Monthly Archives: February 2010

Why mom blogs can be like car accidents.

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When I was pregnant, I started keeping up with a few “mom blogs.” I found them useful and safe– I could find out whether what I was experiencing was “normal” without actually having to ask anyone, a sort maternal voyeurism, I suppose. I’ve since stopped reading lots of them, but haven’t gotten around to deleting a remaining few from my reader.

Why?

Because some mom blogs are like car accidents: You just can’t look away.

The mom blogs, sad to say, tend to fall into one of two categories: (1) the blogs that lovingly document the child’s every breath (9mos probably falls into this category) and (2) those that openly howl into cyberspace wondering how in the world they got themselves into this pickle called parenthood, digital diaries of maternal lament.

Last week, I came across a post in which a mommy blogger cited a statistic indicating that 60% of couples divorce after they become parents. She wrote about how she could understand why– her husband wasn’t pulling his weight as a parent, in her opinion, and she was at wit’s end. As he sat in his home office, typing away, she stood in the kitchen fuming that he hadn’t taken out the garbage, washed any dishes, changed any diapers recently, or given her a break. Instead of talking with her husband about her frustration and expectations, she paced in the kitchen trying to communicate her feelings telepathically… and then went to blog about them.

Something about this made me deeply uncomfortable, and yet I kept reading. I was strangely fascinated by this woman’s experience, to which I couldn’t relate at all– except for the feeling of eternal sleep deprivation, I’ve found parenthood to be far more extraordinary than I could have ever imagined, and Francisco is, as he ever has been, present, engaged, and fully, equally involved.

Then I made the mistake of reading the comments. “Amen, sister!” “Right on!” “Men are scumbags!” “Pigs will fly before a man remembers to put a garbage bag in the can after he takes out the trash–if he takes it out!” The comments were passionate, filled with multiple exclamation points and allusions of sisterhood that probably should have scared the lone male commenter (who defended his gender in a remarkably non-defensive way) off.

On the one hand, I wanted to comment, to stand up in defense of men, first of all (or at least some of them). And I wanted to stand up in defense of babies– this woman seemed to be nearing the end of her rope–her baby’s cries grated on her and were, as she described them “horrid” and “annoying.” But ever the voice of reason, Francisco stopped me. “Are you crazy?” he asked. “That woman doesn’t want to hear that you think I’m a good partner or a good father. She doesn’t want to hear that Mariel never cries. She just wants to vent to whoever’s on the other side of the computer.”

He was right, of course, and so I didn’t comment.

A few days later, the same mom blogger wrote that she was “finally” getting away with her husband for a much needed vacation, and that they’d be bundling up their baby, who’s about six months, and leaving it with her parents… and did I mention that she has a terribly contentious relationship with her parents? She imagined their vacation as a moment for them to reconnect, to enjoy candlelight dinners and walk hand in hand through a romantic scene.

All, I suppose, before going back to their car wreck of a life, which, of course, I’ll be reading about.

The Ambassador of Babies

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We were on the train. Mariel was napping, I thought, but then her head popped up and she peeked out from beneath a sarong wrapped around the Snugli, and flashed a big smile at the woman sitting next to us.

“Oh my God, you’ve got some serious mojo,” the woman said, adding, “I don’t really like babies. But you… you….”

Baby “schedules,” eyes like sandbags, and Cuban lullabies

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The Schwietert-Collazo household has been a wild place the past few days.

Back at the beginning of winter, we called the city to file a report about a heat problem in our building. By the time the inspector showed up, days later, the heat was working. But he decided that he needed to send some more inspectors out to test for lead paint. They showed up, weeks later. Then the lead paint report showed up.

And then the workmen showed up, weeks later. At. 7. A.M. Three days in a row.

The work they needed to do to rid our apartment of lead paint necessitated Francisco shifting items from one room to other in precarious piles and required me to take Mariel out for hours at a time while the workmen did their thing.

Days later, we’re lead free but our eyes are like sandbags.

For some reason, Mariel has not been sleeping. After sleeping through the night once last week, she went on a three day-three night tear of not sleeping more than about six hours. Total. Francisco and I have taken turns looking at each other with bloodshot eyes and sighing, “I have got to sleep. Now.”

Dr. Felix, Mariel’s fantastic pediatrician, told us last week that it’s time to start introducing a schedule. A routine. It sounds nice in theory, but it’s not easy to introduce because it requires transitioning out of whatever this period without a routine has been.

Part of establishing a routine involves something we’ve actually been doing for a while now. Every night Francisco gives Mariel a puppet show. It involves a varied cast of characters: Piglet, Cookie Monster, a hippopotamus, Giffy the Giraffe, and a few other members of the stuffed animal menagerie. He sings Cuban lullabies and tells Cuban fairy tales and Mariel bicycles her legs and moves her arms around like the paddles of a windmill, grasping for the puppets and giggling, her eyes squinching up and her nose wrinkling in joy.

Cuban kids, I think, have got it good. Whereas lullabies and fairy tales in English are dreary, macabre, and downright scary (ashes in “Ring Around the Rosy”, ovens in “Hansel and Gretel”, and branches breaking in “Rock-A-Bye, Baby,”), Cuban lullabies and fairy tales are filled with bread and cinnamon and smiles and roses and nothing that would give anyone traumatic nightmares.

It’s one of the best parts of my day, this time when I watch him sing songs I don’t know, when her big, shining ojazos look at him with so much attention. And when I’m in bed with the pillow over my head, muerta de sueno (dead tired), I fall asleep listening to him walk our creaky floors, singing “Duermete mi nina, duermete mi amor, duermete pedazo de mi corazon.” (“Go to sleep, my baby, go to sleep, my love, go to sleep, little piece of my heart.”)