Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mama Bean lurves her rhetoric metre

rhetoric noun: 1. the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. 2. language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience. [more in-depth at the wiki]
How sensitive is your rhetoric meter?

Rhetoric isn't quite the word I'm looking for, but propaganda seems excessive. (Almost) None of the information we 'download' these days is pure fact, free of opinion, or some underlying agenda. Well, that seems harsh, too. It all has a message, anyway, it seems. I feel. There, this is all just my rhetoric, too.

This is the problem with calling this the information age. It's not really just information. And as a parent, I'm faced with how to teach my children to navigate an informational playing field vastly larger than the one I learned on, which was already larger than that of my parents. I suppose I could rely on the old chestnut 'don't believe everything you read' but it's harder than ever to control what enters our family environment to be read. I think I lean towards less enforcement/freer access, but this will mean more discussion, more tough questions with no answers, and more time. And I must keep in mind the time-line - that the skills of literacy, comprehension, critical analysis, they build on each other, much more slowly than I liked (going through it) or will like (trying to help my children through it.) And then too also, it's even more critical for kids to understand this, to be actively critically analyzing their environment, at a younger age than me or you, because the consequences (seem to) get more dire with each generation (is that in my imagination?) 

I'm not sure I can accurately remember my own trajectory in Rhetoric Management. I suppose I built those literacy and comprehension skills through my undergrad, and started a foundation of critical thinking skills, but I didn't gain any proficiency then. I have thought of four major areas where I find it most important, and I can roughly put them in order. [ETA: I started this post when Bean was a baby, it originally referred to teaching "my child" and I'm only getting around to finishing it now. For pete's sake, none of the personal pronouns are even capitalized! /sigh]

Area the first: Religion/Christianity. Boy, was this a trial by fire, when I moved to the US midwest (during the run-up to the 2004 election no less, but we'll get to that later.) I had often felt buffeted by conflicting positions and rhetoric during my angsty teenaged faith, and had trouble reconciling what I felt was right with the oh-so-persuasive arguments of more extreme opinions. I had to learn to trust myself, and my interpretation. I had to know it was okay to read a persuasive argument for something I disagreed with, and just politely acknowledge it was well argued without feeling the core of my beliefs had been shaken. I had to stop taking things personally. People have opinions, people like to share them, people now have the internet to do so freely and loudly and without restraint - but I don't have to listen, and even when I do, I don't have to feel like my beliefs are being attacked or destroyed or even challenged. Because it's just their opinion. We can all be grown-ups and exist in this world together with different opinions just fine.

[Here I'll add: since 2004, the internet itself has matured in many ways, I find particularly when it comes to religious discourse. I think in large part because we've all conglomerated into our meta-tribes, and there's so. much. room. for as many small niches of religious thought, it's really fantastic. So not only is it easy to ignore rhetoric you disagree with (and I mean truly ignore, without trolling) but it's also really easy to find those you do agree with, and just (virtually) pet and rub each other all over with mutual love-festing.]

It's a good thing I got a handle on that, because I was about to get a crash course in American partisan politics - area the second. I truly didn't have a clue. I thought Canadian and US politics were pretty similar, 'cause we're pretty similar in general. Not so at election time. It was (toooooooo) easy to get caught up, to get emotionally invested. It was easy to be (utterly, distractedly) engaged by so. much. rhetoric. But after a few exhausting, commercial-filled months, man oh man did I have to turn that shit off. I had to handle the rhetoric, and remember that opinion is just opinion, even in these matters of Great National Importance (and not for my nation, mind you lol.) I had to remember that politics don't need to be personal, and I was still friends with my same friends I was friends with before I found out if my friends were Republican or Democrat. We are all grown-ups.

[It helps that I moved away lol. If I thought the 2004 election was bad, I cannot even imagine living through the 2008 or 2012 ones. To my American readers, I salute your perseverance! As much as the internet has matured for religious discourse, it has devolved when it comes to politics. My facebook feed is evidence enough of this. As a way of contrast, the development of my Rhetoric Management toward religion was to broaden my horizon; for politics it has been to narrow my focus/position. And I think it's interesting that these two areas required such opposite solutions.]

Area the third: Scientific Literacy. Given my BSc. I suppose my critical thinking skills developed earliest here, but didn't really... settle, until I was learning to navigate the morass of medical science and effective vs. ineffective healthcare. And I did this while entering a young, controversial, not-yet-completely-scientifically supported profession (don't kill me, Chiropractor friends, for that edgily wishy washy description.) Because I have the background for this, it maybe wasn't so thorny as the religious and political arenas. But it is life and death stuff being discussed at times, and certainly the ethics of healthcare in our (so privileged, so first world) society gets increasingly muddy. In general, I am saddened by the general public's scientific illiteracy. Research is presented so journalistically as to be virtually useless, especially on the internet. And I'm not sure any amount of interwebz maturation is going to compensate for the lack of quality science education being provided our children. If I'm going to be a Tiger Mom in any fashion, it will be drilling the scientific method into my poor children's heads and hearts until they weep for the sheer joy of deductive reasoning (lol... kind of.)

Ah yes, won't someone think about the children? Well, parenting is the most recent and, frankly, batshit crazy arena of rhetoric and flat out propaganda I've been thrown into navigating. Just when I think I'm getting a handle on it, I'm thrown into a fit of self-recrimination or sputtering indignation once again (from "I'm a horrible mother!" to "JFC shut your judgmental pie-hole!" and back again. Repeat.) If I hadn't honed my chops or whatever leading up to this, I would go crazy. Because when it comes to our children, everyone's opinion is the only way and everyone else is ruining their children's lives and there is just. no. end. If a mother isn't willing to just turn it off, walk away, and trust in her heart that she is doing the loving, most bestest job she can with the resources she has, she will be destroyed. I like to dabble and read and engage with both sides of any debate, and I find it all pretty entertaining. I'm not always the best at articulating why I make the choices I make (homebirth, for e.g.) and my lack of articulation can feel pretty weak in the face of so much interneticulation (can I make up that word? I think I just did. But do you know what I mean? The voice of the articulate internet - anybody can sound totally reasonable or totally unreasonable to anybody else on the internet.) But every day is an exercise in filtering parenting rhetoric, and I wouldn't say that exercise is best performed by the sleep-deprived haha.

[Speaking of internet maturation, I think since Bean was born (when I started writing this) the way parenting is treated on facebook and twitter, and even blogging to an extent, has really changed - I think people are starting to get the message that kindness matters. The trolls have been ignored out of existence, maybe a little? At least, I get the sense parents are less willing to rise to the Polarizing Bait - there's more focus on being supportive? Maybe this is also in my imagination...]

[I'm sorry this ended up so disjointed. I just know that my emotional health depends on my rhetoric metre - I sense the rhetoric, I sense how it could elate or enrage me, I evaluate if I feel like or have the resources for elation/enragement, I proceed accordingly. This is just my story of traveling the steps of Rhetoric Management. Critical thinking keeps me sane, in a crazy world. I hope it does the same for you.]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mama Bean wants to write about depression but doesn't want to be depressing

It's a tall order. But I want to write about it, because words are my friends and I need them, because I feel like I can write through the depression, because I have written through depression before, because this is as close to praying as I get sometimes (often.) 

But I don't want to be all sad-sack and off-putting, or alienating. 

So I'll start with as-positive-as-I-can-get:

Taking a daily B complex vitamin is helping, yay! The one I take (SISU brand because that's what my clinic sells) has 25 mg B1 25 mg B2 50 mg B6 20 mg B3 100 mg B5 0.2 mg B9 and 100 mcg B12. B vitamins are not psychoactive in any way (unless you are deficient, which will cause distinct neurodegeneration) and most of them (all of them? I should know this...) are water soluble, so they don't bio-accumulate, you just pee out whatever extra you don't need (and it makes your pee really yellow.) All of them are involved in energy production, so they help with my energy levels. A couple Fridays ago, I didn't get enough sleep (surprise surprise) and I forgot to take my vitamins before leaving the house, so the first hour of work I was absolutely dead in the water. I grabbed a bottle off the shelf (work perk!) took two (normally I only take one) and within 15 mins I was almost hyper. It was a fricking miracle.

I actually started taking it almost a year ago, when I found myself at pregnancy-fatigue-levels long after Sprout had been born. The supplement-guru at our office immediately recommended B, and now I recommend it to any women (especially moms) who tell me about fatigue (or just look fatigued ha!) I got lax about taking anything for awhile (months...) and rediscovering this little gem has been a life-saver. If only in the sense that being depressed leaves you resourceless (feels like you have, in fact, negative resources, less than zero) and so if you're gonna function with nothing, you should at least be peppy about it.

Other things that are helping (or would help, if I'd do it consistently): sleep. music. my husband's willingness to love me broken and all. interacting with (not just consuming) social media. 

Things that are not helping: motherhood.

So stay tuned for more * uplifting * words about that...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mama Bean cannot be a back seat driver

There will be days where only the word abandoned can describe the way you feel.  Left.  Forgotten.  These days will come, and have most certainly come before, but it is on these days we must remember that one day, someone will come along and find you again.  Find you, and when they do, they will find beauty in your cracked boards, grace in the rust you are bathed in and hope in the nails that still stick out, reaching for the sky.  -Tyler Knott, Abandoned Window on Abandoned Wall
The other day, PB and I had a little back-and-forth in the car, trying to figure out how to get out of the city for a day-trip to the beach. He asked which way he should go, and I gave him two options, and he said he didn't know which one to take, and I refrained from making the decision for him, so then we got a bit side-tracked, had to make a few extra turns in our city's spaghetti-like streets (The Prairie Valley City has never seen a right-angled intersection it didn't want to mangle somehow.)

And as it turned out, what he meant was he actually didn't know where to go at all and wanted explicit directions. And as it turns out, I'm loath to give those.

Why? Because I am traumatized by a life of watching my parents argue about back seat driving. I don't have to say this, I think I start to half explain before he says, yeah yeah I know.

And then, half joking, "Geez, stop being broken."

And I just laughed and laughed. (If only it were that easy, right?) Noone understands me like him, and it makes my heart swell. When he found me, I was already broken, and he thought I was beautiful. And two, three years later, when he was actually getting to know me, he still thought I was beautiful - cracked and desperate, half a country away, terribly alone and depressed. He has loved me and still loves me through so much brokenness, we can laugh about it.

I don't have it in me to be a back seat driver, because I am so tired and scared of car fights. (Fighting in the car is hella-awful, right? Because noone can go anywhere, you're all just stuck looking out the windows, waiting for the tension to get sucked out the vents...) But in so studiously avoiding it, we still had this "fight." If it weren't for love, if it weren't for the grace to see through to each others' heart-words... well, there'd be no winning, no redemption. Just another set of kids looking out the windows...and I tell you what, I refuse to do that to my children.

Here's what car fights taught me, about driving and otherwise - there are very few directional choices that are irredeemable. It doesn't matter which route you choose, you'll still get from Point A to Point B - and in the grand scheme of life, it doesn't even matter if it took you 5 minutes longer. (We were always late, as a family, anyway. I cannot describe to you how useless this fighting was, when we were always late to get there anyway.)

What matters is the quality of the drive, y'know?

Did you know Sunday mornings happen even if you're not going to church? What I mean is, you know how sometimes (often) (every week) getting ready for church feels like pulling teeth, feels like pulling yourself and your children through molasses, and everyone's kind of useless and crabby and speaking in grunts instead of words? And then you're all sullen driving to church, parking at church, walking into church, but it's all smiles as soon as your palm meets greeter's palm?

Though we're not going to church right now, this Sunday was still like that; getting ready for our day-trip to the beach, but we're all molasses-useless. It was really bizarre. But this little back-and-forth totally cut through that crap, this weird moment of how-deep-how-well-we-love.

And guess what, side-tracked and all, we still got to the beach. No driving mistake is irredeemable, you'll still get from Point A to Point B. You'll still find the beach. (Even broken people get found.)

(I know this post all about me me me, but... well, Happy Birthday PB)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing, winding down through August

We were away for a week, and I feel like I came home to early Fall, which is my favourite season - the nights are getting crisp, mornings are refreshing, and the garden is definitely heading into harvest time. Our master plan for these cucumbers to climb up the repurposed futon frame trellis, covered in delicious cukes didn't exactly... welp, it failed. But I pulled the ten or so cucumbers we did get onto the outside of the box just to take this nifty picture haha.
The tomatoes have continued going crazy, bending their cages down, lots of heavy fruit starting to turn colour. These are green zebras, and they are ripening to a slightly orange colour, but I'll only pick them when they start to feel less hard (but not necessarily soft). I did pick two green hungarians (which also ripened a bit orange) and they were pretty tasty, but a bit too sharp/bright. I like my tomatoes with a lot of sweetness, so I'm not sure if I'll grow them again. I am thinking some green salsa and green tomato sauce will look (and hopefully taste) good, so that's the plan.
The tomatoes on the left are Japanese black trifeles, so they've got a lot of ripening to do. The green hungarians are on the left. Our potatoes do not seem to have done well this year, despite having nice big plants; they have drooped and dried out already, maybe we didn't hill them enough? But those three taters in the bucket you see were all I got from one whole plant, and one of those may even have sneaked in from a neighbouring plant /sigh.
These are black cherry tomatoes. They look ready to eat, but they won't pull off the stem/vine easily yet, so I don't think they're fully ripe. I am being as patient as I can to taste them :S
I have two or three of these super-tomatoes on my Hawaiian pineapple tomato plant - I think they are made from several blossoms being fertilized and growing all together at once (maybe the vine was too cramped?) They are just starting to get orange now, I suspect I'll have to pick them green and let them finish ripening inside. But there's still plenty of August and (hopefully sunny warm) September left - fingers crossed against frost, right?
I thinned the beets just to see how they were coming along; they are small and that sucks. I've been picking many delicious handfuls of those orange sun sugars and sungolds and some red sweet 100s. Those orange suckers are so sweet and awesome, they're all eaten within hours of entering the house. That cucumber was very thick-skinned and a bit acerbic near the skin - I think this is either because it's not a thin-skinned variety and/or because it's been such a hot and dry summer.
These are mini brown peppers, they have since ripened to an even deeper red-brown colour. I can't decide when to pick them, but I'm thinking tomorrow.
These are yellow Hungarian wax peppers, which have for some reason turned orange. I don't know if they are spicy or not, but I think they're getting picked tomorrow, too.
The pumpkin plants have taken over the front flower bed, growing from the right corner across the middle and back (covering my lilies a bit, that's not so good) up into the bush at the left. There have been many male flowers, but not a single female flower, so no pumpkins for us :( I found two small female buds when I got home from vacation, but neither will bloom in time for fruit. That's my update! How's your garden doing?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mama Bean knows you on a certain level, you know?

When I was in university, I concocted a system of interpersonal knowledge levels by which I evaluated and/or grew friendships/relationships. Despite the world of adult relationships being vastly more complicated than how complicated I thought my social life was in my early 20s, I still find the system useful, at least for analyzing my placement in a particular friendship or wider group/web of relationships.

The system has three levels. Primary knowledge is the basic nuts and bolts info about someone's life - their family, their occupation, what they do on a day to day basis. Obviously, knowledge at this level can be pretty superficial (dog's name, what car they drive) and can get very deep (particularly detailed knowledge of someone's history, for example, or in this day and age, a solid understanding of their religious or political views, perhaps.) And every relationship starts here, with the basic exchange of information. Secondary knowledge has to do with preferences - again from a superficial level (favourite restaurant, hobbies, taste in music) to the more detailed (I don't know how to describe it, but just a very solid idea of their world view, to the point of predicting what they'd like in novel circumstances, maybe?) And this level also encompasses understanding a bit about value systems, but not so much as the third and final level. Tertiary knowledge is when you know someone well enough to know their motivations and drivers, their values, an understanding of their personality. This gets more into having predictive abilities as far as their choices or behaviours go - you know what they'll do or what they're thinking/feeling. It's more than just knowing opinions. For me, being a Myers-Briggs junkie, I need tertiary knowledge to feel comfortable guessing at your four letters. (By the by, the very fact that I have this system fits perfectly with my INFJ personality type, and I thought that was hilarious when I found out.)

So I've been thinking about this as applied to groups, as Papa Bean and I have been examining ourselves during this church search, and also a little bit as it pertains to parenting (and cloud parenting). I think a group that comes together on the basis of some primary level commonality is what I'd call a community. Any given church congregation is a community of people joined at this primary level of common religion. Your workplace is a community of people with a primary level common business/service. Mom groups of many shapes exist on the very basic primary commonality of motherhood. And depending on the specificity of the primary information, the community can be loose or tight, you know? 

I think when we start to look at people joined by a secondary level of commonality, we're talking about a tribe (in the meme-y meta way that we now use that word.) When PB and I consider the church we want to serve in, we're thinking about finding a tribe - not only joined by common religion, but a common specific expression of preferences within that religion, a particular progressiveness and politic. I don't think I have to say that this is a difficult thing to find! I think if you look at really cohesive workplaces or fantastically successful businesses (Apple?) you'll find more of a tribe mentality - people have bought in, have invested in a common goal/vision/process/preference. And I think I've written before about how comforting the Interwebz can be for finding your parenting tribe, somewhere in the Cloud - something that can be near impossible on the ground. 

I suppose a really tight tribe would start to approach a tertiary level of knowledge and connectedness, which I would call synergy. But I'd say it's pretty hard to get cohesive understanding of motivations and values across very large groups of people (churches have split over much smaller issues than that, amiright?) I'd say it's even pretty rare in two person relationships - I mean, I'd hope most marriages start here and grow into it from there. I can count on one hand the number of people I feel I know (or used to know) on the tertiary level and who know me the same. (Well, and being an introvert, I wouldn't want that number to be much bigger, but tell me extroverts if you have the same experience?)

The complexity of adulthood muddies my system on many many levels. For one thing: geography! When I was in university, everyone most important to me (give or take) lived in my city; not so anymore. I have these synergistic friends living their primary lives miles away from me, and I am ashamed to admit how little time I invest in maintaining that primary knowledge - what do they do day to day? What car do they drive? Let alone their parenting strategies, their workplace conflicts, their political activity... I know I can't hold onto my tertiary or deep secondary laurels with these friends forever, without supportive knowledge of their actual physical life. Because everything changes, and that's the other thing: time! I mean, values and personality are relatively stable over time, but still - people are falling in love, making new humans, building empires or destroying them!

More than anything, having indulged in some profound nostalgia of late (five year college reunions will do that) I find myself wishing (oh so dangerously tinged with regret is wishing) that I'd known then, when I was spending my valuable hours thinking myself so clever for figuring out the world in three simple levels, when I was discovering who my secondary and tertiary levels really were at Palmer, when I was growing and developing that selfhood in early marriage and now in early parenthood... I wish I'd known what and who really mattered. And I wish I'd taken the time - I wish I would take the time now to tell those people, to say what I feel, to hash it out with them, "Hey, here's where we're community and I like that, let's keep that" or, "Hey, here's where we're tribal, it's awesome, and I like it, let's keep it" or, "Hey, I think you know that we have something beautiful and synergistic between us, and I treasure that, please... please, keep that with me." I mean, I don't think every relationship can necessarily handle that exact depth of conversation, but in this age of ridiculous digital-connectedness, you'd think I could find the time to at least be honest.

So, tell me things: do you organize your sense of friendship in a system like this? Does your personality jive or clash with this system? (It's not perfect, so I'm not going to be insulted if you've got other ideas.) How do you navigate the communities and tribes in your life? How do you cultivate or communicate your way through tribalism or synergy? Think about it while we enjoy the sweet dulcet tones of Mr. John Mayer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mama Bean sometimes can't win

Vignette the first:
Chatting with a patient during treatment, exchanging basic information about our children, boy/girl mix, ages and how many months apart they are. I love having these conversations, I love that I get to meet so many moms at varying stages of motherhood, I feel I am participating in community and shared wisdom and wonderful womanhood, or something. Then I ask if she is home full-time with her children (because I ask everyone about their primary occupation, because it's interesting, and because their occupational activities have a bearing on their spinal health.)

She replies, "Yes, I just couldn't fathom letting someone else raise my children, y'know?" And then, perhaps realizing that I have children and I clearly am letting someone else raise my children, she feels it necessary to ask, "So where do your kids go when you're here?" I don't know, maybe she was hoping, against hope, that (as in the first eight months of each of their lives) my husband was at home raising our children? And I was not the awful mother she had just insinuated me to be? Oh well. 'Tis not so. End scene.

Vignette the second:
Chatting with an older mom about feeling somewhat limited and/or isolated with my small children; describing that I don't always feel able to handle long outings, or poorly timed (vis a vis eating or napping) activities, or that I simply do not seem to have enough hands/patience/wits to parent some days. Explaining that I opt out (willingly, because it's what's best for my kids) but that I fear I'm missing out (on my community, on friendship, on having a life). Expecting (why do I expect things?) some commiseration, maybe, or some encouragement. I would have accepted even platitudes; this-too-shall-pass me, you'll-miss-it-one-day me - I don't even care! Instead, I got, "Yeah, I used to use my kids as an excuse, too, but then I realized I just had to do it. And it wasn't so bad." I don't know, maybe she thought that was encouraging? It wasn't. Call me crazy. End scene.

Vignette the third:
In the midst of a group of harried moments ganging up on me, a progressing-into-cranky-and-irrational Moment, a toddler-and-pre-toddler-with-no-impulse-control Moment, I struggle to gather my belongings, assess any damage that's been caused, and prevent any potential damage from occurring by the barely-wrangled beasts. I struggle to maintain a socially-acceptable exterior, to be polite, to not yell, to not grab and wrestle and throw over my shoulder, kicking and screaming. I struggle with the fact that I love my children, and I accept them in all their moments, harried or not, but even so, the world does not. In fact, the world, at that moment, in the person of someone I thought of as a friend, instead said to me, "Wow, I just cannot relate to that, getting more and more riled up as they get tired. I guess my kids just weren't like that."

End. fucking. scene.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mama Bean can't find a good version of Bobcaygeon online anywhere (grr)

Oh Gord, sing to me about wine and Willie Nelson. Driving down this country road, tell me about where you saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time. Pulling down the shade against the setting sun, I want to hear about the sky, dull and hypothetical, falling one cloud at a time. I want to hear this love, in your song and your voice, tonight. I want to hear about staying hung up on that girl in the middle of a riot. And I want to think about that place where I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time, clouds falling all around.

If this is the poetry that smoking copious amount of weed produces... then toke me up. Fer real.

The people I went to Palmer with I think have a general impression of me as a goody goody. And I get where it's coming from - church every Sunday, didn't go to the bars, didn't seem to drink or swear or whatever. Got good grades, whatever that means (We all got good grades. There were four valedictorians in our class. And I wasn't one of them.) Never mind that I swear like a fucking trucker. (A Palmer friend recently commented on facebook that I'm adorable when I swear, FFS.) 

And here I am thinking, "But I'm from Canada! I'm from the land of legal pot!" And it really seemed the other Canadian gal in our class and I swore more than any of the good Midwestern kids around us. We felt downright crude. And anyone who spent any amount of quality time with me knew I'd tell a dirty joke sooner than I'd say anything else. My mind is perpetually (perpetually) in the gutter (perpetually.) (always.) (right now.) But I suppose my Canuckhood only confirmed how polite and buttoned up I must be?

Truth is, I didn't go to the bars because I couldn't afford the drinks. And if I was gonna spend the money, I'd rather see a movie and eat butter drenched popcorn.

But they never asked what I was drinking or smoking at home...

Well. But I'm no Gord Downie. I'm no poet.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mama Bean knows Papa Bean is a complicated man

The other day, I broke the stove. I had the coffee maker plugged into the stove-top outlet, and then I was cooking some soup, but I turned on the wrong element, and it zapped the coffee maker cord and the outlet (and the lights for the oven.) (No lectures.) (Even PB didn't lecture me when I told him. He knows lectures don't work for me. They just make me feel like shit and mope and cry and mope some more.) In fact, what he did when I told him is calmly reach over and open the top of the panel, which I didn't even know could be opened and pull out the fuse (or, fancy lightbulb, as I call it in my head) that was blown, so we could buy a new one.

How did he know that?!?

Secret man knowledge, I tell ya. Like his man hands. I like to think of myself as a fairly strong person, with strong hands, too. I work with my hands all day. I'm an accomplished pianist. I have strong hands. But I cannot lift furniture by just, like, gripping it with flat hands and carrying it around. I don't have hands like that. I call them Papa Bean's man hands, and when he expects me to just pick up a piece of furniture with flat side and no little ledge to hook my fingers under, I just mumble manhands under my breath. And when he flips open parts of appliances I have broken to fix them with random bits of machinery, I whisper manknowledge.

Okay, but then tonight I shared a kpop video on his facebook wall, because I know he likes kpop. It's not often I run across the stuff in my internet perusing, because my web-tribe just ain't into it, but anyway, there it was. And I was so tickled to share it, because even though I don't like it, I like to show that I love and care for his kooky tastes. (Turns out the song was even worse that that tripe usually is.) So he meanders over eventually and then says, "Would it be kinda sad or totally awesome if I told you I already know that song?" 

A complicated man, my husband.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mama Bean didn't know how painful parenting would be

What a loaded title for a post, eh?

Don't worry, this isn't heavy today. This isn't about how parenting is so emotionally weighty, how there are pieces of our hearts transplanted into these tiny, fragile bodies, wandering around outside our bodies, bumping into crap and making mistakes, etc. This is not about that.

This isn't even about how Bean is a physical toddler who needs to run and jump and throw and push and hurt things and people because he has no impulse control and can't always make himself understood and probably wonders if anyone in his life really loves him. This isn't about getting beaned in the head with cars and books and other hard objects periodically.

I just didn't know how much their little bodies would end up colliding with mine, accidentally, but nonetheless, painfully. How they will constantly, with perfect timing, throw their heads up just as you are bending your head down, to connect poignantly at the bridge of your nose, where the burning blinding pain will last for minutes, but no matter, you can't stop, you still have to put the shoe on/pick up the dropped food/kiss the scraped knee. Or how their sticky little feet would shudder like a "snakebite" across your bare leg or arm, as they step on/over you for hugs, for better access to the book, to reach the car you just took away and put on the windowsill. Or how pointy their limbs are, their elbows and knees and feet and even their funny pointy bums, digging into your ribs and legs and arms, as you dress them, hug them, comfort them, wrestle them, or just lie on the floor in exhaustion and allow them to climb all over you, it doesn't even matter anymore.

It's just a little bruising, is all.

(When I shared this with a patient of mine, an older mom whose children are grown and married and almost parents themselves, she kind of said, "Oh, I guess I just didn't let my kids, like, do that." And then she had the grace to stop herself, because I guess she realized how unhelpful that was.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mama Bean has straight hair, if you're wondering

You know that old adage, women with straight hair want curly, and those with curly wish it were straight? It's true, right, on both sides of that fence, we spend ridiculous amounts of money to get the hair we don't have. It's funny.

Or, you know the other one, smart women wish they were beautiful, and beautiful women wish they were smarter? I think that was on Ally McBeal once. It's a truism, too, in its own way. Many people have written many doctoral theses that treat the topic with more finesse that I can in a little blog post. I'm just running off the ones I can think of off the top of my head. 

The other day, after talking with my best friend (on a glorious one-night respite in the southeastern corner of my fair province, roughly halfway between our two homes), I thought of another one. Crafty moms wish they read more, and reading moms wish they crafted more.

Or, you know, fill in the blanks with whatever significant or insignificant mommy-war dichotomy you wish. Moms who commit their time and effort to A wish they had leftover time and effort to also do B, and vice versa, because lord knows we all have to bend over backwards to Do All and Be All in our effort to martyr ourselves on motherhood's doorstep for the sake of our children.

We live in a grass-is-always-greener kind of world.

I was thinking about this in relation to my work-life balance (oh that elusive beast...) I stay-home and work-out-of-home, both. Only it doesn't count, either way. Because I don't stay home all the time, so I'm not a real SAHM, and I have no authority or right to make commentary as though I have any clue what being a SAHM is really like. Obviously. But I'm also not out of the home all the time, I get to be home sometimes, so I don't really know what being a WOHM is like. I can't talk about any challenges I feel from SAHMing because I'm only doing it halftime. I can't talk about any mommy-guilt or professional-consequences I face from WOHMing because I'm only doing it halftime. This is the I-get-both-sides-of-the-grass scenario. It is not green.

Anyway, I don't know why I felt the need to write that down. My hair is straight, and I do wish it were curlier. I am smart, and I feel beautiful 4 or 5 days out of 10. I craft (less than I'd like) and I never have time to read (do blogs count? lol) And I'm a SAHWOHsomesuch /sigh. Mommy wars are pointless.