Tania's Words

here is an empty shell- a resonant shadow- waiting

Archive for Homemaking

Post Baby Madness

Seems like everyone I know is having a baby right now. Dan’s cousin and my good friend who both blog had their daughters last Tuesday and already they are blogging. Granted, they blogged their whole pregnancies….and I did not.  But I still felt compelled to blog just so that I would not feel lazy.

First the great news, which is that on Wednesday April 27th, Lucas Xavier made his debut at 10:07 in the morning! He weighed in at a tiny 6 lbs 9 oz, and is absolutely perfect! Although I was and still am disapointed that I had to have another c section, this time the experience was much better. A very nice nurse held up a mirror so I actually got to see when he came out, and it was a lot less scary! I was also not as worn out and had a better reaction to the spinal- no shaking! Getting the spinal in was another story (according to the anesthesiologist, I have a very athletic back…since I’ve never been accused of having an athletic anything, I’ll take it!), but overall it was as positive an experience as I could hope for!

I think it was really good for Dan too. He remarked that it was a much more emotional experience than Parker’s birth, mostly because he was so scared and everything was such a whirlwind with the decision to do a c-section with him. Without that fear, he and I were able to focus more on the actual reality and experience of Lucas’ birth (ok, help me out here, I should know this but how do I do that in a grammatically correct way?)

We’ve been home for almost a week now, and so far things are fantastic. Lucas is so far an angel baby, very mellow and easy to please. He is fussy at night, but as long as he is with me he is pretty easy to calm down. Easy enough that I don’t mind being up at night with him. And and added plus is that he occasionally will latch on, so I am able to combo breast feed and bottle feed, which I didn’t think I’d be able to do, since Parker would not latch at all.

Parker has been a wonderful big brother so far. He likes the baby and he is interested, but not too jealous. He is very attached to Daddy right now, which is good but hard for me to see. I am used to him being my little guy. Dan says that Parker knows I am hurt and that I need time to heal.  It is nice having Dan home for the next few weeks, but I am anxious about what is to come when he goes back to work!  Anxiety has been the watch word in this postpartum time for me.  I am also struggling with feeling lazy when I know that realistically I need time to heal and to rest, but it is hard to depend on Dan for everything and not to be up and about doing things!!

Right now, I am feeling pressure to get organized and have a plan for when Dan goes home. I’d like to research making baby food for Lucas this time around. I also would like to form some sort of plan to get Parker to eat more than one meal a day!  Organization has never been my strength, so we will see how this goes!

Potty time!

So many things to talk about. Life has been an absolute whirlwind of random stuff. First, Parker started “school”. Really, he is at a preschool/daycare. He only goes for about 6 hours a week, just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The decision to send him kind of came to me all at once. Dan and I had already talked about sending Parker to preschool in the fall, the 3 year group. He’s a bright kid, and I think that the social interaction will be good for him, as well as some independence from Mommy, as he has been super attached. Once I realized that we wanted to send him to school, I had to think about the fact that we have a new baby coming. I was concerned that if we sent Parker after the baby comes, he’ll feel like we’ve banished him, or somehow link the two events together.

And so the search was on! Really it was the worlds shortest search, as we ended up putting him in a daycare that my two best friends had used. Once we’d picked the place, there was no reason not to go ahead with it, and so in three short days, I was dropping Parker off for his first day. I struggled with feelings of guilt, and worry. I felt guilty for sending him away, even though I knew I was doing it for all the right reasons- for him. Because I believe that it is important for kids to socialize and to become independent. Although he cried when we dropped him off, he stopped almost right away. Yes, I called to check, and was gratified and proud to hear that he was fitting right in and enjoying himself. By his second day, he didn’t want to leave when I came to pick him up.

Now that Parker is in school, Dan and I decided it was time to potty train. I know, we must be gluttons for punishment! Before we took him to school, I had asked Parker if he wanted to go, and he’d gotten very excited and said yes. So I told him that if he went to big boy school, he’d have to learn to go on the potty like a big boy. Ms. Rose (his teacher), said that it would be a good time as well, since he adjusted well to school and he is around lots of other kids who are learning to go potty as well. So starting Friday morning, potty bootcamp started.

From the get go, it was rough. I had a lot of doubts about whether or not we were doing the right thing, and the right way.  Parker got a new duck potty that sings when he makes it into the potty. The first day of boot camp he was put into big boy undies right away and we had a duck alarm sounding ever 15 minutes, and when it went off he’d have to sit on the potty. There was a lot of resistance, tears, and assorted meltdowns that first day. Sometimes being a parent is so rough, you never know if you are doing the right thing for your kid, or if you are just scarring them for life! But the second day went better, and twice he asked to go when he needed to. The big breakthrough was during dinner when he asked to go cause he had to go #2, and he did it! Any parent out there who has been through potty training knows that that is a huge success! Dan and I were so proud of him, and he got a cool prize which he loves, a dollar store fishing pole with magnetic fishies to catch. It is his favourite toy right now!

And of course, last but not least, I threw my back into spasm again last night. I am so tired of this, I cannot wait to be done with pregnancy. I’ve been in bed all day, listening to Parker and Dan downstairs feeling lonely, useless, and completely lame. I hate depending on Dan to do everything for me, I hate not being a part of Parker’s day and all of his successes with the potty, and I really hate not knowing when I am going to feel better and not have to depend on others to help me with Parker and everyday stuff.

With all this stuff going on, I’ve not been finding time to work on editing the book. We recently refinanced our house, have been shopping for new insurance, and I’ve been very busy trying to find new teams for Relay for Life, drum up sponsorship, and somehow, find time to fund raise for my own team. I am hoping that things will settle down a bit in the next week, and that before the baby comes I’ll get some solid work done on the novel. Here’s hoping right?

On a slightly more creative note, while I haven’t had a chance to write, I have been reading 100 years of Solitude, which I am really enjoying this time around. This is my second try reading it and it is going much better. My biggest issue is that the book features a huge cast of characters who all have the same name or a slightly different names. Oy. I also recently read Water for Elephants, which was AMAZING. I recommend it highly. Highly.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love the holidays. It isn’t a secret. I love the family get togethers, the decorations and good food. I love the snow and the joy in the air, Christmas music and searching for the perfect present to give to someone I love.  Every year on my birthday, I break out the boxes from the “Christmas Closet” and decorate the house, put up the tree. Christmas music starts playing in November, and I love all sorts of Christmas and spice scented candles burning.

Everyone who is a Christmaphile (yeah I made that up), has a go to Christmas CD that they love above all others- and I am no exception. I remember as a kid, my mom putting on Amy Grant’s “Home for Christmas”, every year without fail. Our house was a showcase come Christmas, full of homemade wreaths and garlands, and the smells of my mothers amazing baking filling the house.  As a teenager, I experienced plenty of tumult and unhappiness at home, but for some reason, Christmas was inexplicably a magical time. A pause in the normal routine of our lives. I always, always, remember Christmas as a happy and peaceful time. My mom and I worked on making decorations together, and the house was full of music.

Growing up, there were plenty of things I wanted, but more than anything, I wanted a family. A big extended family, grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. Growing up overseas, it was always just the four of us. Even when we moved to the States, things were different, and we had no family close by enough for the sort of family gatherings I always longed for.  I love my husband, so much- I often joke that I love him just for his family (it  isn’t true, although it was an awesome package to get with an already wonderful man). Marriage is a gift in so many ways, and I have been so blessed to be gifted with an amazing family, new sisters and brothers, grandparents and parents to love. After my father passed, and Tio John and Abuela, I felt very alone. For so long it was the four of us- Pilar, Mom, Dad, and I. Losing a part of that- it broke everything apart.

But now, I have old family and new. And best of all, my new family. Children to love and a husband to cherish. And, traditions to continue. I want my kids to grow up remembering Christmas, the smells and songs, and feel happy, content. To think of that special breakfast Mom always made on Christmas morning, or the pinecone wreath she hung every year, despite the fact that it kept on losing pine cones, because she remembered making it with her Mother one Christmas.

In which she’d like to garden more.

Oh man, where to even begin.  Long absences should signal an incredibly busy and productive life. Unfortunately for me, they haven’t.  I have been feeling completely bamboozled and overwhelmed by my own life lately. Partly I think it had to do with the fact that I am now watching my ten month old niece Paige. Partly I know that my health has been a factor, as well as the fact that both Paige and Parker have been sick off and on for the last three weeks. But for some reason, I am just so behind and frustrated. It seems that every week I have a million things to do and none of them get done. By the time the weekend rolls around, I am already exhausted, and although I look forward to the weekend with just Parker as time to catch up on the housework and such, there is always something else going on. Relay for Life stuff, family stuff, stuff in general.

Saturday, I sat down with Maura and tried to figure out what I had done all week that my house was such a mess, my laundry was undone for the second week in a row, and my floors were filthy. I had no idea. By the time Saturday night rolled around, I was so overwhelmed I was crying all over poor Dan’s shoulder, feeling like a complete failure at life, motherhood, everything.

A tad over dramatic, yes. But there it was. I woke up on Sunday feeling marginally better. I had a wonderful Mother’s Day, which helped settle me down. That and the realization that I cannot beat myself up by comparing myself to other women, other mothers and other families. I tend to look at my sister and Maura, who are super organized, very efficient, wonderful women. I might be wonderful (you’d have to ask Dan), but I am not organized or efficient. It is hard to see women like these, who work, have kids and husbands, and their houses (no matter what they tell you) are always clean, organized.  Maura works out regularly, Pilar makes all of Paige’s food from scratch with all organic materials. I don’t ever want to work out any more because on my list of forty things to do, it is last. I never even considered making Parker’s food from scratch. Heck, most days I still have no idea what to feed him.

I am sure there must be some things I am doing right, but lately, it doesn’t feel like it. And the worst part is that when I feel like I have no time to do the things I must,  I know I must give up the things I really want. I’d love to be playing in the garden, and I wanted to plant a veggie garden this year. No time. I’d like to get back to working out, but honestly, I don’t have the energy right now.  I’d really like to be blogging more, working on my book, being active on my writer’s and readers page. But right now, there is dinner to cook, a porch to paint, hours of laundry to be done, and underneath the everyday mess, my house is dirty.

Well, at least I started the day with a massive to do list, and am trying to cross things off of it. I am hoping it will keep me focused and organized, if not forever, then at least for the week. As a reward, I also made a wish list of plants for the garden that I want to plant. Hopefully I will get this list done by the end of the week, and if I do, I’ll get myself some plants, and find a magical hour or two in which to plant them.

The super book editing behemoth of my dreams.

Oh man, just give me a big fat F for blogging this month. Man life is out of control. Not only has my life exploded, but my brain, apparently as well.  I’ve read approximately three books since I last blogged, none of which did anything to improve my life. Two were Nora Roberts books, and one was my own book, for Book Club. Since we read it, I am now trying to edit it…which is lame. I mean really, really lame. I need to invent my own book editing software. It will involve at least three giant screens, a super computer with really detailed voice recognition software, and some sort of automated serving bar. Except that I cannot drink thing fun. Wine, beer, soda, tea. Apparently, when your stomach is waging full scale rebellion, all you can drink is water.

On the subject of wonderful things, only this time, actual wonderful things, I have been allowed the blessing of watching my niece Paige full time. She is just about the cutest, sweetest, and absolutely the easiest 9 month old baby in the land. No joke.  Having two little ones under the age of two running around has wrecked some havoc in my life however. I did finally get the house clean today. And I mean clean, not picked up. As in, cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed floors. For the first time since Parker was born, I am caught up on laundry, and have been keeping on top of it. Unfortunately, I’ve been an epic failure in the kitchen lately.

Question for you stay at home mom’s out there who aren’t at all good at it…does it ever feel like as soon as you’ve gotten one aspect of household management under control, another one falls apart? I mean I was a disaster in the kitchen, and then one day I decided I wanted to start cooking, and suddenly I was like, a whiz in the kitchen. Ok well…that may be an exaggeration. But Dan was going to work every day with a home cooked meal, courtesy of moi. Of course, while this was happening, the laundry was busy multiplying in my bedroom, and before I knew it I had seventy five bastard piles of laundry love children to pay child support for. Or something. And now, I have that whole fiasco under control, but poor Dan and Parker have been eating spaghetti and chicken stir fry every meal.

And the worst is that I know I could be like, super mom, super wife, super Taaaaaniiiiiaaaaa…but I am lazy I think. I like working on my book, and sitting and watching a little TV at night when Parker is asleep, hanging out with my girlfriends and their kids.  Plus there is the sickness I call Farmville. I still have no idea why I like playing this game. There is hardly any point, and yet, I am sucked in. If I just cut Farmville out, I am sure I’d be rocking the stay at home mom gig. Oh the pressure.

All right, well I am off to edit my novel on the dinky machine I like to call my laptop. One day, I swear I will make the dream come true, and will have the super book editing behemoth computer of my dreams. Just you wait.

This looked easy….

Yes yes, I am guilty of long blog hiatus. What can I say? Having a baby eats up a lot of time.

In some strange way, I feel as though being a stay at home mom means spending a lot of time doing “nothing”, and yet, at the end of the day I haven’t blogged, worked on my novel, read that book I’ve been promising myself I would. I have laundry to do and bathrooms to clean.

What do I do all day? I play with Parker, feed Parker, occasionally feed my husband. I attempt to keep up with the housework and then play with the baby some more.

OK, so I am not devising solutions for the economic crisis, or thinking deeply about the global climate. I am not working toward a thesis, or plugging away at a desk for 8 hours. But I am doing something important. Are we all hardwired nowadays to see some kinds of work as real “work”, and others as nothing but wasted time?

I do try to tell myself often that rolling around on the floor like a beached whale in order to make Parker fall over laughing is a worthy enterprise.  And a little bit of exercise.

The truth is, that a lot of the work that goes into motherhood is indefinable, indescribable and often, unnoticed even by mom’s themselves. I don’t know any mom that doesn’t question her decisions and actions constantly. Any mom who feels like they have the answers to the myriad of problems that crop up daily. Any mom that doesn’t feel like they could just do it a little better. And this, this is exhausting work.  The constant worry- am I talking to him enough, teaching him enough, letting him play independently often enough to encourage his independence? Is he ready to be disciplined, is this bad behavior, do all babies say “Uh oh” as they hold a handful of food over the edge of the high chair and THEN drop it on the floor, laughing hysterically when you say, “oh no!”

And then there all of the logistics of raising a baby from the ground up, so to speak. No matter how good that book on parenting is, you will never have all the answers. Things that seem completely obvious and intuitive aren’t. I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself asking, “God, where is the handbook?” Teaching a little guy how to eat, for example. Seems pretty easy. We eat food. We digest food. Food is good.

Ok, when do you start? What if they won’t eat it? What if it upsets their stomach? Why does he insist on poking his eye with the pointy end of the spoon, and how do I stop that? Once you have the baby eating his watery mix of rice cereal (which to me, looks like watery snot, thank you very much), then you are onto other cereals, then puree’s, then horror of horrors…solids.

Then you worry, is this enough fruit, vegetable, fiber, dairy, red, blue? Is it too much? How do I get him to eat something other than oatmeal and bananas? How do I get my husband to stop feeding him nothing but oatmeal and bananas when I am not around?

This all sounds pretty easy, but trust me- when you are the person entrusted with the sole responsibility , day to day, of feeding, caring for, loving, teaching a brand new person, it is exhausting and terrifying, and mostly, mystifying.

So I say again, “God, where is the handbook?”

Being a feminist stay at home mom.

What the heck? It’s been like, a million years since I last posted.

I feel like I’ve been extra busy recently. Busy with what? I’m not really sure. I’ve found that lately I feel very busy, but at the end of the day I am not sure I have anything to show for my alleged busyness. If that is even a word. Maybe that is just what being a stay at home mom is about.  Or maybe I am just lazy. A little of both?

I do know that lately, I have been trying to really learn the art of balancing baby care with home care. I’ve never pretended to be the neatest or most organized of people. It bothers me when my home is a wreck, but that doesn’t always mean I’ll get off of my bum to clean it. Especially with my husband’s new work hours- I find that I am alone with the baby during his crankiest part of the day  which leads me to feel utterly wrung out by the time he’s gone to bed. Ideally this time would be when I clean the house, do laundry, cook food for myself. Instead I find myself mindlessly watching TV, surfing the net, and reading horrible romance novels. Eating an entire bag of baby carrots instead of making myself a real meal.  It is hard not to beat myself up over this because I feel lazy. My other mom friends say that I shouldn’t but I don’t know. I feel all this crazy pressure to be the perfect stay at home wife. House clean, baby happy, laundry done, husband taken care of. Is this just my internal insanity? Is this something I picked up from the big bad world?  Do other SAHM’s feel this way?  I try to tell myself that I am doing the best I can and to just try and do better the next day, but every time Dan comes home from work and something isn’t picked up, or something is messy, I feel like a total failure. Not because of him, but because I feel like the least I can do when he works all day is to greet him with a nice home.  And saying that makes me feel like I’ve taken a trip to the 1950’s.

Is that wrong? I am a part of that generation of women who grew up expecting to reap the benefits of all the hard work and struggle that women before me went through.   With the idea that being a SAHM , or wanting to be, was just buying into old, outdated gender roles.  Perhaps not all women my age were raised this way, so I’d hate to speak for all women, but I find myself struggling with the inured idea that staying at home is some how failing. That by wanting to keep a nice home and please my husband because I love and appreciate him, I am buying into every negative gender role I was taught to fight against.  I distinctly remember in high school my best friend Maura being attacked for this very reason. All she ever wanted was to be a mother, and to stay home with her children. At our school, this was so frowned upon- everyone, from friends, to teachers, to parents tried to convince her that she was worth more than that, that she could do better. That she was wasting her intelligence and gifts by only wanting to be a mother.

Nowadays, that strikes me as terribly sad. I think that a lot of women my age got caught up in this idea- that women had fought so hard for the right to an identity outside of the home and motherhood, that to buy into it was letting down all of our “sisters” out there.

And I disagree. For me, being a feminist means that I believe women, like men, should have a choice to live their lives the way that they want to. Intellectually, I strongly believe that a woman should have the right to chose if she wants to work , or when, or how.  And I know that staying at home is the best thing for my family, and the right decision. But it is hard to shake off the idea that I am failing all the other women out there who fought for me to have the right to be educated and work.  Which is terribly sad. I don’t think that there is a more important job in the world than being a parent. And it isn’t easy.  It is ridiculously rewarding, but a tough , tough job.

That said, I have to add a caveat. I don’t believe that all women should be mothers. I don’t think that my identity as a woman and as a mother need to be mutually exclusive. I think that there is no real wrong. If a woman chooses not to have children, or chooses to have then and to work, or chooses to stay at home- I don’t think any of it is wrong or right. It is what is right for you, and your family. And I think that that is the best gift feminism has given women. The right to chose what is best for them and their families, rather than having to conform to an idea that really only fit some.

The most surprising “Mom Challenge” I’ve faced? Laundry.

Today has been the most awesome day. Not because anything particularly excellent happened to me.  It didn’t.  Nothing great really happened either. But everything seemed to go just right. For starters, I got to sleep in until 9 am. Oh heaven! That was awesome. Then, I got to go out in the arctic cold (-12 without wind chill) and go to the gym where I had an absolute butt busting workout.  I got home, played with the baby and with Dan for a while, and then- the best part of my day- I finally got a handle on the laundry.

People tell you when you have a baby that all these surprising things are going to happen. You’ll be amazed at how much you love him, you’ll be surprised by how little sleep you can function on, you’ll be amazed at how much you have to say about your child’s poop, etc. One thing I wasn’t expecting was how much laundry I would have to contend with. If you don’t have any kids, you’re probably thinking- come on he’s only a little guy, how much more laundry can he generate? Well I do have a kid, and I am still bamboozled by this.

The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know how it is that I always seem to be in some sort of semi-panicked state of laundry mayhem. Today for example, there were three baskets of folded, semi-folded, or just heaped up clean laundry. One basket of dirty laundry, and a floor covered in both. The linen closet was piled with dirty towels , and lets not even talk about the basement. It’s not as though Parker really contributes that much more to my laundry piles, but some how, it the laundry has become a never ending cycle of guilt and work.

Thank goodness Dan didn’t have to work until 4pm, and could watch the baby while I girded my loins and tackled the beast. In doing so I managed to psych myself into a full fledged cleaning frenzy.  Which felt good. Who knew the day would come when cleaning and getting laundry done would feel so great?

And why all the hoopla about some stinky clothes? It must be something to do with all this resolution talk floating around the blogosphere (is that a word? If not, can I claim it is?). Before I went to bed last night, I was writing in my journal (amazing, I know) about all the things that I want to get done. I didn’t even get to list the big things like “write a book” or “run a 5k”. This is because the state of utter madness which has prevailed in my house had finally gotten to me.

Weird I know. But now that that madness is over (until Monday that is. Two days with both Dan and I working always leads to the house becoming an absolute disaster zone), I can focus on cooler things I’d like to do. And how to achieve them.

As far as the 5k goes, I took the advice of Roz and other friends and am doing the Couch to 5k Challenge. I started today- part of that great workout I was chattering about.  That is step one. Step two is to find a 5k in my area to join, so that I will be more motivated toward a goal.

And for the rest, I’ll have to ponder them tonight and present my plan at a later date. It is almost eight, the baby is asleep and there is laundry to be folded!