Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mama Bean has to get Papa Bean a really good birthday present

At our weekly breastfeeding support group, we have a little discussion period, and one time we were asked, "What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mom?" Most of the answers centred on the way a child necessitates an almost immediate loss of putting your self first. It's not that self-interest goes out the window, that the pull of selfishness isn't there. It's just that it always ends up second to the needs of the baby. Because they are so utterly helpless, and they really do depend on us for absolutely everything.

The needs are greater, in a Maslow's Hierarchy kind of way, at the beginning - those foundational basic and safety needs of food and cleanliness and a warm place to sleep. My nightmares, at that time, focused on catastrophic inabilities to fulfill those needs. "What if we were in a car crash in the middle of a storm, and I couldn't keep him warm enough, and I didn't have enough food or water, and my breastmilk dried up, and he just cried and cried from hunger until he fell into exhaustion, and we all die?" Or, after the Haiti earthquake: "What if that was me? How would I keep him protected from the sun? How would I change his dirty diapers? Where would we get water? Could I keep feeding him?" You know, basic mom fears.

As he gets older, it's assumed you've got those bottom-of-the-pyramid things covered, and increasingly we're responsible for those higher emotional and self-actualization needs. How exactly do I help my nine-month-old self-actualize anyway?

Anyway, that day, I didn't have any deep answer to the question. I'm sure I've learned things about myself since being a mama, most of them something along the lines of "I had no idea I could DO [insert parenthood related activity - change ten diapers of day, clean yellow poop off three outfits in a row, absorb liters of breastmilk and spit-up into my clothes, without batting an eye or "spitting up" myself...]" And I have learned all the right lessons about leaving my selfishness at the door, and taking extra food at dinner because I know some of it's going to go into my mooch of a son's tummy instead of mine. And I have learned all those other nice things about how I didn't know I could love someone so much, etc. I mean, babies! Gawd! They're just so gall-darned ADORABLE!


Here's the immediate thought that popped into my head when I heard the question: since becoming a mom, I have learned how much my husband loves me. Which doesn't really answer the question, since it's not something I learned about my self. But it's something I've learned related to my Self and Immediate Well-being, not to mention my Heart. Or my Soul.

My husband loves me A LOT. More than I ever thought I knew, and I thought I had a pretty good idea. I have learned, more than anything else about my own personal capacity to love and care for another, little tiny human Beanlet, that I absolutely, positively married the perfect man for me. I have learned what partnership means. I have learned, from him how to love Bean more selflessly, how to live life more patiently, and how to feel everything more fully.

In those first Delirious 24 hours, when we were getting up every three hours to boil the water and pump the colostrum, and fill the feeding syringe, and he was holding Bean while I positioned myself in the chair, with the feeding pillow, and arranging the nipple shield, and then holding the syringe and slooooooowly pushing the plunger down, as we coached the tiny beast to suck more, and faster, and harder, and stay awake for crying out loud! and please please just take a little more you're doing so well, 20 mL already (20 mL! How long does it TAKE to drink 20 mL? An eternity? Oh, sure, only an eternity at 2 o'clock in the morning...) and then changing the tiny diaper, and putting all his tiny clothes back on, and we did it all as a team, sharing the load, sharing the immense weight of uncertainty and worry that we somehow Were Not Doing Enough - I tell ya, my eyes were opened. To a whole new Papa Bean. And even though we learned plenty of lessons about what love is during our previous eight years together, it was like a totally different level of the pyramid, y'know?

That's a good man, right there :)

I don't think you have to have a baby to experience this with your spouse. I think I just realize, now, that this is the undercurrent of marriage, this constant growth into stronger, more loving partnership. When you live life together, you don't just keep falling and falling into love. You walk around, side by side, dealing with shit. Dealing with life. And you share it, good bad and in between. There's a lot of in between. And in the process, you see each other in new and deeper ways, and then, then you fall deeper into love.

Listen to this song, and don't worry if it makes you cry. It totally made me cry.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mama Bean has a garden update - with pictures!

Before I was a mother, when I met people who are poorly socialized or behave maladaptively, I would probably think a little less of them, or think I don't want to be around them more than I have to be. Or if I were forced to spend a great deal of time with them, I might save up mocking stories about them to laugh about later. Because I can be cruel and judgmental just like everyone else. Now that I am a mother, I find I just wonder, "How do I parent to avoid this in my children?" What do I have to do to raise up little people that become big people who aren't jerks, and aren't weird? (I mean, in a maladaptive way. Lord knows I'm plenty weird, but I get along in the social world alright, with only tinges of Awkward, occasionally. Occasionally often. Moving on...) And I realize that most of these people have lovely parents who didn't do anything "wrong" and that it's not About Parenting. But I still feel the monumental Responsibility of it all. And at least I'm not spending as much time remembering cruel, mocking anecdotes, right? Motherhood will make me a Better Person before we're through, as God as my witness!

I don't know why that thought just popped up. I'm having a listless, melancholy day. I am tired. I probably should be taking a nap as Bean naps, but then I can't fall asleep at night, no matter how late we go to bed (which lately has been quite late, thus the tiredness in the first place.) So. Anyway, I didn't come on here to be morose. I wanted to share the drama that is life with a garden.

Did I mention it was a rainy spring?

Last year we planted seeds and seedlings on May Long Weekend, like everyone else, and then we had a freeze on June 5th. It was a sad lesson learned. We vowed to be more cautious this year. So we didn't plant May Long. Anyway it rained that weekend. And then it rained two days out of three for the next three weeks. So when it was finally kind of dry enough to sort of plant some things, it was two days before we left for a vacation to Cowtown. So I just shoved those seeds in the ground and hoped for the best. But we only planted half the plot, and not everything we had planned made it into the ground. Anyway, another sad lesson learned, or maybe just a completion of the same lesson. Many seeds can take colder temperatures, even potatoes planted deep - certainly peas, and lettuces/spinach, carrots and beets. I should have planted those as soon as the dirt could be worked. Next year!

Here's what made it into the Big Garden:
Section 1: ruby queen beets, nantes touchon beets (nantes have a blunter tip than imperator type carrots) and red cored danvers carrots (not sure if these are imperator or not)
Section 2: improved long green cucumbers, another type of smaller pickling cucumber whose package was given to Bean to chew on and now I don't know what they were called. Gardening with kids! Yay!
Section 3: stoplight beans! royal burgundy bush beans (red-ish?) improved golden wax bush beans, and tendergreen improved bush beans.
Section 4: sugar snap peas (edible pod) and little marvel peas (shelling)
Section 5: longstanding bloomsdale spinach, early great lakes lettuce, fordhook giant (white stalk) and rhubabrd (red stalk) swiss chard, buttercrunch lettuce, and sweet basil.
Sections 6-12: some cabbage transplants, struggling butternut squash plants, grass and weeds. Oh, and a random green bean plant from last year and sprung up as a volunteer! We'll be planting a vetch-based green manure in this section to control the weeds and restore some nutrients to the soil.

top left: greens (lettuces, etc. crazy chard in the centre), bottom left: stoplight beans, centre: peas, top right: cucumbers, bottom right: great beets needing thinning, patchy carrots.

What didn't make it:
Onions, which were to be interplanted with the carrots and beets - Section 1, the root ~fiesta~
Zucchini or the white marrow (like white zucchini) I picked up on a whim
Tomatoes (save some plants for Russian giants a patient passed on to me, which are planted in our front flower bed)
Thyme or sage (thought they were perennial, but nothing came back)
Kohlrabi, also picked up on a whim

Our basement growlight worked great for the early seedlets. We started soy, but didn't plant it out in time, and it died while we were on vacation. The giant pumpkin, acorn squash, and cantaloupe did survive, and are planted in our Little Garden out back. One acorn squash plant has flowered brilliantly, and I've been pretending to be a little bee, hand pollinating diligently. The giant pumpkin has so far only sent up male flowers, which is very disappointing. It's looking to cross-pollinate with another plant, but unfortunately, only one survived from the basement. So that whole project (which is really Papa Bean's baby) may be a wash this year. Anyway, here are some pictures!

top left: giant pumpkin wants to take over the world! bottom left: female squash blossom (saying that always get Fat-bottomed Girls stuck in my head) centre: pumpkin tendrils, top right: leeetle bebe acorn squashlet, bottom right: more spirally vinedrils of doom

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mama Bean and Papa Bean are winners

Papa Bean has a personal conviction that the words "one" and "won" are pronounced differently. Even though they're homonyms. (Or are they?) Arguments of homophone or homograph notwithstanding, let's agree, for the purposes of this post being funny, that these two words are pronounced the same way. Unless you're Papa Bean. Then, "won" is said as in "won ton" or even, somewhat, the named Juan. Try it in a sentence!

Spain won the 2010 World Cup.
The children won many toys at the carnival.
Mama Bean won the husband lottery.

Feels funny doesn't it? Like your mouth is working overtime for no good reason. Because you could just say "won" like "one" like a normal person.

Pioneer Woman posted a little joke recently that goes like this:
11 was a race horse. 22 was 12. 1111 race. 22112.

Get it?

I didn't get it either.

It means this. One-one was a race horse. Two-two was one, too. One-one won one race. Two-two won one, too!

Cute, right?

Buuuuuuuuut if you're Papa Bean, the joke doesn't make sense! Because "1" and "won" cannot be punned!

:( for PB, n'est-ce pas?

Anyway, this post is really just an extension of our offline life, in which I constantly mock him for being silly about this. Every time he says "won" I pretend I can't understand him. "The children did what at the carnival?" And if he's not really paying attention, he'll actually repeat himself until he figures out I'm just giggling at him. Which just makes my day, because I get to hear him be goofy all over again! And then sometimes I'll make a joke about wanting won ton soup. But he doesn't laugh.

Just like he can't laugh at PW's cute horse joke!

Poor PB. Good thing he's so darn cute!