Say “Bye-Bye”

11 12 2009

Every weekday since I first dropped Azita off at daycare I have the same drop-off routine. First I get her out of her carseat. Roger opens his window and waves goodbye and blows kisses at Azita. Then I carry her into daycare. I talk to her daycare provider for a few minutes — tell her whether she ate breakfast, slept the night before, and basically anything else that might help her gauge Azita’s mood and behavior for the day. Then I hand Azita over and try to get her attention. “Bye-bye, Azita. Bye-bye. Can you say bye-bye to mommy? Say bye-bye. Please. Pleeeease. Say bye-bye. Can mommy have a goodbye kiss?”

Usually all of the other kids there say “bye-bye” to me about 20 times while I stand there making an ass out of myself. Azita never says bye-bye. She knows how to say bye-bye and hello even. She says it to her dad, and continues waving to him as I walk up to the door. She waves hello to Miss. Gail, her favorite caretaker at daycare. She waves bye-bye to Miss Gail when she is leaving daycare. She waves hello and bye-bye to guests visiting our home and to people whose homes we are visiting. She waves hello and bye-bye to perfect strangers on the street. She’ll even say “bye-bye” or “hi”, or at least her cute little baby version of the words. She basically says it to everyone but me.

It’s a little disheartening, but then I remember that her face lights up for me more than it does for anyone else. So, who cares if she won’t wave to me or give me even a little hello or goodbye? Not I.

Then there’s this morning. She waved goodbye to Roger as usual and even said “bye-bye” this morning. She waved hello to Miss Gail when we walked in and gave her a winning smile. Then she turned around and looked at me before I’d even removed her hat and coat and started to wave. “Bye-bye bye-bye bye-bye bye-bye…,” she said. Before I’d even really dropped her off.

She’s not even a year old and she already doesn’t want me hanging around. I know I asked for it, but does she have to be so enthusiastic about sending me off? I tell you, motherhood is one harsh blow after another.

And I love every minute of it.





The Council of Legendary Creatures

17 11 2009

Now that Thanksgiving is just a week away, it’s clear that Christmas is nearly upon us. I’ve spent the past couple weeks furiously planning for our first Christmas with Azita. Growing up in a Muslim, Iranian household, Christmas wasn’t exactly a big event in my childhood. It’s unfortunate, because I had Christmas spirit to spare. I was one of those kids who really believed in Santa Clause. I mean I really, really believed. Until I was 9. Yes, I said 9. As in, I stayed up all night by the fireplace, even though we didn’t have a tree, and waited for Santa Clause to drop down the chimney. I was that sure that he existed.

Prior to that year, we did have a tree and had our own version of a Christmas celebration. The year I turned 9, however, my mom broke the news that we would not be celebrating Christmas that year because we were old enough to understand that we were not Christian nor American and therefore did not celebrate Anglo, Christian holidays. Still, I believed Santa would know that I was waiting for him and would reward my faith. Santa Clause of course never came.

Later on due to some comments from some of my classmates I realized I had fallen victim to a sham. The lie was illuminated as it is for every child at some point or another.

I refuse to see any of these events as a tragedy, however. I see them for what they are. Magic. Santa Clause is magic. The Easter Bunny is magic. The Tooth Fairy is magic. I believed in all of them, and in a childhood that was fraught with a lot of things that were not so magical, I needed all of them. It was a wonderful thing to believe in things that were so good and sweet and special. They gave me something to look forward to, even if they didn’t always come through. They were a small piece of the richly imaginative world where I spent a good deal of my time — a world populated not only with these mythical creatures, but with characters from storybooks and whimsical landscapes created by yours truly.

I still believe in Santa Clause. I believe in what he can do for children, no matter what their station in life. My youngest sister is a very different person from me. She not only doesn’t believe in Santa Clause; she believes that it is practically criminal to allow one’s child to believe in him. My nephew was the kid who walked into his first grade classroom and broke the news to his classmates. That makes me so incredibly sad, because he really needs Santa Clause for many of the same reasons I did. My sister’s point of view is that a mother is lying to her children if she tells them Santa exists. My point of view is that a mother is imagining with her children.

Azita will never experience some of the not-so-happy possibilities that were very real for my childhood. I am determined that this will be the case. Even so, I am certain that Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy and even the Easter Bunny will play an important part in her early years and will spark her imagination as they did for me.

So, there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that this year would be the first of many years when Azita would visit the mall for a photo with the jolly guy in the red fuzzy suit. And, I have to say, from the expression on her face it’s pretty clear that she’s going to love him as much as I did and still do.

Azita visits Santa, Christmas 2009

P.S. Bonus points, and maybe a little prize, for the first person to figure out the little bit of Christmas movie trivia in the title of this post. What movie(s) does the post come from? Anyone? Anyone?

P.P.S. Full disclosure that the movie(s) are likely very, very cheesy, but I will watch any Christmas movie. ANY. I’ve even watched some on such channels as Hallmark or Lifetime. Yes. I have surely been taken down many notches in your esteem, and if not now, I am sure I will at some point in the near future. Amen.





Christmas in November

9 11 2009

I know we haven’t hit Thanksgiving yet, and normally I would be the loudest complainer in the room should someone jump the gun on Christmas around me. But have I mentioned how excited I am for Christmas this year? I love Christmas. We never celebrated in my youth due to the whole us not being Christian thing. I always felt like I was missing out though.

During the winter break from school I used to scrounge up whatever I could find around the house that my classmates had never seen, so I could return to school like everyone else triumphantly displaying my loot. I made up stories of the Safavian household’s Christmas traditions. The glorious meals. The music. The family bonding. My imaginary Christmas was more spectacular than anything Clark Griswold could come up with.

When I finally got my own place as an adult, I began my own Christmas traditions. I’m still not Christian, but let’s be honest, the Christmas of today is a lot more secular than religious anyways. It’s not even on the real day of Jesus’ birth, and it’s pretty well-established that the early church basically marketed an existing pagan holiday as a Christian one in order to make it easier for their converts to be ok with the whole conversion thing. But, this isn’t a post about religion.

It’s about Christmas, specifically Azita’s first Christmas. I’ve already mentioned that I love Christmas, but I haven’t really established just how much I do. I love Christmas movies. I know all of the songs from every Christmas movie, and I regularly try to convince Roger that we need to pull out the Christmas movies when we’re still sweltering in the D.C. heat and humidity. I love Christmas music. I love the decorations. I love the baked goods, the warm drinks, the sweet and spicy smells of candles and pine trees and poinsettias. I love it all.

But I also love Thanksgiving, and I really believe in it. Being thankful is important. At the very least it makes us all a little more tolerable to ourselves and each other to be grateful for what we have no matter how little it may seem at times. So there is absolutely no Christmas celebrating or mention of it in our household until after Thanksgiving dinner. Roger is pretty firm on this rule also. Believe me when I tell you, however, that Ralphie has already shot his eye out while we’re still digesting tofurkey and pie.

This year is different obviously. This year we have Azita, and I am way too excited to wait until after Thanksgiving. Last week we bought some unfragile Christmas ornaments, and last night we — gasp! — watched White Christmas. It gets worse. Today I found out that Santa Claus is at the mall already, and Roger and I promptly decided we were taking Azita to get her first Santa pic next weekend.

I’ve broken all my holiday rules, and Roger has joined me in my crimes without even blinking an eye. I guess now that we’ve broken the seal, we may as we may as well admit that Christmas now starts in November in our household.





Wondering About the Wonder Years

28 10 2009

Years ago I clicked through on an email from Classmates.com and out of curiosity I signed up for an account. Since then I receive an email just about every day with updates on my former classmates. They write notes, they upload pictures, they post new events, they update their bios. They do lots of things, and I get emails letting me know that I can login to Classmates.com and see what’s going on.  Here’s the thing. I have no idea who most of these people are.

I was not exactly a popular person in high school, and it went beyond being a member of the freaks and geeks. I was so beyond freak or geek that even they didn’t really accept me into their crew. As a very young child I was painfully shy, and I wasn’t much better as a teenager. So I hung out alone, and I phoned it in. I really just wanted to get out of high school and get started with college already, so much so that I registered for the summer session and got started with my first couple college classes a good month before I graduated from high school. You can’t be more eager to leave a place than that.

I’m not saying I had no friends. I just had very few, and I’m not in touch with any of them now. But hey, life goes on, and I can’t say I have any deep regrets over my high school experience. In spite of this I can’t help sometimes seeing these emails and wondering what my life would be like if I was popular or if I did make friends that I’m still friendly with today. If I wasn’t such a geeky loner, maybe I’d know how to work the system a little better now and make more money. And maybe I’d have more friends as an adult. On the other hand, I probably would be so…well let’s just say I probably wouldn’t be such an “individual.” After so many years I’ve kind of grown to like my “individuality.”

Really, no regrets, but I was always a sucker for those Choose Your Own Adventure books and I do have a very geeky obsession with the time-space continuum. So I wonder almost obsessively at times how the different decisions and actions we make in our lives ultimately affect the outcome.

I think what I mostly wonder about however is what Azita’s high school experience will turn out to be. I know she’s not even a year old, and I’m already thinking about her teenage years. This is the point where Roger usually rolls his eyes at me, but I swear I’m not worrying or being compulsive in any way. I’m just being curious. Will she be a nerd like me? A cool kid like her baba? A jock? A theater geek? Maybe she will defy categorization.

I don’t know, and I don’t know if I wish for any of the above. When I think about Azita in high school, I hope she has a different experience than mine. I hope she’s well-liked, but doesn’t feel or give in to the pressure to be popular. I hope she can enjoy high school and make some life-long friends but continues to form lasting friendships afterwards. I hope that those years are just the launching point for a wonderful life and not the high point. I hope that she learns to love learning but that she also picks up the skills to be comfortable in social situations. I hope so many things, but most of all I hope that when she reaches the ripe old age of her maman she can look back on her youth with fondness but so very glad to be exactly where she is.





Babywearing Woes

21 10 2009

As many people have probably guessed, given my penchant for Attachment Parenting, I am a big fan of babywearing. Since Azita’s first day at home, she’s spent a lot of time in a sling. Thus far, I’ve relied on the Kangaroo Korner adjustable pouch. I could go on and on about how great this sling is, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that mothers ask me where I got it nearly every time I go out with Azita.

Well, as much as I love my sling it looks like it’s days are numbered. Azita is in a big hurry to walk. She actually took her first couple steps yesterday at daycare. And, when Azita wants to learn something, that’s all she wants to do. So, I now have a dilemma. I can’t seem to carry Azita in the sling any more unless she’s sleeping. When she’s awake, she pushes herself up to standing and starts thrashing her legs around in the sling in an attempt to practice walking. It’s definitely not a safe situation — doubly so considering my accident-proneness.

Now what? I’d say the Baby Bjorn is the solution, but I’ve tried Roger’s and it’s just not comfortable for me. I’ve tried the hip carry position with the Kangaroo Korner and a Scootababy carrier, and Azita just isn’t having it. She wants what she wants, and what she wants is to be facing her maman.

I’m debating buying a MeiTaiBaby carrier, but I’ve already spent so much money on slings — I have 3 Kangaroo Korners (one for any climate), a Scootababy, and Roger’s Baby Bjorn. I’m willing to spend more money though if I find something that works. I spend a lot of time walking everywhere with Azita — whether to the park or to the grocery store. Our little family has definitely embraced that aspect of the urban lifestyle, and we need a carrier to support it.

Any recommendations? Anyone use the MeiTaiBaby or another similar carrier and love it? Any suggestions are welcome.





Iron and Oil

15 10 2009

Azita had her 9-month well baby visit on Monday. I went in to this appointment fully expecting the doctor to say she’s growing really well and oh look, she’s crawling and cruising and doing all sorts of other things a little ahead of schedule. Great!

Well, things didn’t turn out so great. I mean, true, Azita is hitting all her milestones ahead of schedule. But, I’ll admit that it took me by surprise when I found out that Azita had gained just under a pound total in the past three months and has suddenly dropped from the 50th percentile in weight to the 10-25th percentile in weight within such a short time. Honestly, I’m still reeling a little from all of this. What did I do wrong?

I know Azita has been a bit finicky lately. She usually refuses food and sometimes refuses a bottle. I just didn’t know she wasn’t gaining weight. But now that I think about it, it should have struck me as a little weird that the newest member of her daycare — a 4 month old — is bigger than her.  And that’s where the guilt is really coming from.  How could I not notice this?

In the end it’s not really that big of a deal. I’m adding some formula powder and a little bit of oil to all of Azita’s food, and I’m taking the 45 minutes it takes for every meal to make sure she actually eats something. Really, it does take that long. She is a master of elusion, this one. So, I know she will be ok, and I’ll pay a little more attention to her growth from now on.

But then last night I come home to a message from her doctor. It turns out Azita’s CBC on Monday wasn’t normal either. My baby is anemic. Seriously. What happened to the doctor’s appointments where she got her vaccines and the doctor checked off all the good boxes? I know that anemia can be serious, but I also know that it isn’t really a huge deal if you treat it. After all, I was also anemic as a baby, and I grew up to be perfectly healthy.

It’s just that now I have to spend my days trying to get my baby girl to ingest iron and oil. Not exactly what I thought I’d be doing at this stage of her life. Boo hoo. Woe is me.

But enough whining already.  She’ll be all right, and it’s worth it. I mean, I get to come home to this every day:

Azita_playpen





Crossing the Finish Line

29 09 2009

When I was in high school, I was the kid that never passed the Presidential Fitness Test. I could never run that damn mile. I would start off strongly. Feeling good about myself. Imagining the wind blowing through my hair. Then about half way through the first quarter-mile lap, my legs would start burning, I’d start wheezing, and I would slow down quickly, eventually arriving at a walk and remaining there until the end. Running, and any other exercise, just wasn’t for me, and I had the extra poundage to show for it.

My self-esteem was extremely lacking for various reasons, and I really, truly believed that I wasn’t physically capable of doing anything athletic. So, I cowered on the sidelines during P.E., and I occasionally skipped the class — something I would never dream of doing for an academic subject.

In the 11th grade, I was short 1/2 a credit of P.E. Not 100% sure how that happened, but I ended up having to take a semester of P.E. in my junior year. By then people are usually done with the physical part of their education, so the only people in my class were jocks. And by jocks, I mean the entire football team. I remember the first class. I have never been more afraid of anything in my life. Here were people I spent my whole life avoiding, because I just knew my nerdy, fat self would be the target of swirlies, noogies, and many other things I hoped to do without. And I was stuck in a small room with them for an hour a day, five days a week.

Well, the universe was looking out for me, it seems. I can’t even remember my teacher’s name over 20 years later, but I will always remember him as a saint. We spent the entire semester in the weight room lifting weights. The room looked like what I would imagine a Gold’s Gym on Venice Beach would look like — intimidating, overwhelming, scary. I wanted to hide, but my teacher saw something in me. He encouraged me. He taught me how to use all the machines. He showed me that I was actually very strong. He piled on the weights, and even though I was still a fatty, by the end of the semester I could actually lift as much weight as some of the guys.

And here I am today, a weight-lifting fanatic.

Not really. But this teacher did have a big impact on my life. He planted the seeds of something in me. Somewhere deep inside the murky mess of my consciousness was a small belief that maybe I was capable of something more.

Fast forward years later. I am 30. I have long since lost the extra weight, but I am still carrying the emotional weight of thinking myself incapable. That is when I discover the Couch to 5K program. The idea is that if you can walk, you can learn to run a 5k race. Gradually, every day, you swap out a few seconds of running for your walking until you are actually running more than you walk. I was doubtful, but 3 months later there I was at the starting line of a race.

I finished that race, but in a sense I didn’t cross the finish line. In my mind I was still someone who couldn’t pass the Presidential Fitness Test. I kept running though. In fact, I kept running for so long that 3 years later I had added enough running to my walking to complete 2 full marathons and 2 half marathons with a smattering of 10-milers and 10ks thrown in there. And, wouldn’t you know it, I still didn’t believe in myself. Deep inside I knew that physical goals really are mind over matter (completing a marathon really is a mental exercise), but I was still a loser. So what gives?

I don’t know. But, I will say that something changed last night. I am fat once again, but this time I have a beautiful baby to show for it. For the past 8 months I’ve been working out nearly every day and cutting calories to lose the baby weight, and I’m slowly getting there. I’ve mostly avoided running though. I mean, I’ve gone for two runs with Azita in the jog stroller, but it wasn’t until last night that something clicked.

The crisp, autumn air had a whiff of winter in it. I saw my first red-tinged tree of the season. Azita was bundled in the stroller and actually enjoying it. As I started running, my legs started to feel lighter and lighter. I didn’t want to stop. I felt like I could run forever and never get tired. Azita, Roger and me all out for a run. It was a happy moment, and I have never felt so content. I still have a good 20 pounds of baby weight to burn off, but I’m sitting here the next day feeling as light as a cloud, daydreaming of my next run.

It took a few decades, but it seems that I have finally crossed that finish line.