Before I had a baby, I had an impossible time getting up in the morning. We talk a lot these days about the advantages of remote work, but frankly, I have a lot of thoughts about how remote work exacerbates many people’s unhealthy behaviors to a very destructive extent, but this is sacrilege to talk about in my line of work, so I try to keep that under my hat. Mostly, I find that many of the people I work with are lonely to an almost incapacitating extent, they do not have social support networks in their lives and look to get everything through The Company, although I think that is also true for many people these days regardless of their work. But remote work really enables self-isolating, and I think it’s actually pretty terrible for people who have depression (myself included). That said, I would still rather descend into utter madness than ever have a commute and have to wear business casual and sit in a cubicle again. I think the real issue here is that we all need to reinvest in intentionally building communities outside of our workplaces, non-faith-based communities that provide mutual aid and support the way that churches used to.

This wasn’t what I was going to write about at all, how did I get onto this? What was I talking about?

Oh, right, so anyway working from home meant that I could fully succumb to the snooze button and it really became an issue. I spent hours at it, and nothing I did could combat it. Not moving the alarm to another room. Not setting up multiple alarms in a sort of obstacle course. Nothing. There was nothing so complex and time-consuming that I would not do it, and then get back in bed “for just a sec.” I was able to go ahead and get up if I had an actual appointment, so it’s not as if I really couldn’t, but there was no way I could fake that constraint for myself if it didn’t actually exist.

I thought having a baby fixed this, because while you can actually snooze a baby to an extent, mostly, they roust you out of bed pretty definitively.

But over the past couple of months, I have not only gotten back on my bullshit, but I’ve taken Edith with me. It started when Edith decided (perversely, randomly) that her new wake-up time was 4:30 (after we had agreed on 5:15 and had stuck to it for months). I could not accommodate this, so when Edith woke up, I stumbled through the dark to her pack-and-play, fished around on the floor with my toes to find the pacifier she had pitched out in a rage, and then hauled her back into my bed.

Weirdly, she permits this and now we often spend over two hours “getting up.” It looks like this: when Edith first joins me in the bed, we cuddle for awhile. Then, she begins to kick and flail, and I sort of clutch her to me and jiggle her madly for a bit. Sometimes she goes to sleep! More often, she doesn’t, and then I spend a long time alternately cat-napping and warding off blows. This is not restful but it’s better than getting up. I will at times turn my back on her and she’ll occupy herself somehow. When she’s starting to hit her limit, I hand her my phone (I’m not proud of this) and she fills up the camera roll with photos and videos of the pitch black while I genuinely sleep. Usually she does go back to sleep at some point for anywhere from 10 minutes to 40; it’s hard to say. I definitely get back into dreaming sleep, but I don’t know how long that lasts.

If she starts yelling at me, I put her on the floor and turn on the light, and then she runs around in the bedroom pulling things off shelves and out of drawers while I doze with an arm over my eyes.

Eventually, I get up. It’s really surprising that she permits this at all, much less for so long, and every morning! I’m really thankful for it, but I also think that it’s a testament to what a hold this habit has on me that I have somehow managed to get Edith (Edith! Of all people!) to tolerate it.

Still, sleeping in for hours now means that I get up at 7:00 am, which previously was my goal wake-up time. So in that respect, this problem has been solved.

Body Shit

(CW: eating disorders and body image discussion. Also an acknowledgement that everything I’m discussing here is from a position of extreme privilege compared to what many women have to deal with along these lines, etc. I know how lucky I am comparatively. These are small potatoes problems.)

I never wanted to deal with my fucked up relationship to my body and my weight and my disordered eating habits; I thought I could just continue to tolerate it and live with it until I died, and I would have, but then I had a daughter and I realized I had to fix myself so she didn’t model all of it, so for the past year I have been doing a lot of really hard and boring mental work. It is every bit as hard and boring and unrewarding as I always thought it would be, but it is also more complicated than expected, so although this is different and more personal than the sort of stuff I usually write, I want to share what I’ve learned so far.

My history is so standard, it’s not really worth going into. It’s the same story as most every white woman from the South: I was a pudgy teenager and then a moderately thin young adult and I wanted to be a very skinny woman (and truly thought that being one would fix all of my problems), so I starved myself for nearly two decades and along with that, I secretly binge ate, and I wrecked my metabolism and my hunger cues, and then I stopped starving and went into an absolutely manic extended binge for about five years, capped off with a global pandemic, deep isolation, fertility struggles and hormone injections, and pregnancy, throughout all of which I emotionally ate like it was going out of style, and now I am newly fat and also have a perfect little girl and am trying to fix my mental problems so that I do not hand all this down to her.

As soon as I had Edith, I got a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, and started to work on all this. As always with therapy, I saw the therapist for a couple months, and then got the gist and broke up with the therapist (although she was really great) because I really know what I need to do and I don’t need to talk about it, and now I am just doing it:

  • Accept myself at the weight I’m at now and any weight I happen to be at in the future, and give up on the idea that my weight is a reflection of my worth in any way, and/or something that I will actively manipulate.
  • Divorce my ideas about food from thoughts of good/bad, reward/punishment and let myself eat whenever I am hungry without telling myself stories about how I won’t eat tomorrow or whatever.
  • If I do binge, don’t beat myself up over it or promise myself I never will again, or try to starve for two days to make up for it, etc.
  • When I feel driven to eat compulsively, try to examine where that’s coming from and address the deeper need I’m having even if that’s hard or gross.
  • Really try to accept that other people’s opinions or thoughts about my weight are not things that I can control or do anything about, and don’t let my fears of other people’s perceptions of my body derail me.
  • Don’t put off doing things or seeing people with the vague idea that I will do those things or see those people when I “have my body back.” This is my only body.
  • Realize that Edith will see and model even those things that I think I am hiding perfectly. Everything I do to myself and my body and everything I say about myself and my body, she will internalize and imitate. It is not possible to hide your internalized misogyny and self-hatred from your kid.

All of this is so hard and so, so boring that it makes me want to puke. But I can’t because I don’t do that anymore! (Little joke!)

I even finally told my doctor that I have a history of disordered eating and so do not want to be told my weight, and also will not be losing weight and so need her to help me be healthy at this size, which is something I never had the stones to do before, not so much because I was afraid of my doctor’s judgment, but because I felt that this sort of request was only appropriate for women who had had “real” eating disorders (like had been hospitalized) and was overly dramatic for my situation.

But what I really want to write about, because I didn’t expect this to be part of it and haven’t seen it discussed elsewhere, and it’s really kind of rocked me, is that doing this work has really brought home to me how much of my experience of the world and my life involves being an aesthetic object in it. I’ve never really thought of myself this way; I have of course had many girlfriends who were primarily interested in being a decorative part of whatever scene they were in, and sometimes I had fun with participating in that, but my primary self-worth has always been elsewhere and I didn’t think of myself as that invested in it. But now, I am having to re-learn how to exist in various environments and how to experience things like summer days, swimming pools, vacations, parties, winter scenes, etc. without looking the part. My habitual way of existing in the world has been more viewing myself as I am viewed than being in the world and experiencing it as something happening to me. And when I no longer am contributing to the aesthetic of an environment, I don’t know what I’m doing there, or how to enjoy it. Having a drink on a sunny patio is for me inextricably bound up with being a girl in a cute sundress. Going for a swim cannot be divorced from appearing in a swimsuit.*

And I think this is something that happens when you become a mom or just middle-aged generally; my friends and I all talk about the utter relief and weird dissonance of suddenly becoming invisible. But the big change in my body at this exact juncture is really compounding it.

There’s a sort of explicit metaphor for this with leg hair, because (as anyone who normally grows out their legs and has leg hair knows) our nerve endings are in our hair, so when you grow out your leg hair, you suddenly feel the breeze on your legs, which makes you realize that women’s ordinary experience of having summer legs is having numb legs. It’s more important to present a particular image to the environment than to actually be in and feel the environment. And with the extent to which having a child has blown my heart open in a way that it wasn’t before, I am feeling everything more these days, which is both good and bad, but mostly shocking, because I truly didn’t realize how utterly numb I was before.

Along with this is thinking about how much of my self-image relies on having models, and I don’t really have models for who I am now. Mostly when I am trying to figure out how to be present in a social environment, my models are now men. Frankly, I think about how I would exist in a space with other people if I were a middle-aged fat dad and then I do that: that helps me to really put aside the whole question of being a perceived object so that I can sort of learn how to just be a person. It also helps me stop worrying about how I compare aesthetically to other women (which is probably much easier for me to do than it would be for most women because I’m not trying to date ever again; I can’t imagine how impossible all of this would be if I were also still interested in being attractive to men). Then the question shifts from how I might look drinking a beer and/or what other people will think about me having one to just whether or not I actually want a beer and everything proceeds from that perspective.

It’s a hard shift to make and maintain, and I didn’t realize how much simply accepting my body would mean actively changing the way I view and exist in and experience the world. And of course, realizing this fills me with feminist rage and resentment, so then I have to also deal with that.

I kind of hate to admit it, but I do feel mentally healthier now that I’m working on this. I feel less conflicted about who I am and more authentically myself. I don’t feel physically healthier or happier yet, but I know that I will eventually.

Anyway, this is all probably not very well expressed, so I will share some a couple of resources that have been extremely helpful to me while I’ve been going through all this:

  • Maintenance Phase podcast. Not every episode, and it’s kind of spun out by this point, but the early episodes were extremely helpful to me. Mostly it has helped me really internalize that weight cycling is bad for me and that starving doesn’t even work.
  • The most recent issue of the excellent Pipe Wrench magazine, which is focused on medical fatphobia. Pipe Wrench is edited by my friend Michelle who is one of the most brilliant and funniest people I’ve ever met. Caroline Moore’s essay for this issue is so beautiful and absolutely broke my heart.

*I should note here that I am not intending to imply that you cannot both be a fat woman and an attractive aesthetic object. Of course you can, and young women are working on changing the general idea that you cannot be (and are doing a really good job of it). I hope that Edith’s generation will be more accepting of the genuine beauty of all different kinds of bodies, of every size, gender, race, and etc. Rather, my personal experience at the moment is that I am trying to figure out how to not feel like I have to be an aesthetic object in the world at all, because I don’t want to be one really, and I have always felt it was mandatory without really being conscious that I thought that. And my own body image and how I’ve tried to take control of it is inextricably bound up with my need to fit into an aesthetic that has been described and presented to me by a very particular social group.

Secret Vacation

I am starting day two of my secret vacation. I took the week off some time ago, and I am not going anywhere or doing anything. Instead, when our nanny gets here, I go into the guest bedroom and I lie in bed all day reading novels.

The one goal I have for the week is to assemble the exercise bike I finally bought because my foot still won’t heal and even when it does, I’m sure that I will suffer repeated injuries from jogging from here on out and so I need a backup method for exercise. I was going to assemble the bike yesterday and then start using it today. I am looking at it now, in pieces on the floor.

It’s not that hard to assemble, per the instructions. But every time I look at it, with the plastic sleeves and the zip ties and the screws and the bolts, I just go back to my book. I am considering paying for their overpriced home assembly service just to spare myself the frustration, as a vacation gift.

Meanwhile, ERCOT is warning that there might be blackouts due to the ongoing extreme heat in Texas (another reason for an indoor exercise option). I love heat, I moved here in part for the heat, but this heat is so scary that I can’t enjoy summer anymore. Every time I step out the front door, there’s a tangible reminder pressing in on all sides of my body that this planet is becoming increasingly inhospitable and that life is going to be increasingly hard for my daughter and for everyone else’s children. So now the summer just makes me feel sad and guilty and angry and helpless. Like many people, I have had this constant knot of panic in my chest for several years now, and it is just sort of always there, but sometimes I can ignore it better. I’m trying to ignore it this week, but it turns out that not having work as a distraction makes things worse rather than better.

Exercise will help, if only this stupid bike would assemble itself.

Baby Gym Mid-Week

On Wednesday, our nanny had the day off so I was off with Edith and in the afternoon, I took her to baby gym. It’s open weekdays for open play, but not on the weekends, and I’m always baffled by this with all things for babies and kids. Childcare at gyms is the same — it’s only offered nine to five during the weekday, and like, nobody needs childcare at the gym if their kid is already at daycare? Offer it nights and weekends when people are working out! And who brings their kids to classes and play places during the week? There aren’t very many families anymore with a SAH parent, so how do all these places make money?

Well, when Edith and I arrived at baby gym, I got my answer to who goes there during the work week: nannies go there. There were six nannies and an au pair there with their charges and they were having an excellent time together. They had ordered pizza for lunch and I listened to them as they all planned a lunch outing the next week for one nanny’s birthday, and then I eavesdropped on the au pair telling the youngest nanny about some guy she’s seeing who is being a fuccboi.

(Side note, and I know I am always on this beat but what the fuck is wrong with men? This girl was gorgeous [and French], and she’s talking about some scrub who keeps ghosting her for weeks on end and then calling her late on a Saturday to see if she wants to hang out that same night, and like, men, what are you even doing? Why are young women still bothering with this shit at all, the best advice I have for the younger generation is just focus on getting yourself into a good financial position to have kids on your own and hire your help. It’s the best choice I ever made.)

Later, another mom showed up with her baby and we got to talking and they were there because their nanny also had the day off. We both said, essentially in unison, “I wonder if my nanny should bring my baby, she’d probably love to, and then my baby could socialize with other kids more, which she is seeming to want to do, but I don’t know, I don’t know, I just worry so much about the driving, the traffic here, so dangerous!!!!” And then a bunch of other stuff like that, and when I have these conversations, I always have this unreal feeling of how we’re all just a bunch of animated bots in varying categories. I mean, this mom and I were identical in our concerns and opinions and our relationships to our (only, precious) daughters and I didn’t even ask her, but I know she works in tech from home, we might even work for the same company. We definitely vote the same and eat the same and shop at the same stores, and I guess if I were a less cynical person, running into someone who is almost the same as me would feel exciting, like I’d met someone I’m really in sync with, but it usually just makes me feel creepy like I’ve been manipulated into a very specific social class by market forces and any ideas I have about my own uniqueness or freedom of choice are illusory and naive.

Anyway, I would have liked to be friends with her, but once again, I failed to give her my phone number.

Flags and Shit

Edith and I had another delightful weekend. She’s becoming ever more fun to hang out with, and I love rolling around town with her.

We took another trip to Target Saturday afternoon to return some of the stuff I’d bought the previous weekend and I got to experience what it’s like to have a tantruming child in public. Not great! I had somehow failed to connect the more frequent tantrums of late with the fact that she would also at some point be doing this in front of other people. She threw her first tantrum as we approached the returns counter — Edith wanted to run off into the wilds of the store, and I wanted her to hold my hand and stand next to me until I could accompany her, and as she registered her disagreement with this plan, the young woman being helped next to us looked at us the way that I used to look at screaming toddlers.

I had one of those existential shocks that are becoming very frequent in parenting. Like, I know I’m a mom, I’m mom-ming 24/7, but I don’t always really get that my position in life has permanently and fundamentally changed and then I’ll have a stark reminder that I have fully moved into a different bracket of humanity. I was “sneering pretty girl” and now I’m “hassled and mildly apologetic mom.” This change wasn’t fast or anything — it was incremental and ultimately took several years. But at moments like this, I feel like I’m suddenly looking back at my old world over a chasm. Going from alive to dead is a major life transition, certainly, and I feel like going from “non-parent” to “parent” is as vast! There are probably other transitions that feel as transformative and irreversible, but this is the only one I’ve gone through.

Anyway, it was a brief tantrum and then I wanted to let Edith exhaust herself by running around the store as much as she wanted (again, it was too hot for her to do this outside). In some areas of the store, Edith trotted along adorably, dangling my car keys from her hand, and people cooed at her and grinned at me and we were bathed in approval. In other areas of the store, Edith would take an interest in a stranger (usually one with kids) and follow them up and down the aisles, and when I pulled her away, she would have a meltdown and everyone would glare at us, and we were scalded by disapproval. My child was the cutest kid ever born in automotive, and a horrifying brat in housewares. Two minutes and three aisles and it was the opposite. One young woman was so taken by Edith that I heard her say to the guy with her “ooooh maybe we should have kids.” (I realize this sounds made up, but I promise she really did say this.) This was in office supplies and I wanted to say, “if you’d just been over in the freezer section, your original decision would have been reinforced.”

Having a kid makes it much easier to talk to people, and I am getting to the point where I think I might have an opening to make friends in a couple of these classes we go to. There’s one couple at baby gym especially who have a little girl Edith’s age and have been making a point to talk to me every week and say hi and bye and stuff. I don’t know how to make friends and have never been good at it, but there’s a certain level of attention between parents that seems to be an opening for more than a nodding acquaintance. I don’t know how to move it to the next step, though. I know I’ve missed the window a few times — a woman with a baby in Edith’s swim class brought Edith a little present for her birthday, which definitely seemed like an opening but I didn’t do anything and then they switched class days. I met a mom my age at the park one weekend and our kids were the same age and I liked her so much that I had to collect Edith and leave abruptly (this is an old habit from my younger days of social anxiety — if I like somebody and want to be their friend, I get so anxious about messing it up that I have to leave immediately). It’s been well over a decade since I made a friend, so I’m really using some atrophied muscles here. But I have to figure it out, because I want Edith to have friends!

My neighborhood has a Facebook page and after procrastinating about it for weeks, I finally posted saying that I had a one-year-old and would love to do a playdate with anyone else in the neighborhood who had kids the same age. I got one reply…from a lady with a bunch of “vaccines cause autism” and “COVID was a government lie” stuff all over her profile (I did not respond). I’m not sure how well I’ll fit in with people in this neighborhood. For example, on Thursday night upon rolling the trash bins out to the curb, I discovered that a small American flag had been placed in my front yard. There was one in every yard and it turns out that the neighborhood social committee does this for the fourth of July.

I am not a flag person (I know, you’re shocked). I have always been deeply creeped out by mandatory loyalty displays, particularly pledges of allegiance and saluting the flag and all that. It’s just gross and weird to me, and it always has been. I felt like a robot in school whenever we did the pledge. I don’t think this happens in other countries; I know Europeans find it very strange. Also, not for nothing, but our flag is ugly. I might feel differently about it if it were rad, like Seychelles or Bhutan, or at least inoffensively neutral like Hong Kong or Finland.

Even still, in past years, it’s possible I would have let this slide just to keep the peace. But for fuck’s sake, this country just overruled my legal right to make decisions about my own goddamned body! I am now only a free person insofar as I am not pregnant; otherwise, I’m owned by the state of Texas! I can’t even look at a flag right now!! I put it in the garage, and whatever, I’m sure no one will hassle me about it, but I feel like I’m surely not the only person who feels this way? And yet, I have not spotted a single other yard without a flag. It’s possible I will have to drive into Austin for friends.

Edith and I gave the 4th of July pool party a pass — not because of the flags but because there’s no shade at the pool. Swimming was canceled, also, and so I set Edith’s paddling pool up in the backyard under the trees, and after we’d invested the 30 necessary minutes of prep time to coat ourselves in zinc oxide and struggle into all our Coolibar layers, we had a lovely afternoon splashing in it. Edith enjoyed herself immensely, and I almost did. Our next door neighbors have a pool and they love playing the radio very loud — the actual radio of top 40s hits, with ads and everything — which makes me feel like I’m attending a junior high dance or shopping at a Kohl’s in my own backyard. It sets my teeth on edge. (I realize this post is making me sound like I might be a little hard to get along with.) But other than that, it was very pleasant.

When we went in, I took Edith into my shower to hose us both off. One aspect of parenting small children that nobody talks about and so I was really unprepared for is that toddlers don’t really digest a lot of foods, and so their poop is often just that food again. Edith had had wild rice for dinner the night before, and when I removed her swim diaper, I was surprised by wild rice suddenly being all over my shower like someone had just popped a piñata full of it. And if you think it would be difficult to clean up a bunch of wild rice poop from the floor of a large walk-in shower, imagine doing so with a 15-month-old who wants very much to involve herself in the proceedings. Cleaning all this up while also cleaning Edith up (repeatedly) took a sort of sequence of showers and baths, and in the end, involved multiple tubs and sinks and a succession of towels.

This was late Sunday afternoon and it thoroughly depleted my remaining patience and energy reserves for the weekend, so I am very happy to be at a global company with an open vacation policy where the place doesn’t shut down on stat holidays and so I was able to have a normal work day yesterday and hide from my child for eight hours.

A Half-Baked Theory on ADHD

Everyone’s just been waiting for me to dispense completely unfounded medical opinions based on a hunch, right? Well, having had occasion recently to closely observe various people going about their daily routines, I have been thinking a lot about ADHD and focus. The traditional line on ADHD is that it’s an inability to focus, that it makes you easily distracted and you forget what you’re doing. But what I have more noticed is that for most daily activities, neurotypical people don’t use their brain to accomplish them; they get into their muscle memory and then their body just executes them while their mind wanders free in the clouds. But for people with ADHD (at least those I have lived with, which is quite a few), this never seems to happen — they have to focus mentally on a task no matter how many times they’ve performed it because when their mind drifts, their body simply stops performing the task and wanders off from it.

I am praised as being an especially focused person and always have been, but I actually am almost never thinking about what I’m doing. My body is just going through the day performing tasks. I even write sometimes while thinking about something else entirely. I would never have to remember where my keys are, because I don’t ever think about my keys. My hands store and retrieve them in a location automatically when I come in the door. I don’t have to focus on doing laundry while also making pasta, because my brain is not involved in that combination of activities — my brain is thinking about the recent loss of my human rights while my body carries on with whatever chores it has started.

So what if everybody is equally unfocused, and this is less about our focus and more about the extent to which our bodies function as programmable automatons, or fail to?

Driving, on the other hand, is an activity that never gets into my subconscious muscle memory, because I am terrified of driving and of being in cars, and that never goes away no matter how many times I do it. So while other people can easily drive and carry on conversations, if someone in the car is talking to me, driving becomes impossible for me. I cannot split my attention in that way, because my brain is always actively involved in the driving — the fear acts as an interruptor that blocks my body from taking the wheel (literally). But that is the exception on tasks I regularly perform; usually, my brain isn’t involved at all.

By the way, sorry if any of this is accidentally offensive in some way (I don’t think it is?), but before you cancel me, I’m allowed to say it, because I also have been diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t really think I have it, but I’m not above indignantly claiming that I do in order to make a point. Although actually maybe I do have it, because whenever I do have to fully focus my mind on something (a conversation, reading, writing something complex), I have to spend like 30-60 minutes sort of meditating myself into it by force, because otherwise my brain keeps wandering off to obsess about other things like, say, the fact that over half the US population is now not in full possession of their own bodies. And I also can’t listen to anything anyone else says unless there are subtitles or I’m also playing with a coloring app on my phone. I took adderall for awhile and it fixed all this, but when Edith was born I decided I cared about longevity and although I don’t know for sure, I just feel like taking speed every day probably doesn’t contribute to living into one’s dotage, especially when combined with all my other unhealthy lifestyle factors which I am making no serious effort to improve, so I cut it out.

And so if you’re ever talking to me and it becomes clear that I have not been paying attention to what you’re saying whatsoever but have just been nodding and smiling and interjecting politely while my brain is obsessing about something like, oh, I don’t know, a massive backslide in women’s rights that will make our overall society substantially worse by just about any metric you could think of, you can’t get mad at me about it, because I’m just trying to stay healthy for my child.

Tantrums and Target

Edith has reached the tantrum stage. It took me awhile to realize that what she was doing was throwing a tantrum, because she goes to 11 immediately, as if she had been suddenly injured and for awhile I thought that was what it was, but I figured it out in short order. Whenever something doesn’t immediately suit her now, she shrieks at the top of her lungs and then continues until her face puckers into a moist purpled fruit. She will sometimes stamp her little legs or lie on the floor as if dead. She does this whenever I am doing anything slightly different to her plan for what I should be doing, which is about 100 times per day. (It has not escaped me that she does not throw tantrums with her nanny.)

I do not want to encourage this form of communication, so I spend much of my evenings lately studiously ignoring high pitched screaming, which isn’t my favorite way to spend time together of those we’ve tried. And if the fit is instigated by my doing something I don’t care that much about, like taking something she was interested in inspecting but which I have no objection to her playing with longer, it’s hard to remember not to just immediately give it back to her the way I’d drop something very hot I’d unknowingly picked up, which reinforces that screaming bloody murder is the way to request it back again. She also screams for inexplicable reasons — for example, every morning now when it’s time to leave the bedroom and come into the kitchen for breakfast, whereas she used to run happily over to her high chair and prepare for Cheerios, now she first spends a little time standing in the bedroom doorway screaming at the living room light.

No idea.

I think parents tend to overemphasize the aggravating parts of having children and fail to mention the good parts, so I will balance this by saying that, these spells aside, Edith is excellent company and a delight to be around. She is so much fun and makes everything more interesting. We had an excellent weekend — I have found the key to our enjoying our weekend is to over-schedule us out of the house. My goal is to have something planned for every quadrant of the weekend, and we’re 3/4 there. We have baby gym Saturday mornings, a new music class Sunday mornings, and swimming Sunday afternoons. I need something for Saturday afternoons, but there seems to be nothing. It’s the worst quadrant to have open, too, because it’s endless and it’s too hot and sunny to take her outside.

I have begun using it for errands, which I previously avoided, because I hate people and leaving the house, and so I did everything online. But it occurred to me recently that I was actively looking for something time-consuming and indoors to do with Edith, so this past Saturday we went to Target.

It was so much fun! Edith loved it. She was interested in everything, and while she was happy to ride in the cart and point at various things, making quietly fascinated remarks about them, I eventually let her down so she could run around a bit, and that really made her weekend. She trotted up and down the aisles, picking things up, pointing at things, and asking me questions about them. Then, she wanted to help push the cart, so we went up and down the aisles pushing it together and she worked very hard. I couldn’t ask for a better companion. Everyone should have a little kid! If I’d known they were this much fun to be around, I would have always had one.

I just wish she would talk! I’m not worried about it — well, at least, I don’t think I’m worried about it. I don’t know if I should be concerned or not. Moms are always saying things like, “this and that expert told me this or that, but I know my child and I know what he needs, and so I ignored them and I was right.” Moms are always describing their children as extensions of themselves and correctly predicting some condition or other based on very early indications.

Does this sort of certainty come later? I don’t know Edith at all, and I have no fucking clue what she needs. She is an utter mystery to me. To me, being her mom feels less like having replicated myself in some way, and more like I found a gorgeous, mystical, feral creature in the woods which has deigned to permit me to care for it until it learns to function in human society. When I watch her play, I feel like I am witnessing something elemental. My primary feelings toward her are akin to awe and gratitude, which is an odd way to feel about someone who shits themselves multiple times a day and expects you to clean it up. She has my eyes entirely and sometimes when I look at her, I experience the uncanny shock of looking into my own face, but even still, I don’t have any feeling of her being mine or an extension of me. She is absolutely her own person, and she hasn’t told me who she is yet. As my parents are always saying, she is completely different than I was even when I was her age (apparently I emerged from the birth canal reading a copy of the New Yorker and pleading for silence). But even if we were identical in temperament, how could I feel a sense of possession toward someone who is continuously separating herself from me by infinitesimal degrees, especially given that my entire job is to help her do it?

Anyway, I’m anxious for her to talk both because I’m so curious to hear what she’s thinking, but also because it might mean she screams at me less.

I am so overwhelmed with sorrow and rage that I can’t express myself, but if I could, I would say exactly what Jill Filopovic just said, every word.

Outlawing abortion puts women in a totally unique category of person with fewer rights than any other — fewer rights, certainly, than the egg / embryo / fetus women are forced to carry. Outlawing abortion puts women from the moment an egg is fertilized in the lowest possible category of person. Even before a woman is pregnant, she is consigned to this status of sub-person who is legally required to use her body in the service of a fertilized egg imbued with far greater rights than she; she has fewer rights to her own body than any other category of person, dead or alive, in the US.

I’m so sorry, I’m so frightened, I’m so frightened for my daughter. We have utterly, utterly failed.


Every night around 6, Edith and I FaceTime with my parents. My parents are preparing to move in with us, and are currently in Tennessee packing up their old house; my mom already lived with us for most of the last year and doesn’t want Edith to forget her.

At first, Edith really enjoyed FaceTiming with her grandparents — at the end of the day, when I was too tired to engage with her anymore, she had a freshly invested audience to perform for, and really their interest in her goings-ons (unlike mine) is inexhaustible. They will act convincingly astonished to see her appear from behind a chair even if she does it a hundred times in a row.

I also enjoyed this, because it enabled me to lie on my back on the floor and tune out for awhile before the bedtime wars began.

But for the past couple of nights, after Edith has clapped her hands and pranced around a bit and received some initial praise, she’s been over it. She pretty quickly escalates from disinterested to furious at me for continuing to split my attention — after awhile, she starts marching over and taking my hand and pushing it onto the keyboard, trying to make me hang up. And when that doesn’t work, she has a meltdown.

Immediately after I hang up, she cheers right up and falls backwards into my lap with a satisfied grin, as if some overstaying party guests have finally beat it.

And this is all fine, as it goes, but this is also the pattern of how she behaves when I pay attention to anything at all other than her, and I have a vague sense that she is now at the age where I need to start setting limits on this behavior. In fact, my paperwork of “tips” from her 15 month check-up earlier this week includes this disturbing bullet point: “Use brief time-outs to enforce discipline.”

What the fuck? Are people really doing this with 15-month-olds? How would one even begin to give them a time out — tie them to the wall? I know at some point, I have to stop letting Edith do whatever she wants and/or doing whatever Edith wants, but I just feel like my life is far more pleasant when Edith is charge of it.

A Year of Posts

Throughout my 40th year of life, I posted on this blog every single day. This wasn’t initially a goal — during my parental leave, I enjoyed writing a little something here just to get a marker of my baby’s life down and to do something a tiny bit creative while braindead and sleep-deprived. Then, at some point, it became a point of curiosity as to whether I could make it a year, and finally I got so close, it seemed somehow mandatory to reach the benchmark.

There have been good and bad things about publishing here every day:

The good:

  • I have a lovely little treasure box of a year of my baby’s life. I keep a diary but my diary is mostly just a boring emptying of my brain’s current stressors. Because I was publishing here for an external audience, these posts include detail and narrative that I can imagine reading when I am much older and have forgotten all of this.
  • Forcing myself to find something worth writing about every day caused me to be more observant and to think more creatively. I wrote when I thought I couldn’t possibly write, and those were some of my better posts. There’s a lot of stuff here that I’m proud and happy to have written that I absolutely would not have written if I didn’t have this arbitrary self-imposed requirement.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of really nice compliments from people on my writing, including sometimes from people who I had no idea were reading this blog. That’s felt great! Also, my family has really enjoyed reading these posts.
  • It’s taught me that conditions do not have to be perfect for me to write. I can get really avoidant about writing and think my house has to be spotless and I need five hours of uninterrupted time, etc., and this has really broken me out of that way of thinking. This is also helpful for my job, which requires a lot of writing — previously I felt if I were exhausted and not able to think clearly, I simply could not string two words together. But now I know I always can if I make myself; it might not be solid gold, but I can at least get a draft down and refine it the next day.
  • I think I have gotten better at writing.

The bad:

  • There’ve been a lot of good posts that I wouldn’t otherwise have written, but there’ve also been a lot of pointless things that I posted just because I had to post something. I don’t really agree with adding to the noise that’s out there — if you publicly share something even just on social media, I feel it should be of at least some use to somebody.
  • Blogs are dead and writing here has basically been like throwing a party in an empty parking lot. It’s really depressing and lonely to write something you think is good and get no response to it whatsoever; most days here I just get a like or two. Not to mention all the bots that interact with my posts. By comparison, it’s so easy to get real engagement on Twitter. I’ve been doing this for myself when I’m older, but even still, it feels silly some days and vain, like performing for a mirror.
  • I have Opinions about talking about Edith on the internet. I know this is a minority opinion and I won’t go too into it, because most people feel differently, but I think it’s important to be a good steward of her privacy until she’s old enough to take control of how she wants to represent herself. It’s a tricky balance because my experience of motherhood is my own story, not Edith’s, and talking about my life on the internet is one way I communicate and express myself, and I’m allowed to share the most profound thing that’s ever happened to me. But it’s also Edith’s story, and I don’t have the right to tell hers. I’ve tried to walk a line that feels comfortable to me, but sometimes I really feel like I shouldn’t be talking about her at all.
  • It’s a real pain in the ass to have to post something here every day, especially on the weekends.

Going forward, I think I’m going to aim to publish something twice a week, and also maybe put a little more effort into my diary. I’m hoping this balance will keep all the good stuff above, but cut out the bad stuff.