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Is One the Loneliest Number?

9 Jan

When you get engaged, from the moment you have the ring on your finger everyone wants to know all the details, from the date and venue to the dress and cake flavor.  Once you get married, everyone wants to know when you’re going to have kids.  (During the Sunday brunch the morning after my wedding, my mom was holding one of my high school friends’ babies and remarked, “Don’t you want one of these?”  Seriously Mom, we had been married less than 20 hours!)  And inevitably, once you have one child and think that the masses will be appeased, not so fast!  Everyone wants to know whether — and when — you’ll be having your next one.

Hubs and I agreed that we would table even having that conversation until Lucy is older.  (No Irish twins for us, thankyouverymuch.)  We haven’t decided whether or not to have a second child, but two kids seems to be Hubs’ max.  Still, it’s hard not to ponder the concept and wonder whether Lucy will stay an only child or whether we will someday give her a little brother or sister.

I’m an only child, whereas Hubs is the oldest of three.  I had a good childhood as an only child (more on that in a minute), so I’ve never felt like I must have more than one kid.  I think people with siblings (assuming they get along) tend to think having siblings is important enough to persuade them to have more than one child.  (My parents had siblings, but those stories could fill an entire blog so I’ll leave it at that.)  Before Lucy, whenever I heard people say “I just really want to have another child for my first child,” I frankly thought that was kind of silly.  Wouldn’t a second child actually detract from the attention, time and resources that can be afforded the first child?

Now, however, I’m revisiting my opinion.  I was discussing this with friends the other day and we agreed that we love the idea of having a large clan of kids (though the reality may be another story.)  I admit that part of this desire comes from watching the show Parenthood.  I seriously adored that show before I had Lucy and now I adore it even more.  Watching the big, crazy. flawed but loving Braverman family makes me wish that I could have a big ol’ clan like that of my own.  Part of it is that, since I’m an only child, we now have my parents in town (which is awesome for so many reasons) but we don’t have any cousins on the West Coast for Lucy.  Hubs’ brother has two kids, a 5-year-old girl and almost-3-year-old boy, but they live back East.  We’re trying to arrange for the cousins to meet in the next couple of months, and I know we will try to have them see each other once or twice a year, but that’s hardly the same as regular family get-togethers.  My friend T. commented that she wishes her young daughter weren’t always just surrounded by adults, and I have the same feeling.  I have friends who are like family and I hope that Lucy and their kids will end up feeling like family too….but it would never be quite the same as flesh-and-blood relatives.  And while I didn’t mind being an only child when I was younger, I admit that I started wishing I had siblings as I got older.  Being an only child is not always lonely, but it can be.  But of course, having siblings is not guaranteed to prevent loneliness, either.  As with most parenting decisions, this is one of those head-scratchers with respect to what is really best for Lucy, Hubs and me.

Regardless of whether we have more kids or not, I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is for us to create traditions within our family for Lucy to look forward to.  A year or two ago, a woman I know whose daughter is an only child picked my brain about what my experience was like as an only child.  I told her without hesitation, “Create traditions.”  For example, for Easter my parents would create a treasure hunt of clues leading up to an Easter basket at the end of the search.  (I may need my parents’ expert help with clues if we do this for Lucy!)  For Christmas Eve, we would go out for Chinese food with our best family friends whose son was my age, and then go back to their house for dessert and gifts.  His parents became like an aunt and uncle to me.   (My mom sent me this interesting article about a woman whose family also had the Chinese food tradition…now I’m reading her memoir, which is fantastic.)  And on Christmas, “Santa” would save an extra-special gift for me until I was totally done opening gifts and had moved on with the  other activities of the day.  (One year my dad had me check the clothes in the dryer, but instead of laundry there was a gift.  I always knew it was coming but every year I would still think, “Maybe this is the year they’ll stop…”  I kid you not when I say they still did this until two years ago.)

For their part, Hubs’ family had the tradition (which they continue to this day) of going to Sea Isle City on the Jersey shore for 1-2 weeks each summer.  This tradition began over 40 years ago when Hubs’ parents and two other couples started going before they had kids.  Then Hubs was born, then his siblings and the other couples’ kids.  Now almost all of the “kids” have kids, and the whole clan still congregates there every summer and rents a big house together.  I went for the first time this past summer (Hubs hadn’t gone in 10 years because it’s not an easy trip from L.A.) and I have to say it was pretty amazing.  I got to meet the kids Hubs grew up with, and now all their kids are having the same experience.  I’ve already decided that I want us to start going regularly in a couple of years when Lucy is a bit older.  Maybe not every year, but enough that Lucy will grow up knowing her cousins and these other friends, and having something to look forward to every summer.

And maybe, if she ends up being our one and only, she will do what I did and her friends will become her second family.

To be continued…



6 Jan

At the same time that I’m experiencing my glorious (although temporary) freedom from the billable hour, I’m also experiencing the inevitable loss of certain freedoms that are part and parcel of parenthood.  Of course, everyone knows that becoming a parent is totally life-changing.  But there are also some changes in my own attitudes and feelings that seem completely obvious now, but that I didn’t think about before becoming a mama — like that I usually don’t want to do things without the baby even when I can.

Being on the older side (I’m turning 33 and Hubs turned the big 4-0 in November), it’s not like we were going out clubbing or barhopping before Lucy was born.  I got that out of my system long ago, thank God.  A lot of our friends have kids already, so our lives had already transitioned to include weekends spent attending 2-year-old birthday parties and quiet evenings at peoples’ houses.  But the one thing  we did still do a lot before the bambina arrived was go out to dinner.  In fact, when we first met with our financial advisor a year ago I was a bit startled to learn that dining was by far our largest non-fixed expense, and she even commented that going out to eat was our entertainment.  (Oy!  Cringe!  I’ve always been embarrassed that I don’t have any real hobbies…but that’s a topic for another post.)

Toward the end of my pregnancy everyone told us to get our date nights in while we still could.  I mostly just laughed and /or rolled my eyes.  When I was 9+ months pregnant, going out anywhere that I couldn’t just wear stretchy pants seemed like such a chore, and eating became less and less fun (goodbye wine and cheese, hello crazy heartburn!)  It was kind of like everyone telling me to get my sleep in while I could — easier said than done when the only way I could sleep was half-sitting up on the couch in a ridiculous nest of pillows.  (I have to remind myself of those pre-baby sleepless nights on my more sleepless nights with Lucy these days so I don’t get too nostalgic.  There really is such thing as hormone-induced amnesia about all unpleasant things related to pregnancy, labor and delivery…another future post topic!)  Plus, I figured, we would be able to start having regular date nights again after we were more settled in with Lucy.  My parents live practically spitting distance, and I figured they would be willing babysitters.

Now, I was actually 100% right about that — my parents are more than eager to watch Lucy anytime, to the point that their Christmas gifts to us included several restaurant gift cards and babysitting coupons!  And we have taken them up on it a couple of times — to go to Hubs’ office holiday party and to go to a small NYE party at a friend’s house.  But what I wasn’t expecting is that even though I know it’s important that we start doing date nights again at some point, and even though we could probably do so every week if we wanted to, right now I just don’t want to.  I really don’t like being away from Lucy — not because she’s not in great hands, because I truly have no worries with my parents, but because it just feels unnatural on some fundamental (biological?) level.  Not to be overly dramatic about it, but after 9 (really 10) months of carrying her inside me, being away from her for more than an hour or two to run errands feels a little bit like having a missing limb.  (I don’t think Hubs feels quite the same way, but I suspect that’s a typical difference between moms and dads.)  Also, I love our newly-grown little family unit — it isn’t just the two of us anymore, and it’s hard to go out and pretend that it is.  Even the whole process of getting dolled up and ready to go out didn’t feel fun anymore (but maybe that’s because I still can’t wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and those that I can require circulation-cutting Spanx!).

This isn’t to say that I don’t miss going out.  I almost can’t recall the last meal I was able to eat in a leisurely way instead of scarfing it down.  And this may sound weird but even more than eating dinner out, I miss brunch.  We can cook or order in some pretty great dinners, but I am sorely lacking in the decadent-breakfast category.  I can manage some scrambled or fried eggs, oatmeal or cold cereal — that’s about it.  I have always adored breakfast foods and I do admit I could really go for a fancy egg scramble, pancakes and waffles right about now.  When Lucy’s a bit older and has had her shots, I suppose we will start going out with her — but for now, I’m sticking to my good ol’ Honey Bunches of Oats.  I also do crave adult interaction on those days that Hubs is at work and I don’t have visitors, but still, my slight cabin-feverishness is tempered by my wish to be with Lucy.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking so much about all of this is that my birthday is Friday and Hubs asked me what I want to do, and I’m torn.  If I wanted to go out to dinner, my parents have already volunteered to babysit.  But again, the largest part of me just wants to spend my birthday with my whole family — and that now includes Lucy.  So we’ll see.

Recently I’ve been corresponding via Facebook with one of my high school friends who I haven’t seen in years.  She posted that she was going on a last-minute, one-month solo trip to Southeast Asia over Christmas and New Year’s, so I asked her about the reason for the sudden trip.   I know she has a 2-year old son, so I was surprised that she would be away for the holidays.  It turns out that her experience basically mirrors Eat, Pray. Love (minus the advance book deal).  She got separated, got into another relationship, ended that relationship and then decided she needed a trip to clear her head.  I’ve since been reading her trip blog and looking at her photos and it seems like an absolutely amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  But I keep wondering to myself how it’s been for her to be away from her son for so long — especially at Christmastime during what is probably the first Christmas he will understand and enjoy.  I can’t ask her this question, because I think even the question itself implies being a Judgy McJudgerson (“how could you do that??”) but that’s not even how I mean it.  (If anyone can think of a non-judgy way to ask that question I’d love to hear it!)  I know that she adores her son and is a good mom.  I’m just so curious about what it must feel like to be away from one’s child for a month, when I don’t even like being away from mine for an evening!  I’m sure my feelings on this will change somewhat as Lucy gets older and Hubs and I will resume our regular weekly date nights, but I’m also fairly certain that I will never choose to be away from her for that long.

Before I had Lucy, I was starting to feel like mamahood was this not-so-secret society of which I wasn’t yet a member — and now I understand why.  Before this tiny little person came into my life, there was truly no way to know how she would change me.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why would I want to leave this face?

Why would I want to leave this face?

525,600 Minutes

3 Jan

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes – how do you measure,
measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In
inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes – how do you
measure a year in the life?

I’ve been singing to Lucy a lot — I’d better get it in now before she is old enough to realize that I can’t carry a tune and/or be generally embarrassed of me (“Mo-ommmm!”)  I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with things to sing her, and as it turns out I’ve been singing lots of show tunes.  (Although – and it pains my high school drama-nerd self to say this – after spending so many hours back in the day belting out these tunes, I have now forgotten some of the lyrics!  So I end up singing something along the lines of “In blah blah, in blah blah, in midnights in cups of coffee, in blah blah, in blah in laughter and strife…”  Again, I need to get on the ball with this before she’s older (and also by then stop singing her some of the more risque numbers like “La Vie Boheme.”)

But I digress.  The point of this post is about time and how I’m spending it in this glorious year, or rather half-year (262,300 minutes?  Yes I used a calculator for that — don’t judge) of being home with Lucy.  As a lawyer, the bane of my everyday work existence is the billable hour.  Spending 7 years breaking everything down into 6 or 15-minute increments leads to a perverse mentality where you can start thinking of your entire day that way.  (.75 hours, sat in traffic.  .25 hours, looked enviously at peoples’ exotic vacation photos on Facebook…etc.)  Yesterday (or rather today, at 3:30 a.m. when I was up feeding Lucy), I had the sudden realization that one of the reasons I’m so very happy and relaxed right now, despite the stresses / learning curve of having a newborn, is that since Lucy was born almost 7 weeks ago, I have not one single time measured my days by the billable hour.  (That also may be why each day passes incredibly quickly and on some days it’s 1 p.m. and I haven’t managed to actually get out of my pajamas…but maybe that’s just me.)

In spit-up, in feedings, in onesies, in dirty diapers…

Having a baby is life-changing in so many ways that I will write about, many of them wonderful (how can you love this little person who you’ve only known a short time SO MUCH) some of them startling (how can you worry so obsessively over this little person who you’ve only known a short time), and some of them a bit depressing (where did my body go??) but this one is solidly in the awesome category.  I definitely needed a reason to slow down and just BE.   Thanks to little Lucy, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Welcome to my Blog!

2 Jan

Hi there!  If you’re reading this, chances are you already know me (hi, Mom!)  But for those of you who happen upon this blog by accident, here’s me in a nutshell.

Close-up of hazelnut in cracked nutshell on the white background Stock Photo - 10345763

 I’m 33 (as of next week but may as well come to terms with it now).  I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 10 years.  I used to write a funny blog about the good, bad and ugly (mostly ugly) of my life as a single 20-something in L.A., until I met my now-husband in 2008.  We tied the knot in July 2011 and had our first baby, Lucy, in November 2012.  Now that I’m more in the groove of life with a newborn but still on maternity leave till May from my lawyer job, I want to return to my love of writing and start this blog.   I’m hoping it will be cathartic for me, potentially entertaining for my readers (hi again, Mom) and maybe fun for little Lucy to read when she’s older. 

Here goes nothing!