Resentment Re-zen-did (get it? get it?!)

October 31, 2007

This article on resentment does a great job of articulating something I’ve been realizing  – that I often get all offended and pissed off and resentful towards people because I feel hurt – and that hurt wants validation and confirmation – and I’m mad because no one is giving it to me – when I could just give it to myself.

I bring this up here because I find myself in inner contention with other mothers – often. Sometimes, it’s just that you’re having one of those Annoying Playground Conversations that’s all about compare and contrast – and no matter how relaxed you are, someone else is more so; or maybe you’re too relaxed, and everyone else is hypersensitive and overqualified – but whatever the mix, you are finding that, as a parent and a person, you don’t measure up, you don’t bond, you don’t make the grade – and this is just because no one is really an expert, we’re all just tossing out stories and examples and anecdotes, tripping up over each other’s anxieties and phobias and fears… often coming across as caustic and critical. (A lot like some of our moms…)

There’s a few people in particular who tend to put me down or trounce any positive effort I put forth, and I find myself grinding my teeth in bitterness, feeling frustrated that I can’t just scream out my victimhood and get some kind of justice or relief.

That angry reaction feels more like a “strong” one than the more realistic version, which includes acknowledging how lonely it can be sometimes to be a human being.

I should be posting pictures of pumpkins or ranting about the lack of cool Halloween music at the downtown mall festivities last Saturday (why were they playing “hey baby” music???), but instead, I feel more like unmasking my ghouls, not parading around in the various costumes I hide behind to protect myself from the pain of living.

And that’s some scary stuff sometimes…


There’s Still A Drought; I’m Old; So I Ate Ice Cream

October 30, 2007

Happy Monday! Here’s some links/thoughts from me, in between my boughts of crying at everything:

1) There’s still a drought. All that rain, but the levels are still too low – so keep it mellow yellow, people. It’s a great excuse for me for why my child hasn’t had a bath in almost a week – I’m saving the planet! Not avoiding her temper tantrums, no…

2) I listened to the Obama speech on CPN and realized I am an Old Person. He is very idealistic and energetic and, while I agree that Africa should be rid of its diseases and Darfur needs to be at peace and college should be affordable, I’m sorry, Barak, but you’re not going to do it all. It’s very sweet of you to say you will. But I’m too embittered about politicians to give credence to your ambition…

aplaying.jpg3)  My mom saw a picture of me jumping up and down on a bed with my daughter and accused me of being a playmate and not a mom for my daughter.

I got really, really angry and defensive, but I wrote her back instead of just complaining to friends. I see this as growth.

By the way, I love playing with my daughter. What else am I going to do? Yell at her? Ignore her? Arggghhh.

4) We watched some Sesame Street songs on youtube last night during dinner (dad was recording Obama). Brings back memories. I highly recommend this as a way to limit TV and advertising for your child – plus you get to select what you watch! Alice Cooper singing with the muppets was too scary, though – for me, I mean…

5) I finished up the evening by eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Fudge ice cream. The entire thing. So there to all the blogs and books and doctors who think I should be eating a few peanuts and raisins to supplement this giant basketball that’s taking over my body.

6) Alert: Myth debunked!: Turns out that when advisers say “Don’t sleep on your back, pregnant women, because you’ll lose your blood supply and kill the baby” THEY’RE WRONG. At least, they are according to my ob doctor today. He said LABORING on your back is hurtful, but not sleeping while pregnant. THANK THE GODDESS! Because that’s how I end up sleeping every night, whether I like it or not. Yay! I think I’m going to stop reading everything but more Ian Mckewan novels till the birth…

So, there you have it – and again, Happy Monday!

Wait a second- I just realized – it’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday!!! Oh my gosh, I am truly losing my mind!

My Bad Mood Continues

October 26, 2007

Dana Perino thinks global warming might have health benefits:

“But it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals,” she added. “I’m not an expert.”

Not an expert? THEN SHUT UP.

Seriously – stop talking.

Global warming does not mean we all get to live in Florida year-round, ozone layers going away doesn’t mean instant tanning… please, please, please tell me this is a joke…

E-mail Etiquette: I beg of you, use some

October 26, 2007

It’s 2007, and there are still people out there for whom the Internet is a passing phase and e-mail in the same league as folded-up notes passed during junior high algebra.

At least, that’s what I am imagining, because frankly, when people don’t reply to e-mails, say, within 24-48 hours, I don’t have a lot of options on what to conclude, other than:

1) the person is rude, hates my guts, doesn’t have time for me

2) the person is unavailable due to emergency of some kind (power outage, vacation, death)

3) techncial glitch: this person didn’t get the e-mail at all – may require another e-mail, a phone call…?

So, I’m left staring at my inbox, wondering, which is it? What could it possibly be? Is this person okay? Did I offend? What’s wrong?

“Too busy” doesn’t work here. E-mail is too instant for that. Too busy to write back and say “I’m too busy to look at this and respond adequately – I’ll get back to you soon” – an effort that takes a few seconds of your time –  is too busy to be included in my life.

“Too flaky” also doesn’t work. Perhaps I am being unfair. For instance, I am chronically late – late at arriving to events, late with birthday cards, slow at picking up on subtle hints given off by the opposite sex, etc. People who are close to me and know me forgive this lateness of mine. Not so my mother. She holds every second a birthday or mother’s day card is late against me. And I can understand. She’s from a different era, when the promptness of physical mail served as an expression of respect and extension of familial feeling – every letter a reflection of the amount of regard residing in a person’s heart. For her, my flakiness is an excuse to be rude, not a personal glitch she’ll have to live with.

Well, like mother, like daughter: daughter of the digital age. I don’t care if you call me or write me on time or in time – but e-mail avoidance or neglect amounts to personal insult, whatever your intentions or lack of intentions might be. I am not going to hunt you down. Unless you are the victim of #2 or #3, I am not going to let it go, either. I am going to assume you are in category #1 unless you tell me otherwise.

Sound bitchy? It is. But I’m just sick of people not returning e-mails. Am I missing something??? Let me know.

Satisfying Pregnancy? Times Have Changed

October 23, 2007

Reading this article about how Pitocin-induced pregnancies and c-section deliveries – both on the rise – are not really considered appropriate practices – well, it disturbs me. My baby was 2 weeks late, and after Pitocin and almost 24 hours of painful labor, I had a c-section – and yes, I was disappointed that I didn’t go through “the real thing.” The article’s title asks if the reader was satisfied with the birth of her child. Did I want a c-section? No. Did I want a natural birth? Yes. Am I, like most women, in the position of feeling slightly screwed by the whole thing? Sure.

But, despite my disappointment about the c-section, my answer about whether I’m satisfied with the birth of my daughter is a hearty YES. Why? Because my child arrived safely, I survived and recovered fully, and in the end, that’s all I wanted – a healthy and happy end result.

I’m aware and bothered that this lawsuit-triggered reaction by doctors to err on the side of caution by taking over the birth process shifts the power from the woman to the doctor. And I believe it would be great if we all maintained control of our bodies and the act of birth, as women did in the golden past. (The past past the 50s, of course,when they just blacked out for a while and let the doctors do everything.)

But here’s the thing – there’s some significant differences between the way we procreate now vs. in pre-industrial age eras – or even in the first half of the 20th century. One is that, as a woman, I no longer spend the majority of my adult years pregnant or trying to get pregnant, popping out a brood between 5 and 10 children. Instead, I control how many kids I have preemptively, focusing on one or two (to speak of myself as representing the typical majority of American females in my class).  My great-grandmother had seven or eight kids – and while I’m sure the couple she lost along the way broke her heart, their loss wasn’t considered especially unusual or tragic back in the 1920s. Nowadays, losing a child, either by miscarriage or at birth or after – is a much bigger loss, because we generally have fewer, and our time spent on procreating is much smaller. We don’t spend two or more decades dedicated to spawning – some of us even wait till after age 30 to get going, reducing the open window of opportunity for doing so…

Because of this shift from large families to small, because of the change in focus from a broad swath of time to a smaller, targeted few years, our need for the survival of each child has increased. At least, that is my contention. I am less willing to risk a VBAC, for instance, than I would have been 100 years ago, because I can’t afford the risk. 60% of VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) attempts are successful – pretty good odds. But my desire for a ‘natural’ birth experience is greatly overwhelmed by my desire for a successful one – if I didn’t have a choice, if I was my great-grandmother, that would be one thing. But the fact that I do have a choice, that natural childbirth is elective, the fact that I don’t have a lot more time to have more kids – well, it adds up to me agreeing, along with the majority of doctors, to ‘err on the safe side.’

I know that people who read this post who are advocates for natural birth and midwives and the like will have plenty of stats to prove that doctors and hospitals performing deliveries do not comprise the safest or the best choice, that women having babies is not an illness that needs to be treated by a doctor, etc. – and I will agree with them, absolutely. And I hope that women continue to give birth naturally. I really do. Science interfering with our natural processes scares the crap out of me. I am philosophically opposed to the technical encroachment upon our biological rights.

However, philosophy disappears when it comes to a baby – at least it did for me. So, yes, in the end, I don’t care about the means, as long as my child is healthy and safe and unhurt in the process. I may have missed out on the power of the vaginal birth experience – but weighed against the experience of being a mother to my daughter? I don’t feel I’m missing a thing.

the Myth of Work-Life Balance

October 22, 2007

I love this – just read it on Babble:

Like the rest of us with very young children, Working Dad has discovered that chaos is more in play than order or balance.  because of this, most parents would be well-advised to surrender idealized notions of work-family balance in favor of something softer and more covered in spaghetti: real life with small kids.

I heartily agree, though I wonder if it’s “real life” all the time, not just with young kids – though they make it all very, very real. You have to be a Taoist – you have to go with the flow – even though it crashes and splashes, even when it boringly pools into stagnation of repetition… because when you try to make your children conform to some – heck, conform period – to some schedule, some template of moderation, when you try to fit your own needs and life into healthily established slices of time – 15 minutes of yoga, 15 minutes in the bathroom, 15 minutes of sex, 15 minutes of personal nose- picking – yes, well, it’s not going to happen. And, when you do try it, it’s not going to be 15 pure minutes of whatever you’ve slated to do. You know that.

So yeah – things are mushy – the kid falls asleep on time and you are gifted an extra half-hour to write – you take it. You wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep – so you get to read your bedside book in private – you take it. You lose those precious minutes of possibly being alone with your husband – you let it go. You laugh and move on. And the next day, you scramble home for forty minutes together in bed during lunch.

And this is how you survive. You stay in the present, and you listen to your kids, you listen to your body, you pay attention to your needs, and you meet them as you can while knowing that it will all be imperfect, partial, messy, less than fabulous, less than balanced. But once you let go of some ideal about how it should be if only, or how it could be if only (blaming yourself, your job, your spouse, your kids, your culture, your dog, whatever) –  well, then you’re actually living in your crazy, beautiful life – instead of denying and hating it, wishing it were something else. And wow – actually living it free of those expectations is so much better – and so much more fun – than you would think…

I’m not saying you always have to relish the sleep deprivation or not go partially insane because you need time to yourself – I’m not saying that this is the surefire way to avoid feeling caught between two demanding monsters of work and family – crushing you like that scene in Star Wars when the trash compactor is threatening to do in our heroes – no, I’m just saying that giving ourselves as working parents the space and compassion to not be in control and to not have perfect balance is probably going to do more to help us cope than constantly struggling with and against the challenging moments of our lives.

She said, sleepily…

Hoos Brews vs. Cville Coffee

October 22, 2007

Speaking from a working mother’s perspective, of course.

Cville Coffee – has a giant turtle.

Hoos Brews – does not have a giant turtle, but an outdoor seating area where, presumably, one might find a turtle. Or an ant, more likely.

Cville Coffee – good coffees and baked goods, expensive

Hoos Brews – good coffees and baked goods, MUCH less expensive – brownie for 50 cents? Are you kidding me? Awesome!

Cville Coffee – doesn’t take credit / debit cards, only cash or checks = pain in the butt if you haven’t been to an atm, if you have run out of cash, if you have switched to cards instead of cash or checks

Hoos Brews – takes credit/debit cards but not checks = awesome – hello 21st century!

Cville Coffee – wireless

Hoose Brews – wireless

Cville Coffee – children’s play area, which is not roped off so the kids go running through the rest of the place, while, oddly, the adult section IS gated – and yes, the adults stay put

Hoos Brews – children’s size and priced ice cream – $1.00 for a cup – yum good and just enough!

Cville Coffee – not a bad location – near 250 and Circa and downtown mall
Hoos Brews – also not a bad location – near 64 (and my house!)

Cville Coffee – offers lunch, dinner, beer

Hoos Brews – soup, bagels – but great ice cream

Cville Coffee – crowded parking

Hoos Brews – still unknown!

Cville Coffee – books, nice decor

Hoos Brews – ugly UVA colors

I like both places. I’m getting a little sick of how run down and chaotic the children’s area tends to be – I have found much more calm, quality time with my daughter at Hoos Brews recently. I also like the prices better. But nothing beats the big turtle.