Monday, August 31, 2009

Infinitely Happy

Let's do a little evaluation... Six years ago today I was waking up in the JW Marriott, celebrating a post-wedding brunch, and getting ready to board a plane to Fiji with my new husband. I was slightly younger, quite a bit lighter, a tad more naive, and infinitely happy.

Today I wake up with my industrious man doing yoga down the hall, feeling grateful for the 9 hours of sleep I got and the cup of coffee ready in the kitchen. My little boy is (blessedly) sleeping in downstairs, and my baby is doing good-morning stretches in my belly. There are legos and picture books at my feet, and my thoughts are on the errands to run and playgrounds to visit today. I'm 30 years old, I'm a mommy, and I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

Tonight I will have a quiet dinner out with my husband where the conversation will mostly be about River and the new baby to come. Neither of us will feel anything but happy about this.

We won't have the time (or, in my case, ability) to indulge in an evening of endless cocktails, but we'll be doing what we always do: talking about our lives, our dreams, our partnership. We'll be thinking about what we're doing right and what we could be doing to make things better. We'll listen to each other. We'll support and inspire each other. We'll laugh and conspire.

My life is busier and harder than I imagined it would be. But it's so much richer. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have married a man who so perfectly fits me. Thank you, Thom, for sharing these six years with me (and for putting up with the woman who accidentally taught your son to say "dickwad").

Sunday, August 23, 2009


It's such a shame that a week of vacation inevitably must be followed by a day traveling home. The 45 minute cab ride, airport, delayed flight, super-fast transfer, second plane ride, lost luggage, and long drive home with 6 people and their bags stuffed into too small a space somehow takes all those relaxing walks on the beach and crushes them like bugs under an unrelenting, steel-toed boot.

And yet, it was a great vacation. Disneyworld was a hyperactive weekend of neon and sugar shock. The heat was unbelievable and there was way too much to fit into so short a time (especially considering the boys still require at least one nap to get through the day), but we saw the great mouse and his duck friend, we rode countless kiddie rides (and a few grown up ones too), we scared the shit out of River with Pirates of the Caribbean, and we ate copious amounts of french fries and ice cream. All in all, what more can you ask of the Magic Kingdom?

The week that followed was spent lounging by the beach and in the pool in the Dominican Republic. The Cuba Libres (rum and cokes) flowed freely (as did the virgin Pina Coladas for me), River nearly learned how to swim, and Finn followed his cousin around picking up a dozen new words. We toasted Jack and Julie's 40 years together, read books, did yoga, laughed, ate, and drank.

It was lovely to have such a concentrated time to relax and enjoy family. I'm so glad Thom got an actual vacation (he turned his email auto-reply on for the first time in SEVEN YEARS!), and I'm thrilled the grandparents had so much undivided time with the little ones. I loved getting into the comfy routine of sharing a house together - spending leisurely days eating, playing, and swimming.

My Italian vacation was wonderful in a different way - I had time alone with my best friend, able to just be Summer, not Mommy. I rushed around foreign cities with the energy of a college kid and came as close as possible to experiencing life without responsibility. But in the DR I was able to slow down, step away from the stress of taking care of my family yet still enjoy my family. It was really lovely. I don't think River and I have laughed together like that in a long time. I'm hoping I can take some of that carefree energy and work it into life back at home, because that week away from it all sure felt like what life should be all the time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Hit Donald again!"

We've been planning a little trip to Disneyworld for a while now and since River has had zero experience with old school Disney characters, we figured it might behoove us to introduce him to the giant mouse before we arrive. Of course YouTube offers a great selection of old cartoons and we watched a couple the other night.

The first one we found featured Mickey, Goofy, and Donald in an eviction scenario which rivaled the horror of an Itchy and Scratchy episode. Apparently, the kid loves violence, and every time someone got smashed in the head with a piano, stuffed into a fishbowl, or blown up by a leaky gas pipe River cracked up. Donald Duck received the brunt of the violence and something about his enraged responses pleased River to no end. Since then he's been talking about going to see Donald and doing his best impression of D-man's scratchy, throaty squawk.

We're watching an episode as I type this and while River cracks up the little one is kicking like mad. Guess it runs in the family.

Friday, August 07, 2009

maybe the Taoists have something here...

I'm starting to think that a certain amount of laziness in our approach to parenting is really paying off. Don't get me wrong - I work my ass off, as does Thom, and neither of us feel like inattentiveness with River gets us anything but more work down the road. So when I say lazy, I guess what I mean is "selectively non-proactive."

Earlier this year we began thinking about how to get River to move to his toddler bed downstairs with enough time before the new baby arrived that he wouldn't feel like he'd been evicted from the nursery by his snotty little sibling. We had a lot of time, and since we didn't have any great ideas about how to make the transition without a lot of drama, we just sort of let it be. The only thing we did was plant the idea in River's head that when he was ready he could try to sleep in his "big boy bed." Every now and then we would play downstairs and remind him that it would eventually be his "big boy room" instead of just his playroom. At bedtime one night, a couple months after we'd started plugging his new room, he told us, "River want sleep downstairs." I'm sure it was just a ploy to extend bedtime, and it actually didn't work out that night, but a few nights later he asked again and it was a success. For a week we had a slow transition to the downstairs room with very minimal drama and by the end of the month he was completely moved.

I just imagine if we'd taken a more aggressive approach we would have had a huge battle and not enjoyed the nearly seamless transition we did because River made the choice to move on his own. Our laziness really paid off in this case.

I look at when River stopped nursing at about 20 months and though I needed to stop for my own sanity, I know River was definitely not ready. He drew great emotional comfort from nursing - much more, it seems, than other children who ween themselves by their first year. The decision was not his own, and while weening took a short time, I think taking the choice away from him has had repercussions that last to this day. After all, the reasons he needed to nurse didn't just disappear when the boobies went into confinement. So he took the next best thing and started holding my boobs when he was sad or hurt or just needed love. At first I thought it was part of the transition and didn't want to take that source of comfort away from him too. But it's been nearly 10 months and there are no signs that he's ready to, uh-hum, let go just yet.

So yes, it's uncomfortable when I walk into a store and my 2 1/2 year old is gripping mommy's girls, but I can't let my anxiety about social acceptance affect me the way it did with weening. It's not fair to River, and I have to accept that the time will come when he is ready to pull away on his own. Making that decision himself will make all the difference for both of us. I'm taking the lazy route on this one and trusting River won't still be clutching at my boobs as he heads off to school.

Last night, as we were getting ready to plop River in the bath, he looked down at his peeper and kind of wiggled his bottom. This is usually a sign that he's ready to pee, so we asked him if he had to go and he said yes. Normally, we would follow this by an offer to go on the potty (a question he responds to as though we'd asked if he'd like some hot pokers in his eyes). We've had a couple rough days lately and I didn't want to push any buttons, so we offered to let him go in the bathtub. Imagine our heads nearly flying off when he told us he wanted to go on the potty.

Really, we were woefully unprepared. Because of his typical reaction (see: hot pokers, above) I haven't pulled out his potty chair in months. We've taken the anti-proactive approach to potty training, ignoring the issue (aside from the occasional suggestion to River) and assuring ourselves that changing diapers on a four year old wouldn't be that bad. Every now and then I think about how my grandmother potty trained me over one weekend when I was one, or I hear one of my mommy friends has started with her child. And then I happily ignore the urge to rush, and I enjoy my laziness.

Since there was no potty chair in sight, we stood him on top of the toilet seat, strattling the bowl, and hoped for the best. He stood there a while, holding his peeper, wiggling his bottom and seeming generally pleased to be doing something new. Well, a while went on for even longer and I realized that the cats hadn't been fed, and hell, preggers wanted some cookies when bathtime was done, so I went upstairs to attend to those things for a few minutes. When I came back down River was now sitting on the way too big seat and boasting of having GONE PEE! IN THE POTTY! I couldn't believe I missed it. I am so proud. And so happy we didn't try to force him onto that stupid seat before he was ready. I know it's just the first step, but because he's started on his own, all of my (repressed) anxiety about getting him out of diapers is gone. I know he will do it in his own time. And maybe even before he's four.