This is pretty much a stream of consciousness post. You’ve been warned. I keep finding out that more and more people read this, which admittedly , is a little embarrassing. But I’m compelled to keep writing. And drawing my little cartoons. It’s a passion hobby at this point. It’s also a good way for me to look back on my memories of when my baby girl was still a baby. I hope it has some useful tips for new parents or some relatable humor for those who have already been through this stage of parenting.
On with the show.
Lil’ Miss Congeniality
Well, my kid is still alive. Parenting success!!! That’s the goal at this point, right? Keep ‘em alive? Like a goldfish, but with a lot more responsibility and pressure. I have the general maintenance of baby rearing down, but I’m unsure as to how to keep her brain stimulated so she grows up to be a genius. Not being a genius myself I feel ill equipped to raise the next Einstein, which is my secret hope for her. I don’t know why… I just associate that with successful intelligence, which would be awesome for her. I guess that’s what parents want for their kids: to be amazing at life. I don’t really know what I want for her- happiness, obviously. Success, hopefully. The will power and independence to make it in this world without it bringing her down, essentially.
Even if she doesn’t grow up to be some sort of world changing genius figure, which admittedly, is a lot of pressure for a kid, I’m pretty sure she’ll grow up to be a likeable and friendly young woman, despite her current serious disposition. She’s just got one of those smiles that melts hearts. And I can see it in her behavior already, when she wants something she knows how to get it. She doesn’t always start with the demanding cries. She builds up to that. First, a smile. If you’re lucky, a laugh. Then a coo. A chatty, sing songy flow of unintelligible vowels that draws you in and says, “ Hey you… check me out. I’m here, I’m playful, you want to give me attention.”
If that attention she’s craving isn’t received then lil’ miss congeniality starts the hulk out process. The coo gets a little louder and a little meaner and vibes out, “Hey… you WANT to pay attention to me. I promise you you do.”
I try to teach her to be chill and how to kick it on her own for bit so she’s not totally dependent on me, which is a weird goal because she’s 25 weeks old. That’s essentially the whole dynamic of our relationship: she can’t do squat without her parents and we’re there to make sure she stays alive. And other loving parent things. So … dependent. But she needs to be cool once in a while and I’m gonna make sure she learns that. You can’t just go around screaming at people demanding things you want. Normal people don’t do that. If you go around acting like an entitled prick that you’ll end up on some Real Housewives show or as President of the United States. She has to have better goals than that. (Let’s face it, the bar for POTUS has been severely lowered. It’s not as prestigious a position as it once was.) I digress.
New parents, your kids will learn to manipulate you. That’s like the first thing they learn about socializing. You are their testing ground for getting away with crap. Case in point- my Emma knows that I’ll always be there for her and she has a 3 stage cry that ensures that I will.
They are as follows:
Stage 1: “Hey I want your attention”
Stage 2: “…hey? PAY #$@^ING ATTENTION TO ME!”
Stage 3: “THE WORLD IS ENDING AND MY LIFE IS OVER! FATHER WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!”
I try to get her to chill out by stage 2. My technique for calming her down is standing there and giving her my “dad look.”
Dad look is basically just stern staring. I learned it from my dad who had astigmatism. His dad look always started with him taking off his glasses and stressing out all the blood vessels in his head so his astigmatism made his eyes bulge super bulgy. It was scary to behold. Later in life I would worry that everytime he did that, and he did it often, he was having a stroke.
So I stand there and essentially look at my daughter like I’m having a stroke. Needless to say she hits stage 3 crying at that point. It may be my own astigmatism that freaks her out or her fear that I’m actually having an attack of some sort, but my dad look fails on a consistent basis to stop her from passing stage 2.
When she’s not crying for me she’s rolling around all over the floor. I took down the walls to her little play mat area we bought her a few weeks back. It’s been amazing. It’s easy to clean, I can build walls with it or keep it totally flat, and it’s kept her from smashing her head into the floor while her neck was still too weak to support it. This new found rolling has led her from the living room to the dining room of our open concept home.
“Come on back Emma. Come to daddy.”
That was my mistake. She knew what I wanted. I wanted her to roll back to the safety of the mat. She knew this. We locked eyes and she knew I knew she knew … and proceeded to roll further away.
I’ve seen my friends kids do this with them, too. “Don’t hit daddy.” SMACK! They just do the opposite of what you want. And they cry. They stand in direct opposition to your goals and they cry. But you love them anyways.
My favorite moments in life are when my daughter decides to eat her meals without any fuss. But it’s not just her pleasant tableside manners that bring me peace, granted that’s most of it. It rips at something in the soul when your kid won’t eat. You don’t want them to starve, obviously. And if they get too skinny someone will notice and the state will come and take them away because of your crap parenting skills. So yeah, when she eats, I mean really eats, not just taking sips from the bottle and then thrashing about like I just fed her broccoli juice, I have a sense of relief and a little flush of pride like I did something right.
These blissful little moments of her doing a solid take at her bottle which bring me so much joy are accompanied by my dog snuggling up to us on the couch, deprived of any extra noise like the tv, phones, and tablets, and followed by Emma passing out from her meal like it’s Thanksgiving Dinner.
In that three minutes of quiet time is where I find my zen place. No amount of impending work or chores can bring me down. Ultimately she wakes up and bursts my quiet little bubble, and we go about our day.
We’ve grown into her other harness this week, which I never thought we’d use. It only has one position and that’s where your baby has to face into you the whole time. I tried it once when I thought she was big enough (as it wasn’t meant for newborns- read the product descriptions, people) and she immediately threw a fit. Was it me? Did I smell? I wore cologne once and she just about blew my eardrums out from screaming, she hated it so much. I mean she went straight to stage 3 crying. Was she too small? Was it the fact that she wanted to face away? I don’t know.
We’ve started something called dream feeding. What is that, you ask? It’s feeding our kid while they’re still asleep in the hopes that they’ll stay asleep through the night instead of waking up hungry at 3 am. Let me tell you how that’s going.
One day Kelly comes to me and says, “Hey have you ever heard of ‘dream feeding'”?
“Nope, duh.” What about me makes you think I would have ever encountered that combination of words in my life? At first I thought she meant dreaming about feeding Emma. “That would never work” I thought. “You can’t just dream about feeding your kid. They’ll die. You need to actually feed them.”
Did she give up on our little family? Was she so tired of pumping that she wanted to retire from the dairy industry and let all our hard work just fade away?
So she explained it to me and we tried it. That night, as we’re preparing to go to bed ourselves, she preps a bottle of formula and walks into the room with a big ol’ grin on her face. She looks at me and whispers “Dreeeeeaaaammmmm feeeeeding”.
She picks up Emma, puts the bottle to her mouth, and my baby, passed out like a freshman on spring break, opens her mouth and begins downing this bottle… like a freshman on spring break. And it worked. She slept through the night.
The next day, though, she didn’t want to eat squat. She wasn’t hungry. She was full from her spring break bottle. Now she needs to drink right before we go to bed and we have trouble feeding her throughout the following day. So here I am …somewhere between 10:30 pm and midnight (depending on my client workload) feeding my baby in my bed.
The Inevitable Pooping of My Bed
Needless to say, when you put new food in, old food has to come out. I knew it would happen one day, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Here I am, dream feeding my baby, which results in a late night blowout, furiously changing the baby and changing my bed sheets. It was the most parenting moment I’ve had so far. I kept my composure, jumped right to the task, and got the poopy sheets in the wash and clean sheets on in record time. Dad skillz. … Kelly helped- Mom skillz.
Dad bod update
I moved the weights and workout bench to the corner of the master bedroom so I would be inclined to work out more often. I have, too. Do I have a routine? Nope. But I’ve done something. Baby steps. Actually, I’m going at my own pace and I think it’s really helping the pinched nerve that’s debilitated the whole upper right quadrant of my body.
We started cooking at home a lot more often, too. We’re trying to stop using the baby as an excuse to cut corners. Yes, it’s harder to get meals cooked on a nightly basis, but we’ve gone back to meal prepping for the week. When Sunday rolls around and Kelly and I are both home to keep Emma from hitting stage 3 crying, we can tag team the cooking. It’s worked so far.
It’s the holidays, though, and Kelly bought me a tin of my favorite Danish butter cookies …so …that’s already gone.
As a result, I’m still pudgy.
I thought I might take a moment to explain this week’s image. It’s me as the Sandman trying to get Emma to go to sleep. Would I actually throw sand in my daughter’s face? …does she deserve it? Wait …NO. NO I wouldn’t. But there she is with sand in her face, hulking out and hitting Stage 3. Do your kids have discernable stages of crying or attention getting? Do you have any clever tricks for helping a fellow parent cope with the yelling? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or on social media. As always, thanks for reading and happy parenting!