Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Dangers of Cloning

If you were a fly on the wall, yesterday evening you would have seen Sweet Dub embrace me in the kitchen, after which the following exchange took place:

Sweet Dub: I love you so much, I wish there were three of you.

Mama B: What would you do with three of me?

Sweet Dub [clearly he has a plan]: One would stay home and take care of the kids. One would have a high-powered job to keep me in the style to which I have become accustomed. And one would be devoted solely to me.

Mama B: I see where you’re going with this. So that last one wouldn’t have to do all that much except work out, take care of your…bedroom needs, and go shopping?

Sweet Dub: Shopping?! Shopping for what?

Mama B [thinking "arm candy"]: Lingerie, and clothes—

Sweet Dub: Why would she need clothes?
Why, indeed.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself.
- Hubert de Givenchy, Vogue, July 1985
I think I need a haircut.

My hair is getting really long and I’m tending again toward my cop-out hairdo of pulling my wet hair into a simple ponytail and letting it air dry on my way to work (which it doesn’t, because I have really thick hair). As Viva says, “That is not a hairstyle, Mom.”

What a journey my hair has been over the years. I know that many women agonize over their hair, but the journey seems particularly fraught for those of us with super-hyper curly hair—and those of us whose ancestry has at least some passing acquaintance with Africa get the double whammy of having hair that is simply not a part of the mainstream standard of beauty.

My guilty pleasure (well, one of them) is watching What Not to Wear. But after watching it for a while (and honestly I watch it much less than I used to—I watched it every morning when I was on medical leave a couple of years ago), the segment where they would do the hair makeover started to bug me, because invariably whenever they came across someone with curly or even wavy hair, they would blow it straight. “Sleek and sophisticated,” they would gush.

I call bullshit on that. You mean you are going to teach someone how to completely change their wardrobe to look better and feel better about themselves, but you are going to tell them that the way their hair looks growing naturally out of their heads is not okay? It’s perplexing, because so often hosts Stacy and Clinton preach the message of fit: know your body, accept the shape you have, and dress to compliment your unique shape. They never say you have to lose 50 pounds, or your legs are too short, or your shoulders are too broad. They’re all about working with what you have. And then the hair stylist comes in and gives the woman straight hair. I say: teach them how to style their curls! Teach them to love their hair as it is!

I digress, but only because it is related to my personal hair mantra, which is: It’s all about self-acceptance. And again, working with what you have. When I was a kid, my mom got so frustrated with trying to braid my hair that when I was about 9, she finally just cut it all off—without even asking me first. I then got mistaken for a boy all the time for a couple of years there, because she kept cutting it. This actually was fine with me most of the time because I was a total tomboy, climbing trees and playing Six Million Dollar Man, and I wouldn’t wear a dress if you paid me.

When I hit middle school, my hair had grown out enough that I went back to having a wet set (ecch, can you imagine) every Sunday. By high school, curling irons were it. My hair might not be straight, but at least it was in smooth, big curls. Near the tail end of high school, I cut it all off very short and wore my hair natural in a light brown/dark blonde afro and since it was the 80s, with very thick blue eyeliner. Oh, my.

By the time I hit college, I’d discovered relaxers. No one in my family ever used them, so I had no personal experience with them. I never thought they would work on my hair, but at some point a friend suggested I use one to texturize my hair, so it would still be curly, but grow down, not out. I used them with some success throughout my 20s. During this time, people would tell me how gorgeous my hair was. Are you kidding? Never in my life had I ever thought my hair was pretty. And here I was, with this giant curly head of hair, learning how to use leave-in conditioners and actually enjoying how my hair looked, floating halfway down my back.

By the time I hit 30, I was very happy with my hair and stopped relaxing it. I also became something of a hair product junkie and began falling in love with sites like nappturality and One day, I was walking down Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills and a man in a convertible flagged me down. He complimented me on my hair and in the same breath said he was looking for models to be on a show about a Japanese hair straightening system. Would I be interested?

“How long does it last?” I asked.

“About six months,” he said.

“Even when you wet it?” I said.

“Yeah, you won’t believe it,” he enthused.

“No thanks,” I said. “I’m all about the self-acceptance.” And I kept walking.

All about the self-acceptance…except, it seems now, when it comes to white hair.* Get me to a colorist, stat!

Apparently I’ve still got some work to do.

* I’m not going gray, I’m going white. I think it’ll look cool when I’m 50, but I’m not there yet.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Changing the Paradiggum

There was this commercial several years ago in which a bunch of people are sitting around in a conference room and one guy is all gung-ho and trying to get everyone else on board and he says “Sometimes you have to change the paradigm [which he pronounces paradiggum]...think outside the box.” And that has become part of the Blah Blah family lexicon, that “changing the paradiggum.”

And yet fixing one problem sometimes creates another.

Case in point: Miss Celie has been having sleep issues for some time. A (not so) brief history:

Stage One: We started out as co-sleepers. This was very sweet when she was an infant. I would just scoop her next to me and we would sleep with our heads close together all night long. I set up the Co-Sleeper next to the bed, more as a bed rail than anything since she didn’t actually sleep in it, and I slept in between Celie and Sweet Dub. This worked just fine until…

Stage Two: At some point she learned to roll over and keeping her on the side of the bed, even with the Co-Sleeper, wasn’t working. Sweet Dub was no longer worried about rolling over onto her and squishing her in the middle of the night, so we would then go to sleep with her between us. This worked for a very short time, because:

Stage Three: She began crawling and then walking, and would practice in her sleep, flopping around and kicking Sweet Dub in the head. He would wake up, irate, and stomp to the couch and sleep there for the rest of the night, while I would sleep like a rock, oblivious. Not very fair to him, and yet because she was still waking up to eat in the middle of the night, I was too tired to do all that much about it. However, eventually we moved on to…

Stage Four: We’d put her into her crib in the room she shared with Viva at the beginning of the night. At some point she would wake up, I would feed her and/or change her, and because she is a high-need baby (read: loud), I would have to remove her from the room so as to allow Viva to get some sleep. At that point I was so drunk with sleep deprivation that I would stumble to the couch and lie down with her there or just take her back to bed with me. In the latter case, within 30 minutes or so Sweet Dub would get kicked in the face, exit the room and go back to the couch. And I would continually wake up because I was getting kicked and banged into by my very active sleeper. All was not well in Blahville.

Stage Five: Last week, we committed to sleep training Celie and moved Viva across the house into her own room. Bought a rocking chair and hunkered down to battle. The first two nights were rough. She woke up every couple of hours howling. But then…the heavens parted and the sun shone down and she began sleeping through the night. Regularly. For the first time in her nearly 19 months of life.

And now, we are paying the price. She is furious with me. She follows me around screaming at me. She cries, she throws things, she hits. I was reading a pamphlet yesterday for something I’m writing for work and I came across a list of typical behaviors for young kids who have experienced trauma (I am not making this up):

Difficulty sleeping
Excessive tantrums
Defiant, won’t cooperate
Difficulty staying still
Aggression or acting out
Depression or anxiety
Low self-esteem
Inability to trust others
Separation anxiety
Cries a lot and won’t be easily consoled

I could put a check mark next to almost every single one of these. And last night I had to go to an event after work and didn’t get home until after she went to bed. This morning she was a mess, falling apart every five minutes and screaming when I put her in her car seat. At day care, she was fine sitting on my lap on the floor as I talked with her caregiver. I asked if she had been acting out at all. No, she is as she has always been at day care – she’s one of the easy ones, they wish they had 15 kids like her. And then when I got up to leave, Celie fell to pieces. She clung to me screaming. All of the teachers looked shocked. “I’ve never seen her like this,” said her beloved E, who has been her primary caregiver from the beginning. She had to pry her away from me and walk outside with her to wave goodbye. It was not a good way to start my day, to put it mildly.

So I get it: Celie misses her mommy. A lot. And it makes her angry and sad. We have been very much on the go these days, even on weekends, what with T-ball games and birthday parties and going up to visit my ailing grandmother. Celie’s not getting a whole lot of one on one time, and now she’s not even sleeping with me. Where we used to wake up all snuggled against one another and she would pat my face and give me kisses, now she wakes up alone. One of us goes to get her and cuddle her immediately, but it’s still a loss.

And now I have written this epic post, is there a resolution? Sleep issues solved, separation issues drastically heightened. There are no easy answers except take some time off and be with her. This, during a busy season at work when my husband has just been laid off. I need my job. But my baby needs her mama.

For the record: I know I am a good mom. I know I am doing the best I can on this hamster wheel of modern life. Today I am buying a lottery ticket and hoping for the best. Maybe I could stay home with her for a while.

P.S. She is very sweet when she's not mad at me:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blog Neglect

Blog neglect, n. That state of inactivity on one’s blog that makes all regular readers forget that one ever even had a blog. Also, the related malaise that leads to complete inarticulateness when one actually does sit down to write a post

Here is what I must do:
Set a regular schedule and stick to it. I’m aiming to blog Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

And…I got pulled away from this while writing and almost forgot to post it. Ah, the irony.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good Times

Yesterday Sweet Dub and I met for lunch and inadvertently celebrated an anniversary: it’s been a month already since he got laid off.

I know! Doesn’t life always fast forward at the worst times?

At any rate, it was kind of a fun lunch. Laid-back, and Sweet Dub was dressed all casual and hip, wearing a new hat which makes him look even more like his doppelganger, Mos Def.

(Hm. Inserted a picture here of Mos Def in hat. Blogger will not recognize. What the fizzle?)

We talked about current events and other things not related to the kids. We ate Italian food and shared coffee afterward. It was kind of like being on a date.

We are working on a couple of creative projects together—well, mainly he is working on them, and I am trying to do my part in my spare time, and telling him whether I think this or that is a good idea, and helping with logistics when I can. And in this way, I think, the lay-off has been a good thing.

He is simultaneously happier, and a little stressed out, and excited. It’s an interesting, unpredictable chapter in this life we are building together.

That said, more to come…

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Too Many Cooks

It is never simple here.
Everybody has an opinion.
A brief piece which is time sensitive is held up.
Because so-and-so has to review.
And then whats-their-face needs to read it.
Please say This and not That.
Take This out.
We can’t say That.
I find out that This is also politically sensitive.
In the sense that if we say This, we might not get That.
This could cause big problems for us.
Did he say you could say That?
I am tired and cranky and sick of this game.
Write it yourself then, I think.

It is just this moment.
Tomorrow or even an hour from now I will feel differently.
Inhale, exhale.
I go play with the kittens that were rescued from inside the wall while a crew was renovating an office.
They are tiny, and wide-eyed, and full of beans.
How can you not smile when watching them?
I defy you.

Monday, May 03, 2010

There’s Nothing I Hate More Than Nothing*

Bad things are not the worst things that can happen to us. Nothing is the worst thing that can happen to us!
- Richard Bach

When I first read this quotation I misunderstood that second part. I thought it meant, “There is no such thing as the worst thing that could happen to us.” Maybe it was because I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

But what he’s saying is that the worst thing that can happen to us is that nothing happens to us. And that, yes—that I agree with. How are you to grow as a person if nothing happens to you? Think of how much all your varied life experiences have shaped you--whether for good or bad. They are what make you so distinctly yourself.

Similar wisdom from another and very different source:

Just because it's different, doesn't mean it's scary...try new things!
-I'm From Barcelona, on the Yo Gabba Gabba! Music is Awesome CD

* Showing my age! Can you guess where the line comes from?