Friday, April 17, 2015

8 Bizarre Baby Behaviors

I feel like babies are known for doing weird things (if Youtube videos are any indication), and my son, Rayden, is certainly no exception. This week I'm sharing some of these odd behaviors, and hopefully he's not the only 8-month-old doing these things...

1. He takes off his sunglasses within seconds of my placing them on his head; he immediately puts them in his mouth and chews on them thoughtfully.

2. While gnawing on those sunglasses during walks, he also kicks up his feet onto the cupholders of his stroller and leans back to enjoy the ride with a bottle of milk. Livin' the easy life.

3. He prefers walking to crawling. The problem is, he can't walk on his own, obviously, so he will fuss until we hold his arms, help him stand, and "walk" him around (then, of course, he is all smiles!). Also, instead of getting up on two knees and two hands to crawl, he will occasionally lift himself into the "downward dog" position and make frustrated noises before collapsing. He will sometimes balance himself precariously on one foot and two arms and two feet and one arm for several seconds before slowly, awkwardly, tipping over. Hey, practice makes perfect!

4. He blows loud raspberries. In public places. In church, especially. If your bare arm is available, he will sneak attack it with an especially drool-packed one. Trust me on this.

5. He makes wild expressions and gestures as if he is seriously communicating with you. It's actually really awesome and hilarious.

6. He's teething and will gnaw on practically everything. I offer him teething rings and toys often, but he tends to spit them out and insert the nearest inedible object. Just today, he tried to eat my laptop case, two pillows, his stuffed monkey, his socks, my socks, my new flip-flops, my arm, five different books, his sunglasses, his shirt, his pants, my pants, my laptop, his diaper bag, a ball, the couch, the kitchen table, his car seat, his high chair, and half a dozen other items.

7. Anything that he isn't attempting to eat, he is drooling on. So, yep, that includes basically everything in our entire house, and, yep, that includes myself and my husband. 

8. He has a foot fetish. Seriously, he is obsessed with feet. He grabs his own feet and pulls off his socks so he can admire his toes. He finds it hysterically funny if I move my toes up and down while wearing socks. Add in weird noises, and he will literally fall over laughing. He will also try to munch on the feet of friend, family, and stranger alike, so beware.

There you have it: 8 silly habits of a fascinating little 8-month old. Maybe next month, I'll make a list of 9 fresh items, as he will have no doubt picked up more bizarre behaviors by that time...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to Stay Sane as a New Mom

Being one of the first in my group of friends and family (this generation of my family, that is) to have a baby, life can be tough at times. I suddenly find myself plagued with responsibility. Not that I've ever been a particularly irresponsible person, but it was nice to know I could take a day off of life if I wanted to. You know, those Saturdays when you really should catch up on work and chores but you just say, "Aw, to heck with it!" and then you sleep in, read an entire book without interruption, play video games with your husband while eating junk food and go wherever the night takes you. Those Saturdays no longer exist for me, and I will mourn them briefly here: wahhhhh. Okay, I'm done.

On a serious note, however, it is tough to accept the responsibility of raising another human being. Maybe it didn't used to be such a life-altering event, but nowadays our society flinches at and shirks off responsibility whenever possible. I think it's why we see so many damaging choices made by many nowadays; people want to do what they want when they want it and not care about the consequences. When you have a little munchkin to protect, though, every changes. It's as though, most of your adult life, you've been looking through one of those kaleidoscope toys and then you suddenly adjust the scope and all of the shapes and colors change. It's not a bad thing; it's just completely different.

One of the strangest changes is that I feel this bizarre hyper-awareness of the many faults of society. Wow, that sounded more intense than I think it is. Honestly, however, when you have a baby, you look at the news through new eyes, questioning, "What's life going to be like for him when he grows up?", "Is the world going to be safe?", "How can I protect him from all the crazy people out there?", "What can I do to help make sure he'll make the right choice in life and not be influenced by all the negativity and creepiness of the world, the media, etc?" Of course, I want my son to think and act for himself, but it can be a difficult concept to wrap my head around at times: a little person that came out of me can actually become his own person. Whoa, trippy. Or maybe I just had too much coffee this morning...

Another weird situation that makes me feel off-kilter is the fact that I'm fairly certain my personality has changed as a result of Rayden's birth. It's not like I'm actually a different person, but it's the kaleidoscope metaphor again (this time, I'm the kaleidoscope; I'm the same being but I switched to a slightly different color frequency). I ventured forth last night and did a little research (gasp!) to go along with my writing because I wanted a solid answer to this question: Can your personality really change when you become a mother?

After riding the pregnancy and post-pregnancy rollar-coaster of emotions for quite a while, it's difficult to remember what's normal. Or, well, as normal as life can be with a brand new, incredibly needy person in it. From delving into the Psychology Today, What to Expect, Baby Centre and Psychological Science websites, as well as a few parenting blogs, I believe that there is enough evidence to show that a few personality traits do indeed evolve for good. Here are a few traits that tend to get kicked to the curb after having a baby: selfish, lazy, impatient, independent, orderly/neat, vain, daring, spontaneous, idealistic. The ones that seem to increase include the following: compassionate/sympathetic, paranoid/protective, easygoing/adaptable, capable and realistic. Some of these may seem obvious; others may be a surprise. Personally, I feel that many of these apply to me.
I suppose it's obvious that your laziness or impatience would quickly evaporate when a tiny person demands your attention both day and night for months. When you're going on 5 hours of sleep a night and trying to work, keep your house in some semblance of order, and constantly cycle through diaper changes, feedings, play time and comforting, it's laughable to think that you were ever once even a bit lazy or selfish, for that matter. Vanity can easily slip away when you're typically covered in drool and baby food, are leaking breastmilk and have no clothing that fits. You become more capable and easygoing as you learn to roll with the punches of each new baby-led adventure. Daring, spontaneous, independent...these exciting traits don't fade entirely but I feel like you become less focused on having adventures and fun and more focused on caring for a little person and ensuring their success and happiness. I've already mentioned in earlier posts about how I can fully understand the "crazy attack mom" syndrome that would likely be filed under "paranoia" for medical purposes. Hey, I accept it. Maybe the toughest one to accept is an exchange of idealism for realism. I like to think I've always been a realist, but then again, I think of times in my life where I just thought, "Wouldn't it be awesome if..?" and I ran with it, without thinking of the outcome. That's how I ended up spending a semester abroad without knowing anyone overseas. It ended up being an awesome experience, but I probably would've chickened out if I thought it through and contemplated facts like affordability, being able to complete my coursework on time, the scare level of not knowing anyone within a 3,000+ mile radius, etc. I think trading in idealism for realism is bound to happen when you're suddenly faced with a lot of very real stressors and issues. Gone are the days of dreaming about what could be; you have to kick yourself into gear and do what needs to be done to raise your family and keep things going. Again, it's not a bad shift; it's just different.

So, there you go. I'm staying relatively sane and having fun watching Rayden grow and learn something new everyday. It's a paradox of wild, incredible insights/adventures and mellow (okay, sometimes outright boring) repetition but it's an experience that I honestly wouldn't trade for all of the lazy Saturdays in the world.