October 2010

Who knew it started so early—at 14 months?  But it does. Oh, boy.  Little Man will literally throw himself on the floor and scream if he doesn’t get his way.  And there really isn’t a good way to reason with a toddler (even if mine isn’t walking yet). They don’t understand. While Little Man understands much more than he says, he doesn’t understand that touching mommy’s computer at work isn’t a good thing.

I actually wish I made a better salary so I could enroll Little Man in daycare.  The first year, bringing him to work with me was great. He slept a lot and I had my baby with me. I was with him. What could be better?

But now I realize he needs more socialization and would benefit from an environment that is structured around children. Not that I think he’d nap better. I actually would be worried he wouldn’t. But he likes company when he plays. And most of his tantrums are because I’m sitting at my desk, trying to work, and he wants me sitting on the floor with him while he plays with his toys. He’s quite social and I think would benefit from being around other toddlers.

However that’s not happening any time soon.  There’s a lot of transition in our lives right now and no major changes, except for one that we’ve been discussing, will happen before next Spring. So for now I’m just going to have to “Make it Work” (as Tim Gunn would say) and hope for the best.

While this blog started out as a place for me to write about my thoughts on motherhood and my experiences with my only child, it’s also about ME (lately several posts have been unrelated to being a mom). Bullying has been a big thing in the news lately. Today people are wearing purple in support of bullying (I guess purple because the LGBT community chose the color as a symbol and that boy from Rutgers was Gay). But bullying is not necessarily a “Gay” thing.

I barely remember a time when I wasn’t teased and tormented.  Perhaps not the first 5 years of my life, but I remember DREADING going to school when I was only 7 or 8 years old. The people who lived in my neighborhood were just cruel. The other children called me Cheese. Seriously. Cheese.  Why? Because this girl who lived down the block from me, Alyssa, ate cheese on the bus and because she cried. She was Cheese 1 and I was Cheese 2.  Then she moved away (good for her!) and I was the lone target of the bullies in our neighborhood.

The girls next door were a few years older. I remember they asked me to play hospital with them. I was SO excited. They wanted me to play. So I went over and they had me lie on the picnic bench like it was a table. They wrapped me in bandages. And then they poked sewing needles in my arms. I was only 8.

I was told I was ugly. I was told that nobody liked me. In the Winter, I was pelted by ice balls. In the Spring, I was shoved down into puddles. There was a school bus stop just across the street from my house, but I walked to the other bus to be with my friends Michelle and Jennifer as support.  I remember in 6th grade that this boy, Russell was his name, had a big party and he invited ALL the kids—except for me and a few others, who were all my friends. I did have friends, but we were the misfits. It hurt so badly.  And I don’t remember ever telling my parents what was going on. Or if I did, I may not have told them everything. I’m not sure why.

Middle School was better.  I made more friends as the 5 elementary schools in our town combined. So for two years (7th and 8th grade) I was happier. I met my best friend there and we’re still friends today, 27 years later. But of course that didn’t last and I went to high school, losing many of my friends since we had a regional district and most of the girls I liked went to the other high school. Great.

High School SUCKED the first two years, since the bullies who had tormented me were older and still there. I remember three of them flicking cigarette ashes in my hair on the school bus home (the bus driver was no help, they never are) and I ran screaming off the bus to my BFF’s bus (she lived in another area of town) and went home to her house. That time I told my mom, who then told the other girls’ moms what they had done. They never physically hurt me again, but the emotional abuse was torture.

So for years I was told I was ugly and undesirable. I believed it. So I never dated in high school and only barely dated in college. I gave a weak attempt at suicide when I was 16 (downed most of an aspirin bottle). Thankfully it didn’t work.  But I’m not going to give a “bio” of my life here. It will be too long. But it did get better. I made friends. I found my niche when I went to Hofstra. But I still felt inadequate. And I didn’t have serious relationships and I sabotaged the ones I did have. My self-esteem was shot. And when I turned 30, I was clinically depressed.  Thank goodness for therapy and my dog Casey. Seriously, both of them helped turn things around.

So there are reasons I didn’t meet Dude until I was 36.  I really didn’t date seriously until I was 34… I had no faith in myself. And even today, I often feel like I don’t deserve to be happy.

Bullying affects your life. And sometimes you’re just bullied for being sensitive. Bullies like to make people cry.

If there is one thing I hope to do with my son, it’s to teach him NOT to be a bully. It’s to teach him to treat others with respect. And to tell me or his father if he’s being bullied, so we can figure out ways to combat it. I pray he’s not treated like I was. I started out like he did. All smiles and friendly. And while I’m still outgoing, there is always a knot in my stomach when I talk to new people. I don’t want Little Man to have that knot.

There will always be mean people, but I do hope things can get better. At the very least, all the news on bullying have brought this problem out in the open. And perhaps as my son gets older, there will be more ways to combat it.

The other day when I wrote about my friendship ending, Little Man turned 14 months old. I’m not taking photos each month like I did the first year—though I still take quite a lot of pics—so I decided to share a bit of what he’s doing now, as an “almost-toddler.” I say “almost” because he’s NOT walking yet. Yeah, I realize he’s not behind per se (especially as I didn’t walk until 17 months and Dude was about 18 months) but when we go to gymnastics class at the Y and all the others are walking (and, yes, they’re older), I feel like something is wrong.

But he does talk. Sort of. At least Dude and I and people close to Little Man understand him. He can say:

  • UpDown (he knows what UP and DOWN means and says them both, but likes to say it as one word)
  • Mama
  • Dada (though Dude thinks he doesn’t say it or know who he is)
  • Nana
  • Daw (Dog)
  • Duck
  • Don Duck (Donald Duck)
  • Maa (for Moo and Cow)
  • Ah Dun (All Done)
  • Dat (That)
  • Baba (Bottle)
  • Ah-wah (Agua, from my Dominican coworker who adores Little Man)
  • Hola (He says it in Spanish but no Hello yet)
  • Hah Daw (Hot Dog from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse)

I may edit this list as I think of other words. I want to be sure to remember this… since I forget things so quickly.

Little Man also got his 7th tooth on Thursday (bottom left lateral incisor finally broke through). He hadn’t cut a bottom tooth since he was 6 months old! No molars yet, but you can see where they will eventually erupt. And I guess tooth #8 will show up soon (the other bottom lateral). He eats pretty well, but I still worry if he’s getting enough protein. He loves his carbs.

In other stats, he’s still in size 4 diapers and he’s wearing 18 month clothing—unless it’s cut small, like Polo or BabyGap for shirts. His torso is still longer than his legs. I’m not sure when or if that will change.  Most of his wardrobe is from Carter’s, which I find fits him quite well. But Gap and Old Navy has some really cute stuff.

So my baby is becoming more and more of a boy. 14 months… wow.

I had a very good friend in college. Our friendship started when we met at orientation, a few months before our Freshman year began. While our political views were opposite, we had enough in common to maintain a friendship for years beyond college and with a distance of hundreds of miles.

She was always a better friend than I. She remembered everything I said and she was thoughtful in asking about people I knew and about my family. I’m not saying she was perfect, because she wasn’t. But she gave more than I did. And a few years ago, I let her down by goofing off online when I was on the phone with her and just not being there for her. So she cut me out of her life. I tried to make amends, but I recently found out that my attempts were not enough for her.

She kept emailing me and sending gifts for Little Man. Very thoughtful, but we hadn’t talked since I told her I was pregnant (and she quickly got me off the phone). I truly believed she wanted me out of her life and I couldn’t figure out why she kept including me in her mass emails and sending my son gifts. So I wrote a note basically saying I was confused to why she kept in touch that way when it seemed she wanted me out of her life. And I asked her to stop sending gifts for Little Man if she didn’t want our friendship to continue.

I don’t regret sending my note. But I did get what I asked for. She sent a cold letter basically telling me off for my behavior. She was right, I let her down. But I’m tired of being beat up over it. And I’d rather her hate me and cut me out of her life than feel so uncomfortable when I heard from her. She does. It’s gone. A friendship over.

I hope my other friend, who I recently hurt, will forgive me. But I’m a coward. I haven’t called or written. I’m tired of being hurt. And I’ve been hurt way too much by others. All the recent news of bullying reminds me of my childhood and teenage years. So to think that *I* hurt people the way I was hurt… well, that sucks.

Before I had children, I would have said no. No, of course it wouldn’t change me. I’d still be the same person I was before but with added responsibilities. Well, that isn’t the case.

Before I was a mom, I’d drive all over the place to see my friends. And I had these grandiose plans to just take Little Man with me. But he’s a fussy napper and doesn’t necessarily travel well (beyond 30 minutes in the car). So I’ve canceled plans with friends at the last minute and now have probably ruined a few friendships as well. It’s like I freeze and panic. I never did that before. But now, all of a sudden, it’s like I’m unable to do things on my own because I worry about Little Man and how he’ll react–or how I’LL react due to the lack of sleep (he wakes up early) if I’m out too late.

So I’ve changed. Not always for the better. And I’m not sure how to let my friends know that I don’t mean to hurt them with my indecisiveness. I love my friends. But I know I’ve let a few of them down in the last several months and I’m not sure they will accept my apologies. Perhaps if I’d only done it once, they would. But you know that saying: Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, shame on me? These friends must feel like they are fools for thinking I’d be there.

It sucks. It really does. Because I know I’m making these poor choices and it stems from fear but I really can’t convey this to my friends. I think my friends who are mothers understand (they say they do) and my best friend does (but we’ve known each other for 27 years) but a few of my friends may not.

So I hate that I haven’t changed for the better. I’m still me. And I’m a good mother. And I’m not a bad person. But some of these changes have been for the worse.