Saturday, July 24, 2010

Talking to strangers

I understand that having a cute baby, not to mention a cute baby with cute, pink, baby hearing aides draws more attention than I did, even on my most put-together looking days. But I have honestly had more interactions with complete strangers in the one year of Sweet Pea’s existence than I had in all of the 30 years B.C. combined.    I can sort all of these strangers into two general categories: those who renew my faith in humanity and those who renew my faith in the “don’t talk to strangers” rule. 

Let’s start with group #1.  These are the strangers who will hold open a door when they see me pushing the stroller.  Gone are the days of the feminist in me thinking “thanks, but due  to hours at the gym, years of weight training, yoga and pilates (not to mention these two hands I have) I am perfectly capable of opening a door.”  Now, I still can open a door, but not without turning the stroller backward, and trying to hold the door open long enough with my short girl arms so that it doesn’t bang shut on said stroller while I whirl it back around the other way.  Or using the handicapped presser thingy that takes so long to open the door I forget what I came for in the first place.  So, if you see a woman with a stroller, hold the door for her.  You’ll make her day.   These are also the strangers who will pull out a cart for me when they see me come in with one arm full of hearty Sweet Pea and the other full of eco-friendly reusable shopping bags.  Deaf child or no, cursing at the 5th cart I’ve tried to wrangle free is not the pinnacle of good parenting.  I also enjoy the strangers who offer a simple “isn’t she cute?”  or see me signing to her and ask how to say “you’re pretty” in sign language.  I remember, fondly, each of these strangers and their acts of random kindness.

But how can I ever forget those strangers in the second category and their acts of completely random strangeness?!  There are all of the people who, during the height of swine flu season mind you, would come up to S.P. snuggled in her cocoon of blanket and car-seat carrier and reach in and actually TOUCH her!  If you have never been a parent of a newborn this is a HUGE no-no!  They have no immunity yet and can’t take anything more powerful than baby Tylenol if they get sick.  For months, not even people in my own family were allowed to touch her without bathing in Germ-X first.   Thank goodness for baby wipes in the ever present diaper bag to swab S.P. down after stranger touchings until I could get her home for a proper bleaching.  Equally aggravating are the strangers who want to know everything about my baby and expect me to take notes on all of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and pet rocks in the middle of the grocery store.  Again, if you have never had a baby, you may not be aware of baby schedules.  But babies (and more importantly their mommies) are usually on an eating, playing and sleeping schedule which, especially at first, leaves little extra time for Mommy to pee, much less hear all about how much Timmy weighed when he was born.  I even had one woman launch into a very in-depth conversation about how long and how much she breast fed both of her sons who are most likely going to end up in therapy or on Ru-Paul’s Drag Race Season #3.  This was a total stranger!  In the middle of the produce section!   I don’t  care if you are the president of the La Leche League, do not be this woman. 

I hope you all, like me, have filed these experiences away in that little part of your brain that you rely on in those “should I or shouldn’t I” moments of life.  And for Gerber’s sake, hold the door open for that poor woman with the stroller.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Storytime aka Free Therapy

If you are, or are planning on becoming a stay-at-home parent you must, MUST go to your local public library (or any in a 50 mile radius - it's worth the drive) to see if they have Storytime.  If they don't, ask the librarian and write your local congressman, if necessary, to demand that they start one immediately.  Your psyche will thank you.

When Sweet Pea was about two months old, I happened to be in the library one Tuesday morning and saw a large number of parents and wee ones leaving a previously unnoticed room off of the children's section.  The adults were smiling and chatting and the children were happy.  I wanted to be one of them.

So the very next week, I invited two of my fellow new-Mommy friends to come so that I wouldn't be the new kid and we went to Storytime.  There was singing, fingerplays (think Itsy, Bitsy Spider if you're not a parent yet), musical instrument playing, and naturally a couple of stories.  Of course, being deaf and still at the bump on a log age, Sweet Pea didn't get a whole lot out of it but I was hooked.  I got something to do for 30 minutes (50 if you include the getting ready to go time and travel time) and I got to see and talk to other adults.

For a little while, my friend with her Munchkin and I would call and e-mail each other to see if we wanted to go to Storytime.  Then, we found out that it was not just on Tuesdays, but Tuesdays AND Thursdays!  That's a whole hour a week of activity that requires no preparation on our part (minus the getting ready)!  Soon we were only calling if we WEREN'T going to Storytime.

We also discovered that there is a Pre-schooler Storytime 30 minutes after ours is over.  No, we haven't yet progressed to staying through both, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility in the future.  But we do commandeer the room for the 30 minutes between Storytimes and have our own little Mommies Club.  It started with just the two of us (and Sweet Pea and Munchkin of course)  but we are growing our membership and have made new friends whom we have welcomed into our club (read: group therapy).  Now, if you are mathematically inclined, you have figured out that this is now at least 2 hours!  a week we get to spend away from home, with other adults, and doing something way more fun for Sweet Pea than hunting the dollar bins at Targee`.

What started out as something I did for Sweet Pea's enrichment (which it still is) has turned out to be free therapy for me.  On occasion when S.P. was having a particularly whiny or grumpy day, I've thought: "That's it, we're not going to Storytime today (as if a something-month-old would get that)."  Then I realize I would only be punishing myself by missing out on therapy on a day where it is most definitely going to be needed.  Plus, maybe the Storytime will make her not so grumpy and/or whiny. 

I haven't made use of it yet, but I have knowledge of Storytimes at another library in the area and at Barnes and Noble on other days of the week.  We could, potentially, have Storytime 5 days a week!!!  I'm not that crazy yet, but maybe if there's ever a Baby #2.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

There is no such thing as "baby-proof"

Back in the years B.C. (before child) the term "baby-proofing" your house meant putting those little outlet plugs in and putting those little latches on your cabinets.  Ta-dah, the house is baby-proof!   Having a crawling, and now walking, actual baby in said house has slapped me to the reality that there is no such thing as baby-proof.

First off, those little stinking outlet plugs are flipping hard to get out.  For adults.  You have to have fingernails to pry them off (so Dads are usually exempt from the job) but then you either painfully bend your nails back or snap them off in the process.  And the cabinet locks?  After opening cabinets with zero resistance for three decades, it takes an as yet undetermined amount of time to re-train your body that it must open the door only a crack and press a little lever first.  Maybe rats could learn faster, but the rats are probably well rested and have all the time in the world.  So, after ripping the locks out from repeated attempts to simply open the door, we now have locks on only the dangerous chemical housing doors.

So, as annoying as these two safety precautions are, they are definitely (hopefully) safe for the Sweet Pea, since Mommy and Daddy have a hard enough time with them.  That still leaves a whole lotta house.  Do you have anything, ANYthing on a table or desk?  The baby will dedicate her life to getting it and then trying to put it in her mouth.  I recommend installing 5 foot high shelves throughout the entire house where you can set things down.

And your computer, does it have a mouse?  Particularly one with the little red light on the bottom?  Baby magnet.  And every time baby picks it up and turns it upside down, you will be paralyzed with fear that the light will burn her retinas like those annoying laser pointer thingies. 

Trashcans on the floor in any room?  Neon sign flashing "Eat at Joes" as far as Sweet Pea is concerned.  Toilets?  Wet and Wild water park.  Toilet paper rolls?  At least 1 minute and 48 seconds of quilted magical fun (and at least 5 minutes of cursing, sloppy, re-rolling por moi).  Just yesterday, while trying to run the flat iron through my hair and make myself presentable before leaving the house, I performed the ultimate in bathroom baby-proofing.  Sweet pea refused, loudly, to be anywhere but in the room with me.  So, there I stood, trash can on the counter, toilet paper roll stand hiding in the bathtub, one foot clamped down on the toilet lid as baby tried her very best to pry it open, ironing my hair.  All for a trip to the store.

So, rather than baby-proof, expect your house to be baby-fied and decorative touch-proof for at least a few years (at least until they can reach the 5 foot high shelves).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Living the Dream

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed about becoming a stay-at-home Mommy. While I was working and pregnant, I couldn't wait to hand in my resignation, knowing that I would have 5-7 precious years to be at home, raising our children. Visions of a spotless home, delightfully decadent meals prepared from scratch, and not having to get dressed up/made up for work filled my head. Now I am "living the dream" and oh, what a dream it was!

Don't get me wrong, the Mommy part, I LOVE! Our daughter, almost a year old now, is beautiful, brilliant, and so much fun to be around. I could go on for days about how wonderful she is and how lucky I am to be her Mommy. It's the "stay-at-home" part that occasionally (read: frequently) makes me loopy.

Cleaning the house has gone from a weekend morning chore to a constant battle. Being at home all day means more dirt, more dishes, more bathroom use, more pet hair, more spills, and PLENTY more time to notice all of these things and be driven crazy by them.

And instead of delighting in the fact that I don't have to get ready for work every morning, I find myself staring longingly into my closet full of fun and pretty clothes and knowing that the Sweet Pea will not fully appreciate them. They are cute clothes and need to get out and see the world so I am the over-dressed Mommy at Storytime and the fashionista of Wal-Mart (not a difficult feat to accomplish there). Plus, it only took me about two months of walking past mirrors in our house to realize that make-up and "done" hair do not have to be reserved for others. They are just as much for me as for anyone else. Maybe June Cleaver had the right idea after all. Those A-line belted dresses and pearls were not her prison suit, they were her golden lasso and bullet-proof bracelets!

Chatting with neighbors and random people in stores was once something I rarely felt I had time for. Now, I crave conversation with anyone, ANYONE, so much that all of the cashiers know everything there is to know about our daughter and I know entirely too much about their personal lives.

I have made countless unnecessary trips (if sanity is unnecessary) to Targee`, the mall, and any store that has a clearance rack just to get out of the house. Don't worry, we also take plenty of walks, trips to the park, and of course Storytime. Storytime at the public library (can you hear the heavenly choir of angels?)! Sure the babies love it - musical enrichment, early literacy, blah, blah, blah, but it is the Mommies who get the most out of it. See future post dedicated entirely to Storytime.

So, after all of those years dreaming of being a stay-at-home Mommy I am now a staunch, but happy, stay-away-from-home Mommy. Gotta run, Targee` is calling!