msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
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January 27, 2005

Desperate housewife

Ahhhh, Julian went down for his nap so easily today, it was fantastic. Of course, since I have plans to update this journal while he's sleeping, it will probably only be a 30 minute nap or something horrible like that. When we have to be somewhere at a specific time, well *that's* when the 2.5 hour nap happens.

Lately it takes forever to get this baby to sleep. He's *tired* all right, but playing and exploring is just sooo much fun that he finds it difficult to stop. I'm really glad that he's an incredibly funny and cute baby, because if he weren't so funny and cute I would be seriously, seriously annoyed by these bedtime antics.

Typical bedtime is SOOOOOOO tired he's ready to drop. Crying/whining/fussing nonstop, eyes closing, the works. He has been playing like mad all day long and is exhausted. He's clean, he's warm, he's got his jammies on...totally ready for a good long sleep. I lay him down in bed and get ready to nurse him. Ah, nursing...he snuggles into me, puts his feet on my bell, and his baby body is totally still except for the little suck-suck-suck. Perfect, won't be long now until he's totally out.

Except that suddenly...a flurry of activity! Chubby legs start pumping and twisting in order to get underneath him at the right angle to get up on his knees. The arm spins around and there he is in prime crawling position, with a huge grin on his face. Hey! Look what I did! Bet you thought I was sleeping, right?

Then he tears off out of bed (the mattress is on the floor and he can climb in and out perfectly well) to go flip through one of his books, or beat his hands on top of his little bedside table, etc. He even knows how to turn the bedside lamp on and off, which is hysterical. It's basically a sliding dimmer switch, so now when he gets out of bed he turns on the light and everything. What a little man. One he even turned the light *out* before coming back to bed, which was quite talented of him, I must say.

After maybe five minutes of playing, he's back. Time for another quick nurse. Then he's off again. This scenario repeats 2-5 times until he is so tired that he can no longer crawl off the bed. Now he stays on the bed and just crawl-staggers around like a little drunk. I grab him and pull him down next to me in sleeping-nursing position, but he struggles to get up again, just one more time. Weaving around, he collapses back down. Will he stay down this time? NO! He's back up! He lurches around in a one-foot radius, dropping down, then struggling mightily to get back up. Now? Yes now...I grab him and pull him back in next to me, and this time he stays down. He might de-latch and roll away a half-turn (which is good, because it's easier for me to sneak away), but that's it. I quietly and carefully crawl out of bed and exit the room.

Glancing at the clock, I see that this whole production has taken an hour and twenty minutes. Jesus Christ! Now I'm a little bit envious of parents who just put their kid in the crib and let them go through all the playing/standing up/laying down/finally passing out by themselves. But then again, I wouldn't really want to miss it. Every time he comes back to nurse he is full of loving slobbery kisses and hugs and pats and snuggles for me, and we laugh and giggle together as he tries to bite my nose, then I pretend to bite his. I wouldn't want to miss his happy little sighs when we cuddle before he gets up to play again. It just takes so damn long sometimes, and I have so much CHORING to do. Then I get stressed out and start thinking, "Damn it, would you just SLEEP! Enough already! Aaaargh!" But if I'm not too stressed and I can relax about it, then I really enjoy that time spent watching him cruise around the room playing and then happily coming back to his Mama full of love and kisses.

Yes, I need to remind myself that it's a sweet, precious thing that won't last more than the blink of an eye, because all last week I was a Total Wreck, overwhelmed by motherhood and wifehood and
sick of being the lowest (wo)man on the totem pole all the fucking time. I lost my cool. Everything pissed me off. Goddamn stupid dog, whiny baby, and helpless husband...all sucking up every last ounce of my energy. My whole life morphed into an endless Give-a-Thon, with zero return. How had this happened? Didn't I used to be a fairly bad-ass, smart, independent woman with an interesting whirlwind life, frequent travels, intelligent conversations, loads of free time? How did I get to the point where the dog is wearing a clean fleece coat and has his teeth brushed, but I have on ill-fitting black sweatpants with baby snot on the leg and I haven't brushed my teeth or washed my face all day?

If the baby's sleeping, the dog needs to be fed. If the dog and baby are taken care of, then Dan needs something. I feel somewhat bitchy telling him to make his own damn coffee or put peanut butter on his own toast, but I haven't had a break for myself in months. Emailing during baby naps is as much as I get. I'm blessed with so much, but the whole 24/7 care thing does indeed get me down.

I also seem to have lost any and all power that I ever had, which is hard to
get used to. No one takes me seriously in my wife/mom role. My baby-on-hip is like a big sign that says, "Disrespect me! Don't even think about taking me seriously, I'm just a wife and mom!" And to think that people used to find me intimidating!

I am having a murderous time
with repairmen and the like, because no matter how authoritative I try to
sound, they all seem to want to jerk me around and rip me off. Then Dan
calls and they're out here in a flash apologizing all over themselves and
kissing ass. It's unbelievable. That has been happening over and over and
over again.

Julian probably picked up on my bad mood. He was so uncharacteristically fussy and troublesome for a few days, he drove me absolutely bonkers. Let's see, our fun activities of those two days included:

  • messing non-stop with the houseplant and eating dirt out of the pot
  • getting his fingers caught in every cupboard and drawer. How? He closes the cupboard/drawer as hard as he can while his fingers are still holding the edge. One time he had the fingers of one hand underneath a plate while the other hand pressed down on *top* of the plate with his full body weight.
  • refusing the potty under any/all circumstances, then peeing on me or the floor not even a minute later
  • goes into a room, shuts the door behind him, then cries because...the door is now shut! When I come to open up the door he cries because the door is now pushing him out of the way, and as soon as it's open, he starts to shuts it see where this is going.

    He did nothing but fuss and cry and get into trouble for a few days straight. Drove me up the freakin' wall. I felt like I was on the verge of pulling a Mommie Dearest. I did yell at him when he crawled into the wet shower and started pumping out all my overly expensive Aveda conditioner onto the floor during the two seconds that I spent brushing my teeth instead of being on Constant Baby Patrol. Felt bad afterwards but hey, I'm no saint. Sometimes mommy gets mad and just can't take it anymore.

    Bugs was chapping my hide as well. I think he's still getting used to the new house. He barks at every little thing and doesn't seem to know where to sleep at night. He gets up and roams around, switches bedrooms, wants to go outside at 3:00am, then of course *doesn't* want to go once I'm up out of bed and groggily holding the door open for him.

    Oh, and I suddenly had a bunch of work to do for my job last week, which had to be squeezed in during all too short baby naps and late at night after he had gone to bed. That was stressful too, since customers were waiting and couldn't be put off.

    Dan was out of town right at the peak of all this, so I didn't even get a sanity break at any point. Fussy baby, clingy barky dog, halfway-unpacked house of chaos where I can't find anything....and it's January, so it's all cold and rainy and shitty outside. Yes, I know, it's California. But I hate January. January gets me down. It's dark and damp and chilly. I am massively
    susceptible to seasonal depression. I don't know how I came from Northern
    European stock, because if I had to live in a cold, wet, gray place most of
    the year I'd kill myself.

    Everyone has had colds, so most of our playgroups are cancelled, and just taking the dog for his daily walk involves an hour of bundling Julian and me up in thick socks, hats, gloves, getting him into his Ergo, wait, why is he crying and grabbing himself and farting? Does he have to poop? Tear clothes off, put him on potty...nope, no poop. Put clothes back on baby. Now sweating in my hat and jacket. Phone rings...where is the damn phone in this sea of boxes? Bugs is now in a pre-walk FRENZY and is racing around whining and pawing at me and driving me crazy. Aaargh, I haven't eaten anything for lunch except a handful of marshmallows and it's 4:00pm, I need to eat something before we go on this walk. What can I eat in five minutes or less? Bugs, stop HASSLING me!

    As predicted, Julian is up after a mere 40 minute nap. Sigh.


    OK, that is too funny. I took Julian to pee, played with him for a few minutes, and then went into the bedroom to put a sweater on. I left the office door open, and when I came back Julian had crawled in and typed the above into my journal. I guess he had to add his two cents.

    Thankfully the fussy times are over for now. I tried *really* hard to snap myself out of it and just count my blessings, do whatever it would take to get me out of my funk, and it worked. I'm trying to get more exercise, get out of the house more often, start going back to yoga on a regular basis, and if I can't get a lot done on any particular day, so be it. Except my paying job, that work can't really wait too long. I'm also trying to remind myself that I need to eat breakfast and lunch on a regular basis, and if the kitchen isn't sparkling or the dog needs a bath, those things can wait until I'm fed and have my clothes on. My needs don't have to come last.

    A friend of mine wrote: "Just remember that you *have* to take time for yourself. I know it seems hard, or selfish, or whatever - but in order to be a good mama and wife, you have to remain connected to yourself and your needs. At times I feel guilty or overwhelmed and I find myself trapped in a constant cycle of taking care of everyone around me except myself. If it lasts too long, I become grumpy, depressed, and short-tempered. Then I go out with my girlfriends, wear something "anti-mommy", and dance like a fool with young 21 yr old boys. LOL You get the picture. Find a little freedom in your life. And don't feel guilty about it."

    Amen sister! That just about describes my recent mood to a T. I don't know that I'll be dancing with 21 year-old boys anytime soon, but I can indeed try to find a little freedom in my life.

    OK, so here's a weird thing. I'm actually *below* my pre-baby weight. A size 6 is kind of loose on me. For several months after Julian was born I couldn't even squeeze myself into a size 10! But here a year later, I'm fitting into pants that were too small for me before he was born. I don't know what's up, because I have not been exercising at all beyond taking long walks several times a week and lifting a 23-pound baby several million times a day. My belly is still all crumply, I don't think it will ever recover, I can certainly improve it I guess, but even when I was doing Pilates core stuff every day the skin was still loose. Sometimes it really bothers me, but most of the time I'm just like...oh well. Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, right? I guess I'll have to just turn down that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue modelling job this year. Ha.

    Due to the aforementioned weight change, I haven't had a pair of pants that fit me decently for about two years now. First I was pregnant, then I was too fat, then I got thin again...and all along I have worn ill-fitting pants that were too small, too big, sagged in the butt, were too low-cut (low-rise pants are SO not a good look for new moms, can you say Maximum Belly Flab Accentuation?) or had to be held up by one of my equally ugly-ass belts. Really a blow to your self-esteem when you wake up and have two pairs of super-ugly and ill-fitting pants to choose from. Let's see, should I be ugly in jeans, or ugly in black pants?

    As part of my funk-lifting program, I decided that it's time for new pants. My dream pants are tailored, have a flattering fit, don't squeeze rolls of baby belly over the top, can be dressed up or down, and are durable enough for me to wipe my hands on several times a day.

    Well, I didn't really find those exact pants, because that would be some sort of miracle, but I did find some decent trousers at Banana Republic. Two are more dressy in grey and black, one is grey flannel, and then one pair of dark jeans that come closer than anything to fitting the dream pant ideal.

    Once I put on some decent-fitting pants I was like, "Oh gee, I really have lost weight, eh?". What a difference. I have been wearing size 8 pants and holding them up with a belt. It's not flattering at all. All my size 6 pants from pre-baby are way too Hoochie Mama. They're maybe good for going out dancing, but not for taking care of a baby all day. Although I guess leather pants *would* be stain-resistant. But not too good for wiping my hands on. And not too comfy.

    Another great thing...I just finalized my main landscaping project for the new house
    which is...bamboo, and lots of it. Fantastic, dramatic varieties from a
    great place in Santa Cruz called Bamboo Giant.

    Our house sits at a 4-way stop, so we need coverage. In front, we'll have 57 feet
    of alternating Henon bamboo and Leopard bamboo in front.

    Along the backyard fence (with a busy street on the other side) we will have
    the showpiece varieties:

    and along the back fence by the hot tub, more Leopard

    Our new house is wonderful, but there is street noise, and a lack of
    privacy. I am going for the lush, private, jungle-slash-Buddhist temple
    look. It also goes with the overall architecture and color scheme of this house, which is low-slung ceilings with lots of skylights, wood floors, plantation shutters, and earthy tones of khaki and soft mossy green. Very different from our townhouse, which was bright bright colors, lots of red and yellow. This is a softer look. I kind of miss the bright colors, but I can go with this look too.

    I'm practically obsessed with doing this project, I can't freakin' wait until the guys get here and start installing the plants. I've had this landscaping bamboo dream going on for a looooooong time, I can't believe it's
    finally going to happen!

    Also on my self-improvement biting my nails. My nail-biting has gotten WAY out of hand and needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. I swear though, it's worse than heroin. At least with heroin you can get away from the stuff. I can't exactly get away from my hands. They're always there, and now my fingers are so chewed up that they're all rough and scratchy, which of course just makes me want to chew them more, because they're already all messed up. Once it gets to this point it's REALLY hard to break the habit, I know that from experience. The best way to not bite your nails is to have nice nails that you don't want to mess up by biting. It's a big nasty Catch-22.

    In the past I've been successful by just wearing gloves until my hands recover a bit and the nails grow long enough to file smooth. But it's hard to take care of Julian with gloves on. At least I got gloves to wash the dishes with. That wasn't helping...dry-ass, cracked-up, dishpan hands on top of the biting. Ugh. I also know that I bite the most when I am laying down with Julian trying to get him to go to sleep. I'm just bored, and it's something to do. So I need to put on gloves before I take him to bed. Seriously. It's horrible. I'm so ashamed of my hands. I look at them and I'm like, "What kind of freak bites their nails like that? Damn!" Old habits die really, really, hard. But this one I can at least keep at bay. I have had nice nails for long periods at a time, and I can do it again.

    Let's see, does that cover it? I think so, at least for right now. Just in time for lunch, which I actually made this morning and is ready to serve, wonder of wonders!

    I'm not such a bad housewife when things go halfway right. ;-)

  • January 10, 2005

    Moving day

    We're finally moving today! After packing up boxes like a fiend for the last week, I'm ready. Can't wait to get the hell out of here and into our fabulous new house!

    Julian has been such a good boy. All week long he has been crawling around investigating all the boxes and helping me pack. He will grab some little object (yesterday it was a take-out menu from a local cafe) and carry it in his hand as he crawls, then drop it into one of the open boxes. So funny. He is exploring everything and having a ball, which is fantastic, becasue it keep him busy and happywhile I'm packing. He also likes to crawl inside the empty cupboards and open and shut the doors. The only time he ever gets fussy is when he's tired or hungry, otherwise he wants to be playing and investigating!

    Yesterday we took a few carloads of fragile items and clothing over to our new house and Julian crawled around at top speed exploring every room. He was so excited, just singing and talking non-stop and speed-crawling to inspect every nook and cranny. Soooooo cute. Bugs is totally fired up too.

    Anyway, I'm not done yet, still have a few more rooms to clear of the last remaining odds and ends. The movers come at 9:00am, so I had better hop to it!

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