House Spouse:: Easiest Job in the World

With hubby off doing Army stuff today, I took an unexpected day off work to play house spouse/ stay-at-home Mommy. I’ve been working crazy hours lately, plus surviving a 3+ hour round-trip commute. A day off from the stress of a “real” job sounded too good to be true. After all, this whole house spouse thing is kind of a piece of cake, right?

This morning I slept in until almost 9am. Do you have any idea how wonderful that was? I am so used to dying at the sound of my 4:30am alarm, rushing around to get out the door, driving through traffic just to sit on a bus for an hour and a half….Sleeping in was a slice of heaven!

Our maid comes at 9, so it didn’t leave me enough time to shower. Small price to pay for the sleep, though. I jumped into some trendy little sweats, a cute t-shirt, tossed my hair into a pony and way ready for the day.

Then I remembered the whole Mommy part of my duties. I skipped up to the nursery to find a happy ginger haired baby smiled and gurgling to me from his crib. He was so easy for me! I had him up and dressed in no time so we were cheerful and ready to welcome the maid.

It bothered me a little that I didn’t know any Romanian to speak to her. It bothered me a little more to realize this woman has been cleaning my house for months and I don’t even know her name. Keep in mind, she’s a live-in-maid. True, she works during the day. And true, I never see her, but still….Hubby would have handled it better.

She seemed to know the drill, though, so I let her do her thing while I fed the wee one. He loved everything I gave him! He signed for more and we giggled over breakfast. We played together for a bit and I thought, “Man, this really is the best job, ever!” He was doing so well that I found time to multi-task. I uploaded a new client gallery, created a slideshow, and took care of a few other things for my photography business. I even found time to do some Christmas shopping online!

If every day was is easy then I truly have no idea why all my house-wife friends are always flooding FB with moan after moan about why it’s so hard to be a stay-at-home Mommy. I mean, common! I work a “real” job. I know what “real” work is. And this was nothing more than a play day.

By 1030 the wee one was ready for a nap. Too easy, right? He took his first round of milk like a champ while we snuggled and rocked. But then he signed for more. Figuring he’d just sleep better with an ever fuller tummy, I made him another. I thought it a tad odd that he kept squirming about, but I figured he was trying to avoid nap time. Then he started signing for the potty. No way was I going to let him pull that on one me. It was nap time and I was sticking to a schedule.

Then the face wrinkled a little more. The baby grunts came. He started turning red….You know the rest.

We rushed to the potty and I tried to MacGyver the diaper out from under him as I helped him onto the seat. No easy feat with all the snaps on his cloth diaper and cover. I failed. And I was too late anyway. Poo flung everywhere. All over him. And me. And the potty. And the potty seat. All of which the maid had just cleaned.

I could handle it.

I picked him up off the potty. I grabbed everything I could find to get the poo off. I finished off a roll of toilet paper, and used two different cloth diapers but I was finally seeing the light.

And then I noticed the wee one hadn’t finished business. It looked like just pee, so I figured, too late to stop him now. It couldn’t be that bad, right?

Wrong. Lake Bailey started lapping up towards our feet. The wee one was so proud that he was peeing standing up. I cried to see the clean floors our maid had just washed puddling around me. Clearly, that second 8 oz of milk was a mistake.

So, I threw little man into the tub with some water to keep him contained while I finished cleaning off the toilet. It took everything in me not to gag but I got every last fleck of sticky, smelly, clumpy-yet-runny toddler poo off the bathroom floor.

Then I saw Erik. Splashing about in lake mud. How had I not realized just how much of the poo had stuck to him? The kid was literally playing in a brown river of poo water. I panicked. I drained the tub. I scrubbed him down. We started a bath all over again. All the work my maid had done in this bathroom was officially pointless.

I realized I’d need more diapers soon (since I’d used so many to clean the mess) so I threw a load of diapers in for a rinse.

Now bear in mind, I love my cloth diapers but I never actually wash them. It’s one of the million special things that just magically happen while Mommy works. I’ve told B on so many occasions, “It’s so easy. As long as you make sure he poos in the toilet there’s no dunking needed.” Easier said than done. After starting the load of diapers, I gagged to see little brown turds slap against the glass of my washer. I realized that a) I’d forgotten to rinse off the poosplosion that just happened from the diaper before I threw it in and b) the same thing had obviously happened to hubby with several of the diapers in the ready-to-be-washed stash. Gross.

I walked away, bit my tounge, and finally got the little one ready for nap. Thank God he’s sleeping now.

Two hours ago, when I was miraculously rested and playing and giggling at baby signs and watching my house get cleaned I would have told you that house spouse is the easiest job in the world.

Now, it’s not even noon, I haven’t showered, I don’t know enough Romanian to say, “Please don’t run water and don’t come into my bedroom so I can wash up”, I’m exhausted, and I still stink like poo. Oh, and for all the times I’d told hubby, “Don’t let the maid wash the dishes, she needs to focus on bigger chores and you are more than capable of washing dishes”…well, I’m pooped (literally) and even as I write this she’s washing my dishes. I don’t have the energy to even try to stop her, let alone to actually wash them myself.

So, allow me to eat my humble pie. I take it back. House spouse is by no means the easiest job in the world. Give me angry bosses. Give me back my 3+hour commute. Give me all the stress that comes with managing logistics for US Army Headquarters-Europe. Give me anything but poopslosions and un-showered frump days. House Spouse is absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt NOT the easiest job in the world.

Posted in Baby Posts | 4 Comments

Farewell to the Blob

Last night Erik woke me at 11:49 pm. We were co-sleeping in a desperate attempt to overcome jetlag from our trip to the States last week. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mama? Ba-ba? Gob-gob?”. That may sound like gibberish, but for him it was an entire conversation. “Mama” got my attention. (Notice he didn’t wake Daddy.) “Ba-ba” meant that he was thirsty, and asking for a sippy cup. “Ba-ba” is a leftover from when he used to ask for bottles and that was the closest he could come to pronouncing bottle. “Gob-gob” meant that he was also hungry. One of his organic toddler meals is called “Gobble Gobble”; Erik has termed every meal “Gob-gob” because of that.

It’s the most he’s ever communicated with me at one time. He was clear, concise, distinct. He suddenly wasn’t a blob. Not that a baby is ever a really blob, but you know that first year. That first year when they cry and cry and you pull out your hair thinking, “What on earth do you want??” Those days are fading fast. Instead of a crying mystery I had a clear, polite request for food and drink. From a thirteen month old. In the middle of the night.

No, I was not excited to wake up and help him. But yes, it was nice to know what he needed. And it felt AMAZING to know he is gaining to tools to converse with me, especially as an alternative to late night cries!

Turning one has meant so many changes for the wee ginger. Along with talking, he’s now running, jumping, and pivoting. Yes, pivoting. He can go in a circle pivoting on one foot and thinks it’s the cutest thing. And you know what? He’s right!

I remember holding that tiny precious blob of newborn and worrying my son would never be more precious than he was as that innocent bundle. Oh how wrong I was! Now he’ll run to me, wrap his arms around me, look adoringly at me calling me his “Mama” or his “Mum”. I love it. I seriously love it. I love that I now have a kid with personality. A kid who communicates. A kid. Not a baby. Not a blob. Even if it means waking up at midnight for stolen smiles over Gob-gob and a Ba-ba.

Posted in Pregnancy Posts | 2 Comments

Cry it Out

Sometimes when I can’t think I find it best to write. Tonight all I can think about is “cry it out” – a well known but super controversial parenting method to coach little ones to sleep.

Me before kids: I will absolutely let my kids “cry it out”. They will respect bedtimes. They will develop healthy sleep schedules. They will not be allowed to cut into Mommy and Daddy time at night.

Me after kids: I will never ever never let my kids “cry it out”. They will be loved, soothed, affirmed, and will never know the terror of crying for a Mommy who doesn’t love them enough to rescue them.

Erik slept for 12 hours a night by two weeks old. “Cry it out” wasn’t an issue because he was the world’s best sleeper. I’d listen to other parents tell me their nightmare stories and breath and inward sigh of relief that I didn’t have to deal with that.

Just one teeny tiny problem. Erik slept in a swing. He loved the constant back and forth motion. He’d put himself to sleep. He’d sleep through the night. Naps were a breeze. And he would totally outgrow it in time, right?

Wrong. Guess what: Getting an almost one year old to learn to sleep in a crib is waaaay harder than a one week old. Now that Erik has officially outgrown the swing, we’ve hit one huge crisis of a road block.

Complicate that with our brand new house, brand new routine, and the constant stubbornness my little red-headed boy brings to every confrontation these days.

Week One: I would not let him “cry it out”. I tried every attachment parenting trick I knew. I night nursed. I rocked. I danced. We swayed. We cuddled. He co-slept in our bed. I co-slept in his bed.  (No, Cribs are not even remotely comfortable!) I averaged 2 hours of sleep a night. We were all miserable.

Week Two: I decided to try a moderate “cry it out”. Every 5-10 minutes I’d return to my sweetheart and kiss his forehead, reminding him how loved he was. But my tiny hot-tempered ginger screamed at me for three hours. He tried to chew his way out. I swear he actually shook his fist at me. It was like every time I went in I was challenging him to stay awake for the next round, the exact opposite of what I wanted. But it didn’t work. And when he finally passed out? It lasted all of 20 minutes.

So B told me the next night to actually let him “cry it out”. No begging, pleading, comforting, constant checking. We shut the doors. We turned on music. I took a bath. And I slept. He cried himself to sleep.

Last night I did it again, only he cried for 10 minutes. Then he slept through the night.

Tonight I did it again. He cried for 3 and a half minutes. He’s still sound asleep.

Would I ever tell another mother to let her wee one “cry it out”? Probably not. Am I a huge fan? Not really. But do I think it worked? Gosh I sure hope so!!

Sleep on little ginger. Sleep on.

Posted in Pregnancy Posts | 4 Comments

BLW – Let Them Eat Steak!

If you’re a modern day mom, you’ve probably heard about the baby led weaning craze. It’s a “new” fad that’s basically a hip name for what parents have done for centuries: you let your baby eat what you eat. My friend and blogger explains it perfectly here:

http://pickles-and-onions.blogspot.de/2012/04/baby-led-weaning.html

That said, while our little one happily eats his organic veggie and fruit mush, we do occasionally let him try some of our dinner. Tonight, he tried steak. The wee ginger is definitely a carnivore! Check him out:

Yum!!!

Posted in Pregnancy Posts | 1 Comment

Baby Out-Takes

I love taking pics of my little man. Love it. Still, I don’t always get a shot that’s instantly ready for cuteness like this:

More often than not, I get a lot of really horridly tragic photos that I don’t share. Or bother to edit. But for the sake of fun, and because I have nothing better to do this Saturday, allow me to share some funny out-takes from pictures with Erik.

This is the Mom-I-am-so-bored-with-this face:

The Mom-everything-is-more-fun-to-look-at-than-you-camera face:

The Mom-stop-shooting-so-I-can-cough face:

The Mom-hold-on-I’m-trying-to-poop face:

The Mom-you’re-not-seriously-still-taking-pictures-are-you? face:

The Mom-can’t-you-just-use-my-pouty-puffy-cheeks-face face:

And, of course, the Mom-just-make-this-a-black-and-white-and-I’m-sure-it’ll-be-good-enough face:

 

 

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An Intimate Look at Dinnertime

Erik and I have really enjoyed our meal times together lately. With his Daddy still gone, it’s often a quiet affair, with lots of laughter as we typically start out with Mama feeding Erik and gradually migrate to Erik feeding himself. Last night I grabbed my camera to capture the precious moments.

Enjoy an intimate look at our dinnertime:

 

 

 

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Blue Hearts and Purple Butterflys

A few days ago a girlfriend and I were talking about diapers. I remember making a critical remark about a designer print advertised as “gender neutral” that was large blue hearts. I scoffed at the notion of these giant garish hearts being gender neutral. I think I even said something along the lines of how my son was too boy to wear something so girlie.

Fast forward to last night. I’m on one of my mama groups and someone posts an owl diaper for sale – a print that I own – saying her husband thought it was too girly for her son and she needed to sell it.

What, I thought? What’s girly about owls? I read further down in the thread to see that the diaper has little blue hearts on it. You gotta be kidding me, I thought. Just yesterday I said I’d never do that to my son. So I did a butt check, and – you guessed it – little B was wearing an owl diaper WITH BLUE HEARTS. (Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)

Gack! What to do? Should I sell the diaper? Save it for a daughter??

I had to think on that one. Really did. I started to wonder what else I’d overlooked in my quest for boyish things. I didn’t have to look far. I spotted a purple butterfly teether on the floor. Someone gave me a bunch of baby things before he was born. It was a brightly colored teether and he loved to chew on it. How did I not take in that it was a purple butterfly? Was this also too girly for my little man?

It gets worse. Downstairs by my sink is a pile of bottles to be washed. Again, these were gifts and had come in every color. That means – you guessed it – Erik has been drinking from pink and purple baby bottles. Further examination proved that he’s been eating off of pink and purple spoons as well.

How did these girlie colors fail to scream out at me from my drawers? Was I some type of failure as a mother? Would this damage my son’s sense of manhood someday?

Sigh. Think critically. Calm down.

Okay…

So guess what I did with the heart diaper and butterfly teether and garishly girlie feeding utensils? Nothing. Except wash them, because they needed it. Process this one with me: Do you know why I never realized that I had girlie things for my son? Because at the end of the day, they are just colors and shapes. Colors and shapes I want to teach my son.

When we eat dinner, I will be just as happy to say “let’s put the orange squash on the pink spoon” as I will be to say “let’s put the green pears on the blue spoon.” He’s still learning colors.

I will be just as happy to offer his sore gums a purple butterfly as I will be to offer them his brown owl. He’s still finding relief.

I will give him his bottle in any color that keeps his mommy milk warm. He’s still getting fed.

I will cover his bum in any diaper that holds his poo. He’s still staying dry.

My son is a boy. My son does not become any less of a boy because there is a teeny tiny hardly noticeable heart in the print of his diaper. And he doesn’t need shelter from all things girlie to keep him that way.

This past week I’ve been complaining about how men at work treat me. I’ve gotten my feathers ruffled a few times because I hate that there are such glaring differences in how we treat men and women in the office.

But isn’t that exactly what I was doing in my own home? Using pitiful cultural clichés to define how I raise my son? Just as my coworkers were using pitiful gender clichés to define how they could treat me?

So here’s to heart diapers. That’s still one cute little bum!

 

Posted in Pregnancy Posts | 2 Comments