30 November 2008

I Need to Remember This, my A-.

I need to remember this. This is always how I have affixed memories in my mind, by freezing time for a split second, stepping outside of myself, and consciously fixing a time, a place, a feeling, in my head. I have memories of a cafe in Paris, a trattoria in Rome, the first time my husband kissed, the first time we made love. The feel of the air, the smell of the walls or the wind, the ambient light; I can recall these circumstances and settings, and take myself back, not only to the time, but the feel of these memories.

And now, I need to remember my daughter, A-. The size she is now, as she sleeps on my chest, her head tucked into my neck. Her arms are draped down either side of my breasts, and her head is cocked back at that angle that can only be comfortable to a baby, whose bones still remember the weightlessness of the womb. I cannot see her face, only her ear, visible when I tuck my chin to my chest. Her weight, at once solid and slight, weighty and fragile. It is the knowledge that she changes from one moment to the next, as her chest rises and falls with each breath, that makes her seem so ephemeral. Her cheek, chin, hand, are so soft, as I run my fingers over them. I remember the feel of her mouth on my breast, the substance and sustanence I offer her each time she feeds. I bend my cheek to hers, kiss her face, breathe her sweet, familiar smell. The warm glow of the dim lights in our home and the cooler lights from the television combine in a familiar glow, particular to this room. My husband's arm and leg are pressed against mine, and my free hand and his reach for each other but do not clasp. They pass over each other lightly, tracing lines and calluses, bone and flesh, in that manner bred by intimacy. It is just we three here and now.

I am so afraid that I will forget this moment. It happens, I know, because our two grown cats, our first children, laze about this room with us, and I was their when they were born, and have watched them grow. My mind knows that they were once tiny balls of fuzzy hair and clouded eyes, and yet my heart cannot remember that they fit in the palm of my hand. I reach for that memory, knowing that it existed, and yet it eludes me.

I cannot let that happen with A-. And so I sit, after the moment has passed, and commit this memory to writing. To the solid black and white of words. I hope that this writing is more trustworthy than my slippery mind and heart, which can only see the present beauty. I need to remember this.

24 November 2008

Doing it Right, This Parenting Thing.

So, I have started BabyA on solid foods, if you can call runny brown rice cereal and apple sauce solid. This despite very firm warnings from our local public health unit that BABIES SHOULD NOT BE STARTED ON SOLID FOOD UNTIL THEY ARE SIX MONTHS OLD. Which I am ignoring.

I actually started letting her taste some of my foods a couple weeks ago, because she seemed so curious about what GeekDad and I were eating. She'd watch us intently, reach out for our food and/or utensils and/or mouths, etc., etc. So I started with the rice cereal, and Baby A loves it. She not only opens her mouth for the spoon, but she almost lunges for it in her enthusiasm. And while I'm sure at least a third of the food ends up on her hands (which she insists on shoving in her mouth simultaneously to the spoon) and face and bib and clothes and chair, she is definitely getting a good portion of the stuff into her belly.

So while these seemed to indicate that I had made the right decision about taking this next step in the child rearing process, part of me was still uneasy. Because I was BREAKING THE RULES. Feeding my child, only five months old, solid foods. This is because while I understand on a intellectual level that every child follows their own development schedule, on a gut level, I am a rule-follower. When I first had BabyA, my post-partum craziness manifested in a low-grade obsession with whether I was doing things right. I kept lists indicating the times I fed her, for how long, how many poops she was having and whether they were small, medium or large, etc. I'm not kidding. I can show you the lists, as they are in a small notebook, which, thankfully, has been put to other, less-OCD tasks now that my PPD crazies have subsided. I am the type of person who reads the instructions BEFORE assembling Ikea furniture, before programming the new electronic device, and before using the new tools. But I realized somewhere around the time BabyA was two months old that what the baby advice books, columns, websites, etc., gave were ONLY suggestions and timelines, and that as much as it went against my nature, this parenting thing was going to require winging it, at least to a certain degree.

So I started feeding BabyA,and then I read through the brochure given to me by the public health nurse about starting babies on solid foods. Backwards, I know, but like I said, I'm working hard at winging it. And the brochure says that I'll know BabyA is ready to start eating solids when she can sit up without too much assistance, shows interest in me eating, anticipates her food, and can swallow the food and not spit it all up. Check, check, check, check. This is all in the same brochure that says no way, no how should babies be eating solid foods before six months. So much for consistency. So it turns out, I'm actually doing ok with the winging it thing. Wow.

Now if only I could be as sanguine about the utterly nasty less-than-fabulous solid-food-poop.

21 November 2008

My Mood is Following the World Markets; Down, Down, Down

I don't know about you, but I've become somewhat news-adverse lately. All the DOOM, GLOOM, WORLD MARKETS REACH A NEW LOW is starting to really get me down. It sucks. We here in Alberta have been somewhat cushioned, but with oil now under $50 a barrel, I'm not sure how much longer that state of affairs will go on. The thing I find most alarming is the volatility of it all. Record lows! Record recovery! Things are OK! They're crashing! We'll be OK! No we won't! We're schizophrenic and need some new meds!! Seriously, I hope things start calming down a little. And preferably not at the bottom part of the roller coaster.

Anyway, all of this is a segue to an interesting post on the Sweet Juniper blog about why the automakers deserve a bailout. I'm not sure that I follow all of Jim's reasoning - especially the argument that this industry should get the money because they are more deserving than Wall Street. They may be more deserving in some ways, but one undeserved bailout doesn't justify another. I did, however, very much like Jim's point about the importance of an economy that actually makes something.

"They say a sustainable model for future economies will trend away from globalization and be based more on localization... perhaps this could be an opportunity to start transforming manufacturing in the United States to a sustainable model that strengthens our economy and provides jobs here rather than just strengthening the portfolios of a privileged few at the expense of so many. But calling for the death of this American industry is callous and shortsighted, and I would add that slowly turning into a nation where no one knows how to make anything but hamburgers and silkscreened t-shirts can't be good for national security."

This is an excellent point. One of the things which made the United States, and the rest of the first world, for that matter, economic powerhouses, is that they paid their workers a high enough wage that they could purchase what they produced (i.e. if you work in a clothing manufacturing plant, you should be able to purchase the clothing you produce). The whole outsourcing to the developing world and paying people so little they can't afford a crappy t-shirt never made sense to me. Wouldn't it make more sense to pay your producers enough that they can buy your stuff, thereby exponentially expanding your market? I'm not an economist, but this seems pretty basic to me, as does Jim's argument that we should be producing stuff for and buying stuff from the people who live close to us, at least on a national level. It means paying more for some of these things, but it may also mean we are supporting each other, and an economy that can support itself.

I have to say, I hope Jim is right when he says that this is an opportunity for change for the better, if both the American government and ours are smart enough to take advantage of it. Because change is going to happen, whether we want it or not, and this is our chance to make the most of it.

14 November 2008

Surfin' the Chores, or, Terminally Distracted

So my friend J and I are talking at lunch the other day, and she tells me how she spent an entire Saturday working her butt off, and yet failed to finish the task she started out with in the morning. In her case, the ambition to pickle beets led to doing a quick sink of dishes, which led to a quick swipe of the stove, and to an all out oven scrub, and then cleaning the basement... you know how it goes. Or at least I do.

I start with unloading the dishwasher, and then head upstairs to collect dishes and get distracted by the dirty laundry, and then the recycling which I need to sort catches my eye, and then GeekDad is home, and I have yet to unload the dishwasher. It's like surfing the internet, where you start out with a particular topic or page or what have you, and suddenly hours have passed and you are watching Rick Astley videos and cracking up over grammatically challenged cats.

I never used to be this easily distracted, but since the birth of BabyA, I feel as though my sense of focus is on indefinate leave. I desperately hope think, or hope, that this is just a function of motherhood, and the fact that since having BabyA, I don't think I've spent more than 15 or 20 minutes doing any single task except feeding. Even playing with BabyA involves frequent changes of activity - 15 minutes of lap excercises, 10 minutes of reading a book, 15 minutes of tummy time, 5 minutes on the change table, etc., etc. On the rare occasion I am doing something for a slightly longer period of time, it's usualy with divided attention, as in holding BabyA and eating lunch, or playing with her while I try to catch a few minutes of the morning news.

I miss having focus. I miss being able to start a task and finish that same task without being dragged off to something else. I know that its part and parcel of being a parent, and I wouldn't change my life for anything, but damn it, this distracted brain of mine is going to be the death of me, I swear.

12 November 2008

Coolest Baby Room Ever? May-beee...

So, this is the first mommy-type post of my mommy-ish blog. BabyA is current 4 and 3/4 months old. If you've ever wondered why it is that parents are so anally specific about the age of their babies, it's because they grow so ridiculously fast. Literally, BabyA changes from week to week in what she can do, how she responds to GeekDad and I, and how she sees her world. It is one of the most awe-inspiring things I've had the privilege to witness. Seriously.

So, because one of the purposes of this blog is to catalogue BabyA's childhood, I am dutifully reporting that she rolled from her stomach to her back today. She's been regularly rolling from back to tummy for a few weeks already, whereupon she acts like a high centred turtle and thrashes about with her arms and legs until she gets tired and starts making those frustrated 'meh, meh' sounds, but this is the first time she's continued the rolling to make a complete roll. And I have to say, this shit scares me a bit, because I'm fully aware that the rolling and the thrashing are precursors to the crawling and the walking, and I'm am not prepared for Mobile Baby, for godsakes!! I commissioned my brother, the engineer, to think about how the hell we're going to rig up a baby gate for the main floor of our four-level split, cause two sets of stairs +
mobile baby = panicked mama. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated, interwebs!

In other baby-related news, GeekDad and I have finished decorating BabyA's room. About 5 months late, but you know, the whole working until 2 weeks before due date, and then C-section that won't heal quite right, and post-partum anxiety crazies... well, I'm lucky its finished now. Anyway, I'm totally jazzed about her room, and fully acknowledge the fact that apparently we've decided BabyA will be an astronomy geek. Hey, I wasn't going to go decorating my kid's room with My Little Pony or Dora or some such shit. Not a fan of the over-merchandised kiddie crap over here. So we went with a Sky and Space type theme. Notice the moon light on the wall - it cycles through the moon phases, from crescent to full and back again. Also, GeekDad and I put actual constellations in the star patterns. They aren't placed right or anything, but they are there.

And here's the fab-o-luss solar system mobile:

I love this room - I just hope BabyA is just as pleased, once she's old enough to have an opinion.

Coming soon, BabyA's birth story...

11 November 2008

Support the Troops, but not the War? I'm just not sure...

So, today is Remembrance Day in Canada. And since my grandfather served in WWII (as a chaplain), I totally get the importance of honoring the sacrifice of those who have served. GeekDad, Baby A and I didn't attend any of the events today, but spent some time with our extended family.

What I've been thinking about today is, do I support veterens and current military personnel, without supporting the actions they are taking, i.e. the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? The war in Iraq seemed terribly ill-advised from the beginning, and poorly executed in the interim, and I'm glad that president-elect Obama has committed to ending it.

I'm more ambivalent about Afghanistan. As a country, Afghanistan has been a mess for a long time, and hasn't been helped by the interference of the Soviet Union, the United States, or any number of other countries. But I have really been hoping that the NATO troops that are stationed there now are doing some good, bringing some stability and peace to people who haven't seen either of those things for at least thirty years. Reports seem to indicate that things are going downhill and this makes me so sad. But I don't know that the answer is just to pull our troops out. It seems to me that if we have committed to really making things better, we need to be committed for the long haul. Leaving when things get difficult feels, well, irresponsible. I understand that there are larger issues involved. Are we there because Afghanis truly want us, or just because of all the 9/11 fallout? Are we pursuing vengence for 9/11 or promoting security and development in Afganistan? I just don't know. But simply leaving just feels wrong, like we are abandoning a committment we've made to a people who've had more promises broken than any people should. Anyway, all this ambivalence makes me wonder if I should be "celebrating" Remembrance Day. Can I celebrate the committment of troops past, without celebrating those who are currently serving? Or do I support the committment of current troops, without agreeing with their mission? I don't really know.

So instead, I mark the day by spending it with my family, and taking a moment to appreciate the freedom to drive to my in-laws without worrying about getting blown up, and the people like my grandfather who made that possible. Because that is something I can get behind, regardless of my feelings about current conflicts.

09 November 2008

Lingerie for Toddlers?! WTF??!

The subtle, (and sometimes not-so-subtle) sexualization of young girls is something that has been addressed better writers than I. But all subtlety has been blasted by this latest trend – lingerie for toddlers (!!!!!!) Last week’s issue of Maclean’s (a Canadian newsmagazine), has a story on bras, thongs, and and sexy nightgowns for the pre-pre-teen set. Let’s be clear – these are not dress-up clothes of the type you might find hanging next to the Disney princess dresses, plastic high heels, and fairy wings that you might find in the toy store. We’re talking padding and underwires, and retailers like Old Navy and TJ Maxx are actually marketing these as underwear, an alternative to the cartoon-character, cotton variety that most kids seem to be wearing. As article author Rebecca Eckler writes of her own daughter, for whom she purchased a bra in the name of research, “Thanks to the padding, she looked creepy – like a four-year-old going through puberty with budding breasts.”

Isn’t this just like inviting the creeps to view a little girl sexually?? I know this veers dangerously close to the argument that how a woman dresses can justify raping or otherwise assaulting her, which is just bullshit. But dressing a six-year-old like a sexually mature woman just seems like asking for trouble on so many levels. At the very least, I’m afraid that it forces a certain level of sexual maturity on our daughters that they are completely unequipped to handle.

This kind of thing freaks me the hell out. My own daughter, BabyA is only four months old, so this isn’t something we’ve had to deal with yet. But this kind of thing has me shaking in my boots. I want my daughter to have a chance to be a little girl, to play without worrying about the image she is projecting, to keep some innocence, at least for a little while. I already have a six-year-old niece, who manages to emulate the Bratz dolls in all their hip-thrusting, chin-jutting glory, complete with attitude, and every time I see it, it makes me a little sad. Where is the little girl?

When I was pregnant, I commented to a friend that I thought in some ways it would be much harder to raise a daughter than a son, because there are so many more minefield to try to steer girls through. My friend said that boys have their own set of difficulties to deal with, with the physicality and bullying and stereotypes of masculinity, etc. However, it seems to me that our society isn’t so eager to sexualize boys at such a ridiculously young age. I am wrong about this?? Give a newbie mom a bit of advice – how do you help your daughters deal with this shit??

07 November 2008

So, why a blog??

It’s a good question, considering that until this last year, I had never read a blog. Then I got impregnanted by GeekDad, and since I didn’t have many pregnant friends, I went looking online for women talking about motherhood. And what I found was an amazing community of women and men who have created an incredible community around the shared experience of being a parent.

These people have shown me that blogging is about connecting with other people, sharing your vulnerabilities, your joys and sorrows. Most importantly, they made me GREEN WITH ENVY – because they are the really cool kids, not just the popular ones. So, I’m joining the blogosphere – to keep a record of my journey into motherhood, to share my crazies and happy thoughts, and to connect with the people out there, maybe I can encourage someone the way the mommyblogging community has encouraged me.

Ok, enough with the mushies, blogward ho!