Today at church they showed a video tribute to mothers. I had Claire with me because she had what I thought might have been a cold and I didn't want to spread it in the nursery. Now, I didn't see it all because Claire was in my lap requiring help with the puzzle I'd brought for her to do as an independent (hah!) quiet (hah!) activity. And it was one of those reading videos, so if I wasn't looking, I missed it. Anyhow, the gist of the video was to highlight all the things moms do. It was like, "They're our chefs, housekeeps, taxi drivers, etc. So thank you!)
I remember looking up and thinking, "Is the church calling me a housekeeper?!" Now, of course this video was made with wonderful, loving, honoring intentions and I truly believe it touched many people there. And I also didn't see it all, so maybe there was more depth to the "what makes a mother" business. But it didn't sit right with me, and I couldn't quite place my finger on why. I wasn't offended, really. Just not particularly honored. I was considering it later and here's what I'm thinking. None of the roles mentioned are anywhere near what I think of when I define myself as a mother. Sure, I clean the house, and take the kids places, and I cook meals, but honestly those tasks have nothing to do with my identity-who I am and what I do.
That got me thinking about this idea of motherhood. The stage of motherhood I'm currently in is the young stage. So, perhaps later on down the line I will feel more of a "Here here!" when I see a video exalting and appreciating my house maker skills. But even as an older child, I remember my own mother becoming exacerbated with us and exclaiming, "What am I, your maid?!" And my first thought was always, "Of course not, you're my Mother!" (Now I know I treated her like a maid sometimes, and oh how I wish I hadn't and simultaneously marvel at her grace and love in the face of such treatment!) But even as a child, for me a Mother was a special and wonderful creature, not a person who cleans up after me. So much so that those are the things I took for granted and never thanked her for. Because that's not who she was to me. (Also, thanks for cleaning up after me, mom!)
How would I describe my identity, then? Firstly, because my children came to me through pregnancy, I think of myself as a life-giver. We, as mothers, sometimes get to literally build and nourish life within us. It's a very physical act. Mothering is growing a being and then even after birth giving from ourselves what is necessary for continued life, and growth, and learning. But that's not where motherhood stops, or even starts for many wonderful mothers.
More than initiating life, a mother is the person who forms our concepts of the world. (Truly, this is a role both parents fill with importance, but it's not Fathers Day, so they only get honorable mention here!) I stay home with my littles. This means that I'm the primary one who walks with them moment by moment. I literally narrate the world for them. They learn that a tree is a tree because I tell them. And more deeply, they learn about intimacy, kindness, love, and affection all from my example. As our children grow older, we help them examine the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, the mysteries of the universe, and the truths of God. This is my job. This is who I am. This is what I want said about my role as Mother. These are the things I hope Claire, Jude, and Eli come to appreciate about me. These are the things I cherish in my own fantastic mother.
As Eli's birth begins to loom, I'm thinking over my last two birth experiences. Because I planned to have both Claire and Jude at home, and ended up in the hospital BOTH TIMES (for two different reasons) I've decided to start off at the hospital this time. But, I am discovering I have no idea how to plan for that. It's like the first time all over again, not knowing what to expect. All my preparation for birthing has always been predicated on being at home. The hospital is a foreign place to me, and only ever experienced during the dire moments of emergency. They have always involved feeling railroaded, mistreated, yelled at, and scared. So, now the thought of voluntarily going there and spending much more of my labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery there is frightening to me.
I need advice and encouragement from the wonderful moms and dads in my life who have had POSITIVE hospital birth experiences- especially if you have done an unmedicated birth. Tell me what I should be prepared for. I need simple tips, like what to pack in my bag, (I've never packed a hospital bag before!) How were you able to focus and stay comfortable? How easy was it to do your own thing and avoid being meddled with by the nurses (even the well-meaning ones)? When did you go into the hospital? I'm thinking of staying at home until I'm all but pushing, but then the thought of trying to get there when things are the most intense kind of stresses me out! Will I feel rushed? Will it make it impossible to relax through the most powerful contractions? But if I go too early, will I be more vulnerable to routine hospital procedure that may lead to intervention? I know I have heard many of your birth stories before, but it was with ears that were never expecting to need to remember the tips and details!
I know you will all have different experiences, and different advice. I want to hear it all! But seriously, please no horror stories, or anecdotes about how things turned out all wrong. I already have two of those myself to give me anxiety. I don't need to have them reinforced by your experiences too! Thanks guys!!
I was just reading today about an incident at a museum in LA where a breastfeeding woman was asked by employees to cover up. It got me thinking about the whole "breastfeeding in public thing." I thought, how often do we hear from a non-outraged proponent of public breastfeeding? Well, almost never. So I thought perhaps I could set down my views in a calm, positive way for anyone who might disagree with me to ponder.
I want to start by saying to those that just feel "uncomfortable" with this topic: I get it. I can see why-for a myriad of reasons-the sight of a woman nursing in a public place might initiate a negative, even visceral response. I don't think you're inherently a mean, ignorant, woman-hater.
I do think, though, that perhaps there are a few things you maybe haven't considered. I would ask you: Where do these uncomfortable feeling come from? What is your specific objection? Have you considered this issue from the mother's point of view? (I know that can seem off-putting, what with the yelling and whatnot that can sometimes accompany pro-breastfeeding advocacy.) Also, I am all for pro-breastfeeding advocacy, so don't misunderstand my intentions here. I just think it's hard to change people's minds when you yell at them.
Let's consider the mother, first. I am one, so I know this side of the issue well. She is harangued from all sides with the medical fact that breastfeeding is what she should be doing. It's the best way to care for her child. If she wants to be a good mother, she'll choose to nurse. So, there's pressure. One reason women give for not continuing to nurse is the fear of the "out and about" complication. If she is out somewhere, she is either limited to a 2-hour window so she can feed the baby before she leaves, and then be back in time to feed them again. Or, she can huddle herself away in a stinky bathroom somewhere for 15-20 minutes trying to soothe an infant to the sounds of flushing toilets, hand driers, and people coming and going, all while perched on a hard toilet in a cramped stall. Or, she can attempt to feed her child where she is. Does she try to use a cover? This can be a great solution for some moms. But it can also be super hot, the baby often struggles against the restricted air flow, and you can't see what you're doing. The cover often results in more exposure, and draws more attention than would otherwise occur just because you end up wrestling a child who, by this point, is hungry and mad! So, use no cover? This may provoke rude looks, comments, and maybe even eviction. Basically, it's easy to feel screwed no matter what you choose. *
I have had several conversations with folks who aren't fans of public nursing, and I can mostly sum up their reasoning in this one simple concept: Boobies are for sex and therefore not for polite company. Of course, a perfectly valid argument to this is to say, "You don't storm into your local Victoria's Secret store at the mall (which is jam-packed full of young, impressionable minds) and demand that they cover up their pictures. You're ok with your beer and hamburger commercials played during sporting events you watch with your children. You're ok with seeing breasts on display in a million ways throughout your day-you don't even really realize it. You don't become uncomfortable if they're displayed in a sexual way, for the purposes of consumption and consumerism. Why the double standard?"
Here's what I think might be the answer: We're not dumb. We know the ways that advertisements play on our latent lust to sell things. We recognize the tactics that subconsciously link a mostly nude woman with nothing but sex. We know it, and really aren't that ok with it. But it's so ubiquitous that it's become acceptable. Until we're confronted with a woman out in public who is "displaying" her breasts in a completely non-sexual way. Something deep in our brains goes off. It confuses us. It's boobies... They're there if I want to stare. But I feel like I shouldn't stare because it's not sexy. Something doesn't fit. It makes me uncomfortable. I react. It's like some screwed up behavioral conditioning experiment. The stimuli is presented in a non-anticipated context. I see boobies, I react as conditioned, then I realize I shouldn't react that way. So I blame the stimuli. She made me feel uncomfortable. She's doing something out of place. She should not have evoked this response in me. She should have covered up.
So, what's the solution? I think we need to have more positive experiences with the natural acts of mothering. I think we need to see women nursing in public as often as we see them hawking hamburgers as ketchup drips down their exposed breasts. Truthfully, I don't think we should see them doing that at all, but I live where I live, in this society, and I'm not silly enough to think things will change that much. I'm not sure we can extract sex from sales and consumerism. The objectification of women-while disgusting and personally offensive-is not going anywhere anytime soon. But maybe we can inject positive imagery and experiences of women using their bodies in natural, life-giving, healthy ways.
And it starts with your reaction to seeing a woman nursing in public. Yes, it may make you feel uncomfortable. And I understand why. But maybe before you make her feel inappropriate with looks, comments, or complaints, you can think about these things. Maybe you can recognize where your feelings come from, recognize the position she is in, and extend some grace. If there was less opposition, there would be more women willing to breastfeed in public. If there were more women breastfeeding in public, it would become less provocative. It would become a part of our culture. And then, you wouldn't feel uncomfortable anymore. It's a win win.
*I want to acknowledge that the example of a nursing mother that I put forth is by no means every woman. Many women never feel pressured in their choice to breastfeed, and also feel no discomfort doing so publicly. I merely mean to highlight the ways in which societal mores can create negative experiences with breastfeeding, and can discourage some women from nursing despite that fact that it has been shown have many medical advantages.
Hello from the land of the tired! I have wanted to write a new post forever, but somehow never seem to carve out the time. So, here it goes!
We have emerged after the long winter and are venturing forth into the sunshine! Mostly, we're doing fantastic! Kevin loves his job-at which he can work from home. We're all settled into our new home. For the first time in our 9 years of marriage, there is a space for everything to be put away! It's amazing! I actually have a fairly clean house most days! (Gasp!) Seriously, you can drop by unannounced without me having to bury feeling of shame and guilt and fears of judgment. I'm 33 weeks (ish) along now with our littlest Bringard. It's been a good run so far. I've been able to stay fairly active going to the gym, chasing the boy and girl, and even an occasional hike.
Updates on the kiddos:
She's "3 & 1/2" now and so grown up. The drama has reached epic levels, and some days are roller coaster rides! But, despite the new foray into deception and manipulation, and the increased tantrums, it is really a joy to watch her take in life. She has been making an extra effort lately to love Jude and do special things for him. It melts my heart to watch her protect and guide him. (But she also antagonizes and bosses him, of course!) Her strengths continue to be in the realm of communication. She loves to converse, and will talk to anyone who will listen, or even when they won't, she talks right over them! She is socially very outgoing (as always) and loves to make friends. Always the free-spirited fashionista, she will insist on choose to wear two different shoes to school, or orange tights with pink shorts. Her response to suggestions that her choices may not match is always the same: "I don't mind!" She is about to wrap up her first year of preschool, and we've decided to put her in for 3 days/week next year. She is excited! She has also started a tumbling class at the gym. Her lopsided summersaults are quite adorable! (What she lacks in grace, she makes up for in gusto!)
Jude is 18 months old now and has really started to become a little boy lately! He talks A LOT, and you can understand what he says almost all the time. He consistently uses phrases that consist of 2-3 words. My favorite is when he says "Jude funny boy!" He loves to comment on the goings on around him, and especially loves to copy everything his sister says! He is a "go first, think later" type, which has lead to many bumps and bruises. He is also very independent and likes to attempt grand feats of height and complexity when climbing things! He is very affectionate and loves hugs from anyone but his sister. (But at bed time he'll tell her "night night sissy," and give her a very sweet hug and kiss!) He is obsessed with shoes! He loves to put his-or anyone else's-on and walk around the house. He also enjoys bringing you your shoes if you happen to leave them out. Also, he's wicked good with a spoon! This may seem like a silly thing to brag about, but he can eat just about everything with a fork or spoon. He even tries to put his grapes on a spoon and eat them! Claire wasn't even that good at 2! His favorite activities (if he can't climb anything) are to read, or to do puzzles. He has quite a bit more interest and patience in these activities than Claire did-or does now, for that matter! He knocks us out with his cuteness all the time! Seriously, look at that face!!
Truly, we feel so grateful for our sweet kids, our new house, our beautiful surroundings, and our supportive new community here! We send you our deepest affection, and hope to see our long distance friends/family soon whether you decide to vacation in lovely Colorado, or we catch up with you in CA when we come out for a wedding in August.
So, just when I was wishing I could fast forward through this week and be done with it all, I encounter one of life's little moments...
Last night I was sitting in Claire's room getting her ready for bed. We'd brushed her teeth, gotten her pjs on and picked out her night time stories. This was literally all I could muster. If I had to read the books, say the prayers, or sing the lullabies my throat would probably literally have fallen out. So, I was in her room sitting on the floor slumped against her bed waiting for Kevin to finish with Jude and come take over with Claire. (He's sick too, so he was in super-husband mode!) As I sat slumped over, Claire was being Claire. She's leaping over constructed obstacles, clambering across my knees, and spinning in circles-all the while talk-talk-talking. It was like an endless cacophony of movement and noise. Too much for my sick pregnant brain that, at this point, had not slept in two nights. (We're at three nights now, in case you're keeping score.)
Then, she suddenly stopped, came over to me, and put a hand on my shoulder. "I'm so sorry you're sick, Mamma. Here..." Then she leaned over and gingerly draped her arms around me. "This is all my love." She hugged me tenderly, then stepped back with her hand still on my shoulder and looked earnestly into my eyes. "I love you," she said. Then it was back to jumping and climbing and spinning and talking.
Just like that, a Kairos moment broke through my fog. And then I realized how much I would have given up had I skipped this seemingly grueling part of that night, this week, this time. Those moments are few, but they matter.
So, Jude has passed on the "Cold of Death" to Kevin and I. As I sit here in bed during nap time attempting to make up for my second sleepless night, I'm trying to decide which is worse: A 24 hour flu or the common cold.
I had the flu over Christmas. It was horrible. I basically was useless and in bed the whole time. Kevin was completely on his own and I really didn't see the kids for a whole day. If you're a mother of small children, you literally cannot do your job. But it is short. Sure, that time is spent reeling from fever and nausea, punctuated by periods of ralphing, but you're generally only going to lose one night's sleep.
With a cold, however, you never feel completely incapacitated. Just crumby for a day or two, then pretty miserable for a few days, then kinda crumby again for a few days. Then, there's the first night you can't sleep because your throat is so sore and swollen you can barely breathe. And the second night you can't sleep because your face is so congested it feels like a hippo is sitting on it. And when you do dose off you wake shortly because your tongue has turned into cardboard. So then you attempt to sleep sitting up to drain your sinuses...but who can sleep sitting up? And then there's the third night that you spend hacking and sputtering all night and end up moving to the couch so you don't wake the whole house up. So, a week of feeling sick, three nights with no sleep, but an ability to more or less complete your daily functions. Sure, you walk around in a fog, the TV's on a lot, and you feed the kids candy for lunch, but you're there. They may laugh at you when your croak out their bedtime song, and it's a miracle you're still standing at the end of the day, but it's no flu.
What do you think? Which is worse: Quick and dirty or long and drawn out?- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
I've been meaning to publish a post forever about Jude, but I have been distracted by life! In the last few months he has really grown up and changed quite a bit. He now talks a lot (not reaching epic Claire proportions, but still impressive for an almost 15 month old!)
He now does most all of the animal noises (except for some inexplicable reason he pants for a pig.) He will do the hand motions for "Happy and you Know it" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider." He can sign or say almost all the foods he likes to eat. He even combines a few words like "up please," "book please," etc. Also, my nerdy SLP side is impressed with how many final consonants he can say like: hot, help, book, please. He says at least 55 words (I stopped counting when I hit 55, but I'm sure he knows a few more that I couldn't think of) and just signs at least another 10-20 on top of that. It seems like he learns at least 2 new words a day, so it's really fun to listen to him talk now! My favorite new addition to his vocabulary is "tsi tsisy" for sissy. I think I had my expectations set a little low because Claire was so advanced with her language. Also because Jude is a boy, and a second child, I never wanted to compare his skills to hers and end up worrying unnecessarily. But as I sit down and catalogue everything he can do, I can see that he's doing great!
His favorite things to play with are books and the singing rocking horse he got for Christmas. He can read forever and ever. He will bring you book after book and plop on the ground so you can read it to him. Sometimes he just wants to turn the pages, but other times he'll get frustrated if you don't actually read the words to him. He loves to dance to music, and will activate his singing horse over and over just so he can bop along to the song (we've only had it since Christmas and he's already shorting out the music buttons and wearing down the batteries!)
His personality is also evolving, some for the cuter, some for the worse. He loves to give kisses, he says "hi" and "bye bye" to every person we pass in the store, and he adores his Sissy (except when she is taking his toys or pushing him off things, of course!) He is very stubborn, and will continue to touch things long after he knows they're off limits. And one disconcerting thing that has been around recently is quite a grouchy disposition. This manifests most unpleasantly in walking up to other children, screaming "No! and hitting them. This happens anytime another child enters the room. It's the first thing Jude does immediately after seeing them. So horrible! He's totally "the mean kid" at playdates! I know it's just a developmental phase...probably has something to do with marking his territory against challengers, or something animal planety like that. I've tried a few things, and have settled on a reminder to "be gentle," which seems to work about 80% of the time. Hopefully this will not last much longer, or friends will start to dread our company!
We love our little monkey boy and it's so exciting to get to know every little new thing about him!