Fillerup with regular, please

Before I had kids, I thought breastfeeding would be easy.  I equated it in my mind to pumping your own gas.  You stick the nozzle in, you hit the start button, and you fillerup.

The ironic thing about this far-fetched analogy?  I actually don’t know what it’s like to pump my own gas.

Here in Oregon, there’s a gas station attendant that comes out to your car and does everything for you.  Sometimes, they’ll even clean the dead bugs off your windshield and check your oil.  I love living in Oregon.

Obviously, once the kiddos came, I figured out pretty quickly that breastfeeding is nothing like pumping your own gas.

I’ve also grown a profound respect for gas station attendants… perhaps because, on and off, it’s a job with which I’ve become quite familiar.  Here’s what I’ve picked up in my on-the-job-training:

  • It’s never self-serve.  As a gas station attendant, you must be present at all hours of the day (and night).  Sometimes you will fall asleep during a fill-up, and that’s okay.  But if you go on break, you must leave a filled gas can for the next employee’s shift.
  • Breastfed cars don’t have gas gauges that tell you what kind of gas they prefer, when they’re full, or even what the tank size is.
  • You need to watch what kind of gas you put in the car.  Some vehicles only take unleaded.  Think twice before eating that broccoli or spicy burrito.  And be forewarned of the exhaust that may come out of the car later on.
  • Breastfed cars will often spit copious amounts of the gas back out.  (Real cars know better than to do this.  There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that come with making that stuff.  And, let’s face it, three bucks a gallon ain’t cheap.)
  • Sometimes, the nozzle will randomly leak whenever it hears a car drive by.  And sometimes it will spew gas in the customer’s eye or all over the attendant.
  • You don’t get handed a twenty every time someone comes in for a fill-up.  (But wouldn’t it be swell if you did?)
  • Breastfed cars don’t pull up to the station, wait for the attendant, and say, “I’ll take 6 ounces or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.”
  • Eventually, the cars will stop needing to come in for a fill-up.  They will enter into the era of hybrid vehicles and self-serve feedings. When that time comes, you will find yourself out of a job.

And after a long, drawn out weaning process, this is the position I’ve found myself these past few weeks.  My gas station attendant – and breastfeeding days – have come to an end.

It hasn’t always been an easy job.  The hours can be brutal, and there isn’t an employee manual to doing it right.  Let’s face it, the pay sucks. 

And despite all that, I have to say… it’s been one of the best jobs I ever had.  And one I will miss.

Weaning sucks.

I know, that might be the worst oxymoron ever, but it’s true.

I never intended to still be nursing my son at 15 months; it just kind of happened that way.  My husband and I decided a few years ago that by the time our kids were old enough to walk and talk, it was probably well past time for them to be cut off from Bar Mom.  That’s just what we agreed we were comfortable with.

Only that isn’t how it’s played out.

Chip started walking about four months ago.  And when he said “boobs” the other day (in reference to himself), I realized I had finally gone beyond that threshold I swore I’d never cross.  At that point, I finally started to wake up and smell the breastmilk. 

I’ve seen the writing on the wall for quite some time, but it’s just taken me a few months to be ready to accept the truth.  As my husband has very gently reminded me for a while now, “He doesn’t need to breastfeed anymore.  I think YOU need it more than he does.”

He’s right, and I know it.  Did I just put that in writing?

It’s true, though.  The kid eats steak and french fries.  I acknowledge that, not only does he prefer meat and potatoes like his dad, he also gets very little sustenance from me.  I only feed him before bedtime and in the morning, and only for a few minutes at that.

But I relish those few minutes.  They are sometimes the only time of day when I get to spend quiet, stolen moments with just Chip.  Those are the moments when I can pretend he’s still a baby, and not the active, giggling little munchkin who is becoming more boylike and less babyish every day.

Don’t get me wrong.  Like any relationship, it’s had its ups and downs.  There are definitely things I’ll gladly bid adieu to.

I won’t miss things like thrush, wearing nursing tanks every day, or pumping a bottle before we go out on a date.  I won’t miss having to wait until Chip goes down for bed before I have a beer (quite possibly the best silver lining in this cloud).  And I admit I’m a little relieved to be reclaiming the girls as my own.

On the other hand, it’s indeed with some sadness that I say goodbye to breastfeeding.   There are a lot of things I know I will miss.

I will miss having Chip’s little brown puppy dog eyes look up at me.

I will miss staring back into those puppy dog eyes, and watching them get drowsy and finally close altogether once the milk coma sets in.

I will miss the feeling of empowerment and satisfaction that breastfeeding gave me.  On days when I got rarely anything done and barely managed to shower or brush my teeth, at the end of the day, I felt like I had accomplished something somewhat meaningful because I was providing for my son.  

I will miss having large boobs.  What no one ever told me the first time around is that once you wean, your boobs not only go back to their original size, but sometimes get smaller.  As if that was seriously possible, in my case.  Mother nature can be so cruel sometimes… she giveth, and she taketh away… and then some.

I will miss the money I save at the grocery store from not having to buy formula.  $20 for a container of Enfamil is highway robbery, I tell you.

I will miss the feeling that my son needs me.  As much as I loathed getting up in the middle of the night, it was also secretly gratifying to know that I was the one he needed, wanted and cried for.  I’m almost scared to blink, because I know soon he’ll be running around like Bobo, an independent four year-old who suddenly doesn’t need her mom quite so much.

And surprisingly, part of me will actually even miss the 3 am feedings.  I will miss falling asleep in the rocker while nursing Chip in the middle of the night and waking up with drool all over me (mine and his), a crick in my neck, a numb butt, and the same sweet little one fast asleep in my arms.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I will miss that one the most of all.

Got Mac?

Kids menu.  Play area.  Beer.

My definition of a good restaurant has sure changed since I had kids.  Except for the beer part, that is.

Chip and I had a date night out the other day while Jay and Bobo went to see Shrek.  Chip enjoyed making a macaroni mask and, amazingly, even managed to get some in his mouth.  We’re still working on the fork thing, but it’s coming along.

I took these pictures at Fanno Creek Brew Pub, one of the places we frequent as a family.  They have all three of my above criteria for a good restaurant, so we go there pretty often.  I also designed their new logo, so I get free beer … at least until my gift certificate gets depleted.

Yes, I’ll work for beer occasionally.  Please don’t tell my boss.

The phantom Cheerio, and other unsolved mysteries

I went to change Chippy’s diaper this morning, and was mystified to find a Cheerio wedged in his little crack, and an Kix in the inside bottom of his sock.  While I did not examine the Cheerio closely (my morbid curiosity only extends so far), I am 99% sure it was undigested.  The Kix, I am at a complete loss to explain. 

Sometimes I wish my son was old enough to talk so he could explain these little mysteries to us.

More often than not, though, it is now how the food got there, but how so much of the food could get everywhere.

We went out to dinner the other night to the new Mongolian Grill by our house.  J loves this place; as a self-professed carnivore, he loves the fact that he can gleefully heap mounds of uncooked meat into those little bowls and make it as spicy as he wants. 

Eating out with kids poses and especially large challenges.  Chip’s new thing is to scream loudly, not because he’s mad, sad or hungry but just because.  More than one time, our food has arrived at the table, and minutes later has to be boxed up to go.  Usually, I sit holding the baby on my lap (or standing, bouncing him), while I hurriedly try to cram as much food into my mouth as possible (it is for this reason I usually order food that can be eaten with one hand).  I seem to forget all of these scenarios each time we embark to go out to dinner with the kids. 

Tonight, however, both kids were in rare form… contentedly eating their food, which in turn allowed both my husband and I to eat in a semi-state of peace and leisure.

We finish round 1, and J went back to stand in the ever-growing line.   Bobo was busy munching away on her noodles, and dinner’s going great, when all of the sudden, Bobo looks at me and says, “Momma, I have to go potty… NOW.”

From the corner of my eye, I can see J in the buffet line, surrounded by hoards of people, happily mounding piles of frozen sliced beef into his little bowl.  I snake my way over there and hiss at my husband, signaling for him to come over.  My husband, ever the good sport, comes trotting over, bowl o’ beef in hand.  I leave him with Chippie, and Bobo and I sprint off to the bathroom.

Let’s just say our trip to the bathroom was not a fast one.  Bobo was in a dilly-dallying mood, talking about all sorts of things.  She also had to go #2.  Normally I would find this cute; now, however, I was hungry. 

Ten minutes later, we make it back to the table.

I find J, bowl of steak tartare still sitting there, who has managed to find all of the finger food in the diaper bag and try to entertain Chippy with it.  Some if it, he has eaten, the rest he has joyfully flung over the floor (his new thing is to put something on the floor and say “Uh oh”.  At home we encourage this and say how cute it is; I am regretting this decision now).  J has also decided to see if Chip likes sticky white rice, which he does, as evidenced by the glutinous little globs stuck all over his hair, face and clothes.

I send J back to the buffet line to cook up his food, and we finish the rest of the meal somewhat peacefully. 

Then I see it. 

Piles, and I mean piles of food strung all over the floor underneath the high chair where my son sits.  Bobo has managed to spill her egg flour soup, and we have used a huge pile of wipes and napkins to mop it up.  In short, our table, and the surrounding area, looks like a food tornado whipped through it. 

I am more than a little horrified, and feel sorry for the poor soul who will have to clean this up.  Or even worse, for the family that has to sit there after us and find bits of noodles and Cheerios stuck in the cracks of the booth.  I scoop Chippy out of his high chair, trying to pick off all of the now hardened bits of rice and cereal.  Superglue has nothing on this stuff.

We leave an especially big tip.  As I drive away, I wonder to myself how much time we have to wait until we can go back to that place again.  Dang, the food was good…

Move over, Emeril!

There’s a new chef in town.

Bobo’s new breakfast concoction: toasted bagel sandwich with peanut butter, bacon and cheese.  It is pretty cute to see her artfully arrange the bacon bits and cheese on the bagel.  Sometimes, for a finishing touch, she’ll add some dried blueberries as a garnish. 

This reaffirms my belief that my kids will truly eat anything.  At least it’s well balanced, even if it does turn my stomach…