06 May 2008

Hurricane Benny

It’s amazing to watch Benny grow and develop everyday. He’s getting into everything now—cupboards, shelves, books, the stereo, food on the floor, my backpack, my purse—really, anything within reach. And his reach is expanding dramatically. He stands and walks along the furniture, reaching ever so carefully for a set of car keys, a magazine, a used tissue, anything that looks interesting. He’s even saying mamamamamama with such joy that I can’t help but think that he’s starting to link the sound to me (it’s wishful thinking; he does the same thing with dadadada, abooo, nananana).

The learning process, however, is messy, as any parent will tell you. It starts in the morning. Nate typically gets up with Benny, changes his diaper, and then brings him into our bed for some good old fashioned family time. It’s such a bright part of the day for Nate since he doesn’t get to spend much time with Benny. Then we bring him out for breakfast. I encourage him to get into his toy box while I make him breakfast. Note: this is the only time of the day Benny is actually interested in his toys. He eats with deliberate concentration (he hasn’t eaten in over 12 hours—a long time for his little belly). We get dressed. Well, I dress Benny and I’m lucky if I can keep him occupied long enough in my room to get dressed myself. I usually wear things over and over and over because I don’t have enough time to pick out new outfits everyday.

And then, the eye of the storm arrives. Benny crawls around for about an hour, exploring anything and everything in his path. He loves stuff that rolls now (balls, my lotion containers, his snot extractor) and chases it all over the apartment, pausing to climb on the coffee table or find cheerios on the floor. And then the storm abates for nap time (precious, precious nap time).

When Benny wakes up, we go through nearly the same process over again (usually getting him dressed again after some food or poop accident). And it goes on all day.

I’ve gotten in the habit of complaining, whining, detailing how I don’t get anything done on my dissertation. My advisor, who is a wonderful mother of two little boys, wrote me today and told me to stop being so hard on myself. She should know. She wrote her dissertation with a little baby as well. But, instead of taking the easy road of textual analysis (comme moi), she carried out an ethnography with a baby in tow. Not a small feat. After going through my day with Benny, I really appreciate her support. She’s right. It’s not like I’m completely unproductive all day. I’m lucky enough to watch my baby grow right before my eyes AND manage to put clothes on at some point in the day.

During nap times I’ve gotten better about reading journal articles and taking notes for my literature review. In the past week, I’ve read over 10. That’s progress. Slow progress, but progress. And tonight I’ll be visiting the library for the first time. But before I go to the library, I must complete my day with Benny.

Today was a bit of anomaly. I was very productive during a long morning nap. I thought I could repeat my performance during a decent afternoon nap. Today was the day Benny decided to take a 45-minute afternoon nap. Since he’s had a bad case of diaper rash, we’ve been letting him gallivant around sans diaper. Usually he pees a few times. Not a problem. Today, in the span of 45 minutes, he peed three times on the wood floor before peeing twice on the rug. Then, going for the world record, he peed again on the wood floor, POOPED on the wood floor, and then peed on my shoe while giggling. Yes, he was giggling. And after I said, “Oh Bear!” I was giggling.

All the while I was making him some pears for dinner and managed to cut my finger because the peeler was in the dishwasher and I was using a steak knife. Then Nate walks in, scoops up Benny, and Momma gets herself some rest.

And, that is a day in the life of a graduate student mother.


JIA said...

Sara, after reading your posts, I felt so sorry that I didn't ask about what you've been through since Ben's birth, and probably share some pain with you. It's amazing that you've been through so much, and even though sometimes you had complains you still acted as the greatest and strongest mommy I've ever seen.

Now that I am in the same situation as you did a year ago, I understand more of your pain, as well as the joy. Dustin is right, you've done such a great job, don't push yourself too much on the dissertation writing.

Please call me anytime you need someone to listen to you. I am all ear for you.


JIA said...

Happy FIRST Mother's Day!