Jenna von Oy's Blog: Cruisin' and Bruisin' and Cryin' Oh My

In her latest blog, von Oy realizes her newly-mobile baby girl is cruisin' for a bruisin' and struggling with separation anxiety - but developing a stronger relationship with her mama at the same time.

Jenna von Oy Separation Anxiety

My smiley girlThe Cradle Chronicles

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now 10 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy realizes her newly-mobile baby girl is cruisin’ for a bruisin’ and struggling with separation anxiety – but developing a stronger relationship with her mama at the same time.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. That famous phrase may pertain to A Tale Of Two Cities, but it also pertains to a tale of 10 months. Getting through the nine-month mark has made for some very trying moments in our house, filling our halls with the not-so-subtle discord of bawling and blubbering and boohooing. My typically happy-go-lucky girl has been going through some emotional growing pains and, consequently, I have too.

Separation and stranger anxiety are severely cramping our style, and Gray’s relatively newfound mobility has me on perpetual damage control duty. Not to mention, our naptime training endeavors have been painfully unsuccessful thus far, which is putting it mildly.

Gray is no longer the quiet infant who keeps her hands to herself or allows me to get my work done while she sleeps peacefully in her swing …though I feel blessed those instances ever graced us to begin with! This new stage of the game is both fun and exasperating, but I’m preaching to the choir, right?

She Who Crawls, Exhausts Her Mommy. You know how a tornado leaves mass destruction and ruin in its wake? Apparently, so does a 10 month old … As well as, I suspect, every age hereafter. You probably have better stories to tell than I do!

I’m finding that chasing after Gray is more effective than any gym membership I’ve ever possessed. In fact, I’m becoming quite the triathlete. That is, of course, if the triathlon involves lunging to fetch purposely flung rice puffs, sprinting to take the TV remote out of Gray’s hands before the recording of The Bachelor is interrupted (Say it ain’t so!), and diving for every plummeting teacup, decanter, and perfume bottle before it smashes to smithereens.

A balsamic vinegar carafe I brought back years ago on a trip to Italy was our first real casualty of war. Needless to say, I can no longer display nice tchotchkes in my house. This is otherwise known as: if it’s breakable, it’s attic-bound. I dare say the days of paper plates and drinking wine out of Dixie cups are upon us.

I’ll admit baby proofing is a hell of a lot more involved than I’d anticipated. Sure, it’s easy to buy little outlet covers and doorknob protectors, but what does one do with the family heirloom china cabinet that has fragile glass doors? I suppose the simple answer is, you teach your child the meaning of “No” and “Don’t touch that.”

Easier said than done. My daughter currently finds those words to be more than a little amusing. She laughs wildly when I raise my eyebrows, my stern face causes her to squeal in delight, and God forbid I shake my finger while admonishing her. Your prayers for my sanity are much appreciated.

Jenna von Oy Separation Anxiety

Looking for troubleThe Cradle Chronicles

She Who Cruises, Bruises. Crawling is one thing, but Gray’s obsession with pulling herself up on furniture has me jumpier than a kangaroo in a bouncy castle. Truth be told, I think my daughter’s black and blue marks may be bruising my heart as much as they are bruising her body.

Her attempts to perfect the “no-handed hold” are cringe-worthy, and invariably result in her taking a tumble onto our hardwood floors. She sometimes swipes a table or chair corner on the way down, which always unfolds like some sort of horrific, slow-motion movie montage.

It’s almost as painful for my husband and I to witness as it is for Gray to experience. Almost.

The fact of the matter is, no amount of baby-proofing can prevent every lump or bump … which leaves me feeling slightly helpless from time to time. If I could pad the room, à la an asylum chamber, I would. However, I’m trying to embrace reality on this one, and accept that all I can do is keep the boo boo bunny ice pack handy and offer lots of post-plunge “magic mommy kisses.”

Gray seems to be taking the learning curve in stride. Meanwhile, I’m left checking her pupils for signs of a concussion and reminding myself that breathing is supposed to be involuntary.

As with most parents, my gut reaction is to scramble to attend to my sweet baby every time she falls. However, Brad and I are doing our best to curb any overly dramatic reactions. I’m a firm believer that kids take cues from their parents, so I’ve been forcing myself to casually look over and assess her response before rushing to provide an onslaught of attention. If Gray doesn’t begin bawling, I don’t panic. In theory, that is.

Oh, how I wish she could be graced with insta-balance! (This idea conjures up visions of my childhood bath time, featuring little capsules which — when dropped into the tub — miraculously popped into spongy versions of the New York City skyline…)

Instead, I accept that she will have to stumble a bit while she learns to walk. Which, I suppose, is a metaphor for life in general.

A friend recently sent me an email about spending the morning making headbands with her 5-year-old daughter. Apparently, their bonding time also included stuffed animal school and an afternoon of baking. I can’t wait until Gray is old enough for all of those wonderfully creative endeavors. Maybe I’ll eventually be able to get a blog written while Gray glues painted macaroni onto a picture frame.

Instead, my afternoons are spent playing “Can Mommy rescue Gray’s toys from the clutches of the mischievous canines?” and “Let’s see if Mommy can catch Gray when she hurls herself off the couch.” Good times.

Jenna von Oy Separation Anxiety

CruisingThe Cradle Chronicles

She Who Is Raised With Dogs Must Brave the Occasional Tongue-Lashing. In a nutshell, our dogs are kissing bandits … hairy, innocently enthusiastic, slobber-filled, kissing bandits. I don’t want to teach our pups that it’s acceptable to accost every child that comes into our home, but that’s a tough lesson to impart when your own kid thinks puppy smooches are the best thing since sliced bread.

Gray relishes the attention, prolonging the love-fest by clapping, bouncing, and squealing in delight. Even still, I try to curtail copious amounts of canine contact (how’s that for an alliteration?).

Don’t get me wrong, I trust my dogs implicitly, and can’t imagine any of them ever hurting my daughter purposely, but better safe than sorry. Not to mention, I don’t believe anyone truly enjoys playing tonsil-hockey with a pug. ?

That said, I do love Gray’s fondness for our fur-babies. She immediately searches for them when she wakes up in the morning, and she can often be found petting their heads or rubbing their ears. I’m impressed with how gently she shows them affection.

I’m also thoroughly impressed with how much our dogs adore Gray. They are doing an incredibly admirable job of handling her progression into being mobile. They don’t jump on her, are quite conscientious when she’s crawling around (save for the basset hound, whose tail could be a registered weapon), and aren’t particularly fazed by her increasingly loud vocal abilities … a serious feat, considering I’m not always capable of remaining nonplussed.

I’m proud to see all of my “kids” getting along and respecting one another. Mind you, Gray frequently throws food and squeaky toys on the floor, so she may be bribing them behind my back. At least she has found a system that works!

Jenna von Oy Separation Anxiety

Cuddling with her best budsThe Cradle Chronicles

She Who Has Stranger Anxiety Isn’t Strange at All. I feel for Gray. I’ve spent 10 months constantly being by her side, providing her with unwavering attention and encouraging naptime in my arms. Now I suddenly expect her to understand why she and Miss Heather are going to play together in the nursery for a bit, while mommy films an audition in the next room over.

I can’t say I blame her confusion or her dissatisfaction at the adjustment. Truth be told, I hate being away from her too …even if it’s only by 20 feet.

Thankfully, I have supportive women around who remind me that it is perfectly normal and age-appropriate for Gray to have a mini meltdown when she’s away from me. As much as it tugs at my heartstrings, I feel it’s essential for her to get used to being around other people, so I’m trying to help her make that transition as gently and comfortably as possible.

Each time the sitter comes over, prior to walking out of the room, I spend some time playing on the floor with the two of them. I figure that lets Gray know I’m comfortable with the person I’m leaving her with.

When I do exit, I muster up the courage not to prolong my departure. I kiss my daughter briefly, say “Have fun with Miss Heather; Mommy will see you in an hour,” and then I don’t look back. Which is exceedingly hard. It’s overly cliché and melodramatic, but each wail and teardrop that follows is a dagger in my heart. I find it especially gut-wrenching to hear her launch into the “hurt cry,” but I know we both need to take this small step away from codependency.

As her pediatrician so aptly put it, “She is learning tolerable frustration, and that’s a fundamental part of life.” Since it isn’t realistic to think I will always be there to comfort her, hold her, or offer her the “breastaurant,” I’m gradually trying to teach her that I’m not the end all, be all. Of course, if I wait until she’s a teenager, I’m sure she’ll be happy to convey those sentiments herself…

Jenna von Oy Separation Anxiety

Stealing the TV remoteThe Cradle Chronicles

Despite the somewhat tough transitional phase, Gray and I are enjoying the heck out of our time together. We are perfecting our communication skills with every passing day, and I think we develop an even closer bond each time we get beyond another hurdle. Even the small discoveries seem to give us a clearer picture of one another.

For instance, I now know Gray claps excitedly for cauliflower, but shakes her head “no” when offered bananas. I know I can make her smile if I sing “The Rainbow Connection,” and that she’s starting to enjoy taking baths in the big girl tub (as long as she can hold her own washcloth, of course). When given a choice between two different photos, DVDs, CDs or books, she will always choose the one with animals on the cover.

I’m not the only one getting an education; she’s learning a few things about me too. She accepts that I’m not going to let her get close to the stove while I’m cooking, but that she’s welcome to sit nearby and play with the whisk and the spatula.

She understands that we pray before each meal, and that I’ll dance with her if she bounces up and down to let me know she’s in the mood for it.

She knows I’ll sit on the couch and watch Sesame Street with her every morning, and cuddle as long as she wants me to … even when I have an unfinished blog begging for my attention.

Our hands are full, but our hearts are happy.

Until next time,

— Jenna von Oy

Editor’s note: Jenna was in New York City this week, so she and Gray stopped by for a little PEOPLE video! Here’s a sneak peek:

More from Jenna’s blog series:

  • Jenna von Oy’s Blog: All’s Fair In Love (and Raising Kids)
  • Jenna von Oy’s Blog: The Teething Twilight Zone
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