Friday, November 25, 2011

Mama Bean is singing Bruce's song again

Bean is such a dear to put to sleep. He gets in bed, we do a ritual, kisses and good nights, close door, walk away... wait 12 hours, good morning!

The ritual involves saying the child's prayer ("Now I lay me...") which was accomplished with a stuffed giraffe that recited the prayer when you pushed its toe, when Bean was an infant, but the batteries ran out, and the toy designer thought it wise to provide no access point through which to replace them. Smart designer. (It's fear-based design, if I had to bet on it. A child could somehow get into the access point - zipper, velcro, whatever - click open the battery cover, pop out the batteries, which would be oh so chokeable AAs or AAAs, and so, in the interest of avoiding litigation, they chose to create a toy that would die. Well, or/also, depending on how attached your child had become, you'd be compelled to frantically source a new, identical toy, with fresh batteries, and someone would make more money, again. Either reasoning works.) We still call that toy Nowilayme, but he lives in another room of the house. 

Sprout was also given a Nowilayme toy, but somehow the voice on its recording sounds wrong, and it creeps me out to listen to it. So we don't play it for her. Beyond the fact that she has no bedtime ritual. No no, what am I saying? Sprout's bedtime ritual is, y'know, that nurse and then rock and then give a bottle and then rock and then gingerly lay down in a pre-warmed crib with the softest of 400 thread count baby sheets and cuddliest of unicorn fuzz and fairy sparkle blankets and fuss and return soother and collapse in bed and wait for her to cry and fuss and return soother and collapse in bed and wait for her to cry and pray she doesn't wake up her brother and just bring her to bed so we can finally gettosleepalready ritual. I'm sure you're familiar with it.

Like I said, Bean is such a dear to put to sleep.

Okay, so we say our prayers, which Bean doesn't really get, sometimes he closes his eyes, sometimes he holds our hands, but usually he wriggles around and waits for us to be done. Then, we run the checklist of bed toys. First, and of utmost importance, blanket. White, satin on one side, soft minkie on the other, lovely feminine blanket. He eschews the more masculine, blue options. Second, handmade stuffed alien-demon Mup Mup. Third, soft hippo-with-wheels. (These latter two, incidentally, both gifts from the same best friend; hi, K!) Fourth, sometimes, a small stuffed giraffe, named Giraffey, identical to another giraffe with the same uber-original name which belonged to Bean's daddy. Fifth, except it's lost right now, a weird Thomas the Tank Engine turn-y toy thing that Bean can play with for many minutes sans interruption. It sounds like a lot of bed toys, I know. I'm not even sure if he plays with them, or is especially attached to them (other than blanket) but, oh well, they're there. Bean sleeps with a t-shirt blanket I made, a blanket his grandma made, another blanket his daddy slept with as a baby, and a fleece blanket given by his great-aunts. It's a very full bed. 

For a little while, Bean would request a song ("Dinkle dinkle" little star...) then say nono when I started singing. Then he'd request another song ("Baa baa" black sheep... the same melody, mind you) then say nono when I started singing. Then maybe a few other requests in there, but not usually. Then he'd point his arm to the door and say Go. Well then! Haven't I been told? lol

This transitioned; I'd ask if I should go, and he'd say nono Stay, and pat his pillow. Awwww, who can resist such commands? So I'd stay and pretend to nap, which involves clutching a "banket" with eyes squeezed shut and snoring exaggeratedly. He likes when we pretend to snore. We'd go back and forth on Go and Stay commands for a bit, and then I'd gently say it was time to go, and off I went.

This transitioned; for a week or two now, he's been going to bed regular time, but super over-tired and hyper. We weren't sure if we should move to an earlier bedtime, so he wouldn't get over-tired, but to be honest, I wasn't ready to risk the earlier mornings that might ensue. When he went to bed hyper, it'd take him a long time to settle (we can hear on the monitor. Yes we still use a monitor, don't judge :S) and then after a half hour or so, he'd wake up suddenly bawling. So one of us would go back upstairs to calm him down, do the songs, a second bedtime.

I think this may be a normal 2 year old thing. I've started calling it Testing the Tether - this sorting out of the radical notion that he is separate from us, that he is his own person. He's not at the I-can-do-it-myself phase, yet. Just testing it out, how far can I go, how far is too far, how do I get back, how do I get them to come to me, it's an exploration. I think he was testing the bedtime tether - where do I go when I sleep? are they sleeping, too? can I bring them back to me? am I still me when I sleep? or when I wake? Maybe it's scary, to him, to fall asleep sure of his self-ness, and wake up in a dark space disoriented and disconnected, and he pulls on the tether, as it were - where are you come back I need to see that you are still you, and that must mean I am still me. Am I over analyzing this? It's fairly heart-wrenching when he starts up with the crying, especially from a child who previously/otherwise goes to bed without much emotion.

When I'd go up to calm him, I lay down and sing Bruce's song. I had not been singing it very often, because he knew the words to request other songs, and so I followed his requests. But it is a lullaby after all, composed expressly to put the children in my world asleep. And now, he requests it by saying moon, because of the first line, "When moonlight falls..." And he covers his eyes, then holds his hands together for "You'll close your eyes/and say your prayers..." It's pretty much the most adorable thing ever. 

He lets me sing the whole song without saying nono or Go. It calms him down, and then I can leave and know he will sleep. For some reason, at the last line "It's time for your lullaby" he always smiles, a lovely soft smile of anticipation, I wonder what he's thinking of... Tonight, he asked me to Stay and sing Moon during the first sleep-summoning ritual. It was effective *knock on wood* as we did not have the half-hour bawling and repeat ritual. So, we're singing our song, again. Makes me feel warm. Makes me feel, surely, I'm doing at least this thing right.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mama Bean is stuck at the crossroads of OWS and feminism and motherhood and also, the internet has themes

My husband posted this story to his facebook. And now we're going to have two heavy, sort of political posts in a row on here. Weird times, friends. (There's a lot of linkages in this post, sorry. ) (I promise to return to light-hearted anecdotes of my adoring toddler and baby soon.)

There are some who will say this woman should not have knowingly put her pregnant self in such a charged situation. Which sounds, to me, a bit like saying, well she shouldn't have been wearing that dress and walking down that street at that time of night, if she didn't want to get raped. As if anyone wants to be raped. As if this woman wanted to be kicked in the stomach and pepper-sprayed and miscarry. As if anyone wants to encounter violence and assault. As if anyone should expect violence and assault.

Because we have a right to personal safety. And the police are supposed to uphold that right, not counteract it. And we have a right to protest peacefully, and to be met in our protest with non-violence. (At least the St. Louis police got it right.) Again, maybe this sounds terribly naive of me. But I want to believe I still live in a world where this is true.

In the vein of Eve Ensler's brilliant words at HuffPo (seriously, just stop reading this, go read that, and call it a day), I am over it. I'm over blaming the victim. (For example, this guy. I am so over this guy getting nothing but a slap on the wrist.) I'm over the kind of privileged thinking that presumes it can judge the necessity another person feels to protest, because it is privilege (and I am privileged, too, and fully acknowledge it) which allows us to think, "Geez why don't they just shut up? What is there to complain about anyway?" Let them eat cake, indeed. I'm over a culture that continues to "hystericize" women - that continues to tell us we're too emotional, too vulnerable, too precious, to have our opinions and passions and yes, our dirty "hysterical" emotions count for anything. I'm tired of apologizing for being naive and "crazy." (Here's some great thoughts on that whole thing.)

Do you ever find the internet has a theme? Like, all these disjointed posts and facebook links and current events are all speaking to the same thing, for no apparent reason? For me, the theme lately has been the intersection(s) of motherhood and feminism. How do I raise a feminist son and daughter, when so  many societal messages tell us feminism is no longer relevant? How do I respond to those societal messages, when it's women telling other women to stop being so "hysterical" or we "won't get anywhere"? (How can someone, in the same breath, acknowledge there's somewhere else we need to get to, and disdain of using our voices, the only tool we have, for getting there??) How do I deal with what television has done to my favourite Canadian character on TV ever; are we really rehashing this poor beaten dead horse that motherhood and career success are not mutually exclusive? In fact, while I am writing this post, this comes across my facebook wire, and I just...really? The answer to hormones is "Buck up and have some self control?" What about helping young women actually understand menstruation, how about taking the shame out of it, how about taking responsibility for the sexual education of our children instead of leaving it to their schools, how about providing meaningful social support for at risk teen women so they're never in the position of feeling their only choice is throwing a baby away? And I don't just mean literally.

Seriously, the internet has themes. Roseanne's got me feeling all warm and fuzzy about menopause, for pete's sake.

I just bristle at it all. These tensions between the responsibilities I feel toward my intellect and dreams and career, and the responsibilities I have toward my children and my family. And why does that have to be a dualism anyway? Eurgh! Pregnancy and motherhood don't make women suddenly weak. Having small humans who depend on us, who we are driven to protect at all costs, doesn't mean we ourselves become dependent and needy of protection. Motherhood has revealed to me strengths I didn't know I had, or indeed, did not have before. 

The world is dangerous, I get that. The dangers are real, including the dangers of protesting. But I can't reconcile myself to sacrificing my right to speak out or have an opinion or even get a little "hysterical" just for the sake of playing it safe. I don't think that's the call of motherhood. Because if I do that, if I am cowed by the overbearing danger of simple existence into silencing my voice and hermitting my family, all I will succeed in doing is raising dependents who, in addition to fearing the real dangers of life, also fear they have no voice, no tools, no means of fighting back. And I refuse to do that to them.

(My response to PBs post, btw, was "i have no words. and i have no grace. someone must pay for this shit." Because I am having trouble finding grace in these stories coming out of OWS. I can't see where redemption is coming into this Story. It troubles me. Maybe that's why I keep writing about it, because that's how I deal with being Troubled. I was reading some poignantly topical chapters in Brian McLaren's Naked Spirituality, which focused on praying compassion into the lives and world around us. I couldn't quite get where he was leading, but I know it was God whispering out some answers to me, showing me the grace. I will continue looking for the faith to seek and live that grace out.) 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mama Bean can't get UC Davis out of her head

I feel a little late to this story, as it happened days ago, and I saw flickers of it hitting my facebook and twitter, but didn't really take the time to read anything until last night. And then I just cried. I couldn't help it. It made me feel sick. And I couldn't even actually make myself watch the video. This entire visceral reaction was just to reading about it.

I don't talk about politics much on here, because I shy away from the kind of traffic (i.e. trolls) that attracts. But, as a so-called mommy blogger, I think my heart and stomach are reacting to this as a mother, and I want to write about it as a mother. I read the UC Davis details and Nathan Brown's open letter through the lens of my experience, because that is what I have, and that is what we do. 

In my experience as a student: when I went to the University of Cowtown, there was a protest that lasted several weeks on the central lawn of campus, because of proposed tuition increases. About fifty (? my memory fails me...) students camped out in tents, and ate ramen noodles, and told anyone who would listen why we couldn't afford higher tuition. I don't remember if it was effective. I don't even remember how or why it ended - were they forced out? I do remember, for sure, that pepper spray was not involved. At my Chiropractic college in the first few months of my very first semester, our (generally) beloved Chancellor was forced to resign. There was huge student outcry (well, as huge as a small Chiropractic college can get), protests in the streets, angry letters to the powers that were. It was not effective, he is now president of a different Chiropractic college. Pepper spray was not involved. 

I am not (have not yet been?) a camping-out in protest kind of person. But I'm a sign-a-petition kind of person, which I did during the U of C protest. I am a write-angry-letters to politicians and boards of directors type person, which I did as a member of my Chiropractic college's student council. I have an Activist sort of mentality, though I don't express it very loudly. Papa Bean would say I have Causes, in a way that he does not.

In my experience as someone's child: during these events, I'm sure I didn't tell my parents anything about these things happening, or my participation in them, peripheral as it was. I don't really talk to my parents about my Causes, because we have differing opinions, because we have enough things to talk about without introducing new opportunities for conflict, because there have been times when I felt I was not taken seriously, just because. Because that is not something my parents and I do. If it were me getting pepper-sprayed back in my college activism, I'd be more worried that they'd just be mad at me for getting into trouble than anything else. Come to think of it, that's probably what kept my activity peripheral to begin with.

In my experience as a mother: well. I mean... God, if that was my kid? Father God, that was someone's kid, those were all someone's kids. And this is the world they've grown into? I would just lose my mind. Because I am a mother who believes in a student's right to protest, who believes a fundamental property of The University is its place, its foundational identity as A Place for Discourse. Is this naive of me, in this day and age of mixed corporate and government funding and 1% and lobbyists over us all, to still think that this is what universities exist for? That if there's anywhere for a tent city to exist it would be on the campus lawn of a post-secondary facility? Then I am a naive mother, and perhaps my kids will be embarrassed by my naivety, but they will also know that protest is not only a permissible response, sometimes it is the necessary response. I am a mother who wants to know what her kids care about, are moved by, feel passion for. I want them to tell me their Causes, even if we disagree, even if we sharpen our positions in the potential conflict, even if that's hard, just because. I want them to say, "Well, that's just what me and my parents do" and shrug it off. I don't want them to be afraid to step away from the sidelines just because they could get in trouble, if it's the right thing to do. And I want them to know, if it were them being brutalized by a police state that I cannot even fathom is real, except the video is right in front of us, viewed over a million times already, if that were them, that I would stand with them, and fight back with them, and not back down. Because that's my kid. And you don't do that to my kid.

We don't do this to our kids.


Look, maybe I'm just a Canadian with no real bone to pick in this fight. You can write me off like that, if you want. But I can't sit back and let this be our new reality. I can't mother kids into a reality like that. And I hope you can't either.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mama Bean doesn't look good in green

I've recently been dealing with feelings of jealousy. I wouldn't say this is rare - I get consumer envy all the time. But in the context of relationships, it's relatively uncommon, and I don't know how to deal with it. On top of feeling justsohighschool, it's also problematic that jealousy is fundamentally a problem in myself, in my own head and my own heart. And I'm the only one to blame for it (really) and to fix it, I have to change my Thinkings and my Feelings, and I, frankly, suck. at. that.

It took me awhile to really figure out what was going on. At first, I just collected a bunch of situations in my head that made me feel bad, in an unidentifiable way. Bad in my stomach, like losing your appetite. Bad in my chest and shoulders, like a suddenly cold day. Bad like a buzzing, nagging thought, "This hurts. I feel hurt. But why?" From there I embarked on a convoluted emotional extravaganza, fueled by hormones and sleep deprivation, and bless my husband for listening to it all.

First, I wondered if I had done something wrong. Maybe I'd unintentionally done something offensive or inconsiderate or whatever. And there are possibilities, I'm not a perfect friend...

But then again, nothing I'd considered I thought warranted the coldness and distance I was sensing, so then I got a little defensive...

But then again, it's not like people intend to be malicious, I'm sure it's just about busy-ness or busi-ness or any other combination of factors...

But then again, these situations just kept/keep happening, and I haven't changed my behaviour or done anything new that might explain it, so...

Then I'm back on the defensive train, defending my actions against accusations I've only imagined could possibly explain what's going on, and also leveling my accusations, and backing them up with exquisite prosecution. All completely in my head. 

Am I the only person who does this? Like, seriously, it felt like I was running a trial, in my head, and making up the dialogue for all involved parties, in my head. It was exhausting! What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, at some point I just had to acknowledge how truly high school it felt, how it was keeping me up at night the way being nerdy and unaccepted did when I was a teenager, how it was truly exhausting my already exhausted resources, how it was so horribly fueled by hormonal fuckery, all of it

And I guess I'm just jealous.

Which really just feels like square one, in the sense that it doesn't fix anything. I still have the hurt stomach feelings, the situations keep adding up to more, confirmed hurt feelings. I can't escape the sense that a little glitter and sparkle is being progressively scattered, when I like to keep all the glitter and sparkle I can get.

Being an IF (in the MBPI), I have a complicated Mental Handbook for managing myself and my relationships. (I'm thinking the above mental meanderings don't make a convincing case for my Handbook's effectiveness, but, uh, moving on...) I take this stuff way too seriously (obviously) and it almost always blows over without confrontation or consequence. I don't know why I'm blogging it, except that it's sort of eating a hole in me, and I only have so many places to getitoutalready. (And I think Papa Bean is sick of hearing about it.) So, well. Here it is on the not-at-all private internet. Maybe now I'll feel better.

By the way, I actually look fantastic in green :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mama Bean once again did not miss PMS

Is that too much? Should this be a "TMI Tuesday"? Too bad!

Menstruation happens - and I don't care what kind of google hits that gets me. I saw this preview for a documentary about it recently, and I really want to see the whole thing. Menstruation happens! All the time, too much of the time, and I don't want to be ashamed of it. Gah!

You know, I didn't used to get PMS. Not in any noticeable way. You could ask Papa Bean about it, and he might tell you different, but then I'd get annoyed with him, so maybe he'd just tell you the same :) I didn't get cramps, I didn't get terribly moody, or have my appetite or sleep patterns go all wonky. Thank goodness I didn't get hormone related headaches. I did get low back pain, but only slightly moreso than my status quo LBP. Anyway, there were problems enough with menstruation - you know, bleeding, profusely, for several days, covered in a slimy film of shame, because noone should know so it's like your body becomes a Big Secret once a month, but you still have to walk around where everyone can see you.. Yeah. So I was happy - happy, I tell you - not to bother with PMS.

Now, two kids later, I have PMS. Every month. For like, half the month. I hear tell your hormones post-partum don't return to normal for two years, so y'know yippee, I only have to wait through sixteen more cycles to see if this is my new normal or not.

My PMS looks like being pregnant. Which, I guess, shouldn't surprise me, since the second half of our cycle is your body pretending, waiting, hoping it's pregnant, and then dejectedly sloughing hormone and hormone by-products (oh yeah, I just called my endometrial lining a hormone by-product) when it turns out you're not. If pregnancy is the mentrual cycle stalled and then amplified exponentially over forty weeks (which it is), then it should not surprise me when they look the same.

Here's what I mean. I get heartburn. My appetite is a rollercoaster, and my stomach goes wobbly when I've eaten too much. Especially too much sugar or too much fat. All I want to eat is sugar and fat. Why? Because I'm eating my emotions. Which are all over the place. Places like: angry, angry, and pissed off. Good places. I have no energy, beyond mere sleep deprivation, so that I take two B vitamins instead of one, and my pee is extra extra yellow (okay, that might qualify this for a TMI...) If it sounds like I'm bitching, it's because I am. But I know it will soon be over as soon as my hair starts falling out. Oh yeah, I get "post-partum" hair loss once a flipping month.

I'm looking for the silver lining here. I'm trying to remind myself that this is womanhood, that the reason I can write posts about my beautiful children, the reasons I can celebrate motherhood is because of menstrualhood. But motherhood is like All silver lining and bright sunshine and love love love with some Tired and feelings of Ineptitude at the edges. Menstrualhood is, well. not.

And that's all I have to say about that. What say you? Is your period different since having kids? Feel free to comment, this is a Safe Place... :)