In-Law Angst, in Pie Charts

You guys… I’m having a moment. I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting. I feel like I might be, but at the same time I find that when I am over-reacting to one thing, it means I’m actually reacting to something else entirely. I swear that makes sense.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
We asked my in-laws to baby sit Chick tonight. They’ve done this before, and it has gone mostly without incident. They usually pick him up a few hours early from daycare, drive over to our home, play, eat, then put him to bed. We’re often there around meal time, and walk them through any changes to his schedule or habits. Then we head out for a few hours to be grown-ups.
Yesterday, Mr. O mentioned he would be home when they arrived because his work schedule shifted. No big deal, just meant that they didn’t need extra keys. This was when they let us know they had no plans on taking him back to our house. Instead, they were going to drive the hour back to their house, play, eat, etc. there, then drive him to ours for bedtime.
This ruffles my feathers. I shall explore all the ways.
1) What the hell is wrong with my home?! It’s clean (ish.) It has all his toys. It has his high chair, a changing table, extra sets of clothes, pj’s, his lovey… You know, all the “stuff” that makes looking after a tiny person less crazy. We’re not in a bad part of town. We’re near parks that they could play at. I repeat: what is wrong with my home?
2) What the hell is so great about their home?! There house is… okay, I’ll say it and sound super judgey… cluttered. I’m 99.9% positive Mr. O’s dad has hording tendencies, so it’s sometimes really difficult to maneuver their space. Their house is also not baby proof. That’s fine because they don’t have a baby- I’m not expecting them to cover every single damn outlet. But then why are you bringing my highly mobile, curious child over to your house?
3) What the hell is wrong with Chick’s home?! It takes him a while to warm up, that’s even when Mr. O and I are with him. He is being picked up by two people who aren’t his usual caregivers, then being taken to an environment that is still fairly new to him. (He’s been over there perhaps a total of 6 times since birth.) Perhaps I have mentioned it, but Chick is a bit reserved. As in, when he is in new places, he hangs back a while until he is comfortable. I think this whole thing will stress him out and I worry about how he’ll react. I just do, okay?
4) This strikes me as just plain stupid. Why are they driving a hour out of the city, only to drive an hour back into the city on a Friday night? That’s a lot of car time for Chick in one day. Not to mention that he’ll likely fall asleep on the car ride home, then they’ll have to attempt to transfer him to his crib which may or may not result in a baby waking up and not going down for another hour while he cries and thrashes around because he is tired. (Aside: I’ve always found it amazing that tired babies don’t just go to sleep, but you know… babies be crazy.)
5) When were they going to tell us that this was their plan? The only reason Mr. O and I know about this is because he called them to say that they wouldn’t need a key. Otherwise I don’t think we would have known at all. This bothers me. If you’re going to be doing something that falls outside his or our normal routine, I would like to know first.
6) My hunch is that they are going back to their house because Mr. O’s dad has developed pretty serious social anxiety problems. If it isn’t in his house, he is not comfortable. If we don’t go out to eat in one of a handful of restaurants he approves of, he is not comfortable. And he usually expresses his discomfort by generally being a sour puss and lashing out at others. Look, I’ve struggled with anxiety myself, so I know that this shit is real and hard and disruptive. But at the same time, you can’t allow one person to control an entire situation. This feels like yet another way that his love and support comes with conditions. He’ll look after Chick as long as it is under his terms– not Chick’s.
That’s a whole lot of feelings. They are not, however, all created equal. In order to weed through “all the feelings”, I provided myself you with this handy data visualization. Because that’s what I do.
my-feelings

Nerdy? Perhaps. But also remarkably clarifying. 

Now that I’ve spewed a bit, I assure you I haven’t gone complete rabid-mama-bear on the situation. They are doing us a big favor by baby sitting. They aren’t doing anything I think is unsafe or dangerous. Which is why I didn’t freak out and say “Heeeelllll noooo” to this plan when I heard about it.
But…
It all just sits with me wrong, you know? I am starting to realize that I need to articulate my expectations to them for when they care for Chick. Any of you had luck navigating the grandparent-baby sitting minefield?

Mini-Post: Post-Weekend

I just got back from a long weekend attending a wedding back in my hometown. It was lovely. The wedding, I mean. The drama that inevitably erupts anytime I attempt to spend time with my family was categorically un-lovely. Do you people have functional families?  Anyone? Bueller?

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Those with normal families raise your hands!

A few things I am left with:

  1. I love my child, but holy shit I cannot look after him full time. He is getting too big to manhandle but still wants to be held by me and only me. My back is killing me, and I have BITE MARKS. Yes, this is Chick’s latest way of expressing that he is tired. I mean, I get cranky when I’m sleepy but biting is not okay. Like ever. Today, I never felt better about dropping him off at daycare.
  2. After a weekend in small town/suburbia, I want to buy a house. Bad. I have loved city living for the past 15 years, but I need a nest to call my own. Also realized that moving out West is likely not happening soon, for other reasons I won’t go into now. Good reasons, like an impending promotion. In the meantime, I yearn for a yard.
  3. Came back to a job a generally love, but man… its days like this I wish I were an archivist at a tiny presidential library for someone no one cares about, like James Polk or Chester Arthur. I want to retreat into my brain and have no one talk to me for a few days. The bonus of being surrounded by dusty books and handling antiquities with care… swoon.

20 minutes and counting…

I have 20 minutes between meetings, and I will not spend that checking emails or planning out the rest of my day. No, I will spend it attempting to update you all on my liiiiiiife.

Here’s what’s been going on:

  1. Last weekend I threw a 25 anniversary party for my in-laws. To abbreviate a very long story, Mr. O and I were emotionally blackmailed into throwing this and I did 90% of the work. (Nope. Not bitter. Not one tiny bit.) I spent the last month or so running around picking up decorations, planning the menu, and other logistics. It went off okay (because TRAFFIC meant we got there after everyone else and were setting up while every one stood around watching.) I thought it was nice, and almost all the guests who attended said we did a lovely job. You know who hasn’t said that? MY IN-LAWS. The same in-laws who refused to help with our baby shower. Sometimes they baffle me.
  2. I have stopped pumping at work as of Monday. I tapered like a pro, I think in large part for myself than for Chick. Because I am a weirdo, I brought my pump equipment “just in case”, and it sung its demented siren song on my desk ALL DAY. But I resisted the urge and I now have massive chunks of my day back. Is it strange to say I miss it? Not the pumping (flanges can f*ck themselves!) but I do miss taking time out of my day every day to think about something else, or just breathe. Or binge watch Netflix shows.
  3. Good friends who have been trying to get babied for almost 3 years are pregnant with twins. My heart swells with joy for them. I wonder if this is what healing looks like, as I have felt zero pangs of sadness/envy/any of the other icky feelings I used to feel about pregnancy announcements.
  4. Got into it big time on Facebook about gendered baby clothes. A friend got pissed that the Ghostbusters shirt for boys was just the logo, while the one for girls said “In Training.” #lame Of course, this got me all ranty about how gendered clothes for kids are and I went a little nuts… See,  if you dress a boy in a pink shirt, people get hella uncomfortable. I do think we’ve taken some strides (some tiny teeny strides) at allowing girls to like pink and also dinosaurs. If you put a little boy in something blue with unicorns on it? Wait…. I can’t find boy t-shirts with unicorns on them. As a feminist raising a feminist, this annoys the SHIT out of me because we’re implying that it is okay for little girls to blend being feminine with traditional masculine traits or interests, but boys can’t do the same because being “girly” is bad. Or literally not an option. I don’t mean to imply that the crap going on in the girls clothing departments of America is the same. Systemic sexism is a real thing and it disproportionately impacts women from the day we are born. [shakes angry fists in the air] To combat that, we need to attack this problem from both sides, allowing girls and boys to be brave, kind, and courageous. No one gender should corner the market on those traits. I do worry that my tendency to frame this up as “What Sucks in Little Boys Fashion” takes away from the real bullshit in girls choices. I don’t want to co-opt the conversation, but at the same time I find the challenge of raising a feminist son real and one I wasn’t entirely prepared for.
  5. Chick took his first steps! He is 14 months, and of course I was just starting to worry that his relative lack of mobility meant *something.* As usual, he took his first tiny leap forward just as I was about to google. Chick still prefers crawling since it is a lot faster, but still… he is on his way. I revel in watching him grow and learn new things. It’s like magic or something.

And like that, my 20 minutes are up. The whirlwind of life continues.

VIDEO: Embarrassed

So yeah… I’ve never felt embarrassed to breastfeed in public. I always figured my kid needed feeding so I was going to get the job done. That’s my job as Chick’s parent– you know, make sure he doesn’t starve.

However…

I have felt amused when a couple sitting next to me asked to be reseated when I was nursing my child.

I have felt angry when creepy frat boys tried to get a peak at my boob when I was nursing my child.

I have felt profoundly uncomfortable when a man sitting across from my table at a restaurant stared at me while I was nursing my child. (Just yesterday, my friends.)

Though there are parts of this video that I don’t entirely agree with (the formula thing, for example, can be more complicated than a 3 minute clip allows), I do appreciate the central question: In a culture that puts breast on every other billboard and splashes them indiscriminately on magazine covers at the super market check out… Can’t we just get over breastfeeding in public?

Requiem for a Breakfast Sandwich

This weekend…

It was baaaaad, y’all.

I suppose you could say that it all started Friday afternoon. I’m fortunate enough to work on a team that has something called “Summer Fridays” where we leave around noon every Friday until the end of August. It’s lovely. In my previous non-baby days, I would get an iced coffee and stroll. Maybe get home by 3:00 and take a nap.

So far this summer I have spent them manically doing whatever it is that I can’t manage to accomplish during the week. These things include cooking, cleaning, putting away Chick’s old clothes, dropping things off at Goodwill… you get the picture. By the time dinner rolls around, I’m exhausted and twitchy.

This Friday was no different. I mopped the floors, sorted through some of Chick’s baby things to donate to a local family, and made dinner. Perhaps there is some lingering resentment because I remember how carefree these afternoons used to be. But I was not a happy ostrich by the end of the evening.

We put Chick down, and I read for about 20 minutes before falling asleep. At 4:15 am, Chick woke up crying. No, make that wailing. So I went in, reacquainted him with his pacifier and lovey, and went back to bed. This kid knows how to self-soothe. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I had no idea what his damage was. And yet, the crying continues. On and off for TWO HOURS. Either Mr. O or I checked on him periodically to make sure nothing horrible was happening. At 6:30 am, I said “Screw it.” and took him into bed with us where he thrashed around for another hour until we admitted defeat.

I was a zombie the whole morning. I bitched out the utility worker who asked me to move my car because he needed to do construction, and proceeded to bitch out every living creature I came into contact with. In a fit of frustration, I actually punched my breakfast sandwich. That happened.

On our list of to-dos that morning were going to the farmers market and opening a checking account for Chick– we needed somewhere  to officially put his birthday money, rather than just hiding it in our mattress.

The farmer’s market was hot and sticky. We got a late start, so missed the baby-friendly drumming circle at 10. Though I love our farmer’s market, I also sorta hate the process because I’m usually doing the actual shopping. Mr. O sits back with Chick in a stroller while I decide what we’re eating for the week and (wo)man-handle the produce.

After this, we go to the bank to open the account. I will spare you the gory details, only to say that this took an hour and a half to do. At first, I was pleasant with the banker since it was her first time setting up an account for a minor. Then Chick started to fuss. Then she kept trying to get me to sign up for ancillary services I didn’t need. Then Chick freaked the f*ck out. Then I became surly.

Once at home, we all ate lunch and then all took a much needed nap. (Aside: There are few things sweeter than napping with a baby.)

In the afternoon, we installed Chick’s new car seat and did a few other home-related stuff. I harrumphed a little because the day felt like such a let down. Mr. O felt it was a success because we “got shit done.”   

The next day was a little better. We went to a fellow one year old’s birthday, where there was a pool. Chick was the most adorable, loved playing in the water with a bright red ball. For that fleeting 30 minutes, I was light. Watching his little face light up when we tossed the ball toward him, or when he splashed in the water… I don’t know how to explain it other than to say I was grateful to that family for inviting us to their kid’s birthday so we could have a few minutes as a family just being happy.

Idyllic.

And then we went back to reality.

Folks, I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m not happy. I don’t get how other people do this. Why can’t I just hold on to that 30 minutes at the pool and build my life around that? Instead, I feel the collective weight of the dirty floors, the chores, the inept bank tellers, the meals that need to be made, the unending cycle of the STUFF that needs to be done or our little family can’t function.

Earlier, I picked a fight with Mr. O where I was nitpicking what he spends money on each week. It was a total dick move on my part. I don’t know where it came from, but it wasn’t a color that looked good on me. After we cooled down, I sat in the living room crying because I just don’t enjoy anything anymore.

I feel like I’m drowning. In the last few weeks, I’ve had trouble eating. I’ll be in the middle of a meal, and I’m all of a sudden just off my food. I kept thinking that this would go away once I was past Chick’s first birthday and a big project launch at work. But that was weeks ago, and I still feel like I’m on an hamster wheel.

I punched a sandwich, for Christ sake. Not everyone resorts to abusing breakfast foods because they’ve got shit to do.

I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed

So I didn’t get the job.

Before you offer your condolences, I’m okay with it. Sorta. More along the lines of “You broke up with me before I could break up with you.” Ultimately, I knew I wouldn’t take the job, but no one likes to feel rejected. It is, in fact, only the 3rd time ever I have interviewed for a job and not received an offer. This feeling is weird, but I’ll get over it. (This is just me stating facts, haters.)

I found out I didn’t get the job the same week as my birthday. For the first time EVER, I was not looking forward to my birthday and that’s odd. I’m usually all into my birthday because I am awesome and like to take at least one day a year to celebrate said awesomeness.

Instead I spent the day in back-to-fricking-back meetings, doing double duty on pick-up and drop off because Mr. O had a haircut after work, then bitching him out because he didn’t actually wish me Happy Birthday until I reminded him it was my birthday… at 8:00 pm.

Then I cried. Then Chick fell and hit his head. And we both cried.

My birthday present to myself was a historic tour 5K. (#runningnerdalert) We were supposed to do it as a family– me, Mr. O, and Chick in the stroller. I was all set, but Mr. O fell ill so he stayed home with Chick. Instead of the family run I had been hoping for, I was going solo.

On my way to the meeting point (alone) I thought:

I’m just tired of being disappointed.

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#sadturtle

That’s where I’m at these days. I’m disappointed in so many things, I can’t even begin to list them (and we know how I love lists.) Nothing is out and out terrible any more –infertility and death of a loved one have a strange way of putting things in perspective. But I’m left with this general residue of severe let-down-ed-ness. And I don’t think I have been asking the Universe for too much. Honestly.

A few years ago at Christmas, my family requested a list of things I wanted as gifts. This has been a contentious issue for years– my family is notoriously cheap so you can’t recommend anything over $20 which is tricky because if I see something I want that is under 20 bucks, I’ll just buy it my damn self. Anyway… I spent a lot of time coming up with a few ideas that I wanted, needed, and magically came in around budget.

I had asked for a pair of black gloves and a Stevie Wonder CD. Instead I got a pair of socks from my brother, a book of poetry (by my dad’s favorite poet) from my parents, and a statement necklace from the J. Crew sale rack from my sister. Oh, and I also got the gift of white hot rage, because I was pissed. Why ask what I want when you’re just going to get me what you want anyway?! Then I felt horrible because I also felt ungrateful.

Because on top of feeling disappointed that my life right now is not what I would like it to be, I also feel immensely guilty for not being grateful. I have a good job, a roof over my head, a mostly decent spouse when he remembers not to be an idiot on my birthday… I look down at Chick and am filled with a wee bit of self loathing because he doesn’t make up for all the short-comings. It took me ages to have this baby, shouldn’t he just wipe away all my cares and woe? (Um, no… because it is uncool for a parent to make their child responsible for all the happiness in the world. Or at least that is what I tell myself for feeling like a bad person when Chick isn’t the only reason my day is awesome/shit.)

Should I pull an Oprah and list out my gratitude? That’s a little too Shiny Happy People for me… Besides, I’ve always hated this exercise because it seems to imply that if you have anything to be grateful for, you magically shouldn’t care about all the serious crappy things going on.

Good things in life don’t erase the bad ones. They just add to the texture.