Archive for July, 2009

TGIF

Today, I am:

Trusting: that I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me! (Yes, this is something of a stretch, but I’m hanging in there.)

Grateful: that I am a stay at home mom in the age of technology and can hang out in a virtual community when I can’t hang out in a real one. Also, that people are happy to hang out with me, period.

Inspired: BabyK just *might* have settled into a new schedule, one with a nap in a crib and everything!! The thought of having a dependable naptime again is filling me with excitement and possibility, and also makes me that much calmer about the fall and our 3 caretaker situation. Not mention keeping the house that much cleaner.

Tonight, we may very well pack ourselves up and take off for that most American of summer pleasures: the county fair! Hoping of course that Mr. K has a decent enough day at work that he will make it home at a reasonable hour and be up for some play time.

Wishing you all the most wonderful of weekends!

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Vigantic

This is NSFW unless you work at Planned Parenthood, where they are probably streaming it 24/7. But is awesome and much more deserving of your eyeballs than that nasty peephole video. Fo shizz. Also, babies dancing to this song are adorable. Just sayin’.

Best line: “It’s cool if she’s powerful, but way better if she’s cute.”

Word.

Once again from Broadsheet at Salon, my providers of all vag-related content. 🙂

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Mystery Writer

I once thought that I had found the opening line of my first novel, and it was this: Every marriage is a secret.

I never wrote that novel (or at least I haven’t yet) but I still think of that line sometimes. And it still rings true to me. The second sentence of my novel was this: Sometimes, they are secrets even to the people who inhabit them.

I met Mr. K when I was 14 years old. Our relationship started some months later when I, daring as only a 15 year old girl can be and apropos of nothing at all, professed my love for him to his shocked and stunned silence. 24 hours later, that love was requited with the revelation that he had fallen swiftly and completely in love with me in a moment shortly after we met. Roughly one month into our romantic relationship, we decided we should get married. And that was – sort of – that.

It is a good marriage. It has sometimes been a wonderful marriage, a bleak marriage, a happy marriage, a sad marriage. It has been bruised, battered and attacked. It has been filled with joy, nourishing and healing. I have tried to do my best by it.

Right now, it is a very mysterious marriage. Having a child has changed it, and us, in myriad ways and I am still feeling blindly for its shapes and contours. What is in it? What comes out of it? What does it need?

And sometimes, how did I get here? Where did this come from?

I feel quite certain that finding my husband at such an early age is the number one cause of my relative sanity now. Without him, I am not at all sure that I could have weathered the storms of my family and remained as mostly whole as I am. But on the other hand, the insanity of his family has broken me down into so many fractured pieces that I am still trying to put together. So that is maybe a wash.

I don’t think there is any room to debate that our largest blessings are also our largest burdens. The rare gift of this love has definitely been both to me. I am not at all certain that I was ready for it. When I think about what I wish for BabyK, I don’t think I would wish love upon him so early. I did the best I could, but there were hearts that were bruised and broken along the way. I have let friendship go too far, let attachments form that could not continue. Truthfully, I did love those boys – and boys they were, then. But it wasn’t enough to compete with the love I already held. What is unconscionable is that I let them love me too. I regret it. I wish I had been strong enough and mature enough to step back, cut ties. At the time I was enjoying them too much to let go. If they think of me, and perhaps from time to time they do, I hope they know that.

I want to say something here that may be a bit countercultural. Or at least unusual. In the most intimate, physical moments of my marriage, I don’t regret at all that there is only the two of us. No memories, no hauntings, no comparisons. I have never had to worry that he is remembering someone else’s techniques or the feel of another skin. I do sometimes wonder how he remembers the body I used to have and what he thinks about the body I have now. But it is a relief and a comfort to know that that space belongs only to the two of us. If love had come later, I feel fairly certain that would not be the case, at least for me. Maybe I would feel differently in that circumstance, but it’s impossible to know that from where I stand now.

Perhaps it is selfish of me, but I can’t regret the knowledge that there were other options, other choices, other lives that could have been lived. When I look back and see that the road I have traveled was in fact forked and curving rather than straight, I feel reassured that I did in fact, have a choice. I have chosen the same man time and time again. I created this life and this marriage and I can continue to shape it and change it.

At the same time I have been shaped and changed by my marriage. I hope that I am only better for it, but there’s no real way to tell. I am myself and also part of something else, something larger than either of the people involved. A few months ago a friend and I were talking about his relationship and what he wanted from love. He said that he wanted a love that overflowed and made everyone around them feel comfortable and loved and accepted. The kind of love that drew people near and held them close. Like you guys, he said. People are attracted to you because of the way you love each other.

I don’t know if that’s really true or if the facet of our life that reflects on him just happens to contain that spark. We certainly like to bicker and I can’t imagine that’s very attractive. But it’s a lovely idea. A lovely ideal. So much more worthy and possible than what we find in books and movies and dreams of overwhelming, life changing passion. I don’t think I believe in that kind of romance any more. I think it’s largely a constructed event, one that gives way to real life and real problems and real love. Is that settling? Maturing? I have no idea, but I’ve built my life on that position and it seems fairly stable, if not so glamorous.

So while it may seem that 14 years of love – six of them married – must have revealed every surprise, it seems to me that my marriage is more of a secret to me than ever. My husband is more unknown. I myself am somewhat undefined and undiscovered. Perhaps this is the crucial choice – to continue to explore, to recognize the unknown and enter it, or to leave it alone and let secrets become distance and distance become apathy. Such a task could certainly take a lifetime if you let it. I think I might.

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Diaper Duty

I think I might be done with cloth diapers.

Today, as I bent over the toilet with a pudding-poo diaper in hand, back spasming, while full on screaming and sobbing was coming from outside the bathroom door, I thought, “I can’t do this.”

When I put that diaper on him this morning, knowing that there would be an unpleasant poo around noon, thanks to this virus that is ruining my life causing us some difficulties, I felt like I was punishing myself. I didn’t want to put that diaper on him. But I felt like I should put that diaper on him, I should be environmentally responsible, I should be fiscally conservative. I knew what would happen and I knew I would hate it and I did it anyway. That’s being an adult, right?

I used to feel very smug about how much of a non-issue cloth diapering was. Yes, it was a little more laundry. Yes, you had to deal with poo removal (which you should be doing in disposables anyway, rather than filling landfills with human waste, but since when does anyone read sanitation laws?). But all in all, it was no big deal, BabyK has almost NEVER had a diaper rash, he was so frigging cute crawling around with his cushioned little bum. Hanging fresh white diapers on the line filled me with homemaker pride and the calm of cleanliness.

But then he started to get really mobile. Like, can not be contained for diaper changes mobile. And something changed laundry-wise or waste-wise because the diapers started to smell more. Probably hard water + detergent build up, but it required more energy and ingenuity and just plain hassle than I could immediately handle. So we switched to bumgenius one size diapers, mostly buying them used from other mamas on diaperswappers.com to cut costs. Cute! Easy to put on a moving baby! Perfect for sitters!

We switched to disposable wipes around this time, because there just wasn’t enough time or hands to spray baby’s bum, wipe it with the wipe and contain him at the same time. A wet pail method of wipes sounded like a huge mess waiting to happen, because if he gets into the disposables (which he does) and pulls them all out like kleenex, at least I can stuff them back in the holder and use them again later. If that happens with a pile of wet cloth wipes, with liquid in the container, I am betting my carpets are going to get a lot worse very quickly.  There isn’t any place safe to put it in the bathroom either, where we do most diapering. Since we have to do diaper changes standing up (or crawling away) the bathroom is the easiest place for that sort of clean up.

Then the little bg microfiber inserts started to smell. Really smell. Stripping would be required smell. Our lovely EC trend fell completely apart as BabyK’s schedule dissolved, so there was a lot more poo in diapers going on.  Also, we were running around more with the warm weather and we have always used disposables for outings. Then we went to Chicago for four days and I bought terrible, earth-killing, horrible chemical filled Target brand diapers. For $6. It was almost heaven. The velcro tabs on the bgs started leaving little welts on his legs, and they started picking up stains on the outside of the diaper – sidewalk chalk, baby food, etc. Since some of them were older and they all have been used before, some of the velcro wasn’t as sticky and BabyK figured out he could take them off. With the rainy and cold summer we’ve been having here, it seems like all I need to do to invite day-long thunderstorms is run the diaper laundry and *think* about hanging it on the line. So additional dryer guilt added to the pile. I tried adding some Calgon water softener to the diaper laundry and gave BabyK a bad rash.

I ordered a case of Nature Babycare diapers, because they really do seem to be the most environmentally friendly disposables and if we are always going to be using disposables for outings, then we should try to be responsible about it. I used my new stash of sposies to buy some time to strip all the bgs, which in the end had to be washed with bleach, twice, to get the smell out. Then I grudgingly started working the bgs back into the rotation. The diaper pails still reek of ammonia, but I guess it’s not as bad as it was before. I haven’t washed them again since I stripped them, but I am guessing that I really need to change my detergents. Of course, the recommended detergents are not readily available at my local stores, thence requiring additional shipping costs for weight in most cases, and some of them are ridiculously expensive on top of that (I am looking at YOU, Allen’s Naturally. Because only people with piles of money really CARE about “THEIR WORLD”. Why does that need to be in quotes anyway?)

But maybe the real problem isn’t the cloth diapers at all. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I just need to suck it up and buy some different detergent and get on with it. It does seem like we are getting back into a routine and that means if I can keep him occupied long enough to sit still, there might be more poop in the potty than in the diapers. But then I am going to school three days a week next month, so it will be up to the mannies and that seems like a lot to ask, both in the potty entertaining and/or poopy diaper sense. I can tell you right now that the thought of coming home from a day at school to a stack of diapers that need spraying out makes my stomach sink.

I feel like I should be using the cloth diapers for all the reasons that I used them over the past year, but I also feel like it gives me some hippy mom cred. So, I feed my baby whatever calories I can put in him – french fries, ice cream, you name it. Certainly not organic homemade purees! I bought him a monkey backpack leash because I can’t carry him through the stores anymore, so there goes my sling mama rep.  I am now that most despised category of parent – the leashers. Never mind that my 28″ tall son actually walks better with the backpack than when I pulling his arm uncomfortably high into the air to hold his hand. One trip through Target with him grabbing all the conveniently placed cleaning chemicals off the shelf and disappearing around the corner was enough to sell me, disapproving stares be damned. But being able to say,”Hey, I cloth diaper! I know the lingo! I am thrifty and love the earth and keep my baby away from harsh chemicals!” made me feel more like I was doing it… right. As if there is a wrong way and a right way to do this, which everyone with something to sell is happy to tell me.

I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Maybe things will settle down and I will get some sleep and some exercise and some peace of mind and all of sudden it won’t be a big deal anymore. Or maybe I need to just go ahead and find a diaper genie to handle the dirty sposies and start composting the rest, using that to make myself feel validated as a parent. What I am going to do right now is get up off my ass and try to accomplish something meaningful before he wakes up in 20 minutes. Wish me luck.

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The life aquatic

I am writing to tell you that yes, dear readers, I am still married.

Still married, even after THOSE words were uttered in my home. To my face. By my spouse.

“I don’t know what you do all day.”

He said, after spending 3 hours with his son. (30 minutes of which his son was awake, the entirety of which was spent in front of the television. Upstairs. No dog, no dog bowl.)

I left his balls intact. In case I need them later – ’cause I’m pragmatic like that.

What do I do all day?

Hell, I don’t know. I just know that it feels like running in the ocean all day. Like, the waist-deep ocean. Sometimes the waves lift you up in weightless joy. Sometimes the sand shifts underneath you. Sometimes it gets unexpectedly shallow and you feel suddenly lighter and freer and warmer… and then other times your foot can’t find the seabed and suddenly the water is much, much higher than you thought.

And sometimes, this metaphor gets really real, because there is 17 pounds* of screeching child attached to your leg. Screeching that I did not hear from my perch on the couch during the time period in question.

I feel like I could make it up onto the beach, if…

  • If I could get a good night’s sleep (not always BabyK’s fault, but his little virus has been kicking my butt this past week)
  • If I knew what time Mr. K would be home at night, and if he would actually be done working when he got here
  • If BabyK would just grow like the other kids by, I don’t know, eating something every now and again instead of just smearing it all over me, throwing it on the floor and feeding it to the dog
  • If I could make it the gym without paying for babysitting/if they would offer babysitting between 2 and 5 pm
  • If I had the good night’s sleep so that I had the energy to go to the gym
  • If I could just get my dining room table cleaned off/the floors mopped/the dishes done, ad infinitum…
  • If he would just take a freaking NAP for the love of GOD

Instead, for the past few days I have been trying to just float. Let the water take me where it will. Hopefully I will feel like I have my feet underneath me again soon. Maybe if I quit trying to swim so hard the current will catch me and take me someplace where the water is calmer.

*Yes, he actually lost weight in the past three weeks. Thanks, acid reflux and herpangina. You guys rock.

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Yay! I win.

You, my friend(s), all four of you, are reading a post from the NEWEST WINNER of the MAKE YOURSELF CRAZY AWARD.

Don’t you feel so prestigious?? I know, you might need a minute to take it all in. It is quite the honor.

How did I come to receive this honor, you might be wondering. (Or not, if you actually read this blog). Well, let me tell you a little story about a book with a shiny, happy crayon colored star on the front. A book that can not measure more than 6 x 6 inches. Maybe 100 pages tops. A book titled “You Know Your Child Is Gifted When…

Oh, dear. I think you can guess how this story goes, right?

I read this book. I shake my head knowingly at the little cartoons. I think about what a complete pain in the ass I must have been as a kid. I start looking at MY kid, and trying to check things off the list. I MAKE MYSELF CRAZY.

Because I’m looking at my twelve month old kid, of course. Who can not ask questions or read books or any of those things.

I am not so worried about his not reading yet, although the past few weeks have shown a marked uptick in our patience with books which makes me soo glad. I love books! It is the talking that is scaring the crap out of me. Either my son has no words, or he maybe has a handful. Mama, Dada, Yay, Doggie, Tickle, Baby, No. That is, if you can count Yay as a word. Which is a big question, since it’s the word that I think is used most correctly. It’s possible (maybe even probable?) that he isn’t using any of these words correctly yet and I am just grasping at his babbles and trying to make sense of them.

I know that he is a boy and he is likely to be slower verbally (and has been so far with the babbling, compared to our six week older female friend). I have talked to his doctors and they seem to think he is on track and even ahead on his physical milestones – he can stop, squat, pick up a toy, stand back up and carry it around the house, turn around and head the other direction without any assistance. The other day he got up underneath the dining room table and completely unscrewed the nut from the bolt. Now, I haven’t been able to find a good age range for taking apart the dining room table, but unscrewing jars happens at 2, or so they say. He is in love with pens and highlighters and starting to scribble with crayons. So he’s doing fine, right?

The real problem, shockingly enough, is that normal isn’t good enough. I don’t really think he’s falling behind as he talks to me all day in his charming foreign language. I am worried that he isn’t going to be gifted. (Although the first paragraph of that link makes my heart soar with hope!) Why is it so damn important, especially given my own previous musings on this topic, which I do still hold to be true?

I have finally hit the place where my expectations are crashing headlong into my reality. In all of my dreaming and planning and hoping for motherhood, there was a little boy (and yes, it was a boy) that I had in mind. And in my mind, that little boy was just like me. He was precocious and gifted and intellectual and we spent so much of our time geeking out together. We would have all the fun and adventures and learning – my God! the learning! – that my busy, struggling family couldn’t manage. I would be the kind of mom who had the time and the resources to construct elaborate castles to scale, or conduct a full vacation’s worth of field research into historical sites or whatever it is that boys like. There is already a reading nook in his room, a place to wile away the hours lost in books and adventures and foreign places. It would be all the best parts of my own childhood with stable, healthy parents and more money.

The problem is, I was having adult conversations by his age and he is having conversations in a language I don’t understand. As of yesterday, it seems like all those dreams are out of reach. I know that’s terribly premature and impossibly early to say, but I think the realization that I even had those dreams is the important part. I had a script in my head of how this was going to go and what he was going to be and here he is just being himself. WTF, mate? I don’t see myself in him at all, outside of the FTT bullshit. He is blond and blue eyed and already has a better tan than I do. For all his sleep preferences, he generally gets the 14 hours a day he needs while I recently (the past few weeks in particular) still struggle with insomnia. He seems to be rather well coordinated and wants to play with balls and trucks and wrestle and yell… and, yeah. So not me.

I even turned on Mr. K yesterday, accusing him of not actually being gifted and tricking me into allowing him to impregnate me. (Because you can be crazy smart and lazy, but being stupid and lazy is NOT okay… which would then make me stupid for falling for it, I guess?) What made me most crazed was that he has no sense of his own childhood other than that he was a ‘bad kid’, which is probably his strongest claim to giftedness. No gifted credentials, per se. No early intervention testing, no IQ score (although I don’t know my exact number either), just some vague reference to ‘test scores’ that he can’t produce. So how am I supposed to know if the baby is following his pattern if I don’t know what his pattern was? Am I just waiting for deviance? You can see the leaps and bounds by which I surpassed my competitors for the MYCA, can you not?

It makes me worry that I am not parenting him appropriately. If he is a normal learner, what do I do then? I generally believe that he needs time and space for his own experiments and that my dictating his free time at home is limiting his learning. See also: dining room table disassembly. We do have adventures and outings and he spends nearly all of his time with people who qualify for MENSA. (In fact, one of our sitters actually belongs to MENSA. He knows who he is.) My formula was something like: genetics + immersion + enrichment activities + classroom advocacy = brilliance!

Now I am doubting that philosophy. I feel like my arrogant, pompous, gifted approach to school is spilling over into my parenting: if you don’t already know it, you must just be too stupid to get it. Studying is cheating. If your brain isn’t leaps and bounds ahead of me, then… um, hey, where’d you go? Worst of all, it brings back all those dark and suffocating memories of being in ‘normal’ classrooms, even with the ‘bright’ students, being B.O.R.E.D. out of my MIND and wishing I were anywhere else. Somewhere with smarter, more interesting, FASTER people. I don’t want to feel that way about my baby. I generally don’t, because he is so damn adorable and charming and lovely all the time. But when someone says ‘average’ or ‘normal’ or whatever to me, that is what comes up, along with a good helping of being singled out, different, teased, ridiculed and bullied by those same normal kids.

I don’t know how to teach someone to read, because I can’t remember learning. I don’t know how to lead someone into things that I was jumping into all by myself. I think, I should be naming everything all the time!! There is not enough naming and talking and singing of songs! I am not asking him those terribly annoying questions like, where is your nose? Baby, where is your nose? Can you point to your nose?

At least not until last night, of course.

I fully realize and take complete responsibility for the fact that this is really all about me and my issues with being gifted. I am trying not to actually pour all of this crap on him (honestly, he is not feeling well so we have mostly been snuggling all day). And I think there is plenty of time before I have to worry about labeling him or classifying him or even teaching him. I do think that we do have a good relationship and that I generally know what he wants and there isn’t a huge need for him to be speaking, and perhaps that’s all to the good.

I’m sure you all realize that the MYCA comes with a nomination for the Show Everyone What An Asshole You Really Are Prize, which I feel confident I’ve earned for this post. This post on a blog that’s supposed to be about authenticity and honesty. So hey, how bout that. I’m a freak and it’s not all that pretty. I had heard stories about deaf parents aborting hearing fetuses and could not for the life of me understand… but I can almost see their point now. (Almost. Not quite.) When you’re different and your spouse is different, even when you try really hard to blend, you don’t really want your kids to underscore that difference and make it that much clearer. You hope you can all be different together, that at least as long as you’re all the same way there is a place where you all belong and understand each other and can just be yourselves.

Even if that self is more than a little crazy.

P.S. – Upon rereading, I should clarify that Mr. K has been clearly identified as gifted by a metropolitan school district and educated accordingly as well as exhibiting gifted behaviors, challenges and test scores… I just don’t have it all on paper. Or even in story.

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Debbie Downer

I am almost criminally tired. Exhausted on a level that I have not seen in months, and perhaps could have only achieved by months upon months of interrupted and insufficient sleep piled on top of travel to a large city, hours of walking and weeks with a nap-less baby. And I know, for a fact, that when I am tired and even coming down with something, I get even more down and broody and negative than usual. I have been trying to keep things in perspective, but this stupid thing totally threw me for a loop:

What does the week you were born say about you? with the result The Week of Depth – Scorpio 2 November 3-11.

You have a measured and serious view on life, but like to have fun as well. You are highly competitive and can be jealous and envious although never showing anyone these emotions. You are financially aware and do not overspend on things you do not need. It is hard for you to open up emotionally and talk about what is bothering you. You are fascinated by different forms of escape and when used in a healthy way love television, movies, music and books, but addiction is also common to drugs, alcohol, sex and violence. You are fierce when it comes to protecting yourself and loved ones. You are a faithful lover, but can be secretive and controlling. You enjoy the pleasures of table and bed. Strengths: Serious – Steadfast – Sexual Weaknesses: Depressive – Worrying – Escapist .

Yeah… haven’t you all noticed my difficulty in opening up emotionally and talking about what is bothering me? Hardy har har. I am also very glad to say that I am not a drug, alcohol, sex or violence addict. I seriously doubt I am either secretive or controlling (which is not the same as being in control, thank you very much) and I am sure that Mr. K has different opinions on my ‘financial awareness’, which I would probably dispute. I read the line ‘You are highly competitive and jealous and envious blah blah blah’ to Mr. K and he said, ‘that sounds very like you.’ Wha?? Competitive yes, envious and jealous, surely not. I’m not saying that I never have those moments but come on, what a miserable way to live. I’m much more likely to change my life and make it better than be all jealous and envious. But does this read like: ‘Hey, you are a total downer! Congratulations!’ to anyone else? Or is it that I just am a total downer, and am therefore reading this stupid quiz to say that?

I am trying to embrace the fact that at this point in my life, there is probably always going to be something a little bit sad in me. I think that is just an outcome of my personality (astrologically influenced or not) and the experiences I have had. I don’t know that I really see that as a negative, but there’s clearly some room for interpretation there since I’m sitting here typing this. Also, I have plenty of friends and they don’t require bribes or coercion to spend time with me, so clearly I can’t be that unpleasant. Also, see “Stupid Facebook Quizzes and their Irrelevancy to Actual Life”.

I’m going to try not to brood on the part where I have been labeled ‘depressive and worrying and escapist’. Perhaps I will focus instead on enjoying the pleasures of table and bed.

P.S. I did Mr. K’s just for fun, and of course it sounds absolutely nothing like him. For instance: “You are not very stable when it comes to romantic relationships and can go from one partner to the next.” Uh… right.

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