My First Mother’s Day

On my first Mother’s Day crept up on me; indeed it still feels like motherhood has not quite sunk in entirely. Kyle greeted me in the morning with caramel flavored egg coffee in my Doraemon mug, and a delicious breakfast feast fit for a king: crispy bacon; poached eggs over a bed of black beans sauteed with garlic and spinach, topped with habanero salsa; and banana coconut oatmeal with berries mixed in.  

After breakfast, we video-called my mom on Line, went for a quick jog, then made our way to celebrate the rest of Mother’s Day with the family. Vale made me a colorful mosaic tile with her handprint (with just a little assistance from grandma!) We enjoyed a good IPA and imperial stout in the warm May sun, and had a lovely time relaxing with family.

I’ve always loved and appreciated my mother, and in the last 13 years have been keenly aware of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful mother-in-law, whom I love and appreciate as well. Still, it’s only upon becoming a mother myself that I fully understand what it’s all about and just how hard it can be.

Vale at 8 Months

It feels like she is on hyper speed. She started crawling about 5 weeks ago, and now loves booking it across the room on all fours, or pulling herself up to a standing position using anything she can possibly reach. We bought a walker toy for her, since she showed great interest in her friend’s walker during play dates, and she took to this quickly also.

She continues to have a pretty serious case of FOMO. She does not sleep or eat well if she is out and about, or in the company of friends. She prefers to go hungry rather than miss an interaction or activity. Since the last post, she has celebrated Easter, hung out on campus at Mom and Dad’s alma mater, played some soccer golf, and visited the desert.

She continues to be a stubborn eater; she has finally started eating some yogurt, but has maintained her distaste for other solid foods. She tears hats and bows off her head and gets frustrated easily.

Her sense of humor continues to be fickle. Yesterday, the word “burrito” caused her to throw her head back in a big, hearty, laugh repeatedly, but we’re willing to bet it won’t be funny to her tomorrow! Aside from her big hearty laugh, and the George Dubya “heh heh” chuckle, she also has developed a funny snorting snicker, accompanied by a face scrunch, for matters of minor amusement.

April 8, 2018

I caught you smiling, half asleep in the dark. I leaned in a little closer to be sure and it turned into a giggle. You rolled into my arms still half asleep, still giggling, breathed lazily into my shirt, and I forgot all about how you kicked me really hard in the face twice while sleeping next to me the night before.

Your twitchy little fingers smell like buttery bread again. I reflect on the day and think about how you’re turning into a little human right before my very eyes.

April 7, 2018

I awoke to Fiona clawing her way aggressively, clumsily, up the headboard. When she’d made it to the top, she realized her mistake; she teetered unsteadily on a very narrow ledge and looked for a way down. I tried to grab her and bring her down before she had a chance to slip off and make a noisy landing or fall on Vale, and we engaged in a brief tug-of-war with me admonishing her and her meowing back at me in an unduly irritated manner. The commotion woke Vale up, and so at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday, I resigned to the beginning of the day with a big mug of coffee.

I fed and played with Vale, and drank my coffee so slowly it was cold by the time I got to the bottom. We went for some quick sprints down the street, and headed out afterwards to meet a dear friend at a seaside park. There, we sat in the grass, under the dissipating marine layer, and illegally consumed alcohol, and ate cheese, crackers, salami, and Kyle’s homemade coconut curry hummus. We let a couple of hours slip by while we watched the distant waves. I made sure Vale was covered in sunscreen, but was so delighted to catch up with an old friend that I lost track of the sun and let myself burn.

On the way home, we stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few household items and Sour Patch Kids (oh, the things I eat when Kyle is away) and Vale made a big stink in the bathroom (literally and figuratively), because she had a poopy diaper and became agitated when I tried to change it. She flipped, flailed, and cried, and I decided she was definitely going to need a bath when we got home. This was the second dramatic poopy incident on the Wal-Mart bathroom changing table.

When we came home, I showered while she sat in her little tub, then I put her down for a nap, and read some of Naomi Wolf’s Vagina: A Cultural History. Now it’s early evening, the sun is setting, and through our French doors, I can barely make out our palm tree fronds shuddering in the night breeze. I could use a nap myself, but I hate naps, and she’ll be up soon.

April 6, 2018

The scariest thing about having a child is that I love her more as time passes. Some women are struck dumb and overwhelmed immediately by a newfound love for their child as soon as they lay eyes on their newborn, but I was not that way. I marveled at our tiny new human and felt an overpowering sense of responsibility, but love came gradually and incrementally; she grew and continues to grow on me like an incipient, spreading fungus, which is a foul trick I played on her father some 13 years ago. I didn’t cry when maternity leave ended and I had to be apart for her for full work days, but 5 months later, I miss her in an unexpectedly sentimental manner in the middle of the work day, from time to time.

And she is like me in this regard. She takes her time to make up her mind. She is amenable and flexible at first, until 3 weeks or 2 months later, she isn’t – whether it’s the bottle, solid foods, or sleeping through the night, and it’s frustrating to others who thought they understood, and indeed, relied upon her fleeting agreeableness. I don’t know how many times I thought I was not mad at my husband, only to decide, after some contemplation, several days or even a week later, that in fact I was very, very angry, just when he had settled back into a comfortable complacency.

Her father thinks she smells weird, but I love the way she smells, milky and soft. Her chubby hands smell like buttery buns from a Taiwanese bakery, and her scalp smells funny yet familiar.

A friend of mine once told me having a child is to experience your own obsolescence with each milestone. I understand this now, and also frequently consider that in almost no time, she may despise me, find me annoying, feel bitter about my failings as a mother, and become frustrated at how out of touch or technologically inept I am. I get lost in these thoughts and sometimes wonder what the point of this all was, but then another part of me doesn’t care.

Vale at 7 Months

At 7 months, Vale is scooting faster and faster, and getting up on her knees. She has the dexterity to be able to pick up small items, such as rice crackers, with her thumb and index finger, but chooses to only put non-food items in her mouth (Post-its – yum!); she picks up rice crackers with her fingers only to deliberately drop them on the ground. She has exhibited an aversion to solid foods, and you’d think we were feeding her poison, instead of avocado or carrots.

She babbles constantly, and still likes her nursery rhyme music book (her crack book), though her obsession with this toy is waning a little bit. She is not much of a cuddler, but she is very social. She loves being held by people (even strangers) at parties, and does not seem to have a sense of “stranger danger.”

She likes numbers and her ABC flash cards. She hates shoes, and will immediately rip them off her feet.

She has taken an interest in the cats. She has tried to pet Fiona on a number of occasions, much to poor Fiona’s annoyance.

She attended her first Yelp event at the Flower Fields (snuck in, even though she’s not 21), but of course, with her refusal to eat solid foods, the fare was not impressive to her.

Vale at 6 Months

Vale spent her 6-month birthday in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. She did not enjoy being dunked in the cold ocean water, but loved meeting friends on the plane and experiencing new sights.

She is increasingly mobile, and loves to scoot, turn, flip over, and put things into her mouth. She is able to sit upright in her booster chair, but gets bored after a while if she does not have a toy to keep her pre-occupied. She likes listening to numbers in mandarin and looking at ABC flashcards. These activities always bring a smile to her face.

She is still stubborn as ever about drinking milk out of a bottle, and her parents question whence this trait came.

She babbles constantly, including at 4:30 a.m. on occasion, which apparently is just a good a time as any for riveting conversation. She still laughs infrequently, and her sense of humor seems unpredictable (it may have been funny to her yesterday, but it won’t necessarily be funny today or tomorrow). When she does laugh, it’s a sort of a “heeeh heh heh” smirk/chuckle reminiscent of George W.

She has started paying more attention to her cat sisters, and occasionally reaches out for a pet (or a fistful of fur!), so they continue to be relatively wary and suspicious of her.

Scarywhining.com

I don’t know why I bother to surf Scarymommy.com, when all the articles are trash (a combination of poorly articulated, superficially analyzed, self-righteous liberal propaganda, and mothers bitching and moaning about the pettiest of offenses), but occasionally I find myself wandering back in search of mild amusement. Most recently, the greatest offenses to be featured on Scarymommy.com:

Exhibit A

Woman bitches about people asking her if she’s had her baby yet, and how she’s feeling, when she’s past her due date:

If another person asks me if I’ve had my baby yet, I’m going to punch them in the face…

Another question I can’t get enough of is, “How are you feeling?” How the hell do you think I’m feeling?!? I’m huge, uncomfortable, haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in God knows how long, constipated, suffering from a raging case of heartburn, and want this baby out of me already. Shall I go on?

Oh, god forbid people are excited about the birth of your child, and are concerned about your welfare. Having babies is extremely commonplace; in the grand scheme of life, it is a mundane, ordinary, and utterly banal occurrence, so any woman should feel blessed to be surrounded by people who care enough to pester her about the baby’s imminent arrival, and her health status. The rest of her post is a tome of familiar complaints of being 40+ weeks pregnant (with which I completely sympathize – it blows balls), but you know, how dare people give a shit and actually ask me how I’m doing. Seriously, fuck the world and all its caring, kind people, right? Don’t they know what an inconvenience it is for you to be receiving these well-meaning texts and e-mails? Oh, the gall. Simply unconscionable. It would be so much better if you had no friends and no one gave a fuck. I want to tell her to please shut the fuck up but of course, it’s my own stupidity for wandering onto this website to begin with.

Exhibit B

Woman bitches about people’s creative and happy Facebook posts. I shit you not. She spends the entire post whining about how she cannot compete with other mothers who cook Martha Stewart level meals and make Pinterest-worthy crafts, and tearing others down for having the audacity to appear happy in their Facebook pictures.

We are so happy and laughing hysterically at this trendy restaurant where our children are behaving perfectly. Look at us!We are so happy and just in love with life at this park. Look at us!We ski. We vacation. We snuggle. We hike. We smile all f*cking day long.

Stop it now. Because no, no you don’t.

She admits a lot of her feelings are borne out of her own security – yeah, no shit. Maybe you should work on putting a check on taking out your deep insecurities on happy people. Horrifically, the people she’s talking about aren’t even women in ads or the media; they are her friends and acquaintances. I don’t come across people who like to shit all over other people’s happiness that often, but oh, hello there, here you are. I get that social media is often not a reflection of reality and can create feelings of insecurity, but jesus, get a hold of yourself.

If I could describe this website with just one phrase, it would be “White whine.”

Strange Feelings While Checking Out At Wal-Mart

I went to Wal-Mart the other day to buy Valentine’s Day cards for Vale to take to daycare, even though she has no idea what’s going on and no teeth with which to eat candy (haha! all for me, then!) I was standing at the self check-out kiosk, scanning items, and debating between the hologram dinosaur Valentine cards versus Peppa the Pig (I have no idea who the hell Peppa is). As I scanned body wash and York Peppermint Patties I also wondered whether these days it is considered negligent to give candy to classmates on Valentine’s Day, as opposed to organic, non-GMO fruit or some shit. I pushed these concerns aside with some thoughts of back in my day! and Fuck it! Candy is awesome. Be a little festive for Christ’s sake! But my fears would later be confirmed when I saw a friend’s Instagram of the tangerines she had wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow a-la-Pinterest, for her son’s classmates.

As I internally railed against non-GMO, grass-fed, gluten-free, vegan fruits, I was only vaguely aware of an infant crying in a carrier a few kiosks away. The crying baby briefly triggered my recall of a time I was excited to make it all the way through a shopping trip with a happy Vale when she started fussing right as I pulled up to the check-out line; I sympathized with the poor mother.

Right when I decided on Peppa Pig, the woman in the kiosk next to me angrily muttered, “You know, that baby has been crying for two hours.” My first thought was, as to both the mother with the crying baby and the woman currently addressing me, who spends two hours at Wal-Mart? I responded generically, “Oh, that sucks,” assuming she was complaining about the noise, and also internally questioned, Wal-Mart is pretty damn spacious. Couldn’t you have like, moved three aisles away? Who stalks someone in Wal-Mart for two hours? But then she added, “Seriously, two hours. Screaming. Don’t you think the baby might be hungry or something? Ugh!”

Much to my surprise, the word, “hungry,” evoked in me a sudden, foreign, and involuntary feeling of deep sadness for the baby, and for a few seconds I felt quite horrible. I know of women who can pinpoint the exact moment they truly felt like a mother. I wouldn’t go as far to say this was my moment, because I don’t really ever have defining moments of that sort. Perhaps my emotions are so dulled, or my tendency to ruminate is so acute, that I let such moments pass for months before realizing their significance. In any event, for me, life is a series of small incidents melting together on a spectrum of experience; there are no “aha!” moments I can identify, in which I suddenly realize something profound. But still, I felt unexpectedly unsettled, as if an unfamiliar chamber of my heart had been revealed.

Vale at 5 Months

Vale at 5 months laughs when we sprint in the church parking lot, and sometimes when we do squat jumps. She falls asleep on our way up the steepest hill when we take her out for night jogs. She laughs when Daddy’s beard tickles her face. She likes crunching on her Como Tomo and Sofie the giraffe chew toys (perhaps the fact I cannot stop referring to these things as chew toys reflects just how long we lived a DINK life before deciding to have a baby).

She started rolling over one day, then quickly started scooting across the floor almost overnight. She has started to eat some solid foods, and likes carrots and avocados. She’s had the privilege of eating mom’s bomb-ass butternut squash soup and dad’s spectacular split pea soup, but is somewhat lukewarm about these tasty creations. If she only knew how spoiled she is! Mom remembers her brother eating jars of store-bought Gerber as a baby.

We took her to Costco to get passport photos taken for our upcoming trip to Cabo, and Daddy had to hold her up above his head, while supporting her back with his hand in an awkward manner to carefully avoid being in the photo himself. This occurrence confused her, and she ended up looking like a concerned little old man getting his mugshot taken. She has proved amenable to eating in a cradle position, so we just might be able to venture out into public for extended periods of time soon, and if not – oh well. We’re going to Mexico anyway!

She attended two Superbowl parties, and had a blast at party number 1 playing on her buddy’s play mat, and watching football on the gigantic TV (unclear at this point where the enthusiasm for football comes from) while mommy enjoyed a grapefruit Sculpin. At party number 2, attendees fawned over her, bounced her around, made her laugh, and generally showered her with attention, which rendered her less concerned with the game.