Happy Playgroup & Where Are the Mommies?

Most of the comments and emails I receive from other moms, it seems, have to do with the politics of being a mother in the mom-eat-mom world of Life After Baby. The common theme seems to be: why can't we all jjust get along? While I too have endured my share of silly mommy politics, I am happy to report that I have found a wonderful group of moms who meet every so often for playdates. They are kind to each other, respect different parenting styles and beliefs, and seem to have a genuine understanding that all of our babies are their own unique individual selves who develop at their own pace and have their own quirks. They also seem to have a genuine respect for the fact that no matter all of our differences, we are all Moms. They're a fun group too, and one of them makes a mean curry chicken salad (yum).

I wish I could meet with this group more often. Sadly, work keeps me from meeting when many of them meet. The fact is, unless you work somewhere where there are more people your age who have kids your age, or your group of friends suddenly decides to get pregnant all around the same time and live close by, I think it is difficult to make new "mommy" friends. I am often cuurious: where do these mommy friends meet? The mall? Daycare? Gymboree classes? The local pool? I wonder if I can meet other mommy friends by hanging out at happy hour at a nearby brewpub... moms need a cold beer every once in a while...I could use a beer right now... but I digress.

When I drive to work or to a lunch meeting I often see them: the moms on playdates at the park or strolling to a coffee shop together or meeting at the local bookstore for a baby book club. All during the hours I work. Are they all stay-at-home moms? Is it easier for stay-at-home moms to meet other moms and join playgroups, I wonder? The ones I know are from our birthing classes and baby & me groups that I attended during my maternity leave, and I think I have been lucky that they continue to include me in their invitations even though I feel like I can only accept them on a rare occasion.

In a selfish and somewhat pathetic way, I am eager for two new little bundles to land on the planet within the next few months in my circle of pals. Yeah, yeah, great for them, I'm glad they are pregnant and embarking on the greatest journey ever, blah blah blah. Sometimes, what I am secretly screaming is, "Yahoo! Another new mom close by! Another baby for Boo to play with!" Selfish? Completely (well, except the part about being excited for Boo to have more baby friends).

Maybe this is part of the whole phenomenon that people talk about - the one where once you become a parent, you suddenly try to get all of your friends to have babies too. Maybe it's not so much that we suddenly think "My God, everyone should do this, it's so great!" but rather we realize that having babies actually does create an inevitable divide that honestly can't be crossed until our friends experience the same. It's the same feelings we've had all our lives just in a different stage of our lives: we want to feel understood, we want to feel as though we belong, we want to have friends who share the same ideas and pasttimes and can understand our daily challenges... and we're all a little uncertain of how to get to where we feel we should be because we're not quite sure of our own place just yet.


The First Birthday

Well, it's done. We celebrated Boo's first birthday with a barnyard theme party complete with tractor cake, dogs donning bandanas, barnyard theme cups, and rented straw bales. About 20 or so family and friends came over for a small barbecue and cake and ice cream. Boo napped right before the party and conked out again shortly before it ended. He opened his gifts (or rather, I opened while he surveyed the goods) like a trooper. It was a great experience for us, and we hope he enjoyed it. There are, of course, many many photos and also a couple of videos that he can watch later on since we know he won't remember a moment of it.

I love this stuff - birthdays, celebrations, happy gatherings. If all I could do in life was to bring people together by having fun parties and cooking and baking for others, I'd love it.


Little Screamer

We love Boo. We love everything about him. His quirks, his growing personality, his increasing independence. We do love him dearly. But...we will be glad when a little phase we like to call the "Screamer" phase is over.

Boo screams. This is a relatively new thing. If we don't feed him fast enough, he sets off a series of short, high-pitched squeals/screams. If he is bored, he screams. When all seems fine and we think he can't possibly scream, he screams. He is loud (just like his mama!) and stubborn (just like his papa!) and sometimes very cute when he does this, but the cute factor is quickly overridden by the piercing of our eardrums.

We gently tell him that we do not scream. To which, he studies our faces carefully, cocks his head to the side thoughtfully, and then screams.

We firmly tell him "No screaming" followed up by gentle but firm alternatives "We ask 'please, can I have more food?'" To which, he furrows his brow and purses his little lips. And then lets out a scream.

And then, when he is done - whether that is one short scream, three, or several little streams of screaming bouts in a row - he smiles and laughs and goes back to playing or eating or whatever he was doing.

Yes, we love our little Boo. But we do not love the screaming phase as much as, say, the First Laugh or First Step phase.


First Birthdays

Boo's first birthday is coming up, and despite what all of the advice in the magazine articles and baby books say, we want to make a big deal out of it. For God's sake, he's our first baby, and he's turning ONE. We're having a party, and we're going all out. Other people can have small, quiet parties - we want to celebrate!

Boo is not one to shy away from parties. If he were, then perhaps we would tone it down a bit, as many people suggest doing for first birthdays. But parties contain some of the things he loves the most: an audience, food, lots of excitement, and colorful things all around him. And lots of paper - wrapping paper, that is.

We're going with a barnyard theme - a tractor cake (we'll see how that turns out), sandwiches in the shapes of farm animals, farm animal balloons and other fun barnyard-related items (would a cow pinata be a bit much for a one-year-old's birthday? We're still debating...). We bought bandanas for our dogs to wear, and I've heard some people might dress up for the theme. When it comes down to it, we picked the theme because we can use bright colors and because Boo loves animals.

First birthday parties are really for the parents, almost more than for the child, who will not even remember his first birthday except through our retelling of the stories. My husband and I are looking forward to celebrating our first year as Boo's parents, of being so blessed to be able to watch him grow into the amazing little almost-toddler that he is now. In a way, we want to throw him a big party to say thanks to him, for being such a fantastic baby and for filling this past year with so much love, joy, silliness and fond memories. We want to thank him for showing us what unconditional love really is, for challenging us to face our true selves and be the best people and best parents that we can be. We also want to celebrate all that he has been through this past year - coming to life and becoming a human being - Boo has done more in the past 12 months than most of us do in 12 years!

So what if it's mostly adults who will be at the party? So what if he gets cake all over the sofa? So what if after opening his presents, his favorite toy is the big box that one of the toys came in, or the wrapping paper? In the end, we'll have tons of happy memories and tons of silly photos to remember the day that our son celebrated his first year of life.

First birthdays are, to me, cause for huge celebration. I wish I could invite the entire city and exclaim "This is OUR baby! He turns ONE today! Can you believe it?!" But babies turn one all over the world every day, and Boo is just one of them... but he's OUR Boo, and it's HIS first birthday... and we're going to celebrate, for us and for him... I can't wait!


Missing Boo

I'm away on a business trip. Five days, four nights. I miss Boo. I missed him the second I stepped out of the car to go to the airport. I slept with his photos next to me like a little shrine. It was nice to wake up to these portable images of my smiling, mischievious little 11-month-old. I can imagine him in the hotel room, bouncing on the bed, cruising along the furniture, playing with the remotes, zooming from one side of the room to the other, babbling loudly so as to make our next door neighbors request a new room, preferably one on a floor without a baby. He would have fun exploring this city, too - so many new sights, sounds, smells for his eager little mind to take in.

My Boo. I can't wait to see him and hold him and tickle him again.


Mama's Day

Today is my first Mother's Day as a Mom. It was a beautiful day, filled with family and yummy food. My husband and Boo gave me a beautiful frame with Boo's charcoal handprints. It's the best piece of art we own now. Today was a chance to reflect on what Motherhood has meant to me this past year, how it has forever changed me and my husband, and how much I love being a mom to my dear, sweet little boy.

So this Mother's Day is really a tribute to my son, for all of the wonderful gifts he has given me and lessons he has taught me throughout the year. For teaching me to be so thankful for all of the beautiful daily joys of Motherhood. This Mother's Day, I am thankful for:
-the greatest giggle I have ever heard coming out of such a tiny little body
-my son's constant knowing smile
-the gentle tap on my face or pull of my hair to wake up
-ten tiny, tiny little toes
-watching my husband and my son play and be silly together
-adorable sleepers with blue dinosaurs and pirate puppies on them
-knowing exactly when it's safe to change a poopy diaper....and when it is not
-Cheerios, Cheerios everywhere
-watching my son walk toward me with such will and eagerness as he holds on to any piece of furniture he can find
-sharing breakfast yogurt and dinner pasta
-excited little squeals
-my son clapping when he thinks he's done something really great, like taking a drink from his sippy cup
-hearing the word "Mom!" screached from the face of a panicked little 11-month-old when I've taken away his pears before he was finished (the pears were quickly returned)
-Boo "talking" his way through an entire store, or, like today, through an entire mall
-hearing my son say "Dada!" with a happy smile when my husband walks into the room
-how my son and our dogs have become such great play pals
-talking about everything we do and watching Boo listen with interest as we explain how we are loading the dishwasher
-looking into the grocery cart to find some random item that Boo believed we had to have
-big, wet, sloppy baby kisses
-big, warm, tired hugs
-big baby yawns
-Boo laughing his way through hiccups
-my son, just as he is, in every moment of every day.

Perhaps in future Mother's Days I will want to be thanked for what I have done. I'll tell Boo "I was in labor with you for 17 hours and had two failed epidurals!" But there's time for that later. This year I feel I haven't done a thing - it is Boo who has done all of the hard work growing and learning how to be a human being in this world. I am just lucky enough to be along for the ride. Thank you, Boo, for teaching me how wonderful a gift it is to be a Mom. I cherish this gift every single moment of my days.


And he decides to crawl

So after months of sort-of crawling, crawling backwards, cruising and speed walking/marching with one hand holding onto me, Boo decides that today he's going to crawl forward after all. He just crawled. Here and there, from the table to me, from one side of the room to his papa. Just like that. He still loves cruising and now I'm afraid he's just going to start walking by himself (he likes to push my hands away now and stand by himself...then try to launch himself forward).

We hope for so much as parents and when we get it we're scared as hell. And, of course, excited too :-)

The Perpetually Late Mother

I was once always on time. I planned my days out by the minute. I knew exactly how many minutes it would take to get from point A to point B, and planned my day as such. I hated being early, and I didn't like being late. I liked being exactly on time.

Something happened when I became pregnant. My internal clock slowed a bit, and my internal alarm decided to go silent. Nowadays, it seems that no matter what I do, no matter how I plan, I am always five minutes late. Sometimes 10. One time, when I was meeting other moms at the Zoo, 17 minutes. And they waited outside for me. Like nice moms who understood. It's easy to now turn being right on time to suddenly being 17 minutes late.

Where does this time go? My problem is that no matter how far in advance I plan, I am still late. For some reason, my brain still plans things out to the minute, even though I know I need to give myself extra time. It's as if Mommyhood eats up minutes faster than pre-Mommyhood existence.

I really do hate being late, but even more than that now, I hate not being able to be somewhere on time when I do my best to try to be early now. It's the fact that I DO plan that makes it even more frustrating.

Most moms I know are the same way - always running just a little behind. But there is one that I know of who is always early, and I don't know how she does it. Some of us chalk it up to the fact that she's young - she's got more energy and she moves faster. Or maybe she just cares more about what other people would think than we do. Who knows. Whatever it is, she is certainly not sharing her secret with us - at least the rest of us can be late together.