Alone Again

My mother has left for Tennessee until Christmas, so it’s just me and Edith. We hung out all day today! Alllllll day. All day. I felt every hour of this day. And then just when bedtime approached, I realized DST ends tonight and so actually it was an hour earlier than I’d thought. I don’t know what that’s going to do to our sleeping schedule; I imagine I’ll find out about 4am or so.

I don’t mean to make it sound like I don’t love hanging out with my daughter. I do! It’s my favorite thing to do, and we had a very lovely day. It was just a very long lovely day. Normally, my Mom might take Edith for an hour or two, and also there’s another adult around to talk to which makes the time seem to pass more quickly when you can’t, say, read a book or watch TV or go for a run or get drunk or anything.

With a baby, you have to be in the moment. I have never been a fan of being in the moment. I like escaping the moment. I prefer to be in front of the moment, or behind it. Just to the side of it, perhaps.

But with an infant, you are in the moment, and so you really learn the length of the moment. Today was 14 hours of moments, and I was fully in every last one of them.

God bless.

Burping

I don’t burp. I couldn’t burp when I was a baby, and I never really have since. Or at least, I thought I didn’t, until I read this. I realized I do burp sometimes, a little bit. But I’ve never had one of those big, loud burps that teenage boys are constantly demonstrating. I have tried, but it’s just not something I’m able to do.

However, it’s never occurred to me to bring this up with a doctor or to attempt to resolve this discomfort in any way. I don’t actually even notice it that much. I recall at some point talking to a friend of mine who had lactose intolerance about her constant bloating which led to her self-diagnosis, and it only just occurred to me while she was talking that being painfully bloated all the time wasn’t just…what being a person feels like.

I come from a relatively stoic line of people who don’t really believe in being happy or comfortable, and I’ve very much internalized that. I’m constantly realizing that some type of misery or other that I simply live with is something that other people actively seek to alleviate. Sometimes I find myself feeling a little resentful about it, like a Boomer dad. “Why do you think you’re so special that you need to feel good and enjoy your life?” I’ll bark aloud, alone, in my office, at my Twitter feed. Since I manage other people, this can cause some problems with my empathy. This is probably by design — the stolidity of my ancestors was bred of the demands of capitalism. We are all very good employees.

I seem to have wandered a bit from the point.

Anyway, I can’t really burp and apparently there’s a cure for this. But I probably won’t bother with it; I have other more significant health problems I’m ignoring that I would likely tackle first, if I were ever to start taking care of myself, which I won’t. If I started trying to fix shit like this, where would it all end? I mean, there’s always some other thing that could work better, and I don’t want to spend all my time tinkering with my aging cage like it’s an antique car or something. It’s fine, farting is fine.

Jeans

I put on jeans Monday for the first time in well over a year. I felt so dressed! It was a pretty great feeling, really. I felt very together and kempt like a white lady in a TV show. I did not look well put together; I looked like someone who had gone through fertility struggles, a global pandemic and year plus of quarantine, deep isolation, and depression, major work stress, a pregnancy, a difficult birth, a move, and raising a newborn, all lubricated by phases of compulsive eating. That is, I looked like someone not at all used to being at the weight they are now, and extremely uncomfortable in their own skin.

But I felt more put together than I usually am, is what I’m saying.

I got stretch jeans. I didn’t mean to, necessarily — I didn’t know they were stretch until they arrived. But when I tried them on, they seemed like a good idea for my new body, but it was a mistake, because I forgot that stretch jeans bag out and fall down after you wear them for fifteen minutes. Remember that phase we went through when all jeans were stretch jeans, and then we realized they were stupid? I had to hitch my jeans up all day, which really undercut my feeling of being a fully dressed and put together grown-up Lady.

I always feel more productive on the five days per year I actually get dressed and then I think I should do it every day, but I don’t, because I always wear workout clothes all day because my idea is I will use my treadmill under my desk. I do maybe half the time? This week, I’ve only used it two days. But it’s like how they say if you want to write, you have to sit down at your computer every day just in case the muse shows up. You have to wear athleisure every day, just in case you somehow summon the energy to move your fat ass a little bit.

I’ve always wanted to be the person who gets up early enough to work out hard for like an hour, then shower and get fully dressed before work, and I have been that person for the odd month here or there throughout my life. It felt good, sort of, except that it also (and primarily) felt fucking awful. I could never maintain it very long because I value sleep and a forgiving waistband too much, and now it’s fully off the table now at least until Edith is able to take care of herself for an hour or so, so I am off the hook. Maybe when Edith has left for the big city and I am all alone and still working because I will never be able to afford to retire, I will finally get fully dressed every day.

Hell, maybe at that point, I’ll wear a cocktail dress and pearls to work every day, go fucking all in, why not.

Playpen

As mentioned, I got Edith a playpen. My family have all roundly mocked me for its size. I don’t know why! Here it is:

(Edith hates it.)

Water

Edith is still not into eating, but she LOVES drinking water out of a cup. She cannot get enough. She will never need one of those dumb Instagram jugs with motivational sayings printed on the side; this kid will readily hydrate.

The only issue is, she doesn’t really understand how to drink yet. At first, she did it intuitively, taking delicate, studious little sips. But now she gets so excited when she sees the cup coming that she chomps down on the brim with her new two bottom teeth and sort of…horks the water back, resulting in much coughing and spluttering and indignant glances at her caretaker. And then she does it again. And again.

Also, I would really like for her to hold her own cup, and she would really like that too, but (as we are repeatedly learning each night) that level of coordination is a long way off. Yet strangely, after dinner, when she is in the bathtub with her plastic toy cups she plays with in there, she is perfectly capable of grasping one of those in both hands, and bringing it steadily to her mouth, full of dirty, often peed-in bathwater without spilling so much as a drop.

Vinny Thomas

Recently, an endangered California condor somehow fertilized her own eggs. One of my favorite Twitter follows made a video about it:

There are some…unflattering parallels here.

I have long enjoyed Thomas’s videos. Here is one of his most popular:

And then there’s this one, which I have probably watched a thousand times:

Never in front of company!

Happy Halloween

I’m not a fan of holidays. I know, you’re all shocked. I just find them repetitive and boring — in other words, ideal for children. One reason I was really looking forward to having a baby is that holidays would be enjoyable again, because little kids love holidays and I like watching little kids enjoy things.

This is Edith’s first holiday! She will be going to bed long before it begins, but before that, we’ll dress her up like a pumpkin and take a picture of her, which will be mystifying to her, but will please us and the relatives we send the picture to.

Mom got pumpkins, but we didn’t get around to carving them, so we’ll set them out on the porch as they are. We also got candy, but I will be going to bed with Edith, so it will be up to Mom to hand it out.

Next year, though! Edith will be old enough to trick-or-treat, and I bet she will LOVE it! I can’t wait. (Will she be old enough? She’ll be 1.5 — that’s old enough, right? I have no idea what age kids do things.)

Swinging

About a week ago, our nanny sent me some videos of Edith swinging at a playground. This was odd for two reasons: first, I did not realize Edith was big enough to swing. It was one of those baby bucket swings, but still, I wouldn’t have thought to put her in one, because to me, she’s still a tiny, fragile newborn, and yet there she was, flying through the air and giggling and having a fantastic time. Secondly, there are no playgrounds with swingsets in this neighborhood, so I had no idea where they were.

Today, Edith and I went for a walk and I was determined to find this mystery playground, and I finally did — it’s in the neighborhood across the big road from here, a circular neighborhood with all these little avenues winding back between various houses that lead to a central hidden pocket park with a soccer pitch. The avenues are like spokes, and each of them has some sort of little parklet or park-type feature, and one was the park Edith had been going to.

There was nobody else in it, and we had a big time. Edith went on the swings, and we went down the slides, and we sat on the bed of the playground for a long time, which was made of wood chips, and Edith tried to put wood chips into her mouth, and I blocked her. Edith doesn’t get frustrated or scream if I stop her from doing something she wants to do (which is usually putting something foul in her mouth), but she doesn’t give up either — she just keeps mechanically attempting to do it despite my opposition until I make it actually impossible, at which point, she moves seamlessly on to trying to do something else I don’t want her to do. I think this is a really great sign. Perseverance and tenacity are great traits that I absolutely do not possess. When something is difficult or I am thwarted in a pursuit, I give up immediately. So there are all sorts of things I’ll never know how to do, like play the piano, or code, or be in a relationship.

But this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem for Edith. After trying and failing to get a woodchip into her mouth for probably well over 20 minutes, she climbed into my lap and gave me a huge hug. She’s been clingy lately because she’s teething, so I didn’t smell a rat until I heard sucking over my shoulder. She had palmed a wood chip somehow and was sucking it behind my back, having distracted me with insincere affection.

Later, a little girl came to the park with a very real-looking doll. The doll looked so real that at first, I thought it was a very small woman with her baby, and then I realized it was a little girl and got freaked out that she had a baby with her, and only then did I realize it was a doll. The little girl did all the same things with her doll that Edith and I had just done, and eventually we ended up side-by-side at the bucket swings, pushing our babies in companionable silence. Edith gaped openly (and frankly rudely) at them while I studied my phone because I am capable of feeling social anxiety even with a 9-year-old (or whatever she was).

Since having my daughter, I’ve had this strange feeling when people ask me about her, like I don’t actually have a baby and am faking. Particularly, there was this doctor’s appointment where the woman asked me if I had kids, and I was like, “No. Oh, yes! I have a daughter. I had her six months ago.” And I really felt like she was about to say, “No you don’t, honey,” and be right about it. I don’t know, I think that because I’m single, I’ve always sort of felt vaguely condescended to by other people like I’m a state of arrested development, and although this is mostly projection, it’s such a part of my response to the presence of other people that having a child myself (and therefore undeniably being An Official Adult now) is giving me this weird low-level identity crisis.

All of which is to say that as I pushed my actual baby next to this little girl pushing her fake baby, I had an uncanny sense that Edith is also a fake baby, or at least that there isn’t really any difference, that I am playing at having a baby, or maybe more playing at being a person. “What is your baby’s name?” I wanted to ask my new mom friend, but did not. It was a creepy feeling, but not altogether unpleasant.

Horror Movies

At some point, I lost the ability to be frightened by horror movies. I still enjoy them — in fact, they’re some of my favorite types of movies — but they don’t scare me at all. It is not unusual for me to watch a horror movie alone in my house in bed at midnight, turn it off, roll over and go right to sleep. Or it wasn’t, before I had a baby; now I would never be up at midnight.

I don’t really know when I stopped being afraid of horror movies, but I think it’s in part because fear-based entertainment feels political and antifeminist to me and it mostly makes me angry, which takes me out of being frightened. Let me explain.

I am a single woman. I have always been a single woman. I really enjoy being a single woman, I love living alone, I love traveling alone, I love running alone in the countryside, earbuds in. I very rarely feel afraid, because by all objective measures, I am one of the safest people on the planet, and in fact, one of the safest individuals who has ever lived in all of recorded human history. I do feel very, very afraid every time I get in a car, but that’s another post.

And yet, all of society is hell-bent on trying to make women like me feel deeply, constantly imperiled and afraid, and annoyingly, they very often succeed! Any number of privileged white women are constantly terrified of things that will never happen to them; they gather in small groups and bond by stoking each other’s fear, telling each other horror stories about how vulnerable they are, how vulnerable all women are, every minute, we’re all seconds away from being raped, murdered, dismembered in the streets.

Wealthy white women in upperclass American neighborhoods — the safest population of people who have ever existed — are genuinely afraid to spend a night in their own houses alone without their husbands.

Who does all this pointless dependency serve? Certainly not women. Certainly not populations who really are in physical danger all the time. Certainly not the 20 Americans on average who are being physically abused by their intimate partner at any given minute on any given day.

If we’re all busy being scared of stranger danger that doesn’t exist, we very helpfully continue to ignore the many everyday very socially well-integrated and swell guys who regularly beat the shit out of their own families, rape their girlfriends, molest the neighbor kid, murder their wives. We can continue to be surprised that this is what violence looks like despite the fact that this is and has always been what violence looks like, because we expect it to look like a creepy stranger slowly unlocking the window in the night. This works great for abusive people! No matter how often they show themselves, we still fail to see them!

If white women with resources are so concerned about their own possible peril, they’re not going to go out and start upending social systems that are working very well for abusive people. They aren’t going to use their secure position to effect change, because they don’t think they are secure; they think they are unstable.

And you’re going to be a lot more likely to fall prey to an abusive man if you think you are more vulnerable alone than you are with him. Ironically, it’s the opposite. I saw this happen with a friend of mine in college — she had a really scary experience where a stranger followed her in his truck when she was going home at 2:00am. Her abusive boyfriend then leveraged her fear from that experience to further control her at all times — if she failed to tell him where she was going or call him exactly when she got home, he’d rail at her that he was just trying to take care of her; if he didn’t hear from her, how did he know she wasn’t raped and murdered by someone like that guy in the truck? She was trapped in that relationship for over two years.

Anyway, when I’m watching a horror movie, I inevitably start thinking about all this, and it takes me right out of it. I don’t really understand how you can be afraid of ghosts when you live in a patriarchy.

Carrots

Every night, I don’t feed Edith some sort of something, usually brightly colored veggie matter, and she smears it all over herself rather than eat it, and after dinner, I pop her into the bath and her not-dinner floats off of her like magic, and she becomes baby-colored again.

Last night, she wasn’t having carrots, and by the time she was finished not eating them, she was so covered in them that she looked like a tiny ex-President. When I put her in the bath….nothing changed. She stayed orange.

I scrubbed and scrubbed and eventually, most of the orange came off, but her stomach and thighs stayed a pale yellow, like she’d been coated in Betadine.

Mom suggested we experiment with beets and blueberries and see if we can tie-dye her.