Monday, August 11, 2014

In which the ceiling fan reigns supreme and the Mommy Wars have begun already

What's going on in the Jewell household?!
Liam has developed a new training program at work, and it is being well received. He's been at his training coordinator job for a year now, and loving it still!
Elisabeth has gone back to work in the evenings, leaving Grasshopper with Liam when he gets home from his own job. She loves getting out of the house and being "Elisabeth" for a few hours instead of "Mommy-Milk-Creature", and feels like she should feel guilty for not feeling guilty about being away from her child. Not being a full-time Stay At Home Mom is very necessary for her mental health. (Liam also kicks her out of the house without the baby periodically for her mental state. Empty errands to get strawberry milkshakes have never tasted so much like freedoooooom!)
Some part of our roof is leaking, probably some part around the chimney or the eaves, and dripping water in to our house. We noticed it when it dripped its way down in to first floor living room, soaking the horsehair plaster enough that it sagged and bowed and created new and sudden cracks in the wall. Hurrah. We are grateful that the cracks are not because a load bearing wall lost its foundation. A chimney sweep is coming to inspect our chimney and hopefully tell us where the problem is. (Also, we are delighted at the thought that we are hiring a honest-to-goodness chimney sweep. I imagine he will be wearing a cocky black tophat, have soot smudged across his face, and speak in a Cockney accent and call us "Gov'ner". In reality, his name is probably Bob, and he'll be wearing a Red Sox baseball cap.)
Liam is getting glasses. Partly because his job requires long hours at a computer and he is getting eye strain headaches, and partly because glasses give him a dignified appearance (yee gahds this man is aging well) that will help him greatly when he encounters people in professional circles who automatically discount his abilities because he appears very young. We spent a fun morning examining different frames to find ones that suited his face.
We went out mid-July to enjoy Market Days, making it one of our few family adventures this summer. We miss being able to tube down the river with our friends, or drop everything and go to dinner at someone's house. But we also watch all the little children running around at the street festival and imagine Calvin's delight at being allowed to ride the miniature train ride, or play with the bumper cars. Calvin did well for being taken out of his familiar home and wheeled around in the heat and humidity. He lasted nearly an hour before he decided he'd had enough. Well done, little man.

Parenthood has made the last year quite a journey of self-revelation. Our lives have changed so much!
You can always expect the relationships in your life to change when you go through a major life event. Some relationships will grow closer, some will fade. You will gain some friends, and some will fade away. Some of the people in your life will respond as expected, and some will respond in baffling ways, and some people will utterly surprise you by which category they place themselves in. Our old friends who have withdrawn we miss most terribly, and our newly strengthened relationships delight us. Movies and books and TV shows all seem very different now, a change similar to when we got married. Parent/child distress is more upsetting, we empathize more with the parents than we did with the children, news of war or terrible accidents make us think of the fear that the children went through, or the despair of the parents as they tried to save their children. We would do anything for this little man, and our hearts bleed for the parents who cannot save their children. Parenthood is wonderful and exciting. Parenthood is miserable and frustrating. The love is familiar and foreign all at once. I miss who I was before motherhood, and also look forward to adventures with our little man.

Baby news!
Uncle Henry holds Calvin for the first time.
I nipped Calvin's little finger when I was trying to trim his scratchy little claws. He screamed. He bled. He cried. I cried. I felt terrible. It healed quite quickly, but I still feel terrible, and afraid to try trimming them again.

Little man has learned how to smile socially, and expresses excitement sometimes (usually by kicking and panting in the bathtub, or reaching and vocalizing when he anticipates a feeding is imminent). No giggles yet. He is enamored with ceiling fans and shadows and bright lights, and has shown little interest in the toys we have for him. I feel like he is taking secret lessons from the cats and will soon start trying to play with the orange juice cap.

Our doctor's advice was to politely listen to everyone's advice, and then do what we were going to do anyway. It gets frustrating when someone circumvents this and says things like "Well, of course you're going to do such and such/would never dream of such and such/I hope you are going to blahblahblah," and then they clam up and pointedly stare at you with a hopeful expression, and you can't politely deflect their "suggestion". The Mommy Wars (where women passive-aggressively shame other women for their parenting decisions, who does she think she is, can you believe that she lets her school-age children run around with lemonade, it has got sugar in it, oh I hope you aren't going to use disposable diapers at all, or let him near a television before he's 12) have started early, apparently.
The number of people who assume that my baby is like their baby is truly frustrating, especially when they couch their advice in the guise of 'stories'. "Well, my baby used to like me to dance around with finger-cymbals while wearing sequins. That would make him stop crying. Also, he had a Chilean stomach worm so he screamed for hours," they say, while giving me an expectant look. I feel like I'm being pressured to try their advice right then and there, and next time I see them they repeat their same story, discretely trying to figure out if I tried their advice. No. No I did not. My baby does not have a Chilean stomach worm, he has a stubborn burp, and likes to be soothed by gentle bouncing in an upright position. He also likes listening to music with a thumping bass, since he spent a lot of time listening to Lady Gaga in-utero, or rousing classical music instead of lullabies (1812 Overture is a favorite, as one, at one point, The Marriage of Figaro).

I do like stories of commiseration, though. "Oh, he's projectile spitting up/refuses to quiet unless you're holding him/peeing on you as soon as you get a dirty diaper off/chomping down while he nurses? Ah, yeah, I remember those days. You'll get through it. Little Joey/Shanaynay used to be able to pee on his father from across the room!" It feels like we've joined the world's biggest secret club. There's the head-nod of membership, where you exchange tired glances with strangers across the aisle in the grocery store, and smile in delight at a stranger's baby who is happily "Baa baa baa baa baa!"ing in the cart and banging a toy in rhythm against the cart's bars. There is the watchful eye
Today in microfashion: puppies, perfect for morning naps.
of stranger parents who keep an eye on the swarm of children playing at the playground, not unlike the  watchful eye of a herding dog who makes sure that no sheep stray further than the invisible boundary line. Not unlike the secret code among women (where you will give even your worst enemy a feminine sanitary product if they ask for it, you just do), other parents are there to stretch out an arm or leg to prevent a toddler from walking out a door when Mom is distracted for a second, or to lend a diaper in the case of an empty diaper bag.