Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Smarter Than the Machine

Thinking of trying this one out.

I am not a seamstress by any means but I have been increasingly irritated with myself that I can't sew something simple. I think it is ridiculous to pay someone $10 to hem a pair of pants for which I only paid $24. There are just a few little jobs here and there I would like to do and I have a machine. I just don't know how to work the damn thing.

Anyway, like I need a new baby carrier. But it seems really simple and Tommy loves being on my back like a monkey baby ("Bobo, Mama, Bobo! Please!"--- a reference to the Hug book during which Bobo and Mommy find each other again--- it was the first book he could "read" out loud so all monkeys are "bobos" in our house.)

We still use the mei tai carrier sometimes but as he gets heavier and my right shoulder gets more and more jacked up, the straps become more painful. We also use the big ole honking Kelty backpack for walks in the snow but that is so damn bulky.

The point is not necessarily that I need another carrier. It just seems like a project I could actually do and if I mess it up, I can still use it. It is basically sewing a big trapezoid. How are can that be? HA!

I will report back when I manage to turn the damn machine on successfully. Wish me luck! Or patience or something like that.

Other projects:
Sewing cute patches on clothing (I got one for Stephen for Christmas and promised I would attach it for him).
Making fleece mufflers for kids and me. ****(might start with this one. it would be timely to finish this before the crocus come up and maybe it would be easier than managing 6 yards of fabric all at once.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

End of an Era

I will never nurse anyone again. All of a sudden, it all feels very final and sad to me. While I think T and I had both been ready to give it up for a while, it just seems like it happened so fast. I think I need some sort of closure--- a funeral or celebratory cake or something.

For the past year, he has only nursed at night and first thing in the morning. There have been MANY nights when I have said to myself, or sometimes out loud, that I was "so over this nursing shit". But then the sun would come up and my sanity would return. I would get to stay under the covers longer than Papa nursing my little man and I would be so filled with love and joy and pride all over again. I know some of it is purely hormonal but the difference in feeling and emotion when it is the dark of night and the early morning dawn is the difference between, well, night and day.

For the past few months, he would sometimes skip a morning nurse but usually still want to nurse around 1 or 2am. Sometimes Stephen would go get him and bring him to bed. I would pretend to still be sleeping and T would just snuggle up and fall back asleep. I had been wanting him to stop night-nursing, right?

Then why am I so sad about it? I think it just happened without me noticing and that makes me sad. I just realized on Saturday morning that I couldn't remember the last time we had nursed. He hadn't asked for it, with his little sweet finger to lips bubbly sound, in many days--- at least five. So, I figured, that's that. I guess we are done and I am OK. I talked about it a bit on Saturday and started to feel more and more sad about it throughout the day.

I was completely unprepared for his sweet little bubbly request mid-day Sunday just before his nap. He hadn't nursed in the middle of the day for months. He looked up at me as I rocked him and asked. I took a deep breath and for a moment, thought about nursing. Then I realized it had been such an easy transition for us and I would only be going back to it to make me feel momentarily better. The transition might be much for painful next time. So I told him that Mama's Milk was gone and that we couldn't nurse anymore. I am certain that I talked and talked and explained it way more than I needed to. He seemed completely fine with it, snuggled up to me extra tight and fell fast asleep.

Sigh... He hasn't brought it up again. He seems completely fine with it. It just all seems so final. No more kids--- we made that decision. But now it feels like my baby has just moved right on. I am happy, proud, ready. And still a little sad.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

True Feminism

I am rereading Anita Diamant's The Red Tent. I read it long ago, before I was a mother. Rarely do I write down quotes from books and things but I had one from this book up in my house for ages. Something about "life's hardships are like the knots holding the jewels in place on a beautiful necklace." Obviously, the first time I read this book, this is what I needed to hear.

This time around reading it, I have such a different perspective. I remember very little of the story but I am captivated by the discussions of childbirth and attitudes about women's bodies and cycles and relationships.

This is the phrase from the book that is sticking with me now, as a mama: "Why did I not know that birth is the pinnacle where women discover the courage to become mothers?" and "Until you are the woman on the bricks, you do not know the power that rises from other women--- even strangers speaking in unknown tongue, invoking the names of familiar goddesses."

I can get pretty worked up about the over-medicalization of childbirth. Evidence shows there are many negative results for health and relationships--- trouble nursing, struggle attaching, longer healing rates due to C-sections as the result of unnecessary interventions, etc.

This quote stirred something much greater in me. I feel like a generation or two of women struggle to feel confident as mothers. They lack the inclination to follow their "Mother's Intuition" and I feel like that phrase speaks to the very core of that.

Until women are in charge of our own childbirth process and TRUST ourselves--- our bodies, our hearts and our minds---- to birth our babies as naturally as possible, we will lack the courage to aptly parent our babies, children and teens.

We need to trust ourselves and right now, our society's about childbirth do not honor this need. I often lack the confidence to do what I need to do. If I can remember to think about birthing my babies every time, I will have such a surge of confidence and power. I have never felt so powerful as when I gave birth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Old Parents

I have old parents. Really old. My mom will turn 71 tomorrow. I was recently reading her recipe for pie crust ("It's the easiest thing in the world, Sarah. Just like this and like that and there you go!") In the recipe, which she wrote out last year, she calls for "Sticks of Oleo". I have never even seen Oleo but I know what she means. What I don't know is if I can use butter, not margarine. It did get me thinking about all the things that were said in my household growing up, some of which I say all the time. I wonder how that will work when I am 71 and my kids are this age. (I promise to leave out all the racial slurs/terms used by my family in the nicest way possible.)

Oleo = margarine
Davenport = couch
Afghan (before I had ever heard of Afghanistan) = throw/blanket--- not for your bed but for when you are on the couch reading.
Ottoman = footstool
Pocketbook = purse
Supper = dinner
Dinner = lunch

Having my daughter in school often makes me think of the Famous Angie Thompson Story.
My mom had me when she was 35. Although she still has beautiful, almost wrinkle-free skin, she had quite a bit of gray hair by the time she was 40 and I was in kindergarten. One day my mom was there helping manage the chaos that is kindergarten pick-up and one little girl came up to her. Angie Thompson, whose own mother was probably not yet 30, asked my mom, "Are you Sarah's Grandma?" My mother still tells this story so it obviously affected her. I had my kids at 30 and 34 and I am also getting quite gray. Thank goodness for this greasy skin I have hated all my life. Maybe I will be be smooth-skinned like my lovely mama. I wonder if any of Luna's classmates will ask me if I am her grandma? I have seen some of the other parents and I won't be surprised if it happens.

The System

This is Luna's third week of school. I have cried. She has cried. I have cried some more. She started a new school this year. She is in the First Grade at a public school located in our neighborhood. She seems to be finally settling in and I cry less these days. We are trying to assimilate into this new world.

I am the Secretary of the PTO. I met with her teacher last week and her passion for teaching makes me feel much better about all sorts of things--- not everything though. Luna has had homework--- ridiculously stupid homework that required me reading the directions three times to explain. I tried to convince her she didn't need to do it. My daughter would have none of it. We compromised by having her do it but then I got to write a note at the bottom about how confusing it was.

Luna has been on "green" everyday. This means that she is sometimes rewarded with candy for doing what she is supposed to be doing. I am conflicted. Most of the time, I think this is a stupid system designed to treat to children like dogs and steal all of their intrinsic motivation for learning and doing the right thing. The rest of the time I want more than anything for her to be on "green" so that she feels good about going to school and has something of which she can be proud. On Fridays, the teacher sends home a paper that has a check for each day and says whether your child was on green, yellow, orange or red. Parents must sign it and return it on Monday. While I appreciate the idea of more communication/ not less, I am certain that when and if Luna ever moves off of green, I am going to need more information from the teacher than a check. What about those parents whose kids are all over the place? How do they know how to support their children to make better choices. I hope that the teacher is communicating with those families.

The other main issue I have with the system is that it does not reward students for being inquisitive and independent. It rewards them for being quiet and still and quiet and more quiet. Suffice to say that this mom is having a hard time adjusting from the free-thinking and exciting Montessori classroom to this traditional setting. I know that everyone will say that kids in the public education system need more structure and you can't possibly have that kind of freedom and autonomy with "these kinds of kids" but I still am not convinced. We do have a public "Montessori" school. Somehow it has been certified by AMI but the on-the-street knowledge I have of the school is that the teachers often revert to the reward/punishment system that is so common in American schools. Rather than blame "those kinds of kids", I would place the blame on system which requires public school teachers to do so much of this ridiculous testing and teaching to the test. I saw firsthand in Luna's classroom at Montessori that left to their own devices, the kids challenged themselves and learned new things all the time. How that would translate to these ridiculous tests, I can't say. Luna did have some children with special needs in her room. They received a little outside help and did require some extra attention from the teachers. Overall, though, I think these children were just as capable of functioning in the Montessori room and it was beneficial for my child to slow down and help others. It helped her learn things on a different level. It just makes so much sense. If we teach them at age 3 where everything goes and how to use things, they will be respectful of the materials and take pride in their work. If we, as adults, decide when they can pee, when they can look at numbers, when they can stand up and when they can look at letters, we are undermining their natural love of learning.

Obviously, I am still in mourning. Luna is doing fine. She is a rule-follower. She likes to make other people happy (which also terrifies me but that is another post altogether). She will work hard to do the "right" thing in her classroom. She is bright. She is already way ahead of the other children in her reading skills. She will do fine... She will do fine... Her mama on the other hand...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Thinking Mom

It constantly amazes me that otherwise tight-lipped, "polite" people think it is OK to give their opinions about your parenting. Complete strangers who would never talk about farts or burps or, heaven forbid, something interesting like sex, think it is perfectly OK to ask you all sorts of things like: "When are you having another one?" and "You should have had them closer together," and "Just you wait, you say you will never spank them now..." and "Breastfeeding is so much work. You should just open a can of formula."

Ask me about religion or politics, folks, and I am detached enough that I can listen to your drivel. But DO NOT tell me your stoopid thoughts on parenting my children. Trust me, I have thought about this one... and I am doing it quite well thank you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Backyard

These pictures are all taken in our yard and I especially love the ones in the woods. These are taken just a few feet into the woods behind our yard.
The other day, Tommy and I were hanging out in the sandbox in the yard and he started waving at someone in the woods. I turned around to see who it was and there were 3 deer standing right up where most of these pictures were taken--- right near the jack-in-the-pulpit.

Yeah, I said jack-in-the-pulpit. Luna and I were walking in the woods sometime last week and she said, "Are these jack-in-the-pulpit? They are one of the first signs of spring." I was surprised that she even knew what those were. I glanced around quickly and said no. I looked a little closer and saw that she was RIGHT! Where does she get this stuff? We were standing in the middle of dozens of them and she identifies them somehow by the leaves, NOT the actual jack-in-the-pulpit. I think it is hilarious because she has no idea about a pulpit or a preacher. I am sure I was 27 before I knew this plant even existed.
The kids have been really having fun together lately. Luna reads to Tommy all the time. I am still at home and loving it. I am so lucky to be able to spend my days digging in the garden, looking at worms and reading books with these little superstars.

Yesterday, Tommy laid on the sidewalk on his belly for over ten minutes watching ants work. I stopped what I was doing and squatted down next to him. I love that the my kids remind me to slow the f*** down. What an amazing life I have.