But then I figured what the hell? If I wait until nothing at all is bothering me before I write again, this blog will sink faster than Lindsey Lohan's career. So here's what's been irking me lately.
1. Michael Vick
There is a special spot in hell reserved for those who abuse, torture, and kill animals. I hope he ends up booted from the NFL and behind bars for a very long time.
2. My lack of a summer vacation.
My mother is currently on vacation in the Canadian Rockies for a month. One month, people. And this was cut short by two weeks, because she didn't want to go six weeks without seeing Isabella. Who goes on vacation for a month? Rich and I have been on some sort of summer vacation every year for the past 10 we've been together. And this year? No vaca. I know. Boo-hoo. Poor me. But my friends are hitting the beach, their cottages on the water, or just taking some fun weekend roadtrips. And I? Am not.
3. The treatment of mothers in the American workplace.I've been reading a lot of books on motherhood. As the time gets closer for me to have "the discussion" with my manager, I've become pretty worked up about how most companies make absolutely no provisions for mothers in terms of flex time and work-from-home opportunities, and do not provide mothers with the same pay scale and level of promotions afforded to men, and even to non-mothers. (Did you know that mothers who scale back on work by going part-time or quitting altogether, even for a few years, will pay the so-called "mommy tax" of $1 million dollars of lost income for the span of their working years?)
In the book I'm currently reading, The Feminine Mistake, the author quotes a 2004 survey by the Center for Work-Life Policy that among women with children, 43 percent of those who had earned graduate degrees or high-honor bachelor's degrees had dropped out of the workforce. Talk about a brain drain. And I believe a vast majority of these women were forced out because of workplace rigidities.
4. Judge Fernando Ferrin Calamita
This judge in Spain has ordered a lesbian mother to turn over custody of her two daughters to their father because, according to him, her homosexuality would harm her kids and “raise the risk” that the girls would also become lesbians. He also said, “It is understood that (a parent’s) drug addiction, child abuse, prostitution, belonging to a satanic sect or heterosexual affair would negatively affect the children and serve as a reason for a change of custody,” he said. “Well, it’s the same with homosexuality.”
Because clearly, becoming the bride of Satan and being a lesbian are totally the same thing!
Okay, I'm off to cool down. And I promise I'll return sometime soon, and in at least a partially better mood.
The problem is that our doorways into the rooms we want to keep Isabella restricted from are uneven. So, while a gate would fit securely on one side, there's a gap on the other. We wanted to use tension gates, rather than ones for which we'd need to drill holes into the wall, because our walls are plaster, and we don't need another softball-sized hole in our wall, like the one a large mirror is currently hiding.
Add these annoyances to the fact that her main play area is our living room, which has adjoining entrances to my office, the dining room, and the kitchen, not to mention a stairway within the room, and we had one big hot mess on our hands.
Until my wonderful friend, a mom of twins, gave us this.
Behold, my child containment system. It is made of plastic. It is enormous. It is hideous. And I believe it is technically for use outdoors.
And I couldn't possibly love it more if it followed me upstairs every night and gave me a glass of wine and a back rub before bed.
It's called a "play yard." And I swear to you that right this moment I am writing a fan-girly love letter to the company that manufactured this absolute gem of a product. I no longer have to haul my child out of our fireplace, which she is drawn to as if it were covered in cheese, 43 times a day. She has ample space in which to crawl, throw toys, and explore, and I don't have to worry that if I turn my back for a second, she'll be upstairs playing hide-and-seek with the rats in the attic.
Yes, being 5'2'' I have to basically pole-vault myself over it each time I need to go into my office, or any of the other rooms whose access it restricts. And yes, Martha has rescinded her offer to photograph my living room for the cover of the October issue of Living, but to tell you that this system makes my life infinitely easier does not do its wonders justice. I now fully understand why my friend Marie is such a fan containment parenting.
And what does Isabella think of it?
Well, she asked for a spoon last night. Perhaps we shouldn't have watched Escape From Alcatraz as a family.
And her bad days.
But even with good behavior, she's looking at a minimum of 18 months.
And every day she is seeming less and less a baby, and more like a little girl.
In the past month, she's changed a lot. Her hair is noticeable longer (alas, her early Maddox Jolie-Pitt faux-hawk is all but a distant memory now), and she definitely has a very clear idea of what she does and does not want to do at any given moment. Apparently, she's stubborn (or, the PC term for it now: tenacious). I wonder where she gets that from?
But the biggest differences I've noticed in the past month are cognitive. Her memory is much, much sharper, and the range of objects she can identify is growing seemingly every day. Most impressive (at least to me, and remember, I am easily impressed) is that when asked to "Find Goodnight Moon," she will pick it out from a stack of books sitting before her and hand it to me. She can also point to certain characters and objects on the book's pages as well.
Her play has changed too. It's much more activity-focused, and toddler-like. She absolutely loves to take a plastic watering can on walks and pretend to water bushes, shrubs, and flowers along our route. The addition of this watering can seems to have enabled her to conquer her stroller-phobia. You cannot even imagine how happy this makes me.
She can now bring herself to a sitting position from her back and her tummy. We first discovered this a few weeks ago when we went to spring her from her crib following a nap to discover her sitting upright, staring at us.
Isabella is pulling up on everything now, including the stairs, and has become a wicked-fast commando-crawler. Our pathetic and half-assed baby-proofing efforts did nothing to stem her curiosity about the inner workings of our wood-burning fireplace or the heating vents in our floors, so we've had to resort to measures the likes of which I promise you have never seen before. There's a post coming on this topic later in the week.
Current Dislikes: Saying "MaMa," the name of the person who experienced nightly injections in the thigh and ass, numerous invasive medical procedures, the draining of her bank account, and major surgery to bring you into existence. Hi! Remember me?
And oh yeah, naps.
Next month, my baby will turn one year old. How is this even possible? It was just last month when we were worried she didn't have knee caps, wasn't it?
Of course, when I go in to check on Isabella before I go to bed, she's sleeping. (Which, as you may remember, she does not do during the day.) And she is blissfully and wonderfully and completely silent. (And quite angelic too, I might add.) So a few months ago I started taking pictures of her while she slept. To remind me that no matter how many times I have to pull her out from under the ottoman, wrestle her into a shirt when she has no intention of helping me dress her, or try to end a meltdown because I won't feed her cheese for dinner, being her mom is the best thing that ever happened to me.
And so peaceful until...
There's a certain blogger and friend of mine who hopefully won't be getting much sleep tonight because she's celebrating her 30th birthday today!
Happy Birthday, Sasha!
Go give her some sugar.
The halcyon days are over.
It's happening. And it seems there's not a thing I can do to stop it.
Isabella appears to be giving up one of her naps.
And it's not her shorter, morning nap. It's the big one. The one during which I'm used to putting in a solid two hours of writing for my job. Or, when I'm in procrastination mode, the one I use to pluck cat fur off the plant leaves and to scrub food chucked off the highchair tray out of the cracks in my hardwod floor.
She's spent the naptimes of the last five afternoons in her crib. But she is not sleeping. Oh no, she is far too busy for such triviality. She props her legs up on the bars of her crib and bangs them. Over and over and over. She works on her vocal stylings with babbling runs, operatic high notes, and raspberries. She redecorates, and on Friday took apart her bumper, and yesterday pulled down her mobile. And she throws things. Her bink. Her stuffed animal. And once, her pants. Which were on her body when I put her down.
She's hard at work with these activities for the greater part of an hour. And then she resorts to yelling and screaming, and eventually, crying. She wants out.
By this time, my concentration on my writing is shot, and I'm mulling over my options. Do I go in and try to rock her to sleep? (But then, if I do that, she's never going to learn to put herself to sleep.) Do I leave her up there to entertain herself for two hours, whether she sleeps or not? Is this down-time good for her (although, considering her antics, it can hardly be construed as "restful")?
Do I have to accept that she's done sleeping twice during the day? Because I don't want to. I really, really am not ready to give this up yet. I mean, I'm not ready for her to give this up yet. Because lest you think otherwise, this is really all about her. Honest. I'm all concerned for her well-being and stuff. And her ability to learn new things and reach cognitive development milestones. Which she cannot do while sleep-deprived. This is in no way about me. Or my desire to have two blessed hours to to watch DVR-ed episodes of What Not To Wear and to walk around my house thinking, "You know, we really ought to do something about that floor-to-ceiling crack in the wall." No, this is clearly all about her. Ahem, moving on.
So, can you make an almost 11-month old start taking two naps again (preferably without the use of a Benadryl smoothie)? Do I have her skip her morning nap instead, and then cross my fingers that she takes one in the afternoon (and preferably a long one-four-to-five hours is about right, right? Right?).
And if not, and she's decided that sleeping is for wussies, what in the name of hell am I going to do with her for 12 long, sleepless hours?
That AAP recommendation about no tv before age two is just a suggestion, right?
I was just exiting my goth stage, whereby everything I wore was a cheerful and joie de vivre-embracing black, and I was slowly and with regret packing away the clothes that with my pale complexion made me look like Marilyn Manson's younger sister, which, come to think of it, was probably precisely the look I was going for.
It was at this transitional time in my life that I was invited to the July 1997 wedding of a college friend.
This was one of the first weddings I was invited to as an "adult." And I had no idea what to wear.
Unfortunately, what caught my eye was the little number pictured here. I must have thought at the time that I looked good in the dress I picked out. I must have thought that sheer black tights at a July wedding was paying homage to my fleeting goth roots. I must have thought that somehow the dress I was wearing complimented the navy blue sport coat and tan pants worn by my new boyfriend (who is now my husband).
What I clearly did not know was that I wore what looked to be, for all intents and purposes, a maternity dress from 1983.
If your child is overweight, and you're a working mom, this recently published paper says it's all your fault.
According to the study, children whose mothers work outside the home are more likely to struggle with obesity than those whose mothers do not. Basically, if a mother works in a "high-intensity" job situation, then she's more likely to be stressed out and hit the local Burger King on her way home from work, rather than cooking her children a nutritious meal at home. And her kids also don't play outside as much (resulting in calorie-burning) because she's not around to watch them. As a result, her kids are overweight.
Unfortunately, what this study has done is to not only ignore the myriad other reasons childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, but to also place the blame for these children's health problems on the shoulders of only one parent. Once again, the "good mother" standard, whereby nothing but unattainable perfection in every aspect of the motherhood role can pass society's deep scrutiny, has thrown mothers under the proverbial bus.
This study ignores the fact that every time they switch on the tv, children are inundated with commercials toting every conceivable high-calorie, sugar-laden, nutrient-poor food on the market today.
This study ignores the fact that good, nutritious food costs quite a bit more than so-called junk food. If you're a poverty-striken working mother with a minuscule weekly food budget, are you going to hit up the supermarket for fresh organic fruits and vegetables, or are you going to try and stretch your dollar as far as it will go, and opt for the cheaper, but less healthful foods to feed your family?
And this study ignores fathers. Why aren't working fathers getting blamed for childhood obesity? In homes with two working parents, each of whom presumably has two functioning arms, I would think dad is just as capable of preparing a healthy meal for his children as mom is.
Mothers shoulder the blame for the vast majority of ills that befall her children. Sarah not reading at grade level? Her mother must not be reading to her at night. Brady acting out in Kindergarten? Clearly it's because he went to daycare when his mother should have stayed home with him.
It's not fair and it's not right. When are mothers going to catch a break?
I'm not taking her out dancing. I'm not breaking out the champagne to toast the two-year occupation of her own tiny place in the vast blogosphere. Because although she is all new and improved now, her writer is definitely not. She is tired. So instead, we'll curl up together on the couch and plan some future posts, and possibly share a slice of cheesecake.
One year ago at this time, I was sweating through the last month of the Beastie pregnancy. My house was full of baby gear, I was rockin' the cankles, and then, on a steamy August morning, Isabella was born.
It's been an interesting year. The world as I had known it for the past 30 years was turned on its ear when I became a mother. Writing this blog, and hearing encouragement from all of you, especially in those early months of new motherhood, was absolutely invaluable to me.
Thanks for sticking with me. For reading this blog. For sharing your comments. Because although I do write this blog for me, knowing it is read and shared with some pretty amazing people who are always there to offer words of opinion or advice is a pretty cool thing indeed.
If you asked my husband, he'd say being a good wife means permanently surrendering control of the remote, ordering pizza every night for dinner, and taking out a home equity line of credit to purchase a wall-mounted 52-inch LCD television for our bedroom.
But if you asked me, you'd get a much different response.
A few of the "Five Keys to Raising a Daughter," which I first mentioned here, don't seem all that difficult to put into practice:
"Be her mother not her best friend."
I've seen so many examples in my own life of mothers trying to do exactly this. Young girls need guidance, discipline, and a role model. Mothers who choose not to provide these because they're worried their children "won't like them" get a child who doesn't respect them or their authority in return.
(Not to mention that there's nothing more pathetic than a 40-something woman wearing low-rise jeans and a backless belly shirt to the elementary school to pick up her 4th grader.)
"Be a strong, confident woman."
For all my less-than-stellar personality traits, and believe me, there are many, one thing I've never seemed to lack, at least in my adult years, is self-esteem. I have a pretty keen awareness of my faults and of my talents. I know where I can succeed (sucking down an entire pot of coffee before most people finish a single cup), and I know where I will fail (math. Anything at all that has to do with math). I know what I stand for. Most of the time, I'm able to achieve what I set out to do.
I hope Isabella is able to see these traits in me (and that she can ignore the fact that her mother is stubborn, controlling, and tightly wound). I hope she never doubts her own self-worth, or questions her importance in the world.
But the "be a good wife" key poses some problems. If a girl is supposed to learn what this means from her mother, I'm not sure I ever did.
My own mother is an amazing person. She's a talented artist. She's a perpetual Pollyanna and has the uncanny ability to see the good in every situation, and in every person she meets. She was an incredible mother to my sister and me as we grew up, and she's still an incredible mother today.
That said, she's a three-time divorcee. She's currently on her fourth marriage, to the infamous #4. I have no good memories of a traditional and loving two-parent household. I never learned from her what it takes to make a marriage work (although I learned plenty from her mistakes).
Now, if you asked me if I think I'm a good wife, then of course I'd respond, "Hells, yeah, I am!" We've been married for almost six years, and together for over 10. We laugh together as we do with no one else. We encourage eachother to spend time apart with our friends. And he has a lovely dinner prepared by my great aunt and microwaved by me waiting for him each night when he comes home from work. Now, what more could a man want, I say!
But in all seriousness, I wonder about this. I wonder what Isabella will learn from me about what it takes to be a "good wife" and how she'll apply this if and when she ever decides to marry. I certainly don't think there's a universal set of "good wife" characteristics; each marriage defines these individually. So I'll throw this out there:
What do you think makes a woman a "good wife"? And, if you're married, what do you think your child will learn from your own marriage about what it means to be a "good wife"?
That was a little heavy for what's traditionally a big burger and beer day in the good ole' U.S. of A, so I'll wrap up with this: Even if I never really learned how to be a good wife, despite my insistence that I am a pretty damn amazing one, at least someone out there thinks I rock. Damselfy has bestowed upon me the honor of being a
And I hereby pass this honor onto the following people:
Who is knockin' on the door to her 30s and is hoping no one answers.
Who could use a hug.
Who recently went through Herculean efforts to potty-train her son with positive results!
Who just celebrated her 43rd wedding anniversary.
Who just adopted an adorable new puppy.
Isabella wishes all Interrupted Wanderlust's American readers a Happy 4th.
And because she loves Canada (especially Toronto) as much as her mother does, she wishes all the Canadian readers out there (Hi Ramona!) a belated Happy Canada Day!
Check out my shoes, Ramona. They finally fit!
Cheesy Pasta Stars
6. Blend to a puree.
7. Combine with pasta stars.
8. Shovel into baby's mouth before she has the chance to realize that the sauce contains carrots, her food arch-enemy.
1 tomato skinned, deseeded, and chopped
1/4 cup avocado
2 TBSP mild, full-fat natural yogurt
1 1/2 TBSP grated cheddar cheese
1. Chop the chicken, and then combine it with the remaining ingredients.
2. Blend (I used my food processor) or chop the mixture to the desired consistency.
3. Serve it up!
I also made Isabella Chicken and Vegetable Soup, from a recipe I found here. I figured, "Hey, who doesn't like chicken soup (besides me, of course)," and I thought it would be a good introduction to soups, which Isabella hasn't had yet.
There was only one small problem. I didn't really think of the logistics of attempting to load soup onto what amounts to an almost flat baby spoon. Couple that with a baby who likes to swat at your hand while you're feeding her, and you have a very messy meal on your hands.
I stupidly doubled the recipe when I made it, so I froze most of it and will pull it out when she's past the swatting stage, which, from what I hear, will likely happen sometime in 2015.