Friday, December 30, 2011

The Pirate Outing

I was so surprised and touched by all the thoughtful and encouraging responses to my last post that I went back and read it again. And as I was reading, I realized I did know why I cared so much what people thought of Milo and his pirate eyes. Somehow, I still think Milo and I are the same person. Is this true of all mothers? You give birth to your baby, but a crucial part of them remains a crucial part of you? Or am I just romanticizing? I did not want to be the mother who misplaced her own life goals and ambitions onto her children, but I see in some ways I already am that mother, so entangled is my identity with Milo's. This might not be so bad if I were not also a perfectionist. Not the useful type either. I am the type desperate to be seen as utterly competent in every way. I need to exceed expectations and be showered with validating compliments. I cling to a reputation I've created for myself in my head. I have the strongest work ethic. I am the most reliable. I can juggle 14 balls at once, and keep a clean house as well. While sometimes true, these are all illusions of the most damaging kind. Remember that line I quoted in yesterday's post: "save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted disappointment."

Right. So the thing I realized as I was re-reading yesterday's post was this: I am totally making this about me. Ew. But true. I can make a compelling argument that I simply don't want Milo to have the negative experiences that came from growing up with this eye condition. And this is certainly true, but not the whole story.  I can also explain that I have yet to take him out in public wearing an eye patch because I don't want to subject him to the uncomfortable stares and comments, but who am I kidding? As another line in this book gently reminds me, "At this age, your child doesn't have the kind of ruminating, obsessive mind that you have (pg 71)... We live fiercely fortified by the illusion of inalienable rights, among them the right to perfection...[we divide the world into] the good and bad, the better and worse...the perfect and imperfect...the flower and the weed...the you and me.  The world, of course, does not really divide that way, only our egocentric views do. By good, we mean good for me. By wrong, we mean wrong to me. Ask your child to distinguish between a daisy and a dandelion to see that there is no distinction at all." (pg 76)

While it is true that I want the best for Milo, it is also true that I desperately want Milo to be the best, smartest, most perfect and admired baby of all babies. Because, you know, that would say a lot about me.

Meanwhile, Milo, right now, is fine. He is more than fine. He is the happiest baby I've known. As far as I can tell, he is utterly unfazed by this eye condition he may or may not have. He does not notice the looks people give him when his eyes are askew. In fact, I'm not even sure that people do give him such looks, or even notice that his eyes are askew. What I do know is that I watch people as we walk by and Milo causes a ripple effect. I'm not kidding. He's that cute. He leaves a wake of people who turn and look at him as they walk by. They ooh and ahh and come to see and touch and fawn. They call over their colleagues to come and look. Not one has noticed or asked about his turned-in eye. Even his glasses have elicited only high-pitched compliments of cuteness.

This is what I know for sure: Milo is not the least bit worried that kids are going to make fun of him in kindergarten. He will never remember wearing a pirate patch, except in the memories we re-tell to him in the story of his life. He dislikes having the patch and glasses put on, but he is willing to move past that. He is sitting in front of me, waiting for me to mimic his smacking lips. That is all.

I am the one who is obsessing, creating the "problems" from the "trouble." I am keeping us indoors during patch hours. I am worried that he won't like reading and thus won't like school and won't be successful and holy shit. My kid's only six months old and I've already decided his whole life is doomed. Which will clearly reflect poorly on me as a parent.

It's absolutely still true that I only want what's best for him. I just need to learn to stop pretending that I know how every tomorrow will unfold as a result of today and focus on what's best for him right now. In this moment.

Which is clearly some tongue-clucking and lip-smacking. That's all. I just need to be here with him. That's really all he needs and wants from me. And it's so simple to give to him. And so selfish not to.

And beyond all this is another truth (from page 100): my child will learn nearly everything by watching, hearing, and imitating me. If I want my child to learn to handle difficult emotions and overcome fears, I'll have to do likewise. If I want Milo to feel comfortable in his own skin, look straight at the camera without squinting his weak eye to activate his "good" eye, and to bravely meet the gazes of curious strangers dead-on...he will learn that from watching me. Well, okay, not yet. Because I don't do that yet. But, like my friend Meryl said...we get the kid we need. I now have all the inspiration and motivation in the world to, at the very least, put on a brave face and fake it. Because the last thing I want is to teach my son to feel less than, to hide from the camera, to stay inside when he's not looking his best.

You know, as I'm typing all of this, I'm realizing this isn't the first time I've had this epiphany. I live in a dorm full of 28 teenage girls. And time and time again, I've had to stop myself from making self-deprecating remarks about my body. I've had to reach for "being healthy" instead of "losing weight." I've forced myself not to fix my hair and put on contacts before opening my door in the morning. I come to dorm meetings in my pajamas. Not because it is comfortable--although it is--but because I want these girls to live with a real woman, one with frizzy hair and all, so that they get a quiet message that they can do the same. If not today, in high school, then one day. They can revel in their messy hair and naked face and mismatched socks and talk about their geeky days with fond affection for their former selves. They can snort when they laugh and laugh until they pee and open themselves up to know and be known.

But none of that has been hard for me, truthfully. Because I was never the popular, pretty girl. I somehow came to terms with that long ago. But my eyes? I can't quite say I've come to terms with them, although we've been on more friendly terms the last few years or so.

Pretty is subjective. Crossed eyes are not.

So yes, I think we get the kids we need. And yes, it seems more important now than ever before to have some perspective and some confidence and some balls. Because that's what I want my son to see and to learn and to mimic.

And so yes, my little Pirate and I ventured out running errands today, patch and all. And would you believe that was the highlight of the day?!

I had gotten a Christmas gift that I wanted to exchange for a different size, and so I patched and bundled Milo up set out on our adventure. On the way downstairs, I ran into my neighbor and her two-year-old son. My neighbor saw Milo wearing his glasses for the first time and exclaimed how cute they were. I don't think she even noticed the patch before she called her son over to admire Milo's glasses and how cute he looked in them. Her son, of course, saw the patch right away, about the same time she did, and asked what it was. She hesitated, and I explained that Milo was wearing a pirate patch to help make his other eye grow stronger. She acted like that was perfectly normal, a pirate patch. Of course. Her son nodded and smiled and checked it out and went back to being a rescue robot, cape a-swirling.

Milo and I went off toward a mall where the store I needed was located. I navigated the traffic and the parking garage. (You know how I feel about parking garages.) I even stopped to use google on my phone to make sure the store was, in fact, in that mall. I unpacked the stroller, the diaper bag, the car seat and baby, the water bottle, and the item I was returning and noted my parking level before heading to the elevator. Upon entering the mall, I could not, for the life of me, find a store directory so I wandered around two different floors before I gave in and asked for help. I went up to a cashier behind a register in one of the stores, and thought fleetingly about pulling the stroller alongside the counter in such a way as to showcase Milo's unpatched eye. But I didn't. The nice woman behind the counter told me apologetically that the store I needed was actually in the mall across the street. Of course. Incidentally, she didn't seem to notice Milo or his pirate patch. So I headed back down the elevator and found myself with several fellow passengers. I was acutely aware of Milo's patch. I felt protective and reached forward to adjust the sunshade a bit. I angled the stroller just so. I caught myself and put it back. I furtively looked to see if anyone was looking at him funny. Maybe one woman was. It was hard to tell. I was so absorbed that I got off on the wrong level. So I got another chance to ride the elevator and check out people checking out Milo. One woman made appreciative noises in his direction. Another looked mildly curious.

I got off on the wrong level again. Bewildered, I looked around. I was sure this one was right. I got back on the elevator and noticed the color coding of the buttons. Thank god for my visual memory at least. I was certain I was parked on the green level, no matter that it was B and not the E I thought it was. Which incidentally didn't exist anyway, since the garage only went to D.

So I got back in the car, drove across the street, got everything out again, and went in the other mall. I finally found the store I was looking for on the second floor (of course) and stopped a saleslady to ask about the item, and she went off to see if she could find it in the store for me. I admired this and that as I wandered around the store. I noticed that although there weren't the usual ripples of Milo adoration, there also weren't a lot of judgmental stares or curious questions. Most importantly, Milo was babbling and smiling as per usual. He smacked his lips at me. I clucked my tongue at him. He was satisfied. I was cautiously optimistic.

Of course, then the saleslady returned to tell me the item was from an outlet store and I'd have to return it to an outlet. But also that without a gift receipt, all they were likely to do was mail a store credit to my home address. Seriously? Even though I just wanted an exchange and even though it's the annual after-Christmas return season? And even though I drove to two malls with a PIRATE and wasted my whole day just to get ONE FREAKING ERRAND CROSSED OFF MY LIST?

But then Milo started rubbing his eyes in that cute way that signals nap time. He'd been wearing the patch IN PUBLIC for two hours.

And we had been together.

Smacking lips and clucking tongues and smiling and babbling.

So I figure today went exactly as it needed to. Maybe I'll just donate that gift.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Little Pirate

I told you I'm reading this book called Momma Zen (which I highly recommend) and I've been dog-earing pages that I want to revisit. One page includes the quote "I still have troubles. They're just not a problem." It's in a chapter about acceptance and how everything is just as it should be and would be just fine if not for our critical commentary. It suggests we "practice acceptance on yourself so you can be kinder with your child. Practice nonjudgmental awareness of your life so you can save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted disappointment. Practice greater faith and lesser is full of fits and starts. Some things are easy; some are not. Some things go and some things stop. Do your work; then set it down. There are no failures. Forgive and forget yourself." (page 41)

This chapter resonated with me because I know that I focus too much on my troubles and make them into problems, and I so admire the few people I know who seem to take everything in stride and with a good attitude. I do have impossible standards. And I never, never set my "work" down. And I make everything "work." And Milo, Michael and I--and pretty much everyone else that crosses my path--all suffer for it.

But take heart--awareness brings with it the possibility of change. Today I was home sick with Milo. The nanny is off this week, and I had taken time off as well, with visions of spending more joyful, work-free time with Milo in the aftermath of the hectic holidays. Instead, we stayed in bed until 1:30 in the afternoon. And then took another nap or two later in the day.

And every time I woke up, I thought of the presents strewn about the kitchen, mixed in with the dirty dishes. And the growing mound of laundry that needs doing. And how I had planned a fun outing with Milo and I was wasting my time off from work.

And then I stopped.

And I thought about how much my body needs sleep, and how much my son needs my comfort. And how much pleasure it brings me to cuddle with my son. Halfway between him and sleep is a wonderful, peaceful place to be. And so I lingered there and let the rest melt away.

And the dishes didn't get done, and neither did the laundry or the groceries or the outing. But if the point was to spend time with Milo, then everything worked out just the way I wanted it to.

But I can't pretend I'm not sitting here wishing that my house was clean. Because it would really make me feel better if it was. But I'm going to try really, really hard to focus on what matters this year and learn to let go a little bit.

I've been really struggling with Milo's eye condition, which is as of now still undiagnosed other than being farsighted. I was hoping that I wouldn't pass along my eye condition to Milo, but it does have a genetic component. Oh how much trouble my eyes were growing up. The coke bottle thick glasses that made me look every bit the dork that I am. The crossed eyes that elicited so much teasing. The self-consciousness that still prevents me from looking people in the eye...which also prevents me from remembering their name, which only leads to further self-consciousness. And the photos. I, the lover of keepsakes and photo shoots, can not take a good picture to save my life. One eye is always drifting off, and that's the only thing I ever see in the photo. Honestly, it kills me. I love pictures more than anyone! I just don't want to keep any that showcase my wandering eye.

And I sure don't want my son to go through all of that.

I had an eye doctor who was always so amazed at the amount of reading I do, given my condition. Most people without binocular vision apparently don't love to read because it's so much work for their brain to translate the images coming in from the eyes. It gives them headaches and fatigue. But reading has always been my refuge. I'm worried it somehow won't work that way for Milo. And I want it to. Because I credit my love of reading with most of my success in life.

So obviously I turned out okay. And I know that, of all the things your kid could be burdened with, this is not that big a deal. But then again--it's his EYES! You only get one set.

So I was especially paranoid about his eyes, and we started noticing them turning in pretty early, but everyone said all newborns' eyes do that, so we waited. But then at five months, my best friend gently commented that she had noticed too. It was getting more pronounced and consistent. I took Milo back to the pediatrician and she agreed we should have it looked at. In my time of need I turned to google, of course, to find that Children's Hospital Boston has a national reputation for pediatric ophthalmology...and an office ten minutes from my house. What luck! We got an appointment with a lovely man who took Milo's face in both hands and exclaimed how cute he was. I immediately liked him. He dilated Milo's eyes, and found that he was farsighted, so he prescribed three months of glasses and patching before we talk about surgery. To be honest, I was ready to leap to the surgery. Because I don't want my son's eyes to be crossed. I don't want him to look less than perfect. How's that for pressure to place on a six month old? What kind of mom am I? I had read that the surgery had the best chance of being successful if done before a year, because the brain is making neural pathways or some mumbo jumbo, and I know in my heart he'll need the surgery, so I'd rather do it sooner than later so it has the most chance of being successful.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they don't rush to slice open an infant's eyes. So we're patching Milo's right eye for 1-2 hours a day and he wears glasses daily, all day. I was so worried this would strain our relationship, as I imagined we'd fight Milo all day to keep the glasses on. I felt so bad because the day he was supposed to start wearing him he slept past the time I had to leave for work and the nanny had to put them on for the first time.

But she sent me a picture later that morning with a text that said he tried to take them off for about ten minutes, and then just moved on. That's my baby.

The patching is much the same. Milo hates having the patch put on, but once I get it in place, he lets himself be easily distracted and moves on to something interesting. Some days it irritates him more than others, and then we take it off after an hour or try again later.

We have yet to take him out with the patch on though. We time it around when we can be home playing with him. The nanny, I'm afraid to confess, is braver than we. Perhaps because it's not her kid. She brazenly takes walks with Pirate Milo and I both love and hate her for it. What is wrong with me? I've dared myself to talk about it with anyone and everyone because there's no shame in this. And everyone seems to know someone who has patched. (and lived.) But talking about it is one thing. Talking about it while my kid is right there for strangers to gawk at is another.

I'm working myself up to it.

The glasses are so much easier. They are "normal" enough, and truth be told, he is even cuter in glasses. Everyone says so. Except they don't seem to do much for the eye turn, which is just as pronounced.

I recently had an eye exam of my own, and I spoke with my doctor--who specializes in strabismus and vision therapy--about Milo. I was surprised to find him adamantly against the surgery I am in such a rush to get Milo signed up for. He says there is absolutely no research that says it's effective. That maybe it helps cosmetically in a temporary way but that many people need multiple surgeries and it does not create binocular vision. He said that vision therapy is much more likely to be effective, only it's never prescribed because it's not billable and insurance doesn't cover it. I cautiously asked about the cost...around $140 a pop, every few weeks, possibly for a few years. He also suggested taping over the middle part of both lenses in Milo's eyeglasses, forcing him to use both eyes all the time (whereas the patching only requires him to use one eye for a few hours a day.)

I hate myself for cringing at the thought of that kind of commitment. I think back to the allergy shots I had weekly for four years as a kid. They sucked for me, sure, but I had no where else to be. My poor mother, though...the scheduling havoc that must have caused! No wonder so many families opt for the one time surgery with the cosmetic results that are covered by insurance. It's not only more affordable, but also more convenient. Fast results! I want instant gratification where my baby's eyes are concerned. (And everywhere else, if I'm being honest.)

So he suggested I have my old eye doctor, who I had a longer relationship with, check Milo out. It turns out she is actually pretty famous because one of her adult patients recently wrote a book Fixing My Gaze about gaining binocular vision as an adult through vision therapy with this eye doctor. I had no idea! But she's only an hour and a half away and I trusted her (perhaps in no small part because she acted like I was a little bit of a miracle with my persistent love of reading) and so today I called and got Milo an appointment for a second opinion with her.

I had asked my pediatrician if I should be getting a second opinion and she had seemed at a loss. Many parents would, she conceded...but I had gone to Children's for the first opinion, and they're considered the best of the best. So now I have no idea what I'll do if my old eye doctor agrees with my new eye doctor that the surgery is pointless. How do you know who to trust?

I do know that I won't blink at spending the money (and time! ouch) on years of vision therapy for Milo. I read an article by the author of the Fixing My Gaze book about what it was like to see in 3D for the first time. I'll never get to know that, but I want my son to. I want him to look people confidently in the eye as he shakes their hand, and I want him to stand straight and proud in photos.

And that means that I have to consciously stop "hiding" his turned-in eye. I need to be okay with taking him out in public wearing an adhesive patch over one eye. I certainly don't want to be sending him some kind of subliminal messages that he should be ashamed of his eyes.

I didn't even realize how much I was until all this happened. I was so upset at the eye doctor's office that day. Michael let me spend hundreds of dollars on two pairs of eye glasses for Milo because I didn't like the ugly "safe" rubbery ones and wanted to get Milo the cute, metal frames instead. Despite the fact that once he starts crawling, he might be smushing metal frames into his face on a regular basis. Mommy of the year, here I come. Vain much? I can't help it. I want my baby to be as cute and perfect to the outside world as he is to me. I have no idea why I care so much what everyone else thinks about him, I really don't. All I know is that I couldn't stop crying that day and I didn't even know why. The whole episode just triggered such an intense, deep-seated emotional reaction in me.

And while I was explaining the whole thing to my current eye doctor, he looked me straight in the eye and told me Milo was not imperfect. And my heart lurched a little. I explained that I didn't want Milo to have the experiences I had. And he looked me in the eye again and told me I wasn't imperfect.

But the truth is, I think I am. I like to think I've come to terms with it, and most days it doesn't bother me at all. I've turned out just fine, after all, and I'd be happy as a clam if Milo finds the success and happiness I've found in life. But then there are days where I see myself in a photo and cringe too.

So the lesson in this must be somehow related to finding a deeper level of acceptance of my own eyes, so that I can offer that level of acceptance and kindness to my son, so that he can grow up feeling just as "normal" as the next kid.

After all..."we all have troubles. They're just not a problem anymore."

So I'm striving for that...not letting the troubles be a problem. Which means soon my fiercely-loved pirate and I will be hitting the streets, looking people right in the eye, and offering a cheery "ahoy, matey!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Letters to Milo (#3, 30 weeks old)

Oh what a month it's been! First, you started solid foods at 6 months...your first food was carrots...well, after the baby oatmeal, which doesn't really count as food. And apparently doesn't count as oatmeal, either, since it's NOT oatmeal and has no fiber in it. And also after that pumpkin I threw you in for a good photo opp in October, because you did chew on that quite a bit. Anyway, next you had squash, then we added cinnamon to it, which you really liked. Then you had sweet potatoes and peaches. Today you had banana-apricot-baby rice cereal and you seemed to love it. You made all kinds of excited noises, which made daddy laugh.

You also started sitting straight up at 28 weeks. One day you couldn't do it, and the next you could. It's crazy to watch as you learn new things so quickly. You've also gotten really good at scooching, especially when we put a toy just out of your reach. You're not quite crawling yet, but you can get where you want to go. Usually.

We noticed that sometimes one of your eyes tuns in, so we took you to the best eye doctor in Boston to get it checked out. It turns out you're very farsighted, so the doctor prescribed some glasses for you. I couldn't imagine how we'd keep glasses on you, but you've been a real trooper and adapted really well. You've only tried to take them off and eat them a few times. =) Everyone says you look really cute in them, and daddy and I agree. In fact, it's hard to imagine you without them now! The eye doctor also asked us to patch one of your eyes for a few hours a day to make sure you're using the weaker eye so it keeps getting stronger. You've been really good at that too. You don't like having the patch put on (who would?) but once it's on, you're okay with it and just move on to playing. Now daddy and I have added "pirate" to your growing list of nicknames, which include turtle, baby, peanut, peanut butter, bud/buddy, and Mr. Magoo (mostly because it rhymes with "I love you.")

You also had your first visit to the emergency room this month. I took you out shopping one day with girls from the dorm--we were buying warm clothes for homeless kids, and I was wearing you in the baby carrier. Some stranger lady yelled at me for not putting socks on you in December. Thanks for getting me in trouble there, Mr. I-Hate-Wearing-Socks. Anyway, you were having fun and seemed happy, but after we got home, daddy went to get you ready for bed and realized you felt warm and it turned out you had a 103 fever. We were supposed to be getting ready for a holiday party in the dorm, but we weren't feeling very cheerful...we were so worried about you! We called the doctor and they said we shouldn't worry because you didn't have any other symptoms and were in good spirits. But then your temperature rose to 104.2 and we called again and they said we should bring you to the ER.

They had to take urine and blood samples to run some tests and it took them three tries to get the blood and you were screaming your angry little head off like we've never heard you scream before. It made us so sad. I tried to distract you with singing and I thought daddy was going to rip you right off the table and away from those nurses! Afterward, he said that it seemed like I wasn't even upset. And the truth was, I wasn't upset. I was so totally focused on you and comforting you that I didn't have room for any other feelings. Motherhood is like that, I guess.

In the end, the doctors concluded it was a virus and we just had to wait it out. The nurser were impressed that you stopped crying as soon as I was allowed to pick you up. They said it was clear that we have a special connection. i was glad because I figure it means you feel safe, secure and taken care of. Your fever lasted another two days, and then it gave way to a cough and throwing up, which was so sad to watch becasue there's no medicine we can give you to make you feel better. But that only lasted a day or two, and then you were back to your old self.

We took you to Bass Pro Shops (of all places) to get your picture taken with Santa Claus and it was so much fun. People kept coming up to us to tell us how cute you are. It was like being with a famous person! One lady even said you should be a model. You were wonderful with Santa and we got a super cute smiling picture and the family that was after us in line was jealous because their little girl cried when she met Santa. I suggested the parents hold her in the picture and they said they already have THREE photos like that...this was their fourth try. Yikes. Just remember that when daddy tells you I tortured you with photo shoots, peanut.

It was so much fun celebrating your first Christmas! You "helped" me decorate the Christmas tree--it took three days to finish, with me hanging the balls and you in the baby carrier and me pretending you were guiding the placement of the ornaments. You kept me company in your high chair while I baked, and you went shopping with me for hours on end without complaining a bit. You celebrated your first Chanukah and loved seeing the lit candles. And we took you to the town where mommy grew up because there's a special house there, decorated with 30,000 Christmas lights. We met Alexis, Matt, and baby Liam there, but Liam was asleep so he didn't get to see the lights. Maybe next year you can show him around.

We were heading to NY for Christmas Eve, so we celebrated Christmas as a family that morning and you got your presents from mommy and daddy. You were so much fun to watch as you opened the presents, which we wrapped in tissue paper to make it easier for you. You seemed to love your activity cube and stuffed giraffe best. Then we went to visit Linda, Joe, Sammy, and Matty for Christmas Eve. I used to babysit for Sam and Matt, so it's funny to think that I need a babysitter for you already! Anyway, they adore you and spoiled you with way too many toys, including a giant fuzzy frog chair and an activity table--I have no idea where we will put them in this tiny apartment!

We woke up super early on Christmas morning to go to Aunt Tiffany's house. Santa had dropped your presents off there, and your favorite was a plush flower pot toy that makes music when you touch the flowers and it lights up as well! Aunt Tiff and her family got you lots of good presents too...but you loved the satin-backed cozy blankie best (of course--it runs in our family!). Uncle Larry got you some fun musical instruments and grandma and grandpa got you a super special baby spoon with your name on it. It's beautiful. Then we went to your great grandma's house where you got even more presents! I think we will donate some of your toys so that little kids that don't have many toys will have some new things to play with, because you have so much and it's important to think about how you can help others.  Plus, there's no more room in the toy basket.

You've really changed the way we think about the holidays, my little peanut. There were no presents I wanted this year because all I wanted was to spend time with you and daddy. Daddy took today off of work and we didn't wind up doing anything special. We fed, napped, and bathed you and we played with you. Just a regular day. But after you went to sleep, daddy said he wished we'd win the lottery so he didn't have to work so much and could spend more time with us. I went and bought a lottery ticket after that.

You recently discovered consonants and your babbling has gotten so much cuter as a result. We giggle a lot when you start "talking." It's impossible not to. Especially when you make your mad/frustrated "nanananana" sound. I think daddy is pleased that you discovered "dadadadada" before "mamamamama" but I don't mind at all.

Alright, time for mommy to go to bed. I hope you've had the best first Chanukah and Christmas, baby Milo.

Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meditation Milo and Mindful Momma, All Blissed Out

I just want you to know I haven't fallen into an abyss. Much.

I've actually written 342 seriously witty, clever, inspirational blog posts in the 6 weeks since I last published. I just didn't have time to write them down.

I'm reading this book called Momma Zen. I highly recommend it, especially for new parents. I found it while looking for some guidance on mindful mothering. Because I am anything but mindful these days. As evidenced by the fact that I went out to lunch with some of my new-mom friends, after having carefully prepared everything I might need to entertain, feed, and distract Milo during the grocery shopping trip I was planning for after lunch. I had the carrier, the spoon, the shopping cart cover, two toys...etc etc.

But after ordering up $30 worth of food and dessert at lunch, I came to the mortifying realization that I had forgotten one key ingredient for a successful shopping venture: my wallet. oops.

Thank goodness I was with other new moms, who offered compassion rather than judgment, and happily offered up not only money for my lunch, but ALSO for my grocery needs, since they know all too well the effort and timing that went into planning the grocery outing.

I am still basking in their generosity.

But back to the mindfulness bit. If I ever carried a pen with me, this new book would be all underlined up already. I swear it's going to change my life. But I don't have the energy to go into all that now...maybe next post. For now I just wanted to tell you that it's already working. Here are two little examples:

I went for a pedicure with a friend tonight...a super rare outing without my little sidekick. It was lovely. We chatted, ran a few necessary errands (so much easier and faster without the peanut!) and came out the other side with charming toes (silver for me, purple for her). What more could you ask for?

I got home and (after pumping) decided to "give up" on being productive and take a bath instead of wrapping presents or doing work or cleaning the house so my nanny can't see what a slob I am. (Who am I kidding here?)

And that's when I noticed I had messed up BOTH big toes of my lovely silver pedicure.

But get this: I didn't care one iota. My pedicure was imperfect, but in the same moment I realized that, I also realized that it had absolutely no bearing on the experience of getting the pedicure, which was still just as perfect as it had been an hour earlier.

Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but let me tell you there have been plenty of days where the idea of wasting $35 and coming out the other side with messy toes would have sent me over the edge of the cliff.

So I climbed into my hot bath with my new book and prayed that Milo wouldn't wake up for an hour, since it seems like he always needs me about ten minutes after I submerge myself in a bath.

It was my lucky night...Milo lasted one hour and two minutes. Ask and ye shall receive, eh?

I dried off and went in to my hungry baby, who immediately offered some kisses and hugs and nestled into my warm neck. I curled up in the rocking chair with him, paying attention to the angle of his body and neck, trying to make it as comfortable as possible for him. And, instead of losing myself in my iPhone/email/facebook...I smoothed my baby's head like my mom used to do when I was sick. I focused on his breathing. I tried to guess how long he had been nursing (4 minutes, though it felt like 20). In fact, I felt exactly the same way I had on my meditation retreat last summer...Is it okay to scratch that itch? This isn't super comfortable. But it is peaceful. Only now I'm sleepy. I wonder how long it's been. Is the bell gonna ring soon? Surely it's been an hour by now.

Yet another way Milo is my meditation bell.

But then he stopped nursing and settled into the crook of my arm, his face turned toward mine. I got to watch sleep tiptoe down his face. And the quick smiles of early sleep. Even a little giggle. I couldn't resist a little cuddle and even risked kissing his cheek. He stayed asleep. I couldn't resist texting Michael. I was so brimming with joy, I needed to share it. I wanted him to come in and experience it as well. I have this (probably unfounded) fear that Michael does not get these moments with Milo because he works full time and can't nurse Milo. I so want him to feel this unbridled joy and awe.

I never, ever thought I'd be the kind of mother that thinks my child is LITERALLY a miracle and wants to strap him in a baby carrier and take him EVERYWHERE with me, even to work. Except I don't really want to work. But it turns out, this is the kind of mother I am. And I am not the least bit bothered by this surprise.

I had a recent graduate come and visit on her break from college, and after spending a few minutes with Milo and I, she commented on the fact that mothering suited me...I can't remember her exact words. I wish I had written them down, because I found them incredibly uplifting and even validating. (Yes, I let myself feel validated by a 19-year-old. Go me.) She thought it was immediately clear that I was meant for this. That it came naturally.

And I was proud.

Anyway, eventually I decided that staying in the rocking chair with Milo all night was--though endlessly enthralling--ultimately unsustainable and unwise.

And, as is his recent custom, he woke up upon being placed in his crib and cried. Only this time, I wasn't impatient for him to sleep, so that I could sleep. I felt like I had all the time in the world to wait for him to soothe himself to sleep.

And indeed I did. Do.

But now that he IS asleep, I'd just be stupid to stay up typing on this little keyboard here. So I'm seizing the moment for sleep. Hopefully, I'll make time to write again tomorrow. But if I don't, I know you'll understand.