Archive for October, 2008

MILF Jeans

There are few things in life as sobering as shopping for a pair of jeans after you have birthed another human being. What was once a relatively solid and strong area of your body has suddenly become soft and stretchy and shapeless regardless of its size. In your head you are a MILF, every bit as sexy and desirable as you were before, just with a bonus adorable baby. In reality, you are a MILFAO –  a mother I’d like to fall asleep on. It is time for less cozy and more curves.

Haunted by the memory of your past, you try on the jeans that you bought before you got pregnant. Standing alone in the dressing room, you realize that $60 won’t buy you long or lean. Whether the change is you or their fabric or the cut, who can say. But it is not flattering. It takes awhile to process this truth, so you keep trying on jeans in different shades, thinking that maybe this fabric wash will fit better than the other.

Not so.

Taking a break from feeling ashamed of your lower half, you wander into Victoria’s Secret to see if a non-nursing bra might remind your formerly catalog-worthy best feature of lighter days. You exit immediately when the salesgirl informs you that the largest cup size in the store is a DD. Ha ha, just kidding! Across the hall is Lane Bryant, where you’re not about to shop for jeans, but Cacique was a good store back in the day and perhaps they would show some love to the largely endowed.

Which they do. But not for people with your little rib cage.

Disheartened but not yet demoralized, you head to your nearest family friendly, middle class retailer and walk right to the Juniors section. You are nearly the same size as you were before, surely the sassy cut of their pants will give you a little of your sexy back, no?

No. These jeans are clearly made for girls who aren’t trying to keep their c-section scars to themselves, let alone sporting everyone’s favorite baked good.

Nearing tears, you slouch toward the ‘Misses’ section. What does that mean, exactly? It sounds like it should be for pre-pubescent girls, but apparently they’re all shopping in ‘Juniors’, which sounds like it should be the male equivalent of ‘Misses’. Why so confusing?? Where is the MILF section, please?

You realize that if you really were a MILF, you probably wouldn’t be shopping at Kohl’s.

Walking through the stacks of Mom Jeans, you vow to yourself that you will starve for weeks on end before buying a pair of non-maternity elastic waist pants.  You try on a few pairs of brands you recognize (isn’t Gloria Vanderbilt Anderson Cooper’s mom?) and suddenly that lack of rear end that runs in your family starts to feel freakish instead of lucky. You could ditch your diaper bag and carry everything you need in the saggy ass of your pants. Trying to keep your head down so that no one will see you, you stumble into a display of jeans labeled ‘Perfectly Slimming’. The dark wash and boot cut seem slimming enough, but the picture of the 10 3/4″ rise is more than a little frightening. At this point, what have you got to lose?

How about your muffin top?

These jeans have made it disappear! Yes, they are a little high waisted, but when was the last time you wore a shirt that willingly exposed that part of your anatomy? To be truthful, the cut feels a little more sassy cowgirl than soccer mom, and has enough stretch to let you lift your infant all day in relative comfort. Feeling dangerous, you bend over for the coin slot test, and realize this could be the warmest winter your lower back has had in years. O happy day!

Then, the universe smiles upon you even further, as you plunk down $30 for jeans a full size smaller than you’ve worn in the past two years.

Now all you need is 4 continuous hours of sleep for you,  a nap for your spouse, and a baby willing to sleep for at least 30 minutes in a reclined position when you are both home, rested and awake.

Easy peasy, right?

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Make it work!

Here it is, 12:52 p.m. in Anonymous time. The vacuum is sitting in the hallway, where it ran into a giant pile of laundry waiting to be washed. BabyK is finally, peacefully sleeping in his swing. Damn Dog is staring out the front window, probably looking for his real family to come and take him away from this hellhole. At least I am dressed, my hair isn’t too ridiculous. Still no food for me, of course, but you know. We’ve been up since 10:30. I have made several calls to the pharmacy and the doctor trying to get something that might help BabyK with this relentless, heartbreaking, earsplitting pain that makes him scream like I’ve burned him everytime I try to get him to eat. He has successfully eaten a few times this morning, but it was another rough night here at Casa de K.

So. Now that I have my precious nap time, what am I going to do with it? Clean the showers? (Probably never, my personal least favorite chore) Paint the pumpkins? (no energy for scooping pumpkin guts) Eat lunch? (huh? what?) Plan-menus-clean-office-make-christmas-presents-make-playdates-make-a-million-dollars? Difficult as it is to decide, the choices don’t get any easier once he’s awake. Then I have to decide what to attempt to do with him, and what to try to do while he’s occupied. Beyond the issue of what activity he would most enjoy or what need should be met first, you get into this murky larger picture. What does his day look like? How have I spent my time today? What really really needs to get done, and what can we let slide? Does the outside world or the inside world need more attention today? Should I have rocked him to sleep or should I have let him fuss it out in his swing? Am I paying more attention to my chores and phone calls than I am to him? Or is the part where I held him all night giving me a free pass this morning, now that his little world isn’t about to come crashing down?

This is the guessing game, the part where I think you are generally just rolling the dice and hoping for the best. Maybe as your parenting experience expands, you can see how these little pieces fit into the larger whole better, but I’m not going to bet on that happening. The bigger you go, the more people have opinions (like this little spat here, ouch!) and when you’re trying to make all these choices not having a real night’s sleep in months, well… who can really say, this was the best possible decision and I weighed all the factors appropriately and I stand by that?

When BabyK entered our little world, I had a few books on hand to answer all my pesky little questions (like, how do I make sure he doesn’t die? ever?) Needless to say, there was some conflicting advice in there. People make nice livings for themselves telling you exactly how you should raise your child and why everyone else is telling you to do the wrong thing. Seeing the dark land of ppd on the horizon, I got tough, put the books away and adopted my official parenting philosophy: do what works. I don’t think that this excuses short cuts and laziness, but it helps me keep things in perspective. I’m a perfectionist, and I worry that I am going to ruin my child more from over-involvement and regulation than less. So, when I get all anxious and insecure, I try to ask myself, what’s not working? It doesn’t work for me to spend my night lumbering down the hall in the cold to rescue my crying baby. It doesn’t work for me to have to go get a bottle, fill it, warm it, spend 40 minutes trying to convince him to eat it, and then have to wash all the pieces. Conversely, it doesn’t work for me to always take him everywhere, so sometimes the bottle works. These things don’t work for a lot of people, and they work great for many other people. So while I have opinions on why these things are working or not, I don’t live in their house, I don’t parent their children, and I’m not going to criticize them as long as they are really trying.  I will criticize not trying any day of the week and twice on Sunday  – because I really doubt there’s anything more important in your life than getting it right with your kids.

The challenge, of course, is to feel that you’ve really done your best on any given day, in any given moment. Did I really give him the best I could today? Did I give my husband the best love and support I have available? Did I actually try or did I just coast?

I’m hoping that asking the questions means I’m at least headed in the right direction.

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I feel bad about my neck…

and the chipmunk cheeks, and the nose, and so on and so on.

But I am feeling MUCH better about my hair.

This summer, a mere six weeks after giving birth and all the drama associated with that, I experienced some pretty serious trauma. Not one, but TWO bad haircuts. Haircut one, a compromise. I wanted to get rid of all the heavy thick pregnancy hair, as I was holding a baby all day in the midsummer heat. Mr. K has a well-known preference for long hair. My formerly fabulous stylist suggested some ‘long layers’, citing his theory that after having a baby, many women cut off all their hair for convenience and then wonder why they don’t ‘feel pretty.’  I agreed to leave the length…

And got a mushroom head. One big fat layer running right around my head. A chili bowl on top of my regular long hair.

I wore a headband to BabyK’s baptism.

As a rule, I hate headbands.

Haircut two: Two weeks later I return to said stylist for highlights to blend out the older highlights. (He is still good with color). After weeks of clipping back the offending layer, I say, ‘I’m having a hard time with this layer. I don’t know what to do with it. Can you fix it?’ He is pleased to do so. He says, ‘I’m going to give you a shorter version of the Victoria’s Secret model haircut. It’s going to be so sexy. You’re a rock star.’

And I was.

A rock star with a *mullet*.

My girlfriend gives me headbands as a thank you gift. I am thrilled. I wear them.

A mere two weeks, several long camouflaging sessions in front of the mirror and many frustrated tears later, I am bending over the bed to look at the baby while talking to Mr. K. He begins to chuckle. I look up, confused. He says, ‘You need to get your hair fixed. It’s ridiculous.’

Horrified, I rush to the chair of my new stylist. She fails to hide the look of shock and dismay when I take out all the clips and illustrate for her the 8 to 10 inch difference between my top layer and the bottom layer. She does the best she can. I lose a lot of hair, and it becomes tolerable.

I return home. I try to remember to take my prenatal vitamins. I think many hair growing thoughts.

Today, I return to the chair of valiant new stylist (with BabyK in tow, he 98% enjoyed it very much). She fixes it some more. I start to vaguely resemble myself. The worst of the damage is still visible, but it’s much less visible.

Unfortunately, my neck is more visible. Why is it that 5 pounds of baby weight equals three extra chins? Life is very cruel sometimes.

Like when I think about how I spent $90 to get the worst haircut of my life and $100 to sort of fix it, all in the course of 3 months.

Maybe I’ll be rich and cute again someday.

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AnonymousK and the all right, not so bad, kind of blah day

Today is a total non-starter. I am sitting here at the laptop wearing one of Mr. K’s tshirts, some droopy stretchy yoga pants from more than a decade ago, BabyK napping in his feety pajamas next to me (when the couch isn’t trying to eat him). I have eaten Lucky Charms with real milk (we’ll see if BabyK will make me pay for this later), brushed my teeth and washed my face. Dog has been fed and let out multiple times. BabyK got his medicine when we got up at 9:00. We were back in bed by 9:20 and slept until 11:00. I have written 2 emails. I have read a few months of NieNie archives. And that is it.

Thankfully, we have no where to go today. There is nothing terribly pressing that must be done. Naturally I have a list of things that should be done: laundry, mopping floors, unloading dishwasher, organizing clutter, balancing checkbook, making Christmas presents, stripping diapers, washing trash cans, all sorts of administrative goodness for the dance company. There are phone calls I should be making. But alas. I doubt any of it is going to get done today.

The past few days I have felt underwater, unable to really get on top of things and plan ahead and get things done. Is it allergy season? (yes, it is, but is it the cause?) Or is it the part where Mr. K is gone and that throws everything off kilter? Dunno. Too tired and fuzzy headed to figure it out. Too tired to really pay attention and engage BabyK when he is awake and playing. (Praying that this nap goes on for at least another hour) I went to bed at 2 last night, which is my own stinking fault. I am not a good sleeper in the best of times. Life with a nursling has not improved my sleep habits in the slightest, although I am usually sleeping pretty well now. But when that bed is empty and I have had BabyK all to myself all day (with the exception of some sleepy holding by Auntie V last night – we watched House (YAY) and Fringe (BOO)) the bed is the last place I want to be. When you throw in some post-bedtime internet browsing, an article about how the financial crisis is causing people to murder and commit suicide, a book about an environmentally friendly home that outlines all the terrible chemicals in practically every beauty and cleaning substance everywhere, and the usual nighttime screaming of a challenged urban neighborhood… who wouldn’t fall effortlessly into peaceful slumber?

So then the next day comes, with beautiful golden light streaming through the windows, and I am feeling too overwhelmed and worn out to get up off the couch. It’s not terrible, I am by no means having a terrible day. I’m just… not moving forward. I read this post and thought that maybe I need to work on my perspective a little bit. Am I Nie Nie? No. Am I Martha Stewart? No. Will there be photographers here to document the warm, comforting stylishness of my home this evening? No. Will BabyK face dire consequences for not being the most appropriately stimulated, developmentally advanced and perfectly mothered child ever? Um, no. So maybe it is time I said to myself, hey. The dining room table has been cleaner this week than it has in a long time. The kitchen counters are relatively clean. No one here needs clean khakis to wear to work tomorrow. Single parenting is hard, and it is allergy season and I have bad allergies. There is still plenty of time for cleaning and decorating and administrating.

So we are just going to lay around for awhile and see if at some point the spirit moves us to get up and do something. Maybe that something will be to pop in The Nightmare Before Christmas and eat some mac n cheese or something.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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A Tale of Two (V. Unflattering) Photos

Photo One:

Taken October 20, 2007. Months of heartbreaking infertility. Months of heartbreaking family drama. Insanity causing fertility medications. Two days earlier, doctors appointment revealed ‘suspiciously high’ hormone levels, pregnancy test scheduled for the 22nd. DAYS OF PARALYZING ANXIETY. Hiding in my book. Trip to the pumpkin patch to hear favorite band and enjoy some fall fun. Two days later it is confirmed: BabyK exists.

Photo Two:

Taken October 18, 2008. Trip to the pumpkin patch (missed favorite band) and fall fun.

Happy family.

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Day 2 of 29

So, I am on day 2 of the 29 day giving challenge. So far, I gave two homemade (baked) items, and paid for dinner with my sister. I am hoping that I will get more creative – giving of my time, my service, etc. etc. – as the challenge goes on. I didn’t register at their site, mostly because I was holding a sleeping baby at the time and it wanted way too much information to type with one hand. But also, because it felt kind of weird. Too much commitment? Or something? But then why would I have no problem writing about it on my blog? Hmm. Perhaps it was just too much joining.

I have been really pondering giving back and being generous and focusing on others lately. I realize that I could have been doing this all along, but hey, news flash! I am not a perfect person. I was in a lot of pain. Things sucked, in a fairly major way. So many people gave me so much during that time, and I got through it. Now my life does not suck anymore, and I am not in pain, and I feel stronger and healthier and happier and I’m ready to give back. I’m starting close to home, of course, because nothing says ‘learn selflessness’ like a tiny infant. When I’m washing diapers or vacuuming or cooking dinner, I am trying to make it mean something, to say, ‘I love you and want you to be happy/calm/healthy/satisfied’. I am trying to see it as a gift, and not a chore. So far, mostly good.

With my new rockstar sleep schedule I have been finding it pretty challenging to do a devotion or something. I was looking for something else to find me, and it did. How did it find me? Through the blogosphere. I have mentioned the NieNieDialogues blog before, and I have been spending the time between BabyK’s 30 minute wakings in the early evening reading through her archives. She recommended another blog, and that blog linked to 29 days.

I have been so inspired by reading Nie, and I don’t mean the part after the plane crash, although that is very inspiring. It’s been the part before, where she makes mothering and homemaking into a terribly stylish art form, that has really got me hooked. I am not nearly as stylish, I don’t think. My house is okay. And I can’t really do that much with BabyK just because he is still too little for almost everything. But it’s giving me something to shoot for, and I’m doing the 29 days as sort of a boot camp. I want to be very intentional about the life I lead, and I think I am mostly successful at that. Being intentional about the life I make here for my family and the way I raise my child is taking that to a whole new level. I’m hoping it’s a really loving, beautiful, creative life. I’m working on it, anyway.

Anyone want to join in? It’ll be a great warm up for Christmas time!

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Five Beautiful Things

Quiet, warm, sleepy baby

Beautiful roses from the baby shower on Sunday

Clean fresh diapers on the line (and it’s not raining!)

BabyK’s first pumpkin

Homemade apple crisp with apples from our trip to the orchard on Monday (Betty Crocker recipe)

BabyK seems to have an illness. We see the doctor tomorrow at 9:30, but ‘sleepless’ doesn’t really describe last night. Hopefully he’ll sleep better this evening.

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