Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Night I Turned into THAT Lady

Tonight I became that uncool, bitchy woman I'd always shaken my head at before. And you know what? It felt kinda good.

The Banker and I were driving home after picking Becca up from my parents (Thursday nights we volunteer at a therapeutic riding ranch), when we'd just entered our little neck of the "city." It was about 8:30, the streets still busy. I was in the backseat of the Jeep, turned to entice Becca into taking the last of her final bottle. Suddenly, The Banker shouted, his hand on the horn as he swerved and simultaneously slammed on the brakes. My body, twisted to the side, jerked forward awkwardly against the seatbelt. Becca uttered a cry of absolute panic. In front of us, four boys in a tan Honda had crossed four lanes of traffic and almost side-swiped us. Obviously embarrassed, the driver quickly turned the car off the street, only to reappear minutes later and cut us off to make a quick right-hand turn.

So you know what I did? I memorized the license plate, noted the street I last saw the Honda turn on, and called the police when we got home some five minutes later. The dispatcher, a very kind-sounding woman, looked up the plates and based on where I saw the car turning, surmised the kids were returning home and said she'd call the residence.

Becca, while shaken, is now sound asleep. Me? My neck and lower back ache something fierce. And my pride is both bruised and gloating. Part of me shakes my head that I've become that lady, the straight-laced kind who doesn't get it when kids are just trying to have some "fun." But in the end, I'm a mom, and if dare endanger my child I will take you down. Those kids are damn lucky I wasn't driving, because I probably would have followed them home and given them a good screaming. (Something my own mom has done.) And if I see their car again...well, let's just leave it at that.

Needless to say, I get it--the Mama Bear or Lioness comparisons. And so if I've become that lady, I guess that's okay. Because while I remember my carefree teenage days, there's no excuse for endangering my cub.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Teenage Angst in a One-Year-Old

Time and time again, people react with surprise when my daughter throws them a look like this:

Or, if she's been scolded, this:

I know this means I'm in for a lot of trouble. Of all the one-year-olds we're familiar with, only Becca pulls this sort of thing. I catch her watching expressions, trying to catch the eye of anyone close by. She's clearly tuned in, craving interaction--so much more so than other children I know. This is a point of pride and concern. This kid is stubborn. Tough. And so much more of a handful than I ever expected.

But by the same token, with the pouts and scowls, she's also perfected the art of hugging. She will toddle up to one of the animals--or me--and squeeze sooo tight. It's enough to make my heart feel as if it could burst. It's these moments I'm holding onto when Becca fights me over every meal. Or repeatedly throws her food on the ground despite constant reprimands. Or flips over mid-diaper-change and tries to crawl off. Or tosses me one of her new, perfected, looks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ISO: Help in Hiding Veggies, Meat

Becca is absolutely refusing vegetables. And meat. She's sort of taking after her mom: all carbs, fruit, and cheese. And even though I've written parenting articles on similar subjects, I only have one or two recipes for hiding vegetables and absolutely zero for hiding meats. And umm, I don't want to spend all day in the kitchen. (Okay, full disclosure, I also really, really don't want to have to buy Jerry Seinfeld's wife's cookbook. Ugh.)

So if you, or anyone you know, have any ideas for outsmarting a really, really finicky one-year-old, I welcome the input. Because carrot cake can't be her sole source of vegetables.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Peanut!

This Saturday marked Becca's first birthday, and I think I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this fact. There are days when it feels as if she's been here for ages, that I can't imagine a life before Becca. But most days it seems so fast, an absolute flash. On my to-do list is a year-in-review letter of sorts to the Little Miss that she can look at when she's older. But first I have to get some freelance and other matters under control. So in the meantime, here's a quick peek at Saturday's gathering and the anniversary of Peanut's arrival:

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I Don't Know Why I Bother

We got Becca this adorable little chair from Pottery Barn Kids for Christmas, and I had romantic notions it would be her reading chair--that she would sit lovingly next to me and we would read together. Thus far, this is the sum total of it's use:

Where, you might ask, is the Little Miss sitting? Well, right here, of course:

Yup, that's the one of the dog's beds. I blame The Banker's lineage for this. After all, his family was known as the Clampetts at their country club, and one of his siblings has been known to wear a tank-top and flip-flops to a funeral. I'm not even kidding.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mother's Day Out

Finally! I can breathe through my nose and my body doesn't ache like it's been hit by a truck...repeatedly. And I only occasionally cough up my lungs. There's nothing like feeling well again after feeling so, so terrible to make you appreciate your health. Thank you, God. Now please, please help us all stay healthy through Becca's birthday this coming weekend.

Some interesting things happened while I was fighting influenza. For starters, I had to get up at the crack of dawn to stand in the frigid cold and fight off other desperate parents to enroll Becca in Mother's Day Out for this fall. (Becca, in the meantime, was spending the night at my parents. Where she slept soundly through the night. OF COURSE SHE DID.)

So there I was, cold creeping into my boots, trying to make small talk with other parents without coughing crap up all over them. I was about the tenth or so person to arrive. We were all freezing, desperate to get our kids enrolled, and trading tales of parenthood. (We were nice to one another because one brilliant father had brought a pad of paper and a pen so we could sign up as we arrived. Then we were able to chat kindly, knowing we weren't going to have to elbow each other in the face for a spot in line. Did I mention this brilliant father's wife made him get there at 5 a.m.? This man deserved a medal!)

One mom and I ended up chatting even after we were let into the church building and led down a long haul to wait some more at round tables. She was older than I with a two-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter. She asked if I was a stay-at-home mom, and when I said I was, she let slip words that cut to my very core: "You know, it was so much harder staying at home than I'd anticipated. I went through this identity crisis. I'd always worked, I always had that, and suddenly I didn't anymore. I felt like when I talked to people, I had nothing to contribute. And I found it very isolating, being stuck in the house at the mercy to constant feeding and nap schedules."

I wanted to hug this complete stranger. I wanted to scream, "AMEN, SISTER!" But I didn't. Instead, I fervently nodded. I get it all. The isolation. The crisis of identity. The feeling of worthlessness. The knowledge that the only thing I have to add to a conversation are the antics of a wee person, and most people don't care to hear me go on and on about poop, feedings, naps, and crazy kid antics. It was so affirming to hear that I'm not the only one--that this staying at home thing? It's not all cuddles and roses. It's the hardest damn thing I've ever done. And probably the most important, too.