Why I call you Mouse.Posted: March 7, 2013
I’ve been secretly calling Tater #1 by the name of Mouse for a while. Thought I’d share why. That, and I’m anxious about tomorrow’s appointment we have with the ENT so I’m using this as a distraction… (I also apologize for the formatting. I’m clearly not in charge of this blog formatting.)
I want you to know why I call you Mouse. It is funny, really.
My stay-at-home mom status was involuntary. When I started to grow you in my belly, I managed the food and nutrition services for a non-profit. I liked it. I had the potential to go places. Before that, I’d worked as a counselor in a level 12 group home (there is 14, then hospital commitment) and then in a professional kitchen. I’d gone from an emotionally nuts job to a physically nuts job, and I was pretty pleased to have finally found a regular ol’ job. (I know you’re thinking, “Hm… mom’s resume is a little strange. What’s up with that?” It just happened like that, what can ya do.)
So there I was pregnant, employed, and waiting for you to come join me and your dad. We were pretty psyched when you came. You were the most beautiful thing in the world. We waited the requisite weeks until we introduced a bottle, as we’d been warned that giving breastfed babies the bottle too early could cause all sorts of confusion. About thirty seconds into your first experience with the plastic boob, you started screaming your head off. Two days later, try again, different bottle. Scream. Try again, different temperature. Scream. Outside? Scream. Grandma gives it? Scream. Sit in the swing with it? Scream. Scream. Scream.
In the meantime, we had a nanny share fall through (crazy nanny = no more nanny share) and were hunting for another. You’d also decided that you’d only be held by me and sometimes Daddy. You’d even crossed Halmi (your way of saying “grandma” in Korean) off the “accepted” list. (She still remembers. You should apologize.)
Despite these worries, we found this wonderful elementary school teacher who was offering to watch one baby along with her slightly older son. Dad and I were still concerned about your refusal of the bottle and strangers, but you were coming up on eating solids, and we figured, how stubborn can you be?
The first week was pretty rough. You cried. A lot. Didn’t eat a thing unless I drove over from work and nursed you. Then the minute I left, you cried.
That weekend, we agonized. Were we totally screwing you up by allowing you to cry like this? Would you be emotionally stunted and turn into a serial killer? It broke my heart, but you see, I needed to get back to work. I’d already delayed and they were waiting. I kind of liked working. I got to shower and dress up, and people talked to me with words. I had a product at the end of the day, then I got to see you. It seemed pretty ideal. Ok, one more week.
After another week of crying and driving to nurse you a couple times a day, I got a call around 4pm…
Nanny: I think you should come, she’s been crying since you left this morning.
Me: Ok, I just need to pack up then…
Nanny: I’m just not sure if this is working…
Me (feeling exhausted, sad, and alarmed): Let’s talk when I get there.
Nanny: I mean, my son won’t eat, who could eat with such an unhappy person right there?? I just don’t know… I’ve tried everything, she just doesn’t like me! (sobbing)
Me: I’m really sorry, let’s just talk when I get there, I’m on my way.
Nanny: I’m a good mother!
You totally broke her spirit, Mouse. You cried every minute of every day. Not the way some babies cry a bit, get quiet, then cry again. I believe that is called fussing. You screamed at the top of your lungs the entire time. You lost your little baby voice for two weeks. You sounded like the Godfather, just really fat and half Asian.
We tried one more nanny with no other babies. We thought maybe you just didn’t want to share someone’s attentions. After two days of nonstop crying, it was clear. You were running the show, and you were more likely to toilet train yourself at 4 months old than stand aside and let me go back to work. We even called Judy, our midwife. After delivering hundreds and hundreds of babies, she must have come across a baby like you.
Me: So you have never seen a baby like this?
Midwife: Well, yes, I have.
Me: What did they do?
Midwife: She quit her job.
Dad and I looked at our finances and decided that we could make it, and I gave notice.
So, Mouse, do you get it? You’ve got some strong opinions, girl.
I’ll be honest. There are times when I’m wistful about not working outside the home. This is especially true if I have to dress up and realize that I haven’t bought anything except t-shirts for the last five years. When I’m doing the dishes for the hundredth time that day and you are following me around asking me if you can watch TV right after I’d already said no, I wonder what it would be like to be eating at my desk by myself, listening to NPR, with no stains on my clothes. I have some anxiety about what is going to happen when you’re older, will I be able to resurrect some sort of career?
But, most other times I am so happy I stayed home that I could burst. Like the other day, I was trying to clean up the kitchen, and LP was fussing in his bouncy chair. All by yourself you went up, gave him a little kiss, and said quietly…
“When you get bigger, I’ll teach you how to crawl, then you won’t never get sad ’cause you can always find me.”
Then you went off to stop your sister from dismantling your newest art project from preschool. Your work is never done.
All My Love,
The Woman Who Birthed You