Things I miss about childlessness

  • Free time
  • Relaxing
  • Reading
  • Cleaning
  • Sleeping
  • Studying
  • Exercising
  • Doing all of the above at my own leisure
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Travel with a baby: planning tips

Sometime in the middle of last year, seeing a flight at an excellent price, I bought two tickets for the family to go visit our friends and relatives in Moscow for three and a half weeks.  As I’ve been scouring the internet looking for advice, I decided to create a series contributing my experience and observations to the pool.  Here is a compilation of (hopefully) useful advice.

Ready to go!

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Travel with a baby: cloth diapers

There are basically three scenarios when it comes to cloth diapers and travel: one, you bring all/most of your cloth diapers; two, you shoot for half and half with cloth and disposables; three, you say eff it, buy some disposables, and enjoy the vacation from washing diapers.  Only you can decide which works best for you, but we’ve done all three and this is my experience:

Pro of disposables:  more suitcase room on your return trip!

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International travel with a baby, seat struggles

Sometime in the middle of last year, seeing a flight at an excellent price, I bought two tickets for the family to go visit our friends and relatives in Moscow for three and a half weeks.  As I’ve been scouring the internet looking for advice, I decided to create a series contributing my experience and observations to the pool.  Here is a compilation of (hopefully) useful advice.

Image

Official (and hungry) U.S. citizen

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One and done

Somehow I have a hard time closing the gap between thinking about blog posts and actually writing/posting them.  I make no excuses, I’m just lazy.  I technically have the time and opportunity.  But the fact of owning a baby is exhausting; mostly, any free time is spent zoning out whilst marathoning various Netflix crime dramas.  

But today I felt slightly inspired.  I somehow ended up on the mailing list of a site called Scary Mommy.  I don’t really understand how this happened, but I actually find a lot of the posts to be interesting and realistic, and occasionally humorous.  It has a little less of the sanctimonious “mommy wars” that most of the baby sites are polluted with (if you avoid the comments, that is.  Always avoid reader comments).  One that I read today struck a chord with me, entitled I Don’t Like Being a Mother.

First things first: this is difficult to admit.  Especially if you’ve (as she clearly has) made the commitment to stay a mother/involved.  I watched a special on TV last year that featured several untraditional moms who had left their husbands and children due to exactly this feeling.  I have personal experience with this, as my mom did something very similar by divorcing my dad and moving out when I was two years old.  An important thing to note here is that she did NOT abandon me, she stayed very much involved in my life and I have a close relationship with her.  I love her and don’t resent her for the decision she had to make for her sanity.  Something similar in all these cases was that there was involved and financially-stable fathers who didn’t mind shouldering this burden.*  

The truth is that I feel something akin to this.  By no means the same (after all, I’ve only got 11 months of experience); I don’t fantasize about my pre-baby life or what could have been, I don’t regret having Baby M and, while he might have been a surprise, we were planning to have children at some point.  However, compared to all the women who have been waiting their whole lives to be mothers, who want more children (more than… 0-1), whose lives have been given meaning (ick) via motherhood, who cherish every moment with their babies (I’m typing this as the baby pulls everything out of the recycling bin that he can reach and my husband dozes on the living room floor), exclusively talk about them, meticulously plan first birthday parties that won’t be remembered, who cry when they cry (that’s a thing, apparently), etc., there’s definitely the realization that I don’t fit in.  The best advice I can give is to not spend too much time communicating with/reading about these kinds of people, and just focus on the things you’re interested in instead and the light at the end of the tunnel.  And also to talk to a professional if you really can’t let go of these thoughts… just to have a healthy outlet for it.

Bullshit “advice” aside, the truth is that I’m incredibly lucky.  We don’t have financial worries, I’m married to someone that I get along with well, who is an involved and patient father, allows me to go to school so that I’ll be able to work in the future.  All of these factors allow me to enjoy being a mother.  I could imagine a situation where it’s me writing that post, even if it’s not the way I feel now.  

 

*yes, children are a burden

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Doing… things

Not at home!

Not at home!

I have a confession to make: I haven’t read a (non-accounting) book since I was pregnant. A minimum of 8 months ago. It was a fantastic, albeit slightly outdated, book on the healthcare system in America: Flatlined: Resuscitating American Medicine by Dr. Guy Clifton. It paints a very thorough picture of why we have the problems we have, what the myriad problems are, and examples of solutions, both theoretical and those already in practice.  Sadly, the book is a bit outdated as it was published in 2008, before the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed (which, to be certain, did not solve a lot of the problems we’re faced with, primarily high costs, but, I will maintain that, even despite the massive problems with the roll-out, it was a step that needed to be taken eventually, and that no transition would’ve gone smoothly).  I did buy a bunch of books at a Goodwill several months ago, hoping it would inspire me to start reading again.  So far, not much luck.

But anyway, that’s a bit off topic.  The bigger point I’m trying to (not so elegantly) arrive at is that it’s pretty much impossible to relax at home.  This was a fact of parenthood I was unprepared for (the baby woke up crying as I was typing the last sentence, like he knew), that seems somehow deeply profound (due to my unpreparedness, most likely), and one that I am desperately hoping diminishes as baby M gets older.  It’s difficult to relax away from home, as well, but as much as I enjoy getting out and doing things, I am also quite lazy.  This puts me in a tricky situation– leaving the house takes a lot of preparation (ew!) and has an expiration date (tired/hungry baby), but staying home gets boring.

Paper bags: a typical lunch for Baby Dictator

Paper bags: a typical lunch for Baby Dictator

So what I’m finding is that it’s really important to force regular outings.  We go on long walks down by a lake near our house a couple of times a week and we try, about once a week, to go do something a little different.  Whether it’s a hike or something touristy in San Diego, it’s refreshing to show the Mr. a new place and break up the routine a bit.

Mere minutes after buying the baby backpack

Mere minutes after buying the baby backpack (there’s a bit of a learning curve)

A fellow blogger recently wrote a pretty reasonable pre-baby bucket list post, and I think it’s a great thing to do so you actually get around to things you want to do, even if babies aren’t in the plan.  While life doesn’t stop after having one, it does take a little lot more oomph to get around to things.  I’m also a strong believer in lists as catalysts, so even my baby-ed friends (and myself) can benefit from this.

 

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THANKSGIVING*

…when you have a baby, nowhere to go, no guests to entertain, little motivation, and a Russian husband who hates all traditional Thanksgiving foods other than turkey.

Too much for one baby, probably

Too much for one baby, probably

If any of the above sound familiar, maybe this can help you:

1. Decide if you’re going to do anything.  This is an important step, because you can save yourself a lot of work by saying “screw it” and pretending it’s not a holiday at all (you’ll have to avoid the TV/internet and/or be in an un-thankful country to make it very far in this fantasy).  Maybe you are my friend Jessica and you hate Thanksgiving and your husband left to be with his family for Thanksgiving/(C)Hanukkah so you’re decide to just watch Christmas movies alone.  Great!  You can stop here.

2. Ok, you decided you were going to do something after all.  If you hate cooking, definitely don’t cook.  My first instinct was to find a fancy buffet (usually around $70/plate) and go do some holiday face stuffing.  Some of them provide free champagne! (and other beverages)  Unfortunately, my husband has a somewhat restrictive diet, so I decided a buffet with him could be a complete (and expensive) disappointment.  Also, it’s best to avoid situations of leaving the house with the baby. We do it, obviously, but with $140 on the line, not worth it.

3. SO, you’ve decided you’re going to do something  and you aren’t leaving the house.  You have limited options. Loads of stores and restaurants have complete Thanksgiving meals; again, if you hate cooking, do this.  But if you don’t, it isn’t actually that hard to slop together a respectable Thanksgiving meal.  This is what I did: Continue reading

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