Hours

Monday – Friday

9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. 

Weekend drop-in play hours are determined by our birthday party schedule. Please check the web calendar before coming to play.

 

2040 N. Western Avenue

Chicago, IL 60647

773-772-8411

info@purplemonkeyplayroom.com 


Entries in new moms (2)

Thursday
Jun212012

It Got Better. It Got Easier. Dare I Say...It Got FUN!

A few days after my daughter was born, my husband, my dog and I took our daughter for her first walk in the stroller. We passed a neighbor pushing her little boy in the other direction. “How old is your baby?” I asked. “Six months.” she told me.  As she walked away she assured me, totally unprompted, “Don’t worry. It gets easier.”

That day I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. My balance was off, I was dead exhausted, and my feet were so swollen I had to wear my husband’s gym shoes. But hey – it was day 4. I was fine.  Soon the baby would sleep through the night, she’d get on the infamous “nap schedule,” eat three meals a day, and we’d live happily ever after. What was wrong with that lady?

And then my husband went back to work. And my baby not only was up every hour at night but refused to nap during the day. And had nursing issues. And gassy issues. And never wanted to be put down.  And pooped 12 times a day. (Why does nobody tell you they poop after every.single.feeding)?  And side note – how did I not realize how often they had to be fed?!?

My house was a mess. I couldn’t take a 4 minute shower without her screaming. Or make myself a sandwich, let alone finish one. I think I changed clothes every 24 hours, but sometimes that was at 3 a.m.  I clung to that woman’s words. “It gets easier.” One had to hope, because, sorry to say, life was no picnic.  

Meanwhile, all of the people who used to annoy me to no end, questioning me as to when I was going to have a baby and insisting children were happiness personified changed their tune. “Oh yeah – you’ll never sleep again.” they assured me.  “You just get used to it. Life will never be the same. But don’t worry – you’ll just adapt.”

What? I liked my life. No one told me about this secret club of misery where you never sleep, shower, or eat ever again. Why were people taking such great pride in telling me “Your life has changed forever?  Mwa hahahahaha.” Why would anyone ever do this on purpose? Or heaven forbid – twice! I got depressed.  I was hit so hard with anxiety that I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t even walk down the street without the world spinning and the sun seeming too bright. Things were not okay.

Fortunately I had a good doctor who diagnosed PPD and PPA and who got me back on track relatively quickly. And it was still hard. But over time, it started to get better. Not easy but better. My daughter slept through the night. The infamous nap schedule eventually did come together (at 9 months, in case you were wondering).  There was still a lot of rocking a screaming baby to sleep, only to get a 15 minute nap. And forget getting anything done – ever – during my daughter’s waking hours. She wanted (and still wants) to be held all the time.  Some days - 26 months later - it remains an adjustment.

But what prompted this post was a blog that came up in my facebook feed the other day. Since I’m about to disagree with the conclusion of this woman’s wonderfully honest account, I am not going to link to her essay. Essentially she argued that three years after he son was born, having a child still hasn’t gotten easier. She does, however, concede that things are okay because she’s gotten better at parenting.  

I liked her post. A lot of it resonated. But it got me thinking that in my case it really did get better. Yes, I am probably more skilled at parenting, but having a toddler (for me at least) is night-and-day easier than caring for a newborn. And honestly, nowadays we’re having real FUN! 

At just over two my daughter is smart, curious, precocious, sweet, and looks just like me except a million times cuter.  I know, I may be a teeny bit biased, being her mom and all. But it’s true. She pretty much rocks.  We “cook” together, we read, we play games. We tell “jokes,” we walk to the park hand-in-hand and spend hours in the sandbox “making tea” and burying our feet.  We splash around in her kiddie pool and we make cookies out of Play Doh. We snuggle in her rocking chair before bed, and talk about everything we did during the day and what will be exciting tomorrow.

Now don’t get me wrong. This is still a work in progress. Today, just as my sciatic nerve was acting up and I was literally starting to limp, I ended up carrying my irrational, tantruming toddler home from the park, potty-accident-wet-shorts and all. In fact, come to think of it, I am sitting here with a pee stain on my shirt as I type. TMI? I’m just being honest. And yes – I plan to shower before bed.

But it doesn’t feel taxing the way it did. It doesn’t feel exhausting – most of the time. It just feels like part of it. And the overall experience is really rewarding.

A few times, new moms with tiny little “bundles of joy” have noticed me out and about with my daughter and struck up a conversation, nearly always ending with “does it get better?” I can’t speak for every parent but as someone who struggled very much initially I can honestly say, “Yes. Not only does it get better. It gets fun.” Just don’t ask me when I’m having my second…I’m too busy enjoying #1.

***

If you’re a mom looking for support, camaradie, and some really good coffee, consider joining our support group for moms of infants and toddlers: http://www.meetup.com/New-Moms-Group-at-Purple-Monkey-Playroom-Bucktown/

Our group, so far, is 60 women strong, with participants coming from as nearby as Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Logan Square and as far away as the North suburbs of Chicago. Check it out!

Dads, if you’re interested in participating in similar events, email us at info@purplemonkeyplayroom.com and let us know what interests you!

 

Wednesday
Apr252012

Ditch the French Critiques; Find New Mom Support Locally 

I just finished reading a review of Elisabeth Badinter’s The Conflict in which she argues that “natural” parenting approaches are single-handedly erasing the gains of the feminist era and forcing women into renewed social and economic subservience.  She cites nursing on demand, cloth diapering, and homemade baby food as three of the primary culprits.

I’ll be the first to admit that there were some days when nursing practically 24-7 had me looking longingly at a formula can. But no one forced me to nurse my child and when circumstances in my life made it necessary to make the switch, I did so with little fanfare. For our family, using a diaper service has made cloth diapering every bit as convenient as using disposables. And FYI to Ms. Badinter – my husband made every morsel of the baby food. I never steamed a single vegetable.  

Furthermore, the sacrifices Banditer cites are very temporary, when you consider that by 6 months a baby has drastically reduced its time spent nursing and soiling diapers and that by one year the same baby is ready to eat approximations of the same table food as the rest of the family.  My daughter just turned two and every one of these “oppressors” is a distant memory for me, save the cloth diapers, which we anticipate have another 6 month shelf life. Through all this purported tyranny I managed not only to retain my job but to leave it and to start my own business.  Has any of this been easy? Not really. In fact, sometimes it is infuriatingly difficult. But the reasons, in my opinion, circumvent feeding and diapering choices entirely.

I don’t plan to read the book. I’m sure some of the author’s arguments are interesting and I will concede that a few may even resonate. But I’m not terribly interested in women from across the globe telling me I’m oppressed and unhappy (another shout out to American turned Frenchwoman, Pamela Druckerman, of Bringing Up Bebe fame).

Is there really one perfect path? Do mothers in France or those who formula feed, use disposable diapers, or stock up on Gerber really have the market cornered on maternal bliss and economic security?  Is it reasonable to point fingers at homemade baby food for sabotaging women’s economic independence? Clearly I’m not buying it.  

Short of restructuring government spending and fine-tuning the values of American corporations and society at large, I do think that one of the best things we can do for mothers in their first year, regardless of their parenting choices, is to offer them support. My very best source of support was a group of women who I met every Friday through a local meetup group. No one was sleeping; everyone was new to the game. It made me feel like other people had landed with me on “planet newborn” and I wasn’t alone in my journey.

Next week Purple Monkey Playroom will kick off its weekly support group for new mothers in the Bucktown, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and Ukranian Village area. The big idea is primarily to provide a space where a small group of women can bring their babies and connect with one another. But we also plan to bring in the occasional expert. And, of course, there will be food and an unlimited supply of coffee.

We’ve opened a meetup group to help spread the word and as a means by which our members can get in contact with one another. If you are a new mom or know anyone who might benefit, please help us spread the word: http://www.meetup.com/New-Moms-Group-at-Purple-Monkey-Playroom-Bucktown/

Weekly support group meetings, currently scheduled for Wednesdays from 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm, will also be posted on the web calendar and facebook page.

We look forward to building a supportive community in our space, where women can discuss how they are actually feeling about their personal parenting journeys. Seems much more helpful than being told how to feel by resentful women halfway around the world.  

P.S. I found that the one element of parenting a newborn that threatened not only my job performance but my every ounce of sanity was lack of sleep. If Elisabeth Badinter, Pamela Druckerman, or anyone else has a humane way around that, I will gladly read the book.