Saturday, April 30, 2011

lubricated parenting

On a particularly warm, sunny spring day earlier this week, at a mama meet-up in a park where kids played and us mamas shared bits and pieces from our daily lives, I mused to my friend that a margarita at that moment wouldn't hurt. This inspired further ideas about bringing tumblers with sinful concoctions to our group playdates in the Arboretum this summer, resurrecting, as my friend said, "the rock mamas," doing it together with lubrication on hand.

I'm a longtime fan of the cocktail hour, to help that witching hour pass. My current strategy for dealing with those terribly long last hours of the afternoon is to let Lilly watch one of her movies after she naps or has quiet time (on those days she refuses to nap). We sit next to each other on the couch, she watching her movie as I try to squeeze in a little more work and also cater to her needs (are all kids starving after nap?). When that's done, it's usually time to move on to dinner preparation; and hopefully Leighton's right around the corner.

When he gets home, I mix us both a cocktail (that is, if I haven't already been sipping on mine). Then he plays with Lilly in the living room, and I finally get some space to myself in the kitchen as I cook, lubricated.

When Leighton came home from work the other day before the above conversation took place, it was also a warm sunny day. He immediately asked for a gin & tonic in a tumbler, so he could take it to sip on while playing outside with Lilly before dinner. Lubricated parenting.

Lest you think we exclude Lilly from the fun, she's as big a fan of the cocktail hour ritual as we are, requesting her own special drink: yellow (apple juice and water) or red (raspberry juice and water). On those sunny days that just sing summer and margaritas, she gets to shake her own cocktail in a miniature shaker and pour her concoction (lemon juice, water and sugar) into a salt-rimmed glass with ice. Add a straw. And Cheers!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

claim your mama body

Did you know that girls as young as ten are requesting labiaplasty? I feel the urgent responsibility to provide my toddler daughter with positive and accurate images and texts to empower her to take pride in her growing body.

This morning, I took her to see the art exhibit EveryBody! at Carleton College where we got to see realistic images of women examining their genitals and their cervices with the use of a speculum, a large red soft sculpture of the vulva, historic editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and much more.

Most empowering for Lilly and me was the interactive art station where we could each color our own vulva.

I will write a more comprehensive post about this exhibit at LOVE, SEX, AND FAMILY. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the exhibit, which runs through May 8th.

EveryBody! presents work by artists and activists engaged with the women’s health movement, inaugurated by feminists in the later 1960s and 70s and continuing up to the present day. Featuring advocacy posters and self-education publications, polemical paintings, descriptive drawings, poetic artists’ books and a provocative performance sculpture, this exhibition provides visual evidence of the struggle to define health care as a human right, and every body as beautiful.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

finding the everyday pleasures in parenting

Responding to a fellow blogger's post, which quoted a passage on finding the everyday pleasures in parenting, my sweet husband Leighton left this most beautiful comment: 

"I paused as I walked out the door today, partly to catch my breath before heading out into another hectic world of work. But also to watch as my daughter flung Play-Doh across the kitchen, snot running over onto her upper lip, a grin colored with the strange delight of acting carelessly when boredom and tiredness are just about to set in; and to watch as my wife washed the dishes after lunch, gearing down into an early afternoon routine intended to lull our daughter into naptime and free up time for her own sanity, knowing however that this doesn't always work and the next five hours might be the most trying in her life, preparing. This was my parenting pleasure, an inward smile in my mind, because I have the privilege of sharing these moments everyday with the two people I love most. Moments that mean something for me alone but somehow connect me with most every person, does that make any sense?"

Here's the quote that inspired him (from Marley and Me by John Grogan):

Marley & Me tie-in: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog"They {the kids} defined our life now, and while parts of us missed the leisurely vacations, lazy Saturdays reading novels, and romantic dinners that lingered late into the night, we had come to find our pleasures in new ways- in spilled applesauce and tiny nose prints on windowpanes and the soft symphony of bare feet padding down the hallway at dawn. Even on the worst days, we usually managed to find something to smile over, knowing by now what every parent sooner or later figures out, that these wondrous days of early parenthood- of diapered bottoms and first teeth and incomprehensible jabber- are but a brilliant, brief flash in the vastness of an otherwise ordinary lifetime." (185-86)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

nap strike

We're dealing with a nap strike. Just as I'd formed the blissful thought of how much more reliable the afternoon nap has been for Lilly this past year, she's now simply refusing it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I kind of know why. I've been lying down with her to sleep for nap and night since she was born (she'll be three in two months) and seeing the hours of a day that can take, I guess I just had enough in the end. It's not like it's been a conscious decision, however, though Leighton has been thanking me for what I'm doing for us, for the family, for the time he and I now get by me leaving Lilly in bed awake at night after nursing her down and then cuddling some, including the work it has taken after that when at first she wanted to leave the room or would whine.

Her wanting to leave the room at night or whine only lasted a couple of nights though, as did the whining. It's been more about 'enforcing' the getting ready for bed thing when she wants to run around, even when dead tired, that's been the issue. Nighttime lately has been quite the ordeal (dealing with an overtired child) as well as a liberation. - Finally, I can get up and have some time to myself at night (though that implies that I've been staying up too late too).

The other (negative) outcome of this new (positive?!) turn of her being able to sooth herself to sleep after I've nursed and cuddled with her, is, ahh, that she simply refuses to nap. We'll lie down, I'll nurse, we'll cuddle, she'll be snoring, it's been 45 minutes; I tease my body out of the bed, and snap, she's awake -- "mama!"

I can't even begin to express how frustrating this has been. Yes, both my husband and I enjoy the time at night we're getting now. But man, the afternoon gets long and exasperating. I can see how overtired she is. So it's not like she's just grown out of the nap; she still clearly needs it! As is evident from this new phase of whiny exhausted spells of her crumbling up on the floor if I won't go get her that green bag she so desperately needs that's lying on the floor just a foot in front of her face.  Or something else along those lines.

I asked her yesterday: Why can't you nap? She answered: It's so difficult to sleep. - Why? I asked. - I'm thinking, she responded. - About what? I searched. - About mama. - Mama what? - Mama helping me. - Helping with what? - Helping me sleep.

Then there are days, like this past Tuesday, before winter set in again as it feels like it has today, and we were out in our shorts and sandals and hats, goofing around, none of us even wanting to try for a nap, and all was good. May those days return again soon (or some other restorative winds).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Yes, Of Course It Hurts"

Spring: rebirth and exalted rejuvenation. -- And the skinless feel of exiting the safety of hibernation. I've been feeling both of those a lot lately. Writes Swedish poet Karin Boye (translation by David McDuff), in For the Tree's Sake:

Yes, Of Course It Hurts --
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?
Why would all our ardent longing
bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor?
After all, the bud was covered all the winter.
What new thing is it that bursts and wears?
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
                         and that which bars.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

little girls need to learn to breastfeed

Reading a post about a European Breast Milk Baby toy coming to the U.S. had me thinking about the unfortunate hysteria that lingers around breasts in this culture that apparently obsesses about the female sex while bemoaning it. Think for instance of the public outrage Janet Jackson’s now historic naked breast during the Super Bowl halftime show caused, which had Europeans shrugging their shoulders incredulously. Or nursing tents used to cover up the boob (and pretty much all of baby) while mama nurses.

I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding, and my toddler daughter (whom I still nurse) will often pull up her shirt to "nurse" her baby dolls. I would not invest in $89 to purchase a specific doll for her to pretend nurse, but I think the concept is interesting. The (small Spanish family owned and Christian) manufacturer of this novelty toy claims that “little girls need to learn to breastfeed.” While this may sound preposterous, I actually agree that this is the case for American girls where breastfeeding is not sufficiently supported.

In the U.S., new moms have likely not seen a lot of breastfeeding women in action and are often not surrounded by a whole lot of breastfeeding moms. High breastfeeding initiation rates show that most women in the U.S. want to breastfeed and are trying to do so; however, even from the very start, they are not getting the breastfeeding support they need: "Across the United States, the average level of support that birth facilities provide to mothers and babies as they get started with breastfeeding is inadequate, and hospital practices and policies that interfere with breastfeeding remain common" (CDC). Low breastfeeding rates at 3, 6, and 12 months illustrate that mothers continue to face multiple barriers to breastfeeding.
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