Sunday, February 13, 2011

Two Months Old

On February 16, our little boy turned two months old! As he is growing, so are Greg and I both as parents and individuals. Or maybe we are just trying to keep up!

The first part of this month was unfortunately characterized by a nightly 'witching hour' where Will would weep and wail for 2, 3 or even 4 hours at a time. Greg caught the brunt of this as it usually began about supper time when Papa takes him to give Mama a break. We learned from other parents and websites that this is a pretty normal feature of infant development, and may last until month 4......but say it ain't so! As William's tears were mostly related to gas and we learned some exercises to help him pass it, and we jiggled and soothed and rocked and sang and walked....he has been doing much better in this last week so hopefully we are through the worst of it.

These rocky nights are more bearable as he is usually a lovely little guy during the day. He is smiling a lot and making gorgeous cooing noises. He is more interested in the world around him, and his favorite things to stare at are lights and book cases! He also likes his little toys and is beginning to reach for them himself. He loves to lay in his crib and 'talk' to his Peter Rabbit pictures. He can hold his head straight up, and has strong legs as well. He definately prefers to be out and about! We have visited Greg's office, and gone out to playdates which is really nice for Mummy. We played our first game of peekaboo while getting changed the other day, and he has graduated to being bathed in the big bathtub as his legs were getting too long for the kitchen sink. Most of his newborn clothes no longer fit, and the other day he wore a gorgeous blue velvet outfit that I bought for him when I learned I was having a boy. He also recently did a half roll....his stationary days are numbered I wager. He is quite social, and helped Daddy to celebrate his 42 birthday.

At his last check up William weighed 5.5 kilos...over 12 lbs! All this growth requires a lot of fuel, so he has been a very hungry little fellow; at times he eats every 20 minutes! This can be a little hard on Mum, but a good feed is often followed by a good sleep, so that helps. He typically eats at 1 am, 3 a, 6 am and 9 am but lately has been giving up his 1 am feeding, allowing Mum a little more sleep.

We feel a little more confident going out with William now and so have done 2 driving trips in our new-to-us Renault. We went to Fontainebleau Castle a few weeks ago, which was very opulent. Will did well until the trip home when he cried himself into vomiting...not fun. Next we went to Chartres to see the famous cathedral. This trip home went better as when he started to fuss we sang. He prefers zippy tunes and he even giggled when we sang 'the Happy Wanderer' (appropriate, yes?). Last weekend we took him with us to a movie which caused a bit of consternation with the French viewers, many who said they never saw a baby at a theatre before! They were relieved that Will stayed asleep after a good feed (so were we!).

This growth in William has mirrored the growth that Greg and I are experiencing as parents. We feel a little less green (both literally and figuratively)and better understand what he needs. We recognize his "hungry cry" or know when he's bored to go for a walk. Thanks to friends and visiting Nana, we have managed to get out for a few dates, even though we continue to miss all the time we had together before. Greg is a wonderful father, and I am starting to relish my new job as "Mum".

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Today I have lived in Paris for one year. Can you believe it? How did it go so fast? How did it go so slow?

In January I put up my new calendar and took the old one down. As I always do, I glanced through the old one. Its a bit of a tradition, a look back on the old year, a kind of reckoning. The old calendar was amusing; before I left Ottawa the days looked like this: sell house! sell car! see all friends! put stuff in storage! call movers! finish work! figure out why I am doing this! After I moved to Paris, the calendar looked like this: . Big Fat Goose Egg. No wonder I had difficulty changing gears once I got here.

Greg asked me how I felt at my one year mark. I told him: 1. that my current life is completely unrecognizable from my old life 2. that I need to buckle down to doing the things I want to do here, like more travel and learning French, 'cause time is ticking down 3. One year of my 3 year jail term is over. God bless him, he laughed instead of whacking me over the head.

You've all heard me whinge about Paris. Its not been my favorite place in the world (the cottage is) and its been a ginourmous life change. But you know what? There are good things about being here too. I've come to appreciate -and probably will miss- certain aspects of life here.

Such as the completely awesome public transpo (didn't think I'd pick that one eh?) The Metro, bus and cycling systems are so cheap and efficient. For a euro or two I can take a long bus ride that wends past all the big monuments. For a euro! Compare that to Ottawa's bus that cost 3 bucks for a few blocks, comes twice per day and smells like a wet dog.

Another thing I've come to enjoy is the gentility with which people interact with each other. In a city of millions who are crammed into a teeny tiny space, interpersonal relations could quickly become very Lord of the Flies. But they don't(mostly) because (mostly) Parisians are very polite. Everyone is addressed as sir or madam even in a dispute; everyone even teenagers will greet you with a good day and hold the door for you. Watching two Parisians interact is a joy: they start out with the deux bisous then start an animated conversation peppered with 'je vous en prie' which loosely translates to 'I pray you will allow me'. Their language is lyrical, their expressions animated and the pleasure of conversation is apparent. A similar pleasure is taken in simple daily transactions at the pressing and boulangerie.

And I love that people don't rush. They walk briskly. They conduct themselves efficiantly. But that sense of 'hurry hurry' that permeates North America is absent here. Especially on the weekend. Especially over a meal. There is true enjoyment, a savoring of tastes and company.

And of course, it is a beautiful city. The creamy stone that informs architecture all over the city glows at sunset; monuments pop into view when you least expect them; the old is kept, and layered on the new. There are secret pockets of neighborhoods all over Paris just waiting to surprise you with their hidden charms. Becuase of this even in such a big city it is easy to have a private Paris, one consisting of your own favorite haunts and private places.

But like anywhere, Paris is made most special by the people in it. After all, it is the people that I miss most from home. And it is the people here that are making my time in Paris more enjoyable. Our neighbors are beginning to nod and smile in the elevator, and the florist knows my name. We have made truly wonderful new friends, and we are bound together by the common experience of expat life. It is with gratitude that I thank my new, and already very dear, friends for making Paris a happier place for me.

PS: picture is of my 'secret garden' part of my own private Paris....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Parenthood Ain't for Sissies

Being a Mom is a hard, hard gig. And the hardest part? The constant self doubt. Am I doing this right? What is 'right'? Is my child secure enough? Is he disciplined enough? Am I setting up good routines for the future?

And its hard to screw up the courage to ask other Moms these questions. They seem to have it all together; they seem confident in their decisions. They say 'follow your intinct'. What if I have no instinct? Did mine dissapear because I waited until the age of 38 to have my baby?

And here's another thing: Moms can be pretty hard on each other. In an area of life that requires complete solidarity, I observe a lot of judgement. Which is strange, because in other areas of life (marriage, career etc.) I think women are pretty supportive of the choices their peers make. There is a lot of freedom to 'do what's right for you'. If your choice results in failure, women say 'hey, you tried your best; better luck next time'. So far, I do not observe the same support in the arena of motherhood. And this makes it even harder to admit it when you're having a rough time.

The ultimate Thing To Never Admit is if you're not sure how you feel about the squalling ball of fury that is your child. The fairy tale of instant bond between mother and child is alive and well. If that particular sentiment passes you by, don't admit it. It'll shock the pants off your listener.

Of course, you'll probably fall in love with our child over time (the way we fell in love with our partners; how many people actually experienced love at first sight, right?). And I'll probably gain confidence in my decisions as I practise making them. All these challenges are temporary in nature and part of the process of growing into being a parent. But this is the key: GROWing into being a parent. It is a PROCESS, a process in which we (I) need supportive friends, and an encouraging society. Let's stop being so hard on each other. Let's stop being so hard on ourselves. 'Cause man, being a Mom is hard enough.