Hail to the Fathers

In honor of yesterday being Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful fathers I have in my life, both those I was born with and those I have collected over the years. It’s funny the things that become memories, and so many times it’s those things that you didn’t intend to leave lasting impressions. Here are just a few of the lessons and memories I’ve stored away:

My actual father:

  • Don’t tell your child that eggs over-easy are “Buzzard Puss.” That child might scream those words to an entire crowd at Denny’s one day and embarrass you to death.
  • Teach your child to shave with a plastic spoon and a handful of shaving cream – even if that child is a girl. Also, let her put the shaving cream on your face, even if that means having shaving cream in your hair and up your nose. She’ll never forget it.
  • Let your kids sit in your lap and “drive.”
  • Go camping in the driveway.
  • Tell the truth. Keep your word. Work hard.
  • You don’t need things that just gather dust.
  • “If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”
  • How to play foosball, pool, darts and ping-pong
  • How to make the perfect waffle

My Opa:

  • “Why does your tiny hand need so much soap, but my big hand only needs a few drops?”
  • You don’t need a whole lot of words to say important things.
  • Most things are a lot simpler than we think they are.
  • Get to the point. When someone says they have to get off the phone, let them get off the phone. Don’t say goodbye 15 times.
  • You can get a lot of things done without technology.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.

My Grandpa:

  • The Piggly-Wiggly is really called the “Hoggly-Woggly.”
  • Don’t poke the fish if you don’t want it to slice your hand open.
  • Mistletoe grows in trees.

My father-in-law:

  • Sometimes people just need to talk. Just smile and nod, even if you don’t completely understand, and often that’s the best response.
  • Don’t forget about caregivers. They need love and support too.
  • Be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.
  • “Noodling” is a real thing and people do it for fun.
  • Live bees can be transported in a moving vehicle.
  • Dessert is a food group.

My husband:

  • Not all spiders are going to kill me.
  • You can get a hummingbird to sit in your hand if you wait long enough.
  • Velociraptors could be anywhere.
  • Daddies make the best “baby burritos.”

 

 

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The things we do…

Oh, the things we do for our kids.

Things we never expected to do, or say, or think about. Things we would have died laughing if someone else did it, only to find ourselves in the same positions years later.

It’s been a while since I could tell a really funny story on the Mister. He wised up after the first six months or so of our marriage and became very careful about doing things that might end up here on my blog. But last night… last night he messed up.

Roo (who has major congestion, an ear infection and a first tooth coming in) woke up very unhappy around midnight after having been asleep for about three-ish hours. We tried all the normal things – feeding her, rocking her, Motrin for teething pain, etc. – but nothing was really settling her down.

Finally, a little before 2 a.m., I decided to put her down in her crib (a place she has only slept a few times in her whole life) and see what might happen. I rolled her onto her side, which has become a favorite sleeping position, and waited. It took a very, very long time, and I couldn’t walk away from the bed or she would get upset, but she did eventually fall asleep.

She fell asleep!!!

Those who know me or have read my previous posts about her sleeping habits know that this was a major mommy moment for me. After standing beside the crib and rubbing her belly for about half an hour, I was finally able to sneak back across the hall and climb into my own bed.

And that, apparently, is where the Mister stepped in.

(I would like to clarify that I had no knowledge of this event, and if I had, I would have filmed it and sent the footage to America’s Funniest Home Videos. It’s the world’s loss that I was passed out unconscious in a baby-induced coma. But I digress.)

The Mister got up to check the thermostat after I was asleep and heard a very loud, very obnoxious bird singing in the bushes right outside Roo’s nursery window near the crib. Sleep-deprived and not about to potentially endure another two hours of baby crying, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

So, pulling on his heavy-duty work boots (which nicely compliment the T-shirt and gym shorts he sleeps in) and arming himself with a broom, he crept into the backyard and around the side of our garage.

Sneaking up to the nursery window – the wary bird now silent – the Mister took aim and began to beat those bushes mercilessly with the broom.

In our front yard…

In his pajamas…

At 2:30 in the morning.

Apparently, the bird wasn’t in the first bush he attacked, and so he moved on to the second and was quickly rewarded with a completely panicked bird scrambling out of the branches and fleeing for its life.

He then came back inside, calmly put his boots and broom back in their places, and climbed into bed as if he had not just attacked our landscaping like a deranged crazy person in the middle of the night.

I cannot think about this scene without cracking up. I’ve been bursting into seemingly spontaneous fits of tearful laughter all day long. I would have paid good money to have been awake for this.

But, alas, I – and, thankfully, Roo – slept on, completely unaware of the heroic lengths to which our devoted husband and father will go to save us from the horrors of ill-timed birdsong.

(Rest in peace, noisy bird, which I’m sure went off somewhere and had a heart attack shortly after.)

Ghost Music

I can hear it in my head. Constantly. Looping over and over and over like a bad record. I don’t know if it comes from the musical teddy bear or the plastic aquarium that plays lullabies or the singing cow… but it haunts me.

This tune, this plinking melody that plays when my child hits the buttons on one of her musical toys… it’s everywhere.

I can sit in a quiet room, and I still hear it. I know nothing is turned on and the baby is asleep and there is no music playing… but I still hear it. The notes float in the empty air and swirl around my head until I’m singing the whole thing line by line, even though I have no idea what it is.

It’s the same with the screaming. Any time the Mister takes over baby-duty and lets me go take a nap, I can still hear the screaming. Even when there is no screaming and there hasn’t been any screaming that day and the baby is actually asleep on his chest… I’ll be lying in our room with the door closed, and I can hear her screaming.

It’s all a bit frightening, really. Like a soundtrack I can’t turn off.

It gets especially good when she manages to turn on more than one singing toy at a time and two or three melodies are mixing together all at once in their strangely high-pitched baby-toy voices… that’s a really good way for a person to lose their mind.

Color matters

It’s probably not politically correct to say so, but there are times when the color of a thing really makes a big difference. There are just some prejudices I am not willing to give up, and this is one of them.

Take jellybeans, for instance.

Black jellybeans are better than white jellybeans. That’s just a simple fact of life. (And those of you who think otherwise just have a warped sense of reality, I’m sorry.)

In fact, almost any color jellybean is better than a white jellybean. White jellybeans are almost always coconut, and if they aren’t coconut then they are something equally revolting, like buttered popcorn.

Once, when I was 13, a friend brought me a massive five-pound bag of jellybeans for my birthday, and my best friend and I spent a large chunk of our sleepover sorting them: colored beans back in the bag, white beans (and suspicious, possibly white beans) in the trash. Just to be safe.

The only exceptions to this rule are the larger, pure-sugar jellybeans that are usually an off-brand. They only come in five or six flavors, and the white ones are pineapple, so those are acceptable. But small, normal bean-shaped jellybeans? Coconut. Unacceptable.

And actually, I try really hard to avoid coconut in all forms. Jellybeans, cakes, cookies, soaps, lotions, perfumes…. it lurks everywhere. I’ve even gone so far as to tell people I am allergic to coconut just so they will be sure not to include it in anything. (It wouldn’t kill me… but I would probably wish that it had.)

Besides, have you ever noticed how a coconut cake always looks like it’s covered in fingernail clippings?

(See, I ruined it for you, too, didn’t I? You’ll never be able to un-see that. You’re welcome.)

 

We’re gonna miss this

Roo is three and a half months old now, and I am amazed every day by how fast the time has already flown. She’s halfway to trying pureed foods, one fourth of the way to her first birthday, and I’ve already started to picture the day I take her to her kindergarten classroom.

We’ve had some really bad nights of zero sleep and lots of tears shed by everyone, but even in those moments, when I’m trying to doze off in the rocking chair because she refuses to be put in her own bed, I hear that song “You’re gonna miss this” playing in my head.

It goes like this:

She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaining, saying “I can’t wait to turn eighteen”
She said “I’ll make my own money, and I’ll make my own rules”
Momma put the car in park out there in front of the school
She kissed her head and said “I was just like you”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It’s a nice place”
She says “It’ll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Five years later there’s a plumber workin’ on the water heater
Dog’s barkin’, phone’s ringin’
One kid’s cryin’, one kid’s screamin’
She keeps apologizin’
He says “They don’t bother me
I’ve got two babies of my own
One’s thirty six, one’s twenty three
Huh, it’s hard to believe, but
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
(Song by Trace Adkins)
I’ll be sitting there, in that rocking chair I originally, foolishly thought we wouldn’t need, approaching three hours of rocking a baby who refuses to sleep, and I tell myself how much I’m going to miss that warm weight on my shoulder as she snuggles in and clutches my shirt, my hair, my glasses and anything else she can reach. I may be exhausted, but she won’t always be this small.
When I start to think she’s too heavy and my back hurts so badly, I try to tell myself that someday too soon she’ll walk on her own and learn that big girls don’t get carried around by their mommies. I may be in pain, but she won’t always fit in my arms.
This week we got some major snow (for the south, anyway), and my office was closed for four unexpected days while the roads were cleared. I got five days (including the Martin Luther King holiday) with my baby girl that she would have otherwise spent in childcare, and I loved every minute of it. Even those minutes when I was too tired to walk in a straight line, and there were some of those too.
There were things I needed to do that I should have done and things that I wanted to do that I could have done, but I didn’t. Because that warm weight was asleep in my arms, clutching my shirt, and how do you put that down?
Even now, she’s too big to lay comfortably across my lap like she did as a newborn and her head doesn’t fit below my chin the way it used to. I don’t notice the day-to-day growth, but it dawns on me in leaps and bounds sometimes.
I decided the laundry will always need washing and the house will always be dirty, but she won’t always want to sleep on my chest, so we did that instead.
When we first came home from the hospital, I burst into tears because I didn’t feel that instant, overwhelming, all-consuming love at first sight that everyone tells you you should have when your baby is born. I thought that meant I might never love her properly. But you know what? That passes. And boy, does it pass.
(I promise all my posts from now on won’t be this sappy, and this is actually not the original path I intended to take, but it sort of had a mind of its own.)

The Mommy Chronicles

So my last post was on September 18, and I was tired of being pregnant but was trying to accept whatever timetable the baby might have and let her come in her own time.

Well, it turns out that time was only 11 days after that post, which also explains my absence over the last month.

We’re parents!! Somehow, just like that. And let me tell you, it did not happen in any way described in any article about what labor will be like. If you are reading this as an expectant mother let me tell you, if you start having rhythmic nerve pain in your lower back that comes and goes like a contraction but may or may not be accompanied by abdominal contractions, that’s called back labor and it’s a real thing. Go get checked out. I was in intense pain for two days and even went to the hospital Thursday night, where they told me I wasn’t truly in labor, but I was. And Roo arrived Friday evening after a night of sleeping in the bathtub and a frantic morning trip to my doctor, who sent me back to the hospital to be admitted immediately. 

Roo (who does have a real name, but I’m not going to publish it here for her own privacy), arrived at 5:37 p.m., September 29, at 6 lbs 14 oz and 20.5 inches long. There have been so many things to tell since she made her grand debut, and I regret that I don’t have the time or the energy to write about them all, but anyone who has ever had children will understand the struggle, I’m sure. 

There was the moment when the nurse handed me Roo’s hospital discharge papers and the signature line said “parent signature” and it took me several moments to realize that meant ME! 

There was the invention of the phrase “fart bullet” the first time she shot baby poop across the room (unfortunately I do have to specify the “first time” because it has happened more than once). 

There was introducing her to the puppies, who have taken very different opinions of her, and not the ones we expected. Lucy, who we thought would love her instantly, isn’t really interested and doesn’t pay her much attention. Meera, who we worried about, is totally in love with her and wants to be right next to her at all times. On the rare occasions the dogs sleep inside (they are outdoor dogs now) Meera will come get me every time Roo makes any noise… which is well-intentioned but also very annoying, since Roo is a very noisey baby and it usually means nothing. She will definitely be the guard dog who makes sure nobody ever messes with her baby girl. 

I am forever grateful to the village of people who have helped us in these first weeks, whether by staying with us, bringing food, watching Roo so I can leave the house or just by talking me through the hard days and reassuring me that I am not a failure of a mother because I haven’t accomplished all the things the online articles say you should do with your infant each day.  

Post-partum struggles are real. Lean on your village. I’ll be back when I can. 

Oh, what’s in a name?

I’ve never been very good about permanent decisions. I had a full-blown panic attack shortly after I got engaged, and my mother had to make me breathe into a paper bag.* I was nauseous the entire night and morning before the Mister and I got married.* I cried after finding out I was pregnant.* I’ve had buyer’s remorse for basically everything I’ve ever purchased over $15, even when I compared prices and styles and tried it on or tested it out and thought about it for days beforehand. Even getting my hair cut is an agonizing decision. I’m just not good with things that can’t be changed immediately (or ever).

One of the things that falls into this category: naming our child.

Since my last post, the Mister and I have found out we’re having a little girl! It was a bit of a shock at first, since we’d thoroughly convinced ourselves we were going to have a boy, but now we are fully on board and excited about welcoming our daughter.

We’ve actually had a girl’s name picked out and agreed upon for years, but since finding out that we are, in fact, actually having a girl, so many other possibilities have presented themselves that now we’re knee-deep in baby names with no foreseeable way out.

What if we pick a name and it doesn’t seem to suit her? What if we love a name and the nurse fills out the paperwork and we introduce her to her new family… and then the next day we wake up and decide it’s not very good at all and we want to go with something else?

I can’t just change my child’s name at age 7 because I suddenly found something I wish I had used instead.

I really shouldn’t be trusted with this decision.

Although, that being said, the decision is completely up to us, and we like it that way. People always gasp in surprise when I tell them we won’t be announcing the baby’s name until she arrives. There are lots of people who don’t share the name or even the gender beforehand, so it’s really not that unusual, but we have four reasons for this:

  1. We’re going to change our minds. A lot. And we might not even know her name when she gets here.
  2. I don’t like monogrammed things.
  3. I want to introduce her to her grandparents and extended family when she arrives, so her name will be a surprise for them too.
  4. The Mister and I want to decide on a name that we love together for reasons of our own and not be talked into or out of a particular name based on the (often unsolicited) opinions of other people.

So tell me, how did you and your significant other come up with your baby’s name(s)? Did you use a baby name book? Your favorite movie? Did you pull scrabble titles out of a bag and use whatever you could make from them? Let me know your strategies!

*Important footnote: This doesn’t imply I thought these things were bad ideas or that I wasn’t sure about the decision. I’m just not good with things I won’t be able to spontaneously change later.