Friday, May 27, 2011

Ultimate Epic Fail

The following is a true story. 
Tonight I left my mom’s house later than I should have.  My truck driver husband was able to park at a nearby truck stop and take the afternoon off to visit with us, so we had dinner with my parents and then Emma and I had to drive him back to his truck before heading home.  I wanted to leave by 6:45, but then it looked like a storm was blowing in and I wavered on whether or not to go or wait it out.  Finally I decided waiting was ridiculous, and we left at 7:15.  I dropped Zach off at his truck and then headed home, driving towards an incredibly ominous horizon.  Driving in the rain makes me quite tense.  I was also aggravated that Emmalee had fallen asleep in the backseat, knowing that a nap in the car coupled with being out later than usual would make putting her to bed difficult.  My agitated state of mind is the only excuse I can come up with to shed some light on what happened next.
The drive home actually wasn’t so bad.  Though the sky looked ready to open at any second, I was nearly home before the really heavy stuff let loose.  I pulled into my garage, relieved to have made it home in one piece.  Here I should take a moment to share an odd habit of mine.  I always leave my car keys in the driver’s seat of my car.  I don’t really know why I do this, but I guess I just find it more convenient that the keys are right where I need them the next time I get in the car.  I usually have Emma and a ton of other stuff to carry in, and it’s just one less thing to worry about.  So when I got home this evening I hit the button to unlock all the doors, dropped my keys in my seat and shut my door.  I then went around the car to open the back door and get Emma, who was still snoozing peacefully.  Except the door didn’t open.  I frowned, feeling pretty sure that I had hit the button.  I went back around to my door, but it wouldn’t open either.  There was a brief moment of confusion and then sheer panic hit as I realized what I’d done.  I had just locked my keys and my child in the car. 
I spoke aloud, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, no, no, no, no!” as I ran around the car and tried each door handle, knowing that it was in vain but unsure of what else to do.  And then I ran into the house and called my mom.  She jumped into her car and drove to where my husband was to get the spare key from him.  Why my truck driver husband who could have potentially been thousands of miles away has the spare key to our vehicle, I do not know.  Luckily he was nearby tonight.  The waiting was pretty awful.  All I could do was pace and pray that Emma would stay asleep, all the while berating myself for being such an awful, irresponsible mother.  What kind of person locks their child in the car?  I mean, really?  It’s the kind of thing you hear about and think to yourself, “What an idiot.  I would never do something like that.  And yet, here I am, confessing that I am, in fact, that idiotic. 
The fact that Emma stayed asleep as long as she did is purely a miracle.  She never sleeps for longer than twenty or thirty minutes in her car seat, and yet tonight she slept for an hour.  She might not have ever even known that she’d been trapped if my mom hadn’t missed an exit due to poor visibility in the sheeting rain and taken an extra fifteen minutes.  As it was, though, Emma woke up and screamed her poor little head off for nearly that long.  When I was finally able to rescue her she was red and sweaty and disoriented.  I gave her some cold juice and a cool bath, and then lots of extra kisses and coddling before putting her to bed where mercifully she quickly fell back to sleep. 
Yes, this actually happened.  I feel exhausted and traumatized by the whole ordeal.  I think I can safely classify this as the ultimate epic fail in my career in motherhood.  I certainly feel like a failure.  I know that the situation could have been much worse, but it’s that very possibility that makes me feel both lucky and completely awful.  Yeah, things worked out alright and no major harm was done.  But it’s what could have happened that will likely keep me from sleeping tonight.  After this nightmare of an evening, the title of “Most Awesome Mom” feels like its way out of reach. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And Then There Were Four?

Emma is walking.  She’s eating regular food.  She’s telling me no.  She is getting further and further from being a “baby” everyday.  I believe that it is thinking along this line that has led me to begin contemplating my next pregnancy.  I’ve started looking at Emmalee’s newborn pictures through rose-tinted glasses, romanticizing the time with thoughts of how little and adorable she was and conveniently forgetting all the negative aspects of having a new baby.  I’ve always known that Emma would not be an only child.  I want at least one more.  The thing I’m not sure about though is when the right time to have another baby would be.  Suddenly I’m thinking that now sounds pretty good.
There is a part of me, perhaps the still sane part of me, that knows now is probably not the best time to get pregnant.  There are a million reasons why I shouldn’t.  The main reason is that I am barely getting by now with one child, what in the world makes me think I could manage with two?  I can’t pay my bills.  My house is a mess.  I have a laundry pile that goes on for days.  Not to mention the fact that my “not-really-a-baby-anymore” first child is still in diapers, is still consuming all her liquids from bottles and still can’t communicate her needs effectively.  She is still at a point in her life where she requires a lot of my attention, and there are times when I also feel like I want more time with just the two of us.  I can’t help but worry about how a new baby would affect my very emotional and needy first born.  There is also my child care situation to consider.  Emmalee’s Grammy (my mom), who has always watched her while I work, is going to school a couple of days a week now which means that her Poppa (my dad) has reluctantly agreed to step in on the days Grammy is busy.  Somehow I just don’t think Poppa would be thrilled about doubling his workload.  I often feel like I’m in over my head now, and I’m considering adding more to the mix?  I know, I should be committed.
Another part of me though, perhaps the part ruled by insanity and hormones, has plenty of arguments too.  This part chants things like “there will never be a perfect time to have a baby” and “when there’s a will, there’s a way” and “Emma and her sister shouldn’t be too far apart in age.”  (Yes, I’ve already decided the next one will be another girl.)  My thirteen months younger sister and I have always been close.  I want that for Emmalee.  I mean, obviously there will be more space than a mere thirteen months between my children because I’m not quite that insane, but I want her to have a sibling close in age that she can be friends with.  I can’t imagine how lonely it must be to grow up alone, and I worry that if there are too many years between them they won’t be able to relate to one another.  We’re already looking at two years apart which equates to two grade levels in school.  And though I worry about how a new baby will affect Emma, I also know that a sister (okay, or maybe a brother) is the most amazing gift I can give her.  A sibling is a life long, built in best friend to share secrets, play games, get into trouble, and complain about your parents with.  It’s someone who always knows where you’re coming from because they’ve been there too.  Emma deserves that.  Plus, new babies are so tiny and cute!
I think that in a perfect world, one in which I could pinpoint the exact moment that I conceive, I’d choose to get pregnant in August.  A May baby would coincide nicely with the end of the school year, and it would give my mom time to finish school so that she can resume her full time child care duties while I work.  It would also give me the opportunity to spend the summer with Emma and not be bogged down by first trimester fatigue.  Not to mention a few more months to try to get things in order, though truthfully, my house and finances will probably always be a bit of a mess.  But it’s not a perfect world and I don’t get to decide.  So where does that leave me?  I suppose it leaves me continuing to argue with myself, changing my mind at least twice a day about what I think I want.  Or maybe it leaves me deciding to leave it up to fate, which I’m not even sure I believe in.  Go ahead, get the straightjacket.  I’ll go wait in the padded room.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Social Butterfly

Emmalee stopped letting anyone other than Mommy or Grammy come near her at about four or five months old.  People could look at her, as long as they only did it briefly and from a safe distance.  Touching was completely out.  And if someone tried to hold her, Emma had a complete emotional breakdown.  This was kind of cute for a minute or two, but it quickly got old.  For one, it was frustrating to be in a room full of people and still unable to go to the bathroom without taking the baby with me.  And two, I felt really badly for the people who wanted to get close to her.  It was kind of embarrassing that my baby was such a clingy mess that no one could come within two feet of her without causing hysterics.  I don’t know what caused Emmalee to behave this way, and I really had no idea what to do about it. 
Recently, though, I’ve been noticing changes in Emmalee.  She is becoming much more interactive with the people around her.  Though she is not yet ready to let others hold her, she will now regularly make eye contact and will offer smiles, even to total strangers.  Last week we were in Lenscrafters and Emma was flirting with a man who she’d never seen before.  There is really no other word to describe the giggling, the peeking, the bashful grins she was flashing his way.  It was cute, but left me completely shocked.  Who stole my anxious, reclusive daughter and replaced her with this social butterfly?  This morning Emma didn’t even cry when I left her in the care of my father to go to work, something she’s done every time I’ve left her with him since we started this arrangement in January.  Who is this child?!
I am thrilled because, though I may be a bit biased, I find Emma to be an adorably engaging little person.  Now it seems as if others will be able to enjoy her larger-than-life personality right along with me.  I am more than ready and excited to share her with the world… or, rather, close friends and family members and maybe an occasional patron of Lenscrafters.
Emma is walking.  She’s saying some words.  She’s feeding herself table food.  She’s going to sleep on her own with barely a protest.  She’s taking (some) things in stride.  It’s like she’s becoming a little person right before my eyes.  I am so proud of her and of all the things she does to amaze me every day. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Walk On, Walk On

I believe that Emmalee is a smart child.  This intelligence, coupled with her stubborn nature, has led to a delay in reaching some of her developmental milestones in a timely manner.  My theory, anyway, is that she just doesn’t see the point in doing things like crawling, walking, or holding a bottle if someone is there to do the work for her.  Due to this laissez-faire attitude, Emma didn’t crawl until ten months and holding a bottle is completely beneath her.  So I had little hope for walking.  About six weeks ago I wrote a blog (Walk Already!) describing Emma’s new desire to walk all the time while holding on to Mommy’s hands.  It appears that the practice has finally paid off.
The day Emmalee officially turned thirteen months old she walked for the first time.  Well, maybe not technically the first time since prior to this she had taken two or three wobbly steps from her pink chair to my arms.  But on this day she gleefully took seven or eight steps at a time before crashing into me.  I was ecstatic.  My baby girl was actually walking, and right when the books said she would!  My joy didn’t last long though, because after that day her interest in walking on her own was sporadic at best.  Sometimes she would walk to me, other times she would shake her head no.  We continued to pace endlessly around the house and through Target with me holding her hand and growing increasingly frustrated with the charade.  I knew she could walk, I’d seen her do it!  So why was she being so obstinate about it?
To be fair, I think in part Emmalee was scared to let go.  We adults take walking for granted, but it must be an overwhelming task to tackle for a baby, taking those first shaky steps and letting go of the security of Mommy’s grasp.  Today though, for some reason, Emmalee decided she was ready.  While I was at work and Emma was in Grammy’s care, she started walking and just kept on going.  She walked all around the house with a big, proud smile on her face.  My mom called me at work to tell me the news and I couldn’t wait to get home and see for myself.
Of course, Emmalee was less than eager to show off for Mommy.  I think she may have actually been a little peeved at her Grammy for letting her secret slip.  For the first couple of hours after I got home she would only walk while holding tightly to my finger, reverting to tantrum mode each time I tried to let go.  Luckily, right before bed, Emma had a change of heart and I got to witness her in action. 
Finally, I truly have a walker on my hands!  Watching her was an amazing thing to see, a sign of my little baby growing up literally before my eyes.  I am so proud of her for being brave enough to make this huge leap towards independence.  Not too long from now I will likely be back to complain about how much more difficult it is to keep her out of trouble now that she’s completely on the go, but for now I am taking a moment to revel in Emmalee’s amazing accomplishment.