Archives for category: elinor

So much has been happening lately, I can’t keep up with it. This is a rambling post. I’ll try to put some pictures in to break it up. Did I mention that Elinor is full-on walking? Yep. It’s awesome and exhausting.

Iza, my dear kitty, has diabetes. It’s totally treatable and we caught it early (when they start peeing like crazy, something’s bad. Thank goodness she’s so particular about her litter box), but it’s a significant expense. We changed her diet and are monitoring her ketones, but haven’t yet started insulin. It’s like we’re holding our breath to see if things will work themselves out, which sometimes happens, but is rare ….

Elinor and I took a trip to Siesta Key, Florida, with my mom’s family. My grandma turns 80 this year and it’s her and my grandpa’s 60th wedding anniversary this year, so they wanted one big family hurrah. I’m impressed, because we did get the entire family down there — except for Chad. This first year of work at the firm precluded any week-long vacations for him. So El and I walked into the Gulf of Mexico, and El loved it even more than I did. She’s a beach baby, loving the water and the waves. And she had such an amazing time with her cousins, both Peyton and Harper (babies everywhere!) but also Spencer’s awesome step-children, Tyler and Maddie. It was a good week, though I missed Chad like crazy and have vowed never to take another vacation without him. Pictures to come — we forgot our camera (!) and are relying on grandparents and aunts. They’ll supply soon.

And then Chad’s big bad firm did some computer upgrades, shutting down their whole system for Memorial Day weekend, which meant he COULD take a short vacation. To Kenyon it was, then, for my 10th-year reunion. I had debated going due to the timing and expense, but Monica and Rhoda and Marc were going to be there, and I so wanted to see them …. Brittany and Joe, Chad’s sister and basically brother-in-law, drove up from Oxford, Ohio, and joined us for a day and a half, and Jeff drove up from Pittsburgh with Sarah and little Emmett, and we spent a nice afternoon with Juan DePascuale, whom Chad worked with one summer at St. Olaf, and then we drove to cute, perfect Hudson, Ohio, to spend one night with Matt and Monte and their little ones, Finn and Willa, two good friends of Chad’s from his college days. It was a packed vacation, but a good one. Oh yeah — and Kenyon!

El and Em love the dog on Middle path ….

Monica and Rhoda look normal — parenthood makes for goofy posing. Ah, kids.

All of this to say that it’s been an expensive spring. We’re doing OK, but we have a fair amount of debt and it bothers Chad. He’s vowed to work at the firm five years or so just so that we can manage that debt down and have some more freedom, but that’s still a hefty goal. We constantly debate the weight of that goal’s importance, especially compared to Chad’s health and El’s time with Chad. And my time with Chad!

And my first day in Florida, my school district called to say that they were denying my request for one more year of unpaid maternity leave since they were closing my school and had reduced my position. It’s a little weird, and they sure could have told me much earlier, but that means that I either need to resign or find a job in the district by August. This was not in the plan — but that means more money?

MDPL is swinging along, too, with paid opportunities to run some contract work, and I miss teaching a whole bunch.

A friend from college offered me some contract work writing for online sources ….

Let’s take a break on those uncomfortable but imposing chairs in Nu Pi Kappa. And yes, there was a current Kenyon student napping while El ravaged the room.

My head is aswirl with options for our lives. I’ve begun babysitting Blaise, Erin’s awesome 2-year-old, once a week, and I’ve dedicated all of those earnings to paying for our two mega-vacations. But I could go back to work. I could contract with MDPL. I could write for some online sources. We could make some more money, meet those debt goals earlier, and maybe have some freedom sooner, together. But in the meantime, that means finding and paying for childcare for El, which is a whole ‘nother headache.

Who am I, and how important are these cash flows compared to being here for Elinor and making sure that Chad’s quality of life meets some basic standards?

Going back to Kenyon didn’t help clarify any of this. Education came up everywhere, and I do feel so committed to those causes and to that mission. The Amanda from Kenyon days is different from the Amanda now, too, and living with both of them was strange. I feel so much more ME now than I did then, but my life is strangely larger and more sprawling now, too, way less focused and way less constrained.

El was ready for long conversations in Peirce as she waited for high-quality local foodstuffs.

I don’t know what to do. My crunchy Mama podcast that I love (Mama Natural Show 43) just reported on study that found that stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) have significantly higher levels of depression than other moms, most likely due to isolation, aimlessness, and a lack of feeling any accomplishments. I don’t think isolation is a big issue for me (thank God for my family and some good friends), but I suffer from aimlessness like you wouldn’t believe (she’s sleeping?! What to do first? clean? yoga? eat? sleep? make stuff? MDPL? aieee!), and that lack of accomplishing anything (another load of laundry left, another load of dishes, and El’s crying yet again …. rinse, repeat) drives me mad.

But I love being with El.

All of this just to get some of the things in me head, outta there and somewhere else. I will figure it out. We will figure it out.

I wrote this note on 3/21:

“I must get this finished before she turns a year! I have eight days left!”

Whoops. She’s already one. I could tell you much more about that, but I really did want to finish the tale of pregnancy and birth. Ahem:

As the bump grew and strangers began to look at me differently, I began to try to get life into order for this huge change. I wonder if those new and different stares — softened eyes, a willingness to slow down, smiles you never would have received before, people holding the door open way more often, and a look that I now realize is special to parents as they remember that whole process — are also meant to spur you forward, to make you prepare.

I had no idea how much things would change.

But I knew they would change. And so the preparations began. The most obvious was at school, where walking up and down the stairs became a concerted effort, instead of the quick run and joy it had been prior. I made every effort to keep walking those stairs (58 of them up to the third floor) as much as possible, and probably due to the size of that school, and partially due to prenatal yoga, I remained in pretty decent shape overall. But my back would hurt and the constant hunger made things difficult. I didn’t have to pee all of the time, but way more often than before. I don’t know how I would have managed had I still been teaching normal, 90-minute classes. Yikes. It was hard enough as a normal person, but as a pregnant woman …. Props to those who do it.

But I began to plan for my replacement. I wrote a mini-book of instructions about all of the tasks that I did for the school, and never felt better about my role in that school than the day I finished it. Well, I felt useful, at least, though my role was as schizophrenic as they came, since I was doing all sorts of random things, from monitoring Accelerated Reader to running reports from standardized tests to meeting with teachers to running professional development to teaching two electives.

School has always been a draining experience, but it had also been energizing. As Gorb grew and began taking over my consciousness more and more, the energizing aspect of it lessened and lessened. I slacked a lot, going home soon after the bell rang to just sit and eat and sit and eat and sleep, every night. I was a complete slacker, to be honest. I kind of felt guilty, but kind of not.

The rumbles of the district were being heard throughout our school, as well. I was pretty sure that the coming year would bring some serious changes to our school, yet again, and, to be honest, I was so happy that I had a valid excuse to leave and not think about things for awhile. Chad and I made the decision for me to take the next year as maternity leave, since he would be starting at the big bad law firm and we could afford it. To be honest, I was relieved that I had an excuse as good as Gorb to stay out of the political squabbling and job hunts that I thought would come to my school. Ah, education.

Even more difficult was stepping back from MDPL, the nonprofit writing center that I had helped to create. It had been my dream since college, and then somehow a reality, with weekend workshops and summer camps and a board of really cool people. I spent every spare second I had working on it, to be honest, and knew I was pretty central to its functioning. But we all knew I would have to step back for awhile, and so we had a board retreat, complete with facilitator Leslie and lots of food. Leslie made me physically step back from most activities, in order to force the rest of the board to step up and to force me to not take things on. That was hard. It was a relief to see those cool board members step up, but it was so hard to let go of something so central to me and my identity and my passions. There were several times where I felt that tingling, burning sensation behind my eyes, the one that means tears are coming but I don’t want the tears to come.

It was hard.

There was a shower, planned by lovely Erin and held at Juanita’s house. Gorb got tons of gifts, tons of friends and family were there, and it was good to be surrounded by women who were happy that Gorb was coming and that I would be Gorb’s mother. The best part, beyond the wonderful casual atmosphere that Erin had made possible, was a dish of beads she found. Everyone chose a bead for me and Gorb, and then wrote what that bead could mean to us in a little booklet for me. The idea was to use the beads as a focus point during labor, like a rosary. I still get the booklet out and read it now and then. It was the best thing anyone could have done for me.

Chad and I — well, really Chad and his dad — painted the nursery a bright green. We felt so bold picking such a bold color, named something like Geranium Leaves or some other term — but my, it was bright. It felt like living in Kermit the Frog’s head, to be honest. But then we moved in Chad’s sister’s old set of furniture, refinished and painted by Chad’s dad a soft white. And we moved in the white crib. And we just knew Gorb would like it.

After we hoisted Elinor into her highchair for a late dinner yesterday, Chad turned to me and said, “I like that outfit.”

I automatically turned to look at Elinor, in her blue striped onesie and red leggings, and smiled, replying, “I like it, too! My mom liked it when she baby-sat as well.” I had thought it was a triumph of baby fashion, as well.

“Where did you get it?” he asked.

I was a little confused about his interest, but complied with the request for information. “Well, the onesie was from the consignment store, and the red leggings …. She always wears her red leggings!” He had seen those a thousand times.

And then we realized our miscommunication. Chad was commenting on MY outfit, which was a tunic from India and black pants, something I had never worn before due to my terror of standing out, fashion-wise, but had worn that day in honor of our Travel Writing Workshop for MDPL.

Yes — my husband complimented my outfit, and I assumed he was complimenting our daughter’s outfit. Though I take responsibility for both outfits, it just goes to show how completely absorbed I have become by Elinor and her little life, and how her welfare has become such a deep, deep part of me. People always tell you about how parenthood and love for a child is this all-consuming, uncontrollable thing, and I had always thought that I could imagine the truth of that. But I couldn’t, and it sometimes hits my upside of the head.

For instance, last weekend Chad hung out with Elinor while I went to MDPL’s book release party at Sweet Action Ice Cream (yum). I had parked a block or so away, grabbed the bag of books, my purse, and my highly unnecessary coat, and was walking toward the shop. I had to cross both Lincoln and 1st Ave. I was late, which always happens these days, and I saw that the little walking man was flashing across 1st, so I began to walk.

As I neared the middle of the far lane, I saw a blueish car begin to turn right. I began to stare it down, and it slowed a bit, but then

there was a crash

and other noises

and everything paused around me, leaving only a series of thoughts in my head.

This is not happening. This car is not going to hit me. I am not going to be hit by a car. I have to get home to Elinor. I have to be her mom. I have to see Elinor. 

Somehow I managed to jump — or fall — out of the way of the car. I landed on my knee and then my butt, bags in piles surrounding me, and the world was still quiet and focused, even as I continued to register some loud crashes and grinding occurring around me.

I looked at the ground, and at my hands, and my legs, and everything was intact. And I breathed a sigh, and said Thank You, and I stood up, somehow gathering all those bags together. Across 1st, the blueish car had driven all the way up the embankment on the side of the road, its back bumper completely smashed in. To its left, in the right lane of Lincoln, was a red Jeep, its front right tire completely flat, its front right bumper well smashed up.

No one was moving, and it felt like all traffic on busy Lincoln had stopped, too. No one had emerged out of the blue car, and I walked toward it, calling out to see if the person was alright, worried that the driver wouldn’t get out and be OK.

But she did step out of the smashed car, and I could see that the front of the car had been completely smashed as the car had driven over the curb and up the sidewalk, as well. The driver was fine, though, and the driver of the Jeep, which must have never slowed down as the blue car paused for me, and which had smashed into the blue car, forcing that blue car clear across the entire street, walked over, wringing her hands, asking if we were OK, nearing hysterics, explaining that the brake lights on the blue car had stopped, so she had kept going ….

Numerous people had stopped and were walking toward us, making sure we were OK. The driver of the blue car asked me if I was OK, and I said, “I don’t think you hit me, or touched me — I just fell — I’m fine” to her numerous times. Someone thrust a phone into my face, and I talked to the 911 dispatcher and assured her that I was OK, and described the scene, and she told me that the fire truck was on its way. Instantaneously, I was aware of sirens, and within a minute the fire truck was there, and I stood in the Saturday sunshine as they checked all three of us over. During a pause I called Julie, telling her that I would be late to the book signing and that she might want to walk over and pick up the books. I could hear the sirens through the phone as I talked to her. A police car arrived and I assured the officer that I was OK, and he took down my name and information, and suddenly I was free to go.

Julie was across 1st, and I walked slowly to her, smiling like an idiot, assuring her that I was fine, and she had driven her car the two blocks and told me to get in. I did, and we had to wait quite awhile to get back into traffic, and in the calm warmth of her car I began to cry.

The immensity of that situation has sat upon me the last week, especially as I came home to Elinor and Chad and began to cry again, especially as I cross streets, especially as I turn right and look everywhere for pedestrians, especially as I went in an sat in Elinor’s bedroom that night as she slept, thankful that I was alright and that she was alright and that life could keep going on.

But the fact that all I could think about, in the face of possible tragedy, was her, is telling. She is such a part of me, such a wonderful responsibility, such a sun around which I now orbit, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Both of us were sick this week, and the sleepless nights and constant stream of snot to be removed from her nose as she screamed bloody murder, and the coughing all night long and crying were very difficult, and I was so grateful to get some time for myself once in awhile, but all in all — entwined we are, and I am so, so grateful.

Yep. That’s enough for today.

I forgot my password to WorPress. That means something.

I should be writing more. I’m fully aware of that. But things have been busy, and Elinor just doesn’t seem to sleep as much during the day, and every moment Chad is home I would rather spend with him …. Ugggh.

Used to be that I would dread the 45 minutes it takes to put Elinor to sleep at night. I would think about the TV I could be watching with mu husband. I would think about the writing I could be doing. I would think about the dishes that need to be done. I would stare off into the dark and count the rocks of the glider, willing Elinor to fall asleep.

Every day I would pray that I would get some time to myself, bargaining with God (if she sleeps, I will make sure we get to church this week; if she sleeps, I will do the dishes with pleasure, not dread ….). I would do everything possible to make sure that she slept.

And it was miserable, and I complained more than necessary to Chad and others.

But something switched. I am pretty sure it was when Chad and I had to decide whether or not to extend my maternity leave or not. I had been itching for some more adult contact, and perhaps working was the best way. Chad wasn’t sure if he liked his job or not, so I began making plans for child care, thinking about options. I even researched what teaching jobs were currently available, and then was so frustrated with the thought of my manic teaching schedule again, that I began researching NON-teaching jobs. A 9-to-5 job would be so much nicer, and so many seem to pay more than teaching, anyway.

But the more I researched, the more I freaked out. The thought of dropping her off somewhere just hurt. The time spent nursing her to sleep now felt precious, not a chore. The naps were not as essential as they had seemed before, especially if I could just stay up late to catch up on things and then sleep in with her. Every moment just seemed to be a gift, and I hoped that we were providing Elinor with a gift, too.

So when Chad felt a little more comfortable with his work, and I was secure that options might still be available if I needed them, I extended the maternity leave.

And I accepted that my job is with Elinor, now, and the time for myself will come. I might not be exercising or writing or even getting my MDPL work done these days, but I am so lucky to be at home with the little Mook.

It’s good.

Five things I learned while teaching that have prepped me (a little!) for mothering.

5. Always be prepared.

You know, I was never an organized person in the traditional sense. To be honest, I still am not an organized person in the traditional sense. I am cluttered, with my piling system, and it drives Chad crazy. But I do know where most things are. Teaching made me a little more organized, but in a different way, as well — more like a chess player. I have to plan things out, step after step in my head, and contemplate various outcomes with students. “If this lesson fails, what will the children do then?” “If they don’t learn it this way, what should we do next?” “How do I know if they learned it well enough?”

And now, with Elinor, I have to plan for those conceivable outcomes, as well. “If she doesn’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, we’ll go vacuum. If she wakes up before 10, we’ll go to the store.” The diaper bag is packed. I dress and shower while she’s sleeping. I juggle her on the floor with my yoga poses when I remember to do so. Whenever we go out, I account for diapers, food, toys, change of clothes (in case diapering isn’t enough, you know?), and changes in weather ….

4. Sickness is not allowed.

In teaching, I would often soldier on when sick because I didn’t want the kids to lose out on learning. Really, they rarely learn things when a substitute is around. If you’re lucky enough to know or get a good substitute, awesome, but there are few guarantees for a newish teacher like myself. So, more likely than not, it was more important to just deal with the cold rather than to take a day off. Of course, this is how my cough turned to bronchitis, turned to pneumonia, triggered asthma, so it’s not the healthiest take on life — but it is a reality.

And this is even more true as a mother. I got food poisoning this weekend. Vomiting something awful, putting Elinor on the floor as I rushed to the bathroom to kneel at the altar of porcelain. It was good that Chad was around this weekend, because poor Elinor would have been as miserable as I was if he hadn’t. And I have no idea how I would have taken care of her when I could barely move or keep my head up, much less drink water or eat.

I do have to say that breastfeeding is a crazy-ass thing, because Elinor seems to be getting enough milk and seems to be relatively healthy, despite my descent into non-eating.

3. Prepping for a substitute is an involved and difficult process.

This goes along with “Sickness is not allowed.” More often than not, even if I was feeling crappy and WANTED to stay home, the prepping for a substitute is so involved and thorough that it would dissuade me not to do so. Perhaps part of that is because I retained the vague idea that my kids might actually learn while I was gone, but … maybe not. Anyway, once you have updated attendance rosters, seating charts, helping kids, and lesson plans for every class (with back-ups), you are usually more exhausted than you were before, and it would be almost easier to just GO to school. It would have been easier if my rosters and seating charts didn’t change all the time, or if I didn’t mess with lesson plans so much, but that’s part of teaching.

And then with babies — it’s totally worth it to prep for a babysitter, but it’s still pretty involved. Diapers, food, toys, cleaning the freaking house a little, etc. And taking Elinor to another person’s house is even more involved — bringing a highchair, thinking about a pak n’ play, diapers diapers diapers, bibs and washcloths and food, oh my! It’s still very much worth it, but it takes a lot of thinking and planning. Reference “Always be prepared.”

2. Dignity only goes so far.

My students loved when I made a fool of myself, or embarrassed myself, even if it was obviously on purpose. The day I read them the story about when I peed my pants during volleyball try-outs, they laughed SO hard — and they learned a little in the lesson that followed. And whenever I messed up, which was often, things went much better if I just owned up, apologized, and dealt with it, instead of being stubborn and trying to make things work that wouldn’t work.

This has been a little more difficult to do with Elinor, but still …. Especially when feeding her solids, I have just had to get messy with her, and try to give up when it wasn’t the right time. I’m not good at giving up, though. This also applies to poop and pee, of course. I went to my friend Erin’s house last week and was appalled when I wasn’t sure if the dried goop on my wrist was banana or poop. Just par for the course, I guess.

1. Humor makes everything better.

Nuff said.

Well, this is our third snowstorm of the year, but it was the first time I truly took Elinor out into it, partially because I didn’t have snow gear for her before, and partially because our busy schedule of nursing, eating solids, trying to get her to nap, and changing diapers precluded it beforehand.

Anyway, we got five inches last night (on top of five on Thursday, too!), and I had to shovel the driveway.

First we suited up.

Then we tried the carseat as a safe location.

That lasted for about 10 minutes. So I began to get creative.

A tarp!

That only lasted five minutes.

But I am a tenacious mom when it comes to finishing my chores (when I actually start them, that is). So —

She was happy there for probably another 10, which was enough for me to finish the driveway.

Here I made the mistake — I thought that she’d be game for really hanging out in the snow, like the true Colorado baby that she is ….


(But she just napped for 2.5 hours!)

I should never, ever, ever revel in something like I did in my last post.

Since then, dear sweet Elinor and I have had a sleeping … disruption. She rarely sleeps for more than three, maybe four hours in a row at night, anyway. But now that she is truly teething (two so far!), she sleeps even less. We have good days (today! I am writing as she … NAPS!) and bad days (yesterday!). But this child does not want to sleep.

Let’s see. Monday night I finally got her down around 8:30, and then I stupidly stayed awake to get some items finished on my long list of things to do. I went to bed around 10:30, but my mind was racing and I couldn’t sleep. Just as I was about to drift off ….

I went to her, followed the normal routine. Change diaper, nurse, try to put her down between breasts, but she was still hungry, so nurse the other side. Try to put her down — she’s usually pretty soundly asleep by now — she falls into a fitless state around midnight. I crawl back into bed, drift off pretty quickly. But by 12:30, she’s crying. Throw myself out of the nice, warm comforter. I try to just get her down by rocking and soothing, thinking I might be able to head back to bed and curl up next to the furnace of a husband. No go. So, back to nursing. Both sides, another hour. She’s sleeping on me, but when I put her into her crib, she cries. I rock, soothe, put her in her crib — she cries. I try nursing, but she isn’t hungry. Her diaper is not wet. We rock, I sing, and she cries, growing more frantic by the minute. I walk around with her, I change her diaper despite the lack of stuff in it, and finally I try the baby tylenol. We rock some more, she nurses some more, and she finally, finally goes down around two a.m. TWO!! She and I were up for three hours.

The next morning, she woke up at seven. A five hour stretch is not bad, but it wasn’t enough for me, or for her. I spend the entire morning trying to get her to nap. She’s obviously tired, fretting and rubbing her eyes, but every time I put her down, she cries. It’s not a little cry, either — it’s the full-blown, world-is-ending cry. At some point I leave her in her crib for 25 minutes, and by the end of it, she is wailing like a hurricane, and continues to cry for 20 more minutes in direct reproach to my callousness. I feel like a bad mother.

And then we went swimming and she was awesome.

But afterwards, she was exhausted yet again, but still wouldn’t nap. She was awake the entire day, minus two 30-minute car rides. She barely made it through dinner before I had to bring her upstairs, and she was NOT having a book read to her, per our normal routine. Instead, she nurses fully, then cries as I rock. I put her down and say hi to Chad, who’s just gotten home. He goes in to rock her, and she cries for 20 minutes on him. We switch off. She doesn’t want to nurse, so I rock and begin experimenting with different positions, thinking it might be her tummy. Finally, I have her feet at my waist, her head on my shins, and am rocking in the rocking chair as she happily farts and farts and farts while basically hanging, upside-down, on my legs. She talks to me for a few minutes, I draw her back up into my lap, and she falls asleep laying back against my arm. I put her into her crib, and she makes happy noises for a few minutes, then drifts off to sleep.

That whole thing took two full hours. TWO HOURS!

And she woke every three hours last night, on the dot, though she went down after nursing each time like a dream. Ahhhh.

I don’t know. I attempt some sleep training, but she isn’t usually crying for me, per se, but because of pain. It’s her teeth or her tummy, methinks, and it’s my job to calm them so she can get some rest. This is hard, though, and it’s wearing on me.

It’s a good thing today was good, though. I keep having dreams that I am pregnant again, and I wake up TERRIFIED. This parenting business is the most difficult work I’ve ever done, and it’s emotionally and physically exhausting, and I can’t even imagine what eight hours of uninterrupted sleep would feel like.

Oh, all of this to say that I did not finish my novel this month. I did write 30,000 words (of crap), and I am proud of that. My goal is to get the next 20K done by New Year’s, and re-assess. When she doesn’t nap all day, I don’t have the fortitude to sit down and write for the hour or so to myself once I get her to sleep. Instead, I watch TV and, last night, drink Scotch. 🙂

It’s a good thing she’s so cute. And she insists on feeding HERSELF these days, manipulating that spoon like a ninja baby. I have video of that, but not a picture, so you’ll have to content yourselves with other pictures.

She’s moving so fast after eating that yogurt, ninja-style.

And even ninjas have to stay clean. Note the samurai topknot. Do samurai and ninjas ever get along? Do they even hang out together, ever?

Who cares. She’s a happy baby ninja, most of the time. The hair is a front for her mad skills, a distraction.

It’s been awhile. I blame the NaNoWriMo stuff. Here’s a chart of my writing, words per day:

It’s been a lot, especially because it’s been a busy month. Elinor’s waking up every three hours or so at night (she finally went four hours last night!), we went to visit Jo, Peyton, and Harper in Albuquerque, and daylight savings time is not fun at all with babies. Plus El got her first tooth, and I’m sure the next one is working its way up. And have I ever mentioned that my baby hates to nap?

All this to say that finding the time to write 1667 words a day is kind of difficult., especially with that napping /sleeping situation.

Tonight El was pretty tired, but I knew Chad would be home within a half hour …. So I delayed bedtime, playing with her on the changing table, reading two books, etc. He came home, he loved her and she loved him, and then I nursed her to sleep, per our usual routine. She went down in 25 minutes, not bad — but then she was up.

And so I went upstairs and rocked her. She wasn’t interested in more milk; she was interested in telling me everything about the world. For 25 more minutes, we rocked and she talked. She’s at the “ba ba ba ya ah ma da” stage. She just talked, and I rocked, and she talked, and I rocked, and then she finally finally fell asleep.

Often I am a little frustrated when she won’t go down. But tonight was special, I guess, because I just listened to her talk and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, doing anything else, in the whole world.

It was nice procrastination for NaNoWriMo, too.

I’ve been grumpy a good portion of the last two weeks. Elinor has been less grumpy than I have been; I don’t understand how a little baby can survive on less sleep than a 31-year-old mom.

I think the following is a universal parent experience: you listen to parent educators warn you about never shaking the baby, and you turn to your partner with eyebrows raised, certain that you will never even think about doing such a thing. But there comes a day when the baby has made a whiny, grumbling, high-pitched noise nearly continuously for most of the day, indicative of extreme fatigue, and you will do everything in your power to help the baby sleep, but sleep will not come, and you yourself will wish to make such a noise, and instead you will cry out in frustration and make your baby cry, and then you will comfort said babe, and then the babe will whine again, and you will set the babe down in her crib and walk away because you have an overwhelming urge to shake that baby and make her tell you what she needs and wants.

Because all you want to do is provide her with what she needs and wants.

But after leaving the baby in her crib for five minutes, and praying to God that she will sleep, and calling your sister in Albuquerque, and whining to her, and then going back to the baby, and walking with her, and bouncing her on your lap while shielding her from the computer screen as you desperately search for emails that remind you that you are an intelligent, functioning adult, only to read about what you consider to be a corporate takeover of the school board election, you feel your blood boiling in your capillaries. And you call your friend Erin who still gets to vote in Denver, ruing your decision to live in the ‘burbs, to lecture her on who she should vote for, and you rant and work yourself into a relative frenzy over the school board election, and as your rant subsides you realize that, though irked and dismayed by the school board election, you are really just exhausted, and very very very tired of that whining noise that your baby is making.

That was last Tuesday.

Since then, life has been a little better. It is good to rant, and to have many people graciously willing to listen to your rants. But yesterday, though Elinor was in a fantastic mood, she wasn’t sleeping again. And instead of obsessing over the school board election (results are in; corporations win, again), instead you obsess over whether or not you will have to go back to work so that your husband will not have to work those corporate hours for a corporate law firm anymore. And you spend too much time cruising CANPO’s job postings as your baby bounces in her bouncy swing, and you are now dismayed that, though possessing a MEd, five years experience in a classroom, and many competent life skills, on paper you are not qualified for most jobs. And teaching takes up as much time as a corporate law job, and your baby should have at least one parent around for dinner time consistently, and you are worried that you have wasted your life.

And then your friend Janice sends you a link to NaNoWriMo (, and as you rant to your mom about not being qualified for 9-5 jobs that pay more than teaching, she tells you to write, and when your husband comes home, grumpy from his corporate day, he tells you to write. And you want to yell at all of them, but instead you finally get the baby down again at 11, and instead of curling up next to your husband’s lovely furnace-y and sleepy body, you sit down, sign up for National Novel Writing Month, and write two pages of what you are sure will be a crap novel.

At least you didn’t shake the baby.