density

somehow i am moving back to the east coast, again. i never thought i would. right before i left boston to return to portland i drove out to cape cod and province town. my friend and i assented the clock tower of the unitarian church in town and looked out over the atlantic. it was a clear warm day and the water was such a light blue it looked tropical. i thought of the first pilgrims arriving near by and then had the distinct thought that i would never in my life revisit that place. it was the first time in my life that i had ever gone somewhere and thought i will die before i return here.

but here i am 14 years later packing for the east coast. not boston, not province town, but the east coast all the same and a city bigger and denser than the one i live in now. as an adult i am beyond excited to live in new york city. the idea of the subway and not having a car is thrilling, the seasons, warm summer nights, an ice skating rink in prospect park, the art, the music, the bars, the nightlife, the culture, the parks and the gardens. i have often thought that new york as a kind of disneyland for adults.

still i wonder and worry, where does that leave G? sure maybe momma doesn’t need and crave nature as i once did, maybe i am embracing my urbaness, but what about G? i have no doubt she will be just fine. she is already an urban kid, she has never known nature and so doesn’t miss it and is mostly just confused when we make our way into it, but that isn’t what i want for her. i don’t want her to be confused when she sees the earth beneath her feet.

glimmer

last night i nearly fell asleep with the light on. we have a dimmer chandelier in the bedroom and the light was low and warm. i have fallen asleep plenty of times in my life with the light on, but this was unusual because this was a cross between forgetting to turn off the light and not realizing it was still on. i was lost in its haze and laughed at myself when i realized it was still on.

From Formula to Breast and Back Again

(In honor of Breastfeeding Week and “I Support You”)

I have been thinking of how to write this story for months.  I have gone back and forth trying to fit it into a linear box, but it is not linear, there is no clear beginning or end.  It is multilayered and multifaceted, much like parenting.

There was the labor: 36 hours before she made her sweet arrival into this world followed by no sleep for mama in our nic-u-only-nursery, mother-unfriendly hospital.

There were the articles I researched and read after our breastfeeding/lactivist class that convinced me that the science pales relative to the claims.

There was my own history, breastfed till I was two.

There was my desire to breastfeed and my desire to not breastfeed.

There was the satisfaction I got from preparing her one bottle of formula before bed and adding her vitamin D drops.

There was her 13% weight loss in the first week of her life.

There was the pediatrician, the most clear and non-hyperbolic voice in all of the swirling noise: baby needs calories – mom needs rest -offer breast every three hours _not more often _ supplement 2 oz formula in between.

There was the less crazy lactation consultant.

There was the more crazy lactation consultant.

There was more crazy lactation consultant asking what I had done to stimulate my milk production so quickly.  “I bought the Fenagreek and I am drinking THE tea.” I said,  “And I am only offering the baby my breast every three hours and supplementing in between.”

There was her frown and dismissive response: “Oh, well it must be the Fenagreek that caused your milk to come in.  We don’t recommend rest as a way to stimulate milk production.”

There was my inability to tell her: I-never-took-the-Fenagreek.

There was the feeling of rejection that came in the early weeks when baby would scream in the afternoon every time I would offer her my breast.

There was the calm at night when I would offer her my breast and she would eat happily and go back to sleep.

There was the pump.

There was exclusive nursing for our month in Europe.

There was my satisfaction with being able to “do it”.

There was the simplicity of the food: always with you, always ready.

There was the feeling of wanting to take the baby off my breast as soon as possible every time she ate.  To have it be done.

There was the guilt I felt when I was sure I had ended the feeding earlier than the baby was ready because I couldn’t stand it one more second.

There was the sticker shock at the grocery store after she was weaned.

There was the amazement with my breasts, that they could produce this food on such a tight schedule, the filling, the tingling, the stickiness, the let down.

There was the decision at six months to wean the baby, though we had established a solid breastfeeding relationship.

There were my mixed feelings about weaning.

There were the wonderful Swedes who despite high breastfeeding rates few of them nurse much past 6 – 9 months.

There was my desire to stand with women who choose formula and parents who must use formula. I chose to read the studies.  I chose not to feel guilt, because there was nothing to feel guilty about, other than how my predominantly white, educated, privileged cohort managed to co-opt the discourse on infant feeding by exploiting studies from impoverished 3rd world infrastructures, glossing over real conditions of poverty, (such as lack of clean water and unreliable access to refrigeration and healthcare) and repackaged these studies as showing both alarming health risks associated with formula feeding, and a “norm” of lengthy breastfeeding, as though we are all one big happy world of mothers and babies, all living in together in the same cultural traditions and socioeconomic conditions.

Lastly there was this; breastfeeding and formula feeding were expensive in different ways.  Lucky me that I had the time to breastfeed and the money for formula.  Babies cost no matter how you feed them. It is the smiles, laughter and snuggles we get in return, that are the true purchase.

 

the lost racist

Jumping into the “Accidental Racist” fray I think the main issue, the issue worth talking about is Brad Paisley’s longing to reconcile his pride in southern culture with its inextricable history of racial exploitation and oppression.  This is a worthwhile question of longing that I think the nation needs to address in as he puts it “conversation”.  It is not just that I don’t think that our nation hasn’t healed over the impossible grimness of slavery.  I don’t think we have actually reconciled with the South.  This is shown in the South’s poverty, it does not have a full seat at the table in our coast centric focus and media.  Growing up on the coast there is a lot of “othering” the South as in: oh, that happened there.  As alluring as it is to paint the civil war as a moment in history entirely centered around the freeing of the slave it is, much to our collective consciousness embarrassment, not.  The South has through out the history of the colonies and this country always been looked down upon, dismissed and basterdized.  The elitist puritans versus the convicts who settled the south makes for a stark picture of inequality.  So we are left with a whole region of our country rich with tradition and expression in art, music, food, and literature addressing the question: how do you express pride in the South which built its vast cultural traditions and expressions in art, music, food and literature on the backs of some of the most inhumane and offensive practices ever to have existed in our country?  How do you hold with that paradox?  How do you love the beautiful and hate the wicked when at times they are part of the same tree?

I think to some extent the Germans have dealt with this question post World War II.  How does a country show national pride when you brought the world to its knees twice in a period of 20+ years and exterminated 6 million people of a single ethnicity and religion not to mention hundreds of thousands of others that did not fit into the nation’s ideal of what man should be?  How do you show your face at the table and not simply turn away in regret and remorse?  One thing you do of course is change your flag.  This is something I think the Germans have done well.  The logo of the Third Reich is illegal in Germany.

However, the problem with drawing too close a parallel between Germany and the South is that the Nazis committed their atrocities in a very different way from the way we did in this country and on a different time table.  While the confederate flag flew in the South’s opposition to the notion that the federal government could tell them that slaves were in fact people and not property it also flew in opposition to a majority control in general, it flew in opposition to a politic, a way of knowing about the world that was very different from its own.  The South has much to be proud of and when I say The South I don’t mean white folks who owned slaves and land, I mean the courage of Rosa Parks and brilliancy of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.  I think it was relatively easy for the Germans to dispense with the Nazi flag.  Although all powerful the Nazis were relatively short lived and it is not like there was a whole body of literature, music and art that blossomed from the tension and horrors of their control.  The South had a much longer (and in this sense more horrific), but less unilaterally horrific history.  I don’t mean to deny that slavery was less institutionalized than the death camps in Germany, but rather there were more spaces places in between the violence and the grit and the tension for little weeds of grass to grow and for beauty to grow and I think it is in this beauty of the South that Paisley longs for a symbol to show both his shame and his pride.

homemaker

If I find myself in the position of being unemployed, I prefer the term homemaker.  It is a little homely, but I prefer it to stay at home mom or housewife.  For me stay at home mom focuses my identity too much on my child/ren, housewife of course too much on my husband, though I like the phonetics of housewife, it sounds cool to my ear, sort of foreign. I like the stuff homemakers do and I seem to want to do more and more of it all the time.I love to manage home projects, pay bills, cook,grocery shop and clean, maybe even the occasional craft.  Homemaker it is if my life takes that turn.

the way we never were

I have been wanting to post on the whole Lean In “controversy”.  Sandberg is not a writer, nor a social scientist, she is entitled to a contradictions when writing about an incredibly complex subject.

Being a full-time employed mom I struggle to do it all.  I reflect with particular zeal on the second shift and sometimes a third shift if the baby is up at night.  There is no doubt in my mind I am living the second shift and it is a lot to balance, but the truth is that the plight of women has always been hard.  Before women in most western countries had access to better birth control and technology in the home we were often pregnant with two or three little ones running around while we made preserves for the winter, scrubbed laundry, and did dishes.  So yes, there is a second shift, but it isn’t the same as working and making the home the way people used to.  The fridge, the laundry machine, and pre-packaged food (health issues aside) have made it way easier for women to work and keep house.  I am not saying that it isn’t hard as much as I am saying it has ALWAYS been hard.  Sure I miss my child when I go to work, but if I had 8 or 9 kids I am guessing I would miss one of them on one day and feel like I never even got to know others, I would have been way too busy working to prepare food for 10 or 11 mouths to really get to know them all every single day.

Lastly bringing it round back to margies, if I am honest it was also really hard before the baby.  I partied a lot and worked and it is almost as hard to party three or four nights / week and to work full time and keep house as it is to have a baby, work full time and keep house.  I often felt like my older co-workers had it a lot easier than me because they weren’t out at a new art opening or whisky bar until 1:00 am the night before.  Admittedly I had a few years post all the party, pre the baby where things were a bit more calm.  It is the only time in my life I remember wondering why everyone was talking about “how busy” we all are.

 

Carson’s disclaimer

Bria and I were discussing how to be opinionated and incisively observant on parenting topics without preaching, without condemning, without opinions implying judgment. And I think it’s really hard. Thus, my disclaimer, to be assumed to be before anything I ever say or write.

I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong. I’m not saying I’m doing anything right. I’m not saying I know better. I’m not saying I’m smarter. I’m not saying I’m more of a feminist or you’re a bad feminist. I’m not saying you should do it my way. I’m not saying you’re a bad mom. I’m not saying I have it figured out. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying I won’t change my mind.

But we all know that in the subconscious mind, there are no negatives. So, what AM I saying?

I’m saying this is tricky. This is multi-faceted. This elicits strong emotions. This is important. I’m saying I’m generally a moral/parenting relativist. I’m saying, “Whatever works for you!” and meaning it. I’m saying disagree with me. Take me to task. Challenge me. Whip me into shape. I’m saying I’m working on it. I’m trying things out. I’m putting it out there and seeing if I believe what I say. I’m saying I don’t know. Anything. At all. But I can sure get opinionated anyway.

the pathology of mom guilt via the kitchen

In the roughly 485 days I have been a mom I have rarely been visited by the specter known as “mom guilt”.  I have been what I am sure would be considered annoyingly calm in my certainty that I am doing the right thing for my daughter at any given time.  I have been so certain that I am making the right choices I have only been able to fein understanding when mom’s in person or online complain of being racked with mom guilt, until last week.  Last week her nanny wrote to me something to the effect of the baby doesn’t like the food you make her.  I have been heartbroken ever since.

Because many of the things that I thought would trigger mom guilt didn’t:  putting her down for sleep awake and sometimes crying, giving her a paci, weaning from the breast at 6 months, returning to work full time.  This seems is all fodder for mom guilt.    None of these steps were easy, but they were right for us and I think right for her.  Not to say that I haven’t had pangs of guilt and questioning, but for the most part I made these choices and didn’t look back.  In short while all of these events gave me pause I was not haunted by “mom guilt”.

Mom guilt I have found is a different beast entirely.  My guilt is not a momentary questioning, this is knowledge that I am doing the wrong thing.  The worst part is that I have sensed this for a while, but it wasn’t till I got the email that I was willing to look at and acknowledge that I am not living up to my expectation of what I should provide for my child. She deserves a mom who is a good cook and has enough energy to do the shopping, the cooking and the cleaning.  Boyfriend stays out of this arena entirely, probably to the baby’s, though not to my advantage.

“Mom guilt” as I understand it is not about not actually doing right by the baby, but it is the gap between what I expect I should be like as a mom and what I am like.  Triggers are different for every mom.  I am in fact not a good cook.  I make decent food most of the time, but I am not very skilled, driven, nor imaginative in the kitchen.  I think I used to be more of all three, but I used it up in my twenties long before I had a child.  I like to think that if I weren’t working full time I would do more in the kitchen, but I think for the most part that is just wishful thinking.  Closer to the truth is that I might in fact do a bit more in the kitchen, but I will never be a Martha Stewart mom.  The guilt comes because I think I should be different.

The reason I have managed to avoid the wrath of mom guilt thus far is that the internets are full of mom’s relaying guilty feelings for things I don’t happen to feel guilty about.  I never expected to rock my child to sleep for 465 days several times a day, and I expected she would cry when I left her alone.  To me this seemed a reasonable response. I didn’t expect to share my body past the point of what is comfortable and I didn’t expect formula to ruin her.  I did however read Bringing Up Bebe and want baby to have an appreciation for a diverse palet.  Thus far I am coming up way short.

Anyone have practical ideas about how to provide her with food she likes and/or how to shed the mom guilt?

Nashville in summary

I was a big fan of Seventh Heaven in my twenties.  I liked its earnestness in a time in Portland, Oregon when irony was king.  I feel the same way about Nashville, but without the cheesy doses of watered down religion.

Nashville’s characters are some of the more “real” characters on TV.   They are cast in all manner of human.  The love triangle with Rayna is so well done I can’t help, but  identify with her struggle.  At first glance one roots for the passion she and Deacon have, but then as I get to know her marriage with Teddy better I find that I am also rooting for their marriage.  To me that is when things get interesting in the human dynamic.  They are not black and white.  What does it mean to love one man and another family?  There is no clear choice.  It is a subtlety most shows don’t have the time for, but this show painstakingly creates characters with depth, reason, and an ability to hold with complexity.

The other characters are equally complex.  Scarlett seems like she would be cast as the good girl who follows all the rules, and no doubt she is, but she is also in a moment of her own humanity and gives into her desire for Avery sleeping with him again after they break up.  Although she is upset with him at the end of the scene the writers don’t apologize for her behavior, they explain it in no nonsense terms, hot sex was never the couple’s problem.  It allows the good sex to co-exist with bad relationship and gives her space to respect that chemistry and still choose to end the relationship.  She doesn’t have to make him all bad in order for her to leave.

I also appreciate the consistency of the characters, the characters are not changed from who they fundamentally are to fit the story line.  The story line molds around them to let the characters grow.  When Teddy lashes out at Lamar for threatening to out his daughter to her real father you get the sense that yes, although Teddy is a bit of a push over, this strength he has for defending his family doesn’t feel forced because he cares about his girls with a passion he clearly does not have for his career.   It is logical that he would find the strength to stand up to Lamar to defend him.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?  Carson?