Saturday, February 26, 2011

Some sort of ode to the tub

Sitting in the bathtub drinking a beer feels so luxurious now; it may have felt luxurious two years ago too, but not like now. Now it feels like what I would think drinking fine champagne is like. I usually drink prosecco or some other sparkling wine, and although it’s delicious and delightful and hints at luxury, it is not fine or fancy.

In the tub I am holding two small soap slivers—one slightly larger than the other, both smooth and oval—pressing them together to make a little soap sculpture. Like something zen, or wiccan, or Jewish, or hippie—small rocks stacked up to say something spiritual or funerary. Me, saving these little soap scraps like it’s the Depression, thinking about how to foam up this small amount of soap in my luxurious bath. The water so hot, my skin steams on the surface.

Somehow there is something thrifty in me; I use soap until each sliver is gone—I try to incorporate a little bit onto a larger chunk. It is as if I didn’t have a cupboard full of soap and shampoo at the ready. I use every last drop of toothpaste (I have been known to cut open the tube) and pound the lotion bottle on my hand until the very last blob comes out. I hate wasting those things.

As a kid, I loved to squeeze the toothpaste out into the sink to watch it coil, to smell the minty freshness, to then smear it around with my fingers into a minty abstract painting and finally to rinse all proof of my art away. All gone. We get so far away from ourselves, from our childhood, our kid-ness as we age. Now, with a baby I try to remember what it all was like—what I liked (the smell of the hose on hot blacktop making a rainbow) and what I didn’t like (playing baseball with David and Jason Fedders.) I remember my mom singing to me and rocking me at night. I remember the smell of the basement; slightly dank and moldy and like sawdust and motor oil. I remember running through the long church pews while my family practiced in the choir.

When I was very small, I remember excitedly running through the house and bumping my head on the kitchen counter. I remember struggling to tie my shoes and which foot again? I was constantly confounded by which shoe went on which foot. I liked Sesame Street quite a bit but loved the Bloodhound Gang and the Electric Company. I also liked MASH—which seems strange for a young kid. I don’t even like MASH now. My grandma would make popcorn on the stove on Sunday nights and we would have popcorn and 7Up and watch The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz. I thought most adults were old and soulless, but I like Mary Poppins and my grandma.

I loved taking baths when I was a kid. All the splashing was fantastic. What imagination! I had in water games and stories that I would tell. The mermaids, and pirates, and dolphins, and surfing and swimming, and boats—I had many yachts. I loved that luxurious word yacht. And now, the bath is my only recluse, my only quiet—head under the water—my fifteen minutes of peace. There is no longer any time for mermaids and pirates. Some nights I don’t even wash; I just semi-recline (damn small-ass tub!), sit very still, listen to the roar of the water and try to relax. I let go of the day, of the baby crying and fussing and whinnying—let go of the lost job, and the lost freedoms, and the exhaustion, and fear (what if I am not good enough?) and I try to be still. To be clean. To find a place to start over again—tomorrow will be better/different/more fun. I will start again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday List (a manifesto of NOTs)

1. I will not be a slave to all organic unbleached cotton blankets and wooden toys. Wooden toys are effing boring!
2. I will not be a perfect mother.
3. I will not make all of my baby’s food (once she starts eating food.) I will make boiled sweet potatoes, mashed bananas, mashed avocados, etc.
4. I will not not yell at times. I will express my anger and frustration as kindly as possible. I want S to know that I am human and have emotions.
5. I will not use cloth diapers.
6. I will not sell our TV. S can watch some TV. She will use the computer too and I am sure have a cell phone. We are not Amish.
7. I will not make friends with people just because they have a baby my baby’s age, size, sex, or because we have the same pediatrician, go to the same park, or day care, or because we shop at Whole Foods, or Trader Joes, or happen to both go to the farmers markets. I do not have a lot of time for new friends (or sadly, for my old friends who I miss so, so much.)
8. I will not ever stop missing the days when it was just me.
9. I will not ever stop missing the days when it was just me and D.
10. I will not ever stop loving my little girl.
11. I am not sorry. I am not sorry that I had her. I am not sorry that this is my life. I love myself. I love my life. I love my baby and my husband and my fat cat.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I am self-superb (or not)

I hate asking for help. It is more than the fact that I am self-sufficient. I am more than sufficient, I mean, I am more than self-adequate, no? What is better than adequate? Superb. I am self-superb. That doesn’t sound right. Superb is not fitting the bill. I will think about it. I digress.

I hate asking for help. During labor, I apologized a thousand times; “I’m sorry” to the nurse; “I’m sorry” to the midwife; a friend said to me (yes, a friend in the labor room—brave soul), “I've never heard you apologize so much. What’s gives?” I replied, “Well, I've never needed so much help. I usually do everything myself.” I am paraphrasing the conversation because I don’t/can’t remember the exact wording but the gist is true. Even during labor I had a difficult time asking for and taking help.
I hate asking for help. I have had to do it so much in the last year. I still hate it. But, practice has maybe made it easier. Here’s the control-freak part, so, when I ask for help, can you do whatever it is exactly the way I would have done it? No? Okay, then it is not helping.

Now who needs a shrink? Wait, I meant to type “Who needs a drink?”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


to make better salads
- add Craisins and goat cheese crumbles (Whole Foods makes the best goat crumbles)
- add thinly sliced purple onion, strawberries, blue cheese
- add homemade garlic croutons and shaved parmesan

to make better rice (cooked already, leftover or fresh, brown or white or any grain)
- add toasted pine nuts, diced (raw) shallots, a pat or two butter, chopped parsley
- add good EVOO and shaved parm
- add lime juice, cilantro, cubed mango, salt (and grilled shrimp cut up if you have some leftover)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Things that are wonderfully surprising about being a mother (in no order; list is not complete)

1. Play. It is fun to play on the floor. It’s like I had forgotten how to do that. Now I play on the floor all the time. I bark like a dog. Make funny faces. Puff out my cheeks. Anything goes.

2. Toots. Baby toots are hilarious. She has no manners (yet.) No shame. Just rat-a-tat toots (pop, pop, pop) any time, all the time.

3. Poop. There is a fascination with baby poop. I never thought I would care or that this would happen. I never thought I would be amused by or want to talk about poop. Here I am. I also never thought that D and I would talk about poop. “Honey, come and see this!” or “God, babe, there is like a ton of poo in her fat folds. Gross.”

4. Love. Yes, everyone has written and said how much you love your child—you will love your child more than you love anything, anyone, including yourself. Of course. Got it. This is not a surprise to me. But, what is surprising to me is the amount of love she has for me. I remember when I was pregnant; I worried that she would not like me. What if? Now, I am so amazed at the amount of total, unprompted love that she has for me. She adores me. Follows me around. Wants my attention and approval. I am her sun. It’s is flattering and wonderful and I want to be better (at all things) to be worthy of that love. That love is amazing. (I am aware that this "love" is a survival thing; that it is an evolutionary thing that she needs me to survive.)

5. Laugh. Her laugh is my favorite thing. It is so great it can make me cry with joy just thinking about it. And oh, that toothless grin (I rue the day she gets those pesky teeth and looses that toothless grin forever. The day that my little Elmer Fudd will transform into someone new, something less cartoony, someone more beautiful.)

6. Small. My life is so small now. It is about moments and sighs and smiles and giggles and toots. I have found what is really important. Everything else pales in comparison. It’s not that I don’t miss my friends, because I do. But I am addicted to these small moments. She will only be this age, this size for a short time. My friends (the true ones) will still be there, beautiful, interesting, and full of love for me, when I resurface from this small bubble of baby love. S is it. She is worth staying home; she is worth not drinking; she is worth missing out on happy hours and parties; she is worth it all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm a Loser Baby

Ah, procrastination, you old friend, where have you been hiding? Wow. I can do a whole lot of nothing sometimes. I can blame it on never having downtime. I can blame it on having so much to do all the time that I have to goof off once in a while. I can blame it on the rain. But there it is. What have I accomplished all day? Zip, zero, nada.

Sometimes I have so much to do that the only thing I want to do is listen to music, ignore the baby, drink tea, and read the Internet. Who needs to clean the house? Not me. What about laundry? Nope. Menu planning? I'll starve. Freelance project? But I did so much yesterday. Kiss my husband? Maybe, but will he clean the house?
Back to work, slave, back to work!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Truths of the Day

- shallots cooked in butter is one of the great joys in life. Shallots are better than onions in most cooked dishes.
- risotto doesn't take that much's a myth. You can over stir risotto. It's better soupy and not so thought out. Relax.
- champagne should not be for special occasions.
- do NOT wash mushrooms. Water makes mushrooms all tough and rubbery. Wet a paper towel or tea towel and wipe the dirt off.
- always wash spinach three times. Soak in cold water and lift leaves from the water (buy a salad spinner.) This is true for all green, leafy things.
- coffee gets bitter when it's cold. Drink hot! (or iced, but iced coffee is a cold-brewed process.)
- quinoa is my favorite grain. It is so, so versatile and yummy.

The New Fat Me--You don't know fat until you have had a baby

I’m fat. So, I am on a mission to lose some weight (while breastfeeding) and to buff up a little. I am sure that I lost some muscle tone throughout my pregnancy and recovery. The losing weight while breastfeeding thing is a little bit of a myth…while it is true that you lose a lot of the initial weight faster than a non-breastfeeding woman, it is not true that you automatically slim down just because you are breastfeeding. I guess it all depends on your metabolism (mine sucks) and how much food you push into your mouth (a small ton) while you are at home all day long, all winter long with not much else to do (or ways to entertain yourself) except eat.

Most of the time, I don’t even notice that I am fat. I was so huge when I was pregnant that after the baby came, I felt small at first—look at those svelte ankles and wrists?!?! Now, I am playing peek-a-boo and making up songs about Babyface and her chubby toes. Who gives a shit about my fatness? The baby doesn’t. The cat doesn’t. If the husband does, he doesn’t say. Everyone else say, “Oh honey, it will come off, you just had a baby.” Thank you. That was over four months ago. Not quite a “just” anymore. Let’s get real. So, instead of just bitching I am doing something about it.

1. Joined the gym (at least until summer) that has a daycare (not the best care I am sure, but as long as they keep her alive for an hour or two, I’m okay with it.)

2. Stop wearing sweats (this means that I need to go shopping…eff.) When you have to wear pants that zip and button, you have to buy a size. Right now that size is a 16/18. Hello Lane Bryant!

3. In the process of getting rid of snacks and cookies and white-flour shit in my cupboards. No more pretzels, no more junk, no cookies, brownies, animal crackers…all so seemingly innocent. Ha. Why not reach for an apple or a little hummus and carrots?

4. Realized that even though I am still breastfeeding, I cannot eat whatever I want anymore. I cannot be the garbage disposal that I have been, that I was during pregnancy. I do not need seconds or thirds. I do not need two cheeseburgers. It is not okay to eat two chocolate chip scones (Timbits, muffins, etc) in the car! It’s okay to feel hungry (for more than the minute it takes to shove some shit in your face.) Let’s let my appetite build, shall we? Yes.

5. More cooking. Less laziness.

Things that stand in my way (identify and get over it):

1. No one sees me. I am at home all day. I don’t go out. I don’t work outside of the home. Who cares what I look like?

2. I just had a baby.

3. It’s a huge pain in the ass to lug a baby to the gym in the ice and snow and unsafe during flu season.

4. No incentive? Too exhausted? It seems that I care very little about anything except my kid, keeping the house, feeding the husband, and getting a little sleep. My priorities are different. What I look like, isn’t even on the list.

5. My body changed so much I can’t get it back to what it was 8 years ago (my smallest weight.) I am too old to be that thin anyway.

6. Aren’t moms supposed to be doughier? This is what I am now.

7. I will never be skinny. I have always been thick. I will never be a skinny bitch.

8. I am getting older. I just turned 34. This is what 34 year old women look like. (At least, married mothers that are 34 and that were never thin.)

One more bitchy thing then I am moving on…eff models, and movie stars, and all those Kardashians that have babies. It is hard to lose weight and look good after you have a baby. It takes longer than a month or six for most normal gals. It takes dedication and concentration and someone to watch the kid while you exercise and it takes a lot more than most (poor, normal) women have at their disposal. I don’t have a trainer. I don’t have 3 hours a day to exercise. I don’t have a personal chef and stylist. I don’t have an airbrush. I am just like every other fat new mom in the world. My story is not unique.

The Weigh In

201 pounds

I weigh two hundred one pounds in sweats and slippers at 3:30pm on Thursday, February 03, 2011. There is it. My heaviest was 250 at 10 months pregnant. So, yes, I have lost about 50 pounds. Good for me. But I am still, by any and every standard, fat, overweight, obese.