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baby brain

  • Plastic vs Nature

    I will fully admit that I am kinda queer when it comes to what I expose the Munch to. I am not trying to be one of those mom’s that hands out raisins on Halloween… but the likely hood that she will be trying to trade her raw almonds for potato chips in a few years is pretty high. My anal retentive desire for her to be a woodland creature of the forest does not end with food. I want her to be a nymph of nature. Entertained by moss and butterflies. I want her to contemplate what bark is made of, while twirling together a daisy crown.

    So needless to say, she doesn’t have a lot of toys beyond a wooden spoon and a few stuffed animals.

    One day, I went to visit my cousin and a friend for a mommy play date. Oh. Right. We brought the babies too… Once at my cousin’s house, she had this baby fun house contraption that put my hanging dental floss in front of her face to shame.

    Imagine a mat that Bozo the Clown had diarrhead over, cascading it with color and texture. Then, there were these styrofoam poles which extended across the mat, flowered with different hanging toys that would make an apple sigh from feelings of inadequacy. The crescendo of this organized chaos was every time the baby would kick one of these poles, or pull one of these toys, music would play! In all my “earth mother” snobbery I had to admit that this Target toy was infused with so much potential excitement I almost shit my pants.

    So I positioned The Munch to play in this fantasy funhouse and needless to say she had the best damn time. It was like Pee Wee’s Playhouse on crack there was so much going on, and she was loving every minute of it. In all my effort to rationalize why she should be as equally entertained by the movement of clouds, her glee was undeniable.

    What do I do about this conundrum? I want her to be happy and have joy in her in life, but at the same time I want her to find stimulus in the beauty of nature. Maybe it is not an all or nothing thing? Maybe if I am too extreme, I will drive her to be a materialistic maniac! So what did I do? On my way home, I went into Target, and got her a similar toy. And then when I got home, I made her a mobile with my own hands from things I found outside… I made little shapes from twigs like a moon, a sun, and a star that I realized later could easily poke her eyes out, but looked cute. The point is that she had both toys to choose from… and you know what? After a week she was bored with both of them. Go figure.

    February 22, 2011 • 5-8 months, baby brain, Environmental Impact, Parenting • Views: 1502

  • I Can’t Just Look at You All Day

    There are days where she refused to be satisfied unless I am looking at her. If I divert my attention for one moment to do something important like look at Facebook, her grunts of discontent grate my soul until I succumb, and look at her again. It is not like she is even doing anything either. She isn’t about to do a head spin, or advanced mathematics. She is just lying there. The best she has to offer me are some flailing arms and an expression of excitement so charming I am convinced she inherited it from me.

    But then what? Okay… I look at you. It makes you happy, but I can’t just stare at you all day.

    “Why not? You used to stare at me all day when we first met? Why not now?” (She is a very advanced infant and already speaks in complete sentences. Albeit telepathically).

    And she is right! Spending my day gazing at her was enough for me. What has changed?

    For one, she is awake a hell of a lot more hours then she used to be. So there was an actual time factor to consider.

    For two, I am getting used to her. It is kind of like falling in love. You know how when you first fall in love, you do things like watch them sleep… or text message passionate messages you labor over with the intentionality of a calligraphist. But as they become a part of your life, an expected pattern, those little tokens turn into jumping the turnstile. You don’t put in the same effort, because you don’t think they are going anywhere. It doesn’t mean you love them any less, you are just less consumed as the novelty that kept you in rapture transforms into the security of a blanket.

    So what do I do about this? As much as I want to observe her every moment as I watch her grown and develop like film in solution, I also sometimes want to do other things?

    The way I am trying to deal with this is to make sure I give her specific time where I am 100% present. If she wants me to look at her. Okay. If she wants me to help her stand, done. If she wants to bounce her legs and blow bubbles with her spit. I applaud her. If I give her time when she is asking for it, I find she is more likely to give me time when I ask for it.

    And you want to know what? Half the time she is self-entertaining I just watch how cute she is.

    February 6, 2011 • 5-8 months, baby brain, Mommy Mind, Parenting • Views: 1176

  • Hair Pulling and Backwards Logic

    I have long hair. I get the temptation that might ignite to pull it. It is understandable. Can I really blame my baby for pulling the shit out of my hair every time it dangles in front of her face? No. It is kind of like wearing fuck-me pumps, a mini skirt, and a halter-top when walking by a construction site. Is it right that the guys whistle and make outrageous comments? No. Are you asking for it? In theory absolutely not! You should be able to dress however you want and not be harassed. But in practicality, it is to be expected?

    So the feminist in me. The freedom fighter in me. The wanna be revolutionary in me says “I should be able to have long hair if I want! Why should I be oppressed by my baby’s tiny grip? I can’t allow her fist of fury to subjugate my personal liberty to maintain my personal preference of hair length!”

    But this is the problem; you would think a baby isn’t a physical threat to a grown adult right? I mean it is a baby! A pint sized human that can’t always figure out the difference between her mouth and her cheek. I should be able to conquer this measly adversary. I am the one who knows how to swallow my own drool after all.

    But yet, she prevails. Her little fingers of fury will outsmart me every time. Why don’t I just put my hair up you may ask? Well… I do. And do you know what this clandestine creature does? She wraps her coral colored arm around my neck, almost in a tender way, so I let my guard down, and then she grabs the most sensitive hairs right at the nape, and pulls with the vigor of Viagra.

    Braids? Forget about it. Like two ropes for her to trapeze on. I have not found one hairstyle that will keep me safe from the torturous methods she must have learnt form the Chinese.

    So one day, as she pulled my hair, I yelled “Ow! My hair!” Not that loud mind you… and it wasn’t even that passionate. It was just the first time I had ever yelled. And do you know how she reacted? Her little mouth transformed into the prefect upside town crescent moon, tears coated her sea colored eyes, and she cried a volcanic eruption of tears.

    “Oh Dear!” I had to laugh and hug her. Within minutes she had calmed down, tugging away on the locks I lovingly sacrificed. Even though she was the one that hurt me, it hurt her more to know I was upset! So if the next time you see me I have a shaved head… just tell me it was a good move to bring back the Sinead O’Conner back.

    February 4, 2011 • 5-8 months, baby brain, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Parenting • Views: 1122

  • Farts: A Humanitarian Cause

    My baby laughs at her farts. She knows that farts are funny. Not all farts mind you. My farts happen to startle her. But her farts, she finds hilarious. She doesn’t even need an audience to witness her accomplishment. In the morning when she thinks I am still sleeping she will let one rip and giggle to herself.

    What is it about our own farts that are so funny? Is it simply the sensation of air coming out of our assholes? Is it the noise? Is it the possibility that we may shit our pants? Living on the edge of unknown disaster? But she shits her pants all the time and doesn’t give a care. No. There is something deeper. Something more profound.

    Maybe it is that farts remind us of the absurdity of life. That we are imperfect beings no matter how we try to mask that fact with manners and social conventions. That farting is a part of what makes us human, what makes us vulnerable, even though we have conquered the planet with our nuclear technology. Maybe dropping a bomb in our pants while smirking to ourselves is the one thing that all humans have in common? Farting unites us in the simple fact that we are all organic beings who go through life making funny noises and smells, and all are one day going to die. Our mortality hidden in each SBD we try to blame on the dog.

    So what if we got all the men (and I guess women) together who are at war. The people of Egypt, the Middle East, The USA, Israel, Palestine, Africa… everyone who is killing or terrorizing each other. Lets get them all in a room and say this.

    Me: Hey, do you find your farts funny?

    The Warring People: Why yes. Yes. That is quite true. I do happen to find my farts quite amusing.

    Me: You know what? So does the guy next to you. So do all the people you are killing. They think their farts are funny too. Don’t you realize what this means? Can’t you see the people you are trying to destroy are just human beings who also enjoy their own stench? Doesn’t it make sense that we all embrace this ultimate similarity and work together to make sure the world is safe for our children to find joy in their own flatulence? (I would use that world because hey, this is a world meeting after all and I have to look smart).

    I mean, if my baby gets the joke why can’t the leaders of the world?

    (The Munch saying “Pull my finger!”)

    February 3, 2011 • 5-8 months, baby body, baby brain, Mommy Mind, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 1220

  • The Grunt

    When Munchee first started making noises, I thought everything that came out of her mouth was as precious as water. I was so enamored with her little cooing and gurgling that I would have put it in my ipod to listen to it in the shower. Couldn’t get enough of each and every noise. Until one day, a new noise was born.

    The Grunt

    This was a noise so deep, so guttural, so intense, it seemed as if it was spawned in the depths of the earth’s volcanic crust. It had this intensity that irritated my inner ear like scratching a chalkboard and made my teeth itch. It ignited this feeling of urgency to do whatever possible to make that noise stop.

    But The Grunt wasn’t unhappy noise. There was nothing wrong with her. It was more of an alert. A way of saying “Hey, mom, what you are doing is lame. Pay attention to me. No, I am not hungry. I am not tired. Just look at me. Yes… that’s right. Look at me.” There was nothing intentionally malicious about it, but it made me want to look her in the eye and say “seriously dude, shut the fuck up.”

    Then I had this realization that changed my whole perspective on The Grunt. I much preferred it to her crying. When she cries, it seriously breaks my heart. If someone else said this to me before having a baby, I would have a quick fantasy of punching them in the face. Babies cry. But when my Munchee cries, it pains my soul. Even if there is nothing really wrong when she is crying besides wanting to get out of her car seat, it still haunts me.

    So suddenly, I was just really happy that she was communicating that she wanted my attention, but didn’t feel the need to cry about it. I could then see The Grunt as just an assertive request, and that made me respect it. I hate crying. I feel so disempowered when I cry. It releases stress hormones, your face gets all puffy… it is hard not to feel victimized after crying.

    Since I am raising a little girl, I want her as a woman to be forthright with what she wants. I want her to say what is on her mind. I want her to be emotionally secure enough to be self-confident. To use her voice. When she is older I will maybe explain she could be more strategic then caveman grunts, but in the meantime get your grunt on girl!

    (tell me you wouldn’t prefer a grunt to this sad as hell face!)

    January 31, 2011 • 4th month, baby brain, Mommy Mind • Views: 1519

  • Babies Live For The Moment

    As adults, we are often plagued by the idea of time. The past torments us with all the things we could have done differently, and the future terrifies us with all the things that could go wrong. I feel like all my talents of imagining I was a mermaid as a child, has been transformed into imagining all the things in my past/future that did/could give me anxiety.

    Your rational mind knows there is nothing you can do to change the past, and the future is undetermined so why fret? But how many fights have you gotten into with someone because of something they did months ago holding onto resentment like a lollipop? Or how many times do you find yourself freaking out about something that hasn’t even happened?

    I guess our emotional selves are really attached to this idea of past and future because our lives are so dictated by the collective time we all try to keep. Our concern with time is what keeps people organized, which benefits society as a whole. It would be kind of hard to get anything accomplished if everyone had the attitude “I will get there when the moment moves me to come.” Although an amazing way to live if we all lived in a commune, not so good for Day Traders.

    So I get it. I get why we have time as a way of keeping order for humanity, but as an individual human the concept of time can be quite daunting. I feel like it has an effect on our psyches. That is why vacations are so lovely. Not only because you are not working… but because it is a time in life when it doesn’t matter what time it is.

    But babies don’t give a care what time it is! Like our pets who we envy for their simple lives, they have no concept of time. All they have is the now… the present moment. Babies are like miniature Buddhas. Maybe that is why they think peekaboo is so damn funny? Because really… where the hell did you just go… and where the fuck did you just come from?

    Doesn’t She
    a) Look super blissed out and Buddha like?
    B) Look super hilarious that her arms hardly reach over her head?! Imagine if your arms were still that short!

    January 28, 2011 • 4th month, baby brain, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 1826

  • The Little Accomplishments

    Last night The Munch had a hard time falling asleep. She was fighting it. Writhing around, whining, tossing her head back and forth. I knew she was tired. I knew it because I wanted it to be so… but also, it was nighttime. She is a baby. She needs to go to bed.

    Part of me just wanted to put her down and let her fight herself. I was hungry. I was sick of her trashing around on my boob. I just wanted a moment to myself. But there was this other part of me that just decided to wait it out with her. So I repositioned her… pat her back… she let out a burp that would put a frat boy to shame and a fart so powerful it ricocheted against my hand. She almost head butted me in the nose twice. She drooled on my face trying to gum it. Farted. Another writhe… a cry in my ear… nestled her little face into my neck… coughed… looked at me… sneezed in my eye… and then rested her head on my shoulder. I sat for a moment prepared for another assault, but then I heard it. The deep, erratic, struggled breathing of a sleeping baby.

    I felt such relief. I sat and rocked her to make sure she was totally coated in sleepy dreamingness. I put her in my bed, and made my way to eat feeling an intense sense of accomplishment. Now, did I really accomplish anything in the grand scheme of things? Did I find a new particle to further demystify quantum physics? Did I come up with a solution to use mushrooms as a means to clean environmental catastrophes? Not exactly. But I still felt like I did something meaningful. Why?

    Nobody cares that I got my baby to sleep. She is not going to “remember” that night I made sure blissfully rested in my arms. So why do I do it?

    I guess because feel like I am building her personality right now. Of course there is the nature / nurture debate about what makes you you, but I am working on the nurture part. Even though these moments we are having are technically only imprinting into my conscious memories, they are what are helping to form her unconscious self. Her way of relating to the world, to other people, to herself is being influenced by the way I treat her everyday.

    Maybe the greatest thing I can do for her is to make sure she feels totally loved by me. Because a person that feels loved is best able to give love back.

    January 26, 2011 • 4th month, baby brain, Parenting, Sleeping • Views: 1615

  • Baby Talk

    This is my theory on newborn babies so far. They have 5 basic needs. I am tired, I am hungry, I have gas, I have shit in my pants, I want a cuddle. I feel like my baby has signals for each of these, and so far, as long as read them right, I have yet to experience a total emotional meltdown. (Like I have said before, all babies are different, but maybe these cues I have noticed will be helpful to you!)

    1) Tired: I find the indication of being tired, beyond the classic rubbing eyes or yawning, is a whiny sounding cry. (If I mistake tired for hungry, and try to feed her, I find she is just really chaotic and messy at my boob. Like she bobs her head around a lot, and just can’t seem to get it together to eat. I then just put her over my shoulder and rock/jiggle her so she is not distracted by the boob and can just go to sleep)
    2) Hungry: I find there is a warning sign before she gets really pissed. It is like a short, direct, “meh” noise. She will repeat it over and over, and with gusto. this cry to be super intense. Very passionate sounding. Like it is coming from the pit of her soul. Like there is nothing patient about it. But like a wild beast fighting for its life. It is almost emotionally jarring for me and I feel panicked trying to whip my boob out fast enough. (Also look for lip smacking, or mouth movement as an early warning sign for hunger).
    3) I have shit in my pants: A little bit like the hungry in its intensity, but more angry. There is an annoyed sound like “get it together mom and get this shit out of my pants before it seeps into my vagina.” I can often mistake the shit in my pants cry for hungry, so before I feed her, I always to a quick check of the diaper.
    4) I have gas: This cry is also a whiny sound… but there is something about it that says “I am uncomfortable.” It is usually accompanied by some sort of body thrashing. Like she is trying to work something out. It could be a burp, which is great because you can help them with that, but it could also be a fart… or an upcoming shit. Not much you can do, besides rub their bellies clockwise, or pump their legs into their abdomen to help get farts out. Sometimes a little verbal encouragement will help too!
    5) I need a cuddle: Usually the cuddle leads to sleeping, so it also has that whiny sound, but it is more endearing. I don’t know how to describe it better than that, but there is something in the tone that is like, I am tired, but I want to be hugged by you too.

    January 14, 2011 • 2nd Month, baby brain, Parenting • Views: 1216

  • Kicky Kicky Punch Time

    As my baby is starting to be awake more, I have to start thinking about what to do with her. When she was just sleeping all the time, it was pretty easy to entertain her, and now that she is awake, I am starting to wonder what she wants to do with her time.

    She isn’t really that coordinated yet, so I don’t think giving her toys makes a lot of sense. For one, she can’t hold them. For two, she can’t hold them. I just dangle it in front of her face. But is doesn’t matter what I hang over her head, it all excites her just the same. A mobile, a carrot stem, a piece of trash. Same reaction of total glee.

    I find the thing that she likes to do most with her day is kicky-kicky punch time. She just kicks her little legs, and punches her stomach. I sometimes wonder if she is going to have issues with her sleep, but she seriously seems like she is having the best time, so I am just going to have to trust she is okay.

    What kicky-kicky punch time has taught me is that when babies are super young, their bodies are like a wonderland (thanks John Mayer). Seriously. You don’t need to distract them with toys or mobiles or any of that stuff yet, because their hands and feet are excitement enough. I swear on everything holy she spent an hour the other day tripping out over her hands like she was at a Grateful Dead show.

    I think it is worth it to let your baby enjoy this time of being stimulated just by being alive and in their body. Unless my baby is upset, or making seriously frustrated sounds, I try and just let her do her thing. That way, they can stay entertained longer with minimal interference from you, and you have more time to do things for yourself. I think the more you feel pressure to entertain your baby, the more your baby will demand it. So far, what I have experienced is the best way to interact with her is make faces. After I make a couple of faces showing different emotions, she is so pumped she goes back to kicky-kicky punch time and staring at the ceiling.

    January 13, 2011 • 2nd Month, baby body, baby brain • Views: 1103