Perfect Moment

In this week’s Perfect Moment Monday, Lori asked for a time when a person reflected yourself back to yourself.

The best compliment I ever got came on the heels of the worst insult, both from the same person.

Regular readers will have a good guess as to that person’s identity: DH’s mother.

When Burrito and Tamale were new, we had a series of visits from relatives and friends to help us through those overwhelming, hazy early days of round-the-clock feedings.

There was one visit that I was dreading. In some ways it was better than anticipated, but in most ways my MIL was just as unhelpful and unpleasant as I knew she would be. DH even had to leave town on business for a couple of days, leaving me alone with her without him to act as a buffer.

At one point, she gave me the single worst insult I’ve ever received. It was obviously rooted in her own insecurities, but I didn’t know it was possible for one sentence to simultaneously debase my career and my mothering. She’s very talented with her insults.

Then, just a few hours later, she gave me the best compliment I’ve ever received. It was magnified by the fact that although she’s quick to spout opinions, those opinions are rarely positive. There’s not a lot of praise that crosses her lips.

She said that she’s never seen someone who is as good a mother as I am. That I am so attentive to their needs and so calm. That it makes her calm just to watch me with them.

She is probably the least responsive and least calm person I know, and I was surprised that she could even identify those as positive traits.

It’s very hard to feel competent in those first few weeks, especially with twins. A little praise goes a long way, especially considering the source.

It’s almost enough to make me lift the ban on ever letting her visit again.


Thoughtful ThursdayOne more Thoughtful Thursday on the theme of how many is too many. We’ve talked about number of children and we’ve talked about domains of life. What about blogs?

How many blogs can you handle reading? Is the limit based on number of blogs, number of posts each day, or number of virtual relationships you can maintain?

There are 119 blogs in my Google Reader right now. That number is deceptive, because there are some that never post anymore but I keep them around because they’re on my Clicker list, and others that post infrequently. In a given day there are usually two to four dozen new posts. Frankly, I read some posts more carefully than others. I used to comment on everybody that I read, but since Burrito and Tamale were born, there are some Clicker blogs whose news I post to Lost and Found but on whom I never comment.

My limit — the point at which I get the urge to unsubscribe to a few — is based on number of posts per day. I don’t have a problem keeping track of the different people, though a few people on my Clicker list blend together. With the blogs I read by choice — about half of the total list — every one is there for a reason, and every one is distinct in my mind.

How many blogs can you handle reading? Is the limit based on number of blogs, number of posts each day, or number of virtual relationships you can maintain?

Thoughtful ThursdayRelated to last week’s discussion of how many is too many in terms of children, there are of course other aspects of life in which we can be overwhelmed.

How many domains can you handle in your life at one time?

I discovered years ago that I can successfully manage three domains at a time. It’s true of tasks in any one day, and it’s also true of domains of life in general. Pre-babies, in a single day I could run errands and go to work and clean up the house, but that’s it — no blog posts would get written or hobbies would be enjoyed. If I went to the pottery studio, that was one of my three items for the day, and I had to figure out what else would be cut. It’s not like I set this limit of three things; that just seems to be the natural order of my life.

Since the babies were born, three hasn’t been enough for each day. The babies are always one of the three, leaving only two optional activities remaining. Typically, I pump on a regular schedule and care for them part of the day (with help the rest of the day) and do one other thing — but the problem is that there are many things demanding to be done. Work, household stuff, blogging, other hobbies, spending time with my husband: I keep trying to cram them in, and they just don’t fit. If I have to go to a doctor’s appointment, it probably means that my pumping schedule will be compromised and I also won’t get any work done.

That’s within one day. In life, I constantly try to juggle more than three domains, but I never feel like I can master more than three at once. If on top of caring for the babies I am pumping on a good schedule and work is under control, it probably means that the bills haven’t been paid and I haven’t done anything for myself in a while.

The only solution I’ve found is outsourcing. DH’s plate is even fuller than mine right now, so I can’t outsource to him. I’ve tried delegating work tasks to other people, which is effective on a limited basis. What I’ve had to outsource the most are household tasks and child care. We now have a full-time nanny who does everything in the house that wasn’t getting done and spends most of the babies’ waking hours with them. Sometimes it breaks my heart not to be able to see them more, especially after I wanted them so badly and worked so hard to bring them into being. It does not break my heart in the least to let someone else do the laundry or take out the trash. Even with a full-time nanny, I still don’t get nearly as much work done as I need to be doing. I usually sleep half of the time the nanny is here, and after pumping at least twice while she’s here, it only leaves a couple of hours to do anything else. Something like a doctor’s appointment eats up the entire rest of my “free” time, and work must be squeezed into a couple of hours in the evening after the babies have gone to bed — then it must be set aside if either baby decides to wake up again after going to bed, which happens more often than not.

My other solution has been multitasking, especially while pumping. Because it’s something that I used to find so bothersome, I had to make it pleasant in other ways, so pumping is my time to read and write blogs. By combining them, they become one “thing” instead of two. I also do certain computer tasks when I’m feeding a zoned-out baby. I try hard to be fully present when they’re fully awake and want to be engaged, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to stare at a baby with his eyes half-closed while he eats for 25 minutes. And then of course I feel guilty about that too, but until the number of hours in a day exceeds 24, I’ve got to do whatever I can.

How many domains can you handle in your life at one time?

Short answer: 3 well, 4 or 5 semi-passably.

Perfect Moment

(children mentioned)

I’ve been having a rough time again as I continue to deal with birth complications, the aftermath of which I now believe is far worse than I was told — and likely worse than any of my doctors thought. More on that soon, after I see what a new doctor has to say.

Anyway, I’ve been having a rough time physically, which extends to having a rough time emotionally. I was feeling particularly awful a couple of days ago when Tamale woke up at 3:45 A.M. Then as I was about to put her to bed, Burrito woke up at 4:10 A.M. Then we all slept for an hour and half until they were both up again, and I was beyond exhausted.

In the middle of feeding them both, I paused to burp them, with each baby sitting on one of my legs facing the other baby.

Then Burrito smiled at his sister for the first time ever.

Then Tamale smiled back at her brother, also the first time ever.

Then Burrito laughed at her smile.

Then Tamale laughed at his laugh.

It went on like that for several incredible minutes.

In all my life, it’s the most joy I’ve ever felt.

It was literally the most Perfect Moment I’ve ever had. Just when I needed it most.

Thoughtful Thursday: Pond

March 11, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayErnessa of Fierce and Nerdy and 32 Candles sent me a New York Times obituary about a very fertile woman. The matriarch left behind 15 children, more than 200 grandchildren, and too many great-grandchildren to count — totaling around 2000 descendants. Her high rate of reproduction was a direct response to the Nazis’ genocide of Jews, and is not so unusual among some Hasidic sects.

Of course, I thought of what this family means for those of us who are fertility-challenged, and how an infertile member of that family might feel being surrounded by siblings with a dozen children each.

It also raised an issue that I’d already been thinking about.

How many is too many?

This woman apparently could keep track of everyone’s name and face, but that’s probably about it. She couldn’t possibly attend everyone’s piano recitals or little league games. I wonder if she knew anyone’s interests or personality. Her social calendar was so busy that she needed one of her sons to track it.

DH’s grandmother has one child, two grandchildren, and currently two great-grandchildren. If you add in the respective spouses, she has 8 people to keep track of. I’ve wondered whether, when my nephew Murphy is born in a couple of months, how that will affect her attention to Burrito and Tamale. I believe that the love won’t be diluted, but there’s only so much attention to go around, right? Or, DH’s father is wholly devoted to Burrito and Tamale. Will he still feel the same way when the 10th grandchild is born? Can he possibly feel the same way? Or are the first ones really the most special?

That’s certainly true in my family. My grandmother has 4 children and 20 grandchildren or great-grandchildren, not including spouses. She doesn’t always remember my birthday or DH’s name. On the other side, there are so many that I literally cannot keep track. I couldn’t even give an estimate of how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren are in the family.

Thanks to infertility, the issue of having too many children has not been a concern — except for the higher order multiples scare when my betas were sky-high. Even so, it’s something that I’d been thinking about already when Ernessa sent me the article. Earlier that week, the topic had come up for me in a rather silly way: I was singing the song Rubber Ducky to Burrito at bathtime.

Rubber ducky, I’d like a whole pond of…
Rubber ducky, I’m awfully fond of…

I got stuck at that line. I was singing to Burrito as if he were the ducky, and I couldn’t even utter the words that I’d like a whole pond full of him. For one thing, he is a unique individual, and even if I had another son, he wouldn’t be “another Burrito.” When DH’s sister found out that she was having a boy, she said, “I’m so excited to have my own Burrito!” which I didn’t like at all. Murphy is not another Burrito, he is Murphy, and he deserves to be treated as more than a pale imitation of his (admittedly incredible) cousin.

Uniqueness aside, I don’t want a whole pond of Burritos. I wouldn’t want a whole pond of unique little boys either, but maybe a bathtub full? A sink full? I just don’t know. Already with two babies I feel like there’s never enough time, never enough attention to go around. As an only child with doting parents, I know that I have a skewed sense of what family dynamics are supposed to look like. I have one son and one daughter, which is more than I thought I’d be fortunate enough to have. I can wrap my mind around having one son and one daughter. If I’d had two sons or two daughters I would have adjusted to that too, but that’s not my reality. But what if, in some alternate fertile reality, I had four boys? Eight boys? Sixteen boys? And then those sixteen boys each had an average of, let’s say, four children, totaling 64 grandchildren? And then each of those 64 grandchildren had 4 children, totaling over 300 descendants? Could I really know them as individuals? Would I be able to sing Rubber Ducky to each one of them, even once?

How many is too many?

Show and TellOh what a happy girl I was to win the Stirrup Queen’s mishloach manot contest. I stuffed the ballot box — er, maximized my chances — by entering dozens of times.

Every day I’d keep looking out the window to see if the postman would turn into the driveway with a package instead of just stopping at the mailbox with letters.

It was everything I dreamed.

I have one thing left to eat, but everything has been delicious. Mel is such a skilled baker! Thanks soooooo much!

Next year, you should try to win the mishloach manot. Seriously. It is so awesome.

Go visit The Purim Fairy for more Show and Tell.

Thoughtful Thursday: Not

March 4, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayRawwwr! March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Baaaaa. Welcome to March’s Intelligentsia, the people who commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of February.

Record-setting #14: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#10: Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy and 32 Candles
#10: Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair
#10: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#9: Jill from All Aboard the Pity Boat
#8: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#5: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#5: Mel, a.k.a. Lollipop Goldstein, from Stirrup Queens
#4: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#4: Lori, a.k.a. Lavender Luz, from Weebles Wobblog
#3: Ana

Thoughtful ThursdayThis is the last in the series of Thoughtful Thursdays about what we hope our (future) children will inherit. First we talked about our partners’ great qualities, then those of our relatives and our partners’ relatives, then our own.

Today, we’ll think about what we don’t want our children to inherit.

What do you hope your children don’t inherit from you, your partner, or their relatives?

I could come up with 100 things, especially from certain relatives, but I’ll stick to the biggies.

Even though DH and I are remarkably non-anxious adults, we were both very anxious kids. I hope that Burrito and Tamale can be spared the nail-biting, the teeth-grinding, and the worries.

DH’s father and one of DH’s siblings are horrible know-it-alls, and DH and I both battle those tendencies. It’s obnoxious. I would prefer for the children to know everything secretly but not be smug about it, and even more I hope that they will admit when they don’t know something.

With DH’s mother, it is always all about her. I would like my children to be sensitive to other people’s needs and responsive to their cues.

Most of the men in my family, and some of the women, have heart disease. Hopefully the healthy vegetarian diet will spare the next generation’s tickers.

My father gets carried away with big ideas that get started and never finished. I’d like to see my children follow through.

Logic and impulse control aren’t my mother’s strong suits, but they’re traits I’ll work hard to foster in Burrito and Tamale.

Finally, I don’t know how far back in the family tree this damn infertility goes, but I sure hope it stops with me.

What do you hope your children don’t inherit from you, your partner, or their relatives?