Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Days Grandmas Are Made For

My mom took Piper outside for a long walk today. Then she took her downstairs to play with and sort the craft supplies down there. In fact, she and Piper spent much of the day together today. Normally, I would probably have been midly irritated, because whenever my mom spends time with the baby her attitude toward Piper takes on a quality of ownership that I object to. That's my fucking kid, lady, so back the fuck off.

Usually I hate to give her any ground, because I am constantly battling my mother for control of my own child. I have to say things like "No, she can't have any Chee-tos. Because they're too salty, that's why. Yes, it does matter." Or "No, I'm not putting her on formula. She has colic; my breastmilk is not making her sick." Or "because she puts everything in her mouth and chews on it, so batteries, can openers, old Christmas decorations, and cellphones are not the best toys." Don't even get me started on my near-daily battles to get the woman to stop trying to rock the baby to sleep at the wrong times (and I say "wrong" not because I am a strict schedule-keeper but rather because my mother chooses to make naptime whenever she feels like it, which usually results in me staying up with a hyper, off-schedule baby until 3 a.m. or trying to manange a sleep-deprived crabby child in a crowded grocery store).

Today, though, all I could do was heave a sigh of relief as I watched her put Piper in the (large, dirty, rickety, and ugly) stroller she bought from a yard sale and charge off down the street. I took a sip of my rapidly-cooling coffee and I think I made an audible "ahhh" noise. Because let me tell you, that kid has worn out her welcome with me today.

Truthfully, I have been short-tempered and crabby with Piper for a couple of days now, and feeling pretty guilty about it. She has been crazed for days, not sleeping, throwing food and toys around, scratching and biting me, unpacking every single box I pack, unfolding every piece of laundry, toppling every stack of books, shredding and eating papers, and generally being a pain in the ass. I have not been responding well. A couple of times this week I have almost-yelled "StopstopSTOP! Let go!" when she was climbing all over me, pawing at my shirt and pinching me because she wanted to nurse; I shrieked "GODDAMMIT!" when the combination of baby using me for a jungle gym + cats trying to eat my food caused me to drop red pizza sauce on my parents' cream-colored carpet yesterday; Thursday night I grumbled "would you fucking go to SLEEP already?!" at her because she'd been alternately gnawing on my nipples, shrieking, smacking me in the face, and climbing all over the bed for an hour and a half. I have picked her up and plopped her down with a little more haste than actually necessary to avoid her eating cat food, crawling through a puddle of red pizza sauce, or tumbling down the stairs. Last night I was trying to do up the last 3 of the approximately 574 snaps on one of her footie sleepers and she wouldn't sit still, instead finding it more fun to try and roll over, stick her finger in the nearby cat litter, and shriek at me when I wouldn't let her eat toilet paper. After 10 minutes of this, I was so frustrated, I yelled "For fuck's sake, Piper! SIT STILL!!" Then she started to cry, and I didn't feel nearly as bad as I should have.

Last night, she slept in 40-minute stretches from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., then got up and refused to go back to sleep until almost 4 a.m., and even then to get her to conk out I had to put her in my bed and nurse her to sleep, which meant laying uncomfortably propped in the bed while she chewed my nipples for 35 minutes. She woke a couple times after that, pawing me and yowling in my ear to indicate she wanted to nurse. When the alarm went off at 8:45 this morning so we could get up and go to storytime at the library, she screamed like it was the end of the world and was clearly not interested in getting out of bed. So I dozed off, thinking that we'd sleep until 11:00 or so. Nope. Ryan called at 9:45 and after that she was up. I tried to settle her back down, hoping for even fifteen more minutes of rest, but instead she stuck her fingers in my eyes, grabbed my lower lip and yanked it, then amused herself by trying to stick her fingers up my nose. When I gave her a stuffed toy and turned over so she couldn't get at my face anymore, she threw the toy off the bed and started yanking on my hair.

So I got dressed and stumbled downstairs with her, and while I was making myself a pot of coffee, she crawled around on the kitchen floor slamming drawers, eating lint, and terrorizing the cats. The coffee had not even finished brewing before I noticed a telltale stain spreading over the back of her pajama pants. I cleaned her up, dropped the mega-poop diaper in the outside trash, and put her (white) pajama pants to soak in a bucket of Oxy-Clean water. Then I put her into the Exersaucer and went to feed the cats & clean their boxes. I was downstairs for less than six minutes, but during that time she managed to coax the noisy Exersaucer talking book toy into sounding like it was dying. I don't know what she was doing, pushing too many buttons at once or leaning on them hard or something, but that sucker was freaking out. She also decided she wanted out of the Exersaucer and started to screech at top volume, competing with the noise of the toy she was harassing. I came back upstairs and freed her, only to have her scream at me when I tried offering Cheerios and chunks of banana. I tried chunks of apple and she spit them at me. I put her down and she immediately yanked all the books off the lowest shelf of the living room bookcase. Throughout all of this, she was making the dissatisfied moan-whine that rears its head when she's overtired. It was nearly ceaseless, and nothing I did managed to stop her from making it. I almost got her to take a nap, but as soon as she fell asleep the cats started a ruckus and that was the end of that.

By noon, I was pretty much done. I felt like a pressure-cooker, a volcano. If this were our own house, I would probably give myself a break and stick her in her crib for a while, crying be damned, and go make a pie or read a book or organize a closet or lay on the couch with a blanket and watch Entourage. This is not, however, our house, and there is always somebody around (usually my mother) to rush in and go "what's wrong? why is she crying? what happened?" when I try to let the baby wear herself out. I feel pressure to keep her from crying at all, because my mom will try to pry her from my arms (no, seriously) all the while repeating, "Oh, she just wants her Grandma, that's why she's crying." Meanwhile, an overtired Piper will continue to scream even as her grandma "soothes" her. My stress level is through the roof because of all this; it's no wonder I can't seem to unkink my neck and my face keeps breaking out.

However, today it was nice to have some actual help, instead of just interference.

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