Tag Archives: parenting

The Mortal Coil

For the first time in several years, I didn’t ponder my own mortality on my birthday. Well, I’m lying, in that I had a moment, late in the day, in which I wondered out loud if I’ve passed the midpoint of my life at age 44. Susanne is confident I’m still in the first half, but in any case, there was a small reminder that life is fleeting and best implemented with enthusiasm. To put it more precisely than I did in the first sentence of this post, I didn’t get all morose about aging and dying, which is good, because I don’t generally walk around spouting off nihilistic prophecy. Though some of my birthdays in the last decade have been a bit—ahem—neurotic.

Emile enjoying cherries straight from the tree.Two days after my birthday, a good friend and also my past and Susanne’s current physical therapist brought a huge balloon and a strawberry-rhubarb pie to the house to wish me a bon anniversairie. She apologized profusely (so Susanne tells me; I wasn’t home at the time) for being tardy, but Tuesday had just been too hectic of a day and she couldn’t get to it, and she hoped it wasn’t too awful of her to be belated about the whole thing. Who would be a stickler for dates when pie is involved? Seriously.

Emile of course was gaga over the balloon, which was transparent except for the rainbow-colored HAPPY BIRTHDAY and a giant rainbow cupcake. He exclaimed that there was CAKE on the balloon, pointing at it more like a professional hunting dog and not so much in a “J’accuse!” way. He also wanted possession of the balloon. I was willing to go along with this until he insisted on bringing it outside and releasing it into the gorgeous blue late spring sky, and then I grappled with my 2-year-old to get it back in the house. It now hovers above our mantle, the silver ribbon cutting through the middle of our family portrait as the balloon gently jostles around. Emile seems to have made some kind of peace with just being able to look at daddy’s present. Read More…

It’s Week 22 and I Haven’t Blogged About the Next Offspring

pacifiers with skulls and crossbonesLet me just come right out and say a couple of things: I love you, unborn second child. I know we often refer to you as a parasitic fetus, but we did that during the first pregnancy too, and look, we’re really super nice to Emile, so it is totally not a sign that we’re unexcited about you. But for my second point, I have to say, I’m sorry. I should have plastered your photos from the ultrasounds all over the Internet by now, and I haven’t. I should have written at least nine blog posts wondering what kind of person you’re going to be someday, and here we are, more than halfway through the gestation process, and here is blog post number one.

In my defense, little fetus, I’ve got a lot more confidence this time around, and if you look at the litany of blogging I did before Emile was born, a lot of the content was really about my insecurity. I wasn’t even sure before Emile if I could effectively swaddle a newborn. Boy was that a non-event!

Also, Emile took a lot of doing and a series of rejiggered logistics to get conceived. We racked up the fertility visits, invoices, sperm donors, and awkward conversations with medical personnel in the 18 months it took us from getting started to getting knocked up. You got all zygotey on attempt number one! You didn’t give me any time to sweat about it, fetus. Where’s the drama in getting what you want when you want it? That’s not going to get a lot of blog attention, you know? Read More…

Pool of Leaves

susanne and emile in poolIn two weeks, Emile will turn 2. He and I have been enjoying parent/child swim class at the Walla Walla YMCA since he was a scant six months, so if I do the math (fine, it’s easy math), Emile has been in a twice-a-week swim class for about 18 months now. When we first started out, I had a bit of anxiety about a few swim class-related issues, including

  • If people would notice my chest scars (they don’t because they’re too busy staring at how cute Emile is)
  • If I would slip and fall on the wet floor while holding the baby
  • If the baby would drown or contract some horrible, chlorine-resistent bacteria that started the next zombie apocalypse
  • If the baby would take a dump in the pool in front of everyone

I grant that some of these are less probable than others, and that nearly all of them are ridiculous. But hey, they were my fears, don’t judge. Read More…

Parental Skill Sets: Action Interpretation

Our 17-month-old has been babbling since before his first birthday, with the initial declaration of “Hi!” one day when I went to greet him in the morning, the both of us freshly awake. He’d been standing in the corner of his crib, and he gave me a wave as he said it, which made me think that I know plenty of 30-somethings who never achieve the synchronicity of those two actions, and here he’s doing it at ten months.

Emile touching a playground bouncy horse

Since then his verbiage has unleashed on us like a wide pipe, flowing out during nearly ever waking moment. Often the words are garbled or an approximation of the words adults use — his tongue and mouth have some more forming to do, so things like Ss, the “th” sound in English, and words that end in “age” or “ege” are his biggest challenges. One of Emile’s favorite objects is a black spatula, which he pronounces as “zhezhi,” and the only reason I know zhezhi means “spatula” is because he’ll hold up the object and say the word, and point. Yes, I’ve tried repeating the word “spatula” to him, but he has yet to get that enunciation under his belt. Read More…

Baby-Induced Super Powers

sleep deprived dad in crib with babyWe know the story because it is so very cliche and common: two people have a baby and plummet into a world of sleep deprivation, regurgitation, dirty diapers, and near-constant wailing. Oh, those poor, poor new parents. We’re sure they need to know more about the level of hell they’re about to inhabit, so we pet them gently on the shoulder and whisper, “Your life will never be the same.” We should take care, in the immediate aftermath of granting such unsolicited advice, to avoid the daggers they shoot out from their eye sockets, because I hear they are heat seeking and almost never miss.

What we don’t pay attention to, not nearly as much, are the tiny skills that caring for a new human bestow upon these exhausted parents. I have noted, in no apparent order, the following gifts that have careened into my lap since Emile’s birth nearly a year ago: Read More…

Swimming in Ridiculousness

baby swimming with pacifierA good friend who lives in chichi Northern Virginia described how parents jockey for their children’s position in educational institutions, taking a comprehensive assessment approach. They quizzed instructors, toured facilities, reviewed budgets of these organizations, and commiserated with parents of alumni, all before the enrollment advocacy began. As these things go, there are only so many available spaces, and many, many applicants.

Kindergarten is rough on parents.

To me, this was lunacy. Our friend weighed what seemed like perverse, contradictory goals: push for my child to go to the “best” primary school in the district, thus entering combat with other parental units who would fight to blood to get their kid in the most special kindergarten in Arlington, or opting  for what was considered a “less than” school where some of the pressure to excel would be removed. Certainly parents are told to push for only the best options when it comes to their offspring, but then shouldn’t we question what “best” means? And many a successful adult has come out of a mediocre school and/or rough childhood. Looking only for the highest ranked education and the most resource-laden home misses the point that often, people rise above their histories. People are more than the cumulative effect of tick marks on some bucket list of success.

Yes, I have my opinions. And to put things in context, this Virginia friend, the one who sent her daughter to the less desirable school? That school handed out iPads to every student. Such is life in the wealthy counties of the state. Read More…

Mother Surveillance

SNL spoof on tan mother from New JerseyWhen Susanne and I were still trying to get pregnant, we made an appointment to see a fertility specialist in Seattle, and were told that there was new paperwork to sign because the Federal rules had changed about informed consent and patient monitoring in light of the eight pregnancies Nadya Suleman had carried to term in California. Ms. Suleman was known more popularly as “Octomom,” and derided in the media as a bad mother even before the birth of the eight children, because she wanted to birth all of them (she did also have other children at that time, but this wasn’t mentioned, in what I read back then, as the reason for questioning her parental fitness). Eight embryos didn’t magically appear in her uterus–some health practitioner had to put them there (and in fact, 12 were transferred into her). Thus while the question of malpractice or medical negligence was brought up by some of the talking heads, most of the attention was focused solely on why a woman would even want to carry and care for that many children. And although the medical board in California investigated the practitioner and subsequently revoked his license, it wasn’t he who came away with a derisive nickname.

In context, the TLC show, Jon & Kate Plus Eight was getting great ratings and later, a reality show about the Duggers, who have 19 children in Arkansas, also started on the cable channel. Yes, Ms. Suleman has courted some of this attention, gracing the cover of Star Magazine to show off her body and dole out exercise advice. But that shouldn’t absolve people from mocking her every move. Read More…

Baby Baby Garbledygook

crying baby cartoonBaby experts and many parents have mentioned to us that Week 6 of babyhood is something of a nadir for new parents. The child’s night sleeping might be awful, dovetailing horribly with what is at that point moderate-term sleep loss for the caretakers. But bedrock being what it is, it’s also a sign that stress will soon lessen, life will feel somewhat easier, and soon enough, the baby will respond to coaching on sleep cycles and training.

Here is where I should mention that we have just entered Week 5. We’ve descended past chaos and stress and entered the realm of second guessing, especially now that we’re chronic participants in sleep loss. Whereas last week it was my foot-eye coordination, now some of my higher faculties are involved; I can’t do long division in my head right now, and yes, I double back on what I’ve learned about the baby thus far.

In some ways, this makes parenting more entertaining. Read More…

Awash in Swaddling Material

swaddled babyI suspect I’ve told too many people these last several months that I have concerns about being able to create a quality swaddle for our baby once it’s been born, because now I have something on the order of a dozen swaddles. If the sage green velcro-fastening fleece doesn’t work, there’s a stretchable muslin swaddler with little bees on it that all of the Who’s Who in LA are using for their little ones. If that one isn’t a good fit for our baby Houdini, then I have a broad blanket I can use, or an inspired-by-NASA breathable swath of material that one friend swears by. The only piece of equipment I seem to be lacking is an auto-swaddler, but I suppose it’s not sitting in our nursery because it doesn’t exist. Maybe I should file for a patent. Patents are all the rage right now. Read More…

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