Showing posts from April, 2013

Strange Hybrid: On Motherhood and Identity

Henrietta is hungry.

I realized this after about a week of much more fussiness than usual, and waking up about 4,000 times a night.

But let me back up to why this was not immediately clear.

When I got pregnant, it felt like I was required to choose a mothering identity: would I have a natural birth, or a medicated one? And the identity spread out from there: cloth or disposable diapers? Breastfeeding or formula? Babywearing or the opposite of babywearing (whatever that is)? You get the idea. These felt like big decisions, decisions that didn't have to do with the decision themselves so much as who I was. I can say, six months in, that I've ended up rejecting the false opposites here and doing a little of both in almost every case, which is all well and good, unless you're me, and you long for nothing more than to pick one side of the spectrum and endorse it and love it and become it entirely, to enthusiastically give your identity to whatever you're attempting. This, …

Wait, it's Friday? How did that happen?

I have just two things to say:

1. I thought I knew what tired was. I don't think I knew what tired was. This week is a whole new level of tired. (Insomnia, you are a punk.) There should be another word for tired. Exhausted, you say? That's the word? It's not good enough. Another. Give me another word.


2. As it turns out, I'm the kind of mom who buys gadgets in an attempt to make this mothering thing easier. For example, I just bought this object for grocery carts and restaurant high chairs. Is it necessary? Nope. But I used it today, and I am well-pleased. I don't think I thought I'd be that kind of mom. Oh well. I yam what I yam.

Tell me how you're doing, would ya?

A Giggling Baby on A Somber Day

I woke up this morning to the insane news in Boston and spent the day hearing about places not far from our old house mentioned on the news, and receiving updates from friends via Facebook. Stuck inside, they reported eerie silence aside from near-constant sirens and circling helicopters. Some had law enforcement run through their backyards carrying machine guns. Some had them knock on their door and ask to search every room. The suspects lived a few blocks from friends of ours. One of them attended the community college Sam used to teach at. Right now we're listening to reports of police zeroing in on a house that's a two minute drive from our old place.

I've been thinking of Boston all week, feeling like I couldn't possibly speak to what happened, not directly. That all I could really do is speak of my little corner of it, while acknowledging what a very small corner it was--which is what I tried to do on Monday, but it didn't sit right with me, didn't feel l…

The Strange Kinship of a Shopping Mall

The first time I put Henrietta's car seat in the back of our Toyota, I understood minivans. It felt like an epiphany: Oh, that's why. So the dang car seat fits.

I had the same feeling today, when I went to the mall for something. I put the baby in her stroller, passed the profoundly-out-of-my-pricerange shoes in Macy's, and realized, oh, this is what malls are for. Malls are for moms.

It's pleasant. You can walk and walk, no matter the weather. You can look at pretty things. When Henrietta is older we can hang at the playground. And here's the kicker: if you need stuff from multiple stores, you don't have to get the kid in and out of the car seat 87,000 times. And heaven knows that limits my activity in the outside world. But at the mall, you just stroll on over, and bam! Whatever you'd like is right there. This mall even has a Target attached. I don't see that I need anything else in this world.

{Aside: I can't even tell you how weird it is that t…

Over and Over

When the explosions in Boston happened, I was in Lowell, walking by the Merrimack river, pushing Henrietta in her stroller. Sam was back at the house, writing. It was sunny today, a sweet sixty degrees, and the water was calm. Pairs of birds flew low on the water, then arched back up into the sky. I felt happy as I walked, calm and content and grateful.

Henrietta enjoyed the walk out but got sleepy on our return. The wind picked up, so I alternated between hurrying to the car and stopping to help her relax, and by the time we got back she was sleeping. I sat on a bench to let her sleep for a minute before putting her back in her carseat, and happened to check Facebook on my phone. My friends in Boston were posting notices they were safe. I didn't know what they meant. I typed "Boston" into Google, and one of the auto-fill options was "Boston explosions" and I followed the link and then I knew. I put the baby back in the car, turned the radio on, and cried on m…

Happy Six Months, Kid

Henrietta is six months old today. I feel bad that I didn't do anything to mark this occasion. Something small, but shiny, like bake cupcakes. With sprinkles. Not that she'd be eating them.

I meant to do something celebratory, but I somehow didn't realize it was today, as in today, and now it's 6:20 and we've already had dinner and Sam is sick and the show's over, folks. By 6:20, I'm pretty much tapped out. We did take a very long walk around the neighborhood in the unbelievably good weather, waving at neighbors and greeting kitties and listening for part of the time to This American life, and my very soul was celebrating how gorgeous it was outside, so we'll count that as a party. Sam thinks it's insane I wanted to do something to mark the day anyway. But hey, we all survived six months. There were times I wasn't entirely sure we would.

I think someday I would like to have a bit of a snapshot of what she was like at this age, so here it is. Th…

This much is true: I'm terrible at dishwasher organization.

[Conversation over dinner at a Mexican joint.]

Deja: Do you think I expect too much of myself?

Sam: [without hesitation] Yes.

Deja: Oh.

Sam: What are you, thirty now?

Deja: Yeah.

Sam: You probably have to start making some decisions.

Deja: What do you mean?

Sam: Well, like. There are all these different things you wanna do, and you can't do all of them as well as you'd like to. I'm sure you can do any of them well, but you can't do all of them well at once. You'll have to pick a few.

Deja: [chip, salsa, mouth]

Sam: You wanna do your blog; you wanna be really involved in church; you want to freelance edit; you want to be the perfect housewife. And you'll never be able to perfect your writing and your dishwasher organization at once.

Deja: [Looks at Sam, sadly.]

Sam: So you just need to really focus on that dishwasher.

Deja: [Wads napkin, throws it at Sam's head.]

As She Tried Out All of Her Sounds

Every six months, Mormons listen to what we call General Conference, which means, theoretically, all 14 million of us gather and listen to talks by church leadership. There's a physical meeting in Salt Lake, and the rest of us watch it in our chapels and, increasingly, over the Internet on our various devices. It's four 2-hour sessions (with a bonus session for men), and it fills up the weekend.

Six months ago, I was literally two days away from having a baby, and let's face it, I slept through most of it, despite my efforts to stay awake. I'd sit down for a moment, pull it up on my iPad, and immediately zonk out. I got some really solid sleep in during those conference sessions, and I don't begrudge my former self a bit of it.

Today, with my baby on the outside, I didn't nap, though she got a pretty solid one in (see above). During the first part, I deep-cleaned my bathroom (party!) while she played with her baby doll and practiced getting up on all fours and…

A Bit Ragged

Sam said, "The Ruddick household is a bit ragged, lately." We were driving home from Boston, stuck in traffic, I think, and at first I didn't know what he meant. And maybe he didn't even say that, since the alliteration isn't exactly like him, but he said something along those lines, and when I didn't understand, he explained:

"Neither one of us have written since we've been home from vacation; the baby is sleeping terribly so we're sleeping terribly; our house is crazy because the painter has been there every day this week. I mean, last night we nearly killed each other."

"We did? Why? I don't remember that at all."

"You were mad about the laundry. I was mad about the couch."

"Oh. Right. We did nearly kill each other."

So there you go. That's the situation. It's been a hairy week. And though I miss blogging, though I have ideas for posts that swirl in and out of my brain, by the time I have a spare …

Sweet to See it Dawn: On Easter and Dread and Everything Coming Out All Right In the End

I like Easter, I've decided. There's less hubbub surrounding it, so there's no use spending oodles of money and traveling across the country for it, and it's easier to make it a quiet day. And easier to think about its religious significance, if you're so inclined. Which I am.

But when Sunday dawned, I confess that church was the last thing I was interested in. Sam was sleeping soundly, and though the day looked sunny and gorgeous, and Henrietta and I were in our colorful Easter Best, I was so full of dread as I drove to church that I frightened myself. I felt like weeping. Maybe it was because just the previous Sunday I had attended with a whole bunch of my family, but it seemed a particularly lonely thing to be doing.

Let's be honest: sometimes I don't want to go to church. Especially lately, with 9am meetings, and a new ward (because of our move) that I don't feel super close to, and a squirmy baby who doesn't want to nap when there are all sorts…