Saturday, April 23, 2005

Rubber Ducky

I was just saying to Nick last night that ducks have become central figures in my life as of late. For some reason, ducks are associated with babies.

Genny’s Graco swing is blue with yellow ducks, as was her favorite (okay, my favorite) pair of flannel jammies that no longer fit. There’s The Fuzzy Duckling book in the regular version and in the appended and waterproofed bath copy. There are the three sizes of rubber ducky tub toys. There are all the ducks in the Baby Einstein videos. And of course, there are all the little yellow duckies that waddle their fuzzy little butts through my dreams at night.

And what’s with the adding of “ie”-sound to the end of so many nouns? Why must I say yellow duckies? Or cute doggy? Or worst of all—poopy and poopsies? That “ie”-sound certainly does not make the offending subject any sweeter.

Words must rhyme, too. It’s cutie patootie. It’s jelly belly. It’s lunch munch. I accidentally called Genevieve Missy Pissy this morning. You never know what rhyme is going to pop out of your mouth, which can be dangerous with so many ducks lying about the house.

Nick and I even call each other Mom and Dad when Genny’s not around. We use cute sing-songy voices when they aren’t called for at all. I graduated valedictorian from my college for Goodness sakes. What has happened to me? Where has my brain gone? And will it show back up again when it’s time for me to start graduate school in the fall, or will I be introducing myself as Sheilie Wheelie?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Stroller Posse

Today was a working day for me. I dropped Genny off at her babysitter’s and then headed to the city to teach yoga. After work, it was on to the Jackson Heights Parents Group where Genevieve gets to mix and mingle with the toddler-set and I get to speak with other adults.

Walking back home afterwards, we had a bit of a stroller posse going. The four mommies pushing their lazing babes along 34th Avenue. We formed a gang and slid along the silent streets. Margot suggested tagging our name “JHPG” along everything our stroller wheels touched. All we needed were some stencils and some bright primary spray paints. We could envision ourselves visiting other neighborhoods, leaving our childish splashes for all babies and mommies to see.

Watch out—here come the mommies. Make way for baby. Push, push, stroll, stroll. Get out of our way.

And then it hits me, like a flung Kix from Genny’s little fist—I am now one of those women. You know whom I mean. Those women who get in your way on the city streets by pushing their strollers slowly past every Baby Gap and Children’s Place store. Those women who can’t shuffle their strollers up the subway stairs fast enough for you to make your train. Those women whom you imagine have it so good—sipping Starbucks as they loll around the park with plenty of free time to run errands and have manicure and pedicures.

Actually, I’m speaking about my own mommy pet peeves. The few times I manage to drag myself to the city I find myself silently cursing the Big City moms pushing their $750 Bugaboo strollers. I can’t call them out on the Starbucks though because I must admit I do have a bit of an affectionate spot in my heart for a certain Mr. Frappucino. And I did splurge a week ago and have a manicure and pedicure, but I only do it a few times a year. And I even felt guilty the entire time instead of just relaxing and allowing myself to enjoy the experience. That wasn’t very yogic of me at all.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Not Such a Bad Mom

I often place Genny in the hallway where I can see her while I use the bathroom. This morning I did just that. What was unusual was that she crawled toward me. Gen has been struggling with pre-crawling for months. And now, today, on her 11-month birthday, she crawled.

I was strolling her to the park when it actually hit me…I’m not such a bad mom after all. She must have done her first crawl yesterday morning when she lunged off the bed. That’s why the accident happened.

As I walked through the neighborhood today I was greeted by a few moms I know who all had baby falling out of bed stories to share. I now know that I’m not the first mom to have watched in horror as her child fell just far enough out of her reach to save.

Genny seemed to be feeling fine today. And, so, yes—the crawling. She crawled across the living room. She crawled across the kitchen. She tried to eat cat food.

It’s amazing how she grows in such leaps and bounds. It seemed like she was stuck in the same in-between crawling stage for at least three months and then for her to all of a sudden just crawl, without any more “baby steps”, is bizarre. But then I guess that’s how mastering skills works, even for adults—we practice forever and seem to be getting nowhere and then all of a sudden, we’re suave experts.

Perhaps this is true for motherhood, too. But if it is, I don’t know where I am in the learning process. It’s almost like I begin each day brand new, helpless and unable to move and then as the day unwinds I find myself figuring out when to put Genny down for her naps, what and how much to feed her and how to keep her occupied. Then by the time that it’s her bedtime I have achieved mastery, for the day.

I’m an expert mom, tonight. I do find joy in that, but it also makes me aware that perhaps I’m not becoming expert at anything else. I have no time for myself—for my writing.

I’m writing now. This blog keeps me writing, if just this little bit every day. I’m finally oiling myself up again. Let this little bit of writing, this little bit of “me” time sustain me through motherhood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Head Trauma

Just for the record, head trauma is not the description a mother wants to hear about her child.

I had been planning to take Genny to the park and then have lunch with a friend and her baby. I placed Genny on the middle of the bed and turned around, flipped my hair over and brushed it up into a ponytail. As I turned back around to the bed, Genny was just diving off.

She landed flat on her face and began to scream and cry. I tried to nurse her, but her eyes started closing and her body went limp. Shoving the stroller along the bumpy sidewalks of Jackson Heights on the way to Elmhurst Hospital—Genny threw up.

After standing and sweating at a registration desk for fifteen minutes, I almost passed out. Meanwhile, Genevieve was just burrowing her head against my shoulder, not normal behavior for her at all. The doctors decided to do a CAT scan just to make sure everything was okay.

She looked so tiny all wrapped up in the white sheet, cocooned against the metal tube of the CAT scan machine. We had to step out of the room while they zapped her. I leaned against the long hallway’s wall holding Nick’s hand. Being in the hospital brought up too many bad memories of our past year together—Nick’s mom passed away the same week Genny was born and a cousin of Nick’s lost her baby in a drowning.

Biting its way through my brain was the thought that Nick must think I’m a bad mom. I kept seeing Genny falling over and over again in my head. If only I hadn’t turned my back on her. If only I had realized she would one day learn to crawl all of a sudden and maybe take me by surprise.

While we waited for Genny to wake up from the sedation, the results came back—everything looked fine.

What if everything hadn’t been fine? What if Genevieve had been seriously brain damaged? How would I have forgiven myself?

Nick said he doesn’t blame me. And I know he means that. And I know that accidents happen, but I felt like they would never happen to my baby when I was around. I can hold guilt against myself for what happened or I can learn from my mistake and not let it happen again. With a baby though, there is no way to totally protect her from the world. Genny is going to fall again whether I’m around or not.

She’s sleeping peacefully now, albeit with a rug burn tattooed across her forehead. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a calmer day.

Good Morning

Genevieve is screeching in the other room. My annoying cat, Luke, whom Nick likes to call Lucifer, is crawling over my lap, the computer and the desk. It feels like an insanely unfunny comedy where all the evils of my brain have marched out of my ear and bit me on my ass.

And believe it or not, there’s a moment of silence. I don’t know how long it will last, or if chewing on that computer cord will electrocute Luke. I need to remind myself again that this, too, shall pass. I will get a full night’s sleep. Genny will nap on schedule. Luke will cough up that poisonous spider plant offshoot he just munched down.

It’s another new day of taking care of my baby. Another new day of riding out this feeling of depressed sleepiness that is making my eyeballs feel sticky as hot tar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Feeling the Buzz

Today I’m feeling that buzzing, boiling urge to be doing something more with my life. I’m feeling like I should be more motivated, but I’m having a hard time just enjoying the day to begin with. I find myself counting down the hours until Genny’s naps and daydreaming about her bedtime.

I want to be able to enjoy this part of my life. I don’t want to be constantly wishing I had more freedom until finally I get it and then realize what a lucky thing I had now.

I want to pretend that it’s the future and my busy, creative and fulfilling life has driven me to rent a time machine to transport myself back to the present where I can just enjoy my alone and home time with my daughter. Can I do that? Can I convince myself that this time is a gift without the benefit of the future?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Back to Therapy

I finally made it back to my psychiatrist today. I hadn't been there since July, two months after my daughter's birth. My normal depression had become compounded by postpartum and I found it necessary to go back onto anti-depressants. I've been on a very low dosage because I'm breastfeeding, but my old scary-depressed tape loops have been playing in my head again, so we're upping my dosage a bit.

Genny is down to nursing only about three or four times a day now, which is good. And bad. She's growing up so quickly.

Pushing her stroller home today after visiting Travers Park I asked her if she'd like me to put her hat on. There was a slight breeze kicking up.

"No." Simple and clear, but very unlikely. I stopped and asked her to say it again, but then all she said was, "Baa, bah, baaa..."

I have the distinct feeling that she understands more than she lets on. I realize that before I know it she'll be snooping around our apartment, digging through old photographs of me that appeared in magazines. Instead of being surprised by a single word coming out of her mouth, I'll be surprised by questions like, "Mommy, why aren't you wearing any clothes in this picture?"

I haven't figured out yet how I will talk about my past. I don't know what the proper age she'll need to be before I can discuss those kinds of issues with her. I'm counting on learning as I go. And I'm hoping that she'll be a very understanding and loving young woman. Loving me no matter what my life has been.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Welcome to my Blog

The girl voted “Most Shy” in high school swung open the blackened-out door with the “No Fat Women Allowed” sign and entered the darkness. I slipped on my stripper stilettos and danced in my underwear for a room full of drinking men. For every dollar bill that I clutched, another word was recorded into my journal, where I tried to make sense of what I was witnessing, feeling, and becoming.

I now find myself fully clothed sitting at a laptop beginning a blog about being a mom who once shed her clothes for a living. The only men who pant after my naked breasts are my fiance and my daughter. I wear comfortable shoes. And the only exotic poses I find myself striking are when I am teaching yoga.

I now find myself living an ordinary life as a new mother, but life does not feel simple by any means.

I struggle every day to fully embrace who I was and who I have become.

I diligently try to keep my eyes open to get a little writing done in between nursing, teaching and taking care of my home.

I wonder how I will manage to finish my coming-of-age memoir, All this Useless Beauty: My Life as Exotic Dancer, attend graduate school in the fall, take care of my baby and have a fullfilling personal life.

And I wonder if anyone will want to read a blog about how all of this past experience of being an actress, a model, a dancer affects my life now in some way every day.

While I write about all of my experiences and revelations during the years I worked in the adult entertainment business for my memoir, I will journal here about the issues that arise for me in the present--from living in Queens with my fiance, Nick, and my 11-month-old daughter, Genevieve, to figuring out why I have this need to write about it all and share it with the world.