I suddenly realized I was late picking up E so I posted that last post without reading it over… And only now see that “therapist” was autocorrected as “star rapist”- geez Louise! I couldn’t live with anyone thinking that I think those words go together in any context, much less in my blog, so this is my zoology- see it just happened again- APOLOGY! To anyone who was stunned and/or confused by that. This would be the down side to blogging by smartphone. xoxo
Hello readers, I have been MIA with mucho happening on all fronts and here I am to report back from the bus!
Oh dios mio, where to start? OK #1 we are moving. We are moving! Across the country! I told you I was thinking about it. I think I had already decided when I told you that but, as with all big decisions, I made it before I “officially” made it- it’s just nice to dwell in that officially-undecided space a little longer to let it all solidify and become real. The decision is made. It feels real. It’s happening!
We’re moving to Chicago. Specifically, Oak Park. As someone who has been a proud city resident of SF, NYC, DC, and even Paris, I will now be a suburbanite. I sort of never thought it would happen and then I had a kid… It’s a well-established transition. I get it now. I feel like I’ve spent the last couple of years of new-motherhood preparing for this move and massive identity shift- life has gotten smaller and slower and now I super duper crave for it to get easier. I have often thought, “I can stay home every night in a much less expensive city.” And when I park my car on the street two hilly blocks away and carry a sleeping 30+ pound boy and four bags back to three flights of stairs to my apartment I think, “There’s got to be a better way.” I spend 2.5 hours a day commuting.
My official and concise and most truthful answer about “why” is that we’re moving to be closer to family. The cousins will grow up together. My sister and bro-in-law will back me up and vice versa. My parents are across the lake that feels more like home to me than any other place.
But once I took on winter as a hypothetical (and, believe me, this was a BIG stretch as I have REALLY enjoyed a long hiatus from the freezing cold and estrangement from the sun), so many benefits leapt into the picture- the ease of life. The affordability. The family-oriented community. The schools. And then my company said yes: work from Chicago, it sounds like a great move both personally and professionally.
That’s when it got really real because there’s nothing else holding me back. And it felt: peaceful.
I have a hard time talking to friends here about my move. Of course I’m not happy to leave dear friends. And I will not bad mouth the city itself- I don’t blame San Francisco, we’re just no longer a match. I have LOVED it here and will miss many people and many things (hiking trails, burritos, mild winters…). And I have a sense that I no longer need to be in the center of the action. I want to be just a little off to the side where we can do our thing with a parking spot and new friends and a train-themed restaurant where a little train brings your dinner. And family dinners and lawns and changing leaves and real summer. And put down some new roots.
Two people have congratulated me on my courage, my therapist and my sister B, and it made me realize that I had a narrative going in my head where I was giving up or bailing out or betraying my teammates in city living. That I was giving up for the easy out. Especially the moms I’ve become close to- we’re all trying to build community and it sucks to pull away from that. But I realize now that of course we need to go where we will thrive, and that choice is different for each individual, and that place for us has made itself really, really, REALLY clear!
We’re going next month to find a place and we’ll move a month after that. Meanwhile, I’m lingering on the sweet details of this season of life, where the drive to school every day includes a waterfall and buffalo and Golden Gate Park and a fire truck. And the way the golden early evening sun angles through my kitchen as I prep dinner. I couldn’t have hoped for happier times and I have faith that the next chapter will be lovely in a whole new way that is welcome and wonderful.
We will especially miss Aunt B and her girlfriend Jenn and I rely on their world traveler statuses to get them to or through Chicago on a regular basis. And we will be back to visit… I love that everyone is so present online and I love that I’ve been in better touch with my friend E during her year in China than when she was here… I hope it will be like that with many newly long-distance friends. And especially the single mamas who are chilling out post 8pm and want to FaceTime…
So soon it will be farewell to “San Acisco” (which is what E calls the Golden Gate Bridge).
Lots of love,
We were having a lazy morning and all of a sudden it was 10am with no plan- so I decided to take E to the zoo. I guess that recent gorilla incident had me thinking about the zoo and we hadn’t been since E was a baby and way too little to appreciate it. Interestingly, when I asked him which animal he wanted to see most, he said “gorilla.” They were fun to watch, especially one that was spinning like a whirling dirvish. It would be virtually impossible to fall into their enclosure due to floor to ceiling windows from the viewing areas. (I must say, though, that for marginally supervised kids, there are a gazillion ways to get into serious trouble in most areas of the zoo. I think it’s kind of like Yosemite- much more “at your own risk” than you might think.)
This weekend, I’ve been pushing nap time and he’s been successfully transferring from the car! Lucky me- he is snoozing away and I just chopped all the fruit in the house and started the laundry. Now I can catch you up on night weaning.
I’ve been hemming and hawing about weaning for a while now, feeling paralyzed, resistant, unsure. Yet having the sense that at two years old we could stand to dial it back. Advice coming from a variety of trusted sources didn’t resonate. I set up a dinner date with my doula. Through pregnancy, she encouraged me to trust my intuition that I know best and don’t need to turn to books and experts. Yet I was struggling to get the right frequency on my intuition. It’s hard to get all the answers from within- to know what you need and what your kiddo needs…probably even more so without a co-parent. Sometimes you just need someone to reflect back what they’re hearing from you.
So, we went out for sushi, with E who really liked it. He let us talk while he worked on his chopsticks (aka drumming) skills. I laid it out for her- and I heard myself saying that I’m a natural mama, I’ve always breastfed on demand, my impulse is to just roll with it. I don’t want to impose limits on this or force him to slow his roll. I heard it. I heard it more the way she heard it, or the way I wasn’t hearing it, and it really helped.
I paused, and she said wisely, ‘K. In parenting, there are going to be many times when you’re going to have to say “no” and E isn’t going to like it.’
Lights went on in my mind. But I was a little defensive, like, “I know, totally, yes- I’m good at saying no! In other areas! Just not… this one. This one seems different somehow.” But even as I was talking, I realized that it’s not all that different. He’s not nursing for survival anymore. And I do get a vote here.
The most helpful thing she made me realize is that this isn’t just about withholding- I’m helping him learn to sleep through the night. And, let’s be honest- I really would love to sleep through the night. She said, “You wouldn’t let him wear Velcro shoes forever- you would help him learn to tie his laces.” I’ve been believing that nature would or should handle this, and it does for some kids. But this kid is going to take full advantage as long as the buffet is open.
I didn’t start right away. I ordered a book called “Nursies When the Sun Shines,” which is good for co-sleeping breastfeeding moms of toddlers- beautiful watercolors, simple messages about nursies going to sleep when the sun goes down. There is a dad in the bed too but he doesn’t factor into the actual words, interestingly. (Maybe I’ll write the one for co-sleeping breastfeeding SINGLE moms of toddlers- although something tells me this would be quite the niche market.)
I started talking to E about light/daytime and dark/nighttime, not knowing if any of it was getting through. I tried to read him the book- he sat through it once and now will have nothing to do with it. Truth be told, I think he totally gets what I’m saying and wants to ignore it! He’s never said no to any other book.
Friday night was Night One. I was nervous. I went to sleep with him at 8pm and woke up around 2am. I laid there thinking, “What are the chances that this is the night he sleeps through?” and, of course, it wasn’t. He woke up and, as usual, asked to nurse. The second he got denied, he cried hard, saying “no, no, no, no, no.” I don’t know if this is because it’s the first time I’ve outright denied him (I’ve definitely paused before) or because he was disappointed that “the nursies were sleeping.” I listened closely, analyzing to see if the cry was different from, say, when I don’t allow him to bring his tricycle in the car on the way to school. It was. It was a more soulful cry. Or maybe he was just sleepy. I didn’t cry. I felt like a scientist, watching and waiting, trying to soothe him different ways. He rolled to the other side of the bed for a while, putting space between us. Then he came back and figured out how to snuggle with me with our heads together, quiet with his eyes open, eyeball to eyeball. It wasn’t easy but it definitely wasn’t the end of the world. I told him a story. He relaxed and went to sleep. He woke a few hours later, whimpered, and went back to sleep in two minutes.
Last night was Night Two and I felt so much more conviction. Once you invest the work you don’t want to undo it. This doesn’t feel as sad as I thought it would. I’m teaching how to sleep through the night. He woke again around 2am and went in and out of whimpering (never full-on crying) for maybe 15-20 minutes with snoozing in between. I think that was it. He was on the boob like white on rice in the morning. I think he’ll get the daytime/nighttime distinction quickly.
Nursing to sleep at bedtime isn’t working well lately. He keeps saying “other side” eight times over the course of an hour and then sits up and tells me something about excavators, diggers, and bulldozers in a fully awake voice. And cement trucks and crane trucks. He needs to learn how to fall asleep at bedtime too- but we’ll take this one step at a time.
Like everything else! xo