Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Open letter to a toddler

Dear Bug:

In just one short week, our lives will be changing more dramatically than they have since you were born. You will be going to preschool from 9AM-3PM for 4 days a week, and I will be working. Your daddy will be your primary caregiver during the week. I will join the world of beleagured working parents, who see their children for an hour or two in the morning and at night and then try to soak them up like sun on the weekend.

I am not at all sure how I feel about this yet. I am resigning my Stay-at-Home mom commission and turning in the badge I have worn so proudly. It has been amazing, and it has rivalled the Peace Corps in being the toughest job I'll ever love. And yet, I am giving it up. A huge part of me feels this act will generate a huge black mark on my motherhood resume, because I certainly could choose not to go back to work. My salary will help us to not worry about money all the time, but I still won’t be the primary wage-earner in this family. Money is not the reason I’m taking this job, but being paid for what I do in currency that isn’t poopy diapers or even mid-morning snuggles might be one of the big reasons. Does that make sense?

When I went to my interview yesterday and the people there talked about all the things I could do, how many hibernating parts of my intellect they could wake up and use in this job, how much good we could do, it was like getting a hit of something. We talked about education and energy and children’s learning and marketing strategies, and I felt like I was contributing more than just nods or distracted ‘uh-huhs.’ I felt charged, like I met a part of myself I hadn’t seen in a long time and was caught off-guard enough to be impressed. I knew then that I would probably take the job.

Of course, part of me feels like I shouldn’t be allowed to be a mother if even a tiny part of my taking this job is so that I don’t have to hear about your bicycle, the lawnmower, the mysterious activities of the cats, and playing peekaboo over and over and over for most of my waking hours, but it is. It’s not that I don’t love a good stroll with the bike or a rousing round of peekaboo—it’s just that when that’s all I do, I feel like less of a Person, like the Mother side of me is all there is. When you are screaming because we won’t take a 5th walk around the block on your bike, I sometimes wish I were somewhere else. And I don’t ever, ever, want to wish I were somewhere else. I want to love being with you, even if you’re crabby, even if I’m crabby. I want to be able to share my life with you without burdening you with feeling that you are my life.

I feel very selfish, since my desire for taking this job means, to me anyway, that my desire to be a full Person has superceded my desire to be a Mother. I am sure this is ridiculous and that my friend E would likely tell me that you deserve to have a full Person be your mom, too, but I’m not as wise as she is yet. She is also the person who pointed out to me that no decision is irreconcilable and that if I decide this isn’t working, I can stop. Do you see why I made you play with her son Jack for so many hours when we lived in Pennsylvania?

As I watched you meet your new teacher at the school Open House last night, I wondered where we would all be in 2 months or 6 months or a year. Maybe you’ll be screaming for Miss Jenny and your classmates as soon as you wake up in the morning, or maybe you’ll be here with a nanny, or maybe you’ll be here with me. Maybe I’ll be less anxious about money, or maybe I’ll be sitting on more debt, willing the dissertation to hurry up and get itself done already. Maybe daddy will like being the Answer Man around the house. I don’t know. Just know that whatever happens is because I always want what’s best for you and that I don’t always think that what’s best for you is all mommy, all the time.

I love you, love you, more than my heart can say,



Friday, August 25, 2006

The power of a Juniper

And I am not just talking about the 1000% (actual statistic) increase in hits to this blog the day it was mentioned at that far more famous blog. I mean, the power to so completely charm every member of the Matic household in a mere 18 hours that every time D sees the lovely red hat Juniper left, he smiles and says “baby! Baby!” The power to make me grateful that the internet exists in part so that people who should have been friends but never lived close enough to co-exist can find each other and strike up a friendship.

Now, there were some slightly awkward things about having them here, I will not lie. First, making sure I called them by their Real Names and not Wood and Dutch and Juniper all the time actually took some effort, not unlike trying to remember not to call Gillian Anderson “Scully” when discussing the movie House of Mirth. Also, Wood is pretty smokin’ hot, and the fact that Daddymatic refrained from ogling her while we talked their poor heads off over after-dinner coffee is further evidence that he is the picture of restraint. Similarly, when we went to the fabulous Liberty Park and Dutch offhandedly mentioned that “you totally don’t look any older than any of these other moms,” I was hard pressed not to just kiss him on the mouth then and there. And Juniper? It was the oddest thing to see my flesh-and-blood little rugrat hanging out with the internet icon Herself, especially when she was even more adorable than she is on the blog. I felt personally that she should come with some kind of warning about that, but I kept that opinion to myself.

I guess the overwhelming feeling I had as they drove off to hang with El Dooce (as Dutch calls her) was how important it is to have interesting, funny, clever people in one’s life, especially while raising children. Sweet Juniper was the first blog I read that was written by someone I didn’t know personally, and I remember that my reward for actually doing work as I sat in my office was to see if there were any new posts there. When Bee-bee started reading it, too, she summed up my feelings about it—and parenting—pretty well when she said, “It’s the way I wished I could have been when I was a young parent.” When Wood and I started emailing about sleep troubles, I felt simultaneously like I was thrilled to have such a cool friend but also a little freaked out to have a friend who, should I see her in the flesh, I couldn’t pick out of a crowd of one. When they accepted my offer to host them on their Great All-America Extravaganza, I was nervous—these were blogebrities! What if they derided my shopping choices and personal housekeeping decisions in front of The Internet?!

But of course that didn’t happen. They were just really nice folks that I happened to have a 14-month long almost-daily dossier on. And from now on, I’m going to stop referring to them as “these bloggers I know” and call them what they are: my friends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still. catching. up.

In case you are sick to death about hearing me drone on about how great Salt Lake City is, here is the horrible thing about SLC I mentioned in my last post: My stylist doesn't live here. I know this is probably petty to those of you who are not hair-challenged and that everyone has to have a bloggy moment about hating their new haircut, but that's the way it is, and I will try to make mine brief: First, I got my hair cut by a person who didn't look like she was a total masochist--she was actually very nice--and it was horrendous. It's probably my fault for expecting her to interpret "I don't mind how much you need to take off" as what it really meant, which was "Please make it 3 inches longer and naturally straight and fine," so I accept full responsibility. But it was way, way bad. As in, I first left thinking, "Well, this is a little more Markie Post than I wanted to go" to "Markie Post? I wish. It's more like Marky Mark, but with less Funky Bunch." UGH. But my sister's miracle worker stylist triaged it for the wedding and I now feel I can at least go out in public without people going, "Dude, does that person with the manly-man hair-helmet have boobs?"

Okay, and as of today, I can now add another horrible thing about da SLC: the Junipers are no longer in it. But more about their visit and the absolutely insufferable cuteness that was allowed to proliferate between the Matic and Juniper offspring will have to wait for next time, because I have all this stuff I need to say about my sister's wedding and Traveling Alone.

My sister's been married before, you see. The only word I can use to describe her ex without getting sued is probably "unsavory." We [and I do mean "we"--the entire extended Matic family] were pretty darn happy when they split. Suddenly, she was herself again, and I realized how far apart we'd grown in the three years she'd been married and had placed herself in what amounted to a self-imposed exile from our family. We got together in New York City one weekend shortly after her divorce was final, and she became the first family member (outside of the two involved directly in the process) to find out D was going to become part of our family. I worried she might be hurt or pissed, anticipating even more pressure from my parents about her family situation, but my sister's not as selfish as me: she was thrilled. When we parted, she kissed her hand and pressed it gently to my still-flat belly, and I cried.

So when we heard about The New Guy about 2 years ago, we were skeptical. He's been married before, too. He has a child who's now six. So we ran him through the wringer the first weekend he met all of us: we teased, asked tough questions about his past, pressed him about his Intentions and were probably so inappropriately protective that had he not been so smitten with my sister, he might have had the presence of mind to be pissed about it. But he couldn't see anything but her, and so he survived. They moved in together last year and apparently he finds a great deal of charm in people who can be perky at 5AM and who keep giant, breathy boxer dogs that think they are throw pillows. So when I was asked to be Matron D'Honour at their wedding, I accepted. Once it was discovered that the wedding fell the weekend before Daddymatic's new job started, it was decided I would go Alone. As in, without my husband or my baby.

Unlike Rebecca, my nerves kicked in beforehand. I felt D had had so much going on this month that to add this to it wouldn't be fair. I mean, the twin pillars of his world had just left two days previously, and Daddymatic's work schedule would mean he'd need to have *gasp* a SITTER for several hours the first day I was gone.

But like Rebecca, I was also fine, and so was my kid. His babysitter Leah brought her daughter, who's two, and they taught him to high-five. Again. He's apparently pretty smitten with "Leeee-yah," and I tried to explain to Wood what a compliment it was that he kept calling her that. Daddymatic took him to parties, on hikes and to fun little markets as they explored the city together.

And I got to be with my sister, my beautiful, strong, smart, baby sister, and focus on her and her Big Day for a whole weekend. Her beloved and I stayed up late the first night arguing about sports and talking about war (he was in Desert Storm) and I got to crack jokes at the Bridesmaid's Brunch and the Rehearsal Dinner, when I read some funny haiku Daddymatic penned for the occasion. The wedding was gorgeous, and the reception was enough fun to probably not be totally legal. But what was most important was that I got to Be There for her in a way I never have before: no adorable but demanding toddler, no winsome but (wink, wink) distracting husband, no other demands on my time but hers. Now of course I felt totally awkward for turning their wedding night into a fun but completely uncomfortable pajama party while, at their insistence, we got takeout sushi and watched Wedding Crashers in our ratty post-partywear, so I finally took matters into my own hands and fairly pushed them towards their nuptial bed and retreated to my room across the house.

And the travel? People kept saying "Oh, twelve hours in an out of airports! Poor you." "A 4-hour layover? In Newark? That stinks." And I just smiled, knowing that I'd see my baby soon, but also that I could enjoy twelve hours of mystery-novel-readin', boutique-browsin', crossword-doin', coffee-sippin' relaxation before that happened.

But I'm back, and I'm happy. I missed my man and my boy and even my 6AM-noisy cats, and where they are feels like home.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The week(s) in review

Okay, it totally sucks that I have had so little time to blog that I basically have to break each entry down into bulleted lists with important highlights instead of giving each event the attention it deserves, so bear with me--the next few posts will be playing major catch-up.

A few items from last post: the job I was offered was at a used bookstore. It was awesome in every way but the money way. As in, between preschool and wages, I'd end up paying $100/month to work there. Not really what comes to mind when I utter the words "gainfully employed," is it? But I have interviewed for what I could in all fairness call a Dream Job and have a few less exciting prospects in the pipeline, too, so we'll see if I'm going to be Working Mom Barbie this year or not. I'm not sure what she'll do to Dissertation-Finishing Barbie, but we'll burn that bridge when we get there. Dissertation-Finishing Barbie has turned out to be something of a deadbeat anyway, so it's anyone's guess.

What I haven't figured out yet is why I want to work (other than to help alleviate some of money hemmoraging we've been doing over the last couple of months) and/or why I feel guity for wanting to work. But that's something I will have to bat around in another post.

What I really want to post about is my parents' visit here. We truly had a wonderful time, and not because we got what can only be called slave labor from Grampy while he was here. For the low, low price of the occasional Bismarck (a chocolate covered donut with eclair creme inside), we completed a number of important home improvement projects so that when the hordes of guests we will be getting arrive, they don't have to feel like they are living in a work-in-progress.

We also exploited Bee-bee's prowess with bicycle-pushing and toddler-entertaining to grab a few showers without an audience, drink coffee without having to share half my breakfast with someone who already ate two eggs, a waffle, yogurt, sausage and a banana, and go out on a date.

We also did some fun stuff as an extended family. Here we are at the Great Salt Lake, which, as it turns out is not so much Great as it is shrinking and stinking, and sad. But since Stank Lake City doesn't have quite the ring to it that Salt Lake City does, its poignancy and pungency will have to remain a mystery for everyone but you, dear reader(s?).

What's cuter than a little boy with orange crocs? Maybe a Grampy with big-boy crocs? Maybe a little boy putting big crocs on over his wee crocs? It's like a moibus strip of cuteness.

Hey, brine shrimp. And wow, the edges of the waves turn black and fly up into the air. It would be cool if they didn't look suspiciously like thousands of tiny little bugs. Mommy, why are you making the throw-up face?
Salt crystals. Whoa. What's a lotta fries' worth right there.
I don't know why people seem to know immediately that Grampy belongs to me. Hm.
This is the somewhat sad Saltair Resort. It used to be quite the hangout--the Starbucks of Pioneer Mormon days, if you will, only, like, glamorous and stuff. Old pictures of the Saltair show that the Salt Lake came in under the resort, which was on pilings so that swimmers could float in the water without having their skin seared off by the high desert sun. Now the lake's a good thousand feet out from the building, and the abandonded rail cars parked next to it only add to the wistful feel of the place. I so want to bring Juniper's dad Dutch here when he visits!
Mommy, come ON. Bee-bee and Grampy are going to get all the good horrifcally smelly dead seagulls before we do!!

And then there were the trips to Liberty Park, which is so cool it shouldn't even be allowed, let alone FREE:

Wow, two things I love: Splashing in my crocs, and then getting to repeat the words "watew" [water] and "shooooooes" four hundred times.
Hey dudes, what's up? Wait up, and I'll just give Bee-bee the slip and climb on into the wading canyons with you to see what all the hype is about.
Niiiiiice birdie. Mama, don't look it in the eye, and no pictures. I SAID NO PICTURES.
This picture's cuteness might seem only skin-deep, but it's actually even cuter than that--I'm trying to feed the flowers my goldfish crackers. I know, right? In case you're wondering, it does hurt to be this cute, but I suffer it for you. I'm all about my fans, people, all. about. my. fans.

Next time: further intra-Mommymatic debates on going back to being paid for what one does in something other than sticky smiles and laundry, At Least One Rotten Thing About SLC, and mommymatic's 4-day journey away Alone, in which I play Matron D'Honour to my adorable sister and pinchable-cheeked brother-in-law, the infamous marital unit known as Kimnjim.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Some good things

1. This picture. There are so many things I love about it: the lunchbox behind him and the belly suggests he's just had lunch, the vacant expression that says he knows he should go back to work but can't find the energy, and of course, our new constant companions, the slightly too-big orange crocs (thanks for the tip, Foo).

2. We have a sofa! And a big bed! And did I mention the orange crocs? Juniper will surely have competition for her shoe fetish.

3. Mochas at Sugarhouse Coffee.

4. We live within walking distance of a fine German bakery called Schmidt's. Bismarck, anyone?

5. I may have a job.

6. Did I mention Bee-bee and Grampy are coming Monday? And did I mention the new orange crocs? (I'm trying the toddler it's-cute-to-repeat-everything-in-a-tone-of-wonder scheme to see if it's any more workable this way. Didn't think so.)

This kind of evens out the fact that SOMEONE is getting up earlier and earlier every morning and that the car had to be fixed AGAIN and that my internet connection is totally screwy, yes? Kind of makes me want to stop whining about everything, actually.

But how are YOU?