May 30, 2007

Day 423: Bye bye bottles!

I have big news. Really big, huge, great news. You might want to sit down...

We are officially off the bottle! Drop the balloons, pop the champagne! Maddie actually hasn't had a bottle for about 2.5 weeks now, but I didn't want to proclaim victory too quickly. But I think I can now safely say that the bottles are a thing of the past. This is another one of those things that you just don't think about until you are actually having to deal with it. How hard could it be? Just give her milk in a cup, right? Ha! Wrong! Turns out these little people get pretty attached to those bottles. And seeing as my girl is known for her iron will, I was gearing up for quite a fight over this one.

Truth be told, I didn't really care. I was happy enough to let her keep the bottle till she was 2. But then you start hearing these little voices saying things like, "It'll ruin her teeth" and "It'll only be harder later on" and "You're a bad, bad mommy." Some of these voices are just in your own head, and some are actually those of other moms who think it's totally acceptable and tons of fun to tell you what to do. So when I saw that she was growing less interested in her daily bottles, I succumbed to the voices and took them away cold turkey just to see what would happen. Turns out Maddie is a little trooper. She wasn't thrilled, but she went with it and here we are almost three weeks later and I'm pretty sure she's forgotten all about them. There was a scary moment at the Children's Festival last weekend when the kid next to her was handed a bottle to keep him happy. She stopped playing and stared at him for a while and I was ready for all hell to break loose. But she decided to let it slide. So cross that one off the list of things to do before she goes away to university - or the circus, or whatever she chooses to do with her life.

Now back to these voices. I'm telling you, they are everywhere. And as my stubborn little girl has thus far refused to stand, walk or say a single word I hear them quite frequently. It always amazes me that people feel so comfortable offering up their opinions on these things. They range from the subtle: "Still not walking? Hmm..." to the blunt: "Take her to the doctor, there's something wrong with her." And sometimes, on really lucky days, the opinions come complete with advice too. I really do try to remember that the holders of this great wisdom mean well, but any mom can tell you that it gets more than a little tiring.

I'm sure that many of us are sitting here nodding our heads in sympathetic agreement right now. But could it be, is it possible, that we are as guilty of this offense as the rest of them? Several good friends of mine are pregnant and having babies right now, and I admit I find myself having to bite my tongue to prevent myself from offering up my own How-To guide to parenting. And sometimes I don't bite it quite fast enough. Sometimes I'm a few minutes into my diatribe on why 2 months is not too young for infant cereal before I suddenly realize I have become the dreaded Know-It-All-Mom. Be honest, you do it too, don't you? We all do. Although some, perhaps, more rudely than others. Chalk it up to the legacy of motherhood, along with random irrational mood swings and the much-loved muffin top belly. Ah, motherhood... don't you just love it?

I've decided to add a few advertisments to the blog. Call me a sell-out if you must. I prefer an entrepreneur or, better yet, a "go-getter." Does it help any if I vow to you that the ads you will see here will always be relevent and will only be for baby products I have actually used and that have actually worked? In other words, you will never see a Bumbo or a "I love Mom" cloth bib or a Diaper Genie or... ah, you get the point. So these are the cups that have at long last replaced the bottles...

May 24, 2007

Day 416: On my way over the hill

It’s official: I am old. Or at least well on my way to being old. How do I know this? Well, there are many reasons, but the one that has inspired this post is that while putting on my lip gloss yesterday – my make-up ritual has dwindled to a single coat of pink gloss since having Maddie – I saw a grey hair. And then another. And another. And another, until I finally had to stop looking. From now on I will not be colouring my hair out of vanity and boredom, but necessity!

There’ve been hints over the past several years that perhaps I am not in the glory of my youth. I am no longer the youngest person in the office, for instance; okay, fine, I am nowhere close to being the youngest. People ask me what I did on the weekend and the answer inevitably involves a detailed account of a trip to Home Depot. When shopping for panties I pay less attention to the frilly bits than to the support of the tummy panel. I catch myself saying things like, “Dairy just doesn’t agree with my system anymore.” I bought a new bag this weekend and instead of looking for one big enough for a lipstick, a Visa and a condom, I was wondering, “Would the sippy cup and an extra diaper fit in this?” I suppose I should be grateful it was Maddie’s diaper I was having to consider and not my own.

I look back and try to pinpoint when this transformation first began. I suspect it started before Maddie came along, although I am pretty sure she’s accelerated the process. Was it when I got married? When we bought our first house? Was it that first pair of control top pantyhose?

It is disturbing in many ways, there is no question about that. But as I was lathering on my $25-a-jar anti-wrinkle moisturizer this morning I came to see that maybe this aging business ain’t all bad. Not to sound too much like Oprah – we get compared all the time, she and I – but there is a certain confidence and calm that grows as you get older. It’s funny that while young girls have the thin thighs and the glow of youth, they’re the ones tortured by self-doubt and insecurity. Somehow, with my post-baby belly and unkempt hair I feel better about myself now than I ever have before. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, just that there’s also room to admit that while things could always be better, they’re pretty good just the way they are.

May 20, 2007

Day 412: To friendship

Allow me a mushy post today, I am in a sentimental mood. This one doesn't have all that much to do with Maddie, apart from the fact that I hope she is one day as lucky as I am.

When I was younger, in highschool and beyond, I don't think I really appreciated the importance of girlfriends. The girls with whom you can cry, tell secrets, admit defeats and embarassments, celebrate accomplishments, get good and drunk. The girls you absolutely have to talk to every single day, and those you can go a month without talking to and pick up right where you left off.

Like so many other things in life - tight rolled jeans and the social smoking phase, for example - friends tend to come and go. But if we're lucky, the good ones manage to overlook our flaws and stick around. They ingore the fact that I never answer my cell phone and only check messages once a week; they don't mind that I talk endlessly about my baby; they seem okay with the fact that I can hold on too tightly and expect too much; they find my strengths amid the weaknesses. And so I find myself now in my thirties (just barely into them, I'd like to add) with all of the good ones still just a phone call or email away.

Whether we're focussed on family or career, whether we're settled or searching, I think we all need those friends in our lives. The ones who can just raise an eyebrow at the right moment to send us into complete hysterics. The ones who, when life is too complicated, can somehow make sense of it all. The ones who always know exactly what we're thinking, or who can hear our most selfish, hidden thoughts without passing judgement. The ones who will lend us a new pair of shoes, a secret family recipe, a shoulder to cry on. Maybe they're all the same person, or maybe there is an entire circle. Either way, what would life be without them?

I have a wonderful husband, a sweet daughter, a great family. But there is no substitute for good girlfriends, and I am blessed to have so many. If I could add one more wish to the many I already have for Maddie, it is that she one day has a group of girls in her life as wonderful as the ones in mine.

May 11, 2007

Day 405: Dumb and dumber

I think that having a baby has made me stupid. This is just now dawning on me – I guess I’ve been too slow to pick up on it. You hear talk of mommy brain, of forgetfulness and general confusion, and while that’s all true, in my case it seems to have gone a lot further. I’ve been dumbed down. Case in point: the other day I was in the car singing along to “Apples & Bananas” - Maddie wasn’t even with me, I now listen to Raffi on my own – and was having trouble remembering which vowel is next after “i”.

I used to secretly think I was a pretty intelligent girl. That’s not something you just come out and say to people. If someone tells you you’re smart the appropriate response is to laugh it off, not agree with them. But quietly, on my own, I did agree. Some girls are funny, some are outgoing, some have a great rack. I was the smart one. Note the past tense.

I used to read newspapers. I used to have some clue as to what was happening in the community, the country, the world. Now… not so much. I hear talk of this global warming thing. I know there’s still a war going on. Apparently the Prime Minister has a new stylist. That’s pretty much where my quest for knowledge hits the wall. And the sad part is, not only do I not know anything, but most days I don’t even care. Shouldn’t having a baby have made me more concerned about the future since Maddie will be living in it? Shouldn’t I be less apathetic? Shouldn’t I be joining MADD or Greenpeace? Shouldn’t I be out signing petitions or chaining myself to a tractor somewhere? Sadly, right now, it all just seems like so much work.

I don’t really know why it has happened. It would be easy to say I just don’t have the time, but that’s not really true. I seem to find the time to watch Grey’s Anatomy and read US Weekly every week, so I’m pretty sure I could squeeze in a newscast if I wanted to. The best case scenario is that Maddie sapped some smarts out of me while she was hanging out in the womb; at least then they’d have gone to a good cause.

I am holding on to faint hope that this is just temporary lull brought on by this past crazy year, that my mind hasn’t packed up and abandoned me for good. Maybe this weekend I will test the waters and turn on CNN for a while. Baby steps, right?


May 09, 2007

Day 403: A little pampering goes a long way

Last Mother’s Day – my first Mother’s Day – Fernando and Maddie gave me a gift certificate for the spa. Accompanying it was a card with my 6-week old daughter’s handprints done in ketchup, which looked horrifyingly similar to blood stains – but that’s another story for another day. I realized yesterday Mother’s Day is upon us yet again and I have yet to get to the spa, so I booked an appointment for a massage after work. I should make it clear that I’m really not a spa girl. I’ve been probably twice before in my life. I enjoy it – who doesn’t? – but I find my options are limited. I’m not all that crazy about spending $50 on a manicure when I can paint my own nails for $2.99. And I don’t let other people touch my feet; it’s just a thing I have.

But I admit that yesterday I really needed a massage! The weeks at work have been long of late. I had a bad few days where I was questioning my mothering skills. I stopped taking my post-partum medication a few weeks ago, which has left me fuzzy and foggy and generally confused. So I arrived to the spa tired and sad, but then I had an hour to just lie there, to think about everything, to think about nothing. And while the lady – oh god, how terrible that I can’t remember her name! – was karate chopping my calves I realized that I have been holding on to a lot of negative baggage that had built up over the past year. Particularly in those first 8 months. Maddie has managed to move past it all, but I haven’t. I’m still a bit nervous to take her places. I still have a tendency when she has a tough day to think of her as “bad.” Though at this point I wouldn’t change a thing about her, I still at times envy other moms their “easy” babies. I’m still terrified by the thought of another baby. And I just suddenly realized that I can let all of that go now (well, I may hold on to the fear of further reproduction a while longer, but you get my point). I can keep the good stuff and leave all the rest of it behind. I was driving home, the wind was howling through the trees, and it felt to me like a new beginning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

May 03, 2007

Day 397: Memories...

There are things about this past year that I would like to forget, I admit. But a friend recently sent me something that made me realize that pretty soon I will have forgotten a lot of it, and that with the bad stuff will go the good. In 2 years, 5 years, 50 years, here in no particular order are some things I want to remember:

1. Peeking through the crack of her bedroom door and catching her wake up from a good sleep. Sitting up, rubbing her little fists into her eyes, shaking off the sleepy cobwebs.
2. The huge grin when she hears the first notes to a favourite song.
3. Watching her eat peanut butter on toast - face first into the peanut butter.
4. The post-bath towel time ritual she shares with her Daddy, him wrapping her tight in her hooded towel and flying her around the house like superwoman while she squeals and giggles.
5. Tickle spots: chin, armpits, chubby thighs.
6.The great women and friends I have met just by having a baby.
7. Her little body tucked into the crook of my arm, fast asleep.
8. That gummy little smile before all 8 of her teeth appeared.
9. Having her. Already that memory is fading. I guess that's why women end up agreeing to have another one! But she might be my only one, so I want to remember those hours, the last before I became a mom. I want to remember seeing her for the first time.
10. Blowing raspberries for hours.
11. Her first piece of chocolate cake.
12. Up-the-back poops. I don't know why I want to remember these, but I do. Seriously, how does it happen??
13. Peek-a-boo, because I know the surprise won't last forever.
14. Being her favourite person in the world. Before boys and best friends.
15. Kisses. Big, wet, open-mouth, head-butt kisses.
16. Her crazy, comb-over, mullet hair. I hate it, I love it.
17. Our first lunch date. Just Mads, me, a patio and a glass of wine.
18. When she was brand new, knowing that nothing had scared her yet, nothing had hurt her, nothing had worried her, nothing had broken her heart.
19. The first time I felt like maybe I knew what I was doing. And the second time, too.
20. Looking at her and knowing that whatever else happens in our lives, we've done something really good.