Saturday, September 29, 2012

Barbarians at the Baby Gate

The phrase “You need a license to fish, but any fool can have a baby” often rumbled through my head, as I neared the end of my pregnancy with Claire. I felt ill equipped to bring a newborn baby home for the first time. A justifiable fear, since I hadn’t changed a diaper in 30 years. George had never changed a diaper. 

We both had (and have) much to learn. Our mutual inexperience with babies has meant that we’ve had many surprises along the way. Many suggest that babies are heartier than we give them credit for. Here are a few:

1)    Babies are loud. I’ve read that they are getting to know their voices for the first time. I think they are trying to wake the dead.

2)    They don't fight fair. Yesterday, Claire took her dexterous, little index finger and found the tiny tear duct space in the corner of my eye. She reached in and tried to scoop out my eyeball. It was an unfamiliar kind of pain. Labor still beat it though.

3)    They fart frequently and in a variety of places and situations. Enough said.

4)    Their fingernails grow like wildfire -- much to my dismay, since they also loathe having them cut.

5)    They hate having their nose, mouth and hands wiped. And the plethora of appliances meant to help with the task (such as the Nose Frieda) merely plays on a parent’s desperation and adds to the resistance.

6)    They are tough mother suckers. The other day, Claire was trying to climb onto a chair and fell backwards. Somehow, her mouth was involved in the mishap. I was completely freaked out by the amount of blood that ensued. She was just mad that I made her stop playing long enough to deal with the damage (refer to #5).

7)    They're daredevils. We were at Claire’s grandma’s house. I walked out of the bathroom and found Claire crawling up the steps for the first time all by herself!

Or I could have said, “conquering the Steppes”, since the summary of this post is that babies often act like barbarians. Perhaps you’re thinking, "My child doesn't do these things. Speak for yourself!”If that’s the case, I’ll end by saying that Claire makes a damn cute barbarian.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Having a Child is Like Eating Oreos

Coloring time starts off sweet and yummy...

Claire walks to the easel and says, “chi-choo”, her delicious word for crayons. She hands the purple to me and says, “Lo” (translation: “Mommy, will you please draw Lloyd, our cat, for me?”) 

I’m so in love with her right now. I’m so happy to oblige.

But, after I’ve drawn Lloyd the cat a hundred times in a row, I’ve had way too many cookies. Just like Oreos, it’s possible to have too much.

Mother/Daughter Collaboration

George, on the other hand, is on a diet, a strict regime. He’ll text me near the end of a long rehearsal: “I’m hurrying home. Is she asleep yet?” He’s dying for his sugar fix of Claire. When I reply, “Great. Hurry back”, I’m happy father and daughter will be reunited once again, happier still that I will soon hand Claire off to her devoted daddy. 

Then, he can draw Lloyd the cat for her. I’m just jealous that she’ll be off to bed, before he’s had his fill.

Unlike me, he rarely seems to fill up on Claire -- something else to compound my ever-present terror about measuring up as a mom.  But George’s perspective comes with downsides too. The number of firsts he misses frequently frustrates him. He’s also surrendered himself to the fact that mama is number one right now.

When jealously gets the best of him, I’m quick to point out that there’s still plenty of time for Claire to hate her mother.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mommy and "Me Time"

I felt like I was having a long overdue spa day. My body relaxed into the contours of the chair. The lights on the ceiling called to me like spinning mandalas, pulsating with meditative energy. I sighed and surrendered myself to the lady taking care of…

My teeth.

Yes, I was at the dentist. I can’t say I ever imagined considering a teeth cleaning a luxurious treat. But having Claire has given the term “me time” a new meaning. These days I will take it where I can get it.

But, really, the dentist office as “me time”? It made me realize how much of the energy in the Demas household flows from me to Claire, and how I survive on fumes.

mommy me time

Which means that all is about as it should be with a 15 month old.

When I am my best self, I remember that one of the beautiful (albeit challenging) gifts of a child is the lesson of self-sacrifice. Generally, the act of giving comes easily, almost reflexively, with a child. What requires contemplation is the repercussion of resentment that can often follow -- especially when I feel tired, overwhelmed and lacking patience.

Sometimes, I need to remember that it's okay to metaphorically put on my oxygen mask first. Often, I must make a conscious effort to find time for me hidden in different places and smaller moments.

To the last bit, I can thank my daughter for giving me a fresh perspective about the much-maligned obligation of going to the dentist.

Connect with: Bloglovin'FBTwitterG+Pinterest

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Arsenic and Old Rice

A store called Jubb’s Longevity had its heyday in the East Village of NYC long before gentrification pushed the hippies aside. I remember being intrigued by the name and asking my friend (who was the unofficial mayor of the East Village) about the store. She shared that Jubb was a breatharian, a practitioner of the philosophy that it’s both possible and healthiest to live on air and light as the primary source of nourishment. My first thought (after “only in the East Village”) was “what could they possibly sell in the store, if there’s nothing to consume?” We went in, and I recall books sparsely spread out on the shelves and maybe some teas and herbal cleanses. 

I hadn’t thought about this store in years, but I found myself longing for the days of Jubb recently. 
Today's new is that rice, the proverbial health food, may contain arsenic. Hmm, am I really slowly poisoning my daughter? I've found equally disturbing things about our food supply lately in my quest to find what's healthiest for Claire.

Now, in case you're thinking “she’s just another conspiracy nut”, let me assure you that I don’t go looking for this stuff. One seemingly innocent internet search suddenly leads to any number of doomsday proclamations. I try to find out about the benefit of feeding my child cod liver oil (none, it’s contaminated with PCB’s), and stumble upon Excitotoxins. The story goes that Excitotoxins are hidden in all kinds of prepared food from soups to frozen foods, and can lead to damage to the nerves and endocrine system. Then, I am looking for iron rich foods to feed Claire and learn that legumes and grains contain Phytates, which supposedly inhibit the uptake of iron and zinc. Next, I google “how to make your own bread”, and read that most commercial bread is made with a mutant strain of wheat that is ominously named “hydrolyzed dwarf wheat” (I learned about this one in a post called “Is Wheat Evil?”).

But I don't recommend pitching your chickpeas and crackers or breaking out your reading glasses to read the fine print on a bunch of labels. Not only will you drive yourself crazy, but you can easily find plenty of people on the net who will argue the opposite view just as vociferously, with just as much research to back up their claims. So the problem becomes who to believe? I've heard that knowledge is power. I say the internet has turned it into paralysis. 

At this point, I figure my goose is cooked (no pun intended), but I do have the opportunity to start from scratch with Claire. I am now at a loss about where to begin -- which brings me back to Jubb…I am starting to think it would be easier if we could all just live on air. Since that’s clearly not possible, I intend to stop googling altogether.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New York City Girl

The world seemed glorious when we left the hospital with Claire for the first time. Truly, the sun greeted us more warmly, the breeze more gently, the ground held our feet…"Wait, what’s up with all the litter on the street? Ridiculous amounts of trash…"

As a parent, both good and bad seem more magnified. As a long time New Yorker, I used to be able to tolerate the city’s many bad parts. Parenthood has literally made me want to run for the hills (or just complain more loudly about NYC being loud).

I often wonder why we are raising a daughter in an over-populated, polluted place, short on greenery and civility. Our lack of square footage makes it tough for our newly walking daughter to get up enough steam before having to turn around and run the other way. I regularly detect marijuana smoke coming from the apartment down the hall. Claire learned the sound of a car horn before the tweet of a bird, the color of a school bus before a bee. I won’t bore you with my litany of complaints about the subway.

But speaking of the subway, let’s not forget about New York City and serendipity...

Yesterday, Claire and I hustled our way up the subway steps, and Malang Jobateh, Kora player, happened into our world. Breaking from the rest of the restless masses, we stopped to listen to him play. I had the good fortune of hearing the music through the innocent ears of a baby. Claire was mesmerized, eyes wide open, fully present. She even jammed to the beat a bit! 

I have waited 45 years for an introduction to the musical instrument, the Kora. Claire has beaten me by 44. She has also listened to mandolins, accordions, violins, flutes, guitars, drums, harps, cellos, basses and saxophones. She has danced with the Hare Krishnas, protested with the Falun Gong and partied with Puerto Ricans. She has rocked out at a punk rock concert at the Hudson Piers, and watched men and women dance to traditional Polish music in Central Park.

In true NYC fashion, we have planned for none of these experiences. Each performance, each gathering has been a happening. We have been spontaneously invited to join in the merriment by those caught up in celebration.

“Only in New York” is an ecumenical phrase. It can refer equally to the numerous nuisances of New York, as well as its many nuances. The challenge is remaining open to the contradiction of it all. A great place to start is by being in the moment -- something babies do very well.

Connect with: Bloglovin'FBTwitterG+Pinterest
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...