Archive for August, 2011

No Television (Okay, maybe a little)

I am one of those irritating women who has been brainstorming ways to parent “the best way” since before she hit puberty.  So of course, I have very strong opinions, 20 years later, about what a parent should and should not do.  And, naturally, one of these opinions is about the television my son should, or rather, should not be watching.

I am also one of those women with priorities.  For example, washing my son’s cloth diapers is usually a priority.  Folding and putting away the grown-up laundry is (sorry, honey) usually not.  Going for a walk everyday?  Priority.  Shaving my legs?  Not.

Imagine my conundrum:  Our morning walk had just commenced, when I realized that my legs (bare, in the mid-west heat) had taken on a gorilla-like hairiness.  Only a block away from our house, I turned the stroller around.  Having decided that my as-were legs were unfit for public viewing, I only had two options.  Option number one was immediately out, as long pants weren’t going to do it for me when the temperature outside got up higher than 102 degrees.  So option number two it was:  a quick leg shave.

Let me back up for a moment to only ten minutes earlier:  I had just gotten laundry done (cloth diapers, not my husband’s work uniforms; sorry, honey), and Michael was fussing because he was a tired baby.  Then he was fussing because I ignored him while I ran around the house throwing useful things into the bottom of the stroller.  Then he was fussing and thrashing because I was actually buckling him into his stroller.  He was as relieved to stop fussing as I was relieved that he’d stopped by the time I hoisted him down the front steps.

After I’d made the decision to do a quick hair-removal, turned around, and hoisted him back up the front steps, there was no way I was going to take him out of the stroller for the five minutes it would take me to run a razor up my calves.  So I did what I have sworn since 1992 I would never do:  I turned on our Wii, found a nice Curious George movie, and I put my infant son in front of the television.

Racked with guilt, I quickly wet my legs, used Michael’s baby body wash (no time to dig out the girly shaving gel!) to lube up my gams (what a weird word), and I shaved them.  As I was rinsing  (the baby body wash turned out to be an awesome choice, by the way), I realized something:  even though Michael was strapped into his terrible, awful, evil, non-moving stroller, he was not fussing.  I slowed down and enjoyed the next 45 seconds of quiet.

When I emerged, newly hairless, from the bathroom, my son had survived.  In fact, he looked rather peaceful.  He had survived my awful parenting decision, and he was probably not going to turn into a sociopath.  But just in case, I hit the power button toute suite and wheeled him out the door.  No sense tempting fate.


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When other women hold my son, he often fondles and nuzzles their breasts. “Aww,” they say. “He’s hungry!” Michael smirks and throws a knowing look at his father.

He has never been breastfed.

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Breakfast Date

Michael is nearly eight months old, though he should be just four and a half months. He is tiny, only twelve pounds, and he is less than two feet long. He has given me faith that the world is a good and generous place.

Every morning, I strap Michael into his stroller, the most expensive piece of baby equipment we own. He struggles to stand up, wiggle out, anything. I smile at him then shout apologies from the other end of the house while I finish packing us up. There is always a forgotten something remembered at the last moment.

We walk every morning, usually after we stop for coffee. One morning, one of our usual breakfast haunts is especially busy. Waiting for my coffee, I catch a petite and well-dress blonde woman flirting with Michael, who grins back at her. We attact women like I used to be now, those women with the seed in their heart for children. And when I ask them, “Do you have any children?” they nearly always give some version of, “Not yet; but someday. I hope.” It is both heartbreaking and wonderful to be on the other side of this conversation.

This blonde woman we meet must be something special; Michael usually prefers brunettes. She chats easily with me about his age and about her neices. She is sweet enough that I can almost imagine handing him off to her and watching him being held by another woman. Almost.

Then she asks the question that these sorts of woman always ask: “Is he your first?” However well-intended, it is always a slap in the face.

She is so fresh and earnest that I am honest with her. “Sort of,” I choke. “Our daughter was stillborn just before I was pregnant with Michael.” I look down to avoid the sympathy in her face, and I mumble “Thank you,” when she says, “I’m sorry.”

Then I take a risk: “I’m just getting so I can say yes to that. That he’s our first. But it always feels like a lie.” It feels cathartic to admit this, and I’m glad to have shared. The more I let these emotions spill over in concentrated little pours, the easier it is to drag around the rest of the murky ones.

As we walk away, Michael screams out in joy. I’m not sure what he means by it, but I’m happy to have him on days like today.

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