a good thing. But it means that she will be switching out of the daycare she’s been in since last November. And I am not good with change.

Last fall, when we moved her from the daycare she’d been in since she was three months old to the one she’s in now – and which turned out to be Far Better, So Much So That I Feel Regret About Not Sending Her Here From the Get Go – it was so hard. I think I flubbed it, to be honest. I didn’t really think about what a tremendous change it would be, and so I did a piss poor job of preparing Carla. And so the transition was really rough on her. AS IT WOULD BE.

So this time, my husband and I are trying to find the perfect balance between preparing Carla for this shift and freaking her out about it. But it’s going to be stressful – there’s just no way around it. No matter how old you are, new situations are stressful. Well, at least they are stressful for ME. And Carla is only three and I’m not sure exactly how much she really understands what’s going to happen.

I am having Empathy Fret for Carla about suddenly being wrenched from her teachers… and a familiar routine and surroundings… and her friends.

Plus, I love her daycare. I love her teachers. (Although Carla would, if she stayed at this daycare, switch to new teachers almost immediately, so that aspect of change is inevitable.) I like the staff a lot. I am familiar with MY part of the routine. And she is so confident and happy at this daycare. I hate that we are going to completely eliminate that source of confidence and happiness and comfort from her life.

(Side Note: One of her core teachers left at the end of July, and I almost starting crying saying goodbye to her. And then she left Carla the SWEETEST note about how even if she didn’t see Carla until she – the teacher – is an old woman, she will recognize Carla for her spirit. OMG I was sobbing as I read it.)

This Is Going to Be a Whole New Schedule – for Both of Us

Pre-school goes from 8:30 to 11:30. Then we have the option to add-on lunch and some enrichment time and some aftercare if we need to. I think there’s also a morning-care option too, if necessary. So what we’re doing – now that I am working for myself, from home – is adding lunch and enrichment. On Fridays, Carla will be done at 11:30.

This will be a Big Difference from our current schedule, which is daycare from 9:00 to 5:00.

So I am pre-emptively fretting about that.

Will she get enough stimulation/intellectual challenge/exercise between 8:30 and 2:30?

I’m super excited about having more time, just the two of us. But… what are we going to DO? Will she be tired from school, and need a nap? I don’t think there’s a nap time at school, and she’s used to napping at about 1:30, so I’m anticipating that she’ll be super tired. And if she does nap, now at around 3:00, what will that do to the rest of the day?

What if she finds me super boring? What if we like each other LESS once we spend more time together?

On the other, more selfish, hand, will I be able to get enough work done between 8:30 and 2:30? Will I resent my time with Carla? These are the things I’m most afraid of, I think. That the new schedule will open some sort of rift between us.

I Don’t Know What to Expect

I went to public school all the way until college. In a small town allllll the way across the country from where we live. I don’t know anything about private school in general, or THIS private school, specifically. For instance, I bought a cute shirt on sale at Carter’s for Carla to wear to her new school… and my husband shook his head and said that it wouldn’t meet the school’s dress code. Dress code? Oh right, I remember vaguely that when I met my husband he didn’t own a pair of jeans. Because denim is not on the dress code at his school. (Where I come from, you can wear jeans to CHURCH.)

So, okay, dress code. That’s one thing I’m going to have to figure out. No denim. No logos. No words. My husband insists no pictures, either – like, you can’t have a shirt with a butterfly on it. That’s making it a LITTLE difficult to shop.

And I don’t know about drop-off and pick-up – I’m sure we’ll learn about that, but since I don’t have a clue, I’m anxious about it. Will I have to arrive super early? Will I be spending hours each week in a long car line? Will I just… open the door and let Carla out? She’s my BABY, how can I trust she’ll get where she needs to go without me?

And I don’t know what the teachers are going to want/expect in terms of parental involvement. Like, will they expect me to ask questions and talk to them every day? Which I’m fine with! Or will they expect that I will only talk to them when they have an issue to bring up? Which I am less fine with.

And what about parental involvement beyond my own child? Will they expect me to join the PTA? I have never been part of the PTA! I am open to it. And I do like the idea of a sort of forced-interaction with other parents, which might result in some new friendships. But: ACK NEW EXPERIENCE ACK.

You must know that I WANT to send Carla to this school! I feel GRATEFUL that we are able to send her to this school! It is a FANTASTIC school! When I first visited, I was blown away by the campus and the class options and I listened with dreamy delight as my husband told me about his teachers and the courses he took. And HE went there, and HE turned out great! The school has a values system that they take seriously and it infuses their entire curriculum, and I think my husband embodies those values. He is honest and straightforward and hardworking and believes in being a contributor to his community. I think his school had a lot to do with why he’s such a great guy. And he still, to this day, has friends from school. Friends that have become MY friends, and whose kids have become friends with my kid. And those friends are all pretty great people too. AND! It provides a top-notch academic education! And it has great activities! And it’s just a super all-around school. I am SO GLAD that Carla was accepted (yes, of course there was an intensive application process) and I am DELIGHTED that she will be attending this school.

But everything about it is so foreign. Ev. Ree. Thing.

Those are the main Sources of Anticipatory Dread, but thousands of others keep flitting through my head: What if she’s too rambunctious or enthusiastic? What if the transition is super stressful? What if the school turns out NOT to be a good fit? What if she won’t eat the food there? What if she hates her teachers? What if she doesn’t make friends? What if her teachers don’t like her? What if her teachers don’t like ME?

I know that some of this is just going to take time. And I just have to try to shut off my brain until the school year begins. But I really REALLY wish there was some sort of Handbook for the Over-Anxious Parent that spelled out exactly what Carla and I do and when and how and why.

And of course I wish that she would just SLOW DOWN and stop growing so quickly. Although that would just give me more time to pre-fret, so maybe it’s okay that things are as they are.

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I only recently took down the collection of holiday cards – the last vestige of Christmas. And the least visually/physically intrusive.

It seems that I didn’t read the cards closely enough as I was hanging them up: one of them caught my eye. It was from a friend of a friend with whom I’d hung out multiple times… but we’ve since lost touch.

Her card was a photo of her entire family: herself, her spouse, her two children. And there was a cheery holiday message at the bottom, followed by their names and respective ages.

And she is TWENTY SEVEN! This was deeply surprising to me, because, as apparently I do, I had just assumed she was Exactly My Age. To find out she is seven years younger was quite startling.

Why did I think she was my age? I guess because we are both at the same stage of life: family, young kids. Although I now realize I thought that she might even be older than I am, by a couple of years, because her kids are several years older than mine is.

It’s completely silly, you know, to assume that everyone goes around having their first child at age 32. And in fact I DON’T assume that, normally; if you were to ask me what the typical age of childbirth is, I’d probably say something like… 27 or 28. And even that is based on Nothing Remotely Related to Fact or Research or Knowledge. Just a pure guess out of thin air.

Maybe I thought she was my age because she is so mature? But that’s again kind of a ridiculous thing, considering that maturity has really nothing to do with age. I know plenty of people on both ends of the spectrum: twenty-three-year-olds who are wise and self-assured and knowledgable beyond their years and fifty-five-year-olds who could be fourth-graders on the maturity index.

I think it’s just that I’m self-centered, and view the world very narrowly through my own particular perspective, and so assume that people in the same stage of life as I am must be my age.

Or maybe there comes a point when you just can’t tell anymore. I feel like I’ve reached the stage where everyone age 13 to 21 looks pretty much the same, and everyone over a certain point in their 20s to, say, age 50 or so looks about the same. Or if not the same, in some middling range of uncertainty where I would be just as satisfied to learn someone was 25 as to learn they were 48. I mean, Jennifer Lopez. She can’t be a day over 27, right?

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Just a few years ago, I didn’t want kids at all. At ALL. Ever.

Now, I find myself in the very strange position of contemplating a SECOND kid, to add to the one kid I have already. (This is, of course, to say I COULD have another baby, which I know is not a given.)

Internet, I think about it all the time. At least once a day. My thought process often runs along this path:

  1. Oh, Carla, you are so fun and wonderful!
  2. But you’re getting so BIG.
  3. Man, I miss Baby Carla.
  4. She was so cute and snuggly.
  5. Remember how she used to [adorable thing she no longer does]?
  6. Wouldn’t it be fun to have another baby?
  7. But it wouldn’t be CARLA.
  8. It would be a stranger.
  9. And what if Stranger Baby doesn’t turn out to be as fun and wonderful as Carla is?
  10. Remember, Carla was a super easy baby.
  11. And don’t forget how much you hated breastfeeding.
  12. And don’t forget how nice it is to SLEEP.
  13. And don’t forget that Husband will have a Real Job for second baby, so you would be doing the whole New Baby stage yourself.
  14. And what if you can’t pay attention to Carla as much as you want to?
  15. What if she and her sibling don’t get along – ever?
  16. Some siblings just don’t like each other.
  17. What if having Second Baby means you can’t afford [thing we planned on doing with/for Carla]?
  18. And remember how exhausted you are with just the one.
  19. It would be WORSE with two.
  20. That’s simple math.
  21. What if you don’t LIKE Second Baby?
  22. What if Second Baby means you would have less attention for Carla?
  23. What if you are just reacting to hormones, and you will ALWAYS feel this way?
  24. You can’t have a new baby every time you get a hankering for chubby baby thighs and a milk-drunk smile.
  25. You just CAN’T.
  26. You don’t really want a new baby, anyway.
  27. You want a second Carla.
  28. And that will never happen.
  29. But what if Second Baby was JUST as wonderful?
  30. But why take the risk?

No matter how often my thoughts turn to having another baby, they always seem to work themselves around to Not. (Disclaimer: I don’t promise that this will always be true.)

When I wanted a baby, I wanted one. Immediately. There were fears and worries and doubts, sure. But (at least in my memory of that time) I knew that we were going to at least try to have a baby and I was ready to face those worries and fears and doubts head-on.

This doesn’t feel like that.

I have heard others compare the desire for another child to feeling like their families weren’t complete. I don’t feel incomplete. I feel happy and settled.

But my thoughts keep turning to theoretical Second Baby. And turning away. And turning back. And turning and turning and turning.

Is that a sign that I really DO want one? How am I supposed to KNOW?

Listen, I know that if you are Pro Multiple Babies, you will easily be able to refute every one of my objections. And that you could easily offer up a thousand reasons to Just Do It. I don’t want that. I can do that myself, I promise.

Also: I fret and agonize over all the so-called, supposed “issues” of having/being an only child, too. So I am not looking for thoughts on THAT – either for or against.

What I AM looking for… or what I would be curious about is this:

How did YOU know that you were ready for a Second Baby?

Some people just KNOW that they want kids. I was always envious of those people, because I was NOT one of them. And it seemed like knowing that you were meant to be a parent just made things easier. Maybe that’s a matter of perception, but from my vantage point – of going from No Babies Ever to Must Have Baby Now – it seemed like those in the “always knew I wanted a baby” camp were much better off.

So I want to know whether it was the same for you. Did you always know you wanted multiple kids? Did you always think, “Okay, I’ll go for three”?

Or maybe you went the Starter Baby route. And when you found out how awesome that was, you decided to go for another.

Or, how did YOU know that you were done?

Maybe you always thought “I will have a HUGE family” and then you had one/two/seven and you felt like that was it.

Listen, I realize there are sad, upsetting answers to these questions. And I suppose I want to hear those too, because I want to hear what you have to say, if you are willing to share it.

But I think if I got to CHOOSE, mostly I am interested in either the philosophical answers (“we had three and we felt complete”) or the social answers (“I grew up in a big family, so I always knew I’d have a big family”) or the biological (this is not the right word) answers (“I had the one and my biological clock STOPPED.”).

 

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The dawn of this new year finds me… tired. Happy, but tiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrred.

I don’t know how many people read these surveys – maybe you’re like me, and you really enjoy reading them, but don’t tend to comment on them. That’s cool. If you don’t read them, that’s cool too. But if you DO like to read them, or if you are a person who likes the GIST of a thing, or if you are in a hurry, let me summarize the below: it’s an awful lot about the baby.

May the coming year bring you and your loved ones health and happiness, Internet! And plenty of sleep.

(This yearly recap quiz originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Had a baby.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, this was as close as I got to making resolutions:

I don’t think I’ll make resolutions for the coming year, either. There are,

however, things I would like to accomplish. I would like to exercise more.

Eat better. (This has been The Autumn of Carbs, which is quickly turning

into The Winter of More Carbs.) Enjoy the happy part of anticipation rather

than perseverating on the nervous-marking part. Make sure that my marriage

remains a top priority, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Blog

more regularly. Have another garden. Paint the kitchen, dining room, and

the upstairs bedroom as well as put up artwork around the whole house.

Re-organize the storage area in the basement. Okay, this is degenerating

rapidly into a list of housework.

On that front, I continued to eat terribly (until the third trimester, when all I wanted was All The Fruit), worry a TON, neglect my blog, and plant a garden and promptly neglect that. But! We DID paint the kitchen, paint and decorate the upstairs bedroom (the baby’s room), and paint and add moulding to the dining room.

I think my priorities for this year (I’m pretending this question asked about priorities rather than resolutions) are keeping the baby alive, my husband, and trying to be better about juggling work, baby, marriage, household stuff. And I know that sentence lacked parallel structure, but I don’t know how else to say “my husband.” He’s a priority, and I want him to continue to be, and that’s that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Well, you don’t get much closer to me than me. A few close friends also had babies, which has been tremendously fun.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. We are so fortunate.

5. What countries did you visit?

I didn’t do a lick of travel. Well, I flew out to see my parents last March, but that was IT.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

More sleep.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 13 – This was the baby’s due date, and so was a major focus for me for nine entire months. Well, okay, eight entire months, since the baby had been cooking for a month by the time we found out about her.

June 28 – This is the day that I went into the hospital for my induction.

June 29 – The day the baby finally made her appearance!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Listen, I am going to say breastfeeding here because it was such a freaking struggle for so long. I think it took me a good six weeks to stop hating every second of it. It’s something I’ve wanted– and tried – to post about, because the one thing that helped me get through it (besides just getting through it) was reading about the breastfeeding experiences of other new moms. But it’s so tangled up with emotions for me that my first few drafts have all reached book-length before I even got past describing the hospital stay. You may be surprised to know that I exercise restraint before I typhoon all over my blog, but I do. Occasionally.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, we can just skip right past blogging, which has all but ceased entirely. (Not for lack of desire. Or even lack of post ideas. I am just so TIRED.) I think my garden was my primary failure, because, well, I am looking out onto my deck right now and the sad, overgrown remains of my poor neglected garden are STILL THERE, covered with about eight inches of snow. Sad. And gross.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from the Daycare Colds my kid brings home every other week, I have been remarkably healthy. Thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love every inch of the baby’s nursery. We got some super sweet prints for the walls from Etsy that I have some vague notions of posting about at some point. I love my iPhone. But I think the best purchase was the breast pump. Tuna on rye, these answers are SO LAME.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This is boring (SENSING A THEME?), but my husband deserves celebration and applause. My husband has always been a calming, supportive force in my life. But this past year, he was just… above and beyond. Dealing with me for twenty-five weeks while I lay on the couch and moaned with nausea and refused to let him cook anything or eat anything with a scent… then dealing with my constant fretting about the baby for the remainder of the pregnancy… then dealing with my anxieties AFTER the baby arrived… It’s all been more than enough for the guy to deserve about a thousand medals. But I was also surprised and touched by things like how wonderful he was in the delivery room, coaching me to push. And by how upbeat and We Can Do This! he was about everything in those dark, terrifying first weeks with the baby at home. And by how quickly and smoothly he slid into his new role as father. Don’t get me wrong – I had no doubt he’d be an awesome dad. But he has just been so good at it, so quickly.

My parents were also especially wonderful this year. My mom came out and stayed with us for a whole month, and did laundry and cleaning and cooking so my husband and I could get to know the baby. My dad not only flew home when the baby was late (he HATES to fly), but he spent hours on the phone with me, talking me through all my New Baby worries – which doesn’t sound like much, I guess, but it was. It was such a huge help.

And I really need to give a shout out to my boobs. They’ve had to take on some massive responsibilities this year, and they’ve really stepped up. My handy little Baby Connect app says that they have gone through both 212 hours of nursing and 21 hours of pumping AND that they’ve produced over 30 gallons of pumped milk. Way to go, boobs!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I have no idea. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself this year.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Aside from the normal – taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings – we also had hospital bills, daycare, and fun things, like Baby Room Décor. Okay, so “most of my money” didn’t go to Baby Room Décor, but it was still more money than I care to admit.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Um. If by “excited” you mean “terrified,” then the baby, obviously. (And excited, of course.)

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013?

Berceuse by Chopin, which I listened to, on repeat, in the car on the way to and from work for at LEAST the last month of my pregnancy. Often while sobbing loudly.

Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Royals by Lorde

Home by Phillip Phillips

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier!

Okay, I had to come back and edit this. I AM happier, for the most part. The baby has truly brought untold joy to this household. But on a day-to-day basis, I think I may be sadder. Not for any REASON, just… there are all these feelings associated with having a baby that I’m dealing with All The Time. Worries and inadequacies and frustrations and TIREDNESS. Plus, I have lingering anger/sadness about the whole birth experience that I wish would just Go Away. And have I mentioned the worrying? I am so constantly focused on What Could Go Wrong that it’s hard to just sink into the happy parts, you know?

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, but that’s cheating since I was four months pregnant at this time last year.

c) richer or poorer? Poorer – hello, daycare!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Going outside when the weather was nice. Sleeping.

I am also going to add that I wish I’d been better about keeping up my relationships. I have all but lost contact with two of my dear friends, and that sucks. And it’s entirely my fault. I’ve been so wrapped up in me and the baby and I have chosen, time and again, sleep or sitting in front of the TV with my husband over calling a friend and staying in touch.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Fretting. Crying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, for the first time ever, with a real tree my husband and I picked out together (with the baby) and decorated together, with my parents and my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

I fell in love with the baby, of course. She is such a sweet, fun, funny little girl. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next, who she’ll become.

And, barf, I  know, but I fell in love with my husband all over again as we approached this Big Life Change together, and as I witnessed him transform into this even better version of himself.

Okay, you can stop gagging now.

22. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Justified. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this show. And to think I almost never saw it because I hated the TV promos for it so much!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

24. What was the best book you read?

Well, it certainly wasn’t any of the books here.

25. What did you want and get?

A baby!

26. What did you want and not get?

Um. Diamonds? I don’t know how to answer this.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t recall seeing a film. At all. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t SEE one, but there you go.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 32, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

For the first half, stripes and polka dots because it seems like maternity wear creators all banded together on the belief that if you’re pregnant, you need to emphasize that fact with lines and circles. For the second half, fluids of various kinds.

 31. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

I have no idea.

34. Who did you miss?

Mr. Sandman.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

The baby.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Sleep when the baby is awake. Sleep as much as you can because it will never be enough.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.
Happy New Year, Internet!

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So, I totally got an iPhone. Thank you very much for your helpful comments. I am still not sold that it was a great idea (so expensive!), but I am trying to ease into it. And I think that once I have a bitty baby to photograph 8,000 times a day, I will really appreciate it.

Speaking of which…

Internet, I am appealing to your collective kind nature here:

Please tell me your (PG) “getting labor started” stories.

Because I am ready to get this labor started, and it’s just NOT STARTING. My dear friend Kristina even gave me her No-Fail 3 Step Process and it did not work. Okay, so I only managed two of the three steps, but STILL.

Anyway, I have tried all the methods. (Except I am not drinking castor oil or eating sardines.) And will probably CONTINUE to try all the methods because I have to do SOMETHING while this baby decides whether to show up. What I really want here is COMFORT, possibly humor if you have some to spare.

What I do NOT want are horror stories about being 45 weeks pregnant or being in labor for 108 hours or… anything else that is horrible.

NOR do I want admonishments to “let Nature take its course.” Because I AM. I am not at my doctor’s house, begging her to induce me.  No, I am writing this cranky blog post. Nature. Course. I GET IT.

And yet I am tired, Internet. (I know, I will be tireder when the baby arrives. I should sleep now.) (HA.) My belly weighs about a thousand pounds. I wake up 89 times a night to visit the restroom or wonder excitedly whether I’m in labor and then pout glumly when I am NOT, AGAIN. I go to work every day and have to endure, about seven zillion times, “You’re still here?!?” and “What are you DOING here?” and “Where is that baby?!?” Everyone I know is suddenly keenly interested in texting me to find out whether I’ve had the kid or not. (Have not.)

My parents are arriving in the next couple of days, having taken off work specifically to be here for This Joyous Event, and having picked a week so far past my due date they were SURE that there would be an honest-to-goodness infant here when they arrived. IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE AN INFANT TO PRESENT THEM.

Also, it’s hot. And my everything is swollen. My toes are so fat, the toenails are digging into the toe meat of the toes that used to be safely out of reach.

Also, the weekly emails that I signed up for to tell me that the baby was the size of a kumquat* or a honeydew melon or whatever? THEY ARE NOW TELLING ME WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE A ONE-WEEK-OLD.

Please, tell me something comforting. Something that YOU, in my position, would have liked to hear.

In return, I am posting the first photos of myself ever in the history of this blog.  It may be an inadequate payment, but this is all I have.

Me, at 21 weeks.

This was back in the day when I could still button jackets and sweaters and such.

This was back in the day when I could still button jackets and sweaters and such.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me, at 35 weeks.

 

35W 5D 2

This was when I felt pregnant, but still cute-ish. I could wear my rings, I could wear shoes. Life was good.

 

Me, at 41 weeks.

 

41W 2

No rings. No ankles. No baby. COME OUT, BABY! COME OUT!

 

Actually, I don’t even need any Surefire Ways to Get Labor Started stories. I will take ANY stories that will distract me from the fact that there is no baby. ANY STORIES**.

 

 

* One week? The fruit the email compared the baby to was a durian fruit. Listen, I know what a durian fruit is because I’ve watched the Food Network for many years. But… it’s not a COMMON fruit. And, even though I happen to know what it IS, I still have never seen one in real life. It’s not something my local grocer puts out among the peaches and the mangoes. PICK A FRUIT EVERYBODY KNOWS, EMAIL. Also, one with less of a reputation for smelling and tasting like garbage flavored morning breath.

**As long as they aren’t horror stories about birth or labor or being overdue.

 

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