One of the challenges of being a family of two mommies is making sure we''re doing our part to keep the world safe for Arden.
The way we choose to do this is through HRC. This year marks the year Erin and I attempt to start up an HRC family chapter...word on the street is we''ll plan 5 events for GLBT families and supporters. More on that as things evolve...
Anyhow usually I refer to Erin as "HRC''s Bitch" and me as a "HRC Widow". If you''re involved with HRC as a volunteer, committee or board member you know what I''m talking about.
Part of Erin''s job on the steering committee is to go to a yearly PTown retreat. Since we''re already paying for hotel and travel down to the cape I like to go. Of course Arden complicates it a bit....
We couldn''t leave early enough on Friday so that meant getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday when Arden woke up to nurse and then piling in the car for a three hour drive...or it would have been three hours if we weren''t traveling with a 5 month old who needed a break.....we did the drive in 4 hours…..Arden traveled like a champ, with just a few moments of protest at the end.
Then Erin was off and ensconced in meetings so Arden and I were off.... Now I don''t know what twist of fate gave us 50 degree weather in January on the beach but THANK YOU.
What a blast! We walked for a few hours just taking in the sights (mostly closed store fronts waiting for summer breath life back into them)and then I stopped at the beach behind Commercial Street and popped Arden out of her carriage and into the sand.
At first she wasn''t too impressed but then I put her hand into it....OH THE JOY! It was gritty...it was smooshy.... it was just wonderful wonderful stuff.....
I grabbed a few pictures... I think we''ll have to go to the beach this summer with her...
But Arden thought it was great.
On the way back from playing on the beach she fell asleep… and that my friends was the best nap of the weekend.
Do you feel our pain?
We joined the rest of HRC for a brief lunch and then Arden and I went into the room at the Crown and Anchor to catch some R&R time…which eluded us, or her rather, I could have slept standing up.
So we played with every toy we brought, read every book and counted down the seconds until Mommy joined us.
Normally I don''t drink coffee but when Erin came up off we went to the Wired Puppy for a latte...because, people, I was not going to make it through dinner without help.
We felt brave enough to take Arden to the formal dinner at the Marten House and she was a doll.
Watching everyone with her I felt very lucky that Arden has this many wonderful GLBT roll models in her life that just adore her. Parenting experiences were shared and future parenting hopes of other couples discussed. She was held and she was loved.
That alone is why we feel so strongly about working with HRC to make her growing up as positive as possible.
And after dinner?
... lets just say I should have had a double latte. Arden just couldn''t sleep for longer than two hours.... she''d wake up screaming...because she was TIRED and DAMN IT CRUEL WORLD….she wanted to sleep but couldn''t. She blamed us I believe….morning was a welcome event in my world.
Anyhow…..Future parenting plans of other HRC members might have been rethought if they were perhaps next door to us.
As we battle yet another cold with Arden I thought I’d write the definitive guide to cleaning your 5 month-old’s nose.
1. Grab saline, snot sucker, tissue.
2. Approach crusty nosed, mouth breathing, 5 month old child with quiet determination (hide snot sucker behind back)
3. Make appropriate funny faces (raspberries while crossing eyes highly recommended) engaging child with your sheer whit and intelligence
4. As child closes eyes while screaming with delight, quickly aim saline spray up nostril and squirt.
5. Mop up floor from missing the churning dervish that once was your child.
6. Repeat steps 2-4.
7. Apply ice to side of your head from hitting it on the TV stand because during step 4, child’s torso twist to the left when you had the spray lined up perfectly meant your upper body followed. The TV stand perversely stayed in place.
8. Repeat steps 2-4.
9. Try to console wailing child because this time step 4 worked (after performing the child between the knees while using free hand to direct head maneuver)
10. Quickly grasp snot sucker, bulb depressed and head for nasal area.
11. Lose grip when almost at target tiny nose when wailing child arches back and tries to hurl self off your lap.
12. Fetch snot sucker from under radiator.
13. Wash snot sucker to remove the 2 pounds of dog hair that apparently grows under radiator (make mental note to grab the vacuum and always clean under the radiator from that moment forward)
14. Approach now smiling child again, wimp out as lower lip starts to tremble at the sight of the snot sucker.
15. Sigh, pick up baby. Cuddle close, enamored of her show of affection as she borrows into your shoulder.
16. Tiny head lifts up, big grin.
17. You grin back, concede defeat.
18. Put baby in favorite toy while you put away saline, snot sucker and toss tissue.
19. Notice in bathroom mirror that shoulder previously occupied by baby is covered in large amounts of nasal mucous. Hear delighted squeals from the other room. Smile to self in the mirror, start dabbing at shoulder….what else can you say mission accomplished? Or perhaps...
This was written on my first business trip away from Arden - Dora
I have a beautiful view from my hotel room, the city of Chicago twinkles just off into the distance, rising out of the myriad of lights that make up a suburb and set against the onyx of night.
You’d love it. You’ve always loved lights and lately you’ve been fascinated with watching the backyard out the sunroom window. You get so excited just watching the birds or the neighbors dogs. I’d imagine that this sparkling view would captivate you.
I just got off the phone with Mommy and I know that some place under the same black sky you are sound asleep.
I’m sorry I’m not there. Mommy said you were looking for me. But I’ll tell you a secret…
I missed you tonight.
I missed your smile and that special time at night when you are content to just sit in my lap and cuddle. I missed the funny way you ask to nurse by tossing yourself sideways sucking on your fist. I missed the fascination you have with toys as we explore each one together.
Mostly I missed the way your hand always grips mine so very tight as you explore each of my fingers.
I wish you could understand that even if you can’t hold my hand tonight you always hold my heart.
I have a beautiful view outside my room tonight but I miss the one we share together.
Today''s drop off was not nearly as angst filled as yesterday''s. Arden was her normal serious, contemplative self this morning. When I left she was sitting up in this little contraption (I put here there on purpose, to make sure they realize she''s old enough and strong enough for this particular thing and does not always need to be on her back). She was playing with a rattle and staring at one of her teachers. She was even giving half smiles. Phew.
I know as the months go on the crying will cease the moment we walk out of the door. I knew yesterday though, that this was not something that would stop when I walked away. At this point that''s not how this kid works. Nor at this point am I strong enough to walk out if she''s incredibly upset.
Dora is on her way back from Chicago today. Hopefully she''ll catch the early plane and be home mid afternoon. Sounded like she got quite a lot done yesterday and that it''s a real possibility. Arden will be very happy to see Mama and to get sprung from school a couple of hours early.
Time for this mommy to get working. I fear yesterday I wasn''t overly productive since my brain was back at daycare.
This morning''s daycare drop off was the hardest yet. We walked in and said hello to a couple of people. I took Arden out of her "stupid snowsuit" and set her on her tummy on a colorful mat, we have one just like it at home. Before I can even put one bottle in the fridge she is wailing. She''s immediately in my arms and clinging to me for dear life. I hug her as tight as I can, because each time I start to loosen my grip she starts to cry again. With each cry my heart breaks a little more. I want to gather her stuff and just go home with her. We can try it again tomorrow, I think. But I know that''s not an option in this reality.
For 40 minutes we walked. Her teachers were at a loss ... offering to take her so I could head to work. I won''t walk off and leave her crying, it''s hard enough to walk off when she''s smiling and laughing. We walked and bounced until she fell asleep on my shoulder.
I left her sleeping, her tear soaked eyelashes draped over her tear stained cheeks. Her cheeks aren''t the only wet ones this morning.
If the one certainty in life is change then of late I have to say we’ve been experiencing life to its fullest.
In the wake of the RIF at my work I find myself still employed. My work area is like a little oasis amid the blank computer screens and empty chairs and I’m left to experience the feeling of somehow being left behind to walk through the rubble of corporate fallout and not trip. Sometimes you can’t help but be maudlin enough to stare into a vacant office and remember an anecdote or two, but mostly you just push on…
Nuke the same breakfast oatmeal, call the same people, email this for that and attend those weekly meetings that while shorter and smaller than before still fix the same issues.
So yes as much as life changes in catastrophic ways, it also remains the exact same.
With life chugging along and my job chugging along with it, a new right of passage hits tomorrow.
My first business trip away from Arden.
Mostly I’m flat out anxious and terrified on how to keep up the breastfeeding on the road, but a part of me knows that once I get over this hurdle the next trip will be that much easier…and my job involves a lot of travel.
I keep reminding myself that when she is two I’ll be skipping out the door on these trips, free to spend a quiet restaurant cooked dinner in my room while watching TV in total peace blissfully unaware that Erin is poking holes in a voodoo doll while cursing my soul as Arden tries to climb the built in cabinet for the 5th time that night.
However that is the future…right now I’m examining my suitcase and wondering if anybody will notice if I poke some air holes.
I am at my desk and it is quiet. Eerily so. In 15 minutes people will start to arrive at their desks…for the last time.
RIF (Reduction in Force) is happening today at my job.
We’re a small company, we’ve gone to hell and back to accomplish what the big boys do, building a team that spends so much time together you form tight friendships. I mean heck you see these people more than you see your spouse. In times of crisis we only left work for sleep, often after 11pm. Weekends have been shared at times, struggling over one issue or another. It is crazy when I look back on it, but in a strange way it was also plain old fun. We used to be a part of something.
As of this evening our little work family will officially be separated.
In one way it isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me. If I am one of the people to leave here tonight for the last time I won’t have a choice but to be home with Arden a bit longer. Which, in a way, is what my baby needs right now.
Yesterday when I picked up Arden she was just thrilled to see me and laughed out loud. She was so cute I could have just slapped some teriyaki sauce on her and eaten her up.
I found out she had another tough day at daycare. Woke up screaming from her morning nap for 15 minutes.
Hard to hear about it.
Grandma and Nonno are away in PA at a candy show so I used my factory key to get in and nurse her… partway through I remembered I needed to fetch her carseat…. So we walked back in to pick it up and when one of the workers went to say hi to her she proceeded grab onto me and start bawling her eyes out.
Tell me my heart is going to toughen up.
She was just so sure I was going to pass her off again.
I wish I could sit her down and just explain the whole daycare thing to her. Like how when she is 13 she is going to want some sort of designer jeans and well, if two mommies work there is a good chance she’ll get them. Or how about Gay Days at Disney World? Family week in PTown?
Unfortunately right now all Arden can figure is we pull her out of her warm bed, rush her through a quick breakfast and drag her out into the cold morning to dump her with people who are not Mama or Mommy.
So maybe this will be my last day with my company but maybe that is the way it is supposed to be for now.
Well Dora''s post really sums up our week. Having us both work is incredibly difficult, but alas, living in MA makes it necessary to have two incomes.
Today is Arden''s 3rd day of school. I like her teachers more each day, as we are starting to get to know one another and they are starting to get to know Arden. Thursday I left her sleeping, that''s much easier than leaving those big brown eyes that just follow me out of the room. Today I had to pry myself away. I know people say it will get easier. We''ll see. I know when she is 1 and streaking through the house at 100 miles an hour we will find relief in having her run off some of that energy at school. But right now she''s just our wonderful, mostly sweet tempered baby girl, who is so used to having her needs met each time she so much as peeps.
Weekends take on a whole new meaning now. 48 hours of uninterrupted bliss with our girl. Doesn''t get much sweeter.
10:55pm.... in five minutes I''ll hook up for the final pumping session. If I''m lucky I''ll be in bed by 11:45pm. My alarm will ring at 5:21am. I''ll hit snooze once.
By 6:10am Erin will be gently waking Arden up. She''ll be exhausted and snuffley and wonderfully warm.
By 6:20am I''ll take her to nurse and Arden being Arden will try to offer a smile and I''ll see those black circles under her eyes and my heart will start aching.
No later than 7am I''m out the door. Erin will bathe and dress the Punkie Pie and by 7:40 she''ll hand her off to the strangers at daycare.
It is a bright cheerful daycare. Preppy, expensive, well known. The teachers work hard and try hard. Arden''s classroom is filled with pictures and her little cubby has her name on it. But the lights don''t go out for naps and phones ring and people talk. The little cribs lined up on the wall are meant for naps. But there is little comfort there. Arden will grab onto Erin with her little dimpled fists and Erin will have to pass her over, turn around and walk out.
Hopefully at 8am I''m just arriving at work. It is quiet there. Sad. People spend time talking about past triumphs or saying farewells to coworkers leaving before the layoffs. It used to be hard to book a room for a meeting. Today you could have three back to back in the boardroom if you wished.
Part of me will be in the office, working like today will definitely lead to tomorrow and a million other tomorrows....most of me will wonder if Arden is hungry or if she is sitting in a soiled diaper.
I''ll wonder if she is longing to be held, but to young to reach for it and instead finds herself in a swing being soothed by mechanical motor instead of loving arms and a heartbeat. I''ll be jealous that my parents can stop in from the factory whenever they have the chance. I''ll be eternally grateful that my parents can stop in from the factory whenever they have the chance.
At work I''ll pump milk for her until I bruise, until my stomach turns just looking at the pump and knowing I''m about to hurt. I''ll answer phone calls and emails and pray the part of my brain at work is remembering the details my job requires.
If the day works like the day is supposed to work I''ll walk out the door by 4:00pm. The next hour I''ll get frustrated at almost every other motorist. I will get stuck in deadlock traffic.
On a light traffic day at 5:00pm I''ll grab my tired, hungry baby from the kind people we''re paying most of my salary to, people who got to see her and hold her all day.
We''ll spend a half hour or so nursing at the chocolate factory. We''ll be excited to see Mommy walk in and head on home.
By 6pm we''re home. Erin will entertain Arden while I try to cook whatever is quick and handy. By 7pm I''m dishing out dinner and nursing and playing a bit with Arden in between.
At 8pm Arden is warm and heavy in my arms. Ready for bed. Erin will walk her upstairs and put her to bed. I''ll grab a quick shower and finish my dinner.
Somehow the dishes will get done. Erin will get Arden packed for tomorrow while I get myself ready for tomorrow. The house will still be in chaos because neither of us has the energy to move another inch.
9pm, perhaps we''ll watch TV. Erin will fall asleep on the couch and I''ll desperately be trying not to. It hurts more to fall asleep and then have to wake up to pump.
11pm....hopefully I''ve coaxed Erin into bed earlier (but probably not).... I''m pumping again...for those times when my body, bruised as it is, doesn''t produce enough during the day.
11:45pm...staggering into bed....Another day done.
I''m so tired everyone. So very tired. As much in my head as in my body. Tomorrow I''ll hold my baby for all of three hours. I know she is miserable but I''ll kiss her goodbye and walk off anyhow. A good career woman. A career so I can aspire to vacations and a 401K plan. Items only money can buy but so far in the future my jumbled head can''t remember that I need/want them. The kicker? Between daycare, healthcare, gas...I won''t take home much in the way of money.... but it is just enough money that we need it...
Tomorrow I''ll wake up at 5:21am for what? I used to know the answer to that.