Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Evolution

When I started this blog, I planned to be witty and profound, writing on everything from food to politics. There are some embarrassing early attempts in the archives, which I won't link to. You can dig if you want. I realized that there was a glut of political bloggers who did it a thousand times better than me; same for the food; same for the pop culture. I floundered around for topics. I read lots of blogs. I became hooked first on Amalah. Like heroin hooked. She led me to Miss Zoot and Her Bad Mother and Dooce and Sweet Juniper and so many others that were writing eloquent, hilarious, tear-jerking, dark, sweet, outrageous, and amazing things about just being themselves as parents. The term mommyblogger (or daddyblogger, as the case may be) seems to me a derogatory, minimizing term to these wonderful writers, yet they embrace it, own it, write it, inspire it. These were the blogs I went back to, over and over, for smiles, tears, humbling inspiration.

You're always supposed to write what you know. So my blog evolved into tales of neighborhood snow shovel thievery, life on the Hill, the documentation of our endless house renovation, my ballooning belly, and the baby. Oh, this baby. My universe both shrunk and grew to consist of six pounds, six ounces of pure, astonishing tiny life and boundless love. I have struggled to find the words to say it all, but have found again what I know, what I love, what to write about. I am trying to embrace this, to make it as good as the other writers I admire have made it.

***

I always said I wasn't a baby person. I never wanted to hold them. They might spit up or something - ewww. When I waited tables in a restaurant in high school, the other girls were always oohing and aahing over the "baby tables" when allegedly cute babies came in. I just rolled my eyes, and hoped for a good tip for the inevitable mess. I always liked older children better. They talked, you knew what they wanted, you could run around with them, and roughhouse, and play games and read, and discuss things. Ages three and up were much more my speed. I used to joke with my friend Janine that I wanted to hatch a fully-formed five-year old. Who needs babies?

Then I had Helene. Suddenly, I got it. I understood the awesome fragility and power coexisting in a tiny newborn. I was attracted like a magnet to other little babies that I saw in the store and on the street. I wrote crazy, hormone-fueled sappy entries like this. And this. I mourn for all of the so-quickly passing baby stages at the same time that I revere each new and wonderful thing she does each day.

Now that Helene is nearly eight (8!) months old, it's surprisingly hard to recall exactly her newborn-ness. We visited and held the week-old baby of friends over the weekend, and we were amazed at all we had forgotten. You have to support their head! They barely open their eyes! Was Helene really this tiny? Yet what we remember is being just as fascinated with her then (Look! Her eyes are open....oh, maybe not...wait, I think she pooped.) as we are now (She's rolling! She's scooting! She's almost crawling! She wants to jump! I think she said "Dada!"). She is perpetually wondrous to us.

***
I hadn't bought shoes since Helene was born. I went almost EIGHT MONTHS without buying shoes. Nearly THREE QUARTERS of a year. Anyone who has seen my closet and my Zappo's account knows there was some kind of catastrophic tremor set off in the universe somewhere by such an unprecedented occurrence. I did buy several pairs right before she was born, in an insane frenzy of Trying To Feel Pretty When I Really Feel Like A Bloated Hippo, mistakenly believing (a) that the shoes would still fit on my "oh, they're not that swollen" nine-month pregnant feet; and (b) that in my temporary career as a stay-at-home mom I would be wearing those sleek kitten-heel, pointy toe, glove-soft brown leather boots all the time (they were worn exactly once, to the exactly one baby-free fancy dinner we've been to since Helene's birth). My "mom" shoes thus far have consisted of: clogs, running shoes. Uhhh, yeah. Oh! And black leather ballet flats when I'm really fancy! I dug out the Keens and flip flops to update for the summer. And then I went ALL OUT a couple of weeks ago and bought some flat leather sandals, because for some reason, I found it hard to schlep the baby and all assorted baby gear over uneven brick sidewalks in all the summer sandals of my previous life that all have no heel shorter than 2 inches. How did I wear all those heels? How did I walk in them all the time? What the hell was I doing?

There is a thin layer of dust on many pairs of fabulous shoes in my closet.

***

I was sure that I would be one of those moms who was ready to go back to work, antsy at home, ready to jump back into the sheer, heady power of being a mid-level beareaucrat (kidding on that last one here). The truth is that I don't miss work at all. I wish I didn't have to go back. I love the freedom from sitting in an office in front of a computer all day. I love walking all over our neighborhood with Helene. I love getting to know all of the other mamas and babies. Yes, it would be nice to have some adult time, where I do get to wear the aforementioned heels, and dress up, and go to places that don't have high chairs and changing tables. Yes, I do get bored sometimes by reading the same books over and over, or by trying to entertain a fussy baby for just one half-hour more until Papa gets home! Papa, where the eff ARE YOU??? I love this life, where I am usually the first person Helene sees when she wakes, giving me a gentian-eyed bright smile; where I go for a run at the Arboretum while the baby naps in the jogger, and my glutes get some extra work pushing the stroller up all those hills, and I stretch in the shade of a garden, while Helene plays on the grass; where I put her in the Ergo and get coffee around the corner, and the shopkeepers smile and coo at my baby who smiles and coos back; where I have made wonderful new friends, and we get together and watch our babies try to pull each others' hair and gnaw on each others' toes; where I stroll on Monday evenings to get our farm share, and come home to wash and cook vegetables, while the baby bounces in her jumper, and bounces more and flails her arms and says "ooh!" when Seth comes home. I have gotten used to this life, and I don't want to surrender it. My reprieves will run out, though, and I will have to go to work, still feeling that Helene isn't old enough or big enough to be without me.

I will have to get over it. I will have to get used to having her for so many fewer hours a day, get used to missing her. I will have to treasure the time more (if that is possible) and continue to rationalize that I am doing what is best for her by working.

***

I've been less attentive to my blog these days. Sidetracked by trying to find a nanny share, losing a nanny share, being relieved, getting a reprieve, making the most of my ever-shortening career as a stay at home mom, distracted by bright blue summer skies, practically civilized not-that-hot summer weather so far, playdates in the park, and cooking all of the luscious summer farm produce that finds its way to our kitchen, it hasn't seemed all that appealing to sit down and write. And what to write? How to be fresh, new? What is there to say about babies and motherhood and life that hasn't already been said before in a better, funnier, more articulate way? How to get my stupid registered domain name to actually work because I am an internet idiot and Blogger's instructions didn't work? How to get a new banner designed, and how much would it cost? Maybe some widgets? I have begun to feel myself chafing at the restrictions of Blogger, of this DC Zia alias, of this place in the interwebs, of my own strictures of what I should write about, of my concerns of causing offense to certain readers. I am wondering if it is time to move on from this particular interweb cave, to another virtual room of my own.

I don't know yet. I don't have that answer yet, as I also don't know when Helene will really start to like solid food, when I will go back to work, how we are going to find a nanny, when I will be ready for a babysitter and a dinner out, alone, with my husband. I have only mostly figured out how to muddle along in the present; the future is an ever-changing point in the distance.

So we evolve, as we must.

2 comments:

Karen said...

I love the Helene story, but I also think about all those lovely shoes, and wonder what size does Roberta wear. ;-)

J-mama said...

I vividly remember that "I don't like babies - can I just pop out a four-year-old" stage! I love the fact that we see all these GORGEOUS photos and read great stories about Helene. It's so nice to see you totally smitten :-)

Shoes...check out Jonathan Fluevog - those babies are art for the feet and SOOO comfy!