We did that.

When my daughter was fifteen months she was going through a small sleep regression. For a few nights she would stand in her crib and scream her head off. This was out of the ordinary, she has been the best sleeper since she was tiny and I like to think my husband and I had a lot to do with it. We set a good sleep foundation, We read the books and put it into practice. Some people think and literally say out loud directly to me… ‘You’re just lucky. Your next will be crazy’ Maybe you psychopath…but we worked hard at it too, and if you don’t give my husband and I credit for every good characteristic of my first born, you’re dead to us. We did this, haha. The work that I put into it, and her fairly relaxed demeanor has my bar high, and my patience low. If she takes more than ten minutes to fall asleep, I am sent into a spiral of anxiety. I am not complaining, I am just saying its made me weak. In my opinion, her routine is of utmost importance, my threshold for a shift in the routine is almost zero, and so far I haven’t had any issues. We rarely need to ‘go with the flow’ or keep her up past her bedtime. People say stuff like, “its nice if she can fall asleep anywhere.” People’s conjecture made me think having her on a strict routine was going to make me less flexible or cool. Her routine is what provides me freedom. Having my baby at a restaurant so I can finish a cocktail is not how I want to spend my free time and the truth is, I let her change my day to day, my entire life, and I love it. I’ve never needed her to sleep in an obscure location, and I’ve never thought, “damn.. I wish she could just sleep in that chair.” Leave the passing out in chairs to my husband on the nights she is with Grandma.

Anyway, for some reason during this sleep ‘regression’, I threw one of those pacifiers with the stuffed animal attached into her crib and she fell right asleep clenching that giraffe like it was all she fucking had and sucking that pacifier like Maggie Simpson. Perfect, that solved my immediate issue and I was back to my regular scheduled Bravo show. It was either a pacifier or I’d hold her until college. Those were the options as I saw them. From fifteen months on, the pacifier has been lovingly called, “Waffe” short for Giraffe in toddler dialect, and a staple in our home. A friend, a comfort item, her favorite thing. I constantly call it by the name she’s given it and walk around the house looking for “Raffe” or “Raffie” sounding like a fucking imbecile. Sort of like when adults refer to the bathroom as ‘potty.’ If I ever say that and a child isn’t present, smack me over the head with a bottle of UV Blue, and make me take a warm pull of it out of water bottle, because I AM NOT AN ADULT at that point.

She’ll be two next month, and before bed the other night I grabbed her pacifier and noticed she had bitten the tip almost completely off. Shit. This was a choking hazard. In that moment, I put my safety hat on and cut the tip off knowing this was going to be a shit show. I wasn’t ready for the tears and this was absolutely not a milestone either of us were ready for, emotionally. Societal pressure and the potential dental catastrophe sat in the back of my mind. She cannot have a pacifier anymore, now is the time. I only have enough bandwidth to mentally prepare for one set of braces. We aren’t going to be one of those families who has to do the whole set twice, not on my fucking watch and definitely not on my dime. I didn’t have time to explain, it was bed time, she was already over tired. Our usual nighttime routine commenced and continued through the tears, she would look look at her giraffe and chuck it across the room, then scream for it hoping her biggest fear wasn’t actually true. She sobbed in her crib for over thirty minutes and I walked in and picked her up. She sat in my lap and was calm, we read one more book and I placed her back in her crib upon her request. In the presence of others, she was fine. It was when she was alone with her thoughts that the heartbreak hit. After I turned the knob on her door, and walked out of her room, I grabbed my keys and yelled to my husband, “going to Target.” I pulled into the parking lot and ran into the store during a torrential downpour, walked to the baby aisle, grabbed a giraffe wubbanub, looked at the new Ulta section, picked up a Morphe eye pallet and left. I left the store with an easy out and a gift for me. When I came back home, she was still awake but silent, literally twiddling her thumbs. Eventually she fell asleep. I threw her her giraffe’s understudy, recently purchased from Target, into my closet hoping he didn’t need to steal the show during a 2am dramatic reenactment of a few hours prior.

The next morning, I was expecting a child who forgot. Forgot the heartbreak, forgot about her giraffe issues, and was ready for a new day. Instead I walked into her room, she rustled about, saw that I was in there, and sadly said, ‘waffe paci fall out’ trying to fight back tears. I told her Giraffe grows with her, and Giraffe knew she was ready for the pacifier to fall off. I explained that as we get bigger, things change and we have to let go so we can have lots of time for more fun things. We talked about other fun things she was going to do that day. As she started to cheer up, we left for daycare. She asked to bring her giraffe in the car and she held onto it the whole ride there. We arrived at daycare, she put it in the cup holder of her car seat and said, ‘bye bye waffe, paci fall off’ and asked me to pick her up. I walked her to the door and she gave me the biggest hug, her mood was solemn or maybe mine was and she was completely normal. I left daycare drop off a crying mess. Her emotion was something I’ve felt before, and watching her go through it was worse than I imagined. Her reaction was true sadness and no drama. I don’t stick my foot in my mouth about parenting, often. I didn’t have big claims of things i would *NEVER* do. I have a few, but nothing has blown my mind except for the emotional attachment I feel to her reasonable emotions. I always thought moms were crazy for feeling deeply saddened by literally nothing. The joke is on me.

My husband and I picked her up from daycare since we had plans after. I asked about her giraffe since I wanted an open line of communication and a sense of preparedness as we approached bedtime. Without missing a beat she said, “mom cut paci off,” not mad, not sad, just matter of fact. My sympathy immediately turned to defensiveness, “I cut it off and it probably saved your life, it was a choking hazard.” She went to bed that night, and didn’t give a shit about her giraffe.

There is no moral or theme here. I don’t have an uplifting message, I just felt like writing this story. But my parting words are as follows: Maybe my words got her through, maybe she decided distraction by daycare was the best medicine. Either my words or my checkbook, my husband and I are still responsible for impeccable coping mechanisms which is another great characteristic of my first born. We did that.


Nineteen Ninety Eight

What was it like to be an adult in the late 90s? Also, what was it like to raise a child in the late 90s? That had to be nice, right? Were things *easier?* The current decade allows for many conveniences, but do they outweigh the bad? I can’t decide. Toddler moms of decades past say things like, “oh, it wasn’t so different.” Honestly, I have a hard time believing that, the information overload kills me and there are a lot of rules. Did you know you’re not supposed to give kids Orajel anymore? Haha, maybe you knew.. I didn’t. Well, until a *concerned* mom told someone else in a Facebook group.

I am not ONLY talking about being a mother in the 90s as a collective society, either. I’m also referring to me, specifically. Who would my husband, Dan, and I be without social media throughout extremely formative years, without smart phones, Google, and social media. Growing up sitting in inflatable chairs purchased from Limited Too certainly had a butterfly effect on my entire human existence. Who would I be without that experience? What would my job be? Would I have had a child at 25 because Instagram wasn’t around to convince me I should be traveling? What kind of mom would I be without Pinterest. How the hell would I know the latest superfoods? How would I be marketed to if there wasn’t an algorithm. Would I even know the term, algorithm?

Although the alternate reality where I am an adult in 1998 will never be known, let me paint an evening for you, because that’s what I like to do in my spare time. I think of fiction scenarios based on real life events, and if there’s an argument, I always win.

Dan and I are 30, Dylan is 1 but the year is 1998. To preface this, I was actually 8 in 1998 and my only memories include watching Toy Story, going to basketball practice, and slicking back my ponytail tight. I loved Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and so badly wanted braces. I have no clue if all my references are right, but if you feel like fact checking- please, go right ahead, Karen.

Dan sits down on the couch grabbing the remote control. He points it towards our entertainment system and clicks ‘power on,’ a laugh track fills the room, as Ray Ramono’s voice is heard throughout the main level and into the kitchen. “Can you turn that down?” I yell to Dan sitting on the couch. I prepare dinner while Dylan is on the kitchen floor next to me. She’s drinking kool-aid out of a bottle, and playing with an old Beanie Baby.

I have my hands in a bowl of ground beef trying to mix in random ingredients while simultaneously reading the notecard my mom hand wrote her meatloaf recipe on, in between step 1 and step 2, I ask Dan, “hey, this weekend, we should send Dylan to your parents so we can start to paint that main wall three shades darker. I’d love a feature wall in here and think it will give the room a Tuscan feel.” He continues to nod along, but isn’t actually listening.

Once dinner is prepared we sit down at the table, the news is now on providing a low buzz of background noise. “Mark McGwire hits his 70th home run of the season,” reports the man on NBC who is wearing a ridiculously large suit. The home run race of the MLB season keeps us excited while the Clinton scandal keeps us on our toes. We continue to eat dinner, discussing Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Bill, and Monica. Halfway into dinner, the phone rings, I get up to answer, “Hello?” “Good evening Ma’am, this is Blockbuster video, your rental, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is two days overdue, Thank you.” I hang up the phone, and turn to the dinner table with a furrowed brow and a sharp tongue.

Dan, I TOLD you “Saving Private Ryan” is a new release, so its a two day rental. Where is it?” Dan looks up from his meal, confused and calm.”I don’t know, probably in the VCR?” “Can you drop it off at Blockbuster after dinner?” I angrily ask.

As I am clearing out plates from the table, Dan is in the family room. I see him walk up to the VCR, bend over so he’s eye level with the shelf it sits on, flip the VCR flap up revealing the film in the player. He closes it, and starts shuffling the other videos sitting nearby. I lift Dylan out of her highchair and place her on the floor, she runs to her Fisher Price red barn and grabs a plastic cow, she bangs it on the side of the coffee table as Dan steps around her looking for the VHS. He can’t find it. “Is it downstairs?” I ask. He bends down to look under the coffee table and says “No… I didn’t bring it downstairs.” Adding the late fees in my head, I remind Dan sarcastically, “you could easily buy an iMac with the late fees you’ve paid Blockbuster!” He scoffed while trying to outwit me, “I’ll never need an Apple product…”

As the evening progresses we drop the subject, I put Dylan to bed, and retire to my bedroom. I turn on my Panasonic and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ starts playing. I close my eyes and sigh, remembering two evenings before when I fell asleep before barely getting into the movie. I removed it from the VCR downstairs after Dan had watched it. I get out of bed, and grab the video, embarrassed, and continue down the stairs to the kitchen looking for Dan to apologize. Once I arrive on the main level, he isn’t there. He must be in the basement. Although this is a lesson in humility, it doesn’t have to be. I walk over to the family room, and bend down. I open the plastic roof of Dylan’s Fisher Price red barn, and place the VHS to “find” in the morning while we play. As I return upstairs, lay back down in my bed, I turn on my tv and laugh at my sneaky solution.

The next morning, I walk downstairs. Dan and Dylan are playing in the family room. Dylan is picking up her toy animals and placing them in front of the toy barn, Dan peaks in the red barn and pulls out Saving Private Ryan with an annoyed look on his face. Internally, I realize I am wrong, but when harmless plans are executed, I am not one to ruin them with small details. He turns to me and says, “Kara, I found the movie.. apparently Dylan hid it.” I respond casually, never admitting my mistake, “thanks, will you return it today?” He answers, “Yea- I’ll leave in a bit.” After a small pause he adds, “Hey! Imagine if you could always pull movies out of a magic Redbox..”

Raising Dads – Part 3: a Random Weekday Evening.

This is an excerpt of a random weekday evening. Its a peak into the mundane arguments we have, and the ordinary process of our nights. I wrote this the night it happened and just read it back to my husband, Dan. We were both laughing as we remembered the events and he is still standing by his initial opinion outlined below.

Dinner is over. I look at my daughter, Dylan, she’s sitting in her high chair moving her hand from left to right as fast as she can making a windshield wiping motion. She’s done eating and if I want to avoid all her leftovers from hitting the floor, I have to act fast. I somehow consistently remain unprepared for this constant occurrence. I stand up, walk over to grab the washcloth on the kitchen island ten feet from our meal and run back to wipe Dylan’s hands and face, abruptly, stopping her after dinner ritual. I take her out of the high chair and am holding her.

Dan asks, “when you were going to get the rag, why didn’t you bring your plate to the sink? It was on the way.”

I stand with my eyes wide open and pause for a moment comprehending what he asked and wondering if I heard him right? I set Dylan down on the ground, and she takes off. After careful thought and consideration, I react. Dylan is at the fridge trying to shove her Melissa and Doug brand wood magnets into her mouth, and I ask him, “oh I’m sorry, does my process not make sense to you? What? Is it out of order?” He responds, “you never grab your plate, so I always have to.”

Dan is task driven, efficient, an executor, and is a modern day Danny Tanner. The ship he runs is a Special Operations Craft with rules in place and a specific task to complete. If you step out of line you threaten the task at hand and the safety of the ship. The ship I run is one of those booze cruise pirate ship excursions in Mexico. It’s laid back, easy going, but still adheres to a schedule. We are headed in a general direction, I am responsible for the people on board, but there are drinks served. There are pros and cons to each. Dan will accomplish a mission efficiently, correctly, and relax later. I will accomplish a mission in the time allotted, missing a detail, but we will have fun doing it.

The night continues and we discuss priorities. I explain my priority is always our child and while I appreciate a clean kitchen the timeline of when it gets done can be flexible. He acknowledged my thought and ensured me that he agreed. We left that night with the following understanding: Clean baby followed by clean kitchen.

Fast forward two nights.

Dinner is over, and Dylan’s nighttime routine commences. Dan is done eating and stands up from his chair to grab her. She holds up both hands showing us her palms and then the back of her hand, signing “all done”. She starts screeching while windshield wiping her high chair tray. Tonight there is a rag already at the table, a proactive task in which Dan has completed and I am mildly impressed. Dan lifts Dylan out of her chair, and puts her on the ground, while he asks, “Can you come get her?” She looks up at me with avocado covered hands and food stuck to her pants. He takes the rag and starts to wipe up her high chair, I’m grinning and say, “Are you serious?” Dylan is standing near his leg trying to eat the pieces of food she previously threw on the floor. The high chair tray is spotless and he’s completed the first task on the checklist in HIS head but overlooking the tiny green avocado monster who stands at our feet. He starts laughing as self awareness washes over him, he bends down and wipes Dylan’s hands and face. He stands up, and I ask, “No, why didn’t you bring your plate to the sink?”