Being a second time mom is so great. Not because “I’ve let all that stuff go.” Not because Moira was over-attended, and Asa’s hanging out in a swing all day.
But because I know how to change a diaper. Fast.
I don’t fall to pieces when he cries.
I’m not afraid of the breast pump.
Mostly, being a second time mom is great because I’m not a first time mom. People aren’t rolling their eyes when I explain Asa’s schedule, or our priorities for his development. No one is telling me not to worry about things, or handing me lists of things to worry about.
People treat me like I know what I’m doing, which increases my confidence that I know what I’m doing. Which leads people to treat me like I know what I’m doing.
Plus, I’m married to a second time dad. That, my friends, is the best surprise of all. First time dad was sweet and helpful. Second time dad is a rock star. He’s not just helpful…he doesn’t need help.
The last 16.5 months of my life have been amazing. As Moira grows, I grow as her mother.
Some of that growth is fun. She learns new words. My heart melts when she says, “books!” first thing in the morning. She loves to swim. I love to swim with her.
Some of that growth is not fun. She gets new teeth. I learn that going to dinner with her at 8:30pm is a terrible idea, even on vacation. She learns to wait. I learn not to fear meltdowns in public (because, like many other animal instincts, fearing only makes them more aggressive, while not fearing seems to pacify them).
Somehow, Lewis and I thought that things with a baby would either be happy-sunshine-fun (him) or miserable-scary-impossible (me). For the past 16.5 months so many of our date nights have ended in the same conversation.
“I don’t understand this…intensity that I feel,” I say.
“I just wish you could relax and not let things bother you,” he says.
Then I freak out that I’m freaking out. Obsess on not obsessing. Get intense about not wanting to be an intense mom. …
Okay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t mind the Little Hairless Pup when she was actually little, and actually hairless. And actually not walking all over the place and pulling my fur and poking my eyes. Now, she kind of gets on my nerves sometimes. Like, sometimes, we’ll be just, like, playing, and it’s like, fine. But then out of nowhere she jams her finger in my eyeball.
The one thing that makes it worth it….is the food. …
Lewis was out of town. Moira went to bed at 7:15. Why not? I’m trying to become literate in wine. Okay, white wine, because I get red wine headaches. Okay, South American white wine, because a woman only has so much brain room for literacy.
This was a Sauvignon Gris. Not sure what my wine-expert friends would think of that, but there you go.
It was lovely when paired with a bath and a good book.
Day 27: Preparing and eating rutabaga.
Confession: I got the idea for this one from Moira’s favorite baby food. Ella’s Kitchen Apple, Spinach, Rutabaga is our best bet for getting nutrients into her when whatever solid food we’ve tried that mealtime is flat out fail.
As odd as it sounds, this was not a spur of the moment “oh-gosh-I-need-a-new-thing.” I’d been trying to get to this for weeks. Rutabaga is harder to come by than you would think.
Rutabaga as a vegetable, I found after trying a few different approaches, is, like most vegetables, best when covered in melted cheese.
Day 28: Something.
I’m not going to tell the new thing I did this day. But it involved the courage to speak my mind in an intimidating situation in which I’ve been pretty passive. Well, not any more.
Day 29: Letting Moira have “quiet time” instead of nap time
She simply wasn’t sleepy enough to fall asleep on her own. Instead of growing desperate to the point of nursing her to sleep, I left Moira in her crib for an hour. She sat quietly and played with her doll (and the curtains…and the poorly placed iPod that she could reach…) for an hour. Aside from going in to rescue the iPod, I let her do it.
When I came in at the end of the hour, she was leaning back against her womb-sounds bear, holding her doll, one knee up, elbow resting on that knee, pacifier in mouth, looking at me like, “I’ve got your nap right here.”
The rest of the day…just fine. God is teaching me that he, not my daughter’s sleep schedule is my help and my strength.
Day 30: Posting an honest response to a blog entry that moved me.
I’m not a big commenter on blogs. And by that I mean I just don’t do it. Maybe it’s because I feel like a groupie. Maybe it’s because I see the sort of things that people usually comment and think, “Dear Lord, don’t ever let that be me.”
But Sarah Bessey’s latest post about love at 2:07am hit home, and I just had to let her know.
This was a biggie. Lewis and our friend Liz James successfully surprised me more thoroughly than I have ever been surprised. I opened the door to find Liz bearing gifts and baked goods, completely out of the blue (she lives in Oregon). We then all went to a new restaurant, Lewis bought me a new jacket, and we saw a new exhibit at SAMA. I also tried mead for the first time.
Day 18: Day off
I needed a day off after all that new stuff!
Day 19: Attend the MLK March
I have lived on the East Side for 5 MLK days, and this was my first one to attend. To be fair, I was covering it for The Rivard Report, and I didn’t actually march, but I did get to feel the buzz of progress alongside national outcries for justice. And I biked further onto the east side than I have ever biked before.
Day 20: Gave an interview on the nightly news
This was not planned. I took Moira to a public meeting for the Lone Star Rail District. I’ve gotten to be quite a pro at community meetings, and it is usually appropriate to show up with my shoeless baby and my hair in a messy bun…shoulda worn a coat and tie to this one. Or at least not a frazzly bun and no makeup. I think the new chose to interview me because I looked like the kind of person who usually protests such things.
I used the machine that looks like a recumbent bike. That is the most luxurious workout my quads have ever gotten. Ample seat padding, comfortable recline. Didn’t have to change my position to change the channel on the machine’s cable tv. I felt like I should be sipping a protein shake with a little umbrella in it and wearing head-to-toe Lululemon.
Day 22: Assembled brand new dining room chairs
My final birthday present was an upgrade to our dining room chairs, which were being slowly de-caned by Moira. We chose the most comfortable coffee shop chairs we knew of, which happened to be lovely, mid-century Eames organic replicas. Fancy that.
Day 23: Go to South Padre Island
In all my years in Texas, including the 18 month actually living ON Padre Island, I had never visited South Padre. So, when the opportunity arose to celebrate the end of the Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition, I jumped on it. And took my mom and Moira with me. Because what’s an adventure without three generations of intrepid women.
South Padre was like a newer, shinier version of the central Texas Gulf Coast, or a grittier, cheaper version of the Florida Gulf Coast. Whichever paints a more accurate picture for you. Concrete sharks, yummy seafood dives, tons of tower hotels and condos, 1990’s era shopping centers, and…authentic Mediterranean food.
Day 24: Take my mom and Moira birding
In addition to putting my daughter’s hands in the Texas Gulf for the first time (which I’m not terribly nostalgic about, as I have said some pretty awful things about the Gulf, most of which does not apply to lovely South Padre), I also took my mom and Moira to the World Birding Center for two hours of coastal birding along a mile of boardwalk. My mom looked for the resident alligator the whole time, and kept portending that it would show up any moment to gobble up whatever Great Blue Heron we were watching.
Moira slept the entire time, until it was time to leave. She woke up for the visit to the gift shop. And my mom bought her half the inventory.
Day 25: Desert first
This is one of those things that people always talk about. I’ve never tried it. Until today.
Moira and I had been in the car all day. So when we got home, Lewis immediately sent me out on a 7-miler, and afterwards we all feasted on ice cream and vegetarian food, picnic style at the Pearl amphitheater. We got our ice cream first, from Lick, the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. We even let Moira try our ice cream.
She then later accepted our offer of falafel in good faith and was gravely disappointed.
God gave us a laid back kid. I take no credit for the fact that my baby will patiently endure community meetings, board planning retreats, grocery shopping, baby yoga, dining out, and watching me work while she has tummy time. She’s just a good kid that way.
People told me that when I had a baby I would throw in the towel on the inner city, and head for the shady streets of suburbia. Good school districts. Safe strolling. Quiet nights.
I’m not going to lie, when my neighbor’s five pitbulls bark ALL NIGHT LONG, I do think about how nice it would be to have an HOA to tattle to, instead of just SAPD, which always feels extreme.
And yes, I have to stroll underneath 281 to get to our favorite walking path…but that walking path is the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River, and I can get there in 5 minutes on foot. We take this walk almost every day.
Plus, for my first Mother’s Day, Lewis bought me a membership to the San Antonio Museum of Art, where Moira and I can stroll and take in all the air-conditioning and art we want.
Along the way we have epic adventures passing animals, vagrants, fancy parties, kickball games, and running into friends.
Right now Moira sleeps through most of the walk, but when she looks around, she sees…
A bridge overlooking downtown, smattered with cyclists, yogi’s, and, soon, brewery-goers.
Moira is a month old. Five weeks, actually. It’s amazing how much each week of age matters at this point.
I’ve been hesitant to sit down and try to write anything meaningful, because life has not been marked by long stretches of uninterrupted thinking as of late.
It’s not actually entirely Moira’s doing. I often feel like she senses when we are about to have guests and decides to time her epic naps to avoid interaction. She’s an introvert. Or she obligingly naps through errands and restaurant meals. So I have lots of uninterrupted visits and meals…but that the time for reflecting and thinking is allotted to her 20 minute catnaps or 15 minute stretches of peaceful looking around. The rest of the time we are breastfeeding, changing diapers, and walking off my baby weight.
And I’ll be perfectly honest. Sometimes I just use those catnaps and peaceful time to stare at her.
But, sometimes in the shower, or when we are driving (Moira is a champion car rider), I’ve given some thought to this first month. It’s in snippets, but in this case the form is the content.
So…in the first month of being a family of three, here were the things that surprised me. …
What is it about reproduction that turns perfectly lovely and polite people into giant oafish wrecking balls. I’ve been genuinely shocked by how often certain things are said and done. Things I’d heard about and thought, “Surly no one really says that sort of thing!” They do.
And it’s funny, because no one feels like sex, the starting point of babies, is fair game for random questions at church, in line at the supermarket, or in the aisles of retail stores. No one asks you about your bowel movements or the color of your mucus in these situations. No one asks your IQ, weight, income, political affiliation. So many things we don’t talk about outside of an entirely appropriate context. But reproduction is somehow public domain.
So…some thoughts on discussing all things child related. Hopefully to contribute to a more decent society.
Things to Keep in Mind on the Topic of Reproduction/Child-Rearing …