Friday, June 29, 2007

theory vs. reality

Since I'm such a discipline expert now, I've decided to review a book on discipline called Unconditional Parenting.
I have to be honest--I didn't really like it. Also, I didn't exactly read it; I mostly skimmed it. Mostly because I had a sense that if I read it too closely I'd start obsessing.
Certain books have this effect on me.

The thing is, a lot of the ideas in the book I find compelling. Since I'm such a hippie, I like the touchy-feely, positive-discipline theories (we'll see what I like when Lucy actually gets old enough to need discipline). So Unconditional Parenting really stands with a lot of books I found very interesting and encouraging, like Positive Discipline and How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen. And my favorite, Kid Cooperation.
So, you all ask, what was wrong with this one?
Well, here's the deal. I just found it too theoretical. I think I'm kind of opposed to theory in parenting books. Not that theory doesn't have it's place. I mean, I want to understand the values that cause me to make the parenting choices I'm making. I want to be grounded in what really matters, so that, at least, parenting decisions are grounded in some sort of coherence. Not for coherence's sake, but because I want my whole life to have that coherence: work, money management, eating decisions, friendships, how I spend my time.
But being just slightly prone to idealism and to idealized (and impossible-to-live-up-to) ideas, a little theory for me goes a long way. Like from here to Pakistan and back.
Unconditional Parenting is about 95% theory and 5% practical applications. When you're a first-time parent, all you really need is practical applications. Because you don't know what the hell you're doing.
Take sleep. I read some books on sleep, but really, all the reading in the world left me woefully unprepared to actually help Lucy learn how to sleep. What really would have helped was watching someone put their child to bed each nap and nighttime, but unfortunately I didn't have any friends that wanted me in their bedroom that much.
Instead, all the books did was give me a bunch of ideals to live up to ("no cry" and "co-sleep" and "nighttime parenting" and "insanity"---okay, not that last one) that mostly just made me feel bad when I was at my wit's end and was willing to let Lucy sleep at our neighbor's house if it would help things.
Once I got some practical experience, the books proved more helpful. Then I actually recognized some of their ideas and thought, Oh, THAT's what they're talking about.

I think U.P. would send me down that guilt trip road even more quickly. I couldn't get through even two chapters without feeling inadequate. The author backs up his parenting ideas with a lot of research saying how parents who didn't use U.P. ended up, in clinical studies, with unhappy, hateful children (I exaggerate--he didn't make such grand claims--but did tend to show how more traditional discipline methods fared in studies). I appreciated some actual science (many parenting books have no rigorous proof for their ideas) but the general drift was to make me feel claustrophobic. And the lack of practical tips (I would have wanted the balance of practical/theory to be more like 50/50) left me feeling not just inadequate but incompetent.

One more thing: Kohn just seemed kind of extreme to me. He's all about the kids, all about involvement and respect and compassion. Which is fine--and probably he's extreme to counter more authoritarian ideas in vogue. But still, I don't think there's anything wrong for kids to be subject to the authority of parents. I don't think there is any way to explain every decision, even to older kids. I don't think it's wrong for kids to learn to obey. Sometimes simply to obey, without understanding all the reasons. Believing in the God I do, I think that's a perfectly healthy idea.

I'm really glad that I read U.P. after reading Kid Cooperation, a book that was refreshingly practical, compassionate in it's methods, but also emphasized the authority of parents. That we're in charge! That's it's okay to say, "Because I said so" every so often! Touchy-feely is fine, and compassion and mutual respect and kids that aren't just blindly obedient is great, but life isn't always fair, and parents can't always be Ghandi.
Plus, I think a relentlessly practical book is just more realistic for parents. It causes less feelings of inadequacy when the author shares how they struggled with a situation, and then tried a new angle that worked. I need to hear the struggle to keep in mind that we're all just doing the best we can. And that books are just books--they can't get up with you in the middle of the night, or calm down your kid in the middle of the grocery store.
In the middle. Ain't that the truth of parenting: you're always smack dab in the middle of it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

more lettuce

So we're in month 3? 4? of our organic veggie coop (Community-Supported Agriculture program, to be precise). We get a box of organic, locally-grown veggies (and a few fruits) each week. And the warm, superior feelings that do-gooding produces.
In general, it has been fabulous. We've tried a bunch of new veggies (turnips! Mizuna! Kale!) and greatly increased our veggie eating (which was pretty high). I know that our impact on the environment has gone down, and it feels good to support a local farm. It's nice not having to think about what veggies I want at the grocery store. And it's kind of a fun cooking challenge.

Now for the down side. For a while, I thought beets were going to be the Achilles heel of the whole arrangement. I like beets okay. Dyami hates (hates!) them. I would make them and eat more than I really wanted, and he would eat some and grimace. And when you're paying for the box o' veggies, it's a bit expensive, and is a shame to waste the perfectly good food.
But then Dyami tried juicing the beets! Which uses them efficiently and he likes them fine, and I like it okay, and I don't have to roast them anymore! And he's even using a few carrots to boot!

So now that that's solved, my only problem is lettuce.
Lots and lots (and lots) of lettuce. God. The lettuce.

When we first joined, we were getting about three heads of lettuce each week. Big heads. We were having a lot of salads, but I was kind of proud, because we were getting through the lettuce and not wasting it!
Then my newbie enthusiasm waned. Luckily, so did the number of lettuce heads. It went to two. This was fortuitous. We still ate a lot of salad, but not quite as much.

The problem with lettuce is that you can't juice, stew, roast, or stir-fry it. (Well, you can stir fry, it's just not very good. I know because I tried. It tastes like stir-fried salad. I imagine juiced lettuce tastes like juiced salad.) So if we don't finish the salads, we have an increasing lettuce problem.
The problem has come to a loggerheads.
It got this bad because my birthday/mother's day/our 5th anniversary/father's day/Dyami's dad's 60th birthday all happened within a little more than a month. We went out to dinner a lot, and left town for 2 days. The lettuce apparently had babies while we are gone, because we are in the middle of a lettuce glut. I just can't eat any more salads than I'm doing.

I realized how big the problem was when it started causing marital problems. Usually I dutifully eat salad along with lunch, and get a big plate o' greens along with dinner.

Dyami gets a small bowl, when he remembers. (Keep in mind that we usually have other vegetables with each meal, as well).

Last night I realized I was resenting him because he wasn't a big lettuce eater. Damn you! I thought. You always stick me with the lettuce!

I decided it was time to get rid of some lettuce. Before it started affecting our sex life.

So this morning I took a big bundle of lettuce to a friends house, and told her to have it. Well, actually, I told her I was bringing it, and then just left it on the table. I had intended to divvy it up, but forgot. When I was walking to my car, I remembered the lettuce.

And smiled. A big smile. Because I had just unloaded two heads, leaving me only a head and a half at home! Which we might actually manage to consume in the next week.
My warm, superior feelings should be coming back sometime soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I was getting mightily annoyed with Lucy for a while.
It involved nursing. (Big surprise, right?)
See, I'd latch her on, and often, she'd start playing with my skin. Sometimes on my hand, but more often in my armpit (especially with the advent of summer and tank tops). Either she'd give me little butterfly kisses with her fingers (I'm very ticklish) or rolling my armpit mole between her fingers (annoying) or pinching said mole between her fingers (painful) or grabbing whole fistfuls of skin when her nails needed clipping (excruciating).
Sometimes I'd try holding her hand down, but she'd shrug me off like, Oh, lady, you're so pathetic.
I remembered my friend Sarah talking about using nursing as a way of disciplining, and unlatching the child if they wouldn't "nurse nicely".
So I tried that once and Lucy got apocolyptic. So much so that she refused to latch on again for about five minutes, during which time I had a screaming baby instead of a merely annoying baby. When she did finally latch on again, she went straight for the mole, as if to say, You just think you're going to stop me.
I thought, okay, now what? I knew persistence was probably key, but persisting seemed a little, um, daunting.
So my next time seeing Sarah, I asked her about it.
She confirmed the whole persistence thing and said that if Lucy got that upset the first time, she would probably figure it out even more quickly. And she said to say "nurse nicely" every time I unlatched her because of annoyance.
She said that if we don't nip things in the bud they only get worse in the long haul.
She told me to give it two weeks.
So the next time Lucy did the skin thing, I said "Nurse Nicely" a few times, while holding her hand. It didn't work. So I took a deep breath and unlatched her. I said the nurse nicely mantra again. She got upset. I tried distracting her with the phone, music, etc. No dice. I latched her back on. More skin playing. Unlatch. Mantra. Upset. Distract.
She got distracted and stopped crying.

What's funny is that I realized I was contributing to the problem some by letting Lucy stay latched on (or even re-latching her) when she was finished nursing. I computer a lot when she nurses, so if I were reading, say, Dear Abby, and she finished nursing before I finished the column, I wouldn't want to immediately get up. But that only allowed her to sit and be bored in my lap, leading to skin-obsession.

Here's the good news: things have gotten a lot better. Often I can kind of hold down her hand, say the mantra, and she'll stop reaching for my armpit. When she won't stop, I say the mantra and unlatch and distract.
I feel much much much less annoyed about the whole thing.
It is kind of nice practice for future discipline problems.

Lessons Learned:
1. If you don't deal with discipline problems immediately, you get annoyed and angry much quicker than you'd like to think. You start attributing all kinds of negative characteristics to your ten-month-old, and knowing that they're doing stuff just to annoy and madden you.
2. It isn't fun and pleasant to discipline. It takes some patience, and you have to be willing to inturrupt what you're doing repeatedly until the kid gets it.
3. When the kid is misbehaving, the whole powerlessness feeling is what contributes to the anger. Like, I don't have any control, this child does whatever he/she wants and I have to just go along with it. Ack! Once you take back some control, the anger dissipates. Suddenly you're like, Oh, you're doing that again? We need to take care of that immediately.
4. It helps to have a plan and a mantra. Then it's easier to be consistent without thinking too much. Especially the mantra. It feels good to tell the child what they're expected to do. Maybe it's kind of like singing while the child is screaming because you have to change their diaper because they won't fall asleep with it wet and it's eleven o'clock pm and you want some sleep, and singing is a better idea than screaming with them. Not that that ever happens around here (last night).

So there. Now I've learned all there is to know about discipline! We're good until Lucy is about 21! I'm so relieved!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

can you tell?

That we got much better sleep last night, what with the flurry of posting?
Thank goodness. Whew!

judge not

I've always thought the verse, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," was kind of harsh. Would God not judge us if we didn't judge? And how do you not judge, at least in thoughts? Thought life control has always been my personal failing; being kind of a goody-two shoes, I generally have the outer part of the trash can spit-shined.

Becoming a parent has made me look at this verse in a different way. Because parenting is all about judgment. And not just the good 'deciding what's best for my child' kind.
Parenting decisions open you to the whole wide world of feeling like everyone is judging you. And the even more fun world of judging everyone else. I rail against people who seem judgmental towards me, but I have to admit, I have those how can they do that? moments myself.
It's too easy to do. I mean, each parenting decision is hard-won. It's so personal. And especially with a first child, those decisions seem to have the rule of law (from what I gather, the second child tends to disprove all the laws).
So when people decide differently than you, it's easy to look down your nose. Well, I didn't do that, you think. Or worse: I wouldn't do that.
It would be better, I think, if those judgment statements were only as sort of a learning place, like, hmmm, that's interesting: I don't think I could handle that particular situation, or wouldn't want those outcomes, or whatever. But too often (for me, anyway) those non-judgmental judgments spill into the man, those people are crazy category. Or worse: the They're Bad/Inept parents category.

Which is really obnoxious of me.

I'd like to come up with a more specific example, but I'm afraid of offending someone.

Anyway, I was feeling judged this morning, and my inner child kept crying out: But I'm doing the best I can.
Isn't that the truth. We're all just doing our best, trying to not mess up too badly.

So back to "Judge not, lest ye be judged. " I'm no biblical/greek scholar, but it occurs to me that the actor in the verse isn't specifically God. It doesn't say who will judge me. Why do I assume it is God?
In fact, I think the point of the verse is more this: when I have a judgmental attitude, I am far more likely to be paranoid about other people holding me up to negative scrutiny. Why wouldn't they, when I'm doing it too?
Letting go of critique--spoken or unspoken--might free me to not care as much what people are thinking.
Oh, Lord, bring me to that place.

help part deux

Friday went smashingly. Our friend Cassidy from down the street came over to watch Lucy for a bit; Lucy was winning and happy and perfectly fine for almost the whole time (we ended a bit early, because she was getting upset). Cassidy obviously had great baby skills and I felt completely confident with her overseeing my daughter. I thought, "Why have I waited so long to do this?"
Then yesterday I got Cassidy to come over again. Cassidy was as competent as ever, but Lucy was uninterested in hanging out with her. I went into the other room for a few minutes to lie down for a nap, and heard screams (screams!) after just getting comfortable. I jumped up and went out to the kitchen.
She hadn't fallen or anything. She was just upset. I nursed her until she got happy again, and thought, "Well, maybe she was just hungry."
Went into the other room. The screams started again after only three minutes.
It was sort of sad: I picked up Lucy, and she was happy. But if Cassidy so much as even touched her, Lucy started crying again. Wow.
So I think this hanging out thing is going to be slightly more of a gradual transition than I first imagined.
Ah, well.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Not so much sleep + slightly cranky baby + slightly cranky me + busy weekend = few posts....sorry!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


So a friend's daughter is coming over on Friday for a hopefully soon-to-be regular pattern of hanging out with Lucy while I write or do whatever. Cassidy is out of school for the summer and is great with kids. She's articulate and kind and has three younger siblings, which means she probably knows as much about baby care as I do. And I'm not planning on leaving the house (or even leaving the room) until I know for sure that Lucy isn't having a 'stranger-danger' moment.
Last Friday, we left Lucy for an hour with my parents while we went out for an early five-year-anniversary dinner. We got back and she was super happy, having drunk out of the garden hose (she grabbed it out of my dad's hand). It was nice to have a night out, and even better to come home to a happy baby.
Our worship pastor asked Dyami to think about continuing to play bass 3x a month in worship at the night service. I (used to) sing at the service too. I've been doing the morning the last three months 1x a month, but had decided to step back up to the plate at night, as often as I could (I was hoping for more than 1x a month). Which would be hard if Dyami's playing, since he was my childcare. He wants to leave her in the nursery or with someone in the service. I'm really nervous about it. I'm not sure (neither is Dyami) she's ready for the nursery (she'd be the only non-walking kid, and I don't know they have the people to really pay attention to her) and I am not sure there's someone in the service she'd want to be with the whole time. (All-told, we're up in front for about 30-40 minutes).
I have several friends I really respect that don't leave their kids much or at all. I've decided that I'm okay leaving Lucy as long as she's reasonably happy. But the problem is actually doing it. How do I know she'll be happy until I try? And do I want to risk her unhappiness in a possibly bad experiment?
Part of me really wants to leave her. Frankly, I want the time off. And part of me wants to be like my friends that don't leave their kids--surrendered to Life With Baby. And part of me hates having to explain (t in-laws, our worship leader, Other People) that I haven't really left Lucy yet. And part of me hates having to explain to my Non-Leaving friends that I want to leave Lucy and have been scheming to do it.


This post was prompted by a post by the Lactivist, who just dropped her child off at a local day-care (her daughter loved it). Jennifer is trying to come to terms with not being superwoman. Her post really struck home with me, because I also tend to duck into phone booths looking for my cape.
I've been continuing to read Judith Warner's book, Perfect Madness. She really lambasts so-called "attachment parenting". Fairly unjustly, I think--she seems to think it's the norm (which it's not, believe me) and also thinks that kids more "attached" are also more indulged and allowed to run roughshod over their parents (which is really not true for the moms I know that tend more towards "attachment style" parenting). She has this story of a woman driving her sons around: the mom homeschools and breastfeeds the youngest, who has myriad allergies, and the mom is suffering from renal failure because she fails to take care of herself so much (she's down to ninety pounds from her chicken-and-water diet).
Argh. That was the last thing I need to read. And my brain knows the example is ridiculous and I'm not on my way to kidney failure, but still.

I know the answer is I have to find the right balance for me and Lucy and Dyami, and not just worry about other people's thinking, or other people's philosphies, but really, copying other people is just less tiring and easier.
I don't know what I'm trying to say, really. Just that I wish I were either more content having Lucy 24/7 or more willing to not have her 24/7. Or that we lived in a commune with three other moms and I could not have to think about these problems.
Hmmmm. Anyone up for a commune?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

sleepless brain

So on Saturday we left for Ojai. We were getting ready after kind of a crappy night's sleep. Before I had my tea, I made a big bowl of oatmeal. A really big bowl. With dates. MMMmmmm, dates.
Dyami: "Are you going to eat all of that?" (Note: Dyami's not a big fan of oatmeal--he was just observing)
Me, evaluating bowl.: "Hmmm. No. You want some?"
Dyami: "Okay."
I gave him a bit, turned away, and then it occurred to me. When Dyami has anything with avocado on it, he gives me the avocado. Dyami doesn't like dates, I thought.
Me: "You like the dates?"
Dyami, chewing: "Oh, I don't know."
Me, slightly--well, very much too aggressively--: "Give them to me!"
Dyami: "Sheesh. I haven't even tried any yet."
Me, realizing I sounded more like I was demanding, rather than suggesting. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean--it was the tea! I need my tea!"

Friday, June 15, 2007

notes on...

  • Hack Mommy helpfully pointed me to a blog she reads (Ask Moxie) and from there I jumped to another one I like, (Finslippy). Thanks a lot, Melissa! Now I can waste even more time! And I can't complain about not actually reading blogs!
  • I managed to teach Lucy how to high-five. It's so cool! It's like the best skill ever! And so useful! Oh, and we also taught her how to get down off ledges safetly. (Booooring.) No, actually, I didn't actually think Lucy would ever learn anything (despite all my fancy talk about homeschool). I thought she was more like a cat.
  • Speaking of Ask Moxie, I like that woman. I have been working on an article about my journey away from China and India, and I realized in the process what ridiculously high standards I'd held myself to. And Those Experts had a lot to do with it--being a book reader, I tended to get really wrapped around what They Said. And Moxie debunks a lot of it. Plus her thoughts on sleep made me smack my head and go, oooooooh. Like she says a lot of kids take 2 naps with 2-3-4 hour intervals in between (the naps go where the dashes are). I was like you mean my kid's not the only one? You mean, I might have been able to dispense with the month of trial and error?
  • Today is Dyami's and my five-year anniversary. Yippee!
  • Speaking of sleep, we're going to Ojai and the chicken coop this weekend. We still don't have a really great sleeping solution. We tried a pack and play night before last and it wasn't a rousing success. My dear mother-in-law was trying to brainstorm solutions with me and we came up with one that involves the closet, a couch cushion, and some prayer. I realized I feel really bad that Lucy's not more transferrable. Like it's my fault, because I missed the golden window of transferrability in week X and because I wasn't on top of things it's now a big pain in ze butt to go anywhere but our house, sleep-wise. Everyone keeps suggesting the Pack-n-Play. "Oh, you should use a Pack-N-Play!" Except she wakes up after max a half-hour when we put her in there, unless I crawl in and nurse her inside of the packnplay. I hate the pack-n-frickin-play. Am I the only one with a baby that Does Not Transfer? I mean, if I put her in the sling and go for a walk and she falls asleep, she wakes up as soon as I stop moving. Actually, even if I attempt to bounce with the same cadence I was walking in she still wakes up. So forget taking her out of the sling and putting her someplace else. Sorry, I just had to get that off of my chest.
  • I started reading Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and found myself agreeing iwth Melissa's assessment (Surprise! First time that's happened!) that Idon't really identify with it. She's describing these moms who go to Girl Scout cookie meetings at 8 pm. And their angst about it. I say: well, stop with Girl Scouts. In the book, I just kept wishing the moms would take some Xantax and chill. And develop their own interests. And have confidence that their children would be Okay. However: I was spending all my time holding my baby over the sink in hopes she would pee, so maybe I shouldn't be judging. Hmmmm.
  • Have I mentioned how wonderful my daughter is? What with all my griping, all of you might lose sight of that. I have been thinking about how lucky I feel right now. She sleeps okay (not one of those fabled through the nighters, but she's definitely livable), and she's just happy. She is learning and discovering and laughing. She looks at me with such innocent joy. I have never seen anyone look at me like that, and Dyami has nice eyes. It does one's heart good to walk into a room and see someone's face light up to see you every time, even if you just saw them 15 seconds before that, and 15 seconds before that. It's pretty cool.
That's all for now. If I forgot anything, let me know.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

one step back

A week or so ago I started writing a triumphant post about how our allergy problems seemed to be getting better. I have tentatively eaten wheat and soy fairly regularly in the last month, with only minimal problems. I didn't think we were out of the woods yet, but I was happy to report that I could see the light shimmering through the branches.
I haven't finished the post. Which is good because I'd have to put a huge asterisk after basically every sentence.

Last Sunday, Lucy was playing happily in the kitchen when Dyami noticed she had a red patch on her face.
"Did she scratch herself?" he asked.
I stooped down. It did look remarkably like scratches--sort of like she'd rubbed up against sandpaper.
She didn't seem to be unhappy or in pain at all, so I went back to what I was doing.
A minute later, I looked down. The red patch no longer looked like scratches--the white spaces had filled in with pink.
"She's got something in her mouth," said Dyami, his tone slightly more worried.
I did an exploratory swipe and extracted two miniscule white pieces of something. With mama aplomb, I popped them into my mouth and tasted.
Nuts. Probably almonds.
"Oh, crap," I said.
Now the red patch had extended to the side of her nose.
"Are we going to be taking her to the emergency room?" Dyami asked.
I picked Lucy up and took off her shirt to check for other hives. All clear.
"We should just wait," I said. "It doesn't look that swift, though. If she starts wheezing, we'll worry."
"Maybe now is a good time to go over our emergency plan," he said.
For the next hour or so we watched Lucy, on tenterhooks.
Thank God the patch just faded to nothing. Today I noticed some very faint dark scab-ish lines where the patch was.

So now we know she has some sort of sensitivity or allergy to nuts, probably almonds. An allergy that involves red skin reactions, and occurs only with touch. Perhaps she rubbed the nuts on her face, or scratched her skin after picking up the nuts. Or maybe she swallowed a tiny bit. Who knows?
Oh, Joy! I had been kind of glad not to be dealing with truly scary allergies that potentially involved hospital visits. Argh.

But the final kicker was when I was talking to Hack Mommy about it. Her kids have a wide assortment of allergies and associated reactions ranging from vomiting to hives. It makes life at her house fun and interesting!
"You probably shouldn't eat nuts while you're nursing," she said.
I stopped, looked at her, and cursed.
Because the last thing I wanted was to eliminate more ingredients, especially when almonds form a large part of my diet. Plus, I'm slightly hypoglycemic, so any kind of protein is very important to me. I can't have milk or soy, so we use almond milk. I use almond butter instead of peanut butter, and mix it into smoothies. I use ground almonds, and love pesto made with walnuts. My favorite granola is the "super nutty" variety. Almond butter on bananas was one of my favorite quick snacks.
Today I bought rice milk. I hate rice milk. I even hesitate to get the "multigrain" kind because of the wheat.

So, I've decided:
I never really liked Hack Mommy very much.
I like allergies even less.
If anyone has some second opinions that would prove Melissa horribly wrong and misguided, it would be super-appreciated right now. Because Lord knows, I don't respect her knowledge in other areas.

Friday, June 8, 2007

righteous anger

So Lucy woke up this morning at five.
That was after two other wakeups and a normal bedtime. No particular reason why she should have woken early. (I know, I know, besides the fact that she's a baby).
After 40 minutes of nursing/bathroom breaks where she screamed/random tickling (read: super-annoying) with her flailing arms/her pausing during sucking and gumming my nipple (ouch!) I got up in a very foul mood.

I went into the prone position on the bed and prayed. Because I was in a very foul mood and I was blaming all the wakeups on Dyami.

I know, I know, this makes little sense. But see, he had the audacity to sleep while I was getting up. And not move when I was traipsing back and forth from the bathroom to the bed. And to ask if I needed anything when I got up the last time (to which I said, very severely, No.)

So I prayed, because I knew my anger was tiredness-induced and not necessarily justified (possibly, but not necessarily). Then he made things a little better by rolling over and getting up with us.
So I announced, "I'm in a REALLY BAD MOOD."
He nodded, and took care of Lucy while I went into the kitchen and made some eggs to calm my grumbling tummy. And just my grumbling.

When he came in a few minutes later, I was in a slightly better mood. I told him I had been praying that I wouldn't be quite so pissed off at him for Lucy waking up. Because I realized it maybe wasn't completely rational anger.
He laughed and thanked me for realizing that (this time). "Maybe we should give you the water bottle so you can squirt me every time Lucy wakes up. Then we can all suffer together."

I brightened up considerably and went to fetch the water bottle. He thinks he was kidding. Hahahahaha.

Monday, June 4, 2007

bitter pill

I read The Mask of Motherhood this weekend. Basically, it's an extended meditation on motherhood, with six basic focuses (or is that foci?): pregnancy, labor and delivery, new mommyhood, breastfeeeding, work, and marriage.
It's kind of in the vein of the "Dark Side of Breastfeeding" post I linked to a while ago, except a bit more bitter. The author keeps saying stuff, like "We all feel these things, even though we really do love our kids, and they give us ineffable joy," except she doesn't really go into details about any of the ineffable joys/love. Which is mostly fine, because her argument is that we sentimentalize motherhood past the point of nausea. Except if motherhood really did drive you insane (one of her points) not so many would do it.

Knowing what I know now (that mommyhood, even just with one, is hard) I've been a little surprised, the last few weeks, to look at Lucy and think, "I really like this." Not "I'm managing" or "I can see how this will get more fun later," but "This is fun, NOW".
(Are you surprised/shocked/appalled I was surprised? Perhaps The Mask of Motherhood is for you! You need some good bitter flavor! Like coffee, or beer.)
I was surprised by contentment, because now that I am a mom, I can see that this stage of momdom isn't going to be my favorite. Today, watching other peoples kids, I got to read them a book. And they understood what I was talking about (and not in the way that a comatose patient understands when you talk to them, okay? That doesn't count in terms of making me feel good, which is what I'm looking for, really, when I read to a child).
Sure, I can read to Lucy, but the age where that will be intrinsically rewarding is in the future. Along with all other kids of language-related fun.

Anyway (long digression), I decided not to give the book to a friend of mine that's expecting (happy pregnancy! Read this book, so you can decide you don't want to try parenthood! Hahahahah). The book is finally just too negative. Perhaps I'll give it to her after the initial shock of having a newborn wears off, because I think it's positive not feeling bad about not having the time of your life. I know I spent about two months getting over a comment someone made to me that a 3-to 4-month-old was great to travel with. I thought God, if this is what a great travel companion is, I'm staying home till she's thirty. Turns out her kids were good travelers, but mine was not.

Plus, I didn't really like the author's descriptions of labor and nursing. Sure, labor can be painful, but it isn't always excruciating. And her labor, which sounded positive, but painful, might have been helped if there weren't medical professionals in her face all the time, trying to check her cervix needlessly. (Perhaps "in her face" isn't the right phrase). Ditto with nursing: if your nipples are cracked and bleeding, there's something wrong. Go to a lactation consultant! Don't soldier through!
All this bitterness, is, well, bittersweet. It's good to read many sentiments I have been through in the last nine months. It's good to affirm, once again, that I don't need to feel guilty if sometimes I dream about throwing babies out the window, like the author. But it's also hard to read a book that's so down on motherhood and then look around and think, I enjoy my daughter. I like my life.
The good news: even being hard, I can still do it.

real pretend mommy

So today my friend Martha had an emergency and needed to leave her two kids with me for a few hours, along with my friend Brenda's little girl. So I was a real pretend mommy to four kids today.
I did really good! No injuries, only some hair pulling! And I wasn't even the one pulling hair!

For those of you that didn't know me, pre-kid, I am not actually that naturally great with kids.
To be honest, I don't think most people are naturally great with kids, some of us have more practice than others.
I had no practice (yes, I was a youngest child), and no real interest in practicing (I babysat about five times...hated it).
I've done okay with Lucy--no major injuries, just some hair pulling--but I can see now how having a wee bit of practice might be a good thing. Though my friend Abi was a nanny for a while and she asks me for advice some times, which really makes me feel good. Not that I have advice to give, but it's nice to be asked, you know, so you can shake your head, sadly, and say, "Ah, I wish I knew", when really you do know, and you're just not telling.

Hack Mommy
gave me a discipline book recommendation, called Kid Cooperation, so I tried out some of the techniques today. Q: "Do we throw toys inside?" (A: "No, (but I did it anyway)). They worked pretty well, which was heartening. However, doing real discipline, one realizes how lightening quick most situations that require discipline arise. One can not run to one's library, thumb through the discipline manual, and dispense advice while the two kids fight over a potholder. One must know what one is doing. Or pretend really well.
But I did a real good job pretending!
So you can grow up, Lucy! I'm ready for you!