Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (4)

There are actually things in the ground now! Not in our main garden, oh no, it will be at least a week until that is dry enough and weed-free (weed-lessened?) enough for planting anything. But in the backyard, the little veggie plot has two rows of cabbage seeds and two rows of lettuce. Plus sticks marking where the tomatoes and peppers will go. I've decided to grow those in the yard this year so I can 'nurse' them a little more. I find the heat-loving plants need a little more nursing. Last year the tomatoes grew in our front flower bed (last year was a comedy of weather-related errors I only revisit in my gardening nightmares...) and it was nice to keep a more daily watch over them.
Here is Bean holding our row marking tool. Our very first year at the big garden, we were putzing around trying to plan things out and the 80-some year old veteran gardener across the path from us gave us this simple tool (two sticks + string, so useful!) because clearly we looked as inexperienced as we actually were. I think of this tool as something precious, and I enjoy using it a lot. And evidently, Bean does, too.
Lately, there isn't a box Bean sees that he doesn't feel he belongs inside of. This box is half-full of twigs from some shrub or something, it can't be comfortable to sit in, and yet, sit he does. With the trowel and weeder we had been using to mark our rows in the dirt. Because whatever tool we're holding is the tool he wants. Until we give it to him and pick up something else, and, well, you know the drill lol. He's so cute when he's being 'helpful.'

This week, our hostess Kim is encouraging us to stay purposeful and deliberate about including our little ones in the garden process, because it is (at least partly) for their future that we're bothering to do this at all (when buying produce is so very easy and growing produce is so less easy.)
So this gardening season lets be purposeful and deliberate with the small gardeners in our lives. It won't always be easy, expedient, convenient, or remotely clean. But remember that just like spring, the season we get to spend gardening with them when they are little is all too short.
We call this the gardening bucket. It was a wedding gift from my best friend K and her mom - they filled it with garden tools, including our favourite weeder and garden cutter thingy, plus seeds and work gloves. We've added all manner of miscellaneous garden crap. We use it every day. Four years ago, I would never have predicted we'd be the gardeners we are now. And maybe, without this bag, we wouldn't have... :)
An updated pic of my ferns (dance of glee!) There are five plants now, almost double the three I stole uh, yeah, I can't even come up with an alternative explanation for how I got them. I stole them. From an alley. They're practically a weed here. I refuse to feel guilty }:) If they double in number again, I'll have ten plants next year!
Proud Papa Bean, Bean (making his 'picture' face, I don't know what he has against the camera) holding our weeder, and Sprout tucked into the background.

Lest you think she's always stuck in a car seat, here she is soaking up some rays. Yummy fist!

It's raining here all weekend. I'm telling myself this is not an indication of how the rest of summer will go. I am praying (deeply) this is not an indication of how the rest of summer will go. I'm desperately hoping... you get the idea. In a gesture of eternal optimism, we bought tomato plants today. I have set aside room for six: Juliet, Sweet Gold, Ultra Sweet, two plants of Sweet 100s (I'm sensing a theme...), and Tiny Tims. We're also growing Baron sweet red peppers. I was surprised to find 'hothouse' fruits like these grow so well in our province, because it takes heroic efforts to make tomatoes work in Cowtown, where I grew up. Apparently, the trick is that our nights stay warmer *shrug* I'm just happy to grow 'em!
See? Happy Mama!
Come visit the rest of the festivities at Kim's place!
Also, I didn't get last week's post up in time, you can read it here if you'd like...
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Mama Bean and Bean have a new playground

We live across the river from a large city park, with an outdoor stage and a zoo and lots of grass and trees. It's a 10 or 15 minute walk from our house. This will be our second summer with membership to the zoo. I like to think of it as our very own park. I call the pedestrian bridge we use to cross the river Bean's Bridge.

The city and province have dedicated a significant amount of money to revamping much of the park and zoo. Part of the rejuvenation has been the construction of a giant new playground. It opened last Friday; we went Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We'll probably go tomorrow. I've taken to calling it Bean's Playground.

The playground is dominated by a large hill with twisty slides and pseudo-wall-climbing handholds. There's a beachy area with water features (mess factor extremely high!) There are two alcoves with percussion playthings. There are flowers and topiary and willow-tunnels everywhere. The designers pretty much thought of everything. There are so many distinct play areas, lots of variety for different age groups, plenty of opportunity to challenge motor skills and get adventurous but somehow it all feels safe, and so much room for families and community to grow.
Bean playing on the eggs in the robin's nest.
I wear Sprout in the sling when she gets tired of being in the stroller.
These disc swings are a great improvement on the old-fashioned tire ones I grew up with (and was terrified of, I don't know why.) Here, Papa Bean and Bean try a little role reversal.
Topiary beasts afoot!
There's a reason we call him monkey. He climbs everything and is virtually without fear. Though he doesn't like slides yet, just likes to climb the stairs, and then stamp nervously making anxious noises at the top until someone rescues him. Silly boy!

We're totally smitten with the place, I feel like we'll be living there this summer. It's nice to play awhile, have a snack, wandered over to the zoo for a bit, then go home for naps. Here's hoping for lots of sunshine this summer! (And a comparably small mosquito swarm, aie.)
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (3)

I am very late to post my kinderGARDEN update for this week! We've been spending lots of time outdoors - the Bean pretty much demands it! However, it has been rainy over the long weekend, so we didn't really do any planting yet :( Hopefully in the next two weeks our large garden plot will be ready to plant and I'll have some really exciting things to update...
We had 3 yards of 4-way topsoil mix delivered, to make the new bed under our spruce tree, and fill in the veggie bed and flowers beds in our backyard.
Bean did his best to help us out :) It's fun to watch each week as he gets more adept with tools and getting in the way. He's just such a little sponge, watches everything we do, and then wants to do it himself. But he's also becoming more independent, moving off to explore the yard by himself while we putter at the weeding or somesuch. He likes to watch the birds and the leaves and I like to watch the world through his eyes, pretending what I'd feel if I was seeing these things for the first time. It's a good way to learn something new about things that feel old and familiar.
We moved our compost bins from behind the house to the end of the backyard. Although they don't smell terrible, they do attract flies and mice and even a nesting rabbit last year. It will be a pain taking the kitchen bucket all the way to the end of the yard in the middle of winter, but so be it. This is the more or less finished compost PB discovered in the bottom of one bin - it looks awesome! We'll throw that onto the veggie plot in the fall, to replenish the soil :)
Many other kinderGARDENers have plans for various vegetation tunnels and mazes, they will look amazing by the end of the season. Bean is enjoying the willow tunnels at a new Nature Playground near our house. It just opened this past weekend, and we've gone three days in a row. I can't wait for the willows to grow up and around and over the tunnels completely. I wonder if they will tie the branches to the frames to keep them in the tunnel shape?
While walking home from the playground we found four eggs under a large tree. No obvious nest could be seen, just a number of woodpecker nest holes, but these eggs seem a little large for woodpeckers (?) Not that I'm some bird expert. Three of the eggs were hatched (or eaten?) but one of the eggs was whole. As far as wild bird eggs go, I've only ever seen robin's eggs and little speckled sparrow eggs, so it was neat to see some so large. I know this isn't a strictly gardening type thing to share here, but it's a nature type thing, and that's part of kinderGARDENing, right - to help them appreciate all parts of the natural world and our (small, but destructive) part in that world. So that through appreciation, we can strive to have less destructive impact. Not that Bean really cared, he can't even say 'egg' yet lol. But I thought it was cool!
And here's a gratuitous picture of Sprout being cute, all snuggled down while the rest of us are busy working :) Don't forget to check out the other kinderGARDENs at Kim's place!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mama Bean is guest-blogging for the first time!

"It's just like the adoption folks are always saying, "Family isn't always blood." So, okay, maybe I have a church 'family' or a profession-related 'family' or a hobby-related 'family'. Each of these groups represents its own culture, that I have learned about and internalized as something important to me. Each group has a history and a value-set that is bundled up in a 'family' code - this is the essential information. This is the group's heritage. Know this, act accordingly, and you belong."
Amanda graciously asked me to guest post in honour of May being Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Come on over and check it out!

(If you read this on my RSS, you might have seen a sneak peak of an unfinished draft of the post. Sorry! Come read the real deal.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mama Bean never wants to smell milk vomit again. Chances that'll happen? ZERO.

In the early morning, I wake up and feed the Sprout. Breakfast I. Then she goes back to sleep, sometimes in her crib, sometimes with us in bed. We sleep. Later, at a more Godly hour, Bean wakes up, and we pretend we don't hear him. Eventually, I pout, "Don' wanna" enough times that PB gets up just to get away from me. Then I groan out of bed to get ready, then feed Sprout Breakfast II.

It's always ominous when PB comes downstairs without Bean, and says, "You need to go upstairs."

Extra ominous when he then goes into the bathroom to put on rubber gloves.

I was pretty sure I was going up to an open diaper and poop smears. But I knew it was vomit has soon as I hit the wall of smell just inside the door. It was all the gloriousness of typical vomit (sour) plus the True Aromatic Beauty that is Milk Vomit.

God was having a bad day when he created Milk Vomit.

It smells like the unholiest of rancid cheeses mixed with vinegar that has then been left to rot further in a black car with black leather seats on a hot day, with a wet dog in the back.

I might almost have preferred poop (no, not really.)

We don't know when he puked; it was early enough that it still contained bits of incompletely-digested dinner, early enough to get spread into blankets and pj's and hair (ugh), but late enough that it didn't completely dry.

How do you get the smell of vomit out of hair?????

PB shampooed and showered him immediately, we played outside almost all day, and he was bathed and shampooed at bedtime as usual, and his head still reeked!

Anyway, the good news it doesn't seem he was sick with anything. No fever, totally normal mood, no further upchucking. So. Thus concludes another parenting milestone: cleaning up your kid's vomit without vomiting yourself.

But seriously... how do I get his hair to stop smelling...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (2)

I once participated in a survey that asked me to describe how I'd feel if I were in a position where I could not feed my family. When I tried to imagine this, the number one feeling I identified was shame. This was not something I wanted to imagine. It hurts my heart to think that could ever happen, and yet it does happen, of course, to far too many children and Canadian families every day.

Kim has invited all the kinderGARDENers to purposely grow some extra vegetables to donate this year. She's going to keep a tally. I think this is a fantastic idea. In fact, part of the reason PB and I decided to plant half our community plot in potatoes was to give the bulk of those taters to our local food bank. We'll also likely have extra zucchini (don't we all?) and beans and peas and carrots. We don't have much (any) cold storage in our house, so we must immed-o-eat, can, or freeze everything we grow. Or give it away :) We're also planning to put up a little sign that says part of our garden is grown for the food bank, to hopefully encourage some of the other members in the garden to do the same. (Although, there is a rule in the Community Garden rulebook that says we can't post signs, but I'm sure there won't be any objection to this.)

*****

PB's parents visited us on their way to and from a road trip to the States to see Bob Seger in concert. Whenever they visit, we have The UberProductivity, getting things done around the house and yard. It's basically the most awesome thing ever, The UberProductivity. I wish I could bottle the way PB is suddenly inspired to actually do the things he thinks about doing, so I could secretly put it in his water. (Not to give the impression that PB doesn't do anything, because he is, after all, a SAHD, and hence does A LOT. It is only the bigger projects that are frequently put on the backburner. We both do it. Somehow, the Internet always seems like a better way to pass the time lol.) Much of the benefit of having parents around is simply the extra hands, to hold a Sprout or wrangle a Bean.
Witness said Bean-wrangling, which is especially important around power tools. The men are building a box to house our lawnmower, so it doesn't have to take up a bunch of room in the garage, but also isn't subject to the weather. It's a mighty nice box. Recycled the wood from the way-too-expensive box we had built for our piano when we moved here. Said wood was also used to build a house for our air conditioner to wear during the winter.
Here he is helping Grandma pull grass out of a flower bed along the back of our house. The previous owners had built a lovely box around this bed, which we deconstructed, to pilfer the dirt from the bed into our veggie garden box. At the time, we really wanted the veggie box but couldn't afford a delivery of soil. I thought we would either gravel or grass over this bed, but instead we put our compost bins down and planted stuff. Weird. Without the box, the grass encroached. So PB took the old walls apart, and used the pieces to build several box-like structures, including essentially reconstructing the box that was originally here. Did you follow that? The compost bins are being moved further from the house (they attracted mice near the house/garage, and a bunny nested beside them last year) and we're putting down a small patio for our BBQ. The bed contains rhubarb, lambs' ear, irises, a random sage-like plant that I think may be a weed, a clematis that might be dead this year, and some columbine and pansies. And grass that I now need to extricate. Those plastic veggie spinnies are going in our big garden plot - aren't they cute?
As predicted in last week's kG post, Sprout was kept trundled up and napping in the nice sun and breeze. No bugs yet! During the power tool time, she was moved to a less noisy location :) Incidentally, we are getting a load of dirt this year, to fill the veggie box, the bed along the house, and a new box under our spruce up front, where I will plant snow-on-the-mountain, ferns, maybe some pansies, maybe some phlox. (Don't worry, she didn't stay there all afternoon, she didn't overheat, she didn't have too much sun exposure, she wasn't cold, etc. etc.)

This is a coleus variety called Dog-Be-Gone (coleus canina) that smells like skunk, presumably from the sticky-oily stuff that gets on your fingers when you touch the leaves. Humans don't really smell it unless the plant is disturbed (e.g. when watering, in windy conditions) but apparently it keeps animals (#$%@# RABBITS) out of garden beds. I would need a lot of plants to keep them out of my yard completely, but it roots where it touches the ground, so I can put transplants in the two beds I'm really concerned about protecting. If it works even a little bit (i.e. I can grow carrots) it will be worth the $4.
Ferns don't grow very well in Cowtown, but they grow like weeds in the Prairie Valley City, because it's much wetter here. We not-very-surreptitiously stole these ferns from a back alley and transplanted them last year. They did not thrive as far as I could tell - I thought maybe the soil wasn't good quality, or I didn't water properly, who knows? The leaves withered. But here are the fiddleheads pushing bravely up again! I did a little dance :)

The community plot has not yet conducted the survey marking out the plots, so we haven't planted anything. It will be weeks, because we have some initial weed control to do, then we'll get it tilled, and finally planted. Our growing season seems ridiculously short compared to all the American bloggers I follow, some of whom are already harvesting things (!) but rest assured, we will get food! :) Happy kinderGARDENing for another week! Check out Kim's blog if you want to join the fun (it's never too late!!)
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mama Bean likes the space between

I appreciate the way my job gives me access to a wide range of people (age/income/etc.) so I can conduct informal surveys about stuff. It’s really helpful for parenting - I get to hear an array of experiences and explanations for different parenting choices and it’s totally fascinating and informative. When I tell older patients (i.e. from my parents’ generation and older) that my kids are 17 months apart, they are almost universally encouraging. “That’s how far apart my kids are.” “It’s great to have them close together.” And so on. When I tell younger patients (my age, with one or more children), they are almost universally incredulous. “Wow, you’re brave.”Or simply, “You’re crazy.” Uh... thanks?

We decided to have kids close together essentially to get the Baby Stuff over with. We have always planned to have two children (and by ‘we’ I mean me. I spent most of my life thinking I didn’t want any children, but with Papa Bean, I discovered a love big enough to contemplate two children and only two children. And, happily, he was good with that.) When I had each of my babies, I took about two months off, leaving my clinic to a locum who provided treatment for my patients. I don’t make money with this arrangement, but I don’t lose money. This latest leave, I have to say my business has suffered, so while it pains me to be away from my littles, I am relieved to be back in control of my practice. It’s still a really good deal, since I only work part-time. When I go back, PB takes parental leave, which is essentially EI – he brings home about half his normal pay. Obviously, this affects income, both in the short-term budgetary type changes, and in the long-term access-to-credit kind of way. The bottom line on our tax returns impacts our ability to apply for a car loan or a mortgage or whatever, and this affects our long-range forecast. When can we move into a different house? How will PBs pastoral education fit in? Can we afford this new car or those new renovations?

Then there are the Baby Logistics – diapers, breastfeeding, stroller schlepping, nap schedules, sleep deprivation, baby-proofing – the stuff of living with infants. I wanted to just do all that stuff, and do it intensely for a short time, and then be done with it, and on with the logistics of older children (school, extra-curriculars, ensuring they aren’t jerks, etc.) Ultimately, standing in the midst of that logistical intensity right now, I am totally convinced this was the best decision for our family. It works for us. Which is not to say, standing in the midst of it, that this is not without challenges. Bean does not yet Have Words, as they say; a day with two preverbal small humans makes you lose your own words by the end of it, sometimes! And yes, we have Two In Diapers, as they say; actually, I haven’t found this to be a hardship, but ask me again when Sprout starts using cloth (we’re sticking to disposables until she gains a bit more weight/size.) I did not count on the vastly increased energetic needs of an 18-month-old boy; he is a human-puppy hybrid who must be walked multiple times a day, or all that energy explodes through his feet, hands, and mouth (mostly the mouth) and we don’t have good naps, and nobody. is. happy.

But I’m pretty sure there are unique challenges to whatever spacing your children end up having. And there’s the inherent uniqueness of no two children and no two families being the same. Not to mention the extra complexities of adding more children into the mix - that just happens to not be part of our agenda. (Any Catholic readers out there? Is this whole discussion of spacing sort of moot?) Basically I'm writing this only as an encouragement to anyone thinking of/facing children with relatively close spacing that it is doable, and if your reasons are similar to ours, you’ll be happy with the decision. That being said, I would never ever presume that this is the right choice for everyone, so please don’t take this as an indictment against whatever family planning you’ve planned, m’kay? Because I have heard stories, from my totally scientific analysis of patient anecdotes, of all sorts of family spacings, and it seems like everyone, like, survives. And even ends up pretty happy. Eventually *grin*

So tell me: what’s the spacing like with your kids? Is that similar to the spacing between you and your siblings? Do you find perspectives differ between your parents and your peers on this issue?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (1)

I’m gonna try and keep up with a blog carnival over here called KinderGARDENS. This is a little introductory post – it looks like fun, come join us over at Kim’s blog!

Tell us about your family. What are your plans for this year? Well, our gardening adventures this year will include our one-year-old son, Bean, and our teeny-tiny daughter, Sprout. We will be adventuring at our community garden plot, which is 10x20 yards, and at home in our yard, which has a 4x12 foot veggie plot and several flower beds. Sprout will probably just be carted around in various carriers and strollers, guarded from too much sun, but otherwise left to the whims of fresh air and passing bugs. Bean has already proven to be a fun age to have in the garden. And by fun, I mean destructive, wild, and very very messy. Whatever tool we’re using, he wants to try it (and run away with it.) He has no regard for things like staying out of the beds, staying out of the dirt, staying out of... everywhere but the grass. And he likes to pick up handfuls of dirt and throw them around – which is preferable to when he picks up rabbit droppings and crushes them between his fingers. He hasn’t started pulling up plants yet (unwanted or otherwise) but it’ll happen eventually. And I don’t know what to do about that. Ideas?

Are you a first time gardener who needs help and encouragement or are you a veteran gardener that can help others here? We are neither n00bs nor L33ts at gardening – but clearly, we are nerds! Outside in the sunshine may not be the natural habitat of nerds (trust me, our internet basement haven is still perfectly functional) but Papa Bean decided we should grow more of our food, for economical reasons. Which, now that I think of it, may be a suitably nerdy reason to get outside after all :) This will be our third year growing veggies.

Are you going to expand on last year’s ideas or are you going a whole different route? Mmm, I dunno... we’re tweaking. At the large garden, we’re planting half the area with potatoes, about three varieties. This will be more than a hundred plants, way more taters than we need, so lots will be donated to the food bank. We’re doing this to a) let the tubers break up the heavy, clay soil with the Power of Plants, b) gain some measure of weed control (we’re hoping the plants crowd out some weeds, the leaves self mulch a bit, and maybe coordinate some digging efforts vis a vis quack grass control) and c) be lazy. Potatoes don’t take much work, comparatively. They just grow and grow all summer, you hill the dirt around them occasionally, you pick some baby ‘tots in late summer for tasty tasty eats, and then there’s the motherlode harvest in the fall. Yay potatoes! (Boo potato beetles! Not sure what our strategy for them will be this year...)

We have succumbed in the past couple years to trying to grow too many varieties, because all the seed packets look so fun, and everything seems like something we might plausibly eat, and we have so much room to fill, and we’re just plain silly. I’m hoping to keep it simple this year, to things we know we’ll eat in abundance, and things that require little maintenance, because our kinders are just not at an age conducive to complicated gardening. We’re anticipating that only one adult will ever be really available to do actual gardening work, while the other wrangles the beast Bean. We’ll be growing squash (pumpkin, acorn or butternut, yellow and green zucchini) because we like to eat it in soups, and they take up lots of room. If it’s not too rainy/is nice and sunny, we’ll grow a few rows of corn, to act as a windbreak across the north end of the plot (the field is subject to high winds.) We’ll have peas and beans, two types of cucumber, two types of onions, and carrots. I want to keep the backyard plot for easy-pickings, i.e. greens. Lettuce and chard, maybe some more peas. We have a rabbit that has lived in our yard since we moved in – it decimated our mugho pine over the winter, so the gloves are coming off! We don’t want to kill/trap it, we can’t get a dog, so we’re gonna try sprinkling hair around the garden as a repellent. I’ve also been tipped off to a type of smelly coleus that keeps animals away. Any other advice is appreciated!

Our kids are kind of little to be too involved in the planning of actual work of gardening, so I suspect I’ll mostly be reporting what we-the-adults are doing, with cute pictures of little people surrounded by leaves. Or pictures of vegetables compared to how big Sprout is lol. This spring has brought record flooding to our area, though it doesn’t really affect us here in the city. I know the ground is very wet. We haven’t had too much rain yet, but we’ll see what the rest of May brings us. Last year was just dismally rainy, so I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed for a sunnier year. Happy Kindergardening, everybody!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mama Bean is no longer Delirious - let the Rejoicing begin!

Sprout is two months old today, and I am happy to report, I think we can officially say the Delirious Early Days are over. Phew.

I say The First Six Weeks Are The Hardest, like a mantra, to myself and others, so often, it becomes (more than) a little cliché. And when you are in those six weeks, it is beyond cliché, well into trite, and mostly just not believable. Some days (nights... usually the nights...) it feels like everything is the hardest forever and ever and nothing will ever be easy again and how could you ever have thought that anything was easy about anything ohmygoshwhenwillthisend.

Some days.

And then it’s week seven, and you finish feeding one kid, and then you feed the other, and you smile at your husband over your breakfast cuppa, and the smile feels Real. And a little angel chorus sounds somewhere quietly behind your head (is that a glow?) Or maybe that’s just the oxytocin and sleep deprivation singing... cuz the sleep deprivation don’t stop. Y’all know that.

Here’s the Good: for the most part, in a very loose and general way, the Delirious Early Days were easier this time. I wasn’t healing from stitches, and Sprout is easy to breastfeed – these things are Revolutionary. Also, we didn’t have the crash course in Baby Logistics – babies are blessedly all pretty much the same, you feed/clothe/change/clean them in pretty much the same way. So, we weren’t floundering around feeling baffled by the complex technology of diapering. Go us. And then, of course it helped that I was expecting the Crazy, so it didn’t sneak up on me. I knew the hormone crash out would come. I knew it would be like PMS times a bajizzillion for ever-too-long. (Although, I did kind of fool myself for a few days into thinking it wasn’t going to happen. But the birth endorphins and adrenaline did eventually run out, and it all came crashing down. What a lovely layer to add to the Delirium – realizing you were only lying to yourself) So. In hindsight, yes, it was easier the second time, but I’m not gonna test it and see if it gets ever easier with a third...

Here’s the Bad: I found this time the hormonal crash-out manifested quite differently. With Bean, I primarily became weepy and hopeless feeling. Very sadsack, in my sticky clothes and weak body, feeling pathetically incompetent at motherhood. This time, there was all of that and also anger. A lot of anger. I mean, this should not surprise me, because it really is just PMS on overdrive. In a non-reproductive cycle, the hormones that sustain the build-up of the uterine lining stop being produced, which tells your body to menstruate. In pregnancy, you make bucketloads more of those hormones, to sustain the pregnancy/placenta, and when the baby leaves, the buckets of hormones leave. And you bleed, on overdrive; and you get irrationally emotional, on overdrive. So, I was really peevy and tetchy and angry. Here is where you feel bad for Papa Bean, because he bore the brunt of this.

I imagine the Delirium preys upon each mother’s particular insecurity. For example, if you have a lot of insecurity about your looks, your DEDs might contain a lot of anxiety re: the havoc wreaked upon your body by growing and expelling a human. For me, my insecurities centre on feeling Good Enough, creating much anxiety about not being Good Enough, and in fact being distinctly insufficient. This time, I also found the feelings of incompetence were magnified by having two children; I felt like I was failing both of them. Even though the Baby Logistics are the same, Sprout is still a different baby than Bean (duh.) She cries differently, she burps differently, she sleeps differently. And everything she did not quite the same as Bean made me feel like I knew nothing about raising a baby¸ and that made me sad and scared and pitiful.

At the same time, we are taking a crash course in Toddler Logistics –new feeding/clothing/toileting/cleaning/communicating/disciplining/etc. needs that are a mystery to discover with each new day. And I didn’t get to put that on pause just because I’m trying to figure out a new little beastlet. This led to many moments of feeling pulled, physically and emotionally, between opposing demands that could not be simultaneously satisfied. And toddlers aren’t good at the concept of Waiting. Leaving me feeling like his needs were too frequently sacrificed for hers, but I felt like Newborn trumped Firstborn, or something, I don’t know. I just felt like I was failing them. (I still feel this, but not in the intensely overwrought way that Delirium produces.)

Here’s the Ugly: I became convinced that people wanted to see me fail. I was sure that everyone else felt I was as incompetent as I felt myself to be, and that any sign of weakness or challenge or overwhelmedness would confirm this to them. And they would gloat. And be happy in my failure. And I was bound and determined not to give them the satisfaction. Contributing to the anger mentioned above. But also leading to me thinking they might be right. And then contributing to me imposing upon myself a great deal of isolation. Which was not helpful. Leading to Papa Bean suggesting I seek treatment for PPD. Which was not all that off base. And I am grateful to him for the suggestion. But I think we're out of the proverbial woods now.

Yes, I believe the Ugly has passed (phew) along with the Bad (yay) and the Good was, well, Good as Delirious Early Days can be, so I hereby declare me Free From Delirium, forever and ever. Amen. Thank-you all, especially Papa Bean, for surviving it with me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mama Bean loves being married to Papa Bean

Four years ago today, Papa Bean and I promised to face life together forever. I was laughing with him last night that I'd thought we would wait about three years before having children, and here we are with two after only four years. So much for that plan! Though, in the bigger picture, we've been together for ten years, and to me, married in spirit for about nine of those. So, I'm not worried about our "rush" to have babies, lol.

A few months ago, I mused aloud that I have turned out to be a much more submissive wife than I expected to be. Papa Bean agreed. I know submission and obedience are sort of bad words in this day and age, or at least I used to feel that way, and yet here I am. I don't really know how to unpack what I mean by submissive - this is an anniversary post, it's supposed to be light and fluffy and loving. It was just a telling moment in our marriage (that happened in the middle of an innocuously normal day, as so many of those telling moments of life happen) and I want to bookmark it, here on the world wide web. So, there it is. Four years into this, and I have surprised myself by how easily I fall into a traditional, wifely sort of role. Weird.

Then I read this article by a Catholic momblogger I respect, even when I don't agree with or understand her point of view, being a 'cradle Protestant.' Here's the take-home I took home:
When I am pregnant, I know my husband will care for me. When I’m tired, he will help. When someone insults me, he will defend me. When I spend time caring for babies and the house, I’ll be met with gratitude, not mocked and belittled. I’m no shrinking violet, but sometimes I just plain need him—and he needs to be needed.

Women walk a fine line: it’s tempting to surrender to lazy ninnihood—to confuse femininity with feebleness, and to let our minds and our wills atrophy. And so women lash back against this feebleness, squashing any signs of softness under their executive high-heeled maternity shoes. Let’s be clear—feminism brought many necessary goods to the world, and I don’t want to go back to the fifties. But neither do I want to pretend that I can do it all by myself.

Here’s my advice for a woman looking for that middle road between harsh feminism and stunted daughterhood: be strong, be smart, take responsibility for yourself—and never, never bind your life to a man who doesn’t want to care for you.

-Simcha Fisher, "Someone to Watch Over Me"

I don't agree with every molecule of this article, but I agree with its spirit. It is easy to obey a man I know, with absolutely every molecule of my being, has my best interest, has our best interests, and the best interests of my children, who mean everything to me, at the core of every beat of his heart. And I've realized how easy he makes that for me since watching him become a father. (That post, by the way, remains one of the most read posts of this blog.)

The first few years of our marriage, I was still keeping a lot of my daily life independent from my marriage, from my home-building. After children, I don't have the time or resources or desire to do that any longer. We have to depend on each other to keep this ship together - for each other, and for our family. I can't afford to keep myself aloof from needing him. My need bleeds out of every exhausted, frustrated day that I'm left feeling incompetent, not enough, and unbeautiful - and I am strengthened every time he meets that need. With quiet listening, or an I love you, or just a hug in his big, strong arms.

I'm sorry if this sounds sickeningly unfeminist. I'm sorry if I've lost your respect or offended. I don't know how to explain how this has happened in a way that I feel still upholds my Womyn-ness and independence and empowerment - it just has, it just does, I just am. And today, I celebrate the marriage and the man, and the faith in our God, that has allowed it to be so. Love you, honey...