New Motherhood, Internet Thievery, and Other Panics

The Baby is now 12 weeks old and three days away from his three month birthday. (Yes, I am now a person who discusses her child’s age in both weeks and month-anniversaries. Deal with it.) This means that I’ve been a mother forrreeeeevvvveeeeer, and therefore have some feelings about it.

The most pressing of these feelings is the overwhelming need to tell all new moms and mothers-to-be in my life that is okay to feel bad. People revel in telling pregnant women to dread stretch marks and sagging boobs and to expect the worst during delivery. Other women delight in this, bizarrely. I wish I had had fewer moms tell me that my body would be ruined and more moms tell me that I’d have to reconstruct my self. That my life as I knew it was over. Because it was, and it is. I will never again be the person I was before I had The Baby, and as much as I love him, I had to grieve the end of my old life. I wish I’d known that would happen. Maybe it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it has happened to 100% of the mothers I’ve asked.

I love my son more than anything I could ever imagine, but it is a love that consumes me, in every sense of that word. It isn’t romantic love. It isn’t familial love. It’s a love that forces you awake at 2am, even while your newborn sleeps, so that you can stare into the face of the person you created with your own body and cry about how much responsibility it is, how innocent he is, how much you miss life before, and how you would rip someone apart with your bare hands if they dared to take him from you.

Most of the time, I’ve got this handled. I’ve got time off to be solely with The Baby, and I am grateful for that. I can follow his lead, feed him on demand, hold him every second he needs me. However, some of the time, I find myself furiously rocking The Baby in the glider after trying to get him to sleep for three hours, wondering when I’ll ever be able to use my own arms again to make food, fold laundry, or use my laptop. (I’ve spent so much time in the glider that my new non-existent mom ass has bored a hole in the foam of the seat, and now it looks like Homer Simpson’s couch).

In the last few weeks, it’s gotten markedly easier to be a mom, because The Baby interacts with toys now and loves sitting in his bouncer or laying on his playmat and punching things. For the first many, many weeks of his life, he wouldn’t tolerate being put down at all, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I carried this boy in my arms constantly for more than two full months. As I type this now, however, he’s happily attacking a dangling hippopotamus, which I am actively encouraging. You slap that hippo, Baby. GET HIM.

Being The Baby’s mom amazes me every day. It’s true what they say: seeing the world through the eyes of your child is incredible. I’ve watched The Baby discover that he loves warm baths, jingly noises, black and white illustrations, attempting to stand up, and Billy Joel. I know that he hates sleeping alone, being on his tummy, and pooping his pants, and that sudden changes in temperature confuse him. He is my favorite little person in the entire world.

I just wish that instead of smiling and gleefully telling me, “You’ll never sleep again,” people had told me, “You’ll never sleep again and you will feel crazy and everything will seem impossible and when it does, call me.”

In other news, I, like most new parents, think my child is the cutest, smartest, funniest, most interesting creature. I would love to document all his craziness here, but I recently made a discovery that has made me wary of posting any more photos of him to this blog. When he was one month and one day old, he broke out in what everyone assured me was baby acne, the product of swirling newborn hormones that would eventually resolve itself. It eventually got so bad that literally (I’m prone to hyperbole, but this was literally) every pore on his face was raised or red or covered in a fluid-filled bump. I became convinced it was a dairy intolerance, and within a week of cutting out all dairy, it started to improve and ultimately went away. (I snuck some dairy a few times in the last couple weeks and now his skin is reacting again, so take that, people who thought I was nuts!)

Annnnnyway, while investigating his mystery rash, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin of a very familiar picture. The pin led to this website:
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That’s a photo of ME, taken in a South Carolina hotel bathroom ten years ago, and posted on this, my personal blog, as an attempt to help other people who may be struggling with acne. I was immediately pissed to see that it had been lifted from here and used somewhere else not just because that’s a gross thing to do, but also because the reason I posted it was to offer potential help and support to other acne suffers and the way it’s being used by the person who stole it is disingenuous. It’s posted under the heading “How to get rid of cystic acne on chest during pregnancy,” which is shitty because: I wasn’t pregnant for the five years I had this problem, it wasn’t cystic acne, and I didn’t “get rid of it” in any of the ways listed below the photo. I haven’t pursued trying to get the photo removed because 1) I’ve been busy (see above) and 2) it’s being used by one of those aggregate content websites written in language that is just different enough from how actual people speak that it must be computer-generated (i.e. the site is called “Let’s Rid Of”), so I assume no one is really running it and no one is really reading it. However, it still upsets me.

And it’s also a clear example of how what I post on this blog I don’t think anyone actually reads can end up in places I not only didn’t expect, but also didn’t allow. I don’t want personal photos of my tiny little person to end up on some rando website that promises to “Cure Babies of Nighttime Farts” (although I would really like to know how to do that).

If you’re interested in seeing photos of the gremlin, you can request to follow me on Instagram (which has gone from a feed of various photos of travel and food to just photos of The Baby). Try not to look too much like a robot or someone trying to sell me baby weight loss products, because it’ll be a waste of everyone’s time.

Just a Tad.

My mother and I look nothing alike. If my father hadn’t witnessed my c-section birth and the hospital hadn’t slapped an ID bracelet on my wrist shortly thereafter and I hadn’t ended up with the horrific acne that can be traced up my maternal line to at least my great-great-grandparents, then I may not even believe she’s my biological mother. We are that physically different.
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This is at my wedding, which was held in May three years ago. (HOLY SMOKES, we’ve been married a long time.) My mom hadn’t had a lot of summer time in the sun just yet and I had gotten a spray tan two days earlier, and that is the only reason why we have approximately the same skin tone.

Okay, so we don’t look similar.  However, we have nearly identical personalities and are both freakishly good at befriending strangers. The other day, my mom was telling me about seeing a woman soliciting donations outside of a Whole Foods. For a normal person, this story would end with, “And then I walked right by her while pretending to have a conversation on my cell phone.” For my mother, the story included this woman’s age, hometown, sexual orientation, current employment and future plans. My mom probably stood outside the grocery store for thirty minutes talking to this person.  And that is something I would do. I once gave a homeless man my phone number. (And then fielded uncomfortably sexual voicemails from him for two years.)

Another thing that my mom and I have in common is that we tend to get into ridiculous situations that require stupid adventures. For my mom, this may mean saying yes to four different meetings on the same day in two different counties, because they were all at different times and she figured she could, theoretically, attend them all.

For me recently, this meant ordering tadpoles for the school on Tuesday, expecting them to come by Friday, and having them arrive in Los Angeles a day late, on Saturday. This wouldn’t have been a huge issue if I’d had them shipped to my house. Unfortunately, I’d had them shipped to the school, which is, of course, closed and abandoned on Saturday afternoon. The USPS tracking website said the package, full of live tadpoles, was at the local post office and slated for delivery on Monday, and I was faced with an awful choice. Drive into the city to deal with a wild tad chase on my one day off (I spent today at a work-sponsored conference) or allow the tads to die at the post office over the weekend after being tied up in a small plastic bag of pond water inside a box for five days.

Can you guess what I chose to do?

It involved:

1) driving to the post office closest to the school,

2) discovering that the tads were not in fact at the station and were in fact out for delivery with a mail carrier (the tracking website is a total liar),

3) being instructed by the United States Postal Service that the only solution was to troll the surrounding neighborhoods for mail trucks in order to physically track down the package,

4) cornering the first mailwoman I found on the street as she was actively delivering mail,

5) asking her to use her personal cell phone to find the woman working the school’s route,

6) finding out the second mail carrier’s location,

7) driving to her,

8) and having my box of tads hand-delivered to me out of the back of a mail truck on a busy major LA street by a woman who thought I was a total nutcase.

Does this crap happen to anyone else? Or am I alone in this?  (My mother notwithstanding.) I was literally The Great Tadpole Detective yesterday. I drove up and down streets waiting for mail trucks, looking for clues. I interviewed witnesses and found evidence. I caught a few lucky breaks.

I saved three lives. And it was so, so annoying.

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This sticker should say, “LIVING THINGS! Do not throw around the back of a truck or toss over closed gates.”

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Hugs.

Adventures in Reheating.

My favorite meal in all the world is one my mother used to make when I lived at home.  It is, you might say, my mother’s recipe, although it isn’t a concoction ripped from the pages of my great-grandmother’s cookbook.  (I don’t eat meatballs or chicken soup or brisket, so I’m essentially a pox on the family).  My favorite meal in all the world is made almost entirely from items sold in packages at California grocery stores.  I consider this processed nightmare of Mexican chefs and dietitians everywhere a recipe because I’ve tried it with other boxes and cans and with homemade components and nothing, nothing compares to the culinary victory that is my mother’s combination of products.  Nothing.

It is as follows:

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Prepare as directed.

Prepare as directed.

Prepare as directed.

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Fry corn tortillas in vegetable oil. Shape into taco shells.

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This is an avocado. It is a fruit. Do not fear it’s natural skin and large seed. It will not hurt you.

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If I ever find myself requesting a last meal, it will be a feast made in twenty minutes from this collection of store-bought delights.

My mother, who is actually a fantastic cook and an excellent baker and an extraordinary cake decorator, hates me for referring to this as a one of her “homecooked meals.”  In my defense, she once fed this to someone who prides himself on gourmet cooking and he told her it was the most delicious Mexican food he’d ever had, so as far as I’m concerned she is a genius.

Job well done.

Job well done.

(P.S. Yesterday, Fertile Myrtle told me that when she gets email alerts that I’ve published new posts, she feels compelled to stop whatever she’s doing and read them immediately.  That makes me feel really powerful.  Dear friend, what were you doing just now?)

Quiz Master: Motherload.

Tuesday Test Question:

Sarah has a kitchen cabinet full of earth-friendly household cleaners. She knows how to use them (begrudgingly). Why, then, did she frantically scrub her bathroom sink with a Cottonelle wet wipe at 8:15 pm on a Tuesday night?

a) the bathroom was a disgusting mess

b) her mother called from ten minutes away and said she was stopping by

c) Sarah, despite being a pig, is still capable of feeling shame

d) all of the above

The answer is, of course, D. And she didn’t even use the bathroom.

(I love you, Mom. I’m truly very happy we are so close that you can come by on the fly. Thank you for not judging.)

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My beautiful mommy.

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<3.

 

2012.

Oh, hellllllllllo.  Want to see some photos from this year?  In no particular order, I present 2012: Space Odyssey:

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I met a monkey at a Saturday brunch with friends. Having friends with zoo jobs has its perks!

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I spent a ton of time with this adorable beast.

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Baby me!  Apparently, I was once a turtle-faced pearl-clutcher.

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See?

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September 2012 – school begins!
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My brother is so stylish.

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2012: the year I learned how to blow dry my hair. I am 26.

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I found this photo in my mother’s camera. It highlights the fact that we look like total strangers. Genetics are crazy.

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Cars Land! My mother-in-law has given us Disneyland passes as anniversary presents for our past two anniversaries and I have become the adult-baby I’ve always found so annoying. Disneyland as a grown is super fun.

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I put a bag on a baby’s head. IT HAD HOLES IN IT.

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As a family, we began a love affair with kettle corn. As in, we have it on hand all the time.  Even if that means making emergency farmer’s market runs.  At 11 am on Saturday mornings.

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As a teacher of five-year-olds, I love this photo. Presidents: they’re just like us!

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This photo is not staged. This creep jacked my pencil.

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I attended several baby showers this year and they were all amazing. The kids were okay too.

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Hammock time.

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It’s been super cloudy and gorgeous around these parts since October. Love.

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In February, I went to Atlanta for a week. When I came home, this monster wouldn’t let me put him down for days.

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My husband found this outside our front door. Terrifying.

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“I played a very small part in a very large chair.”

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The beast. So cute.

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Does this picture give you paws?

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I met a reindeer at work! More specifically, I met Vixon.

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I managed to crack the leg of a child’s chair. Because I’m super in shape and immune to humiliating situations.

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We brought skeletal anatomy into our classroom for Halloween. Yipee!

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For the two years I’ve been going to Disneyland on the regular, I’ve been collecting 25 cent future readings from Esmeralda, a beautiful robot on Main Street. The last one I received is this one.  I’ve since stopped giving her any money.  You cut me deep, Esme.

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Okay, this is a meme, which I can take zero credit for. However, I can still love it, right?

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This is my dad. In our backyard. Being really safe.

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Abraham Lincoln, the cat who would be a bird.