Wednesday, September 19, 2012

if sleep were a man, i'd stalk him and make him mine.

if you keep up with me on facebook, you will know i'm tired. you may even be tired of my posts about being tired. actually, i could post even more frequently about my lack of sleep, but i'm too tired to think of unique ways to say i'm tired. tell me you're tired of hearing about it. i dare you.

before i became a mother, i had never — really, NEVER — heard of sleep deprivation. if i could turn back time, i'd go back and ask every new mom i ever knew why the hell she didn't say anything. oh, i know why. shhhh. no one is supposed to know that motherhood isn't the way it looks in the diaper ads or when celebrities pose for the cover of People Magazine. let's put some real moms in those ads and magazine covers, complete with dark circles, stringy hair, and leaky-boob stains on their pajamas. oooh and then lets coerce her into an interview where she tells the truth about what it's like to feel like you're 80 rather than 35 when you wake up and then have an all-day hangover (sans the previous night of fun typically preceding hangovers).

raise your hand if you think i sound like a jerk. now, keep that arm in the air. i will be around shortly to rip it off and beat you with it. i'm not a jerk. i love my son. but will i lie and gush about how wonderful motherhood is? no. you know what's wonderful? when my son talks to himself in his crib after waking from a nap...when i throw him in the air and that gummy grin covers his entire face...when he concentrates really hard to let out a fart and doesn't know how funny it is...when he says ma-mom. those things? wonderful, hands down. not wonderful? nighttime. it has been eight months since i've slept an entire eight hours. actually, more than eight months bc the end-of-pregnancy 50-lb-backpack-strapped-to-your-belly feeling tends to prevent restful sleep. look, i don't expect eight hours of sleep, or even seven, with a baby. six would be nice. five would be good. four or three would be acceptable. anything but the one or two hours i typically get before the up-every-hour relay begins. and really, thank you all for suggesting books/websites to read, but the truth is — while i will skim the info and absorb some bits that make sense — i will not do the work it takes to train my child to sleep. for one, it just doesn't seem natural, and two, i have always found mass-produced self-help to be suspect. it's just weird. so i'll figure this sleep disaster out in my own way, as i do most things.

and let's talk about cereal before bed. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? WERE YOU ON QUAALUDES WHEN  YOU THOUGHT YOUR CHILD WAS MAGICALLY SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT BECAUSE OF CEREAL? these must be the same people who told me their newborns would nap during the day when they swaddled them super-tight or turned on the vacuum. really? cause the only way my newborn napped was...never. not until he was about two months old. and the only way he slept at night was on my chest on the couch. and then that had to end bc i was introduced to the possibility of him rolling off my chest onto the floor where he'd smash into a million baby pieces or roll into the side of the couch where he'd suffocate between my mom's french country cushions, or whatever decorating style she uses. buncha sconces and swirly metal wall hangings and pillows with tassels and paintings of houses we don't live in. so anyhow...the next person to suggest cereal before bed will be the next to be beaten with their own arm. get outta my way. i'm exhausted.

and we definitely must discuss breastfeeding. nothing stokes the inner pugilist of a breastfeeding mom more than hearing "eww, it's so gross" or "i'm definitely going with formula when i have a baby." hey, guess what? you're gross. and when you have a baby, i hope your epidural doesn't work. i'm making a sacrifice here. i'm giving up my formerly beautiful breasts, my nighttime sleep, my ability to eat cabbage or cauliflower or anything else deliciously gaseous, my freedom to wear what i want (bc now every outfit must account for quick boob access), my ability to drink beer (i mean one or two beers, not six, and not every night. while i'm at it: those of you who continue to drink yourselves stupid past the age of 25, raise your hand. i'll be by shortly). i enjoyed breastfeeding for the first few months. do i still enjoy it? not that much. but i'm not stopping until he's a year old, bc why would i want to give him a man-made substitute, most likely produced with some freaky-ass chemicals, which is made in the first place to REPLICATE THE PROPERTIES OF BREAST MILK? also, no, i don't think it's excessive that i would rather make his baby food myself and that i don't put butter or salt in it. and by the way: STOP PUTTING YOUR FINGERS IN MY CHILD'S MOUTH. and secondly by the way: yes, i know some moms have to use formula and don't make their own baby food, so don't bother telling me your stories now that i've made you feel like a bad mom. that's your deal. i don't care.

next up i would like to discuss women who say men are no help with children. okay, ladies, here's what you do: get pregnant, then break up with your husband or boyfriend. let me know how that works out. let me clarify that i don't have it half as bad as many single moms who don't have help from their parents. my hat — hell, my hat, my shoes, pants, shirt, and nursing bra — go off to them. i have only a mild idea of what they go through. what is happening to me is not the worst ever — but it's what's happening to me, and i feel better talking about it. also, to those who say "you need to get over what happened in memphis": i will when my circumstances don't constantly remind me of what happened. if you can't deal with that, then raise your hand. i'll be over shortly.

you know who tells the truth about motherhood? women with toddlers, grade-schoolers, and teenage children. they're the ones who tell me i'm not a raging a-hole. you know what else? right now i hear my fat baby talking to himself in his crib. and i'm smiling. because he's wonderful, hands down.

Monday, September 17, 2012

thoughts, like sparks.

yesterday another set of bricks were laid in the grass next to my kaiser. my brother "had them kill his dog," as he put it. a stroke earlier in the day had paralyzed her. stealey was nearly 14, a former playmate of my kaiser. i have a darling picture of them in my old apartment on valley view road in morgantown, on my couch with their front paws on the top cushions, looking out the window, tails at happy attention. that was 1999, and my couch was drenched in two types of purple fabric i'd chosen from the tree-trunk-sized rolls at the store on don knotts boulevard. the swaths' edges were held together with safety pins or left free to fray bc i didn't yet own a sewing machine to finish them. my grandmother would buy me one for christmas the next year, and from then on i would become an average seamstress. if i had become a great seamstress i wouldn't have had time to become average at the twenty-odd other hobbies and habits that occupied the billions of blinks and breaths that signaled the passing of thousands of my days. being the best at anything requires a degree of focus that acts as water to the fires set in my mind. tiny fires...sparks, much like those i recall seeing as a child at my family's welding shop...little bursts of red-orange with flashes of white, spitting and bouncing into the air.

my brother raised stealey with great care and focus, and she was far better behaved than any of my dogs. discipline dampened my affection for my dog-children, and so we went mostly without. we fared okay over the years, despite. as for my human child, it's much the same — thus far, i'm allowing him to wander along his big new world as he pleases. eventually along our way — maybe this week or next year or whenever the occasion or unruly sparks in his burgeoning thoughts call for it — i'll intervene in his world. hopefully not too much bc i want him to be independent, but hopefully enough bc i want him to grow to be a man of integrity. tread carefully, my son, for you'll leave footprints wherever you roam.

men of integrity. a subject that has smoldered inside me for years. there are a few men of integrity out there, although too few in my experience. i have always struggled with feeling i had to choose between believing it was my fault for choosing poorly or the man's fault for behaving poorly. these days i'm less inclined to think i have to choose; i accept (with a degree of embarrassment) my missteps and hold an awareness of (accompanied by dormant resentment) the reckless urges of men. essentially, the fault in relationships lies exactly how faults lie: it is a chasm between two sides. depending on the forces within, it might remain narrow and silent or stretch wide and furious.

fire, like thoughts, can be a thing of creation or destruction. thoughts, like sparks, like this blog entry, can shoot in all directions from their starting point and sputter in quiet irresolution.