Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mama Bean does not verbally process as much as she thought she did

Back when Bean was a baby, and PB's parental leave was done and he went back to work, I was home alone with Bean most weekday mornings. And those mornings were often quite silent. I just didn't have much to say to the little guy. He wasn't especially noisy himself, we just kind of went about our day. Did chores (or at least thought about doing chores), hung out on the computer, ate stuff, played with stuff. I dunno. There wasn't much to talk about!

I thought I was weird. I thought I was stunting his verbal development. (Oh yes, I hear the Mama Judgement. "This is why Bean took so long to talk, this is why he doesn't say things clearly, or speak in full sentences, you should have talked more, he would be learning faster blah blah blah." Save. It. Bean talks plenty now. He figured it out when he felt like it.)

Well, as it turns out, PB was the same way. So I guess me and the hubs are quiet sort of people. Who knew?

I consider myself a pretty verbal person. I like words and words like me; I use them all over the damn place. My job is Service, which means it's almost non-stop communication. I feel like I talk all the live long day.

But on the other hand, I also feel like most of my adolescence and coming-of-age was the slow process of learning to keep my mouth shut. Long-time friends can attest to the trouble my tongue has caused me. I was a precocious chatterbox kid. So. Maybe I learned to keep it shut too well after all...


It's been funny to witness PB get a little lot more verbally process-y, through his time home with the both kids full time, and then through his various responsibilities at work again, and at our church as a board member. I mean, now that Bean's a toddler, there's no such thing as a silent day. We talk from "Good morning" to "Good night." But talking to only preverbal Beastlets all day is way different from talking to, y'know, adults.

So PB really chats it out when we're together again after the work day. I didn't realize how ingrained my impression of him as someone who processes internally was until he wasn't, so much, processing internally anymore. Conversely, I feel less chatty these days, because my work uses so many words, because parenting uses so many words, because I am (un-possibly) running out of words. It is bizarre.


We have also noticed Sprout seems more, I dunno, noisy? than Bean was at this age. She likes to chatter and babble, she's quite giggly, and a bit shrieky when excited. She certainly ramps up to full blown crying more quickly than Bean ever did. Despite the verbal diarrhea that is conversation with a 2-year-old, I still don't talk at Sprout very much. That is, if Bean weren't around, I think my mornings would be similarly silent - just going about our stuff, playing and eating and thinking about doing chores. So I guess I can expect more Mama Guilt when she's not using complete syntax by 18 months ;)

Speaking of verbal diarrhea, Bean has discovered "Why?" He's not too insistent about it, most why-trains only go about four or five deep, before I catch myself and remember it's a diabolical toddler ploy to keep mommy talking about nothing, in the hopes she'll get distracted enough to drop a cookie or absentmindedly hand over the chocolate chip container or something. In a way, it's like No and Oh, it's sort of meaningless, just a sound he makes that he has found produces a reliable response, namely, my attention (I guess - I tend to ignore No and Oh.) But there is comfort in the cliche of it all. Behold! He is normal! He asks why!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mama Bean decided to do everything twice today

This morning, after bundling Sprout into her car seat and fetching the grocery baskets from the basement, I wrangled Bean into his jacket and shoes. Then remembered I needed to bring snack/breakfast for him, because it was too early in the morning for grocery store free cookies. Then had to wrangle him back into the jacket and shoes he took off. I like dressing my toddler twice.

After parking, transferring my children and baskets to the cart, and pushing them into the store, I remembered the pictures I'd loaded onto my thumb drive to print, which was still in the car. But I'd already put items into the cart. So I finished all my shopping, unloaded the groceries into the car, fetched my thumb drive, went back to the store, and printed my pictures. My toddler was really happy to do the boring picture printing task at the end of the trip, after I'd run out of snack and breakfast and patience :/ I like turning one shopping trip into two.

On the way to the store, I tried to go to the bank, but couldn't find the door to the branch, and realized it wouldn't be open anyway for another half hour. So I went to a different branch after the store, even though I was running twenty minutes behind schedule. And because my bank has no drive-through ATMs in the city, I had to unload the kiddies into the bank with me. At least the teller rewarded me for being a momma-trooper by giving my toddler a sucker. Um, hello?! Where's my sucker?! I like visiting two banks for one task.

When I got home, I unloaded the car in about four trips, and reloaded it in another four. I couldn't seem to figure out how to go into the house with one thing, and come out of it with another, to turn eight trips into four. This always seems to happen, this inability to grasp efficiency, when I am low on time. I like doubling my preparation efforts (and halving my efficiency.)

After dropping off the kids (thank you for the brownie, S, it was so so delicious!) I realized I could have just gone to the branch of my bank that's on my way to work, and I could have done it without children, oy! I went to our other bank to make a deposit. Got to the ATM and realized I'd left half my deposit items in the car, but I'd already put in my card and PIN. So I finished my deposit, went back to the car for the other items, and deposited them in a second transaction. I like wasting bank transactions.

Then it turned out I didn't even need to rush to work because the meeting that was supposed to start at 12 didn't start till 1. That was the. best. part.

Welp, two days in one. It was a ride. How was your day?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mama Bean heard this song on the radio last night

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I'm getting older too
I'm getting older too

Today is a day when I don't want to be a grown up.
And I don't want to LentenBlog.
So I'm posting song lyrics like a 14-year-old girl.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mama Bean shares her deep thoughts about driving with you

"Every time I get behind the wheel I give away a part of my life in order to get where I need to be to live. I act as if I’m not living now, but if I could just arrive at my destination, I could finally exist. I give away all the potential of travel’s fleeting yet fulfilling moments in order to have some static, stolid existence at my journey’s end."

I have a future-dated post (like 2046 future-dated) where I blurb out ideas I have for blogging some magical day when I have all the time in the world. The above is one such blurb. I have no idea what prompted this thought, or how I thought I'd tease out a whole post about it. 

To be honest, I'm not sure I totally agree with myself anymore. I seemed to be saying that time in travel was being wasted, or un-valued. Maybe I was going to write a whole post about how I should somehow make travel time productive, use it for something (deep thinking, prayer, Kegel's.) (Well, I do use it for Kegel's, so there's that.) (Did that qualify this post as  TMI Tuesday? And it's Saturday? For shame!) (Ooh it's been so long since a good old-fashioned Bracket Train - complete with unnecessary capitalizations! It's a good day!)

Today, I would say travel is time I treat out-of-time. I suspend many normal thought processes, primarily via radio or music, and exist in car-time. I like car-time. Even with kidlets in the car, I feel like my world is only as big as the road, and nothing beyond those boundaries can impose on me unless I allow it to. I feel very powerful in my car. 

Anyway, I no longer begrudge the part of my life I'm "giving away" while driving. I have found a way to live now while I'm behind the wheel. Thank goodness, eh?

(btw Re: the post title, I have plenty of deep thoughts about driving. They mostly surround using turn signals, merge lanes, and left-turn lanes properly. Another day...)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mama Bean finds it's not enough to be a jaded adult

During my 20s, with each passing year, I found myself mourning lost opportunity. With each decision I made (what course to take, what major to declare, what job to stay at, what career to choose, what date to call again) I mentally flipped through pages of all the other things I now could not do, or be, or choose. Kinda like when you decide what you're getting at a restaurant, and realize you won't be eating the rest of the menu.

I thought this was the Great Depressing Fact of Life. Not that I didn't enjoy the choices I made, often enough. Not that I haven't, in fact, built myself a lovely wonderful little life over here :) This is not that.

But it does seem to be one of the harder truths of life that you cannot, really, do it all. That picking one path, generally speaking, precludes plenty of others. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" and all that, except it's infinite roads diverging between infinite trees, with each new morning.

Here's the mommy-blog moment: children are so flippin' full of potential. They have all their choices ahead of them. The most monumental thing Bean decides in a day is whether to finish his breakfast or not. He doesn't get too broken up about it, either. And I marvel at it, how they can Do or Be so much, still. It's so cheesy, but seriously, they have their whole lives ahead of them

(I understand now the parental urge to live vicariously through your children's potential. And I only have a few years to curtail my desire to fix all my mistakes via their choices before they're old enough that it'll do real damage lol.)

There are two connecting points in my life for these thoughts. First, the discussion about Women In Ministry, that delicious beast, is being bandied about in my offline and online worlds. And I feel the responsibility of ensuring my children know, in very real tangible ways, that their potential is not limited by their gender. It is not enough for me to settle these abstractions in my head any longer. I have to live them out, in a meaningful way -that is, as an example to the Next Generation. I am realizing how internal and kind of inert my feminism has been. I am realizing that will not suffice.


Second, and this is what this post is really about, today I sang a small butterfly song into the whipping North wind, over pink roses falling on a casket far, far too small. Our friends' daughter died before coming Earthside, before the Dream-of-her could became the Real-of-her. She will always exist, in the hearts of her family and their friends, as her Purest Self, which is simply Infinite Possibility. And my eyes look differently on the children that are here, these Pure Beings living out their Dream-to-Real right in front of my jaded, adult eyes. And I feel differently, the wonder of their potential, and of my own.

Indeed, I feel a new responsibility, and I wonder if all those touched by her life might feel it too, to somehow Be the Possibilities she cannot be herself; to somehow live out the pureness of her potential, and make this world as beautiful as possible, a world worthy of the life she'll only have in dreams. I feel a responsibility to shake off my cynicism, and know, really know, the blessing of Possibility. And as I live it out, to offer it up to Heaven, proudly but gently, "See? We are not wasting it. We can be the hands you cannot, we can be the choices you cannot, we can be the Love."

The only redemption for this tragedy is love. It's not good enough to roll over under the Great Depressing Fact of Life, to let it make me complacent. Parenthood, and childhood-cut-short, tell me complacency is no longer acceptable. 

We can be the Love. We must.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mama Bean is writing for Lent

I'm going to write forty posts for Lent. Ash Wednesday was yesterday, so this is post number two. It took me awhile to decide how I wanted to Do Lent this year, because we are, frankly, very busy Doing Church in so many other ways, I had trouble dedicating some space for the discussion to take place.

Every year, I think about Lent differently, what's it really for, what does it mean, why do we give things up or take things on, what's the point? And, just like a Bible passage speaks to you differently each time you return to it, so too has my understanding of Lent's meaning adjusted and flowed into the new experiences of my life.

For example, last year I had a newborn baby, and though I didn't do anything formal about Lent, I did find my thoughts dwelling with Mary, and her experience of Jesus' death as a mother. And my experience of his death as a mother. And how my need for a Saviour, and my gratitude for that Saviour has changed, now that I am responsible for these little lives, and discovered this ferocity of love for these little lives, and will somehow introduce what this Saviour has meant to me to these little lives. It was a heavy Lent, as I recall. I was a bit delirious, yet, so my recollection is hazy at best.

This year, PB is working on a sermon for this first Sunday of Lent using the OT lectionary reading, the story of Noah and The Flood. So I've been preoccupied with this image, this idea of The Flood paralleling Lent.It rained for forty days, Lent is forty days. At the end of the flood, God had cleaned the world, at the end of Lent Christ cleans the world. After the flood, God made a new covenant; Easter is the ultimate covenant to end all covenants.

Here's my thought: Noah and his family knew the rain was pouring down because God was sad with the way humanity had turned out. Every day of rain was a new day of his sadness and disappointment and judgment dripping from the sky. Every day was a fresh awareness of how bad it really was, how big the injury, how dirty the mess. They were being flooded in a very real, tangible way with this physical representation of their need for God's cleansing. And each night they must have thought, surely this will be it, this is enough. Only to wake to that familiar sound yet again...

How does Lent look like a Flood in my life? How can I prepare my heart for forty days with a fresh realization each day that I need Easter? Not in this self-shaming, soul-crushing despairing kind of way, because that's not really useful. More like... well, can you imagine how they felt that morning when it finally wasn't raining?

Can you imagine the relief, the joy, the gratitude?

Can you imagine how Easter could feel like that?

I'm not going to write forty posts about how I Need Easter. That would get monotonous. (Tomorrow, for example, I may write about farts. Won't that be fun?) What I want is for the act of writing to flood my life, for the activity to trigger my thoughts in the direction of Easter, I want to put myself on a metaphorical Ark, and I want words to drip like rain. And I want each post to be a morning-still-raining.

And after that fortieth post, I pray I'll discover Easter in a new way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mama Bean feeds her self-esteem (her low self-esteem)

When I was younger, I developed an unhealthy eating pattern - spending irresponsibly on large quantities of nutritionally-poor food in a compulsive way to quell bad feelings. I did it secretively, hiding the food and the spending, though I could not hide the effect, primarily weight gain. And, as I was consistently told how unacceptable my weight was, the bad feelings remained. So the eating pattern remained. 

The cultural lexicon calls this Emotional Eating, which reduces the phenomenon to something trite. "Oh, yeah, whatever, I 'eat my feelings.' Just like everyone, haha..."

I thought, when I moved out, the pattern would go away. And in a sense, it did. It wasn't a secret anymore, because it was just me living by myself, and what did I have to hide from myself? I wouldn't say my spending got much more responsible, or my food much more nutritional. But I was happier being independent, because a large chunk of the bad feelings were related to self-autonomy and feeling personally in control, and living on my own provided that control. So the Emotional Eating certainly became less frequent. But it didn't go away - I distinctly felt a regression with every visit home.

When I got married, I really expected the secretiveness to completely go away. I had moved into the mature, adult, married and parenting part of my life - who or what would I be hiding my "bad food" from? And yet, built into our financial marriage is a trapdoor - a portion of funds we call "allowance" I am free to spend independently. And guess what I spend it on? Lattes, chocolate bars, cheezies, slurpees - and then, junior chicken burgers and fries on the way to work 4 days a week, and probably on the way home a couple times, too. And I had the perfect excuse, pregnant from January 2009 to October 2009, breast-feeding from then to July 2010, pregnant again from then to March 2011, and breast-feeding from then to December 2011.

I have run out of excuses, because my last baby is done feeding from me. But the secret eating continues, and because I have committed to my husband that this is Our Year (to get fit, to get skinny, to get healthy, etc...) well, I have to stop expecting this pattern to stop, and I have to actually DO something about it.

I have to acknowledge that this is not about my childhood or how I was parented or any of that shit. Not anymore. This is something about me, in my brain and my soul, something about the things I believe about myself. My worth. My goodness.

The thing is, I lost 12 pounds in January. I followed the diet (we're doing the old version of WW). I counted my points. I exercised. It was working. And then I was pulling into a McDonald's, justifying my french fries because, I don't know, I was pre-menstrual, the baby wouldn't let us sleep, my toddler was on my last nerve, pick a reason. And it tasted so fucking good, I cannot even describe. And then, I felt so fucking awful, I cannot even describe. I felt shame. I felt weak. I felt all those things that our thin-obsessed culture has taught me to feel. So I hid the bag and I didn't put those points on my count for the day.

And once I'd done it once, it was really easy to do it again.

My husband is not my parent, he's not a boss of me, he's not someone I need to hide my eating from. There is no one in my life I need to hide my eating from. So why am I doing this?

It is not only that I am sabotaging my success, it is not only that internally I don't believe I deserve to lose weight. I think I am creating shame, I am misbehaving to confirm my belief that I am someone who misbehaves. I am someone who is bad, who does bad things. It's not the food that makes me feel better, it's doing someone wrong - it's the sin of it.

Twisted, right?

I have got to, somehow, resolves the cognitive dissonance between my belief that I am a bad person, and my desire to behave in a right way. I don't know how. I am trying to continue following WW and supporting myself via supporting my husband's efforts (because he is doing so so well and I am so so proud of him - and because I want to join him, eventually.) I even exercised last night! But I don't know how to change my thinking. So let loose with the advice in the comments, folks, and any books or resources you've found helpful. I'm not looking for weight-loss resources, we have all the plans and apps and charts and equipment we need for that. I'm looking for emotional resources.

As with spiritual practice, Confession has an important role, and that is what this post is about. Confession is different from Shaming. So. This confession was the first step. This is still Our Year. And I thank you for being part of my process :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mama Bean wrote a song

O, where the little feet run,
                where the little feet run so far

O, my heart is heavy, low
                the weight of life, it keeps me from your side

O, my soul will sing to you
                will sing to you as far as it can fly


O, I cannot see you dance, see you dance under the sun

                where the little feet run...

(for R, her O, and their family)