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What is this thing? I do not know, but it was red and prickly and I deemed it photo-worthy.







Sunday, October 30, 2005

Lately, I have been reevaluating my definition of "busy". I haven't been working outside the house, or traveling, or going to school, or, well, brushing my teeth before 3 PM, but each day is flying by like I'm stuck in the third ba-boop in TiVo's fast-forward. I'm at home pretty much all day long, so what the hell I do with myself during all my extra free time? I'll tell you what I'm not doing: raking leaves, reading my stack of overdue library books, working on a website project I volunteered for, painting over the remains of a 6-week old pedicure, cleaning the kitchen floor, or writing in my online journal. Free time! I laugh at the concept! Like this: ha ha ha HAR!

If Riley does not require my direct attention - if he's napping, or awake but keeping himself entertained - I've got a rapidly closing window of time during which I can put dishes in the dishwasher, blowdry my hair, or transfer wet clothes to the dryer, then I blink and it's almost five o'clock, holy shit, and it's time to start thinking about dinner and maybe also changing into something that doesn't make me look like I've been stranded on a deserted island for months on end with only an air cargo-dropped crate of Old Navy sweatpants circa 2003 for company.

The other day I was trying to walk out the door with Riley for a pediatrician appointment when I noticed a suspect aroma wafting from his nether regions, and so I whisked him onto the changing table to remove his diaper. Halfway through the process it became apparent that Riley was not in fact finished, that there was an additional amount of ballast that needed, um, jettisoning, and so I had to quickly grab a new diaper and another handful of wipes and clean up the poop that was squeezing out at an alarming rate and it kept coming and coming and I kept wiping and wiping and using up new diapers and as I was flailing around trying to simultaneously clean Riley, move aside the growing pile of poo-smeared items, AND keep a pincer grip on his feet so he wouldn't go to the doctor with feces between his toes, it occurred to me that I was experiencing a rather fractal moment; that life with a baby could sort of be summed up by this eternal ouroboros poop vignette. That there was a deep lesson to be learned, like In order to move forward, you must first stand still, or No matter how much shit you clean, there always be's more where that came from.

My boy is two months old now. Incredibly, it's been two months (oh god, already? see also: jeez, two whole months), and life is very, very different. I'm different, in ways I predicted and ways that completely took me by surprise. I imagined, hoped for, the overwhelming love for my child; I guessed that I would become more tender, more selfless. I did not, however, have any idea that I would become obsessed with vacuum lines in the carpet.

Yes. The carpet. I've become just like a dog with a bone about the damn carpet. Don't walk in here with those dirty shoes I just vacuumed. What the hell? I wanted a baby, not to morph into a deranged Suzy Homemaker. Housekeeping is an ongoing series of pointless, joyless tasks, it's all just going to get fucked up, so why take pride in a shining, Pledge-smelling surface when it's only a matter of moments until it's coated with dog hair, covered in newspapers, and dotted with crumbs? No one notices when you start cleaning on a regular basis, they just take it for granted that the house is going to be presentable because now there's a Mysterious Fairy that runs around all the time picking up the crap and whipping out the 409.


I can't help it, though. Maybe it's some built-in biological urge to protect the baby from inhaling giant wads of lethal dust or something, but I highly disapprove of this new side to me. Nobody warned me that becoming a mom included maid duty, goddammit. If I may make a rude generalization, why is it that as mothers we not only are blessed with the ability to hear our baby's every sleeping snuffle, feel something akin to internal organ failure when our babies have immunization needles stuck in their legs, are charged with becoming the sole fonts of knowledge on every subject from sleep schedules to potty training (unless, of course, our mothers-in-law have differing opinions), but we also magically become the only people in our household to notice or care that the dog tracked in something that better be mud all over the living room floor? Wasn't it enough to end up with a permanent band of belly flab, a humming, never-ending anxiety level over our child that could power greater New York, and a newfound desire to buy hats with ears on them? I'm just saying, from where I'm standing (you know, over by the vacuum?) the fathers get off easy on some of this parenting business.

Anyway, I was saying before all the ranting, Riley is two months old now. He often appears to be deeply suspicious of all that is before him. Ah, he seems to be thinking, and what fresh hell have we here, hmmm? I'll tell you, it's hard not to interpret that as a poor performance review. Especially when he includes a subversive hand gesture to boot.


However, I'm thrilled to report he is smiling more and more now, which is amazingly wonderful, gratifying, and downright cute.

He loves being on the changing table and gets happy and excited when he's lying there and I tickle him and grab his pinwheeling arms and legs. He makes all kinds of noises, including some contented sounds that I hope are coos, since I hesitantly answered "yyyyeeees" when the pediatrician asked if he were cooing yet. He bats at the blinking, obnoxious limbs attached to his Ocean Wonders activity gym. He weighs 10 lb, 7 oz, up from his 6 lb, 13 oz birthweight. He's 23 inches long. His hair is reddish, and his little sideburns went away. He can hold his head up for longer periods of time and occasionally raises himself onto his hands when he's on his belly. Every day he changes, he becomes more alert, he does something new. He is getting to be fun, not just precious or adorable or sweet - words you use to describe a creature who despite being precious and adorable and sweet is essentially a barely animate lump of goo that stares over your left ear while you feed them - but actually fun.

I love him more and more every day. How is this possible? Is there a critical capacity for this kind of fierce emotion? Won't I someday lean in to breathe in his intoxicating, sugary-milky smell and simply explode in a haze of emotion? BEWARE MY LOVE SHRAPNEL.

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