Archives for category: family

Well… I survived this past weekend!

A whirlwind recap of a whirlwind weekend would go something like this: my parent’s arrive Thursday afternoon and come over to drop off baby gear, say hello to me and the puppy, and somehow acquire a ticket in a parking spot I see in use every single day (sorry, Mom and Dad!) before heading out to Queens and “their” hotel in the city (which has free off-street parking – a huge perk!) … my husband’s parents arrive Thursday night and settle in to our spare bedroom/nursery before we head out for a quick dinner and then home for bed … somewhere in all this, my sister also arrives in the city, but she is staying with my brother, and so I don’t get to see her yet 😦

Friday morning, I am up at my usual time (6am or so … WISH I could sleep in, but alas, internal alarms aren’t as easily reset as those resting on our bedside tables) and enjoy a few hours to myself before anyone else in the apartment is up for the day … Eventually, everyone is up and eating breakfast and doing a variety of things, and I get to go pick my sister up from the subway station – YAY! … arrive back at the apartment to find the husband’s family out, so I get to enjoy time alone with my sister (PERFECT!) and then the two of us go out to eat as the rest wander back in … After lunch, it’s time to decide what to wear (note: made the wrong choice. 8 months pregnant + velvet graduation robe = does NOT need tights to stay warm) wit the help of my sister, then off across the park to graduation! … Meet up with my family, get stuck with the rest of the graduates by accident so can’t spend more time with them (argh!), and then sit through an interminable ceremony full of “interesting” speeches (eh, not so much… and just a note: the colon is NOT part of the upper GI tract, nor is there such a thing as  “metatastic”, as cool as the word may sound) … Walk across the stage – TWICE! – sweating and grumbling … Until finally the ceremony is over, I can remove the robes and try to fan off the pools of sweat that have accumulated underneath, and make my escape! … Back to the apartment, whole family in tow, to meet up with the few who didn’t make it to the mind-numbing speeches … Out to dinner (mmmm… Thai!) and then home again, to say good-nights and go to bed

Saturday morning was another lovely early few hours of peace for me, followed by the eventual wakefulness of the husband’s family and setting out on our adventure down in Union Square… Wandered through the Farmer’s Market, where we met up with my parents … Wandered through Babies R Us, where his dad took delight in trying to buy us everything in sight, and succeeding in buying maybe half of what he wanted … The off the girls go, to my New York baby shower!

The shower, I must say, was lovely – my sister and sister-in-law did a great job of knowing me/listening to me, and did everything just as I could have wanted – small, friendly, and with as little focus on ME as possible 😉 We all enjoyed an amazingly delicious vegan lunch paired with yummy tea (it was held in a tea house!) while chatting and having fun, and then I opened my amazing presents (seriously! amazing! lovely! and very, very thoughtful!) … Perfect!

From there, I went home with my mom, mother-in-law, and sister… I had hoped that we might still have time to go out and do something, but – that wasn’t in the cards. Apparently, what was in the cards: building all the baby stuff … Stroller, swing, mobile, etc … fun???? eh, not so much… though my father-in-law certainly thought so (my sister, no) … Eventually my sis decided to head back to my brother’s (since the entertainment of watching guys struggle to build things while ignoring the manuals was wearing thin – for all of us) and then the rest of us eventually headed out to dinner (mmmm – pizza!) before my parent’s went back to their hotel and we went back to the apartment, to read and rest and go to bed.

Sunday morning, everyone was leaving – my parents driving home, my sister catching an early flight … By noon, the in-laws also departed for their flight, and finally, finally, we had the apartment back to ourselves.

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Now – some thoughts on all of this… (And the reason behind the title)

1. The main events of the weekend? My graduation, and my baby shower (OK, “our” baby shower, but it was just girls, so… mostly mine!). So, um, WHY was MY family staying in a hotel, and HIS family with us? Good question. Originally, the plan was for both parents to stay elsewhere, and my sister to stay with us – a plan I was very excited for, as I never get to see her enough, and wanted some good girly time with her. Except… Then his parents invited themselves to stay with us. No questions, just “we’re doing it.” Now – don’t get me wrong – I love his parents, I love seeing them and even love having them stay with us (mostly), but – COME ON! This is MY weekend (sort of), so – shouldn’t *I* get to decide?!?! But, no. Because I don’t want to start a war with them, and really? In the scheme of things? This is not a big deal.

I really do think it comes down to something familial, or cultural – my parents would never have thought of staying with us this weekend, they would have felt it too much an imposition (they have stayed with us at other times in the past, and will again in the future – just not when there is so much going on, and they know I/we may need our space and rest) ; his parents, meanwhile, stay with us each and every time they come, and would never even think of getting a hotel to stay at, no matter what is going on around them. Like I said, just a difference in viewpoint. And I know that, and accept that, and really, it’s fine. It’s just that sometimes, I need to blow off some steam… Especially after having my home invaded for 4 days!!!

2. On very much the same track, guess what their new plan is??? When baby girl is born (2.5 weeks! GAH!!!) my parents are, of course, coming – but will stay with my brother. My sister is coming, as well (which, since she lives across the country, is AMAZING and LOVELY and I cannot tell you how much I love her!!!), and her husband – but he’s working it so he has business to do here on the trip, so they will get a hotel and write it off as a business expense. His parents? Will likely not make it for the actual day of the birth, due to unchangeable commitments they had already made (baby girl is scheduled to arrive a week early, which I don’t think they were expecting) – but they WILL come as soon as they possibly can, likely the day I am to leave the hospital. And? I highly suspect that they will be (wanting to) stay with us then, as well.

Now, I know what they are thinking – because my mother-in-law said this to me enough times this past weekend – which is, I will need someone to help me during this time. In fact, in their culture, the new mother is not supposed to do ANYTHING for a month after birth (including taking a shower – ew!) … And I was told that if I were to be giving birth back in their country, they would be putting me up in this swanky birthing center where the mom and baby stay for a month after birth, the mom with her own attendant (servant?) and the baby with her own nurse, each getting individual care and, you know, being waited on hand-and-foot. Which? Doesn’t sound half bad, to be honest. But! It’s not exactly the culture here, and not exactly my personality to be able to lounge around for that long… So… Yeah. But, that brings us to the point – they want to stay here so that they can help me/us. Which, on the surface, is totally awesome.

But?!?!?! Let’s think about this for a moment. We live in NYC. In an apartment. A small one. It has 2 bedrooms (with 2 doors! WOOT! the only thing that makes any of this even remotely possible and not totally sending me into pulling-out-my-hair spasms of agony), 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen, and a small living/dining/everything else area. They will arrive the DAY I GET RELEASED FROM THE HOSPITAL. As in, before I get back to my own apartment myself. So – NO time for me, my husband, our daughter (and our dog) to just be there, ourselves, a family… NO time for me to adjust to being a mother out of the hospital, on my own …

Now, I am not sure where this is going. What our decision will be. What will happen. I imagine, if they plan to stay only a little while (2-3 days?) I can – and will – allow it. For the sake of the family. Because I know their intentions are beyond good. Because, in the end, this is one of those compromises one makes. But if it emerges that the stay is longer than this – well, then, I may just blow my top. Because mama needs her space, dammit!

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I woke up yesterday morning at 7am – a full hour later than I am used to, given the *LOVELY* carpal tunnel that I’ve developed and which is in the habit of waking me up to numb/painful hands every 2 hours or so all night long – and took the puppy for a nice morning walk. When we got home, he shot back into bed with the husband, while I checked email and played on the computer. Also had hand-delivered to me via our fantastic doorman some beautiful orchids courtesy of my little sis, who I’m pretty sure is the best baby sister in the world.

A bit later, I was ready to start the day, so I waddled (OK, I’m not quite to that stage yet… but I certainly walked slower than usual) to the subway and from there to the store, to stock up on some of the weekly sale items. Shuffled home to a husband and puppy who had just recently awoken (at 11am – I don’t think I could sleep in that late no matter how hard I tried!)

Took a nice little breather with a ice-cold drink and a good book on the couch while the pup kept my feet warm and the husband went on a run to enjoy the weather.

Once he was home, we ventured out once more to attend to some more errands, then back to the apartment for some lunch.

Tried to call the parents, but they were out (what – parents can have a life, too?!?! Gotta remember that!)

Took the pup back out to enjoy the sun, but there were a few too many other people and dogs attempting the same thing, and a few too few benches in the sun.

Home again for a quick nap, then some more reading. Also some cookie-baking (peanut butter… Not quite as good as the lemon ones I made the other day)

Finally reached the husband’s parents, then out for another walk with the pups (my chosen form of exercise these days) and a chat with my mom (who, in fact, could not chat, as she was about to enjoy a lovely steak dinner. Hmph)

Next up was dinner – no cooking for me today, thanks anyways. The husband picked up a few things as did I (wanted to make sure I got exactly what I wanted, no swiss cheese for me, nope, never) – YUM!

Back to lounging and reading, and after awhile, off to bed.

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All in all, not that exciting a day. Nothing special (except the purty flowers). And yet… it was perfect. My perfect almost-Mother’s Day.

I got to spend the entire day doing what I wanted, when I wanted, and at the pace I wanted.

I got to spend the day with the husband, who is gone working all to frequently; got an entire day of his smiles, jokes, and special dances.

I got to spend a beautiful day in the sun, with a dog who behaved (a miracle!) and a baby who will someday be able to admire the view from outside my middle instead of from within.

I got my relaxed, fun day that managed to somehow be all about me, without ever being about me.

It was perfect.

Reading this post got me to thinking today… about my “parenting style”

I’ll just say right up front: I don’t have one. Yet. (Since I’m not a parent. Yet.)

What I do have, of course, is a plan… And we all know how those go. But anyways, just to lay it out, so I can look back later and laugh and laugh and laugh:

I plan to do what is best for me and for my baby, whatever that may be.

I plan to figure that out as we go along, and try not to fall into the trap of one dogma or another -rather, to take what works from wherever is comes from, and use it. Or not, if it doesn’t work for me.

I plan to ask for advice from everyone around, listen carefully, and then use what works – and ignore what doesn’t.

I also plan to ask for help from whomever is offering (and this one might just be the toughest, as I am sooooo bad at asking for help… But I know I am going to need it, and so I know I must make the conscious effort to do this!)

Oh, but specifics?

I don’t actually have a lot of those…

I plan to try to breastfeed, and to do it for as long as possible, if it works for me and my baby (but NOT until Kindergarten, you can be sure of that!)

I plan to go back to work (or rather, to start work, since baby arrives nicely packed in between graduation and starting the rest of my career) after 6-8 weeks (depends more on when baby arrives, and less on start date of work) … And then manage life one day at a time, seeing what works best for us.

I plan to pump at work, should I still be breastfeeding (and I do really hope I am…) – and I plan to stick up for my right to do this!

I plan to try both disposable and cloth diapers, and again, see what works best for us (and this may depend on daycare, as well…)

I plan for baby to sleep in our room (but not in our bed) for 3-4 months … but I’m willing to be flexible.

I plan to try to sleep-train baby as early as possible, just for my own sanity.

I plan to read to my baby as much as possible, since this is something I enjoy myself so much.

I plan to try to work out as soon as I am given leave to – and to use this time effectively as some “alone time” but also, conversely, as time to share with our first baby (the puppy)

I plan to get outside as much as I can

I plan to try to meet other moms in the area, and make friends with them (this is more of a hope…)

And most of all, I plan to (try to) not stress out. To not worry about the choices I am making. To trust that they are the right ones, for me.

Oh, and I also plan to try not to judge others for the choices they make. At least, not out loud.

Typically, I see myself as someone who is (mostly) calm, competent, intelligent, level-headed, with a sense of humor and a decent dose of sarcasm. My husband often tells me that my strengths – or my weaknesses, depending on the day and our conversation, and how much I have annoyed him at the time – are my ability to listen, and my optimism (these can be weaknesses because, he says – with a good amount of truth to it – that I am so good at listening, I often forget to talk myself, and so do not share my opinions/news/etc as much as I really should, and when he is being especially pessimistic, he sees my optimism as not being willing to perceive reality, a take that is colored by his own views, and that I still do not believe to be true. Hey, you gotta agree to disagree sometimes!)

 

But this is me, now. Me, adult. Me, away from the stresses and strains of my youth. In brief – this is me, when I am not with my mother.

 

Of course, this past week? I was with my mother. So – while I may have outwardly remained calm, there may have been some carefully concealed seething held back by clenched teeth. Competent? Sure, as much as I was allowed to be. And yes, this may have resulted in some of the seething – that automatic assumption of authority and control she came with, despite coming to stay with me, in my home, as my guest. Intelligent? Well, sure. I guess. As much as pregnancy brain would allow. (Can’t blame all my faults on my mother, much as I might sometimes want to). Level-headed? Nope. Of course not. This is the woman who raised me, who nurtured me, who inevitably helped me develop my various neuroses and quirks and bad habits. She is the one who can immediately push my buttons and turn me from happy to incandescently angry in moments, with just a few words, or a twist of her lips, or a meaningful glance. Sense of humor? Ha. Ha ha ha. Sarcasm? OK, that remained. It was just internal, never let out, not where my mother could actually hear and judge.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother. Adore her. She did a fabulous job raising all of her children (all three – THREE! – of us. I don’t even have one yet, and can’t imagine the challenge of that) so that they became normal, functional, competent, achieving, and happy adults. She somehow managed to keep us healthy, happy – and above and beyond that, saw the three of us through college and further (Graduate school for my sister and me, a post-baccalaureate program for my brother), on our ways to productive careers (or, in my case, a career path… as I am still training), married and starting families of our own. She was – and is – a wonderful mother.

 

And she still drives me crazy.

 

She comes, and I fall back into the habit of being her daughter. Which, no, is not at all a bad thing (I can only hope to emulate her in many ways). But it means I fall back into the habits and patterns of the last time we lived together for a long period of time – which, um, was when I was eighteen. In high school. Young, and stupid. Headstrong. No real ability to take care of myself yet. No real desire to, either. (That came about a week into college, when I realized that I really, truly liked clean clothes, I did in fact feel better when I ate a balanced meal rather than only waffles and ice cream, and WOW, books and other “necessities” were expensive, now weren’t they?)

 

I was a pretty good teenager, and I don’t regret who I was back then. I just don’t want to be that person, now. But when my mom shows up? Suddenly she rears her head again, and I find myself falling back into those habits I thought I’d long since left behind. Resentments for small injustices, petty angers over different ways to do things, and, oh yes, the incredible urge to roll my eyes because she just doesn’t understand.

 

My mom is the first person I usually call when I want to talk something over; when I have big news to share or a decision to make, she’s the voice on the other end of the line. While we have gone weeks without talking before – when one or the other of us are busy – more typically, we talk nearly every afternoon. (She is a great dog-walking companion… When I’m walking the Upper East Side and she’s hiking the trails in New Hampshire) While I can’t say I agree with her every opinion – and while I know I would make many different choices that she does, and has – she’s the one I like to talk to, confide in, and bounce my ideas off of. I won’t necessarily follow her advice, but I will always ask for it.

 

But that’s when she’s THERE, and I am HERE. When we are both here? Not so much. I become whiny, self-indulgent, and just want to be left alone. (At least, the “me” in my head does. The actual, physical me? Is better controlled. No whining or self-indulgence allowed. At least, allowed to be expressed)

 

I wish there were some conclusion to this; some resolution, some miracle way to put the past – and those habits developed over a lifetime together – behind. But I don’t have one. Instead, I am just savoring my night alone tonight – she’s gone to stay with my brother and his wife and baby – and taking the time to recompose myself. Because tomorrow, it starts all over again. (Except worse – because we’ll be returning to my childhood home, where I get to fall into these habits with both my mother and father, all in the familiar setting in which I grew up) And hoping that perhaps I’ll figure out how to stop doing this – and soon – before the baby is born, and she comes to stay with us to help out for the summer. Because? I don’t want to regress to a baby myself, all while learning to take care on another.