Posts Tagged: Parenting

DIARY

The Village

Some of my favorite memories from when I was growing up are of the times we drove upstate to visit my parents' friends at the 1950s-style family resort they owned. All day (and night) long the grownups hung out in the common room and drank wine and played chess and talked and laughed while the kids played a board game, or searched for Tiny Toon Adventures on the old TV by the bar, or hid under dining room tables telling secrets, and it was all just so...communal. Not just family units in threes and fours braving the waters in rickety little boats; an actual village full of parents and children and grandchildren and babies, everyone doing their own thing, but together just the same.

I remember the sound of it, you know? The sort of grownup buzzing that's the soundtrack of so much of your childhood; those conversations about politics that you can't even begin to make sense of, those jokes that make your parents laugh until they turn red and that you don't understand but laugh at anyway, just because they're happy and so you're happy, too. It's the same sound that you hear late at night when you're in the backseat of the car driving home from somewhere, and your parents start talking about work or something else your kid self doesn't care about, and you fall asleep to the sound of their office frustrations and traffic reports on the radio, and feel warm and peaceful and safe.

It's cool, seeing how happy our kids are when we have friends over. Not because anyone's doting on them, especially, but just because I get the sense it's exciting, getting to be a part of what Grownup Life is like. The other day we had a few friends over for lunch and swimming, and when the sun started to set we decided to take a mini-picnic out to the trellis-covered tables by the playground down the block. We swung on swings and climbed hills and ran around with the dogs and just sat and talked, and the kids stayed up late and ended the night watching cartoons on the bed while we ordered Thai food and talked some more, and it reminded me of those weekends at the hotel way back when.

Anxiety

Someone With Problems

I wrote a few weeks ago how, in the days following Goldie's birth - when I feared a relapse of the postpartum depression that I'd suffered from after Indy arrived - I was prescribed a low-dose medication to combat the chronic insomnia and anxiety that I've been dealing with for a good decade (and hopefully make PPD more unlikely). It's been two months, and I figure now is as good of a time as any to write about how it's been going.

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Growing up, my parents taught me that no one would handle my problems for me; it was on me to face them, and then fix them. If I had an issue with a teacher, a fight with a friend, an essay that I just couldn't seem to get right, they were there to listen and offer suggestions, of course, but they were not going to storm the gates and take over; finding a solution was my job. And I'm grateful for that.

Anxiety

If You Only Ask

I went into the birth of my second child absolutely convinced I'd experience at least some degree of the postpartum depression I dealt with after Indy was born. It was something I brought up at my very first appointment after finding out we were expecting, and something that I touched base with my doctors about over the course of the next few months. I didn't want it to catch me unguarded and without a plan in place, because with a toddler and an infant to think about, being that emotionally out of sorts even for even a day didn't feel like an option.

My primary concern: you know how I've written extensively about my insomnia (which is largely related to my anxiety)? Well, when you have a newborn, you sleep even less. And less sleep = a greater chance of suffering from PPD.

At the mid-point in my pregnancy, I went to meet with a psychiatrist (which I should have done a long, long time ago), because even though I didn't want to start any new medications while expecting, I figured you know what? I've been dealing with this problem long enough. I've tried lots of different things - some that have worked for a time, and some that haven't worked at all - and if there's a longer-term, more stable solution, I'd like to find it. What we decided: that I'd start on an extremely low-dose daily antidepressant immediately following the birth. I don't suffer from depression, but apparently this kind of medication can help to shut off the sort of ruminative thinking that characterizes my particular type of anxiety.

(As a side note, this decision to try medication wasn't something I was going to talk about here - it feels so, so personal - but then I realized: am I ashamed that I suffer from insomnia and anxiety? No. Am I ashamed that I've tried lots of different things over the years, and that now I'm going to try this? No. And I know that these are issues that a lot of people suffer from, and that a lot of people feel ashamed about, and I believe with all my heart that there is no shame in being open about your struggles and seeking out help wherever you can find it.)

Anxiety

A Peculiar Thing

The below is an excerpt from Ramshackle Glam. I wanted to share it on the site because it explores a topic that I've touched upon a lot here - the anxiety that I felt during my pregnancy, and in the weeks after giving birth - but that I felt like I never really got to the bottom of until I wrote this essay.

(Read the full book on your Kindle here.)

Early on in my pregnancy, when I was busy tying myself up in knots about things like strollers and closets and finding room for bottle drying racks on our nonexistent countertop, one of the things I actually didn’t worry a ton about, oddly enough, was . . . the baby. I just kind of figured he’d be okay. I mean, of course I went to all my doctor’s appointments, ate decently well, and avoided the stuff you’re supposed to avoid, but mostly I just sort of got on with it and trusted that everything would turn out fine. He’d be born, and be loved and happy and ours, and our little family would roll on into wherever it was we were headed.

Anxiety

So Here’s What I’m Afraid Of

I mean, I'm afraid of lots of things surrounding the family expansion that's on the way. I'm afraid that I won't be able to find the time to do my work (which does not involve maternity leave). I'm afraid that I'll be so overtired and stressed out that I'll take it out on Kendrick, and that our baby's first months in the world will be full of yelling rather than joy. I'm afraid that I'll be so busy and worried about everything that I'll forget to notice what's really happening, which is that my daughter is right there in front of me, learning where her fingers are or how to reach for a toy, and then it'll be over, and I'll never have a baby again, and I'll spend ever day for the rest of my life wishing I had just stopped everything to be with my child and watch her watch the world.

I'm afraid of all of those things.

But right now, right this moment, what I'm afraid of is this: nearly every new parent I've spoken to has told me that part of how you make it through those first few months with a toddler and an infant is basically by dividing and conquering. I've heard from more than one new mom of two that - in the beginning, at least - her partner is generally the one "responsible" for the older child, the one taking him out, playing with him, feeding him, heading out to the park with him, while she stays home with the baby (because, of course, there are some things that Dads just can't do for a newborn; breastfeeding, for example). I've also heard that the moment your new baby arrives, something changes in the way you see your first child: they seem so big, all of a sudden. So capable. And that's wonderful, and also a loss: where did my baby go?

DIY Projects

DIY Valentine’s Day Cards For Kids

I’m not a crafting-type mom.

I’d like to be – I aspire to be – but you know those moms who have cabinets filled with things like glitter and pipe cleaners, and enjoy settling down on snowy afternoons to create bedazzled things with their children? They are not me.

But I do like cutting hearts out of construction paper (who doesn’t?), and I very much want to get my son excited about the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up. It’s a holiday that I have historically not really cared about, but is now – like every other holiday – about ten thousand times more fun, given that I now have a very short roommate who is experiencing it for the third time in his life (and probably the first time with any real clarity).

Best

Counting Clouds

Three screenings of Planes (for real; I think someone was excited about flying), one waffle, one banana, one cup of blueberries, one cup of pasta, one cup of cereal, one cup of dried green beans, two applesauces, three crackers, one yogurt parfait, and one McDonald's egg-and-cheese biscuit later (what can I say? the child can eat), and we're in San Francisco!

Of course, the first order of business was to head straight to In-N-Out Burger for some animal style action. Because we were starving.

DIARY

The Kindness Of…

Yesterday was bad.

I had an ultrasound appointment up in Connecticut, and planned to be back home by 3, before the storm was supposed to get really severe. I made it most of the way back with no traffic or snow at all, but around Stamford (about half an hour from our house) the cars on the highway came to a virtual stop, and the blizzard picked up in what felt like seconds.

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