Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Tomorrow I leave for a blissful week in the UK, where I'm going to visit my newly-divorced BFF who recently moved there for a fresh start. This is my BFF since middle school who is ridiculously beautiful, and who will probably be married 3 or 4 times in her life and never have any children. But she is a total joy, and the closest thing I have to a sister. I actually hope she moves back to the states soon though. I think her living there aimlessly in the UK - jobless & childless, I might add... wait, that sounds heavenly - is not a tenable proposition for the long-term. She is already getting a rather generous pre-alimony payment but it is not enough for her to keep up with the exorbitant cost of urban living. And having nothing to do and nowhere to be is simply not good for her, because all she does with her time is think about her ex and how he totally rejected her. She seems stuck.

There is a part of me that wants to say to her: Um, how are you going to pay for your retirement? How are you going to psychologically move on from this? Because sitting in a flat you can't afford while claiming you also can't afford therapy makes no fucking sense really. What are your priorities? But I have been working very hard to keep my mouth shut and just LISTEN without judgment. She has a tendency to rebel against anyone who sounds remotely parental. She will figure it out for herself eventually. She always does. She is just one of those people who always lands on her feet, but often dangles very close off the edge. I swear her life has been a total roller coaster. She's poor. She's comfortable. She's poor. She's dirt poor! She's comfortable. She's rich! She's poor... not to mention her love life, which is, well, enviable to most men and probably to the Samantha character from SATC. (BTW the 2nd movie sucked out loud, except for the part about Lawrence of my Labia. But seriously, don't see it.) She's the friend I would call if I ever thought I had VD or needed an abortion. She doesn't even know the number of partners she's had in her life - I recall it was 22 at age 21 and she joked that she'd be one of those people with more partners than years on the planet. Meanwhile, I'm still on one hand. And still married. And with children - things she finds bizarrely intriguing now. Talk about vicarious living!

Drama follows her, and she definitely creates it. Oddly enough, I almost cancelled the trip because as of last week she thought she had bedbugs... and I can't afford a hotel and neither can she. Turns out she has a bad dust mite allergy that has given her eczema. Just glad bedbugs will not be following me home in my suitcase. Ick. Now I'm itching.

Anyway, this means ol' Hushie pie won't be back here until about Aug 8th or so... until then, hugs and kisses to you all. Thanks for stopping by. I'm going to need to watch next Sunday's episodes of "True Blood" and "Mad Men" though before I post, heck, before I unpack my suitcase and let those little bed buggies infest my house, right along with the mice!

Anyone else feeling me on the drama queen friend who you love & who is actually a great friend? Or on the mice or bedbugs? Or crabs? (just kidding)...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Do "Bad Seeds" Really Exist?

A recent program on NPR about parenting really made me stop and think. It made me question some of my prior assumptions that "there are no bad kids" (read: there are only bad parents/bad adults in their lives who fuck them up). It was the July 15, 2010 edition of Neal Conan's excellent "Talk of the Nation" program, with guests Dr. Richard Friedman, and NurtureShock author Po Bronson, called: "Sometimes, Good Parents Produce Bad Kids." Read the transcript or listen to it here.

It starts off like this: "In a recent article in the New York Times, psychiatrist Richard Friedman pointed out that mental health professionals have long been trained to see children as products of their environment, intrinsically good until influenced otherwise, and he disagrees. While there are all too many bad parents around, he argues, chronic bad behavior by a child does not necessarily mean bad parenting is responsible. Some kids are just bad seeds."


Of course there's that old yarn from both the real Boys & Girls Town and its film version - "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." There's also, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Probably there some other arborial metaphors for child development in other languages, too. But perhaps these old adages have it wrong?

What say you, parents?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Holy Fucking Shit!

My 9-month-old DD slept all the way through the night last night! As in a real deal Holyfield 12+ hours of precious sleep from 7:30pm until 8:15am. But did her mama also sleep through the night? Hell no! Because apparently I am so used to the shitty routine of her waking my ass up between 2 and 4 am that I actually woke myself up imagining I had heard her cries on the monitor. When I went to check she was sound asleep on her tummy with her head in the corner of her crib. Yes, it was my mind playing tricks on me. Fuck!

Now I'm obsessed with replicating last night's conditions. She was wearing jeans and a blue polo shirt to bed (no time for jammies - when I saw her rub her eyes and yawn I just put her to bed as is). Check. Last night was the first night I had put her in a size 4 disposable diaper. Check. I put a half-full bottle of formula in the crib with her and 2 blankets. Check. Check. The fan was on a medium setting. Check. I put her down drowsy but awake at 7:31pm and let her cry, watching the clock for a looooong 6 minutes, until she fell asleep = tension releaser. Check. We shall see what transpires tonight, bitches...

I was fully awake and out of bed by 4:30 am after about an hour of unsuccessfully trying to go back to sleep. So I decided to just get up and get shit done until one of my kids woke up. Turns out it was DS at 7:15. But I got a lot done in almost 3 uninterrupted hours there: Uploaded & shared vacation photos from almost a month ago. Sprayed weeds. Wrote an encouraging note to Skeletor in anorexia rehab. Showered. I like that feeling of accomplishment so early on a Saturday before the heat of the day sets in, so much so that I might make the extreme early wake up a habit.... or not!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friend Ain't Getting Any

Mrs. P, one of my two IRL BFF's, and I had a long phone conversation today, covering a lot of territory, mainly marriage and kids. I told her about my recent marital trubs, dramatic hotel stay, and how therapy was certainly helping. And then she went and dropped what I felt was a total bomb - that she hasn't had sex with her DH for almost a year!

Wait, what???!!!

I now realize we often have no idea what is going on in other people's marriages. Hell, I'm sure mine looks great from the outside... little do they know.

Mrs. P is mama to an adorable 21-mos-old, who she Attachment Parents (her term) to an extreme. As in she and her DH have not been on a date since before the kid was born. Like, whoa. As in full-boat AP: co-sleeping, BF'ing, cloth diapering, no babysitters ever - all the hard core shit. I'm a bit of an APer-light, but I think I'd jump out of a window if I never had any time away from my kids.

My sense is that Mrs. P has trouble finding balance. She tends to go to extremes with things. And her DH is kind of a pushover - he just does whatever she says, and doesn't feel confident enough to ever initiate sex, or plan a date, or do anything. It would be nice if he knew how to balance her out. I think she has contributed to it by not acting like intimacy is any sort of priority for her.

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's Been a Bad Day (please don't take a picture)

Last night was date night, and it was supposed to be fun. Instead it sucked, and turned into a big fight at 4:30 am this morning with both kids suddenly in bed with us.

Which had the effect of making me realize that some Very Important Something just might be missing between DH and me.

I know I have been bitching a lot... you all out there on the internets are probably sick of it. But I told myself I would always keep it real on my blog, because I am unable to in my real life. So please bear with me.

This morning was the first time I have ever really wanted to leave my marriage in a real, granular way. I actually started to plan it in my head, and that scared me. Why? Because for the first time I felt truly hopeless about DH's ability to make the changes we've recently discovered in therapy that he needs to be making. In his behavior, I saw visions of his fucked up parents. Let me be clear: I'm NOT talking abuse, nor any of the Four A's that for me would be an automatic "adios" to my marriage.

To be more specific, DH made me feel like the worst mother in the world - and I might add, like I am operating as a single parent here- for no good reason. He basically said I was "coddling" the kids by letting them be in our bed (after they had spent the entire night up until 4:30am in their own beds), and "coddling" them by not letting DD cry it out in her crib (CIO doesn't work at that hour when she is already standing up in the crib), and "coddling" DS because at 2.75 years of age I let him drink from a bottle and because he won't sit still and cooperate for a diaper change. (the only way to rid DS of bottles is to rid DD of them and she is only 9 mos old.) Why am I putting my excuses/responses in parentheses anyway? I know what the fuck I am doing - it is called SURVIVING!

I love how DH only has actual parenting opinions in the middle of a fight at 4:30am. I also love how DH arrogantly assumes he knows better than I do despite never having read a single fucking book about raising a child nor even looking at a single fucking parenting blog.

So there's that, plus the date night from hell where I realized, if I were just meeting this guy for the first time tonight and he acted like this, I'd never see him again. He just had the personality of a grapefruit last night. This was the same guy who last week got an email from the place we went to and forwarded it to me and said "let's get a sitter and go to this" - so I set everything up and at 5 o'clock yesterday he had forgotten all about it and said "do we have to go?" I said no, we could do something else, and by the time he got home he changed his mind and wanted to go. Then he had nothing to say the entire time. I kept trying to talk about something, anything, light things like what's going on in the world, and he was just not there. And I realized I no longer have the patience for him. I needed to be able to look forward to a good night out and have it happen. And there was no good reason it shouldn't have.

Reading back over this it all seems trite - but I can no longer deny it - for me, the connection is just no longer there. The intellectual spark, the fascination about the world, SOMETHING, fuck even LeBron James's announcement I would have been happy to talk about, but instead he was a total dud. And for the life of me, I cannot deal with it. Then he is a total unhelpful dick this morning? I may be at the end of my rope. I am seriously contemplating checking into a hotel this weekend.

I need a sign.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Second and Final Child

DD just turned 9 months old, and I can't even believe how fast the time has gone. She recently started walking (oh holy hell....) at 8.5 months. My mother tells me after a cursory check at her diligent entries in my baby book circa 1977, I also happened to walk at the exact same age. (DS was also an early walker, though at 9.5 mos he was a full month behind his sis. I suspect a strong genetic component to early walking). Yesterday was the first time we "lost" DD in the house and seriously didn't know where she was for a very scary 5 minutes. Turned out she had crawled all the way upstairs and was playing with a tent & tunnel toy she recently discovered. Another favorite activity of hers is splashing around in the dog's water bowl, so we've had to find a new location for it, much to our dear pooch's chagrin. She is so squirmy, and just wants to move!! She recently went swimming for the first time and totally loved it. She would start kicking her legs at just the right time, and enjoyed standing on the pool stairs. And of course watching her big brother jump off the diving board.

What I also can't believe is how vastly different her first 9 months have been compared to her older brother's first 9 months. He was born in the big city, where I went back after my 19-week maternity leave, to working a high pressure job, while he spent 4 months in a great center-based daycare. Then we moved to Podunkville (land of no good daycare, and no office job for me) when he was the exact age that DD is now. And that was 2 years ago this weekend. Wow - how time flies. My grandma always said time flies much faster the older we get, and I am discovering that to be true.

After way too much ruminating, DH and I have decided that DD is going to be our last baby. We once had aspirations of having as many as 4 kids. Pass me my crazy pills, I know! After actually having 2 we now see what a naive little dream that was. At the rate we're going, we wouldn't have even been able to remember the 4th kid's name, let alone when little what's its name took his first steps! Anyway, our decision to be done at 2 healthy kids has turned out to be oddly freeing. I feel like I now have extra encouragement to savor the sweet little moments everyday. Smelling the proverbial roses. And even to buy small things that are just hers alone, like a silly pink bib with polka dots, even though I know I'll never have another baby to wear it. And I'm also feeling the need to tone up my body and buy properly-fitting bras. (I'm a size 39 DD and a half...) And visit my newly-single BFF in London this summer. Because if you think about it, we're saving at least $225,136* over the next 18+ years by not having any more kids. (*figure pulled from my ass).

I confess it has been much harder to remember even the basic things about DD's babyhood. I think it is because I already have one set of memories of having witnessed the miracle of a tiny newborn turning into a walking, talking, egg-smashing, defiant, clever, spontaneous hug-giving & kiss-planting toddler who is newly-obsessed with "Toy Story," not sharing, and berating other kids who even dare look at his baby sister. And having a firstborn who is just such a vibrant, overwhelming personality in our house has honestly made it harder to carve out unique time and memories only of DD. I used to think parents who talked so much about their firstborn must secretly love them more, but now I realize that's not necessarily true. First anythings are just inherently more memorable (primacy effect?). Everything and everyone who follows will at some level be compared to how the first was. It is a struggle to give DD equal time -- no wait, forget equal time, how about just sufficient time? I feel like I need to read and talk just to her a lot more than I have been doing.

Any advice from those of you who have 2 or more little ones?