Saturday, October 29, 2011

There Is No Manual For This

There is no manual for being a mommy.  It's the world's most important job (daddies too) and you're on your own.  Usually, when you start a new job, they send you through some kind of training or indoctrination course, like when I worked at Disney.  But not this job.  Motherhood is trial by fire.  The stakes are high and there are no re-dos.  You can't just hit the BACK button.

Sure, there's plenty of advice out there if you look for it.  Actually, you may get it without asking, as people you don't know tend to do when they see your baby bump or screaming toddler in a supermarket.  You've got your own parents at the ready, willing to share unwanted advice, and you've got parenting classes and a multitude of books written by "experts" who want to tell you what to do but you're open to it because they're not your parents.

The book I've consulted most is the ever popular "What to Expect When You're Expecting," then "What to Expect: The First Year" and now "What to Expect: The Toddler Years."  I'm sure one day I'll be reading "What to Expect: The 'I Hate You' Years."  These books have been helpful at times, particularly while I was pregnant, but now I just find them annoying.  For every problem, their answer is the same -- it's okay.  It's okay that your child isn't eating much, don't worry, it's normal.  It's okay that you took your baby out shopping all day and she didn't get to nap.  It's o-kay.  It's not just these books; it's everything I read these days from parenting magazines to experts' websites.  Motherhood is hard, they seem to be saying.  You're excused from flying into that rage at your toddler for taking a magic marker to your sofa because mommies have feelings too and it's okay to trip up every now and then.  Really?

Which leads me to a young mommy I saw on my flight back from Austin last weekend.  She's no doubt been reading all of this literature and just letting it fly.  It started when she hit me in the security line with her stroller, but that's beside the point.  She tried to put her two-year-old into an open seat without her having a separate ticket, then caused a scene with the flight attendant for following the rules.  This caused our takeoff to be delayed.  The child screamed throughout the flight and this mother, I believe, was only making it worse.  She jerked the little girl out of her seat, hitting her head on the overhead bin, kept yelling at her to be quiet and generally ignoring the girl's needs.  After landing, she apologized out loud to the entire plane for her daughter, who was simply acting like a normal two-year-old.  All I could do was feel for that child and how bad her mom was making her feel.

A bunch of us waited for our checked-in carry-on luggage to be brought out, including this mom.  She sat the squirming girl on the ground, pointed her finger and said, "Sit!" as if she was a dog.  Of course, she didn't.  The mom continued out loud to everyone, "I'm not having another kid.  My husband wants one but I said no way, I'm not going through this (re: her daughter) again."  "This is reason for birth control right here."  I couldn't take it anymore.  I walked over and struck up a conversation just to shut her up.  I even offered to watch her daughter for a minute while she grabbed her bag and stroller.  Help a fellow mommy out, I thought.  But it was as if she couldn't hear me.  Or maybe didn't want to.  And just went on complaining.  I offered one last time, got my bag and left.  I felt bad for that mom, but what I really felt bad about what that poor child.

I never want to make my child feel that way.  No matter how overstressed I may get, no matter how many articles in parenting magazines say it's okay, I know better.  I came home and hugged LO and promised her quietly to always put her first and she said..."Okay."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Did My Baby Just Say That?

LO is talking non-stop.  Has been for months and now it's at a whole new level.  Sometimes it's chatter that borders on sounding Chinese, but most of the time it's pretty clear.  Here are a few of her latest comments:

I need chocolate.
Go see call Gram.
Where Daddy go?
Go see puter Cookie Monster.  (
Slow... (walks really slow)  Fast!  (runs really fast)
Fish hiding.  Hi, fish!
Come on, Mommy. (as she drags me to her table to draw with crayons)
Look, firefighter!
The fan goes round!

She's also counting from 1-16.  I'm loving being able to communicate with her so much.  Every day that she seems a little older and more independent, I think of her at just a few months old.  I have no doubt this is how I'll always see her, even as she drives away to college, gets married and has a baby of her own someday.  I get it, Mom.  I get it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Allergy Central

It's official -- LO is highly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  We found this out by giving her a bite of a peanut butter sandwich.  After one lick, she broke out into hives all over within seconds and started grabbing at her throat.  A quick dose of Benadryl and a rush to the doctor's office and she was fine, but it scared the pants off of mommy and daddy.  We subsequently saw an allergist who did a test, which confirmed it.  The test was awful.  A bunch of pricks all over her back and I had to hold her face down against me, still, for about 15 minutes, which for an antsy toddler is an eternity.

So I went to my local Pharmaca to pick up LO's new prescription for an Epipen, which I found out is not covered by our insurance.  These puppies are $175 a pop and I needed two packs because apparently a bad nut reaction can come back shortly after using the first pen.  As if using it once wouldn't be traumatizing enough.  I get the prescription and for some reason my intuition made me ask for a pharmacist consultation.  Sure enough, they had given me the wrong Epipen!  They gave me the adult dose pack, which is "way too much" for a child.  When I pointed this out, the pharmacist's eyes turned to saucers, then she minimized it, saying it could cause her heart to race too much.  I called bullshit.  "It could be very serious," she said.  I did my best not to reach across and grab her by the throat.  I could just see the headlines: "Deranged California Woman Attacks Pharmacist."  They would've left out the part where said pharmacist crossed a new mommy.  What if I had given that to LO one day?

Now we carry Epipens everywhere and I'm wondering if I need to have her wear a medi-bracelet when she goes to preschool one day.  Anyone know if this makes a difference?

After the allergist appointment, I put LO down for a nap and proceeded to clean out every last nut from our kitchen.  DH wasn't too happy about his organic peanut butter going missing, but hey the doc said a "nut free home."  Now I scrutinize every label on everything we buy.  The whole of Trader Joe's is processed in a factory that handles nuts and soy, two things we can't have.  (Dear Trader Joe's, why?  WHY?!).  Now my slacker mommy self can no longer nuke a meal in a pinch.  I give the tenth degree to waiters at restaurants when they promise me there's no nuts in a dish.  "Are you really really sure?" I probe.  "Maybe you should double check with the kitchen."  

They say 20% of toddlers grow out of this, so I'm waiting and hoping.  In the meantime, I've got my eye on you, mistake-making pharmacist and couldn't-care-less waiter.