23 May, 2011

growing up

kid, you are growing up so fast. i realized the other day that you've been walking on your own for almost a year now. that is just so hard to believe. it seems like yesterday that you were demanding to walk around everywhere while i held onto your hands. it seems like that went on forever. it seems like yesterday when you stood up and held onto the couch all by yourself at your baby blessing celebration.

you were so ready to do things on your own from the beginning. i often wonder if that's what you were so pissed off about. you came out with this frustration that you just couldn't seem to get a hold of. and then when i couldn't get a hold of it either, it just seemed to escalate.

but as time went on, with every new skill you learned, it seemed that a little of the frustration disappeared.

a couple of weeks ago you grabbed my glass full of water and picked it up. i ran over to grab it from you as i imagined it falling and breaking all over your little toes. but before i got there you put it to your mouth, took a nice long drink, and put the glass back on the table. you did it so carefully. without even a dribble coming out of your mouth. i forget sometimes that you are growing up.

we were out the other day at the store. i forget what it was that we even bought, but as i paid i said my usual thank you to the cashier. when we got in the car and you saw whatever it was, you said "thank you" and did the sign at the same time. you kept doing it every time you saw that thing. we got you a fish. and on your own when we were looking at it together the next morning, you looked at me and said, "thank you" all by yourself. it wasn't the words that got me, it aws the look in your eyes. it was like you were thanking me for more than just the fish. it was the coolest thing i ever saw. well, that morning, anyway.

you have been saying thank you for so months now. i am always so amazed by it because i have never told you to say thank you. you just say it because you are soaking everything up that you see. you learn every day all the time without any effort on either of our parts. i never even taught you the sign for thank you. maren does it with jaren and you have seen her do it. you copy everyone around you.

last week you came up to me and said' "off". and when my face asked you "what off?" you pointed to your diaper and said "off. poop." i nearly pooped my own pants with surprise. for months you have been telling me when you pee -- since i leave your diaper off so often at home you are often telling me you have peed on the floor -- but i just figured that was because your diaper was off and it was easy for you to recognize it. but here you are, getting to be a big boy, telling me that you pooped. it's only been a week or so but i can't believe how much easier it is for both of us. i don't have to annoy you by asking you and checking your butt. you just tell me. i can only imagine how good that makes you feel to understand what is happening in our body and to be able to tell me about it. and also i guess to know that it's normal.

these days when you are tired you tell me, "up" and point towards our bed. if you want to nurse you say "milky" and show me where i should sit. you can tell me if you want a snack and point to the exact thing you want. if you fall and get hurt you can show me where it hurts and what did it to you. you make up your own signs for words you can't say. you have always been a communicator, from the moment you were pulled form my belly, but it makes it so much easier and so much more fun now that you can communicate with your words and with clear body language.

it must be so hard to be a baby. even with a mom who responds within seconds to your cries or requests, there have obviously been so many times when i couldn't understand what it was you needed, or now as you are getting older, what you wanted. when you were a tiny baby and you couldn't speak, or walk, or even sit up by yourself, you must have felt so much frustration with your world and even with the people who love you.

it was really hard for you to be a baby. and it was really hard for me when you were a baby. but now you are growing up becoming a big boy. we have figured each other out. and together we're trying to figure out the world. and it won't be long before you are eight. and then nine like your cousins. it happens so fast. it seems like just yesterday that they were running around learning about being "civilized" just like you are now. and now they are big and are sometimes just too cool to hang with your goofy mom. and that will be you someday. someday too soon.

so for now, i am going to spend every minute i can watching with wonder as you are growing up right in front of me.

18 May, 2011

attachment to the way other people do it

i have had a really difficult time with motherhood. not with the actual mothering part, but with accepting that all people are different and have different stories, and that no matter what, if a baby is loved, in the end he will be ok. i have had a hard time letting go of my need for others to parent their babies the way i parent you. because hey, i parent you the way i do because i believe that it's the right way to parent. many people say there is no right way, but i think there is. and i think that if everyone was honest, they think their way is right, too. otherwise, why would they parent that way? and maybe some good-hearted open and accepting people will say that there is a right way for each family. or for each child. or for each mother. yes, that's true, but there are just some big things that i believe are right.

1. i believe that we should all try to breastfeed our babies. that we should all become educated and take responsibility for learning how to do it. we live in a culture and time when breastfeeding is not the norm. many of us have never seen it done. but we need to prepare. to learn. to seek support. because it is best for our babies. and it's good for us. and for the earth. we need to give it our best shot. yes, there are people who have been abused and cannot even imagine putting a baby to their breast. there are people who have traumatic birth experiences and this affects their breastfeeding relationship. there are a whole slew of booby traps that can get in the way. but i believe it is our responsibility to try our best to figure it out. we all do the best we can with the knowledge that we have, i know this. and babies who are not breastfed will be just fine. they will be ok. they will thrive ( at least in this country). as long as a baby loved and fed with love, that baby will grow up and know how to show love. but i still believe that we should try our best. how can anyone feel guilt or make anyone feel guilt for giving it their best? i cannot understand a mother who simply refuses to try. and i guess it's not my job to understand. it's not my job to even accept it. it's her journey and she has her reasons. what business is it of mine?

2. i believe that hospital circumcision is wrong. this is just my belief. and i will do my best to urge people to choose to leave their sons intact. i believe it hurts and that it's a shitty way to introduce baby to the world. the mainstream world does not put the information out there about the risks of circumcision. they don't tell us that it is not necessary. they don't show the videos of the babies having it done to them. i encourage friends to at least wait a week or maybe even six months until bonding and breastfeeding are established until they have it done if they choose to have it done for whatever reason. at least then baby has learned to trust his mom. but when it's done in the hospital it is painful and done within a day of being on the planet. that sucks. i don't believe that anyone should feel guilty for their decision to do it. however, if you do it to your son after knowing 100% how the procedure is done and that it is not necessary, i just can't understand it. it makes my heart and my belly hurt. and again, i guess it's not my job to understand it. it's none of my business i guess, what someone else does to their sons genitals. and i can still love you if you do it. but in the end, i do think this is something that in the future people will look back and be very shocked to know that we as a culture did this to our babies for so long. and i know way too many moms who did have it done, and feel sad about it afterwards, so i will never shut up about why it isn't necessary.

3. i believe it's wrong to have a baby and to leave it in a container all day long. i don't think strollers or swings or cribs or or infant car seats used outside of the car are the devil. these things all serve a purpose and can be super helpful if your baby likes them. i just think it's wrong to stick your baby in a container and to ignore it all the time, no matter what. of course some women suffer from post-partum depression or are single moms or are sick and have no help from family and need to use these things. but i think it's wrong to leave a poor baby strapped into some container and to essentially ignore it for hours on end. babies are born with a need to be held and to bond with the people who love them. so when you can, i think you should hold your baby. not carry it or push it around in some apparatus all the time.

4. i think it is wrong and harmful to let your baby cry alone in order to teach him how to sleep. i can't imagine if i were crying and the person i loved just closed the door, left the room and said, "figure it out". there may come a time when the baby is older that you decide to let your baby cry for a few minutes until he falls asleep. ok, you know your baby and if he is ready. you may get to the point where youjust cannot function anymore, but i really believe there are other options. they just take longer than the three days or so that you would have to endure your baby's screams. 'the no cry sleep solution' is full of ideas. or you can just keep the baby in bed. or you can let dad hold the baby until he falls asleep and let dad put him down. there are so many different things you can try. and if you do let your baby cio in the end because you truly believe in your heart that it's best for your baby and it's what he or she needs, i can even understand that. your baby will still love you in the morning. but i just wish that sleep were not such a hot topic in our culture and that i would not have to hear about the poor little things crying alone.

5. i think it is wrong to hurt your child in any way. i cannot accept someone hitting their child. telling them to shut up. calling them names. i can accept that it happens and that people do it because they are doing their best at this time. but i cannot accept it in my life. so if someone treats their child in this way, i cannot be their friend. especially if they do it in front of my kid. it's not that i am trying to shelter him from the world, but i don't want you to know that i would choose people who do that kind of thing to their kid to be a part of our lives.

most of this post is therapy for me. i have to realize that all of these babies, as long as they are shown love, will be ok. and that i am not right. i am right for me and for you at this time. there is no right. there just is what we do. and what we learn. and how we change. but in the end, can i accept it? i have had a really hard time holding on to friendships in which someone makes choices different from mine. i guess i feel like i am in a constant state of defending my non-conventional choices and that instead of kindly explaining to them my reasons like i do, i really just want to tell them all of the things i just wrote about. maybe after this post i will have even less friends. but it's something i am learning to be ok with.

there are a lot of things i do that are not mainstream. i don't vaccinate. i use cloth diapers. i spend more money on feeding you and us whole and real foods than i can probably afford. i have used a stroller maybe five times with you. i never owned an infant car seat for you. you are intact. you sleep with us in our bed. i plan to nurse you until you are no longer interested in nursing (or until i can distract you enough that you are no longer interested). i take you to a chiropractor and a naturopath when you are sick instead of to the pediatrician. i let your fevers run their course. you don't drink cows milk. i will never take you to the animal circus. i plan to home educate you. but i don't always take the alternative route. i turned your car seat around at 14 months even though i knew i wanted to leave you rear facing for as long as possible. i give you ice cream. i have tons of toys for you to play with -- the plastic light up kind and everything. ok, so i guess i am pretty unconventional since that's all i can thnk of, but i don't think everyone should do all of these things. i don't think people who do them are bad. well, most of the time. but those things i wrote about above i have a really hard time with. if someone does one of those things, unless it's the last one, of course i can be their friend, if they still want me to be. if you do a couple or a few of them, i can still be your friend. if you do all of them, other than abuse your child, i can be your friend. but i still don't understand it. and i can't just let it go. i always think about it. i am not sure why. maybe it's because i think you think i am wrong if you don't do it the way i do -- a throw-back to the way i was always made to feel wrong when i was a kid. maybe it's my controlling personality. maybe it's because i tend to personify babies way too much and i feel like i can see from their eyes. maybe because if a person is making decisions that i would never accept in myself, i just can't understand it. i am trying really hard to understand why this lesson is so hard for me to learn. why am i so attached to the way other people are mothering their babies and children? i know that everyone has a story. everyone has a path. everyone has their lessons. i also believe that all little souls choose their parents, so they know what they are getting into. i am the same way about women and the way they choose to birth their babies. i just want everyone to have their best birth. deep down i can feel it. but i know thta what's best for me is not best for everyone. i don't think everyone whould have their babies at home. but i am so attached to women having their babies vaginally, naturally, without being induced, even though i delivered cooper with an epidural and you via cesarean. what is it? what is going on in my head that keeps me so attached to these things. i need a nice long talk with flossie, my teacher. i need to get back into my yoga practice. i need to sit. to meditate. i need to figure this out. i am losing friends and making people hate me. and i hate to be hated. and i guess i am reaaly lucky to have all this time on my hands to focus on things that don't affect my own life. i am lucky everyone i love and care for is healthy. that i can afford to live in a nice house in a nice place and stay home and have food on the table. someday, i will be too busy to notice or to care what others are doing. i guess i just hope that in the end the world is a better place for you and your kids. and i guess i believe the world will only get better if the babies and kids are shown better. i don't know. i am sure some people will read this and think i am self-righteous. that i have issues. that i am an asshole. i'm not even sure if i should publish this post. but i guess in the end, voicing our thoughts ans differences can be painful, but it can also lead to understanding. so here's hoping to a positive reaction...at least in the long run.

17 May, 2011

sleeping through the night

this is one of the many questions that makes my blood boil. how does he sleep? is he sleeping for you? does he sleep through the night? oh, he's in bed with you. that must be so hard.

no. it isn't hard. it's parenting. is parenting easy? is is supposed to be? i chose to keep you in bed with me from your first night on earth. it was my plan from before you were born. i read enough to know it was safe. i used my common sense and i did what was right for me. and for you. you stayed in my bed at the hospital -- directly across from the sign telling me not to let you sleep in bed with me. you have slept in our bed every night of your life since we came home from the hospital. and we want you there. we did this on purpose. we chose to keep you there with us. it's not hard. it's how we like it. all of us.

and you don't sleep through the night. not nearly. but does anyone? i haven't slept through the night in...i don't know...my entire life. i wake, i roll over. i get up to pee. i pull the covers back from your dad. you do the same sort of things. but you don't know how to get back to sleep yet all the time by yourself. you do it now more often than you ised to. and you sleep longer stretches sometimes. but you don't sleep longer than four hours at a time. and that's rare. but when you wake, i roll over, you latch on and we both go back to sleep. it's really not a big deal most nights. yes, some nights it sucks. but some nights your teeth hurt. some nights i just can't get comfortable. some nights your dad snores. so i'm not gonna blame just you.

my point here is i am still hearing this question. people ask me. they ask my friends who are new moms. new moms ask each other. i wish that we could all just accept that babies do not sleep through the night unless they are left to cry and to believe that no one is coming. and if i have a ninteen month old who is still waking and it's not a problem for me, then it's not a problem. it's not a big freaking deal. yes, it would be a big deal if you were down the hall in a crib and i had to get my tired ass out of bed to nurse you. then it would suck all the time. but it doesn't suck. most of the time. really. you are right there. i roll over. we go back to sleep.

so friends. please don't feel bad for me. don't wonder how i do it. i do it just because it's what i do. and it's what my kid needs.

and please know, i am not saying that everyone should keep their kid in bed with them. i'm just saying who cares if my kid or anyone else's is sleeping through the night? let's all just get over it. let's all just stop caring and stop asking and stop announcing if babies are sleeping through the night!

09 May, 2011

how long are you gonna nurse him?

so the time has finally come. people everywhere want to know when i am going to stop nursing you. so far no strangers have commented to my face. i actually look forward to that day so i can let loose on someone i don't care about. but the question keeps coming. it's coming from curious friends. from family members who just don't seem to get it. still after 19 months. they don't get it.

nursing is so much more than just food. you nurse when you are hungry. yes. and thirsty. yes. but you also nurse when you just need a break. a break from people who love you very much but probably quite often overwhelm you. a break from playing. or just to come touch base with me to say 'hey mom. i'm busy sometimes. but you and i are still tight. no worries.' you nurse when you are tired. or hurt. and yes, maybe sometimes you even nurse when you are bored. hell. i eat all the time when i am bored. but i eat cookies. or chips. at least mommy milk is nutritious.

and yes. it is still nutritious. it is full of all kinds of vitamins and nutrients. stuff you aren't getting from your solids. the few solids you are interested in eating. so i never have to worry about you getting enough protein or carbs or anything. it's all in the milk. my milk changes with you and with your needs. it's pretty damn amazing that way.

so i will just make the answer short and simple for everyone. i will keep nursing my son until he and i are ready to stop. holy shit! does that mean i might be nursing a two year old? yes. for sure. i can promise everyone right now that you will not be done nursing by the time you are two. or a four year old? maybe. likely by then you would want to nurse only a few times a day. maybe just to get to sleep. but maybe not. maybe you will want to -- gasp -- nurse in public. and guess what -- if you want to or need to nurse in public that badly that i cannot convince you to wait, i am sure i will nurse you in public even as a four year old.

and let's clear this one up for those of you who have not read this response anywhere else. "once they are old enough to ask for it..." really? so when your baby is asking for his bottle by saying "baba" you are going to refuse because he is asking for it? or if your kid asks for broccoli your response will be "no honey, you are too old for broccoli because you are old enough to ask for it." this one just aggravates me to no end. only in america do we have to defend our choice to use our boobs for what they are there for.

i was thinking about this tonight while nursing you probably about five times at your cousin's baseball game. i can't remember ever seeing anyone nurse in public. maybe it's because people are so discreet when they do it. maybe it's because i wasn't looking for it. maybe people just don't do it. but regardless, i have nursed you everywhere as you have grown. the most awkward places have been at wrestling tournaments and on a boat with you in your big life vest. i am sure your dad could remember more, but i don't really care too much. i just nurse you because you want to nurse and because it's good for you. and for me. it's good for us.

but i wonder how many people at that game were offended by what we were doing. i never seem to get looks. i have never been approached or made to feel that i shouldn't be nursing you. maybe people are just good at hiding their disgust. or maybe the majority of people really don't care.

either way. ii'm gonna keep nursing you until we are done. because it's good for us. and it's normal. period.