31 January 2009
30 January 2009
Dear sisters, let us stop ticking each other off. When you find you must complain about one of your innumerable proportional problems, only complain to a woman with precisely the same problem. To a woman with the opposite problem, your complaints about your problem, regardless of how deeply problematic that problem is, are extremely annoying.
(Please, no specific complaints in the comments unless they correspond precisely to my own at the moment when I will read them.)
28 January 2009
What labors teaches you is that you actually can do things you think there is seriously no bleeping way you can possibly do. One intended meaning, many applications. ;)
*less a few birthin' machines like my sister.
27 January 2009
I like Anne Bradstreet. When her husband felt called to do Stuff on the other side of the ocean, she packed up and went with the dude, exchanging a cozily predictable existence in England for adventures unknown in the Wild New World. She somehow managed to pull off being a genuine writer while also being the mother of eight.
There are in fact many reasons to like Anne Bradstreet, and one of my favorites is the way she flummoxes the feminist critics: She was the First Real American Poet! A Woman! Wo-man! HOOAH! But wait a minute…what’s this? She wrote all this stuff about her husband and her kids, like she was actually….fulfilled…by that slavish domestic stuff. Poor oppressed thing didn’t know any better! Sounds like she might’ve even believed her husband to be her head?! Oh! Now what do we do with her? Wait—look at this—I believe this here is subversive! Yes, subversive! One of our very favorite literary terms! In fact one of our only literary terms!
And so on, as they co-opt her for their cause. But I digress. Gauntlets’ Penelope post tangentially put me in mind of Bradstreet’s “A Letter to Her Husband, Absent Upon Public Employment.” So I thought I might as well put you in mind of it too. If freshman English is but a distant door down the crowded corridors of your mind, go read it again. You can even feel subversive if you want.
26 January 2009
I daresay this is why the children spend their afternoons with faces glued to windowpanes, watching for Dad. :D Even on our especially pleasant days, they do this. I can’t blame them; I do the same. My kitchen window looks across a blank parking lot at his office door. I save my dish washing for the hour in which he finishes work so I can watch that door—so that I might enjoy the thrill of seeing it open, of seeing our hero emerge from his long day’s journey to make that short, remarkable trip home.
Where is that guy, anyway?
And when he comes in what joy he brings with him, what order, what peace! Thanks, Dad, for being so great we can’t any of us stand to be away from you.
25 January 2009
Happy Birthday to you, babies, and thanks for giving your moms a chance every year to think, That day, I did something that mattered.
22 January 2009
There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.
Another of his classics that's fun to recite when one is feeling a bit . . . scattered, or when the kids are complaining about a change of plans:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...
21 January 2009
20 January 2009
However, I usually wear my baby when out and about. Strollers just don’t do it for me, and bare-arming leaves a little one too exposed to well-meaning but germy, touchy, kissy people (“I’ll just GIVE ME THAT BABY RIGHT NOW while you go and fill your plate. . .”). I appreciate the protection and security of a sling, but I have yet to find a product that lives up to its promises.
My search has evolved over the years, thus:
After 15 minutes in the pack, mom and baby are ready to eat one another
With my second, I tried the Nojo—a big step up from the front pack. Yet, the Nojo was a lot of fabric and padding for one person to heft, especially come summer time. And it placed all of the baby’s weight on one lone trapezius; after about hour of wear I couldn’t use the corresponding fingers and my face would go numb from the jaw clenching. Very embarrassing.
At -25 degrees, mom is thrilled to be wearing a crib mattress
So with my third, I looked for a nicer fit and less fabric. I found a little cargo sling and liked it more than the Nojo. If I can’t find anything better before this next baby is (DV) born I’ll likely default to this guy. Still, the cargo sling is really only good for the first couple of months, and it, too, ends up being pretty painful after about an hour.
She makes it look so easy . . .
Advise me girls. This is my hour of need. :D
After browsing about a bit, I found two possible improvements: Sleepy Wrap and Babyhawk. The Sleepy Wrap looks so sensible and is reasonably priced. I like the idea of being able to spread the fabric out over both shoulders to distribute the baby’s weight, and I like the option of switching between different holds. But I’m skeevy about all that fabric; it gets pretty hot around these here parts. And as I need to wear the baby to church I want something less conspicuous.
As for the Babyhawk, it just looks cool. ;) I’ve also had people tell me it’s terribly comfortable, easy to handle, easy to nurse in, and whatnot. Its biggest plus factor is its size. Its biggest downer is its price.
What do you think? Have any recommendations? Please?
I’ll even offer up a prize: if I take your recommendation, I’ll send you a full-color, autographed picture of someone else wearing her own baby in that particular product. Yeah? Oh, yeah.
19 January 2009
Forgiveness requires us to love a person more than the heinous pleasure we derive from holding that person's sin against him. If we do not love that person more, we must yet forgive, for God demands it of the forgiven. So to forgive is to learn to love, and to love is--among us, for now--to forgive.
16 January 2009
The way this post would be expected to go is, "Golly, I'm so busy! These dear little people just always need me! I don't have time to myself!" And that is the truth, but not the whole truth.
I think that a while back I said something about time for prayer and devotion not occurring naturally in my day. The key word there is naturally. I am usually awakened by a kid in the morning, I no longer have a naptime when everybody is down, and there is always one young enough to need fairly close supervision even when the baby is napping. So from baby up to baby down, I cannot go into my room and close the door.
So that leaves from baby down to baby up, aka the time I look forward to all day. The time I don't want to give up. The time I want to SLEEP! The time I want to spend with my beloved husband whom I adore. The time I want to read a book and watch a movie and draft some posts. The time I want to slouch and play, not the other thing.
Well. If it doesn't come naturally, I have to make it or take it. Here's a breakdown.
What you should be doing you lazy slob: Get out of bed 20 minutes early, or even better, 30*. Have you ever regretted it, self? It has an added bonus of getting me up and productive in general.
--If Dad has an evening meeting, attend to personal prayer and devotion as soon as kids are in bed. Do not go downstairs. Do not read one chapter first. This isn't a good option because if I've already put it off all day, what's another half hour? And then another? Bad discipline, at least for me. There was a great Luther meditation on this in TDP a week or so back.
--If the evening won't be free and the kids can eat semi-unattended, attend to personal prayer and devotion in the next room while they eat lunch. This requires my attention to be more divided, so I don't like it much either.
--If I've got a nurser in the house, I can attend to prayer and devotion during a session that I can usually count on to be long and quiet, such as early morning or bedtime. I don't like multitasking personal piety, but nursing is about as innocuous an additional task as you can ask for, and it's better than skipping it altogether. And then again, these times are exceptionally peaceful and unhurried, and sleepy babies love it when you aren't in a rush to put them down.
--Sneak upstairs when Dad is home. They've never missed me in any catastrophic way.
--If it isn't working out, formally ask Dad to go on duty for 20-30 minutes. I don't like to do this. I have a hangup about asking Dad to go on duty since I feel like it's really my job. I know I should have gotten out of bed and he's taking the fall for it if I didn't.
--And I'm not allowed to read anything in a day until I've read Scripture and/or a meditation on Scripture.
(Too bad I'm the one enforcing all this.)
The worst is postpartum, and it's compounded by the fact that pregnancy is usually the time when I'm most faithful in attending to prayer because it's the closest we ever get to not having an actual baby in the house, and I can never sleep. Insomnia is great for piety, ha ha ha. Anyway, I come home from the hospital feeling the need for prayer more than ever and having almost zero opportunity for it. I miss prayer so much after I've really been in the habit, and my heart is always brimming with thanks for my new baby and having been safely delivered, but I'm too exhausted and fall asleep if left unattended for more than three seconds. Then four months later I emerge from the baby hole and have to figure this out all over again. Flesh, you're beyond lame.
Give me an O!
Give me an R-T-I-F-Y!
Mortify, Mortify, MOR TI FY!!!
*Yes, mothers are tired. I've mentioned it myself. On the other hand . . . so is everyone else. The only time mothers really are more tired than most other people is postpartum (until the baby sort of learns to sleep) and when someone is sick or otherwise experiences major sleep disturbances. It's true that most people don't ever have to get up in the middle of the night. But barring the exceptions listed above, that usually isn't a terribly big deal either. If people who work regular jobs can find or make time to say their prayers every day, so can we.
Lots of fine scribblers out there, so we'll just pass it on to these five today:
Curry, we love it when you post!
Kelly, are you still out there?
Pam, please continue teaching us everything you know
Father Rick, we wish when we thought out loud it made so much sense
Cheryl, a Lutheran literata
Do that award thing. You know, with the links and all.
15 January 2009
Having Confessed, by Patrick Kavanagh
Having confessed he feels
That he should go down on his knees and pray
For forgiveness for his pride, for having
Dared to view his soul from the outside.
Lie at the heart of the emotion, time
Has its own work to do. We must not anticipate
Or awaken for a moment. God cannot catch us
Unless we stay in the unconscious room
Of our hearts. We must be nothing,
Nothing that God may make us something.
We must not touch the immortal material
We must not daydream to-morrow's judgment—
God must be allowed to surprise us.
We have sinned, sinned like Lucifer
By this anticipation. Let us lie down again
Deep in anonymous humility and God
May find us worthy material for His hand.
There's much to say about this, but the babies are all screaming at the moment so I'll just let you draw your own conclusions.
In the meantime, a reminder:
O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? --Percy Bysshe Shelley ;)
Scissors up some snowflakes (icicles for the less competent) and brainstorm (brainblizzard) winter words to write on them. Turn children loose with scotch tape to hone interior design skills.
Fill the tub with kids, scrub brushes, and Duplos (or the veggies that need to be washed for supper tonight :D ).
Check your watch. Belatedly remember resolving not to check your watch.
Get out the cheapo white paper plates (run over to church and steal some if you don’t have any). Punch holes, weave yarn, get out your maps, and create murals depicting what people in [warm region of your choice] are doing right now.
Check weather again. Yup. Sheol is still proverbially polar-capped. No hope of getting out.
Rearrange the furniture. Particularly useful if you have a creeper/crawler/cruiser who’s into everything. Make him a nice corral and email a picture of him in it to the grandparents. Maybe they’ll get the hint and plan a visit ;-)
Call relatives who are living or visiting in The South. Realize that this is not necessarily helpful, because 1) when they don’t pick up you begin to imagine them at the beach, unable to hear the phone over the sounds of the surf, and 2) the sight of the phone in your hand triggers the kids’ Rotten Reflex.
Use warm soapy rag-socks to scrub the walls and cabinets. Something might get cleaner, or else they’ll wander off to occupy themselves. Either way, you win.
Give them plastic knives to cut bananas for their peanut butter sandwiches. Throw nutrition to the gusting wind and let them put mini marshmallows on the sandwich too. Justify it as a counting exercise.
Begin weeping in earnest when you realize that it’s only 1:00--The Time Formerly Used for Naps.
Abandon the monsters to their own devices, get online, and post all of your brilliant ideas here to inspire the rest of us. Please.
14 January 2009
(He hastened to add that he was speaking only in generalities, for neither time nor gravity could lessen the perennial loveliness of his own bride in his eyes.)
Of course he’s right. The smooth-skinned Cosmo look we’re coached to pursue at all costs is startlingly fleeting. (Not so startling for those of us who remember how quickly we wither.) We’ve all seen the difference between the dignity of aging gracefully and the pathos of clinging desperately to an illusive, elusive covergirl rating.
Hmmm…respected for my battle scars by people I love or ogled by people I don’t even know? When I’m 70, what will I (DV) be carrying in my wallet and insisting on showing you: pictures of my grandkids, or a faded photo of my vain, lonely self in the swimsuit that by then has long gone the way of all flesh anyway?
There you have it. Not terribly profound nor deeply theological—but what’s the alternative, girls?
13 January 2009
We can pray? When we can, we are more than content. But there are times when we cannot; at least, we cannot attempt sustained prayer. We are often unhappily conscious that we are believed to be praying more than we truly are. For we cannot gather our thoughts to pray; they scatter like a flock of goats on an Indian road which has neither hedge nor ditch, and we cannot run after them.
Can someone solve this problem for me?
12 January 2009
Novices: Newly married women living as Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition who have not yet become pregnant.
Temporarily Avowed: Married women living as a Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition who lie awake at night.
Professed: Pam, Heidi, Karin, Dort, LaRena, Linda, Lauri, etc.
Secular Oblates: Married women who are living as Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition but haven't really talked to their husbands about it. May withdraw at any time, what with the wild card husband.
Regular Oblates: De facto Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition who aren't quite sure why. While they may have never formally professed CSPP, they seem to be living as such. A regular oblate of CSPP probably has a husband who is on board but hasn't bothered to spell that out for her benefit.
First Class: Novices to whom God does not give a child. They may assume this designation at whatever time they deem appropriate.
Second But Not Dishonorable Class: Married women who cannot live as Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition but wish they could.
This needs to be a widget. Does anyone know how to build one? Or maybe we'll just have to settle for t-shirt. Maternity t-shirt. With nursing openings.
My doctor and I just had a little talk. Accordingly, I'm feeling rebellious, so I'm cooling it with Cool Whip. Bowls of it. That's right. And I'm not even hungry.
10 January 2009
I grasp at straws of progress on this front. BoyOne often remembers to hold the door (just long enough so that it catches my hip instead of my nose). And upon hearing of a social engagement that was to his liking, he immediately volunteered, “I’m going to bring all my manners. I’m going to bring one hundred of them.” His little brother added, emphatically, that he was going to bring TWO manners. In his pocket.
They get better, right? Right???
09 January 2009
08 January 2009
Or another tack is to point out how demeaning perpetual parturition is to women. What are they, breeder sows? Aren't they good for anything else? Who are you Zinjanthropoi who keep impregnating your wives? My wife is so lucky to have married someone who respects her!
How clever. What a marvelous life of freedom you've won for your wife! She can work and support your golf habit! You'll have to go out to restaurants since she won't have time to cook things you don't like that much! She won't have any excuse for turning you off by being chubby! You won't have trouble finding or affording a babysitter for your socially acceptable number of children! If only my own husband were so enlightened, I could be putting in applications at fast food joints right now as my youngest child's first birthday approaches.
From Father Rolf: "To assert the headship of man while deliberately disconnecting it from the blessing of the fruitful womb is pure male chauvinism." It's a selfish abuse of power for Christian men to encourage women out of their vocation rather than in it. Such talk makes motherhood sound like a nothing but a degrading, dangerous, excruciating humiliation to be endured as rarely as possible. Leave the farrowing to those bulky stupid chicks who apparently can't feel pain or boredom.
Whenever I hear a man bemoaning the plight of women suffering under the hypothetical yoke of fertility-span childbearing, or scorning it as debasing to women, I must mortify my foot's uncharitable desires. You want to cry, dude, or show off your bioethical sensitivity? Try talking to someone who with God's help defied her fear and pride, and by God's grace proved her self-doubt wrong. Ask a real mother of seven about her real scars, instead of dreaming up trials that some rhetorical woman might face if she got pregnant again. See how much your tears and broad-mindedness mean to a person who's done what you imagine to be so horrible. My guess is that she'd rather have your praise, and an hour to herself while you play with the kids--which she'll probably use for indulgent pursuits like saying her prayers and then washing the dishes with no one howling into her pants leg. Spare us the speeches and make yourself useful for once.
Poor, fragile, oppressed women, both too weak and too good for the work for which our bodies were designed! Thank goodness we have men around to save us from it. Can I get you a drink, dreamboat?
06 January 2009
Not out of the woods yet? Out of the woods only to find yourself squishing about in the Slough of Despond? You’re not alone. Others are there too. Better yet: others have been there, have gotten out, and have brought with them a word from the Master that can lighten your way, even help you find the way out. You who are seeking His will and His Word: your suffering—inane or mundane though it may seem—does have a purpose. And maybe you can reach back and haul along the girl who’s still a few steps behind you.
I’m eternally grateful, for instance, that Rebekah didn’t brush me off like the hopeless whining idiot I was (am) back in the day when I started asking her all my clueless first-time mom questions, even though her 18 month head start on me in this CSPP business had already put her in a different league. And that she and Gauntlets still put up with me so graciously, even though by now I should know and be oh so much better. And that y’all in blogdom share your thoughts and your stories too, both here and over at your own places.
Ok; this warm fuzzy is ending already. But it’s COLD n’west of nowhere lately, y’know? Thinking warm thoughts helps. :)
“At that moment this came: ‘See in it a chance to die.’ The word was spoken inwardly, but it was far more clearly heard than many a word addressed to the outward ear. See in it—in this provoking, in this that should not have been—a chance to die to self and the pride of self, to that in you which would strike in self-defence. See in anything that rouses you to claim your ‘rights,’ even to see them or to consider them at all, see in it a chance to die. Welcome anything that calls you to your only true position, ‘I am crucified with Christ’” (87).
The first provoking of this morning: the two-year-old "forgot" to make timely use of the proper receptacle for solid human waste. "Welcome" wasn't exactly the first word that came to my mind. Good thing there's still a lot of 2009 left. :P
05 January 2009
A hazard of being a housewife is that you're concerned with household nutrition and read magazines underwritten by advertisers. After a few minutes with Martha Stewart Living or even Better Homes and Gardens, you're suddenly asking why Aldi doesn't carry Greek yogurt and blood oranges and edamame and spelt.
Then factor in The Leftovers. I'm not talking about yours. I'm talking about that stack of bleached refined flour pancakes that came over from the church breakfast or a post-potluck troughload of 100% prefab ingredient mostaccioli. Am I going to toss all that food in the trash because my family is too elite to eat it?
I'm concerned about health, but by golly, we have to live within our means. The occasional infusion of pancakus vulgaris isn't going to kill anyone, and a free meal is a big deal when you're feeding a lot of people. My grocery budget just can't rock out with a food snob or "health" snob shopping list. Once you're moving through six+ gallons of milk a week, you start thinking pretty hard about whether you're going to pay $14 or $30 for it. Maybe we're just lucky that we don't make up the difference in doctor's visits and prescriptions, or maybe somebody has a vested interest in convincing people that they need to pay $3.49/lb for peaches in the middle of peach season.
The good news is that being home allows you the time to negotiate an agreeable middle road. Our potatoes will never be from Urban Haute Foodery* or even Petite Bourgeois 'N Save, but they're not from a box either. Everybody loves to talk about the sacrifices the poor pastor's family makes. Well, amaranth is a privilege, not a right. Set your heart on things above, and your table with what you can afford, which probably won't be that hard on your heart anyway if you put some time into it.
*Don't sweat it. By not shopping at Whole Foods, you won't be bankrolling employee abortions covered by the company's health insurance provisions. Also, did you know that this bastion of enlightened liberalism won't allow its workers to unionize? :D
03 January 2009
I'm shy. I usually use a blanket cover and/or a nursing top when I'm going to be feeding out and about. If I'm with people with low nursing exposure or tolerance, I find a private room. But I operate this way because that's my personality, not because I think it's the right way to do it. I'm not worried about offending someone, I'm worried about someone offending me by not giving me the space I prefer (all it takes is one ogling redneck in a mid-Missouri Taco Bell parking lot to send me diving for cover). I fall into that category of females who don't cruise locker rooms in skivvies or less. Or publicize photos of herself feeding her kid. Or take such photos in the first place. I digress.
Some girls just aren't shy and don't take the extra coverage/sequesterage measures that I do. They aren't trying to make a political statement with their matter-of-fact feedings any more than I am with my mummy approach. They're just living their lives, and I don't have a problem with it. I think it sets a good example by normalizing breastfeeding. In pondering this topic, I realized I'd rather have my kids see a mom nursing not-so-discreetly in real life than a Victoria's Secret billboard. Why? Because one is meretricious, and the other isn't. Seeing breastfeeding helps my kids, boys and girls, contextualize female anatomy appropriately.
Disrobing to make a political statement is tactless. An unclothed person is distracting to any other person, regardless of the sexes of either of them, so there are always some discretionary measures to be taken (take the tassel off the pastie for t-ball games). But it's ridiculous to get ticked off at mothers for not wanting to feed their little sweatlings under blankets on an 85 degree day when all the other women in sight are exhibiting endowments of varying merits in halter tops. Why should we let Victoria's Secret win and concede all our mammary goodness to the pervs? And by the way, your husband isn't looking. He's too embarrassed. See? The system works!
My personal suspicion is that women who are offended by other women breastfeeding are those who, for whatever reason, haven't breastfed for any amount of time. Breastfeeding weirded me out until I was always doing it. You can't be weirded out by your own way of life.
So I defend my freedom to nurse on the sly, although the lactivists may call me a sellout. And I salute the moms out there who aren't as inhibited. Represent away.