MOPS-material? Perhaps not.

Another first this morning…. attended my first MOPS meeting. That’s “Moms of PreSchoolers,” for those of you (like me) who had/have no idea what the heck that means. Chock-full of super-mommies — friendly & organized & skinny, with a generous dose of godly thrown in for good measure. Does the phrase “fish out of water” ring any bells? Right here… (waves fin)… I’m the fish. Despite Rose & all her trappings, I felt like a straight-up impostor.

How did I end up at a MOPS meeting, you ask? Brother-in-law Tom invited me… apparently they have a different speaker every month, & this month, they decided to have a “Man Panel,” or as Tom called it, a “Manel.” Basically, there were 4 guys seated across the front & they answered whatever questions the MOPS hurled at them. Tom invited Jennifer & me to provide a support system as he went swimming in the shark tank (his wording).

After getting Rose checked into her little nursery room, Jennifer & I pinned our cute little nametags onto our cute little sweaters & wandered into the main room, where breakfast casserole & coffee did much to alleviate my anxiety. Once I found a seat, things got much more comfortable. I just don’t do that well with being the new kid… it involves meeting new people & people aren’t really my favorite things, so yeah. Having Jennifer there helped — like making your friend accompany you to a new exercise class so at least when you look stupid because you don’t know what the hell you’re doing & you go right when everybody else is going left & you’re seeing black spots & no one else is even breathing hard, you can acknowledge it to someone.

Anyway. The Manel was entertaining & somewhat informative, although I think Bobby could have jazzed things up a bit with his lovely (yet annoying) habit of playing devil’s advocate. Was a bit religion-heavy for my taste, but that’s pretty much the case at just about any social gathering here in the buckle of the Bible Belt. You live in the South, you get a regular dose of God-stuff whether you want it or not. I’m not anti-God (which would come as a shock to some of my family), but I don’t think that the assumption should be made that everyone is a member of the good ol’ Southern Baptist club. Tangent. Sorry.

Afterward, Jen, Tom & I headed off to lunch with offspring in tow. I beat them to the restaurant, walked up to the front door & stood there waiting for at least a solid 5 minutes. They pulled in, & as I watched Jen & Tom unload Mag & Sadie, I was hit by the sudden realization that, um, I ALSO had a child & I HAD NOT unloaded her. I had left Rose in the car. Yes, I did. I completely forgot her. I left a MOPS meeting & promptly left my child in the car. Yeah.  It’s not that she was there that long, or that it was too hot, or any of that child-neglect-type crap… it was just that I honestly forgot her. You know that dream where you walk into class & realize you forgot a test? Or you walk into the bank & realize you’re naked? It was that feeling, except in real life.

Pretty sure I might be one of the most awesome mothers I know. ::Snort. Eye roll::

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my 1st consignment sale, oh my

Friday, I completed what apparently is a motherhood rite of passage (in these parts at least)… the children’s consignment sale. Holy hell. Jennifer & I arrived 50 minutes after it opened, & had to park in the back of the lot. While pulling Rose’s stroller & bag out of the car, I had a realization… that I have crossed over to the elusive Baby Island. I know you’re probably thinking “Uh, Sarah? Rose is 5 months old… you crossed to BI quite a while ago.” But it wasn’t until I went into this place that was so completely foreign, so “mommies only,” that I realized that with my Rose ticket in my hand, I’ve crossed over. So I demanded that Jennifer take of picture of me. Because that’s what you do when you have a realization :)

me. on baby island.

There were women armed with strollers, totes, baskets & wagons… like the red wagon that you pull your kid in, except instead of kids, their wagons were full of clothes. A few creative shoppers had brought their laundry baskets & were pulling them around by belts & jump-ropes. The walls of the giant room were lined with women who had staked out their real estate… having picnics with older children, breast- & bottle-feeding babies, pulling their selections out an item at a time & examining them for stains, rips & the like. There was a din of wailing kids, gurgling babies & baskets & wagons being dragged across the floor, along with the occasional request over the loudspeaker for an offending minivan or SUV to be moved.

And the stuff. Oh my lord. There were tables of toys, books, gear. Gobs of clothing & shoes & hats in all sizes & colors. I just stood at the front of the room & felt my eyes glaze over a bit. Jennifer & I headed for the back & worked our way up… she in the 2T’s & 4T’s, me in the 9-12 months. It took me a while to work out a system, but finally Rose & I were booking it up & down each aisle like consignment champs. It’s the first place I’ve been that, when Rose let out a howl, no one even blinked. Her dinosaur roars were still one-of-a-kind though… apparently I’m correct in that a ferociously roaring baby girl isn’t something you meet everyday.

We were there for FOUR hours. Halfway through, we parked ourselves on a relatively clean couch (also for sale) & I gave Rose her bottle while Jennifer & I went through our piles of possibilities. We stood in line for over an hour. And not even once did I hear anyone get testy. Maybe people got grumpier as the day went on, but I was pretty much amazed at the lack of nastiness…. it was like Black Friday on Zoloft.

a day in the life of Rose

Oscar fights back

Today, Oscar peed on Rose. Oh yes he did.

Every two weeks, I take Oscar to the beauty parlor. It began when I was pregnant & didn’t want to wrangle a wet dog over the side of the tub… & it was so nice having someone else bath him, that I just haven’t stopped. It’s a little place right around the corner & he’s one of their VIDs (Very Important Dogs). I know this because they have a VID wall & his picture is on it.

When I drop him off or pick him up, he has a bad habit of hiking his leg & spraying the counter. I was embarrassed the first few times, & then I just got annoyed… I mean, Oscar has been potty-trained since he was a puppy. There’s no excuse for counter-peeing, regardless of how many dogs have peed before. The staff, however, is very unconcerned about it… they grab a mop & swipe it up & that’s that.

Today, I picked him up & took Rose in with me for the first time. The staff all gathered around, ohhing & ahhing & doing what people do about babies. I then put Rose (still in her car seat) on the floor while I paid. You see where this is going. Turned back around & found that the little mongrel had raised his little leg & freakin’ PEED on her. Ok, the urine didn’t actually go ON her, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Since his surgery, he has this very sad (for him) girl-dog pee-hole, you see, & his pee doesn’t have quite the same trajectory that it once did. It’s something that’s caused him quite a bit of consternation in the months since The Great Urethrostomy of 2011. I, however, am quite glad that his range is limited…. otherwise I would have been cloroxing the baby along with the car seat.

I was flummoxed. What would make Oscar pee on Rose? Was it that she was getting attention from HIS people? Or that he wanted to make sure that everyone knew she belonged to him? Has he just been waiting for the perfect opportunity to whiz on his nemesis? Was he just so excited that he aimed for the car seat instead of his usual favorite spot on the counter?

Or maybe he just feeling particularly bold in his jaunty bandana & ear-feather…

brain-fog

So it’s been 5 months (almost). And as much as I hate to admit it, I think it’s time for me to do something. For the past 5 months, I’ve given myself permission to just exist in Rose World… every day consists of feeding her, napping with her, & pretty much revolving every single minute around her. And as enjoyable as that’s been, I think I’ve reached the point of hibernation saturation… I’ve gotta get back into real life. At some point, I’ve slipped from “new mom figuring things out” to “mom who uses her baby as an excuse to be a bum.” I’m letting everything slide, & while it was ok for a while after Rose was born, it’s not ok long-term. I’m using Rose as an excuse to not leave the house, to not take a shower, not change out of my pajamas, not eat healthy, not go grocery shopping, not keep up with the finances, not take care of myself or the house or, well, anything except Rose. She gets the VIP treatment, & everything else is getting the shaft.

I feel like my brain has fogged over. I think that’s why I haven’t been writing… because in order to write, your brain has to actually function.

So I gotta do something. Something like organize the tupperware drawer & clean the shower, which has reached a level of disgustingness that is just embarrassing. Something like taking a daily walk & maybe even joining the ymca. Something like making an effort to reconnect with my husband. Something like going to bed before 2am & getting up before 10am.

I don’t really know how to start this new phase. But I do know that in a few more months, I want to be able to look back & say “wow, I feel better.”

finally back, take 2

This once-a-month writing thing isn’t really intentional… it’s just kinda working out that way. I do sincerely plan to get better. I do. Since the last time I wrote, Christmas happened… Rose’s first Christmas. Bobby & went through the silliness of wrapping her gifts & then unwrapping her gifts while she just chills without a clue. Whatever, it was fun (for Bobby & me, at least).

Then I turned 34. It was uneventful, as it’s been ever since my Mama died… but saying that having Rose made it better would be an understatement of epic proportions. We headed to our Christmas Cabin, as has been our tradition since Mama left, & this year, we stayed for an entire TWO weeks. We’ve gone to a different cabin every year & luckily for us, this one was lovely. I saw the drive in exactly twice — once when we drove in, & once when we drove out two weeks later. Yes, that’s correct. I did not leave the house, not even once, for an entire two weeks. I tromped around in the woods or twice & we built a campfire one night. And that was the extent of my traveling. It was the usual crew — Jennifer, Tom, their girlies, Sue, Bobby, me, & of course the Rosebud. Lots of book-reading, puzzle-doing, football-watching, beer-drinking, porch-sitting, nothing-doing going on… slothfulness at its finest.

cousins at the cabin

The month of January has slipped by rather quickly. I finally went to the daycare where I worked to introduce Rose to my former coworkers. It only took me 4.5 months to take her up there because I’m all prompt & awesome like that. I got my hair chopped off & I like it. I got new glasses after 10 years, & my eyes are oh so happy to not be contacts-only anymore.

Rose & I hang out together every day, & have us a good ol’ time. I move her around the house with me & she gurgles & screeches in the little bumbo seat while I do laundry & dishes & make our bed & all that domestic crap. I think back to before she was born… all the anxiety I had about depression & not being happy with my long-awaited role of motherhood. For once, something has been just as fabulous as I expected. This mother gig? I’m loving it. She’s got so much personality, & every time she comes up with a new trick, I seriously feel like she’s the smartest, prettiest, most original, best-all-around baby ever in the whole world. And I know that pretty much everyone feels that way & we all can’t be right, but I just can’t help feeling like I won the baby jackpot.

And what is she doing these days, you ask? Well, I shall tell you…  She’s lost that scrawny, fragile, newborn look. All that loose skin is filling out into little cute baby fat rolls. At her 4-month appt on Jan 10th, she weighed 13lbs, 8oz (umm, I think). She smiles & giggles & sometimes cackles with laughter, which never fails to crack me up. She smiles easily, something that Bobby & I didn’t expect & even now, we’re still constantly surprised at how little it takes to coax a toothless beaming smile from her. Like, walking into the room is pretty much all it takes. She’s a happy little chubster. She’s quite verbal — chatters & howls & screeches & “talks” to such an extent that people will come over to peer into her stroller in the store, just to see the baby who’s making all that noise. She’s recently entered what our pediatrician called the “oral stage of exploration” — translation: she gnaws on anything with arms reach. Her hands are her favorite. People constantly tell us that she must be teething because of the amount of hand-gnawing she does, but there’s no sign of that at this point. She started eating rice cereal with applesauce a few weeks ago & figured out that a spoon = food within the first 2-3 days. The girl likes her food. She howls at the mere sight of a bottle if it’s not already firmly planted in her pie hole. And sometimes, when she wants to communicate that she is displeased, she does this guttural growling noise that is reminiscent of the dinosaurs… the little, killer kind. With all this talk of happiness, I don’t mean to give the impression that she never cries. Oh, the chick can cry — and once she gets torn up about something, it takes her a while to work through it. Bobby says she takes after her mommy on that particular little coping mechanism. Heh. And yesterday? She rolled over for the first time. Yep, she did. I put her down for her daily torture session (aka tummy time) & turned away to do something. Took me a minute or two to notice that there was an unusual lack of yowling going on… turned back around to discover that she was on her back, smiling at me proudly.

Yep, she’s a keeper.

finally back

It’s been a while. A ridiculously long while. I don’t even know why, really… I just got busy with my new routine & kept finding excuses not to write & then the thought of writing after so long became scary, for some reason. So I’m drinking wine out of a juice glass (I’ve found there’s less chance of it toppling & practicality has taken precedence over style) & I’m jumping back in.

I think I have a fear of becoming one of those insipid “mommy blogs” that I’ve always hated reading. You know the ones… they’re eerily cheerful & never negative & always glowing & content &… well, just so damn HAPPY. I’ve never been a simply happy person. As a rule, I’m suspicious of overwhelmingly happy people (just ask my brother-in-law, who I’ve dubbed “The Happiest Person in Our Family.”) And because I’ve only been able to think in terms of Rose… her eating, her sleeping, her pooping, her smiles, her tantrums, her routine, her, her, her… I’ve just stopped writing.

And I’ve gotta be honest… I’ve seen a difference in myself since I’ve stopped writing. I’ve become more angsty, more fixated, more bitchy. I think the outlet of writing allows me to spew & move on, & when I stopped, I just started dwelling on stuff that usually would warrant a single blog post, & then that would resolve it. I’ve become emotionally constipated. Lovely imagery, no?

First things first. Rose. My focus, my sun, the thing that my days revolve around. She’s perfect. Like seriously without flaw. I look at her & I’m brought to tears by how much I freaking love her. She’s more than I ever thought I’d have, & not a day goes by that I don’t feel the thankfulness bubbling in my heart. And to make it even more ridiculously perfect, she’s a happy baby. Once we figured out the food thing, she’s been like a little beaming, toothless, ray of sunshine. She spits like a champ — that hasn’t changed — but really, who cares about an occasional (ok, more than occasional) spew of processed milk bubbling up from within? Not me. No colic, no unexplained crying fits, she sleeps 8-9 hours at night… I’m loving it.

Thanksgiving was nice. There was some tension — Bobby was feeling very overwhelmed, & Sue wasn’t here — but we actually had dinner ready on time for the first time ever, & for the first time since 2006, we went around the table & said what we were thankful for. Tom (the happy BIL) suggested it… he’s quite adept at human analysis, & he knew that we were ready this year for the first time since Mama left. During my turn, I said as much:
“This is the first time in years that I’m more thankful for what I have than angry about what I don’t have.”
I can’t say I’m happier than I’ve ever been because my mother’s not here. But I can say that I’m happier than I’ve been since she died, & I’m more appreciative of my happiness than I’ve ever been because I have the lack thereof to compare it to.

After Thanksgiving, we went to Virginia to visit Mama’s family. It wasn’t a good visit. For the first time, I felt unwelcome. Something’s going on with my grandfather… I have no idea what, but it was very, very apparent that something very wrong. When we got there, we were oblivious… we were just happy to be there, & excited about celebrating Christmas early with Mama’s family. Because we’ve been trying to spend more & more time up there, we stayed a week — just like we did in June & March & last December. A week was a good period of time during those visits. This visit, however, was different. A week was too long. I started sensing that something was amiss on Day 2. By Day 4, I knew without a doubt that a week was too long, but we had already told my grandmother that we were staying, & it would have been awkward & hurtful to cut the visit short for no apparent reason. The night before we left, Jennifer & I cried… we both knew that we had overstayed our welcome, but we didn’t (still don’t) understand why. In typical fashion, I made a list of reasons for Grandpa’s behavior:

1 – He’s physically sick (ie, cancer, early onset of alzeimer’s, etc)
2 – He’s mentally sick (ie, seasonal or clinical depression)
3 – He’s just fed up with his family in general… after all these years, he’s just sick of our shenanigans & he’s ready to write us all off.
4 – He’s mad at us specifically – “us” meaning the South Carolina girls, Mama’s girls. I even had the sudden fear that someone had found this blog & gone back & read my posts right after Mama died, when I was so very, very angry & shared them with my grandparents for the sheer enjoyment of the hurt they could cause.

Jennifer & I cornered Grandma the morning that we left & asked her point-blank if Grandpa was sick. She’s physically incapable of lying, so we knew that we could trust what she told us — we asled 3 or 4 different ways to make sure that she wasn’t skirting the issue, but the bottom line is that Grandpa’s not sick…. he’s just sick of us. She ruled out Option #1 & I don’t think it’s Option #3. And you wanna know the sad, selfish thing? There was a tiny part of me that actually wanted there to be a tangible reason for his behavior because that would mean that he wasn’t just sick of us. I don’t want him to be sick — I could never want that — but I did want there to be a reason. But there’s not, unless it’s undiagnosed depression. He was just tired of us being there. And I gotta be honest, it cracked my heart a little. Tomorrow will be a week since we came home, & I still haven’t managed to shake off the funk that descended during the Virginia trip. They are such a huge tie to Mama — the strongest tie to her we have outside the three sisters — & I felt further from her after our visit rather than closer. I think it was that I knew that things would have been so different if she had been there. If she were there, Grandpa wouldn’t have been tired/grumpy/annoyed. & if he had been, Mama would have called him out because that’s what she did. Jennifer & I can’t call out our grandparents…. that’s just not something you do. But Mama could & did… she had the special status that came with being the only daughter.

So yeah. I’m struggling to get back into a place where Christmas is joyous & fun & festive & all that crap. When we got back from VA last Saturday night, it felt like I had lost so much more than a week… that Christmas had crept up on me, & I wasn’t ready, & there’s too much to do, & it’s not the happy, Christmasy busyness… it’s the stressed, will-this-ever-end busyness. I keep remembering the feeling that Grandpa didn’t want me, didn’t want us. And it freaking hurts.

Tomorrow morning, I’m shipping a gigantic box of gifts to Virginia — Jennifer & I went shopping & picked out something for each person that we thought would make them happy. Part of me kept questioning my motive — am I trying to buy their love? Am I trying to make them like me again? But ultimately, I wanted to do it — we spent hours searching for what we hope will be the perfect thing for each person, & I have to believe that it’s something that Mama would have supported us doing… not us just trying to “bribe” our family to love us. There’s a giant box of cheerily wrapped gifts sitting in the living room right now, ready to go to the UPS Store. I hope they like it & don’t think we’re trying to be flashy, or showy, or something. I was wrapping gifts today & packing them into the box, & actually UNwrapped & rewrapped my grandfather’s gift because I was afraid that he would be annoyed by the glittery paper that I used originally, that it would get glitter on his hands & make him mad. Bleh. I really hope his funk is temporary thing — I want my Grandpa back.

So now that I’ve written a ridiculously long epistle, I think I’ll stop. It’s after 2pm & I have much to do tomorrow. I’m glad I wrote. I believe I may feel a smidge better already.

 

fall decorations… finally

Finally got our fall decorations up. Proved to be quite a process… the attic door was broken, so it took several hours, a trip to Home Depot & much profanity on Bobby’s part to get the door back in working order. Kinda sucks that I’m getting things decorated so late — only a month & I’ll be taking it down & putting up Christmas stuff. But meanwhile, I’m loving fall… it’s my favorite.

Rose becomes part of the fall decor:

Dining room:

Mantel:

Hallway… Bobby mocked my scarecrow, but Mag & Sadie think he’s awesome. What does Bobby know?:

And my favorite tree all year-round:

my baby volcano

The lovey slept in her crib for the first time last night. So glad we decided to go with the video monitor… was able to hit the little button for instant reassurance. And hit the button, I did. Many, many times.

So have I mentioned that Rose is a spitter? As a former daycare employee, I feel confident in saying that she has taken spitting to an art form. Sometimes it drips out of her mouth down onto her bib & neck. Sometimes it pours out of her mouth in a gush down onto her clothes & blanket. And sometimes it shoots out of her mouth, Exorcist-style. It hits the person holding her, the chair or sofa, her clothes, the holder’s clothes, the floor, & any nearby electronic (phones, laptops, remotes, cameras, oh yes). Our leather sofa will never be the same.

I remember in my childcare days, I avoided holding the spitters without putting on a smock first, especially the breastfed spitters. The thought of someone else’s processed breastmilk on my clothes made me feel a little gaggy. And now? Rose is that baby. And you could always tell the spitters who didn’t get wiped down or bathed at night… their little necks would knock you over. More than one baby has gotten a daycare sink bath because the neck reek was unbearable.

I’m determined that Rose will not suffer from stinky-neck. Every other evening, she gets a bath, & on the off nights, I scrub her down with a warm washcloth, much to her disgruntlement. She howls every night & flails like I’m killing her. Good times.

I asked the ped at her appt this past Monday about the spitting. He said that since it’s not consistently projectile, she doesn’t need to be medicated… that it’ll get better with age. So the upside of having a spitter? I get to play dress-up with her several times a day. Between hand-me-downs from Mag & Sadie & things that people have bought, she has an insane amount of clothes. And because she spews like a volcano, she’s getting to wear all of them multiple times. So that’s my Sunny Sarah thought of the day.

2 months old!

Baby girl is two months old as of Sunday. We went to church for the first time… I dressed her in a smocked dress that Mama made, ruffle bottom tights, a white sweater & black patent leather shoes. Oh, & a tiny pearl bracelet. So, so sweet.

If you’re getting the impression that I dress her up like my own personal baby doll, then you would be correct.

Yesterday was her two-month doctor appt. She’s 10lb, 1oz and 21.75in long. Really like the way our pediatrician interacts with her… he’s very professional & business-like with Bobby & me, but his entire demeanor changes when he addresses Rose. Then, of course it was time for her first shots. Oh my. Bobby held her & I watched & flinched. I’ve always been a smidge skeptical of the people who talk about crying when their kids get shots… I mean, it’s for their own good & it only hurts for a second, so what’s the big deal? Yesterday, when the nurse stuck three, THREE, impossibly long needles in Rose’s little baby legs, I wept. It was wretched. I held her for a long time afterward & we cried together. It was a little bit dramatic but I couldn’t hold it in. Once Bobby ascertained that we were both going to survive, he left to check out (& escape the drama).

Now that she’s had her shots, I no longer have an excuse to hibernate. Guess I’ll have to rejoin the outside world. Rose is game :)