Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"Change of Heart" involved dating couples who were matched up with other singles and then sent out on respective dates. At the end of the show, the couples had to decide if they wanted to remain together or split up.
This momentous and life-changing decision was announced to the partners (and to the studio audience) at the end of the episode when each turned over a piece of cardboard that read: "STAY TOGETHER" on one side or "CHANGE OF HEART" on the other.
And it was awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that I felt the need to reminisce about it in spite of the fact that this has little or nothing to do with the remainder of this blog entry.
My best friend Norah (a mom since 1991) asked me a couple of weeks ago how things were going with the baby.
"I've figured it out!" I responded proudly. "Everything has COMPLETELY turned around. Sleep routine - CHECK! Eating schedule - CHECK! Running errands without incident - CHECK! Looks like it's gonna be smooth sailing from here on out!"
Norah took this all in, patted me knowingly on the shoulder and replied simply, "How nice for you."
That afternoon, the Snood began a meltdown of epic proportions that continued off and on for the next four days. He pulled out all the stops - fighting sleep, crying at the grocery store, and (my personal favorite!) responding to my loving attempts to soothe him by punching me repeatedly in the face.
It reminds me of my dad, who has a recurring delusion which fuels his addiction to the game of golf. For months at a stretch his game will range from decent to problematic, when all of a sudden, for no particular reason, he'll have a round where everything falls into place. On these days he comes home and announces confidently to my mother, "I've figured it out!"
Inevitably, his next round finds him hacking away in the deep woods for drives gone horribly astray as his score soars and his confidence disintegrates.
Like father, like daughter, I guess.
I call Norah to ask what she thinks I should do about the baby's behavior change, and her advice is simple. "I'd try to get used to it - from my experience, it's gonna last another 18 years."
I ponder her advice. Can I learn to accept the fact that the only thing I can control about my infant son's behavior is my attitude towards it?
Do I need a "CHANGE OF HEART"? 
I look for guidance to my husband, David, who possesses a truly amazing ability to define almost any situation in a positive light.
Case in point:
The Snood hates being in his car seat (see Fox.Hen.Grain) so whenever my husband and I take him anywhere together one of us sits in the back and tries to soothe him while the other drives.
Coming home from dinner last month it was David's turn in the back. As I listened in, he spoke to our shrieking son patiently:
"OK, buddy...let's try to stop screaming... why don't you take your pacifier and just calm down... that's right, boy-o, let's try to quit crying now... it's gonna be OK, little guy..."
The only effect this had was to drive Snood into more pronounced fits of hysteria, but still David kept at it.
After 10 minutes with no change I heard a long pause and assumed David had given up. But instead he started talking again, in that same patient tone:
"That's right, buddy, you let it out. Go ahead and express yourself. You just cry if that's what you need. Good job, buddy. You are doing great at letting us know how you feel."
I started laughing so hard I almost drove us off the road. My husband, the MIT grad, had realized that our inconsolable baby was not a variable, but a constant, and so he decided to redefine the equation.
And it was awesome.
I've decided that I, too, will master this approach - and I am absolutely confident that I will succeed.
I'm going to bend so that I do not break!
I'm going to BE the change I seek!
I'm going to turn my frown upside down!
And this is going to make everything fall into place, I just know it!
You might even say "I've figured it out!"
 Sad and shameless attempt to justify introductory paragraphs.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
A friend of mine sent me this link last week:
The article, from Parenting Magazine, focuses on a survey that found that a majority of women with young children often feel anger towards their husbands.
As my fourteen year old nephew would say, ‘Shocker’.
Now, let me start by saying that I am married to a truly great guy. My husband, David, is the kind of person who does nice things when no one's looking. He’s a man who genuinely seems to delight in making me a bottle of water with a little Crystal Light in it every night before bed just in case I get thirsty. He’s a man who begins each weekend with a pronouncement that Saturday and Sunday are my “days off” - he’s on baby duty!
And yet, he is a man whose murder I have plotted at least half a dozen times in the four months since our son was born.
Because, as Parenting Magazine will tell you, I’m angry.
It began almost as soon as our baby arrived, about the time I realized that my reward for successfully completing 9-months of pregnancy with an unmedicated childbirth was, in fact, a baby. A baby I was now expected to breastfeed every 2.5 hours, day and night, while David snored contentedly by my side.
I was perturbed.
While David wanted to do more, there was a biological reality at play in those early days. Even though “we were in this together” the fact is, I was shouldering (boobing?) more than my fair share of the job.
I was a little peeved.
David then had to return to work almost right away, leaving me at home with a very crabby 5-day-old who would stay pretty darn crabby for the next eight weeks (including, I might add, the several days that David spent in Argentina, at a work conference). So, I did diapers and bath times in L.A. while David did cocktails and dinners in Buenos Aires.
I was irritated.
Several weeks later, David was leaving for work one morning and he looked over at the Snood in his bassinet and said, “Aw…I don’t want to leave you guys.” I grabbed onto his arm with the desperation of a cornered animal and begged, “Take me with you!” The fact that he had the ability to leave (even if it was to go to his job) seemed insanely unjust to my sleep-addled brain. At night, after I’d spent 12 full hours trying to get the baby to nap without success, he would complain to me about a tough day at the office and I would respond in a pitched wail,
“Well, at least your boss didn’t THROW UP into your mouth today! Mine did!”
It got to a point when my base-level emotion was a barely contained rage.
As the Parenting Magazine article concludes (speaking of our husbands):
"…we're mad that having children has turned our lives upside down much more than theirs.”
Which is true. I used to write sitting at the local café, enjoying a tall chai while listening to soothing music on my headphones for inspiration. As I write this, there is a baby gnawing on the side of my face and letting out the occasional loud fart. Soothing it is not.
But it is my new reality. And while shaking my fists toward the heavens and bemoaning my fate can be fun, let’s face it, it isn’t that productive.
So instead I’m trying to focus on the positives.
- the fact that I spend so much of my time outside now, enjoying a park that despite being walking distance from my home, I’d entered all of two times before our baby was born
- the fact that outings to the supermarket that used to involve maneuvering my cart past other disgruntled shoppers are now marked by women crowding around to praise me for producing such a cute baby and men offering to help me to my car
- the fact that when someone calls to invite me to an event that starts at 10:30pm at an overpriced bar in Hollywood, rather than trying to squeeze into a tight pair of pants and spend an hour looking for parking, I am now fully justified in simply saying "No."
- and most of all, the fact that Snoods now looks at me several dozen times a day with an expression that reads (as my sister puts it) “Well, hello there, Mrs. Awesome!”
I must say, there are even some days lately when the positives outweigh the negatives so strongly that my anger disappears entirely.
For my husband’s sake, and frankly for his own personal safety, let’s hope the trend continues.