Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh the yo-yo of it all...

If somebody would've told me beforehand - I never would have believed them.  The yo-yo is sometimes too intense to actually be, well, believable.  I'd have thought they were being melodramatic or exaggerating.  I'd have thought they didn't appreciate, you know, the miracle of parenthood and blah blah blah, etc. etc.
So, what the heck am I talking about?  I'm talking about the ups & downs and highs & lows of parenting.  I'm talking about how bloody quick that high can become a low, and vice versa.   (It's entirely possible that I've blogged about this before.  If so, clearly I'm still amazed by it).

(As a sidenote here: I will be the first to admit that my kids tend towards the, um, intense.  They come by it honestly.  Like their Mama, they do not believe in doing anything, or any mood, half-assed.  Moderate just isn't our way.  So I get that other folks may think I'm wingeing when I talk about my kids' moods or tantrums or reactions or activity levels and the like.  But you'll just have to trust me when I say, my tots are an intense little lot.)

Anyhoo - back to the ups and down business.  There are days when the mood pendulum is so great that I can cry happy, sad and frustrated tears all in one day (or one outing, for that matter!).  Who would believe that before becoming a parent? 

There is nothing that can prepare you for the rush of sheer bliss that comes from spontaneous hugs, declarations of affection, or impromptu kitchen dance parties with a coupla smalls?  There is also nothing that can prepare you (and I mean nothing!) for the intensity of helplessness and anger when you are dealing with an intense hour long (and that's not even close to our household record either peeps) in which you get slapped, kicked and have to dodge miscellaneous projectiles, in which the raging tantrum-ee is so worked up, he gouges a huge welt in their own stomach, while you are attempting (and usually failing) to maintain a zen-like calm.   But then, as quickly as it roared in, the tantrum stops.  And you are overcome with an overwhelming need to comfort and shelter this child that seconds ago was as big as a hurricane, and now seems so vulnerable and tiny.  Or  how 'bout the extreme frustration from dealing with a toddler so steadfastly against the concept of sleep that she will poke her own eyeballs in an attempt to avoid getting those zzzz's.    And  unexpectedly, the toddler collapses in a heap of sleep.  And you are overcome with relief, and an enormous flooding of gooey love for this gorgeous, sweetly sleeping babe in front of you.

The yo-yo is nuts.  Sheer nuttery.  Especially when you add to the yo-yo your own feelings of ineptitude, the nagging suspician that you could've, should've handled it (whatever it is) better, that you are really not cut out for this business.  And top that with the moments that just go right, those fleeting moments when you get to think: 'Wow, we're doing an awesome job with these amazing kids."   Yo.  Yo.  

There is this fantastic old movie about parenting, called (wait for it!): Parenthood.  It's an 80's flick with Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen and if you haven't seen it, you are totally missing out.   (Really.  Rent it or Netflix it or something).  Anyhow - there's this scene where a wise little grandma is trying to explain to her grandson (Martin) that parenthood is like a rollercoaster...

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: (not really paying attention) Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!

Gil: (totally sarcastic) What a great story.

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

Grandma is right of course.  It's a roller coaster.  One minute your heart is breaking and the next second it's swelling with all kinds of warm fuzzies.  It's an awesome, wonderful, terrifying, angry-making, holy-crap-I'm-tired-and-scared-and-I-don't-know-if-I-can-do-this, exciting, sickening, exhilarating, roller coaster.   

Or, you know, a yo-yo.

Either way, what a ride.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

the art of stall tactics

Bedtime has become one of the longest, drawn out rituals we have in our home of late.   Like, long long.  Our boy has t-e-n-a-c-i-t-y, that's for sure.  And he is largely non-agreeable to any sleep-type activity that does not involve one or both of his parents in bed with him.   (Well, mostly he's non-agreeable to sleep period, but he is slightly more amenable to it if we're there too.) 

Anyhoo - lately bedtime has become a roughly 1 1/2 - 2 hour process, which goes something like this:

Bath  - 7 p.m.
Tooth brushing - 7:30 p.m.
Stories - 7:40 p.m
I have to pee! -  7:50 p.m.
Snuggles and a myriad of "I love yous"  - 7:51 p.m.
I need some water.  - 7:55 p.m.
You closed the door too far.  - 7:59 p.m.
(We closed the door the same as every other night, honey)
Wahhhhhhh!!!!  - 8:01 p.m.
I have to pee again. - 8:08 p.m.
Can I sleep in your bed?  Your bed is much bigger.  And comfier!  - 8:15 p.m.
I'm not tired.... -  8:17 p.m.
Mama?  Mama?  Are you there? I love you Mama!  I really, really, love you.  All the way to the moon and the stars and back again.   - 8:21 p.m.
Mommy!  Diego is real.  He's NOT just in cartoon land.  When I grow up, I'm going to be an animal rescuer. . . .   and an astronaut . . . and a firefighter. . . . and a pilot.  - 8:30 p.m.
Mama?  Mommy?  - 8:34 p.m.
I love you!  Have a good sleep Mama! - 8:40 p.m.
*chatting away to himself*  - 8:45 p.m.
Will someone come and check on me?  - 8:50 p.m.

And finally, eventually, sleep.  Upon which time, all of our frustrations magically melt away by looking at his ridiculously cute, angelic sleeping face.  This little trick is child-voodoo at its finest.  

And by the time he finally falls asleep - both of his parents are not far behind.  We clearly lack his tenacity for sleep resistance.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Check out Jennifer Carr's awesome blog about her journey as mama to a young transgender child.  Jennifer has written a long-overdue kids book about gender and trans issues, called  "Be Who You Are," which I personally will be ordering for my tots asap. 

You can read a review of Jennifer's book at Offbeat Mama:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I have absolutely nothing to say.  Not a sentence to string together.  I've been sitting here for the past half hour, trying to think of something reasonably witty to say, but really wishing I was in bed watching T.V.   I find it funny (funny-frustrating, not funny ha ha!) that when I do think of something to say, I can't seem to find time to actually blog it, nor am I able to find a pen or a scrap of paper to write the thoughts down for when I do have time to blog, like, say, right now.   (And on a related note, how is it fair that I get all my great blogging ideas while driving?)

So sadly neglected blog - what can I say?  It's not that I don't love you.  But the business of full-time parenting (badly-organized, harried, running-around-the-city-without-a-pen-and-a-scrap-of-paper-parent at that) seems to be rendering me more tired and braindead than usual these days.  Thems the breaks, I guess.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the family unit

I'm bracing myself.  I know it's part of the deal.  But I'm still all full of anxiety about it. 

Boy-o's class is starting their unit on the family.  "The family."  Words that strike terror into this mama's old heart.  I know right now that this is my baggage and not his.  But I wonder how long I'll be able to say this? 

The fear isn't that his school and teacher will deal with the unit poorly. On the contrary - I have every confidence that the discussion will be very inclusive of different family forms, and especially so of Boy-o's. 

But my kid is the only kid in his class who doesn't have a dad.  The only one.  The one and only.  And being the lone 'different' kid is not an easy road.  

Thankfully, we have friends whose families look just like ours.  Boy-o knows he isn't the only kid in the world with two moms or two dads.  He knows that families come in all different shapes and sizes and forms.  His classmates just (somewhat bizarrely, given our exceedingly high divorce rates) happen to have a fairly homogenous (and very traditional) family formations.   

Already he is coming home and acting out families full of moms and dads. Calling L. his dad.  Experimenting and playing with how he perceives his outer world and the very different world in our home.   Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that these actions are normal and inevitable.  But it still touches a nerve.

Because the world is what it is - and we will always be 'different'.   (And perhaps especially so in a town like Redneckville). 
We will (and do) tell him over and over and over that difference is what makes this world, and the people in it, beautiful.  If we teach him nothing else, this is the most essential.  But it's a difficult thing to impart when the outside world, more often than not, does not reflect this message back. 

So - I'll hold my breathe for the next little while.   Try like hell not to let my anxiety filter down to Boy-o.  Do lots of affirming difference kinds of things.  And hope for the best.   

That's all anyone can do, when it comes right down to it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

the days that just work...

On Wednesday, I had one of those days.  One of those covetted, pleasantly surprising, everything-just-goes-right, the universe-loves-you, kinda days. 

While Girlio woke far too early, she didn't wake at all through the previous night (say whhhatttt?!).  Our morning routine was quick and painless - even with the extra kiddo, we left on time, we got to school on time, and we grooved to bad radio music in the car all the way.  Boy-o had very little telltale signs of separation anxiety (our newest parenting adventure, likely to be blogged about at another time) at school and then, later on, chattered away animateedly about his school adventures the whole ride home.  I had a great coffee with a friend and felt light and rejuvinated.

And I spent the afternoon just marvelling at these wonders who are my children, who are these passionate, devil-may-care, bright, creative souls - and amazed that despite (and maybe just a teensy bit because) of their parentage, they are, like, the coolest kids ever.   Boy-o spent hours making up games about space travel and fire fighting (and space-travelling-fire-fighters) and then deciding that he will be an astronomer (who fights fires, natch).  Girlio ran around naming everything she saw (where did she get all these words?!), laughing, getting into trouble (as per usual) and trailing her brother with a look of what can only be described as complete and total adoration.  (Which Boy-o tolerated reasonably well). 

I love these days.  I live for these days.  These days remind you that you're better at life than you think you are.  They remind you that the slogging-it-out, dealing-with-self-doubt-around-every-corner, kids-throwing-you-a-new-curveball-everytime-you-figure-the-old-one-out days seem so so worth it.

(And of course they are.  It's just nice to have that little dose of perspective every now and again).

P!nk - F**kin' Perfect video (uncensored version :) FYI: involves a scene of cutting

Damn right, P!nk.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not an easy watch - but a very (sadly) effective ad on domestic violence

**This social experiment was carried out using hidden cameras in a townhouse complex in Johannesburg. Don't condone violence by doing nothing.**

If you hear stuff like this - call someone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I almost peed my pants... literally

For a ridiculously funny examination of the butchering of the word 'literally'.  And for a good laugh at the expense of the late, and yet still an asshole after his death, Rev. Jerry Falwell.  Win/win, my friends :)

On Katy Perry and the like...

My Boy-o loves Katy Perry.  Loves her.  LOVES her.  I do not love Katy Perry.  Um, emphatically.  (I have a rant, which I will mostly leave out, which involves the line "I kissed a girl and I liked it... because my boyfriend liked it more" etc., which mainly involves my general disgust at her exploiting queer culture for shock value in order to make mucho money.  Anyhoo - I digress).

This morning, when one of her songs came on the radio, he announced dreamily:  "Ohhhh Katy Perry is my favourite."  And then added beseechingly "Maybe someday YOU will love Katy Perry too, Mama."  Fat chance.  And it's not just Katy Perry.  Boy-o loves all pop music, some good stuff, some really, really bad stuff.   And it is all my fault.  Well - mostly, anyways. 

I used to be one of those good parents whose kids only listened to age-appropriate children's music (much of which made me want to stab my eyeballs out as much as Katy Perry, so there ya go).  But then, my dear Boy-o was allowed to play around in the front seat one day whilst his mommy was cleaning out the garage.  And at the end of said exciting adventure, there were many coins in our cars cd player.  No more cd player in the car.  No problem!  We still have the trusty old IPOD, right?  Except then, then, Girlio broke the IPOD dock.  And then the IPOD itself died.  And said circumstances ushered in the era of only being able to listen to the radio while in the car (which we spend an almost alarming amount of time in, I'm sorry to say).

And then there's Glee.  L. and I are total Glee lovers.  True story.  And because Boy-o is such a music lover, such a theatrical dude, and general performer, one day we got the bright idea of letting him watch some Glee  performances on Youtube.  And he was instantaneously hooked.  It's like crack for him.  Singing and dancing four year old crack.  He knows most of the characters names (and is, at the moment, particularly in love with Artie).  Anyways - Glee introduced Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and is the entire reason my four year old might spontaneously burst into song lyrics such as "I'll let you put your hands on me in my skintight jeans, be your teenage dream tonight..."  Mmmmhmmmm.  Super innappropriate, a little disturbing, and yet,somehow arrestingly cute at the same time. 

And though I'm a total nerd and a CBC diehard - I don't listen to CBC when the smalls are in the car because I don't think they need to listen to the news of death and general world destruction.  So L. and I found the least obnoxious radio station we could, and Boy-o became a pop-listenin' machine.  And we continued on in our apparent quest to become bad, bad parents.

There have been some notably fun (pride filled) moments to our radio listening sojourns, such as when Boy-o heard  the openning bars to "I Love Rock 'n Roll" and shouted: "That's Joan Jett.  She's a real rocker!!!"  How can you not love that?!  We've also discovered during this journey that Boy-o's ability to recognize music phrasing and sounds is pretty amazing. 

And still - there's a large part of me that squirms every morning when my sweet four year old shouts out lyrics that are 1. often just plain bad, and 2. really not at all age-appropriate. 

"Mama, mama!!  Is that Bon Jovi?" 
"Mama - it's Michael Buble!" 
"We can't get out of the car until Wady Gaga is finished!  She is my favourite and my best!"
"Maroon 5 is so good!"

Once again, it seems that I'm the parent I used to judge.  Oh yes I am.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a little low-week laughter...

A friend of mine found this little gem and posted it on FB.  Apparently, it's the real deal, as in, not at all ironic.  (Thogh even if it isn't - it's still funny - okay sad-funny, but still funny - as hell!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

vaccination frustration

A friend recently posted a question as to whether to her friends vaccinate or not on her facebook page.  What ensued was a surprisingly respectful discussion on why people choose to vaccinate, and correspondingly, why people choose not to.  Some, like me, choose to selectively vaccinate and/or delay various vaccinations. 

Several people reading this will undoubtably write me off as uneducated, a wing-nut, a fringe parent who just can't understand the obvious good science of herd immunity.  On the contrary.  Though I may actually be a wing-nut, I'm rather clever actually, and I get the science behind herd immunity.  Some of it is even probably good science. 

But unlike much of the world, I don't see science as value neutral.  What I mean by this is:  some questions get asked, get funded, get studied.  Correspondingly, some questions do not get asked, do not get funded, do not get studied.  The business of which questions are seen as important to study and which are not, and even the way questions are framed to get asked, is a value-laden process.  (Hence, I do not believe that the holding out of science as 'fact' or 'emperical' knowledge is actually all that accurate.  Science is one way of knowing, one form of epistemology.  It is not the only one.)

People have been posting left, right and centre about the recent declaration that Dr. Wakefield's study on the MMR vaccine (many, many moons ago) which linked it to autism is scientific fraud.  I don't have problems with the sharing of this information.  But I do have problems with the ensuing conversations that occur, most of which involve bashing the intellect and decisions made by parents who are skeptical of the safety of vaccines. 

We, as parents, as expected to just take for granted that vaccines are safe, relatively benign substances to inject into our own, and our children's, bodies.  We are expected to believe that they are safe because we are told they are safe.   For one thing, all vaccines have a risk. That's why they make you wait in the office after you're finished. (And for the parents of that one in 1000th child who gets sick or dies from a vaccine, I'm quite sure the fact that the risk in 1 in 1000 isn't really all that comforting).    For another, - and here's the part that really pisses me off - when you ask your doctor or public health official what exactly makes up the vaccine you are about to inject into your child... they don't seem to be able to tell you (try it and see!).   I've looked up the ingredients to several vaccines online (yes, I'm aware that Canadian vaccines are different than American vaccines). Though most of our vaccines no longer contain Thimserol (that's mercury folks - the stuff we panic about when our household thermometers break) as they still do in the US, the flu shot and Hep B does apparently still use it.  Other vaccines do still contain very small amounts of other fun stuff like formaldehyde and aluminum.  

And yes - even though I'm told that these really nasty chemicals in trace amounts are perfectly safe to inject into my child - I worry.  I worry lots.  And you know what, I don't think it makes me a wing-nut.  I think asking these sorts of questions actually makes me kinda sensible. 

Moreover - I think it's not entirely unreasonable to be critical of big pharmacy.  There are a kajillion new vaccines being tested all of the time.  Some which might in fact be profoundly useful and others.... well. maybe not so much.  But they'll be guaranteed to make a lotta dough for some already fat wallets. (I just read about the testing of a vaccine to help people quit smoking).  I wonder how many new vaccines will my children's children be expected to take?  

For me, the decision about whether or not to vaccinate is a cost-benefit analysis.  I worry about the long-term, lifetime effects of injecting those toxins into my tots.  I do.  I worry about the possible cancer risks, infertility risks, etc. etc., especially as we are developing more and more vaccines every day.  (It would be mighty interesting to see a longterm study looking at the differences in certain health areas between immunized and non-immunized individuals - but I've yet to see one.)   But I also don't want my tots getting meningitis.  Or polio.  Or other really life-threatening illnesses.  So sometimes I choose to take the risk of long-term problems in order to guarantee my tots don't get those life threatening illnesses.  And sometimes I choose to opt out of vaccines I don't think are necessary to my children's immediate health and well-being.   You won't see us standing in line for a flu shot, a chicken pox shot, or the HPV shot.  (The altter because I agree with the criticisms that this vaccine has been pushed through without adequate testing.  That's just my take).  This is the business of being a parent.  Making tough calls, using our best judgement, trying to decide what's best for our children, despite what other people (yes even learned medical people) tell us. 

I completely respect the decisions of people who choose to, and choose not to vaccinate.  I don't think either position is an easy position to inhabit, when you really get all of the information from both side of the fence.  (Which is I guess, why I'm straddling the fence.)   L. and I are regularlyattentive to changing information, and constantly revisiting our decisions about which vaccinations we are and aren't comfortable with. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is - I'd sure appreciate that same respect from people whose choices are different than mine.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Thanks for sticking with me during the many crises of faith 2011 seems to have bestowed upon me.  (And even more than that, thanks for all the commiserating and votes of confidence.  It's really lovely to know that others have been where I am now).  I certainly seem to have hit a wall.  Um, hello wall.  

I'm trying to get some perspective, and think of this big ole brick wall as a good thing.  It's a definite sign.  Time for some changes in my life.  Status quo doesn't seem to be working anymore.  Time for... well, time for me, I guess.   I don't know what I need to do yet.  There hasn't been any big thunderbolt or "aha!" moment.  But I have figured out that I have a pretty serious case of caregiver fatigue.  In between toting that extra kid to school everyday and shovelling out my perennially gone next door neighbour and caring for my own tots and volunteering on the sexual assault line... I'm all cared out.   And that's putting it mildly.

So - step one in self care has been to put myself on a leave of absence for the sexual assault line.  I may or may not continue to tote that extra kid in the mornings (on the fence on that one).  The neighbour I can't really do anything about - so I'll just have to deal.  And I'd kind of like to keep my kids. 

Step two is going to be finding something to do at least once a week that's just for me.  Me.  ME.   Something that involves no caring of any kind, for anything or anyone.  A once-weekly moratorium on care-age.  Right about now, it sounds like HEAVEN.

And from there ... who knows. 

I'll let you all know when the thunderbolt strikes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

out of sorts

I get in trouble from time to time for 'being too hard on myself,' particularly in regards to my mom-cred.  It's true - I'm hard on myself.  It's a thing.  I'm aware.  BUT - it's difficult not to be hard on yourself when everyone else seems to have it together.  I don't really know who I mean by 'everyone else.'  I'm also fairly certain everyone else doesn't, in fact, have it all together.  But it seems of late, as though each of my days is filled with moments where I seem to crumble under the most benign of tasks, (say, like getting my kdis ready to go out the door after Boy-o's class) when everyone else seems to be doing just fine and getting on their merry way.  All merrily like.  And I'm tears struggling to get my progeny to stay in one place long enough to get in their damn snow-pants.  And since my children are practically perfect in every way, the problem is clearly mine.  Moreover, I am supposed to be a veteran-y sort of mom now.  I've been momming for over four years now.  I should be able to verify the whereabouts of my children and snowpants them blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back.  I should be able to handle wrangling that extra child to school in the morning, no problemo (we take one of Boy-o's classmates to school in the mornings).  But I am not merry.  There is no merry-making.   I want to kill the extra child in the morning.  And then I want to kill mine.  And when the other parents are merrily dropping their children off, looking well-rested and well-groomed,  I am enduring the pitious looks of strangers because I am looking frazzled, harried, on the brink of crying, and trying very very very hard not to lose my shit in front of god and the world. 

So what gives?  Am I too hard on myself, or do I just really actually suck at this?   Seems like a fine line these days.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

the push and the shove

I had one of those moments yesterday.  One of those moments I swore would never happen as a parent - not on my watch.  (These are the things you truly believe before you have children).  As Girlio awoke and refused to go back down after a mere 20 minutes of nap and a mere twenty minutes of my run - the one I'd been longing and planning for all morning.  And I tried in vain to put her back down, sweat trickling down my face and onto Girlio's clean, freshly made bed.  I begged.  I cajoled.  And then I lost it.  Inappropriately.  And in case you'd all like to know exactly how shitty I did - I wrenched her out of the crib, lugged her downstairs, crabbing loudly at her the whole way, and then I plunked her down on the ground, feeling the tension building and building.  And then I sat down on the floor and yelled.  Yes - at her.  Not just, like in her direction, but at her.  Months and months of building frustration about her sleep (rather lackthereof) and my lack of time and space to replenish my everdwindling inner-resources, amalgamated into something along the lines of  "Why can't you fucking sleep already?!?!  I hate it when you don't sleep!"  And then, catching my bad self losing it, I slipped into the adjacent work room to try and collect myself, while my poor sweet, stubborn and steadfast sleep rejecter cried outside the door and I cried inside the door.  So - not my finest hour as a mama. 

I've said before that parenting has taken me to some pretty incredible highs and lows.  Well, this is the dark side of parenting.  If you are a parent you will do something like this.  You will lose it.  You might swear your brains out.  You might lose it and scream at them like I did.  You might smack them on the ass in the heat of the moment when you swore you'd never spank.  (And in the interests of truth, I've done this once too, with Boy-o.  I've never, not ever felt shittier in my life.  You'll have to trust me on this one). 

Anyone who is a parent who says that they haven't lost it with their kid(s) in a way they never thought they would or in a way they think is wrong - is either very new to the game, a saint, the owner of full-time childcare staff,  a big fat liar or some combination thereof.  Yes - if this is you - I'ma calling your ass out.  I'm airing my dirty laundry here not because I dearly enjoy confessing that I'm an ass, but precisely because this "parenting-is-always-wondrous-and-joyous-and-my-children-are-a-gift-from-God-so-therefore-I-am-a zen-and-always-calm-parent-who-does-the-right-thing" act - it's not fucking helpful to anyone.   

Our kids are a gift.  (Of course they are).  And we still lose it.  Because, as I've said a million or so times, this shit is hard. 

Now that the airing of dirty laundry is complete, the more constructive part of the conversation becomes, what happens after we lose our shit.  When we parent problematically, when we break our kiddos trust (at least that's what it feels like to me), or scare them, (not to mention ourselves) with our innappropriate anger or frustration - how do we repair the damage to the relationship?  And perhaps just as importantly, how do we move past that place of guilt that we effed up so royally and regain our mojo as parents?   Those are the really hard questions, and ones I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers for. 

With Girlio and I yesterday - I started with removing myself from the situation first, catching myself and my breathe, and then returning as quickly as I could.  Then I grabbed her up in a hug and swayed with her for a good five minutes until we were both much calmer.  And then I talked.  I know she's only 18 months old.  I know she doesn't take in everything.  But I talked anyways.  I talked about how sorry I was for losing it and yelling at her.  I talked about how exhausted I am, and how I need breaks from her in order to be a good mama.  I talked about loving her beyond measure.  I talked about how much I need for her to start sleeping.  I talked and talked.   She listened, snuggled, breathed in my neck, chatted back (lots of "why?  why?" her favourite phrase).   She seemed to be content and chill and taking it all in. 

But I don't know if this repaired the damage.  I don't know the extent of the damage, or if she'll remember me screaming in her face later on (either literally or in a more internal, cellular sort of way).  I can't promise it'll never happen again, though of course I'll try my best.  And yes, I still feel guilty about it.  But today is a new day, promising (along with fun adventures) the same frustrations and probably some new ones.  And the guilt won't help me navigate those. 

So one way or another, I gotta move past it and get on with the business of right now, hopefully armed with just a little bit more perspective than I had yesterday.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

the breast

"So - when are you weaning her?"  Now that Girlio has hit 18 months, I seem to be getting this question, in various incarnations, quite a bit these days.  I wonder what it is, precisely, about the 18 month mark that makes folks grow more uncomfortable with breastfeeding?  Is it the fact that my precociously verbal daughter asks for milk by name (and in full sentences)?  That she can crawl into my lap to get it?  That she is no longer a tiny, helpless baby who depends on my milk for her survival?  Is it because she's such an, erm, dedicated breasfeeder?  Whatever reason, I'm starting to feel external pressures, both subtle and not, to wean my bub.  

This is uncharted territory for me, as Boy-o mainly self-weaned at the age of 15 months (I wasn't ready and cried quite a bit about this).  L. and I had started the process of trying to get pregnant again, and our reproductive endocrinologist refused to inseminate us when I was still breastfeeding, saying that breastfeeding damaged our chances of conceiving.  It isn't impossible to get pregnant while breastfeeding.  I know loads of people who have.  But when you're paying a lot of money to try and get pregnant, having your already slim monthly chances diminshed is very daunting.  So we gradually introduced the bottle and a bit of formula (gasp, shock. awe. Whatever.)   for everything but his bedtime and naptime feeds between 13 and 15 months.  And then, he just decided he didn't want those last two feeds one day, suddenly.  I felt horribly guilty and sad about it.  I missed breastfeeding him.  I missed him needing me and snuggling me and being contented by me before nap and bedtime.  And I hated that he was missing out on the benefits of extended breastfeeding.

I have alternately loved enjoyed breastfeeding and felt hobbled and constricted by breastfeeding.  It is not an easy road (public health messages be damned), and it is an intensely personal road.   I don't begrudge anyone their choices around breastfeeding and weaning (and yes, that includes the choice not to). I thinkstringent  breastfeeding proponents often gloss over the fact that it is hard, physically draining and also emotionally draining work - and it is not the right choice for everyone.  BUT- it is the right choice for me.  And for my babes.

I'm  not going to belabour the fact that there are benefits to prolonged breastfeeding.  But you know, there are like, benefits to extended breastfeeding.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005 - emphasis mine).  If you still don't believe me, go here and read any number of links listing a gazillion benefits to mom and babe for extended breastfeeding.   (And if you're like me, try to ignore the tenor of the links - pro-breastfeeding literature in general tends to drive me nuts - but this is the subject for another blog). 

At any rate - there are loads of reasons for which folks decide to keep breastfeeding past the generally accepted time-frames adopted in North America (which apparently, if my experience is any indication, ends around or before the 18 month mark).  

My reasons are pretty darned simple.  Let me spell them out so as to be crystal clear:  1.  it still works for Girlio.  2.  it still works for me.  

And when breastfeeding ceases to meet these criteria - either Girlio or I will start the weaning process.  Until then - I'd sure love it if everyone would back the fuck off.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

the middle of a muddle

I seem to have started off the New Year with restlessness instead of resolve (though generally I'm totally not the NY resolution type).  Well, to be fair, I might be resolved, if I could only figure out what it is that I needed.

I am bored.  Restless.  Kinda bummed.  Needing something.  A change.  A shake-up.  You know, something.  But what? 

I'm commited to being home, (at least part-time), with the kids.  And I've loved, though it has been incredibly challenging in all kinds of ways, being home full-time with my littles for the past four (four!) years.  But I've spent so long being so focussed on my littles, expended so much energy on the work of caring, and being outwardly focussed that I seem to have lost the sense of what being inwardly focussed might even look like. 

I guess this is a round-about way of saying I'd like to resolve to be more focussed on myself - the only problem being I haven't a freaking clue what I want or need to do.  How's that for a stumper.  And all of the options come with logistical nightmares juggling part-time daycare a one car household. 

There are all sorts of options - each with it's own set of "I dunnos".  I could:

1. look for part-time work that doesn't involve me leaving the house.  There are some potential possibilities in this area. This would undoubtably lead to a paycheck and greater sense of self and accomplishment.  And no childcare and car shuffling dilemmas.  Hooray for that bit.  BUT - this also leads to the continuation of my full-time home and childcare workload, with an added part-time job workload added on.  So - we can think of option A here as working in my sleep.  Greater sense of self worth, bit more money, but far less sanity.  Not exactly ideal.

2.  Look for part-time schooling (distance ed).  Same issues as above.  Plus the added dilemma of 'what the hell do I want to study?' 

3.  find part-time work outside of the home.  Benefits include leaving the house (YAY!), paycheck, greater sense of self-worth, etc. etc.  Deficits include:  How do I find a good childcare spot that still make it financially beneficial for me to leave the house?  How do L. and I manage drop-offs, pick-ups and work schedules with one car? (and no, buying a second car is absolutely not an option).

4.  find part-time school outside of the home.  Same benefits.  Plus, the added bonus of nurturing my inner-super-nerd.  I do miss my inner-super-nerd.  Deficits as above.  Plus the added crappiness of my inner-super-nerd being an uber-over-achiever.  Lots of homework.  Lots of research.  Lots of extra home-time spent on homework and research.  And the dilemma of what to study?  I've tossed around massage therapy, Masters in Library Science, an MSW... the list goes on.

5.  try for full-time schooling outside of the home.  The PhD.  (I can hear my inner-nerd singing her heart out).   Highly competitive.  While actual hours in class (thus with littles in childcare) might be part-time-ish, the actual hours of work would be full-time-plus.  (I did mention I was an overachiever, right?) 

6.  maintain the status quo.   Which seems to be working okay -you know,  except for that whole bummed and restless thingy.

And I have no freaking clue which number to choose.

The middle of a muddle indeed.


Monday, January 3, 2011

And in with the new...

The changing of the year is upon us once again.  And once again, I feel old as I realize - where the heck did that year go? 

It was full of milestones and adventures: Boy-o starting school, becoming so independent, turning four; Girlio launching into a walking, climbing, running, talking (in sentences!) little person of an 18 month old; a year of making new friends, attempting to build community, and continuing (and sometimes struggling) to try to find my way in Redneckville for L. and I. 

I wonder what 2011 will bring.  I wonder if I will be able to measure the coming year with a few more milestones of my own?  A new job?  More school?  Choosing a new path?  Choosing to stay on the same path?  Trying to freelance as a writer in earnest?   Continuing to try and find my 'zen place' as a stay-at-home mama (though truth-be-told, I"m not sure I own a zen-place, but who knows)?  Will we continue on our trajectory in Redneckville? 

No matter what the highs and lows of the coming year entail, it's sure to be a big old adventure.

Thanks to everyone for coming along the ride of 2010 with me - I hope you stick around for the next year :)

Happy New Year to everyone.