Friday, March 25, 2005

Play acting

When I graduated from college and got my first job, I felt like I was play acting every day. There I was, hopping on the train with all of the other commuters, stopping for my morning bagel, arriving at the office in hose 'n' heels. I was sure that any moment someone would pop out of the bushes and call my bluff. "Who do you think you are, pretending to be an adult? You can't survive on your own. This is all a big lesson, at the end of which you will get a grade and the bill will be sent to your parents."
While being a mom comes more naturally, I still get struck by this feeling every once in a while. I suspect I will wake up tomorrow morning and find my life has reverted back to what it was before. I will chug away at my job, come home to a cozy evening of preparing a home cooked meal and watching a little TV, and plan weekend activities and excursions. Nope. No dream. I wake up now to an elaborate dance of feeding, dressing, showering (optional), pumping, and rushing off to work. After work it is a drive by pick up from day care, and a mad 5 minute rush to collect the mail, refrigerate the milk, unload the used bottles, and plug in my phone before Munch starts to cry (never been successful, by the way).
Grocery shopping? Hah! Save that for the weekend. It is amazing what kind of "meals" you can invent out of your freezer and pantry if you really put your mind to it. Let's just say the standards have changed.

Munch won't go to sleep without a fight these days. He gets sleepy and grumpy, but just you try to put him down for the night. Agitation, tears, resentment, anger. In that order. My guess is that he is beginning to figure out what he is missing when he is asleep. I suspect he is also teething, as he fell asleep with his chompers locked on my finger last night. Just as he develops this new aggravating tendency, he starts anther practice to compensate. He absolutely squeals with delight when I go to retrieve him from Ana's house. I am the sunshine in his world for those five minutes, and he is the sunshine in mine. Almost worth being apart from him for 10 hours. Almost.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Land of Denial

The day after the presidential election someone called me and asked me, with deep concern in their voice, "how are you doing?" My answer? "Fine! How are you?" I had entered the land of denial the moment I turned off the TV the night before. By the time I woke up in the morning, it was as if the election had never happened.

I find that I continue to tune out and turn away from political discussions. I tune out the radio when I hear that voice. When T tries to initiate a conversation about this policy or that statement, about environmental or international impact, I politely, but firmly, shut it down. Look, I can't even bring myself to type his name. Months of fervent ranting exhausted me. I wished, prayed, truly believed that things would turn out differently. Rather than collapse in a disconsolate heap, I planted my head firmly in the sand. It will remain there until it is time to hope, pray, and believe again. Until then, please talk to me of movies, books, puppies, and other happy things. It is the only way I can cope.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The joy of pumping at work

Don't be fooled. Pumping at work just blows. It is not one of those things that gets better with time. Its embarrassing to have to openly address physical needs in the office. It's a heads-down kind of activity. You hope to become invisible as you sneak off to a private spot for a few minutes.

While we have a plethora of wonderful euphemistic phrases for going to the bathroom (like, for example "going to the bathroom"), we have no clear euphemisms for pumping. No powdering of the nose, no visiting the ladies room, no quick dash to the restroom. When you must explain why you are about to disappear for 20 minutes, you must explicitly reference your actual activity, "I need to go pump now." I have tried to playfully substitute "do my thing" and "take care of business," but this tends to confuse people.

Once excuses are made, I collect my apparatus and its various parts, neatly stored in an innocuous backpack, and slink off to an unused office. Thankfully, this office is pretty much at my disposal whenever I need it. I have closed the blinds and taped paper over the window. Of course, this is the fun part- sitting in the office of a departed employee (his calendars still pinned to the walls, his folders still stacked on the desk) with my boobs hanging out, my nipples trapped in plastic cones. I got used to this at home, but I just don't think I can get used to being so exposed at the workplace. Just for fun, try it sometime! Find an empty office, close the door and take out some private part of your body. See how comfortable and relaxed you feel. Now, breast pumps are just not quiet. They are rhythmic and plenty loud to pass through the fiberboard walls separating this office from the next. I can hear their conversation, so they can certainly hear me.

Done! Now, carefully, very carefully, close the bottles (I can just imagine calling facilities to clean up a spilt bottle of breast milk), disassemble the pump, and slink off to wash up. The kitchen is nasty. I wash out the pump parts, trying to thoroughly clear out any milk droplets while keeping the parts away from the Top Ramen remnants in the drain. I hope that no one else comes in to use the kitchen - if they do, they get that embarrassed apologetic smile, "sorry, just handling an bodily function over here. I will get out of your way so that you can add water to your Cup o' Noodles in a sec."

Once the parts are clean and packed up, I take the little bottle of pumped milk - no more than 3, maybe 3 1/2 ounces - to the IT refrigerator. I store it in a paper bag from Bath and Body Works or BabyStyle, afraid that the sight of my breast milk might be icky to my coworkers, on par with a turd specimen or urine sample.

Whew! All done, at least until the next time - in about 2 1/2 hours.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Family Dining

It's no secret that I am passionate about food. I will go to three different markets to get the right ingredients. Margaritas, for example, must be made with key limes - not their thick-skinned counterparts found in most supermarkets.

I have always rushed to distain "family dining" establishments and their coarse, doggy-bag approach to eating out. In doing so, I overlooked a critical factor. Family dining means more than just kiddie menus and crayons. Most family restaurants also have a full bar! In attending the younger generations, they did not neglect the needs of harried parents. Since we can no longer pop into a bar for a pre-dinner cocktail or happy hour gathering, we have a new found appreciation for loud restaurants that will both absorb our offspring without question and pour generous drinks for mommy and daddy.

That said, one must continue to discriminate, and find options that meet our standards - even if those standards have shifted a bit.

Heart of the matter

I have managed to pay my own way since my first job out of college. Sure, I have accepted some gifts along the way, but only after proving that I was self-sufficient. The idea of relying on someone else's salary is just terrifying.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I am an indecision expert. Really, it's a skill I have honed into a fine art. I can debate the merits of, say, buying a pair of $20 shoes all afternoon. I can spend weeks deliberating which stroller to buy. So when it comes to a major life change, I can give myself ulcers on demand.

I have no idea where this comes from. I wasn't trained in indecision by my family or peers. I have not lost fortunes as a result of bad planning. So what I am I so scared of? Why do I feel a need to carry every choice out to all of its possible future implications?

Getting married was easy. Having a child was scary but easy. Why all this agonizing over a job? A job - what you do so that you can pay the bills. M-F, Outlook Inbox, conference room scheduling, commute to and fro kind of job. Not a career, not a calling, not a passion, and not a fortune-making kind of job. So just LET GO.

But - and I swear these are some, just some, of the irrational thoughts that run through my head - I will have to tell our day care provider that I won't need her anymore; I will miss the fish tacos I can get by work; I won't enjoy fridays off if I get all days off; I will feel so guilty spending $3 on a latte if I didn't earn that $3 my self. Not to mention those $20 shoes! And what kind of a lazy woman doesn't work? I mean, I will just have to earn my keep by keeping the garden free of weeds and spit polishing the bookcases, right? Right. Knowing me, I won't even manage the mess on my desk. So I will be a half-assed lazy housewife who spends her husband's paychecks on expensive coffee drinks.

But, on the other hand, if I don't make a break now....what kind of example will I be setting for my son? Staying too long in a dead-end job. Yes, son, this is what you have to look forward to! Study hard like I did! I fear that if I don't move on now, I never will. I will condemn myself to settling. And where the hell does that come from? Do I really value my own time so little? Shouldn't I be enjoying every precious moment with baby? What if this is it - we decide not to have any more children? So this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Right! Definitely need to quit. Now. Okay, tomorrow, first thing in the morning. Or maybe afternoon would be better...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

typing with one hand

- makes using the shift key difficult
- decreases use of adjectives
- slows down im conversations
- increases typos

sleepy baby refuses nap

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Single mom for a week

I have almost completed my 5 day stint as a single mom.

My schedule:
6:00 Feed Munch
6:15 - 6:30 Nap
6:30 Dress self
6:45 Pump
7:00 Bathroom break
7:15 Wake Munch, change diaper, dress
7:25 Feed Munch again
7:35 Prepare empty bottles for work, full bottles for day care
7:40 Feed cat
7:45 Off to day care
8:30 - 5:00 Work (pump at 10:00, 1:00, 4:00)
5:45 Pick up the Munch
6:00 Feed Munch
6:30 Shove something in mouth (bowl of cereal, tortilla chips and hummus, or similar)
6:45 - 9:30 Sing, talk, tickle, entertain. Not allowed: Sitting down, putting baby down, looking away from baby's face. Doing so will result in smile turning to angry red face.
9:30 Baby goes down. Shower while baby cries. By the time shower is complete, maybe Munch will be asleep!
10:00 Eat something else. Drink water. Drink glass of wine. Sort mail. Fold laundry. Turn on TV for company. Peruse yesterday's paper. Retrieve empty cat food bowl - too late! Raccoons have already finished off the premium Holistic Cat Food.
11:00 Pump
11:30 Bedtime

So see, it can be done. What's the big deal? Except I cheated. Parents provided dinner and baby holding services on Monday night and Wednesday night. The house is a wreck. I have successfully avoided grocery shopping. I didn't have to deal with recycling. I let the bills pile up. All in all, not a supermom performance. But sometimes getting by is enough.

To all the single moms out there in the world, you have my utmost respect. You are superheroes.