Monday, December 23, 2013

The return

Five months after leaving town, College Girl is coming home for Christmas.
“Coming home” — moms of college kids love to hear those two words. Add the word “Christmas” and we fall onto the floor in a frenzy of motherly delight.
Of course, there were a few things to be done before we could roll out the red carpet.
First, her room needed to be cleaned out. In a small house with five people, an empty bedroom doesn’t stay that way for long.
Over the past few months, middle daughter had been found lounging on her sister’s bed, scavenging old art supplies, and smuggling the ferret into the room for “secret” ferret videos that can probably be viewed on something like
She also raided the closet for any leftover ugly sweaters that oldest daughter is so fond of.
Someone rifled through her nail polish collection and old makeup stash.
Another someone “borrowed” books from her room.
Everyone felt free to pilfer at will, yet oddly enough no one felt compelled to vacuum or dust the room. I had to put a stop to some of the invasion when I found myself repeatedly cleaning up a room no one was living in.
I take some of the blame. During November, I realized Oldest Daughter’s bedroom would make an excellent temporary gift storage and wrapping room. Shopping bags gathered on her dresser and desk. I could have turned her room into my private scrapbook den, but I didn’t want our girl to think she’d been replaced by a Martha Stewart craftland.
As her return date gets closer, I’ve turned into that kind of mom who goes around announcing to random strangers the number of days until our daughter comes home for Christmas, including the flight number (#2769) and arrival time (10:40 p.m.).
I may also issue a press release: MEDIA ALERT — HUFFMAN DAUGHTER RETURNS TO NAPA.
Note to self: contact advertising staff at Register to arrange for half-page “welcome back” ad. Correction — full page. They don’t call me the Most Embarrassing Mom Ever for nothing.
No visit home is complete without a fridge full of favorite foods, so I made a special trip to the grocery store to stock up. Our little carnivore must be living on Top Ramen and cereal because when I asked her what she wanted to eat, she asked for meat, meat and more meat.
B.C. (Before College) there were no special trips to the grocery store to buy pounds of bacon and steaks. But A.C. (After College) a mom will kill and butcher the cow herself if it means College Girl wants a hamburger for dinner.
I’ve also come up with a theme song for her visit inspired by “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” It’s called “College Girl Is Coming to Town.” I’m making a list and checking it twice. And it’s got bacon, ham and pork on it.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sleep on it

Three co-workers have recently had babies, which means I now have a self-inflicted case of baby fever.
And there’s nothing cuter than a newborn baby. Especially one that goes home with someone else and wakes up in the middle of the night with that someone else.
I was the mother of all amateurs with our first baby. It was a rude awakening, literally. Out she came and boom, next thing you know, a thing that I am very fond of called sleep was sorely missing from my life.
As if channeling her future teen self, our newborn adopted the “You Are Not the Boss of Me” philosophy when it came to sleeping.
She was determined not to sleep. And when she was sleeping she was determined not to stay asleep for more than two hours at a time. I guess she figured, “Why sleep? I’ll miss all the action.”
On top of no sleep, emotions had their way with the new Mom me, causing many tears at many random moments.
I cried when the baby woke up right when we sat down to dinner.
I cried when I pulled up to Starbucks and the drive-through line was too long and our new baby couldn’t wait 10 minutes for me to get my mocha.
I cried in the middle of the night when she was wide awake and wanted to party.
They say to nap when your baby naps. You try sleeping in two-hour stints for about 13 weeks. You become a zombie. A zombie that can change a diaper in the dark and unsnap a onesie one-handed, but a zombie.
Another thing I figured out after weeks of only napping is that without a good five to six hours of sleep in a row — at night — the day feels like it never ends. It’s just one endless cycle of feed, burp, change, rock, nap, wake, feed, burp, change, rock, etc. Insert random shower every three days or so. Such a marathon will crush even the most Zen of moms.
Even when a new mom does sleep, she’s still on alert. The sound of your baby’s cry quickly imprints on your brain.
You hear it even when she’s not crying. You listen for it, because you know it will come again. And probably right when you’ve just sat down for that dinner.
It probably didn’t help that at the time we were living six states away from our family. It was just me, my husband and our new baby, who I knew would never sleep through the night. Ever.
This was pre-Facebook and almost pre-email, so the only way to share pictures or baby updates was the old-fashioned way, by snail mail or telephone.
I’m thinking I might have felt less alone if I’d had a few hundred Facebook friends I could share photos with like new moms today. Where were you in 1994 when I needed you the most, Mark Zuckerberg?
And then one night it happened. Our baby slept for six whole hours in a row. I woke up confused.
What happened? Where was I? I felt funny. Alert. Awake. That’s when I knew I was going to make it. I would survive motherhood.