I’m in a muddle about a variety of things.

Saturday I returned home from two weeks away doing research in “old papers” (as we tell the Bug) in an old city on the NE seaboard.  The second week of my research trip I was joined by BD and Bug.  We all camped out at BD’s Aunt’s house in a nearby suburb.  I took the commuter rail into town each day to do research and BD and Bug went to the beach, rode on a boat, played with cousins, generally had fun with Aunt, Uncle, and Grandpa.

Now I am back home, trying to get back into the groove, and staring down the barrel of an unwritten conference paper, half-digested research notes, and a lot of mommy angst.  What’s the mommy angst about?  Glad you asked.  There’s a few sources, but they intersect. One is the issue of the second child.  Whether or not to have.  And if, when.  BD and I went out to dinner (alone!  just the two of us!) while we were away and had our second Big Talk about the second baby issue.  We agreed to have one, and to start trying in August so as to ideally pop the bugger out early next summer, maximizing the combination of the academic summer-off with the during-the-year maternity leave.  I have a lot of fears.  That the adults won’t be able to deal with a newborn, we’ll never feel sane and well-rested again, and that we will be ruining both our own lives and that of the Bug.  He will never feel special again and we’ll never enjoy parenting again.  On the way home on the airplane, Bug was sitting on my lap during takeoff and for much of the trip after, and he was so sweet and agreeable and his little, warm body fit so perfectly on my lap.  I was so glad to be his mother, and I felt like I never wanted to lose that singular connection.  So there’s that. And there’s a million other things: I don’t think Bug will like a sibling based on his personality and his reaction to other kids (he does like them but is in a major anti-daycare phase because he says he doesn’t like the other kids there, etc.  He’s never been the kind of kid who voluntarily says hello and goodbye, never wants to hug other kids, is incredibly open and funny and nonstop chatty with BD and me, but can be somewhat closed with other kids and adults, though it does vary).

Of course there is a part of me that DOES want another child.  I like being a mother, I thought being pregnant and giving birth and breastfeeding were, for all their pains, a powerful and rewarding experience.  And I really do believe that in the long run I want more than one child.  I have the deep feeling of perpetuating the generations of my family — not a sense of duty as much as a sense that existentially it’s the right thing to do.  My parents are getting old, BD’s mother is already gone, and I now realize though my parents have loomed so large to me (and continue to do so in many ways) they are actually finite beings, and that I have to create my own life, my own future, and that feeling of creation and sense of futurity for me take the shape of wanting more kin, namely another child.  But that’s all kind of abstract when you’re thinking about middle-of-the-night wakeups and the like.  And let’s face it, the Bug was not an easy baby, so that’s my only experience.

Intersecting with all this is the fact the Bug is in a sort of frustrating phase.  Yes, he is 2.5, so it’s all to be expected.  Right now he is very sleep-resistant.  We pop him into his crib after all the bedtime rituals and he instantly claims he has to go to the bathroom.  Sometimes he really does, sometimes he doesn’t, so taking a tack of total non-response to his claims of “I need to pee” or “I need to poop” doesn’t seem like a good option.  But neither does the endless struggle over it we’re all engaged in now.  We always capitulate and go in, eventually, but it frustrates and annoys us and drags bedtime on forever.  And then he gets up between 5 and 6 in the morning!! So we’re just tired.  And he’s strong-willed, and we don’t really know what to do.  But I feel a little worn out by it.  And also by things like this: desperate crying/tantruming first thing in the morning because I, instead of BD, came to get him up out of his crib.  Or because his potty wasn’t in exactly the right spot on the bathroom carpet.    And you know, he just resists most things: toothbrushing, getting into the bath, getting out of the bath, getting dressed.

Of course I complain and feel wiped out and then two seconds later he is cracking me up or I’m just watching him lie on the floor absorbed in play and feeling that heart-swelling-with-love-and-amazement-about-the-beautiful-creature-in-our-lives-feeling.  Ah, motherhood.


Failures, and recoveries

I haven’t posted here in ages.  Not that it really matters.  I never could figure out my blog identity.  Some combination of food and child.  It’s very demograpically correct.

Speaking of boy, I just weathered a medium-size parenting fail.  Down in the crib for the Sunday afternoon nap, Bug makes it known, as he sometimes is wont to do, that he’s not that interested in a nap.  Probably would rather be playing with the “new” (from the Salvation Army, and missing parts) toy airplane that Grandpa and Dupey bought him (they left this afternoon).  So he is saying “I want to get up” and “I want Mom to come in,” but not really in any distress and alternating those statements with babble about other things — motors, front loaders, steam shovels, the usual.  Then after about an hour he sounds more distressed.  And then he is screaming and crying because he has taken a crap in his crib.  “I want Mom to clean up that poop.”  Oh, did I forget to tell you?  He wasn’t wearing any diaper, underwear, pants, nothing on the bottom.  By request.  And why not?  He hasn’t so much as peed during a nap in months and months.  I  swear I never heard him say anything about pooping — and he usually does when he needs to.  So then I was dealing with a very upset boy, a pile of crap on a sheet, and a failed nap.  But we recovered.  Went to the potty, sat there for a while, cleaned up the crib, changed sheets, and then I announced we would have a “do-over.”  So we started the whole nap routine again.  Stories, songs, in the crib.  Out the minute he hit the sheets.  So he went to sleep at 3 instead of 1.

So wherein lies the failure?  Well, you might not believe in cribs, so that might be a failure right there.  You might not think I should ever ignore a boy saying he wants his Mom to come in.  But in my mind, the failure was: a) not putting on a diaper in spite of the fact that he almost never ever needs one; b) not going in a little sooner to see what was up.  I was torn.  Sometimes I go in and re-tuck or explain that it’s naptime, blah-blah, but often that just makes things worse.  So I guess I wished I’d had better instincts during all phases.  The only good instincts I had were to do the “do-over” and just redo the whole nap routine so at least I wouldn’t also be dealing with a completely exhausted napless child by dinnertime.

Should we eat some spices?

The Bug has recently discovered that he can pull the kitchen stepladder up to the side of the countertops, climb the ladder, and then see — and touch — all that’s going on up at that mysterious altitude.  I’m generally in favor of this development as it gives him a feeling of greater agency and participation in the same general world as me and BD.  So one spot he can now reach is the spice drawer.  Instead of keeping the spices up in a cabinet I have them laid out in a drawer by the stove, which I find much more convenient for cooking.  They’re all in little glass containers that latch closed.  The Bug opens the drawer on Wednesday night and says “what’s that,” pointing to the jars of spices.  “Spices,” I reply.  “Should we try some of them?” he asks.  I’m thinking, sure, why not.  He’ll try one or two, realize it’s not that much fun to eat herbs and spices straight out of the jar, and that will be that.  But no, he just kept on trying them.  He ate: sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, basil, dill weed, fenugreek seeds, garam masala, curry powder, and a wee bit of salt.

This morning for breakfast, alongside his toast with almond butter he had oregano, sesame seeds, and cumin seeds.  He ate a lot of cumin seeds.  I hope that doesn’t cause any digestive distress.  Right now I’m sort of happy to support his adventures in eating, so long as they cause no harm to me, to him, or to our kitchen.  We’ll see how it all comes out.

Should we touch it?

Yesterday the Bug and I went for a late afternoon walk to the playground with the dogs while BD reorganized our storage closet and made dinner.  On our way home it was starting to get dark thanks to the time change.  This is one of the few recent times that Bug has been outside in the dark since he’s in bed by 7:30 and all spring and summer, it was light out then.   There was a big, beautiful almost full moon (it’s actually full today) sitting pretty low over the horizon in a cloudless sky.  I pointed it out to Bug as we were walking home.  He turned to face it, then looked at me and said, “should we touch it?”  I told him to reach for it, to stretch his arms out as long as he could.  He did, but still couldn’t reach it.  Then he wanted to walk closer to it.  All the way home, as we moved along he wanted to keep track of the moon.  We spied it over houses and through tree branches.  “It’s floating in the sky” Bug pronounced.

For bedtime stories last night I pulled out “Goodnight Moon,” which we haven’t read in ages, to honor our time with the moon.  Bug was very, very interested in it.  The big, glowing moon outside the window in the story looked just like the moon we had seen outside.  This morning in the car he remarked, “remember, we read a story, Goodnight Moon.”

We have another cloudless sky today, so hopefully tonight we can take the Bug outside to see the full moon.

Other news:

Friday we carved pumpkins, two small ones, and lit them up as we ate dinner.  We turned off the lights in the kitchen to watch them glow.  “They are glowing” Bug said.  He was very interested in the candles.

Verbs, other sayings and doings.

The Bug is 22 months, 1 week today.  One of the interesting recent developments in his language is that he is making verbs.  He’s been using verbs for a while now, but only verbs that he hears us use.  Now he is making his own verbs, adding -ing to the end of things.  For example, he recently said that a man in one of his books was “guitaring,” which is to say that the guy was playing the guitar.  And yesterday he was playing with the DDs’ metronome and announced that it was “tick-tocking.”  So that’s cool.

What else is new with The Bug?  A lot.  He’s really, really, really into trucks and other vehicles.  He’s into riding his “bike” around the house.  He loves riding on his bike seat on my or Baby Daddy’s bike.  We started taking him to the beach after finally realizing that it might be a cool place to take a kid  who love to dig in the sand.  Plus now that it’s past Labor Day, the beaches in town are free.  He’s eating really well, though he’s still not too much into self-feeding and prefers to have one or both of us make eating seem exciting or fun in one way or another.  He continues to be into beets, though now he likes to eat them raw and grated, and even eats kale on a somewhat regular basis, and not just the chip form of it.  I introduced him to pumpkin seeds the other day and he really digs those.

This morning he had a good old-fashioned tantrum.  One of the few we’ve gotten from him.  He wanted to play with a bottle of lotion, which was okay by me, but I told him he had to keep it in the bathroom, not in the dining room where he had carried it.  So I picked it up off the floor and brought it into the bathroom.  He stayed on the dining room floor and sort of kicked his legs around and whined a bit.  Then he came into the bathroom and really just cried, even though I was telling him the whole time that he could now play with the lotion bottle.  As usual, Baby Daddy saved the day by passing us some goggles to play with.  Tantrum over.

A Bicycle Built for Two

One of my goals for the summer was to figure out some way to start biking with the Bug.  Now that he’s at a new (and better) daycare, he is closer to my office.  I figured it would be fun and planet-saving to bike to work, dropping Bug off on the way.  In typical fashion, however, I spent half the summer in a fit of angst about which method of toddler-transporting to choose.  The good old fashioned rear seat? Or the cooky front seat?  The demographically-correct Burley trailer? The lovely but expensive Madsen cargo bike?  The even lovelier, even more expensive bakefiets?  Actually the latter was never an option since it was way, way out of our price range.  Each seemed to have its advantages and disadvantages, and the prices were all over the map.  To top it off, I had to get myself a new bike first.

In the end, I found myself a nice old ladies Schwinn on Craigslist, and went with the deluxe front-set from BoBike.  We tried the cheaper Ibert front seat first, but the Bug had a tantrum when I tried to get him into it and I really had to bow out my knees to ride with it.  Then when BD and I were on our Pacific Northwest Idyll I saw a dad and son riding with the BoBike mini and I knew it was for me.  I ordered it when we got home, introduced it to the Bug over a series of days — first just putting him in it and rolling him around the driveway, then taking short rides in the neighborhood, then finally starting to ride to and from daycare.  Once he got used to it (and accepted the fact that in order to go on the incredibly fun and exhilarating bicycle he was going to have to wear a f***ing helmet) he loves riding on it, and I consider our commute together one of the best parts of my day.  We ride in the summer sunshine, chat about the cars and trucks and dogs we are seeing, and I don’t have to deal with parking.  I’ll continue this as long as the weather permits, which I’m hoping will be well into November.


Our kitchen/office/bathroom renovations have begun.  Brawny Romanian workmen arrived at 8am on August 4th and began taping off the floors, sealing up the doorways, and then pounding the shit out of cabinets and walls.  They took out all the old kitchen cabinets, appliances, countertops, soffits, and wood-paneled walls.  Underneath the god-awful rental-white wood paneling was the original subway tile, put in when the building was constructed in 1928.  It was beautiful and also too damaged to salvage.  All that glue used to put up the tiles has forever damaged it.  Sad, but fun, to see.

It’s going to be fun living with a toddler & 2 dogs & no kitchen & bathroom for 2-4 weeks.  It’s not quite as bad as all that since we can sleep and bathe in the basement and were able to use the DDs kitchen while they were out of town.  That got us through one week of eating, at least!

Now, about to begin week 3 of the renovations, we have made do with meals.  We have grilled a TON.  I never want to eat another gluten sausage again.  Or another corn cob. Too bad we have about 8 more cobs of corn sitting in our fridge (thank you CSA).  We went for 2-for-1 pizza night at a local eatery, only our second meal out with the Bug in his toddlerhood.  And this week I arranged to use the DDs kitchen for a couple of meals — pesto pasta & kale chips and burritos — and made extras for their dinner in exchange.

In other eating news: more greenbeans coming in, which the Bug is still enjoying crunching on.  We ate the first of our garden tomatoes, which was good but not as earth-shattering as I had hoped.  More tomatoes are ripening.  We also discovered a crazy kind of heirloom bean called “dragon’s tongue” at the farmer’s market that Bug loves to eat raw.  And last week at the mid-week farmer’s market he insisted on buying raspberries and blueberries, fruit he normally scorns.  Though when we got home his love affair with blueberries was over; he kept eating the raspberries.  The past two weekends at the Saturday farmer’s market Bug has urged me to buy these little half-pints of wild strawberries.  They are the perfect bite-size berries for little mouths, and he usually devours half the box while we’re still at the market.  Today he tried raw cabbage as well, which seemed to be a hit.

I am really ready for these renovations to be over so we can end our camping in the basement experience.  But all told, we are lucky.