San Francisco Poem

Sometimes I think living in San Francisco is a study in variations on being cold. It is easy to loose count.

In the late summer it is cold only in its lack of being hot.

In fall the days might be sunny and hot, but the mornings and evenings are precursors to the almost cold winter to come.

In winter it is cool, but it is colder in the surrounding areas, the degrees decrease at a rapid clip as you drive eastward, the reverse of the thermometer climbing in summer when you desperately wind your way out of the swirling, foggy mess.

Spring has some warm days, but the word damp comes to mind.

Late spring early summer is your best chance of being warm in this city; you can go around all day thinking the weather is oh so nice and that summer is around the corner, until you step onto a BART train importing sweltering heat from the delta. It is at this moment you realize you were just variation number 48 of being cold.

Nursing or breastfeeding?

Any preferences on terms?  There is something about the term “nursing” I prefer so I have started to use it more often.  I felt a lot of pressure to “breastfeed”, but somehow when I thought of it as nursing it seemed more informal, more relaxed, less my child’s health hangs in the balance.  Anyone else have reactions to these terms?

Cheryl Strayed

I am reading both Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and live from Dear Sugar and the Freud Jung Letters at the same time.  They are remarkably similar, or at least they compliment one another in a strange way.  In one of her letters she responds to a young lady who thought she would have written more by the time she was in her late twenties.  Ms. Strayed ends her piece with this, “So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy.  Write like a motherfucker.”

our twenties were hard too

I have written a lot about work life balance on this blog and probably will write about it more in future posts.  It is an important issue.  Some days in my life it feels like the only important issue.  I have also alluded to how life was not easy before the baby came either.  I will expand on that here.

There is a solid argument to be made that it is harder to be a single twenty something with a proper full-time office job than a fully employed mom (with a partner).  Granted there might be exceptions, for instance if your child were sick a lot or had lots of allergies or if you were a twenty something who didn’t drink or go out.  But for me at least it was harder to work an office job full-time in my twenties than it is for me now.

I am pretty sure that there was a period of two years in my twenties where I started drinking at 6:00 pm and went to bed at 3:00 am three or four nights a week.  There were men and heartaches to keep track of, art openings to attend, concerts that started at 10:00 pm on Tuesday nights.  Carson care to comment?  All of this and I still needed to be at work in the morning.

For a while I worked at a law firm in Seattle and had to be at work at 8:30 am.  An attorney I would sometimes hang out with would start dinner by ordering cocktails AND a bottle of wine.  We always drank it all, but there I was 8:30 every morning showered, hung over and ready to work.

The night before I met the future father of my child/ren I was out for a friends birthday party, made an ill advised drive down the peninsula at 2:00 am to a man’s bed I was never going to be truly welcomed in.  The next morning I was out at a house in Marin working on a remodel.  That night it was said friends 30th birthday party so despite being bone tired I pulled myself together and attended.  Being single and looking for a partner is hard work.  I was exhausted but, who knew who I might meet? For me it paid off on this particular night.  After years of parties, dates and failed attempts I met my to be husband around 10:00 pm and I dropped him off at his house at 3:00am only to wake up to be at work shortly after the sun came up.

Being a mom with a baby and a full time job is a horse of a different color entirely.  It is exhausting as all hell. It is a lot of work to juggle the nannies, the food for the baby, the house and be at my office by 9:00 am five days a week.  When one of us is sick it is a monumental effort to keep everything running, but something I had never considered is the motivation of being a provider and the deterrent of having to take the baby to the park (see, the park: why I should like it and why I don’t).  These are both things that get me out the door in the morning after a long night with a crying baby.

However the one place that parents win over serious partiers in their twenties is the emotional exhaustion.  Here there is no comparison.  Being a parent wins every time.  You are both legally responsible for and more in love with a person than you have ever been in your life and yet because you are now in our late thirties you know that you live in an uncertain world with no guarantees.

Still although I argue that singles in their twenties have a good argument for how their life is more difficult than mine, the baby is a trump card on excuses.  For instance in this scenario:  Your single friend calls you at 9:00 pm on a Saturday night.  Hi, what is that?  You want me to meet you at the bar downstairs from my apartment?   You already bought me a beer you say?  It is sitting on the bar?  Pilsner Urqel? Hmmm, yeah, no I am already in my pajamas and I have a_BABY.

 

 

 

No Shoes at 16th and Mission

Well actually 16th and Hoff.  Two girls on my way home.  Fresh out of college, upstate NY or Vermont. One girl had her pants rolled up and her calves were not shaved.  They were standing outside a building where there was a two bedroom apartment for rent.   Nothing about her screamed “crack addict” except for that she wasn’t wearing shoes.  No shes at 16th and Hoff St.  Where the hell did she think she was (probably on her college campus in rural New Hampshire)?  I am surprised both the mom in me and the three fourths of a G&T I had “accidentally” ingested earlier didn’t throw the words to the front of my mouth: do you own shoes?  Do you know what happens on this street?  Puke, all manner of shit, broken glass?  If you can afford shoes and you didn’t sell them for a hit of crack, then by all means wear them. Little girl you are in the big city now!   I probably didn’t say anything because I didn’t know how to calmly say: Hey, are you from around here?  Yeah, so um I am and this is probably the kind of street you are going to want to wear shoes on, it is pretty gross most of the time, just thought I would let you know.  I am sure her mom wishes I had found those words.

This week

The problem with being angry is that it just isn’t a lot of fun.  It isn’t fun in my personal life.  I would prefer that everyone just get along and that my afternoon not be ruined by feeling angry about the amount of childcare I do, or housework or cooking.  Time is so short on the weekend I don’t want to spend it angry, but when I do get upset about those things where does the anger go when I am rushing to get past it in order to have fun?  This week I have been thinking a lot about Egypt, coming as close as I come to praying for the people killed in the massacre and their loved ones.  I wonder in a way if I do the same thing with international tragedies that I do with my own domestic problems.  Do I just try to get past the heartbreak and the horror in order to go back to having fun?  Does my rushing past it in both incidents merely show an intolerance for discomfort and not being in control?

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.