Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How am I doing?

I wonder if being a stay at home mother is really working. Am I doing enough with Tallulah? Would she learn more if she were in a daycare situation? How do I know if being home with me really is best? Here are random stories I wanted to share, my own little motivational speech for myself, I guess...

My friend, Andi, told a group of women about our daughters' play date Halloween night. The girls were having fun, but decided that hitting each other was part of that fun. Andi and I told our girls not to hit, we don't hurt our friends. I remembered that Tallu had learned how to give high fives. So I said to the girls, "You can't hit, but you can give each other a high five. Tallulah, let's teach Cimmy how to give high fives!" The women all said "Oooh, that's great! That's so smart!" (Thank you, Yo Gabba Gabba, for teaching my kid about high fives.)
Tallu has four teeth coming through at once, and she's on me constantly. This Sunday she and her daddy went to drumming class without me so that I could have some time off from being a teething toy. Daddy went prepared with teething gel and applied some to his uncomfortable daughter. Instead of her usual lip smacking and announcing "all done," she said: "I preciate it, thank you."

My daughter and I took a trip to NYC a few months ago. We did it the long way, from the R7, the Northeast Corridor, to the LIRR. She slept for the ride into Trenton, but I had to occupy us from Trenton to NYC. We read books for us to read, I sang songs by request, we looked out the window and talked about what we saw. A passenger was watching us and before she got off the train she told me that I was doing a great job with my daughter.

No, I'm not the greatest mom out there, and I'm sure Tallu would be a cheery, generally pleasant child even if she were in daycare. There are days when I don't think I can go on. . When strangers are impressed with the interactions I'm having with my child out in public, even on days I want to hand her to the first person I see, that's a good sign, cuz strangers are harsh critics. Hearing that your child expresses gratitude when she gets help is probably the best sign that I am not doing such a bad job.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Party Time?

If you know me, you know I don't make plans. So you'll be shocked to learn that my husband and I are thinking about how to celebrate Tallu's second year on earth. We have an Excel spreadsheet (not my doing), and several ideas, none of which includes our house as an option. Her birthday is at the end of March, and we know places fill up quickly, so we have to decide this sooner rather than later.

We are considering the play cafe for children two neighborhoods away, which hosts children's parties. Other venues on the list are my parish hall, the children's museum, and our dear friend's cafe (the site of my baby shower). The play cafe is the best option: lots of space and toys for little people, we pay someone to do all the work for us, we leave the mess there when the party's over, and Tallu likes that place. The problem is the party package is costly. I'd be more willing to convince my husband to do it if the package included feeding the adults who'd be there as well.
It's not ruled out- we can certainly invite a few of her friends to play without renting it for an official party.

The pre-mother me would have said to a friend, if I'd been asked my opinion, that the kid is two. She won't remember any of this, so have a little something at home. The new mother me partly agrees, and we did that for Tallu's first birthday, which was a feat since we'd just moved into our new place so there was lots of open space. This year, however, she's an active toddler, and if we invite a few more little people to play in our house, we may as well book an ER as the venue site. Plus, her community is multi-generational. What are her older well-wishers supposed to do for fun, while the little toddlers play dress-up and run around a room with lots of wooden toys?

Another consideration is that Tallu's family and godparents live out of town. Why should they drive all the way from NJ or NYC to watch our kid play with other children? And what about my husband and me? We've helped Tallu live these past two years, we deserve a party, too. She's not old enough to tell us what she wants, so we are the decision-makers here.

The moral of this story? We want celebrate the little person who has made Tim's and my life so much richer, and share it with those who have helped us along the way. But, I don't want them all in my house. A fun, healthy, safe, and affordable balance must be sought, and will be, somehow.

UPDATE: The parish hall it is! We get the room for a crazy price, all day long. So we can have room for the kids to play, room for the bateria to play, and room for everyone to dance!

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's New with Tallu

My husband is putting Tallu to bed, and I am watching the Help Haiti telethon. I thought I'd use this time to update you on your pal.

We were hanging out in the living room when Tallu asked me to take off her 'jamas. They were heavy, so I obliged. A few minutes later she starts tugging at her onesie. I thought, um...okay...too young to be having hot flashes, but I'll let her run around in her diaper. She goes back to her toys, I go back to whatever I was doing.

Tallu stands in front of me, tugging at her diaper.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"Off?" she asks me.

"What?! I just put that on you..."

The diaper's off, and she's running around the living room. I'm too stunned to laugh, so I just watch. When she starts singing "Naked butt, naked butt" as she wiggles it in my face, I reach for the camera, but I misesd recording the song and dance. Then she goes to a toy and squats on the ground. A more experienced parent would've known what that meant, but by the time I figured it out, a tiny puddle was on the floor. She marked our bedroom floor, too, before I put a new diaper on her.

Luckily the second time she took off her diaper there were no puddles, but when I called my husband on his lunch break about the first diaper strike, he said "It sounds like she's ready for potty training." When I texted my mom she said the same thing. So last night we went to buy a potty for Tallu.

I did what many new moms of the digital age do and looked on the web for potty training advice. I found a checklist here, and no, I can't check everything, but my mom, my husband, and Tallu seem to think she's ready. This afternoon I talked to Tallu about the potty, set it up in the living room, and she sat on it a few times, fully clothed and said "pee-pees."

We've got a long way to go, but I've read that that's a good start to potty training. Yay, something to write about...training my kid how to use the bathroom...

Friday, January 8, 2010

(Re)Using the Master's Tools...

Happy New Year, y'all!

We travelled a lot for Christmas. There were no flight delays or cancellations for us, only driving to NJ three times, NYC, CT, and PA (to Tallu's great-grandfather's house). The good news is that almost everywhere she went she opened presents. Toys, clothes, toys, clothes... blah blah blah, but one toy was very controversial on my Facebook page.

"Controversy? On your Facebook page? Shut the fuck up!" you say. Okay, controversy may be a bit dramatic, but I wasn't expecting much discussion about it. What was my status? "Tallulah's kitchen is pretty bitchin'." Dood, the kitchen is freakin' sweet, I must say! There's a special burner that "cooks" food in the skillet or "boils" water in the coffee pot. Did your toy kitchen do that? (I didn't even HAVE a toy kitchen, so this thing already kicks ass in my book!)

People were tentatively happy for her, so long as paradigm's wouldn't be affirmed and she'll be using power tools in her kitchen. Frankly, I was disappointed that people weren't as excited about this toy as my husband and I were. "It's a fucking toy for a toddler! Can't a toy be a toy?" I asked my husband. In defense of my friends, I admit I understand the hesitation about such a toy. Here's the little girl, not even two years old, learning that women work in the kitchen. Yay, reinforcing gender roles!

Tallu's parents work in the kitchen. Tallu is in there, too, no matter which parent is working that room. She's exploring the cabinets under the microwave hutch, bringing toys and sitting in the middle of the floor, trying to look at what's on the stove. You know, being a child. Sure, this plastic representation of a kitchen can be seen as a tool for the patriarchy to engender my little girl to her lot in life. OR, this imaginary kitchen can be the lab where my daughter can learn about sharing (making food and sharing it with her toys or playmates), hygiene (washing hands, dirty dishes), and fantasy (because in reality, the sizzle in the skillet is electronic noise and lightbulbs flashing). Plus, it'll keep her out of the real kitchen, where she is now tall enough to reach for things on the stovetop, which is extremely dangerous.

Here's my promise to all of you: my child will have fun playing with her kitchen, and all her friends, boys and girls, will have fun playing with it, too. Tallu will never grow to think that her place is in the kitchen. Still, she will grow up knowing the kitchen is a fun place to be. That's a lesson my father taught me, and I'm happy to pass that on to his granddaughter.

(This is Tallu in her "Seuss suit" - Cat in the Hat pajamas - and her infant cousin's clip-on neck tie from a suit he received for Christmas.)