Monday, February 21, 2011

Still here...

9 days ago - I'm even bigger now.
Today is February 21st, the baby's official due date... and I am still here, big as a house and not in labor.  I know babies typically aren't born on their due dates, and it is quite normal for them to be a few days or even weeks late, but I really thought the little one would be here by now.  I don't have any solid rationale for it, but that's what I thought.
I've got everything done:  the baby gear is all out and in place, the house is clean, the laundry is done, we had Jack's birthday party, and I got a pedicure.  I was feeling fairly blissful for a while, with all the "to do's" done.  I was just enjoying time relaxing and playing with Jack.  Now, however, I am starting to feel extremely uncomfortable and impatient.  I have the typical list of pregnant lady complaints - my back hurts, my feet are swollen, I'm not sleeping well, etcetera.  On the up side, since the baby has now dropped as low as it can go without falling out, my heartburn has abated somewhat.
Last night, I started having some contractions - definitely something more than the Braxton-Hicks I've been having for months.  I woke up around 2:30AM, had one contraction, then another fifteen minutes later... then nothing.  I went back to sleep until Jack woke me up at seven.  False alarm - sigh.  You could say it's a good sign I'll go into labor soon, but the mere fact that I am forty weeks pregnant is a good sign of that already.
When I dropped Jack off at school today, he cried like he used to when he first started going.  That was distressing.  I don't know why, except that with the baby coming soon, maybe he doesn't want to be without me.  The teacher, bless her heart, emailed me a picture of him happily playing shortly after I left.  That made me feel a lot better.  I just think this whole impending baby thing is getting old for all of us.  Jason and I are planners, and it's hard to plan when any moment now, we're going to have another little life added to our family.  Jack keeps asking when the baby will come out, too.  I think he's convinced I secretly know the exact arrival time of the little one but am just not telling him.  After all, from his perspective, I seem to know everything else.
So, Momma Files readers, hopefully this will be my last blog before the new baby gets here.  When I feel especially impatient, I try to remind myself how hard life is with a newborn.  I also remember that this baby is going to come out in the next ten days, even if we have to induce, so there's not much longer either way. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Heights

Last week, we were at the mall, doing some Valentine's errands.  It was three o'clock on a Tuesday, and the mall was more or less deserted.  I had finished my shopping, when on our way out, Jack spied a big trampoline/harness setup in the middle of the mall from where we were upstairs.  He pointed excitedly and said, "I want to ride that!"  My eyes widened in surprise.  Jack is a very cautious child, and I would never guess in a million years he'd want to go flying up in the air in a harness, by himself no less.  But I said, "Well, let's go downstairs and look at it and see," thinking that when he saw it up close, he'd change his mind or that they'd have some sort of height/weight requirement that his slim, 28-pound frame wouldn't meet.  As we approached the apparatus, the guy running it eyed us curiously.  I think he was afraid I, the big pregnant lady, was going to ask to ride it.  When we got up to it, Jack was still excited and still wanted to do it.  It was seven bucks for three minutes - total robbery, but I was so surprised and curious about Jack's lack of fear, I forked it over without a second thought.  The guy said, "let's see if he likes it first," though before taking my money.  To both of our amazement, Jack threw off his shoes, climbed up on the trampoline and enthusiastically raised his arms for the guy to strap the harness on him.  Jack had a blast.  He bounced and bounced.  He was too light to get back down the the trampoline once the bungees were lifted to their full height, so the guy would periodically yank down on one side so Jack's feet would touch and he could bounce again.  People all around stopped to watch.  Everyone seemed surprised to see such a little kid strapped into the big thing.  He closed his eyes and grinned ear-to-ear as he bounced almost as high as the second story of the mall.
 Afterward, we put his shoes back on, thanked the guy, and headed to the car, Jack proclaiming the whole way that he wanted to come back to the mall and, "do it again-gin."  I was in awe that my shy, careful, slow-to-warm-up child had so enthusiastically approached an unfamiliar experience.  I was proud of him and glad to know he's developing a sense that new, strange things are not always to be feared but can be fun, even without Momma right there with him.  I also thought to myself, "my little boy is growing up."  I know he's only three, but the time goes faster and faster.  I am so happy that he's developing healthy life coping skills, but I am also reminded to hang onto these young years, as they slip by all too quickly.  Jack is becoming more and more independent.  He goes to sleep at night by himself, he can go fetch things for me when I ask, and he happily goes to school by himself.  Before long, he's going to be starting kindergarten, and then I'm going to turn around and he'll be dating.
This morning, I woke up early, around six, and couldn't go back to sleep.  As it got light, I snuggled up to Jack's warm little body in our bed and watched him sleep - such a completely relaxed, peaceful rest.  I'm glad our kiddo is growing more independent and sure of himself every day, but I'm going to get all the snuggling in while I can, before he gets too cool to hug his Momma.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Growing Up in the Bubble

The house where I grew up
When I was five years old and my sister was two, my parents moved us from Dallas proper to Richardson, a suburb just north of Dallas.  The primary reason for the move was so Bonnie and I could go to better public schools.  Growing up in Richardson was pretty idyllic.  If you wanted someone to play with, you just went outside.  The neighborhood was full of kids.  You couldn't cut through our development to anywhere, so traffic was light.  We did a lot of bike riding and skating on the streets.  And there was a wilderness-type area we kids referred to as "the trails" where you could ride your bike over dirt hills and climb around a trickle of a creek.  The trails were just large enough for a kid to feel adventurous going in there but bordered on all sides by houses, so it was impossible to get lost.  There was also a public golf course at one end of the neighborhood, which made for good wandering in the summer and great sledding during the occasional winter storm.  Halloween was like a big block party, with kids running from house-to-house and parents sitting out on their lawns handing out candy.  Our next door neighbors had two boys about mine and Bonnie's ages - Brian and Mike.  When the weather was such that we had the windows open, Brian and I used to chat in the evening across the houses, me from my bedroom and him from his bathroom.  My mom used to joke it was just like "Our Town."
As I got older and went off to college, I started realizing how sheltered that environment was, compared to the rest of the world.  I started referring to it as "the Richardson bubble."  I developed something of a typical young adult attitude that somehow the city was better, grittier, a more "real" place to live, where you could see poverty and suffering first hand.  I did notice, though, that despite my having grown up in the bubble, I did not have the same fear and nervousness some of my peers did when it came to people who were poor or disadvantaged or simply different than I.  When I was thirteen, I had my first boyfriend.  I met him at summer camp, and he had a really different life than I did.  His step father was abusive.  They moved from rental house to rental house, ostensibly dodging back rent.  He played hooky from school on a regular basis and got picked up by the police quite often.  Needless to say, my parents weren't thrilled.  Luckily, he didn't live close by, and we mostly just talked on the phone.  The point is, I wasn't afraid or put off by him;  I was intrigued even though he scared the hell out of my other good-girl friends. 
I noticed this same theme throughout high school and college.  Where I wanted to know more about those who grew up differently than I did, other people who grew up in the same socioeconomic situation shied away.  As a young adult, I traveled to Mexico several times for vacation.  Some of the friends I went with seemed afraid of people who approached them, speaking Spanish, selling blankets or whatever, while it all seemed pretty harmless to me.  So, I've asked myself, why do I have this more open-minded attitude?  (And, yeah, I see it as a positive thing, despite the fact that is has gotten me in a bit of trouble from time to time.)  When I look back to my childhood, my answer is this:  my parents.  Despite having grown up in a place where you don't have to worry about someone popping a cap in your ass when you walk out the front door, my parents instilled in me a sense of general respect for all walks of life.  My parents have always had a relatively diverse group of friends.  Mom used to intentionally drive us through the poorer sections of Dallas to get places so that we might have some exposure to how others live.  When we went to Mexico on vacation as a family, my parents never acted afraid of the locals, just because they spoke Spanish instead of English.  The message I got from them was that I was not better than someone just because I had more money than they did or because they cleaned houses for a living.  What I divined from their example was that all people deserve simple courtesy and politeness until they prove otherwise by their actions.  I also learned that, while it may be prudent to avoid walking down certain streets at night by yourself, fear and acting afraid only invites victimization.  Very little of this was ever verbalized by my mom or dad.  It's a definite argument for leading by example.
I've thought about all this lately, because we are considering moving closer to Jason's work and, yes, out to what is more-or-less the suburbs of Austin.  Jason grew up in a neighborhood much like mine, and we want our children to have the same freedoms as we were given as children.  We want to feel safe allowing them to ride their bikes to friends' houses.  We want them to have kids their age to play with nearby.  I do want them, however, to experience other cultures and perspectives.  I don't want them to be afraid of people who have different skin than they do or who speak a different language or who have a different standard of living.  Maybe we'll have to work a little harder at that than we would if we chose to raise our family in east Austin, but I think Jason and I are both good examples that it can be done.  So I've grown comfortable with the idea of raising children in the suburbs where things are safe enough to allow children to explore, because I know our attitudes and open-mindedness will rub off.  In closing, I'd like to say thanks to my parents, because, Mom and Dad, you shaped my attitudes more than the place where I grew up, and that has made me a happier, more adventurous adult.