An Open Letter to Baby Jammies with Snaps

Dear Baby Jammies with Snaps,

Hi. Not sure if you remember me, but we met a few nights ago in the nursery. It was 1 a.m., the baby was screaming and we were both covered in poop. In the soft glow of the cool-mist humidifier, I squinted at you in desperate exhaustion, muttering words so ugly even the white noise machine couldn’t drown them out. I threw you defiantly into the hamper.

You are a tricky one. Has anyone ever mentioned you’re kind of complex and vindictive? I mean, you lure unsuspecting moms and dads into your non-sensical clutches using the SOFTEST materials and the CUTEST patterns that no decent person can resist. Yet you fail to mention your fastener system is an archaic mind game. You stand boldly next to your zippered counterparts, (who, I might add, are clearly a more evolved pajama species), shamelessly promoting yourself with nary a disclaimer. So, we give in. We buy you.

And for a while, the arrangement works. We take you home, wash you in dye- and fragrance- and everything-free detergent, and place you in a closet full of teeny-tiny clothing. Your debut comes shortly thereafter when we lovingly select you, (yes you!) to clothe our small offspring after evening bathtime.

But then things go downhill. Because, you see, infants poop at night, the rascals that they are, which requires their clumsy, sleep-deprived parents to rouse themselves and initiate a series of activities that rivals the most advanced NASCAR pit crew maneuver. Late-night diaper changes require a truly unfair combination of hand-eye coordination, fine-motor skills and patience. Parents have none of those things, and you require all of them. It’s a match made in a dark, dark place.

The idea that anyone is capable of fastening a series of tiny snaps in the dark, on no sleep, while navigating a petite tsunami of bodily fluids AND singing a lullaby is ludicrous. You might as well suggest I bake a cake, blindfolded, while steering a cruise ship. There is no logic or positive outcome in either scenario.

Inevitably, I mismatch your parts in the awkward dance of dressing a squirming baby. No matter how many times I try, I always end up with an extra piece on one leg without a matching fastener. I unsnap and resnap and STILL CANNOT WIN. The third failed attempt causes me to surrender, meekly. I put my child back to bed with a ridiculous, gaping hole in her jammies where I quite literally could not make ends meet.

So unfortunately we’ve reached the end of our relationship. I wish it didn’t have to come to this; I’d love you to be part of our jammie repertoire, but you aren’t willing to be more accomodating and frankly I’m exhausted. You’re cute, but you’re impractical, like the college boyfriend whose only method of transportation is a Vespa, so it’s time we parted ways.

Sincerely,

Jessica

I was a square peg, repeatedly dive bombing into the round hole of motherhood.

I got “the text” today. The one you check for obsessively when a friend nears her due date. A chaotic, “water broke-this many centimeters-I’m so tired-yay for epidurals” text.

I read her words and tried to imagine what she was feeling, mentally returning to the day Lila was born, and it’s funny how much time edits history. Given a little distance to recover, I can start to believe the hard parts weren’t that hard, that the icky details were no big deal. I love that about the mind and human spirit.

In those early newborn days, clueless and emotional, I struggled. I wanted clear answers to unclear things, advice that would absolutely work, and sleep—oh, how I wanted sleep. There was once a three-day period where I didn’t sleep for more than a half hour consecutively, and things got downright ugly.

I had a million questions and a million more fears, despite the layers of kindness and support surrounding me. I was a square peg, repeatedly dive bombing into the round hole of motherhood. But, as with most changes, a new normal gradually evolved. What was foreign became routine, and fears grew into confidence. There have been (and still are) many ups and downs, sandwiched between laughter and tears.

Something that helped me when I was struggling the most was consciously accepting that my feelings were allowed, even when they were unpleasant. Not wallowing, but also not judging myself for what I felt. Because, well, it’s hard enough to feel bad; when you don’t feel justified about feeling bad, it’s even worse.

Reassurance and acceptance are empowering, even in the simplest forms. Just to hear, me toothis is normal or, you’ll be ok. Thanks to everyone who has been along for the ride. It’s now my privilege to pay it forward to my friend and her newborn bundle, who arrived safe and sound this afternoon.

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10 Valid Reasons the Baby Thinks I’m a Creep

Babies are fascinating for all kinds of reasons, none more prevalent than the fact that they can’t tell us what they’re thinking. When my daughter learns to speak, I’m pretty sure she’ll have some direct feedback about they way things go down at our house, and what she wishes I would do differently. Like, for example, when I forgo heating her bottles, inflicting a gnarly baby head rush with cold milk. She’d also probably let me know that all kinds of things I do every day are completely creepy from her perspective. Here are all the ways I’m confident I creep her out on the daily.

1. I watch her sleep. All the time. I know video monitors are common, but imagine trying to fall asleep knowing you were being watched from afar.

2. I have a legitimate desire to eat her cheeks and toes. In fact, I refer to them as edible when I describe her. I read there’s actual science behind this maternal desire, but that doesn’t make it seem any better!

3. I have an innate interest in her poop. Frequency, color, you name it. 

4. I take pictures and videos of her obsessively. I have archives of images and video footage and it’s only been six months. You know in crime shows when the crazed serial killer has a massive wall collage of photos of their victim? That could be me, only in an adoring sense. And don’t get me started on the absurd noises I use to make her smiles for said photos.

5. I don’t always have the energy to shower. For this I know she judges me. I would be appalled if my caretaker neglected to bathe.

6. I taste-test all baby food before giving it to her. Come one, I know I’m not alone here. If I”m splurging for organic, I want to know it’s good.

7. Mom refers to herself in the third person.

8. Her carseat is rear-facing, so I have a mirror on the back-seat headrest so I can see her while I drive. 

9. I choose her outfits based on my own moods. A case of the Mondays usually means we trend toward grays, whereas Fridays are bright and saucy wardrobe days.

10. I speak on her behalf and make up complete nonsense. This would piss me off beyond belief if roles were reversed. “Mom’s a little fussy wussy today because she’s just sooo sleepy. She really needs a nap. I also think she needs to poop.”

A Serious Interview with my 6-Month-Old Baby

Sometimes I like to interview my baby. Because it’s funny. In case you missed our last intriguing  installment, find it here

Reporter: Is there anything that confuses you throughout your day? 

Lila: Here’s something crazy…sometimes when I wake up from a nap, I’m in a completely different place than where I fell asleep. It’s downright bizarre. It happens most often when I’m in my car seat, but it’s also occurred at home. Fall asleep on the couch…wake up in my crib…Fall asleep in mom’s arms…wake up in the crib…At first I thought I was going crazy, but after chatting with my friends at daycare, I’m convinced this happens as the result of some cosmic force that adults are immune to. 

Reporter: Where is the place you feel most content? 

Lila: There’s this lovely spa just down the hall from my nursery (mom and dad call it a bathroom because they don’t know any better). Anyhow, I go there every night for a calming soak and just adore their services. The staff gets upset when I poop in their jacuzzi, but isn’t that a nicer alternative to going in a diaper I then have to sit in for an hour? Exactly.

Reporter: If you could keep only five possessions, what would they be? 

Lila: Easy…my penguin Wubbanub, the yellow blanket my grandma knitted for me, my swing, my hands and my toes. I love my hands and my toes. 

Reporter: What food that makes you the happiest: 

Lila: I’ve been enjoying solids for about two weeks now, so it’s safe to assume I’m a bit of a foodie. I like pears a lot. And this mango-guava puree mom gave me. Oh! And carrots. LOVE liquefied carrots. You know what’s absolutely disgusting though? Peas. Who in their right mind eats that filth? Not this girl, that’s for damn sure. I threw them up all over myself and I liked it. 

Reporter: What are you reading these days?

Lila: Right now mom reads me a chapter of James and the Giant Peach while I have my bath each night. I’m not sure how to tell her this, but that book is kind of boring. There are hardly any illustrations and the words don’t rhyme so I typically just zone out and suck my fingers. I may strategically throw up on it so she’s forced to read me something more appealing. 

Reporter: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Lila: Ideally I’ll be in sixth grade, and President of the United States. I will have All The Toys and no longer take naps. 

Reporter: Are you more of an early bird or night owl? 

 Lila: I don’t discriminate. You bring the milk and I party any time, any place. This must be a genetic trait, because I’ve noticed that any time I’m awake, if I cry to get mom and dad’s attention, they come in because they’re awake too. We’re all on the same schedule which is super convenient. 

Reporter: What milestones fall into your current repertoire? 

Lila: Where to begin! These days I occasionally roll all the way from my back to my tummy, but mostly I just make it to my side. I am an all-star sitter and have grown quite skilled at holding objects and bringing them to my mouth. I can hold my own bottle and love smacking my hands on things. I smile pretty much all the time, unless I’m crying. I do not smile when I cry. I sleep in my crib now which was rough at first, but when I realized I no longer have to be swaddled (read: forced into a straightjacket), I was much more accommodating of my new sleep space. I like my high chair and my outdoor swing dad installed, and I hardly cried at my sixth-month shots last week because I am very brave and easily distracted with milk.

Opinions vs. Stories

It’s easy to tell someone your opinion. The hard work is in telling your story.

I can’t remember where I found this quote, but I love it. It sums up what I enjoy most about writing: the ability to share my truth, even if it scares me or makes me vulnerable.

There is beauty in this terrifying practice of truth telling. lately, the more I share around my own struggles and lessons in humility as a mom, the more I’ve been able to connect with others. And that connection–that feeling of knowing you’ve made someone else feel normal or ok–is so wonderfully inspiring.

Thank you to everyone who’s sent texts or comments or messages supporting my recent posts. Your feedback is the best possible reward.

Here we are, six months old.

Dear Lila,

It’s hard to believe you are six months old. That every day, for half a year, we’ve been blessed with your presence, nurtured your every need and been forever changed to the core.

You entered the world and we were clueless. Our love for you felt a little funny as we got to know you and gradually shed the clumsiness that surrounds new parents. We struggled. There were tears and short tempers and frantic Google searches. But now we are seasoned. We know you. Our lives have adapted to place you at the center and it’s not worth reminiscing about “before,” because any memory without you is somehow empty.

You are a delight. Your constant smiles light up your whole face and your shrieks and babbles are infectious. You are inquisitive and engaged, calmly absorbing your surroundings and eager to explore anything new. Watching you learn and grow is an exceptional privilege.

You make us laugh with your quizzical expressions and deep sighs. We have to work for giggles, but that sound is worth all the ridiculous effort.

You are our constant teacher. Of patience and sacrifice. Of joy and of fear.

You are growing and thriving and I thank God every day for you. Your health and happiness are sacred gifts for which We readily sacrifice our own. You’ve brought me to a place where prayer has new meaning; I feel the Holy Spirit in your presence.

Time goes so quickly, it’s true what they say. And the love for a child is so deep, so soul altering, that it subtly reminds you of the finality of moments. That certain things are finite and must be soaked up before they vanish. All the seemingly endless tasks — the monotonous chores we do again and again — will one day be memories. So we don’t dwell, and rather, we quietly embrace them as part of this journey.

We love you more than any words can explain, sweet girl, and thank you for all the joy you bring.

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10 Things I’ll Feel Ridiculous Explaining One Day

You think about this more when you have kids. You realize you’ll one day receive the same looks of wide-eyed shock you gave your own parents when they explained party lines, black-and-white television and smoking on airplanes.

1. Using a camera with film. Waiting for said film to be developed. At a store. Splurging for one-hour service.

2. Prank phone calls. Having a landline. Not having caller ID. Paying 75 cents to use *69.

3. Renting movies. VHS tapes. Having to (be kind and) rewind them or be fined.

4. Making mix tapes from the radio. Buying CDs in stores. Scratched discs (the horror).

5. Newspapers. For current events. Checking the weather. Stocks.

6. Writing checks. Traveler’s checks. Check registers.

7. Getting lost. Stopping at a gas station to ask for directions. Using a paper map.

8. Pay phones. Collect calls. Calling cards.

9. Roll-over minutes. Flip phones. Car phones. Pagers.

10. The TV Guide channel. The paper TV guide. Having to be home to watch your shows, with commercials.

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