Sunday, June 20th, 2010
Did I say last week that having a baby is like being on vacation? Really? Or did a ghost swoop in and steal my computer? Honestly, I went to the museum with a spring in my step, and left with a limp (along with a covering of cheerios, a film of sweat and a coating of baby formula). Good times.
I thought the exhibit, Race to the End of the Earth (about Antarctica explorers), would put mommyhood into perspective. I guess it did when you consider I nearly sweated to death (instead of freezing to death).
There were four moms and four babes (five if you consider one of us was pregnant. And no, it wasn’t me!). Getting there on the subway took four different trains (thanks to some unplanned MTA service changes). Since this was my grand idea, I tried to keep it light. I told the moms that we would get good exercise schlepping our strollers up multiple stairs. And that seemed to work well, that is, until we had to keep changing trains. Usually you get a Good Samaritan to help carry your baby-in-stroller up the steps. But anyone who saw our caravan was sure to run the other way. Who could blame them?
Once at the museum, we headed straight for the food court. The babies needed things like pizza, an apple, a grilled cheese sandwich and hot water for a bottle. The moms needed a booth to collapse in. I couldn’t believe I was that person, sitting in a cafeteria at 11 a.m. and actually dreading getting up and walking.
We finally hit the exhibits. Fia promptly went to sleep at the stuffed mammals (the one thing I thought she would like). We were told the explorer exhibit I wanted to see was an IMAX. And if our babies cried, we’d have to leave. After great debate, we psyched ourselves up. Yes, our babies can do this. We’re going for it. We went to buy tickets, and were told conflicting info: no IMAX. It was a walk-though. Though for us, it became more of a crawl through experience. But at this point, like the explorers, there was no turning back.
At one point, I was on all fours, chasing Fi under a yurt waving a clean diaper in the air. Nora’s baby Aiden had his first bout of separation anxiety when she ran (pregnant) to the bathroom for 30 seconds. We all danced and sang to him with zero consolation. Visitors scurried past us, not sure why we were performing a jig next to an igloo and a screaming baby. Courtney’s baby Teddy tried to eat the fake ice mountain (the plaque said “Do Not Touch”). Stephanie’s baby Gracen was flinging and contorting her body every which way in the stroller while screaming. In baby speak, she was yelling, “Let me out of stroller jail! I want to be an explorer!”
We exited and looked at our watches. I was sure 5 hours had gone by. Nope. Only 2 ½. How was that possible? We needed to kill more time. We left the museum and bee lined to the only place that could soothe our souls: The Shake Shack on 72nd street. One Shack-Dog later and my nerves began to recharge—at least enough for the subway ride home.
We moms try and get together every Thursday. Each week one of us picks what to do. After this excursion, I think I lost that privilege.
Oh, and P.S. by the time I hobbled home, I was too tired to even watch Oprah. So much for indulging myself with baby.
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Fearless Feisty Mama
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
I’m taking Fia to the Natural History Museum this week. My mom friends and I feel like getting out of Brooklyn for the day. There’s an exhibit there: Race to the End of the Earth. It’s about two explorers who in 1911 went to the South Pole and back. It was an 1,800-mile journey where their endurance and survival skills were up against not only extreme weather and insane logistics, but also THE UNKNOWN. I figure after seeing it, any challenges of motherhood will be put into perspective.
But here’s another little secret: I wanted to go to the Museum—and have for some time. I’ve been a freelancer for years. Every day and week was different. Before I had Fia, I wouldn’t give myself the permission to “indulge.” Rather, I’d sit at my computer and force myself to do something, anything. I had to be productive. And if I couldn’t, well, then I’d do things like train for marathons. Climb mountains. Or, say, go to Timbuktu.
dust and desert in Timbuktu, Mali
But now I’ve realized something that I hesitate to even share because a) I might feel totally different tomorrow, if Fia has a meltdown and b) I don’t want my husband to see this because then all my whining is negated. At the risk of both, here it goes:
If you don’t have to work full time, once you get through those first really hard months with a newborn, it’s kind of, in a small way, like being on vacation. Dear Lord, I said it. I’m ducking under my table right now, cringing at my very words. Let me rephrase: when your baby is 10 months old, like Fi, you can start to entertain yourself and your baby simultaneously. You can do things normally reserved for a weekend—or vacation. (There’s that bad word again).
Having placed so much of my own self worth on career, it was hard for me to go with the flow without a goal at the end. I mean, the other day, I was playing on the floor with Fia, watching Oprah. Halfway through the episode, I put her down for a nap and thought, I better turn off the TV and DO something productive. I can’t just lay here and watch….can I? Well, maybe just a little… And finally, SCREW IT, I’M FINISHING THE EPISODE. (Dare I say I watched another one after?)
Granted, I am a little type-A, so many of you may have been born with the ability to write yourself a permission slip. For me, this is an awakening. Fia has accomplished what no therapist or yogi could: she has, without even knowing it, given me ability to live life in the moment—and make that moment whatever I want it to be, i.e.: Oprah, museums, etc. She is allowing me to enjoy aspects of life without degrees, accolades or medals attached. She has quieted my monkey mind. And, in many ways, transformed me, by completing me.
soaking in the sun -- and Fia
I know this is a finite time. When she starts to walk—or run—a trip to a museum in Manhattan may require Advil (for me) and a leash (for her). And when she goes off to nursery school and beyond, I’ll have chunks of time to fret and worry about furthering my career and not falling behind in the world. But right now, by fulfilling myself, I feel I am fulfilling her. By opening my eyes, I’m opening hers. Those explorers didn’t know what they would find on the other side. I don’t know either. But for right now, I’m completely living in the moment.
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A Fi Grows in Brooklyn, Fearless Feisty Mama