Monthly Archives: September 2017

#20 – Guilt Chronicles Part II

This is what guilt looks like.

I work full time, my roundtrip commute can range an average of two to three hours. I leave work at 3:00pm and usually pick up my daughter by 4:30pm. When we get home she gets a snack, then play time, another snack, reading/practicing the alphabet and numbers and dinner at 6:30pm. Bath time is at 7:30pm and in bed by 8:30pm. This is our routine Monday – Friday. There’s little room for outside activities. Sometimes we go to the park or for a walk but most of the time, playtime is in the yard. On weekends she usually has music class and we try to do fun things that are not on a schedule. Sometimes it’s the aquarium, the Museum of Natural History or pony rides at an equestrian center not far from the house. There’s also the occasional birthday party or a trip to visit my sister or Matt’s dad.

All this to say that because of my work schedule, I never went to a Mommy and Me class or a swimming class with Hudson. I am grateful that I was on maternity leave for seven months even though I’m still catching up financially from the loss of income, it was well worth it.

We are lucky to have friends and family with swimming pools. Hudson loves the water and I feel bad that I haven’t taken her to a weekly swim class. Most of these classes are during the work week and I don’t want to manipulate our weekend with another activity on top of the music class.

I usually take a weekend day to clean the house, do laundry and cook for the week. So to alleviate my guilt, I found a swim class that meets on Friday afternoons at 5:40pm. It’s a private class meaning it’s four times more expensive than the parent/child lessons. We are starting next week. I am not a good swimmer because the only lessons I ever took were as an adult. I don’t want my daughter to miss out on a potentially lifesaving skill because I have to work and can’t take her.

My husband drops Hudson off at daycare in the mornings, or at school as I like to call it. He has a long commute too and gets home around 7:00pm. He is sad to be missing her swim lessons but doesn’t feel guilty about it. He misses out on things that Hudson and I do, like when my boss is traveling and I leave work early, we go to the aquarium or the beach. He hates missing out on things but guilt doesn’t bog him down the way it does for me. I am getting better, it helps when I see how independent, smart, vivacious and loving my daughter is.

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#19 – Guilt Chronicles

This is what guilt looks like.

Last Sunday, my daughter began a new semester of music class. She has been going since she was six months old. In the class, parents and their children sit in a circle and we sing songs, play musical instruments and dance, all lead by a wonderful music teacher.

When we pulled into the parking lot, my daughter was squealing. Her little squeals are a sure sign of her love for whatever or whoever she is squealing at. I am greeted with this happy squeal when I pick her up from school, her school teacher gets greeted with the same squeal as does her father when he gets home.

When we got to music class, she was running around, being very vocal and loud. I did not once tell her to be quiet but I stayed on top of her because there were a lot of new babies in the class. She would run up to the babies but never touched them nor was she threatening. However, I am Dominican and my first thought was about el que dira, what will people say?

There was a kid last semester who had to be dismissed from the class because he made other kids feel unsafe. The class is mixed age, from babies to five years old. The little boy was three. He was being a typical three year old but his mother never disciplined him. He threw a drum at a baby that luckily the baby’s father blocked with his hand. He would trip kids, hug too tight or hug without permission and played rough. The child’s mother was spoken to several times and my husband and I judged, I think everyone judged.  It wasn’t the kid that bothered me but how his mother laughed off his behavior, was dismissive of people’s concern about the safety of their children and never once told him to behave.  It was hard to enjoy the class when you have to be on guard. When he threw a triangle across the room, his mother was asked to leave. I felt bad for the little boy and even for his mom. The triangle is made of steel and could have sent someone to the hospital. I try not to judge people’s parenting style but like I said, I am Dominican and that mother’s behavior does not fly with me.

My daughter was in no way harmful or made anyone feel unsafe but in my opinion she was disruptive. My husband thought she was being cute which made me fume. He suggested that if I felt so terrible about Hudson’s behavior in the class, I should email the teacher letting her know how I felt.  I was annoyed that he couldn’t see how his child’s behavior could possible be experienced as troublesome by other parents. Then again, my husband is white and not concerned with el que dira.

I don’t think there was anything to discipline because what was I going to say to Hudson? Be quiet or stay still? I am not about to start making my daughter feel self-conscious or giving her complejos that will follow her into adulthood. I enrolled her in music class so she can be creative and express herself.

And that’s when the guilt crept in. I had been too busy during the week trying to win a Fitbit challenge with some east coast friends. Instead of letting my daughter run and play in the yard like I usually do, I contained her in the stroller so I could get my 15k-20k per day.  Was it my fault that she was so hyper at the end of the week? This was not normal behavior for her but it set me off, blaming myself for her needing to run around the class.

I’m trying to be better, to chuck her behavior to a fifteen month old being a fifteen month old. This week I will let her run in the park and see how she does in music class at the end of the week.

#18 – Gratitude

Hudson9.25.17My daughter will be sixteen months next week. After trying relentlessly since 2013 to get pregnant, I gave birth in 2016. It took a Reproductive Endocrinologist here in Los Angeles, a Reproductive Immunologist from New York and his Reproductive Surgeon who removed three large cysts that were undetectable with an ultrasound to get me pregnant on my fifth round of IVF. I have chronicled some of my infertility journey here and in a lot of my unpublished writing.

I found my pregnancy and now motherhood, hard to believe.  That after all the struggles, physically and emotionally, I had a healthy pregnancy, an easy delivery and a super easy baby. Even through teething, Hudson has been a delight. I expected that pregnancy and motherhood would be a lot harder. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy but based on how I’ve seen family and friends struggle, I was preparing for all the bad things and none of the joy that came with pregnancy and now motherhood. I am still in awe, and sometimes feel that I’m in one of those dreams where you win the lotto and it feels so real but then you wake up and you’re not a millionaire about to quit your job and start a do-gooding foundation.

Every morning I set my alarm clock thirty minutes earlier than the time I need to wake up. My daughter still sleeps with us. She wraps herself around my right arm, using my upper arm as a pillow, I spoon her to sleep and in the middle of the night she ends up closer to Matt. When my alarm goes off and I wake up next to my husband and baby, I give THANKS to God, the Universe and all the forces that made this happen. I say a prayer of gratitude and smell my daughter’s hair, giving her light kisses while I hold my partner’s hand. I do this for about twenty minutes every morning.

Starting my day with gratitude has lessened my anxieties about family, motherhood and life in general, I think it’s why my daughter is so easy going. It’s not to say that I don’t stress about things, or that my daughter doesn’t test my patience at times.  My strategy has always been to prepare for the worst case scenario but as I’ve gotten older, I realize that my worst case scenarios rarely come to fruition. I’ve learned to breathe through the chaos of life and enjoy the chaotic moments.