Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good Mom, Meh Friend

I have to be careful how I write this post, so I don't come off as "Oh woe is me!" That's not the point.  This is meant to be an observation, a realization maybe, not a whine fest. So please read with that in mind.

Before I was a mom, I like to think I was a good friend. I did my best to always make myself available for a good cry/meltdown/nervous breakdown when my friends needed me.  I tried to give good advice from the heart when they asked for it.  I gave out hugs like they were going out of style.  And I always showed up when and where I said I would.  I laughed, cried, and watched stupid movies with my friends.  I cooked for them, baked them their favorites if they had a bad day, and hosted parties just for the heck of it ("You woke up cranky today? Let's have a party! That will make you feel better!")

Monday, January 17, 2011

Life's Mysterious Ways

Not to be cliche, but it's true that sometimes life just works out funny.  I've often thought about why things happen, when and how they happen.  And with Ellie, it's no different.  She came to us exactly the way she was meant to, no accidents.  I tried to blame myself for a long time for the unfortunate circumstances around her birth, but no matter how hard I tried, I kept seeing that it couldn't possibly be my fault.  After a few months, and especially when she came home, I stopped trying.  I just accepted that she got here exactly the right way for her.

Drama queen.

No, but seriously, life does have very mysterious ways about it. Have you ever noticed that you bump into people after many years at exactly the right moment in your life that they would be helpful? Or how you find love when it's unexpected, earn a promotion when you're not trying, or find something long forgotten when it becomes more meaningful than ever before?

When I was pregnant with Ellie, my writing came to a halt.  I tried to write, I really did.  I blamed my preggo brain for obliterating all my creativity.  I said I'd get better after I gave birth.  The end result was that my novels - and all my writing projects - sat neglected for over a year. 

While I was pregnant with Ellie, I also went for the routine ultrasound, got my little print outs, and promised to treasure them always.  Somewhere in the shuffle of our kitchen table, and all the stuff I kept leaving there as a reminder to get some writing done, they disappeared.  We moved from that apartment when Ellie was 7 months old, and I still hadn't found them.  I gave them up for lost and was just thankful that I scanned them onto my computer. At least I still "had" them, even if I didn't.

In November, finally, I got back into writing.  I wrote a new novel, one that I have high hopes for, and I set myself to the task of getting published again.  And, you know, not only did I start to feel like myself again, but something amazing happened.

This morning, I opened one of my favorite books on writing and I found it.  There they were, the ultrasound pictures.  Somehow, I had tucked them inside this book, whether on purpose or by accident I don't know.  But something precious to me was sitting inside this book, waiting for me to find them.  Ellie was in my book on writing.  Two parts of my life kept each other company when I thought they were lost.

And now I know that everything is happening exactly as it's supposed to.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Parenting Mistake #1 - Underestimating Your Baby

I have called my daughter many things: Dragon Baby, Destructo-Baby, Hulk Baby (she's very strong), and even Houdini Baby.  She's got super powers, I swear to you.  And as she grows and develops, I too have had to learn a few things.  Lesson number one, never underestimate your baby's abilities.

My daughter is ten months old and yet she can unscrew the top of her hearing aid container.  She's successfully negotiated a zipper on a few occasions.  She can open draws and cabinets, pull open the blinds on the sliding glass door, move her baby gate, tip the dog's water bowl, open the toilet lid, and climb into the bath tub.  She can get down off the bed and off the couch.  She can almost climb back up - almost.  But I know that as soon as I don't think she can do such a thing, she'll figure it out.

This little girl is tenacious, curious, and stubborn - a potent combination that makes her a disaster waiting to happen.  Think she can't reach that cup of coffee on the table? Think again.  Or maybe she won't notice that cell phone over there.... hmmm, even if she does, could she get to it?  Yes. The answer is always yes. 

When I was a little girl, I was an angel.  My mother extolls my virtues often, saying that she could sit me in the middle of the room, say "Stay here." and I would obey, no questions asked.  It's not that I wasn't curious, I was just obedient.  Ellie understands the word "No," but sees it as an option not an imperative.  She looks at you, cracks a smile, then resumes the forbidden activity with renewed vigor.  This child is a boundary-tester. This child is her father's daughter.

You see, my husband was the opposite of me as a child.  Into everything, curious about how it works, curious how far he could push it before his mother intervened.  Ellie invites you to chase her, hopes you'll get up off the couch and stop her.  She wants to be in trouble.

I have absolutely no idea how to combat this.  Such personality traits are foreign to me.  But step one is to always think ahead of the baby, never assume she can't figure out how to do exactly what she isn't supposed to do.  So far, I've diffused many harmful scenarios and I've developed tactics that help me distract her.  I'm just never leaving her alone. Ever.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Baby's First Christmas

Ellie's first Christmas has officially come and gone, and her play area received a complete makeover in the process.  From cars to horses, purses to singing story books, Cabbage Patch babies to her first Wii game, my kid got spoiled this year.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning...
Anyway, she opened some presents, played in some boxes, and tried out as many of her new toys as Mommy and Grandma could wrestle from the parent-proof packaging. Seriously, why are they trying to keep us out of there so badly?

Elissa also got her very first Patriots jersey thanks to 'Auntie' Kate, who gets huge points in my book.  Now we've got a miniature Tom Brady fan on our hands.  I'm just jealous that I don't have my own jersey to coordinate on game day!

And of course, Ellie's first rocking horse (from Uncle Derek) was a big hit.  My little princess just can't get enough of this toy... I'm not looking forward to the Christmas when she asks for a real pony...

 Ellie also got her very first purse (it's a learning toy, okay?) from Santa, an adorable Cabbage Patch doll from Aunt Sammi (her new travel companion on all car trips), her first Build-a-Bear, lots of loud music-making toys, and a gigantic teddy bear that will be bigger than her until she reaches the second grade, at least.  And that's only about 1/5 of the list!

Thanks to EVERYONE for making Elissa's first Christmas such a big success, and a day that we'll look back on for years to come.  I already can't wait for next year!