6.27.2009

Babies

Oh, my gosh, the little mite is growing and growing! I continue to be actually obsessed with her. Watching Gran Torino last night it was almost impossible to stop thinking about Peony. She climbs now, which makes every encounter with her mean that you are now her personal monkey bars. It's fun, and silly. I love having a baby so much that I can't imagine not having a baby, and what's more, I can't imagine stopping at two of them. But would it be good for my job, my marriage, my finances and my body to have another one right now? Or to have more than two? Very questionable, I think. It's an odd place to be. My mom says that's when many women get a puppy.

As she grows it seems that she just gets better and better at expressing her love and delight. Her cheeks are huge and beautiful, she hugs and kisses, shes laughs and laughs, and her joy...well, let's just say it's contagious.

6.15.2009

Joy & Celebration

We went to Matt and Naomi's really sweet, really wonderful wedding last night. I felt so lucky to be there. The rabbi asked everyone to start by doing this great thing: taking a big breath in, closing their eyes, and exhaling until all the worries and stresses they brought in with them were simply gone. He said, "I want Matt and Naomi to be able to look in your eyes and see only joy and celebration reflected back at them." So, how was it that yours truly congratulated her friend the groom only to have him say, "Are you alright?" Yes, of course, I insisted, hoisting the baby to my other arm. "Are you sure?" he then asked. I can't lie, so instead I chanted back at him, "joy and celebration! Joy and celebration!" and proceeded to tell him how great his wedding was.

Of course I wasn't alright. I don't know why. I closed my eyes, I exhaled, and I still felt the same. I felt tension in my upper body. I felt tired from teaching two hours of fitness classes that morning. I felt worry that my husband wasn't madly attracted to me. I felt sadness that Peony wasn't feeling good and would surely get tired soon, or cry during the ceremony. I worried we couldn't leave before the dinner was served or Matt and Naomi would feel annoyed, and yet if we stayed Peony would feel very tired. I felt badly that I couldn't fit into my dresses the way I wanted to and had nothing to wear and then ended up wearing something that I couldn't easily breastfeed in and made me totally self-conscious.

Weddings used to be the most fun thing ever---drinking, dancing with Blue till all hours, the wearing of all the make-up. During the ceremony, the rabbi said, "In marriage, the first thing you have to do is take care of yourself." Blue looked at me with love and compassion. "I'm trying, I'm trying!" I whispered, hiding my toes so no one could see my lack of pedicure. "The second thing you do is take care of your spouse." Strike two. All I could do was look at the beautiful baby in my arms.

6.09.2009

Dance Party

One thing has seriously slipped since my return to work 8 weeks ago: music appreciation hour. I want my baby to participate without self-consciousness or hesitation in that most human, most physical, most connected of experiences: making, listening to and dancing to music.

Looking through my notes in her "First 1000 Days" book recently, I was struck by all the music she heard in her first month. I had to scribble names in the margins so the artists could all fit. But since starting back at work, I've brought her home, exhausted, and never even turned on the stereo. Mostly we've just tried to focus on getting her fed 100% breastmilk as long as possible--and sleeping through the night in her crib (getting there! Last night was the first night when eleven hours of sleep happened with ZERO crying...and a drowsy-but-awake-baby to start!).

As a very young person, she had an astonishing response to great music. She would stop fussing and listen completely to Don Cherry. Her face would transform as different sounds entered the atmosphere, and she would react with her whole body.

In the past two months, her interest level in music has not lessened. But what's she exposed to now? Me singing (good), her teacher singing in Arabic (good), or creepy commercial jingles (bad, bad, bad). Last night while she was nursing, the ice cream truck trailed slowly down our street, sending its transfixing slot machine sounds floating through our kitchen. She tore her little head off the breast to look in that direction and I had to coerce her back to the nipple. When we want to distract her for 30-60 seconds so we can eat or put something away, we push a button on what my husband calls the "nuclear" option: the electronic Baby Einstein music player I am ashamed to have bought her myself (thinking it could soothe her in her crib). This thing is evil: it takes beautiful classical pieces and converts them to dinky one-note lullabies, setting her up for a lifetime of commercial programming. And it effectively distracts my daughter.

Every weekend, I vow to get her both outside AND listening to live music, but usually only succeed in getting her outside. Now and then we get lucky---we catch a cello in the subway or a belly dancer in a restaurant (ODELLA!), but too often, I totally fail at this goal.

Well, now she can sleep through the night. And soon she'll be eating solid food. So the time has come to recommit to music. Real music, interesting music. Live or not. This morning I put on my favorite old track from Basement Bhangra (which made her look around at the speakers to try to figure out where it was coming from). Then she heard Suga Suga by Baby Bash (and I got to ask her, "Suga Suga, How you get so fly?"). Then Walking with a Ghost by Tegan and Sara (which made her bend her knees while standing and laugh). Then Radio Nowhere by Bruce. Then Moon Rocks by the Talking Heads (more laughing...that's my girl). Then...the piece de resistance...The Way I Are. We danced. And then something by Nas, which she found totally absorbing. And then it was time for her morning nap.

The challenge is for me to branch out a little more in my knowledge of layered, complex and interesting music. It takes time, but what could be more worth it than my little dancer?