And just like that, she’s one! It’s hard to imagine, she came out (finally) and was just a hardly alive, reddish, plump of a baby. She’d cry hysterically every time we changed her diaper (what, like 12 times a day), every time we changed her clothes, in the ten seconds between wanting milk and becoming starving. Then she became more awake, and opened her eyes more and more. She’d stare at you and she’d stare at the ceiling fan. She’d make little baby coos and always had the hiccups. She woke up, more and more, until she’d follow you with her eyes around the room while she layed on the mat. She learned to roll over, and would cry helpless on her tummy, until you flipped her back. (She did not learn to roll back until months later). She started eating purees and loved them. She’d smack her lips around the tiny spoon, delighted by flavor. She sat in her baby bouncer on top of the dining table while we ate breakfast. While napping, she’d stick her limbs right out of the crib slats. When it was too hot, her body would get heat rash and we’d have to stay inside, where there was air conditioning. I went back to work and Steve became the stay-at-home parent. He helped her learn how to sleep on her own and took her to the swings and Noguchi museum almost every day. She started sitting up, first with help, and later on her own, climbing up from tummy, to hands and knees, to falling back into a seat. When she was awake from her nap, we’d find her in the crib sitting up and playing with her baby panda. Sitting up, she loved to be brought toys and play with them. Stacking rings, colorful shakers, books, and blocks. She’d windshield wiper her legs like a powerful tugboat generating endless splash in the bath which delighted her. From sitting, she went to rocking on her hands and knees, for over a month, before she learned to crawl. Steve went back to work and she went to daycare where she met the wonderful Waafa and Hoda. She got to paint, play with mud (pudding), feed Mr. Doggy, and play the drum. When she left, they’d sing, “bye bye MG / bye bye MG / bye bye MG / we’ll see you again next time.” Then crawling, off she’d go, panting like a dog. She learned where her toy bookshelf was and would crawl over there to plead for you to read her a book. I’d read Sandra Boyton books and Steve would read Brown Bear, Brown Bear and act out all of the animal noises. She started eating finger foods and we had family mealtimes where she sat at a real high-chair at the table. She loved kiwi, bambas, red lentil soup, all Indian food, and yogurt. She started crawling fast and pulling up to stand and would throw all of her toys off the bookshelf. She learned to bring you the books she wanted you to read her. She learned the layout of the apartment and would crawl around looking for you. She made babbles – starting with mamama and dadada and moving to harsh sounds like bap! and dadun. Sometimes she’d zone out and when she came back she’d hiss at you like a witch: haaaaa. She started to recognize people – her Shani Masi who came for a visit on most Sunday nights. Her Nani and Nanoo who watched her for a full weekend when she was 11-months old and who loved it as much as she did. She loved skyping with her Nana and Nono and Divy Masi. She started standing with more confidence and – one day – took one shaky step. One or two shaky steps. One or two or three shaky steps. She loved to take things out of containers and put them back in – her barrets, her dominos, Steve’s protein shake ingredients. She loved to cuddle the big panda and her baby panda. She is our baby girl – a whole year old! Happy Birthday MG!
A few months ago, I tried reading Burnout by Emily Nagoski. I found it almost unreadable, mostly due to its narrative style. But the author, and her identical twin sister (!) recently released a podcast focused on feminist survival in 2020. It is SO GOOD. Really, so so good.
The first episodes were about completing the stress cycle. Basically, stress will happen regardless. But what’s important is “completing” the stress cycle so your body can relax. I retain basically no information but somehow I remembered so many ways to do this. They include:
- physical activity
- social connection (superficial or intimate)
- deep breathing
- physical connection
I just really liked this framework. Say you had a terrible client meeting and are stressed. When you come home, there are concrete things you can do to feel better! It also explains why I like foot rubs and long hugs so much.
And after 11 months, God said rest. Friday, we sent the baby to daycare and played hooky at the Korean spa. I got a scrub and R ate (two) chocolate chip cookies. We napped, and rolled around, and went into hot tubs, and had coffee. It was very, very nice.
Saturday, we took the train to CT with my sister. We had a four-seater with two seats facing two-seats and MG had a blast rolling all around and looking out the window. Then, we got to CT and…left the baby there with my parents! We took the train further to a college town and spent the weekend walking around, browsing in bookstores, and drinking a lot of coffee while my parents watched the baby. For two nights! And everyone had a great time. The baby enjoyed, my parents really enjoyed, and R and I definitely enjoyed.
The baby was a little angry when we came out. I picked her up and she started babbling in noises I hadn’t really heard before with an angry tone. And she pushed my Mom away when she came near. But after 20 minutes or so she was fine, and she was totally normal with our usual routine when we brought her home.
It’s such a relief to have a kid old enough that she’s a bit adaptable. And, life without the baby was so…easy. But not like, oh great, this is easy. Like, my life should have a little more challenge to be meaningful. I thought that was interesting — baby-level life is now regular, and pre-baby life is now too easy and sort of boring. Maybe this means it is indeed time to think about having another baby. I could definitely imagine myself looking back and saying one baby is too easy and sort of boring.
You know what I’ve been really into recently? Cooking with pantry ingredients! For some reason, we always have an out of control pantry, but we tend to eat the same 6 or so things on rotation. So I’ve started to make an effort to cook down our pantry. This has involved: quinoa for breakfast instead of steel cut oats, adding a ton of nuts to morning bowls (and figuring out which ones are rancid, and throwing them away), and farro instead of rice. We have a LOT of Rancho Gordo beans left over from when I was an avid bean club member, and a lot of various grains that we don’t really use.
Here are pantry staples that would get used:
- one or two types of whole grains (oats, quinoa, farro, etc.)
- coconut milk
- one type of nut (just one!)
- tomato sauce
- canned tomato puree
- some canned beans (chickepeas or black beans)
- almond flour
- shredded coconut
- dried fruit that could go into morning bowls
- protein pasta
- mac and cheese boxes
- peanut butter
- some dried beans and lentils (red lentils, green lentils)
- soy sauce
Ta-da! That’s it. That is a very doable pantry for us that can get used up without taking endless space.
One week in, I feel like I am ready to start the New Year. Normally, I do a deep dive into how I want my year to look. This year, my kiddo will turn one (jeez, time flies), and…we might try to have a second baby???
So how do I want my year to look:
– simple. I’d like to not be engaged in non-necessary and non-restorative labor. I don’t want to go to social events I don’t like. I don’t want to buy anything that I’ll have to maintain. I want to cut out whatever I can to emphasize time and not stuff.
– healthy. We have definitely been on the winter-daycare-always-sick-treadmill. It’s been very, very hard. I’d like to eat well, continue to exercise, and do whatever I can to nourish my body healthfully.
– politically engaged. We volunteer through postcards to voters which is perfect for us because we can do it at home whenever we have time. I’d love to set an ambitious goal for the 2020 elections and crush Republicans out of office.
– fun. I had such a tiny baby this year and she is on the cusp of toddlerhood. I want to spend time just enjoying her, playing with her, and having a lot of fun as a family. I also want to keep strengthening our non-family relationships so we have a world outside the baby.
It is the New Year, or a few days into it, but I feel some unresolved business with my old year. Over Christmas, we all got HFMD. It was rough. The baby was inconsolable and we didn’t know what was happening until her pox developed. A few days later, I got an insane fever and basically couldn’t leave my bed for two days. Somewhere in there was my birthday and New Year’s Eve.
It was almost funny how over the top the situation was. Think you can have your parents watch the baby for a day while you go off and do something fun for your birthday? Think again! And when we got back to NYC, we were all just exhausted and I felt very much like I had missed our vacation.
The old year brought us a lot of changes…namely MG. And I do think it is teaching me to roll with the punches, because what other choice do you really have?
Here’s to a healthy and happy 2020 for all of us!
Week one of my Sabbath homework was deciding the following things:
- When would Sabbath fall into our weekly routine?
- What would be our Sabbath starting and ending rituals?
- What are nourishing activities (but not to-dos) that we could enjoy on our Sabbath?
R and I started to chat about this. Hear are preliminary thoughts.
1. Sabbath would be all day Sunday. So from bedtime Saturday (no working while asleep!) through likely the baby’s bedtime on Sunday. We’ll at least try that for now and see how it works.
2. Starting ritual would be lighting candles and a short meditation after the baby goes to bed on Saturday. Maybe a declaring of intentions? Or some sort of blessing could be nice. Sometimes we have post-baby dinner dates but we often don’t like to eat that late so I’m not sure we’d want to do that weekly.
3. Nourishing activities would include:
- Having friends over
- Eating delicious food (but not intensively making it…so making something in advance or doing prep in advance?) or just getting take-out?
- Both of us playing with the baby at once, instead of one of us playing and one of us doing errands
- Napping while the baby naps
- Long showers
- Taking a break from screens
- Taking a break from errands
We found a cool sort of online course where you practice Sabbath for 7 weeks and focus on something different each week. So these are our guidelines for week 1. We’ll see how the next few weeks go!
Most years, I make a resolution. Or at least more of an intention. I’m generally happy with my life, but I’ll try to tweak things in certain areas. I’ve been thinking about 2020 and what keeps coming to mind for me is the Sabbath. Creating Sabbath within my own life.
As a secular person, I do feel a bit weird about adopting a religious tradition outside of context. But I honestly think people with formal structured Sabbath are probably happier that those without. A forced rest – time for relaxation, away from the never-ending to-do list.
So what would I want a secular sabbath to look like:
- clear starting and ending points
- without my phone (I’ve been thinking about getting a sabbath-specific dumbphone so I can see people but not use the internet)
- a delicious activity: a meal with friends, a massage, a long shower with wine – something that nourishes
I’ve been working from home a lot lately and have been very much enjoying it. I get to have a walking commute for daycare drop-off, go grocery shopping on my way home when the stores are empty, and look out onto trees while I work. I work all morning using my lightbox and get to stand up and walk around a lot.
I also love making a meal. Instead of taking 15 minutes to go to Sweetgreen and drop $15 on a salad, I’ve been making a giant mushroom, spinach, goat cheese omelet every day. I get to make my own delicious hazelnut iced coffee and drink it from a reusable cup with a stainless steel straw.
And instead of having 15-minute breaks between meetings when I only have time to refresh wapo.com, I get to wash a set of dishes or go put laundry in the washer, or chop some veggies.
And the focused work! I get to turn my email off and…work. Perfect working environment, good mindset, productive super focus.
This contrasts now to days when I am in the office and it is run, run. run all day but often without any real work to show for it.
I have been wanting to write for a long time, but haven’t prioritized it. Life has been good. R and I are both back at work but it has been better than I thought it would be. I have become a drop-off pro, greatly facilitated by the fact that I work from home three days a week. MG is insanely cute, crawling around like a maniac and with very clear preferences. The whole world is her oyster.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the holidays and new traditions. I have a real aversion to traveling anywhere with MG. I firmly think travel is not for the baby, but for the parents (though in our case, mostly an obligation). Babies I think, at least our baby, really like sleeping in their own crib, being the masters of their own place, and spending a lot of time with people they like and know. With Thanksgiving coming up, I am very, very tempted to just bail and do what we want instead. There is something interesting to me about how grandparents (who are retired) get to be visited instead of visit, while working people with families have to cram that into already limited time off. Wow, how crotchety do I sound? I guess I have a sense that it’s not worth spending free time out of obligation. I’ve been very into the simpler life – a life where a good Saturday is making a delicious soup and eating it with bread and friends and taking a walk and watching The Americans while the baby naps. That to me, right now, is much more nourishing that going to check out the new MoMA or taking the train anywhere.