Wednesday, March 28, 2007

#2 (and I Don’t Mean Poop)

It’s official: every single friend or acquaintance who was pregnant when I was pregnant with Muffin is either expecting again or has already had their second child. Of course the conventional wisdom is that 2 years between kids is optimal, but I had no idea this was so firmly entrenched. I went to a 2nd birthday party recently, and I think I was the sole XX-chromosomed representative at the bar. Although being surrounded by women with baby bumps did make me feel totally skinny, it also weirded me out. I mean, really? You guys are ready to do this again? All of you?

I am beginning to consider maybe starting to think about having #2 – possibly. But I am wishy washy at best. I know I don’t have forever, but having one successful pregnancy under my belt takes away a lot of the urgency. My sister and I are four years apart and very close, so I don’t believe that siblings have to be close in age to be, uh, close.

A few months ago, I thought for a day or two that I was pregnant. As the nurse gave me a blood test, I grumped about how I’d just started a new job, how we didn’t have space for a baby, how I wasn’t ready to move out of Brooklyn, how this would just totally screw everything up. I’m sure that had I been pregnant, I would have come to the conclusion that it was the best of all possible outcomes after I’d had a few days to turn it around in my mind. But at the moment, I was about 80% pissed, and 20% happy – and I think most of that 20% was comprised of fantasies of Felicity and I taking prenatal yoga together.

All of my friends who are pregnant work part-time or aren’t working at all. If I didn’t have to worry about how I could make a full-time job work with two kids, I can certainly see the logic in birthing the kids in quick succession, getting through the pregnancy/breastfeeding years in one fell swoop, and being that much closer to having a family where all members know how to wipe their own butt. I know that by waiting I am that much farther away from my fantasy of reading the paper while my children play – by themselves -- in the next room. I get all tingly just thinking about it.

I did not have a particularly hard pregnancy. My labor and delivery didn’t go as I’d hoped but I’ve certainly heard worse stories than mine. Yes, I feel overwhelmed some days by the one child I already have, but the more time I spend with other 2-year-olds, the more I realize that I actually have Muffin pretty well in hand and intermittent chaos is just part of the gig. However challenging it has been, there’s nothing about the experience of carrying and raising a child that makes me hesitate to repeat it someday.

And yet I know I am just not quite ready to do it again.

I love the spontaneous playdates that happen in the hallways of our building. I love that the Canuck and I still have a little time to debrief and make each other laugh each day. I love my 9-to-5 job. I love that Muffin and I can walk out the front door of our building and see a dog, a fire truck or an airplane in 10 seconds flat. I love fitting into the same clothes I wore before I had Muffin. I love how happy Muffin seems in our small but cozy apartment. I love that I can focus on her and only her in the few hours I have with her each night. Life is just so good, and why mess with a good thing?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Catch Up

One of the reasons – admit it! – people have kids is to see their own qualities reflected back at them. Muffin has a lot of me in her, what with her ski jump nose, her allergic-to-the sun skin tone and her undeniable dance ability. But thankfully there’s one big way that she does not resemble her mama one bit: she is a magnificently adventurous eater.

I spent most of my childhood trying to figure out a tactful way to deduce what was being served before accepting dinner invitations at friends’ houses. Even with screening, I’d often end up in awkward dinner situations, since, well, I didn’t really like anything unless it was completely sauce-, spice-, and flavor-free. Slowly over time (and in leaps and bounds since I met the Canuck, who is the most contagiously enthusiastic eater you will ever meet), I got over my food phobias and now consider myself only mildly picky. Although I'm probably still a culinary liability to the Canuck, I can accept any dinner invitation without hesitation.

I did not want to pass the finicky eater gene passed down to Muffin, and fortunately she is her father's daughter when it comes to food. Vegetables I've only learned to like as an adult -- broccoli, cauliflower, squash -- she eats with relish. I bought her a microwave kid dinner to try, and she ate all the peas and none of the mac 'n' cheese. One time the Canuck made a chili that was just too spicy for me to stomach, but she ate it no problem. Although "yellow cheese" is her most frequent request, I've seen her eat Humboldt Fog goat cheese, pecorino, dill havarti, brie and a very sharp Quebec cheddar. I learned early on that I could get her to eat any meat as long as I slathered it in BBQ sauce.

And while I remain staunchly anti-condiment, she is quite taken with ketchup. Eating out at a new, still-getting-the-service-down restaurant recently, I had to ask for ketchup five times, as Muffin grew despondent. When finally this tomato-based nectar of the gods arrived, she tucked into a basket of sweet potato fries happily, dipping all the way. When they cleared our table and took the ketchup away, she bid it farewell with a somber wave. I guess the loss hit her hard, because she kept repeating "bye, bye ketchup" all the way home.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Big Doings

March 11, P-day: Muffin first pees on the potty.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Back From Rehab

Some of the two people who read this blog (hi, Mom!) have wondered why I am not updating more. It’s a combination of things, really. I’ve been laying low – as low as a mother of a spastic toddler can lay – with a few minor but nonetheless nagging health issues. At the same time, the Canuck and I have both started very challenging new jobs and are recalibrating to find balance again. My new position involves much more writing than my previous one, with some overlap on the parenting issues I blather on about here, so I scratch the itch to write all day long. When I get home at night, now I scratch the American Idol itch instead.

But most of all, I think it’s just all too much. I mean that a little bit in the negative sense of feeling overwhelmed, but mostly in the most glorious sense. Life with Muffin is just so chocked full. It’s progressing at a rate I can’t keep up with, slipping through the fingers I use to type. I mean, she winks now – or tries to, in a manner that suggests a momentary eye twitch. She announces, “jump” and then gets about 2mm of vertical. She counts to ten, with her own flair: one-y, two-y, three-y. She adores speed bumps, ketchup, bracelets, Kraft singles and toilet paper. In the morning she gives me a yogurty goodbye kiss right on the lips.

It’s hard to feel like I can even do her justice.

Can you actually burst from pride? If so, we might have a real mess on our hands.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Notes on Traveling to Mexico With a Toddler

• There are some things about Mexico that make me want to chuck it all and raise my little panecillo in a shack by the sea. The cuisine for one – Muffin happily toots her way through meal after meal of beans. The hot weather makes her sleepy, so I enjoy a return to the heavenly era of twice-daily naps. And there’s always a cat or dog wandering around any restaurant you go to, which is a godsend during that interminable period in which your hungry child is waiting for food.

• Muffin’s hair, which at home is a mulletish mix of wavy and straight, morphs into a golden helmut of Shirley Temple ringlets. I fight the urge to slurp her up almost every second.

• There is bottled water for us to drink in the villa, but the water that comes out of the tap is not recommended for gringos. Because Muffin often drinks bathwater (ew, I know -- I’m trying to break her of this habit), we shower with her every day instead. Although I try to watch her very closely, I have to turn my back to grab towels or shampoo, so I can never be sure she has not opened her mouth to catch the downpour. I am dogged by barfing baby fears for the entire trip.

• Although our villa is right on the turquoise ocean, with a lovely pool to boot, Muffin is instead drawn to the tiny spicket at the side of the house. This faucet is usually just used for short intervals to clean off sandy feet, and I cross my fingers Mexico is not experiencing a water shortage as Muffin splashes around in it ten times a day.

• The Canuck gave me a Canon Rebel SLR for Christmas, and quite frankly, I am not worthy. The esoteric manual mocks me, with its assumption that any person who owns this bad-ass camera has a clue, which I don’t. Although Muffin is so cute and the light so stunning I couldn't’t help but get a few good shots with it, often I just grab the point-and-shoot out of sheer intimidation. Luckily the Canuck understands that I need a nudge and signs me up for a one-day weekend photo course.

• Although the concept was initially introduced by her Welsh honorary grandmother a few weeks ago, Muffin perfects her execution of “cheers." With the margaritas and chocolate milk flowing freely, she has many opportunities to clink glasses all around. Won’t that be a nice habit to bring with her to preschool?

To see photos from our trip to Mexico, click here.