Friday, March 25, 2011

Hi Ho Hi Ho It's back to work I go

So I only have less than a week of maternity leave left. When Charlotte was born, the 4 month leave I took seemed to stretch into eternity, and I could not wait to return to work. Taking care of a baby all day wore me out and stressed me out. I became obsessed with the poison ivy growing in our yard. It distressed me greatly that I was constantly wearing a ratty T-shirt accessorized with spit-up. If she didn't follow her nap and feeding schedule exactly, I was plunged into depression, just sure it meant she would never sleep through the night again. I was a little crazy. I could also tell you Charlotte's age in weeks until she was 2 1/2.

This time around, 4 months has zoomed by, and I am not sure I am ready to go back to work. I also have no idea how old Lawson is in general, much less in weeks. I only know it's time to go back to work because my iPhone told me so. Charlotte still goes to daycare three days a week, so I have been home alone with Lawson those days. Don't tell my husband, but it's a pretty easy gig (most days; there are days when he acts like he has a bleeding ulcer and I'm feeding him lemon juice). Honestly, I don't know how and why I thought having one baby was hard. Just like I can't understand why I ever thought my job was stressful--what is stressful about sitting in front of a computer, unmolested by little parasites, all day? I imagine if I kept having children, which I most decidedly will not be doing, I would eventually come to regard prison as relaxing.

No, Lawson is pretty easy, despite the fact that, at almost 4 months old (I'm assuming, the daffodils are in bloom anyway), he still has no discernible nap or feeding schedule. Every day is a surprise, as if I am living with Charlie Sheen (incidentally, meditating on Charlie Sheen is one of my most effective coping mechanisms these days. Still 20 pounds overweight? At least I'm less likely to be kidnapped by Charlie Sheen and forced into a harem. Not getting enough sleep? Easier to fall asleep during ET's Charlie Sheen update. No quality time with my husband? At least I won't be reminded of Charlie Sheen by virtue of the fact that he and Kevin are both men). Sometimes he wakes up at 7, sometimes he wakes up at 5. Sometimes he goes to bed by 8, sometimes he feels like staying up til 10, usually on a Tuesday because he's a huge Gleek. Sometimes he has 5 bottles a day, sometimes it's 6, sometimes they are 4 oz., sometimes they are 7 oz. Sometimes he takes 3 naps, sometimes 4...it goes on. The only thing you can count on is that he will poop. At some point. Charlotte on the other hand followed a rigid schedule with military precision by 12 weeks old, a skill she must have inherited from her maternal grandparents, whose own sense of time could not be shaken even by the blunt force of Africa, where militaries lack military precision (but they can stage a decent coup in most places, although it will run behind schedule). His erratic behavior aside, a day with Lawson is fairly chill. He sleeps, he eats, he sits around. He is basically a piece of furniture at this point. A little more high maintenance actually, probably more like one of those weird Japanese toy pets that make you feed them. He's way cuter and more important of course, but just in terms of work load. And so what if I just wear spit-up all the time? Spit-up fits even on a fat day, and every day is a fat day around here.

Which brings me to one of the reasons I am reluctant to go back to work. Despite my best efforts, I am still really fat. I did not consider the possibility that I would have trouble losing weight when I was chowing down on donuts during my pregnancy because I did the same when pregnant with Charlotte and had no trouble shedding the pounds once I went on Weight Watchers. I also did not consider this possibility when I got rid of all my spring fat clothes, foolishly thinking I would be back to normal by the time warmer weather rolled around. Warmer weather is rolling around, and, alas, so am I. Still. Given that my wardrobe mainly consists of yoga pants and T-shirts, I have had to buy work-appropriate clothing in larger sizes, something I find more painful and unpleasant than giving birth without an epidural, something I have very intelligently never attempted, or eating salad without salad dressing, something I unfortunately have in my desperate state. I'm hoping my body will eventually get the message and start cooperating with me, but I fear this pregnancy has somehow permanently wrecked my metabolism, and I'll be forced to start buying really really expensive clothes so I can claim to be a size 8 again (Oprah, you know I love you more than life, but you are not a size 10, hate to tell you. Go try on a pair of jeans in Old Navy and brace yourself). I have a few other strategies in the event I never lose this weight that involve making my husband obese and moving to a Muslim country, but honestly I am quite despairing about it. My biggest fear in life, after being eaten by a wild animal and having to home school my children, is having to eat nothing but lettuce for all eternity. Hopefully it won't come to that.

I keep telling Lawson, in our waning quiet moments together, that he better not grow up to be a criminal because it would really suck to have had my body destroyed to bring a criminal into the world. That's what I think every time I see a bad person on TV now: your mother went through all that so you could go and become this? Honestly, we all owe it to our mothers to be a bunch of Mother Teresas out there.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

VIP

If you came to my house on a typical day, this is what you would see: Charlotte desperately trying to get me to play with her, usually by rolling around the floor and whimpering like a wounded Yorkshire Terrier, and me desperately trying to get her to play by herself so I can do something really important, like check to see how many people have "liked" my new Facebook profile pic. Or play another hand of spades on my iPhone. Or maybe write a blog post so my 13 fans will have some meaning in their lives. Doesn't she know who I am and how many important things I have to do?

Of course, I do have things I need to do. I need to defend against the invasion of toys into another room. I need to cook something to eat so Kevin doesn't have to do another Taco Bell run on his way home (yes, we eat Taco Bell regardless of what their meat actually is. If the FDA hasn't shut it down, we're eating it). I need to read a book, other than the Dr. Suess variety, so I don't forget how. I need to work out, although I don't know why, my body is hell bent on maintaining my new hefty weight regardless of what I do. And I need to pee, preferably alone. But besides the latter, which is not really an option, although tell that to Charlotte, I don't do any of that stuff. No, I just keep mindlessly moving through a series of digital stimulants like some hamster in a bad science experiment. Check email, check Facebook, spades, bridge, sudoku. Check Weight Watchers log to see if I have enough points left for a stick of gum. No, I don't. Start reading an article on cnn.com. Nope, too much mental energy required. Check email. Even though I haven't heard an alert and therefore already know I don't have any email. If I click "check mail" I might get a couple of messages that have come in in the last 1.5 seconds.

I got an iPhone recently, making this routine even easier to maneuver and even more constant. I got the iPhone because I was unable to share the iPod Touch I had earlier bought, ostensibly so Charlotte could play games. Yes, I could not share it with her, even though she plays with it maybe 1 hour a day. I explained to Kevin that I was getting my own iPhone because I thought sharing the iPod with Charlotte was fostering the spread of germs. Which is probably true, it's pretty much encrusted with dried spittle when she gives it back to me. But that is not the real reason I couldn't share, after all I was raised in Africa and ebola doesn't scare me much less some toddler spit. No, the real reason is that I found I could no longer breathe without it in my hand. I bought an iPhone to save my own life, it's true. Now, besides breathing, I can stand in line at Starbucks with the other people that are too important to be disconnected from anyone who knows them for 3 seconds and go through my motions on my iPhone.

And that is what I think a lot of this digital addiction is really all about: Feeling important without doing any meaningful work. And communicating to other people that you are important. Thus the 8 status updates per hour (I carefully limit myself to 1 per day. I don't want people thinking I think I am important. I want them to know I am so important I only have time for 1 per day). Thus the constant email checking and sending. I want a visible, tangible sign that people think I am important. Thus the blogging. I want people to reflect back to me that I am so smart and important that they want to read what I have to say. The spades and bridge, I don't know what that is, just pure crack without any deeper meaning I suppose. The Weight Watchers is pure desperation at this point.

But playing with a 3 year old? Giving her my undivided attention? Where's the pay off, man? She already knows I am important because she doesn't eat without me around. And no one else will know and be impressed by how well I play with a toddler.

Until she robs a bank. Or just becomes a law-abiding bad person. Or just an emotionally needy regular person.

The truth is--I don't have anything better to do than spending quality time with my kids. Partly because I am really that lame. But mostly because there IS nothing better to do. It doesn't really matter if I am fluent in Swahili or well-read. It for damn sure doesn't matter if I have a cute status update that everyone hearts. Or write in this blog. No one cares or is going to die. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to do it, I really do need to feel important. But maybe I could spend more time on the things that actually ARE important. There's a concept.