Sunday, December 26, 2010

Forever December

I have always wanted to be a “crafty” person. In elementary school I watched in envy as the other kids created masterpieces in art class while my projects always seemed to look like a catastrophic collision of glue, popsicle sticks and construction paper. Throughout my life I’ve made attempts at being crafty. In high school I went through a very exciting modge podge phase where anything and everything I touched was modge podged with magazine clippings- you name it- picture frames, frappucino bottles, plastic cups, even a Zio’s bread server. It was a very cool hobby. More recently I have tried other projects that are somewhat hit and miss, but none the less, I would call myself a very uncrafty person.
I have always made the excuse that I’m not crafty because I just don’t have time. I have always worked full time and don’t have time to devote to creating magical items with my own two hands. That’s been my same excuse for housework. I’d love to care about dusting, cleaning my baseboards and scrubbing my oven, but I just don’t have time. That’s at least what I tell myself and my husband. And for the most part, we don’t really care that much. In my darkest hours of self doubt, that's what I was scared being a mother would be- something I would like to be good at, but that I'm not. Whether it's because I just don't have the time or I'm just not a natural at it. Early last year, I started a little experiment to see if that was the case...

For the past 9 weeks, I have been able to stay at home, thanks to a federally mandated regulation called the Family and Medical Leave Act. My husband and I brought home our handsome prince of a baby and Boom! the world changed forever. The first 4 weeks I just tried to keep my head above water. There were days that I wondered if there was a world outside the corners of my house and sunshine seemed to be something only seen in pictures. After a few weeks though, this new life started to seem more manageable and I started to realize that I can leave my house, take my baby, wear makeup, and all of those things that I wondered if I would ever do again. With the weird awkwardness of being a brand new mom mostly behind me, I entered the month of December and...ah, bliss.
I will say with unabashed, anti-feminist, sap-dripping honesty that I have loved every moment of being home with my two gentlemen over the month of December. I always thought that I would get bored if I were to stay home. How can you find enough to do with a 2-month old? I mean, all they do it eat, sleep and poop, right?! No one could ever have told me how head over heels in love I would be with this new little man in my life. No one could have ever told me how much my heart would melt when he smiles when he looks at my face or how much pride I would feel over hearing him say "nnn ga" (I'm not kidding- he really says it).
With the new year comes an end to this honeymoon and the "back to reality" moment I have been dreading since I saw the plus sign on a pregnancy test. I will always look back on this month as being the woman that I never thought I would be..but loving it.
I tried my hand this month and making my own Christmas gifts. I mean, how can you mess up giving a family member pictures of your newborn? Apparently I can. So I found that the factor that makes me uncrafty isn't not having the time to do it-it's just apparently that I'm not talented. But I hope that being a mom will stick. I hope that I will always love laying in the floor playing with my baby, memorizing where all of his little fat rolls are and racing my husband to see who gets to wake our baby up first in the morning. These are the precious moments that I have loved in the month of December and the things that I feel like I will lose in just a few short weeks. The months ahead will be filled with bittersweetness- getting to watch my little boy get bigger and smarter and even more handsome, but knowing that I will have to miss many precious moments of his life while I'm doing something far less important- like ensuring compliance with state and federal labor laws and investigating sexual harassment complaints. Nice.
Even though my days may be cut short, God has given me the gift of being the constant in my little boy's life. So as the days of December fall off the calendar, this month turns from something ahead to a memory that I will treasure with everything I have. I didn't know that being home with "mom" and "wife" as my only titles could ever make me feel so accomplished. December, 2010: the most meaningful month of my life.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just trust your instincts...

I realize that I promised to blog about the making of my other two Thanksgiving dishes. Well, clearly that didn't happen. So sorry- I made the food, people ate it, blah blah blah. Really not that interesting. All I will say is that potatos au gratin should not be cut the night before and then made the next day- bad move. We'll just say that it made potatos au gratin look like potatos au black. Not apetizing. Enough said on that.

I realized through that cute little project that I am not made for commenting on cooking. My writing style is meant more for meaningless banter, narcissistic revelations and useless sarcasm. I shant detour again.

Today I would like to explore the cliche that is "just trust your instincts." Never is this phrase heard more than with the process of birthing and raising a child. No matter what the topic, the inevitable "end all, be all" answer that the expert seems to resort to is "but just trust your instincts." Here's how it goes:

Question: When will I know that I'm in labor?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

Question: When should I go to the hospital when I'm in labor?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

Question: How will I know if my baby has eaten enough?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

Question: How will I know if it's okay to let my 1-month old cry or if I should go comfort him?
Answer: Just trust your instincts

While this answer might be very helpful for the majority of the people out there, my instincts seem to be broken. Not just when it comes to child rearing, but pretty much any other decision I've ever been faced with...but for the time being, I'm pretty caught up in the whole child-rearing situation. Furthermore, I think that the "experts" say this to be empowering- like a whole "you're the mom, you'll make the right choice" type of thing...but for me, knowing that the ultimate choice of what to do in situation is up to me is just a tad bit terrifying. I'm the mom equals there's no one else here more qualified to make a better decision. Eeks.

For example, my instincts would tell me not to put my child in a straight jacket to sleep...however every night, we "swaddle" our baby boy..and without it, he inevitably wakes himself up. I mean, the swaddle is even Biblical (Luke 2:12). My instincts would also tell me that if I want my child to sleep at night, I should keep him awake in the evening. Oh contrare. Apparently sleep begats sleep, so if your child gets "over tired" he will not sleep well. Hmph. My instincts also told me that when I went to the hospital in labor that I was going to have my baby within 6 hours...and then I found out I was dilated to a 2 and endured a 19 hour labor! So, the instincts..they are no good.

Maybe I need, like an instinct "tune-up" or something. I'd really like to be a "natural" at all of this. I'd really like to know the innate answer to all of the hard questions, but I have a feeling that if I don't have it now, I'm never going to. And from what I hear, the questions only get harder: Should we let our child have a cell phone? Is our child making good friends? Are we disciplining our child the right way? You can look in all the books, but all of the general examples in the world don't seem to give me the concrete answer that I need. And whatever the answer is that I picked, there always seems to be a secret "door number 3" that I should have picked.

The other night after a series of quandaries, all of which I seemed to have the wrong answer to, I asked my husband "How do the idiots do it?" I guess it makes me hopeful that not every decision is life changing...that maybe that if I accidentally hold my baby too long, or not swaddle him tight enough or don't feed him long enought that just maybe I won't ruin him for life.